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Neoclassical Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Economists as Fifth Column of Financial Oligarchy

There is no economics, only political economy, stupid

News Casino Capitalism Recommended Links Bookshelf Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich Number racket Neoliberalism 101: 12 best articles on neoliberalism Economism and abuse of economic theory in American politics
Supply Side or Trickle down economics Invisible Hand Hypothesys Efficient Market Hypothesis Monetarism fiasco Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy Hyman Minsky Samuelson's bastard Keynesianism Greenspan as the Chairman of Financial Politburo
In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers GDP as a false measure of a country economic output Mathiness Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult Think Tanks Enablers Twelve apostles of deregulation Bill Clinton, the founder of "Vichy left"
Free Market Fundamentalism Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market Lawrence Summers Corruption of Regulators Glass-Steagall repeal Small government smoke screen Rational expectations scam Free Markets Newspeak
The Iron Law of Oligarchy The Deep State Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few Introduction to Lysenkoism Republican Economic Policy Libertarian Philosophy    
John Kenneth Galbraith     History of Casino Capitalism Casino Capitalism Dictionary :-) Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite Humor Etc
Is it really necessary for every economist to be brain-dead apologist for the rich and powerful and predatory, in every damn breath?

Bruce Wilder in comments to Clash of Autonomy and Interdependence

Smith briskly takes a sledgehammer to any number of plaster saints cluttering up the edifice of modern economics:

"assumptions that are patently ridiculous: that individuals are rational and utility-maximizing (which has become such a slippery notion as to be meaningless), that buyers and sellers have perfect information, that there are no transaction costs, that capital flows freely"

And then...papers with cooked figures, economists oblivious to speculative factors driving oil prices, travesty versions of Keynes's ideas that airbrush out its most characteristic features in the name of mathematical tractability.

And then...any number of grand-sounding theoretical constructs: the Arrow-Debreu theorem, the Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium model, the Black-Scholes option model, Value at Risk, CAPM, the Gaussian copula, that only work under blatantly unrealistic assumptions that go by high falutin' names - equilibrium, ergodicity, and so on.

The outcome of this pseudo-scientific botching is an imposing corpus of pretentious quackery that somehow elevates unregulated "free markets" into the sole mechanism for distribution of the spoils of economic activity. We are supposed to believe that by some alchemical process, maximum indulgence of human greed results in maximum prosperity for all. That's unfair to alchemy: compared with the threadbare scientific underpinnings of this economic dogma, alchemy is a model of rigor.

How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism

How many others are being paid for punditry? Or has the culture of corruption spread so far that the question is, Who isn't?

PAUL KRUGMAN, NYT, December 19, 2005

"MIT and Wharton and University of Chicago created the financial engineering instruments which, like Samson and Delilah, blinded every CEO. They didn't realize the kind of leverage they were doing and they didn't understand when they were really creating a real profit or a fictitious one."

Paul Samuelson


Introduction

When you see this "neoclassical" gallery of expensive intellectual prostitutes (sorry, respectable priests of a dominant religion) that pretend to be professors of economics in various prominent universities, it is difficult not to say "It's political economy stupid". Those lackeys of ruling elite are just handing microphone bought by financial oligarchy.  Here is am Amazon.com review of  ECONned How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism eBook Yves Smith that  states this position well:

kievite:
Neoclassical economics as a universal door opener for financial oligarchy

There are many good reviews of the book published already and I don't want to repeat them. But I think there is one aspect of the book that was not well covered in the published reviews and which I think is tremendously important and makes the book a class of its own: the use of neoclassical economics as a universal door opener for financial oligarchy. I hope that the term "econned" will became a new word in English language.

Neoclassical economics has become the modern religion with its own priests, sacred texts and a scheme of salvation. It was a successful attempt to legitimize the unlimited rule of financial oligarchy by using quasi-mathematical, oversimplified and detached for reality models. The net result is a new brand of theology, which proved to be pretty powerful in influencing people and capturing governments("cognitive regulatory capture"). Like Marxism, neoclassical economics is a triumph of ideology over science. It was much more profitable though: those who were the most successful in driving this Trojan horse into the gates were remunerated on the level of Wall Street traders.

Economics is essentially a political science. And politics is about perception. Neo-classical economics is all about manipulating the perception in such a way as to untie hands of banking elite to plunder the country (and get some cramps from the table for themselves). Yves contributed to our understanding how "These F#@king Guys" as Jon Steward defined them, economics professors from Chicago, Harvard, Columbia, Princeton and some other places warmed by flow of money from banks for specific services provided managed to serve as a fifth column helping Wall Street to plunder the country. The rhetorical question that a special counsel to the U.S. Army, Joseph Welch, asked Senator McCarthy: "Have you no sense of decency?" applies.

The main effect of neoclassical economics is elevating unregulated ( "free" in neoclassic economics speak) markets into the key mechanism for distribution of the results of economic activity with banks as all-powerful middlemen and sedating any opposition with pseudo-mathematical mumbo-jumbo. Complexity was used as a powerful smoke screen to conceal greed and incompetence. As a result financial giants were able to loot almost all sectors of economics with impunity and without any remorse, not unlike the brutal conquerors in Middle Ages.

The key to the success of this nationwide looting is that people should be brainwashed/indoctrinated to believe that by some alchemical process, maximum level of greed results in maximum prosperity for all. Collapse of the USSR helped in this respect driving the message home: look how the alternative ended, when in reality the USSR was a neo-feudal society. But the exquisite irony here is that Bolsheviks-style ideological brainwashing was applied very successfully to the large part of the US population (especially student population) using neo-classical economics instead of Marxism (which by-and-large was also a pseudo-religious economic theory with slightly different priests and the plan of salvation ;-). The application of badly constructed mathematical models proved to be a powerful tool for distorting reality in a certain, desirable for financial elite direction. One of the many definitions of Ponzi Scheme is "transfer liabilities to unwilling others." The use of detached from reality mathematical models fits this definition pretty well.

The key idea here is that neoclassical economists are not and never have been scientists: much like Marxist economists they always were just high priests of a dangerous cult -- neoliberalism -- and they are more then eager to stretch the truth for the benefit of the sect (and indirectly to their own benefit). All-in-all this is not unlike Lysenkoism: state support was and still is here, it is just working more subtly via ostracism, without open repressions. Look at Shiller story on p.9.

I think that one of lasting insights provided by Econned is the demonstration how the US society was taken hostage by the ideological views of the neoclassical economic school that has dominated the field at least for 30 or may be even 50 years. And that this ideological coup d'état was initiated and financed by banking establishment who was a puppeteer behind the curtain. This is not unlike the capture of Russia by Bolsheviks supported by German intelligence services (and Bolshevics rule lasted slightly longer -- 65 years). Bolsheviks were just adherents of similar wrapped in the mantle of economic theory religious cult, abeit more dangerous and destructive for the people of Russia then neoclassical economics is for the people of the USA. Quoting Marx we can say "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce".

That also means that there is no easy way out of the current situation. Ideologies are sticky and can lead to the collapse of society rather then peaceful evolution.

So it's no surprise that there is a strong evidence that neo-classical economics is not a science, it's a political ideology of financial oligarchy masquerading as science. Or a religious cult, if you wish.

So it's no surprise that there is a strong evidence that neo-classical economics is not a science, it's a political ideology of financial oligarchy masquerading as science. Or a religious cult, if you wish.

The cult which served as a Trojan horse for bankers to grab power and wealth by robbing fellow Americans. In a way this is a classic story of a parasite killing the host. The powers that be in academia put their imprimatur on economic ‘theory,’ select and indoctrinate its high priests to teach it, and with a host of media players grinding out arguments pro and con this and that, provide legitimacy sufficient for cover of bankers objectives. Which control the disposition and annuity streams of pension fund assets and related financial services. In his new documentary Inside Job, filmmaker Charles Ferguson provides strong evidence of a systematic mass corruption of economic profession (Yahoo! Finance):

Ferguson points to 20 years of deregulation, rampant greed (a la Gordon Gekko) and cronyism. This cronyism is in large part due to a revolving door between not only Wall Street and Washington, but also the incestuous relationship between Wall Street, Washington and academia.

The conflicts of interest that arise when academics take on roles outside of education are largely unspoken, but a very big problem. “The academic economics discipline has been very heavily penetrated by the financial services industry,” Ferguson tells Aaron in the accompanying clip. “Many prominent academics now actually make the majority of their money from the financial services industry, not from teaching or research. [This fact] has definitely compromised the research work and the policy advice that we get from academia.”

... ... ...

Feguson is astonished by the lack of regulation demanding financial disclosure of all academics and is now pushing for it. “At a minimum, federal law should require public disclosure of all outside income that is in any way related to professors’ publishing and policy advocacy,” he writes. “It may be desirable to go even further, and to limit the total size of outside income that potentially generates conflicts of interest.”

The dismantling of economic schools that favor financial oligarchy interests over real research (and prosecuting academic criminals -- many prominent professors in Chicago, Harvard, Columbia and other prominent members of neo-classical economic church) require a new funding model. As neoliberalism itself, the neoclassical economy is very sticky. Chances for success of any reform in the current environment are slim to non existent.

Here is one apt quote from Zero Hedge discussion of Gonzalo Lira article On The Identity Of The False Religion Behind The Mask Of Economic Science zero hedge

"They analyze data for Christ sakes"

Just like Mishkin analyzed Iceland for $120k? a huge proportion in US [are] on Fed payroll, or beneficiaries of corporate thinktank cash; they are coverup lipstick and makeup; hacks for hire.

Like truth-trashing mortgage pushers, credit raters, CDO CDS market manipulators and bribe-fueled fraud enablers of all stripes -- they do it for the dough -- and because everybody else is doing it.

It's now a common understanding that "These F#@king Guys" as Jon Steward defined them, professors  of neoclassical economics from Chicago, Harvard and some other places are warmed by flow of money from financial services industries for specific services provided managed to serve as a fifth column helping financial oligarchy to destroy the country. This role of neo-classical economists as the fifth column of financial oligarchy is an interesting research topic. Just don't expect any grants for it ;-).

As Reinhold Niebuhr aptly noted in his classic Moral Man and Immoral Society
Since inequalities of privilege are greater than could possibly be defended rationally, the intelligence of privileged groups is usually applied to the task of inventing specious proofs for the theory that universal values spring from, and that general interests are served by, the special privileges which they hold.

I would like to stress it again: they are not and never have been scientists: they are just high priests of dangerous cult -- neoliberalism -- and they are more then eager to stretch the truth for the sect (and that means their own) benefits. Fifth column of financial oligarchy. All-in-all this is not unlike Lysenkoism: at some point state support became obvious as financial oligarchy gained significant share of government power (as Glass-Steagall repeal signified). It is just more subtle working via ostracism and flow of funding, without open repressions. See also Politicization of science and The Republican War on Science

Like Russia with Bolsheviks, the US society was taken hostage by the ideological views of the Chicago economic school that has dominated the field for approximately 50 years ( as minimum over 30 years). Actually the situation not unlike the situation with Lysenkoism is the USSR. It's pretty notable that the USA suffered 30 years of this farce, actually approximately the same amount of time the USSR scientific community suffered from Lysenkoism (1934-1965)

Rules of disclosure of sources of financing for economic research are non-existent


"Over the past 30 years, the economics profession—in economics departments, and in business, public policy, and law schools—has become so compromised by conflicts of interest that it now functions almost as a support group for financial services and other industries whose profits depend heavily on government policy.

The route to the 2008 financial crisis, and the economic problems that still plague us, runs straight through the economics discipline. And it's due not just to ideology; it's also about straightforward, old-fashioned money."

Peter Dormat noticed amazing similarity between medical researchers taking money from drug companies and economists. In case of medical researchers widespread corruption can at least be partially kept in check by rules of disclosure. Universities are being called out for their failure to disclose to public agencies the other, private grants researchers are pulling in. This is not perfect policing as the universities themselves get a cut of the proceeds, so that the conflict of interest exists but at least this is theirs too.

But there is no corresponding policy for economics. So for them there are not even rules to be broken. And this is not a bug, this is  feature.  In a sense corruption is officially institualized and expected in economics. Being a paid shill is the typical career of many professional economists. Some foundations require an acknowledgment in the published research they support, but that's all about “thank you”, not disclaimer about the level of influence of those who pay for the music exert on the selection of the tune. Any disclosure of other, privately-interested funding sources by economists is strictly voluntary, and in practice seldom occurs. Trade researchers can be funded by foreign governments or business associations and so on and so forth.

In this atmosphere pseudo-theories have currency and are attractive to economists who want to enrich themselves. That situation is rarely reflected in mainstream press. For example, there some superficial critiques of neo-classical economics as a new form of Lysenkoism (it enjoyed the support of the state) but MSM usually frame the meltdown of neo-classical economic theory something like "To all you corrupt jerks out there: shake off the old camouflage as it became too visible and find a new way misleading the masses...". At the same time it's a real shocker, what a bunch of toxic theories and ideologies starting from Reagan have done to the US economy.

That suggests that neo-economics such as Milton Friedman (and lower level patsies like Eugene Fama ) were just paid propagandists of a superficial, uninformed, and simplistic view of the world that was convenient to the ruling elite. While this is somewhat simplistic explanation, it's by-and-large true and that was one of the factors led the USA very close to the cliff... Most of their theories is not only just nonsense for any trained Ph.D level mathematician or computer scientist, they look like nonsense to any person with a college degree, who looks at them with a fresh, unprejudiced mind. There are several economic myths, popularized by well paid propagandists over the last thirty years, that are falling hard in the recent series of financial crises: the efficient market hypothesis, the inherent benefits of globalization from the natural equilibrium of national competitive advantages, and the infallibility of unfettered greed as a ideal method of managing and organizing human social behavior and maximizing national production.

I would suggest that and economic theory has a strong political-economic dimension. The cult of markets, ideological subservience and manipulation, etc. certainly are part of neo-classical economics that was influenced by underling political agenda this pseudo-theory promotes. As pdavidsonutk wrote: July 16, 2009 16:14

Keynes noted that "classical theorists resemble Euclidean geometers in a non Euclidean world who, discovering that in experience straight lines apparently parallel often meet, rebuke the lines for not keeping straight --as the only remedy for the unfortunate collisions. Yet in truth there is no remedy except to throw over the axiom of parallels to work out a non-Euclidean geometry. SOMETHING SIMILAR IS REQUIRED IN ECONOMICS TODAY. " [Emphasis added]

As I pointed out in my 2007 book JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES (Mentioned in this ECONOMIST article as a biography "of the master") Keynes threw over three classical axioms: (1) the neutral money axiom (2) the gross substitution axiom, and (3) the ergodic axiom.

The latter is most important for understanding why modern macroeconomics is dwelling in an Euclidean economics world rather than the non-Euclidean economics Keynes set forth.

The Ergodic axiom asserts that the future is merely the statistical shadow of the past so that if one develops a probability distribution using historical data, the same probability distribution will govern all future events till the end of time!! Thus in this Euclidean economics there is no uncertainty about the future only probabilistic risk that can reduce the future to actuarial certainty! In such a world rational people and firms know (with actuarial certainty) their intertemporal budget constrains and optimize -- so that there can never be an loan defaults, insolvencies, or bankruptcies.

Keynes argued that important economic decisions involved nonergodic processes, so that the future could NOT be forecasted on the basis of past statistical probability results -- and therefore certain human institutions had to be develop0ed as part of the law of contracts to permit people to make crucial decisions regarding a future that they "knew" they could not know and still sleep at night. When the future seems very uncertain, then rational people in a nonergodic world would decide not to make any decisions to commit their real resources -- but instead save via liquid assets so they could make decisions another day when the future seemed to them less uncertain.

All this is developed and the policy implications derived in my JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES (2007) book. Furthermore this nonergodic model is applied to the current financial and economic crisis and its solution in my 2009 book THE KEYNES SOLUTION: THE PATH TO GLOBAL PROSPERITY (Palgrave/Macmillan) where I tell the reader what Keynes would have written regarding today's domestic crisis in each nation and its international aspects.

Paul Davidson ghaliban wrote:

July 16, 2009 15:34

I think you could have written a shorter article to make your point about the dismal state of economics theory and practice, and saved space to think more imaginatively about ways to reform.

A bit like biology, economics must become econology - a study of real economic systems. It must give up its physics-envy. This on its own will lead its practitioners closer to the truth.

Like biological systems, economic systems are complex, and often exhibit emergent properties that cannot be predicted from the analysis of component parts. The best way to deal with this is (as in biology) to start with the basic organizational unit of analysis - the individual, and then study how the individual makes economic decisions in larger and larger groups (family/community), and how groups take economic decisions within larger and larger forms of economic organization. From this, econologists should determine whether there are any enduring patterns in how aggregate economic decisions are taken. If there are no easily discernable patterns, and aggregate decisions cannot be predicted from a knowledge of individual decision-making preferences, then the theory must rely (as it does in biology) on computer simulations with the economy replicated in as much detail as possible to limit the scope for modeling error. This path will illuminate the "physiology" of different economies.

A second area of development must look into "anatomy" - the connections between actors within the financial system, the connections between economic actors within the real economy, and the connections between the real and financial economies. What are the precise links demand and supply links between these groups, and how does money really flow through the economic system? A finer knowledge of economic anatomy will make it easier to produce better computer simulations of the economy, which will make it a bit easier to study economic physiology.

"Markets uber alles" or more correctly "Financial oligarchy uber alles"

In her interview What Exactly Is Neoliberalism  Wendy Brown advanced some Professor Wolin ideas to a new level and provide explanation why "neoclassical crooks" like Professor  Frederic Mishkin (of Financial Stability in Iceland fame) still rule the economics departments of the USA. They are instrumental in giving legitimacy to the neoliberal rule favoured by the financial oligarchy:

"... I treat neoliberalism as a governing rationality through which everything is "economized" and in a very specific way: human beings become market actors and nothing but, every field of activity is seen as a market, and every entity (whether public or private, whether person, business, or state) is governed as a firm. Importantly, this is not simply a matter of extending commodification and monetization everywhere-that's the old Marxist depiction of capital's transformation of everyday life. Neoliberalism construes even non-wealth generating spheres-such as learning, dating, or exercising-in market terms, submits them to market metrics, and governs them with market techniques and practices. Above all, it casts people as human capital who must constantly tend to their own present and future value. ..."

"... The most common criticisms of neoliberalism, regarded solely as economic policy rather than as the broader phenomenon of a governing rationality, are that it generates and legitimates extreme inequalities of wealth and life conditions; that it leads to increasingly precarious and disposable populations; that it produces an unprecedented intimacy between capital (especially finance capital) and states, and thus permits domination of political life by capital; that it generates crass and even unethical commercialization of things rightly protected from markets, for example, babies, human organs, or endangered species or wilderness; that it privatizes public goods and thus eliminates shared and egalitarian access to them; and that it subjects states, societies, and individuals to the volatility and havoc of unregulated financial markets. ..."

"... with the neoliberal revolution that homo politicus is finally vanquished as a fundamental feature of being human and of democracy. Democracy requires that citizens be modestly oriented toward self-rule, not simply value enhancement, and that we understand our freedom as resting in such self-rule, not simply in market conduct. When this dimension of being human is extinguished, it takes with it the necessary energies, practices, and culture of democracy, as well as its very intelligibility. ..."

"... For most Marxists, neoliberalism emerges in the 1970s in response to capitalism's falling rate of profit; the shift of global economic gravity to OPEC, Asia, and other sites outside the West; and the dilution of class power generated by unions, redistributive welfare states, large and lazy corporations, and the expectations generated by educated democracies. From this perspective, neoliberalism is simply capitalism on steroids: a state and IMF-backed consolidation of class power aimed at releasing capital from regulatory and national constraints, and defanging all forms of popular solidarities, especially labor. ..."

"... The grains of truth in this analysis don't get at the fundamental transformation of social, cultural, and individual life brought about by neoliberal reason. They don't get at the ways that public institutions and services have not merely been outsourced but thoroughly recast as private goods for individual investment or consumption. And they don't get at the wholesale remaking of workplaces, schools, social life, and individuals. For that story, one has to track the dissemination of neoliberal economization through neoliberalism as a governing form of reason, not just a power grab by capital. There are many vehicles of this dissemination -- law, culture, and above all, the novel political-administrative form we have come to call governance. It is through governance practices that business models and metrics come to irrigate every crevice of society, circulating from investment banks to schools, from corporations to universities, from public agencies to the individual. It is through the replacement of democratic terms of law, participation, and justice with idioms of benchmarks, objectives, and buy-ins that governance dismantles democratic life while appearing only to instill it with "best practices." ..."

"... Progressives generally disparage Citizens United for having flooded the American electoral process with corporate money on the basis of tortured First Amendment reasoning that treats corporations as persons. However, a careful reading of the majority decision also reveals precisely the thoroughgoing economization of the terms and practices of democracy we have been talking about. In the majority opinion, electoral campaigns are cast as "political marketplaces," just as ideas are cast as freely circulating in a market where the only potential interference arises from restrictions on producers and consumers of ideas-who may speak and who may listen or judge. Thus, Justice Kennedy's insistence on the fundamental neoliberal principle that these marketplaces should be unregulated paves the way for overturning a century of campaign finance law aimed at modestly restricting the power of money in politics. Moreover, in the decision, political speech itself is rendered as a kind of capital right, functioning largely to advance the position of its bearer, whether that bearer is human capital, corporate capital, or finance capital. This understanding of political speech replaces the idea of democratic political speech as a vital (if potentially monopolizable and corruptible) medium for public deliberation and persuasion. ..."

"... My point was that democracy is really reduced to a whisper in the Euro-Atlantic nations today. Even Alan Greenspan says that elections don't much matter much because, "thanks to globalization . . . the world is governed by market forces," not elected representatives. ..."

 


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I find an attempt to elevate academic finance and economics to sciences by using the word "scientism" to be bizarre. Finance models like CAPM, Black-Scholes and VAR all rest on assumptions that are demonstrably false, such as rational investors and continuous markets.

May 11, 2012 at 1-40 pm

[May 24, 2020] As its own infrastructure has been laid waste by the COLLASSAL MONEY PIT that is the Pentagon, its flagrant use of the most valuable energy commodity, oil, to maintain some 4000 bases worldwide, this rickety over-extended upside down version of old Anglo-Dutch trading empires, will finally collapse

Kissinger laid out the transition plan in 2014 in his WSJ Op-Ed: Henry Kissinger on the Assembly of a New World Order . USA Deep State are not the complete idiots that some want to make them seem.
China is still very vulnerable and the USA has multiple levers to force it to suffer.
May 24, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
Kurt Zumdieck , May 22 2020 18:24 utc | 4
If Washington lured the Soviet Union into it's demise in Afghanistan, which left that minor empire in shambles - socially, militarily, economically - it was the nuclear conflagration at Chernobyl that put the corpse in the ground.....

(Watch the GREAT HBO five-part tragedy on it and you will see that the brutally heroic response of the Soviets, that saved the Western World at least temporarily, but is the portrait of self-sacrifice)

What was lost in the Soviets fumbling immediate post-explosion cover-up was the trust of their Eastern European satellite countries. That doomed that empire. So much military might was given up in Afghanistan, then on Chernobyl, it was not clear if the Soviets had the wherewithal to put down the rebellions that spread from Czechoslovakia to East Germany and beyond.

Covid-19 will do the same to the American Empire.

As its own infrastructure has been laid waste by the COLLASSAL MONEY PIT that is the Pentagon, its flagrant use of the most valuable energy commodity, oil, to maintain some 4000 bases worldwide, this rickety over-extended upside down version of old Anglo-Dutch trading empires, will finally collapse.

Loss of trust by the many craven satellites, in America's fractured response, to Covid-19 will put the final nail in its coffin.

A hot-shooting War may come next, but the empire cannot win it.


William Gruff , May 23 2020 14:25 utc | 79

"I will believe my eyes." --oldhippie @76

It would be nice if that were so, but it is very unlikely.

"So tired of reading propaganda."

Is that why you regurgitate it onto forums? Kinda like purging the system, eh?

If you are going to be judging China's economic health by their pollution levels then in the future you will find yourself convinced that they have never recovered, even when it becomes inescapably obvious that they have. The fact is that China's pollution levels are never going back to 2019 levels, but that has nothing to do with their economic health.

It really never ceases to amaze me how deeply rooted and pervasive the delusions and sense of exceptionality is in America. It is woven into the thinking, from the lowest levels to the very top of their thoughts, of even the very most intelligent Americans. It is apparently a phenomenon that operates at an even deeper level than mass media brainwashing, as it seems it was just as much a problem in every empire in history. That is, I am sure citizens of the Roman Empire had the same blinding biases embedded deep below their consciousness. I guess Marx was entirely correct to say that consciousness arises from material conditions, and being citizen of an empire must be one of those material conditions that gives rise to this all-pervasive and unconscious sense of exceptionality.

oldhippie , May 23 2020 11:47 utc | 71
Go over to EOSDIS Worldview and take a look at satellite photos of China. Simple toggle in lower left hand corner will take you to photos of same day, earlier years. Or any day in satellite record.

The skies over China are clear. Chinese industry is not back at work. It may be that China at 50% or even at 20% is a manufacturing powerhouse compared to a crumbling US. But until China is back at work the thread so far is about the historical situation six months ago.

Xi used to do elaborately staged state appearances with well planned camera angles, fabulous lighting, pomp and circumstance. He enjoyed the trappings of power and knew how to use the trappings of power. Hasn't done that kind of state appearance since January.

Paul , May 23 2020 12:47 utc | 72
The Empire has no respect for international agreements, laws or anything that interferes with maintaining US global hegemony.
lizzie dw , May 23 2020 12:55 utc | 73
China and the US are so different. The citizens of China cannot vote. The population's movements are micromanaged by the government. This is not the case here (yet). And I hope it is never the case. I agree with the premise that there are those in our government who are living in a dream of the past and that is over, unless we want to destroy the world. But China's government is so repressive. The rules must be obeyed. We seem to be compliant so far of some of our government officials stepping over the bounds allowed by our Constitution, due to the fear of C-19 engendered by the deep state (aka the bsmsm). But we will not do that forever and our government cannot just start shooting big crowds of us as they can and have done in China. Theirs is all top down rule, which is not the case here. Also, although it is probably heretical to say this I am glad that the US has many cases of C-19. We will eventually get herd immunity. IMO, China can lock down as many millions of citizens as they wish; they cannot stop this virus and as time goes by they will have as many deaths and as many cases as everybody else. Well, that is off the topic of the article. In the end I agree that we are fighting weird battles we can never win and we citizens need to keep informing our government employees that we just want to trade and make money, not threaten companies and countries and lose money.

[May 24, 2020] Unable to communicate in Arabic and with no relevant experience or appropriate educational training

Highly recommended!
I wouldn't hold my breath for the slightest change in that status quo any time soon.
May 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

anonymous [400] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment May 23, 2020 at 12:34 pm GMT

Unable to communicate in Arabic and with no relevant experience or appropriate educational training

Seems rather typical of those making policy, not knowing much about the area they're assigned to. If a person did know Arabic and had an understanding of the culture they wouldn't get hired as they'd be viewed with suspicion, suspected of being sympathetic to Middle Easterners. How and why these neocons can come back into government is puzzling and one wonders who within the establishment is backing them. Judging by the quotes her father certainly seems deranged and not someone to be allowed anywhere near any policy making positions.
Flynn also seems to be a dolt what with his 'worldwide war against radical Islam'. Someone should clue him in that much of this radical Islam has been created and stoked by the US who hyped up radical Islam, recruiting and arming them to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. Bin Laden was there, remember? Flynn, a general, is unaware of this? Islamic jihadists are America's Foreign Legion and have been used all over the Muslim world, most recently in Syria. Does this portend war with Iran? Possibly, but perhaps Trump wouldn't want to go it alone but would want the financial support of other countries. They've probably war-gamed it to death and found it to be a loser.

[May 23, 2020] Neoliberal ideology is often presented as a natural state. This deception is a central feature of neoliberalism, acting as a way of abdicating responsibility for harmful and selfish actions of financial oligarchy, and to prevent challenges to the financial oligarchy rule and debt slavery

May 23, 2020 | discussion.theguardian.com

hartebeest , 10 Apr 2019 18:42

Back in the Thatcher/Reagan years there were at people around who genuinely believed in the superiority of the market, or at least, made the effort to set out an intellectual case for it.

Now we're in a different era. After 2008, hardly anyone really believes in neoliberal ideas anymore, not to the point that they'd openly make the case for them anyway. But while different visions have appeared to some extent on both left and right, most of those in positions of power and influence have so internalised Thatcher's 'there is no alternative' that it's beyond their political horizons to treat any alternatives which do emerge as serious propositions, let alone come up with their own.

So neoliberalism stumbles on almost as a reflex action. Ben Fine calls it a 'zombie' but I think the better analogy is cannibalism. Unlike the privatisations of the 80s and 90s there's barely any pretence these days that new sell-offs are anything more than simply part of a quest to find new avenues for profit-making in an economy with tons of liquid capital but not enough places to profitability put it. Because structurally speaking most of the economy is tapped out.

Privatising public services at this point is just a way to asset strip and/or funnel public revenue streams to a private sector which has been stuck in neoliberal short-term, low skill, low productivity, low wage, high debt mode for so long that it has lost the ability to grow. So now it is eating itself, or at least eating the structures which hold it up and allow it to survive.

Apomorph -> GeorgeMonbiot , 10 Apr 2019 18:19
Right-wing ideology is often presented as a natural state and not ideological at all. This denial is a central feature, acting as a way of abdicating responsibility for harmful and selfish actions and providing means of fostering intellectual suspicion to prevent challenges or structured and coherent critiques like your own. The right engenders coalitions of people disinterested in politics and distrustful of politicians with those who feel intellectually superior but see politics as an amoral game in the pursuit of "enlightened" self-interest.

As a result, everything about it is disingenous. There is no alternative (that we want you to choose). It's not racist to (constantly, always negatively and to the expense of everything else) talk about immigration. Cutting taxes for the rich reduces inequality (because we change the criteria to exclude the richest from the calculations). This is also because there are dualities at play. Neoliberalism relies on immigration to increase worker competition and suppress wage demand but courts the xenophobic vote (which is why even with reduced EU migration Brexit has so far increased overall immigration and would continue to do so in the event of no deal or May's deal). Both Remainers and Leavers have accused the other of being a neoliberal project, and in certain aspects -because of these dualities - both sides are correct.

I also believe the disdain for "political correctness" is somewhat a result of neoliberalism, since marketisation is so fundamental to the project and the wedge of the market is advertising, the language of bullshit and manipulation. People railing against political correctness feel judged for their automatic thoughts that they identify as natural instead of culturally determined. Behavioural advertising encourages these thoughts and suppresses consideration. It is a recipe for resentment.

[May 23, 2020] Who are serfs

Money quote: ""Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd." -- that's definition of a serf -- a neoliberal serf
I feel a lot of people just use the term neoliberalism as a term of a specific abuse of labor via debt slavery. .
May 23, 2020 | discussion.theguardian.com

TenTribesofTexas , 11 Apr 2019 01:15

2 simple points that epitomize neo liberalism.

1. Hayek's book 'The Road to Serfdom' uses an erroneous metaphor. He argues that if we allow gov regulation, services and spending to continue then we will end up serfs. However, serfs are basically the indentured or slave labourers of private citizens and landowners not of the state. Only in a system of private capital can there be serfs. Neo liberalism creates serfs not a public system.

2. According to Hayek all regulation on business should be eliminated and only labour should be regulated to make it cheap and contain it so that private investors can have their returns guaranteed. Hence the purpose of the state is to pass laws to suppress workers.

These two things illustrate neo-liberalism. Deception and repression of labour.

marshwren , 10 Apr 2019 22:29
As a matter of semantics, neo-liberalism delivered on the promise of freedom...for capitalists to be free of ethical accountability, social responsibility, and government regulation and taxes. And people can't understand why i'm a socialist.

[May 23, 2020] Neoliberalism promised freedom instead it delivers stifling control by George Monbiot

Highly recommended!
From comments: " neoliberalism to be a techno-economic order of control, requiring a state apparatus to enforce wholly artificial directives. Also, the work of recent critics of data markets such as Shoshana Zuboff has shown capitalism to be evolving into a totalitarian system of control through cybernetic data aggregation."
"... By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced. ..."
"... Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence. ..."
"... Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control. ..."
"... Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself. ..."
Notable quotes:
"... By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced. ..."
"... Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence. ..."
"... Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control. ..."
"... Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself. ..."
"... The other point to be made is that the return of fundamentalist nationalism is arguably a radicalized form of neoliberalism. ..."
"... Therefore, neoliberal hegemony can only be perpetuated with authoritarian, nationalist ideologies and an order of market feudalism. In other words, neoliberalism's authoritarian orientations, previously effaced beneath discourses of egalitarian free-enterprise, become overt. ..."
"... The market is no longer an enabler of private enterprise, but something more like a medieval religion, conferring ultimate authority on a demagogue. Individual entrepreneurs collectivise into a 'people' serving a market which has become synonymous with nationhood. ..."
Apr 10, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

Thousands of people march through London to protest against underfunding and privatisation of the NHS. Photograph: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Images M y life was saved last year by the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, through a skilful procedure to remove a cancer from my body . Now I will need another operation, to remove my jaw from the floor. I've just learned what was happening at the hospital while I was being treated. On the surface, it ran smoothly. Underneath, unknown to me, was fury and tumult. Many of the staff had objected to a decision by the National Health Service to privatise the hospital's cancer scanning . They complained that the scanners the private company was offering were less sensitive than the hospital's own machines. Privatisation, they said, would put patients at risk. In response, as the Guardian revealed last week , NHS England threatened to sue the hospital for libel if its staff continued to criticise the decision.

The dominant system of political thought in this country, which produced both the creeping privatisation of public health services and this astonishing attempt to stifle free speech, promised to save us from dehumanising bureaucracy. By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced.

Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence.

Much of the theory behind these transformations arises from the work of Ludwig von Mises. In his book Bureaucracy , published in 1944, he argued that there could be no accommodation between capitalism and socialism. The creation of the National Health Service in the UK, the New Deal in the US and other experiments in social democracy would lead inexorably to the bureaucratic totalitarianism of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

He recognised that some state bureaucracy was inevitable; there were certain functions that could not be discharged without it. But unless the role of the state is minimised – confined to defence, security, taxation, customs and not much else – workers would be reduced to cogs "in a vast bureaucratic machine", deprived of initiative and free will.

By contrast, those who labour within an "unhampered capitalist system" are "free men", whose liberty is guaranteed by "an economic democracy in which every penny gives a right to vote". He forgot to add that some people, in his capitalist utopia, have more votes than others. And those votes become a source of power.

His ideas, alongside the writings of Friedrich Hayek , Milton Friedman and other neoliberal thinkers, have been applied in this country by Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron, Theresa May and, to an alarming extent, Tony Blair. All of those have attempted to privatise or marketise public services in the name of freedom and efficiency, but they keep hitting the same snag: democracy. People want essential services to remain public, and they are right to do so.

If you hand public services to private companies, either you create a private monopoly, which can use its dominance to extract wealth and shape the system to serve its own needs – or you introduce competition, creating an incoherent, fragmented service characterised by the institutional failure you can see every day on our railways. We're not idiots, even if we are treated as such. We know what the profit motive does to public services.

So successive governments decided that if they could not privatise our core services outright, they would subject them to "market discipline". Von Mises repeatedly warned against this approach. "No reform could transform a public office into a sort of private enterprise," he cautioned. The value of public administration "cannot be expressed in terms of money". "Government efficiency and industrial efficiency are entirely different things."

"Intellectual work cannot be measured and valued by mechanical devices." "You cannot 'measure' a doctor according to the time he employs in examining one case." They ignored his warnings.

Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control.

Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself.

Its perversities afflict all public services. Schools teach to the test , depriving children of a rounded and useful education. Hospitals manipulate waiting times, shuffling patients from one list to another. Police forces ignore some crimes, reclassify others, and persuade suspects to admit to extra offences to improve their statistics . Universities urge their researchers to write quick and superficial papers , instead of deep monographs, to maximise their scores under the research excellence framework.

As a result, public services become highly inefficient for an obvious reason: the destruction of staff morale. Skilled people, including surgeons whose training costs hundreds of thousands of pounds, resign or retire early because of the stress and misery the system causes. The leakage of talent is a far greater waste than any inefficiencies this quantomania claims to address.

New extremes in the surveillance and control of workers are not, of course, confined to the public sector. Amazon has patented a wristband that can track workers' movements and detect the slightest deviation from protocol. Technologies are used to monitor peoples' keystrokes, language, moods and tone of voice. Some companies have begun to experiment with the micro-chipping of their staff . As the philosopher Byung-Chul Han points out , neoliberal work practices, epitomised by the gig economy, that reclassifies workers as independent contractors, internalise exploitation. "Everyone is a self-exploiting worker in their own enterprise."

The freedom we were promised turns out to be freedom for capital , gained at the expense of human liberty. The system neoliberalism has created is a bureaucracy that tends towards absolutism, produced in the public services by managers mimicking corporate executives, imposing inappropriate and self-defeating efficiency measures, and in the private sector by subjection to faceless technologies that can brook no argument or complaint.

Attempts to resist are met by ever more extreme methods, such as the threatened lawsuit at the Churchill Hospital. Such instruments of control crush autonomy and creativity. It is true that the Soviet bureaucracy von Mises rightly denounced reduced its workers to subjugated drones. But the system his disciples have created is heading the same way.

George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist


Pinkie123 , 12 Apr 2019 03:23

The other point to be made is that the return of fundamentalist nationalism is arguably a radicalized form of neoliberalism. If 'free markets' of enterprising individuals have been tested to destruction, then capitalism is unable to articulate an ideology with which to legitimise itself.

Therefore, neoliberal hegemony can only be perpetuated with authoritarian, nationalist ideologies and an order of market feudalism. In other words, neoliberalism's authoritarian orientations, previously effaced beneath discourses of egalitarian free-enterprise, become overt.

The market is no longer an enabler of private enterprise, but something more like a medieval religion, conferring ultimate authority on a demagogue. Individual entrepreneurs collectivise into a 'people' serving a market which has become synonymous with nationhood.

A corporate state emerges, free of the regulatory fetters of democracy. The final restriction on the market - democracy itself - is removed. There then is no separate market and state, just a totalitarian market state.

glisson , 12 Apr 2019 00:10
This is the best piece of writing on neoliberalism I have ever seen. Look, 'what is in general good and probably most importantly what is in the future good'. Why are we collectively not viewing everything that way? Surely those thoughts should drive us all?
economicalternative -> Pinkie123 , 11 Apr 2019 21:33
Pinkie123: So good to read your understandings of neoliberalism. The political project is the imposition of the all seeing all knowing 'market' on all aspects of human life. This version of the market is an 'information processor'. Speaking of the different idea of the laissez-faire version of market/non market areas and the function of the night watchman state are you aware there are different neoliberalisms? The EU for example runs on the version called 'ordoliberalism'. I understand that this still sees some areas of society as separate from 'the market'?
economicalternative -> ADamnSmith2016 , 11 Apr 2019 21:01
ADamnSmith: Philip Mirowski has discussed this 'under the radar' aspect of neoliberalism. How to impose 'the market' on human affairs - best not to be to explicit about what you are doing. Only recently has some knowledge about the actual neoliberal project been appearing. Most people think of neoliberalism as 'making the rich richer' - just a ramped up version of capitalism. That's how the left has thought of it and they have been ineffective in stopping its implementation.
economicalternative , 11 Apr 2019 20:42
Finally. A writer who can talk about neoliberalism as NOT being a retro version of classical laissez faire liberalism. It is about imposing "The Market" as the sole arbiter of Truth on us all.
Only the 'Market' knows what is true in life - no need for 'democracy' or 'education'. Neoliberals believe - unlike classical liberals with their view of people as rational individuals acting in their own self-interest - people are inherently 'unreliable', stupid. Only entrepreneurs - those close to the market - can know 'the truth' about anything. To succeed we all need to take our cues in life from what the market tells us. Neoliberalism is not about a 'small state'. The state is repurposed to impose the 'all knowing' market on everyone and everything. That is neoliberalism's political project. It is ultimately not about 'economics'.
Pinkie123 , 11 Apr 2019 13:27
The left have been entirely wrong to believe that neoliberalism is a mobilisation of anarchic, 'free' markets. It never was so. Only a few more acute thinkers on the left (Jacques Ranciere, Foucault, Deleuze and, more recently, Mark Fisher, Wendy Brown, Will Davies and David Graeber) have understood neoliberalism to be a techno-economic order of control, requiring a state apparatus to enforce wholly artificial directives. Also, the work of recent critics of data markets such as Shoshana Zuboff has shown capitalism to be evolving into a totalitarian system of control through cybernetic data aggregation.


Only in theory is neoliberalism a form of laissez-faire. Neoliberalism is not a case of the state saying, as it were: 'OK everyone, we'll impose some very broad legal parameters, so we'll make sure the police will turn up if someone breaks into your house; but otherwise we'll hang back and let you do what you want'. Hayek is perfectly clear that a strong state is required to force people to act according to market logic. If left to their own devices, they might collectivise, think up dangerous utopian ideologies, and the next thing you know there would be socialism. This the paradox of neoliberalism as an intellectual critique of government: a socialist state can only be prohibited with an equally strong state. That is, neoliberals are not opposed to a state as such, but to a specifically centrally-planned state based on principles of social justice - a state which, to Hayek's mind, could only end in t totalitarianism. Because concepts of social justice are expressed in language, neoliberals are suspicious of linguistic concepts, regarding them as politically dangerous. Their preference has always been for numbers. Hence, market bureaucracy aims for the quantification of all values - translating the entirety of social reality into metrics, data, objectively measurable price signals. Numbers are safe. The laws of numbers never change. Numbers do not lead to revolutions. Hence, all the audit, performance review and tick-boxing that has been enforced into public institutions serves to render them forever subservient to numerical (market) logic. However, because social institutions are not measurable, attempts to make them so become increasingly mystical and absurd. Administrators manage data that has no relation to reality. Quantitatively unmeasurable things - like happiness or success - are measured, with absurd results.

It should be understood (and I speak above all as a critic of neoliberalism) that neoliberal ideology is not merely a system of class power, but an entire metaphysic, a way of understanding the world that has an emotional hold over people. For any ideology to universalize itself, it must be based on some very powerful ideas. Hayek and Von Mises were Jewish fugitives of Nazism, living through the worst horrors of twentieth-century totalitarianism. There are passages of Hayek's that describe a world operating according to the rules of a benign abstract system that make it sound rather lovely. To understand neoliberalism, we must see that it has an appeal.

However, there is no perfect order of price signals. People do not simply act according to economic self-interest. Therefore, neoliberalism is a utopian political project like any other, requiring the brute power of the state to enforce ideological tenets. With tragic irony, the neoliberal order eventually becomes not dissimilar to the totalitarian regimes that Hayek railed against.

manolito22 -> MrJoe , 11 Apr 2019 08:14
Nationalised rail in the UK was under-funded and 'set up to fail' in its latter phase to make privatisation seem like an attractive prospect. I have travelled by train under both nationalisation and privatisation and the latter has been an unmitigated disaster in my experience. Under privatisation, public services are run for the benefit of shareholders and CEO's, rather than customers and citizens and under the opaque shroud of undemocratic 'commercial confidentiality'.
Galluses , 11 Apr 2019 07:26
What has been very noticeable about the development of bureaucracy in the public and private spheres over the last 40 years (since Thatcher govt of 79) has been the way systems are designed now to place responsibility and culpability on the workers delivering the services - Teachers, Nurses, social workers, etc. While those making the policies, passing the laws, overseeing the regulations- viz. the people 'at the top', now no longer take the rap when something goes wrong- they may be the Captain of their particular ship, but the responsibility now rests with the man sweeping the decks. Instead they are covered by tying up in knots those teachers etc. having to fill in endless check lists and reports, which have as much use as clicking 'yes' one has understood those long legal terms provided by software companies.... yet are legally binding. So how the hell do we get out of this mess? By us as individuals uniting through unions or whatever and saying NO. No to your dumb educational directives, No to your cruel welfare policies, No to your stupid NHS mismanagement.... there would be a lot of No's but eventually we could say collectively 'Yes I did the right thing'.
fairshares -> rjb04tony , 11 Apr 2019 07:17
'The left wing dialogue about neoliberalism used to be that it was the Wild West and that anything goes. Now apparently it's a machine of mass control.'

It is the Wild West and anything goes for the corporate entities, and a machine of control of the masses. Hence the wish of neoliberals to remove legislation that protects workers and consumers.

[May 23, 2020] Coronavirus had shown Brwzhnev socialism and the US neoliberalism ere never as far apart as people imagined

Highly recommended!
May 23, 2020 | discussion.theguardian.com

Comment edited for clarity

Bolsheviks put ideology above and before the people needs; Neoliberals put capital above people. Neoliberals are the next-worst thing after Boslheviks (although nobody can match Bolsheviks as for excesses including Stalin terror) . That's why bothe now in the USA and in the USSR before the dissolution we have a lot of "death of despare" That said, why would anybody trust neolibral pols ?

twiglette , 11 Apr 2019 05:13

Coronavirus had shown Brezhnev socialism and the US neoliberalism were never as far apart as people imagined. Two sides of a coin. A theological dispute.

[May 22, 2020] It is easy for chickenhawks to scream war war war but when their lives or their kid's lives on the line of fire most will ran away to Canada or Mexico

May 22, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

milomilo , May 23 2020 0:24 utc | 44

@vk , hilarious post trying to potray modern day USN as fhe same one who fought japanese.. after WW2 all USN did was doing tag with soviets and today even their skill lost in the current situation.. The good ole US navy is gone, all that left is aging airframes and ships and confused doctrine that focused on clearing endless brush fires from restless natives..

USN are not able to fight peer enemy naval force, its man power are not sustainable in such fight , thus they will resort to military draft system again and pray tell how many foolish ignorant gung ho flag waving american would enlist ? it is easy for chickenhawks to scream war war war but when their lives or their kid's lives on the line of fire most will ran away to canada or mexico

[May 21, 2020] The neoliberal globalization myth fostered the delusion of labour in which Western societies could prosper from the ideas and computer startups, while the dirty work of actually making things is left to low-wage countries. One result: a drastic shortage of face masks

Notable quotes:
"... In France, confinement has been generally well accepted as necessary, but that does not mean people are content with the government -- on the contrary. Every evening at eight, people go to their windows to cheer for health workers and others doing essential tasks, but the applause is not for President Macron. ..."
"... What we have witnessed is the failure of what used to be one of the very best public health services in the world. It has been degraded by years of cost-cutting. In recent years, the number of hospital beds per capita has declined steadily. Many hospitals have been shut down and those that remain are drastically understaffed. Public hospital facilities have been reduced to a state of perpetual saturation, so that when a new epidemic comes along, on top of all the other usual illnesses, there is simply not the capacity to deal with it all at once. ..."
"... The neoliberal globalization myth fostered the delusion that advanced Western societies could prosper from their superior brains, thanks to ideas and computer startups, while the dirty work of actually making things is left to low-wage countries. One result: a drastic shortage of face masks. The government let a factory that produced masks and other surgical equipment be sold off and shut down. Having outsourced its textile industry, France had no immediate way to produce the masks it needed. ..."
"... In late March, French media reported that a large stock of masks ordered and paid for by the southeastern region of France was virtually hijacked on the tarmac of a Chinese airport by Americans, who tripled the price and had the cargo flown to the United States. There are also reports of Polish and Czech airport authorities intercepting Chinese or Russian shipments of masks intended for hard-hit Italy and keeping them for their own use. ..."
"... The Covid–19 crisis makes it just that much clearer that the European Union is no more than a complex economic arrangement, with neither the sentiment nor the popular leaders that hold together a nation. For a generation, schools, media, politicians have instilled the belief that the "nation" is an obsolete entity. But in a crisis, people find that they are in France, or Germany, or Italy, or Belgium -- but not in "Europe." The European Union is structured to care about trade, investment, competition, debt, economic growth. Public health is merely an economic indicator. For decades, the European Commission has put irresistible pressure on nations to reduce the costs of their public health facilities in order to open competition for contracts to the private sector -- which is international by nature. ..."
"... Scapegoating China may seem the way to try to hold the declining Western world together, even as Europeans' long-standing admiration for America turns to dismay. ..."
"... The countries that have suffered most from the epidemic are among the most indebted of the EU member states, starting with Italy. The economic damage from the lockdown obliges them to borrow further. As their debt increases, so do interest rates charged by commercial banks. They turned to the EU for help, for instance by issuing eurobonds that would share the debt at lower interest rates. This has increased tension between debtor countries in the south and creditor countries in the north, which said nein . Countries in the eurozone cannot borrow from the European Central Bank as the U.S. Treasury borrows from the Fed. And their own national central banks take orders from the ECB, which controls the euro. ..."
"... The great irony is that "a common currency" was conceived by its sponsors as the key to European unity. On the contrary, the euro has a polarizing effect -- with Greece at the bottom and Germany at the top. And Italy sinking. But Italy is much bigger than Greece and won't go quietly. ..."
"... A major paradox is that the left and the Yellow Vests call for economic and social policies that are impossible under EU rules, and yet many on the left shy away from even thinking of leaving the EU. For over a generation, the French left has made an imaginary "social Europe" the center of its utopian ambitions. ..."
"... Russia is a living part of European history and culture. Its exclusion is totally unnatural and artificial. Brzezinski [the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Carter administration's national security adviser] spelled it out in The Great Chessboard : The U.S. maintains world hegemony by keeping the Eurasian landmass divided. ..."
"... But this policy can be seen to be inherited from the British. It was Churchill who proclaimed -- in fact welcomed -- the Iron Curtain that kept continental Europe divided. In retrospect, the Cold War was basically part of the divide-and-rule strategy, since it persists with greater intensity than ever after its ostensible cause -- the Communist threat -- is long gone. ..."
"... The whole Ukrainian operation of 2014 [the U.S.–cultivated coup in Kyiv, February 2014] was lavishly financed and stimulated by the United States in order to create a new conflict with Russia. Joe Biden has been the Deep State's main front man in turning Ukraine into an American satellite, used as a battering ram to weaken Russia and destroy its natural trade and cultural relations with Western Europe. ..."
"... I think France is likelier than Germany to break with the U.S.–imposed Russophobia simply because, thanks to de Gaulle, France is not quite as thoroughly under U.S. occupation. Moreover, friendship with Russia is a traditional French balance against German domination -- which is currently being felt and resented. ..."
"... "Decades of indoctrination in the ideology of "Europe" has instilled the belief that the nation-state is a bad thing of the past. The result is that people raised in the European Union faith tend to regard any suggestion of return to national sovereignty as a fatal step toward fascism. This fear of contagion from "the right" is an obstacle to clear analysis which weakens the left and favors the right, which dares be patriotic." ..."
"... Since WWII the US has itself been occupied by tyrants, using Russophobia to demand power as fake defenders. ..."
"... " French philosophy .By constantly attacking, deconstructing, and denouncing every remnant of human "power" they could spot, the intellectual rebels left the power of "the markets" unimpeded, and did nothing to stand in the way of the expansion of U.S. military power all around the world " ..."
"... From her groundbreaking work on the NATO empire's sickening war on sovereign Serbia, the dead end of identity politics and trans bathroom debates, to her critique of unfettered immigration and open borders, and her dismissal of the absurd Russsiagate baloney, better than anyone else, Johnstone has kept her intellect carefully honed to the real genuine kitchen table bread and butter issues that truly matter. She recognized before most of the world's scholars the perils of rampant inequality and saw the writing on the wall as to where this grotesque economic system is taking us all: down a dystopian slope into penury and police-state heavy-handedness, with millions unable to come up with $500 for an emergency car repair or dental bill. ..."
"... The mask competition and fiasco shows the importance of a country simply making things in their own country, not on the other side of the world, it's not nationalism it's just a better way to logistically deliver reliable products to the citizens. ..."
"... Some hold that they never departed, but mutated tools including CFA zones and "intelligence" relations in furtherance of "changing" to remain qualitatively the same. Just as "The United States of America" is a system of coercive relations not synonymous with the political geographical area designated "The United States of America", the colonialism of former and present "colonial powers" continues to exist, since the "independence" of the colonised was always, and continues to be, framed within linear systems of coercive relations, facilitated by the complicity of "local elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest, and the acquiescence of "local others" for myriad reasons. ..."
"... After reading Circle in the Darkness, I have ordered and am now reading her books on Hillary Clinton (Queen of Chaos) and the Yugoslav wars (Fool's Crusade), which are very worthwhile and important. I would recommend that her many articles over the years, appearing in such publications such as In These Times, Counterpunch and Consortium News, be reprinted and published together as an anthology. Through Circle in the Darkness, we have Diana Johnstone's "Life", but it would be good also to have her "Letters". ..."
"... Mr. de Gaulle like other "leaders" of colonial powers did understand that the moment of overt coercive relations of colonialism had passed and that colonialism to remain qualitatively the same, required covert coercive relations facilitated by the complicity of local "elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest. ..."
May 21, 2020 | consortiumnews.com

In France, confinement has been generally well accepted as necessary, but that does not mean people are content with the government -- on the contrary. Every evening at eight, people go to their windows to cheer for health workers and others doing essential tasks, but the applause is not for President Macron.

Macron and his government are criticized for hesitating too long to confine the population, for vacillating about the need for masks and tests, or about when or how much to end the confinement. Their confusion and indecision at least defend them from the wild accusation of having staged the whole thing in order to lock up the population.

What we have witnessed is the failure of what used to be one of the very best public health services in the world. It has been degraded by years of cost-cutting. In recent years, the number of hospital beds per capita has declined steadily. Many hospitals have been shut down and those that remain are drastically understaffed. Public hospital facilities have been reduced to a state of perpetual saturation, so that when a new epidemic comes along, on top of all the other usual illnesses, there is simply not the capacity to deal with it all at once.

The neoliberal globalization myth fostered the delusion that advanced Western societies could prosper from their superior brains, thanks to ideas and computer startups, while the dirty work of actually making things is left to low-wage countries. One result: a drastic shortage of face masks. The government let a factory that produced masks and other surgical equipment be sold off and shut down. Having outsourced its textile industry, France had no immediate way to produce the masks it needed.

Meanwhile, in early April, Vietnam donated hundreds of thousands of antimicrobial face masks to European countries and is producing them by the million. Employing tests and selective isolation, Vietnam has fought off the epidemic with only a few hundred cases and no deaths.

You must have thoughts as to the question of Western unity in response to Covid–19.

In late March, French media reported that a large stock of masks ordered and paid for by the southeastern region of France was virtually hijacked on the tarmac of a Chinese airport by Americans, who tripled the price and had the cargo flown to the United States. There are also reports of Polish and Czech airport authorities intercepting Chinese or Russian shipments of masks intended for hard-hit Italy and keeping them for their own use.

The absence of European solidarity has been shockingly clear. Better-equipped Germany banned exports of masks to Italy. In the depth of its crisis, Italy found that the German and Dutch governments were mainly concerned with making sure Italy pays its debts. Meanwhile, a team of Chinese experts arrived in Rome to help Italy with its Covid–19 crisis, displaying a banner reading "We are waves of the same sea, leaves of the same tree, flowers of the same garden." The European institutions lack such humanistic poetry. Their founding value is not solidarity but the neoliberal principle of "free unimpeded competition."

How do you think this reflects on the European Union?

The Covid–19 crisis makes it just that much clearer that the European Union is no more than a complex economic arrangement, with neither the sentiment nor the popular leaders that hold together a nation. For a generation, schools, media, politicians have instilled the belief that the "nation" is an obsolete entity. But in a crisis, people find that they are in France, or Germany, or Italy, or Belgium -- but not in "Europe." The European Union is structured to care about trade, investment, competition, debt, economic growth. Public health is merely an economic indicator. For decades, the European Commission has put irresistible pressure on nations to reduce the costs of their public health facilities in order to open competition for contracts to the private sector -- which is international by nature.

Globalization has hastened the spread of the pandemic, but it has not strengthened internationalist solidarity. Initial gratitude for Chinese aid is being brutally opposed by European Atlanticists. In early May, Mathias Döpfner, CEO of the Springer publishing giant, bluntly called on Germany to ally with the U.S. -- against China. Scapegoating China may seem the way to try to hold the declining Western world together, even as Europeans' long-standing admiration for America turns to dismay.

Meanwhile, relations between EU member states have never been worse. In Italy and to a greater extent in France, the coronavirus crisis has enforced growing disillusion with the European Union and an ill-defined desire to restore national sovereignty.

Corollary question: What are the prospects that Europe will produce leaders capable of seizing that right moment, that assertion of independence? What do you reckon such leaders would be like?

The EU is likely to be a central issue in the near future, but this issue can be exploited in very different ways, depending on which leaders get hold of it. The coronavirus crisis has intensified the centrifugal forces already undermining the European Union. The countries that have suffered most from the epidemic are among the most indebted of the EU member states, starting with Italy. The economic damage from the lockdown obliges them to borrow further. As their debt increases, so do interest rates charged by commercial banks. They turned to the EU for help, for instance by issuing eurobonds that would share the debt at lower interest rates. This has increased tension between debtor countries in the south and creditor countries in the north, which said nein . Countries in the eurozone cannot borrow from the European Central Bank as the U.S. Treasury borrows from the Fed. And their own national central banks take orders from the ECB, which controls the euro.

What does the crisis mean for the euro? I confess I've lost faith in this project, given how disadvantaged it leaves the nations on the Continent's southern rim.

The great irony is that "a common currency" was conceived by its sponsors as the key to European unity. On the contrary, the euro has a polarizing effect -- with Greece at the bottom and Germany at the top. And Italy sinking. But Italy is much bigger than Greece and won't go quietly.

The German constitutional court in Karlsruhe recently issued a long judgment making it clear who is boss. It recalled and insisted that Germany agreed to the euro only on the grounds that the main mission of the European Central Bank was to fight inflation, and that it could not directly finance member states. If these rules were not followed, the Bundesbank, the German central bank, would be obliged to pull out of the ECB. And since the Bundesbank is the ECB's main creditor, that is that. There can be no generous financial help to troubled governments within the eurozone. Period.

Is there a possibility of disintegration here?

The idea of leaving the EU is most developed in France. The Union Populaire Républicaine, founded in 2007 by former senior functionary François Asselineau, calls for France to leave the euro, the European Union, and NATO.

The party has been a didactic success, spreading its ideas and attracting around 20,000 active militants without scoring any electoral success. A main argument for leaving the EU is to escape from the constraints of EU competition rules in order to protect its vital industry, agriculture, and above all its public services.

A major paradox is that the left and the Yellow Vests call for economic and social policies that are impossible under EU rules, and yet many on the left shy away from even thinking of leaving the EU. For over a generation, the French left has made an imaginary "social Europe" the center of its utopian ambitions.

" Europe" as an idea or an ideal, you mean.

Decades of indoctrination in the ideology of "Europe" has instilled the belief that the nation-state is a bad thing of the past. The result is that people raised in the European Union faith tend to regard any suggestion of return to national sovereignty as a fatal step toward fascism. This fear of contagion from "the right" is an obstacle to clear analysis which weakens the left and favors the right, which dares be patriotic.

Two and a half months of coronavirus crisis have brought to light a factor that makes any predictions about future leaders even more problematic. That factor is a widespread distrust and rejection of all established authority. This makes rational political programs extremely difficult, because rejection of one authority implies acceptance of another. For instance, the way to liberate public services and pharmaceuticals from the distortions of the profit motive is nationalization. If you distrust the power of one as much as the other, there is nowhere to go.

Such radical distrust can be explained by two main factors -- the inevitable feeling of helplessness in our technologically advanced world, combined with the deliberate and even transparent lies on the part of mainstream politicians and media. But it sets the stage for the emergence of manipulated saviors or opportunistic charlatans every bit as deceptive as the leaders we already have, or even more so. I hope these irrational tendencies are less pronounced in France than in some other countries.

I'm eager to talk about Russia. There are signs that relations with Russia are another source of European dissatisfaction as "junior partners" within the U.S.–led Atlantic alliance. Macron is outspoken on this point, "junior partners" being his phrase. The Germans -- business people, some senior officials in government -- are quite plainly restive.

Russia is a living part of European history and culture. Its exclusion is totally unnatural and artificial. Brzezinski [the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Carter administration's national security adviser] spelled it out in The Great Chessboard : The U.S. maintains world hegemony by keeping the Eurasian landmass divided.

But this policy can be seen to be inherited from the British. It was Churchill who proclaimed -- in fact welcomed -- the Iron Curtain that kept continental Europe divided. In retrospect, the Cold War was basically part of the divide-and-rule strategy, since it persists with greater intensity than ever after its ostensible cause -- the Communist threat -- is long gone.

I hadn't put our current circumstance in this context. US-backed, violent coup in Ukraine, 2014.

The whole Ukrainian operation of 2014 [the U.S.–cultivated coup in Kyiv, February 2014] was lavishly financed and stimulated by the United States in order to create a new conflict with Russia. Joe Biden has been the Deep State's main front man in turning Ukraine into an American satellite, used as a battering ram to weaken Russia and destroy its natural trade and cultural relations with Western Europe.

U.S. sanctions are particularly contrary to German business interests, and NATO's aggressive gestures put Germany on the front lines of an eventual war.

But Germany has been an occupied country -- militarily and politically -- for 75 years, and I suspect that many German political leaders (usually vetted by Washington) have learned to fit their projects into U.S. policies. I think that under the cover of Atlantic loyalty, there are some frustrated imperialists lurking in the German establishment, who think they can use Washington's Russophobia as an instrument to make a comeback as a world military power.

But I also think that the political debate in Germany is overwhelmingly hypocritical, with concrete aims veiled by fake issues such as human rights and, of course, devotion to Israel.

We should remember that the U.S. does not merely use its allies -- its allies, or rather their leaders, figure they are using the U.S. for some purposes of their own.

What about what the French have been saying since the G–7 session in Biarritz two years ago, that Europe should forge its own relations with Russia according to Europe's interests, not America's?

At G7 Summit in Biarritz, France, Aug. 26, 2019. (White House)

I think France is likelier than Germany to break with the U.S.–imposed Russophobia simply because, thanks to de Gaulle, France is not quite as thoroughly under U.S. occupation. Moreover, friendship with Russia is a traditional French balance against German domination -- which is currently being felt and resented.

Stepping back for a broader look, do you think Europe's position on the western flank of the Eurasian landmass will inevitably shape its position with regard not only to Russia but also China? To put this another way, is Europe destined to become an independent pole of power in the course of this century, standing between West and East?

At present, what we have standing between West and East is not Europe but Russia, and what matters is which way Russia leans. Including Russia, Europe might become an independent pole of power. The U.S. is currently doing everything to prevent this. But there is a school of strategic thought in Washington which considers this a mistake, because it pushes Russia into the arms of China. This school is in the ascendant with the campaign to denounce China as responsible for the pandemic. As mentioned, the Atlanticists in Europe are leaping into the anti–China propaganda battle. But they are not displaying any particular affection for Russia, which shows no sign of sacrificing its partnership with China for the unreliable Europeans.

If Russia were allowed to become a friendly bridge between China and Europe, the U.S. would be obliged to abandon its pretensions of world hegemony. But we are far from that peaceful prospect.

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune , is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is "Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century" (Yale). Follow him on Twitter @thefloutist . His web site is Patrick Lawrence . Support his work via his Patreon site .


Josep , May 19, 2020 at 02:04

It recalled and insisted that Germany agreed to the euro only on the grounds that the main mission of the European Central Bank was to fight inflation, and that it could not directly finance member states.

I once read a comment elsewhere saying that, back in 1989, both Britain (under Margaret Thatcher) and the US objected to German reunification. Since they could not stop the reunification, they insisted that Germany accept the incoming euro. A heap of German university professors jumped up and protested, knowing fully well what the game was: namely the creation of a banker's empire in Europe controlled by private bankers.

Thorben Sunkimat , May 20, 2020 at 13:45

France and Britain rejected the german reunification. The americans were supportive, even though they had their demands. Mainly privatisation of german public utilities. After agreeing to those demands the americans persuaded the british and pressured the french who agreed to german reunification after germany agreed to the euro.

So why did france want the euro?

The German central bank crashed the European economy after reunification with high interest rates. This was because of above average growth rates mainly in Eastern Germany. Main function of the Bundesbank is to keep inflation low, which is more important to them than anything else. Since Germany's D Mark was the leading currency in Europe the rest of Europe had to heighten their interest rates too, witch lead to great economic problems within Europe. Including France.

OlyaPola , May 21, 2020 at 05:30

"namely the creation of a banker's empire in Europe controlled by private bankers."

Resort to binaries (controlled/not controlled) is a practice of self-imposed blindness. In any interactive system no absolutes exist only analogues of varying assays since "control" is limited and variable. In respect of what became the German Empire this relationship predated and facilitated the German Empire through financing the war with Denmark in 1864 courtesy of the arrangements between Mr. von Bismark and Mr. Bleichroder. The assay of "control of bankers" has varied/increased subsequently but never attained the absolute.

It is true that finance capital perceived and continues to perceive the European Union as an opportunity to increase their assay of "control" – the Austrian banks in conjunction with German bank assigning a level of priority to resurrecting spheres of influence existing prior to 1918 and until 1945.

One of the joint projects at a level of planning in the early 1990's was development of the Danube and its hinterland from Regensburg to Cerna Voda/Constanta in Romania but this was delayed in the hope of curtailment by some when NATO bombed Serbia in 1999 (Serbia not being the only target – so much for honesty-amongst-theives.)

This project was resurrected in a limited form primarily downstream from Vidin/Calafat from 2015 onwards given that some states of the former Yugoslavia were not members of the European Union and some were within spheres of influence of "The United States of America".

As to France, "Vichy" and Europa also facilitated the resurrection of finance capital and increase in its assay of control after the 1930's, some of the practices of the 1940's still being subject to dispute in France.

mkb29 , May 18, 2020 at 16:33

I've always admired Diana Johnstone's clear headed analyses of world/European/U.S./ China/Israel-Palestine/Russia/ interactions and the motivation of its "players". She has given some credence to what as been known as French rationalism and enlightenment. (Albeit as an American expat) Think Descartes, Diderot, Sartre , and She loves France in her own rationalist-humanist way.

Linda J , May 18, 2020 at 13:21

I have admired Ms. Johnstone's work for quite awhile. This enlightening interview spurs me to get a copy of the book and to contribute to Consortium News.

Others may be interested in the two-part video discovered yesterday featuring Douglas Valentine's analysis of the CIA's corporate backers and their global choke-hold on governments and their influencers in every region of the world.

Part 1
see:youtu(dot)be/cP15Ehx1yvI

Part 2
see:youtu(dot)be/IYvvEn_N1sE

worldblee , May 18, 2020 at 12:26

Not many have the long distance perspective on the world, let alone Europe, that Diana Johnstone has. Great interview!

Drew Hunkins , May 18, 2020 at 11:03

"Decades of indoctrination in the ideology of "Europe" has instilled the belief that the nation-state is a bad thing of the past. The result is that people raised in the European Union faith tend to regard any suggestion of return to national sovereignty as a fatal step toward fascism. This fear of contagion from "the right" is an obstacle to clear analysis which weakens the left and favors the right, which dares be patriotic."

Bingo! A marvelous point indeed! Quick little example -- Bernard Sanders should have worn an American flag pin on his suit during the 2020 Dem primary campaign.

chris , May 18, 2020 at 04:46

A very good analysis. As an American who has relocated to Spain several years ago, I am always disappointed that discussions of European politics always assume that Europe ends at the Pyrenees. Admittedly, Spanish politics is very complicated and confusing. Forty years of an unreconstructed dictatorship have left their mark, but the country´s socialist, communist and anarchic currents never went away. I like to say that the country is very conservative, but at least the population is aware of what is going on.

Perhaps what Ms. Johnston says about the French being just worn out, with no stomach for more violent conflict also applies to the Spanish since their great ideological struggle is more recent. The American influence during the Transition (which changed little – as the expression goes: The same dog but with a different collar) was very strong, and remains so. Even so, there is popular support for foreign and domestic policies independent of American and neoliberal control, but by and large the political and economic powers are not on board. I do not think Spain is willing to make a break alone, but would align itself with an European shift away from American control.

As Ms. Johnston says, Europe currently lacks leaders willing to take the plunge, but we will see what the coming year brings.

Sam F , May 17, 2020 at 17:45

Thank you Diana, these are valuable insights. Since WWII the US has itself been occupied by tyrants, using Russophobia to demand power as fake defenders.

1. Waving the flag and praising the lord on mass media, claiming concern with human rights and "Israel"; while
2. Subverting the Constitution with large scale bribery, surveillance, and genocides, all business as usual nowadays.
In the US, the form of government has become bribery and marketing lies; it truly knows no other way.

It may be better that Russia and China keep their distance from the US and maybe even the EU:
1. The US and EU would have to produce what they consume, eventually empowering workers;
2. Neither the US nor EU are a political or economic model for anyone, and should be ignored;
3. Neither the US nor EU produces much that Russia and China cannot, by investing more in cars and soybeans.

It will be best for the EU if it also rejects the US and its "neolib" economic and political tyranny mechanisms:
1. Alliance with Russia and China will cause substantial gains in stability and economic strength;
2. Forcing the US to abandon its "pretensions of world hegemony" will soon yield more peaceful prospects; and
3. Isolating the US will force it to improve its utterly corrupt government and society, maybe 40 to 60 years hence.

Drew Hunkins , May 17, 2020 at 15:40

" French philosophy .By constantly attacking, deconstructing, and denouncing every remnant of human "power" they could spot, the intellectual rebels left the power of "the markets" unimpeded, and did nothing to stand in the way of the expansion of U.S. military power all around the world "

Brilliant. Exactly right. This was the progenitor to our contemporary I.D. politics which seems to be solely obsessed with vocabulary, semantics and non-economic cultural issues while rarely having a critique of corporate capitalism, militarism, massive inequality and Zionism. And it almost never advocates for robust economic populist proposals like Med4All, U.B.I., debt jubilee, and the fight for $15.

Drew Hunkins , May 17, 2020 at 15:10

The book is phenomenal. I posted a customer review over on Amazon for this stupendous work. Below is a copy of my review:

(5 stars) One of the most important intellects pens her magisterial lasting legacy
Reviewed in the United States on March 31, 2020

Johnstone's been an idol of mine ever since I started reading her in the 1990s. She's clearly proved her worthiness over the decades by bucking the mainstream trend of apologetics for corporate capitalism, neoliberalism, globalism and imperialistic militarism her entire career and this astonishing memoir details it all in what will likely be the finest book of 2020 and perhaps the entire decade.

Her writing style is beyond superb, her grasp of the overarching politico-socio-economic issues that have rocked the world over the past 60 years is as astute and spot-on as you will find from any global thinker. She's right up there with Michael Parenti, James Petras, John Pilger and Noam Chomsky as seminal figures who have documented and brought light to tens of thousands (millions?) of people across the globe via their writings, interviews and speaking engagements.

Johnstone has never been one to shy away from controversial topics and issues. Why? Simple, she has the facts and truth on her side, she always has. Circle in the Darkness proves all this and more, she marshals the documentation and lays it out as an exquisite gift for struggling working people around the world.

From her groundbreaking work on the NATO empire's sickening war on sovereign Serbia, the dead end of identity politics and trans bathroom debates, to her critique of unfettered immigration and open borders, and her dismissal of the absurd Russsiagate baloney, better than anyone else, Johnstone has kept her intellect carefully honed to the real genuine kitchen table bread and butter issues that truly matter. She recognized before most of the world's scholars the perils of rampant inequality and saw the writing on the wall as to where this grotesque economic system is taking us all: down a dystopian slope into penury and police-state heavy-handedness, with millions unable to come up with $500 for an emergency car repair or dental bill.

Whenever she comes out with a new article or essay I immediately drop everything and devour it, often reading it twice to let her wisdom really soak in. So too Circle of Darkness is an extremely well written beautiful work that will scream out to be re-read every few years by those with a hunger to know exactly what was going on since the Korean War era through today regarding liberal thought, neocon and neoliberal dominance with its capitalist global hegemony and the take over of Western governments by the parasitic financial elite.

There will never be another Diana Johnstone. Circle in the Darkness will stand as her lasting legacy to all of us.

Bob Van Noy , May 17, 2020 at 14:43

"As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it" ~Albert Einstein

Many Thanks CN, Patrick Lawrence, and Joe Lauria. Once again I must commend CN for picking just the appropriate response to our contemporary dilemma.

The quote above leads Diana Johnstone's new book and succinctly describes both the universe and our contemporary experience with our digital age. President Kennedy and Charles de Gaulle of France would agree that colonialism was past and that a new world (geopolitical) approach would become necessary, but that philosophy would put them against some great local and world powers. Each of them necessarily had different approaches as to how this might be accomplished. They were never allowed to present their specific proposals on a world stage. Let's hope a wiser population will once again "see" this possibility and find a way to resolve it

Aaron , May 17, 2020 at 14:18

Well over the span of all of those decades, the consistent, inexorable theme seems to be a trend of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, a small number of individuals, not really states, gaining wealth and power, so everybody else fights over the crumbs, blaming this or that party, alliance, event or whatever, but behind it all there are two flower gardens, indeed the rich are all flowers of their golden garden, and the poor are all flowers of their garden.

It's like the Europeans and the 99 percent in America have all fallen for the myth of the American dream, that if we are just allowed more free, unfettered economic opportunity, it's just up to us to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and become a billionaire.

The mask competition and fiasco shows the importance of a country simply making things in their own country, not on the other side of the world, it's not nationalism it's just a better way to logistically deliver reliable products to the citizens.

AnneR , May 17, 2020 at 13:42

Regarding French colonialism – as I recall the French were especially brutal in their forced withdrawal from Algeria, both toward Algerians in their homeland and to Algerians within France itself.

And the French were hardly willing, non-violent colonialists when being fought by the Vietnamese who wanted to be free of them (quite rightly so).

As for the French in Sub-Saharan Africa – they have yet to truly give up on their presumed right to have troops within these countries. They did not depart any of their colonies happily, willingly – like every other colonial power, including the UK.

And, as for WWII – she seems, in her reminiscences, to have mislaid Vichy France, the Velodrome roundups of French Jews, and so on ..

Ms Johnstone clearly has been looking backwards with rose-tinted specs on when it comes to France.

Randal Marlin , May 18, 2020 at 13:00

There may be some truth to AnneR's claim that Ms Johnstone has been looking with rose-tinted specs when it comes to France, but it is highly misleading for her to talk about "the French" regarding Algeria. I spent 1963-64 in Aix-en-Provence teaching at the Institute for American Universities and talked with some of the "pieds-noirs," (French born in Algeria).

After French President Charles de Gaulle decided to relinquish French control over Algeria, having previously reassured the colonial population that "Je vous ai compris" ("I have understood you"), there followed death threats to many French colonizers who had to flee Algeria immediately within 24 hours or get their throats slit – "La valise ou le cercueil" (the suitcase or the coffin).

In the fall of 1961, I saw Parisian police stations with machine-gun armed men behind concrete barriers, as an invasion by the colonial French paratroopers against mainland France was expected. The "Organisation Armée Secrète," OAS, (Secret Armed Organization) of the colonial powers, threatened at the time to invade Paris.

As an aside, giving a sense of the anger and passion involved, when the death of John F.Kennedy in November 1963 was announced in the historic, right-wing café in Aix, Les Deux Garçons, a huge cheer went up when the media announcer proclaimed "Le Président est assassinée. Only, that was because they thought de Gaulle was the president in question. A huge disappointment when they heard it was President Kennedy. To get a sense of the whole situation regarding France and Algeria I recommend Alistair Horne's "A Savage War of Peace."

OlyaPola , May 19, 2020 at 11:23

"They did not depart any of their colonies happily"

Some hold that they never departed, but mutated tools including CFA zones and "intelligence" relations in furtherance of "changing" to remain qualitatively the same. Just as "The United States of America" is a system of coercive relations not synonymous with the political geographical area designated "The United States of America", the colonialism of former and present "colonial powers" continues to exist, since the "independence" of the colonised was always, and continues to be, framed within linear systems of coercive relations, facilitated by the complicity of "local elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest, and the acquiescence of "local others" for myriad reasons.

Despite the "best" efforts of the opponents and partly in consequence of the opponents' complicity, the PRC and the Russian Federation like "The United States of America" are not synonymous with the political geographical areas designated as "The People's Republic of China and The Russian Federation", are in lateral process of transcending linear systems of coercive relations and hence pose existential threats to "The United States of America".

The opponents are not complete fools but the drowning tend to act precipitously including flailing out whilst drowning; encouraging some to dispense with rose- tinted glasses, despite such accessories being quite fashionable and fetching.

OlyaPola , May 20, 2020 at 04:32

" .. their colonies "

Perception of and practice of social relations are not wholly synonymous. A construct whose founding myths included liberty, egality and fraternity – property being discarded at the last moment since it was judged too provocative – experienced/experiences ideological/perceptual oxymorons in regard to its colonial relations, which were addressed in part by rendering their "colonies" department of France thereby facilitating increased perceptual dissonance.

Like many, Randal Marlin draws attention below to the perceptions and practices of the pied-noir, but omits to address the perceptions and practices of the harkis whom were also immersed in the proselytised notion of departmental France, and to some degree continue to be.

This understanding continues to inform the practices and problems of the French state.

Lolita , May 17, 2020 at 12:05

The analysis is very much inspired from "Comprendre l'Empire" by Alain Soral.

Dave , May 17, 2020 at 11:27

Do not fail to read this interview in its entirety. Ms Johnstone analyzes and describes many issues of national and global importance from the perspective of an USA expat who has spent most of her career in the pursuit of what may be termed disinterested journalism. Whether one agrees or disagrees in whole or in part the perspectives she presents, particularly those which pertain to the demise (hopefully) of the American Empire are worthy of perusal.

Remember that this is not a polemic; it's a memoir of a lifetime devoted to reporting and analyzing and discussion of most of the significant issues confronting global and national politics and their social ramifications. And a big thanks to Patrick Lawrence and Consortium News for posting the interview.

PEG , May 17, 2020 at 09:11

Diana Johnstone is one of the most intelligent, clear-minded and honest observers of international politics today, and her book "Circle in the Darkness" – which expands on the topics and insights touched on in this interview – is certainly among the best and most compelling books I have ever read, putting the events of the last 75 years into objective context and focus (normally something which only historians can do, if at all, generations after the fact).

After reading Circle in the Darkness, I have ordered and am now reading her books on Hillary Clinton (Queen of Chaos) and the Yugoslav wars (Fool's Crusade), which are very worthwhile and important. I would recommend that her many articles over the years, appearing in such publications such as In These Times, Counterpunch and Consortium News, be reprinted and published together as an anthology. Through Circle in the Darkness, we have Diana Johnstone's "Life", but it would be good also to have her "Letters".

Herman , May 17, 2020 at 09:00

Interesting comparison between the aspirations of De Gaulle and Putin.

"Having a sense of history, de Gaulle saw that colonialism had been a moment in history that was past. His policy was to foster friendly relations on equal terms with all parts of the world, regardless of ideological differences. I think that Putin's concept of a multipolar world is similar. It is clearly a concept that horrifies the exceptionalists."

Agree with Johnstone.

OlyaPola , May 19, 2020 at 11:55

"Having a sense of history, de Gaulle saw that colonialism had been a moment in history that was past. "

Mr. de Gaulle like other "leaders" of colonial powers did understand that the moment of overt coercive relations of colonialism had passed and that colonialism to remain qualitatively the same, required covert coercive relations facilitated by the complicity of local "elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest.

The exceptions to such strategies lay within constructs of settler colonialism which were addressed primarily through warfare – "The United States of America", Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia, Indonesia, Algeria, Kenya, Rhodesia, Mozambique, Angola refer – to facilitate such future strategies.

"I think that Putin's concept of a multipolar world is similar."

As outlined elsewhere the concept of a multi-polar world is not synonymous with the concept of colonialism except for the colonialists who consistently seek to encourage such conflation through myths of we-are-all-in-this-togetherness.

[May 21, 2020] Covid-19 Straw Breaks Free Trade Camel's Back

Notable quotes:
"... After claiming that "economists have argued for centuries that trade is good for the economy as a whole", Goldberg has also noted that "trade generates winners and losers", with many losing out, and urges acknowledging "the evidence rather than trying to discredit it, as some do." Following Samuelson and others, she recommends compensating those negatively effected by trade liberalization, claiming "sufficient gains generated by open trade that the winners can compensate the losers and still be better off" without indicating how this is to be done fairly. ..."
"... "Free" trade means removing regulations and tariffs. As Michael Hudson reminds us, in Classical economics, it used to mean free of the unproductive burdens of the rentiers. ..."
"... There's a growing realisation on our continent that outsiders aren't going to lead us to the promised land. ..."
"... This redistribution never happens, the rich get richer in a role reversal of "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today". Any attempt to have the rich share the hamburger is greeted with a "not now!" and a assurance that if the rich stop continuously getting richer at this particular point in time then everything will collapse. ..."
"... The best understanding of what is going on in Africa I got from Jared Diamond – book, "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed". And for background – "Guns, Germs, and Steel". Global climate heating is going to destroy Africa, already is. The usual story, no water, no forests, too much heat and humidity. It's a terrible reckoning. And largely not of their making. ..."
May 20, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former economics professor, who was Assistant Director-General for Economic and Social Development, Food and Agriculture Organization, and who received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought in 2007. Originally published by Inter Press Service

Economic growth is supposed to be the tide that lifts all boats. According to the conventional wisdom until recently, growth in China, India and East Asian countries took off thanks to opening up to international trade and investment.

Such growth is said to have greatly reduced poverty despite growing inequality in both sub-continental economies and many other countries. Other developing countries have been urged to do the same, i.e., liberalize trade and attract foreign investments.

Doha Round 'Dead in Water'

However, multilateral trade negotiations under World Trade Organization (WTO) auspices have gone nowhere since the late 1990s, even with the so-called Doha Development Round begun in 2001 as developing countries rallied to support the US after 9/11.

After the North continued to push their interests despite their ostensible commitment to a developmental outcome, the Obama administration was never interested in completing the Round, and undermined the WTO's functioning, e.g., its dispute settlement arrangements, even before Trump was elected.

To be sure, the Doha Round proposals were hardly 'developmental' by any standards, with most developing countries barely benefitting, if not actually worse off following the measures envisaged, even according to World Bank and other studies.

GVC miracle?

According to the World Bank's annual flagship World Development Report (WDR) 2020 on Trading for Development in the Age of Global Value Chains , GVCs have been mainly responsible for the growth of international trade for two decades from the 1990s.

GVCs now account for almost half of all cross-border commerce due to 'multiple counting', as products cross more borders than ever. Firms' creative book-keeping may also overstate actual value added in some tax jurisdictions to minimize overall tax liability.

WDR 2020 claims that GVCs have thus accelerated economic development and even convergence between North and South as fast-growing poor countries have grown more rapidly, closing the economic gap with rich countries.

Automation, innovative management, e.g., 'just-in-time' (JIT), outsourcing, offshoring and logistics have dramatically transformed production . Labour processes are subject to greater surveillance, while piecework at home means self-policing and use of unpaid household labour.

WDR 2020 Out of Touch

WDR 2020 presumes trends that no longer exist. Trade expansion has been sluggish for more than a decade, at least since the 2008 global financial crisis when the G20 of the world's largest economies and others adopted protective measures in response.

GVC growth has slowed since, as economies of the North insisted on trade liberalization for the South, while abandoning their own earlier commitments as the varied consequences of economic globalization fostered reactionary jingoist populist backlashes.

Meanwhile, new technologies involving mechanization, automation and other digital applications have further reduced overall demand for labour even as jobs were 'off-shored'. Trump-initiated trade policies and conflicts have pressured US and other transnational corporations to 'on-shore' jobs after decades of 'off-shoring' .

Nonetheless, WDR 2020 urges developing countries to bank on GVCs for growth and better jobs. Success of this strategy depends crucially on developed countries encouraging 'offshoring', a policy hardly evident for well over a decade!

As the last World Bank chief economist , albeit for barely 15 months, Yale Professor Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg recently agreed , "the world is retreating from globalization". "Protectionism is on the rise -- industrialized countries are less open to imports from developing countries. In addition, there is by now a lot of competition".

The Covid-19 crisis has further encouraged 'on-shoring' and 'chain shortening', especially for food, medical products and energy. Although the Japanese and other governments have announced such policies, ostensibly for 'national security' and other such reasons, Goldberg has nonetheless reiterated the case for GVCs in Covid-19's wake .

Trade Does Not Lift All Boats

After claiming that "economists have argued for centuries that trade is good for the economy as a whole", Goldberg has also noted that "trade generates winners and losers", with many losing out, and urges acknowledging "the evidence rather than trying to discredit it, as some do." Following Samuelson and others, she recommends compensating those negatively effected by trade liberalization, claiming "sufficient gains generated by open trade that the winners can compensate the losers and still be better off" without indicating how this is to be done fairly.

Compensation and redistribution require transfers which are typically difficult to negotiate and deliver at low cost. Tellingly, like others, she makes no mention of international transfers, especially for fairly redistributing the unequal gains from trade among trading partners.

Interestingly, she also observes, "There are plenty of examples, especially in African countries, where wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few even when the tide rises, only very few boats rise. Growth doesn't trickle down and doesn't improve the lot of the poor."

Unlikely Pan-Africanist

After decades of World Bank promotion of the 'East Asian miracle' for emulation by other developing countries, especially in Africa, Greek-born American Goldberg insists that what worked for growth and poverty reduction in China will not work in Africa today.

Echoing long time Bank critics, she argues, "If trade with rich countries is no longer the engine of growth, it will be more important than ever to rely on domestic resources to generate growth that does trickle down and translates to poverty reduction."

Instead, as if supporting some contemporary pan-Africanists, she argues, "Africa needs to rely on itself more than ever. The idea that export-led industrialization as it happened in China or East Asia is going to lead growth in Africa becomes less and less plausible".

She argues that "the African market is a very large market with incredible potential. It has not been developed yet. So, regional integration might be one path forward. Rather than opting for global integration, which may be very hard to achieve these days when countries are retreating from multilateralism, it might be more feasible to push for regional trade agreements and create bigger regional markets for countries' goods and services".

Acknowledging "We are still a very long way from there because most countries are averse to this idea -- they see their neighbors as competitors rather than countries they can cooperate with", not seeming to recognize the historical role of the Bank and mainstream trade economists in promoting the 'free trade illusion' and discrediting pan-Africanism.


chuck roast , May 20, 2020 at 9:01 am

hear him, and hear him
Econospeak at its best. Filled with cliches and "on the one hand(s)." This articles perfectly describes why social distancing can ultimately be a boon to mankind. This fellow Sundaram can self isolate at home and still get a paycheck. He can begin puttering about in his garden and start growing his own food. Eventually, he will find this activity to be far more rewarding than cogitating on the various cost and benefits of the international value chains, and will be spending more and more time in his garden. UBI will kick in. He will decide to disengage from "globalization" and being a public nuisance and adopt this new, socially beneficial lifestyle permanently. By doing "piecework at home" he will add to real gross domestic product, and he, the economy and the rest of the planet will be immeasurably improved.

The Historian , May 20, 2020 at 10:49 am

Good analysis. But part of my confusion with this article started with the headline: "Covid-19 Straw Breaks Free Trade Camel's Back"

What free trade? Nothing in the article discusses free trade and I doubt that there has ever been free trade for a very long time. Is this more Econospeak?

I do agree with the author that the way trading is done now, however he defines it, has not risen all boats.

Amfortas the hippie , May 20, 2020 at 1:33 pm

Regarding the existence of "Free Trade"
I watched this in real time when Nafta passed(i was agin it, and voted for Perot accordingly, both times)
I knew a middle class mexican american guy father of a friend of mine. His business, pre-Nafta, was going to his extended familia's ranch/farm(100 acres) in Tamaulipas, and returning with fruits and veggies and vanilla and a whole bunch of "junk" like that metal yard art and terra cotta birdbaths and such.
had a dually pickup and a 20 foot trailer.
Post Nafta, this was suddenly illegal he wasn't part of the Club, and went to work as a cook along side me and his son.
since that time, I've heard essentially the same story from numerous mexican american folks who used to do similar stuff.
nafta killed that small time cross border trade and the only "Freedom" involved was for the Maquiladora-owners, US Welfare Corn Corporations and the Cartels.
anecdata, of course, but still
if "they" were really for "free trade", they'd allow me to legally sell a frelling egg or tomato or grow some weed, for that matter(high demand, low quality unstable supply).

Susan the other , May 20, 2020 at 2:24 pm

I voted for ross perot too. I even went across the street and talked to my neighbors – the last time I did that – as they always say, it's like staring into the eyes of a chicken – oh so "liberal" at the time – To them Ross Perot was just an insufferable hick. But I loved the guy. And he was right. I think he lived in the same neighborhood as little George in Dallas – but Ross didn't want us to spread our resources too thin whereas little George saw MidEast oil as our best security. So now that that has blown up, it's regionalism v. globalism. It's a brake on turbo trade. It's not a fix. We don't want to be lulled into thinking we've achieved something like a trade balance and an environmental balance – that will take a century – and only if we stop fibbing to ourselves.

Bsoder , May 20, 2020 at 3:28 pm

I worked for Ross, for a while post GM (1987). I liked him very much, although we fought quite a bit. Mostly, I agreed with his public policy outlook, when I didn't and it came up I told him. He didn't surround himself with the wights that the Orange Menace does. Striking -he was very loyal to people in his orbit. NAFTA had protections for labor, unions, & the environment they just never were enforced. There must be some 'law' that says anything neoliberal turns into a racket over time, so it was with NAFTA.

Left in Wisconsin , May 20, 2020 at 4:53 pm

The NAFTA protections for workers were just hand waves. Lance Compa, who is at Cornell, ran the US office trying to get the labor provisions (weak as they were) enforced. As I recall, they were never able to bring even a single case forward.

Adam Eran , May 20, 2020 at 2:32 pm

"Free" trade means removing regulations and tariffs. As Michael Hudson reminds us, in Classical economics, it used to mean free of the unproductive burdens of the rentiers.

As for NAFTA, one might figure shipping a bunch of subsidized Iowa corn down to Mexico would impair the income of Mexican farmers.. The NAFTA treaty compensates the big ones.

Corn is only arguably the most important food crop in the world. The little (uncompensated by NAFTA) Mexican farmers were only keeping the disease resistance and diversity of the corn genome alive with the varieties they grew .But they weren't making any money for Monsanto So they were hung out to dry and migration to "Gringolandia" increased dramatically not all of it "legal."

In the wake of NAFTA, not only did Mexico experience capital flight (remember the Clinton administration's $20 billion bank bailout?), Mexico's real median income declined 34%. (Source: Ravi Batra's Greenspan's Fraud ).

One has to go back to the Great Depression to find that kind of decline in the U.S. Of course that provoked no great migration Oh wait! The Okies!

Imagine the Okies exiting the dust bowl to go to California where they would be caged, separated from their families, and ultimately shipped back to Oklahoma, where they would either be very miserable or even starve. That's what we've been doing to the Mexican refugees U.S. actions created never mind the fact that U.S. military and political attacks on its southern neighbors have been going on for literally centuries. (Between 1798 and 1994, the U.S. is responsible for 41 changes of government south of its borders).

Incidentally, the Harvard-educated neoliberal, Carlos Salinas Gotari, the Mexican president who signed NAFTA, was so despised he had to spend at least the initial years of his retirement in Ireland.

It's not for nothing that the guys who stand up to the Yanquis (Castro!) are heroes in the South.

taunger , May 20, 2020 at 6:47 am

It's amazing how economists can focus solely on economic activity, and the thought that something like climate change or politics might make their pronouncements useless isn't even rebutted.

John Wright , May 20, 2020 at 11:54 am

This reference: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-co2-isnt-falling-more-during-a-global-lockdown/

Has that one of the Covid-19 lockdown effects has been a fall in expected incremental CO2 added to the atmosphere in 2020 relative to 2019:

"Forecasters expect emissions to fall more than 5% in 2020, the greatest annual reduction on record. But it's still short of the 7.6% decline that scientists say is needed every year over the next decade to stop global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.*.

Yes, the earth's climate is one of the uncompensated losers of the world's current system of economic growth.

Economists seem to be forever optimizing for the GDP measure, while giving lip service to "uncompensated losers" such as workers and the earth's climate.

TomDority , May 20, 2020 at 8:16 am

Me, being a cynic and all – I thought the way trade worked in the real world (not the one described by well paid economists) was a multi step process

1) target developing country by undermining their core farming, self sustaining activity and export industries through cheap importation of grains and crops and other goods – thus making it impossible for locals to survive through their own industry

2) simultaneous loans (investment) to the country (economic aid) and corruption of political leaders designed to enable step three

3) Whence said country is indebted – force country to export whatever (mineral) wealth onto a glutted market to pay back its debts – this is easily done as the labor component is ripe for the picking/ fleecing

4) crush the country into economic austerity for as long as it takes to enslave its citizens and grab everything of value from the country

5) pretend that the IMF etc did such a great job – but the countries people (victims) or government did not do enough and must take care of themselves better

The Rev Kev , May 20, 2020 at 9:58 am

I think that you covered the Standard Operation Procedure here in better detail than I could. I would only add to point 2) that the bankers will go to these local leaders and show them how to hide their money and help them set up accounts in a place like the Caymans as part of the service.

And if that economist wants to find where all of Africa's wealth is going, he might want to start in the City of London and New York first.

David , May 20, 2020 at 8:43 am

I share the general sense of confusion. I'm not quite sure what the point of this essay is. It's full of wild generalisations like:
"According to the conventional wisdom until recently, growth in China, India and East Asian countries took off thanks to opening up to international trade and investment."
I don't think that's ever been conventional wisdom for Japan, Korea and China, for example, whose economies were (and in part still are) highly protected. Industrialisation in those countries was not "export-led".
It also confuses "trade" in the old sense, of countries importing things they couldn't produce and exporting what they could, with "trade" in the new sense of moving stuff around the world largely for financial reasons. Trade in the classic sense may have benefited the country as a whole (though this is debatable) but trade in the current sense was never intended to. Likewise I hadn't heard that globalisation had fostered a "jingoist backlash" – jingoism after all means aggressive calls for war. But then the whole article is clumsily written and badly constructed.
And the idea that Africa should rely on itself is fair enough, but runs counter to every piece of advice given to Africa since independence: remember, the World Bank master plan was for African countries to grow cash-crops for export to generate cash for industrial development? We know how that worked out. And yes the African market has enormous potential but it's desperately lacking in infrastructure, which makes trade between eve adjacent nations desperately difficult. You need to fix that first.

Thuto , May 20, 2020 at 4:37 pm

There's a growing realisation on our continent that outsiders aren't going to lead us to the promised land. The obstacles to effective intra-african trade that you identify will have to be cleared before Africa's potential can be realised, and as an African I have to believe they will be, challenging as that will be.

The overthrow of Omar Al Bashir in Sudan has shown that people in Africa are agitating for real, lasting changing, liberation from the rule of corrupt leaders and true, not pseudo independence from the West and increasingly China as well.

Other leaders have taken notice of this, as have ordinary citizens across the continent. It will take time, ther'll probably be a few false starts, we'll wobble a bit but in the end I believe we'll get there.

a different chris , May 20, 2020 at 9:24 am

"trade generates winners and losers", with many losing out, and urges acknowledging "the evidence rather than trying to discredit it, as some do."

I don't known who "discredits" it.

What I see is that everybody important acknowledges it, but does squat about it. This redistribution never happens, the rich get richer in a role reversal of "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today". Any attempt to have the rich share the hamburger is greeted with a "not now!" and a assurance that if the rich stop continuously getting richer at this particular point in time then everything will collapse.

The poor, of course, ain't got until this mythical "Tuesday".

HotFlash , May 20, 2020 at 11:23 am

"the African market has enormous potential"

Indeed! Very few Africans have IoT sous-vide sticks yet, or Smart doorbells. I'll bet they are way behind on fast fashion, too. Vast market to sell them things no-one needs and that wreck the earth on credit . Just gotta get those roads built so Jeff can deliver stuff to them in 2 days.

Bsoder , May 20, 2020 at 3:39 pm

The best understanding of what is going on in Africa I got from Jared Diamond – book, "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed". And for background – "Guns, Germs, and Steel". Global climate heating is going to destroy Africa, already is. The usual story, no water, no forests, too much heat and humidity. It's a terrible reckoning. And largely not of their making.

[May 21, 2020] How free trade actually works

May 21, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

TomDority , , May 20, 2020 at 8:16 am

Me, being a cynic and all – I thought the way trade worked in the real world (not the one described by well paid economists) was a multi step process

1) target developing country by undermining their core farming, self sustaining activity and export industries through cheap importation of grains and crops and other goods – thus making it impossible for locals to survive through their own industry

2) simultaneous loans (investment) to the country (economic aid) and corruption of political leaders designed to enable step three

3) Whence said country is indebted – force country to export whatever (mineral) wealth onto a glutted market to pay back its debts – this is easily done as the labor component is ripe for the picking/ fleecing

4) crush the country into economic austerity for as long as it takes to enslave its citizens and grab everything of value from the country

5) pretend that the IMF etc did such a great job – but the countries people (victims) or government did not do enough and must take care of themselves better

The Rev Kev , , May 20, 2020 at 9:58 am

I think that you covered the Standard Operation Procedure here in better detail than I could. I would only add to point 2) that the bankers will go to these local leaders and show them how to hide their money and help them set up accounts in a place like the Caymans as part of the service.

And if that economist wants to find where all of Africa's wealth is going, he might want to start in the City of London and New York first.

[May 21, 2020] It is worth reminding of criticism of the untrustworthiness of modern medical science from the editors of some of the top medical journals

Notable quotes:
"... There are some who parrot Big Pharma vested interests in ridiculing and denigrating hydroxychloroquine, despite the very notable positive results several countries such as China, Russia, Iran and Turkey have had with it, while vainly spouting the benefits of smoking despite complete lack of quality research papers supporting it and abundant quality papers against. ..."
"... Research is not created equal. There is good research (some, not so much) and there is bad research (bundles of it), mostly funded by vested interests, who where necessary direct the desired results. In general, research from China and Russia arguably tends to be higher quality and more reliable because those countries place the emphasis on health for society, not on profits for the corporations. ..."
May 21, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

BM , May 20 2020 6:17 utc | 146

But with regard to anecdotal/unverified [touch'e] claims of nicotine benefits in covid, one should not reflexively ignore the evidence to the contrary that conflict with one's pro-nicotine bias/belief system:}
"Smokers more likely to express ACE2 protein that SARS-COV-2 uses to enter human cells"
"Tobacco smoking increases lung entry points for COVID-19 virus"
Posted by: gm | May 19 2020 16:13 utc | 129

Touché again gm!

It is indeed desperate grasping at straws to believe that smoking will protect against Covid-19 when far higher quality research clearly indicates increased risk from smoking that the disease will be more severe (the latter also being the more plausible result).

As I commented the last time B raised this issue, there is one genuine effect of a past history of smoking that statistically reduces risk of death from Covid-19 - namely smoking significantly reduces expected lifespan, and therefore reduces the risk of living long enough to reach the highest risk age groups for severe Covid-19. Alternatively expressed - smoking kills you off first before you get a chance to be killed by Covid, if that is what you want. Post-hoc nicotine patches at a late stage deny you even that advantage.

There are some who parrot Big Pharma vested interests in ridiculing and denigrating hydroxychloroquine, despite the very notable positive results several countries such as China, Russia, Iran and Turkey have had with it, while vainly spouting the benefits of smoking despite complete lack of quality research papers supporting it and abundant quality papers against.

At this point it is worth reminding of criticism of the untrustworthiness of modern medical science from the editors of some of the top medical journals:

Skeptical of medical science reports?

"It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as editor of The New England Journal of Medicine"
Angell M. Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption. The New York Review of Books magazine.

More recently, Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, wrote that "The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness"
Horton R. Offline: What is medicine's 5 sigma? www.thelancet.com.

The first of these two commentaries on clinical research publications appeared in 2009, the second in April of this year. These statements are being taken seriously, coming as they do from the experiences of editors of two of the world's most prestigious medical journals. The first article showed how the relationships between pharmaceutical companies and academic physicians at prestigious universities impacted certain drug-related publications and the marketing of prescription drugs. Potential conflicts of interest seemed to abound: millions of dollars in consulting and speaking fees to physicians who promoted specific drugs, public research dollars being used by a researcher to test a drug owned by a company in which the researcher held millions of dollars in shares, failure of university researchers to disclose income from drug companies, company subsidies to physician continuing education, publishing practice guidelines involving drugs in which the authors have a financial interest, using influential physicians to promote drugs for unapproved uses, bias in favor of a product coming from failure to publish negative results and repeated publication of positive results in different forms. The author, Marcia Angell, cited the case of a drug giant that had to agree to settle charges that it deliberately withheld evidence that its top-selling anti-depressant was ineffective and could be harmful to certain age groups. ...

Richard Horton's statement was part of his comments on a recent symposium on reliability and reproducibility of research in the biomedical sciences and addresses a broader area of concern. Some of the problems he identified are seen in the veterinary literature. They include inadequate number of subjects in the study, poor study design, and potential conflicts of interest. He notes that the quest for journal impact factor is fuelling competition for publication in a few high reputation journals. He warns that "our love of 'significance' pollutes the literature with many a statistical fairy-tale" ...

Research is not created equal. There is good research (some, not so much) and there is bad research (bundles of it), mostly funded by vested interests, who where necessary direct the desired results. In general, research from China and Russia arguably tends to be higher quality and more reliable because those countries place the emphasis on health for society, not on profits for the corporations.

@Flatulus @16 "sources"
Christian Drosten, chief virologist Charité Berlin in his podcast no 31. Available with transcript here.
Posted by: b | May 18 2020 16:42 utc | 32

B, have you looked into the Big Pharma vested interests of Drosten yet? I suggest you do so.

[May 19, 2020] Russophobia in the Age of Donald Trump

Highly recommended!
Russiaphobia as a pathological reaction on the deep crisis of neoliberalism
Notable quotes:
"... The described lack of confidence was reflected in the exaggerated fear that Russia was capable of destroying the West's values. However, Russia and Putin were neither omnipresent nor threatening to destroy the United States' political system. ..."
"... Russia's basic motives remain defensive even when the Kremlin relies on assertive tactics. Russia's assertiveness, even in cyberspace, is of a reactive nature and is a response to US policies. ..."
"... Rather than fighting a full-scale information war with the West, Russia seeks to increase its status and strengthen its bargaining position in relations with the United States. 68 The Kremlin has been proposing to negotiate rules of cooperation in the cyber area since early in the twenty-first century. Motivated by an insistence on "cyber-sovereignty," Russia regularly proposes resolutions at the United Nations to prohibit "information aggression," In a 2011 letter to the United Nations General Assembly, Russia proposed an "International Code of Conduct for Information Security," stipulating that states subscribing to the code would pledge to "not use information and communications technologies and other information and communications networks to interfere with the internal affairs of other states or with the aim of undermining their political, economic and social stability." 69 ..."
"... Overall, what the Kremlin challenges is the United States' post–Cold War behavior that undermines Russia's status as a great power. Although Russia is not in a position to directly challenge the United States and the US-centered international order, the Kremlin hopes to gain external recognition as a great power by relying on low-cost methods and revealing the vulnerability of Western nations. Russia's capabilities and presence in global cyber and media space are limited, and the Kremlin is motivated by asymmetric deployment of its media, information, and cyber power. ..."
May 19, 2020 | www.oxfordscholarship.com
Chapter:
(p.81) 5 Russophobia in the Age of Donald Trump
Source:
The Dark Double
Author(s):
Andrei P. Tsygankov
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190919337.003.0005

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter extends the argument about media and value conflict between Russia and the United States to the age of Donald Trump. The new value conflict is assessed as especially acute and exacerbated by the US partisan divide. The Russia issue became central because it reflected both political partisanship and the growing value division between Trump voters and the liberal establishment. In addition to explaining the new wave of American Russophobia, the chapter analyzes Russia's own role and motives. The media are likely to continue the ideological and largely negative coverage of Russia, especially if Washington and Moscow fail to develop a pragmatic form of cooperation.

Keywords: Russia, Trump, US elections, narrative of collusion, partisan divide

This chapter addresses the new development in the US media perception of the Russian threat following the election of Donald Trump as the United States' president. The election revealed that US national values could no longer be viewed as predominantly liberal and favoring the global promotion of democracy, as supported by Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. During and after the election, the liberal media sought to present Moscow as not only favoring Trump but being responsible for his election and even ruling on behalf of the Kremlin. Those committed to a liberal worldview led the way in criticizing Russia and Putin for assaulting liberal democratic values globally and inside the United States. This chapter argues that the Russia issue became so central in the new internal divide because it reflects both political partisanship and the growing division between the values of Trump voters and those of the liberal establishment. The domestic political struggle has exacerbated the divide. Russia's otherness, again, has highlighted values of "freedom," seeking to preserve the confidence of the liberal self. (p.82)

The Narrative of Trump's "Collusion" with Russia

During the US presidential election campaign, American media developed yet another perception of Russia as reflected in the narrative of Trump's collusion with the Kremlin. 1 Having originated in liberal media and building on the previous perceptions of neo-Soviet autocracy and foreign threat, the new perception of Russia was that of the enemy that won the war against the United States. By electing the Kremlin's favored candidate, America was defeated by Russia. As a CNN columnist wrote, "The Russians really are here, infiltrating every corner of the country, with the single goal of disrupting the American way of life." 2 The two assumptions behind the new media narrative were that Putin was an enemy and that Trump was compromised by Putin. The inevitable conclusion was that Trump could not be a patriot and potentially was a traitor prepared to act against US interests.

The new narrative was assisted by the fact that Trump presented a radically different perspective on Russia than Clinton and the US establishment. The American political class had been in agreement that Russia displayed an aggressive foreign policy seeking to destroy the US-centered international order. Influential politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, commonly referred to Russian president Putin as an extremely dangerous KGB spy with no soul. Instead, Trump saw Russia's international interests as not fundamentally different from America's. He advocated that the United States to find a way to align its policies and priorities in defeating terrorism in the Middle East -- a goal that Russia shared -- with the Kremlin's. Trump promised to form new alliances to "unite the civilized world against Radical Islamic Terrorism" and to eradicate it "completely from the face of the Earth." 3 He hinted that he was prepared to revisit the thorny issues of Western sanctions against (p.83) the Russian economy and the recognition of Crimea as a part of Russia. Trump never commented on Russia's political system but expressed his admiration for Putin's leadership and high level of domestic support. 4

Capitalizing on the difference between Trump's views and those of the Democratic Party nominee, Hillary Clinton, the liberal media referred to Trump as the Kremlin-compromised candidate. Commentators and columnists with the New York Times , such as Paul Krugman, referred to Trump as the "Siberian" candidate. 5 Commentators and pundits, including those with academic and political credentials, developed the theory that the United States was under attack. The former ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, wrote in the Washington Post that Russia had attacked "our sovereignty" and continued to "watch us do nothing" because of the partisan divide. He compared the Kremlin's actions with Pearl Harbor or 9/11 and warned that Russia was likely to perform repeat assaults in 2018 and 2020. 6 The historian Timothy Snyder went further, comparing the election of Trump to a loss of war, which Snyder said was the basic aim of the enemy. Writing in the New York Daily News , he asserted, "We no longer need to wonder what it would be like to lose a war on our own territory. We just lost one to Russia, and the consequence was the election of Donald Trump." 7

The election of Trump prompted the liberal media to discuss Russia-related fears. The leading theory was that Trump would now compromise America's interests and rule the country on behalf of Putin. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times called for actions against Russia and praised "patriotic" Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham for being tough on Trump. 8 MSNBC host Rachel Maddow asked whether Trump was actually under Putin's control. Citing Trump's views and his associates' travel to Moscow, she told viewers, "We are also starting to see (p.84) what may be signs of continuing [Russian] influence in our country, not just during the campaign but during the administration -- basically, signs of what could be a continuing operation." 9 Another New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, published a column titled "There's a Smell of Treason in the Air," arguing that the FBI's investigation of the Trump presidential campaign's collusion "with a foreign power so as to win an election" was an investigation of whether such collusion "would amount to treason." 10 Responding to Trump's statement that his phone was tapped during the election campaign, the Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum tweeted that "Trump's insane 'GCHQ tapped my phone' theory came from . . . Moscow." McFaul and many others then endorsed and retweeted the message. 11

To many within the US media, Trump's lack of interest in promoting global institutions and his publicly expressed doubts that the Kremlin was behind cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) served to exacerbate the problem. Several intelligence leaks to the press and investigations by Congress and the FBI contributed to the image of a president who was not motivated by US interests. The US intelligence report on Russia's alleged hacking of the US electoral system released on January 8, 2017, served to consolidate the image of Russia as an enemy. Leaks to the press have continued throughout Trump's presidency. Someone in the administration informed the press that Trump called Putin to congratulate him on his victory in elections on March 18, 2018, despite Trump's advisers' warning against making such a call. 12

In the meantime, investigations of Trump's alleged "collusion" with Russia were failing to produce substantive evidence. Facts that some associates of Trump sought to meet or met with members of Russia's government did not lead to evidence of sustained contacts or collaboration. It was not proven that the Kremlin's "black dossier" on Trump compiled by British intelligence officer (p.85) Christopher Steele and leaked to CNN was truthful. Russian activity on American social networks such as Facebook and Twitter was not found to be conclusive in determining outcomes of the elections. 13 In February 2018, a year after launching investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted thirteen Russian nationals for allegedly interfering in the US 2016 presidential elections, yet their connection to Putin or Trump was not established. On March 12, 2018, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr stated that he had not yet seen any evidence of collusion. 14 Representative Mike Conaway, the Republican leading the Russia investigation, announced the end of the committee's probe of Russian meddling in the election. 15

Trump was also not acting toward Russia in the way the US media expected. His views largely reflected those of the military and national security establishment and disappointed some of his supporters. 16 The US National Security Strategy and new Defense Strategy presented Russia as a leading security threat, alongside China, Iran, and North Korea. The president made it clear that he wanted to engage in tough bargaining with Russia by insisting on American terms. 17 Instead of improving ties with Russia, let alone acting on behalf of the Kremlin, Trump contributed to new crises in bilateral relations that had to do with the two sides' principally different perceptions. While the Kremlin expected Washington to normalize relations, the United States assumed Russia's weakness and expected it to comply with Washington's priorities regarding the Middle East, Ukraine, and Afghanistan and nuclear and cyber issues. 18 Trump also authorized the largest expulsion of Russian diplomats in US history and ordered several missile strikes against Assad's Russia-supported positions in Syria, each time provoking a crisis in relations with Moscow. Even Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whom Rachel Maddow suspected of being appointed on Putin's advice to "weaken" the State Department and "bleed out" (p.86) the FBI, 19 was replaced by John Bolton. The latter's foreign policy reputation was that of a hawk, including on Russia. 20

Responding to these developments, the media focused on fears of being attacked by the Kremlin and on Trump not doing enough to protect the country. These fears went beyond the alleged cyber interference in the US presidential elections and included infiltration of American media and social networks and attacks on congressional elections and the country's most sensitive infrastructure, such as electric grids, water-processing plants, banking networks, and transportation facilities. In order to prevent such developments, media commentators and editorial writers recommended additional pressures on the Kremlin and counteroffensive operations. 21 One commentator recommended, as the best defense from Russia's plans to interfere with another election in the United States, launching a cyberattack on Russia's own presidential elections in March 2018, to "disrupt the stability of Vladimir Putin's regime." 22 A New York Times editorial summarized the mood by challenging President Trump to confront Russia further: "If Mr. Trump isn't Mr. Putin's lackey, it's past time for him to prove it." 23 The burden of proof was now on Trump's shoulders.

Opposition to the "Collusion" Narrative

In contrast to highly critical views of Russia in the dominant media, conservative, libertarian, and progressive sources offered different assessments. Initially, opposition to the collusion narrative came from the alternative media, yet gradually -- in response to scant evidence of Trump's collusion -- it incorporated voices within the mainstream.

The conservative media did not support the view that Russia "stole" elections and presented Trump as a patriot who wanted to make America great rather than develop "cozy" relationships with (p.87) the Kremlin. Writing in the American Interest , Walter Russell Mead argued that Trump aimed to demonstrate the United States' superiority by capitalizing on its military and technological advantages. He did not sound like a Russian mole. Challenging the liberal media, the author called for "an intellectually solvent and emotionally stable press" and wrote that "if President Trump really is a Putin pawn, his foreign policy will start looking much more like Barack Obama's." 24 Instead of viewing Trump as compromised by the Kremlin, sources such Breitbart and Fox News attributed the blame to the deep state, "the complex of bureaucrats, technocrats, and plutocrats," including the intelligence agencies, that seeks to "derail, or at least to de-legitimize, the Trump presidency" by engaging in accusations and smear campaigns. 25

Echoing Trump's own views, some conservatives expressed their admiration for Putin as a dynamic leader superior to Obama. In particular, they praised Putin for his ability to defend Russia's "traditional values" and great-power status. 26 Neoconservative and paleoconservative publications like the National Review , the Weekly Standard, Human Events Online , and others critiqued Obama's "feckless foreign policy," characterized by "fruitless accommodationism," contrasting it with Putin's skilled and calculative geopolitical "game of chess." 27 A Washington Post / ABC News poll revealed that among Republicans, 75% approved of Trump's approach on Russia relative; 40% of all respondents approved. 28 This did not mean that conservatives and Republicans were "infiltrated" by the Kremlin. Mutual Russian and American conservative influences were limited and nonstructured. 29 The approval of Putin as a leader by American conservatives meant that they shared a certain commonality of ideas and were equally critical of liberal media and globalization. 30

Progressive and libertarian media also did not support the narrative of collusion. Gary Leupp at CounterPunch found the (p.88) narrative to be serving the purpose of reviving and even intensifying "Cold War-era Russophobia," with Russia being an "adversary" "only in that it opposes the expansion of NATO, especially to include Ukraine and Georgia." 31 Justin Raimondo at Antiwar.com questioned the narrative by pointing to Russia's bellicose rhetoric in response to Trump's actions. 32 Glenn Greenwald and Zaid Jilani at Intercept reminded readers that, overall, Trump proved to be far more confrontational toward Russia than Obama, thereby endangering America. 33 In particular Trump severed diplomatic ties with Russia, armed Ukraine, appointed anti-Russia hawks, such as ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, National Security Advisor John Bolton, and Secretary of State Michal Pompeo to key foreign policy positions, antagonized Russia's Iranian allies, and imposed tough sanctions against Russian business with ties to the Kremlin. 34

The dominant liberal media ignored opposing perspectives or presented them as compromised by Russia. For instance, in amplifying the view that Putin "stole" the elections, the Washington Post sought to discredit alternative sources of news and commentaries as infiltrated by the Kremlin's propaganda. On November 24, 2016, the newspaper published an interview with the executive director of a new website, PropOrNot, who preferred to remain anonymous, and claimed that the Russian government circulated pro-Trump articles before the election. Without providing evidence on explaining its methodology, the group identified more than two hundred websites that published or echoed Russian propaganda, including WikiLeaks and the Drudge Report , left-wing websites such as CounterPunch, Truthout, Black Agenda Report, Truthdig , and Naked Capitalism , as well as libertarian venues such as Antiwar.com and the Ron Paul Institute. 35 Another mainstream liberal outlet, CNN, warned the American people to be vigilant against the Kremlin's alleged efforts to spread propaganda: "Enormous numbers of (p.89) Americans are not only failing to fight back, they are also unwitting collaborators -- reading, retweeting, sharing and reacting to Russian propaganda and provocations every day." 36

However, voices of dissent were now heard even in the mainstream media. Masha Gessen of the New Yorker said that Trump's tweet about Robert Mueller's indictments and Moscow's "laughing its ass off" was "unusually (perhaps accidentally) accurate." 37 She pointed out that Russians of all ideological convictions "are remarkably united in finding the American obsession with Russian meddling to be ridiculous." 38 The editor of the influential Politico , Blake Hounshell, confessed that he was a Russiagate skeptic because even though "Trump was all too happy to collude with Putin," Mueller's team never found a "smoking gun." 39 In reviewing the book on Russia's role in the 2016 election Russian Roulette , veteran New York Times reporter Steven Lee Myers noted that the Kremlin's meddling "simply exploited the vulgarity already plaguing American political campaigns" and that the veracity of many accusations remained unclear. 40

Explaining Russophobia

The high-intensity Russophobia within the American media, overblown even by the standards of previous threat narratives, could no longer be explained by differences in national values or by bilateral tensions. The new fear of Russia also reflected domestic political polarization and growing national unease over America's identity and future direction.

The narrative of collusion in the media was symptomatic of America's declining confidence in its own values. Until the intervention in Iraq in 2004, optimism and a sense of confidence prevailed in American social attitudes, having survived even the terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001. The (p.90) country's economy was growing and its position in the world was not challenged. However, the disastrous war in Iraq, the global financial crisis of 2008, and Russia's intervention in Georgia in August 2008 changed that. US leadership could no longer inspire the same respect, and a growing number of countries viewed it as a threat to world peace. 41 Internally, the United States was increasingly divided. Following presidential elections in November 2016, 77% of Americans perceived their country as "greatly divided on the most important values." 42 The value divide had been expressed in partisanship and political polarization long before the 2016 presidential elections. 43 The Russia issue deepened this divide. According to a poll taken in October 2017, 63% of Democrats, but just 38% of Republicans, viewed "Russia's power and influence" as a major threat to the well-being of the United States. 44

During the US 2016 presidential elections, Russia emerged as a convenient way to accentuate differences between Democratic and Republican candidates, which in previous elections were never as pronounced or defining. The new elections deepened the partisan divide because of extreme differences between the two main candidates, particularly on Russia. Donald Trump positioned himself as a radical populist promising to transform US foreign policy and "drain the swamp" in Washington. His position on Russia seemed unusual because, by election time, the Kremlin had challenged the United States' position in the world by annexing Crimea, supporting Ukrainian separatism, and possibly hacking the DNC site.

The Russian issue assisted Clinton in stressing her differences from Trump. Soon after it became known that DNC servers were hacked, she embraced the view that Russia was behind the cyberattacks. She accused Russia of "trying to wreak havoc" in the United States and threatened retaliation. 45 In his turn, Trump used Russia to challenge Clinton's commitment to national security (p.91) and ability to serve as commander in chief. In particular, he drew public attention to the FBI investigation into Clinton's use of a private server for professional correspondence, and even noted sarcastically that the Russians should find thirty thousand missing emails belonging to her. The latter was interpreted by many in liberal media and political circles as a sign of Trump's being unpatriotic. 46 Clinton capitalized on this interpretation. She referred to the issue of hacking as the most important one throughout the campaign and challenged Trump to agree with assessments of intelligence agencies that cyberattacks were ordered by the Kremlin. She questioned Trump's commitments to US national security and accused him of being a "puppet" for President Putin. 47 Following Trump's victory, Clinton told donors that her loss should be partly attributed to Putin and the election hacks directed by him. 48

Clinton's arguments fitted with the overall narrative embraced by the mainstream media since roughly 2005 characterizing Russia as abusive and aggressive. Clinton viewed Russia as an oppressive autocratic power that was aggressive abroad to compensate for domestic weaknesses. Previously, in her book Hard Choices , then-secretary of state Clinton described Putin as "thin-skinned and autocratic, resenting criticism and eventually cracking down on dissent and debate." 49 This view was shared by President Obama, who publicly referred to Russia as a "regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors not out of strength but out of weakness." 50 During the election's campaign, Clinton argued that the United States should challenge Russia by imposing a no-fly zone in Syria with the objective of removing Assad from power, strengthening sanctions against the Russian economy, and providing lethal weapons to Ukraine in order to contain the potential threat of Russia's military invasion.

Following the elections, the partisan divide deepened, with liberal establishment attacking the "unpatriotic" Trump. Having (p.92) lost the election, Clinton partly attributed Trump's victory to the role of Russia and advocated an investigation into Trump's ties to Russia. In February 2017 the Clinton-influenced Center for American Progress brought on a former State Department official to run a new Moscow Project. 51 As acknowledged by the New Yorker , members of the Clinton inner circle believed that the Obama administration deliberately downplayed DNC hacking by the Kremlin. "We understand the bind they were in," one of Clinton's senior advisers said. "But what if Barack Obama had gone to the Oval Office, or the East Room of the White House, and said, 'I'm speaking to you tonight to inform you that the United States is under attack . . .' A large majority of Americans would have sat up and taken notice . . . it is bewildering -- it is baffling -- it is hard to make sense of why this was not a five-alarm fire in the White House." 52

In addition to Clinton, many other members of the Washington establishment, including some Republicans, spread the narrative of Russia "attacking" America. Republican politicians who viewed Clinton's defeat and the hacking attacks in military terms included those of chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain, who stated, "When you attack a country, it's an act of war," 53 and former vice president Dick Cheney, who called Russia's alleged interference in the US election "a very serious effort made by Mr. Putin" that "in some quarters that would be considered an act of war." 54 A number of Democrats also engaged in the rhetoric of war, likening the Russian "attack," as Senator Ben Cardin did, to a "political Pearl Harbor." 55

Rumors and leaks, possibly by members of US intelligence agencies, 56 and activities of liberal groups that sought to discredit Trump contributed to the Russophobia. In addition to the DNC hacking accusations, many fears of Russia in the media were based on the assumption that contacts, let alone cooperation with the (p.93) Kremlin, was unpatriotic and implied potentially "compromising" behavior: praise of Putin as a leader, possible business dealings with Russian "oligarchs," and meetings with Russian officials such Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. 57

There were therefore two sides to the Russia story in the US liberal media -- rational and emotional. The rational side had to do with calculations by Clinton-affiliated circles and anti-Russian groups pooling their resources to undermine Trump and his plans to improve relations with Russia. Among others, these resources included dominance within the liberal media and leaks by the intelligence community. The emotional side was revealed by the liberal elites' values and ability to promote fears of Russia within the US political class and the general public. Popular emotions of fear and frustration with Russia already existed in the public space due to the old Cold War memories, as well as disturbing post–Cold War developments that included wars in Chechnya, Georgia, and Ukraine. In part because of these memories, factions such as those associated with Clinton were successful in evoking in the public liberal mind what historian Richard Hofstadter called the "paranoid style" or "the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy." 58 Mobilized by liberal media to pressure Trump, these emotions became an independent factor in the political struggle inside Washington. The public display of fear and frustration with Russia and Trump could only be sustained by a constant supply of new "suspicious" developments and intense discussion by the media.

Russia's Role and Motives

Russia's "attacking" America and Trump's "colluding" with the Kremlin remained poorly substantiated. Taken together, the DNC hacking, Trump's and Putin's mutual praise, and Trump associates' (p.94) contacts with Russian officials implied Kremlin infiltration of the United States' internal politics. Yet viewed separately, each was questionable and unproven. Some of these points could have also been made about Hillary Clinton, who had ties to Russian -- not to mention Saudi Arabian -- business circles and Ukrainian politicians. 59 Political views cannot be counted as evidence. Contacts with Russian officials could have been legitimate exchanges of views about two countries' interests and potential cooperation. Even the CIA- and the FBI-endorsed conclusion that Russia attacked the DNC servers was questioned by some observers on the grounds that forensic evidence was lacking and that it relied too much on findings by one cybersecurity company. 60 In general, discussion of Russia in the US media lacked nuances and a sense of proportion. As Jesse Walker, an editor at Reason magazine and author of The United States of Paranoia , pointed out,

There's a difference between thinking that Moscow may have hacked the Democratic National Committee and thinking that Moscow actually hacked the election, between thinking the president may have Russian conflicts of interest and thinking he's a Russian puppet . . . when someone like the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman declares that Putin "installed" Donald Trump as president, he's moving out of the realm of plausible plots and into the world of fantasy. Similarly, Clinton's warning that Trump could be Putin's "puppet" leaped from an imaginable idea, that Putin wanted to help her rival, to the much more dubious notion that Putin thought he could control the impulsive Trump. (Trump barely seems capable of controlling himself.) 61

The loose and politically tendentious nature of discussions, circulation of questionable leaks and dossiers complied by unidentified (p.95) individuals, and lack of serious evidence led a number of observers to conclude that the Russia story was more about stopping Trump than about Russia. The Russian scandal was symptomatic of the poisonous state of bilateral relations that Democrats exploited for the purpose of derailing Trump. US-Russia relations became a hostage of partisan domestic politics. As one liberal and tough critic of Putin wrote, Democratic lawmakers' rhetoric of war in connection with the 2016 elections "places Republicans -- who often characterize themselves as more hawkish on Russia and defense -- in a bind as they try to defend to the new administration's strategy towards Moscow." 62 Another observer noted that Russiagate performed "a critical function for Trump's political foes," allowing "them to oppose Trump while obscuring key areas where they either share his priorities or have no viable alternative." 63

The described lack of confidence was reflected in the exaggerated fear that Russia was capable of destroying the West's values. However, Russia and Putin were neither omnipresent nor threatening to destroy the United States' political system. A number of analysts, such as Mark Schrad, identified fears of Russia as "increasingly hysterical fantasies" and argued that Russia was not a global menace. 64 If the Kremlin was indeed behind the cyberattacks, it was not for the reasons commonly broached. Rather than trying to subvert the US system, it sought to defend its own system against what it perceived as a US policy of changing regimes and meddling in Russia's internal affairs. The United States has a long history of covert activities in foreign countries. 65 Washington's establishment has never followed the advice given by prominent American statesmen such as George Kennan to let Russians "be Russians" and "work out their internal problems in their own manner." 66 Instead, the United States assumes that America defines the rules and boundaries of proper behavior in international politics, while others must simply follow the rules.

(p.96) Russia's basic motives remain defensive even when the Kremlin relies on assertive tactics. Russia's assertiveness, even in cyberspace, is of a reactive nature and is a response to US policies. Experts observe that Russia's conception of cyber and other informational power serves the overall purpose of protecting national sovereignty from encroachments by the United States. 67 Rather than fighting a full-scale information war with the West, Russia seeks to increase its status and strengthen its bargaining position in relations with the United States. 68 The Kremlin has been proposing to negotiate rules of cooperation in the cyber area since early in the twenty-first century. Motivated by an insistence on "cyber-sovereignty," Russia regularly proposes resolutions at the United Nations to prohibit "information aggression," In a 2011 letter to the United Nations General Assembly, Russia proposed an "International Code of Conduct for Information Security," stipulating that states subscribing to the code would pledge to "not use information and communications technologies and other information and communications networks to interfere with the internal affairs of other states or with the aim of undermining their political, economic and social stability." 69

Overall, what the Kremlin challenges is the United States' post–Cold War behavior that undermines Russia's status as a great power. Although Russia is not in a position to directly challenge the United States and the US-centered international order, the Kremlin hopes to gain external recognition as a great power by relying on low-cost methods and revealing the vulnerability of Western nations. Russia's capabilities and presence in global cyber and media space are limited, and the Kremlin is motivated by asymmetric deployment of its media, information, and cyber power.

[May 15, 2020] The Illusion of 'Free Markets' and 'Free Trade' by George D. O'Neill

There is a cost and "True cost". The latter is often hidden and might higher the the cost.
Notable quotes:
"... The Price Mechanism Theory only works well when there is honest and accurate information to understand the true costs, but our leadership is corrupt and has not been honest with us. In order to protect both American interests and American citizens, it is important to develop mechanisms to fully understand the consequences of many of our policies and who is making them. Who ..."
May 15, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Our elites have been responding to incentives which are beneficial to their institutions, and China, but detrimental to America.

A shell of a piano in the lobby of the Lee Plaza Hotel. The decades-long decline of the U.S. automobile industry is acutely reflected in the urban decay of Detroit, the city lovingly referred to as Motor City. (Photo by Timothy Fadek/Corbis via Getty Images) George D. O'Neill Jr. We have come to a point in our nation's public discourse where there is a widespread realization that many of the economic policies pursued and promoted by our political, business and media elites have failed us in multiple ways. We have heard our trade policies called "Free Trade" and "Free Market", but those statements were often dishonest.

When crafting these agreements, our elites have been responding to incentives which are beneficial to their institutions but detrimental to the well-being of American citizens.

... ... ...

The same is true for manufacturing businesses. The closing of a factory has huge costs for a neighborhood: unemployed people. Not just those from the factory, but the people who work at companies which supply goods and services to that factory. The consequences of a factory closing cascades through the economy. The tax base for that neighborhood is also eroded, which reduces the community's ability to maintain and deliver essential services and support civic institutions.

We cannot just turn off a factory like a light switch and turn it back on at will when the Chinese decide to raise their prices at a later date.

None of this takes into account the quality of the goods that we receive. We have just become aware that more than 90% of our pharmaceutical antibiotics are manufactured in China. When you hear of the big drug recalls, keep in mind many of them are from China, which is famous for ubiquitous and flagrant corruption as well as a disregard for quality control. Do we really know if our antibiotics are safe?

Now, back to our leadership, which we have relied on to guide our nation. Their incentives often lead them to make choices which do not benefit the American people. The Chinese have famously made generous deals with a sitting vice-president's son and a Secretary of State's stepson that likely insured high level government silence about their predatory practices. The Chinese have purchased important media assets, such as the largest film distribution company in America and inked lucrative media deals with huge media companies to purchase silence about their predatory behavior. The same is true with many other industries.

... ... ...

The Price Mechanism Theory only works well when there is honest and accurate information to understand the true costs, but our leadership is corrupt and has not been honest with us. In order to protect both American interests and American citizens, it is important to develop mechanisms to fully understand the consequences of many of our policies and who is making them. Who is making the decisions is often just as important as what is being decided.

George D. O'Neill, Jr., an artist, is the founder of The Committee for Responsible Foreign Policy and a board member of The American Ideas Institute, the parent of The American Conservative. Mr. O'Neill has been in the mining industry for more than four decades. He and his wife reside in Florida.


Kessler 20 hours ago

Correct. The so called "free markets & trade" worked in conditions after WWII, when US goverment used it's military and political influence to set up favorable economic & trade conditions for US. It's an utopian vision, that has nothing to do with real world.
MPC 19 hours ago • edited
It's important to recognize that it's not realistic to do all manufacturing in America, at least in the short term. We consume too much. Before the virus, we were already running on all cylinders as employment was concerned and have been for a few years.

There is a significant difference however in our trade dependencies being on China, versus Japan, Mexico, Vietnam, or India. The former is a geopolitical rival, the latter are not. In fact, laying groundwork to move more of our trade to the latter builds up China's regional rivals at the expense of China, and at comparatively less expense to us.

It's not healthy for a future multipolar world for such a capable power projector as China to be so disproportionately profiting from declining hegemon America.

The Coolie MPC 10 hours ago • edited
If you think the hallowing of the US economy with it increasing wage inequalities, outsized wealth allocation to financial sectors, increasingly political divisions, etc. is because CHINA BAD, then you are no different than the other corporate profiteers who dug us in this hole in the first place. This is how the corporatists are trying to avoid blame for their fundamentalist policies over the past four decades. They lash out, "It's only the BAD Chinese, everything will be better if we just move it to Vietnam/Bangladesh/Ethiopia."
MPC The Coolie 10 hours ago • edited
You ascribe things to me that have nothing to do with what I said. The Chinese are not bad, just a competitor, and China is not responsible for America's own choices.

You're just replacing one utopian thinking about free trade, with another about economic protectionism. The world doesn't fit neatly around ideological dogma.

Until you square America's overconsumption you have to tolerate trade deficits. You can make strategic choices about where they come from at least. Free traders were not honest about impacts on domestic industry. Domestic protectionism is not being honest about the fact that for it to succeed, consumption of imported goods, and some domestic, to free up capacity to import substitute, has to tank, without the prospect of enough domestic production happening to replace them, and certainly not at anything like the price levels that exist currently.

In the long run overconsumption should be attacked. Strategic, mutually beneficial trade relationships will still exist. In the short run we should be more careful about the source of trade deficits. Overconsumption will not be solved overnight. But that's not a neat campaign slogan.

The Coolie MPC 8 hours ago
I don't disagree with the problems of an over-consumption reliant economy, which prefers we purchase new TVs every 3 years, smartphones every 2 years, and 3 new winter coats every season. But it's a huge fallacy to imagine that reallocating production to Vietnam or Bangladesh will reduce China's power. Who will be creating those factories? Sorry, Chinese investment. Where will the logistics chain need to connect? Sorry, all roads will lead to China - both for its 1.4 billion consumer and their ability to control the higher end of the manufacturing. When will they demand China's inclusion in a grouping like TPP? Sorry, within 1-2 years of signing that supposed "Keep China Out" agreement. Guess whose economies will be even more reliant on China? You guessed it, all those supposed U.S. allies who want no part in global decoupling.
Wally 17 hours ago • edited
It was ok to let low margin manufacturing move offshore because Americans were going to move up the value chain. These other countries, like China, would develop their economy, lift a few billion people out of poverty, and transform themselves into beacons of freedom and democracy across the developing world. The globalists told us this over and over again. China (and India) would make our plastic junk and we would sell them financial products and services like credit default swaps and make a killing!

And that's how it worked out. The bankers made out. No one cared about the displaced factory workers because it was their own fault they weren't smart enough to become Wall Street masters of the universe. Buying American, we were told way back in the 80s by Saint Ronald Reagan was a scam to support corrupt unions and lazy management. How dare they demand, for example, that Japanese car makers locate here in the US. We should just let them import what they want and let Ford go bankrupt. Union busting was more important than anything else.

MPC Wally 11 hours ago
What you want with trade is to keep it somewhat balanced, and watch employment. To continue the example Japan exports roughly twice to us what we export to them. Ideally that'd be more even, but who is going to make more products to export to Japan, or produce Japanese products here? You'll have to fight for workers already being employed elsewhere. And many on the right probably would not like the idea of more immigrants to help staff production, or to free up Americans to staff it.

America does suck up too many talented people into well paid jobs that do little to advance us, but certainly not enough to correct the trade imbalances of every country we trade with. Probably not even Japan whose imbalance is a tiny fraction of China's.

America's trade imbalances are a collaboration between foreign producers seeing opportunities, domestic elites seeing major profit, but most importantly Americans themselves whose consumption impulses are so, so lucrative. Americans cannot make all the stuff that Americans want right now. Enter immigrants. Enter outsourcing. Enter major trade deficits. People profit on the exchange, but this is a setup that America collectively has voted for with its wallet, over and over again.

kouroi MPC 10 hours ago
Also America makes/made products that other people don't want. From 2 by 4 lumber in inches and feet, when the rest of the world is in metric system, to oversize fridges and pick-up trucks that do not fit in the European or Japanese size houses and roads.
Kent 16 hours ago
"Deliver a good product at a price and quality acceptable to the customer."

LOL. Obviously a failed businessman. The purpose is to put your customer's money in your pocket. If your customer is making a profit off of your product, raise the price. If the customer balks and buys from a different vendor, buy all the vendors. Create a monopoly. Once you have a monopoly, stop paying whiney American workers who expect decent pay and respect, and have Chinese slaves make your product. The purpose of the "Free Market" is not about price. It's about maximizing shareholder value. It's not about creating good jobs, America or any of that other nostalgia from the pre-Free Market days.

It's about liberty. The liberty of the property and capital owning class to keep their wealth (their wealth is the same thing as your labor), in their hands and away from you and your stupid government's grubby, unwashed hands.

FND Kent 15 hours ago
The ideal market conditions result in happy customers and profitable businesses. Its true that ideal market conditions often don't prevail when a monopoly is created. But what makes it even worse is when government enables those conglomerates to become even larger by making it impossible for small businesses to compete due to onerous regulations and gobbletygook tax loopholes gained by conglomerate lobbyists.

I believe the economic policies based on the dominant economic theory in Germany is the best approach for a solid, competitive economy. That theory is Ordo-liberalism, which allows government to make sure a proper legal environment for the economy exists to maintain a healthy level of competition through measures that adhere to market principles.

The Ordo-liberalists believe if the state does not take active measures to foster competition, firms with monopoly power will emerge, which will not only subvert the advantages offered by the market economy, but also possibly undermine good government, since strong economic power can be transformed into political power. We have seen this happen in the US and it is BIPARTISAN. In fact some of the worst examples of unholy alliances between corporations and government come from the Dem side of the aisle.

joeo 14 hours ago
The open markets, open borders policy has been good for the elite but detrimental for the US. Millions of immigrants were let in as the jobs they could perform were outsourced to China and Asia in general. Consumer electronics,textiles,steel, appliances, automotive and manufacturing of all sorts were allowed to leave. Not everyone can be a coder, work on Wall Street, for the Government or Academia. This same elite is aghast at the rise of Trump, what else could anyone have reasonably expected?
Harry Huntington 14 hours ago
The problem is Milton Friedman was wrong about central planning. Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations was written when communication systems were poor, so localized information was better. With modern data collection, "big data" analysis, AI and other such tools central planning exists and works. We call the winners in that planning world companies like Walmart and Amazon. We also know that central planning in the US worked with less than perfect data. The War Production Board in the US in WWII did allocate production of all those things necessary to manufacture Milton Friedman's needle (or more likely a cotter pin). There were imperfections but we let those run over into the consumer segment of goods. Flash forward to today, the "free market" is the myth used to convince average American to allow hedge funds, private equity, and companies like Bain Captial ship their jobs overseas. Especially as we move to robots, there is no reason to import any manufactured goods. Likewise, those pesky environmental rules we have? There is no reason we don't apply those rules to things people seek to sell in the US market--meaning we could make an importer prove goods were manufactured according to US standards. Health and safety standards are not sources of "comparative advantage" in free market theories.
kouroi Harry Huntington 10 hours ago
And this is why the Chinese, Russians, Indians, Iranians, Japanese, Europeans, Koreans, don't want their economies run from Wall Street and carefully control the shares owned by outsiders.
Tradcon 13 hours ago • edited
I think on the topic of "planning" its important to clarify. Some call any government intervention an example of "central planning" while others apply that term only to Soviet-style Gosplan. Either way the "Knowledge Problem", while true to an extent, is incomplete. The fact of the matter is we don't need to know everything about the market to make correct decisions regarding what economic goals we want to set, and there is a scale, a difference, between something like the American System and Gosplan. Julius Krein's article in the American Compass was excellent, I'll link it below. One need only look to the success of the East Asian Tigers or to the US from 1791-1965 (dates vary) to see the success of a healthy sort of developmentalist "planning". Not all planning has to be adverse to private business, the most successful types are done in conjunction with it. There will be imperfections whether the government is involved or not, the fact that imperfections will exist or that mistakes might be made is no excuse for inaction, especially when that inaction leads to the situation we're currently in regarding pharmaceuticals.

https://americancompass.org...

kouroi Tradcon 10 hours ago
How about all the externalities that an unregulated free-market tends to forget?
Tradcon kouroi 5 hours ago
Yes Krein goes into that. A market does not take into account national security.
kouroi Tradcon 2 hours ago
Yes, interesting article. I liked how quickly in the article it started talking about risk and the important role government has in mitigating that risk.

What is also missing from this entire discussion about free markets, which is essential and it is eschewed or pooh-pooed or entirely not acknowledged by libertarians and conservatives alike (not that progressive / liberals talk about it), is what is the role of representative democracy in steering how economy (which is a means to an end, not an end to itself) should work, what is the role of government, and who's really the sovereign (We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.....).

Is the government by the people and for the people or it isn't? Are there proper mechanisms in place to oversee how well operations are conducted by government, according to approved budgets? Is government supposed to do forecasting and crystal balling solely by using think tank reports or should have internal professional and knowledgeable analysts doing this work (I swear on the constitution of the US to serve, etc., etc, etc.).

All this rabbit hole over which libertarians and conservatives starting with Reagan have been pooping on. Nixon nowadays, or Eisenhower wouldn't be accepted by Republicans, nor FDR by Democrats... And talking about free markets and democracy, it is puzzling to have just a duopoly entrenched in the marketplace of political ideas in the US. Everything else is literally killed.

HistoryProf 12 hours ago
It's too easy to just blame corrupt elites and therefore let the system itself completely off the hook. Any system that allows for a small number of private entities to twist everything to their personal advantage is a system with major structural flaws. The essential core of the problem is that any system pursued too rigidly and ideologically will lead to short-sighted decisions that ultimately lead to perverse and absurd outcomes.Offshoring most of our manufacturing wasn't a corrupt decision made by a small cabal of villains. It was a logical, yet ultimately destructive, result of blind and unthinking pursuit of pure "free trade."

Imagine a society (like the U.S.) to be like an organism with a heart, lungs, brain, limbs, etc. Now imagine that each part of the body is told to maximize its own benefit without any concern for the organism as a whole.

Those in charge of the brain say "We function better with more blood flow, so let's block off blood flow to the arms and legs so that we get more. Great idea!" Now the organism's brain is doing great, but its arms and legs wither and die.

"We are benefiting from the increased blood flow too," says the lungs, "but the heart just isn't producing enough for us to really flourish." What if we outsource blood pumping to an external entity that promises us more volume? So now the heart dies and what is left of the organism is now hooked to an external machine to keep it alive.

"Why do we have to rely on an inefficient mouth and teeth to give us our source material?" chimes the stomach. "How about a feeding tube to give us cheaper and faster raw materials?" Etc etc etc.

On and on it goes with some parts doing great from their perspective, but with the overall organism being hollowed out and weakened.

The best type of economic system in a country is a mixed one that blends together capitalism with some degree of central thinking and planning (egads, heresy!) about how decisions could adversely affect the long term health of the country as a whole.

kouroi HistoryProf 10 hours ago
Nice comparison. Are you letting us think and believe that one part of the body ends up thinking that is in fact totally independent and can leave all the rest wither and die? With deep psychopathic tendencies, that filters all the stimuli and the information received from the body, except its own?

No wonder revolutions happen...

Inn caritas 12 hours ago
"Libertarianism" was never about liberty: it's just swapping the dictatorship of the state for the dictatorship of the market.
Egyptsteve Inn caritas 9 hours ago
Libertarianism: Let me smoke my weed, have my gay sex, and don't make me pay any taxes.
L RNY 11 hours ago
The communists had said that capitalism would sell the seeds of its own destruction. Our elites came up with free trade but chose to ignore that free trade was merely a facade to export jobs and import goods with them skimming the profit. They chose to ignore all the financial (and political) machinations like currency rigging, state subsidies, forced state sharing or ownership of technology when off shored to China, they choise to ignore prison labor and others. This isnt about free trade or free markets because there is no such thing. Every nation has a different social welfare system, medical system, tax system, copyright and patent system, system of legal bribery and payoff, etc and each is meant to tip the scales of free markets and free trade to their advantage (and in the case of China a technological and monopolistic and militaristic advantage). We are now at a point where the game and the cards have been revealed though the Democrats have been profiting for so long that they want to keep the game going with the Chinese and other foreign nations (its easy money to line their pockets and their campaign funds since they dont have to listen to their constituents diverse views...they just need to manage them and listen to Chinese demands). Id say the american citizenry is boiling mad and arent far away from boiling over but we shall see where it goes or if it goes anywhere. To date Trumps restrictions on immigration and his trade deals are better than the nonexistent policies of the democrats but they are will woefully catering to the elites and lacking in spine and substance to do as Trump promised.
kouroi L RNY 10 hours ago
I think prison labour is more relevant and widespread in the US rather than China. China has all the political interest to provide work for all the free multitudes teaming in their cities and countryside, why to give that to prisoners?

Same as the story with the Uighur camps. Just seen recently a Reuters article on the Russian vessel arriving in Germany to finish laying down the NS2 pipeline, with satellite pictures, etc. Just a ship. However, there was no picture provided to the world to show the massive developments required to house 1 million people, not one, and I looked.

Sorry, just a pet peeve of mine to see statements that don't stand close scrutiny.

Mario Diana 8 hours ago • edited
The Price Mechanism Theory only works well when there is honest and accurate information to understand the true costs [ ]

You're conflating the economic with the political. There is nothing wrong with Mises' work on prices and how they coordinate an advanced, widely distributed, division-of-labor economy. It works in the "macro" as well as the "micro" -- because that is an artificial distinction (something Mises could tell you about, too).

The fallacy is imagining that economic theory is the be-all-end-all. When people think that, they ignore political considerations and consequences, to the detriment of society at large. The bottom line is there is nothing wrong with free trade among free countries in a peaceful world. The political situation of the present world, however, demands a somewhat more modified approach. If these are the "true costs" you're talking about, fine. But you've expressed it in such a way as to muddy the waters of what is an honest and accurate economic theory.

Amicus Brevis Mario Diana 2 hours ago • edited
That is because he doesn't understand what really happened in China. If you read this thread you also see many theories. They are all based on preconceptions and not actually reading about what happened China after the gang of four were ousted. They understand the consequences and they theorize about the cause. But they don't have to theorize. There is an actual history.

China was not selling cheap products to the United States until about three decades after the job transfers started and it was almost already done by then. The truth is, China had nothing to export but its labor. It did that by letting American and other companies set up in China for exploitative wages and protected them by denying its people any rights. They then built products under American management and training. The products were then shipped back to the US as "Chinese" products. But they really were American products made in China. The companies here were not protecting China. They were protecting themselves directly. The jobs transfer was not an unfortunate side effect. It was the whole point. China had nothing to trade. Mao had destroyed the economy.

Steveb 7 hours ago
I recall a long time ago when there was a documentary on this topic and one of the workers from a electric appliance manufacturing facility was interviewed. They were complaining about the Chinese manufactures taking over their product line with cheaper products and causing layoffs at the plant. The moderator asked them where they shopped, they replied "Walmart". When the moderator pointed out that Walmart was the leader in offshoring to get cheaper products, like the appliances they made, they just stared.

You are going to somehow have to make Americans pay more for the same thing they can get cheaper from China. Who is going to do that? Not going to be those workers you are trying to protect, they don't have the money to do that. Price is king to them, it is only those snobby liberal types that can afford to do that.

Lets say you manage to get our factory worker to buy 1 expensive American shirt instead of 3 cheap Chinese shirts for the same price. They are not going to get 3 times the life out of that shirt so they are in the hole for that purchase.

Lets say you are really persuasive and the workers really do change, what about all the rest of the people that were employed in the retail and supply chain? What are they going to do? You just put them out of business. You are just deciding to move around who is unemployed.

What about the exporters? Do you really think that China is going to buy American products if you don't buy theirs? How did Trumps trade war work out? Have we won yet? As I recall it cost the average consumer between 500 and 1000 dollars by the time all the tariffs were applied and the farmers and ranchers in the Midwest that exported there are now on government welfare because they could not sell their products. His new "deal" was panned by economists as being nothing more than a minor cosmetic change, the same as the updated NAFTA deal that really changed little.

It is fun to blame the elites but it is a bit simplistic as the american workers have not had a problem sacrificing a few other workers to save some of their own money. If you want to change that you are going to have to start at the bottom and work up.

− +

Gregtown Tradcon 5 hours ago

It should be mentioned that the cheap clothing we buy is rarely made in China. China has leveled up and no longer makes the general crap people buy. The shirt cheap t-shirt I'm wearing was made in Vietnam.
aha! 4 hours ago
A free market with foreign governments is an impossibility. We would have to know every single that is happening within their government and that will never happen. Indeed our internal free market is fading away due to cronyism and secrecy within our own governments. Tax breaks to lure businesses to your state are anti-free market (not to mention the taxes still have to be paid, by the people who are already there). Tax breaks and subsidies to companies already in your state (like windmills and solar panels) are anti-free market. So the conclusion that I draw is the Democrat and Republican parties are imbeciles and crooks and both parties must be destroyed.
Amicus Brevis 3 hours ago • edited
If you believe economic efficiency is the primary value, you would say, "if the Chinese are stupid enough to sell us products below their costs, we should be happy to take advantage of their stupidity." True enough .

But it is not true that is what is happening. It never happened. Chinese invited American companies to manufacture in China. China was selling labor. Not products. It had no products to sell. But when the American companies in China use Chinese labor to manufacture American products the products come to America marked "made in China". But all that the Chinese really sold was cheap labor without rights .

The second thing to know is that the Chinese forbid American companies to use their own brand names in China. They had to create Chinese companies that are 51% Chinese owned but wholly American managed with Chinese management in training. The Americans operated as if they were at home. The only difference is that they had Chinese under studies and the line workers were Chinese. The American companies didn't care because they were making money hand over foot. So when they spoke of "free trade" we were selling out America workers and bringing home cheap goods that our public loved. This was called globalism. That was phase one.

In the second stage, the Chinese quietly reminded the Americans that these were Chinese companies and it was time to begin to promote their Chinese understudies. The Americans didn't care because they still maintained control from America. And they could always find spots for the management back home. But from the Chinese point of view, they now had American technology in Chinese companies, run by Chinese. The technology was now theirs.

They felt free to grow their businesses with wholly owned and controlled subsidiaries since they now owned the technology. This was when the American companies began to scream about intellectual property. They cared because the interests of the rich were now being hurt. When they were stealing American jobs, that was Ok. Only then did our government see a problem. Shipping American jobs overseas is globalism, but shipping patents and copyrights is not. Globalism was always a con. It never existed. It was simply a smokescreen to exploit cheap, unprotected labor in the developing world. They knew from the start that it was not good for America. It was not a discovery. They didn't care because it made them rich.

Fletcher an hour ago
Though I largely agree with the premise of this article the assumptions latent in mr. O'Neill's thinking specifically the US government has to do anything in reflection to the Chinese Communist politburo misses the point of freedom and property rights, in an economy free of the regulatory burden that the oligarchs in pose on the market through their governmental collusion not to mention the tax burden that helps to maintain the shipping lanes to China the American manufacturer will be fine. It should also be said for me environmental point of view free of state protection the perpetrators of mountaintop removal coal mining,glyphosate manufacture etc. Would find themselves much more vulnerable to civil lawsuit/tort law.

[May 15, 2020] "Lifting all boats" was always a lie. It was simply a way to sell trickle down by claiming that the objectively observable inequality it produced would somehow help everyone, eventually, sort of

May 15, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

L , May 14, 2020 at 11:16 am

"Lifting all boats" was always a lie. It was simply a way to sell trickle down by claiming that the objectively observable inequality it produced would somehow help everyone, eventually, sort of. There was not and has never been a plan by the Conservative Movement to lift all boats. Only a plan to feign interest in doing so.

Synoia , May 14, 2020 at 11:36 am

The rich were riding on the Boats being lifted by the workers.

orlbucfan , May 14, 2020 at 11:42 am

That pattern has appeared throughout recorded world history. How is it peacefully stopped?

Ed Miller , May 14, 2020 at 7:45 pm

I see the current situation more like the sinking of the Titanic (whether caused by the virus or shady financial dealing, it doesn't matter). The rich passengers get the lifeboats and the rest of the passengers get the ice water. A few survived in the water, so it's time to look to the future. Crony capitalism in a nutshell.

Bsoder , May 14, 2020 at 5:40 pm

Lifting all yachts.

[May 14, 2020] Libertarians who are extraordinarily sensitive to the least legal limitation on negative freedom are usually completely immune to the idea that structural features of capitalist society are coercive and freedom-limiting

May 14, 2020 | crookedtimber.org

Anarcho 05.06.20 at 3:18 pm 5

"Libertarians who are extraordinarily sensitive to the least legal limitation on negative freedom are usually completely immune to the idea that structural features of capitalist society are coercive and freedom-limiting. "

I think you will discover that those who coined the term libertarian (libertarie) which the propertarians knowning stole in the 1950s are well aware of those structural features -- as Proudhon argued, property is both theft and despotism.:

http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/160-years-libertarian

Please don't let these defenders of private tyranny continue their abuse of the good left-wing word libertarian.

[May 11, 2020] What is the neoliberal freedom exactly? Freedom to be replaced by a machine, without any forward thinking plan by society? Freedom to be hungry? Freedom to rampage and kill others?

May 11, 2020 | www.unz.com

Ilya G Poimandres , says: Show Comment May 9, 2020 at 6:01 am GMT

@onebornfree Anti what freedom exactly? Freedom to be replaced by a machine, without any forward thinking plan by society? Freedom to be hungry? Freedom to rampage and kill others?

This American freedom is an ideology on par with the nihilistic ideology of ISIS. It is an embrace of materialism through Epicurianism. Why exactly is this freedom to crave endlessly, superior to the freedom the CCP aims for its people – freedom from destitution?

You say they are enslaved, but they would say you are enslaved. You say that society enslave their individuality, they would say your individualism enslaved your society.

Any chance of finding a balanced middle ground? Cause the Chinese are closer to it atm.

[May 07, 2020] Neoliberal society does not fare well in any large scale epidemic: The neoliberal dogma of "Freedom for the nihilistic narcissistic ego individual over everything else" lead to anto-social behaviour -- many people today willingly prefer to rake risk and to go to concerts and beer gardens than to deny themselves those small joys in favor of their compatriots

May 07, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

DontBelieveEitherPr. , May 6 2020 19:21 utc | 2

Well, you were indeed right. And your reporting better than most if not all MSM articles written by other laymen. And all without any professional experience. Just by trusting in scientific methods, data and knowledge, instead of making a conspiracy out of thin air.
In those times, that is an amazing achievement.

But when i hear how few people are tested, when i hear of multiple deaths in my circle of people, and see the society unable to unite against such a threat, i dont have much hope for how this will go on.
The last 4 sentences say everything about our western societies, including us Germans.
The only profiteers are the rich, toilet paper and noodle merchants, and politicians (who now race each other in opening up BEER GARDENS and CONCERTS with 100 people).


Many people today willingly prefer to go to concerts and beer gardens than to deny themselves those small joys in favor of their compatriots.
Our society is doom. The neoliberal dogma of "Freedom for the nihilistic narcissistic ego individual over everything else" destroyed what was left of it.

bevin , May 6 2020 19:21 utc | 3

Here Lee, look at this series of reports: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/05/06/nurs-m06.html

"..At one New York City nursing home, the Isabella Geriatric Center in Manhattan's Washington Heights, nearly 100 of its 705 residents have died..."

"..In Medfield, Massachusetts, north of Boston, COVID-19 has killed 54 residents over the past four weeks at the Courtyard Nursing Care Center. An additional 117 residents and 42 employees have tested positive for the virus..."

" A shocking 84 residents have died at the facility since the virus outbreak. Eighty-one employees have tested positive for the coronavirus.

"... deaths at the Soldiers' Home were initially hidden from both the mayor of Holyoke and local health officials, who only became aware of the developing situation when employees at the facility reached out to them. Staff said management at the facility refused to provide them with PPE and instructed them to crowd patients together from multiple wards into a single ward as a solution to staffing shortages due to infections..."

"..A particularly gruesome discovery took place in mid-April when police found 17 corpses piled up at the Subacute and Rehabilitation Center in Andover, New Jersey. The bodies were stacked in a small morgue designed to hold a maximum of four bodies. The more than 2,000 deaths of staff and residents in New Jersey's long-term facilities account for about 40 percent of the state's coronavirus-related deaths."

There's more much more. And not just from the United States either.

[May 06, 2020] Whom Bitcoin brings together

May 06, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Deltaeus , May 6 2020 9:29 utc | 63

@karlof1 | May 5 2020 21:05 utc | 18

There was an amusing quote from somewhere, something like:

Bitcoin brings together
everything people don't understand about money with
everything people don't understand about technology.

[May 05, 2020] Governments are developed to establish justice, ensure tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare. Without these no market is possible. There is no "free market" without government.

May 05, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

jadan , May 5 2020 12:29 utc | 153

William Gruff | May 5 2020 10:46 utc | 144

Markets are created and managed by government, Mr. Gruff. Governments are developed to establish justice, ensure tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare. Without these no market is possible. There is no "free market" without government.

[May 03, 2020] It is already possible, at this stage, to draw some lessons from the shock inflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic on world order. The first is that the international order built under the aegis of the United States in the aftermath of the Second World War is no longer adapted to the reality of the balance of power of the 21st century.

May 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Mao , May 3 2020 13:25 utc | 2

Google translation:

After the coronavirus pandemic: a world order to reinvent

Editorial. The health crisis is profoundly changing the relationships between major powers. In this context, Europe, if it wants to weigh, must start by organizing its own reconstruction.

"World" editorial. Are we witnessing, under the effect of the global health crisis, a radical transformation of our geopolitical environment? Does the dynamic at work stem from the acceleration of pre-existing trends or from a paradigm shift? Will the next world be worse or better than the one before?

These questions are as legitimate as those we have been asking ourselves for two months about the future of our societies and our economies. And trying to respond to it is just as risky as long as we do not know the duration of the crisis, its magnitude, or how it will be overcome.

But it is already possible, at this stage, to draw some lessons from the shock inflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic on world order. The first is that the international order built under the aegis of the United States in the aftermath of the Second World War is no longer adapted to the reality of the balance of power of the 21st century.

It was already fragile before the coronavirus crisis: some even trace the beginning of its dislocation to the collapse of the Communist bloc in 1989.

The end of the Cold War, the disappearance of the USSR and the rise of China gradually unbalanced a world based on American-Soviet duality. The bipolar order was succeeded by a multipolar disorder, which somehow accommodated - less and less well, in reality - a multilateral mode of global governance.

https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2020/04/30/apres-la-pandemie-liee-au-coronavirus-un-ordre-mondial-a-reinventer_6038253_3232.html


vk , May 3 2020 13:58 utc | 7

... ... ...

On more important news, here's why the USA will never get up from the 2008-2020 meltdown:

The scarring

Walter , May 3 2020 14:25 utc | 10
vk That's a cool link. I particularly appreciated his definition of hysteresis as econo types use it.

I was raised by people who were teenage in 1930-33...and I can assure you that he's right...tough times create lasting changes in behavior.

Norwegian , May 3 2020 16:29 utc | 27
@spudski | May 3 2020 15:45 utc | 21
FWIW, when talking about magnetizing current and a ferromagnetic material (e.g., a transformer core), hysteresis and hysteresis losses are very real.

Hysteresis is a very real physical phenomenon in many different areas. In my field (structural analysis) friction between parts causes hysteresis when subject to (semi-)cyclic loading. It is the most significant effect to take into account when estimating life-time of offshore risers for example.

[May 03, 2020] What would it take to restore USA's standing?

May 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 1 2020 23:38 utc | 100

The reciprocal question: What would it take to restore USA's standing?

First, since the Outlaw US Empire has no stated Industrial Policy we can review we must instead look at past performance as shown by real GDP . We can see the 5 main bubbles inflated then deflated then reinflated by Neoliberal policy since it roared into force with Reagan. In real terms, the economy has shrunk in its productive power to where it was in 1982, and the new figures will push that back further in time to when Nixon went off gold in 1971. Thus the change from putting money directly into the economy via traditional Keynesian methods prior to 1971 to the siphoning of money out of the economy into the hands of Wall Street as per Neoliberal doctrine afterwards, all nicely explained in realtime by Michael Hudson in his first edition of Super Imperialism . IMO, we can see that Neoliberalism is a complete and utter failure when it comes to providing equitable economic growth, and as a policy it must be terminated forthwith.

Second, if we resume traditional Industrial Capitalism by first eliminating the Fed, writing down all federal, consumer, state, local, and some corporate debt, instituting universal healthcare, and then inject money into the economy for businesses and people to use, we'll have an opportunity to jumpstart the economy since by greatly lowering the cost of doing business the workforce and businesses will become more competitive and cause some of the lost supply chains to relocate. Also implicit in this plan is the vast reduction in the USA's overseas empire and its military and security apparatus. The USA will for the first time become a Normal Nation.

Third, during their resumption, workplaces must be democratized along the lines suggested by Richard Wolff, which will initiate the long process of growing a socialist economic structure to prepare for the following realities: The finite nature of the planet and our current environmental crisis of Overshoot which are interrelated. The Age of Growth will end as a necessity, and the Steady-State Age will commence--there's no other rational, logical choice: Gaia's dictating to us and we really have no choice.

Eventually, the USA will find itself amidst 180+ moderately prosperous nations it must share the planet's wealth with in a neighborly manner. IMO, nuances there will be, but broadly there's no other Moral of Just way to proceed if humanity's to have a fighting chance during the 22nd Century and beyond.

[May 03, 2020] "Pleonexia, sometimes called pleonexy, originating from the Greek , is a philosophical concept which roughly corresponds to greed, covetousness, or avarice, and is strictly defined as 'the insatiable desire to have what rightfully belongs to others', suggesting what Ritenbaugh describes as 'ruthless self-seeking and an arrogant assumption that others and things exist for one's own benefit'"

May 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 1 2020 18:22 utc | 63

Pleonexia is a concept I introduced into a discussion of a similar topic about 2 or so years ago on this board as being at the root for the decline and fall of the Outlaw US Empire. Here's what Wiki says about it at the link:

"Pleonexia, sometimes called pleonexy, originating from the Greek πλεονεξία, is a philosophical concept which roughly corresponds to greed, covetousness, or avarice, and is strictly defined as ' the insatiable desire to have what rightfully belongs to others ', suggesting what Ritenbaugh describes as ' ruthless self-seeking and an arrogant assumption that others and things exist for one's own benefit '" [My Emphasis]

That trait's shared by all Imperialist nations all of which arose based on the same Greco-Roman foundations or learned those traits from them as in the case of the Japanese. Indeed, that such traits aren't recognized speaks to the illiteracy of those rising to or placed in leadership positions as they seem to be totally unaware of the numerous lessons within Greek and Roman literature/culture--lessons known by the Founders and others 250 years ago when to be considered educated you had to know Greek, Latin, and their classical literature. As Walter says, it's a Greek Tragedy; but the play began in the last quarter of the 19th Century as has also been written about.

Those running the Outlaw US Empire seem oblivious to the wall they're about to run the nation into, or we might say it's a cliff that will take the nation into the abyss. The G-20 determined last year that a new global currency to conduct commerce was required to replace the dollar. A short discussion and linking of articles occurred on that topic yesterday between me and Likklemore. Bevin insisted we discuss the failure of Capitalism and what needs to come next as its replacement. I've advocated the need for a steady-state socialist system as the new global political-economy. As I reported, a prominent Singaporean in promoting his newest book wrote in The Economist that the advent of the pandemic marks the start of the Asian Century thanks to the gross Moral Failure of the West and the Outlaw US Empire as its lead nation.

How does a group of people get cured of Pleonexia? It's likely way too late for the current crop of oligarchs; but what of their heirs who were presumably schooled in similar fashion to their elders, and their progeny? I'm with Hudson in that their wealth must be written down close to zero, and the new system emplaced will not allow a repetition. Meanwhile, someone needs to get busy writing about the current Tragedy such that future generations can learn its lessons so they're not repeated.

[May 01, 2020] Trump is a salesman first and foremost. As a former pharmaceutical rep I am well aware that most salesmen are suckers for most sales pitches as an intrinsic part of their personalities.

The absence of sufficient state controls in a democracy enables the wealthy class to manipulate the economy, the press and elected representatives for its own gain. A widening gulf between poverty and affluence develops, gradually dragging the working class to ruin
Notable quotes:
"... Our economy is based on the wet dream of sycophants like Mnuchin who barely escaped prison for his games in the wake of devastation of the subprime loan disaster on 2008, and neoliberals who are much better at playing him then the opposite. So he's a puppet for Wall Street AND a closet neocon. Would the demonstrably senile Biden be any better? Not a chance, so once again the majority of Americans are left with a sham election whereby two flavors of the same shit are what's being fed to us. ..."
May 01, 2020 | www.unz.com

Gyre07 , says: Show Comment April 30, 2020 at 3:45 pm GMT

@Priss Factor Assuming he's even motivated by a desire to make America a better Constitutional Republic, Trump is a salesman first and foremost. As a former pharmaceutical rep I am well aware that most salesmen are suckers for most sales pitches as an intrinsic part of their personalities.

So as I watch Trump being manipulated continuously by a variety of slick and confident grifters inhabiting the world stage with their multitude of transparent agendas I can only go, "that figures". I mean, he's basically just a more alpha version of GW Bush, so the fact that we haven't gone full gonzo yet on another nation is something of a miracle. Instead he's waging war by collapsing economies he views as competitors OR those of countries he wants to invade to steal natural resources from. As for the health of America, we're fucked.

Our economy is based on the wet dream of sycophants like Mnuchin who barely escaped prison for his games in the wake of devastation of the subprime loan disaster on 2008, and neoliberals who are much better at playing him then the opposite. So he's a puppet for Wall Street AND a closet neocon. Would the demonstrably senile Biden be any better? Not a chance, so once again the majority of Americans are left with a sham election whereby two flavors of the same shit are what's being fed to us.

Digital Samizdat , says: Show Comment April 30, 2020 at 4:49 pm GMT
@anon

Government and big money seem to have formed a nexus, dominated by a very small number of people, who seem to be at war with us.

I seem to agree.

Emily , says: Show Comment April 30, 2020 at 9:34 pm GMT
Until the American people demand electoral reform – you ain't going nowhere.
You need another party and you need to vote for it.
Stuff the neo lib or neo lib or neo lib – of the existing choice.
You have a two headed hydra – in reality a one party state.
Financed and controlled by puppet masters.
The democracy in the US is a total sham
A fraud and farce.
And you need fair voting.
Used by most democracies – PR – Proportional Representation.
Where votes mean seats.
A Ron Paul party would be a dream.
But until America gets off its fat bots and seriously acts to become a democratic state – you are getting what you continue to vote for.
Greed, corruption and elite rule – bought and paid for in the House and Senate down.
Nothing but a puppet, pawn and tax collector for another foreign power.
And you dare to mass murder and bomb in the name of 'regime change' and democracy to create your vile rule of law across the planet
Gross, an abomination – a facist state.

[May 01, 2020] Burn, Neoliberalism, Burn by Pepe Escobar

While it is true that neoliberalism is "accumulation by dispossition" or "redistribution of wealth up" it proved to be amazingly resilient in crisis.
Oct 24, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

Neoliberalism is – literally – burning. And from Ecuador to Chile, South America, once again, is showing the way. Against the vicious, one-size-fits-all IMF austerity prescription, which deploys weapons of mass economic destruction to smash national sovereignty and foster social inequality, South America finally seems poised to reclaim the power to forge its own history.

Three presidential elections are in play. Bolivia's seem to have been settled this past Sunday – even as the usual suspects are yelling "Fraud!" Argentina and Uruguay are on next Sunday.

Blowback against what David Harvey has splendidly conceptualized as accumulation by dispossession is, and will continue to be, a bitch. It will eventually reach Brazil – which as it stands continues to be torn to pieces by Pinochetist ghosts. Brazil, eventually, after immense pain, will rise up again. After all, the excluded and humiliated all across South America are finally discovering they carry a Joker inside themselves.

Chile privatizes everything

The question posed by the Chilean street is stark: "What's worse, to evade taxes or to invade the subway?" It's all a matter of doing the class struggle math. Chile's GDP grew 1,1% last year while the profits of the largest corporations grew ten times more. It's not hard to find from where the huge gap was extracted. The Chilean street stresses how water, electricity, gas, health, medicine, transportation, education, the salar (salt flats) in Atacama, even the glaciers were privatized.

That's classic accumulation by dispossession, as the cost of living has become unbearable for the overwhelming majority of 19 million Chileans, whose average monthly income does not exceed $500.

Paul Walder, director of the Politika portal and an analyst for the Latin-American Center of Strategic Analysis (CLAE) notes how less than a week after the end of protests in Ecuador – which forced neoliberal vulture Lenin Moreno to ditch a gas price hike – Chile entered a very similar cycle of protests.

Walder correctly defines Chile's President Sebastian Pinera as the turkey in a long-running banquet that involves the whole Chilean political class. No wonder the mad as hell Chilean street now makes no difference between the government, the political parties and the police. Pinera, predictably, criminalized all social movements; sent the army to the streets for unmitigated repression; and installed a curfew.

Pinera is Chile's 7 th wealthiest billionaire, with assets valued at $2.7 billion, spread out in airlines, supermarkets, TV, credit cards and football. He's a sort of turbo-charged Moreno, a neoliberal Pinochetist. Pinera's brother, Jose, was actually a minister under Pinochet, and the man who implemented Chile's privatized welfare system – a key source of social disintegration and despair. And it's all interlinked: current Brazilian Finance Minister Paulo Guedes, a Chicago boy, lived and worked in Chile at the time, and now wants to repeat the absolutely disastrous experiment in Brazil.

The bottom line is that the economic "model" that Guedes wants to impose in Brazil has totally collapsed in Chile.

Chile's top resource is copper. Copper mines, historically, were owned by the US, but then were nationalized by President Salvador Allende in 1971; thus war criminal Henry Kissinger's plan to eliminate Allende, which culminated in the original 9/11, in 1973.

Pinochet's dictatorship later re-privatized the mines. The largest of them all, Escondida, in the Atacama desert – which accounts for 9% of the world's copper – belongs to Anglo-Australian giant Bhp Billiton. The biggest copper buyer in world markets is China. At least two-thirds of income generated by Chilean copper goes not to the Chilean people, but to foreign multinationals.

The Argentine debacle

Before Chile, Ecuador was semi-paralyzed: inactive schools, no urban transport, food shortages, rampant speculation, serious disturbances on oil exports. Under fire by the mobilization of 25,000 indigenous peoples in the streets, President Lenin Moreno cowardly left a power void in Quito, transferring the seat of government to Guayaquil. Indigenous peoples took over the governance in many important cities and towns. The National Assembly was AWOL for almost two weeks, without the will to even try to solve the political crisis.

By announcing a state of emergency and a curfew, Moreno laid out a red carpet for the Armed Forces – and Pinera duly repeated the procedure in Chile. The difference is that in Ecuador Moreno bet on Divide and Rule between the indigenous peoples' movements and the rest of the population. Pinera resorts to outright brute force.

Apart from applying the same old tactics of raising prices to obtain further IMF funds, Ecuador also displayed a classic articulation between a neoliberal government, big business and the proverbial US ambassador, in this case Michael Fitzpatrick, a former Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere matters in charge of the Andean region, Brazil and the Southern Cone up to 2018.

The clearest case of total neoliberal failure in South America is Argentina. Less than two months ago in Buenos Aires, I saw the vicious social effects of the peso in free fall, inflation at 54%, a de facto food emergency and the impoverishment of even solid sectors of the middle class. Mauricio Macri's government literally burned most of the $58 billion IMF loan – there's still $5 billion to arrive. Macri is set to lose the presidential elections: Argentines will have to foot his humongous bill.

Macri's economic model could not but be Pinera's – actually Pinochet's, where public services are run as a business. A key connection between Macri and Pinera is the ultra-neoliberal Freedom Foundation sponsored by Mario Vargas Llosa, who at least boasts the redeeming quality of having been a decent novelist a long time ago.

Macri, a millionaire, disciple of Ayn Rand and incapable of displaying empathy towards anyone, is essentially a cipher, pre-fabricated by his Ecuadorian guru Jaime Duran Barba as a robotic product of data mining, social networks and focus groups. A hilarious take on his insecurities may be found in La Cabeza de Macri: Como Piensa, Vive y Manda el Primer Presidente de la No Politica , by Franco Lindner.

Among myriad shenanigans, Macri is indirectly linked to fabulous money laundering machine HSBC. The president of HSBC in Argentina was Gabriel Martino. In 2015, four thousand Argentine accounts worth $3.5 billion were discovered at HSBC in Switzerland. This spectacular capital flight was engineered by the bank. Yet Martino was essentially saved by Macri, and became one of his top advisers.

Beware the IMF vulture ventures

All eyes now should be on Bolivia. As of this writing, President Evo Morales won Sunday's presidential elections in the first round – obtaining, by a slim margin, the necessary 10% spread for a candidate to win if he does not obtain the 50% plus one of the votes. Morales essentially got it right at the end, when votes from rural zones and from abroad were fully counted, and the opposition had already started to hit the streets to apply pressure. Not surprisingly, the OAS – servile to US interests – has proclaimed a "lack of trust in the electoral process".

Evo Morales represents a project of sustainable, inclusive development, and crucially, autonomous from international finance. No wonder the whole Washington Consensus apparatus hates his guts. Economy Minister Luis Arce Catacora cut to the chase: "When Evo Morales won his first election in 2005, 65% of the population was low income, now 62% of the population has access to a medium income."

The opposition, without any project except wild privatizations, and no concern whatsoever for social policies, is left to yell "Fraud!", but this could take a very nasty turn in the next few days. In the tony suburbs of southern La Paz, class hate against Evo Morales is the favorite sport: the President is referred to as "indio", a "tyrant" and "ignorant". Cholos of the Altiplano are routinely defined by white landowning elites in the plains as an "evil race".

None of that changes the fact that Bolivia is now the most dynamic economy in Latin America, as stressed by top Argentine analyst Atilio Boron .

The campaign to discredit Morales, which is bound to become even more vicious, is part of imperial 5G war, which, Boron writes, totally obliterates "the chronic poverty that the absolute majority of the population suffered for centuries", a state that always "maintained the population under total lack of institutional protection" and the "pillaging of natural wealth and the common good".

Of course the specter of IMF vulture ventures won't vanish in South America like a charm. Even as the usual suspects, via World Bank reports, now seem "concerned" about poverty; Scandinavians offer the Nobel Prize on Economics to three academics studying poverty; and Thomas Piketty, in Capital and Ideology , tries to disassemble the hegemonic justification for accumulation of wealth.

What still remains absolutely off limits for the guardians of the current world-system is to really investigate hardcore neoliberalism as the root cause of wealth hyper-concentration and social inequality. It's not enough to offer Band-Aids anymore. The streets of South America are alight. Blowback is now in full effect.

[Apr 30, 2020] In the Ruins of Neoliberalism The Rise of Antidemocratic Politics in the West (The Wellek Library Lectures) by Wendy Brown

Apr 30, 2020 | www.amazon.com

The accent marks in this story vary. Sometimes they are on neoliberal policy, sometimes on putative Left-liberal absorption with multiculturalism and identity' politics, sometimes on the increased political importance and power of evangelicals and Christian nationalists, sometimes on the growing vulnerability of an uneducated population to lies and conspiracies, sometimes on the existential need for horizons and inherent unattractiveness of a globalist worldview' for all but elites, and sometimes on the enduring racism of an old white working class or the new' racism cleaved to by' younger uneducated whites. Some stress the role of powerful right-wing think tanks and political money. Others stress new/old "tribalisms" emerging from the breakdowns of nation-states or previously' more (racially or religiously') homogenous regions. However, almost all agree that neoliberal intensification of inequality' within the Global North was a tinderbox and that mass migration from South to North was a match to the fire.

To make these arguments, In the Ruins revisits selected aspects of the thinking of those who gathered as the Mont Pelerin Society in 1947, took the name "neoliberalism," and offered the founding schema for what Michel Foucault would call the dramatic "reprogramming of liberalism" that we know as neoliberalism today'. Again, however, this does not mean that either the original neoliberal intellectuals -- Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and their half-siblings, the German Ordoliberals -- or even later neoliberal policy' makers themselves aimed at the political and economic present. To the contrary', popular enthusiasm for autocratic, nationalist, and in some cases neofascist regimes, fueled bv mydh mongering and demagoguery', departs as radically from neoliberal ideals as repressive state communist regimes departed from those of Marx and other socialist intellectuals, even if, in each case, the deformed plant grew from soil fertilized by' these ideas. Forged in the crucible of European fascism, neoliberalism aimed at permanent inoculation of market liberal orders against the regrowth of fascistic sentiments and totalitarian powers." Eager to separate politics from markets, the original neoliberals w'ould have loathed both the crony' capitalism and international oligarchical power spawned by' finance that y'anks the chains of states today. 1 " Seeking to get politics out of markets and concentrated economic interests out of policy' making, they w'ould have deplored the manipulation of public policy' by' major industries and capital sectors and would have hated, too, the politicization of enterprise. Above all, they' dreaded political mobilizations of an ignorant, aroused citizenry and looked to market and moral discipline and a severely' leashed democracy' to pacify and contain it. They' would be horrified by' the contemporary phenomenon of leaders at once authoritarian and reckless riding to pow'er on this tide. In short, w'hile the book will argue that the constellation of principles, policies, practices, and forms of governing reason that may be gathered under the sign of neoliberalism has importantly' constituted the catastrophic present, this w'as not neoliberalism's intended spawm, but its Frankensteinian creation. Fathoming how that creation came to be requires examining the imminent failures and occlusions of neoliberal principles and policy', as well as their admixture with other powers and energies, including those of racism, nihilism, fatalism, and ressentiment. 11

If this book does not argue that neoliberalism aimed at the current conjuncture of principles, policies, practices, and forms of rationality', neither does it argue that the fascisms of the 1930s are "returning," nor that Western civilization, otherwise on the path of progress, is in a bout of regression.-- Rather, it theorizes the current formation as relatively' novel, differing from authoritarianisms, fascisms, despotisms, or tyrannies of other times and places and differing as well from conventional or known conservatisms. It thus rejects the language that much of the Left uses to upbraid the Right, as well as much of the language that the Right uses to describe itself. It is especially focused on how neoliberal formulations of freedom animate and legitimate the hard Right and how the Right mobilizes a discourse of freedom for its sometimes violent exclusions and assaults, for resecuring white, male, and Christian hegemony', and not only for building the power of capital. It is also concerned with how' this formulation of freedom paints the Left, including the moderate or liberal Left, as tyrannical or even "fascistic" in its care for social justice and at the same time as responsible for disintegrating moral fabrics, unsecured borders, and giveaways to the undeserving.

The project of In the Ruins requires thinking beyond and even revising the arguments of Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution, my previous work on neoliberalism and democracy, where my characterization of neoliberalism's world-making rationality focused exclusively on its drive to economize all features of existence, from democratic institutions to subjectivity.It also requires revising the arguments of an earlier essay, "American Nightmare," where I analyzed neoliberal and neoconservative rationalities as distinct in origins and characteristics.- Both arguments failed to grasp crucial features of the Thatcher-Reagan neoliberal revolution, features that took their bearings from what Phillip Mirowski named the Neoliberal Thought Collective and Daniel Stedman Jones described as "a kind of neoliberal international," a transatlantic network of academics, businessmen, journalists and activists.-.- This revolution aimed at releasing markets and morals to govern and discipline individuals while maximizing freedom, and it did so by demonizing the social and the democratic version of political life. Neoliberal reason, especially as Friedrich Hayek formulated it, casts markets and morals as singular forms of human need provision sharing ontological principles and dynamics. Rooted in liberty' and generating spontaneous order and evolution, their radical opposites are any kind of deliberate and state- administered social policy', planning, and justice.

The Rise of Antidemocratic Politics

Perhaps opponents of social democracy should welcome it for its conservative effects. Social democracy brings to society generally and to the political system contributions that serve to soften the potential radicalism of political democracy. All contribute, all benefit, and all have a stake. By promoting public education, social security, and expanded health care, social democracy helps to mitigate the divisiveness of wealth, race, ethnicity and other potentially explosive identities. It promotes a commonality of shared contributions and benefits that encourages a moderate, rather than an enraged form of majority rule.

-- Sheldon Wolin, Fugitive Democracy and Other Essays

The term "neoliberalism" was coined at the 1938 Colloque Walter Lippmann, a gathering of scholars who laid the political- intellectual foundations for what would take shape as the Mont Pelerin Society a decade later. Neoliberalism is most commonly associated with a bundle of policies privatizing public ownership and services, radically reducing the social state, leashing labor, deregulating capital, and producing a tax-and-tariff-friendly climate to direct foreign investors. These were precisely the policies imposed on Chile by Augusto Pinochet and his advisors, the "Chicago Boys," in 1973 and soon after carried elsewhere in the Global South, often imposed by the International Monetary' Fund as "structural adjustment" mandates tied to borrowing and debt restructuring.- What started in the Southern Hemisphere soon flowed north, even if the executive powers of the revolutions were rather different. By the end of the 1970s, exploiting a crisis of profitability and stagflation, neoliberal programs were rolled out by' Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, again centering on deregulating capital, breaking organized labor, privatizing public goods and services, reducing progressive taxation, and shrinking the social state. The policies rapidly' spread across Western Europe, and the breakup of the Soviet Bloc at the end of the 1980s meant that much of Eastern Europe transitioned from state communism to neoliberal capitalism in less than half a decade.

The above account, hewing to a neo-Marxist approach, formulates neoliberalism as an opportunistic attack by capitalists and their political lackey's on Keynesian welfare states, social democracies, and state socialism. In Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism, Quinn Slobodian adds sophistication to this picture by' emphasizing the extent to which neoliberalism was both intellectually' conceived and practically unveiled as a global project in which nation-state economic sovereignty would be superseded by' the rules and agreements set by' supranational institutions such as the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund.- In Slobodian's telling, neoliberalism aimed simultaneously' at dismantling barriers to capital flows (and hence to capital accumulation) posed by' nation-states and at neutralizing redistributive demands from the recently decolonized South, such as those embodied in the New International Economic Order. Slobodian's account also underscores the extent to which the neoliberal revolution was designed to quash

working-class expectations in both the developed world and developing postcolonial regions as it produced a global race to the bottom. Put differently, releasing capital to chase cheap labor, resources, and tax havens around the world would inevitably generate lower standards of living for working-class and middle-class populations in the Global North and continued exploitation and limited sovereignty, accompanied by (uneven) development, in the Global South.**

In contrast with the neo-Marxist account, by conceptualizing neoliberalism as "reprogramming of liberalism," Michel Foucault offers a substantially different characterization of neoliberalism -- its meaning, aim, and purpose. In his 1978-79 College de France lectures, Foucault emphasized neoliberalism's significance as a novel political rationality, the reach and implications of which go well beyond economic policy' and the empowerment of capital.- Rather, in this rationality, market principles become governing principles applied by r and to the state, but also circulating through institutions and entities across society -- schools, workplaces, clinics, etc. These principles become saturating reality principles governing every' sphere of existence and reorienting homo oeconomicus itself, transforming it from a subject of exchange and the satisfaction of needs (classical liberalism) to a subject of competition and human capital enhancement (neoliberalism). At the same time, according to Foucault, the neoliberals formulated competitive markets as necessitating political support and thus a novel form of w'hat Foucault calls "governmentalizing" the state. In the new governmental rationality, on the one hand, all governing is for markets and oriented by r market principles, and on the other hand, markets must be built, facilitated, propped up, and occasionally even rescued by political institutions. Competitive markets are good, but not exactly' natural or self-sustaining. For Foucault, these two features of neoliberal rationality -- the elaboration of market principles as ubiquitous governing principles and governing itself as reformatted to serve markets -- are among those that divide neoliberal rationality from classical economic liberalism, and not only from Keynesian or social democracy. They' constitute the "reprogramming of liberal governmentality" that could and would take hold everywhere, entrepreneurializing the subject, converting labor to human capital, and repositioning and reorganizing the state. For Foucauldians, then, more important than its rebooting of capitalism is neoliberalism's radical alteration of the values, coordinates, and reality principles that govern, or "conduct conduct," in liberal orders.* 1

This book draws on both the neo-Marxist and Foucauldian approaches to neoliberalism and also expands both to redress their mutual neglect of the moral side of the neoliberal project. It does not treat the two as opposites or as reducible to material versus ideational understandings of power and historical change, but employs them as featuring different dimensions of the neoliberal transformations taking place around the world in the past four decades. The neo-Marxist approach tends to focus on institutions, policies, economic relations, and effects while neglecting the far-reaching effects of neoliberalism as a form of governing political reason and subject production. The Foucauldian approach focuses on the principles orienting, orchestrating, and relating state, society, and subjects and above all on neoliberalism's novel register of value and values, but it too little attends to the spectacular new powers of global capital that neoliberalism heralds and builds. The former casts neoliberalism as ushering in a new chapter of capitalism and generating new forces, contradictions, and crises. The latter reveals governments, subjects, and subjectivities as transformed by neoliberalism's refashioning of liberal reason; it regards neoliberalism as revealing the extent to which capitalism is not singular and does not run on its own logics, but is always organized by forms of political rationality. Both approaches contribute to understanding the characteristics of actually existing neoliberalism and of the current conjuncture. That said, this book is mainly concerned with rethinking the elements and effects of neoliberal rationality and with broadening our understanding of that rationality to include its multipronged attack on democracy and its activation of traditional morality in place of legislated social justice.

By the measure of political equality, what are variously called liberal, bourgeois, or capitalist democracies have never been complete, and what democratic provisions they contain have been weakening steadily in recent decades. How, indeed, is it even possible to secure political equality in large nation-states with capitalist economies? Sheldon Wolin contends that culturing democracy in such settings makes a specific demand on the state, namely, that it act deliberately to reduce inequalities in power among citizens. Only then can political equality be approximated; only then might political life serve the whole, rather than an elite.* To underscore his point about the paradoxical democratic requirement that states build political equality, Wolin quotes approvingly from Marx's critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right: "It is evident that all forms" of the modern state "have democracy' for their truth, and for that reason are false to the extent that they' are not democracy'."* Wolin takes Marx to mean that the legitimacy' of the modern state rests in the claim to govern for the good of the entire society, to deliver the common good, rather than being the instrument of elites. He regards Marx as recognizing that democracy' is "a distinct kind of association that aims at the good of all" that "depends on the contributions, sacrifices, and loyalties of all." 5 At the same time, Wolin characterizes the requirement that a state employ' its own power to bring a democratic citizenry' into being as moving against the natural course of political power.' That natural course, as Tocqueville made vivid in discussing this issue, is toward concentration and centralization; political and especially state power do not naturally' dilute themselves through dissemination, even as effective governing may* operate by' that very' means.

Democracy', then, is the weakest of warring triplets born in early' European modernity, alongside nation-states and capitalism. 5 According to Wolin, there is no such thing as a democratic state, since states abduct, institutionalize, and wield "surplus power" generated by r the people; democracy always lives elsewhere from the state, even in democracies.* Democratized capitalism is also an oxymoron, and radical democrats have good reason to promote alternative economic forms. This said, capitalism can be modulated in more or less democratic directions, and states can do more or less to nurture or quash the political equality on which democracy depends.

The assault on society and social justice over the neoliberal decades is most familiar in the project of dismantling and disparaging the social state in the name of free, responsibilized individuals. It reached an institutionalized crescendo in the Trump regime, where government agencies designed to steward social welfare in the domains of health, human services, education, housing, labor, urban development, and the environment are headed by those committed to marketizing or eliminating, rather than protecting or administering these goods.- Then there is the regime's newly minted Office of American Innovation, led by Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The White House introduction of the office as a "SWAT team aimed at fixing government with business ideas" captured in a phrase the displacement of democratic rule with policing and management, along with the disintegration of society into units of production and consumption.-* Assuming the new position, Kushner said, "The government should be run like a great American company. Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens."-* Yet it is companies, not customers, that seek "successes and efficiencies" -- customers are at the receiving end of their marketing and public relations strategies. Thus, more than simply revealing his lack of political knowledge and experience and failure to understand democracy', Kushner may' have unconsciously confessed that when government is run like a business, especially the kinds owned by' his father and father-in- law, citizen-customers would become its unprotected, exploitable, and manipulable objects of gain.

[Apr 29, 2020] China's Rise, America's Fall by Ron Unz

The rumors of the USA demise, including economic demise are greatly exaggerated. Germany and Japan -- the USA allies makes stuff, stuff that people all over the world want to buy – just as the USA did forty years ago. Machine tools, robots, silicon, carbon fibre.
I just wouldn't be so quick to predict the fall of the US visa vis China. The Chinese have now picked all the low hanging fruit. Now, with the USA awakening to the threat, it will become harder for them to sustain growth with little natural resources, pressing population problems, hostility of the USA, and now the spectre of national debt crisis.
Notable quotes:
"... Why Nations Fail ..."
"... Evidence for the long-term decline in our economic circumstances is most apparent when we consider the situation of younger Americans. The national media endlessly trumpets the tiny number of youthful Facebook millionaires, but the prospects for most of their contemporaries are actually quite grim. According to research from the Pew Center, barely half of 18- to 24-year-old Americans are currently employed, the lowest level since 1948, a time long before most women had joined the labor force. Nearly one-fifth of young men age 25–34 are still living with their parents, while the wealth of all households headed by those younger than 35 is 68 percent lower today than it was in 1984. ..."
"... Why Nations Fail ..."
"... Harvard Law Review ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... Why Nations Fail ..."
"... Why Nations Fail ..."
"... Ron Unz is publisher of ..."
"... and founder of Unz.org . ..."
"... The state of US politics can only be accurately described as self-destructive. The government's hubris is bringing down the foundations of the economy, and it's only a matter of time before we end up living in the ruins of a dead civilization. ..."
"... The basic fact that supports any capitalist system, is that increasing productivity will increase wealth, that is, real wealth. Huge military expenditures all towards the goal of keeping raw resources a little bit cheaper, and a financial structure increasingly designed to encourage making money from money, are absolutely insane. This is Ancient Rome all over again. ..."
"... I do agree, however with earlier commentators about American lack of discipline. Years ago, cutting through the Engineering School at Rutgers, I was struck that the vast majority of students were foreigners, mostly Asian. Americans at that time just went to school to party. ..."
"... China is not to blame for America's decline, America has to face its own ghosts; the 15 trillion dollars debt, the unemployment, inequality, huge military spending, endless wars that is what you have to confront. ..."
"... Never was a piece written so needed to be read. We are a one party country. We are totally failed by our media for the "most" part. ..."
"... The US is an plutocracy, not a democracy. ..."
"... Mr. Unz said, "And since we live in a entertainment-dominated society, sentiments affirmed on then screen often have direct real-world consequences." ..."
"... In Iceland, it already happened, over a very short span of time. But the Icelandic native populace literally ejected them corporally from the govt. buildings, and now the heads of the major banks have been criminally sentenced and imprisoned, Iceland has the only PM to have been criminally convicted in the financial crisis. Dire predictions by other mafiosi of economic meltdown as a consequence of the "too big to fail" going to jail have yet to materialise, Iceland is doing fine. ..."
"... Far from a great advance for Chinese workers, however, it is the direct result of a consolidation of power in the hands of a small clique of powerful families, families that have actively collaborated with Western financial oligarchs. ..."
Apr 29, 2020 | www.unz.com

America's Economic Decline

These facts do not provide much evidence for the thesis in Why Nations Fail that China's leaders constitute a self-serving and venal "extractive" elite. Unfortunately, such indications seem far more apparent when we direct our gaze inward, toward the recent economic and social trajectory of our own country

Against the backdrop of remarkable Chinese progress, America mostly presents a very gloomy picture. Certainly America's top engineers and entrepreneurs have created many of the world's most important technologies, sometimes becoming enormously wealthy in the process. But these economic successes are not typical nor have their benefits been widely distributed. Over the last 40 years, a large majority of American workers have seen their real incomes stagnate or decline.

Meanwhile, the rapid concentration of American wealth continues apace: the richest 1 percent of America's population now holds as much net wealth as the bottom 90–95 percent, and these trends may even be accelerating. A recent study revealed that during our supposed recovery of the last couple of years, 93 percent of the total increase in national income went to the top 1 percent, with an astonishing 37 percent being captured by just the wealthiest 0.01 percent of the population, 15,000 households in a nation of well over 300 million people.

Evidence for the long-term decline in our economic circumstances is most apparent when we consider the situation of younger Americans. The national media endlessly trumpets the tiny number of youthful Facebook millionaires, but the prospects for most of their contemporaries are actually quite grim. According to research from the Pew Center, barely half of 18- to 24-year-old Americans are currently employed, the lowest level since 1948, a time long before most women had joined the labor force. Nearly one-fifth of young men age 25–34 are still living with their parents, while the wealth of all households headed by those younger than 35 is 68 percent lower today than it was in 1984.

ORDER IT NOW

The total outstanding amount of non-dischargeable student-loan debt has crossed the trillion-dollar mark, now surpassing the combined total of credit-card and auto-loan debt -- and with a quarter of all student-loan payers now delinquent, there are worrisome indicators that much of it will remain a permanent burden, reducing many millions to long-term debt peonage. A huge swath of America's younger generation seems completely impoverished, and likely to remain so.

International trade statistics, meanwhile, demonstrate that although Apple and Google are doing quite well, our overall economy is not. For many years now our largest goods export has been government IOUs, whose dollar value has sometimes been greater than that of the next ten categories combined. At some point, perhaps sooner than we think, the rest of the world will lose its appetite for this non-functional product, and our currency will collapse, together with our standard of living. Similar Cassandra-like warnings were issued for years about the housing bubble or the profligacy of the Greek government, and were proven false year after year until one day they suddenly became true.

Ironically enough, there is actually one major category in which American expansion still easily tops that of China, both today and for the indefinite future: population growth. The rate of America's demographic increase passed that of China over 20 years ago and has been greater every year since, sometimes by as much as a factor of two. According to standard projections, China's population in 2050 will be almost exactly what it was in 2000, with the country having achieved the population stability typical of advanced, prosperous societies. But during that same half-century, the number of America's inhabitants will have grown by almost 50 percent, a rate totally unprecedented in the developed world and actually greater than that found in numerous Third World countries such as Colombia, Algeria, Thailand, Mexico, or Indonesia. A combination of very rapid population growth and doubtful prospects for equally rapid economic growth does not bode well for the likely quality of the 2050 American Dream.

China rises while America falls, but are there major causal connections between these two concurrent trends now reshaping the future of our world? Not that I can see. American politicians and pundits are naturally fearful of taking on the fierce special interest groups that dominate their political universe, so they often seek an external scapegoat to explicate the misery of their constituents, sometimes choosing to focus on China. But this is merely political theater for the ignorant and the gullible.

Various studies have suggested that China's currency may be substantially undervalued, but even if the frequent demands of Paul Krugman and others were met and the yuan rapidly appreciated another 15 or 20 percent, few industrial jobs would return to American shores, while working-class Americans might pay much more for their basic necessities. And if China opened wide its borders to more American movies or financial services, the multimillionaires of Hollywood and Wall Street might grow even richer, but ordinary Americans would see little benefit. It is always easier for a nation to point an accusing finger at foreigners rather than honestly admit that almost all its terrible problems are essentially self-inflicted.

Decay of Constitutional Democracy

The central theme of Why Nations Fail is that political institutions and the behavior of ruling elites largely determine the economic success or failure of countries. If most Americans have experienced virtually no economic gains for decades, perhaps we should cast our gaze at these factors in our own society.

Our elites boast about the greatness of our constitutional democracy, the wondrous human rights we enjoy, the freedom and rule of law that have long made America a light unto the nations of the world and a spiritual draw for oppressed peoples everywhere, including China itself. But are these claims actually correct? They often stack up very strangely when they appear in the opinion pages of our major newspapers, coming just after the news reporting, whose facts tell a very different story.

Just last year, the Obama administration initiated a massive months-long bombing campaign against the duly recognized government of Libya on "humanitarian" grounds, then argued with a straight face that a military effort comprising hundreds of bombing sorties and over a billion dollars in combat costs did not actually constitute "warfare," and hence was completely exempt from the established provisions of the Congressional War Powers Act. A few months later, Congress overwhelmingly passed and President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act, granting the president power to permanently imprison without trial or charges any American whom he classifies as a national-security threat based on his own judgment and secret evidence. When we consider that American society has experienced virtually no domestic terrorism during the past decade, we must wonder how long our remaining constitutional liberties would survive if we were facing frequent real-life attacks by an actual terrorist underground, such as had been the case for many years with the IRA in Britain, ETA in Spain, or the Red Brigades in Italy.

Most recently, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have claimed the inherent right of an American president to summarily execute anyone anywhere in the world, American citizen or not, whom White House advisors have privately decided was a "bad person." While it is certainly true that major world governments have occasionally assassinated their political enemies abroad, I have never before heard these dark deeds publicly proclaimed as legitimate and aboveboard. Certainly if the governments of Russia or China, let alone Iran, declared their inherent right to kill anyone anywhere in the world whom they didn't like, our media pundits would immediately blast these statements as proof of their total criminal insanity.

These are very strange notions of the "rule of law" for the administration of a president who had once served as top editor of the Harvard Law Review and who was routinely flattered in his political campaigns by being described as a "constitutional scholar."

Many of these negative ideological trends have been absorbed and accepted by the popular culture and much of the American public. Over the last decade one of the highest-rated shows on American television was "24", created by Joel Surnow and chronicling Kiefer Sutherland as a patriotic but ruthless Secret Service agent, with each episode constituting a single hour of his desperate efforts to thwart terrorist plots and safeguard our national security. Numerous episodes featured our hero torturing suspected evildoers in order to extract the information necessary to save innocent lives, with the entire series representing a popular weekly glorification of graphic government torture on behalf of the greater good.

Now soft-headed protestations to the contrary, most governments around the world have at least occasionally practiced torture, especially when combating popular insurgencies, and some of the more brutal regimes, including Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany, even professionalized the process. But such dark deeds done in secret were always vigorously denied in public, and the popular films and other media of Stalin's Soviet Union invariably featured pure-hearted workers and peasants bravely doing their honorable and patriotic duty for the Motherland, rather than the terrible torments being daily inflicted in the cellars of the Lubyanka prison. Throughout all of modern history, I am not aware of a single even semi-civilized country that publicly celebrated the activities of its professional government torturers in the popular media. Certainly such sentiments would have been totally abhorrent and unthinkable in the "conservative Hollywood" of the Cold War 1950s.

And since we live in a entertainment-dominated society, sentiments affirmed on the screen often have direct real-world consequences. At one point, senior American military and counter-terrorism officials felt the need to travel to Hollywood and urge its screenwriters to stop glorifying American torture, since their shows were encouraging U.S. soldiers to torture Muslim captives even when their commanding officers repeatedly ordered them not to do so.

Given these facts, we should hardly be surprised that international surveys over the past decade have regularly ranked America as the world's most hated major nation, a remarkable achievement given the dominant global role of American media and entertainment and also the enormous international sympathy that initially flowed to our country following the 9/11 attacks.

An Emerging One-Party State

So far at least, these extra-constitutional and often brutal methods have not been directed toward controlling America's own political system; we remain a democracy rather than a dictatorship. But does our current system actually possess the central feature of a true democracy, namely a high degree of popular influence over major government policies? Here the evidence seems more ambiguous.

Consider the pattern of the last decade. With two ruinous wars and a financial collapse to his record, George W. Bush was widely regarded as one of the most disastrous presidents in American history, and at times his public approval numbers sank to the lowest levels ever measured. The sweeping victory of his successor, Barack Obama, represented more a repudiation of Bush and his policies than anything else, and leading political activists, left and right alike, characterized Obama as Bush's absolute antithesis, both in background and in ideology. This sentiment was certainly shared abroad, with Obama being selected for the Nobel Peace Prize just months after entering office, based on the widespread assumption that he was certain to reverse most of the policies of his detested predecessor and restore America to sanity.

Yet almost none of these reversals took place. Instead, the continuity of administration policy has been so complete and so obvious that many critics now routinely speak of the Bush/Obama administration.

The harsh violations of constitutional principles and civil liberties which Bush pioneered following the 9/11 attacks have only further intensified under Obama, the heralded Harvard constitutional scholar and ardent civil libertarian, and this has occurred without the excuse of any major new terrorist attacks. During his Democratic primary campaign, Obama promised that he would move to end Bush's futile Iraq War immediately upon taking office, but instead large American forces remained in place for years until heavy pressure from the Iraqi government finally forced their removal; meanwhile, America's occupation army in Afghanistan actually tripled in size. The government bailout of the hated financial manipulators of Wall Street, begun under Bush, continued apace under Obama, with no serious attempts at either government prosecution or drastic reform. Americans are still mostly suffering through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but Wall Street profits and multimillion-dollar bonuses soon returned to record levels.

In particular, the continuity of top officials has been remarkable. As Bush's second defense secretary, Robert Gates had been responsible for the ongoing management of America's foreign wars and military occupations since 2006; Obama kept him on, and he continued to play the same role in the new administration. Similarly, Timothy Geithner had been one of Bush's most senior financial appointments, playing a crucial role in the widely unpopular financial bailout of Wall Street; Obama promoted him to Treasury secretary and authorized continuation of those same policies. Ben Bernanke had been appointed chairman of the Federal Reserve by Bush and was reappointed by Obama. Bush wars and bailouts became Obama wars and bailouts. The American public voted for an anti-Bush, but got Bush's third term instead.

During the Cold War, Soviet propagandists routinely characterized our democracy as a sham, with the American public merely selecting which of the two intertwined branches of their single political party should alternate in office, while the actual underlying policies remained essentially unchanged, being decided and implemented by the same corrupt ruling class. This accusation may have been mostly false at the time it was made but seems disturbingly accurate today.

When times are hard and government policies are widely unpopular, but voters are only offered a choice between the rival slick marketing campaigns of Coke and Pepsi, cynicism can reach extreme proportions. Over the last year, surveys have shown that the public non-approval of Congress -- representing Washington's political establishment -- has ranged as high as 90–95 percent, which is completely unprecedented.

ORDER IT NOW

But if our government policies are so broadly unpopular, why are we unable to change them through the sacred power of the vote? The answer is that America's system of government has increasingly morphed from being a representative democracy to becoming something closer to a mixture of plutocracy and mediacracy, with elections almost entirely determined by money and media, not necessarily in that order. Political leaders are made or broken depending on whether they receive the cash and visibility needed to win office.

National campaigns increasingly seem sordid reality shows for second-rate political celebrities, while our country continues along its path toward multiple looming calamities. Candidates who depart from the script or deviate from the elite D.C. consensus regarding wars or bailouts -- notably a principled ideologue such as Ron Paul -- are routinely stigmatized in the media as dangerous extremists or even entirely airbrushed out of campaign news coverage, as has been humorously highlighted by comedian Jon Stewart.

We know from the collapsed communist states of Eastern Europe that control over the media may determine public perceptions of reality, but it does not change the underlying reality itself, and reality usually has the last laugh. Economics Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and his colleagues have conservatively estimated the total long-term cost of our disastrous Iraq War at $3 trillion, representing over one-fifth of our entire accumulated national debt, or almost $30,000 per American household. And even now the direct ongoing costs of our Afghanistan War still run $120 billion per year, many times the size of Afghanistan's total GDP. Meanwhile, during these same years the international price of oil has risen from $25 to $125 per barrel -- partly as a consequence of these past military disruptions and growing fears of future ones -- thereby imposing gigantic economic costs upon our society.

And we suffer other costs as well. A recent New York Times story described the morale-building visit of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to our forces in Afghanistan and noted that all American troops had been required to surrender their weapons before attending his speech and none were allowed to remain armed in his vicinity. Such a command decision seems almost unprecedented in American history and does not reflect well upon the perceived state of our military morale.

Future historians may eventually regard these two failed wars, fought for entirely irrational reasons, as the proximate cause of America's financial and political collapse, representing the historical bookend to our World War II victory, which originally established American global dominance.

Our Extractive Elites

When parasitic elites govern a society along "extractive" lines, a central feature is the massive upward flow of extracted wealth, regardless of any contrary laws or regulations. Certainly America has experienced an enormous growth of officially tolerated corruption as our political system has increasingly consolidated into a one-party state controlled by a unified media-plutocracy.

Consider the late 2011 collapse of MF Global, a midsize but highly reputable brokerage firm. Although this debacle was far smaller than the Lehman bankruptcy or the Enron fraud, it effectively illustrates the incestuous activities of America's overlapping elites. Just a year earlier, Jon Corzine had been installed as CEO, following his terms as Democratic governor and U.S. senator from New Jersey and his previous career as CEO of Goldman Sachs. Perhaps no other American had such a combination of stellar political and financial credentials on his resume. Soon after taking the reins, Corzine decided to boost his company's profits by betting its entire capital and more against the possibility that any European countries might default on their national debts. When he lost that bet, his multi-billion-dollar firm tumbled into bankruptcy.

At this point, the story moves from a commonplace tale of Wall Street arrogance and greed into something out of the Twilight Zone, or perhaps Monty Python. The major newspapers began reporting that customer funds, eventually said to total $1.6 billion, had mysteriously disappeared during the collapse, and no one could determine what had become of them, a very strange claim in our age of massively computerized financial records. Weeks and eventually months passed, tens of millions of dollars were spent on armies of investigators and forensic accountants, but all those customer funds stayed "missing," while the elite media covered this bizarre situation in the most gingerly possible fashion. As an example, a front page Wall Street Journal story on February 23, 2012 suggested that after so many months, there seemed little likelihood that the disappeared customer funds might ever reappear, but also emphasized that absolutely no one was being accused of any wrongdoing. Presumably the journalists were suggesting that the $1.6 billion dollars of customer money had simply walked out the door on its own two feet.

Stories like this give the lie to the endless boasts of our politicians and business pundits that America's financial system is the most transparent and least corrupt in today's world. Certainly America is not unique in the existence of long-term corporate fraud, as was recently shown in the fall of Japan's Olympus Corporation following the discovery of more than a billion dollars in long-hidden investment losses. But when we consider the largest corporate collapses of the last decade that were substantially due to fraud, nearly all the names are American: WorldCom, Enron, Tyco, Global Crossing, and Adelphia. And this list leaves out all the American financial institutions destroyed by the financial meltdown -- such as Lehman, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual, and Wachovia -- and the many trillions of dollars in American homeowner equity and top-rated MBS securities which evaporated during that process. Meanwhile, the largest and longest Ponzi Scheme in world history, that of Bernie Madoff, had survived for decades under the very nose of the SEC, despite a long series of detailed warnings and complaints. The second largest such fraud, that of Allen R. Stanford, also bears the label "Made in the USA."

Some of the sources of Chinese success and American decay are not entirely mysterious. As it happens, the typical professional background of a member of China's political elite is engineering; they were taught to build things. Meanwhile, a remarkable fraction of America's political leadership class attended law school, where they were trained to argue effectively and to manipulate. Thus, we should not be greatly surprised that while China's leaders tend to build, America's leaders seem to prefer endless manipulation, whether of words, money, or people.

How corrupt is the American society fashioned by our current ruling elites? That question is perhaps more ambiguous than it might seem. According to the standard world rankings produced by Transparency International, the United States is a reasonably clean country, with corruption being considerably higher than in the nations of Northern Europe or elsewhere in the Anglosphere, but much lower than in most of the rest of the world, including China.

But I suspect that this one-dimensional metric fails to capture some of the central anomalies of America's current social dilemma. Unlike the situation in many Third World countries, American teachers and tax inspectors very rarely solicit bribes, and there is little overlap in personnel between our local police and the criminals whom they pursue. Most ordinary Americans are generally honest. So by these basic measures of day-to-day corruption, America is quite clean, not too different from Germany or Japan.

By contrast, local village authorities in China have a notorious tendency to seize public land and sell it to real estate developers for huge personal profits. This sort of daily misbehavior has produced an annual Chinese total of up to 90,000 so-called "mass incidents" -- public strikes, protests, or riots -- usually directed against corrupt local officials or businessmen.

However, although American micro-corruption is rare, we seem to suffer from appalling levels of macro-corruption, situations in which our various ruling elites squander or misappropriate tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars of our national wealth, sometimes doing so just barely on one side of technical legality and sometimes on the other.

Sweden is among the cleanest societies in Europe, while Sicily is perhaps the most corrupt. But suppose a large clan of ruthless Sicilian Mafiosi moved to Sweden and somehow managed to gain control of its government. On a day-to-day basis, little would change, with Swedish traffic policemen and building inspectors performing their duties with the same sort of incorruptible efficiency as before, and I suspect that Sweden's Transparency International rankings would scarcely decline. But meanwhile, a large fraction of Sweden's accumulated national wealth might gradually be stolen and transferred to secret Cayman Islands bank accounts, or invested in Latin American drug cartels, and eventually the entire plundered economy would collapse.

Ordinary Americans who work hard and seek to earn an honest living for themselves and their families appear to be suffering the ill effects of exactly this same sort of elite-driven economic pillage. The roots of our national decline will be found at the very top of our society, among the One Percent, or more likely the 0.1 percent.

Thus, the ideas presented in Why Nations Fail seem both true and false. The claim that harmful political institutions and corrupt elites can inflict huge economic damage upon a society seems absolutely correct. But while the authors turn a harsh eye toward elite misbehavior across time and space -- from ancient Rome to Czarist Russia to rising China -- their vision seems to turn rosy-tinted when they consider present-day America, the society in which they themselves live and whose ruling elites lavishly fund the academic institutions with which they are affiliated. Given the American realities of the last dozen years, it is quite remarkable that the scholars who wrote a book entitled Why Nations Fail never glanced outside their own office windows.

A similar dangerous reticence may afflict most of our media, which appears much more eager to focus on self-inflicted disasters in foreign countries than on those here at home. Presented below is a companion case-study, " Chinese Melamine and American Vioxx: A Comparison ," in which I point out that while the American media a few years ago joined its Chinese counterparts in devoting enormous coverage to the deaths of a few Chinese children from tainted infant formula, it paid relatively little attention to a somewhat similar domestic public-health disaster that killed many tens or even hundreds of thousands of Americans.

A society's media and academic organs constitute the sensory apparatus and central nervous system of its body politic, and if the information these provide is seriously misleading, looming dangers may fester and grow. A media and academy that are highly corrupt or dishonest constitute a deadly national peril. And although the political leadership of undemocratic China might dearly wish to hide all its major mistakes, its crude propaganda machinery often fails at this self-destructive task. But America's own societal information system is vastly more skilled and experienced in shaping reality to meet the needs of business and government leaders, and this very success does tremendous damage to our country.

Perhaps Americans really do prefer that their broadcasters provide Happy News and that their political campaigns constitute amusing reality shows. Certainly the cheering coliseum crowds of the Roman Empire favored their bread and circuses over the difficult and dangerous tasks that their ancestors had undertaken during Rome's rise to world greatness. And so long as we can continue to trade bits of printed paper carrying presidential portraits for flat-screen TVs from Chinese factories, perhaps all is well and no one need be too concerned about the apparent course of our national trajectory, least of all our political leadership class.

But if so, then we must admit that Richard Lynn, a prominent British scholar, has been correct in predicting for a decade or longer that the global dominance of the European-derived peoples is rapidly drawing to its end and within the foreseeable future the torch of human progress and world leadership will inevitably pass into Chinese hands.

Ron Unz is publisher of The American Conservative and founder of Unz.org .


Sean Scallon , says: Website Show Comment April 18, 2012 at 5:11 pm GMT

Very good piece and very perceptive about reality in the U.S.
Jack Ross , says: Show Comment April 18, 2012 at 6:43 pm GMT
Definitely on the money regarding the U.S., I'm not sure the outlook for China though is quite so rosy. I fear you made a serious mistake of burying the lead. That said, one other issue you should have mentioned is the way the two major parties monopolize access to the ballot, as discussed in a recent Al Jazeera series on the frauds of American democracy.
platocrat , says: Show Comment April 18, 2012 at 9:44 pm GMT
"Certainly America has experienced an enormous growth of officially tolerated corruption as our political system has increasingly consolidated into a one-party state controlled by a unified media-plutocracy."

In a nutshell.

JonF , says: Show Comment April 18, 2012 at 9:57 pm GMT
Re: This failure suggests another reason for the decay of US (and Western European) society: political correctness

Huh? And while demographics may not be destiny, demography should not be ignored either. The US is likely to have a younger population structure than China which, as others have noted, is going to grow old without first growing rich– not an enviable situation. Moreover that population is likely to include a fair number of unmarried men for whom no women are available. That's pretty muich unprecedented in history (although the reverse has occasionally happened due to wars), and I have no idea how it will play out, but I suspect it will not be a mark in China's plus column.

This piece whistewashes China's enormous challenges while exaggerating America's. That's not to say we have no challenges nor that China does not have its strengths. Still, I would sooner bet the farm on the US coming through this century without major political calamity than China doing so. (Note: I said "calamity", I did not say "change". Both countries, will need to change a lot– something true of the whole world)

Dave , says: Show Comment April 19, 2012 at 12:23 am GMT
1/ I saw this movie before-in the '70's. Only then 'China' was called 'Japan'.

2/ As to history and the 2 party system, nothing new:

Gates was Bush's Sec'y of Defense and became Obama's Sec'y of Defense.

Stanton was Buchanan's Sec'y of War and became Lincoln's Sec'y of War.

And America has always had its plunderers-see the Gilded Age-Jay Gould (et al) plundered as do today's plutocrats.

And American governments have gone around killing US citizens without seriously attempting to arrest them (see J Dillinger, C Barrow, B Parker)

Bob Arctor , says: Show Comment April 19, 2012 at 2:49 am GMT
America's worse than third world style population growth isn't an advantage in any way, shape or form. Firstly, energy availability (and not labor) will be the bounding factor for economic growth over the next few decades, and secondly the only sectors of the population that are growing are those with the absolute least level of relevant skills that will be needed in years that are to come.

No other developed nation, save almost empty Canada and Austrailia, have ever seen massive population growth such as this.

Bob Arctor , says: Show Comment April 19, 2012 at 3:31 am GMT
Japan and China is not remotely a fair comparison – Japan has only 127 million people whereas China has 1331 million people. When China reaches American levels of economic development, as Japan did in the 1980's, the implications for America, both political and economic, are going to be vastly more severe than they were when Japan emerged as a developed nation. Think of 2030 China as being ten and a half 2012 Japans to get an rough idea of what's coming.

JonF:

A good number of hunter gatherer societies that survived into modern times, such as the Yanomano in South America, had much more lopsided sex ratios than China does today. This isn't new.

JonF , says: Show Comment April 19, 2012 at 10:07 am GMT
Bob Arctor,

Yes, some societies have had an excess of women after many men have been killed in warfare: Germany and France after WWI, or the American South after the Civil War. But an excess of men is pretty much unprecedented.

Jamie , says: Website Show Comment April 19, 2012 at 12:43 pm GMT
America has become the most hated country on earth along with Israel,and the tyranicle government that controlls the country with all their crimes and lies will make America a country no smart person would want to be a citizen.America can do better if people wake up to the coruption and stop spending as much as the rest of the world on their military.It's not a matter of if but when China becomes the biggest economy,but also the strongest military by far on earth.I just hope China don't act like the American criminal government wasting tax payers money on illegal wars baised on lies.It's been happening for over 100 years,but know they do it in the open and have tottaly ignored the constitution.The 1 thing that made America great was the constitution and as time goes by it is ignored to the point the rest of the world and Americans see that America has no high ground,unless you call mudering innocent civilians in illegal wars.America is bankrupt and when they can no longer afford to bribe others it will collapes and the hatred it has caused for it'self will turn the entire world against it.Even Israel will no longer be because of their warmongering and raceist government.
Anonymous Disclaimer , says: Website Show Comment April 19, 2012 at 3:50 pm GMT
The subtitle, "Which superpower is more threatened by its "extractive elites"?" reflects what I believe is the most important political issue of the times. As one commenter pointed out above, really there is nothing all that different now. I suspect this is largely true in that 'the masses' have usually lived many steps removed from understanding what is 'really going on.' However today we are all linked on the material plane through electronic communication and transportation in a way that before was never possible in that most ordinary people lived nearly all of their lives bounded within a very small geographical, aka 'local' area. They were place-bound, in other words. Now we are not. And because we are not the opportunity and scope for mass deception have greatly increased along with the ability of ruling elites to be more and more extractive.

I suspect you could almost make a mathematical formula out of it along the lines of: S = F+O * (E/C), where S = Society or Stable & Sane Society, F = Freedom (opportunity, creativity etc.), O = Organisation (cultural institutions of education, governance, manners, language, both in terms of efficiency and levels of corruption/deceit etc. ), E = Elites/Leadership class and C = Checks and Balances.

Something like that. Assuming a scale of 1-100 in each case, in the US I think it is about: S = 70+50 * (95/35) = 120 * 2.7 = 325.7.

China: S = 45+65(110) * (75/50) = 100* 1.5 = 150.

China has 45 F-freedom to US 70.
China has 65 O-Organisation to US 50.
China has 75 E-Elites to US 95.
China has 50 C-Checks to US 35.

All of these are highly arguable of course but I think most would agree their freedom quotient is lower, albeit the US has some of the worst upward / class mobility figures in the West as a 10-year NYT study showed a while back.
China seems to have far greater organisational skills, as witnessed by their development of high speed rail of late, which the US is incapable of doing.
Because of much greater power on the local level, I have given Chinese Elites a lower score even though if we were to believe our own media, you would think that the US doesn't really have any elites and China is a monolithic top-down beast.
For the same reason, I put in more Checks for China since I believe their people demonstrate and organise far more energetically than those in the West, and that the Elites have to pay far more attention to them. This is a wild guess.

Ken Zaretzke , says: Show Comment April 19, 2012 at 6:30 pm GMT
The notion of "extractive elites" inadvertently wrecking their own country's future prospects is rich with irony -- of the Alfred E. Neumann kind ("What, me worry?"). What about the extraction of coal? It is the U.S. that is bribing China with coal exports -- America's relatively most abundant natural resource -- so that the Chinese will tolerate America's fiscal irresponsibility by continuing to prop up the dollar. Six months ago I sent a letter about this to my local county council, which will decide in the next year whether to allow the largest coal terminal in North America to be built (at the behest of Goldman Sachs, among others) just a few miles from where I was living until recently, in the idyllic town of Ferndale, WA. I maintained that one doesn't need to be a Green Party member in order to oppose the coal terminal project -- any ardent nationalist worth his salt can, and ought to, oppose it tooth and nail.

Coal terminals which make possible the shipping of millions of tons of coal to China would be a disaster on several counts. Symbolically and as a matter of policy, the coal exports would demonstrate America's economic subjection to China, the "Caesar" to whom we would be paying tribute. Environmentally, the mercury and other pollution will drift back across the Atlantic to the Pacific Northwest. These are just two of the problems. So why is the Republican Party bending over backwards to join Peabody Coal and Goldman Sachs in trying to build the largest coal terminal on the continent in Whatcom County, and other terminals elsewhere in Washington and Oregon? What besides money, greed, and shortsightedness is behind conservatives' obliviousness to the long-term dangers, both real and symbolic, of America's bowing down to China with massive coal exports?

The Stupid Party, indeed

Anonymous Disclaimer , says: Show Comment April 19, 2012 at 6:49 pm GMT
Thank you for an excellent article on what is happening. My only criticism is that it appears that these things "just happen". With your insight and erudition, could you please address "why" the situation has arisen. What could be the motivation behind actions and policies which so clearly will destroy not only the 99% but also the basic wealth of the1%?

This is not something new, but a recurrent theme in world affairs.

Many thanks

Anonymous Disclaimer , says: Show Comment April 20, 2012 at 12:09 am GMT
Excellent, excellent article by Unz.

Acemoglu and Robinson "characterize China's ruling elites as "extractive" -- parasitic and corrupt -- and predict that Chinese economic growth will soon falter and decline" China's ruling elites! China's ruling elites are extractive, parasitic & corrupt!

Bwaaahaaahaaahaaaa

What are Acemoglu and Robinson on? Crack? LSD? Crystal Meth?

China's ruling elites are frigging angels and saints compared to the monsters, maniacs and morons creating misery amidst colossal wealth (stolen by them) in the USA. The US elite is a parasite so bloated and stupid it is killing its host and maybe the rest of the planet too.

Anonymous Disclaimer , says: Show Comment April 20, 2012 at 3:14 am GMT
The state of US politics can only be accurately described as self-destructive. The government's hubris is bringing down the foundations of the economy, and it's only a matter of time before we end up living in the ruins of a dead civilization.

The basic fact that supports any capitalist system, is that increasing productivity will increase wealth, that is, real wealth. Huge military expenditures all towards the goal of keeping raw resources a little bit cheaper, and a financial structure increasingly designed to encourage making money from money, are absolutely insane. This is Ancient Rome all over again.

The issues of energy and pollution are serious enough to threaten the global economy in the long-term, but the social system here doesn't sufficiently support innovation to do much about them. How is America supposed to be competitive in the future if we don't?

For example, we're not going to "run out" of oil any time soon, but when it comes primarily from tar sands and underwater drilling, it's going to be tremendously expensive, and with more expensive energy, our standard of living will decline. Other common energy sources have the same problem. Common sense dictates that we innovate ahead of time. The possibility of resource substitution doesn't happen by magic. But of course, that would require an conscious investment in that direction.

And as for pollution, maybe high-speed rail and electric cars are part of a solution, maybe they're not, as some commenters have suggested, but what's definitely not a solution is not trying anything all. We need clean air and clean water, or else we'll die. Our food sources do, too.

And it's not entirely obvious to people who don't read about what makes China attractive for investment, but it's not solely cheap labor. (In fact, Chinese labor is more expensive than in, say, India or Bangladesh. Not to mention that Chinese bureaucracy is not all that easy to deal with!) China has constructed highly attractive logistics systems, and has an increasingly educated and disciplined labor force. In America, we have infrastructure that's becoming obsolete, and an education system that produces a lot of stupid citizens who have no idea how to create value. With the latter, it's no wonder we have an "entitlement culture."

If this all doesn't change, I'm not sticking around, waiting for this ship to sink.

Anonymous Disclaimer , says: Show Comment April 20, 2012 at 3:47 am GMT
Finally! A Conservative who tells the truth. Sir, you and Paul Craig Roberts are just the men to lead the GOP out of the wilderness and back to sanity.

Your words coincide with the words of pissed off Progressives (such as myself) and the youth at OWS movements.

We need more honesty from your side, such as Buddy Roehmer offered before the recent GOP primary devolved into the Clown Reality Show which avoided hard topics such as these you've addressed head on in "China's Rise, America's Fall".

If the GOP has no room for you, Mr. Unz, maybe you should join the Green Party or help concerned Americans from both sides start a new party. Just a thought.

Your honesty is courageous. And I believe when the Neo-Cons and Oligarchs on the Right read your words, you'll be in for a rough ride with Rush and Faux News. Stay the course. Stay true to what you have written here. Courage.

Just this one piece you have written will move me to subscribe to your magazine, a first for me, subscribing to a magazine with the word "Conservative" in it.

Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Abraham Lincoln and Barry Goldwater would be proud of what you wrote, Sir. As would Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Rock Trueblood

Vickie , says: Show Comment April 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm GMT
Hopefully China will continue to improve and the people there get more freedom. However, the Tienanmen Square incident is not a small thing. I suspect the elites in China have no more respect for their people than ours do. Infanticide, forced abortion and summary execution are not policies to emulate. What the west has, the importance of the individual, the idea that the State is supposed to be subservient to a higher law are not ideas to trade away for a mess of pottage.

I do agree, however with earlier commentators about American lack of discipline. Years ago, cutting through the Engineering School at Rutgers, I was struck that the vast majority of students were foreigners, mostly Asian. Americans at that time just went to school to party.

Anonymous Disclaimer , says: Show Comment April 20, 2012 at 3:14 pm GMT
With her extractive elites America has taken a different path but has, ironically, arrived at the same terminus as the old Soviet Union: Too much economic power in the hands of too few.
Steve Roth , says: Website Show Comment April 20, 2012 at 5:48 pm GMT
I find it amazing what is not mentioned here: that the dynamic of extractive elites being described started its rapid upward trajectory at exactly the time that Reagan "conservative" policies came to dominate public policy discourse.
James Canning , says: Show Comment April 20, 2012 at 11:06 pm GMT
To some extent, the relative decline of the US economically owes a good deal to idiotic levels of spending on "defence". Trillions of dollars have been squandered over the past two or three decades.
James Canning , says: Show Comment April 20, 2012 at 11:07 pm GMT
Kolya – – The Soviet Union spent far too much on "defense". Putin has noted this fact as partly explaining the collapse of the USSR.
Matt says: Show Comment April 21, 2012 at 10:14 am GMT
The author has forgotten to mention race and diversity as a factor that ensures America will not rise again. China is an homogeneous country with no need of a parasitic diversity industry hovering overhead trying to enforce its ideas of what any given activity should 'look like'. Chinese have an average intelligence above that of whites and are not saddled with untold millions of low IQ third world people hanging like a millstone round their necks. An entirely white America might have had half a chance of keeping pace with Chinese growth, but today's America has no chance at all.
Anonymous Disclaimer , says: Website Show Comment April 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm GMT
Thanks – this piece is right on target, and revealed to me a good deal of economic chicanery of which I had previously been unaware.

...... ...

A. Aftab , says: Show Comment April 21, 2012 at 1:00 pm GMT
Calgacus, you're right on the money with that comment of yours! A lot of wealthy Americans now live in Costa Rica, HK, Thailand and Malaysia and AUS/NZ. Donald Trump has been investing in Costa Rica very heavily ..and there are probably thousands of other billionaires doing the same.

In case people here haven't noticed, a lot of our super elites have been leaving the U.S. in droves, due to the disproportionally high taxes levied on them now. They are doing this because they are smarter than the rest of us. This started 5 years ago just before the housing crash. Probably has accelerated since 2010 where this article is from.

Have a whiff folks:

http://actionamerica.org/taxecon/ticktick.shtml

And also these:

It's becoming a joke Calgacus ..you're right some of these comments here seem to be absolutely retarded!

A good reality check on the economic situation is to ask around your friends and relatives on whose making the big money now! ..The answer will be pretty obvious.

Anonymous Disclaimer , says: Show Comment April 21, 2012 at 9:50 pm GMT
Even if China's economy outgrows ours, it would have to be 4x as large as the US economy to match it's per capita income. The Chinese know that they are running against the clock to modernize it's economy.

They're nowhere near as energy efficient in their manufacturing processes and they are burning through their profits to build a big enough energy infrastructure to meet the economic growth needs.

SinoPec is already partnered with ArAmCo and Exxon to build refineries in China which means those Western Companies are already raiding the Chinese treasure chest. GM and Walmart aren't selling their products for free, either. In other words, China has been caught in the global economic web and they're going to get played just like everybody else.

James Guest , says: Show Comment April 22, 2012 at 5:05 am GMT
Two questions.

Does the US not suffer a serioius political Catch 22? You could clean up much of the excessive influence of money for campaigning and the targeting of self-interest simply to get people to bother to vote by adopting the compulsory voting which means that, in Australia, about 90 per cent of those eligible do vote. But what would it do to actual policy when you have such a high proportion of poorly educated and ethnically disaffected poor people with existing entitlements which cause resentment amongst what was once middle America?

And here is an issue for serious empirical study. Why should a great concentration of wealth in the hands of the 1 per cent, or 5 per cent, or 0.1 per cent matter? It is perfectly clear that the very very rich don't consume significantly more of anything scarce or particularly valuable unless one counts the economically painless transfer or Titians and Tintorettos from one billionaired to another before ending up in a public gallery. It is obviously not impossible for a large super-rich class to so indulge themselves in competitive display by building palatial residences, private airstrips and golf courses and so on, that their country's economy is starved of attention and capital. But any suggestion that such a situation is to be found in the US needs to be demonstrated. It seems more likely that high taxes and regulatory burdens are adding so much to the cost of doing business in the US and even driving entrepreneurs to set up elsewhere, so that the owners of capital are not deploying it to the greatest advantage of US citizens. Yet that hypothesis doesn't stand well with the number of Australian software entrepreneurs who leave a country where it is very easy and quick to start a business doesn't have too punitive a tax regime to start or restart in California where public finances are such a threatening mess.

If the US then is still a good place to deploy one's capital in order to make a lot of money (and not do it entirely by Wall Street fiddles) and there are large concentrations of wealth which means large concentrations of investable capital what is the problem? Clearly it is what is being done to the average American of no special talent, intelligence, education or skill whose income is no longer supported by the advantages America had for many years after WW2 and is being suppressed by high immigration. To an outsider it is slightly less clear that the situation is made almost intolerable for the squeezed middle classes by tax burdens which are not fairly born by the very rich. It is perhaps a little more certain that the cost of living of the squeezed middle, including the absurdly high costs of health care, are inflated damagingly by the transfer payments to the under classes and elderly poor which don't give much benefit to the working poor unless one puts a high value on the contribution of their state sales taxes to the keeping of aggressive or hopeless young males in prison ..

Anonymous Disclaimer , says: Show Comment April 22, 2012 at 8:04 am GMT
China is not to blame for America's decline, America has to face its own ghosts; the 15 trillion dollars debt, the unemployment, inequality, huge military spending, endless wars that is what you have to confront.

Blaming others for Americas decline is not the solution. Be A man america and pick yourself,learn from your mistakes and move on

denk , says: Show Comment April 22, 2012 at 2:38 pm GMT
china is governed by engineers. amerika is ruled by banksters, lawyers. http://tinyurl.com/6n2f5ho
Anonymous Disclaimer , says: Show Comment April 22, 2012 at 7:29 pm GMT
Another blogger jumping on the bandwagon. So easy to say using numbers without any understanding that numbers don't rule the world – to the dismay of mathematicians everywhere.

None of this takes into account that most of China's population lives in poverty. And if our own "War on Poverty" taught us anything is that their poor will remain poor for a very long time.

There's also no consideration that China is [still] a Communist country. This experiment simply gained them a bypass in the militarization highway. They needed to up their might quicker.

It doesn't take into consideration that their 5,000yo culture doesn't celebrate individuality -never has- and this means the creativity needed to push forth on the leaderboard is nonexistent. In fact, the most creative Chinese are those that come to the USA. You can't lead by proxy.

I am not amazed that the China-uber-allez belief is a conservative thing. Just by definition they cannot forecast the future. The future is full of X factors. X is at the core of America. Your insular perspective of what this nation is all about and what makes it tick make you the LAST ones who will decide where this country goes. I know you're just dying to sell it to someone else before the price goes down. But you, and some of your commentors, have no idea the self-contained power America holds.

PS: having lived in third world countries I can give you a warning if you're thinking of moving to Costa Rica or similar places. The people there don't like loaded-freeloaders. Most of your retirement will be spent on security. And just wait 'til you get your first emergency. Seriously, you're going to be waiting a good while. America still has the best GOVERNMENTAL services in the WORLD. Ouch I said the "G" word. Little known secret: Libertarians don't turn down fast rides to the hospital.

John Finnerty , says: Show Comment April 22, 2012 at 7:46 pm GMT
Never was a piece written so needed to be read. We are a one party country. We are totally failed by our media for the "most" part. God how is Corzine walking around . Why did no one on MSNBC challenge Obama on pulling out of Iraq. The Democratic Party promised in 96 if they got control of both Houses of Congress they would end Iraq. Where are you MSNBC, Ed, Rachel, "Mathews forget Mathews he's been in ther tank for either Party in the White House for years" and the loser on at 10 I can't even remember his name.

Then the Attorney General has he arrested anybody? His only claim to work is the ridiculous suit again Sheriff Arpaio. Holder is beyond doubt the worst AG in decades.

Also finally again someone stated the wealth of the upper 1% compared to the bottom 95% . It is time to throw the bums out in both parties. Obama has got to go we need change even if it fails like him. We are in sad shape how many know friends working endless hours of over time not to be payed for it or hanging on not sure if their job will be there next Monday. It's sad how did they ruined our Country. Buchanan is canned for his book, because it's racist give me a break. Pathetic!!!

Felipe , says: Show Comment April 24, 2012 at 3:49 am GMT
Interesting comments from folks. As one who left the U.S. in dismay and disgust at the depths to which the George W. Bush administration dragged the U.S. and at his election (not re-election since he was not elected in 2000 but appointed by the Supreme Court) in 2004 and one who returned a year ago mostly due to the hope engendered by Obama's election, I tend to be more optimistic about the U.S. but only if we are able to challenge the dark forces that keep the majority of U.S. voters in a state of ignorance and anxiety.

The main challenge right now, as I see it, is to get a constitutional amendment passed that overturns the "Corporations are people, money is free speech" absurd court rulings as, if these are left to stand, will destroy the U.S. faster than a thermonuclear attack. The U.S. has overcome adversity before. We tend to solve problems pretty well when we know what they are and when we're agreed upon what they are. Right now, folks are puzzled and confused about the way forward. And the small size of Obama's successes are a testament not to failings on his part but to the appalling state of the system in which he's forced to operate and the enormous power of forces much bigger than he is. We are ruled by unelected corporations whose Boards pre-select candidates from whom we elect 'freely'.

We are all responsbible for allowing the system to deteriorate this far and for allowing its continuation. But America has come through before why all the doom and gloom now? As an aside, I agree with those who see our continuing and increasing diversity and large-scale immigration as our greatest strengths and these should be nurtured and treasured, not feared. Nobody ever moved forward from a position of fear. Fear can only lead us backward.

Bob Arctor , says: Show Comment April 24, 2012 at 7:18 am GMT
Felipe:

Funnily enough, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and and a score of European nations managed to build First World economies with negligible diversity. It's also rather peculiar that the much less diverse "America" of decades past had a much stronger economy than does modern day America, or that non-diverse China is progressing economically much, much faster than insanely diverse India.

It's almost as if diversity is utterly and completely worthless. I wonder why that is

Anonymous Disclaimer , says: Show Comment September 13, 2012 at 1:04 am GMT
From the CIA Factbook:

China 91% "Han", 9% Other (Korean, TIbetan, & 53 others comprising a total population of 105 million people)
Languages: 7 major language groups (Jin, Wu, Yue, Min, Xiang, Hakka, Gan) comprising hundreds of dialects and sub-languages

USA 80% White, 12% Black, 8% Other
Languages: 82% English, 10% Spanish, 8% Other

So it seems to me that the USA is only slightly more "diverse" than China in percentage terms when you spell things out in terms of Black and White. However, looking at the cultural variations and especially language, it becomes quite clear that the designation of "Han Chinese" is as meaningful or meaningless as the designation "White American."

I agree however that a nation unable to cope with its own diversity and the challenges it presents by discarding bigotry is doomed to failure.

Marie Arouet , says: Show Comment July 17, 2013 at 5:18 am GMT

Ron,

You might be interested to mention next time that China has overtaken the United States in patent filings, utility model patents, industrial design patents, trade mark filings, as well as scientific paper publications.

Mark Green , says: Website Show Comment February 5, 2014 at 6:31 am GMT
Hi Ron. That was yet another outstanding overview and analysis. Well done!

You have provided your readers a very nuanced view of the countless variables – some intangible, many virtually invisible – that propel a civilization forward, or even over a cliff. There's much to contemplate here. Thank you!

Anonymous Disclaimer , says: Show Comment February 6, 2014 at 5:02 pm GMT
What makes a state fall is well described in "the rise and decline of great powers" and it is related with spending money on missiles and the like.

When a state or country begins to spend more money than the amount she gets in return for the expenses, she is doomed. perhaps America will retain much of her power but she is doomed as far as i understand.

Robert Anderson , says: Show Comment February 25, 2014 at 10:43 pm GMT
The US is an plutocracy, not a democracy.
B-Real , says: Show Comment March 18, 2014 at 8:13 pm GMT
A great analysis. The decline of the US and the rest of the west reminds me of the Fall of the Roman Empire, but I'll have to a little bit more reading to back that up.

And by the way: Remember to be a little bit proud every day of the way you are spending your money. Sites like this is increasingly important in the Age of Misinformation.

conatus , says: Show Comment June 5, 2014 at 2:41 pm GMT
Wow! only four comments! This is an eye opening essay. Our elite are lawyers and they manipulate, China's elite are engineers and they build things. Three trillion on Bush's stupid wars('fought for completely irrational reasons") and our non participating(no draft) populace quietly went along with the entire show! Why?

Mr. Unz said, "And since we live in a entertainment-dominated society, sentiments affirmed on then screen often have direct real-world consequences."

Double Wow or bow-wow, great point!

I also think we are encouraged NOT to participate in the Democratic process as that seems 'angry.' We are shown that in our entertainment.
People who complain about the way-things-are-now are party p0opers and impolite. The first media approved reaction is to scoff and then shun them.

I also think the only safe topic 0f conversation around the water cooler is sports. Again, no politics allowed, unless you are an approved victim. But generally the major league sports of baseball, football and basketball are THE only thing you can talk about publicly, on which you can safely agree. The racial divisions we have created with our blessed multiculturalism, have starkly different interests and the differences are too real in the workplace to discuss them so we all act like Putnam's turtles and talk NFL training camp lingo.

As long as our GDP increases one per cent a year and six-packs of beer are available for Joe Six-pack, everything will be fine, but if the increase turns to a decrease watch out!

redzengenoist , says: Show Comment June 12, 2014 at 9:03 am GMT
"Sweden is among the cleanest societies in Europe, while Sicily is perhaps the most corrupt. But suppose a large clan of ruthless Sicilian Mafiosi moved to Sweden and somehow managed to gain control of its government. On a day-to-day basis, little would change, with Swedish traffic policemen and building inspectors performing their duties with the same sort of incorruptible efficiency as before, and I suspect that Sweden's Transparency International rankings would scarcely decline. But meanwhile, a large fraction of Sweden's accumulated national wealth might gradually be stolen and transferred to secret Cayman Islands bank accounts, or invested in Latin American drug cartels, and eventually the entire plundered economy would collapse."

It's happening in Sweden, unfortunately.

In Iceland, it already happened, over a very short span of time. But the Icelandic native populace literally ejected them corporally from the govt. buildings, and now the heads of the major banks have been criminally sentenced and imprisoned, Iceland has the only PM to have been criminally convicted in the financial crisis. Dire predictions by other mafiosi of economic meltdown as a consequence of the "too big to fail" going to jail have yet to materialise, Iceland is doing fine.

Randal , says: Show Comment March 13, 2017 at 1:15 pm GMT
Excellent piece.

Some of the sources of Chinese success and American decay are not entirely mysterious. As it happens, the typical professional background of a member of China's political elite is engineering; they were taught to build things. Meanwhile, a remarkable fraction of America's political leadership class attended law school, where they were trained to argue effectively and to manipulate. Thus, we should not be greatly surprised that while China's leaders tend to build, America's leaders seem to prefer endless manipulation, whether of words, money, or people.

Great stuff.

It's also noticeable that when China creates a "crisis" it's by building new land, whereas the US creates crises by fomenting strife and bombing. Construction versus destruction seems to be a theme.

Agent76 , says: Show Comment March 13, 2017 at 7:15 pm GMT
Aug 26, 2015 How the West Re-colonized China

The "Chinese dragon" of the last two decades may be faltering but it is still hailed by many as an economic miracle.

Far from a great advance for Chinese workers, however, it is the direct result of a consolidation of power in the hands of a small clique of powerful families, families that have actively collaborated with Western financial oligarchs.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/WxFSvPUY_oc?feature=oembed

9/11 Inside job , says: Show Comment April 29, 2020 at 12:04 pm GMT
newsbud.com ;

"The Rockefellers and Rothschilds in China :a long intimate relationship" :

"The history of Wall Street and Anglo-American finance in China is one that is rarely discussed in Western media or even academia , whereas knowing it would explain much about both China's stunning economic rise over the past 70 years ,as well as seemingly rising tensions between China and the US today."

Johnny Walker Read , says: Show Comment April 29, 2020 at 1:50 pm GMT
I must say Ron made many good points and predictions in his article of several years ago. America has been a clown world of a one-party political system since the end of WWII.

Never before has it been so obvious we have a government of, by, and for the rich corporate kleptocrat's who control every aspect of life in this country.

... ... ...

[Apr 27, 2020] Pandemic Exposes Liberalism's Free Trade, Open Borders Road To National Suicide by Martin Sieff

Notable quotes:
"... Countries that have allowed their domestic industry to decay have found they cannot now produce the crucial equipment they need, from respirators to gas masks. Countries with strong manufacturing bases like China, or with a prudent nationalist sense of preparing ahead for emergencies like Russia, have done far better. The shortage of respirators in Britain has become more than a national scandal: It is a national shame. That is another inexorable consequence of the pernicious doctrine of Free Trade. ..."
"... While half the counties in the United States remain so far virtually free of the virus, infections have soared in most major metropolitan areas, especially in so-called Sanctuary cities. Invariably these centers are ruled by liberal Democrats where illegal immigrants congregate. ..."
"... the ruling elites of the West have mindlessly embraced Open Borders and Free Trade ..."
"... Russia suffered the full horrors of the merciless laissez-faire, unregulated Free Market policies of the liberal West in the 1990s. Boris Yeltsin never woke up to the catastrophe that Bill Clinton and Larry Summers were inflicting on his country. ..."
"... National social responsibility has succeeded where the crazed, simplistic theories of Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Ayn Rand all palpably failed. ..."
"... The ravages of Liberalism – its Open Borders and Free Markets – have already stripped the West of all its defenses, social, demographic, industrial and economic. ..."
"... open border free trade globalism was an EPIC scam foisted on us ..."
"... Liberals have been selling out American workers for decades, and getting personally wealthy the whole time. Bill, Hillary, Barack, now Joe. ..."
"... This is not a coincidence. The worst part is how they profess to care so much about the underprivileged, unless that person is a worker put out of a job by imports. What a bunch of sleaze balls. ..."
"... NWO Billionaire Globalists have imposed this nightmare on the USA and other citizens of the Western world. ..."
Apr 27, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Martin Sieff via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Open Borders and Free Trade induce national suicide slowly and gradually, without the victims waking up to what is going on until it is too late. But the coronavirus has brought home with global clarity that human societies need governments and regulated borders for their own survival.

The bottom line is clear, societies that have had open borders to previous major centers of infection and transmission, like Iran and Italy which kept open strong flows of people to and from China in the early stages of pandemic, suffered exceptionally badly.

Countries obsessed with maintaining liberal values and open borders like France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the U.S. also suffered disproportionately.

Countries that have allowed their domestic industry to decay have found they cannot now produce the crucial equipment they need, from respirators to gas masks. Countries with strong manufacturing bases like China, or with a prudent nationalist sense of preparing ahead for emergencies like Russia, have done far better. The shortage of respirators in Britain has become more than a national scandal: It is a national shame. That is another inexorable consequence of the pernicious doctrine of Free Trade.

I documented this history in some detail in my 2012 book " That Should Still Be Us ".

There, I showed how even the French Revolution of 1789 was in fact triggered by the catastrophic Free Trade Treaty that hapless King Louis XVI approved with England only three years before. It led immediately to the worst economic depression in French history which triggered revolution. In three years, liberal Free Trade succeeded in destroying a society that had flourished for a thousand years and the most powerful state Europe had known since the fall of the Roman Empire.

In his classic television series and accompanying book "How the Universe Changed", the great British broadcaster and historian James Burke showed how the discipline of statistics was responsible for discovering the way the cholera bacteria spread through contaminated water in 19th Century London, then the largest urban area ever experienced.

Today, we see a similar pattern in the spread of the coronavirus: While half the counties in the United States remain so far virtually free of the virus, infections have soared in most major metropolitan areas, especially in so-called Sanctuary cities. Invariably these centers are ruled by liberal Democrats where illegal immigrants congregate. They are the places where the values and consequences of Free Trade and Open Borders most clearly flourish. And they ar ealso the places where the terrifying costs of those policies are most evident as well. The chickens have come home to roost.

Countries like Russia and China itself, which have reacted most quickly and decisively to shut down international and domestic travel, have been able to keep their numbers of infections and rates of spread down.

In Europe, by contrast, the impact of the virus has been appalling, The European Union has been as useless as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio,. Pro-EU liberal national leaders like President Emmanuel Macron in France and the venerable Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany (Berlin's version of Nancy Pelosi) just sat back in bemused silence till it was too late. In Italy and Spain, the political splintering of societies has woefully added to the chaos.

This is in fact a very old lesson indeed: The ruling elites of the world should not have had to relearn it.

But for more than 225 years, the ruling elites of the West have mindlessly embraced Open Borders and Free Trade. Yet these have always been mere assertions of prejudice and mindless faith: They have never been proven to be true in any scientific manner.

Instead, when we look at the factual evidence of economic history over the past two centuries, it has always been the case that developing industrial societies which protect their manufactures behind strong tariff barriers flourish with enormous foreign trade and balance of payments surpluses. Then the living standards of their people soar.

In contrast, free market societies too powerless, or just too plain dumb to protect their economic borders get swamped by cheap manufactures and their domestic industries get decimated. This was the case with liberal free market Britain caught between the rising Protectionist powers of the United States, Japan and Germany for the next century.

It has been true for the decline of American industry since the 1950s, the more the United States embraced global free trade, the more its own domestic manufactures and their dependent populations suffered. This never bothered the liberal intellectual elites of the East and West Coast at all. It still doesn't. Having inflicted lasting ruin and despair on hundreds of millions of people for generations, they despise their victims as "deplorables" for crying out in pain and seeking to end the disastrous policies.

Russia suffered the full horrors of the merciless laissez-faire, unregulated Free Market policies of the liberal West in the 1990s. Boris Yeltsin never woke up to the catastrophe that Bill Clinton and Larry Summers were inflicting on his country. Over the past two decades, Russia's recovery from that Abyss under President Vladimir Putin has been miraculous. National social responsibility has succeeded where the crazed, simplistic theories of Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Ayn Rand all palpably failed.

The coronavirus pandemic therefore should serve as a wake up call to the peoples of the West, what Thomas Jefferson memorably called "A Fire Bell in the Night." They need to start following Russia's examples of self reliance, prudent preparation and maintaining strong borders.

The ravages of Liberalism – its Open Borders and Free Markets – have already stripped the West of all its defenses, social, demographic, industrial and economic.

The West is out of time: The Audit of Pandemic has been taken, and the reckoning is now due.


xxx

best thing that trump ever did was to hire navarro to shape the nationalist econ policies

open border free trade globalism was an EPIC scam foisted on us

they are doing the same to the kids right now with their globalist warming claptrap

xxx

Liberals have been selling out American workers for decades, and getting personally wealthy the whole time. Bill, Hillary, Barack, now Joe.

This is not a coincidence. The worst part is how they profess to care so much about the underprivileged, unless that person is a worker put out of a job by imports. What a bunch of sleaze balls.

xxx

There is nothing "compassionate" about open borders. It is a total myth / scam. Stealing a country's right to free association and control of its own borders is the ULTIMATE betrayal.

NWO Billionaire Globalists have imposed this nightmare on the USA and other citizens of the Western world. No different then the kings & dictators of the past these tyrants control our lives like we are slaves. True compassion would entail (among other things) exporting commerce, jobs & freedom to every corner of the globe. It's becoming more obvious everyday why this is never even discussed. Globalism is about spreading tyranny & poverty not freedom & wealth. Open borders is a one way ticket to Hell. 💀 Time to rise up and stop this national suicide.

xxx

Liberals will still be only concerned with racism and global rights instead of border security. Nothing trumps that for them. Not even death. How it's possible for us to be racist again 1.5B Chinese when we are the vast minority compared to them is something that liberals have yet to explain to me.

[Apr 26, 2020] Will the collapse of US neoliberal empire accelerate after coronavirus epidemic ?

Apr 26, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

james , Apr 24 2020 17:40 utc | 5

... ... ...

my question is this - will the decline be fast or slow?? it is definitely happening, of that there is no question! I figure another 4 years with Trump could work some real magic!! He could be like the captain who goes down with the ship!


Weekender823 , Apr 24 2020 18:09 utc | 15

Posted by: james | Apr 24 2020 17:40 utc | 5

I am a rare poster, but have to say your trump comment sounds like americentric viewpoint to me! A total collapse of the US economy won't just affect muricans like me, it will cause a world of hurt.

I think Putin's recent actions suggest he is trying to engineer a soft landing for the US to a diminished but still leadership role in a multipolar world. In my view, Putin will be more effective at influencing that future than Trump ever could.

migueljose , Apr 24 2020 18:22 utc | 18
Good comments James.
Your posts seem more deliberate, less venting than most of us so you're one I look for.
I would say though that almost all of us here in the U.S. are more addicted and more deluded than others. Kindof like the tough guy that isn't so tough, the pretty girl that's not that pretty, the rich boy who thinks he has lots of good friends. Right now most people (friends, family, neighbors) are scared.
Regarding speed of the collapse, I'm guessing it will be fast, this year. The people out here in rural Illinois know who they don't like-- reds hate blues and blues hate reds-- but most are also questioning their own superheroes: Dem support and disaffection for their party is growing and even Repub support for Trump appears to be weakening a bit. If the corn and bean crop doesn't turn them a profit farmers are in really bad shape and could turn their anger against all of Washington.
Joost , Apr 24 2020 18:28 utc | 19
@weekender #15
I suppose putin is trying to prevent a cornered cat from picking a fight. It is very tempting for an empire in decline, with massive unemployment rates, to recruit many soldiers, print the money out of thin air, then martyr itself by starting and loosing a major war.
dh-mtl , Apr 24 2020 18:30 utc | 20
"The relative decline of the U.S. is not a new development. It has been visible to outside observes for more than 20 years. But it is only now that some of the delusions that Hollywood, main stream media and the establishment have held up for the last 20 years are finally falling away."

Well actually it's been 40 years:

The U.S. lost its key manufacturing industries (autos, electronics, etc.) to the Japanese in the 1980s, all the while denying that their industry was in decline.

In the 1990s the U.S. replaced their lost manufacturing with the 'illusionary' 'dot.com' industry.

In the 2000s the U.S. next resorted to fraud (subprime mortgages packaged as AAA money market paper) to transfer money from those who still had a little, to those who had already lost their money and were still trying to maintain their previous life.

In the 2010s the U.S. simply printed money, in order to buy what they could not produce themselves, running up debts that they know would never be repaid.

And now, the whole house of cards is crashing down. The ever more rapid money printing can never end. And when the dollar inevitably collapses the delusions will end.

DontBelieveEitherPr. , Apr 24 2020 18:39 utc | 23
@Bernhard:

Brilliant. No other words for it. All the shit you had to take from the "Corona-Hoax" people, only seems to make you even stronger... Maybe that can sheer you up a bit..

For the German speaker here, check out the Book/Ebook "Cold War Leaks" by Markus Kompa, published by Telepolis.
Most of the well and lesser known leaks, and MSM-suppressed info on the Empire, all in one handy book.
It quite cheap, and the author surely deserves any cent of it, but those who are not able to, should be able to get it from libgen.


Amazon Link - Markus Kompa - Cold War Leaks

William Gruff , Apr 24 2020 19:49 utc | 42
Weekender823 @15: "I think Putin's recent actions suggest he is trying to engineer a soft landing for the US to a diminished but still leadership role in a multipolar world."

So is China. So is Iran. Heck, even Syria and Venezuela are trying to soften America's landing to the best of their abilities, despite all of the vicious hostility they get from the US.

Hysterical paranoia about everyone being out to "get them" is the dark flip side of America's delusion of exceptionality.

[Apr 24, 2020] Please Tell the Establishment That U.S. Hegemony is Over by Daniel Larison

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The truth is that decline was never a choice, but the U.S. can decide how it can respond to it. We can continue chasing after the vanished, empty glory of the "unipolar moment" with bromides of American exceptionalism. We can continue to delude ourselves into thinking that military might can make up for all our other weaknesses. Or we can choose to adapt to a changed world by prudently husbanding our resources and putting them to uses more productive than policing the world. ..."
"... Exit From Hegemony: The Unraveling of the American Global Order ..."
Apr 23, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com
|

More than 10 years ago, the columnist Charles Krauthammer asserted that American "decline is a choice," and argued tendentiously that Barack Obama had chosen it. Yet looking back over the last decade, it has become increasingly obvious that this decline has occurred irrespective of what political leaders in Washington want.

The truth is that decline was never a choice, but the U.S. can decide how it can respond to it. We can continue chasing after the vanished, empty glory of the "unipolar moment" with bromides of American exceptionalism. We can continue to delude ourselves into thinking that military might can make up for all our other weaknesses. Or we can choose to adapt to a changed world by prudently husbanding our resources and putting them to uses more productive than policing the world.

There was a brief period during the 1990s and early 2000s when the U.S. could claim to be the world's hegemonic power. America had no near-peer rivals; it was at the height of its influence across most of the globe. That status, however, was always a transitory one, and was lost quickly thanks to self-inflicted wounds in Iraq and the natural growth of other powers that began to compete for influence. While America remains the most powerful state in the world, it no longer dominates as it did 20 years ago. And there can be no recapturing what was lost.

Alexander Cooley and Dan Nexon explore these matters in their new book, Exit From Hegemony: The Unraveling of the American Global Order . They make a strong case for distinguishing between the old hegemonic order and the larger international order of which it is a part. As they put it, "global international order is not synonymous with American hegemony." They also make careful distinctions between the different components of what is often simply called the "liberal international order": political liberalism, economic liberalism, and liberal intergovernmentalism. The first involves the protection of rights, the second open economic exchange, and the third the form of international order that recognizes legally equal sovereign states. Cooley and Nexon note that both critics and defenders of the "liberal international order" tend to assume that all three come as a "package deal," but point out that these parts do not necessarily reinforce each other and do not have to coexist.

While the authors are quite critical of Trump's foreign policy, they don't pin the decline of the old order solely on him. They argue that hegemonic unraveling takes place when the hegemon loses its monopoly over patronage and "more states can compete when it comes to providing economic, security, diplomatic, and other goods." The U.S. has been losing ground for the better part of the last 20 years, much of it unavoidable as other states grew wealthier and sought to wield greater influence. The authors make a persuasive case that the "exit" from hegemony is already taking place and has been for some time.

Many defenders of U.S. hegemony insist that the "liberal international order" depends on it. That has never made much sense. For one, the continued maintenance of American hegemony frequently conflicts with the rules of international order. The hegemon reserves the right to interfere anywhere it wants, and tramples on the sovereignty and legal rights of other states as it sees fit. In practice, the U.S. has frequently acted as more of a rogue in its efforts to "enforce" order than many of the states it likes to condemn. The most vocal defenders of U.S. hegemony are unsurprisingly some of the biggest opponents of international law -- at least when it gets in their way. Cooley and Nexon make a very important observation related to this in their discussion of the role of revisionist powers in the world today:

But the key point is that we need to be extremely careful that we don't conflate "revisionism" with opposition to the United States. The desire to undermine hegemony and replace it with a multipolar system entails revisionism with respect to the distribution of power, but it may or may not be revisionist with respect to various elements of international architecture or infrastructure.

The core of the book is a survey of three different sources for the unraveling of U.S. hegemony: major powers, weaker states, and transnational "counter-order" movements. Cooley and Nexon trace how Russia and China have become increasingly effective at wielding influence over many smaller states through patronage and the creation of parallel institutions and projects such as the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). They discuss a number of weaker states that have begun hedging their bets by seeking patronage from these major powers as well as the U.S. Where once America had a "near monopoly" on such patronage, this has ceased to be the case. They also track the role of "counter-order" movements, especially nationalist and populist groups, in bringing pressure to bear on their national governments and cooperating across borders to challenge international institutions. Finally, they spell out how the U.S. itself has contributed to the erosion of its own position through reckless policies dating back at least to the invasion of Iraq.

The conventional response to the unraveling of America's hegemony here at home has been either a retreat into nostalgia with simplistic paeans to the wonders of the "liberal international order" that ignore the failures of that earlier era or an intensified commitment to hard-power dominance in the form of ever-increasing military budgets (or some combination of the two). Cooley and Nexon contend that the Trump administration has opted for the second of these responses. Citing the president's emphasis on maintaining military dominance and his support for exorbitant military spending, they say "it suggests an approach to hegemony more dependent upon military instruments, and thus on the ability (and willingness) of the United States to continue extremely high defense spending. It depends on the wager that the United States both can and should substitute raw military power for its hegemonic infrastructure." That not only points to what Barry Posen has called "illiberal hegemony," but also leads to a foreign policy that is even more militarized and unchecked by international law.

Cooley and Nexon make a compelling observation about how Trump's demand for more allied military spending differs from normal calls for burden-sharing. Normally, burden-sharing advocates call on allies to spend more so the U.S. can spend less. But that isn't Trump's position at all. His administration pressures allied governments to increase their spending, while showing no desire to curtail the Pentagon budget:

Retrenchment entails some combination of shedding international security commitments and shifting defense burdens onto allies and partners. This allows the retrenching power, in principle, to redirect military spending toward domestic priorities, particularly those critical to long-term productivity and economic growth. In the current American context, this means making long-overdue investments in transportation infrastructure, increasing educational spending to develop human capital, and ramping up support for research and development. This rationale makes substantially less sense if retrenchment policies do not produce reductions in defense spending–which is why Trump's aggressive, public, and coercive push for burden sharing seems odd. Recall that Trump and his supporters want, and have already implemented, increases in the military budget. There is no indication that the Trump administration would change defense spending if, for example, Germany or South Korea increased their own military spending or more heavily subsidized American bases.

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed how misguided our priorities as a nation have been. There is now a chance to change course, but that will require our leaders to shift their thinking. U.S. hegemony is already on its way out; now Americans need to decide what our role in the world will look like afterwards. Warmed-over platitudes about "leadership" won't suffice and throwing more money at the Pentagon is a dead end. The way forward is a strategy of retrenchment, restraint, and renewal.


Tradcon 2 days ago

They can't possibly grapple with the fact that they were wrong and that their policies were catastrophic failures in almost every regard.
Kessler Tradcon 2 days ago
Yeah. US just happened to decline, a completely natural process, some universal constant, like gravity of which we have no control.

No. A decadent US population, informed by clueless media, put in charge incompetent and self-serving leaders, who made a series of very poor choices for the nation, but financially beneficial for themselves.

HenionJD Kessler a day ago • edited
And thus our betrayed America's version of the White Man's Burden. It's sad to think our children having to endure living in a world where they aren't called to die in God-forsaken hellholes for reasons that have nothing to do with this nation's core principles. Sad!
AlexanderHistory X Kessler a day ago
Lol. Sort of. Except the very oligarchs you speak of, on both sides, set the stage for all of it.
This is the inevitable result of voting as a right, ans they knew it. Universal suffrage is a tool of control, not liberty.
MPC AlexanderHistory X a day ago
The oligarchs are really just like other Americans, who got their hands on a whole lot of money. I have no doubt the rest of the population would behave like oligarchs if given the same resources.
JonF311 AlexanderHistory X a day ago
We don't have universal suffrage and voting is no where named as a right in the Constitution. The most it has to say is that voting can not be denied to people based on their membership in certain classes, nor limited based on the payment of a tax.
Meddersville 2 days ago
"it has become increasingly obvious that this decline has occurred irrespective of what political leaders in Washington want."

It isn't "irrespective of". It is because of what they wanted. They wanted and aggressively pushed for US foreign policy to serve the narrow regional interests of client states like Israel and Saudi Arabia. They got what they wanted, in spades, and now America's geopolitical and economic fortunes are in a tail-spin.

If America had ignored these people, with their stupid interventionism, their almost blatant service of foreign interests by demanding "no daylight" with "allies" who did nothing but suck our blood, we would have been far better off. We would have been far better able to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to the pandemic. It's impossible not to think ruefully of the trillions we wasted on Middle East wars and other interventions, money now so badly needed here at home.

Jason Kennedy 2 days ago
The US will pursue a similar path to Israel. Advantage is relative. Rather than repair the US economy it is simpler to destroy those of one's rivals. I see war as the only attractive option for the US elite as that is the only area where they still enjoy clear superiority (or believe they do, same thing policy-wise.)
Kathleen King a day ago
Cooley and Nevon's book appears to be a good read - I will put it on my 'to read so buy' book list. China is the next hegemon - this is inevitable due to design. As time goes by during this 'coronavirus pandemic' I have been waiting to hear a politician, any politician, assert that they will support legislation to require 'essential supply lines' to be returned to the U.S. Aside from 'murmurs', not a 'lucid' peep. Just 'sue china' legislation, or smoke and mirrors blame on those within the U.S. via the media or politicians. This is just embarrassing and surreal.

The priority should be to bring these supply lines back to the U.S. [i.e., medical]. Too hell if I am going to be forced to pay for 'Obamacare' or 'Medicare For All' like a Russian Serf, to the Corporations [vassals] of China [Tatars] - enforced by their 'Eunuchs', greedy politicians in Washington. {Eunuchs were castrated lackies of Emperors]. Yet Chinese slave labour on these medical products, including pharmaceutical ingredients, and precious metals for parts for the Department of Defense, keep profit margins very high.

Because of their cowardice one must ask: Why increase defense spending on any project - or be concerned with Iran or Venezuela or Russia or keeping NATO afloat? Allowing China to continue to be the 'sole source' provider of essential goods is just asking for another scenario like the one before us. If so, I am convinced that my country is nothing more than a 'dead carcass' being ripped apart by 'Corporate Vassals of China'. This, of course, includes the Tech Companies as well.

Bankotsu Kathleen King a day ago • edited
China won't be next hegemon. It has no ambition to be one.
joeo Bankotsu a day ago
Are Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Australia and India aware of this?
Bankotsu joeo a day ago
Time will tell.
Feral Finster joeo a day ago • edited
China does not have ideal geography to be world hegemon.

For one thing, it is too easy to prevent any ships from leaving the South China Sea.

The fact that China has not gone to war with anyone since 1953, except for two sharp but short border conflicts in 1962 and 1979, should tell you something. Contrast with the peace-loving liberal democracy of the United States.

J Villain joeo a day ago
You mean the counties that have signed numerous trade and defence agreements with China?
Comicus Bankotsu 20 hours ago
China has seen the cost we've paid. I don't think they see the value.
dstraws Kathleen King a day ago
The answer of course is a functional international system--environmental protection, world health, a transparent financial system, world court, and policing. All agreed on by at least the major players which makes it costly for others not to participate.
Kathleen King dstraws a day ago
With good reason many 'mistrust' this int'l system given the threat to sovereignty of a country, most importantly the freedom of its citizens. An int'l system is asymmetrical, a radical 're-distribution' program that preys on citizens of the 'pseudo-wealthy' west. The United States will be, post-Corona Virus, potentially $30T in debt. Yet they contribute the most to the WHO. The largest contribution to the UN comes from the United States. This fact seems to rebut your 'costly for others not to participate'.

The Paris Agreement, like the UN and WHO, will rely on most of the funds coming from the U.S. and redistributed to other countries. And this will further destroy the standard of living in this country to the degree of crashing the economy. The expected Utopian Outcome for this so-called 'One-World' order will be a great disappointment to those that advocate for it. Because, after all, it is nothing more than a Utopian dream gambling on the cohesive nature of different demographic groups combined with significant reduction in freedoms for all - based on flawed models, including so-called 'man made global warming' models. To define the Demographic is use in the context of my response: does not = race; it equals culture. Right now this is being demonstrated in the super state of the EU. There can be no harmony in a world like this. It is like forcing a 'square peg' into a 'round hole'.

And who are these major players? The Eunuch Politicians in Washington and Western Europe? What are their priorities? Their wallets or their constituents? And I do not mean in a parental way. That is not the role of government.

Jim Chilton a day ago
Viewed from a global perspective at this time, there is a decline in American power and influence, but the vanity of politicians prevents them from seeing it and they don't want to let go.

The British government makes the same mistakes as it clings to an imaginary "prestige" as a world power - a power that vanished in 1914.

Lars a day ago
We don't have to collapse like the Western Roman Empire; we can adjust like the Byzantine Empire and stay around a thousand years longer.
Lee a day ago
After Eden was removed as PM post-Suez the new PM Harold McMillan came in and was honest with the British ppl in explaining their new role in the world, just 10-15 years after the triumph of WW2 a UK Prime Minister had the courage to tell the British people that they were no longer at the top table, that the age of Empire was over and to put in place the policies required to remove the burden of empire from Britain and adjust to its new role in the world. Do you see an American politician with the capability to tell some uncomfortable home truths to the American people and still win an election?
joeo Lee a day ago
i think that is why voters elected Trump. The citizens of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin have lived the decline of the United States. At least under trump there have been no new wars but the withdrawal from Iraq, Afghanistan NATO, Japan, Korea needs to occur with the Military-Industrial-Media Complex kicking and screaming.with each step. Also ending sanctions on Iran, Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela.
WolfNippleChips joeo a day ago
We are in Japan because it allows us to patrol the sea lanes which is vital for our economy and it gives us a large force ready to respond in case of Chinese or North Korean aggression. The Status of Forces Agreement and other treaties with Japan stipulate what percentage of costs are born by Japan.
joeo WolfNippleChips a day ago
Allowing Japan to destroy consumer electronics, damage steel and automotive is vital to our economy? Could we not patrol the sea lanes if we wanted to from Guam? Is not freedom of the sea just as vital to Japan, Europe and India? How is China or North Korea the aggressor when Japan, Korea and Taiwan have been client states of China with the US thousands of miles away?
Imperialism has bankrupt the United States just as it did Europe. The time has come to end these treaties.
MPC joeo a day ago
Ultra protectionism, retreat to our island and no one can find us, 'make America great again' I dare say, thinking is naive and unrealistic.

America wil be poorer, weaker, and more vulnerable if it tried to only make its own goods and had to rely on only its own labor. Trade is profit and profit is the ability to develop, build, and defend what we have. Where do the profits go is the question. Who loses in the trade is another question. Does the benefit from the former outweigh the latter?

I don't see Japanese trade as making much of a dent in employment rates. The profits go to the Japanese state and industry, who are important counterweights to Chinese ambitions in Asia, a mutual interest. So, the costs are few, and the profits are used in significant measure to mutual benefit.

The liberal hegemon is dead, yes our imperialism is dead even if it doesn't know it, but it is essential to remain strategically involved in the world around us. Even if we stop playing the game, the world around us does not. Did Russia have the luxury of turning into a turtle after the Cold War? No. Nations, which are all wolves, smell weakness. Yet the Trumpian right wants to hide, put its finger in its ear, and pretend that everything will be fine it seems.

Lee joeo 16 hours ago
What are these withdrawals from Iraq & Afghanistan you speak of? They just have not happened, like not even a little bit, so tired of people pushing this completely false narrative as if it is true, just maddening. A democracy cannot function if people exist in their own worlds with their own facts that are just not true
David Naas a day ago
The Brits after WW2 offer a lesson here. Hurt badly by WW1, their whole system began teetering as that illusion of the "natural superiority" of the British took massive hits in the various colonies of the Empire. By exposing the ordinariness of the administrators and soldiers, it encouraged revolt (see Gandhi in India). But WW2 arguably devastated the UK. It's "win" over Germany was Pyrrhic, as it needed both the USSR and the USA , and each took a chunk of prestige and of the "hegemon". George VI recognized this, and British politicians encouraged the shift from Empire to Commonwealth. (Which, if they had never involved themselves in the EU beyond trade and had kept up the Commonwealth as it was intended, would have been a better path than what they did, IMHO.) Nevertheless, they handled it better than I think we will.

As Jefferson said, "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none."

But to get there, we have a lot of nonsense -- damned nonsense - - to overcome.

John Achterhof a day ago
Excellent review and outlook on an encouraging transition from the compulsion of hegemony within a generally agreeable paradigm of economic liberalism (rules-based international markets).
john a day ago
Well this present regime is actively smashing "international organizations" constructed largely by the Americans after WW2. This makes it even easier for the Chinese to fill the vacuum we have created. It would be better to hold them in a Western biased "international organization"
engineerscotty a day ago
Would be nice if there were no global hegemon, actually.
NoNonsensingPlease engineerscotty a day ago
All indications are that ship has sailed. Will there be hegemons? Yes, but more than one. The US will not be the only hegemon and the COVID-19 helped the world see the emperor has no clothes.
MPC engineerscotty a day ago
I think that's the likely course, unless the US remains especially incompetent in ensuring that China isn't the one cleaning up at all the empire liquidation sales.

No nation should be entrusted with anything like the power the US has had.

WolfNippleChips a day ago
Until they start shooting down our airliners, sinking our cruise ships, attacking our Naval Bases, and invading their neighbors and committing genocide against people of other races and religions.

Then, the doves will wake up and realize that the Big Stick is what kept us safe afterall.

MPC WolfNippleChips a day ago
Yes, we need the Big Stick.

We just need a rethinking of strategy, since we're just hitting ourselves with it right now.

Some people feel inclined to toss away the stick to prevent the foolish use of it.

chris chuba WolfNippleChips a day ago
You mean fight people who actually threaten us rather than attack people because we dream up scenarios where it's possible or we just don't like them? I'll take that over preemptive genocide.

If we focused on actual defense 9/11 would not have happened. We ignored Al Qaeda despite the fact the bombed us multiple times because we were too busy bombing Serbia, blowing up their TV stations and expanding NATO to gobble up former Russian Republics.

Feral Finster a day ago
"Liberal international order" my royal Irish @ss.

The United States routinely ignores any international laws, whenever it sees fit. Anyway, the idea that United States hegemony is obligatory because muh international order is an argument from consequences.

AlexanderHistory X a day ago
Lol, America Is what's in the rear view, not just our status as the sole superpower.
People better get ready, this empire is getting ready to collapse.
NoNonsensingPlease AlexanderHistory X a day ago
Surely the shortest live empire in history.
JonF311 NoNonsensingPlease a day ago
Alexander's barely outlived his brief life.
M Orban AlexanderHistory X a day ago
You wouldn't be the first one to say that...
MPC AlexanderHistory X a day ago
Meh, people better get ready, we're getting ready to muddle along for the next several decades.

The American state is way too tasty a prize. No one is going to dismantle it, and people will unite against any threat that has the potential to. Eventually someone will figure out a Bernie/Trump fusion and that person will be our Peron or Putin. Radical leftists will be crushed by the police if they try anything, and the white nationalists will all be in prison.

We're somewhere between Argentina and Russia heading forward.

MPC a day ago
Sell the empire. Ignore the Middle East outside of the oil trade lanes. Reorient our trade networks on SE Asia, India, and Latin America - no more feeding China. End of hostile moves towards Russia - let Europe reconcile with Russia. Fully support multipolar world order.

Militarily we don't need the plodding battleship of a force we have now. No need to occupy whole countries with 'boots on the ground'. Maintain top notch special forces, advisor and coordination programs with allies, and anything useful for blowing up Chinese force projection especially the PLA navy. Subs and missiles.

Platonist_82 MPC 21 hours ago • edited
Lots of good ideas here. Would trading with India involve a "reorient[ation]?" (I don't know.) That is to say, would still trading with India mean that we have to maintain our current naval position, or would that still be consistent with some sort of drawdown? Or are you saying that since India is not a hostile force, we would not have to worry about it? Or does is that problem met with the "anything useful for blowing up Chinese force projection especially the PLA navy. Subs and missiles." Conceivably, China could increase its presence in the Indian Ocean to create problems, no? Overall, agree with a lot of it--I'm just curious about the logistics.
MPC Platonist_82 15 hours ago
India in the longer term could ostensibly do much of what China does for us now trade wise. Needs to finish developing its infrastructure and its manufacturing tech. SE Asia and Mexico are closer short term.

I think due to the commercial value of the seas our navy is our most cost effective means of force projection. Patrolling the Persian Gulf means we have our thumb on the number one petroleum artery. I would focus more on cost effective means to deny China (and Chinese trade) access to the seas in the event of tension. Carriers are expensive targets when subs and strategic missile emplacements can inspire even more fear due to unpredictability. But yes we still need bases and partnerships throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans. China can roam around in peacetime as it wishes, what matters is that it stays totally bottled up in port, along with its maritime trade, in a conflict.

Allow these places to run up trade surpluses with us rather than China.

Platonist_82 a day ago • edited
I think Mr. Larison is on the right track. However, even if the logic of abandoning the Liberal International Order (LIO) is accepted--and the LIO most certainly should be abandoned--the entire story or narrative of post-World War II America narrative must be either abandoned or refashioned. It seems that the LIO functions as some sort of purpose for American citizens, and a higher-level theology for those who work in the United States Government, especially those who are involved in foreign policy making. Countering or reshaping the narrative of United States foreign policy and its link with domestic policy will be a challenge, but one that needs to be taken up, and taken up successfully. In personal conversations with those who support the LIO, they seem to take [my] criticisms of the LIO as some sort of ad hominem attack. This reaction is obviously illogical, but it is one that those who see the wisdom of abandoning the LIO must tactically and tactfully counter. Regrettably, supporting the LIO is conflated with being an American, or conflated with the raison d'etre of the existence of the United States. Many think the abandonment of the LIO cannot rationally be replaced and will necessarily be replaced with some sort of nihilism or the most cynical form of "realism," of which they mistakenly believe they possess understanding. For a start, reforming the educational system, insofar as it not already dominated by incorrect-but-fashionable far-leftist ideas that advocate a narrative of American history and purpose as false as it is pernicious, would seem to necessary. Many children grow into adulthood falsely thinking maintaining the LIO is their responsibility. It is, at root, a theological sickness.
MidnightDancer 9 hours ago
It is very difficult for me to see the U.S. changing course anytime soon. Neoliberal globalists, political, and financial, are in control.
Tony 7 hours ago
I hope it is over. To hell with the Europeans who have made a national sport of mocking Americans and all things America, while we risk nuclear war on their behalf. Let them face Putin and the Islamic invasion on their own - those problems are Europe's, not ours.
Frank Blangeard 7 hours ago
The United States is ramping up for the "Great Final War' with both Russia and China. Throw in Iran, Syria, North Korea etc. as an afterthought. The U.S. will bring the temple down on itself rather than give up the goal of 'Full Spectrum Dominance'.that it has been pursuing since the end of WWII.
Anti_Govt_Rebel 5 hours ago
Alexander Cooley and Dan Nexon may think the glory days are coming to an end, but I don't think Trump and the neocons got the memo yet. I see no evidence of any intent to change.
Matthew W. Hall 13 minutes ago
There is no "international order." That's just rhetoric that is useful for certain economic interests. A world without american hegemony will be divided and filled with conflict. Globalization can't work politically.

[Apr 22, 2020] The Neoliberal Collapse by Miatta Fahnbulleh

Notable quotes:
"... To boost sluggish wages, governments should use all the levers of the state -- corporate taxes, wage regulations, and subsidies -- to incentivize or force businesses to pay their workers fairly. ..."
"... A new social contract with citizens should extend beyond the workplace, however, with the ultimate goal being the establishment of a "well-being state" that would provide everyone with the basics necessary to maintain a decent quality of life. This would require increased investment in the staples of the welfare state, which have been weakened under neoliberal governments, such as guaranteed universal access to high-quality health care and education. But the new approach would go beyond those familiar elements by offering universal access to childcare, public transportation, and minimum income protection -- that is, a floor below which no one's income can fall irrespective of whether a person is employed. These expansions of the welfare state should be funded through progressive taxation that would raise the tax burden on those who can most afford it, by increasing the top rates for income and corporate taxes and by taxing wealth, such as capital gains, at the same level as income. ..."
"... Top-down policies, however, will not be sufficient to spur the kind of transformation that must take place in developed countries in order to truly shake off neoliberal stagnation and decline. ..."
Feb 28, 2020 | www.foreignaffairs.com

Capitalism is in crisis. Until recently, that conviction was confined to the left. Today, however, it has gained traction across the political spectrum in advanced economies. Economists, policymakers, and ordinary people have increasingly come to see that neoliberalism -- a creed built on faith in free markets, deregulation, and small government, and that has dominated societies for the last 40 years -- has reached its limit.

This crisis has been long in the making but was brought into sharp focus in the aftermath of the global financial meltdown of 2007–8 and the global recession that followed it. In the developed countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, economic growth over the last decade ceased to benefit most people. At the end of 2017, nominal wage growth among OECD members was only half what it was a decade earlier . More than one in three people in the OECD countries are estimated to be economically vulnerable, meaning they lack the means to maintain a living standard at or above the poverty level for at least three months. Meanwhile, in those countries, income inequality is higher than at any time in the past half century: the richest ten percent hold almost half of total wealth, and the bottom 40 percent hold just three percent.

Defenders of neoliberalism frequently point out that although decades of wage stagnation and wealth concentration have led to ballooning inequality in developed countries, the same time period has seen a dramatic increase in prosperity on a global scale. Over a billion people, they argue, have been lifted out of extreme poverty owing to technological advances, investments, and prosperity that were made possible by the spread of free markets. However, this argument fails to account for the critical role that governments have played in that change through the provision of education, health care, and employment. Such state interventions have arguably been as decisive as the invisible hand of the market in lifting living standards. This defense also ignores the fact that despite many gains in prosperity, massive wealth concentration and staggering inequality continue to shape the global economy: less than one percent of the world's population owns 46 percent of the world's wealth, and the poorest 70 percent own less than three percent.

Inequality has always been a feature of capitalist societies, and people have been willing to tolerate it as long as they felt that their quality of life was improving, their opportunities were expanding, and their children could expect to do even better than them -- that is, as long as all the proverbial boats were rising. When that stopped happening in recent decades, it fed a growing perception that the system is unfair and is not working in the interest of the majority of people. Pent-up frustration has led to a clamor for change -- including a new receptivity to socialist ideals that have long been sidelined or even considered taboo. In the United Kingdom, for example, 53 percent of people recently polled said they believed that the economy has become more unfair over the last decade. Eighty-three percent said they felt that the economy worked well for the wealthy, but only ten percent said that it worked for people born into poor families. And ideas such as restoring public ownership of the essential utilities that were privatized in recent decades, such as railways, electrical services, and water companies, are gaining traction , with over 75 percent of people polled supporting such a step. Meanwhile, in the United States, a 2018 Gallup poll found that among Americans aged 18 to 29, socialism had a higher approval rating (51 percent) than capitalism (45 percent). "This represents a 12-point decline in young adults' positive views of capitalism in just the past two years," Gallup noted, "and a marked shift since 2010, when 68 percent viewed it positively."

Neoliberalism is not just failing people: it's failing the earth.

A mere revival of the social democratic agenda of the postwar era, however, would not be sufficient. For one thing, that period's emphasis on central authority and state ownership runs counter to the widespread demand in developed economies for more local and collective control of resources. Perhaps more important, however, is the need to confront a challenge that postwar social democratic models did not have to take into account: the threat posed by climate change and catastrophic environmental degradation. After all, neoliberalism is not just failing people: it's failing the earth. Owing in no small part to the massive levels of consumption and fossil fuel use required by an economic model that prioritizes growth above all else, climate change now imperils the future of human existence. Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that the world has barely over a decade to halve carbon emissions if humanity is to have any chance of limiting the increase in average global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels -- a point past which the damage to human and natural systems would be devastating and largely irreversible.

Just like the economic breakdown that has chipped away at people's quality of life, environmental decline is rooted in the crisis of capitalism. And both challenges can be addressed by embracing an alternative economic model, one that responds to a hunger for genuine reform by adapting socialist ideals to the contemporary era. A new economic model must prioritize a thriving and healthy natural environment. It must deliver improvements in well-being and guarantee all citizens a decent quality of life. It must be built by businesses that plan for the long term, seek to serve a social purpose beyond just increasing profits and shareholder value, and commit to giving their workers a voice. The new model would empower people and give them a larger stake in the economy by establishing common ownership of public goods and essential infrastructure and by encouraging the cooperative and joint ownership of private, locally administered enterprises. This calls for an active but decentralized state that would devolve power to the level of local communities and enable people to act collectively to improve their lives.

A NEW SOCIAL CONTRACT

The United Kingdom provides an interesting case study of how the crisis of capitalism is playing out. There, as in the United States, center-right and center-left governments alike have spent decades following a neoliberal recipe of tax cuts, reduced social welfare benefits, and deregulation -- far more enthusiastically than most other European countries, which have stronger social democratic traditions and institutions. As a result, the neoliberal breakdown has been particularly painful in the United Kingdom, where people are on average poorer today than they were in 2008, adjusting for inflation. British household debt is higher than it was before the financial crisis, as more people borrow just to get by, and a staggering 14.3 million people live in poverty .

For many British people, the 2016 referendum on whether to leave the European Union served as an outlet for their discontent and anger at a failing system. The vote in favor of Brexit was a clear message from communities under pressure that the status quo needed to change. More than three years on, this disquiet continues to grow, opening up space for more radical changes in domestic policy -- as witnessed by the Labour Party's recent embrace of ideas that would once have been considered too risky, such as the renationalization of utilities and the establishment of a state-run pharmaceutical company.

But even in the United Kingdom, political platforms have lagged behind public demands for significant change. What's needed in developed economies across the world is not tinkering around the edges but a full-scale reformation of the relationship among the state, the economy, and local communities. The first step would be a global Green New Deal: a massive mobilization of resources to decarbonize and at the same time create millions of jobs and lift living standards. The goal should be net-zero carbon emissions within ten to 15 years, which will require governments to make significant investments in green infrastructure, such as onshore and offshore wind farms and smart energy grids; in new technologies such as carbon capture and storage; and in training workers to develop the skills they will need for the jobs a green economy will create, such as installing insulation, maintaining renewable energy systems, and reconditioning and refurbishing used goods.

Policymakers will also need to create incentives for companies to reduce their carbon use by replacing subsidies for fossil fuels with tax breaks for the use of renewables. New regulations, such as zero-carbon building standards or quotas for the use of fossil fuel energy, would help bend markets that have been slow to act in response to the climate crisis. And central banks will need to encourage financial markets to divest from fossil fuels through tougher credit guidance policies, including capping the amount of credit that can be used to support investment in carbon-intensive activities and setting quotas for the amount of finance that should flow to low-carbon investment.

Anger at a failing system has opened up space for radical changes in domestic policy.

To boost sluggish wages, governments should use all the levers of the state -- corporate taxes, wage regulations, and subsidies -- to incentivize or force businesses to pay their workers fairly. A just share of the rewards from their labor should come not only in the form of higher wages but also in reductions in working time, with a move to an average four-day workweek, which governments can achieve by increasing statutory holidays. At the same time, the power of workers to protect their interests should be strengthened by requiring all companies to automatically recognize labor unions and by giving workers stronger legal rights to organize, bargain collectively, and strike. Workers must also gain greater ownership of the organizations that employ them. Governments ought to mandate employee ownership funds, which transfer a share of a firm's profits, in the form of equity, into a trust that is owned by workers collectively. Through the trust, workers would receive shares in the company, just like any shareholder. Those shares would come with voting rights, enabling employees to become the dominant shareholders in every enterprise over time, with the power to shape the direction of the businesses where they work. In the United Kingdom, a growing number of companies, including the department store chain John Lewis, the home-entertainment retailer Richer Sounds, and the consulting firm Mott MacDonald, are already reaping the benefits of putting ownership in the hands of workers : higher productivity, better worker retention and engagement, and stronger profits.

A new social contract with citizens should extend beyond the workplace, however, with the ultimate goal being the establishment of a "well-being state" that would provide everyone with the basics necessary to maintain a decent quality of life. This would require increased investment in the staples of the welfare state, which have been weakened under neoliberal governments, such as guaranteed universal access to high-quality health care and education. But the new approach would go beyond those familiar elements by offering universal access to childcare, public transportation, and minimum income protection -- that is, a floor below which no one's income can fall irrespective of whether a person is employed. These expansions of the welfare state should be funded through progressive taxation that would raise the tax burden on those who can most afford it, by increasing the top rates for income and corporate taxes and by taxing wealth, such as capital gains, at the same level as income.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE

Top-down policies, however, will not be sufficient to spur the kind of transformation that must take place in developed countries in order to truly shake off neoliberal stagnation and decline. Those societies also must become more democratic, with power and resources distributed to regional and local governments, closer to the people in the communities they serve. This is one critical way in which such a new economic agenda would differ from more traditional socialism, which tends to favor centralized authority and state ownership. For example, rather than relying on federal or provincial governments for everyday essentials, such as energy, affordable housing, and public transportation, municipalities should establish corporations owned by and accountable to residents to provide these services.

The Basque Country, in Spain, offers one example of what a more democratic economy might look like. There, the Mondragon Corporation , set up in 1956 by graduates of a technical college to provide employment through worker cooperatives, has grown to become one of the ten largest business groups and the fourth-largest employer in Spain, with hundreds of different companies and subsidiaries and over 75,000 workers. The cooperatives operate in a variety of sectors , including banking, consumer goods, and engineering. They are set up not merely to turn a profit but also to achieve a specific social or environmental goal. They are owned and run by the people who work for them rather than by external investors, and their governance structures ensure that members have a stake in the organizations and share in the wealth they create.

Community land trusts in the United Kingdom provide another example. Granby Four Streets, in Liverpool, and the London Community Land Trust, in the Mile End district, provide affordable housing to their local communities by buying land from the private sector and taking it into community ownership. The trust builds affordable homes that it sells or rents to local residents at discounted rates. An asset lock prevents the land from being resold, which guarantees that the homes will remain affordable.

Bottom-up experiments such as these will be critical to the success of a new economic model. For those experiments to flourish, influential political figures who identify with the socialist tradition -- people such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders in the United States and Jeremy Corbyn in the United Kingdom -- should use their platforms to draw attention to local-level activists and organizations that are working to create a more democratic economy. Meanwhile, some degree of patience will be in order: it will take time for such new thinking to produce the large-scale changes necessary. But such patience must also have a limit: when it comes to fixing the damage that neoliberalism has done, time is running out.

[Apr 21, 2020] All the msm talking heads have been revealed for what they are: state propagandists. not one krugmanian friedmanite will ever say, "I didn't see this coming and I pimped myself out for the last 40 years selling snake oil and getting nobel prizes for it

Apr 21, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

ron , Apr 21 2020 15:59 utc | 65

" i listened to about 3 mins of some bill gates ted talkish thing, wondering, will these dim bulbs ever assume responsibility for anything?

all the msm talking heads have been revealed for what they are: state propagandists. not one krugmanian friedmanite will ever say, "I didn't see this coming and I pimped myself out for the last 40 years selling snake oil and getting nobel prizes for it and have revealed myself to be unqualified to turn on a light switch no matter how much money I have made and recognition I have received. Clearly I know nothing". why would anyone listen to an msm personality that's been sold to them as some kind of "expert"?

[Apr 19, 2020] Neoliberalism as fraud

Apr 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Apr 19 2020 0:09 utc | 103

Another term for lies is Fraud. The case is made by numerous scholars from varying disciplines that the USA is a complete Fraud and has been that way since 1971 when Nixon put the USA onto a Fraud-based economy. At the time, no other nation was strong enough to call out the Fraud for what it was, and it was allowed to grow. Some nations saw how the Fraud could be used in their favor as ever more US-based corporations changed their business plans to become as fraudulent as their government. Mainstream educational institutions taught the fraud as if it were not and media followed along. Soon, there were no longer any weighty voices willing to call out the Fraud for what it was, and the financial crises caused by the Fraud were lamented yet more of the Fraud was touted as the cure-all for each crisis that ensued, including today's. Indeed, when closely examining post-WW2 Outlaw US Empire policy, it becomes very clear that it's completely based on Fraud--Lies--all in the service of a narrow mindset held by a small cabal of powerful people.

The Fraudulent charges made against China are just a continuation of the preceding Anti-Russian Fraud. And the Fraud will continue a la 1984 to oscillate between Russia, China and Iran, or in some combination. The Fraud will only cease when the people inhabiting the Outlaw US Empire cause it to stop, But I don't see that as likely anytime soon.

karlof1 , Apr 19 2020 0:53 utc | 111

103 Cont'd--

And of course the Fraud was mostly ignored by the regulatory agencies and courts except when it created a crisis as in 1987 and 1999. You know, I don't recall the Fed bailing out California after it was defrauded by ENRON. Some already know that living life within the Outlaw US Empire's a Fraud. Inslee called out Trump for his Fraud, but more governors needed to join him. There's an old Soviet joke--We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us. Global financial markets are all Fraudulent and ought to be closed. The fastest growing forms of entertainment--video games and porn--are also Fraud. And then there's Virtual Reality--the epitome of Fraud of the Rovian World where the Penultimate Fraud Pompeo offgasses daily.

Fortunately, there're enlightened people refusing to participate in the fraud any longer, some of very longstanding--Communities issuing their own economic script to keep wealth within their communities and people ensuring their public utilities remain public are but a few examples of people refusing to play the Fraudulent Game anymore. Small towns ought to become co-ops financially with their own public bank, as should big cities. Detach from the Money Power's tentacles and cease being its host, particularly as individuals. Cut up those credit (debt) cards and live within your means--you'll have more money to spend! And above all, be proactive and stand out by exposing the Fraud in your town--the Big Banks, Brokerage Houses, Big Box Stores, Sick Food Outlets, Politicos, and BigLie Media. Here's Hudson about the Fraud from an interview 1.5 years ago with an insight into what's now happening:

"So this is the same crisis that we were in then. It's never been fixed, and it can't be fixed until you get rid of the bad-debt problem. The bad debts require restructuring the way in which pensions are paid – to pay them out of current income, not financializing them. The economy has to be de-financialized, but I don't see that on the horizon for a while. That's s why I think that rather than a new crisis, there will be a slow shrinkage until there's a break in the chain of payments. Then they're going to call that the crisis .

"Hillary will say it's the Russians who did it, but it really is Obama who did it. The Democratic Party leadership is in the hands of Wall Street, and has not done anything to prevent the same dynamics that caused the crisis in 2008 and are still causing the economy to shrink." [My Emphasis]

The chain has busted wide open so there's a massive crisis and it's China that's to blame.

[Apr 19, 2020] The neoliberal elite is desperate, and when they get desperate they play dirty

Highly recommended!
This is especially true for the US elite...
Apr 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
Patroklos , Apr 18 2020 22:09 utc | 77
Dear b,

A valiant rearguard action but 'no basis in fact' is meaningless. The ruling class is desperate, and when they get desperate they play dirty. Meanwhile the Left dithers about with 'facts' and romantic notions like reality or truth as the referent for political decision-making.

I must admit this has always been my weak point as well: why doesn't reason prevail?

... ... ...

[Apr 17, 2020] The word socialism became just a neoliberal smear. We should talk about public sector vs private sector, not about socialism

Highly recommended!
Apr 17, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

migueljose , Apr 16 2020 14:13 utc | 150

The word socialism is meaningless. A government, by nature is socialistic. Again, following up on my sociopathy comment, it's on a spectrum. Some governments-- Sweden, Finland, Cuba-- do more, others-- Guatemala, Honduras, now Bolivia-- do less.

"Public sector" would be a more accurate term to describe what the particular government in question is using public funds. Tennessee, for example, will not put out your house fire if you have not paid your "fire tax". Most southeastern states have smaller public sectors than northern states.
Another issue: be honest. Military is public sector. Police, prisons... public sector. you a cop? your public sector. your money comes from the people. That's socialism. It makes no sense for right wingers to be against "socialism" and work for the public sector.

Bernie never defined "socialism" accurately which allowed DNC scum and republicans to tar him with that dirty word since we Americans are so addicted to Fox, CNN and MSNBC.

[Apr 15, 2020] While personal freedom is largely illusory, it seems to me that one has a contractual right to expect good parents, good teachers, good bosses and so forth. That's a legalistic constitutional right to exchange the individual's right to violence in exchange for protection

Apr 15, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Walter , Apr 15 2020 12:35 utc | 177

Personal freedom is largely illusory. One spends most of ones life under the control of others, parents, teachers, bosses, officers, cops, judges, jailers, or sleeping. I wonder if it's a "right" at all.

However, it seems to me that one has a contractual right to expect good parents, good teachers, good bosses and so forth. That's a legalistic constitutional right to exchange the individual's right to violence in exchange for protection. A contact. Individuals sometimes retain a fraction...the right to self-defense...but this is very limited, and dicey too.

And - especially - one, everyone, does have a natural right to demand Justice, fairness, and to be left alone. This is a Natural Right. It comes from the outside, from God, if you like. Dogs and horses, for example express themselves, and kick and bite and krap on your desk, if they're seriously mislead, (mistreated) Man also has the natural right.

So, Personal freedom seems to be an imprecise term, and seems to have at least two, probably several, manifestations.

[Apr 15, 2020] Personal freedom is not an unlimited right. Diana Johnstone has given a convincing argument for its limits. One's freedom and rights end where they infringe on the freedom and rights of others

Apr 15, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Personal freedom is not an unlimited right. Diana Johnstone has given a convincing argument for its limits. One's freedom and rights end where they infringe on the freedom and rights of others:

[V]irtually all key aspects of any civilized society go contrary to the absolutism of individual rights. Every civilized society has some sort of legal system, some basic rules that everyone is expected to follow. Most civilized societies have a public education and (except for the United States) a public health insurance system designed to benefit the whole population. These elements of civilization include constraints on individual freedom.

The benefits to each individual of living in a civilized society make these constraints acceptable to just about everybody. The health of the individual depends on the health of the community, which is why everyone in most Western countries accepts a single payer health insurance system. The only exception is the United States, where the egocentricities of Ayn Rand are widely read as serious thought.

It is without doubt that masks are helpful to limit the spreading of the epidemic. An infected person begins to spread viruses by breathing, talking, singing or coughing on day 2 after the infection. Only on day 5 or 6 will the symptoms of the disease set in. Some people will never feel symptoms but can still infect others usually up to day 10 after the infection.

Masks stop the viruses one sheds from reaching other persons. They do this effectively.

Posted by b on April 14, 2020 at 18:12 UTC | Permalink

[Apr 13, 2020] Predatory Publishing 2020

A definition for predatory publishing is problematic, as there is much overlap with legitimate but new or smallish publishers. She looked at necessary and sufficient conditions for a definition, but found that while deceit is necessary, sufficient conditions are vexing to try and capture.
PP cheat and deceive some authors charging publishing related fees without providing services; PP deceive academics into serving on editorial boards; PP appoint editorial board members without knowledge; no peer review; refuse to retract or withdraw problematic papers; etc.
Jan 09, 2020 | copy-shake-paste.blogspot.com
It's 2020 and I'm still bogged down, not finished with my notes from half a year ago on the ENAI conference. What can I say? Life and all....

So let's start the new year with a discussion on predatory publishers. Deborah Poff gave a keynote speech at the ENAI conference 2019 on the topic, and as COPE chair she has now published a discussion paper on the topic. There are a number of irritating points, as Elisabeth Bik points out in a Twitter thread, but on the whole this is a good paper to get this very important discussion going in the new year.

How can we tell whether or not a journal is legitimate or not? Legitimate in the sense that rigorous peer-review is not just stated, but actually done? We are in a current world situation in which certain groups attack science because it is informing us of uncomfortable truths. Predatory publishers offer a welcome point of attack, as the weaknesses of the "science" they publish are immediately assumed for all science. The "self-regulation" of science has been shown in recent years to not actually do the work it is supposed to do, despite the efforts of so many to point out issues that need attention.

Researchers need guidance about publication venues. Beall's list was taken down for legal reasons, but there is a web site that publishes an archived copy of the list that was taken on 15 January 2017. That was soon after the 2017 list was published.

There is a checklist available at thinkchecksubmit.org that is useful, but not a list of problematic publications, probably for legal reasons.

We can't keep putting out heads in the sand about the problems of academic misconduct. If we only look away, we let people get away with bad science, and that then reflects on us all. Posted by Debora Weber-Wulff at 10:52 AM

After lunch we had the Plenary session on
Predatory publishing and other challenges of new models to share knowledge
I was really looking forward to this session and it didn't disappoint!

Deborah C. Poff , the new COPE chair and a philosopher from Ottawa titled her talk "Complexities and approaches to predatory publishing"

She spoke at lightning speed, getting faster as time began running out. It could have been at least a two-hour lecture, so jam-packed it was with really good stuff. I could barely keep up, so I hope I get the highlights right.

A definition for predatory publishing is problematic, as there is much overlap with legitimate but new or smallish publishers. She looked at necessary and sufficient conditions for a definition, but found that while deceit is necessary, sufficient conditions are vexing to try and capture.

PP cheat and deceive some authors charging publishing related fees without providing services; PP deceive academics into serving on editorial boards; PP appoint editorial board members without knowledge; no peer review; refuse to retract or withdraw problematic papers; etc.

The list goes on: Misleading reporting, language issues, lack of ethical oversight, lack of declarations of conflicts of interest, lack of corrections or retractions, lack of qualified EiC (if any), made-up rejection rates, false impact factors, false claims of being indexed in legitimate indexes, falsely claiming membership in publication ethics organization including forgery and falsifying logos of such organization. COPE apparently had to fight a forged COPE logo.

What should we call them, anyway? Arguments against the term "predatory": It is not descriptive or instructive, so some suggest using fake, rouge, questionable, parasitic, deceptive, etc.; predatory suggests victims, powerless people who are acted upon without their full knowledge, while a number of studies have shown that some scholars knowingly publish in such journals; Calling the issue "predatory" obviates or mitigates the personal responsibility for choosing where to publish.

The best argument for using the term: Since Jeffrey Beall coined the term, why not use it?
COPE is undecided on what name is best.

I particularly liked Deborah's stakeholder analysis of who or what is harmed by these publishers:

[Apr 11, 2020] The country that glorifies profit at any cost and ruthless unethical competition will fare bad in case of any virus epidemic. That includes "Typhoid Mary" cases of selfish anti-social behaviour

Highly recommended!
Ideologically COVID-19 is another nail in the coffin of neoliberalism.
Apr 11, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
bevin , Apr 10 2020 23:06 utc | 92
Diane Johnstone gets it right:

"...Today, quite a number of alternative media commentators are ready to believe in the absolute power not of God but of Mammon, of the powers of Wall Street and its partners in politics, the media and the military. In this view, nothing major happens that hasn't been planned by earthly powers for their own selfish interest.

"Mammon is wrecking the economy so a few oligarchs will own everything. Or else Mammon created the hoax Coronavirus 19 in order to lock us all up and deprive us of what little is left of our freedom. Or finally Mammon is using a virus in order to have a pretext to vaccinate us all with secret substances and turn us all into zombies.

"Is this credible? In one sense, it is. We know that Mammon is unscrupulous, morally capable of all crimes. But things do happen that Mammon did not plan, such as earthquakes, floods and plagues. Dislike of our ruling class combined with dislike of being locked up leads to the equation: They are simply using this (fake) crisis in order to lock us up!

"But what for? To whom is there any advantage in locking down the population? For the pleasure of telling themselves, "Aha, we've got them where we want them, all stuck at home!" Is this intended to suppress popular revolt? What popular revolt? Why repress people who aren't doing anything that needs to be repressed?...

"What is the use of locking up a population – and I think especially of the United States – that is disunited, disorganized, profoundly confused by generations of ideological indoctrination telling them that their country is "the best" in every way, and thus unable to formulate coherent demands on a system that exploits them ruthlessly? Do you need to lock up your faithful Labrador so he won't bite you?...

"....Mammon is blinded by its own hubris, often stupid, incompetent, dumbed down by getting away with so much so easily. Take a look at Mike Pompeo or Mike Pence – are these all-powerful geniuses? No, they are semi-morons who have been able to crawl up a corrupt system contemptuous of truth, virtue or intelligence – like the rest of the gangsters in power in a system devoid of any ethical or intellectual standards.

"The power of creatures like that is merely the reflection of the abdication of social responsibility by whole populations whose disinterest in politics has allowed the scum to rise to the top.

The lockdown decreed by our Western governments reveals helplessness rather than power. They did not rush to lock us down. The lockdown is disastrous for the economy which is their prime concern. They hesitated and did so only when they had to do something and were ill-equipped to do anything else. They saw that China had done so with good results. But smart Asian governments did even more, deploying masks, tests and treatments Western governments did not possess..."

https://consortiumnews.com/2020/04/10/covid-19-coronavirus-and-civilization/

[Apr 10, 2020] The Cargo Cult segment of the 1963 documentary "Mondo Cane" can be viewed here (it is the last segment of the film)

Apr 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Really?? , Apr 9 2020 18:51 utc | 114

Stonebird @ 30

The Cargo Cult segment of the 1963 documentary "Mondo Cane" can be viewed here (it is the last segment of the film):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1xOTbgaLDs

[Apr 10, 2020] The New Normal: Cascading and Multilayered Crises by Vincent Emanuele

Apr 09, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

"The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear."

– Antonio Gramsci

The Pandemic & Public Health Crisis

On January 20th, 2020, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 infection took place in the United States. Since then, over 240,000 Americans have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, with over 6,000 dying as a result of the pandemic. The New York Times suggests that the actual numbers are likely 6-10 times higher than is being currently reported.

According to studies from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and those who smoke, are at high-risk of severe illness or death if they contract the virus. Unfortunately, that's a lot of Americans.

Several days ago, Dr. Anthony Fauci estimated that anywhere between 100,000-240,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by the end of August, and that's if "we do everything perfectly," as the good doctor put it. Since no one actually believes that the United States will conduct the response in a "perfect" manner, we can assume those numbers are low.

For the sake of discussion, let's assume they're correct. For some perspective, 116,708 Americans died in World War I (1914-1918). Roughly 416,800 Americans died in World War II (1941-1945). Over 40,000 Americans died in the Korean War (1950-1953). And 70,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War (1965-1975).

Perhaps we throw around large numbers too often, or maybe there's simply no way to humanize 240,000 lives -- regardless, we cannot allow the U.S. government to normalize gross numbers of fatalities, especially as a result of a completely preventable pandemic. Remember, this isn't a 'Natural Disaster' -- this is a 'Man Made Disaster,' and it should be treated as such. Yes, Trump is responsible, but he's not the only one. In fact, individuals aren't the problem. The entire Neoliberal Capitalist project is to blame.

Americans aren't unhealthy because they've made bad choices as individuals. Americans are disproportionately unhealthy (when compared to both industrialized and industrializing nations) and susceptible to the worst effects of COVID-19 because Neoliberal Capitalist policies have created a social, political, economic, and ecological context in which this pandemic can thrive and impose maximum destruction.

Deindustrialization, privatization, and deregulation, has driven down the cost of labor, creating millions of working-poor Americans who live on credit and swim in mounds of debt, while attempting to navigate a social landscape of food deserts, fast food chains, sugar-rich foods, and low-wage service sector work. This context creates a population of addicted, depressed, and desperate workers whose sole pleasure at the end of a long shift is a can of Coke and bag of potato chips.

People don't purposely make themselves obese and unhealthy. When people are put in desperate situations, they make impulsive decisions. That's how people behave in a context of scarcity and oppression. Unfortunately, this is exactly the social context in which COVID-19 could cause extreme and permanent damage.

The Political Crisis

The political context in the U.S. is equally disturbing. Since the 1970s, politicians have drifted further and further into the realm of absurdity and utter corruption. Gone are the days of enlightened debates. Enter the age of Trump, Tweets, and trolling.

As empires decline, so does the quality of their leaders. The U.S. might wish to run away from reality, but Uncle Sam can't run away from history. History has finally caught up with the U.S. Indeed, Donald Trump is the result of forty-plus years of hyper-individuality, 'greed is good' culture, superficial materialism, and a politics based not on substance or principles, but looks, marketability, and adherence to Neoliberal fundamentalist ideologies.

One of the few principled politicians in Washington D.C., Bernie Sanders, was raked over the coals by the corporate press for simply attempting to give Americans a basic social safety-net. That, for the Neoliberals, was too much. CNN and MSNBC unleashed the pundit hounds. The New York Times and Washington Post ran round-the-clock editorials about the "dangers" of Sanders' policies, his supposed "unelectability," and "radical" following, degrading the tens of millions of poor and working class people who largely see Bernie's campaign as their last electoral hope.

Now, Joe Biden is the frontrunner. As a result, virtually everyone I know and work with has checked out of the electoral scene. Most of my friends have already come to the conclusion that Trump will win again in 2020. Hell, his numbers continue to rise even in the midst of the deadliest pandemic in over a 100 years, a pandemic he could've prevented. Frustrating, but not surprising.

Most Americans have checked out of politics. It's not that they don't care. They just don't believe that participating will make a difference. Who could blame them, really? I'm 35 years old. The U.S. government hasn't implemented one major program that's benefitted me since the day I was born. Obamacare? Get real. Every major political institution in this country has rapidly deteriorated over the course of my life.

When I was 16, Bush II, with the help of his brother, stole the White House from Al Gore. No one really did anything about it, even Al Gore. That was 20 years ago. Since then, we've experienced 9/11, the Afghanistan War, the Iraq War, two terms of GWB, the 2008 Recession, Obama's bullshit 'Hope & Change,' which really meant 'More Of The Same,' the Tea Party, nationwide union busting efforts, the explosion of charter schools, Citizens United, corporate consolidation, financial deregulation, increasingly militarized policing, exploding prison populations, privatization of public goods and services, and elections that no one trusts because paper ballots are gone and billionaires own the electoral process. And yes, in 2016, the election of Donald Trump, the perfect ending to a 40 year nightmare.

Let's remember why Trump won in the first place. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton because Democrats stayed home. Bottom line. Democrats stayed home because they were betrayed by Obama, disgusted by Clinton, and upset about the entire 2016 primary process. As many others have pointed out, Trump is a symptom, not the disease. Here, we should be very clear: yes, Trump poses unique challenges and threats, but he is not the primary source of our collective problems. Our collective problems are structural, not individual, in nature.

Right now, the entire electoral-parliamentary process of representative democracy should be in question. Quite obviously, this particular mode of democratic participation has reached its limits. People are flat-out sick and tired of voting for politicians who answer to corporations. People are tired of the Democrat vs. Republican electoral carnival. Who could blame them? I'm tired of it. You're tired of it. We're all tired of it.

This is the toxic legacy of Reaganism, a bankrupt ideology that has destroyed the American political system, civic society, and popular culture. As a result, both major political parties have drifted so far to the right that people can barely tell the difference between the two. The Democratic Party is a walking corpse. And the Republican Party is full-blown batshit crazy. The Green Party doesn't really stand a chance, but I give them credit for trying to develop an alternative, however flawed it may be. After all, the Greens, not the Dems, came up with the 'Green New Deal.'

Large NGOs are moribund and, in many ways, counterproductive, even on their best days. Right now, the left contains no structural articulation of its politics beyond various regional organizations and radical local unions. In reality, most of 'the left' as we know it primarily exists in online forums and alternative media projects. The political situation is dire, no doubt.

The only way out of this mess is through deep organizing at the workplace and within communities. Tactically, this will take the form of massive strikes, street protests, targeted direct actions, and militant non-violent resistance. But people also need a vision and a strategy, and structures and institutions to carry out that vision and strategy. Right now, both are in short order. However, like all moments of immense historical crises, this context provides an opportunity to introduce radical alternatives, and hopefully, change course. If leftwing groups can't use this moment to radicalize and politicize people, shame on us.

The Crisis of Capitalism

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, despite what you might've heard on corporate news outlets, Global Capitalism was on the ropes. Liberal economists such as Paul Krugman and Dean Baker, but also leftwing economists such as Jack Rasmus, Doug Henwood, and Richard Wolff, among others, have been sounding the alarm bells for some time now. The pandemic ended up being the match that lit a combustible array of socio-economic ingredients, including wide-spread underemployment, entire legions of workers who've dropped out of the labor pool, millions living in poverty, millions more on the verge of poverty, stagnating wages, hundreds of thousands of Americans sleeping on the streets, tens of millions lacking health coverage, and the majority of Americans drowning in ever-growing debt.

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the hollowness and brutality of Global Capitalism. The most vulnerable will endure the brunt of this pandemic. They already have. Those who were barely surviving before this crisis will be lucky to survive the crisis. And so it goes.

The multitude of injustices and structural inequalities that existed before the pandemic will be exacerbated during a global health crisis and economic depression. The brutal legacies of colonization, imperialism, and neo-imperialism put the most vulnerable at risk and expose a system that's incapable of providing even the most basic necessities to those most in need. In fact, quite the opposite, as Wall Street receives trillions of dollars for wrecking the global economy, ordinary Americans will have to wait weeks for their measly $1,200 stimulus checks.

Unlike 2008, the free marketeers are nowhere to be found. During the Great Financial Recession, the market fundamentalists wanted the whole system to collapse. The financial press blamed the recession on overpaid auto workers and poor families, especially poor black families, who the corporate pundits insisted "bought homes they couldn't afford." That was the dominant narrative in 2008. The calls for austerity were swift and loud. This time around, not so much.

Today, millions of Americans identify as socialists, and Bernie Sanders' policies, flawed and inadequate as they may be, are supported by the majority of Democrats, many Independents, and even some Republicans. It's true that Bernie's policies aren't 'socialist' in the traditional sense, but they're socialistic in nature, and provide a welcome alternative to Neoliberal barbarism. Thanks to Occupy Wall Street and radical unions, today's context is much different. Americans are much further to the left than they were twelve years ago.

Ralph Nader has long described the U.S. economic system as "socialism for the rich, and rugged individualism for the rest of us." This is true. As Christian Parenti points out in a recent article in Jacobin , the financialization of the U.S. economy is already largely socialized, using public funds to prop-up private institutions, but with little to no social benefit for poor and working class people. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic shows us that the state is more important than ever before. Indeed, the Federal Government is the only entity powerful enough to reign-in capital. Ironically, as Parenti notes, only socialist policies can revive 21st Century Capitalism.

The state is also the only entity capable of dealing with a pandemic: providing healthcare supplies, financial resources, dealing with supply chain and logistical challenges, directing private sector production, etc. Here, we are witnessing in real-time the fundamental limits of private power and market fundamentalism within the context of a global healthcare crisis. Now is not the time to coddle capitalism -- now is the time to castrate capitalism. Unless the left has a strategy to bypass the state and provide the many services the state provides by alternative means, our approach to the ensuing economic depression must include an analysis of state power, how it relates to capital, and how leftwing organizations and movements relate to both.

Historian Alfred McCoy, in his recent book, In the Shadows of the American Century , notes that China will overtake the U.S. as the largest economy in the world by 2030, perhaps sooner (Trump & COVID-19 have helped). Then again, China faces its own internal dilemmas, including an increasingly affluent workforce that's very much interested in liberal democratic norms, and a growing number of repressed workers who are fighting back against China's unique brand of 'Authoritarian Capitalism.' Some of the same contradictions and questions can be applied to India, the world's 5th largest economy, authoritarian-religious nationalism, and hundreds of millions of precarious workers provide a potentially explosive political context.

Without question, capitalism will survive COVID-19. The unfolding COVID-19 pandemic and economic crises will alter the future of capitalism. The real question is: how can workers and ordinary people nudge things in a preferred direction, a path that leads to more collectivism and cooperation? How can we exploit the contradictions within the system? How can we ruthlessly expose the inherent limitations and internal contradictions of capital accumulation?

Most importantly, we must not exit this crisis with a more authoritarian version of capitalism. Giving the banks and multinational corporations more power is a death knell for the human species and much of the planet. Time is running out. The economic shocks will continue in frequency and severity. Now is the time for alternatives.

The Crisis of Militarism & Empire

Since 9/11, the U.S. has bombed seven nations: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen. U.S. troops remain in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya, with special forces operations taking place in Pakistan and Somalia. The ongoing war in Afghanistan is the longest war in U.S. history. And the U.S. continues to economically, logistically, politically, and militarily support the systematic repression and genocide of the Palestinian people vis a vi the brutal Israeli regime.

According to military historian, Nick Turse, U.S. forces conduct, on average, three combat or intelligence missions per day on the continent of Africa. Of course, Uncle Sam's growing footprint in Africa has gone virtually unreported in the corporate press. In October, 2017, when 9 U.S. troops were killed in the 'Tongo Tongo Ambush' in Niger, most Americans had no idea that U.S. troops were even stationed in Niger, let alone conducting combat missions. While it's true that U.S. Empire is in decline, it's also true that empires throughout history lash out during their final days, leaving a path of destruction in their wake.

As a result, the human cost of the post-9/11 'War on Terror' has been immense. Iraq: 300,000-1,000,000 dead. Syria: 400,000-600,000 dead. Afghanistan: 120,000 dead. Libya: 30,000 dead. Pakistan: 50,000 dead. Somalia: (unknown). Yemen: 100,000 dead. On the U.S. side, over 7,000 troops have lost their lives in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Pakistan, with more than double that number of private contractors dying in U.S.-led conflicts.

The Great Oil Wars of the early 21st Century have also caused the greatest refugee crisis since World War II, with more than 100,000 Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn country, and over 3 million Iraqis internally displaced. Tens of thousands have fled Libya. The same is true in Pakistan. Millions abroad live in abject poverty and suffer preventable diseases as a result of Uncle Sam's military adventures.

Veterans of course, also suffer from Uncle Sam's hubris, with over 10,000 having committed suicide since 9/11. On a personal note, I've lost more of the marines from my platoon than died during our unit's three combat deployments to Iraq.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said: "The bombs in Vietnam explode at home -- they destroy the dream and possibility for a decent America." The same is true today, as the United States spends what the next 15 nations spend combined on its military empire ($750 billion a year), a monstrosity and sign of deep societal decay. According to Brown University, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost U.S. taxpayers $5.9 trillion. With that money, the U.S. government could've paid off every Americans' credit card, student loan, and auto loan debt, and still had money left over.

As the U.S. spends trillions of dollars on weapons of war, hospitals run out of surgical masks and ventilators. A ventilator costs anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 -- a tomahawk missile costs $1.4 million.

Like every empire, the U.S. has drained its domestic resources to maintain its imperial hegemony, but that influence is waning with time. As the republic crumbles under the weight of its own internal contradictions, U.S. allies are distancing themselves, while Uncle Sam's foes are becoming increasingly empowered with each blunder and catastrophe that's unfolded since 9/11. As Chomsky points out, the U.S. has been in decline since World War II, the peak of Uncle Sam's imperial prowess.

Already, Trump is using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to ramp-up tensions with both Venezuela and Iran, two countries the U.S. has been politically, militarily, and economically terrorizing for decades. During the pandemic, U.S.-imposed sanctions in Iran have caused a disproportionate number of deaths due to lack of proper health equipment and medicine.

Fortunately, several European countries have broken the sanctions and delivered medical goods to the Iranian government. Also, as we speak, Trump has directed the U.S. Navy to move several U.S. Navy ships in close proximity to Venezuelan waters under the pretext of "curbing drug smuggling" -- no doubt a top priority during the worst pandemic since 1918.

History shows us that every empire eventually confronts the same choice: maintain military forces and watch the republic crumble from within, or de-escalate conflicts, demilitarize, and maintain some semblance of a functioning state. The Roman Empire chose the former. The British Empire chose the latter. The coming decade will determine which path Uncle Sam chooses. If the last 20 years are a window into the future, God help us all.

If we hope to survive the next pandemic, the U.S. government must redirect the resources it's currently spending on weapons of war, and instead invest in public healthcare infrastructure (hospitals, equipment, resources, nurses, personnel, EMTs), public education (medical schools, tuition free), housing (free and available to all), and research and development.

If we hope to survive the coming decades, the U.S. government must redirect its vast resources to mitigating climate change and ecological devastation.

The Climate & Ecological Crisis

The world has ten years to make radical changes to the global economy and its relation to fossil fuel production and consumption or the planet will be uninhabitable by the end of the century. Climate Change isn't the issue , it's the overarching context in which we now exist. Everything we do or don't do over the next ten years will determine whether or not future generations will inhabit a living planet, or a barren wasteland.

There is simply no way to downplay the urgency of our collective challenge. As author David Wallace-Wells' notes in his latest book, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming , "we could potentially avoid 150 million excess premature deaths by the end of century from air pollution (the equivalent of 25 Holocausts or twice the number of deaths from World War II) if we could limit average global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius." Right now, we're on track to hit 1.5 degrees Celsius by as early as 2030.

In the future, numbers will matter. The 100,000-240,000 Americans projected to die from COVID-19 will soon turn into numbers like 1,000,000-5,000,000. What we accept today, we'll be expected to accept tomorrow.

In some ways, we've already accepted mass death, but our relationship to the living world is so warped that these numbers don't seem to shake us. Species extinction rates are 100-1,000 times faster than they were, on average, during the evolutionary time-scale of planet Earth. More than 100 go extinct every single day.

Oceans have been destroyed by toxic materials, dumping, shipping, and large-scale industrial fishing. Coral reefs are dying. Warming temperatures mean less phytoplankton, which means less oxygen, which means more carbon dioxide. Some studies suggest that most of the large fish in the world's oceans will be gone by 2050. Deforestation continues at breakneck speeds, ravaging ecosystems and leaving nothing behind. Ice caps melt. Prairies destroyed for suburban developments. Mountains leveled for minerals. Lakes drained for bottled water. Rivers polluted for industry. Life murdered for profit.

The level of ecological disruption and destruction industrial society has unleashed on the living world is unparalleled. And time is running out.

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report, Global Warming of 1.5 degree Celsius , outlines our reality: if we wish to hold the line to 1.5 degrees, we have to cut emissions by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030. Then, we have to reach net-zero around 2050. That's to avoid the 250 million deaths Wallace-Wells mentioned. So far, none of that is happening. In fact, we're moving in the opposite direction as global emissions rise each year.

If we continue at current rates of emission, global temperature could rise by 7 degrees Celsius, and the number of human deaths from pollution could rise to 1-3 billion by 2100. That's not including deaths due to habitat loss, crop failure, lack of fresh water, lack of medical care, lack of housing, rising sea levels, lack of employment, addiction, suicide, unbearable temperatures, failing governments, collapsing economies, and everything that comes with those cascading crises: tribal war, banditry, barbarism, and eventually, genocide.

The Totality of Our Crisis

Without question, the stakes couldn't be higher. In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic depression is a dress rehearsal for the future. From here on out, each crisis will be more pronounced and severe than the last. The new normal is cascading and multilayered crises all playing out at the same time. How we collectively respond to this crisis will determine how we respond to the impending large-scale crises of the future, not the least of which being Climate Change. So far, we're failing miserably.

If the United States can't handle a small-scale pandemic and virus that's moderately deadly, though admittedly quite disruptive, how can we expect the government to cope with tens of millions of climate refugees fleeing their homes in the coming decades, while seeking housing, employment, and safety in cities and counties already strapped for resources?

If capitalists already are taking advantage of this pandemic, netting trillions of dollars from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury, while simultaneously jacking up the price of medical equipment and charging poor victims exorbitant amounts of money for health insurance, needed medicine, and hospital treatment, how can we expect them to behave in the context of rapid ecological collapse?

If the state is incapable of providing even menial assistance to poor and working class Americans during the worst pandemic in over 100 years, how can we expect the state to behave in the context of cascading and multilayered crises unfolding at a rapid pace over a short period of time, crises that will undoubtedly require massive state intervention in the economy?

Unfortunately, we know the answers to these questions, but only if most poor and working class people remain unorganized or unwilling to fight back.

Let's remember, all of this takes place within a context of many unnamed crises, many of which weren't mentioned in this essay. Some of those include gun culture/NRA (weapons sales are at all-time highs since the pandemic started), police militarism, the prison-industrial complex (already being used to manufacture surgical masks, while prisoners remain trapped in COVID-19 incubators), patriarchy (domestic violence calls have skyrocketed during the pandemic), homelessness (500,000 Americans can't 'stay at home'), systemic racism (already, statistics show that black people are disproportionately impacted by and suffering the worst effects of COVID-19), housing (Americans already spend a insane amounts of their income toward rent/mortgage payments -- those problems have only accelerated during the pandemic), childcare (cash-strapped families and single parents choosing between safety and work), and the list goes on, and on.

Every single aspect of our society is under extreme stress. Even the most passive populations can only take so much. Human beings can only take so much. The living world can only take so much. Eventually, things will explode.

The question is: how? Will poor and working class Americans turn that despair and cynicism into a righteous anger and rage? And if so, who will that anger and rage be directed toward? Each other? Or the powerful elites?

The current social context in the U.S. and across the globe is ripe for radical political change, but that change doesn't necessarily have to be progressive in nature. It could also be reactionary and fueled by religious extremism, xenophobia, racism, and tribalism. That's up to us. Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Vincent Emanuele

Vincent Emanuele writes for teleSUR English and lives in Michigan City, Indiana. He can be reached at vincent.emanuele333@gmail.com

[Apr 06, 2020] A sound banker, alas! is not one who foresees danger and avoids it, but one who, when he is ruined, is ruined in a conventional and orthodox way along with his fellows, so that no one can really blame him. ~Keynes

Highly recommended!
Apr 06, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

notabanktoadie , April 6, 2020 at 8:04 am

A sound banker, alas! is not one who foresees danger and avoids it, but one who, when he is ruined, is ruined in a conventional and orthodox way along with his fellows, so that no one can really blame him. Keynes via Yves

The problem is that the payment system, besides grubby coins and paper Central Bank notes (e.g. Federal Reserve Notes), must work through private depository institutions or not at all.

How then can we have a sound economy when it is held hostage by "sound" bankers?

And are not the banks a form of rentier – who rent the Nation its money supply?

Then where are the proposals of the MMT School to euthanize those rentiers?

[Apr 05, 2020] Capitalism is the legitimate racket of the ruling class. Al Capone

Apr 05, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Mao , Apr 6 2020 2:25 utc | 134

Al Capone Money Quote saying that being a capitalist is the legitimate racket of those in power – with laws to back it up. Al Capone said:

"Capitalism is the legitimate racket of the ruling class."

https://itsamoneything.com/money/wp-content/uploads/Al-Capone-Capitalism-Ruling-Class-Racket.jpg

[Apr 05, 2020] Hegemonic ideologies tend to naturalize socioculturally-generated pathologies, often dismissing them as "human nature."

Greed is good/ Of course it is, but not for everybody ;-)
Apr 05, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
susan , Apr 3 2020 3:18 utc | 192
Richard Steven Hack @101

Since two others have mentioned this, I'll thrown this out.

Hegemonic ideologies tend to naturalize socioculturally-generated pathologies, often dismissing them as "human nature."

I don't understand you to be necessarily doing this when you identify "human nature" with callous self-centeredness given your other writing (and generously shared links) but it does sound like you are using the term too loosely in your post for materialists and others to philosophically stomach. I am not the only one who objected to the usage upon reading.

Can "human nature" be identified, labeled, discussed separate from historical and material conditions? Is "human nature" not constituted via dialectical processes at multiple levels occurring through time and space, not least of all cultural which is shaped by socioeconomic conditions.

[Mar 28, 2020] Free market and wage arbitrage

Mar 28, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Kessler 11 hours ago

I'd add another consideration.

Let's say Bob can make 10 high-quality wigets per hour, while Jim can make 8 medium-quality wigets per hour. Bob gets paid 100$, while Jim gets paid 50$. Bob is more efficient and productive worker. But he will be fired and replaced by Jim, because Jim's cost of labor is lower. In this case market will eliminate the more productive worker in favor of a less productive one.

Now, within one nation this difference in wages will be very unlikely and quickly adjusted by the market. But between nations, Jim could be living in a poor country, where he can afford to survive on 50$, while Bob lives in a rich country with high rents and high product costs, so he'd barely get by on 100$.

So, how much of the global trade is increasing overall value due to local advantages and how much is just shifting value from some people in favor of others? And shouldn't we favor the first and minimize the second?

tz1 10 hours ago
We did test the antifragility.

Warnings like this have been happening over the past decade, and there are books (Poorly made in China) showing each part of the threat.

Each time, it was "Interview with a Zombie" with someone from NR, or Cato, or Mises, or even here, gurgling "Freeeeee Traaaade; Laaaazeeeee Faaaaire".

Trade has frictional costs. The shipping between the Ricardian tautological countries is not free. If it costs $10,000 to send the products to the destination, there is no comparitive advantage. Nature provides barriers.

But even worse, there is NO free trade, just regulatory arbitrage. Lets say you need to open a factory. You can:

1. Open it here and wait for the swarms of agents from OSHA, EEOC, EPA, IRS, etc. to harrass you and eat out your substance, and your workers to be treated like people, and have to get loans from an often hostile banking system that prefers wall street ETFs. An implacable bunch of socialists and SJWs that think Capitilists are evil and capitalism must be destroyed or just people on power trips will constantly try to close you down and bankrupt you personally and throw you in prison.

2. Open it in China where they will kick farmers off the land and build it for you, and staff it with disposable workers and you can just dump pollution into the local stream. There will be the customary cultural cronyism and corruption, but that's what a consultant is for (Poorly made in china, whats wrong with China). But it is the symbiont that wants to keep the host healthy so there will be the most blood to skim.

3. Open it in Mexico where it also has different customs than China, but the crony corruption is still far easier to deal with and less expensive than the Destroyer Obamabots.

john 7 hours ago
Capitalism is really good at optimizing for lowest cost, it is really bad at dealing with "externalities" like a once in a hundred year global pandemic. Governments should take the "long view" well at least 4-5 years at a time. Corporations look at things more quarter to quarter.
Jorge Morales Meoqui 3 hours ago
As Nassim Taleb in his book Antifragile, the two authors are making a straw men argument with regard to David Ricardo.

I don't blame them. They are repeating what is written in most economics textbooks about the theory of comparative advantage. How they should know that this textbook theory is based on a misinterpretation of Ricardo's famous numerical example. (See here: https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/...

Ricardo did not assume that prices would remain stable, nor did he recommended that a nation should specialise in one major industry or that no two agents should specialise in the same industry. Depending on a single supplier is indeed a risky bet, but that is not what their original case for free trade recommended. On the contrary, it was meant to be a remedy against national and foreign monopolies.

Many lessons can be learned from the present crisis. To make countries less vulnerable or fragile to pandemics like COVID-19, we need robust public health care systems that covers all its residents. The health care system needs to have excess capacities (hospital beds, medical personal, ) and sufficient stocks (masks, ventilators, ) to handle the significant increase in the number of patients during pandemics. We need more international cooperation, coordination and solidarity, not less. So the exact opposite of protectionism and national solo efforts.

[Mar 28, 2020] Neoliberal priorities: plenty of USG resources for Pentagon and to run pandemic war games but no money to create the most basic stockpiles (thermometers, face masks, gloves)

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... DONALD TRUMP: Nobody knew there'd be a pandemic or an epidemic of this proportion. ..."
"... Trump is like the kid who played video games when he should have been doing his homework, then failed miserably on the test and tried to bullshit his way through the essay questions. ..."
"... As you are probably aware, a handful of elected leaders were selling their stock while assuaging the public about the dangers of the pandemic. We've gone from incompetence, to negligence, to outright profiteering. ..."
Mar 21, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

Last year, the Dept. of Health and Human Services ran a 7 month long exercise code named "Crimson Contagion," a dry run response to a global pandemic which started in China and expected more than 100 million Americans to become ill.

The simulation highlighted several failures in our preparedness for such a catastrophe .

DONALD TRUMP: Nobody knew there'd be a pandemic or an epidemic of this proportion.

The New York Times broke this story yesterday, but as it's behind a paywall I won't link to it. But there's a good interview with one of the authors conducted by NPR.

Trump is like the kid who played video games when he should have been doing his homework, then failed miserably on the test and tried to bullshit his way through the essay questions.

As you are probably aware, a handful of elected leaders were selling their stock while assuaging the public about the dangers of the pandemic. We've gone from incompetence, to negligence, to outright profiteering.


QMS on Sat, 03/21/2020 - 11:05am
good point Marie

@Marie

dropping bombs and sanctioning free commerce in other countries is the American way of protecting the proceeds of the sociopaths
not such a good way to stop pandemics. Not in my name congress

Marie on Sat, 03/21/2020 - 11:57am
We do have a weird definition of national security.

@QMS
Fifty-six years dumping an untold number of dollars into "keeping us safe" from a foreign invader and the one time it happened, not any of the resources were worth a damn.

The problem isn't so much that the real threats are unknown, at least not in broad outline form, but they're not "sexy." Not amenable to what the military and cloak and dagger spy guys are into. And the perpetual USG budgets for the sexy stuff is far more profitable. And is better suited to hiding all the graft and corruption (and employing the surplus and unskilled labor that elite universities crank out) that upset ordinary people fearful that some undeserving person would get something for free from the USG.

Cant Stop the M... on Sat, 03/21/2020 - 3:52pm
Apparently medical supplies don't count as military

@Marie

supplies, either. Well, given how the govt likely views our soldiers, I guess that's not surprising.

pandemic war games but no money to implement the most basic stockpiles (thermometers, face masks, gloves) that would be very helpful in containing a virus. The larger serious shortcomings in the US are mostly intractable due to the "best" health care system that money can buy.

[Mar 28, 2020] Contrary to free-market catechism, the pursuit of profit frequently runs contrary to the public's well-being

Mar 28, 2020 | www.unz.com

obwandiyag , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 5:32 pm GMT

"Contrary to free-market catechism, the pursuit of profit frequently runs contrary to the public's well-being. This is especially true in an industry devoted to inventing and manufacturing health-giving and life-saving drugs."

https://jacobinmag.com/2020/3/gilead-orphan-drug-remdesivir-coronavirus

The free market is for chumps and the parasties who feed on them.

[Mar 28, 2020] On disappearance of certain drugs

Highly recommended!
Mar 28, 2020 | www.unz.com

obwandiyag , says: Show Comment March 26, 2020 at 9:03 pm GMT

They have every right to suppress cures and raise prices.

It's the free market. Don't you people get it?

Realist , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 11:51 am GMT
@obwandiyag

They have every right to suppress cures and raise prices.

It's the free market. Don't you people get it?

Sadly that's what the free market means to the wealthy and powerful.

Oracle , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 2:43 pm GMT
More activity on the dark, unethical side of capitalism. There's an entire history of it, opium wars, Atlantic slave trade, pornography, control of political agents through pedophilia. The list does go on and strangely enough it's usually the same actors.

[Mar 28, 2020] Just imagine the French hoity toity now not having to put up with the yellow vests in the streets. Must be such a comforting relief.

Mar 28, 2020 | www.unz.com

Old and Grumpy , says: Show Comment

[Mar 28, 2020] One common flavour of modern idiotism: I've heard doctors and pharmacists complain that patients will get offended when prescribed a cheaper, older drug. They want the best and newest, they need and deserve it!

Highly recommended!
Mar 28, 2020 | www.unz.com

Redneck farmer , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 10:09 am GMT

There is also a tendency to think newer=better. I've heard doctors and pharmacists complain that patients will get offended when prescribed a cheaper, older drug. They want the best and newest, they need and deserve it!
Jake , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 11:42 am GMT
@Redneck farmer That is because advertising works. Drug companies being allowed to advertise guaranteed that predators, such as the Sacklers, would want to own drug companies.
Oracle , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 2:43 pm GMT
More activity on the dark, unethical side of capitalism. There's an entire history of it, opium wars, Atlantic slave trade, pornography, control of political agents through pedophilia. The list does go on and strangely enough it's usually the same actors.

[Mar 27, 2020] We have to beg for hand sanitizer? It's almost like we are one of the nations under strct USA sanction

Mar 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Mar 26 2020 23:56 utc | 90

Just one of many important anecdotal observations :

"We have to beg for hand sanitizer? It's almost like we are one of the nations we sanction."

[Mar 27, 2020] Exactly when did behaviour of neoliberals become a bunch of out-takes from Catch-22?"

Mar 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , Mar 27 2020 1:17 utc | 98

johnbrewster@77
Here's a story from today's Toronto Star. It's a neoliberalism story and goes well with Pepe Escobar's piece in Asia Times (see above for link)
Basically the Province of Ontario stockpiled everything need for the pandemic that SARs warned them was bound to come.

Then, a couple of years ago, they destroyed the stockpiles including 55 million facemasks.

Now there are no face masks to be found and medical staff, inter alia, are having to take totally unnecessary risks.

Why did this happen? Because neo-liberalism is all about profits and fiscal austerity: as soon as the masks got beyond their 'best before' date they were destroyed - so the manufacturers could have another bite at the cherry and sell another 55 million masks. But then, austerity, the need to finance tax cuts for the wealthy, stepped in so the orders were not renewed. And people will die, horrible deaths, as a result.


https://www.thestar.com/opinion/star-columnists/2020/03/25/province-stockpiled-55-million-face-masks-then-destroyed-them.html

[Mar 27, 2020] Looks like the USA and the Soviet Union traded jerseys after the wall fell.

Mar 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

steve , Mar 26 2020 22:46 utc | 75

For me the USA and the Soviet Union traded jerseys after the wall fell. The USA took victory way to seriously.

[Mar 27, 2020] Larry Summers should have a drink named after him

Mar 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

uncle tungsten , Mar 26 2020 19:46 utc | 22

karlof1 #10

Larry Summers should have a drink named after him.
Ofshore double hoarder
Safebreaker with tonic
Gin and plunder scammer


Thanks b,I bought last roll of narrow elastic yesterday and will cut up some old silk shirts today.

[Mar 27, 2020] Trump's about as innocent in the coronavirus fiasco as jack the ripper

Mar 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Miss Lacy , Mar 26 2020 20:32 utc | 35

PS to vk # 1. Please think again. Trump has been in a trade war with China for what? a couple of years? AND, he specifically banned imports of medical supplies from China. Other posters wave supplied links for this idiocy.

Trump's about as innocent as jack the ripper. You may just be seeing things relatively, as ghouls like Elliot Abrahms and disgusting Pomposity make Trump seen like an amateur.

[Mar 26, 2020] Reflections on a Century of Junk Science

Highly recommended!
Mar 26, 2020 | www.unz.com

Kratoklastes , says: Show Comment Next New Comment March 25, 2020 at 6:16 pm GMT

@thotmonger

I also remember some of early estimates of Mad Cow disease in humans in UK and they turned out to be very exaggerated.

When the political class was trying to de-gay HIV/AIDS in 1987, they had Oprah tell everyone that 20% of heterosexual people would be dead before 1990.

The first I learned of Oprah's jaw-droppingly sensationalist remarks, was in a piece a couple of days ago on AmericanThinker (which sounds like a rare bird indeed, if not an outright oxymoron – but it has good stuff from time to time).

Anyhow, it was an interesting piece – entitled " Reflections on a Century of Junk Science " by the author of " Hoodwinked: How Intellectual Hucksters Have Hijacked American Culture ", which I will acquire today. (The book's 11 years old, but sounds like it will be along the same lines as Kendrick's " Doctoring Data: How to Sort Out Medical Advice from Medical Nonsense ", which was excellent).

[Mar 25, 2020] Goldman Gives CEO 20% Raise - While Forecasting Major Coronavirus-caused Financial Crash for Americans

Mar 25, 2020 | www.unz.com

Boiling frogss , says: Show Comment March 25, 2020 at 1:46 pm GMT

Goldman Gives CEO 20% Raise-

While Forecasting Major CoronaVirus-Caused Financial Crash for Americans

https://www.youtube.com/embed/MFinbvX0Jg0?feature=oembed

https://www.youtube.com/embed/IXatS9PeuCU?feature=oembed

[Mar 24, 2020] Welcome to Sweatshop Amerika! by Mike Whitney

Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

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← The Fed Reopens Its Landfill for Distre... Blogview Mike Whitney Archive Blogview Mike Whitney Archive Welcome to Sweatshop Amerika! The next bailout will be our last Mike Whitney March 22, 2020 1,400 Words 75 Comments Reply Listen ॥ ■ ► RSS

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Imagine if the congress approved a measure to form a public-private partnership between the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve. Can you imagine that?

Now imagine if a panicky and ill-informed Congress gave the Fed a blank check to bail out all of its crooked crony corporate and Wall Street friends, allowing the Fed to provide more than $4.5 trillion to underwater corporations that ripped off Mom and Pop investors by selling them bonds that were used to goose their stock prices so fatcat CEOs could make off like bandits. Imagine if all that red ink from private actors was piled onto the national debt pushing long-term interest rates into the stratosphere while crushing small businesses, households and ordinary working people.

Now try to imagine the impact this would have on the nation's future. Imagine if the Central Bank was given the green-light to devour the Treasury, control the country's "purse strings", and use nation's taxing authority to shore up its trillions in ultra-risky leveraged bets, its opaque financially-engineered ponzi-instruments, and its massive speculative debts that have gone pear-shaped leaving a gaping black hole on its balance sheet?

Well, you won't have to imagine this scenario for much longer, because the reality is nearly at hand. You see, the traitorous, dumbshit nincompoops in Congress are just a hairs-breadth away from abdicating congress's crucial power of the purse, which is not only their greatest strength, but also allows the congress to reign in abuses of executive power by controlling the flow of funding. The power of the purse is the supreme power of government which is why the founders entrusted it to the people's elected representatives in congress. Now these imbeciles are deciding whether to hand over that authority to a privately-owned banking cartel that has greatly expanded the chasm between rich and poor, incentivized destructive speculation on an industrial scale, and repeatedly inflated behemoth asset-price bubbles that have inevitably blown up sending stocks and the real economy into freefall. The idea of merging the Fed and the Treasury first appeared in its raw form in an article by former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen in the Financial Times. Here's a short excerpt from the piece:

"The Fed could ask Congress for the authority to buy limited amounts of investment-grade corporate debt The Fed's intervention could help restart that part of the corporate debt market, which is under significant stress. Such a programme would have to be carefully calibrated to minimize the credit risk taken by the Fed while still providing needed liquidity to an essential market." ( Financial Times )

The Fed is not allowed to buy corporate debt, because it is not within its mandate of "price stability and full employment". It's also not allowed to arbitrarily intervene in the markets to pick winners and losers, nor is it allowed to bailout poorly-managed crybaby corporations who were gaming the system to their own advantage when the whole deal blew up in their faces. That's their problem, not the Fed's and not the American taxpayer's.

But notice how Bernanke emphasizes how "Such a programme would have to be carefully calibrated to minimize the credit risk taken by the Fed". Why do you think he said that?

He said it because he anticipates an arrangement where the new Treasury-Fed combo could buy up to "$4.5 trillion of corporate debt" (according to Marketwatch and BofA). And the way this will work, is the Fed will select the bonds that will be purchased and the credit risk will be heaped onto the US Treasury. Apparently Bernanke and Yellen think this is a "fair" arrangement, but others might differ on that point.

Keep in mind, that in the last week alone, investors pulled a record $107 billion out of corporate bonds which is a market which has been in a deep-freeze for nearly a month. The only activity is the steady surge of redemptions by frantic investors who want to get their money back before the listing ship heads for Davey Jones locker. This is the market that Bernanke wants the American people to bail out mainly because he doesn't want to submerge the Fed's balance sheet in red ink. He wants to find a sucker who will take the loss instead. That's where Uncle Sam comes in, he's the target of this subterfuge. This same theme pops up in a piece in the Wall Street Journal. Check it out:

"At least Treasury has come around to realizing it needs a facility to provide liquidity for companies. But as we write this, Mr. Mnuchin was still insisting that Treasury have control of most of the money to be able to ladle out directly to companies it wants to help. This is a recipe for picking winners and losers, and thus for bitter political fights and months of ugly headlines charging favoritism. The far better answer is for Treasury to use money from Congress to replenish the Exchange Stabilization Fund to back the Fed in creating a facility or special-purpose vehicles under Section 13(3) to lend the money to all comers. "( "Leaderless on the Econom" , Wall Street Journal)

I can hardly believe the author is bold enough to say this right to our faces. Read it carefully: They are saying "We want your money, but not your advice. The Fed will choose who gets the cash and who doesn't. Just put your trillions on the counter and get the hell out."

Isn't that what they're saying? Of course it is. And the rest of the article is even more arrogant:

"The Fed can charge a non-concessionary rate, but the vehicles should be open to those who think they need the money, not merely to those Treasury decides are worthy." (Huh? So the Treasury should have no say so in who gets taxpayer money??) The looming liquidity crisis is simply too great for that kind of bureaucratic, politicized decision-making. (Wall Street Journal)

Get it? In other words, the folks at Treasury are just too stupid or too prejudiced to understand the subtleties of a bigass bailout like this. Is that arrogance or what?

This is the contempt these people have for you and me and everyone else who isn't a part of their elitist gaggle of reprobates. Here's a clip from another article at the WSJ that helps to show how the financial media is pushing this gigantic handout to corporate America:.

"The Federal Reserve, Treasury Department and banking regulators deserve congratulations for their bold, necessary actions to provide liquidity to the U.S. financial system amid the coronavirus crisis. But more remains to be done. We thus recommend: (1) immediate congressional action . to authorize the Treasury to use the Exchange Stabilization Fund to guarantee prime money-market funds, (2) regulatory action to effect temporary reductions in bank capital and liquidity requirements (NOTE–So now the banks don't need to hold capital against their loans?) .. additional Fed lending to banks and nonbanks .(Note -by "nonbanks", does the author mean underwater hedge funds?)

We recommend that the Fed take further actions as lender of last resort. First, it should re-establish the Term Auction Facility, used in the 2008 crisis, allowing depository institutions to borrow against a broad range of collateral at an auction price (Note–They want to drop the requirement for good Triple A collateral.) Second, it should consider further exercising its Section 13(3) authority to provide additional liquidity to nonbanks, potentially including purchases of corporate debt through a special-purpose vehicle" ( "Do More to Avert a Liquidity Crisis" , Wall Street Journal )

This isn't a bailout, it's a joke, and there's no way Congress should approve these measures, particularly the merging of the US Treasury with the cutthroat Fed. That's a prescription for disaster! The Fed needs to be abolished not embraced as a state institution. It's madness!

And look how the author wants to set up an special-purpose vehicle (SPV) so the accounting chicanery can be kept off the books which means the public won't know how much money is being flushed down the toilet trying to resuscitate these insolvent corporations whose executives are still living high on the hog on the money they stole from credulous investors. This whole scam stinks to high heaven!

Meanwhile America's working people will get a whopping $1,000 bucks to tide them over until the debts pile up to the rafters and they're forced to rob the neighborhood 7-11 to feed the kids. How fair is that?

And don't kid yourself: This isn't a bailout, it's the elitist's political agenda aimed at creating a permanent underclass who'll work for peanuts just to eek out a living.

Welcome to Sweatshop Amerika!


anachronism , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 5:03 am GMT

In 2008-2009, the Federal Reserve bailed out the global banking system to the tune of $16 Trillion. But American citizens were left to pay usurious rates of interest on $1 Trillion of credit card debt. And American students had lost years of economic opportunity but their $1 Trillion dollars of debt could not be discharged through bankruptcy.

This time the banks should stand behind the debtors at the government troth.

anachronism , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 5:06 am GMT
It's hard to understand how holiday cruise shipping can be regarded as an essential business.

It is almost as hard to understand why a "Globalist Enterprise" should be spared its fate through the generosity of of one country. Even harder to understand, why would that one country should bail out a business, which had employed both tax-avoidance schemes as well as strategy import substitution and foreign investment to improve its profits at the expense of that country.

Nationalism is better that globalism. The current crisis was not caused by globalism; but globalism has drained from our country the means to respond to the crisis with the medicines and equipment that would reduce its severity.

Not a single cent of government aid should go toward a person or an entity outside the United States and it territories. Conditions should be placed upon such aid, so that the companies receiving it, must domesticate their supply chains, and must produce and develop their products within the United States.

Kim , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 5:38 am GMT
@anachronism Make the universities discharge the student debt. It was their scam all along. They can begin by retrenching their schools of the humanities and at least halving their administrative staff. And end building and sports programs. The fat hangs heavy on that particular pig.
anachronism , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 7:19 am GMT
@Kim I agree with you up to a point.

The student and the university should share responsibility equally. In the future, the institution should be made a co-signor on any student loan; and the obligation to repay the loan should be joint and several for both the institution and the student.

Bankruptcy provides the ex-student with the chance to start over and to escape the burden; but not without consequences. This will discourage the ex-student, who is doing well financially and has the means to service the debt, from just walking away.

[Mar 23, 2020] Looks like the virus further damage neoliberalism

Mar 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

snake , Mar 22 2020 19:39 utc | 60

The idea advanced on the last thread [by Vk and here @7 and 39 I think] that governments should be organized around something different than economics is sound and worthy of everyone's input, ideas and objections; discussion is needed and welcome.

International human to human discussion should take place. Human experience with nation state globalism has shown just how vulnerable humanity is to organized and institutionalized corruption; the actions of the leaders of individual nations have shown the nation state system cannot be trusted.

The Covid 19 pandemic has reminded us all that we as humans <= have a right to a government that is of our collective liking, we have learned that governments must serve the best interest of the most persons, not special interest of a few. Governments which fail to serve equal right, open access and equal chance to those it governs are prima facia legitimates. Covid 19 brought the meaning of the principle of self-determination to the forefront. Everyone's life is challenged by submicroscopic beast. It takes the cooperation of all of us, to save most of us, and it takes the corruption of a few, to ruin it all, for most of us.

Human rights come first, long before economics . No economic rationale can support the delay or justify the cost of failure for those entrusted with the power to act, should they fail to timely act with diligence on threat that human lives are in danger. Experience suggest it is not possible to leave the power, function, and direction of government to those whose responsibility it is to operate it <= something very different is needed.

Covid 19 was a wake up call , that makes real the unfulfilled and failed campaign promises in a never ending trail of campaigns. Its time for everyone to insist on truth, truth in media, truth in political campaigns, open book truth from those appointed to government, and to bring everyone's troops home. Its time for nation states to stop supporting the private oil and gas bandits, the MSM, or any other special interest, its time to make a single global currency that bears no interest and that does not require repayment of principal, its time for governments to stop arming belligerents, their own or those of anyone else (gun control should be transformed into between governments, weapons control and the persons of all humans everywhere should be equally armed), its time to stop one nation instigating or supporting regime change in another, and its time to deny government leaders from using the governments they lead, to enable private or corrupt profits. Every human has a right to life, liberty and to pursuit of happiness: <=governments were instituted to secure to mankind the enjoyment of the privilege of those rights; but it seems mankind has been lax in making these governments conform to their privilege of existence.

A $0 military budget, and no interest, no repay currency could bring the credit needed to create multi many places of employment, AWA fix ailing infra structures, improve access to, even make access globally universal. It could improve the quality of education and open to everyone<= fair play, access to capital (instead of venture capital expecting reward of profit, how about advances of capital in search of human progress). which could enable real progress on earth for mankind.

Its time to eliminate the dependency on, or even the existence of those monopolies nation states like to create out of thin air by using their power to invent by rule of law, powers that restrain true competition (license, privatized government ownership, special authority, patents, copyrights, and the private property ownership).

It time to stop over hyped , Wall Street multi global type greed which only exist because currency is used as control devise, instead of a facilitator. Nation states should facilitate humans to interact, in ways transparent to the nation state boundaries (Its economics, that encourages non sharing attitudes, that cause competitors to seek ways to use governments to restrain human inter action). Humans should try to replace foreign products with locally made goods and the foreign goods producers should be encouraged to make goods in places where the goods have a demand because demand produces jobs and provides opportunity, globalism organized to produce economic gains, often attempt to steal from locals the benefits of demand created by the locals. The local province rule should apply: that is if locals want to make it, multinationals should be denied. The billions saved to the global economy in unexpended energy consumption (no transport cost), could bring prices of goods and services to comparative advantage adjusted market price levels. I predict, the poor would prosper because they would have an opportunity to contribute to our global human society, and government would be re instituted to encourage and enforce equality for all to those it governs. Governments should restrain and deny wealth, but they should encourage and facilitate local competition. At one time people elected their representatives based on performance in accord to those ideals. Currency that carries no interest and that never needs to be repaid, challenges economic induced greed and redirects the efforts of mankind to providing that which is needed.

In 1949 the income tax in USA governed America was layered into tiers (where different tax rates were applied); the USA taxed those who made big bucks at 90% in its highest tier .. Seem to recall Briton had something similar [100% of everything over $150,000 pounds of taxable Income?]. From here => http://www.milefoot.com/math/businessmath/taxes/fit.htm <=i made a table
year rate@personal taxable income level
1941 81% @$5,000,000
1942-1943 88% @$200,000
1944-1945 94% @$200,000 The tax limited to a 90% effective rate.
1946-1947 91% @$200,000 The tax limited to a 90% effective rate (85.5% >credits).
1948-1951 91% @$400,000 The tax limited to a 77% effective rate in 1948-1949, .
1952-1953 92% @$400,000 The tax was limited to an 88% effective rate.

corporate rate from http://www.milefoot.com/math/businessmath/taxes/fit.htm I made a small table.
1942- 1945 40% > $50,000
1946- 1949 38% > $50,000
1950 42% > $25,000
1951 50.75% > $25,000
1952- 1963 52% > $25,000
1964 52% > $25,000
1965- 1967 48% > $25,000
1968- 1969 52.8% > $25,000

These numbers suggest a long winded story of useless corruption.

[Mar 23, 2020] If you'd ever tried to set up a business here in the UK, you'd realise pretty quickly that you are under complete and utter control of the government in every aspect

Mar 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

TJ , Mar 22 2020 20:57 utc | 74

@1 vk

If you'd ever tried to set up a business here in the UK, you'd realise pretty quickly that you are under complete and utter control of the government in every aspect and they own your business by dint of the taxes and the loans you have to take out from their banker friends, we have soft communism because the government owns you but pretends not to. Magna Carta is dead and it's only possible resuscitation would be a Runnymede 2 Electric Boogaloo.

[Mar 22, 2020] Opinion - A Tale of Two Foreign Policies The Train-Wreck Abroad Is Bipartisan by Philip Giraldi

Notable quotes:
"... It is widely believed that the abrupt withdrawal of candidates Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg on the eve of Super Tuesday that targeted Sanders was arranged through an intervention by ex-President Barack Obama who made a plea in support of "party unity," offering the two a significant quid pro quo down the road if they were willing to leave the race and throw their support to Biden, which they dutifully did ..."
"... Trump might be described as both paranoid and narcissistic, meaning that he sees himself as surrounded by enemies and that the enemies are out to get him personally. When he is criticized, he either ridicules the source or does something impulsive to deflect what is being said. He attacked Syria twice based on false claims about the use of chemical weapons when a consensus developed in the media and in congress that he was being "weak" in the Middle East. Those attacks were war crimes as Syria was not threatening the United States. ..."
"... Biden is on a different track in that he is an establishment hawk. As head of the Senate Foreign Affairs committee back in 2002-2003 he green lighted George W. Bush's plan to attack Iraq. Beyond that, he cheer-leaded the effort from the Democratic Party benches, helping to create a consensus both in Washington and in the media that Saddam Hussein was a threat that had to be dealt with. He should have known better as he was privy to intelligence that was suggesting that the Iraqis were no threat at all. He did not moderate his tune on Iraq until after 2005, when the expected slam-dunk quick victory got very messy. ..."
"... Biden was also certainly privy to the decision making by President Barack Obama, which include the destruction of Libya and the killing of American citizens by drone. Whether he actively supported those policies is unknown, but he has never been challenged on them. What is clear is that he did not object to them, another sign of his willingness to go along with the establishment, a tendency which will undoubtedly continue if he is elected president. ..."
Mar 22, 2020 | www.informationclearinghouse.info

Now that the Democratic Party has apparently succeeded in getting rid of the only two voices among its presidential candidates that actually deviated from the establishment consensus, it appears that Joe Biden will be running against Donald Trump in November. To be sure, Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard are still hanging on, but the fix was in and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) made sure that Sanders would be given the death blow on Super Tuesday while Gabbard would be blocked from participating in any of the late term debates.

It is widely believed that the abrupt withdrawal of candidates Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg on the eve of Super Tuesday that targeted Sanders was arranged through an intervention by ex-President Barack Obama who made a plea in support of "party unity," offering the two a significant quid pro quo down the road if they were willing to leave the race and throw their support to Biden, which they dutifully did. Rumor has it that Klobuchar might well wind up as Biden's vice president. An alternative tale is that it was a much more threatening "offer that couldn't be refused" coming from the Clintons.

... ... ...

Both Trump and Biden might reasonably described as Zionists, Trump by virtue of the made-in-Israel foreign policy positions he has delivered on since his election, and Biden by word and deed during his entire time in politics. When Biden encountered Sarah Palin in 2008 in the vice-presidential debate, he and Palin sought to outdo each other in enthusing over how much they love the Jewish state. Biden has said that "I am a Zionist. You don't have to be a Jew to be a Zionist" and also, ridiculously, "Were there not an Israel, the U.S. would have to invent one. We will never abandon Israel -- out of our own self-interest. [It] is the best $3 billion investment we make." Biden has been a regular feature speaker at the annual AIPAC summit in Washington.

Trump might be described as both paranoid and narcissistic, meaning that he sees himself as surrounded by enemies and that the enemies are out to get him personally. When he is criticized, he either ridicules the source or does something impulsive to deflect what is being said. He attacked Syria twice based on false claims about the use of chemical weapons when a consensus developed in the media and in congress that he was being "weak" in the Middle East. Those attacks were war crimes as Syria was not threatening the United States.

Trump similarly reversed himself on withdrawing from Syria when he ran into criticism of the move and his plan to extricate the United States from Afghanistan, if it develops at all, could easily be subjected to similar revision. Trump is not really the man who as a candidate indicated that he was seriously looking for a way out of America's endless and pointless wars, no matter what his supporters continue to assert.

Biden is on a different track in that he is an establishment hawk. As head of the Senate Foreign Affairs committee back in 2002-2003 he green lighted George W. Bush's plan to attack Iraq. Beyond that, he cheer-leaded the effort from the Democratic Party benches, helping to create a consensus both in Washington and in the media that Saddam Hussein was a threat that had to be dealt with. He should have known better as he was privy to intelligence that was suggesting that the Iraqis were no threat at all. He did not moderate his tune on Iraq until after 2005, when the expected slam-dunk quick victory got very messy.

Biden was also certainly privy to the decision making by President Barack Obama, which include the destruction of Libya and the killing of American citizens by drone. Whether he actively supported those policies is unknown, but he has never been challenged on them. What is clear is that he did not object to them, another sign of his willingness to go along with the establishment, a tendency which will undoubtedly continue if he is elected president.

And Biden's foreign policy reminiscences are is subject to what appear to be memory losses or inability to articulate, illustrated by a whole series of faux pas during the campaign. He has a number of times told a tale of his heroism in Afghanistan that is complete fiction , similar to Hillary Clinton's lying claims of courage under fire in Bosnia.

So, we have a president in place who takes foreign policy personally in that his first thoughts are "how does it make me look?" and a prospective challenger who appears to be suffering from initial stages of dementia and who has always been relied upon to support the establishment line, whatever it might be. Though Trump is the more dangerous of the two as he is both unpredictable and irrational, the likelihood is that Biden will be guided by the Clintons and Obamas. To put it another way, no matter who is president the likelihood that the United States will change direction to get away from its interventionism and bullying on a global scale is virtually nonexistent. At least until the money runs out. Or to express it as a friend of mine does, "No matter who is elected we Americans wind up getting John McCain." Goodnight America!

Philip Giraldi Ph.D., Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest. A former CIA Case Officer and Army Intelligence Officer who spent twenty years overseas in Europe and the Middle East working terrorism cases. He holds a BA with honors from the University of Chicago and an MA and PhD in Modern History from the University of London. " Source "

[Mar 22, 2020] Opinion - Neoliberalism's Death Knell

Mar 22, 2020 | www.informationclearinghouse.info

In the latest It's Our Money podcast , PBI Chair Ellen Brown and co-host Walt McRee speak with renowned economist Michael Hudson, member of the Public Banking Institute Advisory Board. Walt introduces the episode:

The global economic devastation produced by market-driven profiteering has resulted in distressed and deprived citizens taking to the streets by the hundreds of thousands in cities around the globe and continues its destructive exploitation of our planet's resources. The culprit is an aging "neo-liberal" economic system which produces historic social inequality while consolidating power in the hands of a few. Our guest, renowned economist Michael Hudson, says this system is more neo-feudal than neo-liberal – and that its inherent excesses are on the verge of bringing it down . Ellen reports that one example of its demise may be in Mexico where its new president is creating new public banks to help address some of its neo-liberal market inequities. - [ Listen to the podcast ]

Michael Hudson: [00:00:00] There's recognition that commercial banking has become dysfunctional and that most loans by commercial banks are either against assets – in which case the lending inflates the prices of real estate, stocks and bonds – or for corporate takeover loans.
The economy's low-income brackets have not been helped by today's financial system. Here in New York City, red lining and a visceral class hatred by high finance toward the poor characterized the major banks. From the very top to the bottom, they were very clear they were not going to lend to places with racial minorities like the Lower East Side. The Chase Manhattan Bank told me that the reason was explicitly ethnic, and they didn't want to deal with poor people.

A lot of people in these neighborhoods used to have savings banks. There were 135 mutual savings banks in New York City with names like the Bowery Savings Banks, the Dime Savings Bank, the Immigrant Savings Bank. As their names show, they were specifically to serve the low-income neighborhoods. But in the 1980s the commercial banks convinced the mutual savings banks to let themselves be raided. Their capital reserves of the savings banks, was just looted by Wall Street. The depositors' equity was stripped away (leaving their deposits, to be sure). Sheila Bair, former head of the FDIC, told me that the commercial banks' cover story was that they were large enough to provide more capital reserves to lend for low-income neighborhoods. The reality was that instead, they simply extracted revenue from these neighborhoods. Large parts of the largest cities in America, from Chicago and New York to others, are underbanked because of the transformation of commercial banks from providers of mortgages to emptiers-out, just revenue collectors. That leaves the main recourse in these neighborhoods to pay-day lenders at usurious interest rates. These lenders have become major new customers for Wall Street bankers, not the poor who have no comparable access to credit.

Apart from the savings banks, of course, you had the post office banks. When I went to work on Wall Street in the 1960s, 3 percent of U.S. savings were in the form of post office savings. The advantage, of course, is that post offices were in every neighborhood. So you actually had either a local community banking like savings banks – not like today's community banks, which are commercial banks, lending largely to real estate speculators to capitalize rental apartments into heavily mortgaged co-ops with much higher financial carrying charges – or you had post offices. You now have a deprivation of basic bank services in much of the economy, combined with an increasingly dysfunctional and predatory commercial banking system.

The question is, what's going to happen next time there's a bank crash? Sheila Bair wrote about after the 2008 crash that the most corrupt bank was Citibank – not only corrupt, but incompetent. She had wanted to take it over. But Obama and his Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, acted as lobbyists for Citibank from the beginning, protecting it from being taken over. But imagine what would have happened if Citibank would have been become a public bank – or other banks that are about to have negative equity if there is a downturn in the stock and bond and real estate market. Imagine what will happen if they were turned into public banks. They would be able to provide the kind of credit that the commercial banking system has refused to provide – credit to blacks, Hispanics and poor people that have just been red-lined in what is becoming a financially polarized dual economy, one for the wealthy and one for everyone else.

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Walt McRee: [00:04:10] Well, power in that realm, of course, lies with the banking cartel. They look at public banks as a threat. They hate competition of any sort, it seems.

Michael Hudson: [00:04:18] Of course it is a threat.

Walt McRee: [00:04:22] And even when we say, Michael, that we're not going after the business you're already doing because you aren't lending to small, medium enterprises and so forth – we want to take on the infrastructure that you don't want to fund, but they still are pushing back. How will we be able to get past that?

Michael Hudson: [00:04:40] I think you should say that of course you're not going to take business away from them, because the public community bank or government-owned bank would not make corporate takeover loans or speculative derivative bets. It would not create the dysfunctional credit and debt overhead that has been expanding ever since 1999 when the Clinton administration changed the banking rules.
The problem is that the big commercial banks don't want the productive kind of loans that public banking would make. For instance, the reason they didn't want to extend credit to the Lower East Side or the Hudson Yards west side of New York was they wanted to sort of drive out their residents and gentrify it, by providing the money to the big developers who socially bulldoze these neighborhoods. Their policy is to kick out as many low-income renters or owners as they can, and replace them by raising rents from like $50 a month to $5,000 a month. That's what's happened on the Lower East Side from the time I first lived there to what rents are today.
There is a fight of the economy's unproductive sector against people who want to use credit in a productive way that actually helps the economy. I think it's a fight between good and evil, at least between the productive and unproductive economy, between economics for the people and economics for the One Percent.

Ellen Brown: [00:06:14] I wonder, though, if the Fed is going to even allow the banks to collapse again, with what they just did with the repo market. They can step in at any time to save anybody. I don't know that Congress, even has a say in it. What do you think?

Michael Hudson: [00:06:30] I think that's right. I've talked to Paul Craig Roberts and we discuss whether they can just keep on keeping these zombie banks alive. Can they keep the over-indebted zombie economy alive by the Federal Reserve manipulating the forward stock and bond markets to support prices? It doesn't actually have to buy stocks and bonds beyond the $4 trillion it's already put into Quantitative Easing. It can simply make manipulate the forward market. That doesn't really cost any money until the big crash comes. So I think one should have a discussion over what President Trump says is a boom that that he's created, with the stock market going up. Does that mean that the economy is getting richer? Are we fine with commercial banking the way it is, so that we don't need public banking?

I think you have to expose the fact that what's happened is artificial state intervention. What we have in the name of free market support of the banks is not a free market at all. It's a highly centralized market to support the predatory financial sector's wealth against the rest of the economy. The financial sector's wealth takes the form of credit to the rest of the economy, extracting interest and amortization, while making loans simply to increase asset prices for real estate and financial securities, not put new means of production in place to employ labor. So you have to go beyond the public banking issue as such, and look at the political context. Ultimately, the way that you defend public banking is to show how the economy works and how public banking could play a positive role in the economy as it should work.

Ellen Brown: [00:08:14] Can you explain what you meant by forward lending? I mean, they don't have to

Michael Hudson: [00:08:19] It's not forward lending, it's buying long. For the stock market's Dow Jones average, they'll contract to buy all its stocks or those in the S&P 500 in one month, or one week or whatever the timeframe is, for X amount – say, 2% over what they're selling today. Well, once the plunge protection team issues a guarantee to buy, the market is going to raise the bid prices for these stocks up to what the Fed and the Treasury have promised to pay for them. By the time the prices go up, the Fed doesn't actually have to buy these stocks, because everybody's anticipated that the Fed would buy them at this 2 percent gain. So it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. We're dealing with a government run by the banks and the creditor powers to artificially raise asset prices, on credit. This has kept alive a system that represents itself as creating prosperity. But it's not creating prosperity for the 99 Percent. Public banking would aim at prosperity for the 99 Percent, not just for the One Percent.

Ellen Brown: [00:09:46] I'm writing about Mexico's AMLO, who is now who has just announced in January that he will be building 2,700 branches of a public bank in the next two years. He's expecting 13,000 branches ultimately, so it will be the largest bank in the country. His reasoning is just what you're saying, that the banks have failed and have not serviced the poor. His mandate is to help the poor, and he can't do that if they don't have banking services.

Michael Hudson: [00:10:17] Is that national?

Ellen Brown: [00:10:18] Yes, all across the country.

Walt McRee: [00:10:22] "Loprabrador", AMLO. So we know that a public monetary source is a public utility. Our vision is to create a network of local and state public banks. That leads us to the view that what we really need to be targeting is the Federal Reserve, to ultimately turn it into a publicly-owned entity. Is that folly or

Michael Hudson: [00:10:55] I think the way to get people to support this is if they understand how the Federal Reserve was created. A few years ago I published an article in an Indian economic journal (I think it's on my website), about how the Federal Reserve was created. There was a fight by Wall Street led by J.P. Morgan. America had a central bank until 1913 – the Treasury. Until 1913 the Treasury was doing everything that the Federal Reserve began to do. The idea of creating the Federal Reserve was to take power away from the Treasury. The Treasury wasn't even allowed to be on the board as an owner of Federal Reserve stock. The idea was to take decision-making away from Washington, away from democratic politics, and insulate the financial system from the democratic political system by turning control over to the corporate financial centers -- Wall Street, Chicago, and the other Federal Reserve districts. They were the same districts as those that the Treasury already had divided the country into. Remember, these were the decades leading up to World War I when there was a social democratic revolution from Europe to the United States. A guiding idea was to democratize banking.

Wall Street very quickly developed a counter strategy to this. And the counter strategy was the Federal Reserve. You're welcome to republish my article on your site. You and I both aim to reverse the counterrevolution mounted against classical economics and social democracy. The entity you're talking about would probably be under the aegis of the Treasury. You'd be putting the economy back in the direction that the world was moving before World War I derailed these efforts.

You talk of nationalizing the Fed. I know people don't like the word nationalizing. How about thing de-privatizing or de-Thatcherizing the Fed? You have to represent the Fed as having stolen economic and financial policy away from the public domain. It became part of the neoliberal project taking form in Austria in the 1930s. You're trying to restore the classical economic vision of productive versus unproductive credit, productive versus unproductive labor, and public money as opposed to private money. These distinctions were erased by the censorial neoliberal counter-revolution.
It's not that you're radical, that these people had a radical revolution to carve away the financial system from democracy. And you're restoring the classical vision of democratizing, re-democratizing finance and banking.

Walt McRee: [00:14:12] I want to thank you for saying that, Michael, because de-privatizing the Federal Reserve is so much more accurate and powerful. You'll recall that we kind of exchanged a phrase when I said "institutionalized deception.". I think that's really important. But let's say that prior to that, Stephanie Kelton gets in there, or somebody from the MMT crowd gets into a new administration prior to de-privatizing the Fed. Does MMT have a place to play or to emerge in that environment?

Michael Hudson: [00:14:55] Of course, and here's the role: You can leave the commercial banks to do what they're doing, but you're not going to provide Federal Reserve credit for them to load down the economy with unproductive debt. The question is, if you're going to create real community banking via a public banking sector, where will it get the money to lend out? How do we provide money to the red-lined areas of the economy to actually finance tangible capital investment and people's living needs, not just predatory lending? The way that MMT comes in is much like the Chicago plan for one hundred percent reserves. These community banks will need Treasury-created depository credit beyond the deposits they raise in their local areas.

They need more money. MMT will provide credit to these banks in exchange for their loan originations of a productive character, on terms that borrowers can afford, with realistic mortgages also to build public housing. The new Fed that we're talking about will be a major depositor and will provider of the capital deposits and reserves to the banks. Right now, it has provided $4 trillion of Quantitative Easing credit to the banks, not to put into the economy but only to inflate the stock and bond market and make housing more expensive. Wouldn't it be much better to provide credit to community banks that actually would make credit available for productive economic purposes – and not for takeover loans, stock buybacks and asset speculation?

Productive credit was what everybody expected banking to develop in the late 19th century. Germany and Central Europe were leading the way. It was called Middle Europa banking, as opposed to Anglo-American banking. (I discuss this contrast in Killing the Host.) That was essentially following the classical model, as everybody expected banking to evolve prior to World War I.

Ellen Brown: [00:17:29] Cool. That's totally what I also wrote about in my latest book. The Federal Reserve is where you should be getting credit, so you don't have to borrow it from somewhere else. Everybody thinks this whole repo thing is so contrived. It's re-hypothecated. One party owns the collateral at night, the other party owns it during the day. It's all just bluff to make it look like they borrowed something that wasn't really there. So let's just acknowledge that all money is just credit. And like you say, if you have a good loan, a good project to be monetized, that's the whole point of a bank. It will turn your future productivity into something you can spend in the marketplace. And the central bank is there to provide the credit.

Michael Hudson: [00:18:21] That's right.

Ellen Brown: [00:18:22] Turn it into dollars.

Michael Hudson: [00:18:24] That's right. My way of describing it is to look at history, to show that this is not a utopian idea. It is what made German and Central European banking so much more productive in the decades leading up to World War I. So we actually have historical examples of good banking versus bad banking. But the predators won in the end.

Ellen Brown: [00:18:53] Well, regarding this whole repo thing, one big problem we have with our public banks is the 110 percent collateralization requirement in California. How is a bank supposed to make loans if it has to use its deposits to buy securities – something safe and yielding low interest to back the deposits? It seems to me that what the big banks do – and I think we could do it, too – is to take those deposits and buy federal securities at 1.5 percent, and then they turn around and use the securities as collateral in the repo market, where they pay 1.5 percent. In other words, they earn 1.5 percent and they pay 1.5 percent. So it's a wash. They get their money for free. I think we could do that, too. Or are only certain players allowed to play that game, and we can't jump in?

Michael Hudson: [00:19:50] Well, you're the lawyer. Of course they could do it. I think one of the things that you and other progressives have recommended is that the Fed should stop paying money to the banks for their reserve deposits. Stop giving them the free giveaway. If you want to say, "We're against the largest welfare recipients in the country. They're not the people you think. They're the Wall Street banks. These hypocrites want to cut back Social Security to balance the budget. They want to cut back medical care and social services, and make themselves the only welfare recipients."

Ellen Brown: [00:20:30] Right, agreed. But if we just stand on our high horse and say this has to change, nothing will happen. We could do it ourselves and just show what you're doing in contrast to what they're doing

Michael Hudson: [00:20:44] You're asking for symmetry. They're making us carry a big load on our back, that they don't have to carry. They're loading the dice in their own favor. You want to unload the dice and stop the insider favoritism. You correctly represent the banks as being insiders. You have to say, "Look, these insiders are trying to keep a monopoly." You could use the anti-monopoly legislation that's been on the books since Teddy Roosevelt's time. You have a lot of legal power to break up the big banks. You could treat them like I think they could treat the pharmaceutical companies if Bernie gets in.

Walt McRee: [00:21:44] Monopolies are being challenged by the shadow banking industry. New forms of payment exchange technologies seem to be eating away at that singular source of credit. What's your prognosis for how that's going to evolve? Will the big banks find a way to clamp down on that ultimately?

Michael Hudson: [00:22:05] Are we talking about cryptocurrency?

Walt McRee: [00:22:07] That would be one example, yes.

Michael Hudson: [00:22:10] Well,. you can't stop people from gambling. People think that buying a cryptocurrency is like buying an Andy Warhol etching. Maybe it'll go up in price if a large number of people want it. But basically, it's junk. It's very speculative. It's certainly not stable. It goes up and down. One day there may be a solar flare that's going to wipe out all the bank records for these things. But there is no way to stop people from doing something that seems to be silly or gambling. You certainly will not insure them. So you will not give them any protection against loss. You also will want to insulate the economy from having any transactions in crypto, in these alternative money things that pose a big threat of loss. They are not real money, because the government will not accept payment of cryptocurrencies as taxes or for public goods and services. The government will only accept specified forms of money. You can create any kind of swap or bet. If you want to create the equivalent of a racetrack on horses. You can do it, but that's a financial racetrack. I think there may be taxes on racetracks. They were unregulated for a long time. But Hollywood movies showed that there's a lot of criminalization going on there.

Walt McRee: [00:23:59] We were all amused, well, maybe a little wondering about Max Kaiser. Ellen and I and Tyson Slokum had some time with him over there just before you were at his Brooklyn studio, but Max is into Bitcoin in a big way, and he sees it as the new gold.

Michael Hudson: [00:24:20] He told me that a lot of people watch his show because they're gold bugs or they are interested in Bitcoin. I think he's tried to take a neutral view of it, certainly in our personal conversations. He's not a gold bug and he's not a Bitcoin or other bug. But he said that a lot of people want to find out about it, so he has guests on his show telling people, "Here it is, take your choice." It's part of the new speculative financial landscape, just like swamps are part of landscape for Florida real estate. So he's going to cover the whole spectrum. Reuters produces his shows, and the audience wants to hear about this. So he talks about what they want to hear.

Ellen Brown: [00:25:20] I think he actually does promote Bitcoin. He's heavily invested in it and he was one of the originals, so he's obviously made a lot of money on it.

Michael Hudson: [00:25:29] Okay.

Ellen Brown: [00:25:29] I think he agrees that it can't be a national currency. It's too slow, too expensive, and too environmentally unfriendly. But like you say, it has been a good investment, just like fine art or something that, if people want it, the value goes up. Plus, there's a big black market for it, for trading and things that you don't want the government to know about.

Michael Hudson: [00:25:57] It's a real phenomenon. I know people who benefited from Andy Warhol. So he saw the phenomenon and he seems to have made money, but when Steve Keen and I and others got together with him for a couple of days two months ago, the topic never came up in discussion.
But gold did. I wonder where the gold of Libya went, for instance. Apparently it was all taken and I understand the US gave it to ISIS. Hillary said it had to go to ISIS to act as our Foreign Legion. We gave them Libya's weapons. Some of the gold must have just been taken by the CIA and State Department for dirty tricks for its black operations. Certainly, America wants to prevent any other country or large gold possessor from having enough gold to try to reinstate it as a means of settling balance-of-payments deficits. America runs a large military deficit, so at a certain point, the more money it spends abroad for its 800 military bases, the more gold it would lose. Just like in General de Gaulle's time during the Vietnam War, although actually Germany was taking more gold than France. So America wants to keep the dollar at the center of the world financial system. That really was why it went to war with Libya, because Libya was one of the first countries to de-dollarize and move its currency toward gold. So you're having a group of countries – Russia, China, Iran and others – add gold to their reserves instead of dollars. You're having a de-dollarization move throughout the world to break free from the US ability to do what it did do Iran.

When Iran borrowed in dollars under the Shah, it used Chase Manhattan Bank as its paying agent. It put enough money into the account to pay its foreign debts service. But then the State Department told Chase to screw Iran and refuse to turn over the payment. Now that the Shah wasn't running Iran, once Chase refused to turn over the payment and froze Iran's account, that meant that Iran went into default on the entire dollarized foreign debt. It was liable for a huge amount of capital.
That was a warning for the rest of the world that no government could safely put its money in an American bank or an American bank branch, or in a British branch that would act as a subsidiary of the Pentagon. Because if you do, the bank can simply force you into default at any time, just like the US CIA can come in and use electronic weaponry to destroy your bank payment-clearing system. That's why the threat of cutting Russia and China and other countries off from the Swift Interbank Clearing System led Russia to develop its own clearing system. With a flick of a switch it can begin to work anytime United States tries to cut Russia off from the SWIFT payments system. So you're having the whole world de-dollarize very quickly. And right now the question is what Europe will choose. Are Germany and other countries going to become part of the de-dollarized system, or remain part of the dollar area?

This is part of the fight against using the IT chips and the communications chips from Huawei. Huawei did not put US spyware into the system. The United States says that if it can't have a phone system and communications system that it can control by spyware and use to blow up your economy, your public utilities, your electrical systems, then you're our enemy, because we feel insecure without this control. When President Trump said that Huawei was a threat to US national security, he meant that we don't feel secure unless we have the power to destroy any economy that acts in any way that is independent of the United States – because you might do something we don't like. This is the most aggressive concept of security that one could imagine. So of course the rest of the world is seeing its own national security as having a financial dimension. The financial dimension is to create a monetary and financial system that minimizes connections to the dollar except to the extent of having to buy and sell dollars to stabilize foreign exchange rate.

Ellen Brown: [00:31:31] There's a lot of talk, even among central bankers, that we need to get off the dollar as a global reserve currency. But it seems to me that gold is also manipulatable. I mean, it's not the ideal I had envisioned a system where instead of reserves being a thing, like dollars or gold that you can actually trade, it would just be a measure, like a yardstick. You would be able to compare one currency to another according to what you could buy with it. Like you'd have a whole basket of things that everybody uses in every country. And now that they report that kind of stuff, it wouldn't be all that hard to get the figures and, you know, just compare and say, well, your dollar will be worth so many pesos in Mexico or whatever. That was my idea, but what do you think?

Michael Hudson: [00:32:27] That would meet one of the criteria of money, which is as a measure of value, but it would not do at all for international money. You have to have some means of constraint. In other words, suppose the United States continued to run another military budget deficit like it did in the Vietnam War. There is no way that you could use the balance of payments as a constraint on the policy of deficit countries, which are usually the military aggressors. The whole idea of going off gold was that under the gold standard no country can afford to make war, because if you go to war your currency collapses. In 1976, Herman Kahn and I went to the Treasury and – this is to answer your question. He put up a map of the world and said, "These are the countries – Scandinavia, Western Europe, the United States – that don't believe in gold. They're all politically stable social democratic countries. They have faith in government. No look at these others here's the rest of the world – India, South America, Africa and most of Asia. these are people that believe in gold. Why do they believe in gold, but not the Protestant cultural area? Well, they don't have faith in government. They don't trust governments. They want some option that is independent of government. Gold is not only to bribe the border guards if they're escaping from somewhere. They want to be free of governments that have been captured by anti-democratic, predatory forces."

He said if you tried to think of what you would make that is an alternative to the dollar that people could understand, well, for thousands of years, people have decided that gold and silver. (I'm sure that you could add platinum and palladium.) So they have been the ultimate means of settlement, and hence of international monetary constraint.

Gold isn't to be used as money. It's not to be used as a normal means of payment. What it is to be used for is as a balance-of-payments constraint on the ability of countries to run up chronic deficits that are mainly military in character. So I called our presentation "Gold: the Peaceful Metal." Well, needless to say, the Treasury didn't go for that, because they said that we had just explained how super-imperialism works via the dollar. So they didn't go back to gold. We lost that argument.

Ellen Brown: [00:35:34] Isn't the reason we went off gold standard, though, that there simply isn't enough gold and that we wound up leveraging it, and

Michael Hudson: [00:35:42] No, there's plenty of gold. There wasn't enough gold to pay for the military deficit. Every month the dollars we spent in Vietnam would be turned over to the banks in Indo-China. They were French. They'd turn the dollars over to Paris and General de Gaulle would turn in these dollars for gold. We had to pay in gold for the military deficit, which was the entire source of the US balance-of-payments deficits in the 50s, 60s and into the 70s. America went off gold so that it could afford to wage war without the constraint of losing its control over the international monetary system.

Ellen Brown: [00:36:29] We went after gold domestically because it didn't work. I mean, you had to use fractional reserve lending

Michael Hudson: [00:36:35] Yes, of course gold doesn't work domestically. It's certainly not an appropriate domestic money supply. I'm only talking about it for settlements among central banks internationally.
Ellen Brown: [00:36:49] But you said it's not to be traded. But if you don't, how do you settle your balance of payments?

Michael Hudson: [00:36:53] It can be traded. There is a market. And you began by saying, quite correctly, that gold prices are manipulated. Well, right now the US and the central banks are manipulating its price to keep it low, in the same way that they're manipulating the stock and bond market by buying forward. Except in the case of gold, they're selling forward. If they keep agreeing to sell gold at a very low price, people will see that if they can buy gold at this low price, why should they buy it at a higher price today, as the price will fall and be driven down. So, yes, gold is manipulated downwards today by the U.S. – essentially the plunge protection team acting internationally to keep the price of gold down to discourage other countries and populations from buying it is protection against collapse of the financial system.

So we're back to the fact that the financial system is dysfunctional. In a functional financial system, you wouldn't need domestic reference to gold. You'd have a domestic financial system that works fine without gold. Gold is what you have when the financial system becomes dysfunctional and there's a breakdown.

Ellen Brown: [00:38:21] Well, it almost seems like you need some sort of global regulator. But that's like a one-world government, which we all freak out about.

Michael Hudson: [00:38:28] You certainly don't want a one world government. Right now all the plans for world government are neoliberal. They aim essentially to limit, to break up democratic government regulation of corporate business, mining and monopolies. The idea of a one-world government is to destroy any democratic government's ability to make its own laws in the interests of labor or society. You would have a parallel government of wealth, government of property. It's what the University of Chicago calls the Law and Economics regime. And this is, this is fascism on an international scale. And there is a wonderful book by Quinn Slobodian in 2008, Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Nationalism, showing how these plans were developed by fascists in the 1930s and by the fascist promoters at the University of Chicago. The fascist promoters were people like Hayek and von Mises and the Geneva economists around the League of Nations. So when they say they're anti-government, they're really anti-democracy. They're for an iron-fisted government by big business, big mining and big oil – and most of all, by big banks. That is the reason why people don't trust an international government. It would be an international iron fist of fascism, the way the current maneuvering of the financial classes and the rentier classes and the neocons have arranged things.

Ellen Brown: [00:39:56] Well, I totally agree. It's quite frightening. We want sovereignty for all our little nations, and even our little cities, states and so forth. But it seems to me, how do you get everybody to work together? For example, Venezuela has the debt problem that any country has that's heavily in debt to foreigners, or to vulture funds or whatever. There's not a universally recognized court that you can go to. And, you know, everybody agrees. It does seem like on some level we need some sort of collaborative effort where we all agree on the rules.

Michael Hudson: [00:40:33] Absolutely right. Now, of course, the United States would not recognize any international court. So, again, you'd have all the rest of the world belonging to the court, and the United States as the outlier. It's like you're the healthy body and we want to parasitize you. And it will not recognize the court. My Super-Imperialism reviews the history of this policy.
But you're right: There should be a court that would recognize such things as odious debt for governments. Venezuela's problem is that under the dictators that the Americans had installed by assassination and force, Venezuela had pledged its oil reserves as collateral for its international bonds. That gives a vested interest in the creditors to make it default and grab its oil reserves and its investments in the United States, the oil distributors it bought. So, yes, you do need a set of international rules for writing down bad debts. That means an alternative to the IMF. You need an anti-IMF. Instead of acting on behalf of the creditors imposing austerity on countries, you should create an organization representing society. And s the interest of society is to grow. Instead of promoting austerity like the IMF does, it would promote prosperity. Instead of financing the US government dollarization and giving US control, it would be part of the de-dollarization group.
So you'd have a pro-growth group of nations – of the world economy – using finance for growth and development with productive credit. You'd also have the United States providing predatory credit, austerity, cutting back Social Security, cutting back Medicare and having a polarizing economy that is shrinking and will end up looking like Greece or Argentina. The rest of the world would follow more productive and less oligarchic financial policies. That should ultimately be our global dream. But there's been little preparation for that. The financial sector's neoliberals have o put together an almost conspiratorial Law and Economics lobbying group to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership and World Trade Organization rules blocking governments from imposing anti-pollution fines or regulating monopolies or closing tax havens. If you fine an oil company for polluting, the government is obliged under this international law to pay the oil companies what they would have earned if they would have continued to poison the environment. This is

Ellen Brown: [00:43:41] Shocking.

Michael Hudson: [00:43:41] Definitely. This is an international deathwish.

Ellen Brown: [00:43:45] Agreed. Totally agreed.

Walt McRee: [00:43:47] We've been speaking with economist Michael Hudson. Our thanks to him for being on this program again. And you'll be hearing more from Michael on future editions of It's Our Money.

Walt McRee: [00:43:59] Well, that's it for this edition of It's Our Money with Ellen Brown. Thanks to our guests or sponsors, Public Banking Associates, and to you for listening. Be sure to check out Ellen's latest writings on the economy and the changing world of money by visiting ellenbrown.com. And for more information on public banking, visit PublicBankingInstitute.org. For information on how local and state governments can obtain professional insight and council about public banks from key national experts, visit PublicBankingAssociates.com. I'm Walt McRee. See you next time on It's our Money with Ellen Brown.

Michael Hudson is President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET), a Wall Street Financial Analyst, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and author of J is for Junk Economics (2017), Killing the Host (2015), The Bubble and Beyond (2012), Super-Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (1968 & 2003), Trade, Development and Foreign Debt (1992 & 2009) and of The Myth of Aid (1971), amongst many others.

[Mar 22, 2020] Mask piracy among neoliberal nations: Wonderful show of world-wide solidarity

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... 1) Pompeo and Grenell reportedly arguing that coronavirus has created window of opportunity for a direct strike on a weak and divided Iran. ..."
"... Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisian has criticized the #UK for not delivering millions of masks #Iran bought in preparations ahead of #Covid19 outbreak. The London govt. refused to deliver them citing US sanctions! Note that Germany took supplies meant for Switzerland, The US via the Italian Mafia (I suppose) gets masks from Bergamo. etc. ..."
Mar 21, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Stonebird , Mar 21 2020 21:25 utc | 31

I just think that the US "Intelligence" and most of the US Administration just haven't got it. I suppose when you are waiting for the "rapture" anything that can add to the chaos is to be included.

1) Pompeo and Grenell reportedly arguing that coronavirus has created window of opportunity for a direct strike on a weak and divided Iran. They were arguing about the severity of the strike.

2) Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisian has criticized the #UK for not delivering millions of masks #Iran bought in preparations ahead of #Covid19 outbreak. The London govt. refused to deliver them citing US sanctions! Note that Germany took supplies meant for Switzerland, The US via the Italian Mafia (I suppose) gets masks from Bergamo. etc. Wonderful show of world-wide solidarity.

Pompeo should hold his "rapture" in his hot little hand and .....

[Mar 21, 2020] Tulsi Gabbard says insider traders should be 'investigated prosecuted,' as Left and Right team up on profiteering senator

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "better prepared than ever ..."
"... "akin to the 1918 pandemic." ..."
"... "Congress/staff who dumped stocks after private briefings on impending coronavirus epidemic should be investigated and prosecuted for insider trading," ..."
"... "Members of Congress should not be allowed to own stocks." ..."
"... "stomach churning," ..."
"... "For a public servant it's pretty hard to imagine many things more immoral than doing this," ..."
"... "Richard Burr had critical information that might have helped the people he is sworn to protect. But he hid that information and helped only himself." ..."
"... "If you find out about a nation-threatening pandemic and your first move is to adjust your stock portfolio you should probably not be in a job that serves the public interest," ..."
"... "calling for immediate investigations" ..."
"... "for possible violations of the STOCK Act and insider trading laws." ..."
"... Think your friends would be interested? Share this story! ..."
Mar 21, 2020 | www.rt.com

In a rare moment of bipartisanship, commenters from all sides have demanded swift punishment for US senators who dumped stock after classified Covid-19 briefings. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has called for criminal prosecution. As chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) has received daily briefings on the threat posed by Covid-19 since January. Burr insisted to the public that America was ready to handle the virus, but sold up to $1.5 million in stocks on February 13, less than a week before the stock market nosedived, according to Senate filings . Immediately before the sale, Burr wrote an op-ed assuring Americans that their government is "better prepared than ever " to handle the virus.

Also on rt.com Liberal icon Sean Penn wants a 'compassionate' army deployment to fight Covid-19

After the sale, NPR reported that he told a closed-door meeting of North Carolina business leaders that the virus actually posed a threat "akin to the 1918 pandemic." Burr does not dispute the NPR report.

In a tweet on Saturday, former 2020 presidential candidate and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard called for criminal investigations. "Congress/staff who dumped stocks after private briefings on impending coronavirus epidemic should be investigated and prosecuted for insider trading," she wrote.

"Members of Congress should not be allowed to own stocks."

Congress/staff who dumped stocks after private briefings on impending coronavirus epidemic should be investigated & prosecuted for insider trading (the STOCK Act). It is illegal & abuse of power. Members of Congress should not be allowed to own stocks. https://t.co/rbVfJxrk3r

-- Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) March 21, 2020

Burr was not the only lawmaker on Capitol Hill to take precautions, it was reported. Fellow Intelligence Committee member Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and her husband sold off more than a million dollars of shares in a biotech company five days later, while Oklahoma's Jim Inhofe (R) made a smaller sale around the same time. Both say their sales were routine.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia) attended a Senate Health Committee briefing on the outbreak on January 24. The very same day, she began offloading stock, dropping between $1.2 and $3.1 million in shares over the following weeks. The companies whose stock she sold included airlines, retail outlets, and Chinese tech firm Tencent.

She did, however, invest in cloud technology company Oracle, and Citrix, a teleworking company whose value has increased by nearly a third last week, as social distancing measures forced more and more Americans to work from home. All of Loeffler's transactions were made with her husband, Jeff Sprecher, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange.

Meanwhile, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York) and Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) have joined the clamor of voices demanding punishment. Ocasio-Cortez described the sales as "stomach churning," while Omar reached across the aisle to side with Fox News' Tucker Carlson in calling for Burr's resignation.

I am 💯 with him on this 😱 https://t.co/Gbi3i2BagY

-- Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 20, 2020

"For a public servant it's pretty hard to imagine many things more immoral than doing this," Carlson said during a Friday night monolog. "Richard Burr had critical information that might have helped the people he is sworn to protect. But he hid that information and helped only himself."

As of Saturday, there are nearly 25,000 cases of Covid-19 in the US, with the death toll heading towards 300. Now both sides of the political aisle seem united in disgust at the apparent profiteering of Burr, Loeffler, and Feinstein.

Right-wing news outlet Breitbart savaged Burr for voting against the STOCK Act in 2012, a piece of legislation that would have barred members of Congress from using non-public information to profit on the stock market. At the same time, a host of Democratic figures - including former presidential candidates Andrew Yang and Kirsten Gillibrand - weighed in with their own criticism too.

"If you find out about a nation-threatening pandemic and your first move is to adjust your stock portfolio you should probably not be in a job that serves the public interest," Yang tweeted on Friday.

If you find out about a nation-threatening pandemic and your first move is to adjust your stock portfolio you should probably not be in a job that serves the public interest.

-- Andrew Yang🧢 (@AndrewYang) March 20, 2020

Watchdog group Common Cause has filed complaints with the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Senate Ethics Committee "calling for immediate investigations" of Burr, Loeffler, Feinstein and Inhofe "for possible violations of the STOCK Act and insider trading laws."

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

[Mar 21, 2020] Tucker Senator Burr sold shares after virus briefing

Highly recommended!
Mar 21, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Bowhead31 , 5 hours ago

The problem is these people no longer see themselves as public servants.

Maria Summers , 6 hours ago

The Georgia Senator is just as guilty as the rest of them, regarding "Insider Trading".

shane passey , 3 hours ago

She's a crook just like the rest of the politicians. They say they be there for the people. But they're really there to make themselves rich

[Mar 21, 2020] Don't forget our congress critter Senator Kelly Loeffler

Mar 21, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

@supenau

who make profits as well. I cannot remember exactly when insider trading for them became legal but it should be no surprise to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention that they're ALL doing it. That is one reason, at least in my semi-educated opinion, they did not go after Trump for emoluments during Shampeachment, because THEY ALL DO IT.

That goes all the way to the White House, no doubt.

Marie on Sat, 03/21/2020 - 10:28am

Looks as if the crisis profiteers were on top of it:

Think about this:

Weeks before you had any inkling you were going to lose your job, was selling off millions of stocks -- and *buying* stock in a teleworking company.

-- Robert Reich (@RBReich) March 20, 2020

[Mar 19, 2020] Neoliberalism has an expiration date. And this day arrived. It's that simple.

If the ideology can't survive the objective reality, then it is not natural, but historically specific, therefore is doomed when the historical landscape changed.
Mar 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
physicians and providers ?"

Leonard Peikoff, of the Ayn Rand Institute, explained it this way: "Observe that all legitimate rights have one thing in common: they are rights to action, not to rewards from other people. The American rights impose no obligations on other people, merely the negative obligation to leave you alone. The system guarantees you the chance to work for what you want -- not to be given it without effort by somebody else ."

Richard M. Salsman, writing in Forbes Magazine, put it this way: "Doctors, nurses, hospitals, drug-makers, and health insurers are no more "servants" of the masses, or even of those in need of health care, than are businessmen, bankers, teachers, journalists, or truck drivers servants of those who need their services. If you want to pay for the services of health care providers, simply do so; if you can't afford it, try to negotiate a discount, or pay by installments, or seek access to private charity; but you have no "right" to take from health care providers what they're not willing to supply."

" where my nose begins"

The number of op-eds, articles, TV news segments, social media posts and videos, memes, etc. making this point is not small. It is a central ideological talking point of those who believe in the economic theories of Adam Smith and Milton Friedman.

Essentially, "rights" are only negative. Rights only exist to protect individuals from state coercion. They do not entitle anyone to anything. Positive "rights" like education, healthcare, and employment are in fact a violation because they involve an imposition on those required to fulfill them.

Your health is your business, not the business of society. The demand that the government protect your health is not legitimate. Henry David Thoreau wrote "the government is best that governs least." Reverend A.C. Dixon coined the widely misattributed phrase: "your liberty ends just where my nose begins."

The way adherents of western liberalism view the world, healthcare simply cannot be a right. Society has no obligation to individuals, and individuals have no obligation to society. The state simply exists to protect you from those who would harm you or steal your property.

The State & Coronavirus

On February 26th, US President Donald Trump addressed the public about the danger of the CoronaVirus. He said: "the number one priority from our standpoint is the health and safety of the American people. And that's the way I viewed it when I made that decision. Because of all we've done, the risk to the American people remains very low. We have the greatest experts in the world -- really, in the world, right here -- people that are called upon by other countries when things like this happen."

It seems that many of his supporters and detractors did not seem to realize that his words fly in the face of the longstanding mantra of his political allies. Why should the government prioritize the health of the American people? If healthcare is simply a personal matter, and the state has no right to impose on anyone else, how can the government take action to stop the CoronaVirus?

The reality is, however, that an uncontrolled outbreak of the Corona Virus would be a menace to public health. It is universally recognized that governments have an obligation to step in and prevent further outbreaks.

But then the question is raised, what makes CoronaVirus unique? When people in any society are unwell, it has a detrimental effect on society overall. A society with lots of diseased, unhealthy people in it, is problematic, even for those who are not diseased.

There is a reason that public health codes exist. There is a reason that the US appoints a Surgeon General as part of the Executive Branch. There's a reason that the US government has a Center for Disease Control.

It is universally recognized by the US public that on some level the state has the "right" to protect the collective health of its people. . The question is how much of a "right" to be healthy do US citizens have?

In many countries, the state ensures that citizens are insured. Some countries go as far as operating a national healthcare service, abolishing private hospitals and clinical services.

Bring A Chicken To The Doctor

The United States stands alone, among western countries, in maintaining a mostly private healthcare system. Richard Nixon's legislation creating Health Maintenance Organizations in 1973 set up a network of private insurers, who pay the medical bills of those who subscribe to their services.

Some free market conservatives and libertarians argue that even Nixon's 1973 reforms went too far. Sue Lowden, a conservative candidate for Congress in Nevada argued that the insurance companies created by the state were unnecessary, because prior to that Americans were free to barter with their physicians. She said "You know, before we all started having health care, in the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor. They would say I'll paint your house . In the old days that's what people would do to get healthcare with their doctors. Doctors are very sympathetic people. I'm not backing down from that system ."

Regardless, Medical debt in the United States currently sits $3.3 trillion, roughly 17.9% of the country's GDP. In the year of 2019, 27 million Americans had no health insurance, meaning that they would have to pay for any healthcare services directly out of their personal funds.

If the government has an obligation to protect the entire US public from the Coronavirus, does it not have an obligation to ensure that the 27 million uninsured are able to acquire the healthcare they need? Does it not have an obligation to eliminate the $3.3 trillion in medical debt which is a huge weight on the economy?

Human Beings Are Collective Creatures

In essence, human beings are collective creatures. From the time of hunter-gatherer tribalism, to the slave empires of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Rome, and Greece, to the feudal commons, up to into the modern global capitalist economy, human beings have always cooperated with each other.

No one in this day and age can point to any product and say "I made this all by myself." The global economy, as it currently exists, involves human beings from across the planet, coming together to create products. A single electronic item may be the product of workers in 5 or 6 different countries. Even the most individualistic craftsmen use tools that are produced in assembly lines, and packaged by scores of other human beings.

Margaret Thatcher, an advocate of western individualism and economic liberalism, said "there's no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first."

However, the reality is the opposite of what Margaret Thatcher proclaimed. All of human history is a history of collectivism.

The CoronaVirus is a problem that not just neighborhoods and regions, not just countries, but the entire global community must address cooperatively. It shows the absolute necessity of breaking with the ideology that says human beings are only atomized individuals with no obligation to society, and with nothing owed to them.

Problems that threaten the entire human race, require the mobilizations of the entire human race to beat them back.

Western liberal individualist ideology, a convenient rhetorical device for the rich and powerful, fails to understand the very nature of human beings.

Caleb Maupin is a political analyst and activist based in New York. He studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College and was inspired and involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook" .

[Mar 19, 2020] The Decline of Neoliberalism Implications for CSR- - The BUSINESS of SOCIETY

Mar 19, 2020 | www.bos-cbscsr.dk

By Steen Vallentin.

"May you live in interesting times" – so the apocryphal English-language expression goes that people often refer to as 'the Chinese curse'. Times are certainly interesting. Taken for granted notions of what is up and down and left and right in politics are, if not turned on their head then knocked about in confusing and sometimes frightening ways.

The strange (non-)death of neoliberalism again?

One of the interesting developments in world politics right now is the crisis of neoliberalism as ideology. A development that some will indeed see as a curse, others as a blessing. It is not the first time that neoliberalism has been declared dead or seen to be in its death throes. Many obituaries of finance capitalism and global free trade were written in the wake of the financial crisis. Nevertheless, neoliberalism has shown itself to be remarkably resilient and has continued – in spite of public criticism – to be a dominant force in public policy around the world. Colin Crouch has referred to this recurring trajectory as 'the strange non-death of neoliberalism".

However, Brexit (and the election of Jeremy Corbyn as head of Labour) and the movements surrounding Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in the United States are each in their own way symptomatic of a turning of the political tide against hyper-globalization and free market capitalism. The benefits of free trade – of goods, services and capital – and outsourcing of labor to low-cost destinations are now being challenged across the political spectrum. Even the Republic candidate for the presidency is questioning, supposedly (who knows with Trump), fundamental tenets of economic liberalism. The crisis of neoliberalism is both an intellectual and a popular one. Leading economists like Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Jeffrey Sachs and Thomas Piketty are among its vocal adversaries, and a public/populist movement is revolting against the crises and rising inequality that are associated with it. Even top economist from the IMF have recently acknowledged that neoliberalism has been "oversold".

... ... ...


Steen Vallentin is Director of the CBS Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (cbsCSR) and Associate Professor in the Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy at Copenhagen Business School.

[Mar 19, 2020] We are still barely starting to understand the consequences of Covid-19 for the future of neoliberal turbo-capitalism

Mar 19, 2020 | www.unz.com

Miro23 , says: Show Comment March 18, 2020 at 8:21 am GMT

We are still barely starting to understand the consequences of Covid-19 for the future of neoliberal turbo-capitalism. What's certain is that the whole global economy has been hit by an insidious, literally invisible circuit breaker. This may be just a "coincidence." Or this may be, as some are boldly arguing, part of a possible, massive psy-op creating the perfect geopolitlcal and social engineering environment for full-spectrum dominance.

Coronavirus is certainly a useful way to deflate a speculative bubble. The virus gets the blame rather the Dumpers in the Pump and Dump cycle.

Governments have decided to shut down their economies – which is in line with obsessive health and safety culture. In times past, flu variants would burn themselves out as host populations gained immunity. This time, people will probably still catch it anyway, while facing unemployment and bankruptcy.

No question that the Corona virus is putting the whole neoliberal world order under stress. The NWO needs globalization, debt , open frontiers and a petrodollar and they're all in trouble. Global trade has stopped. Can the public carry more debt? Frontiers are closing around the world. Oil has never had such an extreme demand/supply imbalance.

Would the NWO people (corporate globalists) do this to themselves through a planned Coronavirus 9/11 style "Event" to further extend their control of society? They can now extend their control but to do what exactly? The SWJ/racism conversation has completely disappeared and the Coronavirus is uniting populations in the crisis rather than dividing them.

Which makes it very unlikely that the Coronavirus was a planned 9/11 style "Event" to further remove civil liberties. The virus reaction is rebuilding nationalism, closing frontiers and crashing the wealth of elites. Elites may still try to use it to remove civil liberties but it doesn't look like it was planned that way. Right now, they seem to be as shocked and confused as everyone else.

If Western governments continue to fail in this challenge, the result may be a default return to localism. Local communities arrange their own governance, schooling, healthcare, policing and pay for it themselves saying goodbye to the corrupt Federal clown show.

[Mar 17, 2020] Will neliberalsm surive the second hard blow?

Mar 17, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Debz , Mar 17 2020 4:12 utc | 131

A link from Bill Mitchell Professor of Economics at Newcastle University, in NSW Australia, with some advice for the Australian government an what is to be done.

"In the early days of the GFC, I thought that the neoliberal era, supported by the mainstream macroeconomists, might be coming to an end. Maybe I was a decade out in my prediction.

Perhaps this crisis, induced by a human sickness, will end the madness that has redistributed massive volumes of income to the top-end-of-town, sustained elevated levels of labour underutilisation and seen the traditional progressive political voices become mouthpieces and even agents for the neoliberal economic lies. I was wrong in 2008 on this score.

I hope something good like this comes out of the current disaster. The coronavirus comes on top of already growing dissent over the failure of mainstream economic policy. It will redefine what governments can do with their obvious fiscal capacity and will demonstrate once-and-for-all the lies that the mainstream economists tell about deficits, inflation, interest rates, etc. It will categorically demonstrate the capacity of the currency-issuer. All that will lay the foundation for a better future, if we get beyond this current malaise."

http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/

[Mar 16, 2020] How is the Consumer Society Doing by Stormy

Notable quotes:
"... Medical care in the States is just a huge goody bag for everyone except the patient. Doctors run up the bills. Hospitals run up the bills. Insurance companies take their cut. ..."
"... Privatization has its costs. Off-shoring has its costs. Austerity that feeds the rich and powerful has its costs. ..."
Mar 16, 2020 | angrybearblog.com
The rich, the wealthy, the privileged have to provide for themselves? What, no dog walkers, no maids, no waiters and all the other little people that make life a joy? Gardners, bus drivers, private nurses, second houses in the Hamptons, a third house in Hawaii–all cared for by the loving poor?

Cutting interest rates no longer primes the pump? Neo-liberalism on its last legs? What is going to happen when climate and ecological disruption really hit?

And Bezos now wants his enslaved workers to donate time to help others? King of the mountain, he is. The wonder of neo-liberalism in love with worker efficiency and low wages, he is.

And how is the health care going? Pharmaceuticals off-shored? The Sacklers and Pelosi–no longer arm in arm? Lobbyists losing their sting?

How much was universal health to cost? Yet every decent society manages it. And all Biden and the mass media can do is fret on costs. Both know that it takes time to answer that question–and it seems so clear and so simple–for the gullible.

Anyone ever checked on actual costs of an MRI in Canada compared with an MRI in the states? I have. In the states a full-body MRI scan costs $15,000 with a $3,000 co-pay. In Canada, at a for profit MRI screening area the same MRI costs $1,500.
How do I know? My son in the U.S. had an MRI–my step-daughter in Canada is an MRI specialist. I asked her for the exact price of the one my son had in the states – what her hospital charges for those who do not have insurance, i.e., visiting Americans!

Medical care in the States is just a huge goody bag for everyone except the patient. Doctors run up the bills. Hospitals run up the bills. Insurance companies take their cut.

In the States, the doctors hire squads of secretaries to keep track of everything. They even open their own medical centers that squeeze the patient dry. Walk into any doctor's office in Canada. One doctor and one helper: Max.

And the waste of time hunting for a package that will serve your needs and choice of doctors? There is no choice in the States .unless you are rich or a politician! And then worry if you lose your job will you be protected? What a nightmare every way we look at it.

And the free health care for every senator, representative take it away . Biden and Sanders should pay for health care services rendered, not suck on the public dole. Same for the POTUS and ex-POTUSes and their wives and children. The health coverage that any CEO enjoys should be automatically extended to every worker in that company.

And tax cuts for the wealthy? And a military budget both that the DNC and the GOP both love? We going "get" those Ruskies, Cubans, Venezuelans, and Iranians? God Bless America and its bombers. We still going to pay for privatization of the military?

And what about student debt? Are we going to allow those students to declare bankruptcy? Eh, Biden?

And credit cards that always take a hefty grab of every purchase! The store owner has to pay every time a credit card is used, just for the privilege of accepting credit cards. The consumer has to pay big time if he forgets a payment.

Why not nationalize banks? Seriously. Charge just five percent interest–enough to meet actual costs? Stop the revolving door between banking Treasury.

And is branding about to stop? After all, royals and the Obamas make fortunes on branding. Imagine, an ex-POTUS can now easily afford an $11-12 million house on Martha's Vineyard.

And will we finally see a drop in the locust swarm of ads that plague every corner of the Internet? Gweneth Paltrow is the ultimate destination of this consumer society: Smell my bottled vagina odor! Step right up and take a sniff.

Privatization has its costs. Off-shoring has its costs. Austerity that feeds the rich and powerful has its costs.

likbez , March 16, 2020 3:42 pm

Thank you Stormy,

You hit the nail.

Privatization has its costs. Off-shoring has its costs. Austerity that feeds the rich and powerful has its costs.

Destruction of the New Deal Capitalism was a tragedy. Only now we start realizing enormous costs of the neoliberalization of the country.

Casino capitalism now officially entered the second stage of its crisis as the current situation is the direct continuation of 2008 crisis

[Mar 16, 2020] The Man Who Sold the World Ronald Reagan and the Betrayal of Main Street America Kleinknecht, William 9781568584423 Amazon.

Notable quotes:
"... Kleinknecht also spares little on showing just how disengaged Reagan was, and how rich tycoons used this to their advantage. At the same time, along the lines of Paul Kennedy in "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers," Kleinknecht notes that, even before Reagan's election, these tycoons were already more corporate raiders, looking to make money off various forms of cooking or tricking out company books, than they were corporate builders reinvesting in their companies. ..."
Mar 16, 2020 | www.amazon.com

This title is from an award-winning journalist, a major work of reporting and history that shatters the myth of Ronald Reagan. Since Ronald Reagan left office - and after his death especially - his influence has loomed over American life. Singled out for his 'courage, his kindness, his persistence, his honesty, and his almost heroic patience in the face of setbacks', a number of conservatives, from the late William Buckley to his former speechwriter Peggy Noonan to Republican nominee John McCain have looked to Reagan as a figure to regenerate the American conservative tradition as the Bush White House stumbles through crisis and scandal. This carefully calibrated image is a complete fiction, however.

The Reagan presidency was epoch-shattering, but not - as his propagandists would have it - because it invigorated private enterprise, toppled the Berlin Wall or made America feel strong again. Rather what gives Reagan such an awesome legacy is that he presided over the dismantling of one of the greatest social experiments in human history-an eight-decade period of reform in which working people were given an unprecedented sway over US politics, economy, and culture. Reagan halted this forward march toward democracy almost overnight.

In "The Man Who Sold the World", journalist William Kleinknecht explores Middle America and shows how Reaganism put the poor and working class back on the margins of everything except the basest popular culture. This scathing indictment of the Reagan legacy is the first comprehensive book to deal seriously with Ronald Reagan's place in contemporary America. Just as Americans are trying to grapple with the legacy of George W. Bush, "The Man Who Sold the World" shows how poorly we understand Reagan's.


Paul , Reviewed in the United States on October 11, 2016

If only more people knew the extent of the damage ...

If only more people knew the extent of the damage this man did to our country! I don't have time to write a long review, but this book takes an exhaustive look at every spectrum of the domestic policies that this laissez-faire, trickle-down, invisible hand of the free market president unleashed on Americans. And it doesn't even touch on Iran-Contra or the multiple despotic dictators he propped up or supported in Central America. 8 people found this helpful Helpful

Amazon Customer , Reviewed in the United States on March 7, 2013
A Small Glimmer of Truth

Since studying business and law in graduate school, every search for solutions to our policy problems has led me back to the changes made under Reagan. The sad truth is, his presidency was probably the most destructive in our history. If only more people would open their eyes to the truth about what he did to our society and our economy. Both our social battles and our declining economy are his legacies.

S. J. Snyder , Reviewed in the United States on April 9, 2010
Good book with a GREAT "hook"

Since a lot of conservatives like to claim Reagan did so much to help small towns' Main Street, and since Reagan himself pitched myths about that, Kleinknecht starts the book off with a brilliant conceit.

He actually visits Reagan's small-town birthplace of Dixon, Ill., and talks to people there about how it has changed since 1980. That includes people who say they'll only talk to him if not asked to comment negatively on Reagan - which is, itself, an indirect negative comment on Reagan!

Kleinknecht then supplements that with data from the Department of Labor, Department of Commerce, etc., showing just what Reagan did do to, and NOT "for," Dixon and by extension, other small towns.

Kleinknecht also spares little on showing just how disengaged Reagan was, and how rich tycoons used this to their advantage. At the same time, along the lines of Paul Kennedy in "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers," Kleinknecht notes that, even before Reagan's election, these tycoons were already more corporate raiders, looking to make money off various forms of cooking or tricking out company books, than they were corporate builders reinvesting in their companies.

Kleinknecht then goes beyond that, showing that many conservatives, including economist Hayek (Hey, Milton Friedman, you didn't study him well enough!) warned about the perils of such unbridled "capitalism."

At a time when "conservatives" today bash lower-middle-class people for paying little to know income tax, while failing to point out massive companies like Reagan sponsor GM do the same on the corporate side, this reminder that conservativism is more than, and different from, what some talking heads today claim, is important.

That said, Kleinknecht cuts Jimmy Carter a bit too much slack and Bill Clinton a lot too much. I'm reminded of one of Clinton's first lies, IMO, where he said, with mock surprise, (not exact quote), "You mean my economic program is hostage to the bond market?" Yes, he was cleaning up parts of the Reagan deficit mess old man Bush hadn't fully tidied. But, he was too close to Jackson Stephens to really be surprised. Ditto for Congressional Democratic leadership, beyond the increasingly frail Tip O'Neill, in the Reagan era. (This means you, Jim Wright.)

This really is, though, at least a 4/5 star book. Ignore the 1-star reviews.

[Mar 16, 2020] OK, neoliberalism is bad. But what is the alternative?

Mar 16, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

  1. likbez , March 16, 2020 3:42 pm

    Thank you Stormy,

    You hit the nail.

    Privatization has its costs. Off-shoring has its costs. Austerity that feeds the rich and powerful has its costs.

    Destruction of the New Deal Capitalism was a tragedy. Only now we start realizing enormous costs of the neoliberalization of the country.

    Casino capitalism now officially entered the second stage of its crisis as the current situation is the direct continuation of 2008 crisis

Bert Schlitz , March 16, 2020 5:07 pm

How was that "New Deal Capitalism" doing by 1979? Pretty bad. Maybe its time to realize that capitalism itself is dying and has been since 1923 when the industrial revolution crested. Most people don't want to hear that. Nothing will work to bring it back. Not New Deal Capitalism. Not Gold Standard driven monetary system either. Nothing will work.

The only thing that will save capitalism is a new industrial revolution that=cheap debt to growth.

likbez , March 16, 2020 6:33 pm

How was that "New Deal Capitalism" doing by 1979? Pretty bad.

True. And currently the return to the New Deal is impossible as "management class" is now allied with the owners of the capital. The tectonic plates shifted

So neoliberalism proved to be a resilient social system even in its current zombie state, which it entered after 2008 when the neoliberal ideology was discredited.

But the problem is that for most people (other then, say top 10% of population) the cure was worse then the disease.

Can you please look at William Kleinknecht's book "The Man Who Sold the World: Ronald Reagan and the Betrayal of Main Street America." It's just $3 on Amazon (used.)

Ronald Reagan, when the layers of myth are peeled away, was ar-
guably the least patriotic president in American history. He laid the
foundation for a new global economic order in which nationhood
would gradually become meaningless. He enacted policies that helped
wipe out the high-paving jobs for the working class that were the real
backbone of the country.

This supposed guardian of traditional values was the architect of wrenching social change that swept across the country in the 1980s, the emergence of an eerie, overcommercialized, postmodern America that has left so much of the populace psychically adrift.

Reagan propelled the transition to hypercapitalism, an epoch in which the forces of self-interest and profit seek to make a final rout of traditional human values. His legacy -- mergers, deregulation, tax
cuts for the wealthy, privatization, globalization -- helped weaken the
family and eradicate small-town life and the sense of community.

[Mar 15, 2020] The Companies Putting Profits Ahead of Public Health

Mar 14, 2020 | www.nytimes.com

As the coronavirus spreads, the public interest requires employers to abandon their longstanding resistance to paid sick leave.

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values . It is separate from the newsroom.

Most American restaurants do not offer paid sick leave. Workers who fall sick face a simple choice: Work and get paid or stay home and get stiffed. Not surprisingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2014 that fully 20 percent of food service workers had come to work at least once in the previous year " while sick with vomiting or diarrhea ."

As the new coronavirus spreads across the United States, the time has come for restaurants, retailers and other industries that rely on low-wage labor to abandon their parsimonious resistance to paid sick leave. Companies that do not pay sick workers to stay home are endangering their workers, their customers and the health of the broader public. Studies show that paying for sick employees to stay home significantly reduces the spread of the seasonal flu. There's every reason to think it would help to check the new coronavirus, too.

[Mar 15, 2020] COVID-19 epidemic promote cooperation and as such should be viewed as the second stage of the collapse of neoliberalism

Mar 15, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

Some people see the world as an infinite number of prize fights, each with one winner and one loser. For them life is an unending series of these zero-sum games. Unfortunately, one of these people is the President of the United States.

One example of something that is not a zero-sum game is a global pandemic. Someone else's sickness is for me not a gain but a threat. No nation gains from the toll in another nation. To fight against the contagion, the main weapon is cooperation, on all levels, from interpersonal to international. On the international level, sharing resources and information is essential, because any vulnerability of any nation threatens the people of all other nations.

The nations fighting one another in World War I thought the opposite. So each one, including the US, treated the growing epidemic of 1918 as a military secret. The existence of the killer virus became public only because Spain, which was not one of the warring nations, refused to censor news about the disease. Estimates of death from the 1918 pandemic range from 17 million to 100 million. The war directly killed 53,000 Americans. The virus killed between 500,000 and 675,000 Americans. A deeper look would reveal that the ravages of the war, together with the perverted culture of war, were the pandemic's greatest enablers, if not its causes.

Today we no longer fight wars on the grand scale of World Wars I and II, the Korea War, the Vietnam War, and the Iraq War, at least for a couple of decades. We mainly fight what are called, euphemistically, low-intensity wars and trade wars. The United States in particular has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to destroy the economy and infrastructure of entire nations, even such developed nations as Venezuela and Iran, using only subversion, bribery, boycotts, sabotage, disinformation, and tariffs.

This raises some questions too big to answer well in a brief essay. Question 1: Didn't this present preferred war-fighting strategy in fact destroy the Soviet Union, making the United States the winner of the Cold War? There were three attempts to use conventional armies to destroy to the Soviet Union. First was the coordinated invasion, launched in 1918 by Britain, France, the US, Japan, Australian, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Serbia, Italy, Poland, Greece, and Romania. Second was the series of invasions by Japan, beginning in 1931 and ending with the Soviet destruction of Japan's 6 th Army in the historic Battle of Khalkin Gol in August 1939. Finally came the invasion by the Nazi juggernaut that had just easily conquered all its European adversaries. The USSR defeated even this military colossus in the decisive battle of World War II. Yet forty-five years of the Cold War left the USSR a dismembered giant corpse. Thus the second question: Could the strategy of Cold War destroy China, the latest contender to be the world's largest and most technologically advanced nation? Even before Covid-19 arrived, Trump's economic and political warfare against China was seriously damaging the Chinese economy as well as inflicting significant damage on its own. This leads to the most important question.

There was certainly a loser in the Cold War. But was the United States a winner? Looking at our abysmal health care statistics (including life expectancy, infant mortality, obesity, drug addiction, and suicide), our collapsing infrastructure, our disgraceful public education and public ignorance, the grotesque inequality between the one percent and everyone else, and our dysfunctional political system, one might ask: What did we win? And what would our nation look like today if, instead of the Cold War, we had extended the wartime cooperation with the USSR? The only certain outcome of the Cold War is that both Russia and the United States each still possess a doomsday weapon that continually threatens to wipe out human civilization and perhaps our species.

Which brings us back to today's bleak scene of crashing stock markets, a tragic-comic US election, and a disease threatening our personal freedom, our social pleasures, and our lives. China, seriously weakened by the US trade and political wars, made the same mistake as the World War I belligerent nations: trying to keep Covid-19 a secret. The Trump administration, among many other blunders and gaffes, is now making a worse and truly incomprehensible mistake: maintaining the tariffs and the rest of the trade war.

It is making the same mistake in relation to Iran. Before Covid-19 hit, the US had succeeded in wrecking much of Iran's economy and infrastructure, leaving that nation unable to contain the disease. The zero-sum game thinking behind this US policy hardly helps us win the game of death the virus is playing against us.

Trump's continuation of his trade war with China is also directly damaging the US and global economies, thus significantly exacerbating the crash of stock markets at home and around the world. This should be obvious to Washington policy makers, but perhaps not to someone who inherited 412 million dollars and proceeded to go bankrupt multiple times.

Trump is now blaming the stock market crashes on the media and Democrats for allegedly exaggerating the dangers of the virus. Covid-19 is certainly the event that triggered the crashes and it will certainly worsen the recession that now threatens. But remember that before the virus struck, there were already numerous warnings of both wildly overvalued markets and a possible recession looming in the months ahead. US manufacturing indices were already contracting. The Trump Administration was handing out tens of billions of dollars to bail out American farmers, to make up for their loss of markets due to Chinese retaliation. The yield curve had already inverted twice, usually a reliable indicator of coming recession. Long-term interest rates were so low that they were giving the lie to stock market's wild euphoria (which often precedes a major selloff or crash). Trump desperately sought to keep the markets fat and happy and to postpone any recession until after his reelection. That's why he was furiously bullying to Fed to cut interest rates drastically. He even urged the Fed to push into negative yield territory.

Now think back to late 2007 and 2008, when eight years of Republican recklessness in war and finance came perilously close to destroying the global banking system and did succeed in crashing the markets and plunging the nation, and the global economy, into what's now called the Great Recession, the worst recession since the Depression of 1929 and the 1930s. The only one major nation that steered clear of recession was China. While demand was collapsing around the world, it was China, acting like some super engine, that pulled the global economy out of the quagmire. Continuing to wage economic war against China today is thus suicidally insane.

Neither Covid-19 nor a major recession poses a threat to our survival as a species. We do, however, face two existential threats, both created by our species, and each featuring our nation in the lead role. At the very moment when only global unity and cooperation can save us from threats of nuclear holocaust and environmental devastation, deadly nationalism is tearing our species apart. Can Covid-19 teach us that those two great menaces to our existence are also not zero-sum games? That our species either wins or we, as well as many other species, all lose?

[Mar 14, 2020] This is a transformational moment in history that will allow American politics to socialize and turn away resolutely from the anti-government stupidity represented by Trump and all the anti-New Deal elements among the elite predators that have dominated politically since Reagan

Notable quotes:
"... This is a transformational moment in history that will allow American politics to socialize and turn away resolutely from the anti-government stupidity represented by Trump and all the anti-New Deal elements among the elite predators that have dominated politically since Reagan. It is a mistake to chose Biden, chief author of the Patriot Act, business-as-usual candidate, corporate lackey, weasel. ..."
Mar 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

jadan , Mar 14 2020 2:45 utc | 187

This is a transformational moment in history that will allow American politics to socialize and turn away resolutely from the anti-government stupidity represented by Trump and all the anti-New Deal elements among the elite predators that have dominated politically since Reagan. It is a mistake to chose Biden, chief author of the Patriot Act, business-as-usual candidate, corporate lackey, weasel.

Bernie is the only rational choice, but the American people are not rational, and do not yet understand the urgency of a radical left turn. Much suffering will be the result and a radical right turn could occur, although disenchantment with the blithering idiocy of Donald Trump has already deprived him of any chance of re-election. The virus is going to take him down before profound political embarrassment. He's a dead man walking.This may be true of Bernie & Biden as well, but I say this without prejudice.

The Chinese clearly knew the character of this virus before it became apparent to the world. They did not react so swiftly or dramatically to earlier outbreaks like SARS, swine flu, avian flu and etc. They had prior knowledge of the potential of nCov2019. The US did not.

Why do we have a National Security Council or a Department of Homeland Security if they cannot read the writing on the wall? It was an accidental release of a weaponized virus. The US should have taken a cue and reacted with similar conviction shown by the CCP. But we have no leadership worth a shit.

Our representative republic has suffered an embarrassment in this failure to protect the people while a so-called national enemy, a communist dictatorship, has demonstrated more effective leadership and greater capability to protect its people. This is more than an embarrassment. It is an indictment of our political system.

It is time to turn sharply left to social democracy.

[Mar 14, 2020] Congress discard neoliberalism and jump into direct the New Deal Style action

Mar 14, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

"Every aspect of modern life is being hit as sweeping measures are rolled out in an effort to stem the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump declared a national emergency Friday "to unleash the full power of the federal government."
"No resource will be spared, nothing whatsoever," the president said as stocks rose sharply, regaining some of their recent losses.


Hours later, the House overwhelmingly approved legislation to give direct relief to Americans impacted by the spreading virus. Central to the aid package are free testing and sick pay guarantee for Americans affected.


People who are sick with the virus and have to be treated or quarantined would qualify for the sick pay benefit, which requires employers to offer 14 days of sick leave at "not less" than two-thirds of an employee's normal pay. Others who would qualify for paid sick leave are those who need to be home to care for a child whose school or childcare center has closed, and those who need to leave their jobs to take care of a family member infected with the virus.


The legislation offers three months of paid family and medical leave. And small and mid-sized employers would be reimbursed through tax credits." CBSNEWS


J , 14 March 2020 at 01:10 PM

Here's a link that I hope will be helpful to those wondering.

CoronaVirus.Gov

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

robt willmann , 14 March 2020 at 02:40 PM
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act appears to be in Title 42, U.S. Code, Chapter 68--

https://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?path=/prelim@title42/chapter68&edition=prelim

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/chapter-68

ST Harris , 14 March 2020 at 02:57 PM
And don't forget the amped up Fed repo purchasing, the fed had been trying to pull back on these since late last year, but this means max power QE2 through 2020, for better and for worse:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/overall-fed-temporary-liquidity-rises-to-283-1-billion-11584021405

[Mar 14, 2020] Erik Olin Wright and the Anti-capitalist Economy by Edward J. Martin

the idea the neoliberalism is "internal colonialism" is a very important one.
Mar 14, 2020 | dissidentvoice.org

/ March 12th, 2020

The devastating effects of neoliberal economic schemes have laid the foundation for rebellion against this very system. Neoliberalism, understood as unrestricted free market economics can be traced to the sixteenth-century European colonization of the "new world" and its later manifestation in imperialism and neo-imperialism. This strategy has also fueled the industrial revolution until it met its fate with the Great Depression. The New Deal policies of the Roosevelt administration in the 1930s provided a temporary reprieve, but ultimately failed to secure a permanent solution to market failure. The proof of this vulnerability is made clear in the Great Recession some seventy years later with the market collapse in 2008.

In spite of these historical calamities, the rich have amazingly benefitted from their own economic disaster while the middle class and poor have been forced to financially both suffer from economic devastation and, adding insult to injury, bare the cost of repairing the disaster the rich have visited upon them. The rich, power elite, or one percent, whatever the spin, are clearly waging economic war on the people, and this has been dragging itself out since the inception of the United States. Today the result for most citizens is the lived reality of being "liquid asset poor," or put in other terms, "one paycheck away from disaster." Moreover, the devastation of the administrative state over the past forty years, starting with the Reagan era, has been a major factor in destroying the social safety net and in so doing unleash the "animal spirits" of the free market.

It is obvious. The neoliberal economic model is destroying life for Americans and some form of resistance to capitalism is needed more than ever. To this Erik Olin Wright develops an anti-capitalist strategy using metaphors such as: smashing capitalism, taming capitalism, escaping capitalism, and eroding capitalism . In this Wright constructs a new conceptual model based on two of the metaphors, "taming and eroding" capitalism. 1

Smashing Capitalism

The evidence that neoliberal and monopoly capitalism has historically devastated the lives of people, "smashing capitalism" is understandable. The reason for smashing capitalism is because it is a corrupt institution; reform is impossible since it is controlled by the interests of powerful elites. At times small reforms are possible through public policy, yet such reforms are contingent and subject to legislative change. Wright argues that policy in this regard is held captive by its elite clientele and international elites. This makes public policy unresponsive to the needs of the general public. In lieu of this, "smashing capitalism" through class struggle seems to be the only alternative. The idea that capitalism can be rendered a benign social order to which ordinary people benefit is a delusion. Instead the rational alternative is to end the life of capitalism and then reconstruct a state socialist alternative.

Aside from the strengths and weaknesses of revolutionary action, there are too many "moving parts," too much complexity, and too many unintended consequences in which revolutionary action, directed at terminating capitalism, is not feasible. Attempts at "system rupture" as Wright describes it, will tend to unravel into such chaos that revolutionary elites, regardless of their motives, will be compelled to resort to pervasive violence and repression to sustain social order. Such violence, in turn, destroys the possibility for a genuinely democratic, participatory process of building a new society. The evidence from the revolutionary tragedies of the twentieth century seem to indicate that smashing capitalism , according to Wright, fails as a strategy for social emancipation.

Taming Capitalism

An alternative to smashing capitalism is taming capitalism. Critics of capitalism argue that capitalism is self-destructive. It generates levels of inequality that undermine social cohesion. Capitalism destroys traditional jobs and leaves people to fend for themselves. It creates uncertainty and risk for individuals and communities. These are consequences of the inherent dynamics of a capitalist economy. Nevertheless, Wright argues that it is possible to build counteracting institutions neutralizing the negative externalities of capitalism. Well-crafted policies are more than possible at taming capitalism. Given favorable political circumstances, it is possible to win policy battles and impose the constraints needed for a more benign form of capitalism. The idea of taming capitalism does not eliminate the underlying tendency for capitalism to generate harms; it simply counteracts their effects.

This is similar to a medicine which effectively deals with symptoms rather than underlying causes. Known as the "Golden Age of Capitalism" – roughly the three decades following World War II – social-democratic policies, specifically in those locations where they were most thoroughly implemented, did a fairly good job at moving in the direction of a more humane economic system. Three clusters of state policies, in particular, that significantly counteracted the harm of capitalism are: health, employment, and income. So too, the state provided an expansive set of public goods (funded by a robust tax system) that included basic and higher education, vocational skill formation, public transportation, cultural activities, recreational facilities, research and development, and macro-economic stability. In large part the corporate media is to blame. Educational institutions as well. Still, for Wright taming capitalism remains a viable expression of anti-capitalism.

Escaping Capitalism

One of the oldest responses to the onslaught of capitalism has been to escape. For Wright, escaping capitalism may not have crystallized into systematic anti-capitalist ideologies, but nevertheless it has a coherent logic: capitalism is too powerful a system to destroy. Truly taming capitalism would require a level of sustained collective action that is unrealistic, and albeit, the system as a whole is too large and complex to control. The power elite control the United States and they will always coopt opposition and defend their privileges. The impulse to escape is reflected in many familiar responses to the harms of capitalism. For example, the movement of farmers to the Western frontier in nineteenth-century United States was, for many, an aspiration for stable, self-sufficient subsistence farming rather than production for the market.

Escaping capitalism is implicit in the "hippie" motto of the 1960s, "turn on, tune in, drop out." The "Go It Alone" demeanor and the "community economy" may be motivated by stagnant individual incomes during a period of economic austerity, but they can also point to ways of organizing economic activity that are less dependent on market exchange. More generally, the lifestyle of voluntary simplicity can contribute to broader rejection of consumerism and the preoccupation with economic growth in capitalism. Fleeing from the complexities and even injustices associated with capitalism will, in the long run, fail to address the deeper structural issues that could in fact return to promote worse outcomes from prior experiences. Escaping capitalism fails to address the underlying causes of capitalism's inadequacies and the outcomes that effect other's lives whatever their perspectives on capitalism.

Eroding Capitalism

The fourth form of anti-capitalism is the least familiar, eroding capitalism. This orientation for Wright, identifies capitalism as a socioeconomic system organized around three basic components: private ownership of capital; production for the market for the purpose of making profits; and employment of workers who do not own the means of production. Capitalists claim that markets are the most efficient and effective means for the distribution of scarce resources. The same capitalists, on the other hand, must confront problems with the distribution and equity of these resources. As a result, public policy has attempted to address these issues through what Wright describes as the "eroding capitalism" theme: policy implementations to remediate market failures. This includes nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations.

A number of these organizations can be thought of as hybrids, composed of capitalist and non-capitalist entities; some are non-capitalist while some are anti-capitalist. Thus, the eroding force on capitalism is to construct more inclusive, democratic, egalitarian, economic models wherever possible, and to struggle to expand and defend these efforts to the point where capitalism is no longer dominant. The eroding process evolves over time. As a strategic vision, eroding capitalism is both enticing and far-fetched in that social justice and emancipatory social change, attempt to build on a new world on economic and environmental justice, within the current capitalist structure, albeit flawed. Simply put, an economy dominated by capitalism could never be eliminated since the existence of large capitalist corporations are responsible, to a large degree, for livelihoods.

Eroding capitalism is not a fantasy for Wright. It is only plausible if it is combined with the social-democratic idea of taming capitalism , linking the bottom-up, society-centered strategic vision of anarchism with the top-down, state-centered strategic logic of social democracy. The goal is to tame capitalism in ways that make it more erodible so that eroding and taming capitalism, without its total elimination, is a position that makes sense in the context of understanding this position as a "pipedream" or "utopia."

Taming and Eroding

So, how should one as an anti-capitalist seek to implement a democratic economy?

First, abandon the fantasy of smashing capitalism. Capitalism is not able to be smashed, at least if the goal is to construct an emancipatory future aimed at social justice. It is a massive international institution whose destruction, presumably by some revolutionary force, would devastate the world financial system. Second, by escaping capitalism and moving off the grid and minimizing involvement with the market, is neither a realistic nor an appealing option for most people, especially those with families, financial responsibilities, etc. As a tactic for social change, it has little potential to foster a broader process of social emancipation.

In summary, if persons are concerned about living in a civilized world, in one way or another, social justice demands that capitalism, as it manifests itself today on a global scale, must address its inner demons, structures and institutions. Anti-capitalism thus directs its attention to taming and eroding capitalism . The real utopian emancipatory efforts can be directed at democratic economic models that serve the needs of labor as a priority, profits follow subsequently. This arguably is the best approach to remediating the precarious nature of the market and which also presumes that individuals and communities need to participate both in political movements for taming capitalism through public policies and in socioeconomic projects for eroding capitalism through the expansion of ongoing emancipatory forms of economic activity. This implies that people must renew an energetic progressive social democracy that not only neutralizes the harms of capitalism but also facilitates initiatives to build real utopias with the potential to erode the dominance of capitalism.

An anti-capitalist emancipatory project must have specific human rights guarantees in order for this emancipatory project to be successful. As Bernie Sanders argues, authentic freedom must embrace "economic security." Arguably, this can best be achieved with the reintroduction of FDR's Economic Bill of Rights. Hence the assurance of a democratic economy and an anti-capitalist strategy based on taming and eroding the inherent contradictions and nihilistic direction of capitalist designs.

  1. Erik Olin Wright, How to Be an Anti-capitalist for the 21st Century , Verso Books, 2019. [ ]
Edward J. Martin, Ph.D. is Professor of Public Policy and Administration, California State University, Long Beach, Graduate Center for Public Policy and Administration. His areas of research include political economy, sustainable development, welfare policy, and inequality. He is Editor-in-Chief for the International Journal of Economic Development. His publications have appeared in New Political Science, Contemporary Justice Review, International Journal of Public Administration, and Social Policy. He is co-author of Savage State: Welfare Capitalism and Inequality and Capitalism and Critique: Unruly Democracy and Solidarity Economics. Read other articles by Edward J. .

This article was posted on Thursday, March 12th, 2020 at 3:32pm and is filed under Book Review , Capitalism , Neoliberalism .

[Mar 13, 2020] This virus is revealing just how ineffective the neoliberal social Darwinist "every man for himself" ethos is and how deeply in denial and out of touch with reality these societies are

Mar 13, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Daniel , Mar 13 2020 22:16 utc | 138

@Joanne Leon 15
The explosion of hate and blame and fear flying around online with regard to this pandemic is more than alarming and ultimately useless and damaging. In a way it scares me more than the flu itself at the moment because of the implications of how it will hinder our ability to cooperate and deal with this.

That's a good point. Western society with its twisted guiding philosophy of radical individualism and competition combined with a supremacist "that could never happen here" attitude quickly falls into panicked chaos when reality kicks in and reveals the society's underlying vulnerabilities. Countries with weak social safety nets and an ideological opposition to social responsibility are extremely vulnerable to systemic breakdown when their societies are under unexpected stress.

This virus is revealing just how ineffective the neoliberal social Darwinist "every man for himself" ethos is and how deeply in denial and out of touch with reality these societies are. Additionally, the house of cards that makes up the global economy has been in crisis mode since 2008, when it was bailed out by massive money printing in the US and EU and China pumping billions of dollars into the economy to keep it afloat, simply can't handle any additional stressors without going into breakdown mode.

In this kind of situation where clear headed cooperation and mutual effort are required the opposite happens and people go into panic and finger pointing mode looking for some external enemy to blame. Just imagine what will happen if global warming turns out to be as serious as many are predicting.

[Mar 13, 2020] Free trade suddenly seems like a dangerous fantasy, as nations start putting their own people first

Mar 13, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

It may one day be said that the coronavirus delivered the death blow to the New World Order, to a half-century of globalization, and to the era of interdependence of the world's great nations.

Tourism, air travel, vacation cruises, international gatherings, and festivals are already shutting down. Travel bans between countries and continents are being imposed. Conventions, concerts, and sporting events are being canceled. Will the Tokyo Olympics go forward? If they do, will all the anticipated visitors from abroad come to Japan to enjoy the games?

Trump has issued a one-month travel ban on Europe.

As for the "open borders" crowd, do Democrats still believe that breaking into our country should no longer be a crime, and that immigrants arriving illegally should be given free health care, a proposition to which all the Democratic debaters raised their hands?

The ideological roots of our free trade era can be traced to the mid-19th century, when its great evangelist, Richard Cobden, rose at Free Trade Hall in Manchester on January 15, 1846, and rhapsodized: "I see in the Free Trade principle that which shall act on the moral world as the principle of gravitation in the universe -- drawing men together, thrusting aside the antagonism of race, and creed, and language, and uniting us in the bonds of eternal peace."

In the pre-Trump era, Republicans held hands with liberal Democrats in embracing NAFTA, GATT, the WTO, and most favored nation trade privileges for China.

In retrospect, was it wise to have relied on China to produce essential parts for the supply chains of goods vital to our national security? Does it appear wise to have moved the production of pharmaceuticals and lifesaving drugs for heart disease, strokes, and diabetes to China? Does it appear wise to have allowed China to develop a virtual monopoly on rare earth minerals crucial to the development of weapons for our defense?

In this coronavirus pandemic, people now seem to be looking for authoritative leaders and nations seem to be looking out for their own peoples first. Would Merkel today invite a million Syrian refugees into Germany no matter the conditions under which they were living?

Is not the case now conclusive that we made a historic mistake when we outsourced our economic independence to rely for vital necessities upon nations that have never had America's best interests at heart?

Which rings truer today? We are all part of mankind, all citizens of the world. Or that it's time to put America and Americans first!

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.


EdMan 11 hours ago

Wiping out the NWO and discrediting globalism's the silver lining to the dark cloud of the coronavirus.
IanDakar EdMan 8 hours ago
Which leaders have been speaking of ways to reverse the ways of globalism and how close are they to obtaining power? This is going to require a changing of the elites fro mthe ones who are and will continue to push this form of globalism to the ones that are willing to switch to a new system.

(there will always be an elite. It's just a question of which ones you let wield power as not all of them are the type that we carry.)

AlexanderHistory X 8 hours ago
Unfortunately a ton of people are still espousing open borders globalism. This includes a large number of visible elites, the vast majority, in fact.
The best thing that could happen is that those who espouse such dangerous ideas are held to account by nature. Let them get sick with the Wu flu, let them be unable to attain medication because China has restricted exports to us. Let's see what they think after they have finally begun to experience the ramifications of their ideological thinking.
Awake and Uttering a Song AlexanderHistory X 3 hours ago
The elites will ALWAYS have access to medication they need. Most of them will NEVER "experience ramifications" in any way more than minor inconveniences.
Don Quijote 6 hours ago
Considering that you can get from New York City to Tokyo in under 24 hours, and that there are no major city on the Planet that cannot be reached from the lower forty-eight in under 48 hours, how do you intend to reverse globalism? Ban airplanes, telephones and the internet-based communications?

Because short of that, Globalism is here to stay.

[Mar 11, 2020] Neoliberal v Neoclassical economics - what's the difference - Renegade Inc

Mar 11, 2020 | renegadeinc.com

Neoliberal v Neoclassical economics – what's the difference? By Claire Connelly Economics & Finance | Loading Bookmark to dashboard

Neoliberalism and neo-classical economics are often terms that are used interchangeably by various economists and financial writers, but actually, there are important differences between the two. We've had some requests from readers to make that distinction more obvious, so here goes

Neo-classical economic theory puts 'man' as a rational human being at the heart of the economic system, extrapolating the functions of the economy based on optimised behaviour of rational, well-informed individuals trading with one in another in what is effectively a barter system (which as I'm sure we all know by now, never actually existed ). It is based on the general equilibrium model pioneered by late 19th century economist Leon Walras , of the Lausanne School. Ironically, neoclassical economics guarantees full employment because it models a system with no frictions or inconveniences like trade unions, minimum wage laws or imperfect information. Also false.

It also guarantees that society will find an optimal allocation of resources on its own, so long as markets are competitive, and there are no externalities, like pollution, which go unaccounted for.

Neoclassicists are concerned about monopoly power, neoliberals are not. Neoclassicists believe it merits government intervention and regulation. Neoliberals, do not.

It is possible to be a neoclassical without being a neoliberal.

The most important thing to understand is that neoliberalism is a post-war political movement that grew out of the Mont Pelerin Society , a thought collective that formed a consensus not to put the market at the centre of the state, but to take it over completely. Its entire objective is to co-opt economics and subvert the public interest to suit the needs of powerful capitalist institutions and the politicians, economists, financiers, philosophers, bankers, think-tanks and media organisations that support them.

Neoliberalism is associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism and was pioneered by economist Milton Friedman & Friedrich Hayeck, but as the economic historian, Philip Mirowski points out, this is a deliberate deception to trick people into thinking it is concerned about market equilibrium.

It is the doctrine by which white collar crime has been allowed to prosper unprosecuted while governments of wealthy nations like the US and UK have abdicated their responsibility for employment, health care, education and the general well-being of the populations they are supposedly elected to serve. In their minds, government exists only to maintain property rights, defend capitalists and maintain price stability, (which apparently doesn't count as intervention when it works in the favour of the wealthy).

We are what we eat, well, in free market terms anyway
Whilst 90% of the US media (film, TV and radio) is controlled by only 6 companies.

Unlike neoclassicists and neoliberals, heterodox economists and other post-Keynesians, reject the notion of general equilibrium. They believe the economy evolves through non-equilibrium states over time. Heterodox economists believe governments need to introduce instability-thwarting mechanisms to stabilise the economy, maintain full employment, and retain social equity.

"Free-market economists may want you to believe that the correct boundaries of the market can be scientifically determined, but this is incorrect," writes institutional economist, Ha-Joon Chang, in his book 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism .

https://www.youtube.com/embed/J7m9wfFnH6o

"If the boundaries of what you are studying cannot be scientifically determined, what you are doing is not a science," writes the Cambridge University economist.

"Recognising that the boundaries of the market are ambiguous and cannot be determined in an objective way lets us realise that economics is not a science like physics or chemistry, but a political exercise."

In other words, a strong economy requires constant time, attention, assessment, and when it is called for, intervention. The rules will not always be the same, nor the causes. But it helps to start with an understanding of the role and purpose of government spending and taxation .

Further Listening

Listen to this interview economic historian Philip Mirowski who delves into the further nuances of these economic mindsets.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/cf2YQ-1wvrc?feature=oembed

Claire Connelly Claire Connelly Claire Connelly is the lead writer of Renegade Inc. An award-winning freelance journalist, speaker, and founder of subscription journalism experiment, Hello Humans.

Specialising in economics, technology and policy, Connelly is working on her first book due out in 2018.

With more than a decade of experience under her belt, Claire has written for leading publications including The Australian Financial Review, The Saturday Paper, ABC, SBS, Crikey, New Matilda, VICE & others. She is the co-host of The Week In Start-Ups Australia, and features regularly as a commentator on TV and radio shows including Radio National's Download This Show, ABC's The Drum, Ten's The Project, and more. Claire Connelly Latest posts by Claire Connelly ( see all )

Posted in Economics & Finance Tagged Economic Policy , Free Market , laissez-faire , Mont Perin Society , Neoclassical Economics , Neoliberalism 15 thoughts on "Neoliberal v Neoclassical economics – what's the difference?"
  1. Pingback: Renegade Inc: Neoliberal v Neoclassical economics – what's the difference? – Brave New Europe
  2. Tom Woods says: March 19, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    What were Hayek's contributions to capital theory? Just wondering. I have never encountered a single person who speaks of "neoliberalism" (a term we ourselves never use to describe what we believe) who has read a single word of Hayek's economic work. Or who even knows who Ludwig von Mises is.

    (Whenever the two economists mentioned are Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek, I know I'm dealing with somebody who hasn't read anything.) Reply

    1. Dave says: March 19, 2018 at 8:07 pm

      But of course you have read everything and know all, right Tom ? What specifically is wrong with this account ? If you can't dispute anything within the piece why do you attempt to dismiss it out of hand by implying without a shred of evidence what someone has or hasn't read ? How could you possibly know what someone has read or hasn't ? Reply

    2. David Blobaum says: March 19, 2018 at 8:57 pm

      (Whenever someone disqualifies someone else based on assumption I know I'm dealing with bruised ego) Reply

    3. John Giles says: March 20, 2018 at 6:13 am

      What actually is "capital theory", Tom. Why don't you use the term 'neoliberalism?
      Why do you think Claire hasn't heard of Mises and why would it be important anyway? Mises and the Austrian School are part of the problem that the article refers to. Reply

  3. Alan Luchetti says: March 20, 2018 at 12:13 am

    "(Whenever the two economists mentioned are Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek, I know I'm dealing with somebody who hasn't read anything.)"

    I think you meant "dealing to".

    And why so ignorant of Hayek on capital theory? 😉 Reply

  4. Hoobert Herver says: March 20, 2018 at 9:38 pm

    Sorry. I just don't believe even smart people can manage markets. That's the nature of markets: they are individual. If you haven't read Von Mises or Hayek, you're missing out on the thinking of two very smart people. It is hard for me to embrace the idea that – because a market doesn't seem to function as a person might want it to – persons should be given authority to govern those markets in a way that suits them. That, in itself, distorts the market. Reply

  5. Bob Kaufman says: March 21, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    I am responding to an article by you in today's The Automatic Earth about the vengeance of capitalism. I could not get the response area to work so that is why I am coming to you this way.

    You write eloquently and I see the creation of increasing suffering due to a form of capitalism and class privilege in America and globally. I have read and listened to Keen, Hudson and Kelton. From my review they all approach the ability of a nation that controls their own currency as an ability to create an unlimited amount of money to use to reduce human suffering with no discussion of the ultimate end game if we continue to do so.

    There is a lot of suffering now and because of climate change, increasing usurping of jobs by technology and global resource depletion and more a lot more suffering may be coming our way.

    How much money are they (and you) thinking of creating?

    What are the implications of creating money at a much more rapid pace than we have been with no upper limits in sight?

    What are the upper limits of money creation? How would we know?

    Our present system of capitalism and privilege is like a drug. It feels good at the start but kills us in the end,

    I am fearful that an addiction to the unlimited or substantial and on going use of money created from thin air will do the same.

    What say you?

    PS: Please accept with compassion all the typos that are probably in this note. Reply

    1. Dave says: March 28, 2018 at 4:46 am

      You keep forgetting that having the ability to create money also gives you the ability to destroy that same money. What is collected in tax revenue is destroyed. More money is issued to create infrastructure. The deficit in a country that can create it's own currency is really just a ratio of what is collected(destroyed) and what is created(spent).
      Now ask yourself what happens when you quit destroying money and keep right on creating it Reply

  6. Youri says: March 23, 2018 at 12:40 am

    great article Claire! love your articles at New Matilda by the way, and enjoyed your interview at Redacted Tonight and love Renegade INC at RT 🙂 Reply

  7. Cliff Cobb says: March 26, 2018 at 6:38 am

    The aim of distinguishing neoclassical and neolilberal is of merit. The interview with Mirowski makes clear, however, that that are numerous strands of neoliberalism that overlap with each other, with some drawing on neoclassical arguments, and others having a different starting point. But it is not clear to me that all of them agree on the market fundamentalism, which is generally regarded as the defining characteristic of neoliberalism. Was Joseph Schumpeter a neoliberal? His ideas about entrepreneurship have probably done more to make monopoly respectable than the parallel work of von Mises. Schumpeter's thought has entered the mainstream in the U.S. via Peter Drucker, who thought the modern corporation was the engine of all forms of human progress. In Germany, Ordo-liberalism was another form of neoliberalism that called for a strong state. Was this self-contradiction? What I find frustrating in most discussions on the Left of these thinkers is the inability or unwillingness to recognize the ***partial*** validity of their ideas. On the particular subject of government interference to protect against monopoly power, it was Gabriel Kolko, a socialist, who first showed in 1962 that Progressives were responsible for the national monopolies that emerged around 1900. Even now, progressives fail to comprehend the many ways in which regulation benefits big business and stifles small business. Designing regulations that do more social and environmental good than harm is much harder than most progressives seem to recognize. Analyzing the sociology and politics of neoliberal organizations, as Mirowski does, gets us no closer to finding way to create effective government programs that do not simultaneously feed the leviathan of an expansive state. I would very much like to know which heterodox economists are actually addressing the tough problems we face rather than defining the boundaries between neoclassical thought and their own domain.. Reply

  8. Chris Auld says: May 30, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    There are a very large number of errors in this piece. Fundamentally, what is described as "neoclassical economics" is actually just one model, Walras' circa 1870 general equilibrium model. If one defines neoclassical economics as equivalent to that one model, then there has never been a single neoclassical economist, as absolutely no one limits attention to that one model.

    The body of research most actual economists would describe as "neoclassical economics" encompasses an enormous body of work which posits that some social phenomena can be understood as emergent results of individual, intentional behavior. That research includes literally thousands of papers studying the phenomena the author wrongly believes are simply excluded by assumption, such as unemployment, unions, minimum wage laws, and imperfect information. There is an entire field, Public Economics, devoted to the study of "the role and purpose of government spending and taxation."

    The idea that government can and should "introduce instability-thwarting mechanisms to stabilize the economy, maintain full employment, and retain social equity" is also, contrary to the article's assumptions, very much part of mainstream, neoclassical thought, and has been for almost a century.

    After having implicitly defined mainstream economics as solely the study of a single 1870 model, the article then also misrepresents heterodox economics. Notably, the Marxian economist (less than 1% of all economists) such as Chang do not "reject the notion of general equilibrium". Marxian analysis is explicitly grounded in general equilibrium, both in Marx's work and in modern neo-Marxian form, and can be expressed in the same analytical framework as the Walrasian model (see for example: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1911113?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents ).

    The article is correct that neoliberalism is a strain of political thought, and not economics at all: they're not even the same type of thing, much the same thing. That's all the article ought to say -- it gets everything about what economists think, and what neoclassical economics is, really, really wrong.

    Chris Auld
    Department of Economics
    University of Victoria Reply

    1. Steven says: May 31, 2018 at 12:24 pm

      Chris, your criticism is so misleading.

      Most though not all mainstream economics is neoclassical economics.

      Neoclassical economics is based on marginalism, or optimising behaviour, expected utility theory, and either implicit or explicit general equilibrium analysis. The economy, in the absence of frictions, would behave like a stable equilibrium system. In a macroeconomic sense, this is the basis of all versions of the neoclassical synthesis, including second generation dynamic stochastic general equilibrium models.

      These models all have Walrasian and Wicksellian roots. They all assume optimising behaviour. They always adopt the ergodic hypothesis and these days adopt rational expectations formation. Not only that, they have all been constructed in defiance of what we know about the history and nature of money; they all ignore ontological uncertainty, in the Keynesian sense; they all exclude genuinely endogenous financial instability and crisis; they are biased towards an essentially technological explanation of income distribution; they all incorporate a natural or non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment; they all exhibit long run money neutrality; they all incorporate an efficient markets approach to financial markets.

      There are of course elements of what some would regard these days as mainstream economics which don't fit under the neoclassical banner. However, for the most part, mainstream = neoclassicism.

      The greatest divide between neoclassical economics and genuine (i.e. not 'new') institutional economics, is the F-twist of Milton Friedman – the notion that unrealistic axiomatic foundations in some sense don't matter, and neither does an approach which does not naturally incorporate realistic institutions.

      Of course, economists using a neoclassical frame have things to say about unemployment, minimum wages, etc. But, as Hyman Minsky put it, "The game of policy making is rigged; the theory used determines the questions that are asked and the options that are presented. The prince is constrained by the theory of his intellectuals."

      You accuse the author of errors, and I think you are ungenerous – and, more importantly – incorrect. My advice to you is to read Steve Keen's best-seller 'Debunking Economics'. You could even read my 'Economics for Sustainable Prosperity'. If you read these two books, you will be much more aware of the limitations of neoclassical economics, and the rich insights available from the many economists who have worked, and who are working today, outside the neoclassical frame. Reply

  9. Claire says: May 31, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    Hi Chris,

    I highly recommend reading this short piece by Professor Steven Keen:

    http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2009/05/30/why-neoclassical-economics-is-dead/ .

    Or this piece by Lars Syll: https://larspsyll.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/what-is-wrong-with-neoclassical-economics/ .

    Perhaps you will find them useful in understanding why it's questionable that neoclassical economics has anything useful to say about financial stability.

    Kind regards,

    Claire Reply

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