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The Iron law of oligarchy is a political theory, first developed by the German sociologist Robert Michels in his book 1915 Political Parties. The book is now freely available as copyright expired, and is well worth reading:
Robert Michels was a Professor of Political Economy and Statistics, University of Basle. He was an anarcho-syndicalist at the time he formulated the Iron Law of Oligarchy. He later became an important ideologue of Mussolini's fascist regime in Italy.
Drawing on his own disillusioning as a member and supporter of a social democratic party in early 20th century Germany, Michels described an interesting and convincing dynamics of large organizations such as political parties: as organization grows and get older there is a strong trend toward crystallization its own "party nomenklatura" -- unaccountable to rank-and-file members party elite. He called this unaccountable part of political party leadership an oligarchy. The current term "nomenklatura" is derived from the USSR history. If was actual, semi-official term used to define unaccountable party elite.
We see this phenomenon quite clearly in DNC and Podesta emails leaks. In essence Sanders was illegitimately deprives of the possibility to represent Democratic Party in the most recent Presidential elections by the oligarchy of the Democratic Party (party Nomenklatura.) Color revolution against Trump is another, but more modern and subtle, demonstration of the validity of the Iron Law of Oligarchy. Here we see slow motion coup d'état against the leader that does nor "fit" onto ruling neoliberal elite (we leave the judgment or whether Trump should or should not be removed to the readers). In other words, on state level the term "Deep State" describes essentially the same phenomenon as the "Iron rule of oligarchy." The only (and important) difference is that includes members of intelligence services into it.
Although Trump won election and being a billionaire belongs to the ruling class, he was not accepted by neoliberal oligarchy as a legitimate POTUS because he strayed during the election from fundamental postulates of neoliberalism (such a neoliberal globalization, offshoring of manufacturing and dropping of standard living of common Americans, permanent war for expansion and maintaining global neoliberal empire led from Washington, etc). That's why a color revolution (Russiagate, or Purple revolution) was launched to depose him. It took just three months -- till April-May, 2017 for plotters to emasculate him. This is yet another demonstration of power of the Iron Law of Oligarchy.
The process of crystallization in "nomenklatura" in large organizations and states is an objective self-reinforcing process. It inevitably starts even within the most democratically-oriented leadership of the political organizations. As the party grows, members very soon become divided into an elite (or more correctly a set of elites, or party oligarchs, with their own set of distinctive and private interests) and the rank and file members, whose labor and resources are exploited by the elite.
That does mean that rank-and-file members can't revolt against Party elite as we saw with Sanders followers within the Democratic Party and Trump followers within the Republican Party in 2016 presidential elections. But such revolts are rare and usually successfully squashed. Even if successful, the deviation from the law is temporary in nature, and the process just repeats itself on a new level as new elite becomes more and more detached from rank-and-file members who secured its ascendance to political Olymp.
The first condition precipitating the drift to such an oligarchical system is, ironically, success in recruiting new members to the organization’s cause. As organizations grow, the ability of members to participate equally in organizational decisions decline, both because it is hard to find a place and time for all members to assemble and because decision-making is significantly slowed -- not infrequently to a standstill -- as the number of decision-makers increases. The usual response is to such problems is creation of "leadership" -- delegation of responsibility to a relatively small subset of members for formulating and recommending lines of action and policies. This is the first and enviable step of creation "native" oligarchy within the political organization. The second step is "bureaucratization" of the organization. At this point leadership no longer represents the interests of the rank-and-file party members.
Although some members can see the writing on the wall and may attempt to maintain democratic control (for example, via limits on the terms in the office), a number of forces weaken any attempts to reverse this process. For example, effective administration requires both hard-to-gain, specialized knowledge of these aspects of the organization (Michels referred to this as “administrative secrets”), as well as scarce organizing talents, such as the ability to manage interpersonal relations, suppress dissent, and to conduct logistical planning. Those talents provide leverage, which limits the ability of rank-and-file members to challenge leaders’ recommendations or decisions, and to replace the current leadership. Who gradually escape the control of rank-and-file members and start controlling them (tail is wagging the dog).
So power in large organizations based on democratic principle, including the lection of the leadership, such as parties, trade unions gradually tend to concentrated at the top. Moreover, once elected leaders are likely to acquire vested interests in maintaining their positions within the organization, especially due to the fact that with growing number of members the complexity leads to the creation of full-time administrative positions. But as times passes the current elite ages, stagnate, lost the grip with reality, and other faction of the party elite can depose them and seize the power. Nothing is permanent under the Sun. In any case the rue of single person is limited by human longevity and rarely exceed 40 years (assuming that a particular person came to power at 35 and lasted till 75.)
" ...Be the claims economic or be they political, organization appears the only means for the creation of a collective will. Organization, based as it is upon the principle of least effort, that is to say, upon the greatest possible economy of energy, is the weapon of the weak in their struggle with the strong.
The chances of success in any struggle will depend upon the degree to which this struggle is carried out upon a basis of solidarity between individuals whose interests are identical. In objecting, therefore, to the theories of the individualist anarchists that nothing could please the employers better than the dispersion and disaggregation of the forces of the workers, the socialists, the most fanatical of all 'the partisans of the idea of organization, enunciate an argument which harmonizes well with the results of scientific study of the nature of parties.'
Iron law postulates that the process of "crystallization" of large organization bureaucracy starts spontaneously and at the end lead to uncontrolled oligarchy at the top of the organization. Such bureaucracy initially consists only of elected members, but later it is enhanced by unelected members. On state level the most important unelected members proved to be members of intelligence agencies.
Such members can and often do ally with the "elected oligarchy" and form a clique to protect their interests. And this often happens: for this "newly minted" elite holding the office becomes the way of making living, which makes it likely that the leaders recognize their common interests in maintaining their positions within the organization, and develop a sense of solidarity with one another (becoming, in Marxist terminology, something like a privileged class, local aristocracy).
As such, they are inclined to act cohesively in fending off criticisms and warding off displacement efforts by the membership. If serious challenges are not readily suppressed, the leaders may resort to cooptation of individual rank-and-file members who challenge the status quo, thus effectively hobbling lower-level resistance.
In other words growth of the organization alone tend to lead to crystallization of oligarchy with this it. That means that the simplest (and oversimplified) formulation of the 'Iron Law of Oligarchy' can be slogan-like: "Who says organization, says oligarchy." The inevitability of oligarchy in political parties, trade unions, and other "democratic" organizations impose severe limited in the realization of democratic principles with in the organization,/ Essentially democracy is gradually suppresses and subverted, only illusion of it is preserved (as, for example in any two party system of governance) and serves to legitimize the ruling oligarchy.
This idea of Michel has been strikingly confirmed since the publication of the book. So now the "iron law of oligarchy" is as close to a social law as one can get.
In essence, Iron law of oligarchy simply postulate that growth of any political (or simply complex) organization requires creation of hierarchy which in turn self-generate its own elite, an oligarchy that has a disproportional influence on the decisions made in the organization. Once created, such an elite becomes 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 the "ideal of Liberal democracy". It 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.
At the very basic level strength (both physical and the character), intellect and cunning are three qualities which typically set leaders apart from the masses of the led. Authority -- the right to lead -- is always gained through some type of intra-party/intra-group competition that implicitly or explicitly tests these qualities. In small groups in the past (and in high school even today) its can be even an actual fight. The desire to dominate, and the expectation of the rewards that accompany domination, presumably are what motivate certain individuals to enter this competition and fight to win.
The suggested mechanism of self-selection of the elite has something in common with the neoliberal doctrine (which we all know now is a false social doctrine, similar to Trotskyism), which also claims that the competition for preeminence is the primary characteristic of human societies. It extrapolates the concept of alpha male in primates to human societies.
Still on the level of particular political organization, it is probably undisputable, that the possession of some characteristic highly valued in political sphere, can, with some luck, elevate an individual to the elite status. We saw such upward mobility in the USA in the past: several US Presidents were from low middle class (for example Harry Truman, Bill Clinton, Barak Obama). That means that those individual that have the most of the qualities we would like to have ourselves can advance into elite, given persistence and luck or initial affiliation with the "deep state".
So we can assume ( nepotism notwithstanding) that political elites are those who are able to discern political trends better then other and as a result are able to accumulate by various means political power. This is essentially Gaetano Mosca's definition of the elite -- a minority set off from the masses by the possession of some prized quality.
The elite -- a minority set off from the masses by the possession of some prized quality.
Although leadership by elites and the moral justification for it no doubt predated written human history, the philosophical origins of the Western tradition of elitism lies with the Greeks, ironically also the authors of democracy. For example, Plato put forth an unabashed apology for political rule by intellectual elites.
Speaking still of elites in general, rather than political elites specifically, we can point out three main characteristics of elites: exclusivity, superiority, and domination.
Suzanne Keller also pointed out that while there is a ruling class, at least in industrial societies, it is not homogenous like Marxists assume. Industrial societies are so differentiated, and there are so many areas of human activity, that no one particular social group can dominate every aspect. So different parts of the "elite" exist is different "pockets", which might overlap. There is also hierarchy within the elites with the political and financial elites (aka financial oligarchy) being at the top of the pecking order. Especially under neoliberalism, which, in a way, was the counter-revolution of financial elite -- a successful attempt of restoration of the power that financial elite has had before the New Deal.
Of cause with highly compartmentalized life typical for modern societies and advances in technology, the new "sub-élites" are formed in in places that iether did not exist before or were not that important. For example military industrial complex now represent a formidable political force (as President Eisenhower warned in his farewell address to he nation) , as are some other "strategically placed" strata of elites (Silicon Valley billionaires from Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, CISCO and similar tech giants; Hollywood and media elite; etc) that dominate different areas of life in modern societies and delegate their members into upper level of elite hierarchy.
A political elite, then, is a group that dominates the political life of a society (and that means the society as a whole), which at least in the past (degeneration of elite is a real problem) was superior in political skills (keeping in mind that the types of skills valuable for politics vary and can include duplicity and murderousness as well as rhetorical skill and persuasiveness).
According to iron law of oligarchy they are by-and-large insulated from everyday contact with the larger society (including their electorate; as in "The Moor has done his duty, the Moor can go" ) and are unaccountable to voters.
A considerable literature exists around the problem of defining the boundaries of the political elite, how it is composed within a given society (C. Wright Mills classic The Power Elite was written in 1956), drawing the line between the elite and sub-elites, as well as social mobility issues.
Because the elite continued existence is linked to the survival of the organizations, leaders of initially radical organizations with time tend to adopt more conservative, conciliatory positions in order to minimize chances of suppression of the organization by the state (digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu). For example, the leaders of large gangs try to establish links with law enforcement and bribe politicians to ensure their survival.
This is the second important effect observed in the context of the "iron law": not only hieratical structure spontaneously emerges, the elite itself gradually, with time became more moderate and more corrupt. As Britannica article of the subject states (Britannica.com):
Michels insisted that the chasm separating elite leaders from rank-and-file members would also steer organizations toward strategic moderation, as key organizational decisions would ultimately be taken more in accordance with leaders’ self-serving priorities of organizational survival and stability than with members’ preferences and demands.
As it became entranced in power, the elite or any large organization has things to lose and thus tend to avoid excessive risks, especially risks that put in danger the existence of the organization. Do no matter how radical the organization is, as some as it is "oligarchazed" it becomes much less radical. This trend was reflected in the old European saying "Social democrat who became a minister is not a social-democratic minister".
The same trend up to the total betrayal of the interests of rant and file members is observable in the US trade union movement.
And the most radical example is the compete betrayal of "Communist ideals" by the USSR elite (nomenklatura), who from radical left wing sect in 70 years turned into bunch of corrupt neoliberals (essentially turncoats) ready to fleece the country and sell its industry, natural resources and infrastructure for pennies on the dollar as long as at least one penny ends in their own pocket. With some leaders of Young Communist League turned into ganister-style capitalists in no time (Khodorkovsky)
"Iron law of oligarchy" represents a powerful argument against possibility of "permanent stability" in human societies. As Minsky told us "stability is destabilizing" and that observation looks even more pertinent in view of "Iron law of oligarchy". As the elite which got power degrades and becomes more corrupt, newcomers want to displace it. But due to entrenchment of existing elite (which, of cause, tried to make their rule permanent and practices nepotism) such a "regime change" often is possible only by violent means. That's why the institutionalized mechanisms for "rotation of elite" are so important.
Every solidly constructed organization, whether it be a democratic state, a political party, or a league of proletarians for the resistance of economic oppression, presents a soil eminently favorable for the differentiation of organs and of functions. The more extended and the more ramified the official apparatus of the organization, the greater the number of its members, the fuller its treasury, and the more widely circulated its press, the less efficient becomes the direct control exercised by the rank and file, and the more is this control replaced by the increasing
power of committees.
Into all parties there insinuates itself that indirect electoral system which in public life the democratic parties fight against with all possible vigor. Yet in party life the influence of this system must be more disastrous than in the far more extensive life of the state. Even in the party congresses, which represent the party-life seven times sifted, we find that it becomes more and more general to refer all important questions to committees which debate in camera.
At the same time any revolution, at the end, is just a change on the top layer of elite. Which means that they seldom achieve stated
goals, especially if such goals include equality and social justice. The fundamental distinction between the elite and rank-and-file
members is always preserved and, paradoxically, often enhanced. So the net result is in unforgettable words of Russian Prime minister
Chernomyrdin "“Everybody wanted improvements, but the net result we got is the same old, the same old..." (in the Economist
translation “We wanted the best, but it turned out like always.”
― Viktor Chernomyrdin - Wikiquote)
As Michels noted in his book Political Parties
...society cannot exist without a …dominant… or… political class, and that the ruling class, while its elements are subject to frequent partial renewal, nevertheless constitutes the only factor of sufficiently durable efficacy in the history of human development. [The government, or, … the state, cannot be anything other than the organization of a minority. It is the aim of this minority to impose upon the rest of society a “legal order” which is the outcome of the exigencies of dominion and of the exploitation of the mass …
Even when the discontent of the masses culminates in a successful attempt to deprive the bourgeoisie of power, this is … effected only in appearance; always and necessarily there springs from the masses a new organized minority which raises itself to the rank of a governing class…” (pp. 353-354).
The key here is that elite (oligarchy) on any complex organization always holds the lion share of political power and that this power is independent of any democratic elections or revolutions:
The practical ideal of democracy consists in the self-government of the masses in conformity with the decisions of popular assemblies. But while this system limits the extension of the principle of delegation, it fails to provide any guarantee against the formation of an oligarchical camarilla. Undoubtedly it deprives the natural leaders of their quality as functionaries, for this quality is transferred to the people themselves. The crowd, however, is always subject to suggestion, being readily influenced by the eloquence of great popular orators ; moreover, direct government by the people, admitting of no serious discussions or thoughtful deliberations, greatly facilitates coups de main of all kinds by men who are exceptionally bold, energetic, and adroit;
It is easier to dominate a large crowd than a small audience. The adhesion of the crowd is tumultuous, summary, and unconditional. Once the suggestions have taken effect, the crowd does
not readily tolerate contradiction from a small minority, and still less from isolated individuals. A great multitude assembled within a small area is unquestionably more accessible to panic
... ... ...
The sovereign masses are altogether incapable of undertaking the most necessary resolutions. The impotence of direct democracy, like the power of indirect democracy, is a direct outcome
of the influence of number. In a polemic against Proudhon (1849), Louis Blanc asks whether it is possible for thirty-four millions of human beings (the population of France at that time) to carry on their affairs without accepting what the pettiest man of business finds necessary, the intermediation of representatives.
... ... ...
Organization implies the tendency to oligarchy. In every organization, whether it be a political party, a professional union, or any other association of the kind, the aristocratic tendency manifests itself very clearly. The mechanism of the organization, while conferring a solidity of structure, induces serious changes in the organized mass, completely inverting the respective position of the leaders and the led. As a result of organization, every party or professional union becomes divided into a minority of directors and a majority of directed.
...It has been remarked that in the lower stages of civilization tyranny is dominant. Democracy cannot come into existence until there is attained a subsequent and more highly developed stage of social life. Freedoms and privileges, and among these latter the privilege of taking part in the direction of public a change in the relationship between the leaders and the mass. For the comradely leadership of local committees with all its undeniable defects there is substituted the professional leadership of the trade-union officials.
Initiative and capacity for decision thus become what may be called a professional speciality, whilst for the rank and file is left the passive virtue of discipline. There can be no doubt that this seamy side of officialism involves serious dangers for the party. The latest innovation in this direction, in the German social democratic party, is the appointment of salaried secretaries to the local branches. Unless the rank and file of the party keep very much on the alert, unless they are careful that these secretaries shall be restricted to purely executive functions, the secretaries will come to be regarded as the natural and sole depositaries of all power of initiative, and as the exclusive leaders of local party life.
In the socialist party, however, by the nature of things, by the very character of the political struggle, narrower limits are imposed upon bureaucracy than in the case of the trade unions. In these latter, the technical specialization of the wage-struggle (the need, for example, for the drafting of complicated sliding scales and the like) often leads the chiefs to deny that the mass of organized workers can possess "a general view of the economic life of the country as a whole," and to deny, therefore, their capacity of judgment in such matters.
The most typical outcome of this conception is afforded by the argument with which the leaders are accustomed to forbid all theoretical criticism of the prospects and possibilities of practical trade-unionism, asserting that such criticism involves a danger for the spirit of organization. This reasoning starts from the assumption that the workers can be won for organization and can be induced to remain faithful to their trade-unions only by a blind and artless belief in the saving efficacy of the trade-union struggle ' ' (Rosa Luxemburg, Massenstreih, Partei u. GewerTcschaften, Erdmann Dubber, Hamburg, 1906, p. 61).
Elite is an organized minority which always outmaneuver and outsmart the rank-and-file of the particular organization ("unorganized majority").
|Elite is an organized minority which always outmaneuver and outsmart the rank-and-file of the particular organization ("unorganized majority").|
It is important to understand that there is a hierarchy within the elites too: it is composed of the "the top guns" and the sub-elites.
Robert Michels observations were based on the fact that the socialist parties of Europe, despite their democratic ideology and provisions for mass participation, were completely and irrevocably dominated by their leaders (often with the elements of the "cult of personality"), just as the traditional conservative parties. Generalizing this phenomena he stated that all forms of organization, regardless of how democratic or autocratic they may be at the start, will eventually and inevitably evolve into oligarchies.
It is indisputable that the oligarchical and bureaucratic tendency of party organization is a matter of technical and practical necessity. It is the inevitable product of the very principle of organization.
For technical and administrative reasons, no less than for tactical reasons, a strong organization needs an equally strong leadership.
... ... ...
To represent, in this sense, comes to mean that the purely individual desire masquerades and is accepted as the will of the mass. In certain isolated cases, where the questions involved are extremely simple, and where the delegated authority is of brief duration, representation is possible. But permanent representation will always be tantamount to the exercise of dominion by the representatives over the represented.
... ... ....
Louis XIV understood the art of government as have few princes either before or since, and this was the case above all in the first half of his reign, when his spirit was still young and fresh. In his memoirs of the year 1666, he lays down for every branch of the administration, and more especially for the conduct of military affairs, the following essential rules: "que les resolutions doivent etre promptes, la discipline exact, les commandements absolus, I'obeissance ponctuelle."^ The essentials thus enumerated by Lous (promptness of decision, unity of command, and strictness of discipline) are equally applicable, mutaiis mutandis, to the various aggregates of modern political life, for these are in a perpetual condition of latent warfare.
The modern party is a fighting organization in the political sense of the term, and must as such conform to the laws of tactics. Now the first article of these laws is facility of mobilization. Ferdinand Lassalle, the founder of a revolutionary labour party, recognized this long ago, contending that the dictatorship which existed in fact in the society over which he presided was as thoroughly justified in theory as it was indispensable in practice. The rank and file, he said, must follow their chief blindly, and the whole organization must be like a hammer in the hands of its president.
... ... ...
In the daily struggle, nothing but a certain degree of csesarism will ensure the rapid transmission and the precise execution of orders. The Dutch socialist. Van Kol, frankly declares that true democracy cannot be installed until the fight is over.
The elite actually can be quite hostile to the society (or organization) at large and behave more like an occupation force then the "best representatives". This detachment of elite from the interests of underling organization or society and the immanent tendency to pursue their own, narrowly understood political and economic interests is the major source of instability in the society.
| The detachment of elite from the interests of underling organization or society and the immanent tendency to pursue
their own, narrowly understood political and economic interests is the major source of instability in the society
In this sense the "iron law of oligarchy" can be viewed as a "backdoor" way of introduction of the idea of class society, where upper class suppress and exploit lower classes creating instability that lead to social cataclysms such as social revolutions, uprising and such.
It is especially noticeable on the level of countries not on the level of single political parties or other organization. Iron law of oligarchy, in a way, can be viewed as a "backdoor" way of introduction of the idea of class society, where upper class suppress and exploit lower classes.
Prominent examples here are Bolsheviks, national socialists as well as neoliberal elite, especially neocons. The latter should be understood as lobbyists of military industrial complex and the level of detachment of the USA foreign policy from the need of the USA lower 90% of population is staggering and in the past was achieved only in some absolutists regimes.
|The elite actually can be quite hostile to the society (or organization) at large and behave more like an occupation force then the "best representatives". This detachment of elite from the interests of underling organization or society and the immanent tendency to pursue their own, narrowly understood political and economic interests is the major source of instability in the society.|
This gap between policies of the elite and desire of "masses" is not always negative. But it can be like in case of, say, US neocons, who from the very beginning was a reactionary, destructive force in the US society, driving up the influence of military industrial complex and serving as MIC lobbyists par excellence. But typically the dynamics is more complex and the changes hatched by elite can sometimes improve the life of "masses", while initially those "masses" oppose them.
Such an idealization, in the form of uncritical idealization of workers (the proletariat") is an immanent part of Marxism, which make it somewhat similar to a secular religion.
In reality, common people, "masses" should not be idealized iether. There is the whole set of issues with mass psychology including but not limited to of issues related to Conformism, Groupthink and the psychology of crowds. Typically "organizational rank and file" display high level of "groupthink", which makes possible such phenomenon as McCarthyism -- a witch hunt unleashed the the elite which desire to increase the cohesion of the organization and eliminate any and all opposition.
Not only they tend to create the "cult of personality" within the particular organization. They often do not understand and resent the ideas/policies of the leaders which at the end are the most beneficiary for them personally and adhere to supporting self-destructing policies (this effect is called "What's the matter with Kansas" as it was describes in the book with the same title)
Most people are altogether devoid of understanding of the actions and reactions between that organism we call the state and their private interests, their prosperity, and their life. As de Tocqueville expresses it, they regard it as far more important to consider "s'il faut faire passer un chemin au bout de leur domaine"^ than to interest themselves in the general work of public administration. The majority is content, with Stirner, to call out to the state, "Get away from between me and the sun!"
Stirner makes fun of all those who, in accordance vsdth the views of Kant, preach it to humanity as a ' sacred duty ' ' to take an interest in public affairs. ' ' Let those persons who have a personal interest in political changes concern themselves with these. Neither now nor at any future time will 'sacred duty' lead people to trouble themselves about the
By studying the political parties of his time Michels came to the conclusion that the problem is connected with the very nature of organizations. Development of the modern democracy allowed the formation of organization like political parties. Paradoxically, any such organization, when growing in complexity, gradually become less and less democratic. And this process is immanent, objective and does not depend of quality of leaders or nature of the organization. Michels outlines several important factors which serve as a foundation of the "Iron Law of Oligarchy":
The delegation leads to specialization: the development
of bases of knowledge, skills, and resources among a leadership, which further serves to alienate the leadership from the 'mass and
rank' and entrenches the leadership in office.
In other words rule by an elite (aka "oligarchy") is inevitable within any large organization because the set of objectively existing "tactical and technical necessities" immanent to complex organizations. Moreover, intellectuals within such political organizations tend to become oligarchs. The history of the USSR is a very sobering example of this trend. Michels particularly addressed the interaction of this law with the idea of democracy and found the latter illusionary. He 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."
The organizational characteristics that promote oligarchy are reinforced by certain characteristics of both leaders and members of organizations. People achieve leadership positions precisely because they have political talent; they are adept at getting their way and persuading others of the correctness of their views.
Once they hold high office, their power and prestige is further increased and "lock-in" quickly happens. Leaders have access to, and control over, information and facilities that are not available to the rank-and-file. They control the information that flows down the channels of communication. Leaders are also strongly motivated to persuade the organization of the rightness of their views, and they use all of their skills, power and authority to do so.
By design of any complex organization as a hierarchical structure, rank and file are less informed than their "superiors." Finally, from birth, people are taught to obey those in positions of authority. Therefore the rank and file tend to look to leaders for policy directives and are generally prepared to allow leaders to exercise their judgment on most matters even to detriment of their own interests.
Leaders also control and have the ability to apply very powerful negative and positive sanctions to promote the behavior of rank-and-file members that they desire. Classic example is patriotic fervor during wars even if the was in clearly has offensive nor defensive character like it was with the Iraq was.
The leaders have the power to control communication, grant or deny raises, assign workloads, fire, demote and — that most gratifying of all sanctions — the power to promote. There is now doubt that they tend to promote junior officials who share their opinions and can be counted on being loyal, with the result that the oligarchy becomes more and more entrenched and self-perpetuating. Therefore the very nature of large-scale organization makes oligarchy within these organizations inevitable. Bureaucracy, by design, promotes the centralization of power and concentration it at the very top of the organization.
While the US Democratic Party now is glaring example of internal (clan) wars (with Clinton clan clinging for power after humiliating defeat), this is is not a new phenomenon. As Robert Michels observed (p 50)
In the life of modern democratic parties we may observe signs of similar indifference. It is only a minority which participates in party decisions, and sometimes that minority is ludicrously small. The most important resolutions taken by the most democratic of all parties, the socialist party, always emanate from a handful of the members. It is true that the renouncement of the exercise of democratic rights is voluntary; except in those cases, which are common enough, where the active participation of the organized mass in party life is prevented by geographical or topographical conditions.
Speaking generally, it is the urban part of the organization which decides everything; the duties of the members living in country districts and in remote provincial towns are greatly restricted ; they are expected to pay their subscriptions and to vote during elections in favour of the candidates selected by the organization of the great town.
There is here at work the influence of tactical considerations as well as that of local conditions. The preponderance of the townsmen over the scattered country members corresponds to the necessity of promptness in decision and speed in action to which allusion was made in an earlier chapter.
... ... ...
It may be added that the regular attendants at public meetings and committees are by no means always proletarians — especially where the smaller centres are concerned. When his work is finished, the proletarian can think only of rest, and of getting to bed in good time. His place at meetings is taken by petty bourgeois, by those who come to sell newspapers and picture-postcards, by clerks, by young intellectuals who have not yet got a position in their own circle, people who are all glad to hear themselves spoken of as authentic proletarians and to be glorified as the class of the future.*
The same thing happens in party life as happens in the state. In both, the demand for monetary supplies is upon a coercive foundation, but the electoral system has no established sanction. An electoral right exists, but no electoral duty. Until this duty is superimposed upon the right, it appears probable that a small minority only will continue to avail itself of the right which the majority voluntarily renounces, and that the minority will always dictate laws for the indifferent and apathetic mass.
From this point of view the XXth century revolutions in Russia and China, it was not "workers and peasants" revolutions, as Marxists try to present. They were coups d'état of a narrow circle of intellectuals representing interests of lower middle class and organized as a radical political party with the explicit goal to depose existing elite and became a new elite themselves:
In Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook, military historian Edward Luttwak states that "[a] coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder."
Those revolutions gave the birth of the world first totalitarian regimes which raised the level of detachment and hostility of the elite to the rank-and-file members of society to a new historical level (now dutifully reproduced by the US neoliberal elite)
Similarly, the disintegration of the USSR was not so much due to the growth of democratic tendencies of the population. Even such factors as inefficiency of the socialist mode of production and PC computers and Internet revolution that made state control of information more difficult, were not decisive. All those factors were present, but the key factor was that the growth of globalism, increased neoliberal tendencies of the USSR elite (including first of all KGB elite, which produced several high raking defectors to the USA including at least one general).
The latter decided to privatize the country and join the club or Western neoliberal elites in short and swift neoliberal Coup d'état, essentially structured as a color revolution. This integration of the new xUSSR elite with Western Elites for which Soviet nomenklarura stived so hard, did happened, but on West (aka vassal) terms, as nobody eliminated hierarchy with in the global elite. So this romance, which flourished during Yeltsin years (which were years of economic rape of Russia by he West and local, mostly Jewish oligarchs) partially came to an end with the election of President Putin. Some "neoliberal oligarchs", who resisted the change ended in exile, and one even managed to get into jail.
In general any successful national-liberation and socialist movement which run under populist and democratic slogans in reality tend to have the same "elite displacement" property, when old elite is replaced or supplemented by a new one. Which can be more cruel toward population then the previous one.
In this sense Machiavelli idea that there is nothing more dangerous then to institute a social change has new, pretty menacing meaning. Please look at EuroMaidan at the most recent example of the elite change and what it brought to rank-and-file Ukrainians. The standard of living dropped at least by half from 2014 to 2016.
The Iron law of oligarchy is generally recognized to be one of the most devastating propositions in all social sciences as it undermines a cornerstone both liberal-democratic and Marxist theories -- the viability of democracy as direct rule of people.
The Iron law of oligarchy also suggests that competition for power in "Western democracies" is far from "perfect" and is limited to competition with the elite (approximately top 0.01% of the population). Institutions which provide for minority rights, checks and balances are just sweet political coatings over bitter socio-economic pills.
They also serve as the pressure valves for channeling discontent into more palatable forms, but are little more then that. Looks like Marxists were right that without greater economic equality democracy is completely impossible (but economic equality is impossible in its own right, at least within current civilizational framework -- oil age). But, at the same time, they were wrong that an economically egalitarian society is viable, as self-generation of elites in any society and elite grabbing the society resources can't be stopped. The history of the USSR is an interesting demonstration of a viability of iron law of oligarchy even in the context of by-and-large theocratic society. At the end Bolsheviks elite changed (paradoxically with KGB elite in the forefront of this betrayal) sides and adopted neoliberal model plunging the population into chaos and several times lowering achieved (not that high) standard of living of Soviet people. Including confiscation of all saving and devaluing of currency, which put pensioners on real starvation/survival mode.
In the USSR oligarchy (aka nomenklatura) self-emerged in less then 10 years from the revolution and ruled for all the short USSR history. It is well described in Michael Voslensky book Nomenklatura The Soviet Ruling Class . Actually Politburo of CPSU became a gravitational center of the new "soviet" oligarchy (which like old aristocracy was hereditary) . In comparison with the USSR with its rigid one-party system, the USA employs more sophisticated system of two party rule, which actually proved to be less brutal, but, at the same time, more efficient in sustaining of the rule of oligarchy (Two Party System as Polyarchy).
Recently this system started to advance "false flag candidates" (Obama, Trump, candidates specifically selected due to lack of their political experince and as such capable to promise "change we can believe in", performing brutal "bait and switch" maneuver after the election.
Indirectly the "iron rule of oligarchy" also badly reflects on the US foreign policy, making "promotion of democracy" to look like a smoke screen behind which naked economic and imperial interests hide. For example, the recent Hillary Clinton stance of Libya and Syria looks like hypocritical nonsense that masks geopolitical and economic energy security considerations. It is just a "regime change" in which a different, more friendly to US interests part of national oligarchy, comes to power.
The Iron Law of Oligarchy also makes clear that the current ruling regime in the USA has very little to do with the democracy and a lot with the defense of the interests of top one (or more correctly 0.01%) of population.
Still, improvement in socio-economic welfare matters as it does increase economic sovereignty of individuals and limit the number of degrees of freedom that oligarchy enjoys. The poorer (and less economically secure) are the people, the easier they are manipulated. So egalitarian ideal still has distinct democratic and general social value.
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.
According to the "iron law," democracy and large-scale organizations are incompatible. In this sense democracy is and always will be a utopian ideal. 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. But the "degree of separation" and attachment of the elite to larger society goals can vary greatly. For example during the period of existence of the USSR, the US elite was forced to hide their cannibalistic tendencies and produced the period in the US history that was truly "gold age" for the US middle class. This period ended with the accent of neoliberalism in 1970th and culminated with the election of President Reagan.
The degree of inequality in a given asset (e. g., income) depends, of course, on its dispersion or concentration of wealth across the individuals in the population. Although many scholars seek to characterize the overall level of societal inequality with a single parameter, such attempts will obviously be compromised insofar as some types of assets are distributed more equally than others.
This complexity clearly arises in the case of modern stratification systems, for instance, the recent emergence of "social rights" suggests that civil goods are now more equally dispersed across all citizens, whereas economic and political goods continue to be disproportionately controlled by a relatively small elite -- financial oligarchy. And under neoliberalism this level of concentration of ownership of economic assets and corresponding level of inequality gradually rises puting the stability of the society at risk. From the point of view of iron law if oligarchy neoliberalism is inherently unstable, doomed social system.
In nearly all models of advanced industrial society, education is the principal mechanism by which individuals are sorted into such classes; in a way educational institutions serve to "license" human capital (if we use this neoliberal term) and convert it to cultural currency.
One of the most recent social phenomenon is the emergence of global elite. It is represented by-and-large by parts of nations financial oligarchy with some additions of employees of international organization (World Bank, IMF, etc), high-tech companies and transnational corporations. Here the iron law of oligarchy which previously was limited to state borders started to operate on new transnational level with the self-organizing Politburo world (with membership concentrated on top echelons of elites of G7 countries) and vassals, subservient elites which in effect are not so different from a regular party members on the international scheme. In other words some parts of the elite and first of all financial oligarchy concentrated at the West converted themselves into super elite.
Financial oligarchy proved to be different from other types of oligarchy: from the very beginning it is transnational and as such is inclined to the betray the interests of home country population. Also unlike other parts of oligarchy in the particular county, financial elite it is more parasitic and exists mainly as additional tax layer for the population. Despite the claims made by paid cheerleaders of megabanks, too big to fail banks extract huge taxpayer subsidies. This capture of the countries by a parasitic transnational financial elite is a new development and it changes the applicability of the law of oligarchy in a very unexpected way: the emerging clique of super-rich financial moguls are practically becoming their own nation, buying houses and keeping assets outside their country of primary residence. Whether they maintain primary residences in New York or Hong Kong, Moscow or Mumbai, today’s this transnational oligarchy is increasingly looks like a virtual "super nation". Those “Supercitizens” are by-and-large above law, unless the crime is committed against another supercitizen.
Also within a single country we are now seeing not a single economy, but rather two fundamentally different and separate types of economy. This growing gap between the rich and non-rich has been evident for years. In a 2005 report to investors, for instance, three analysts at Citigroup advised that “the World is dividing into two blocs—the Plutonomy and the rest”:
In a plutonomy there is no such animal as “the U.S. consumer” or “the UK consumer”, or indeed the “Russian consumer”. There are rich consumers, few in number, but disproportionate in the gigantic slice of income and consumption they take. There are the rest, the “non-rich”, the multitudinous many, but only accounting for surprisingly small bites of the national pie.
Unlike previous oligarchies, members of the global elite generally stick to a globalist perspective and do not contribute to the economic growth of their home countries. They are becoming a transnational community of peers who have more in common with one another than with their countrymen. Ordinary people find themselves living in a globalized plutocracy, in which the superrich display acute indifference to the interest of "natives", and openly pursue narrow self-interest with callous indifference to anyone outside their own rarefied economic kingdom.
Financial elite of international financial organization such as IMF and World Bank is an interesting special case:
"Christine Lagarde, the IMF boss who caused international outrage after she suggested in an interview with the Guardian on Friday that beleaguered Greeks might do well to pay their taxes, pays no taxes, it has emerged.
As an official of an international institution, her salary of $467,940 (£298,675) a year plus $83,760 additional allowance a year is not subject to any taxes.
The former French finance minister took over as managing director of the IMF last year when she succeeded her disgraced compatriot Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was forced to resign after he faced charges – later dropped – of sexually attacking a New York hotel maid.
Lagarde, 56, receives a pay and benefits package worth more than American president Barack Obama earns from the United States government, and he pays taxes on it.
The same applies to nearly all United Nations employees – article 34 of the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations of 1961, which has been signed by 187 states, declares: "A diplomatic agent shall be exempt from all dues and taxes, personal or real, national, regional or municipal."
According to Lagarde's contract she is also entitled to a pay rise on 1 July every year during her five-year contract.
Base salaries range from $46,000 to $80,521. Senior salaries range between $95,394 and $123,033 but these are topped up with adjustments for the cost of living in different countries. A UN worker based in Geneva, for example, will see their base salary increased by 106%, in Bonn by 50.6%, Paris 62% and Peshawar 38.6%. Even in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, one of the poorest areas of the world, a UN employee's salary will be increased by 53.2%.
Other benefits include rent subsidies, dependency allowances for spouses and children, education grants for school-age children and travel and shipping expenses, as well as subsidized medical insurance.
For many years critics have complained that IMF, World Bank, and United Nations employees are able to live large at international taxpayers' expense.
During the 1944 economic conference at Bretton Woods, where the IMF was created, American and British politicians disagreed over salaries for the bureaucrats. British delegates, including the economist John Maynard Keynes, considered the American proposals for salaries to be "monstrous", but lost the argument.
Officials from the various organizations have long maintained that the high salaries are a way of attracting talent from the private sector. In fact, most senior employees are recruited from government posts."
As Jesse wrote in his blog Jesse's Café Américain
Politicians from both sides of the aisle will swear pious oaths to protect and foster the well being of the middle class. They will say that their policies and proposals are all designed for its betterment. And yet the state of the middle class continues to dwindle into despair and disrepair. Why is this?
It is not because of the predominance of a right or left ideology, of taxation and deficits and austerity. It is not because of the re-emergence of a perversion of the gospel, in the predestination of prosperity. We have seen all this before. It is not because in our comfort we have lost the sense of the imperative of common cause.
It is because of the overwhelming corruption of power, and of the cynical amorality of thoroughly modern political managers who worship power and personal wealth as ends unto themselves. They distract the people with artificially divisive social issues and crises, while robbing them blind.
It is driven by the allure of the cartels, monopolies, and monied interests, and their corrupt political bargains. It is a child of the subornation of perjury on a massive scale. It is the unscrupulous servility to power of those who have sworn to uphold and protect the law. What is truth? Whatever suits us, whatever we say it is, by whoever has the power and the craft to define 'we.' It is not the triumph of evil so much as the absence of any sense of the good, of honor, honesty, and of simple common decency.
And it is marked by the daily subverting of the law as a matter of convenience and comfort to the insatiable few, and the cravenness of their enablers, driven by personal ambition, ignorance, and fear. It is the will to power, the elevation of the ascendant self and the system that supports it, above all else. Greed is good. Whatever works. And the enemy is all that is not the self, which is the other.
And where there is nothing sacred, the people perish.
Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov
Sep 17, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne , September 15, 2019 at 11:33 AMhttps://twitter.com/BrankoMilan/status/1173204669356740608anne -> anne... , September 15, 2019 at 11:47 AM
Branko Milanovic @BrankoMilan
Homoploutia, a concept I introduce in "Capitalism, Alone". In today's liberal capitalism, it is common that the same people are rich *both* in terms of capital they own and earnings they receive. This was almost unheard of in classical capitalism where capitalists seldom doubled as wage workers.
4:59 AM - 15 Sep 2019https://twitter.com/BrankoMilan/status/1173204677611196416anne -> anne... , September 15, 2019 at 11:49 AM
Branko Milanovic @BrankoMilan
So here, using @lisdata, you have a nice illustration of advanced capitalist countries where people in the top decile by capital and labor income increasing coincide (right end) and Brazil and Mexico where they do not.
4:59 AM - 15 Sep 2019https://twitter.com/BrankoMilan/status/1173204681184751617likbez -> anne... , September 16, 2019 at 09:03 PM
Branko Milanovic @BrankoMilan
Note the ambivalence * of homoploutia: in some sense it is desirable (and risk-reducing) that capitalists also work, or that high earners possess capital too. But in another way, it makes inequality-reducing policies more difficult.
4:59 AM - 15 Sep 2019Yes, under neoliberalism like under Bolshevism, your social position is not determined solely by the capital you own. It is also determined by the position you hold in the industry or government (and your earnings/wages are derivative of that).
So we see the reincarnation of the idea of Soviet Nomenklatura on a new level in a different social system. The term can still serve its purpose, and IMHO is better than "Homoploutia."
It is also interesting that older middle-class folk, who due to their private savings, 401K, Roth and ISA accounts, SS pension (say $6K-7K a month for a couple), and sometimes government or industry pension are formally millionaires (with some multimillionaires) are not generally viewed as belonging to the upper 10%. They are looked at as an aberration by the most sociologists.
That's because they are now retired and no longer hold any meaningful for the upper 10% level position in the industry or government. In other words, they do not belong to Nomenklatura. Or more correctly no longer belong to Nomenklatura (for those who retired from high level positions)
And, correspondingly, often are treated as junk in the neoliberal society.
Sep 04, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.comTAC are no doubt familiar with the truism that "politics is downstream of culture." This maxim, which is undoubtedly true, should not, however, only be applied to social issues. In fact, culture shapes our public policy very broadly, far more than do dispassionate "policymakers" exercising careful reason and judgment. The nature of our governance tends to reflect the cultural and philosophical orientation of our elites, and this orientation is increasingly debauched.
When talking about politics, we should be careful not to define "debauched" too narrowly. While debauchery is typically associated with over-indulgence of the sensual pleasures, a more fitting political definition is a general loss of self-control.
All the great religious and philosophical traditions understood that there is a part of our nature that can get out of control and a divine part that can exert control. A culture thus becomes debauched when elites lose the sense that they need to rein themselves in, that "there is an immortal essence presiding like a king over" their appetites, as Walter Lippmann put it. In the political realm, debauchery is less characterized by the sensual vices than by an overzealous desire for power.
The ghost of Jeffrey Epstein is all one needs to see that many elites are very debauched as regards social mores. Yet how might a debauched culture be reflected in the realms of domestic and foreign policy?
Let's start with domestic policy. How would debauched elites govern a democracy at home? One might surmise, for example, that their lack of self-control might cause them to spend federal money as a means of keeping themselves in power. They might also attempt to bribe their constituents by promising a variety of domestic programs while also pledging that the programs will be funded out of the pockets of others. If they were really debauched, they might even borrow money from future generations to pay for these incumbency protection initiatives. They might run up staggering debt for the sake of their expedient political needs and promise that "the rich" can provide for it all. In short, the hallmark domestic policy of a debauched democracy is, and has always been, class warfare.
It should be pointed out that class warfare is not simply a creation of demagogues on the left. Class warfare tends to resonate most broadly when the wealthy become self-indulgent and unworthy, and dissolute plutocracies are oft times defended by "conservatives." In the terminal phase of a democracy, this can portend domestic revolution.
While most conservatives might agree about the dangers of class warfare, it is on the foreign policy front where they seem most debauched themselves. They remain stuck in a vortex of GOP clichés, with standard references to Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill, leaders who were closer in their time to the American Civil War than we are to them now. For many of these "conservatives," every contemporary authoritarian leader is the progeny of Hitler and any attempt to establish cordial relations is a rerun of Munich 1938.
As with domestic policy, the true sign of a debauched foreign policy is a loss of self-control and an excessive will to power reflected in attempts to exert dominion over others with no particular nexus to the national interest. A debauched foreign policy might just look like the decision to invade Iraq -- a war whose supporters offered numerous justifications, including alleged weapons of mass destruction, democracy promotion, and anti-terrorism. Yet in hindsight, its real cause seems to have been the simple desire by our leaders to impose their will. In a debauched democracy, class warfare is the paradigmatic domestic policy and profligate war making is the paradigmatic foreign policy.
Given that self-control and restraint are the hallmarks of a genuinely conservative foreign policy -- because they remain humble about what human nature can actually achieve -- one should receive the recent conference on national conservatism with some skepticism . The retinue of experts who spoke generally espoused a foreign policy that sought dominion over others -- in other words, a continuation of the belligerent interventionism that characterized the second Bush administration. This may be nationalism, but it seems not to be conservatism.
One hopes that the leaders of this new movement will re-consider their foreign policy orientation as they have increasingly formidable resources to draw upon. The creation of the Quincy Institute and the rise of an intellectually formidable network of foreign policy "restrainers" provide hope.
Given that culture is king, however, these intellectuals may want to keep top of mind that restraint is not simply a policy option but a character trait -- a virtue -- that needs to be developed in leaders who are then elevated. Prudent policies are no doubt essential but the most important challenge in politics is, and always will be, attracting and encouraging the best leaders to rule. Our system often does the opposite. This is at root a cultural problem.
William S. Smith is research fellow and managing director at the Center for the Study of Statesmanship at the Catholic University of America, and author of the new book Democracy and Imperialism .
Chris in Appalachia • 21 hours agoBelligerent intervention is not nationalism! It is Neocon Texas - Harvard Redneckism. The two opposing teams loathe each other.Wayne Lusvardi • 19 hours ago
Other than that, a good analysis.I'm not sure I agree with the author's thesis: that debauchery or gratuitous political leadership results in immoral foreign policy. Were the highly-disciplined and self-sacrificing Japanese militarists who bombed Pearl Harbor and aligned with the Axis (Hitler, Mussolini) guided by any more virtuous foreign policy than say, "debauched" Churchill and Roosevelt? I doubt it.tweets21 • 12 hours ago
Moreover, has the author never heard of the concept "reasons of state"?: a purely political reason for action on the part of a ruler or government, especially where a departure from openness, justice, or honesty is involved (e.g. "the king returned that he had reasons of state for all he did"). In an existential emergency, would the leader of a nation be justified in using amoral means to save his nation; but in all other circumstances should rely on conventional Christian morality as the default position? This is what Pres. Truman apparently did when he dropped a-bombs on two Japanese cities. What Dietrich Bonhoeffer was apparently involved with in the assassination attempt on Hitler. What Moses was embroiled with when he slayed 3,000 of his "debauched" followers in the Exodus from Egypt.
The article lacks specifics on how America's leaders are debauched and how this debauchery influences foreign policy, other than to say they are "unrestrained". But is non-restraint debauchery? Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was running a gratuitous non-profit institute to shake down foreign rulers in return for promising political favors if elected. She was going to sell the country out.
The opponent who beat her in the election promised the opposite and pretty much has delivered on his promises. Just how is the current administration "unrestrained" other than he has not fulfilled pacifist's fantasies of pulling out of every foreign country and conflict? Such pull outs have to be weighed on a case by case basis to determine the cost to human life and world order. If the current administration has a policy it is that our allies have to fight and fund their own wars and conflicts rather than rely on the U.S. to fight their wars for them.
The article is full of inflationary clichés ('politics is downstream of culture', 'class warfare', etc. And just how does the author connect the dots between pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who was elected to nothing and held no power over anyone, and our "debauched' foreign policy? Correlation is not causation but there isn't even a correlation there.The more one reads opinions of Intellectuals , and as anyone with half a brain knows, to never believe a Politician, I am always reminded, after considerable research why I personally choose Realism . Realism is certainly not new and has some varied forms. Realism re-surfaced leading up to and during WW 2.chris chuba • 11 hours agoTruthsRonin • 10 hours ago"...the true sign of a debauched foreign policy is a loss of self-control and an excessive will to power reflected in attempts to exert dominion over others"
I love this.
We stole Venezuela's assets in the U.S. and even denied their baseball players the ability to send money back to their families, we really love them. We have an oil embargo on Syria and we are the only reason the Saudis are able to starve Yemen. None of these countries have ever done anything to us but it feels good that we can do this and even get most of the world to support us.
This reminds me of a Nick Pemberton article when he wrote ..."We still play the victim. And amazingly we believe it ... We believe we can take whatever we want. We believe that this world does not contain differences to be negotiated, but foes to be defeated."
I could never get this out of my head.
It drives me crazy that devout Protestants in govt who believe that human nature is corrupt act as if they are standing in the gap while being belligerent and never questioning their own judgment.
Trump the adulterer was the one who decided against bombing because he did not have a taste for blood while the pious were eager for it."Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the Earth."Sid Finster • 10 hours ago
"Meek" is the wrong word/translation. In the original Greek, the word is "preais" and it does not mean docile and submissive. Rather the word means gentleness blended with restrained strength/power.
The passage should read, "Blessed are those who have swords and know how to use them but keep them sheathed: for they shall inherit the Earth."The problem is that we are led by sociopaths.fedupindian • 10 hours agoThere is a simpler explanation of what has happened to the US. When it comes to human beings, the only thing you need to remember is Lord Acton's dictum: power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.PAX • 9 hours ago
This current round of unprovoked aggression against small countries started when Clinton attacked Serbia even though he did not have authorization from the UN. He did it because he could -- Russia had collapsed by then so they were powerless to prevent NATO from attacking their ally. No one had the power to stop the hegemon so it was a short journey from the relative restraint of George W. Bush to going beserk all over the world (of course in the name of stopping genocide, ecocide, insecticide or whatever). Get absolute power, get corrupted.
The same thing is true domestically in the US. A small ethnic minority gave 50% and 25% of the money spent by the Democrats and Republicans in the last presidential election. That gives them huge influence over the foreign policy of the country. Best of all, no one else can question what is going on because classic tropes etc. Give a small group absolute power, get the swamp.I think people like Epstein are state sponsored to use the warped values of the elites to gain political advantage for their masters. Destroying historic value sets is part of this package.NotCatholic • 11 hours ago
The destruction of main core Christianity has not helped stem this tide (subtle Happy Holidays, CE, BCE, etc.) . Brave women and men must arise and sewerize (drain the swamp) this mob of miscreants defiling our belief system. .They have a right to exist but not dictate by subterfuge and fake news our values as they have been doing.I find it interesting the author is at Catholic u. I wonder how he feels about the Crusades or the Inquisition as an example of debauchery of power.Joe R. • 8 hours agoRemove the OP pic of the Marines NOW, and fix the rest of your whine later.LFC • 8 hours ago
This is America, we have no "betters" and our "gov't" has never, and will never, be comprised of anything other than our idiot ay-whole neighbors who needed a job, whose sole job it is to govern the machinations of gov't and not us, as an un-self-governed Society is otherwise un-governable.
And [due to human nature and physics (of which neither has or will change in the entire history of humanity)] sometimes you have to go to war at the slightest of hints of provocation in order to achieve "illimitably sustainable conflict" of "Society" [J.M. Thomas R., TERMS, 2012] not have to haphazardly fight minute to minute of every day.
“ If when Political objects are unimportant, motives weak, the excitement of forces small, a cautious commander tries in all kinds of ways, without great crises and bloody solutions, to twist himself skillfully into peace through the characteristic weakness of his enemy in the field and in the cabinet, we have no right to find fault with him, if the premise on which he acts are well founded and justified by success;
still we must require him to remember that he only travels on forbidden tracks, where the God of War may surprise him; that he ought always to keep his eye on the enemy, in order that he may not have to defend himself with a dress rapier if the enemy takes up a sharp sword ”.
(Clausewitz, “On War” pg. 137)
Loosely paraphrased: " peaceable resolution to conflict is only effective, and should only be sought and relied upon, when it is certain that the other party will never resort to arms, with the implication that that is never " [J.M.Thomas R., TERMS, 2012 Pg. 80]
Weakness is provocative don't provoke your enemies. Quit whining.Clyde Schechter • 6 hours agoLet’s start with domestic policy. How would debauched elites govern a democracy at home?
Let's see. They'd likely repeatedly cut taxes on the wealthiest and on corporations and skyrocket deficits. They'd likely increase military spending to insane levels to the benefit of the military industrial complex. They'd likely perform wide scale deregulation on polluting industries. They'd ignore all inconvenient science, especially that which didn't support the fossil fuel industry. They'd likely avoid meaningful action on a healthcare system that is more broken and expensive than any other OECD nation. Then they'd look for targets, the "others", to bash and attack in attempt to hide the real world consequences of what they were doing.
Why would they do this? They do it for campaign contributions, "a means of keeping themselves in power.""...in other words, a continuation of the belligerent interventionism that characterized the second Bush administration. "Stephen J. • 5 hours ago
And the Clinton administration before it, and the Obama and Trump administrations following it.I believe we are in the hands of:
The Demons of “Democracy”
The demons of “democracy” speak of “peace”
While their selling of weapons does not cease
Hypocrites from hell who posture on the world stage
When they should be in a gigantic prison cage
Evil reprobates in positions of power
Anything that’s good they devour
Destroying countries and families too
This is the satanic work they do
Fancy titles are given to their names
Such is the state of a system insane
Madness and filth has become “normal”
Nobody speaks or asks: “Is it moral”?
Principals and ethics, they are of them, devoid
Speaking of decency and truth has them annoyed
Pimping for war is their diabolical expertise
Killing and bombing is the forte of this demonic sleaze
Training and supporting terrorists, they do this as well
Will nobody arrest this treacherous crew from hell?
These people are devils and full of hypocrisy
We need to be freed from these, demons of “democracy”...
[much more info on this at link below]
Feb 01, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.comPosted on January 30, 2017 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield
By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She now spends most of her time in Asia researching a book about textile artisans. She also writes regularly about legal, political economy, and regulatory topics for various consulting clients and publications, as well as writes occasional travel pieces for The National .
Bloomberg recently reported in Retailers Chasing Fast Fashion Stumble Under Heavy Buyout Debts that ""Euro fast fashion," featuring trendy clothing that can move from catwalks to stores in mere weeks, has taken the U.S. by storm, and distressed specialty apparel retailers are among the biggest casualties."
That's an unfortunate development, since as I've posted before, in The High Hidden Costs of Fast Fashion :
The fashion industry conceals many dirty little secrets. Its labour practices have long been notorious, with many low-cost producers relying on sweatshop production and in some cases, child labor. These and other problems have only worsened with the rise of fast fashion– cheap, shoddy clothes intended not for the long haul, but to be worn for a short while, and then discarded in favour of the next new thing.
The reasons for fast fashion's out-performance in the US market are due in part to missteps by specialty retailers– especially the high levels of debt they've assumed. But there's no doubt that also due to fast fashion appeals to certain consumers, especially younger ones. According to Bloomberg:
Younger shoppers have gravitated to fast fashion brands not only because they're more affordable but also because they're able to quickly capture the latest looks and make them available in a fraction of the time traditional merchants need. Cheaper prices also mean customers of these brands, sometimes referred to as disposable fashion, have come to expect an ever-changing assortment.
And the fast fashion companies comply. A 2016 McKinsey article, Style that's sustainable: A new fast-fashion formula , notes that each year, Zara introduces 24 new clothing collections, compared to H&M's 12 to 16. When all European apparel companies are considered, the average number of clothing collections has more than doubled, from two each year in 2000 to approximately five each year in 2011.
Fast Fashion: Cheap at Whose Expense?
But this appeal brings with it considerable costs, two of which I'll discuss in this post. One necessary condition for the low cost of "fast fashion" production is the poor pay workers receive. Most often, it's people in developing countries who are paid low wages, and subject to appalling working conditions. Yet paltry wages in this sector are not just a problem for developing countries. A (UK) Channel 4's Dispatches program, Undercover: Britain's Cheap Clothes , broadcast earlier this month, revealed that UK fast fashion producers in Leicester were flouting minimum wage laws.
According to The Fashion Law :
Laborers in Britain responsible for making clothes for popular fast fashion retailers like River Island and New Look are being paid less than half the required minimum wage. An investigation by Britain's Channel 4 television has revealed that Leicester-based manufacturers, Fashion Square Ltd and United Creations Ltd, which supply garments and accessories to River Island, New Look, Boohoo, and Missguided, among other retailers, paid their employees between 3 pounds ($3.74) and 3.5 pounds ($4.36) per hour. The hourly rate for the national living wage in Britain is 7.20 pounds ($8.97) for workers 25 years and older.
Channel 4 caught one textile boss on a secret camera admitting that his company is competing directly with Bangladeshi and Chinese companies to fill orders, and so must rein in its costs accordingly:
We don't get paid much for our clothes, and we need to compete with China and Bangladesh. They can get it cheap there. How will they get it made cheaper here? If we pay everyone £10 or £6 then we will make a loss.
Burgeoning Environmental Costs
Another consequence of the rise of fast fashion is the considerable environmental costs it has imposed. Some of these occur at the production stage. Cotton– which McKinsey notes accounts for about 30 percent of all textile fiber consumption– typically requires copious amounts of water, pesticides, and fertilizer to produce. Synthetics require extraction and refining of oil– raising another set of concerns, according to Timeout for Fast Fashion , a 2016 Greenpeace report. That report also flags both the problematic use of hazardous chemicals in production processes (including dying) and high energy use (which in the countries with the largest textile sectors, typically comes from fossil fuels).
As I posted yesterday in Waste Not, Want Not: Right to Repair Laws on Agenda in Some States , one consequence of long sojourns spent outside the US is I've realized how wasteful so many basic American systems are. Perhaps I'll express the point somewhat differently here - I mean, how excessive so many basic American systems are, and that excess translates into unnecessary waste. Some obvious examples: the cars (or more often pickup trucks and SUVs) are HUUUGE compared to those in Europe, not to mention India and Asia (where I often find myself using three-wheeler auto rickshaws to get about-many of these powered by CNG or LPG). The food is over-packaged. I could go on.
One fact jumped out at me: the average fast fashion item is worn seven times, and is then either abandoned to the back of one's closet or discarded, according to a 2015 survey of women's buying habits conducted by the UK children's charity, Barnardo's . In my earlier post, I quoted some statistics from a Newsweek cover story, Fast Fashion is Creating an Environmental Crisis , "In less than 20 years, the volume of clothing Americans toss each year has doubled from 7 million to 14 million tons, or an astounding 80 pounds per person. "
I discuss some of these back-end environmental consequences at greater length in my earlier post . Much of this fashion waste ends up in landfills, 350,000 tonnes each year in the UK alone. Although there have been some efforts made to encourage recycling, this is both difficult and expensive to do at the fiber level (and the quality does not match that of virgin fiber, which is still preferred for quality production). Instead, recycling is done at the garment level, with the end product often being rags or insulation. But there's a limit to how many rags, or units of insulation, are necessary. What about sending garments to developing countries? Their leaders say: Enough! Many fast fashion products are shoddy and not hard-wearing. The volume available has overwhelmed demand, and further, destroyed domestic textile production, so much so that some East African states have called for a ban on second-hand clothing to protect domestic producers.
The environmental problems are only expected to worsen as more residents of developing countries join the middle class. According to McKinsey :
While sales growth has been robust around the world, emerging economies have seen especially large rises in clothing sales, as more people in them have joined the middle class. In five large developing countries-Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and Russia-apparel sales grew eight times faster than in Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States [over the 2000-2014 period].
Even after this increase, the average developing-country resident purchases a fraction of the clothing that his or her developed-world counterpart buys each year. Overall clothing sales could rise significantly if developing-country consumers choose to buy more clothing as their purchasing power increases.
Technology Fairy Rides to the Rescue?
There are some new specialty products specifically designed to address the textile waste disposal issue, such as a new Adidas shoe made of biodegradable artificial spider silk that will decompose in the sink once you're finished with it. As reported in a recent Treehugger piece, Adidas' new shoes will dissolve in your sink :
Adidas has invented a running shoe that will decompose in the sink. Once you've worn it out (the company recommends two years of use), you can immerse the shoes in water, add a digestion enzyme called proteinase, and let it work for 36 hours. It will cause the protein-based yarn to break down, and you'll be able to drain the liquefied shoes down the sink – everything except the foam sole, which will still require disposal.
Now as a recovering science geek– I was an MIT undergrad after all, and also the first kid on my block to have a chemistry set– on first reading of this article, I found the concept of self-dissolving running shoes to be pretty cool. But after further thought, I noticed that the article's a bit vague on how completely the shoes dissolve, and what, exactly, ends up going into your local sewer system once the "dissolving" is completed. Bottom line is that it doesn't look to me that massive ramping up of such a product– or its progeny– is going to offset the huge and growing environmental costs of fast fashion anytime soon.
So I return to my starting point: it's sad to see that fast fashion is flourishing in the US, and that in this as in so many other areas, we're hurtling away from thinking about what a sustainable system for textile production, sales, and disposal would look like– one that doesn't rely so heavily on cut-rate labor, nor impose such considerable front-end and back-end environmental costs. PlutoniumKun , January 30, 2017 at 1:48 pmPortia , January 30, 2017 at 2:22 pm
I know you've quoted this figure before:
"In less than 20 years, the volume of clothing Americans toss each year has doubled from 7 million to 14 million tons, or an astounding 80 pounds per person. "
If true – and I'm sure it is – it truly is astounding. A bit of googling gives the most common figure of 65 lbs per person, apparently based on EPA figures . I can't even imaging buying that many clothes in a year, but I guess i'm not much of a shopper.
One problem of course is the poverty paradox (I've heard it referred to as the poverty tax) – that buying long lasting quality things saves money in the long run – but to buy quality means you have to have available cash to buy it in the first place. So often, when short on money, the disposable fashion alternative is the only one affordable for many people.
For a few years now I've intended to invest in a really good pair of leather shoes – the type my father would have had, and kept for many years, even decades, regularly getting them fixed and resoled in the shoe repairers. But each time I try to find one I find they are very expensive, so I end up getting something that looks identical in the sales, costs about a quarter or less than the high quality ones, but I know from experience will fall apart in 2 years and is unrepairable. In terms of mens clothes, you can apply the same logic to a good jacket, good jeans, a good suit, etc. Quality last for years and pays for itself, but you need to have the money first to buy it.Watt4Bob , January 30, 2017 at 1:56 pm
consignment stores have excellent clothing (even shoes sometimes, I got a great pair of Sorel boots for $5).flora , January 30, 2017 at 2:11 pm
One more issue to address; Retailers have to dispose of unsold inventory at a loss. Doesn't fast-fashion mean faster accumulation of un-sellable stuff, so faster losses? What could go wrong?Renee , January 30, 2017 at 2:26 pm
"One fact jumped out at me: the average fast fashion item is worn seven times, and is then either abandoned to the back of one's closet or discarded, according to a 2015 survey of women's buying habits conducted by the UK children's charity, Barnardo's. "
That sounds more like short-term renting of clothing instead of ownership. So if I buy a cheap blouse, wear it seven times, discard it and buy another cheap blouse, what is the cost per each wearing of a cheap blouse? I buy, say, a $28 dollar blouse, wear it 7 times, costing $4 per wear. I buy, say, a $40 blouse, wear it 14 times, costing $2.85 per wear.
Fast fashion sounds much more expensive, in the long run, than buying a better quality at higher initial price from which I would get more use. Or maybe the problem isn't initial cost but the throw-away mentality.PKMKII , January 30, 2017 at 3:11 pm
For many, it is the notion of having far fewer items of clothing that one wears in more settings. In France, you have a far smaller closet, but it's way nicer. Same for children's clothing.crittermom , January 30, 2017 at 3:26 pm
Or maybe the problem isn't initial cost but the throw-away mentality.
More so, the "keeping up with the micro-season's fashion" mentality that the fashion industry is dependent upon. Whole industry would fall apart if there wasn't a large number of people out there who think the difference between this winter's and last winter's fashion is significant (I know he's popular to cite on here, so William Gibson's Zero History deals with this in length).Portia , January 30, 2017 at 2:20 pm
One of the issues I understood from the article is that the 'younger set' of customers, especially, would prefer to keep up with the very latest ('fast') fashion, so after wearing the blouse 7 times it doesn't matter to them that the more expensive (on the front end) blouse will last twice as long or more. It would be 'out of fashion' by then so they wouldn't wear it anymore, anyway.
Plus, as pointed out, it's the initial cost they consider, wanting to spend as little as possible to 'stay in style', with styles changing ever more quickly.
Vanity is playing a large part of the fast fashion.
As a now a 65 y/o woman I'm most comfortable in boot cut jeans & a top or shirt. However, I still remember a different mindset of my youth. Vanity seems to fade when gravity & stress have taken their toll, tho'.crittermom , January 30, 2017 at 3:44 pm
I have a lot of very good vintage designer clothes in my closet. I got them at consignment stores for $2 to $20. What does that make me, I wonder, these days? I have not shopped for new duds except for underwear and shoes and socks for about 20 years. I am a bad person.Renee , January 30, 2017 at 2:24 pm
Portia, consider me another who is 'bad to the bone', as I shop thrift stores.
While I often see some cheap 'fast fashion' in them, I've also scored some great upper-end clothing for almost nothing.
A neighbor, for whom money is no problem, dropped her jaw when I showed her a beautiful designer sweater I'd bought–for 50 cents. I'd even found a great pair of cords to match for another 50 cents, also of good quality.
Jeans can be the best find if you're lucky. Nicely broken in & not the $40-50 they now sell for.
Usually $4 or less & better quality.
As a gift, she'd surprised me with an inexpensive (Cosco) pair of suede/shearling snow boots. The side seam pulled out (not sure it was ever secured in the first place) after I'd worn them just 4 brief times.
Now wearing plastic bags in my 'fast fashion' snow boots to stay dry.Renee , January 30, 2017 at 2:24 pm
Here's a local group working to the other side.crittermom , January 30, 2017 at 3:53 pm
Whoops, here's the link: http://www.fibershed.comLambert Strether , January 30, 2017 at 2:24 pm
Wow. Thanks for that link.
A clothing designer friend is completely into sustainable clothing, currently using bamboo for her line.
She recently discovered that there was too much pollution in the processing of it from her former supplier, however, so has now found another that is not as harmful to the environment.
I'm passing this link along to her right now, so she can 'think outside the box' even a little more.
Thanks!PlutoniumKun , January 30, 2017 at 3:52 pm
Would high tariffs kill fast fashion?Waldenpond , January 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm
I think it would depend on the company and where they are sold. The Zara chain is well known for keeping very tight supply chains, with much of their products made as close as possible to their shops (in Europe anyway).
If you've ever seen the excellent Italian film Gomorrah , based on an investigative journalists book, it depicts how many 'Made in Italy' products are made in sweatshops entirely staffed with illegal Chinese immigrants. I suspect that tariffs would have the impact of creating an underground of dubious 'finishing' factories in the US, putting buttons on clothes made elsewhere.Ivy , January 30, 2017 at 3:19 pm
It's hard work to escape the US system. I rarely shop aisles and in the year without plastic, there were few goods to be had that aren't in plastic (some glass and cardboard), I'd hit the bulk bins with fabric bags, but that is for dry goods. There is typically only a small section of produce that is not in plastic.
It's difficult to find clothing, shoes etc made in the US. Could someone make their own? What's available for US raw goods?
The instruction to just buy basics is also a challenge. Basics are cheaply made. Thrift stores might be a better option for durables.
My pet peeve is corporations that destroy goods (will literally slice clothing) rather than allow the poor to get their hands on the clothing. We are a landfill society.PKMKII , January 30, 2017 at 3:20 pm
Adidas shoes dissolving in rainy climates? It may be a matter of time before their 'sink additive' goes native, to the detriment of many runners. Those in the PNW wear rain slickers, 60/40, GoreTex or similar outerwear to squeeze in that run even the most rainy days.
I know, catastrophizing, but somebody has to do it when there are too many Onion-like blurbs in the media.
Now as a recovering science geek– I was an MIT undergrad after all, and also the first kid on my block to have a chemistry set– on first reading of this article, I found the concept of self-dissolving running shoes to be pretty cool. But after further thought, I noticed that the article's a bit vague on how completely the shoes dissolve, and what, exactly, ends up going into your local sewer system once the "dissolving" is completed.
Sounds like they're trying to appeal to the crowd that thinks Tesla cars are going to save the world. Greenish sounding stuff to get the STEM lord money, most who will just dispose of them the same way as any other pair of shoes.
Aug 25, 2019 | off-guardian.org
I've been reading a collection of essays by a Australian guy called Careys – on Democracy and propaganda, fully named, Taking the Risk out of Democracy. He died unpublished but his papers were collated in a book after. Here some bits from my read that were interesting.
In Jan 1994 David Hume reflecting on the consequences of the recent state terrorist projects that Washington had organised and directed in its Central American domains, with the Church a prime target. They took special note of 'what weight' the culture of terror has had in domestically the expectations of the majority vis-a-vis alternatives different for the powerful; the destruction of hope, they recognised, is one of the greatest achievements of the free world doctrine of 'low intensity conflict' what is called 'terror' when conducted by official enemies. Noam Chomsky 1994
Propaganda is the management of collective attitudes by the manipulation of significant symbolism collective attitudes are amenable to many modes of alteration . intimidation intimidation .economic coercion drill
But their arrangement and rearrangement occurs principally under the importers of significant symbolism and the technique of using significant symbols for this purpose is propaganda. Lasswell, Bardson & Janowitz 1953
Successful use of propaganda as a means of social control requires a number of conditions: The will to use it, the skills to produce the propaganda, the means to disseminate it; and the use of significant symbols with real power over emotional reactions – ideally symbols of the sacred and satanic (Light vs DARK)
A society or culture which is disposed to view the world in Manichean terms will be more vulnerable to control by propaganda. Conversely, a society where propaganda is extensively employed as a means of control, will tend to retain a Manichean world view, a view dominated by symbols and visions of the sacred and satanic.
Manichean – an adherent of the dualistic systems (dual = 2) religious systems of Manes, a combination of Gnostic, Buddiasm, Zoroastrianism and various other elements with a doctrine of a conflict between the Light and Dark, matter being regarded as dark and light / good vs evil – love vs hate
The 'public mind' was recognised long ago by corporate leaders to be 'the only serious danger confronting' their enterprise & major hazards facing industrialists along with the newly realised political power of the masses, which had to be beaten back.
Big Business in the US stated started the Americanise Movement ostensibly to Americanise worker, who was being perceived as being under threat from subversive forces of the Industrial Workers of the world.
what started as a method of controlling the political opinion of immigrant workers quickly turned into a massive program for the thinking of an entire population. One of the most startling examples of the escalation of the whole population in processes of propaganda was how Americanisation Program ( a word which conjures up the 'thought police') came to be transformed into a National Celebration Day for the 4th July, to many of us (Carey's words not mine) it comes as a shock to discover that American Independence Day had it's beginning in a Business led program to control public opinion rather than as a direct expression of a Nation celebrating its historical birth.
Aug 14, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Michael Fiorillo , , August 14, 2019 at 11:38 am
I can't add much to Yve's excellent post and the follow-up comments, except to say that the events of recent days and weeks have made Pizzagate (as deranged as it was) into some kind of weird Jungian premonition which is to say, the s&#* is out of control.
When Trump was first elected, I tried to calm down friends with advanced TDS, who expected Kristallnacht to be directed at their favorite brunch spots, by saying that "This is what empires in decline look like."
In regard to this sordid tale, I'm reminded of Robert Graves' (and the superb BBC TV version of) "I, Claudius."
"Don't eat the figs."
adrena , , August 14, 2019 at 11:48 am
In this sordid world, girls/women have absolutely no value.
ambrit , , August 14, 2019 at 12:16 pm
Don't forget the young boys who get traded around like fudge recipes. Something quick on the Hollywood angle on bent dicks. It applies almost everywhere in America now: https://news.avclub.com/corey-feldman-made-a-documentary-about-sexual-abuse-he-1834310252
My reinterpretation of your comment would be; In this sordid world, people without power have absolutely no value. Otherwise, I'm with you all the way. Abuse is abuse. No other definition is logical.
ambrit , , August 14, 2019 at 4:18 pm
Epstein's World was tied in with Hollywood and Wall Street. Both are homoerotic paedophile havens. The world of the Vatican is tied in to Wall Street; it has it's own bank, the Instituto per le Opere de Religioni.
Who knows? Perhaps there will be some Prelates unearthed from the Lolita Express passenger log.
Pelham , , August 14, 2019 at 1:54 pm
As is true with the continued withholding of key documents in the JFK assassination, I believe that if the lousy reporting and official screwups in the Epstein case persist, it will be perfectly fine for the public to conclude and believe the absolute worst and act accordingly.
Actually, we SHOULD believe the worst.
Robin Kash , , August 14, 2019 at 2:16 pm
Given the spotiness and inadequacy of reporting on the Epstein affair I wonder if an avenue for exploration might be that of a more direct involvement of media moguls and highly placed media staff in being serviced by Epstein i.e., the decision-makers regarding what gets covered and published are themselves subject to exposure, embarrassment, and other things that befall men caught in such matters.
Who covers the press and roots out its secret malefactions? Rogue reporters? And who publishes them? Indeed!
Aug 18, 2019 | dergipark.org.tr
To Michels organizations are the only means for the creation of a collective will and they work under the Iron Law of Oligarchy. He explicitly points out the indispensability of oligarchy from the organizations by saying that "It is organization which gives birth to the domination of the elected over electors, of the mandatanes over the mandators, of the delegates over delegators, who says organization, says oligarchy" (Michels 1966, p.365).
Oligarchical tendencies in organizations is not related to ideology or ends of the organizations. Of course, it is evident that any organization which is set up for autocratic aims , it is oligarchic by nature. To Michels, regardless of any ideological concerns, all types of organizations have oligarchic tendencies. It was his major question in political parties that "how can oligarchic tendencies be explained in socialist and democratic parties, which they declared war against it?"( Michels 1966, pp. 50-51).
When he examines this question throughout in his book: Political Parties, he sees organization itself particularly bureaucracy, nature of human being and the phenomenon of leadership as major factors for oligarchical tendencies in organizations. According to Michels' assessments, the crowd is always subject to suggestion and the masses have an apathy for guidance of their need. In contrast the leaders have a natural greed of power ( Michels 1966, pp. 64, 205). To Michels, leadership itself is not compatible with the most essential postulates of democracy, but leadership is a necessary phenomenon in every form of society. He says "At the outset, leaders arise spontaneously, their functions are ACCESSORY and GRATUITOUS. Soon however, they become professional leaders, and in this second stage of development they are stable and irremovable"(
Michels 1966, p. 364).
Leaders also have personal qualities that make them successful as a ruling class. These qualities are , the force of will, knowledge, strength of conviction, self sufficiency, goodness of heart and disinterestedness ( Michels 1966, p. 100 ). Furthermore there is a reciprocal relationship between leadership functions and the organizational structure. Majority of leaders abuse organizational opportunities for their personal aims by using their personal qualities and by creating means, organizational process or principles like party discipline.
As for as organization itself is considered as a source of oligarchy, Michels says that it is generally because of "PSYCHOLOGY OF ORGANIZATION ITSELF, that is to say, upon the tactical and technical necessities which result from the consolidation of every disciplined political aggregate."( Michels 1966, p. 365). Further as a particular type of organization bureaucracy and its features require an oligarchic structure.
At the societal level, although development in the democracy, oligarchy still exists. First of all he says by looking at the state as an organization, which needs a bureaucracy that is the source of enemy of individual freedom, the state represents a single gigantic oligarchy. An attempt to destroy this gigantic* oligarchy in fact brings a number of smaller oligarchies in society but does not eliminate it ( Michels 1966, p. 188,191,202). Secondly he agrees with Jean Jack Rousseau on the idea that "it is always against the natural order of things that the majority rule and the minority ruled." (Michels 1965, p. 106). Along with this idea professional leadership is seen by Michels as an incompatible phenomenon with
democracy, because , although the leaders at once are not more than executive agents off collective will, as soon as they gain the technical specialization, they emancipate themselves form the masses and start to use their power against the majority. ( Michels 1966, p.70). In addition to this, representative political system is not compatible with the ideal democracy, because to Michels, "a mass which delegates its sovereignty, that is to say transfer its sovereignty to the hands of the few individuals, abdicates its sovereign function ( Michels 1966, p. 73).
The third factor is related to level of socio-economic development of societies and experience of democracy in history. To him in this time ideal democracy is impossible due to socio-economic conditions, that further more he says that," The democracy has an inherent preference for the authoritarian solution of the important questions" (Michels 1966, p. 51, 342).
As a logical result of his iron law of oligarchy, he admits there are elites in society but not elite circulation in terms of replacing one another. He does not redefine the concept of elite, he took Pareto's theory of circulation of elites and modified it. To Michels, there is a battle between the old and new elites, leaders.
The end of this war is not an absolute replacement of the old elites by the new elites, but a reunion of elites, a perennial amalgamation. Complete replacement of elites is rare in history. The old elites attract, absorb and assimilate the new ones, and it is a continuous process (Michels 1966, p. 182, 343; Michels 1949, p. 63). Because for Michels, first " old aristocracy does not disappear, does not become proletarian or impoverished ( at least in absolute sense ), does not make way for new group of rulers , but that always remains at the head of nations, which it led over the course of centuries...[and second]...the old aristocracy be it very old rejuvenated, does not exercise the rule alone but is forced to shave it with some kind of new ruler" (Michels 1965, p. 75-76).
Aristocracy for Michels is not homogenous stratum, and consists of nobility and ruling class. Nobility represents a small but strong part of aristocracy. In this sense it seems that nobility represents real oligarchical power in the society. To Michels nobility holds itself at the helm and does not even dream of disappearing from the stage of history. Though not coinciding with aristocracy,
To Michels nobility holds itself at the helm and does not even dream of disappearing from the stage of history. Though not coinciding with aristocracy, and not constituting more than a part of it, nobility generally takes hold of it and makes itself its master. It pervades, conquers, and molds, the high middle class according to its own moral and social essence" ( Michels 1949,p. 77, 80 ). In contrast to nobility aristocracy is heterogeneous and a place where lower classes' members can easily rise and members of aristocracy can be subject to downward social mobility. For his time, he describes elements of aristocracy (1) aristocrats by birth (2) aristocracy of government clerks, (3) aristocracy of money (4) aristocracy of knowledge . All this groups also represent ruling class (Michels 1965, p. 76 ).
Michels does not get in too much special analysis of the relationships between aristocracy, ruling class and majority. I think he doesn't see that there are much differences in oligarchy in organization and oligarchy in society at large.
To me these two must be separated because (1) for individuals society in a sense an unavoidable place to be in contrast to organizations, particularly voluntary organization , (2) while society represent a more natural entity, organizations are more artificial entities and (3) organizations are set to realize certain targets in a certain period of time, in contrast society's targets are relatively unstable, and subject to reconstruction by people. To think of these questions, does not necessarily reject the existence of oligarchical tendencies in societies. In fact as Michels pointed out democracy has a legacy to solve important questions of society, by using oligarchic methods. Furthermore he also points out that at any social organization there is an intermixture of oligarchic and democratic tendencies. He says that"... In modem party life, aristocracy gladly present itself in democratic guise, while the substance of democracy is permeated with aristocratic elements. On the one side we have aristocracy is a democratic form, and on the other hand democracy with an aristocratic context" (Michels 1966, p.50).
... ... ...
In terms of replacement of old elites by new ones, there is a distinction between Pareto and Michels. Michels does not admit replacement of elites, but admits, amalgamation of new and old elites. In fact historically we can see both of them happened. In short term amalgamation of old and new elites, and in long terms replacement of old elites by new ones. This time period depends on changes in society at large. For example, consider socialist revolutions and aftermath of independent movement in developing countries where these two movements took place, old elites were wiped out. This type of changes are rarely in history. In short term, amalgamation of elites takes place and new elites gradually increases its proportion in the elite strata and ruling class. For example as a result of
industrialization in burope, Hughes observes that at the beginning ...upper class oligarchy shared power with the old aristocracy-but with each year that passed the balance seemed to incline more heavily in favor of the former" (Hughes 1965, pp.149-150). It can be concluded that new elites are bom as a result of socio- economic , political, and historical changes in society, and then these new elites via upward mobility, and that in the end the new elites take place the highest position in the society. In this process the adaptation ability of old elites determine their fates.
On democracy, Pareto always separate ideal democracy and democracy applied, and prefers to talk about the subjects of democracy rather than democracy itself. Michels is clearly in favor of democracy, Mosca was previously against democracy but after the experience of Fascism in Italy, he changed his mind.
How elitist theories affected democracy ? Two answers have given for this question. On the negative side, it has been said that these anti-democratic theories helped European ruling classes by restoring their self confidence and by increasing their consciousness about their privileges; therefore, elite theories become a vehicle for ruling classes (Hughes 1965 (b), p. 149), On the positive side, it has said that elitist theories have helped to enhance democratic theories, Michels himself believed that research on oligarchies necessary for development of democracy by saying that "...a serene and frank examination of oligarchical dangers of democracy will enable us to minimize these dangers,...(Michels 1966, p.370).
It can be said that elitist theories extended and increased awareness of masses and scientist against governments and ruling classes. As a result, many researches have been conducted on application of democracy in organizations.
Researches have shown that oligarchical tendencies are dominant in organizations and can not be eliminated totally. Further more, attempts to reduce oligarchic contrgl in organizations with very few exception have failed. In general, in voluntary organizations, the functional requirements of democracy con not be met most of the time (Lipset, Trow, and Coleman 1956, p.4,6,452).
Is democracy still compatible with elite theories? That has been the question that lead to redefine, reconceptualize the democracy. Here we must pay attention that Pareto, Mosca, and Michels worked J.J. Rousseau's definition of democracy: government by the people, but not government for the people (Burnham 1943, pp.156-7).
New democratic theories like political pluralism, theory of the mass society are compatible with elitist theories. Schumpeter was one of the earliest thinker that he redefined democracy considering elitists 1 arguments. To him democracy defined as "...institutional arrangement for arriving the power to decide by means of competitive struggle for the people's vote" (Bottomore 1964, p.10).
In contrast to compatibility of elitist theories with democracy, it can not be compatible with Marxism. Michels pointed out that M [t]he law of circulation of elites destroy the thesis of the possibility of a society without social levels...[and]... destroy equally the supposition of a ruling class that remains closed and inaccessible" (Michels 1965, p. 106). In terms of preference of political systems he clearly says that "the defects inherent in democracy are obvious. It is none the less true that as a form of social life we must choose democracy as the least of evils" (Michels 1966, p.370).
Elitist theorists not only introduced elites but also contributed on better understanding of social and political life of societies. The key concept is "power" and who has the power she/he is the leader of society. Heredity, wealth, intellect, organizations are the means to get power.
Aug 16, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
This Is How Epstein Manipulated Vulnerable Young Girls (And How You Can Protect Your Children From Predators)
by Tyler Durden Fri, 08/16/2019 - 18:25 0 SHARES
Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,
This article contains content that some may find distressing.
Jeffrey Epstein "was" apparently a serial molester of children. He had manipulation down to an art form, as many molesters do. He seemed to be an expert at figuring out a girl's weak point, whether it was poverty, a deceased family member, or feeling alienated from her peers.
This is a common ploy. Many molesters seek out children or teens who have lost a parent and use this as a way to build a friendship. Then, because children don't think like adults, they are manipulated, coerced, or threatened into sexual activity.
The story below could be told a hundred thousand times with only tiny changes. The names and the faces would be different. The settings might not be a mansion in Manhattan or in Palm Beach but rather a quiet part of a church, a school, or some kind of activity for teens. The setting could be in the house next door to you, where someone with evil intent befriends a vulnerable young person with the stated goal of helping them, but an end result that couldn't be further from reality.How 14-year-old Jennifer Araoz met Jeffrey Epstein
Jennifer Araoz was 14 years old when she first met her future rapist, Jeffrey Epstein. She wrote about how she was manipulated, first by his recruiter, then by Epstein himself. There are many powerful lessons that we as parents can learn from her story.
During my freshman year, one of Epstein's recruiters, a stranger, approached me on the sidewalk outside my high school. Epstein never operated alone. He had a ring of enablers and surrounded himself with influential people. I was attending a performing arts school on the Upper East Side, studying musical theater. I wanted to be an actress and a singer. ( source )
Another report based on court documents says that the recruiter befriended Jennifer, took her out to eat after school a few times, and learned more about her, such as the fact that Jennifer's father had died from an AIDs-related illness and her family could barely scrape by financially.
The recruiter told me about a wealthy man she knew named Jeffrey Epstein. Meeting him would be beneficial, and he could introduce me to the right people for my career, she said. When I confided that I had recently lost my father and that my family was living on food stamps, she told me he was very caring and wanted to help us financially. ( source )
The recruiter finally got Jennifer to go with her to meet Epstein. Court documents say that they all three met together for the first month or so.
The visits during the first month felt benign, at least at the time. On my second visit, Epstein also gave me a digital camera as a gift. The visits were about one to two hours long and we would spend the time talking. After each visit, he or his secretary would hand me $300 in cash, supposedly to help my family. ( source )
Epstein claimed he was 'a big AIDS activist' which you can imagine would mean a lot to a 14-year-old whose father died of the disease.Soon the visits would take a dark turn.
By the second month of Jennifer's visits to the mansion, the recruiter no longer attended the visits., the manipulation began in earnest.
But within about a month, he started asking me for massages and instructed me to take my top off. He said he would need to see my body if he was going to help me break into modeling. I felt uncomfortable and intimidated, but I did as he said. The assault escalated when, during these massages, he would flip over and sexually gratify himself and touch me inappropriately. For a little over a year, I went to Epstein's home once or twice a week.
After that day, I never went back. I also quit the performing arts school -- the one I had auditioned for and had wanted so badly to attend. It was too close to his house, the scene of so many crimes. I was too scared I would see him or his recruiter. So I transferred to another school in Queens close to my home. Since I was no longer able to pursue my dream of performing arts I eventually lost interest and dropped out. ( source )
Sure, we can say that she knew things weren't right when he asked her to take her top off. By this point, she was 15 years old. Old enough to know right from wrong. But if she was getting $300 twice a week and helping her family with it, it's pretty easy to see how she would want to continue helping her family despite her discomfort. Epstein knew exactly what he was doing.
Epstein's wealth, power, and connections would have made going against him seem like an insurmountable feat for a vulnerable 15-year-old girl who had recently lost her father. Who would have believed her word against that of this presumed philanthropist?
A few days ago, Jennifer, now 32, filed a massive lawsuit against Epstein's estate, Ghislaine Maxwell, and 3 members of Epstein's household staff. The complaint alleges that Maxwell and the staff "conspired with each other to make possible and otherwise facilitate the sexual abuse and rape of Plaintiff."Some of Epstein's victims recruited new girls for him.
Epstein's indictment explains how he manipulated some of the girls he sexually abused to bring other girls to him.
Prosecutors say he lured underage girls, some as young as 14, to his residences, promising them a cash payment in exchange for giving him a massage. Instead, he would sexually abuse them -- groping them, making them touch him while he masturbated, and using sex toys on the minors. Then, he would allegedly ask them to recruit other girls. ( source )
A detailed report in the Miami Herald referred to it as a "sexual pyramid scheme." One of Epstein's accusers, Courtney Wild, reiterates the theme of the story told by Jennifer Boaz.
"Jeffrey preyed on girls who were in a bad way, girls who were basically homeless. He went after girls who he thought no one would listen to and he was right,'' said Courtney Wild, who was 14 when she met Epstein. ( source )
Courtney's time spent with Epstein nearly destroyed her.
Before she met Epstein, Courtney Wild was captain of the cheerleading squad, first trumpet in the band and an A-student at Lake Worth Middle School.
After she met Epstein, she was a stripper, a drug addict and an inmate at Gadsden Correctional Institution in Florida's Panhandle.
Wild still had braces on her teeth when she was introduced to him in 2002 at the age of 14.
She was fair, petite and slender, blonde and blue-eyed. ( source )
She began to recruit other girls for him in Palm Beach.Epstein had it down to an art form.
Wild said Epstein preferred girls who were white, appeared prepubescent and those who were easy to manipulate into going further each time
"By the time I was 16, I had probably brought him 70 to 80 girls who were all 14 and 15 years old. He was involved in my life for years," said Wild, who was released from prison in October after serving three years on drug charges.
The girls -- mostly 13 to 16 -- were lured to his pink waterfront mansion by Wild and other girls, who went to malls, house parties and other places where girls congregated, and told recruits that they could earn $200 to $300 to give a man -- Epstein -- a massage, according to an unredacted copy of the Palm Beach police investigation obtained by the Herald. ( source )
Palm Beach police detective Joseph Recarey explains how Epstein insinuated himself into the girls' lives.
"The common interview with a girl went like this: 'I was brought there by so and so. I didn't feel comfortable with what happened, but I got paid well, so I was told if I didn't feel comfortable, I could bring someone else and still get paid,' '' Recarey said.
During the massage sessions, Recarey said Epstein would molest the girls, paying them premiums for engaging in oral sex and intercourse, and offering them a further bounty to find him more girls
Epstein could be a generous benefactor, Recarey said, buying his favored girls gifts. He might rent a car for a young girl to make it more convenient for her to stop by and cater to him. Once, he sent a bucket of roses to the local high school after one of his girls starred in a stage production. The floral-delivery instructions and a report card for one of the girls were discovered in a search of his mansion and trash. Police also obtained receipts for the rental cars and gifts, Recarey said.
Epstein counseled the girls about their schooling, and told them he would help them get into college, modeling school, fashion design or acting. At least two of Epstein's victims told police that they were in love with him, according to the police report. ( source )
You may look at these stories and scorn the victims. After all, they kept going back, didn't they? They liked the money, didn't they?
But they were children. Many of them were isolated, vulnerable, and without support systems. Many of them felt ashamed but didn't know how to extricate themselves. They were confused and scared, and Epstein was a pro at taking advantage of these emotions and doubts.
The girls are not to blame here. The adults are.Epstein is not the only predator out there.
While this article focuses on how Epstein was able to lure so many victims, as Dagny Taggert recently wrote , there are many more people in power out there preying on children. Clergy, priests, teachers, neighbors, musicians, and random people on the internet are out there preying on and trafficking children.
Dagny wrote:How do you keep your children safe?
According to The National Center for Victims of Crime , the prevalence of child sexual abuse (CSA) is difficult to determine because it is often not reported. Experts agree that the incidence is far greater than what is reported to authorities.
Statistics below represent some of the research done on child sexual abuse.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau report Child Maltreatment 2010 found that 9.2% of victimized children were sexually assaulted (page 24).
Studies by David Finkelhor , Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center , show that:
- 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse;
- Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident;
- During a one-year period in the U.S., 16% of youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
- Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
- Children are most vulnerable to CSA between the ages of 7 and 13.
According to Darkness to Light , a non-profit committed to empowering adults to prevent child sexual abuse, only about one-third of child sexual abuse incidents are identified, and even fewer are reported .
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children operates the CyberTipline , a national mechanism for the public and electronic service providers to report instances of suspected child sexual exploitation.
In 2018 the CyberTipline received more than 18.4 million reports, most of which related to:
- Apparent child sexual abuse images.
- Online enticement, including "sextortion."
- Child sex trafficking.
- Child sexual molestation.
Since its inception, the CyberTipline has received more than 48 million reports.
Those statistics are grim. ( source )
When my children's father passed away, it wasn't too long afterward that I left my corporate job. I volunteered when the company began layoffs and took a small payment and my retirement fund to start a new life writing freelance. It wasn't long after that when I started this website.
I wanted to be home when they got back from school every day. I didn't want them to seem like prey to those looking for children with weak support systems. My own daughters could so easily have had a story like the one Jennifer has told.
I know that what I did is not possible for every family that suffers a loss. I was pretty fortunate to be able to find work from home that paid enough to allow me to be there.
What you, as a parent, must understand are the things that make your child seem vulnerable.
- Social isolation and few, if any, friends
- Lack of a support system from parents and caregivers
- Spending too much time on their own
- Alienation from parents
Some signs that your child could be getting abused or groomed.
- Sudden secretiveness regarding their phone or computer (a lot of grooming happens online
- Spending a great deal of time alone with another adult
- Signs of increased anger or fear
- Lack of participation in things that used to bring them happiness
- Withdrawal from family and friends
Obviously, these lists are not comprehensive, nor are they sure signs of abuse. What teenager doesn't seem angry and withdrawn from time to time? But it's vital, no matter how hard they push you away, to stay involved, particularly after a traumatic event.
Here are some resources you may find helpful.
Teach your kids that some secrets should not be kept.
- Essential Self-Defense Tactics ANY Woman Can Learn
- Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane)
- The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence
- Child Safety resources from Gavin de Becker and Associates
- National Resources for Sexual Assault Survivors and their Loved Ones
- Darkness to Light – End Child Sexual Abuse
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
- Alliance to Rescue Victims of Trafficking
Predators manipulate children in all sorts of ways. One of the biggest ways is warning them to keep their "relationship" a secret or else.
Or else what?
- They'll hurt Mom or Dad
- They'll hurt the child's pet
- They'll hurt the child's siblings
- They'll cause extreme financial problems for the family
Predators often put a burden on a child where they feel as though they must stay silent to protect the people they love.
Kids need to know that if anyone threatens them if they tell a secret, then they absolutely must tell that secret. Mom and Dad will be safe and will protect them. People who ask children to keep their presence in their lives a secret are never to be trusted.
And finally, make sure your children know that whatever they tell you, you will believe them and you know it's not their fault.
Aug 15, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Sanders (D)(1): "Why the Rich Want to Bury Bernie, the Not-Really-Socialist" [Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report (CI)]. Really excellent.
"The reason the ruler's have decreed 'anybody but Bernie' is that Sanders' (and to a lesser perceived degree, Warren's) campaign proposals challenge the austerity regime that has been relentlessly erected since the 1970s precisely to set American workers and the whole capitalist world on a Race to the Bottom, in which each year brings lower living standards and more insecurity to the population at large.
The obscene increases in wealth inequality are the desired result and true essence of austerity."
There's much more, but this on local oligarchies is important: "the top one-tenth of one percent (.1%) of the population -- households making $2.757 million a year -- now number almost 200,000 families, a cohort big enough to create and inhabit a large and coherent social world of its own.
From their rich enclaves in every state of the country, this formidable "base" of truly wealthy folks effectively dictate the politics of their regions for the benefit of themselves and the oligarchs at the top of the pyramid. "
Aug 15, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Grant , , , August 15, 2019 at 3:50 pm
"they = the voters in the Dem primaries?"
Isn't it interesting that the Democrats are only about a third of the country now, but because they and the other rotten party have rigged our political system so no other parties can emerge, that they essentially will determine who will go up against Trump? The Democratic voters are just as lost as the politicians they vote for. Turnout is often low for primaries within that party, in a party that only a third of the country identifies with, and there is little chance that anyone will get a majority of voters. So, it is entirely possible that the person chosen to go against Trump will have support of, what, 4-5% of the US electorate? And if they are stupid enough to choose Biden, and they are, the general election will be Biden vs Trump. The USSR at least ended in interesting ways. We're just going to vote in two corrupt, out of touch and mentally declining frauds to throw hot garbage at each other, and what is the left supposed to do? There will never be a better argument for a third party if those two are the options given to us by the duds in the two major parties. I can't even contemplate who Biden would choose as his VP, and possibly lock us into a decade of hell, and then the environmental crisis hits.
notabanker , , August 15, 2019 at 4:28 pm
If the US electorate allows 4-5% to decide, then they deserve who they get. It’s not difficult to vote in a primary.
Grant , , August 15, 2019 at 5:07 pm
It is not an issue in regards to difficulty, generally, it is the options people are given and how often it is that the options people are given are net negatives regardless as to who wins, and people realizing that what the general public wants is not reflected in policy. Bernie is an exceptuon, and look at all the nonsense thrown at him, and all the undemocratic means those in power use to maintain their power. I am not saying that justifies inactivity, but it does help to explain it. But, lets say Biden or someone similar is chosen by Democrats in the primaries. What percentage of the electorate, given all I mentioned, will have chosen him?
edmondo , , August 15, 2019 at 5:29 pm
If the US electorate allows 4-5% to decide, then they deserve who they get. It’s not difficult to vote in a primary.
Depends where you live. If you live in most states and you want to vote in a Democratic Party presidential primary, you have to be registered as a Democrat. Here in AZ I can vote for every office except president by being a No Party Preference voter registrant. If I want to vote against Joe Biden, I have to change my voter registration to “D”. Not gonna happen.
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Grant , August 15, 2019 at 8:07 pm
“Here in California, owned and operated by the Democratic Party, voting for someone other than the approved candidate could quickly get your vote “lost” or “disqualified” and that is not mentioning the rigging of convention delegates.”
This ultimately why Bernie is up against it. I think he has a real shot to win and am not very concerned about the polls, he is doing well despite all that is aligned against him. Palast showed what that rotten party did in 2016 in the primaries (it is entirely possible that Bernie won the state or at least came even closer to winning), and you could include tons since. My favorite was how they used superdelegates at the state level in California to get Bauman to lead the state party, and he had to resign in shame. He was previously a pharma lobbyist that was paid to lobby the state against bargaining down the price of drugs. Then there is stuff like this:
As the DNC has argued in court though, they don’t have to run a fair primary and can pick whoever those at the top of the party want, right? It would be amazing if someone within the DNC and the state party here (I live in Southern California) would leak what they are doing. Not expecting it, but it would be great.
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Carey , August 15, 2019 at 6:33 pm
“It’s not difficult to vote in a primary.”
True. However, if one is voting™ for
a non-corporatist candidate, getting
that vote counted has been problematic,
and I expect it to be more so in 2020:
Off The Street , August 15, 2019 at 4:06 pm
Once people spoke of TINA. Biden’s campaign now gives rise to VANITY.
Apr 02, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Zachary Smith , Apr 1, 2019 5:14:39 PM | 93 ">link
@ bevin #90But that doesn't bother Trump, Bolton, Pompeo and their mob. They think quarter by quarter. Immediate gratification is the name of their game. They know that "in the long run we are all dead". And they don't care what happens then.
Your viewpoint is the same as that of Jonathon Cook. He says "Russiagate" was a faction fight between two groups of the Power Elites.
One wanted to keep 'putting the lipstick on the pig' which is predatory Capitalism, and the other wants to let it all hang out and rape the planet NOW.
Just as there was a clueless "liberal" cheering group for Mueller, the Looters have a fan club among the "right". Both sets of the applauding groups are just puppets. And of course neither has recognized their true role in the unfolding dramas.
Aug 13, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne , August 12, 2019 at 10:57 AMhttp://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/yet-another-new-york-times-column-gets-the-story-on-automation-and-inequality-completely-wronganne , August 12, 2019 at 11:01 AM
August 12, 2019
Yet Another New York Times Column Gets the Story on Automation and Inequality Completely Wrong
By Dean Baker
I am a big fan of expanding the welfare state but I am also a big fan of reality-based analysis. For this reason, it's hard not to be upset over yet another column * telling us that the robots are taking all the jobs and that this will lead to massive inequality.
The first part is more than a little annoying just because it is so completely and unambiguously at odds with reality. Productivity growth, which is the measure of the rate at which robots and other technologies are taking jobs, has been extremely slow in recent years. It has averaged just 1.3 percent annually since 2005. That compares to an annual rate of 3.0 percent from 1995 to 2005 and in the long Golden Age from 1947 to 1973.
In addition, all the official projections from places like the Congressional Budget Office and Social Security Administration assume that productivity growth will remain slow. That could prove wrong, but the people projecting a massive pick up of productivity growth are certainly against the tide here.
But the other part of the story is even more annoying. No, technology does not generate inequality. Our policy on technology generates inequality. We have rules (patent and copyright monopolies) that allow people to own technology.
Bill Gates is incredibly rich because the government will arrest anyone who mass produces copies of Microsoft software without his permission. If anyone could freely reproduce Windows and other software, without even sending a thank you note, Bill Gates would still be working for a living.
The same applies to prescription drugs, medical equipment, and other tech sectors where some people are getting very rich. In all of these cases, these items would be cheap without patent, copyrights, or related monopolies, and no one would be getting hugely rich.
At this point, there are undoubtedly people jumping up and down yelling "without patent and copyright monopolies people would have no incentive to innovate." This yelling is very helpful in making the point. If we have structured these incentives in ways that lead to great inequality and not very much innovation (as measured by productivity growth) then we should probably be looking to alter our structure of incentives. (Yes this is the topic of Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer - it's free. * )
In any case, this is the point. The inequality that results from technology is the result of our policies on technology, not the technology itself. Maybe one day the New York Times will allow a columnist to state this obvious truth in its opinion section.
Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer
By Dean Baker
The Old Technology and Inequality Scam: The Story of Patents and Copyrights
One of the amazing lines often repeated by people in policy debates is that, as a result of technology, we are seeing income redistributed from people who work for a living to the people who own the technology. While the redistribution part of the story may be mostly true, the problem is that the technology does not determine who "owns" the technology. The people who write the laws determine who owns the technology.
Specifically, patents and copyrights give their holders monopolies on technology or creative work for their duration. If we are concerned that money is going from ordinary workers to people who hold patents and copyrights, then one policy we may want to consider is shortening and weakening these monopolies. But policy has gone sharply in the opposite direction over the last four decades, as a wide variety of measures have been put into law that make these protections longer and stronger. Thus, the redistribution from people who work to people who own the technology should not be surprising -- that was the purpose of the policy.
If stronger rules on patents and copyrights produced economic dividends in the form of more innovation and more creative output, then this upward redistribution might be justified. But the evidence doesn't indicate there has been any noticeable growth dividend associated with this upward redistribution. In fact, stronger patent protection seems to be associated with slower growth.
Before directly considering the case, it is worth thinking for a minute about what the world might look like if we had alternative mechanisms to patents and copyrights, so that the items now subject to these monopolies could be sold in a free market just like paper cups and shovels.
The biggest impact would be in prescription drugs. The breakthrough drugs for cancer, hepatitis C, and other diseases, which now sell for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, would instead sell for a few hundred dollars. No one would have to struggle to get their insurer to pay for drugs or scrape together the money from friends and family. Almost every drug would be well within an affordable price range for a middle-class family, and covering the cost for poorer families could be easily managed by governments and aid agencies.
The same would be the case with various medical tests and treatments. Doctors would not have to struggle with a decision about whether to prescribe an expensive scan, which might be the best way to detect a cancerous growth or other health issue, or to rely on cheaper but less reliable technology. In the absence of patent protection even the most cutting edge scans would be reasonably priced.
Health care is not the only area that would be transformed by a free market in technology and creative work. Imagine that all the textbooks needed by college students could be downloaded at no cost over the web and printed out for the price of the paper. Suppose that a vast amount of new books, recorded music, and movies was freely available on the web.
People or companies who create and innovate deserve to be compensated, but there is little reason to believe that the current system of patent and copyright monopolies is the best way to support their work. It's not surprising that the people who benefit from the current system are reluctant to have the efficiency of patents and copyrights become a topic for public debate, but those who are serious about inequality have no choice. These forms of property claims have been important drivers of inequality in the last four decades.
The explicit assumption behind the steps over the last four decades to increase the strength and duration of patent and copyright protection is that the higher prices resulting from increased protection will be more than offset by an increased incentive for innovation and creative work. Patent and copyright protection should be understood as being like very large tariffs. These protections can often the raise the price of protected items by several multiples of the free market price, making them comparable to tariffs of several hundred or even several thousand percent. The resulting economic distortions are comparable to what they would be if we imposed tariffs of this magnitude.
The justification for granting these monopoly protections is that the increased innovation and creative work that is produced as a result of these incentives exceeds the economic costs from patent and copyright monopolies. However, there is remarkably little evidence to support this assumption. While the cost of patent and copyright protection in higher prices is apparent, even if not well-measured, there is little evidence of a substantial payoff in the form of a more rapid pace of innovation or more and better creative work....
Aug 04, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com
"Thus we see how the neoliberal utopia tends to embody itself in the reality of a kind of infernal machine, whose necessity imposes itself even upon the rulers. Like the Marxism of an earlier time, with which, in this regard, it has much in common, this utopia evokes powerful belief - the free trade faith - not only among those who live off it, such as financiers, the owners and managers of large corporations, etc., but also among those, such as high-level government officials and politicians, who derive their justification for existing from it.
For they sanctify the power of markets in the name of economic efficiency, which requires the elimination of administrative or political barriers capable of inconveniencing the owners of capital in their individual quest for the maximisation of individual profit, which has been turned into a model of rationality. They want independent central banks.
And they preach the subordination of nation-states to the requirements of economic freedom for the masters of the economy, with the suppression of any regulation of any market, beginning with the labour market, the prohibition of deficits and inflation, the general privatisation of public services, and the reduction of public and social expenses."
Pierre Bourdieu, L'essence du néolibéralisme
Aug 02, 2019 | www.unz.com
Jacques Sheete , says: August 2, 2019 at 12:16 pm GMT@Bert
Democracy was the next step, but it only works in small polities.
And for very short periods of time.
Anyway, yours is a key concept that most 'Merkins are completely ignorant of, yet some of the anti-federalists were aware of it. Here, Brutus questions whether "democracy" is sensible in a nation of three million !
Now, in a large extended country, it is impossible to have a representation, possessing the sentiments, and of integrity, to declare the minds of the people, without having it so numerous and unwieldly, as to be subject in great measure to the inconveniency of a democratic government.
The territory of the United States is of vast extent; it now contains near three millions of souls, and is capable of containing much more than ten times that number. Is it practicable for a country, so large and so numerous as they will soon become, to elect a representation, that will speak their sentiments, without their becoming so numerous as to be incapable of transacting public business?
It certainly is not.
Brutus, (Robert Yates), To the Citizens of the State of New-York, October 18, 1787
Aug 01, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to Paine ... , July 27, 2019 at 04:41 AMNot all prayers are answered. The two party system intervened in the US political process to elect its representation and leadership a long time ago. The two party system is not constitutional, but it is not unconstitutional either. It just is. The two party system takes all the air out of the political room. The two party system institutionalizes the capture of the political process by special interests, dichotomized into two differently armed powers of equal importance. The first is the moneyed interests of corporate wealth and power which provide media access and control. The second is the social interests of large voting blocks that are not in certain conflict with corporate money. To get elected politicians must then pander for cheap votes and the money to buy them with. How could Russians possibly compete with that?ilsm -> RC (Ron) Weakley... , July 27, 2019 at 04:49 AMTwo party system!RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to ilsm... , July 27, 2019 at 05:27 AM
if you have to ask the FBI who you can talk to (what the democrats call election security).....
you end up with a two sided coin with one face.
fortunately both parties have
the best interest of the Saudi
royal family and the war machine
covered.Remember that the Bill of Rights was just an afterthought to the US Constitution that was deemed necessary to obtain ratification without further insurrection by the people. The US Constitution itself had not blatantly encompassed the creation of the two party system, but such division of special interests was evident from the participants division of economic interests. First and foremost, the US Constitution was about the preservation of property rights despite the division between what was considered valuable property in the North and what was considered valuable property in the South. A stable, yet plutocratic, republic was necessary for the preservation of all property rights. The US was founded as an ownership state, "for the Government of the People, by the People, and for the People," ( John Wycliffe in 1384 subsequently quote by Abe Lincoln) just not for and by all the people.Joe -> RC (Ron) Weakley... , July 27, 2019 at 10:09 AMWhy do I have the larger view here? Well, the Constitution is fairly simple when the two other branches do their job. The other two branches cannot do their job. Obama couldn't do his job without losing four elections. The current Congress cannot do its job, for a variety of reasons. We are in that period when legislation is not working, the money is tied up in interest payments, and the new generation refuses to pay for all the rolled over losses from past Congressional failures. We are sort of stuck with an inoperable Constitution.RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to Joe... , July 28, 2019 at 06:27 AM"Why do I have the larger view here?..."JohnH -> RC (Ron) Weakley... , July 27, 2019 at 06:49 AM
Having some diced chicken in your scrambled eggs? It certainly must be an appealing way to answer the age old question of which came first.]A two party system is just one step from a one party system. Tight oligopoly instead of monopoly.RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to JohnH... , July 27, 2019 at 07:25 AM
The wealthy have to spread their largesse around a little bit more, but not as much as they would if they had to buy 4-5 parties. Plus, in a two party system, there are always stooges in waiting, eager to serve, in case the incumbent stooges go too far off the rails.Exactly.
Aug 01, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
Plp -> Plp... , July 31, 2019 at 01:48 PMEven a compulsory choice between two poisons is preferred to being forced to take the designated poison
likbez -> Plp... , August 01, 2019 at 09:40 AM> Even a compulsory choice between two poisons is preferred to being forced to take the designated poison
It's two batches of the same poison. One is artificially sweetened.
Jul 22, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
somebody , Jul 22 2019 7:55 utc | 113Trumpism turns elitist .On the final night of this past week's National Conservatism Conference, Senator Josh Hawley -- a graduate of Stanford and Yale and a former instructor at an English private school -- warned the attendees gathered in the ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Washington, D.C., about the threat of élite cosmopolitanism. "The politics of those left and right have been informed by a political consensus that reflects the interests not of the American middle but of a powerful upper class and their cosmopolitan priorities," he intoned. "This class lives in the United States, but they identify as citizens of the world. They run businesses or oversee universities here, but their primary loyalty is to the global community, and they subscribe to a set of values held by similar élites in other places." He went on to name those values: "The importance of global integration and the danger of national loyalties; the priority of social change over tradition, career over community and achievement and merit and progress. Call it the cosmopolitan consensus.""Let us be candid," she concluded. "Europe and the first world, to which the United States belongs, remain mostly white for now, and the third world, although mixed, contains a lot of nonwhite people. Embracing cultural-distance nationalism means, in effect, taking the position that our country will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites. Well, that is the result, anyway. So, even if our immigration philosophy is grounded firmly in cultural concerns, it doesn't rely on race at all. And, no matter how many times we repeat the mantra that correlation is not causation, these racial dimensions are enough to spook conservatives."
Sep 07, 2011 | politicalissues.blog.com
Posted by Political Issues in Sep 07, 2011, under IssuesWho really holds power in the United States' Do "we the people" genuinely run the country through elected representatives? Or is there small elite of Americans that governs behind the scenes? It is difficult to determine the location of power in a society as complex as the Unite States In exploring this critical question, social scientists have developed two basic views of our nation's power structure the elite and pluralism models.
Karl Marx essentially believed that nineteenth century representative democracy was a shape.
He argued that industrial societies were dominated by relatively small numbers of people who owned factories and controlled natural resources.
In Marx's view, government officials and military leaders were essentially servants of the capitalist class and followed their wishes therefore, any key decisions made by politicians inevitably reflected the interests of the dominant bourgeoisie Like others who hold an elite model of power relations, Marx thus believed that society is ruled by a small group of individuals who share a common set of political and economic interests.
The Power Elite . In his pioneering work. The Power Elite , sociologist C. Wright Mills described the existence of a small ruling elite of military, industrial, and governmental leaders who controlled the fate of the United States. Power rested in the hands of a few, both inside and outside of government -- the power elite . In Mill's words:
The power elite is composed of men whose positions enable them to transcend the ordinary environments of ordinary men and women, they are in positions to make decisions having major consequences. They arc in command of the major hierarchies and organizations of modern society.
In Mills's model, the power structure of the United States can be illustrated by the use of a pyramid. At the top are the corporate rich, leaders of the executive branch of government, and heads of the military (whom Kills called the "warlords"). Below this triumvirate are local opinion leaders, members of the legislative branch of government, and leaders of special-interest groups. Mills contended that such individuals and groups would basically follow the wishes of the dominant power elite. At the bottom of society are the unorganized, exploited masses.
This power elite model is, in many respects, similar to the work of Karl Marx. The most striking difference is that Mills felt that the economically powerful coordinate their maneuvers with the military and political establishments in order to serve their mutual interests. Yet, reminiscent of Marx. Mills argued that the corporate rich were perhaps the most powerful element of the power elite (first among "equals"). And, of course, there is a further dramatic parallel between the work of these conflict theorists The powerless masses at the bottom of Mills's power elite model certainly bring to mind Marx's portrait of the oppressed workers of the world, who have "nothing to lose but their chains".
Mills failed to provide detailed case studies which would substantiate the interrelationship among members of the power elite. Instead, he suggested that such foreign policy decisions as America's entry into the Korean war reflected a determination by business and military leaders that each could benefit from such armed conflict. In Mills s view, such a sharing of perspectives was facilitated by the frequent interchange of commanding roles among the elite. For example, a banker might become the leader of a federal regulatory commission overseeing financial institutions, and a retired general might move to an executive position with a major defense contracting firm.
A fundamental element in Mills's thesis is that the power elite not only has relatively few members but also operates as a self-conscious, cohesive unit. Although not necessarily diabolical or ruthless, the elite comprises similar types of people who regularly interact with one another and have essentially the same political and economic interests. Mills's power elite is not a conspiracy but rather a community of interest and sentiment among a small number of influential Americans.
Admittedly, Mills failed to clarify when the elite acts and when it tolerates protests. Nevertheless, his challenging theories forced scholars to look more critically at the "democratic" political system of the United States.
The Ruling Class
Sociologist G. William Domhoff agreed with Mills that American society is run by a powerful elite. But, rather than fully accepting Mills's power elite model, Domhoff argued that the United States is controlled by a social upper class "that is a ruling class by virtue of its dominant role in the economy and government". This socially cohesive ruling class owns 20 to 25 percent of all privately held wealth and 45 to 50 percent of all privately held common stock.
Unlike Mills, Domhoff was quite specific about who belongs to this social upper class. Membership comes through being pan of a family recognized in The Social Register -- the directory of the social elite in many American cities. Attendance at prestigious private schools and membership in exclusive social clubs are further indications that a person comes from America's social upper class. Domhoff estimates that about 0.5 percent of the American population (or 1 of every 200 people) belongs to this social and political elite.
Of course, this would mean that the ruling class has more than 1 million members and could hardly achieve the cohesiveness that Mills attributed to the power elite. However, Domhoff adds that the social upper class as a whole does not rule the nation. Instead, members of this class who have assumed leadership roles within the corporate community or the nation's policy-planning network join with high-level employees of profit-making and nonprofit institutions controlled by the social upper class to exercise power.
In Domhoff's view, the ruling class should not be seen in a conspiratorial way, as "sinister men lurking behind the throne." On the contrary they tend to hold public positions of authority. Almost all important appointive government posts -- including those of diplomats and cabinet members -- are filled by members of the social upper class. Domhoff contends that members of this class dominate powerful corporations, foundations, universities, and the executive branch of government. They control presidential nominations and the political party process through campaign contributions. In addition, the ruling class exerts a significant (though not absolute) influence within Congress and units of state and local government.
Perhaps the major difference between the elite models of Mills and Domhoff is that Mills insisted on the relative autonomy of the political elite and attached great significance to the independent power of the military. By contrast, Domhoff suggests that high-level government and military leaders serve the interests of the social upper class. Both theorists, in line with a Marxian approach, assume that the rich are interested only in what benefits them financially. Furthermore, as advocates of elite models of power. Mills and Domhoff argue that the masses of American people have no real influence on the decisions of the powerful.
One criticism of the elite model is that its advocates sometimes suggest that elites are always victorious. With this in mind, sociologist J. Alien Whitt (1982) examined the efforts of California's business elites to support urban mass transit. He found that lobbying by these elites was successful in San Francisco but failed in Los Angeles. Whitt points out that opponents of policies backed by elites can mobilize to thwart their implementation.
Domhoff admits that the ruling class does not exercise total control over American society. However, he counters that this elite is able to set political terms under which other groups and classes must operate. Consequently, although the ruling class may lose on a particular issue, it will not allow serious challenges to laws which guarantee its economic privileges and political domination.Pluralist Model
Several social scientists have questioned the elite models of power relations proposed by Marx, Mills, Domhoff, and other conflict theorists. Quite simply, the critics insist that power in the United States is more widely shared than the elite model indicates. In their view, a pluralist model more accurately describes the American political system. According to the pluralist model , "many conflicting groups within the community have access to government officials and compete with one another in an effort to influence policy decisions".
Veto Groups . David Riesman's The Lonely Crowd suggested that the American political system could best be understood through examination of the power of veto groups. The term veto groups refers to interest groups that have the capacity to prevent the exercise of power by others. Functionally, they serve to increase political participation by preventing the concentration of political power. Examples cited by Riesman include farm groups, labor unions, professional associations, and racial and ethnic groups. Whereas Mills pointed to the dangers of rule by an undemocratic power elite, Riesman insisted that veto groups could effectively paralyze the nation's political processes by blocking anyone from exercising needed leadership functions. In Riesman's words, "The only leaders of national scope left in the United States are those who can placate the veto groups".
Dahl's Study of Pluralism . Community studies of power have also supported the pluralist model. One of the most famous -- an investigation of decision making in New Haven, Connecticut -- was reported by Robert Dahl in his book, Who Governs? (1961). Dahl found that while the number of people involved in any important decision was rather small, community power was nonetheless diffuse. Few political actors exercised decision-making power on all issues. Therefore, one individual or group might be influential in a battle over urban renewal but at the same time might have little impact over educational policy. Several other studies of local politics, in such communities as Chicago and Oberlin, Ohio, further document that monolithic power structures do not operate on the level of local government.
Just as the elite model has been challenged on political and methodological grounds, the pluralist model has been subjected to serious questioning. Domhoff (1978) reexamined Dahl's study of decision making in New Haven and argued that Dahl and other pluralists had failed to trace how local elites prominent in decision making were part of a larger national ruling class. In addition, studies of community power, such as Dahl's work in New Haven, can examine decision making only on issues which become pan of the political agenda. This focus fails to address the possible power of elites to keep certain matters entirely out of the realm of government debate. Conflict theorists contend that these elites will not allow any outcome of the political process which threatens their dominance. Indeed, they may even be strong enough to block discussion of such measures by policymakers.
Jul 10, 2019 | www.unz.com
Originally from THE NEW YORK TIMES • JULY 9, 2019 • 17 COMMENTS
Powerful elites enabled the financier accused of trafficking underage girls
In 2003, the journalist Vicky Ward profiled Jeffrey Epstein , the financier indicted Monday on charges of sexually abusing and trafficking underage girls, for Vanity Fair. Her piece painted him as an enigmatic Jay Gatsby type, a boy from a middle-class family in Brooklyn who had scaled the rungs of the plutocracy, though no one could quite figure out how he made his money. It detailed dubious business dealings and mentioned that Epstein often had lots of beautiful young women around. But it left out Ward's most important finding.
Twelve years later, in The Daily Beast , Ward wrote about how, in the course of her reporting, two sisters allegedly preyed upon by Epstein, as well as their mother, had spoken to her on the record. But shortly before the story went to press, Ward wrote, the Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter cut that section, saying, of Epstein, "He's sensitive about the young women." ( In a statement on Monday , Carter said Ward's reporting hadn't been solid enough.)
Over the last couple of months, Ward told me, she's started going through transcripts of the interviews about Epstein she did more than 16 years ago. "What is so amazing to me is how his entire social circle knew about this and just blithely overlooked it," she said of his penchant for adolescents. While praising his charm, brilliance and generous donations to Harvard, those she spoke to, she said, "all mentioned the girls, as an aside."
On Saturday evening, more than a decade after receiving a sweetheart plea deal in an earlier sex crime case, Epstein was arrested after getting off a private flight from Paris. He has been accused of exploiting and abusing "dozens" of minor girls, some as young as 14, and conspiring with others to traffic them. Epstein's arrest was the rare event that gratified right and left alike, both because it seemed that justice might finally be done, and because each side has reason to believe that if Epstein goes down, he could bring some of its enemies with him.
Both sides are likely right. The Epstein case is first and foremost about the casual victimization of vulnerable girls. But it is also a political scandal, if not a partisan one. It reveals a deep corruption among mostly male elites across parties, and the way the very rich can often purchase impunity for even the most loathsome of crimes. If it were fiction, it would be both too sordid and too on-the-nose to be believable, like a season of "True Detective" penned by a doctrinaire Marxist.
Mungerite , says: July 9, 2019 at 8:50 pm GMTfoolisholdman , says: July 9, 2019 at 9:31 pm GMT
The funny thing about the Trump quote in the original NYMag article on Epstein is that it's probably the most honest description of the guy, with a none-too-subtle nod to the man's predilections.
http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/people/n_7912/George , says: July 9, 2019 at 10:29 pm GMT
"The Ultimate Symbol"? I beg leave to doubt it! I suspect that the plutocratic rot is very wide and very deep and "Kiddy fiddling" which is what Jeffrey Epstein seems to be accused of, is only a small (and not the worst) part of it. If he "sings" I think there is no telling how far it will go, but probably he won't and this whole evil mess will slink back into the shadows and silence, with the active help of the media.
Come to think about it, probably even if he does sing, that too will be supressed.Sean , says: July 10, 2019 at 2:07 am GMT
China feared CIA worked with Sheldon Adelson's Macau casinos to snare officials
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/22/china-cia-sheldon-adelson-macau-casinoskarlof1 , Jul 11 2019 5:28 utc | 130
Ward wrote about how, in the course of her reporting, two sisters allegedly preyed upon by Epstein, as well as their mother, had spoken to her on the record.
They said they were all over 18 in other words. He certainly had young women about but Michael Wolff said they ones he say on his plane were visibly late teens or twenty.
No way in hell would someone be trusted with billionaire's money who had ovbiously under age girls around him and was heading for a plea deal in which he might be under so much pressure he would reveal his clients' financial crimes . And it is hardly in keeping with the Gatsby image so important to him. I think he had the young but legal girls for show, no one saw the obvious children but him. He kept the criminal conduct away from visitors, especially ones he posed as a philanthropist to. Someone in his position could not afford to get a reputation for having criminal culpability in anything. He was tax scam artist, and secret sex offender.
On Saturday evening, more than a decade after receiving a sweetheart plea deal in an earlier sex crime case, Epstein was arrested after getting off a private flight from Paris. He has been accused of exploiting and abusing "dozens" of minor girls, some as young as 14, and conspiring with others to traffic them.
People with his money rarely plead guilty. He admitted guilt to get the deal. The new charges he is arrested on say he was the only customer or client , so "trafficking" is quite deceptive.
In the deal he never admitted having actual sex with any of the girls, and he insists he thought they were over 18, so basically all he has ever got a deal on was acts well short of sex with 16-18 years olds who were paid.
Some of them named in the old indictment are now saying they were 2 years younger and had sex with all these VIPs. Doubt it. Still, Epstein's previous admissions mean nobody will believe him if a girl says she was 14 not 18, and he is a tempting target tor civil suits which testifying in a criminal case are a basis for. I don't see him as being all that powerful because money makes you a continuing target of people wanting financial restitution from people down on their luck and no longer able to make money from their looks.
Getting a sweet plea deal for those things was just storing up trouble for the future for someone as rich as him.mrtmbrnmn @127Shyaku , Jul 11 2019 5:38 utc | 132
Cernovich and Dershowitz filed their suit on 19 JAN 2017, 10 days after Trump's inauguration. Obama's DoJ screwed up and the judge ruled in their favor 2.5 years later. Then Epstein's immediately arrested.
This RT article reminds us the Republicans tried to use Bill's links with Epstein during the 2016 election, while providing other details. Maybe the stories used in the Steele Dossier on Trump aren't from Russia at all but were collected through Epstein's operation?
Perhaps Trump is the target? Time will tell.Epstein, being richer, gets to act out Weiner's fantasy for approximately the same price as the fantasy. If Epstein was Mossad, then what is arch-zio Dershowitz doing in the trap?Krollchem , Jul 11 2019 5:46 utc | 133
- Shyaku"Jeffrey Epstein shipped a shredder from the U.S. Virgin Islands to his Palm Beach home in July 2008, shortly after reaching a non-prosecution agreement with then-U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta, maritime records show. Then, in March of this year, shortly after a Florida federal judge invalidated that agreement, Epstein shipped a tile and carpet extractor from the Virgin Islands to his Manhattan townhouse, the records show."anon , Jul 11 2019 7:19 utc | 135
Mobster jeffrey epstein's wealth didn't come from being a "financier" ( he is a dull wit w/o market knowledge), it came from his fellow co-mobster , steven hoffenberger , swindling over $650 million from gullible goys in Towers Financial.
I believe nearly all of these ((( "financiers" and "hedge fund managers" ))) are just money laundering for the massive Israhell mob. Most are operated from offshore banks, without auditing, I.e. soros' quantum fund.curious man , Jul 11 2019 8:52 utc | 138
Posted by: asdf | Jul 10 2019 18:13 utc | 1
Possible Mossad connection via Ghislaine Maxwell. https://www.unz.com/isteve/jeffrey-epstein-and-foreign-intelligence/
Spying for Israel Is Consequence Free
Jul 10, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
xbkrisback , 1 hour agosmacker , 1 hour ago
I think I figured this scam out. US gives Israel billions each year. Israel gives some of that money to Epstein for a hedge fund front. Epstein buys island, planes, mansions, power and influence. Hires attractive under age girls for sexual acts with elites. Tapes the sexual acts. Sends tapes back to Mossad. Blackmails elites for money and favors. Sends money and favors back to Mossad. Epstein keeps the vig. Elites just **** their pants. Elites suicide rate increases dramatically over the next six months.cayman , 46 minutes ago
Yes, the blackmailing would not just be for money but foreign policy actions too. And it isn't just the US, it's the UK too. Hence both suckers are trying to start a war with Iran.RoyalDraco , 17 minutes ago
CCI has the goods on a third of congress and the whole msm. It's why elections haven't mattered in decades. It's why congress can have a 9% approval rating and yet nothing changes. CIA has so many offshore sources of revenue now, it is sovereign now.HideTheWeenie , 1 hour ago
I am not holding my breath for your prediction xbkrisback. Appointing Comey's daughter as the chief prosecutor tells a sorry tale. And Comey and Mueller are best buds.
Epstein will not give up the big names. Bubba took 26 trips to Pedo Island on the Lolita Express to refresh his tan.
5 years at Club Fed and a list of names no one ever heard of. The power structure runs on pedophilia. And the horror of it is that pedophilia is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the abuse of children. Where is Carlos Danger's laptop with Huma's huge "life insurance" file on it? You know, the one that made grizzled NYPD detectives puke when they opened it.johnwburns , 1 hour ago
Epstein outdoes Berlusconi ... Takes bunga bunga parties to the next level - and on the road - in the air - island hopping
Coulter is right ... Nobody in financial circles ever bumped into Epstein. Nobody, nobody knows the guy outside of the teenage ***** connection.cat2005 , 21 minutes ago
Have another look at Tony Podesta's art collection. http://ibankcoin.com/zeropointnow/2016/11/26/sick-lets-revisit-the-podesta-penchant-for-pedophilic-cannibalistic-and-satanic-art/#sthash.6jj0GpQo.dpbsRayUSA , 1 hour ago
I never understood why people claimed Podesta had child abuse links until I read that article. It is enough to make even a hardened Podesta supporter cringe.
I need some mind bleach after reading that.herbivore , 2 hours ago
Obviously, the more powerful people that are involved, the less chance this has of going anywhere.
Coulter's take on this sounds very plausible, because there certainly was evidence gathering by Epstein.
There would be no reason for that unless it was going to be used in the future for black mail.
By the way, that was the favorite tactic of the old pervert that ran the FBI ... J. Edgar Hoover. He would gather evidence, then have a couple of his agents pay the offender a visit, warning them to be careful, while delivering the clear message that the Director has the goods on you.
If Epstein goes to prison (a real prison) for any length of time, that would negate the idea of state sponsorship, would it not? Conversely, if he gets another sweetheart deal, that would confirm it.
Jul 04, 2019 | thefreethoughtproject.com
Brian James July 5, 2019 at 11:24
July 4, 2019 Brave Congressman Blasts 2-Party System as 'Existential Threat to America' then Quits His Party
In an inspiring op-ed on the 4th of July, the now-former Republican Congressman Justin Amash took to destroying the idea of identity politics, notably the two-party system, which he says is destroying the country.
Amash declared that he is no longer going to identify with a party and declared himself an independent.
Jan 02, 2019 | caucus99percent.co
A lot of wanderers in the U.S. political desert recognize that all the duopoly has to offer is a choice of mirages.
Come, let us trudge towards empty expanse of sand #1, littered with the bleached bones of Deaniacs and Hope and Changers.
Jun 26, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org
It is the assessment of the United States Government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today. This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.
This is only the latest in a series of attacks instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its surrogates against American and allied interests, and they should be understood in the context of 40 years of unprovoked aggression against freedom-loving nations.
-- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announcement , June 13, 2013
The secretary of state delivered this appallingly Orwellian official assessment of the US government within hours of the five explosions on two tankers, well before any credible investigation establishing more than minimal facts could be carried out. As is his habit, Mike Pompeo flatly lied about whatever might be real in the Gulf of Oman, and most American media ran with the lies as if they were or might be true. There is almost no chance that Mike Pompeo and the US government are telling the truth about this event, as widespread domestic and international skepticism attests.
Pompeo's official assessment was false even in its staging. For most of his four-minute appearance, Pompeo stood framed by two pictures behind him, each showing a tanker with a fire amidships. This was a deliberate visual lie. The two pictures showed the same tanker, the Norwegian-owned Front Altair , from different angles. The other tanker, Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous , did not catch fire and was not shown.
First, what actually happened, as best we can tell five days later? In the early morning of June 13, two unrelated tankers were heading south out of the Strait of Hormuz, sailing in open water in the Gulf of Oman, roughly 20 miles off the south coast of Iran. The tankers were most likely outside Iran's territorial waters, but within Iran's contiguous zone as defined by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea . At different times, some 30 miles apart, the two tankers were attacked by weapons unknown, launched by parties unknown, for reasons unknown. The first reported distress call was 6:12 a.m. local time. No one has yet claimed responsibility for either attack. The crew of each tanker abandoned ship soon after the explosions and were rescued by ships in the area, including Iranian naval vessels, who took the Front Altair crew to an Iranian port.
Even this much was not certain in the early afternoon of June 13 when Mike Pompeo came to the lectern at the State Department to deliver his verdict:
It is the assessment of the United States Government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today.
Pompeo did not identify the unnamed intelligence entities, if any, within the government who made this assessment. He offered no evidence to support the assessment. He did offer something of an argument that began:
This assessment is based on intelligence .
He didn't say what intelligence. He didn't say whose intelligence. American intelligence assets and technology are all over the region generating reams of intelligence day in, day out. Then there are the intelligence agencies of the Arab police states bordering the Persian Gulf. They, too, are busy collecting intelligence 24/7, although they are sometimes loath to share. Pompeo didn't mention it, but according to CNN an unnamed US official admitted that the US had a Reaper Drone in the air near the two tankers before they were attacked. He also claimed that Iran had fired a missile at the drone, but missed. As CNN inanely spins it, "it is the first claim that the US has information of Iranian movements prior to the attack." As if the US doesn't have information on Iranian movements all the time . More accurately, this is the first admission that the US had operational weaponry in the area prior to the attack. After intelligence, Pompeo continued:
This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used .
Pompeo did not name a single weapon used. Early reporting claimed the attackers used torpedoes or mines, a claim that became inoperative as it became clear that all the damage to the tankers was well above the waterline. There is little reason to believe Pompeo had any actual knowledge of what weapons were used, unless one was a Reaper Drone. He went on:
This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation
The "level of expertise needed" to carry out these attacks on a pair of sitting duck tankers does not appear to be that great. Yes, the Iranian military probably has the expertise, as do the militaries of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Israel, or others with a stake in provoking a crisis in the region. And those who lack the expertise still have the money with which to hire expert surrogates. The number of credible suspects, known and unknown, with an interest in doing harm to Iran is easily in double figures. Leading any serious list should be the US. That's perfectly logical, so Pompeo tried to divert attention from the obvious:
This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping .
There are NO confirmed "recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping," and even if there were, they would prove nothing. Pompeo's embarrassingly irrelevant list that follows includes six examples, only one of which involved a shipping attack. The one example was the May 12, 2019, attack on four ships at anchor in the deep water port of Fujairah. Even the multinational investigation organized by the UAE could not determine who did it. The UAE reported to the UN Security Council that the perpetrator was likely some unnamed "state actor." The logical suspects and their surrogates are the same as those for the most recent attack.
Instead of "recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping," Pompeo offers Iran's decades-old threat to close the Strait of Hormuz (which it's never done), together with three attacks by the Houthis on Saudi Arabia, an unattributed rocket attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad, and an unattributed car bomb in Afghanistan. Seriously, if that's all he's got, he's got nothing. But he's not done with the disinformation exercise:
This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.
The whole proxy group thing is redundant, covered by "the level of expertise needed" mentioned earlier. Pompeo doesn't name any proxy group here, he doesn't explain how he could know there's no proxy group that could carry out such an attack, and he just throws word garbage at the wall and hopes something sticks that will make you believe – no evidence necessary – that Iran is evil beyond redemption:
Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran.
The attacks in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Afghanistan have all been provoked by the US and its allies. The US has long been a clear threat to international peace and security, except when the US was actually trashing peace and security, as it did in Iraq, as it seems to want to do in Iran. There is, indeed, "an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension," but it's a campaign by the US. The current phase began when the Trump administration pulled out of the multinational nuclear deal with Iran. The US wages economic warfare on Iran even though Iran continues to abide by the Trump-trashed treaty. All the other signatories and inspectors confirm that Iran has abided by the agreement. But Iran is approaching a point of violation, which it has been warning about for some time. The other signatories allow the US to bully them into enforcing US sanctions at their own cost against a country in compliance with its promises. China, Russia, France, GB, Germany, and the EU are all craven in the face of US threats. That's what the US wants from Iran.
Lately, Trump and Pompeo and their ilk have been whining about not wanting war and claiming they want to negotiate, while doing nothing to make negotiation more possible. Iran has observed US actions and has rejected negotiating with an imperial power with a decades-long record of bad faith. Lacking any serious act of good faith by the US, does Iran have any other rational choice? Pompeo makes absolutely clear just how irrational, how dishonest, how implacable and untrustworthy the US is when he accuses Iran of:
40 years of unprovoked aggression against freedom-loving nations.
This is Big Lie country. Forty years ago, the Iranians committed their original sin – they overthrew one of the world's most brutal dictatorships, imposed on them by the US. Then they took Americans hostage, and the US has been playing the victim ever since, out of all proportion to reality or justice. But the Pompeos of this world still milk it for all it's worth. What about "unprovoked aggression," who does that? The US list is long and criminal, including its support of Saddam Hussein's war of aggression against Iran. Iran's list of "unprovoked aggressions" is pretty much zero, unless you go back to the Persian Empire. No wonder Pompeo took no question on his statement. The Big Lie is supposed to be enough.
The US is stumbling down a path toward war with no justification. Democrats should have objected forcefully and continuously long since. Democrats in the House should have put peace with Iran on the table as soon as they came into the majority. They should do it now. Democratic presidential candidates should join Tulsi Gabbard and Elizabeth Warren in forthrightly opposing war with Iran. Leading a huge public outcry may not keep the president from lying us into war with Iran any more than it kept the president from lying us into war with Iraq. But an absence of outcry will just make it easier for this rogue nation to commit a whole new set of war crimes.
Intellectually, the case for normal relations with Iran is easy. There is literally no good reason to maintain hostility, not even the possibility, remote as it is, of an Iranian nuclear weapon (especially now that Trump is helping the Saudis go nuclear). But politically, the case for normal relations with Iran is hard, especially because forty years of propaganda demonizing Iran has deep roots. To make a sane case on Iran takes real courage: one has to speak truth to a nation that believes its lies to itself.
William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. This article was first published in Reader Supported News . Read other articles by William .
Jun 27, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Western News Agencies Mistranslate Iran's President Speech - It Is Not The First Time Such 'Error' Happens JOHN CHUCKMAN , Jun 26, 2019 2:10:12 PM | 23
Yesterday the news agencies Associated Press and Reuters mistranslated a speech by Iran's President Hassan Rouhani. They made it sound as if Rouhani insulted U.S. President Donald Trump as 'mentally retarded'. Rouhani never said that.
The agencies previously made a similar 'mistake'.
A 2005 speech by then President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmedinejad was famously misquoted. Israel should be wiped off map, says Iran's president headlined the Guardian at that time. Others used similar headlines. The New York Times wrote :Iran's conservative new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Wednesday that Israel must be "wiped off the map" and that attacks by Palestinians would destroy it, the ISNA press agency reported.
Referring to comments by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic revolution, Ahmadinejad said, "As the imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map."
The statement was used by the G.W. Bush administration and others to whip up hostility against Iran :Ever since he spoke at an anti-Zionism conference in Tehran last October, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has been known for one statement above all. As translated by news agencies at the time, it was that Israel "should be wiped off the map." Iran's nuclear program and sponsorship of militant Muslim groups are rarely mentioned without reference to the infamous map remark.
Here, for example, is R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, recently: "Given the radical nature of Iran under Ahmadinejad and its stated wish to wipe Israel off the map of the world, it is entirely unconvincing that we could or should live with a nuclear Iran."
However Ahmedinejad never used those words :"Ahmadinejad did not say he was going to wipe Israel off the map because no such idiom exists in Persian," remarked Juan Cole, a Middle East specialist at the University of Michigan and critic of American policy who has argued that the Iranian president was misquoted. "He did say he hoped its regime, i.e., a Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem, would collapse." Since Iran has not "attacked another country aggressively for over a century," he said in an e-mail exchange, "I smell the whiff of war propaganda."
Jonathan Steele, a columnist for the left-leaning Guardian newspaper in London, recently laid out the case this way: "The Iranian president was quoting an ancient statement by Iran's first Islamist leader, the late Ayatollah Khomeini, that 'this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time,' just as the Shah's regime in Iran had vanished. He was not making a military threat. He was calling for an end to the occupation of Jerusalem at some point in the future. The 'page of time' phrase suggests he did not expect it to happen soon."
Despite the above and other explanations the false "wipe Israel off the map" translation never died. Years later it still reappeared in Guardian pieces which required it to issue multiple corrections and clarifications.
Now, as the Trump administration is pushing for war on Iran, a similar mistranslation miraculously happened. It were again 'western' news agencies who lightened the fire:The Associated Press @AP - 7:52 utc - 25 Jun 2019
BREAKING: Iran's President Rouhani mocks President Trump, says the White House is "afflicted by mental retardation."
Farsi speakers pointed out that the Rouhani never used the Farsi word for "retarded":Sina Toossi @SinaToossi - 13:49 utc - 25 Jun 2019
A lot of Western media is reporting that Iranian President Rouhani called Trump "mentally retarded." This is inaccurate.
Regarding Trump, he just said "no wise person would take such an action [the new sanctions imposed]."Reza H. Akbari @rezahakbari - 15:58 utc - 25 Jun 2019
Absolutely incorrect. There is a word for "retarded" in Persian & Rouhani didn't use it. Prior to him saying "mental disability" he even prefaced his comment by saying "mental weakness." Those who speak Persian can listen & judge for themselves. Here is a video clip of Rouhani's comment: link
But the damage was already done:Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 14:42 utc - 25 Jun 2019
Iran leadership doesn't understand the words "nice" or "compassion," they never have. Sadly, the thing they do understand is Strength and Power, and the USA is by far the most powerful Military Force in the world, with 1.5 Trillion Dollars invested over the last two years alone..
....The wonderful Iranian people are suffering, and for no reason at all. Their leadership spends all of its money on Terror, and little on anything else. The U.S. has not forgotten Iran's use of IED's & EFP's (bombs), which killed 2000 Americans, and wounded many more...
.... Iran's very ignorant and insulting statement , put out today, only shows that they do not understand reality. Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration. No more John Kerry & Obama!
Reuters , which also peddled the mistranslation, gleefully connected the dots :
Cont. reading: Western News Agencies Mistranslate Iran's President Speech - It Is Not The First Time Such 'Error' HappensExcellent summary of how malevolence works in many subtle ways.
Jonathan Gillispie , Jun 26, 2019 1:11:48 PM | 4Don Wiscacho , Jun 26, 2019 1:32:54 PM | 13
Trump was right more than he realizes that the press is the enemy of the people. They goad nations into unnecessary and bloody war.This follows in the footsteps of a rich history of mistranslating and obfuscating which is rarely, if ever, corrected by our Guardians of Truth. I will not hold my breath for AP to pull its tweet out issue any sort of correction. The war machine is revving up, truth be damned.Uncle Jon , Jun 26, 2019 1:36:27 PM | 14
To add a few obfuscations to the list of mistranslations: the Palestinian intifada. Sounds scary, no? Violence against the benevolent Israelis. Because what does intifada actually mean? Uprising, which by its nature suggests oppression, something which just 'can't' be happening in Palestine, hence the need for intifada.
Or take jihad, 'a pillor' of Islam. Again, very scary, as jihad 'means' suicide bombs and killing infidels. What the Guardians of Truth never mention is that jihad in Islam is a very, very broad term that includes such things as helping the poor or less fortunate, educating oneself, quiet reflection, and prayer. Jihad as meaning 'holy war' was a sense meaning derived much later than the founding of the religion, as a reaction to very real threats to believers of the time, the Crusades and Mongol invasions. That this specific sense meaning was essentially confined to history afterward, only to be revived by Wahhabists and takfiris, and one not believed in by the vast majority of Muslims, is never explained. 'Cause all them crazy Muslims believe in jihad!
In all cases where the boogeyman of the day needs concocting, rest assured the 'mainstream' press, with AP in the lead, will be there to build a gleaming edifice mistruths, omissions, and lies.Ahmadinejad's true and correct translation reads: "Zionism should be wiped from the pages of history."jared , Jun 26, 2019 1:43:18 PM | 17
Now who can argue with that.In approximately 17 months, the american public can make strides to fix this mess.dh , Jun 26, 2019 1:51:03 PM | 18
I guess that is a long time for the iranians, but still maybe best option.Just in case there is any doubt in American minds here is the Israeli Ambassador to the UN. He thinks the sanctions are working well. Iran is panicking.wagelaborer , Jun 26, 2019 2:43:01 PM | 31
Good job guys. Keep squeezing.
https://www.foxnews.com/world/israeli-ambassador-iran-panicking-increased-us-sanctionsThey mistranslate Trump all the time, or they spin what he says. It is amazing to watch.michaelj72 , Jun 26, 2019 4:02:36 PM | 40
For instance, at the Helsinki meeting, where he met with Putin and they discussed multiple topics, but the press ignored any topic but demanding that Trump denounce Putin and "admit" that Putin helped him steal the election, and that he was therefore not the legitimate president.
Obviously, Trump was not going to say that, so he said that he was the legitimate president, and the mockingbird media spun that into "the president is a traitor to America because he said that 17 national intelligence agencies are lying"......The ministers lie, the professors lie, the television lies,Virgile , Jun 26, 2019 5:10:59 PM | 48
the priests lie .
These lies mean that the country wants to die.
Lie after lie starts out into the prairie grass,
like enormous caravans of Conestoga wagons .
And a long desire for death flows out, guiding the
enormous caravans from beneath,
stringing together the vague and foolish words.
It is a desire to eat death,
to gobble it down,
to rush on it like a cobra with mouth open
It's a desire to take death inside,
to feel it burning inside, pushing out velvety hairs,
like a clothes brush in the intestines --
This is the thrill that leads the President on to lie....
Robert Bly, The Teeth Mother Naked at Last, originally published by City Lights books 1970Maybe the translation is inacurate but the message had the expected reaction from Trump: Tweet furor.Abx , Jun 26, 2019 5:20:42 PM | 49
It is good that Trump realizes that he does not have the monopole of insulting leaders.
The USA is a country that since WWII has never won any war. How could it give a lesson to Iran who won a 8 years war against Iraq despite the support that the USA, the Gulf countries and Western countries gave to Iraq.
Loud noise and indecisive actions: The disaster of the USA foreign policyI remember watching CNN translate Khamenei's "Nuclear Power" to "Nuclear Weapons" right on live TV in 2013. This is not new./div> Virgile "The USA is a country that since WWII has never won any war". The US won a war against Grenada [population 95,000] I would go so far as to say they whupped ass. True there were only 64 Cuban soldiers there [security guards] All members of the US armed forces were involved and 5,000 medals were given out. Ra Ra USA.
Posted by: Harry Law , Jun 26, 2019 5:29:37 PM | 50Virgile "The USA is a country that since WWII has never won any war". The US won a war against Grenada [population 95,000] I would go so far as to say they whupped ass. True there were only 64 Cuban soldiers there [security guards] All members of the US armed forces were involved and 5,000 medals were given out. Ra Ra USA.Kooshy , Jun 26, 2019 5:45:20 PM | 53
Posted by: Harry Law | Jun 26, 2019 5:29:37 PM | 50b-0use4msm , Jun 26, 2019 6:24:08 PM | 57
I am a Persian speaker and is true that president Rouhani never said Trump is retarded, we now have way passed the point that insults can matte. Nevertheless it was better if President Rouhani would have called Trump and the rest of the ruling US regime like what the whole world has now come to understand, a true and unique collection of retards on a shining hill.Reminds me of when Nikita Khruschev attempted to explain in 1956 his view that that capitalism would destroy itself from within by quoting Marx: "What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers." This was notoriously mistranslated into English as "We will bury you", as if the Soviets were out to kill all westerners themselves. Of course this mistranslated was quoted time and time again in western media, fueling Cold War paranoia for years to come.juandonjuan , Jun 26, 2019 6:31:20 PM | 59blue @ 19 The news media are wedded to the state which is wedded to the banking system which are all subsidiaries of global capitalism. They don't need to correct themselves. They may have the occasional family feud, but they're all on the same team. They will admit to "mistakes" being made, but only long after it makes no difference.ADKC , Jun 26, 2019 7:00:39 PM | 63
We have a FREE PRESS in America-Pravda on the Potomac, Izvestia on the Hudson.
Have a look sometime at the Venn Diagrams that portray the overlapping/interlocking memberships of the regulatory/financial/corporate leadership class.
But more than that, whatever the idea of a free press once meant, with the rise of digital corporate networking "platforms", not subject to any accountability, the barriers to entry of any competing narratives to the mainstream discourse are nearly insurmountable. Except maybe through subversion?
What is missing is a true public 'Marketplace of Ideas'The deliberate mis-translations of non-english speaking "adversaries" of the US is common in the msm. Putin is frequently and deliberately mis-translated to make him appear dictatorial and aggressive.pj , Jun 26, 2019 7:11:03 PM | 65I listened to Rohani's speech. He said that if JCPOA is bad, it is bad for all parties; and if it is good, it is good for all parties. They cannot expect for JCPOA to be bad for them and good for us. They withdrew from the JCPOA and expect us to stay with the agreement. This is what he meant when he said: White house has been affected by mental inability and mental disability.Peter AU 1 , Jun 26, 2019 7:26:38 PM | 72ADKCkarlof1 , Jun 26, 2019 7:39:51 PM | 75
Iran is at war. US and gang are trying to destroy Iran as a nation. The biggest asset in times of war is deception. Used by both the attacker and the attacked.Khamenei has Tweeted a series of tweets, and his scribe has posted what he tweeted along with other words at his website in English so there's no mistranslation. Here's one of the series of 6:goldhoarder , Jun 26, 2019 8:39:33 PM | 80
"The graceful Iranian nation has been accused & insulted by world's most vicious regime, the U.S., which is a source of wars, conflicts & plunder. Iranian nation won't give up over such insults. Iranians have been wronged by oppressive sanctions but not weakened & remain powerful."
They were made 14+ hours ago, yet I'm the first to post notice of them here?!The USA government excels at propaganda. It always has. Doesn't matter if it babies and incubators, mistranslated leaders of targeted countries, or supposed mass graves. BTW... what ever happened to all those mass graves in Iraq? HRW was going to dig them all up and document them. Hundreds of thousands. Most Americans I talk to still believe in this. Was it true? Saddam himself had claimed it wasn't true. That it was Kurdish propaganda to gain sympathy. He claimed the Anfal campaign was only to push the Kurds off the border so he could control arms smuggling and that casualties were minimal. Looking into the search. They are graves with a few hundred here and there but where are the rest of the bodies? If you google Iraq mass graves there are more articles about ISIS mass graves than the Anfal campaign. There were people killed in the South during the Shia uprising after the first gulf war than there was for the Anfal campaign. Was that a lie too? Nearly every American believes it still.Arata , Jun 26, 2019 10:40:53 PM | 98
PM admits graves claim 'untrue'
Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor
Sat 17 Jul 2004 19.35 EDT First published on Sat 17 Jul 2004 19.35 EDT
Downing Street has admitted to The Observer that repeated claims by Tony Blair that '400,000 bodies had been found in Iraqi mass graves' is untrue, and only about 5,000 corpses have so far been uncovered.
The claims by Blair in November and December of last year, were given widespread credence, quoted by MPs and widely published, including in the introduction to a US government pamphlet on Iraq's mass graves.
In that publication - Iraq's Legacy of Terror: Mass Graves produced by USAID, the US government aid distribution agency, Blair is quoted from 20 November last year: 'We've already discovered, just so far, the remains of 400,000 people in mass graves.'Anyone who can undestand Farsi ( Persian language) can litsen Rouhani's speech. He did not name "Trump", he said " White House".Paora , Jun 26, 2019 11:18:41 PM | 101
I have been watching CNN news channel who said that Rouhani made a personal attack on Trump! That was not true.
There was no personal attack on Rouhani's speech.
Importantly, the context of the speech and conclusion is diffent from western media reports and western translations.
I would like give few links of some Iranian news agencies, reporting Rouhani's speech for International use, as reference here:
1) FrasNews Agency
"These days, we see the White House in confusion and we are witnessing undue and ridiculous words and adoption of a scandalous policy,"
..."The US sanctions are crime against humanity. The US recent measures indicate their ultimate failure. The new US measures are the result of their frustration and confusion over Iran. The White House has mental disability,"
2) ISNA English
"They are having mental problems and today, the White House has become mentally paralysed and don't know what to do".
Le président iranien, affirmant que les États-Unis, malgré de nombreuses tentatives de pression exercées par divers leviers sur l'Iran, ont échoué dans leurs objectifs, a poursuivi : "Une étrange frustration et une grande confusion règnent au sein du Corps dirigeant de la Maison Blanche. Ils se sentent déçus car ils n'ont obtenu aucun résultat, ils s'attendaient à voir l'Iran brisé dans l'espace de quelques mois, mais ils ont fini par constater que les Iraniens agissent de plus en plus fermement, de manière plus créative que jamais ".
The president also decried the new US sanctions against Iran, saying the White House has been thrown into confusion as its officials are making "inappropriate and ridiculous" comments and adopting the policy of disgrace.
https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2019/06/26/2041386/iran-urges-us-europe-to-return-to-jcpoa0use4msm @54Hoarsewhisperer , Jun 26, 2019 11:23:51 PM | 102
Wow that's amazing! Probably the best known Khrushchev 'quote', presented as evidence of his boorish nature, is an intentional mistranslation. And the Marx quote is not exactly obscure, it's from Chapter 1 of the Communist Manifesto for eff sake! At least it makes a change from the 'lets just make things up' cottage industry of Lenin & Stalin 'quotes'."A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes."Circe , Jun 27, 2019 10:19:52 AM | 136 Noirette , Jun 27, 2019 10:50:17 AM | 137
Mark Twain (or some other student of wisdom)
Apr 26, 2017 - Mark Twain is one of many who gets credit for famous quotations he never wrote or said. ... credited with saying "a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes" ... Proverbial wisdom, in which a quotation is elevated to the status of a proverb because its source is unknown;.Mistranslations are a classical cheap n easy way to sway opinion.
Interesting that the examples b quotes, and most of those promoted currently by the US-uk-eu, afaik, understand, are intended to project into the voice of Iranians, Russians, Syrians, utterances, declarations, to be labelled insults, slander, threats, impropriety, even rage, coming from these parties, as
there is nothing much else to display!
(Spanish is too comprehensible > does not apply to Mexico, Cuba, S. America.)
Often cultural matters play a role, but are ignored. Ahmadinejad was endlessly vilified and mocked by the W-MSM for saying what was translated as there are no homosexuals in Iran (no idea what the original formulation was) - which 'obviously' can't be 'true.'
Besides homosexuality being unacceptable in conservative rule-books, Iran is, or was (to 2010) above (or with) Thailand the no. 1. practitioner / destination for sex change operations. Iran had super educated docs, great hospitals, etc.
Ahmadinejad was relying on a kind of fundamentalist principle where the 'soul' or the 'essential quality' of a person is what is tantamount, what counts above all. The physical manifestation, here the human body, can be transformed to be in harmony with the deep-felt or 'innately' ascribed orientation or 'spirit.' So, no homosexuals in Iran, or only a few who are in 'transition.' (Not denying real suffering of gays in Iran, other story.)
The W, in first place the US, is doing precisely the same with its 'gender change' promotion, as applied to children and young teens. Here too, 'feelings' and 'identity' override 'nature' : the physical can be overturned, overcome, fixed.
Such cultural issues play a role in mis-translations, deliberate or not. It may appear that I wandered far off topic, I just picked a topical comprehensible ex. Sharia law is more complex..
Jun 26, 2019 | www.unz.com
...If you bomb Syria, do not admit you did it to install your puppet regime or to lay a pipeline. Say you did it to save the Aleppo kids gassed by Assad the Butcher. If you occupy Afghanistan, do not admit you make a handsome profit smuggling heroin; say you came to protect the women. If you want to put your people under total surveillance, say you did it to prevent hate groups target the powerless and diverse.
Remember: you do not need to ask children, women or immigrants whether they want your protection. If pushed, you can always find a few suitable profiles to look at the cameras and repeat a short text. With all my dislike for R2P (Responsibility to Protect) hypocrisy, I can't possibly blame the allegedly protected for the disaster caused by the unwanted protectors.
Jun 16, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
The evidence suggests that foreign policymakers do not seek insight from scholars, but rather support for what they already want to do.
As Desch quotes a World War II U.S. Navy anthropologist, "the administrator uses social science the way the drunk uses a lamppost, for support rather than illumination." Scholars' disinclination to be used in this way helps explain more of the distance.
Jun 20, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org
A way to capture this change was thinking in terms of the traditional task of journalists to interview or consult a variety of sources to determine was is truth or true. The shift gradually became one of now interviewing or consulting various sources and reporting those opinions.
Old-school journalism was like being assigned the task of finding out what "1+1 =?" and the task was to report the answer was "1."
Now the task would be to report that "Some say it is 1, some say it is 2, some say it is 3."
Jun 16, 2019 | www.politico.com
Leda Cosmides at the University of California, Santa Barbara, points to her work with her colleague John Tooby on the use of outrage to mobilize people: "The campaign was more about outrage than about policies," she says. And when a politician can create a sense of moral outrage, truth ceases to matter. People will go along with the emotion, support the cause and retrench into their own core group identities. The actual substance stops being of any relevance.
Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at Dartmouth University who studies false beliefs, has found that when false information is specifically political in nature, part of our political identity, it becomes almost impossible to correct lies.
... ... ...
As the 19th-century Scottish philosopher Alexander Bain put it, “The great master fallacy of the human mind is believing too much.” False beliefs, once established, are incredibly tricky to correct. A leader who lies constantly creates a new landscape, and a citizenry whose sense of reality may end up swaying far more than they think possible.
Jun 16, 2019 | consortiumnews.com
In a May, 22, 2019 appearance in the White House Rose Garden, President Donald Trump declared that "I don't do cover-ups ." Various news outlets immediately started to enumerate a long list of bona fide cover-ups associated with the president.
... ... ...
Unfortunately, Trump's behavior is but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cover-ups. One can surmise that just by virtue of being the head of the U.S. government, the president -- any president -- must be directly or indirectly associated with hundreds of such evasions. That is because, it can be argued without much paranoia, that every major division of the government is hiding something -- particularly when it comes to foreign activities.
Of course, being cover-ups by the government may make them appear acceptable, at least to a naive public. Many of them are rationalized as necessary for the sake of national "security." And, of course, everyone wants to be "secure," accepting the notion that "people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
The fact that much of this violence is done to other innocent people trying to get a peaceful night's rest is "classified" information. So woe be it to the truth tellers who defy these rationalizations and sound off. For they shall be cast out of our democratic heaven into one of the pits of hell that pass for a U.S. prison -- or, if they are fleet-footed, chased into exile.
Jun 16, 2019 | www.politico.com
Maria Konnikova is a contributing writer at the New Yorker and author, most recently, of The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It Every Time .
All presidents lie. Richard Nixon said he was not a crook, yet he orchestrated the most shamelessly crooked act in the modern presidency. Ronald Reagan said he wasn't aware of the Iran-Contra deal; there's evidence he was. Bill Clinton said he did not have sex with that woman; he did, or close enough. Lying in politics transcends political party and era. It is, in some ways, an inherent part of the profession of politicking.
But Donald Trump is in a different category. The sheer frequency, spontaneity and seeming irrelevance of his lies have no precedent. Nixon, Reagan and Clinton were protecting their reputations; Trump seems to lie for the pure joy of it. A whopping 70 percent of Trump's statements that PolitiFact checked during the campaign were false, while only 4 percent were completely true, and 11 percent mostly true. (Compare that to the politician Trump dubbed "crooked," Hillary Clinton: Just 26 percent of her statements were deemed false.)
Those who have followed Trump's career say his lying isn't just a tactic, but an ingrained habit. New York tabloid writers who covered Trump as a mogul on the rise in the 1980s and '90s found him categorically different from the other self-promoting celebrities in just how often, and pointlessly, he would lie to them. In his own autobiography, Trump used the phrase "truthful hyperbole," a term coined by his ghostwriter referring to the flagrant truth-stretching that Trump employed, over and over, to help close sales. Trump apparently loved the wording, and went on to adopt it as his own.
On January 20, Trump's truthful hyperboles will no longer be relegated to the world of dealmaking or campaigning. Donald Trump will become the chief executive of the most powerful nation in the world, the man charged with representing that nation globally -- and, most importantly, telling the story of America back to Americans. He has the megaphone of the White House press office, his popular Twitter account and a loyal new right-wing media army that will not just parrot his version of the truth but actively argue against attempts to knock it down with verifiable facts. Unless Trump dramatically transforms himself, Americans are going to start living in a new reality, one in which their leader is a manifestly unreliable source.
What does this mean for the country -- and for the Americans on the receiving end of Trump's constantly twisting version of reality? It's both a cultural question and a psychological one. For decades, researchers have been wrestling with the nature of falsehood: How does it arise? How does it affect our brains? Can we choose to combat it? The answers aren't encouraging for those who worry about the national impact of a reign of untruth over the next four, or eight, years. Lies are exhausting to fight, pernicious in their effects and, perhaps worst of all, almost impossible to correct if their content resonates strongly enough with people's sense of themselves, which Trump's clearly do.
What happens when a lie hits your brain? The now-standard model was first proposed by Harvard University psychologist Daniel Gilbert more than 20 years ago. Gilbert argues that people see the world in two steps. First, even just briefly, we hold the lie as true: We must accept something in order to understand it. For instance, if someone were to tell us -- hypothetically, of course -- that there had been serious voter fraud in Virginia during the presidential election, we must for a fraction of a second accept that fraud did, in fact, take place. Only then do we take the second step, either completing the mental certification process (yes, fraud!) or rejecting it (what? no way). Unfortunately, while the first step is a natural part of thinking -- it happens automatically and effortlessly -- the second step can be easily disrupted. It takes work: We must actively choose to accept or reject each statement we hear. In certain circumstances, that verification simply fails to take place.
As Gilbert writes, human minds, "when faced with shortages of time, energy, or conclusive evidence, may fail to unaccept the ideas that they involuntarily accept during comprehension."When we are overwhelmed with false, or potentially false, statements, our brains pretty quickly become so overworked that we stop trying to sift through everything.
Our brains are particularly ill-equipped to deal with lies when they come not singly but in a constant stream...
... ... ...
In politics, false information has a special power. If false information comports with preexisting beliefs -- something that is often true in partisan arguments -- attempts to refute it can actually backfire , planting it even more firmly in a person's mind. Trump won over Republican voters, as well as alienated Democrats, by declaring himself opposed to "Washington," "the establishment" and "political correctness," and by stoking fears about the Islamic State, immigrants and crime. Leda Cosmides at the University of California, Santa Barbara, points to her work with her colleague John Tooby on the use of outrage to mobilize people:
"The campaign was more about outrage than about policies," she says. And when a politician can create a sense of moral outrage, truth ceases to matter. People will go along with the emotion, support the cause and retrench into their own core group identities. The actual substance stops being of any relevance.
Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at Dartmouth University who studies false beliefs, has found that when false information is specifically political in nature, part of our political identity, it becomes almost impossible to correct lies. When people read an article beginning with George W. Bush's assertion that Iraq may pass weapons to terrorist networks, which later contained the fact that Iraq didn't actually possess any WMDs at the time of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the initial misperception persisted among Republicans -- and, indeed, was frequently strengthened.
In the face of a seeming assault on their identity, they didn't change their minds to conform with the truth: Instead, amazingly, they doubled down on the exact views that were explained to be wrong.It's easy enough to correct minor false facts if they aren't crucial to your sense of self. Alas, nothing political fits into that bucket.
With regard to Trump specifically, Nyhan points out that claims related to ethno-nationalism -- Trump's declaration early in the campaign that Mexico was sending "rapists" across the border, for instance -- get at the very core of who we are as humans, which "may make people less willing or able to evaluate the statement empirically." If you already believe immigrants put your job at risk, who's to say the chastity of your daughters isn't in danger, too? Or as Harvard University psychologist Steven Pinker puts it, once Trump makes that emotional connection, "He could say what he wants, and they'll follow him."
... ... ...
Jun 16, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
It also explains the rise of think tanks, which are more pliant than academics but provide similar marketing support. As Benjamin Friedman and I wrote in a 2015 article on the subject, think tanks undertake research with an operational mindset: that is, "the approach of a passenger riding shotgun who studies the map to find the ideal route, adjusts the engine if need be, and always accepts the destination without protest."
As former senator Olympia Snowe once put it, "you can find a think tank to buttress any view or position, and then you give it the aura of legitimacy and credibility by referring to their report." Or consider the view of Rory Stewart, now a member of parliament in the UK, but once an expert on Afghanistan who was consulted on the Afghan surge but opposed it:
It's like they're coming in and saying to you, "I'm going to drive my car off a cliff. Should I or should I not wear a seatbelt?" And you say, "I don't think you should drive your car off the cliff." And they say, "No, no, that bit's already been decided -- the question is whether to wear a seatbelt." And you say, "Well, you might as well wear a seatbelt." And then they say, "We've consulted with policy expert Rory Stewart, and he says "
Or look at how policymakers themselves define relevance. Stephen Krasner, an academic who became a policymaker, lamented the uselessness of much academic security studies literature because "[e]ven the most convincing empirical findings may be of no practical use because they do not include factors that policy makers can manipulate."
The explicit claim here is that for scholarship to be of any practical use, it must include factors that policymakers can manipulate. This reflects a strong bias toward action, even in relatively restrained presidencies.
To take two recent examples, the Obama administration blew past voluminous academic literature suggesting the Libya intervention was likely to disappoint. President Barack Obama himself asked the CIA to analyze success in arming insurgencies before making a decision over what to do in Syria. The CIA replied with a study showing that arming and financing insurgencies rarely works. Shortly thereafter, Obama launched a billion-dollar effort to arm and finance insurgents in Syria.
As Desch tracks the influence of scholars on foreign policy across the 20th century, a pattern becomes clear: where scholars agree with policy, they are relevant. Where they do not, they are not.
In several of the cases Desch identifies where scholars disagreed with policy, they were right and the policymakers were tragically, awfully wrong. In the instances where scholars differed with policy at high levels, Desch blames their "unrealistic expectations" for causing "wartime social scientists to overlook the more modest, but real, contribution they actually made" to policy. But why would we want scholars to trim their sails in this way? And why should social scientists want to be junior partners in doomed enterprises?
Social scientists have produced reams of qualitative and historically focused research with direct relevance to policy. They publish blog posts, tweets, excerpts, op-eds, and video encapsulations of their work. The only thing left for them to do is to convey their findings via interpretive dance, and a plan for doing that is probably in the works already. In the meantime, it should be simultaneously heartening and discouraging for policy-inclined scholars to realize that It's Not Us, It's Them.
In a country as powerful and secure as the United States, elites can make policy built on shaky foundations. Eventually, the whole thing may collapse. Scholars should focus on pointing out these fundamental flaws -- and thinking about how they might help rebuild.
Justin Logan is director of programs and a research associate at the Center for the Study of Statesmanship at Catholic University.
Oleg Gark June 11, 2019 at 9:03 pm[Karl Rove] said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' [ ] 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do'.EliteCommInc. , says: June 12, 2019 at 3:56 am
Experts, shmexperts! Who needs realism when you're creating your own reality.I was thinking -- the academics involved in policy are in think tanks and thenEliteCommInc. , says: June 12, 2019 at 4:05 am
"It also explains the rise of think tanks, which are more pliant than academics but provide similar marketing support."
but what I found intriguing is the assessment concerning most of the research being faulty or dead wrong in various ways.
Given that and the real world success of the think tank players who develop foreign policy Dr. Desch should consider the matter a wash --
Those on the field aren't scoring any big points. in fact they seem intend on handing the ball over to the opposing team repeatedly.
trying to predict and then replicate human behavior is a very dicey proposition.
enjoyed the reference to the ongoing debate quantative analysis verses qualitative.Sadly when the numbers quantative research ruled they could really be abusive in stating what the data meant.polistra , says: June 12, 2019 at 8:23 am
Nowhere is this more evident than with crime stats.Excellent article.JohnT , says: June 12, 2019 at 9:01 am
Another question occurs to me: Who are the executives or politicians trying to impress when they bring in captive consultants or scholars? Ordinary people (customers or voters) don't care. Customers just want a good product, and voters just want sane policies.
Competing leaders know the game and don't bother to listen.
So who's the audience for the "thinkers"?In so much of the world's leadership today it is not science that is being ignored and corrupted so much as rational thought and a personal insight mature enough to find indisputable the need for the opinion of others.Taras 77 , says: June 12, 2019 at 12:14 pm
But, to this post's point, I once had a statistician with a doctorate in his profession casually state their numbers predicted Stalin would fail. In response, my thought was when in the history of the known galaxy did putting a soulless person in charge ever not fail? Compassion alone would predict that outcome.The absolute most corrupting influence in current foreign policy discussion is the growth of the mis-named growth of "think" tanks. One can discern immediately the message when determining author and organization.Kouros , says: June 12, 2019 at 3:20 pm
Moar war, russia, iran, et al are threats, moar military spending, support israel at all costs, etc, etc.
These 'think' tanks are extremely well funded by oligarchs and foreign money so the bottom line is directed towards pre-selected objectives. Even the state dept is getting into the act to atk pro-Iran activists.
Where is the level playing field?While the academics might be deemed irrelevant when views differ, the government in-house analysts might even loose their jobs if their positions differ from those of the decision makers. I know I lost mine, and it wasn't even in foreign policy or national securityChristian J Chuba , says: June 13, 2019 at 7:13 amIt's the mentality of forever war that considers diversity subversive.C. L. H. Daniels , says: June 13, 2019 at 1:26 pm
The purpose of Think Tanks and foreign policy experts (misnamed) is to rally the troops against our enemies list, not to improve our interaction with the rest of the world but to defeat them. To them, it is always WW2. Yemen must die because we can connect them to Iran; they are Dresden.
BTW I know the author was talking about actual experts. They have all been purged and dismissed as Arabist or enemy sympathizers. Track records don't matter, to them we are at war and will always be so.President Barack Obama himself asked the CIA to analyze success in arming insurgencies before making a decision over what to do in Syria. The CIA replied with a study showing that arming and financing insurgencies rarely works. Shortly thereafter, Obama launched a billion-dollar effort to arm and finance insurgents in Syria.Dr. Diprospan , says: June 14, 2019 at 4:06 pm
*Silently screams in frustration*
And this is why I ended up ultimately disappointed with Obama. The man was utterly incapable of standing up to what passes for conventional wisdom inside the Beltway. "Hope and change," my butt. The hoped for change never did arrive in the end.
Say what you will about Trump, he surely doesn't give a flying fart about wisdom, conventional or otherwise. Instead of driving the car off a cliff, he just sets it on fire from the get go to save on gas.I liked the article.
A good reminder that if people did not heed the divine warning in Paradise,
but chose the disastrous advice of the serpent, then what can we expect
from modern politicians? Wrong, dangerous behavior seems to be inherent
in the human mentality, otherwise who would smelt metals, descend into mines,
discover America, study radiation?
Cult of the Irrelevant reminds me of the 80 and 20 statistical, empirical principle,
where out of 100 things, articles, words, recommendations, 20% are useful,
80% are useless. However for 20 useful percent to form, you need a statistical
pressure of 80 useless.
"Practice is the criterion of truth." Having eaten the forbidden apple, people were driven out of paradise, but instead they learned to distinguish between good and evil.
Without this property, it would be impossible to recognize "the effective treatments"significantly exaggerated by dishonest pharmacologists..
Jun 01, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org
If man were wise, he would gauge the true worth of anything by its usefulness and appropriateness to his life.
-- Michel de Montaigne, Complete Book of Essays , Book 11, Essay 12, Page 543
For your consideration, the modern idiot in a habitat of prime viral fecundity; after centuries of western civilization spreading toxic oppressive imperialism through contrived financial schemes and brutish warfare the dream of global neoliberalism has come to full fruition where all personal responsibility for actions of selfish business interests has been discretely removed from the profiteers and accountability placed upon all powerful implacable nation states. As a result what has been set into motion is the perfect bewildering breeding ground for the whims of the idiot mind to thrive. Complexity is artificially created in financial systems, legalese, and bureaucratic nomenclature to obfuscate the deceptions and allow the idiots in charge to more deftly carry out their scams on the general public..
What is before us now are the death throes of capitalism, which is oddly enough also capitalism at its apogee with a precipitous descent ahead due to its profound unsustainability. A common analogy of our times is referencing going off a cliff of some kind to describe the present trajectory of this idiot society, e.g. an unstoppable train with no brakes going over a cliff, or Wile E. Coyote having already gone over the cliff and simply hasn't bothered to look down yet to notice he's run out of terra-firma. Whatever variation of the analogy chosen, the point is that we know the cliff is there, but the collective state of our idiocy doesn't seem to care too much. It has other idiot priorities it deems more necessary to care about, so it plows ahead despite knowing it has run out of track.
This state of being has of course been intentionally manufactured by the idiots in charge. The direct derivation of widespread capitalist ideology creates faux democracies run by political stooges who are sycophantic to corporate power amounting to an orchestrated production of bureaucratic theater where everyone affected by the reach of this system catches the virus of idiocy and finds themselves at various stages of recovery. Each person inculcated into the cult of the idiot via institutional systems is ensnared by the traps set by boardroom bandits who conspire to break the will of the people by attempting to normalize that which isn't normal, and comport the natural better intentions of the masses to enrich the loosely formed global capitalist state.
Their scheme is simplistic yet highly effective; engineer a society based on a need for money issued from a central source and then see to it that money is always in scarce supply for all but an elite class. The effect on the common person is a state of perpetual fear and desperation which allows for the masses to be easily controlled, always servile to the money. The idiotic mind is then molded by saturating the senses in a simulacrum overlay of reality which obscures our real values, uses our love against us, and reforms us into the idiot that the idiots in charge wish us to be so we may be easily exploited once the will is broken, hence the average human animal won't put up much resistance when they are asked to do the cruel and often ecologically ruinous labor for an elite class. After the institutional indoctrination the hope for a better world becomes a futile prospect with the specter of our own conscious/cognitive deficiencies looming large over our collective actions. And certainly any would-be paradise or substantially better world for all, which theoretically could come into being, will never emerge so long as the agenda of the idiot prevails over higher wisdom.
A melancholic realization of our predicament is to understand we are trapped in a death spiral
under idiotic reign where some horrific form of collapse is nearly inevitable due to our own
inability to change the compulsory-destructive-
The idiot is inherently an idiot because they are motivated by idiotic whims. At the core of the idiot are misplaced values leading to misplaced priorities that lead them to take up activities and belief systems which are antithetical to their own contentment, and typically not only are these types of activities a path to nowhere for them but also have added externalities which make their actions corrosive to all life as well. Inevitably their facile search for greater pleasure, status, and legacy damns not only them to their own personal hell, but has the potential to damn all others impacted by their decisions chasing after shallow endeavors.
The idiot mind argues their positions with a barrage of overlapping nested logical fallacies couched in reductionism and baked down to simplistic one liners which buries the truth so far down it takes an hour to fully unpack a single sentence. "Everything is a cycle", "Communism has killed 100 million people", "Capitalism has led to the greatest increase in quality of life", "Guns don't kill people, people do" – twisted distractive arguments ignoring a compendium of logical antecedents all purposed to defend capitalist propaganda people have either conveniently or unwittingly absorbed and requires time and a calm dialectical conversation to break apart the conflated lies. However the conditioned idiot mind isn't really interested in hearing the counterarguments to these claims. They only want a simple reassurance that their previously held positions are correct because admitting one is wrong is painful and requires a degree of humility, a virtue which the idiot has in short supply. And if one attempts to fully explain the full breadth of the argument the more hardened idiots will proclaim that if one cannot manufacture the counterargument in an equally terse and trite statement it must be wrong. The idiot mind will ultimately dismiss the opposing arguments with laconic stupidity and they'll quickly come to rest on the premise that we can "agree to disagree", or they'll claim on any point in which they might potentially be wrong is simply that the truth may be in the middle somewhere, or they'll suddenly become spurious epistemological philosophers and question what can truly ever be known?
To be glib and facile is a common feature of the idiot and entails not thinking about arguments in proper scope or with valid supporting warrants, or to casually perhaps conveniently misattribute the root of a problem which in fact may be be a product of a deeper problem(s). The idiot sees before them only what they desire, and their desire so often blinds them. The idiot is jealous, competitive and desires material stuff and power while sometimes not even questioning why they want what they believe they want. Like why do idiots care so much about immigrants? If they had their border wall built and actually were able to keep out 100% of illegal immigration their lives would not appreciable improve in any manner, there would be no sudden spike in their pay or offering of jobs. There's a long line of issues people think they care about that if corrected would not make much of a difference, and some of them being symptoms of deeper problems.
A rich entitled idiot will spend countless hours trying to think of ways to make more money and for what? More sexual partners? A new boat? Bigger house? A private jet? What exactly is gained and why is that worthwhile? And a war-mongering bureaucrat like Trump's national security advisor John Bolton, does anyone think he actually cares so much about the security of the US that he feels it necessary to try to attack Iran and Venezuela, and what would be accomplished when they are toppled? Even if he admitted the true reason he wants to attack these countries, for economic neoliberal expansion and to plunder their resources, what is gained even then? What is the end game there? Why do any of these folk who already are much wealthier than the common person and also nearing the end of their lives feel it so absolutely necessary to impose their will violently on others? The results will only end like every military conflict does, with throngs of innocent people dead and the world no more peaceful or better off than it was when they started the conflict.
And what exactly is gained if an already wealthy US gains more wealth? What happens? Who is happier? Who is better off? Almost nobody. Why they do what they do is an insanity and spreads discord throughout the world, as Hans Koning stated in his book Columbus: His Enterprise regarding the Spanish empire's plundering of the Americas:
For all the gold and silver stolen and shipped to Spain did not make the Spanish people richer. It gave their kings an edge in the balance of power for a time, a chance to hire more mercenary soldiers for their wars. They ended up losing those wars anyway, and all that was left was a deadly inflation, a starving population, the rich richer, the poor poorer, and a ruined peasant class.
This is the typical result of imperialism. Always has been. Thus the elites imposing their selfish will on others doesn't do anything of value and never has. This realization doesn't stop the present idiots in charge from doing their nefarious deeds or cause a hint self introspection, the idiot mind is a busied mind supremely confident they are correct. And once they have a head of steam in a direction they will most always barrel on forward out of nothing more than foolish pride reassuring themselves that whatever minor gains they may receive from any heinous act they take up is worth it, while often taking the shortest, most brutish path, to acquire more of what they desire but don't need in any conceivable way. They don't bother to think of the ramifications or the pain they cause; they just do because they feel they have the power to do so, consequences be damned.
And the facile machinations of the modern idiot in western countries doesn't seem to want to stop doing even the most frivolous of activities in order to stop the bleeding of mother Gaia. Any capitalist desire is of utmost importance to be maintained to the idiots in charge. They feel like it's their right in their ostensibly free market to use their money to engage in whatever spectacle or peculiarity they wish no matter the consequence and won't budge or go without one less triviality, not one less light buzzing over Times Square. Not a single casino can be sacrificed. It would be a tragedy if there was one less assault rifle rolling off an assembly line. An impossibility to go with one less cruise ship, or one less all you can eat buffet, not one less computer server warehouse storing useless surveillance information, not one less gaming console, or Hollywood car crash scene, or all night convenience store or fast food restaurant Not a thing they will do to impede what their idiot facile minds believe is freedom. To the idiot it's somehow all a worthwhile endeavor despite if it means inducing abrupt climate change or killing off the majority of the flora and fauna on the planet. The idiots simply won't stop being idiots until some force greater than them makes them.
And to diminish the rapid onset of climate change the idiot mind speaks of the money needed to do so. As if human will was solely reliant on convincing the idiots in charge to create more currency for the most pressing issue humans have perhaps ever faced. The idiot ignores history of Native Americans who primarily used a gift economy for likely thousands of years in comparative peace and were more advanced than most modern idiots give them credit, certainly leaps and bounds more advanced socially. But in modernity and throughout the history of western civilization money has been a tool of power and created through loans and enslaving people into debt in the billions of dollars everyday for the most absurd reasons. But debate in the public sphere continually revolves around the idea of how can we afford to maintain our highly destructive system in the face of anthropogenic Armageddon. They insist it's an impossibility that a bunch of corrupt bankers can't create the money as they do all the time and an equally impossible idea that perhaps we free ourselves entirely from these shackles and abandon the concept of money altogether to do what is necessary through the bonds of trust and lessen the damage to our environment so we have a habitat to live in while also freeing ourselves from cycle of imperial idiocy created through the use of currency. Truly the reasons for which we are destroying this planet are idiotic, and the things that are stopping the people from fully revolting against the idiots in charge are also idiotic considering what is on the line.
Our cultural heritage in western civilization is rooted in idiocy, driven by elite idiots in charge with an agenda to make the inability to discern the difference between a higher truth and an outright lie a widespread epidemic so they can convince the masses to do the stupid things the idiots in charge desire. Through tyranny and manipulation the idiot powers that be have manufactured a world which has planted seeds of doubt in otherwise unassailable truths. And perhaps this is why so many people in the west have sought out wisdom within eastern philosophy and shamanistic societies. They seek to find truth that is shunned by the modern western mind, and to understand truth one must disengage from this toxic culture so they can remember once again what the truth looks like.
The idiocy is compounded by an ironic competitive pride in their intellectual abilities where one idiot proclaims to be smarter and more qualified than another based on idiotic criteria. Like the spurious intelligence in being able to out maneuver another capitalist through underhanded means, or exhibiting the callousness to exploit employees more than their competitors. Or the supposed craftiness in brown-nosing up to one's superiors in a place of work and appearing more subservient than coworkers as to be awarded a promotion. These are not acts of intelligence but acts of one who is making an obsequious race to the bottom and proclaiming themselves champions for their willingness to sink to lower levels of deception to achieve their so called success. However there is no success when the entire ecology of our world is recklessly destroyed so their ideas of success can be had. There is no success when needless wars and mass human suffering are imposed so their ill conceived goals can be achieved. The idiot's idea of success is in actuality grand treachery.
Examples of the idiot's falsely contrived ideas of success are everywhere. The unemployment rate is seemingly quite low at 3.6%, but what does this mean when so many are excluded out of the equation once they haven't had any employment for a long enough amount of time, and further, what is considered employment in many cases doesn't provide the ability to afford a roof over your head. And who cares if the unemployment number is low when the end product of these jobs also makes species extinction and climate change worse. What good are these jobs when they create so much human misery that lives have little value to all those who are stuck in the labor. And who cares if a metric like the GDP goes up if it is achieved through barbarous imperialism, or grossly overcharging for medical care/housing/education, or by creating slave like conditions for people thousands of miles away so corporations can glean more profits? This is again is not success, it is but the apex of disdainful human treachery.
The idiot is constantly seeking validation externally from others and never generates their own validation through self acceptance. Thus they are ravenous attention seekers, and will inevitably sniff out all things that garner attention for them so they create awards shows, diplomas with haughty ceremonies, important sounding titles of all sorts to manufacture the facade of their worth. If an action is harmful to others in their trek for external validation it's not of any great importance to the idiot, the worthiness of action is again determined by if it's beneficial to them and exclusionary society comprised of other idiots so it compliments their high sense of themselves which their ego assures them is valid.
The idiot believes all things are impossible except what currently exists. They are exceptional at meeting the criteria for the definition for insanity. They do the same thing over and over and expect different results. The idiot does not understand history even when they read it since cultural and self reinforced myopia has rotted away the plasticity of thought in their minds so what they take away from the reading of history is only what is convenient to their present system of thought. The idiot believes in social systems like representative democracies, centralized government in nation states, courts, and prisons that cannot cure the simplest of society's ailments over thousands of years of use, but to the idiot just one more election is going to make all the difference. One more go around the installed idiotic system with idiotic desires at the root is going to change course and suddenly become wise. They believe by just replacing the current idiots in charge they will be able to cause the change that is so desperately needed, but like a hiker refusing to admit they are lost and continuing down the trail out of hubris they are only further compounding the problem by insisting they aren't lost. And our society is most certainly lost, and it's a long way back to the trail that leads to redemption and a place we actually want to be, which we get further away from each day we stay on our present course.
And after all our idiotic overcomplicated plots and schemes, they are but to mask simple truths the idiot facade tries so desperately to avoid; the inner torments of being afraid of not being good enough, not measuring up to our peers, not meeting arbitrary expectations we either accept from others or set for ourselves, or quite simply feeling like we are not worthy of love. So we play these pointless high stakes games which have a rewards as meaningless and worthless as a plastic trophy just to prove our worth. The idiot is a temporal state of being, although many are finer long term examples of displaying the behaviors of the idiot; however none of us are the perfect idiot. To avoid the affectations of being in an idiotic state it takes conscious effort to live our lives moment to moment with authenticity, to be in a state of awareness of our actions, to always be willing to suffer for something worthwhile and to be consistently well reasoned examiners of what constitutes something worthwhile.
Jason Holland is a writer and a proponent of peaceful revolution. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @ReasonBowl. Youtube content at Reason Bowl Radio. Read other articles by Jason , or visit Jason's website .
This article was posted on Saturday, June 1st, 2019 at 10:13pm and is filed under Capitalism , Classism , Imperialism , Neoliberalism .
Jun 07, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org
After the classical world of power politics gasped its last (1945), the United States found itself in an unprecedented world historical situation: it could mold, coerce, cajole, and most importantly penetrate an exhausted world economically, militarily, politically, and culturally. This it did with unexampled speed and skill relying in part on its aura of victory over Fascism. It built both visible and, most importantly, invisible bonds to its long term interests which both quickly and over time also became the core interests of its new client states and their local/"national" elites.
The second phase of American Hegemonic Expansion occurred throughout what was known then as the "second" and "third" worlds; the communist and non-aligned states. Through a careful policy of coercion and corruption (the use of criminal organizations often went hand in hand with the use of security forces) the United States was able to convince and ultimately co-opt much of the world's remaining elites in their lucrative and superficially attractive skein of capitalist production and consumption and cosmetic democracy. It was and is the world's most effective formula for world domination to have ever been devised. It is the very life-blood of Pax Americana.
Interestingly, and not surprisingly, the regions of the world that are not under firm American Hegemony such as some parts of the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa are the locations of the most violent conflicts. In part, these regions are still operating under the old Hobbesian conditions of anarchy and war. They either "suffer" from not being of sufficient interest to Superpower or are locally too costly to integrate into the world system at present. This, of course, could change at any moment when and if transnational elites hit upon novel ways of making these "war-torn" countries of benefit to themselves. The historical record says they, ultimately, surely will.
Thus, unlike the nineteenth century, the world system is far more stable under a tightly knit regime of interdependent elites dedicated to the pursuit of their own personal interests which are well served by their collective organization by Superpower or Empire. Ancient anarchy has been therefore drained from the international system, and as Negri and Hardt have pointed out in their books on Empire all conflict within the system is more of a local civil war rather than an ultimate challenge to the whole system.
It should not be totally surprising that the current international system represents the ever increasing homogenization of the interests of a group of people since the world is both materially and culturally expressed in the power of a Hegemon. American hegemony reproduced itself through the expert use and production of Baconian power and knowledge (and some geographic and historical luck). It is a totality that came of age when the old elites (remnants of the feudal ages) were militarily eliminated and new elites (primarily communist and nationalist and oftentimes both) were unable to be successfully born. In a world of mass surveillance, hegemonic power, elite interdependence, sophisticated consumption, and democratic ideology; what contradictions, if any, could liberate humankind from the sweet bondage of ever growing economic prosperity and, at least for the Great Powers, international peace through the solidification of the directory of the Great Global Class of the Twenty-First Century?
Dan Corjescu teaches Political Philosophy and Globalization at Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Read other articles by Dan .
This article was posted on Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 at 4:28pm and is filed under Anarchism , Global Inequality , Globalization , Hegemony , Opinion , United States .
Jun 02, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Binoy Kampmark via Oriental Review,
"After decades of neoliberalism, we are at the mercy of a cluster of cartels who are lobbying politicians hard and using monopoly power to boost profits."
Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality (2012)
The emergence of think tanks was as much a symptom of liberal progress as it was a nervous reaction in opposition to it. In 1938, the American Enterprise Association was founded by businessmen concerned that free enterprise would suffer at the hands of those too caught up with notions of equality and egalitarianism. In 1943, it dug into the political establishment in Washington, renamed as the American Enterprise Institute which has boasted moments of some influence in the corridors of the presidential administrations.
Gatherings of the elite, self-promoted as chat shops of the privileged and monstrously well-heeled, have often garnered attention. That the rich and powerful chat together privately should not be a problem, provided the glitterati keep their harmful ideas down to small circulation. But the Bilderberg gathering, a transatlantic annual meeting convened since 1954, fuels speculation for various reasons, not least of all because of its absence of detail and off-the-record agendas.
C. Gordon Tether, writing for the Financial Times in May 1975, would muse that,
"If the Bilderberg Group is not a conspiracy of some sort, it is conducted in such a way as to give a remarkably good imitation of one."
Each year, there are hushed murmurings and ponderings about the guest list. Politicians, captains of industry, and the filthy rich tend to fill out the numbers. In 2018, the Telegraph claimed that delegates would chew over such matters as "Russia, 'post-truth' and the leadership in the US, with AI and quantum computing also on the schedule." This time, the Swiss town of Montreux is hosting a gathering which has, among its invitees, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The Bilderberg Summit begins at the driveway – this year in Switzerland, at the hotel "Montreux Palace".
Often, the more entertaining assumptions about what happens at the Bilderberg Conference have come from outsiders keen to fantasise. The absence of a media pack, a situation often colluded with by media outlets themselves, coupled with a general holding of attendees to secrecy, have spawned a few gems. A gathering of lizard descendants hatching plans for world domination is an old favourite.
Other accounts are suitably dull, suggesting that little in the way of importance actually happens. That man of media, Marshall McLuhan, was appalled after attending a meeting in 1969 by those "uniformly nineteenth century minds pretending to the twentieth." He was struck by an asphyxiating atmosphere of "banality and irrelevance".
The briefings that come out are scripted to say little, though the Bilderberg gathering does come across as a forum to trial ideas (read anything significantly friendly to big business and finance) that may find their way into domestic circulation. Former Alberta Premier Alison Redford did just that at the 2012 meeting at Chantilly, Virginia. In reporting on her results after a trip costing $19,000, the Canadian politician proved short on detail.
"The Premier's participation advanced the Alberta government's more aggressive effort to engage world decision makers in Alberta's strategic interests, and to talk about Alberta's place in the world. The mission sets the stage for further relationship-building with existing partners and potential partners with common interests in investment, innovation and public policy."
One is on more solid ground in being suspicious of such figures given their distinct anti-democratic credentials. Such gatherings tend to be hostile to the demos, preferring to lecture and guide it rather than heed it. Bilderberg affirmed that inexorable move against popular will in favour of the closed club and controlling cartel. "There are powerful corporate groups, above government, manipulating things," asserts the much maligned Alex Jones, whose tendency to conspiracy should not detract from a statement of the obvious. These are gatherings designed to keep the broader populace at arms-length, and more.
The ideas and policies discussed are bound to be self-serving ones friendly to the interests of finance and indifferent to the welfare of the commonwealth. A Bilderberg report, describing the Bürgenstock Conference in 1960, saw the gatherings as ones "where arguments not always used in public debate can be put forth." As Joseph Stiglitz summarises from The Price of Inequality ,
"Those at the top have learned how to suck the money out of the rest in ways that the rest are hardly aware of. That is their true innovation. Policy shapes the market, but politics has been hijacked by a financial elite that has feathered its own nest ."
A nice distillation of Bilderbergism, indeed.
Gauging the influence of the Bilderberg Group in an empirical sense is not a simple matter, though WikiLeaks has suggested that "its influence on postwar history arguable eclipses that of the G8 conference." An overview of the group, published in August 1956 by Dr. Jósef H. Retinger, Polish co-founder and secretary of the gathering, furnishes us with a simple rationale: selling the US brand to sceptical Europeans and nullifying "anxiety". Meetings "unofficial and private" would be convened involving "influential and reliable people who carried the respect of those working in the field of national and international affairs".
Retinger also laid down the rationale for keeping meetings opaque and secret. Official international meetings, he reasoned, were troubled by those retinues of "experts and civil servants". Frank discussion was limited for fear of indiscretions that might be seen as rubbing against the national interest. The core details of subjects would be avoided. And thirdly, if those attending "are not able to reach agreement on a certain point they shelve it in order to avoid giving the impression of disunity."
Retinger was already floating ideas about Europe in May 1946 when, as secretary general of the Independent League for European Co-operation (ILEC), he pondered the virtues of federalism oiled by an elite cadre before an audience at Chatham House. He feared the loss of "big powers" on the continent, whose "inhabitants after all, represent the most valuable human element in the world." (Never mind those of the dusky persuasion, long held in European bondage.) Soon after, he was wooed by US Ambassador W. Averell Harriman and invited to the United States, where his ideas found "unanimous approval among financiers, businessmen and politicians."
The list of approvers reads like a modern Bilderberg selection, an oligarchic who's who , among them the banker Russell Leffingwell, senior partner in J. P. Morgan's, Nelson and David Rockefeller, chair of General Motors Alfred Sloan, New York investment banker Kuhn Loeb and Charles Hook, President of the American Rolling Mills Company. (Unsurprisingly, Retinger would establish the Bilberberg Group with the likes of Paul Rijkens, President of the multinational giant Unilever, the unglamorous face of European capitalism.)
Retinger's appraisals of sovereignty, to that end, are important in understanding the modern European Union, which continues to nurse those paradoxical tensions between actual representativeness and financial oligarchy. Never mind the reptilian issues: the EU, to a modest extent, is Bilderbergian, its vision made machinery, enabling a world to be made safe for multinationals while keeping popular sovereignty in check. Former US ambassador to West Germany, George McGhee, put it this way: "The Treaty of Rome [of 1957], which brought the Common Market into being, was nurtured at Bilderberg meetings."
May 29, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com
Comments on official response to the release of the Engineering Assessment of the Douma cylinders Paul McKeigue, David Miller, Jake Mason, Piers RobinsonMembers of Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media
- 1 Introduction
- 2 OPCW's response to the release of the document
- 3 Government responses to an alleged chlorine attack on 19 May
- 4 Comparison of the Engineering Assessment with the published Final Report
This post comments on the response to our release of the Executive Summary of the Engineering Assessment of the Douma cylinders on 13 May 2018. All emphases in quoted passages are added by us. After OPCW had confirmed the document to be genuine, the story was covered extensively by Russian media.
An informed commentary by Professor Hiroyuki Aoyama in Tokyo has been published on Yahoo News's Japanese site. The only coverage in western corporate media has been by Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday , Robert Fisk in the Independent and Tucker Carlson on Fox .
Other journalists who have been in touch with us have told us that their stories were spiked by editors. As expected, the story has reached much larger numbers through websites and videos that have disseminated it.
2 OPCW's response to the release of the document
2.1 Official response
In an email dated 11 May and shown to us, Deepti Choubey, the head of OPCW Public Affairs, wrote:
Thank you for reaching out to us. It is exclusively through the Fact-Finding Mission, set up in 2014, that the OPCW establishes facts surrounding allegations of use of toxic chemicals for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic. On 1 March 2019, the OPCW has issued its final and only valid official report, signed by the Director-General, regarding the incident that took place in Douma, Syrian Arab Republic, on 7 April 2018. The document you shared with us is not part of any of the material produced by the FFM. The individual mentioned in the document has never been a member of the FFM .
A subsequent email on 16 May stated:
The OPCW establishes facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic through the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM), which was set up in 2014. The OPCW Technical Secretariat reaffirms that the FFM complies with established methodologies and practices to ensure the integrity of its findings. The FFM takes into account all available, relevant, and reliable information and analysis within the scope of its mandate to determine its findings. Per standard practice, the FFM draws expertise from different divisions across the Technical Secretariat as needed. All information was taken into account, deliberated, and weighed when formulating the final report regarding the incident in Douma, Syrian Arab Republic, on 7 April 2018. On 1 March 2019, the OPCW issued its final report on this incident, signed by the Director-General.
Per OPCW rules and regulations, and in order to ensure the privacy, safety, and security of personnel, the OPCW does not provide information about individual staff members of the Technical Secretariat. Pursuant to its established policies and practices, the OPCW Technical Secretariat is conducting an internal investigation about the unauthorised release of the document in question. At this time, there is no further public information on this matter and the OPCW is unable to accommodate requests for interviews.
This was taken as confirmation that the document was genuine.2.2 Unofficial briefings
Following OPCW's confirmation on 16 May that the document we had released was genuine, two individuals in the UK whose communications have supported UK government policy on Syria favoring regime change – Professor Scott Lucas of Birmingham University, and the former Guardian journalist Brian Whitaker – began reporting that they had inside information on how the Engineering Assessment had been excluded from the Final Report.2.2.1 Lucas
On 16 May Lucas reported that:
Henderson was writing what was, in effect, a dissenting assessment from that of most of the OPCW's team and consultant experts. His findings were considered but were a minority opinion as final report was written.
He followed this with a remarkably indiscreet tweet asserting that "I know how OPCW review process was conducted and what place Henderson's assessment had in it." When challenged to explain his connection to OPCW, Lucas did not answer. Hitchens reported on 24 May that OPCW Public Affairs had refused to comment on whether Lucas was receiving authorised briefings from OPCW.
Whitaker was at first more circumspect about his sources, reporting on 16 May that:
One story circulating in the chemical weapons community (though not confirmed) is that Henderson had wanted to join the FFM and got rebuffed but was then given permission to do some investigating on the sidelines of the FFM.
Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat extended Whitaker's version with:
This reporting by @Brian_Whit on the leaked Douma report that the conspiracy theorists and chemical weapon denialists are so excited about is consistent with what I'm hearing . Looks like they all got played by a disgruntled OPCW employee.
In an article posted on 24 May, Whitaker was more explicit in reporting the spin of "an informed source" on the Engineering Assessment.
an informed source has now shed some light on it. The key point here is the FFM's terms of reference. Its basic role was to establish facts about the alleged attack, and it was not allowed to apportion blame -- that is the job of the OPCW's newly-created Investigation and Identification Team (IIT). Although the FFM determined that the cylinders were probably dropped from the air, the published report (in line with its mandate) omitted any mention of the obvious implication that they had been dropped by regime aircraft. According to the informed source, when Henderson's assessment was reviewed there were concerns that it came too close to attributing responsibility, and thus fell outside the scope of the FFM's mandate. Whether or not that was the right decision, there was no doubt that Henderson's assessment did fall within the mandate of the new Investigation and Identification Team. For that reason, according to the source, he was advised to pass it to the IIT instead -- and he did so.
Unless this account was entirely fabricated, it could only have come from someone with close knowledge of how the Final Report had been prepared. A subsequent tweet from Whitaker on 25 May, presumably channelling the same source, confirmed that "Henderson and others" had been in Douma:2.3 What the channelling of off-the-record briefings tells us
Henderson and others did go to Douma to provide temporary support to the FFM, but they were not official members of the FFM.
It is likely that (at least on this occasion) Lucas and Whitaker are telling the truth, and that they have been briefed by someone with close knowledge of how the FFM Final Report was prepared. If these briefings had not been authorised, OPCW Public Affairs could easily have responded to Hitchens's question with a standard statement reiterating that "there is no further public information on this matter" and that this extended to off-the-record briefings. We would expect OPCW press officers to be reluctant to issue further statements that could subsequently be shown to be false.
Like cellular biologists who perturb a complex system and measure its outputs, we can infer from these observations the existence of a pathway. This pathway connects the production of OPCW reports on alleged chemical attacks in Syria with a network of communicators in the UK who in different ways have promoted the cause of regime change in Syria since 2012. It is evident that Lucas and Whitaker are output nodes of this pathway. From August 2012, Whitaker as the Guardian's Middle East editor promoted Higgins from obscure beginnings as a blogger to become a widely-cited source on the Syrian conflict. Whitaker was the first journalist to devote an article to attacking the Working Group, in February 2018 when its only collective output had been a brief blog post.
It is of course possible that OPCW management for some procedural reason was unable to provide further information on the record, and sought to disseminate an accurate version of events via off-the-record briefings. But the choice of such highly partisan commentators as Lucas and Whitaker as channels inevitably calls into question the good faith of whoever provided these briefings, and undermines any remaining pretence to impartiality on the part of OPCW management.
2.4 Discrepancies between versions of OPCW's response
An established method in investigative journalism is to compare official versions and to infer from discrepancies what they are trying to hide. On 11 May OPCW Public Affairs stated that "The document you shared with us is not part of any of the material produced by the FFM. The individual mentioned in the document has never been a member of the FFM". After we pointed out that these two statements were provably false – the external collaboration on the engineering assessment of the Douma cylinders must have been authorised by OPCW, and Henderson could hardly have been in Damascus on a tourist visa – they were not repeated on the record. By 16 May OPCW Public Affairs had formulated a new policy: "Per OPCW rules and regulations the OPCW does not provide information about individual staff members of the Technical Secretariat." A more subtle version of Henderson's role was then channelled through Lucas and Whitaker: "minority opinion", "on the sidelines" and elaborated by Higgins as "disgruntled OPCW employee"'. Between 16 May and 25 May the story channelled through Whitaker changed from "Henderson had wanted to join the FFM and got rebuffed but was then given permission to do some investigating on the sidelines of the FFM." to admitting that "Henderson and others" were in Douma "to provide temporary support to the FFM".
On 24 May Whitaker's informed source admits that "Henderson's assessment was reviewed" for the Final Report, no longer attempting to maintain that the Engineering Assessment was not part of the FFM's process. If we strip away the flannel from this latest story, it appears to be accurate. The "informed source" tells us that the Engineering Assessment was excluded from the Final Report not because its technical analysis had been rebutted, but because the conclusion that the cylinders had been placed in position rather than dropped from the air would necessarily have attributed responsibility for the incident to the opposition .
The argument that the mandate of the FFM prevented it from endorsing the Engineering Assessment's conclusion is easily refuted as a matter of logic. Announcing the release of the Final Report, OPCW stated that "The FFM's mandate is to determine whether chemical weapons or toxic chemicals as weapons have been used in Syria." In Douma this could be reduced to deciding between two alternatives: (1) the gas cylinders were dropped from the air, implying that they were used as chemical weapons; (2) the cylinders were placed in position, implying that the incident was staged and that no chemical attack had occurred. Although to conclude that alternative (2) was correct would implicate the opposition, this would not be attribution of blame for a chemical attack but rather a determination that chemical weapons had not been used.
Clearly a verdict that the alleged chemical attack had been staged would have been unacceptable to the French government, which had joined in the US-led missile attack on 14 April 2018. We can surmise that the Chief of Cabinet of OPCW, Sébastien Braha, who (according to his Linkedin profile ) is still in post as a French diplomat, would have been in a difficult position if he had allowed the FFM to release a report that reached this conclusion. He would be in an even more difficult position if he were to allow the newly-established Investigation and Identification Team (IIT), which also reports to him, to overturn the conclusions of the Final Report and report that the alleged chemical attack was staged. Even if Braha's failure to update his online profile with the date of leaving his diplomatic post is an oversight, this would still be a conflict of interest based on the OECD definition of what "a reasonable person, knowing the relevant facts, would conclude". As we have noted, OPCW appears to have no arrangements for managing conflicts of interest. Until the governance and working practices of OPCW are radically reformed, it is hard to see how neutral observers can have confidence in the impartiality of the FFM or the IIT.
3 Government responses to an alleged chlorine attack on 19 May 3.1 Reports of the alleged attack
Possible allusions to the release of the Engineering Assessment on 13 May can be discerned in government responses to a report of an alleged chlorine attack in Idlib on 19 May. The earliest report , mentioning three missiles or shells loaded with chlorine was from an Arabic-language website named
ebaa.newsat 11.01 am Syrian time. The location was given as Kubina Hill in Kabbana village, on the border with Lattakia. At 12.46 am Syrian time Hamish de Bretton-Gordon (HdBG) tweeted
Appears to be a chlorine attack from Regime artillery shells in Jose Al Shugour village - 4 casualties being evacuated for treatment
"Jose Al Shugour village" is presumably the town of Jisr Al-Shughour. Rami Abdulrahman's Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on 22 May that four fighters were treated in hospital after they "suffocated in the intense and violent shelling by the regime forces, within caves and trenches" but did not endorse the claims of a chlorine attack, noting that the source of this story was "the Media platform of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham". The story was elaborated in a Fox News report on 23 May that quoted a "Dr Ahmad" from Idlib, who reported that he had treated the casualties. Fox News also quoted Nidal Shikhani of the Chemical Violations Documentation Centre Syria (CVDCS).
A possible match for the identity of "Dr Ahmad" is Dr Ahmad al-Dbis, quoted by Reuters on 4 May 2019 as Safety and Security Manager for the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations (UOSSM), describing airstrikes on Idlib and northern Hama. Since 2016 both HdBG and the CBRN Task Force that he set up in 2013 have been affiliated to UOSSM. A report from 2014 quotes a "Dr Ahmad" described as a medic trained by HdBG for the CBRN Task Force. CVDCS is an NGO that has worked closely with the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission since 2015 to provide purported eyewitnesses for interview in Syria, originally established in 2012 as the Office of Documentation of the Chemical File in Syria , and later registered in Brussels as a non-profit company named Same Justice. This company never complied with the legal requirement to file accounts, and went into liquidation on 27 February 2019.
ebaa.newssite appears to be closely linked to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), frequently quoting HTS spokesmen and sometimes reporting exclusive stories obtained from HTS. On 31 May 2018 HTS was designated by the US Department of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. The Coordinator for Counterterrorism noted that this designation "serves notice that the United States is not fooled by this al-Qa'ida affiliate's attempt to rebrand itself." In conclusion, the provenance of this story of a chemical attack on 19 May is dubious, and the extent to which the sources are independent of one another is not clear.
3.2 UK response
On 22 May John Woodcock MP asked at Prime Minister's Questions :
British experts are this morning investigating a suspected chlorine attack by al-Assad in Idlib. If it is proved, will she lead the international response against the return of this indiscriminate evil?
As expected, the Prime Minister gave a bellicose answer, but made no reference to OPCW.
We of course acted in Syria, with France and the United States, when we saw chemical weapons being used there. We are in close contact with the United States and are monitoring the situation closely, and if any use of chemical weapons is confirmed, we will respond appropriately.
Woodcock's "British experts" appear to have included HdBG, who had suggested in a tweet the day before that Woodcock should ask the Prime Minister about Idlib, though not about a chemical attack. In a subsequent tweet Woodcock stated that his experts were "on the ground in Syria".
3.3 French response
The daily press from the French foreign ministry on 22 May responded to a question on the alleged chemical attack on 19 May with:3.4 US response
We have noted with concern these allegations which must be investigated. We have full confidence in the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons .
A press statement from State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus on 21 May dealt with the alleged chemical attack two days earlier:
Unfortunately, we continue to see signs that the Assad regime may be renewing its use of chemical weapons, including an alleged chlorine attack in northwest Syria on the morning of May 19, 2019. We are still gathering information on this incident, but we repeat our warning that if the Assad regime uses chemical weapons, the United States and our allies will respond quickly and appropriately.
She mentioned a " continuing disinformation campaign " to "create the false narrative that others are to blame for chemical weapons attacks that the Assad regime itself is conducting". The following day Mr James Jeffrey, the State Department's special representative to Syria, testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee that "So far we cannot confirm [the reports of chemical weapons use] but we're watching it". The New York Times reported this to be a "carefully worded recalibration" of the announcement by Morgan Ortagus the day before, and that American military officials had "expressed surprise over the State Department's strong statement". 4 Comparison of the Engineering Assessment with the published Final Report
A comparison of the Engineering Assessment and the Final Report have been reported in outline form by McIntyre . As Larson has noted , there are indications in the Final Report that whoever drafted it had access to an earlier version of the Engineering Assessment (the released version dated 27 February 2019 is marked Rev 1) and was attempting to rebut it without overtly mentioning it. For instance the Engineering Assessment lists five points supporting the opinion of experts that the crater at location 2 had been created by a the explosion of a mortar round or artillery rocket rather than an impact from a falling object. These points included:
"an (unusually elevated, but possible) fragmentation pattern on upper walls"
"(whilst it was observed that a fire had been created in the corner of the room) black scorching on the crater underside and ceiling."
The Final Report states falsely that a fragmentation pattern, visible in open-source images, was absent:
The FFM analysed the damage on the rooftop terrace and below the crater in order to determine if it had been created by an explosive device. However, this hypothesis is unlikely given the absence of primary and secondary fragmentation characteristic of an explosion that may have created the crater and the damage surrounding it.
This is followed by a paragraph that notes the blackening of the ceiling and attributes it to the fire set in the room. The Final Report's allusion to the possibility of an explosive device, with mention of fragmentation pattern and the setting of a fire in the room appears to be an attempt to explain away the argument made in the Engineering Assessment.
We note that several of the key findings of the Engineering Assessment are based only on examination of the cylinders. For instance the Engineering Assessment reports that the cylinder at Location 2 bears no markings that would be consistent with the frame with fins (lying on the balcony) ever having been attached to it, let alone the markings that would be expected if the frame had been stripped off by impact. The Final Report records that the Syrian government insisted on retaining custody of the cylinders for criminal investigation purposes. Accordingly:
On 4 June, FFM team members tagged and sealed the cylinders from Locations 2 and 4, and documented the procedure.
A useful way to take forward the investigation of the Douma incident would now be for the Syrian government to invite an international team of neutral experts to examine the cylinders, to assess whether the observations support the findings of the Engineering Assessment or the conclusions of the published FFM Final Report, and to publish their findings in a form that allows peer review and reproducibility of results from data. The next step would be a criminal investigation of this incident, focusing on where, how and by whom were the 35 victims seen in images at Location 2 killed.
Posted at 02:37 AM in government , History , Syria , The Military Art , weapons | Permalink
Castellio , 29 May 2019 at 12:05 PMPaul McKeigue , 29 May 2019 at 12:05 PM
Thank you for pursuing this issue in depth and with rigour.
If SST readers are confused by OPCW's constantly shifting explanations for why the Final Report on the Douma incident excluded the Engineering Assessment, they're not the only ones.
Yesterday OPCW released its official response (dated 21 May) to Russian criticisms (dated 26 April) of the Final Report of the Fact-Finding Mission on the Douma incident. In this response OPCW made, officially and on the record, the same argument as that made by Whitaker's "informed source: that to assess how the cylinders arrived in their positions was outside the mandate of the FFM.
Unfortunately for whoever thought up this defence, it is explicitly contradicted by both the Interim Report (published last July) and the Final Report, which state that the objective of the engineering studies was to evaluate how the cylinders arrived in position.
Peter Hitchens is on the case, and has listed these contradictions and requested an explanation from OPCW.
May 31, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.orgAnne Jaclard , May 30, 2019 7:33:37 PM | 31
Bilderberg 2019 Meeting Information Revealed
Stacey Abrams, Eric Schmidt, Mike Pompeo, and Mattel Renzi, among others, will be attending the top-secret Bilderberh meetings from today through the weekend.
Topics to be discussed include the weaponisation of social media, the future of capitalism, Brexit, China, and threats to the neoliberal world order.
Held since 1954, Bilderberg has acted as a meeting point for high-level establishment politicians and corporate elites to promote the interests of Atlanticism and global corporations.
Many attendees of Bilderberg have gone on to play major roles in their countries' politics, including Angela Merkel and Barack Obama.
The presence of Abrams at the event is another sign that she may act as a vice-presidential candidate for Joe Biden, who himself has attended corporate-linked summits including Davos and the Munich Security Conference this year and who has seen his narratives bolstered by think tanks such as More in Common and the Trilateral Commission.
Abrams is herself a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has pursued a neoliberal agenda while in office.
May 19, 2019 | russia-insider.com
A close-knit oligarchy controls all major corporations. Monopolization of ownership in US economy fast approaching Soviet levels
Starting with Ronald Reagan's presidency, the US government willingly decided to ignore the anti-trust laws so that corporations would have free rein to set up monopolies. With each successive president the monopolistic concentration of business and shareholding in America has grown precipitously eventually to reach the monstrous levels of the present day.
Today's level of monopolistic concentration is of such unprecedented levels that we may without hesitation designate the US economy as a giant oligopoly. From economic power follows political power, therefore the economic oligopoly translates into a political oligarchy. (It seems, though, that the transformation has rather gone the other way around, a ferocious set of oligarchs have consolidated their economic and political power beginning from the turn of the twentieth century). The conclusion that the US is an oligarchy finds support in a 2014 by a Princeton University study.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world has not seen these levels of concentration of ownership. The Soviet Union did not die because of apparent ideological reasons but due to economic bankruptcy caused by its uncompetitive monopolistic economy. Our verdict is that the US is heading in the same direction.
In a later report, we will demonstrate how all sectors of the US economy have fallen prey to monopolization and how the corporate oligopoly has been set up across the country. This post essentially serves as an appendix to that future report by providing the shocking details of the concentration of corporate ownership.
Apart from illustrating the monopolization at the level of shareholding of the major investors and corporations, we will in a follow-up post take a somewhat closer look at one particularly fatal aspect of this phenomenon, namely the consolidation of media (posted simultaneously with the present one) in the hands of absurdly few oligarch corporations. In there, we will discuss the monopolies of the tech giants and their ownership concentration together with the traditional media because they rightfully belong to the same category directly restricting speech and the distribution of opinions in society.
In a future instalment of this report, we will show that the oligarchization of America – the placing it under the rule of the One Percent (or perhaps more accurately the 0.1%, if not 0.01%) - has been a deliberate ideologically driven long-term project to establish absolute economic power over the US and its political system and further extend that to involve an absolute global hegemony (the latter project thankfully thwarted by China and Russia). To achieve these goals, it has been crucial for the oligarchs to control and direct the narrative on economy and war, on all public discourse on social affairs. By seizing the media, the oligarchs have created a monstrous propaganda machine, which controls the opinions of the majority of the US population.
We use the words 'monopoly,' 'monopolies,' and 'monopolization' in a broad sense and subsume under these concepts all kinds of market dominance be it by one company or two or a small number of companies, that is, oligopolies. At the end of the analysis, it is not of great importance how many corporations share in the market dominance, rather what counts is the death of competition and the position enabling market abuse, either through absolute dominance, collusion, or by a de facto extinction of normal market competition. Therefore we use the term 'monopolization' to describe the process of reaching a critical level of non-competition on a market. Correspondingly, we may denote 'monopoly companies' two corporations of a duopoly or several of an oligopoly.Horizontal shareholding – the cementation of the oligarchy
One especially perfidious aspect of this concentration of ownership is that the same few institutional investors have acquired undisputable control of the leading corporations in practically all the most important sectors of industry. The situation when one or several investors own controlling or significant shares of the top corporations in a given industry (business sector) is referred to as horizontal shareholding . (*1). In present-day United States a few major investors – equity funds or private capital - are as a rule cross-owned by each other, forming investor oligopolies, which in turn own the business oligopolies.
A study has shown that among a sample of the 1,500 largest US firms (S&P 1500), the probability of one major shareholder holding significant shares in two competing firms had jumped to 90% in 2014, while having been just 16% in 1999. (*2).
Institutional investors like BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, Fidelity, and JP Morgan, now own 80% of all stock in S&P 500 listed companies. The Big Three investors - BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street – alone constitute the largest shareholder in 88% of S&P 500 firms, which roughly correspond to America's 500 largest corporations. (*3). Both BlackRock and Vanguard are among the top five shareholders of almost 70% of America's largest 2,000 publicly traded corporations. (*4).
Blackrock had as of 2016 $6.2 trillion worth of assets under management, Vanguard $5.1 trillion, whereas State Street has dropped to a distant third with only $1 trillion in assets. This compares with a total market capitalization of US stocks according to Russell 3000 of $30 trillion at end of 2017 (From 2016 to 2017, the Big Three has of course also put on assets).Blackrock and Vanguard would then alone own more than one-third of all US publicly listed shares.
From an expanded sample that includes the 3,000 largest publicly listed corporations (Russell 3000 index), institutions owned (2016) about 78% of the equity .
The speed of concentration the US economy in the hands of institutions has been incredible. Still back in 1950s, their share of the equity was 10%, by 1980 it was 30% after which the concentration has rapidly grown to the present day approximately 80%. (*5). Another study puts the present (2016) stock market capitalization held by institutional investors at 70%. (*6). (The slight difference can possibly be explained by variations in the samples of companies included).
As a result of taking into account the common ownership at investor level, it emerges that the US economy is yet much more monopolized than it was previously thought when the focus had been on the operational business corporation alone detached from their owners. (*7).The Oligarch owners assert their control
Apologists for monopolies have argued that the institutional investors who manage passive capital are passive in their own conduct as shareholders as well. (*8). Even if that would be true it would come with vastly detrimental consequences for the economy as that would mean that in effect there would be no shareholder control at all and the corporate executives would manage the companies exclusively with their own short-term benefits in mind, inevitably leading to corruption and the loss of the common benefits businesses on a normally functioning competitive market would bring.
In fact, there seems to have been a period in the US economy – before the rapid monopolization of the last decade -when such passive investors had relinquished control to the executives. (*9). But with the emergence of the Big Three investors and the astonishing concentration of ownership that does not seem to hold water any longer. (*10). In fact, there need not be any speculation about the matter as the monopolist owners are quite candid about their ways. For example, BlackRock's CEO Larry Fink sends out an annual guiding letter to his subject, practically to all the largest firms of the US and increasingly also Europe and the rest of the West. In his pastoral, the CEO shares his view of the global conditions affecting business prospects and calls for companies to adjust their strategies accordingly.
The investor will eventually review the management's strategic plans for compliance with the guidelines. Effectively, the BlackRock CEO has in this way assumed the role of a giant central planner, rather like the Gosplan, the central planning agency of the Soviet command economy.
The 2019 letter (referenced above) contains this striking passage, which should quell all doubts about the extent to which BlackRock exercises its powers:
"As we seek to build long-term value for our clients through engagement, our aim is not to micromanage a company's operations. Instead, our primary focus is to ensure board accountability for creating long-term value. However, a long-term approach should not be confused with an infinitely patient one. When BlackRock does not see progress despite ongoing engagement, or companies are insufficiently responsive to our efforts to protect our clients' long-term economic interests, we do not hesitate to exercise our right to vote against incumbent directors or misaligned executive compensation."
Considering the striking facts rendered above, we should bear in mind that the establishment of this virtually absolute oligarch ownership over all the largest corporations of the United States is a relatively new phenomenon. We should therefore expect that the centralized control and centralized planning will rapidly grow in extent as the power is asserted and methods are refined.
Most of the capital of those institutional investors consists of so-called passive capital, that is, such cases of investments where the investor has no intention of trying to achieve any kind of control of the companies it invests in, the only motivation being to achieve as high as possible a yield. In the overwhelming majority of the cases the funds flow into the major institutional investors, which invest the money at their will in any corporations. The original investors do not retain any control of the institutional investors, and do not expect it either. Technically the institutional investors like BlackRock and Vanguard act as fiduciary asset managers. But here's the rub, while the people who commit their assets to the funds may be considered as passive investors, the institutional investors who employ those funds are most certainly not.Cross-ownership of oligarch corporations
To make matters yet worse, it must be kept in mind that the oligopolistic investors in turn are frequently cross-owned by each other. (*11). In fact, there is no transparent way of discovering who in fact controls the major institutional investors.
One of the major institutional investors, Vanguard is ghost owned insofar as it does not have any owners at all in the traditional sense of the concept. The company claims that it is owned by the multiple funds that it has itself set up and which it manages. This is how the company puts it on their home page : "At Vanguard, there are no outside owners, and therefore, no conflicting loyalties. The company is owned by its funds, which in turn are owned by their shareholders -- including you, if you're a Vanguard fund investor." At the end of the analysis, it would then seem that Vanguard is owned by Vanguard itself, certainly nobody should swallow the charade that those funds stuffed with passive investor money would exercise any ownership control over the superstructure Vanguard. We therefore assume that there is some group of people (other than the company directors) that have retained the actual control of Vanguard behind the scenes (perhaps through one or a few of the funds). In fact, we believe that all three (BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard) are tightly controlled by a group of US oligarchs (or more widely transatlantic oligarchs), who prefer not to brandish their power. It is beyond the scope of this study and our means to investigate this hypothesis, but whatever, it is bad enough that as a proven fact these three investor corporations wield this control over most of the American economy. We also know that the three act in concert wherever they hold shares. (*12).Now, let's see who are the formal owners of these institutional investors
In considering these ownership charts, please, bear in mind that we have not consistently examined to what degree the real control of one or another company has been arranged through a scheme of issuing different classes of shares, where a special class of shares give vastly more voting rights than the ordinary shares. One source asserts that 355 of the companies in the Russell index consisting of the 3000 largest corporations employ such a dual voting-class structure, or 11.8% of all major corporations.
We have mostly relied on www.stockzoa.com for the shareholder data. However, this and other sources tend to list only the so-called institutional investors while omitting corporate insiders and other individuals. (We have no idea why such strange practice is employed
Apr 28, 2019 | consortiumnews.com
michael , April 22, 2019 at 07:06
"People take this repetition as a substitute for proof due to a glitch in human psychology known as the illusory truth effect, a phenomenon which causes our brains to tend to interpret things we've heard before as known truths." I think it is a deeper phenomenon than repetition of lies (which have been legal since 2014 with the 'modernization' of Smith-Mundt, our anti-propaganda law).
The #resistence seems to fulfill people who have never accepted any religions whole-heartedly; there is something in the human psyche which demands an intuitive evidence-free, faith-based acceptance of beliefs which go beyond facts and evidence. This is a powerful dream world where their illusions are more powerful than reality.
There is an inability to accept the fact that people in DC and NYC and Boston and San Francisco and other Financial/ MIC-driven areas were doing well relative to the bulk of Americans and life was wonderful until the 2016 Election. For these people "America Has Never Stopped Being Great!" (Similar to the "I've got mine, Jack! " attitude of Great Britain, as their labor unions lost unity with rest of the working class.)
Their comments have moved away from ad hominem "You are a Putin stooge!" arguments to appeals to Authority fallacies: "All our Intelligence Agencies Know that Assange worked with Russians to embarrass Hillary and cost her the Election". Religiosity is largely Authority-driven, and avoids the angst of critical thinking and putting facts together that (thanks to our Intelligence Agencies!) don't fit together.
Apr 26, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,
In this universe of paradox, inequity, ironies, and fake-outs one strange actuality stands above the rest these days: that the much-reviled President Trump was on the right side of RussiaGate, and the enormous mob of America's Thinking Class was on the wrong side -- and by such a shocking margin of error that they remain in a horrified fugue of outrage and reprisal, apparently unaware that consequences await.
Granted, there's a lot to not like about Mr. Trump: his life of maximum privilege in a bubble of grifticious wealth; his shady career in the sub-swamp of New York real estate; his rough, garbled, and childlike manner of speech; his disdain of political decorum, his lumbering bellicosity, his apparently near-total lack of education, and, of course, the mystifying hair-doo. His unbelievable luck in winning the 2016 election can only be explained by the intervention of some malign cosmic force -- a role assigned to the Russians. At least that's how Mr. Trump's antagonists engineered The Narrative that they have now quadrupled down on.
To make matters worse, this odious President happens to be on the right side of several other political quarrels of the day, at least in terms of principle, however awkwardly he presents it.
The Resistance, which is to say the same Thinking Class groomed in the Ivy League and apprenticed in official leadership, has dug in on the idiotic policy position of a de facto open border with Mexico, and embellished that foolish idea with such accessory stupidities as sanctuary cities and free college tuition for non-citizens. Their arguments justifying these positions are wholly sentimental -- they're stuffing little children in cages ! -- masking a deep undercurrent of dishonesty and cynical opportunism -- not to mention putting themselves at odds with the rule-of-law itself.
During the 2016 election campaign, Mr. Trump often averred to forging better relations with Russia. The previous administration had meddled grotesquely in Ukrainian politics, among other things, and scuttled the chance to make common cause with Russia in areas of shared self-interest, for instance, in opposing worldwide Islamic terrorism. This was apparently too much for the US War Lobby, who needed a Russian boogeyman to keep the gravy train of weaponry and profitable interventionist operations chugging along, even if it meant arming Islamic State warriors who were blowing up US troops. Being falsely persecuted from before day one of his term for "collusion with Russia," Mr. Trump apparently found it necessary to go along with antagonizing Russia via sanctions and bluster, as if to demonstrate he never was "Putin's Puppet."
Meanwhile, by some strange process of psychological alchemy, the Thinking Class assigned Islamic radicals to their roster of sacred victims of oppression -- so that now it's verboten to mention them in news reports whenever some new slaughter of innocents is carried out around the world, or to complain about their hostility to Western Civ as a general proposition. Two decades after the obscene 9/11 attacks, the new Democratic Party controlled congress has apparently decided that it's better to make common cause with Islamic Radicalism than with a Russia that is, in actuality, no longer the Soviet Union but rather just another European nation trying to make it through the endgame of the industrial age, like everybody else.
The Thinking Class behind the bad faith Resistance is about to be beaten within an inch of its place in history with an ugly-stick of reality as The Narrative finally comes to be fairly adjudicated. The Mueller Report was much more than just disappointing; it was a comically inept performance insofar as it managed to overlook the only incidence of collusion that actually took place: namely, the disinfo operation sponsored by the Hillary Clinton campaign in concert with the highest officials of the FBI, the Department of Justice, State Department personnel, the various Intel agencies, and the Obama White house for the purpose of interfering in the 2016 election. It will turn out that the Mueller Investigation was just an extension of that felonious op, and Mr. Mueller himself may well be subject to prosecution for destroying evidence and, yes, obstruction of justice.
John F. Kennedy once observed that "life is unfair." It is unfair, perhaps, that a TV Reality Show huckster, clown, and rank outsider beat a highly credentialed veteran of the political establishment and that he flaunts his lack of decorum in the Oval Office. But it happens that he was on the side of the truth in the RussiaGate farrago and that happens to place him in a position of advantage going forward. Tags Politics
Show 98 Comments
Gobble D. Goop , 15 minutes ago linkfreedommusic , 25 minutes ago link
Thinking class? You mean those folks that cheated/bribed/slept/blew/affirmatve actioned thier way to an education credential? That thinking class?
Understandable.NeverDemRino , 2 hours ago link
and the enormous mob of America's Thinking Class was on the wrong side
America's Thinking Class are NOT a bunch of narcissistic blowhards screaming in front of TV News cameras wearing makeup, espousing and pontificating their mental illness from compromised perspectives of the world. America's Thinking Class are actually - thinking - living in the REAL world outside of DC, disseminating the available information, connecting the dots with logic, reason, incredulity, critical thinking, and a great deal of skepticism viewed through a jaundiced eye. This thinking class is coming to somewhat obvious yet VERY DIFFERENT conclusions from the print and news media propagandists and are on the right side of the facts and truth.
WE ARE THE NEWSJessica6 , 2 hours ago link
Jame Howard Kunstler is under the false impression that the Rule of Law will be restored in the Banana Repubic.prcat3vet , 2 hours ago link
"Thinking class" implies that they think - as in there are analytical processes that go in inside their skulls. I'm not certain Generation ReTweet exhibit enough individual consciousness to pass a Turing Test.Ace006 , 3 hours ago link
"masking a deep undercurrent of dishonesty and cynical opportunism -- not to mention putting themselves at odds with the rule-of-law itself."
The Rule of Law doesn't apply to the "thinking class", or didn't you know that.Zappalives , 3 hours ago link
Said highly-credentialed veteran of the political establishment (like I care) chortled after Gaddafi had been dispatched by our unconstitutional and illegal attack on Libya. "We came. We saw. He died." If that doesn't strike you as a serious deficiency in the decorum department I'll pass on what decorum you think it is that Trump lacks in the Oval Office. God SAVE us from the fools and grifters that the Establishment (spit) excretes who have all kinds of credentials and are masters of the graceful stilleto.
That smooth pansy of a president we just saw the end of never spent a Saturday tinkering with his ride while listening to some tunes and sucking down a brewski. And we paid a high price for that twink's efforts to fundamentally change America. Our so-called political elite are as useless as **** on a 200-lb. lesbian.DocJackson , 2 hours ago link
"The thinking class"......................thinking what ??????????????
Thinking that everyone was going to buy into their ill-conceived, ill-executed coup of a duly elected POTUS was going to stand ?????????????????
Their hubris will be their downfall.
Dem/progs/repubs from E and W coast have brought our republic ever closer to Civil war 2.0.
Withdraw your consent to be governed is the first step.
Go from there.Utopia Planitia , 3 hours ago link
I've been thinking about this for a while, and I figured it out. They're not the "thinking" class as in cognitive function, but of opinion: "I think this is the way things are supposed to be." So it's not the "thinking class," but "the opinionated class, those who spout **** in the conspicuous absence of supporting factual evidence, or even in conspicuous contradiction to same." ;-)Herp and Derp , 3 hours ago link
Your so-called "thinking class" does nothing of the kind. In fact they do everything they can to inhibit and prevent any "thinking". TDS does not have to be fatal, but will be if sufferers do not seek and accept treatment. (they are also fun to watch, especially when it gets to the stage where they are frothing at the mouth.)
Working in tech and consulting to a wide range of educated people in finance and pharma, I have to agree. Getting an advanced degree does not indicate anything more than persistence. Most people are sleep walking idiots no matter how 'smart' they are perceived in society.
Oct 22, 2017 | www.unz.com
Fran Macadam , October 20, 2017 at 3:08 pm GMTA credible reading of the diverse facts, Mike.Kirk Elarbee , October 20, 2017 at 8:27 pm GMTSadly, Brennan's propaganda coup only works on what the Bell Curve crowd up there would call the dumbest and most technologically helpless 1.2σ. Here is how people with half a brain interpret the latest CIA whoppers.utu , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 5:18 am GMT
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/10/everyone-hacked-everyone-hacked-everyone-spy-spin-fuels-anti-kaspersky-campaign.htmlAgain Mike Whitney does not get it. Though in the first part of the article I thought he would. He was almost getting there. The objective was to push new administration into the corner from which it could not improve relations with Russia as Trump indicated that he wanted to during the campaign.anon , Disclaimer Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 5:54 am GMT
Convincing Americans in Russia's influence or Russia collusion with Trump was only a tool that would create pressure on Trump that together with the fear of paralysis of his administration and impeachment would push Trump into the corner from which the only thing he could do was to worsen relations with Russia. What American people believe or not is really secondary. With firing of Gen. Flynn Trump acted exactly as they wanted him to act. This was the beginning of downward slope.
Anyway, the mission was accomplished and the relations with Russia are worse now than during Obama administration. Trump can concentrate on Iran in which he will be supported by all sides and factions including the media. Even Larry David will approve not only the zionist harpies like Pam Geller, Rita Katz and Ilana Mercer.
Pamela Geller: Thank You, Larry David
http://www.breitbart.com/big-hollywood/2017/10/19/pamela-geller-thank-larry-david/OK.ThereisaGod , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 6:37 am GMT
The only part that is absurd is that Russia posed a bona fide threat to the US. I'm fine with the idea that he ruined Brennen's plans in Syria. But thats just ego we shouldn't have been there anyway.
No one really cares about Ukraine. And the European/Russian trade zone? No one cares. The Eurozone has its hands full with Greece and the rest of the old EU. I have a feeling they have already gone way too far and are more likely to shrink than expand in any meaningful way
The one thing I am not positive about. If the elite really believe that Russia is a threat, then Americans have done psych ops on themselves.
The US was only interested in Ukraine because it was there. Next in line on a map. The rather shocking disinterest in investing money -- on both sides -- is inexplicable if it was really important. Most of it would be a waste -- but still. The US stupidly spent $5 billion on something -- getting duped by politicians and got theoretical regime change, but it was hell to pry even $1 billion for real economic aid.jilles dykstra , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 6:46 am GMT" ..factions within the state whose interests do not coincide with those of the American people."
All the more powerfully put because of its recognisably comical. understatement. Thank you Mr Whitney. Brilliant article that would be all over the mainstream media were the US MSM an instrument of American rather than globalist interests.I am reading Howard Zinn, A Peoples History of the USA, 1492 to the Present. A sad story, how the USA always was a police state, where the two percent rich manipulated the 98% poor, to stay rich. When there were insurrections federal troops restored order. Also FDR put down strikes with troops.Logan , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 11:16 am GMT@jilles dykstraDESERT FOX , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 1:30 pm GMT
You should be aware that Zinn's book is not, IMO, an honest attempt at writing history. It is conscious propaganda intended to make Americans believe exactly what you are taking from it.The elephant in the room is Israel and the neocons , this is the force that controls America and Americas foreign policy , Brennan and the 17 intel agencies are puppets of the mossad and Israel, that is the brutal fact of the matter.TG , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 2:03 pm GMT
Until that fact changes Americans will continue to fight and die for Israel.Anonymous , Disclaimer Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 2:05 pm GMT"The absence of evidence suggests that Russia hacking narrative is a sloppy and unprofessional disinformation campaign that was hastily slapped together by over confident Intelligence officials who believed that saturating the public airwaves with one absurd story after another would achieve the desired result "
But it DID achieve the desired result! Trump folded under the pressure, and went full out neoliberal. Starting with his missile attack on Syria, he is now OK with spending trillions fighting pointless endless foreign wars on the other side of the world.
I think maybe half the US population does believe the Russian hacking thing, but that's not really the issue. I think that the pre-Syrian attack media blitz was more a statement of brute power to Trump: WE are in charge here, and WE can take you down and impeach you, and facts don't matter!
Sometimes propaganda is about persuading people. And sometimes, I think, it is about intimidating them.Whitney is another author who declares the "Russians did it" narrative a psyop. He then devotes entire columns to the psyop, "naww Russia didn't do it". There could be plenty to write about – recent laws that do undercut liberty, but no, the Washington Post needs fake opposition to its fake news so you have guys like Whitney in the less-mainstream fake news media.Jake , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 2:32 pm GMT
So Brennan wanted revenge? Well that's simple enough to understand, without being too stupid. But Whitney's whopper of a lie is what you're supposed to unquestionably believe. The US has "rival political parties". Did you miss it?The US is doing nothing more than acting as the British Empire 2.0. WASP culture was born of a Judaizing heresy: Anglo-Saxon Puritanism. That meant that the WASP Elites of every are pro-Jewish, especially in order to wage war, physical and/or cultural, against the vast majority of white Christians they rule.Logan , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:04 pm GMT
By the early 19th century, The Brit Empire's Elites also had a strong, and growing, dose of pro-Arabic/pro-Islamic philoSemitism. Most of that group became ardently pro-Sunni, and most of the pro-Sunni ones eventually coalescing around promotion of the House of Saud, which means being pro-Wahhabi and permanently desirous of killing or enslaving virtually all Shiite Mohammedans.
So, by the time of Victoria's high reign, the Brit WASP Elites were a strange brew of hardcoree pro-Jewish and hardcore pro-Arabic/islamic. The US foreign policy of today is an attempt to put those two together and force it on everyone and make it work.
The Brit secret service, in effect, created and trained not merely the CIA but also the Mossad and Saudi Arabia's General Intelligence Presidency. All four are defined by endless lies, endless acts of utterly amoral savagery. All 4 are at least as bad as the KGB ever was, and that means as bad as Hell itself.@Grandpa CharlieWally , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:16 pm GMT
Fair enough. I didn't know that about the foreword. If accurate, that's a reasonable approach for a book.
Here's the problem.
Back when O. Cromwell was the dictator of England, he retained an artist to paint him. The custom of the time was for artists to "clean up" their subjects, in a primitive form of photoshopping.
OC being a religious fanatic, he informed the artist he wished to be portrayed as God had made him, "warts and all." (Ollie had a bunch of unattractive facial warts.) Or the artist wouldn't be paid.
Traditional triumphalist American narrative history, as taught in schools up through the 60s or so, portrayed America as "wart-free." Since then, with Zinn's book playing a major role, it has increasingly been portrayed as "warts-only," which is of course at least equally flawed. I would say more so.
All I am asking is that American (and other) history be written "warts and all." The triumphalist version is true, largely, and so is the Zinn version. Gone With the Wind and Roots both portray certain aspects of the pre-war south fairly accurately..
America has been, and is, both evil and good. As is/was true of every human institution and government in history. Personally, I believe America, net/net, has been one of the greatest forces for human good ever. But nobody will realize that if only the negative side of American history is taught.@Michael KennyLogan , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:20 pm GMT
Hasbarist 'Kenny', you said:
"There must be something really dirty in Russigate that hasn't yet come out to generate this level of panic."
You continue to claim what you cannot prove.
But then you are a Jews First Zionist.
Russia-Gate Jumps the Shark
Russia-gate has jumped the shark with laughable new claims about a tiny number of "Russia-linked" social media ads, but the US mainstream media is determined to keep a straight face
Yet Another Major Russia Story Falls Apart. Is Skepticism Permissible Yet?
+ review of other frauds@JakeGrandpa Charlie , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:25 pm GMT
Most of that group became ardently pro-Sunni, and most of the pro-Sunni ones eventually coalescing around promotion of the House of Saud, which means being pro-Wahhabi and permanently desirous of killing or enslaving virtually all Shiite Mohammedans.
Thanks for the laugh. During the 19th century, the Sauds were toothless, dirt-poor hicks from the deep desert of zero importance on the world stage.
The Brits were not Saudi proponents, in fact promoting the Husseins of Hejaz, the guys Lawrence of Arabia worked with. The Husseins, the Sharifs of Mecca and rulers of Hejaz, were the hereditary enemies of the Sauds of Nejd.
After WWI, the Brits installed Husseins as rulers of both Transjordan and Iraq, which with the Hejaz meant the Sauds were pretty much surrounded. The Sauds conquered the Hejaz in 1924, despite lukewarm British support for the Hejaz.
Nobody in the world cared much about the Saudis one way or another until massive oil fields were discovered, by Americans not Brits, starting in 1938. There was no reason they should. Prior to that Saudi prominence in world affairs was about equal to that of Chad today, and for much the same reason. Chad (and Saudi Arabia) had nothing anybody else wanted.@Michael KennySeamus Padraig , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:39 pm GMT
'Putin stopped talking about the "Lisbon to Vladivostok" free trade area long ago" -- Michael Kenney
Putin was simply trying to sell Russia's application for EU membership with the catch-phrase "Lisbon to Vladivostok". He continued that until the issue was triply mooted (1) by implosion of EU growth and boosterism, (2) by NATO's aggressive stance, in effect taken by NATO in Ukraine events and in the Baltics, and, (3) Russia's alliance with China.
It is surely still true that Russians think of themselves, categorically, as Europeans. OTOH, we can easily imagine that Russians in Vladivostok look at things differently than do Russians in St. Petersburg. Then again, Vladivostok only goes back about a century and a half.@utuSeamus Padraig , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:45 pm GMT
Anyway, the mission was accomplished and the relations with Russia are worse now than during Obama administration.
I generally agree with your comment, but that part strikes me as a bit of an exaggeration. While relations with Russia certainly haven't improved, how have they really worsened? The second round of sanctions that Trump reluctantly approved have yet to be implemented by Europe, which was the goal. And apart from that, what of substance has changed?@Grandpa CharlieLudwig Watzal , Website Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:46 pm GMT
That pre-9/11 "cooperation" nearly destroyed Russia. Nobody in Russia (except, perhaps, for Pussy Riot) wants a return to the Yeltsin era.It's not surprising that 57 percent of the American people believe in Russian meddling. Didn't two-thirds of the same crowd believe that Saddam was behind 9/11, too? The American public is being brainwashed 24 hours a day all year long.anonymous , Disclaimer Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:50 pm GMT
The CIA is the world largest criminal and terrorist organization. With Brennan the worst has come to the worst. The whole Russian meddling affair was initiated by the Obama/Clinton gang in cooperation with 95 percent of the media. Nothing will come out of it.
This disinformation campaign might be the prelude to an upcoming war.
Right now, the US is run by jerks and idiots. Watch the video.Only dumb people does not know that TRUMP IS NETANYAHU'S PUPPET.Miro23 , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 4:56 pm GMT
The fifth column zionist jews are running the albino stooge and foreign policy in the Middle East to expand Israel's interest against American interest that is TREASON. One of these FIFTH COLUMNISTS is Jared Kushner. He should be arrested.
[The key figures who had primary influence on both Trump's and Bush's Iran policies held views close to those of Israel's right-wing Likud Party. The main conduit for the Likudist line in the Trump White House is Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, primary foreign policy advisor, and longtime friend and supporter of Netanyahu. Kushner's parents are also long-time supporters of Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank.
Another figure to whom the Trump White House has turned is John Bolton, undersecretary of state and a key policymaker on Iran in the Bush administration. Although Bolton was not appointed Trump's secretary of state, as he'd hoped, he suddenly reemerged as a player on Iran policy thanks to his relationship with Kushner. Politico reports that Bolton met with Kushner a few days before the final policy statement was released and urged a complete withdrawal from the deal in favor of his own plan for containing Iran.
Bolton spoke with Trump by phone on Thursday about the paragraph in the deal that vowed it would be "terminated" if there was any renegotiation, according to Politico. He was calling Trump from Las Vegas, where he'd been meeting with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the third major figure behind Trump's shift towards Israeli issues. Adelson is a Likud supporter who has long been a close friend of Netanyahu's and has used his Israeli tabloid newspaper Israel Hayomto support Netanyahu's campaigns. He was Trump's main campaign contributor in 2016, donating $100 million. Adelson's real interest has been in supporting Israel's interests in Washington -- especially with regard to Iran.]A great article with some excellent points:CanSpeccy , Website Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 5:11 pm GMT
Putin's dream of Greater Europe is the death knell for the unipolar world order. It means the economic center of the world will shift to Central Asia where abundant resources and cheap labor of the east will be linked to the technological advances and the Capital the of the west eliminating the need to trade in dollars or recycle profits into US debt. The US economy will slip into irreversible decline, and the global hegemon will steadily lose its grip on power. That's why it is imperative for the US prevail in Ukraine– a critical land bridge connecting the two continents– and to topple Assad in Syria in order to control vital resources and pipeline corridors. Washington must be in a position where it can continue to force its trading partners to denominate their resources in dollars and recycle the proceeds into US Treasuries if it is to maintain its global primacy. The main problem is that Russia is blocking Uncle Sam's path to success which is roiling the political establishment in Washington.
American dominance is very much tied to the dollar's role as the world's reserve currency, and the rest of the world no longer want to fund this bankrupt, warlike state – particularly the Chinese.
First, it confirms that the US did not want to see the jihadist extremists defeated by Russia. These mainly-Sunni militias served as Washington's proxy-army conducting an ambitious regime change operation which coincided with US strategic ambitions.
The CIA run US/Israeli/ISIS alliance.
Second, Zakharova confirms that the western media is not an independent news gathering organization, but a propaganda organ for the foreign policy establishment who dictates what they can and can't say.
They are given the political line and they broadcast it.
The loosening of rules governing the dissemination of domestic propaganda coupled with the extraordinary advances in surveillance technology, create the perfect conditions for the full implementation of an American police state. But what is more concerning, is that the primary levers of state power are no longer controlled by elected officials but by factions within the state whose interests do not coincide with those of the American people. That can only lead to trouble.
At some point Americans are going to get a "War on Domestic Terror" cheered along by the media. More or less the arrest and incarceration of any opposition following the Soviet Bolshevik model.@utuThales the Milesian , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 5:53 pm GMT
On the plus side, everyone now knows that the Anglo-US media from the NY Times to the Economist, from WaPo to the Gruniard, and from the BBC to CNN, the CBC and Weinstein's Hollywood are a worthless bunch of depraved lying bastards.Brennan did this, CIA did that .AB_Anonymous , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 5:59 pm GMT
So what are you going to do about all this?
Continue to whine?
Continue to keep your head stuck in your ass?
So then continue with your blah, blah, blah, and eat sh*t.
You, disgusting self-elected democratic people/institutions!!!Such a truthful portrait of reality ! The ruling elite is indeed massively corrupt, compromised, and controlled by dark forces. And the police state is already here. For most people, so far, in the form of massive collection of personal data and increasing number of mandatory regulations. But just one or two big false-flags away from progressing into something much worse.Art , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 6:18 pm GMT
The thing is, no matter how thick the mental cages are, and how carefully they are maintained by the daily massive injections of "certified" truth (via MSM), along with neutralizing or compromising of "troublemakers", the presence of multiple alternative sources in the age of Internet makes people to slip out of these cages one by one, and as the last events show – with acceleration.
It means that there's a fast approaching tipping point after which it'd be impossible for those in power both to keep a nice "civilized" face and to control the "cage-free" population. So, no matter how the next war will be called, it will be the war against the free Internet and free people. That's probably why N. Korean leader has no fear to start one.An aside:Mr. Anon , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 7:07 pm GMT
All government secrecy is a curse on mankind. Trump is releasing the JFK murder files to the public. Kudos! Let us hope he will follow up with a full 9/11 investigation.
Think Peace -- Art@utuArt , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 7:11 pm GMT
The objective was to push new administration into the corner from which it could not improve relations with Russia as Trump indicated that he wanted to during the campaign.
Good point. That was probably one of the objectives (and from the point of view of the deep-state, perhaps the most important objective) of the "Russia hacked our democracy" narrative, in addition to the general deligitimization of the Trump administration.And, keep in mind, Washington's Sunni proxies were not a division of the Pentagon; they were entirely a CIA confection: CIA recruited, CIA-armed, CIA-funded and CIA-trained.Rurik , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 7:12 pm GMT
Clearly the CIA was making war on Syria. Is secret coercive covert action against sovereign nations Ok? Is it legal? When was the CIA designated a war making entity – what part of the constitution OK's that? Isn't the congress obliged by constitutional law to declare war? (These are NOT six month actions – they go on and on.)
Are committees of six congressman and six senators, who meet in secret, just avoiding the grave constitutional questions of war? We the People cannot even interrogate these politicians. (These politicians make big money in the secrecy swamp when they leave office.)
Syria is only one of many nations that the CIA is attacking – how many countries are we attacking with drones? Where is congress?
Spying is one thing – covert action is another – covert is wrong – it goes against world order. Every year after 9/11 they say things are worse – give them more money more power and they will make things safe. That is BS!
9/11 has opened the flood gates to the US government attacking at will, the various peoples of this Earth. That is NOT our prerogative.
We are being exceptionally arrogant.
Close the CIA – give the spying to the 16 other agencies.
Think Peace -- Art@Ben10Mr. Anon , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 7:15 pm GMT
right at 1:47
when he says 'we can't move on as a country'
his butt hurt is so ruefully obvious, that I couldn't help notice a wry smile on my face
that bitch spent millions on the war sow, and now all that mullah won't even wipe his butt hurt
when I see ((guys)) like this raging their inner crybaby angst, I feel really, really good about President Trump
MAGA bitches!@jilles dykstraTradecraft46 , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 8:04 pm GMT
I am reading Howard Zinn, A Peoples History of the USA
A Peoples History of the USA? Which Peoples?I am SAIS 70 so know the drill and the article is on point.
Here is the dealio. Most reporters are dim and have no experience, and it is real easy to lead them by the nose with promises of better in the future.
May 03, 2017 | www.unz.com
2) Trucklers – (LBJ) lower class White Americans who gain wealth and power by championing non White, minority causes just because it's a path to power, pleasing the elites who would otherwise dismiss them as hicks.
3) Pussyfooters (Bush Sr. Country Club Conservatives) White Americans who prefer their own safe life, don't hate their own people but rarely defend them – they don't like trouble, they're pussies. Alt Right has given them a new word "Cuckservatives".
4) Old Believers (Ron Paul, Pat Robertson) Sincere old guys who wish things could go back to the way things used to be when some systems supposedly worked for us when we were 90% White European American, before the Great Society, New Deal, feminism, etc
5) Proditors – (John Brown, Jane Fonda, SDS)
These are the forms of White traditional British oriented American traitors, not racial or ethnic groups with historic envy, hatreds of our people.
Do you have links to other Wilmot Robertson sites?Svigor , December 2, 2016 at 3:19 am GMTI really can't emphasize #2 strongly enough. The term "fog of war" is an apt one. People in a war generally don't know much at all about what's going on, at the time. They're lucky if they ever do. But in every single orthodox eye-witness account I've ever read, the storytellers know exactly what was going on, and why . Even when they shouldn't. They set off my skeptic alarms left and right.
Read some of the accounts critically, and see for yourself. They're mostly "everybody knows," "it is known," type stuff. Not credible at all. These are the bricks the orthodox narrative is made of.
Apr 12, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on April 12, 2019 by Yves Smith Yves here. Karl Marx and Friedrich Englels, who documented the abuses of the early Industrial Revolution, are well remembered today, not just as activists but also as journalists. Oddly, Thorstein Veblen, who identified many of the pathologies of the rich of the Gilded Age, is vastly less well known. Was it because the robber barons of his age had amassed so much wealth and power that they were better able to create a veneer of legitimacy than Victorian era factory owners?
This post picks up some Veblen themes that are particularly germane today, such as the notion that businessmen often operate as rentiers and predators.
By Ann Jones, who is at work on a book about social democracy in Scandinavia (and its absence in the United States) and is the author of several books, including most recently They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America's Wars -- the Untold Stor y , a Dispatch Books original. Originally published at TomDispatch
Distracted daily by the bloviating POTUS? Here, then, is a small suggestion. Focus your mind for a moment on one simple (yet deeply complex) truth: we are living in a Veblen Moment.
That's Thorstein Veblen, the greatest American thinker you probably never heard of (or forgot). His working life -- from 1890 to 1923 -- coincided with America's first Gilded Age, so named by Mark Twain, whose novel of that title lampooned the greedy corruption of the country's most illustrious gentlemen. Veblen had a similarly dark, sardonic sense of humor.
Now, in America's second (bigger and better) Gilded Age, in a world of staggering inequality , believe me, it helps to read him again.
In his student days at Johns Hopkins, Yale, and finally Cornell, already a master of many languages, he studied anthropology, sociology, philosophy, and political economy (the old fashioned term for what's now called economics). That was back when economists were concerned with the real-life conditions of human beings, and wouldn't have settled for data from an illusory "free market."
Veblen got his initial job, teaching political economy at a salary of $520 a year, in 1890 when the University of Chicago first opened its doors. Back in the days before SATs and admissions scandals , that school was founded and funded by John D. Rockefeller, the classic robber baron of Standard Oil. (Think of him as the Mark Zuckerberg of his day.) Even half a century before the free-market economist Milton Friedman captured Chicago's economics department with dogma that serves the ruling class, Rockefeller called the university "the best investment" he ever made. Still, from the beginning, Thorstein Veblen was there, prepared to focus his mind on Rockefeller and his cronies, the cream of the upper class and the most ruthless profiteers behind that Gilded Age.
He was already asking questions that deserve to be raised again in the 1% world of 2019. How had such a conspicuous lordly class developed in America? What purpose did it serve? What did the members of the leisure class actually do with their time and money? And why did so many of the ruthlessly over-worked, under-paid lower classes tolerate such a peculiar, lopsided social arrangement in which they were so clearly the losers?
Veblen addressed those questions in his first and still best-known book, The Theory of the Leisure Class , published in 1899. The influential literary critic and novelist William Dean Howells, the "dean of American letters," perfectly captured the effect of Veblen's gleeful, poker-faced scientific style in an awestruck review. "In the passionless calm with which the author pursues his investigation," Howells wrote, "there is apparently no animus for or against a leisure class. It is his affair simply to find out how and why and what it is. If the result is to leave the reader with a feeling which the author never shows, that seems to be solely the effect of the facts."
The book made a big splash. It left smug, witless readers of the leisure class amused. But readers already in revolt, in what came to be known as the Progressive Era, came away with contempt for the filthy rich (a feeling that today, with a smug, witless plutocrat in the White House, should be a lot more common than it is).
What Veblen Saw
The now commonplace phrase "leisure class" was Veblen's invention and he was careful to define it: "The term 'leisure,' as here used, does not connote indolence or quiescence. What it connotes is non-productive consumption of time. Time is consumed non-productively (1) from a sense of the unworthiness of productive work, and (2) as an evidence of pecuniary ability to afford a life of idleness."
Veblen observed a world in which that leisure class, looking down its collective nose at the laboring masses, was all around him, but he saw evidence of something else as well. His anthropological studies revealed earlier cooperative, peaceable cultures that had supported no such idle class at all. In them, men and women had labored together, motivated by an instinctive pride in workmanship, a natural desire to emulate the best workers, and a deep parental concern -- a parental bent he called it -- for the welfare of future generations. As the child of Norwegian immigrants, Veblen himself had grown up on a Minnesota farm in the midst of a close-knit Norwegian-speaking community. He knew what just such a cooperative culture was like and what was possible, even in a gilded (and deeply impoverished) world.
But anthropology also recorded all too many class-ridden societies that saved upper-class men for the "honourable employments": governance, warfare, priestly office, or sports. Veblen noted that such arrangements elicited aggressive, dominant behavior that, over time, caused societies to change for the worse. Indeed, those aggressive upper-class men soon discovered the special pleasure that lay in taking whatever they wanted by "seizure," as Veblen termed it. Such an aggressive way of living and acting, in turn, became the definition of manly "prowess," admired even by the working class subjected by it. By contrast, actual work -- the laborious production of the goods needed by society -- was devalued. As Veblen put it, "The obtaining [of goods] by other methods than seizure comes to be accounted unworthy of man in his best estate." It seems that more than a century ago, the dominant men of the previous Gilded Age were, like our president, already spinning their own publicity.
A scientific Darwinian, Veblen saw that such changes developed gradually from alterations in the material circumstances of life. New technology, he understood, sped up industrialization, which in turn attracted those men of the leisure class, always on the lookout for the next thing of value to seize and make their own. When "industrial methods have been developed to such a degree of efficiency as to leave a margin worth fighting for," Veblen wrote, the watchful men struck like birds of prey.
Such constant "predation," he suggested, soon became the "habitual, conventional resource" of the parasitical class. In this way, a more peaceable, communal existence had evolved into the grim, combative industrial age in which he found himself: an age shadowed by predators seeking only profits and power, and putting down any workers who tried to stand up for themselves. To Veblen this change was not merely "mechanical." It was a spiritual transformation.
The Conspicuous Class
Classical economists from Adam Smith on typically depicted economic man as a rational creature, acting circumspectly in his own self-interest. In Veblen's work, however, the only men -- and they were all men then -- acting that way were those robber barons, admired for their "prowess" by the very working-class guys they preyed upon. (Think of President Trump and his besotted MAGA-hatted followers.) Veblen's lowly workers still seemed to be impelled by the "instinct for emulation." They didn't want to overthrow the leisure class. They wanted to climb up into it.
For their part, the leisured gents asserted their superiority by making a public show of their leisure or, as Veblen put it, their "conspicuous abstention from labour." To play golf, for example, as The Donald has spent much of his presidency doing, became at once "the conventional mark of superior pecuniary achievement" and "the conventional index of reputability." After all, he wrote, "the pervading principle and abiding test of good breeding is the requirement of a substantial and patent waste of time." In Donald Trump's version of the same, he displayed his penchant for "conspicuous consumption" by making himself the owner of a global chain of golf courses where he performs his "conspicuous leisure" by cheating up a storm and carrying what Veblen called a "conspicuous abstention from labour" to particularly enviable heights.
Veblen devoted 14 chapters of The Theory of the Leisure Class to analyzing every aspect of the life of the plutocrat living in a gilded world and the woman who accompanied him on his conspicuous outings, elaborately packaged in constricting clothing, crippling high heels, and "excessively long hair," to indicate just how unfit she was for work and how much she was "still the man's chattel." Such women, he wrote, were "servants to whom, in the differentiation of economic functions, has been delegated the office of putting in evidence their master's ability to pay." (Think POTUS again and whomever he once displayed with a certain possessive pride only to pay hush money to thereafter.)
And all of that's only from chapter seven, "Dress as an Expression of the Pecuniary Culture." Today, each of those now-century-old chapters remains a still-applicable little masterpiece of observation, insight, and audacity, though it was probably the 14th and last chapter that got him fired from Rockefeller's university: "The Higher Learning as an Expression of the Pecuniary Culture." How timely is that?
The (Re)tardiness of Conservatives
As both an evolutionary and an institutional economist (two fields he originated), Veblen contended that our habits of thought and our institutions must necessarily "change with changing circumstances." Unfortunately, they often seem anchored in place instead, bound by the social and psychological inertia of conservatism. But why should that be so?
Veblen had a simple answer. The leisure class is so sheltered from inevitable changes going on in the rest of society that it will adapt its views, if at all, "tardily." Comfortably clueless (or calculating), the wealthy leisure class drags its heels (or digs them in) to retard economic and social forces that make for change. Hence the name "conservatives." That (re)tardiness -- that time lag imposed by conservative complacency -- stalls and stifles the lives of everyone else and the timely economic development of the nation. (Think of our neglected infrastructure, education, housing, health care, public transport -- you know the lengthening list today.)
Accepting and adjusting to social or economic change, unfortunately, requires prolonged "mental effort," from which the leisured conservative mind quite automatically recoils. But so, too, Veblen said, do the minds of the "abjectly poor, and all those persons whose energies are entirely absorbed by the struggle for daily sustenance." The lower classes were -- and this seems a familiar reality in the age of Trump -- as conservative as the upper class simply because the poor "cannot afford the effort of taking thought for the day after tomorrow," while "the highly prosperous are conservative because they have small occasion to be discontented with the situation as it stands." It was, of course, a situation from which they, unlike the poor, made a bundle in an age (both Veblen's and ours) in which money flows only uphill to the 1%.
Veblen gave this analytic screw one more turn. Called a "savage" economist, in his meticulous and deceptively neutral prose, he described in the passage that follows a truly savage and deliberate process:
"It follows that the institution of a leisure class acts to make the lower classes conservative by withdrawing from them as much as it may of the means of sustenance and so reducing their consumption, and consequently their available energy, to such a point as to make them incapable of the effort required for the learning and adoption of new habits of thought. The accumulation of wealth at the upper end of the pecuniary scale implies privation at the lower end of the scale."
And privation always stands as an obstacle to innovation and change. In this way, the industrial, technological, and social progress of the whole society is retarded or perhaps even thrown into reverse. Such are the self-perpetuating effects of the unequal distribution of wealth. And reader take note: the leisure class brings about these results on purpose.
The Demolition of Democracy
But how, at the turn of the nineteenth century, had America's great experiment in democracy come to this? In his 1904 book The Theory of Business Enterprise , Veblen zoomed in for a close up of America's most influential man: "the Business Man." To classical economists, this enterprising fellow was a generator of economic progress. To Veblen, he was "the Predator" personified: the man who invests in industry, any industry, simply to extract profits from it. Veblen saw that such predators created nothing, produced nothing, and did nothing of economic significance but seize profits.
Of course, Veblen, who could build a house with his own hands, imagined a working world free of such predators. He envisioned an innovative industrial world in which the labor of producing goods would be performed by machines tended by technicians and engineers. In the advanced factories of his mind's eye, there was no role, no place at all, for the predatory Business Man. Yet Veblen also knew that the natural-born predator of Gilded Age America was already creating a kind of scaffolding of financial transactions above and beyond the factory floor -- a lattice of loans, credits, capitalizations, and the like -- so that he could then take advantage of the "disruptions" of production caused by such encumbrances to seize yet more profits. In a pinch, the predator was, as Veblen saw it, always ready to go further, to throw a wrench into the works, to move into the role of outright "Saboteur."
Here Veblen's image of the predatory characters who dominated his Gilded Age runs up against the far glossier, more gilded image of the entrepreneurial executive hailed by most economists and business boosters of his time and ours. Yet in book after book, he continued to strip the gilded cloaks from America's tycoons, leaving them naked on the factory floor, with one hand jamming the machinery of American life and the other in the till.
Today, in our Second Even-Glitzier Gilded Age, with a Veblen Moment come round again, his conclusions seem self-evident. In fact, his predators pale beside a single image that he himself might have found incredible, the image of three hallowed multi-billionaires of our own Veblen Moment who hold more wealth than the bottom 160 million Americans.
The Rise of the Predatory State
Why, then, when Veblen saw America's plutocratic bent so clearly, is he now neglected? Better to ask, who among America's moguls wouldn't want to suppress such a clear-eyed genius? Economist James K. Galbraith suggests that Veblen was eclipsed by the Cold War, which offered only two alternatives, communism or capitalism -- with America's largely unfettered capitalist system presenting itself as a "conservative" norm and not what it actually was and remains: the extreme and cruel antithesis of communism.
When the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, it left only one alternative: the triumphant fantasy of the "free market." What survived, in other words, was only the post-Veblen economics of John D. Rockefeller's university: the "free market" doctrines of Milton Friedman, founder of the brand of economics popular among conservatives and businessmen and known as the Chicago School.
Ever since, America has once again been gripped by the heavy hands of the predators and of the legislators they buy . Veblen's leisure class is now eclipsed by those even richer than rich, the top 1% of the 1%, a celestial crew even more remote from the productive labor of working men and women than were those nineteenth-century robber barons. For decades now, from the ascendancy of President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s to Bill Clinton's New Democrats in the 1990s to the militarized world of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to the self-proclaimed billionaire con man now in the Oval Office, the plutocrats have continued to shower their dark money on the legislative process. Their only frustration: that the left-over reforms of Veblen's own "Progressive Era" and those of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal still somehow stand (though for how long no one knows).
As Galbraith pointed out in his 2008 book The Predator State , the frustrated predators of the twenty-first century sneakily changed tactics: they aimed to capture the government themselves, to become the state. And so they have. In the Trump era, they have created a government in which current regulators are former lobbyists for the very predators they are supposed to restrain. Similarly, the members of Trump's cabinet are now the saboteurs: shrinking the State Department, starving public schools, feeding big Pharma with Medicare funds, handing over national parks and public lands to "developers," and denying science and climate change altogether, just to start down a long list. Meanwhile, our Predator President, when not golfing , leaps about the deconstruction site, waving his hands and hurling abuse, a baron of distraction, commanding attention while the backroom boys (and girls) demolish the institutions of law and democracy.
Later in life, Veblen, the evolutionary who believed that no one could foresee the future, nonetheless felt sure that the American capitalist system, as it was, could not last. He thought it would eventually fall apart. He went on teaching at Stanford, the University of Missouri, and then the New School for Social Research, and writing a raft of brilliant articles and eight more books. Among them, The Vested Interests and the Common Man (1920) may be the best summation of his once astonishing and now essential views. He died at the age of 72 in August 1929. Two months later, the financial scaffolding collapsed and the whole predatory system came crashing down.
To the end, Veblen had hoped that one day the Predators would be driven from the marketplace and the workers would find their way to socialism. Yet a century ago, it seemed to him more likely that the Predators and Saboteurs, collaborating as they did even then with politicians and government lackeys, would increasingly amass more profits, more power, more adulation from the men of the working class, until one day, when those very plutocrats actually captured the government and owned the state, a Gilded Business Man would arise to become a kind of primitive Warlord and Dictator. He would then preside over a new and more powerful regime and the triumph in America of a system we would eventually recognize and call by its modern name: fascism.
St Jacques , April 12, 2019 at 1:46 am
Thankyou for bringing up one of my all time favourite authors. Why is he neglected? Because he saw and wrote too clearly and he mocked the use of mathematical models, and the silly assumptions underlying them – oh so unscientifically unsound.
Anarcissie , April 12, 2019 at 12:35 pm
I think Veblen may be neglected because his observations do not comport well with what many others observe. For instance, in the quoted or paraphrased material in the article, he asserts that the upper classes are idly conservative. But if we have observed the development of cooperative agrarian societies into, first, instances of industrial capitalism, and later imperial-liberal or finance-capitalist warfare-welfare states, it is the capitalists who were the radical progressives, who shook things up, who 'moved fast and broke things', and the agrarian cooperators who were the conservatives or reactionaries. And Uncle Karl agrees with me, at least as of the Communist Manifesto : 'The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society .. All that is solid melts into air .' and so on.
Would that the rich were idle! But they are not. They labor ceaselessly to destroy the Earth, to turn it into nothing more than numbers written on a tablet. It is a mistake to underestimate and deride such people, even if their personalities are socially deficient.
Anthony Wikrent , April 12, 2019 at 1:05 pm
I think you need to look at the crucial distinction Veblen made between industry and business, which I find has much more analytical and prescriptive power than Marx.
Anarcissie , April 12, 2019 at 4:09 pm
I was thinking of the combination of business and industry, industry being the work of changing the material world to produce desired things, experiences, and circumstances, and business being the political organization of that work, which has evolved in various ways into contemporary capitalism. The large-scale practice of modern industry apparently requires a lot of political organization. In my observation and personal experience, business, so defined, is also hard work, since one is not dealing with inanimate things, but with human beings, who are often as unpredictable, crafty, greedy and treacherous as oneself. Hence not many actually want to or are able to do it. This poses an obvious problem for those who want to establish a more cooperative and egalitarian social order above the local or familial level, much less a sustainable economy. The rich are anything but idle, and they always want more.
WheresOurTeddy , April 12, 2019 at 1:30 pm
as a friend of mine likes to say, "America never had a ruling class disinterested in ruling or an intelligentsia that was truly intelligent."
Thomas P , April 12, 2019 at 3:07 am
The book is also available for free at project Gutenberg:
The leisure class hasn't been able to expand copyright to infinity yet.
johnf , April 12, 2019 at 3:42 am
They are trying. Project Gutenberg is presently blocking all German IP addresses after a publisher asserted copyright on 18 works from 1903–1920. I must content myself with reading H.L. Mencken's iconoclastic essay, "Professor Veblen".
diptherio , April 12, 2019 at 9:45 am
The Opera browser has a build-in VPN just sayin' ;-)
GramSci , April 12, 2019 at 9:58 am
Ah, yes! H.L. Mencken, social darwinist and proto-nazi, as was Veblen's first professor at Yale, William Graham Sumner, Phi Beta Kappa and Bonesman, who brought the teachings of Herbert Spencer to Yale and America as the new Science of "Sociology". Of course we no longer call such sociology "social darwinism" or "nazism". "Meritocracy" is a more polite term. Veblen would still call it "predatory".
James , April 12, 2019 at 7:20 am
Amazing post! As clear and succinct political manifesto and call to arms as any I've read. Looks like I've got some more essential reading to do now.
Eclair , April 12, 2019 at 7:58 am
Wow! I am reading this while sitting in the cafeteria of UPMC Presbyterian Hospital (where my husband's cousin, the farmer of whom I have written here before, hovers between life and death.) Pittsburgh, home of the planet's largest gothic phallus, the gargoyled tower at Carnegie Mellon U. Even the First Baptist Church is a mini-Notre Dame.
Walking the mile up to the hospital this morning, along the row of gracious mansions, now a designated Historic District, built from the blood and sweat of the Polish and Czech and Italian coal miners and steel workers, I wondered if their tenements had been declared an Historic District.
DJG , April 12, 2019 at 9:14 am
Eclair: All the best to you. Your posts here have evoked him so well–a life of hard work and care for the land.
Eclair , April 12, 2019 at 11:29 am
DJG, I wrote a think you post to you, with additional comments but it either got lost or delayed or my fat fingers consigned it to Oblivion. Typing on my phone is dangerous.
Trent , April 12, 2019 at 10:07 am
Upmc, the future of predatory healthcare. My great grandfather raised his family of eight Italians in one of those row houses in Oakland. Now it's probably rented out by a slumlord to college kids racking up debt.
Trent , April 12, 2019 at 10:54 am
Also the cathedral of learning is university of Pittsburgh
Alfred , April 12, 2019 at 11:16 am
Yes. Pittsburgh was once the real 'metropolis of tomorrow', and the Cathedral of Learning was the ultimate proof both of the city's arrival in the future and of just how conservative that future was going to look. One of the key American buildings of its time, it's a tenth 'malic mould' embodying not only the so-called 'skyward trend of thought' by which the predatory businessmen of the 1920s imagined themselves transported to 'impossible heights' but also -- inside -- a showcase of international culture that foreshadowed today's globalization. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathedral_of_Learning
a different chris , April 12, 2019 at 2:32 pm
My dad, and I assume most of the other Pitt graduates of at least that era, called it "The Tower Of Ignorance".
We aren't all suckers, even if we sit at desks and wear ties.
Eclair , April 12, 2019 at 11:17 am
Oops, you are correct, Trent! I don't know why I associated it with C-M. And it really is almost more beaux arts than gothic. But it is still an example of 'mine is much much bigger than yours.'
Trent , April 12, 2019 at 11:24 am
No worries, I'm a throwback that takes a bit of pride in the area my family has resided the past few hundred years. If you get bored you should read about the Mellon's. Very big players in the gilded age.
Eclair , April 12, 2019 at 11:24 am
So, not a designated 'Historic District,' I will bet. My grandparents raised their kids in brick mill housing, still standing. But not 'Historic.'. Just haunted by the ghosts of the still-born babies and tubercular adolescents.
Trent , April 12, 2019 at 11:28 am
It's only historic until someone can make a profit from it!
Mike , April 12, 2019 at 11:54 am
My condolences upon your presence in the Pittsburgh of capitalism and scalping. If you wish to see the contradictory nature of "historicism", Pittsburgh is THE place to follow.
Case in point: In the close-by tiny mill town of Millvale (aptly named, no?) sits the St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church, where once a Croatian artist named Maxo Vanka was allowed to paint beautiful murals upon its walls and ceilings, all of which commemorated and encapsulated the horrific struggles of mine and mill workers of the region. They are akin to, and in some ways exceed, the murals of Diego Rivera – passionately and class-reverently done.
The contradiction? Besides the religious basis for this socialist art, the current foundation trying to preserve and defend these paintings is begging for corporate donations and having $1000+ benefits (wine, cheese, hubris) so some retouching and repainting can occur under an umbrella of the threat to the art and the church posed by those selfsame corporations who would love to topple the structure and put up office space. Oh, to be able to say "Sic semper tyrannus "
Eclair , April 12, 2019 at 1:37 pm
So, Mike, I should make a pilgrimage to visit this church soon, before it is scraped, yeah?
Mike , April 12, 2019 at 4:01 pm
Fear not – the church still stands, and the professional class are scurrying about, waxing poetic and oozing dollars, so it will be there for you for at least as long as the fund-raisers do their work.
I would go soon, though, just to see how years of neglect can harm mural art, because the difference between the undone and finished restoration is something to note.
P.S.- easier to drive there if you have wheels. Public transport suffers by scarcity and slowness.
Mike , April 12, 2019 at 4:07 pm
P.P.S. – my best wishes to your cousin, as well.
Arizona Slim , April 12, 2019 at 1:58 pm
Sotte voce: When I lived in Pittsburgh, the planet's largest gothic phallus was called the Catheter of Learning. (It's real name is the Cathedral of Learning.)
You're soaking in it! , April 12, 2019 at 4:05 pm
Ok, but geez. Shouldn't there be a meet-up in here somewhere?
Norb , April 12, 2019 at 8:08 am
If the human condition is viewed as an endless spiritual crisis seeking out resolution, then everyones collective efforts begin to make more sense. Spiritual connections must be made in order to survive and this choice sets into motion a chain of events that approximate the future. Everyone must choose what life they want to live. They must choose what spirit they will follow. A passive choice supports the status quo/conservatives, while an active choice drives change in society.
How the current spiritual crisis is handled will determine our collective future. It is no coincidence that true, honest spirituality has also been corrupted by the predator class. Spiritual subversion is the essence of TINA. Education and spiritual growth are the foundations upon which a free and productive society rest- without that, as the author notes, society evolves into fascism. Fascism becomes the spirituality of the predator class. Fascism is freedom disguised.
If this is true, then it becomes imperative for all freedom loving people to do everything in their power to subvert such exploitation and purposeful suffering. The spirit must be without freedom for all there is, in reality, freedom for none. Society must be based on reducing suffering, not creating or perpetuating it.
At root, that is what civil disobedience is all about. Civil disobedience takes on many forms, including actively building parallel social structures to negate the damaging social conditions brought about by a predator class. The saboteurs are themselves subject to sabotage. This inevitable dynamic explains why foreigners and domestic dissenters are treated as enemies and terrorists by the ruling elite. Foreign and domestic enemies must be eliminated. When this dynamic becomes an issue, it proves all by itself that the ruling elite no longer hold their citizens to any regard, regardless of the propaganda they employ to prove otherwise. The society becomes more polarized and violent.
The follow up to this essay is to explore the people and communities that took Veblen insights to heart and acted accordingly. That would provide examples upon which to build and restore.
diptherio , April 12, 2019 at 10:03 am
Society must be based on reducing suffering, not creating or perpetuating it.
and yet, in the present arrangement of things, most of us can't even get around in the place where we live without someone, somewhere, drilling oil, and transporting it, and refining it, and transporting it some more using this computer required someone, somewhere to mine metal ore, and refine and process and transport it
The great tragedy of our situation is that we often choose to do things we know to be harmful in order to protect and provide for those we love. "I'd give up my car, but I need it for my job. I'd quit the job, but I've got kids to think about and plus, what happens if my kid gets hurt and needs to get to the hospital fast? So I can't give up the car, even though I know it's contributing to larger scale problems that will effect everyone negatively, and already effect some people extremely negatively."
Sound of the Suburbs , April 12, 2019 at 8:39 am
You feel you are doing well when you are doing better than your peers.
I've only got a Boeing 747, and he's got an Airbus A380.
His one is bigger than mine.
Sound of the Suburbs , April 12, 2019 at 8:45 am
The biggest threat to progress in the forwards direction is those that like progress in the reverse direction.
The Magna Carta was the first step in moving forwards from when wealth and power were concentrated with one person, the Absolute Monarch.
Progress is always a battle between those below and those at the top, who want to keep wealth and power as concentrated as it is now, or to move backwards to when it was more concentrated.
Royalty spent centuries trying to regain the power they lost with the Magna Carta and get back to where they were before.
It is a constant battle and many nations slide back to the beginning with dictators, where wealth and power are concentrated with one person, and where that wealth and power is inherited.
To progress from the Magna Carta to universal suffrage took 700 years. Within another 50 years those at the top looked to move backwards to when they had more wealth and power.
They sought to regain the economic freedom they used to have and roll back the welfare state.
They set the wheels in motion.
In 1947, Albert Hunold, a senior Credit Suisse official looked for a group of right wing thinkers to form the Mont Pelerin Society and neoliberalism started to take shape.
"Why Nations Fail" is a good book on this subject.
DSB , April 12, 2019 at 8:55 am
"In the passionless calm with which the author pursues his investigation," Howells wrote, "there is apparently no animus for or against a leisure class. It is his affair simply to find out how and why and what it is. If the result is to leave the reader with a feeling which the author never shows, that seems to be solely the effect of the facts."
If only this author had such a deft hand as Veblen. Aspiration.
Sound of the Suburbs , April 12, 2019 at 8:56 am
The University of Chicago forgot what they used to know.
Henry Simons was at the University of Chicago as he was a firm believer in free markets, but he had learned the lessons of the 1920s and 1930s.
"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." Irving Fisher 1929.
Irving Fisher was a neoclassical economist that believed in free markets and he knew this was a stable equilibrium.
He became a laughing stock and worked out where he had gone wrong.
What goes wrong with free markets?
Henry Simons and Irving Fisher supported the Chicago Plan to take away the bankers ability to create money, so that free market valuations could have some meaning.
The real world and free market, neoclassical economics would then tie up.
1929 – Inflating the US stock market with debt (margin lending)
2008 – Inflating the US real estate market with debt (mortgage lending)
Bankers inflating asset prices with the money they create from loans.
Sound of the Suburbs , April 12, 2019 at 9:08 am
Real science is evolutionary and new knowledge builds on past knowledge in a way that is self-correcting and improves over time. The old knowledge remains and anything that is wrong gets changed.
Thorstein Veblen recognised economics wasn't like that and this is why they keep forgetting stuff.
We had a new, scientific economics for globalisation.
JBird4049 , April 12, 2019 at 3:54 pm
This explains why Milton Friedman is better known than Thorstein Veblen
I would not necessarily call something scientific even if it builds on previous knowledge. The key is the real effort at studying and understanding a subject.
"Economics," especially its propagandistic version Neoliberalism, is not at all scientific or even an attempt to study something. It is an effort to make opaque, not an attempt to clarify.
Political economy, like philosophy, metaphysics, psychology and sociology are themselves not "hard"science, but they were created, built upon, and maintain as usually honest attempts at understanding; Neoliberal Economics is as to Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations in Political Economy as Social Darwinism is to Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species is in evolutionary biology.
Sound of the Suburbs , April 13, 2019 at 4:58 pm
Take 1920s neoclassical economics and stick some more complex maths on top.
A new, scientific economics.
ewmayer , April 12, 2019 at 7:07 pm
There is an underappreciated consumer-credit-boom-and-bust aspect to the Great Crash / Great Depression era – people often point out the contradictions in blaming margin lending for eveything, IMO it is the consumer-credit aspect that helps fill in the rest. Briefly, the 1920s saw the first great boom in consumer credit, as wage-suppressed workers saw the fabulous boom in wealth of the rentier and stock-speculator class and were misled to go into hock by the overall optimism thus engendered. The boom in installment-plan buying was the 1920s analog of the the late great mortgage-finance bubble. Here is a link, much more out there for those willig to look for it:
DJG , April 12, 2019 at 9:13 am
An interesting question:
Why, then, when Veblen saw America's plutocratic bent so clearly, is he now neglected? Better to ask, who among America's moguls wouldn't want to suppress such a clear-eyed genius? Economist James K. Galbraith suggests that Veblen was eclipsed by the Cold War, which offered only two alternatives, communism or capitalism -- with America's largely unfettered capitalist system presenting itself as a "conservative" norm and not what it actually was and remains: the extreme and cruel antithesis of communism.
I have a feeling that the rejection was going on earlier. I am reminded that Sinclair Lewis's career started with his first important novel in 1914–fifteen years after Theory of the Leisure Class, yet still before the shattering effects of World War I. Yet Sinclair Lewis has also been in decline, and his stories are the novelist's way of dealing with Veblen's ideas–especially the novel Dodsworth.
I have a feeling that something deeper in the culture pushes aside the observations that Americans are avaricious, conformist, and not particularly happy. It is so much chirpier to repeat Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. And it may be that the fear of falling in U.S. culture–dropping economically with the possible implication of turning black racially–means that the unproductivity of the upper classes is what Americans are fixated on and aspire to.
nycTerrierist , April 12, 2019 at 10:49 am
Very good to mention Sinclair Lewis here.
Highly recommended literary counterpart to Veblen, though Veblen was no slouch
as a stylist, among his many strengths.
Not only Dodsworth, but I would say all of Lewis' oeuvre exposes the predation, corruption
and injustice of various good ole 'murkan institutions: Elmer Gantry (venal ministers), Arrowsmith (careerism in medicine), Main Street (oppressive 'normality'), Gideon Parrish (the 'uplift' racket), Ann Vickers (womens prisons), The Job (women in the workplace) etc etc.
Lewis is hilarious and a truly prescient progressive.
Carolinian , April 12, 2019 at 11:13 am
Sinclair Lewis probably faded because the self satisfied American world he described took a nose dive in the great depression and satire became both superfluous and universal (any 1930s Hollywood depiction of the rich–i.e. A Night at the Opera).
In any case thanks for the good article above. It does lay on the Trump hate a little thick given that our Veblen moment has been going on at least since Reagan.
BlueMoose , April 12, 2019 at 11:42 am
Yes the trump hate was a bit thick.
Tony Wright , April 12, 2019 at 7:20 pm
Not really. Trump is the current and shameless torchbearer, even though he hypocritically purports to be the saviour of the "deplorables" callously abandoned by Hilary & Co.
nycTerrierist , April 12, 2019 at 11:32 am
Lewis was a gleeful unmasker of hypocrisy.
Makes some people uncomfortable!
jfleni , April 12, 2019 at 9:19 am
RE: Should we break up big tech?
Absolutely, start with ooindoze; years ago a Finn Linus Torwald
wrote a FREE replacement for Unix, cutting ATT off at the Internet; all he got for his trouble was the runaway monopoly of ooindoze. Now ooindoze is worth billions (ten plus at last count) .
The difference is BS and propaganda and the sleaziest possible merchandizing, YAHOO
diptherio , April 12, 2019 at 9:34 am
The irony of linking to a Veblen book on Amazon is well, it's a thing ironic anyway it's still early, you get what I'm saying. Here's a free version, as Thorstein would have wanted it:
human , April 12, 2019 at 10:41 am
Or a discount version from a small, out-of-copyright, publisher: https://doverpublications.ecomm-search.com/m?formSubmitted=true&keywords=Veblen&x=22&y=24
Gary , April 12, 2019 at 2:58 pm
Thanks, Diptherio, but, and I don't know why so many people forget about this, you could just go to your nearest public library. They'd be delighted to find it for you
diptherio , April 12, 2019 at 9:38 am
I think NC should adopt a quote from Theory of Business Enterprise as it's official (or unofficial) motto:
A definition by enumeration will often sound like a fault-finding.
That's from memory, so maybe not exactly verbatim, but close. Sounds like a pretty good description of every day on NC!
johnf , April 12, 2019 at 9:40 am
Thanks for the tip. In 1919, Mencken worked through all of Veblen's published works. Following his recommendation, I found copies of the two Mencken thought most essential: "What I found myself aware of, coming to the end, was that practically the whole system of Prof. Veblen was in his first book and his last [as of 1919] – that is, in "The Theory of the Leisure Class" and "The Higher Learning in America". I pass on the news to literary archeologists. Read these two, and you won't have to read the others. And if even two daunt you, then read the first. Once through it, though you will have have missed many a pearl and many a pain, you will have an excellent grasp of the gifted metaphysician's ideas." [Prejudices, First Series (1919), pp. 59-83]
GramSci , April 12, 2019 at 10:12 am
Umm, as I noted above, Mencken was hardly a fan of Veblen. See e.g. this link , vectored through a fan of Mencken, Tyler Cowen . . .
johnf , April 12, 2019 at 2:04 pm
My very modest knowledge of Veblen is through secondary sources, one of which is Mencken, who I never thought was a Veblen adulator. It is probably now a duty to read some of the primary sources.
ChrisAtRU , April 12, 2019 at 10:03 am
What a wonderful article with which to start my day!
Today's #MustRead IMO
chuck roast , April 12, 2019 at 10:11 am
Back in the day I bought one of those little Penguin Classics of Theory out of the university bookstore for a buck. The fact that it was still in print was sufficient testimony that curiosity continued to exist about the long dead discipline of Political Economics. I read a portion of it, but never came close to finishing it. That always bothered me. What happened to the little Penguin over the years I cannot say.
Anyway, a couple of years ago I had the public library exhume a copy for me out of their warehouse. Immediately upon reading it I recalled with great disappointment why I never finish the Penguin the prose style was both turgid and tortured. So, I guess you could say that I have always been pleased to read about Veblen and depressed with the actual reading.
My recommendation would be that a good translator translate Theory of the Leisure Class into say French or Italian and then another translator translate it back into English. Doubtless much of the drole and tongue planted firmly in cheek would be lost in the translation, but perhaps a much more readable book would ensue.
GramSci , April 12, 2019 at 10:16 am
Once one understands how censored publications were in that day ( plus ça change . . .) and one discovers the sarcasm veiled behind all that "turgid prose", The Theory of the Leisure Class becomes a joy to read.
ChiGal in Carolina , April 14, 2019 at 12:13 am
We read it in high school and I remember it being very witty, and hence enjoyable.
RenoRich , April 12, 2019 at 10:17 am
Am I a member of the leisure class if I like to read articles & comments on this site?
I have downloaded and started reading "The Theory of the Leisure Class". Perhaps I can answer my own question after reading several chapters
Phil in KC , April 12, 2019 at 10:26 am
My thanks as well for this post, which (ahem, everyone) deserves a wider audience. Sadly, my own college edjumacation glided over Veblen. This was in the early 70's, when Friedman and Co. Economists, Inc. were taking over economics. Suddenly, he's relevant again!
Now, we just need a Teddy Roosevelt progressive to initiate some reforms and a Franklin Roosevelt to make the right kind of enemies.
Mike , April 12, 2019 at 11:02 am
The Theory of the Leisure Class was my introduction to economics, reading it right after the Kennedy assassination, thus turning me from a right-wing parrot into a critical and still learning skeptic of all cheerleading about "our" government, "our" city on the hill. My father, a union founder and organizer as well as a solid drinker, would often go off on me about my "nazi" ideas before this turn, then wondered at the abrupt wheel. Ahhhh, once an outlier, always
The sad part is I (we?) are more "outliers" than ever before, thanks to the freedom exercised by many of our co-citizens to conform and obey to any media/government/corporate message with knee-jerk speed. Expected of the professional caste and their sponsors within the banking and corporate elite, it is sad to see its reach into levels of the working class, where it displays its total dysfunction.
nycTerrierist , April 12, 2019 at 11:04 am
Small quibble with this outstanding post.
In her quick gloss of our Predator-Enablers in Chief, from Reagan to Trump,
Teflon Obama gets a pass he does not deserve:
"For decades now, from the ascendancy of President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s to Bill Clinton's New Democrats in the 1990s to the militarized world of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to the self-proclaimed billionaire con man now in the Oval Office, the plutocrats have continued to shower their dark money on the legislative process. Their only frustration: that the left-over reforms of Veblen's own "Progressive Era" and those of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal still somehow stand (though for how long no one knows) ..
Similarly, the members of Trump's cabinet are now the saboteurs: shrinking the State Department, starving public schools, feeding big Pharma with Medicare funds, handing over national parks and public lands to "developers," and denying science and climate change altogether, just to start down a long list. Meanwhile, our Predator President, when not golfing, leaps about the deconstruction site, waving his hands and hurling abuse, a baron of distraction, commanding attention while the backroom boys (and girls) demolish the institutions of law and democracy."
NotTimothyGeithner , April 12, 2019 at 12:13 pm
I think Obama's legacy is dismantling more lefty organizing venues and directing energy towards wasteful infighting as people who conned themselves into liking him hold onto bizarre beliefs to justify Obama's third and fourth Shrub terms such as how Obama "inherited" problems despite choosing to run for President. Ben Bernanke, Bob Gates, Larry Summers and Tim Geithner (or insert whatever monster you wish) were just the associates of the previous administrations at various levels. Though Obama may not have been from the "leisure class" but the higher level staff, he approached the Presidency as a luxury pursuit. Yes, Michelle opted for lesser known designers, but the people who mattered cut their teeth in the previous four administrations. Outsiders were not brought in. Liz Warren jumps out as an exception, and even now her Presidential run, she is almost completely separate from Obama despite her time in the administration creating her star.
Coolidge restored public confidence in the White House after the scandals of his predecessor's administration, and left office with considerable popularity. As a Coolidge biographer wrote: "He embodied the spirit and hopes of the middle class, could interpret their longings and express their opinions. That he did represent the genius of the average is the most convincing proof of his strength".
Scholars have ranked Coolidge in the lower half of those presidents that they have assessed. He is praised by advocates of smaller government and laissez-faire economics, while supporters of an active central government generally view him less favorably, though most praise his stalwart support of racial equality. This is from the wiki on Calvin Coolidge. Does it sound like someone?
Except for Silent Cal stories and being an advocate of "white collies" (puppies that were often drowned because it was believed they were blind), he was a continuation of more of the same and has largely disappeared from the discourse outside of memorizing the Presidents. He was President until March 1929, and Hoover gets a lot of flak. The economic crisis came from somewhere.
Trump is particularly predatory and being current merits mention as the old leisure class not merely taking control of the government but turning it into their leisure pursuit. Obama much like his "soaring rhetoric" is almost entirely forgettable.
CarlH , April 12, 2019 at 2:13 pm
Thank you for mentioning this. The omission of Obama from that list jumped out at me as well. When I think of a "Banker's President" Obama is the first to come to mind.
Susan the other` , April 12, 2019 at 1:01 pm
Thank you for an introduction to Ann Jones. She is a beautiful writer and her subject is wonderful. No argument there. I enjoyed her jabs at Trump too. But in his behalf I'd just like to say it was refreshing to see him crash the gates for the sole reason that he shook up our very complacent Congress and they almost seem awake now. Trump is not an ideologue. He's a self promoter. So we can't expect him to have a vision. That's the big problem with him. He's got no compass. It isn't that he impulsively and inanely talks about things like "beautiful wonderful new health care" and other crap – it's that he doesn't have a clue about how to achieve anything. Except cooking books and money shuffling. And Jones' example of his cheating at golf – urban legend already – is his character in a nutshell. But that said, I blame malicious obstructionists like Pelosi and the very dreadful Mitch for preventing the progress we are dying for. Congress is MIA. Why do we even bother to elect it?
flora , April 12, 2019 at 2:25 pm
Great post. Thanks so much.
mauisurfer , April 12, 2019 at 2:42 pm
So, was Einstein a member of the "leisure class"?
At Princeton, he would take his little sailboat out on the lake when there was so little wind
that no other boats were out there with him.
He would get his boat just barely moving slowly steadily calmly.
And that is where he thought his deepest thoughts.
Personally, my deepest thoughts come in a leisurely hot bath.
Aloha , April 12, 2019 at 4:32 pm
A most enjoyable essay and it brings me full circle with what I have been researching this past week. The Counsel on Foreign Relations and what their many spinoff non profit organizations claim to do, and their membership list. Membership is by invitation only and there is enough history now to see who has been running the country since its inception in 1919. I could write a book on all of the corruption of each member on a global scale. Just pull up any 3 or 4 of the current members (no need to research all of the U.S. presidents, and yes they are all members, because we already know what they have done) and you will see how corrupt they all are. The members at the top are all white, male, .01%'s with international power. It seems really obvious to me that we lost the last of our rights on 9/11 and that we are now living in a communist country actually being run fairly quietly for now by the Chinese government. We have been taught to hate and kill anyone considered to be communist (Russia is in MSM all of the time) but where is the hatred for China in the media? Why has China been permitted to but up so much real estate here? I could to on and on but the bottom line is that I think that the international leaders of the world are all communists and that is why we have no democracy left. Before you disagree and call me crazy please do your research! That is all I ask.
berit , April 13, 2019 at 7:05 am
Thank you Excellent, comments included!! My copy of Thorstein Veblens Theory of the Leisure Class was lost somewhere along the way. I dutifully, as a fellow Norwegian, read it 50 years ago, working in New York, trying to like and acclimatize to an American way of life. This I saw first hand at the top, as part of staff of one of the richest, most famous banking families, then from the opposite level, clerk at Bell Telephone System in lower Manhattan. I've downloaded a free copy of Veblen, thanks, and shall reread it, as Norway seems to be on a trajectory not unlike the US, seemingly seeking the seat left open after UK's Tony Blair as US poodle one. NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg the successor, I think – most regretfully.
Phil King , April 13, 2019 at 7:32 pm
No comment needed:
"It is also a matter of common notoriety and byword that in offenses which result in a large accession of property to the offender he does not ordinarily incur the extreme penalty or the extreme obloquy with which his offenses would be visited on the ground of the naive moral code alone. The thief or swindler who has gained great wealth by his delinquency has a better chance than the small thief of escaping the rigorous penalty of the law and some good repute accrues to him from his increased wealth and from his spending the irregularly acquired possessions in a seemly manner. A well-bred expenditure of his booty especially appeals with great effect to persons of a cultivated sense of the proprieties, and goes far to mitigate the sense of moral turpitude with which his dereliction is viewed by them. It may be noted also -- and it is more immediately to the point -- that we are all inclined to condone an offense against property in the case of a man whose motive is the worthy one of providing the means of a "decent" manner of life for his wife and children. If it is added that the wife has been "nurtured in the lap of luxury," that is accepted as an additional extenuating circumstance. "
Apr 13, 2019 | www.unz.com
Daniel Rich , says: April 13, 2019 at 10:38 pm GMT@annamaria
Once one realizes 'justice' [under neoliberalism] is a monetized commodity, lawlessness becomes a viable [and justifiable] option.
Apr 02, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Jackrabbit , Apr 1, 2019 1:27:52 PM | link
Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average CitizensWhen the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.
Mar 22, 2017 | failedevolution.blogspot.gr
Donald Trump is about to break the record of withdrawing his promises faster than any other US president in history. It's not only the fact that his administration has been literally taken over by Goldman Sachs, the top vampire-bank of the Wall Street mafia.
Recently, Trump announced another big alliance with the vulture billionaire, Paul Singer, who, initially, was supposedly against him. It looks like the Trump big show continues.
The 'anti-establishment Trump' joke has already collapsed and the US middle class is about be eliminated by the syndicate of the united billionaires under Trump administration.
As Greg Palast told to Thom Hartmann:
Paul Singer whose nickname is "the vulture", he didn't get that nickname because he is a sweet an honest businessman. This is the guy who closed the Delphi auto plants in Ohio and sent them to China and also to Monterrey-Mexico. Donald Trump as a candidate, excoriated the billionaires who sent Delphi auto parts company down to Mexico.
Paul Singer has two concerns: one of them is that we eliminate the banking regulations known as Dodd–Frank. He is called 'the vulture' cause he eats companies that died. He has invested heavily in banks that died. He makes his billions from government bail-outs, he has never made a product in his life, it's all money and billions made from your money, out of the US treasury.
He is against what Obama created, which is a system under Dodd–Frank, called 'living wills', where if a bank starts going bankrupt, they don't call the US treasury for bail-out. These banks go out of business and they are broken up so we don't have to pay for the bail-out. Singer wants to restore the system of bailouts because that's where he makes his money.
The Mercers are the real big money behind Donald Trump. When Trump was in trouble in the general election he was out of money and he was out of ideas and he was losing. It was the Mercers, Robert, who is the principal at the Renaissance Technologies, basically investment banking sharks, that's all they are. They are market gamblers and banking sharks, and that's how he made his billions, he hasn't created a single job as Donald Trump himself like to mention.
Both the vulture and the Mercers, they don't pay the same taxes as the rest. They don't pay regular income taxes. They have a special billionaires loophole called 'carried interest'.
They were two candidates who said that they would close that loophole: one was Bernie Sanders and the other, believe it or not, was Donald Trump, it was part of his populist movie, he said ' These Wall Street sharks, they don't build anything, they don't create a single job, when they lose we pay, when they win, they get a tax-break called carried interest. I will close that loophole. ' Has he said a word about that loophole? It passed away.
Take a taste of Paul Singer from Wikipedia :
His political activities include funding the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and he has written against raising taxes for the 1% and aspects of the Dodd-Frank Act. Singer is active in Republican Party politics and collectively, Singer and others affiliated with Elliott Management are "the top source of contributions" to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
A number of sources have branded him a "vulture capitalist", largely on account of his role at EMC, which has been called a vulture fund. Elliott was termed by The Independent as "a pioneer in the business of buying up sovereign bonds on the cheap, and then going after countries for unpaid debts", and in 1996, Singer began using the strategy of purchasing sovereign debt from nations in or near default-such as Argentina, ]- through his NML Capital Limited and Congo-Brazzaville through Kensington International Inc. Singer's business model of purchasing distressed debt from companies and sovereign states and pursuing full payment through the courts has led to criticism, while Singer and EMC defend their model as "a fight against charlatans who refuse to play by the market's rules."
In 1996, Elliott bought defaulted Peruvian debt for $11.4 million. Elliott won a $58 million judgment when the ruling was overturned in 2000, and Peru had to repay the sum in full under the pari passu rule. When former president of Peru Alberto Fujimori was attempting to flee the country due to facing legal proceedings over human rights abuses and corruption, Singer ordered the confiscation of his jet and offered to let him leave the country in exchange for the $58 million payment from the treasury, an offer which Fujimori accepted. A subsequent 2002 investigation by the Government of Peru into the incident and subsequent congressional report, uncovered instances of corruption since Elliott was not legally authorized to purchase the Peruvian debt from Swiss Bank Corporation without the prior approval of the Peruvian government, and thus the purchase had occurred in breach of contract. At the same time, Elliott's representative, Jaime Pinto, had been formerly employed by the Peruvian Ministry of Economy and Finance and had contact with senior officials. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Peruvian government paid Elliott $56 million to settle the case.
After Argentina defaulted on its debt in 2002, the Elliott-owned company NML Capital Limited refused to accept the Argentine offer to pay less than 30 cents per dollar of debt. With a face value of $630 million, the bonds were reportedly bought by NML for $48 million, with Elliott assessing the bonds as worth $2.3 billion with accrued interest. Elliott sued Argentina for the debt's value, and the lower UK courts found that Argentina had state immunity. Elliott successfully appealed the case to the UK Supreme Court, which ruled that Elliott had the right to attempt to seize Argentine property in the United Kingdom. Alternatively, before 2011, US courts ruled against allowing creditors to seize Argentine state assets in the United States. On October 2, 2012 Singer arranged for a Ghanaian Court order to detain the Argentine naval training vessel ARA Libertad in a Ghanaian port, with the vessel to be used as collateral in an effort to force Argentina to pay the debt. Refusing to pay, Argentina shortly thereafter regained control of the ship after its seizure was deemed illegal by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Alleging the incident lost Tema Harbour $7.6 million in lost revenue and unpaid docking fees, Ghana in 2012 was reportedly considering legal action against NML for the amount.
His firm... is so influential that fear of its tactics helped shape the current 2012 Greek debt restructuring." Elliott was termed by The Independent as "a pioneer in the business of buying up sovereign bonds on the cheap, and then going after countries for unpaid debts", and in 1996, Singer began using the strategy of purchasing sovereign debt from nations in or near default-such as Argentina, Peru-through his NML Capital Limited and Congo-Brazzaville through Kensington International Inc. In 2004, then first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund Anne Osborn Krueger denounced the strategy, alleging that it has "undermined the entire structure of sovereign finance."
we wrote that " Trump's rhetoric is concentrated around a racist delirium. He avoids to take direct position on social matters, issues about inequality, etc. Of course he does, he is a billionaire! Trump will follow the pro-establishment agenda of protecting Wall Street and big businesses. And here is the fundamental difference with Bernie Sanders. Bernie says no more war and he means it. He says more taxes for the super-rich and he means it. Free healthcare and education for all the Americans, and he means it. In case that Bernie manage to beat Hillary, the establishment will definitely turn to Trump who will be supported by all means until the US presidency. "
Yet, we would never expect that Trump would verify us, that fast.
Mar 03, 2006 | www.nytimes.com
Can you trust the BBC news? How many journalists are working for the security services? The following extracts are from an article at the excellent Medialens
HACKS AND SPOOKS
By Professor Richard Keeble
And so to Nottingham University (on Sunday 26 February) for a well-attended conference...
I focus in my talk on the links between journalists and the intelligence services: While it might be difficult to identify precisely the impact of the spooks (variously represented in the press as "intelligence", "security", "Whitehall" or "Home Office" sources) on mainstream politics and media, from the limited evidence it looks to be enormous.
As Roy Greenslade, media specialist at the Telegraph (formerly the Guardian), commented:
"Most tabloid newspapers - or even newspapers in general - are playthings of MI5."
Bloch and Fitzgerald, in their examination of covert UK warfare, report the editor of "one of Britain's most distinguished journals" as believing that more than half its foreign correspondents were on the MI6 payroll.
And in 1991, Richard Norton-Taylor revealed in the Guardian that 500 prominent Britons paid by the CIA and the now defunct Bank of Commerce and Credit International, included 90 journalists.
In their analysis of the contemporary secret state, Dorril and Ramsay gave the media a crucial role. The heart of the secret state they identified as the security services, the cabinet office and upper echelons of the Home and Commonwealth Offices, the armed forces and Ministry of Defence, the nuclear power industry and its satellite ministries together a network of senior civil servants.
As "satellites" of the secret state, their list included "agents of influence in the media, ranging from actual agents of the security services, conduits of official leaks, to senior journalists merely lusting after official praise and, perhaps, a knighthood at the end of their career".
Phillip Knightley, author of a seminal history of the intelligence services, has even claimed that at least one intelligence agent is working on every Fleet Street newspaper.
A brief history
Going as far back as 1945, George Orwell no less became a war correspondent for the Observer - probably as a cover for intelligence work. Significantly most of the men he met in Paris on his assignment, Freddie Ayer, Malcolm Muggeridge, Ernest Hemingway were either working for the intelligence services or had close links to them.
Stephen Dorril, in his seminal history of MI6, reports that Orwell attended a meeting in Paris of resistance fighters on behalf of David Astor, his editor at the Observer and leader of the intelligence service's unit liasing with the French resistance.
The release of Public Record Office documents in 1995 about some of the operations of the MI6-financed propaganda unit, the Information Research Department of the Foreign Office, threw light on this secret body - which even Orwell aided by sending them a list of "crypto-communists". Set up by the Labour government in 1948, it "ran" dozens of Fleet Street journalists and a vast array of news agencies across the globe until it was closed down by Foreign Secretary David Owen in 1977.
According to John Pilger in the anti-colonial struggles in Kenya, Malaya and Cyprus, IRD was so successful that the journalism served up as a record of those episodes was a cocktail of the distorted and false in which the real aims and often atrocious behaviour of the British intelligence agencies was hidden.
And spy novelist John le Carré, who worked for MI6 between 1960 and 1964, has made the amazing statement that the British secret service then controlled large parts of the press – just as they may do today.
In 1975, following Senate hearings on the CIA, the reports of the Senate's Church Committee and the House of Representatives' Pike Committee highlighted the extent of agency recruitment of both British and US journalists.
And sources revealed that half the foreign staff of a British daily were on the MI6 payroll.
David Leigh, in The Wilson Plot, his seminal study of the way in which the secret service smeared through the mainstream media and destabilised the Government of Harold Wilson before his sudden resignation in 1976, quotes an MI5 officer: "We have somebody in every office in Fleet Street"
And the most famous whistleblower of all, Peter (Spycatcher) Wright, revealed that MI5 had agents in newspapers and publishing companies whose main role was to warn them of any forthcoming "embarrassing publications".
Wright also disclosed that the Daily Mirror tycoon, Cecil King, "was a longstanding agent of ours" who "made it clear he would publish anything MI5 might care to leak in his direction".
Selective details about Wilson and his secretary, Marcia Falkender, were leaked by the intelligence services to sympathetic Fleet Street journalists. Wright comments: "No wonder Wilson was later to claim that he was the victim of a plot". King was also closely involved in a scheme in 1968 to oust Prime Minister Harold Wilson and replace him with a coalition headed by Lord Mountbatten.
Hugh Cudlipp, editorial director of the Mirror from 1952 to 1974, was also closely linked to intelligence, according to Chris Horrie, in his recently published history of the newspaper.
David Walker, the Mirror's foreign correspondent in the 1950s, was named as an MI6 agent following a security scandal while another Mirror journalist, Stanley Bonnet, admitted working for MI5 in the 1980s investigating the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Maxwell and Mossad
According to Stephen Dorril, intelligence gathering during the miners' strike of 1984-85 was helped by the fact that during the 1970s MI5's F Branch had made a special effort to recruit industrial correspondents – with great success.
In 1991, just before his mysterious death, Mirror proprietor Robert Maxwell was accused by the US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh of acting for Mossad, the Israeli secret service, though Dorril suggests his links with MI6 were equally as strong.
Following the resignation from the Guardian of Richard Gott, its literary editor in December 1994 in the wake of allegations that he was a paid agent of the KGB, the role of journalists as spies suddenly came under the media spotlight – and many of the leaks were fascinating.
For instance, according to The Times editorial of 16 December 1994: "Many British journalists benefited from CIA or MI6 largesse during the Cold War."
The intimate links between journalists and the secret services were highlighted in the autobiography of the eminent newscaster Sandy Gall. He reports without any qualms how, after returning from one of his reporting assignments to Afghanistan, he was asked to lunch by the head of MI6. "It was very informal, the cook was off so we had cold meat and salad with plenty of wine. He wanted to hear what I had to say about the war in Afghanistan. I was flattered, of course, and anxious to pass on what I could in terms of first-hand knowledge."
And in January 2001, the renegade MI6 officer, Richard Tomlinson, claimed Dominic Lawson, the editor of the Sunday Telegraph and son of the former Tory chancellor, Nigel Lawson, provided journalistic cover for an MI6 officer on a mission to the Baltic to handle and debrief a young Russian diplomat who was spying for Britain.
Lawson strongly denied the allegations.
Similarly in the reporting of Northern Ireland, there have been longstanding concerns over security service disinformation. Susan McKay, Northern editor of the Dublin-based Sunday Tribune, has criticised the reckless reporting of material from "dodgy security services". She told a conference in Belfast in January 2003 organised by the National Union of Journalists and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission: "We need to be suspicious when people are so ready to provide information and that we are, in fact, not being used." (www.nuj.org.uk/inner.php?docid=635)
Growing power of secret state
Thus from this evidence alone it is clear there has been a long history of links between hacks and spooks in both the UK and US.
But as the secret state grows in power, through massive resourcing, through a whole raft of legislation – such as the Official Secrets Act, the anti-terrorism legislation, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and so on – and as intelligence moves into the heart of Blair's ruling clique so these links are even more significant.
Since September 11 all of Fleet Street has been awash in warnings by anonymous intelligence sources of terrorist threats.
According to former Labour minister Michael Meacher, much of this disinformation was spread via sympathetic journalists by the Rockingham cell within the MoD.
A parallel exercise, through the office of Special Plans, was set up by Donald Rumsfeld in the US. Thus there have been constant attempts to scare people – and justify still greater powers for the national security apparatus.
Similarly the disinformation about Iraq's WMD was spread by dodgy intelligence sources via gullible journalists.
Thus, to take just one example, Michael Evans, The Times defence correspondent, reported on 29 November 2002: "Saddam Hussein has ordered hundred of his officials to conceal weapons of mass destruction components in their homes to evade the prying eyes of the United Nations inspectors." The source of these "revelations" was said to be "intelligence picked up from within Iraq". Early in 2004, as the battle for control of Iraq continued with mounting casualties on both sides, it was revealed that many of the lies about Saddam Hussein's supposed WMD had been fed to sympathetic journalists in the US, Britain and Australia by the exile group, the Iraqi National Congress.
Sexed up – and missed out
During the controversy that erupted following the end of the "war" and the death of the arms inspector Dr David Kelly (and the ensuing Hutton inquiry) the spotlight fell on BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan and the claim by one of his sources that the government (in collusion with the intelligence services) had "sexed up" a dossier justifying an attack on Iraq.
The Hutton inquiry, its every twist and turn massively covered in the mainstream media, was the archetypal media spectacle that drew attention from the real issue: why did the Bush and Blair governments invade Iraq in the face of massive global opposition? But those facts will be forever secret.
Significantly, too, the broader and more significant issue of mainstream journalists' links with the intelligence services was ignored by the inquiry.
Significantly, on 26 May 2004, the New York Times carried a 1,200-word editorial admitting it had been duped in its coverage of WMD in the lead-up to the invasion by dubious Iraqi defectors, informants and exiles (though it failed to lay any blame on the US President: see Greenslade 2004). Chief among The Times' dodgy informants was Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress and Pentagon favourite before his Baghdad house was raided by US forces on 20 May.
Then, in the Observer of 30 May 2004, David Rose admitted he had been the victim of a "calculated set-up" devised to foster the propaganda case for war. "In the 18 months before the invasion of March 2003, I dealt regularly with Chalabi and the INC and published stories based on interviews with men they said were defectors from Saddam's regime." And he concluded: "The information fog is thicker than in any previous war, as I know now from bitter personal experience. To any journalist being offered apparently sensational disclosures, especially from an anonymous intelligence source, I offer two words of advice: caveat emptor."
Let's not forget no British newspaper has followed the example of the NYT and apologised for being so easily duped by the intelligence services in the run up to the illegal invasion of Iraq.
Richard Keeble's publications include Secret State, Silent Press: New Militarism, the Gulf and the Modern Image of Warfare (John Libbey 1997) and The Newspapers Handbook (Routledge, fourth edition, 2005). He is also the editor of Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics. Richard is also a member of the War and Media Network.
Mar 18, 2019 | theduran.com
RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran's Alex Christoforou take a quick look at the college admissions scam revolving around William Rick Singer, who was running a for-profit college-counseling program, where according to federal prosecutors, has a goal focused on helping "the wealthiest families in the U.S. get their kids into school."
Arrest warrants for Hollywood stars, Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, were delivered on Tuesday following their alleged involvement in a college-entrance-exam cheating scandal.
According to CNN, the women were two of around 50 people who were the subject of federal indictment following an extensive FBI investigation named "Operation Varsity Blues."
Loughlin's husband, Mossimo Giannulli, was also implicated, and was arrested early on Tuesday morning.
TMZ reported that Huffman was arrested by seven armed FBI agents. Her husband, William H. Macy, has not been charged in connection to the case. Loughlin, Giannulli, and Huffman are all facing charges of felony conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
Huffman is accused of spending $15,000 on an organization that allegedly helped her daughter cheat on her SATs. Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 to get their daughters into University of Southern California as recruits for the crew team for which neither of Loughlin's daughters rowed crew.
All three were recorded by the FBI on phone calls discussing their plans to alter or lie about their children's college applications.
Is there anything left in this country that has not been deeply tainted by corruption?
By now you have probably heard that dozens of people have been arrested for participating in a multi-million dollar college admissions scam. Enormous amounts of money were paid out in order to ensure that children from very wealthy families were able to get into top schools such as Yale University, Stanford University, the University of Texas and the University of Southern California. And as The Economic Collapse blog's Michael Snyder writes, we should certainly be disgusted by these revelations, but we shouldn't be surprised. Such corruption happens every single day on every single level of society in America. At this point our nation is so far gone that it is shocking when you run into someone that actually still has some integrity.
The "mastermind" behind this college admissions scam was a con man named William Rick Singer. He had been successfully getting the kids of wealthy people into top colleges for years using "side doors", and he probably thought that he would never get caught.
But he did.
There were four basic methods that Singer used to get children from wealthy families into elite schools. The first two methods involved bribes
Bribing college entrance exam administrators to allow a third party to facilitate cheating on college entrance exams, in some cases by posing as actual students,' is the first.
Bribing university athletic coaches and administrators to designate applicants as purported athletic recruits – regardless of their athletic abilities, and in some cases, even though they did not play the sport,' is the second.
Because many of these kids didn't even play the sports they were being "recruited" for, in some cases Photoshop was used to paste their faces on to the bodies of real athletes
In order to get non-athletic kids admitted to college as athletes, Singer often had to create fake profiles for them. Sometimes this involved fabricating resumes that listed them having played on elite club teams, but to finish the illusion Singer and his team would also use Photoshop to combine photos of the kids with actual athletes in the sport.
A number of college coaches became exceedingly wealthy from taking bribes to "recruit" kids that would never play once they got to school, but now a lot of those same coaches are probably going to prison.
The third and fourth methods that Singer used involved more direct forms of cheating
'Having a third party take classes in place of the actual students, with the understanding that the grades earned in those classes would be submitted as part of the students' application,' is the third.
The fourth was 'submitting falsified applications for admission to universities that, among other things, included the fraudulently obtained exam scores and class grades, and often listed fake awards and athletic activities.'
Of course the main thing that the media is focusing on is the fact that some celebrities are among those being charged in this case, and that includes Lori Loughlin from "Full House"
It was important to "Full House" star Lori Loughlin that her kids have "the college experience" that she missed out on, she said back in 2016.
Loughlin, along with "Desperate Housewives" actress Felicity Huffman, is among those charged in a scheme in which parents allegedly bribed college coaches and insiders at testing centers to help get their children into some of the most elite schools in the country, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
Despite how cynical I have become lately, I never would have guessed that Lori Loughlin was capable of such corruption.
After all, she seems like such a nice lady on television.
But apparently she was extremely determined to make sure that her daughters had "the college experience", and so Loughlin and her husband shelled out half a million dollars in bribes
Loughlin and Giannulli 'agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team – despite the fact that they did not participate in crew – thereby facilitating their admission to USC,' according to the documents.
As bad as this scandal is, can we really say that it is much worse than what is going on around the rest of the country every single day?
Of course not.
We are a very sick nation, and we are getting sicker by the day.
William Rick Singer had a good con going, and he should have stopped while he was ahead
William "Rick" Singer said he had the inside scoop on getting into college, and anyone could get in on it with his book, "Getting In: Gaining Admission To Your College of Choice."
"This book is full of secrets," he said in Chapter 1 before dispensing advice on personal branding, test-taking and college essays.
But Singer had even bigger secrets, and those would cost up to $1.2 million.
But like most con men, Singer just had to keep pushing the envelope, and in the end it is going to cost him everything.
The ironic thing is that our colleges and universities are pulling an even bigger con. They have convinced all of us that a college education is the key to a bright future, but meanwhile the quality of the "education" that they are providing has deteriorated dramatically. I spent eight years in school getting three degrees, and so I know what I am talking about. For much more on all this, please see my recent article entitled "50 Actual College Course Titles That Prove That America's Universities Are Training Our College Students To Be Socialists" .
I know that it is not fashionable to talk about "morality" and "values" these days, but the truth is that history has shown us that any nation that is deeply corrupt is not likely to survive for very long.
Our founders understood this, and former president John Adams once stated that our Constitution "was made only for a moral and religious people"
Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
Today, we are neither moral or religious.
What we are is deeply corrupt, and America will not survive if we keep going down this path.
Aug 21, 2017 | www.globalresearch.caRegion: 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 .
Oct 10, 2014 | The GuardianBradBenson, 10 October 2014 6:14pmThe American Public has gotten exactly what it deserved. They have been dumbed-down in our poor-by-intention school systems. The moronic nonsense that passes for news in this country gets more sensational with each passing day. Over on Fox, they are making the claim that ISIS fighters are bringing Ebola over the Mexican Border, which prompted a reply by the Mexican Embassy that won't be reported on Fox.BaronVonAmericano , 10 October 2014 6:26pm
We continue to hear and it was even reported in this very fine article by Ms. Benjamin that the American People now support this new war. Really? I'm sorry, but I haven't seen that support anywhere but on the news and I just don't believe it any more.
There is also the little problem of infiltration into key media slots by paid CIA Assets (Scarborough and brainless Mika are two of these double dippers). Others are intermarried. Right-wing Neocon War Criminal Dan Senor is married to "respected" newsperson Campbell Brown who is now involved in privatizing our school system. Victoria Nuland, the slimey State Department Official who was overheard appointing the members of the future Ukrainian Government prior to the Maidan Coup is married to another Neo-Con--Larry Kagan. Even sweet little Andrea Mitchell is actually Mrs. Alan Greenspan.
General Electric, the world's largest military contractor, still controls the message over at the so-called "liberal" MSNBC. MSNBC's other owner is Comcast, the right wing media conglomerate that controls the radio waves in every major American Market. Over at CNN, Mossad Asset Wolf Blitzer, who rose from being an obscure little correspondent for an Israeli Newspaper to being CNN's Chief "Pentagon Correspondent" and then was elevated to supreme anchorman nearly as quickly, ensures that the pro-Israeli Message is always in the forefront, even as the Israeli's commit one murderous act after another upon helpless Palestinian Women and Children.
Every single "terrorism expert", General or former Government Official that is brought out to discuss the next great war is connected to a military contractor that stands to benefit from that war. Not surprisingly, the military option is the only option discussed and we are assured that, if only we do this or bomb that, then it will all be over and we can bring our kids home to a big victory parade. I'm 63 and it has never happened in my lifetime--with the exception of the phony parade that Bush Senior put on after his murderous little "First Gulf War".
Yesterday there was a coordinated action by all of the networks, which was clearly designed to support the idea that the generals want Obama to act and he just won't. The not-so-subtle message was that the generals were right and that the President's "inaction" was somehow out of line-since, after all, the generals have recommended more war. It was as if these people don't remember that the President, sleazy War Criminal that he is, is still the Commander in Chief.
The Generals in the Pentagon always want war. It is how they make rank. All of those young kids that just graduated from our various academies know that war experience is the only thing that will get them the advancement that they seek in the career that they have chosen. They are champing at the bit for more war.
Finally, this Sunday every NFL Game will begin with some Patriotic "Honor America" Display, which will include a missing man flyover, flags and fireworks, plenty of uniforms, wounded Vets and soon-to-be-wounded Vets. A giant American Flag will, once again, cover the fields and hundreds of stupid young kids will rush down to their "Military Career Center" right after the game. These are the ones that I pity most.Let's be frank: powerful interests want war and subsequent puppet regimes in the half dozen nations that the neo-cons have been eyeing (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan). These interests surely include industries like banking, arms and oil-all of whom make a killing on any war, and would stand to do well with friendly governments who could finance more arms purchases and will never nationalize the oil.
So, the same PR campaign that started with Bush and Cheney continues-the exact same campaign. Obviously, they have to come back at the apple with variations, but any notion that the "media will get it someday" is willfully ignorant of the obvious fact that there is an agenda, and that agenda just won't stop until it's achieved-or revolution supplants the influence of these dark forces.
IanB52, 10 October 2014 6:57pm
The US media are indeed working overtime to get this war happening. When I'm down at the gym they always have CNN on (I can only imagine what FOX is like) which is a pretty much dyed in the wool yellow jingoist station at this point. With all the segments they dedicate to ISIS, a new war, the "imminent" terrorist threat, they seem to favor talking heads who support a full ground war and I have never, not once, heard anyone even speak about the mere possibility of peace. Not ever.
In media universe there is no alternative to endless war and an endless stream of hyped reasons for new killing.
I'd imagine that these media companies have a lot stock in and a cozy relationship with the defense contractors.
Damiano Iocovozzi, 10 October 2014 7:04pmID5868758 , 10 October 2014 10:20pm
The media machine is a wholly owned subsidiary of the United States of Corporations. The media doesn't report on anything but relies on repeating manufactured crises, creating manufactured consent & discussing manufactured solutions. Follow the oil, the pipelines & the money. Both R's & D's are left & right cheeks of the same buttock. Thanks to Citizens United & even Hobby Lobby, a compliant Supreme Court, also owned by United States of Corporations, it's a done deal.Oh, the greatest propaganda arm the US government has right now, bar none, is the American media. It's disgraceful. we no longer have journalists speaking truth to power in my country, we have people practicing stenography, straight from the State Department to your favorite media outlet.
Let me give you one clear example. A year ago Barack Obama came very close to bombing Syria to kingdom come, the justification used was "Assad gassed his own people", referring to a sarin gas attack near Damascus. Well, it turns out that Assad did not initiate that attack, discovered by research from many sources including the prestigious MIT, it was a false flag attack planned by Turkey and carried out by some of Obama's own "moderate rebels".
But all that research from MIT, from the UN, and others, has been buried by the American media, and every single story on Syria and Assad that is written still refers to "Assad gassing his own people". It's true, it's despicable, and it's just one example of how our media lies and distorts and misrepresents the news every day.
Mar 01, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Bezos : I've witnessed this incredible thing happen on the internet over the last two decades. I started Amazon in my garage 24 years ago -- drove packages to the post office myself. Today we have 600,000-plus people, millions and millions of customers, a very large company.
How did that happen in such a short period of time? It happened because we didn't have to do any of the heavy lifting. All of the heavy-lifting infrastructure was already in place for it. There was already a telecommunication network, which became the backbone of the internet. There was already a payment system -- it was called the credit card. There was already a transportation network called the US Postal Service, and Royal Mail, and Deutsche Post, all over the world, that could deliver our packages. We didn't have to build any of that heavy infrastructure.
An even more stark example is Facebook. Here's a guy who literally, in his dorm room, started a company -- Mark Zuckerberg started a company in his dorm room, which is now worth half a trillion dollars -- less than two decades ago.
NY Geezer , March 1, 2019 at 9:04 am
Jeff Bezos strikes me as an incredibly pompous hustler who is so much into himself that he has begun to believe that he is GOD. Before trying to hustle others into traveling to Mars, or any other space destination, he should show us that it is feasible by PERSONALLY going first, surviving 18 months of space travel (9 months each way to Mars) including a landing on and take off from Mars.
flora , March 1, 2019 at 7:27 am
Jeff reveals how he made his fortune using public infrastructure (read govt spending) and tax breaks. Now he's aiming for Pentagon riches.
In addition to Amazon's much-panned withdrawal from a "second headquarters" deal in New York City -- which had the New York Post comparing Bezos to ex-Yankees pitcher Sonny Gray for his inability to "take the kind of pressure New York can dish out" -- the Pez-headed tech giant's dreams of Pentagon riches are suddenly being thwarted.
The blow involves a surprise delay in the award of the so-called JEDI contract, a $10 billion (or more) prize for Pentagon cloud management that once seemed gift-wrapped for Amazon.
Ape , March 1, 2019 at 7:48 am
Hmm, the internet already existed. In fact the WWW existed. He must know that -- so he's lying to minimize the amount of infrastructure he inherited. By 1994, everything was already there.
William Hunter Duncan , March 1, 2019 at 9:10 am
I am growing so very tired of the Cult of Bezos. That line about his garage is like an incantation to put his acolytes and sycophants into zombie mode. That argument that there can be no space Zuckerbergs sounds like subliminal messaging 'divert more public resources to ME! Only I can lead you to the stars!' He has zero intention of building his own space infrastructure. He wants us to build it for Him, our demigod, Bezos!
Dec 31, 2015 | nakedcapitalism.com
Carolinian December 29, 2015
As Hemingway replied to that alum: "yes, they have more money."
Vatch December 29, 2015 at 11:25 am
Superficially, Hemingway was correct. But on a deeper level, he missed the reality of the heightened sense of entitlement that the very rich possess, as well as the deference that so many people automatically show to them. The rich shouldn't be different in this way, but they are. In some other societies, such entitlement and deference would accrue to senior party members, senior clergymen, or hereditary nobility (who might not have much money at all).
MyLessThanPrimeBeef December 29, 2015 at 11:45 am
"Go with the winner." That is how it works for the alpha male (a chimp, an ape, or a gorilla) for most followers anyway. Some will challenge. If victorious, followers will line up (more go-with-the-winner). If defeated, an outcast.
Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 12:04 pm
Without a doubt Hemingway had a rather catty attitude toward his literary rival, but in this instance I think the debunking is merited. It's quite possible that rich people act the way we would act if we were rich, and that Fitzgerald's tiresome obsession with rich people didn't cut very deep. Hemingway is saying: take away all that money and the behavior would change as well. It's the money (or the power in your example) that makes the difference.
Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 1:58 pm
In my opinion, the fact that if they had less money would change the way they think, does not change the fact that, while they have more money, they think differently, and different rules apply to them.
Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm
Addendum: The fact that an Alpha Chimp would act differently if someone else was the Alpha Chimp does not change the fact that an Alpha Chimp has fundamentally different behavior than the rest of the group.
Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm
Sounds like you are saying the behavior of the rich is different -- not what F. Scott Fitzgerald said.
Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:29 pm
"Hemingway is responsible for a famous misquotation of Fitzgerald's. According to Hemingway, a conversation between him and Fitzgerald went:
Fitzgerald: The rich are different than you and me.
Hemingway: Yes, they have more money.
This never actually happened; it is a retelling of an actual encounter between Hemingway and Mary Colum, which went as follows:
Hemingway: I am getting to know the rich.
Colum: I think you'll find the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money."
Just want to point out that that quote of Hemingways wasn't about Fitzgerald and wasn't even by Hemingway. Anyway I was more attacking the "rich have more money" thing than I was trying to defend Fitzgerald, but I feel Fitzgerald got the basic idea right
craazyman December 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm
I read somewhere, maybe a biography of one of them when I read books like that, that Hemingway actually said it and only said that F. Scott said it.
There are no heroes among famous men. I said that!
giantsquid December 29, 2015 at 4:00 pm
Here's an interesting take on this reputed exchange between Fitzgerald and Hemingway:
"The rich are different" The real story behind the famed "exchange" between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.
Apparently Fitzgerald was referring specifically to the attitudes of those who are born rich, attitudes that Fitzgerald thought remained unaltered by events, including the loss of economic status.
"They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different."
Hemingway suggested that Fitzgerald had once been especially enamored of the rich, seeing them as a "special glamorous race" but ultimately became disillusioned.
"He thought they were a special glamorous race and when he found they weren't it wrecked him as much as any other thing that wrecked him."
Mar 09, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
"My Year of Living Like My Rich Friend" [ New York Magazine ].
"[S]hopping with T was different. When she walked into a store, the employees greeted her by name and began to pull items from the racks for her to try on. Riding her coattails, I was treated with the same consideration, which is how I wound up owning a beautiful cashmere 3.1 Philip Lim sweater that I had no use for and rarely wore, and which was eventually eaten by moths in my closet.
Buying beautiful clothes at full retail price was not a part of my childhood and it is not a part of my life now. It felt more illicit and more pleasurable than buying drugs. It was like buying drugs and doing the drugs, simultaneously.""
"Erie Locomotive Plant Workers Strike against Two-Tier" [ Labor Notes ]. "UE proposed keeping the terms of the existing collective bargaining agreement in place while negotiating a new contract, but Wabtec rejected that proposal. Instead it said it would impose a two-tier pay system that would pay new hires and recalled employees up to 38 percent less in wages, institute mandatory overtime, reorganize job classifications, and hire temporary workers for up to 20 percent of the plant's jobs.
Workers voted on Saturday to authorize the strike." • Good. Two-tier is awful, wherever found (including Social Security).
Mar 03, 2019 | stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com
Many of you might react to the FT's story about the "squeezed 1%" by getting out the world's smallest violin. I think this is a mistake. It reminds us that the damage done by inequality extends beyond the general social and economic harm. It hurts even those who are a long way up the income ladder.
First, some statistical context. Someone at the bottom of the top percentile of incomes is on about £120,000 a year. The top 0.1%, however, gets over £500,000. A very well-paid head-teacher, professor or NHS consultant might just get into the top 1%, but the top 0.1% comprises bankers, very successful entrepreneurs or bosses of big firms. As the IFS's Paul Johnson says , "someone 'only' at the top 1% is much more like the average person than they are like someone at top 0.1%."
This gulf between the 1% and 0.1% hurts the 1% in three ways.
One is simply that they are aware of it. For the poor, the rich are out of sight, out of mind: in fact, they grossly under -estimate just how much the rich make. The 1%, however, see it more clearly. We compare ourselves to people like us. And the 1% benchmark themselves against the 0.1%. They are often university contemporaries, so one might resent why the no-mark who was no smarter than him is earning five times as much. Or they might compare social utilities. A doctor covered in blood will wonder why he is paid so much less for saving somebody's life than a banker is paid for – well, what? And of course the 1% sees the 0.1% close up. Just as no man is a hero to his valet, so nobody in the 0.1% is a hero to his underling. Middle-managers have a lively awareness of the short-comings of senior managers, as professors do of the foibles of vice-chancellors.
All this naturally breeds resentment. Experiments (pdf) by Philip Grossman and Mana Komai have confirmed this. They split subjects into rich and poor groups and gave everybody the option of destroying another's wealth. They found that predations by the poor upon the rich were only a minority of attacks. Instead they found that the rich attacked other rich. This is consistent with reference group theory: we compare ourselves to those like us:
We find strong evidence of within class envy: the rich targeting the rich and the poor targeting the poor. Within the rich community, the target of envy is usually a wealthier subject whose wealth is close to that of the attacker; the attacker may possibly be trying to improve his/her relative ranking.
A second effect of the gap between the 0.1% and 1% is the subject of the FT's article. The very rich price the reasonably rich out of houses and schools: top private school fees have soared in recent years because they market themselves to the global rich. As Rick wrote :
The painful fact for many people is that their jobs no longer pay enough for them to enjoy what they had been brought up to think of as a middle-class lifestyle. They can't afford to live in the sort of house in the sort of street where they grew up. They can't afford to send their children to the schools they went to. And those nice leafy hospitals their parents used to go to, forget it. The super-rich can still afford these things, though, so the prices keep going up, well beyond the reach of the old middle-classes.
The difference between the 1% and the 0.1% doesn't, however, lie merely in what they can afford. There is perhaps an even bigger difference. A man (it's usually a man) on £500,000 can reasonably look forward to quitting work or downshifting unless he has arranged his affairs especially badly. Somebody on a low six-figure salary, however, cannot. Instead, they often face years of stress – exacerbated by managerialism's deprofessionalization of erstwhile professional jobs and to the fact that their inability to afford homes in central London condemns them to long and stressful commutes .
You will of course object here that this is also true for millions of workers far outside the 1%. You'd be bang right. And that's the point. Class is not merely another yet another identity. It is an objective fact about your relationship to the means of production – about whether this puts you in a position (pdf) of subordination or domination. In many cases – not all but many – even those on six-figure salaries are in subordinate and stressful positions. They are objectively working class, however posh they might fancy themselves to be.
Which is why we need class politics. Whereas identity politics risks splitting us into mutually hostile ghettos, proper class politics has the potential to unite us – well most of us. One of the great marvels of capitalism is that we are so incapable of seeing this.
March 03, 2019 | Permalink
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Scratch , March 03, 2019 at 04:55 PM"They split subjects into rich and poor groups and gave everybody the option of destroying another's wealth. They found that predations by the poor upon the rich were only a minority of attacks. Instead they found that the rich attacked other rich. This is consistent with reference group theory:"Laurent GUERBY , March 03, 2019 at 05:42 PM
Heh. One presumes reference group theory has not been updated for the last 40-odd years.
Looks like something for this blog about managerialism:e , March 03, 2019 at 06:42 PM
Great post. Why we showcase any known instance of less than genteel behaviour (thought or deed) among a rank and file while also screeching about a middle class running the shop...you know, divide and rule.Matthew Turner , March 03, 2019 at 08:52 PM
Are we sure (upper) middle class living has got more expensive? I'm sceptical about holidays (cited in that post you link to) and probably housing (I just don't see how the rich, even inc foreigners, could have bought so many). I suspect a lot of this is people being s bit lower down the distribution that their parents..Toby , March 03, 2019 at 09:05 PM
Another terrific post. But I'm left with two questions:KevinCarson1 , March 03, 2019 at 09:21 PM
1. Is the tension you cite between 1% and 0.1% not the same as between the 0.1% and the 0.01%?
2. Could you expand on why having the 1% identified as working class would help?
The class distinction serves to divide, and is recasting the boundary at the 0.1% level an effort to unite a greater proportion of the population (really very nearly everyone) different from saying that the idea of class politics is not useful after all? Or is it to just form a tougher coalition against the top 0.1%?
No sympathy at all. Most of the bottom nine-tenths of the top 1% are doing bullshit jobs -- bean-counting, guard labor, gatekeeping -- for the top tenth that wouldn't exist in a rational, egalitarian society. And the managerial stratum, as a whole, is an enormous suck on production workers' wages, whether or not its total income actually equals that of rentiers; simply returning managerial/supervisory salaries to the same share of total labor compensation they received in the '70s would alone raise production workers' pay by a quarter or more. The plantation overseers may not be as rich as the planters, but they're still parasites.Brian , March 03, 2019 at 09:31 PM
Conversations I've overheard in the last couple of years:Scratch , March 03, 2019 at 10:15 PM
"We're both barristers and we can't even afford a flat in Tooting".
"I went to Heathfield and my husband went to Eton. But no chance we can afford private schools for our children".
"Rich foreigners have bought up the houses in Kensington we should have been living in."
My friend, an accountant, says there has always been social churn. But this seems different to me. And at some point the foremen for the billionaire class, I hope, will say sod this for a game of checkers.
The one that shocks me is the professoriate. Casualising and impoverishing one's core ideological cadre strikes me as a little hubristic.Matthew Turner , March 04, 2019 at 08:09 AM
Then again they seem to be almost without exception devoted to feral liberalism which is presumably testament to the accuracy of the 0/1%'s analysis.
"We're both barristers and we can't even afford a flat in Tooting".georgesdelatour , March 04, 2019 at 10:34 AM
So who is living in Tooting then?
The 0.1% hurt the rest of us mainly because they're able to get governments to enact their policy preferences, not because their individual spending decisions heavily skew markets and strain public services. Ultimately there just aren't enough of them to make that much difference, except in highly localised areas; and anyway, they probably use "the commons" (public transport, state schools, the NHS) far less than the median citizen does.Adrian , March 04, 2019 at 11:02 AM
For instance, the 0.1% may cause property bubbles in certain specific locations (Malibu, Manhattan, San Jose, Chelsea etc). But their individual property purchases aren't the main driver of the broader property/housing crisis. We're currently adding around a million people to the UK population every three years. That's 20 times more people than the entire 0.1%. It's got to have more of an effect on the elevated demand for homes, the elevated congestion on London's commuter trains and tubes, and the elevated demand for school places and NHS treatments; even if some of these new Britons come to work in construction, transport, education or health.
Or we are deep into a structural demographic pattern where an expanded and entitled 'Elite' are in serious competition for the lifestyles they are 'entitled' to.georgesdelatour , March 05, 2019 at 09:24 AM
This situation in history has created some of the most severe political crisis in the history of the west from civil war to bloody revolution, and there is no good reason to suspect that the continuing competition between the established and seeking elites, will ferment even further political and civil strife.
Brexit, an example of a punch up between these elite factions, is already causing severe political strife as the state attempts to reconcile and buy of these competing factions, by hollowing out the classes below to pay for the exercise.
The attempt by the French government to make the non-elite classes pay for the downside of elite supporting policies is not going well, and were is not for the endlessly phlegmatic English constitution and the appeal to ingrained xenophobia, that the non elite classes would be already violently engaged on the streets.
The only way - history says - to escape the effect of this structural position, aside from civil war or revolution to winnow the elite class, the predominate cause of this situation, is through lethal pandemic. Unlikely with modern medicine.
We are at the active beginning of this process, the main crisis is yet to unfold.
@AdrianAdrian , March 05, 2019 at 10:23 AM
Are you alluding to Peter Turchin's theory of "Elite Overproduction"? I think he's on to something.
Absolutely. Structural Demographics in lockstep with serious crisis. We're in the middle, or at the serious start? The question is going to have to be, will the Elites roll over and allow taxation and redistribution to winnow the wealth, or refuse to budge and see violent breakdown?
Given that it's hard to defuse the crisis through the traditional weapon of inter-state war, because of nuclear weapons, that some form of new highly redistributive social contract will be the only way to avoid serious social dislocation.
However, the unfailing position of the elites to see themselves as the answer and not the problem, mitigates against a non-violent accord?
Given that historically the only way to defuse these crisis is to reduce the overpopulation issue in fairly short order, I can't see any easy way out.
But perhaps climate collapse and the affect on food supply and production might do that anyway?
Feb 27, 2019 | www.unz.com
Jake , says: February 26, 2019 at 12:04 pm GMT"That might have left people with the false impression that their votes mean absolutely nothing, and that the entire American electoral system is just a simulation of democracy, and in reality they are living in a neo-feudalist, de facto global capitalist empire administrated by omnicidal money-worshipping human parasites that won't be satisfied until they've remade the whole of creation in their nihilistic image."
Now that's writing worth reading. If the Nobel committee did not serve the Global Empire, it would give the Literature Prize to Hopkins.
The late 19th and 20th century Russians had the horror of dealing with Nihilists running amuck in their country. Now the Nihilists rule the world as multi-billionaire Globalists.
Feb 26, 2019 | www.unz.com
Jake , says: February 26, 2019 at 12:04 pm GMT"That might have left people with the false impression that their votes mean absolutely nothing, and that the entire American electoral system is just a simulation of democracy, and in reality they are living in a neo-feudalist, de facto global capitalist empire administrated by omnicidal money-worshipping human parasites that won't be satisfied until they've remade the whole of creation in their nihilistic image."
Now that's writing worth reading. If the Nobel committee did not serve the Global Empire, it would give the Literature Prize to Hopkins.
The late 19th and 20th century Russians had the horror of dealing with Nihilists running amuck in their country. Now the Nihilists rule the world as multi-billionaire Globalists.
Feb 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com
We begin our investigation with a historical account of the rise of neoliberal hegemony. Hegemony is a concept developed by Italian Marx- ist Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci was keen to account for the definitive role that culture played in legitimizing and sustaining capitalism and its exploitation of the working classes. In our own context of extreme economic inequality, Gramsci's question is still pressing: How and why do ordinary working folks come to accept a system where wealth is produced by their collective labors and energies but appropriated individually by only a few at the top?
The theory of hegemony suggests that the answer to this question is not simply a matter of direct exploitation and control by the capitalist class. Rather, hegemony posits that power is maintained through ongoing, ever-shifting cultural processes of winning the consent of the governed, that is, ordinary people like you and me.
In other words, if we want to really understand why and how phenomena like inequality and exploitation exist, we have to attend to the particular, contingent, and often contradictory ways in which culture gets mobilized to forward the interests and power of the ruling classes. According to Gramsci, there was not one ruling class, but rather a historical blос. "A moving equilibrium" of class interests and values.
Hegemony names a cultural struggle for moral, social, economic, and political leadership; in this struggle, a field -- or assemblage -- of practices, discourses, values, and beliefs come to be dominant. While this field is powerful and firmly entrenched, it is also open to contestation.
In other words, hegemonic power is always on the move; it has to keep winning our consent to survive, and sometimes it fails to do so. Through the lens of hegemony, we can think about the rise of neoliberalism as an ongoing political project -- and class struggle -- to shift society's political equilibrium and create a new' dominant field.
Oct 09, 2017 | www.amazon.com
skeptic on October 8, 2017
A solid book on neoliberal ideology and neoliberal rationality. Highly recommended
The book adhere to "classic" line of critique of neoliberalism as a new "secular religion" ( the author thinking is along the lines of Gramsci idea of "cultural hegemony"; Gramsci did not use the term 'secular religion" at all, but this is close enough concept) that deified the market. It stresses the role of the state in enforcing the neoliberal ideology much like was the case with Bolsheviks in the USSR:
Gramsci's question is still pressing: How and why do ordinary working folks come to accept a system where wealth is produced by their collective labors and energies but appropriated individually by only a few at the top? The theory of hegemony suggests that the answer to this question is not simply a matter of direct exploitation and control by the capitalist class. Rather, hegemony posits that power is maintained through ongoing, ever-shifting cultural processes of winning the consent of the governed, that is, ordinary people like you and me.
According to Gramsci, there was not one ruling class, but rather a historical bloc, "a moving equilibrium" of class interests and values. Hegemony names a cultural struggle for moral, social, economic, and political leadership; in this struggle, a field -- or assemblage -- of practices, discourses, values, and beliefs come to be dominant. While this field is powerful and firmly entrenched, it is also open to contestation. In other words, hegemonic power is always on the move; it has to keep winning our consent to survive, and sometimes it fails to do so.
Through the lens of hegemony, we can think about the rise of neoliberalism as an ongoing political project -- and class struggle -- to shift society's political equilibrium and create a new dominant field. Specifically, we are going to trace the shift from liberal to neoliberal hegemony. This shift is represented in the two images below.
Previous versions of liberal hegemony imagined society to be divided into distinct public and private spheres. The public sphere was the purview of the state, and its role was to ensure the formal rights and freedoms of citizens through the rule of law. The private sphere included the economy and the domestic sphere of home and family.
For the most part, liberal hegemony was animated by a commitment to limited government, as the goal was to allow for as much freedom in trade, associations, and civil society as possible, while preserving social order and individual rights. Politics took shape largely around the line between public and private; more precisely, it was a struggle over where and how to draw the line. In other words, within the field of liberal hegemony, politics was a question of how to define the uses and limits of the state and its public function in a capitalist society. Of course, political parties often disagreed passionately about where and how to draw that line. As we'll see below, many advocated for laissez-faire capitalism, while others argued for a greater public role in ensuring the health, happiness, and rights of citizens. What's crucial though is that everyone agreed that there was a line to be drawn, and that there was a public function for the state.
As Figure 1.1 shows, neoliberal hegemony works to erase this line between public and private and to create an entire society -- in fact, an entire world -- based on private, market competition. In this way, neoliberalism represents a radical reinvention of liberalism and thus of the horizons of hegemonic struggle. Crucially, within neoliberalism, the state's function does not go away; rather, it is deconstructed and reconstructed toward the new' end of expanding private markets.
This view correlates well with the analysis of Professor Wendy Brown book "Undoing the Demos" and her paper "Neoliberalism and the End of Liberal Democracy" (pdf is freely available)
In this sense neoliberalism are just "Trotskyism for the rich" with the same utopian dream of global neoliberal revolution, but much more sinister motives. And is as ruthless in achieving its goals, if necessary bring neoliberal "regime change" on the tips of bayonets, or via 'cultural revolutions".
If we follow the line of thinking put forward by Professor Philip Mirowski's in his book "Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown," we can say that neoliberals essentially "reverse-engineered" Bolsheviks methods of acquiring and maintaining political power, replacing "dictatorship of proletariat" with the "dictatorship of financial oligarchy".
I would say more: The "professional revolutionary" cadre that were the core of Bolshevik's Party were replaced with well paid, talented intellectual prostitutes at specially created neoliberal think tanks. And later "infiltrated" in economic departments (kind of stealth coup d'état in academia financed by usual financial players).
Which eventually created a critical mass of ideas which were able to depose New Deal Capitalism ideology, putting forward the set of remedies that restore the power the financial oligarchy enjoyed in 1920th. Technological changes such as invention of computers and telecommunication revolution also helped greatly.
At the same time unlike Bolsheviks, neoliberals are carefully hiding their agenda. Funny, neoliberalism is the only known to me major ideology which the US MSM are prohibited to mention by name ;-)
The role of state under neoliberalism is very close to the role of state under Bolsheviks' "dictatorship of proletariats". It no way this still a liberal democracy -- this is what Sheldon Wolin called "inverted totalitarism". Less brutal then Bolsheviks' regime, but still far from real democracy. Under neoliberalism the state is a powerful agent needed to enforce markets on unsuspecting population in all spheres of life, whether they want it or not (supported by 12" guns of neoliberal MSM battleships):
As Figure 1.1 shows, neoliberal hegemony works to erase this line between public and private and to create an entire society -- in fact, an entire world -- based on private, market competition. In this way, neoliberalism represents a radical reinvention of liberalism and thus of the horizons of hegemonic struggle. Crucially, within neoliberalism, the state's function does not go away; rather, it is deconstructed and reconstructed toward the new' end of expanding private markets. Consequently, contemporary politics take shape around questions of how best to promote competition. For the most part, politics on both the left and right have been subsumed by neoliberal hegemony. For example, while neoliberalism made its debut in Western politics with the right-wing administrations of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, leaders associated with the left have worked to further neoliberal hegemony in stunning ways. As we will explore in more depth below and in die coming chapters, both U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have governed to create a privatized, market society. In other words, there is both a left and a right hegemonic horizon of neoliberalism. Thus, moving beyond neoliberalism will ultimately require a whole new field of politics.
One of the most interesting part of the book is the brief analysis of the recent elections (with very precise characterization of Hillary Clinton defeat as the defeat of the "neoliberal status quo"). The author claims that Trump supporters were mainly representatives of the strata of the US society which were sick-and-tied of neoliberalism (note the percentage of Spanish speaking electorate who voted for Trump), but they were taken for a ride, as instead of rejection of globalism and free movement of labor, Trump actually represented more right wing, more bastardized version of "hard neoliberalism".
In the period which followed the elections Trump_vs_deep_state emerged as a kind of "neoliberalism in one country" -- much like Stalin's "socialism in one country". It and did not care one bit about those who voted for him during election . As in classic "The Moor has done his duty, the Moor can go."
So in a way Trump represents the mirror image of Obama who in the same way betrayed his votes (twice) acting from "soft neoliberalism" position, while Trump is acting from "hard neoliberalism" position.
On the other hand, we saw' the rise of the Tea Party, a right-wing response to the crisis. While the Tea Party was critical of status-quo neoliberalism -- especially its cosmopolitanism and embrace of globalization and diversity, which was perfectly embodied by Obama's election and presidency -- it was not exactly anti-neoliberal. Rather, it was anti-left neoliberalism-, it represented a more authoritarian, right [wing] version of neoliberalism.
Within the context of the 2016 election, Clinton embodied the neoliberal center that could no longer hold. Inequality. Suffering. Collapsing infrastructures. Perpetual war. Anger. Disaffected consent. There were just too many fissures and fault lines in the glossy, cosmopolitan world of left neoliberalism and marketized equality. Indeed, while Clinton ran on status-quo stories of good governance and neoliberal feminism, confident that demographics and diversity would be enough to win the election, Trump effectively tapped into the unfolding conjunctural crisis by exacerbating the cracks in the system of marketized equality, channeling political anger into his celebrity brand that had been built on saying "f*** you" to the culture of left neoliberalism (corporate diversity, political correctness, etc.) In fact, much like Clinton's challenger in the Democratic primary, Benie Sanders, Trump was a crisis candidate.
... ... ...
In other words, Trump supporters may not have explicitly voted for neoliberalism, but that's what they got. In fact, as Rottenberg argues, they got a version of right neoliberalism "on steroids" -- a mix of blatant plutocracy and authoritarianism that has many concerned about the rise of U.S. fascism.
We can't know what would have happened had Sanders run against Trump, but we can think seriously about Trump, right and left neoliberalism, and the crisis of neoliberal hegemony. In other words, we can think about where and how we go from here. As I suggested in the previous chapter, if we want to construct a new world, we are going to have to abandon the entangled politics of both right and left neoliberalism; we have to reject the hegemonic frontiers of both disposability and marketized equality. After all, as political philosopher Nancy Fraser argues, what was rejected in the election of 2016 was progressive, left neoliberalism.
While the rise of hyper-right neoliberalism is certainly nothing to celebrate, it does present an opportunity for breaking with neoliberal hegemony. We have to proceed, as Gary Younge reminds us, with the realization that people "have not rejected the chance of a better world. They have not yet been offered one."'
Jan 23, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
The always excellent Moon of Alabama blog has just published a sarcasm-laden piece documenting the many, many aggressive maneuvers that this administration has made against the interests of Russia, from pushing for more NATO funding to undermining Russia's natural gas interests to bombing Syria to sanctioning Russian oligarchs to dangerous military posturing.
And yet the trending, most high-profile stories about Trump today all involve painting him as a Putin puppet who is working to destroy America by taking a weak stance against an alarming geopolitical threat. This has had the effect of manufacturing demand for even more dangerous escalations against a nuclear superpower that just so happens to be a longtime target of U.S. intelligence agencies.
If the mass media were in the business of reporting facts, there would be a lot less "Putin's puppet" talk and a lot more "Hey, maybe we should avoid senseless escalations which could end all life on earth" talk among news media consumers. But there isn't, because the mass media is not in the business of reporting facts, it's in the business of selling narratives. Even if those narratives are so shrill and stress-inducing that they imperil the health of their audience.Like His Predecessors
Trump is clearly not a Russian asset, he's a facilitator of America's permanent unelected government just like his predecessors, and indeed as far as actual policies and administration behavior goes he's not that much different from Barack Obama and George W Bush. Hell, for all his demagogic anti-immigrant speech Trump hasn't even caught up to Obama's peak ICE deportation years.
If the mass media were in the business of reporting facts, people would be no more worried about this administration than they were about the previous ones, because when it comes to his administration's actual behavior, he's just as reliable an upholder of the establishment-friendly status quo as his predecessors.
Used to be that the U.S. mass media only killed people indirectly, by facilitating establishment war agendas in repeating government agency propaganda as objective fact and promulgating narratives that manufacture support for a status quo which won't even give Americans health insurance or safe drinking water.
Now they're skipping the middle man and killing them directly by psychologically brutalizing them so aggressively that it ruins their health, all to ensure that Democrats support war and adore the U.S. intelligence community .
They do this for a reason, of course. The Yellow Vests protests in France have continued unabated for their ninth consecutive week , a decentralized populist uprising resulting from ordinary French citizens losing trust in their institutions and the official narratives which uphold them.
The social engineers responsible for controlling the populace of the greatest military power on the planet are watching France closely, and understand deeply what is at stake should they fail to control the narrative and herd ordinary Americans into supporting U.S. government institutions. Right now they've got Republicans cheering on the White House and Democrats cheering on the U.S. intelligence community, but that could all change should something happen which causes them to lose control over the thoughts that Americans think about their rulers.
Propaganda is the single most-overlooked and under-appreciated aspect of human society. The ability of those in power to manipulate the ways ordinary people think, act and vote has allowed for an inverted totalitarianism which turns the citizenry into their own prison wardens, allowing those with real power to continue doing as they please unhindered by the interests of the common man.
The only thing that will lead to real change is the people losing trust in corrupt institutions and rising like lions against them. That gets increasingly likely as those institutions lose control of the narrative, and with trust in the mass media at an all-time low, populist uprisings restoring power to the people in France, and media corporations acting increasingly weird and insecure , that looks more and more likely by the day.
Feb 11, 2019 | www.unz.com
IstvanIN , says: February 3, 2019 at 4:14 pm GMT
February 3, 2019 at 2:24 pm GMT • 300 Words
The debasement of European societies is deliberate. The elites want destruction, period they want their "New World Order"
The intent of this article is to blame [neo]Liberals. I would hardly call Europe's [neoliberal] elite liberals. A liberal would defend freedom of expression and thought. A liberal would defend the right of an individual or group to express viewpoints that are unpopular.
Western Europe is hardly liberal. It is ... repressive when it comes to dissent, mildly totalitarian. Political leaders who advocate for the rights of indigenous Europeans in Europe are persecuted and imprisoned. Political parties are banned or bankrupted.
Jan 20, 2019 | off-guardian.org
... ... ...
Trump has been a disappointment to his base and is yet to implement half the policies he discussed on the campaign trail, but he's not fully and totally being controlled by the warhawking Deep State yet, either. His policy of peace with North Korea and decisions to pull out of Syria and Afghanistan show that there is a tug-of-war ongoing inside the administration. It's probably no coincidence that this latest of many "bombshells" comes so quickly on the heels of Trump's announcement of the Syria withdrawal. Careful "leaks", planted stories and social media witch-hunts remind Trump how precarious his position is, whilst simultaneously distracting the public – both pro-Trump and anti-Trump – from real issues.
The case-specific "why?" doesn't matter so much as the general aim of this type of manipulation. The important question is: Why does the media tell lies if they know they will be revealed as such? Clearly, the lies serve a purpose, regardless of their retraction or qualification. Telling a lie loudly and then taking it back quietly is an old propaganda trick – it allows the paper to maintain a facade of "accountability".
The point of this practice is to propagate lies into the public consciousness. It's a method that can be used to distract and disseminate and divide. The accuracy of the statement is immaterial.
The point is, once it has been said it cannot be unsaid. There are countless examples: "Assange was working for Russia", "Trump ordered Cohen to lie to Congress", "Russia hacked the US election", "Donald Trump worked for the KGB", "Assad gassed his own people", "Jeremy Corbyn is an antisemite". The list goes on and on and on. None these have been proven. All were asserted without evidence, fiercely defended as facts, and then discretely qualified.
That is the purpose of "fake news", to forge the Empire's "created reality" , and force us all to live in it. These are world-shaping, policy-informing, news-dominating narratives and are nothing but feathers in the wind .
A perfect exemplar of this occurred just two days ago on the BBC's flagship Political debate show Question Time : me title= The (notionally impartial) host not only sided with right-wing author Isabel Oakeshott in criticising Labour's polling, but then joined in mocking the Labour MP Diane Abbott for attempting to correct the record. Both Oakeshott and Fiona Bruce, the host, were factually incorrect – as shown a hundred times over since. But that doesn't matter.
The lie was told, the audience laughed, the reality was created. "Labour are behind in the polls, anybody who says otherwise is a laughingstock" . The lie goes around the world while the truth is still putting its boots on. That's why fake news is so important to them, and so dangerous us.Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he's forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.
Jan 20, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Brad F January 18, 2019 at 10:26 amDear Elites
We appreciate that you have built a successful career and/or business under the prevailing laws, and that changing these laws would cause the destruction and/or appropriation of much of your wealth (while costing us little).
Nonetheless we've had a vote and decided that we will indeed go ahead and make these changes. Sorry about your luck. What? You don't agree! Don't you believe in democracy? You hypocrite you!