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"One Nation, under Corporate Power, with liberty and justice for a select few"

News Corruption of Regulators Recommended Links Bookshelf National Security State Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Neo-fashism
Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite The Iron Law of Oligarchy Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" New American Caste System The Pareto Law The World as the Grand Chessboard of the American empire
Inverted Totalitarism Media-Military-Industrial Complex Total Surveillance National Socialism and Military Keysianism Totalitarian Decisionism & Human Rights: The Re-emergence of Nazi Law Nation under attack meme Tea Party and right wing rage
Corporatist Corruption Casino Capitalism America’s Financial Oligarchy Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism "Starving the beast" bait and switch Authoritarians American Exceptionalism
Machiavellism Mayberry Machiavellians Neo-theocratic Movements Neo Trotskyism aka Neoconservatism Corporatism quotes Humor Etc


Before XX century Continental Europe has had many right-wing movements, though none with the organization and numbers of corporatism variants. Corporatism is a distinctively different ideology for right wing forces. Until the twentieth century, continental right-wing parties usually simply rejected democratic principles and institutions and preferred monarchies (e.g. France, 1814-48) or authoritarian despotism (e.g. Bonapartism, 1799-1814 and 1851-70). 

In corporatist regimes, which are often one party states (although two parry system with "the first after the post" rule can work as well or even better) this limitation of political representation of folk outside narrow caste of elite is preserved, and any attempt to challenge the elite is skillfully and forcefully (sometimes even brutally) suppressed. Brainwashing of population with particular corporatist ideology is rampant (Mussolini Italy, Hitler Germany).   Interests of ordinary people are suppressed in favor of interests of corporations and are taken into account only if they channeled with corporatist structures, such as large corporations (which actually are dominant political players), (emasulated) trade unions, military,  and political party or parties. Outside of them there is no legitimate political representation.  Each "corporation" is represented by tiny strata of corporate elite, which like mosaic form this society elite.

All economic power and political power belongs to the corporations, whatever this term means. Power of multinational corporation lead existing postwar democracy regimes to becoming an empty shells. Corporations became not only powerful lobbyists and owners of most senators and representatives via contributions to the election complain,  but major insider players in the political establishment. Look at Goldman Sachs as an example of merger of corporation and Washington establishment. Alumni of the corporation essentially dominates Treasury department.  This is something that no economic or political theory advocates in any way but this is the central reality of the USA today. As well as most other countries. Confrontation of interests of large multinational and states is presented as "state vs market" although large multinationas are as far from the concept of free market as state. That ideological trick weakens the position of state. In other words neoliberalism transforms classic corporatism in "neocorporatism".

Military industrial complex in this sense is just another cartel of manufactures and related government agencies and politicians. After the WWI Corporatism became the most popular right-wing economic doctrine in Europe.  And now hunder years later corporatism remain dominant political ideology and social system for the USA and most European states. Neoliberalism in this sense is just a late stage of corporatism that change nothing in dominance of large corporation both in economic sphere and, by extension, in political life. It is just financial oligarchy that comes into forefront instead of traditional manufacturing and connected to it military industrial complex. 

schwitters, 07 April 2013 8:51am

Despite the hysteria whipped up about the evils of the Welfare State it is there because it was underpinned by the democratic process. One person's vote is priceless in a democracy, the greatest medium of exchange that we have is through the ballot box, the ultimate leveller.

The corruption of politics and the placement of power in the hands of the profoundly undemocratic corporate world is leading to an inevitable conclusion and the rise of extreme right wing politics at the heart of society.

The corruption of politics is the single most danger to freedom of all. The Welfare State is there because we voted for it and the consensus was established over decades.

The challenge of resisting the attack on the Welfare State, for instance, is that this attack is a symptom of a much broader malaise in politics, as hinted at in this article. It's the democratic process that is under duress and it is that which needs addressing. Justice will prevail under proper circumstances but it is hard to see where the leadership is going to come from to set about correcting the democratic deficit.

The stakes are that high.

As a political ideology and practice Corporatism initially appeared on historical scene in the form of  Italian fascism and later various Continental fascist regimes (Germany, Spain, Portugal). Later Latin American   regimes of the first half of the twentieth century joins that movement.  In the 60's it got a second breath with the rise to power (via a coup d'état ) of military industrial complex (the moment of violent coup d'état, the assassination of JFK in November 1963, more then 50 years ago is widely considered to be a switch of power to "deep state" ).  Later it was transformed in casino capitalism, a neoliberal flavor of corporatism.

The key question here is how to cope with the new brave world in which democracy is dead and ordinary people

Formally corporatism can be defined as a system of interest representation in which the constituent units are organized into a limited number of compulsory, non competitive, hierarchically ordered and functionally differentiated categories (aka corporations), recognized or licensed (if not created) by the State. They can  be iether granted a deliberate representational monopoly within their respective sphere of interest (labour unions), of grab it due to availability of financial resources (banks and other financial institutions). In exchange they are required to observe certain restrictions and controls on their selection of leaders and articulation of demands (Schmitter, 1979). State under corporatism serves as powerful mediator of various corporate interests and enforcer of the "rules of the game" for corporation. Individual voters do not matter as they can only be represented by corporations. 

Classic corporatism was an extreme-right political movement, ideology, and the corresponding form of government of a dictatorial type. Defining characteristics of which were:

  1. the militaristic nationalism (in the broad sense),
  2. anti-communism,
  3. xenophobia
  4. chauvinism,
  5. a cult of the leader,
  6. contempt for electoral democracy and liberalism,
  7. a belief in the supremacy of the elites and the social hierarchy,
  8. statism. 

The most typical features of the historical corporatism was its strong appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure from lower social groups.  As such it was by-and-large a militant middle-class movement, much like Tea party today expresses "the rage of white middle class" which is losing its economic position in the USA.

Among typical features of such regimes researchers uncovered the following:

  1. Powerful and continuing promotion of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism is carefully stroked up. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in promoting such attitudes. Sometimes it is coupled with a suspicion of foreigners, or particular ethnic group, which often borders on xenophobia.
  2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes views human rights of opponents as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. At the same time, they can promote human right as false flag operation at home and at foreign policy. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses of opponents by marginalizing, even demonizing, nations and groups that are being targeted. When abuse was egregious as was the case in Guantanamo Bay detention camp and Abu Ghraib, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.
  3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people's attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as subversive elements, or terrorists and dealt with accordingly. The methods of choice -- relentless propaganda and disinformation --were usually effective. In addition thos propaganda, fascist the regimes sometimes incite "spontaneous" acts ( aka "pogroms") against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and "terrorists."
  4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.
  5. A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes excesses.
  6. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus under direct control of the ruling elite is the most effective tool for crushing social protest, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting 'national security,' and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.
  7. Religion and ruling elite tied together. Most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as defenders of religion. The fact that the ruling elite's behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda is used to keep up the illusion that the ruling elites are defenders of the faith. A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.
  8. Power of corporations protected, while power of labor is suppressed. Labour unitions are marginalized.  Although the personal life of ordinary citizens is under strict control (police state or national security state), the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom is protected and even enhanced via so called deregulation. The ruling elite saw corporations in general and large corporations especially as a way to not only to increased the speed of economic development and military production, but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite are intermixed with the political elite ("revolving door policy") to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of 'have-not' citizens. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. In all these cases, corporatist structures of labor bargaining are primarily a decorative façade for state repression of independent trade unionism. The poor form an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt ("the guilt of the poor"). Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice. Important investment decisions, although influenced by the state partly through corporatist structures, remain domain of private corporations.
  9. Suppression of labour which leads to the inherent instability due to loss of purchasing power and shrinking middle class. Corporatism presuppose the extreme asymmetry of the power of capital and labor. Which can lead to conflicts. One sign of such an instability is the tendency of members of trade unions to withdraw their co-operation in wage-restraint policies when members insist that their leaders represent their demands rather than act as junior partners in managing the modern capitalist economy. In turn, the elite have shown themselves less and less interested, for their part, in maintaining such partnerships, and sometimes resort to open suppression, just to teach an example. Organized labor's power to control wages and working conditions, which has traditionally been grounded in its ability to limit the supply of workers, has been decimated by the mobility of capital. In a global market, there will always be workers willing to accept a lower wage as opposed to no wage. So classic corporatist "partnership" between capital and labor postulate is abandoned along with the Keynesian welfare state through the last two decades of the 20th century.
  10. Suppression of "non-conformist" intellectuals. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security Universities are tightly, but indirectly, controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed and deprived of funding. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent are silenced. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.
  11. Obsession with crime and punishment. Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations, directed at lower classes. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. Difference between regular and political crimes sometimes is fuzzy due to trumped-up criminal charges which sometimes are used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred of criminals is promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.
  12. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources (That's what Yeltsin's regime did in Russia). With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population. See Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime
  13. Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually are perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Here is a table that illustrates the variety (The Economic System of Corporatism):

Corporatist Regimes of the Early Twentieth Century
System Name Country Period Leader
National Corporatism Italy 1922-1945 Benito Mussolini
Country, Religion, Monarchy Spain 1923-1930 Miguel Primo de Rivera
National Socialism Germany 1933-1945 Adolph Hitler
National Syndicalism Spain 1936-1973 Francisco Franco
New State Portugal 1932-1968 Antonio Salazar
New State Brazil 1933-1945 Getulio Vargas
New Deal United States 1933-1945 Franklin Roosevelt
Third Hellenic Civilization Greece 1936-1941 Ioannis Metaxas
Justice Party Argentina 1943-1955 Juan Peron

You can add to this list all US presidents since Ronald Reagan, as well as Russian presidents Gorbachov, Yeltsin and Putin.

The key idea of corporatism is that political actors are not individual people, but associations and first of all corporations (which are officially considered to be "persons" and have rights) as well as trade unions. And that politically an individual is represented not directly, but only via those organizations or parties created by those organizations. Conflict between capital and labor is resolved by bargaining with state intermediation only between "organizational players". The state acts as the supreme arbiter of labor disputes which decisions are binding to both parties but openly favor interests of the corporations.

After a setback caused by WWII, corporatism reemerged in 70th the modified form of neoliberalism in Great Britain, the USA and other countries. The USA model of neoliberalism has some idiosyncratic features due to the fact that the USA is the most powerful neoliberal state. It is often called Casino Capitalism due to its deification of "free markets" (and by extension stock markets) as the key instrument of achieving fast development and social harmony (which in reality is a smoke screen for achieving a free reign of transnational corporations). Like communism formally propels proletarians as the new dominant social class under socialism (while in reality the dominant class is nomenklatura), neoliberalism promotes entrepreneurs and "creative class" (which paradoxically include financial oligarchy, one of the worst performer in creativity among entrepreneurs, if we discount devising criminal schemes of enrichment). The extreme manifestation of this ideology is Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult. Again, in reality the key players in neoliberalism regime are transnational corporations, which, especially financial corporations, acquired enormous political power (see Quiet coup) and put themselves above the law, much like military in the occupied country.

In an economic sense, neoliberalism, communism (or bolshevism as implemented in the USSR and China) and fascism are closely related and can be considered to be just different flavors of  the same social system.  In all these systems, corporate power is primary, but level of state control is higher under fascism and is highest under bolshevism.  In both cases state is used as a means to eliminate the conflict between the owners of capital represented by management and labor represented by unions by suppression of labor demands.

Using the quote attributed to Benito Mussolini (Benito Mussolini) : "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power."

The Website has offered a reward for anyone who can find the original source:

"If you have a source for the quote based on an actual original document that you copy and mail us, please let us know, and you will receive a free 3-year subscription to the Public Eye magazine"[1]

Despite unknown origin of the quote what it states is pretty accurate. For example, the 1983 copy of the American Heritage Dictionary's definition of fascism was very similar to the misattributed quote:

"fascism - A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."

American Heritage Dictionary, 1983

Also, Franklin D. Roosevelt in an April 29, 1938 message to Congress warned that the growth of private power could lead to fascism:

"The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power."

National Security State as a modern form of Corporatism

Modern, post WWII corporatism is associated with the term National Security State and the term Military-Industrial Complex introduced by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his farewell address to the Nation (Eisenhower initially wrote "military-industrial-congressional complex", the term which is of course more technically correct, but, of course, politically unacceptable):

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

... ... ...

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

This merger, which now includes financial corporation became what we call a neoliberal state, or as  Sheldon Volin called it "Inverted Totalitarism". The neoliberal transformation of the society initialed in GB by Margaret Thatcher and in the USA by President  Reagan has distinct features of corporatism including elitism and creation "above the law" strata (or more  correctly governing class) similar to the USSR "nomenklatura", the merger of state and large corporations via revolving doors mechanism, deregulation in the interests of large transnational corporation, and gutting workers benefits to increase  profitability .

Another similar terms related to neoliberal state are casino capitalism and "crony capitalism". The latter term is connected with the fact that corruption of regulators is the intrinsic property of such a social system. Because it is often not clear who owns whom. For example, whether Goldman Sacks indirectly owns NY Fed, or NY Fed indirectly owns Goldman Sacks.

The  term "crony capitalism" is connected with the fact that corruption of regulators is the intrinsic property of such a social system. Because it is often not clear who owns whom. For example, whether Goldman Sacks indirectly owns NY Fed, or NY Fed indirectly owns Goldman Sacks.

The second stage of this transformation was the transformation of the USA to the classic National Security State, which happned after 9/11 and is related to activities of  President  George W Bush and his close advisors (which included Rumsfeld and Cheney).  It's important to note that  while 9/11 was the trigger event, the foundation for the national security state was built shortly after World War II with the National Security Act signed by President Truman. And first demonstrated its power with the JFK assassination in 1963. 

It is public interest to understand the extent to which the National Security State has become a status quo in many countries. People need to understand what's at stake when such extraordinary surveillance capabilities are technically available and  are  affecting practically every aspect of our lives. Because  so much money are at stake this becomes a a self-fulfilling prophecy, which is impossible to stop, as it continues to justify itself by saying we have to have America secure and we have to keep people feeling safe. In this situation a pathological incentive develops to react of every failure as a justification for even more surveillance.

Corporatism vs Inverted Totalitarism

While the corporatist state tend to assume authoritarian forms which are -- like European fascist regimes --  highly bureaucratized and "statist", variant with pseudo-democratic cosmetics are also possible. One of such variants is so called Inverted Totalitarism. The latter replaces direct repression of opposing social forces with indirect, but no less effective measures based on ostracism.  Still there is difference between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes: Authoritarian regime deprives you the right to speak, while totalitarian regime goes one step further -- it deprives you the right to remain silent. Anyone who does not express support for the course adopted by the local elite, is subjected to harassment, if not legal prosecution and loss of of work.

Modern neoliberal variant of corporatism has complex links with international capital which differentiates it from classic fascists states with their national supremacy ideologies.  That does not exclude a trend of substituting "racial supremacy" with "cultural supremacy" which is very well demonstrated in  American Exceptionalism

Also repression in the regime of  Inverted Totalitarism is presented in "velvet gloves" and works mainly via the process of silencing and exclusion, much less via direct physical repression. The focus switched from physical elimination of political opposition to its isolation and fragmentation. Political exclusion of opposition is sold as a necessary prerequisite to "order" and "social peace".

One telling sign of corporatism is existence of too big to fail (TBTF) corporations. In a way “Too Big To Fail” corporations are an immanent future of neoliberalism.  As neoliberalism presuppose high level of inequality it transforms the stat in National Security State (which militarizes policy and introduces total surveillance to protects top one 1% from proles under the pretext of protecting proles from terrorists).

Corporatism and Catholicism

As a social doctrine corporatism is connected to Catholicism and is an expression of Roman Catholic social doctrine, and was inspired by two Catholic encyclicals:

As such it was prevalent in Catholic countries, but in no way it was limited to them.  The key idea is to create an alternative to socialism, which helps to eliminate social protest, while preserving private property and private corporations with their owners.  Corporatism is not a unified phenomenon and shows significant variety of implementations. We can talk about

Still the fundamental feature of  corporate ideology was/is the neo-Christian notion of moral transformation of the society. To quote Mihail Manoilesco

"The essential social function of the corporation is to create a new moral environment, favorable to the idea of collaboration between employers and workers."

In the last half of the 19th century people of the working class in Europe were beginning to show interest in the ideas of socialism and syndicalism. Some members of the intelligentsia, particularly the Catholic intelligentsia, decided to formulate an alternative to socialism which would emphasize social justice without the radical solution of the abolition of private property. The result was called Corporatism, the attempted merge of corporate power and the state power.

Corporatism has been particularly significant in the countries with strong Catholicism traditions such as Latin countries of Europe (Portugal, Spain, Italy and France). Germany also has significant catholic population which was the core of the NSDP. The connection between Catholicism and the Continental corporatism movements is most obvious in the various Christian Democrat parties (where for ‘Christian’ we can read ‘Roman Catholic’). In USA corporatism initially got fertile ground in states with significant Catholic population like Wisconsin (senator McCartney represented Wisconsin in the US senate). However, its influence goes much wider.

This idea was maintained throughout their time in power, with state control used as a means to eliminate the conflict between the owners of capital represented by management and labor represented by unions. Mainly by suppressing demands of workers and decimating labor unions. Quoting Benito Mussolini (it is actually an attributed quote, difficult to find in his writings): "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power.

Five Historical Corporatist Regimes

Depending of which elements  are stressed and which are somewhat tempered or subdued, we can distinguish among at least five different forms of corporatism:

  1. Spanish model (which is most closely connected with Catholicism, stresses bargaining of labor and corporations). It has been particularly significant in the Latin countries of Europe (Portugal, Spain, Italy and France) and Latin America. The connection between Catholicism is the most prominent in this model and various Christian Democrat parties (where for ‘Christian’ we can read ‘Roman Catholic’) are important political players.
  2. Fascism and neo-fashism (which is characterized by rampant militarism and xenophobia). Mussolini Regime in Italy and Nazi Germany are two classic variant of this type of corporatism.
  3. American New Deal model (in which repressive elements were subdued)
  4. Asian model (which emphasized economic development of the nation)
  5. Neoliberalism (which emphasize the role of transnational corporations and local, connected with them, financial oligarchy (Russian oligarchs like Khodorkovsky are good example here) as the only first class citizens and suppresses or eliminates the power of trade unions. This form, in various modifications dominates post Communist countries.
  6. The Reagan Neoliberal Model.  Under President Reagan,  the USA experienced transformation in  a unique variation of neoliberal model, which can be considered a class of its own.  The term "Quiet coup" which means the hijacking of the political power in the USA by financial oligarchy was introduced by Simon H. Johnson, a British-American economist, Professor at the MIT in his article in Atlantic magazine, published in May 2009 (The Quiet Coup - Simon Johnson - The Atlantic). From March 2007 through the end of August 2008, he was Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund. The article opens with a revealing paragraph:

    The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government

Neoliberal Corporatism as a State Ideology and Secular religion

As John Ralston Saul noted in his The Unconscious Civilization, one central aspect of the neoliberral corporatist doctrine is its hijacking of the term "individualism," defining it as self-absorption or selfishness. Paradoxically in the USA both Democratic Party and Republican Party positions are based upon that definition. The US "Democrats", which under President Clinton became the Party of Financial oligarchy, just a more moderate wing of Republican Party,   agree with Republicans that individualism presuppose  anti-social selfishness (the slogan "greed is good"). In reality as Saul aptly puts it:

"Rights are a protection from society. But only by fulfilling their obligations to society can the individual give meaning to that protection. . . Real individualism then is the obligation to act as a citizen."

Is essence, like communism before corporatism (both in its neoliberal and fascist forms) is a secular religion," which the key idea of salvation as the blind pursuit of self-interest. It is led by an ideology of "corporatism," which has deformed the American ideal of a life worth living into one devoid of a concept of the common public good

The corporate compartmentalization of, and distortion of public knowledge, and the accompanying enforced conformity has so confused the majority of US citizens (99%)  that they eat blatant corporate propaganda without questioning and it makes via effect on our consciousness act against their own economic interest.  In other words, this cult of "individual selfishness" as modeled by corporate self-interest has hi-jacked Western civilization as we have come to know it.

The most analyzed flavor of corporatism is its extreme form -- fascism. In 2002, Laurence W. Britt's  analyzed seven fascist regimes in order to find the common elements that mark them as fascist: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco's Spain, Salazar's Portugal, Papadopoulos's Greece, Pinochet's Chile, and Suharto's Indonesia (Fascism Anyone?) He found 14 common characteristics (some of them are reprinted with some changes below based on later work by Umberto Eco (1995)) and concluded:

"Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not."

In the 1980th in the USA corporatism was transformed into a very specific form of "free market capitalism" (aka Neoliberalism) with a set of pseudoscience theories ("greed is good") that create "chosen" people, which in a fuzzy way mirror of Hitler theories of superiority of Arian race in economic terms  (replace the Arian race with the financial and technocratic elite ;-). In reality like any corporatism it has nothing common with free market (it is socialism for rich, which is as far from free market as one can get). Large financial players were subsidized (and rescued) by state. It is the same merger of state power and corporations as classic corporatism  with more prominent role of financial oligarchy in the mix and globalization as key component.

Johnson (The Quiet Coup - Magazine - The Atlantic) called acquiring by financial oligarchy dominant influence on the state a "Quiet coup" (not very dissimilar to NSDP takeover of power in Germany).

Corruption of government and putting economic elite above the law  is an immanent feature of corporatist regimes and it became a prominent feature of the US capitalism (and a real problem) immediately after Reagan (Saving and Loan crisis was the first act of this drama) and became pervasive under Clinton & Bush administration during which all "socialist" elements of "New Deal" (government regulation of private sector) were completely dismantled.

See also Casino Capitalism which is another name often used for the form of neoliberalism established in the USA.  It reflects inordinate influence of stock and other financial markets on the society and rampant speculation that accompany this.

An important book on the theoretical aspects of corporatism is Corporatism in Perspective An Introductory Guide to Corporatist Theory (SAGE Studies in Neo-Corporatism) Peter J Williamson

The key idea of the book is that liberal democracy is not liberal and is not a democracy. It is just a smoke screen maintained for propaganda focus. Of course there can be democratic moments in the life of any society but they are more of exception to the rule, then the rule.

Reality is that individual never participate in a political process as himself, typically he/she participate as a member of some interest group. The author sites Alan Cawson:

 "Pluralism has proven to be deficient because of its underling assumption of a competitive political marketplace, its voluntarism and methodological individualism in its implicit theory of interests and especially in its portrayal of the a neutral state which is disengaged from interests at the same time as it preserves an institutional boundary between public and private sphere"

Organization are viewed as instruments for pursing the elite strategies of control, rather then being directly responsible to members' interests. Organizations are top led not bottom led by the members and should be viewed in bureaucratic terms rather then democratic ones. For example in trade unions members typically became just consumers of benefits provided by an organization. Organization permanent bureaucracy became permanently detached from it "rank-and-file" members. Influence of the members are demonstrated only indirectly in the area of difficulties of enforcing compliance by leadership of the decision made, decisions which otherwise would not be accepted by the members. Sanctions applied to dissidents is an important part of organizational dynamics.

Most of powerful interest groups are state licensed. Licensing can be viewed as a coercive intervention of the bureaucratic state subsidizing the organization existence in exchange for compliance and defining, distorting, encouraging, regulating and repressing the activities of such groups and interest associations.

Organizations have status (p 86) which ahs several aspects. Among them:

In corporatist theory in no way organization is a simple association of individuals. As soon as the organization formed, the natural internal processes start creating the organizational elite. Many corporate writes have been influenced by the ideas of Marxist analysis, but few adhere to anything approaching a view that all political interests are reducible to class interests as determined by relations to production,,. But most  concur with Marxists that there is deep structural asymmetry between capital and labor which is reflected in unequal distribution of political power. So while corporatism affords capital and labor the same status, the latter is inhibited in their freedom to pursue its respective interests. In other words trade unions are always junior partners to organizations of capital. At the same time corporatists stress that organizations do not operate exclusively on a class basis, even within the confines of production associations. In many instances sectional interests may be an important basis of actions. Certainly in corporatist ideology the dominant view is that "professional loyalties" should supersede "class loyalties".

Neoliberal Corporatism and color revolutions

Outside the USA corporatist regimes, especially in Latin America, often became direct clients of international corporation and first of all based in the USA. Military coup d'etat that often brings such regime to power is often supported or even directly financed by USA or its allies (1953 Iranian coup d'état and Pinochet coup d'état in Chile are two classic,  textbook examples here).  Recently coup d'état was replaced by more subtle form of overthrow of legitimate (or semi-legitimate) government (especially those that can be considered "resource nationalists" like government of Russia, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Ukraine) called Color revolutions.

Systemic Corruption as Fundamental Feature of Corporatist Regimes

Systemic fraud was the second nature of corporatist regimes from its humble beginning is the first half of the XX century in Mussolini Italy to reincarnation of corporatism by Reagan. Like Mussolini used to say: to friends everything, to enemies the law. Mussolini claimed that this way dynamic (or heroic) capitalism based on private initiative could be prevented from degenerating into stale crony capitalism.

This is a fundamental difference in which corporatism (especially in its most criminogenic,  Neoliberalism form)  can to be distinguished from state capitalism, despite the fact that policies has many similarities.   Many analysts assert that China is one of the main examples of state capitalism in the 21st century. Bremmer describes state capitalism the following way (We're All State Capitalists Now - By Niall Ferguson Foreign Policy):

In this system, governments use various kinds of state-owned companies to manage the exploitation of resources that they consider the state's crown jewels and to create and maintain large numbers of jobs. They use select privately owned companies to dominate certain economic sectors. They use so-called sovereign wealth funds to invest their extra cash in ways that maximize the state's profits.

In all three cases, the state is using markets to create wealth that can be directed as political officials see fit. And in all three cases, the ultimate motive is not economic (maximizing growth) but political (maximizing the state's power and the leadership's chances of survival).

This is a form of capitalism but one in which the state acts as the dominant economic player and uses markets primarily for political gain.

Mussolini also aptly characterized corporatism as "state socialism turned on its head": instead of state controlling the corporations,  corporations became primary actors which control the state.

Instead of state controlling the corporations,  corporations became primary actors which control the state.

See Corruption of Regulators

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[Jun 06, 2018] Is fascism a logical next stage of the collapse of neoliberalism, like hapened in Waimar before?

Jun 06, 2018 |

quintal -> Alpo88 , 3 Jun 2018 15:56

Hi Alpo

Fascism is the word that most interests me when looking a the present trajectory in Australia

We're not there yet

And there's no one on the government benches who's a new Hitler or Stalin or Mussolini

But the next generation ..............

They make me uncomfortable. Some of the younger and as yet unheralded apparatchiks on the conservative fringe worry me. They're smart. Know the advertising and selling the message strategies. Have money and are well connected to the barons/oligarchs who pull the strings and they're ambitious.

Paradoxically a collapse of the Liberal Party will help them. In spite of it all we need a fiscally conservative, slightly socially conservative political movement in Australia but the drift to extremism is quite pronounced and profoundly worrying, especially in a time where climate change poses existential questions about our future.

This next election will not be a cakewalk. It'll be as bitterly fought as any in a generation and the consequences of a loss will be, for progressive forces, catastrophic.


Alpo88 , 3 Jun 2018 14:58
"Although people with low expectations are easier to con, fomenting cynicism about democracy comes at a long-term cost. Indeed, as the current crop of politicians is beginning to discover, people with low expectations feel they have nothing to lose."..... Yes, but that's part of the Devilish Plan: Why do you think that the Neoliberals and Conservatives spend so much time nurturing their relationship with both Police and the Army?.... They want to be sure that if their Neoliberal-Conservative project goes truly belly up, they will be the ones holding the guns.

Yes, it's sinister.... it's dangerous.... it's a time bomb, and we can only defuse it with the help of a majority of Australians waking up, standing up and Democratically vote against Fascism.

[Apr 26, 2018] Drones, Baby, Drones! The Rise of Americas High-Tech Assassins

Apr 03, 2015 | Alternet
...President Barack Obama, who had run a quasi-antiwar liberal campaign for the White House, had embraced the assassination program and had decreed, "the CIA gets what it wants." Intelligence budgets were maintaining the steep upward curve that had started in 2001, and while all agencies were benefiting, none had done as well as the CIA At just under $15 billion, the agency's budget had climbed by 56 percent just since 2004.

Decades earlier, Richard Helms, the CIA director for whom the event was named, would customarily refer to the defense contractors who pressured him to spend his budget on their wares as "those bastards." Such disdain for commerce in the world of spooks was now long gone, as demonstrated by the corporate sponsorship of the tables jammed into the Grand Ballroom that evening. The executives, many of whom had passed through the revolving door from government service, were there to rub shoulders with old friends and current partners. "It was totally garish," one attendee told me afterward. "It seemed like every arms manufacturer in the country had taken a table. Everyone was doing business, right and left."

In the decade since 9/11, the CIA had been regularly blighted by scandal-revelations of torture, renditions, secret "black site" prisons, bogus intelligence justifying the invasion of Iraq, ignored signs of the impending 9/11 attacks-but such unwholesome realities found no echo in this comradely gathering. Even George Tenet, the CIA director who had presided over all of the aforementioned scandals, was greeted with heartfelt affection by erstwhile colleagues as he, along with almost every other living former CIA director, stood to be introduced by Master of Ceremonies John McLaughlin, a former deputy director himself deeply complicit in the Iraq fiasco. Each, with the exception of Stansfield Turner (still bitterly resented for downsizing the agency post-Vietnam), received ringing applause, but none more than the night's honoree, former CIA director and then-current secretary of defense Robert M. Gates.

Although Gates had left the CIA eighteen years before, he was very much the father figure of the institution and a mentor to the intelligence chieftains, active and retired, who cheered him so fervently that night at the Ritz-Carlton. He had climbed through the ranks of the national security bureaucracy with a ruthless determination all too evident to those around him. Ray McGovern, his supervisor in his first agency post, as an analyst with the intelligence directorate's soviet foreign policy branch, recalls writing in an efficiency report that the young man's "evident and all-consuming ambition is a disruptive influence in the branch." There had come a brief check on his rise to power when his involvement in the Iran-Contra imbroglio cratered an initial attempt to win confirmation as CIA director, but success came a few years later, in 1991, despite vehement protests from former colleagues over his persistent willingness to sacrifice analytic objectivity to the political convenience of his masters.

Book cover of 'Kill Chain.'

Photo Credit:

Henry Holt

Click to enlarge.

Gates's successful 1991 confirmation as CIA chief owed much, so colleagues assessed, to diligent work behind the scenes on the part of the Senate Intelligence Committee's staff director, George Tenet. In 1993, Tenet moved on to be director for intelligence programs on the Clinton White House national security staff, in which capacity he came to know and esteem John Brennan, a midlevel and hitherto undistinguished CIA analyst assigned to brief White House staffers. Tenet liked Brennan so much that when he himself moved to the CIA as deputy director in 1995, he had the briefer appointed station chief in Riyadh, an important position normally reserved for someone with actual operational experience. In this sensitive post Brennan worked tirelessly to avoid irritating his Saudi hosts, showing reluctance, for example, to press them for Osama bin Laden's biographical details when asked to do so by the bin Laden unit back at headquarters.

Brennan returned to Washington in 1999 under Tenet's patronage, initially as his chief of staff and then as CIA executive director, and by 2003 he had transitioned to the burgeoning field of intelligence fusion bureaucracy. The notion that the way to avert miscommunication between intelligence bureaucracies was to create yet more layers of bureaucracy was popular in Washington in the aftermath of 9/11. One concrete expression of this trend was the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, known as T-TIC and then renamed the National Counter Terrorism Center a year later. Brennan was the first head of T-TIC, distinguishing himself in catering to the abiding paranoia of the times. On one occasion, notorious within the community, he circulated an urgent report that al-Qaeda was encrypting targeting information for terrorist attacks in the broadcasts of the al-Jazeera TV network, thereby generating an "orange" alert and the cancellation of dozens of international flights. The initiative was greeted with malicious amusement over at the CIA's own Counterterrorism Center, whose chief at the time, José Rodríguez, later opined that Brennan had been trying to build up his profile with higher authority. "Brennan was a major factor in keeping [the al-Jazeera/al-Qaeda story] alive. We thought it was ridiculous," he told a reporter. "My own view is he saw this, he took this, as a way to have relevance, to take something to the White House." Tellingly, an Obama White House spokesman later excused Brennan's behavior on the grounds that though he had circulated the report, he hadn't believed it himself.

Exiting government service in 2005, Brennan spent the next three years heading The Analysis Corporation, an obscure but profitable intelligence contractor engaged in preparing terrorist watch lists for the government, work for which he was paid $763,000 in 2008. Among the useful relationships he had cultivated over the years was well-connected Democrat Anthony Lake, a former national security adviser to Bill Clinton, who recommended him to presidential candidate Barack Obama. Meeting for the first time shortly after Obama's election victory, the pair bonded immediately, with Obama "finishing Brennan's sentences," by one account. Among their points of wholehearted agreement was the merit of a surgical approach to terrorist threats, the "need to target the metastasizing disease without destroying the surrounding tissue," as Brennan put it, for which drones and their Hellfire missiles seemed the ideal tools. Obama was initially balked in his desire to make Brennan CIA director because of the latter's all-too-close association with the agency's torture program, so instead the new president made him his assistant for counterterrorism and homeland security, with an office down the hall from the Oval Office. Two years into the administration, everyone in the Ritz-Carlton ballroom knew that the bulky Irishman was the most powerful man in U.S. intelligence as the custodian of the president's kill list, on which the chief executive and former constitutional law professor insisted on reserving the last word, making his final selections for execution at regularly scheduled Tuesday afternoon meetings. "You know, our president has his brutal side," a CIA source cognizant of Obama's involvement observed to me at the time.

Now, along with the other six hundred diners at the Helms dinner, Brennan listened attentively as Gates rose to accept the coveted award for "exemplary service to the nation and the Central Intelligence Agency." After paying due tribute to previous honorees as well as his pride in being part of the CIA "family," Gates spoke movingly of a recent and particularly tragic instance of CIA sacrifice, the seven men and women killed by a suicide bomber at an agency base, Forward Operating Base Chapman, in Khost, Afghanistan, in 2009. All present bowed their heads in silent tribute.

Gates then moved on to a more upbeat topic. When first he arrived at the Pentagon in 2007, he said, he had found deep-rooted resistance to "new technology" among "flyboys with silk scarves" still wedded to venerable traditions of fighter-plane combat. But all that, he informed his rapt audience, had changed. Factories were working "day and night, day and night," to turn out the vital weapons for the fight against terrorism. "So from now on," he concluded, his voice rising, "the watchword is: drones, baby, drones!"

The applause was long and loud.

Excerpted from Andrew Cockburn's new book, Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins Henry Holt, 2015). Reprinted here with permission from the author.

[Dec 04, 2017] The neoliberal framework in antitrust is based on pecifically its pegging competition to consumer welfare, defined as short-term price effects and as such s unequipped to capture the architecture of market power in the modern economy

Notable quotes:
"... This Note argues that the current framework in antitrust-specifically its pegging competition to "consumer welfare," defined as short-term price effects-is unequipped to capture the architecture of market power in the modern economy. We cannot cognize the potential harms to competition posed by Amazon's dominance if we measure competition primarily through price and output. ..."
"... This Note maps out facets of Amazon's dominance. Doing so enables us to make sense of its business strategy, illuminates anticompetitive aspects of Amazon's structure and conduct, and underscores deficiencies in current doctrine. The Note closes by considering two potential regimes for addressing Amazon's power: restoring traditional antitrust and competition policy principles or applying common carrier obligations and duties. ..."
Feb 12, 2017 |
anne : February 11, 2017 at 11:43 AM , 2017 at 11:43 AM

January, 2017

Amazon's Antitrust Paradox
By Lina M. Khan


Amazon is the titan of twenty-first century commerce. In addition to being a retailer, it is now a marketing platform, a delivery and logistics network, a payment service, a credit lender, an auction house, a major book publisher, a producer of television and films, a fashion designer, a hardware manufacturer, and a leading host of cloud server space. Although Amazon has clocked staggering growth, it generates meager profits, choosing to price below-cost and expand widely instead. Through this strategy, the company has positioned itself at the center of e-commerce and now serves as essential infrastructure for a host of other businesses that depend upon it. Elements of the firm's structure and conduct pose anticompetitive concerns -- yet it has escaped antitrust scrutiny.

This Note argues that the current framework in antitrust-specifically its pegging competition to "consumer welfare," defined as short-term price effects-is unequipped to capture the architecture of market power in the modern economy. We cannot cognize the potential harms to competition posed by Amazon's dominance if we measure competition primarily through price and output.

Specifically, current doctrine underappreciates the risk of predatory pricing and how integration across distinct business lines may prove anticompetitive. These concerns are heightened in the context of online platforms for two reasons. First, the economics of platform markets create incentives for a company to pursue growth over profits, a strategy that investors have rewarded. Under these conditions, predatory pricing becomes highly rational-even as existing doctrine treats it as irrational and therefore implausible. Second, because online platforms serve as critical intermediaries, integrating across business lines positions these platforms to control the essential infrastructure on which their rivals depend. This dual role also enables a platform to exploit information collected on companies using its services to undermine them as competitors.

This Note maps out facets of Amazon's dominance. Doing so enables us to make sense of its business strategy, illuminates anticompetitive aspects of Amazon's structure and conduct, and underscores deficiencies in current doctrine. The Note closes by considering two potential regimes for addressing Amazon's power: restoring traditional antitrust and competition policy principles or applying common carrier obligations and duties.

[Oct 23, 2017] Neoliberalism as Creative Destruction David Harvey, 2007

This article is 10 year old but the analysis presented still remain by-and-large current.
You can read full article in Neoliberalism As Creative Destruction - David Harvey by Open Critique - issue
Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalism is a theory of political economic practices proposing that human well-being can best be advanced by the maximization of entrepreneurial freedoms within an institutional framework characterized by private property rights, individual liberty, unencumbered markets, and free trade. ..."
"... Furthermore, if markets do not exist (in areas such as education, health care, social security, or environmental pollution), then they must be created, by state action if necessary. ..."
"... State interventions in markets (once created) must be kept to a bare minimum because the state cannot possibly possess enough information to second-guess market signals (prices) and because powerful interests will inevitably distort and bias state interventions (particularly in democracies) for their own benefit. ..."
"... State after state, from the new ones that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union to old-style social democracies and welfare states such as New Zealand and Sweden, have embraced, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes in response to coercive pressures, some version of neoliberal theory and adjusted at least some of their policies and practices accordingly. Post apartheid South Africa quickly adopted the neoliberal frame and even contemporary China appears to be headed in that direction. Furthermore, advocates of the neoliberal mindset now occupy positions of considerable influence in education (universities and many "think tanks"), in the media, in corporate board rooms and financial institutions, in key state institutions (treasury departments, central banks), and also in those international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) that regulate global finance and commerce. Neoliberalism has, in short, become hegemonic as a mode of discourse and has pervasive effects on ways of thought and political-economic practices to the point where it has become incorporated into the commonsense way we interpret, live in, and understand the world. ..."
"... Neoliberalization has in effect swept across the world like a vast tidal wave of institutional reform and discursive adjustment. While plenty of evidence shows its uneven geographical development, no place can claim total immunity (with the exception of a few states such as North Korea). Furthermore, the rules of engagement now established through the WTO (governing international trade) and by the IMF (governing international finance) instantiate neoliberalism as a global set of rules. All states that sign on to the WTO and the IMF (and who can afford not to?) agree to abide (albeit with a "grace period" to permit smooth adjustment) by these rules or face severe penalties. ..."
"... For any system of thought to become dominant, it requires the articulation of fundamental concepts that become so deeply embedded in commonsense understandings that they are taken for granted and beyond question. For this to occur, not any old concepts will do. A conceptual apparatus has to be constructed that appeals almost naturally to our intuitions and instincts, to our values and our desires, as well as to the possibilities that seem to inhere in the social world we inhabit. The founding figures of neoliberal thought took political ideals of individual liberty and freedom as sacrosanct -- as the central values of civilization. And in so doing they chose wisely and well, for these are indeed compelling and greatly appealing concepts. Such values were threatened, they argued, not only by fascism, dictatorships, and communism, but also by all forms of state intervention that substituted collective judgments for those of individuals set free to choose. They then concluded that without "the diffused power and initiative associated with (private property and the competitive market) it is difficult to imagine a society in which freedom may be effectively preserved." 1 ..."
"... The U.S. answer was spelled out on September 19, 2003, when Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, promulgated four orders that included "the full privatization of public enterprises, full ownership rights by foreign firms of Iraqi U.S. businesses, full repatriation of foreign profits . . . the opening of Iraq's banks to foreign control, national treatment for foreign companies and . . . the elimination of nearly all trade barriers." 4 The orders were to apply to all areas of the economy, including public services, the media, manufacturing, services, transportation, finance, and construction. Only oil was exempt. A regressive tax system favored by conservatives called a flat tax was also instituted. The right to strike was outlawed and unions banned in key sectors. An Iraqi member of the Coalition Provisional Authority protested the forced imposition of "free market fundamentalism," describing it as "a flawed logic that ignores history." 5 Yet the interim Iraqi government appointed at the end of June 2004 was accorded no power to change or write new laws -- it could only confirm the decrees already promulgated. ..."
"... The redistributive tactics of neoliberalism are wide-ranging, sophisticated, frequently masked by ideological gambits, but devastating for the dignity and social well-being of vulnerable populations and territories. The wave of creative destruction neoliberalization has visited across the globe is unparalleled in the history of capitalism. Understandably, it has spawned resistance and a search for viable alternatives. ..."
Oct 23, 2017 |

Neoliberalism has become a hegemonic discourse with pervasive effects on ways of thought and political-economic practices to the point where it is now part of the commonsense way we interpret, live in, and understand the world. How did neoliberalism achieve such an exalted status, and what does it stand for? In this article, the author contends that neoliberalism is above all a project to restore class dominance to sectors that saw their fortunes threatened by the ascent of social democratic endeavors in the aftermath of the Second World War. Although neoliberalism has had limited effectiveness as an engine for economic growth, it has succeeded in channeling wealth from subordinate classes to dominant ones and from poorer to richer countries. This process has entailed the dismantling of institutions and narratives that promoted more egalitarian distributive measures in the preceding era.

Neoliberalism is a theory of political economic practices proposing that human well-being can best be advanced by the maximization of entrepreneurial freedoms within an institutional framework characterized by private property rights, individual liberty, unencumbered markets, and free trade. The role of the state is to create and preserve an institutional framework appropriate to such practices. The state has to be concerned, for example, with the quality and integrity of money. It must also set up military, defense, police, and juridical functions required to secure private property rights and to support freely functioning markets. Furthermore, if markets do not exist (in areas such as education, health care, social security, or environmental pollution), then they must be created, by state action if necessary. But beyond these tasks the state should not venture. State interventions in markets (once created) must be kept to a bare minimum because the state cannot possibly possess enough information to second-guess market signals (prices) and because powerful interests will inevitably distort and bias state interventions (particularly in democracies) for their own benefit.

For a variety of reasons, the actual practices of neoliberalism frequently diverge from this template. Nevertheless, there has everywhere been an emphatic turn, ostensibly led by the Thatcher/Reagan revolutions in Britain and the United States, in political-economic practices and thinking since the 1970s. State after state, from the new ones that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union to old-style social democracies and welfare states such as New Zealand and Sweden, have embraced, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes in response to coercive pressures, some version of neoliberal theory and adjusted at least some of their policies and practices accordingly. Post apartheid South Africa quickly adopted the neoliberal frame and even contemporary China appears to be headed in that direction. Furthermore, advocates of the neoliberal mindset now occupy positions of considerable influence in education (universities and many "think tanks"), in the media, in corporate board rooms and financial institutions, in key state institutions (treasury departments, central banks), and also in those international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) that regulate global finance and commerce. Neoliberalism has, in short, become hegemonic as a mode of discourse and has pervasive effects on ways of thought and political-economic practices to the point where it has become incorporated into the commonsense way we interpret, live in, and understand the world.

Neoliberalization has in effect swept across the world like a vast tidal wave of institutional reform and discursive adjustment. While plenty of evidence shows its uneven geographical development, no place can claim total immunity (with the exception of a few states such as North Korea). Furthermore, the rules of engagement now established through the WTO (governing international trade) and by the IMF (governing international finance) instantiate neoliberalism as a global set of rules. All states that sign on to the WTO and the IMF (and who can afford not to?) agree to abide (albeit with a "grace period" to permit smooth adjustment) by these rules or face severe penalties.

The creation of this neoliberal system has entailed much destruction, not only of prior institutional frameworks and powers (such as the supposed prior state sovereignty over political-economic affairs) but also of divisions of labor, social relations, welfare provisions, technological mixes, ways of life, attachments to the land, habits of the heart, ways of thought, and the like. Some assessment of the positives and negatives of this neoliberal revolution is called for. In what follows, therefore, I will sketch in some preliminary arguments as to how to both understand and evaluate this transformation in the way global capitalism is working. This requires that we come to terms with the underlying forces, interests, and agents that have propelled the neoliberal revolution forward with such relentless intensity. To turn the neoliberal rhetoric against itself, we may reasonably ask, In whose particular interests is it that the state take a neoliberal stance and in what ways have those interests used neoliberalism to benefit themselves rather than, as is claimed, everyone, everywhere?

In whose particular interests is it that the state take a neoliberal stance, and in what ways have those interests used neoliberalism to benefit themselves rather than, as is claimed, everyone, everywhere?

The "Naturalization" of Neoliberalism

For any system of thought to become dominant, it requires the articulation of fundamental concepts that become so deeply embedded in commonsense understandings that they are taken for granted and beyond question. For this to occur, not any old concepts will do. A conceptual apparatus has to be constructed that appeals almost naturally to our intuitions and instincts, to our values and our desires, as well as to the possibilities that seem to inhere in the social world we inhabit. The founding figures of neoliberal thought took political ideals of individual liberty and freedom as sacrosanct -- as the central values of civilization. And in so doing they chose wisely and well, for these are indeed compelling and greatly appealing concepts. Such values were threatened, they argued, not only by fascism, dictatorships, and communism, but also by all forms of state intervention that substituted collective judgments for those of individuals set free to choose. They then concluded that without "the diffused power and initiative associated with (private property and the competitive market) it is difficult to imagine a society in which freedom may be effectively preserved." 1

Setting aside the question of whether the final part of the argument necessarily follows from the first, there can be no doubt that the concepts of individual liberty and freedom are powerful in their own right, even beyond those terrains where the liberal tradition has had a strong historical presence. Such ideals empowered the dissident movements in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union before the end of the cold war as well as the students in Tiananmen Square. The student movement that swept the world in 1968 -- from Paris and Chicago to Bangkok and Mexico City -- was in part animated by the quest for greater freedoms of speech and individual choice. These ideals have proven again and again to be a mighty historical force for change.

It is not surprising, therefore, that appeals to freedom and liberty surround the United States rhetorically at every turn and populate all manner of contemporary political manifestos. This has been particularly true of the United States in recent years. On the first anniversary of the attacks now known as 9/11, President Bush wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times that extracted ideas from a U.S. National Defense Strategy document issued shortly thereafter. "A peaceful world of growing freedom," he wrote, even as his cabinet geared up to go to war with Iraq, "serves American long-term interests, reflects enduring American ideals and unites Americas allies." "Humanity," he concluded, "holds in its hands the opportunity to offer freedom s triumph over all its age-old foes," and "the United States welcomes its responsibilities to lead in this great mission." Even more emphatically, he later proclaimed that "freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world" and "as the greatest power on earth [the United States has] an obligation to help the spread of freedom." 2

So when all of the other reasons for engaging in a preemptive war against Iraq were proven fallacious or at least wanting, the Bush administration increasingly appealed to the idea that the freedom conferred upon Iraq was in and of itself an adequate justification for the war. But what sort of freedom was envisaged here, since, as the cultural critic Matthew Arnold long ago thoughtfully observed, "Freedom is a very good horse to ride, but to ride somewhere." 3 To what destination, then, were the Iraqi people expected to ride the horse of freedom so selflessly conferred to them by force of arms?

The U.S. answer was spelled out on September 19, 2003, when Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, promulgated four orders that included "the full privatization of public enterprises, full ownership rights by foreign firms of Iraqi U.S. businesses, full repatriation of foreign profits . . . the opening of Iraq's banks to foreign control, national treatment for foreign companies and . . . the elimination of nearly all trade barriers." 4 The orders were to apply to all areas of the economy, including public services, the media, manufacturing, services, transportation, finance, and construction. Only oil was exempt. A regressive tax system favored by conservatives called a flat tax was also instituted. The right to strike was outlawed and unions banned in key sectors. An Iraqi member of the Coalition Provisional Authority protested the forced imposition of "free market fundamentalism," describing it as "a flawed logic that ignores history." 5 Yet the interim Iraqi government appointed at the end of June 2004 was accorded no power to change or write new laws -- it could only confirm the decrees already promulgated.

What the United States evidently sought to impose upon Iraq was a full-fledged neoliberal state apparatus whose fundamental mission was and is to facilitate conditions for profitable capital accumulation for all comers, Iraqis and foreigners alike. The Iraqis were, in short, expected to ride their horse of freedom straight into the corral of neoliberalism. According to neoliberal theory, Bremers decrees are both necessary and sufficient for the creation of wealth and therefore for the improved well-being of the Iraqi people. They are the proper foundation for an adequate rule of law, individual liberty, and democratic governance. The insurrection that followed can in part be interpreted as Iraqi resistance to being driven into the embrace of free market fundamentalism against their own will

It is useful to recall, however, that the first great experiment with neoliberal state formation was Chile after Augusto Pinochet s coup almost thirty years to the day before Bremers decrees were issued, on the "little September 11th" of 1973. The coup, against the democratically elected and leftist social democratic government of Salvador Allende, was strongly backed by the CIA and supported by U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. It violently repressed all left-of-center social movements and political organizations and dismantled all forms of popular organization, such as community health centers in poorer neighborhoods. The labor market was "freed" from regulatory or institutional restraints -- trade union power, for example. But by 1973, the policies of import substitution that had formerly dominated in Latin American attempts at economic regeneration, and that had succeeded to some degree in Brazil after the military coup of 1964, had fallen into disrepute. With the world economy in the midst of a serious recession, something new was plainly called for. A group of U.S. economists known as "the Chicago boys," because of their attachment to the neoliberal theories of Milton Friedman, then teaching at the University of Chicago, were summoned to help reconstruct the Chilean economy. They did so along free-market lines, privatizing public assets, opening up natural resources to private exploitation, and facilitating foreign direct investment and free trade. The right of foreign companies to repatriate profits from their Chilean operations was guaranteed. Export-led growth was favored over import substitution. The subsequent revival of the Chilean economy in terms of growth, capital accumulation, and high rates of return on foreign investments provided evidence upon which the subsequent turn to more open neoliberal policies in both Britain (under Thatcher) and the United States (under Reagan) could be modeled. Not for the first time, a brutal experiment in creative destruction carried out in the periphery became a model for the formulation of policies in the center. 6

The fact that two such obviously similar restructurings of the state apparatus occurred at such different times in quite different parts of the world under the coercive influence of the United States might be taken as indicative that the grim reach of U.S. imperial power might lie behind the rapid proliferation of neoliberal state forms throughout the world from the mid-1970s onward. But U.S. power and recklessness do not constitute the whole story. It was not the United States, after all, that forced Margaret Thatcher to take the neoliberal path in 1979. And during the early 1980s, Thatcher was a far more consistent advocate of neoliberalism than Reagan ever proved to be. Nor was it the United States that forced China in 1978 to follow the path that has over time brought it closer and closer to the embrace of neoliberalism. It would be hard to attribute the moves toward neoliberalism in India and Sweden in 1992 to the imperial reach of the United States. The uneven geographical development of neoliberalism on the world stage has been a very complex process entailing multiple determinations and not a little chaos and confusion. So why, then, did the neoliberal turn occur, and what were the forces compelling it onward to the point where it has now become a hegemonic system within global capitalism?

Why the Neoliberal Turn?

Toward the end of the 1960s, global capitalism was falling into disarray. A significant recession occurred in early 1973 -- the first since the great slump of the 1930s. The oil embargo and oil price hike that followed later that year in the wake of the Arab-Israeli war exacerbated critical problems. The embedded capitalism of the postwar period, with its heavy emphasis on an uneasy compact between capital and labor brokered by an interventionist state that paid great attention to the social (i.e., welfare programs) and individual wage, was no longer working. The Bretton Woods accord set up to regulate international trade and finance was finally abandoned in favor of floating exchange rates in 1973. That system had delivered high rates of growth in the advanced capitalist countries and generated some spillover benefits -- most obviously to Japan but also unevenly across South America and to some other countries of South East Asia -- during the "golden age" of capitalism in the 1950s and early 1960s. By the next decade, however, the preexisting arrangements were exhausted and a new alternative was urgently needed to restart the process of capital accumulation. 7 How and why neoliberalism emerged victorious as an answer to that quandary is a complex story. In retrospect, it may seem as if neoliberalism had been inevitable, but at the time no one really knew or understood with any certainty what kind of response would work and how.

The world stumbled toward neoliberalism through a series of gyrations and chaotic motions that eventually converged on the so-called 'Washington Consensus" in the 1990s. The uneven geographical development of neoliberalism, and its partial and lopsided application from one country to another, testifies to its tentative character and the complex ways in which political forces, historical traditions, and existing institutional arrangements all shaped why and how the process actually occurred on the ground.

There is, however, one element within this transition that deserves concerted attention. The crisis of capital accumulation of the 1970s affected everyone through the combination of rising unemployment and accelerating inflation. Discontent was widespread, and the conjoining of labor and urban social movements throughout much of the advanced capitalist world augured a socialist alternative to the social compromise between capital and labor that had grounded capital accumulation so successfully in the postwar period. Communist and socialist parties were gaining ground across much of Europe, and even in the United States popular forces were agitating for widespread reforms and state interventions in everything ranging from environmental protection to occupational safety and health and consumer protection from corporate malfeasance. There was. in this, a clear political threat to ruling classes everywhere, both in advanced capitalist countries, like Italy and France, and in many developing countries, like Mexico and Argentina.

Beyond political changes, the economic threat to the position of ruling classes was now becoming palpable. One condition of the postwar settlement in almost all countries was to restrain the economic power of the upper classes and for labor to be accorded a much larger share of the economic pie. In the United States, for example, the share of the national income taken by the top 1 percent of earners fell from a prewar high of 16 percent to less than 8 percent by the end of the Second World War and stayed close to that level for nearly three decades. While growth was strong such restraints seemed not to matter, but when growth collapsed in the 1970s, even as real interest rates went negative and dividends and profits shrunk, ruling classes felt threatened. They had to move decisively if they were to protect their power from political and economic annihilation.

The coup d'état in Chile and the military takeover in Argentina, both fomented and led internally by ruling elites with U.S. support, provided one kind of solution. But the Chilean experiment with neoliberalism demonstrated that the benefits of revived capital accumulation were highly skewed. The country and its ruling elites along with foreign investors did well enough while the people in general fared poorly. This has been such a persistent effect of neoliberal policies over time as to be regarded a structural component of the whole project. Dumenil and Levy have gone so far as to argue that neoliberalism was from the very beginning an endeavor to restore class power to the richest strata in the population. They showed how from the mid-1980s onwards, the share of the top 1 percent of income earners in the United States soared rapidly to reach 15 percent by the end of the century. Other data show that the top 0.1 percent of income earners increased their share of the national income from 2 percent in 1978 to more than 6 percent by 1999. Yet another measure shows that the ratio of the median compensation of workers to the salaries of chief executive officers increased from just over thirty to one in 1970 to more than four hundred to one by 2000. Almost certainly, with the Bush administrations tax cuts now taking effect, the concentration of income and of wealth in the upper echelons of society is continuing apace. 8

And the United States is not alone in this: the top 1 percent of income earners in Britain doubled their share of the national income from 6.5 percent to 13 percent over the past twenty years. When we look further afield, we see extraordinary concentrations of wealth and power within a small oligarchy after the application of neoliberal shock therapy in Russia and a staggering surge in income inequalities and wealth in China as it adopts neoliberal practices. While there are exceptions to this trend -- several East and Southeast Asian countries have contained income inequalities within modest bounds, as have France and the Scandinavian countries -- the evidence suggests that the neoliberal turn is in some way and to some degree associated with attempts to restore or reconstruct upper-class power.

We can, therefore, examine the history of neoliberalism either as a utopian project providing a theoretical template for the reorganization of international capitalism or as a political scheme aimed at reestablishing the conditions for capital accumulation and the restoration of class power. In what follows, I shall argue that the last of these objectives has dominated. Neoliberalism has not proven effective at revitalizing global capital accumulation, but it has succeeded in restoring class power. As a consequence, the theoretical utopianism of the neoliberal argument has worked more as a system of justification and legitimization. The principles of neoliberalism are quickly abandoned whenever they conflict with this class project.

Neoliberalism has not proven effective at revitalizing global capital accumulation, but it has succeeded in restoring class power.

Toward the Restoration of Class Power

If there were movements to restore class power within global capitalism, then how were they enacted and by whom? The answer to that question in countries such as Chile and Argentina was simple: a swift, brutal, and self-assured military coup backed by the upper classes and the subsequent fierce repression of all solidarities created within the labor and urban social movements that had so threatened their power. Elsewhere, as in Britain and Mexico in 1976, it took the gentle prodding of a not yet fiercely neoliberal International Monetary Fund to push countries toward practices -- although by no means policy commitment -- to cut back on social expenditures and welfare programs to reestablish fiscal probity. In Britain, of course, Margaret Thatcher later took up the neoliberal cudgel with a vengeance in 1979 and wielded it to great effect, even though she never fully overcame opposition within her own party and could never effectively challenge such centerpieces of the welfare state as the National Health Service. Interestingly, it was only in 2004 that the Labour Government dared to introduce a fee structure into higher education. The process of neoliberalization has been halting, geographically uneven, and heavily influenced by class structures and other social forces moving for or against its central propositions within particular state formations and even within particular sectors, for example, health or education. 9

It is informative to look more closely at how the process unfolded in the United States, since this case was pivotal as an influence on other and more recent transformations. Various threads of power intertwined to create a transition that culminated in the mid-1990s with the takeover of Congress by the Republican Party. That feat represented in fact a neoliberal "Contract with America" as a program for domestic action. Before that dramatic denouement, however, many steps were taken, each building upon and reinforcing the other.

To begin with, by 1970 or so, there was a growing sense among the U.S. upper classes that the anti-business and anti-imperialist climate that had emerged toward the end of the 1960s had gone too far. In a celebrated memo, Lewis Powell (about to be elevated to the Supreme Court by Richard Nixon) urged the American Chamber of Commerce in 1971 to mount a collective campaign to demonstrate that what was good for business was good for America. Shortly thereafter, a shadowy but influential Business Round Table was formed that still exists and plays a significant strategic role in Republican Party politics. Corporate political action committees, legalized under the post-Watergate campaign finance laws of 1974, proliferated like wildfire. With their activities protected under the First Amendment as a form of free speech in a 1976 Supreme Court decision, the systematic capture of the Republican Party as a class instrument of collective (rather than particular or individual) corporate and financial power began. But the Republican Party needed a popular base, and that proved more problematic to achieve. The incorporation of leaders of the Christian right, depicted as a moral majority, together with the Business Round Table provided the solution to that problem. A large segment of a disaffected, insecure, and largely white working class was persuaded to vote consistently against its own material interests on cultural (anti-liberal, anti-Black, antifeminist and antigay), nationalist and religious grounds. By the mid-1990s, the Republican Party had lost almost all of its liberal elements and become a homogeneous right-wing machine connecting the financial resources of large corporate capital with a populist base, the Moral Majority, that was particularly strong in the U.S. South. 10

The second element in the U.S. transition concerned fiscal discipline. The recession of 1973 to 1975 diminished tax revenues at all levels at a time of rising demand for social expenditures. Deficits emerged everywhere as a key problem. Something had to be done about the fiscal crisis of the state; the restoration of monetary discipline was essential. That conviction empowered financial institutions that controlled the lines of credit to government. In 1975, they refused to roll over New York's debt and forced that city to the edge of bankruptcy. A powerful cabal of bankers joined together with the state to tighten control over the city. This meant curbing the aspirations of municipal unions, layoffs in public employment, wage freezes, cutbacks in social provision (education, public health, and transport services), and the imposition of user fees (tuition was introduced in the CUNY university system for the first time). The bailout entailed the construction of new institutions that had first rights to city tax revenues in order to pay off bond holders: whatever was left went into the city budget for essential services. The final indignity was a requirement that municipal unions invest their pension funds in city bonds. This ensured that unions moderate their demands to avoid the danger of losing their pension funds through city bankruptcy.

Such actions amounted to a coup d'état by financial institutions against the democratically elected government of New York City, and they were every bit as effective as the military overtaking that had earlier occurred in Chile. Much of the city's social infrastructure was destroyed, and the physical foundations (e.g., the transit system) deteriorated markedly for lack of investment or even maintenance. The management of New York's fiscal crisis paved the way for neoliberal practices both domestically under Ronald Reagan and internationally through the International Monetary Fund throughout the 1980s. It established a principle that, in the event of a conflict between the integrity of financial institutions and bondholders on one hand and the well-being of the citizens on the other, the former would be given preference. It hammered home the view that the role of government was to create a good business climate rather than look to the needs and well-being of the population at large. Fiscal redistributions to benefit the upper classes resulted in the midst of a general fiscal crisis.

Whether all the agents involved in producing this compromise in New York understood it at the time as a tactic for the restoration of upper-class power is an open question. The need to maintain fiscal discipline is a matter of deep concern in its own right and does not have to lead to the restitution of class dominance. It is unlikely, therefore, that Felix Rohatyn, the key merchant banker who brokered the deal between the city, the state, and the financial institutions, had the reinstatement of class power in mind. But this objective probably was very much in the thoughts of the investment bankers. It was almost certainly the aim of then-Secretary of the Treasury William Simon who, having watched the progress of events in Chile with approval, refused to give aid to New York and openly stated that he wanted that city to suffer so badly that no other city in the nation would ever dare take on similar social obligations again. 11

The third element in the U.S. transition entailed an ideological assault upon the media and upon educational institutions. Independent "think tanks" financed by wealthy individuals and corporate donors proliferated -- the Heritage Foundation in the lead -- to prepare an ideological onslaught aimed at persuading the public of the commonsense character of neoliberal propositions. A flood of policy papers and proposals and a veritable army of well-paid hired lieutenants trained to promote neoliberal ideas coupled with the corporate acquisition of media channels effectively transformed the discursive climate in the United States by the mid-1980s. The project to "get government off the backs of the people" and to shrink government to the point where it could be "drowned in a bathtub" was loudly proclaimed. With respect to this, the promoters of the new gospel found a ready audience in that wing of the 1968 movement whose goal was greater individual liberty and freedom from state power and the manipulations of monopoly capital. The libertarian argument for neoliberalism proved a powerful force for change. To the degree that capitalism reorganized to both open a space for individual entrepreneurship and switch its efforts to satisfy innumerable niche markets, particularly those defined by sexual liberation, that were spawned out of an increasingly individualized consumerism, so it could match words with deeds.

This carrot of individualized entrepreneurship and consumerism was backed by the big stick wielded by the state and financial institutions against that other wing of the 1968 movement whose members had sought social justice through collective negotiation and social solidarities. Reagan's destruction of the air traffic controllers (PATCO) in 1980 and Margaret Thatchers defeat of the British miners in 1984 were crucial moments in the global turn toward neoliberalism. The assault upon institutions, such as trade unions and welfare rights organizations, that sought to protect and further working-class interests was as broad as it was deep. The savage cutbacks in social expenditures and the welfare state, and the passing of all responsibility for their well-being to individuals and their families proceeded apace. But these practices did not and could not stop at national borders. After 1980, the United States, now firmly committed to neoliberalization and clearly backed by Britain, sought, through a mix of leadership, persuasion -- the economics departments of U.S. research universities played a major role in training many of the economists from around the world in neoliberal principles -- and coercion to export neoliberalization far and wide. The purge of Keynesian economists and their replacement by neoliberal monetarists in the International Monetary Fund in 1982 transformed the U.S.-dominated IMF into a prime agent of neoliberalization through its structural adjustment programs visited upon any state (and there were many in the 1980s and 1990s) that required its help with debt repayments. The Washington Consensus that was forged in the 1990s and the negotiating rules set up under the World Trade Organization in 1998 confirmed the global turn toward neoliberal practices. 12

The new international compact also depended upon the reanimation and reconfiguration of the U.S. imperial tradition. That tradition had been forged in Central America in the 1920s, as a form of domination without colonies. Independent republics could be kept under the thumb of the United States and effectively act, in the best of cases, as proxies for U.S. interests through the support of strongmen -- like Somoza in Nicaragua, the Shah in Iran, and Pinochet in Chile -- and a coterie of followers backed by military assistance and financial aid. Covert aid was available to promote the rise to power of such leaders, but by the 1970s it became clear that something else was needed: the opening of markets, of new spaces for investment, and clear fields where financial powers could operate securely. This entailed a much closer integration of the global economy with a well-defined financial architecture. The creation of new institutional practices, such as those set out by the IMF and the WTO, provided convenient vehicles through which financial and market power could be exercised. The model required collaboration among the top capitalist powers and the Group of Seven (G7), bringing Europe and Japan into alignment with the United States to shape the global financial and trading system in ways that effectively forced all other nations to submit. "Rogue nations," defined as those that failed to conform to these global rules, could then be dealt with by sanctions or coercive and even military force if necessary. In this way, U.S. neoliberal imperialist strategies were articulated through a global network of power relations, one effect of which was to permit the U.S. upper classes to exact financial tribute and command rents from the rest of the world as a means to augment their already hegemonic control. 13

Neoliberalism as Creative Destruction

In what ways has neoliberalization resolved the problems of flagging capital accumulation? Its actual record in stimulating economic growth is dismal. Aggregate growth rates stood at 3.5 percent or so in the 1960s and even during the troubled 1970s fell to only 2.4 percent. The subsequent global growth rates of 1.4 percent and 1.1 percent for the 1980s and 1990s, and a rate that barely touches 1 percent since 2000, indicate that neoliberalism has broadly failed to

In what ways has neoliberalization resolved the problems of flagging capital accumulation? Its actual record in stimulating economic growth is dismal. Aggregate growth rates stood at 3.5 percent or so in the 1960s and even during the troubled 1970s fell to only 2.4 percent. The subsequent global growth rates of 1.4 percent and 1.1 percent for the 1980s and 1990s, and a rate that barely touches 1 percent since 2000, indicate that neoliberalism has broadly failed to stimulate worldwide growth. 14 Even if we exclude from this calculation the catastrophic effects of the collapse of the Russian and some Central European economies in the wake of the neoliberal shock therapy treatment of the 1990s, global economic performance from the standpoint of restoring the conditions of general capital accumulation has been weak.

Despite their rhetoric about curing sick economies, neither Britain nor the United States achieved high economic performance in the 1980s. That decade belonged to Japan, the East Asian "Tigers," and West Germany as powerhouses of the global economy. Such countries were very successful, but their radically different institutional arrangements make it difficult to pin their achievements on neoliberalism. The West German Bundesbank had taken a strong monetarist line (consistent with neoliberalism) for more than two decades, a fact suggesting that there is no necessary connection between monetarism per se and the quest to restore class power. In West Germany, the unions remained strong and wage levels stayed relatively high alongside the construction of a progressive welfare state. One of the effects of this combination was to stimulate a high rate of technological innovation that kept West Germany well ahead in the field of international competition. Export-led production moved the country forward as a global leader.

In Japan, independent unions were weak or nonexistent, but state investment in technological and organizational change and the tight relationship between corporations and financial institutions (an arrangement that also proved felicitous in West Germany) generated an astonishing export-led growth performance, very much at the expense of other capitalist economies such as the United Kingdom and the United States. Such growth as there was in the 1980s (and the aggregate rate of growth in the world was lower even than that of the troubled 1970s) did not depend, therefore, on neoliberalization. Many European states therefore resisted neoliberal reforms and increasingly found ways to preserve much of their social democratic heritage while moving, in some cases fairly successfully, toward the West German model. In Asia, the Japanese model implanted under authoritarian systems of governance in South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore also proved viable and consistent with reasonable equality of distribution. It was only in the 1990s that neoliberalization began to pay off for both the United States and Britain. This happened in the midst of a long-drawn-out period of deflation in Japan and relative stagnation in a newly unified Germany. Up for debate is whether the Japanese recession occurred as a simple result of competitive pressures or whether it was engineered by financial agents in the United States to humble the Japanese economy.

So why, then, in the face of this patchy if not dismal record, have so many been persuaded that neoliberalization is a successful solution? Over and beyond the persistent stream of propaganda emanating from the neoliberal think tanks and suffusing the media, two material reasons stand out. First, neoliberalization has been accompanied by increasing volatility within global capitalism. That success was to materialize somewhere obscured the reality that neoliberalism was generally failing. Periodic episodes of growth interspersed with phases of creative destruction, usually registered as severe financial crises. Argentina was opened up to foreign capital and privatization in the 1990s and for several years was the darling of Wall Street, only to collapse into disaster as international capital withdrew at the end of the decade. Financial collapse and social devastation was quickly followed by a long political crisis. Financial turmoil proliferated all over the developing world, and in some instances, such as Brazil and Mexico, repeated waves of structural adjustment and austerity led to economic paralysis.

On the other hand, neoliberalism has been a huge success from the standpoint of the upper classes. It has either restored class position to ruling elites, as in the United States and Britain, or created conditions for capitalist class formation, as in China, India, Russia, and elsewhere. Even countries that have suffered extensively from neoliberalization have seen the massive reordering of class structures internally. The wave of privatization that came to Mexico with the Salinas de Gortari administration in 1992 spawned unprecedented concentrations of wealth in the hands of a few people (Carlos Slim, tor example, who took over the state telephone system and became an instant billionaire).

With the media dominated by upper-class interests, the myth could be propagated that certain sectors failed because they were not competitive enough, thereby setting the stage for even more neoliberal reforms. Increased social inequality was necessary to encourage entrepreneurial risk and innovation, and these, in turn, conferred competitive advantage and stimulated growth. If conditions among the lower classes deteriorated, it was because they failed for personal and cultural reasons to enhance their own human capital through education, the acquisition of a protestant work ethic, and submission to work discipline and flexibility. In short, problems arose because of the lack of competitive strength or because of personal, cultural, and political failings. In a Spencerian world, the argument went, only the fittest should and do survive. Systemic problems were masked under a blizzard of ideological pronouncements and a plethora of localized crises.

If the main effect of neoliberalism has been redistributive rather than generative, then ways had to be found to transfer assets and channel wealth and income either from the mass of the population toward the upper classes or from vulnerable to richer countries. I have elsewhere provided an account of these processes under the rubric of accumulation by dispossession. 15 By this, I mean the continuation and proliferation of accretion practices that Marx had designated as "primitive" or "original" during the rise of capitalism. These include

(1) the commodification and privatization of land and me forceful expulsion or peasant populations {as in Mexico and India in recent times);

(2) conversion of various forms of property rights (common, collective, state, etc.) into exclusively private property rights;

(3) suppression of rights to the commons;

(4) commodification of labor power and the suppression of alternative (indigenous) forms of production and consumption;

(5) colonial, neocolonial, and imperial processes of appropriation of assets (including natural resources); (6) monetization of exchange and taxation, particularly of land;

(7) the slave trade (which continues, particularly in the sex industry); and

(8) usury, the national debt, and, most devastating of all, the use of the credit system as radical means of primitive accumulation.

The state, with its monopoly of violence and definitions of legality, plays a crucial role in backing and promoting these processes. To this list of mechanisms, we may now add a raft of additional techniques, such as the extraction of rents from patents and intellectual property rights and the diminution or erasure of various forms of communal property rights -- such as state pensions, paid vacations, access to education, and health care -- won through a generation or more of social democratic struggles. The proposal to privatize all state pension rights (pioneered in Chile under Augusto Pinochet s dictatorship) is, for example, one of the cherished objectives of neoliberals in the United States.

In the cases of China and Russia, it might be reasonable to refer to recent events in "primitive" and "original" terms, but the practices that restored class power to capitalist elites in the United States and elsewhere are best described as an ongoing process of accumulation by dispossession that grew rapidly under neoliberalism. In what follows, I isolate four main elements.

1. Privatization

The corporatization, commodification, and privatization of hitherto public assets have been signal features of the neoliberal project. Its primary aim has been to open up new fields for capital accumulation in domains formerly regarded off-limits to the calculus of profitability. Public utilities of all lands (water, telecommunications, transportation), social welfare provision (public housing, education, health care, pensions), public institutions (such as universities, research laboratories, prisons), and even warfare (as illustrated by the "army" of private contractors operating alongside the armed forces in Iraq) have all been privatized to some degree throughout the capitalist world.

Intellectual property rights established through the so-called TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement within the WTO defines genetic materials, seed plasmas, and all manner of other products as private property. Rents for use can then be extracted from populations whose practices had played a crucial role in the development of such genetic materials. Bio-piracy is rampant, and the pillaging of the worlds stockpile of genetic resources is well under way to the benefit of a few large pharmaceutical companies. The escalating depletion of the global environmental commons (land, air, water) and proliferating habitat degradations that preclude anything but capital-intensive modes of agricultural production have likewise resulted from the wholesale commodification of nature in all its forms. The commodification (through tourism) of cultural forms, histories, and intellectual creativity entails wholesale dispossessions (the music industry is notorious for the appropriation and exploitation of grassroots culture and creativity). As in the past, the power of the state is frequently used to force such processes through even against popular will. The rolling back of regulatory frameworks designed to protect labor and the environment from degradation has entailed the loss of rights. The reversion of common property rights won through years of hard class struggle (the right to a state pension, to welfare, to national health care) into the private domain has been one of the most egregious of all policies of dispossession pursued in the name of neoliberal orthodoxy.

The corporatization, commodification, and privatization of hitherto public assets have been signal features of the neoliberal project.

All of these processes amount to the transfer of assets from the public and popular realms to the private and class-privileged domains. Privatization, Arundhati Roy argued with respect to the Indian case, entails "the transfer of productive public assets from the state to private companies. Productive assets include natural resources: earth, forest, water, air. These are the assets that the state holds in trust for the people it represents. ... To snatch these away and sell them as stock to private companies is a process of barbaric dispossession on a scale that has no parallel in history." 16

2. Financialization

The strong financial wave that set in after 1980 has been marked by its speculative and predatory style. The total daily turnover of financial transactions in international markets that stood at $2.3 billion in 1983 had risen to $130 billion by 2001. This $40 trillion annual turnover in 2001 compares to the estimated $800 billion that would be required to support international trade and productive investment flows. 17 Deregulation allowed the financial system to become one of the main centers of redistributive activity through speculation, predation, fraud, and thievery. Stock promotions; Ponzi schemes; structured asset destruction through inflation; asset stripping through mergers and acquisitions; and the promotion of debt incumbency that reduced whole populations, even in the advanced capitalist countries, to debt peonage -- to say nothing of corporate fraud and dispossession of assets, such as the raiding of pension hinds and their decimation by stock and corporate collapses through credit and stock manipulations -- are all features of the capitalist financial system.

The emphasis on stock values, which arose after bringing together the interests of owners and managers of capital through the remuneration of the latter in stock options, led, as we now know, to manipulations in the market that created immense wealth for a few at the expense of the many. The spectacular collapse of Enron was emblematic of a general process that deprived many of their livelihoods and pension rights. Beyond this, we also must look at the speculative raiding carried out by hedge funds and other major instruments of finance capital that formed the real cutting edge of accumulation by dispossession on the global stage, even as they supposedly conferred the positive benefit to the capitalist class of spreading risks.

3. The management and manipulation of crises

Beyond the speculative and often fraudulent froth that characterizes much of neoliberal financial manipulation, there lies a deeper process that entails the springing of the debt trap as a primary means of accumulation by dispossession. Crisis creation, management, and manipulation on the world stage has evolved into the fine art of deliberative redistribution of wealth from poor countries to the rich. By suddenly raising interest rates in 1979, Paul Volcker, then chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, raised the proportion of foreign earnings that borrowing countries had to put to debt-interest payments. Forced into bankruptcy, countries like Mexico had to agree to structural adjustment. While proclaiming its role as a noble leader organizing bailouts to keep global capital accumulation stable and on track, the United States could also open the way to pillage the Mexican economy through deployment of its superior financial power under conditions of local crisis. This was what the U.S. Treasury/Wall Street/IMF complex became expert at doing everywhere. Volker s successor, Alan Greenspan, resorted to similar tactics several times in the 1990s. Debt crises in individual countries, uncommon in the 1960s, became frequent during the 1980s and 1990s. Hardly any developing country remained untouched and in some cases, as in Latin America, such crises were frequent enough to be considered endemic. These

debt crises were orchestrated, managed, and controlled both to rationalize the system and to redistribute assets during the 1980s and 1990s. Wade and Veneroso captured the essence of this trend when they wrote of the Asian crisis -- provoked initially by the operation of U.S.-based hedge funds -- of 1997 and 1998:

Financial crises have always caused transfers of ownership and power to those who keep their own assets intact and who are in a position to create credit, and the Asian crisis is no exception . . . there is no doubt that Western and Japanese corporations are the big winners. . . . The combination of massive devaluations pushed financial liberalization, and IMF-facilitated recovery may even precipitate the biggest peacetime transfer of assets from domestic to foreign owners in the past fifty years anywhere in the world, dwarfing the transfers from domestic to U.S. owners in Latin America in the 1980s or in Mexico after 1994. One recalls the statement attributed to Andrew Mellon: "In a depression assets return to their rightful owners." 18

The analogy to the deliberate creation of unemployment to produce a pool of low-wage surplus labor convenient for further accumulation is precise. Valuable assets are thrown out of use and lose their value. They lie fallow and dormant until capitalists possessed of liquidity choose to seize upon them and breathe new life into them. The danger, however, is that crises can spin out of control and become generalized, or that revolts will arise against the system that creates them. One of the prime functions of state interventions and of international institutions is to orchestrate crises and devaluations in ways that permit accumulation by dispossession to occur without sparking a general collapse or popular revolt. The structural adjustment program administered by the Wall Street/Treasury/ IMF complex takes care of the first function. It is the job of the comprador neoliberal state apparatus (backed by military assistance from the imperial powers) to ensure that insurrections do not occur in whichever country has been raided. Yet signs of popular revolt have emerged, first with the Zapatista uprising in Mexico in 1994 and later in the generalized discontent that informed anti-globalization movements such as the one that culminated in Seattle in 1999.

4. State redistributions

The state, once transformed into a neoliberal set of institutions, becomes a prime agent of redistributive policies, reversing the flow from upper to lower classes that had been implemented during the preceding social democratic era. It does this in the first instance through privatization schemes and cutbacks in government expenditures meant to support the social wage. Even when privatization appears as beneficial to the lower classes, the long-term effects can be negative. At first blush, for example, Thatchers program for the privatization of social housing in Britain appeared as a gift to the lower classes whose members could now convert from rental to ownership at a relatively low cost, gain control over a valuable asset, and augment their wealth. But once the transfer was accomplished, housing speculation took over particularly in prime central locations, eventually bribing or forcing low-income populations out to the periphery in cities like London and turning erstwhile working-class housing estates into centers of intense gentrification. The loss of affordable housing in central areas produced homelessness for many and extraordinarily long commutes for those who did have low-paying service jobs. The privatization of the ejidos (indigenous common property rights in land under the Mexican constitution) in Mexico, which became a central component of the neoliberal program set up during the 1990s, has had analogous effects on the Mexican peasantry, forcing many rural dwellers into the cities in search of employment. The Chinese state has taken a whole series of draconian measures through which assets have been conferred upon a small elite to the detriment of the masses.

The neoliberal state also seeks redistributions through a variety of other means such as revisions in the tax code to benefit returns on investment rather than incomes and wages, promotion of regressive elements in the tax code (such as sales taxes), displacement of state expenditures and free access to all by user fees (e.g., on higher education), and the provision of a vast array of subsidies and tax breaks to corporations. The welfare programs that now exist in the United States at federal, state, and local levels amount to a vast redirection of public moneys for corporate benefit (directly as in the case of subsidies to agribusiness and indirectly as in the case of the military-industrial sector), in much the same way that the mortgage interest rate tax deduction operates in the United States as a massive subsidy to upper-income home owners and the construction of industry. Heightened surveillance and policing and, in the case of the United States, the incarceration of recalcitrant elements in the population indicate a more sinister role of intense social control. In developing countries, where opposition to neoliberalism and accumulation by dispossession can be stronger, the role of the neoliberal state quickly assumes that of active repression even to the point of low level warfare against oppositional movements (many of which can now conveniently be designated as terrorist to garner U.S. military assistance and support) such as the Zapatistas in Mexico or landless peasants in Brazil.

In effect, reported Roy, "India's rural economy, which supports seven hundred million people, is being garroted. Farmers who produce too much are in distress, farmers who produce too little are in distress, and landless agricultural laborers are out of work as big estates and farms lay off their workers. They're all flocking to the cities in search of employment." 19 In China, the estimate is that at least half a billion people will have to be absorbed by urbanization over the next ten years if rural mayhem and revolt is to be avoided. What those migrants will do in the cities remains unclear, though the vast physical infrastructural plans now in the works will go some way to absorbing the labor surpluses released by primitive accumulation.

The redistributive tactics of neoliberalism are wide-ranging, sophisticated, frequently masked by ideological gambits, but devastating for the dignity and social well-being of vulnerable populations and territories. The wave of creative destruction neoliberalization has visited across the globe is unparalleled in the history of capitalism. Understandably, it has spawned resistance and a search for viable alternatives.

[Sep 19, 2017] Time for a Conservative Anti-Monopoly Movement by Daniel Kishi

Sep 19, 2017 |

Amazon, Facebook and Google: The new robber barons?

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in 2010. Credit: /CreativeCommons/SteveJurvetson Earlier this month Amazon, announced its plans to establish a second headquarters in North America. Rather than simply reveal which city would become its second home, the Seattle-based tech company opted instead to open a bidding war. In an eight page document published on its website, Amazon outlined the criteria for prospective suitors, and invited economic developers to submit proposals advocating for why their city or region should be the host of the new location.

Its potential arrival comes with the claim that the company will invest more than $5 billion in construction and generate up to 50,000 "high paying jobs." Mayors and governors, hard at work crafting their bids, are no doubt salivating at the mere thought of such economic activity. Journalists and editorial teams in eligible metropolises are also playing their parts, as newspapers have published a series of articles and editorials making the case for why their city should be declared the winner.

Last Tuesday Bloomberg reported that Boston was the early frontrunner, sending a wave of panic across the continent. Much to the relief of the other contenders, Amazon quickly discredited the report as misinformation, announcing in a series of tweets on Wednesday that it is "energized by the response from cities across [North America]" and that, contrary to the rumors, there are currently no front-runners on their "equal playing field."

That Amazon is "energized" should come as no surprise. Most companies would also be energized by the taxpayer-funded windfall that is likely coming its way. Reporters speculate that the winner of the sweepstakes!in no small part to the bidding war format!could be forced to cough up hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local subsidies for the privilege of hosting Amazon's expansion.

Amazon has long been the beneficiary of such subsidies, emerging in recent years as a formidable opponent to Walmart as the top recipient of corporate welfare. According to Good Jobs First, a Washington, D.C. organization dedicated to corporate and government accountability, Amazon has received more than $1 billion in local and state subsidies since 2000. With a business plan dedicated to amassing long-term market share in lieu of short-term profits, Amazon, under the leadership of its founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, operates on razor-thin profit margins in most industries, while actually operating at a loss in others. As such, these state and local subsidies have played an instrumental role in Amazon's growth

Advocates of free market enterprise should be irate over the company's crony capitalist practices and the cities and states that enable it. But more so than simply ruffling the feathers of the libertarian-minded, Amazon's shameless solicitation for subsidies capped off a series of summer skirmishes in the Democratic left's emerging war against monopolies.

Earlier this summer when Amazon announced its $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods, antitrust advocates called upon the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission's Antitrust Division to block the sale and update the United States government's legal definition of monopoly. Although the acquisition!which was approved in August!only gives Amazon a 1.5 percent market share in the grocery industry, it more importantly provides the tech giant with access to more than 450 brick-and-mortar Whole Foods locations. Critics say that these physical locations will prove invaluable to its long term plan of economic dominance, and that it is but the latest advance in the company's unprecedented control of the economy's underlying infrastructure.

Google also found itself in the crosshairs of the left's anti-monopoly faction when, in late June, the European Union imposed a $2.7 billion fine against the tech company for anti-competitive search engine manipulation in violation of its antitrust laws. The Open Markets Program of the New America Foundation subsequently published a press release applauding the EU's decision. Two months later, the Open Markets Program was axed . The former program director Barry Lynn claims that his employers caved to pressure from a corporation that has donated more than $21 million to the New America Foundation. The fallout emboldened journalists to share their experiences of being silenced by the tech giant, and underscores the influence Google exerts over think tanks and academics

Most recently, Facebook faced criticism after it was discovered that a Russian company with ties to the Kremlin purchased $100,000 in ads from the social media company in an effort to influence the 2016 presidential election. Facebook, as a result, has become the latest subject of interest in Robert Mueller's special investigation into Russian interference in last fall's election. But regardless of whether the ads influenced the outcome, the report elicited demands for transparency and oversight in a digital ad marketplace that Facebook, along with Google, dominates . By using highly sophisticated algorithms, Facebook and Google receive more than 60 percent of all digital ad revenue, threatening the financial solvency of publishers and creating a host of economic incentives that pollute editorial autonomy.

While the Democratic left!in an effort to rejuvenate its populist soul !has been at the front lines in the war against these modern-day robber barons, Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute of Local Self-Reliance, suggests that opposition to corporate consolidation need not be a partisan issue. In a piece published in The Atlantic , Mitchell traces the bipartisan history of anti-monopoly sentiment in American politics. She writes :

If "monopoly" sounds like a word from another era, that's because, until recently, it was. Throughout the middle of the 20th century, the term was frequently used in newspaper headlines, campaign speeches, and State of the Union addresses delivered by Republican and Democratic presidents alike. Breaking up too-powerful companies was a bipartisan goal and on the minds of many voters. But, starting in the 1970s, the word retreated from the public consciousness. Not coincidentally, at the same time, the enforcement of anti-monopoly policy grew increasingly toothless.

Although the modern Republican Party stands accused of cozying up with corporate interests, the history of conservative thought has a rich intellectual tradition of being skeptical!if not hostile!towards economic consolidation. For conservatives and libertarians wedded to the tenets of free market orthodoxy!or for Democrats dependent on campaign contributions from a donor class of Silicon Valley tycoons!redefining the legal definition of monopoly and rekindling a bipartisan interest in antitrust enforcement are likely non-starters.

But for conservatives willing to break from the principles of free market fundamentalism, the papal encyclicals of the Roman Catholic Church, the distributist thought of Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton, the social criticism of Christopher Lasch, and the observations of agrarian essayist Wendell Berry provide an intellectual framework from which conservatives can critique and combat concentrated economic power. With a respect for robust and resilient localities and a keen understanding of the moral dangers posed by an economy perpetuated by consumerism and convenience, these writers appeal to the moral imaginations of the reader, issuing warnings about the detrimental effects that economic consolidation has on the person, the family, the community, and society at large.

The events of this summer underscore the immense political power wielded by our economy's corporate giants. To those who recognize the dangers posed by our age of consolidation, the skirmishes from this summer could serve as a rallying cry in a bipartisan war for independence from our corporate crown.

Daniel Kishi is an editorial assistant at The American Conservative . Follow him on Twitter at @DanielMKishi

[Jun 18, 2017] Amazon is monopolist which just became bigger

Jun 18, 2017 |

Fred C. Dobbs , June 17, 2017 at 01:59 AM

(Is this anything?)

The Amazon-Walmart Showdown That Explains the Modern
Economy via @UpshotNYT
NYT - Neil Irwin - June 16

With Amazon buying the high-end grocery chain Whole Foods, something retail analysts have known for years is now apparent to everyone: The online retailer is on a collision course with Walmart to try to be the predominant seller of pretty much everything you buy.

Each one is trying to become more like the other - Walmart by investing heavily in its technology, Amazon by opening physical bookstores and now buying physical supermarkets. But this is more than a battle between two business titans. Their rivalry sheds light on the shifting economics of nearly every major industry, replete with winner-take-all effects and huge advantages that accrue to the biggest and best-run organizations, to the detriment of upstarts and second-fiddle players.

That in turn has been a boon for consumers but also has more worrying implications for jobs, wages and inequality.

To understand this epic shift, you can look not just to the grocery business, but also to my closet, and to another retail acquisition announced Friday morning. ...

Walmart to Buy Bonobos, Men's Wear Company, for $310 Million

paine - , June 17, 2017 at 08:10 AM
When you lose confidence in your
existing biz you buy bizes
Fred C. Dobbs - , June 17, 2017 at 10:19 AM
It turns out Neil Irwin has
a thing for fine dress shirts.
pgl - , June 17, 2017 at 10:41 AM
WTF? Amazon has not lost confidence in creating a monopsony for buying and selling stuff. It just expanded their empire to groceries.
Paine - , June 17, 2017 at 12:35 PM
Cornering as many markets as possible
is a fools mission

The problem
corporations get to keep their cash flow

Review the nonsense oil companies got into when rolling in cash
Thanks to OPEC

pgl - , June 17, 2017 at 02:38 PM
WTF? You clearly never looked at Amazon's income statement.
JohnH - , June 17, 2017 at 04:28 PM
Amazon's business model is to become the dominant intermediary between producers and consumers.

Whole Foods positions it to ideally serve this role in every local market in stop shopping, whether you're buying from China or from the local Chinatown.

When a company like Amazon is capturing market share, profits don't matter, as its stock price shows.

And Bezos ownerships of the Washington Post gives him a powerful bully pulpit against anyone with thoughts about anti-trust...that and his deep pockets.

cm - , June 17, 2017 at 12:38 PM
I wouldn't call it confidence. Any line or mode of business can be grown only to a certain size. At some point S-curve effects and scale complexity lead to diminishing returns, even if the business is managed as well as it can be. Also in some cases there may simply not be enough demand for the one or few things the company does.

Then companies have to branch out into other ways of business, typically outside their current activities. Sometimes there is synergy, sometimes not, and it's just about buying market and revenue with the imagination one can manage it better to a higher rate of profit.

Paine - , June 17, 2017 at 01:31 PM

They can turn into passive cash cows

cm - , June 17, 2017 at 04:40 PM
Yes, though usually there is a growth mandate imposed by management or "investors".
Paine - , June 18, 2017 at 07:11 AM
Now we are in the heart of darkness

Growth mandates
Where growth is earnings
Or revenues or market shares or

And indeed too often
management v stock holders mandates overt or tacit obtain

Gibbon1 - , June 17, 2017 at 10:19 PM
Comment over brunch: Must be getting late in the cycle. Amazon shrewdly using it's internet valuation to buy tangible things.
Paine - , June 18, 2017 at 07:11 AM

[May 30, 2017] The tendency toward monopoly among data gathering disrupters

May 26, 2017 |
point May 26, 2017 at 05:55 AM

An enlightening discussion on the tendency toward monopoly among data gathering disrupters. Especially important seems to be the possibility of fine-grained price discrimination. While saying not all price discrimination is considered negative by economists without studying it, it does seem discrimination should be taken as prima facie evidence of monopoly.

While the article talks about monopoly and capture in this area, let me reiterate that looking around the more regular corporate ecosystem there is increasing concentration among buyers and often among suppliers that seems not to attract anti-trust attention as long as the final consumer seems to be not harmed. "Not harmed" does not include missing out on falling prices no longer competed for.

[May 27, 2017] "Markets Today Are Radically Different Than What We Believe - We Have the Façade of Competition -

May 27, 2017 |

Valletti, who is also a Professor of Economics at the Imperial College Business School and the University of Rome Tor Vergata, discussed the EC's investigation into the Facebook-WhatsApp merger during the panel. Facebook, he said, had "lied" to European regulators about its ability to absorb WhatsApp's user data, but the larger issue was market definition.

"Would the decision on the merger have changed had the Commission known that information at the time?" asked Valletti, who joined theEC in 2016. "At the time, the Commission defined the relevant market as non-search advertising. This is a huge market. In that ocean, even Facebook doesn't have a lot of market power. If instead the market definition had been, for instance, advertising on social networks, [it's]likely theywould have concluded that Facebook would have been dominant in that particular market, and that integrating that useful information from [WhatsApp] could have enhanced its market power." Valletti also stressedthe importance of having individual-level data when discussing issues like competition at the advertising market, and not just looking at market shares.

Pasquale and Taplin, meanwhile, criticized U.S. antitrust authorities, with Taplin saying that digital platforms have "done very well because they have a certain regulatory capture" and Pasquale remarkingthat "U.S. antitrust policy is rapidly becoming a pro-trust policy."

As an example of this "pro-trust" policy, Pasquale cited the FTC's lawsuit against online contact lens retailer 1-800 Contacts . 1-800 Contacts was sued by the FTC last yearfor having reached agreements with 14 other online contact lens sellers that they would not advertise to customers who had searched for 1-800 Contacts online."You would imagine that given the power of these [companies], and given the activity in Europe and many other nations, our enforcers would be extremely concerned about these platforms. They are-they're concerned about little companies hurting the platforms," he said.

The FTC, added Pasquale, had pursued the 1-800 Contacts case aggressively. "I'm not here to comment on the merits of this case, but I think that the choice of this enforcement target speaks volumes. What does it say? It says that if small firms arebeing exploited or hurt by a big digital behemoth, or think [they]are, don't try in any way to coordinate or maintain your independence. What you should do is all combine and merge and become a giant, say, contacts firm. In the media, they should all combine and merge and maybe all be bought by Comcast, so that then they can negotiate with Google in a way that they are relatively of the same size and power. That's the pro-trust message we're getting under current non-enforcement U.S. antitrust policy."

[Apr 28, 2017] Monopolization Amazon-style

Notable quotes:
"... Eros the bittersweet ..."
Apr 28, 2017 |
Carla , April 26, 2017 at 4:11 pm

You mean if Borders had become Barnes & Noble? Well, B&N is struggling, too.

Just like Walmart, Amazon's business model ELIMINATES the competition. In my view, every Amazon purchase is a rock thrown through the window of a local retailer, large or small. Personally, if I ever throw rocks, they're going to be aimed bigger and better targets than that.

Octopii , April 26, 2017 at 7:55 pm

B&N closed their Georgetown (DC) store a couple of years ago, IIRC right before the xmas season got started. It was an oasis on a side of town that would rather sell you a $500 pair of pants dotted with embroidered lobsters. The building was a nicely reclaimed three-floor warehouse space with coffee and lounging areas, and it had become a nice excuse to go into DC and hang out.

jrs , April 26, 2017 at 4:12 pm

because noone can afford what a new (dead tree) book costs. I get everything used for a few bucks a book.

RUKidding , April 26, 2017 at 4:14 pm

but but but used books have to start as new books sometime

Uahsenaa , April 26, 2017 at 5:34 pm

I'm not sure this is entirely true. Just as an example, a trade paperback I bought in 1998 for a cover price of $12.95 (Anne Carson's Eros the bittersweet ) now has a cover price of $13.95, only a dollar more. The BLS's CPI calculator says the book should cost $19.54 in today's dollars.

That doesn't strike me as unaffordable. It's possible that if I went out and bought a copy of the book now, the printing might be worse, or the paper of a lower quality, but I cannot imagine it being much worse than the copy I already own.

Tertium Squid , April 26, 2017 at 7:31 pm

Use interlibrary loan and never buy another book at all.

[Apr 06, 2017] Inequality and the Lake Wobegon Effect

Apr 06, 2017 |
"Our Efforts to Deal With Tech Firms' Market Dominance in the U.S. Have Been an Abject Failure" : ...Q: The five largest internet and tech companies-Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft-have outstanding market share in their markets. Are current antitrust policies and theories able to deal with the potential problems that arise from the dominant positions of these companies and the vast data they collect on users?
Our efforts to deal with the problems in the United States have been an abject failure. ...I might note that Facebook's dominant position in the market is due in part to its role as an innovator and partly to "network externalities"... Microsoft's dominant position is also attributable in part to network externalities...
But the antitrust agencies have not taken sufficient measures to remedy abuses of this advantage.
Q: Is there a connection between the growing inequality in the U.S. and concentration, dominant firms, and winner-take-all markets?
I believe there is. The evidence of rising wealth inequality, especially through the work of Piketty and co-authors, is compelling. Less well known is evidence compiled at M.I.T. of strongly rising inequality of compensation, especially at the top executive levels. The nexus has not to my knowledge been fully articulated.
Here's my hypothesis: In recent decades, most publicly-traded corporations, at least in the United States, have embraced executive compensation consultants to advise the board of directors on executive compensation levels. Those consultants provide data on compensation averages and distributions for companies in peer industries. But then the Lake Wobegon effect goes to work. The boards say, "Surely, our guy isn't below average," to the average reported by the compensation consultants becomes the minimum standard for compensation. If each top executive receives at least the minimum reported pay and often more, the average rises steadily.
Indeed, and here I tread on weaker ground, those compensation costs are built into the costs considered by companies in their product pricing decisions (in a kind of rent-seeking model), and so price levels rise to accommodate rising compensation. I might note that this dynamic applies not only for chief executives, but trickles down to embrace most of companies' management personnel. ...
JohnH , March 22, 2017 at 11:04 AM
As I said a couple days ago, "Good to see economists finally addressing issues that John Kenneth Galbraith raised 50 years ago...but were largely ignored since then by 'librul' economists who didn't want to cross the folks who had funded their academic chairs."

For the past 40 years, corporate strategic planning has been all about market dominance. Back in the late 1970s Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter was all the rage along with the Boston Consulting Group, Mitt Romney's Bain Capital, and GE's Jack Welch. the mantra was that if you couldn't dominate a market, best get out. Weaker players were tolerated mostly to allay anti-trust intrusion.

Meanwhile, Republicans tacitly supported it, Democrats turned a blind eye, and 'librul' economists were off doing whatever they do.

Maximilian , March 22, 2017 at 12:44 PM
Evidence in support of Sherer's hypothesis can be found in Tom DiPrete et al's 2010 article in AJS: Compensation Benchmarking, Leapfrogs, and the Surge in Executive Pay. They write: "Scholars frequently argue whether the sharp rise in chief executive officer (CEO) pay in recent years is "efficient" or is a consequence of "rent extraction" because of the failure of corporate governance in individual firms. This article argues that governance failure must be conceptualized at the market rather than the firm level because excessive pay increases for even relatively few CEOs a year spread to other firms through the cognitively and rhetorically constructed compensation networks of "peer groups," which are used in the benchmarking process to negotiate the compensation of CEOs. Counterfactual simulation based on Standard and Poor's ExecuComp data demonstrates that the effects of CEO "leapfrogging" potentially explain a considerable fraction of the overall upward movement of executive compensation since the early 1990s."
point , March 22, 2017 at 01:08 PM
The story told is nearly exactly the one Warren Buffett has been telling since 95, maybe earlier, so I do not know who was prior.

[Mar 22, 2017] Market power in the U.S. economy today

Notable quotes:
"... Labor market anyone -- where market power also translates to political power -- if labor has decent market power? Toothless (as in no penalty for crushing unions for 80 years) institutions are the reality. ..."
"... Do you guys ever talk about anything other but what the other guys talk about? ..."
Mar 22, 2017 |
Overview The U.S. economy has a "market power" problem, notwithstanding our strong and extensive antitrust institutions. The surprising conjunction of the exercise of market power with well-established antitrust norms, precedents, and enforcement institutions is the central paradox of U.S. competition policy today. Market power in the U.S. economy today : As this policy brief explains, the harms from the exercise of firms' market power may extend beyond individual markets affected to include slower overall economic growth and increased economic inequality. The implications for future economic productivity and welfare are troubling, but before detailing these consequences, it is necessary to understand why market power is a major issue despite well-established antitrust enforcement institutions and legal precedents. ...

anne : , March 20, 2017 at 11:34 AM

March 19, 2017

"There Is Convincing Evidence That Concentration Has Been Rising"
Interview of John E. Kwoka

mulp : , March 20, 2017 at 12:26 PM
Five Walmarts competing with each other would not raise worker wages above the wages Walmart pays. In fact, it would lower wages.

I remember Milton Friedman's Newsweek columns circa 1970 which are deep behind a paywall so I can't even find a date and title.

I remember one where he argued for utility deregulation and introduction of competition to lower prices of electricity and telephone service.

He argued that the PUC was captured by the utility that by regulation made a business profit only on ROIC plus a small rent on operating costs. By regulation, capital was always depreciating, thus a power plant or the wires and poles distributing power were constantly falling in value. The depreciation was an expense plus the labor costs which determined the base rate, with a 8-10% return on capital, the original labor costs of the power plant and wires and poles minus depreciation and a rent on operating labor.

So, how does a utility earn higher profit?

It must pay workers with capital to build more assets, more power plants, more and better power wires and poles. And it must pay more to workers to operate the utility.

In other words, profit increased the more paid to labor. The PUC had to approve these labor costs as prudent, but paying prevailing union wages was prudent. Thus, the utility could meet the demands of unions for higher wages, for more people on the job.

Worse, the PUC would get hammered with complaints if the utility was unreliable, so most regulators approved utility requests to build redundant power plants and build redundant power lines, plus hire redundant workers who could be put to work recovering from storm damage.

Thus, in Milton Friedman's view, government sanctioning a monopoly resulted in too much, too reliable service that paid too many workers too much money at the expense of all customers, especially customers who did not need the reliability.

Worse, the utilities were constantly trying to get customers to buy more to justify building more capital assets to increase profits.

And even worse, too many workers were paid too much which resulted in too much consumption, thus too much production, and that created too much demand for labor, driving up wages and increasing the number of workers, driving up I incomes and consumption.

He noted that the rush to build nuclear power plants was driven by their high capital costs and nearly purely utility labor operating costs - the utility did not pay for coal for which it got no business profit.

Thus his efforts to deregulate utilities: cutting labor costs, cutting business profits. He argued for fewer workers operating utilities and building capital assets, with economic profits driving investment decisions. Ie, a 20% profit would drive more investment, but a 5% profit would drive layoffs and cuts in reliability. Any individual who needed reliability would simply pay more to get higher reliability.

And as utilities were deregulated as he called or as best as it could be done, we have seen job losses, pay cuts, higher unreliability, sometimes bankruptcy, and other times extremely high profits, often both at the same time. When PURPA was implemented by States and utilities forced to sell power generation, then nuclear power plants were sold below the book capital cost, by these forced sales were deemed takings, so the losses from sales became stranded costs added to the rate base as depreciation. Meanwhile, as investment in new power plants fell, nuclear power plants became very profitable as market prices rose. So, the utility was going bankrupt after forced to sell assets while the assets were generating 20% or more on purchase price returns, but less than 10% on construction cost.

Friedman made the same argument for passenger airlines. Airlines paid high wages and had large cabin crews and most were profitable enough to work hard to increase customer demand. They got approval to offer low fares at the last minute to students and other classes of non-customers. Thanks to regulation. Then deregulation happened, and every airline but one went bankrupt, service quality declined, worker wages slashed, crews in the air and on the ground cut.

Friedman argued that everyone benefits from competition and is harmed by monopoly, especially regulated monopoly, because too many workers are paid too much, and those workers consume too much, and everyone is forced to pay too much to live.

Thus the creation of free lunch economics: Driving down prices but increasing profits will make everyone better off as those evil workers get less pay, costing consumers much less.

Workers are not valued consumers. Valued consumers are not workers.

Milton Friedman was not a worker, but a valued intellectual and consumer.

pgl -> mulp... , March 20, 2017 at 01:09 PM
"Five Walmarts competing with each other would not raise worker wages above the wages Walmart pays. In fact, it would lower wages."

So you accept the Economism view of labor markets where monopsony power does not exist? Sorry but the labor market evidence questions this perfectly competitive view of labor markets.

JohnH : , March 20, 2017 at 01:09 PM
Good to see economists finally addressing issues that John Kenneth Galbraith raised 50 years ago...but were largely ignored since then by 'librul' economists who didn't want to cross the folks who had funded their academic chairs.
pgl -> JohnH... , March 20, 2017 at 01:10 PM
So John Kenneth Galbraith was a right winger? Could you please stop this silly parade that liberal economists have never talked about what they often talk about. It is beyond pointless.
JohnH -> pgl... , March 20, 2017 at 01:45 PM
Oh, please. 'Librul' economists have mostly ignored monopoly and oligopoly for years. And Galbraith was definitely NOT a conservative, but academic economists largely ignored his valuable contributions.

Pay attention!

JohnH -> JohnH... , March 20, 2017 at 01:52 PM
As a measure of 'librul' concern about monopoly and oligopoly, Krugman talks about this even less than he talks about inequality...less than twice a year.
JohnH -> pgl... , March 20, 2017 at 07:05 PM
Market concentration, monopoly, and oligopoly aren't even listed as categories at economistsview!

Yet pgl tries to assure us that 'librul' economists take this issue seriously...guffaw, guffaw.

Flat Eric -> JohnH... , March 21, 2017 at 06:58 AM
Nor are labor economics, trade or public economics. So what?

Competition economics is still a huge and very active topic within the discipline. Indeed, the last but one Nobel winner, Jean Tirole, works extensively in this area.

Denis Drew : , March 20, 2017 at 02:08 PM
"Overview The U.S. economy has a "market power" problem, notwithstanding our strong and extensive antitrust institutions."

Labor market anyone -- where market power also translates to political power -- if labor has decent market power? Toothless (as in no penalty for crushing unions for 80 years) institutions are the reality.

Do you guys ever talk about anything other but what the other guys talk about?

point : , March 20, 2017 at 05:54 PM
"The U.S. economy has a "market power" problem, notwithstanding our strong and extensive antitrust institutions. The surprising conjunction of the exercise of market power with well-established antitrust norms, precedents, and enforcement institutions is the central paradox of U.S. competition policy today."

Left off the subsequent list of possible explanations is that the first above statement just may be false.

point -> point... , March 20, 2017 at 09:46 PM
Thinking especially about the "notwithstanding our strong and extensive antitrust institutions" part.

[Mar 22, 2017] The Men Who Stole the World

Notable quotes:
"... History will look back at us with the same wonder that we look back on the mad excesses of certain nations founded in devotion to extreme, almost other-worldly, ideologies of the last century. ..."
"... Apparently the slashing of health benefits for the unfortunate is not severe enough in the proposed Trump/Ryan plan. Our GOP house neo-liberals are enthusiastic to unleash the wonders of the cure-all deregulated market on the American public, again. Like a dog returns to its vomit. ..."
Mar 22, 2017 |
"The problem of the last three decades is not the 'vicissitudes of the marketplace,' but rather deliberate actions by the government to redistribute income from the rest of us to the one percent. This pattern of government action shows up in all areas of government policy."

Dean Baker

"When the modern corporation acquires power over markets, power in the community, power over the state and power over belief, it is a political instrument, different in degree but not in kind from the state itself. To hold otherwise - to deny the political character of the modern corporation - is not merely to avoid the reality.

It is to disguise the reality. The victims of that disguise are those we instruct in error."

John Kenneth Galbraith

And unfortunately the working class victims of that disguise are going to be receiving the consequences of their folly, and then some.

Secure in their monopolies and key positions with regard to reform and the law, the corporations are further acquiring access to the protections of the rights of individuals as well, it appears, at least according to Citizens United .

Maybe our leaders and their self-proclaimed technocrats will finally do the right thing. I personally doubt it, except that if they do it will probably be by accident.

More likely, the right thing will eventually come about the old-fashioned way- under the duress of a crisis, and the growing protests of the much neglected and long suffering.

History will look back at us with the same wonder that we look back on the mad excesses of certain nations founded in devotion to extreme, almost other-worldly, ideologies of the last century.

... ... ...

Apparently the slashing of health benefits for the unfortunate is not severe enough in the proposed Trump/Ryan plan. Our GOP house neo-liberals are enthusiastic to unleash the wonders of the cure-all deregulated market on the American public, again. Like a dog returns to its vomit.

Better if they start breaking up corporate health monopolies and embrace real reform at the sources of the soaring costs. The US pays far, far too much for drugs and healthcare, and deregulating the markets is not the solution. We do have the example of the rest of the developed world for what to do about this. It is called 'single payer.'

But players keep on playing. And politicians and their enablers in the professions will not see what their big money donors do not wish them to see. And that is one of their few bipartisan efforts.

Might one suggest that our political animals stop trying to do all the reforming and cost controls bottom up, while applying the stimulus top down? That approach they have been flogging to no avail for about thirty years is a recipe for a dying middle class.

Here is a short video from the Bernie Sanders WV town hall that shows The Face of American Desperation. By the way, the governor of West Virginia is a Democrat. He wasn't there.


[Feb 20, 2017] Globalism is just a mirage to lead the weak minded into subservience to corporatism.

Feb 20, 2017 |
rayward : February 20, 2017 at 05:29 AM , 2017 at 05:29 AM
A problem with today's views about globalization is that they look backward rather than forward. The future's globalization is much different from the past's globalization. In particular, growing nationalism is the future in the places, such as China, that have benefited from globalization. By that I mean China is beginning to produce goods for China firms rather than for western firms to compete with goods produced for western (American) firms including goods produced in China for western firms.

It's a much different dynamic than what we have experienced in the past 30 years. And the response to the new globalization should (and will) be much different.

Ironically, Trump's views about globalization come closer to what will be the response as western firms adjust to the new globalization. Is Trump that smart? No, it's just that everybody else is that dumb.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> rayward... , February 20, 2017 at 08:36 AM
China has never not had nationalism. Globalism is just a mirage to lead the weak minded into subservience to corporatism.

[Dec 05, 2016] New Class War

This is a very weak article from a prominent paleoconservative, but it is instructive what a mess he has in his head as for the nature of Trump phenomenon. We should probably consider the tern "New Class" that neocons invented as synonym for "neoliberals". If so, why the author is afraid to use the term? Does he really so poorly educated not to understand the nature of this neoliberal revolution and its implications? Looks like he never read "Quite coup"
That probably reflects the crisis of pealeoconservatism itself.
Notable quotes:
"... What do these insurgents have in common? All have called into question the interventionist consensus in foreign policy. All have opposed large-scale free-trade agreements. ..."
"... the establishment in both parties almost uniformly favors one approach to war, trade, and immigration, while outsider candidates as dissimilar as Buchanan, Nader, Paul, and Trump, and to a lesser extent Sanders, depart from the consensus. ..."
"... The insurgents clearly do not represent a single class: they appeal to eclectic interests and groups. The foe they have all faced down, however-the bipartisan establishment-does resemble a class in its striking unity of outlook and interest. So what is this class, effectively the ruling class of the country? ..."
"... The archetypal model of class conflict, the one associated with Karl Marx, pits capitalists against workers-or, at an earlier stage, capitalists against the landed nobility. The capitalists' victory over the nobility was inevitable, and so too, Marx believed, was the coming triumph of the workers over the capitalists. ..."
"... The Soviet Union had never been a workers' state at all, they argued, but was run by a class of apparatchiks such as Marx had never imagined. ..."
"... Burnham recognized affinities between the Soviet mode of organization-in which much real power lay in the hands of the commissars who controlled industry and the bureaucratic organs of the state-and the corporatism that characterized fascist states. Even the U.S., under the New Deal and with ongoing changes to the balance between ownership and management in the private sector, seemed to be moving in the same direction. ..."
"... concept popularized by neoconservatives in the following decade: the "New Class." ..."
"... It consists of a goodly proportion of those college-educated people whose skills and vocations proliferate in a 'post-industrial society' (to use Daniel Bell's convenient term). We are talking about scientists, teachers, and educational administrators, journalists and others in the communication industries, psychologists, social workers, those lawyers and doctors who make their careers in the expanding public sector, city planners, the staffs of the larger foundations, the upper levels of the government bureaucracy, and so on. ..."
"... I have felt that this 'new class' is, so far, rather thin gruel. Intellectuals, verbalists, media types, etc. are conspicuous actors these days, certainly; they make a lot of noise, get a lot of attention, and some of them make a lot of money. But, after all, they are a harum-scarum crowd, and deflate even more quickly than they puff up. On TV they can out-talk any of the managers of ITT, GM, or IBM, or the administration-managers of the great government bureaus and agencies, but, honestly, you're not going to take that as a power test. Who hires and fires whom? ..."
"... Burnham had observed that the New Class did not have the means-either money or manpower-to wield power the way the managers or the capitalists of old did. It had to borrow power from other classes. Discovering where the New Class gets it is as easy as following the money, which leads straight to the finance sector-practically to the doorstep of Goldman Sachs. Jerry Rubin's journey from Yippie to yuppie was the paradigm of a generation. ..."
"... Yet the New Class as a whole is less like Carl Oglesby or Karl Hess than like Hillary Clinton, who arguably embodies it as perfectly as McNamara did the managerial class. ..."
"... Even the New Class's support for deregulation-to the advantage of its allies on Wall Street-was no sign of consistent commitment to free-market principles ..."
"... The individual-mandate feature of Obamacare and Romneycare is a prime example of New Class cronyism: government compels individuals to buy a supposedly private product or service. ..."
"... America's class war, like many others, is not in the end a contest between up and down. It's a fight between rival elites: in this case, between the declining managerial elite and the triumphant (for now) New Class and financial elites. ..."
"... Donald Trump is not of the managerial class himself. But by embracing managerial interests-industrial protection and, yes, "big government"-and combining them with nationalistic identity politics, he has built a force that has potential to threaten the bipartisan establishment, even if he goes down to defeat in November. ..."
"... The New Class, after all, lacks a popular base as well as money of its own, and just as it relies on Wall Street to underwrite its power, it depends on its competing brands of identity politics to co-opt popular support. ..."
"... Marx taught that you identify classes by their structural role in the system of production. I'm at a loss to see how either of the 'classes' you mention here relate to the system of production. ..."
"... [New] Class better describes the Never Trumpers. Mostly I have found them to be those involved in knowledge occupations (conservative think tanks, hedge fund managers, etc.) who have a pecuniary interest in maintaining the Global Economy as opposed to the Virtuous Intergenerational Economy that preceded. Many are dependent on funding sources for their livelihoods that are connected to the Globalized Economy and financial markets. ..."
"... "mobilize working-class voters against the establishment in both parties. " = workers of the world unite. ..."
"... Where the class conflict between the Working and Knowledge Classes begins is where the Knowledge Class almost unilaterally decided to shift to a global economy, at the expense of the Working Class, and to the self-benefit of the Knowledge Class. Those who designed the Global Economy like Larry Summers of Harvard did not invite private or public labor to help design the new Globalist Economy. The Working Class lost out big time in job losses and getting stuck with subprime home loans that busted their marriages and created bankruptcies and foreclosures. The Knowledge Class was mostly unscathed by this class-based economic divide. ..."
"... Trump's distinguishing ideology, which separates him from the current elite, is something he has summed up many times – nationalism vs. Globalism. ..."
"... The financial industry, the new tech giants, the health insurance industry are now almost indistinguishable from the government ruling elite. The old left–represented by Sanders–rails against this as big money coopting government, even while conservatives are exasperated by the unholy cabal of big business and big government in cohoots in the "progressive" remake of America. Both are right in a sense. ..."
"... The hyperconcentration of power in Washington and a few tributary locations like Wall Street and Silicon Valley, elite academia and the media–call that the New Class if you like–means that most of America–Main Street, the flyover country has been left behind. Trump instinctively – brilliantly in some ways – tapped into the resentment that this hyperconcentration of wealth and government power has led to. That is why it cuts across right and left. The elites want to characterize this resentment as backwards and "racist," but there is also something very American from Jefferson to Jackson to Teddy Roosevelt that revolts against being lectured to and controlled by their would-be "betters." ..."
"... The alienation of those left out is real and based on real erosion of the middle class and American dream under both parties' elites. The potentially revolutionary capabilities of a political movement that could unite right and left in restoring some equilibrium and opportunities to those left out is tremendous, but yet to be realized by either major party. The party that can harness these folks – who are after all the majority of Americans – will have a ruling coalition for decades. If neither party can productively harness this budding movement, we are headed for disarray, civil unrest, and potentially the dissolution of the USA. ..."
"... . And blacks who cleave to the democrats despite being sold down the tubes on issues, well, for whatever reason, they just have thinner skin and the mistaken idea that the democrats deliver – thanks to Pres. Johnson. But what Pres. Johnson delivered democrats made a mockery of immediately as they stripped it of its intent and used for their own liberal ends. ..."
"... Let's see if I can help Dreher clear up some confusion in his article. James Burnham's "Managerial Class" and the "New Class" are overlapping and not exclusive. By the Managerial Class Burnham meant both the executive and managers in the private sector and the Bureaucrats and functionaries in the public sector. ..."
"... The rise of managers was a "revolution" because of the rise of modernization which meant the increasing mechanization, industrialization, formalization and rationalization (efficiency) of society. Burnham's concern about the rise of the managerial revolution was misplaced; what he should have focused on was modernization. ..."
"... The old left–represented by Sanders–rails against this as big money coopting government, even while conservatives are exasperated by the unholy cabal of big business and big government in cohoots in the "progressive" remake of America ..."
"... . Some 3 – 5% of the population facing no real opposition has decided that that their private lives needed public endorsement and have proceeded to upend the entire social order - the game has shifted in ways I am not sure most of the public fully grasps or desires ..."
"... There has always been and will always be class conflict, even if it falls short of a war. Simply examining recent past circumstances, the wealthy class has been whooping up on all other classes. This is not to suggest any sort of remedy, but simply to observe that income disparity over the past 30 years has substantially benefitted on sector of class and political power remains in their hands today. To think that there will never be class conflict is to side with a Marxian fantasy of egalitarianism, which will never come to pass. Winners and losers may change positions, but the underlying conflict will always remain. ..."
"... State governments have been kowtowing to big business interests for a good long while. Nothing new under the sun there. Back in the 80s when GM was deciding where to site their factory for the new Saturn car line, they issued an edict stating they would only consider states that had mandatory seat belt use laws, and the states in the running fell all over each to enact those. ..."
"... People don't really care for the actions of the elite but they care for the consequences of these actions. During the 1960's, per capita GDP growth was around 3.5%. Today it stands at 0,49%. If you take into account inflation, it's negative. Add to this the skewed repartition of said growth and it's intuitive that many people feel the pain; whom doesn't move forward, goes backwards. ..."
"... People couldn't care for mass immigration, nation building or the emergence of China if their personal situation was not impacted. But now, they begin to feel the results of these actions. ..."
"... I have a simple philosophy regarding American politics that shows who is made of what, and we don't have to go through all the philosophizing in this article: Anyone who believes in same sex marriage has been brainwashed and is un-American and unreliable. Anyone who puts Israeli interests above America's is un-American. ..."
"... Re: Anyone who believes in same sex marriage has been brainwashed and is un-American and unreliable. Anyone who puts Israeli interests above America's is un-American. ..."
"... The first has nothing whatsoever to do with American citizenship. It's just a political issue– on which, yes, reasonable people can differ. However no American citizen should put the interests of any other country ahead of our own, except in a situation where the US was itself up to no good and deserved its comeuppance. And then the interest is not that of any particular nation, but of justice being done period. ..."
"... A lot of this "New Class" stuff is just confusing mis-mash of this and that theory. Basically, America changed when the US dollar replace gold as the medium of exchange in the world economy. Remember when we called it the PETRO-DOLLAR. As long as the Saudis only accepted the US dollar as the medium of exchange for oil, then the American government could export it's inflation and deficit spending. Budget deficits and trade deficits are intrinsically related. It allowed America to become a nation of consumers instead of a nation of producers. ..."
"... It's really a form of classic IMPERIALISM. To maintain this system, we've got the US military and we prop up the corrupt dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya ..."
"... Yeah, you can talk about the "new class", the corruption of the banking system by the idiotic "libertarian" or "free market utopianism" of the Gingrich Congress, the transformation of American corporations to international corporations, and on and on. But it's the US dollar as reserve currency that has allowed it all to happen. God help us, if it ends, we'll be crippled. ..."
"... The Clinton Class mocks The Country Class: Bill Clinton, "We all know how her opponent's done real well down in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. Because the coal people don't like any of us anymore." "They blame the president when the sun doesn't come up in the morning now," ..."
"... That doesn't mean they actually support Hillary's policies and position. What do they really know about either? These demographics simply vote overwhelmingly Democrat no matter who is on the ticket. If Alfred E. Newman were the candidate, this particular data point would look just the same. ..."
"... "On the contrary, the New Class favors new kinds of crony finance capitalism, even as it opposes the protectionism that would benefit hard industry and managerial interests." This doesn't ring true. Hard industry, and the managers that run it had no problem with moving jobs and factories overseas in pursuit of cheaper labor. Plus, it solved their Union issues. I feel like the divide is between large corporations, with dilute ownership and professional managers who nominally serve the interests of stock fund managers, while greatly enriching themselves versus a multitude of smaller, locally owned businesses whose owners were also concerned with the health of the local communities in which they lived. ..."
"... The financial elites are a consequence of consolidation in the banking and finance industry, where we now have 4 or 5 large institutions versus a multitude of local and regional banks that were locally focused. ..."
Sep 07, 2016 |

Since the Cold War ended, U.S. politics has seen a series of insurgent candidacies. Pat Buchanan prefigured Trump in the Republican contests of 1992 and 1996. Ralph Nader challenged the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party from the outside in 2000. Ron Paul vexed establishment Republicans John McCain and Mitt Romney in 2008 and 2012. And this year, Trump was not the only candidate to confound his party's elite: Bernie Sanders harried Hillary Clinton right up to the Democratic convention.

What do these insurgents have in common? All have called into question the interventionist consensus in foreign policy. All have opposed large-scale free-trade agreements. (The libertarian Paul favors unilateral free trade: by his lights, treaties like NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership are not free trade at all but international regulatory pacts.) And while no one would mistake Ralph Nader's or Ron Paul's views on immigration for Pat Buchanan's or Donald Trump's, Nader and Paul have registered their own dissents from the approach to immigration that prevails in Washington.

Sanders has been more in line with his party's orthodoxy on that issue. But that didn't save him from being attacked by Clinton backers for having an insufficiently nonwhite base of support. Once again, what might have appeared to be a class conflict-in this case between a democratic socialist and an elite liberal with ties to high finance-could be explained away as really about race.

Race, like religion, is a real factor in how people vote. Its relevance to elite politics, however, is less clear. Something else has to account for why the establishment in both parties almost uniformly favors one approach to war, trade, and immigration, while outsider candidates as dissimilar as Buchanan, Nader, Paul, and Trump, and to a lesser extent Sanders, depart from the consensus.

The insurgents clearly do not represent a single class: they appeal to eclectic interests and groups. The foe they have all faced down, however-the bipartisan establishment-does resemble a class in its striking unity of outlook and interest. So what is this class, effectively the ruling class of the country?

Some critics on the right have identified it with the "managerial" class described by James Burnham in his 1941 book The Managerial Revolution . But it bears a stronger resemblance to what what others have called "the New Class." In fact, the interests of this New Class of college-educated "verbalists" are antithetical to those of the industrial managers that Burnham described. Understanding the relationship between these two often conflated concepts provides insight into politics today, which can be seen as a clash between managerial and New Class elites.


The archetypal model of class conflict, the one associated with Karl Marx, pits capitalists against workers-or, at an earlier stage, capitalists against the landed nobility. The capitalists' victory over the nobility was inevitable, and so too, Marx believed, was the coming triumph of the workers over the capitalists.

Over the next century, however, history did not follow the script. By 1992, the Soviet Union was gone, Communist China had embarked on market reforms, and Western Europe was turning away from democratic socialism. There was no need to predict the future; mankind had achieved its destiny, a universal order of [neo]liberal democracy. Marx had it backwards: capitalism was the end of history.

But was the truth as simple as that? Long before the collapse of the USSR, many former communists -- some of whom remained socialists, while others joined the right-thought not. The Soviet Union had never been a workers' state at all, they argued, but was run by a class of apparatchiks such as Marx had never imagined.

Among the first to advance this argument was James Burnham, a professor of philosophy at New York University who became a leading Trotskyist thinker. As he broke with Trotsky and began moving toward the right, Burnham recognized affinities between the Soviet mode of organization-in which much real power lay in the hands of the commissars who controlled industry and the bureaucratic organs of the state-and the corporatism that characterized fascist states. Even the U.S., under the New Deal and with ongoing changes to the balance between ownership and management in the private sector, seemed to be moving in the same direction.

Burnham called this the "managerial revolution." The managers of industry and technically trained government officials did not own the means of production, like the capitalists of old. But they did control the means of production, thanks to their expertise and administrative prowess.

The rise of this managerial class would have far-reaching consequences, he predicted. Burnham wrote in his 1943 book, The Machiavellians : "that the managers may function, the economic and political structure must be modified, as it is now being modified, so as to rest no longer on private ownership and small-scale nationalist sovereignty, but primarily upon state control of the economy, and continental or vast regional world political organization." Burnham pointed to Nazi Germany, imperial Japan-which became a "continental" power by annexing Korea and Manchuria-and the Soviet Union as examples.

The defeat of the Axis powers did not halt the progress of the managerial revolution. Far from it: not only did the Soviets retain their form of managerialism, but the West increasingly adopted a managerial corporatism of its own, marked by cooperation between big business and big government: high-tech industrial crony capitalism, of the sort that characterizes the military-industrial complex to this day. (Not for nothing was Burnham a great advocate of America's developing a supersonic transport of its own to compete with the French-British Concorde.)

America's managerial class was personified by Robert S. McNamara, the former Ford Motor Company executive who was secretary of defense under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. In a 1966 story for National Review , "Why Do They Hate Robert Strange McNamara?" Burnham answered the question in class terms: "McNamara is attacked by the Left because the Left has a blanket hatred of the system of business enterprise; he is criticized by the Right because the Right harks back, in nostalgia if not in practice, to outmoded forms of business enterprise."

McNamara the managerial technocrat was too business-oriented for a left that still dreamed of bringing the workers to power. But the modern form of industrial organization he represented was not traditionally capitalist enough for conservatives who were at heart 19th-century classical liberals.

National Review readers responded to Burnham's paean to McNamara with a mixture of incomprehension and indignation. It was a sign that even readers familiar with Burnham-he appeared in every issue of the magazine-did not always follow what he was saying. The popular right wanted concepts that were helpful in labeling enemies, and Burnham was confusing matters by talking about changes in the organization of government and industry that did not line up with anyone's value judgements.

More polemically useful was a different concept popularized by neoconservatives in the following decade: the "New Class." "This 'new class' is not easily defined but may be vaguely described," Irving Kristol wrote in a 1975 essay for the Wall Street Journal :

It consists of a goodly proportion of those college-educated people whose skills and vocations proliferate in a 'post-industrial society' (to use Daniel Bell's convenient term). We are talking about scientists, teachers, and educational administrators, journalists and others in the communication industries, psychologists, social workers, those lawyers and doctors who make their careers in the expanding public sector, city planners, the staffs of the larger foundations, the upper levels of the government bureaucracy, and so on.

"Members of the new class do not 'control' the media," he continued, "they are the media-just as they are our educational system, our public health and welfare system, and much else."

Burnham, writing in National Review in 1978, drew a sharp contrast between this concept and his own ideas:

I have felt that this 'new class' is, so far, rather thin gruel. Intellectuals, verbalists, media types, etc. are conspicuous actors these days, certainly; they make a lot of noise, get a lot of attention, and some of them make a lot of money. But, after all, they are a harum-scarum crowd, and deflate even more quickly than they puff up. On TV they can out-talk any of the managers of ITT, GM, or IBM, or the administration-managers of the great government bureaus and agencies, but, honestly, you're not going to take that as a power test. Who hires and fires whom?

Burnham suffered a stroke later that year. Although he lived until 1987, his career as a writer was over. His last years coincided with another great transformation of business and government. It began in the Carter administration, with moves to deregulate transportation and telecommunications. This partial unwinding of the managerial revolution accelerated under Ronald Reagan. Regulatory and welfare-state reforms, even privatization of formerly nationalized industries, also took off in the UK and Western Europe. All this did not, however, amount to a restoration of the old capitalism or anything resembling laissez-faire.

The "[neo]liberal democracy" that triumphed at "the end of history"-to use Francis Fukuyama's words-was not the managerial capitalism of the mid-20th century, either. It was instead the New Class's form of capitalism, one that could be embraced by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair as readily as by any Republican or Thatcherite.

Irving Kristol had already noted in the 1970s that "this new class is not merely liberal but truly 'libertarian' in its approach to all areas of life-except economics. It celebrates individual liberty of speech and expression and action to an unprecedented degree, so that at times it seems almost anarchistic in its conception of the good life."

He was right about the New Class's "anything goes" mentality, but he was only partly correct about its attitude toward economics. The young elite tended to scorn the bourgeois character of the old capitalism, and to them managerial figures like McNamara were evil incarnate. But they had to get by-and they aspired to rule.

Burnham had observed that the New Class did not have the means-either money or manpower-to wield power the way the managers or the capitalists of old did. It had to borrow power from other classes. Discovering where the New Class gets it is as easy as following the money, which leads straight to the finance sector-practically to the doorstep of Goldman Sachs. Jerry Rubin's journey from Yippie to yuppie was the paradigm of a generation.

Part of the tale can be told in a favorable light. New Left activists like Carl Oglesby fought the spiritual aridity and murderous militarism of what they called "corporate liberalism"-Burnham's managerialism-while sincere young libertarians attacked the regulatory state and seeded technological entrepreneurship. Yet the New Class as a whole is less like Carl Oglesby or Karl Hess than like Hillary Clinton, who arguably embodies it as perfectly as McNamara did the managerial class.

Even the New Class's support for deregulation-to the advantage of its allies on Wall Street-was no sign of consistent commitment to free-market principles. On the contrary, the New Class favors new kinds of crony finance capitalism, even as it opposes the protectionism that would benefit hard industry and managerial interests. The individual-mandate feature of Obamacare and Romneycare is a prime example of New Class cronyism: government compels individuals to buy a supposedly private product or service.

The alliance between finance and the New Class accounts for the disposition of power in America today. The New Class has also enlisted another invaluable ally: the managerial classes of East Asia. Trade with China-the modern managerial state par excellence-helps keep American industry weak relative to finance and the service economy's verbalist-dominated sectors. America's class war, like many others, is not in the end a contest between up and down. It's a fight between rival elites: in this case, between the declining managerial elite and the triumphant (for now) New Class and financial elites.

The New Class plays a priestly role in its alliance with finance, absolving Wall Street for the sin of making money in exchange for plenty of that money to keep the New Class in power. In command of foreign policy, the New Class gets to pursue humanitarian ideological projects-to experiment on the world. It gets to evangelize by the sword. And with trade policy, it gets to suppress its class rival, the managerial elite, at home. Through trade pacts and mass immigration the financial elite, meanwhile, gets to maximize its returns without regard for borders or citizenship. The erosion of other nations' sovereignty that accompanies American hegemony helps toward that end too-though our wars are more ideological than interest-driven.


So we come to an historic moment. Instead of an election pitting another Bush against another Clinton, we have a race that poses stark alternatives: a choice not only between candidates but between classes-not only between administrations but between regimes.

Donald Trump is not of the managerial class himself. But by embracing managerial interests-industrial protection and, yes, "big government"-and combining them with nationalistic identity politics, he has built a force that has potential to threaten the bipartisan establishment, even if he goes down to defeat in November.

The New Class, after all, lacks a popular base as well as money of its own, and just as it relies on Wall Street to underwrite its power, it depends on its competing brands of identity politics to co-opt popular support. For the center-left establishment, minority voters supply the electoral muscle. Religion and the culture war have served the same purpose for the establishment's center-right faction. Trump showed that at least one of these sides could be beaten on its own turf-and it seems conceivable that if Bernie Sanders had been black, he might have similarly beaten Clinton, without having to make concessions to New Class tastes.

The New Class establishment of both parties may be seriously misjudging what is happening here. Far from being the last gasp of the demographically doomed-old, racially isolated white people, as Gallup's analysis says-Trump's insurgency may be the prototype of an aggressive new politics, of either left or right, that could restore the managerial elite to power.

This is not something that conservatives-or libertarians who admire the old capitalism rather than New Class's simulacrum-might welcome. But the only way that some entrenched policies may change is with a change of the class in power.

Daniel McCarthy is the editor of The American Conservative .

[May 20, 2016] Nearly all German corporations/large companies funded the NSDAP rise and were complicit with the Nazi war and Holocaust machine and received the benefits of slave Labor

Notable quotes:
"... Ford werke built trucks for the Germans up until the end of the war. And Prescott Bush (father and grandfather to POTUS 41 & 43) had his assets frozen and seized for trading with the enemy. ..."
"... Nearly all German corporations/large companies (they funded the parties rise) were complicit with the Nazi war and Holocaust machine and received the benefits of free (to them) slave Labor (reminds me of the US prison Labor system) and the seizure of capital assets in conquered countries. ..."
"... Being and oligarch or a faceless Corporation certainly has it's benefits, especially if there are any "scary" communists (or terrorists) around. ..."

ambrit , May 19, 2016 at 3:48 pm

I G Farben isn't alone in Holocaust related evilness. Check out IBMs' part, through their German subsidiary, in making the efficiency of the "Final Solution" feasible. Figures for the liquidation of "undesirables" were available to the New York headquarters of IBM in nearly real time.

As the war wound down, special units attached to the U.S.Army secured and protected IBM 'assets' in Germany, mainly the hardware and specialists who ran things.


The best source I find is:

human , May 19, 2016 at 5:15 pm

Operation Paperclip

RP , May 19, 2016 at 7:22 pm

Ford werke built trucks for the Germans up until the end of the war. And Prescott Bush (father and grandfather to POTUS 41 & 43) had his assets frozen and seized for trading with the enemy.

But what do I know, I'm just a little prole with no Ivy league credentials. I should just trust my betters.

By all means, go ahead, coronate another .01%er Oligarch to be President. Worked great so far.

HBE , May 19, 2016 at 4:22 pm

Nearly all German corporations/large companies (they funded the parties rise) were complicit with the Nazi war and Holocaust machine and received the benefits of free (to them) slave Labor (reminds me of the US prison Labor system) and the seizure of capital assets in conquered countries.

What happened to them and their leaders. Not much, some were broken up (IG farben) some leaders spent a short stint in prison (alfried Krupp) but nearly all of the largest were allowed to immediately or eventually (Krupp) go on their merry way, so we could "stop communism".

So the very people that funded and were integral to the Nazi party having the funds and ability to rise and benefited most, were slightly scolded at most.

Being and oligarch or a faceless Corporation certainly has it's benefits, especially if there are any "scary" communists (or terrorists) around.

[Sep 24, 2015] Forget The New World Order, Here is Who Really Runs The World

"... A complex web of revolving doors between the military-industrial-complex, Wall Street, and Silicon Valley consolidates the interests of defense contracts, banksters, military actions, and both foreign and domestic surveillance intelligence. ..."
"... While most citizens are at least passively aware of the surveillance state and collusion between the government and the corporate heads of Wall Street, few people are aware of how much the intelligence functions of the government have been outsourced to privatized groups that are not subject to oversight or accountability. According to Lofgren, 70% of our intelligence budget goes to contractors. ..."
"... the deep state has, since 9/11, built the equivalent of three Pentagons, a bloated state apparatus that keeps defense contractors, intelligence contractors, and privatized non-accountable citizens marching in stride. ..."
"... Groupthink - an unconscious assimilation of the views of your superiors and peers - also works to keep Silicon Valley funneling technology and information into the federal surveillance state. Lofgren believes the NSA and CIA could not do what they do without Silicon Valley. It has developed a de facto partnership with NSA surveillance activities, as facilitated by a FISA court order. ..."
Sep 24, 2015 |,

For decades, extreme ideologies on both the left and the right have clashed over the conspiratorial concept of a shadowy secret government pulling the strings on the world's heads of state and captains of industry.

The phrase New World Order is largely derided as a sophomoric conspiracy theory entertained by minds that lack the sophistication necessary to understand the nuances of geopolitics. But it turns out the core idea - one of deep and overarching collusion between Wall Street and government with a globalist agenda - is operational in what a number of insiders call the "Deep State."

In the past couple of years, the term has gained traction across a wide swath of ideologies. Former Republican congressional aide Mike Lofgren says it is the nexus of Wall Street and the national security state - a relationship where elected and unelected figures join forces to consolidate power and serve vested interests. Calling it "the big story of our time," Lofgren says the deep state represents the failure of our visible constitutional government and the cross-fertilization of corporatism with the globalist war on terror.

"It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street," he explained.

Even parts of the judiciary, namely the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, belong to the deep state.

How does the deep state operate?

A complex web of revolving doors between the military-industrial-complex, Wall Street, and Silicon Valley consolidates the interests of defense contracts, banksters, military actions, and both foreign and domestic surveillance intelligence.

According to Mike Lofgren and many other insiders, this is not a conspiracy theory. The deep state hides in plain sight and goes far beyond the military-industrial complex President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about in his farewell speech over fifty years ago.

While most citizens are at least passively aware of the surveillance state and collusion between the government and the corporate heads of Wall Street, few people are aware of how much the intelligence functions of the government have been outsourced to privatized groups that are not subject to oversight or accountability. According to Lofgren, 70% of our intelligence budget goes to contractors.

Moreover, while Wall Street and the federal government suck money out of the economy, relegating tens of millions of people to food stamps and incarcerating more people than China - a totalitarian state with four times more people than us - the deep state has, since 9/11, built the equivalent of three Pentagons, a bloated state apparatus that keeps defense contractors, intelligence contractors, and privatized non-accountable citizens marching in stride.

After years of serving in Congress, Lofgren's moment of truth regarding this matter came in 2001. He observed the government appropriating an enormous amount of money that was ostensibly meant to go to Afghanistan but instead went to the Persian Gulf region. This, he says, "disenchanted" him from the groupthink, which, he says, keeps all of Washington's minions in lockstep.

Groupthink - an unconscious assimilation of the views of your superiors and peers - also works to keep Silicon Valley funneling technology and information into the federal surveillance state. Lofgren believes the NSA and CIA could not do what they do without Silicon Valley. It has developed a de facto partnership with NSA surveillance activities, as facilitated by a FISA court order.

Now, Lofgren notes, these CEOs want to complain about foreign market share and the damage this collusion has wrought on both the domestic and international reputation of their brands. Under the pretense of pseudo-libertarianism, they helmed a commercial tech sector that is every bit as intrusive as the NSA. Meanwhile, rigging of the DMCA intellectual property laws - so that the government can imprison and fine citizens who jailbreak devices - behooves Wall Street. It's no surprise that the government has upheld the draconian legislation for the 15 years.

It is also unsurprising that the growth of the corporatocracy aids the deep state. The revolving door between government and Wall Street money allows top firms to offer premium jobs to senior government officials and military yes-men. This, says Philip Giraldi, a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer for the CIA, explains how the Clintons left the White House nearly broke but soon amassed $100 million. It also explains how former general and CIA Director David Petraeus, who has no experience in finance, became a partner at the KKR private equity firm, and how former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell became Senior Counselor at Beacon Global Strategies.

Wall Street is the ultimate foundation for the deep state because the incredible amount of money it generates can provide these cushy jobs to those in the government after they retire. Nepotism reigns supreme as the revolving door between Wall Street and government facilitates a great deal of our domestic strife:

"Bank bailouts, tax breaks, and resistance to legislation that would regulate Wall Street, political donors, and lobbyists. The senior government officials, ex-generals, and high level intelligence operatives who participate find themselves with multi-million dollar homes in which to spend their retirement years, cushioned by a tidy pile of investments," said Giraldi.

How did the deep state come to be?

Some say it is the evolutionary hybrid offspring of the military-industrial complex while others say it came into being with the Federal Reserve Act, even before the First World War. At this time, Woodrow Wilson remarked,

"We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men."

This quasi-secret cabal pulling the strings in Washington and much of America's foreign policy is maintained by a corporatist ideology that thrives on deregulation, outsourcing, deindustrialization, and financialization. American exceptionalism, or the great "Washington Consensus," yields perpetual war and economic imperialism abroad while consolidating the interests of the oligarchy here at home.

Mike Lofgren says this government within a government operates off tax dollars but is not constrained by the constitution, nor are its machinations derailed by political shifts in the White House. In this world - where the deep state functions with impunity - it doesn't matter who is president so long as he or she perpetuates the war on terror, which serves this interconnected web of corporate special interests and disingenuous geopolitical objectives.

"As long as appropriations bills get passed on time, promotion lists get confirmed, black (i.e., secret) budgets get rubber stamped, special tax subsidies for certain corporations are approved without controversy, as long as too many awkward questions are not asked, the gears of the hybrid state will mesh noiselessly," according to Mike Lofgren in an interview with Bill Moyers.

Interestingly, according to Philip Giraldi, the ever-militaristic Turkey has its own deep state, which uses overt criminality to keep the money flowing. By comparison, the U.S. deep state relies on a symbiotic relationship between banksters, lobbyists, and defense contractors, a mutant hybrid that also owns the Fourth Estate and Washington think tanks.

Is there hope for the future?

Perhaps. At present, discord and unrest continues to build. Various groups, establishments, organizations, and portions of the populace from all corners of the political spectrum, including Silicon Valley, Occupy, the Tea Party, Anonymous, WikiLeaks, anarchists and libertarians from both the left and right, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and others are beginning to vigorously question and reject the labyrinth of power wielded by the deep state.

Can these groups - can we, the people - overcome the divide and conquer tactics used to quell dissent? The future of freedom may depend on it.

[Aug 22, 2015] Paul Craig Roberts America Is A Gulag

Aug 22, 2015 | Zero Hedge
Submitted by Paul Craig Roberts,

America's First Black President is a traitor to his race and also to justice.

Obama has permitted the corrupt US Department of Justice (sic), over which he wields authority, to overturn the ruling of a US Federal Court of Appeals that prisoners sentenced illegally to longer terms than the law permits must be released once the legal portion of their sentence is served. The DOJ, devoid of all integrity, compassion, and sense of justice, said that "finality" of conviction was more important than justice.

Indeed, the US Justice (sic) Department's motto is: "Justice? We don't need no stinkin' justice!"

Alec Karakatsanis, a civil rights attorney and co-founder of Equal Justice Under Law, tells the story here:

See also here:

The concept of "finality" was an invention of a harebrained Republican conservative academic lionized by the Republican Federalist Society. In years past conservatives believed-indeed, still do-that the criminal justice system coddles criminals by allowing too many appeals against their unlawful convictions. The appeals were granted by judges who thought that the system was supposed to serve justice, but conservatives demonized justice as something that enabled criminals. A succession of Republican presidents turned the US Supreme Court into an organization that only serves the interests of private corporations. Justice is nowhere in the picture.

Appeals Court Judge, James Hill, a member of the court that ruled that prisoners did not have to serve the illegal portion of their sentences, when confronted with the Obama/DOJ deep-sixing of justice had this to say:

"A judicial system that values finality over justice is morally bankrupt."

Obama's DOJ says that there are too many black prisoners illegally sentenced to be released without upsetting the crime-fearful white population. According to Obama's Justice (sic) Department, the fears of brainwashed whites take precedence over justice.

Judge Hill said that the DOJ "calls itself, without a trace of irony, the Department of Justice."

Judge Hill added: We used to call such systems as people sitting in prison serving sentences that were illegally imposed "gulags." "Now we call them the United States."

America is a gulag. We are ruled by a government that is devoid of all morality, all integrity, all compassion, all justice. The government of the United States stands for one thing and one thing only: Evil.

It is just as Chavez told the United Nations in 2006 referring to President George W. Bush's address to the assembly the day before: "Yesterday, at this very podium, Satan himself stood speaking as if he owned the world. You can still smell the sulfur."

If you are an American and you cannot smell the sulfur, you are tightly locked down in The Matrix. God help you. There is no Neo to rescue you. And you are too brainwashed and ignorant to be rescued by me.

You are part of the new Captive Nation.

Das Capitalist

I agree with the sentiment of this article, but finality was not invented by the Federalist Society. It's been a bedrock of American law since the earliest Supreme Ct cases. And yes, we herald it to the detriment of justice.


Well if I understand you correct that the Supreme Court is now the ultimate body of law and supersedes common law, constitutional law, and other old sources of law (Roman Law)...

I would suggest that as our governments became corporations, that we began to see offices, services, branches as profit centers within the government corporation.

Corporitization of government and reducing services to profit centers or stand alone units... brings out concerns for business over the normal sense of what a government is for.

This is the Seed of Fascism.

I know we must be conservative in budgets for governments and small governments must balance their budget. But something is missing where we transfer $1 Trillion to Defense Contractors for Regional wars where the governments either don't exist or can't mount a navy or airforce to attack us. Another example is the $1 Trillion Medicare/Medicaid that flows through the govt.

These are constitutional issues.

But I'm thinking you are most concerned with Individual or Civil Rights which limit government and which provide the frame work for individual rights and liberties.

Bottom line I think the Supremes are looking at Budget Concerns partly and partly are being influences by politics, money, power, access, association, and networks.


Trump seems to be making strides because he has some grit and character, but he also seems to be something of a loose cannon, with a streak of stereotypical Ugly Americanism, and naive to the dangers of political life. One hopes that he has a good circle of smart and conscientious advisors, especially in economics and foreign affairs, and can learn quickly.


Trump is a joke but fortunately he is forcing the point to the average americun idiot that the entire current election process is a bigger joke, although one which most of them still don't get. I heard educated people today describing the election in terms reminiscent of a facebook pissy-fight.

I don't care to speculate how this ends, but is is one hell of a show.

Enki Anu

In the court of law if one witnesses a crime and does nothing about it, is labeled as accessory to crime. We have a population who does not give a rat ass about all the murder our government commits around the world.

We are all accessory to the crime against humanity and whatever comes our way, we deserve it. May the prime creator grant victory to the free spirited Homosapeans.


>>>We have a population who does not give a rat ass about all the murder our government commits around the world.

This is the strongest argument in favor of Going Galt and/or expatriating.

Having one's labor, capital, intellect and life itself strip-mined by "government" is very difficult to avoid, but you can at least avoid supporting Imperial America... what it stands for, and what it does: lie, steal, and kill.


"The UN was founded so that we would never forget the crimes of great power, are we now in danger of forgetting ? Do we forget the lies that justified the conquest of Iraq and disguised America's plans to dominate the world ? Do we forget that the British government has announced for the first time that it's prepared to launch an attack with nuclear weapons echoing yet again George Bush ? And do we accept the distortion of intellect and morality that empties noble words like "democracy" and "liberation" of their true meaning ? That says it's wrong for a terrorist to kill innocent people but right for government's to commit the same crimes in our name ? The answer is that we need not accept any of this if we recognise that there are now two superpowers, one is the regime in Washington and the other is public opinion, now stirring all over the world as perhaps never before. Make no mistake, it is an epic struggle. The alternative is not just the conquest of far away countries, it is the conquest of us, of our minds, our humanity and our self-respect. If we remain silent, victory over us is assured." John Pilger


David Spears Addington (born January 22, 1957) was legal counsel (2001–2005) and chief of staff (2005–2009) to Vice President Dick Cheney,[1] and is now vice president of domestic and economic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation.[2][3][4][5]

During 21 years of federal service, Addington worked at the CIA, the Reagan White House, the Department of Defense, four congressional committees, and the Cheney Office of the Vice President.[6] He was appointed to replace I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr. as Cheney's chief of staff upon Libby's resignation when Libby was indicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice on October 28, 2005.[7] Addington was described by U.S. News & World Report as "the most powerful man you've never heard of" in May 2006.[8]


People don't get it.

When your leaders can go to foreign wars against people that can't mount a navy, air force, or army to attack you, or even have missile that can reach your shores... it is evil.

And this evil will be turned on the US Citizens at different points as their nature shows themselves in decisions.

They dehumanize to go to war, then they do the same to people on main street later on. That is why they don't give a shit about Jobs, Good Jobs, nor about the Wealth that was destroyed and then transferred to the wealthy in 2008 Crisis.

- They are Fascist.
- They think like Fascist.
- The Checks and Balances are gone.
- The Balance of Powers in the 3 Branches of Government Gone
- The power Divided between People, States, and Central Govt Gone

Broken Third Estate and fourth Estate. MSM is not Free Press.

- Free Speech has been usurped by Debt, the Need to Work, the Need for a Career, the Need for Promotions, Bonuses, and Instant Gratification.


One of the best comments I have read on ZH. The only thing I would add is the co-relation between the of the fall of the old American ideal with the rise of forces of Zion

The original gulags were also a zionist construct of their day.

The Russians are trying to break free.

henry chucho

Thank God he's got PHD in front of his name. There for a minute, I thought it was just the rantings of another American nut job..


Do you seriously believe the BS on offer from our mainstream media? The economies, political systems, and even the natural environment of the Earth is collapsing under human pressure. Nature will after millions of years recover itself without our aid, but we would be reduced to isolated tribes, a shadow of our former selves. Is this the path that you want our species to take?

Make no mistake, our economy is about to enter a new recession; the third wave in the cascading failure of the global economy. There was 2000, 2008, and then there will be 2015. Given global, as opposed to localized, economic and political weakness/instability vis-à-vis 1999 or 2007, the results are going to be worse.


The government of the United States stands for one thing and one thing only: Evil.

America is a fascist, police state. Evil can easily flourish in such a state.

Democracy has been dead in the land of the free for decades now.

The Deep State, a triad of Wall Street, MIC and spooks, runs everything in America since at least Nov 22, 1963. The NSA spies on the Supreme Court, Congress and the White House and you.

The most extraordinary passage in the memo requires that the Israeli spooks "destroy upon recognition" any communication provided by the NSA "that is either to or from an official of the US government." It goes on to spell out that this includes "officials of the Executive Branch (including the White House, Cabinet Departments, and independent agencies); the US House of Representatives and Senate (members and staff); and the US Federal Court System (including, but not limited to, the Supreme Court)."

The stunning implication of this passage is that NSA spying targets not only ordinary American citizens, but also Supreme Court justices, members of Congress and the White House itself. One could hardly ask for a more naked exposure of a police state.

Essay: Anatomy of the Deep State

There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The former is traditional Washington partisan politics: the tip of the iceberg that a public watching C-SPAN sees daily and which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power.

Who rules America?

The secret collaboration of the military, the intelligence and national security agencies, and gigantic corporations in the systematic and illegal surveillance of the American people reveals the true wielders of power in the United States. Telecommunications giants such as AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, and Internet companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter, provide the military and the FBI and CIA with access to data on hundreds of millions of people that these state agencies have no legal right to possess.

Congress and both of the major political parties serve as rubber stamps for the confluence of the military, the intelligence apparatus and Wall Street that really runs the country. The so-called "Fourth Estate"-the mass media-functions shamelessly as an arm of this ruling troika.

"The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media." -- William Colby, former CIA Director


They are certainly NOT clueless. They know who holds the real power (those with the real money), and they are going to be looking after their interests, especially when the penalties for upsetting those with power tend to be extrajudicial, but highly effective, as certain journalists have discovered.

"Justice", like "healthcare" comes with a price tag. Clients with a "better ability" to afford "justice" expect (and of course GET) a better brand. Why do you think the "well connected" seem to be able to avoid the slightest whiff of prosecution, whilst the minions are killed for no more than "looking the wrong way" at one of the Militia?


I call bullshit on this article.
DOJ cannot override a court decision.
They can challenge it and ask for higher court to look at it (in this case the supreme court).

I like reading his article but I think PCR is going off the rails.
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Have you kept up the last 6 years. They have and do. Obama has ignored several court decisions.


"America's First Black President is a traitor to his race and also to justice. "

Jesus, so PCR actually thinks this puppet wasn't put into place? Really? A junior Senator on the Senate banking committee? With no fucking past? Really?

Jeez, water is wet. Fire is Hot. Who knew?


Affirmative Action Barry Soetoro's allegiance is to the "green" race, that is, the color of money.


USA used to be one of the freest, richest countries on earth. Not today, deekras (dears). Today in many ways it is no different from any other developing country, not only in freedom but in police shootings searches, capital movement, infrastructure, public services, etc.
The trouble is that USA propaganda machine is still busy telling the whole world that America is "paradise" when in fact it is more like hell for those that are not rich. After 20 years of struggling we were lucky to get the opportunity to leave.
If you are planning to move there, DON'T!


PCR does skate fairly close to the edge.
I believe PCR uses the word Zionists, but he has certainly said that the Lobby basically controls US foreign policy in the Middle East. Openly making such a statement is still not good for a career in US Public Life (as Pat Buchanan might say), but the facts are pretty much beyond dispute.

[Jul 26, 2015] What Is Wrong with the West's Economies?

"...The jarring market forces? It was a political project with the desired results."
"..."We will all have to turn from the classical fixation on wealth accumulation and efficiency to a modern economics that places imagination and creativity at the center of economic life.""
"...AN excellent paper up until Eddie tries to solve the problem. His description of the long term societal effects of consolidation of corporations into corporatist behemoths and wealth into obscene levels of power, isolation, and self-indulgence was unerring. Too bad he had no idea what he was depicting."
"...Our financial leaders don't want a thriving economy. The want to crush the opposition and keep people under their thumb"
"...Perhaps well worth a rather long read, is Domhoff's piece titled, "The Class Domination Theory of Power, here:"

This is from Edmund Phelps. It was kind of hard to highlight the main points in brief extracts, so you may want to take a look at the full article:

What Is Wrong with the West's Economies?: What is wrong with the economies of the West-and with economics? ...

Many of us in Western Europe and America feel that our economies are far from just...

With little or no effective policy initiative giving a lift to the less advantaged, the jarring market forces of the past four decades-mainly the slowdowns in productivity that have spread over the West and, of course, globalization, which has moved much low-wage manufacturing to Asia-have proceeded, unopposed, to drag down both employment and wage rates at the low end. The setback has cost the less advantaged not only a loss of income but also a loss of what economists call inclusion-access to jobs offering work and pay that provide self-respect. And inclusion was already lacking to begin with. ...

How might Western nations gain-or regain-widespread prospering and flourishing? Taking concrete actions will not help much without fresh thinking: people must first grasp that standard economics is not a guide to flourishing-it is a tool only for efficiency. Widespread flourishing in a nation requires an economy energized by its own homegrown innovation from the grassroots on up. For such innovation a nation must possess the dynamism to imagine and create the new-economic freedoms are not sufficient. And dynamism needs to be nourished with strong human values.

Of the concrete steps that would help to widen flourishing, a reform of education stands out. The problem here is not a perceived mismatch between skills taught and skills in demand. ... The problem is that young people are not taught to see the economy as a place where participants may imagine new things, where entrepreneurs may want to build them and investors may venture to back some of them. It is essential to educate young people to this image of the economy.

It will also be essential that high schools and colleges expose students to the human values expressed in the masterpieces of Western literature, so that young people will want to seek economies offering imaginative and creative careers. Education systems must put students in touch with the humanities in order to fuel the human desire to conceive the new and perchance to achieve innovations. This reorientation of general education will have to be supported by a similar reorientation of economic education.

We will all have to turn from the classical fixation on wealth accumulation and efficiency to a modern economics that places imagination and creativity at the center of economic life.

I'm skeptical that this is the answer to our inequality/job satisfaction problems.

Posted by Mark Thoma on Friday, July 24, 2015 at 10:38 AM in Economics, Income Distribution, Productivity | Permalink Comments (14)

Peter K. said...

"With little or no effective policy initiative giving a lift to the less advantaged, the jarring market forces of the past four decades-mainly the slowdowns in productivity that have spread over the West and, of course, globalization, which has moved much low-wage manufacturing to Asia-have proceeded, unopposed, to drag down both employment and wage rates at the low end."

The jarring market forces? It was a political project with the desired results.

JohnH said in reply to Peter K....

Indeed! And there is currently no meaningful effort to fix the problem, only to worsen it through TPP and TAFTA.

Rune Lagman said...

"We will all have to turn from the classical fixation on wealth accumulation and efficiency to a modern economics that places imagination and creativity at the center of economic life."

Well, ain't gonna happen by "reforming" the education system.

Everybody (more or less) knows what it takes to "fix" the western economies; lots of infrastructure investment (preferable green) and higher wages. I'm getting fed up with all these "economists" that keep justifying the status quo (probably because their paycheck depends on it).

dan berg said...

Could it possibly be that your skepticism arises from the fact that -precisely because you are an academic economist - you haven't got an imaginative or creative bone in your body?

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to dan berg...

Dear AH,

Doc Thoma wrote "I'm skeptical that this is the answer to our inequality/job satisfaction problems."

Everybody has imagination and creative potential. Most people just lack the mean to express it in a way that will enter the economy. Even Edmund realized that people got to eat. The obstacles run from there. It was Edmund's answer that Doc Thoma was skeptical of. This was Phelps answer to the question:

"... Of the concrete steps that would help to widen flourishing, a reform of education stands out. The problem here is not a perceived mismatch between skills taught and skills in demand. (Experts have urged greater education in STEM subjects-science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-but when Europe created specialized universities in these subjects, no innovation was observed.) The problem is that young people are not taught to see the economy as a place where participants may imagine new things, where entrepreneurs may want to build them and investors may venture to back some of them. It is essential to educate young people to this image of the economy.

It will also be essential that high schools and colleges expose students to the human values expressed in the masterpieces of Western literature, so that young people will want to seek economies offering imaginative and creative careers. Education systems must put students in touch with the humanities in order to fuel the human desire to conceive the new and perchance to achieve innovations. This reorientation of general education will have to be supported by a similar reorientation of economic education..."

If you agree with Edmund Phelps on his answer then at least we must all admit that you have an astronomical imagination.

djb said...

Our financial leaders don't want a thriving economy

The want to crush the opposition and keep people under their thumb

Give people real hope and the economy will thrive

anne said...

By way of Branko Milanovic, referring to randomized trials in economics:


On Exactitude in Science
Suarez Miranda

…In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.


Viajes de varones prudentes
Jorge Luis Borges)

cm said...

"The problem is that young people are not taught to see the economy as a place where participants may imagine new things, where entrepreneurs may want to build them and investors may venture to back some of them. It is essential to educate young people to this image of the economy."

He left out the part who will pay for all these new things. Aggregate demand. I don't know where this idea comes from that young people don't imagine creating new things. They do it all the time, until the rubber hits the road and they have to get a corporate job because there is just not enough interest and funding for what they are interested in offering. No amount of education will help there.

Not to put words in his mouth, but its sounds like an impersonalized form victim blaming - schools suck and young people have no imagination.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to cm...

Schools suck and young people have too much imagination. But Edmund Phelps has more imagination that anyone that I have ever known :<)

cm said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

Not sure how this relates to my point. How will "better education" fix the fact that when you have a good idea, more likely than not there is no market for it? A lot of tech innovation "rests" in actual or metaphorical drawers because of no ROI or no concrete customer/market to sell it. And this is not a recent phenomenon.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said...

AN excellent paper up until Eddie tries to solve the problem. His description of the long term societal effects of consolidation of corporations into corporatist behemoths and wealth into obscene levels of power, isolation, and self-indulgence was unerring. Too bad he had no idea what he was depicting.

Lafayette said...

{... which has moved much low-wage manufacturing to Asia-have proceeded, unopposed, to drag down both employment and wage rates at the low end.}

Yes, unopposed. Just what should any nation do about it? Forbid it?

That's not the way economies work.

The Industrial Revolution took a lot of people off the farms, brought them into large cities, where accommodations were created for their families, and gave them jobs in factories with which to pay the rent.

Many then moved on to purchase those properties an become homeowners, which was a typical example of "economic progression".

Of course, the Industrial Revolution, which started in western developed nations, aided by a couple of wars, inevitably progressed from more developed to lesser developed societies.

We in the industrially developed West should not have permitted the Chinese, Vietnamese or Filipinos from bettering their lot by making exactly the same societal progression?

Where is the Social Justice in that, pray tell?

If there has been any failure in Social Justice, it is in the US. Piketty was very clear about that in this info-graphic:

The income unfairness that has occurred since the US ratcheted down drastically upper-income taxation was not replicated in the EU. Is a third of all income going to only 10% of the population in Europe unfair? Perhaps.

But not quite as unfair as the nearly 50% in the United States. And as regards Wealth, the societal impact is even worse. As Domhoff's work shows, 80% of the American population obtain only 11% of America's wealth historically. See that tragic bit of unfairness here:

Lafayette said in reply to Lafayette...

Perhaps well worth a rather long read, is Domhoff's piece titled, "The Class Domination Theory of Power, here:

Excerpt: {The argument over the structure and distribution of power in the United States has been going on within academia since the 1950s. It has generated a large number of empirical studies, many of which have been drawn upon here.

In the final analysis, however, scholars' conclusions about the American power structure depend upon their beliefs concerning power indicators, which are a product of their "philosophy of science". That sounds strange, I realize, but if "who benefits?" and "who sits?" are seen as valid power indicators, on the assumption that "power" is an underlying social trait that can be indexed by a variety of imperfect indicators, then the kind of evidence briefly outlined here will be seen as a very strong case for the dominant role of the power elite in the federal government.}

Thanks to RR in the 1980s.

No wonder "they" make statues of Reckless Ronnie. Can't believe that? See this from WikiPedia: "List of things named after Ronald Reagan", here:

[Jun 15, 2015] How Corporations Control Politics

Notable quotes:
"... Nearly 50% of the top executives and managers surveyed admit that they mobilize their workers politically. ..."
"... The most important factor in determining whether a firm engages in partisan mobilization of its workers-and thinks that that mobilization is effective-is the degree of control it has over its workers. ..."
"... I'd argue though that in terms of the overall discourse, "the bosses" have won without even resorting to anything so crude. ..."
"... people soak up attitudes about economics and trade policy from work. ..."
"... They aren't being threatened, it's simply a matter of culture – of lionising the "private sector" and bashing the "public sector" and those out of work. The identity comes out of water cooler moments and the lunch break. It takes a strong outside-work identity not to want the halo of "private sector wealth creator" and thus disdain a union, or a strike or a dole recipient ..."
"... But hey, it's not him getting black lung or dying in a mine collapse. It's his workers. The ones he's been fined repeated times for ignoring safety regulations to save a buck here and there. ..."
"... Much conservative rhetoric, especially in the US, is caught up in an anachronistic big-government/small-government debate. But real government is not where the nominal authority lies, but who has the real power! ..."
"... conservatives are leading a revolution, in which national governments are being usurped by the big government of the international corporate oligopoly. ..."
"... . . . the problem isn't corruption. It's capitalism. ..."
"... 15% report that employer messages affected their vote choice. ..."
"... Some workers are terribly underpaid, forcing them to work extra hours/job; some are subject to capricious scheduling, and irregular hours; others in prestige jobs intentionally overworked, makes for easier conditioning. All around the 40hr/week standard persists despite massive productivity gains. At least the French get August off to take a proper trip to the beach. ..."
June 7, 2015 |
In my Salon column today, I look at new research examining how corporations influence politics.
Money talks. But how?

From "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" to Citizens United, the story goes like this: The wealthy corrupt and control democracy by purchasing politicians, scripting speech and writing laws. Corporations and rich people make donations to candidates, pay for campaign ads and create PACs. They, or their lobbyists, take members of Congress out to dinner, organize junkets for senators and tell the government what to do. They insinuate money where it doesn't belong. They don't build democracy; they buy it.

But that, says Alex Hertel-Fernandez, a PhD student in Harvard's government department, may not be the only or even the best way to think about the power of money. That power extends far beyond the dollars deposited in a politician's pocket. It reaches for the votes and voices of workers who the wealthy employ. Money talks loudest where money gets made: in the workplace.

Among Hertel-Fernandez's findings:
1. Nearly 50% of the top executives and managers surveyed admit that they mobilize their workers politically.

2. Firms believe that mobilizing their workers is more effective than donating money to a candidate, buying campaign ads, or investing in large corporate lobbies like the Chamber of Commerce.

3. The most important factor in determining whether a firm engages in partisan mobilization of its workers-and thinks that that mobilization is effective-is the degree of control it has over its workers. Firms that always engage in surveillance of their employees' online activities are 50 percent more likely to mobilize their workers than firms that never do.

4. Of the workers who say they have been mobilized by their employers, 20% say that they received threats if they didn't.

My conclusion:
When we think of corruption, we think of something getting debased, becoming impure, by the introduction of a foreign material. Money worms its way into the body politic, which rots from within. The antidote to corruption, then, is to keep unlike things apart. Take the big money out of politics or limit its role. That's what our campaign finance reformers tell us.

But the problem isn't corruption. It's

Phil 06.07.15 at 3:43 pm

That's a disgusting state of affairs, and one which I hope is confined to the US. I've never seen anything remotely like that – never had a hint that my boss wanted to influence my vote – at any of the places I've worked, including the ones with no pension scheme and no union recognition.

Metatone 06.07.15 at 3:44 pm

I think in terms of campaigning (letter writing) etc. these abuses have clear effects.

I'd argue though that in terms of the overall discourse, "the bosses" have won without even resorting to anything so crude.

At least here in the UK it's palpable that people soak up attitudes about economics and trade policy from work. And those policy preferences aren't designed around their prosperity

They aren't being threatened, it's simply a matter of culture – of lionising the "private sector" and bashing the "public sector" and those out of work. The identity comes out of water cooler moments and the lunch break. It takes a strong outside-work identity not to want the halo of "private sector wealth creator" and thus disdain a union, or a strike or a dole recipient

Josh Jasper 06.07.15 at 4:38 pm

cassander : Seems to me that coal miners and coal mine owners have a lot of interests in common.

You might want to mention that to someone who's worked for Massey energy at the Upper Big Branch Mine. Suggest to him that he really ought to be giving his wages to the PACs if Massey tells them to.

I suggest having your dentist on speed dial.

For that matter, it's evident that the lot of interests Murray and his labor force have in common exclude worker safety as well

But hey, it's not him getting black lung or dying in a mine collapse. It's his workers. The ones he's been fined repeated times for ignoring safety regulations to save a buck here and there.

Does mobilization to vote Republican affect coal workers? Yes. It makes it very likely that the industry will get away with ignoring safety regulations to save money, because destroying mining safety regulations for major donors is a Republican party practice.

Sasha Clarkson 06.07.15 at 6:45 pm

Much conservative rhetoric, especially in the US, is caught up in an anachronistic big-government/small-government debate. But real government is not where the nominal authority lies, but who has the real power!

Like it or not, conservatives are leading a revolution, in which national governments are being usurped by the big government of the international corporate oligopoly. This of course is barely accountable for its actions, nor subject to democratic oversight, and hence can ride roughshod over the broad mass of humanity. Of course, like the Star Wars Trade Federation, the oligopoly also subverts/coerces the loyalties of employees from the wider community to itself.

I suspect that the trend is that national governments will be important only in that they will provide the armies to enforce the will of the corporate elite. Eventually even this may become unimportant as other means are found to suppress us! /images/6/68/TF-DCS-ST.jpg

Bruce Wilder 06.07.15 at 7:08 pm

. . . the problem isn't corruption. It's capitalism.

So simple, then. So obvious.

More than a century of organizing work in hierarchy was all just a big mistake, but no worries, we'll just exchange it for "economic democracy" at the service desk at Best Buy.

Ronan(rf) 06.07.15 at 8:11 pm
Not to display a put on world weary cynicism , but I'm surprised people are surprised by this. It isn't "capitalism" , it's politics. People have always been pressured into how they vote, whether by domineering individuals in their family, notable families in their community , factions in their village, political machines in their towns and cities , so on and so forth. In workplaces of all sizes, from small shops to local factories, individuals have been coerced, whether implicitly (through peer pressure) or explicitly (threats of dismissal) into supporting political positions a dominant faction wants them to. (Is this not part of what trade unions do, or have done?)
It is a fallacy of WEIRD thinking to imagine away such pressures historically. Obviously this situation in the OP isn't ideal, but it is politics , as it has existed since time immemorial. (Or at least a date I can't place)
Alex Hertel-Fernandez 06.07.15 at 8:24 pm
Cassander: I've looked at workers' self-reports of whether employer messages changed their behaviors. About half of all workers who have been contacted by their bosses report a change in at least one of their political behaviors or attitudes, and 15% report that employer messages affected their vote choice. Is this a lot or a little? I think the answer depends on whether you think it is an appropriate role for managers to play in the political lives of their employees.

You're definitely right that the economic interests of workers and managers are often aligned on things like trade and regulation. But many times they are not - as in the cases of working conditions (e.g. minimum wage) or redistributive policies. And independent of the content of employers' political messages, we might be worried about the power that managers have over their workers. For instance, I find that about 28% of contacted workers reported that their employers' messages either made them uncomfortable or included threats of economic retaliation. I think whether you are troubled by these statistics or not depends on whether you are concerned about power differentials between employers and their employees.

Barry Freed: Many of these employer tactics used to be illegal, for the most part, before Citizens United. And some states have taken action to curb the most coercive practices (NJ and OR). But most states haven't.

hix 06.07.15 at 8:40 pm
Well, I associate such behaviour with defect democracy – which is how id think of most historical democracies. So for me it is shocking to see this kind of mechanism in a modern long established rich democracy (ok not that shocking, considering all the other fingerpointers towards that direction with regards to the US).
gianni 06.07.15 at 8:46 pm
Not to mention the ways in which American corporations especially have worked to diminish the employee's time for political activity. Some workers are terribly underpaid, forcing them to work extra hours/job; some are subject to capricious scheduling, and irregular hours; others in prestige jobs intentionally overworked, makes for easier conditioning. All around the 40hr/week standard persists despite massive productivity gains. At least the French get August off to take a proper trip to the beach.

Added to this our antiquated infrastructure and sprawling residential geography make the simple fact of getting to work a huge time investment. While in your car you are more likely to be fed the political opinions of well-funded media figures than to those of your peers. Don't forget that this is in the country that invented the internet – how many of those people could just be telecommuting anyway?

Ronan(rf) 06.07.15 at 8:55 pm
@13 – I don't know if I'd see the US as an institutionally mature democracy akin to what exists in Northern Europe, more as a hybrid of areas that are economically and politically developed, and others that are more comparable to weak states or emerging democracies (at best the European 'periphery', Spain, Greece, Italy, Ireland- perhaps in the 80s more than now) You can see this in the weak state capacity, corrupt militia like police forces and late agrarian style of politics.
Also, perhaps I'm wrong.
Bruce Wilder 06.07.15 at 9:44 pm
Rich Puchalsky @ 11:

I appreciate that when you're going against an established story, you have to emphasize that what's really going on is a whole different story.

That's what I'd take "the problem isn't corruption. It's capitalism." to be.

But really I'd assume that it's both.

[Jun 05, 2015]What to Be Afraid Of

"...Some politicians are all fear, all the time. The Cheneys, father Dick and daughter Liz, are deeply, darkly, desperately afraid, and think we should be, too. Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the latest why-not-me candidates for president, seems to live in a hyperbaric chamber of imaginary nightmares. He famously said we needed to send troops to Syria - now! - "before we all get killed back here at home." "
"...The "fear-industrial complex" fuels increased spending on our military-industrial complex..."
"..."The fear-industrial complex." Thank you for putting a label on the conservatives' favorite tool. "
"...Scared people are easy to manipulate. You can point to the "other" as the cause of whatever they're afraid of, thereby dividing what should be allies and encouraging people to vote against their economic interests in order to vote for what they feel is "protecting their way of life". "

Some time ago, a friend of mine was hit by a bus in New York, one of almost 5,000 pedestrians killed in traffic every year. I also lost a nephew to gun violence - one of more than 11,000 Americans slain by firearms in this country. And I fell out of a tree that I was trying to prune in my backyard. I was O.K. But the guy next to me in the trauma ward was paralyzed from his fall. He was taking down his Christmas lights.

So it goes. Life is full of risk. Every day brings a minor calculation with the possibility of mortality: cross the street on red, get on a plane, jog in the heat.

It was encouraging, then, to watch the congressional debate this week over the Patriot Act, and realize that we are learning how to be afraid. At least, we're starting to put the infinitesimal risk of being killed by a terrorist in perspective.

Though a majority of Americans are still worried about an imminent terrorist attack in this country, the number of people who think such an assault will happen in their home area has dropped to the lowest figure in the post-9/11 period - 16 percent.

This is a good start. But the fear-industrial complex continues to dominate national priorities. Over the last 14 years, the enormous apparatus that has been built up to combat terrorism - huge structural changes in American society, and a lock-hold on the federal budget - has grown only more outsize and out of proportion to the actual threat.

You've heard it before, but it bears repeating: You are much more likely to be struck dead by lightning, choke on a chicken bone or drown in the bathtub than be killed by a terrorist. Any number of well-known diseases - cancer, diabetes, the flu - take the lives of far, far more people. Yet, by one estimate, the United States spends $500 million per victim of terrorism, and a piddling $10,000 per cancer death.

Since the 9/11 attacks, taxpayers have squandered about $1.6 trillion in the so-called global war on terror - which doesn't include money for the feckless Department of Homeland Security.

Most of us are going to live to the actuarial average of 78, and never experience terrorism as anything other than the energy drink that keeps Wolf Blitzer going in the absence of real news. (This week, he was breathless over an apparent hoax, while "Breaking News: Airline threats not credible" flashed on the screen, contradicting his reason for doing the story.)

Consider the various threats to life. The sun, for starters. The incidence of melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer, has doubled in the last 30 years. More than 9,000 Americans now die every year from this common cancer. I also lost a friend - 30 years old, father of two - to malignant melanoma.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death, just behind heart disease. Together, they kill more than a million people in this country, followed by respiratory diseases, accidents and strokes. Then comes Alzheimer's, which kills 84,000 Americans a year. And yet, total federal research money on Alzheimer's through the National Institutes of Health was $562 million last year.

To put that in perspective, we spent almost 20 times that amount - somewhere around $10 billion - on the National Security Agency, the electronic snoops who monitor everyday phone records. For the rough equivalent of funding a breakthrough in Alzheimer's, the government has not prevented a single terrorist attack, according to a 2014 report on the telephone-gathering colossus at the N.S.A.

People who text and drive are certainly a lethal threat. Every day, nine Americans are killed and 1,153 are injured by distracted drivers, though not all of them are checking their smartphones. If Wolf Blitzer spent a week on each of those victims, the rush of politicians calling for reform would be a stampede.

Food is a mortal menace. Every year, one in six Americans gets sick, and 3,000 die from food-borne illness. Your burger is a bigger threat than radical Islam.

You can blame the media, particularly cable news, for misplaced fear and budgets. CNN is the worst. Politicians do whatever they can to get cable time, and complaining about the paltry amount of money given to Parkinson's disease ($139 million a year) will not get you in the "Situation Room."

Some politicians are all fear, all the time. The Cheneys, father Dick and daughter Liz, are deeply, darkly, desperately afraid, and think we should be, too. Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the latest why-not-me candidates for president, seems to live in a hyperbaric chamber of imaginary nightmares. He famously said we needed to send troops to Syria - now! - "before we all get killed back here at home."

Don't get me wrong: Radical Islam is a serious threat, a poison on the globe. Hats off to the police in Boston for tracking the latest religiously infected potential killer. But we should put the threat in perspective: This is not World War II. Our entire democracy does not teeter on the outcome.

So what should you be afraid of? Are you sitting down? Get up - you shouldn't be. Sitting for more than three hours a day can shave life expectancy by two years, through increased risk of heart disease or Type 2 diabetes. "A lot of doctors think sitting is the new cancer," said Tim Cook, the Apple C.E.O.

It was an overstatement, and he probably meant to compare sitting to smoking, not cancer. But still, the War on Sitting would be welcome, if for no other reason than to give some legitimate fears a chance.


Obviously it is all about the money. The terrorists are the perfect enemy. Infinitely better than the former Soviet Union. Unlike the Soviets, the terrorists pose no real threat; they can't really hurt us; but they can never be defeated. It makes me sick.

Even the threat of the Soviets was over blown, all the better to divert trillions of dollars to the military industrial complex.


FEAR is one of the oldest selling points for tyranny (which, to be clear, is usually voted into office, at least initially). First comes "Be afraid," followed by, "We will protect you" with expanded police powers, from NSA to your local pistol-packin' PD.

False claims of enemies, from within or without, are a particular hallmark of the right (but not exclusively). When fears are fed, coaxed, and encouraged until they grow up into paranoia, extremism is a common result of irrationality. Remember "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice?"

Examples abound: Texans who insist everyone has the right -- and, by implication, would all be safer if they exercised the right -- to carry pistols in holsters on their hips while on college campuses, on freeways, in bars, in Walmarts and in church ... did I hear nursery schools on the list? To quote one leading Texas politician repeatedly elected to high state office: "There are three things I advise everyone to do: 1. pack a pistol; 2. Take it out of its holster upon provocation; and 3., well, I can't remember the third thing just now ... but I advise everyone to do it."

craig geary, redlands, fl

To hear Dick Cheney, Lindsay Graham and Oops Perry pimp perpetual war is a bad joke. Their qualifications?

Cheney is a Viet Nam draft dodging coward.

Graham, the warrior lawyer, able to kill platoons of ISIS with a single writ, will or divorce petition.

Perry, a literal guy cheerleader, exactly like Reagan, Boy George, Willard Mitty, who hid out in ROTC to expressly avoid Viet Nam, to dodge going to war, exactly like Reagan, Boy George and Willard Mitty.

The leading cheerleaders for perpetual war. Not one of whom has been in a war. But lusting to play tough guys by sending other people's children to suffer and die at something they are too cowardly to do themselves.

Despicable human beings.

Ralph, Wherever

Thank you Mr. Egan!!! Ten years ago, no one would have dared to write this column. The fact that you can write this tells me that the post 911 hysteria has started to pass.

Yesterday, Lyndsey Graham asserted that ISIS is a major threat to America. That is an absurd statement designed to exploit the fears of the nation. ISIS has about 31 thousand troops ( consider that Syria has about 300,000 troops ). It only survives in failed states like Iraq, Syria and Libya. Despite it's shocking brutality, ISIS has a very limited ability to launch attacks in America.

Yet, we will spend Billions of dollars in response to the hysteria. Politicians manipulate public fear for their own advantage. Thank you for sticking a pin in the fear balloon.

Mary Scott, is a trusted commenter NY 14 hours ago

The "fear-industrial complex" fuels increased spending on our military-industrial complex, which now claims a whopping 50% of ALL discretionary spending. Keeping Americans in a constant state of fear is also an effective way of diverting their attention from our crumbling infrastructure, income inequality and every other problem that affects the lives of millions of Americans every year.

Many pundits are predicting the 2016 presidential election will be more about foreign policy than anything else. Expect to be terrorized by the politicians and the MSM in the weeks and months ahead. Fear wins elections and keeps the press/media flush with cash.

Socrates, Verona, N.J. 12 hours ago

Fear, paranoia, propaganda and moneyed 'speech' is the entire Republican electoral strategy.

Without those precious ingredients to disrupt the neurotransmissions of its Republican voter base, no one except the Kochs, Donald Trump, Sheldon Adelson and a few white supremacists would vote Republican.

The only thing the Republican Party fears is a lack of fear in the American voter.... and the elimination of money as 'speech'.

JFR, Yardley

I was in middle school (~50 yrs ago), fond of parroting my father's conservative view of Vietnam (bomb them out of existence) and mocking the timid left when I read an essay pointing out that it was the right that was fearful (or exploited fear) - communism, militant blacks, liberal ideas ... - and the left that was essentially unworried about those threats (they had others, of course). That was an epiphany for me. Evolution has given us the ability to be fearful, but it overdid it - we can be too easily manipulated by our fears, and people, businesses, and governments do so to advantage themselves. If someone tells you to be afraid, you must ask how they themselves benefit.

ctflyfisher, Danbury, CT

As a psychotherapist, I couldn't agree with you more. There are some things to fear in our world, but terrorism is among the minor threats. We have much more to fear from how technology is the tail wagging the dog, and not something we decide. We have a rapidly disappearing middle class, an unpredictable path to succeed in being financially independent, an infrastructure that is crumbling all around us, a Congress that is insulated from the American people, and a political process that is about buying votes not democracy.

Rob Porter, PA 13 hours ago

"The fear-industrial complex." Thank you for putting a label on the conservatives' favorite tool.

For decades it was the "commies" we had to fear and overfund an endless war against. Remember how that morphed immediately into the "war on drugs" in the mid-80s when it became clear that the "commies" were even worse at running a country than Republicans? Lots of money funneled into that war. Lots of fear generated. Now the drums beat out their anxious rumble against "terrorism" despite its killing fewer Americans than falling down stairs (1200/yr).

And I have complete certainty that the Republicans will have a new fear ready to unleash when this one wears out its welcome. I don't know what it will be, but I do know it will keep the money flowing and the herd clumped in a fearful bunch, voting to keep the snarling sheepdogs circling, chasing away phantoms.

AT, media, pa

Scared people are easy to manipulate.

You can point to the "other" as the cause of whatever they're afraid of, thereby dividing what should be allies and encouraging people to vote against their economic interests in order to vote for what they feel is "protecting their way of life". You can come up with highly intrusive and military type programs to "keep people safe" so that those people thank you for taking away their civil liberties. You can pump up ratings with "breaking news" about something, anything that could possibly imperil the public so you can increase your ad rates. You can provide personal protection services and sell survivalist food packages and gold to those who ready themselves for the coming collapse of society- people who will buy $1000 worth of dehydrated soup to keep in their basement but will complain bitterly about having to pay $100 a month to have health insurance.

Sadly, since so much of the fear merchants' power and money depend on the American public being afraid all the time, there's no incentive to tell people the truth or to educate them as to how to find the truth themselves.

[Jun 05, 2015]Edward Snowden The World Says No to Surveillance

"...Metadata revealing the personal associations and interests of ordinary Internet users is still being intercepted and monitored on a scale unprecedented in history: As you read this online, the United States government makes a note."
"...A democracy cannot abandon it's responsibility to consider the rights and freedom of it's citizens as the highest purpose of law. When an agency assumes to protect with secrets and monitor the very people it has been paid and entrusted, to protect, the contract with the public is broken. Mass surveillance is a tool of the totalitarian state and does not belong in a free society, it's effectiveness is not the issue."
"...Privacy is something that is often ignored, treated as a right but without having true value. The true value is only appreciated when it has gone.
The surveillance society has not gone away, indeed, it will only progress as technology becomes more adapt at tracking us, detecting the softest of footprints, both in the real world and online. However, at least we're talking about it now."
"... Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say."
June 4, 2015 |

MOSCOW - TWO years ago today, three journalists and I worked nervously in a Hong Kong hotel room, waiting to see how the world would react to the revelation that the National Security Agency had been making records of nearly every phone call in the United States. In the days that followed, those journalists and others published documents revealing that democratic governments had been monitoring the private activities of ordinary citizens who had done nothing wrong.

Within days, the United States government responded by bringing charges against me under World War I-era espionage laws. The journalists were advised by lawyers that they risked arrest or subpoena if they returned to the United States. Politicians raced to condemn our efforts as un-American, even treasonous.

Privately, there were moments when I worried that we might have put our privileged lives at risk for nothing - that the public would react with indifference, or practiced cynicism, to the revelations.

Never have I been so grateful to have been so wrong.

Two years on, the difference is profound. In a single month, the N.S.A.'s invasive call-tracking program was declared unlawful by the courts and disowned by Congress. After a White House-appointed oversight board investigation found that this program had not stopped a single terrorist attack, even the president who once defended its propriety and criticized its disclosure has now ordered it terminated.

This is the power of an informed public.

Ending the mass surveillance of private phone calls under the Patriot Act is a historic victory for the rights of every citizen, but it is only the latest product of a change in global awareness. Since 2013, institutions across Europe have ruled similar laws and operations illegal and imposed new restrictions on future activities. The United Nations declared mass surveillance an unambiguous violation of human rights. In Latin America, the efforts of citizens in Brazil led to the Marco Civil, an Internet Bill of Rights. Recognizing the critical role of informed citizens in correcting the excesses of government, the Council of Europe called for new laws to protect whistle-blowers.

Beyond the frontiers of law, progress has come even more quickly. Technologists have worked tirelessly to re-engineer the security of the devices that surround us, along with the language of the Internet itself. Secret flaws in critical infrastructure that had been exploited by governments to facilitate mass surveillance have been detected and corrected. Basic technical safeguards such as encryption - once considered esoteric and unnecessary - are now enabled by default in the products of pioneering companies like Apple, ensuring that even if your phone is stolen, your private life remains private. Such structural technological changes can ensure access to basic privacies beyond borders, insulating ordinary citizens from the arbitrary passage of anti-privacy laws, such as those now descending upon Russia.

Though we have come a long way, the right to privacy - the foundation of the freedoms enshrined in the United States Bill of Rights - remains under threat. Some of the world's most popular online services have been enlisted as partners in the N.S.A.'s mass surveillance programs, and technology companies are being pressured by governments around the world to work against their customers rather than for them. Billions of cellphone location records are still being intercepted without regard for the guilt or innocence of those affected. We have learned that our government intentionally weakens the fundamental security of the Internet with "back doors" that transform private lives into open books. Metadata revealing the personal associations and interests of ordinary Internet users is still being intercepted and monitored on a scale unprecedented in history: As you read this online, the United States government makes a note.

Spymasters in Australia, Canada and France have exploited recent tragedies to seek intrusive new powers despite evidence such programs would not have prevented attacks. Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain recently mused, "Do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?" He soon found his answer, proclaiming that "for too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: As long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone."

At the turning of the millennium, few imagined that citizens of developed democracies would soon be required to defend the concept of an open society against their own leaders.

Yet the balance of power is beginning to shift. We are witnessing the emergence of a post-terror generation, one that rejects a worldview defined by a singular tragedy. For the first time since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, we see the outline of a politics that turns away from reaction and fear in favor of resilience and reason. With each court victory, with every change in the law, we demonstrate facts are more convincing than fear. As a society, we rediscover that the value of a right is not in what it hides, but in what it protects.

Edward J. Snowden, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer and National Security Agency contractor, is a director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Dan Whittet, New England

A democracy cannot abandon it's responsibility to consider the rights and freedom of it's citizens as the highest purpose of law. When an agency assumes to protect with secrets and monitor the very people it has been paid and entrusted, to protect, the contract with the public is broken. Mass surveillance is a tool of the totalitarian state and does not belong in a free society, it's effectiveness is not the issue.

Greg Day, New Zealand

Privacy is something that is often ignored, treated as a right but without having true value. The true value is only appreciated when it has gone.

The surveillance society has not gone away, indeed, it will only progress as technology becomes more adapt at tracking us, detecting the softest of footprints, both in the real world and online. However, at least we're talking about it now.

I'm not sure how the US views you Edward, but I at least consider you have done a service to humanity. Thank you.

MCS, New York 18 hours ago

Mr. Snowden, you've been called a man without a country. But you're more accurately a man without a generation. Your generation who voluntarily live their lives tapping senseless bits of information about their self inflated lives onto apps for the world to own. All this while people go to war, people suffer, innocent people are killed, fundamental human dignities are abused. Yet, hardly a blip of a response at all from this anti-activist generation. It is the generation of people in their 40's and 50's that are demanding change.

The Facebook generation aren't socially nor politically active. They're self absorbed group of anti-intellects in a race to the bottom. In fact, I find it hypocritical that anyone from that generation should be outraged over government intrusion when a mass of them are positively hooked on social media, posting every excruciatingly boring detail of their lives, details that seem to know no boundaries.

We have a growing problem on our hand, a divide not only between haves and have nots, but secular and religious societies respectively. The admirable beliefs you stand by, beliefs that changed the course of your life, don't offer an answer to what to do about a multiplying population of angry extremists raised in countries that guarantee no freedoms at all for its citizens. They will exploit our demands for privacy to cause great harm one day. A balance in your theories, not extreme suspicion of government is what's needed here.

Anne Hills, Portland, Maine 14 hours ago

I'd argue that Snowden's best quote is: "Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say."

I feel that the NRA has perhaps been the most effective organization in history at convincing their members that a "slippery slope" is to be feared above all things, and that the loss of even the smallest gun rights for the most worthwhile of reasons, is in fact unacceptable.

We need their kind of effectiveness in spreading understanding to all Americans who don't get it yet - that there is in fact a dangerous slippery slope when fundamental freedoms are truly lost. Your right to private letters, private conversations is not about hiding criminal acts, it's about preventing people in positions of authority from being able to manipulate you or the person you would elect or the person you have already elected. An all-knowing government has historically been oppressive. Why oh why do people fail to see that it could happen to us? It's the "it happens to others but not me" mentality.

Thank you so very much Mr. Snowden. Unless President Obama is being threatened by the NSA not to, let's hope that he will pardon Mr. Snowden. I can't think of anyone in American history more deserving due to service to his countrymen.

Arthur Layton, Mattapoisett, MA 18 hours ago

The idea that we can live private lives is absurd. If you use a cell phone, someone knows where you are (or have been) and records who you called. If you use a credit card, there is a permanent record of the date, time and location of your purchase. And video cameras are everywhere, from bank lobbies to grocery store, gas stations and office buildings.

If you want privacy today, stop using your cell phone. Pay cash for your purchases, "unregister" to vote and don't renew your driver's license.

[May 30, 2015] Rand Paul declares surveillance war and hints at filibuster for NSA reform

"By collecting all of your records, we're wasting so much money, so much time, and the haystack's so large we can't find the terrorists," Paul said. "I'm for looking at all of the terrorists' records – I just want their name on the warrant and I just want it to be signed by a judge just like the constitution says."
Spiegel said it is Expired.... And they are a NSA Fish Wrap.....
Notable quotes:
"... With controversial provisions of the Patriot Act scheduled to run out at midnight on Sunday, Paul, the Kentucky senator and Republican presidential hopeful, fielded questions about how he intended to win privacy campaigners a long hoped-for victory. ..."
"... "I think a lot of people in America agree with me," Paul said, "that your phone records should not be collected by your government, unless they suspect you of a crime and unless they call a judge and unless a warrant has your name on it." ..."
"... Apparently the real problem is Executive Order 12333, under which almost all of the mass surveillance is "authorized". ..."
"... By the time someone is a party candidate, they've already been bought off. National write-in. ..."
"... politicians listen to corporations and shareholders. What corporations dictate, their political lapdogs obediently listens. ..."
"... Please, tell me that porn sites are involved in this. Cut off Congress's porn access and they will be putty in our hands. ..."
"... "This is a blackout," read the site to which computers from congressional IP addresses were redirected. "We are blocking your access until you end mass surveillance laws." ..."
May 29, 2015 | The Guardian

Rand Paul indicated his intention on Friday to filibuster a surveillance reform bill that he considers insufficient, as privacy advocates felt momentum to tear the heart out of the Bush-era Patriot Act as its Snowden-era expiration date approaches.

With controversial provisions of the Patriot Act scheduled to run out at midnight on Sunday, Paul, the Kentucky senator and Republican presidential hopeful, fielded questions about how he intended to win privacy campaigners a long hoped-for victory.

... ... ...

"By collecting all of your records, we're wasting so much money, so much time, and the haystack's so large we can't find the terrorists," Paul said. "I'm for looking at all of the terrorists' records – I just want their name on the warrant and I just want it to be signed by a judge just like the constitution says."

... ... ...

"Right now we're having a little bit of a war in Washington," Paul said at the rally on Friday. "It's me versus some of the rest of them – or a lot of the rest of them."

... ... ...

In the middle is a bill that fell three votes shy of a 60-vote threshold. The USA Freedom Act, supported by Obama, junks the NSA's bulk collection of US phone records in exchange for extending the lifespan of the Patriot Act's controversial FBI powers.

While McConnell, Obama and many Freedom Act supporters describe those powers as crucial, a recent Justice Department report said the expiring "business records" provision has not led to "any major case developments". Another power set to expire, the "roving wiretap" provision, has been linked to abuse in declassified documents; and the third, the "lone wolf" provision, has never been used, the FBI confirmed to the Guardian.

... ... ...

The White House has long backed passage of the USA Freedom Act, calling it the only available mechanism to save the Patriot Act powers ahead of expiration now that the House has recessed until Monday.

Obama on Friday chastised what he said were "a handful of Senators" standing in the way of passing the USA Freedom Act, who he alleged risked creating an intelligence lapse.

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence whom Paul has criticized for lying to Congress about surveillance, issued a rare plea to pass a bill he has reluctantly embraced in order to retain Patriot Act powers.

"At this late date, prompt passage of the USA Freedom Act by the Senate is the best way to minimize any possible disruption of our ability to protect the American people," Clapper said on Friday.

At the Beacon Drive-in diner in Spartanburg, Paul chastised proponents of the Patriot Act for arguing the law would prevent another 9/11. "Bull!" a woman in the crowd exclaimed, as others groaned at the national security excuse cited by more hawkish lawmakers.

"I think a lot of people in America agree with me," Paul said, "that your phone records should not be collected by your government, unless they suspect you of a crime and unless they call a judge and unless a warrant has your name on it."

Multiple polls released this month have found overwhelming public antipathy for government surveillance.

Still, it remains unclear if the USA Freedom Act has the votes to pass. Senate rules permit Paul to effectively block debate on the bill until expiration. Few who are watching the debate closely felt on Friday that they knew how Sunday's dramatic session would resolve.

But privacy groups, sensing the prospect of losing one of their most reviled post-9/11 laws, were not in a mood to compromise on Friday.

"Better to let the Patriot Act sunset and reboot the conversation with a more fulsome debate," said Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

See also:

Trenton Pierce -> phrixus 30 May 2015 21:18

He opposes indefinite detention in the NDAA, he opposes TPP and the fast track. He opposes the militarization of local police. He opposes the secrecy of the Federal Reserve. He opposes unwarranted civil asset forfeiture. He opposes no-knock home searches. He opposes the failed drug war. He opposes war without congressional approval. What is it about him you don't like?

Trenton Pierce -> masscraft 30 May 2015 21:14

Then line up behind Rand. He polls the best against Hilary. The era of big government Republican is over. Realize that or get ready for your Democrat rule.

Vintage59 -> Nedward Marbletoe 30 May 2015 16:20

The machine would chew him up and spit him out and he's smart enough to know that.

ripogenus 30 May 2015 07:47

Just listened to NPR's On the Media. They did a special podcast just on the patriot act and the consequences if it expires. Apparently the real problem is Executive Order 12333, under which almost all of the mass surveillance is "authorized".

seasonedsenior 29 May 2015 22:20

New technology is beginning to equal the playing field somewhat whether it be video of police misconduct or blocking out Congress from 10,000 websites to stop NSA spying. This part of technology is a real positive. There are too many secrets in our democracy-light that should be exposed for the greater good. There is too much concentrated power that needs to be opened up. I am happy to see these changes happening. Keep up the good work.

AmyInNH cswanson420 29 May 2015 22:12

By the time someone is a party candidate, they've already been bought off. National write-in.

Viet Nguyen -> cswanson420 29 May 2015 17:44

politicians listen to corporations and shareholders. What corporations dictate, their political lapdogs obediently listens.

Best examples? Retarded laws that discriminate against gay people in states like Indiana. When major corporations such as Wal-Mart and Apple, who only cares about money, condemn such retarded laws with potential boycotts, their political lackeys quickly follow in line.

I am waiting for another multinational corporation to declare the NSA process detrimental to businesses, and see how many former government supporters of the NSA do a complete 180 degree stance flip.

EdChamp -> elaine layabout 29 May 2015 17:22

Please, tell me that porn sites are involved in this. Cut off Congress's porn access and they will be putty in our hands.

Congratulations! You win the award of the day for that one gleaming guardian comment that truly made me smile.

Repent House 29 May 2015 16:13

"This is a blackout," read the site to which computers from congressional IP addresses were redirected. "We are blocking your access until you end mass surveillance laws."

This is so freekin awesome... mess with the bull you get the horns as I always say! They seem to under estimate the strength, knowledge, tenacity, of the "AMERICAN PEOPLE" This is what we need to do on a wider scale for a number of things wrong! Awesome!

[May 30, 2015]Dare to say NATO no

May 27, 2015 | Aftonbladet

...Politicians and editors look for opportunities to step up its campaign for the accession to NATO, and in the spring of 2016, the parliament is expected to approve a host-country agreements that make it easier for NATO to with Swedish permission to use our territory as a base for military activities, "including the attack", "in peace, emergencies, crisis and conflict or international tensions".

Everything appears to be – and sold – as a speedy response to Russian aggression. Sweden and other countries are prepared after the end of the cold war in the belief that European peace was secured. But the president saw in our kindness as a weakness and took the opportunity to obtain tear up a security order that has prevailed for decades.

The story goes is repeated again and again every day in our media. Vladimir Putin, with the annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine have shown "that he does not respect the European order that had been in place since the second world war and statutes that borders cannot be changed by force", writes, for example, the Daily News, in an editorial on January 12.

Such an argument is a deliberate memory gap. MSM presstitutes push the button "forget" and suddenly a decade of war in the former Yugoslavia erased from the public consciousness.

We can argue about reasons and circumstances of intervention, but it is undeniable that the USA, NATO and EU countries intervened using military force to redraw the map of the Balkans. The leadership in Moscow has thus set a precedent to cite. Putin reiterates at the conflicts with Georgia and Ukraine, word-for-word the reasons the western powers claimed for the bombing of Serbia and the recognition of cessation of Kosovo.

But the right to put himself above the principles of the inviolability of borders and non-interference in other countries ' internal affairs is in our official propaganda worldview a privilege reserved for the "international community", which is in reality the United States and its entourage of small and medium-sized European satellites. International law applies to all other states, but not for the United States, NATO and the EU.

NATO expanded in 1999 their mutual defense obligations to include global dangers such as terrorism and the "disruption of the flow of vital resources", and in 2003, the EU adopted its first security strategy, inspired by the Bush doctrine on the right to preventive war against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction: "With the new threats the first line of defense will often be abroad ... We need to develop a strategic culture that fosters early, rapid, and when necessary, robust intervention."

It was the doctrine of the first line of defense – not the dreams of peace, who guided the Swedish defense military industrial complex. Territorial defense was abandoned at the end of the 1990s, literally send to the junkyard. What was left was prestigious military projects in industry and the individual units of professional soldiers trained for NATO operations in foreign countries. The restructuring was led by a consulting firm from the united states, closely tied to the Pentagon, the NSA and the CIA The armed forces would prepare for "global action - especially in the continents of the world in which Sweden has a vital economic and/or political interests," the consultants wrote in a secret report.

"Sweden's role as a regional power in the Baltic sea changed from neutrality to leadership", was said. Now for some reason "koalitionskrigföring and Sweden's ability to operate in collaboration with organizations such as NATO ... get a new and greater significance". This was written in 1998, long before the war in Ukraine.

When the U.S. interest in the Arctic and the north flank, now rising to the fore the plans. Sweden becomes a bridgehead in the quest to penetrate back to Russia. Gotland will again be anchored, Russian submarines tops the news and B-52 bombers taking over the sky.

The major powers have never hesitated to tramp the UN-principles, but with the doctrine of the preventive intervention there is nothing left of the respect of all the member states' sovereignty. If NATO considers itself have the right to place a first line of defense in Afghanistan or Libya, then does not Russia the same rights in Ukraine?

The Russian leadership will see in the western privilege for preemptive interventions a precedent. Europe is sinking into a black hole that draws misfortune of countries and people.

Several politicians, editors, and the military now proclaim that that we should jump in, leave the last of the neutrality and comply with NATO going directly into the black hole. Multiyear efforts of dragging the country into the the alliance, shall result in the membership.

We should do the opposite. Pull us out. Keep us away. Say yes to the exclusion.

It reduces the risk that our own government or the foreign power will drag us into the war. But not only that. Swedish neutrality is also an opening for the people in eastern Europe who are looking for a rescue out of the tug-of-war between the Russian oil and gas barons, domestic oligarchs and western financial oligarchs.

Being outside zone of US protectorate, we can jointly deal with the social issues.

More can be read about the NATO mutual försvarsförpliktelser in "The Alliance's Strategic Concept, Approved by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Washington, D. C., 990424".

The text was written in 1998 is available in the "SAIC: Perspective Study Dominant? Awareness 2020", Final Report, September 2, 1998, For The Swedish High Command, p. 5, 7

[May 21, 2015] Militarization Is More Than Tanks Rifles It's a Cultural Disease, Acclimating Citizens To Life In A Police State

May 21, 2015 | Zero Hedge
Submitted by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

"If we're training cops as soldiers, giving them equipment like soldiers, dressing them up as soldiers, when are they going to pick up the mentality of soldiers? If you look at the police department, their creed is to protect and to serve. A soldier's mission is to engage his enemy in close combat and kill him. Do we want police officers to have that mentality? Of course not."

- Arthur Rizer, former civilian police officer and member of the military

Talk about poor timing. Then again, perhaps it's brilliant timing.

Only now-after the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security (DHS) and Defense have passed off billions of dollars worth of military equipment to local police forces, after police agencies have been trained in the fine art of war, after SWAT team raids have swelled in number to more than 80,000 a year, after it has become second nature for local police to look and act like soldiers, after communities have become acclimated to the presence of militarized police patrolling their streets, after Americans have been taught compliance at the end of a police gun or taser, after lower income neighborhoods have been transformed into war zones, after hundreds if not thousands of unarmed Americans have lost their lives at the hands of police who shoot first and ask questions later, after a whole generation of young Americans has learned to march in lockstep with the government's dictates-only now does President Obama lift a hand to limit the number of military weapons being passed along to local police departments.

Not all, mind you, just some.

Talk about too little, too late.

Months after the White House defended a federal program that distributed $18 billion worth of military equipment to local police, Obama has announced that he will ban the federal government from providing local police departments with tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft and vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, camouflage uniforms and large-caliber firearms.

Obama also indicated that less heavy-duty equipment (armored vehicles, tactical vehicles, riot gear and specialized firearms and ammunition) will reportedly be subject to more regulations such as local government approval, and police being required to undergo more training and collect data on the equipment's use. Perhaps hoping to sweeten the deal, the Obama administration is also offering $163 million in taxpayer-funded grants to "incentivize police departments to adopt the report's recommendations."

While this is a grossly overdue first step of sorts, it is nevertheless a first step from an administration that has been utterly complicit in accelerating the transformation of America's police forces into extensions of the military. Indeed, as investigative journalist Radley Balko points out, while the Obama administration has said all the right things about the need to scale back on a battlefield mindset, it has done all the wrong things to perpetuate the problem:

It remains to be seen whether this overture on Obama's part, coming in the midst of heightened tensions between the nation's police forces and the populace they're supposed to protect, opens the door to actual reform or is merely a political gambit to appease the masses all the while further acclimating the populace to life in a police state.

Certainly, on its face, it does nothing to ease the misery of the police state that has been foisted upon us. In fact, Obama's belated gesture of concern does little to roll back the deadly menace of overzealous police agencies corrupted by money, power and institutional immunity. And it certainly fails to recognize the terrible toll that has been inflicted on our communities, our fragile ecosystem of a democracy, and our freedoms as a result of the government's determination to bring the war home.

Will the young black man guilty of nothing more than running away from brutish police officers be any safer in the wake of Obama's edict? It's unlikely.

Will the old man reaching for his cane have a lesser chance of being shot? It's doubtful.

Will the little girl asleep under her princess blanket live to see adulthood when a SWAT team crashes through her door? I wouldn't count on it.

It's a safe bet that our little worlds will be no safer following Obama's pronouncement and the release of his "Task Force on 21st Century Policing" report. In fact, there is a very good chance that life in the American police state will become even more perilous.

Among the report's 50-page list of recommendations is a call for more police officer boots on the ground, training for police "on the importance of de-escalation of force," and "positive non-enforcement activities" in high-crime communities to promote trust in the police such as sending an ice cream truck across the city.

Curiously, nowhere in the entire 120-page report is there a mention of the Fourth Amendment, which demands that the government respect citizen privacy and bodily integrity. The Constitution is referenced once, in the Appendix, in relation to Obama's authority as president. And while the word "constitutional" is used 15 times within the body of the report, its use provides little assurance that the Obama administration actually understands the clear prohibitions against government overreach as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

For instance, in the section of the report on the use of technology and social media, the report notes: "Though all constitutional guidelines must be maintained in the performance of law enforcement duties, the legal framework (warrants, etc.) should continue to protect law enforcement access to data obtained from cell phones, social media, GPS, and other sources, allowing officers to detect, prevent, or respond to crime."

Translation: as I document in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the new face of policing in America is about to shift from waging its war on the American people using primarily the weapons of the battlefield to the evermore-sophisticated technology of the battlefield where government surveillance of our everyday activities will be even more invasive.

This emphasis on technology, surveillance and social media is nothing new. In much the same way the federal government used taxpayer-funded grants to "gift" local police agencies with military weapons and equipment, it is also funding the distribution of technology aimed at making it easier for police to monitor, track and spy on Americans. For instance, license plate readers, stingray devices and fusion centers are all funded by grants from the DHS. Funding for drones at the state and local levels also comes from the federal government, which in turn accesses the data acquired by the drones for its own uses.

If you're noticing a pattern here, it is one in which the federal government is not merely transforming local police agencies into extensions of itself but is in fact federalizing them, turning them into a national police force that answers not to "we the people" but to the Commander in Chief. Yet the American police force is not supposed to be a branch of the military, nor is it a private security force for the reigning political faction. It is supposed to be an aggregation of the countless local civilian units that exist for a sole purpose: to serve and protect the citizens of each and every American community.

So where does that leave us?

There's certainly no harm in embarking on a national dialogue on the dangers of militarized police, but if that's all it amounts to-words that sound good on paper and in the press but do little to actually respect our rights and restore our freedoms-then we're just playing at politics with no intention of actually bringing about reform.

Despite the Obama Administration's lofty claims of wanting to "ensure that public safety becomes more than the absence of crime, that it must also include the presence of justice," this is the reality we must contend with right now:

Americans still have no real protection against police abuse. Americans still have no right to self-defense in the face of SWAT teams mistakenly crashing through our doors, or police officers who shoot faster than they can reason. Americans are still no longer innocent until proven guilty. Americans still don't have a right to private property. Americans are still powerless in the face of militarized police. Americans still don't have a right to bodily integrity. Americans still don't have a right to the expectation of privacy. Americans are still being acclimated to a police state through the steady use and sight of military drills domestically, a heavy militarized police presence in public places and in the schools, and a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign aimed at reassuring the public that the police are our "friends." And to top it all off, Americans still can't rely on the courts, Congress or the White House to mete out justice when our rights are violated by police.

To sum it all up: the problems we're grappling with have been building for more than 40 years. They're not going to go away overnight, and they certainly will not be resolved by a report that instructs the police to simply adopt different tactics to accomplish the same results-i.e., maintain the government's power, control and wealth at all costs.

This is the sad reality of life in the American police state.

[May 07, 2015] The Illegal Phone-Data Sweeps By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

May 07, 2015 |

There is a lot to praise in the powerful ruling issued by a three-judge federal appeals panel in New York on Thursday, which held that the government's vast, continuing and, until recently, secret sweep of Americans' phone records is illegal.

But perhaps the most important message the unanimous decision sends is a simple one: Congress could not have intended to approve a program whose true scope almost no one outside the National Security Agency fully comprehended - that is, until Edward Snowden leaked its details to the world.

In the nearly two years since those revelations shocked America and started a heated debate on the proper balance of privacy and national security, the N.S.A., which conducts the data sweeps, has defended its actions by contending that Congress knew exactly what it was doing when it reauthorized the Patriot Act in 2010 and 2011, after the collection program had begun.

At issue before the appeals panel was Section 215 of the act, which permits the government to collect information that is "relevant" to terrorism investigations. But the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, at the urging of the N.S.A., has interpreted "relevant" so broadly that it gives the government essentially unlimited power to collect all phone and other types of data.

In fighting this lawsuit, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union immediately after the Snowden leaks, the government argued that Congress was apparently fine with this alarmingly broad interpretation.

The problem, as Judge Gerard Lynch of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals rightly pointed out in his 97-page opinion, is that "it is a far stretch to say that Congress was aware" of what the intelligence court was doing. To the contrary, Judge Lynch wrote, "knowledge of the program was intentionally kept to a minimum, both within Congress and among the public," and there was "no opportunity for broad discussion" about whether the court's interpretation was correct. Allowing the government to define "relevant" so loosely, he said, "would be an unprecedented contraction of the privacy expectations of all Americans."

It is particularly galling that the government cannot even point to evidence that any terrorist attack has been thwarted by the collection of all this data. But even if it could, the panel said, "we would expect such a momentous decision to be preceded by substantial debate, and expressed in unmistakable language."

For too long that debate did not happen, nor could it, since the intelligence court operated in near-total secrecy. Now, thanks to Mr. Snowden (who still lives in exile in Russia), the debate is well underway, and not a moment too soon, since Congress is debating reauthorization of Section 215, which is scheduled to expire on June 1.

Bipartisan bills in both houses would amend the law to cut back on domestic phone-data sweeps, but they do not address bulk collection of overseas calls, which could include information about Americans, and they do not establish an advocate to represent the public's interest before the intelligence court.

Without such an advocate, Judge Robert Sack wrote in a concurring opinion, the court "may be subject to the understandable suspicion that, hearing only from the government, it is likely to be strongly inclined to rule for the government."

Unfortunately, even modest reforms face resistance from top Republicans, including the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who on Thursday called for the law to be renewed without change. In doing so, they ignored a ruling that is the most important rebuke yet of the government's abuses under that law.

ScottW, is a trusted commenter Chapel Hill, NC 1 hour ago

We must never forget the government lied to us about spying on Americans before Snowden blew the whistle. Director of Intel James Clapper admitted he lied to the People when he testified under oath the NSA was not collecting data from American's calls. When he lied, Congress knew it, the President knew it and Clapper knew it.

Snowden exposed the lie and the government immediately indicted him while Obama expressed support for Clapper who lied to the public.

Why should we ever trust what the government tells us about surveillance programs? Why is James Clapper still receiving a taxpayer's check after lying to us? Why doesn't Pres. Obama get it -- you don't lie and get away with it?

Oh yah, Pres. Obama knew he was lying when he testified and was hoping he could get away with it.

Thank you Mr. Snowden for exposing the lies perpetrated on the public. In a just World, Clapper would be indicted and you would be welcomed home as a Patriot. But as you know first hand, we don't live in a just world.

Thank you Mr. Snowden for exposing the liars for who they are.

RC, is a trusted commenter MN 2 hours ago

Good editorial; the unconstitutional surveillance of all domestic communications, not just phone records, should now be addressed.

Holding the politicians who authorize and support unconstitutional surveillance accountable might help to end the massive wasting of taxpayer dollars on these inefficient activities, which diverts funds from more productive programs that would benefit the security of our country.

[Apr 10, 2015] Exhumation of fascism by neoliberalism

Apr 06, 2015 | Izvestia

... ... ..

The term "fascism" was initially defined as a local phenomenon - the regime of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Later, the term changed its meaning and has become synonymous with Nazism (national socialism) of the Third Reich. During 1950-1990-Western political science began to call fascism any repressive regime and introduced the term "totalitarianism". This was done in order to combine Nazism and communism, those two social phenomenon were ideologically polar and has had a different social base despite using similar cruel methods.--[ I do not see much difference in enslavement via Gulag with ensavement via decration of undermench -- NNB] In one case, the the driving force was large industrialists and the middle class, in another - mostly the urban poor and part of intelligencia, especially Jewish intelligencia.

The theory of binary totalitarianism has no serious scientific status. The term "fascism" has now been returned to its historical meaning. It is a synonym of racism and all of its varieties - crops-racism (the idea of cultural superiority), the social racism (the idea of social inequality as the nature of this division of people into masters and slaves), etc.

Usually researchers try to distill the signs of fascism. For example, the Italian philosopher Umberto Eco counted 14. But this approach only blurs the subject. The myth of superiority is a key symptom. The rest is optional. Additional definitions are generated by the desire to "attach" to fascism more than that.

For example, "nationalism". Normal people are proud of their nation and its culture, but do not seek to destroy other peoples. This is the difference between nationalism and Nazism.

Or "traditionalism". If fascism were based in the traditions of the peoples, then some nations would have dwelt for centuries in the fascist state of fever. Tradition is the enemy of the "voice of blood", and there is no logic of exclusion of other people in traditions, while fascism lives this logic . Not coincidentally, he is associated with the Protestant line in Christianity and its idea of "chosen for salvation". Apart from the idea of exclusiveness, fascism is born with the spirit of renewal, the destruction of the weak and "unnecessary" for the sake of winning power, novelty and rationality. I repeat: tradition is the main enemy of fascism.

The idea of a strong state accompanies fascism, but does not define it. The Olympics of 1936, "Olympia" by Leni Riefenstahl are symbols of a strong statehood. But Hitler's fascism was not defined by the Olympics, but by the Nuremberg racial laws, summary execution of Slavs, Jews and Gypsies, the plans of the colonization of the Eastern territories.

Yes, the war of 1941-1945 was the war between two authoritarian States, but only from the German side it was an ethnic war. There were no intentions to carry out the genocide of "inferior Aryans" in minds of Soviet soldiers or Joseph Stalin.

In Europe in recent decades, it was fashionable to talk about fascism as "a reaction to Bolshevism". Indeed, the growing influence of leftist ideas in Europe in the first half of the twentieth century caused activation of right-wing forces. But the roots of fascism are more ancient then Marxist and Bolshevik. Fascism arose as a justification for colonial expansion. Hitler didn't invent anything new. He just moved to the center of Europe bloody colonialist methods of the British, the French, the Spaniards, and made the destruction of people fast and technically perfect: gas chambers, mass graves. In a way fascism is application of colonial methods to the part of population of the country, internal colonization so to speak.

The regime of the 1930-ies in Germany is the legitimate child of the European liberal capitalism. But this conclusion is seriously injures European sense of identity. That's why this statement is a strict taboo in the West --[not really, the hypothesis of intrinsic connection of fascism with European (colonial) culture are pretty common --NNB]. But the truth eventually comes out. Authors from European left now more frequently touch this connection and try to develop this hypothesis.

Today we are witnessing a return to archaization of neoliberal society and slide of neoliberalism into "new barbarism." Hence the reasoning of the European politicians about Ukraine as an "Outpost of civilization". However, the assertion that Russia "does not meet democratic standards", those days unlikely will deceive anyone. Euphemisms is a product of distortion of the language, not political reality. This phrase marks Russia as a "defective" state, inhabited by "inferior" people - "watniks", "colorado bugs". Neo-fascist model within the framework of liberalism is often built by shifting the boundaries of tolerance. To some people tolerance applies, to other - no. The protection of the rights of one group in this case means the destruction of the rights of another.

Political myth about the deep opposition between liberalism and Nazism have always refuted by independent historians. Today this myth is completely discredited.

There are obvious interplay and close relationship between the two ideas - fascist and liberal - obviously. They both go back to the idea of natural selection, transferred to human society. In other words, the strongest must survive at the expense of the weakest. this doctrine is often called "Social Darwinism". Indeed, the principle of "preservation of the fittest races", transposed into social sciences, resulted in the adoption of the Nuremberg laws designed to protect the "purity of race and blood" - the "law of the citizen of the Reich" and "Law on the protection of German blood and German honor."

The return of fascism is a symptom of a certain historical tendencies. To such radical measures economic elites resort only for the postponement of the final world crisis. But in the end it is fascism that might again bring Western societies to the wedge of collapse.

[Apr 04, 2015] Big Brother's Liberal Friends by Henry

The US elite does not like the message and thus is ready to kill the messenger... See Snowden interview with Katrina van den Heuvel and Stephen F Cohen at the Nation. Another interesting idea is the in the quote of Bruce Wilder: " classification as a mechanism for broadcasting information is exactly right, and a revelation, at least to me."
October 27, 2014 | Crooked Timber

I've an article in the new issue of The National Interest looking at various liberal critiques of Snowden and Greenwald, and finding them wanting. CT readers will have seen some of the arguments in earlier form; I think that they're stronger when they are joined together (and certainly they should be better written; it's nice to have the time to write a proper essay). I don't imagine that the various people whom I take on will be happy, but they shouldn't be; they're guilty of some quite wretched writing and thinking. More than anything else, like Corey I'm dismayed at the current low quality of mainstream liberal thinking. A politician wishes for her adversaries to be stupid, that they will make blunders. An intellectual wishes for her adversaries to be brilliant, that they will find the holes in her own arguments and oblige her to remedy them. I aspire towards the latter, not the former, but I'm not getting my wish.

Over the last fifteen months, the columns and op-ed pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post have bulged with the compressed flatulence of commentators intent on dismissing warnings about encroachments on civil liberties. Indeed, in recent months soi-disant liberal intellectuals such as Sean Wilentz, George Packer and Michael Kinsley have employed the Edward Snowden affair to mount a fresh series of attacks. They claim that Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and those associated with them neither respect democracy nor understand political responsibility.
These claims rest on willful misreading, quote clipping and the systematic evasion of crucial questions. Yet their problems go deeper than sloppy practice and shoddy logic.

Rich Puchalsky 10.27.14 at 11:03 pm

"Yet this does not disconcert much of the liberal media elite. Many writers who used to focus on bashing Bush for his transgressions now direct their energies against those who are sounding alarms about the pervasiveness of the national-security state."

It's not just the elite. I can't wait for the Lawyers, Guns, and Money get-out-the-vote drive. We'll have to see whether the slogan is "Vote, Stupid Purity Trolls" or "The Lesser Evil Commands". Maybe just two-tone signs labeling their target voters "Dope" and "Deranged".

Dr. Hilarius 10.27.14 at 11:44 pm

An excellent analysis and summation.

Any defense of the national security state requires the proponent to show, at a minimum, that the present apparatus is competent at its task. Having lived through Vietnam, the Gulf Wars, Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention many smaller governmental adventures) I see no evidence of competence. Instead, it's repetitive failures of analysis and imagination no matter how much raw intelligence is gathered.

Nor is there any evidence that existing oversight mechanisms function as intended. Recent revelations about the CIA spying on the Senate should be enough to dispel the idea that leakers have no role to play.

Kinsley is particularly loathsome. His position is little more than "your betters know best" and that the state's critics are guttersnipes needing to be kicked to the curb. Kinsley doesn't need a coherent position, his goal is to be a spokesman for the better sorts, nothing more.

Collin Street 10.27.14 at 11:53 pm

Any defense of the national security state requires the proponent to show, at a minimum, that the present apparatus is competent at its task

Dunning-Kruger, innit. There are actually pretty good reasons to believe that strategic intelligence-gathering is pretty much pointless (because your strategic limitations and abilities by-definition permeate your society and are thus clearly visible through open sources), so you'd expect in that case that the only people who'd support secret strategic intelligence-gathering would be people who don't have a fucking clue.

[specifically, I suspect that secret strategic intelligence gathering is particularly attractive to people who lack the ability to discern people's motivations and ability through normal face-to-face channels and the like…

… which is to say people with empathy problems. Which is something that crops up in other contexts and may help explain certain political tendencies intelligence agencies tend to share.]

Thornton Hall 10.28.14 at 12:03 am

This sentence is false and a willful distortion mixing legality and politics to elide the basic fact that the Justice Department has not prosecuted anyone who did not break the law:

The continued efforts of U.S. prosecutors to redefine the politics of leaking so as to indict journalists as well as their sources suggest that Greenwald had every right to be worried and angry.

Meanwhile, ever since Mark Felt blew the whistle on a psychopath and the result was the deification of Bob Woodward, the American elite has been utterly confused about the role of journalism in a democracy.

That your essay mixes Professor Wilentz with the father of #Slatepitch, and an archetypical "even the liberal New Republic…" journalist as if they all had the same job description is part and parcel of this ongoing inability to separate the job of selling newspapers from the job of public intellectual.

Glenn Greenwald is a "journalist" crank who is simply not in a category that overlaps with Daniel Ellsberg. Snowden is in the same category as Ellsberg, and Packer is right to note that he does not compare particularly well. But then Packer's analysis failed to explain why Snowden needed the judgment and gravitas of Ellsburg. And it was a side point in any case, because Packer's actual thesis was the sublimely stupid point that only "objective" journalism can be trusted to do leaks right.

The other unfortunate confusion I see in the essay is the mixing of domestic and foreign policy. There is not a single thing about the New Deal that informs opinion about Edward Snowden. Nothing. What does regulating poultry production have to do with killing Iraqis? What does the Civilian Conservation Core have to do with drone strikes in Pakistan? The Four Freedom speech was a pivot from domestic to foreign policy given in 1941. Freedom from Want was the New Deal. Freedom of Speech was about the looming conflict with fascism, not domestic policy.

Both confusions–the failure to recognize journalists as pawns selling newspapers and the failure to understand that foreign policy and liberalism do not have to be linked–result when the blind spots of the press and the academy overlap. In areas where journalists and the academy provide checks and balances to each other they tend to do well. Edward Snowden represents the apex of the overlap between academic and journalistic obsessions, and so no one is there to say: "Hey, the top freedom concerns of journalists and professors are not synonymous with freedom writ large or with liberalism.

Daniel Nexon 10.28.14 at 12:48 am

Liked the piece, even though we probably come down differently on some of the merits.

I wonder if the explanation isn't simpler. A number of what you term "national security liberals" have served in government and held clearances. Many of them - and here I include myself - took seriously that obligation. And so there's a certain degree of innate discomfort with the whole business of leaks, let alone those that don't seem narrowly tailored. Wikileaks was not. Snowden's leaks included par-for-the-course foreign-intelligence gathering (and this sets aside his escape to Hong Kong and subsequent decision to accept asylum from the Russia Federation).

I recognize that there's a larger argument that you've made about how the trans-nationalization of intelligence gathering - centered on the US - changes the moral equation for some of these considerations. I don't want to debate that claim here. The point is that you can be a civil-liberties liberal, believe that some of the disclosures have served the public interest, and still feel deeply discomforted with the cast of characters.

Rich Puchalsky 10.28.14 at 1:07 am

"still feel deeply discomforted with the cast of characters"

We need better leakers - leakers who honor their promises not to reveal inside information. Leakers who don't leak.

Not like that unsavory character, Daniel Ellsberg, who I hear had to see a psychiatrist.

Barry 10.28.14 at 1:09 am

" Indeed, in recent months soi-disant liberal intellectuals such as Sean Wilentz, George Packer and Michael Kinsley …"

Kinsley is a hack who occasionally coins a good term. At 'Even the Liberal' New Republic, he was a biddable wh*re for a vile man, Peretz. At Slate, he took the same attitude, preferring snark to truth, and built it into the foundations.

Packer is not an intellectual, either. He's a cheerleader for war who has just enough give-a-sh*t to right a book explaining the problems, long after it was clear to others that things had failed.

I don't know much about Sean Wilentz, except that he's a long time 'cultural editor' at 'Even the Liberal' New Republic under Peretz, which is a strike against him. Heck, it's two strikes.

BTW, after Watergate, the press did know its role in democracy – the elites are really against it. IIRC, Whatshername the owner of the WaPo actually praised 'responsible journalism' not too long afterwards.

Sev 10.28.14 at 1:58 am

#4 From a different era, the NYT story on use of Nazis by US spy agencies:

"In Connecticut, the C.I.A. used an ex-Nazi guard to study Soviet-bloc postage stamps for hidden meanings."

A certain skepticism, at least, than and now, seem fully justified.

Matt 10.28.14 at 2:48 am

I don't think that even the most transparent, democratic, public decision making process among American citizens can legitimately decide that German or Indian citizens cannot have privacy. If in Bizarro World that makes me illiberal, then I will be illiberal.

Losing the capability to conduct mass electronic surveillance is akin to losing the capability to make nerve gas or weaponized anthrax spores. It's a good thing no matter who loses the capability, or how loudly hawks cry about the looming Atrocity Gap with rival powers. It would be a better world if Russia and China also suffered massive, embarrassing leaks about their surveillance systems akin to the Snowden leaks. But a world where there's only embarrassing leaks about the USA and allies is better than a world with no leaks at all. Better yet, the same technical and legal adaptations that can make spying by the USA more difficult will also make Americans safer against spying efforts originating from China and Russia. It's upsides all the way down.

John Quiggin 10.28.14 at 2:57 am

""I can see C as justified but not decamping to Hong Kong and Russia.""

Again, given the fact that the "right" people are immune from prosecution for any crimes they commit in the course of politics (other than sexual indiscretations and individual, as opposed to corporate, financial wrongdoing) this seems like a pretty hypocritical distinction. Those involved in torture, from the actual waterboarders up to Bush and Cheney, don't have to think about fleeing the US – indeed, the only (small) risk they face is in travelling to a jurisdiction where the rule of law applies to them.

For the wrong people on the other hand, there are no reliable legal protections at all. On recent precedent they could be declared "enemy combatants", held incommunicado, tortured and, at least arguably, executed by military courts. This would require a reversal of stated policy by the Obama Administration, but that's a pretty weak barrier.

bad Jim 10.28.14 at 4:31 am

It's far from clear that the massive expansion of surveillance has actually been of any use. The West hasn't faced any strategic threats since the end of the Cold War, and even the Soviet threat was almost certainly less than we feared. Someone once remarked of the intelligence-gathering efforts of that era, "It's difficult to discover the intentions of a state which doesn't know its own intentions."

We seem to have been surprised by recent developments in the Middle East and by Russian actions in Crimea and Ukraine; more to the point, it's not necessarily clear how we can or should respond. It may be that the massive apparatus in place is unable to acquire the information we desire. It's not clear that better information would actually be useful.

dsquared 10.28.14 at 4:53 am

I always thought it would be instructive to compare the views of the "national security liberals" with a test case. What, for example, do they have to say about the other North American government which operates a grisly system of unregulated political prisons in the island of Cuba, but tries to portray itself as progressive because of its (admittedly excellent) record of providing healthcare to the poor?

William Timberman 10.28.14 at 5:34 am

I think one point could be made a little more explicitly. Beginning in the late Thirties, without a great deal of serious concern for the possible consequences, the machinery of the social welfare state in the U.S., such as it was, was gradually repurposed to serve the national security state, and from 1947 or so to the present, the pace of that repurposing has rarely slackened. One can argue about how much of it was attributable to intent, and how much to circumstance, how much or how little bad faith it took to complete the conversion, but there's little doubt that it's now largely over and done with, and that the consequences are there to see for anyone who cares to look.

George Packer may think that the national security state is a perfectly admirable creation, but if so, I'd question whether or not he's really a liberal. By any definition of liberalism I'm aware of, it's odd liberal indeed who doesn't think Edward Snowden ought to be trusted with sensitive information, but doesn't at all mind leaving it in the custody of Keith Alexander.

maidhc 10.28.14 at 8:03 am

The CIA produced the Pentagon Papers under orders from LBJ. They produced a document blaming everything on the stupid politicians while the CIA was always right. Unfortunately no one could read it because it was secret. Hence it was leaked to the New York Times.

Woodward and Bernstein had intelligence backgrounds. The Washington Post was known to have close CIA ties. Everyone involved in Watergate was tied to the CIA and the Bay of Pigs. Nixon was taken down from the right.

If you look at those Cold War days, almost everything that was considered to be highly secret, the world would have been better off if it had been public knowledge. Major policy decisions on both sides were based on false information provided by intelligence services.

That is not to say that things that happened back in those days are unimportant now. The career of Stepan Bandera, for example, is tied in very closely with today's headlines.

J Thomas 10.28.14 at 8:43 am

#12 Watson Ladd

I can easily imagine bribing Putin's butler to be an easy and effective way to get good information on both of those, and I can imagine that doing so openly would be catastrophic.

Whyever would you expect Putin's butler to know either of those?

But I find this plausible - Putin's butler goes to the secret police and tells them he's had an offer. They say "OK, take the money and tell them this:" and they give him a cover story to tell the spies.

Continuing the story, a top general's batman does the same thing, but the secret police do not coordinate well enough and he gets a different cover story.

Another top general's mistress does it and gets a third cover story to tell. The stories do not add up at all.

So then somebody in the CIA looks at all the conflicting data, and MAKES UP a story which makes sense, concentrating on estimates of capabilities, and estimates about what choices are likely based on internal politics etc.

The report reaches various people in the military with a need-to-know, who discount it and who make their mostly-mundane decisions about preparation on the basis of path-of-least-resistance. The report may even reach the President, who also discounts it.

Furthermore, plenty of information that isn't strategic in nature can be very useful. Knowing that in event of war, your fighter planes can outmatch theirs, is useful.

How would you find that out, except by testing it for real with their real pilots with real training, etc? Base it on the performance claims by US manufacturers versus the potential enemy's manufacturing claims?

So is knowing that they are planning to invade a country, or are actively collaborating with terrorist organizations.

The USA makes plans to invade other countries *all the time*. Often we publicly threaten to invade them for a year or more ahead of time, while we slowly build up supply dumps in nearby areas. It usually isn't hard to tell whether a nation is ready to invade some particular other nation. The hard part is predicting whether or when they actually do it. Chances are, they don't know themselves and nobody in the world can accurately predict that until shortly before it happens.

The USA and Israel actively cooperate with terrorist organizations *all the time*. It doesn't mean that much. Except we can use it for propaganda. "Our enemies actively collaborate with terrorist organizations! Our secret intelligence organizations have proof, but we can't show it to you because that would compromise our sources. Trust us."

Very little of this is likely to be reported openly, particularly from dictatorships.

Or from the USA. Or from anybody, really. We all like our surprises.

J Thomas 10.28.14 at 8:57 am

#19 Daniel Nexon

As I suggested above, albeit perhaps opaquely, it is perfectly possible to say "I can see C as potentially justified, but not D… G" and to say "I can see C as justified but not decamping to Hong Kong and Russia."* These strike me as categorically distinct arguments from "Snowden, Greenwald, and Assange aren't the 'right sort of people," even if those advancing that claim invoke some of the same warrants.

I don't understand this sort of claim. Normally, US citizens have basicly no information about what our expensive secret-creating organizations do. The basic argument is "Trust us. We're doing good, but it would be catastrophic if you knew.".

Now we have a more-or-less-random samples from Snowden and Manning. So my questions about their personal character center around two themes:

1. Did they release false data, created by the US government to make cover stories to hide the real stuff that the US government does not want us to know?

2. Did they release false data, created by some foreign government and intended to discredit the US government?

3. Are there important discrepancies between them, that might indicate that at least one of them was doctored?

Apart from those, why are we talking about Snowden or Manning or Greenwald, instead of what we've found out about our government?

Barry 10.28.14 at 12:04 pm

Tony Lynch 10.28.14 at 4:30 am

"The persoanl animosity towards GG from, presumably, people with no personal relationship to GG, is weird. Whence this incessant personalism – not only from Kinsley et. al., but from those who claim more genuine liberal and left convictions? Why does it seem important to approach things by venting this personal animosity?"

Here are my thoughts:

1). Most of these elite journalists are leakers of classified information, and guilty of serious felonies. However, they are lapdogs of the establishment, and comparable more to Pravda than a free press. They don't like unauthorized leaks.

2). All three liberals mentioned eat a lot of right-wing sh*t, for actual liberals. Again, they are lapdogs, who occasionally criticize, but in a limited fashion. Heck, Kinsley played Buchanon's poodle on TV show. They therefore don't like people who actually oppose the establishment, moreso because it shows them up as the frauds that they are.

lvlld 10.28.14 at 1:17 pm


Not quite.

MacNamara (politician) ordered his staff (Office of the Secretary of Defense) to carry out the study (they got some material from the CIA and State), out of a concern that the whole thing might be a huge mistake on the part of US policymakers – politicians and otherwise – from World World 2 on down. That was July, 1967. He resigned a few months later, the report was completed in late 1968.

Dan Ellsberg (Rand, ex-OSD) was involved in producing it, and was dismayed by the scale of the official deceptions and thought that yes, this was probably material in the public interest. He leaked it to the Times and the Post, the latter of which's decision to publish on June 18, 1971 was not made in consultation with its city beat reporters, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.

Thornton Hall 10.28.14 at 2:15 pm

So the following points are uncontroverted:

J Thomas 10.28.14 at 2:16 pm

#13 Andrew F

He claimed that the CIA might hire Chinese gangsters to murder him, or journalists associated with him, among other things. So to say that he has a "teenager's conspiratorial view of the world" is not to speak without some justification.

This minor point deserves some thought.

Do you have more access to CIA secrets than Snowden did?

If not, why do you believe that your understanding of what the CIA might do is better informed than his was?

Layman 10.28.14 at 2:23 pm

"I think it is perfectly fair to judge Snowden based on the totality of his actions. Isn't that how we're supposed to judge people? "

Why judge him at all, in the context of discussing his revelations and what they mean for civil liberties? It's perfectly clear that some people choose to judge Snowden in order to dismiss those revelations. Isn't that the point of the OP? Do you agree that your personal distaste for Snowden is irrelevant to the larger question? And that people who seek to distract from that larger question by focusing on Snowden's character are engaged in hackery?

Bruce Wilder 10.28.14 at 3:51 pm

Dan Nexon @ 47

The apparatus of surveillance and the system of classification are both parts of a vast system of secrecy - aspects of the architecture of the secret state, the deep state.

I've had a security clearance, and so have some personal acquaintance with the system of classification and what is classified, why it is classified and so on, as well as experience with the effect classification has on people, their behavior and administration. I see people sometimes elaborate the claim that, of course the state must have the capacity to keep some information confidential, which is undoubtedly true, but sidesteps the central issue, which is, what does the system of classification do? what does the secrecy of the deep state do? What is the function of the system of classification?

From my personal acquaintance, I do not think it can be said that its function is to keep secrets. Real secrets are rarely classified. Information is classified so that it can be communicated, and in the present system operated by the U.S. military and intelligence establishment, broadcast. I suppose, without knowing as an historic fact, that the system of classification originated during WWII as a means to distribute information on a need-to-know basis, but that's not what goes on now. The compartmentalization that the term, classification, implies, is largely absent. That Manning or Snowden could obtain and release the sheer volume of documents that they did - not the particular content of any of them - is the first and capital revelation concerning what the system is, and is not. The system is not keeping confidential information confidential, nor is it keeping secrets; it is broadcasting information.

The very idea that a system that broadcasts information in a way that allows someone at the level of a Manning or Snowden to accumulate vast numbers of documents has kept any secrets from the secret services of China or Russia is, on its face, absurd. The system revealed by the simple fact of the nature of Snowden's and Manning's breaches is not capable of keeping secrets. Snowden was a contractor at a peripheral location, Manning a soldier of very low rank.

Rich Puchalsky 10.28.14 at 3:57 pm

This comment thread is just as disgusting as the comment threads elsewhere, so I'll direct people to what I think is one of the best articles on all this: Bruce Sterling's.
William Timberman 10.28.14 at 4:00 pm

Bruce Wilder @ 72

Fox News for apparatchiks. Brilliant, especially since not even Keith Alexander in his specially-equipped war room had any idea how many apparatchiks there were, nor where they were, nor what they were up to when his panopticon was looking the other way.

Bruce Wilder 10.28.14 at 4:02 pm

Rich Puchalsky : If only the government could tell us the real story! Then we'd know that they aren't lying.

The system of classification is a system of censorship. It creates a system of privileged access to information that permits highly-placed officials to strategically leak information as a means to manipulate the political system.

It doesn't keep secrets from the enemies of democracy abroad; it creates enemies of democracy at home, placing them in the highest reaches of government.

J Thomas 10.28.14 at 4:14 pm

357 Layman

"I think it is perfectly fair to judge Snowden based on the totality of his actions. Isn't that how we're supposed to judge people? "

Why judge him at all, in the context of discussing his revelations and what they mean for civil liberties?

Judging Snowden is a very serious matter for everybody who has a security clearance.

If you have a clearance, then you have to consider whether or not you ought to do the same thing. On the one hand you swore an oath not to. You would be breaking your word. And you can expect to be punished severely.

On the other hand, there are the things you know about, that have destroyed American democracy. Do you have an obligation to the public? But then, you probably know that it's already too late and nothing can be done.

What should you do? In that context, deciding just how wrong Snowden was, is vitally important.

It's perfectly clear that some people choose to judge Snowden in order to dismiss those revelations.

Well sure, of course. If it's their job to patch things up, they have to use whatever handle is available.

But apart from the hacks, every single honest person who has a security clearance has to somehow find a way to justify that he has not done what Snowden did. If Snowden did it incompetently, he might have an obligation to do it better. Or maybe his obligation instead is to the power structure and not to the people.

Likely by now there is better technology in place to catch people who try to reveal secrets. We can't know how many people have tried to reveal secrets since Snowden, who have failed and disappeared.

Layman 10.28.14 at 4:15 pm

Bruce Wilder @ 72

Bravo! This view of classification as a mechanism for broadcasting information is exactly right, and a revelation, at least to me.

[Apr 03, 2015] Random findings

Personal details of world leaders accidentally revealed by G20 organisers Guardian. Schadenfreude alert.

Tor reportedly hires Verizon's PR firm to fight back against Pando's reporting Yasha Levine, Pando

Before leak, NSA mulled ending phone program Associated Press (furzy mouse)

NSA Tried to Roll Out Its Automated Query Program Between Debates about Killing It Marcy Wheeler

Obama's Intelligence Oversight Board a Corporate Lot PEU Report

[Mar 24, 2015] The Deep State

February 28, 2014 |

Steve Sailer links to this unsettling essay by former career Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren, who says the "deep state" - the Washington-Wall-Street-Silicon-Valley Establishment - is a far greater threat to liberty than you think. The partisan rancor and gridlock in Washington conceals a more fundamental and pervasive agreement. Excerpts:


These are not isolated instances of a contradiction; they have been so pervasive that they tend to be disregarded as background noise. During the time in 2011 when political warfare over the debt ceiling was beginning to paralyze the business of governance in Washington, the United States government somehow summoned the resources to overthrow Muammar Ghaddafi's regime in Libya, and, when the instability created by that coup spilled over into Mali, provide overt and covert assistance to French intervention there. At a time when there was heated debate about continuing meat inspections and civilian air traffic control because of the budget crisis, our government was somehow able to commit $115 million to keeping a civil war going in Syria and to pay at least £100m to the United Kingdom's Government Communications Headquarters to buy influence over and access to that country's intelligence. Since 2007, two bridges carrying interstate highways have collapsed due to inadequate maintenance of infrastructure, one killing 13 people. During that same period of time, the government spent $1.7 billion constructing a building in Utah that is the size of 17 football fields. This mammoth structure is intended to allow the National Security Agency to store a yottabyte of information, the largest numerical designator computer scientists have coined. A yottabyte is equal to 500 quintillion pages of text. They need that much storage to archive every single trace of your electronic life.

Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an "establishment." All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched. Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State's protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude.


Washington is the most important node of the Deep State that has taken over America, but it is not the only one. Invisible threads of money and ambition connect the town to other nodes. One is Wall Street, which supplies the cash that keeps the political machine quiescent and operating as a diversionary marionette theater. Should the politicians forget their lines and threaten the status quo, Wall Street floods the town with cash and lawyers to help the hired hands remember their own best interests. The executives of the financial giants even have de facto criminal immunity. On March 6, 2013, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder stated the following: "I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy." This, from the chief law enforcement officer of a justice system that has practically abolished the constitutional right to trial for poorer defendants charged with certain crimes. It is not too much to say that Wall Street may be the ultimate owner of the Deep State and its strategies, if for no other reason than that it has the money to reward government operatives with a second career that is lucrative beyond the dreams of avarice - certainly beyond the dreams of a salaried government employee. [3]

The corridor between Manhattan and Washington is a well trodden highway for the personalities we have all gotten to know in the period since the massive deregulation of Wall Street: Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, Henry Paulson, Timothy Geithner and many others. Not all the traffic involves persons connected with the purely financial operations of the government: In 2013, General David Petraeus joined KKR (formerly Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) of 9 West 57th Street, New York, a private equity firm with $62.3 billion in assets. KKR specializes in management buyouts and leveraged finance. General Petraeus' expertise in these areas is unclear. His ability to peddle influence, however, is a known and valued commodity. Unlike Cincinnatus, the military commanders of the Deep State do not take up the plow once they lay down the sword. Petraeus also obtained a sinecure as a non-resident senior fellow at theBelfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. The Ivy League is, of course, the preferred bleaching tub and charm school of the American oligarchy.

Lofgren goes on to say that Silicon Valley is a node of the Deep State too, and that despite the protestations of its chieftains against NSA spying, it's a vital part of the Deep State's apparatus. More:

The Deep State is the big story of our time. It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction. Washington is the headquarters of the Deep State, and its time in the sun as a rival to Rome, Constantinople or London may be term-limited by its overweening sense of self-importance and its habit, as Winwood Reade said of Rome, to "live upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face."

Read the whole thing. Steve Sailer says that the Shallow State is a complement to the Deep State. The Shallow State is, I think, another name for what the Neoreactionaries call "The Cathedral," defined thus:

The Cathedral - The self-organizing consensus of Progressives and Progressive ideology represented by the universities, the media, and the civil service. A term coined by blogger Mencius Moldbug. The Cathedral has no central administrator, but represents a consensus acting as a coherent group that condemns other ideologies as evil. Community writers have enumerated the platform of Progressivism as women's suffrage, prohibition, abolition, federal income tax, democratic election of senators, labor laws, desegregation, popularization of drugs, destruction of traditional sexual norms, ethnic studies courses in colleges, decolonization, and gay marriage. A defining feature of Progressivism is that "you believe that morality has been essentially solved, and all that's left is to work out the details." Reactionaries see Republicans as Progressives, just lagging 10-20 years behind Democrats in their adoption of Progressive norms.

You don't have to agree with the Neoreactionaries on what they condemn - women's suffrage? desegregation? labor laws? really?? - to acknowledge that they're onto something about the sacred consensus that all Right-Thinking People share. I would love to see a study comparing the press coverage from 9/11 leading up to the Iraq War with press coverage of the gay marriage issue from about 2006 till today. Specifically, I'd be curious to know about how thoroughly the media covered the cases against the policies that the Deep State and the Shallow State decided should prevail. I'm not suggesting a conspiracy here, not at all. I'm only thinking back to how it seemed so obvious to me in 2002 that we should go to war with Iraq, so perfectly clear that the only people who opposed it were fools or villains. The same consensus has emerged around same-sex marriage. I know how overwhelmingly the news media have believed this for some time, such that many American journalists simply cannot conceive that anyone against same-sex marriage is anything other than a fool or a villain. Again, this isn't a conspiracy; it's in the nature of the thing. Lofgren:

Cultural assimilation is partly a matter of what psychologist Irving L. Janis called "groupthink," the chameleon-like ability of people to adopt the views of their superiors and peers. This syndrome is endemic to Washington: The town is characterized by sudden fads, be it negotiating biennial budgeting, making grand bargains or invading countries. Then, after a while, all the town's cool kids drop those ideas as if they were radioactive. As in the military, everybody has to get on board with the mission, and questioning it is not a career-enhancing move. The universe of people who will critically examine the goings-on at the institutions they work for is always going to be a small one. As Upton Sinclair said, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

A more elusive aspect of cultural assimilation is the sheer dead weight of the ordinariness of it all once you have planted yourself in your office chair for the 10,000th time. Government life is typically not some vignette from an Allen Drury novel about intrigue under the Capitol dome. Sitting and staring at the clock on the off-white office wall when it's 11:00 in the evening and you are vowing never, ever to eat another piece of takeout pizza in your life is not an experience that summons the higher literary instincts of a would-be memoirist. After a while, a functionary of the state begins to hear things that, in another context, would be quite remarkable, or at least noteworthy, and yet that simply bounce off one's consciousness like pebbles off steel plate: "You mean the number of terrorist groups we are fighting is classified?" No wonder so few people are whistle-blowers, quite apart from the vicious retaliation whistle-blowing often provokes: Unless one is blessed with imagination and a fine sense of irony, growing immune to the curiousness of one's surroundings is easy. To paraphrase the inimitable Donald Rumsfeld, I didn't know all that I knew, at least until I had had a couple of years away from the government to reflect upon it.

When all you know is the people who surround you in your professional class bubble and your social circles, you can think the whole world agrees with you, or should. It's probably not a coincidence that the American media elite live, work, and socialize in New York and Washington, the two cities that were attacked on 9/11, and whose elites - political, military, financial - were so genuinely traumatized by the events.

Anyway, that's just a small part of it, about how the elite media manufacture consent. Here's a final quote, one from the Moyers interview with Lofgren:

BILL MOYERS: If, as you write, the ideology of the Deep State is not democrat or republican, not left or right, what is it?

MIKE LOFGREN: It's an ideology. I just don't think we've named it. It's a kind of corporatism. Now, the actors in this drama tend to steer clear of social issues. They pretend to be merrily neutral servants of the state, giving the best advice possible on national security or financial matters. But they hold a very deep ideology of the Washington consensus at home, which is deregulation, outsourcing, de-industrialization and financialization. And they believe in American exceptionalism abroad, which is boots on the ground everywhere, it's our right to meddle everywhere in the world. And the result of that is perpetual war.

This can't last. We'd better hope it can't last. And we'd better hope it unwinds peacefully.

I, for one, remain glad that so many of us Americans are armed. When the Deep State collapses - and it will one day - it's not going to be a happy time.

Questions to the room: Is a Gorbachev for the Deep State conceivable? That is, could you foresee a political leader emerging who could unwind the ideology and apparatus of the Deep State, and not only survive, but succeed? Or is it impossible for the Deep State to allow such a figure to thrive? Or is the Deep State, like the Soviet system Gorbachev failed to reform, too entrenched and too far gone to reform itself? If so, what then?

[Mar 24, 2015] Regime Change America's Failing Weapon Of International Deception

Zero Hedge
Authored by Ben Tanosborn,

For years, Winston Churchill's famous quote, "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried," has served as Americans' last word in any political discussion which requires validation of the US government, no matter how corrupt or flawed in its behavior, as the best in the planet, comparatively or by default. Never mind the meaning that Mr. Churchill had intended back in 1947, or how the international political panorama has changed during the past seven decades.

These remarks were made by Britain's prime minister before the House of Commons a few months before there was a changing of the guards in the "Anglo-Saxon Empire" as the Brits gave away their colonial hegemony in favor of the super-influential economic and military power represented by the United States. And that was symbolically marked by Britain's relinquishing its mandate in Palestine, and the creation of Israel.

Such reference to democracy in the quote, explicitly defining it as a "government by the people," basically applied to Britain and the United States at the close of World War II; but such condition has deteriorated in the US to the point where the "common people" no longer have a say as to how the nation is run, either directly or through politicians elected with financial support provided by special interests, undoubtedly expecting their loyalty-vote. Yet, while this un-democratization period in our system of government was happening, there were many nations that were adopting a true code of democracy, their citizens having a greater say as to how their countries are governed. Recognizing such occurrence, however, is a seditious sin for an American mind still poisoned by the culture of exceptionalism and false pride in which it has been brainwashed.

And that's where our empire, or sphere of influence, stands these days… fighting the windmills of the world, giants that we see menacing "American interests," and doing it under the banner of "for democracy and human rights." Such lofty empire aims appear to rationalize an obscene military budget almost twice as large as those of Russia, China, India and United Kingdom combined! Americans, representing less than 5 percent of the world's population, are footing a military bill almost twice as large as that expended by half of the world's population. If that isn't imperialistic and obscene, it's difficult to image what other societal behavior could be more detrimental to peace and harmony in this global village where we all try to co-exist.

Empires and global powers of the past most often resorted to deposing of antagonistic foreign rulers by invading their countries and installing amicable/subservient puppet rulers. The United States and the United Kingdom, perhaps trying to find refuge, or an excuse, in their democratic tradition, have resorted to regime change "manipulations" to deal with adversary governments-nations. [Bush43's Iraq invasion stands as a critical exception by a mongrel government: half-criminal (Dick Cheney-as mentor), and half-moronic (George W. Bush-as mentee).]

Regime change has served the United States well throughout much of the Americas from time immemorial; an endless litany of dictators attesting to shameless in-your-face puppetry… manipulations taking the form of sheer military force, or the fear of such force; bribery of those in power, or about to attain power – usually via military coup; or the promise of help from the Giant of the North (US) in improving economic growth, education and health. Kennedy's 1961 Alliance for Progress proved to be more political-PR than an honest, effective effort to help the people in Latin America… such program becoming stale and passé in Washington by decade's end; the focus shifting in a feverish attempt to counter the efforts by Castro's Cuba to awaken the revolutionary spirit of sister republics in Central and South America (Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua…).

After almost two centuries of political and economic meddling in Latin America under the Monroe Doctrine (1823) banner, much of it involving regime change, the US is finally coming to terms with the reality that its influence has not just waned but disappeared. Not just in nations which may have adopted socialist politics, but other nations as well. US' recent attempt to get other regional republics to label Venezuela (Maduro's leftist government) as a security threat not only met with opposition from the twelve-country Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) but has brought in the end of an era. It's now highly unlikely that secretive efforts by the CIA to effect regime change in Latin America will find support; certainly not the support it had in the past.

To Washington's despair, similar results, if for other reasons, are happening throughout North Africa and the extended Middle East; certainly not the results the US had hoped for or anticipated from the revolutionary wave in the Arab Spring, now entering its fifth year. It is no longer the flow of oil that keeps Washington committed to a very strong presence in the Middle East. It is America's Siamese relationship with Israel.

But if regime change is no longer an effective weapon for the US in Latin America or the Middle East, the hope is still high that it might work in Eastern Europe, as America keeps corralling Russian defenses to within a holler of American missilery. Ukraine's year-old regime change is possibly the last hurrah in US-instigated regime changes… and it is still too early to determine its success; the US counting on its front-line European NATO partners to absorb the recoil in terms of both the economy and a confrontational status now replacing prior smooth relations.

Somehow it is difficult to envision an outcome taking place in Ukraine which would allow the United States a foothold at the very doorsteps of Russia; something totally as inconceivable as if China or Russia were contemplating establishing military bases in Mexico or any part of Central America or the Caribbean.

The era of using regime change as a weapon of mass deception may have already ended for the United States of America… and hopefully for the entire world.

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 22:46 | 5920475 JustObserving

America has always lied itself to war - few believe US lies now. Obama almost lied his way to a war with Syria about sarin:

Lies: An Abbreviated History of U.S. Presidents Leading Us to War

8. Vietnam (Kennedy, Johnson, 1964) -- Lies: Johnson said Vietnam attacked our ships in the Gulf of Tonkin in August, 1964.Truth: The US didn't want to lose the southeast Asia region, and its oil and sea lanes, to China. This "attack" was convenient. Kennedy initiated the first major increase in US troops (over 500).

9. Gulf War (G.H.W. Bush, 1991) -- Lies: To defend Kuwait from Iraq. Truth: Saddam was a threat to Israel, and we wanted his oil and land for bases.

10. Balkans (Clinton, 1999) -- Lies: Prevent Serb killing of Bosnians. Truth: Get the Chinese out of Eastern Europe (remember the "accidental" bombing of their embassy in Belgrade?) so they could not get control of the oil in the Caspian region and Eastward. Control land for bases such as our huge Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, and for the proposed Trans-Balkan Oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea area to the Albanian port of Valona on the Adriatic Sea.

11. Afghan (G.W. Bush, 2001) -- Lies: The Taliban were hiding Osama. Truth: To build a gas/oil pipeline from Turkmenistan and other northern 'xxstan' countries to a warm water (all year) port in the Arabian Sea near Karachi (same reason the Russians were there), plus land for bases.

12. Iraq (G.W. Bush, 2003) -- Lies: Stop use of WMDs -- whoops, bring Democracy, or whatever.Truth: Oil, defense of Israel, land for permanent bases (we were kicked out of Saudi Arabia) to manage the greater Middle East, restore oil sales in USD (Saddam had changed to Euros)

Lies and Consequences in Our Past 15 Wars

gdogus erectus

Even articles like this erroneously refer to the US as a democracy. WTF. The programming runs deep.

"A republic...if you can keep it."


Very poorly written article. Better to say that Andy Jackson was about the last bad ass to fight of the banksters and die a natural death, then Salmon Chase and his buddies passed the legal tender laws, and shortly thereafter (or possibly before) London dispatched the Fabian socialists with their patient gradualism. We were firmly back under the yoke of London banking cartel come 1913. And you are correct, a republic is an EXTREMELY limited form of democracy (not truly akin to traditional 51% takes it democratic concepts at all). The elected leader's function was supposed to be to guard the principles of the Constitution and the limited Republic, and history will remember that, despite this cruft of an article.

In the eyes of many who founded this nation, it was only a stepping stone to a global government, the new Rome - but the new Rome will be the UN with a global bank, and the multinational corporations holding court, and then the end come.

Then again, I may be wrong.

negative rates

What passes for gvt is silly these days, we are a legend in our own minds.


"Governments would become political churches"

Like in the Middle East? And you will counter by saying that people are forced to live under those governments and, yet, thousands are freely going there from around the world to join ISIS.

Otherwise, such a system would work right up until one government church decided there wasn't enough room in the area for competitors (probably within a year, maybe six months). Let the political/religious tribal wars begin.


Bankers couldn't be banksters without government.

Maybe it's the monopoly of force thingy you don't understand.


[Mar 21, 2015] The Anatomy of Fascism by Robert O. Paxton

After Israeli elections and Ukrainian coup d'état the key question is "to what extent [...] the contemporary right [is] linked to classical fascism". And the picture is complex. As one reviewer of the book Fascism and Neofascism Critical Writings on the Radical Right in Europe noted "contrary to common perception, the Nazi movement was not repressive towards sex. In fact, it sneered at Christian morality much the same way that modern libertines and leftists do, and favored both premarital and extramarital sex. Attempts were made to discredit the Catholic Church by accusing priests in general of being homosexuals (sound familiar?). Much as modern feminists and other humanists, the Nazis accused Christianity of having a dislike for the human body and for showing disrespect towards women. This was supposed to be a carryover of "the Oriental attitude towards women." Similarly hate toward particular ethnic or racial group was never absolute: Among Nazi Germany fascist brass there were notable number of Jews. Also Italian fascism was quite different from German as well as the level of Social Darwinism adopted.
Neofascism movement share with classic fascism the belief in the necessary of hierarchical (authoritarian) world with the dominant and subordinate groups, as well as ethos of masculine violence. It is deeply rooted in European culture with and as Adorno noted that "totality" is a mode of domination that lies implicit in the Enlightenment drive to de-mythologize the world. In this sense "totalitarism" in not unique to fascism and communism but also is inherent in "consumer capitalism", which, as such, represent a potent background for emerging neofascist groups and movements. Fascist myths were the means of constituting identity and as such not tat different form mass advertizing . That also entails deep similarities of Hollywood and Nazi films. At the same time, new radical right movement and groups are clearly distinct from fascist of the past. While fascism emerged partially as a reaction to brutalities and injustices of WWI, new radical right is in large part the result of unease with the neoliberalism. Several members of Western European far right groups fight in Donbass with Donbass militia as they consider Kiev junta to be Washington puppets promoting its globalization agenda. At the same time several members of white supremacist groups fight with Kiev junta para-military formations (death squads) which openly brandish Nazi symbols.
Neofascist movements are using "invented historical context" or myths as a powerful means for making sense of human differences and organizing societies. Nationalism, based on however fictive consent of national identity, is powerful mean of organizing the society along of axis of domination and subordination, inclusion and exclusion. Racism and nationalism while not the same things are closely linked together. In a sense any political system that operate on the base of nationality of race is a neofascism in its essence. that includes Israel and Baltic states. In this sense neither the USA nor Russia can be classified as neofascist regimes became they do not adhere to the concept of "ingenious nationality" or white race supremacy. That does not exclude existence of groups that adhere to this mythology.
It is extremely interesting those football fans, skinheads and hooligans, who often utilized the gesture of rebellition against the society to trigger predictable outrage against the general population were mobilized during EuroMaydan events. Behaviors once deemed antisocial and vandalistic were harnessed in the service of the nationalist discourse and the they served as a part of storm troopers for the coup of February 22, 2014. Ultimately like in Serbia before unruly football hooligans were recruited into paramilitary formations that played important role in civil was in Donbass (like Serbia paramilitary formation in wars of Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo) and committed the most horrendous crimes against civil population. .
Ukrainian events definitely correlated with disillusionment of the neoliberalism in specific form of crony capitalism of Yanukovich regime. In a way marginalization of extreme right from 1945 to 1991 was more exception the a rule Western societies, especially European, tend to generate powerful extreme right movements. In a few states neofascist have chances of coming to power (Ukraine is actually is not a good example as events here were externally driven).

Panopticonman on May 1, 2004

Whose Reich Is It Anyway?

The Marquis de Morés, returning to 1890s Paris after his cattle ranching venture in North Dakota failed, recruited a gang of men from the Parisian cattle yards as muscle for his "national socialism" project -- a term Paxton credits Morés' contemporary Maurice Barres, a French nationalist author, with coining. Morés' project was potent and prophetic: his national socialism was a mixture of anti-capitalism and anti-Semitism. He clothed his men in what must have been the first fascist uniform in Europe -- ten-gallon hats and cowboy garb, frontier clothes he'd taken a shine to in the American West. (Author Paxton suggests the first ever fascist get-up was the KKKs white sheet and pointy hat). Morés killed a French Jewish officer in a duel during the Dreyfus affair and later was killed in the Sahara by his guides during his quest to unite France to Islam to Spain.

Morés had earlier proclaimed: "Life is valuable only through action. So much the worse if the action is mortal."

Here assembled together are all of the elements of what Paxton would classify as first stage fascism: "the creation of a movement." Most fascist movements stall in this first stage he notes -- think, for instance, of the skinheads, the American Nazi Party and Posse Comitatus.

Paxton's other stages are

  1. the rooting of the movement in the political system;
  2. the seizure of power;
  3. the exercise of power; and
  4. the duration of power, during which the regime chooses either radicalization or entropy.

He notes that although each stage

"is a prerequisite for the next, nothing requires a fascist movement to complete all of them, or even to move in only one direction. The five stages permit plausible comparison between movements and regimes at equivalent degrees of development. It helps us see that fascism, far from static, was a succession of processes and choices: seeking a following, forming alliances, bidding for power, then exercising it. That is why the conceptual tools that illuminate one stage may not necessarily work equally well for others." pg. 23.

Paxton also tentatively offers a definition of fascism, but only after tracing the rise of various movements from their beginnings in the 19th century through the present day. Other historians and philosophers, he suggests, have written brilliantly on fascism, but have failed to recognize that their analyses apply to only one stage or another. He also notes that often definitions of fascism are based on fascist writings; he maintains that fascist writings while valuable were often written as justification for the seizure of power, or the attempted seizure, and that what fascists actually did and do is more critical to understanding these movements. Indeed, the language of fascism has changed little since the days of the Marquis De Mores.

He hesitates in offering both his definition and his analytical stages, saying that he knows by doing so he risks falling into the nominalism of the "bestiary." He demonstrates that this is a common failing of definitions of fascism which are often incomplete or muddled as they typically describe only one or two typically late stages.

Other historians, for instance, split fascism into Nazism or Italian fascism, avoiding the problem of understanding their common elements by concentrating on their differences, insisting that they are incommensurable. Finally in the last pages, Paxton offers up this fairly comprehensive and useful definition:

"Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion."

Paxton is particularly strong in showing how the circumstances in post WWI Germany and Italy -- the demobilized mobs of young soldiers, sent to war by elites who had no conception of the destruction and suffering they had unleashed upon the younger generation -- were ripe for fascism's appeals. For many, liberalism, conservatism and socialism all seemed equally complicit in the crack-up of Europe in the Great War. Fascism, rising from the ashes, employed the socialistic tools of mass marches, the military techniques of terror learned in the war, and as they gained power, the new tools of mass communication and propaganda developed in the US during WWI.

Fascists also reacted astutely to public discomfort toward the mass migrations from southern and eastern Europe coming in the wake of political and economic distress in those regions, using that fear to increase their power through scapegoating and its attendant rhetoric of purity.

Fascism is both charged and blurry word these days, used by both the left and the right to assail their critics and enemies.

The Nazi remains the evildoer par excellence in popular and political culture, invoked for a thrill of fear or the disciplinary scare or emotional incitement. In this masterful synthesis of writings in politics, history, philosophy and sociology, Paxton untangles the vast literature fascism has generated, establishes some essential ground rules for coming to grips with its many expressions, stages, and manifestations, and clears a space for further, better focused research.

Although academic in its orientation, it is well and clearly written. Finally, for the reader who is not familiar with modern European history, it is a very useful and informative text as it takes into its scope by necessity much of European and American history over the past one hundred years. Absolutely required reading.

[Mar 17, 2015] Top Google executive predicts end of the internet

Mar 17, 2015 | RT News

However, a group of Harvard professors depicted a much more grim Orwellian world, AFP reported on Thursday.

"Privacy as we knew it in the past is no longer feasible... How we conventionally think of privacy is dead," said Margo Seltzer, a professor in computer science at Harvard University.

Sophia Roosth, a Harvard's genetics researcher, said: "It's not whether this is going to happen, it's already happening... We live in a surveillance state today."

Depicting a terrifying world, where mosquito-sized robots fly around stealing samples of people's DNA, she said, "We are at the dawn of the age of genetic McCarthyism," referring to "witch-hunts" during Second Red Scare in the 1950s in America.

Goedelite Kurt 5 hours ago

Yoni D
Just like 50 years ago people couldn't always afford a tv but now everyone does. The expensive today is trash...

Take 50 from 2015: 1965. I was 33yo then. As I recall, that was just about the high point of the middle-class in the US, before the inflation caused by the US aggression in southeast Asia hit us. Almost everyone who had a job - and unemployment was low - could afford a TV. Not only could they afford it, but I believe it offered viewers far better entertainment and journalism. I don't own a TV today, because mainstream TV news is untrustworthy.

Eric Blair 18.02 17:48

Eric Schmidt is not even close on this call. Go back and reread what he said about:

"so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won't even sense it, it will be part of your presence all the time," he explained. "Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room."

No one will be able to afford this technical world that he is describing, and which in some degree is coming, but not to every man.

The system is headed to a cashless system where you will be compelled to trade the time in your life to multinational corporations, that will offer you something on the line of "Employee Purchasing Compacts" in lieu of compensation, which enable you to select a list of corporations that are bundled, with fixed prices, for the duration of your term contract. This is how you will be compensated and enslaved to the plutocracy.

You will be able to select from categories that include food, clothing, automobiles, electronics, goods and services. You will be locked into term contracts for the benefit of the corporations and controlled supply and demand.

This is what is being heralded as "Austerity". Each man and woman will only be able to purchase those things which they can afford. So, Schmidt is way off on this one~

Samanta Power

The internet will disappear but the net (NSA) will remain.

0040 14.02 21:50

I think the Harvard guys have it right. The computer, Internet, and cell phone age has done nothing positive for humanity. With the worlds economic and political systems all being neo-liberal and capitalistic, these devices are used to manipulate people for profits and taxes of a sort and on a scale not possible without them. It also puts all a countries infrastructure and resources into the hands of the few.

The World As It Is Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress by Chris Hedges Customer Reviews

ronbc (Vancouver, BC) - See all my reviews

Powerful, damning, and more than a little sad, November 27, 2014

This review is from: The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress (Kindle Edition)

At the beginning of "The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress," Chris Hedges suggests that he is no longer really a journalist - now, he's more of a minister, trying to lead his flock down the paths of righteousness. It's in this spirit that Hedges, a Harvard divinity grad before he gave up organized religion, titles one of his essays "War Is Sin."

Hedges's tone is a mixture of anguish and anger, and his acerbic prose takes no prisoners. His style may be unattractive, even unsettling, but I can find no fault with his main arguments. His is a voice of truth in a wilderness of spin, and I wish that it weren't so.

Here's his assessment of Barack Obama, the candidate of change who became the president of the status quo:

"The American empire has not altered under Barack Obama. It kills as brutally and indiscriminately ... It steals from the U.S. Treasury to enrich the corporate elite as rapaciously. It will not give us universal health care, abolish the Bush secrecy laws, end torture or "extraordinary rendition," restore habeas corpus, or halt the warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of citizens. It will not push through significant environmental reform, regulate Wall Street, or end our relationship with private contractors that provide mercenary armies to fight our imperial wars and produce useless and costly weapons systems."

It's hard to disagree with this appraisal, and Obama is just one of the targets in Hedges's sights. Obama doesn't get anything close to the most space in the book - that "honour" is reserved for the government of Israel and its oppression of the Arab peoples of Palestine.

Hedges calls himself a socialist, a term that has quickly become almost quaint, tinged with a flavour of musty and archaic rationalism. He writes that "we must articulate and stand behind a viable and uncompromising socialism, one that is firmly and unequivocally on the side of working men and women."

Hedges is a journalist, and it's in this context that he blasts the mainstream media for retreating from their moral responsibility to tell the truth into their present stance as "recorders" of scripted and spun events. Hedges expresses his disdain for the bankrupt "objectivity" ethic of the press with a vehemence that is typical of his prose: "The tragedy is that the moral void of the news business contributed as much to its own annihilation as the protofascists who feed on its carcass."


"The corporate forces that destroyed the country wil use the information systems they control to mask their culpability. The old game of blaming the weak and the marginal, a staple of despotic regimes, will empower the dark undercurrents of sadism and violence in American society and deflect attention from the corporate vampires who have drained the blood of the country."

In an echo of his previous book "The Death of the Liberal Class," Hedges describes liberals, and specifically the Democratic Party which is their political home, as a spent force that "prefers comfort to confrontation. "

Hedges writes: "It will not challenge the decaying structures of the corporate state. It is intolerant within its ranks of those who do. It clings pathetically to the carcass of the Obama presidency. It has been exposed as a dead force in American politics."

What, if anything, can be done? Hedges is not hopeful, but he is clear about the nature of the solution:

"If the hegemony of the corporate state is not soon broken, we will descend into a technologically enhanced age of barbarism."

Hedges cites Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, in Hedges's version of the typical postcolonialist indictment of the Enlightenment. This is a most appropriate citation, for in The World As It Is, it is very clear that Chris Hedges, for one, has seen "the horror."

The horror for Hedges is the reality of war. That he has been changed, and forever scarred, by his years as a war correspondent is clear in his scorn for the official memorials to the honoured dead:

"War memorials and museums are temples to the god of war. The hushed voices, the well-tended grass, the flapping of the flags allow us to ignore how and why our young died. They hide the futility and waste of war. "

Hedges's compulsion to cut through the glorification and the censorship and instead to write the truth keeps him writing.

He may have little hope for himself, as the rage and bitterness with which he writes make clear, yet, as he says in the dedication, he must seek the solutions to our problems, for it is his three children "whose joy and laughter save me from despair and for whom I must always hope."

[Mar 10, 2015] The 17 Elements Of Martial Law

Mar 09, 2015 |

The term "Martial Law" is thrown around with reckless disregard. "Is America under martial law?" is a question that is often discussed in the Independent Media.

Martial law occurs when the prevailing regime feels threatened by the message being offered by the loyal opposition. When normal means of censorship and marginalization fail, despotic regimes resort to martial law with all intended brutality of a violent crackdown on all of those being perceived as the "enemy".

Seventeen Martial Law Characteristics

Most experts agree that hard core martial contains the following 17 essential elements:

1-Mass roundup and/or execution of political dissidents

2-Dusk to dawn curfews

3-Rationing of essential resources

4-The seizing of personal assets such as food and water

5-Control over all food and water

6-The prohibition of weapons of any kind including guns, knives or chemicals which can be turned into explosives

7-The confiscation of property, homes and businesses

8-Arrests without due process

9-Massive "papers please" checkpoints with intrusive searches

10-Forced relocation

11-Forced conscription into various labor camps and even into the military

12-Outlawing of free speech

13-The installation of massive surveillance programs and the establishment of snitch programs

14-The total control or elimination of religion

15-Control of the media

16-Executions without due process of law

17-Total suspension of the Constitution

Just how many of these intrusive government policies are in place in the following video?

[Feb 21, 2015] The Chicago police used appalling military interrogation tactics for decades by Tracy Siska

Even Chicago police is kept by Guardian to higher standard then Kiev junta.
Feb 21, 2015 |

The Chicago police department has promised for more than a century to eliminate torture from its interrogation rooms. For more than a century, the Chicago police department has failed to deliver on that promise.

The latest shameful episode is the tale of Richard Zuley, a police officer who brought the tactics he learned in Chicago to Guantánamo Bay and back again, as reported by The Guardian.

Sadly, there is a precedent for Zuley.

For example, in a 2000 case that resulted in a successful federal civil rights lawsuit, a Latino teenager was held for four days chained to a wall in an interrogation room, where he was not only questioned repeatedly, but denied bathroom access and left to soil himself. During the boy's civil rights trial, officers could only prove that they fed him once during the four days. The teen eventually confessed to a murder he did not commit. After he spent just a few weeks in jail, another suspect was arrested with the murder weapon and confessed shortly after his arrest. How many others locked up have not been so fortunate?

Most infamously, there is highly decorated Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge who, during his 23-year tenure on the force from 1970 to 1993, used the techniques he learned from interrogating the Vietcong as a military policeman in Vietnam on black suspects in Chicago. These techniques included Russian roulette with pistols and shotguns, burning suspects on radiators, suffocation with typewriter covers, beatings with phone books and electric shocks to the ears, nose, fingers, and testicles.

Burge was a fast-rising and well-respected officer who operated with impunity; neither his colleagues nor his supervisors blew the whistle. Neither did prosecutors or officials in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. Instead, Burge was accorded hero status – until community activists, public interest lawyers and one lonely journalist at the city's weekly exposed his horrid behavior what it really was: unacceptable.

Once public pressure mounted – and only then – Burge was finally fired in 1993, accused of torturing confessions out of what is believed to be more than 100 African American men. He was not, however, without his defenders: at the time of his firing, the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, the largest union representing officers, attempted to run a float honoring Burge in the Chicago's St Patrick's Day parade. And it wasn't until 2006 that a special prosecutor was appointed to examine Burge's record and determine if a criminal case could be brought against him. (Only a perjury charge stuck.)

The relationship between communities of color in Chicago and the Chicago Police Department hasn't recovered from Burge's abuses. Residents remain wary, while the police remain largely unapologetic. Today, the Chicago Police Department's tactics – known as "touchless torture" – are less horrific but still abusive.

These new methods focus more on sensory deprivation and isolation to wear down a suspect – sometimes with the same result: false confessions. Because these methods do not leave marks, it is much harder for judges and juries to understand just how coercive they are.

A series of US supreme court cases over the last century have codified the rights that are supposed to protect suspects under our system. Sadly, those rights still mean next to nothing in Chicago interrogation rooms, which still bear too much resemblance to those in Guantánamo – and those from the now-distant past of Vietnam.

The way forward requires reform on a system's level – not at an individual case level. The use of these types of tactics is not a bad apple issue, but rather about a rotten-to-the-core system that turns a blind eye to massive civil rights violations because the system benefits from those civil rights violations. About 90% of all criminal cases in America result in a plea bargain, which makes any given confession so much more powerful than it would normally be and thus that more desirable to obtain. Sadly prosecutors who have a constitutional obligation to be a check on coercive police practices fail in their obligations in America because there is an institutional incentive for them to ignore civil rights violations and push for plea bargains using the coerced confessions.

Any meaningful reform starts with educating juries about the coerciveness of the interrogation room and the tactics used to extract confessions; after that, judges must live up to their responsibilities and deny plea bargains in case in which the only evidence is a confession. While hardly a cure-all, these two massive reforms of legal procedure could help remove the institutional incentives for those working for the system to obtain and use coerced confessions.

lostalien -> ExcaliburDefender 21 Feb 2015 09:55

The problem is most people can't afford to lawyer up, and the public defenders are over worked and don't always have clients best interest at heart. Our sytem of justice is for the rich.

ExcaliburDefender -> mfloydhall 20 Feb 2015 16:44

mfloydhall, you wrote "......... who are the likely perps."

Just want to understand a bit more about the use of the word 'PERP'. See a few that use it often, generally by those in support of police activities.

The only time I hear the word 'PERP' is on tv. Have never heard police use it when interviewed on events, nor I have heard actual police officers ever use this word when communicating with the public. Did use to work in a city ed/trauma unit, had loads of interaction with city police, 'PERP' was never uttered.

Just curious if you would care to comment.

Williamthewriter 20 Feb 2015 13:04

What goes for Chicago also goes for most American cities. Beating confessions out of suspects has throughout our history been just as much an art form in America as it was in Stalin's Russia and Hitler's Germany. The violence is only the most visual aspect of a corrupt system that has had the police often working in tandem with organized crime and running protection and kickback schemes of their own, not to mention the sexual favors expected from prostitutes if they wished to remain in business.

The two NYPD officers who were recently found guilty of moonlighting as hit-men for the mob is only the tip of the iceberg. Has anyone forgotten how America's Cop - Bernie Kerik - the right hand man of America's Mayor was convicted of corruption and sent to prison for four years not long after his name was put forward by his powerful friends to be the first head of Homeland Security?

The recent disrespect shown to the elected mayor of NYC or daring to criticize the police tactics that resulted in the death of Mr. Garner shows both how powerful and how perverse the police in this nation are.

imipak -> mfloydhall 20 Feb 2015 07:50

No, you want a police force that works, that's trusted, that does its job.

In the end, it's about real risk, not imagined risk. You can do nothing about fantasies. Real risk goes down when real criminals are caught and when real trust is high. Real risk goes up when real criminals are left on the streets and the innocent are tortured.

Real risk is the real concern of real businesses and real families.

imipak -> James Girod 20 Feb 2015 07:46

Ah, but Darth Vader helped people cross the road safely.

imipak -> mfloydhall 20 Feb 2015 07:45

People can want all they like. Democracy doesn't extend to voting on police tactics and can never be extended to voting on what tactics work.

Harsh tactics are a fail. Unequivocally. They can never succeed. They are doomed, as are all citizens under such a regime. Who the hell cares if the citizens want harsh? It's worse than no police at all. If you want to live in real gangster time, don't go asking city hall for the gangsters. It's not their job.

Give each city a referendum - mature, responsible, effective policing at cost, or no policing at all. No other options. If a city chooses the latter, order a compulsory evacuation of all medical staff and emergency services, seal the roads and rerun the referendum 6 months later. If they still say no, you've got those extra staff for places that want them. The city shouldn't get what the city doesn't want or need.

Police tactics should be tightly regulated, with clear and distinct consequences for failure.

If a cop is shown to have been involved in torture, all cases that cop was involved in are tainted and all convictions unsafe and unsatisfactory. No exceptions. It is better to let ten guilty people go free than to allow one innocent person to be convicted.

If a police unit is shown to have tolerated any corruption in its ranks, shut it down and fire the lot. No exceptions, no excuses.

To go along with that, confessions and eyewitness testimony do not belong in a court room. Evidence or bust.

Police divisions should pay out of pocket for wrongful convictions, at mean wage rates for white collar work. They should be on fixed budgets and fixed wages, no bonuses for clean-up rates just severe penalties for fraud and incompetence.

Police are not paramilitary units. They should not be equipt as such or trained as such. They maintain peace, not war.

Training should reflect the expected high standards - and they should be very high standards indeed - with pay and conditions reflecting the fact that it takes the best to be the best.

(High expectations cuts both ways. If you're going to demand high levels of integrity, a civil attitude and competence in the field, expect to pay for it. These things aren't free to acquire and aren't cheap to maintain. Ammunition is cheap. You get what you pay for, so pay for what you want to get.)

AlexeiK 20 Feb 2015 01:43

More generally, juries need to be given instructions dealing with a range of issues that well-meaning but unprepared citizens are likely to get wrong. New Jersey, for example, now requires juries to be instructed on eyewitness identification.

Any meaningful reform starts with educating juries about the coerciveness of the interrogation room and the tactics used to extract confessions; after that, judges must live up to their responsibilities and deny plea bargains in case in which the only evidence is a confession.

There are already proposals to require that interrogations be videotaped, but it is extremely important that juries watch these tapes in their entirety. If a cop keeps a suspect chained to a radiator for hours and then the suspect "confesses" and the jury only gets to see a three-minute clip of the confession, it just won't do. But that's what happened in the Adrian Thomas case in NY (the man was eventually acquitted in a retrial).

consciouslyinformed 19 Feb 2015 16:17

Spencer Ackerman's piece, about Lathierial Boyd, which included a video, about three minutes in length, left me holding back sobs, as I listened to his account, of how he was set up by this cop, for a bogus indictment against Lathierial, for an eighty-two year sentence, of which, he served twenty-three years. He was innocent! It is appalling. It needs to have this cop, along with every other who have taken away the lives of our black brothers and sisters, in prison for the rest of their miserable lives.

elaine layabout 19 Feb 2015 15:29

Chicago residents have shelled out nearly half a BILLION dollars over the past decade, spending $84.6 million last year alone, to "compensate" the victims of police abuse. Those monies, however, do nothing to address the costs of citizens being afraid to seek help from or cooperate with police.

Meanwhile, the City closes schools in the most victimized neighborhoods, cuts services for all, and our unrepaired, weather-ravaged streets look like they've been hit by cluster bombs. (But don't fret, tourists! The bulk of our infrastructure revenue goes to keeping corporate-centric Downtown, toney Lincoln Park, and the museum campus that we riffraff cannot afford to enjoy looking spiffy!)

Perhaps it's time that City and PD decision makers foot this bill, as well as the criminal cops. Then maybe these horrible practices will come to an end and we can begin to make this city liveable for all, not just the wealthy and well-connected.

Tags: Corporatism : Guardian

[Jan 11, 2015] Anti-torture activists protest on Dick Cheney's front porch, 2 arrested

January 11, 2015 | RT USA

​About 20 protesters made their way onto the property of the former vice president's Virginia home, where they protested the 14th anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

Activists from the anti-war group CODEPINK and Witness Against Torture, many of them wearing military-issued orange jumpsuits, broke through an iron gate surrounding the former vice president's sprawling property in McLean, Virginia, and demonstrated on his front porch.

Fairfax County Police soon arrived on the scene and escorted the protesters, some of them chanting "arrest Dick Cheney," off the property.

Two protesters who refused to leave the premises were arrested on trespassing charges, police spokesman Roger Henriquez said, Reuters reported.

Police identified the pair as Tighe Barry, 57, and Eve Tetaz, 83, both from the Washington DC area. The two face misdemeanor charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct, police said.

The demonstrators carried signs that read: "Torturer lives here" and "Stop torture now" and "Close Guantanamo Bay".

Earlier, the group staged a demonstration outside the home of CIA Director John Brennan, who also lives in McLean, Virginia. None of the activists were arrested in that protest.

The protests come one month after the Senate Intelligence Committee released its so-called "torture report" that revealed how the CIA allegedly misled the White House and Congress over the brutality of its "enhanced interrogation techniques" –a military euphemism for torture.

Cheney expressed no remorse over the cruel accounts of torture techniques performed by the CIA at various foreign "black sites" as described in the Senate Intelligence Committee's lengthy investigation.

"I'd do it again in a minute," Cheney told Meet the Press's Chuck Todd last month.

This was not the first time Cheney took to the airwaves to express his support of the controversial methods in gaining intelligence, as well as his wish to keep Gitmo open for business.

When Barack Obama attempted in the early days of his presidency to close Guantanamo, as he had pledged to do on the campaign trail, Cheney was suddenly ubiquitous on the news channels, demanding that Gitmo remain open and the prisoners – many of whom are innocent of any wrongdoing – appear before a secret military tribunal as opposed to a civil trial on US territory.

Cheney, despite basement ratings in opinion polls when he exited office, eventually got his way and today 127 detainees are still held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

[Dec 13, 2014] William Binney– former NSA Technical Director-- signs AE911Truth petition

In this interview he talks about why he signed the petition, the NSA's spying program, and offers some words of advice to the 9/11 Truth movement on how to pursue justice through official channels.

William Binney is a former highly placed intelligence official with the United States National Security Agency (NSA) who, after more than 30 years of service, resigned in 2001 and became a whistleblower exposing the NSA's unconstitutional programs. He is also a recent signatory of AE911Truth's petition calling for a new investigation into the destruction of the Twin Towers and WTC 7 on 9/11.

In this interview he talks about why he signed the petition, the NSA's spying program, and offers some words of advice to the 9/11 Truth movement on how to pursue justice through official channels.

[Dec 12, 2014] Torture and the Violence of Organized Forgetting by HENRY GIROUX

Neoliberal regime is a brand of corporatism. And terror against opponents is a feature of corporatism as asocial system. So nothing very surprising here. "The war on terror had now reduced governance in the United States to a legalized apparatus of terror that mimicked the very violence it was meant to combat." ... "Neoliberalism has created a society of monsters for whom pain and suffering are viewed as entertainment or deserving of scorn, warfare is a permanent state of existence, torture becomes a matter of expediency, and militarism is celebrated as the most powerful mediator of human relationships."
Dec 12, 2014 |

The maiming and breaking of bodies and the forms of unimaginable pain inflicted by the Bush administration on so-called "enemy combatants" was no longer seen in violation of either international human rights or a constitutional commitment to democratic ideals. The war on terror had now reduced governance in the United States to a legalized apparatus of terror that mimicked the very violence it was meant to combat. In the aftermath of 9/11, under the leadership of Bush and his close neoconservative band of merry criminal advisors, justice took a leave of absence and the "gloves came off." As Mark Danner states, "the United States transformed itself from a country that, officially at least, condemned torture to a country that practised it."[13] But it did more. Under the Bush-Cheney reign of power, torture was embraced in unprecedented ways through a no holds-barred approach to the war on terror that suggested the administration's need to exhibit a kind of ethical and psychic hardening-a hyper-masculine, emotional callousness that expressed itself in a warped militaristic mind-set fueled by a high testosterone quotient. State secrecy and war crimes now became the only tributes now paid to democracy.

... ... ...

Waterboarding, which has been condemned by democracies all over the world, consists of the individual being "bound securely to an inclined bench, which is approximately four feet by seven feet. The individual's feet are generally elevated. A cloth is placed over the forehead and eyes. Water is then applied to the cloth in a controlled manner [and] produces the perception of 'suffocation and incipient panic.'"[18] The highly detailed, amoral nature in which these abuses were first defined and endorsed by lawyers from the Office of Legal Council was not only chilling but also reminiscent of the harsh and ethically deprived instrumentalism used by those technicians of death in criminal states such as Nazi Germany.

Andy Worthington suggests that there is more than a hint of brutalization and dehumanization in the language used by the OLC's Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Steven G. Bradbury, who wrote a detailed memo recommending:

"nudity, dietary manipulation and sleep deprivation"-now revealed explicitly as not just keeping a prisoner awake, but hanging him, naked except for a diaper, by a chain attached to shackles around his wrists-[as,] essentially, techniques that produce insignificant and transient discomfort. We are, for example, breezily told that caloric intake "will always be set at or above 1,000 kcal/day," and are encouraged to compare this enforced starvation with "several commercial weight-loss programs in the United States which involve similar or even greater reductions in calorific intake" … and when it comes to waterboarding, Bradbury clinically confirms that it can be used 12 times a day over five days in a period of a month-a total of 60 times for a technique that is so horrible that one application is supposed to have even the most hardened terrorist literally gagging to tell all.[19]

... ... ...

In spite of the appalling evidence presented by the report, members s of the old Bush crowd, including former Vice-President Cheney, former CIA directors, George J. Tenet and Michael V. Hayden, and an endless number of prominent Republican Party politicians are still defending their use of torture or, as they euphemistically contend, "enhanced interrogation techniques." The psychopathic undercurrent and the authoritarian impulse of such reactions finds its most instructive expression in former Bush communications chief Nicolle Wallace who while appearing on the "Morning Joe" show screeched in response to the revelations of the Senate Intelligence report "I don't care what we did." As Elias Isquith, a writer for Salon, contends, as "grotesque as that was, though, the really scary part was [the implication that] waterboarding, sleep deprivation, stress positions and sexual assault is part of what makes 'America 'great.'"[25] Wallace's comments are more than morally repugnant. Wallace embodies the stance of so many other war criminals who were either indifferent to the massive suffering and deaths they caused or actually took pride in their actions. They are the bureaucrats whose thoughtlessness and moral depravity Hannah Arendt identified as the rear guard of totalitarianism.

Illegal legalities, moral depravity, and mad violence are now wrapped in the vocabulary of Orwellian doublethink. For instance, the rhetorical gymnastics used by the torture squad are designed to make the American public believe that if you refer to torture by some seemingly innocuous name then the pain and suffering it causes will suddenly disappear. The latter represents not just the discourse of magical thinking but a refusal to recognize that "If cruelty is the worst thing that humans do to each other, torture [is] the most extreme expression of human cruelty."[26] These apostles of torture are politicians who thrive in some sick zone of political and social abandonment, and who unapologetically further acts of barbarism, fear, willful lies, and moral depravity. They are the new totalitarians who hate democracy, embrace a punishing state, and believe that politics is mostly an extension of war. They are the thoughtless gangsters reminiscent of the monsters who made fascism possible at another time in history. For them, torture is an instrument of fear; one sordid strategy and element in a war on terror that attempts to expand governmental power and put into play a vast (il)legal and repressive apparatus that expands the field of violence and the technologies, knowledge, and institutions central to fighting the all-encompassing war on terror. Americans now live under a government in which the doctrine of permanent warfare is legitimated through a state of emergency deeply rooted in a mass psychology of violence and culture of cruelty that are essential to transforming a government of laws into a regime of lawlessness.

... ... ...

There is another story to be told about another kind of torture, one that is more capacious and seemingly more abstract but just as deadly in its destruction of human life, justice, and democracy. This is a mode of torture that resembles the "mind virus" mentioned in the Senate report, one that induces fear, paralysis, and produces the toxic formative culture that characterizes the reign of neoliberalism. Isolation, privatization, and the cold logic of instrumental rationality have created a new kind of social formation and social order in which it becomes difficult to form communal bonds, deep connections, a sense of intimacy, and long term commitments. Neoliberalism has created a society of monsters for whom pain and suffering are viewed as entertainment or deserving of scorn, warfare is a permanent state of existence, torture becomes a matter of expediency, and militarism is celebrated as the most powerful mediator of human relationships.

Under the reign of neoliberalism, politics has taken an exit from ethics and thus the issue of social costs is divorced from any form of intervention in the world. This is the ideological metrics of political zombies. The key word here is atomization and it is the curse of both neoliberal societies and democracy itself. A radical democracy demands a notion of educated hope capable of energizing a generation of young people and others who connect the torture state to the violence and criminality of an economic system that celebrates its own depravities. It demands a social movement unwilling to abide by technological fixes or cheap reforms. It demands a new politics for which the word revolution means going to the root of the problem and addressing it non-violently with dignity, civic courage, and the refusal to accept a future that mimics the present. Torture is not just a matter of policy, it is a deadening mindset, a point of identification, a form of moral paralysis, a war crime, an element of the spectacle of violence, and it must be challenged in all of its dreadful registers.

Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. His most recent books are America's Education Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013) and Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education (Haymarket Press, 2014). His web site is

[Dec 12, 2014] Shock and anal probe: reading between the redactions in the CIA torture report

This is a particularly despicable and illuminating look into how the CIA treated its officers who were carrying out torture techniques. After a detainee, Gul Rahman, was chained, nearly naked, to a concrete floor for an extended time and then froze to to death, no officer on-site nor at the CIA was disciplined – let alone prosecuted. In fact, the CIA officer in charge of the detention site was recommended to receive a bonus of $2,500 for his "consistently superior work". Five pages earlier in the report, we are told that this particular CIA officer was already known for dishonesty and lack of judgment when he was sent on his first overseas assignment to head this detention site. Eleven years and one page in the report later, the CIA acknowledged it "erred" in not holding anyone accountable for Rahman's death.

Eleven years.

When a government agency disregards human life so recklessly – and even considers rewarding those on the payroll who do the same – how is it possible to believe the United States can maintain the illusion of being a human rights champion? President Obama and Congress must ensure accountability – including prosecutions, as well as reparations for victims – and not just for torture but enforced disappearances and other human rights violations that leave the US in serious violation of its international legal obligations. -Steven W Hawkins, executive director, Amnesty International USA

gottliebvera, 11 Dec 2014 05:01

The 'beacon on the hill' has gone dark. Always preaching from the pulpit of hypocrisy, always admonishing, always threatening...and look at them. 'Exceptional' by NO means.

Janice Mitich, 11 Dec 2014 02:08

When you condone the use of torture on any person or class of people, you have taken a dangerous step that will not prevent the state from using torture on you. The 5th Amendment to the Constitution says that the accused person "shall not be compelled to testify against himself" thus exercising the right not to be tortured into a confession of something they may or may not have done. The 8th Amendment says that the state cannot impose excessive bail or fines, nor impose cruel or unusual punishment which includes torture. Torture cannot be used to force a person to testify against himself prior to trial, nor can he be tortured after being found guilty in order to name any co-conspirators---(This is what was done in the Salem Witch Trials.)

Just as monarch, tyrants, of old, who believed they had the right to do whatever they pleased ie: Hitler, Stalin, Saddam, Mao, to name a few, Bush and Cheney created a special class of human beings to whom they could do anything they wanted and the right to purge them from the earth. This is a dangerous step on the slippery slope down into hell where the people are powerless and rulers are absolute.

I don't think that any of you want that. I hope you will reconsider your decision and decide that torturing prisoners is in violation of our Constitution no matter what "appealing" reason is given for that action.

Using the term "Enhanced" interrogation is a term that turns my stomach. One generally uses the word 'enhanced' to make something better or more pleasing, or more beautiful. Leave it to the Government to coin a term in such a way as to make you think it is a positive and rightful thing to do.

That's like naming a cancerous tumor as "enhanced cell growth." or a nuclear bomb an "enhanced demolition device," or an amputation of one's foot as an "enhanced pedicure.

Arcane, 10 Dec 2014 16:58

The Americans have finally fessed up to what we already suspected, namely that their spooks were out of control and engaging in torture, murder and human rights violations without any purpose other than an ultra-right-wing addiction to the use of violence.

The British are now looking into their own sordid and sorry involvement in this disgraceful chapter in recent history. However, we have heard nothing from the Australian government as to what role - if any - their spooks played in this same set of events. There were at least two Australians held in the Guantanamo Bay prison. One of them, David Hicks, claims he was tortured and that the Australian government knew that this was taking place but did nothing.

There needs to be a criminal trial of the CIA contractors and other officials who carried out these crimes. If found guilty they need to be spend a lot of time in prison. Perhaps Guantanamo Camp X-Ray might be the best option. The criminal investigation and subsequent trials need to include the government leaders at the time, G.W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Tony Blair and of course John Howard and Alexander Downer.

M of A - The U.S. Is Still Committed To Torture

james | Dec 9, 2014 12:34:00 PM | 2

feinsteins logic runs this way 'there were a few bad apples in the cia'.

was there any accountability? answer - nada. "Speaking to the New York Times, Cheney called the interrogation tactics "absolutely, totally justified," contrary to the committee's findings." will there ever be? no.. without the accountablity - the usa is essentially a tip pot dictatorship run by the military complex..

i am surprised they released this.. usually they file it under 'top secret' or 'state secrets' and people don't hear about it for another 50 years.. that is the way the folks in the land of the brave and free usually roll.

IhaveLittleToAdd | Dec 9, 2014 12:57:09 PM | 4
The low level people did it and are unnamed. The high level people ordered them to do it, openly brag about it, but are not prosecutable. Obama won't push it for fear that the next administrataion will get all high and mighty about his drone campaign, NSA overreach, or whatever. Congress won't because they either knew about it, or should have known about it. Not too mention the CIA probably, and rightfully, scares the bajeebies out of them.

Signals Inteligence got a shout out in the WaPo coverage. Look, torturing is really bad and we're not going to do that now that we can stare at you through your iphone camera. Then again we have these cool drones that save the judicial branch loads of time.

Yul | Dec 9, 2014 12:57:16 PM | 5
They have redacted the countries or so called Black Sites but we know that some "democratic" European countries, new members or prospective members of the EU are there - Poland, Lithuania, Romania, Kosovo , Bosnia, Macedonia and Italy ( the CIA judged in absentia )
To encourage governments to clandestinely host CIA detention sites, or to increase support for existing sites, the CIA provided millions of dollars in cash payments to foreign government officials

Rick | Dec 9, 2014 2:21:59 PM | 6

...say anything to stop the pain...?

Peter Kropoykin gave an account a "no pain" torture,

AN attempt was made to kill Rsar Alexander mid-1800s. The pepetrtor was kept awake/denied sleep. After 1-2 weeks, he had the appearance of a lump of jelly, in which condition he was carted to the gallows and hung.

Pain, then, must include physical and mental and even other psychological forces such as attack on the spiritual nature of the life force.

Rick from long ago.

WG | Dec 9, 2014 3:07:18 PM | 7

I believe the WH / CIA even redacted the pseudonyms used to identify the individuals involved within the report. You can't even get an idea of the number of individuals involved by seeing how often their fake names come up.

Also a few years ago the CIA destroyed all videotaped record of the actual torture sessions, ignoring orders expressly stating they needed to keep the material.

james | Dec 9, 2014 3:49:01 PM | 8

wg - but they will go after bradley manning, snowden or anyone else who is brave enough to show these same culpits.. shooting the messenger is all the usa knows how to do at this point..

jfl | Dec 9, 2014 3:50:02 PM | 9

The CIA is evil incarnate and needs to be disbanded. Barack Obama is under the thumb of the CIA. All subsequent presidents will be as well, now that the criminal operation has wrapped its tentacles so completely around the office.

The CIA wages war all the time, tells no one what it is doing, and has done so since its founding. There are two parts to the CIA, on paper : intelligence gathering and criminal actions. The first is just a fake cover for the other, the 'i' in CIA. The second, the CA, is the black heart of the organization, its raison d'être, and the hole in Uncle Sam's arm where all the money goes.

I don't know how it can come about but the CIA, the NSA must be 'put down'. Both are incompatible with democracy and antithetic to the rule of law. They are making over the USA in their image. If they cannot be eliminated it will be sad testimony to the transformation's ultimate realization.

Martin Finnucane | Dec 9, 2014 5:32:58 PM | 12

I am half way through reading The Half Has Never Been Told. It occurs to me that violence against captives - i.e., torture - is central to the history of the U.S. The glorification of the captor, and the demonization of the captive, is similarly a central part of the experience of being a white American.

@13 - How ridiculous. "Hey guys, I know you're referencing a 1600 page CIA torture report, but here's a YouTube link!"

I mean, we know you're a complete shill but jeez. Have some self-respect.


The Rise of German Imperialism and the Phony "Russian Threat"

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 9, 2014 7:07:53 PM | 15

"CIA are amateurs."

Any organization with a $14 Billion a year budget making good money in drug sales other illicit activities deserve at least to be called "professionals".

The fact is, no one on this planet has killed like the CIA. Since the end of the Second World War, the United States has killed at least 10 million people - men, women, children - through sanctions, military activity, or sponsored bloodbaths. The CIA can claim at least 1 million of those themselves (if not two). Hardly "amateurs" in any sense.

The CIA organized massacres in Indonesia took anywhere between 500k-800k lives alone.

People ought to listen to real CIA agents like John Stockwell and Phil Agee to know what bloody deeds the CIA gets up to. Not some goofy, minimum wage internet lackey of theirs.

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 9, 2014 7:17:46 PM | 16

With respect, I disagree with our host's interpretation of this news.

This Senate document of 6.000 pages, released into the public record, is greatly significance. I am surprised it was released. It must create a cumulative impact as time passes; and I believe that one reason for the disclosure, from the nod that Senator Feinstein gave it, as chairman of the intelligence committee , is in one respect to defend the Senate from the overreach of the CIA. And let's remember that the Agency challenged the Senate's authority not long ago,--going so far as to hack the Senate's computers,--in order to remove evidence which Senate staff had gathered, in pursuit of this investigation of torture. For very practical political reasons they could not capitulate, or succumb to the threat, and the meaning of such a sinister act carried out by an intelligence agency, which by law is subordinate to Senate authority.

Clearly, to not publish this document, would be to admit that the Senate had been cowed into silence by the very spooks who had committed a felony against that chamber, a higher, constitutional authority.

I believe the consequences of having conceded and enumerated and identified the practice of torture, and placing this document in the public record, will have gathering repercussions. Because of the diligent and praiseworthy efforts of the alternative press, done years ago, these crimes cannot in the fullness of time, be fobbed off as a rogue activity inside an intelligence community--as happened with the Iran-Contra affair--when Reagan was in the White House.

On the contrary, the chain of responsibility goes straight to the legal minds (and we know who they are) in G. W. Bush's Justice Department, who characterized these particular war crimes as instruments legally permissible. And we have the statements of President Bush and Vice-President Cheney, which are fully incriminating, and would likely convince any fair-minded jury of their guilt, on the occasion of their trial.

None of us can say with any certainty, that the former President and Vice-President will ever have to face their day in court; but the release of this Senate document, as it details the sordid facts about a disgraceful series of crimes, must cast a mighty long shadow over the remaining years of Bush and Cheney. The same shadow lingers upon the loathsome attorneys who facilitated their heinous crimes.

May the sleep of these men be discomforted, and their dreams made unpleasant, because of the prolonged legal shadow, or possibly because of the tireless determination of prosecutors.

Posted by: Copeland | Dec 9, 2014 9:20:46 PM | 17

Invictus has the real rabbit hole... and has for years.

After destroying video evidence, CIA's Rodriguez slams Senate torture report

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 9, 2014 9:21:15 PM | 18

@17 copeland. thanks for sharing your perspective which is very insightful. i would include the push pull of dems verses republicans as well.. i really enjoyed reading your post from december 1st on your website as well. thanks.

Posted by: james | Dec 9, 2014 9:41:24 PM | 19

Copeland @17: Today's release was the highly-redacted and yet still damning 500-page Executive Summary of the full 6,000 page report. I hadn't heard that there were plans to release the full document, but I could be wrong. What I would give to see these war criminals brought to trial and convicted. No high hopes.

Posted by: catlady | Dec 9, 2014 10:16:55 PM | 20

The torture is far more widespread then is generally discussed. I heard law professor Scott Horton state in an interview once that thousands of people have been tortured to death by the U.S. That is not the picture we are usually given. We need to be clear about the scope of what is taking place. I hope this report will do this.

Posted by: Edward | Dec 9, 2014 10:27:45 PM | 21

in re 13

Still pushin' that one I see.

Here are some real pros. An Elderly Man Murdered at Ukrainian Checkpoint for Refusing to Shout "Glory to Ukraine!" in Glinka in the Starobeshevo district, near the Russian Border. "A monument to the soldiers of the Great Patriotic War was destroyed. A resident of the neighboring village, an elderly man took some tools to repair the monument." Stopped at a Banderaist checkpoint, he refused to shout "Glory to the Ukraine." Beaten to the ground, he we shot several times.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 9, 2014 10:50:41 PM | 22

From b's outline...

"The report is also limited to the CIA and does not include the military which, as we know, also used torture and killed people in "interrogations".[1]
The U.S. is bound by law to prosecute all of them from top to bottom but it is unlikely to happen.[2]
Only one person from the CIA went to prison over the torture program. This not for committing torture but for revealing it."[3]

[1] & [2] tend to expose the International Criminal Court as a fake judicial panel every bit as corrupt, prejudiced and subservient to Power as the US judicial system.
At least the ICC's name confirms that it is inhabited by Criminals eager to do what they're told, to whomsoever they're told to do it (by US/UK and the rest of the Incredible Shrinking pseudo International Community).

[3] tells us everything we need to know about what and who Yankee Justice is designed to protect.

Copeland | Dec 9, 2014 9:20:46 PM @ 17 makes some very good points. This is going to resonate in all kinds of inconvenient ways. If nothing else it will wake up millions more people worldwide to the fact that if you're not anti-American, the day is fast approaching when you're going to need a VERY GOOD EXCUSE.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 9, 2014 10:50:43 PM | 23


Posted by: easy e | Dec 9, 2014 10:52:13 PM | 24


Thanks james for your kind words.



I don't know for a fact about the 6,000 pages; but I would be astounded if the body of the report, in redacted form, is not released. I don't see them going to the expense, time, and trouble, to bottle up the body of the research. What is astonishing to me is the tone that certain CIA spokesmen have taken with the Senate. How arrogant and highhanded these fellows have become. There are strong indications, and a good case to be made, that this Agency is guilty of tampering with evidence, destroying video evidence of torture, and stealing evidence or deleting files from the Senate's computers. As an educated guess, I would think the Senate would be wise make the whole document available to the public. For their own peace of mind and security.

I hope this turns out to be the case.

Posted by: Copeland | Dec 9, 2014 11:10:30 PM | 25

On the topic --

I've heard a lot of whining from the Right side of the aisle in public life about "this will endanger our people everywhere" and decrying the release of the report.

Doesn't the other side already know what's been done to them? Isn't the whole point of trying suppress or downplay it strictly for domestic consumption?

It's appalling. What we used to condone with distaste on the down-low by our foreign lackeys and collaborators we now proudly boast of as evidence of our "toughness" or our "resolve."

Copeland @ 17--

I hope you're right. One would have thought that the cumulative effect of decades of military and foreign policy debacles would have sunk in, as well. But I fear this will find it's way down MiniTrue's "memory hole," like Iran/Contra, the Iraq War, Syria....

Well, in fairness, drowned out by the latest celebrity gossip.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 9, 2014 11:12:58 PM | 26

The DOJ has already said they won't be pursuing charges against individuals named in the report. And has been stated before, we many never know the true scope of these crimes.

This is the real difference between America and other countries. Other places never reveal the ways they abuse their prisoners, nor do they punish them. The USA has these things revealed, THEN refuse to punish anyone.

Posted by: Almand | Dec 9, 2014 11:16:57 PM | 27

Copeland @ 25

I think you're onto something about the institutional struggle.

We might see how that struggle plays out soon. The "intelligence community" is already pushing back, saying, "oh no we got good intel." Cynic that I am, I wonder how long it will be before CIA assets in the Fourth Estate start dropping bad stuff about members of the Senate. When they do, it will be interesting to see R's v. D's on the hit list.

I would expect some of the Senate to put up a valiant rearguard action, but this war might have been lost with hysterical over-reaction to Sept. 11. Which Barry Choom has only intensified, really, with drones and loose talk about Russian "expansionism."

Again, I wouldn't mind be wrong on this one.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 9, 2014 11:24:58 PM | 28

rufus @28:

I also fear that it's only a matter of time before the CIA pushes back against the Senate, and generally goes on the offensive. The Intel Community and the mainstream media have historically had a more or less cozy relationship (including Hollywood). It will certainly be interesting to see how this power struggle plays out.

Posted by: Almand | Dec 9, 2014 11:39:18 PM | 29

Almand @ 29 --

Hollywood -- wasn't "24" just torture-porn? And what was that recent feature-length wet kiss to dark side of the dark sites, with the conflicted-yet-resolute female operative?

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 9, 2014 11:48:52 PM | 30

This torture was permitted, with a wink and a nod, from the very top, to the very bottom. IMO, anyone who thinks differently is delusional. A few bad apples, oh please!

Posted by: ben | Dec 9, 2014 11:55:19 PM | 31

And still worse: From Penny

Posted by: ben | Dec 10, 2014 12:36:31 AM | 32


Ugh, it's disconcerting the amount of hack work propaganda gets churned out every year. I could be pessimistic and say the seventies was really the beginning of the end and blame Warren Beatty and Reds for putting the last nail in the coffin, but that would be sentimental. You're right it goes back a ways- I like the story of Dulles and Animal Farm:

"The trade press reported that de Rochemont financed Animal Farm with the frozen British box-office receipts from his racial 'passing' drama Lost Boundaries; in fact, Animal Farm was almost entirely underwritten by the CIA. De Rochemont hired Halas and Batchelor (they were less expensive and, given their experience making wartime propaganda cartoons, politically more reliable than American animators) in late 1951; well before that, his 'investors' had furnished him with detailed dissections of his team's proposed treatment. Animal Farm was scheduled for completion in spring 1953, but the ambitious production, which made use of full cell animation, was delayed for more than a year, in part because of extensive discussion and continual revisions. Among other things, the investors pushed for a more aggressively 'political' voice-over narration and were concerned that Snowball (the pig who figures as Trotsky) would be perceived by audiences as too sympathetic.

Most problematic, however, was Orwell's pessimistic ending, in which the pigs become indistinguishable from their human former masters. No matter how often the movie's screenplay was altered, it always concluded with a successful farmyard uprising in which the oppressed animals overthrew the dictatorial pigs. The Animal Farm project had been initiated when Harry Truman was president; Dwight Eisenhower took office in January 1953, with John Foster Dulles as his secretary of state and Allen Dulles heading the CIA. Leab notes that Animal Farm's mandated ending complemented the new Dulles policy, which – abandoning Truman's aim of containing Communism – planned a 'roll back', at least in Eastern Europe. As one of the script's many advisors put it, Animal Farm's ending should be one where the animals 'get mad, ask for help from the outside, which they get, and which results in their (the Russian people) with the help of the free nations overthrowing their oppressors'."

Posted by: Nana2007 | Dec 10, 2014 12:56:38 AM | 33

On more than one level, and for more than one reason, the Senate committee's release of this report about past torture, permitted and encouraged by the Bush Jr, crowd, is the right thing to do. The Senate not only drew a line against the CIA, after it invaded the private deliberations and was bold enough to go rifling through Senate files, and deleting some files.

Along with rufus m., I feel there is danger if the political dirty work is taken up in the media. But the report, if it is fully released, works powerfully for the Senate, and is more of a counteraction politically, than it is a holding action; and it is not a sign of weakness by any means. The Senate has plenty of strong legal minds, and it can bypass Obama's Justice Dept. and broaden its investigations, in the event of any similar assault against it.

Yet I have some suspicion that the branch at Langley that jerked around with a powerful institution like the Senate, in the way they did, would never do this on their own, without the guarantee that someone in higher authority has their back. In fact, if CIA doubles down on the belligerence and bluster, that would tend to arouse more suspicion of a hidden hand.

Posted by: Copeland | Dec 10, 2014 2:11:32 AM | 34

The CIA spied upon the comittee (headed by Diane Feinstein) that composed this report. This angered Feinstein and made her more determined to publish the report.

Posted by: Willy2 | Dec 10, 2014 3:03:49 AM | 35

A commentator on CNN yesterday, while admitting that the whole story was unsavory, still had to add, that the report in itself was another sign of the United States greatness. Why? Well, "Putin would never allow such a thing"!

Posted by: Bert | Dec 10, 2014 3:38:19 AM | 36

@16 I thought this is what you guys have been doing here for the last half year. I post HRW, AI and OSCE reports on Donbass - you respond with rogue translations of some Russian blogs?

Also it's interesting to see you seriously discussing an US Senate report while you have rejected any reports by US administration in the past as "CIA sponsored" etc. Why this torture report is reliable, but previous reports calling for military support for Ukraine were not reliable?

By the way, as we're on the topic of arms: Russian arms delivery for Boko Haram was just arrested in Nigeria.

Posted by: Ulster | Dec 10, 2014 4:02:34 AM | 37

Consulting psychologists were paid 80 of an 180m contract to train torturers. I wonder how many other programs in the 'black budget' are likewise inflated 100x.

Posted by: Crest | Dec 10, 2014 4:20:47 AM | 38


The 6000 pages wont be released to public, its just the shorter censured version that have been released.

Posted by: Anonymous | Dec 10, 2014 4:21:33 AM | 39

I just don't get it. NeoLiberal Capitalism IS 'torture'.

Banksters create synthetic debt out of thin air, and charge all of us egregious usury for the use of it, while the Fat Cats roll their gambling losses into public Treasury bailouts. Everything flows from that heinous crime: the win-or-die competitive rat race, the vicious street life, the 90,000,000 jobless or homeless 'disappeared', the -$18 TRILLION perpetual debt, the $4 TRILLION phony Oil Crusades, massively bloated $3.4 TRILLION Mil.Gov.Sci.Edu rice bowl Fed bureaucracy, even the unregulated 501(c)3 tax-dodge 'rice tent' charity (sic) fraud to take care of 'poor victims', making their CEOs rich with 30% APR 'micro-loans'.

Capitalism is raping 998 people to give 2 people a life of ease: the Ricos, and their Pols. Born naked, die naked, immersed in a life-long electronic swamp of lies and disinformation.
'You Deserve a Break Today'. Which leg do you want to limp on?

I mean, what else do you expect? Tea and crumpets at 4PM? Jebeezus!

This is what our world would've been like if the Nazis had won. It just took a few years longer than they planned to return to the Reign of the Habsburgs.

Posted by: ChipNikh | Dec 10, 2014 5:48:36 AM | 40

If America is still torturing, which I don't dispute by the way, then why didn't China detain and arrest Obama during his recent visit since he is a Human Rights abuser and therefore a criminal? Is China not committed to Human Rights? Is China afraid? Or does China not give a shit about Human Rights?

Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Dec 10, 2014 6:49:14 AM | 41

A commentator on CNN yesterday, while admitting that the whole story was unsavory, still had to add, that the report in itself was another sign of the United States greatness. Why? Well, "Putin would never allow such a thing"!

Ha! It is absurd. There is no greatness in being only marginally more humane than a psychopathic, sadistic megalomaniac like Putin who is hell-bent on nuking the planet.

Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Dec 10, 2014 6:52:30 AM | 42

Hi Ben

Sick isn't it? Yes, human experimentation is what's not mentioned in all the newsiness? The Human experimentation aspect of the torture program- which was alluded to as early as 2009- Doctors monitoring how the torture was affecting the innocent humans- studying it. In hopes of what? It's simply MKULTRA/DELTA etc continued on- That horror show never went away.

What is sickening is the way this is being spun no doubt with the assistance of the usual PR firms?

The US is a good guy for releasing this and does so at great risk (another terror attack 9/11 9/11 9/11) but since we are just so great we have to make the sacrifice, though we could be the victims yet again- Sickening stuff really

Posted by: Penny | Dec 10, 2014 7:09:29 AM | 43

Cold N H @ 42

You know the US has "already nuked the planet" right?
Hiroshima Nagasaki
Speaking of sadistic megalomania?

Posted by: Penny | Dec 10, 2014 7:11:22 AM | 44


' Clearly, to not publish this document, would be to admit that the Senate had been cowed into silence by the very spooks who had committed a felony against that chamber, a higher, constitutional authority. '

Have they published the report? I don't think so. I think they redacted 90% of the report and then re-redacted that again. And that's what everyone is reading.

There is no evidence of anyone's culpability here. It's the usual 15 minutes of 'oh, how horrible' ... and then its over.

If the senate were 'heroic' ... even if they were just still warm ... one of them, the poseur Udall for instance ... would have dumped the full report into the Congressional Record. That's not even original. Mike Gravel did it 43 years ago.

No, the problem is that doing so ... looking out for the nation's interest instead of his own ... would have disappeared the pot of gold on the other side of the revolving door.

There are no men and women among the American political class ... have you had a look at the video of Sahra Wagenknecht reading Ms. Merkel the riot act in the German Parliament that was posted in thread 30? Nothing like that in America, just slugs and trails of slime.

I want to be hopeful as much as you do, Copeland. But hope in the American political class is misplaced. My hope is in the poor people of Ferguson, Detroit, of all the cities who have slipped and fallen once too often in the slime, and are working to regain control of their lives themselves.

Posted by: jfl | Dec 10, 2014 7:23:43 AM | 45

The most glaring example of the utter incompetence of the CIA can be seen in the people that it contracted to develop its "enhanced interrogation" techniques.

Because I would have thought it obvious - a no-brainer - that if you wanted to know how to "interrogate" then you would bring in people who.... do interrogations for a living.

You know, get in police officers to tell them the Secret of The Good Cop / Bad Cop Routine.

Or ask the Customs Service to come over and explain how their "interviews" allows them to separate the wheat from the chaff at airports and seaports all around the Good Ol USofA.

You'd contract those guys, because those guys actually do this for a living.

But, no, those weren't the guys the CIA paid $millions for.

The CIA actually contracted in guys Who Had Never Actually Interrogated Anyone For Real.

The CIA engaged psychiatrists who taught the US Military how to WITHSTAND torture.

Think about that: these are the guys who were going around saying: Torture doesn't work, and I'm here to teach you why.

Those were the guys that the CIA paid untold $millions to teach the CIA how Torture Works when - in reality - all the CIA was proving is that Money Talks.

Posted by: Johnboy | Dec 10, 2014 7:41:42 AM | 46

If those countries where torture takes place
attract public dissatisfaction/opposition against things such as torture,
then why is it that we never hear about such public dissatisfaction/opposition.
( i know, its a bit of a rhetorical question because there is no actual public oppsition. whatever opposition you do see is only there for "show" purposes mainly)

Dont countries such as Italy,Canada,Germany,Greece etc have such a thing called Democracy,thru which people can voice their opposition.

Or have these countries "privatised" their political systems to unnamed private foreigners.
Is "Democracy,", "Rule of law", due process, accountability etc all dead?
After all Greeks,Romans and others were the inventors of these things.

( i only refer to actions done on behalf of foreign organisations such as CIA, US Government, and any other foreign organisation, i suppose that torture that takes place on behalf of your own Government would be perfectly legitimate, sadly)

Posted by: chris m | Dec 10, 2014 7:42:42 AM | 47

chris m

We are talking about western populations here, same western populations that is getting fooled on Iraq, Syria, Russia, Iran, Palestine etcetera.
Western populations are hopelessly brainwashed today.

Posted by: Anonymous | Dec 10, 2014 8:19:34 AM | 48

There is no greatness in being only marginally more humane than a psychopathic, sadistic megalomaniac like Putin who is hell-bent on nuking the planet.

Crock of shit.

Posted by: MRW | Dec 10, 2014 8:29:06 AM | 49


"The most glaring example of the utter incompetence of the CIA can be seen in the people that it contracted to develop its "enhanced interrogation" techniques"

I'm calling complete bullbiscuits on the incompetence meme (and will be at my blog in a new post)

People have got to stop promoting this meme. It's utterly ridiculous.
The CIA contracted these people because it was politically expedient.
Gave them a "deniability" card that could be played to promote incompetence as an example and also to enrich their compatriots.
That is not incompetent. It is in fact very competent and very evil!

Posted by: Penny | Dec 10, 2014 8:59:26 AM | 50

@17 Copeland
I can see your angle, it was important that the report was released in light of the tampering by the CIA.

But, we will never know to what degree the CIA tampering led to an untoward censorship either. Similar to the "rectal re-hydration" being viewed as a way to leverage total control over the prisoner, wasn't the hacking of senate computers a way for the CIA to exert total control? They have perfected the panopticon concept. Who knows, maybe the report initially was going to name names, or the redaction pen wasn't going to be used so heavily.

The hacking was such a flagrant and egregious violation of any sense of the law, you almost wonder if they wanted to get caught in order to send the message. Similarly, torture itself doesn't have the desired effect unless the outside world knows you are using it. The people in custody are already off the battlefield and on their way to becoming innocuous non-persons, the object is to make someone considering joining a cause to consider it a bit harder. I would argue this was the point of the hacking. The intended effect seems to have manifested itself in a report that acts more of as a tonic than a disinfectant.

Posted by: IhaveLittleToAdd | Dec 10, 2014 9:04:45 AM | 51


09:01 Wednesday 10 December 2014
The Dail (Irish Parliament) last night voted in favour of the government recognising the State of Palestine based on its 1967 borders - before Israeli occupation. The Senate has already voted for it
All parties in the Dail supported the Sinn Fein motion during Private Members time in the Dail.
The government parties backed the motion saying that they were in favour of a two state solution for Israel and Palestine.
Labour's Jed Nash said that passing the motion was an important step in what will be a long process for Palestinian Statehood:
Last month the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, said Ireland might recognise a Palestinian state if it helped to advance the peace process in the Middle East.
Currently eight EU states recognise Palestine as a state, with Sweden the most recent to adopt the stance and the first to do so while an EU member state.
There is widespread recognition of Palestine as a state across Asia, Africa and South America, but far less within the EU and North America.
Jewish opposition has already started

Posted by: Boindub | Dec 10, 2014 11:02:57 AM | 52

Posted by: KMF | Dec 10, 2014 11:25:45 AM | 53

Here's an interview with ex-US Military Attorney, Major Dan Mori on the program, The Drum. Major Dan was appointed by the US Military to defend David Hicks against trumped up charges related to the Fake War on Terror. Hicks' plight was made infinitely worse by PM John Dubya Howard, cock-sucking coward, liar, cur, and the only non-Jew ever to be awarded the B'nai B'rith Gold Medal (+ $1,000,000) for services to "Israel", who refused to tell G Dubya Bush to return Hicks to Oz (because the "crimes" Hicks was accused of were NOT crimes in Australia).
Howard refused and Hicks eventually appeared before a Yankee Kangaroo Court, aka Military Tribunal where he was plea-blackmailed into accepting a sentence of two years plus time-served. And then returned to Oz to serve out the remainder of his sentence in Australian custody.

Major Dan was a harsh critic of the US Military Tribunal system from the outset (prior to the trial), and is, without a shadow of doubt, a Man Among Men. Not at all like the indignant little girly-boys such as Obama, Tony Abbott, Sarkozy, Cameron, Wm Hague and Tony Bliar who plague and litter the Western political landscape.

Anyhow, here's a 6 minute interview with Major Dan who, after his departure from the US Military, migrated to Oz with his family and wrote a book about his experiences with the US Military Injustice System called In The Company of Cowards.

The most stunning revelation in the interview is a reference to the fact that the torture report points out that of 119 detainees studied during its compilation, the committee concluded that:
1. 26 of the victims were completely innocent of any 'wrong-doing' and should never have been detained.
2. The Report understates the number of detainees studied to less than 100.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 10, 2014 11:34:37 AM | 54

While You're Being Distracted With The MSM Torture Narrative, The 1,618 page 2015 NDAA Will Be Voted on in the Senate ...

Oh, and on torture, don't forget the boiled bodies in the old USSR.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 10, 2014 3:06:05 PM | 55

every time I

Posted by: slothrop | Dec 10, 2014 3:19:10 PM | 56

Every time I post here, I bitch. But, this is spot on, b.

I wonder how much Germany assisted in "extraordinary renditions"?

Posted by: slothrop | Dec 10, 2014 3:23:25 PM | 57

From Cannonfire:

Posted by: ben | Dec 10, 2014 3:29:10 PM | 58

The map of all the countries who were complicit – actively or passively – with CIA's torture program includes most of the countries who speak loudest and most sanctimoniously about human rights. Add to this all the other countries (Russia, China, India, South American countries, …. ) who also use torture in some form, and I come to the conclusion that there is not a single country today where some form of torture (physical as well as mental) is not at least tolerated under some specific conditions.

Posted by: ktwop | Dec 10, 2014 4:03:49 PM | 59

Well gracious of you not to bitch for a welcome change sloth, but isn't your second sentence a bit of a subtle bitch? I suspect the original Nazis that the US imported/rescued after WWII had a lot to do with it but give the Germany of today, including b but excluding Merkel, a break will you.

Actually it is good to hear from you again sloth. Your input can be valuable when you're not "bitching".

Posted by: juannie | Dec 10, 2014 4:10:18 PM | 60

ben @ 58

I have my second part up so come over and check it out
and tell me what you think- definite human experimentation went on

Posted by: Penny | Dec 10, 2014 6:30:05 PM | 61

Brazil 'Building the politics of memory': An Interview with Paulo Abrao

[W]e are building politics of memory, which are more and more capable of understanding the types of repression that were used against the victims of the dictatorship. There are also now several Brazilian states and municipalities that are creating spaces for memory and for the creation of understanding and knowledge. The truth is that before we lived in a country that was dominated by an ethic of the forgotten and today we have another environment, where the country is valuing our memory and the past.

A short while ago, we head from all of the principle Brazilian newspapers, which published fairly strong and insistent editorials from the perspective that we should not look to the past and that we should only and exclusively look toward the future. They said that eventually, any excerise into the past would imply a rupture with our democracy, and would put at risk the current public institutions and freedoms. The simple affirmation of these ideas is in itself a representation of the frailty of our democracy. And now we have a new environment.

The same American Criminals In Action responsible for so much terrorism, torture, and death in this milennium were responsible for much of the same in Latin America ... worldwide ... in the last.

We need to build a politics of memory here in the USA, where forgetfulness in institurionalized. The Criminal In Action In Chief here directly mouthed himself what was left to the MSM in Brazil ... "that we should not look to the past and that we should only and exclusively look toward the future."

We cannot understand the present without knowing the past nor can we have any control of our future without understanding the present as it is perfected. There is no time but the present, created by the past and in turn creating the future, and there is nobody here but ourselves to create it. We North Americans are certainly near the end of the line when it comes to understanding our past, and so our present, and so to deliberately affecting our future.

Posted by: jfl | Dec 10, 2014 6:30:06 PM | 62

in re 37

FYI, the latest details. Curiously, the page linked to says nothing about Boko Haram. Only that a Russian-owned plane with arms bound for Chad has been detained on 6 Dec. Russia has supplied weapons to the gov't. since at least 2001, according to Wikipedia (see army of chad and the foreign operators of t-55 tanks), so why would this be at all suspicious?

The latest report, 8 Dec. Nigerian govt. releases Chad-bound Russian plane detained in Kano in Premium Times (online since 2011, so no doubt right up there with TNR, I'm sure) states that the cargo aboard the plane, chartered by the French military, was being redeployed within the region by French peacekeepers. The aircraft made an unscheduled landing in Nigeria due to what the article describes as "technical problems." Local security in Kano, in the north, apparently has a history of detaining aircraft.

This is the third time since 2009 that planes loaded with arms would be arrested in Kano, our correspondent says.

The detained planes were later released after investigations.

The destination of the latest aircraft has however raised concerns amid increasing worries in Nigeria over Chad's alleged role in the Boko Haram insurgency plaguing Nigeria's northeast.

This bit at the tail of the pc. is all I see about Boko Haram.

Ponder if you would, my fellow Barflies what this might mean about the intent and honesty of our distinguished poster, who thoughtfully provided the link on the 10th.

I wonder -- maybe it was just a scam by some local security types -- Russia, France, the UN, perhaps financially enabled the expeditious handling of the investigation. The article makes it clear that local authorities, in view of the nationality of the plane, undertook the investigation.

Thanks for allowing me to wander off thread. We now return you to your regularly unscheduled postings, already in progress.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 10, 2014 8:13:52 PM | 63

To get back on topic -- Chris Floyd is an old favorite of mine, from his Moscow News days. Here he is at Counterpunch on the report.

A truncated version of the Senate investigation into the CIA's Terror War torture regime has finally been released. Even in its limited form, it details an operation of vile depravity, one which would plunge a civilized nation into a profound crisis of conscience....

Needless to say, nothing like that is going to happen in America. Indeed, even before the report was released, the New York Times - the standard-bearer and shaper of "decent" liberal thought for the nation - was... demanding that we "Pardon Bush and Those Who Tortured." This was the very first "think piece" pushed by the Times on the morning of the report's release.

And you know, I'm a little annoyed at the Grey Lady for finally jumping the shark after I touted it's (limited) virtues over at the TNR thread. Well, I'm sure Mrs. M has a few good recipes for crow; she's served me up that dish before.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 10, 2014 8:49:01 PM | 64

@63 rufus.. you have to give it up for number 2 bullshite artist ulster.. he runs a close 2nd to cold..

Posted by: james | Dec 10, 2014 9:01:52 PM | 65

james @ 65 --

No, I'm going with our distinguished correspondent as no. 1 source of shite. Maybe I'm being a snob, imported over domestic. It's got a more subtle bouquet.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 10, 2014 9:18:41 PM | 66

for what it is worth, the black and tan should not get a Christmas bonus, his disinformation is poorly produced and so sloppy that the very links he provides contradict his accusation.

if anyone is paying for that I would like to get into that racket as well.

Posted by: dan of steele | Dec 10, 2014 10:17:31 PM | 67

actually this is yet another demonstration of murikka's greatness !

dianne feinstein
*But I came to the conclusion that America's greatness is being able to say we made a mistake and we are going to correct it and go from there.*

Posted by: denk | Dec 11, 2014 2:01:45 AM | 68

Billmon posted a great series of tweet about the parallels between the Torture Report/ Wall St. Bailouts: the curtain coming up and everyone briefly seeing the true ugliness of the system before they try VERY hard to make us forget.

I can guarantee however that the rest of the world will not forget. I wonder what the reaction will be next time the US tries to come down on another country for human rights abuses? Perhaps laughter?

Posted by: Almand | Dec 11, 2014 4:39:03 AM | 69

@66 rufus - fair enough.. i agree with dan of steele - he can't possibly be paid for that crap.

@69 almand.. good questions. either these human rights organizations are independent organizations, or they are dependent on gov't or usaid type hand outs and they don't want to bite the hand that feeds them. regardless - it is laughable at this point any suggestion of the usa having any moral ground to stand on. we knew that beforehand, and the cozy relationship with kiev the past year is more testimony of the wretchedness of their ways..

Posted by: james | Dec 11, 2014 2:10:46 PM | 70

@james: Kiev, and also Saddam, Pinochet, the Contras, Mobuto, Bin Laden, Suharto, Marcos, Musharaf, and all the way back to Uncle Adolf... the list goes on and on. Like you said, it's something we all knew, and have known for a very long time but damned if it doesn't keep happening. The Guardian did a story about Amnesty and HRW did come out today demanding prosecutions. At least they have some sense of shame, it seems.

Posted by: Almand | Dec 11, 2014 6:25:56 PM | 71

jas, dan, 65, 67, 70 --

I gotta go w/our distinguished poster. CDH on occasion makes sense (like once or twice in the Ferguson/NYC discussion) and he's got decent taste in Pink Floyd albums. Regrettably, our faux Irishman has no such socially redeeming virtues.

But still, aren't y'all channeling your inner Grinch or Scrooge? What about Mrs. U and all the little counties? He gets his bonus, a traditional bag of coal, perhaps, since he is on the "naughty" list. We know he's not in the Ukraine; otherwise, that would count as a thoughtful gift.

And besides, he's pd. to be irritating, not right.

I agree, however, that quality is not good, repertory is a bit stale & weak; see g77's bon mot @ 15.

If I were his boss, I'd have him on a Corrective Action Program. But my guess, he's gaming his metrics and hiding it, at least for now.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 11, 2014 10:25:31 PM | 72

[Nov 20, 2014] The NY Fed's Attempt To Explain That It Is Not A Subsidiary Of Goldman Sachs

Nov 20, 2014 |

The most shocking, if already completely buried, news of the day was that - in yet another confirmation that Goldman Sachs is in charge of the New York Fed - a NY Fed staffer was colluding and leaking confidential, material information to a 29-year-old Goldman vice president, himself a former Federal Reserve employee.

This only happened because on the day Carmen Segarra disclosed her 47 hours of "secret Goldman tapes" on This American Life, Goldman executives asked the former Fed staffer where he had gotten what appeared to be confidential information from.

To nobody's surprise the answer was: The New York Fed. So as the latter, also known as the biggest hedge fund of the western world with $2.7 trillion in AUM, is scrambling to once again prove it is shocked, shocked, that it has become merely the latest subsidiary of Goldman Sachs, Inc., it released the following statement explaining what "really" happened.

From the NY Fed:

As soon as we learned that Goldman Sachs suspected one of its employees may have inappropriately obtained confidential supervisory information, we alerted law enforcement authorities. We have been working with law enforcement authorities since then. Because any public statement about the investigation could be prejudicial to a potential future criminal case, we are unable to comment on the specific facts that are under investigation.

As a general matter, we have detailed rules and controls protecting confidential information. All employees with access to confidential supervisory information need to agree to safeguard that information appropriately, and not to disclose it without the necessary approval. Employees receive training relating to the handling and protection of confidential supervisory information and other information security matters. Employees are informed that a violation of these restrictions could lead to criminal prosecution.

Employees also receive ongoing ethics training and are required to do an annual certification that they understand and will adhere to the Bank's Code of Conduct. In addition, we use off-boarding procedures to confirm with departing employees that no confidential information may be taken. With respect to all New York Fed staff, departing Officers may have no official contact with the Federal Reserve System for a period of one year. In addition, all departing New York Fed employees may not have substantive business contacts with the New York Fed relating to any particular matter that he or she had worked on when employed by the New York Fed. Further, with respect to employees departing from the financial institution supervision group, if the departing employee had served as a senior supervisory officer or central point of contact at a large and complex banking organization, that employee may not receive compensation from the supervised organization as an employee, officer, director or consultant for a period of one year. Finally, the New York Fed has in place technology to help identify and prevent the forwarding of confidential information in violation of our rules.

So did this technology fail? Or is Goldman simply one of the exempted parties?

Selected Skeptical Comments


Is the NY FED trying to say that Goldman Sachs does not own shares in the New York Federal Reserve Bank?

The 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks, which were established by the
Congress as the operating arms of the nation's central banking system,
are organized similarly to private corporations--possibly leading to
some confusion about "ownership." For example, the Reserve Banks issue
shares of stock to member banks. However, owning Reserve Bank stock is
quite different from owning stock in a private company. The Reserve
Banks are not operated for profit, and ownership of a certain amount of
stock is, by law, a condition of membership in the System
. The stock may
not be sold, traded, or pledged as security for a loan; dividends are,
by law, 6 percent per year.


Goldman Sachs Bank USA ("GS Bank") is a New York State-chartered bank and a member of the Federal Reserve System.

Which is why it is a complete farce and racket to have The NY Federal Reserve Bank be responsible for regulating the member banks that own it.

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System has supervisory and regulatory authority over a wide range of financial institutions, including state-chartered banks that are members of the Federal Reserve System (state member banks), bank holding companies, thrift holding companies and foreign banking organizations that have a branch, agency, a commercial lending company subsidiary or a bank subsidiary in the United States...

Nice HH.

" Finally, the New York Fed has in place technology to help identify and prevent the forwarding of confidential information in violation of our rules. "

Fancy way of saying the NSA, eh?


insanelysane's picture

It takes two to tango. Goldman wacked a couple of employees but the FED has kept all of theirs. Apparently law enforcement led by Mr. Holder are undertaking another extensive "investigation."

Either that or they are waiting for a memo from Goldman detailing what their "investigation" found.

Bay of Pigs

They don't need to explain anything. The William Dudley's bio....

"Prior to joining the Bank in 2007, Mr. Dudley was a partner and managing director at Goldman, Sachs & Company and was the firm's chief U.S. economist for a decade."


If this was a just country, by now the FBI would have an undercover operation, bug Dudley and KHenry and obtain irrefutable evidence that would be enough to end the NY FED and put them behind bars.

As we don't, and Goldman owns the FBI, we watch and cringe at these masters of arrogance and corruption.

[Nov 19, 2014] Senate Report Reveals Powerful Manipulative Positions of Goldman, JPM In Global Commodities

"We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace--business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob."

Franklin D. Roosevelt

"Why is JP Morgan getting so much heat? Maybe because it is a massive international crime syndicate."

Matt Taibbi, Talking JPM With Sam Seder

JPM and Goldman sought and obtained manipulative powers in global commodities, even while they were being bailed out on the back of the American people? Oh no, nothing like this could be true, or so the shills and toadies of the moneyed interests will say. Just get the government out of our way, and everything will be all right. The market is naturally rational and efficient, pure and pristine. No Bank would risk its reputation by doing anything illegal.

Especially when they buy off and intimidate enforcement, write the laws, and do what they will.

I doubt that anything meaningful will be done about this. The corruption runs deep. In corporatism the private and public elites are largely interchangeable. Different roles, similar objectives.

The politicians may make a good show of it, and talk harshly to their witnesses. And then take their money, and lick their hands.

But at least we know more about what is true, and what is not.

Perhaps this may help you understand those who do not wish to remain under the power of the Banking cartel, and may be in a better position to do something about it.

Related: Wiseguys: Drawing Parallels Between the Mafia and Wall Street


Senate Report Criticizes Goldman and JPMorgan Over Their Roles in Commodities Market

By Nathaniel Popper and Peter Eavis

November 19, 2014

A two-year Senate-led investigation is throwing back the curtain on the outsize and sometimes hidden sway that Wall Street banks have gained over the markets for essential commodities like oil, aluminum and coal.

The Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase assumed a role of such significance in the commodities markets that it became possible for the banks to influence the prices that consumers pay while also securing inside information about the markets that could be used by the banks' own traders

Bankers from both firms, along with other industry executives and regulators, will testify about the allegations at hearings on Thursday and Friday.

The 400-page report, which was made public on Wednesday evening, included case studies on nine different commodities in which banks have taken big positions, including the 100 oil tankers and 55 million barrels of oil storage that were owned by Morgan Stanley, and the 31 power plants owned by JPMorgan at one point.

The subcommittee discussed several reasons that these commodity operations could create problems. The potential for price manipulation and the unfair advantage that banks can gain in these markets were among the top concerns expressed by Senator Levin and Senator John McCain, the top Republican on the subcommittee.

But both senators also echoed previous warnings that the enormous holdings of oil, uranium and other hazardous materials could expose the banks to significant legal liability that could, in turn, lead to runs on the banks.

A 2012 study by the Federal Reserve, cited in the report, found that banks have not put aside enough money and insurance to adequately prepare for the "extreme loss scenarios" involving commodities...

Read the entire article here.

[Sep 02, 2014] The End of Democracy as we Knew it by Bernd Hamm

Sep 02, 2014 |

2.1 The Rise of the Neocons

Americans regularly insist that the U.S. is the only global governing authority that underpins the world's security and prosperity, that without it, there would be widespread chaos, economic stagnancy, and far more frequent international warfare. The proponents of this conception emphasize the dependency of world order on US military, economic, diplomatic, and ideological capabilities (Falk, R., 2014). Falk mentions Michael Mandelbaum as the most passionate proponent of this position [9]. Recently Mandelbaum (2014) bluntly restated this argument, saying, "The United States stands alone as the world's de facto government." Though administered from its statist headquarters in Washington, according to its promoters, this form of world government is meta-political and unselfish, qualities that should be appreciated by all people of good will since the U.S. is contributing to the betterment of humanity (Kagan, R. 2006). Indeed, there was only one group on earth which claimed the right to global governance: the US neo-conservatives.

By the mid-1970s, then US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld began to argue that the Soviet government would be ignoring bilateral treaties and secretly building up weapons with the intention of attacking the United States. Together with Paul Wolfowitz he wanted to create a much more severe view of the Soviet Union, its intentions, and views about fighting and winning a nuclear war. When George H. W. Bush became Director of Central Intelligence in 1976, he set up a team of sixteen outside experts who were to take an independent look at highly classified data used by the intelligence community to assess Soviet strategic forces, commonly referred to as Team B [10]. Their allegations proved all wrong. The CIA director concluded that the Team B approach set "in motion a process that lends itself to manipulation for purposes other than estimative accuracy."

The "neo-conservative offensive" (Hamm, B., 2005, 1-18), which started in August 1971 with the Powell Manifesto (Nace, T., 2003 [11]), had its first great success when Ronald Reagan came into power und brought many of the neocon hawks with him. They had been in place before and were waiting for their chance. Ronald Reagan was the worst informed president, an old man who napped even in meetings of the National Security Council, and who perceived the world through the lens of Hollywood movies: "A man of limited knowledge but deep religious beliefs and strong conservative convictions, he provided little guidance on policy and had no interest in or grasp of detail. … Reagan's disengaged style and lack of foreign policy experience left the door open to palace intrigue among his subordinates, who were eager to fill the void" (Stone, O., Kuznick, P., 2013:421-4).

After the collapse of the socialist regimes the neocons lost influence while still opposing the foreign policy establishment of the republican Bush Sr. administration as well as of that of its democratic successor under President Clinton. Their major foreign policy concern was how to prevent the rise of a new rival. The Defense Planning Guide, a document prepared by the then Undersecretary for Defense Policy Paul Wolfowitz mentions: "Our most important goal is it to prevent to emergence of a new rival, whether on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, which would represent a threat similar to that of the former Soviet Union. This reflection governs the new regional defense strategy and demands that we prevent every hostile power to dominate a region the resouces of which would suffice to justify a claim to global power" [12].

In 1997, a group surfaced under the name of Project for a New American Century (PNAC), a think tank based in Washington, D.C. founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan. The PNAC's stated goal is "to promote American global leadership." Fundamental to the PNAC were the views that "American leadership is both good for America and good for the world" and support for "a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity." After the faked presidential elections of 2000 (Palast, G. 2002), its members came in numerous key administrative positions and the PNAC exerted influence on high-level government officials in the administration of George W. Bush and shaped its military and foreign policies.

As J. Petras (2013b) writes, the restoration of "direct US imperial interventions, unhindered by Congressional and popular opposition, was gradual in the period 1973-1990. It started to accelerate in the 1990's and then really took off after September 11, 2001" The first military test after the collapse of the Soviet empire was how Iraq President Saddam Hussein was lured into the Kuwait trap in 1990. The 28 nations "coalition of the willing" was bought together, and war was waged over the people of Iraq, a war that first was fought with murderous weapons, then with sanctions, and has continued until this very day. On January 16, 1998, members of the PNAC, including Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Robert Zoellick drafted an open letter to President Bill Clinton urging him to remove Saddam Hussein from power. They argued that Saddam would pose a threat to the United States, its Middle East allies, and oil resources in the region if he succeeded in maintaining what they asserted was a stockpile of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The PNAC also supported the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which some have regarded as evidence that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a foregone conclusion (Mackay, N., 2004).

It should not be forgotten that the war against Afghanistan, too, was being planned well before the 9/11 attacks. US officials had been in talks with the Taliban about building an oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea to Karachi, Pakistan, via Afghanistan in order to avoid crossing Iran. In July 2001, a German diplomat was reported saying that the talks ended with the announcement from the US side: "Either we cover you with a carpet of gold [if you comply], or we cover you with a carpet of bombs". Even the date when bombings would begin was given as October 2001 [13]. This had nothing whatsoever to do with the 9/11 attacks, nor with Osama bin Laden (Chossudovsky, M. 2005).

Rebuilding America's Defenses (September 2000), the most widely circulated document of the PNAC group, was developed by Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby, and devoted to matters of "maintaining US pre-eminence, thwarting rival powers and shaping the global security system according to US interests." Section V, entitled "Creating Tomorrow's Dominant Force", includes the sentence: "Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event––like a new Pearl Harbor". Though not necessarily implying that Bush administration members were complicit in those attacks, it was often been argued that PNAC members used the events of 9/11 as the "Pearl Harbor" that they needed––that is, as an "opportunity" to capitalize on in order to enact long-desired plans.

In a 2007 speech before the Commonwealth Club, retired General Wesley Clark cited a classified Pentagon Memorandum of 2001 (months before the September attacks) which read that the US would attack seven countries in the next five years, i.e. Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran in order to gain control over their natural resources, oil in the first place, and enable fabulous profits for the arms and oil industries. "Our country was governed by a group of paranoids like Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and others who wanted to destabilize the Middle East and gain control over its resources" [14].

By the end of 2006, PNAC was "reduced to a voice-mail box and a ghostly website", with "a single employee left to wrap things up". In 2006, Gary Schmitt, former executive director of the PNAC, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and director of its program in Advanced Strategic Studies, stated that PNAC had come "to a natural end." Instead, untiring neocon hawk Robert Kagan replaced it with the Foreign Policy Initiative [15].

[Sep 02, 2014] Thoughts on Neoconservatism and Neoliberalism by Hugh

08/19/2012 | Corrente

I got to thinking today about how neocon and neoliberal are becoming interchangeable terms. They did not start out that way. My understanding is they are ways of rationalizing breaks with traditional conservatism and liberalism. Standard conservatism was fairly isolationist. Conservatism's embrace of the Cold War put it at odds with this tendency. This was partially resolved by accepting the Cold War as a military necessity despite its international commitments but limiting civilian programs like foreign aid outside this context and rejecting the concept of nation building altogether.

With the end of the Cold War conservative internationalism needed a new rationale, and this was supplied by the neoconservatives. They advocated the adoption of conservatism's Cold War military centered internationalism as the model for America's post-Cold War international relations. After all, why drop a winning strategy? America had won the Cold War against a much more formidable opponent than any left on the planet. What could go wrong?

America's ability not simply to project but its willingness to use military power was equated with its power more generally. If America did not do this, it was weak and in decline. However, the frequent use of military power showed that America was great and remained the world's hegemon. In particular, the neocons focused on the Middle East. This sales pitch gained them the backing of both supporters of Israel (because neoconservatism was unabashedly pro-Israel) and the oil companies. The military industrial complex was also on board because the neocon agenda effectively countered calls to reduce military spending. But neoconservatism was not just confined to these groups. It appealed to both believers in American exceptionalism and backers of humanitarian interventions (of which I once was one).

As neoconservatism developed, that is with Iraq and Afghanistan, the neocons even came to embrace nation building which had always been anathema to traditional conservatism. Neocons sold this primarily by casting nation building in military terms, the creation and training of police and security forces in the target country.

9/11 too was critical. It vastly increased the scope of the neocon project in spawning the Global War on Terror. It increased the stage of neocon operations to the entire planet. It effectively erased the distinction between the use of military force against countries and individuals. Individuals more than countries became targets for military, not police, action. And unlike traditional wars or the Cold War itself, this one would never be over. Neoconservatism now had a permanent raison d'être.

Politically, neoconservatism has become the bipartisan foreign policy consensus. Democrats are every bit as neocon in their views as Republicans. Only a few libertarians on the right and progressives on the left reject it.

Neoliberalism, for its part, came about to address the concern of liberals, especially Democrats, that they were too anti-business and too pro-union, and that this was hurting them at the polls. It was sold to the rubiat has pragmatism.

The roots of neoliberalism are the roots of kleptocracy. Both begin under Carter. Neoliberalism also known at various times and places as the Washington Consensus (under Clinton) and the Chicago School is the political expression for public consumption of the kleptocratic economic philosophy, just as libertarian and neoclassical economics (both fresh and salt water varieties) are its academic and governmental face. The central tenets of neoliberalism are deregulation, free markets, and free trade. If neoliberalism had a prophet or a patron saint, it was Milton Friedman.

Again just as neoconservatism and kleptocracy or bipartisan so too is neoliberalism. There really is no daylight between Reaganism/supply side economics/trickledown on the Republican side and Clinton's Washington Consensus or Team Obama on the other.

And just as we saw with neoconservatism, neoliberalism expanded from its core premises and effortlessly transitioned into globalization, which can also be understood as global kleptocracy.

The distinctions between neoconservatism and neoliberalism are being increasingly lost, perhaps because most of our political classes are practitioners of both. But initially at least neoconservatism was focused on foreign policy and neoliberalism on domestic economic policy. As the War on Terror expanded, however, neoconservatism came back home with the creation and expansion of the surveillance state.

At the same time, neoliberalism went from domestic to global, and here I am not just thinking about neoliberal experiments, like Pinochet's Chile or post-Soviet Russia, but the financialization of the world economy and the adoption of kleptocracy as the world economic model.

jest on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 5:55am

I'm now under the opinion that you can't talk about any of the "neo-isms" without talking about the corporate state.

That's really the tie that binds the two things you are speaking of.

With neocons, it manifests itself through the military-industrial complex (Boeing, Raytheon, etc.), and with neolibs it manifests itself through finance and industrial policy.

For example, you need the US gov't to bomb Iraq (Raytheon) in order to secure oil (Halliburton), which is priced & financed in US dollars (Goldman Sachs). It's like a 3-legged stool; if you remove one of these legs, the whole thing comes down. But each leg has two components, a statist component and a corporate component.

The entity that enables all of this is the corporate state.

It also explains why economic/financial interests (neolib) are now considered national security interests (neocon). The viability of the state is now tied to the viability of the corporation.

lambert on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 9:18am

Corporate/statist (not sure "corporate" captures the looting/rentier aspect though). We see it everywhere, for example in the revolving door.

I think the stool has more legs and is also more dynamic; more like Ikea furniture. For example, the press is surely critical in organizing the war.

But the yin/yang of neo-lib/neo-con is nice: It's as if the neo-cons handle the kinetic aspects (guns, torture) and the neo-libs handle the mental aspects (money, mindfuckery) but both merge (like Negronponte being on the board of Americans Select) over time as margins fall and decorative aspects like democratic institutions and academic freedom get stripped away. The state and the corporation have always been tied to each other but now the ties are open and visible (for example, fines are just a cost of doing business, a rent on open corruption.)

And then there's the concept of "human resource," that abstracts all aspects of humanity away except those that are exploitable.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

jest on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 1:37pm

I like the term much better than Fascist, as it is 1) more accurate, 2) avoids the Godwin's law issue, and 3) makes them sound totalitarianist.

Yes, I would agree that additional legs make sense. The media aspect is essential, as it neutralizes the freedom of the press, without changing the constitution. It dovetails pretty well with the notion of Inverted Totalitarianism.

I think you could also make the argument that Obama is perhaps the most ideal combination of neolib & neocon. The two sides of him flow together so seamlessly, no one seems to notice. But that's in part because he is so corporate.

Lex on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 8:28am

Actually, neoliberalism is an economic term. An economic liberal in the UK and EU is for open markets, capitalism, etc. You're right that neoliberalism comes heavily from the University of Chicago, but it has little to do with American political liberalism.

A reading of the classical liberal economists puts some breaks on the markets, corporations, etc. Neoliberalism goes to the illogical extremes of market theory and iirc, has some influence from the Austrian school ... which gives up on any pretense of scientific exposition of economics or rationality at the micro level, assuming that irrationality will magically become rational behavior in aggregate.

Therefore, US conservatives post Eisenhower but especially post Reagan are almost certainly economic neoliberals. Since Clinton, liberals/Democrats have been too (at least the elected ones). You nailed neoconservative and both parties are in foreign policy since at least Clinton ... though here lets not forget to go back as far as JFK and his extreme anti-Communism that led to all sorts of covert operations, The Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Remember, the Soviets put the missiles in Cuba because we put missiles in Turkey and they backed down from Cuba because we agreed to remove the missiles from Turkey; Nikita was nice enough not to talk about that so that Kennedy didn't lose face.

"Don't believe them, don't fear them, don't ask anything of them" - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Hugh on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 3:57pm

I agree that neoconservatism and neoliberalism are two facets of corporatism/kleptocracy. I like the kinetic vs. white collar distinction.

The roots of neoliberalism go back to the 1940s and the Austrians, but in the US it really only comes into currency with Clinton as a deliberate shift of the Democratic/liberal platform away from labor and ordinary Americans to make it more accommodating to big business and big money. I had never heard of neoliberalism before Bill Clinton but it is easy to see how those tendencies were at work under Carter, but not under Johnson.

This was a rough and ready sketch. I guess I should also have mentioned PNAC or the Project to Find a New Mission for the MIC.

Hugh on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 10:44pm

I have never understood this love of Clinton that some Democrats have just as I have never understood the attraction of Reagan for Republicans. There is no Clinton faction. There is no Obama faction. Hillary Clinton is Obama's frigging Secretary of State. Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, both of whom served as Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary, were Obama's top financial and economic advisors. Timothy Geithner was their protégé. Leon Panetta Obama's Director of the CIA and current Secretary of Defense was Clinton's Director of OMB and then Chief of Staff.

The Democrats as a party are neoconservative and neoliberal as are Obama and the Clintons. As are Republicans.

What does corporations need regulation mean? It is rather like saying that the best way to deal with cancer is to find a cure for it. Sounds nice but there is no content to it. Worse in the real world, the rich own the corporations, the politicians, and the regulators. So even if you come up with good ideas for regulation they aren't going to happen.

What you are suggesting looks a whole lot another iteration of lesser evilism meets Einstein's definition of insanity. How is it any different from any other instance of Democratic tribalism?

Lex on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 11:49pm

Perhaps it should be pointed out that the Clintons became fabulously wealthy just after Bill left office, mostly on the strength of his speaking engagements for the financial sector that he'd just deregulated. Both he and Hillary hew to a pretty damned neoconservative foreign policy ... with that dash of "humanitarian interventionism" that makes war palatable to liberals.

But your deeper point is that there isn't enough of a difference between Obama and Bill Clinton to really draw a distinction, not in terms of ideology. What a theoretical Hillary Clinton presidency would have looked like is irrelevant, because both Bill and Obama talked a lot different than they walked. Any projection of a Hillary Clinton administration is just that and requires arguing that it would have been different than Bill's administration and policies.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that at that level of politics, the levers of money and power work equally well on both party's nomenklatura. They flock to it like moths to porch light.

That the money chose Obama over Clinton doesn't say all that much, because there's no evidence suggesting that the money didn't like Clinton or that it would have chosen McCain over Clinton. It's not as if Clinton's campaign was driven into the ground by lack of funds.

Regardless, that to be a Democrat i would kind of have to chose between two factions that are utterly distasteful to me just proves that i have no business being a Democrat. And since i wouldn't vote for either of those names, i guess i'll just stick to third parties and exit the political tribalism loop for good.

"Don't believe them, don't fear them, don't ask anything of them" - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

[Jan 10, 2014] The Roots of the Next Crisis, and the Dark Hallway Beyond

Jesse's Café Américain
"Those who fail to exhibit positive attitudes, no matter the external reality, are seen as maladjusted and in need of assistance. Their attitudes need correction...

Suddenly, abused and battered wives or children, the unemployed, the depressed and mentally ill, the illiterate, the lonely, those grieving for lost loved ones, those crushed by poverty, the terminally ill, those fighting with addictions, those suffering from trauma, those trapped in menial and poorly paid jobs, those whose homes are in foreclosure or who are filing for bankruptcy because they cannot pay their medical bills, are to blame for their negativity.

The ideology justifies the cruelty of unfettered capitalism, shifting the blame from the power elite to those they oppress."

Chris Hedges

Here is a recent conversation I had with a friend about the current state of the US recovery. As an accountant with a wide range of exposures, I enjoy hearing his perspective since I no longer have that sort of current insight into the corporate culture in America. I have years of background running large businesses in corporations, and some forays into large scale M&A work, so I have seen quite a bit of it. The methods rarely change, merely the guises and degrees.

Here are excerpts from his side of the conversation with only one parenthetical comment of my own.

"I don't think we're seeing profits in a traditional sense. Instead, it appears to me that we're watching a long, drawn out LBO'ing of America. It appears that companies are liquidating capital and returning it as opposed to earnings spreads on revenue.

It seems like we're seeing the final blow-off phase that started with the stock option becoming the primary form of compensation for corporate talent. By drawing out the LBO, they re-stock their options each year with a guaranteed return thanks to the Fed and their own Treasury Departments.

The problem is that you can't have systematic corporate buybacks with employment/economic growth as they create diametrically opposite outcomes. The more work I do, the more I conclude that the US economy has not expanded since 2006.

I was looking at mutual fund data the other day and it showed that people moved their fixed income money into domestic equity - $185 billion in liquidated bond funds to buy $175 billion in equity funds. This happened after the Fed announced tapering was on the table. Just like the gold market, I suspect that "someone" forced the liquidation of bond funds and herded the money into equity funds to keep the rally going. (I think it is perfectly reasonable to flee bond funds at any time that interest rates are turning higher. Bond funds often take it on the chin in such a deleveraging of a long term interest rate trend. However, I think the whole taper thing was hyped and used by the wiseguys, as are most things these days by our financial masters of the universe. - Jesse)

Coincidentally, corporations used half a trillion in cash flow on buybacks. It's a liquidity game but with limitations. What's the next asset that can be liquidated or levered? They're still working on gold but sometime soon, the price of gold will be set in the East, where the gold resides. Agricultural commodities are being liquidated but that ensures a drop in planting next year. Oil is too valuable on the geopolitical front to liquidate.

There are certainly winners in this economy but far more losers. At some point, the weight of the losers acts against the winners, many of whom are levered up with confidence. Corporations can liquidate equity capital but we all know how the LBO'd companies operated in the 1990's. In many ways, they've gotten corporations to behave like consumers did in the 2000's, only this time they're trained to buy back their own stock. Every cycle has natural limits.

We know that corporate cash flow is no longer growing and we know that it's more expensive to sell debt today than a year ago. We also know that the Fed sees the stock market as their proof of success. So how does this shakeout? If corporations are a lemon, how much juice can you squeeze out of the lemon?"

Although I do not wish to be an alarmist, I have to say that this trend of attempting to sustain the unsustainable has gone on longer than I had previously thought possible.

I am fairly sure that the next crisis will bring these things to a head and some sort of resolution. But therein also lies great danger. Philosophies that have grown time can have deep roots, and when faced with what to them is an intolerable change, can react somewhat excessively. They may even welcome the opportunity to act excessively and decisively, at least in their own minds, as the path to winning.

When a ruling subculture that has become accustomed to crushing and liquidating things for its own power and pleasure, whether it is natural resources, the environment, crops, animals, land, or social organizations, eventually runs out of things, it can become frustrated and angry in its seeming impotence to continue on, to keep expanding.

Indirectly and somewhat benignly at first, but with a growing efficiency and determination over time, it will begin with the weak and the defenseless, attacking and objectifying them, even in the most petty of ways and impositions. It will turn to its critics, and then everyone who is defined by them as 'the other.'

That is when a predatory social and economic philosophy can turn into pure fascism, and start liquidating people. And finally it liquidates and consumes itself.

But really, no one wakes up one morning and suddenly decides, 'Today I will become a monster, and wantonly kill innocent women and children.'

Otherwise ordinary people get to that point slowly, one convenient rationalization for their 'necessary and expedient' behavior at a time. After all, they are the good people, they are the strong, they are the most successful and the favored.

They are the entitled, and not these others who would seek to drain them, drag them back down. They are the champions of progress and achievement and civilisation, the hardest working, and the epitome of mankind.

What could possibly go wrong?

"He prompts you what to say, and then listens to you, and praises you, and encourages you. He bids you mount aloft. He shows you how to become as gods. Then he laughs and jokes with you, and gets intimate with you; he takes your hand, and gets his fingers between yours, and grasps them, and then you are his."

J. H. Newman, The AntiChrist

If you are one who thinks that the above 'could not possibly happen here,' and I am sure that there are many, you may wish to read the following vignette from modern US history. Alan Nasser, FDR's Response to the Plot to Overthrow Him

[Jan 10, 2014] The Recovery™ In One Chart

08 January 2014 | Jesse's Café Américain
"A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules...

Such an economy kills. "

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Francis I

"When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the Bank [of the United States]...

You are a den of vipers and thieves. I have determined to rout you out, and by the Eternal, (bringing his fist down on the table), I will rout you out."

Andrew Jackson

Corporatism by any other name, or brand...

h/t for the chart to those wild and crazy guys at GMU.

Posted by Jesse at 9:45 PM

Category: audacious oligarchy, corporatism, financial coup d'etat, potemkin, Second Bank of the United States

The Economic System of Corporatism

I think another important distinction between state capitlism and corporatism is that in state capitalism state control corporations (like was the case in the USSR), while in corporatism corporations control the state (like is the case in the USA).

The basic idea of corporatism is that the society and economy of a country should be organized into major interest groups (sometimes called corporations) and representatives of those interest groups settle any problems through negotiation and joint agreement. In contrast to a market economy which operates through competition a corporate economic works through collective bargaining. The American president Lyndon Johnson had a favorite phrase that reflected the spirit of corporatism. He would gather the parties to some dispute and say, "Let us reason together."

Under corporatism the labor force and management in an industry belong to an industrial organization. The representatives of labor and management settle wage issues through collective negotiation. While this was the theory in practice the corporatist states were largely ruled according to the dictates of the supreme leader.

One early and important theorist of corporatism was Adam Müller, an advisor to Prince Metternich in what is now eastern Germany and Austria. Müller propounded his views as an antidote to the twin dangers of the egalitarianism of the French Revolution and the laissez faire economics of Adam Smith. In Germany and elsewhere there was a distinct aversion among rulers to allow markets to function without direction or control by the state. The general culture heritage of Europe from the medieval era was opposed to individual self-interest and the free operation of markets. Markets and private property were acceptable only as long as social regulation took precedence over such sinfull motivations as greed.

Coupled with the anti-market sentiments of the medieval culture there was the notion that the rulers of the state had a vital role in promoting social justice. Thus corporatism was formulated as a system that emphasized the positive role of the state in guaranteeing social justice and suppressing the moral and social chaos of the population pursuing their own individual self-interests. And above all else, as a political economic philosophy corporatism was flexible. It could tolerate private enterprise within limits and justify major projects of the state. Corporatism has sometimes been labeled as a Third Way or a mixed economy, a synthesis of capitalism and socialism, but it is in fact a separate, distinctive political economic system.

Although rulers have probably operated according to the principles of corporatism from time immemorial it was only in the early twentieth century that regimes began to identify themselves as corporatist. The table below gives some of those explicitly corporatist regimes.

Corporatist Regimes of
the Early Twentieth Century
System Name Country Period Leader
National Corporatism Italy 1922-1945 Benito Mussolini
Country, Religion, Monarchy Spain 1923-1930 Miguel Primo de Rivera
National Socialism Germany 1933-1945 Adolph Hitler
National Syndicalism Spain 1936-1973 Francisco Franco
New State Portugal 1932-1968 Antonio Salazar
New State Brazil 1933-1945 Getulio Vargas
New Deal United States 1933-1945 Franklin Roosevelt
Greece 1936-1941 Ioannis Metaxas
Justice Party Argentina 1943-1955 Juan Peron

In the above table several of the regimes were brutal, totalitarian dictatorships, usually labeled fascist, but not all the regimes that had a corporatist foundation were fascist. In particular, the Roosevelt New Deal despite its many faults could not be described as fascist. But definitely the New Deal was corporatist.

The architect for the initial New Deal program was General Hugh Johnson. Johnson had been the administrator of the military mobilization program for the U.S. under Woodrow Wilson during World War I. It was felt that he did a good job of managing the economy during that period and that is why he was given major responsibility for formulating an economic program to deal with the severe problems of the Depression. But between the end of World War I and 1933 Hugh Johnson had become an admirer of Mussolini's National Corporatist system in Italy and he drew upon the Italian experience in formulating the New Deal. It should be noted that many elements of the early New Deal were later declared unconstitutional and abandoned, but some elements such as the National Labor Relations Act which promoted unionization of the American labor force are still in effect. One part of the New Deal was the development of the Tennessee River Valley under the public corporation called the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Some of the New Dealer saw TVA as more than a public power enterprise. They hoped to make TVA a model for the creation of regional political units which would replace state governments. Their goal was not realized. The model for TVA was the river development schemes carried out in Spain in the 1920's under the government of Miguel Primo de Rivera. Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the son of Miguel Primo de Rivera, was the founder of Franco's National Syndicalism.

Corporatist regime typically promote large governmental projects such as TVA on the basis that they are too large to be funded by private enterprise. In Brazil the Vargas regime created many public enterprises such as in iron and steel production which it felt were needed but private enterprise declined to create. It also created an organized labor movement that came to control those public enterprises and turned them into overstaffed, inefficient drains on the public budget.

Although the above locates the origin of corporatism in 19th century France it roots can be traced much further back in time. Sylvia Ann Hewlett in her book, The Cruel Dilemmas of Development: Twentieth Century Brazil, says,

Corporatism is based on a body of ideas that can be traced through Aristotle, Roman law, medieval social and legal structures, and into contemporary Catholic social philosophy. These ideas are based on the premise that man's nature can only be fulfilled within a political community.
The central core of the corporatist vision is thus not the individual but the political community whose perfection allows the individual members to fulfill themselves and find happiness.
The state in the corporatist tradition is thus clearly interventionist and powerful.

Corporatism is collectivist; it is a different version of collectivism than socialism but it is definitely collectivist. It places some importance on the fact that private property is not nationalized, but the control through regulation is just as real. It is de facto nationalization without being de jure nationalization.

Although Corporatism is not a familiar concept to the general public, most of the economies of the world are corporatist in nature. The categories of socialist and pure market economy are virtually empty. There are only corporatist economies of various flavors.

These flavors of corporatism include the social democratic regimes of Europe and the Americas, but also the East Asian and Islamic fundamentalist regimes such as Taiwan, Singapore and Iran. The Islamic socialist states such as Syria, Libya and Algeria are more corporatist than socialist, as was Iraq under Saddam Hussein. The formerly communist regimes such as Russia and China are now clearly corporatist in economic philosophy although not in name.

[Nov 20, 2013] How Washington D.C. Is Sucking The Life Out Of America

Zero Hedge

The root cancer at the core of the U.S., and indeed global economy, is cronyism and an absence of the rule of law when it comes to oligarchs. In the U.S., this cronyism is best described as an insidious relationship between large multi-national corporations and big government to funnel all of the wealth and resources of the nation to themselves at the expense of everyone else. In a genuine free market defined by heightened competition and governed by an equal application of the rule of law to all, the 0.1% does not aggregate all of a nation's wealth. This sort of thing only happens in crony capitalism, which is basically nothing more than complete and total insider deals to aggregate newly created money into the hands of the few. The following profile of Washington D.C.'s so-called "boom" from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch pretty much tells you all you need to know.

* * *

The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.
- Tacitus

Ever since I started writing about what is happening in the world around me, my primary theme has been that the root cancer at the core of the U.S., and indeed global economy, is cronyism and an absence of the rule of law when it comes to oligarchs. In the U.S., this cronyism is best described as an insidious relationship between large multi-national corporations and big government to funnel all of the wealth and resources of the nation to themselves at the expense of everyone else. In a genuine free market defined by heightened competition and governed by an equal application of the rule of law to all, the 0.1% does not aggregate all of a nation's wealth. This sort of thing only happens in crony capitalism, which is basically nothing more than complete and total insider deals to aggregate newly created money into the hands of the few.

The following profile of Washington D.C.'s so-called "boom" from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch pretty much tells you all you need to know. While I think the tone of the article is absurd considering this is no "economic boom," but merely parasitic wealth extraction on a unprecedented scale, it is still quite telling. It is no coincidence that as D.C. has grown wealthier, the nation has become much, much poorer. Key excerpts below:

The avalanche of cash that made Washington rich in the last decade has transformed the culture of a once staid capital and created a new wave of well-heeled insiders.

The winners in the new Washington are not just the former senators, party consiglieri and four-star generals who have always profited from their connections. Now they are also the former bureaucrats, accountants and staff officers for whom unimagined riches are suddenly possible. They are the entrepreneurs attracted to the capital by its aura of prosperity and its super-educated workforce. They are the lawyers, lobbyists and executives who work for companies that barely had a presence in Washington before the boom.

At the same time, big companies realized that a few million spent shaping legislation could produce windfall profits. They nearly doubled the cash they poured into the capital.

Sorry these aren't "entrepreneurs," they are parasitic opportunists.

At Cafe Joe, a greasy spoon near the National Security Agency in suburban Maryland, software engineers with top-secret clearances merely have to look at the place mats under their fried eggs to find federal contractors trying to entice them away from their government jobs with six-figure salaries and stock options. The place-mat ads cost $250 a week. They are sold out through 2014.

During the past decade, the region added 21,000 households in the nation's top 1 percent. No other metro area came close.

Two forces triggered the boom.

The share of money the government spent on weapons and other hardware shrank as service contracts nearly tripled in value. At the peak in 2010, companies based in Rep. James Moran's congressional district in Northern Virginia reaped $43 billion in federal contracts - roughly as much as the state of Texas.

Back in 2000, the company spent a mere $260,000 lobbying Congress, federal records show. Its lobbyists mostly talked to lawmakers about health care: medical manufacturing issues, Medicare reimbursement rates, privacy of health records, and congressional oversight of the Food and Drug Administration.

By the end of the decade, the company had broadened its horizons dramatically. "Government relations" now accounted for $2.6 million - a tenfold increase. On one quarterly disclosure report from 2010, Boston Scientific listed 35 different pieces of legislation on which it was lobbying. They included proposals on patent reform, tax penalties for moving American jobs abroad, tax credits for research and development, rules for transporting lithium batteries, limits on workers' ability to form labor unions and federal regulation of certain types of financial derivatives.

Government relations has become so important to the bottom line of a modern company, Becker said, that it should be a required course at business school. The numbers suggest she's right. Companies spent about $3.5 billion annually on lobbying at the end of the last decade, a nearly 90 percent increase from 1999 after adjusting for inflation, political scientist Lee Drutman notes in a forthcoming book, "The Business of America Is Lobbying."

And you wonder why the economy sucks?

Legal services also boomed, fueled by the growing complexities of federal business regulations. The number of lawyers in the D.C. metro area increased by a third from 2000 to 2012, nearly twice as fast as the growth rate nationwide. And those lawyers have the highest mean salaries in the country, according to George Mason University's Center for Regional Analysis.

The more companies spend on influence, the lower their effective tax rates and the higher their stock returns compared with competitors', according to recent research. A company called Strategas has built an index to track the stock performance of the 50 companies that lobby the most; last year, that index outperformed the rest of the market by 30 percent.

If you still are confused why the U.S. economy is completely stuck in the mud, look no further than the parasites of Washington D.C.

Full article here.

The Ghost of Authoritarianism in the Age of the Shutdown by Henry A Giroux

October 15, 2013

(Image: <a href="" target="_blank"> Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: cliff1066™, j / f / photos</a>)(Image: Jared Rodriguez

In the aftermath of the reign of Nazi terror in the 1940s, the philosopher Theodor Adorno wrote:

National Socialism lives on, and even today we still do not know whether it is merely the ghost of what was so monstrous that it lingers on after its own death, or whether it has not yet died at all, whether the willingness to commit the unspeakable survives in people as well as in the conditions that enclose them.1

.... ... ...

For Adorno, the conditions for fascism would more than likely crystallize into new forms. For instance, they might be found in the economic organization of a society that renders

"the majority of people dependent upon conditions beyond their control and thus maintains them in a state of political immaturity. If they want to live, then no other avenue remains but to adapt, submit themselves to the given conditions."3

In part, this speaks to the role of corporate-controlled cultural apparatuses that normalize anti-democratic ideologies and practices as well as to the paramount role of education in creating a subject for whom politics was superfluous. For Adorno, fascism in its new guise particularly would launch a systemic assault on the remaining conditions for democracy through the elimination of public memory, public institutions in which people could be educated to think critically and the evisceration of public spaces where people could learn the art of social citizenship, thoughtfulness and critical engagement. He also believed that the residual elements of the police state would become emergent in any new expression of fascism in which the corporate and military establishments would be poised to take power. Adorno, like Hannah Arendt, understood that the seeds of authoritarianism lie in the

"disappearance of politics: a form of government that destroys politics, methodically eliminating speaking and acting human beings and attacking the very humanity of first a selected group and then all groups. In this way, totalitarianism makes people superfluous as human beings."4

The American political, cultural, and economic landscape is inhabited by the renewed return of authoritarianism evident in the ideologies of religious and secular certainty that legitimate the reign of economic Darwinism, the unchecked power of capital, the culture of fear and the expanding national security state. The ghosts of fascism also are evident in what Charles Derber and Yale Magress call elements of "the Weimer Syndrome," which include a severe and seemingly irresolvable economic crisis, liberals and moderate parties too weak to address the intensifying political and economic crises, the rise of far-right populist groups such as the Tea Party and white militia, and the emergence of the Christian Right, with its racist, anti-intellectual and fundamentalist ideology.5 The underpinnings of fascism are also evident in the reign of foreign and domestic terrorism that bears down on the so called enemies of the state (whistleblowers and nonviolent youthful protesters) and on those abroad who challenge America's imperial mission; it is also visible in a growing pervasive surveillance system buttressed by the belief that everyone is a potential enemy of the state and should be rightfully subject to diverse and massive assaults on rights to privacy and assembly.6

... ... ...

During the past few decades, it has become clear that those who wield corporate, political and financial power in the United States thrive on the misery of others. Widening inequality, environmental destruction, growing poverty, the privatization of public goods, the attack on social provisions, the elimination of pensions and the ongoing attacks on workers, young protesters, Muslims and immigrants qualify as just a few of the injustices that have intensified with the rise of the corporate and financial elite since the 1970s. None of these issues are novel, but the intensification of the attacks and the visibility of unbridled power and arrogance of the financial, corporate and political elite that produces these ongoing problems are new and do not bode well for the promise of a democratic society.

Such failings are not reducible either to the moral deficiencies and unchecked greed of both major political parties or the rapacious power of the mega banks, hedge funds and investment houses. Those intellectuals writing to acknowledge the current state of politics in America understand the outgrowth of a mix of rabid racism, religious fundamentalism, civic illiteracy, class warfare and a savage hatred of the welfare state that now grips the leadership of the Republican Party.8 The new extremists and prophets of authoritarianism are diverse, and their roots are in what Chris Hedges calls the radical Christian right,9 Michael Lind calls the reincarnation of the old Jeffersonian-Jacksonian right10 and what Robert Parry and Andrew O'Hehir call racist zealots.11 All of these elements are present in American politics, but they are part of a new social formation in which they share, even in their heterogeneity, a set of organizing principles, values, policies, modes of governance and ideologies that have created a cultural formation, institutional structures, values and policies that support a range of anti-democratic practices ranging from the militarization of public life and acts of domestic terrorism to the destruction of the social state and all those public spheres capable of producing critical and engaged citizens.

Needless to say, all of these groups play an important role in the rise of the new extremism and culture of cruelty that now characterizes American politics and has produced the partial government shutdown and threatens economic disaster with the debt-ceiling standoff. What is new is that these various fundamentalist registers and ideological movements have produced a coalition, a totality that speaks to a new historical conjuncture, one that has ominous authoritarian overtones for the present and future. There is no talk among the new extremists of imposing only an extreme Christian religious orthodoxy on the American people or simply restoring a racial state; or for that matter is there a singular call for primarily controlling the economy. The new counter-revolutionaries and apostles of the Second Gilded age are more interested in imposing a mode of authoritarianism that contains all of these elements in the interest of governing the whole of social life. This suggests a historical conjuncture in which a number of anti-democratic forces come together to "fuse and form a kind of configuration" - a coming together of diverse political and ideological formations into a new totality.12 The partial government shutdown is a precondition and test run for a full coup d'état by the social formations driving this totality. And while they may lose the heated battle over the government shutdown and the debt ceiling, they have succeeded in executing their project and giving it some legitimacy in the dominant media.

Hiding beneath the discourse of partisan politics as usual, the authoritarian face of the new extremism is overlooked in the dominant media by terms such as "the opposing party," "hard-line conservatives"13 or, in the words of New York Times columnist Sam Tanenhous, the party of "a post consensus politics."14 In fact, even progressives such as Marian Wright Edelman fall into this trap in writing that "some members of Congress are acting like children - or, more accurately, worse than children."15 In this case, the anti-democratic ideologies, practices and social formations at work in producing the shutdown and the potential debt-ceiling crisis are not merely overlooked but incorporated into a liberal discourse that personalizes, psychologizes or infantilizes behaviors that refuses to acknowledge or, in fact, succumbs to totalitarian tendencies.

.... ... ...

Obama may not be responsible for the government shutdown and the debt ceiling crisis, but he can be charged with furthering a climate of lawlessness that feeds the authoritarian culture supportive of a range of political, economic and cultural interests. The American anti-war activist Fred Branfman argues that:

Under Mr. Obama, America is still far from being a classic police-state of course. But no President has done more to create the infrastructure for a possible future police-state. This infrastructure will clearly pose a serious danger to democratic ideals should there be more 9/11s, and/or increased domestic unrest due to economic decline and growing inequality, and/or massive global disruption due to climate change.23

The new extremists in the Republican Party are simply raising the bar for the authoritarian registers and illegal legalities that have emerged under Bush and Obama in the past decade - including the bailing out of banks guilty of the worst forms of corporate malfeasance, the refusal to prosecute government officials who committed torture, the undermining of civil liberties with the passage of the Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, the establishment of a presidential kill list and the authorization of widespread surveillance to be used against the American people without full transparency.

The current crisis has little to do with what some have called a standoff between the two major political parties. It is has been decades in the making and is part of a much broader coup d'état to benefit the financial elite, race baiters, war mongers and conservative ideologues such as the right-wing billionaires, David and Charles Koch, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Americans for Prosperity, the Club for Growth, the Heritage Foundation policy hacks and other extremist individuals and organizations that believe that democracy poses a threat to a government that should be firmly in the hands of Wall Street and other elements of the military-industrial-surveillance-prison complex.

... ... ...

In 2004, I wrote a book titled The Terror of Neoliberalism: The New Authoritarianism and the Eclipse of Democracy.33 What is different almost a decade later is a mode of state repression and an apparatus of symbolic and real violence that is not only more pervasive and visible but also more unaccountable, more daunting in its arrogance and disrespect for the most fundamental elements of justice, equality and civil liberties

... ... ...

To read more articles by Henry A. Giroux and other authors in the Public Intellectual Project, click here.

[Sep 06, 2013] William Greider on the New American Caste System (and the Slow Return to Liberalism) By David Dayen

January 27, 2011 can confirm the end of New Deal liberalism with the last couple years, although the dismantling begun in the 1970s.

We have reached a pivotal moment in government and politics, and it feels like the last, groaning spasms of New Deal liberalism. When the party of activist government, faced with an epic crisis, will not use government's extensive powers to reverse the economic disorders and heal deepening social deterioration, then it must be the end of the line for the governing ideology inherited from Roosevelt, Truman and Johnson.

Political events of the past two years have delivered a more profound and devastating message: American democracy has been conclusively conquered by American capitalism. Government has been disabled or captured by the formidable powers of private enterprise and concentrated wealth. Self-governing rights that representative democracy conferred on citizens are now usurped by the overbearing demands of corporate and financial interests. Collectively, the corporate sector has its arms around both political parties, the financing of political careers, the production of the policy agendas and propaganda of influential think tanks, and control of most major media.

That's a nice 150-word encapsulation of what has happened.

[Aug 27, 2013] The Unconscious Civilization by John Ralston Saul

Writing in the same iconoclastic spirit he brought to Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, Canadian writer Saul offers a damning indictment of what he terms corporatism, today's dominant ideology. While the corporatist state maintains a veneer of democracy, it squelches opposition to dominant corporate interests by controlling elected officials through lobbying and by using propaganda and rhetoric to obscure facts and deter communication among citizens.

Corporatism, asserts Saul, creates conformists who behave like cogs in organizational hierarchies, not responsible citizens. Moreover, today's managerial-technocratic elite, while glorifying free markets, technology, computers and globalization, is, in Saul's opinion, narrowly self-serving and unable to cope with economic stagnation.

His prescriptions include eliminating private-sector financing from electoral politics, renewing citizen participation in public affairs, massive creation of public-service jobs and a humanist education to replace narrow specialization. His erudite, often profound analysis challenges conservatives and liberals alike with its sweeping critique of Western culture, society and economic organization.

LeeBoy (Pine Bluff, Arkansas)

A coup d'etat in slow motion?, August 12, 2005

A key premise of the book is that a life worth living, the so-called examined life, the fully aware life cannot take place without individuals in the society being fully conscious - or without seeking the kind of self-knowledge that readily can be translated into action.

Saul maintains that we have a "new religion," the blind pursuit of self-interest. It is led by an ideology of "corporatism," which has deformed the American ideal of a life worth living into one devoid of a concept of the common public good. Through it, one of America's most noble ideas, that of "rugged individualism" has been sullied, distorted and transformed into an ideology of selfishness; an ideology that has so manipulated our reality that our the language and knowledge, usually placed in the service of actions and designed to improve our way of life, has become useless.

The corporate compartmentalization of, and distortion of public knowledge, and the accompanying enforced conformity has so confused us and has so muted our voices that knowledge no longer has any effect on our consciousness nor on our actions. Individual selfishness as "modeled" by corporate self-interest has hi-jacked Western civilization as we have come to know it.

The book describes how corporatism has accomplished this feat: It has used its own ideology of self-interest (and the promise of certainty that all ideologies promote) to render us passive and conformist in areas that matter and non-conformist in those that do not. This new pseudo or false individualism has the effect of immobilizing and disarming our civilization intellectually and thus renders it unconscious.

The most important way it does this is by denying and undermining the legitimacy of the individual as the primary unit and defender of, as well as the center of gravity of the public good. The public good becomes deformed by, and subordinate to, and equated with the narrow pursuit of corporate self-interests, as most often defined by the pursuit of profits and associated corporate perks. The hedonistic model of the corporate life is projected on to society writ large as the only life worth living.

The impetus for placing corporate interests (and the corporate model of our humanity) at center stage in the drama of Western Civilization, seems to have come about through the misconception that rugged individualism, democracy and our current understanding of the public good were once defined by, depend on, and proceed directly from, the pursuit of economic interests. This is a misconception because in actual fact exactly the reverse is true: It was notions of the public good as defined by democracy and individualism that gave rise to economic interests, and not the other way around.

Moreover, economic models have been so spectacularly wrong and unsuccessful, that they could not have survived without an ideology that renders the public unconscious. Saul suggests that even the best economic models amount to little more than passive tinkering. The fact that we have come to rely on them -- even though we know they are seriously flawed and have little or no basis in reality -- is compelling evidence of our lack of memory and thus, of our lack of collective consciousness.

According to the author, it is the proper use of knowledge and memory that renders us conscious (and thus by extension, also renders us human). The misuse of knowledge and memory through corporate and technological, manipulation, specialization and compartmentalization is just a deeper form of collective denial.

Said differently, (corporate generated) specialization creates its own illusions. When knowledge actually becomes confused and is sufficiently narrowed, compartmentalization promotes the illusion that knowledge is multiplied when in fact it has shrunken. It leaves the impression that more rather than less knowledge is being created. It promotes the illusion that truth is only what the specialist can measure; that "m (and more importantly that a managerial class is important and necessary). Finally, it creates the illusion that the ideology, which promotes corporatism, produces certainty (the main job of any ideology).

These illusions all have facilitated the corporate takeover of what would otherwise be seen as, the public interest. By doing so, the legitimacy of the individual as the center of gravity of the public good is crowded out, undermined and denied.

Thus the management elite, (with their suitcases full of money to buy off our elected representatives) like a cancer, is let loose on society. It lives within its own insulated cocoon creating an artificially interiorized sense of its own importance, wellbeing and its own distorted vision of civilization as a whole. Insulated from within, the management elite is free to grow without bounds, without accountability, and in complete disregard for the reality "out there," and always only to satisfy and service its own selfish needs. Truth is not in the world "out there" but is in what the professionals can measure and whatever is reported to these insulated elites. The deeper the insulated managerial class retreats into its own interiorized illusions of reality, the more confused language becomes and the less likely knowledge can be translated into actions that will effect the wider reality, and thus the public good.

In its pursuit to deny the legitimacy of the public good and to replace it with corporate econometric models of reality, Saul has traced the history of this process and gives many examples of how it works: through media propaganda, films, ads, music, sports and style-and always through insinuations of what is considered proper thought and ways of behaving.

One of the better examples he gives is how unemployment keeps getting redefined downward with no relation to the reality of the labor market but mostly to suit the needs of the neo-cons (the courtiers of the corporate elites). Or how, even as companies are losing money and are laying-off large numbers of ordinary workers, the salaries and incentive packages of the managerial elites continue to rise - often even until the very day the companies actually go bust.

Another example given is how through the process of globalization, that by the year 2020 the U.S. will be fully reduced to a Third World country. We are told that our future standard of living will depend entirely on globalization. Here globalization (like its companion concept, productivity) is a synonym for pegging workers' wage rates to the lowest wages available worldwide. It is never mentioned in such discussions that the salaries and incentive packages of the managerial elites will actually rise significantly as this "mother of all least common denominators economic formulas" is being applied to the lower end of the economic class scale. Taken to its logical conclusion, the salary of U.S. workers will equal those of Chinese peasants by 2020; and the corporate elites all will be filthy rich like Sam Walton. This "Wal-Martization" of America is already well in train.

Why are we so susceptible to being manipulated by corporate generated ideology and power? Saul gives an answer: We have an addictive weakness for large illusions that are tied to power and that can simplify our worldview by promising emotional certainty. The examples he gives are none other than the great religions themselves, and their spin-offs of Marxism, fascism and most of the autocratic governments of the past, including Hitler's Third Reich.

The roads to serfdom, or to fascism or communism (or pick your own ism) all intersect at the same ideology reference points: they begin as enforced social and political orthodoxy and conformity: first fashion and style; then the social enforcement of ways of thinking; and then patriotism is made into a religious-like requirement; after which rights and free speech are suppressed in the name of national security or loyalty to the state. One-by-one laws are suspended and then arbitrary arrests and disappearances begin; and finally the country is rendered completely passive and unconscious - compressed into a pseudo-patriotic religious trance.

In the modern era, this progression is by now all too familiar: It leads directly to the de-legitimatization of the citizen as the primary defender of the public good. This just as inevitably leads to handing over power to those whose self-interests are larger than their dedication to the preservation of the public good or even to the preservation and defense of the state itself.

The citizen then ceases to be able to determine what is, and is not real. He becomes immobilized like a child, unable to judge what is in his own best interests -- let alone what is in the best interest of the public good or the state. He is then forced to sing for his dinner and to dance to the corporate tune for any sense of wellbeing or self-worth. The "public good" becomes completely subordinate to the "corporate good."

What Saul admonishes us about is already imminently clear: that the kind of society we have is determined by where the true source of legitimacy lies. Today legitimacy in America -- that is its power, organization, and influence -- lies not in the vote and in stylized but impotent public citizen participation, but in the hands of the lobbyists, the technocrats, and the anti-democratic and anti-patriotic corporate vampires.

Saul did not need to tell us that all the serious decisions are now made in the back rooms without consulting the people. The best "the people" can hope for (and indeed what they yearn for) is that the decisions made over their heads will at least retain a semblance of emotional ideological purity.

While the corporate robber barons sneak out the back door to their off-shore tax havens (with the nations valuables in tow), the public good has been distorted and transformed into little more than "What I have" or into bumper sticker sized emotionalisms: the advancement of creative design and the right to post the Ten Commandments on the court house steps, abortion and gun rights, anti-Affirmative Action, states rights, etc. Because of its lack of consciousness, Americans have lost the ability to conceptualize a common good larger than their own immediate individual narrowly defined self-interests.

How do we get out of this coup d'etat in slow motion? Saul's answer is that we must change the dynamics of the process but he gives few specifics on how this can be done. This a great and very sobering read. Five stars.

Joyce (Bonham, Texas)

Makes the complex understandable, November 29, 2012

Saul has unusual skill in making complex entanglements understandable, colorful, and often humorous. His satire is biting. His irony is satisfying. His writing is dense with fresh insights about difficult subjects, so reading him is challenging at times but worth the effort. In this book, Saul explores how the dictatorship of reason unbalanced by other human qualities (common sense, ethics, intuition, creativity, memory) leads to the rational but antidemocratic structures of corporatism. He lays out the historical roots of corporatist doctrines (going back to Plato) and how they are so woven into our social fabric that they threaten the practice of democracy. He notes how our civilization is blinded to its true character by sentiment and ideology and argues that while Fascism was defeated in World War II, its corporatist doctrines are powerfully influencing our society today.

For Saul, one central aspect of the corporatist doctrine is its hijacking of the term "individualism," defining it as self-absorption or selfishness. Both Left and Right positions are based upon that definition. The Left agrees with the Right that individualism is selfishness, only it wants individual rights to be equally distributed and more fair. Whereas Saul talks about individualism thus:

"Rights are a protection from society. But only by fulfilling their obligations to society can the individual give meaning to that protection. . . Real individualism then is the obligation to act as a citizen."

And further:

"The very essence of corporatism is minding your own business. And the very essence of individualism is the refusal to mind your own business. This is not a particularly pleasant or easy style of life. It is not profitable, efficient, competitive or rewarded. It often consists of being persistently annoying to others as well as being stubborn and repetitive."

And further still:

"Criticism is perhaps the citizen's primary weapon in the exercise of her legitimacy. That is why, in this corporatist society, conformism, loyalty, and silence are so admired and rewarded."

Saul discusses the role that four economic pillars play in either accentuating or reducing our unconscious state as citizens: (1) the marketplace, (2) technology, (3) globalization, and (4) money markets.

Here is my summary of his lessons on these four.

  1. The danger of using the marketplace as our guide is that we are limiting ourselves to the narrow and short-term interests of exclusion. If we wish to lead society we must calculate inclusive costs.
  2. Business schools (following the "scientific management" Frederick Taylor brought to Harvard) treat men and women as mechanisms to be managed along with machines. And we are lining up students behind machines, educating them in isolation when what is really needed is to show them how they can function together in society.
  3. Trade cannot in and of itself solve societal problems. The main effect of globalization has been to shift the tax burden from large corporations onto the middle class. Adam Smith's repeated admonition has been ignored. It is: high wages are essential to growth and prosperity.
  4. Money is not a value in itself. Money in money markets is not available for taxation, and it doesn't really exist. It is pure speculation. We must see what is truly of value to society and reward those things.

This is only a bit of the clarity Saul's book gives us as citizens about what we are dealing with, empowering us with weaponry to overcome the Fascistic creation of corporatism.

Christopher (Seattle, Washington, USA)

A roundhouse shot at corporatist, group-think American life, March 19, 2002

"Are we truly living in a corporatist society that uses democracy as little more than a pressure release valve?"

Not satisfied with hurtling the literary hand-grenade of the 1990's, "Voltaire's Bastards", into the midst of our oblivious Western society, John Ralston Saul has now equipped his metaphorical sniper rifle, and in his crosshairs is the 'deviant class' which has destabilized our American dream. In "The Unconscious Civilization", Saul targets `corporatist' groups, the special interests (both economic and social) which have lulled citizens into replacing their own thoughts with those of factions who magically (and absurdly) claim to represent their beliefs and dreams.

"One of the difficulties faced by citizens today is making sense of what is presented as material for public debate, but is actually no more than the formalized propaganda of interest groups. It is very rare now in public debate to hear from someone who is not the official voice of an organization."

Characteristic of Saul's previous work, "The Unconscious Civilization" is a firm, wind-knocking shot to the gut. But luckily for you, your opponent is also teaching you how to fight. Hear him shout: `Stand up, slothful citizen. Your constitution is failing.'

"The statistics of our crisis are clear and unforgiving. Yet they pass us by--in newspapers, on television, in conversations--as if they were not reality. Or rather, as if we were unable to convert knowledge into action."

Do you feel protected by the Internet, by the millions of voices which you feel will conglomerate to represent you? So how's it working for you so far? Sure we have information, but what the hell good is it doing for the spirit of our nation?

"Knowledge is more effectively used today to justify wrong being done than to prevent it. This raises an important question about the role of freedom of speech. We have a great deal of it. But if it has little practical effect on reality, then it is not really freedom of speech. Without utility, speech is just decorative."

In this work, Saul scopes out the corporatist mindset, the coalescence of many minds into one body with only one voice (corpus from Latin, meaning body), which has invaded business, politics, and civil society alike. The result is chilling, for when we rise to speak, we find our individual words have different meanings to each of these bodies. As a consequence, we are learning to speak less.

"In a corporatist society there is no serious need for traditional censorship or burning, although there are regular cases. It is as if our language itself is responsible for our inability to identify and act upon reality."

We may be blind to the corporatist processes, but we should be able to fairly see their results. In politics: 38% voter turnout rates, lowest political convention viewership, the quashing of third-party voices; in business: the plastering of disclaimers, sloganeering, and that opaque wall of business-speak between every salesman and their customer; in civil society: the inability to progress in conversation without soundbites, and the number of people who flat-out don't want to talk to you.

This partition of words has not obstructed John Ralston Saul, though. An advocate of "aggressive common sense", Saul portrays himself correctly as a classic liberal, defender and klaxon for the citizen, neither champion nor foe of the marketplace.

"The market does not lead, balance, or encourage democracy. However, properly regulated it is the most effective way to conduct business."

"Every important characteristic of both individualism and democracy has preceded the key economic events of our millennium. What's more, it was these characteristics that made most of the economic events possible, not vice-versa."

John Ralston Saul's work consists of five chapters loosely based off a series of 1995 lectures at the University of Toronto. Like "Voltaire's Bastards", Saul here is discursive and entertaining; each chapter is a new dive into an invigorating Arctic lake of realization. Chapter One, "The Great Leap Backwards" launches the assault. The remaining chapters focus on reconstruction... their titles: "From Propaganda to Language", "From Corporatism to Democracy", "From Managers and Speculators to Growth", "From Ideology Towards Equilibrium".

Moderately mistitled (resulting in a one-point demerit in the overall review score), a more appropriate title for this book would have been "The Corporatist Civilization". A true attack on the `unconscious' among us would have been welcome, though Saul does meander briefly into this realm, with a few sections that fit cozily into the overall thesis:

"Perhaps the difficulty with the psychoanalytic movement is that from the beginning it has sent out a contradictory message: Learn to know yourself--your unconscious, the greater unconscious. This will help you to deal with reality. On the other hand, you are in the grip of great primeval forces--unknown and unseen--and even if you do know and see them, it is they who must dominate."

One-quarter the size of "Voltaire's Bastards", Saul this time out initiates a concise attack: on utopias, ideology, technocracy, demagoguery, and group mentality... all of which direct the individual to replace their view of the world with that of an `official spokesman', eerily reversing the vector of our society towards a fascist state. An insightful read; terse, but somewhat condensed and abstract at places. The trade-offs are more than acceptable, though. Steel yourself for a barrage of Truth.


Lacks The Big Picture, July 3, 2000

John Ralston Saul is considered one of the great humanist essayists of this time. That is true but he is also very much a man of our times, with both the advantages and disadvantages of the current Weltanschauung. I bought this book after having read some rather rave reviews and had high expectations. I can't say that I have got anything from this book that I didn't already have or suspect. He's reinforced some of my opinions without adding to my empherical knowledge to back them. The concept of the individual, individualism if you will, is dominant today, representing a narrow and superficial deformation of the Western idea. Market Capitalism does not guarantee democracy; you can have poor democracies and prosperous dictatorships. Today we are in an unconscious process of masochistic suicide destroying the very substance of our public institutions, institutions which were the products of decades of thought and democratic debate, all in the pursuit of making things more `effective', more `business-like'. . . So according to Saul, and on target IMHO, but what does this all mean? What can we draw from these intermediate conclusions?

He then goes on to describe the crisis that grips the West, which he dates from 1973. Bureaucratic thinking and rationalization continue to manipulate our perceptions, dominate and drive our existence, controlled by what he describes as `Corporatism'. He states,

"the corporatist movement was born in the nineteenth century as an alternative to democracy. It proposed the legitimacy of groups over that of the individual citizen." Pp16-17

Napoleon, Hegel and Bismarck helped the process along by emphasizing rule by elites and adherence to the state. This was all only a lead up to the great

"new all-powerful clockmaker god - the marketplace - and his archangel, technology. Trade is the marketplace's miraculous cure for all that ails us. . . I would suggest that Marxism, fascism and the marketplace strongly resemble each other. They are all corporatist, managerial and hooked on technology as their own particular golden calf." Pp19-20

...Weber warned of the dangers of bureaucracy, of how capitalism mated with ever increasing rationalization and technological innovation would become a very difficult beast to control. He also warned against the subversion of democratic institutions by powerful non-democratic groups with oligarchic tendencies. Saul's view on the triumph of rationalism is also, by the way, influenced by Weber. So instead of damning Weber he should be thanking him. Here we see the tendency so common among US (and Canadian) intellectuals today of putting the blame for their perceived crisis on foreign thinkers (usually German or French) who have some how lead the well-intentioned, but all too trusting North Americans astray. Alan Bloom, on the right, was guilty of the same thing in his The Closing of the American Mind. In all, this tendency represents a mixing up of cause and effect. If you want to look for a foreign culpret, how about the English Utilitarians who put morally accepted self-interest and quest for profit in the service of individual gain above anything else? An attitude that has since then been enthusisatically and uncritically accepted by the mass of American intellectuals.

What is Saul's solution? Persistent public commitment by the citizenry can turn the tables on corporatism. But how, given the power that Saul says the elites have to manipulate and control all the spheres of our existence? What of their ability to define "freedom" in wholly consumerist terms, making it a mere matter of material choice? As long as the US Constitution allows for majority rule, the public will have the last say, but how to mobilize the public, how to educate them as to defending their best interests when the reigns of mass communication are in the hands of the corporatists? How do we make the interests of society take priority over the interests of profit? The moral dilemma in all this is ignored by Saul who distrusts anyone who even mentions it. Unable to follow Nietzsche's lead he stumbles. Nietzsche, alas a foreigner, was also primarily a moralist. Morals are important since they shape the way that we adjust to the struggle for our very existence in an ever more competitive world. While a sense of the spiritual is necessary, the vast bulk of our actions, the reality we must deal with in our every day lives, is economic due to the pervasive market system which is the very air we breathe. It is therefore very much man-made, synthetic, something that has been grafted onto society, not a component of it. Morals are as necessary now as when we lived in small farming communities, since it is by working together, by accepting each others' strengths and weaknesses, by learning to control our own impulses and irrational drives and by accepting the inate worth of each person that we insure not only our own but the survival of our species in the coming hard winter. A, "myth-building" exercise you say, but is it any more a myth than that of "the Market corrects itself and all we need do is trust in it"?

Since the end of the 18th Century we in the West have lost almost every remnant of our pre-Capitalist past. We have forgotten our entire community or social or human-to-human history, we are unable to recall when an action did not infer some sort of self-benefit. We fail to see that the so-called Third World is as we were two hundred years ago. It is not a question of scientific or technological or commercial progress, in the most human sense, but of the maturing and decay of an ideological-based social system.

Saul's main drawback is that he lacks the indepth knowledge of the numerous disciplines necessary for this very complex subject. That and `distance' since he approaches the problem with far too many preconceptions. A much better book in a related subject is Karl Polanyi's The Great Transformation. His history of the market economy provides much of the background necessary to illuminate our current situation. Few if any thinkers today have the breadth of knowledge to provide the big picture of our current post-modern situation. Men like Max Weber, who had a encyclopedic knowledge of several wide fields of study no longer walk the earth. Still a much more refined, yet wide view which would include a fuller understanding of social economics, history, political science, sociology, theology and philosophy is necessary in order to get a grip on the tendencies which are slowly eating away our society and threaten to turn us all into what Max Weber described as "a culture of specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart".

Herbert L Calhoun

Wake up and Smell the Oil Wal-Mart Shoppers, August 10, 2005

If the doubling, in less than a year, of the price of oil for no discernable reason (with no end in sight), and with absolutely no reaction from us or our government is not evidence that something is terribly wrong with our collective mind. Then surely an order of magnitude increase in the cost of medical care and prescription drugs, and the quintupling of our health insurance (for those of us who have any), should be.

Or, one might have imagined that the juxtaposition of soaring corporate profits (in these very same areas) with an effective reduction in "actual wages" everywhere else, would also have shaken us from our deep collective slumber?

Or maybe the fact that we have been led into yet another war for no defensible reasons and without either an exit strategy or a fighting plan -- a war whose justifications and rationale keeps changing with each increased attack from the terrorists as our national debt continues to soar -- would have shaken us out of our passivity.

While our government's response to the needs of the "rank-and-file" is increasingly non-existent, or completely ineffectual, and the "managerial class" continues to rob us blind as they laugh all the way to the bank; we are obsessed with the risk of breast implants, abortion rights, hanging the Ten Commandments in the public square, reality shows (that are anything but real), Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, and how to continue to win at the game of "Democrats and Republicans (or liberals and conservatives, or Blacks versus Whites, or males versus females, or pick your own senseless emotional dichotomy)."

But the very best evidence yet of our lack of consciousness and proof that our society is being thrown under the bus while we watch in horror with our eyes wide open, is when the most devastating critique of our own slothfulness is also the sanest, most compassionate and most eloquent.

Saul in this trenchant sanity check of the society that leads the Western World realizes that the time for vitriol and shouting has long since passed. That is why with eloquence, understated passion and with measured but devastating logic and reason (that quality he so distrusts), he has issued a broadside at the foundation stone of what ails our society most: Rampant and immoral Corporatism.

And even though in the end, his prescription for how we are to extricate ourselves from this dilemma is unconvincing, he has laid the necessary groundwork for serious thinking to begin. If "the people" in Western Democracies are ever to regain control of their minds, and then eventually their societies; Saul's ideas in this small volume must inevitably be contended with.

A Customer

Saul is a modern secular prophet!, March 28, 1999

You can add the name John Ralston Saul to those of Noam Chomsky, Ivan Illich, Franz Fanon (and who else?) on your list of the key late 20th century 'global conspiracy theorists' - people who are visionary seers/prophets who have unorthodox views and make outrageous pronouncements on this and that, but with whom you have to broadly agree. Because they operate outside the conventions of fixed ideologies, they're able to see the broader picture, and see more deeply into the nature of things.

The Unconscious Civilization - the 1995 Massey Lectures - was written in an oral style by Canadian freelance intellectual, essayist and novelist John Ralston Saul.

His thesis is disarmingly simple: in the long line of history's totalitarianisms, we can now add undemocratic 'corporatism'.

Our society, he argues, is only superficially based on the individual and democracy.

[Aug 19, 2013] Shiller Why Innovation Is Still Capitalism's Star

Shiller plays a sock puppet of corporatist propaganda...
Economist's View

Tom Shillock

We are indeed fortunate that Dr. Robert Pangloss Shiller has shared his edifying personal story about how to be innovative and successful through hard work and self-financing. A more straightforward example of the psychological phenomenon of projection would be hard to find.

Phelps' observation about institutions is not a "disturbing trend" but reality. While institutions are necessary for the efficient functioning of large industrial societies they also stifle whatever gets in their way. America has become largely a society of institutions not citizens. It is slightly exaggerated to say that the average citizen enjoys rights to the extent of the power of the institution/s he or she belongs to. Individuals with wealth enjoy rights in proportion to their wealth, an elite institution.

Too many of America's institutions, private and public, steer the country in rather the ways that they and the wealthy did in the latter part of the 19th century when the government was much smaller. The result is an increasingly ossified Kafkaesque society. The interests and power of institutions makes them refractory to change no matter the toll they take on society. The mega financial institutions are the best recent example. They (along with help from politicians and the Fed) caused the Great Recession but have yet to be reformed. Their executives have the power to avoid criminal prosecution even indictment e.g,, HSBC. Savings and Loan executives were not as powerful.

Health care institutions such as medical insurance and the pharmaceutical companies blocked reform of health care to the detriment of America. Physicians and health care organizations like hospitals block public disclosure of their performance while fleecing patients and society.

Public and private universities like Yale have institutionalized themselves as expensive tollbooths to employment not unlike those imposed on river traffic between 800 and 1800 on the Rhine by nobility and the Holy Roman Empire.

Before 1980 the government more or less enforced the laws against monopolies and other illegal combinations and collusion. This gave individuals and smaller companies with innovative ideas and products something of a chance and created an "innovator's dilemma" for large ossified companies. Creating economic and market space for innovators helped. Using government money to fund "incubators" or entrepreneurs is just another way to finance R&D for large corporations who buy up the innovators. It reinforces institutional interests and arrangements.

anne said in reply to Tom Shillock...

We are indeed fortunate that Dr. Robert Pangloss Shiller has shared his edifying personal story about how to be innovative and successful through hard work and self-financing. A more straightforward example of the psychological phenomenon of projection would be hard to find....

[ Projection, perfect and perfectly blinding. As for the individual-institutional tension or conflict, that is simply copying John Kenneth Galbraith, but sadly with no particular focus that would allow an extension of the ideas of Galbraith after all these decades since "Countervailing Power." ]

Randy :

I don't think it is correct to think of innovation as something done by Ayn Rand heroes. Most innovation is small and incremental, and most of it is done by workers and/or customers. A different kind of oil here, a different resistor there, a few minor but useful modifications to an algorithm today, and a few suggestions for more tomorrow. But the way property laws and customs exist today, the real innovators seldom get any financial reward for it. If they're really lucky, they get a nod and a wink in the staff meeting while the management team takes all the credit.

Second Best :

There's too much emphasis on future innovation compared to efficiency losses caused by corporatism blocking existing innovation.

For example consider what AT&T and Verizon have done to phone service and the internet, essentially returning to an industry structure similar to the early days of the Ma Bell monopoly, except with a dominant unregulated monopoloy (a duopoly only if areas are served by both) free to extract maximum economic rent while choking off bandwidth, volume throughput and access with an underbuilt system intentionally denied technology ungrades in many areas.

This is common in many industries in different ways, where the market power acquired may not reach that evident in telecommunications but is still substantial. Of course the important new version of market power since Ma Bell comes on a global scale from MNCs.

The great irony is corporations achieve overwhelming lock-in of economic power politically in the name of innovation when in fact, they selectively trample the impact of past innovation and block competitive new innovation at the same time.

What innovation is left for themselves is used to maximize productive efficiency for which most gains are distributed to themselves rather than consumers and labor, through targeted administered pricing disciplined more by market power and price discrimination than competition.

No amount of pollyanish localized new innovation is going to break through the entry barriers going forward until legal action is used to break up the vast network of monopoly and oligopoly power already in place.

Google eats the world by Rebecca Solnit

Finally, journalists have started criticizing in earnest the leviathans of Silicon Valley, notably Google, now the world's third-largest company in market value. The new round of discussion began even before the revelations that the tech giants were routinely sharing our data with the National Security Agency, or maybe merging with it. Simultaneously another set of journalists, apparently unaware that the weather has changed, is still sneering at San Francisco, my hometown, for not lying down and loving Silicon Valley's looming presence.

The criticism of Silicon Valley is long overdue and some of the critiques are both thoughtful and scathing. The New Yorker, for example, has explored how start-ups are undermining the purpose of education at Stanford University, addressed the Valley's messianic delusions and political meddling, and considered Apple's massive tax avoidance.

The New York Times recently published an opinion piece that startled me, especially when I checked the byline. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the fugitive in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, focused on The New Digital Age, a book by top Google executives Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen that to him exemplifies the melding of the technology corporation and the state.

It is, he claimed, a startlingly clear and provocative blueprint for technocratic imperialism, from two of our leading "witch doctors who construct a new idiom for United States global power in the twenty-first century." He added, "This idiom reflects the ever closer union between the State Department and Silicon Valley."

What do the US government and Silicon Valley already have in common? Above all, they want to remain opaque while making the rest of us entirely transparent through the capture of our data. What is arising is simply a new form of government, involving vast entities with the reach and power of government and little accountability to anyone.

Google, the company with the motto "Don't be evil", is rapidly becoming an empire. Not an empire of territory, as was Rome or the Soviet Union, but an empire controlling our access to data and our data itself. Antitrust lawsuits proliferating around the company demonstrate its quest for monopoly control over information in the information age.

Its search engine has become indispensable for most of us, and as Google critic and media professor Siva Vaidhyanathan puts it in his 2012 book The Googlization of Everything,

"[W]e now allow Google to determine what is important, relevant, and true on the Web and in the world. We trust and believe that Google acts in our best interest. But we have surrendered control over the values, methods, and processes that make sense of our information ecosystem."

And that's just the search engine. About three-quarters of a billion people use Gmail, which conveniently gives Google access to the content of their communications (scanned in such a way that they can target ads at you). Google tried and failed to claim proprietary control of digital versions of every book ever published; librarians and publishers fought back on that one. As the New York Times reported last fall, Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, summed the situation up this way:

"Google continues to profit from its use of millions of copyright-protected books without regard to authors' rights, and our class-action lawsuit on behalf of US authors continues."

The nonprofit Consumer Watchdog wrote to the attorney general on June 12th urging him "to block Google's just announced $1 billion acquisition of Waze, developers of a mobile mapping application, on antitrust grounds... Google already dominates the online mapping business with Google Maps. The Internet giant was able to muscle its way to dominance by unfairly favoring its own service ahead of such competitors as Mapquest in its online search results. Now with the proposed Waze acquisition, the Internet giant would remove the most viable competitor to Google Maps in the mobile space. Moreover it will allow Google access to even more data about online activity in a way that will increase its dominant position on the Internet."

The company seems to be cornering the online mapping business, seems in fact to be cornering so many things that eventually they may have us cornered.

In Europe, there's an antitrust lawsuit over Google's Android phone apps. In many ways, you can map Google's rise by the litter of antitrust lawsuits it crushed en route. By the way, Google bought Motorola. You know it owns YouTube, right? That makes Google possessor of the second and third most visited Websites on earth. (Facebook is first, and two more of the top six are also in Silicon Valley.)

Imagine that it's 1913 and the post office, the phone company, the public library, printing houses, the US Geological Survey mapping operations, movie houses, and all atlases are largely controlled by a secretive corporation unaccountable to the public. Jump a century and see that in the online world that's more or less where we are. A New York venture capitalist wrote that Google is trying to take over "the entire fucking Internet" and asked the question of the day: "Who will stop Google?"

The tipping point

We ask that question all the time in San Francisco, because here Google isn't just on our computers, it's on our streets. I wrote earlier this year about "the Google bus" - the armadas of private Wi-Fi-equipped luxury buses that run through our streets and use our public bus stops, often blocking city buses and public transit passengers while they load or unload the employees taking the long ride down the peninsula to their corporation of choice. Google, Apple, Facebook, and Genentech run some of the bigger fleets, and those mostly unmarked white buses have become a symbol of the transformation of the city.

... ... ...

Like Gandhi, only with guns

Enough minions of Silicon Valley's mighty corporations could arrive to create a monoculture. In some parts of town, it already is the dominant culture. A guy who made a fortune in the dot-com boom and moved to the Mission District (the partly Latino, formerly blue-collar eye of the housing hurricane) got locals' attention recently with a blog post titled "Douchebags Like You are Ruining San Francisco". In it, he described the churlish and sometimes predatory behavior of the very young and very wealthy toward the elderly, the poor, and the nonwhite.

He wrote, "You're on MUNI [the city bus system] and watch a 20-something guy reluctantly give up his seat to an elderly woman and then say loudly to his friends, 'I don't know why old people ride MUNI. If I were old I'd just take Uber.'" Yeah, I had to look it up, too:, a limousine taxi service you access via a smartphone app. A friend of mine overheard a young techie in line to buy coffee say to someone on his phone that he was working on an app that would be "like Food Not Bombs, to distribute food, only for profit." Saying you're going to be like a group dedicated to free food, only for profit, is about as deranged as saying you're going to be like Gandhi, only with guns.

"An influx of techies will mean more patrons for the arts," trilled an article at the Silicon Valley news site Pando, but as of yet those notable patrons have not made an appearance. As a local alternative weekly reported, "The tech world in general is notoriously uncharitable: According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, only four of 2011's 50 most generous US donors worked in tech, despite the fact that 13 of Forbes 50 Richest Americans in 2012 had made some or all of their fortunes in tech."

Medici in their machinations, they are not Medici-style patrons. There is no noticeable trickle-down in the Bay Area, no significant benevolence toward the needy or good causes or culture from the new tech fortunes.

Instead, we get San Francisco newcomer, Facebook CEO, and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg pursuing his own interest with ruthless disregard for life on Earth. This year, Zuckerberg formed a politically active nonprofit,, that sought to influence the immigration debate to make it easier for Silicon Valley corporations to import tech workers. There has been no ideology involved, only expediency, in how pursued its ends. It decided to put its massive financial clout to work giving politicians whatever they wanted in hopes that this would lead to an advantageous quid pro quo arrangement.

Toward that end, the group began running ads in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline (that will bring particularly carbon-dirty tar sands from Canada to the US Gulf Coast) to support a Republican senator and other ads in favor of drilling in Alaska's pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to support an Alaskan Democrat.

The takeaway message seemed to be that nothing is off limits in pursuing self-interest, and that the actual meaning and consequences of these climate-impacting projects was not of concern at least to that 29-year-old who's also the 25th richest person in the United States. (To give credit where it's due: Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk, Paypal cofounder and electric car mogul, quit Zuckerberg and his Valley associates were pushing things they didn't care about and demonstrating that they didn't care about much except what makes their corporations run and their profits rise. Here, where the Sierra Club was founded in 1892 and many are environmentally minded, this didn't go over well. Protests ensued at Facebook headquarters and on Facebook itself.

Rising hostility to the tech surge in San Francisco is met with fury and bewilderment by many Silicon Valley employees. They tend to sound like Bush-era strategists dumbfounded that the Iraqis didn't welcome their invasion with flowers.

Here's something else you should know about Silicon Valley: according to Mother Jones, 89% of the founding teams of these companies are all male; 82% are all white (the other 18% Asian/Pacific Islander); and women there make 49 cents to the male dollar. Silicon Valley female powerhouses like Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg get a lot of attention because they're unusual, black swans in a lake full of white swans.

As Catherine Bracy, on whose research Mother Jones based its charts, put it, "The current research I've seen shows that wealth creation from the tech industry is extremely unequally distributed, and current venture capital is going overwhelmingly to a small, homogeneous elite." That's what's encroaching on San Francisco.

... ... ...

The Armada of the .0001%

If Google represents the global menace of Silicon Valley, and Zuckerberg represents its amorality, then Oracle CEO Larry Ellison might best represent its crassness. ...

Rebecca Solnit is just winding up several months as a research fellow at Stanford Libraries and Stanford's Bill Lane Center for the American West. Her work there will lead to a book about California history, but her new book, out this month, is The Faraway Nearby.

Used with permission TomDispatch

[Jul 10, 2013] Fundamentalist Christians, Science, and the Democracy Logos by Lawrence Davidson

Is financial oligarchy a "special interest group" as Lawrence Davidson suggests? I think it is more of a class.

Democracy has a very positive connotation for most modern peoples. It suggests that the individual citizens are important and that their opinions will be paid attention to by those they elect to political office. In a modified fashion, this is true. Take, for instance, democracy in the United States. The U.S. is not exactly a democracy of individuals whose numbers run to over 300 million. It is instead, a democracy competing interest groups. These interest groups are made up of subsets of the population–that is individuals who have come together based on shared interests and outlooks. They pool their voting numbers and financial capabilities and approach the elected government bodies as collectives. In that way they manage to exert (in the form of lobbies) much more influence than an individual voter ever could.

There are numerous examples of such special interests. Are you a retired or older American concerned about maintaining social security and medicare? Then join the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). This organization has a membership of approximately 40 million citizens. When it speaks, the politicians in the U.S. government tend to listen. Are you a gun afficionado who fears losing your alleged Second Amendment right to go around the neighborhood with an automatic weapon? Then join the National Rifle Association (NRA). This organization has approximately 4.5 million members and has successfully prevented meaningful gun control laws from being enacted. Similar special interest groups exist on the foreign policy side of the U.S. political scene and have proved influential enough to control American policy toward individual countries such as Cuba and Israel as well as entire regions such as the Middle East.

[Jul 10, 2013] Reversing the Labor Movement's Free Fall by Stanley Aronowitz


Everybody is aware that unions are in free-fall. In 2013 they represent less than 7% of private sector workers. And, while unions are still numerically dense among workers in the public sector-they represent a third-the recent assaults on collective bargaining at the state and local levels, the o% four year wage settlements in New York and elsewhere, and the leadership's pervasive fear of breaking no-strike contracts and state

laws, has weakened them. In short let us begin by stipulating the crisis of Organized Labor. Rather than dwelling on the woes, this article will address only two aspects of the crisis: some of the historical and structural factors that have contributed to unions' demise; and what can be done to reverse labor's outrageous fortune.

After more than a decade of steady retreat during the 1920s and early 1930s, in 1933 and 1934 the labor movement experienced a dramatic rebirth. Without the crutch of law or the state's approbation, workers in the mines, garment shops, textile mills, North and South, truck companies, auto factories, and the docks staged mass strikes for union recognition, against wage cuts and onerous working conditions and in some instances against the timidity and class collaboration by the mainstream AFL unions. Some of these struggles were conducted by or within established unions but others, particularly in the Minneapolis and San Francisco general strikes and the Toledo Auto Lite walkout were conducted by insurgencies against both the corporations and the old unions.

The Roosevelt administration was alarmed. The first New Deal, 1933-35, was an effort to revive industrial production and finances by giving federal funds to banks and imposing corporatism upon industrial relations in which labor was assigned a subordinate role. The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) set up tri-partite industry boards-business, labor and public members-to regulate wages, prices and profits. With the exceptions of the apparel and mining industries, labor had little leverage over board decisions. Workers' wages were often frozen, and their power to impose better working conditions was severly limited. Radicals judged the NIRA as an American version of industrial fascism because it paralleled the Italian example. This perception was reinforced when, after promising to bring textile employers to the bargaining table, Roosevelt persuaded the AFL union leaders to call off the 400,000 worker strike. He reneged on his promise and 7000 activists were blacklisted from the industry, many of them Southern women. Roosevelt's betrayal contributed to the tough sledding unions faced in the American South for decades.

According to historian Richard Hofstadter Roosevelt, therefore, "stumbled" into social reform. The mass strikes prompted pro-administration Congress members to cooperate with the administration in proposing a new form of regulation: the Wagner Act (NLRA) granted workers the right to form unions "of their own choosing" and provided a series of procedures for determining whether and how workers could form unions that would be recognized by law and therefore by their employers. It also encouraged collective bargaining to resolve labor disputes. Organized Labor did not renounce the strike weapon-indeed before final Supreme Court approval in 1937 of the new labor law Akron rubber workers and Flint and Cleveland auto workers staged factory occupations termed sit-down strikes rather than conventional walkouts to gain recognition, a tactic which the Supreme Court outlawed in 1938 because workers violated the most sacred of all common laws: the sanctity of private property. But with the notable exception of what Jeremy Brecher termed the 1946 general strike that embraced almost all of the major production industries, the wildcat walkouts in auto in the 1950s and 1970s, the historic 1959 116 day steel strike over the right of workers to negotiate over the introduction of new technology, and the early 1960s strikes among teachers and other public workers for union recognition, in private sector organizing the strike weapon mostly gave way to the Board-supervised representation election and to arbitration to resolve labor disputes. The public workers' strike wave of the 1960s prompted many state legislatures and the federal government to outlaw strikes as a condition of granting union recognition. Most public employees' unions readily accepted the deal because it brought millions of new members into the unions and strengthened collective bargaining, a goal that had become primary for all unions since the New Deal. As a result few public workers' unions forged their culture in the baptism of fire; during organizing campaigns one of the main messages to workers was that there would be little risk if they joined the union.

The post-war labor movement became an ardent devotee of the union contract, especially its main features: locked -in wages, work-rules that gave unions some power over the labor process, a series of benefits that constituted, in effect, a private welfare state, and by limiting management's right to fire workers arbitrarily, a degree of job security. The union contract was the most important concrete expression of the new social contract. It signified that Labor accepted the prevailing capitalist economic system, management's control over the production and distribution of goods and services, and the law of labor relations in which workers rights and responsibility were rigorously enforced by the company and the union. In this regime the union becomes a partner of capital as well as a representative of its members, the tension between the two roles that is more or less constant.

Labor's adaptation to legalism was a symptom of its embrace of the key elements of modern liberalism: a new social contract with capital that provided union recognition (except in the South); steady wage increases at least until the late 1970s; a privately-funded social wage following the failure of national health care legislation in 1949 and the stagnation of old age (social security) benefits, and the privatization of workers' housing. And, besides becoming a devotee of the law and the Democratic party, Labor became a major ally of the post-war administration's permanent war program: perpetual off-shore military and economic interventions, huge defense contracts that some union leaders viewed in terms of full employment, and anti-communism at home and abroad.

The post-war unions were among the most reliable allies of the Cold War. Conservative and progressive unions alike conducted a relentless purge of Communists and others who refused to cooperate with Congressional committees and government agencies in fingering fellow radicals. The Taft-Hartley amendments of 1947 to the Labor Relations Act not only barred Communists from holding union office, but barred unions from conducting solidarity strikes-sympathy, secondary boycotts, refusal of workers to handle struck goods and gave the US president the right to impose and 80 day strike prohibition when the "national interest" was involved. The CIO and many AFL unions blasted Taft-Hartley and vowed to seek its repeal. Brave words notwithstanding, the mainstream labor movement failed to mount a concerted campaign and after some refused to sign the requisite non-communist affidavits, dutifully fell in line. Even Miners president John L. Lewis and former CIO president who characterized Taft-Hartley as a "slave labor act" finally submitted to the law. Meanwhile the CIO expelled 11 of its affiliates for alleged Communist dominations and deprived the labor movement of many of its most militant and capable institutions and activists. The Auto, Steel, Electrical and Machinists unions spent much of the 1950s raiding the left-wing unions. By the mid-1950s many on the left determined that discretion was the better part of resistance; they re-entered the mainstream unions after publicly renouncing their Communist pasts or, in some cases, quietly quitting the CP. After the smoke cleared only the United Electrical Workers and the West Coast Longshore unions remained independent. Eventually Longshore re-entered the AFL-CIO, but UE has held out to this day.

Why did the unions fail to unshackle themselves from government control? One reason was that they were comfortable with the anti-Communist restrictions. Eliminating a large fraction of the Left protected the leadership from criticism and potential opposition. Another is that the CIO was actively distancing itself from its own history. It no longer had a taste for direct action but instead sought respectability and stability in labor relations. And, the progressives no less than the business unions became devoted to electorism as a strategy rather than relying, primarily, on organizing. Less than a decade after the enactment of Taft-Hartley, in 1955 the two federations merged. Among its impetuses was to halt the fierce competition that marked the 20 years since the founding of the CIO. Never mind that most CIO unions were no longer repositories of direct action and other forms of industrial conflict. The leaders of both federations sought labor peace and, indeed, in the midst of post-war relative prosperity, fueled, in part, by Corporate America's domination of world markets, the ordinary processes of collective bargaining were able to register continuous improvements in workers' living standards. And the Labor Board elections were resolved, generally, in unions' favor. By 1953, unions represented more than a third of private sector workers. The South, professional and technical workers, and the retail and wholesale trades posed the greatest challenges. Of course, until the 1960s, unions were painfully weak in the public sector, a condition that was soon to change. By the end of that decade, unions were on the way, especially in state and local jurisdictions, and in the Post Office. But Labor's increasing density barely disguised growing rank and file discontent. Labor-management cooperation in auto, coal mining and steel prompted wildcat strikes and, by the mid-1970s a burgeoning rank and file that expressed itself as opposition slates for top and many local union offices. The auto and steel rank and file movements did not succeed at the national level , but Miners for Democracy took union power. The established leadership was shaken ,but remained unbowed in most instances where a rank and file mounted a challenge.

Until the late 1960s the AFL-CIO was a bastion of support for the war policies of the Kennedy-Johnson administrations and with the exception of some important unions like the Auto Workers and the growing public unions, were opposed to the militant civil rights movement and when not indifferent were hostile to feminism and environmentalism. With the exception of its core support for expanding the social wage, Organized Labor drifted to the right on most social issues, a position that alienated many young people women, blacks and Latinos. Although it was never true that women and blacks were not part of the labor movement, the public face of the unions was, in the main, white, male and middle-aged. Intellectually the unions were part of the backwater of society; more to the point, when American unions took an interest in International Labor affairs where ideas matter, they aligned with US foreign policy which encouraged and often financed anti-communist, antirevolutionary unions in Italy, France, Africa and Latin America.

Having been integrated into law and prevailing capitalist social relations during the New Deal and its successors, Labor's fate was further sealed by its profound anti-radical stances during the second social movements' upsurge of the 1960s and early 1970s. Even as US political hegemony was under siege in many developing countries, the American century in economic terms was challenged by the reemergence of Japan, Germany and France which became export societies on the basis of technologies that were, for various reasons, more advanced that those practiced by US industrial corporations. And the productivity of US industrial workers declined, largely due to shop-floor resistance. US corporations responded in two principal ways: intense technological investments reduced the relatively high wage force within the United States. And Northeastern and Middle Western-based industries moved first to the American South and then to Mexico and to the countries of Southeast Asia.

Unions adapted to these changes rather than waging struggles against plant closings and the emergence of Southeast auto, textile and metal-working factories. For example, the Auto Workers permitted the Big Three to move South, provided they agreed to unionize them. The union's compliance was by no means innocent. The Mid-west, especially Detroit, was a hotbed of opposition to the national leadership. In effect, the union colluded with management to diffuse discontent. Wages were not reduced, but since the plants were generally relocated in rural or small town areas, the chance of shop-floor disruption was sharply reduced. And, displaced union members had the right to relocate as well.

However, other unions faced plant closings with far less bargaining power. Most relocated plants reopened on a non-union basis but the unions were either unable or unwilling to commit to a Southern organizing strategy that would entail a long-term presence in the communities without an immediate chance of obtaining recognition or winning a union contract. Having failed in the immediate post-war years to make significance organizing gains in the South, the AFL-CIO unions were hesitant to drain their resources on Mexico, Guatamala and Southeast Asia because even the non-union workers in the US made too much money in the wake of global competition . The apparel industries were the first to go, but within a few decades Chinese contractors for Apple, Hewlett Packard and other companies were employing millions of workers in the production of computers and electronic parts. And, in textiles, whose Southern base traced to the 1920s, even the mechanization of the industry failed to inhibit migration to China and India. By the late 1990s, the South had been partially deindustrialized. Its economic woes became an occasion for European and Japanese auto corporations to install "transplants", all of them non-union. The UAW's sporadic efforts to organize Nissan and other plants have been unsuccessful. As of this writing, there are 13 transplants, among them a huge 4000 worker Nissan assembly plant in Mississippi. The union is engaged in organizing drive there. This time it has forsaken the hit and run pattern of Southern organizing, declaring it will engage the community, not only the plant, on a long-term basis. Whether the lessons of the recent past have been fully assimilated remains to be seen.

Two contrary developments in the post-war economy have almost completely missed Organized Labor's attention. The first was linked to the technological revolution and the expansion of health care. In technology the programming and systems analytic basis of computerization of both the industrial and service workplaces demanded the creation of a whole new series of job categories. From less than 4% of the labor force at the close of world war two, by the 1980s they had almost tripled in size. By the year 2013 they were just about 20% of the workforce or about 16 million. Many are wage and salaried workers and an expanding number are so-called "contractors" who do not draw a salary but are paid by the job and are offered no benefits. Although they are contingent workers because they are obliged to seek new employment when the job is finished, those with high qualifications such as computer engineers and website designers usually find new contracts. But lower down in the ladder, in times of economic slum programmers systems analysts and middle managers have trouble finding a job. In New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco many public high-tech employees are union members. But with few exceptions-the Communication Workers (CWA) efforts among Microsoft workers in Seattle, a small engineers union on the East Coast and technical workers at GM's Detroit area Tech center-unions have made almost no efforts to organize intellectual labor in high-tech.

[Jul 10, 2013] Corporatism in the United States Today

Democratic Underground
Perhaps the greatest threat to freedom and democracy in the world today comes from the formation of the unholy alliances between government and business. This is not a new phenomenon. It used to be called fascism… The outward appearances of the democratic process are observed, but the powers of the state are diverted to the benefit of private interests.George Soros

"I fear what they're doing… is setting the crown for a corporate state…. And by that I mean a rather small but very powerful circle of financial institutions… also some industrial corporations… Too big to fail… protected by (government)… The leading banks and corporations… will have the means to monopolize democracy."

– William Greider, discussing the Geithner plan to address our economic crisis, in an interview with Bill Moyers, March 27, 2009.

The United States and the other Allied Nations fought World War II against the Fascist nations of the world, which posed a severe and imminent danger to world-wide freedom and livelihood. The United Nations was conceived by President Roosevelt and brought to fruition largely by the efforts of President Truman with an eye towards identifying future fascist threats to world freedom and imposing a barrier against them.

Definition of fascism

The Fascism that we fought against is often defined by its warning signs, which include:

1. Powerful and continuing nationalism; 2. Disdain for human rights; 3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause; 4. Supremacy of the military; 5. Rampant sexism; 6. Controlled mass media; 7. Obsession with national security; 8. Interweaving of religion with government; 9. The combining of government and corporate power (corporatism); 10. Suppression of labor; 11. Disdain for intellectuals and the arts; 12. Obsession with crime and punishment; 13. Rampant cronyism and corruption, and; 14. Fraudulent elections.

These warning signs of fascism can be seen as combining two major groups of characteristics: corporatism (# 9) and scapegoating alleged enemies as a unifying cause (# 3). Those two characteristics represent the core of fascism. The other traits follow as a consequence of those core characteristics.

Nationalism (# 1) is the ultimate unifying cause that fascists aim to produce. The "nation" takes precedence over all else, and anyone who doesn't fall in line is an "enemy" of the state. Disdain for human rights (# 2) follows, as the "enemy" is dehumanized, thus rationalizing its brutal repression. Disdain for intellectuals (# 11) is necessary because they are among the most likely to speak out against the state – and they make a convenient enemy.

Corporatism requires corruption (# 13) because governments are supposed to serve their people; therefore, when they decide to serve corporate power instead, that by definition constitutes corruption. Suppression of labor (# 10) is necessary for the corporatist state because labor is the natural enemy of excessive corporate power.

The connection between corporatism and scapegoating

Why the connection between the scapegoating of enemies as a unifying cause and corporatism? In a corporatist state, the corrupt alliance between government and corporate power means that power and wealth are concentrated among a small elite few at the top, which leads to corresponding lack of power and wealth among the vast majority of the population, with corresponding great potential for mass suffering. The corporatist state must find a way to convince these great masses of people to happily accept their fate. The scapegoating of alleged enemies has been found to be one of the best ways to do this. Item #s 4, 6, 7, 8, 12, and 14 in the warning list are just more methods that the corporatist state uses to keep its subjects in line.

The vicious cycle of increasing corporate power

In the United States today, the deepening ties between our government and private corporate power is bringing us dangerously close to the kind of fascism/corporatism that we fought against in World War II. The fact that bribery of government officials, in the form of "campaign donations", is essentially legal in our country, has opened the door to the merging of government and corporate power that defines fascism. Corporate propaganda and monopolization of our airways has opened the door still wider. Worse yet, it creates a vicious cycle. Corporate money is used to bribe government officials to pass legislation favorable to their agenda, which inevitably leads to further increase in corporate wealth and power. It has gotten to the point where a majority of our elected officials at the federal level feel dependent upon corporate contributions to remain in office. Even many of those who may have basically good intentions have succumbed to the need to placate corporate power. In so doing, they prioritize the desire of a small minority of corporate elites above the needs of the vast majority of their constituents. The bottom line is that corporations have become powerful enough to enter into corrupt bargains with government, thereby enabling private corporations and government to mutually enrich each other at the expense of everyone else. This is the tyranny of fascism. With that in mind, let's consider how we got to this point:

The Rise of Corporate Tyranny in the United States

A corporation has been defined as:

The most common form of business organization, and one which is chartered by a state and given many legal rights as an entity separate from its owners. This form of business is characterized by the limited liability of its owners…
In 1819, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the state of New Hampshire when it attempted to revoke the corporate charter of New Hampshire, in Dartmouth College v. Woodward. New Hampshire citizens were outraged by that decision, arguing that corporations are created by the state, with the purpose of serving the public interest.

In a democracy, ALL actions of the state should be to serve the public interest. If the state grants a charter to a corporation, it should have the right to regulate that corporation in the public interest, in return for the privileges that it bestows upon the corporation.

The threat of corporate power at the founding of our nation

Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations", published in the same year (1776) as the U.S. Declaration of Independence, expounded on the advantages of a free market economic system, while at the same time warning of the dangers of corporations. That seems ironic on the surface, since today's right wingers constantly push their own version of the "free market", while using Smith as their authority.

But in reality, Smith was deeply antagonistic towards any view of so-called "free market" principles that favored corporations – the very opposite of the stance advocated by today's right-wing movement. This is what Smith had to say about the effect of corporate power on free markets:

It is to prevent this reduction of price, and consequently of… profit, by restraining that free competition which would most certainly occasion it, that all corporations, and the greater part of corporation laws, have been established… This prerogative of the crown seems to have been reserved rather for extorting money from the subject, than for the defense of the common liberty against such oppressive monopolies.

David Corten explains that our Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution that coincided with it were in large part a reaction against the same corporate abuses that Smith warned against in "The Wealth of Nations":

It is noteworthy that the publication of The Wealth of Nations and the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence both occurred in 1776. Each was, in its way, a revolutionary manifesto challenging the abusive alliance of state and corporate power to establish monopolistic control of markets and thereby capture unearned profits and inhibit local enterprise. Smith and the American colonists shared a deep suspicion of both state and corporate power.
The conferring of corporate personhood

There is nothing in our Declaration of Independence, nor our Constitution, nor any of the amendments to our Constitution that conferred special rights or privileges upon corporations. Indeed, as late as 1855 the U.S. Supreme Court made perfectly clear, in Dodge v. Woolsey, that corporations have no special rights or privileges, and that they are subservient to the American people:

That the people of the States should have released their powers over the artificial bodies (i.e. corporations) which originate under the legislation of their representatives… is not to be assumed. Such a surrender was not essential to any policy of the Union, nor required… Such an abandonment could have served no other interest than that of the corporations, or individuals who might profit by the legislative acts themselves. Combinations of classes in society, united by the bond of a corporate spirit, for the accumulation of power, influence, or wealth… unquestionably desire limitations upon the sovereignty of the people… But the framers of the constitution were imbued with no desire to call into existence such combinations…
But in 1886, in an unofficial opinion by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite, before any oral arguments took place in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, and without any explanation whatsoever, Waite simply announced:
The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does.
This offhand statement – which cannot possibly constitute an official opinion of the court, which is always preceded by extensive research and debate – has since been considered the law of the land.

And as such it greatly increased the power of corporations against individuals by allowing them the protections given to persons under our Constitution, even though corporations are simultaneously showered with various powers that actual persons don't have and exempted from many of the responsibilities and obligations that actual persons have. David Korten puts this in perspective in his book, "When Corporations Rule the World":

Thus corporations finally claimed the full rights enjoyed by individual citizens while being exempted from many of the responsibilities and liabilities of citizenship.

Furthermore, in being guaranteed the same right to free speech as individual citizens, they achieved, in the words of Paul Hawken, "precisely what the Bill of Rights was intended to prevent: domination of public thought and discourse."

The subsequent claim by corporations that they have the same right as any individual to influence the government in their own interest pits the individual citizen against the vast financial and communications resources of the corporation and mocks the constitutional intent that all citizens have an equal voice in the political debates surrounding important issues.

The restraint of corporate power by FDR

Excessive corporate power led to vast disparities of wealth, which in the late 19th Century became known as the Gilded Age. This culminated in the Stock Market Crash of 1929, which led to the Great Depression and the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as President.

FDR aggressively criticized the conditions that led to this state of affairs in his 1936 Democratic Convention speech to the American people. In that speech he condemned the men who were responsible for the nation's economic woes, whom he referred to as "Economic Royalists".

Out of this modern civilization economic royalists carved new dynasties. New kingdoms were built upon concentration of control over material things. Through new uses of corporations, banks and securities, new machinery of industry and agriculture, of labor and capital … the whole structure of modern life was impressed into this royal service. There was no place among this royalty for our many thousands of small business men and merchants who sought to make a worthy use of the American system of initiative and profit.

The privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over Government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction. In its service new mercenaries sought to regiment the people, their labor, and their property. And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man.

The hours men and women worked, the wages they received, the conditions of their labor – these had passed beyond the control of the people, and were imposed by this new industrial dictatorship. The savings of the average family, the capital of the small business man, the investments set aside for old age – other people's money – these were tools which the new economic royalty used to dig itself in.

The abuses of power that FDR detailed in that speech provided much of the rationale for his New Deal, which lifted tens of millions of Americans out of poverty and created a vibrant middle class, while taxing corporations at unprecedented levels.

The New Deal didn't just fade away after FDR's death. Instead, due to its stunning success, most of its components lasted for decades. Largely as a result of this, we experienced for the next three decades what Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman calls "the greatest sustained economic boom in U.S. history". Beginning in 1947, when accurate statistics first became available, median family income rose steadily (in 2005 dollars) from $22,499 in 1947 to more than double that, $47,173 in 1980.

The "Reagan Revolution" reversal of New Deal economic policy

With the advent of the Reagan Revolution in 1981, characterized by a return to the "free market" ideology of the Gilded Age, the route marked out by FDR was reversed. Since that time, except for a brief respite during the latter years of the Clinton presidency, the income of American workers has been virtually stagnant, despite large increases in American productivity which have enriched the already wealthy.

The reign of "free-market" ideology has been characterized by an ideological ban against government intervention in economic matters to help those who most need it, which played out domestically and internationally. William Greider, in his book, "Come Home, America – The Rise and Fall (And Redeeming Promise) of our Country", explains how this played out on the international stage:

The World Trade Organization enforces rules that protect capital investors and corporations, but it has no rules protecting workers and communities, that is, people. The so-called Washington Consensus – a stern dogma imposed on developing countries that borrow from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund preaches that national governments must not try to protect their people from the harsh side effects of capital and commerce. America's representative democracy, meanwhile, is offered as the model the world should follow, despite the democratic breakdown that Americans well know is in progress

Greider mentions globalization as another of the factors contributing to the demise of the United States. However, he also notes that other nations are affected by globalization just as much as the United States is, and yet other industrialized nations have much less economic inequality than the United because they are not bounded by the inflexible right wing ideology of the so-called "free market".

James Galbraith, in his book, "The Predator State", explains why globalization and free trade agreements need not cause serious adverse effects for American workers, if only we would give up that radical "free market" ideology that the right wingers have foisted upon us:

The populist objective is to raise American wages, create American jobs, and increase the fairness and security of our economic system… Is there a better way to do this…? Of course there is – and that is to do it directly. You want higher wages? Raise them. You want more and better jobs? Create them.

In other words, our government should work directly for the average American, not the corporatocracy using the rationale that expansion of corporate wealth will "trickle down" to everyone.

Corporate propaganda to pervert our concept of democracy

In addition to routinely bribing government officials to promote their agenda, the corporatocracy has bombarded the American people for several decades with incessant propaganda aimed at perverting our concepts of the workings of democratic government, in order to gain our acquiescence in their continuing power grabs:

Perversion of the concept of "freedom"

The concept of freedom has become perverted in our county. Freedom has been defined as "the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints" – and that's how most people use it. Another way of saying that is "the power to do whatever one wants to do".

As an absolute concept, it is not plausible or reasonable or even possible for a functioning society to allow its members such powers – for a very simple reason. The freedom of the powerful to do whatever they want tends to impinge tragically on the freedom of the vulnerable members of society. Some men for example like to rape women. But enabling them to do that whenever they want would impinge on the freedom of women not to be raped. The vast majority of people realize that giving men the freedom to rape at will would be a very bad idea.

At the societal level, powerful corporations often dump vast quantities of poisons into the air, soil, and water without having to bear the costs or other consequences of their activities. Most Americans agree that such activities should be prohibited or otherwise strongly regulated, or that corporations that engage in such activities should be made to bear the costs or other consequences – in other words, that the "freedom" of corporations to pollute and ruin our environment should be strictly controlled. Yet, corporate power in the United States has perverted the concept of "freedom" to justify ever more unrestricted expansion of their power, with the consequent diminishment of freedom for the vast majority of Americans.

George Lakoff discusses the nuances and frequent contradictions of the word "freedom" in great detail in his book, "Whose Freedom – The Battle over America's Most Important Ideal". Here is an one of many excerpts from that book that make the point of how the freedom of the few often diminishes the freedom of the many:

The focus of (George Bush's) presidency is defending and spreading freedom. Yet, progressives see in Bush's policies not freedom but outrages against freedom. They are indeed outrages against the traditional American ideal of freedom… It is not the American ideal of freedom to invade countries that don't threaten us, to torture people and defend the practice, to jail people indefinitely without due process, and to spy on our own citizens without warrant…
Bill Moyers discussed this idea in an article titled "A New Story for America". He notes how Ronald Reagan put our country on the road to fascism (though he didn't use that word) by convincing many or most Americans that "big government" destroys our freedom and that we must therefore shrink government and give business unlimited "freedom" to do as they please. With regard to Reagan's idea of "freedom", Moyers says:
But what that… means today is the freedom to accumulate wealth without social or democratic responsibilities and the license to buy the political system right our from under everyone else, so that democracy no longer has the ability to hold capitalism accountable for the good of the whole… It has taken us down a terribly mistaken road toward a political order where government ends up servicing the powerful and taking from everyone else…

Nor does it assure the availability of economic opportunity… Yet it has been used to shield private power from democratic accountability, in no small part because conservative rhetoric has succeeded in denigrating government even as conservative politicians plunder it… But government is … often the only way we preserve our freedom from private power and its incursions.

The hypocrisy of the corporate version of "free market" ideology

There is nothing "free" about the right wing corporate version of so-called "free markets". Rather, through the amassing of great wealth and power and the use of that wealth and power to legally bribe our elected officials, they have stacked the deck in their favor so as to acquire monopoly control over so many aspects of our economic and political life. As Adam Smith, whom the right wing ideologues are so fond of quoting, says, creation of true free markets requires at a minimum the limiting of the power of corporations. Our corporate elites are not interested in "free" markets. They are interested only in gathering unto themselves as much wealth and power as they possibly can.

This is all part and parcel of the utterly nonsensical doctrine of "trickle down economics", which was never supported by a shred of evidence. They want us to believe that the road to a healthy economy is to shower the wealthy with privileges and riches, so that eventually this wealth will shower (or trickle) down on the rest of us, by virtue of making the wealthy more productive. Well, we're still waiting.

With their control of the news media, corporate America has foisted a toxic ideology on the American people that serves to maintain their wealth and power. When powerful banks lose money, they warn that the taxpayers must save them, lest our economy go into a permanent tailspin. Yet when the American people attempt to devise a health care system that will keep them financially solvent and prevent twenty thousand deaths each year, the corporate elite scream SOCIALISM!!

This is all part and parcel to the idea that "big government" is our biggest problem. The corporatocracy would have us believe that any infringement of our government on the "freedom" of corporations do whatever they please constitutes "interference" with the "free market". Bill Moyers takes us back in history to explain how our country's greatest leaders, from Jefferson to Lincoln to Teddy Roosevelt to FDR, have used the powers of government to provide opportunity for Americans to create a decent and better life for themselves. Thus Moyers concludes about our present state:

So it is that contrary to what we have heard rhetorically for a generation now, the individualist, greed-driven, free-market ideology is at odds with our history and with what most Americans really care about … Indeed, the American public is committed to a set of values that almost perfectly contradicts the conservative agenda that has dominated politics for a generation now.
Opposing the public interest

Corporations, as creations of the state were originally required to act in support of the public interest in return for the many favors they received from the state. But instead, they have come to oppose the public interest, in pursuit of their own private goals and the goals of their owners, and in the process they have cast a progressively darkening cloud of tyranny over our country and the world. In reality it is difficult or impossible to separate the goals of a corporation from the goals of its owners – those who exercise control over the corporation. After all, a corporation is merely a financial tool, which can be utilized for whatever purposes those who control it wish. Yet it is legally defined as an entity separate from its owners. Thus those who control the corporation have a powerful tool at their disposal, while at the same time utilizing corporate law to shield them from the liabilities that mere individuals would incur without a corporation to hide behind.

That would be ok if the state was determined to regulate corporations in the public interest. However, especially since the 1980s corporate propaganda has achieved a measure of success in convincing Americans that government regulation of corporations – in the public interest or otherwise – is bad for our economy and therefore bad for our people. Perhaps most Americans don't really believe that absurdity. But enough do that, in combination with the power of money, the public interest has taken a back seat to corporate "freedom".


It has long been recognized that corporations have a tendency to form monopolies, which reduce competition and raise prices. That is why, beginning with the Sherman Anti-trust law of 1890, and continuing with President Theodore Roosevelt's trust busting efforts, the U.S. government has had a long and justified history of intervening to prevent unfair monopolistic practices, especially with regard to services that are essential to us, such as gas and electric utilities.

When monopolies are allowed to flourish, competition is stifled and the result is an increasing wealth gap and poverty. Specific examples of monopolies leading to bad consequences include the lax regulation that led to the energy blackouts in California in 2001 and policies that allow price gouging by oil companies. Yet, for reasons that they've never explained, the right wing "free market" ideologues are the first ones to allow the stifling of competition by monopolies.

Monopoly provides the financial foundation of corporate power. With rampant monopolization of U.S. industries in recent years, competitive obstacles to the accumulation of wealth have been removed for a select few, at the expense of almost everyone else. Barry Lynn discusses in his book, "Cornered – The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction" – how the monopolization of so much industry in the United States, which began under the Reagan Presidency, has led us towards a corporatist state that has vastly limited the freedom of so many Americans:

The structural monopolization of so many systems has resulted in a set of political arrangements similar to what we used to call corporatism. This means that our political economy is run by a compact elite that is able to fuse the power of our public government with the power of private corporate governments in ways that enable members of the elite not merely to offload their risk onto us but also to determine with almost complete freedom who wins, who loses, and who pays. Then suddenly there was Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson… using our tax money to fix his bank and the banks of all his friends…

The Bush and Obama administrations and… Congress all responded to the collapse of our financial system in most instances by accelerating consolidation… The effects are clear… the derangement not merely of our financial systems but also of our industrial systems and political systems. Most terrifying of all is that this consolidation of power – and the political actions taken to achieve it – appears to have impaired our ability to comprehend the dangers we face and to react in an organized and coherent manner.

The bottom line: Too much freedom for the powerful impinges greatly upon the freedom of everyone else.

"Too big to prosecute"

Perhaps the greatest indicator of the tyranny of corporate power in America today is the approach that our criminal justice system takes towards corporate criminals. Our country is still suffering from our worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, which is largely the result of corporate irresponsibility and malfeasance. Yet not one of those responsible for this crisis has even been prosecuted, let alone sent to jail. To the contrary, the American taxpayers have bailed out our irresponsible financial institutions to the tune of several trillion dollars.

William Greider explains, in an article titled "How Wall Street Crooks Get out of Jail Free":

The nation is left to face a disturbing spectacle: crime without punishment. Massive injuries were done to millions of people by reckless bankers, and vast wealth was destroyed by elaborate financial deceptions. Yet there are no culprits to be held responsible.
Former U.S. Senator Ted Kaufman put the problem in perspective:
People know that if they rob a bank they will go to jail… Bankers should know that if they rob people, they will go to jail too… At the end of the day this is a test of whether we have one justice system in this country or two. If we do not treat a Wall Street firm that defrauded investors of millions of dollars the same way we treat someone who stole $500 from a cash register, then how can we expect our citizens to have any faith in the rule of law?
Greider explains the system that is routinely used in the United States today to deal with corporate criminals, and its purported rationale:
Instead of "Old Testament justice," federal prosecutors seek "authentic cooperation" from corporations in trouble, urging them to come forward voluntarily and reveal their illegalities. In exchange, prosecutors will offer a deal. If companies pay the fine set by the prosecutor and submit to probationary terms for good behavior… then government will defer prosecution indefinitely or even drop it entirely.

The favored argument for the more conciliatory approach was that criminal indictment may amount to a death sentence for a corporation. The fallout will destroy it, and the economy will lose valuable productive capacity. The collateral consequences are unfair to employees who lose jobs and stockholders who lose wealth.

That's a lot of sympathy of corporations, corporate employees and stockholders. Where is the comparative sympathy for the tens of millions of other Americans who are out of work or who lost their homes?

Russell Mokhiber, longtime editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter, explains the real reason for this kid glove treatment of corporate criminals:

Over the past twenty-five years the corporate lobbies have watered down the corporate criminal justice system and starved the prosecutorial agencies. Young prosecutors dare not overstep their bounds for fear of jeopardizing the cash prize at the end of the rainbow – partnership in the big corporate defense law firms after they leave public service. The result – if there are criminal prosecutions, they now end in deferred or nonprosecution agreements – instead of guilty pleas.
Greider continues:
Deferring prosecution was made standard practice by George W. Bush's Justice Department… During Obama's first two years, Justice deferred action on fifty-three corporate defendants… Leading lawyers dubbed deferred prosecution "the new normal for handling corporate misconduct".
In other words, they have more money than we do, and in today's United States, justice is for sale.

Setting the crown for a corporate state – Corporate power in perspective

William Greider has warned us many times in the past about the dire consequences of government becoming too cozy with the corporatocracy:

This will sound extreme to some people, but I came to it reluctantly. I fear what they're doing… in their design is setting the crown for a corporate state…. And by that I mean a rather small but very powerful circle of financial institutions the old Wall Street banks, famous names. But also some industrial corporations… Too big to fail. Yes, watched closely by the Federal Reserve and others in government, but also protected by them… The leading banks and corporations are sort of at the trough, ahead of everybody else in Washington, they will have the means to monopolize democracy. And I mean that literally. Some of my friends would say, hey, that already happened…. The corporate state is here…. The fact is, if the Congress goes down the road I see them going down, they will institutionalize the corporate state in a way that will be severely damaging to any possibility of restoring democracy.


THE CORPORATIST MODEL Grows from a close relationship between the trade union movement and social democratic parties. Even in "pluralist" Britain, economic policy approached the corporatist model in brokering "SOCIAL CONTRACT" between government and unions during the 1974-79 Labour administration.

Often institutionalizes a system of centralized wage bargaining: government and the "social partners" of organized labor and business sit round a table and trash out a national incomes policy.

As a policy-making and implementation system: set of institutional arrangements that entrenches major social groups in the overall management of the national economy and other types of public policies

Definition from Philip Schmitter and Gerhard Lehmbruch: "Corporatism is more than a particular pattern of articulation of interests. Rather, it is an institutionalized pattern of policy-formation in which large interest organizations cooperate with each other and with public authorities not only in the articulation of interests, but… in the 'authoritative allocation of values' and in the implementation of such policies".

ORIGINS: 1) Catholic Social Thought - early decades of the twentieth century, Church leaders were concerned that the role of the church was being undermined by trade unions, and growth of modern state apparatus; wanted to renew social organization represented by medieval craft guilds; advocated enhanced role for self-governing interest groups (the "voluntary" sector", involved not only in the planning but also in the provision of major social services such as health care and education) 2) Fascist corporation was a system of totalitarian state control of society based on an intimate interpretation of interest groups and the state. Hitler's Germany, Mussolini's Italy and Salazar's Portugal. 3) post-WW II impulse for "national unity" sense that industry and labor had to work together in order to rebuild war-torn economies fostered tripartite (i.e., industry , labor and government) cooperation in places such as Austria and Germany.

Features of corporatism systems:

Values/behaviors (i.e political cultural prerequisites) required to make corporatism work:

Interrelated contextual factors: - a long tradition of social democratic rule; - a small, open economy; - high expenditures on social programs and low expenditures on defense.

Table 14-1 groups countries into 3 clusters.


Austria is usually taken as the classic case of a political system that is characterized by a very high level of corporatist policy making. Austria is a "model generator".

Important role of CHAMBERS, designed to provide formal representation for the interests, respectively, of labor, commerce, and agriculture.

Statutory position and vital role that they play in decision making. All working citizens in Austria are obliged by law to belong to the appropriate chamber. [discuss how this is perceived from an American point of view]

The chambers have the formal right to be consulted on and represent in a wide range of matters, as well as to nominate members to many other public bodies.

"Peak" trade union organization, the OGB, and the League of Austrian Industrialists, the VOI. The Chamber of Labor must also consider the "public interest". OGB is highly centralized. SOCIAL PARTNERSHIP.

The Chamber of Labor and the OGB are dominated by the Socialists (SPO), and the Chamber of Commerce and Chamber of Agriculture are dominated by the conservative Austrian People's party (OVP).

Interpenetration of interest groups and parliament, and this symbiosis has been identified by many as one of the strengths of Austrian corporatism.

Social partners traditionally have been concerned first and foremost with economic policy making (prices and incomes). Both the negotiation and the implementation of policies on prices and incomes.

Concept of parity: strictly equal membership for representatives of business and labor in all important policy-making bodies.

Success during the affluent 1960s and 1970s. The Austrian economy enjoyed steady growth and a record on inflation and unemployment that was much better than the European norm.

Full-fledged corporatism is a comprehensive and deep-rooted decision-making culture rather than just a collection of superficial solutions.

Soul of a Nation The Corporatist State

I think the reason is that the Corporatist model has become so entrenched in the mindset of the ruling elite that they are unable to divest themselves from it.

The enormous success of Singapore's initial years of independence has gone to their heads. It has fooled them into thinking Corporatism is the way to go, and that when the hardware is in place, the software can be taken care of later. This inverted philosophy is the reason why Singapore has evolved into the current state where control of the nation's wealth is placed in the hands of the few and where the ordinary folk do not have much control over their own economic destinies. It is also the reason why a culture of materialism has sunk in together with a sense of disempowerment and disenfranchisement.

Today we have casinos causing social problems for the heartlanders. Under the government's Corporatist model, the wealth generated for the elite by the casinos is worth these social problems.

Today, the government keeps saying that we cannot provide more social safety nets at the risk of going down the slippery slope of becoming a welfare state. Under its own Corporatist model, the government deems that it is better instead to invest the money into building external and foreign reserves.

Today, public services are going up in price because under the Corporatist model, it is more important to be profitable than it is to be caring.

ABC-CLIO - Product - Corporatist Decline in Advanced Capitalism - Mark James Gobeyn

This study represents the first book-length treatment of the declining significance of corporatist governance in advanced capitalist states.

Gobeyn presents the first book-length treatment of the declining significance of corporatist governance in advanced capitalism, linking that decline to international political economic forces. He contends that current patterns of conflict within corporatist political bargaining institutions in capitalist states can be traced to attitudinal shifts on the part of capitalists toward corporatist institutional arrangements. Business interests, it is argued, may no longer be viewing traditional practices of national corporatist action as either beneficial or necessary given recent changes in domestic and international economic environments. Recent state modifications to corporatist forms have therefore been initiated.

[Jul 10, 2013] Corporatism - The Canadian Encyclopedia

Corporatism was originally a 19th-century doctrine which arose in reaction to the competition and class conflict of capitalist society. In opposition to the trend towards both mass suffrage and independent trade unionism, it promoted a form of functional representation - everyone would be organized into vocational or industrial associations integrated with the state through representation and administration. The contention was that if these groups (especially capital and labour) could be imbued with a sense of mutual rights and obligations, such as presumably united the medieval estates, a stable order based on "organic unity" could be established. Although the notion of industrial parliaments was commonly raised in liberal democracies after WWI, the only states that explicitly adopted a corporative form of representation were the fascist regimes of Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Vichy France and various South American dictatorships.

In all these cases, corporatist structures were primarily a decorative façade for authoritarian rule, state repression of independent trade unionism being the main motive and consequence. Given this experience, corporatist ideology has not been popular in Western liberal democratic societies, but by the 1970s it became increasingly common for social scientists to discern that certain political arrangements had developed within these frameworks, which in operative premise and institutional form bore some resemblance to the functional-representation notions of corporatism.

This was particularly true in many West European countries, where the central trade-union and business federations had joined government representatives in national economic and incomes policy planning. These arrangements helped sustain the Keynesian welfare state, in which governments sought to stem inflationary tendencies in the economy and encourage productivity. Central to all such arrangements was the effort to persuade unions to accept national wage-restraint policies in exchange for representation in economic decision making.

Corporatism temporarily came to be seen by many social scientists as either a new economic system, successor to capitalism, where the state controls and directs a highly concentrated but still privately owned economy; or a new form of state, where the important representation, decision making and administration take place not in the parties, parliaments and ministerial bureaucracies but in the tripartite structures where business, labour and governments are joined; or a new form of interest-group politics, where instead of the competitive, lobbying activities of many pressure groups, there is a monopoly of access to the state by one group from each sector of society, with the state exercising reciprocal influence over the groups.

While each of these scenarios captured some aspects of modern corporatist developments, they were all too expansive and grandiose. Corporatist structures may have supplemented parliamentary forms in certain countries, but they hardly became the centre of the liberal democratic state. They were confined primarily to the relations among big business, organized labour and government. Above all, corporatist arrangements do not challenge capitalism as the economic system of these societies.

Important key investment decisions, although influenced by the state partly through corporatist structures, remained with private corporations. Indeed, far from emerging as the new dominant institutions, corporatist structures displayed an inherent instability, reflecting the asymmetry of the relative power of capital and labour and the tendency of trade unions to withdraw their co-operation in wage-restraint policies when members insist that their leaders represent their demands rather than act as junior partners in managing the modern capitalist economy. In turn, capitalist classes have shown themselves less and less interested, for their part, in maintaining such partnerships, and this has led to corporatist arrangements to be increasingly abandoned along with the Keynesian welfare state through the last two decades of the 20th century.

[Apr 05, 2013] Neoliberalism Neoconservatism Without a Smirk by Thomas H. Naylor

February 16, 2010 | Second Vermont Republic

It has become increasingly obvious that the only difference between Barack Obama and George W. Bush is that the famous Bush smirk has been replaced by the Obama smile. The neoconservatism of Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Bill O'Reilly has given way to the neoliberalism of Bill Clinton, Timothy Geithner, Bernie Sanders, and Chris Matthews. The differences between neoliberalism and neoconservatism are similar to the differences between Coke and Pepsi, virtually nil.

Neoconservatism is best defined by its foreign policy agenda which includes full spectrum dominance, imperial overstretch, nuclear primacy, the right of pre-emptive strike, and unconditional support for the State of Israel. Although neoliberals are much less bellicose in their rhetoric than their neoconservative counterparts, they passively acquiesce to the neocon foreign policy paradigm. They do little or nothing to end the wars with Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the annihilation of Palestine carried out by our close ally Israel. Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo was little short of a global call to arms couched in the language of the doctrine of "just war." Although neocons make it abundantly clear that they are military hawks, most neoliberals are closet hawks as well.

Consider the case of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the darling of the Left, who pretends to be a socialist, which he is not. Not only does Sanders support all military appropriation bills and military aid to Israel, but he is currently promoting the opening of a satellite facility of the Sandia Corporation in Vermont. The Sandia Corporation, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Company, develops, creates, maintains, and evaluates nuclear weapons systems. Sandia's roots go back to the Manhattan Project in World War II. Just what peace loving Vermonters need, a nuclear weapons manufacturer located in their own backyard.

Both neolibs and neocons are apologists for globalization and are steeped in the ideology that bigger, faster, and more high-tech make better. In their heart of hearts neolibs and neocons know that only the federal government can solve all of our problems, failing to realize that the federal government is the problem. Both embrace corporate socialism, socialism for the rich, and the social welfare state while pretending to be opposed to publicly financed social welfare. It's all about people of the lie.

Neoliberals pretend to be concerned about inequities in the distribution of income and wealth. Neoconservatives make it abundantly clear that they couldn't care less.

Both neolibs and neocons are authoritarian statists each with their own definition of political correctness. Politically correct neolibs are expected to be pro-abortion, pro-gay-lesbian, pro-affirmative action, pro-Israel, pro-gun control, anti-clerical, pro-big government, and pro-American Empire. Anyone who does not conform to this litany or who associates with those who do not, is at risk of being attacked by a left wing truth squad such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and accused of the likes of homophobia, racism, anti-semitism, religious fundamentalism, or even hate crimes. Politically correct neocons are more likely to be pro-life, anti-gay-lesbian, anti-affirmative action, pro-Israel, anti-gun control, pro-clerical, pro-big government, and pro-Empire. Both are vehemently opposed to secession.

Above all, what neoliberals and neoconservatives have in common is that they are technofascists. Benito Mussolini defined fascism as "the merger of state and corporate power." Technofascism is the melding of corporate, state, military, and technological power by a handful of political elites which enables them to manipulate and control the population through the use of money, markets, media and the Internet.

Neoliberals and neoconservatives alike march to the beat of the same drummer – the largest, wealthiest, most powerful, most materialistic, most racist, most militaristic, most violent empire of all time.

Ultimately the differences between neoliberalism and neoconservatism are purely cosmetic. You may either have your technofascism with a smirk or you can have it with a smile.

[Oct 02, 2012] The TPP A Quiet Coup for the Investor Class by Hilary Matfess

September 25, 2012 | FPIF

The struggle over the Trans-Pacific Partnership reveals a disturbing trend in American politics. The much discussed Citizens United ruling granting corporations personhood has given way to a trade negotiation process in which corporations are granted more rights than American citizens, their elected representatives, or foreign governments impacted by the deal. That trade negotiations with such an immense potential impact on numerous sectors of the American economy have been conducted in secret is troubling enough. To consider that those negotiating the treaty have willfully ignored experts and elected representatives in favor of corporate interests calls into question the sustainability of American democracy.

tom anocu

Patricia Gray is right. It's better if we stop using the much maligned term 'democracy' to a system that works against and NOT for the interests or ordinary people. Using it to justify the abuses government and corporations commit against citizens the world over is a travesty. You CAN'T have both, concentrations of power in the hands of the few and democracy. That is a contradiction not very well understood in the US. Journalists should recognize this and stop perpetuating the patent FARSE. The illusion of 'choice' in the Nov. elections reflects all this.

[Sep 27, 2010] Auerback- Where is Huey Long When You Need Him

If you consider the Obama regime is almost one-to-one continuation of Bush II regime the argument about corporatism does make sense.
It's become patently obvious to anybody with half a brain and a pulse that President Obama's "progressivism" has more in common with Mussolini's corporatism than anything remotely connected to a genuinely progressive agenda.

If you think I'm exaggerating, I suggest you read Denis Mack Smith's excellent accounts of Il Duce's tenure in Smith's "Modern Italy: A Political History", or his biography, "Mussolini".

Both works describe a country which, while claiming to reduce an inflated bureaucracy, needed to do precisely the opposite in order to reward personal "clients" and followers. Both books also recount that in spite of the efforts of Mussolini's first Fascist Finance Minister De'Stefani's efforts to curb tax evasion and limit stock exchange speculation, his efforts were constantly thwarted by other political cronies of Il Duce, as well as Mussolini himself, who soon allowed the majority of his Cabinet to discredit one of the few competent ministers, who was of above average intelligence and competence (Elizabeth Warren, watch out).

steve from virginia:

PS read Ritholtz:


Great link! Barry Ritholtz NAILS IT… here is the title of the post…

The Left Right Paradigm is Over: Its You vs. Corporations

Many of us have figured this out already, but Barry does a succint job of summarizing key points.

Personally I think discussing what's wrong with the so-called left and how one might 'fix it' is a waste of time given that premise is stuck in a fading and more-irrelevant-by-the-day political paradigm.


Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Dryden: Well. It seems we're to have a British waterworks with an Arab flag on it. Do you think it was worth it?

General Allenby: Not my business. Thank God I'm a soldier.

And it seems we are to have an Italian government (1930s version)

And a Japanese economy (1980s-90s version)

Soldier on…

Doug Terpstra:

Thank you, Marshall (and Yves), for a righteously wicked post! Why not you, as Huey, Marshall? Worried about "extra-judicial punishment", are we?

Of course, you covered key 'failures' quite well, but the full story is even worse: including the Patriot Act, GITMO, rendition, Abu Ghraib reclassification, citizen assassination, gay rights, union disempowerment, SHAFTA, Palestine, land mine treaty abandonment, lobbying, secrecy, etc.

In fact, Obama is doing far more damage as a Neocon ringer, a wolf in sheep's clothing, than any naked con could get away with, and it is my suspicion that Rahm's Chicago game is far more devious-that midterm "losses" are part of the game to consolidate a Neocon agenda.

Next on the block, courtesy of the Obama-stacked Cat Food Commission, is Social Security-under the cover of the same prickly briar patch Clinton used after 1994 for welfare reform, SHAFTA, repeal of Glass-Steagall etc. The willful blindness of some Obama apologists here is rather stunning.

Stelios Theoharidis:

It takes a really special kind of idiot to think that you can have legitimate financial, tax, military, prison, or healthcare reform without first actually having political reform in this country. Comparing Obama to Mussolini is such absolute and utter BS, who here amongst us expects that the political and economic class that brought us into this quagmire to be the same one that brings us out. What just because you insert some sort of political outsider into it that is going to change the army of insiders around him. By making that characterization you are no better than the idiot tea baggers who want to dress him up like Hitler in posters. Obama didn't put us where we are but he has to deal with all the complexities of our position. Sure many decisions have led us further into collapse, but we are basically in a political system with widespread capture, you can't make meaningful reform in that kind of situation and his and our largest failure is chase after financial and healthcare reforms when we should first be making political reforms.

No matter who would have been put in there the situation would have varied little. The same people (Summers, Geitner, Orzag, or their republican counterparts) are going to get into the political process as before. The same power brokers and lobbyists are going to influence the direction of legislation to the benefit of special interests. You talk about Obama as if he has options, that illusion of choice is one we like to maintain. But, choice is basically a few predetermined options, that more and more seem the same. We had an inherited war, an inherited debt, corporate shills in SCOTUS, a massive lobbying complex, and an inherited political class that has put us on that trajectory and will neuter any attempt to get on a different path.

Change doesn't happen because we vote someone into office. When has real reform happened without people getting out in the streets to get their heads beat in. It is pretty much going to be the same political and economic class, but change will only happen when they learn to be afraid about losing their bread and butter. Otherwise they are just going to continue milking the cow until someone kicks the bucket out from underneath their ass. Any political class only maintains power through consent.

The decent portion of the progressive left is too busy building alternative economies and disconnecting themselves from the detrimental social and environmental impacts that our present system is generating. Why even try to make futile efforts to prop up this deteriorating behemoth.

Howard Dean's people, who tried to work through the political process, only managed to push a bunch of moderates into power that did nothing but slow down any real reform.

Doug Terpstra:

"It takes a really special kind of idiot…"

"You talk about Obama as if he has options…"

Careful with the finger-pointing. Of course he has options, he also has real power, or did, with 59-seat majority. That's what elections are supposed to be for. The problem, as Auerbach has ably shown, is that Obama has consistently made affirmative choices in exactly the wrong direction on issue after issue for two years now.

See Andrew Bacevich's "Prisoners of War Bob Woodward and All the President's Men" at TomDispatch for another example of recent bad, in this case criminally insane, choices our president is making.,_the_washington_gossip_machine__/

I repeat, "The willful blindness of some Obama apologists here is rather stunning."

Tom Hickey:

The decent portion of the progressive left is too busy building alternative economies and disconnecting themselves from the detrimental social and environmental impacts that our present system is generating. Why even try to make futile efforts to prop up this deteriorating behemoth.

Right. This process began back in the Sixties, when a lot of us realized what was going on and that the mainstream would never change without a revolution. Revolutions happen spontaneously. In the meanwhile, thinking and feeling people are continuing to network and create their own underground economy.


Standing in front of my computer clapping an ovation for this post… And now, to listen to it again….


Huey Long was an American populist's phenomena.

Sometimes credited with moving FDR more toward the Left, noted for improving the lives of many of the rabble in Louisiana which faithfully supported him and in general, pulling the state out of ravages of neo-feudal corporate colonialism through implementation of policy of state investment in the welfare of the common.

The definitive work on the life of Huey Long is a book by one Harry T. Williams. For anyone interested in a straightforward (and with Long, this is about as impartial as your going to get) account of Long's life, I recommend this book.

Here's a quote from a Long speech given in support of re-election of Senator Hattie Caraway (D-AR)which could still resonate today:

"They've got a set of Republican waiters on one side and a set of Democratic waiters on the other side, but no matter which set of waiters brings you the dish, the legislative grub is all prepared in the same Wall Street kitchen."

Long was assassinated by a disgruntled conservative 'aristocrat' (by a doctor no less) seeking to free Louisiana from its 'demagogue' dictator.

He was though reportedly targeted by several conservative 'death squads' so it all may have just been a matter of time and indeed Long himself may have understood this.

Their about many good quotes about H. Long, in ending here are a few to humor my indulgence:

"He has not only common ways, but a common, sordid, dirty soul."

and from Drew Pearson epitaph:

"He was a crook - but he had no money; a corrupt politician - but the cost of government is third-lowest in the country; a demagogue - but he kept his campaign promises; a hillbilly - but he had no racial prejudices; an ignoramus - but he ran a business administration; a dictator - but he broadened the suffrage; an opportunist - but he had ideals."

and an observation made while Long was a mere Public Service Commissioner for the state of Louisiana:

"They don't know Huey Long. They never saw him and would not know him if he stepped off the train at our station. But they know him in name and you can't make them believe he is not their defender."

Ellen Anderson:

@ Paul T. The world economy has been propped up by permanent war and, probably, drug dealing since WWII. War is critical to keeping the current system up and running. You really can't think that you will be able to end wars without restraining corporate control of the dialogue.

Thanks for that link, Steve from V. That is great to see this dialogue breaking out on financial blogs.

As Bill Moyers recently discovered "It's over and money won."

Tom Hickey:

Gosh, Marshal, you are sounding like me. Or maybe I am sounding like you. Whatever, The Mussolini analogy fits.

What we have is what President Eisenhower warned against in his farewell address, a military-industrial (financial)-government complex aka the corporate state - or what Jamie Galbraith has called "the predator state" in his book bearing that title.

What you did not mention is that the US runs on military Keynesianism. It is government expenditure on the military and related operations. often black, that accounts for a major portion of US demand. Couple that with low tax rates, low inflation due to imports that favor the multinationals but deprive US workers of jobs, and reduced bargaining power of labor due to business-sponsored legislation and global labor arbitrage, and you have the recipe for an economy that inflates assets and keeps worker incomes low while allowing income and wealth to explode toward the top.

The only things needed to complete this picture are t privatizing SS by handing it to Wall Street, privatizing government institutions thereby creating a toll booth economy, and delivering health care including Medicare and Medicaid entirely to the insurance industry. This is all on the table.


There is an academic debate about what exactly fascism is. Corporatism is definitely an important element, and US federal economic policy is increasingly corporatist. But other important elements include a sort of hypernationalism and military adventurism, along with the silencing of internal dissent. I'm worried that we will see more of this in the future, but we are not there yet.

Kevin de Bruxelles makes some important points that got lost as the thread started verring in some odd directions. First, one thing the Obama administration has demonstrated is that the federal government may well have become too corrupt and corporate influenced to effectively deliver "progressive" politics. The Right in the U.S. may have been more correct than they knew when they argued that well, other countries could run single payer health care systems, but the U.S. couldn't. The American left may have to make a strategic switch and start arguing for a weaker federal government, plus no new programs without substantial political and administrative reform. It would look more like the eighteenth century and nineteenth century left which, after all, included Smith and Ricardo as well as Marx.

Kevin is correct on his second point. I'm amazed at how insistent commentators on some left-leaning websites have become at making support for essentially open borders a litmus test. Its pretty clear that increased immigration, at least in the short term, lowers wages by increasing competition for employment. I'm not sure why exactly you would want to bring more workers into countries with high rates of unemployment, nor how that benefits the immigrants. But it seems the only people even addressing the weakening power of labor are the paleocons.

In 2008 the candidates for President who got substantial support, in terms of winning primaries, were Obama, Hilary Clinton, McCain, Romney, and Huckabee. Of this group, the also rans were to the right of the winner on national security policy and civil liberties, and with the possible exception of Huckabee on economic policy as well. It was a somewhat more restricted choice than in past presidential elections, but the options keep getting narrower each cycle.

Paul Tioxon:

I referenced Chalmers Johnson, please tell me you've read at least one of his books on the military industrial complex. If you have, surely you must know that he calls for shutting down nearly nearly all military bases around the world, including the ridiculous number of carriers afloat. My response is directed to the specifics I read in MAs essay. I don't have the time or inclination to bring up every point of the oligarchic political economy every time I address one piece of writing here. Although I have been accused of digressing on occasion, on NC, I try to stick at one outrage at a time. I'm glad you are voting, can you please put up the damn law sign for the candidate of your choice. That's a good start.

Glenn Condell:

Barack Obama is the biggest disappointment in history. Never have so many felt so betrayed by so few. We have been had. Change, my arse.

There have been worse presidents, Bush for one, and we are a long way from say Idi Amin, but what did anyone expect of these people? The weight of the world's expectancy, generated largely by his own soaring rhetoric (tellingly, his signature talent) has simply been ignored and those he should have been limiting have been set free to enslave us all. He is too intelligent not to know what he is responsible for.

My candidate for the next best disappointment in history is another who specialised in noble-browed platitudes to move the masses, one W. Clinton, who is almost as smart as Obama.

Anyone else seeing a pattern here?


He sure strikes me as a Manchurian Candidate. it is a plain and simple answer to his puzzling behaviour.

funny, but search Obama Manchurian Candidate and you get a lot of hits. Many people are thinking the same thing

Tom Shillock:

I suspect Obama and his corrupt regime understand that ideologically and policy wise they are the successors to the Bush Cheney regime. But he and the Democrats are playing a game similar to the one Bill Clinton played in which they co-op Republican issues and carry water for oligarchs and plutocrats while pretending otherwise. That enables them to snag oligarch and plutocrat campaign funding while it forces Republicans into more of a corner, as it were, where they have to adopt more extreme positions and tactics to distinguish themselves. Promoting Tea Party types shows they learned something from Karl Rove about the value of clean hands.

The point is that Obama need only vaguely blather on about "change" and use the rhetoric of social and economic justice in order to be re-elected. As angry as people may get with him the alternative probably seems less palatable and probably is. If the majority of Americans truly want change they will have to look to history for guidance: 1776, 1789 and 1917. After all, we have voted many times since Jimmy Carter yet the financial crises have worsened, inequality has widened and life has become more financially precarious for most Americans.

Ellen Anderson:

@ Paul T. I understand that this is a financial blog. I read it a lot but don't usually have anything to contribute. However, today and yesterday Yves raised a question that I do feel qualified to answer and have tried to do. I agree that we have a duty to vote. However, there is no point in organizing to fight the military industrial complex or corporatism or whatever you want to call it.

Perhaps some people will choose to try to reform around the edges, but most of the activist lefties and other well intentioned citizens I know are busy at the local level where they may be able to make a real difference.

[Dec 27, 2005] Asian news and current affairs

Asia Times Online

The exaltation of big business at the expense of the citizen was a central characteristic of government policy in Germany and Italy in the years before those countries were chewed to bits and spat out by fascism.

Fascist dictatorships were borne to power in each of these countries by big business and they served the interests of big business with remarkable ferocity. These facts have been lost to the popular consciousness in North America. Fascism could therefore return to us, and we will not even recognize it. Indeed, Huey Long, one of America's most brilliant and most corrupt politicians, was once asked if America would ever see fascism. His answer was, "Yes, but we will call it anti-fascism."

By exploring the disturbing parallels between our own time and the era of overt fascism, I am confident that we can avoid the same hideous mistakes. At present, we live in a constitutional democracy. The tools necessary to protect ourselves from fascism remain in the hands of the citizen. All the same, I believe that North America is on a fascist trajectory. We must recognize this threat for what it is, and we must change course.

Consider the words of Thurman Arnold, head of the antitrust division of the US Department of Justice in 1939: "Germany, of course, has developed within 15 years from an industrial autocracy into a dictatorship. Most people are under the impression that the power of Hitler was the result of his demagogic blandishments and appeals to the mob ... Actually, Hitler holds his power through the final and inevitable development of the uncontrolled tendency to combine in restraint of trade."

Arnold made his point even more clearly in a 1939 address to the American Bar Association: "Germany presents the logical end of the process of cartelization. From 1923 to 1935 cartelization grew in Germany until finally that nation was so organized that everyone had to belong either to a squad, a regiment or a brigade in order to survive. The names given to these squads, regiments or brigades were cartels, trade associations, unions and trusts. Such a distribution system could not adjust its prices. It needed a general with quasi-military authority who could order the workers to work and the mills to produce. Hitler named himself that general. Had it not been Hitler it would have been someone else."

I suspect that to most readers, Arnold's words are bewildering. Most people today are quite certain that they know what fascism is. When asked to describe it, however, they will typically tell you what it was, the assumption being that it no longer exists. Most people associate fascism with concentration camps and rows of stormtroopers, yet they know nothing of the political and economic processes that led to these horrible end results.

Before the rise of fascism, Germany and Italy were liberal democracies. Fascism did not swoop down on these nations as if from another planet. To the contrary, fascist dictatorship was the end result of political and economic changes these nations underwent while they were still democratic. In both these countries, economic power became so utterly concentrated that the bulk of all economic activity fell under the control of a handful of men. Economic power, when sufficiently vast, becomes by its very nature political power. The political power of big business supported fascism in Italy and Germany.

Business tightened its grip on the state in both Italy and Germany by means of intricate webs of cartels and business associations. These associations exercised a very high degree of control over the businesses of their members. They frequently controlled pricing, supply and the licensing of patented technology. These associations were private, but were entirely legal. Neither Germany nor Italy had effective antitrust laws, and the proliferation of business associations was generally encouraged by government.

This was an era eerily like our own, insofar as economists and businessmen constantly clamored for self-regulation in business. By the mid 1920's, however, self-regulation had become self-imposed regimentation. By means of monopoly and cartel, the businessmen had wrought for themselves a "command and control" economy that effectively replaced the free market. The business associations of Italy and Germany at this time are perhaps history's most perfect illustration of 18th century economist and philosopher Adam Smith's famous dictum, "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."

How could the German government not be influenced by Fritz Thyssen, the man who controlled most of Germany's coal production? How could it ignore the demands of the great I G Farben industrial trust, controlling as it did most of that nation's chemical production? Indeed, the German nation was bent to the will of these powerful industrial interests. Hitler attended to reduction of certain taxes applicable to large businesses, while simultaneously increasing the same taxes as they related to small business.

Previous decrees establishing price ceilings were repealed such that the cost of living for the average family was increased. Hitler's economic policies hastened the destruction of Germany's middle class by decimating small business. Ironically, Hitler pandered to the middle class and they provided some of his most enthusiastically violent supporters. The fact that he did this while simultaneously destroying them was a terrible achievement of Nazi propaganda.

Hitler also destroyed organized labor by making strikes illegal. Notwithstanding the socialist terms in which he appealed to the masses, Hitler's labor policy was the dream come true of the industrial cartels that supported him. Nazi law gave total control over wages and working conditions to the employer. Compulsory (slave) labor was the crowning achievement of Nazi labor relations. Along with millions of people, organized labor died in the concentration camps. The camps were not only the most depraved of all human achievements, they were a part and parcel of Nazi economic policy.

Hitler's untermenschen (sub-humans), largely Jews, Poles and Russians, supplied slave labor to German industry. Surely this was a capitalist bonanza. In another bitter irony, the gates over many of the camps bore a sign that read "Arbeit Macht Frei" (work shall set you free). I do not know if this was black humor or propaganda, but it is emblematic of the deception that lies at the heart of fascism.

The same economic reality existed in Italy between the two world wars. In that country, nearly all industrial activity was owned or controlled by a few corporate giants, Fiat and the Ansaldo shipping concern being the chief examples. Land ownership in Italy was also highly concentrated and jealously guarded. Vast tracts of farmland were owned by a few latifundisti (estate owners). The actual farming was carried out by a landless peasantry who were locked into a role essentially the same as that of the sharecropper of the US deep south. As in Germany, the few owners of the nation's capital assets had immense influence over government.

As a young man, Mussolini had been a strident socialist, and he, like Hitler, used socialist language to lure the people to fascism. Mussolini spoke of a "corporate" society wherein the energy of the people would not be wasted on class struggle. The entire economy was to be divided into industry specific "corporazioni", bodies composed of both labor and management representatives. The corporazioni would resolve all labor/management disputes, and if they failed to do so, the fascist state would intervene.

Unfortunately, as in Germany, there laid at the heart of this plan a swindle. The corporazioni, to the extent that they were actually put in place, were controlled by the employers. Together with Mussolini's ban on strikes, these measures reduced the Italian laborer to the status of peasant.

Mussolini, the one-time socialist, went on to abolish the inheritance tax, a measure which favored the wealthy. He decreed a series of massive subsidies to Italy's largest industrial businesses and repeatedly ordered wage reductions. Italy's poor were forced to subsidize the wealthy. In real terms, wages and living standards for the average Italian dropped precipitously under fascism.

Even this brief historical sketch shows how fascism did the bidding of big business. The fact that Hitler called his party the "National Socialist Party" did not change the reactionary nature of his policies. The connection between the fascist dictatorships and monopoly capital was obvious to the US Department of Justice in 1939. As of 2005, however, it is all but forgotten.

It is always dangerous to forget the lessons of history. It is particularly perilous to forget about the economic origins of fascism in our modern era of deregulation. Most Western liberal democracies are currently held in the thrall of what some call market fundamentalism. Few nowadays question the flawed assumption that state intervention in the marketplace is inherently bad. As in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, business associations clamor for more deregulation and deeper tax cuts.

The gradual erosion of antitrust legislation, especially in the United States, has encouraged consolidation in many sectors of the economy by way of mergers and acquisitions. The North American economy has become more monopolistic than at any time in the post-World War II period. (By way of example, US census data from 1997 show that the largest four companies in the food, motor vehicle and aerospace industries control 53.4%, 87.3% and 55.6% of their respective markets. More than 20% of commercial banking in the US is controlled by the four largest financial institutions, with the largest 50 controlling more than 60%.

Even these numbers underestimate the scope of concentration, since they do not account for the myriad interconnections between firms by means of debt instruments and multiple directorships, which further reduce the extent of competition. Actual levels of US commercial concentration have been difficult to measure since the 1970s, when strong corporate opposition put an end to the Federal Trade Commission's efforts to collect the necessary information.)

Fewer, larger competitors dominate all economic activity, and their political will is expressed with the millions of dollars they spend lobbying politicians and funding policy formulation in the many right-wing institutes that now limit public discourse to the question of how best to serve the interests of business. The consolidation of the economy, and the resulting perversion of public policy are themselves fascistic. I am quite certain, however, that president Bill Clinton was not worrying about fascism when he repealed federal antitrust laws that had been enacted in the 1930's.

The Canadian Council of Chief Executives is similarly unworried about fascism when it lobbies the Canadian government to water down our Federal Competition Act. (The 1985 act regulates monopolies, among other things, and itself represents a watering down of Canada's previous antitrust laws. It was essentially written by industry and handed to the Brian Mulroney government to be enacted.)

At present, monopolies are regulated on purely economic grounds to ensure the efficient allocation of goods. If we are to protect ourselves from the growing political influence of big business, then our antitrust laws must be reconceived in a way that recognizes the political danger of monopolistic conditions. Antitrust laws do not just protect the marketplace, they protect democracy.

It might be argued that North America's democratic political systems are so entrenched that we needn't fear fascism's return. The democracies of Italy and Germany in the 1920's were in many respects fledgling and weak. Our systems will surely react at the first whiff of dictatorship. Or will they? This argument denies the reality that the fascist dictatorships were preceded by years of reactionary politics, the kind of politics that are playing out today. Further, it is based on the conceit that whatever our own governments do is democracy.

Canada still clings to a quaint, 19th century "first past the post" electoral system in which a minority of the popular vote can and has resulted in majority control of parliament. In the US, millions still question the legality of the sitting president's first election victory, and the power to declare war has effectively become his personal prerogative.

Assuming that we have enough democracy to protect us is exactly the kind of complacency that allows our systems to be quietly and slowly perverted. On paper, Italy and Germany had constitutional, democratic systems. What they lacked was the eternal vigilance necessary to sustain them. That vigilance is also lacking today.

Our collective forgetfulness about the economic nature of fascism is also dangerous at a more philosophical level. As contradictory as it may seem, fascist dictatorship was made possible because of the flawed notion of freedom that held sway during the era of laissez-faire capitalism in the early twentieth century. It was the liberals of that era that clamored for unfettered personal and economic freedom, no matter what the cost to society.

Such untrammeled freedom is not suitable to civilized humans. It is the freedom of the jungle. In other words, the strong have more of it than the weak. It is a notion of freedom that is inherently violent, because it is enjoyed at the expense of others. Such a notion of freedom legitimizes each and every increase in the wealth and power of those who are already powerful, regardless of the misery that will be suffered by others as a result.

The use of the state to limit such "freedom" was denounced by the laissez-faire liberals of the early twentieth century. The use of the state to protect such "freedom" was fascism. Just as monopoly is the ruin of the free market, fascism is the ultimate degradation of liberal capitalism.

In the post-war period, this flawed notion of freedom has been perpetuated by the neo-liberal school of thought. The neo-liberals denounce any regulation of the marketplace. In so doing, they mimic the posture of big business in the pre-fascist period. Under the sway of neo-liberalism, Thatcher, Reagan, Mulroney and George W Bush have decimated labor and exalted capital. (Currently, only 7.8% of workers in the US private sector are unionized - about the same percentage as in the early 1900s.)

Neo-liberals call relentlessly for tax cuts which, in a previously progressive system, disproportionately favor the wealthy. Regarding the distribution of wealth, the neo-liberals have nothing to say. In the result, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. As in Weimar Germany, the function of the state is being reduced to that of a steward for the interests of the moneyed elite. All that would be required now for a more rapid descent into fascism are a few reasons for the average person to forget that he is being ripped off. The racist hatred of Arabs, fundamentalist Christianity or an illusory sense of perpetual war may well be taking the place of Hitler's hatred for communists and Jews.

Neo-liberal intellectuals often recognize the need for violence to protect what they regard as freedom. Thomas Freidman of the New York Times has written enthusiastically that "the hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist", and that "McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the US Air Force F-15 ... ".

As in pre-fascist Germany and Italy, the laissez-faire businessmen call for the state to do their bidding even as they insist that the state should stay out of the marketplace. Put plainly, neo-liberals advocate the use of the state's military force for the sake of private gain. Their view of the state's role in society is identical to that of the businessmen and intellectuals who supported Hitler and Mussolini. There is no fear of the big state here. There is only the desire to wield its power. Neo-liberalism is thus fertile soil for fascism to grow again into an outright threat to our democracy.

Having said that fascism is the result of a flawed notion of freedom, I respectfully suggest that we must re-examine what we mean when we throw around the word "freedom". We must conceive of freedom in a more enlightened way. Indeed, it was the thinkers of the Enlightenment who imagined a balanced and civilized freedom that did not impinge upon the freedom of one's neighbor. Put in the simplest terms, my right to life means that you must give up your freedom to kill me. This may seem terribly obvious to decent people. Unfortunately, in our neo-liberal era, this civilized sense of freedom has, like the dangers of fascism, been all but forgotten.

Paul Bigioni is a lawyer practicing in Markham, Ontario. He is a commentator on trade and political issues. This article is drawn from his work on a book about the persistence of fascism.

What is American Corporatism? By Robert Locke | Friday, September 13, 2002

FrontPage Magazine

We are probably heading into some economic heavy weather which will spur needed debate on what's right and wrong with our economy. This will require our being clear about what kind of economy we really have. I have mentioned before that we increasingly live not in a capitalist society but in a corporatist one, and I would like to flesh out this notion.

What is corporatism? In a (somewhat inaccurate) phrase, socialism for the bourgeois. It has the outward form of capitalism in that it preserves private ownership and private management, but with a crucial difference: as under socialism, government guarantees the flow of material goods, which under true capitalism it does not. In classical capitalism, what has been called the "night-watchman" state, government's role in the economy is simply to prevent force or fraud from disrupting the autonomous operation of the free market. The market is trusted to provide. Under corporatism, it is not, instead being systematically manipulated to deliver goods to political constituencies. This now includes basically everyone from the economic elite to ordinary consumers.

Unlike socialism, corporatism understands that direct government ownership of the means of production does not work, except in the limiting case of infrastructure.1 But it does not represent a half-way condition between capitalism and socialism. This is what the West European nations, with their mixed economies in which government owned whole industries, tried to create until Thatcherism. Corporatism blends socialism and capitalism not by giving each control of different parts of the economy, but by combining socialism's promise of a government-guaranteed flow of material goods with capitalism's private ownership and management.

What makes corporatism so politically irresistible is that it is attractive not just to the mass electorate, but to the economic elite as well. Big business, whatever its casuists at the Wall Street Journal editorial page may pretend, likes big government, except when big government gets greedy and tries to renegotiate the division of spoils. Although big business was an historic adversary of the introduction of the corporatist state, it eventually found common ground with it. The first thing big business has in common with big government is managerialism. The technocratic manager, who deals in impersonal mass aggregates, organizes through bureaucracy, and rules through expertise without assuming personal responsibility, is common to both. The second thing big business likes about big government is that it has a competitive advantage over small business in doing business with it and negotiating favors. Big government, in turn, likes big business because it is manageable; it does what it is told. It is much easier to impose affirmative action or racial sensitivity training on AT&T than on 50,000 corner stores. This is why big business has become a key enforcer of political correctness. The final thing big business likes about big government is that, unlike small government, it is powerful enough to socialize costs in exchange for a share of the profits.

The key historical moments in the development of American corporatism can be easily traced. It got its start from the realization, during the Progressive period around 1900, that the night-watchman state was too weak to make the large corporate actors of the economy play fair. The crucial premise that enters here is that the capitalist economy cannot be trusted to be self-regulating, as it previously had been. This collapse of trust was also implicit in the 1913 creation of the Federal Reserve system. What the Great Depression did was destroy a second kind of trust: that the economy would reliably deliver material goods without government intervention. With these two different kinds of trust gone, corporatism becomes not only worthwhile, but necessary. Crucially, it becomes psychologically necessary, independently of whether government can deliver on its promises, because people instinctively turn to government as their protector.

Anyone who is serious about getting rid of corporatism must explain how they are going to restore these two kinds of trust or persuade people to live without them. In particular, it is almost certainly useless, as verified by the fact that government has grown under every postwar Republican administration, to try to nibble away at big government without renegotiating the social contract that underlies it. If we don't have a plan to renegotiate this social contract, we must face the fact that the electorate will demand that it be respected. Newt Gingrich, who thought that the failure of Clinton's health plan signified the electorate's rejection of "socialism," learned this the hard way.

Clearly, the New Deal was the biggest jump forward into corporatism, though this was not fully understood at the time. Many people, both pro and con, misunderstood it as a move towards socialism.2 As is well known, Roosevelt was an empiricist, not a systematic thinker, and many elements of the New Deal that were tried, such as the notorious National Recovery Administration, were rightly discarded. But the fundamental proposition, that government should take responsibility for ensuring the flow of material goods to the people, was rapidly embraced by the American people, which continues to embrace it today whether it admits it or not. When people demand that the government "do something" about a falling stock market, they are playing at capitalism while practicing corporatism.

The fundamental essence of corporatism is not technocratic but moral: what does government have the responsibility to do? What do people have the right to demand be done for them?

The economic Left likes corporatism for three reasons:

  1. It satisfies its lust for power.
  2. It makes possible attempts to redistribute income.
  3. It enables them to practice #2 while remaining personally affluent.
The economic Right likes corporatism for three different reasons:
  1. It enables them to realize capitalist profits while unloading some of the costs and risks onto the state.
  2. The ability to intertwine government and business enables them to shape government policy to their liking.
  3. They believe the corporatist state can deliver social peace and minimize costly disruptions.
This process has been described as "socializing the losses, privatizing the profits" by its leftist critics, who also call parts of it corporate welfare. What they don't get is that in a society which grants the fundamental premise that government should take care of everybody, government will, and big business is part of "everybody." Most economic arguments today are not between a socialistic ideal and a capitalistic one, as many seem to believe, but are arguments within the corporatist consensus. This consensus is incapable of gelling into a unitary consensus because it is supported by the two sides for different reasons. There is also no public, coherent ideology of corporatism because almost no-one is willing to admit they believe in it.

Let's look at some specific examples of corporatism:

  1. The Export-Import Bank. This government agency helps finance exports of American products. The aim, laudable enough, is to create jobs in the US. But there is still the problem that doing this requires the government to consume capital, which might have created more jobs, (or just more wealth) if it had been allocated elsewhere. So this is classic corporatism: government allocating capital to private industry on the basis of political favoritism.
  2. Agricultural price-supports. Contrary to myth, most of the money goes to agribusiness, not small farmers.
  3. Industrial bailouts, like the recent one of the airlines. People do not trust the market to provide the airline service they think they "need." The truth is this country has more carriers than the market can support and a few should be allowed to die. No-one who really believes in free-market economics accepts the argument that jobs can be saved in the long run in this fashion.
  4. Corporate bankruptcy law. This law assigns an artificial value, not supported by economics, to keeping dying companies alive, rather than letting the carcasses of competition's losers nourish the winners. It is responsible, for example, for preventing a needed cull of the airline business by letting Continental Airlines pass through its protections not once but twice.
  5. Tariffs, quotas, and other trade restrictions. These transfer wealth from consumers to producers in the affected industries, whatever their other possible merits.
  6. Affirmative action is generally viewed as a social-policy question rather than an economic-policy one, but it fits neatly into the corporatist model: government forces private industry to distribute jobs to a favored political constituency. If people really believed in markets, they would realize that irrational discrimination imposes a cost on employers, who therefore already have an incentive not to engage in it.
  7. Fannie Mae, the government agency which raises money for mortgage loans in the private capital markets. This agency has deliberately been spinning out loans to sub-par borrowers who are doomed to default on them. It has become a major prop holding up real-estate prices, and is thus a key culprit in the ongoing mortgage bubble. Conservatives accept it on the grounds that home ownership makes people more conservative. But this may not be true forever if private ownership of housing becomes a public entitlement. This is part of an ongoing phenomenon that corporatism helps to drive: the erosion of the determination of political preferences by the ownership of property.3
  8. Sallie Mae, the government agency which supervises student loans. The government has a system of directly-financed public universities, but is has also in effect annexed private universities. Cleverly, it uses a relatively small amount of public money to package the flow of a much larger amount of private capital to tuition. The principal problem with this is that it has become a subsidy machine for the spiraling cost of higher education. There is also the problem that any institution receiving federal funds becomes susceptible to regulations that otherwise wouldn't be legal. Bribes-if-you-do are a much less disruptive means of manipulating behavior than sanctions-if-you-don't, and corporatism hates disruption and loves business as usual.4 One way to interpret corporatism is as a systematic way for government to distribute bribes for submission to its authority.
  9. In local government, corporatism is principally a matter of real estate. Let's take New York as an example, just because I know it best and the pattern is clearest here, though similar dynamics work in other locales to a greater or lesser degree. Basically, real estate development here has become so over-regulated and over-taxed that it is virtually impossible to do profitably without government help. Government is aware that it has strangled development, but still wants it to occur because voters want jobs, campaign contributors want their projects, and projects create patronage opportunities for politicians. Therefore, government selectively lifts the burden of taxation and regulation on certain projects to push them into the black. It does this with tax abatements, loan guarantees, zoning changes, condemnations, outright subsidies, tax-exempt bond issues, exemption from regulations, and selective public infrastructure investments. As a result, only projects with political support can happen, and every skyscraper is a monument to the political deals that enabled it to get built. The result is capitalist in the sense of being privately owned, but it is not a free market. Government is expected by developers to keep a steady flow of profits going (while keeping politically-unconnected competitors out of the game.) It is expected by construction unions to keep a steady flow of construction jobs. It is expected by the public to deliver shiny new skyscrapers full of jobs.
  10. In science and technology, corporatism principally takes the form of federal government financing of research expenditures whose value is difficult for the private sector to capture on its own. Government pays for universities to provide industry with the raw feedstock of new discoveries that can be commercialized. State governments have entered this game on a lesser scale. Tax credits for research and development may also be interpreted as a public subsidy.
  11. In the capital markets, the quintessential corporatist institution is the Federal Reserve Bank. Legally, it is not technically a government agency at all but a cartel of private banks. Prior to 1913, the maintenance of a viable capital market in the U.S. was not a government responsibility.5 From the 30's to the 70's, the Fed tried to institute the grand corporatist project of Keynesianism, but abandoned it when inflation proved it unworkable. Nevertheless, the responsibilities of the Fed have tended to grow as people expect it, for example, to bail out a falling stock market with cheap credit, as I have mentioned before.
  12. Bankers are quite well aware that they can make speculative loans to financially weak nations and count on being bailed out by the government if anything goes wrong. Naturally, this creates a moral hazard, not to mention a misallocation of capital. But given that the Left wants to see capital allocated to the Third World, the Right wants banks to be profitable, and the public fears a crash, the bankers can always count on a bailout.

One can see how corporatism is likely to expand in the future. The privatization of Social Security is off for now, but remains inevitable, simply because there is no sustainable way to provide for a future income stream other than saving money now. But the stock market decline of the past few years has destroyed public trust that this market will always provide a reliable store of value, meaning that people will inevitably turn to government to make it provide one. What form this will take, cannot be predicted, but any privatization of Social Security will be accompanied by some governmental mechanism to stabilize investments. At best, this may mean diversification requirements. At worst, it may mean some horrible politicization of the capital markets.

The concept of corporatism provides a good way to analyze the failure of HillaryCare. With its attempt to involve private insurance companies, this plan clearly made a (clumsy) attempt to conform to the corporatist model. It was supported by big companies like GM, which saw it as a way to offload its huge health-care costs. Fundamentally, I think it would have worked if it hadn't been such an arrogant, secretive, heavy-handed, all-at-once undertaking. We are gradually getting the corporatist equivalent of socialized medicine in this country anyway. Corporatized medicine will mean nominally private health plans for the employed that are so heavily regulated in what they can charge and what they must provide that they might as well be run by government. It will mean requirements for all businesses to give their employees health coverage (something big business will love because it will destroy a lot of their small-business competitors.) It will mean regulation of drug prices, which will eventually make drug companies wards of the state. Lastly, Medicare and Medicaid will expand, with the help of state plans, to cover whomever is left, with a tacit subsidy to emergency rooms to cover the last dregs.

As I said, all these can be viewed as ways in which the corporatist state buys people's cooperation. But one cannot play this game without becoming susceptible to it, so that people buy the state's cooperation, too. Naturally, this produces the partly-valid complaint that we have a government for sale to the highest bidder. But in a society where people, institutions, and social groups are politically for sale to the highest bidder, what else could one possibly expect?

Both Right and Left like corporatism in practice and are very cozy with it. But they are also ambivalent about it in theory, because it contradicts many of their cherished ideological beliefs.6 At the level of ideological self-characterization, neither side has fully grasped what corporatism is nor can quite bring itself to admit that it endorses it. Thus in its utterances, the intellectual Left is still reflexively anti-corporate and the Right anti-government. Part of the twisted genius of Bill Clinton was that he came closer to admitting we live in a corporatist society than any previous president. Bush, who made his personal fortune off a public-private deal concerning a stadium, is just as good at playing the game in practice, but on the ideological plane he mistakenly thinks that what the corporatist synthesis takes from socialism is "compassion." Hence his painfully sincere efforts to be politically correct and nice about everybody, since he intuitively grasps that Americans will not accept the rhetoric of pure capitalism.

Realizing that our society is corporatist is the key to undoing many conservative misunderstandings. For example, we tend to be puzzled when the rich support the Left, which under classical capitalism they generally didn't. But in a society where government takes care of business, they often have a lot to gain from big government. Not to mention the fact that whole classes of the wealthy, i.e. lawyers, doctors, lobbyists, environmental consultants, defense contractors and others, make their money either helping people deal with government or are indirectly funded by government. Ownership of property used to make people conservative because they intuitively grasped that the means of the conservation of property were bound up with the means of the conservation of everything else: religious orthodoxy to social mores to cultural tradition to the Constitution. But now that corporatism has co-opted threats to property ownership, they don't feel the need for these things anymore.

I consider it highly unlikely that corporatism can be overthrown, though objectionable parts of it can certainly be fought. I will discuss what it means to be conservative in a corporatist environment in a future article. The key thing for us to understand is that many of our assumptions about what furthers our cause and what doesn't were derived under the conditions of a more capitalist society and increasingly no longer hold.

1 This is not to say that government is necessarily the most efficient owner of infrastructure; I am well aware of the arguments for private toll roads and investor-owned utilities. It's just that, compared with the state-owned steel mills and supermarkets of pre-Thatcher Europe or the Soviet Union, they are not obvious failures. The quality, cost and productivity of publicly-owned utilities compares acceptably to privately-owned ones. And privatization of natural monopolies has problems of its own, as we saw in the California electricity crisis, even if these problems are caused by politics and do not refute the free-market ideal itself.
2 The final irony of corporatism is that it represents the triumph of the one 20th-Century ideology that is considered so utterly discredited that most educated people don't even bother to learn what it believed about economics: fascism. The exact means by which the end was carried out were very different in Mussolini's Italy, Franco's Spain, Hitler's Germany, or Tojo's Japan, and the manner was occluded by a lot of violence caused by other things, but the fundamental dynamic is the same as here: government assumed responsibility for guaranteeing the flow of material goods by private means after public confidence in the market's ability to do this collapsed. The fascists did it to avert communism. We did it for less desperate reasons, but the idea is similar. (The German and Japanese Nazis were not fascists, strictly speaking, but the core of their economics, separate from their use of plunder, was similar. See my article on what the Nazis were really about.)
3 See my review of BoBos in Paradise. The Republican share of the rich vote is declining.
4 The political class loves corporatism because it enables them to establish themselves in stable, profitable brokerage-relationships in which they manage the exchange of favors between government and the public in exchange for political support. This is a much easier way to stay in office than focusing their efforts on contentious issues and the public's fickle opinions about them.
5 This responsibility devolved in practice onto the Morgan Bank on Wall Street, which organized ad-hoc groups of banks to stabilize markets and enforce standards when needed. See the fascinating account in Ron Chernow's The House of Morgan.
6 The recently faddish book Empire is an attempt to understand global corporatism from a neo-Marxist point of view. Although rich in hit-or-miss insights, its Marxist assumptions prevent it from getting it right. Marxists have been observing the emergence of corporatism, and desperately trying to update Marxism to accommodate it, for a long time now, the most philosophically interesting attempt being that of Jürgen Habermas in Legitimation Crisis. Such attempts can only be accurate insofar as they pass out of Marxism entirely.

Plutocracy & Corporate Rule

Mattern: The Rise Of Plutocracy & Corporate Rule

Friday, 9 December 2005, 4:16 pm
Opinion: Douglas Mattern

The Decline Of Democracy And Rise Of Plutocracy And Corporate Rule

We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great
wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both
- Supreme Court Justice Louis B. Brandeis

By Douglas Mattern

It's difficult to comprehend how the political leadership in the United States of America has degenerated from the brilliant leadership of Franklin Roosevelt and the inspiration of John Kennedy to the current administration of Bush the Second.

The U.S. has sadly declined from the noble democratic ideals so eloquently expressed by President Roosevelt on the role of government: "The pace of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough to those who have too little."

This ideal has degraded to a "greed is good" philosophy and the Ronald Reagan drivel that "government is the problem." Add the many politicians that are bought by corporate America through campaign donations and the result is legislation that is transforming the U.S. from a democracy to a plutocracy where the rich rule.

And today we do not have both. The richest 1 percent of Americans now have more income that the bottom 96 million. The richest 1 percent owns nearly half the country's wealth. The top 10 percent owns 80 percent of the wealth. The Census Bureau reports the gap between rich and poor is the largest in 75 years, just before the Great Depression.

Moreover, it's getting worse under the woeful leadership of the Bush Administration. Last year, for example, another one million Americans were added to the poverty role that now totals 37 million of our citizens. As the number of people in poverty rises, so does the number of billionaires in this country, over 225 and increasing.

The 2005 Human Development Report (HDR) that is issued annually by the United Nations and covers all 191 Member States shows the U.S. ranks 10th among the world's nations in the category that combines health quality, education, and standard of living. In the category of life expectancy the U.S. ranks 29th. In the poverty index involving the richest 18 countries, the U.S. ranks at the bottom in 17th place. This is a disgraceful condition in the world's richest country and a betrayal of the hard-fought struggles for democracy and equality waged in past decades by American workers.

The globalization free-market policy led by the U.S. has also produced gross inequality in many parts of the world. The HDR states: "Large parts of the Developing World are being left behind." and further, "human development gaps between rich and poor countries, already large, are widening."

The HDR states: "For all of the highly visible achievements, the reach of globalization and scientific advance falls far short of ending the unnecessary suffering, debilitating diseases and death from preventable illness that blight the lives of the world's poor people."

On the global level, 20 percent of the population holds over 75 percent of the wealth. A few hundred billionaires have compiled as much wealth as half of humanity. This inequality is the source of great unrest and protest with the most recent example at the Fourth Summit of the Americas held in Argentina with most of the hostility directed at Bush the Second.

Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime
- Aristotle

Academician Bernard Poirot-Delpech wrote in the French newspaper Le Monde a few years ago: "The temptation is to shut ourselves off,cover our eyes and applaud the use of force, but the tide of the poor keeps coming, wave after wave, each time stronger and stronger. The Third World War has begun, waged by the rich against all others."

Globalization should mean working together to create a just world community for the 21st century and not waging a kind of economic warfare to hoard the world's wealth and resources for a minority that also has no consideration for leaving precious resources for future generations.

What we have is not globalization for the many, but corporate globalization to serve the interests of a few rich governments, the multinationals, and in the process making the rich fabulously richer.

Corporate globalization is undemocratic and destructive. It is also an environmental nightmare due to its dependency on mass consumption and waste, along with turning our planet into a giant marketplace where everything is for sale to the highest bidder.

We must achieve globalization that is democratic and serves all the people with new economic models, and where it would be unthinkable for a few billionaires to possess as much wealth a billion poor people.