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Elite [Dominance] Theory and the Revolt of the Elite
(Silent Coup, or Revolt of the Rich under Neoliberalism)

News Principal-agent problem Recommended Books Recommended Links The Iron Law of Oligarchy The Deep State Neoliberal "New Class" as variant of Soviet Nomenklatura
Audacioues Oligarchy and Loss of Trust The Pareto Law Amorality of neoliberal elite The Rise of the New Global Elite  Do the US intelligence agencies attempt to influence the US Presidential elections ? Crisis of legitimacy of neoliberal elite Two Party System as polyarchy
Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition Corporatism Neo-fascism National Security State New American Militarism Lesser evil trick of legitimizing disastrous, corrupt neoliberal politicians in US elections   Pluralism as a myth
Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Casino Capitalism Inverted Totalitarism Predator state Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism What's the Matter with Kansas
Neoliberal Brainwashing: Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few US and British media are servants of security apparatus Real war on reality Patterns of Propaganda The importance of controlling the narrative  New American Caste System Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich
Wrecking Crew: Notes on Republican Economic Policy Libertarian Philosophy  Media-Military-Industrial Complex Groupthink Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc

Introduction


Naturally the common people don't want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

Hermann Goering, President of the Reichstag, Nazi Party, and Luftwaffe Commander in Chief

In political science and sociology, elite [dominance] theory is a theory of the state which seeks to describe the power relationships in contemporary society. The theory posits that a small minority, consisting of members of the economic elite, policy-planning networks (which include not only think tanks, but also part of academia, see Econned) and selected members of "professional class", holds the most political power and that they acquire this power bypassing the democratic elections process and are able to hold into it for a long time (see Two Party System as polyarchy).

This, in a way, is close to position of "classic" or paleo conservatives (not to mix them with neocons). Their position has never been simply that a hierarchical society is better than an egalitarian one; it always has been that an egalitarian, genuinely democratic  society is impossible. That every society includes rulers and ruled, and it is rulers(the elite) who make critical decisions, no matter under which sauce: democratic republic, communist dictatorship, authoritarism  or some other variant.  The central question of politics, therefore is how to select the rulers in an optimal way so that those at the bottom of food chain were not mercilessly wiped out. Extremes meet and in fact Bolsheviks were other early adopters of the same "elite dominance" vision. Lenin’s classic  question “who, whom?” is an essence of Bolshevism. While Bolsheviks promised that a classless society would one day emerge as a variant of Christ Second Coming, in the meantime, however, they were open and enthusiastic practitioners of brutal power politics which they shrewdly called "dictatorship of proletariat", while in reality it was a dictatorship of the Party elite and state bureaucrats (so called "nomenklatura")

Under neoliberalism any democracy even theoretically is impossible and to claim otherwise is to engage in open propaganda. Even revolt of people, which is the past was a powerful control mechanism of the elite,  now is very unlikely due to the power and sophistication of repressive apparatus, power at which functionless of Stasi could only dream.. Through positions in corporations and corporate boards, as well as the influence over the policy-planning networks through financial support of foundations`` or positions with think tanks or policy-discussion groups, members of the "elite" are able to exert dominant power over the policy decisions of the corporations in their own favor (outsized bonuses is just one example here) and subdue the national governments to the interests of those corporations due to financial levers that corporate wealth provides.

A recent example of this can be found in the Forbes Magazine article [1] (published in December 2009) entitled The World's Most Powerful People, in which Forbes lists the 67 people, which the editors consider to be the most powerful people in the world (assigning one "slot" for each hundred million of humans).

The initial variant of this theory was proposed In 1956, C Wright Mills. In his book The Power Elite he described how political, corporate and military leaders in the US made policy with minimal, if al all, control, or even just consideration of preferences or concerns of ordinary citizens.

The majority of Americans now feel they are ruled by a remote, detached from their needs elite class.  As Robert Johnson noted "Oligarchy now is audacious. They don't really care if they are legitimate. Their slogan is: "Legitimate if you can, coerce if you have to, and accommodate if you must."  That creates  as Christopher Hayes  noted "national mood of exhaustion, frustration and betrayal" at the "near total failure of each pillar institution of our society."

As soon as we understand the dominance of elite is inevitable several fundamental questions arise:

Elite dominance theory postulates that there are powerful barriers that exist for citizens  participation of the citizens in the control of government. In less "politically correct" terms "rank-and-file" citizens are politically powerless. Still the stability of the society depends on the ability of the most capable members of the society, no matter in what strata they were born, to rise to the top.  Equal opportunities in education in this sense are of paramount importance and represent a real "safety valve" in the society. 

As for the question whether the elite is interested in stability and well-being of the given society, the key problem is to determine about which society we are talking. Elite low operates in transnational categories and can value stability of "transnational world" higher then stability and well-being of a given society. The idea that the national elite acts in the interest of the nation is now under review. Dissolution of the USSR, when the elite (aka nomenklatura)  singlehandingly decimated and "privatized" the whole country to get their "fair share" of wealth is a telling example, a textbook example of self-centered and destructive behavior of  new "transnational" elites.

It has shown that modern elites are not anymore connected with their country of origin and social background and roots. Paradoxically, the KGB elite actively participated in dismantling of the USSR, and Gorbachov was put in power mostly by efforts of Andropov, the guy who was the head of KGB.  Here is one telling comment:

IHaveLittleToAdd, Aug 28, 2014 9:03:13 AM

Considering the non-elite citizens of the US have effectively no say in policy, what would happen if all of a sudden our government and media began shooting straight? Seems to me, pretty much nothing. It's not that most of the people I know don't realize we are being deceived to advance an altogether hidden agenda, it's that they simply don't care and are unaware of even the fabricated story.

In other words, the world's ruling elites are abandoning their host countries. They have a global vision and ambitions, their families often live in countries other are then their native country (and the country of main business), and they do not accept any constraints (such as level of taxation) and limits (such as local laws) in the pursuance of their egotistical interests, which are basically money oriented.

They move their money to offshore zones to avoid taxation. They break with impunity local laws to increase profits. It is now common for the leaders and members of the ruling elite to base self esteem upon material success, accumulation of raw wealth, emphasize Randian positivist philosophy and downplay humanistic ideals such as respect and tolerance. They no longer feel in the same boat as the rest of the society and openly worship on the altar of unlimited, pathological greed. This is especially noticeable among the US and GB financial elite.  In the USA they also morphed both Republican party and Democratic party into a single party of  rent-seekers on behalf of the wealthier members of society.

Marx would turn in his grave, if he saw how his idea of international unity of workers mutated into the actual international unity of elites. And how elites instead of workers implement a version of socialism, "socialism for rich", or "corporate welfare society". And they do it much more effectively then communists ever managed to implement "socialism for working class" (which actually was never a real goal, just a convenient slogan).  And like Bolsheviks they also practice redistribution of profits. In the same direction toward "nomenklatura", but much more effectively (also under Stalin regime position in nomenklatura was a precarious, as Stalin practiced "purges" as a method for rotation of the elite)

With NAFTA as a prominent example, Jeff Faux had shown how national elites are morphing into a global governing class ('The Party of Davos') and are shaping the new global economy alongside the lines of their neoliberal gospel. Their long arms are the IMF, the WTO, transnational corporations and transnational economic agreements. Being transnational the US elite does not care that the technological engine of the 20th century, the USA, is fatally wounded. That its high-tech industry, which was envy of the whole world is now outsourced, education way too expensive and outside several top universities is quite mediocre, and its scientific power is waning.

In other words they no longer believe in a Benjamin Franklin's dictum: "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

Classic Elite theory

  “Now, there's one thing you might have noticed I don't complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don't fall out of the sky. They don't pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It's what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you're going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain't going to do any good; you're just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it's not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here... like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There's a nice campaign slogan for somebody: 'The Public Sucks. F*ck Hope.”

-- George Gavlin

Classic Elite [Dominance] Theory is based on several ideas:

  1. Power lies in the positions of authority in key economic and political institutions.  
  2. The Iron Law of Oligarchy is a political theory, first developed by the German sociologist Robert Michels in his book 1915 Political Parties. Michels was an anarcho-syndicalist at the time he formulated the Law. He later became an important ideologue of Mussolini's fascist regime in Italy. The simplest formulation of the 'Iron Law of Oligarchy': "Who says organization, says oligarchy." In essence Iron law of oligarchy postulate that any complex organization self-generate its own elite, an oligarchy that has disproportional influence on the decisions made in the organization and is pretty autonomous from "rank-and-file" members and is little affected by elections. As such Iron law of oligarchy stands in stark opposition to pluralism and suggests that "participatory democracy" is a utopian ideal and that democracy is always limited to very narrow strata of existing oligarchy (top 0.01% in the USA). It also stands in opposition to state autonomy theory. 
  3. Pareto principle is related to the original observation was in connection concentration of the wealth in top 20% of the population. Pareto noticed that 80% of Italy's land was owned by 20% of the population. He then carried out surveys on a variety of other countries and found to his surprise that a similar distribution applied. Due to the scale-invariant nature of the power law relationship, the relationship applies also to subsets of the income range. Even if we take the ten wealthiest individuals in the world, we see that the top three (Carlos Slim Helú, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates) own as much as the next seven put together. A chart that gave the inequality a very visible and comprehensible form, the so-called 'champagne glass' effect, was contained in the 1992 United Nations Development Program Report, which showed the distribution of global income to be very uneven, with the richest 20% of the world's population controlling 82.7% of the world's income.
    Distribution of world GDP, 1989[8]
    Quintile of population Income
    Richest 20% 82.70%
    Second 20% 11.75%
    Third 20% 2.30%
    Fourth 20% 1.85%
    Poorest 20% 1.40%

    The Pareto principle has also been used to attribute the widening economic inequality in the United States to 'skill-biased technical change'—i.e. income growth accrues to those with the education and skills required to take advantage of new technology and globalization. 

  4. The psychological difference that sets elites apart is that they have personal resources, for instance intelligence and skills, money, and a vested interest in the government; while the rest are relatively incompetent and do not have the capabilities of governing themselves and are deprived of money. That means that once in power the elite are resourceful and will strive to sustain its rule. 
  5. The elite have the most to lose if government or state failed as Russian elite discovered twice in the last century. So there are some natural limits of plundering of the state by the elite. 
  6. The simple plurality voting system is a single-winner voting system also called  winner-takes-all or  first-past-the-post. The latter term is an analogy to horse racing, where the winner of the race is the first to pass a particular point (the "post") on the track, after which all other runners automatically lose. Elections in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada belong to this category. In this voting there is no requirement that the winner gain an absolute majority of votes. Duverger's law is a principle which asserts that any plurality voting system elections naturally impose a two-party system  That means that single-winner voting system essentially hand all the power to the elite as it is elite that controls the electability of candidates from both parties. The discovery of this tendency is attributed to Maurice Duverger, a French sociologist who observed the effect and recorded it in several papers published in the 1950s and 1960s. In the course of further research, other political scientists began calling the effect a "law" or principle. Duverger's law suggests a nexus or synthesis between a party system and an electoral system: a proportional representation (PR) system creates the electoral conditions necessary to foster party development while a plurality system marginalizes smaller political parties, resulting in what is known as a two-party system.

The top twelve classical elite theorists include

  1. Karl Marx  is typically cited, along with Émile Durkheim and Max Weber, as one of the three principal architects of modern social science. Although the key postulate of Marxism about liberating role of proletariat proved wrong, Marxism made a tremendous contribution into understanding of power structure of the society, pointing that all power is concentrated directly or indirectly in owners of capital hands: a sociological theory of class domination. Marxism teaches that all societies progress through the dialectic of class struggle: a conflict between an ownership class which controls production and a lower class which produces the labor for goods. He called the current socio-economic form of society (capitalism) "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie" that is run by the wealthy elite purely for own benefit, and predicted that, like previous socioeconomic systems, it would inevitably produce internal tensions within different faction of the elite. He first understood that political class represents a powerful force that is somewhat independent from economic foundations, especially if it is organized as a political party (and state can even be dominated by a fervent ideological network like USSR, China, Saudi Arabia,  Iran since 1979).  and that the current political elite is vary to redistribute this power with other factions of the elite even if relative balance of power within various factions changed.  What Marx give to the world is the understanding is that of Western history from the disintegration of Roman Empire was about the deadly conflict between rising factions of economic elite (industrial, landed, banking, etc) and existing political elite, with an occasional and temporary coalitions with peasants or artisans who tried to take advantage of the divisions in elite circles. So what Marx incorrectly called class struggle was actually a deadly struggle between economic and political elites within a society. In the 17th and 18th centuries it begins to make sense to describe the state -- paraphrasing Marx -- as an executive committee for managing the common affairs of the elite.  Generally speaking, Marx overstated the importance of industrial capitalists as compared to landed elites within the ruling circles of the 19th century, and of urban workers as compared to other urban dwellers and peasants (Hamilton, 1991). 
  2. Thorstein Veblen combined sociology with economics in his masterpiece The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899) where he argued that there was a basic distinction between the productiveness of "industry", run by engineers manufacturing goods, vis-à-vis the parasitism of "business" that exists only to make profits for elite that he called  a leisure class. The chief activity of the elite was "conspicuous consumption", and their economic contribution is "waste," activity that contributes nothing to productivity. The American economy was thereby made inefficient and corrupt though Veblen never made that claim explicit. He believed that technological advances were the driving force behind cultural change, but, unlike many contemporaries, refused to connect change with progress. Although Veblen was sympathetic to state ownership of industry, he had a low opinion of workers and the labor movement. He pointed out that the new industrial processes created a conflict between businessmen and engineers, with businessmen representing the older order and engineers as the innovators of new ways of doing things. In combination with the tendencies described in The Theory of the Leisure Class, this conflict resulted in waste and “predation” that served to enhance the social status of those who could benefit from predatory claims to goods and services. 
  3. Vilfredo Pareto. Pareto emphasized the psychological and intellectual superiority that the Elites obtained, he believed that the elites were the highest accomplishers in any field and he discussed how there were two types of Elites
    1. governing elites
    2. non-governing elites

    He also extended on the idea that a whole elite can be replaced by a new one and how one can circulate from being elite to non-elite. 

  4. Gaetano Mosca. Mosca emphasized the sociological and personal characteristics of elites. He said elites are an organized minority and that the masses are an unorganized majority. The ruling class is composed of the ruling elite and the sub-elites. He divides the world into two groups:
    1. ruling class
    2. class that is ruled

    Mosca asserts that elites have intellectual, moral, and material superiority and/or other qualities that is highly esteemed and influential. 

  5. Robert Michels.  German sociologist Robert Michels developed The Iron Law of Oligarchy in his book  Political Parties published in 1915.  The Iron Law of Oligarchy  asserts that social and political organizations are run by few individuals, and social organization and labor division are the key. He believed that all organizations are elitist and that existence of elites is based on several factors that come into play in the bureaucratic structure of any large political organization:
    1. Need for leaders, as well as for specialized staff and facilities.
    2. The relative scarcity of the people with the psychological attributes of the leaders
    3. Natural monopolization of the their position by elected leaders within any sizable organization and related subversion of the democratic process even in organizations devoted to the promotion of democracy.

    Michels stressed several factors that underlie the 'Iron Law of Oligarchy'.

    In other words rule by an elite (aka "oligarchy") is inevitable within any large organization and society as a whole because both  "tactical and technical necessities".  As Michels stated:

    "It is organization which gives birth to the dominion of the elected over the electors, of the mandataries over the mandators, of the delegates over the delegators. Who says organization, says oligarchy".

     He went on to state that "Historical evolution mocks all the prophylactic measures that have been adopted for the prevention of oligarchy." That means that the official goal of democracy of eliminating elite rule is impossible, and any "democracy" is always just a façade legitimizing the rule of a particular elite. What is important is the level of mobility of "non-elite" to the elite and the rotation of the elite.  

  6. C. Wright Mills. Mills published his book The Power Elite in 1956, which provided a new sociological perspective on structure of power in the United States. He identified a triumvirate of power groups - political, economic and military - which form a distinguishable, although not unified, power-wielding body in the United States. This theory later was enhanced by Michael Mann who proposed that the power structures within Western civilization, and probably other civilizations, too, are best understood by determining the intertwining and relative importance at any given time of the organizations based in four "overlapping and intersecting sociospatial networks of power" (Mann, 1986, p. 1). These networks are ideological, economic, military, and political. This view is called "The IEMP model".  Simultaneous crisis in several of those networks, the phenomenon we observe now in the USA and previously in the USSR represent a social crisis.

    Mills proposed that those groups emerged through a process of rationalization at work that occurs in all advanced industrial societies. And in all of them power became concentrated at the very top (0.01%), funneling overall control into the hands of a very small, somewhat corrupt group.  This tendency is reflected in a decline of politics as an arena for debate about social change and relegation it to a merely formal level of discourse about non-essential issues, a smokescreen for backroom dealings of the oligarchy,

    This macro-scale analysis sought to point out that the degradation of democracy in "advanced" societies in not accidental. It reflects the fact that real power generally lies outside  of the elected representatives. A main influence on the emergence of this views on politics was Franz Leopold Neumann's book, Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism, 1933-1944 , a study of how Nazism came to power in the German democratic state.

    It provided the tools to analyze the structure of a political system and served as a warning of what could happen in a modern capitalistic democracy. 

  7. Floyd Hunter. The elite theory analysis of power was also applied on the micro scale in community power studies such as that by Floyd Hunter (1953). Hunter examined in detail the power relationships evident in his "Regional City" looking for the "real" holders of power rather than those in obvious official positions. He posited a structural-functional approach which mapped the hierarchies and webs of interconnection operating within the city – mapping relationships of power between businessmen, politicians, clergy etc.

    The study debunks current mythology about the level of ‘democracy’ is present within urban politics.

    This type of analysis was also used in later, larger scale, studies such as that carried out by M. Schwartz examining the power structures within the corporate elite in the USA. 

  8. G. William Domhoff. In his book Who Rules America?, G. William Domhoff researched local and national decision making process networks in order to illustrate the power structure in the United States. He asserts, much like Hunter, that an elite class that owns and manages large income-producing properties (like banks and corporations) dominate the American power structure politically and economically.  
  9. James Burnham. Burnham’s early work The Managerial Revolution sought to express the movement of all functional power into the hands of appointed managers rather than the owners – separating ownership and control. Many of these ideas were adapted by paleoconservatives Samuel T. Francis and Paul Gottfried in their theories of the managerial state. Burnham's thoughts on Elite Theory were elucidated more specifically in his book The Machiavellians which discusses the thoughts of, among others, Pareto, Mosca, and Michels; in it he attempts to analyze of both elites and politics generally from his background as a former Trotskyite. 
  10. John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) proposed the term technostructure in his book "The New Industrial State" (1967) to describe the group of managers within an enterprise (or an administrative body) with considerable political influence (especially true for financial brass) and the level of control on nation's economy. It usually refers to so called managerial capitalism where top managers, scientists, or lawyers acquire more power and influence than the shareholders in the corporation. They are the de-facto the owners of the corporation, while shareholders (outside a few large one) are generally powerless to influence the way the corporation develops and do business. 
  11. Robert D. Putnam

    Putnam saw the development of technical and exclusive knowledge among administrators and other specialist groups as a mechanism by which power is stripped from the democratic process and slipped sideways to the advisors and specialists influencing the decision making process.[7]

    "If the dominant figures of the past hundred years have been the entrepreneur, the businessman, and the industrial executive, the ‘new men’ are the scientists, the mathematicians, the economists, and the engineers of the new intellectual technology."

  12. Thomas R. Dye. Dye in his book Top Down Policymaking, argues that U.S. public policy does not result from the "demands of the people," but from quite opposite phenomenon -- the Elite consensus found in Washington. It is a consensus between key non-profit foundations, think tanks, special-interest groups, and prominent lobbyists and law firms. Dye's thesis is further expanded upon in his works: The Irony of Democracy, Politics in America, Understanding Public Policy, and Who's Running America?

The idea of "The Revolt of the Elites" and "The Quiet Coup" by Financial Oligarchy

Previous consensus was that elite generally shares the idea that the society in which they live works best when all members of society can engage in upward mobility and improve their status via education and entrepreneurship. If there is significant upward mobility channels then members of society perceive themselves as belonging to the same team and care about ensuring that that team succeeds.

But in new" internationalized" world dominated by transnational corporations, the notion that a company or corporate executive of transnational corporation or professional (for example, IT professional) working is such a corporation is bound by an allegiance to their country of origin and work for its benefit is passé. The elites  of today are bound to their corporations, one another, not to the countries. And their greed is just overwhelming and decimates all other considerations such as patriotism and moral obligations. Amorality became a norm. 

People outside the elite became just tools, not compatriots and their standard of living means nothing.  This new generation of transnational elite are running the country like a regular for profit corporation in which they are both the members of the board and the controlling shareholders.

Not all elites are created equal. In the last half-century we have witnessed a dramatic expansion of American corporate power into every corner of the world, accompanied by an equally awesome growth in U.S. military power. The means the US elite is higher on pecking order then elites of other countries. That does not make it less transnational.  And this new power of the USA as a sole superpower state  is not used in traditional way to conquer and plunder the countries (like the USA did in Philippines, Mexico and other countries in the past). Instead it is used to support subservient regimes that favor business interests of transnational companies, putting those interests above interest of the country and its people. And if necessity remove non-complaint regimes by force The USA foreign policy now is essentially based on the coercive use of economic, political, and military power to expropriate other nations land, labor, capital, natural resources, commerce, and markets in the interests of transnational corporation, not in the interest of the American people. Now the decisive factor in the selection of allies and foes is the respective actors' position on "free market policies" like trade liberalization, privatization and deregulation, that favor international corporations and related transnational part of elite. In fact, the USA recent "patterns of intervention" reveal no or little correlation between democratic ideals and the role the US plays in the affairs of other nations. Globalization that is very successfully enforced by the USA foreign policy establishment (which contrary to its critics proved to be very apt and competent in achieving its goals) amounts to a Quiet coup d'état by transnational capital over the peoples of the world, subverting democracy and national autonomy everywhere including the USA itself, while ushering in a new stage of international expropriation of resources in the interest of elite and sending the US citizens to die for the benefit of transnational corporations. the blowback for the US people includes a national security state, an inviolable Pentagon budget, and rampant PTSD among military personnel.  From this point of view the popular but simplistic notion that a neoconservative cabal headed by George W. Bush has somehow 'hijacked' the U.S. government looks extremely naive.

In effect the transnational elite behaves as an occupying  power, although less brutal, toward the US population as well.  In a way America  is just another casualty of the new transnational elite. Cutbacks in social programs, decaying infrastructure, declining wages, massive unemployment, and the rise of municipalities facing bankruptcy means not only that a republic in decline, but that unchecked appetites of transnational elite fit classic Marxist scenario -- to expropriate as much above minimum subsistence level as possible. 

An important additional factor is the a new elite despise commoners. As Christoper Lasch pointed out in his groundbreaking book: "The new elites, the professional classes in particular, regard the masses with mingled scorn and apprehension."

Playing with financial flows as if they are computer game lead to high levels of unemployment, which can no longer be regarded as aberrational, but due to labor arbitrage and dramatically improved communications became a necessary part of the working mechanisms of  modern capitalist mode of production.

Oligarchy became really audacious. They don't really care if they are legitimate. "Legitimate if you can, coerce if you have to, and accommodate if you must." Crass materialism and accumulation of excessive wealth became the primary goal. Privatization and sell of public assets -- the mean to achieve those goals.

They have what Dr. John McMurtry has termed "The Ruling Group Mind"  when reality is warped to  conform to manufactured delusions submerging the group and its members within a set of  hysteria, denials and projections...

The USA still has a privileged position in this "new world order" but no my much. As Napoleon Bonaparte observed

"When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes.

Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain." 

"The Revolt of the Elites" by Christoper Lasch

Christopher Lasch (1932-1994) was a historian and penetrating social critic. He was the first who promoted the idea  that the values and attitudes of elites and those of the working classes have dramatically diverged to the extent that elite became a natural "fifth column" within the state and generally hostile to the nation-state well-being and especially to the well-being of lower strata of the population. 

In 1994, Lasch had come to believe that the economic and cultural elite of the United States, who historically has insured the continuity of a culture had lost faith in the traditional values (which that organized the country culture since its inception), and replaced then with unrestrained greed . He saw a threat to the continuation of Western civilization was not a mass revolt as envisioned by the pro-communist New Left of the 1960's, but a rejection of its liberal and pluralistic values by the educated elite. (see Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult)

In the process of throwing off  elements of traditional morality, transnational elite adopted Nietzschean "Übermensch" mentality (typically in the form of Objectivism).  They also have mastered the art of the shameless transgression of authority for their own enrichment. This tendency became possible because of computer revolution. Computers dramatically increased the capability of transnational corporation making possible growth far beyond that was possible before them. They also enabled "hacking" on monetary system to the extent that was not possible in 1920, although financial elite were always capable to find a sure way to a huge crash to be bailed out by the state again and again. . 

Here is a couple of insightful reviews from Amazon:

According to Lasch, contrary to the thesis advanced by Ortega y Gasset in The Revolt of the Masses, the revolt of the masses is over ending in the defeat of communism and is to be followed by a revolt of the cultural elite. Lasch advances arguments showing how we have reached a new stage of political development in America where the elite have become increasingly detached from the concerns of the common man. Unlike the elite of past ages, the former aristocracy of wealth and status, the new elite constitutes an aristocracy of merit. However, unlike in past ages, the new elite have increasingly alienated themselves from the common man. Lasch demonstrates how an increasing division between rich and poor, in which the working class has become alienated from the intellectual class of "symbolic analysts", has led to an utter sense of apathy among the American people.

In addition, the values of the new intellectual class are utterly different from the values of the man in the street. While the working class is fundamentally culturally conservative (a fact which Lasch has certainly latched onto) demanding moral certainties on such issues as homosexual rights, abortion, feminism, patriotism, and religion, the intellectual class demands political correctness advocating affirmative action, feminism, homosexual liberation, and promoting a radical (or rather, pseudo-radical) agenda.

Lasch seems to sympathize with the populists of old, who sought a sort of third way between the horrors of monopoly capitalism and the welfare state. Populists promoted the values of the common man, thus maintaining a cultural conservativism, while at the same time demonstrating an innate fear of bigness and far off bureaucracy. In addition, Lasch sees in communitarianism which seeks to emphasize the role of community, neighborhoods, and organic connectedness (contrary to libertarianism which emphasizes the individual at the whim of market forces and cultural pluralism) a new hope for the working class and cultural conservativism. Those who are opposed to communitarianism argue that based on previous experiments with small close knit communities (particularly emphasizing cases such as Calvin's Geneva and the New England Puritans but also small towns and neighborhoods) that these are oppressive. Obviously a balance needs to be struck; nevertheless, a re-emphasis on community and traditional values is obviously an important way to achieve improvement in human conditions. Unlike many right wing libertarians who may give lip service to "family values" but who then place the family at the whim of unfettered markets and corporate interests, Lasch argues for a restraint in order to facilitate family and community growth. Lasch shows how class remains an important division with equality of opportunity being merely a further means to oppress the working class. In addition, Lasch shows how the left uses the issue of race (extended arbitrarily to include all minorities and underprivileged - as defined by them, particularly so as to include whites) to create further difficulties for the common man, who is utterly alienated by political correctness. Lasch also argues that feminism remains an important force for the new class, because by allowing more women to enter the workforce they have achieved a situation whereby they perpetuate themselves. Lasch also turns his attention to education, showing how the modern system of compulsory education has failed, emphasizing the failures of such individuals as Horace Mann, who sought to eliminate politics from education. In addition, Lasch turns his attention to the university system, a hotbed of political correctness, multiculturalism, and postmodernist philosophies. Lasch shows how these philosophies have totally alienated any contact that universities may have with ordinary citizens, becoming more and more jargon-laden and specialized while at the same time promoting values completely contrary to those of the common man. Lasch refers to this as "academic pseudo-radicalism" to show how it differs distinctly from true radicalism, how it is fundamentally elitist, and how it further denies opportunities to the very minorities that it claims to so valiantly protect. However, unlike many of the other right wing critics of the university system, Lasch argues that corporations have continued to play a large role in the development of departments leading to a weakening of humanities programs. I found Lasch's criticisms of political correctness in the university system to be particularly cogent. While economically Lasch is opposed to unfettered capitalism, nevertheless he finds room to criticize the welfare state and government bureaucracy which promotes dependency and a culture of victimization. Lasch also shows how respect and shame have been misunderstood by the modern age. In addition, Lasch shows how a culture of narcissism has developed in this country, in which individuals have become excessively self interested and rely heavily on psychotherapies which promote self esteem and "happiness" as the highest good. Lasch also argues for a return to traditional religious values as a means for achieving hope and providing an inoculation against otherwise difficult times.

As a cultural conservative, I found Lasch's brand of populism/communitarianism to be particularly interesting. Lasch's analysis of the elites seems to make sense in light of their lack of contact with everyday reality, their lack of respect for common sense and the average person, and their lack of ties to nation and place. Our country is increasingly controlled by political elites in both parties who serve merely as tourists with little interest in America beyond what makes them money. In this respect, I believe Lasch's arguments to be particularly well thought out.

caroline miranda "caroline miranda" (los angeles) -

The aristocratic elitism of modern society's version of royalty--well-educated liberals, university administrators, race and class baiters and political elites who fear accusations of being insufficiently sophisticated and sensitive--are tossed off their thrones by Christopher Lasch. Lasch gives a clear and comprehensive overview of the social and political upheaval of the last 40 years that occurred under the noses of a bland and uncaring populace.

He explains the changes in America that led to morality becoming a code word for judgmentalism, standards becoming a code word for racism, multiculturalism becoming a code word for denigrating an evil European culture, the loss of family and neighborhood hailed as necessary for individual freedom, and the death of social cohesiveness, which never was mourned. "Most of our spiritual energy is devoted precisely to a campaign against shame and guilt, the object of which is to make people 'feel good about themselves.' The churches themselves have enlisted in this therapeutic exercise...," he notes.

Lest one think this is a Bill Bennett-type bromide, Lasch's observations extend far beyond the ain't-divorce-and-latchkey-children-terrible speech and extends to the paradox of modern society in which people have never been better off materially because of capitalism but so in danger of losing the core of their souls and their society's democratic values.

Individuality without community connection and the disintegration of unstated but commonly understood traditional rules and obligations that neighbors and a community once believed they owed other threaten democracy, Lasch believes.

When multiculturalism is seen from a limited tourist-type approach of folk dances and exotic food, when crime and violence in ethnic neighborhoods replace social cohesiveness, when impersonal malls and fast food restaurants displace informal gathering spots where people once discussed ideas and experiences, and when intimidation and name-calling replace reasoned debate, the country is deeply troubled, he notes. Worse yet, no one seems to find these developments alarming, so enmeshed they are in their structured public work worlds and isolated private home worlds.

Lasch pessimistically regrets the faltering of the foundation of a culture lost the very core of its democratic ideals: reasoned governance by an informed populace with a sense of community and ethics. He decries the usurpation of cultural norms instigated by elites, who rarely venture outside their smug circle of we-know-best-for-you compatriots and who refuse to acknowledge a need for individual responsibility and rather see the average, ordinary working person as a spigot for unending social spending and an unsophisticated inferior.

"...Identity politics has come to serve as a substitute for religion--or at least for the feeling of self-righteousness that is so commonly confused with religion," he says, while meanwhile decrying the modern tendency to use religion as a way to achieve personal happiness instead of as a guide to rightful living.

Lasch's clear and flowing writing style and his insights into the disorder and straying of modern society from its historical anchor make the book a timely and informative expose of many of the ills of modern society.

The Quiet Coup of Financial Oligarchy by Simon Johnson

Simon Johnson is the Ronald A. Kurtz (1954) Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT's Sloan School of Management. He wrote an influential piece in the Atlantic Magazine titled The Quiet Coup.  While in reality translation elite is much broader, he concentrated on financial elite (or financial oligarchy) as the dominant player among them and provided an interesting perspective on how they got dominant power position and fully control government of a particular country (in this case the USA was an example):

Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason—the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit—and, most of the time, genteel—oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders.

When a country like Indonesia or South Korea or Russia grows, so do the ambitions of its captains of industry. As masters of their mini-universe, these people make some investments that clearly benefit the broader economy, but they also start making bigger and riskier bets. They reckon—correctly, in most cases—that their political connections will allow them to push onto the government any substantial problems that arise.

In Russia, for instance, the private sector is now in serious trouble because, over the past five years or so, it borrowed at least $490 billion from global banks and investors on the assumption that the country’s energy sector could support a permanent increase in consumption throughout the economy. As Russia’s oligarchs spent this capital, acquiring other companies and embarking on ambitious investment plans that generated jobs, their importance to the political elite increased. Growing political support meant better access to lucrative contracts, tax breaks, and subsidies. And foreign investors could not have been more pleased; all other things being equal, they prefer to lend money to people who have the implicit backing of their national governments, even if that backing gives off the faint whiff of corruption.

But inevitably, emerging-market oligarchs get carried away; they waste money and build massive business empires on a mountain of debt. Local banks, sometimes pressured by the government, become too willing to extend credit to the elite and to those who depend on them. Overborrowing always ends badly, whether for an individual, a company, or a country. Sooner or later, credit conditions become tighter and no one will lend you money on anything close to affordable terms.

The downward spiral that follows is remarkably steep. Enormous companies teeter on the brink of default, and the local banks that have lent to them collapse. Yesterday’s “public-private partnerships” are relabeled “crony capitalism.” With credit unavailable, economic paralysis ensues, and conditions just get worse and worse. The government is forced to draw down its foreign-currency reserves to pay for imports, service debt, and cover private losses. But these reserves will eventually run out. If the country cannot right itself before that happens, it will default on its sovereign debt and become an economic pariah. The government, in its race to stop the bleeding, will typically need to wipe out some of the national champions—now hemorrhaging cash—and usually restructure a banking system that’s gone badly out of balance. It will, in other words, need to squeeze at least some of its oligarchs.

Squeezing the oligarchs, though, is seldom the strategy of choice among emerging-market governments. Quite the contrary: at the outset of the crisis, the oligarchs are usually among the first to get extra help from the government, such as preferential access to foreign currency, or maybe a nice tax break, or—here’s a classic Kremlin bailout technique—the assumption of private debt obligations by the government. Under duress, generosity toward old friends takes many innovative forms. Meanwhile, needing to squeeze someone, most emerging-market governments look first to ordinary working folk—at least until the riots grow too large.

Eventually, as the oligarchs in Putin’s Russia now realize, some within the elite have to lose out before recovery can begin. It’s a game of musical chairs: there just aren’t enough currency reserves to take care of everyone, and the government cannot afford to take over private-sector debt completely.

He lays out the threat that the American society faced now -- capture of the government by the finance industry:

"The great wealth that the financial sector created and concentrated gave bankers enormous political weight—a weight not seen in the U.S. since the era of J.P. Morgan (the man). In that period, the banking panic of 1907 could be stopped only by coordination among private-sector bankers: no government entity was able to offer an effective response. But that first age of banking oligarchs came to an end with the passage of significant banking regulation in response to the Great Depression; the reemergence of an American financial oligarchy is quite recent."

"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—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time."

In his NPR interview with Terry Gross he demonstrated that he does not understand the fact that the mousetrap is closed and that financial oligarchy the ruling elite of the country without any significant countervailing forces. So he dispensed a pretty naive advice (Fighting America's 'Financial Oligarchy):

"We face at least two major, interrelated problems," Johnson writes. "The first is a desperately ill banking sector that threatens to choke off any incipient recovery that the fiscal stimulus might generate. The second is a political balance of power that gives the financial sector a veto over public policy, even as that sector loses popular support."

Johnson insists the U.S. must temporarily nationalize banks so the government can "wipe out bank shareholders, replace failed management, clean up the balance sheets, and then sell the banks back to the private sector." But, Johnson adds, the U.S. government is unlikely to take these steps while the financial oligarchy is still in place.

Unless the U.S. breaks up its financial oligarchy, Johnson warns that America could face a crisis that "could, in fact, be worse than the Great Depression — because the world is now so much more interconnected and because the banking sector is now so big."

A good discussion of his key ideas can be found at Jesse's Café Américain Sep 02, 2012 post  Reprise -- Simon Johnson On the Quiet Coup d'Etat in the Anglo-American Financial System

In an interview with MIT economist Simon Johnson which was posted here in February, 2009.

Have we heeded Simon Johnson's warning? Has he proven to be prescient? Is crony capitalism and the kleptocracy becoming bolder, more aggressive, ever more demanding?

"I think I'm signaling something a little bit shocking to Americans, and to myself, actually. Which is the situation we find ourselves in at this moment, this week, is very strongly reminiscent of the situations we've seen many times in other places.

But they're places we don't like to think of ourselves as being similar to. They're emerging markets. It's Russia or Indonesia or a Thailand type situation, or Korea. That's not comfortable. America is different. America is special. America is rich. And, yet, we've somehow find ourselves in the grip of the same sort of crisis and the same sort of oligarchs...

But, exactly what you said, it's a small group with a lot of power. A lot of wealth. They don't necessarily - they're not necessarily always the names, the household names that spring to mind, in this kind of context. But they are the people who could pull the strings. Who have the influence. Who call the shots...

...the signs that I see this week, the body language, the words, the op-eds, the testimony, the way they're treated by certain Congressional committees, it makes me feel very worried.

I have this feeling in my stomach that I felt in other countries, much poorer countries, countries that were headed into really difficult economic situation. When there's a small group of people who got you into a disaster, and who were still powerful. Disaster even made them more powerful. And you know you need to come in and break that power. And you can't. You're stuck....

The powerful people are the insiders. They're the CEOs of these banks. They're the people who run these banks. They're the people who pay themselves the massive bonuses at the end of the last year. Now, those bonuses are not the essence of the problem, but they are a symptom of an arrogance, and a feeling of invincibility, that tells you a lot about the culture of those organizations, and the attitudes of the people who lead them...

But it really shows you the arrogance, and I think these people think that they've won. They think it's over. They think it's won. They think that we're going to pay out ten or 20 percent of GDP to basically make them whole. It's astonishing....

...these people are throughout the system of government. They are very much at the forefront of the Treasury. The Treasury is apparently calling the shots on their economic policies.

This is a decisive moment. Either you break the power or we're stuck for a long time with this arrangement."

Bill Moyer's Journal - Interview with Simon Johnson, February, 2009.

Johnson also wrote a piece in the Atlantic Magazine titled The Quiet Coup. It may be worth re-reading.
Here is the introduction to this in The Fall of the American Republic: The Quiet Coup d'Etat in August 2010.
"I am not so optimistic that this reform is possible, because there has in fact been a soft coup d'etat in the US, which now exists in a state of crony corporatism that wields enormous influence over the media and within the government.

Let's be clear about this, the oligarchs are flush with victory, and feel that they are firmly in control, able to subvert and direct any popular movement to the support of their own fascist ends and unshakable will to power.

This is the contempt in which they hold the majority of American people and the political process: the common people are easily led fools, and everyone else who is smart enough to know better has their price. And they would beggar every middle class voter in the US before they will voluntarily give up one dime of their ill gotten gains.

But my model says that the oligarchs will continue to press their advantages, being flushed with victory, until they provoke a strong reaction that frightens everyone, like a wake up call, and the tide then turns to genuine reform."

As far as I can tell, we are right on track for a very bad time of it. And you might be surprised at how far a belief in exceptionalism and arrogant superiority can go before it finally ends, or more likely, falls.

Revolt of the Rich by Mike Lofgren

An interesting variation of the quiet coup theory was advanced by Mike Lofgren in his influence article Revolt of the Rich (TAC, August 27, 2012)

It was 1993, during congressional debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement. I was having lunch with a staffer for one of the rare Republican congressmen who opposed the policy of so-called free trade. To this day, I remember something my colleague said: “The rich elites of this country have far more in common with their counterparts in London, Paris, and Tokyo than with their fellow American citizens.”

That was only the beginning of the period when the realities of outsourced manufacturing, financialization of the economy, and growing income disparity started to seep into the public consciousness, so at the time it seemed like a striking and novel statement.

At the end of the Cold War many writers predicted the decline of the traditional nation-state. Some looked at the demise of the Soviet Union and foresaw the territorial state breaking up into statelets of different ethnic, religious, or economic compositions. This happened in the Balkans, the former Czechoslovakia, and Sudan. Others predicted a weakening of the state due to the rise of Fourth Generation warfare and the inability of national armies to adapt to it. The quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan lend credence to that theory. There have been numerous books about globalization and how it would eliminate borders. But I am unaware of a well-developed theory from that time about how the super-rich and the corporations they run would secede from the nation state.

I do not mean secession by physical withdrawal from the territory of the state, although that happens from time to time—for example, Erik Prince, who was born into a fortune, is related to the even bigger Amway fortune, and made yet another fortune as CEO of the mercenary-for-hire firm Blackwater, moved his company (renamed Xe) to the United Arab Emirates in 2011. What I mean by secession is a withdrawal into enclaves, an internal immigration, whereby the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot.

Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it. If one can afford private security, public safety is of no concern; if one owns a Gulfstream jet, crumbling bridges cause less apprehension—and viable public transportation doesn’t even show up on the radar screen. With private doctors on call and a chartered plane to get to the Mayo Clinic, why worry about Medicare?

Being in the country but not of it is what gives the contemporary American super-rich their quality of being abstracted and clueless. Perhaps that explains why Mitt Romney’s regular-guy anecdotes always seem a bit strained. I discussed this with a radio host who recounted a story about Robert Rubin, former secretary of the Treasury as well as an executive at Goldman Sachs and CitiGroup. Rubin was being chauffeured through Manhattan to reach some event whose attendees consisted of the Great and the Good such as himself. Along the way he encountered a traffic jam, and on arriving to his event—late—he complained to a city functionary with the power to look into it. “Where was the jam?” asked the functionary. Rubin, who had lived most of his life in Manhattan, a place of east-west numbered streets and north-south avenues, couldn’t tell him. The super-rich who determine our political arrangements apparently inhabit another, more refined dimension.

To some degree the rich have always secluded themselves from the gaze of the common herd; their habit for centuries has been to send their offspring to private schools. But now this habit is exacerbated by the plutocracy’s palpable animosity towards public education and public educators, as Michael Bloomberg has demonstrated. To the extent public education “reform” is popular among billionaires and their tax-exempt foundations, one suspects it is as a lever to divert the more than $500 billion dollars in annual federal, state, and local education funding into private hands — meaning themselves and their friends. What Halliburton did for U.S. Army logistics, school privatizers will do for public education. A century ago, at least we got some attractive public libraries out of Andrew Carnegie. Noblesse oblige like Carnegie’s is presently lacking among our seceding plutocracy.

In both world wars, even a Harvard man or a New York socialite might know the weight of an army pack. Now the military is for suckers from the laboring classes whose subprime mortgages you just sliced into CDOs and sold to gullible investors in order to buy your second Bentley or rustle up the cash to get Rod Stewart to perform at your birthday party. The sentiment among the super-rich towards the rest of America is often one of contempt rather than noblesse.

Stephen Schwarzman, the hedge fund billionaire CEO of the Blackstone Group who hired Rod Stewart for his $5-million birthday party, believes it is the rabble who are socially irresponsible. Speaking about low-income citizens who pay no income tax, he says: “You have to have skin in the game. I’m not saying how much people should do. But we should all be part of the system.”

But millions of Americans who do not pay federal income taxes do pay federal payroll taxes. These taxes are regressive, and the dirty little secret is that over the last several decades they have made up a greater and greater share of federal revenues. In 1950, payroll and other federal retirement contributions constituted 10.9 percent of all federal revenues. By 2007, the last “normal” economic year before federal revenues began falling, they made up 33.9 percent. By contrast, corporate income taxes were 26.4 percent of federal revenues in 1950. By 2007 they had fallen to 14.4 percent. So who has skin in the game?

... ... ...

Since the first ziggurats rose in ancient Babylonia, the so-called forces of order, stability, and tradition have feared a revolt from below. Beginning with Edmund Burke and Joseph de Maistre after the French Revolution, a whole genre of political writings—some classical liberal, some conservative, some reactionary—has propounded this theme. The title of Ortega y Gasset’s most famous work, The Revolt of the Masses, tells us something about the mental atmosphere of this literature.

But in globalized postmodern America, what if this whole vision about where order, stability, and a tolerable framework for governance come from, and who threatens those values, is inverted? What if Christopher Lasch came closer to the truth in The Revolt of the Elites, wherein he wrote, “In our time, the chief threat seems to come from those at the top of the social hierarchy, not the masses”? Lasch held that the elites—by which he meant not just the super-wealthy but also their managerial coat holders and professional apologists — were undermining the country’s promise as a constitutional republic with their prehensile greed, their asocial cultural values, and their absence of civic responsibility.

Lasch wrote that in 1995. Now, almost two decades later, the super-rich have achieved escape velocity from the gravitational pull of the very society they rule over. They have seceded from America.

Mike Lofgren also authored the book The Party Is Over How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted. Here is quote from one of Amazon reviews:

Over time, that sense of entitlement insensibly changed Democrats into what we in the Pentagon would call ENABLERS of Republicans. The Democratic enablers unwittingly played a crucial role in the demolition of the American dream, not unlike that played by infiltration troops in blitzkrieg. Infiltration troops soften up the front by slipping through defenses to find or create holes and weak areas for the tanks to roar thru to reap chaos and destruction deep in the enemy's rear area. Only in this case, the rear area being ruined is the American middle class, and the flood of tanks is taken up by the flood money supplied by the oligarchs who feather their nests by buying Democrats as well as Republicans in one seamless auction.

Put bluntly, to protect a sense of hereditary entitlement to the power that accompanied the coattails of FDR and the New Deal, Democrats abandoned their heritage and moved to Wall Street, Big Pharma, Defense, etc., and in so doing, insensibly mutated into faux Republicans. If you doubt this, look at the enervating, quasi-neoliberal bloviating by the self-inflating Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) or the cynical triangulations and warmongerings of Messrs. Clinton and Obama. The abdication of traditional Democratic principles gave Republican crazies more room to get even crazier, and together the faux Republicans and the real crazy Republicans reinforced each other to create a rightward shift in the American political dynamic that unleashed the emergence of a new gilded age, together with the emergence of a legalized plutocracy that criminal Russian oligarchs would envy. And this mutation came about in a remarkably short time of 30 to 40 years.

In so doing, the Democrats sold out their most important constituency, i.e., John Q. Average American, and colluded in the historic swindle that brought the great American middle class to the brink of impoverishment and debt peonage, a condition some times referred to chillingly in the tone-deaf salons of Versailles on the Potomac as the "new normal."

If you think collusion is too strong a term, I would urge you to think about Bill Clinton's (the DLC's choice for president in the 1992 election) collusion with Republicans in 1999 to nullify of the Depression era Glass-Steagle Act -- one of monuments of reform in the New Deal. This nullification was one of the main deregulatory "initiatives" that unleashed the greedy excesses that led to the 2007-8 financial meltdown. When he left office, Bill Clinton, by the way, did not pick up his grips and retire to a modest house in Independence Missouri like Harry Truman; he chose instead to join the plutocratic elite, where he is now well on his way to becoming a card-carrying member of the one-tenth of one-percent club of the mega rich. The bottom line: the Democrats' sense of entitlement and the consequent corruption of their principles have been a necessary, if not sufficient, condition in the emergence of the current political-economy that is destroying what is left of the middle class in our good ole USA. The reader would make a great mistake if he or she allowed the hilariously disgusting Republican hijinks described by Lofgren to brand his book as an anti-Republican polemic written by a convert, and miss his main message.

Mike, of course, states clearly in his title that his subject is how the madness of the Republicans and the uselessness of the Democrats reinforced each other over the last 30 to 40 years to hose the American People. It is the degenerate nature of their symbiotic relationship that is his thesis and should be the Left's call to arms.

I do not count on this happening, however. The faux Republicans are far more likely to try to exploit the embarrassment of riches in Mike's book for their narrow short-term political advantage, in yet another demonstration of the hypocrisy and opportunism that are central pillars propping up their losing mentality.

Neo-classical economics smoke screen in Yves Smith’s Econned

Chicago neoclassical economics school is a well known pseudo-science school, one of the pillars of Economic Lysenkoism (along with  Supply Side Economics).  This is an economic cult, an ideology of financial oligarchy. So it is more proper to it not neoclassical, but as aptly suggested by Bill Black “theoclassical”   or  Chicago Ponzinomics.  It is a neoliberal phenomenon, not neoclassical. Like in Lysenkoism, and high demand sects anybody who strays from the cult is in danger of being ostracized. As Mark Thoma observed:

Some years ago, when I first presented an empirical paper questioning some of the conventional views on trade to a high profile economics conference, a member of the audience (a very prominent economist and a former co-author of mine) shocked me with the question "why are you doing this?

There is a useful part of neoclassical economy related to thinking about an aggregate social phenomena in terms of costs and benefits of individual participants, and that can be sometimes (but not always) as a useful supplementary approach. Bastartized version of this notion which tries to imply cost-benefit motives in all human interactions is called Freakonomics. Still you can view some choices people make as tradeoffs between desired goals and social constraints (which can interpreted as costs). 

Still neoclassical economics as practiced by Chicago school  is driven by ideology and financed by financial oligarchy.

And like Trofim Lysenko and his followers those people are as close to criminals as one can get.  Like Rabbies and Catolic Priests can be criminals, the same is true about people in academic mantles. Corruption of academics is nothing new, but corruption of economists is a very dangerous mass form of  white-collar crime as close to Madoff  and his associates as one can get. This is the way we should look at the Chicago schools: kind of incarnation of Lysenko henchmen or, if you wish, Chicago mafia in a university environment. Actually similar way of thinking can be applied to Harvard (see Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia ).

Is neoclassical economics a mafia? Sort of, says Christopher Hayes in a very well-written and very interesting piece in The Nation. He says orthodox economists are a close-knit group and are quick to penalize those among them or from outside who overstep the boundaries. Here is an excerpt:

So extreme is the marginalization of heterodox economists, most people don't even know they exist. Despite the fact that as many as one in five professional economists belongs to a professional association that might be described as heterodox, the phrase "heterodox economics" has appeared exactly once in the New York Times since 1981. During that same period "intelligent design," a theory endorsed by not a single published, peer-reviewed piece of scholarship, has appeared 367 times.

It doesn't take much to call forth an impressive amount of bile from heterodox economists toward their mainstream brethren. John Tiemstra, president of the Association for Social Economics and a professor at Calvin College, summed up his feelings this way: "I go to the cocktail parties for my old schools, MIT and Oberlin, and people are all excited about Freakonomics. I kind of wince and go off to another corner or have another drink." After the EPI gathering, Peter Dorman, an economist at Evergreen State College with a gentle, bearded air, related an e-mail exchange he once had with Hal Varian, a well-respected Berkeley economist who's moderately liberal but firmly committed to the neoclassical approach. Varian wrote to Dorman that there was no point in presenting "both sides" of the debate about trade, because one side--the view that benefits from unfettered trade are absolute--was like astronomy, while any other view was like astrology. "So I told him I didn't buy the traditional trade theory," Dorman said. "'Was I an astrologer?' And he said yes!"

Please note that some of the most close to Lysenkoism figures at Chicago, such as Cochrane and Fama, are in the business school rather than the econ department.   And they were key enablers of  Goldman Sacks and Co. looters. Deregulation wave was promoted by right wing extremists who recruited corrupted academicians like Milton Friedman to perform specific role of Trojan horse to undermine New Deal.  He managed to made the "invisible hand" a prefect pocket picker!  And the method of spreading influence was essentially borrowed from the Lysenko book: control the economic department and those who went to college and studied those theories in the 70’s and 80’s would then go to Wall St and Government and enact them. Control the key academic magazines and conferences and any aspiring economists need either to conform or leave the field.

Here is one telling comment about corruption of those modern day Lysenkoists in the blog Crooked Timber

ogmb 09.18.09 at 12:01 pm

...Cochrane is the AQR Capital Management Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Booth [formerly Graduate] School of Business. Which incidentally also makes his whining that Krugman ‘accuses us literally of adopting ideas for pay, selling out for “sabbaticals at the Hoover institution” and fat “Wall street paychecks”’ a bit malnourished in the introspection department, coming from someone who holds a chair sponsored by a quantitative trading firm at a school sponsored by the founder of an EMH investment firm. (Nevermind that Krugman never, literally or otherwise, accused Cochrane and his peers of selling out to Wall Street…)

In this ideology Milton Friedman is playing the role of false prophet and lesser "giants" producing continued steam of detached from reality papers and speeches. It also includes several clown who as Krugman noted have some qualities of irritable adolescents, but actually are proper heirs of Academician Trofim Lysenko:

And that same adolescent quality was evident in the reactions to the Obama administration’s attempts to deal with the crisis — as Brad DeLong points out, people like Robert Lucas and John Cochrane (not to mention Richard Posner, who isn’t a macroeconomist but gets his take from his colleagues) didn’t say that when serious scholars like Christina Romer based policy recommendations on Keynesian economics, they were wrong; the freshwater crowd declared that anyone with Keynesian views was, by definition, either a fool or intellectually dishonest. So the freshwater outrage over finding their own point of view criticized is, you might think, a classic case of people who can dish it out but can’t take it.

But it’s actually even worse than that.

When freshwater macro came in, there was an active purge of competing views: students were not exposed, at all, to any alternatives. People like Prescott boasted that Keynes was never mentioned in their graduate programs. And what has become clear in the recent debate — for example, in the assertion that Ricardian equivalence rules out any effect from government spending changes, which is just wrong — is that the freshwater side not only turned Keynes into an unperson, but systematically ignored the work being done in the New Keynesian vein. Nobody who had read, say, Obstfeld and Rogoff would have been as clueless about the logic of temporary fiscal expansion as these guys have been. Freshwater macro became totally insular. And hence the most surprising thing in the debate over fiscal stimulus: the raw ignorance that has characterized so many of the freshwater comments. Above all, we’ve seen the phenomenon of well-known economists “rediscovering” Say’s Law and the Treasury view (the view that government cannot affect the overall level of demand), not because they’ve transcended the Keynesian refutation of these views, but because they were unaware that there had ever been such a debate. It's a sad story. And the even sadder thing is that it’s very unlikely that anything will change: freshwater macro will get even more insular, and its devotees will wonder why nobody in the real world of policy and action pays any attention to what they say.

The proper label for neo-classical economics might be "theological voluntarism", the term which has some academic aura... There are several issues here:

  1. Excessive dependence or even open prostitution to the financial oligarchy. It's deplorable but probably unavoidable as the grip of financial community of economic profession does not requires any additional commentary. Also there are always exceptions to the rule.
  2. Mathematical masturbation instead of science. When, for example, a paper that propose even a linear equation (or God forbid differential equation) does not provide any estimate of errors of input data such a paper in a narrow sense can be called mathematical masturbation. Classic example here would be any paper that has inflation as an input variable. In a more broad sense this occurs when research paper contains results or mathematical model which rely on idealized, with little connections to reality postulates about the structure of economic activities. Many supply/demand models belong to this category as they rely on existence of equilibrium between supply and demand and/or are ignoring Minsky instability hypothesis. Most neo-classical economics can be called a theory in a desperate search for suitable reality.
  3. Relying on discredited and openly anti-scientific assumptions or hypothesis. Examples include, but not limited to "supply side voodoo", "monetarism", "Taylor rule", "permanent equilibrium fallacy", "invisible hand" (both as a postulate about absence of manipulation of the markets and the idea that "free markets lead to efficient outcomes" disregarding the role of government and almost permanent government intervention as well as issues of economic rent and taxation of participants to support an aristocracy or oligarchy).

Chicago (or as some called it freshwater) school specializes in deification of the market (often in the form of "invisible hand" deification, see The Invisible Hand, Trumped by Darwin - NYTimes.com). 

Econned

Yves Smith’s in her book Econned, How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism discussed the role of corrupted economics professor in establishing and supporting the rule of financial oligarchy. Here is one Amazon review

kievite:

 Neoclassical economics as a universal door opener for financial oligarchy, September 25, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amorality and psychopathic tendencies

It might well be that for certain part of this new transnational elite with their "cult of greed" can be characterized by a callous disregard for other people feelings typical for psychopaths. Moreover for new, first generation members of this elite those psychopathic tendencies (which does not mean that the person is an outright psychopath, or sociopath)  might be a powerful engine in climb to the top and can play a important, if not decisive role in their success. They look more like "well compensated" sociopaths. See Authoritarians and Corporate Psychopaths as Toxic Managers for more information about typical traits that define this condition.

 There’s a section in the book The Psychopath Test, in which British journalist Jon Ronson  does the psychopath test on "Chainsaw Al" Dunlop, the former CEO of Sunbeam who was notorious for gleefully laying off thousands of workers to make more money.  And he redefines a great number of the items on the checklist as business positives. He turned the psychopath test into “Who Moved My Cheese?” The thing that’s so startling about his story is that the more ruthlessly and remorselessly psychopathically he behaved when he was heading up Sunbeam and the company before Sunbeam — Scott — the more he was rewarded. As Times reported on 2011/09/20:

One in 25 bosses may be psychopaths — a rate that’s four times greater than in the general population — according to research by psychologist and executive coach Paul Babiak.

Babiak studied 203 American corporate professionals who had been chosen by their companies to participate in a management training program. He evaluated their psychopathic traits using a version of the standard psychopathy checklist developed by Robert Hare, an expert in psychopathy at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

Psychopaths, who are characterized by being completely amoral and concerned only with their own power and selfish pleasures, may be overrepresented in the business environment because it plays to their strengths. Where greed is considered good and profitmaking is the most important value, psychopaths can thrive.

Just look at the at their grandiosity, their pathological lying, their lack of empathy, their lack of remorse of the financial elite demonstrated during the crisis of 2008.  I know there’s a danger in seeing psychopaths everywhere, but sometimes in this case it’s just impossible not to see some alarming correlations. Look at the apostils of deregulation in the USA such as:

Shaming the poor as a new sport for the transnational elites and subservient politicians

Amorality and psychopathic tendencies of new transnational elite and a special breed of corrupted politicians who serve them are perfectly demonstrated in the new sport for crooked politicians, especially from the part of the US Republican Party which can be called neo-confederates.

Barbara Ellen in her Guardian column (Guardian March 2, 2013) pointed out that the Methodists, the United Reformed Church, the Church of Scotland and the Baptist Union have joined forces to publish a study called The Lies We Tell Ourselves. It highlights myths surrounding people and poverty, including Iain Duncan Smith's much trumpeted "families out of work for three generations" line (which, it turns out, has never been backed up by data).

The report argues that the government is "deliberately misrepresenting" the poor, blaming them for their circumstances while ignoring more complex reasons, including policy deficiencies. Moreover, they feel that this scapegoating is the result of collusion between politicians, the media and the public.

Increasingly, the shame is being taken out of poor-shaming. It didn't seem so long ago that most people would think twice about denigrating fellow citizens who were having a hard time. These days, it appears to have been sanctioned as a new sport for the elites. A politician is one thing but these attitudes are spreading and hardening among ordinary people too. Indeed, poverty seems a trigger to inspire hate speech that would be quickly denounced if it related to race or gender.

Is this our new default setting – that the needy are greedy? This chimes with a slew of government policies that appear to be founded on notions of bulletproof self-reliance, making no allowances for circumstances or sheer bad luck, and which many would require huge amounts of help to put into practice, never mind sustain. Meanwhile, the more fortunate are invited to pour scorn upon anyone who fails.

While there are people whose problem are self-inflicted for many this is not true. In reality substantial number of poor are former people of modest means hit by a serious disease and who run out of options.

And shaming poor is a pretty safe sport. The poor are poor. They have no money, no voice, no representatives, and no means to defend their interests. Poverty is a like collapse of domino – once the first domino falls, all others follow the suit. In such circumstances, if a group of people are "deliberately misrepresents" the real situation with the poor, then there's precious little they can do about it. The churches got it right – if anything, the truth seems so much worse that it must surely be time to put the shame back into poor-shaming.

Poor-shamers are bullies, and right now they're getting away with it.

To what extent new transnational elite is monolithic ?

State interests and interest of large social groups are "projected" on the elite making is less monolithic then otherwise it might be. Here is come to a complex question of "national elite" vs. "transnational elite". This question is often discussed under the banner of  "Fifth column".  In this sense   Color revolutions  can be viewed as attempts to "harmonize" elite with the requirements of international corporations plus geostrategic interests of the counties which "home" those corporations.  See for example Russian experience in "white Revolution" of 2011-2012

In this sense Civil war can be viewed as a condition in which two parts of the elite in the same country can't reconcile their differences with peaceful means. That's definitely true about the US Civil War. 

Existence of "ideologically charged" and openly nationalistic parties which periodically come to power in various countries somewhat undermines the thesis about international elite dominance, unless you assume that such parties represent "blowback" of internationalization of capital and come to power to protect the interest of some parts of the national elite threatened by "more international" (aka comprador) part of the elite. Which is historically  true for NDSP (with military-industrial complex as the main supported of them as a tool against communists as well as against Jewish financial oligarchy) as well as for Bolsheviks in Russia (if we assume the theory that the initial core of Bolsheviks movement before Stalin purges was Russian Jewish intelligencia supported by the USA (via Trotsky connections) and some other countries (paradoxically Germany during the period of WWI; it was Germany that "delivered" to Russia by via a special train  Bolshevik leaders caught at the beginning of WWI in various European countries including Germany, in violation of the their status as "interned" nationals for the duration of the First World War )).

"Resource nationalism" is another close, but more modern phenomenon

Nationalism is probably the most potent force for undermining the unity of international elite.

The problem of degeneration of elite

The elite in most European countries and the USA consists not of the "best of the breed". It became more like the result of adverse selection.  Conversion to neoliberalism just made this problems more acute. At this point the problem of degeneration of elite comes to the forefront. George Bush II was clear a warning in the respect. Obama might well be the second bell. In criticizing the degeneration of the current US or GB elite, we should not forget that such processes are not new and in the past were the cause of several revolutions. Financial oligarchy of the neoliberal society is only a new name for aristocrats. And in the past the self-serving, decadent and corrupted upper class was the important source of instability in the society.  level of degeneration  of European elite which clearly demonstrated the fact the Cameron managed to came to power in GB in many respects makes the situation even more fragile than in the USA. Here is one telling quote (The EU's ugly kindergarten of intellectually challenged clowns):

It is generally accepted that "politics is the art of the possible" and yet the EU leaders are clearly engaged in the art of the absolutely impossible. The fact that they are all pretending like this is going to have some useful impact is truly a sign of how much the EU leadership has degenerated over the years. Can you imagine Helmut Schmidt, Charles de Gaulle, Margaret Thatcher, François Mitterrand or Francisco Franco engaging in that kind of infantile nonsense? All these leaders had their bad aspects, but at least none of them were clowns, whereas when I look at the current EU leadership, especially Van Rumpey, Adners Fogh Rasmussen or José Manuel Barroso I get the feeling that I am looking at some ugly kindergarten of intellectually challenged clowns and, frankly, I can understand Mrs Nuland's feelings.

Degeneration of elites lead the denunciation of the elites, when to a large body of civil population became clear that the upper class is no longer fulfill their function, do not care about the people, and, in case of neoliberal elite, is not even the part of the same society -- it acquired features of a foreign, parasitizing on the national body occupation force.

If the elite is not regenerates itself, catastrophic crisis in Society became more likely.  The state itself became a “quasi-state”: endowed with juridical statehood, yet lacking the political will, institutional capacity, and organized authority to protect human rights and provide socioeconomic welfare for the population. In this case a parallel political authority -- a shadow state replaces the "regular" stat – whose defining characteristic is the change of the role of security services in the governance of the state. See National Security State. Dissolution of the USSR was particularly connected with such a level of degeneration of the elite as well as betrayal of security services with KGB brass changing sides and adopting neoliberalism as a new ideology. 

At the same time while people like Obama and Cameron are merely instruments of  neoliberalism and financial capital.  So one explanation of the degradation of elite is the current crisis of neoliberalism. This is somewhat similar to the degradation of  Politburo in last years of the USSR.  They all however fit the definition of idiocy, repeating the same mistakes that prove so unfailingly disastrous, over and over, the inability to learn from their mistakes.

Here is one telling comment from Moon of Alabama discussion:

jayc | Aug 29, 2014 3:12:01 PM | 13

When Cameron started taking selfies at Mandela's funeral it undermined any remaining notion that he was some kind of leader, he was rather revealed as a mediocre middle-management suckup.

Western political leadership is chock full of these types. Policy is being developed at another level than elected representatives and middle-management is there to sell the policy.

I'm not sure NATO wants a full shooting proxy war - they don't care much about Ukraine or its people and would be content with new bases and new weapons programs.

The intent, it seems, is to isolate Russia from Europe and hope that the effects from sanctions could produce some sort of regime change or fracture the country into territories It seems that the Kiev regime has done just about everything possible to provoke a Russian invasion.

Western politicians and media, by their open hysteria and constant insistence that Russia has "invaded" and shot down a passenger plane, are invoking a sort of nostalgia for the Afghanistan invasion of 1978 or the KAL007 shoot down, when the evil empire stood revealed and the brave middle managers could rush to the barricades.

Unfortunately for them, Russia hasn't played that game and because they are mediocre the West's political leadership cannot summon the imagination for what to do next.

Crest | Aug 29, 2014 6:26:49 PM | 47 

@jayc 13
"Russia hasn't played that game and because they are mediocre the West's political leadership cannot summon the imagination for what to do next."

This is a great line. Western elites have no imagination, because of a generation of brutally purging all dissent from the neoliberalism/financialist imperalism paradigm.

If you don't believe in the Washington consensus, you don't exist.

They simply can't think of anything better, and they won't allow themselves to try.


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[Sep 10, 2018] The power of Deep State

Notable quotes:
"... General Eisenhower told us to our faces all about the fiction, and yet we as a culture/civilization pretend the president is solely in charge. ..."
Sep 10, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

arze September 8, 2018 at 12:24 pm

What's truly remarkable .

What's truly remarkable is Gen. Eisenhower told us upon leaving presidency all about who competes with our elected president on what happens.

Those presidents that toe the "military industrial complex" line most closely are seen as the most in charge.

President Kennedy did not, was murdered. President Johnson did, it eventually sickened him, he did not seek reelection. President Nixon was removed from office. President Carter was humiliated. President Reagan's dream of a nuclear free world was vetoed by guess who. President Bush was defeated by the mother of all sycophants to that force. President Clinton was their man. Vice President Cheney was even more so. President Obama tried to hide the fact he was not. President Trump has not tried to hide that fact.

Reporting on the Trump phenomena would benefit by more imagination.

Is it not a public service, irrespective of one's opinions on him, that it should now be clear to all, now via the Trump Phenomena, that what was plainly told us all in the 1950s from a General, is the way it is?

Yet a "criticism" of Trump is his "sin" of taking off the mask.

General Eisenhower told us to our faces all about the fiction, and yet we as a culture/civilization pretend the president is solely in charge.

What is remarkable is the amount of reporting on the current president that lacks imagination, insight, logic, rationality, reason, common sense, and insight.

However, that is not remarkable given that most of the reporters lived all their lives in a culture/civilization that fails to educate us in a meaningful way. Their and our professors, mentors, supervisors, and family, and friends and significant others, also so socialized; however, the road to progress is in front of us if we are curious enough.

Were the goal of contemporary American Politics first and foremost a search for the truth, that would be one thing.

The Shining Star of American Politics, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren perfectly epitomizes that it is not, as she knows better, was seduced by power, and all that that implies. The ends justify the means for the entire lot of them.

Whatever that evil perspective engender, progress is and never shall be one of them.

[Sep 07, 2018] Neoliberal Totalitarianism And The Social Contract Countercurrents

Notable quotes:
"... The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto ..."
"... "Uneven Development: Understanding the Roots of Inequality" ..."
"... "A generation ago, the country's social contract was premised on higher wages and reliable benefits, provided chiefly by employers. In recent decades, we've moved to a system where low wages are supposed to be made bearable by low consumer prices and a hodgepodge of government assistance programs. But as dissatisfaction with this arrangement has grown, it is time to look back at how we got here and imagine what the next stage of the social contract might be." ..."
"... New America Foundation's ..."
Sep 07, 2018 | countercurrents.org

The creation of large enterprises gave rise not only to an organized labor movement, but to a larger bureaucratic regulatory state with agencies intended to help stabilize and grow capitalism while keeping the working class loyal to the social contract. Crisis in public confidence resulted not only from economic recessions and depressions built into the economy, but the contradictions capitalism was fostering in society as the benefits in advances in industry, science and technology accrued to the wealthy while the social structure remained hierarchical.

Ever since 1947 when the ideological father of neoliberalism Friedrich von Hayek called a conference in Mont Pelerin to address how the new ideology would replace Keynesianism, neoliberals have been promising to address these contradictions, insisting that eliminating the social welfare state and allowing complete market dominationthat would result in society's modernization and would filter down to all social classes and nations both developed and developing. Such thinking is rooted in the modernization theory that emerged after WWII when the US took advantage of its preeminent global power to impose a transformation model on much of the non-Communist world. Cold War liberal economist Walt Rostow articulated the modernization model of development in his work entitled The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto , 1960. By the 1970s, neoliberals adapted Rostow's modernization theory as their bible and the core of the social contract. (Evans Rubara, "Uneven Development: Understanding the Roots of Inequality"

https://www.pambazuka.org/governance/uneven-development-understanding-roots-inequality

The challenge for the political class has always been and remains to mobilize a popular base that would afford legitimacy to the social contract. The issue for mainstream political parties is not whether there is a systemic problem with the social contract intended to serve the capitalist class, but the degree to which the masses can be co-opted through various methods to support the status quo. "A generation ago, the country's social contract was premised on higher wages and reliable benefits, provided chiefly by employers. In recent decades, we've moved to a system where low wages are supposed to be made bearable by low consumer prices and a hodgepodge of government assistance programs. But as dissatisfaction with this arrangement has grown, it is time to look back at how we got here and imagine what the next stage of the social contract might be."

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/12/the-past-and-future-of-americas-social-contract/282511/

Considering that Keynesianism and neoliberalism operate under the same social structure and differ only on how best to achieve capital formation while retaining sociopolitical conformity, the article above published in The Atlantic illustrates how analysts/commentators easily misinterpret nuances within a social contract for the covenant's macro goals. A similar view as that expressed in The Atlantic is also reflected in the New America Foundation's publications, identifying specific aspects of Arthur Schlesinger's Cold War militarist policies enmeshed with social welfare Keynesianism as parts of the evolving social contract.

https://www.newamerica.org/economic-growth/policy-papers/the-american-public-and-the-next-social-contract/

Identifying the social contract with a specific set of policies under different administrations evolving to reflect the nuances of political class and economic elites,some analysts contend that there is a European Union-wide social contract to which nationally-based social contracts must subordinate their sovereignty. This model has evolved to accommodate neoliberal globalism through regional trade blocs on the basis of a 'patron-client'integration relationship between core and periphery countries.

[Sep 07, 2018] Neomodernism - Wikipedia

Highly recommended!
Sep 07, 2018 | en.wikipedia.org

Ágnes Heller

Ágnes Heller's work is associated with Moral Anthropology and "probing modernity's destiny for a non-predatory humanism that combines the existential wisdom of ancient theory with modern values." [1]

Neomodernism accepts some aspects of postmodernism's critique of modernism, notably that modernism elevated the world view of dominant groups to the status of objective fact, thereby failing to express the viewpoint of " subaltern groups," such as women and ethnic minorities. However, in her view, neomodernism rejects postmodernism as:

Victor Grauer

In 1982, Victor Grauer attacked "the cult of the new," and proposed that there had arisen a "neo-modern" movement in the arts which was based on deep formal rigor, rather than on "the explosion of pluralism." [2] His argument was that post-modernism was exclusively a negative attack on modernism, and had no future separate from modernism proper, a point of view which is held by many scholars of modernism. [2]

Carlos Escudé

In "Natural Law at War", a review essay published on 31 May 2002 in The Times Literary Supplement (London, TLS No. 5174), Carlos Escudé wrote: "Postmodern humanity faces a major challenge. It must solve a dilemma it does not want to face. If all cultures are morally equivalent, then all human individuals are not endowed with the same human rights, because some cultures award some men more rights than are allotted to other men and women. If, on the other hand, all men and women are endowed with the same human rights, then all cultures are not morally equivalent, because cultures that acknowledge that 'all men are created equal' are to be regarded as 'superior,' or 'more advanced' in terms of their civil ethics than those that do not." Escudé's brand of neomodernism contends with "politically-correct intellectuals who prefer to opt for the easy way out, asserting both that we all have the same human rights and that all cultures are equal."

Andre Durand and Armando Alemdar

Published their own Neomodernist Manifesto in 2001. The Neomodern Manifesto posits criteria for a revitalised approach to works of art founded on history, traditional artistic disciplines, theology and philosophy. Durand's and Alemdar's Neomodernism views art as an act of expression of the sublime; in Neomodern painting as a representation of the visual appearance of things with correspondence to the physical world understood as a model for beauty, truth, and good. Neomodern works of art via mimesis interpret and present the universe and man's existence, in line with the belief that the reality we live is but a mirror of another universe that can only be accessed through inspiration and imagination.

Gabriel Omowaye

Gabriel Lolu Omowaye, in his speech 'A new challenging time' to a group of college students in Nigeria, in 2005, took a different approach to neomodernism. He viewed neomodernism as a political philosophy that became more prominent in the early 21st century. To him, it involves common goal and joint global effort - universalism - to address arising global challenges such as population growth, natural resources, climate change and environmental factors, natural causes and effects, and health issues. Omowaye posited that political will is the major driver of economic necessities. As a result, he added that neomodernism involves limited government-regulated liberalism along with high drive innovation and entrepreneurship, high literacy rate, progressive taxation for social equity, philanthropism, technological advancement, economic development and individual growth. He perceived the quest for equal representation of men and women in the neomodern era as a strong signal for advent of postmodernism. So also, the quest for youths engagement in resourceful and rewarding ways especially in governance, peace building and self-productivity has not taken a formidable shape than it is at this time. As far as he was concerned, he believed most of these challenges were not adequately tackled in preceding eras and the arising challenges thus stated were not prepared for and that cause for change in mentality and thinking which the neomodern era is providing for solutions to the era's challenges, with a prospective view to global stability and social inclusion. His philosophical thought premised on a fact that new times require new approaches from new reasonings, even if some applicable ideas or methologies could be borrowed from the past, an acute form of paradigm-shift.

Omowaye believed in idealism as guiding realism and in turn, realism as defining idealism. Moral concepts cannot be wished away from social norms, but evolving social trends dissipate morality in form of religion and logical standards and adheres to current norms in form of 'what should be'. Consequently, the manner at which 'what should be' is driven at in the modern and postmodern eras, being widely accepted became 'what is'. The manner at which the damage of the new 'what is' is hampering development process in the form of higher mortality rate and decadence of cultural good, calls to question the ideology behind the norms that are less beneficial to a wider society in form of globalization. The world as a whole through technological advancement became a global community particularly, in the 21st century. Former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan then stated that the "suffering anywhere concerns people everywhere". Champions of neomodern age such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson in the field of philanthropy expounded their vision to encompass the global community in social good such as alleviating poverty, eradicating diseases, enhancing literacy rates and addressing climate changes.

Technological advancement of the neomodern era however has its downturns in that it added to the decadence in cultural good such that people everywhere, especially high number of youths follow the trends in the new 'what is', which include social celebrities in the form of dressing, sexual activities, extravagancies, and less interest in learning and even, working but more interest in making money. Money became a value-determinant than utility. This brought about frauds in various sectors. This latter aspect is not limited to youths but even company executives, and politicians of many societies. Technological advancement has made privacy less safer for intrusion and people more safer for protection. The supposedly good of technological advancement in the neomodern era has included whistle blow such as Wikileaks' Julian Assange. The more good has been in the level of innovations and innovators it has sprung up such as Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and easier business models and broader social connectivity. This latter part has lessened more amity in immediate environment and many people tend to live more in the virtual world neomodern technological advancements have created.

Neomodernism checks more into the current relative way of living of people and the society to correct necessary abnormalities and to encourage virtues and values within the global community in the 21st century.

In furtherance, Gabriel Omowaye's view of neomodernism was that knowledge comes from learning and experience, and wisdom primarily from intuition. Knowledge is a variable of set occurrences of that which happens to a man and that which a man seeks to know. Knowledge is vital and good for discretion but a minor part of discernment wherein what is known might not be applicable. Intuition is a function of the mind and the mind, not seen, and yet unknown to the carrier, is a function of what put the thoughts, ideas and discretion in it. Wisdom without knowledge is vague, and knowledge without wisdom, unworthy. Wisdom perfects knowledge, and in the absence of either, the sole is delusory.

[Sep 03, 2018] Sic Semper Tyrannis - E Pluribus Unum no more by Col. Lang

Notable quotes:
"... fête de joie. ..."
"... Bill threw away the Deplorables' jobs in NAFTA in search of the Globalist Utopian vision at the heart of the Establishment's indoctrination in the schools. ..."
"... Those who said farewell to Senator John McCain at the National Cathedral did not mentioned that he is as responsible as anyone for the forever wars that are causing the refugee influx that is tearing Europe apart ..."
"... I think it is very important to realize that the current mess in this country is largely a result of not reigning in the investment bankers as well as the country embarking on deadly and abusive wars against a large part of the non-western world. ..."
"... Where you and I differ is over Donald Trump. I do not believe for one minute that he gives a damn about the people that have been screwed so royally over the last thirty to forty years. He is just louder and more obnoxious than most. ..."
"... If there is a way out of this mess, I cannot see it. ..."
"... The banks make everything function. When there is a banking crisis they turn up the screws on the politicians and the politicians respond by bailing the banks out at the expense of the majority of the population. ..."
"... Second, they are pathetically easy for the establishment to manipulate. It is as simple as getting the nominally left faction of the establishment to have a woman stump for a policy using vaguely left wing terms and they will fall over themselves to support it. I've been told by these people that Russia must be violently opposed because Vladimir Putin is a homophobic, islamaphobic (!), racist right-winger. It's kind of amazing to see the political descendants of the hippies cheering on the prospect of a nuclear war because it would be a woman killing everyone in the name of LGBT rights. ..."
"... many of these deplorables embraced Bernie Sanders* (a Neo-Bolshevik?) and would welcome a return to an FDR style democratic party. ..."
"... Like was said 2 yrs ago, the dems would rather lose with Clinton than win with Sanders. And I include Pelosi, Schumer, you name it, in that bunch. ..."
"... As for Trump's base--I have always thought it erroneous to label that base as working men and women of below average education, etc. 90% of Trump voters supported Romney and 60% had a median income above the national average. ..."
"... The military, veterans, and various police agencies. States fail when they will no longer enforce the official line. That's usually happens when their own family members start showing up in the marches, barricades, protests, and such. ..."
Sep 03, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

We Americans were traditionally divided politically and culturally by region. There is still some of that but the major fault lines are more fuzzy now.

1. The Establishment. This group was on parade during the McCain imperial procession across the lands. The sight of the supposedly mutually opposed Republicans and Democrats hobnobbing, backslapping, joking, hugging and passing around the bi-partisan mints while they waited for the stiff to be wheeled in was revealing. The cavernous nave of the pseudo-Gothic church was a perfect venue for this fête de joie. A window depicting Robert Lee looked down on this vast space until recently. That has been taken down to maintain amity between the Yankee and "Southern" wings of the establishment. The Episcopal Church of today has no use for such as he. I wonder if the masses who support "the middle" understand how cruelly they are deceived by the pretended mutual animosity of their "betters." The farce was on display last week.

2. The Neo-Bolsheviks. These people have been gathering their strength in the schools since the '60s. they have indoctrinated the young all this time with a hatred of capitalism, a contempt for American tradition to include the Constitution and a desire to see the country reduced to the status of Cambodia in the Year Zero. The spectacle of the disintegration of Venezuela after decades of socialist tinkering means nothing to them. This time we will get it right! This is their belief. Disillusioned communists told me all across what had been the Warsaw Pact that Communism was never given a fair chance to prove itself. The American Bolsheviki think they will get it right this time if they attain power. The original Bolsheviks seized power with how many members in the vanguard? 20,000? Tell me. The governments of New York, California and New Jersey are all seeking to accommodate the Neo-Bolsheviks. How far will they go? The Soviet Bolsheviks killed millions of Russian Kulaks and political enemies. Remember that!

3. The Deplorables. This is essentially the "country party." They are the people who know they are being dis-possessed. These are the people who know they are despised by both the Establishment and the Neo-Bolsheviks and who are acutely aware that these other groups intend to exterminate them as a group if not as individuals. The Clintons were the ultimate Establishment people. Bill threw away the Deplorables' jobs in NAFTA in search of the Globalist Utopian vision at the heart of the Establishment's indoctrination in the schools.

Ross Perot was an amusing little freak? He spoke of a "great sucking sound" that would be heard as Deplorable jobs followed cheap capital across the southern border?

The Deplorables do not think he was funny at all. They elected Trump to give them hope and he has done that. They do not want to be governed by Establishment figures like HC who detested them as obstacles so much that she could not refrain from treating the miners with contempt to their faces. Bette Midler said this week that the Establishmenters cannot fight the Deplorables because people like her have no weapons but PBS tote bags. An interesting point.

There are a lot of splinter groups and factions. Tell me what they are. pl

blue peacock , 8 hours ago

Col. Lang

Compared to the 60s there is much less social strife today. No riots on the streets, no bombings by radical groups, no live fire shootings to quell protests in universities. So is this the quiet before the storm?

What we see today is much more arm-chair fighting using keyboards on social media. Frothing at the mouth pushing hashtags The extent of action is writing #MeToo and #BringBackOurGirls. Can such somnambulant warriors cause a real war?

My observation is that over the last 30 years, there are a few big trends.

  1. One, is PCness becoming more and more embedded causing increased censorship of speech.
  2. The second is rising "doublethink" and the Establishment melding into a true Ingsoc with increasing governmental interference in all aspects of people's lives to benefit the "party club".
  3. The third, is the growth in "state capitalism", reflected in the increasing financialization of the economy and the substitution of credit for capital. It's no longer what's good for GM but what's good for Goldman Sachs. The Federal Reserve run by the Ph.Ds on the "sophistry" standard as the primary lever.
  4. The fourth trend is a slow moral decay among the elites as the powerful no longer feel a sense of duty and honor. It is more important for them how they are perceived by the "club". Invitations to gatherings such as Davos, Aspen, & the Google "camp".
  5. Fifth, is increasing hopelessness among many segments reflected in the rising deaths to opioids.

https://www.businessinsider...

VietnamVet , 9 hours ago

Colonel,

This post brought a smile of recognition to my face. I agree.

The media desperately ignores this issue. The current Western power structure is in flux and is confusing.

Communism died when the Soviet Union fell. China, Cuba and Vietnam are not workers' paradises. The hard left is impotent and in the lurch. The mild left and liberals sold out to the Plutocrats. Republicans are crazy except for Corporatists who are keeping their mouths shut and passing tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.

Those who said farewell to Senator John McCain at the National Cathedral did not mentioned that he is as responsible as anyone for the forever wars that are causing the refugee influx that is tearing Europe apart.

Their donors are imposing austerity and poverty on to the people.

There is no one championing the concerns of the Deplorables except the hard right. These Theocrats are most likely to start carting off red shirted teachers, librarians, pot heads, agnostics, unemployed and dissidents to work camps, once things fall apart.

David , 10 hours ago

Colonel Lang,

I think it is very important to realize that the current mess in this country is largely a result of not reigning in the investment bankers as well as the country embarking on deadly and abusive wars against a large part of the non-western world.

As you rightly pointed out, both establishment parties are equally guilty of the worst offensives against those who choose to live outside of the major metropolitan areas.

This country would be much better off if people were taught how the investment banking system works and how it is regularly abused by the rich to make themselves richer. Of course, that is not in the interest of the establishment leaders.

Where you and I differ is over Donald Trump. I do not believe for one minute that he gives a damn about the people that have been screwed so royally over the last thirty to forty years. He is just louder and more obnoxious than most.

If there is a way out of this mess, I cannot see it.

I am like you over seventy. I believe the old should be encouraged to disappear from politics and only the young should be engaged in trying to save this country (as well as themselves).

Regards,

David

Pat Lang Mod -> David , 10 hours ago

Not sure why you single out "investment bankers" from the other Establishment types.

David -> Pat Lang , 9 hours ago

Colonel Lang,

In my varied career I worked twice as an employee and three times as a consultant for Standard & Poors Retail Brokerage Division. I also worked for the Bank of New York, Government Clearance Division and did various consulting stints at Union Bank of Switzerland and Manufacters Hanover.

All of these positions were in the technology field.

You would be amazed at what you can learn from the inside.

The banks make everything function. When there is a banking crisis they turn up the screws on the politicians and the politicians respond by bailing the banks out at the expense of the majority of the population.

Of course, the politicians know that they will be rewarded either directly or indirectly by the bankers. Just think of all those millions they pay for speaking fees.

Regards,

David

Harlan Easley , 7 hours ago

We are as united as Rome was near the end of their Empire when their idiot establishment was convinced they could integrate a massive influx of tribes that loathed their way of life. Same is occurring in Europe. History rhymes.

Rural vs City you touched on, gun owners vs gun banners, gender sanity vs gender insanity, free traders vs keeping what's left of our manufacturing base, stockholders vs deplorable's, open border chaos vs normal immigration patterns to the US, CNN& MSNBC vs Rural, Decent healthcare vs nothing, establishment vs God, Democrat intense hate vs Southern whites. I am a rural southern white who did consider myself independent, however, the intense hate directed toward me and my southerners makes me hate them. So be it.

Grimgrin , 8 hours ago

Using your terminology, the places where I see the most serious factional divisions are the Neo-Bolsheviks. There's a group one might call the "50 Staters" after Howard Dean; they're people who want to re-orient the country in a more socialist direction (Medicare for all, increased minimum wage, expanded union rights, generally expanded intervention in the economy) and believe they can sell this as an electoral platform. They hate the establishment, and are themselves hated like poison by much of the rest of the Neo-Bolsheviks. The term "Bernie Bro" and "Brocialist" were thrown around a lot last election by people who's platform is basically "destroy all power structures" without thinking too hard about what it would mean should they have the power to do it. I've classed them with the Neo-Bolsheviks due to geographic and cultural similarities, though they may also be viewed as the left wing of the Deplorables. Personally, these are the lot I'd say I'm the most similar too.

The remainder of the neo-Bolsheviks can largely be grouped according to what they believe the source of all evil in the world is: Men; white people; the concept of gender itself; and in fringe cases the idea that being overweight is unhealthy or other aspects of reality they find inconvenient. Politically they're hamstrung by three things:

First, they can't really think about anything coherently. The only way they allow themselves to process issues is deciding who the victim of men/white-people/etc... is in a situation and deciding that this person must be in the right. If that leads to an conclusion where the cognitive dissonance is too much to bear (most recently the Siraj Wahhaj case), they then argue that the fact you're talking about it means "you're racist/sexist/transphobic/*-phobic shut up". This naturally leads to things like someone who believes that white-people are the source of all evil talking about how the groping attacks in Germany were just 'white bodies being subjected to what they subject black bodies too' (they love to use the word 'bodies' instead of 'people'). The people who believe men are the source of all evil took some umbrage at this idea. This infighting is constant.

Second, they are pathetically easy for the establishment to manipulate. It is as simple as getting the nominally left faction of the establishment to have a woman stump for a policy using vaguely left wing terms and they will fall over themselves to support it. I've been told by these people that Russia must be violently opposed because Vladimir Putin is a homophobic, islamaphobic (!), racist right-winger. It's kind of amazing to see the political descendants of the hippies cheering on the prospect of a nuclear war because it would be a woman killing everyone in the name of LGBT rights.

Third, every effective organizer and leader they may have just becomes part of the establishment. Since these are typically female, gay, or non-white, they cannot meaningfully be opposed no matter how obviously they betray the goals of the neo-Bolsheviks. This happens to the deplorables as well, but they seem to be far more aggressive in countering it. It's not a coincidence that the neo-Bolsheviks have never really succeeded in any political project that the establishment doesn't find acceptable.

I may well be downplaying their threat, but they do seem to have disadvantages that the original versions lacked.

im cotton , 9 hours ago

"Neo-Bolsheviks"

I'm not sure who you would lump in with the "Neo-Bolsheviks", but as someone living in a semi-rural area of Iowa--deplorable central -- that voted democratic for decades and then voted for Trump, many of these deplorables embraced Bernie Sanders* (a Neo-Bolshevik?) and would welcome a return to an FDR style democratic party.

If for no other reason than to partake of the benefits afforded every other citizenry in the western world such as universal healthcare, free or affordable college, etc.

Establishment Dems:

Imho, far from being supporters of progessive economic policy, most liberal dem politicians defend the status quo as much as anyone and defer to their tech, insurance, arms, and financial donors.

Like was said 2 yrs ago, the dems would rather lose with Clinton than win with Sanders. And I include Pelosi, Schumer, you name it, in that bunch.

Trump's Base/Deplorables:

As you say, there are many more factions. Not all so-called deplorables are the same politically of course.

As for Trump's base--I have always thought it erroneous to label that base as working men and women of below average education, etc. 90% of Trump voters supported Romney and 60% had a median income above the national average.

While he is supported by disparate groups, the largest of Trump's base is the vast suburban gop voters of many large US cities. The Msm just doesn't want to acknowledge that Trump voters are also their well to do neighbors. Trump carried Suffolk County/Hamptons in New York state.

EEngineer , 9 hours ago

The military, veterans, and various police agencies. States fail when they will no longer enforce the official line. That's usually happens when their own family members start showing up in the marches, barricades, protests, and such.

Loads of bright eyed youngsters have joined up over the last few decades thinking they would be like Luke Skywalker only to find out they're being used as Imperial Stormtroopers.

Fred -> EEngineer , 6 hours ago

"thinking they would be like Luke Skywalker..."

Those folks with the starwars bumper stickers you see on the road aren't the ones who signed up for service.

[Sep 02, 2018] Elite [domanance] theory can be viewed as a flavor of Social darvinism

Sep 02, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jen , Sep 1, 2018 5:03:48 PM | link

To those who say Statements 1 and 3 in B's post reflect or demonstrate reality: don't confuse bullying with strength.

The statements are expressions of Social Darwinism in its various forms. Social Darwinism represents a particular belief system that justifies the existence of an elite dominating society and culture, so as to ensure its (that is, the elite's) continued survival and domination.

Needless to say, Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara are under police investigation in Israel for corruption. Sara N apparently is also notorious for ill-treating her staff and throwing her weight around to impress and intimidate others.

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/recording-of-sara-netanyahu-screaming-is-just-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-1.5769985

Is this sort of behaviour - stealing from the nation, bullying others - the behaviour of those who are strong and secure in their power?

-----

Even the Mongols, though they brought destruction, extermination and ruin everywhere they went, did eventually bring order and stability, and revived trade and civilisation. They themselves became civilised by the peoples they conquered. In the end, they were undone by their own internal family squabbles and competition. They were not so strong as they first seemed.

It's not enough to be "strong" in a military sense - what a nation's leadership does with its power is as important as acquiring and having that power in the first place.

[Aug 31, 2018] Exposing the Giants- The Global Power Elite by Prof. Peter Phillips

Notable quotes:
"... Developing the tradition charted by C. Wright Mills in his 1956 classic The Power Elite , in his latest book, Professor Peter Phillips starts by reviewing the transition from the nation state power elites described by authors such as Mills to a transnational power elite centralized on the control of global capital. ..."
Aug 31, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

Developing the tradition charted by C. Wright Mills in his 1956 classic The Power Elite , in his latest book, Professor Peter Phillips starts by reviewing the transition from the nation state power elites described by authors such as Mills to a transnational power elite centralized on the control of global capital.

Thus, in his just-released study Giants: The Global Power Elite , Phillips, a professor of political sociology at Sonoma State University in the USA, identifies the world's top seventeen asset management firms, such as BlackRock and J.P Morgan Chase, each with more than one trillion dollars of investment capital under management, as the 'Giants' of world capitalism. The seventeen firms collectively manage more than $US41.1 trillion in a self-invested network of interlocking capital that spans the globe.

This $41 trillion represents the wealth invested for profit by thousands of millionaires, billionaires and corporations. The seventeen Giants operate in nearly every country in the world and are 'the central institutions of the financial capital that powers the global economic system'. They invest in anything considered profitable, ranging from 'agricultural lands on which indigenous farmers are replaced by power elite investors' to public assets (such as energy and water utilities) to war.

In addition, Phillips identifies the most important networks of the Global Power Elite and the individuals therein. He names 389 individuals (a small number of whom are women and a token number of whom are from countries other than the United States and the wealthier countries of Western Europe) at the core of the policy planning nongovernmental networks that manage, facilitate and defend the continued concentration of global capital. The Global Power Elite perform two key uniting functions, he argues: they provide ideological justifications for their shared interests (promulgated through their corporate media), and define the parameters of action for transnational governmental organizations and capitalist nation-states.

More precisely, Phillips identifies the 199 directors of the seventeen global financial Giants and offers short biographies and public information on their individual net wealth. These individuals are closely interconnected through numerous networks of association including the World Economic Forum, the International Monetary Conference, university affiliations, various policy councils, social clubs, and cultural enterprises. For a taste of one of these clubs, see this account of The Links in New York. As Phillips observes: 'It is certainly safe to conclude they all know each other personally or know of each other in the shared context of their positions of power.'

The Giants, Phillips documents, invest in each other but also in many hundreds of investment management firms, many of which are near-Giants. This results in tens of trillions of dollars coordinated in a single vast network of global capital controlled by a very small number of people. 'Their constant objective is to find enough safe investment opportunities for a return on capital that allows for continued growth. Inadequate capital-placement opportunities lead to dangerous speculative investments, buying up of public assets, and permanent war spending.'

Because the directors of these seventeen asset management firms represent the central core of international capital, 'Individuals can retire or pass away, and other similar people will move into their place, making the overall structure a self-perpetuating network of global capital control. As such, these 199 people share a common goal of maximum return on investments for themselves and their clients, and they may seek to achieve returns by any means necessary – legal or not . the institutional and structural arrangements within the money management systems of global capital relentlessly seek ways to achieve maximum return on investment, and the conditions for manipulations – legal or not – are always present.'

Like some researchers before him, Phillips identifies the importance of those transnational institutions that serve a unifying function. The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, G20, G7, World Trade Organization (WTO), World Economic Forum (WEF), Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg Group , Bank for International Settlements, Group of 30 (G30), the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Monetary Conference serve as institutional mechanisms for consensus building within the transnational capitalist class, and power elite policy formulation and implementation. 'These international institutions serve the interests of the global financial Giants by supporting policies and regulations that seek to protect the free, unrestricted flow of capital and debt collection worldwide.'

But within this network of transnational institutions, Phillips identifies two very important global elite policy-planning organizations: the Group of Thirty (which has 32 members) and the extended executive committee of the Trilateral Commission (which has 55 members). These nonprofit corporations, which each have a research and support staff, formulate elite policy and issue instructions for their implementation by the transnational governmental institutions like the G7, G20, IMF, WTO, and World Bank. Elite policies are also implemented following instruction of the relevant agent, including governments, in the context. These agents then do as they are instructed. Thus, these 85 members (because two overlap) of the Group of Thirty and the Trilateral Commission comprise a central group of facilitators of global capitalism, ensuring that 'global capital remains safe, secure, and growing'.

So, while many of the major international institutions are controlled by nation-state representatives and central bankers (with proportional power exercised by dominant financial supporters such as the United States and European Union countries), Phillips is more concerned with the transnational policy groups that are nongovernmental because these organizations 'help to unite TCC power elites as a class' and the individuals involved in these organizations facilitate world capitalism. 'They serve as policy elites who seek the continued growth of capital in the world.'

Developing this list of 199 directors of the largest money management firms in the world, Phillips argues, is an important step toward understanding how capitalism works globally today. These global power elite directors make the decisions regarding the investment of trillions of dollars. Supposedly in competition, the concentrated wealth they share requires them to cooperate for their greater good by identifying investment opportunities and shared risk agreements, and working collectively for political arrangements that create advantages for their profit-generating system as a whole.

Their fundamental priority is to secure an average return on investment of 3 to 10 percent, or even more. The nature of any investment is less important than what it yields: continuous returns that support growth in the overall market. Hence, capital investment in tobacco products, weapons of war, toxic chemicals, pollution, and other socially destructive goods and services are judged purely by their profitability. Concern for the social and environmental costs of the investment are non-existent. In other words, inflicting death and destruction are fine because they are profitable.

So what is the global elite's purpose? In a few sentences Phillips characterizes it thus: The elite is largely united in support of the US/NATO military empire that prosecutes a repressive war against resisting groups – typically labeled 'terrorists' – around the world. The real purpose of 'the war on terror' is defense of transnational globalization, the unimpeded flow of financial capital around the world, dollar hegemony and access to oil; it has nothing to do with repressing terrorism which it generates, perpetuates and finances to provide cover for its real agenda. This is why the United States has a long history of CIA and military interventions around the world ostensibly in defense of 'national interests'.

Giants: The Global Power Elite

Wealth and Power

An interesting point that emerges for me from reading Phillips thoughtful analysis is that there is a clear distinction between those individuals and families who have wealth and those individuals who have (sometimes significantly) less wealth (which, nevertheless, is still considerable) but, through their positions and connections, wield a great deal of power. As Phillips explains this distinction, 'the sociology of elites is more important than particular elite individuals and their families'. Just 199 individuals decide how more than $40 trillion will be invested. And this is his central point. Let me briefly elaborate.

There are some really wealthy families in the world, notably including the families Rothschild (France and the United Kingdom), Rockefeller (USA), Goldman-Sachs (USA), Warburgs (Germany), Lehmann (USA), Lazards (France), Kuhn Loebs (USA), Israel Moses Seifs (Italy), Al-Saud (Saudi Arabia), Walton (USA), Koch (USA), Mars (USA), Cargill-MacMillan (USA) and Cox (USA). However, not all of these families overtly seek power to shape the world as they wish.

Similarly, the world's extremely wealthy individuals such as Jeff Bezos (USA), Bill Gates (USA), Warren Buffett (USA), Bernard Arnault (France), Carlos Slim Helu (Mexico) and Francoise Bettencourt Meyers (France) are not necessarily connected in such a way that they exercise enormous power. In fact, they may have little interest in power as such, despite their obvious interest in wealth.

In essence, some individuals and families are content to simply take advantage of how capitalism and its ancilliary governmental and transnational instruments function while others are more politically engaged in seeking to manipulate major institutions to achieve outcomes that not only maximize their own profit and hence wealth but also shape the world itself.

So if you look at the list of 199 individuals that Phillips identifies at the centre of global capital, it does not include names such as Bezos, Gates, Buffett, Koch, Walton or even Rothschild, Rockefeller or Windsor (the Queen of England) despite their well-known and extraordinary wealth. As an aside, many of these names are also missing from the lists compiled by groups such as Forbes and Bloomberg , but their absence from these lists is for a very different reason given the penchant for many really wealthy individuals and families to avoid certain types of publicity and their power to ensure that they do.

In contrast to the names just listed, in Phillips' analysis names like Laurence (Larry) Fink (Chairman and CEO of BlackRock), James (Jamie) Dimon (Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase) and John McFarlane (Chairman of Barclays Bank), while not as wealthy as those listed immediately above, wield far more power because of their positions and connections within the global elite network of 199 individuals.

Predictably then, Phillips observes, these three individuals have similar lifestyles and ideological orientations. They believe capitalism is beneficial for the world and while inequality and poverty are important issues, they believe that capital growth will eventually solve these problems. They are relatively non-expressive about environmental issues, but recognize that investment opportunities may change in response to climate 'modifications'. As millionaires they own multiple homes. They attended elite universities and rose quickly in international finance to reach their current status as giants of the global power elite. 'The institutions they manage have been shown to engage in illegal collusions with others, but the regulatory fines by governments are essentially seen as just part of doing business.'

In short, as I would characterize this description: They are devoid of a legal or moral framework to guide their actions, whether in relation to business, fellow human beings, war or the environment and climate. They are obviously typical of the elite.

Any apparent concern for people, such as that expressed by Fink and Dimon in response to the racist violence in Charlottesville, USA in August 2017, is simply designed to promote 'stability' or more precisely, a stable (that is, profitable) investment and consumer climate.

The lack of concern for people and issues that might concern many of us is also evident from a consideration of the agenda at elite gatherings. Consider the International Monetary Conference. Founded in 1956, it is a private yearly meeting of the top few hundred bankers in the world. The American Bankers Association (ABA) serves as the secretariat for the conference. But, as Phillips notes: 'Nothing on the agenda seems to address the socioeconomic consequences of investments to determine the impacts on people and the environment.' A casual perusal of the agenda at any elite gathering reveals that this comment applies equally to any elite forum. See, for example, the agenda of the recent WEF meeting in Davos . Any talk of 'concern' is misleading rhetoric.

Hence, in the words of Phillips: The 199 directors of the global Giants are 'a very select set of people. They all know each other personally or know of each other. At least 69 have attended the annual World Economic Forum, where they often serve on panels or give public presentations. They mostly attended the same elite universities, and interact in upperclass social setting[s] in the major cities of the world. They all are wealthy and have significant stock holdings in one or more of the financial Giants. They are all deeply invested in the importance of maintaining capital growth in the world. Some are sensitive to environmental and social justice issues, but they seem to be unable to link these issues to global capital concentration.'

Of course, the global elite cannot manage the world system alone: the elite requires agents to perform many of the functions necessary to control national societies and the individuals within them. 'The interests of the Global Power Elite and the TCC are fully recognized by major institutions in society. Governments, intelligence services, policymakers, universities, police forces, military, and corporate media all work in support of their vital interests.'

In other words, to elaborate Phillips' point and extend it a little, through their economic power, the Giants control all of the instruments through which their policies are implemented. Whether it be governments, national military forces, 'military contractors' or mercenaries (with at least $200 billion spent on private security globally, the industry currently employs some fifteen million people worldwide) used both in 'foreign' wars but also likely deployed in future for domestic control, key 'intelligence' agencies, legal systems and police forces, major nongovernment organizations, or the academic, educational, 'public relations propaganda', corporate media, medical, psychiatric and pharmaceutical industries, all instruments are fully responsive to elite control and are designed to misinform, deceive, disempower, intimidate, repress, imprison (in a jail or psychiatric ward), exploit and/or kill (depending on the constituency) the rest of us, as is readily evident.

Defending Elite Power

Phillips observes that the power elite continually worries about rebellion by the 'unruly exploited masses' against their structure of concentrated wealth. This is why the US military empire has long played the role of defender of global capitalism. As a result, the United States has more than 800 military bases (with some scholars suggesting 1,000) in 70 countries and territories. In comparison, the United Kingdom, France, and Russia have about 30 foreign bases. In addition, US military forces are now deployed in 70 percent of the world's nations with US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) having troops in 147 countries, an increase of 80 percent since 2010. These forces conduct counterterrorism strikes regularly, including drone assassinations and kill/capture raids.

'The US military empire stands on hundreds of years of colonial exploitation and continues to support repressive, exploitative governments that cooperate with global capital's imperial agenda. Governments that accept external capital investment, whereby a small segment of a country's elite benefits, do so knowing that capital inevitably requires a return on investment that entails using up resources and people for economic gain. The whole system continues wealth concentration for elites and expanded wretched inequality for the masses .

'Understanding permanent war as an economic relief valve for surplus capital is a vital part of comprehending capitalism in the world today. War provides investment opportunity for the Giants and TCC elites and a guaranteed return on capital. War also serves a repressive function of keeping the suffering masses of humanity afraid and compliant.'

As Phillips elaborates: This is why defense of global capital is the prime reason that NATO countries now account for 85 percent of the world's military spending; the United States spends more on the military than the rest of the world combined.

In essence, 'the Global Power Elite uses NATO and the US military empire for its worldwide security. This is part of an expanding strategy of US military domination around the world, whereby the US/ NATO military empire, advised by the power elite's Atlantic Council , operates in service to the Transnational Corporate Class for the protection of international capital everywhere in the world'.

This entails 'further pauperization of the bottom half of the world's population and an unrelenting downward spiral of wages for 80 percent of the world. The world is facing economic crisis, and the neoliberal solution is to spend less on human needs and more on security. It is a world of financial institutions run amok, where the answer to economic collapse is to print more money through quantitative easing, flooding the population with trillions of new inflation-producing dollars. It is a world of permanent war, whereby spending for destruction requires further spending to rebuild, a cycle that profits the Giants and global networks of economic power. It is a world of drone killings, extrajudicial assassinations, death, and destruction, at home and abroad.'

Where is this all heading?

So what are the implications of this state of affairs? Phillips responds unequivocally: 'This concentration of protected wealth leads to a crisis of humanity, whereby poverty, war, starvation, mass alienation, media propaganda, and environmental devastation are reaching a species-level threat. We realize that humankind is in danger of possible extinction'.

He goes on to state that the Global Power Elite is probably the only entity 'capable of correcting this condition without major civil unrest, war, and chaos' and elaborates an important aim of his book: to raise awareness of the importance of systemic change and the redistribution of wealth among both the book's general readers but also the elite, 'in the hope that they can begin the process of saving humanity.' The book's postscript is a 'A Letter to the Global Power Elite', co-signed by Phillips and 90 others, beseeching the elite to act accordingly.

'It is no longer acceptable for you to believe that you can manage capitalism to grow its way out of the gross inequalities we all now face. The environment cannot accept more pollution and waste, and civil unrest is everywhere inevitable at some point. Humanity needs you to step up and insure that trickle-down becomes a river of resources that reaches every child, every family, and all human beings. We urge you to use your power and make the needed changes for humanity's survival.'

But he also emphasizes that nonviolent social movements, using the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a moral code, can accelerate the process of redistributing wealth by pressuring the elite into action.

Conclusion

Peter Phillips has written an important book. For those of us interested in understanding elite control of the world, this book is a vital addition to the bookshelf. And like any good book, as you will see from my comments both above and below, it raised more questions for me even while it answered many.

As I read Phillips' insightful and candid account of elite behavior in this regard, I am reminded, yet again, that the global power elite is extraordinarily violent and utterly insane: content to kill people in vast numbers (whether through starvation or military violence) and destroy the biosphere for profit, with zero sense of humanity's now limited future. See 'The Global Elite is Insane Revisited' and 'Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival' with more detailed explanations for the violence and insanity here: 'Why Violence?' and 'Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice' .

For this reason I do not share his faith in moral appeals to the elite, as articulated in the letter in his postscript. It is fine to make the appeal but history offers no evidence to suggest that there will be any significant response. The death and destruction inflicted by elites is highly profitable, centuries-old and ongoing. It will take powerful, strategically-focused nonviolent campaigns (or societal collapse) to compel the necessary changes in elite behavior. Hence, I fully endorse his call for nonviolent social movements to compel elite action where we cannot make the necessary changes without their involvement. See 'A Nonviolent Strategy to End Violence and Avert Human Extinction' and Nonviolent Campaign Strategy .

I would also encourage independent action, in one or more of several ways, by those individuals and communities powerful enough to do so. This includes nurturing more powerful individuals by making 'My Promise to Children' , participating in 'The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth' and signing the online pledge of 'The People's Charter to Create a Nonviolent World' .

Fundamentally, Giants: The Global Power Elite is a call to action. Professor Peter Phillips is highly aware of our predicament – politically, socially, economically, environmentally and climatically – and the critical role played by the global power elite in generating that predicament.

If we cannot persuade the global power elite to respond sensibly to that predicament, or nonviolently compel it to do so, humanity's time on Earth is indeed limited.

*

Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of 'Why Violence?' His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here . He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

[Aug 31, 2018] Erasing the Truth and Fabricating Fake Narratives

Notable quotes:
"... Western media monopolies, appendages of the billionaire ruling class, select for narratives which glorify criminal foreign policies. Hence, these monopolies are cheerleaders for uninterrupted wars of aggression. ..."
"... Ruling class policymakers hide their criminality beneath banners of freedom, democracy, and human rights. [1] These lies provide cover for what amounts to a Western- orchestrated and sustained overseas holocaust and the thirdworldization of domestic populations. ..."
"... The lies and misplaced adulation also serve to legitimize the West's proxies, which include al Qaeda [2] in Syria, and neo-Nazis [3] in Kiev. ..."
"... The adulation, then, is part of the apparatus of deception. It brands those who should be facing trials at the Hague as heroes, as it erases the truth, which is a vital component for Peace and International Justice. ..."
Aug 31, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

Western media monopolies, appendages of the billionaire ruling class, select for narratives which glorify criminal foreign policies. Hence, these monopolies are cheerleaders for uninterrupted wars of aggression.

Ruling class policymakers hide their criminality beneath banners of freedom, democracy, and human rights. [1] These lies provide cover for what amounts to a Western- orchestrated and sustained overseas holocaust and the thirdworldization of domestic populations.

The lies are further reinforced when those who advance these toxic policies are celebrated as heroes. This misplaced adulation negates the struggle for Peace and the rule of International Law. The lies and misplaced adulation also serve to legitimize the West's proxies, which include al Qaeda [2] in Syria, and neo-Nazis [3] in Kiev.

What's great thing about the pic accompanying this piece in the Washington Post sanctifying McCain as a human rights advocate is that the guy to his left is an actual Nazi. He's Oleh Tyahnybok, a Ukrainian Nazi. Too good!

10:38 AM - Aug 28, 2018

The adulation, then, is part of the apparatus of deception. It brands those who should be facing trials at the Hague as heroes, as it erases the truth, which is a vital component for Peace and International Justice.

[Aug 27, 2018] The Billionaire Class is Not Fit to Rule by Paul Jay

Notable quotes:
"... The elites are no longer capable or willing of dealing with grave systemic threats, even when it is in their own long-term interests to do so. ..."
"... We can't have faith in the political leadership of these elites, that is the current leadership of either the Republican or the Democratic Parties or the billionaires who bankroll them, to face up to this danger. One would think it's in the interest of the elites themselves to deal with this. But the military-industrial complex has far too much invested in a narrative that depends on a major existential rival. They need war and almost war. American capital will not give up it's dominant global commercial position they believe depends on their military might. Oil and guns determines US foreign policy, not national security. On this point alone, one can argue this ruling class is not fit to rule. But of course, there is more. ..."
"... Do you accept the popular initiative "for crisis-safe money: money creation by the National Bank only!" ..."
"... MIT trains AI to be a psychopath by feeding it reddit posts ..."
"... Seeing Past The Meme ..."
Aug 27, 2018 | therealnews.com

While the fight for health care for all, a higher minimum wage, unionization, against systemic racism, mass incarceration and other necessary reforms are just and critical to engaging people in struggle, we also need to tell people the whole truth about just how critical the big picture is.

While the Trump presidency is a cabal of criminals, billionaires and far-right ideologues, it must first of all be seen in the context of the threats to our very existence, not merely reduced to the daily scandals and twitter storms. There is no need to treat working people as infants. The culture is aimed at the infantilization of our political discussion. We can believe that America is already great or that we should Make America Great Again, but it's all the religion of Americanism, and it's meant to make us willing children who will march into battle or just resign ourselves to things the way they are. We are not infants and we must, as best we can, tell people the whole truth.

As catastrophic and savage as capitalism was during the 20th century, continuous wars and genocides, deep economic crisis and the constant threat of nuclear annihilation, the system proved to be resilient, the global elites did find a kind of equilibrium. Capitalism did not come to an end and the attempts at socialism failed. While many societies around the world have been destroyed, millions slaughtered in war and many more living in deep poverty, the truth is the majority of the people in the advanced capitalist world are mostly doing ok. In the United States there are as many families earning more than $100,000 a year, as there are earning under $30,000. But as resilient as capitalism has proved to be, I don't think this world order is sustainable. The elites are no longer capable or willing of dealing with grave systemic threats, even when it is in their own long-term interests to do so.

We're in a different kind of moment than we've ever faced before. Of course, nuclear weapons posed an existential threat before, but at least the elites saw that ending human life on earth wasn't in their interests. That is so far that's true. Because as crazy as the prospect of nuclear war is, they have not given up their deteriorating hair triggered nuclear arsenals and they actually contemplate the use of localized nuclear weapons. As you know, first Obama planned for a new wave of nuclear weapons, and now Trump is spending billions expanding America's nuclear capability. While it's unlikely that the elites will deliberately launch a nuclear Armageddon, we are all living in denial if we think that an accidental triggering of such isn't possible. The hair trigger policy means there is around ten minutes to decide if what looks like an attack is one or is a glitch in the software. It's a cold war posture still in place in the United States and Russia, it's Dr. Strange Love's Doomsday machine. We can't have faith in the political leadership of these elites, that is the current leadership of either the Republican or the Democratic Parties or the billionaires who bankroll them, to face up to this danger. One would think it's in the interest of the elites themselves to deal with this. But the military-industrial complex has far too much invested in a narrative that depends on a major existential rival. They need war and almost war. American capital will not give up it's dominant global commercial position they believe depends on their military might. Oil and guns determines US foreign policy, not national security. On this point alone, one can argue this ruling class is not fit to rule. But of course, there is more.

... ... ...

Why can't the ruling elites deal with the systemic threats of climate change, financial crisis, global war, and AI? Threats to the future of their own system? Because they are in the middle of an orgy of profit making. They can't believe their good fortune. If they had any doubts before the election, Wall St. now loves Trump. Even though most of finance knows that unregulated, it's only a matter of time before the crisis of 07/08 repeats itself. But what the hell, no one will go to jail and the public will bail them out again.

Wall St. is euphoric as they swim in an ocean of super wealth. While the financial sector represents about 7 percent of our economy it takes around 25 percent of all corporate profit, with only 4 percent of all jobs. With such concentrated wealth goes a competitive culture that prizes daily returns on capital, above the future of humans on earth. These are the people that control American politics as they throw unlimited funds at political campaigns.

The threat of climate crisis? The elites believe, if they actually think beyond their private jets and yachts, that they will be ok. Their kids will be ok, even their grandkids. And then? Apres Moi le Deluge. After me comes the floods said Louis the XV. In Maryland we just saw much of a city washed away, and it's surely the shape of things to come.

... ... ...

As much as the digital revolution helped create a vile stratum of the ultra-rich, it's also created the conditions for a more democratic economy and politics. The Sanders campaign has shown that the political structures that were built to look democratic because the power of billionaires would always win out, can be challenged with mass fundraising. Online organizing and social media has transformed political campaigning and made it less reliant on funds for TV ads. The internet allowed independent media to challenge the power of concentrated media ownership, it made The Real News possible. We are just seeing the early phase of what's possible.

[Aug 24, 2018] The priorities of the deep state and its public face the MSM

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Trump is being promoted by the MSM as the leader of the deplorables – an orange straw man. I support him to the degree that he is confounding the deep state elites and social engineering. ..."
Aug 24, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

PATIENT OBSERVER August 23, 2018 at 5:19 pm

Here is my take on the priorities of the deep state and its public face – the MSM:

  1. stopping the deplorable rebellion
  2. cutting off the head of the rebellion – perceived as Trump
  3. reinstating the Cold War in an effort to derail Rusisa's recovery and international leadership role
  4. bitch slapping China

The rest involves turning unsustainable debt into establishment of a feudal world comprised of elites living on Mount Olympus, legions of vassals and a vast sea of cerebrally castrated peasants to serve as a reservoir for any imaginable exploitation.

Won't happen, not even close.

PATIENT OBSERVER August 23, 2018 at 7:29 pm

Upon further reflection, Trump is being promoted by the MSM as the leader of the deplorables – an orange straw man. I support him to the degree that he is confounding the deep state elites and social engineering.

[Aug 24, 2018] Brennan was caught spying on the Senate Intelligence Commitee, subsequently lied about it and allegedly directed personnel under his command to lie about to the Senate and the IG

Notable quotes:
"... Brennan was caught spying on the Senate Intelligence Commitee in violation of the Constitution and subsequently lied about it and allegedly directed personnel under his command to lie about to the Senate and the IG ..."
"... Congress fears the intelligence agencies and takes orders from them, not the other way around as envisaged in the constitution or spelled out in legislation. ..."
"... Let Trump try to control the agencies by firing all of their top officers, slashing their budgets, freezing their funds or shutting down their operations, even specific projects, and watch congress come to their rescue in a New York minute. ..."
"... Congress will save any significant component of intel or the pentagon before they'd rescue Social Security or any other social program. If pressed for an answer as to which of the "usual suspects" really whacked Kennedy, I suspect most folks would put their money on the CIA, the FBI or some combination of the major intel agencies. ..."
"... The neoliberal globalists, I fear, have taken that phrase "drowning government in the bathtub" all too literally. ..."
Aug 24, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

GM August 16, 2018 at 10:22 pm

Brennan was caught spying on the Senate Intelligence Commitee in violation of the Constitution and subsequently lied about it and allegedly directed personnel under his command to lie about to the Senate and the IG

He could easily be brought up on rather serious charges.

Abby , August 18, 2018 at 11:23 pm

He also leaked classified information to the press as did others and they could have been prosecuted under the espionage act. They will be losing their security clearances soon too. The information that they leaked was the NSA information on Flynn to the Washington post. But of course the Obama justice department only prosecuted people who exposed Washington's dirty secrets.

Realist , August 17, 2018 at 1:21 am

Yes, what Kenneth might like to see happen may be admirable but not going to happen in 2018 or 19, which is practically a different universe from 1975 and for exactly the reasons you specify. This country and its self-appointed minders have changed massively in 45 years. Besides, 1975 was a year after Watergate was finally resolved with Nixon and Agnew's resignations and Congress may have been feeling its oats, going so far as to defund the Vietnam war! Imagine defunding ANY of the multiple wars ongoing!

Congress fears the intelligence agencies and takes orders from them, not the other way around as envisaged in the constitution or spelled out in legislation. Schumer let that feline out of the sack when he warned the president not to mess with them.

Let Trump try to control the agencies by firing all of their top officers, slashing their budgets, freezing their funds or shutting down their operations, even specific projects, and watch congress come to their rescue in a New York minute.

We saw how the CIA worked around congressionally-imposed budgetary restraints in Iran-Contra: by secretly running drugs from Columbia to LA, selling arms to Iran and using the proceeds to fund death squads in Central America. Congress didn't have the guts to take that investigation to it logical conclusion of impeachments and/or indictments. Why?

Congress will save any significant component of intel or the pentagon before they'd rescue Social Security or any other social program. If pressed for an answer as to which of the "usual suspects" really whacked Kennedy, I suspect most folks would put their money on the CIA, the FBI or some combination of the major intel agencies.

Unfettered Fire , August 17, 2018 at 12:11 pm

The neoliberal globalists, I fear, have taken that phrase "drowning government in the bathtub" all too literally.

Rosa Brooks' book How War Became Everything and Everything Became the Military exposes the vast expansion and added responsibilities of the MIC, as governmental departments continue to be dismantled and privatized.

She even said in a book circuit lecture that she thought the idea of Congress "declaring war" was antiquated and cute. Well, how long will it be when the very hollowed out structures of Capitol Hill and the White House are considered antiquated and cute?

What if the plan all along has been to fold up this whole democratic experiment and move HQ into some new multi-billion dollar Pentagon digs?

Remember the words of Strobe Talbott:

"Within the next hundred years nationhood as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single, global authority. National sovereignty wasn't such a great idea after all."

This nation had better wake up fast if it wants to salvage the currency authorizing power of government and restore its role in the economy, before it's no longer an option and the private bankers, today's money lenders in the temple, govern for good.

"The bank strategy continues: "If we can privatize the economy, we can turn the whole public sector into a monopoly. We can treat what used to be the government sector as a financial monopoly. Instead of providing free or subsidized schooling, we can make people pay $50,000 to get a college education, or $50,000 just to get a grade school education if families choose to go to New York private schools. We can turn the roads into toll roads. We can charge people for water, and we can charge for what used to be given for free under the old style of Roosevelt capitalism and social democracy."

This idea that governments should not create money implies that they shouldn't act like governments. Instead, the de facto government should be Wall Street. Instead of governments allocating resources to help the economy grow, Wall Street should be the allocator of resources – and should starve the government to "save taxpayers" (or at least the wealthy). Tea Party promoters want to starve the government to a point where it can be "drowned in the bathtub."

But if you don't have a government that can fund itself, then who is going to govern, and on whose terms? The obvious answer is, the class with the money: Wall Street and the corporate sector. They clamor for a balanced budget, saying, "We don't want the government to fund public infrastructure. We want it to be privatized in a way that will generate profits for the new owners, along with interest for the bondholders and the banks that fund it; and also, management fees. Most of all, the privatized enterprises should generate capital gains for the stockholders as they jack up prices for hitherto public services.

You can see how to demoralize a country if you can stop the government from spending money into the economy. That will cause austerity, lower living standards and really put the class war in business. So what Trump is suggesting is to put the class war in business, financially, with an exclamation point."

http://michael-hudson.com/2017/03/why-deficits-hurt-banking-profits/

[Aug 24, 2018] The WaPo op-ed "God Bless the Deep State" can be viewed as a suggestion for a military coup

Notable quotes:
"... Robinson talks like he has given up on impeachment by what he calls a powerless and spineless Congress. Maybe he's thinking of something quicker and cleaner than a coup, something that could be carried out by a small group of conspirators within an agency trained in removing uncooperative heads of state? ..."
"... I'm still looking for an English copy of Journalists for Hire by Udo Ufkotte. ..."
Aug 24, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

alley cat August 16, 2018 at 1:58 pm

From the WaPo op-ed "God Bless the Deep State," by Eugene Robinson:

Democrats in Congress are powerless; the Republican leadership, spineless. Experienced government officials know that their job is to serve the president. But what if the president does not serve the best interests of the nation?

In this emergency [emphasis mine], the loyal and honorable deep state has a higher duty. It's called patriotism.

Is Robinson really suggesting a military coup? That would take a lot of planning and organization and would be almost impossible to keep secret. Some honest military officer might find out and put the kibosh on it, like Kirk Douglas did in Frankenheimers's classic political thriller, Seven Days in May .

Robinson talks like he has given up on impeachment by what he calls a powerless and spineless Congress. Maybe he's thinking of something quicker and cleaner than a coup, something that could be carried out by a small group of conspirators within an agency trained in removing uncooperative heads of state?

Since deep state conspirators routinely smear all those who demand evidence as "Russian agents," maybe non-conspirators should use the same tactic on them, e.g.: Is Robinson on the CIA payroll? Because anyone who agrees with anything the CIA says is obviously working for the CIA, right?

What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

I'm still looking for an English copy of Journalists for Hire by Udo Ufkotte.


Ltichfield

, August 17, 2018 at 4:03 pm

Re "Thank god for the Deep State."

Amazing, absolutely amazing, statement.
This is, obviously, an admission of the existence of the Deep State -- otherwise generally written off as a "conspiracy theory."

Simultaneously it is a statement that the Deep State "knows better than voters" and also "knows what to do."

This is, actually, a treasonous statement. Why doesn't anyone notice this???

Frederike , August 17, 2018 at 6:34 pm

There is only one article that is translated into English: "The world upside down" 2006,
http://www.ulfkotte.de/18.html
Journalists for Hire is available in German only. (I was able to buy a copy last year.)

Frederike , August 17, 2018 at 6:47 pm

http://it-book.org/pdf/journalists-for-hire
You can download the ebook in English

alley cat , August 16, 2018 at 1:05 am

I've always avoided Eugene Robinson's columns because he seemed like the quintessential, no-think, Borg-assimilated, groupie to me. His column of July 19 entitled "God Bless the Deep State" proves it.

I started highlighting the patent falsehoods in Robinson's column. It didn't take me long to realize that it would be much quicker to highlight the truthful comments. Much, much quicker. I've read the column twice and my copy remains unmarked.

It's a tough call, but probably the most bizarre of Gene's assertions was the following:

"God bless them. With a supine Congress unwilling to play the role it is assigned by the Constitution, the deep state stands between us and the abyss."

Seriously? The deep state stands between us and the abyss? In the real world, where the rest of us live, the deep state is the abyss!

Seems like Washington has been overrun by pod people from an alternate universe, where everything is an inverted, mirror image of reality. Up is down, left is right, etc. Their moral compasses aren't exactly broken, they just point south instead of north.

As for Brennan, he and the president are both zealous advocates of torture. That tells us much about the condition of their moral compasses. A plague on both their houses, with the following reservation: as a certified neocon and Clinton dead-ender, Brennan is even more dangerous to us real-worlders than Trump. He called Trump a traitor for trying to do the right thing. In Brennan's alternate-universe Washington, to do evil is the summum bonum of patriotism.

[Aug 23, 2018] What the Brennan Affair Really Reveals by Stephen Cohen

"My strong suspicion is that 'Russiagate' is a kind of nemesis, arising from the fact that key figures in British and American intelligence have, over a protracted period of time, got involved in intrigues where they are way out of their depth. The unintended consequences of these have meant that people like Brennan and Younger, and also Hannigan, have ended up having to resort to desperate measures to cover their backsides."
Brennan exposed "intelligence community" as a forth branch of government. The branch more powerful that then the other three combined.
Assume, for the sake of argument, that powerful, connected people in the intelligence community and in politics worried that a wildcard Trump presidency, unlike another Clinton or Bush, might expose a decade-plus of questionable practices. Disrupt long-established money channels. Reveal secret machinations that could arguably land some people in prison.
The main suspicion is that Steele's involvement may have been less in crafting the dossier, than making it possible to conceal its actual origins while giving it an appearance of credibility. It could also be the case that Nellie Ohr's sudden interest in radio transmissions had to do with communications inside the United States, rather than with Steele.
Notable quotes:
"... Los Angeles Times ..."
"... New York Times ..."
"... It's a misnomer to term these people representatives of a hidden "deep state." In recent years, they have been amply visible on television and newspaper op-ed pages. Instead, they see and present themselves as members of a fully empowered and essential fourth branch of government. ..."
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... To be fair, Brennan may only be a symptom of this profound American crisis, some say the worst since the Civil War. ..."
Aug 23, 2018 | www.thenation.com

Brennan's allegation was unprecedented. No such high-level intelligence official had ever before accused a sitting president of treason, still more in collusion with the Kremlin. (Impeachment discussions of Presidents Nixon and Clinton, to take recent examples, did not include allegations involving Russia.) Brennan clarified his charge : "Treasonous, which is to betray one's trust and to aid and abet the enemy." Coming from Brennan, a man presumed to be in possession of related dark secrets, as he strongly hinted , the charge was fraught with alarming implications. Brennan made clear he hoped for Trump's impeachment, but in another time, and in many other countries, his charge would suggest that Trump should be removed from the presidency urgently by any means, even a coup. No one, it seems, has even noted this extraordinary implication with its tacit threat to American democracy. (Perhaps because the disloyalty allegation against Trump has been customary ever since mid-2016, even before he became president, when an array of influential publications and writers -- among them a former acting CIA director -- began branding him Putin's "puppet," "agent," "client," and "Manchurian candidate." The Los Angeles Times even saw fit to print an article suggesting that the military might have to remove Trump if he were to be elected, thereby having the very dubious distinction of predating Brennan.)

Why did Brennan, a calculating man, risk leveling such a charge, which might reasonably be characterized as sedition? The most plausible explanation is that he sought to deflect growing attention to his role as the "Godfather" of the entire Russiagate narrative, as Cohen argued back in February. If so, we need to know Brennan's unvarnished views on Russia.

They are set out with astonishing (perhaps unknowing) candor in a New York Times op-ed of August 17. They are those of Joseph McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover in their prime. Western "politicians, political parties, media outlets, think tanks and influencers are readily manipulated, wittingly and unwittingly, or even bought outright, by Russian operatives not only to collect sensitive information but also to distribute propaganda and disinformation. I was well aware of Russia's ability to work surreptitiously within the United States, cultivating relationships with individuals who wield actual or potential power. These Russian agents are well trained in the art of deception. They troll political, business and cultural waters in search of gullible or unprincipled individuals who become pliant in the hands of their Russian puppet masters. Too often, those puppets are found." All this, Brennan assures readers, is based on his "deep insight." All the rest of us, it seems, are constantly susceptible to "Russian puppet masters" under our beds, at work, on our computers. Clearly, there must be no "cooperation" with the Kremlin's grand "Puppet Master," as Trump said he wanted early on. (People who wonder what and when Obama knew about the unfolding Russiagate saga need to ask why he would keep such a person so close for so long.)

And yet, scores of former intelligence and military officials rallied around this unvarnished John Brennan, even though, they said, they did not entirely share his opinions. This too is revealing. They did so, it seems clear enough, out of their professional corporate identity, which Brennan represented and Trump was degrading by challenging the intelligences agencies' (implicitly including his own) Russiagate allegations against him. It's a misnomer to term these people representatives of a hidden "deep state." In recent years, they have been amply visible on television and newspaper op-ed pages. Instead, they see and present themselves as members of a fully empowered and essential fourth branch of government. This too has gone largely undiscussed while nightingales of the fourth branch -- such as David Ignatius and Joe Scarborough in the pages of the The Washington Post -- have been in full voice.

The result is, of course -- and no less ominous -- to criminalize any advocacy of "cooperating with Russia," or détente, as Trump sought to do in Helsinki with Putin. Still more, a full-fledged Russophobic hysteria is sweeping through the American political-media establishment, from Brennan and -- pending actual evidence against her -- those who engineered the arrest of Maria Butina (imagine how this endangers young Americans networking in Russia) to the senators now preparing new "crippling sanctions" against Moscow and the editors and producers at the Times , Post , CNN, and MSNBC. (However powerful, how representative are these elites when surveys indicate that a majority of the American people still prefer good relations with Moscow?)

As the dangers grow of actual war with Russia -- again, from Ukraine and the Baltic region to Syria -- the capacity of US policy-makers, above all the president, are increasingly diminished. To be fair, Brennan may only be a symptom of this profound American crisis, some say the worst since the Civil War.

Finally, there was a time when many Democrats, certainly liberal Democrats, could be counted on to resist this kind of hysteria and, yes, spreading neo-McCarthyism. (Brennan's defenders accuse Trump of McCarthyism, but Brennan's charge of treason without presenting any actual evidence was quintessential McCarthy.) After all, civil liberties, including freedom of speech, are directly involved -- and not only Brennan's and Trump's. But Democratic members of Congress and pro-Democratic media outlets are in the forefront of the new anti-Russian hysteria, with only a few exceptions. Thus a generally liberal historian tells CNN viewers that "Brennan is an American hero. His tenure at the CIA was impeccable. We owe him so much." Elsewhere the same historian assures readers , "There has always been a bipartisan spirit of support since the CIA was created in the Cold War." In the same vein, two Post reporters write of the FBI's " once venerated reputation ."

[Aug 18, 2018] Is Russia an Adversary by Gary Leupp

Notable quotes:
"... The Russians were not pleased by U.S.-NATO involvements in the former Yugoslavia, a traditional Russian ally, in 1995 and 1999, and the expansion of NATO in the latter year (to include Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary) in violation of the agreement between Ronald Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989 that in return for Russia's acceptance of German reunification NATO would not spread "one inch" towards Russia. They protested meekly. But Russia was not an adversary then. ..."
"... Nor was it an adversary when, in 2001, under its new president Vladimir Putin, it offered NATO a route through Russia to provision forces in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. The real change only came in 2004, when NATO suddenly expanded to include Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. This brought alliances forces right to the Russian border. ..."
"... We are your adversary. ..."
"... Russia is an adversary. ..."
"... Russia is an adversary. ..."
"... He worked with our adversary to undermine our election. ..."
Aug 13, 2018 | dissidentvoice.org

Or, What's Wrong with Russian Collusion?

The question is finally being asked, by the president himself: what's wrong with collusion? Or at least his lawyer asks the question, while Trumps tweets:

Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn't matter because there was No Collusion.

The problem, of course, is that of collusion with an alleged adversary. Russia, we are constantly informed, is one such adversary, indeed the main state adversary, with Putin is its head.

Adversary is a very strong term. The Hebrew word for adversary is Satan. Satan is the ultimate symbol of evil in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Satan tempted Eve at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, causing her to eat the fruit, and so evil entered the world.

Just like some want you to think that evil entered the (good, pristine) U.S. electoral process due to this Russian adversary in 2016.

(Sometimes listening to TV pundits vilifying Putin I find Luther's famous hymn floating through my head:

For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe.
His craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.

Luther's referring to Satan, of course. But the current mythology around Putin -- as someone who still , like Lenin and Stalin before him, and the tsars of old, wishes us harm; is an unbridled dictator with a powerful great nuclear arsenal; is the wealthiest man on earth; and hates democracy -- resembles the mythology around the Adversary in the Bible.)

But let us problematize this vilification. When did Russia become a U.S. adversary? Some might say 1917 when in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution Moscow became the center of the global communist movement. But surely that period ended in 1991 with the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the USSR.

Throughout the 1990s the U.S. cultivated Boris Yeltsin's Russia as a friend and even aided the drunken buffoon in winning the 1996 election. Bill Clinton and Yeltsin signed the Start II treaty. Harvard professors advised Moscow on economic reform.

The Russians were not pleased by U.S.-NATO involvements in the former Yugoslavia, a traditional Russian ally, in 1995 and 1999, and the expansion of NATO in the latter year (to include Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary) in violation of the agreement between Ronald Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989 that in return for Russia's acceptance of German reunification NATO would not spread "one inch" towards Russia. They protested meekly. But Russia was not an adversary then.

Nor was it an adversary when, in 2001, under its new president Vladimir Putin, it offered NATO a route through Russia to provision forces in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. The real change only came in 2004, when NATO suddenly expanded to include Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. This brought alliances forces right to the Russian border.

It was a clear statement by the U.S. to a friendly country: We are your adversary. But, of course, the Pentagon and State Department always pooh-poohed Russian concerns, denying that NATO targeted any particular country.

Four years later (2008) NATO announced intentions to draw Ukraine and Georgia into the alliance. Meanwhile the U.S. recognized Kosovo as an independent state. Kosovo, the historical heart of Serbian civilization, had been wrenched from Serbia in 1999 under the pretext of a "humanitarian" intervention that included the first bombing (by NATO) of a European capital city since 1945. The province had been converted into a vast NATO base.

Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili, emboldened by the prospect of NATO membership and western backing, attacked the capital of the separatist republic of South Ossetia, provoking (as the Russians explain it) a proper punitive response: the Russo-Georgian War of August 7-16 . After this Moscow recognized South Ossetia and a second breakaway republic, Abkhazia, in a tit-for-tat response to Washington's recognition of Kosovo.

Now Russia was labelled an aggressive power -- by the power that had carved up Yugoslavia, and invaded and occupied Iraq on the basis of lies and killed half a million in the process. Plans to include Georgia in NATO had to be put on hold, in large part due to European allies' opposition (why provoke Russia?) but the U.S. intensified efforts to draw in Ukraine. That meant toppling the anti-NATO elected president Viktor Yanukovych.

The U.S. State Department devoted enormous resources to the Maidan coup in Kiev on February 23, 2014. Its agents helped topple the government, ostensibly for its failure to negotiate an agreement for Ukrainian associate membership in the EU, but really to bring pro-NATO forces to power and expel the Russian Fleet from the Crimean Peninsula where it has been based since 1783. Moscow's limited support for the Donbass ethnic-Russian separatists and re-annexation of Crimea were, of course, depicted by the U.S. as more aggression, more mischievous opposition to "U.S. global interests."

But from Moscow's point of view these moves have surely been defensive. The main problem is (obviously) NATO and its dangerous, unnecessary and provocative expansion. Throughout his presidential campaign Trump questioned the continued "relevance" of NATO. Characteristically he focused on budget issues and allies' failure to meet the goal figure of 2% if GDP for military expenses (misleadingly depicting investment shortfalls as a betrayal and rip-off of the victimized U.S.). But he did -- to the alarm of many, and probably to Moscow's delight -- express little enthusiasm for the alliance's historical purpose.

The most rational proposition Trump voiced before his election that the U.S. should "get along" with Russia. That is, get along with the so-called adversary. Trump as we all know had been in Russia on business, hosting the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013, and maintains interest in building a Trump Tower in the city. He has met and befriended Russian oligarchs. He quite possibly sees Russia as just another country, like Germany or France.

If "the French" had had dirt on Hillary, would it have been okay to "collude" with them to influence the election result? France is, of course, a NATO ally. Would that make it different? Now that the president and his layers are openly questioning whether "collusion", per se, is even illegal, the specific nature of the colluder becomes more relevant.

Russia is an adversary.

Russia is an adversary.

Putin in Helsinki acknowledged to a reporter that he had hoped Trump could win, because he had expressed hope for better relations. He might have added that he dreaded the prospect of a Hillary victory because of her warmongering and characterization of him as a Hitler. Naturally the Russian media favored Trump over Clinton at a certain point when he emerged as a credible candidate. So when Trump on July 27, 2016 called on Russia to release Hillary's missing emails ("if you've got 'em") the Russians probably felt invited to make contact through channels. And when informed that they had dirt, Don Jr. wrote: "If that's what you say, I love it." (Who can blame him?)

Let's say there was some collusion after the June 6 Trump Tower meeting. Trump has suddenly acknowledged that the meeting with the Russians was indeed to "seek political dirt." He adds that this is "totally legal," and this may be true. Some are now saying that Don Jr. may have violated a federal statute (52 USC 30121, 36 USC 5210) forbidding any foreign person to "make a contribution or a donation of money or other thing of value, or expressly or impliedly promise to make a contribution or a donation, in connection with any Federal, State, or local election.' and for anyone to knowingly solicit, accept, or receive from a foreign national any contribution or donation prohibited by [this law]." But the language is vague. If a Canadian speechwriter works gratis for a U.S. political candidate, in order to help him or her win, is this not "a thing of value" intended to affect an election?

If Paul Manafort, Don Jr. and Jared Kushner had met with Canadian agents in Trump Tower I doubt there would have been any controversy. The fact is, Trump won the election and many of those stunned by that wish to undermine him using revived Cold War-type Russophobia. They insist: He worked with our adversary to undermine our election. And now they hope they've got him on this charge.

*****

Five years ago a young man named Edward Snowden (now living in forced exile in Russia) revealed to the world the extent of the U.S.'s global surveillance. He showed us how the NSA wiretaps EU meetings, popes' conversations, Angela Merkel's cell phone and maintains metadata on virtually all U.S. residents. He showed us what the contemporary advanced state can do in this respect. We should suppose that Moscow has, if not similar capacity, at least enough expertise to hack into the DNC emails or John Podesta's g-mail account. Is that surprising?

What none of the TV anchors is allowed to say needs to be said again: The U.S. interferes in foreign elections all the time, including Russian ones. It should surprise no one if Russian intelligence responds in kind. The point is not the provenance of the leaked emails but their content.

Those horrified by the leaked material complain that their release was designed to "undermine faith in our democratic system." Really? Don't the workings of the system itself undermine one's faith in it, once they are exposed? Was it adversarial of the leaker to inform us that the DNC had no intention of allowing Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic nomination, and thus that the process was rigged? Was it unfriendly to reveal that Podesta was hoping the media would hype Trump, as an easy target for his candidate?

The question that will no doubt be debated in the coming days is whether seeking dirt on a political opponent from any foreigner is indeed illegal, or whether there are specific legal ramifications of meeting with someone from an "adversary" country. But it seems to me that Russia has not been defined as such officially. So we may have a discussion less about legality than the politics of Russophobia.

I am happy to see Trump besieged, rattled, possibly facing impeachment. But to bring him down on the basis of "Russian collusion," on the assumption that Russia is an adversary, would only advantage the warmongers who want no-fly zones over Syria and military support for the Kiev regime against the Donbas separatists. Vice President Pence I believe favors both.

Trump has said that he cannot host Putin in Washington this year, or until the Russian Hoax witch hunt is over. But Putin has invited him to Moscow. One senses he wants some agreements with Trump before he is ousted by his gathering adversaries, including the press, courts, Democrats, select Republicans, turncoat aides and he himself sometimes in his unguarded tweets.

Gary Leupp is a Professor of History at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu . Read other articles by Gary .

This article was posted on Monday, August 13th, 2018 at 10:30pm and is filed under (Ex-)Yugoslavia , Chancellor Angela Merkel , Donald Trump , Elections , Espionage/"Intelligence" , Hillary Clinton , Kosovo , Mike Pence , President Vladimir Putin , Russia , Serbia , Ukraine , United States , US Hypocrisy , US Lies .

[Aug 17, 2018] Lavrov Brilliantly Dissects Western Lies And Manipulations On The False Flag And Skripals

Lavrov suggests that Skripals were intentionally poisoned by BZ which temporary disable a person (for approx 4 days) and Novichok was injected in samples to implicate Russia. He impliedly suggests that this was a false flag operation.
Notable quotes:
"... First, US sanctions against Russia, then the Skripals mystery, and last the Attack at Syria....What the masters of the world trying do??? ..."
"... I'm an American. I'm disgusted with the mafia cartel bankrupt corporation that masquerades as the government. I don't like or trust any government but after listening to this guy, he certainly comes across as way more trustworthy than anyone puppet we have in the Trump regime. ..."
Apr 16, 2018 | www.youtube.com

Maria Kuzali , 4 months ago

First, US sanctions against Russia, then the Skripals mystery, and last the Attack at Syria....What the masters of the world trying do???

Off Grid Nation , 4 months ago

I'm an American. I'm disgusted with the mafia cartel bankrupt corporation that masquerades as the government. I don't like or trust any government but after listening to this guy, he certainly comes across as way more trustworthy than anyone puppet we have in the Trump regime. #IDONOTCONSENT

shaughn fourie , 4 months ago

THANK YOU RUSSIA IN PARTICULAR PRESIDENT PUTIN AND LAVROV BOTH GOOD INTELLIGENT AND DECENT MEN

shaughn fourie , 4 months ago

MACRON TRUMP AND MAY ARE MURDERERS......THANK YOU ASSAD AND RUSSIA AND KURDISH PEOPLE FOR TRULY STANDING UP FOR CIVILISED VALUES

James Australian , 4 months ago (edited)

need to stop the tyrants to prevent the fall of Damascus.. Must not let them kill Mr Assad.

zac anthony , 4 months ago

I believe in Russia more than our gov we are being led

Luboš Lier , 4 months ago

Russia just needs to give Syria couple of tactical nukes. And the peace in Syria is assured...

haithem ali , 4 months ago

Sometimes he continues talking without look at paper..... bcs he say true.... and USA, BRITAIN and France cant do that bcs they are lying and scared if they will say something wrong.

[Aug 17, 2018] It is quite interesting how many uninformed posters and/or trolls would love to find a way to show the Russiagate nonsense is somehow plausible in spite of the evidence

Notable quotes:
"... They're kind of like a five year old child who desperately wants to keep believing in Santa Claus, even though he just found dad's Santa costume in the closet and he's holding it in his own hands. ..."
"... Sorry, but two years into this we should be way beyond this kind of – "I can't believe Santa's not real"- denying, dissembling, rationalizing nonsense. Then again, this is America. ..."
"... America is after all a country in which half the population believe in the creation myth. ..."
"... "Two years after the Iraq War began, 70 per cent of Americans still believed Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 9/11 attacks, according to a Washington Post survey." The Big Lie works, and since Obama gutted Smith-Mundt, the CIA/ State Department can legally keep Americans tracking on their propaganda narratives. ..."
"... I agree with Lawrences point that this is an issue of social psychology. Rational argument over the facts is simply over taken by some kind of mass hysteria. There certainly precedent for this kind of behavior. Indeed this was described in 'Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds' 180 years ago. In my lifetime I have witnessed two episodes of this kind of mass hysteria. The first was the red scare of the early 1950's (I not so much witnessed that as experienced it) and the second was the day care hysteria of satanic cults abusing our children that flared between the late 1980s and early 1990s. Now this is a third manifestation of mass hysteria. ..."
Aug 17, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

Gary Weglarz August 14, 2018 at 4:37 pm

It is quite interesting how many uninformed posters and/or trolls would love to find a way to show the "Russiagate" nonsense is somehow plausible in spite of the evidence. They're kind of like a five year old child who desperately wants to keep believing in Santa Claus, even though he just found dad's Santa costume in the closet and he's holding it in his own hands.

I will say that the amount of mental gymnastics required to continue not believing evidence that is right in front of one's eyes is quite impressive – but I'd never underestimate the American people's creativity when they want to maintain their illusions/delusions. And I'd certainly never underestimate the Russiagate troll army's persistence.

At this rate I expect to soon encounter some version of the following "observation" in the comments section for this article: – "maybe space aliens hired by the Russians downloaded the files to a to a new fangled thig-a-ma-jig and then shape-shifted so Craig Murray would be fooled into thinking a real-like-human insider provided him the files on a flash drive." – "oh, oh, wait, maybe the aliens abducted Murray too, and then just made him "think" a fellow human gave him the drive in person." "yeah, yeah, and maybe Assange just says he didn't get the files from the Russians because "he's a space alien too." "Yeah, prove to me that it didn't happen this way – you can't – ha! there! I win!"

Sorry, but two years into this we should be way beyond this kind of – "I can't believe Santa's not real"- denying, dissembling, rationalizing nonsense. Then again, this is America.

Reply

GM , August 14, 2018 at 4:51 pm

America is after all a country in which half the population believe in the creation myth.

jeff montanye , August 17, 2018 at 7:11 am

but if i had to bet, the creationists are less likely to believe in Russiagate than the evolutionists.

Just Plain Scott , August 14, 2018 at 6:14 pm

Please don't give Rachel Maddow any more ideas.

michael , August 15, 2018 at 6:06 am

"Two years after the Iraq War began, 70 per cent of Americans still believed Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 9/11 attacks, according to a Washington Post survey." The Big Lie works, and since Obama gutted Smith-Mundt, the CIA/ State Department can legally keep Americans tracking on their propaganda narratives.

ToivoS , August 14, 2018 at 4:26 pm

I agree with Lawrences point that this is an issue of social psychology. Rational argument over the facts is simply over taken by some kind of mass hysteria. There certainly precedent for this kind of behavior. Indeed this was described in 'Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds' 180 years ago. In my lifetime I have witnessed two episodes of this kind of mass hysteria. The first was the red scare of the early 1950's (I not so much witnessed that as experienced it) and the second was the day care hysteria of satanic cults abusing our children that flared between the late 1980s and early 1990s. Now this is a third manifestation of mass hysteria.

It all began with Hillary's shocking defeat. Many millions of her supporters knew that she was so good that she had to win. But then she lost. Those millions of Democrats could not accept that in fact their assessment of her talents were totally wrong and that she lost because she has to be one of the worst candidates in American history. That is a reality those people refused to accept. Instead they had to concoct some crazy conspiracy to explain their break with reality. This is a classic case of cognitive dissonance which often leads to mass hysteria.

GM , August 14, 2018 at 5:01 pm

People choose to believe what they feel that they most need to believe to assuage their insecurities fostered by what they perceive to be the dangerous and scary world in which they exist. The simple fact that we know that life is finite by the time we're three years old fosters the creation of such constructs as that of the myth of everlasting life in the kingdom of heaven complete with a mortgage-free condo and an extra parking space for all repentant sinners are mainstream beliefs.

Rob Roy , August 14, 2018 at 11:07 pm

ToivoS, you are right about Hillary. She simply couldn't accept her defeat. She was the one who began Russiagate by the lie, "17 intelligence agencies" said the Russians hacked the emails.
As for times of mass-swallowing of a lie in the 1930s every German thought that Poland was about to invade Germany and they were scared so much that they believed their leaders who "false flagged" them into invading Poland "first." Of course, Poland had no intention of invading Germany.
Notice every time the US attacks another sovereign country, there's a false flag waved for the citizens to follow?
Don't you appreciate that we have consortiumnews?

[Aug 17, 2018] What if Russiagate is the New WMDs

In both cases CIA and neocons run the show. But there is new powerful factor: emergence of CIA democrats like Brennan and the conversion of intelligence agencies into political tool, the Cerberus that safeguard the castle of neoliberalism in the USA. The USA people (bottom 90%) be damned.
Notable quotes:
"... Trump's guilt in " Russiagate " is now assumed by much of the American left, and reaches greater levels of fervor with every passing day. ..."
"... Coulter was confident and she wasn't alone. Virtually the entire mainstream American right -- from pundits like Coulter and Sean Hannity to President George W. Bush and the Republican Congress -- was deeply invested in the notion that Hussein possessed WMDs and that the Iraq war was justified based on that unshakeable premise. This belief was so ingrained for so long that many excitedly rushed to pretend that chemical weapons discovered in Iraq as reported by the New York Times ..."
"... Now, "Russian collusion" could be becoming the new WMDs. ..."
"... New York Magazine ..."
"... Weekly Standard ..."
Aug 16, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
declared liberal celebrity activist Rosie O'Donnell at a protest in front of the White House last week. "We see it, he can't lie about it," she added. "He is going down and so will all of his administration." "The charge is treason," O'Donnell declared. Protesters held held large letters that spelled it out: " T-R-E-A-S-O-N ."

O'Donnell is by no means alone in her sentiments. Trump's guilt in " Russiagate " is now assumed by much of the American left, and reaches greater levels of fervor with every passing day.

This kind of partisan religiosity is not new.

In the wake of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, conservative pundit Ann Coulter accused war opponents of " treason " and insisted of Saddam Hussein, "We know he had weapons of mass destruction."

Coulter was confident and she wasn't alone. Virtually the entire mainstream American right -- from pundits like Coulter and Sean Hannity to President George W. Bush and the Republican Congress -- was deeply invested in the notion that Hussein possessed WMDs and that the Iraq war was justified based on that unshakeable premise. This belief was so ingrained for so long that many excitedly rushed to pretend that chemical weapons discovered in Iraq as reported by the New York Times in 2014 were somehow the same thing as the " mushroom cloud " the Bush administration said Saddam was capable of.

Unfortunately for the right (and America, and the world), that premise turned out to be false. There were no WMDs. Today, only a minority of delusional, face-saving hawks and unreconstructed neoconservatives still parrot that lie .

And far from being "traitors," Iraq war opponents today are considered to have been on the right side of history .

John Brennan: Melting Down and Covering Up The Iraq War's Age of Madness

Now, "Russian collusion" could be becoming the new WMDs.

The post-2016 left's most dominant narrative is arguably their deeply held belief -- with all the ferocity and piety of yesterday's pro-war conservatives -- that Russia colluded with Trump's campaign to undermine the presidential election. Many believe that the president and anyone who supports his diplomatic efforts like Senator Rand Paul are in the pocket of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"I will meet not just with our friends, but with our enemies," said Barack Obama in 2008, and he did just that with Putin, as has every other president in recent times .

But Trump-Russia relations have been spun into far-fetched conspiracy theories on the left. New York Magazine 's Jonathan Chait recently went so far as to speculate that Trump has been a Russian agent since 1987 , a cockamamie idea on par with the Weekly Standard 's Stephen Hayes' discredited conspiracy theory that Saddam and Osama bin Laden were in cahoots .

It really was plausible that Iraq had WMDs in 2003 based on what our intelligence agencies knew, or purported to know. Today, it is feasible that American democracy really has Putin's fingerprints on it based on things revealed by U.S. intelligence.

But isn't it also possible that the left is reading far too much into Russiagate?

The Nation 's Aaron Maté believes liberals are overreaching, and that's putting it mildly:

From the outset, Russiagate proponents have exhibited a blind faith in the unverified claims of US government officials and other sources, most of them unnamed. The reaction to special counsel Robert Mueller's recent indictment of 12 Russian military-intelligence officers for hacking of Democratic party servers and voter databases is no exception. Mueller's indictment is certainly detailed. Most significantly, it marks the first time anyone has been charged for offenses related to Russiagate's underlying crime.

But while it is a major step forward in the investigation, we have yet to see the basis for the allegations that Mueller has lodged. As with any criminal case, from a petty offense to a cybercrime charge against a foreign government, a verdict cannot be formed in the absence of this evidence.

Then the irony kicks in. Maté continues, "The record of US intelligence, replete with lies and errors, underscores the need for caution. Mueller was a player in one of this century's most disastrous follies when, in congressional testimony, he endorsed claims about Iraqi WMDs and warned that Saddam Hussein 'may supply' chemical and biological material to 'terrorists.'"

Noting Mueller's 2003 WMD testimony is not an attempt to undermine him or his investigation, something Maté also makes clear. But it does serve as an important reminder that "intelligence" can be flat-out wrong. It reminds us how these scenarios, which so much of Washington and the elite class fully endorse, can be looked back on as lapses of reason years later.

Mass psychology is real. Political classes and parties are not immune.

"Suppose, however, that all of the claims about Russian meddling turn out to be true," Maté asks. "Hacking e-mails and voter databases is certainly a crime, and seeking to influence another country's election can never be justified."

He continues, "But the procession of elite voices falling over themselves to declare that stealing e-mails and running juvenile social-media ads amount to an 'attack,' even an 'act of war,' are escalating a panic when a sober assessment is what is most needed."

The U.S. could have certainly used less hyperbole and more sobriety in 2002 and 2003.

And there's good chance that when the history books are written about American politics circa 2018, much of Russiagate will be dismissed as more Red Scare than Red Dawn .

With Russia, as with WMDs, left and right have elevated slivers of legitimate security concerns to the level of existential threat based mostly on their own partisanship. That kind of thinking has already proven to be dangerous.

We don't know what evidence of collusion between the Trump camp and Russia might yet come forth, but it's easy to see how, even if this narrative eventually falls flat, 15 years from now some liberals will still be clinging to Russiagate not as a matter of fact, but political identity. Russia-obsessed liberals, too, could end up on the wrong side of history.

No one can know the future. Republicans would be wise to prepare for new, potentially damaging information about Trump and Russia that may yet emerge.

Democrats should consider that Russiagate may be just as imaginary as Republicans' Iraq fantasy.

Jack Hunter is the former political editor of Rare.us and co-authored the 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington with Senator Rand Paul.

JLF August 16, 2018 at 1:31 pm

All this may be as Hunter would have it. Yet there is the nagging doubt that Trump, who could only find major financing for his enterprises following his last bankruptcy through Putin-controlled banks, could be free of any entangling ties or obligations. And if those doubts prove true, what then?
MM , , August 16, 2018 at 1:42 pm
From the Nation: "From the outset, Russiagate proponents have exhibited a blind faith in the unverified claims of U.S. government officials and other sources, most of them unnamed."

This is a key point, because now Democrats and the most of the Left are ready to embrace a guy like Brennan a.k.a. Mr. Torture, merely because they hate Trump.

I'll also admit to not knowing what's coming in the future, but as of now there's a strong circumstantial case to be made that this reactions to Russian election meddling, which when all was said and done amounted to providing the voting public with the truth about the DNC and its own election-fixing operation, that this reaction is only about losing the 2016 presidential election to a guy who was only given a 1% chance of winning by almost everyone.

Clyde Schechter , , August 16, 2018 at 2:20 pm
This is the most sensible commentary on "Russiagate" I have seen anywhere in a long time.

At present, there is some suggestive evidence in the public arena, but nothing conclusive.

What we probably need, actually, is a moratorium on commentary about this until the investigation reaches its conclusion. That can take a long time. But until then, the endless partisanship-motivated speculation we hear daily is, frankly tiresome.

Thank you, Mr. Hunter, for your temperate perspective on this. I wish this would be the last word on the subject until the investigation ends.

b. , , August 16, 2018 at 3:01 pm
'"Russian collusion" could be becoming the new WMDs.'

I suspect I agree with the author's sentiment, but it is not easy to tell.

Who stands accused? Trump? Russia? Both?

The claim that Trump is colluding with Russia is not the same as the claim that Iraq War opponents were colluding with Saddam Hussein.

The manufactured "Russia!" hysteria campaign orchestrated by the Obama/Clinton Democratic Party leadership, as deplorable and dubious as it might be, has nothing in common with the "5th column" smears Sullivan et.al. were peddling in 2002-2003 and beyond.

The claim that Trump committed "treason" would be legally incorrect on the worst case. Without a formal Congressional declaration of war, we are not at war with Russia, and Russia is not the enemy, no matter how much irresponsible mouthbreathing is broadcast from the biparty Congress members. However corrupt and corrupted Trump may be, corruption does not qualify as treason. If corruption were treason, Congress, in support of Israel and Saudi Arabia at the expense of the US (and certainly not in support of Russia) would be a house of traitors.

In comparison, the claim that opponents of the Iraq war were traitors was not just idiotic, but morally inexcusable. If anybody violated their oath, it was Bush himself, his appointees, and the ranking officers of the US military, for issuing illegal orders and/or following them.

"Russian election meddling" is the new WMD only the extent it is used as a pretext for war against Russia. It is the new "stained dress" in the attempt to challenge the ballot and paralyze an inconvenient President. I have no doubt that the Clintons are corrupt, and the GOP has engaged in many a Congressional effort to "investigate". The Clinton campaign adopted this playbook, and the damage to the Republic done by all is growing every day.

The real corruption here is the pretense that Congress is any better than Trump, that Russian oligarchs have more impact on the eroding Republic than Israeli-American, Saudi and UAE oligarchs, and that the biggest threat to the integrity of our elections and the franchise is Russia, and not the Roberts Court, Democrat apparatchiks like Sunstein, or Republican frauds like Kobach. Both parties are actively conspiring and plotting to make sure our votes are meaningless and cannot harm incumbents and the war profiteering classes, and where there used to be an opposition to illegal war and to oligarchs and plutocrats, there is now willing participation in manufactured hysteria to extend the 2016 campaign indefinitely.

WMDs? The very concept is a scam -- there is nukes, and nothing else. Nuclear arsenals outsized to end us all, and trillion dollar waste to expand them, are the tie that binds the US and Russia, and I suspect that Russia would be a lot more rational about reducing those arsenals than the US. If the author wants to worry about ending up on the wrong side of history, he should stop worrying about partisan points and focus. Politics is not a team sports, and anybody who picks a favorite is a failure as a citizen. Nobody who wants power is suitable for it.

b. , , August 16, 2018 at 3:07 pm
Ask yourself, if Saddam Hussein had had "WMD" -- say, some of those chemical and biological stocks Reagan envoy Rumsfeld helpfully provided to Saddam Hussein -- would that have made the Iraq invasion legal, right just, necessary, successful? Or if Powell's little phials and mobile weapons labs actually existed?

Heck, let's say Saddam managed to make actual nukes out of tubes that weren't and yellowcake that wasn't. North Korea has nukes. Does that make invasion and aggressive war legal, right, just necessary, successful?

WMD or not was a lie wrapped within a deception inside a fraud. That's the one thing that it has in common with "Russiagate". Every layer, every aspect of it is a lie, a distraction, and everybody -- Trump included -- is perpetuating the hysteria for their own benefit. The stupidity of it is only barely rivaled by the mendacity.

Stavros , , August 16, 2018 at 3:17 pm
Trump is proving to be the Republican Alger Hiss. The partisanship of 1948 quickly crystallized into pro- and anti-Hiss camps in which the then limited evidence was trumped by ideology. It was not until the Verona tapes were released in the early 1990s that Hiss was proven to be guilty. Had Nixon and his allies called for a special prosecutor in 1948 and the facts both open and classified been examined intensely, Hiss would never have become the progressive Victim that he was to be for over thirty years. Ditto with Trump. Absent Mueller's investigation, these accusations against Trump (and I believe them to have serious weight and substance as well as potential for policy changes to prevent election fraud) would be mere ideological shrapnel to be argued over for another thirty years. Let the investigations proceed unimpeded and a final accounting be published at the very least for the sanity and integrity of the Republic. Don't let Trump become the Right's Alger Hiss.
b. , , August 16, 2018 at 3:18 pm
In other words, let's imagine that Putin has really tried to change election results. Let's imagine that Trump really has been bribed by Russian oligarchs.

Is that why we are at this juncture? Is that why Congress has not served the People and upheld the Constitution in decades? Is that why citizens and voters lose trust in our institutions, and doubt election results?

Really?

We cannot even own up to our own mistakes, our own greed, our own malignancy. We have to blame it not on our "business partners" and "allies" and their hundreds of billions of dollars of arms purchases, we will blame it on Russia.

How small we have become.

It is not just Trump, it is Congress. It is not just this administration and this Congress, it is the previous ones, and the ones before it, and so on.

The point is not whether or not the "Russia!" hysteria and the allegations against Trump are accurate or not. The point is that, in comparison to everything else, it would just be more of the same, and we brought it upon ourselves.

Regime change begins at home.

Sisera , , August 16, 2018 at 3:44 pm
@Collin-
Isn't it extremely Orwellian to say that 'information isn't really information/should be censored or disregarded if it comes from a subversive (Russia) source'?

Naturally, it allows for a very easy way to control and censor information.

Now, as far as pure security threats, aside from information that should've been public anyway, experts deem that the DNC information came from on site:

https://www.thenation.com/article/a-new-report-raises-big-questions-about-last-years-dnc-hack/

Now this is also an appeal to authority, but VIPs has a better track record and I've seen them actually elaborate on their claims, not just assert them.

[Aug 14, 2018] Technocrats Rule Democracy Is 'OK' As Long As The People Rubberstamp Our Leadership

Aug 14, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Technocrats rule the world, East and West alike.

We are in a very peculiar ideological and political place in which Democracy (oh sainted Democracy) is a very good thing, unless the voters reject the technocrat class's leadership. Then the velvet gloves come off. From the perspective of the elites and their technocrat apparatchiks, elections have only one purpose: to rubberstamp their leadership.

As a general rule, this is easily managed by spending hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising and bribes to the cartels and insider fiefdoms who pony up most of the cash.

This is why incumbents win the vast majority of elections. Once in power, they issue the bribes and payoffs needed to guarantee funding next election cycle.

The occasional incumbent who is voted out of office made one of two mistakes:

1. He/she showed a very troubling bit of independence from the technocrat status quo, so a more orthodox candidate is selected to eliminate him/her.

2. The incumbent forgot to put on a charade of "listening to my constituency" etc.

If restive voters can't be bamboozled into passively supporting the technocrat status quo with the usual propaganda, divide and conquer is the preferred strategy. Only voting for the technocrat class (of any party, it doesn't really matter) will save us from the evil Other : Deplorables, socialists, commies, fascists, etc.

In extreme cases where the masses confound the status quo by voting against the technocrat class (i.e. against globalization, financialization, Empire), then the elites/technocrats will punish them with austerity or a managed recession. The technocrat's core ideology boils down to this:

1. The masses are dangerously incapable of making wise decisions about anything, so we have to persuade them to do our bidding. Any dissent will be punished, marginalized, censored or shut down under some pretext of "protecting the public" or violation of some open-ended statute.

2. To insure this happy outcome, we must use all the powers of propaganda, up to and including rigged statistics, bogus "facts" (official fake news can't be fake news, etc.), divide and conquer, fear-mongering, misdirection and so on.

3. We must relentlessly centralize all power, wealth and authority so the masses have no escape or independence left to threaten us. We must control everything, for their own good of course.

4. Globalization must be presented not as a gargantuan fraud that has stripmined the planet and its inhabitants, but as the sole wellspring of endless, permanent prosperity.

5. If the masses refuse to rubberstamp our leadership, they will be punished and told the source of their punishment is their rejection of globalization, financialization and Empire.

Technocrats rule the world, East and West alike. My two favorite charts of the outcome of technocrats running things to suit their elite masters are:

The state-cartel-crony-capitalist version: the top .1% skim the vast majority of the gains in income and wealth. Globalization, financialization and Empire sure do rack up impressive gains. Too bad they're concentrated in the top 1.%.

The state-crony-socialist version: the currency is destroyed, impoverishing everyone but the top .1% who transferred their wealth to Miami, London and Zurich long ago. Hmm, do you discern a pattern here in the elite-technocrat regime?

Ideology is just a cover you slip over the machine to mask what's really going on.

* * *

My new book Money and Work Unchained is now $6.95 for the Kindle ebook and $15 for the print edition. Read the first section for free in PDF format. If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com .

[Aug 14, 2018] US Intelligence Community is Tearing the Country Apart from the Inside by Dmitry Orlov

Highly recommended!
This is an interesting analysis shedding some light on how the US intelligence services have gone rogue...
Notable quotes:
"... Most recently, British "special services," which are a sort of Mini-Me to the to the Dr. Evil that is the US intelligence apparatus, saw it fit to interfere with one of their own spies, Sergei Skripal, a double agent whom they sprung from a Russian jail in a spy swap. They poisoned him using an exotic chemical and then tried to pin the blame on Russia based on no evidence. ..."
"... the Americans are doing their best to break the unwritten rule against dragging spies through the courts, but their best is nowhere near good enough. ..."
"... That said, there is no reason to believe that the Russian spies couldn't have hacked into the DNC mail server. It was probably running Microsoft Windows, and that operating system has more holes in it than a building in downtown Raqqa, Syria after the Americans got done bombing that city to rubble, lots of civilians included. When questioned about this alleged hacking by Fox News, Putin (who had worked as a spy in his previous career) had trouble keeping a straight face and clearly enjoyed the moment. ..."
"... He pointed out that the hacked/leaked emails showed a clear pattern of wrongdoing: DNC officials conspired to steal the electoral victory in the Democratic Primary from Bernie Sanders, and after this information had been leaked they were forced to resign. If the Russian hack did happen, then it was the Russians working to save American democracy from itself. So, where's the gratitude? Where's the love? Oh, and why are the DNC perps not in jail? ..."
"... The logic of US officials may be hard to follow, but only if we adhere to the traditional definitions of espionage and counterespionage -- "intelligence" in US parlance -- which is to provide validated information for the purpose of making informed decisions on best ways of defending the country. But it all makes perfect sense if we disabuse ourselves of such quaint notions and accept the reality of what we can actually observe: the purpose of US "intelligence" is not to come up with or to work with facts but to simply "make shit up." ..."
"... The objective of US intelligence is to suck all remaining wealth out of the US and its allies and pocket as much of it as possible while pretending to defend it from phantom aggressors by squandering nonexistent (borrowed) financial resources on ineffective and overpriced military operations and weapons systems. Where the aggressors are not phantom, they are specially organized for the purpose of having someone to fight: "moderate" terrorists and so on. ..."
"... "What sort of idiot are you to ask me such a stupid question? Of course they are lying! They were caught lying more than once, and therefore they can never be trusted again. In order to claim that they are not currently lying, you have to determine when it was that they stopped lying, and that they haven't lied since. And that, based on the information that is available, is an impossible task." ..."
"... "The US intelligence agencies made an outrageous claim: that I colluded with Russia to rig the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The burden of proof is on them. They are yet to prove their case in a court of law, which is the only place where the matter can legitimately be settled, if it can be settled at all. Until that happens, we must treat their claim as conspiracy theory, not as fact." ..."
"... But no such reality-based, down-to-earth dialogue seems possible. All that we hear are fake answers to fake questions, and the outcome is a series of faulty decisions. Based on fake intelligence, the US has spent almost all of this century embroiled in very expensive and ultimately futile conflicts. ..."
"... Thanks to their efforts, Iran, Iraq and Syria have now formed a continuous crescent of religiously and geopolitically aligned states friendly toward Russia while in Afghanistan the Taliban is resurgent and battling ISIS -- an organization that came together thanks to American efforts in Iraq and Syria. ..."
"... Another hypothesis, and a far more plausible one, is that the US intelligence community has been doing a wonderful job of bankrupting the country and driving it toward financial, economic and political collapse by forcing it to engage in an endless series of expensive and futile conflicts -- the largest single continuous act of grand larceny the world has ever known. How that can possibly be an intelligent thing to do to your own country, for any conceivable definition of "intelligence," I will leave for you to work out for yourself. While you are at it, you might also want to come up with an improved definition of "treason": something better than "a skeptical attitude toward preposterous, unproven claims made by those known to be perpetual liars. ..."
Jul 28, 2018 | russia-insider.com
In today's United States, the term "espionage" doesn't get too much use outside of some specific contexts. There is still sporadic talk of industrial espionage, but with regard to Americans' own efforts to understand the world beyond their borders, they prefer the term "intelligence." This may be an intelligent choice, or not, depending on how you look at things.

First of all, US "intelligence" is only vaguely related to the game of espionage as it has been traditionally played, and as it is still being played by countries such as Russia and China. Espionage involves collecting and validating strategically vital information and conveying it to just the pertinent decision-makers on your side while keeping the fact that you are collecting and validating it hidden from everyone else.

In eras past, a spy, if discovered, would try to bite down on a cyanide capsule; these days torture is considered ungentlemanly, and spies that get caught patiently wait to be exchanged in a spy swap. An unwritten, commonsense rule about spy swaps is that they are done quietly and that those released are never interfered with again because doing so would complicate negotiating future spy swaps.

In recent years, the US intelligence agencies have decided that torturing prisoners is a good idea, but they have mostly been torturing innocent bystanders, not professional spies, sometimes forcing them to invent things, such as "Al Qaeda." There was no such thing before US intelligence popularized it as a brand among Islamic terrorists.

Most recently, British "special services," which are a sort of Mini-Me to the to the Dr. Evil that is the US intelligence apparatus, saw it fit to interfere with one of their own spies, Sergei Skripal, a double agent whom they sprung from a Russian jail in a spy swap. They poisoned him using an exotic chemical and then tried to pin the blame on Russia based on no evidence.

There are unlikely to be any more British spy swaps with Russia, and British spies working in Russia should probably be issued good old-fashioned cyanide capsules (since that supposedly super-powerful Novichok stuff the British keep at their "secret" lab in Porton Down doesn't work right and is only fatal 20% of the time).

There is another unwritten, commonsense rule about spying in general: whatever happens, it needs to be kept out of the courts, because the discovery process of any trial would force the prosecution to divulge sources and methods, making them part of the public record. An alternative is to hold secret tribunals, but since these cannot be independently verified to be following due process and rules of evidence, they don't add much value.

A different standard applies to traitors; here, sending them through the courts is acceptable and serves a high moral purpose, since here the source is the person on trial and the method -- treason -- can be divulged without harm. But this logic does not apply to proper, professional spies who are simply doing their jobs, even if they turn out to be double agents. In fact, when counterintelligence discovers a spy, the professional thing to do is to try to recruit him as a double agent or, failing that, to try to use the spy as a channel for injecting disinformation.

Americans have been doing their best to break this rule. Recently, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted a dozen Russian operatives working in Russia for hacking into the DNC mail server and sending the emails to Wikileaks. Meanwhile, said server is nowhere to be found (it's been misplaced) while the time stamps on the files that were published on Wikileaks show that they were obtained by copying to a thumb drive rather than sending them over the internet. Thus, this was a leak, not a hack, and couldn't have been done by anyone working remotely from Russia.

Furthermore, it is an exercise in futility for a US official to indict Russian citizens in Russia. They will never stand trial in a US court because of the following clause in the Russian Constitution: "61.1 A citizen of the Russian Federation may not be deported out of Russia or extradited to another state."

Mueller may summon a panel of constitutional scholars to interpret this sentence, or he can just read it and weep. Yes, the Americans are doing their best to break the unwritten rule against dragging spies through the courts, but their best is nowhere near good enough.

That said, there is no reason to believe that the Russian spies couldn't have hacked into the DNC mail server. It was probably running Microsoft Windows, and that operating system has more holes in it than a building in downtown Raqqa, Syria after the Americans got done bombing that city to rubble, lots of civilians included. When questioned about this alleged hacking by Fox News, Putin (who had worked as a spy in his previous career) had trouble keeping a straight face and clearly enjoyed the moment.

He pointed out that the hacked/leaked emails showed a clear pattern of wrongdoing: DNC officials conspired to steal the electoral victory in the Democratic Primary from Bernie Sanders, and after this information had been leaked they were forced to resign. If the Russian hack did happen, then it was the Russians working to save American democracy from itself. So, where's the gratitude? Where's the love? Oh, and why are the DNC perps not in jail?

Since there exists an agreement between the US and Russia to cooperate on criminal investigations, Putin offered to question the spies indicted by Mueller. He even offered to have Mueller sit in on the proceedings. But in return he wanted to question US officials who may have aided and abetted a convicted felon by the name of William Browder, who is due to begin serving a nine-year sentence in Russia any time now and who, by the way, donated copious amounts of his ill-gotten money to the Hillary Clinton election campaign.

In response, the US Senate passed a resolution to forbid Russians from questioning US officials. And instead of issuing a valid request to have the twelve Russian spies interviewed, at least one US official made the startlingly inane request to have them come to the US instead. Again, which part of 61.1 don't they understand?

The logic of US officials may be hard to follow, but only if we adhere to the traditional definitions of espionage and counterespionage -- "intelligence" in US parlance -- which is to provide validated information for the purpose of making informed decisions on best ways of defending the country. But it all makes perfect sense if we disabuse ourselves of such quaint notions and accept the reality of what we can actually observe: the purpose of US "intelligence" is not to come up with or to work with facts but to simply "make shit up."

The "intelligence" the US intelligence agencies provide can be anything but; in fact, the stupider it is the better, because its purpose is allow unintelligent people to make unintelligent decisions. In fact, they consider facts harmful -- be they about Syrian chemical weapons, or conspiring to steal the primary from Bernie Sanders, or Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, or the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden -- because facts require accuracy and rigor while they prefer to dwell in the realm of pure fantasy and whimsy. In this, their actual objective is easily discernible.

The objective of US intelligence is to suck all remaining wealth out of the US and its allies and pocket as much of it as possible while pretending to defend it from phantom aggressors by squandering nonexistent (borrowed) financial resources on ineffective and overpriced military operations and weapons systems. Where the aggressors are not phantom, they are specially organized for the purpose of having someone to fight: "moderate" terrorists and so on.

One major advancement in their state of the art has been in moving from real false flag operations, à la 9/11, to fake false flag operations, à la fake East Gouta chemical attack in Syria (since fully discredited). The Russian election meddling story is perhaps the final step in this evolution: no New York skyscrapers or Syrian children were harmed in the process of concocting this fake narrative, and it can be kept alive seemingly forever purely through the furious effort of numerous flapping lips. It is now a pure confidence scam. If you are less then impressed with their invented narratives, then you are a conspiracy theorist or, in the latest revision, a traitor.

Trump was recently questioned as to whether he trusted US intelligence. He waffled. A light-hearted answer would have been:

"What sort of idiot are you to ask me such a stupid question? Of course they are lying! They were caught lying more than once, and therefore they can never be trusted again. In order to claim that they are not currently lying, you have to determine when it was that they stopped lying, and that they haven't lied since. And that, based on the information that is available, is an impossible task."

A more serious, matter-of-fact answer would have been:

"The US intelligence agencies made an outrageous claim: that I colluded with Russia to rig the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The burden of proof is on them. They are yet to prove their case in a court of law, which is the only place where the matter can legitimately be settled, if it can be settled at all. Until that happens, we must treat their claim as conspiracy theory, not as fact."

And a hardcore, deadpan answer would have been:

"The US intelligence services swore an oath to uphold the US Constitution, according to which I am their Commander in Chief. They report to me, not I to them. They must be loyal to me, not I to them. If they are disloyal to me, then that is sufficient reason for their dismissal."

But no such reality-based, down-to-earth dialogue seems possible. All that we hear are fake answers to fake questions, and the outcome is a series of faulty decisions. Based on fake intelligence, the US has spent almost all of this century embroiled in very expensive and ultimately futile conflicts.

Thanks to their efforts, Iran, Iraq and Syria have now formed a continuous crescent of religiously and geopolitically aligned states friendly toward Russia while in Afghanistan the Taliban is resurgent and battling ISIS -- an organization that came together thanks to American efforts in Iraq and Syria.

The total cost of wars so far this century for the US is reported to be $4,575,610,429,593. Divided by the 138,313,155 Americans who file tax returns (whether they actually pay any tax is too subtle a question), it works out to just over $33,000 per taxpayer. If you pay taxes in the US, that's your bill so far for the various US intelligence "oopsies."

The 16 US intelligence agencies have a combined budget of $66.8 billion, and that seems like a lot until you realize how supremely efficient they are: their "mistakes" have cost the country close to 70 times their budget. At a staffing level of over 200,000 employees, each of them has cost the US taxpayer close to $23 million, on average. That number is totally out of the ballpark! The energy sector has the highest earnings per employee, at around $1.8 million per. Valero Energy stands out at $7.6 million per. At $23 million per, the US intelligence community has been doing three times better than Valero. Hats off! This makes the US intelligence community by far the best, most efficient collapse driver imaginable.

There are two possible hypotheses for why this is so.

First, we might venture to guess that these 200,000 people are grossly incompetent and that the fiascos they precipitate are accidental. But it is hard to imagine a situation where grossly incompetent people nevertheless manage to funnel $23 million apiece, on average, toward an assortment of futile undertakings of their choosing. It is even harder to imagine that such incompetents would be allowed to blunder along decade after decade without being called out for their mistakes.

Another hypothesis, and a far more plausible one, is that the US intelligence community has been doing a wonderful job of bankrupting the country and driving it toward financial, economic and political collapse by forcing it to engage in an endless series of expensive and futile conflicts -- the largest single continuous act of grand larceny the world has ever known. How that can possibly be an intelligent thing to do to your own country, for any conceivable definition of "intelligence," I will leave for you to work out for yourself. While you are at it, you might also want to come up with an improved definition of "treason": something better than "a skeptical attitude toward preposterous, unproven claims made by those known to be perpetual liars."

[Aug 13, 2018] Corporate Capitalists Killed American Identity by David Masciotra

Notable quotes:
"... In 2004, the historian Walter McDougall concluded that as early as the Civil War, America was a "nation of hustlers." During Reconstruction, Walt Whitman wrote that "genuine belief" seemed to have left America. "The underlying principles of the States," Whitman said, "are not honestly believed in, nor is humanity itself believed in." ..."
"... Accumulation of capital is the dominant, even definitional, American idea, which is why Calvin Coolidge famously remarked, "The chief business of the American people is business." ..."
"... Christopher Lasch had a slightly more prosaic way of measuring the pain of progress. "The triumph of corporate capitalism," he wrote, "has created a society characterized by a high degree of uniformity, which nevertheless lacks the cohesiveness and sense of shared experience that distinguish a truly integrated community from an atomistic society." ..."
"... Rather than a "marketplace of ideas," the United States is a mere marketplace, and just like at any store in the shopping mall, whatever fails to sell is removed from the shelves. Today's trend is tomorrow's garbage. ..."
"... We focus on immigration because it is a clear threat to the American tradition with clear and obvious solutions. ..."
"... While I appreciate that the writer is trying to link immigration with big business and culture, the argument as a whole doesn't come together. He needs to define what he means by "corporate capitalism," "identity," and "culture"; otherwise, this is nothing more than a incoherent rant. Is he talking about popular entertainment, the arts, academic institutions, civil society, religion? How exactly is the existence of a Walmart or the popularity of smartphones to blame? Quoting Walt Whitman and Calvin Coolidge doesn't really get us anywhere. ..."
"... Yes of course a commercial culture is prosperous, dynamic, cosmopolitan, rootless, greedy, materialistic, cynical, plebian and vulgar. And yes, of course in a market-dominated culture, all other systems of indoctrination (i.e. church and state) are constantly on the defensive. ..."
"... That is not 'no' culture; it is a highly distinctive culture. It tends to neglect the high arts and excel at the low arts; it favors novelty over tradition, spectacle over reflection, passion over balance. Again, 'twas ever thus; as is the inevitable cooling of these innovations to new formalisms for the next generation to rebel against, and enrich. ..."
Aug 10, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Donald Trump, during a recent stop on his "Anarchy in the UK" tour, argued that the mass influx of immigrants into Europe is causing Great Britain and other nations to "lose their culture." The fear of cultural dilution and transformation as a consequence of shifting demographics is widespread, and it resonates in the United States, too, especially among those who support the current president.

Stephen Bannon, Tucker Carlson, and other popular right-wing figures have warned of threats to national identity in an American context, contending that Mexicans will not assimilate and that Islam is incompatible with liberal democracy and secular governance. Liberals and libertarians often respond by recalling the long tradition of assimilation in American history, along with the outrage that often accompanies new arrivals. Nearly every ethnic group, from the Italians to the Chinese, has been the target of political and social hostility. It is an old story, but one worth telling, and it is an old debate, but one worth having. Border sovereignty, even to someone like me who probably favors more liberal immigration laws than most TAC readers, is a legitimate issue and not to be easily dismissed.

The current conversation about traditionalism, national identity, and cultural preservation, however, is so narrow to render it counterproductive and oblivious. For those truly worried about the conservation of traditional culture, to focus solely, or even primarily, on immigration is the equivalent of a gunshot victim rushing to the barber for a haircut.

Rather than asking whether American culture is at risk of ruination, it is more salient to inquire, after decades of commercialization, Madison Avenue advertising onslaughts, the erasure of regional differences, and the "Bowling Alone" collapse of community, whether America even has a culture.

Some Conservatives Have Been Against Capitalism for Centuries Blame Regulation, Not Capitalism

In 2004, the historian Walter McDougall concluded that as early as the Civil War, America was a "nation of hustlers." During Reconstruction, Walt Whitman wrote that "genuine belief" seemed to have left America. "The underlying principles of the States," Whitman said, "are not honestly believed in, nor is humanity itself believed in."

Prophesizing with his pen that democratic structures and procedures would prove insufficient to cultivate a truly democratic culture, Whitman likened the American obsession with commercial conquest and pecuniary gain to a "magician's serpent that ate up all the other serpents." Americans, Whitman warned, were dedicating themselves to creating a "thoroughly-appointed body with no soul."

When Whitman wrote the essay in question -- "Democratic Vistas" -- the United States had open borders and immigrants freely entered the "new world" for reasons of freedom and financial ambition. Even if they attended churches in their native languages and lived in ethnic enclaves, they often found that they could matriculate into the mainstream of Americana through pursuit of the "American dream," that is, hope for monetary triumph. Accumulation of capital is the dominant, even definitional, American idea, which is why Calvin Coolidge famously remarked, "The chief business of the American people is business."

Capitalism is a formidable engine, enabling society to advance and allowing for high standards of living. But to construct an entire culture around what Coolidge identified as "buying, selling, investing, and prospering," especially when capitalism becomes corporate and cronyist, is to steadily empty a culture of its meaning and purpose.

Few were as celebratory over the potential for meaning and purpose in American culture as Whitman, who drew profound inspiration from America's natural beauty and regional diversity. So what force was most responsible for the widespread desecration of America's own Garden of Eden? All arguments about immigration aside, changing demographics did not transform the country into the planetary capital of asphalt and replace its rich terrain with the endless suburban sprawl of office complexes, strip malls, and parking lots. The reduction of the American character to a giant Walmart and the mutation of the American landscape, outside of metropolitan areas, to the same cloned big box stores and corporate chains is not a consequence of immigration.

The degradation of the American arts and the assault on history and civics in public school and even higher education curricula is not the result of immigrants flooding American streets. Amy Chua has argued quite the opposite when it comes to America's increasingly imbecilic and obscene pop culture. Many immigrant families try to keep their children away from the influence of reality television, the anti-intellectual reverence for celebrities, and the vigilant commercialization of every aspect of life.

The same cultural killer is responsible for all the assaults on American identity visible as daily routine, from environmental destruction to the endangerment of independent retailers and "mom and pop" shops. That culprit is corporate capitalism. It is a large entity that, like any killer, justifies its death toll with dogmatic claims of ideology. "Progress," everyone from the owner of the local diner to the out-of-work art teacher is told, has no room for you.

In his song "The West End," John Mellencamp gives an angry account of the disappearance of a small town:

For my whole life
I've lived down in the West End
But it sure has changed here
Since I was a kid
It's worse now
Look what progress did
Someone lined their pockets
I don't know who that is

Progress, as Mellencamp succinctly captures in song, often comes at someone else's expense, and translates to enrichment for the few who benefit.

Christopher Lasch had a slightly more prosaic way of measuring the pain of progress. "The triumph of corporate capitalism," he wrote, "has created a society characterized by a high degree of uniformity, which nevertheless lacks the cohesiveness and sense of shared experience that distinguish a truly integrated community from an atomistic society."

The irony Lasch describes is tragic. A culture of corporate capitalism demands conformity, and most people cooperate. But because its center is hollow, few people feel any sense of connection to each other, even as they parrot the same values. It is no wonder that most forms of rebellion in the United States are exhibitions of stylized individualism -- inspiring theater and often enlivening to observe, but politically fruitless.

Rather than a "marketplace of ideas," the United States is a mere marketplace, and just like at any store in the shopping mall, whatever fails to sell is removed from the shelves. Today's trend is tomorrow's garbage.

Those concerned about tradition and cultural longevity can lament immigration and condemn "open borders." But if they are serious about American identity, they should begin and end with the villainous corporate enterprise that has waged war on it since the late 19th century.

David Masciotra is the author of four books, including Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky) and Barack Obama: Invisible Man ( Eyewear Publishing).



Nelson August 9, 2018 at 10:36 pm

Whatever culture remains in this country can often be found in the places where people still maintain at least a symbolic link with their immigrant roots.
Whine Merchant , , August 9, 2018 at 11:55 pm
Many of the immigrants came to the dream of America believing the myth. That they could be anything hard work would bring them, regardless of rank or class of birth, title, family name, or religious prejudice. For the most part, this was sufficiently true that they prospered. They became "us". This [perhaps naive] belief in the dream made most of them, and their children, our most loyal and law-abiding citizens.

It was indeed the robber barons of the 19th century that pushed us down the path of self-destruction.

Fran Macadam , , August 10, 2018 at 12:33 am
I feel vindicated. Some years ago, Rod Dreher pilloried me for being obsessed with how destructive corporate capitalism had become to American culture, values and social cohesion. I think his epiphany came, when supposedly "conservative" big business turned out to be on the other side in the culture wars.
Ray Woodcock , , August 10, 2018 at 6:02 am
I hear you, Mr. Masciotra. I'm not especially fond of large for-profit corporations. But they wouldn't occupy monopolistic positions and enjoy rapacious profits and latitude for enormous misdeeds if the public were firmly opposed to that sort of thing. Americans generally love a winner, even if the "winning" is fraudulent or coerced, as long as they personally aren't coerced or defrauded. It's all about the money, or at least the belief that the money might come.
Crème fraiche , , August 10, 2018 at 8:09 am
Thank you for this refreshing piece which points the finger to a place where those on the left and right can actually make a difference. Of course, making any changes will require dismantling some the mythology of the American prosperity gospel, but it starts with great articles like these.

The system didn't become corrupt in the 80s, it's been that way for much longer. And there have been hustlers and " well meaning " Corporate yes men making dishonest money off of their compatriots for centuries (everywhere, I might add).

So the question is, do we want to continue to encourage this behavior or do we dare to dream of another reality ?

GaryH , , August 10, 2018 at 8:39 am
Oh so true. America's super rich are the enemy, a much worse one than a naive socialist like Bernie Sanders.
connecticut farmer , , August 10, 2018 at 9:05 am
Well crafted and thoughtful. Years ago, Walker Percy observed that America was unique among nations in that it was simultaneously the most religious country and the most materialistic country in the world. Fast forward to 2018 and while religion appears to be in decline "getting and spending" continues apace.
Youknowho , , August 10, 2018 at 9:17 am
SOCIALISM DOES NOT WORK!

WHAT ARE YOU, SOME KIND OF COMMUNIST?

THE FREE MARKET WILL SOLVE IT!

There, I put in the Libertarain response so there is no need to read all the posts they all will say the same thing.

How dare you attack the sacred cow of Capitalism, sir?

joshua , , August 10, 2018 at 9:25 am
Agreed but lets be honest with ourselves. We have to go where the kindling is dry and abundant to start a proverbial fire. America does have a culture. To see that all one need do is visit Nashville, the Ozarks or farm country in nebraska. Where there are still people the culture survives. That is a stoical dispensation. The culture does go back to Hellenism but Americana does have it's own ways. Go visit Europe for any amount of time or dare I say it Asia and American culture becomes obvious.

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday that, in my opinion, best represents American culture and how it is different from all else.

collin , , August 10, 2018 at 9:47 am
Corporate Capitalism has always been American culture and life. Basic Taylorism on the assembly line was over 100 years in which men spent 50 -- 60 hours a week performing a single task very quickly.

What is American art? Would we consider Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley great American art and music? I do but the original reaction of older Americans was 1950s R&R was complete degradation of music. (Some of the racial language was very colorful by good citizens.) Or what Star Wars or Godfather. Or maybe the modern Marvel 'universe' has a degree of great pop art.

Jon , , August 10, 2018 at 10:02 am
Certainly well argued but for one important element that has been omitted; one ingredient which bundles everything together into one integrated picture. That necessary item can be summed with these two words, "buy in." Corporate capitalism would never hold sway except for the acquiescence of the populace which wanting the quantity of commodities had gathered in the shopping malls but now remain isolated in the front of their computer screens or cell phones.

Rather than there being the tyranny of the marketplace bringing forth this dominance of goods over people and the legerdemain of monetized value displacing our organic relationship to the land, it is this anonymous accommodation to the denigration of the high arts and the erosion to our culture which is the ultimate culprit.

In a word, it is the tyranny of the masses which pulls apart any endeavor at creating and sustaining a hierarchy of value rewarding all enterprise which appeases public taste by appealing to the lowest common denominator. Fore it is through this tyranny that capitalism has built its avaricious edifice.

Suffice it to say that the target "corporate capitalism" remains the straw man, that ethereal and empty concept devoid of blood and sinews. Where then does one find the source to this dilemma but in that which is of both flesh and blood namely humanity. The problem lies with the populace.

What is called for here is an awakening but not through a reckoning as that would only cause humanity to roll over and return to its slumber. And if crisis and collapse serves not the catalyst for such an awakening what then will provide such an arousal? Until such a time, we remain asleep and the institutions of our dream life will rule us.

Corporate capitalism is not the source. It is not even at the source. We are the source until such a time as we awaken.

Joe the Plutocrat , , August 10, 2018 at 10:06 am
excellent points. oh, and ironically (or not), from the Middle Ages (Europe) through the 19th century (American West), it was not uncommon for a barber to also perform ad hoc surgery/medical procedures, or to share space with the town's 'doctor', so in some instances it was prudent to go to the barbershop if shot
Winston , , August 10, 2018 at 10:22 am
"Liberals and libertarians often respond by recalling the long tradition of assimilation in American history, along with the outrage that often accompanies new arrivals."

Apples and oranges. The welfare state didn't exist then, so it was assimilate or fail. 1/3 of all culturally similar to existing US culture Europeans returned to Europe.

Today, "Press 2 for Spanish", the welfare state (give birth on US soil to a US citizen for family access to benefits [or steal an ID], then chain migrate the rest of your family), the Internet, and identity politics discourage assimilation and allow extremely large cultural enclaves which are politically divisive as pointed out MANY years ago by the not exactly "right wing" former WH press secretary for LBJ, Bill Moyers, in one of his many excellent documentaries.

William Taylor , , August 10, 2018 at 11:02 am
interesting to see how this challenging article agrees with Chris Hedges in the radical left "Truthdig."
Tony Soprano , , August 10, 2018 at 11:17 am
We focus on immigration because it is a clear threat to the American tradition with clear and obvious solutions. The author paints this focus of the Trumpian and dissident right as exclusionary, but it is not; at the same time arguing for his own exclusionary anti-capitalist platform. Quite frankly, I don't know what it's doing on TAC, but I will take the time to respond.

The criticism of anti-immigration on the right is a straw man argument. The dissident right is not merely anti-immigration, it is more broadly anti-multiracialist. Many understand and agree with the author on the problems of capitalism, but also see racial and cultural integration as an additional threat to the American tradition. His point about how the immigration (into America) didn't cause the hellspace of suburbia is true, since only up until 1965 did we make sure immigrants were white and could integrate well into society. However, he ignores the history of black empancipation and subsequent desegregation that led to massive internal migration from the South into cities like Detroit, Chicago, and Baltimore. There weren't always majority black, my friend. The very real problems that this internal migration presented to ethnically homogenous, culturally rich, urban white neighborhoods in the 20th century were the driving force behind the suburban sprawl. We colloquially refer to this phenomenon as "white flight," and many on the left and the right see it as unjustified "racism."

The curious reader would do well to investigate this claim to see if maybe white flight might have actually been very justified, maybe a gross historical injustice was done to those now ethnically cleansed communities, and maybe racial desegregation is partly to blame for the author's perceived lack of (white) culture in America.
Thank you for reading.

Tyro , , August 10, 2018 at 11:35 am
"Capitalism" is cronyist by nature. "Capitalism" itself requires an extensive set of laws that benefit some economic arrangements over others. Now the reason for this is because nations need development, and that means they need capital, and that means they need to create laws that ensure that the people who have capital feel willing and confident enough to invest it in that country.

But once you've opened the pandora's box of bankruptcy laws, limit liability, and other "terms and conditions" of investment and capital, you're going to have a system that lends itself to cronyism when you have no other counter-balancing power from labor.

Ken Zaretzke , , August 10, 2018 at 11:45 am
My brilliant iPad just deleted my response. So, quickly, capitalism is partly curable by antitrust and protectionism, but proto-amnesty mass immigration is not curable, and it more quickly distorts national identity than does capitalism, which takes a very long time to alter society's frame. Mass immigration does that relatively quickly. Also, immigration has as many rackets as capitalism does -- for the one, capital gains tax cuts, and for the other, H1-B visas.
Tyro , , August 10, 2018 at 12:40 pm
only up until 1965 did we make sure immigrants were white and could integrate well into society

The immigration act of 1924 which choked off most immigration was about reducing white immigration. It didn't actually affect Mexican immigration. The largest beneficiaries the post-1965 immigration laws have been Asian immigrants who everyone argues integrate perfectly well.

ethnically homogenous, culturally rich, urban white neighborhoods

Any of the residents of those neighborhoods in Chicago would have been quick to deny they were "ethnically homogeneous" because they would have pointed out how they were mixed neighborhoods of Greeks, Poles, Slovenes, etc.

TJ Martin , , August 10, 2018 at 1:06 pm
Its about time someone on this site placed at least 50% of the blame when it comes to demise of the American Middle Class as well as ' culture ' -- ( such as it is seeing we have no well defined codified ' culture ' because we are and have been since the beginning so diverse ) -- on the American Corpocracy .

But the fact is the other 50% of the blame must fall firmly upon the shoulders of the greedy speculators and investors convinced every year should be a profitable year and they should of received next year's profits yesterday

Along with the American Consumer addicted to cheap goods 60% of which they have no need for nor ever use .

So what is the answer ? First we need to move towards a Responsible Capitalism rather than the Ayn Rand addled narcissist Hyper- Capitalism rapidly approaching Anarcho -- Capitalism we're currently immersed in from the Oval Office on down

Second the American Consumer needs to accept paying what something is worth .. be it service , goods or food .. rather than thinking the entire world is a discounted oyster at their beck and call

And Third .. with the onus once again falling firmly upon the shoulders of the discount addled American consumer . We need to get over the theater of convenience shopping ( online ) and get back to supporting local businesses who pay taxes to our local community and are in fact our neighbors

Problem is all of the above solutions require both compromise , authentic thought as well as discernment

None of which ( for the most part ) currently exists in this over polarized ' Collective Stupidity of America ' zeitgeist we're firmly entrenched in

Lecture over . Donuts , bagels and coffee in the virtual break room .

Cynthia McLean , , August 10, 2018 at 1:49 pm
English colonials brought to the American continent both English Law -- based on private property -- which has turned into Corporate Market Capitalism (Citizens United, eh?), and the Enlightenment idea of the centrality of Individual Freedom, which has turned into the rank Individualism of our current Me-Myself-and-I cultural ethos.

Democracy and a healthy culture, in my view, depend upon holding in balance the needs/desires/rights of both the Individual and the broader Common Good. There now seems to be little left of a Social Covenant that includes all Americans, which is central to a viable culture.

Great article, thank you.

BradD , , August 10, 2018 at 2:29 pm
I'll say this when it comes it integration: people in the past weren't forced to integrate in the least. A friend of mine has a grandmother that speaks Russian, only Russian, and no English. As long as she remained in her little enclave in the US, why need to speak English? In my native Cincinnati the "Over the Rhine" neighborhood had beer gardens, German schools, German newspapers, and German street signs. Only a fire and I am sure some Progressive 'encouragement' broke the neighborhood up.

White in America use to mean Anglo-Saxon and Protestant. To be Wet was to be Catholic and to be Catholic was to be an immigrant. Dry was honest, hard working, and true. Wet was disorderly, murderous, and poor. Irish weren't white, Poles weren't white, and the Italians most certainly weren't white.

My question is why are we poo pooing Latina values? Family centric, conservative, Catholic/Christian, and hard working (come on, either immigrants are stealing our jobs or they are welfare leeches, pick one!). Their food is delicious and the music is fun.

The latina vote should be the Republican vote if they would just get over themselves. Spanish is just as much a Romance language as French or Italian. Get with the program, declare them white, and let's enjoy a super majority with taco Tuesday.

KDM , , August 10, 2018 at 3:42 pm
@BradD
Nothing is necessarily wrong with "Latin" values per se . The problem is with massive amounts of Illigeal immigration coming all from one area. I'm sorry but integration and assimilation is extremely important, just look at Europe for an idea of what happens to countries that don't integrate immigrants well.

Also, if "Latin" values are great and desirable then why would such a massive amount of people be bum rushing our southern borders?

Can you please tell me one example of a country in Latin America that has been successful for an extended period of time? I cannot even think of one. When people come in small waves they can integrate and learn the value of our institutions, laws, freedom, liberty ect They basically become American w/ Latin heritage. When they come en mass, they keep their societies values a lot longer and stay in enclaves a lot longer as well. As an example not too long ago I was in the southern part of Houston Texas and the Galveston area and I cannot tell you the number of cars, houses and business that have the Mexican flag up instead of the USA flag! That is all kinds of wrong to me. If Mexico is so great, than they should just move on back and set up shop there.

LT , , August 10, 2018 at 6:50 pm
Ding, ding, ding
We have a winner here. America is promoted as merchant culture, bread or bombs. The peoole termed colonists were largely corporate sponsored. So when people continue to arrive, they figure starting their store or buying the "right" things is American culture. And for everything else, they just say, "We have our own, thank you."
Auguste Meyrat , , August 10, 2018 at 9:39 pm
While I appreciate that the writer is trying to link immigration with big business and culture, the argument as a whole doesn't come together. He needs to define what he means by "corporate capitalism," "identity," and "culture"; otherwise, this is nothing more than a incoherent rant. Is he talking about popular entertainment, the arts, academic institutions, civil society, religion? How exactly is the existence of a Walmart or the popularity of smartphones to blame? Quoting Walt Whitman and Calvin Coolidge doesn't really get us anywhere.

I would be happy to defend free enterprise in America and would even credit the business and marketing practices in America for inculcating customer service as a uniquely American trait. You can tell you're in America when people act politely and aim to serve you -- even illiterate young people know this. Go to any country in Europe, and you'll find a whole staff of people from the airport, to the stores, to the hotel frowning at you for having the nerve to have want of their services. And that's just a side benefit. The main thing business does is finance the creation of culture at all levels. Any civilization's golden age followed from societal prosperity, not from a more democratic and tasteful distribution of wealth.

If we're talking about the arts and influence, America is still the most dynamic in the world, being a great producer of movies, music, books, and all the rest. Even the existence of a site like TAC should cause one to reflect on just how nice it is to live in a country that permits open discourse and values quality writing and ideas -- and for no cost at all to the reader. We can despair all we like of the decline of the Oscars, or the stupidity of modern art, or the pointlessness of postmodernist ideology, but it says something that we can even have this conversation. I'm not sure other cultures, outside those in elite circles, even think about this stuff.

mike , , August 10, 2018 at 9:55 pm
Yes! Intentionally generalising: Big, remote, powerful things are ALWAYS evil. Small, local, law-governed communities are always good.
Thomas Hobbes , , August 11, 2018 at 12:44 am
Wow, something Fran Macadam and I agree on! Surely there is enough there for some bright politician to make a central platform plank out of?

A number of commenters point out that this isn't just imposed on us, we also embrace it (or just succumbed to the propaganda/advertising). Fixing the problem will require efforts to curb corporate power as well cultural change from the ground up to embrace real values beyond just capitalism.

JonF , , August 11, 2018 at 8:11 am
Re: We need to get over the theater of convenience shopping ( online ) and get back to supporting local businesses

Sure, if local businesses carry the stuff I'm looking for. All too often you have to go online to find anything that is not a mass appeal staple.

JonF , , August 11, 2018 at 8:17 am
Re: Today, "Press 2 for Spanish", the welfare state (give birth on US soil to a US citizen for family access to benefits [or steal an ID], then chain migrate the rest of your family), the Internet, and identity politics discourage assimilation

The evidence, notably from language learning, shows that today's immigrants assimilate at about the same rate others did in the past. And yes, you could hear other languages in the US in the past also. There were places in Detroit I remember in childhood where all the signs were in Polish. Going farther back 19th century nativists were horrified that entire communities in the Midwest spoke German. Early on, our eighth president, Martin Van Buren, grew up speaking Dutch in the Hudson Valley.

As for the welfare state, well, there were lots of mutual aid societies which provided help -- we were not a social Darwinist nation. And don't forget the Civil War pensions to which a significant fraction of the population was entitled.

Kurt Gayle , , August 11, 2018 at 8:55 am
Mr. Mascriota tells us: "Border sovereignty, even to someone like me who probably favors more liberal immigration laws than most TAC readers, is a legitimate issue and not to be easily dismissed."

And yet, Mr. Mascriotra, last Sept 9th (2017) at "Salon" you wrote an article entitled "The case for open borders: Stop defending DACA recipients while condemning the 'sins' of their parents":

"As an English instructor and tutor, I've met young men and women from Ethiopia, China and Nigeria, and I have taught students whose parents emigrated from Mexico to the United States 'illegally.' If I were an insecure coward afraid to compete in a multicultural society, and convinced my future children would become deadbeats without the full force of white privilege to catapult them into success, I would advocate for the deportation of immigrant families similar to those of my students, and I would repeat mindless bromides like 'America First' and 'Build that Wall.' One of the costs of racism, xenophobia, or any form of pathetic provincialism is that freezes the prejudicial person in a permanent state of mediocrity President Donald Trump's decision to end DACA, and his demand that Congress 'fix the' nonexistent 'immigration problem,' demonstrates a stunning streak of sadism, projecting yet another signal to his rabid and anti-American base of closed-minded losers If the 'real Americans' are afraid to compete with immigrants for jobs, prestige, or cultural authority, they only indict themselves as weak, self-entitled and easy to panic. In a word, 'snowflakes'. A bureaucratic permission slip is trivial compared to the imperative of human freedom -- freedom that should transcend what are largely artificial borders."

https://www.salon.com/2017/09/09/the-case-for-open-borders-stop-defending-daca-recipients-while-condemning-the-sins-of-their-parents/

Hibernian , , August 11, 2018 at 11:51 am
@Mr. Soprano: I think Baltimore was a special case as a Southern city (which it historically was up to maybe WW1, maybe WW2.) Don't know its demographics pre-WW2 but I'd bet dollars to donuts it was substantially more black pre-WW1 than Chicago, which was nearly all white up to about 1915 even though it was founded by a Francophone Black man Jean Baptiste Pont du Sable.
johnhenry , , August 11, 2018 at 1:14 pm
David Masciotra: Not sure what I think about the ironmongery in your left ear, but this piece is excellent. My only criticism -- mild at that -- concerns the analogy in your third paragraph:

" to focus [our worries] on immigration is the equivalent of a gunshot victim rushing to the barber for a haircut."

DOA. Sorry.

paradoctor , , August 11, 2018 at 1:46 pm
This article is timely, but only because its complaints are perennial. 'Twas ever thus.

Yes of course a commercial culture is prosperous, dynamic, cosmopolitan, rootless, greedy, materialistic, cynical, plebian and vulgar. And yes, of course in a market-dominated culture, all other systems of indoctrination (i.e. church and state) are constantly on the defensive.

That is not 'no' culture; it is a highly distinctive culture. It tends to neglect the high arts and excel at the low arts; it favors novelty over tradition, spectacle over reflection, passion over balance. Again, 'twas ever thus; as is the inevitable cooling of these innovations to new formalisms for the next generation to rebel against, and enrich.

A similar cycle applies to demographics. Today's scary outsider becomes tomorrow's stodgy insider, after they buy their way in. I therefore second BradD's motion to declare Hispanics to be white; and Asians too.

All those disturbed by demographic transitions should contemplate this truism: that by the middle of next century every man, woman and child now alive shall be dead, and replaced by people not born yet.

This includes you, which makes it personal. What a way to run a world! But if you can put up with 100% population turnover by 2150, then language and skin tint seems (to me at least) a trivial detail.

***

Self-critique: The preceding analysis has a flaw, namely that this is not simply a 'commercial' culture; it is a 'capitalistic' culture, which is the least free form of commercial culture.

Siarlys Jenkins , , August 11, 2018 at 4:48 pm
Wow, something Fran Macadam and I agree on! Surely there is enough there for some bright politician to make a central platform plank out of?

Right! And I agree with Fran AND Thomas Hobbes!

Thrice A Viking , , August 11, 2018 at 5:46 pm
So, what should replace corporate capitalism -- socialism, distributism, non-corporate capitalism, what?
Tyro , , August 11, 2018 at 6:20 pm
Go to any country in Europe, and you'll find a whole staff of people from the airport, to the stores, to the hotel frowning at you for having the nerve to have want of their services.

Americans, in my experience, mistake lack of slavish over-friendliness as rudeness. I have realized this because I am a fairly reserved kind of person, and "reserved" gets coded as "aloof" or "snobbish."

European retail still follows the "sole proprietor" model of service -- it's assumed that by shopping there you're effectively entering someone else's home, and you must act accordingly. In the US, lacking a formal class system, the retail experience is one coded towards allowing the customer to feel as though he is a noble with servants to attend on him that he can order around. The store is selling that experience.

Related to this is why middle class and upper middle Americans are so upset by the DMV and the Post Office. It's the only place where money does not buy them any better service, and they cannot use the threat of talking to the manager to have the service personnel fired in order to get what they want.

America's customer service culture is probably one of our most culturally dysfunctional aspects, all rooted in middle class insecurity.

Renoaldo , , August 12, 2018 at 1:12 am
If this were actually, a Conservative website, that valued Western ideals? Do you really believe such excuses or something outside of myself like the "devil made me do it" will pass mustard with "God" or "St. Peter?"
Paul , , August 12, 2018 at 4:40 am
I strongly endorse Jon's (much earlier comment). It is not corporations that ruin culture but we who demand what they give. Corporations are just a convenient funding vehicle to produce goods. Yes they often mass market them. But it is we who like the marketing. If we were appalled, or turned away and it ignored it, they would change. In the end, when the spiritual life is subordinate to the material, our appetites and the corporations that serve them are a guaranteed outcome.
M. Orban , , August 12, 2018 at 12:31 pm
late to this thread but what is American identity? How is it different from let's say a Danish identity? I have a good number of coworkers from other countries: Asians, South Americans, some Germans or Swedes. When I visit them, do you think I find their homes, their families (or their priorities for that matter) different from that of born-here American? If so, I must have missed it
Ricardo , , August 12, 2018 at 4:40 pm
Auguste Mayrat hit the nail on the head. This article is garbage. It's sad that so many commentators agree with it. America is full of culture: pro and college sports, movies, TV shows, technology, books, music of all kinds all consumed throughout the world, as people from all countries love and admire American culture. Find a country that produces more culture than America. You can't. Churches and schools proliferate here. What's so bad about corporations? If you own an iPhone or a television or a car or shop at the mall, or ride a plane or go on a cruise, you're a hypocrite to be against corporations. Corporations provide goods and services that people want, not to mention jobs. The author of this piece is an intellectual lightweight, and those who agree with his views are the type of blind sheep that communists find useful. The author neither specified what's bad about corporations, nor provides any solutions. Can believe TAC publishes such drivel.

[Aug 11, 2018] Major color revolutions sponsor is in decline, but still show his teeth and his methods did not become less dangerius for Eastern Europe, xUSSR space and developing countries

It is not only George Soros is losing. Neoliberalism is losing some of its fights too, despite recent revenge in sev eral Latin American countries. Deep state was always an alliance of Wall Street sharks with intelligence agencies and Soros is a true representative of this breed. He is connected and acted in sync with them in xUSSR space. In this sense he can be viewed as a part of Harvard Mafia which economically raped Russia in 1990th...
Malaysia's prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, correctly called Soros and other speculators "unscrupulous profiteers" whose immoral work served no social value. That actually aptly characterize all members of Harvard mafia not just George Soros.
BTW, if Victoria Nuland (of EuroMaydan putch fame) praises a particular person, you can be sure that his person serves US imperial interests...
Notable quotes:
"... ...In the 1990s, he was portrayed by the far left as an agent of American imperialism, helping to foist the so-called neoliberal agenda (mass privatization, for example) on Eastern Europe. For some critics, Soros's Wall Street background has always been a mark against him. ..."
"... In one campaign rally in Budapest, Orban referred to Soros as "Uncle George," telling tens of thousands of supporters that "we are fighting an enemy that is different from us. Not open but hiding; not straightforward but crafty; not honest but base; not national but international; does not believe in working but speculates with money; does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the world." ..."
"... I always thought George Soros was a dangerous [neo]liberal but after reading this article and seeing the damage he has created around the world it has been confirmed. ..."
"... Mr. Soros fights for all the [neo]liberal causes no matter the consequences. ..."
"... I am glad that the conservatives and others are finally seeing his true colors and are trying to subdue him the best they can. He must be called out on this negative behavior before it is too late. It is reassuring that many of the European nations are implementing policies that are favorable to their countries and looking out for their people. Europeans must be protected and George Soros stopped. I am glad they see him for what he truly is which is frightening. ..."
"... As Mr. Soros said of himself, "I am a confirmed egoist." He has used his money to make the world as he thinks is best. But having money does not give you a better moral view of how the world should be governed nor make you a god to decide for the rest of us. ..."
"... I think this kind of undue influence (money in politics) is what is driving some of the back-lash against [neo]liberal democracy. So many of the "[neo]liberal" proponents of an open society, like George Soros and Bill Gates, seem to have an inordinate power to effect political outcomes because of their money. ..."
"... Soros is an enemy of the middle and working classes in America. ..."
"... Now, more than ever, American politics is defined by money, so it's important to understand how it is used in that context by those who have it. ..."
"... What about the devastating effects that free trade and globalization have had on the spread of inequality throughout the world... Huge corporations consistently use "free trade" or globalization as an excuse to offer the lowest possible wages, and move manufacturing to places with the least environmental protections and human rights. ..."
"... Soros didn't bet on Democracy, he bet on his version of it which he tried to buy through individual politicians on the take and the Democratic Party. Better he quit manipulating pols and gave his money to charity. ..."
"... Soros is a criminal by any other name. He hedged against the UK Pound 20 years ago, and earned $1B. He earned billions by manipulating the market. With his profits he wanted to create his own society where his money could be used to buy politicians and pass legislation according to his one man agenda. He's selfish, an egomaniac, and dangerous. ..."
"... George Soros is the epitome of corruption – penetration and distortion of political process by obscene wealth. It does not matter what his true intentions are – he can say whatever he wants but we will never know for sure. And stop calling that "philanthropy". ..."
"... What Soros is doing is imposing his personal political beliefs and ideas on everybody by buying political influence with his money - that is called "corruption" pure and simple. ..."
"... What he does is not democracy promotion - it is the exact opposite – democracy destruction. It is good to know that he is failing in that effort. ..."
"... Neoliberalism has failed to improve democratic governance and reduced distribution of wealth ..."
"... What pharaonic globalist plutocrats like him mean by "Liberal Democracy" encompasses a sinister set of objectives. Prominent among which are these two: ..."
"... Full support for neocon/neoliberal destabilization, confrontation, and military interventionism. ..."
"... The destruction of borders, nations, and cultures -- particularly Western Culture here and in Europe. ..."
"... Soros and his peers want unhindered unlimited access to cheap Third World labor as well as to have complete control over the entire global economy. To his class nationalism and culture are speed bumps on the way to those self-serving goals. ..."
Aug 11, 2018 | www.nytimes.com

Yet the political realm is where Soros has made his most audacious wager. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1989, he poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the former Soviet-bloc countries to promote civil society and [neo]liberal democracy. It was a one-man Marshall Plan for Eastern Europe, a private initiative without historical precedent. It was also a gamble that a part of the world that had mostly known tyranny would embrace ideas like government accountability and ethnic tolerance. In London in the 1950s, Soros was a student of the expatriated Austrian philosopher Karl Popper, who championed the notion of an "open society," in which individual liberty, pluralism and free inquiry prevailed. Popper's concept became Soros's cause.

... ... ...

...In the 1990s, he was portrayed by the far left as an agent of American imperialism, helping to foist the so-called neoliberal agenda (mass privatization, for example) on Eastern Europe. For some critics, Soros's Wall Street background has always been a mark against him.

Last autumn, he signaled that same sense of defiance when he announced that he was in the process of transferring the bulk of his remaining wealth, $18 billion in total at the time, to the O.S.F. That will potentially make it the second-largest philanthropic organization in the United States, in assets, after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is already a sprawling entity, with some 1,800 employees in 35 countries, a global advisory board, eight regional boards and 17 issue-oriented boards. Its annual budget of around $1 billion finances projects in education, public health, independent media, immigration and criminal-justice reform and other areas

... ... ...

He decided that his goal would be opening closed societies. He created a philanthropic organization, then called the Open Society Fund, in 1979 and began sponsoring college scholarships for black South African students. But he soon turned his attention to Eastern Europe, where he started financing dissident groups. He funneled money to the Solidarity strikers in Poland in 1981 and to Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia. In one especially ingenious move, he sent hundreds of Xerox copiers to Hungary to make it easier for underground publications to disseminate their newsletters. In the late 1980s, he provided dozens of Eastern European students with scholarships to study in the West, with the aim of fostering a generation of [neo]liberal democratic leaders. One of those students was Viktor Orban, who studied civil society at Oxford. From his Manhattan trading desk, Soros became a strange sort of expat anticommunist revolutionary.

... ... ...

In one campaign rally in Budapest, Orban referred to Soros as "Uncle George," telling tens of thousands of supporters that "we are fighting an enemy that is different from us. Not open but hiding; not straightforward but crafty; not honest but base; not national but international; does not believe in working but speculates with money; does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the world." Along with the fiery speeches, there were the billboards, which featured a picture of a smiling Soros and the message, "Let's not let George Soros have the last laugh."

... ... ...

Orban's coalition won 49 percent of the vote, enough to give it a supermajority in Parliament. But the anti-Soros campaign didn't end with the election. Days after the vote, a magazine owned by a pro-Orban businesswoman published the names of more than 200 people in Hungary that it claimed were Soros "mercenaries."

... ... ...

There have been mistakes; by his own admission, Soros erred in championing Mikheil Saakashvili, the mercurial former president of Georgia, and also became too directly involved in the country's politics in the early 2000s. He clearly misjudged Orban. But as Victoria Nuland, a former American diplomat who worked for both Dick Cheney and Hillary Clinton, put it when I spoke to her recently, "George is a freedom fighter."


alexander hamilton new york July 17

"Billionaire philanthropist?" Really? Does that make the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelstein "philanthropists" too, or does that label apply only to left-leaning individuals seeking political leverage many times that of the average citizen?

One citizen, 1 vote. ALL citizens should be limited to $100 contributions for their senators, representatives and the President. NO citizen should be able to contribute to a campaign in a state where he/she is not a full-time permanent resident.

And NO citizen should be able to contribute more than $100 to his/her own campaign. We don't need more Kennedys, Clintons, Bloombergs, Trumps, Perots or Forbes buying (or trying to buy) their way into public office, using their millions.

Of the people, by the people, for the people. That's the model, folks. Depart from it at your peril.

Conservative Democrat WV July 17

For a man that purportedly promotes democracy, Mr. Soros conveniently overlooked public opinion when it came to promoting open borders.

In its essence, democracy is all about the wisdom and will of those governed, and not about what a billionaire thinks is best for them.

Maqroll North Florida July 17 Times Pick

Soros--a "European at heart." Must have brought some much-needed smiles to the UK following the recent Trump Tour of Destruction. How soon we forget--in the 90s, Soros broke the pound as the Brits were trying to unify European currencies--with unfortunate conditions that weakened the effort and Soros smartly exploited.

Who can blame a globalist from crashing a poorly devised govt scheme and walking away with a cool $1B--back when a billion dollars was a lot of money? I am not the person to say whether Soros may qualify as an honest proponent of democracy, but I strongly suspect that he is a poster boy of the ultra-nationalists as they battle globalization.

In a way, Soros epitomizes the failure of globalization, which may or may not benefit the classic, labor-intensive industries of manufacturing, agriculture, construction, and mining, but always benefits, sometimes wildly, the financial "industry."

As far as I'm concerned, Soros is merely making reparations. And, sorry to say, George, it's prob too little, too late.

WPLMMT New York City July 17 Times Pick

I always thought George Soros was a dangerous [neo]liberal but after reading this article and seeing the damage he has created around the world it has been confirmed. Nigel Farage, the British politician, recently said on television that Mr. Soros is out to destroy the world. It certainly appears to be the case when you see what he did to the British and Thai economies. He was so concerned with helping immigrants and refugees that he had little regard for the citizens that actually lived in those countries that are being affected. People lost their livelihoods but that did not matter to him.

Mr. Soros fights for all the [neo]liberal causes no matter the consequences. He ... does not care who he hurts as long as he promotes his progressive agenda. He wants to allow as many immigrants to enter a nation as possible even if it adversely affects that country while he lives in luxury and is not inconvenienced by this invasion. He has billions and will probably never be touched by massive immigration.

I am glad that the conservatives and others are finally seeing his true colors and are trying to subdue him the best they can. He must be called out on this negative behavior before it is too late. It is reassuring that many of the European nations are implementing policies that are favorable to their countries and looking out for their people. Europeans must be protected and George Soros stopped. I am glad they see him for what he truly is which is frightening.

gpickard Luxembourg July 17 Times Pick

As Mr. Soros said of himself, "I am a confirmed egoist." He has used his money to make the world as he thinks is best. But having money does not give you a better moral view of how the world should be governed nor make you a god to decide for the rest of us.

I think this kind of undue influence (money in politics) is what is driving some of the back-lash against [neo]liberal democracy. So many of the "[neo]liberal" proponents of an open society, like George Soros and Bill Gates, seem to have an inordinate power to effect political outcomes because of their money.

The making of such huge amounts of money is not done with any charitable purpose. Only later, does charity come to mind.

c smith Pittsburgh July 17

Soros is an enemy of the middle and working classes in America. Yes, a billion people around the world are better off because of the forces of "globalization" (this total most definitely includes Soros himself), but millions of Americans have suffered economically as a result. GATT, NAFTA and the entire alphabet soup of trade deals have lined the pockets of the globalists, while grinding the fortunes of U.S. working and middle class laborers into dust.

Karekin USA July 17

Great article. Now, more than ever, American politics is defined by money, so it's important to understand how it is used in that context by those who have it. At this juncture, I think the American people deserve to see an expose of all those millionaires and billionaires who have and continue to support Trump. It's only fair, to lay the money trail on the table, on all sides, for everyone to see.

Tim DC area July 17 Times Pick

What about the devastating effects that free trade and globalization have had on the spread of inequality throughout the world... Huge corporations consistently use "free trade" or globalization as an excuse to offer the lowest possible wages, and move manufacturing to places with the least environmental protections and human rights.

Immigration policies are also sometimes used in ways to suppress wages, and even more worse, enacted with very little thought given to assimilation. Most of the poorer areas, or ghettoes surrounding Paris for example are populated with huge numbers of Muslim immigrants that face extremely daunting odds of fully assimilating into French culture.

While the wealthier (sometimes elite [neo]liberals) Parisians almost certainly live in gated or posh neighborhoods with hardly any immigrants as their neighbors. Despite the generous financial support Soros (and some other elites) gives to human rights causes, he rarely outright discusses some of these problems associated with free trade, globalization and mass immigration. These seeming hypocrisies and inconsistencies then become much easier fodder for those of Orban's ilk to manipulate and ultimately consolidate power.

Samuel Spade Huntsville, al July 17

Soros didn't bet on Democracy, he bet on his version of it which he tried to buy through individual politicians on the take and the Democratic Party. Better he quit manipulating pols and gave his money to charity.

Ivory Tower Colorado July 17

First, Hungary is not xenophobic, they merely want to protect their culture. Second, George Soros wants plenty of wealth for him and his family, yet he wants those of us in the middle class to dive up our meager assets with the world's poorest. Third, his personal wealth has often been generated by destroying currencies and the middle class who owns those currencies. Fourth, he promotes open borders without consulting the citizenry of said borders as to their opinion regarding their own national sovereignty. Our world would be a much better place without George Soros.

Concerned EU Resident Germany July 17

Soros is a criminal by any other name. He hedged against the UK Pound 20 years ago, and earned $1B. He earned billions by manipulating the market. With his profits he wanted to create his own society where his money could be used to buy politicians and pass legislation according to his one man agenda. He's selfish, an egomaniac, and dangerous.

geezer117 Tennessee July 17

Soros employs his vast wealth to create the society he dreams of, regardless of what the rest of us want. When the democratic process veers away from his vision, he uses the power of his wealth to steer it back.

So he's just another wealthy and powerful elite trying to remake the world as he prefers it. Such arrogance!

Rose Philadelphia July 17

Sucking money out of the world's economies so that he can direct it as HE sees fit does not make a man great. Rather, I would argue that such actions contributed to the rise of both Brexiteers and Trumpsters.

If Soros really wants to contribute to society, he would lobby for financial industry reform - less favorable tax treatment for hedge funds (what value do they really provide to society) and a transaction tax on trades to reduce speculation. Then fight for minimum wage increases.

Jonas Seattle July 17

This is a horrifying interview and does not improve the image of George Soros. "My ideology is nonideological," he says while spending billions on politics, which he defines as "In politics, you are spinning the truth, not discovering it." He describes Obama as his greatest disappointment because Obama "closed the door on me," as in he expected Obama should work with him and take his advice. Soros uses his billions to fund politicians and meddle in elections... this is a man who enjoys influencing and manipulating politics and becomes frustrated when his efforts backfire or are not successful.

Peter Albany. NY July 17

This man is the absolute worst! His no borders policy has done more to hurt Europe then Russia ever could. The Soros gang has zero respect and tolerance for nation-state sovereignty and local governance. Talk about a global elite! He and his gang epitomize that arrogance.

Marian Maryland July 17

George Soros bet big on open borders,one world governance and destroying the working class through unfair trade agreements. Yes he appears to be losing. Thank God for small favors.

Al Nino Hyde Park NY July 17

It cracks me up to read these type of article in the NYT and then read another story in the NYT about how if you can pay the money you can have yourself a private waiting area in a major airport to separate yourself from the chaos of the masses in the public waiting areas. Maybe democracy wouldn't be in trouble around the world if it worked as well for the "slobs" in the public waiting areas as it did for those in the exclusive waiting rooms. This is globalization in a nutshell. It works great for the rich, not so well for the rest of us slobs. This is a government of the rich people, by the rich people, for the rich people. The slobs realise their government doesn't really care that their jobs are disapearing and their standard of living is going down.

Charles Becker Sonoma State University July 17

I am not interested in windfall investing profits. Soros is *not* my hero: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-george-soros-broke-the-bank-of-thaila... . Wretched.

John Medina Holt July 17

To say that George Soros is funding [neo]liberal democracy is a misnomer. What Soros is funding is open borders. Where national interests are set aside, global interests prevail. This is precisely what George Soros is advocating. Tired of having to face multitude regulatory systems in his effort to build a global financial empire, Soros is quite right in discerning that a borderless, global regulatory system would increase his financial power exponentially. Nations are right to resist the encroachment of Soros because global interests, by definition, are not local interests. Nationalism, so loathed by Soros and his open border lackeys, serves as a check and balance on men like Soros who would be god and would dictate to the world from some point of central governance what their truth and value should be. George Soros and his globalist kin should be resisted. The true threat to global interests is not nationalism, it is globalism.

Richard L. Wilson Moscow, Russia July 17

Soros, and American [neo]liberalism, economic and social [neo]liberalism championed by Soros and the NYT, is in its death throes. Call us fascists, totalitarians, racists--- understand clearly: we do not care. Europe is waking up. [neo]liberalism is close to being dead. No spectres or phantoms are haunting Europe. Blood is standing up and answering our ancestors.We are not commodoties, consumers, meat for your wars. You have attacked us, belittled us, turned our queen of continents into latrines of filth. You, American [neo]liberalism, have destroyed us.Now, we take our nations back.

elizabeth renant new mexico July 17

It's amusing to read phrases like "nationalism and tribalism are resurgent". It never does to underestimate tribalism; as long as groups feel safe they are tolerant. But when groups feel threatened, tribalism rears up in what is not so much a resurgence but more like an awakening from a nap.

The older cultures of Europe are waking up from a nap and realizing that unless they reassess a few long-held assumptions, they will eventually be ethnically diminished and culturally pressured.

Denmark has banned the burka and legislated some of the harshest migration, immigration, asylum, and naturalization laws in Europe. It is implementing laws to ensure integration, including stopping benefits to families whose children are not integrating. Do the author and Mr. Soros think that Denmark exercising control over its future demographics and preserving its culture are malign?

The Danes some years ago elected the Danish People's Party to significant power; the DPP is often referred to as a far right party, but is a typical left-wing party in everything except pushing Denmark toward "multiculturalism".

Sweden's centre-left government, on the other hand, brought in hundreds of thousands of Third World immigrants and then refused even to admit, let alone discuss, the glaring problems with integration within its immigrant community.

Result: the Sweden Democrats, a bona fide neo-Nazi party, are set to do extremely and alarmingly well in Sweden's September elections.

Yes - in Sweden.

Larry Left Chicago's High Taxes July 17

This super-rich elitist from Hungary is trying to buy American democracy and reshape it in his image regardless of what We The People want. And the Democrats are on his payroll and totally owned by this foreign agent!

Burton Austin, Texas July 17

Soros' flaw is that he only tolerates centralized socialist democracy. He cannot stand the idea of democracy in the form of a federal republic with a weak central government. Interestingly, he made his billions as a predatory capitalist now he turns on capitalism. He also exhibits a particularly vicious elitism: No one should be allowed to own guns except his private security guards. He knows that umarmed men are always someone's slaves.

Ned Flarbus Berkeley July 17

Soros is a hypocrite who did one thing and is now out to create a legacy. All is shows is he is driven by both greed and ego. His blatant hypocrisy probably did more harm than good - common denominator, it's always about him. Hey Soros, don't do us plebes any more favors, ok?

Philly Expat July 17

Democracy is alive and well, regardless of what Soros thinks. He does not represent democracy, he was never been elected to any public office. He represents open borders mass migration, as the name of one of his NGOs implies, Open Society Foundation. Brexit voters, and other voters across the west are increasingly voting against his philosophy. Voters in the US, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Italy, Slovenia, etc, have democratically chosen as their leaders conservative controlled borders leaders, and to underscore, all were elected via the democratic process.

Open Borders and globalism that Soros is pushing is increasingly being rejected in voting booths in the EU and the US.

It is hardly undemocratic to increasingly vote against what Soros is selling – chaotic mass migration made possible by open borders.

He represents [neo]liberal democracy, and voters increasingly favor conservative democracy.

David Brisbane July 17

George Soros is the epitome of corruption – penetration and distortion of political process by obscene wealth. It does not matter what his true intentions are – he can say whatever he wants but we will never know for sure. And stop calling that "philanthropy".

Red Cross and Salvation Army is philanthropy. What Soros is doing is imposing his personal political beliefs and ideas on everybody by buying political influence with his money - that is called "corruption" pure and simple.

Sure, he is not the only one doing that, but he is the one doing that most overtly and blatantly. He seems to relish being the face of the elitist disregard for the masses. What he does is not democracy promotion - it is the exact opposite – democracy destruction. It is good to know that he is failing in that effort.

idimalink usa July 17

Neoliberalism has failed to improve democratic governance and reduced distribution of wealth, just as leftists predicted. Soros benefitted financially, which has increased his privilege to participate in governance voters cannot achieve. Despite Soros' wealth, successfully manipulating currency markets does not easily transfer to manipulating electorates. Even if Soros believes his projects would produce good governance, he lacks the ability to convince voters what is in their best interests.

Jose Pardinas Collegeville, PA July 18

I am elated to hear that George Soros might be losing.

What pharaonic globalist plutocrats like him mean by "Liberal Democracy" encompasses a sinister set of objectives. Prominent among which are these two:

1). Full support for neocon/neoliberal destabilization, confrontation, and military interventionism.
2). The destruction of borders, nations, and cultures -- particularly Western Culture here and in Europe.

Soros and his peers want unhindered unlimited access to cheap Third World labor as well as to have complete control over the entire global economy. To his class nationalism and culture are speed bumps on the way to those self-serving goals.

[Aug 07, 2018] Truth Decay: Living in the Age of the Big Lie

Notable quotes:
"... constitutionally impermissible for courts to take class into account under the Fourteenth Amendment. ..."
"... Genetically Modified Canola 'Escapes' Farm Fields, August 6, 2010 ..."
Aug 07, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

"Living in the Age of the Big Lie" [Stephen Gold, Industry Week ]. Gold is President and Chief Executive Officer, Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI):

All this has created the potential for an American cultural crisis of distrust, authoritatively captured in two recently published analyses.

In "Truth Decay," [cute! –lambert] the RAND Corporation lays the blame for the deteriorating role of facts and data in public life on four primary causes:

1. The rise of social media
2. An overtaxed educational system that cannot keep up with changes in the "information ecosystem"
3. Political and social polarization
4. And -- perhaps due to all of these factors -- the increasing tendency of individuals to create their own subjective social reality, otherwise known as "cognitive bias."

"The Death of Truth" by Pulitzer-Prize winning book critic Michiko Kakutani explores the waning of integrity in American society, particularly since the 2016 elections. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's observation that "everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts," is more timely than ever, Kakutani says: "polarization has grown so extreme that voters have a hard time even agreeing on the same facts." And no wonder: Two-thirds of Americans get at least some of their news through social media -- a platform that has been overwhelmed by trolls and bots, and which uses algorithms to decide what each of us gets to see.

Executives ignore the cultural shift away from honesty at their peril.

Social media has its own problems, gawd knows -- break them up and outlaw the algos, and they'd be a lot more like the public utilities they should really be -- but it's amazing how vague hand-wringing pieces like this ignore at least four seismic events since 2000, all of which involve perceived legitimacy and the nature of truth: (1) Bush v. Gore, (2) Iraq WMDs, (3) Obama's "hope and change" campaign, followed by (4) the crash, the bailouts, the free passes for bankers, and a brutal recession. The official narrative and its maintainers didn't lose credibility because of trolls and bots, who might be regarded as opportunistic infections overwhelming an already weakened immnune system.

Grassroots and/or AstroTurf?

Our Famously Free Press

"The Press Doesn't Cause Wars -- Presidents Do" [ The Atlantic ] • One of a ginormous steaming load of revisionist and defensive articles prompted by Trump's tweet that the press can "causes War." Anyone who was present for the build up to the Iraq War knows that Trump's claim is true; in fact, the "media critique" that began then was prompted by the Iraq WMDs scam, in which the press -- *** cough *** Judy Miller ***cough*** -- was not merely compliant or complicitous, but active and vociferous, especially in shunning and shaming skeptics. Of course, everybody who was wrong about Iraq was wrong in the right way, so they all still have jobs (David Frum, Bush speechwriter and Hero of the Resistance, at the Atlantic, among hundreds of others). So revisionist history is very easy for them to write.

Class Warfare

"The New Class-Blindness" [ Law and Political Economy ]. "It is true that class-based discrimination does not trigger heightened scrutiny under equal protection in the way that race-based and sex-based discrimination do . Some judges -- even some Supreme Court Justices -- have begun to argue that it is constitutionally impermissible for courts to take class into account under the Fourteenth Amendment. The Fifth Circuit reached this conclusion a few years ago in the Whole Woman's Health case, in which it asserted that judges could consider only obstacles created by "the law itself" when determining whether a law unduly burdens the right to abortion -- a category that excluded obstacles such as lack of transportation, childcare, days off from work, and money for overnight stays. When Whole Woman's Health reached the Supreme Court, some of the Justices (in dissent) expressed support for this approach."

"Vermont's Striking Nurses Want A Raise for Nonunion Workers Too" [ Labor Notes ]. "Yet when 1,800 nurses and technical staff struck for better wages July 12-13 at the state's second-largest employer, the University of Vermont Medical Center, the people of Burlington came out in force to back them up. 'We had policemen and firefighters and UPS drivers pulling over and shaking our hands' on the picket line, said neurology nurse Maggie Belensz. 'We had pizza places dropping off dozens of pizzas, giving out free ice cream.' And when a thousand people marched from the hospital through Burlington's downtown, 'we had standing ovations from people eating their dinners,' she said. 'It was a moving experience.' One reason for such wide support: these hospital workers aren't just demanding a raise themselves. They're also calling for a $15 minimum wage for their nonunion co-workers, such as those who answer the phones, mop the floors, cook the food, and help patients to the bathroom."

"What Are Capitalists Thinking?" [Michael Tomaskey, New York Times ]. "I write today with some friendly advice for the capitalist class about said socialists. You want fewer socialists? Easy. Stop creating them . I understand completely why it's happening. Given what's been going on in this country, it couldn't not have happened. And if you're a capitalist, you'd better try to understand it, too -- and do something to address the very legitimate grievances that propelled it." • Finally, reality begins to penetrate the thickened craniums of the better sort of liberal

"In 2008, America Stopped Believing in the American Dream" [Frank Rich, New York Magazine ]. (The "American Dream" being one of the official narratives.) "It's not hard to pinpoint the dawn of this deep gloom: It arrived in September 2008, when the collapse of Lehman Brothers kicked off the Great Recession that proved to be a more lasting existential threat to America than the terrorist attack of seven Septembers earlier. The shadow it would cast is so dark that a decade later, even our current run of ostensible prosperity and peace does not mitigate the one conviction that still unites all Americans: Everything in the country is broken. Not just Washington, which failed to prevent the financial catastrophe and has done little to protect us from the next, but also race relations, health care, education, institutional religion, law enforcement, the physical infrastructure, the news media, the bedrock virtues of civility and community. Nearly everything has turned to crap, it seems ." • Ditto


Arizona Slim , August 6, 2018 at 3:08 pm

Computer glitch? Well, who programmed the computer and who paid 'em? Follow the money, and you'll find that it leads back to Wells Fargo.

sierra7 , August 6, 2018 at 4:54 pm

"We ("They") Were Doing God's Work" LLoyd Blankfein then head of Goldman Sachs in his testimony to Congress on " .what went wrong".

nippersdad , August 6, 2018 at 5:48 pm

I think I would put it much earlier than that. Anyone who watched Newt Gingrich during his Contract on America days, who watched Max Cleland be attacked by Saxby Chambliss, who watched as Clinton deregulated the media in favor of Rupert Murdoch even as they slagged him, knew something was afoot.

Integrity has been in short supply ever since.

foghorn longhorn , August 6, 2018 at 8:18 pm

How about going back a bit further,
Carter, put a sweater on.
Reagan, put it on the credit card.

cm , August 6, 2018 at 3:03 pm

Shenzhen Tech Girl Naomi Wu

informative post spelling out that China is still a repressive government in ways that Americans often cannot relate.

Carey , August 6, 2018 at 3:06 pm

Tomasky at NYT:

"I have mixed feelings about this socialism boomlet. It has yet to prove itself politically viable in general elections outside a handful of areas, and by 2021 we could wake up and see that it's been a disaster for Democrats."

What is a Democrat? Are they inherently good? Is failing the Democrats OK, if doing so improves the lives of the 90%?

pretzelattack , August 6, 2018 at 3:23 pm

I would say it is required.

Pat , August 6, 2018 at 5:07 pm

Mr. Tomasky seems to have missed that Democrats throwing out the concerns of the working class to court wealthy donors for its Clintonian politics boomlet has been distinctly, well not all that long term politically viable. It has been a disaster for the Democrats. There were signs prior to 2000, but it took starting an unpopular and largely unsuccessful war and attempting to undermine Social Security for the Democrats to make a come back. That their success was pretty much over by 2010, with the exception of the Presidency is very clear in the massive loss of Governorships, State Houses and yes Congress leading up to the 2016 debacle when they foolishly nominated the Grand Dame of that 'can't give me lots of money – suck on it' political position to be their Presidential nominee.

But why let facts get in the way of a good narrative meant to convince the rubes to continue voting for polticians who have no interest in their concerns because of the right pronouns and Russia!

Carey , August 6, 2018 at 6:16 pm

All well said. I wonder also about who is included in Tomasky's "we".

Class class class

nothing but the truth , August 6, 2018 at 3:16 pm

Truth Decay

The biggest cause is spin , that has become an art form, a business and career path.

Telling the truth in public is an invitation to cut short your career. The only time when officials tell the truth is when they are comfortably retired.

Especially with economists and journalists (the conscience keepers), it is not so important what they are saying, but why they are saying it (basically lack of trust in the narrator).

jsn , August 6, 2018 at 4:38 pm

I can't remember who it was, someone like Art Buchwald or Molly Ivins way back, who said "a gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth."

Craig H. , August 6, 2018 at 5:15 pm

I personally blame Bill Clinton. The turning point was the report that he told Lewinsky "deny deny deny there's nothing they can do."

Which is true but that was the point in the timeline when a critical mass of people began to live like that. Or when it became obvious to me. Perhaps it was exactly like that for a long time before and it is not BC's fault.

Synapsid , August 6, 2018 at 3:39 pm

It's cheering that coal shipment and use in the US has declined. The good news for our coal industry is that coal exports January to June 2018 have risen, in particular to Africa, Asia (largely to India which is voracious) and South America.

The current Administration can thank the previous one for increasing our capacity to export coal, I believe.

Tom Stone , August 6, 2018 at 3:40 pm

Sarah Jeong is a piece of work, is her desk next to Judy Miller's?
Good grief, the cultural differences between different parts of SE Asian Countries can be profound let alone the cultural differences between countries.
I'm reminded of a boss who told me that monopolies increase competition, with a straight face.

Carey , August 6, 2018 at 4:13 pm

My impression is that Ms. Jeong's job is and will be to start plenty of cultural "fires", so
that while the citizenry is distracted with them, the looting and pillaging of the many by the few can continue.

jsn , August 6, 2018 at 3:41 pm

" the significant benefits that Federal Reserve independence brings." For whom?

diptherio , August 6, 2018 at 3:41 pm

Re: Mastodon

You can simply "unpin" the columns you don't want to see.

diptherio , August 6, 2018 at 4:21 pm

But to answer the question you actually asked the Federated timeline includes your local timeline, which itself includes your home timeline. So if you want to see it all, just use the federated timeline. If you only want to see people you follow, use the home timeline, etc.

Montanamaven , August 6, 2018 at 4:54 pm

How do you start? What "instances" would be a good fit?

Lee , August 6, 2018 at 3:43 pm

Re Sarah Jeong

What's an Asian woman doing criticizing a white guy for commenting on a predominantly, but not exclusively, black art form? I mean, why is she even speaking English and how about that name Sarah for an egregious example of cultural appropriation? And, as I have previously queried on this site: how is it even permissible for Yo-Yo Ma to play Bach on the cello? And in case you ask: yes, identity politics has finally driven me insane. Or is it they who are mad?

fresno dan , August 6, 2018 at 4:25 pm

Lee
August 6, 2018 at 3:43 pm

Actually, after I read the below, I'm kinda warming to her ..

http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/welcome-to-bad-faith/

She (Sarah Jeong) wrote: "After a bad day, some people come home and kick the furniture. I get on the Internet and make fun of The New York Times." "I don't feel safe in a country that is led by someone who takes Thomas Friedman seriously." "Hannah Rosin shatters ceiling by proving women writers can be as hackish as Tom Friedman, too." "[David] Brooks is an absolute nitwit tho." "Notajoke: I'm being forced to read Nicholas Kristof. This is the worst." "if I had a bajillion dollars, I'd buy the New York Times, just for the pleasure of firing Tom Friedman ."

curlydan , August 6, 2018 at 5:34 pm

combining the articles, it sounds like she's got a lot of opinions. Good for an aspiring pundit but also opening herself up for a greater possibility of errors.

WobblyTelomeres , August 6, 2018 at 6:59 pm

I'd buy the New York Times, just for the pleasure of firing Tom Friedman ."

Ah, but you"ll have to scheme to have a cabbie deliver the news. Otherwise, he wouldn't believe it.

sleepy , August 6, 2018 at 3:45 pm

it's amazing how vague hand-wringing pieces like this ignore at least four seismic events since 2000, all of which involve perceived legitimacy and the nature of truth: (1) Bush v. Gore, (2) Iraq WMDs, (3) Obama's "hope and change" campaign, followed by (4) the crash, the bailouts, the free passes for bankers, and a brutal recession.

Good list to which I would add the Katrina debacle.

Arizona Slim , August 6, 2018 at 3:51 pm

One for the thumb!

jonhoops , August 6, 2018 at 7:18 pm

9-11 anyone? Of course we should probably go back to at least Nov. 1963

foghorn longhorn , August 6, 2018 at 8:28 pm

We probably should, but then you're just a conspiracy theorist.
Ya big dummy.

foghorn longhorn , August 6, 2018 at 8:48 pm

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://m.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DXY02Qkuc_f8&ved=2ahUKEwj61Jru2tncAhUJLKwKHYx6CZYQwqsBMAZ6BAgKEBE&usg=AOvVaw3Qc0sJeXBikn0l5vC9T388

Unless of course all the SS guys are riding on the VP limo.

fresno dan , August 6, 2018 at 3:55 pm

The New Class-Blindness" [Law and Political Economy]. "It is true that class-based discrimination does not trigger heightened scrutiny under equal protection in the way that race-based and sex-based discrimination do . Some judges -- even some Supreme Court Justices -- have begun to argue that it is constitutionally impermissible for courts to take class into account under the Fourteenth Amendment.
================
In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread. Anatole France

flora , August 6, 2018 at 3:56 pm

Note to Frank Rich: Read Simon Johnson's 2009 Atlantic Magazine essay 'The Quiet Coup'.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/05/the-quiet-coup/307364/

He saw what would happen if the US govt didn't clean up the TBTF banks, Wall St., and other financial perps. This still needs to happen.

knowbuddhau , August 6, 2018 at 4:48 pm

Huh, you say that as if USG, TBTF, Wall St, other fin perps weren't all the same. /s

zagonostra , August 6, 2018 at 3:57 pm

Russia,Russia,Russia.

Not much concern over the disconnect between voter preference and policy outcome which was documented in the 2014 Gilens/Benjamin study or Jimmy Carter statement that the U.S. is a defacto oligarchy, or the massive voter fraud that is part and parcel of our voting system (see https://www.gregpalast.com/ ), or the disclosure of HRC/DNC collusion documented in wiki leaks and Donna Brasil's "tell all book", not much concern their at all.

Do you find it curious this obsession of the MSM with Russia meddling in our elections?

Montanamaven , August 6, 2018 at 5:02 pm

A compilation on Rachel Maddow and how many times she mentions Russia in ONE show on March 9 Russia, Russia, Russia

Richard , August 6, 2018 at 5:23 pm

Hilarious and mind-blowing.

Hameloose Cannon , August 6, 2018 at 8:34 pm

"Do you find it curious this obsession [ ] w/ Russia meddling [ ]?" The Russian meddling isn't the curious part; Russia tries it in every election west of the river Pina. The abnormal part is a sitting US President, on Twitter, accused his son of a felony aka violating 52 U.S. Code § 30121 (a)(2), soliciting contributions [things of value] from a foreign national. Talk about "Blue on Blue" fire. Nothing "friendly" about that. Especially given the prima facie evidence of violating 18 U.S. Code § 3, accessory after the fact, by dictating Don the Younger's response to the story.

diptherio , August 6, 2018 at 4:17 pm

I read the book Q a couple of years ago. It's real good. Especially if you're into the gory details of European religious history. There's a lot of things they didn't mention in my confirmation classes

Synoia , August 6, 2018 at 4:21 pm

Social media has its own problems, gawd knows The official narrative and its maintainers didn't lose credibility because of trolls and bots, who might be regarded as opportunistic infections overwhelming an already weakened immnune system

Well said. The official narrative, the swamp, is very good at blaming effects and ignoring causes.

Hiding , August 6, 2018 at 4:24 pm

Qanon seems like a honeypot site(s) for retribution futures. Read anything, go into a database for future reference. Unz and others have likely multiple uses and followers, NOC/NotForAttribution and other.

a different chris , August 6, 2018 at 4:30 pm

Agree with the disagreement over the list. However, this underlies so many, maybe all problems and nobody is seemingly going to clean it up:

>An overtaxed educational system

JTMcPhee , August 6, 2018 at 4:40 pm

On decline in coal shipments: look what is happening elsewhere! "Germany had so much renewable energy on Sunday that it had to pay people to use electricity!", https://qz.com/680661/germany-had-so-much-renewable-energy-on-sunday-that-it-had-to-pay-people-to-use-electricity/ "Power too cheap to meter," just like nuclear was promised to be! And that is an old 2016 article. I saw another piece, I believe in Business Insider or Bloomberg, complaining that the big energy companies are facing "profit stress" because of grid-ties from solar and wind requiring them to pay people for energy in excess of the load. And having, gasp! to shut down coal fired plants, each closure being a pretty expensive anti-profit center! I would tend to think of it being a re-internalization of costs that the power companies have dumped on us (health effects from heavy metal and carcinogen emissions, smog, CO2/climate interruption. Too bad the paybacks won't come from clawbacks of CEO paydays or any of the lobbying money spent to bribe legislatures, deceive the public/consumers, spent on getting legislative approval for nuclear power plants that WILL NEVER BE BUILT like Duke Energy has done (and besides, they get to cllect a billion or more from customers to "pay for" those plants that will never be built. Kind of like an ISDS "judgment" in favor of a megacorporation because 'regulation and market conditions' impaired said corporations' "expectations of profit "

Of course, windmills built to a price are not infallible, either: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nSB1SdVHqQ

I have to add, adding it all up and looking around, "Effing stupid humans," to get to this point

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , August 6, 2018 at 5:27 pm

And beyond this point, more ***ing stupid humans thanks to, well, population growth.

That would be a problem in any system – capitalism, socialism, communism, etc.

ewmayer , August 6, 2018 at 8:42 pm

Well, that green-energy surfeit may have something to do with the combination of a record-smashing heat wave in a country where A/C systems have not been needed at scale, historically speaking. But good on them if they are in fact doing it sustainably.

David , August 6, 2018 at 4:41 pm

. and could provide some relief to North American farmers just as Chinese tariffs are sapping demand for soybeans and other crops.

From the USDA's Export Sales Query System

Soybeans (in Metric Tons) for the week of 7/26/2018,

Country – 2018 Exports / 2017 Exports

China – 186 / 73,314

Korea – 59,999 / 0
Japan – 72,120 / 7,758
Taiwan – 86,441 / 3,853

Grand Total for the week – 856,438 / 637,737

JTMcPhee , August 6, 2018 at 4:57 pm

Of course, a good bit of that "trade" includes genetically modified soybeans. Monsanto is happy to sell their "intellectual property," immune from consequence of course, pure profit all the way down.

And of course there are NO POSSIBLE RISKS OR CONCERNS about the propagation of gene-fiddled stuff like soybeans and canola, " Genetically Modified Canola 'Escapes' Farm Fields,
August 6, 2010
, https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129010499 , just for example, I mean it's not like the World Health Organization has not kind of flagged some things that "policymakers" might want to keep in mind when confronted by the Cropporate Corrupters wanting to peddle their 'risk free innovations:'

"Frequently asked questions on genetically modified foods
May 2014

These questions and answers have been prepared by WHO in response to questions and concerns from WHO Member State Governments with regard to the nature and safety of genetically modified food." http://www.who.int/foodsafety/areas_work/food-technology/faq-genetically-modified-food/en/

"Do not worry, meine liebchen -- we do this for your own good "

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , August 6, 2018 at 5:54 pm

That's one more thing to ban – GM soybeans.

And growth hormone beef that's another.

JohnnyGL , August 6, 2018 at 5:22 pm

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/medicare-save-businesses-trillions-dollars-190500400.html

Posting this because sometimes it's more about WHO is saying it, rather than what is being said. It's not often I look at a Rick Newman column and say, 'wow, he's really making a strong case'.

Tectonic plates of politics are shifting.

Randy , August 6, 2018 at 5:26 pm

Salmonella in chickens.

The chickens are raised covered in their own filth and along with the filth comes salmonella. They attempt to contain the infection with antibiotics.

And if the conditions in the "chicken factory" aren't filthy enough the slaughterhouse ensures that the end product comes with salmonella by running the line speed so fast that punctured intestines insure that the end product comes out covered in salmonella-containing fecal matter. Which they try to contain with a chlorine bath.

If you like eating chicken shite eat store chicken. If you don't, and if you can, raise your own. Raising chickens for meat is a lot of work but they taste better and you won't be eating chicken shite.

WobblyTelomeres , August 6, 2018 at 5:59 pm

Or quit eating meat.

Polar Donkey , August 6, 2018 at 5:49 pm

Jeez, Frank Rich needs to get out of New York City more. Everything has been completely broke around Memphis since 2006. It just mostly broke before that.

Polar Donkey , August 6, 2018 at 6:06 pm

Was it Trump's election, the rise of Bernie/AOC, Obama's $32 million worth of post-presidency houses, 60,000 people dying from opiods, or the broken subways in NYC that caused Frank Rich's awakening?

WobblyTelomeres , August 6, 2018 at 6:40 pm

More likely a dollar sliding down the sidewalk

Glen , August 6, 2018 at 6:54 pm

"Obama didn't cause that broken spirit any more than Trump did."

Obama made it perfectly clear that the Democratic party was going to do nothing to correct 2008. Instead he put the very same people that wrecked the world economy back in charge. I will no longer vote for the "have no alternative" Democrat. I will vote for those that are going to enact the polices that will fix this mess. If that means we get twenty Trumps a row – so be it.

Bernie would have won.

anon , August 6, 2018 at 6:01 pm

Re: On average for the year-ended this May, 58.5 percent of the job gains were in counties that backed Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 , and this excerpt from that Associated Press link:

The jobs data shows an economy that is as fractured as the political landscape ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. As more money pools in corporate hubs such as Houston, San Francisco or Seattle , prosperity spills over less and less to smaller towns and cities in America's interior. That would seem to undercut what Trump sees as a central accomplishment of his administration – job creation for middle class and blue-collar workers in towns far removed from glitzy urban centers.

Looking at those cities noted, especially Seattle and San Francisco – both of which now have an inhuman level of inequality and homelessness -- a further dive into the details is necessary.

Specifically, are those job gains ™ out of state imported employees from: Ivy League Schools (predominately under 26, mostly white males from elite families); along with H-1B, and Opt Program imported employees (predominately under 26, mostly males from mostly upper middle class Asian families, paid far, far less than those Ivy Leaguers) [1]; while the displaced unemployed -- yet, highly qualified for employment -- residents in those cities are continually being forced out (if they can afford the move and have somewhere they are able to move to), or made homeless.

[1] Admittedly, I'm not sure whether they are included in those job gains, but if the job gains are based on ADP reports, it might well be likely that they are; of course a search on two search sites brought up no answer to my query.

Daryl , August 6, 2018 at 6:08 pm

> Mastodon users?

I find Mastodon's user interface to be fairly unintuitive myself. Presumably it would be possible to make your own "mixed" view as it's open source and based on open protocols, but not sure if Mastodon supports it out of the box.

lyman alpha blob , August 6, 2018 at 6:22 pm

How does Mastodon work?

By rocking until you can't take it anymore.

Instructional video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFop1gTbaj8

And their drummer is a monster!

Or did you mean the Mastodon platform ?

Sorry Lambert, couldn't help myself Just saw this band recently and they are tremendous.

Arizona Slim , August 6, 2018 at 6:39 pm

Fun tutorial, lyman!

ChrisPacific , August 6, 2018 at 6:26 pm

Re: Indivisible

AOC is one of their candidates, as are Cynthia Nixon, Ayana Pressley etc. There is a prevalence of Democrat buzzwords, but I think they are aiming to be agnostic regarding left factions:

We're excited to make gains in 2018, but Indivisible 435 isn't just about notching wins. Our organization is not a wing of the Democratic party. While we care deeply about electing officials to oppose the Trump agenda, we care just as much building a strong progressive community nationwide and pushing the conversation back to the interests of the people.

This would be well off message for establishment Democrats.

I'd be inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise, but still watch what they do.

Pat , August 6, 2018 at 6:51 pm

I would posit that most of the job gains in the last decade maybe even two were probably in areas that voted for Clinton. That the Texas boom and the oil boom in the Dakota's were exceptions not the rule. I would also posit that the few Trump areas that did see job growth in that decade saw that growth in minimum wage low to no benefit jobs. (That last one wasn't much of a stretch since that has been the majority of jobs created during both the Bush 2 and Obama administration.)

Summer , August 6, 2018 at 7:18 pm

Maybe They Could Invent Houses" [Eschaton]. • After having invented the bodega, the bus

More like an "Appartment"?

drumlin woodchuckles , August 6, 2018 at 7:30 pm

Sarah Jeong . . . hmmm . . .

Things like this have led me to comment in the past and every comment on this particular subject has failed to print. I figure I am tripping some kind of auto-filter.

So I will try again with indirect spelling.

We need a new word for this sort of thing. It would emerge from the new acronym we need.
The letters would be . . . arrr peee ohhh ceee
that stands for . . . rayciss purrsuns ovv cuhluhr.

The Rev Kev , August 6, 2018 at 7:36 pm

"Dockless bike, scooter firms clash with U.S. cities over regulations"

I have a solution to these tech-companies which strew towns and cities with their bikes without coordinating or even asking to enter such a town and let the town try to adapt to their needs. It is called an impound lot. You have city workers pick them up and cart them there. If that company wants their bikes back again, they will have to pay to spring them from the lot. Rinse and repeat until that tech company gets the message. If that tech company doubles down, announce a $5 bounty for any bike driven to the impound lot till the company is ready to negotiate.

drumlin woodchuckles , August 6, 2018 at 8:51 pm

Disrupt the disrupters.

Disruptive law-enforcement.

beth , August 6, 2018 at 8:05 pm

"How a Pair of Kentucky Pols Are About to Legalize Hemp"

Please help me here. Hemp can be sold in all 50 states. The 2014 Farm bill allowed each state to decide whether hemp oil could be sold for medicinal purposes w/i that year. My first package sent to me was from a reputable company and was mailed through Amazon from Kentucky. I was experiencing severe pain and now have a better alternative.

CalypsoFacto , August 6, 2018 at 8:58 pm

I am also hoping for this bill so I can get into hemp processing for fibers into fabric!

The Rev Kev , August 6, 2018 at 8:37 pm

"How to keep young people from fleeing small towns for big cities"

Not so hard. See that there are jobs for them. You cannot do much in modern society without money and a job provides this. A job provides dignity, discipline and the money it provides lets a young person to satisfy not only their needs but many of their wants as well. It is hard for a young guy to take a girl out but having no money to do so and a job's money will help a couple set up a household and marry and have children. The drop in marriage rates as well as the birthrate speaks volumes of the lack of decent paying jobs for young people, even those that have achieved credentials. Supply good paying jobs and most kids will stay put. Not so hard to work out.

ewmayer , August 6, 2018 at 8:43 pm

Re. "Trump v. Fed" [Money and Banking], bolds mine: "Last month, interrupting decades of presidential self-restraint, President Trump openly criticized the Federal Reserve. Given the President's penchant for dismissing valuable institutions, it is hard to be surprised investors are reasonably focused on the selection of qualified academics and individuals with valuable policy and business experience the President's comments are seriously disturbing and -- were they to become routine -- risk undermining the significant benefits that Federal Reserve independence brings."

As Lambert would say, for some definition of 'valuable', 'benefits' and 'independence'.

[Aug 05, 2018] What If Everything We've Been Told About Recent History Is a Lie

Notable quotes:
"... The author is a prominent American Christian conservative who was a presidential candidate for the paleoconservative Constitution Party in 2008, when he was endorsed by Ron Paul. ..."
"... He is the pastor of Liberty Fellowship, a non-denominational church in Montana, and he is a popular radio host and columnist . His weekly sermons are available on his YouTube channel. ..."
"... He is a relentless foe of neoconservatism and frequently criticizes the neocon hostility towards Russia. His views are representative of an influential and substantial part of Trump's popular support. ..."
"... Here is an archive of his excellent articles which we have published on Russia Insider , when they were relevant to the debate over Russia. ..."
"... The War on Terror ..."
"... The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East ..."
"... The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East ..."
"... The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East ..."
"... The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East ..."
"... The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East ..."
"... The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East ..."
Aug 05, 2018 | russia-insider.com

"Behind the War on Terror is a strategic plan crafted decades in advance to redraw the map of the Middle East. 9/11 was a false-flag operation blamed on Muslims ..." Chuck Baldwin Wed, Aug 1, 2018 | 14,261 389 MORE: History Revisionist History The author is a prominent American Christian conservative who was a presidential candidate for the paleoconservative Constitution Party in 2008, when he was endorsed by Ron Paul.

He is the pastor of Liberty Fellowship, a non-denominational church in Montana, and he is a popular radio host and columnist . His weekly sermons are available on his YouTube channel.

He is a relentless foe of neoconservatism and frequently criticizes the neocon hostility towards Russia. His views are representative of an influential and substantial part of Trump's popular support.

Here is an archive of his excellent articles which we have published on Russia Insider , when they were relevant to the debate over Russia.


What if everything we've been told about 9/11 is a lie? What if it wasn't 19 Muslim terrorist hijackers that flew those planes into the Twin Towers and Pentagon? What if the Muslims had nothing whatsoever to do with the attacks on 9/11? What if everything we've been told about the reasons we invaded two sovereign nations (Afghanistan and Iraq) is a lie?

What if the 17-year-old, never-ending "War on Terror" in the Middle East is a lie? What if our young soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have given their lives in America's "War on Terror" died for a lie? What if G.W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump have been nothing but controlled toadies for an international global conspiracy that hatched the attacks of 9/11 as nothing more than a means to institute a perpetual "War on Terror" for purposes that have nothing to do with America's national security? Would the American people want to know? Would the truth even matter to them?

The sad reality is that the vast majority of Americans who would read the above paragraph would totally dismiss every question I raised as being unrealistic and impossible -- or even nutty. Why is that? Have they studied and researched the questions? No. Have they given any serious thought to the questions? No. They have simply swallowed the government/mainstream media version of these events hook, line and sinker.

It is totally amazing to me that the same people who say they don't believe the mainstream media (MSM) and government (Deep State) versions of current events -- which is why they voted for and love Donald Trump -- have absolutely no reservations about accepting the official story that the 9/11 attacks were the work of jihadist Muslims and that America's "War on Terror" is completely legitimate.

These "always Trumpers" are dead set in their minds that America is at war with Islam; that Trump's bombings of Syria were because President Assad is an evil, maniacal monster who gassed his own people; and that Trump's expansion of the war in Afghanistan is totally in the interests of America's national security.

BUT WHAT IF ALL OF IT IS A BIG, FAT LIE?

What if the Muslims had NOTHING to do with 9/11?

What if Bashar al-Assad did NOT gas his own people?

What if America's "War on Terror" is a completely false, manufactured, made-up deception?

What if America's military forces are mostly fighting for foreign agendas and NOT for America's national security or even our national interests?

What if America's war in Afghanistan is a fraud?

What if the entire "War on Terror" is a fraud?

The Trump robots have bought into America's "War on Terror" as much as Obama's robots and Bush's robots did. Bush was elected twice, largely on the basis of America's "War on Terror." Obama campaigned against the "War on Terror" and then expanded it during his two terms in office. Trump campaigned against the "War on Terror" and then immediately expanded it beyond what Obama had done. In fact, Trump is on a pace to expand the "War on Terror" beyond the combined military aggressions of both Bush and Obama.

But who cares? Who even notices?

America is engaged in a global "War on Terror." Just ask G.W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX News, The Washington Post, the New York Times and the vast majority of America's pastors and preachers. They all tell us the same thing seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. Liberals scream against Trump, and conservatives scream against Maxine Waters; but both sides come together to support America's never-ending "War on Terror."

But what if it's ALL a lie? What if Obama and Trump, the right and the left, the MSM and the conservative media are all reading from the same script? What if they are all (wittingly or unwittingly) in cahoots in perpetuating the biggest scam in world history? And why is almost everyone afraid to even broach the question?

Left or right, liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, secular or Christian, no one dares to question the official story about the 9/11 attacks or the "War on Terror."

And those who do question it are themselves attacked unmercifully by the right and the left, conservatives and liberals, Christians and secularists, Sean Hannity and Chris Matthews. Why is that? Why is it that FOX News and CNN, Donald Trump and Barack Obama, Chuck Schumer and Ted Cruz equally promote the same cockamamie story about 9/11 and the "War on Terror?"

Why? Why? Why?

Tell me again how Donald Trump is so different from Barack Obama. Tell me again how Ted Cruz is so different from Chuck Schumer. They all continue to perpetuate the lies about 9/11. They all continue to escalate America's never-ending "War on Terror." They are all puppets of a global conspiracy to advance the agenda of war profiteers and nation builders.

The left-right, conservative-liberal, Trump-Obama paradigm is one big giant SCAM. At the end of the day, the "War on Terror" goes on, bombs keep falling on people in the Middle East who had absolutely NOTHING to do with 9/11 and the money keeps flowing into the coffers of the international bankers and war merchants.

All of the above is why I am enthusiastically promoting Christopher Bollyn's new blockbuster book The War on Terror .

Of course, Bollyn is one of the world's foremost researchers and investigators into the attacks on 9/11. He has written extensively on the subject. But unlike most other 9/11 investigators, Bollyn continued to trace the tracks of the attacks on 9/11. And those tracks led him to discover that the 9/11 attacks were NOT "the event" but that they were merely the trigger for "the event." "What was the event?" you ask. America's perpetual "War on Terror."

As a result, Mr. Bollyn published his findings that the attacks on 9/11 were NOT perpetrated by Muslim extremists but by a very elaborate and well financed international conspiracy that had been in the planning for several decades. Bollyn's research names names, places and dates and exposes the truth behind not just 9/11 (many have done that) but behind America's "War on Terror" that resulted from the attacks on 9/11.

IT'S TIME FOR THE TRUTH TO COME OUT!

And Christopher Bollyn's investigative research brings out the truth like nothing I've read to date. His research connects the dots and destroys the myths.

Mr. Bollyn's research is published in a book entitled (full title): The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East . I mean it when I say that if enough people read this book, it could change the course of history and save our republic.

This is written on the book's back cover:

The government and media have misled us about 9/11 in order to compel public opinion to support the War on Terror.

Why have we gone along with it? Do we accept endless war as normal? Are we numb to the suffering caused by our military interventions?

No. We have simply been propagandized into submission. We have been deceived into thinking that the War on Terror is a good thing, a valiant struggle against terrorists who intend to attack us as we were on 9/11.

Behind the War on Terror is a strategic plan crafted decades in advance to redraw the map of the Middle East. 9/11 was a false-flag operation blamed on Muslims in order to start the military operations for that strategic plan. Recognizing the origin of the plan is crucial to understanding the deception that has changed our world.

Folks, 9/11 was a deception. The "War on Terror" is a deception. The phony left-right paradigm is a deception. FOX News is as much a deception as CNN. The "always Trump" group is as much a deception as the "never Trump" group. America has been in the throes of a great deception since September 11, 2001. And this deception is being perpetrated by Republicans and Democrats and conservatives and liberals alike.

I do not know Christopher Bollyn. I've never met him. But I thank God he had the intellectual honesty and moral courage to write this book. I urge readers to get this explosive new book. If you don't read any other book this year, read Mr. Bollyn's investigative masterpiece: The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East .

Again, I am enthusiastically recommending this book to my readers, and I make no apologies for doing so. The truth contained in this research MUST get out, and I am determined to do all I can to help make that possible.

Order Christopher Bollyn's blockbuster book The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East here:

The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East

I am confident that after you read this book, you will want to buy copies for your friends and relatives. The book is under 200 pages long and is not difficult reading. However, the facts and details Bollyn covers are profound and powerful. I have read the book three times so far and I'm not finished.

Frankly, Bollyn's book made so many things make sense for me. His book dovetails and tracks with much of my research on other topics. Truly, his book helped me get a much fuller understanding of the "big picture."

What if everything we've been told about 9/11 and the "War on Terror" is a lie? Well, Bollyn's book proves that indeed it is.

Again, here is where to find Christopher Bollyn's phenomenal new book The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East :

The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East


Source: Chuck Baldwin LIVE

[Jul 30, 2018] It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for an American to understand the truth by Paul Haeder

Notable quotes:
"... It is time to realize, however, that the real dangers to America today come not from the newly rich people of East Asia but from our own ideological rigidity, our deep-seated belief in our own propaganda. ..."
"... Blowback , Second Edition: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire ..."
"... The Common Good ..."
"... Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber ..."
"... Dissident Voice ..."
"... LA Progressive ..."
Jul 27, 2018 | dissidentvoice.org

In a sense, blowback is simply another way of saying that a nation reaps what it sows. Although people usually know what they have sown, our national experience of blowback is seldom imagined in such terms because so much of what the managers of the American empire have sown has been kept secret.

It is time to realize, however, that the real dangers to America today come not from the newly rich people of East Asia but from our own ideological rigidity, our deep-seated belief in our own propaganda.

― Chalmers Johnson, Blowback , Second Edition: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire

There are no more leaps of faith, or get out of jail cards left anymore. The first casualty of war is truth.

Lofty heights of defining the first amendment are just overlooks onto the crumbling mythology of a democracy, where the people – citizens -- vote for laws directly. We have a republic, a faulty one, the source of which is the power derived from billionaires, financiers, arms merchants, K-Streeters and the attendant moles allowing the government to break every charter of human concern. So, in that regard, we in this corptocracy have the right to be fooled every minute, suckered to not know a goddamned thing about democracy in big quotes.

The very concept of manufactured consent and a controlled opposition destroys much of the power of agency and so-called freedom of assembly, association and travel.

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.

― Noam Chomsky, The Common Good

The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.

― Vladimir Lenin

But, alas, we have blokes who see the world not as a black and white dichotomous illusion of the for v. against bifurcation, but a world of flowing back to what words should mean, a world that allows the filters to be smashed like high polished glass and instead deploying a magnifying glass to point toward the very source of the blasphemies and strong arm robberies that have been occurring in the Republic the very first moment the beaver hat was put on and the first treaty scripted by the powdered wigs of Washingtonian Fathers and broken, ripped to shreds, seeded with the dark force that is the white race.

Here comes Tools for Transparency into the mix of triage to uphold the declaration of independence, and the few tenets of the constitution that are supremely directed to we-by-for-because of the people, AND not the corporation, monopoly, Military-Retail-Finance-Ag-Energy-Pharma-Prison-Medical-Toxins-IT-Surveillance-Legal Complex. This project is the brainchild of a former Marine who "came to life late in the world" of pure skepticism about the powers that be and his own questioning of the motivations and machinations of his government and political representatives.

... ... ...

...we talked about Mad Men , the Edward Bernays and Milton Friedman schools of propaganda, framing stories (lies) and setting out to paint good people as bad, heroic politicians like Salvador Allende of Chile as Commie Baby Killers. Even now, Bush, the instigator of chaos in the Middle East, with all the cooked up lies and distractions of his own stupidity (like Trump), and, bam, W is reclaimed (in the mainstream mush media) as something of a good president, and especially by the likes of the Democratic Party misleadership .

... ... ...

His Tools for Transparency cuts through the opinion, and as he proposes, makes the world news and the even more Byzantine and elaborate proposed legislation and lobbying groups behind "the news" approachable, again, consumable.

He taps into his college days taking courses in industrial organizational psychology, seemingly benign when the American Psychological Association gets to mash the term into a three-fold brochure by defining it for prospective students as business as usual for corporations, and humanity is better because of this sort of manipulative psychology, but . . .

In reality, it's the science of behavior in the workplace, organizational development, attitudes, career development, decision theory, human performance, human factors, consumer behavior, small group theory and process, criterion theory and development and job and task analysis and individual assessment. It's a set of tools to keep workers down spiritually and organizationally, disconnected, fearful, confused and ineffectual as thinkers and resisters, and inept at countering the abuse of power companies or bureaucracies wield over a misinformed workforce.

The shape of corporations' unethical behavior, their sociopathic and the draconian workplace conditions today are largely sculpted and defined by these behavior shapers to include the marketers and the Edward Bernays-inspired manipulators of facts and brain functioning. This begs the question for Hanson, just what are today's hierarchy of needs for the average American? Physiological; Safety; Love/Belonging; Esteem; Self-Actualization.

... ... ...

Brian believes there is an awakening today in this country, and that the examples of movements such as those in Portland where youth are out yelling against the police state, and then how we are seeing individual officers returning firing with violence against those youth:

The viral video of an officer drawing his pistol on a group of school age children is terrifying.

We talk a lot about the devaluing of language and intentional discourse which includes the abilities of a society to engage in lively and cogent debate. For me, I know the forces of propaganda are multi-headed, multi-variant, with so much of American life seeded with lies, half-truths, duplicitous and twisted concepts, as well as inaccurate and spin-doctored history, which has contaminated a large portion of our society, up and down the economic ladder, with mind control.

Unfortunately, our language now is inextricably tied to emotions, as we see leftists (what's that?) and so-called progressives screaming at the top of their lungs how Trump is the worst president ever. Black so-called activists , journalists, stating how the empire (sky) is falling because Trump talked with Putin . Imagine, imagine, all those millions upon millions of people killed because of all the other presidents' and their thugs' policies eviscerating societies, all those elections smeared, all those democracies mauled, all those citizens in the other part of the world hobbled by America's policies, read "wars, occupations, embargoes, structural violence." It is a daily reminder for us all that today, as was true yesterday, that we are ruled by masters of self-deception and our collective society having a feel good party every day while we plunder the world. Doublethink. Here:

Orwell's point :

To tell deliberate lives while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

Herein lies the problem – vaunting past presidents on pedestals while attacking this current deplorable, Donald Trump. The reality is the US has been run by an elite group of militarists, and by no means is Trump the worst of the worst, which is both illogical and unsupported by facts:

Yet, we have to mark the words and wisdom of those of us who have been marking this empire's crimes, both internal and external, for years. Here, Paul Edwards over at Counterpunch hits a bulls-eye on the heart of the matter:

After decades of proven bald-faced crime, deceit and the dirtiest pool at home and abroad, the CIA, FBI, NSA, the Justice Department and the whole fetid nomenklatura of sociopathic rats, are portrayed as white knights of virtue dispensing verity as holy writ. And "progressives" buy it.

These are the vermin that gave us Vietnam, the Bay of Pigs, Chile, the Contras, Iraq's WMD, and along the way managed to miss the falls of the Shah and Communism.

Truly an Orwellian clusterfuck, this. War Party Dems misleading naive liberal souls sickened by Trump into embracing the dirty, vicious lunacy Hillary peddled to her fans, the bankers, brokers, and CEOs of the War Machine.

Trump is a fool who may yet blunder us into war; the Dems and the Deep State cabal would give us war by design.

... ... ...

Paul Kirk Haeder has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. A forthcoming book (Dec. 15, 2016), Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber , looks at 10 years of his writing at Dissident Voice , and before, to bring defiance to the world that is now lobotomizing at a rate never before seen in history. Read his autobiography, weekly chapter installments, at LA Progressive . Read other articles by Paul , or visit Paul's website .

[Jul 29, 2018] The Middle Precariat: The Downwardly Mobile Middle Class by Lynn Parramore

Notable quotes:
"... By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website ..."
"... Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America ..."
"... You will not do as well as your parents ..."
"... Life is a struggle to keep up. Even if you achieve something, you will live in fear of losing it. America is not your land: it belongs to the ultra-rich. ..."
"... The Vanishing Middle Class ..."
"... Capital in the Twenty-First Century ..."
"... Global Wealth Report ..."
"... Professed as a right for individual freedom and empowerment, in reality it serves to suppress disobedience with shame. If you earn like shit -- it's gotta be because YOU are shit. Just try harder. Don't you see those OTHER kids that did well! ..."
"... I think one crucial thing that has to change is the culture of extreme individualisation. ..."
"... die Plutonomisten und Bolshewisten! ..."
"... That the article brings "fear of robots" into the discussion is a tell that the writer does not want to mention that it is the competition from others in the world wide labor force that depress USA wages. ..."
"... We have been commodified since before we were even born, to the point where opportunities for what Lave and Wenger would call "legitimate peripheral participation" in the kinds of work that yield real, humane, benefits to our communities are scant to nonexistent for most of us. Something has gone deeply awry in this core social function at the worst possible time in human history. ..."
"... That was a wonderful post, very moving, thank you. These kind of testimonies are very important because they show the real human cost of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is truly a death cult. Please find an alternative to alcohol. Music, art, nature, etc. ..."
"... At least you are self aware. Most people are not. As for the Ship of Status, let it sink. Find a lifeboat where you feel comfortable and batten down for the Roaring (20)40s yet to come. Once you find something to work for, the bad habits will lose much of their hold on you. As long as you don't slide into alcoholism, you have a chance. ..."
"... Neoliberalism, the economic policy that is private sector "free market" driven, giving the owners of capital free, unfettered reign. Created by libertarians like Fredrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman, they sold it to the nation but failed to mention that little peccadillo about how privatization of government would usher in economic fascism. ..."
"... "An extreme form of laissez-faire individualism that developed in the writings of Hayek, Friedman and Nozick they are also referred to as libertarians. They draw on the natural rights tradition of John Locke and champion's full autonomy and freedom of the individual." ..."
"... What they meant was ECONOMIC freedom. They despise social freedom (democracy) because civil, labor, health, food safety, etc., rights and environmental protections put limits on their profits. ..."
"... The "maximizing shareholder value" myth turns people into psychopaths . The entire neoliberal economic policy of the past 40 years is based on the false assumption that self-interest is the driving evolution of humanity. We're not all psychopaths, turns out. We're social beings that have mainly used cooperation to get us through these thousands of years of existence. ..."
"... "If the IMF is to shake its image as an inward-looking, out-of-touch boys club, it needs to start taking the issue seriously. The effect of the male dominance in macroeconomics can be seen in the policy direction of the organisation: female economists are more likely to be in favour of Government-backed redistribution measures than their male counterparts. ..."
"... Of course, the parochial way in which economics is perceived by the IMF, as nothing more than the application of mathematical models, is nothing new. In fact, this is how mainstream economics frequently is taught in universities all over the world. Is it any wonder that the IMF has turned out as it is?" ..."
"... "Economics students are forced to spend so much time with this complex calculus so that they can go to work on Wall St. that there's no room in the course curriculum for the history of economic thought. ..."
"... So all they know about Adam Smith is what they hear on CNN news or other mass media that are a travesty of what these people really said and if you don't read the history of economic thought, you'd think there's only one way of looking at the world and that's the way the mass media promote things and it's a propagandistic, Orwellian way. ..."
"... The whole economic vocabulary is to cover up what's really happening and to make people think that the economy is getting richer while the reality is they're getting poorer and only the top is getting richer and they can only get rich as long as the middle class and the working class don't realize the scam that's being pulled off on them." ..."
"... "I often joke with my fellow country neighbors that it costs a hundred bucks to simply leave the house. It's not a joke anymore. At this point those still fighting for a paltry 15.00 should include a hundred dollar per day walk out your front door per diem." ..."
"... This is a stark and startling reality. This reality is outside the framework of understanding of economic struggle in America that is allowed by the corporate neoliberal culture/media. ..."
"... As the Precariat grows, having watched the .1% lie, cheat and steal – from them, they are more likely to also lie, cheat and steal in mortgage, employment and student loan applications and most importantly and sadly, in their dealings with each other. Everybody is turning into a hustler. ..."
"... Economics was always far too dangerous to be allowed to reveal the truth about the economy. ..."
"... "The labour and time of the poor is in civilised countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The Landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his extractions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money. But every savage has the full fruits of his own labours; there are no landlords, no usurers and no tax gatherers." ..."
"... Capitalism had two sides, the productive side where people earned their income and the parasitic side where the rentiers lived off unearned income. The Classical Economists had shown that most at the top of society were just parasites feeding off the productive activity of everyone else. ..."
"... The early neoclassical economists hid the problems of rentier activity in the economy by removing the difference between "earned" and "unearned" income and they conflated "land" with "capital". They took the focus off the cost of living that had been so important to the Classical Economists to hide the effects of rentier activity in the economy. ..."
"... The landowners, landlords and usurers were now just productive members of society again. It they left banks and debt out of economics no one would know the bankers created the money supply out of nothing. Otherwise, everyone would see how dangerous it was to let bankers do what they wanted if they knew the bankers created the money supply through their loans. ..."
"... The cost of living = housing costs + healthcare costs + student loan costs ..."
"... An unexpected consequence of globalization is that a lot of people see how thing are done, elsewhere. ..."
"... Part of me doesn't feel sorry at all for the plight of middle-class Americans. When times were good they were happy to throw poor and working-class people under the bus. I remember when the common answer to complaints about factory closings was "you should have gotten an education, dummy." Now that the white-collar middle class can see that they are next on the chopping block they are finding their populist soul. ..."
Jul 26, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

It wasn't supposed to be like this.

The children of America's white-collar middle class viewed life from their green lawns and tidy urban flats as a field of opportunity. Blessed with quality schools, seaside vacations and sleepover camp, they just knew that the American dream was theirs for the taking if they hit the books, picked a thoughtful and fulfilling career, and just, well, showed up.

Until it wasn't.

While they were playing Twister and imagining a bright future, someone apparently decided that they didn't really matter. Clouds began to gather -- a "dark shimmer of constantly shifting precariousness," as journalist Alissa Quart describes in her timely new book " Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America ."

The things these kids considered their birthright -- reputable colleges, secure careers, and attractive residences -- were no longer waiting for them in adulthood.

Today, with their incomes flat or falling, these Americans scramble to maintain a semblance of what their parents enjoyed. They are moving from being dominant to being dominated. From acting to acted upon. Trained to be educators, lawyers, librarians, and accountants, they do work they can't stand to support families they rarely see. Petrified of being pushed aside by robots, they rankle to see financial titans and tech gurus flaunting their obscene wealth at every turn.

Headlines gush of a humming economy, but it doesn't feel like a party to them -- and they've seen enough to know who will be holding the bag when the next bubble bursts.

The "Middle Precariats," as Quart terms them, are suffering death by a thousand degradations. Their new reality: You will not do as well as your parents . Life is a struggle to keep up. Even if you achieve something, you will live in fear of losing it. America is not your land: it belongs to the ultra-rich.

Much of Quart's book highlights the mirror image of the downwardly mobile middle class Trump voters from economically strained regions like the Midwest who helped throw a monkey wrench into politics-as-usual. In her tour of American frustration, she talks to urbanites who lean liberal and didn't expect to find themselves drowning in debt and disappointment. Like the falling-behind Trump voters, these people sense their status ripped away, their hopes dashed.

If climbing up the ladder of success is the great American story, slipping down it is the quintessential tragedy. It's hard not to take it personally: the ranks of the Middle Precariat are filled with shame.

They are somebodies turning into nobodies.

And there signs that they are starting to revolt. If they do, they could make their own mark on the country's political landscape.

The Broken Bourgeoisie

Quart's book takes a sobering look at the newly unstable bourgeoisie, illustrating what happens when America's off-the-rails inequality blasts over those who always believed they would end up winners.

There's the Virginia accountant who forks over nearly 90% of her take home pay on care for her three kids; the Chicago adjunct professor with the disabled child who makes less than $24,000 a year; and the California business reporter who once focused on the financial hardships of others and now faces unemployment herself.

There are Uber-driving teachers and law school grads reviewing documents for $20 an hour -- or less. Ivy Leaguers who live on food stamps.

Lacking unions, church communities and nearby close relatives to support them, the Middle Precariats are isolated and stranded. Their labor has sputtered into sporadic contingency: they make do with short-term contracts or shift work. (Despite the much-trumpeted low unemployment rate, the New York Times reports that jobs are often subpar, featuring little stability and security). Once upon a time, only the working poor took second jobs to stay afloat. Now the Middle Precariat has joined them.

Quart documents the desperate measures taken by people trying to keep up appearances, relying on 24/7 "extreme day care" to accommodate unpredictable schedules or cobbling together co-living arrangements to cut household costs. They strain to provide things like academic tutors and sports activities for their kids who must compete with the children of the wealthy. Deep down, they know that they probably can't pass down the cultural and social class they once took for granted.

Quart cites a litany of grim statistics that measure the quality of their lives, like the fact that a middle-class existence is now 30% more expensive than it was twenty years ago, a period in which the price of health care and the cost of a four-year degree at a public college nearly doubled.

Squeezed is especially detailed on the plight of the female Middle Precariat, like those who have the effrontery to procreate or grow older. With the extra burdens of care work, pregnancy discrimination, inadequate family leave, and wage disparities, (not to mention sexual harassment, a subject not covered), women get double squeezed. For women of color, often lacking intergenerational wealth to ease the pain, make that a triple squeeze.

The Middle Precariat in middle age is not a pretty sight: without union protection or a reliable safety net they endure lost jobs, dwindled savings, and shattered identities. In one of the saddest chapters, Quart describes how the pluckiest try reinvent themselves in their 40s or 50s, enrolling in professional courses and certification programs that promise another shot at security, only to find that they've been scammed by greedy college marketers and deceptive self-help mavens who leave them more desperate than before.

Quart notes that even those making decent salaries in the United States now see themselves barred from the club of power and wealth. They may have illiquid assets like houses and retirement accounts, but they still see themselves as financially struggling. Earning $100,000 sounds marvelous until you've forked over half to housing and 30% to childcare. Each day is one bit of bad luck away from disaster.

"The spectacular success of the 0.1 percent, a tiny portion of society, shows just how stranded, stagnant, and impotent the current social system has made the middle class -- even the 10 percent who are upper-middle class," Quart writes.

Quart knows that the problems of those who seem relatively privileged compared many may not garner immediate sympathy. But she rightly notes that their stresses are a barometer for the concentration of extreme wealth in some American cities and the widening chasm between the very wealthy and everybody else.

The Dual Economy

The donor-fed establishment of both political parties could or would not see this coming, but some prescient economists have been sounding the alarm.

In his 2016 book The Vanishing Middle Class , MIT economist Peter Temin detailed how the U.S. has been breaking up into a "dual economy" over the last several decades, moving toward a model that is structured economically and politically more like a developing nation -- a far cry from the post-war period when the American middle class thrived.

In dual economies, the rich and the rest part ways as the once-solid middle class begins to disappear. People are divided into separate worlds in the kinds of jobs they hold, the schools their kids attend, their health care, transportation, housing, and social networks -- you name it. The tickets out of the bottom sector, like a diploma from a first-rate university, grow scarce. The people of the two realms become strangers.

French economist Thomas Picketty provided a stark formula for what happens capitalism is left unregulated in his 2015 bestseller, Capital in the Twenty-First Century . It goes like this: when the rate of return on the investments of the wealthy exceeds the rate of growth in the overall economy, the rich get exponentially richer while everyone becomes poorer. In more sensible times, like the decades following WWII, that rule was mitigated by an American government that forced the rich pay their share of taxes, curbed the worst predations of businesses, and saw to it that roads, bridges, public transit, and schools were built and maintained.

But that's all a fading memory. Under the influence of political money, politicians no longer seek a unified economy and society where the middle class can flourish. As Quart observes, the U.S. is the richest and also the most unequal country in the world, featuring the largest wealth inequality gap of the two hundred countries in the Global Wealth Report of 2015.

Who is to Blame?

Over and over, the people Quart interviews tend to blame themselves for their situation -- if only they'd chosen a different career, lived in another city, maybe things wouldn't have turned out this way. Sometimes they point the finger at robots and automation, though they arguably have much more to fear from the wealthy humans who own the robots.

But some are waking up to the fact it is the wealthy and their purchased politicians who have systematically and deliberately stripped them of power. Deprivations like paltry employee rights, inadequate childcare, ridiculously expensive health care, and non-existent retirement security didn't just happen . Abstract words like deregulation and globalization become concrete: somebody actually did this to you by promoting policies that leave you high and dry.

As Quart indicates, understanding this is the first step to a change of consciousness, and her book is part of this shift.

Out of this consciousness, many individuals and organizations are working furiously and sometimes ingeniously to alter the negative trajectory of the Middle Precariat. Quart outlines proposals and developments like small-scale debt consolidation, student debt forgiveness, adequately subsidized day care, and non-traditional unions that could help.

America also has a track record of broad, fundamental solutions that have already proven to work. Universal basic income may sound attractive, but we already have a program that could improve the lot of the middle class if expanded: Social Security.

Right now, a worker stops having to pay Social Security tax on any earnings beyond $128,400 -- a number that is unreasonably low because the rich wish to keep it so. Just by raising that cap, we could the lower the retirement age so that Americans in their 60s would not have greet customers at Walmart. More opportunities would open up to younger workers.

The Middle Precariat could be forgiven for suspecting that the overlords of Silicon Valley may have something other than altruism in mind when they tout universal basic income. Epic tax evaders, they stand to benefit from pushing the responsibility for their low-paid workers and the inadequate safety net and public services that they helped create onto ordinary taxpayers.

Beyond basic income lies a basic fact: the American wealthy do not pay their share in taxes. In fact, American workers pay twice as much in taxes as wealthy investors. That's why infrastructure crumbles, schools deteriorate, and sane health care and childcare are not available.

Most Americans realize that inequality has to be challenged through the tax code: a 2017 Gallup poll shows that the majority think that the wealthy and corporations don't pay enough. Politicians, of course, ignore this to please their donors.

And so the Middle Precariat, like the Trump voters, is getting fed up with them.

From Depressed to Energized

Quart astutely points out that income inequality is being written into the law of the land. Funded the efforts of billionaires like the Koch brothers, politicians have altered laws and constitutions across the country to cement the dual economy through everything from restricting voting rights to defunding public education.

Several Middle Precariats in Squeezed have turned to independent or renegade candidates like Bernie Sanders who offer broad, substantial programs like debt-free college and universal health care that address the fissures in their lives. They are listening to candidates who are not afraid to say that markets should work for human beings, not the other way around.

If Donald Trump's political rise "can be understood as an expression of the gulf between middle-class citizens and America's ruling classes," as Quart observes, then the recent surge of non-establishment Democratic candidates, especially democratic socialists, may be the next phase of a middle class revolt.

Recent surprise victories in Pennsylvania and New York in the Democratic primaries by female candidates openly embracing democratic socialism, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who bested Democratic stalwart Joe Crowley by running for Congress on a platform of free Medicare and public college tuition for all, may not be the blip that establishment Democrats hope. In New York, democratic socialist Julia Salazar is looking to unseat long-time state senator Martin Dilan. Actress Cynthia Nixon , running against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, has just proclaimed herself a democratic socialist and promises to raise taxes on the rich and boost funding for public schools. Michelle Goldberg recently announced in the New York Times that " The Millenial Socialists are Coming ," indicating the intense dislike of traditional politics in urban centers. These young people do not think of things like debt-free college or paid family leave as radical: they see it done elsewhere in the world and don't accept that it can't be done in America.

Historically, the more affluent end of the middle class tends to identify with and support the wealthy. After all, they might join their ranks one day. But when this dream dies, the formerly secure may decide to throw their lot in with the rest of the Precariats. That's when you have the chance for a real mass movement for change.

Of course, people have to recognize their common circumstances and fates. The urban denizens of New York and San Francisco have to see what they have in common with middle class Trump voters from the Rust Belt, as well as working class Americans and everybody else who is not ultra-rich.

If the growing ranks of Precariats can work together, maybe it won't take a natural catastrophe or a war or violent social upheaval to change America's unsustainable course of gross inequality. Because eventually, something has to give.


Sergey P , July 26, 2018 at 3:42 am

I think one crucial thing that has to change is the culture of extreme individualization.

Professed as a right for individual freedom and empowerment, in reality it serves to suppress disobedience with shame. If you earn like shit -- it's gotta be because YOU are shit. Just try harder. Don't you see those OTHER kids that did well!

Part of the blame is on New Age with it's quazi-buddhist narrative: basically, everything is perfect, and if you don't feel it that way, it's because you are tainted with envy or weakness.

Thus what is in fact a heavily one-sided battle -- is presented as a natural order of things.

I believe we need a new framework. A sort of mix of Marx and Freud: study of the subconscious of the social economy. The rich not just HAPPEN to be rich. They WANT to be rich. Which means that in some way they NEED others to be poor.

Of course, I'm generalizing. And some rich are just really good at what they do. These rich will indeed trickle down, they will increase the well-being of people. But there are others. People working in insurance and finance. And as their role in the economy grows -- as does their role in politics, their power. They want to have more, while others would have less.

But behind it all are not rational thoughts, not efficiency, but psychological trauma, pain of the soul. Without addressing these matters, we will not be able to change the world.

I'm sorry if my thoughts are somewhat fragmented. It's just something I've been thinking of a lot since I started reading NC, discovering MMT and heterodox approaches in general.

athena , July 26, 2018 at 6:06 am

I enjoyed reading your thoughts, and completely agree with them all. :)

NotTimothyGeithner , July 26, 2018 at 7:53 am

The problem is the perception the Democratic Party is reliable as a partner. The culture wasn't a problem in 2008 when the Democratic candidate was perceived as wanting to raise taxes, pass universal health care, and end the wars.

Louis Fyne , July 26, 2018 at 8:53 am

====Part of the blame is on New Age with it's quazi-buddhist narrative: basically, everything is perfect, and if you don't feel it that way, it's because you are tainted with envy or weakness.

Adam Curtis touched about this (and the 50's/60's "self-actualization movement) in his TV documentary "Century of Self." if i recall correctly. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=century+of+self

That's where I first heard of this theoretical link. I think that it's flat out right and post-WWII psycho-babble has seeped into society in pernicious ways (along with everything else, breakdown of nuclear family, etc). Unfortunately, can't prove it like Euclid.

Urizenik , July 26, 2018 at 9:00 am

"A sort of mix of Marx and Freud"– the " Frankfurt School " is a start, with the realization of "the culture industry" as force majeure in the "heavily one-sided battle." And ditto recommendation of "The Century of the Self."

MC , July 26, 2018 at 10:16 am

There's also Zizek.

Left in Wisconsin , July 26, 2018 at 1:00 pm

Both good suggestions.

Responding to Sergey P:
I think one crucial thing that has to change is the culture of extreme individualisation.

There are really only two alternatives to individualism. There is Durkheim-ian "society," in which we are all in this together – interdependent. I think this is still an appropriate lens for a lot of smaller cities and communities where people really do still know each other and everyone wants the community to thrive. And, of course, it is the only way to think about human society nested inside a finite Earth. But it can only work on a larger scale through mediating "institutions" or "associations." All the evidence shows, consistent with the piece, that precariousness by itself weakens social institutions – people have less time and money to contribute to making them work well.

And then there is Marx-ian "class." Which is to say, we are not all individuals but we are not all of one group. There are different groups with different interests and, not infrequently, the interests of different groups are opposed – what is good for one is bad for another – and if power is unequal between groups (either because some groups as groups have more power than others or because individuals with more power all have the same group affinity), then powerful groups will use that power to oppress others. In that case, the only remedy is to try to systematically empower the weak and/or disempower the strong. This also requires collective action – institutions, associations, government – and it is again noted that our collective institutions, most notably unions, have been seriously weakened in the last 40-60 years.

The real world doesn't always fit into neat categories. Trump's America First is an appeal to the "society" of USAmerica. Maybe there will be some improvements for working people. But the argument in the piece, perhaps not as clearly stated as I would like, is that the interests of the (former) middle class – as a class – have diverged from the interests of the upper class. Changing that equation requires collective action.

DolleyMadison , July 26, 2018 at 3:02 pm

Well said

Redlife2017 , July 26, 2018 at 5:08 am

Naturally one must quote the great Frank Herbert from his novel Dune:

"Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them."

Or shorter: Follow the money.

Jim Haygood , July 26, 2018 at 5:49 am

'We already have a program that could improve the lot of the middle class if expanded: Social Security.'

Never mind expanding it -- even the existing Social Security program is less than 20% funded, headed for zero in 2034 according to its trustees. Scandalously, these trustees owe no fiduciary duty to beneficiaries. Old Frank wanted pensioners to be forever dependent on his D party. How did that work out for us?

Take a look at the transmittal letter for the 2018 trustees report, released last month. Two public trustee positions are "VACANT," just as they were in last year's transmittal letter:

https://ibb.co/mwsxuT

Just above these blank spaces is the signature of one Nancy Berryhill, "Acting Commissioner of Social Security." But wait --

On March 6, 2018, the Government Accountability Office stated that as of November 17, 2017, Berryhill's status violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which limits the time a position can be filled by an acting official; "[t]herefore Ms. Berryhill was not authorized to continue serving using the title of Acting Commissioner after November 16." Berryhill declared, "Moving forward, I will continue to lead the agency from my position of record, Deputy Commissioner of Operations."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy_Berryhill

By June 5th, Berryhill was still impersonating the Acting Commissioner, legally or not.

Summing up, even the trustees' one-page transmittal letter shows that Social Security is treated as a total and complete Third World joke by the US federal government.

YankeeFrank , July 26, 2018 at 8:34 am

Yeah, yeah. Gubmint can't do nuthin' rite. How about we take our government back from the plutocrats and set SS on solid footing again. There are no impediments other than the will of the people to use our power. Now that the Boomers are moving off all sorts of things, like 'thinking', and 'logic', will become prevalent again.

Kurtismayfield , July 26, 2018 at 8:44 am

Never mind expanding it -- even the existing Social Security program is less than 20% funded, headed for zero in 2034 according to its trustees. Scandalously, these trustees owe no fiduciary duty to beneficiaries. Old Frank wanted pensioners to be forever dependent on his D party. How did that work out for us?

Correct, then the system will eventually be totally reliant on taxes coming in. According to 2011 OASDI Trustees Report

Beginning in 2023, trust fund assets will diminish until they become exhausted in 2036. Non-interest income is projected to be sufficient to support expenditures at a level of 77 percent of scheduled benefits after trust fund exhaustion in 2036, and then to decline to 74 percent of scheduled benefits in 2085

The benefits are never going to go completely away, the benefits will decrease if nothing is done. Things can be done to change this, such as an increasing the the cap on earnings, raising new revenues, etc. This is not exactly an "end of the world" scenario for SSI.

Also, no one complained when the excess SSI tax collected "Social security trust fund" was used to keep interest rates down by purchasing Government bonds.

Jamie , July 26, 2018 at 11:03 am

The whole tax angle is a complete red herring. Raising the cap is not the answer. FICA is "the most regressive tax" the country imposes. Eliminating FICA altogether, doing away with the "trust fund" and the pretense that SS is not the government taking care of it's elderly citizens but is workers taking care of themselves, is the answer. If the emphasis in Quart's book on the rise of a new democratic socialism means anything, it means reconciling with the notion that it is OK for the government to take measures to ensure the welfare of the people. Pay-as-you-go SS can become simply the re-assumption of our collective responsibility to take care of our own, as a society, not as individuals.

Kurtismayfield , July 26, 2018 at 11:29 am

I would be fine with that if I could trust the Federal government to do the right thing. The problem is that we have too many people invested in the system, and I don't trust the Federal government to not screw people over in a new system. You know what will happen, they will set up a two tiered system where people over a certain age will keep their benefits, and the new people will get a system that is completely crapified or means tested.

kgw , July 26, 2018 at 11:39 am

Well-put The only way to eliminate the constant refrain of "but SS is (insert blithering comment on entitlement spending), is to shift resources to people rather than armies for the SuperRich.

Anon , July 26, 2018 at 2:02 pm

Yeah, more Butter–Less Guns!

(Now how do we stop the media hysteria about those big,bad Enemies -- Russia?!)

JCC , July 26, 2018 at 9:52 am

So we should just ignore the fact that our own Govt has "borrowed" $2.8 Trillion, at least, from the SS Trust Fund so far and can't (won't) pay it back?

This "borrowing" should be illegal and I believe that "Old Frank" would be rolling in his grave if he knew that would happen.

And I sincerely doubt his intentions were to get SS on the books in order to keep us beholden to the Dem Party. And if that were true it is obvious that his party doesn't agree. If they did they wouldn't be assisting in gutting the program.

Grumpy Engineer , July 26, 2018 at 11:00 am

The whole concept of creating and maintaining a multi-trillion dollar "trust fund" was irrevocably flawed. When the surplus payroll taxes were "invested" in government bonds, they entered the government's general fund and were promptly spent. The money is gone. That's why it's on the books as a debt owed to the Social Security administration. There are no actual assets behind the fund. It's just one part of the government owing money to another part of the government.

However, what would the alternative have been? Investing in the crap shoot known as the US stock market? No thanks. Or setting the funds aside in a bank account, where they would cease circulating through the economy? That wouldn't have worked either, as all dollars in circulation would have eventually ended up there, causing massive deflation.

None of these are workable. We should have gone on a strictly pay-as-you-go basis. If payroll taxes generated more revenue than was necessary, we should have cut payroll taxes and/or raised benefits. And if they fall short, we should raise payroll taxes and/or cut benefits.

Today, we cover about 95% of benefits with payroll taxes. The remainder comes from "trust fund redemptions", where general fund monies are given to the SSA to cover the shortfall. Given that our government is already running a deficit, this means more borrowing (or money-printing, depending on how you look at things).

When the "trust fund" is depleted, but SSA will lack the legal authority to claim any more general fund monies, but it would be quite easy for Congress to change the rules to simply state that "any SSA shortfall will be covered by the general fund". And I predict they will do so in 2034, as it would take less than a month of constituents complaining about reduced benefits to force even the strictest of deficit hawks to cave.

Or maybe they'll get creative and instead raise rates on the interest that the trust fund earns. Right now it's a 3% rate, but if Congress were to double or triple it, the trust fund would last much longer. [As would the debt owed to the SSA.] Heck, if they multiplied the interest rate by a factor of 11, then they could theoretically dispense with payroll taxes entirely. Right?

Spring Texan , July 26, 2018 at 1:15 pm

Yes, SS has contributed NOT ONE PENNY to the deficit and the reason it accumulated a surplus was so people could collect later. Now, they want to say that old surplus shouldn't count. That's thievery.

Milton , July 26, 2018 at 10:37 pm

tired old tripe and how much is the US military funded? I can answer that for you. It's ZERO. 0% funded! Take your heterodox BS to a bunch of freshman impressionables – it is only tolerated here because you are a fine writer and interesting as hell and know almost all there is about economic liberalism.

ObjectiveFunction , July 26, 2018 at 6:44 am

Wow. So let's go full SSCodex for a bit and push this trend out to the limit.

While the unwashed masses remain a market for big Ag, big Pharma, big Auto, big (online) Retail, and a few others, it seems like the predatory 'fund' segment of the FIRE elite has moved on to devouring larger prey (capitalist autophagy?). The unbankable precariat are beneath their notice now, like pennies on the sidewalk.

So in that case, the 1% of the 0.1% has evolved beyond 'exploitation' in any Marxist sense. It is now indifferent to the very life or death of the precariat, at home or abroad, still less their security or advancement. It needs them neither for consuming nor producing, nor for building ziggurats.

(Just so long as the pitchforks aren't out – but that's what the credentialed minion 20% is for. And drones).

Here Disposables, have some more plastic and painkillers. Be assured the Alphas will be live tweeting the Pandemic, or Chicxulub 2.0, from Elon's luxury robot-serviced survival capsules (oh, you thought those were for use on Mars? Silly rabble!)

It's like that DKs mosh pit classic: "Uncounted millions whisked away / the rich will have more room to play"

[I exaggerate, of course, for illustration. Slightly.]

Musicismath , July 26, 2018 at 7:29 am

I think you can extend this analysis to the current U.K. Conservative Party. Commentators have started to notice that the Brexiteer wing of the party seems completely impervious to claims Brexit will harm the economy. Are the Tories no longer the natural party of British business, they ask?

Using your logic, we can say that a fund-interest-dominated Tory party simply has no interest in or need for the "ordinary" bits of the British business community anymore. What it wants are shorting and raiding opportunities, and from that vantage point a catastrophic Brexit is very attractive. Put these interests in coalition with a voter base largely living on guaranteed incomes and retirement funds of one sort or another and you have the surreal spectacle of an entire governing party and its supporters who are no longer anchored to the "real" economy at all. Yes, it's an exaggeration but it's an exaggeration that explains a few things, I think.

athena , July 26, 2018 at 7:47 am

You both need to read the 2005 leaked Citigroup "plutonomy memo", if you haven't yet. Very bright minds called it a decade ago, that the global economy isn't even an economy any longer in any traditional sense. This is part one: https://delong.typepad.com/plutonomy-1.pdf

ObjectiveFunction , July 26, 2018 at 8:47 am

"Plutonomy" sounds like some nasal epithet out of a Goebbels speech: " die Plutonomisten und Bolshewisten! "

sharonsj , July 26, 2018 at 4:59 pm

Great link. From page one, Citigroup thinks the global imbalance is a great opportunity. Nothing new here. For years I've been reading about stock and futures manipulations–and vulture capitalists–that cause people to die or kill themselves. The rich don't care; they see it as a way to make more money. And then you wonder why I've been talking revolution for years as well?

Louis Fyne , July 26, 2018 at 8:09 am

"Who is to Blame?"

Answer: Add the US wasting its blood and cash meddling in other countries' affairs. "honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none." bueller ?

Ironic as multilateralist/globalist/fan of US interventions George Soros supposedly provided some of the seed money for the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

athena , July 26, 2018 at 8:17 am

I don't think Soros is diabolical or sadistic. He's just, let's say, "neurologically eccentric" and unimaginably wealthy.

chris , July 26, 2018 at 8:40 am

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iipn6yM43sM

athena , July 26, 2018 at 9:25 am

I just want to not die earlier than necessary because I can't afford health care. I'd also like to stop worrying that I'll spend my golden years homeless and starving because of some disaster headed my way. I gave up on status a long time ago, and am one of those mentioned who has little pity for the top 10%.

ChiGal in Carolina , July 26, 2018 at 11:52 am

Ditto

John B , July 26, 2018 at 8:50 am

Sounds like a good book. I shall have to pick it up from my library, since buying new books is a stretch.

Nearly all income growth in the United States since the 1970s has gone into income obtained by the rich other than wages and salaries, like capital gains, stock options, dividends, partnership distributions, etc. To capture overall economic growth to which the entire society has contributed, Social Security benefits should be tied to economic growth, smoothed for the business cycle. If people believe benefit increases require tax increases, the tax should be applied to all earnings, not just salary/wages. Raising the $128,400 cap on income subject to SS taxes would thus increase taxes on the lower rungs of the upper middle class but not really address the problem.

Daniel F. , July 26, 2018 at 9:32 am

I apologise in advance for being blunt and oversimplifying the matter, but at the end of the day, (in my very humble and possibly uninformed opinion) nothing short of a mass beheading would work. The 0.1% doesn't really seem, uh, willing to let go of their often ill-gotten billions, and when they do (i.e. charities and such), they often end up being some kind of scam. I refuse to believe that the Zuckerberg-types operate their foundations out of genuine philanthropy. Acquisitions and mergers like Disney buying Fox or Bayer gobbling up Monsanto don't contribute anything to the well-being of the 99% either, and I think that's and understatement.

If there's going to be some kind of revolution, it needs to happen before the logical conclusion of rampaging capitalism. the OCP-type megacorp with its own private army. And, if there indeed is a revolution, what's next?

nycTerrierist , July 26, 2018 at 9:47 am

nice gesture:

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jul/25/betsy-devos-yacht-untied-causing-10000-damages/

Michael Fiorillo , July 26, 2018 at 10:14 am

Case in point: as a public school teacher who has been opposing so-called education reform for two decades, I can assure you that the "venture/vulture philanthropy" model that infests the education world has absolutely nothing to do with improving education, and everything to do with busting the teachers unions, privatizing the schools and turning them into drilling grounds for training young people to accept the subordination, surveillance, tedium and absurdity that awaits them in the workplace. For those lucky enough to have jobs.

As a result of this phenomena, I periodically suggest a new term on the education blogs I post on: "Malanthropy:" the process of of using tax exempt, publicly subsidized entities to directly and indirectly support your financial and political interests, but which are harmful to the public good"

Newton Finn , July 26, 2018 at 9:36 am

Clear and compelling analysis, although still a little MMT challenged. About to turn 70, I vividly remember living through a sudden sea change in American capitalism. In the late 1970s/early 80s, whatever undercurrents of patriotism and humanitarianism that remained within the postwar economy (and had opened the space for the middle class) evaporated, and almost overnight we were living in a culture without any sense of balance or proportion, a virulent and violent mindset that maxed out everything and knew not the meaning of enough. Not only the business world but also the personal world was infected by this virus, as ordinary people no longer dreamed of achieving a healthy and stable family life but rather became hellbent to "succeed" and get rich. Empathy, compassion, and commitment to social justice was no longer cool, giving way to self-interest and self-promotion as the new "virtues." Men, of course, led the way in this devolution, but there was a time in the 90s when almost every other woman I knew was a real estate agent. I touched upon a small male-oriented piece of this social devolution in an essay I wrote several years ago: Would Paladin Have Shot Bin Laden? For those who might be intrigued, here's the link:

https://newtonfinn.com/2011/12/15/would-paladin-have-shot-bin-laden/

The Rev Kev , July 26, 2018 at 10:06 am

What was needed was a Wyatt Earp, not a Paladin ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgvxu8QY01s ). His standard procedure in the old West was to use his Colt revolver to pistol-whip an offender. Short, sharp and effective.
But then again there was no way that Bin Laden was ever going to be taken prisoner. That bit on his resume as being a contractor for the CIA was a bit embarrassing after all.

Brooklin Bridge , July 26, 2018 at 10:49 am

I remember the 50's and even under the hue of bright eyes saw that people were just as hell bent to 'get ahead' in their careers as now and that competing with 'the Joneses' in every crude way imaginable was the rage.

Perhaps more precise to say that in the early '80s, Capitalism reached a tipping point where gravity overcame thrust and virtues with latent vice became vices with the optics of virtue. That and the fact that the right actors always seem available -as if out of thin air, but in reality very much part of cause and effect – for a given state of entropy.

Newton Finn , July 26, 2018 at 12:22 pm

No doubt what was somewhat latent in postwar American capitalism became obscenely blatant in or around the Reagan era. It was all there before, of course, in former times like the Gilded Age. But in the midsize, now rustbelt city I grew up in and continue to live in, the upper middle class of my childhood and youth–the doctors, lawyers, corporate exec's, etc.–lived a few blocks away from my working class neighborhood, had nicer homes, drove caddys instead of chevys, and so forth, but their kids went to school with us working class kids, went to the same movies and dances, hung out in the same places, and all of us, generally, young and old, lived in essentially the same world. For example, my uncle, a lawyer, made maybe 3 times what my dad, a factory clerk, made. THAT was the split between the middle and upper middle class back then, at least in a fairly typical Midwestern city. THAT was what drastically and suddenly changed in the late 70s/early 80s and has only intensified thereafter.

BrianStegner , July 26, 2018 at 10:05 am

Terrific article, but with so many "missing" words (words left out)–too many to list, gratis–you make it a serious challenge to consider sharing with literate friends on social media. Seriously, doesn't anyone re-read their work before "posting?"

Expat2uruguay , July 26, 2018 at 10:28 am

Well, at least the missing words in this piece don't make sentences unintelligible. I've seen that happen before.

It's such a shame for authors to put so much work time and effort into their articles, but then allow the lack of an editor or final read-through to tarnish the entire work.

ChiGal in Carolina , July 26, 2018 at 11:40 am

If they're so literate, they can fill in the missing words as the NC commentariat has apparently done with no difficulty.

The substance is well worth sharing, and widely.

David Miller , July 26, 2018 at 10:11 am

One thing that strikes me – a generation ago the talking-point robots of the right could decry "socialized medicine" and all those people supposedly dying while waiting for an operation in foreign, "socialized medicine" places. And they could largely get away with it because relatively few people had personal acquaintances outside their own area.

But now, anyone active in social media probably can interact freely with people all over the world and appreciate how pathetic things really are in the US.

I read on a sports-related forum where an English guy had been watching Breaking Bad and commented offhand that he was amazed at the cost of medical treatment for Mr. White. This turned into a discussion between Brits and Yanks about the NHS. And person after person chimed in "yeah, NHS is not perfect but this kind of thing could never happen here." And you saw the Americans – "yeah, our health care system really is a disgrace."

I'm not a big fan of the social media Borg in general, but here at least seems to be a good effect. It might over time enable more people to wake up as to how jacked up certain things are here.

Eureka Springs , July 26, 2018 at 10:16 am

I'd like to declare us a completely divided, conquered people.

In the last few weeks I've visited with many old friends all of them suffering in silence. Each and every one falling further behind, on the brink of disaster, if not already there. No matter their credentials, many highly credentialed with multiple degrees and or highly experienced in several fields. All with ridiculously high work ethics. All feel maintaining personal integrity is costing them an ability to 'get ahead'.

Many of these friends have multiple jobs, no debt, no car payment, some have insurance which is killing them, medical bills which bury them if they ever have so much as basic health issues, and they are thrifty, from the clothes they wear to the amount of rent they commit themselves. And yet 'staying afloat', is but a dream trumped by guilt and isolationism.

I often joke with my fellow country neighbors that it costs a hundred bucks to simply leave the house. It's not a joke anymore. At this point those still fighting for a paltry 15.00 should include a hundred dollar per day walk out your front door per diem.

A couple months back I gave my camper to an old acquaintance who had no record, found himself homeless after being falsely accused of a crime and locked up for two months. And another friend with full time management position, just gave up her apartment to move into a tent in another friends back yard. Both of these people are bright, hard working, mid forties, white, family peeps with great children. The very kind this article addresses.

The noose tightens and people are committing desperate acts. There is no solidarity. No vision of a way out of this.

Watch a ten dollar parking ticket bring a grown man to terror in their eyes. And he brought in a thousand bucks last week, but has been texting his landlord about past due rent all afternoon.

I feel like I'm on the brink of a million episodes of " Falling Down ".

ChiGal in Carolina , July 26, 2018 at 11:50 am

Indeed. But as consciousness is raised as to the real causes (not personal failure, not robots taking over), hopefully solidarity will grow.

Wonderful article, definitely want to read the book.

John , July 26, 2018 at 11:56 am

I don't think the 0.1% wanted to build a society like this, it is just the way the math works. Somewhere around 1980 the integrity of the US was lost and it became possible for the owning class to divorce themselves from their neighbors and arbitrage labor around the world. Computers and telecommunications made it possible to manage a global supply chain and Republicans changed the tax rules to make it easier to shut down businesses and move them overseas.

A different way to view this: as the wealthy earn profits they can use some of their cash to modify the rules to their benefit. Then they gain more cash which allows them to influence voters and politicians to modify the rules even more in their favor.

If people organized they could change the rules in their favor, but that rarely happens. We used to have unions (imperfect though they were) which lobbied for the working class.

sharonsj , July 26, 2018 at 5:09 pm

I think the 1980s was when I found out my wealthy cousins, who owned a clothing factory in Georgia, had moved it to–get ready for this–Borneo! And of course they are Republicans.

Louis , July 26, 2018 at 10:17 am

The collective decisions to pull up the drawbridge, and a lot middle-class people have supported these decisions are the major reason why there is a housing crisis and higher-education is so expensive.

A lot of people, especially middle-class people, come out with pitchforks every time a new housing development is proposed, screaming about how they don't want "those people" living near them and will vehemently oppose anything that isn't single-family homes which has resulted in the housing supply lagging behind demand, thus affordability issues.

These same people over the years have decided that tax-cuts are more important than adequately funding higher education, so higher education has become a lot more expensive as state support has dwindled.

As the saying goes you made you bed, now you get to sleep in it. Unfortunately so does the younger generation who may not have anything to do with the horrible decision making of the past.

John Wright , July 26, 2018 at 10:33 am

The article stated Americans are "Petrified of being pushed aside by robots".

Maybe I associate with the wrong people, but I don't know any who fear being pushed aside by robots.

But I do know of someone who was being laid off from a tech firm and was finding his job moved overseas.

The deal management presented was, "you can leave now, with your severance package, or get two more weeks pay by training your replacement who will be visiting from overseas."

He trained the new worker for the two weeks.

The American worker is being hit, not by robots, but by outsourcing to other countries and by in-sourcing of labor from other countries.

Robots are expensive and will be avoided if a human can do the job cheaply enough.

That the article brings "fear of robots" into the discussion is a tell that the writer does not want to mention that it is the competition from others in the world wide labor force that depress USA wages.

In the USA, we are witnessing labor arbitrage encouraged by both parties and much of the media as they push USA wages toward world wide levels.

But not for the elite wage earners who gain from this system.

FluffytheObeseCat , July 26, 2018 at 10:58 am

Agreed. The kind of pink collar and barely white collar employees this piece was focused on are not presently threatened by "robots". They are threatened by outsourcing and wage arbitrage.

Brooklin Bridge , July 26, 2018 at 11:11 am

That the article brings "fear of robots" into the discussion is a tell that the writer does not want to mention that it is the competition from others in the world wide labor force that depress USA wages.

You may have a point there, and you are spot on that the vast bulk of job-loss is due to job migration and import of cheaper labor. But regardless of the writer's intent or simple laziness, don't be too fast to poo-poo the effect of Robots.

One problem is that we tend to measure job loss and gain without reference to the actual job loosers and the fact that re-training for them may well be impossible or completely ineffective or, at the very minimum, often extremely painful. So while automation may provide as many new jobs as it takes away old ones, that is cold comfort indeed to the worker who gets left behind.

Another, is that the fear of massive job loss to Robots is almost certainly warranted even if not yet fully materialized.

ambrit , July 26, 2018 at 12:24 pm

When the "Steel Wave" of robot workers comes ashore, I'll be near the head of the queue to join the "Robo Luddites." If the owners of the robot hordes won't pay a fair share of the costs of their mechanominions worker displacement activities, then they should be made to pay an equivalent share in heightened "Production Facility Security Costs." Ford Motors and the River Rouge plant strike comes to mind.
See: http://98937119.weebly.com/strike-at-the-river-rouge-plant-1941.html

Todde , July 26, 2018 at 1:01 pm

The robots are going to be shooting back

Brooklin Bridge , July 26, 2018 at 1:35 pm

It'd be great to be right there with you on that fateful day, Ambrit :-) (And I've even got my gun with the little white flag that pops out and has "Bang!" written on it, all oiled up and ready to go). I suspect however that it will be a silent D Day that probably took place some time ago.

Hard Briexit looks to be baked in the cake
Global Warming disaster looks to be baked in the cake
Water wars look to be baked in the cake.
Massive impoverishment in developed and so called third world nations alike and insane 'last gasp' looting looks to be baked in the cake
[ ]
Why would all manner of robots, the ones too tiny to see along with human looking ones and giant factories that are in reality themselves robots be the exception?

ambrit , July 26, 2018 at 9:45 pm

We'd be facing robots, so that flag would have to go "Bang" in binary code. (Might even work. While they are trying to decipher the flag, we can switch their tubes of graphite lubricant with tubes of carborundum.)
When the technologically capable humans have all died off, will the robots perish likewise for lack of programmers?

G Roller , July 26, 2018 at 4:30 pm

"Robots" are software programs, do-it-yourself online appointments, voice recognition, "press 1 now." What's the point of retraining? All you're good for is to make sure the plug is in the wall.

Arizona Slim , July 26, 2018 at 12:02 pm

The act of training the overseas replacement could become an act of sabotage. Think of the ways that one could train the replacement to do the job incorrectly, more slowly than necessary, or not at all.

Brooklin Bridge , July 26, 2018 at 1:46 pm

Sabotage by miss-training.

In a lot of cases that doesn't require much 'intentional' effort. But the lure of cheap labor seems to conquer all. I've seen software companies take loss after loss on off-shore development team screw ups until they finally get it right. I even saw one such company go out of business trying rather than just calling it quits and going back to what was left of their core developers.

funemployed , July 26, 2018 at 12:19 pm

As I approach 40, having only realized in recent years that the constant soul-ache I've lived with my whole life is not some inherent flaw in my being, but a symptom of a deeply ill society, I desperately wish I could share in the glimmer of hope at the end of this post.

But I cannot. What drives me to despair is not the fragile, corrupt, and unsustainable social/political/economic system we're inheriting; nor is it the poisoned and increasingly harsh planet, nor the often silent epidemic of mental and emotional anguish that prevents so many of us from becoming our best selves. I retain great faith in the resilience and potential of the human spirit. And contrary to the stereotypes, I think my generation and those who have come after are often more intellectually and emotionally mature than our parents and grandparents. At the very least, we have a powerful sense of irony and highly tuned BS detectors.

What drives me to despair is so pathetically prosaic that I want to laugh and cry all at once as I type this. To put it as simply as I know how, a core function of all functional human societies is apprenticeship, by which I mean the basic process whereby deep knowledge and skills are transferred from the old to the young, where tensions between tradition and change are contested and resolved, and where the fundamental human need to develop a sense of oneself as a unique and valuable part of a community can flourish.

We have been commodified since before we were even born, to the point where opportunities for what Lave and Wenger would call "legitimate peripheral participation" in the kinds of work that yield real, humane, benefits to our communities are scant to nonexistent for most of us. Something has gone deeply awry in this core social function at the worst possible time in human history.

... ,,, ,,,

ChristopherJ , July 26, 2018 at 2:03 pm

thank you funemployed, perceptive

lyman alpha blob , July 26, 2018 at 3:31 pm

Sympathies from a fellow traveler – your experience sounds similar to mine. I'm a little older and in my 20s I avoided getting a 'real' job for all the reasons you describe. When I hit my 30s and saw what some of the guys who had been hanging out in the bar too long looked like, and decided I ought to at least try it and see how it would go.

Turns out my 20 year old self had been right.

Gayle , July 26, 2018 at 5:11 pm

"Some quirk of my psychology means doing those things creates an irresistible urge in me to slowly poison myself with alcohol and tobacco."

I think those things and drugs are conscience oblivators. Try gardening. Touch the earth. Grow actual food. Not hemp. Back away from the education racket. Good luck. Quit the poison.

David May , July 26, 2018 at 5:16 pm

That was a wonderful post, very moving, thank you. These kind of testimonies are very important because they show the real human cost of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is truly a death cult. Please find an alternative to alcohol. Music, art, nature, etc.

ChiGal in Carolina , July 26, 2018 at 7:08 pm

Thank you for sharing your compelling story. As someone who could be your mother, it is painful to me not only that this is your experience, but that you are so acutely aware of it. No blinders. Hence, I guess, the need for alcohol.

You write beautifully. Hope is hard to come by sometimes.

ambrit , July 26, 2018 at 9:58 pm

At least you are self aware. Most people are not. As for the Ship of Status, let it sink. Find a lifeboat where you feel comfortable and batten down for the Roaring (20)40s yet to come. Once you find something to work for, the bad habits will lose much of their hold on you. As long as you don't slide into alcoholism, you have a chance.

Unfettered Fire , July 26, 2018 at 12:25 pm

Life was kinder just 40 years ago, not perfect but way more mellow than it is today. Kids were listening to Peter Frampton and Stevie Wonder, not punk, grunge, rap and industrial music. What changed? Neoliberalism, the economic policy that is private sector "free market" driven, giving the owners of capital free, unfettered reign. Created by libertarians like Fredrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman, they sold it to the nation but failed to mention that little peccadillo about how privatization of government would usher in economic fascism.

"An extreme form of laissez-faire individualism that developed in the writings of Hayek, Friedman and Nozick they are also referred to as libertarians. They draw on the natural rights tradition of John Locke and champion's full autonomy and freedom of the individual."

What they meant was ECONOMIC freedom. They despise social freedom (democracy) because civil, labor, health, food safety, etc., rights and environmental protections put limits on their profits.

The "maximizing shareholder value" myth turns people into psychopaths . The entire neoliberal economic policy of the past 40 years is based on the false assumption that self-interest is the driving evolution of humanity. We're not all psychopaths, turns out. We're social beings that have mainly used cooperation to get us through these thousands of years of existence.

There's nothing wrong with wanting government to protect the public sector from predatory capitalists. Otherwise, society's value system turns upside down sick people are more valued than healthy violent are more valued to fill up the prison factories war becomes a permanent business a filthy, toxic planet is good for the oil industry a corporate governance with no respect for rights or environmental protections is the best capitalism can offer?

Thanks, but no thanks.

The easily manipulated right are getting the full assault. "Run for your lives! The democratic socialists want to use the government bank for everyone, not just the 1%!! They understand how the economy really works and see through our lies!! Before you know it, everyone will be enjoying a better quality of life! AAAAGHHH!!"

Even the IMF is getting a scolding for being so out-of-touch with reality. Isn't economics supposed to factor in conscience?

"If the IMF is to shake its image as an inward-looking, out-of-touch boys club, it needs to start taking the issue seriously. The effect of the male dominance in macroeconomics can be seen in the policy direction of the organisation: female economists are more likely to be in favour of Government-backed redistribution measures than their male counterparts.

Of course, the parochial way in which economics is perceived by the IMF, as nothing more than the application of mathematical models, is nothing new. In fact, this is how mainstream economics frequently is taught in universities all over the world. Is it any wonder that the IMF has turned out as it is?"

Michael Hudson, as usual, was right:

"Economics students are forced to spend so much time with this complex calculus so that they can go to work on Wall St. that there's no room in the course curriculum for the history of economic thought.

So all they know about Adam Smith is what they hear on CNN news or other mass media that are a travesty of what these people really said and if you don't read the history of economic thought, you'd think there's only one way of looking at the world and that's the way the mass media promote things and it's a propagandistic, Orwellian way.

The whole economic vocabulary is to cover up what's really happening and to make people think that the economy is getting richer while the reality is they're getting poorer and only the top is getting richer and they can only get rich as long as the middle class and the working class don't realize the scam that's being pulled off on them."

Newton Finn , July 26, 2018 at 5:10 pm

Unfettered Fire and funemployed: deeply appreciate your lengthy and heartfelt posts. It's a terribly small thing, but I have a suggestion to make that always helps me to feel a bit better about things or should I say to feel a bit better about the possibility of things. If you're game, and haven't already done so, search for the following free online book: "Equality" by Edward Bellamy. Then do no more than read the introduction and first chapter (and slightly into the second) to absorb by far the finest Socratic dialogue ever written about capitalism, socialism, and the only nonviolent way to move from the former to the latter–a way wide open to us, theoretically, right now. I know that's a hell of a qualifier.

Andrew Watts , July 26, 2018 at 12:54 pm

Why do modern intellectuals insist on inventing euphemisms for already known definitions? The middle precariat is merely another term for the petty bourgeoisie. While they may have possessed economic benefits like pensions and owned minuscule amounts of financial assets they were never the dominant ruling class. Their socioeconomic status was always closer in their livelihoods to the working class. After the working class was effectively being dismantled starting in the 1970s, it has become the petty bourgeoisie's turn to be systematically impoverished.

This is the primary economic development of our era of late capitalism. The question is, what does it mean to be American if this country is no longer a land of opportunity?

precariat , July 26, 2018 at 1:36 pm

Because the 'known definitions' do not apply anymore.

The middle has more in common with those below than those above. And here is the scary reason: everyone is to be preyed upon by the wealth extractors who dominate our politics/economy -- everyone. There is no social or educational allegieance, there is only a resource to be ruthlessly plundered, people and their ability to earn and secure.

Mel , July 26, 2018 at 1:44 pm

Right. It's hardly a euphemism. The Middle Precariat are the people in the 9.9% who will not be part of the 8.9%.

Andrew Watts , July 26, 2018 at 5:07 pm

The so-called precariat lacks any sense of class consciousness and as a consequence are incapable of any kind of solidarity. Nor do they perceive any predatory behavior in the economic system. If the article is to be believed they blame themselves for their plight. These traits which include the admiration and imitation of the rich are the hallmarks of the petty bourgeoisie.

This disagreement over semantics is an example of the shallowness and superficiality of new ideas. Marx already predicted that they'd be unceremoniously thrown into the underclass in later stages of economic development at any rate.

ProNewerDeal , July 26, 2018 at 1:16 pm

thanks for this article.

The BigMedia & BigPols ignore the Type 1 Overqualified Underemployed cohort. Perhaps hopefully someone like the new Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will discuss it, her recently being of this cohort as an economist by degree working as a bartender. Instead we have examples of BigMedia/BigPol crying about "STEM worker shortage" where there already are countless underemployed STEM workers working Uber-ish type McJobs.

Afaict the only occupations (mostly) immune to Type 1 Overqualified Underemployment risk here in Murica are medical pros: physicians/dentists/pharmacists & possibly nurses. Otherwise there are stories of PhD Uber drivers, MBA strippers, & lawyers working Apple store retail, especially in the first few years post 2008-GFC but still present now. In other words, the US labor market "new economy" is resembling "old economy" of Latin America or Russia (proverbial physicist selling trinkets on the Trans-Siberia railway).

precariat , July 26, 2018 at 1:24 pm

From Eureka Springs, this:

"I often joke with my fellow country neighbors that it costs a hundred bucks to simply leave the house. It's not a joke anymore. At this point those still fighting for a paltry 15.00 should include a hundred dollar per day walk out your front door per diem."

This is a stark and startling reality. This reality is outside the framework of understanding of economic struggle in America that is allowed by the corporate neoliberal culture/media.

Jean , July 26, 2018 at 1:34 pm

As the Precariat grows, having watched the .1% lie, cheat and steal – from them, they are more likely to also lie, cheat and steal in mortgage, employment and student loan applications and most importantly and sadly, in their dealings with each other. Everybody is turning into a hustler.

As to dealings with institutions, this comment is apt. I think this came from NC comments a couple of weeks ago. Apologies for not being able to attribute it to its author:

"Why should the worker be subservient to the employer? Citizens owe NO LOYALTY, moral or legal, to a someone else's money making enterprise. And that enterprise is strictly a product of signed commercial legal documents. Commercial enterprise has no natural existence. It is a man-made creation, and is a "privilege", not a "right"; just as a drivers license is a privilege and not an absolute right."

Sound of the Suburbs , July 26, 2018 at 1:38 pm

Economics was always far too dangerous to be allowed to reveal the truth about the economy. The Classical economist, Adam Smith, observed the world of small state, unregulated capitalism around him.

"The labour and time of the poor is in civilised countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The Landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his extractions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money. But every savage has the full fruits of his own labours; there are no landlords, no usurers and no tax gatherers."

How does this tie in with the trickledown view we have today? Somehow everything has been turned upside down.

The workers that did the work to produce the surplus lived a bare subsistence existence. Those with land and money used it to live a life of luxury and leisure.

The bankers (usurers) created money out of nothing and charged interest on it. The bankers got rich, and everyone else got into debt and over time lost what they had through defaults on loans, and repossession of assets.

Capitalism had two sides, the productive side where people earned their income and the parasitic side where the rentiers lived off unearned income. The Classical Economists had shown that most at the top of society were just parasites feeding off the productive activity of everyone else.

Economics was always far too dangerous to be allowed to reveal the truth about the economy.

How can we protect those powerful vested interests at the top of society?

The early neoclassical economists hid the problems of rentier activity in the economy by removing the difference between "earned" and "unearned" income and they conflated "land" with "capital". They took the focus off the cost of living that had been so important to the Classical Economists to hide the effects of rentier activity in the economy.

The landowners, landlords and usurers were now just productive members of society again. It they left banks and debt out of economics no one would know the bankers created the money supply out of nothing. Otherwise, everyone would see how dangerous it was to let bankers do what they wanted if they knew the bankers created the money supply through their loans.

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-bulletin/2014/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy.pdf

The powerful vested interests held sway and economics was corrupted. Now we know what's wrong with neoclassical economics we can put the cost of living back in.

Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)

Employees want more disposable income (discretionary spending). Employers want to pay lower wages for higher profits

The cost of living = housing costs + healthcare costs + student loan costs + food + other costs of living

The neoliberals obsessed about reducing taxes, but let the cost of living soar. The economists also ignore the debt that is papering over the cracks and maintaining demand in the economy. This can never work in the longer term as you max. out on debt.

Lambert Strether , July 26, 2018 at 3:35 pm

> These young people do not think of things like debt-free college or paid family leave as radical: they see it done elsewhere in the world and don't accept that it can't be done in America.

An unexpected consequence of globalization is that a lot of people see how thing are done, elsewhere.

Livius Drusus , July 26, 2018 at 7:46 pm

Part of me doesn't feel sorry at all for the plight of middle-class Americans. When times were good they were happy to throw poor and working-class people under the bus. I remember when the common answer to complaints about factory closings was "you should have gotten an education, dummy." Now that the white-collar middle class can see that they are next on the chopping block they are finding their populist soul.

At the end of the day we need to have solidarity between workers but this is a good example of why you should never think that you are untouchable and why punching down is never a good political strategy. There will always be somebody more powerful than you and after they are done destroying the people at the bottom you will probably be next.

[Jul 23, 2018] Doublethink and Newspeak Do We Have a Choice by Greg Guma

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is." ..."
"... Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility. ..."
"... Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form. ..."
"... As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division. ..."
"... In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes. ..."
"... Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution. ..."
"... Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution. ..."
"... This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change . ..."
Aug 21, 2017 | www.globalresearch.ca
Region: USA Theme: Media Disinformation , Police State & Civil Rights

More people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

On the big screens above us beautiful young people demonstrated their prowess. We were sitting in the communications center, waiting for print outs to tell us what they'd done before organizing the material for mass consumption. Outside, people were freezing in the snow as they waited for buses. Their only choice was to attend another event or attempt to get home.

The area was known as the Competition Zone, a corporate state created for the sole purpose of showcasing these gorgeous competitors. Freedom was a foreign idea here; no one was more free than the laminated identification card hanging around your neck allowed.

Visitors were more restricted than anyone. They saw only what they paid for, and had to wait in long lines for food, transport, or tickets to more events. They were often uncomfortable, yet they felt privileged to be admitted to the Zone. Citizens were categorized by their function within the Organizing Committee's bureaucracy. Those who merely served -- in jobs like cooking, driving and cleaning -- wore green and brown tags. They could travel between their homes and work, but were rarely permitted into events. Their contact with visitors was also limited. To visit them from outside the Zone, their friends and family had to be screened.

Most citizens knew little about how the Zone was actually run, about the "inner community" of diplomats, competitors and corporate officials they served. Yet each night they watched the exploits of this same elite on television.

The Zone, a closed and classified place where most bad news went unreported and a tiny elite called the shots through mass media and computers, was no futuristic fantasy. It was Lake Placid for several weeks in early 1980 -- a full four years before 1984.

In a once sleepy little community covered with artificial snow, the Olympics had brought a temporary society into being. Two thousand athletes and their entourage were its royalty, role models for the throngs of spectators, townspeople and journalists. This convergence resulted in an ad hoc police state, managed by public and private forces and a political elite that combined local business honchos with an international governing committee. They dominated a population all too willing to submit to arbitrary authority.

Even back then, Lake Placid's Olympic "village" felt like a preview of things to come. Not quite George Orwell's dark vision, but uncomfortably close.

In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is."

Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility.

Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form.

Our fast food culture is also taking a long-term toll. More and more people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

Much of what penetrates and goes viral further fragments culture and thought, promoting a cynicism that reinforces both rage and inaction. Rather than true diversity, we have the mass illusion that a choice between polarized opinions, shaped and curated by editors and networks, is the essence of free speech and democracy. In reality, original ideas are so constrained and self-censored that what's left is usually as diverse as brands of peppermint toothpaste.

When the Bill of Rights was ratified, the notion that freedom of speech and the press should be protected meant that the personal right of self-expression should not be repressed by the government. James Madison, author of the First Amendment, warned that the greatest danger to liberty was that a majority would use its power to repress everyone else. Yet the evolution of mass media and the corporate domination of economic life have made these "choicest privileges" almost obsolete.

As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division.

In general terms, what most mass media bring the public is a series of images and anecdotes that cumulatively define a way of life. Both news and entertainment contribute to the illusion that competing, consuming and accumulating are at the core of our aspirations. Each day we are repeatedly shown and told that culture and politics are corrupt, that war is imminent or escalating somewhere, that violence is random and pervasive, and yet also that the latest "experts" have the answers. Countless programs meanwhile celebrate youth, violence, frustrated sexuality, and the lives of celebrities.

Between the official program content are a series of intensely packaged sales pitches. These commercial messages wash over us, as if we are wandering in an endless virtual mall, searching in vain for fulfillment as society crumbles.

In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes.

So, is it too late for a rescue? Will menace win this time? Or can we still save the environment, reclaim self-government, restore communities and protect human rights? What does the future hold?

It could be summer in Los Angeles in 2024, the end of Donald Trump's second term. The freeways are slow-moving parking lots for the Olympics. Millions of people hike around in the heat, or use bikes and cycles to get to work. It's difficult with all the checkpoints, not to mention the extra-high security at the airports. Thousands of police, not to mention the military, are on the lookout for terrorists, smugglers, protesters, cultists, gangs, thieves, and anyone who doesn't have money to burn or a ticket to the Games.

Cash isn't much good, and gas has become so expensive that suburban highways are almost empty.

Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution.

... ... ...

Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution.

This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change .

[Jul 23, 2018] The Prophecy of Orwell's 1984. Totalitarian Control and the Entertainment Culture that Takes Over by Edward Curtin

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... There is a vast literature analyzing the political prophecy of George Orwell 's Nineteen Eighty-Four . Big Brother, double-speak, telescreens, crimestop, etc. – all applied to our current political situation. The language has become part of our popular lexicon, and as such, has become clichéd through overuse. Blithe, habitual use of language robs it of its power to crack open the safe that hides the realities of life. ..."
"... There is no doubt that Orwell wrote a brilliant political warning about the methods of totalitarian control. But hidden at the heart of the book is another lesson lost on most readers and commentators. Rats, torture, and Newspeak resonate with people fixated on political repression, which is a major concern, of course. But so too is privacy and sexual passion in a country of group-think and group-do, where "Big Brother" poisons you in the crib and the entertainment culture then takes over to desexualize intimacy by selling it as another public commodity. ..."
"... The United States is a pornographic society. By pornographic I do not just mean the omnipresent selling of exploitative sex through all media to titillate a voyeuristic public living in the unreality of screen "life" and screen sex through television, movies, and online obsessions. I mean a commodified consciousness, where everyone and everything is part of a prostitution ring in the deepest sense of pornography's meaning – for sale, bought. ..."
"... As this happens, words and language become corrupted by the same forces that Orwell called Big Brother, whose job is total propaganda and social control. Just as physical reality now mimics screen reality and thus becomes chimerical, language, through which human beings uncover and articulate the truth of being, becomes more and more abstract. People don't die; they "pass on" or "pass away." Dying, like real sex, is too physical. Wars of aggression don't exist; they are "overseas contingency operations." Killing people with drones isn't killing; it's "neutralizing them." There are a "ton" of examples, but I am sure "you guys" don't need me to list any more. ..."
"... This destruction of language has been going on for a long time, but it's worth noting that from Hemingway's WW I through Orwell's WW II up until today's endless U.S. wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, etc., there has been the parallel development of screen and media culture, beginning with silent movies through television and onto the total electronic media environment we now inhabit – the surround sound and image bubble of literal abstractions that inhabit us, mentally and physically. In such a society, to feel what you really feel and not what, in Hemingway's words, "you were supposed to feel, and had been taught to feel" has become extremely difficult. ..."
"... But understanding the history of public relations, advertising, propaganda, the CIA, the national security apparatus, technology, etc., makes it clear that such hope is baseless. For the propaganda in this country has penetrated far deeper than anyone can imagine, and it has primarily done this through advanced technology and the religion of technique – machines as pure abstractions – that has poisoned not just our minds, but the deepest wellsprings of the body's truths and the erotic imagination that links us in love to all life on earth. ..."
"... Orwell makes it very clear that language is the key to mind control, as he delineates how Newspeak works. I think he is right. And mind control also means the control of our bodies, Eros, our sex, our physical connections to all living beings and nature. Today the U.S. is reaching the point where "Oldspeak" – Standard English – has been replaced by Newspeak, and just "fragments of the literature of the past" survive here and there. ..."
Jul 20, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

The Sexual Passion of Orwell's Winston Smith

"Christianity gave Eros poison to drink; he did not die of it, certainly, but degenerated to Vice." – Frederick Nietzsche , Beyond Good and Evil

"Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen." – D. H. Lawrence , Lady Chatterley's Lover

"The so-called consumer society and the politics of corporate capitalism have created a second nature of man which ties him libidinally and aggressively to the commodity form. The need for possessing, consuming, handling and constantly renewing gadgets, devices, instruments, engines, offered to and imposed upon the people, for using these wares even at the danger of one's own destruction, has become a 'biological' need." – Herbert Marcuse , One Dimensional Man

There is a vast literature analyzing the political prophecy of George Orwell 's Nineteen Eighty-Four . Big Brother, double-speak, telescreens, crimestop, etc. – all applied to our current political situation. The language has become part of our popular lexicon, and as such, has become clichéd through overuse. Blithe, habitual use of language robs it of its power to crack open the safe that hides the realities of life.

There is no doubt that Orwell wrote a brilliant political warning about the methods of totalitarian control. But hidden at the heart of the book is another lesson lost on most readers and commentators. Rats, torture, and Newspeak resonate with people fixated on political repression, which is a major concern, of course. But so too is privacy and sexual passion in a country of group-think and group-do, where "Big Brother" poisons you in the crib and the entertainment culture then takes over to desexualize intimacy by selling it as another public commodity.

The United States is a pornographic society. By pornographic I do not just mean the omnipresent selling of exploitative sex through all media to titillate a voyeuristic public living in the unreality of screen "life" and screen sex through television, movies, and online obsessions. I mean a commodified consciousness, where everyone and everything is part of a prostitution ring in the deepest sense of pornography's meaning – for sale, bought.

And consumed by getting, spending, and selling. Flicked into the net of Big Brother, whose job is make sure everything fundamentally human and physical is debased and mediated, people become consumers of the unreal and direct experience is discouraged. The natural world becomes an object to be conquered and used. Animals are produced in chemical factories to be slaughtered by the billions only to appear bloodless under plastic wrap in supermarket coolers. The human body disappears into hypnotic spectral images. One's sex becomes one's gender as the words are transmogrified and as one looks in the mirror of the looking-glass self and wonders how to identify the one looking back.

Streaming life from Netflix or Facebook becomes life the movie. The brilliant perverseness of the mediated reality of a screen society – what Guy Debord calls The Society of the Spectacle – is that as it distances people from fundamental reality, it promotes that reality through its screen fantasies. "Get away from it all and restore yourself at our spa in the rugged mountains where you can hike in pristine woods after yoga and a breakfast of locally sourced eggs and artisanally crafted bread." Such garbage would be funny if it weren't so effective. Debord writes,

The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images .Where the real world changes into simple images, the simple images become real beings and effective motivations of hypnotic behavior.

Thus sex with robots and marrying yourself are not aberrations but logical extensions of a society where solipsism meets machine in the America dream.

As this happens, words and language become corrupted by the same forces that Orwell called Big Brother, whose job is total propaganda and social control. Just as physical reality now mimics screen reality and thus becomes chimerical, language, through which human beings uncover and articulate the truth of being, becomes more and more abstract. People don't die; they "pass on" or "pass away." Dying, like real sex, is too physical. Wars of aggression don't exist; they are "overseas contingency operations." Killing people with drones isn't killing; it's "neutralizing them." There are a "ton" of examples, but I am sure "you guys" don't need me to list any more.

Orwell called Big Brother's language Newspeak, and Hemingway preceded him when he so famously wrote in disgust In a Farewell to Arms ,

"I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice, and the expression in vain. Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene "

This destruction of language has been going on for a long time, but it's worth noting that from Hemingway's WW I through Orwell's WW II up until today's endless U.S. wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, etc., there has been the parallel development of screen and media culture, beginning with silent movies through television and onto the total electronic media environment we now inhabit – the surround sound and image bubble of literal abstractions that inhabit us, mentally and physically. In such a society, to feel what you really feel and not what, in Hemingway's words, "you were supposed to feel, and had been taught to feel" has become extremely difficult.

... ... ...

But as we learn in 1984 and should learn in the U.S.A. today , "seemed" is the key word. Their triumph was temporary. For sexual passion reveals truths that need to be confirmed in the mind. In itself, sexual liberation can be easily manipulated, as it has been so effectively in the United States. "Repressive de-sublimation" Herbert Marcuse called it fifty years ago. You allow people to act out their sexual fantasies in commodified ways that can be controlled by the rulers, all the while ruling their minds and potential political rebelliousness. Sex becomes part of the service economy where people service each other while serving their masters. Use pseudo-sex to sell them a way of life that traps them in an increasingly totalitarian social order that only seems free. This has been accomplished primarily through screen culture and the concomitant confusion of sexual identity. Perhaps you have noticed that over the past twenty-five years of growing social and political confusion, we have witnessed an exponential growth in "the electronic life," the use of psychotropic drugs, and sexual disorientation. This is no accident. Wars have become as constant as Eros – the god of love, life, joy, and motion – has been divorced from sex as a stimulus and response release of tension in a "stressed" society. Rollo May, the great American psychologist, grasped this:

Indeed, we have set sex over against eros, used sex precisely to avoid the anxiety-creating involvements of eros We are in flight from eros and use sex as the vehicle for the flight Eros [which includes, but is not limited to, passionate sex] is the center of vitality of a culture – its heart and soul. And when release of tension takes the place of creative eros, the downfall of the civilization is assured.

Because Julia and Winston cannot permanently escape Oceania, but can only tryst, they succumb to Big Brother's mind control and betray each other. Their sexual affair can't save them. It is a moment of beauty and freedom in an impossible situation. Of course the hermetically sealed world of 1984 is not the United States. Orwell created a society in which escape was impossible. It is, after all, an admonitory novel – not the real world. Things are more subtle here; we still have some wiggle room – some – although the underlying truth is the same: the U.S. oligarchy, like "The Party," "seeks power entirely for its own sake" and "are not interested in the good of others," all rhetoric to the contrary. Our problem is that too many believe the rhetoric, and those who say they don't really do at the deepest level. Fly the flag and play the national anthem and their hearts are aflutter with hope. Recycle old bromides about the next election when your political enemies will be swept out of office and excitement builds as though you had met the love of your life and all was well with the world.

But understanding the history of public relations, advertising, propaganda, the CIA, the national security apparatus, technology, etc., makes it clear that such hope is baseless. For the propaganda in this country has penetrated far deeper than anyone can imagine, and it has primarily done this through advanced technology and the religion of technique – machines as pure abstractions – that has poisoned not just our minds, but the deepest wellsprings of the body's truths and the erotic imagination that links us in love to all life on earth.

In "Defence of Poetry," Percy Bysshe Shelley writes:

The great secret of morals is love; or a going out of our nature, and an identification of ourselves with the beautiful which exists in thought, action, or person, not our own. A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasure of his species must become his own. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination.

We are now faced with the question: Can we escape the forces of propaganda and mind control that run so very deep into American life? If so, how? Let's imagine a way out.

Orwell makes it very clear that language is the key to mind control, as he delineates how Newspeak works. I think he is right. And mind control also means the control of our bodies, Eros, our sex, our physical connections to all living beings and nature. Today the U.S. is reaching the point where "Oldspeak" – Standard English – has been replaced by Newspeak, and just "fragments of the literature of the past" survive here and there.

This is true for the schooled and unschooled. In fact, those more trapped by the instrumental logic, disembodied data, and word games of the power elite are those who have gone through the most schooling, the indoctrination offered by the so-called "elite" universities. I suspect that more working-class and poor people still retain some sense of the old language and the fundamental meaning of words, since it is with their sweat and blood that they "earn their living." Many of the highly schooled are children of the power elite or those groomed to serve them, who are invited to join in living the life of power and privilege if they swallow their consciences and deaden their imaginations to the suffering their "life-styles" and ideological choices inflict on the rest of the world. In this world of The New York Times , Harvard, The New Yorker , Martha's Vineyard, The Washington Post , Wall St., Goldman Sachs, the boardrooms of the ruling corporations, all the corporate media, etc., language has become debased beyond recognition. Here, as Orwell said of Newspeak, "a heretical thought should be literally unthinkable, at least as far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express." The intelligently orthodox, he adds, must master the art of "doublethink" wherein they hold two contradictory ideas in their minds simultaneously, while accepting both of them. This is the key trick of logic and language that allows the power elites and their lackeys in the U.S. today to master the art of self-deception and feel good about themselves as they plunder the world. In this "Party" world, the demonization, degradation, and killing of others is an abstraction; their lives are spectral. Orwell describes doublethink this way:

To tell deliberate lives while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink . For by using the word one admits one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

... ... ...

*

Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely; he is a frequent contributor to Global Research. He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/ .

[Jul 23, 2018] Report Former FBI Lawyer Lisa Page Revealed Under Oath That There Was No Basis for Mueller's Appointment

Notable quotes:
"... The Mueller special counsel investigation was launched to probe charges that the key FBI officials developing evidence in the case thought were baseless. That's a bombshell accusation that appears to have been confirmed by former FBI lawyer Lisa Page , according to John Solomon . It tends to confirm the suspicion that the Mueller probe is a cover-up operation to obscure the criminal use of counterintelligence capabilities to spy on a rival presidential campaign and then sabotage the presidency that resulted. ..."
"... she offered a bombshell confirmation of the meaning of one of the most enigmatic text messages that the public has seen (keep in mind that there are many yet to be released). ..."
"... The truth behind the Mueller probe is looking uglier and uglier. Pursuing bogus accusations without foundation is the very definition of a witch hunt – President Trump's term for Mueller's team of Hillary-supporters. ..."
"... We don't know anything at all about the activities of Utah U.S. attorney Peter Huber , who is investigating the potential abuse of U.S. intelligence apparatus for political purposes. That is the proper procedure for grand jury probes. But if Lisa Page is honestly answering questions under oath for a congressional committee, she probably is doing so in grand jury sessions, if summoned. ..."
Jul 23, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

By Thomas Lifson Global Research, July 23, 2018 American Thinker 20 July 2018

The Mueller special counsel investigation was launched to probe charges that the key FBI officials developing evidence in the case thought were baseless. That's a bombshell accusation that appears to have been confirmed by former FBI lawyer Lisa Page , according to John Solomon . It tends to confirm the suspicion that the Mueller probe is a cover-up operation to obscure the criminal use of counterintelligence capabilities to spy on a rival presidential campaign and then sabotage the presidency that resulted.

Earlier reports indicated that Page has been answering questions from the House Judiciary Committee quite frankly and may even have cut a deal selling out her ex-lover Peter Strzok over their professional misbehavior (and quite possibly worse) in targeting the campaign and presidency of Donald Trump with the intelligence-gathering tools of the FBI.

Last night, John Solomon of The Hill revealed that he has obtained information from sources who heard Page's testimony in two days of sworn depositions behind closed doors that she offered a bombshell confirmation of the meaning of one of the most enigmatic text messages that the public has seen (keep in mind that there are many yet to be released).

Writing in The Hill , Solomon explains :

[T]here are just five words, among the thousands of suggestive texts Page and Strzok exchanged, that you should read.

That passage was transmitted on May 19, 2017. "There's no big there there," Strzok texted.

The date of the text long has intrigued investigators: It is two days after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named special counsel Robert Mueller to oversee an investigation into alleged collusion between Trump and the Russia campaign.

Since the text was turned over to Congress, investigators wondered whether it referred to the evidence against the Trump campaign.

This month, they finally got the chance to ask. Strzok declined to say – but Page, during a closed-door interview with lawmakers, confirmed in the most pained and contorted way that the message in fact referred to the quality of the Russia case, according to multiple eyewitnesses.

The admission is deeply consequential. It means Rosenstein unleashed the most awesome powers of a special counsel to investigate an allegation that the key FBI officials, driving the investigation for 10 months beforehand, did not think was "there."

The truth behind the Mueller probe is looking uglier and uglier. Pursuing bogus accusations without foundation is the very definition of a witch hunt – President Trump's term for Mueller's team of Hillary-supporters.

We don't know anything at all about the activities of Utah U.S. attorney Peter Huber , who is investigating the potential abuse of U.S. intelligence apparatus for political purposes. That is the proper procedure for grand jury probes. But if Lisa Page is honestly answering questions under oath for a congressional committee, she probably is doing so in grand jury sessions, if summoned.

The glacial pace of this probe is frustrating for Trump-supporters. But doing it right and observing the ethical and legal constraints takes time and does not generate leaks. Nevertheless, I am deeply encouraged by this leak to Solomon, as it seems to indicate that the truth will come out.

Appearing on Hannity last night, Solomon elaborated: watch video here .

[Jul 23, 2018] Chickens with Their Heads Cut Off, Coming Home to Roost. The "Treason Narrative" by Helen Buyniski

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Congress wasted no time jumping on the Treason bandwagon, led by Chuck Schumer conjuring the spectre of the KGB, Marco Rubio as neocon point-man (one imagines Barbara Bush rolling in her grave at his usurpation of Jeb's rightful role) proposing locked-and-loaded sanctions in case of future "meddling," and John McCain , still desperate to take the rest of the world with him before he finally kicks a long-overdue bucket, condemning the "disgraceful" display of two heads of state trying to come to an agreement about matters of mutual interest. The Pentagon has invested a lot of time and money in positioning Russia as Public Enemy #1, and for Trump to put his foot in it by making nice with Putin might diminish the size of their weapons contracts – or the willingness of the American people to tolerate more than half of every tax dollar disappearing down an unaccountable hole . Peace? Eh, who needs it. Cash , motherfucker. ..."
"... The Intelligence Community believes it is God, and it hath smote Trump good. Smelling blood in the water, the media redoubled their shrieking for several days, and crickets. ..."
Jul 23, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

... ... ...

The Helsinki hysteria shone a spotlight on the utter impotence of the establishment media and their Deep State controllers to make their delusions reality. Never before has there been such a gaping chasm visible between the media's "truth" and the facts on the ground. Pundits compared the summit to Pearl Harbor and 9/11 , with some even reaching for the brass ring of the Holocaust by likening it to Kristallnacht , while polls revealed the American people really didn't care .

Worse, it laid bare the collusion between the media and their Deep State handlers – the central dissemination point for the headlines, down to the same phrases, that led to every outlet claiming Trump had "thrown the Intelligence Community under the bus" by refusing to embrace the Russia-hacked-our-democracy narrative during his press conference with Putin. Leaving aside the sudden ubiquity of "Intelligence Community" in our national discourse – as if this network of spies and murderous thugs is Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood – no one seriously believes every pundit came up with "throws under the bus" as the proper way of describing that press conference.

The same central control was apparent in the unanimous condemnations of Putin – that he murders journalists , breaks international agreements , uses banned chemical weapons , kills women and children in Syria , and, of course, meddles in elections . For every single establishment pundit to exhibit such a breathtaking lack of insight into their own government's misdeeds is highly unlikely. Many of these same talking heads remarked in horror on Sinclair Broadcasting's Orwellian "prepared statement" issuing forth from the mouths of hundreds of stations' anchors at once. Et tu, Anderson Cooper?

Helsinki – Trump and Putin – a Showdown for Summer Doldrums or a Genuine Attempt Towards Peace?

The media frenzy was geared toward sparking a popular revolt, with tensions already running high from the previous media frenzy about family separation at the border (though only one MSNBC segment seemed to recall that they should still care about that, and belatedly included some footage of kids behind a fence wrapped in Mylar blankets). Rachel Maddow , armed with the crocodile tears that served her so well during the family-separation fracas, exhorted her faithful cultists to do something . Meanwhile, national-security neanderthal John Brennan all but called for a coup, condemning the president for the unspeakable "high crimes and misdemeanors" of seeking to improve relations with the world's second-largest nuclear power. He called on Pompeo and Bolton, the two biggest warmongers in a Trump administration bristling with warmongers, to resign in protest. This would have been a grand slam for world peace, but alas, it was not to be. Even those two realize what a has-been Brennan is.

Congress wasted no time jumping on the Treason bandwagon, led by Chuck Schumer conjuring the spectre of the KGB, Marco Rubio as neocon point-man (one imagines Barbara Bush rolling in her grave at his usurpation of Jeb's rightful role) proposing locked-and-loaded sanctions in case of future "meddling," and John McCain , still desperate to take the rest of the world with him before he finally kicks a long-overdue bucket, condemning the "disgraceful" display of two heads of state trying to come to an agreement about matters of mutual interest. The Pentagon has invested a lot of time and money in positioning Russia as Public Enemy #1, and for Trump to put his foot in it by making nice with Putin might diminish the size of their weapons contracts – or the willingness of the American people to tolerate more than half of every tax dollar disappearing down an unaccountable hole . Peace? Eh, who needs it. Cash , motherfucker.

Trump's grip on his long-elusive spine was only temporary, and he held another press conference upon returning home to reiterate his trust in the intelligence agencies that have made no secret of their utter loathing for him since day one. When the lights went out at the climactic moment, it became clear for anyone who still hadn't gotten the message who was running the show here (and Trump, to his credit, actually joked about it). The Intelligence Community believes it is God, and it hath smote Trump good. Smelling blood in the water, the media redoubled their shrieking for several days, and crickets. On to the Playmates .

Sacha Baron Cohen 's latest series, "Who is America," targeted Ted Koppel for one segment. Koppel cut the interview short after smelling a rat and expressed his high-minded concern that Cohen's antics would hurt Americans' trust in reporters. But after a week of the entire media establishment screaming that the sky is falling while the heavens remain firmly in place, Cohen is clearly the least of their problems. At least he's funny.

*

Helen Buyniski is a journalist and photographer based in New York City. She covers politics, sociology, and other anthropological/cultural phenomena. Helen has a BA in Journalism from New School University and also studied at Columbia University and New York University. Find more of her work at http://www.helenofdestroy.com and http://medium.com/@helen.buyniski .

[Jul 22, 2018] Bureaucracies, Markets, and the Loss of Municipal Citizenship

Notable quotes:
"... The overuse of instrumental rationality has many sources, but in the United States its historical development begins with dramatic changes in the design of municipal governments. ..."
"... In the end, potentially more so than any other factor, these changes in the fundamental design of municipal governments not only reversed the victories of Socialists but encouraged an outlook on local politics that deemphasized the people as active citizens and conceptualized them as passive shareholders who entrusted the operations of local government with managers and bureaucrats. ..."
"... Capitalism and Freeman ..."
"... In pursuit of strengthening business interests over socialist politics, municipal governments became more bureaucratic. If anything, markets and bureaucracies have had a historical mutually reinforcing relationship; the survival of the free market system has been dependent on the bureaucratization of public life. ..."
"... Genealogies of Citizenship: Markets, Statelessness, and the Right to Have Rights ..."
"... New Castles News ..."
"... New Castle News ..."
Jul 22, 2018 | new-compass.net

Bureaucracies, Markets, and the Loss of Municipal Citizenship 02.07.2018

"Liberty vanishes whenever the law, in certain cases, allows a man to cease to be a person and to become a thing"

-Cesare Beccaria

Throughout the modern era, there has been a lingering fear of the mechanization of everyday life through the overuse of instrumental rationality. Because the social sciences intimately weave both outcomes and ethics, this overuse of instrumental rationality carries with it a moral dimension. Despite having somewhat predictable behavior, people are not things . Rather, the very notion of humanity implies a degree of agency, and agency demands an acknowledgment for spontaneous behaviors and active choices. Nevertheless, the growth of both bureaucracies and markets -- two common features of the modern era -- appears to negate this truism and encourage an inverse to Kant's maximum to treat people as ends in themselves rather than means toward some bureaucratic or profit-driven goal.

The overuse of instrumental rationality has many sources, but in the United States its historical development begins with dramatic changes in the design of municipal governments. At the turn of the 20th Century, Socialists in the United States had considerable success in municipal elections. Empowered by a constituency of small-scale and heavily mortgaged farmers and newly created industrial laborers, for a brief period, the Socialist Party posed a significant electoral challenge to both Democrats and Republicans in America's Midwest. Nevertheless, these successes were short-lived. In response to the electoral victories of Socialist candidates, Progressives promoted "reform" governments that made municipalities more both bureaucratic and market orientated. Under their guidance, the full weight of Taylorism was brought to municipal governments. In the process, local governments became embedded with an ideology predicated on instrumentalist rationality that justified the marginalization participation in public life and redirected the priorities of municipal politics toward ensuring certain monetary ends. In the end, potentially more so than any other factor, these changes in the fundamental design of municipal governments not only reversed the victories of Socialists but encouraged an outlook on local politics that deemphasized the people as active citizens and conceptualized them as passive shareholders who entrusted the operations of local government with managers and bureaucrats.

This history upturns a problematic assumption among advocates of a free market economy. Chiding President Kennedy, Milton Friedman, in Capitalism and Freeman , proclaimed that "the free man will ask neither what his country can do for him nor what he can do for his country. He will ask rather "What can I and my compatriots do through government?" to help us discharge our individual responsibilities, to achieve our several goals and purposes, and above all, to protect our freedom." (1) The idea that in a free market democracy people merely act "through" government rather than "by" government implies a purely instrumental account of public authority. For Freidman, the government is not supposed to reflect a common good, but is simply another option for achieving the specific ends of individuals. For this reason, Friedman argues, the ideal government for a thriving market is both limited and dispersed. However, the history of reform government shows the opposite. In pursuit of strengthening business interests over socialist politics, municipal governments became more bureaucratic. If anything, markets and bureaucracies have had a historical mutually reinforcing relationship; the survival of the free market system has been dependent on the bureaucratization of public life.

In many ways, this relationship was anticipated. Max Weber's remarks on the "iron cage" of the modern economic order implied a shared rationality between markets and bureaucracies. (2) In both cases, social life -- and by extension people -- is valued only to the extent that it can fulfill certain ends, rather than being seen as an end in and of itself. Murray Bookchin's criticism of bureaucracies -- in that they grow as a sense of citizenship declines, filling social vacuums with "monadic individuals and family units into a strictly administrative structure" (3) -- can just as easily apply to markets. Margaret Somers, in her work Genealogies of Citizenship: Markets, Statelessness, and the Right to Have Rights demonstrates that market fundamentalism has resulted in the "contractualization of citizenship" in the United States. In doing so, Americans have reorganized "the relationship between the state and the citizenry, from noncontractual rights and obligations to the principles and practices of quid pro quo market exchange." (4) In decrying the loss of citizenship -- whether through bureaucratization or market fundamentalism -- both Bookchin and Somers draw on contemporary political realities. Yet, as will be shown, the roots of this problem run much deeper. In the United States, the phenomenon of bringing instrumentalist rationality to the public sphere started a century ago with the restructuring of municipal governments.

Reform vs Machine: A Problematic Dichotomy

Few issues in urban politics have been as enduring as the institutional design of governing bodies. The conventional view is that before the Progressive Era most municipalities were ruled by machine governments that served myopic interests, usually geographically or ethnically based. These machine governments were easily susceptible to corruption. Eventually, these governments became reform regimes that merged ideals on the public good with modern concepts of business management. Reform politics were thought to be "objective," in the sense that they isolated public officials from parochial interests, advocated for nonpartisan elections, and promoted efficiency in government services. (5) According to Paul Peterson, machine governments "favored ward elections, long ballots, decentralized governing arrangements, and the close connection between government, party, neighborhood, and ethnic association. Reformers preferred citywide elections, short ballots, centralized governing institutions, and the application of universalistic norms in the provision of government services." (6) In the overwhelming majority of cases, reform governments favored small city councils and managerial systems, where the administration of the city's activities was performed by a hired city manager, rather than the mayor. Both during the Progressive Era and after the Second World War, America saw an explosion of reform orientated managerial governments. (7) Judged in the terms of popularity alone, reform governments are often assumed to be the ideal means for handling local affairs, at least for small municipalities.

However, the degree to which reform governments objectively represent the interests of all residents in the city has been contested. Jessica Trounstine has argued that reform governments do not necessarily make local power more transparent. Instead, they substitute one form of institutional bias for another. (8) For example, advocates of reform governments promote citywide, non-partisan, winner-take-all elections in the hopes of severing the tie between public officials and party bosses. However, this often decreases voter awareness of candidates and results in costlier elections. Party bosses are weakened, but wealthy individuals running for office gain electoral advantages. For this reason, the debates between reform and machine governments have not necessarily been debates on transparency and corruption, but on which type of local elites should be in control of the governments. This is a critical point in understanding why certain municipalities changed to reform governments and why, in many cases, these changes were strongly resisted.

Rice has noted that commission governments -- which were part of the reform agenda and acted both as a theoretical and practical precursor to more managerial institutions -- were almost unequivocally supported by business elites and bitterly opposed by labor. Often business elites were only able to demobilize labor's opposition by making major concessions that made the reform process far more varied and complicated than the usual narrative of machine-to-reform proposes. (9) Nevertheless, when labor did prove itself to be a significant threat to the established order -- as in the case of Midwest cities in the form of the Socialist Party -- the move to managerial governments occurred swiftly, uncompromisingly, and involved players outside of the local political landscape.

The support among business elites for reform governments was not only because such changes ensured them electoral advantages. The structure of the reform governments often duplicated the organizational styles that were prevalent within the private sector. Replacing large city councils elected through wards with small commissions elected citywide made local governments more closely resemble the structure of corporate boardrooms. Furthermore, the position of city-managers was thought to mimic that of the chief executive officer (CEO) within a firm. There was no expectation that the city manager would be accountable to the people directly any more than a firm's CEO was thought to be directly accountable to its workers. Instead, the city-manager was accountable to the council who acted as a board, while the citizens themselves were thought to be shareholders of the city. As Stillman has observed, "commercial activities have been one of the vital forces in shaping American society, and the businessman and the corporation have often been instrumental in determining public values Probably no political or administrative philosophy reflects business and corporate ideals more clearly than the city management movement." (10) In this regard, the movement for reform governments not only wanted to reconfigure local power to better serve business elites but believed that the values and thinking of business elites -- which saw citizens in service of certain fiscal ends -- should be embedded into the structure of municipal politics.

Socialists Against Reform

In 1911, after two decades of organizing, the Socialist Party in Dayton, Ohio reported nearly 500 formal members and the support of approximately 13,000 trade unionists. With this popular support, they successfully elected two of their members to the city council and another three to the assessor's office. Their political strength was undoubtedly on the rise. During the 1912 presidential election, a greater portion of the Dayton electorate voted for the Socialist Party candidate Eugene Debs than the Progressive Party candidate Theodore Roosevelt. (11)

In 1912, Ohio revised its constitution in order to grant home rule status to local municipalities. This prompted twenty-five cities in the state to consider charter changes. Dayton was one of them. With the design of local government now open, there was a strong push by Progressives to shrink the city council, make all elections citywide, and hire a city manager to perform administrative tasks. One notable champion of this cause was John H. Patterson. Patterson was a local industrialist known for his experiments in "welfare capitalism." Despite his reputation as an enlightened business owner, Patterson was notoriously anti-union, chiding labor organizations for promoting a "restive spirit" among employees. Under the progressive banner, Patterson promoted reform governments as a means of combining Taylorism with republicanism. According to Paterson, the virtues of managerial and market orientated governments were elevated to the status of a secular religion. In print and lectures, he proudly proclaimed that "A city is a great business enterprise whose stockholders are the people Our municipal affairs would be placed upon a strict business basis and directed, not by partisans , but by men who are skilled in business management and social science; who would treat our people's money as a trust fund, to be expended wisely and economically, without waste and for the benefit of all citizens." (12) The local Socialist Party was not persuaded by Paterson's calls for a technocratic utopia. They decried the proposed reform government as a regressive step away from democracy. (13)

In March, 1913, only two months before the city was to vote on its new charter, a massive flood from the Miami River hit Dayton, resulting in a state of emergency. While the local government scrambled to deal with the crisis, Patterson utilized the opportunity to exhibit the generosity of Dayton's business class. He opened his factory as a relief center and organized a fundraising campaign among the business community to pay for emergency services. These actions won him favor among the local population. When election for the new charter was held on May 20, 1913, the new reform government was approved by a 2-1 margin. Despite increasing their number of votes in proceeding election cycle, the changes prevented the Socialist Party from taking office again. By 1917, the Socialist Party managed to win 43% of the vote, but in citywide, winner-take-all elections, this resulted in no representation. (14)

A similar dispossession of Socialists happened in New Castle, Pennsylvania. In 1911, New Castle voters elected several Socialist Party members to their select board, including the mayor, Walter V. Tyler. Despite the recalcitrance of non-socialist on the select board, often refusing to attend meetings in order to deny a quorum, Tyler and his supporters were able to make meaningful changes to the city. They ended petty graft and managed to get the city's finances in order, raised wages and reduced hours for city workers, and instituted reforms to curb police brutality. (15)

Despite these successes, the Socialists in New Castle found their ability to maintain their tenure in public office severely limited with the passage of the Clark Act. Passed in 1913, the Clark Act changed all third-class cities in Pennsylvania, which included New Castle, to a commission-style government. This reduced the size of the city councils to five members, replaced wards with citywide elections, created nonpartisan positions, and increased the number of signatures needed to get an initiative on the ballot. Despite the appearance of nonpartisan elections, it was clear that the new commission-style government biased the electoral system toward Republicans. Previously, the electoral achievements of Socialists in New Castle were partially attributed to factionalism within the local Republican Party. The editors of the New Castles News were Republican partisans and condemned ex-Republicans who ran independently in elections for their lack of loyalty. Nevertheless, after the passage of the Clark Act, New Castle News editors had an overnight conversion to nonpartisan ideals, worked with the local Board of Trade to select "men of the highest standard" to run for public office, and were extremely successful in reinstituting Republican rule. (16) As with Dayton, the changes effectively excluded Socialists from office. No Socialists were reelected in 1913. Mayor Tyler's reform movement was halted, and -- due to charter changes -- Tyler himself was unable to run for reelection. (17)

The examples of Dayton and New Castle demonstrate that reform governments did not necessarily result in an attack on machines, but rather a turn toward more bureaucratic and market-orientated municipalities. As Bruce M. Stave has noted, "urban structural reforms that Socialists generally opposed, with good reason, include the often successful attempt to institute city manager or commission forms of government. Along with substituting nonpartisan city-wide elections for ward-based elections to city councils and school boards, such diluted areas of socialist strength and grass-roots neighborhood control over municipal politics. Conversely, it enhanced the power of urban elites, who had the resources and expertise to take advantage of the new rationalized structures." (18)

Reviving Municipal Citizenship

Municipal politics in the United States has had a problematic history. In the United States, the virtues of local sovereignty are praised to such an extent that critical examinations of municipal governments often get lost in the adulations. There is no argument that machine governments hindered greater democratic inclusion, but the assumption that their reform counterparts offered a meaningful an alternative is mistaken. The reality is that more often than not reform governments shifted power rather than dispersing it.

Advocates of reform governments claimed that they would make politics more efficient by preventing the waste and spoilage associated with machines. Since the private sector constantly strove for higher levels of efficiency to maximize profits, it was only reasonable to bring private sector organizational styles into the public realm. However, this analysis fundamentally misunderstands the nature of machine politics. Machines were not inefficient. They were actually highly efficient is distributing the resources at their disposal. The issue was that the rewards of that distribution were not based on competency but loyalty. Party loyalty acts as the machine's capital, where if party bosses were willing to invest favoritism toward certain underlings, then that boss would see a return on investments through loyalty. The movement away from machine to reform government did not seek a fundamental dismantling of this capitalistic relationship but instead transferred the terms so that party loyalty was substituted for business loyalty. In doing so, municipal governments became embedded with the values and rationality of the reigning business class. Municipal bureaucracies aided in the creation of localized market societies. This relationship between market and bureaucracy proved to be both self-reinforcing and enduring. The managerial concepts on local governments popularized during the Progressive Era remain a mainstay of America's political landscape, especially in suburban areas.

Problematically, the treatment of citizens in a polity as stockholders of a corporation fundamentally undermines the very notion of citizenship. In a free society, the people do not consume their government; they embody it through the exercise of their citizenship. Consumers in a market, unlike citizens in a polity, have no presumption of equality. If anything, consumers in a market are constantly seeking to undermine each other's equality in order to secure the best deals. Citizenship cannot engage in this anarchy of the market. Doing so undermines the basis of a cohesive community.

The displacement of Socialists from municipal governments could not have happened without a grander agenda to limit democratic participation and a reimagining of citizens as means toward ensuring business interest rather than ends. Nevertheless, this suggests a corrective to the tendency toward market bureaucratization in local government. The expansion of democracy, above and beyond the local realm, is essential to working against the "iron cage" of the modern economic order. Such an expansion can only come about by embracing a deeper sense of citizenship that challenges not only the inviolability of private property but the very rationality that reduces citizens to nomadic cogs in a bureaucratic engine intended to maximize profits.

(1) Friedman, Milton, Capitalism and Freedom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982) 10.

(2) Weber, Max, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. ed. Richard Swedberg (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2009)

(3) Bookchin, Murray, Urbanization Without Cities: The Rise and Decline of Citizenship (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1992), 172.

(4) Somers, Margret R., Genealogies of Citizenship: Markets, Statelessness, and the Right to Have Rights (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 2.

(5) Rice, Bradley, Progressive Cities: The Commission Government Movement in America, 1901-1920 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1977).

(6) Peterson, Paul E, City Limits (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1981), 7.

(7) Stillman II, Richard J, The Rise of the City Manager: A Public Professional in Local Government (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1974).

(8) Trounstine, Jessica, Political Monopolies in American Cities: The Rise and Fall of Bosses and Reformers (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2008).

(9) Rice, Bradley, Progressive Cities: The Commission Government Movement in America, 1901-1920.

(10) Stillman II, Richard J, The Rise of the City Manager: A Public Professional in Local Government, 7-8.

(11) Judd, Richard W, Socialist Cities: Municipal Politics and the Grass Roots of American Socialism (Albany: State of University of New Press, 1989).

(12) Quoted from ibid, 8.

(13) Judd, Richard W, Socialist Cities: Municipal Politics and the Grass Roots of American Socialism.

(14) ibid.

(15) ibid.

(16) Quoted from ibid, 156.

(17) ibid.

[Jul 22, 2018] The Schizophrenic Deep State Is A Symptom, Not The Disease

Jul 22, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

If we consider the state of the nation from 40,000 feet, several key indicators of profound political disunity within the elites pop out:

1. The overt politicization of the central state's law enforcement and intelligence agencies: it is now commonplace to find former top officials of the CIA et al. accusing a sitting president of treason in the mainstream media. What was supposed to be above politics is now nothing but politics.

2. The overt politicization of the centralized (corporate) media: evidence that would stand up in a court of law is essentially non-existent but the interpretations and exaggerations that fit the chosen narrative are ceaselessly promoted--the classic definition of desperate propaganda by those who have lost the consent of the governed.

... ... ...

The divided Deep State is a symptom of this larger systemic political disunity. I have characterized the divide as between the Wall Street-Neocon-Globalist Neoliberal camp--currently the dominant public face of the Deep State, the one desperately attempting to exploit the "Russia hacked our elections and is trying to destroy us" narrative--and a much less public, less organized "rogue Progressive" camp, largely based in the military services and fringes of the Deep State, that sees the dangers of a runaway expansionist Empire and the resulting decay of the nation's moral/political center.

[Jul 22, 2018] Rosenstein unleashed the most awesome powers of a special counsel to investigate an allegation that the key FBI officials, driving the investigation for 10 months beforehand, did not think was "there."

They fight like real Mafiosi clans. Time to want godfather again...
Jul 22, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Quoted from: This One FBI Text In The Russia Probe Should Alarm Every American Zero Hedge

Authored by John Solomon, op-ed via TheHill.com,

That passage was transmitted on May 19, 2017. "There's no big there there," Strzok texted.

The date of the text long has intrigued investigators: It is two days after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named special counsel Robert Mueller to oversee an investigation into alleged collusion between Trump and the Russia campaign.

Since the text was turned over to Congress, investigators wondered whether it referred to the evidence against the Trump campaign.

This month, they finally got the chance to ask. Strzok declined to say -- but Page, during a closed-door interview with lawmakers, confirmed in the most pained and contorted way that the message in fact referred to the quality of the Russia case, according to multiple eyewitnesses.

The admission is deeply consequential. It means Rosenstein unleashed the most awesome powers of a special counsel to investigate an allegation that the key FBI officials, driving the investigation for 10 months beforehand, did not think was "there."

By the time of the text and Mueller's appointment, the FBI's best counterintelligence agents had had plenty of time to dig. They knowingly used a dossier funded by Hillary Clinton 's campaign -- which contained uncorroborated allegations -- to persuade the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to issue a warrant to monitor Trump campaign adviser Carter Page (no relation to Lisa Page).

They sat on Carter Page's phones and emails for nearly six months without getting evidence that would warrant prosecuting him. The evidence they had gathered was deemed so weak that their boss, then-FBI Director James Comey , was forced to admit to Congress after being fired by Trump that the core allegation remained substantially uncorroborated.

In other words, they had a big nothing burger. And, based on that empty-calorie dish, Rosenstein authorized the buffet menu of a special prosecutor that has cost America millions of dollars and months of political strife.

The work product Strzok created to justify the collusion probe now has been shown to be inferior : A Clinton-hired contractor produced multiple documents accusing Trump of wrongdoing during the election; each was routed to the FBI through a different source or was used to seed news articles with similar allegations that further built an uncorroborated public narrative of Trump-Russia collusion. Most troubling, the FBI relied on at least one of those news stories to justify the FISA warrant against Carter Page.

That sort of multifaceted allegation machine, which can be traced back to a single source, is known in spy craft as "circular intelligence reporting," and it's the sort of bad product that professional spooks are trained to spot and reject.

But Team Strzok kept pushing it through the system, causing a major escalation of a probe for which, by his own words, he knew had "no big there there."

The answer as to why a pro such as Strzok would take such action has become clearer, at least to congressional investigators. That clarity comes from the context of the other emails and text messages that surrounded the May 19, 2017, declaration.

It turns out that what Strzok and Lisa Page were really doing that day was debating whether they should stay with the FBI and try to rise through the ranks to the level of an assistant director (AD) or join Mueller's special counsel team.

"Who gives a f*ck, one more AD like [redacted] or whoever?" Strzok wrote, weighing the merits of promotion, before apparently suggesting what would be a more attractive role: "An investigation leading to impeachment?"

Lisa Page apparently realized the conversation had gone too far and tried to reel it in. "We should stop having this conversation here," she texted back, adding later it was important to examine "the different realistic outcomes of this case."

A few minutes later Strzok texted his own handicap of the Russia evidence: "You and I both know the odds are nothing. If I thought it was likely, I'd be there no question. I hesitate in part because of my gut sense and concern there's no big there there."

So the FBI agents who helped drive the Russia collusion narrative -- as well as Rosenstein's decision to appoint Mueller -- apparently knew all along that the evidence was going to lead to "nothing" and, yet, they proceeded because they thought there was still a possibility of impeachment.

Impeachment is a political outcome. The only logical conclusion, then, that congressional investigators can make is that political bias led these agents to press an investigation forward to achieve the political outcome of impeachment, even though their professional training told them it had "no big there there."

And that, by definition, is political bias in action.

How concerned you are by this conduct is almost certainly affected by your love or hatred for Trump. But put yourself for a second in the hot seat of an investigation by the same FBI cast of characters: You are under investigation for a crime the agents don't think occurred, but the investigation still advances because the desired outcome is to get you fired from your job.


two hoots -> FactDog Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:39 Permalink

Who directed, encouraged Rosenstein to authorize the probe? Did he do it on his own accord based on previous investigations, was he pushed by Comey? Just where did the idea come from and based upon what? (I forgot or never really knew)

Not Too Important -> two hoots Fri, 07/20/2018 - 20:12 Permalink

It all starts with Brennan, and the people he answers to.

Then there's this:

'Intel Operative who Altered Obama's Passport Records Turned FBI Informant on Boss John Brennan, Then Turned Up Murdered in D.C.'

"A key witness in a federal probe into Barack Obama's passport information stolen and altered from the State Department was gunned down and killed in front of a District church in D.C.

Lt. Quarles Harris Jr., 24, who had been cooperating with a federal investigators, was found late at night slumped dead inside a car. He was reportedly waiting to meet with FBI agents about his boss John Brennan."

https://truepundit.com/intel-operative-who-altered-obamas-passport-reco

Seth Rich was also on his way to meet with FBI agents. Something about meeting with FBI agents is lethal.

nmewn -> Not Too Important Fri, 07/20/2018 - 20:35 Permalink

The other fascinating thing is, Strzoks dad , who he was, where he has been and doing in the past.

He was in Iran when the revolution happened working for, ahem, Bell Helicopter. He was also in Burkina Faso doing "charity work" just as he was the Director later on for Catholic Relief Services in...now wait for it...Haiti....lol.

In the infamous words of Tom Brokaw & Charlie Rose "We really don't know who he is or what he believes." ;-)

Big Creek Rising -> Richard Chesler Fri, 07/20/2018 - 22:05 Permalink

Y' all have good comments as usual and you're generally right, but there's a big problem in that almost 60% of 'murica is not paying attention. Half of those are airheads more worried about the minivan having enough gas to get to all the soccer games tomorrow and which McDonald's is closer to the fields. They have four buttons on the radio set to NPR and thus the resultant brain rot. The other half are libtards with no brains to rot. They could find Hillary with a bloody knife in her hand standing over five dead children and convict her of nothing more than having strange ideas about breakfast.

MoreFreedom -> beemasters Fri, 07/20/2018 - 22:53 Permalink

Brennan is pushing back for one reason - he's guilty as sin and doesn't want what he's done found out. Trying to setup Trump with spies, spying on Trump's campaign, and covering up for the hacking of Hillary's server, acts of treason, are likely his lesser sins.

asiafinancenews -> two hoots Fri, 07/20/2018 - 21:30 Permalink

If Strozk and Rosenstein had a shred of personal honor and decency, they would have resigned by now.

Jim in MN -> Jim in MN Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:09 Permalink

Watergate times a billion: The use of a fully weaponized police state against a domestic political opponent. They committed numerous serious crimes in the process, and being arrogant pricks, left a wide paper trail....a trail that leads to the White House as well as Her Fury, Hillary Clinton.

We need the meeting notes. Brennan ran the thing out of Langley. I'm sure they kept as many notes as the Stasi did.

Jarrett and Rice, the most likely conduits to Obama and Biden.

Don't forget John Kerry.

insanelysane Fri, 07/20/2018 - 20:29 Permalink

The real question now is, Did Mueller get rid of the lovebirds because of their texts or because they didn't think there was any there there and he need people that would be willing to find a there where there was no there there?

slightlyskeptical Fri, 07/20/2018 - 21:05 Permalink

Think two friends anywhere else in the USA discussed a Trump impeachment when news came out on an investigation? Think they came to the conclusion there is nothing there and impeachment wouldn't happen? I can testify it happened in my simple household.

Strozk's comment " If I thought it was likely, I'd be there no question." infers that he wasn't "there". This conversation points to nothing except their personal distaste for Trump which we already knew. I still see nothing showing any wrong doing. Think Elliot Ness was happy whenever they got evidence on Capone? Think they never talked about getting him over lunch with fellow agents? Prosecutors and investigators don't have to like the people they are looking at and usually probably don't. It is only a problem if it caused them to be impartial in the investigation which the IG says there is no evidence of in this case.

The bottom line i get from your side is that no one who is partisan should have any role in investigating someone on the other side. Should we just limit it to people who support that side? if we can find intelligent, fair people who are not partisan shouldn't we make them our leaders and just let them decide everything?

Who should be able to investigate something like the NRA using a spy to funnel money to someones campaign? Rudy?

chubbar -> Jim in MN Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:36 Permalink

I don't have a link and I don't think anyone here is going to doubt it, but I read today where new emails indicate the Obama White House started illegally investigating Trump in 2015.

So many outrageous activities are being uncovered on an almost daily basis I doubt this gets much traction but what an outrage.

chubbar -> Jim in MN Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:36 Permalink

I don't have a link and I don't think anyone here is going to doubt it, but I read today where new emails indicate the Obama White House started illegally investigating Trump in 2015.

So many outrageous activities are being uncovered on an almost daily basis I doubt this gets much traction but what an outrage.

enough of this Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:18 Permalink

The Praetorians at the FBI and DOJ believe they are invulnerable but their time is running out.

http://www.investmentwatchblog.com/the-fbi-and-doj-praetorian-guard-the

knightowl77 -> YourAverageJoe Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:55 Permalink

The entire Colorado delegation is pushing to have "Russia declared a State Sponsor of Terrorism"....I have ZERO representation

earleflorida Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:38 Permalink

the FBI has been incorporated into the CIA, [and] the CIA nominates its agents as candidates for congress...

look at G H W Bush & Jr. and the Strozk/Page BS!!!

the country is infested with traitors.... @ Total Eclipse by Andy Giardino ****Great Site

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxHEa99DJIk

Reaper Fri, 07/20/2018 - 20:46 Permalink

The FBI M.O. is the use of Form 302 interrogations to entrap suspects. Using the threat of prosecution to compel auxiliary parties to become witnesses for the DOJ. It's very simple: interview several people about what was said or transpired at an earlier time. If there are any disagreements you could prosecute any of them for lying to the FBI. Worse, as was seen with McCabe/Flynn, the FBI will claim you said something, which you might deny at trial, but the jury will believe the two FBI lying FBI agents who questioned you without a recording.

https://boingboing.net/2013/05/07/dont-ever-speak-to-the-fbi-w.html

Would you lie in court to avoid a federal prosecution for lying to the FBI?

MACAULAY Fri, 07/20/2018 - 23:28 Permalink

This article omits one important point.

Struck had been on the Trump Collusion Case for about a year before he said "there is no there there."

About a year earlier (2016), he had just finished up clearing Hillary and was headed off to London to start trying to hang Trump---probably to meet Steele, or maybe the fat turd professor they hired to hustle the Trump hangers-on.

Then, he was excited then to be going after Trump. He texted Page then that "THIS MATTERS"!

What did he find in that first year? NOTHING.

Same thing Mueller has found in the second year and into the third. NOTHING.

How long should the American people tolerate it?

[Jul 22, 2018] Crooked Timber -- Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made

Notable quotes:
"... The Origins of Totalitarianism ..."
"... By the way, I should note the date of that exchange with Jay: October 2008. We were still in the Bush era. The entire discussion -- of lies and facts, the disregard for facts, and such -- was framed by the Iraq War and the epic untruths that were told in the run-up to the war. It should give you a sense that the world of fake news that so many pundits seem to have suddenly awakened to as a newborn threat has been with us for a long time. The Bush era may seem like ancient history to some, but in the vast, and even not so vast, scheme of things, it was just yesterday. ..."
"... Once the facts aren't a threat to power, they can generally be revealed. ..."
"... Bush appeared confident the facts won't matter, after the invasion. They did matter–if you're just talking about the truth. The non-existence of the WMDs wasn't widely denied (though a few in the administration would try) –the fact was simply swept away because they weren't politically relevant anymore. ..."
"... Isn't that why everyone is saying we're in a 'post-truth' moment? ..."
"... Prior to this, an unsavory or humiliating or shameful or dangerous truth was extremely salient, and would be fuel for a response. It's partly the power of gaslighting – denying the obvious creates a sufficient level of confusion to let you keep going when normally others would stop you. ..."
"... I understand the difference between the two types of truth, truths of logic vs empirical facts that are contingent, but I think the difference between the liar and the sophist is mostly nonexistent. People who lie about empirical facts are also unwilling to follow chains of logic if they don't want to accept the necessary conclusion. ..."
Jul 22, 2018 | crookedtimber.org

As Hannah Arendt wrote in her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism , "The ideal subject of totalitarian rule ... [are] people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (ie the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (ie the standards of thought) no longer exist."

By the way, I should note the date of that exchange with Jay: October 2008. We were still in the Bush era. The entire discussion -- of lies and facts, the disregard for facts, and such -- was framed by the Iraq War and the epic untruths that were told in the run-up to the war. It should give you a sense that the world of fake news that so many pundits seem to have suddenly awakened to as a newborn threat has been with us for a long time. The Bush era may seem like ancient history to some, but in the vast, and even not so vast, scheme of things, it was just yesterday.


Ray Vinmad 07.16.18 at 8:11 am (no link)

"Should enough people come to believe the liar's claim, the facts about which he lies could be lost from the world forever. "

This isn't what happens, usually. When the interests connected to the lies change, then the truth is usually admitted. In the US, the truth often becomes irrelevant, even if real horrors are admitted to. Americans are fairly disinterested in the dirty particles of most of the nation's past.

Once the facts aren't a threat to power, they can generally be revealed.

That's not to say that certain false narratives won't be retained, but the revival of these is generally shaped to current interests, and even if lies are borrowed from the past, the main way they get a hold on the present is because they serve certain interests.

Bush appeared confident the facts won't matter, after the invasion. They did matter–if you're just talking about the truth. The non-existence of the WMDs wasn't widely denied (though a few in the administration would try) –the fact was simply swept away because they weren't politically relevant anymore.

In these cases, it seems that salience or irrelevance is a better way to understand what's driving the weak practical impact of the facts rather than truth or falsity.

Isn't that why everyone is saying we're in a 'post-truth' moment? Trump's trick is to make his story the salient story, and his denials have a way of disabling or thwarting action, even when people are fully aware of the truth. Except for the total fanatics, Trump's enablers are vaguely or even completely aware they are operating on a lie. What matters isn't that the claims are factual disprovable but that they drive action toward the pursuit of particular interests, and disable action that harms those interests.

Prior to this, an unsavory or humiliating or shameful or dangerous truth was extremely salient, and would be fuel for a response. It's partly the power of gaslighting – denying the obvious creates a sufficient level of confusion to let you keep going when normally others would stop you.

Faustusnotes 07.16.18 at 1:57 pm (no link)
There's something odious and misleading in the way you distinguish between types of truth and their role in politics, though I can't put my finger on it, and perhaps whatever error I can't quite describe might explain why you fell for Trump so neatly, but perhaps part of it can be easily seen here:

Having staked his presidency on the claim that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, he's going to have to wage war against Iraq in order to eliminate those weapons.

This gets the nature of Bush's lies completely wrong. He wanted to invade Iraq and he knew he could lie his way into it because of the way American politics rewards muscular action and militarism, and because of the recklessness of his political supporters. He didn't stake his presidency on a lie, he staked his presidency on a war and lied his way into it. In 2008 did you really believe bush had been sincere about his belief in wmds?

This definition of lies here seems weird and unnecessary.

Donald 07.16.18 at 4:18 pm (no link)
I understand the difference between the two types of truth, truths of logic vs empirical facts that are contingent, but I think the difference between the liar and the sophist is mostly nonexistent. People who lie about empirical facts are also unwilling to follow chains of logic if they don't want to accept the necessary conclusion.

That aside, I think politics is full of lies because the system collapses otherwise. I think this ties in with the endless debate people have here about Trump and Trump's opposition. Like Hidari in the other thread, I think Trump's war crimes ( listed below) are far more significant morally speaking than Russiagate, but in our political system collusion with a foreign power in dirty tricks during a political campaign is much easier to attack than war crimes and US complicity in genocide. Both political parties would collapse if we started holding politicians of both parties along with various government officials accountable. We have a functioning democracy by some definition of " functioning" precisely because we allow the biggest crimes to be treated as policy choices and not crimes, while pretending that the worst crime an American politician has or could commit would be to collude with a foreign power in stealing some emails to embarrass the other party.

For those curious, Trump's biggest war crimes are the bombing of civilians in Iraq and Syria and the assistance to the Saudi assault on Yemen. According to the Airwars site the killing of civilians by our bombs increased dramatically under Trump, probably because of loosened restrictions. The policy in Yemen continues what Obama did. In both cases it isn't just the President who is guilty, unless Obama and Trump singkehandedly carry out all functions of our government in the Mideast. Holding them accountable would mean holding a lot of other people accountable.

michael 07.16.18 at 6:06 pm (no link)
This is the first intelligent thing Robin has written, in my view. It also helps me formulate more explicitly some of my longstanding discomfort with Arendt, which is rooted in the way her predilection for natality leads her to posit a rather simplistic political ontology. After all, we do not enter politics with a given floor and horizon; politics is about which floor and which horizon does and should exist. This is what makes factual truth coercive: not its validity, but its tendency to impose rather than set out from a set of political givens. Which is to say, natality is always already operating within the status quo; it is not introduced there by "politics."
Orange Watch 07.16.18 at 6:17 pm ( 9 )
Anarcissie@5

Relatedly, I see striking similarities between an awful lot of public/political morality and virtue ethics, particularly agent-based formulations.

Hidari 07.16.18 at 6:41 pm ( 11 )
I know I have in the past quoted from Twitter (which would seem to be where the most interesting conversations are nowadays, as opposed to the blogosphere) but Branko Milanovic has some interesting insights (he also has the inestimable advantage of not coming from the UK/US/Australasia AKA the 'Anglosphere': he has more of a cosmopolitan sensibility).

https://twitter.com/BrankoMilan/status/1018218532994207746

His basic point is that you really can't understand Trump unless you look at what came before his (Frederic Jameson: 'Always historicise!'). Since Thatcher/Reagan (and Clinton and Blair were not really much different) we have been taught to look up to 'entrepreneurs' as 'wealth creators'. Or, to put it another way, to obsequiously grovel to semi-earned wealth and power. But politics, we were told, floated above the grubby world of 'material interests' like a soap bubble.

Trump tears the veil aside. He doesn't govern on behalf of capitalists as Thatcher/Blair and the rest did. He IS a capitalist. And he self-evidently became President to help his business interests (including, yes, those in Russia. But that's probably as far as the Russia thing goes). This is terribly disturbing for liberals, who have been taught to see 'capitalist' ('liberal' is normally the euphemism) 'democracy' as being merely a neutral description of the 'mode of production' of our current set up, as opposed to being a harsh description of political realities: politicians are allowed to govern insofar as their policies benefit capitalists.

Hence to talk about Trump lying is like talking about an advert 'lying'. Do adverts 'lie'? Of course to a certain extent. But then they were never supposed to tell the truth. Their purpose is to sell a product. Truth is irrelevant.

Every word that comes out of Trump's mouth is to help Trump PLC. It's true (sic) that some of his statements are false. But to assess it in these terms is like to point out that Heineken is not, in fact, probably the best lager in the world, or that one should not, in fact, necessarily Drinka Pinta Milka day.

Again, I think this is what disturbs people. Bush et al, consciously lied. Trump I don't think he knows what truth is, and I don't think he cares. What boosts profits that's what's good and true.What doesn't isn't good (or true).

But these are the value of capitalism, and Trump is, in this sense, the logical end product of where Western society has been heading since 1979 (1981 in the 'States).

Faustusnotes 07.17.18 at 12:21 am ( 12 )
Orange watch, the order of the claim seems important to me. Stumbling into a war because you told a lie about a possible cause of a war ends all the other options to deal with it dried up is one thing; setting up a war and lying your way into it is a different thing. Eg you decide to cheat on your wife and set up an incredibly thin lie to do it, versus you have a habit of lying to your wife that ultimately ends with you having a chance at an affair.

Also the empirical difference between these types of liar seems irrelevant. Everyone who lied about the true cause of the war also lied about basic facts like global warming. As the commitment to one kind of lie has grown so has the magnitude oft he other kind. Why waste time distinguishing? And why did Arendt? The liars of her time lied in both ways as well.

nastywoman 07.17.18 at 10:04 am ( 15 )
AND somebody -(even if it is "not actually being a U.S. citizen) needed to point to "the truth" of this:

"He wanted to invade Iraq and he knew he could lie his way into it" – as lying in politics is (sadly) nothing but "another tool" or "another strategy" to get what any -"political actor" (even some of the lesser evil) – want.

And the Sawyer-Bush example is about the best example for this fact:

"Sawyer: But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that he [Saddam] could move to acquire those weapons.
Bush: So what's the difference?"

For somebody who wants to start a war – or wants to become US President? – and who realizes that the best "strategy" in ending up with "a war" or "becoming US President" -is lying -(day and night) – lying becomes just a a very "practical solution" – (especially if the liar is dealing with a bunch of people who might believe that "France isn't France anymore" – if just a Clownsticks tells them)

And I fear that by conflating the above described type of liar with "the type of liars described in the OP – WE may have allowed the virtues – or at least the charms – of the ones to obscure the vices of the others.

michael 07.17.18 at 7:56 pm ( 16 )
@ john c. halasz

In "Lying in Politics," Arendt writes:
A characteristic of human action is that it always begins something new, but this does not mean that it is ever permitted to start ab ovo, to create ex nihilo. In order to make room for one's own action, something that was there before must be removed or destroyed, and things as they were before are changed. Such change would be impossible if we could not mentally remove ourselves from where we are physically located and imagine that things might as well be different from what they actually are. In other words, the ability to lie, the deliberate denial of factual truth, and the capacity to change facts, the ability to act, are interconnected; they owe their existence to the same source, imagination."

So she directly links lying to natality. And this paragraph, like much of her work, describes what she takes to be the ontological conditions of politics. That is what she is doing when she invokes "something that was there before," furnishing the ground for action. And this in turn commits her to a view of the "already there" which is not itself political, as she herself defines the term.

Alan White 07.17.18 at 9:12 pm ( 17 )
JCH @ 13–

I completely agree that Stevenson likely has it all wrong meta-ethically. But my point was that I was offering an explanation to describe what Trump, Giuliani, etc. are engaging in, even if they don't know they're doing it. Emotivism is an attempt to explain what we usually denote as moral language and behavior. It maintains that moral language and action amount to the expression of emotional attitudes and nothing more. Therefore, beyond the fact that an individual or group has some attitudes, there is nothing left for morality to do but for individuals and groups to try and influence one another in attitude–to achieve agreement in attitude. Any means to do so–lies and bullshit–are legitimate to try and achieve agreement in attitude. Just listen to Trump's crowds. They don't care what he says, or what he does, they just feel that he "gets" how they feel–shared attitudes. If that's the case, then the Trump phenomenon might be best explained as reflecting a practical embrace of such expressivism. Again, I have no claim to anything approaching political expertise here–I'm just advancing a way of looking at the Trump phenomenon conceptually to see if it's at all helpful.

TM 07.19.18 at 9:24 am ( 18 )
16: "Such change would be impossible if we could not mentally remove ourselves from where we are physically located and imagine that things might as well be different from what they actually are. In other words, the ability to lie, the deliberate denial of factual truth, and the capacity to change facts, the ability to act, are interconnected; they owe their existence to the same source, imagination.""

This reminds me a lot of modern management speak: "Everybody said it was impossible until someone came along who didn´t know that .. and just did it!"

To me, Arendt's claim makes no sense. Yes, mentally removing oneself from reality to imagine a different one is difficult but it's not lying, it's not denial of reality. Imagination isn't synonymous with delusion. I'll counter this weird idealistic view with Rosa Luxemburg's materialism (quoting Ferdinand Lassalle):
"Wie Lassalle sagte, ist und bleibt es immer die revolutionärste Tat: "laut zu sagen, was ist"".

The most revolutionary act is to say loudly what is (what is true).

Btw Michael what do you mean by "natality"? It literally means birth rate, no?

J-D 07.19.18 at 11:52 am ( 19 )
Alan White

Any means to do so–lies and bullshit–are legitimate to try and achieve agreement in attitude.

It is empirically obvious that people use lies and bullshit in attempts to try and achieve