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Forthcoming slow motion collapse of global neoliberal empire led by the USA

Analogies between collapse of neoliberalism and dissolution of the USSR. When ideology became discredited, the social system based on it enters zombie state. Neoliberalism which entered zombie state in 2008 now is more cruel and bloodthirsty then before

News Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism  Recommended Links Brexit Casino Capitalism Secular Stagnation Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult
Financial Crisis of 2008 as the Crisis of Neoliberalism Gangster Capitalism Anti-globalization movement Psychological Warfare and the New World Order Key Myths of Neoliberalism Globalization of Corporatism Greenwald US
Elite Theory Compradors Fifth column Color revolutions The Great Transformation Right to protect If Corporations Are People, They Are Psychopaths
Super Capitalism as Imperialism Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism America’s Financial Oligarchy Inverted Totalitarism Disaster capitalism Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA Neoliberalism and inequality
Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Harvard Mafia Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market Republican Economic Policy Monetarism fiasco Small government smoke screen The Decline of the Middle Class
Libertarian Philosophy Media domination strategy Neoliberalism Bookshelf John Kenneth Galbraith Globalization of Financial Flows Humor Etc

Introduction

As the most recent transformation of capitalism, neoliberalism is a broad economic and political project of restoring class power of financial oligarchy it enjoyed in 20th of XX century (financial revanchism). It involved  consolidation, globalization and rapid concentration of financial capital (Giroux 2008; 2014).

As an ideology, consider profit-making to be the final arbiter and essence of democracy. And consumption is the only operable form of citizenship. With the related religious belief that the market can both solve all problems and serve as a model for structuring all social relations.

As the mode of governance, it produces the ways of life driven by a survival-of-the fittest ethic, grounded in the idea of the free, predatory individual in economic jungles. And it declared the morality of the right of ruling groups and institutions to exercise power ignoring issues of ethics and social costs (variant of "might is right" mentality).

As the political project, it involves the privatization of public services, the dismantling of the connection of private issues and public problems, the selling off of state functions, liberalization of trade in goods and capital investment, the eradication of government regulation of financial institutions and corporations, the destruction of the welfare state and unions, and the complete "marketization" and "commodification" of social relations.

Neoliberalism has put an enormous effort into creating a commanding cultural apparatus and public pedagogy in which individuals can only view themselves as consumers, embrace freedom as the right to participate in the market, and supplant issues of social responsibility for an unchecked embrace of individualism and the belief that all social relation be judged according to how they further one’s individual needs and self-interests.

Matters of mutual caring, respect, and compassion for the other have given way to the limiting orbits of privatization and unrestrained self-interest, just as it has become increasingly difficult to translate private troubles into larger social, economic, and political considerations. As the democratic public spheres of civil society have atrophied under the onslaught of neoliberal regimes of austerity, the social contract has been either greatly weakened or replaced by savage forms of casino capitalism, a culture of fear, and the increasing use of state violence.

One consequence is that it has become more difficult for people to debate and question neoliberal hegemony and the widespread misery it produces for young people, the poor, middle class, workers, and other segments of society — now considered disposable under neoliberal regimes which are governed by a survival-of-the fittest ethos, largely imposed by the ruling economic and political elite.

That they are unable to make their voices heard and lack any viable representation in the process makes clear the degree to which young people and others are suffering under a democratic deficit, producing what Chantal Mouffe calls “a profound dissatisfaction with a number of existing societies” under the reign of neoliberal capitalism (Mouffe 2013:119). This is one reason why so many youth, along with workers, the unemployed, and students, have been taking to the streets in Greece, Mexico, Egypt, the United States, and England.

Neoliberalism is the second after Marxism social system that was "invented" by a group of intellectuals (although there was not a single dominant individual among them) and implemented via coup d'état. From above. Although is  formally only 37 years old (if we could the edge of neoliberalism from the election of Reagan, which means from 1981) neoliberalism as ideology was born in 1947.  And it already reached the stage of discreditation of its ideology. 

When ideology became discredited, the social system based on it enters zombie state. That happened with Bolshevism after its victory on the WWII when it became evident that working class does not represent the new dominant class and communist party is unable to secure neither higher productivity of economics, nor higher standard of living for people then the advanced capitalist societies. Soviet solders in 1944-1945 saw the standard of living in Poland (which was Russian province before the revolution, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Austria and started to suspect the dream of building communist society was just another "opium for the people", the secular religion which hides the rule of "nomenklatura".  They also realized that The Iron Law of Oligarchy  in applicable to the USSR no less that to any Western country. If we assume that Soviet ideology entered zombies state in 1945, or may be later in 1963 (with  Khrushchev Thaw) when it became clear that the USSR will never match the standard of living of the USA population. Any illusions of global Communist hegemony had evaporated with the collapse of Sino-Soviet relations in the 1960s. Around 1975, the Soviet Union entered a period of economic stagnation from which it  never emerged. Due to this the USSR looked to Europe, primarily West Germany, to provide hard currency financing through massive loans, while the U.S. became a major supplier of grain.

All in all the story of the USSR collapse suggests that after the ideology was discredited the society, which was based on it,  can last  several decades of even half a century (The USSR lasted another 28-46 years depending on the point at which you assume the ideology was completely discredited). But the sad story of the USSR after 1963 does suggests that if the ideology is "man made" like is both the case with Marxism and neoliberalism, the collapse of ideology is the prolog to the subsequent collapse of the society too (with substantial lag).  

Neoliberal society probably has at least the same staying power after 2008 -- when the ideology was discredited and neoliberalism entered zombie stage. If not more, as collapse of the USSR was prompted by the ascendance of neoliberalism and betrayal of Soviet nomenklatura which correctly decided that they will be better off under neoliberalism, then under Brezhnev socialism. And that, paradoxically, includes the KGB brass, which was instrumental in transition of the xUSSR space from Brezhnev socialism to neoliberalism (with the first stage of gangster capitalism). 

At the current stage collapse of neoliberalism, if we can use this word, is still very slow and almost invisible.  Brexit and election of Trump in the USA are probably two most notable events after 2008, that undermines "neoliberal globalization" -- one of the key components of neoliberalism, because like Communism before it is about building a global neoliberal empire (led by the USA financial oligarchy in close cooperation of other western oligarchies), without state borders.

We can envision  the same process of  the growing gap between ideology postulates and real life conditions, especially falling standard of living for most of the people (let's say, lower 80% in the USA. Top 20% including large part of "professional" class are doing just fine, much like nomenklarura in the USSR). Do let's make an unscientific estimate that another 40-50 years of neoliberalism from 2008 are probable. That gives are the estimate of probably disintegration as somewhere in 2050-2060.  "Plato oil" might speed this process up, as neoliberal globalization depends on cheap oil.

The limits of analogy between the collapse of neoliberalism and the collapse of the USSR

Like all analogies it far from being perfect.  Here are major objections:

  1. When the USSR collapsed neoliberal ideology was a clear alternative and the collapse of the USSR coincided with "triumphal march" of neoliberalism around the globe.  In a sense the USSR simply fall on the rails of the neoliberal train.
  2. Right now we do not see such a prominent alternative to the dominant neoliberal ideology, although it is clear that it is wrong and her promised are fake. Also neoliberalism  is still social system that is dominant globally. Not like Soviet Unit which existed in the hostile surrounding of major Western powers with their three letter agencies directly targeting this society, with huge money resources of Western financial system and the burning desire (especially by the US neoliberal elite, which came to power in 1980 ) to get rid of competition by any means possible. 
  3. While Trump administration remind in its incompetence Brezhnev administration, the gap is still tremendous. While Trump is definitely a third  rate politician, Gorbachov as a politician was a naive idiot, in comparison with whom Trump looks like a shrewd statesman (or, at least, a staunch nationalist.) Unless we assume that "Gorby" (cultivated by his handler Margaret Thatcher)  was a traitor (the version that became increasingly populate in post Soviet space after 1991). But the complete absence of political talent (Gorbachov came to power as a protégé of Andropov)  is still the primary suspect, because you should not assume sinister motives when incompetence is enough for the explanation of the events (  The Soviet collapse Contradictions and neo-modernisation ):

    The main charge that may be laid against Gorbachev as leader is that he lacked an effective strategy of statecraft: the mobilization of resources to make a country more self-confident, more powerful, more respected and more prosperous. Instead, Gorbachev frittered away the governmental capital accumulated by the Soviet regime, and in the end was unable to save the country which he had attempted to reform.

  4. Despite all difficulties the USA remains the owner of world reserve currency and the center of technological innovation (although in the later role it somewhat slipped). It military spending (which stimulate fundamental research) remains are the largest in the world. The country still remains the magnet for immigration from other countries.

Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich

There one, especially deep analogy between any neoliberal society and the USSR. Neoliberalism borrowed large part of its strategy and tactic of acquiring and maintaining power directly from  Marxism. Actually analogies with Marxism are to numerous to list. "Dictatorship of "free markets"" instead of dictatorship of proletariat. With the same idea that the intellectual "vanguard" recruited mainly from "Intelligentsia" (mainly right wing economists and philosophers of the  Mont Pelerin Society  created in `947 with the explicit goal to oppose socialism and Bolshevism) will drive steeple to the "bright future of all mankind" -- global neoliberal empire led by the USA. And that the end justifies the means.

In short, neoliberalism is a kind of "Trotskyism for rich." And it uses the same subversive tactics to get and stay in power, which were invented by Bolsheviks/Trotskyites. Including full scale use of intelligence agencies (during WWII Soviet intelligence agency -- NKDV -- rivaled the primary intelligence agencies of Nazi Germany -- Abwehr; CIA was by-and-large modeled on Abwehr  with Abwerh specialists directly participating in its creation ).  It also process the ideal of World Revolution -- with the goal of creating the global neoliberal empire. The neoliberal USA elite is hell-bent on this vision.

Like Trotskyism neoliberalism generally needs a scapegoat. Currently this role is served by Islamic fundamentalist movements.

Also like Bolshevism before, neoliberalism created its own "nomenklatura" -- the privileged class which exists outside the domain of capital owners. Which along with high level management and professionals include neoclassical academic economists. Who guarantee the level of brainwashing at the universities necessary for maintaining the neoliberal system.  This "creator class" fight for its self-preservation and against any challenges. Often quite effectively.

 Deification of markets (free market fundamentalism) like the idea of "dictatorship of proletariat" is "fools gold"

Yet another strong analogy is that the deification of markets much like the idea of "dictatorship of proletariat" is "fools gold". This fact was clearly established after the Great Recession, and one of the most succinct explanation of the stupidity of the idea of self-regulating market remains Karl Polanyi's famous book The Great Transformation.  Polanyi argued that the development of the modern state went hand in hand with the development of modern market economies and that these two changes were inextricably linked in history. And all talk about small state, state as "night watchman" are pure hypocrisy.  Like Marxism, neoliberalism really provides "the great transformation" because it both changes the human institutions and human morality. The latter in a very destructive way.  The book postulated that and "free market society" (where the function of social regulation is outsourced to the market forces)  is unsustainable because it is fatally destructive to human nature and the natural social contexts humans need to survive and prosper. 

Polanyi attempted to turn the tables on the orthodox liberal account of the rise of capitalism by arguing that “laissez-faire was planned”, whereas social protectionism was a spontaneous reaction to the social dislocation imposed by an unrestrained free market. He argues that the construction of a "self-regulating" market necessitates the separation of society into economic and political realms. Polanyi does not deny that the self-regulating market has brought "unheard of material wealth", but he suggests that this is too narrow a focus. The market, once it considers land, labor and money as "fictitious commodities" (fictitious because each possesses qualities that are not expressed in the formal rationality of the market), and including them "means to subordinate the substance of society itself to the laws of the market. This, he argues, results in massive social dislocation, and spontaneous moves by society to protect itself. In effect, Polanyi argues that once the free market attempts to separate itself from the fabric of society, social protectionism is society's natural response, which he calls the "double movement." Polanyi did not see economics as a subject closed off from other fields of enquiry, indeed he saw economic and social problems as inherently linked. He ended his work with a prediction of a socialist society, noting, "after a century of blind 'improvement', man is restoring his 'habitation.

But when 50 years passed and generation changed they manage to shove it down throat. Because the generation which experienced horrors of the Great Depression at this point was gone (and that include cadre of higher level management which still have some level of solidarity with workers against capital owners).

They were replaced with HBS and WBS graduates -- ready made neoliberals. Quit coup (in Simon Johnson terms) naturally  followed ( https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/05/the-quiet-coup/307364/ ) and we have hat we have.  In a sense neoliberalism and Managerialism ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Managerialism ) are closely related.

Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason—the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit—and, most of the time, genteel—oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders. When a country like Indonesia or South Korea or Russia grows, so do the ambitions of its captains of industry. As masters of their mini-universe, these people make some investments that clearly benefit the broader economy, but they also start making bigger and riskier bets. They reckon—correctly, in most cases—that their political connections will allow them to push onto the government any substantial problems that arise.

Neoliberalism in zombie state (which it entered after 2008) remains dangerous and is able to counterattack -- the US sponsored efforts of replacement of left regimes in LA with right wing neoliberal regimes were by-and-large successful. I two key LA countries neoliberalism successfully counterattacked and won political power deposing more left regimes (Brazil and Argentina ). That happened despite that this phase of neoliberal era has been marked by slower growth, greater trade imbalances, and deteriorating social conditions. In Latin America the average growth rate was lower by 3 percent per annum in the 1990s than in the 1970s, while trade deficits as a proportion of GDP are much the same. Contrary to neoliberal propaganda the past 25 years (1980–2005) have also characterized by slower progress on social indicators for the vast majority of low- and middle-income countries [compared with the prior two decades ( https://monthlyreview.org/2006/04/01/neoliberalism-myths-and-reality/ ) :

In an effort to keep growing trade and current account deficits manageable, third world states, often pressured by the IMF and World Bank, used austerity measures (especially draconian cuts in social programs) to slow economic growth (and imports). They also deregulated capital markets, privatized economic activity, and relaxed foreign investment regulatory regimes in an effort to attract the financing needed to offset the existing deficits. While devastating to working people and national development possibilities, these policies were, as intended, responsive to the interests of transnational capital in general and a small but influential sector of third world capital. This is the reality of neoliberalism.

The danger of the end of "cheap oil" for neoliberalism

The Soviet Union collapsed partially due to the fact that collapse of oil prices (which might be engineered event) deprived it of the ability to buy the necessary goods from the West (which at this point included grain, due to inefficiency of Soviet model of  large centralized state owned agricultural complexes).

In case of the USA an opposite situation might also serve as a trigger: as soon as oil cross, say, $80 dollar per barrel mark most Western economies slide in "secular stagnation" and that means growing discontent of lower 80% of population. Also as  globalization is inherently dependent on cheap hydrocarbons and disappearance of cheap oil will male the current international patterns of flow of goods across countries with China as world manufacture  open to review.  

This is the situation when the irresistible force of globalization hits the brick wall of high oil prices. Also high cost of hydrocarbons means "end of growth" (aka permanent stagnation), and neoliberalism financial schemes based on cheap credit automatically implode in the environment of slow of zero growth. So expect that the next financial crisis will shake neoliberalism stronger then the crisis of 2008.

A lot of debt becomes unplayable, if growth stagnates. That makes manipulation of GDP numbers the issue of political and economic survival because this is the method of "inspiring confidence".  And the temptation to inspire confidence is too great to resists. Exactly like it was in the USSR. 

It might well be that the consistent price of oil, say, over $120 is a direct threat to neoliberal project in the USA. Even with prices over $100 the major neoliberal economics  tend to enter the stage of "secular stagnation". It also makes the US military which is a large consumer of oil in the USA much more expensive to run and virtually doubles the costs of  neoliberal "wars for regime change", essentially curtailing neoliberal expansion.

Election of Trump is just testament that some part of the US elite is ready for "Hail Mary" pass just to survive.  The same is true about financiering of color revolutions, which as a new type of neoliberal conquests of other countries, also require a lot of cash, although not at the scale of "boots on the ground".

 Zombie stage of neoliberalism: the consequences of the situation when neoliberal ideology is already discredited

The implosion of the entire global banking/mortgage industry in 2008 has essentially delegitimized neoliberalism as an economic and social model which the U.S. has been pleased to espouse as the royal road to prosperity for decades. It signified the end of Washington Consensus.

At this point ideology of neoliberalism was completely discredited in a sense that promise prosperity for all via "free market" mechanisms. The whole concept of "free markets" is from now on is viewed as fake. Much like happened with bolshevism in the USSR.

It actually was viewed as fake after the Great Depression too, but the generation that remembered that died out and neoliberalism managed to perform its major coup d'état  in the USA in 1981. After trail balls in Chile and GB. 

Also its fake nature became evident to large part of global elite (which probably never have any illusions from the very beginning) as well, which is even more dangerous, a large part of upper middle class in many developing countries, the social strata from which "fifth column of neoliberal globalization" is typically recruited. 

Global neoliberal empire still is supported by pure military and financial power of the USA and its Western (and some Asian, such as Japan) allies as well as technological superiority of the West in general. So right now mainly ideological postulates of neoliberalism, especially as its "free market absolutism", started to be questioned.  And partially revised (the trend which is visible in increase financial regulation in most Western countries). So "self-regulation free market model proved to be niether self-regulating, not really really free -- it just transferred the cost of its blunders on the society at large.  This form of neoliberalism with the core ideology intact but with modified one of several postulates can be called post-neoliberalism or zombie neoliberalism. 

Rule of financial oligarchy like the rule of "nomenklatura" in the USSR is under increasing scrutiny

While indoctrination now reached almost all adult population,  there are some instances of resistance, especially among young people, who are insisting that casino capitalism isa act of violence against them and destruction of their future. And if it does not come to an end, what we might experience a mass destruction of human life if not  the planet itself. 

Both Obama and Trump proved to be masters of the "bait and switch" maneuver, but the anger of population did not dissipated and at some point still can explode.

Rule of financial oligarchy also gradually comes under some (although very limited) scrutiny in the USA. Some measures to restrict appetites of financial oligarchy were recently undertaken in Europe (bank bonuses limitations).

HFT and derivatives still remain off-reach for regulators despite JP Morgan fiasco in May 2012 in London branch. Trade loss was around two billions, decline of bank value was around $13bn (The Guardian) At this stage most people around the world realized that as Warren Buffett's right-hand man Charlie Munger quipped in his CNBC interview Trusting banks to self-regulate is like trusting to self-regulate heroin addicts. At the meeting of the Group of 20 (G20) heads of states in the spring of 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the death of “the Washington Consensus” — the famous list of market-liberalizing policy prescriptions that guided the previous 20 or 30 years of neoliberal expansion into third world countries  (Painter 2009).

Prominent economists in the United States and elsewhere pointed out that after decades of reform, market-liberalizing policies had not produced the promised benefits for either economic growth or social welfare of countries were those policies were applied (Stiglitz 2002, 2006; Rodrik 2006). These criticisms further undermined the legitimacy of neoliberal governance, exactly the same way as similar criticism undermined socialist model of the USSR and Eastern Europe. the probem is that while socialist experiment could be compared with the Western countries capitalism achivement, here there is no alternative model with which to compare.

Still a backlash directed at the USA is mounting even from the former loyal vassals. Even the UK elite starts to display the behavior that contradict its role of the US poodle. The atmosphere is which the USA is considered "guilty" of pushing though the throats of other countries a utopia that harmed them is a different atmosphere for the US oligarchy that the role of it accustomed to.

Everybody is now aware of the substantial costs that the modern financial system has imposed on the real economy and no amount of propaganda and brainwashing can hide this simple fact. It is questionable that the "financial innovations" of the last three-four decades can compensate for those huge costs and that they warrants those costs. Shocks generated within the financial system and transformation of economies imposed by international financial oligarchy as the core of neoliberal elite, implies that the rule of financial oligarchy creates negative externalities for societies and that some types of financial activities and some financial structures should be treated like an organized crime (as purely parasitic, extortionist type of players).

Still this stage preserves several attributes of previous stage and first of all push for globalization and aggressive foreign policy. While economic crisis of 2008 destroyed legitimacy of ideology of neoliberalism, neoliberalism as an ideology continue to exists as a cult, much like communism as an ideology continues to exist, despite the failure of the USSR. And being phony ideology from the very beginning, a smokescreen for  the revanchism of financial oligarchy, it still can be promoted by unrelenting propaganda machine of the same forces which put it into mainstream albeit with les efficiency.  

Rise of nationalism as the reaction on neoliberal globalization
much like it was a reaction on Brezhnev's stagnation in the USSR

While no viable alternatives emerged, and inertia is still strong, and G7 block with the USA as the head is still the dominant world power, the crash are now visible in the global neoliberalism facede.  Like in 20th failure the globalization and unrestrained financial markets (which produced the Great Depression)  the financial crisi of 2008 led to the dramic rise of nationalism, especially in Europe (France, Hundary, Ukraine). In some countries, such as Ukraine, the net result of neoliberal revolution was establishing  far right regime which has uncanny similarities to the régimes which came to power in 30th such as Franko regime in Spain.  The global neoliberal dominance as a social system still continues, it is just the central idea of neoliberalism, the fake idea of self-regulating market that was completely discredited by the crisis (it was discredited before during Great Depression, but the generation the remembered the lesson is now extinct (it looks like it takes approximately 50 years for humanity to completely forget the lessons of history ;-).

This rise of nationalism was also a feature of the USSR political space in 80th. Formally it was nationalist sentiments that buried the USSR.

Around the world, economists and policymakers now come to consensus that excessive reliance on unregulated financial markets and the unrestrained rule of financial oligarchy was the root cause of the current worldwide financial crisis. That created a more difficult atmosphere for the USA financial institutions to operate abroad. Several countries are now trying to limit role of dollar as the world currency (one of the sins Saddam Hussein paid the price).

Also internal contradictions became much deeper and the neoliberal regime became increasingly unstable even in the citadel of neoliberalism -- the USA. Like any overstretched empire it became hollow within with stretches on potholes ridden roads and decaying infrastructure visible to everyone. Politically, the Republican Party became a roadblock for any meaningful reform (and its radical wing -- the tea party even sending its representatives to Congress), the Party that is determined to rather take the USA the road of the USSR, then change its ideology. All this points to the fact that neoliberalism as an socio-economic doctrine is following the path of Bolshevism.

Neoliberal propaganda gradually lost effectiveness,
 and now  invokes internal protest and rejection much like Marxist propaganda in the USSR

Neoliberalism failed to fulfill its promises for the bottom 80% of population. They became more poorer, job security deteriorated, good jobs dissaper, and even McJobs are scare judging from the fact that Wall Mart and McDonalds are able to fully staff their outlets.  McJobs are jobs that does not provide a living wages.  Opiod epidemics reminds me epidemics of alcoholism int he USSR during Brezhnev period.  Cannabis legalization belong to the same trend.

But its media dominance of neoliberalism paradoxically continues unabated. And this is despite the fact that after the crisis of 2008, the notion that finance mobilizes and allocates resources efficiently, drastically reduces systemic risks and brings significant productivity gains for the economy as a whole became untenable. We can expect that like was the case with Catholicism in middle ages and Bolshevism in the USSR, zombie phase of neoliberalism can last many decades (in the USSR, "zombie" state lasted two decades, say from 1970 to 1991, and neoliberalism with its emphasis on low human traits such as greed and supported by military and economic power of the USA, is considerably more resilient then Bolshevism). As of 2013 it is still supported by elites of several major western states (such as the USA, GB, Germany, France), transnational capital (and financial capital in particular) and respective elites out of the sense of self-preservation. That means that is it reasonable to expect that its rule in G7 will continue (like Bolshevism rule in the USSR in 70th-80th) despite probably interrupted by bursts of social violence (Muslim immigrants in Europe are once such force).

In the US, for example, income and wealth inequality continue to increase, with stagnating middle-class earnings, reduced social mobility, and an allegedly meritocratic higher education system, generously supported by tax exemptions, has been turned into the system whose main beneficiaries are the children of the rich and successful. Superimposed on this class divide is an increasingly serious intergenerational divide, and increases level of unemployment of young people, which make social atmosphere somewhat similar to the one in Egypt, although the pressure from Muslim fundamentalists is absent.

More and more neoliberalism came to be perceived as a ruse intended to safeguard the interests of a malignantly narcissistic empire (the USA) and of rapacious multinationals. It is now more and more linked with low-brow cultural homogeneity, social Darwinism, encroachment on privacy, mass production of junk, and suppression of national sentiments and aspiration in favor of transnational monopolies. It even came to be associated with a bewildering variety of social ills: rising crime rates, unemployment, poverty, drug addiction, prostitution, organ trafficking, and other antisocial forms of conduct.

While ideology of neoliberalism is by-and-large discredited, the global economic institutions associated with its rise are not all equally moribund. For example, the global economic crisis of 2008 has unexpectedly improved the fortunes of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), an organization long famous for the neoliberal policy conditions attached to its loans that served to incorporate countries into a global neoliberal economic system. In 2008, a cascade of financial crises in Eastern Europe and Iceland fattened the IMF’s dwindling loan portfolio.

World Trade Organization (WTO), the key US-used and abused universal opener of markets to US corporations and investments is in worse shape then IMF, but still is able to enforce Washington concensus rules. The Doha round of negotiations is stalled, mostly due to irresolvable disputes between developed and developing countries. Consequently, the current crisis of neoliberalism raises many important questions about the future path of the current international institutions promoting the neoliberal order. But still Russia joined WTO in 2012 which means that this organization got a new lease of life.

The slide to "Neoliberalism in name only" under Trump

When ideology collapses the elite often reports to corporatism (and in extreme case to neo-fascism) That happened briefly in the USSR under Andropov, but he did not last long enough to establish a trend.

Trumps "bastard neoliberalism (neoliberalism without neoliberal globalization) mixed with economic nationalism can be called "neoliberalism in name only". Trump foreign economic policies lookmore and more more like an economic aggression, economic racket, then a an economic platform. Nonetheless, that "neoliberalism in name only" is still a powerful global "brand" which the U.S. seeks to maintain at all costs for macro geopolitical reasons (The Great Crash, 2008: A Geopolitical Setback for the West , Foreign Affairs)

The financial and economic crash of 2008, the worst in over 75 years, is a major geopolitical setback for the United States and Europe. Over the medium term, Washington and European governments will have neither the resources nor the economic credibility to play the role in global affairs that they otherwise would have played. These weaknesses will eventually be repaired, but in the interim, they will accelerate trends that are shifting the world's center of gravity away from the United States.

A brutal recession is unfolding in the United States, Europe, and probably Japan -- a recession likely to be more harmful than the slump of 1981-82. The current financial crisis has deeply frightened consumers and businesses, and in response they have sharply retrenched. In addition, the usual recovery tools used by governments -- monetary and fiscal stimuli -- will be relatively ineffective under the circumstances.

This damage has put the American model of free-market capitalism under a cloud. The financial system is seen as having collapsed; and the regulatory framework, as having spectacularly failed to curb widespread abuses and corruption. Now, searching for stability, the U.S. government and some European governments have nationalized their financial sectors to a degree that contradicts the tenets of modern capitalism.

Much of the world is turning a historic corner and heading into a period in which the role of the state will be larger and that of the private sector will be smaller. As it does, the United States' global power, as well as the appeal of U.S.-style democracy, is eroding.

The USSR war in Afghanistan and the rampant militarism of the US neoliberal empire:
you can do anything with bayonets, but you can't sit on them

The USSR occupation of Afghanistan was actually a trap created by Carter administration in order to weaken and possibly destroy  the USSR. They wanted that the USSR experienced its own Vietnam-style defeat.  As a side effect they created political Islam and Islam fundamentalist movement (exemplified by former CIA asset Osama bin Laden) that later bite them in the back.

The US elite got into this trap voluntarily after 9/11: first via occupations of  Afghanistan (the war continues to this day), then occupation of Iraq, Lybia and initiating "color revolution" (and train and supply Sunni Islam fundamentalists, along with KSA and Turkey) to depose Assad government in Syria.

The USA still remains the most powerful country in the world with formidable military, and still can dictate it will military for small countries in a classic sense --  in a sense that "might makes right". It still can afford to behave as a word hegemon and the only source of justice ignoring the UN and other International organization, unless it is convenient to them.

But there are costs attacked and in case of Iraq war they are already substantial (to the tune of several trillion dollars). While effects on the USA economy of those set of wars of managing and expanding its neoliberal empire (and repartitioning ME, securing oil access and repartitioning the region in favor of Israel regional interests)  are still in the future, military adventurism was a gravestone on many previous empires, which tend to overstretch themselves and this fasten thier final day. 

As Napoleon noted "You can do anything with bayonets, but you can't sit on them". having first class military weakns is not everything when you face gurilla resisance in occupied country. Running aggressive foreign policy on a discredited ideology and relying on blunt propaganda and false flag operations is a difficult undertaking as resistance mounts and bubble out in un-anticipated areas.

Ukraine is one recent example, when neoliberal color revolution, which was performed by few thousands trained by the West far right militants, including openly neo-fascist squads, led to civil war in the country. Syria is another case of unanticipated effects, as Russia did not want to repeat experience of Libya and intervened, interfering with the USA goal of establishing Sunni-based Islamist regime, subservant to KSA and Turkey, and/or dismembering the country and creating   several weak Sunny dominated statelets with jihadists in power, the situation which greatly  benefit Turkey and Israel.  Israel correctly consider secular Assad régime as a greater threat and major obstacle in annexation of Golan Heights and eliminating Hezbollah in Lebanon.  It would prefer weak islamist regimes, hopefully engaged in protracted civil war to Assad regime any time.

Unfortunately, the recent troika of "neoliberalized" countries -- Libya, Syria  and Ukraine --  were not probably a swan song of muscular enforcement of neoliberal model on other countries. While sponsored by the USA and allies anti-Putin putsch in Russia (aka "white revolution") failed, events in Libya and, especially,  Ukraine prove the neoliberalism still can launch and win offensives at relatively low, acceptable cost (via color revolutions mechanism ). The main cost carry the population of the target country which is plunged  into economic and political chaos, in most cases including the civil war.  

But in the USA those wars also somewhat backfire with broken domestic infrastructure, decaying bridges and angered, restless, and partially drugged by opioids  population.  As well as thousands of crippled young men healthcare for whom till end of their lives will cost large amount of money.

In such circumstances chances of raising to power of an openly nationalistic leader substantially increase. Which was already demonstrated quite convincingly by the election of Trump.

Conclusions

Analogy of current crisis of neoliberalism int he USA and the USSR collapse is demonstrably far from perfect. The USSR was always in far less favorable conditions   then USA, operating is a hostile environment encircled by Western powers interested in its demise; also the collapse of the USSR happened during "triumphal march of neoliberalism" which provided ready-made alternative to Brezhnev's socialism and stimulated the betrayal of Soviet nomenklatura of their old ideology and "switching ideological camps").  But the key to collapse of the USSR was   the collapse of Bolshevik's ideology, which has happened some time from 1945 to 1963.

Still it allows to point out some  alarming similarities. Which does not bode well for the USA future, if the hypothesis that the same fundamental forces are in play in both cases. In this sense the collapse of neoliberal ideology ("free market fundamentalism"), which happened in  2008 is a bad sign indeed. .

There is still a chance that the US elite proves to be flexible and manage to escape this "ideological mousetrap" by switching to some new ideology, but they are pretty weak, if we look at the quality of Trump administration and the personalities in the USA Congress. Some of them too closely correspond to the depiction of sociopaths to stay comfortable.  The same was true about certain parts of Soviet "nomenklatura", especially leaders of Komsomol (All-Union Leninist Young Communist League ), from which such questionable post-communist figures such a Khodorkovsky, in Russia (of "pipes and corpses" film fame), and Turchinov in Ukraine  later emerged.

The recent humiliation of the US representative in the UN Nikki Haley by Bolivian representative also suggest that neoliberal propaganda lost large part of its effectiveness and unilateral military actions by the USA are now questioned more effectively: Bolivian UN Rep Sacha Llorenti Blasts U.S. for Attacking Syria, Educates Nikki Haley on Iraq, UN & U.S. History

Llorenti’s fourteen minute address to the UNSC was a tour de force – a critique of unilateral military action by the U.S. (it violates the UN charter), an analysis of previous emotional appeals for urgent action (think Colin Powell in 2003), as well as a reminder of the United States’ long history of interventionism in Latin America. Llorenti also called the UNSC to task for its internal structure, which grants considerably more power upon its five permanent members than it does its ten non-permanent members.

It was a remarkable anti-imperialist display. Read a partial transcript and/or watch the full video below.

That closely corresponds to what had happened with Bolshevism ideology around 1980 -- when it became the source of jokes both inside the USSR and abroad.  Or a little bit later, if we remember "Tear down this wall!" -- a line from a speech made by US President Ronald Reagan in West Berlin on June 12, 1987. When  Paul Craig Roberts  claims that It Has Become Embarrassing To Be An American  that is a symptom of a problem, yet another symptom of the demise of neoliberal propaganda,  despite obvious exaggeration.

It would be  too much stretch to state that neoliberal and especially globalist propaganda is now rejected both by population within the USA (which resulted in defeat of Hillary Clinton -- an establishment candidates and election of the  "wild card" candidate  -- Donald Trump -- with clearly nationalistic impulses) and outside the USA. 

 


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[Feb 19, 2018] Russian Meddling Was a Drop in an Ocean of American-made Discord by AMANDA TAUB and MAX FISHER

Highly recommended!
Very weak analysis The authors completely missed the point. Susceptibility to rumors (now called "fake new" which more correctly should be called "improvised news") and high level of distrust to "official MSM" (of which popularity of alternative news site is only tip of the iceberg) is a sign of the crisis and tearing down of the the social fabric that hold the so social groups together. This first of all demonstrated with the de-legitimization of the neoliberal elite.
As such attempt to patch this discord and unite the US society of fake premises of Russiagate and anti-Russian hysteria look very problematic. The effect might be quite opposite as the story with Steele dossier, which really undermined credibility of Justice Department and destroyed the credibility o FBI can teach us.
In this case claims that "The claim that, for example, Mrs. Clinton's victory might aid Satan " are just s a sign of rejection of neoliberalism by voters. Nothing more nothing less.
Notable quotes:
"... It has infected the American political system, weakening the body politic and leaving it vulnerable to manipulation. Russian misinformation seems to have exacerbated the symptoms, but laced throughout the indictment are reminders that the underlying disease, arguably far more damaging, is all American-made. ..."
"... A recent study found that the people most likely to consume fake news were already hyperpartisan and close followers of politics, and that false stories were only a small fraction of their media consumption. ..."
Feb 18, 2018 | www.nytimes.com

That these efforts might have actually made a difference, or at least were intended to, highlights a force that was already destabilizing American democracy far more than any Russian-made fake news post: partisan polarization.

"Partisanship can even alter memory, implicit evaluation, and even perceptual judgment," the political scientists Jay J. Van Bavel and Andrea Pereira wrote in a recent paper . "The human attraction to fake and untrustworthy news" -- a danger cited by political scientists far more frequently than orchestrated meddling -- "poses a serious problem for healthy democratic functioning."

It has infected the American political system, weakening the body politic and leaving it vulnerable to manipulation. Russian misinformation seems to have exacerbated the symptoms, but laced throughout the indictment are reminders that the underlying disease, arguably far more damaging, is all American-made.

... ... ...

A recent study found that the people most likely to consume fake news were already hyperpartisan and close followers of politics, and that false stories were only a small fraction of their media consumption.

Americans, it said, sought out stories that reflected their already-formed partisan view of reality. This suggests that these Russians efforts are indicators -- not drivers -- of how widely Americans had polarized.

That distinction matters for how the indictment is read: Though Americans have seen it as highlighting a foreign threat, it also illustrates the perhaps graver threats from within.

An Especially Toxic Form of Partisanship

... ... ...

"Compromise is the core of democracy," she said. "It's the only way we can govern." But, she said, "when you make people feel threatened, nobody compromises with evil."

The claim that, for example, Mrs. Clinton's victory might aid Satan is in many ways just a faint echo of the partisan anger and fear already dominating American politics.

Those emotions undermine a key norm that all sides are served by honoring democratic processes; instead, they justify, or even seem to mandate, extreme steps against the other side.

Advertisement Continue reading the main story

In taking this approach, the Russians were merely riding a trend that has been building for decades. Since the 1980s , surveys have found that Republicans and Democrats' feelings toward the opposing party have been growing more and more negative. Voters are animated more by distrust of the other side than support for their own.

This highlights a problem that Lilliana Mason, a University of Maryland political scientist, said had left American democracy dangerously vulnerable. But it's a problem driven primarily by American politicians and media outlets, which have far louder megaphones than any Russian-made Facebook posts.

"Compromise is the core of democracy," she said. "It's the only way we can govern." But, she said, "when you make people feel threatened, nobody compromises with evil."

The claim that, for example, Mrs. Clinton's victory might aid Satan is in many ways just a faint echo of the partisan anger and fear already dominating American politics.

Those emotions undermine a key norm that all sides are served by honoring democratic processes; instead, they justify, or even seem to mandate, extreme steps against the other side.

[Feb 18, 2018] Unfortunately, These Atrocities Aren't Going to Stop by Patrick J. Buchanan

Those shootings is a sign of the crisis of the US society caused by neoliberalization. Collapse of moral norms. When a person is assumed to be a wolf to other person and greed is good.
Notable quotes:
"... it seems a common denominator of the atrocities to which we have been witness in recent years is that the perpetrators are nobodies who wish to die as somebodies. ..."
Feb 18, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
In a society of advanced decomposition and moral depravity, these perpetrators are nobodies who wish to die as somebodies

.... ... ...

In his case, the conscience was dead, or was buried beneath hatred, rage or resentment at those succeeding where he had failed. He had been rejected, cast aside, expelled. This would be his revenge, and it would be something for Douglas High and the nation to see -- and never forget.

Indeed, it seems a common denominator of the atrocities to which we have been witness in recent years is that the perpetrators are nobodies who wish to die as somebodies.

... ... ...

Some of these individuals who seek to "go out" this way take their own lives when the responders arrive, or they commit "suicide by cop" and end their lives in a shootout. Others, Cruz among them, prefer to star in court, so the world can see who they are. And the commentators and TV cameras will again give them what they crave: massive publicity.

And we can't change this. As soon as the story broke, the cameras came running, and we watched another staging of the familiar drama -- the patrol cars, cops in body armor, ambulances, students running in panic or walking in line, talking TV heads demanding to know why the cowards in Congress won't vote to outlaw AR-15s.

... ... ...

Another factor helps to explain what happened Wednesday: We are a formerly Christian society in an advanced state of decomposition.

Nikolas Cruz was a product of broken families. He was adopted. Both adoptive parents had died. Where did he get his ideas of right and wrong, good and evil? Before the Death of God and repeal of the Ten Commandments, in those dark old days, the 1950s, atrocities common now were almost nonexistent.


Steve S. February 16, 2018 at 4:13 pm

Here's a twist on the commentary: Not every ill-formed, life-hating psychopath in this country can go to Harvard School of Law, the halls of Congress or the Pentagon. Some are stuck in the lower classes.

The past, callous destruction by drones of whole wedding parties in Waziristan AND their rescuers raised no eyebrows under the Obama administration yet we we are appalled at a dozen and a half Americans getting wasted. When a culture shows that it does not value life, everyone 'gets it' eventually and incorporates that view into their own lives and communities. Ours is a culture of death. Banning guns won't change that. The psychopaths who own our media establish the narrative of what our culture is. The narrative is nihilism.

EarlyBird , says: February 16, 2018 at 6:52 pm
This has much to do with our culture of narcissism and spiritual hollowing out. It is the idea that I am The Most Important Human On Earth, the center of the universe, and any insult or injury to me simply can not be tolerated.

Narcissists are fragile. They have no coping mechanism when life doesn't give them what it "should" give them, or metes out tragedy or sadness, as it has a way of doing.

I am reminded of Christopher Dorner, the ex-LAPD officer who killed his instructor and his wife after having failed an exam, and going on a shooting spree, ending up being killed by SWAT in a cabin in the mountains above LA. He was not "insane." The letter he left behind exposed him as a narcissist who simply could not bear the insult to his "honor" for having been failed on an exam he had the "right" to pass.

I doubt this Cruz monster is a howling lunatic, either, but a spiritually dead ego-zombie whose only sense of meaning comes from anger and a sense of not being granted all he wanted and "deserved."

James , says: February 16, 2018 at 8:29 pm
I've read that there were enough red flags surrounding Nicholas Cruz to fill up Moscow's Red Square on parade day. In the face of multiple warnings, local law enforcement, the FBI, and the DOJ all failed to perform their due diligence in preventing this miscreant from falling through the cracks. You can have all the laws you want, stacked high and thick, but if you're not going to follow through on them, then what is the point?

You can ban guns and abolish the second amendment, but that will not address the moral sickness that is permeating the culture and giving shade to the depraved heart of human darkness or the sense of despair and hopelessness that life is at its material root, meaningless and hollow. We insist on calling out racism, bigotry, sexism, and violence, but if not grounded in God those values are not grounded in anything other than subjective emotion and preference. They are no more right, or good, or true than any inverse value and enforced only by those with the bigger gun. Indeed, this is the logical conclusion of progressive atheism with all its secular post-modern, post-truth, post-ethics moral relativism. Each person becomes a law unto themselves. And once we start shredding the Constitution in the name of safety and welfare, what then? Some slippery slopes are real. The only safe place without crime is a police state also without freedom of thought, conscience, expression, or movement.

Germany was the most educated country in Europe prior to WW 2. In the 19th century, European universities had driven God from their classrooms and were expounding the atheistic ideologies of Marxism, socialism, communism, anarchism, nihilism, Darwinism, etc In the slow march of time, these ideas came to fruition in the 20th making it the bloodiest century of the common era.

It was faith in God that gave us science, the enlightenment, and the foundation of democratic values. It was faith in God that ended slavery, racism, fought for civil rights, and founded almost all of our institutions of higher learning. It was faith in God that grounded our belief in human dignity and the value of life. Sure, great evil has been done by hypocrites in the name of Christianity but who is also first on the scene of a natural disaster with aid and relief, or working for improved medical care and clean water in third world countries, or working to end human trafficking? It is the true Christ followers who put their faith where their mouth is not some slimly politician or charlatan wearing a Christian mask. I would argue that America has become one of the most Biblically illiterate people in western civilization because we have pushed god from the public square, the school room, the university campus, much of the government and the military, as well as the board room, concomitant with an agenda to make those who believe in God a cultural exotica a bunch of anti-reason, anti-science, and anti-intellectual retrogrades to be treated with skeptical curiosity if not outright suspicion and hostility. Media touts every negative example and ignores all the good that doesn't fit the narrative.

We do this with great peril because we've seen what happens when this is done in history. The arc of history that visited ruin on Europe will surely bring it here in a hundred years' time or sooner. We're on the same path.

Geoff Guth , says: February 16, 2018 at 8:32 pm
Pearlbuck, who is going to pay for your school vaults? Republicans?

Do you seriously think Donald Trump is going to give back any of his tax cut to make schools safer?

Well, let's ask our President, shall we? Let's see. 9.2 billion in cuts for the Department of Education . Well that's sure going to fund your school vaults.

You strip mine the schools to hand assets to vultures and then blame the schools for not being secure enough. Rightist logic!

Firearm homicide rate per 100,000 in :

France: 0.21
USA: 3.60

That's 17 times as many people murdered in the US by firearms as France. 17 freaking times.

But by all means, carry on with your WHATABOUT WHATABOUT WHATABOUT!!!!!!!11111!!!!

JeffK , says: February 17, 2018 at 7:06 pm
I am a hunter and gun owner. I have more than one gun. I am not anti-gun. I even own an AR-style rifle.

I believe mass shooting atrocities will never go away completely. However .. I believe the onus of proposing a viable solution to REDUCE the number of mass shootings rests squarely on the Republican party and the NRA.

They are always the coalition of 'We offer our sincere prayers and condolences', 'Now is not the time to politicize this tragedy', and 'That shooting last week is old news, time to move on'.

This is a warning to The Republicans and the NRA. I believe the American public has just about had it with lack of legislation to address this horrible problem. The Republicans must develop proposals for real solutions. Some of these proposals will not sit well with a part of it's base. So be it.

These proposals must be sold to all American citizens and be followed up with legislation that is effective on achieving what was proposed. The Democrats will certainly join if workable solutions are proposed.

Right now The Democrats are incredibly energized. The last thing The Republicans need at this time is to energize them even more, and turn even more Independents against them. They also should be very concerned about stirring up the 50% of eligible voters that do not vote. And they should be really concerned about the Republican brand with the 18-25 year olds. Among them the Republicans are increasing seen as the party that caters to unreasonable gun nuts, and not the population in general.

Howlvis , says: February 17, 2018 at 7:43 pm
Pat is sinking deeper and deeper into dementia. Or he is simply a moron. No other developed country has this level of mass shootings, no other developed country has a rate of gun violence anywhere near what we have in this country. And yet not a word about reasonable gun restrictions, instead Pat the Righteous tells us about moral decay. If pornography can be regulated, restricted or banned, why not AK-15s?

[Feb 16, 2018] The Pathetic Inadequacy of the Trump Opposition The American Conservative by Paul Brian

Notable quotes:
"... Dancing With The Stars ..."
"... The Washington Post. ..."
"... Paul Brian is a freelance journalist. He has reported for BBC, Reuters, and Foreign Policy, and contributed to the Week, The Federalist, and others. He covered the fledgling U.S. alt-right at a 2014 conference in Hungary as well as the 2015 New Hampshire primary, and also made a documentary about his time living in the Republic of Georgia in 2012. You can follow him on Twitter @paulrbrian or visit his website www.paulrbrian.com . ..."
Feb 16, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The hawks and internationalists who set our house on fire don't now deserve the contract to rebuild it.

While it may have significant popular support, much of the anti-Trump "Resistance" suffers from a severe weakness of message. Part of the problem is with who the Resistance's leading messengers are: discredited neoconservative poltroons like former president George W. Bush, unwatchable alleged celebrities like Chelsea Handler, and establishment Republicans who routinely slash and burn the middle class like Senator Jeff Flake. Furthermore, what exactly is the Resistance's overriding message? Invariably their sermonizing revolves around vague bromides about "tolerance," diversity, unrestricted free trade, and multilateralism. They routinely push a supposed former status quo that was in fact anything but a status quo. The leaders of the Resistance have in their arsenal nothing but buzzwords and a desire to feel self-satisfied and turn back to imagined pre-Trump normality. A president like Donald Trump is only possible in a country with opposition voices of such subterranean caliber.

Remember when Trump steamrolled a crowded field of Republicans in one of the greatest electoral upsets in American history? Surely many of us also recall the troupes of smug celebrities and Bushes and Obamas who lined up to take potshots at Trump over his unacceptably cruel utterances that upset their noble moral sensibilities? How did that work out for them? They lost. The more that opposition to Trump in office takes the same form as opposition to him on the campaign trail, the more hypocritical and counterproductive it becomes. Further, the resistance to Trump's policies is coming just at the moment when principled opposition most needs to up its game and help turn back the hands of the Doomsday Clock. It's social conservatives who are also opposed to war and exploitation of the working class who have the best moral bona fides to effectively oppose Trump, which is why morally phrased attacks on Trump from the corporate and socially liberal wings of the left, as well as the free market and interventionist conservative establishment, have failed and will continue to fail. Any real alternative is going to have to come from regular folks with hearts and morals who aren't stained by decades of failure and hypocrisy.

A majority of Democrats now have favorable views of George W. Bush, and that's no coincidence. Like the supposedly reasonable anti-Trump voices on their side, Bush pops up like a dutiful marionette to condemn white supremacy and "nativism," and to reminisce about the good old days when he was in charge. Bush also lectures about how Russia is ruining everything by meddling in elections and destabilizing the world. But how convincing is it really to hear about multilateralism and respect for human rights from Bush, who launched an unnecessary war on Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and left thousands of American servicemen and women dead and wounded? How convincing is it when former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who famously remarked that an estimated half a million Iraqis dead from our 1990s sanctions was "worth it," haughtily claims that she's "offended" by Trump's travel ban ? "Offended" -- is that so, Madame Secretary? I have a feeling millions of Muslims in the Middle East may have also been "offended" when people like you helped inflame their region and turned it into an endless back-and-forth firestorm of conflict between U.S.-backed dictators and brutal jihadists, with everyone else caught in between.

Maybe instead of being offended that not everyone can come to America, people like Albright, Kerry, and Bush shouldn't have contributed to the conditions that wrecked those people's homes in the first place? Maybe the U.S. government should think more closely about providing military aid to 73 percent of the world's dictatorships? Sorry, do excuse the crazy talk. Clearly all the ruthless maneuvering by the U.S. and NATO is just being done out of a selfless desire to spread democratic values by raining down LGBT-friendly munitions on beleaguered populations worldwide. Another congressman just gave a speech about brave democratic principles so we can all relax.

Generally, U.S. leaders like to team up with dictators before turning on them when they become inconvenient or start to upset full-spectrum dominance. Nobody have should been surprised to see John Kerry fraternizing in a friendly manner with Syrian butcher Bashar al-Assad and then moralistically threatening him with war several years later, or Donald Rumsfeld grinning with Saddam Hussein as they cooperated militarily before Rumsfeld did an about-face on the naïve dictator based on false premises after 9/11. Here's former president Barack Obama shaking Moammar Gaddafi's hand in 2009 . I wonder what became of Mr. Gaddafi?

It's beyond parody to hear someone like Bush sternly opine that there's "pretty clear evidence" Russia meddled in the 2016 election. Even if that were deeply significant in the way some argue, Bush should be the last person anyone is hearing from about it. It's all good, though: remember when Bush laughed about how there hadn't been weapons of mass destruction in Iraq at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2004? It's all just a joke; don't you get it? (Maybe Saddam Hussein had already used all the chemical weapons the U.S. helped him get during the 1980s on Iran in the Iran-Iraq War, which killed over one million people by the time the coalition of the willing came knocking in 2003). That's the kind of thing people like Bush like to indirectly joke about in the company of self-satisfied press ghouls at celebratory dinners. However, when the mean man Mr. Trump pals around with Russian baddie Vladimir Putin, mistreats women, or spews out unkind rhetoric about "shitholes," it's far from a joke: it's time to get out your two-eared pink hat and hit the streets chanting in righteous outrage.

To be fair, Trump is worthy of opposition. An ignorant, reactive egotist who needs to have his unfounded suppositions and inaccuracies constantly validated by a sycophantic staff of people who'd be rejected even for a reality show version of the White House, he really is an unstable excuse for a leader and an inveterate misogynist and all the other things. Trump isn't exactly Bible Belt material despite his stamp of approval from Jerry Falwell Jr. and crew; in fact he hasn't even succeeded in getting rid of the Johnson Amendment and allowing churches to get more involved in politics, one of his few concrete promises to Christian conservatives. He's also a big red button of a disaster in almost every other area as commander-in-chief.

Trump's first military action as president reportedly killed numerous innocent women and children (some unnamed U.S. officials claim some of the women were militants) as well as a Navy SEAL. Helicopter gunships strafed a Yemeni village for over an hour in what Trump called a "highly successful" operation against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). A senior military official felt differently, saying that "almost everything went wrong." The raid even killed eight-year-old American girl Nawar al-Awlaki, daughter of previously killed extremist leader Anwar al-Awlaki, whose other innocent child, 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was also droned while eating outdoors at a restaurant in 2010 (with several friends and his 17-year-old cousin). The Obama administration dismissed Abdulrahman's death at the time as no big deal .

The list goes on with the Trump administration, a hollow outfit of Goldman Sachs operatives and detached industry and financier billionaires helping out their hedge fund friends and throwing a small table scrap to the peasants every now and then. As deformed babies are born in Flint, Michigan , Ivanka grandstands about paid parental leave . Meanwhile, Trump and Co. work to expand the war in Afghanistan and Syria. It's a sad state of affairs.

So who are the right voices to oppose the mango man-child and his cadre of doddering dullards? Not degenerate celebrities, dirty politicians of the past, or special interest groups that try to fit everyone into a narrow electoral box so mainline Democrats can pass their own version of corporate welfare and run wars with more sensitive rhetoric and politically correct messaging. Instead, the effective dissidents of the future will be people of various beliefs, but especially the pro-family and faith-driven, who are just as opposed to what came before Trump as they are to him. The future of a meaningful political alternative to the underlying liberalism, materialism, and me-first individualism on the left and right will revolve around traditionalists and pro-family conservative individuals who define their own destinies instead of letting themselves be engineered into destinies manufactured by multinational corporations and boardroom gremlins with diversity outreach strategies. It's possible, for example, to be socially conservative, pro-worker, pro-environment, and anti-war. In fact, that is the norm in most countries that exist outside the false political paradigm pushed in America.

If enough suburbanite centrists who take a break from Dancing With The Stars are convinced that Trump is bad because George W. Bush and Madeleine Albright say so, it shows that these people have learned absolutely nothing from Trump or the process that led to him. These kind of resistors are the people nodding their heads emphatically as they read Eliot Cohen talk about why he and his friends can't stomach the evil stench of Trump or Robert Kagan whine about fascism in The Washington Post. Here's a warning to good people who may not have been following politics closely prior to Trump: don't get taken in by these charlatans. Don't listen to those who burned your town down as they pitch you the contract to rebuild it. You can oppose both the leaders of the "Resistance" and Trump. In fact, it is your moral duty to do so. This is the End of the End of History As We Know It, but there isn't going to be an REM song or Will Smith punching an alien in the face to help everyone through it.

Here's a thought for those finding themselves enthusiastic about the Resistance and horrified by Trump: maybe, just maybe , the water was already starting to boil before you cried out in pain and alarm.

Paul Brian is a freelance journalist. He has reported for BBC, Reuters, and Foreign Policy, and contributed to the Week, The Federalist, and others. He covered the fledgling U.S. alt-right at a 2014 conference in Hungary as well as the 2015 New Hampshire primary, and also made a documentary about his time living in the Republic of Georgia in 2012. You can follow him on Twitter @paulrbrian or visit his website www.paulrbrian.com .


Fran Macadam February 16, 2018 at 1:14 pm

Trump is definitely a castor oil antidote. But if not him, then them.
Frank , says: February 16, 2018 at 1:19 pm
Now this is TAC material!
Kent , says: February 16, 2018 at 1:48 pm
"The future of a meaningful political alternative to the underlying liberalism, materialism, and me-first individualism on the left and right will revolve around traditionalists and pro-family conservative individuals who define their own destinies instead of letting themselves be engineered into destinies manufactured by multinational corporations and boardroom gremlins with diversity outreach strategies."

They will have to lose their faith in "Free Market God" first. I don't believe that will happen.

Aaron Paolozzi , says: February 16, 2018 at 2:56 pm
I enjoyed the heat. The comments made are on point, and this is pretty much what my standard response to reactionary trump dissidents are. Trump is terrible, but so is what came before him, he is just easier to dislike.

Keep it coming.

One Guy , says: February 16, 2018 at 3:16 pm
Even with inadequate opposition, Trump has managed to be the most unpopular president after one year, ever. I'm guessing this speaks to his unique talent of messing things up.
RVA , says: February 16, 2018 at 4:11 pm
Wow! Paul! Babylon burning. Preach it, brother! Takes me back to my teenage years, Ramparts 1968, as another corrupt infrastructure caught fire and burned down. TAC is amazing, the only place to find this in true form.

Either we are history remembering fossils soon gone, or the next financial crash – now inevitable with passage of tax reform (redo of 2001- the rich got their money out, now full speed off the cliff), will bring down this whole mass of absolute corruption. What do you think will happen when Trump is faced with a true crisis? They're selling off the floorboards. What can remain standing?

And elsewhere in the world, who, in their right mind, would help us? Good riddance to truly dangerous pathology. The world would truly become safer with the USA decommissioned, and then restored, through honest travail, to humility, and humanity.

You are right. Be with small town, front porch, family and neighborhood goodness, and dodge the crashing embers.

The Flying Burrito Brothers: 'On the thirty-first floor a gold plated door
Won't keep out the Lord's burning rain '

God Bless.

Donald , says: February 16, 2018 at 5:50 pm
I agree with Frank. This was great.

The depressing thing to me is how hard it is to get people to see this. You have people who still think Trump is doing a great job and on the other side people who admire the warmongering Resistance and think Hillary's vast experience in foreign policy was one of her strengths, rather than one of the main reasons to be disgusted by her. Between the two categories I think you have the majority of American voters.

[Feb 15, 2018] The oligarchy's desire to turn the clock back to 'the good old days' knows no bounds -- they want it all and they want it know; they're absolute ideal state for all us ordinary types would be a return to feudalism, so I guess bringing back slavery, all be it with a shiny new coat of point, is pretty much to be expected...

Feb 15, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Rich | Feb 14, 2018 9:33:46 AM | 9

The oligarchy's desire to turn the clock back to 'the good old days' knows no bounds  --  they want it all and they want it know; they're absolute ideal state for all us ordinary types would be a return to feudalism, so I guess bringing back slavery, all be it with a shiny new coat of point, is pretty much to be expected...

Once upon a time many, many years ago in the land of Anywhere, in a world long since forgotten, there was, at one time, a kind of Golden Age. It was not, it has to be said, an age that was Perfect but it was agreed by almost all that it was an age that was much, much better than That Which Had Gone Before. That time is best described by quoting from a well-known article historical document contemporaneous to the period

' after Generations Of Struggle against Social Injustice and two Catastrophic And Immensely Bloody Wars with the nearby land of Anotherplace, in which the Ordinary Folk had died and suffered to a catastrophic degree, it was decided by all except the Rapaciously Rich that Things Had To Change.

From that point on, Ordinary Folk were given access to Free Education, Free Healthcare, Pensions, Benefits to help those who fell upon Hard Times and all the advantages of what you would know in your world as a Welfare System. New taxes were introduced to redistribute some of the vast sums of money accumulated (mostly from Stealing, Cheating and Aggressive Tax Avoidance) by the Wealthy and the Aristocracy (known in the land of Anywhere as The Greedy One Percent) over the years and Political Reforms introduced to break their stranglehold over the Political And Economic Life of the country. Additionally, the Right to Vote was given to all.

And the land of Anywhere blossomed, for it was found that a populace Free From Hunger And Illness, that was properly Educated and Cared For, produced huge numbers of Talented men and women who previously had Languished due to Poverty And Lack of Opportunity. These Talented men and women drove the land of Anywhere to new heights of success, founding businesses, employing people, making a mark in the worlds of politics, science, medicine and culture. Slowly but surely, the Dead Grip of The Greedy One Percent, who had dominated and controlled the land of Anywhere for as long as anyone could remember, was broken.'

And the psychopathic Greedy One Percent, the Devil's Children, hated this new world, this New Bargain and Better Society, and all it stood for. They vowed to destroy it

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078L8K9H3

[Feb 15, 2018] Some people think major cities are controlled by the Globalists.

Feb 15, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Trump lost in large cities.
May lost in major cities, the Anti-Brexit folks won instead.
The globalists have their tight grip on virtually every major city in the world.
They want megacities, logistic cities etc. in the world.

The globalists have had enough with America. (Trump wasn't happy so he wants to make it great again) The globalists made their money through capitalism, now they need Bitnation, blockchain (as a state, govt, you can no longer own citizens and print money because they'll be the citizens of Bitnation and they'll mine their own money) there will be home-made gold soon, they want middlemen eliminated, they sell you products without owning any stores (Amazon, Alibaba) they can transport you a-b without owning any vehicles (Uber) they control the media without employing any correspondents (facebook, youtube, twitter, instagram etc.) they don't need any banknotes (Trump=dollar), they want AI, they want Human 2.0, (first one was created by God and the new one will be fathered by the globalists) they want transhumanism, IOT, they want robots and female/male robots and marriage with robots, they want to produce economy and technology but they are not interested in the hearts and minds of the human beings, when you are thirsty they'll give you filtered seawater, hungry? they'll give you GMO food, the Chinese had sweatshops but now they have workshops manufacturing electronics, nothing has changed for them really, now they have 1 belt 1 road via logistic cities, trains to Tibilisi, then to the world's largest airport in Istanbul, people need peace and tranquility but the globalists have sold you the idea of 'happiness', they want LGBT, children with 2-3 mothers, Trump hates Obama's toilets, they want covert ops and proxies (Katie Perry has 60 million followers mostly fake and why is that? Because she's rigged for a future suicide bombing case, she'll say "I have seen a UFO" or "I made millions out of BTC" or whatever role is assigned to her) but Trump is conventional, he wants the US armed forces mobilized and wants them to face the country A-B-C straightforward like in the olden days, he has the soldiers and oil barons with him, a war cabinet... And the story goes on and on...

We are in 21st century.

Trump = Guns+Oil, KKK, Evangelists (Zionist Christians)...
The real America however belongs to = Finance capital + Technology = Globalists

We have to take all those above to see what's going on around us.

IMHO

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Feb 13, 2018 5:41:15 PM | 64

[Feb 07, 2018] When the rest of the world's wages go up to six dollar per hour and the USA come down to six dollar per hour, globalization will end

Notable quotes:
"... Things "should" be made locally. There's no reason, especially with declining energy resources, that a toaster should be shipped from thousands of miles away by boat, plane, truck, rail. That's simply ridiculous, never mind causing a ton of extra pollution. We end up working at McDonald's or Target, but, yay, we just saved $5.00 on our toaster. ..."
"... I don't know how you know about the so-called safety net. I know because I had to use it while undergoing treatment for 2 types of stage 4 breast cancer the past 4 years. It is NOT what people think. It beats the already vulnerable into the ground -- -- this is not placating -- -- it is psychological breaking of human minds until they submit. The paperwork is like undergoing a tax audit -- - every 6 months. "Technicians" decide one's "benefits" which vary between "technicians". ..."
"... Food stamps can be $195 during one period and then $35 the next. The technicians/system takes no responsibility for the chaos and stress they bring into their victims' lives. It is literally crazy making. BTW: I am white, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, have a masters' degree, formerly owned my own business and while married lived within the top 10%. ..."
"... In addition, most of those on so-called social programs are children, the elderly, chronically ill, veterans. You are correct that the middle class is falling into poverty but you are not understanding what poverty actually looks like when the gov holds out its beneficial hand. It is nothing short of cruelty. ..."
Feb 07, 2018 | consortiumnews.com
Cold N. Holefield , February 5, 2018 at 4:09 pm

Yes, but increasingly there is no "working class" in America due to outsourcing and automation.

I hear that Trump wants to reverse all of that and put children to work in forward-to-the-past factories (versus back-to-the-future) and mines working 12 hours a day 7 days a week as part of his Make America Great Again initiative.

With all the deregulation, I can't wait to start smoking on airplanes again. Those were great times. Flying bombs with fifty or more lit fuses in the form of a cigarette you can smoke. The good old days.

backwardsevolution , February 5, 2018 at 5:50 pm

Cold N. Holefield -- it's like Ross Perot said re NAFTA and globalization: "When the rest of the world's wages go up to $6.00/hour and our's come down to $6.00/hour, globalization will end." That's what's happening, isn't it? Our wages are being held down, due in large part to low-skilled labor and H-1B's flooding into the country, and wages in Asia are rising. I remember Ross Perot standing right beside Bill Clinton when he said this, and I also remember the sly smile on Bill Clinton's face. He knew.

Our technology was handed to China on a silver platter by the greedy U.S. multinationals, technology that was developed by Western universities and taxpayer dollars, technology that would have taken decades for China to develop on their own.

Trump is trying desperately to bring some of these jobs back. That's why he handed them huge corporate tax breaks and cut some regulations.

Things "should" be made locally. There's no reason, especially with declining energy resources, that a toaster should be shipped from thousands of miles away by boat, plane, truck, rail. That's simply ridiculous, never mind causing a ton of extra pollution. We end up working at McDonald's or Target, but, yay, we just saved $5.00 on our toaster.

Trump is trying to cut back on immigration so that wages can increase, but the Left want to save the whole world, doing themselves in in the process. He wants to bring people in with skills the country can benefit from, but for that he's tarred and feathered.

P.S. I remember sitting behind a drunk on a long flight, and I saw him drop his cigarette. It rolled past me like it knew where it was going, and I couldn't find it. I called the stewardess, and she and I searched for a few anxious seconds until we found it. Yes, the good old days.

Diana Lee , February 6, 2018 at 3:16 pm

I don't know how you know about the so-called safety net. I know because I had to use it while undergoing treatment for 2 types of stage 4 breast cancer the past 4 years. It is NOT what people think. It beats the already vulnerable into the ground -- -- this is not placating -- -- it is psychological breaking of human minds until they submit. The paperwork is like undergoing a tax audit -- - every 6 months. "Technicians" decide one's "benefits" which vary between "technicians".

Food stamps can be $195 during one period and then $35 the next. The technicians/system takes no responsibility for the chaos and stress they bring into their victims' lives. It is literally crazy making. BTW: I am white, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, have a masters' degree, formerly owned my own business and while married lived within the top 10%.

In addition, most of those on so-called social programs are children, the elderly, chronically ill, veterans. You are correct that the middle class is falling into poverty but you are not understanding what poverty actually looks like when the gov holds out its beneficial hand. It is nothing short of cruelty.

backwardsevolution , February 6, 2018 at 4:48 pm

Diana Lee -- I hope you are well now. It breaks my heart what you went through. No, I cannot imagine.

I didn't mean the lower class were living "well" on food stamps and welfare. All I meant was that it helped, and without it all hell would break loose. If you lived in the top 10% at one point, then you would surely notice a difference, but for many who have been raised in this environment, they don't notice at all. It becomes a way of life. And, yes, you are right, it is cruelty. A loss of life.

[Feb 07, 2018] Due to automation, offshoring and transnational communications/internet, the elitists no longer need a large domestic underclass of undocumented workers to artificially lower wages

Feb 07, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

Daniel , February 5, 2018 at 7:11 pm

Due to automation, offshoring and transnational communications/internet, the elitists no longer need a large domestic underclass of undocumented workers to artificially lower wages. That is likely the reason that every Administration since Slick Willy have sought to reduce illegal immigration.

After all, it was the Obama Administration that deported more undocumented immigrants than any other in history, and it was in those years after the 2008 economic crash that saw net migration from Mexico hit zero, or even negative numbers.

What the MSM is telling us is that the Trump Administration is more draconian in carrying out practices that have been US policy for decades. That might even be true.

backwardsevolution , February 6, 2018 at 6:53 pm

Daniel -- " the elitists no longer need a large domestic underclass of undocumented workers to artificially lower wages."

Oh, sure, that's why corporations and the Chambers of Commerce are fighting so hard to keep chain migration, legal and illegal immigration numbers up! Because they don't need them. Yeah, right.

And technology companies are clamoring for more H-1B's so they can pay them less.

Come on, Daniel.

Daniel , February 7, 2018 at 12:22 am

backward,
Please provide evidence that the "Chambers of Commerce are fighting so hard.." Please try to keep your rebuttal to my statement that "elitists no longer need a large domestic underclass of undocumented workers" and not various forms of legal migration. Because I do agree that there is a market for "skilled labor" who are legal. Part off the reason for this labor market is the drop in STEM-educated USAmericans.

Meanwhile, I spent 30 seconds to find proof that what I wrote about net migration was true in 2012 and 2015.
h
http://www.pewhispanic.org/2012/04/23/net-migration-from-mexico-falls-to-zero-and-perhaps-less/

http://www.pewhispanic.org/2015/11/19/more-mexicans-leaving-than-coming-to-the-u-s/h

Cold N. Holefield , February 5, 2018 at 4:16 pm

I'm afraid the population has been so thoroughly incapacitated via a Dumbing Down Education System coupled with 24/7 Media Misinformation and the Stultifying Effects of Social Media that there will be no Revolution. Instead, it looks like it will be a steady capitulation and acquiescence of personal sovereignty all the way to the Gas Chambers and no doubt when or if that time comes, there will be an a nifty Application from Silicon Valley to guide you through your Final Processing.

backwardsevolution , February 5, 2018 at 5:18 pm

Cold N. Holefield -- a "Dumbing Down Education System", but also lots of benefits on the lower end: food stamps, disability, subsidized housing, free cell phones, etc. If these things were removed (no, I'm not saying they should be), things would be completely different. There'd be a riot in a fortnight.

If your stomach is empty, it doesn't really matter how dumbed down you've become, you are going to feel fear and react. That's why they keep the lower end placated.

It is the middle class who is slipping down into the lower class, and these are the people who are getting angry and fearful, mainly for their children. Those people have actually lost something.

[Jan 28, 2018] "Globalism", so called, is the opening of doors in target nations to predatory capitalism, disaster capitalism, the economic part of the John Perkins playbook

Jan 28, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Concerning the discussion on "globalism" - and please excuse me if I've missed prior discussion, I wasn't following that point back in the last thread - this word as used today essentially is referring to neoliberal economic policies, which are the handmaiden of neocon "war & plunder" policies. Both doctrines walk hand in hand. The so-called "free trade agreements" remove barriers not so much against free trade as against corporate regulation - this is the whole point of them. The TPP agreement that Trump withdrew from was the most vile such agreement ever yet proposed.

"Globalism", so called, is the opening of doors in target nations to predatory capitalism, disaster capitalism, the economic part of the John Perkins playbook. As corporatism gains strength in a nation, fascism as Mussolini defined it (i.e. as corporatism) becomes the reality. Maybe the word meant something good once, I don't know. But it stands for everything bad now.

Posted by: Grieved | Jan 27, 2018 8:11:18 PM | 19


Peter AU 1 , Jan 27, 2018 8:22:23 PM | 21

@ Grieved
Globalism is also blogs like this.
Globalism has been turned into a dirty word as it has been used, same as colour revolutions ect, but I suspect it will also help bring down corporate globalism.
For me, in the latter part of my life, it has brought great interest for cultures and people that are different to my own upbringing.
dh , Jan 27, 2018 8:44:45 PM | 23
@21 Nationalism is seen as narrow, regressive and responsible for conflict. It's only acceptable at sporting events. (Turks and Kurds haven't got the message yet.) Globalism is seen as progressive. One world government is supposed to bring peace and prosperity to all. Of course there are all kinds of racial and religious contradictions but the basic choice is looking backwards or forwards.
Peter AU 1 , Jan 27, 2018 9:00:24 PM | 24
dh 23

Nationalism, globalism, sovereignty.
There is a word missing. Sovereignty does not seem to cover it but is the closest I can find.

This is the wikipedia definition of sovereignty.. "Sovereignty is the full right and power of a governing body over itself, without any interference from outside sources or bodies. In political theory, sovereignty is a substantive term designating supreme authority over some polity.[1] It is a basic principle underlying the dominant Westphalian model of state foundation."

Also similar to nationalism.

What is the correct word or term for full sovereignty plus respect for other countries and cultures?


Peter AU 1 , Jan 27, 2018 9:38:22 PM | 28
globalisation - the information highway (apart from road blocks) - a place where a shitkicker from the mad monks anglosphere (oz) can converse or argue with people from all round the world.
bevin , Jan 27, 2018 9:42:05 PM | 29
"Well, with regard to Germany, the EU project was the longest period of peace for the last 200 years. Same for France." somebody writes.

France and Germany have both been at war several times since the EU came into being. Of course being US satraps, under NATO, they haven't fought each other.

As to Germany its existence, as a state, begins in 1870 and, in the past 150 years has gone through several revolutionary changes, such as Anschluss, the Allied Occupation regime and the Bundesrepublik-Democratic Republic interlude.
And then there are the border changes which, over the period are dramatic.
The point is that this cant apology for the EU is cheap and demagogic.
Any defence of the EU has to begin with a justification of its two cardinal objects: Wall St forged neoliberalism and Pentagon directed policies designed to advance US geo-strategy

Grieved , Jan 27, 2018 9:43:14 PM | 30
Seems like a discussion on semantics - rocky ground.

Putin once set up two words to explain a thing. He said that patriotism was love of one's country. Nationalism was hatred of other countries. Great set of concepts, but there's no real consensus of the meaning of those two words, in any group of people you could assemble at random.

Important to agree on concepts and be wary of words when they're not solidly established in a broad and functional consensus.

My apologies. I thought "globalism" as I described it was commonly held ground, but it's not. I respectfully withdraw from the discussion, leaving disaster capitalism as the great enemy, and global fraternity and exchange as the great friend of the ordinary people of the whole world.

The words for all this I leave to others to establish. My apologies again for butting in.

dh , Jan 27, 2018 9:52:41 PM | 32
@30 Nothing to apologize for Grieved. The term 'globalism' means different things to different people. Some see is as paradise on earth ....some see it as a subtle form of hegemony.
les7 , Jan 27, 2018 10:39:47 PM | 38
@33 So many of the terms we use today are profoundly affected by the dilemma that Nietzsche described in his statement (I paraphrase): 'God is dead, we have killed him. And no amount of water can wash the blood from our hands'

This was not a statement of triumph, rather of despair. In the loss of the divine as the source of morality, Nietzsche anticipated that people would invest that authority in other structures - including the state (Nazi-ism, Marxism), the military, economics ('free-market' capitalism) etc.

The loyalists in each of those 'causes' would see all their associated terms positively, just like all adherents of religious systems. Those outside, or those who suffered abuse at their hands, see those terms quite differently.

So Nationalism can be positive (as in pride in the legitimate achievements of your country) or negative (where the people ascribe to the state/nation/race the right to define what is morally right) where the nation has God-like authority to remove from whole classes of people all their rights - even the right to life.

Wikipedia (under types of government) slices and dices your options when it comes to political terms for the ruling elite. Two stand out to me, with the second suffering from an unrecognisable name:

Plutocracy: Rule by the wealthy; a system wherein governance is indebted to, dependent upon or heavily influenced by the desires of the rich

Ochlocracy: Rule by the crowd; a system of governance where mob rule is government by mob or a mass of people, or the intimidation of legitimate authorities. As a pejorative for majoritarianism, it is akin to the Latin phrase mobile vulgus meaning "the fickle crowd", from which the English term "mob" was originally derived in the 1680s. Ochlocratic governments are often a democracy spoiled by demagoguery, "tyranny of the majority" and the rule of passion over reason; such governments can be as oppressive as autocratic tyrants. Ochlocracy is synonymous in meaning and usage to the modern, informal term "mobocracy".

Personally, when it comes to describing the state of affairs in the empire, I lean toward a despotic corporatism as being the best description. Others may prefer militarism over corporatism, but when the two forces (the corporate and the military) unify you get fascism.

Again, this is just how I, at this time, understand it.

Jonathan , Jan 27, 2018 10:42:38 PM | 40
@36 Peter AU 1,

Liberal democracy is not democratic. Let us stop lying, and dispense with the false narrative that granting anyone a term of office in which they can steal from the commons and not be immediately fired or even killed is anything remotely "cratic". It's feudalism, plain and simple, and those who defend it are typically of a class long known to be problematic.

les7 , Jan 27, 2018 10:42:44 PM | 41
the wiki link
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_forms_of_government
james , Jan 28, 2018 12:03:23 AM | 45
interesting conversation on globalism and etc....

i think the big challenge for the world is letting economics trump the environment... until that changes, we're in trouble.. maybe it doesn't have to be an either/or thing... i do think corporate power and the various trade deals (tpp - canada has bought into this with mexico, so tpp is still happening, although the usa is not presently a part of it) are mostly about ignoring local or national laws or trying to over-ride them so that corporations can have all the power.. les7 calls something like this "despotic corporatism", but i mostly think of it as just plain corporatism.. it is all despotic...

well, i feel the same way about the accumulation of ridiculous amounts of wealth in the hands of a few as well.. how can this happen when people are struggling to survive on the planet? do these people have no sense of shame? apparently not! they go about their business accruing wealth oblivious to the pain and suffering they are directly, or indirectly inflicting on others.. then there are those types who realize what they have done and try to make amends by changing their ways and staring foundations - gates foundation and etc. etc... to me, why not just not fuck people over, instead of thinking you have to trample on others to get ahead and that the universe can only be seen as a dog eat dog universe? well, i can't change others, i can only change myself and do what i feel good about and can live with.. thanks for the conversation..

@ 42 john gilberts.. canada continues to go down the wrong road, being sucked into the made in the us bs.. freeland is a warmonger, with undisclosed financial support from soros to continue the war on russia and etc. etc.. i can't believe we are that stupid to have such a women is such a prominent role here in canada... anyone would be better..

nottheonly1 , Jan 28, 2018 1:18:37 AM | 46
Needless to say that there is only one me and I am grateful that b has deleted the fake ones. Although it is known in car design that plagiarism is a form of admiration, in
my case it was the cheap attempt to soil my name. Ironically, the only people that believe that they could succeed with this kind of gas lighting have an IQ that is surpassed by the
shoe size of their little feet.

Allow me to contribute in regards to Nationalism. Having been born in a country that was once ruled by a "National Socialist" party, I needed to find out more about what had caused Nationalism to go rogue and destroy the Nation it emanated from.

Stories by family members did provide some answers, but we're insufficient at best, since no one had seen it coming this way.

Then I discovered the lecture by J. Krishnamurti about Nationalism. My own parents were toddlers when Krishnamurti spoke about Nationalism in Argentina in 1935.

The time spent listening to this speech was the best spent time ever in regards to finding answers. While I have the speech on my computer, I will link here to the Krishnamurti repository where all of his speeches can be found.

Krishnamurti">http://www.jkrishnamurti.org/krishnamurti-teachings/view-text.php?tid=271&chid=4601&w=nationalism">Krishnamurti on Nationalism.

In an extremely ironic and the saddest way, his words about Nationalism were absolutely prophetic. The transition from 'National Identity' to deadly Nationalism is fleeting.

Humanity has not been able to overcome Nationalism and struggles with the concept of 'sovereignty', as it appears to be dependent on Nationalism and not National identity.

Imo, sovereignty can only arise from Interdependence. The acknowledgement of Interdependence at the root of sovereignty will allow for a National identity, that would not resort to Nationalism and its cancerous degeneration into a murderous, inhumane tragedy.

nottheonly1 , Jan 28, 2018 1:27:59 AM | 47
My comment was dismembered. This is the correct link:

Krishnamurti on Nationalism

Auto correct is sabotage...

V. Arnold , Jan 28, 2018 2:00:56 AM | 48
nottheonly1 | Jan 28, 2018 1:27:59 AM | 47

Thanks for the Krishnamurti link.
I've read 7 or 8 of his books.
I've found his teachings to be profound.

[Jan 28, 2018] Trump Makes Nice With Elites He Previously Scorned at Davos Critic's Notebook by Frank Scheck

Notable quotes:
"... We support free trade, but it needs to be fair," he chided. "It needs to be fair and it needs to be reciprocal." He went on to announce his support for "mutually beneficial, bilateral trade agreements with all countries, ..."
Jan 28, 2018 | www.hollywoodreporter.com

The president tries to sell business tycoons and world leaders on his "America First" policy and sounds like a small-town mayor wooing Walmart to open a store in his community.

... ... ...

"I'm here to represent the interests of the American people," he began, ignoring the fact that the majority of the American people don't want him representing their interests. "America hopes for a future in which everyone can prosper," he said, describing the American dream as "a great job, a safe home and a better life for their children." All true, but right now there are also plenty of Americans dreaming of a president who won't embarrass them.

... ... ...

Trump naturally brought his patented "America First" routine to the august gathering, but he was less belligerent about it than usual, almost conciliatory. "As president of the United States I will always put America first," he said. "But America first does not mean America alone," he added, as the audience of business tycoons and international leaders breathed a sigh of relief. Of course, Trump wasn't yet done rebuking them. " We support free trade, but it needs to be fair," he chided. "It needs to be fair and it needs to be reciprocal." He went on to announce his support for "mutually beneficial, bilateral trade agreements with all countries, " even hinting at rejoining TPP. That Donald, he's such a tease.

[Jan 14, 2018] Trump Stumped As Bannon-Backed Roy Moore Wins Alabama Republican Primary By Landslide

Bannon backed candidate later lost. So much for this Bannon "success".
This idea of Trump playing 6 dimensional chess is a joke. It's the same explanation that was pushed for Obama disastrous neocon foreign policy. Here is one very apt quote: "What Trump has done are disasters, and equates to treason. Selling billions of dollars of weapons the our enemies the terrorists/Saudis, killing innocent people in Syria, and Yemen, sending more troops to Afghanistan..." What 6-dimetional chess?
According to Occam razor principle the simplest explanation of Trump behaviour is probably the most correct. He does not control foright policy, outsourcing it to "generals" and be does not pursue domestic policy of creating jobs as he promised his electorate. In other words, both in foreign policy and domestic policy, he became a turncoat, betraying his electorate, much like Obama. kind of Republican Obama.
And as time goes by, Trump looks more and more like Hillary II or Republican Obama. So he might have problems with the candidates he supports in midterm elections. His isolationism, if it ever existed, is gone. Promise of jobs is gone. Detente with Russia is gone. What's left?
Note the level disappointment of what used to be Trump base in this site comment section...
Notable quotes:
"... In a serious rebuke for President Trump (and perhaps moreso for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell), ousted judge and alt-right favorite Roy Moore has won the Alabama Republican Primary by a landslide ..."
"... The Steve Bannon-backed candidate, who defied court orders to remove the Ten Commandments from his courtroom and refused to recognize gay marriage after the Supreme Court's June 2015 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, is leading by 9.6 points with 92% of the votes counted... ..."
"... These attacks on Bannon were one of the most prominent news stories in the first week following Trump's election victory. It didn't take long, however, for a counter-attack to emerge - from the right-wing elements of the Jewish community. ..."
"... Bannon is a true fucking patriot trying to pull this once great country from the sinkhole. ..."
"... I think the reality is that this was a message to McConnell much more than Trump. That message is simple: I'm coming to kill your career. Bannon went out of his way to say he fully supports Trump (despite backing the opposite candidate). And, let's face it, if Bannon buries McConnell, he's doing everyone a service, Trump included. ..."
"... The echo chamber media "is so surprised" that in Germany and the US we are seeing a rising tide of pissed off people, well imagine fucking that? Leaving the echo chamber and not intellectually trying to understand the anger, but living the anger. ..."
"... Well, we can only hope that Trump gets the message. He was elected to be President of the USA, not Emperor of the World. Quote from that Monty Python film: "He's not the Messiah; he's a very naughty boy!" ..."
"... A cursory background reading on Roy Moore tells me that he is one of the worst types for public office. And he might just turn out to be like Trump -- act like an anti-swarm cowboy and promise a path to heaven, then show his real colors as an Establishment puppet once the braindead voters put him in office. ..."
"... When Trump won the Republican nomination, and then the Presidency it was because people were rebelling against the establishment rulers. There is considerable disgust with these big government rulers that are working for themselves and their corporate cronies, but not for the US population. ..."
"... Trump seems to have been compromised at this point, and his support of the establishment favourite, Luther Strange is evidence that he isn't really the outsider he claimed to be. Moore's victory in Alabama says the rebellion still has wheels, so there is some hope. ..."
"... In Missouri where I live, the anti-establishment Republican contender for the upcoming US Senatorial 2018 race is Austin Peterson. It will be interesting to see how he, and his counterparts in other states do in the primaries. Both of the current Missouri Senators are worthless. ..."
"... I remember well the last "3-Dimensional Chess master" Obama while he too was always out maneuvering his apponents, per the media reports... ..."
"... Every now and then Trump tends to make huge blunders, and sometimes betrayals without knowing what he is doing. "Champions"- (great leaders) do not do that. ..."
"... What Trump has done are disasters, and equates to treason. Selling billions of dollars of weapons the our enemies the terrorists/Saudis, killing innocent people in Syria, and Yemen, sending more troops to Afghanistan... ..."
"... It is epitome of self-delusion to see people twisting themselves into pretzels, trying to justify/rationalize Trump's continuing display of disloyalty to America ..."
"... YOU CAN'T BE A ZIONIST AND AN AMERICAN FIRSTER, IT IS ONE OR THE OTHER. ..."
Sep 27, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

Congratulations to Roy Moore on his Republican Primary win in Alabama. Luther Strange started way back & ran a good race. Roy, WIN in Dec!

In a serious rebuke for President Trump (and perhaps moreso for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell), ousted judge and alt-right favorite Roy Moore has won the Alabama Republican Primary by a landslide

The Steve Bannon-backed candidate, who defied court orders to remove the Ten Commandments from his courtroom and refused to recognize gay marriage after the Supreme Court's June 2015 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, is leading by 9.6 points with 92% of the votes counted...

... ... ...

However, as Politco reported this evening, President Donald Trump began distancing himself from a Luther Strange loss before ballots were even cast, telling conservative activists Monday night the candidate he's backing in Alabama's GOP Senate primary was likely to lose ! and suggesting he'd done everything he could do given the circumstances.

Trump told conservative activists who visited the White House for dinner on Monday night that he'd underestimated the political power of Roy Moore, the firebrand populist and former judge who's supported by Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon, according to three people who were there.

And Trump gave a less-than full-throated endorsement during Friday's rally.

While he called Strange "a real fighter and a real good guy," he also mused on stage about whether he made a "mistake" by backing Strange and committed to campaign "like hell" for Moore if he won.

Trump was encouraged to pick Strange before the August primary by son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner as well as other aides, White House officials said. He was never going to endorse Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks, who has at times opposed Trump's agenda, and knew little about Moore, officials said.

... ... ...

Déjà view -> Sanity Bear •Sep 26, 2017 11:19 PM

AIPAC HAS ALL BASES COVERED...MIGA !

On Sept. 11, the Alabama Daughters for Zion organization circulated a statement on Israel by Moore, which started by saying the U.S. and Israel "share not only a common Biblical heritage but also institutions of representative government and respect for religious freedom." He traced Israel's origin to God's promise to Abram and the 1948 creation of modern Israel as "a fulfillment of the Scriptures that foretold the regathering of the Jewish people to Israel."

Moore's statement includes five policy positions, including support for U.S. military assistance to Israel, protecting Israel from "Iranian aggression," opposing boycotts of Israel, supporting Israel at the United Nations, and supporting direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without outside pressure. He added, "as long as Hamas and the Palestinian Authority wrongly refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist, such negotiations have scant chance of success."

While those views would give Moore common ground with much of the Jewish community regarding Israel, most of the state's Jewish community has been at odds with Moore over church-state issues, such as his displays of the Ten Commandments in courthouses, and his outspoken stance against homosexuality, both of which led to him being ousted as chief justice.

http://www.sjlmag.com/2017/09/alabama-senate-candidates-express.html?m=1

justa minute -> Déjà view •Sep 27, 2017 2:53 AM

moore misreads the Bible as most socalled christians do. they have been deceived, they have confused the Israel of God( those who have been given belief in Christ) with israel of the flesh. They cant hear Christs own words, woe is unto them. they are living in their own selfrighteousness, not good. they are going to have a big surprise for not following the Word of God instead following the tradition of men.

They were warned over and over in the Bible but they cant hear.

I Claudius -> VinceFostersGhost •Sep 27, 2017 6:27 AM

Forgive? Maybe. Forget? NEVER!! He tried to sell "US" out on this one. We now need to focus on bringing "Moore" candidates to the podium to run against the RINO's and take out McConnell and Ryan. It's time for Jared and Ivanka to go back to NYC so Jared can shore up his family's failing empire. However, if his business acumen is as accurate as his political then it's no wonder the family needed taxpayer funded visas to sell the property. Then on to ridding the White House of Gen Kelly and McMaster - two holdover generals from the Obama administration - after Obama forced out the real ones.

Clashfan -> Mycroft Holmes IV •Sep 26, 2017 11:33 PM

Rump has hoodwinked his supoprt base and turned on them almost immediately. Some refuse to acknowledge this.

"Ha! Your vote went to the Israel first swamp!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Gdw_MVY1Vo

Déjà view -> Clashfan •Sep 27, 2017 1:00 AM

MIGA !

These attacks on Bannon were one of the most prominent news stories in the first week following Trump's election victory. It didn't take long, however, for a counter-attack to emerge - from the right-wing elements of the Jewish community. The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) came to Bannon's defense and accused the ADL of a "character assassination" against Bannon.

http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-1.807776

The Wizard -> Oh regional Indian •Sep 26, 2017 10:12 PM

Trump should figure out the Deep State elites he has surrounded himself with, don't have control of the states Trump won. Trump thought he had to negotiate with these guys and his ego got the best of him. Bannon was trying to convince him he should have stayed the course and not give in.


Theosebes Goodfellow -> Oh regional Indian •Sep 26, 2017 10:35 PM

~"American politics gets moore strange by the day..."~

Technically speaking OhRI, with Moore's win politics became less Strange, or "Strange less", or "Sans Luther", depending on how one chose to phrase it [SMIRK]

Adullam -> Gaius Frakkin' Baltar •Sep 26, 2017 11:05 PM

Trump needs to fire Jared! Some news outlets are saying that it was his son in law who advised him to back Strange. He has to quit listening to those who want to destroy him or ... they will.

overbet -> Killtruck •Sep 26, 2017 9:41 PM

Bannon is a true fucking patriot trying to pull this once great country from the sinkhole.

Juggernaut x2 -> overbet •Sep 26, 2017 10:07 PM

Trump better pull his head out of his ass and quit being a wishy-washy populist on BS like Iran- the farther right he goes the greater his odds of reelection because he has pissed off a lot of the far-righters that put him in- getting rid of Kushner, Cohn and his daughter and negotiating w/Assad and distancing us from Israhell would be a huge help.

opport.knocks -> Juggernaut x2 •Sep 26, 2017 11:19 PM

Distancing us from Israel... LOLOLOLOL

https://youtu.be/tm5Je73bYOY

The whole Russiagate ploy was a diversion from (((them)))

NoDebt -> Killtruck •Sep 26, 2017 9:42 PM

I think the reality is that this was a message to McConnell much more than Trump. That message is simple: I'm coming to kill your career. Bannon went out of his way to say he fully supports Trump (despite backing the opposite candidate). And, let's face it, if Bannon buries McConnell, he's doing everyone a service, Trump included.

Oldwood -> NoDebt •Sep 26, 2017 10:08 PM

I think it was a setup.

Bannon would not oppose Trump that directly unless there was a wink and a nod involved.

Trump is still walking a tightrope, trying to appease his base AND keep as many establishment republicans at his side (even for only optics). By Trump supporting Strange while knowing he was an underdog AND completely apposed by Bannon/his base he was able to LOOK like he was supporting the establishment, while NOT really. Trump seldom backs losers which makes me think it was deliberate. Strange never made sense anyway.

But what do I know?

Urahara -> NoDebt •Sep 27, 2017 12:20 AM

Bannon is hardcore Isreal first. Why are you supporting the zionist? It's an obvious play.

general ambivalent -> Urahara •Sep 27, 2017 2:23 AM

People are desperate to rationalise their failure into a victory. They cannot give up on Hope so they have to use hyperbole in everything and pretend this is all leading to something great in 2020 or 2024.

None of these fools learned a damn thing and they are desperate to make the same mistake again. The swamp is full, so full that it has breached the banks and taken over all of society. Trump is a swamp monster, and you simply cannot reform the swamp when both sides are monsters. In other words, the inside is not an option, so it has to be done the hard way. But people would prefer to keep voting in the swamp.

Al Gophilia -> NoDebt •Sep 27, 2017 3:58 AM

Bannon as president would really have those swamp creatures squirming. There wouldn't be this Trump crap about surrounding himself with likeminded friends, such as Goldman Sachs turnstile workers and his good pals in the MIC.

Don't tell me he didn't choose them because if he didn't, then they were placed. That means he doesn't have the clout he pretends to have or control of the agenda that the people asked him to deliver. His backing of Stange is telling.

Lanka -> LindseyNarratesWordress •Sep 26, 2017 11:07 PM

McMaster and Kelly have Trump under house arrest.

Bobbyrib -> LindseyNarratesWordress •Sep 27, 2017 5:38 AM

He will not fire Kushner or Ivanka who have become part of the swamp. I'm so sick of these 'Trump is a genius and planned this all along.'

To me Trump is a Mr. Bean type character that has been very fortunate and just goes with the flow. He has nearly no diplomacy, or strategic skills.

NoWayJose •Sep 26, 2017 10:35 PM

Dear President Trump - if you like your job, listen to these voters. Borders, Walls, limited immigrants (including all those that Ryan and McConnell are sneaking through under your very nose), trade agreements to keep American jobs, and respect for our flag, our country, and the unborn!

nevertheless -> loveyajimbo •Sep 26, 2017 11:19 PM

I had hope for Trump, but as someone who reads ZH often, and does not suffer from amnesia (like much of America), I knew he was way too good to be true.

We all know his back tracking, his flip flops...and while the media and many paid bloggers like to spin it as "not his fault", it actually is.

His sending DACA to Congress was the last straw. Obama enacted DACA with a stroke of his pen, but Trump "needed to send it to Congress so they could "get it right". The only thing Congress does with immigration is try and get amnesty passed.

Of course while Trump sends DACA to Congress, he does not mind using the military without Congress, which he actually should do.

Why is it when it's something American's want, it has to go through the "correct channels", but when its something the Zionists want, he does it with the wave of his pen? We saw the same bull shit games with Obama...

Dilluminati •Sep 26, 2017 11:02 PM

Anybody surprised by this is pretending the civility at the workplace isn't masking anger at corporate America and Government. I'll go in and put in the 8 hours, I'm an adult that is part of the job. However I'm actually fed up with allot of the stupid shit and want the establishment to work, problem is that we are witnessing failed nations, failed schools, failed healthcare, even failed employment contracts, conditions, and wages.

The echo chamber media "is so surprised" that in Germany and the US we are seeing a rising tide of pissed off people, well imagine fucking that? Leaving the echo chamber and not intellectually trying to understand the anger, but living the anger.

You haven't seen anything yet in Catalonia/Spain etc, Brexit, or so..

This is what failure looks like: That moment the Romanovs and Louis XVI looked around the room seeking an understanding eye, there was none.

Pascal1967 •Sep 26, 2017 11:19 PM

Dear Trump:

Quit listening to your moron son-in-law, swamp creature, Goldman Sachs douchebag son-in-law Kushner. HE SUCKS!! If you truly had BALLS, you would FIRE his fucking ass. HE is The Swamp, He Is Nepotism! THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HATE HIM.

MAGA! LISTEN TO BANNON, DONALD.

DO NOT FUCK THIS UP!

ROY MOORE, 100%!!!!

You lost, Trump ... get your shit together before it is too late!

ElTerco •Sep 26, 2017 11:28 PM

Bannon was always the smarts behind the whole operation. Now we are just left with a complete idiot in office.

Also, unlike Trump, Bannon actually gives a shit about what happens to the American people rather than the American tax system. At the end of the day, all Trump really cares about is himself.

samsara •Sep 26, 2017 11:25 PM
I think most people get it backwards about Trump and the Deplorables.

I believed in pulling troops a from all the war zones and Trump said he felt the same

I believed in Legal immigration, sending people back if here illegal especially if involved in crime, Trump said he felt the same.

I believed in America first in negotiating treaties, Trump said he felt the same.

I didn't 'vote' for Trump per se, he was the proxy.

We didn't leave Him, He left us.

BarnacleBill •Sep 26, 2017 11:31 PM

Well, we can only hope that Trump gets the message. He was elected to be President of the USA, not Emperor of the World. Quote from that Monty Python film: "He's not the Messiah; he's a very naughty boy!" It's high time he turned back to the job he promised to do, and drain that swamp.

napper •Sep 26, 2017 11:47 PM

A cursory background reading on Roy Moore tells me that he is one of the worst types for public office. And he might just turn out to be like Trump -- act like an anti-swarm cowboy and promise a path to heaven, then show his real colors as an Establishment puppet once the braindead voters put him in office.

America is doomed from top (the swarm) to bottom (the brainless voters).

Sid Davis •Sep 27, 2017 1:40 AM

When Trump won the Republican nomination, and then the Presidency it was because people were rebelling against the establishment rulers. There is considerable disgust with these big government rulers that are working for themselves and their corporate cronies, but not for the US population.

Trump seems to have been compromised at this point, and his support of the establishment favourite, Luther Strange is evidence that he isn't really the outsider he claimed to be. Moore's victory in Alabama says the rebellion still has wheels, so there is some hope.

In Missouri where I live, the anti-establishment Republican contender for the upcoming US Senatorial 2018 race is Austin Peterson. It will be interesting to see how he, and his counterparts in other states do in the primaries. Both of the current Missouri Senators are worthless.

nevertheless -> pfwed •Sep 27, 2017 7:33 AM

I remember well the last "3-Dimensional Chess master" Obama while he too was always out maneuvering his apponents, per the media reports...

LoveTruth •Sep 27, 2017 2:56 AM

Every now and then Trump tends to make huge blunders, and sometimes betrayals without knowing what he is doing. "Champions"- (great leaders) do not do that.

nevertheless -> LoveTruth •Sep 27, 2017 7:16 AM

What Trump has done are disasters, and equates to treason. Selling billions of dollars of weapons the our enemies the terrorists/Saudis, killing innocent people in Syria, and Yemen, sending more troops to Afghanistan...

But most treasonous of all was his sending DACA to "get it right", really? Congress has only one goal with immigration, amnesty, and Chump knows dam well they will send him legislation that will clearly or covertly grant amnesty for millions and millions of illegals, dressed up as "security".

Obama enacted DACA with the stroke of a pen, and while TRUMP promised to end it, he did NOT. Why is it when it's something Americans want, it has to be "Constitutional", but when it comes form his banker pals, like starting a war, he can do that unilaterally.

archie bird -> nevertheless •Sep 27, 2017 7:45 AM

Bernie wants to cut aid to Israel https://townhall.com/tipsheet/mattvespa/2017/09/25/bernie-sanders-yeah-i...

nevertheless •Sep 27, 2017 8:04 AM

It is epitome of self-delusion to see people twisting themselves into pretzels, trying to justify/rationalize Trump's continuing display of disloyalty to America, and loyalty to Zionism.

Trump should always have been seen as a likely Zionist shill. He comes form Jew York City, owes everything he is to Zionist Jewish bankers, is a self proclaimed Zionist...

YOU CAN'T BE A ZIONIST AND AN AMERICAN FIRSTER, IT IS ONE OR THE OTHER.

Either Zero Hedge is over run with Zionist hasbara, giving cover to their boy Chump, or Americans on the "right" have become as gullible as those who supported Obama on the "left".

[Jan 06, 2018] Selling Out Argentina's Future -- Again naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... By lan Cibils and Mariano Arana, Political Economy Department, Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Originally published at Triple Crisis ..."
"... desendeudamiento ..."
"... desendedudamiento ..."
"... Source: Ministry of Finance, Argentina. ..."
"... World Economic Outlook ..."
"... The grand history of Latin America: borrow billions of $$$ from U.S. banks, hand the money to the wealthy who immediately deposit it right back in American banks, and let the poor pay back the principal and interest. Hmmm . seems more and more the way this country is going. ..."
"... Brazil's recent neoliberal turn was frustrating for a variety of reasons, but being a big, diverse economy, they've got more sovereignty than their neighbors. However, the business and political elites in Brazil decided to hammer through austerity (spending cuts and interest rate hikes) because they WANTED to, not because external forces made them do it. ..."
Jan 06, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Selling Out Argentina's Future -- Again Posted on January 5, 2018 by Yves Smith Yves here. While you were busy watching Trump and the Middle East, and maybe Brexit and China once in a while, some supposed neoliberal success stories are likely to be anything but that.

By lan Cibils and Mariano Arana, Political Economy Department, Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Originally published at Triple Crisis

In Argentina's 2015 presidential run-off election, the neoliberal right-wing coalition "Cambiemos" (literally, "lets change"), headed by Mauricio Macri, defeated the populist Kirchnerista candidate by just two percentage points. Macri's triumph heralded a return to the neoliberal policies of the 1990s and ended twelve years of heterodox economic policies that prioritized income redistribution and the internal market. The ruling coalition also performed well in the October 2017 mid-term elections and has since begun implementing a draconian set of fiscal, labor, and social security reforms.

One of the hallmarks of the Cambiemos government so far has been a fast and furious return to international credit markets and a very substantial increase in new public debt. Indeed, since Macri came to power in 2015, Argentina has issued debt worth more than $100 billion. This marks a clear contrast to the Kirchner administrations, during which the emphasis was debt reduction.

The Kirchner Years: Debt Reduction?

Both Néstor and Cristina Kirchner pointed to desendeudamiento -- debt reduction -- as one of the great successes of their administrations. To what extent was debt reduced during the twelve years of Kirchnerismo?

Figure 1 shows the evolution of Argentina's public debt stock and the debt/GDP ratio between 2004-2017. One can see that there was a substantial reduction in the debt to GDP ratio between 2004-2011 -- the first two Kirchner terms -- due primarily to: a) the 2005 and 2010 debt restructuring offers, b) a deliberate policy of desendedudamiento (debt cancellation), and c) high growth rates. Indeed, debt/GDP dropped from 118.1% in 2004 to 38.9% in 2011. One can also see that the actual stock of public debt fell after the 2005 debt restructuring process, and then remained relatively stable until 2010. In 2011, it began a slow upward trend, due to the re-appearance of the foreign exchange constraint once the commodity bubble burst and capital flight increased.

Figure 1: Public Debt Stock (millions of dollars) and Debt/GDP ratio

Source: Ministry of Finance, Argentina.

An additional, fundamental change occurred during the first two Kirchner administrations: the change in currency composition of Argentina's public debt. Indeed, as Figure 2 shows, peso-denominated public debt reached 41% of total debt after the 2005 debt-restructuring process. Between 2005 and 2012 it remained relatively stable, and then, after 2012, dollar-denominated public debt began to grow again although never reaching pre-2005 debt-restructuring levels. The currency composition change is key, since it reduces considerably the pressure on the external accounts.

Figure 2: Currency Composition of Argentina's Public Debt (as a % GDP)

Source: Ministry of Finance, Argentina.

Fast and Furious

Since Macri became president in December 2015, there has been a dramatic change in official public debt strategy, radically reversing the process of debt reduction of the previous decade. As shown in Figure 1, there was a substantial jump in the stock of public debt in 2016, and it has continued to grow in 2017.The result to date has been a substantial increase in the stock of Argentina's dollar-denominated public debt, as well as an increase of the debt service to GDP ratio. New debt has been used to cover the trade deficit, pay off the vulture funds, finance capital flight, and meet debt service payments. All of this has resulted in growing concerns about Argentina's future economic sustainability, not to mention any possibility of promoting economic development objectives.

Upon taking office, the Macri Administration rapidly implemented a series of policies to liberalize financial flows and imports, and a 40% devaluation of the Argentine peso. [1] In this context, it also went on a debt rampage, increasing dollar denominated debt considerably. Between December 2015 and September 2017, Argentina's new debt amounts to the equivalent of $103.59 billion. [2] This includes new debt issued by the Treasury (80%), provincial governments (11%), and the private sector (9%). While Argentina's debt had been increasing slowly since 2011, the jump experienced in 2016 was unlike any other in Argentina's history.

If the increase in debt is alarming, the destination of those funds is also cause of concern. Data from Argentina's Central Bank (Banco Central de la República Argentina or BCRA) show that during the first eight months of 2017, net foreign asset accumulation of the private non-banking sector totaled $13.32 million, 33% more than all of 2016, which itself was 17% more than all of 2015. This means that since December 2015, Argentina has dollarized assets by approximately $25.29 billion.

According to the BCRA, during the same period there was a net outflow of capital due to debt interest payments, profits and dividends of $8.231 billion. Additionally, the net outflow due to tourism and travel is calculated at roughly $13.43 billion between December 2015 and August 2017.

In sum, the dramatic increase in dollar-denominated debt during the two first Macri years served to finance capital flight, tourism, profit remittances, and debt service, all to the tune of roughly $50 billion.

Where is This Headed?

Argentina's experience since the 1976 military coup until the crash of 2001 has shown how damaging is the combination of unfavorable external conditions and the destruction of the local productive structure. The post-crisis policies of the successive Kirchner administrations reversed the debt-dependent and deindustrializing policies of the preceding decades. However, since Macri took office in December 2015, Argentina has once again turned to debt-dependent framework of the 1990s. Not only has public debt grown in absolute terms, but the weight of dollar-denominated debt in total debt has also increased. Despite significant doubts regarding the sustainability of the current situation, the government has expressed intentions of continuing to issue new debt until 2020.

What are the main factors that call debt-sustainability into question? First, capital flight, which, as we have said above, is increasing, is compensated with new dollar-denominated public debt. Second, Argentina's trade balance turned negative in 2015 and has remained so since, with a total accumulated trade deficit between 2015 and the second quarter of 2017 of $6.53 billion. Import dynamics proved impervious to the 2016 recession, therefore it is expected that the deficit will either persist as is or increase if there are no drastic changes. Furthermore, in the 2018 national budget bill sent to Congress, Treasury Secretary Nicolás Dujovne projects that the growth rate of imports will exceed that of exports until at least 2021, increasing the current trade deficit by 68%.

Finally, according to the IMF's World Economic Outlook (October 2017), growth rate projections for industrialized countries increase prospects of a US Federal Reserve interest rate increase. This would make Argentina's new debt issues more expensive, increasing the burden of future debt service and increasing capital flight from Argentina (in what is generally referred to as the "flight to safety").

The factors outlined above generate credible and troublesome doubts about the sustainability of the economic policies implemented by the Macri administration. While there are no signs of a major crisis in the short term (that is, before the 2019 presidential elections), there are good reasons to doubt that the current level of debt accumulation can be sustained to the end of a potential second Macri term (2023). In other words, there are good reasons to believe that Argentines will once again have to exercise their well-developed ability to navigate through yet another profound debt crisis. This is not solely the authors' opinion. In early November 2017 Standard & Poor's placed Argentina in a list of the five most fragile economies. [3] It looks like, once again, storm clouds are on the horizon.

_______
[1] For details, see " Macri's First Year in Office: Welcome to 21 st Century Neoliberalism ."

[2] Observatorio de la Deuda Externa, Universidad Metropolitana para la Educación y el Trabajo (UMET).

[3] https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/06/these-are-now-the-5-most-fragile-countries-exposed-to-higher-interest-rates-according-to-sp.html

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Jim Haygood , January 5, 2018 at 11:02 am

'What are the main factors that call debt sustainability into question? First, capital flight.'

Capital flees Argentina whenever the opportunity arises because successive governments -- whether leftist or conservative -- refuse to control inflation and maintain a stable currency.

Since 2001, the Argentine peso has slid from one-to-one with the US dollar to about 19 to the dollar today. With Argentine inflation running in the low to mid twenties (according to INDEC and Price Stats), the peso can be expected to carry on weakening against the dollar indefinitely.

A hundred years during which the peso has lopped off thirteen (13) zeros owing to chronic inflation shows that Argentina is politically and culturally incapable of responsibly managing its own currency.

Argentines know this. Unfortunately, only the richer ones have assets they can move to safety outside the country. The hand-to-mouth poor will continue being ravaged by inflation, not to mention the large quantities of counterfeit pesos in circulation.

Letting Argentines play with fiat currency is like handing out loaded pistols to rowdy 5-year-olds. In both these sad cases, adult supervision is urgently needed.

Jon S , January 5, 2018 at 11:21 am

The grand history of Latin America: borrow billions of $$$ from U.S. banks, hand the money to the wealthy who immediately deposit it right back in American banks, and let the poor pay back the principal and interest. Hmmm . seems more and more the way this country is going.

Tim Smyth , January 5, 2018 at 11:53 am

The fixed exchange rate under Kirchner was totally unsustainable. One difference between Macri's neoliberalism and his predecessors is Macri is allowing much more of a floating currency than in the pre 2001 time period (We can debate how much it is actually is floating and clearly a lot of this debt issuance is for currency stablization that I personally don't approve of).

Anonimo2 , January 5, 2018 at 1:05 pm

And who are the adults? Let me guess, bankers and bondholders?

Joel , January 5, 2018 at 2:12 pm

I'm not an expert in this at all, but in Peru, you could hold bank accounts in either national currency or dollars. The national currency accounts spared you currency exchange fees and also had higher interest rates. Most people who could hedged their bets by putting money in both accounts.

It seems like a happy medium between abandoning national currencies and letting savers get ravaged? No?

Wukchumni , January 5, 2018 at 11:14 am

While not as spectacular of a return as Bitcoin, but impressive nonetheless, the escape route for an Argentinean @ the turn of the century was the golden rule, an ounce of all that glitters was 300 pesos then and now around 25,000 pesos, a most excellent 'troy' horse.

MisterMr , January 5, 2018 at 11:31 am

So, is austerity good or is austerity bad? And in what conditions?

I'm for expansionary government expense (and direct government ownership of some industries, such as with an NHS) balanced by taxes on high incomes.

So in my view the problem happens when the government lowers taxes on the rich, as seems likely in this case.
On the other hand taxes on the rich are likely to cause capital flight.

a different chris , January 5, 2018 at 12:41 pm

So why did Macri get elected to do this? Yeah he didn't win by much, but he won.

>The hand-to-mouth poor will continue being ravaged by inflation

Which is freaking weird. Argentina has cropland. They have energy sources (and I won't bore everybody ok, I will with the observation that the Industrial Age is generously a 300/8000 year ratio part of human history).

And doesn't the below need some unpacking?:

>only the richer ones have assets they can move to safety outside the country

What are these assets? Why are said assets mobile? How did they come to "own" them? What percentage of the population is encompassed by "the richer ones" phrasing?

nonsense factory , January 5, 2018 at 5:07 pm

Question: why doesn't MMT thinking work for countries like Argentina?

As wikipedia notes:

"The key insight of MMT is that "monetarily sovereign government is the monopoly supplier of its currency and can issue currency of any denomination in physical or non-physical forms. As such the government has an unlimited capacity to pay for the things it wishes to purchase and to fulfill promised future payments, and has an unlimited ability to provide funds to the other sectors. Thus, insolvency and bankruptcy of this government is not possible. It can always pay."

Is this a general flaw in MMT? Does MMT only apply to dominant nation-states like the U.S., who can use foreign military and financial pressures to protect the currency, aka the petrodollar? Is the petrodollar a true 'fiat currency' or is it somehow based on control of commodities (especially oil)? Is there something peculiar about Argentina and other countries facing currency devaluation that MMT doesn't handle well? Any ideas on this?

JohnnyGL , January 5, 2018 at 6:21 pm

That wikipedia write up isn't wrong, but it could be better. Probably need to hammer home the point that the sovereign can always pay IN THE CURRENCY THAT IT ISSUES.

Most of the MMT related conversations on this site, and the posts that are written up on the subject are mostly about explaining how there are constraints that many people THINK exist in the USA, but don't actually exist, at least in economic terms (political constraints notwithstanding). A country cannot be forced to default on a currency it issues. If the USA had significant debts in EUR or JPY, then it'd be a very different conversation.

External constraints are a big deal for most countries, especially developing countries that depend on exports of primary commodities. Chile, for instance, is constrained by balance of payments problems when the price of copper declines. Also, developed countries that are relatively smaller have much more limited sovereignty. The Swiss Central Bank has to follow what the ECB does, to a large degree.

On the other hand, there's episodes where some countries have found room for maneuver when they give up their sovereign currency. I didn't expect that Ecuador's economy would perform quite as well as it has in recent years. But, they've shown that you can find ways to get creative to compensate for loss of monetary sovereignty. Of course, the fiscal constraints are real since Ecuador can't print USD.

Brazil's recent neoliberal turn was frustrating for a variety of reasons, but being a big, diverse economy, they've got more sovereignty than their neighbors. However, the business and political elites in Brazil decided to hammer through austerity (spending cuts and interest rate hikes) because they WANTED to, not because external forces made them do it.

No doubt an MMT prescription for Argentina would advice them to lay off the $ denominated debt and stick to pesos as much as possible. I'd imagine Stephanie Kelton or any of the UMKC crew would advise curtailing imports or doing some import substitution in order to take pressure off balance of payments issues. They'd also take a look at what was driving inflation domestically and try to find ways to relieve it with a targeted approach, instead of risking recession and unemployment. Neoliberal/Washington Consensus type economists would say hike interest rates, cut government spending in order to curtail demand. They'd argue that the private sector will make the best decisions about where to reign in spending to reduce inflation.

[Jan 05, 2018] Trump the Eradicator, by Eric Margolis - The Unz Review

Jan 05, 2018 | www.unz.com

Trump's campaign to return manufacturing to America and repatriate profits held overseas makes good business sense. The ravaging of America's once mighty industrial base to boost corporate profits was a crime against the nation by unscrupulous Wall Street bankers and short-sighted, greedy CEO's.

The basis of industrial power is the ability to make products people use. Shockingly, US manufacturing has shrunk to only 14% of GDP. Today, America's primary business has become finance, the largely non-productive act of paper-passing that only benefits a tiny big city parasitic elite.

Trump_vs_deep_state is a natural reaction to the self-destruction of America's industrial base. But the president's mania to wreck international trade agreements and impose tariff barriers will result in diminishing America's economic and political influence around the globe.

Access to America's markets is in certain ways a more powerful political tool than deployment of US forces around the globe. Lessening access to the US markets will inevitably have negative repercussions on US exports.

Trump has been on a rampage to undo almost every positive initiative undertaken by the Obama administration, even though many earned the US applause and respect around the civilized world. The president has made trade agreements a prime target. He has targeted trade pacts involving Mexico, Canada, the EU, Japan, China and a host of other nations by claiming they are unfair to American workers. However, a degree of wage unfairness is the price Washington must pay for bringing lower-cost nations into America's economic orbit.

This month, the Trump administration threatened new restrictions against 120 US trade partners who may now face much higher tariffs on their exports to the US.

Trump is in a hurry because he fears he may not be re-elected. He is trying to eradicate all vestiges of the Obama presidency with the ruthlessness and ferocity of Stalinist officials eradicating every trace of liquidated commissars, even from official photos. America now faces its own era of purges as an uneasy world watches.

[Jan 03, 2018] Pope Francis Only Those Who 'Acknowledge Their Faults' Receive Forgiveness

Notable quotes:
"... Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter ..."
Jan 03, 2018 | www.breitbart.com

The reception of God's mercy in dependent upon a person's acknowledgement of his sins, Pope Francis said Wednesday, because "the proud person is unable to receive forgiveness."

"What can the Lord give to those whose hearts are full of themselves and their own success?" the Pope asked the thousands of pilgrims gathered in the Vatican for his General Audience . "Nothing, because the presumptuous person is unable to receive forgiveness, since he is full of his supposed justice."

The Pope called to mind Jesus's parable of the Pharisee and the publican, where only the publican, or tax collector, receives forgiveness for his sins and returns home justified.

"Those who are aware of their own miseries and lower their eyes with humility, feel the merciful gaze of God resting on them," Francis said. "We know from experience that only those who can acknowledge their faults and ask forgiveness receive the understanding and pardon of others."

In his catechesis, Pope Francis has been reflecting on the different parts of the celebration of the Eucharist, and on Wednesday considered the penitential act, when Catholic examine their consciences and ask for God's mercy.

This act favors the correct attitude to worthily celebrate the holy mysteries, he said, by "recognizing our sins before God and our brothers, recognizing that we are sinners."

At the beginning of Mass, "everyone confesses to God and to his brothers and sisters 'to have greatly sinned in thoughts, words, deeds and omissions,'" Francis said.

Omissions matter too, the Pope insisted, by neglecting to do the good we could do. "We often feel good because we say 'I didn't hurt anyone,'" he said. "In reality, it is not enough not to harm others; it is necessary to choose to do good by seizing the opportunities to give good testimony that we are disciples of Jesus."

A public confession that we are sinners before God and our brethren "helps us understand the dimension of sin that, while it separates us from God, also divides us from our brothers and sisters, and vice versa," he said.

Out of fear or shame, we often point our finger to accuse others, Francis continued. "It's hard to admit to being guilty, but it is good to confess it with sincerity."

The Pope also held up biblical examples of penitence that are models for today's Christians.

He mentioned King David, with his Psalms of repentance after his great sins, as well as the parable of the Prodigal Son and the petition of tax payer: "O God, be merciful to me, a sinner."

He went on to speak of other biblical penitents, such as St. Peter, Zaccheus and the Samaritan woman, suggesting that acknowledging our personal weakness and sins strengthens us while disposing us to receive God's mercy and forgiveness.

Pope Francis has made the gospel message of mercy and forgiveness a central point of his pontificate, and declared the year 2016 to be a Holy Year of Mercy.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome

[Jan 02, 2018] Who Is the Real Enemy by Philip Giraldi

Highly recommended!
Money quote: "And even given that, I would have to qualify the nature of the threats. Russia and China are best described as adversaries or competitors rather than enemies as they have compelling interests to avoid war, even if Washington is doing its best to turn them hostile. Neither has anything to gain and much to lose by escalating a minor conflict into something that might well start World War 3. Indeed, both have strong incentives to avoid doing so, which makes the actual threat that they represent more speculative than real. And, on the plus side, both can be extremely useful in dealing with international issues where Washington has little or no leverage, to include resolving the North Korea problem and Syria, so the US has considerable benefits to be gained by cultivating their cooperation."
Notable quotes:
"... And even given that, I would have to qualify the nature of the threats. Russia and China are best described as adversaries or competitors rather than enemies as they have compelling interests to avoid war, even if Washington is doing its best to turn them hostile. Neither has anything to gain and much to lose by escalating a minor conflict into something that might well start World War 3. Indeed, both have strong incentives to avoid doing so, which makes the actual threat that they represent more speculative than real. And, on the plus side, both can be extremely useful in dealing with international issues where Washington has little or no leverage, to include resolving the North Korea problem and Syria, so the US has considerable benefits to be gained by cultivating their cooperation. ..."
"... Cohen-Watnick is thirty years old and has little relevant experience for the position he holds, senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council. But his inexperience counts for little as he is good friend of son-in-law Jared Kushner. He has told the New York Times ..."
"... Both Cohen-Watnick and Harvey share the neoconservative belief that the Iranians and their proxies in Syria and Iraq need to be confronted by force, an opportunity described by Foreign Policy ..."
"... What danger to the U.S. or its actual treaty allies an Iranian influenced land corridor would constitute remains a mystery but there is no shortage of Iran haters in the White House. Former senior CIA analyst Paul Pillar sees "unrelenting hostility from the Trump administration" towards Iran and notes "cherry-picking" of the intelligence to make a case for war, similar to what occurred with Iraq in 2002-3. And even though Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster have pushed back against the impulsive Cohen-Watnick and Harvey, their objections are tactical as they do not wish to make U.S. forces in the region vulnerable to attacks coming from a new direction. Otherwise they too consider Iran as America's number one active enemy and believe that war is inevitable. Donald Trump has unfortunately also jumped directly into the argument on the side of Saudi Arabia and Israel, both of which would like to see Washington go to war with Tehran on their behalf. ..."
"... You forgot the third significant potential threat from a friendly nation, i.e. Israel. Israel will sabotage any effort to normallize relations with Russia or even Iran. They will resort to false flag operations to start a war with Iran. ..."
"... The problem with this White House, as well as the previous ones, is that none of the so-called experts really understand the Middle East. The US is not interested in having friendly relations with all nations. All her efforts are towards one goal, the world domination. Even if President Trump wanted to normalize relations with Russia, the MSM, the democrats, as well as, his republican opponents will not let him. ..."
"... That is why the constan drumbeat of Russia's meddling in the 2016 election despite the fact that no proof has been given so far. Similarly, the "Iran has nuclear weapons" narrative is constantly repeated, the reports by IAEA and the 17 Intelligence Agencies to the contrary not withstanding. ..."
"... The elevation of Muhammad bin Salman to the Crown Prince position will only make the Middle East situation worse. Israel will be able to manipulate him much more easily than the old guard. ..."
"... The titanic elephant in the room -- that US foreign policy is not governed by "rationality" but by "special interests" seems .missing ..."
"... Trump has no control of most government functions, particularly foreign affairs. The Deep State takes care of that for him. The Deep State has been calling the shots for decades and all Presidents who weren't assassinated have complied. Democracies never work and ours quit long ago. ..."
"... I fully agree that attacking Iran would be yet another disaster but I don't understand why Saudi Arabia is portrayed as an 'enemy', the 'real' one, no less, in alt-media circles like this. I mean let's be honest with ourselves. KSA is the definition of a vassal state. Has been so since the state established established relations with the USA in the 1940s and the status was confirmed during the 1960s under King Faisal. Oil for security. Why pretend that they have any operational clearance from the US? ..."
"... The BIGGEST threat to the USA is from within, as we are nothing more than an occupied colony of Apartheid Israel, paying that bastard state tributes each year in the form of free money and weapons, political backing at the UN, and never tire of fighting her wars of conquest. ..."
"... The also have a choke-hold on Congress, which is always eager to wag their tail and hope their Yid Overlord gives them a treat and not a dressing-down in the Jew MSM, which is a career killer. ..."
"... Israel's current "agreements" and its "kowtowing" to Saudi Arabia speaks VOLUMES. Once again, Israel is about to get others to do their "dirty work" for them. ..."
"... There's no alternative to Saudi royal family rule of the peninsula. Who's there to replace them? Any other group, assuming there might be one somewhere waiting in the wings, would probably be anti-American and not as compliant as the Saudis. They've spent gigantic sums in the endless billions buying military equipment from the US, weapons they can't even fully use, as a way of making themselves indispensable customers. Many other billions of petrodollars find their way westward into our financial systems. They collaborate with the US in various schemes throughout the Muslim world using their intelligence services and money in furtherance of US goals. ..."
"... Mattis still seems stuck with his Iran obsession. Shame I thought he had the intellectual curiosity to adapt. Trump has good instincts, I hope Tillerson comes to the fore, and Bannon stays influential. ..."
"... Iran is US enemy #1 not only because it is against that country smaller than New Jersey with less people (Israel) but also because Iran has been a model for other countries to follow because of its intransigence to US oppression and attacks, financial political and cyber. As the world becomes multi-polar, Iran's repeated wise reactions to the world hegemon have been an inspiration to China and others to go their own way. The US can't stand that. ..."
"... Contrary to the popular view, Wahabism is necessary to keep the local population under control. Particularly the minority Shia population who live along the eastern coast, an area, which incidentally also has the all the oil reserves. USA fully understands this. Which is why they not only tolerated Wahabism, but strongly promoted it during Afghan jihad. The operation was by and large very successful btw. It was only during the '90s when religion became the new ideology for the resistance against the empire across the Muslim world. Zero surprise there because the preceding ideology, radical left wing politics was completely defeated. Iran became the first country in this pattern. The Iranian left was decimated by the Shah, another vassal. So the religious right became the new resistance. ..."
"... And as far as the KSA is considered, Wahabi preachers aren't allowed to attack the USA anyway. If any individual preacher so much as makes a squeak, he will be bent over a barrel. There won't be any "coming down very hard on Saudi Arabia" because USA already owns that country. ..."
"... The British Empire 'made' the House of Saud. Thinking it wise to use Wahhabism to control Shia Islam is like thinking it wise to use blacks to control the criminal tendencies of Mexicans. ..."
Jul 11, 2017 | www.unz.com

It is one of the great ironies that the United States, a land mass protected by two broad oceans while also benefitting from the world's largest economy and most powerful military, persists in viewing itself as a potential victim, vulnerable and surrounded by enemies. In reality, there are only two significant potential threats to the U.S. The first consists of the only two non-friendly countries – Russia and China – that have nuclear weapons and delivery systems that could hit the North American continent and the second is the somewhat more amorphous danger represented by international terrorism.

And even given that, I would have to qualify the nature of the threats. Russia and China are best described as adversaries or competitors rather than enemies as they have compelling interests to avoid war, even if Washington is doing its best to turn them hostile. Neither has anything to gain and much to lose by escalating a minor conflict into something that might well start World War 3. Indeed, both have strong incentives to avoid doing so, which makes the actual threat that they represent more speculative than real. And, on the plus side, both can be extremely useful in dealing with international issues where Washington has little or no leverage, to include resolving the North Korea problem and Syria, so the US has considerable benefits to be gained by cultivating their cooperation.

Also, I would characterize international terrorism as a faux threat at a national level, though one that has been exaggerated through the media and fearmongering to such an extent that it appears much more dangerous than it actually is. It has been observed that more Americans are killed by falling furniture than by terrorists in a year but terrorism has a particularly potency due to its unpredictability and the fear that it creates. Due to that fear, American governments and businesses at all levels have been willing to spend a trillion dollars per annum to defeat what might rationally be regarded as a relatively minor problem.

So if the United States were serious about dealing with or deflecting the actual threats against the American people it could first of all reduce its defense expenditures to make them commensurate with the actual threat before concentrating on three things. First, would be to establish a solid modus vivendi with Russia and China to avoid conflicts of interest that could develop into actual tit-for-tat escalation. That would require an acceptance by Washington of the fact that both Moscow and Beijing have regional spheres of influence that are defined by their interests. You don't have to like the governance of either country, but their national interests have to be appreciated and respected just as the United States has legitimate interests within its own hemisphere that must be respected by Russia and China.

Second, Washington must, unfortunately, continue to spend on the Missile Defense Agency, which supports anti-missile defenses if the search for a modus vivendi for some reason fails. Mutual assured destruction is not a desirable strategic doctrine but being able to intercept incoming missiles while also having some capability to strike back if attacked is a realistic deterrent given the proliferation of nations that have both ballistic missiles and nukes.

Third and finally, there would be a coordinated program aimed at international terrorism based equally on where the terror comes from and on physically preventing the terrorist attacks from taking place. This is the element in national defense that is least clear cut. Dealing with Russia and China involves working with mature regimes that have established diplomatic and military channels. Dealing with terrorist non-state players is completely different as there are generally speaking no such channels.

It should in theory be pretty simple to match threats and interests with actions since there are only a handful that really matter, but apparently it is not so in practice. What is Washington doing? First of all, the White House is deliberately turning its back on restoring a good working relationship with Russia by insisting that Crimea be returned to Kiev, by blaming Moscow for the continued unrest in Donbas, and by attacking Syrian military targets in spite of the fact that Russia is an ally of the legitimate government in Damascus and the United States is an interloper in the conflict. Meanwhile congress and the media are poisoning the waters through their dogged pursuit of Russiagate for political reasons even though nearly a year of investigation has produced no actual evidence of malfeasance on the part of U.S. officials and precious little in terms of Moscow's alleged interference.

Playing tough to the international audience has unfortunately become part of the American Exceptionalism DNA. Upon his arrival in Warsaw last week, Donald Trump doubled down on the Russia-bashing, calling on Moscow to "cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran." He then recommended that Russia should "join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and in defense of civilization itself."

The comments in Warsaw were unnecessary, even if the Poles wanted to hear them, and were both highly insulting and ignorant. It was not a good start for Donald's second overseas trip, even though the speech has otherwise been interpreted as a welcome defense of Western civilization and European values. Trump also followed up with a two hour plus discussion with President Vladimir Putin in which the two apparently agreed to differ on the alleged Russian hacking of the American election. The Trump-Putin meeting indicated that restoring some kind of working relationship with Russia is still possible, as it is in everyone's interest to do so.

Fighting terrorism is quite another matter and the United States approach is the reverse of what a rational player would be seeking to accomplish. The U.S. is rightly assisting in the bid to eradicate ISIS in Syria and Iraq but it is simultaneously attacking the most effective fighters against that group, namely the Syrian government armed forces and the Shiite militias being provided by Iran and Hezbollah. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly clear that at least some in the Trump Administration are seeking to use the Syrian engagement as a stepping stone to war with Iran.

As was the case in the months preceding the ill-fated invasion of Iraq in 2003, all buttons are being pushed to vilify Iran. Recent reports suggest that two individuals in the White House in particular have been pressuring the Trump administration's generals to escalate U.S. involvement in Syria to bring about a war with Tehran sooner rather than later. They are Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Derek Harvey, reported to be holdovers from the team brought into the White House by the virulently anti-Iranian former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Cohen-Watnick is thirty years old and has little relevant experience for the position he holds, senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council. But his inexperience counts for little as he is good friend of son-in-law Jared Kushner. He has told the New York Times that "wants to use American spies to help oust the Iranian government," a comment that reflects complete ignorance, both regarding Iran and also concerning spy agency capabilities. His partner in crime Harvey, a former military officer who advised General David Petraeus when he was in Iraq, is the NSC advisor on the Middle East.

Both Cohen-Watnick and Harvey share the neoconservative belief that the Iranians and their proxies in Syria and Iraq need to be confronted by force, an opportunity described by Foreign Policy magazine as having developed into "a pivotal moment that will determine whether Iran or the United States exerts influence over Iraq and Syria." Other neocon promoters of conflict with Iran have described their horror at a possible Shiite "bridge" or "land corridor" through the Arab heartland, running from Iran itself through Iraq and Syria and connecting on the Mediterranean with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

What danger to the U.S. or its actual treaty allies an Iranian influenced land corridor would constitute remains a mystery but there is no shortage of Iran haters in the White House. Former senior CIA analyst Paul Pillar sees "unrelenting hostility from the Trump administration" towards Iran and notes "cherry-picking" of the intelligence to make a case for war, similar to what occurred with Iraq in 2002-3. And even though Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster have pushed back against the impulsive Cohen-Watnick and Harvey, their objections are tactical as they do not wish to make U.S. forces in the region vulnerable to attacks coming from a new direction. Otherwise they too consider Iran as America's number one active enemy and believe that war is inevitable. Donald Trump has unfortunately also jumped directly into the argument on the side of Saudi Arabia and Israel, both of which would like to see Washington go to war with Tehran on their behalf.

The problem with the Trump analysis is that he has his friends and enemies confused. He is actually supporting Saudi Arabia, the source of most of the terrorism that has convulsed Western Europe and the United States while also killing hundreds of thousands of fellow Muslims. Random terrorism to kill as many "infidels and heretics" as possible to create fear is a Sunni Muslim phenomenon, supported financially and doctrinally by the Saudis. To be sure, Iran has used terror tactics to eliminate opponents and select targets overseas, to include several multiple-victim bombings, but it has never engaged in anything like the recent series of attacks in France and Britain. So the United States is moving seemingly inexorably towards war with a country that itself constitutes no actual terrorist threat, unless it is attacked, in support of a country that very much is part of the threat and also on behalf of Israel, which for its part would prefer to see Americans die in a war against Iran rather that sacrificing its own sons and daughters.

Realizing who the real enemy actually is and addressing the actual terrorism problem would not only involve coming down very hard on Saudi Arabia rather than Iran, it would also require some serious thinking in the White House about the extent to which America's armed interventions all over Asia and Africa have made many people hate us enough to strap on a suicide vest and have a go. Saudi financing and Washington's propensity to go to war and thereby create a deep well of hatred just might be the principal causative elements in the rise of global terrorism. Do I think that Donald Trump's White House has the courage to take such a step and change direction? Unfortunately, no.

Jake, July 11, 2017 at 4:12 am GMT

The title of the article tells it all.

Saudi Arabia is THE worst nation in the Middle East.

Why does the US follow along blindly? Well, it is a WASP thing. We are the new Brit Empire. By the height of the Victorian era, virtually all English Elites were philoSemitic. Roughly half of the UK WASP Elite philoSemitism was pro-Jewish and half was pro-Arabic/Islamic. And by the time of WW1, the English Elite pro-Arabic/Islamic faction came to adore the house of Saud. So, our foreign policy is merely WASP culture continuing to ruin most of the rest of the world, including all the whites ruled by WASP Elites.

Priss Factor, Website , July 11, 2017 at 4:41 am GMT
US foreign policy is simple. Zionist Emperor goes thumbs up or thumbs down on whatever nation based on his own interests. That's about it.

Priss Factor, July 11, 2017 at 4:49 am GMT

In reality, there are only two significant potential threats to the U.S. The first consists of the only two non-friendly countries – Russia and China – that have nuclear weapons and delivery systems that could hit the North American continent and the second is the somewhat more amorphous danger represented by international terrorism.

No, the only threats are the following three:

Too many Meso-Americans invading from the border. These people have totally changed the SW and may drastically alter parts of US as well. This is an invasion. Meso-Americans are lackluster, but Too Many translates into real power, especially in elections.

The other threat is Hindu-Indian. Indians are just itching to unload 100s of millions of their kind to Anglo nations. Unlike Chinese population that is plummeting, Indian population is still growing.

The other threat, biggest of all, is the Negro. It's not Russian missiles or Chinese troops that turned Detroit into a hellhole. It is Negroes. And look at Baltimore, New Orleans, Selma, Memphis, Oakland, St. Louis, South Side Chicago, etc.

Afromic Bomb is more hellish than atomic bomb. Compare Detroit and Hiroshima.

Also, even though nukes are deadly, they will likely never be used. They are for defensive purposes only. The real missiles that will destroy the West is the Afro penis. US has nukes to destroy the world, but they haven't been used even during peak of cold war. But millions of Negro puds have impregnanted and colonized white wombs to kill white-babies-that-could-have-been and replaced them with mulatto Negro kids who will turn out like Colin Kapernick.

http://stuffblackpeopledontlike.blogspot.com/2017/07/pattern-recognition-great-sin-than.html

The real missile gap is the threat posed by negro dong on white dong. The negro dong is so potent that even Japanese women are going Negroid and having kids with Negro men and raising these kids as 'Japanese' to beat up real Japanese. So, if Japan with few blacks is turning like this, imagine the threat posed by Negroes on whites in the West.

Look at YouTube of street life and club life in Paris and London. Negro missiles are conquering the white race and spreading the savage genes.

Look how Polish women welcomed the Negro missile cuz they are infected with jungle fever. ACOWW will be the real undoing of the West.

Replies: @Z-man

Besides what Priss Factor said above the following is to be reinforced with every real American man, woman and child.

Israel , which for its part would prefer to see Americans die in a war against Iran rather that sacrificing its own sons and daughters.
Israel, the REAL enemy! , @K India is looking to unload hindus to U.S? Quite the opposite. India is 'losing' its best brains to the U.S so its trying to attract them back to their country. For eg: The chief- architect of IBM's Watson is a Hindu Indian and so is the head of IBM's neuro-morphic computing. These people are advancing western technology.... civilian and also defense (IBM is collaborating with the American defense organization DARPA) instead of helping India achieve technological competence. And most of other super intelligent Indians also India is losing them to the west.

(i dont hate the west for doing that. Any country in amercia's place would have done the same. It is india's job to keep its best brains working for it and not for others. And india is trying its best to do that albeit unsuccessfully.)

Wally, July 11, 2017 at 5:02 am GMT

The US govt. does what "that shitty little country" tells them to do.

The True Cost of Parasite Israel. Forced US taxpayers money to Israel goes far beyond the official numbers. http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-true-cost-of-israel/

How to Bring Down the Elephant in the Room: http://www.unz.com/tsaker/how-to-bring-down-the-elephant-in-the-room/

RobinG, July 11, 2017 at 5:49 am GMT

100 Words #UNRIG adds AMERICA FIRST, NOT ISRAEL to Agenda. ."A.I.P.A.C.. you're outta business!"

Due to slanderous attacks by a Mossad internet psy-op, Steele now prioritizes Israeli malign influence on US. Also, check out Cynthia McKinney's twitter.

#UNRIG – Robert David Steele Weekly Update

@Durruti Nice action approach to cure ills of society.

Enclosing copy of flier we have distributed - with a similar approach at a cure.

*Flier distributed is adjusted & a bit more attractive (1 sheet - both sides).

The key is to Restore the Republic, which was definitively destroyed on November 22, 1963.

Feel free to contact.

Use this, or send me a note by way of a response.

For THE RESTORATION OF THE REPUBLIC

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles "

The above is a portion of the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson.

We submit the following facts to the citizens of the United States.

The government of the United States has been a Totalitarian Oligarchy since the military financial aristocracy destroyed the Democratic Republic on November 22, 1963 , when they assassinated the last democratically elected president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy , and overthrew his government. All following governments have been unconstitutional frauds. Attempts by Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King to restore the Republic were interrupted by their murder.

A subsequent 12 year colonial war against Vietnam , conducted by the murderers of Kennedy, left 2 million dead in a wake of napalm and burning villages.

In 1965, the U.S. government orchestrated the slaughter of 1 million unarmed Indonesian civilians.

In the decade that followed the CIA murdered 100,000 Native Americans in Guatemala .

In the 1970s, the Oligarchy began the destruction and looting of America's middle class, by encouraging the export of industry and jobs to parts of the world where workers were paid bare subsistence wages. The 2008, Bailout of the Nation's Oligarchs cost American taxpayers $13trillion. The long decline of the local economy has led to the political decline of our hard working citizens, as well as the decay of cities, towns, and infrastructure, such as education.

The impoverishment of America's middle class has undermined the nation's financial stability. Without a productive foundation, the government has accumulated a huge debt in excess of $19trillion. This debt will have to be paid, or suffered by future generations. Concurrently, the top 1% of the nation's population has benefited enormously from the discomfiture of the rest. The interest rate has been reduced to 0, thereby slowly robbing millions of depositors of their savings, as their savings cannot stay even with the inflation rate.

The government spends the declining national wealth on bloody and never ending military adventures, and is or has recently conducted unconstitutional wars against 9 nations. The Oligarchs maintain 700 military bases in 131 countries; they spend as much on military weapons of terror as the rest of the nations of the world combined. Tellingly, more than half the government budget is spent on the military and 16 associated secret agencies.

The nightmare of a powerful centralized government crushing the rights of the people, so feared by the Founders of the United States, has become a reality. The government of Obama/Biden, as with previous administrations such as Bush/Cheney, and whoever is chosen in November 2016, operates a Gulag of dozens of concentration camps, where prisoners are denied trials, and routinely tortured. The Patriot Act and The National Defense Authorizations Act , enacted by both Democratic and Republican factions of the oligarchy, serve to establish a legal cover for their terror.

The nation's media is controlled, and, with the school systems, serve to brainwash the population; the people are intimidated and treated with contempt.

The United States is No longer Sovereign

The United States is no longer a sovereign nation. Its government, The Executive, and Congress, is bought, utterly owned and controlled by foreign and domestic wealthy Oligarchs, such as the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, and Duponts , to name only a few of the best known.

The 2016 Electoral Circus will anoint new actors to occupy the same Unconstitutional Government, with its controlling International Oligarchs. Clinton, Trump, whomever, are willing accomplices for imperialist international murder, and destruction of nations, including ours.

For Love of Country

The Restoration of the Republic will be a Revolutionary Act, that will cancel all previous debts owed to that unconstitutional regime and its business supporters. All debts, including Student Debts, will be canceled. Our citizens will begin, anew, with a clean slate.

As American Founder , Thomas Jefferson wrote, in a letter to James Madison:

"I set out on this ground, which I suppose to be self evident, 'that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living':"

"Then I say the earth belongs to each of these generations, during it's course, fully, and in their own right. The 2d. Generation receives it clear of the debts and incumberances of the 1st. The 3d of the 2d. and so on. For if the 1st. Could charge it with a debt, then the earth would belong to the dead and not the living generation."

Our Citizens must restore the centrality of the constitution, establishing a less powerful government which will ensure President Franklin Roosevelt's Four Freedoms , freedom of speech and expression, freedom to worship God in ones own way, freedom from want "which means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peace time life for its inhabitants " and freedom from fear "which means a world-wide reduction of armaments "

Once restored: The Constitution will become, once again, the law of the land and of a free people. We will establish a government, hold elections, begin to direct traffic, arrest criminal politicians of the tyrannical oligarchy, and, in short, repair the damage of the previous totalitarian governments.

For the Democratic Republic!
Sons and Daughters of Liberty
florent.defeu@yahoo.com

MEexpert, July 11, 2017 at 5:50 am GMT

In reality, there are only two significant potential threats to the U.S. The first consists of the only two non-friendly countries – Russia and China – that have nuclear weapons and delivery systems that could hit the North American continent and the second is the somewhat more amorphous danger represented by international terrorism.

You forgot the third significant potential threat from a friendly nation, i.e. Israel. Israel will sabotage any effort to normallize relations with Russia or even Iran. They will resort to false flag operations to start a war with Iran.

The problem with this White House, as well as the previous ones, is that none of the so-called experts really understand the Middle East. The US is not interested in having friendly relations with all nations. All her efforts are towards one goal, the world domination. Even if President Trump wanted to normalize relations with Russia, the MSM, the democrats, as well as, his republican opponents will not let him.

That is why the constan drumbeat of Russia's meddling in the 2016 election despite the fact that no proof has been given so far. Similarly, the "Iran has nuclear weapons" narrative is constantly repeated, the reports by IAEA and the 17 Intelligence Agencies to the contrary not withstanding.

The elevation of Muhammad bin Salman to the Crown Prince position will only make the Middle East situation worse. Israel will be able to manipulate him much more easily than the old guard.

jilles dykstra, July 11, 2017 at 6:59 am GMT
The western world is dependent on oil, especially ME oil. Saudi Arabia was made the USA's main oil supplier at the end of 1944. The Saud dynasty depends on the USA. That the Saudis would sponsor terrorism, why would they ? And which terrorism is Muslim terrorism ?

Sept 11 not, Boston not, Madrid and London very questionably. We then are left with minor issues, the Paris shooting the biggest. That Saudi Arabia is waging war in Yemen certainly is with USA support. The Saudi army does what the USA wants them to do.

Ludwig Watzal > Website , July 11, 2017 at 7:01 am GMT
Mr. Giraldi, you forgot to mention Israel as one of America's biggest liabilities besides Saudi Arabia. But with such amateur dramatics in the White House and on the Security Council, the US is destined for war but only against the wrong enemy such as Iran. If the Saudis and the right-wing Netanyahu regime want to get after Iran they should do it alone. They surely will get a bloody nose. Americans have shed enough blood for these rascal regimes. President Trump should continue with his rapprochement towards Russia because both nation states have more in common than expected.
animalogic, July 11, 2017 at 7:32 am GMT
I'm a little disappointed in this article. Not that it's a bad article per se: perfectly rational, reasonable, academic even. But unfortunately, it's simply naive.

"Realizing who the real enemy actually is and addressing the actual terrorism problem would not only involve coming down very hard on Saudi Arabia rather than Iran, it would also require some serious thinking in the White House about the extent to which America's armed interventions all over Asia and Africa have made many people hate us enough to strap on a suicide vest and have a go."

Realize who the real enemy is ? Come down hard on the Saud's ? No -- really ?

The titanic elephant in the room -- that US foreign policy is not governed by "rationality" but by "special interests" seems .missing. Israel, the Saudi's themselves, the MIC & so on & so forth ARE the special interests who literally "realise" US Policy.

Paul, July 11, 2017 at 7:44 am GMT

Well, the real enemy of the people are the real terrorists behind the scenes. Those who planned the 9/11 false flag. Those who sent the Anthrax letters to resisting congress members. Those who pre-planned the wars of aggression in the whole middle east.

So any appeal to the "White House" is almost pointless since the White House is one element of the power structure captured by the war-criminal lunatics.

To change something people in the US should at first stop buying their war criminal lying mass media.

Then they should stop supporting ANY foreign intervention by the US and should stop believing any of the preposterous lies released by the media, the state dept., or any other neocon outlet.

Actually Trump was probably elected because he said he was anti-intervention and anti-media. But did it help?

The US needs mass resistance (demonstrations, strikes, boycotts, non-participation, sit-ins, grass-root information, or whatever) against their neocon/zionist/mafia/cia power groups or nothing will change.

We need demonstrations against NATO, against war, against false flag terrorism, against using terrorists as secret armies, against war propaganda!

B.t.w. Iran has always been one of the main goals. Think of it: Why did the US attack Afghanistan and Iraq? What have those two countries in common? (Hint: a look on the map helps to answer this question.)

Replies:

@Wizard of Oz

I am beginning to get interested in why some people are sure 9/11 was a false flag affair covered up by a lot of lies. So may I try my opening question on you. How much, if any of it, have you read of the official 9/11 commission report? ,

Realist, July 11, 2017 at 8:24 am GMT

"The White House is targeting Iran but should instead focus on Saudi Arabia"

Trump has no control of most government functions, particularly foreign affairs. The Deep State takes care of that for him. The Deep State has been calling the shots for decades and all Presidents who weren't assassinated have complied. Democracies never work and ours quit long ago.

Chad, July 11, 2017 at 8:28 am GMT
I fully agree that attacking Iran would be yet another disaster but I don't understand why Saudi Arabia is portrayed as an 'enemy', the 'real' one, no less, in alt-media circles like this. I mean let's be honest with ourselves. KSA is the definition of a vassal state. Has been so since the state established established relations with the USA in the 1940s and the status was confirmed during the 1960s under King Faisal. Oil for security. Why pretend that they have any operational clearance from the US?

Contrary to the popular view, Wahabism is necessary to keep the local population under control. Particularly the minority Shia population who live along the eastern coast, an area, which incidentally also has the all the oil reserves.

USA fully understands this. Which is why they not only tolerated Wahabism, but strongly promoted it during Afghan jihad. The operation was by and large very successful btw.

It was only during the '90s when religion became the new ideology for the resistance against the empire across the Muslim world. Zero surprise there because the preceding ideology, radical left wing politics was completely defeated. Iran became the first country in this pattern. The Iranian left was decimated by the Shah, another vassal. So the religious right became the new resistance.

And as far as the KSA is considered, Wahabi preachers aren't allowed to attack the USA anyway. If any individual preacher so much as makes a squeak, he will be bent over a barrel. There won't be any "coming down very hard on Saudi Arabia" because USA already owns that country.

So what's the answer? Well, props to Phillip as he understood – "it would also require some serious thinking in the White House about the extent to which America's armed interventions all over Asia and Africa have made many people hate us enough to strap on a suicide vest and have a go."

Bingo.

Replies:

@Jake

Your analysis starts too late. The US supports Wahhabism and the House of Saud because the pro-Arabic/Islamic English Elites of 1910 and 1920 and 1935 supported Wahhabism and the House of Saud.

The British Empire 'made' the House of Saud,

Thinking it wise to use Wahhabism to control Shia Islam is like thinking it wise to use blacks to control the criminal tendencies of Mexicans.

Anonymous, July 11, 2017 at 9:33 am GMT

@Priss Factor

US foreign policy is simple. Zionist Emperor goes thumbs up or thumbs down on whatever nation based on his own interests.

That's about it. That's most of unz.com summed up in a single sentence!

Johnny Smoggins, July 11, 2017 at 10:19 am GMT

The casus belli of America's hostility towards Iran is the 3000 year old grudge that the Jews have been holding against Persia.
Z-man, July 11, 2017 at 11:22 am GMT
@Priss Factor

In reality, there are only two significant potential threats to the U.S. The first consists of the only two non-friendly countries – Russia and China – that have nuclear weapons and delivery systems that could hit the North American continent and the second is the somewhat more amorphous danger represented by international terrorism.

No, the only threats are the following three:

Too many Meso-Americans invading from the border. These people have totally changed the SW and may drastically alter parts of US as well. This is an invasion. Meso-Americans are lackluster, but Too Many translates into real power, especially in elections.

The other threat is Hindu-Indian. Indians are just itching to unload 100s of millions of their kind to Anglo nations. Unlike Chinese population that is plummeting, Indian population is still growing.

The other threat, biggest of all, is the Negro. It's not Russian missiles or Chinese troops that turned Detroit into a hellhole. It is Negroes. And look at Baltimore, New Orleans, Selma, Memphis, Oakland, St. Louis, South Side Chicago, etc.

Afromic Bomb is more hellish than atomic bomb. Compare Detroit and Hiroshima.

Also, even though nukes are deadly, they will likely never be used. They are for defensive purposes only. The real missiles that will destroy the West is the Afro penis. US has nukes to destroy the world, but they haven't been used even during peak of cold war. But millions of Negro puds have impregnanted and colonized white wombs to kill white-babies-that-could-have-been and replaced them with mulatto Negro kids who will turn out like Colin Kapernick.

http://stuffblackpeopledontlike.blogspot.com/2017/07/pattern-recognition-great-sin-than.html

The real missile gap is the threat posed by negro dong on white dong. The negro dong is so potent that even Japanese women are going Negroid and having kids with Negro men and raising these kids as 'Japanese' to beat up real Japanese. So, if Japan with few blacks is turning like this, imagine the threat posed by Negroes on whites in the West.

Look at youtube of street life and club life in Paris and London. Negro missiles are conquering the white race and spreading the savage genes.

Look how Polish women welcomed the Negro missile cuz they are infected with jungle fever. ACOWW will be the real undoing of the West.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yB69UkJGwk

Besides what Priss Factor said above the following is to be reinforced with every real American man, woman and child.

Israel , which for its part would prefer to see Americans die in a war against Iran rather that sacrificing its own sons and daughters.

Israel, the REAL enemy!

eah, July 11, 2017 at 11:26 am GMT
The WH should focus on the USA.
Replies: @Sowhat And what grudge is that? The only two I can find are connected. The deposing of our puppets, the Assads and the nationalization of their natural resources. I have the impression that it removes around future hegemon and the rich gas reserves off their coast and the decades long desire to run a pipeline west to the Mediterranean.

Greg Bacon > Website , July 11, 2017 at 11:41 am GMT

The BIGGEST threat to the USA is from within, as we are nothing more than an occupied colony of Apartheid Israel, paying that bastard state tributes each year in the form of free money and weapons, political backing at the UN, and never tire of fighting her wars of conquest.

You won't see Israeli troops in the streets, since their confederates control the economy thru their control of the FED and US Treasury and most of those TBTF banks, which we always bail out, no matter the cost.

The also have a choke-hold on Congress, which is always eager to wag their tail and hope their Yid Overlord gives them a treat and not a dressing-down in the Jew MSM, which is a career killer.

The WH is also Israeli territory, especially now with a Jew NYC slumlord now Trump's top adviser and his fashion model faux Jew daughter egging Daddy on to kill more Arab babies, since she can't stand the sight of dead babies

Wizard of Oz, July 11, 2017 at 11:50 am GMT

@Paul Well, the real enemy of the people are the real terrorists behind the scenes. Those who planned the 9/11 false flag. Those who sent the Anthrax letters to resisting congress members. Those who pre-planned the wars of aggression in the whole middle east.

So any appeal to the "White House" is almost pointless since the White House is one element of the power structure captured by the war-criminal lunatics.

To change something people in the US should at first stop buying their war criminal lying mass media.

Then they should stop supporting ANY foreign intervention by the US and should stop believing any of the preposterous lies released by the media, the state dept., or any other neocon outlet.

Actually Trump was probably elected because he said he was anti-intervention and anti-media. But did it help?

The US needs mass resistance (demonstrations, strikes, boycotts, non-participation, sit-ins, grass-root information, or whatever) against their neocon/zionist/mafia/cia power groups or nothing will change.

We need demonstrations against NATO, against war, against false flag terrorism, against using terrorists as secret armies, against war propaganda!

B.t.w. Iran has always been one of the main goals. Think of it: Why did the US attack Afghanistan and Iraq? What have those two countries in common? (Hint: a look on the map helps to answer this question.) I am beginning to get interested in why some people are sure 9/11 was a false flag affair covered up by a lot of lies. So may I try my opening question on you. How much, if any of it, have you read of the official 9/11 commission report?

Replies:

@Sowhat

https://forbiddenknowledgetv.net/former-nist-employee-speaks-out-on-wtc-investigation/

@NoseytheDuke

A better question: Have YOU read The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation by Phillip Shenon?

Sowhat, July 11, 2017 at 12:13 pm GMT

@eah The WH should focus on the USA. And what grudge is that? The only two I can find are connected. The deposing of our puppets, the Assads and the nationalization of their natural resources. I have the impression that it removes around future hegemon and the rich gas reserves off their coast and the decades long desire to run a pipeline west to the Mediterranean.
anarchyst, July 11, 2017 at 12:24 pm GMT
Israel's current "agreements" and its "kowtowing" to Saudi Arabia speaks VOLUMES. Once again, Israel is about to get others to do their "dirty work" for them.

The point that everybody seems to miss is the fact that Judaism and Islam are inextricably linked. In fact, one could safely argue that Islam is an arabicized form of Judaism.

1. Both Judaism and Islam promote their own forms of supremacy, relegating non-adherents as "lesser human beings", or in Judaism's take "no better than livestock, albeit with souls, to be used for the advantage of the jew".

2. Both systems proscribe lesser (or no) punishment for those of each respective "tribe" who transgress against "outsiders" -- goyim or infidels. Both systems proscribe much harsher punishments against "outsiders" who transgress against those of each respective "tribe".

3. When it comes to "equality under law", Israel is no better than Saudi Arabia, as a jew who has a disagreement with an "outsider" will always have the advantage of a judicial system which almost always rules for the jew.

4. Both Judaism and Islam have taken it upon themselves to be arbiters of what the rest of the world should follow, demanding that "outsiders" conform to what THEY believe, thinking that they know what is best (for the rest of us). Just look at the demands moslems (who are guests in western Europe) make of local non-moslem populations.

Read the jewish Talmud and islamic Koran you will find virtually identical passages that demonize and marginalize those of us who are "goyim" or "infidels".
A pox on both their houses

Replies:

@ThreeCranes

Now before I say what I'm going to say I want to say that Israel has the right to define and defend her interests just as China, Russia and USA do, as Geraldi says above. No nation or people can be denied this (without force).

Having said that, I am grateful to you, anarchyst, for having pointed out the familial similarities between Islam and Judaism. In addition to what you say there is the fact that the Jewish genome is virtually identical to that of the Palestinians--except for that of Ashkenazi Jews who are more than half European.

As far as I can see, Ashkenazi Jews have an existential choice. They can identify with their European half whereby they acknowledge that the Greeks and not Moses made the greatest contributions to humanity (and more particularly, their humanity) or they can go with their atavistic Semitic side and regress to barbarism. Science, Logic, Math, History, Architecture, Drama and Music or blowing up Buddhas and shrouding your women. Take your pick.

Of course, this is sorta unfair in as much as they were kicked out of Europe and now dwell in the ME where if they try to act like Europeans they will be persecuted by their neighbors as apostates. The Jews do indeed have a tough row to hoe. , @bjondo Jews/Judaism bring death, destruction, misery.

Muslims/Islam (minus Western creation of "Muslim"terrorists) brought golden ages to many areas.

Christianity and Islam elevate the human spirit. Judaism degrades.

bjondo, July 11, 2017 at 12:31 pm GMT

SA is the tail wagged by US. US is the tail wagged by internal Jew. Israel/Jewry the enemy of all.

Terrorism is Israeli weapon to take down Sunnis and Shias.

US is Israel's go-to donkey.

Sauds gone tomorrow if wished. And they may be with Arabia broken into pieces. Yinon still active.

Agent76, July 11, 2017 at 12:54 pm GMT
June 7, 2017 We Have Met the Evil Empire and It Is Us

Life in America was pure injustice, the lash and the iron boot, despite the version of history we have been given by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations who "re-invented" America and its history through taking control of public education in the late 1940s. You see, the multi-generational ignorance we bask in today is not unplanned. The threat represented by advances in communications and other technology was recognized and dealt with, utterly quashed at birth.

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2017/06/07/we-have-met-the-evil-empire-and-it-is-us/

ThreeCranes, July 11, 2017 at 1:41 pm GMT
@anarchyst Israel's current "agreements" and its "kowtowing" to Saudi Arabia speaks VOLUMES. Once again, Israel is about to get others to do their "dirty work" for them.
The point that everybody seems to miss is the fact that Judaism and Islam are inextricably linked. In fact, one could safely argue that Islam is an arabicized form of Judaism.

1. Both Judaism and Islam promote their own forms of supremacy, relegating non-adherents as "lesser human beings", or in Judaism's take "no better than livestock, albeit with souls, to be used for the advantage of the jew".

2. Both systems proscribe lesser (or no) punishment for those of each respective "tribe" who transgress against "outsiders"--goyim or infidels. Both systems proscribe much harsher punishments against "outsiders" who transgress against those of each respective "tribe".

3. When it comes to "equality under law", Israel is no better than Saudi Arabia, as a jew who has a disagreement with an "outsider" will always have the advantage of a judicial system which almost always rules for the jew.

4. Both Judaism and Islam have taken it upon themselves to be arbiters of what the rest of the world should follow, demanding that "outsiders" conform to what THEY believe, thinking that they know what is best (for the rest of us). Just look at the demands moslems (who are guests in western Europe) make of local non-moslem populations.

Read the jewish Talmud and islamic Koran...you will find virtually identical passages that demonize and marginalize those of us who are "goyim" or "infidels".
A pox on both their houses... Now before I say what I'm going to say I want to say that Israel has the right to define and defend her interests just as China, Russia and USA do, as Geraldi says above. No nation or people can be denied this (without force).

Having said that, I am grateful to you, anarchyst, for having pointed out the familial similarities between Islam and Judaism. In addition to what you say there is the fact that the Jewish genome is virtually identical to that of the Palestinians–except for that of Ashkenazi Jews who are more than half European.

As far as I can see, Ashkenazi Jews have an existential choice. They can identify with their European half whereby they acknowledge that the Greeks and not Moses made the greatest contributions to humanity (and more particularly, their humanity) or they can go with their atavistic Semitic side and regress to barbarism. Science, Logic, Math, History, Architecture, Drama and Music or blowing up Buddhas and shrouding your women. Take your pick.

Of course, this is sorta unfair in as much as they were kicked out of Europe and now dwell in the ME where if they try to act like Europeans they will be persecuted by their neighbors as apostates. The Jews do indeed have a tough row to hoe.

Sowhat, July 11, 2017 at 1:49 pm GMT
@Wizard of Oz I am beginning to get interested in why some people are sure 9/11 was a false flag affair covered up by a lot of lies. So may I try my opening question on you. How much, if any of it, have you read of the official 9/11 commission report? https://forbiddenknowledgetv.net/former-nist-employee-speaks-out-on-wtc-investigation/
virgile, July 11, 2017 at 1:55 pm GMT
Trump is torn between Israel's permanent need to weaken its powerful neighbors (Iraq, Iran) and the necessity to protect the USA from terrorists attacks.

Iran is an hypothetical threat to Israel, Saudi Arabia has proven to be a threat to the world.

SolontoCroesus, July 11, 2017 at 2:07 pm GMT
Saudi Arabian Manal al-Sharif is the latest (((MSM))) media darling; she wrote a book about being imprisoned for driving in Saudi Arabia. She is attempting to expand a movement to strike down the Saudi ban on women driving. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/09/opinion/sunday/saudi-arabia-women-driving-ban.html

At the same time, (((MSM))) gleefully focuses on Iranian women who are wearing white hijab in protest of restrictions on women's attire in Iran. http://nytlive.nytimes.com/womenintheworld/2017/05/24/why-women-and-some-men-in-iran-are-wearing-white-headscarves-on-wednesdays/

I think these women ought to get together.

In Iran, women drive.

In Tehran and other Iranian cities including Iran's holiest, that is, most conservative cities like Mashad. there are taxi companies owned and run by women.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/turnstyle/iranian-women-take-the-wh_b_879041.html

Tehran traffic makes NYC look like Mayberry RFD; many Iranians use small motorcycles to commute and take care of daily chores. It's not at all uncommon to see an Iranian woman in full chador driving a motorcycle with a child and parcels in tow.

Iranian women could offer to teach the women of Saudi Arabia to drive.

What could Saudi women teach Iranian women?

NoseytheDuke, July 11, 2017 at 2:08 pm GMT

@Wizard of Oz I am beginning to get interested in why some people are sure 9/11 was a false flag affair covered up by a lot of lies. So may I try my opening question on you. How much, if any of it, have you read of the official 9/11 commission report? A better question: Have YOU read The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation by Phillip Shenon?

siberiancat, July 11, 2017 at 2:08 pm GMT

Why is is so difficult to avoid this ugly term 'regime'? Does it really add anything to the discourse?
anonymous, July 11, 2017 at 2:33 pm GMT
There's no alternative to Saudi royal family rule of the peninsula. Who's there to replace them? Any other group, assuming there might be one somewhere waiting in the wings, would probably be anti-American and not as compliant as the Saudis. They've spent gigantic sums in the endless billions buying military equipment from the US, weapons they can't even fully use, as a way of making themselves indispensable customers. Many other billions of petrodollars find their way westward into our financial systems. They collaborate with the US in various schemes throughout the Muslim world using their intelligence services and money in furtherance of US goals.

They live the royal life thanks to being able to use the money from their nation's resource wealth as their own personal kitty, living in palaces, buying obscene amounts of jewelry and other luxury goods, and so on. They'll never give that up and being a close ally of the US affords them protection which of course they pay for. They may be seen as an enemy by the average person but not at the elite level with whom they all consort and roll around in the money with.

LondonBob, July 11, 2017 at 2:39 pm GMT
http://mihsislander.org/2017/06/full-transcript-james-mattis-interview/

Mattis still seems stuck with his Iran obsession. Shame I thought he had the intellectual curiosity to adapt. Trump has good instincts, I hope Tillerson comes to the fore, and Bannon stays influential.

Don Bacon, July 11, 2017 at 3:02 pm GMT
Iran is US enemy #1 not only because it is against that country smaller than New Jersey with less people (Israel) but also because Iran has been a model for other countries to follow because of its intransigence to US oppression and attacks, financial political and cyber. As the world becomes multi-polar, Iran's repeated wise reactions to the world hegemon have been an inspiration to China and others to go their own way. The US can't stand that.
Corvinus, July 11, 2017 at 3:28 pm GMT
@Paul Well, the real enemy of the people are the real terrorists behind the scenes. Those who planned the 9/11 false flag. Those who sent the Anthrax letters to resisting congress members. Those who pre-planned the wars of aggression in the whole middle east.

So any appeal to the "White House" is almost pointless since the White House is one element of the power structure captured by the war-criminal lunatics.

To change something people in the US should at first stop buying their war criminal lying mass media.

Then they should stop supporting ANY foreign intervention by the US and should stop believing any of the preposterous lies released by the media, the state dept., or any other neocon outlet.

Actually Trump was probably elected because he said he was anti-intervention and anti-media. But did it help?

The US needs mass resistance (demonstrations, strikes, boycotts, non-participation, sit-ins, grass-root information, or whatever) against their neocon/zionist/mafia/cia power groups or nothing will change.

We need demonstrations against NATO, against war, against false flag terrorism, against using terrorists as secret armies, against war propaganda!

B.t.w. Iran has always been one of the main goals. Think of it: Why did the US attack Afghanistan and Iraq? What have those two countries in common? (Hint: a look on the map helps to answer this question.) "Well, the real enemy of the people are the real terrorists behind the scenes. Those who planned the 9/11 false flag."

Adjust tin foil hat accordingly.


Father O'Hara, July 11, 2017 at 3:59 pm GMT
@Jake The title of the article tells it all.

Saudi Arabia is THE worst nation in the Middle East.

Why does the US follow along blindly? Well, it is a WASP thing. We are the new Brit Empire. By the height of the Victorian era, virtually all English Elites were philoSemitic. Roughly half of the UK WASP Elite philoSemitism was pro-Jewish and half was pro-Arabic/Islamic.

And by the time of WW1, the English Elite pro-Arabic/Islamic faction came to adore the house of Saud.

So, our foreign policy is merely WASP culture continuing to ruin most of the rest of the world, including all the whites ruled by WASP Elites. SECOND worst,my friend.

Jake, July 11, 2017 at 4:23 pm GMT
@Chad I fully agree that attacking Iran would be yet another disaster but I don't understand why Saudi Arabia is portrayed as an 'enemy', the 'real' one, no less, in alt-media circles like this.

I mean let's be honest with ourselves. KSA is the definition of a vassal state. Has been so since the state established established relations with the USA in the 1940s and the status was confirmed during the 1960s under King Faisal. Oil for security.

Why pretend that they have any operational clearance from the US?

Contrary to the popular view, Wahabism is necessary to keep the local population under control. Particularly the minority Shia population who live along the eastern coast, an area, which incidentally also has the all the oil reserves. USA fully understands this. Which is why they not only tolerated Wahabism, but strongly promoted it during Afghan jihad. The operation was by and large very successful btw. It was only during the '90s when religion became the new ideology for the resistance against the empire across the Muslim world. Zero surprise there because the preceding ideology, radical left wing politics was completely defeated. Iran became the first country in this pattern. The Iranian left was decimated by the Shah, another vassal. So the religious right became the new resistance.

And as far as the KSA is considered, Wahabi preachers aren't allowed to attack the USA anyway. If any individual preacher so much as makes a squeak, he will be bent over a barrel. There won't be any "coming down very hard on Saudi Arabia" because USA already owns that country.

So what's the answer? Well, props to Phillip as he understood - "it would also require some serious thinking in the White House about the extent to which America's armed interventions all over Asia and Africa have made many people hate us enough to strap on a suicide vest and have a go."

Bingo. Your analysis starts too late. The US supports Wahhabism and the House of Saud because the pro-Arabic/Islamic English Elites of 1910 and 1920 and 1935 supported Wahhabism and the House of Saud.

The British Empire 'made' the House of Saud. Thinking it wise to use Wahhabism to control Shia Islam is like thinking it wise to use blacks to control the criminal tendencies of Mexicans.

Durruti, July 11, 2017 at 4:25 pm GMT

1,000 Words @RobinG #UNRIG adds AMERICA FIRST, NOT ISRAEL to Agenda.
..................."A.I.P.A.C.. you're outta business!"

Due to slanderous attacks by a Mossad internet psy-op, Steele now prioritizes Israeli malign influence on US. Also, check out Cynthia McKinney's twitter.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxcnaNND4XM

#UNRIG - Robert David Steele Weekly Update Nice action approach to cure ills of society.

Enclosing copy of flier we have distributed – with a similar approach at a cure.

*Flier distributed is adjusted & a bit more attractive (1 sheet – both sides).

The key is to Restore the Republic, which was definitively destroyed on November 22, 1963.

Feel free to contact.

Use this, or send me a note by way of a response.

For THE RESTORATION OF THE REPUBLIC

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles "

The above is a portion of the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson.

We submit the following facts to the citizens of the United States.

The government of the United States has been a Totalitarian Oligarchy since the military financial aristocracy destroyed the Democratic Republic on November 22, 1963 , when they assassinated the last democratically elected president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy , and overthrew his government. All following governments have been unconstitutional frauds. Attempts by Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King to restore the Republic were interrupted by their murder.

A subsequent 12 year colonial war against Vietnam , conducted by the murderers of Kennedy, left 2 million dead in a wake of napalm and burning villages.

In 1965, the U.S. government orchestrated the slaughter of 1 million unarmed Indonesian civilians.

In the decade that followed the CIA murdered 100,000 Native Americans in Guatemala .

In the 1970s, the Oligarchy began the destruction and looting of America's middle class, by encouraging the export of industry and jobs to parts of the world where workers were paid bare subsistence wages. The 2008, Bailout of the Nation's Oligarchs cost American taxpayers $13trillion. The long decline of the local economy has led to the political decline of our hard working citizens, as well as the decay of cities, towns, and infrastructure, such as education.

The impoverishment of America's middle class has undermined the nation's financial stability. Without a productive foundation, the government has accumulated a huge debt in excess of $19trillion. This debt will have to be paid, or suffered by future generations. Concurrently, the top 1% of the nation's population has benefited enormously from the discomfiture of the rest. The interest rate has been reduced to 0, thereby slowly robbing millions of depositors of their savings, as their savings cannot stay even with the inflation rate.

The government spends the declining national wealth on bloody and never ending military adventures, and is or has recently conducted unconstitutional wars against 9 nations. The Oligarchs maintain 700 military bases in 131 countries; they spend as much on military weapons of terror as the rest of the nations of the world combined. Tellingly, more than half the government budget is spent on the military and 16 associated secret agencies.

The nightmare of a powerful centralized government crushing the rights of the people, so feared by the Founders of the United States, has become a reality. The government of Obama/Biden, as with previous administrations such as Bush/Cheney, and whoever is chosen in November 2016, operates a Gulag of dozens of concentration camps, where prisoners are denied trials, and routinely tortured. The Patriot Act and The National Defense Authorizations Act , enacted by both Democratic and Republican factions of the oligarchy, serve to establish a legal cover for their terror.

The nation's media is controlled, and, with the school systems, serve to brainwash the population; the people are intimidated and treated with contempt.

The United States is No longer Sovereign

The United States is no longer a sovereign nation. Its government, The Executive, and Congress, is bought, utterly owned and controlled by foreign and domestic wealthy Oligarchs, such as the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, and Duponts , to name only a few of the best known.

The 2016 Electoral Circus will anoint new actors to occupy the same Unconstitutional Government, with its controlling International Oligarchs. Clinton, Trump, whomever, are willing accomplices for imperialist international murder, and destruction of nations, including ours.

For Love of Country

The Restoration of the Republic will be a Revolutionary Act, that will cancel all previous debts owed to that unconstitutional regime and its business supporters. All debts, including Student Debts, will be canceled. Our citizens will begin, anew, with a clean slate.

As American Founder , Thomas Jefferson wrote, in a letter to James Madison:

"I set out on this ground, which I suppose to be self evident, 'that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living':"

"Then I say the earth belongs to each of these generations, during it's course, fully, and in their own right. The 2d. Generation receives it clear of the debts and incumberances of the 1st. The 3d of the 2d. and so on. For if the 1st. Could charge it with a debt, then the earth would belong to the dead and not the living generation."

Our Citizens must restore the centrality of the constitution, establishing a less powerful government which will ensure President Franklin Roosevelt's Four Freedoms , freedom of speech and expression, freedom to worship God in ones own way, freedom from want "which means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peace time life for its inhabitants " and freedom from fear "which means a world-wide reduction of armaments "

Once restored: The Constitution will become, once again, the law of the land and of a free people. We will establish a government, hold elections, begin to direct traffic, arrest criminal politicians of the tyrannical oligarchy, and, in short, repair the damage of the previous totalitarian governments.

For the Democratic Republic!
Sons and Daughters of Liberty
florent.defeu@yahoo.com

SolontoCroesus, July 11, 2017 at 4:28 pm GMT

Scholars at Mercatus Center, George Mason Univ. https://www.mercatus.org/statefiscalrankings

are studying US states and ranking them according to financial stability measures. The states with biggest problems -- Illinois, California, New Jersey, Connecticut -- are in the mess they are in largely because of pension liability issues: some pensions are unfunded or underfunded.

I recall that ten years ago about a dozen Jewish organizations formed the "Iran Task Force," ** whose primary activity was to persuade managers of State pension funds to divest from Iran-connected companies; that is, corporations & banks, etc. that did business with Iran. I recall very clearly that Arnold Schwartznegger was the poster child for California's vanguard role in divesting from such nasty nasty companies, in accord with the wishes of Jewish Israel-firsters.

Perhaps the Mercatus scholars could prepare an exercise in alternative financial history: What shape would the US economy, and the various States's economies, be in if the US were NOT so overwhelmingly influenced by Israel firsters, and were NOT persuaded, Against Our Better Judgment, to entangle themselves in Israel's nefarious activities?

____
** The 2007 Iran Task Force is NOT the same as the group formed in 2015 or so, embedded in US House/Senate, with Joe Lieberman and Michael Hayden playing prominent roles in attempting to influence the Iran Deal.

The 2007 initiative was sponsored by groups such as ZOA, RJC, AIPAC, etc., and / or spun off groups such as Foundation for Defense of Democracy, United Against Nuclear Iran.

[Dec 26, 2017] Evangelii Gaudium Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today's World (24 November 2013)

Highly recommended!
Nov 23, 2013 | w2.vatican.va

... ... ...

CHAPTER TWO: AMID THE CRISIS OF COMMUNAL COMMITMENT

50. Before taking up some basic questions related to the work of evangelization, it may be helpful to mention briefly the context in which we all have to live and work. Today, we frequently hear of a "diagnostic overload" which is not always accompanied by improved and actually applicable methods of treatment. Nor would we be well served by a purely sociological analysis which would aim to embrace all of reality by employing an allegedly neutral and clinical method. What I would like to propose is something much more in the line of an evangelical discernment. It is the approach of a missionary disciple, an approach "nourished by the light and strength of the Holy Spirit". [53]

51. It is not the task of the Pope to offer a detailed and complete analysis of contemporary reality, but I do exhort all the communities to an "ever watchful scrutiny of the signs of the times". [54] This is in fact a grave responsibility, since certain present realities, unless effectively dealt with, are capable of setting off processes of dehumanization which would then be hard to reverse. We need to distinguish clearly what might be a fruit of the kingdom from what runs counter to God's plan. This involves not only recognizing and discerning spirits, but also – and this is decisive – choosing movements of the spirit of good and rejecting those of the spirit of evil. I take for granted the different analyses which other documents of the universal magisterium have offered, as well as those proposed by the regional and national conferences of bishops. In this Exhortation I claim only to consider briefly, and from a pastoral perspective, certain factors which can restrain or weaken the impulse of missionary renewal in the Church, either because they threaten the life and dignity of God's people or because they affect those who are directly involved in the Church's institutions and in her work of evangelization.

I. Some challenges of today's world

52. In our time humanity is experiencing a turning-point in its history, as we can see from the advances being made in so many fields. We can only praise the steps being taken to improve people's welfare in areas such as health care, education and communications. At the same time we have to remember that the majority of our contemporaries are barely living from day to day, with dire consequences. A number of diseases are spreading. The hearts of many people are gripped by fear and desperation, even in the so-called rich countries. The joy of living frequently fades, lack of respect for others and violence are on the rise, and inequality is increasingly evident. It is a struggle to live and, often, to live with precious little dignity. This epochal change has been set in motion by the enormous qualitative, quantitative, rapid and cumulative advances occuring in the sciences and in technology, and by their instant application in different areas of nature and of life. We are in an age of knowledge and information, which has led to new and often anonymous kinds of power.

No to an economy of exclusion

53. Just as the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say "thou shalt not" to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a "throw away" culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society's underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the "exploited" but the outcast, the "leftovers".

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people's pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else's responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

No to the new idolatry of money

55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

No to a financial system which rules rather than serves

57. Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: "Not to share one's wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs". [55]

58. A financial reform open to such ethical considerations would require a vigorous change of approach on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and an eye to the future, while not ignoring, of course, the specifics of each case. Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.

No to the inequality which spawns violence

59. Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples are reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root. Just as goodness tends to spread, the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system, no matter how solid it may appear. If every action has its consequences, an evil embedded in the structures of a society has a constant potential for disintegration and death. It is evil crystallized in unjust social structures, which cannot be the basis of hope for a better future. We are far from the so-called "end of history", since the conditions for a sustainable and peaceful development have not yet been adequately articulated and realized.

60. Today's economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. It serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an "education" that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.

Some cultural challenges

61. We also evangelize when we attempt to confront the various challenges which can arise. [56] On occasion these may take the form of veritable attacks on religious freedom or new persecutions directed against Christians; in some countries these have reached alarming levels of hatred and violence. In many places, the problem is more that of widespread indifference and relativism, linked to disillusionment and the crisis of ideologies which has come about as a reaction to any-thing which might appear totalitarian. This not only harms the Church but the fabric of society as a whole. We should recognize how in a culture where each person wants to be bearer of his or her own subjective truth, it becomes difficult for citizens to devise a common plan which transcends individual gain and personal ambitions.

62. In the prevailing culture, priority is given to the outward, the immediate, the visible, the quick, the superficial and the provisional. What is real gives way to appearances. In many countries globalization has meant a hastened deterioration of their own cultural roots and the invasion of ways of thinking and acting proper to other cultures which are economically advanced but ethically debilitated. This fact has been brought up by bishops from various continents in different Synods. The African bishops, for example, taking up the Encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis , pointed out years ago that there have been frequent attempts to make the African countries "parts of a machine, cogs on a gigantic wheel. This is often true also in the field of social communications which, being run by centres mostly in the northern hemisphere, do not always give due consideration to the priorities and problems of such countries or respect their cultural make-up". [57] By the same token, the bishops of Asia "underlined the external influences being brought to bear on Asian cultures. New patterns of behaviour are emerging as a result of over-exposure to the mass media As a result, the negative aspects of the media and entertainment industries are threatening traditional values, and in particular the sacredness of marriage and the stability of the family". [58]

63. The Catholic faith of many peoples is nowadays being challenged by the proliferation of new religious movements, some of which tend to fundamentalism while others seem to propose a spirituality without God. This is, on the one hand, a human reaction to a materialistic, consumerist and individualistic society, but it is also a means of exploiting the weaknesses of people living in poverty and on the fringes of society, people who make ends meet amid great human suffering and are looking for immediate solutions to their needs. These religious movements, not without a certain shrewdness, come to fill, within a predominantly individualistic culture, a vacuum left by secularist rationalism. We must recognize that if part of our baptized people lack a sense of belonging to the Church, this is also due to certain structures and the occasionally unwelcoming atmosphere of some of our parishes and communities, or to a bureaucratic way of dealing with problems, be they simple or complex, in the lives of our people. In many places an administrative approach prevails over a pastoral approach, as does a concentration on administering the sacraments apart from other forms of evangelization.

64. The process of secularization tends to reduce the faith and the Church to the sphere of the private and personal. Furthermore, by completely rejecting the transcendent, it has produced a growing deterioration of ethics, a weakening of the sense of personal and collective sin, and a steady increase in relativism. These have led to a general sense of disorientation, especially in the periods of adolescence and young adulthood which are so vulnerable to change. As the bishops of the United States of America have rightly pointed out, while the Church insists on the existence of objective moral norms which are valid for everyone, "there are those in our culture who portray this teaching as unjust, that is, as opposed to basic human rights. Such claims usually follow from a form of moral relativism that is joined, not without inconsistency, to a belief in the absolute rights of individuals. In this view, the Church is perceived as promoting a particular prejudice and as interfering with individual freedom". [59] We are living in an information-driven society which bombards us indiscriminately with data – all treated as being of equal importance – and which leads to remarkable superficiality in the area of moral discernment. In response, we need to provide an education which teaches critical thinking and encourages the development of mature moral values.

65. Despite the tide of secularism which has swept our societies, in many countries – even those where Christians are a minority – the Catholic Church is considered a credible institution by public opinion, and trusted for her solidarity and concern for those in greatest need. Again and again, the Church has acted as a mediator in finding solutions to problems affecting peace, social harmony, the land, the defence of life, human and civil rights, and so forth. And how much good has been done by Catholic schools and universities around the world! This is a good thing. Yet, we find it difficult to make people see that when we raise other questions less palatable to public opinion, we are doing so out of fidelity to precisely the same convictions about human dignity and the common good.

66. The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis, as are all communities and social bonds. In the case of the family, the weakening of these bonds is particularly serious because the family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children. Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will. But the indispensible contribution of marriage to society transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple. As the French bishops have taught, it is not born "of loving sentiment, ephemeral by definition, but from the depth of the obligation assumed by the spouses who accept to enter a total communion of life". [60]

67. The individualism of our postmodern and globalized era favours a lifestyle which weakens the development and stability of personal relationships and distorts family bonds. Pastoral activity needs to bring out more clearly the fact that our relationship with the Father demands and encourages a communion which heals, promotes and reinforces interpersonal bonds. In our world, especially in some countries, different forms of war and conflict are re-emerging, yet we Christians remain steadfast in our intention to respect others, to heal wounds, to build bridges, to strengthen relationships and to "bear one another's burdens" ( Gal 6:2). Today too, various associations for the defence of rights and the pursuit of noble goals are being founded. This is a sign of the desire of many people to contribute to social and cultural progress.

[Dec 26, 2017] Pope Francis denounces trickle-down economics by Aaron Blake

Highly recommended!
This "apostolic exhortation" is probably the most sharp critique of neoliberalism by a church leader.
Notable quotes:
"... "In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world," the pope wrote. "This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting." ..."
"... In his exhortation, the pope also attacked economic inequality, suggesting Christians have a duty to combat it to comply with the Ten Commandments -- specifically the prohibition on killing. ..."
Nov 26, 2013 | www.washingtonpost.com

Pope Francis delivers a speech March 15, 2013, during a meeting of the world's cardinals. (Osservatore Romano/EPA)

Pope Francis has released a sharply worded take on capitalism and the world's treatment of its poor, criticizing "trickle-down" economic policies in no uncertain terms.

In the first lengthy writing of his papacy -- also known as an "apostolic exhortation" -- Francis says such economic theories naively rely on the goodness of those in charge and create a "tyranny" of the markets.

"In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world," the pope wrote. "This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting."

While popes have often warned against the negative impact of the markets, Francis's verbiage is note-worthy because of its use of the phrase "trickle-down" -- a term that came into popular usage as a description for former president Ronald Reagan's economic policies. While the term is often used pejoratively, it describes an economic theory that remains popular with conservatives in the United States today.

The theory holds that policies benefiting the wealthiest segment of society will also help the poor, by allowing money to "trickle down" from the top income levels into the lower ones. Critics, including President Obama, say the policies, usually focused on tax cuts and credits that primarily benefit upper-income Americans, concentrate wealth in the highest income levels and that the benefits rarely trickle down to the extent proponents suggest.

In his exhortation, the pope also attacked economic inequality, suggesting Christians have a duty to combat it to comply with the Ten Commandments -- specifically the prohibition on killing.

"Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality," the pope wrote. "Such an economy kills."

The pope also likened the worship of money to the biblical golden calf .

"We have created new idols," Francis wrote. "The worship of the ancient golden calf ... has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose."

The pope also attacks "consumerism": "It is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric."

Here is the entire passage:

I. SOME CHALLENGES OF TODAY'S WORLD

52. In our time humanity is experiencing a turning-point in its history, as we can see from the advances being made in so many fields. We can only praise the steps being taken to improve people's welfare in areas such as health care, education and communications. At the same time we have to remember that the majority of our contemporaries are barely living from day to day, with dire consequences. A number of diseases are spreading. The hearts of many people are gripped by fear and desperation, even in the so-called rich countries. The joy of living frequently fades, lack of respect for others and violence are on the rise, and inequality is increasingly evident. It is a struggle to live and, often, to live with precious little dignity. This epochal change has been set in motion by the enormous qualitative, quantitative, rapid and cumulative advances occuring in the sciences and in technology, and by their instant application in different areas of nature and of life. We are in an age of knowledge and information, which has led to new and often anonymous kinds of power.

No to an economy of exclusion

53. Just as the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say "thou shalt not" to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a "disposable" culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society's underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the "exploited" but the outcast, the "leftovers".

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people's pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else's responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

No to the new idolatry of money

55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

No to a financial system which rules rather than serves

57. Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside of the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: "Not to share one's wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs". [55]

58. A financial reform open to such ethical considerations would require a vigorous change of approach on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and an eye to the future, while not ignoring, of course, the specifics of each case. Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and a return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.

No to the inequality which spawns violence

59. Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples is reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root. Just as goodness tends to spread, the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system, no matter how solid it may appear. If every action has its consequences, an evil embedded in the structures of a society has a constant potential for disintegration and death. It is evil crystallized in unjust social structures, which cannot be the basis of hope for a better future. We are far from the so-called "end of history", since the conditions for a sustainable and peaceful development have not yet been adequately articulated and realized.

60. Today's economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. This serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an "education" that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.

[Dec 22, 2017] Latin America The Pendulum Swings to the Right, by James Petras

Argentina is essentially the case of neoliberalism renaissance after 2008 debacle. So this is about strange non-death of neoliberalism after 2008. This is not traditional right wing regime (which usually isolationalist for smaller countries and suspicious of the USA and international financial capital)
Notable quotes:
"... populism for the plutocrats' ..."
Dec 22, 2017 | www.unz.com

Introduction

Clearly the pendulum has swung to the right in the past few years. Numerous questions arise. What kind of right? How far right? How did they gain power? What is their appeal? How sustainable are the right wing regimes? Who are their international allies and adversaries? Having taken power, how have the rightist regimes performed and by what criteria is success or failure measured?

While the left has been in retreat, they still retain power in some states. Numerous questions arise. What is the nature of the left today? Why have some regimes continued while others have declined or been vanquished? Can the left recover its influence and under what conditions and with what programmatic appeal.

We will proceed by discussing the character and policies of the right and left and their direction. We will conclude by analyzing the dynamics of right and left policies, alignments and future perspectives.

Right-Radicalism: The Face of Power

The right wing regimes are driven by intent to implement structural changes: they look to reordering the nature of the state, economic and social relations and international political and economic alignments.

Radical right regimes rule in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, Guatemala, Honduras and Chile.

In several countries extreme right regimes have made abrupt changes, while in others they build on incremental changes constituted over time.

The changes in Argentina and Brazil represent examples of extreme regressive transformations directed at reversing income distribution, property relations, international alignments and military strategies. The goal is to redistribute income upwardly, to re-concentrate wealth, property-ownership upward and externally and to subscribe to imperial doctrine. These pluto-populist regimes are run by rulers, who openly speak to and for very powerful domestic and overseas investors and are generous in their distribution of subsidies and state resources – a kind of ' populism for the plutocrats' .

The rise and consolidation of extremist right regimes in Argentina and Brazil are based on several decisive interventions, combining elections and violence, purges and co-optation, mass media propaganda and deep corruption.

Mauricio Macri was backed by the major media, led by the Clarin conglomerate, as well as by the international financial press (Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.). Wall Street speculators and Washington's overseas political apparatus subsidized his electoral campaign.

Macri, his family, cronies and financial accomplices, transferred public resources to private accounts. Provincial political bosses and their patronage operations joined forces with the wealthy financial sectors of Buenos Aires to secure votes in the Capital.

Upon his election, the Mauricio Macri regime transferred five billion dollars to the notorious Wall Street speculator, Paul Singer, signed off on multi-billion dollar, high interest loans, increased utility fees six fold, privatized oil, gas and public lands and fired tens of thousands of public sector employees.

Macri organized a political purge and arrest of opposition political leaders, including former President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner. Several provincial activists were jailed or even assassinated.

Macri is a success story from the perspective of Wall Street, Washington and the Porteño business elite. Wages and salaries have declined for Argentine workers. Utility companies secured their highest profits ever. Bankers doubled interest rate returns. Importers became millionaires. Agro-business incomes skyrocketed as their taxes were reduced.

From the perspective of Argentina's small and medium business enterprises President Macri's regime has been a disaster: Many thousands have gone bankrupt because of high utility costs and harsh competition from cheap Chinese imports. In addition to the drop in wages and salaries, unemployment and under employment doubled and the rate of extreme poverty tripled

The economy, as a whole, floundered. Debt financing failed to promote growth, productivity, innovation and exports. Foreign investment experienced easy entry, big profits and fast departure. The promise of prosperity was narrowly based around a quarter of the population. To weaken the expected public discontent – the regime shut down independent media voices, unleashed thugs against critics and co-opted pliable gangster trade union bosses to break strikes.

Public protests and strikes multiplied but were ignored and repressed. Popular leaders and activists are stigmatized by the Macri-financed media hacks.

Barring a major social upheaval or economic collapse, Macri will exploit the fragmentation of the opposition to secure re-election as a model gangster for Wall Street. Macri is prepared to sign off on US military bases, EU free trade agreements, and greater police liaison with Israel's sinister secret police, Mossad.

Brazil has followed Macri's far right policies.

Seizing power through a phony impeachment operation, the mega-swindler Michel Temer immediately proceeded to dismantle the entire public sector, freeze salaries for twenty years, and extend retirement age for pensioners by five to ten years. Temer led over a thousand bribe-taking elected officials in the multi-billion dollar pillage of the state oil company and every major public infrastructure project.

Coup, corruption and contempt were hidden by a system granting Congressional impunity until independent prosecutors investigated, charged and jailed several dozen politicians, but not Temer. Despite 95% public disapproval, President Temer remains in power with the total backing of Wall Street, the Pentagon and Sao Paolo bankers.

Mexico, the long-standing narco-assassin state, continues elect one thieving PRI-PAN political regime after another. Billions in illicit profits flows to the overseas tax havens of money laundering bankers, US and Canadian mine owners. Mexican and international manufacturers extracted double digit profits sent, to overseas accounts and tax havens. Mexico broke its own miserable record in elite tax avoidance, while extending low wage-tax 'free trade zones'. Millions of Mexicans have fled across the border to escape predatory gangster capitalism. The flow of hundreds of millions of dollars of profits by US and Canadian multi-nationals were a result of the 'unequal exchange' between US capital and Mexican labor, held in place by Mexico's fraudulent electoral system.

In at least two well-known presidential elections in 1988 and 2006, left of center candidates, Cuahtemoc Cardenas and Manuel Lopez Obrador, won with healthy margins of victory, only to have their victories stolen by fraudulent vote counts.

Peru's rightist mining regimes, alternated between the overtly bloody Fujimori dictatorship and corrupt electoral regimes. What is consistent in Peruvian politics is the handover of mineral resources to foreign capital, pervasive corruption and the brutal exploitation of natural resources by US and Canadian mining and drilling corporations in regions inhabited by Indian communities.

The extreme right ousted elected left-of-center governments, including President Fernando Lugo in Paraguay (2008-2012) and Manuel Zelaya in Honduras (2006-2009), with the active support and approval of the US State Department. Narco-presidents now wield power by means of repression, including violence against popular movements and the killing of scores of peasant and urban activists. This year, a grossly rigged election in Honduras ensured the continuity of narco-regimes and US military bases.

The spread of the extreme right from Central America and Mexico to the Southern Cone provides the groundwork for the re-assertion of US centered military alliances and regional trade pacts.

The rise of the extreme right ensures the most lucrative privatizations and the highest rates of return on overseas bank loans. The far right is quick to crack down on popular dissent and electoral challenges with violence. At most the far right allows a few rotating elites with nationalist pretensions to provide a façade of electoral democracy.

The Shift from the Center-Left to the Center-Right

The political swings to the far right have had profound ripple effects – as nominal center-left regimes have swung to the center-right.

Two regimes have moved decisively from the center-left to the center-right: Uruguay under Tabare Vazquez of the 'Broad Front' and Ecuador with the recent election of Lenin Moreno of PAIS Alliance. In both cases the groundwork was established via accommodations with oligarchs of the traditional right parties. The previous center-left regimes of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and Uruguayan President Jose Mujica succeeded in pushing for public investments and social reforms. They combined their leftist rhetoric while capitalizing on the global high prices and high demand for agro-mineral exports to finance their reforms. With the decline in world prices and the public exposure of corruption, the newly elected center-left parties nominated and elected center –right candidates who turned anti-corruption campaigns into vehicles for embracing neoliberal economic policies. The center-right presidents rejected economic nationalism, encouraged large scale foreign investment and implemented fiscal austerity programs appealing to the upper middle class and ruling class.

The center-right regimes marginalized the leftist sectors of their parties. In the case of Ecuador, they split the party, with the newly elected president realigning international policies away from the left (Bolivia, Venezuela) and toward the US and the far right– while shedding the legacy of their predecessor in terms of popular social programs.

With the decline in export prices the center-right regimes offered generous subsidies to foreign investors in agriculture and forestry in Uruguay, and mine owners and exporters in Ecuador.

The newly converted center-right regimes joined with their established counterparts in Chile and joined the Trans Pacific Partnership with Asian nations, the EU and the US.

The center-right sought to manipulate the social rhetoric of the previous center-left regimes in order to retain popular voters while securing support from the business elite.

The Left Moves to the Center Left

Bolivia, under Evo Morales, has demonstrated an exceptional capacity for sustaining growth, securing re-election and neutralizing the opposition by combining a radical left foreign policy with a moderate, mixed public-private export economy. While Bolivia condemns US imperialism, major oil, gas, metals and lithium multi-nationals have invested heavily in Bolivia. Evo Morales has moderated his ideological posture shifting from revolutionary socialism to a local version of liberal democratic cultural politics.

Evo Morales' embrace of a mixed economy has neutralized any overt hostility from the US and the new far-right regimes in the region

Though remaining politically independent, Bolivia has integrated its exports with the far right neoliberal regimes in the region. President Evo Morales's moderate economic policies, diversity of mineral exports, fiscal responsibility, incremental social reforms, and support from well-organized social movements has led to political stability and social continuity despite the volatility of commodity prices.

Venezuela's left regimes under President Hugo Chavez and Maduro have followed a divergent course with harsh consequences. Totally dependent on extraordinary global oil prices, Venezuela proceeded to finance generous welfare programs at home and abroad. Under President Chavez leadership, Venezuela adopted a consequential anti-imperialist policy successfully opposing a US centered free trade agreement (LAFTA) and launching an anti-imperialist alternative, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA).

Advancing social welfare and financing overseas allies without diversifying the economy and markets and increasing production was predicated on continuous high returns on a single volatile export – oil.

Unlike Bolivia under President Evo Morales, who built his power with the support of an organized, class conscious and disciplined mass base, Venezuela counted on an amorphous electoral alliance, which included slum dwellers, defectors from the corrupt traditional parties (across the spectrum) and opportunists intent on grabbing office and perks. Political education was reduced to mouthing slogans, cheering the President and distributing consumer goods.

Venezuelan technocrats and political loyalists occupied highly lucrative positions, especially in the petroleum sector and were not held to account by workers' councils or competent state auditors. Corruption was rampant and billions of dollars of oil wealth was stolen. This pillage was tolerated because of the huge influx of petro-dollars due to historic high prices and high demand. This led to a bizarre situation where the regime spoke of socialism and funded massive social programs, while the major banks, food distributers, importers and transportation operators were controlled by hostile private oligarchs who pocketed enormous profits while manufacturing shortages and promoting inflation. Despite the problems, the Venezuelan voters gave the regime a series of electoral victories over the US proxies and oligarch politicians. This tended to create overconfidence in the regime that the Bolivarian socialist model was irrevocable.

The precipitous drop of oil prices, global demand, and export earnings led to the decline of imports and consumption. Unlike Bolivia, foreign reserves declined, the rampant theft of billions was belatedly uncovered and the US-backed rightwing opposition returned to violent 'direct action' and sabotage while hoarding essential food, consumer goods and medicine. Shortages led to widespread black marketeering. Public sector corruption and hostile opposition control of the private banking, retail and industrial sectors, backed by the US, paralyzed the economy. The economy has been in a free-fall and electoral support has eroded. Despite the regime's severe problems, the majority of low income voters correctly understood that their chances of surviving under the US-backed oligarchic opposition would be worse and the embattled left continued to win gubernatorial and municipal elections up through 2017.

Venezuela's economic vulnerability and negative growth rate led to increased indebtedness. The opposition of the extreme right regimes in Latin America and Washington's economic sanctions has intensified food shortages and increased unemployment.

In contrast, Bolivia effectively defeated US-elite coup plots between 2008-10. The Santa Cruz-based oligarchs faced the clear choice of either sharing profits and social stability by signing off on social pacts (workers/peasants, capital and state) with the Morales government or facing an alliance of the government and the militant labor movement prepared to expropriate their holdings. The elites chose economic collaboration while pursuing low intensity electoral opposition.

Conclusion

Left opposition is in retreat from state power. Opposition to the extreme right is likely to grow, given the harsh, uncompromising assault on income, pensions, the rise in the cost of living, severe reductions in social programs and attacks on private and public sector employment. The extreme right has several options, none of which offer any concessions to the left. They have chosen to heighten police state measures (the Macri solution); they attempt to fragment the opposition by negotiating with the opportunist trade union and political party bosses; and they reshuffle degraded rulers with new faces to continue policies (the Brazilian solution).

The formerly revolutionary left parties, movements and leaders have evolved toward electoral politics, protests and job action. So far they do not represent an effective political option at the national level

The center-left, especially in Brazil and Ecuador, is in a strong position with dynamic political leaders (Lula DaSilva and Correa) but face trumped up charges by right-wing prosecutors who intend to exclude them from running for office. Unless the center-left reformers engage in prolonged large-scale mass activity, the far right will effectively undermine their political recovery.

The US imperial state has temporarily regained proxy regimes, military allies and economic resources and markets. China and the European Union profit from optimal economic conditions offered by the far right regimes. The US military program has effectively neutralized the radical opposition in Colombia, and the Trump regime has intensified and imposed new sanctions on Venezuela and Cuba.

The Trump regimes 'triumphalist' celebration is premature – no decisive strategic victory has taken place, despite important short term advances in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. However large outflows of profits, major transfers of ownership to foreign investors, favorable tax rates, low tariff and trade policies have yet to generate new productive facilities, sustainable growth and to ensure economic fundamentals. Maximizing profits and ignoring investments in productivity and innovation to promote domestic markets and demand has bankrupted tens of thousands of medium and small local commercial and manufacturing firms. This has led to rising chronic unemployment and underemployment. Marginalization and social polarization without political leadership is growing. Such conditions led to 'spontaneous' uprisings in Argentina 2001, Ecuador 2000 and Bolivia 2005.

The far right in power may not evoke a rebellion of the far left but its policies can certainly undermine the stability and continuity of the current regimes. At a minimum, it can lead to some version of the center left and restoration of the welfare and employment regimes now in tatters.

In the meantime the far right will press ahead with their perverse agenda combining deep reversals of social welfare, the degradation of national sovereignty and economic stagnation with a formidable profit maximizing performance.

Jason Liu , December 19, 2017 at 7:04 pm GMT

I think this author is on the wrong site. None of those countries have "radical right" governments. Right wing radicals believe in social hierarchy regardless of wealth distribution.
Miro23 , December 20, 2017 at 3:11 am GMT

In contrast, Bolivia effectively defeated US-elite coup plots between 2008-10. The Santa Cruz-based oligarchs faced the clear choice of either sharing profits and social stability by signing off on social pacts (workers/peasants, capital and state) with the Morales government or facing an alliance of the government and the militant labor movement prepared to expropriate their holdings. The elites chose economic collaboration while pursuing low intensity electoral opposition.

This is an intelligent form of Bolivia First, looking for good relations with International Capital, but putting the wellbeing of all Bolivians first.

And interestingly it works.

According to a report by the Centre for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) in Washington, "Bolivia has grown much faster over the last eight years than in any period over the past three and a half decades." The benefits of such growth have been felt by the Bolivian people: under Morales, poverty has declined by 25% and extreme poverty has declined by 43%; social spending has increased by more than 45%; the real minimum wage has increased by 87.7%; and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean has praised Bolivia for being "one of the few countries that has reduced inequality". In this respect, the re-election of Morales is really very simple: people like to be economically secure – so if you reduce poverty, they'll probably vote for you.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/14/evo-morales-reelected-socialism-doesnt-damage-economies-bolivia

Turns out the difference between Bolivia and Venezuela has nothing to do with abstract ideological labels, and everything to do with fiscal prudence.
I know, I know, fiscal prudence sounds deadly dull, but it makes an enormous difference in real people's lives. While Venezuela's reckless socialists were impoverishing the country's once thriving middle class, Bolivia's socialists were creating an entirely new indigenous middle class, even spawning a whole new style of architecture along with it. Why? Because newly affluent Bolivians can afford it: Per capita GDP more than tripled from just $1,000 a year to over $3,200 over a decade. At the same time, new government social programs designed to help older people, mothers and other at-risk groups saw to major improvements in social indicators. To take just one, consider this: Thirty-two percent of Bolivians were chronically malnourished in 2003. By 2012, just 18 percent were.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2017/01/05/as-socialist-venezuela-collapses-socialist-bolivia-thrives-heres-why/?utm_term=.9f988144dca4

The "CONSERVATIVE SOCIALISM" of Bolivia's Evo Morales

https://panampost.com/editor/2017/05/10/conservative-bolivia-evo-morales/

Lemurmaniac , December 20, 2017 at 10:03 am GMT
Oligarchic regimes pursuing the factional, plutocratic, trans-national good are merely an older form of the liberal left.

They're a cargo cult of the true hierarchical expressions of a right wing order in the realm of gross materialism.

The post-liberal right is interested in securing the COMMON GOOD.

[Dec 16, 2017] Brexit, Trump, and the Dangers of Global 'Jihad' HuffPost by Ben Railton

For 1995 the book Jihad vs. McWorld was really groundbreaking.
Also the concept of "Neoliberal jihad is valid, but it is better to call it Neoliberal World revolution as it was borrowed from Trotskyism
Notable quotes:
"... Jihad vs. McWorld ..."
"... In the two decades since Barber's book, this conflict has seemed to play out along overtly cultural lines: with Islamic extremism representing jihad, in opposition to Western neoliberalism representing McWorld. ..."
"... Linking Brexit and Trump to global right-wing tribal nationalisms doesn't mean conflating them all, of course. ..."
"... Yet at the same time, we can't understand our 21st century world without a recognition of this widespread phenomenon of global, tribal nationalism. ..."
Dec 11, 2017 | www.huffingtonpost.com

In his ground-breaking 1995 book Jihad vs. McWorld , political scientist Benjamin Barber posits that the global conflicts of the early 21st century would be driven by two opposing but equally undemocratic forces: neoliberal corporate globalization (which he dubbed "McWorld") and reactionary tribal nationalisms (which he dubbed "Jihad"). Although distinct in many ways, both of these forces, Barber persuasively argues, succeed by denying the possibilities for democratic consensus and action, and so both must be opposed by civic engagement and activism on a broad scale.

In the two decades since Barber's book, this conflict has seemed to play out along overtly cultural lines: with Islamic extremism representing jihad, in opposition to Western neoliberalism representing McWorld. Case in pitch-perfect point: the Al Qaeda terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Yet despite his use of the Arabic word Jihad, Barber is clear that reactionary tribalism is a worldwide phenomenon -- and in 2016 we're seeing particularly striking examples of that tribalism in Western nations such as Great Britain and the United States.

Britain's vote this week in favor of leaving the European Union was driven entirely by such reactionary tribal nationalism. The far-right United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and its leader Nigel Farage led the charge in favor of Leave , as exemplified by a recent UKIP poster featuring a photo of Syrian refugees with the caption " Breaking point: the EU has failed us ." Farage and his allies like to point to demographic statistics about how much the UK has changed in the last few decades , and more exactly how the nation's white majority has been somewhat shifted over that time by the arrival of sizeable African and Asian immigrant communities.

It's impossible not to link the UKIP's emphases on such issues of immigration and demography to the presidential campaign of the one prominent U.S. politician who is cheering for the Brexit vote : presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump. From his campaign-launching speech about Mexican immigrant "criminals and rapists" to his proposal to ban Muslim immigration and his "Make American Great Again" slogan, Trump has relied on reactionary tribal nationalism at every stage of his campaign, and has received the enthusiastic endorsement of white supremacist and far-right organizations as a result. For such American tribal nationalists, the 1965 Immigration Act is the chief bogeyman, the origin point of continuing demographic shifts that have placed white America in a precarious position.

The only problem with that narrative is that it's entirely inaccurate. What the 1965 Act did was reverse a recent, exclusionary trend in American immigration law and policy, returning the nation to the more inclusive and welcoming stance it had taken throughout the rest of its history. Moreover, while the numbers of Americans from Latin American, Asian, and Muslim cultures have increased in recent decades, all of those communities have been part of o ur national community from its origin points . Which is to say, this right-wing tribal nationalism isn't just opposed to fundamental realities of 21st century American identity -- it also depends on historical and national narratives that are as mythic as they are exclusionary.

Linking Brexit and Trump to global right-wing tribal nationalisms doesn't mean conflating them all, of course. Although Trump rallies have featured troubling instances of violence, and although the murderer of British politican Jo Cox was an avowed white supremacist and Leave supporter, the right-wing Islamic extremism of groups such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram rely far more consistently and centrally on violence and terrorism in support of their worldview and goals. Such specific contexts and nuances are important and shouldn't be elided.

Yet at the same time, we can't understand our 21st century world without a recognition of this widespread phenomenon of global, tribal nationalism. From ISIS to UKIP, Trump to France's Jean-Marie Le Pen, such reactionary forces have become and remain dominant players across the world, influencing local and international politics, economics, and culture. Benjamin Barber called this trend two decades ago, and we would do well to read and remember his analyses -- as well as his call for civic engagement and activism to resist these forces and fight for democracy.

Ben Railton Professor & public scholar of American Studies, Follow Ben Railton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AmericanStudier

[Dec 15, 2017] Rise and Decline of the Welfare State, by James Petras

Highly recommended!
Petras did not mention that it was Carter who started neoliberalization of the USA. The subsequent election of Reagan signified the victory of neoliberalism in this country or "quite coup". The death of New Deal from this point was just a matter of time. Labor relations drastically changes and war on union and atomization of workforce are a norm.
Welfare state still exists but only for corporation and MIC. Otherwise the New Deal society is almost completely dismanted.
It is true that "The ' New Deal' was, at best, a de facto ' historical compromise' between the capitalist class and the labor unions, mediated by the Democratic Party elite. It was a temporary pact in which the unions secured legal recognition while the capitalists retained their executive prerogatives." But the key factor in this compromise was the existence of the USSR as a threat to the power of capitalists in the USA. when the USSR disappeared cannibalistic instincts of the US elite prevailed over caution.
Notable quotes:
"... The earlier welfare 'reforms' and the current anti-welfare legislation and austerity practices have been accompanied by a series of endless imperial wars, especially in the Middle East. ..."
"... In the 1940's through the 1960's, world and regional wars (Korea and Indo-China) were combined with significant welfare program – a form of ' social imperialism' , which 'buy off' the working class while expanding the empire. However, recent decades are characterized by multiple regional wars and the reduction or elimination of welfare programs – and a massive growth in poverty, domestic insecurity and poor health. ..."
"... modern welfare state' ..."
"... Labor unions were organized as working class strikes and progressive legislation facilitated trade union organization, elections, collective bargaining rights and a steady increase in union membership. Improved work conditions, rising wages, pension plans and benefits, employer or union-provided health care and protective legislation improved the standard of living for the working class and provided for 2 generations of upward mobility. ..."
"... Social Security legislation was approved along with workers' compensation and the forty-hour workweek. Jobs were created through federal programs (WPA, CCC, etc.). Protectionist legislation facilitated the growth of domestic markets for US manufacturers. Workplace shop steward councils organized 'on the spot' job action to protect safe working conditions. ..."
"... World War II led to full employment and increases in union membership, as well as legislation restricting workers' collective bargaining rights and enforcing wage freezes. Hundreds of thousands of Americans found jobs in the war economy but a huge number were also killed or wounded in the war. ..."
"... So-called ' right to work' ..."
"... Trade union officials signed pacts with capital: higher pay for the workers and greater control of the workplace for the bosses. Trade union officials joined management in repressing rank and file movements seeking to control technological changes by reducing hours (" thirty hours work for forty hours pay ..."
"... Trade union activists, community organizers for rent control and other grassroots movements lost both the capacity and the will to advance toward large-scale structural changes of US capitalism. Living standards improved for a few decades but the capitalist class consolidated strategic control over labor relations. While unionized workers' incomes, increased, inequalities, especially in the non-union sectors began to grow. With the end of the GI bill, veterans' access to high-quality subsidized education declined ..."
"... With the election of President Carter, social welfare in the US began its long decline. The next series of regional wars were accompanied by even greater attacks on welfare via the " Volker Plan " – freezing workers' wages as a means to combat inflation. ..."
"... Guns without butter' became the legislative policy of the Carter and Reagan Administrations. The welfare programs were based on politically fragile foundations. ..."
"... The anti-labor offensive from the ' Oval Office' intensified under President Reagan with his direct intervention firing tens of thousands of striking air controllers and arresting union leaders. Under Presidents Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and William Clinton cost of living adjustments failed to keep up with prices of vital goods and services. Health care inflation was astronomical. Financial deregulation led to the subordination of American industry to finance and the Wall Street banks. De-industrialization, capital flight and massive tax evasion reduced labor's share of national income. ..."
"... The capitalist class followed a trajectory of decline, recovery and ascendance. Moreover, during the earlier world depression, at the height of labor mobilization and organization, the capitalist class never faced any significant political threat over its control of the commanding heights of the economy ..."
"... Hand in bloody glove' with the US Empire, the American trade unions planted the seeds of their own destruction at home. The local capitalists in newly emerging independent nations established industries and supply chains in cooperation with US manufacturers. Attracted to these sources of low-wage, violently repressed workers, US capitalists subsequently relocated their factories overseas and turned their backs on labor at home. ..."
"... President 'Bill' Clinton ravaged Russia, Yugoslavia, Iraq and Somalia and liberated Wall Street. His regime gave birth to the prototype billionaire swindlers: Michael Milken and Bernard 'Bernie' Madoff. ..."
"... Clinton converted welfare into cheap labor 'workfare', exploiting the poorest and most vulnerable and condemning the next generations to grinding poverty. Under Clinton the prison population of mostly African Americans expanded and the breakup of families ravaged the urban communities. ..."
"... President Obama transferred 2 trillion dollars to the ten biggest bankers and swindlers on Wall Street, and another trillion to the Pentagon to pursue the Democrats version of foreign policy: from Bush's two overseas wars to Obama's seven. ..."
"... Obama was elected to two terms. His liberal Democratic Party supporters swooned over his peace and justice rhetoric while swallowing his militarist escalation into seven overseas wars as well as the foreclosure of two million American householders. Obama completely failed to honor his campaign promise to reduce wage inequality between black and white wage earners while he continued to moralize to black families about ' values' . ..."
"... Obama's war against Libya led to the killing and displacement of millions of black Libyans and workers from Sub-Saharan Africa. The smiling Nobel Peace Prize President created more desperate refugees than any previous US head of state – including millions of Africans flooding Europe. ..."
"... Forty-years of anti welfare legislation and pro-business regimes paved the golden road for the election of Donald Trump ..."
"... Trump and the Republicans are focusing on the tattered remnants of the social welfare system: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. The remains of FDR's New Deal and LBJ's Great Society -- are on the chopping block. ..."
"... The moribund (but well-paid) labor leadership has been notable by its absence in the ensuing collapse of the social welfare state. The liberal left Democrats embraced the platitudinous Obama/Clinton team as the 'Great Society's' gravediggers, while wailing at Trump's allies for shoving the corpse of welfare state into its grave. ..."
"... Over the past forty years the working class and the rump of what was once referred to as the ' labor movement' has contributed to the dismantling of the social welfare state, voting for ' strike-breaker' Reagan, ' workfare' Clinton, ' Wall Street crash' Bush, ' Wall Street savior' Obama and ' Trickle-down' Trump. ..."
"... Gone are the days when social welfare and profitable wars raised US living standards and transformed American trade unions into an appendage of the Democratic Party and a handmaiden of Empire. The Democratic Party rescued capitalism from its collapse in the Great Depression, incorporated labor into the war economy and the post- colonial global empire, and resurrected Wall Street from the 'Great Financial Meltdown' of the 21 st century. ..."
"... The war economy no longer fuels social welfare. The military-industrial complex has found new partners on Wall Street and among the globalized multi-national corporations. Profits rise while wages fall. Low paying compulsive labor (workfare) lopped off state transfers to the poor. Technology – IT, robotics, artificial intelligence and electronic gadgets – has created the most class polarized social system in history ..."
"... "The collaboration of liberals and unions in promoting endless wars opened the door to Trump's mirage of a stateless, tax-less, ruling class." ..."
"... Corporations [now] are welfare recipients and the bigger they are, the more handouts they suck up ..."
"... Corporations not only continuously seek monopolies (with the aid and sanction of the state) but they steadily fine tune the welfare state for their benefit. In fact, in reality, welfare for prols and peasants wouldn't exist if it didn't act as a money conduit and ultimate profit center for the big money grubbers. ..."
"... The article is dismal reading, and evidence of the failings of the "unregulated" society, where the anything goes as long as you are wealthy. ..."
"... Like the Pentagon. Americans still don't readily call this welfare, but they will eventually. Defense profiteers are unions in a sense, you're either in their club Or you're in the service industry that surrounds it. ..."
Dec 13, 2017 | www.unz.com

Introduction

The American welfare state was created in 1935 and continued to develop through 1973. Since then, over a prolonged period, the capitalist class has been steadily dismantling the entire welfare state.

Between the mid 1970's to the present (2017) labor laws, welfare rights and benefits and the construction of and subsidies for affordable housing have been gutted. ' Workfare' (under President 'Bill' Clinton) ended welfare for the poor and displaced workers. Meanwhile the shift to regressive taxation and the steadily declining real wages have increased corporate profits to an astronomical degree.

What started as incremental reversals during the 1990's under Clinton has snowballed over the last two decades decimating welfare legislation and institutions.

The earlier welfare 'reforms' and the current anti-welfare legislation and austerity practices have been accompanied by a series of endless imperial wars, especially in the Middle East.

In the 1940's through the 1960's, world and regional wars (Korea and Indo-China) were combined with significant welfare program – a form of ' social imperialism' , which 'buy off' the working class while expanding the empire. However, recent decades are characterized by multiple regional wars and the reduction or elimination of welfare programs – and a massive growth in poverty, domestic insecurity and poor health.

New Deals and Big Wars

The 1930's witnessed the advent of social legislation and action, which laid the foundations of what is called the ' modern welfare state' .

Labor unions were organized as working class strikes and progressive legislation facilitated trade union organization, elections, collective bargaining rights and a steady increase in union membership. Improved work conditions, rising wages, pension plans and benefits, employer or union-provided health care and protective legislation improved the standard of living for the working class and provided for 2 generations of upward mobility.

Social Security legislation was approved along with workers' compensation and the forty-hour workweek. Jobs were created through federal programs (WPA, CCC, etc.). Protectionist legislation facilitated the growth of domestic markets for US manufacturers. Workplace shop steward councils organized 'on the spot' job action to protect safe working conditions.

World War II led to full employment and increases in union membership, as well as legislation restricting workers' collective bargaining rights and enforcing wage freezes. Hundreds of thousands of Americans found jobs in the war economy but a huge number were also killed or wounded in the war.

The post-war period witnessed a contradictory process: wages and salaries increased while legislation curtailed union rights via the Taft Hartley Act and the McCarthyist purge of leftwing trade union activists. So-called ' right to work' laws effectively outlawed unionization mostly in southern states, which drove industries to relocate to the anti-union states.

Welfare reforms, in the form of the GI bill, provided educational opportunities for working class and rural veterans, while federal-subsidized low interest mortgages encourage home-ownership, especially for veterans.

The New Deal created concrete improvements but did not consolidate labor influence at any level. Capitalists and management still retained control over capital, the workplace and plant location of production.

Trade union officials signed pacts with capital: higher pay for the workers and greater control of the workplace for the bosses. Trade union officials joined management in repressing rank and file movements seeking to control technological changes by reducing hours (" thirty hours work for forty hours pay "). Dissident local unions were seized and gutted by the trade union bosses – sometimes through violence.

Trade union activists, community organizers for rent control and other grassroots movements lost both the capacity and the will to advance toward large-scale structural changes of US capitalism. Living standards improved for a few decades but the capitalist class consolidated strategic control over labor relations. While unionized workers' incomes, increased, inequalities, especially in the non-union sectors began to grow. With the end of the GI bill, veterans' access to high-quality subsidized education declined.

While a new wave of social welfare legislation and programs began in the 1960's and early 1970's it was no longer a result of a mass trade union or workers' "class struggle". Moreover, trade union collaboration with the capitalist regional war policies led to the killing and maiming of hundreds of thousands of workers in two wars – the Korean and Vietnamese wars.

Much of social legislation resulted from the civil and welfare rights movements. While specific programs were helpful, none of them addressed structural racism and poverty.

The Last Wave of Social Welfarism

The 1960'a witnessed the greatest racial war in modern US history: Mass movements in the South and North rocked state and federal governments, while advancing the cause of civil, social and political rights. Millions of black citizens, joined by white activists and, in many cases, led by African American Viet Nam War veterans, confronted the state. At the same time, millions of students and young workers, threatened by military conscription, challenged the military and social order.

Energized by mass movements, a new wave of social welfare legislation was launched by the federal government to pacify mass opposition among blacks, students, community organizers and middle class Americans. Despite this mass popular movement, the union bosses at the AFL-CIO openly supported the war, police repression and the military, or at best, were passive impotent spectators of the drama unfolding in the nation's streets. Dissident union members and activists were the exception, as many had multiple identities to represent: African American, Hispanic, draft resisters, etc.

Under Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, Medicare, Medicaid, OSHA, the EPA and multiple poverty programs were implemented. A national health program, expanding Medicare for all Americans, was introduced by President Nixon and sabotaged by the Kennedy Democrats and the AFL-CIO. Overall, social and economic inequalities diminished during this period.

The Vietnam War ended in defeat for the American militarist empire. This coincided with the beginning of the end of social welfare as we knew it – as the bill for militarism placed even greater demands on the public treasury.

With the election of President Carter, social welfare in the US began its long decline. The next series of regional wars were accompanied by even greater attacks on welfare via the " Volker Plan " – freezing workers' wages as a means to combat inflation.

Guns without butter' became the legislative policy of the Carter and Reagan Administrations. The welfare programs were based on politically fragile foundations.

The Debacle of Welfarism

Private sector trade union membership declined from a post-world war peak of 30% falling to 12% in the 1990's. Today it has sunk to 7%. Capitalists embarked on a massive program of closing thousands of factories in the unionized North which were then relocated to the non-unionized low wage southern states and then overseas to Mexico and Asia. Millions of stable jobs disappeared.

Following the election of 'Jimmy Carter', neither Democratic nor Republican Presidents felt any need to support labor organizations. On the contrary, they facilitated contracts dictated by management, which reduced wages, job security, benefits and social welfare.

The anti-labor offensive from the ' Oval Office' intensified under President Reagan with his direct intervention firing tens of thousands of striking air controllers and arresting union leaders. Under Presidents Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and William Clinton cost of living adjustments failed to keep up with prices of vital goods and services. Health care inflation was astronomical. Financial deregulation led to the subordination of American industry to finance and the Wall Street banks. De-industrialization, capital flight and massive tax evasion reduced labor's share of national income.

The capitalist class followed a trajectory of decline, recovery and ascendance. Moreover, during the earlier world depression, at the height of labor mobilization and organization, the capitalist class never faced any significant political threat over its control of the commanding heights of the economy.

The ' New Deal' was, at best, a de facto ' historical compromise' between the capitalist class and the labor unions, mediated by the Democratic Party elite. It was a temporary pact in which the unions secured legal recognition while the capitalists retained their executive prerogatives.

The Second World War secured the economic recovery for capital and subordinated labor through a federally mandated no strike production agreement. There were a few notable exceptions: The coal miners' union organized strikes in strategic sectors and some leftist leaders and organizers encouraged slow-downs, work to rule and other in-plant actions when employers ran roughshod with special brutality over the workers. The recovery of capital was the prelude to a post-war offensive against independent labor-based political organizations. The quality of labor organization declined even as the quantity of trade union membership increased.

Labor union officials consolidated internal control in collaboration with the capitalist elite. Capitalist class-labor official collaboration was extended overseas with strategic consequences.

The post-war corporate alliance between the state and capital led to a global offensive – the replacement of European-Japanese colonial control and exploitation by US business and bankers. Imperialism was later 're-branded' as ' globalization' . It pried open markets, secured cheap docile labor and pillaged resources for US manufacturers and importers.

US labor unions played a major role by sabotaging militant unions abroad in cooperation with the US security apparatus: They worked to coopt and bribe nationalist and leftist labor leaders and supported police-state regime repression and assassination of recalcitrant militants.

' Hand in bloody glove' with the US Empire, the American trade unions planted the seeds of their own destruction at home. The local capitalists in newly emerging independent nations established industries and supply chains in cooperation with US manufacturers. Attracted to these sources of low-wage, violently repressed workers, US capitalists subsequently relocated their factories overseas and turned their backs on labor at home.

Labor union officials had laid the groundwork for the demise of stable jobs and social benefits for American workers. Their collaboration increased the rate of capitalist profit and overall power in the political system. Their complicity in the brutal purges of militants, activists and leftist union members and leaders at home and abroad put an end to labor's capacity to sustain and expand the welfare state.

Trade unions in the US did not use their collaboration with empire in its bloody regional wars to win social benefits for the rank and file workers. The time of social-imperialism, where workers within the empire benefited from imperialism's pillage, was over. Gains in social welfare henceforth could result only from mass struggles led by the urban poor, especially Afro-Americans, community-based working poor and militant youth organizers.

The last significant social welfare reforms were implemented in the early 1970's – coinciding with the end of the Vietnam War (and victory for the Vietnamese people) and ended with the absorption of the urban and anti-war movements into the Democratic Party.

Henceforward the US corporate state advanced through the overseas expansion of the multi-national corporations and via large-scale, non-unionized production at home.

The technological changes of this period did not benefit labor. The belief, common in the 1950's, that science and technology would increase leisure, decrease work and improve living standards for the working class, was shattered. Instead technological changes displaced well-paid industrial labor while increasing the number of mind-numbing, poorly paid, and politically impotent jobs in the so-called 'service sector' – a rapidly growing section of unorganized and vulnerable workers – especially including women and minorities.

Labor union membership declined precipitously. The demise of the USSR and China's turn to capitalism had a dual effect: It eliminated collectivist (socialist) pressure for social welfare and opened their labor markets with cheap, disciplined workers for foreign manufacturers. Labor as a political force disappeared on every count. The US Federal Reserve and President 'Bill' Clinton deregulated financial capital leading to a frenzy of speculation. Congress wrote laws, which permitted overseas tax evasion – especially in Caribbean tax havens. Regional free-trade agreements, like NAFTA, spurred the relocation of jobs abroad. De-industrialization accompanied the decline of wages, living standards and social benefits for millions of American workers.

The New Abolitionists: Trillionaires

The New Deal, the Great Society, trade unions, and the anti-war and urban movements were in retreat and primed for abolition.

Wars without welfare (or guns without butter) replaced earlier 'social imperialism' with a huge growth of poverty and homelessness. Domestic labor was now exploited to finance overseas wars not vice versa. The fruits of imperial plunder were not shared.

As the working and middle classes drifted downward, they were used up, abandoned and deceived on all sides – especially by the Democratic Party. They elected militarists and demagogues as their new presidents.

President 'Bill' Clinton ravaged Russia, Yugoslavia, Iraq and Somalia and liberated Wall Street. His regime gave birth to the prototype billionaire swindlers: Michael Milken and Bernard 'Bernie' Madoff.

Clinton converted welfare into cheap labor 'workfare', exploiting the poorest and most vulnerable and condemning the next generations to grinding poverty. Under Clinton the prison population of mostly African Americans expanded and the breakup of families ravaged the urban communities.

Provoked by an act of terrorism (9/11) President G.W. Bush Jr. launched the 'endless' wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and deepened the police state (Patriot Act). Wages for American workers and profits for American capitalist moved in opposite directions.

The Great Financial Crash of 2008-2011 shook the paper economy to its roots and led to the greatest shakedown of any national treasury in history directed by the First Black American President. Trillions of public wealth were funneled into the criminal banks on Wall Street – which were ' just too big to fail .' Millions of American workers and homeowners, however, were ' just too small to matter' .

The Age of Demagogues

President Obama transferred 2 trillion dollars to the ten biggest bankers and swindlers on Wall Street, and another trillion to the Pentagon to pursue the Democrats version of foreign policy: from Bush's two overseas wars to Obama's seven.

Obama's electoral 'donor-owners' stashed away two trillion dollars in overseas tax havens and looked forward to global free trade pacts – pushed by the eloquent African American President.

Obama was elected to two terms. His liberal Democratic Party supporters swooned over his peace and justice rhetoric while swallowing his militarist escalation into seven overseas wars as well as the foreclosure of two million American householders. Obama completely failed to honor his campaign promise to reduce wage inequality between black and white wage earners while he continued to moralize to black families about ' values' .

Obama's war against Libya led to the killing and displacement of millions of black Libyans and workers from Sub-Saharan Africa. The smiling Nobel Peace Prize President created more desperate refugees than any previous US head of state – including millions of Africans flooding Europe.

'Obamacare' , his imitation of an earlier Republican governor's health plan, was formulated by the private corporate health industry (private insurance, Big Pharma and the for-profit hospitals), to mandate enrollment and ensure triple digit profits with double digit increases in premiums. By the 2016 Presidential elections, ' Obama-care' was opposed by a 45%-43% margin of the American people. Obama's propagandists could not show any improvement of life expectancy or decrease in infant and maternal mortality as a result of his 'health care reform'. Indeed the opposite occurred among the marginalized working class in the old 'rust belt' and in the rural areas. This failure to show any significant health improvement for the masses of Americans is in stark contrast to LBJ's Medicare program of the 1960's, which continues to receive massive popular support.

Forty-years of anti welfare legislation and pro-business regimes paved the golden road for the election of Donald Trump

Trump and the Republicans are focusing on the tattered remnants of the social welfare system: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. The remains of FDR's New Deal and LBJ's Great Society -- are on the chopping block.

The moribund (but well-paid) labor leadership has been notable by its absence in the ensuing collapse of the social welfare state. The liberal left Democrats embraced the platitudinous Obama/Clinton team as the 'Great Society's' gravediggers, while wailing at Trump's allies for shoving the corpse of welfare state into its grave.

Conclusion

Over the past forty years the working class and the rump of what was once referred to as the ' labor movement' has contributed to the dismantling of the social welfare state, voting for ' strike-breaker' Reagan, ' workfare' Clinton, ' Wall Street crash' Bush, ' Wall Street savior' Obama and ' Trickle-down' Trump.

Gone are the days when social welfare and profitable wars raised US living standards and transformed American trade unions into an appendage of the Democratic Party and a handmaiden of Empire. The Democratic Party rescued capitalism from its collapse in the Great Depression, incorporated labor into the war economy and the post- colonial global empire, and resurrected Wall Street from the 'Great Financial Meltdown' of the 21 st century.

The war economy no longer fuels social welfare. The military-industrial complex has found new partners on Wall Street and among the globalized multi-national corporations. Profits rise while wages fall. Low paying compulsive labor (workfare) lopped off state transfers to the poor. Technology – IT, robotics, artificial intelligence and electronic gadgets – has created the most class polarized social system in history. The first trillionaire and multi-billionaire tax evaders rose on the backs of a miserable standing army of tens of millions of low-wage workers, stripped of rights and representation. State subsidies eliminate virtually all risk to capital. The end of social welfare coerced labor (including young mother with children) to seek insecure low-income employment while slashing education and health – cementing the feet of generations into poverty. Regional wars abroad have depleted the Treasury and robbed the country of productive investment. Economic imperialism exports profits, reversing the historic relation of the past.

Labor is left without compass or direction; it flails in all directions and falls deeper in the web of deception and demagogy. To escape from Reagan and the strike breakers, labor embraced the cheap-labor predator Clinton; black and white workers united to elect Obama who expelled millions of immigrant workers, pursued 7 wars, abandoned black workers and enriched the already filthy rich. Deception and demagogy of the labor-

Issac , December 11, 2017 at 11:01 pm GMT

"The military-industrial complex has found new partners on Wall Street and among the globalized multi-national corporations."

"The collaboration of liberals and unions in promoting endless wars opened the door to Trump's mirage of a stateless, tax-less, ruling class."

A mirage so real, it even has you convinced.

whyamihere , December 12, 2017 at 4:24 am GMT
If the welfare state in America was abolished, major American cities would burn to the ground. Anarchy would ensue, it would be magnitudes bigger than anything that happened in Ferguson or Baltimore. It would likely be simultaneous.

I think that's one of the only situations where preppers would actually live out what they've been prepping for (except for a natural disaster).

I've been thinking about this a little over the past few years after seeing the race riots. What exactly is the line between our society being civilized and breaking out into chaos. It's probably a lot thinner than most people think.

I don't know who said it but someone long ago said something along the lines of, "Democracy can only work until the people figure out they can vote for themselves generous benefits from the public treasury." We are definitely in this situation today. I wonder how long it can last.

Disordered , December 13, 2017 at 8:41 am GMT
While I agree with Petras's intent (notwithstanding several exaggerations and unnecessary conflations with, for example, racism), I don't agree so much with the method he proposes. I don't mind welfare and unions to a certain extent, but they are not going to save us unless there is full employment and large corporations that can afford to pay an all-union workforce. That happened during WW2, as only wartime demand and those pesky wage freezes solved the Depression, regardless of all the public works programs; while the postwar era benefited from the US becoming the world's creditor, meaning that capital could expand while labor participation did as well.

From then on, it is quite hard to achieve the same success after outsourcing and mechanization have happened all over the world. Both of these phenomena not only create displaced workers, but also displaced industries, meaning that it makes more sense to develop individual workfare (and even then, do it well, not the shoddy way it is done now) rather than giving away checks that probably will not be cashed for entrepreneurial purposes, and rather than giving away money to corrupt unions who depend on trusts to be able to pay for their benefits, while raising the cost of hiring that only encourages more outsourcing.

The amount of welfare given is not necessarily the main problem, the problem is doing it right for the people who truly need it, and efficiently – that is, with the least amount of waste lost between the chain of distribution, which should reach intended targets and not moochers.

Which inevitably means a sound tax system that targets unearned wealth and (to a lesser degree) foreign competition instead of national production, coupled with strict, yet devolved and simple government processes that benefit both business and individuals tired of bureaucracy, while keeping budgets balanced. Best of both worlds, and no military-industrial complex needed to drive up demand.

Wally , Website December 13, 2017 at 8:57 am GMT
"President Obama transferred 2 trillion dollars to the ten biggest bankers and swindlers on Wall Street " That's twice the amount that Bush gave them.
jacques sheete , December 13, 2017 at 10:52 am GMT

The American welfare state was created in 1935 and continued to develop through 1973. Since then, over a prolonged period, the capitalist class has been steadily dismantling the entire welfare state.

Wrong wrong wrong.

Corporations [now] are welfare recipients and the bigger they are, the more handouts they suck up, and welfare for them started before 1935. In fact, it started in America before there was a USA. I do not have time to elaborate, but what were the various companies such as the British East India Company and the Dutch West India Companies but state pampered, welfare based entities? ~200 years ago, Herbert Spencer, if memory serves, pointed out that the British East India Company couldn't make a profit even with all the special, government granted favors showered upon it.

Corporations not only continuously seek monopolies (with the aid and sanction of the state) but they steadily fine tune the welfare state for their benefit. In fact, in reality, welfare for prols and peasants wouldn't exist if it didn't act as a money conduit and ultimate profit center for the big money grubbers.

Den Lille Abe , December 13, 2017 at 11:09 am GMT
Well, the author kind of nails it. I remember from my childhood in the 50-60 ties in Scandinavia that the US was the ultimate goal in welfare. The country where you could make a good living with your two hands, get you kids to UNI, have a house, a telly ECT. It was not consumerism, it was the American dream, a chicken in every pot; we chewed imported American gum and dreamed.

In the 70-80 ties Scandinavia had a tremendous social and economic growth, EQUALLY distributed, an immense leap forward. In the middle of the 80 ties we were equal to the US in standards of living.

Since we have not looked at the US, unless in pity, as we have seen the decline of the general income, social wealth fall way behind our own.
The average US workers income has not increased since 90 figures adjusted for inflation. The Scandinavian workers income in the same period has almost quadrupled. And so has our societies.

The article is dismal reading, and evidence of the failings of the "unregulated" society, where the anything goes as long as you are wealthy.

wayfarer , December 13, 2017 at 1:01 pm GMT

Between the mid 1970's to the present (2017) labor laws, welfare rights and benefits and the construction of and subsidies for affordable housing have been gutted. 'Workfare' (under President 'Bill' Clinton) ended welfare for the poor and displaced workers. Meanwhile the shift to regressive taxation and the steadily declining real wages have increased corporate profits to an astronomical degree.

source: http://www.unz.com/jpetras/rise-and-decline-of-the-welfare-state/

What does Hollywood "elite" JAP and wannabe hack-stand-up-comic Sarah Silverman think about the class struggle and problems facing destitute Americans? "Qu'ils mangent de la bagels!", source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let_them_eat_cake

... ... ...

Anonymous , Disclaimer December 13, 2017 at 1:40 pm GMT
@Greg Fraser

Like the Pentagon. Americans still don't readily call this welfare, but they will eventually. Defense profiteers are unions in a sense, you're either in their club Or you're in the service industry that surrounds it.

Anonymous , Disclaimer December 13, 2017 at 2:43 pm GMT
As other commenters have pointed out, it's Petras curious choice of words that sometimes don't make too much sense. We can probably blame the maleable English language for that, but here it's too obvious. If you don't define a union, people might assume you're only talking about a bunch of meat cutters at Safeway.

The welfare state is alive and well for corporate America. Unions are still here – but they are defined by access and secrecy, you're either in the club or not.

The war on unions was successful first by co-option but mostly by the media. But what kind of analysis leaves out the role of the media in the American transformation? The success is mind blowing.

America has barely literate (white) middle aged males trained to spout incoherent Calvinistic weirdness: unabased hatred for the poor (or whoever they're told to hate) and a glorification of hedge fund managers as they get laid off, fired and foreclosed on, with a side of opiates.

There is hardly anything more tragic then seeing a web filled with progressives (management consultants) dedicated to disempowering, disabling and deligitimizing victims by claiming they are victims of biology, disease or a lack of an education rather than a system that issues violence while portending (with the best media money can buy) that they claim the higher ground.

animalogic , December 13, 2017 at 2:57 pm GMT
@Wally

""Democracy can only work until the people figure out they can vote for themselves generous benefits from the public treasury." We are definitely in this situation today."

Quite right: the 0.01% have worked it out & US democracy is a Theatre for the masses.

Reg Cæsar , December 13, 2017 at 3:08 pm GMT

They elected militarists and demagogues as their new presidents.

Wilson and FDR were much more militarist and demagogic than those that followed.

Reg Cæsar , December 13, 2017 at 3:20 pm GMT
@whyamihere

I don't know who said it but someone long ago said something along the lines of, "Democracy can only work until the people figure out they can vote for themselves generous benefits from the public treasury."

Some French aristocrat put it as, once the gates to the treasury have been breached, they can only be closed again with gunpowder. Anyone recognize the author?

phil , December 13, 2017 at 4:48 pm GMT
The author doesn't get it. What we have now IS the welfare state in an intensely diverse society. We have more transfer spending than ever before and Obamacare represents another huge entitlement.

Intellectuals continue to fantasize about the US becoming a Big Sweden, but Sweden has only been successful insofar as it has been a modest nation-state populated by ethnic Swedes. Intense diversity in a huge country with only the remnants of federalism results in massive non-consensual decision-making, fragmentation, increased inequality, and corruption.

HallParvey , December 13, 2017 at 4:57 pm GMT
@Anonymous

The welfare state is alive and well for corporate America. Unions are still here – but they are defined by access and secrecy, you're either in the club or not.

They are largely defined as Doctors, Lawyers, and University Professors who teach the first two. Of course they are not called unions. Access is via credentialing and licensing. Good Day

Anonymous , Disclaimer December 13, 2017 at 4:57 pm GMT
@Linda Green

Bernie Sanders, speaking on behalf of the MIC's welfare bird: "It is the airplane of the United States Air Force, Navy, and of NATO."

Elizabeth Warren, referring to Mossad's Estes Rockets: "The Israeli military has the right to attack Palestinian hospitals and schools in self defense"

Barack Obama, yukking it up with pop stars: "Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming."

It's not the agitprop that confuses the sheep, it's whose blowhole it's coming out of (labled D or R for convenience) that gets them to bare their teeth and speak of poo.

Anonymous , Disclaimer December 13, 2017 at 5:54 pm GMT
@HallParvey

What came first, the credentialing or the idea that it is a necessary part of education? It certainly isn't an accurate indication of what people know or their general intelligence – although that myth has flourished. Good afternoon.

Logan , December 13, 2017 at 9:10 pm GMT
@Realist

For an interesting projection of what might happen in total civilizational collapse, I recommend the Dies the Fire series of novels by SM Stirling.

It has a science-fictiony setup in that all high-energy system (gunpowder, electricity, explosives, internal combustion, even high-energy steam engines) suddenly stop working. But I think it does a good job of extrapolating what would happen if suddenly the cities did not have food, water, power, etc.

Spoiler alert: It ain't pretty. Those who dream of a world without guns have not really thought it through.

Logan , December 13, 2017 at 9:19 pm GMT
@phil

It has been pointed out repeatedly that Sweden does very well relative to the USA. It has also been noted that people of Swedish ancestry in the USA do pretty well also. In fact considerably better than Swedes in Sweden

[Dec 15, 2017] Neoliberalism undermines workers health not only via the financial consequences of un/under employment and low wages, but also through chronic exposure to stress due to insecurity

Neoliberalism as "Die-now economics." "Embodiment into lower class" or "the representation as a member the lower class" if often fatal and upper mobility mobility is artificially limited (despite all MSM hype it is lower then in Europe). So just being a member of lower class noticeably and negatively affects your life expectancy and other social metrics. Job insecurity is the hazard reserved for lower and lower middle classes destructivly effect both physical and mental health. Too much stress is not good for humans. Neoliberalism with its manta of competition uber alles and atomization of the workforce is a real killer. also the fact that such article was published and the comments below is a clear sign that the days of neoliberalism are numbered. It should go.
Notable quotes:
"... In our new book , we draw on an extensive body of scientific literature to assess the health effects of three decades of neoliberal policies. Focusing on the social determinants of health -- the conditions of life and work that make it relatively easy for some people to lead long and healthy lives, while it is all but impossible for others -- we show that there are four interconnected neoliberal epidemics: austerity, obesity, stress, and inequality. They are neoliberal because they are associated with or worsened by neoliberal policies. ..."
"... Neoliberalism operates through labor markets to undermine health not only by way of the financial consequences of unemployment, inadequate employment, or low wages, as important as these are, but also through chronic exposure to stress that 'gets under your skin' by way of multiple mechanisms. Quite simply, the effects of chronic insecurity wear people out over the life course in biologically measurable ways . ..."
"... Oh, and "beyond class" because for social beings embodiment involves "social production; social consumption; and social reproduction." In the most reductive definition of class -- the one I used in my crude 1% + 10% + 90% formulation -- class is determined by wage work (or not), hence is a part of production (of capital), not social consumption (eating, etc.) or social reproduction (children, families, household work ). So, even if class in our political economy is the driver, it's not everything. ..."
"... "Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning. ..."
"... Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve." ..."
"... As opposed to being champions of "self-actualization/identity" and "absolute relativism", I always got the impression that they were both offering stark warnings about diving too deeply into the self, vis-a-vis, identity. As if, they both understood the terrifying world that it could/would create, devoid of common cause, community, and ultimately empathy. A world where "we" are not possible because we have all become "I". ..."
"... Wonks like Yglesias love to mock working class concerns as "economic anxiety," which is at once belittling (it's all about f-e-e-e-lings ..."
"... "we have measurable health outcomes from political choices" So True!!! ..."
Dec 12, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

...Neoliberal epidemics are particular pathways of embodiment. From Ted Schrecker and Clare Bambra in The Conversation :

In our new book , we draw on an extensive body of scientific literature to assess the health effects of three decades of neoliberal policies. Focusing on the social determinants of health -- the conditions of life and work that make it relatively easy for some people to lead long and healthy lives, while it is all but impossible for others -- we show that there are four interconnected neoliberal epidemics: austerity, obesity, stress, and inequality. They are neoliberal because they are associated with or worsened by neoliberal policies. They are epidemics because they are observable on such an international scale and have been transmitted so quickly across time and space that if they were biological contagions they would be seen as of epidemic proportions.

(The Case-Deaton study provides an obvious fifth: Deaths of despair. There are doubtless others.) Case in point for one of the unluckier members of the 90%:

On the morning of 25 August 2014 a young New Jersey woman, Maria Fernandes, died from inhaling gasoline fumes as she slept in her 13-year-old car. She often slept in the car while shuttling between her three, low-wage jobs in food service; she kept a can of gasoline in the car because she often slept with the engine running, and was worried about running out of gasoline. Apparently, the can accidentally tipped over and the vapours from spilled gasoline cost her life. Ms Fernandes was one of the more obvious casualties of the zero-hours culture of stress and insecurity that pervades the contemporary labour market under neoliberalism.

And Schrecker and Bambra conclude:

Neoliberalism operates through labor markets to undermine health not only by way of the financial consequences of unemployment, inadequate employment, or low wages, as important as these are, but also through chronic exposure to stress that 'gets under your skin' by way of multiple mechanisms. Quite simply, the effects of chronic insecurity wear people out over the life course in biologically measurable ways .

... ... ...

Oh, and "beyond class" because for social beings embodiment involves "social production; social consumption; and social reproduction." In the most reductive definition of class -- the one I used in my crude 1% + 10% + 90% formulation -- class is determined by wage work (or not), hence is a part of production (of capital), not social consumption (eating, etc.) or social reproduction (children, families, household work ). So, even if class in our political economy is the driver, it's not everything.

nonclassical , December 11, 2017 at 8:30 pm

L.S. reminiscent of Ernst Becker's, "The Structure of Evil" – "Escape from Evil"? (..not to indicate good vs. evil dichotomy) A great amount of perspective must be agreed upon to achieve "change" intoned. Divide and conquer are complicit, as noted .otherwise (and as indicated by U.S. economic history) change arrives only when all have lost all and can therefore agree begin again.

There is however, Naomi Klein perspective, "Shock Doctrine", whereby influence contributes to destabilization, plan in hand leading to agenda driven ("neoliberal"=market fundamentalism) outcome, not at all spontaneous in nature:

"Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve."

Amfortas the Hippie , December 11, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Well done, as usual.

On Case-Deason: Sounds like home. I keep the scanner on(local news) ems and fire only since 2006(sheriff got a homeland security grant). The incidence of suicide, overdose and "intoxication psychosis" are markedly increased in the last 10+ years out here in the wilderness(5K folks in whole county, last I looked). Our local economy went into near depression after the late 90's farm bill killed the peanut program then 911 meant no hunting season that year(and it's been noticeably less busy ever since) then drought and the real estate crash(we had 30 some realtors at peak..old family land being sold off, mostly). So the local Bourgeoisie have had less money to spend, which "trickles down" onto the rest of us.:less construction, less eating out even at the cheap places, less buying of gas, and on and on means fewer employees are needed, thus fewer jobs. To boot, there is a habit among many employers out here of not paying attention to labor laws(it is Texas ) the last minwage rise took 2 years to filter out here, and one must scrutinize one's pay stub to ensure that the boss isn't getting squirrelly with overtime and witholding.
Geography plays into all this, too 100 miles to any largish city.

... ... ...

Rosario , December 11, 2017 at 10:55 pm

I'm not well versed in Foucault or Lacan but I've read some of both and in reading between the lines of their writing (the phantom philosophy?) I saw a very different message than that often delivered by post-modern theorists.

As opposed to being champions of "self-actualization/identity" and "absolute relativism", I always got the impression that they were both offering stark warnings about diving too deeply into the self, vis-a-vis, identity. As if, they both understood the terrifying world that it could/would create, devoid of common cause, community, and ultimately empathy. A world where "we" are not possible because we have all become "I".

Considering what both their philosophies claimed, if identity is a lie, and the subject is always generated relative to the other, then how the hell can there be any security or well being in self-actualization? It is like trying to hit a target that does not exist.

All potentially oppressive cultural categorizations are examples of this (black, latino, gay, trans, etc.). If the identity is a moving target, both to the oppressor and the oppressed, then how can it ever be a singular source of political action? You can't hit what isn't there. This is not to say that these groups (in whatever determined category) are not oppressed, just that formulating political action based strictly on the identity (often as an essential category) is impossible because it does not actually exist materially. It is an amalgamation of subjects who's subjectivity is always relative to some other whether ally or oppressor. Only the manifestations of oppression on bodies (as brought up in Lambert's post) can be utilized as metrics for political action.

... ... ...

Lambert Strether Post author , December 11, 2017 at 11:20 pm

I thought of a couple of other advantages of the "embodiment" paradigm:

Better Framing . Wonks like Yglesias love to mock working class concerns as "economic anxiety," which is at once belittling (it's all about f-e-e-e-lings *) and disempowering (solutions are individual, like therapy or drugs). Embodiment by contrast insists that neoliberalism (the neoliberal labor market (class warfare)) has real, material, physiological effects that can be measured and tracked, as with any epidemic.

... ... ...

oaf , December 12, 2017 at 7:11 am

"we have measurable health outcomes from political choices" So True!!!

Thank you for posting this.

[Dec 12, 2017] Who can control the post-superpower capitalist world order? by Slavoj Žižek

Highly recommended!
This is three years old article. What changed ? The USA is still the center of the global neoliberal empire.
Slavoj Žižek develops a false premise but with real mastery of the language. he is definitely talanted writer, but not so much a thinker. He completely missed the gorth of nationalism as a reaction to neoliberalism. So comments are more interesting then that article and some of them proved to be prophetic.
This guy does not even use the term "neoliberalism", probably because he himself is part of neoliberal consensus. and that's why he can get to Guardian pages. So much for the value of this philosopher... From comments: "Here Zizek encourages a kind of liberal naiveté, astonishing for a guy who pretends to be comfortable with Lenin's no-nonsense revolutionary analytic approach. Yes, a global world democracy would be nice. But it's hardly the case that in not having it we have only chaos. Global capital doesn't want world democracy. They want the TransPacific Partnership G8, etc. They want elite enrichment and militarized police. They've got it, or are in the process of getting it.. Instead of the pap he wrote, Zizek should be talking about the creation of a world-wide opposition to those political structures."
Notable quotes:
"... The stabilisation of society under the Putin reign is largely because of the newly established transparency of these unwritten rules. ..."
"... the US stands for neoliberal capitalism, Europe for what remains of the welfare state, China for authoritarian capitalism, Latin America for populist capitalism. ..."
"... This is why our times are potentially more dangerous than they may appear. ..."
"... the next stage of a geopolitical struggle for control in a nonregulated, multicentred world. ..."
"... the impossibility of creating a global political order that would correspond to the global capitalist economy. ..."
"... In politics, age-old fixations, and particular, substantial ethnic, religious and cultural identities, have returned with a vengeance ..."
"... Capitalism is a system engineered to ensure that the psychopaths get to the top. Ruthlessness, selfishness, blind pursuit of profit, manipulation and coercion of others, believing your own lies - these are the necessary qualities for success, which have been elevated into desirable qualities. If you don't have them, you're a loser. ..."
"... To get to the top, you have to be a psychopath. If you're at the top, you're a psychopath. ..."
"... The oligarchs, of course. ..."
"... The current Ukrainian problem may have more in common with Georgia, than Syria, Libya and Iraq, but they all have the US squaring off against Russia. ..."
"... What might be more worrying is when the current FRB resuscitation of the US economy fails to show the promise anticipated and the debt to China becomes a political problem. What then? Does Washington send warships to Beijing? ..."
"... Most likely Ukraine would be a quasi-independent, bankrupt state heavily indebted to the West, with NATO bases, folklore instead of real politics, large emigration (mostly illegal), and desperate population ..."
"... The rest of the population would be slowly dropping to substance level, no jobs, no money, no futures. ..."
"... So having Russia - as a savior, boogeyman or a distraction - immensely help all Ukrainians. It makes them important enough to have to be bought out. It forces a competition for their affection and thus bids up any rewards. ..."
"... This is an end-of-days party for those who seem to have no place in the neo-liberal world, either EU or the Russian version. ..."
"... Most power gets dissipated with over-reach, so I am not sure capitalizing faster would have been better for US. Most power is also always local, and the world is a big place. ..."
"... US neo-con dreamers tend to see the world as a map. It is not a "map". It is a much more complex environment with local dynamics, histories, and lots and lots of people. Who want stuff. Moving in, or "capitalizing" as you call it, creates heightened expectations and inevitable disappointments. My advise is to chill and keep it small. Over-reach and too much ambition never work in the long run. ..."
"... and kill left and right for 'freedoms'. ..."
"... Therein is another contradiction. Globalists cannot focus on their national economy. ..."
"... Our predicament TOMORROW will be defined by an intensifying scarcity of finite resources, with the additional whammy of climate change. ..."
"... My own gut-feeling is that globalisation is already beginning to decline and disintegrate due to economic, political, resource and environmental constraints. ..."
"... My guess is Bankers and big corporations will control the post capitalist world. ..."
"... the US stands for neoliberal capitalism, Europe for what remains of the welfare state, China for authoritarian capitalism, Latin America for populist capitalism ..."
"... First and foremost; perturbations we are witnessing are processes of reversing the globalisation-effect that in its core value destroys centralised global-powers control. ..."
"... There's no such thing as your fantasy version of Capitalism; where all the markets are "free" and there are no assholes and sociopaths trying to manipulate and screw people. ..."
"... ALL the ISM words are worthless labels used by people with economic morality OCD. ..."
"... Zizek's analysis is once again spot on and would be accepted as self-evident (Ukraine a proxy war between superpowers) were it not for our twisted corporate controlled media. ..."
"... Seems very obvious here in the USA we are controlled (owned) by the multi-national corporations. ..."
"... Governments now exist to funnel wealth to the .01% who own the corporations. ..."
"... or the corporate elite more likely !! ..."
"... will involve the nation state recapturing its power and the diminishing authority of the corporate elite who of course are hell bent on taking over everything affecting our lives ..."
"... The 'corporate elite' already OWN our governments. The nation state is disappearing at the same rate as democratic representation. ..."
"... Something I find interesting is the transnational nature of modern capital, and labour. This is making geo control difficult for modern superpowers, not impossible, but increasingly difficult. As revenue is increasingly tied to transnational enterprises, the paradox is that state interests are tied to cross border peace and stability. Not a goal helped by upsetting regional stability. ..."
"... Our predicament today is defined by this tension: the global free circulation of commodities is accompanied by growing separations in the social sphere. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of the global market, new walls have begun emerging everywhere, separating peoples and their cultures. Perhaps the very survival of humanity depends on resolving this tension. ..."
"... Consider that there may be an elite group of power-mongers who, through the control of global mega-institutions, wield the power to mobilize e.g the military might of the U.S. and of Britain and of other puppet nations ..."
"... Actually, even Obama himself, could be a proxy! ..."
"... Global corporations appear to be the new weapon of war, ..."
"... most power and influence in any country comes from its wealth holders and in many cases these are faceless suits in big business and high finance all protected by a blag legal system set up to protect companies and 'their' assets. ..."
"... The transnational entity called the United Nations has long passed its use-by date. The US government is in thrall to Wall Street, corporations and their lobby groups and is over-extended in numerous wars and conflicts across the planet. Americans are tired of fighting, they are sinking into Third World poverty, their jobs are disappearing and more of them are ending up in prisons operated by private firms for profit. ..."
"... It is definitely time to teach the superpowers, old and new, some manners, but who will do it? ..."
"... All gringos have done in their century of greatness ("the land of 'the' 'free' and 'the' 'brave'") is abusing people who can't defend themselves on an equal basis, mess with the environment and (very successfully I would admit) brainwash many, many people by selling them very stupid and unsustainable illusions ..."
"... Monied interests will control the 'post-superpower capitalist world order.' During the past few years, they quietly used their power to force governments austerity policies in both the US and Europe and hack away at their social safety nets. ..."
"... Communism at least gave social liberalism in the West a chance, as an alternative to deprive the Soviets of sympathizers. Once communism collapsed in Eastern Europe, the monied interests felt they could dispense with liberalism and pursue more extreme aims. ..."
"... We exist in a world where might makes right. ..."
"... These few percent, consciously or not, create, enforce, and change all the rules; it is for the rest of us to find some way to survive under them. Good luck all. ..."
"... Otherwise, the US was pretty much entirely indifferent to Russia's national interests and preferences ..."
"... Far more accurate to say that the US simply treated Russia as the loser of the Cold War ..."
"... and as such should simply roll over and accept all edicts from Washington. ..."
"... Gangs are the most primitive form of government and within neo-liberalism all governments are merely gangs. ..."
"... neo-liberalism's excessive division is dehumanising hence the institutional collapse. ..."
"... Super-rich people and large corporations, are a luxury we can no longer afford. ..."
"... 'Survival in numbers' is a prime survival mechanism in our species. Cooperation trumps competition most of the time. Neo-liberalism has made far too much division for our species to survive it. Cooperating with neo-liberalism is the biggest mistake. ..."
"... What if, for structural reasons, and not only due to empirical limitations, there cannot be a worldwide democracy or a representative world government? ..."
"... since Consumerism is nothing more than a superstitious belief in Perpetual Motion ..."
"... Here Zizek encourages a kind of liberal naiveté, astonishing for a guy who pretends to be comfortable with Lenin's no-nonsense revolutionary analytic approach. ..."
"... Global capital doesn't want world democracy. They want the TransPacific Partnership G8, etc. They want elite enrichment and militarized police. ..."
"... Slavoj Žižek develops a false premise with great ease. ..."
"... The USA is subconsciously aware of this problem and its inevitable endpoint. It is thus armed to the teeth and will remain so. ..."
"... Only an economic collapse can disarm the USA. ..."
"... The problem could be tempered by the citizenry, but the public is cowed by fears of terrorism, real and imagined. ..."
May 06, 2014 | The Guardian

In a divided and dangerous world, we need to teach the new powers some manners

To know a society is not only to know its explicit rules. One must also know how to apply them: when to use them, when to violate them, when to turn down a choice that is offered, and when we are effectively obliged to do something but have to pretend we are doing it as a free choice. Consider the paradox, for instance, of offers-meant-to-be-refused. When I am invited to a restaurant by a rich uncle, we both know he will cover the bill, but I nonetheless have to lightly insist we share it – imagine my surprise if my uncle were simply to say: "OK, then, you pay it!"

There was a similar problem during the chaotic post-Soviet years of Yeltsin's rule in Russia. Although the legal rules were known, and were largely the same as under the Soviet Union, the complex network of implicit, unwritten rules, which sustained the entire social edifice, disintegrated. -[ It's he is completely detached from reality; that was a neoliberal revolution, nothing more nothing less -- NNB] In the Soviet Union, if you wanted better hospital treatment, say, or a new apartment, if you had a complaint against the authorities, were summoned to court or wanted your child to be accepted at a top school, you knew the implicit rules. You understood whom to address or bribe, and what you could or couldn't do.

After the collapse of Soviet power, one of the most frustrating aspects of daily life for ordinary people was that these unwritten rules became seriously blurred. People simply did not know how to react, how to relate to explicit legal regulations, what could be ignored, and where bribery worked. (One of the functions of organized crime was to provide a kind of ersatz legality. If you owned a small business and a customer owed you money, you turned to your mafia protector, who dealt with the problem, since the state legal system was inefficient.)

The stabilisation of society under the Putin reign is largely because of the newly established transparency of these unwritten rules. Now, once again, people mostly understand the complex cobweb of social interactions.

In international politics, we have not yet reached this stage. Back in the 1990s, a silent pact regulated the relationship between the great western powers and Russia. Western states treated Russia as a great power on the condition that Russia didn't act as one.--[ That' beyong naive -- the USA treated Yeltisn Russia as a vassal, it actually was a time --NNB] But what if the person to whom the offer-to-be-rejected is made actually accepts it? What if Russia starts to act as a great power? A situation like this is properly catastrophic, threatening the entire existing fabric of relations – as happened five years ago in Georgia. Tired of only being treated as a superpower, Russia actually acted as one.

How did it come to this? The "American century" is over, and we have entered a period in which multiple centres of global capitalism have been forming. In the US, Europe, China and maybe Latin America, too, capitalist systems have developed with specific twists: the US stands for neoliberal capitalism, Europe for what remains of the welfare state, China for authoritarian capitalism, Latin America for populist capitalism.

After the attempt by the US to impose itself as the sole superpower – the universal policeman – failed, there is now the need to establish the rules of interaction between these local centres as regards their conflicting interests.

This is why our times are potentially more dangerous than they may appear. During the cold war, the rules of international behaviour were clear, guaranteed by the Mad-ness – mutually assured destruction – of the superpowers. When the Soviet Union violated these unwritten rules by invading Afghanistan, it paid dearly for this infringement. The war in Afghanistan was the beginning of its end. Today, the old and new superpowers are testing each other, trying to impose their own version of global rules, experimenting with them through proxies – which are, of course, other, small nations and states.

Karl Popper once praised the scientific testing of hypotheses, saying that, in this way, we allow our hypotheses to die instead of us. In today's testing, small nations get hurt and wounded instead of the big ones – first Georgia, now Ukraine. Although the official arguments are highly moral, revolving around human rights and freedoms, the nature of the game is clear. The events in Ukraine seem something like the crisis in Georgia, part twothe next stage of a geopolitical struggle for control in a nonregulated, multicentred world.

It is definitely time to teach the superpowers, old and new, some manners, but who will do it? Obviously, only a transnational entity can manage it – more than 200 years ago, Immanuel Kant saw the need for a transnational legal order grounded in the rise of the global society. In his project for perpetual peace, he wrote: "Since the narrower or wider community of the peoples of the earth has developed so far that a violation of rights in one place is felt throughout the world, the idea of a law of world citizenship is no high-flown or exaggerated notion."

This, however, brings us to what is arguably the "principal contradiction" of the new world order (if we may use this old Maoist term): the impossibility of creating a global political order that would correspond to the global capitalist economy.

What if, for structural reasons, and not only due to empirical limitations, there cannot be a worldwide democracy or a representative world government? What if the global market economy cannot be directly organised as a global liberal democracy with worldwide elections?

Today, in our era of globalisation, we are paying the price for this "principal contradiction." In politics, age-old fixations, and particular, substantial ethnic, religious and cultural identities, have returned with a vengeance. Our predicament today is defined by this tension: the global free circulation of commodities is accompanied by growing separations in the social sphere. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of the global market, new walls have begun emerging everywhere, separating peoples and their cultures. Perhaps the very survival of humanity depends on resolving this tension.

GreeneGrasshopper -> Strummered, 06 May 2014 10:05pm

Capitalism is a system engineered to ensure that the psychopaths get to the top. Ruthlessness, selfishness, blind pursuit of profit, manipulation and coercion of others, believing your own lies - these are the necessary qualities for success, which have been elevated into desirable qualities. If you don't have them, you're a loser.

To get to the top, you have to be a psychopath. If you're at the top, you're a psychopath.

Whitt, 06 May 2014 9:22pm

"Who can control the post-superpower capitalist world order?"
*
Is this a trick question?

The oligarchs, of course.

Silvertown Swedinburgh, 06 May 2014 11:24pm

For the 1948 Italian General Election the US fleet was in Italian ports with the US Marines on board just so the electorate would get the message and as one CIA agent said "We had bags of money that we delivered to selected politicians, to defray their political expenses, their campaign expenses, for posters, for pamphlets," according to CIA operative F. Mark Wyatt. and they kept interfering in Italian elections into the 1970s

MsrOboulot Malkatrinho, 07 May 2014 1:19pm

Northern Cyprus was annexed by Turkey. Many commentators would also argue that Croatia and Slovenia were effectively annexed by the EU, if not Austria and Germany. Commentators such as Pilger would argue that 80% of Latin America was annexed by the US a long time ago, but let's not go there. Of course, we can also talk about the Occupied Territories, how would you describe them? As I said, it's a matter of political views we disagree on, not one of terminology.

StephenStafford, 06 May 2014 9:39pm

Though the article deals with countries and geographic areas, much might be equivalently true of companies which may be likened to countries especially when some have larger revenues than many countries which they may tend to be able. individually or as a group, to dominate.

The Obama regime is calling fo sanctions on the Putin regime, whilst ExxonMobil seems unfazed and is busily investing with a Russian oil company Rosneft.

After Yeltsin, Putin very obviously searched for ways to reclaim State assets sold off on the cheap and whereas he could manage to deal with one (Yukos), his Government was obviously too impaired to go after many other Oligarchs, so for the moment they and their ill-gotten assets are 'safe' .

The current Ukrainian problem may have more in common with Georgia, than Syria, Libya and Iraq, but they all have the US squaring off against Russia. In Ukraine, Russia acted decisively over Crimea and left the US in a quandary as to what their next move could be, other than backing their puppet regime.

The US has shown little wish to be directly involved after Iraq in many of these local skirmishes apart from 'drones'. Russia has not turned up in any war zone using drones so far, though Iran and Hezbollah seem to see in their next conflicts, the use of drones will be very important.

What might be more worrying is when the current FRB resuscitation of the US economy fails to show the promise anticipated and the debt to China becomes a political problem. What then? Does Washington send warships to Beijing?

Putin told Bush a long while ago that Russia appreciated the US interest in its natural resources, but no thank you.

Beckow -> StephenStafford, 06 May 2014 11:50pm

"Ukrainian problem may have more in common with Georgia, than Syria, Libya and Iraq, but they all have the US squaring off against Russia."

I agree that Georgia was a mini-version of this, but because of its size the Ukraine problem is in a class of its own. In other words, this is truly new and almost anything can happen.

When trying to understand the reality around us it helps to do a few logical games, and Zizek does that, just not fully. For example, let's say there was no Russia, or only an absolutely powerless Russia (like Yeltsin in the 90's). What would happen?

Most likely Ukraine would be a quasi-independent, bankrupt state heavily indebted to the West, with NATO bases, folklore instead of real politics, large emigration (mostly illegal), and desperate population. It would be run by Western approved oligarchs who would share all local resources with Western "investors". It would not be in EU, although a small layer of Kiev intelligentsia would be heavily subsidized by the West, given do-nothing cushy NGO positions, offered frequent trips and humored as needed. The nationalists would be changing public holidays, tearing down and putting up statues, and occasionally venting their anger at minorities and at football games. The rest of the population would be slowly dropping to substance level, no jobs, no money, no futures. In other words just like some of the poorer EU countries, except without the accumulated wealth, euro currency and access to EU as an escape valve.

So having Russia - as a savior, boogeyman or a distraction - immensely help all Ukrainians. It makes them important enough to have to be bought out. It forces a competition for their affection and thus bids up any rewards. All Ukrainians do better (except the killed ones): the NGO crowd in Kiev gets more grants, oligarchs get more deals, nationalists get more respect, Russians in the south-east will get a veto power, so they will also have to be compensated. This is a win-win and on the ground the people engaged sense it: so they will keep it going, they will escalate. What are the alternatives? Greece without the Aegean islands? Or a dumpy provincial life?

This is locally driven and not any longer by super-powers, indispensable one, aspiring one, or any other kind. It will go on and will be quite entertaining. That's what Zizek missed, he is too globally focused. This is about a unique place, strange and desperate people, and no resources to pay for the entertainment. This is an end-of-days party for those who seem to have no place in the neo-liberal world, either EU or the Russian version.

StephenStafford -> Beckow, 07 May 2014 2:12pm

Good synopsis of the problem in Ukraine.

re

What would happen?

The weakness of Russia wasn't immediately capitalised upon by the USA, though the Clinton foreign policy increasingly reflected this, particularly with the interference in the Balkans. The PNAC on the other hand did see the advantage that the USA could take and that was obvious in the Afghanistan attack and more especially with Iraq.

Arguably in this post 1990 period, the USA acted relatively slowly to capitalise on the dissolution of the USSR.

Beckow StephenStafford, 07 May 2014 7:54pm

Most power gets dissipated with over-reach, so I am not sure capitalizing faster would have been better for US. Most power is also always local, and the world is a big place.

US neo-con dreamers tend to see the world as a map. It is not a "map". It is a much more complex environment with local dynamics, histories, and lots and lots of people. Who want stuff. Moving in, or "capitalizing" as you call it, creates heightened expectations and inevitable disappointments. My advise is to chill and keep it small. Over-reach and too much ambition never work in the long run.

WhatIsWhat -> StephenStafford

The US has shown little wish to be directly involved after Iraq in many of these local skirmishes apart from 'drones'.

For the sake of the truth, little correction:

The US has shown little wish to be openly and visibly involved after Iraq in many of these local skirmishes apart from 'drones'. They prefer to be invisible and remotely control 'human drones' who 'peacefully protest' and kill left and right for 'freedoms'.

Rialbynot, 06 May 2014 9:47pm

What if the global market economy cannot be directly organised as a global liberal democracy with worldwide elections?

Today, in our era of globalisation, we are paying the price for this "principal contradiction."

Some are paying the price; others are benefitting. That's the first thing we need to recognise.

Having done so, we can then start "solving" the contradiction by re-focussing attention on our national economies, while also seeking to make the global market economy a little more people-friendly (the aim being a global social market economy).

Perhaps the EU's principle (or concept) of subsidiarity, which, unfortunately, the EU itself so often fails to apply, could be used to identify at which level decisions should be taken.

Brigitte Bernadotte -> Rialbynot, 07 May 2014 12:43pm

A "global democracy" is a nightmare per se, because it's a global government. The US is a democracy, and Germany was a democracy in the 20's, too. However, it turned into one of the most terrible dictatorships ever. Hell-bent on removing borders actually.

Any kind of global government, as friendly and benevolent it might be, could turn into a global dictaorship, like in Star Wars the Republic was turned into the Empire. Which country would fight the golbal dictorship? To which country wold whistleblowers and refugees go? Ivory tower left-wing populist academics like Zizek, who conveniently blames "capitalism" (the right to own property) as the root of all evil - as if the Soviet Union and Mao's China had been bastions of liberty - fail to deal with this aspect. I am not surprised, the EU welfare state is the reason for the euro debt mountain (in the US it's military overstretch), which is the reason for the EU's misery, and he failed to even mention that, too.

That's also why the EU is dangerous, it reduces political diversity, which helped Europe to overcome dictatorships in the past. Several EU countries grounding Morales' plane on American orders was a taste of that. As for subsidiarity, the EU is based on "ever closer union", which is an euphemism for centralist power grab.

Brian o'Cualain -> Brigitte Bernadotte, 07 May 2014 1:51pm

The US is no more a Democracy than Russia and probably not much less than what passes for democracies in most countries. He who pays the piper calls the tune. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10769041/The-US-is-an-oligarchy-study-concludes.html

When looking at the EU welfare debt mountain it's worth looking who exactly benefits from the welfare, not only in terms of the generally recognized view of welfare but also the whole notion of corporate welfare, subsidies, tax-breaks etc. I think you'll find the scales will tend to tip where they tip for everything else.

Avi Unobtaniumstein -> Rialbynot, 08 May 2014 11:36am

Therein is another contradiction. Globalists cannot focus on their national economy.

michaelmichael, 06 May 2014 9:58pm

"Our predicament today is defined by this tension: the global free circulation of commodities is accompanied by growing separations in the social sphere. "

The tension lies primarily between those who have and those who haven't. As far as the corporations are concerned, its business as usual.

Our predicament TOMORROW will be defined by an intensifying scarcity of finite resources, with the additional whammy of climate change.

Luismdv, 06 May 2014 10:25pm

"What if the global market economy cannot be directly organised as a global liberal democracy with worldwide elections?"

There seems to be some plausibility in that hypothesis. If this was true, both the left and the right will have to check their political premises because the "democratic consensus" is shared across the whole political specter (except, both political extremes, largely irrelevant).

But unlike classic Marxism, which made the (socio-cultural) superstructure dependent on the (economic) structure, there is no evidence that this is true now. The implication could be that the economic structure remains in place (supported by basic human needs) while the democratic superstructure falls apart. This is not what I want, but is a possibility.

TransReformation , 06 May 2014 10:32pm

What if, for structural reasons, and not only due to empirical limitations, there cannot be a worldwide democracy or a representative world government? What if the global market economy cannot be directly organised as a global liberal democracy with worldwide elections?

Today, in our era of globalisation, we are paying the price for this "principal contradiction.

A rather strange and unsatisfying article from Zizek. I partly agree with him but feel he needs to spell out what these 'structural reasons' to which he alludes. Why it's dissatisfying is that he appears to lament the impossibility of a world government or liberal democratic order. I consider that a blessing though, whatever shape or form it takes - not least liberal democratic - structurally it could only be oppressive.

I also find it strange that Zizek appears to accept 'this era of (economic) globalisation' as something natural and permanent rather than as contingent and transient - only a manifestation of a certain stage in the development of capitalism. My own gut-feeling is that globalisation is already beginning to decline and disintegrate due to economic, political, resource and environmental constraints.

While I'd certainly agree that this is a very dangerous time, in the long-run there's no point in lamenting the absence of a global order/government - it's in fact our last, best hope of freedom and equality. If the oligarchs and plutocrats across the globe were ever able to overcome their differences and unite behind a single global order or government it would inherently have to be highly authoritarian and undemocratic to maintain control.

NOTaREALmerican -> TransReformation, 06 May 2014 10:37pm

Re: If the oligarchs and plutocrats across the globe were ever able to overcome their differences and unite behind a single global order or government it would inherently have to be highly authoritarian and undemocratic to maintain control.

Well, not if it was run by the nice guys in Brussels. Didn't the people of the EU vote to consolidate power in Brussels because of their hope that a United States of Europe would be as democratic and freedom-loving as the United States of Merica?

DailyMailHatesMe, 06 May 2014 10:38pm

In the discipline of international relations, constructivism is the claim that significant aspects of international relations are historically and socially constructed, rather than inevitable consequences of human nature or other essential characteristics of world politics.

Philosophish, 06 May 2014 10:42pm

Though geopolitics qua content change all the time in history the age old dictum stands strong as ever: he with the money makes the rules!

The question is not who can control the 'superpowers', the question is who controls the money suppy.

sadhu, 06 May 2014 10:47pm

My guess is Bankers and big corporations will control the post capitalist world. Forget the political and moral arguments. The top layer will do everything in their power to control. But the dilemma is if 'they' have the power and 'free will' to control the 'we' the underdog should have the 'free will' as well to counter their control. However, as interesting as this article is, it still argues in political, economic and super power terms, where as a more realistic approach would be to look at this in biological and natural terms.

For example in plate tectonics, what controls what. Or does the matter of control even come into plate. In the past they attributed volcanoes to the power of Gods and Devils, where as through scientific analysis (as apposed to social and particularly religious ones) we have come to view volcanoes and plate tectonics as intricate natural processes.

Therefore, instead of speaking of controls how long will it take us to speak in terms of natural processes. How does it come about that one strata of society much like some particular genes, hormones and possibly bacteria and viruses take over the processes of a particular life form. It happens through natural processes and not political and moral arguments.

Bucky Fuller used to say that in order to have true democracy we should learn/discover its true principles just as we discovered the principles of gravity and electricity.

Here is a good place to mention John McMurtry and his 'Cancer Stage of Capitalism', downloadable from his info in Wikipedia.

I am so grateful to the Guardian and Cif for it was in such discussions where a kind soul introduced me to McMurtry.

EarlyVictoria, 06 May 2014 10:53pm

the US stands for neoliberal capitalism, Europe for what remains of the welfare state, China for authoritarian capitalism, Latin America for populist capitalism

Liking this neat formulation.

Laserlurk, 06 May 2014 10:56pm

First and foremost; perturbations we are witnessing are processes of reversing the globalisation-effect that in its core value destroys centralised global-powers control.

Second; humans as a race have lost momentum of the discovery and are pretty much bound to the known territories, continents and practices.
Without drive we are lost in a consumption and quite retarded innovation of the things and technologies that cause auto-dumb effect.
As understanding all of which is written above eases consequences of a post-Lacan society, we are generally unhappy about everything, but we lost the crying shoulder.
So, one might say we also live post- mutually assured destruction, as everyone is inflicting it slowly on themselves.

Then again, one can be rather nihilistic and write as well: Who cares?

NOTaREALmerican -> Laserlurk , 06 May 2014 11:01pm

Re: Then again

Or, one can be pathologically optimist and keep consolidating power in the hope that - eventually - the nice people WILL eventually run things.

taxhaven, 06 May 2014 11:08pm

...multiple centres of global capitalism have been forming. In the US, Europe, China and maybe Latin America, too, capitalist systems have developed with specific twists: the US stands for neoliberal capitalism, Europe for what remains of the welfare state, China for authoritarian capitalism, Latin America for populist capitalism...

Funny...everywhere I look I see authoritarian socialism, not "capitalism". I see manipulated markets, manipulated prices, crony favourites, insolvent public sectors, rigged wages and prices and zillions of regulations.

NOTaREALmerican -> taxhaven, 06 May 2014 11:19pm

There's no such thing as your fantasy version of Capitalism; where all the markets are "free" and there are no assholes and sociopaths trying to manipulate and screw people.

You live in the same fantasyland the Socialists and Libertarians do. None of the economic ISM's work according to moral rules when you've got lots of smart-n-savvy assholes and sociopaths.

The morals are for the children, and the adults are out trying to figure out how to screw the children (which - it turns out - is pretty easy).

taxhaven -> NOTaREALmerican, 06 May 2014 11:45pm

There's no such thing as your fantasy version of Capitalism (?)

So what IS there? It sure isn't anything close to "capitalism", is it...

NOTaREALmerican -> taxhaven, 06 May 2014 11:52pm

Re: So what IS there?

ALL the ISM words are worthless labels used by people with economic morality OCD. The assholes and sociopaths could care less what "the systems" is, because from an asshole and sociopath's perspective there is only one system: how much can I take NOW and how can I screw people to take more later.

What ELSE exists or has EVER existed? These dumbasses ISM's are worthless to even talk about; they exists only in a fantasyland of no assholes and manipulative sociopaths who confidently take what they want and have no morals.

GiulioSica, 06 May 2014 11:13pm

Zizek's analysis is once again spot on and would be accepted as self-evident (Ukraine a proxy war between superpowers) were it not for our twisted corporate controlled media.

But, unfortunately, he offers no solutions, only questions. As a result, it can be summed up in a short sentence: "Things are bad. What is to be done?"

ID1812901, 06 May 2014 11:16pm

Big banks rule the world, don't they?

NOTaREALmerican ID1812901, 06 May 2014 11:22pm

When ya think about, a bank creates money from nothing and is protected by the state. How could they NOT rule the world.

WillShirley, 06 May 2014 11:24pm

Seems very obvious here in the USA we are controlled (owned) by the multi-national corporations. They control our government, therefor they control our military and that makes them extremely dangerous.

They do not see killing tens of thousands of people as troubling in the slightest. Look at our invasion of Iraq. Look at the other little wars we started to protect the corporations. They own most of the so-called civilized world and plan to retain that control. They can't control the sunlight so we have almost NO solar power plants. They know clean water is going to be a problem... it is now... so they sell us bottles of what they say is clean water.... and we buy it happily.

Governments now exist to funnel wealth to the .01% who own the corporations. We exist for the same reason cattle are found at a dairy farm. Until the herd decides to act like adult men and women instead of domesticated animals we will continue to allow the corporate takeover of our world. Until we stop worshiping the dollar and acting as if only money can make us happy we will be in thrall to the capitalists/fascists who currently run the whole show.


North10, 06 May 2014 11:29pm

Sorry Zizek .far too sloppy .first Georgia, now Ukraine, well no, the US has interfered militarily with 75 countries since WW2 and currently has military bases in 135 sovereign nations ..so hardly first Georgia and now Ukraine .just watch four star US General Wesley Clark discussing in 2007 the US plans to topple seven countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, coincidence with real events, hardly. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAWzvtVJA5A

So, hardly first Georgia and now Ukraine...

Vatslav Rente, 06 May 2014 11:30pm

Strange, abstract thinking Mr. Zizek.
What is this nonsense about Georgia and Ukraine. In Georgia, Russia prevented the genocide against Ossetians. In Eastern Ukraine supported ethnic Russians. What is the problem?
The rules never change. Money and Power are everything. Democracy, dictatorship, the international community - fiction for outsiders, words which superpower cover their interests. Of course Russia is holding its geopolitics. It's not like the state Department. Is this news? Maybe Mr. Zizek doubts in competence of the American President? Don't worry, the U.S. can't win all the time, this is normal. Moreover, to be "the world's policeman" ungrateful and dangerous activity, constantly crazy fundamentalist trying to burn the flag of your country)

HumbleDawes, 06 May 2014 11:39pm

To know a society is not only to know its explicit rules. One must also know how to apply them: when to use them, when to violate them, when to turn down a choice that is offered, and when we are effectively obliged to do something but have to pretend we are doing it as a free choice. Consider the paradox, for instance, of offers-meant-to-be-refused. When I am invited to a restaurant by a rich uncle, we both know he will cover the bill, but I nonetheless have to lightly insist we share it – imagine my surprise if my uncle were simply to say: "OK, then, you pay it!"

This uninspired paragraph, including its misuse of the word 'paradox', could have just been written: 'to know a society is not only to know its laws, one must also be aware of its social norms' without any real loss of meaning. 'Offers-meant-to-be-refused.' Endless verbiage. Sort-it-out-Slavoj.

ronaldadair, 06 May 2014 11:43pm

You have it all wrong my friend - that is to say you are barking up the wrong tree when you talk about a world controlled by who ? - one nation ? - or the corporate elite more likely !!

What so many people are missing is that we are heading at a fair rate of knots " back to the future " which will involve the nation state recapturing its power and the diminishing authority of the corporate elite who of course are hell bent on taking over everything affecting our lives not because they have any particular crusade in this direction, but simply because in order to continue to enlarge their empires - to increase their economies of scale , their future, as they see it, lies in a world where the corporation govern

This will not happen and one only has to move into a space where the correction occurs to see that the nation state will once again govern us as part of a world connected by bi-lateral trade agreements.

GordonGecko -> ronaldadair, 07 May 2014 8:43am

The 'corporate elite' already OWN our governments. The nation state is disappearing at the same rate as democratic representation.

JacobJonker -> ronaldadair, 07 May 2014 11:20am

Obvious and uncommon common sense.It may,however,not eventuate due to the propensity of the majority to be blind to their fate.There is also the usual apathy,though the coming generations will see a division into slaves,stooges,slave-masters,dissenters,freedom fighters and the usual coterie of the power pyramid from the top to the bottom layer of slaves to a system.Nation-states whose citizens wish to survive have a challenge ahead of them.Typically,only a minority is growing in awareness.

Robbli, 06 May 2014 11:45pm

"All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.". - Frank Herbert, Dune.

Nice people are too busy doing nice things and have no desires to rule and exploit, hence we will always be ruled by a-holes as long as we keep on voting for them and no, I don't know what the answer is unless we are prepared to make sacrifices, become self sufficient and live off the grid.

ThomasPaine2 -> Robbli, 07 May 2014 9:18am

A very well made point. I have a suggestion about how it could possibly be fixed.

In order to prevent the scum rising to the top, for want of a better cliché, we should look to re-structure our local and central law-making bodies. Rather than elections, which necessarily attract the vainglorious and selfish, a system of conscription should be implemented. Government (local and central) should have an upper-house composed of people from the community selected randomly, much like jury service.

Their job is to hear the legislative proposals and counter arguments and decide based upon evidence presented whether to approve a proposal. That will instantly remove the capacity for political corruption, as all legislation will need the approval of citizen's juries. Couple this with state funding of political parties for the lower house and corporate influence will be dramatically reduced.

alexschwarz , 06 May 2014 11:46pm
When I am invited to a restaurant by a rich uncle, we both know he will cover the bill, but I nonetheless have to lightly insist we share it – imagine my surprise if my uncle were simply to say: "OK, then, you pay it!"

I gave up those social contracts a long time ago and I've never looked back. Your uncle knows damn well he is expected to pay, since you would never go to that restaurant if it weren't for his invite. If both parties know what that you aren't being genuine, then why bother at all? This is something that's always bothered me. Keep it real folks!

Now someone translate that to world politics.

Argieman alexschwarz , 07 May 2014 12:31am
I´ll try an example: Slavoj´s uncle represents the banks, and Slavoj represent us. Slavoj is invited to dinner, he eats -not much. This Slavoj´s meal were the cheap and easy-to-get credits to buy homes, that became the famous "junk bonds" through a complicated financial engineering.

The end differs from Slavoj´s article:

I can´t pay, you know -Uncle says
So I´ll have to pay? -Slavoj, sweating, answers
I´m afraid you´ll have to -Uncle insists
Slavoj he asks the waiter to bring the bill, and thinks he´ll have to sell his car, no holidays, less clothes...

travellersjoy, 06 May 2014 11:58pm

Since US governments willingly colluded with its corporate class, and bullied and coerced Europe and the Anglosphere to transfer the wealth of the West, to the Middle East and then China, I have no confidence that there is a class of people with the skills, abilities, and INTELLIGENCE to see beyond the immediate profit horizon - except perhaps in China - and they are only thinking about their own interests.

If the people of the western world are incapable of electing good governments in the public/national interest, I doubt the possibility of any supra-power being more responsible. The fact is, all our governments can be, and often are, bought and sold by the great multinationals that demand free rein to do what they will - and who brought us the GFC, as well as the shift of economic power from West to East.

Asking for a benign dictator is just asking for trouble as any citizen of a fascist state can attest.

nj61nj, 07 May 2014 12:28am

what a depressing article which really doesn't tell us anything much at all. So kant -> almost pointless and sometimes damaging UN, Popper - an exposure of the problem of positivism. To say there is a contradiction or tension here is a misnomer, in fact it is just an increasingly unilateral domination of capitalism. It is increasingly difficult to find a dialectic within which to understand struggles and tensions which result from this situation. What of the state in Syria, or South Sudan, or Ukraine? Marxist philosophy needs to catch up quick.

Stevo0012345, 07 May 2014 12:32am

Something I find interesting is the transnational nature of modern capital, and labour. This is making geo control difficult for modern superpowers, not impossible, but increasingly difficult. As revenue is increasingly tied to transnational enterprises, the paradox is that state interests are tied to cross border peace and stability. Not a goal helped by upsetting regional stability.

In the good old days when the world was divided into 2 spheres of influence stability was reasonably easy to enforce.

RentControlNow , 07 May 2014 8:42am

It is definitely time to teach the superpowers, old and new, some manners, but who will do it? Obviously, only a transnational entity can manage it

Does Žižek really mean that only a transnational entity / a law of world citizenship / a global political order can keep the PTB in check?

Presumably not, as he questions it:

What if, for structural reasons, and not only due to empirical limitations, there cannot be a worldwide democracy or a representative world government? What if the global market economy cannot be directly organised as a global liberal democracy with worldwide elections?

The notion of a worldwide democracy is obviously absurd.

However, Žižek is right. We do need legal and politcal mechanisms that, as I see it, will stand up for individuals, communities and cultures in the face of the global economic order.

I think the solutions will have to be culturally pluralistic and local.

We need to recognise that superpowers, politicians and governments are still stuck in the 19th-Century of competitng nation states, the fight economic wars to be the top dogs.

World economy is now a fact:

We only have one global economy and what we think of as the US economy or the Russian economy does not have any reality outside of world economy. Governments try to impose their own rules on how they interact with global economic reality, but these rules are merely reactive. World economy is fact. The problem is that governments continue to view nation states as separate controllable economic entities -- which they are not.

They are not even interdependent entities (as was the case during colonial times). Goods and services can come for anywhere and are financed from multiple global locations, produced in multiple locations and consumed worldwide in different locations. This is even more the case when you consider global financial markets. Global financial actors and multinational corporations know this, whereas governments are still stuck in 19th Century thinking. It is this outmoded way of thinking that has led to economic wars in the past, continues to fuel current wars and will lead to future economic war if politicians don't wake up to the fact of world economy.

2bapilgrim, 07 May 2014 8:52am

So many comments on the headline, but the real problem to be solved is stated in the last paragraph:

Our predicament today is defined by this tension: the global free circulation of commodities is accompanied by growing separations in the social sphere. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of the global market, new walls have begun emerging everywhere, separating peoples and their cultures. Perhaps the very survival of humanity depends on resolving this tension.

MysticFish, 07 May 2014 8:53am

We now have a deeply serious moral crisis in politics not just a capitalist one. In the past right wing political crimes used to be reported. This time, what we get instead is worrying silence and one-sidedness from the media. Why would our governments go to such trouble to brush aside the gratuitous massacre of innocent unarmed Ukrainians?

http://ersieesist.livejournal.com/813.html

Kosmicfriend , 07 May 2014 8:54am
" Today the old and new superpowers are...trying to impose their own version of global rules, experimenting with them through proxies - which are, of course,...small nations and states. (...small nations get hurt and wounded instead of the big ones)."

Consider that there may be an elite group of power-mongers who, through the control of global mega-institutions, wield the power to mobilize e.g the military might of the U.S. and of Britain and of other puppet nations. The anger resulting from their atrocities would in effect be directed at the U.S or British footsoldier, NOT the hidden MANIPULATORS! Actually, even Obama himself, could be a proxy!

MysticFish -> Kosmicfriend, 07 May 2014 10:25am

Your argument is plausible, since all kinds of entities are now able to disguise themselves behind global corporations, who in turn, strangely exercise undue persuasion over our elected politicians. It's very difficult to see just what is going on. Global corporations appear to be the new weapon of war, when, for example, you look at the carpet bombing effect fracking has on vital agricultural land and water resources. The far right seem to think this technology serves their countries' interests, but then they are not particularly bright when they also act as paid mercenaries for Chinese ambitions.

imight, 07 May 2014 9:02am

the only way to stop the big powers fighting is to stop the reasons they fight at source.....greed

most power and influence in any country comes from its wealth holders and in many cases these are faceless suits in big business and high finance all protected by a blag legal system set up to protect companies and 'their' assets. i highlight 'their' as companies have more rights than individuals in modern law and this allows a disconnect between the people running the company and the consequences of decisions made.....


if companies and their executives and shareholders wish to continue receiving this rights of limited liability the law should be changed to force them to to behave ethically and pay fairly (the difference between highest and lowest paid workers should be low) and be responsible to the environment, if they cant do that ... why should they have limited public liabilities .... ????

sign up peeps pls

https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/vince-cable-change-the-publicly-limited-companies-p-l-c-laws-force-companies-to-behave-ethically-to-receive-limited-liabilities

Rozina, 07 May 2014 9:30am

If proof were needed that Slavoj Žižek has little understanding of the current crisis in Ukraine, who the responsible agents are and what they seek to gain from plunging the country into chaos and war, this execrable post is it.

The transnational entity called the United Nations has long passed its use-by date. The US government is in thrall to Wall Street, corporations and their lobby groups and is over-extended in numerous wars and conflicts across the planet. Americans are tired of fighting, they are sinking into Third World poverty, their jobs are disappearing and more of them are ending up in prisons operated by private firms for profit.

It seems Žižek prefers the old order of one country dominating the world and that country being the United States. Russia on the other hand should meekly accept allowing Ukraine to fall under fascist rule and then itself being plundered by US corporations and divided up into small squabbling statelets while Siberian mineral wealth and Caspian Sea oil and gas enrich a small parasitic class that flits from one country to the next.

Martyn -> Blackburn, 07 May 2014 9:47am

The banks control the money supply, and so hold the nations to ransom. Some influential groups, some of them very wealthy, are interested in controlling and manipulating public opinion both at local and international level. One might be tempted to think that the people in power are those who have been democratically elected, but this is perhaps a deception. Whose democracy is it? The leaders? Or does it belong to those who do things behind the scenes? Control the money supply and public opinion and you already have a monopoly on rule.

Writeangle, 07 May 2014 10:22am

There are far too many different cultures and religions for there ever to be work agreement in many areas.Its only the political elite that dream their dogmas will take over the world. The welfare state ridden EU has dreams of getting bigger and more important, dreams that are extremely unlikely to be met.
Most Likely China will be the next world's superpower with the narcissistic welfare state EU sinking slowly in the west.

We will have to wait and see how China plays its new hand and how the others respond to it.
My guess is that the west will not be able to match China and will fall behind even in the US.

NinthLegion, 07 May 2014 10:34am

The Roman Caesars knew that thy could command respect, achieve unity, and lead efficiently and with deep authority if they had an enemy - any credible enemy. Its what holds nations together with what passes for a common mindset. The psychology has not changed. After the demise of the Soviet Union, Al Quieda stepped into the breach. Such a scenario also keeps a powerful and wholly influental industrial military complex happy - as Eisenhower warned. It keeps macho politicians with huge nuclear arsenals in power, clothed with their baubles at the conference tabe, and it also serves to impress wayward regimes. The threat to most governments today, I believe, comes more from within, rather than from without, and a perceived need for security against a potential enemy is beneficial (for them) in promoting a steady erosion of liberty.

Nations need an enemy that must be credible, sufficiently powerful, and able to provide a relatively malignant threat.

FrJack NinthLegion, 07 May 2014 11:24am

Nations need an enemy that must be credible, sufficiently powerful, and able to provide a relatively malignant threat.

Do you mean that there must actually be such a threat or that for a nation to hold together, it's population must believe (be made to believe, constantly told) there is such a threat?

FrJack, 07 May 2014 10:39am

Perhaps the very survival of humanity depends on resolving this tension.

Perhaps the opposite is true. The success of humans as a species, humanity, has and is in large part driven by the soiciobiologically evolved propensity to continually have the tensions/dynamic of competitive groups going on. We live in an age where it is now easier than ever to see/make analysis and judgment on the minutiae of how these tensions constantly ebb and flow and morph, how the players jockey for position and we are on the look out to see where that leaves us. But there is nothing new here, it is a never ending process without resolution. The idea of resolution is a quasi religious dream of return to the garden of eden where all the nuisance things that we have to worry about and deal with simply for being alive are 'solved' for us. 'Re'-solution is a dream of something that never existed except for when we were babies. It is an infantile memory.

tiojo, 07 May 2014 12:05pm

The USA just now is comparable with Britain and its empire at the time prime minister MacMillan made his famous 'Winds of Change' speech in South Africa. He was a politician who realised that the game was up. Britain was no longer the world power it had been. Although he knew that to be the case he didn't have a coherent plan for the future. The empire was dismantled. Britain dithered, and still does, about whether its future lies with Europe or not. Slow decline continued.

The USA post-Iraq is in slow decline as a world power. The bipolar world of the Cold War was replaced by an all too brief unipolar world of US hegemony. But now with the EU, China, India, Russia, Brazil and others providing alternatives we are, as Mr Zizek says, entering a multi-polar world where the dance moves have not been rehearsed. Such a shame that this fracturing of power does not lead to a reaffirmation of faith in internationalism and a willingness to compromise and collaborate through the UN and its agencies.


lioninthemeadow, 07 May 2014 12:06pm

Žižek touches on a fundamental truth that all reasonable human beings recognise: humanity must jettison its tribal attachments to nations etc. and vest greater powers in supranational bodies like the UN.

I believe it is inevitable that the world will increasingly fuse together in the decades and centuries ahead - it is logical, it is pragmatic and it is the only means of ensuring our mutual survival as a species.

As long as humans are divided by tribalism and reactionary loyalties then the world will be host to all manner of social catastrophes.

FrJack -> Danny Bird, 07 May 2014 12:49pm

As long as humans are divided by tribalism and reactionary loyalties then the world will be host to all manner of social catastrophes.

The biggest catastrophy we are all facing is environmental. This is due in large part to the seemingly unending proliferation of human beings. Now, evolution wise, it can be said that as a species, our proliferation is a big success. I have not seen anyone argue that the behavioural propensity of tribalism and loyalty has or is having an effect that is hindering our evolutionary success. Indeed, it seems more credible that they are positive attributes in that sense. But if faced with a scenario that population growth must be curtailed or even reduced if we are to stand any hope of mitigating environmental ills, then I'd say it is better that some other tribe than mine bear the cost of that. I have no doubt they feel they same way. Now, plenty of people seem to be hoping for some other way out of this problem. I think they are dreaming.

RCLopez , 07 May 2014 12:38pm
Well, as you yourself say, in those old times of "mad"-ness (mutually assured destruction) at least we entertained more secure and stable illusions even if based on very dangerous and unsustainable premises

It is definitely time to teach the superpowers, old and new, some manners, but who will do it?

No one ever has taught anything to the powerful. The best we can do is exactly what those so-called pro-Russia "terrorists" are doing in Eastern Ukraine

There is not such a thing as "rationality" or Karl Popper's falsifiability and "scientific testing of hypotheses" among many other things, because you can only have such a thing in the physical sciences. What on earth would be a baseline understanding of truth in politics, when it is all based on lying and manipulating people?!?

Immanuel Kant saw the need for a transnational legal order grounded in the rise of the global society

Yeah, and the closest we have gotten to it is the UN which is an odd joke. They are just a proxy to the USG. Even its secretary compulsively criticizes Snowden even if he doesn't have to, as a way to show "respect" his masters

"Since the narrower or wider community of the peoples of the earth has developed so far that a violation of rights in one place is felt throughout the world, the idea of a law of world citizenship is no high-flown or exaggerated notion."

Yes, and this is happening. People are widely opening their eyes to the "freedom-loving" b#llsh!t of the USG

All gringos have done in their century of greatness ("the land of 'the' 'free' and 'the' 'brave'") is abusing people who can't defend themselves on an equal basis, mess with the environment and (very successfully I would admit) brainwash many, many people by selling them very stupid and unsustainable illusions


... or a representative world government

You are kidding us, right?


What if the global market economy cannot be directly organised as a global liberal democracy with worldwide elections?

Well, I think definitely are. I don't think that market forces will help our "global" problems. We should stop ferally playing into market forces hoping for those illusions to solve our problems.

We have advanced our technologies and market a bit since the stone age, but morally we are still pretentious animals (monkeys wearing ties and thumbing our cell phones).

truth and peace and love,

peterDKK , 07 May 2014 1:26pm
One great punch:

What if the global market economy cannot be directly organised as a global liberal democracy with worldwide elections?

And some muddle about walls separating people and cultures. While delighted to read (at last) a reasonable article in the Guardian, I find Žižek's take wanting.

I am certain he can do better, given how well he describes the mainstay of the system ruling the world today.

EpaminondasUSA , 07 May 2014 3:12pm
Monied interests will control the 'post-superpower capitalist world order.' During the past few years, they quietly used their power to force governments austerity policies in both the US and Europe and hack away at their social safety nets.

Communism at least gave social liberalism in the West a chance, as an alternative to deprive the Soviets of sympathizers. Once communism collapsed in Eastern Europe, the monied interests felt they could dispense with liberalism and pursue more extreme aims.

America is the first effective 'post-democratic' western nation, that is an oligarchy of business-people. Over the coming decades, the machinery of democracy there will break down to be replaced by a shadow government of old money, CEOs, and financiers. It will then quietly work to induce the same in the other western nations. John Calvin's Switzerland will be the model of this new order.

TrasdentBacal EpaminondasUSA , 07 May 2014 4:06pm

Over the coming decades, the machinery of democracy there will break down to be replaced by a shadow government of old money, CEOs, and financiers. It will then quietly work to induce the same in the other western nations

It didn't work before...remember WWII! True, the dimensions of globalized markets and imperialistic interests were not the same those days, now they got internet and other means of cultural turning.

But national, religious, and ethnic identities remain strong in the Old World, from Portugal to Japan, you won't get people to speak American English and hail an identity-lacking world order. I am not totally sure whether that is good or bad, though.

Cousin2, 07 May 2014 4:17pm

The sad reality is that nothing has changed. We exist in a world where might makes right. In some countries, the brief period roughly between the end of WW2 and the beginning of the Reagan/Thatcher regimes will be remembered as a time when workers' wages kept pace with increased productivity.

Today, we are some 35 years back into business as usual, when increases in prosperity flow largely to the top few percent as they have been doing since the beginning and probably will "to the last syllable of recorded time."

These few percent, consciously or not, create, enforce, and change all the rules; it is for the rest of us to find some way to survive under them. Good luck all.

akarlin, 07 May 2014 9:31pm

Back in the 1990s, a silent pact regulated the relationship between the great western powers and Russia. Western states treated Russia as a great power on the condition that Russia didn't act as one. But what if the person to whom the offer-to-be-rejected is made actually accepts it? What if Russia starts to act as a great power?

With all due respect to Zizek, this is only half-true at best.

This "acknowledgement" of Russia as a great power only extended to pretty insignificant measures such as including it in the G8 (and only in its political, not financial, component). Otherwise, the US was pretty much entirely indifferent to Russia's national interests and preferences (often after having promised otherwise). NATO expansion is the big one, of course, but there are plenty of others (creeping missile defense, Libya, etc).

Far more accurate to say that the US simply treated Russia as the loser of the Cold War (despite Gorbachev's piteous assertions that it was ended by the USSR's own free choice and hence such attitudes are unfair) and as such should simply roll over and accept all edicts from Washington.

yourmiddleclassfarce, 08 May 2014 8:34am

Gangs are the most primitive form of government and within neo-liberalism all governments are merely gangs.

neo-liberalism = raising importance of the invention called money over that of people which is a dehumanising process which cultivates (culture being the inclusive process)

All institutions (specialism within and due to the divisive process called civilization) are collapsing (because the dehumanising process is collapsing culture which is the inclusive process). Even the world's gangs (of all type and power) are in that same precarious process.

neo-liberalism's excessive division is dehumanising hence the institutional collapse.

Rich people are a luxury WE can no longer afford.

MysticFish -> yourmiddleclassfarce, 08 May 2014 8:45am

Super-rich people and large corporations, are a luxury we can no longer afford. People will always need to hoard to a certain extent, though, to get them through winter and, if you are a farmer, lean years. It's not good to have everyone totally dependent on the tender mercies of a mafia run state, or they will become abject slaves.

We need to encourage benign human-scale enterprises that are responsive to local needs and don't cause harm on an industrial scale.

yourmiddleclassfarce -> MysticFish, 08 May 2014 11:48pm

I agree however if enough of us get together to make, for instance, a decision regarding a transport system for everyone (inclusive) that is not exclusive then benign state scale or even interstate scale agreements that are inclusive and not divisive will generate more social cohesion, interaction and economy precisely because the most efficient use of the invention called money rides on the back of social currency and not social exclusion. Social currency is destroyed by excessive division.

[Notice how the neo-liberals have removed the term 'mass transit' from the lexicon of social discourse?]

'Survival in numbers' is a prime survival mechanism in our species. Cooperation trumps competition most of the time. Neo-liberalism has made far too much division for our species to survive it. Cooperating with neo-liberalism is the biggest mistake.

LittleRichardjohn, 08 May 2014 9:45am

What if, for structural reasons, and not only due to empirical limitations, there cannot be a worldwide democracy or a representative world government? What if the global market economy cannot be directly organised as a global liberal democracy with worldwide elections?

... ... ....

The prospect of global solidarity is almost certainly dependent on the absurdity of Consumerism hitting the buffers, which, since Consumerism is nothing more than a superstitious belief in Perpetual Motion...

takethat , 09 May 2014 12:53pm
Here Zizek encourages a kind of liberal naiveté, astonishing for a guy who pretends to be comfortable with Lenin's no-nonsense revolutionary analytic approach.

Yes, a global world democracy would be nice. But it's hardly the case that in not having it we have only chaos. Global capital doesn't want world democracy. They want the TransPacific Partnership G8, etc. They want elite enrichment and militarized police. They've got it, or are in the process of getting it.. Instead of the pap he wrote, Zizek should be talking about the creation of a world-wide opposition to those political structures.

johncdvorak , 09 May 2014 6:37pm
Slavoj Žižek develops a false premise with great ease. He hints that some sort of reference point for unwritten social codes should exist when it's always been an experiment that is never resolved except by wars when the all sides are stretched too thin with endless tolerance.

The USA is subconsciously aware of this problem and its inevitable endpoint. It is thus armed to the teeth and will remain so.

In this situation it is impossible not to be a bully. Everyone else has to tolerate the bully and will continue to do so for a very long time. Only an economic collapse can disarm the USA. A collapse of the magnitude necessary does not seem likely.

The problem could be tempered by the citizenry, but the public is cowed by fears of terrorism, real and imagined. Everyone is monitored by the NSA to keep them in line. None of this will be resolved by any sort of world government as Žižek and other idealists imagine. The world is stuck in limbo.

Much of this is discussed on the No Agenda Show. Google it.

Desh Mott , 09 May 2014 8:56pm
Zizek doesn't literally think that international crises are because of psychodramas relating to rules, does he?

[Dec 12, 2017] The end of neoliberalism

Dec 12, 2017 | www.weforum.org

World Economic Forum

A similar trend can be seen at the organizational level. A recent study by Erling Bath, Alex Bryson, James Davis, and Richard Freeman showed that the diffusion of individual pay since the 1970s is associated with pay differences between, not within, companies. The Stanford economists Nicholas Bloom and David Price confirmed this finding, and argue that virtually the entire increase in income inequality in the US is rooted in the growing gap in average wages paid by firms. Such outcomes are the result not just of inevitable structural shifts, but also of decisions about how to handle those shifts. In the late 1970s, as neoliberalism took hold, policymakers became less concerned about big firms converting profits into political influence, and instead worried that governments were protecting uncompetitive companies. With this in mind, policymakers began to dismantle the economic rules and regulations that had been implemented after the Great Depression, and encouraged vertical and horizontal mergers. These decisions played a major role in enabling a new wave of globalization, which increasingly diffused growth and wealth across countries, but also laid the groundwork for the concentration of income and wealth within countries. The growing "platform economy" is a case in point. In China, the e-commerce giant Alibaba is leading a massive effort to connect rural areas to national and global markets, including through its consumer-to-consumer platform Taobao. That effort entails substantial diffusion: in more than 1,000 rural Chinese communities – so-called " Taobao Villages " – over 10% of the population now makes a living by selling products on Taobao. But, as Alibaba helps to build an inclusive economy comprising millions of mini-multinationals, it is also expanding its own market power. Policymakers now need a new approach that resists excessive concentration, which may create efficiency gains, but also allows firms to hoard profits and invest less. Of course, Joseph Schumpeter famously argued that one need not worry too much about monopoly rents, because competition would quickly erase the advantage. But corporate performance in recent decades paints a different picture: 80% of the firms that made a return of 25% or more in 2003 were still doing so ten years later. (In the 1990s, that share stood at about 50% .) Have you read? To counter such concentration, policymakers should, first, implement smarter competition laws that focus not only on market share or pricing power, but also on the many forms of rent extraction, from copyright and patent rules that allow incumbents to cash in on old discoveries to the misuse of network centrality. The question is not "how big is too big," but how to differentiate between "good" and "bad" bigness. The answer hinges on the balance businesses strike between value capture and creation. Moreover, policymakers need to make it easier for startups to scale up. A vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem remains the most effective antidote to rent extraction. Digital ledger technologies, for instance, have the potential to curb the power of large oligopolies more effectively than heavy-handed policy interventions. Yet economies must not rely on markets alone to bring about the "churn" that capitalism so badly needs. Indeed, even as policymakers pay lip service to entrepreneurship, the number of startups has declined in many advanced economies. Finally, policymakers must move beyond the neoliberal conceit that those who work hard and play by the rules are those who will rise. After all, the flipside of that perspective, which rests on a fundamental belief in the equalizing effect of the market, is what Michael Sandel calls our " meritocratic hubris ": the misguided idea that success (and failure) is up to us alone. This implies that investments in education and skills training, while necessary, will not be sufficient to reduce inequality. Policies that tackle structural biases head-on – from minimum wages to, potentially, universal basic income schemes – are also needed. Neoliberal economics has reached a breaking point, causing the traditional left-right political divide to be replaced by a different split: between those seeking forms of growth that are less inclined toward extreme concentration and those who want to end concentration by closing open markets and societies. Both sides challenge the old orthodoxies; but while one seeks to remove the "neo" from neoliberalism, the other seeks to dismantle liberalism altogether. The neoliberal age had its day. It is time to define what comes next.

[Dec 11, 2017] Jihad vs. McWorld

This was a pretty profitc book, if you think that it was publishe in 1995. At the same time neoliberalm is not atolerant isther and we can talk about "neoliberal jihad"
Notable quotes:
"... As neoliberal economic theory -- not to be confused with social liberalism -- is the force behind globalization, this critique is relevant on a much larger scale. ..."
"... Barber argues that there are several imperatives that make up the McWorld, or the globalization of politics : a market imperative, a resource imperative, an information-technology imperative, and an ecological imperative. Due to globalization, our market has expanded and is vulnerable to the transnational markets where free trade, easy access to banking and exchange of currency are available. ..."
"... Barber sees Jihad as offering solidarity and protecting identities, but at the potential cost of tolerance and stability. ..."
Dec 11, 2017 | en.wikipedia.org
Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism Are Reshaping the World is a 1995 book by American political scientist Benjamin Barber , in which he puts forth a theory that describes the struggle between "McWorld" ( globalization and the corporate control of the political process) and " Jihad " (Arabic term for "struggle", here modified to mean tradition and traditional values , in the form of extreme nationalism or religious orthodoxy and theocracy ). Benjamin Barber similarly questions the impact of economic globalization as well as its problems for democracy.

The book was based on a March 1992 article by Barber first published in The Atlantic Monthly . [1] The book employs the basic critique of neoliberalism seen in Barber's earlier, seminal work Strong Democracy . As neoliberal economic theory -- not to be confused with social liberalism -- is the force behind globalization, this critique is relevant on a much larger scale. Unregulated market forces encounter parochial (which he calls tribal ) forces.

These tribal forces come in many varieties: religious, cultural, ethnic, regional, local, etc. As globalization imposes a culture of its own on a population, the tribal forces feel threatened and react. More than just economic, the crises that arise from these confrontations often take on a sacred quality to the tribal elements; thus Barber's use of the term "Jihad" (although in the second edition, he expresses regret at having used that term). [ why? ]

Barber's prognosis in Jihad vs McWorld is generally negative -- he concludes that neither global corporations nor traditional cultures are supportive of democracy . He further posits that McWorld could ultimately win the "struggle". He also proposes a model for small, local democratic institutions and civic engagement as the hope for an alternative to these two forces.

Problems for democracy edit

Barber states that neither Jihad nor McWorld needs or promotes democracy. [2]

McWorld edit

Barber argues that there are several imperatives that make up the McWorld, or the globalization of politics : a market imperative, a resource imperative, an information-technology imperative, and an ecological imperative. Due to globalization, our market has expanded and is vulnerable to the transnational markets where free trade, easy access to banking and exchange of currency are available. With the emergence of our markets, we have come up with international laws and treaties in order to maintain stability and efficiency in the interconnected economy. Resources are also an imperative aspect in the McWorld, where autarky seems insufficient and inefficient in presence of globalization. The information-technology of globalization has opened up communications to people all over the world, allowing us to exchange information. Also, technology is now systematically integrated into everyone's lives to the point where it "gives every person on earth access to every other person". [3] Globalization of ecology may seem cliche; Barber argues that whatever a nation does to their own ecology, it affects everyone on earth. For instance, cutting down a jungle will upset the overall oxygen balance, which affects our "global lungs". McWorld may promote peace and prosperity, but Barber sees this as being done at the cost of independence and identity , and notes that no more social justice or equality than necessary are needed to promote efficient economic production and consumption.

Jihad edit

Barber sees Jihad as offering solidarity and protecting identities, but at the potential cost of tolerance and stability. Barber describes the solidarity needed within the concept of Jihad as being secured through exclusion and war against outsiders. As a result, he argues, different forms of anti-democratization can arise through anti-democratic one-party dictatorships, military juntas, or theocratic fundamentalism. Barber also describes through modern day examples what these 'players' are. "they are cultures, not countries; parts, not wholes; sects, not religions, rebellious factions and dissenting minorities at war not just with globalism but with the traditional nation-state. Kurds, Basques, Puerto Ricans, Ossetians, East Timoreans, Quebecois, the Catholics of Northern Ireland, Catalans, Tamils, and of course, Palestinians- people with countries, inhabiting nations not their own, seeking smaller worlds within borders that will seal them off from modernity." [4]

Confederal option edit

Barber writes democracy can be spread and secured through the world satisfying the needs of both the McWorld and Jihad. "With its concern for accountability, the protection of minorities, and the universal rule of law, a confederalized representative system would serve the political needs of McWorld as well as oligarchic bureaucratism or meritocratic elitism is currently doing." [4] Some can accept democracy faster than others. Every case is different, however "Democracy grows from the bottom up and cannot be imposed from the top down. Civil society has to be built from the inside out." [1] He goes on to further explain exactly what the confederal option means and how it will help. "It certainly seems possible that the most attractive democratic ideal in the face of the brutal realities of Jihad and the dull realities of McWorld will be a confederal union of semi autonomous communities smaller than nation-states, tied together into regional economic associations and markets larger than nation-states -- participatory and self-determining in local matters at the bottom, representative and accountable at the top. The nation-state would play a diminished role, and sovereignty would lose some of its political potency." [4]

[Dec 11, 2017] Religion has de-legitimized itself with its hypocrisy

Should probably be "neoliberal religion has de-legitimized itself with its hypocrisy
Notable quotes:
"... Sorry, as a church-attending person, I object. Religion has de-legitimized itself with its hypocrisy. One example: Jerry Falwell, a "battler" against abortion actually supported it before his plutocratic masters told him it was a wedge issue. ..."
"... Michael Hudso says Jesus' first appearance in the Jerusalem temple was to announce just such a Jubilee Boy is that ever ignored! ..."
"... Your correlating the hypocritical actions of the leadership with the ideals of a religion. Corrupt leadership may delegitimize those individuals but does not delegitimize the ideals of the religion. Is the ideal of America totally dependent on the actions of its political leadership? Personally, I think there is far more to America than just the president and congress whether corrupt or not. ..."
"... What is or are the ideal(s) of "America?" Get rich quick, violence on all fronts, anti-intellectualism, imperial project across the planet? "Democracy?" If you trot that out as a "feature", you better explain what you mean, with some specificity. More to America? If youtube is any guide, try searching it for "syria combat" or "redneck" or "full auto," or all the really sick racist and extreme stuff - a pretty sorry place. But we all recite the Pledge so dutifully, don't we? and feel a thrill as the F-22s swoop over the football stadium? ..."
Apr 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Adam Eran, April 17, 2017 at 1:31 pm

Sorry, as a church-attending person, I object. Religion has de-legitimized itself with its hypocrisy. One example: Jerry Falwell, a "battler" against abortion actually supported it before his plutocratic masters told him it was a wedge issue.

Positions on the wedge issues (abortion, the gays) are actually difficult to prove with scripture–not that it has the kind of authority it did before 35,000 variations on old manuscripts were discovered in the 17th century. (Marcus Borg is the scholar to consult here).

Meanwhile, the big issues - e.g. covetousness, forbidden very explicitly in one of the 10 commandments - is an *industry* in the U.S.

I'll believe these evangelicals are guided by the bible when I see them picketing Madison Avenue for promoting covetousness, or when I see them lobbying for a debt jubilee.

Michael Hudso says Jesus' first appearance in the Jerusalem temple was to announce just such a Jubilee Boy is that ever ignored!

Jagger , April 17, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Your correlating the hypocritical actions of the leadership with the ideals of a religion. Corrupt leadership may delegitimize those individuals but does not delegitimize the ideals of the religion. Is the ideal of America totally dependent on the actions of its political leadership? Personally, I think there is far more to America than just the president and congress whether corrupt or not.

hunkerdown , April 17, 2017 at 5:00 pm

Ideals only serve in practice to create primordial debts, buttress power differentials, and enable selective malfeasance. I fail to see the social utility of any of those products and believe humanity would be better off repudiating them and their vectors. Disease is not a public good.

Jagger , April 17, 2017 at 7:57 pm

Well I am using this definition of ideal: "a person or thing conceived as embodying such a conception or conforming to such a standard, and taken as a model for imitation". I guess you are welcome to your definition.

JTMcPhee , April 17, 2017 at 5:10 pm

I think "America" is maybe a shibboleth of some sort, but there is not a dam' thing left of the stuff I was taught and brought to believe, as a young person, Boy Scout, attendee at the Presbyterian Westminster Fellowship, attentive student of Mrs. Thompson and Mr. Fleming in Civics, Social Studies and US History classes, and all that. I was well enough steeped in that stuff to let "patriotism" overcome better sense, strongly enough to enlist in the Army in 1966.

Maybe you think "The Birth of a Nation" captures the essence of our great country?

What is or are the ideal(s) of "America?" Get rich quick, violence on all fronts, anti-intellectualism, imperial project across the planet? "Democracy?" If you trot that out as a "feature", you better explain what you mean, with some specificity. More to America? If youtube is any guide, try searching it for "syria combat" or "redneck" or "full auto," or all the really sick racist and extreme stuff - a pretty sorry place. But we all recite the Pledge so dutifully, don't we? and feel a thrill as the F-22s swoop over the football stadium?

[Dec 11, 2017] Jihad vs. McWorld - Wikipedia

Dec 11, 2017 | en.wikipedia.org

Jihad vs. McWorld From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation , search

Jihad vs. McWorld
Jihad vs McWorld.jpg Cover to the paperback edition
Author Benjamin Barber
Country United States
Language English
Genre Political science
Publisher Times Books
Publication date 1995
Media type Print ( Hardcover )
Pages 381
ISBN 978-0-812-92350-6
OCLC 31969451
Dewey Decimal 909.82/9 21
LC Class HM201 .B37 1996

Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism Are Reshaping the World is a 1995 book by American political scientist Benjamin Barber , in which he puts forth a theory that describes the struggle between "McWorld" ( globalization and the corporate control of the political process) and " Jihad " (Arabic term for "struggle", here modified to mean tradition and traditional values , in the form of extreme nationalism or religious orthodoxy and theocracy ). Benjamin Barber similarly questions the impact of economic globalization as well as its problems for democracy.

The book was based on a March 1992 article by Barber first published in The Atlantic Monthly . [1] The book employs the basic critique of neoliberalism seen in Barber's earlier, seminal work Strong Democracy . As neoliberal economic theory -- not to be confused with social liberalism -- is the force behind globalization, this critique is relevant on a much larger scale. Unregulated market forces encounter parochial (which he calls tribal ) forces.

These tribal forces come in many varieties: religious, cultural, ethnic, regional, local, etc. As globalization imposes a culture of its own on a population, the tribal forces feel threatened and react. More than just economic, the crises that arise from these confrontations often take on a sacred quality to the tribal elements; thus Barber's use of the term "Jihad" (although in the second edition, he expresses regret at having used that term). [ why? ]

Barber's prognosis in Jihad vs McWorld is generally negative -- he concludes that neither global corporations nor traditional cultures are supportive of democracy . He further posits that McWorld could ultimately win the "struggle". He also proposes a model for small, local democratic institutions and civic engagement as the hope for an alternative to these two forces.

Contents [ hide ] Problems for democracy edit

Barber states that neither Jihad nor McWorld needs or promotes democracy. [2]

McWorld edit

Barber argues that there are several imperatives that make up the McWorld, or the globalization of politics : a market imperative, a resource imperative, an information-technology imperative, and an ecological imperative. Due to globalization, our market has expanded and is vulnerable to the transnational markets where free trade, easy access to banking and exchange of currency are available. With the emergence of our markets, we have come up with international laws and treaties in order to maintain stability and efficiency in the interconnected economy. Resources are also an imperative aspect in the McWorld, where autarky seems insufficient and inefficient in presence of globalization. The information-technology of globalization has opened up communications to people all over the world, allowing us to exchange information. Also, technology is now systematically integrated into everyone's lives to the point where it "gives every person on earth access to every other person". [3] Globalization of ecology may seem cliche; Barber argues that whatever a nation does to their own ecology, it affects everyone on earth. For instance, cutting down a jungle will upset the overall oxygen balance, which affects our "global lungs". McWorld may promote peace and prosperity, but Barber sees this as being done at the cost of independence and identity , and notes that no more social justice or equality than necessary are needed to promote efficient economic production and consumption.

Jihad edit

Barber sees Jihad as offering solidarity and protecting identities, but at the potential cost of tolerance and stability. Barber describes the solidarity needed within the concept of Jihad as being secured through exclusion and war against outsiders. As a result, he argues, different forms of anti-democratization can arise through anti-democratic one-party dictatorships, military juntas, or theocratic fundamentalism. Barber also describes through modern day examples what these 'players' are. "they are cultures, not countries; parts, not wholes; sects, not religions, rebellious factions and dissenting minorities at war not just with globalism but with the traditional nation-state. Kurds, Basques, Puerto Ricans, Ossetians, East Timoreans, Quebecois, the Catholics of Northern Ireland, Catalans, Tamils, and of course, Palestinians- people with countries, inhabiting nations not their own, seeking smaller worlds within borders that will seal them off from modernity." [4]

Confederal option edit

Barber writes democracy can be spread and secured through the world satisfying the needs of both the McWorld and Jihad. "With its concern for accountability, the protection of minorities, and the universal rule of law, a confederalized representative system would serve the political needs of McWorld as well as oligarchic bureaucratism or meritocratic elitism is currently doing." [4] Some can accept democracy faster than others. Every case is different, however "Democracy grows from the bottom up and cannot be imposed from the top down. Civil society has to be built from the inside out." [1] He goes on to further explain exactly what the confederal option means and how it will help. "It certainly seems possible that the most attractive democratic ideal in the face of the brutal realities of Jihad and the dull realities of McWorld will be a confederal union of semi autonomous communities smaller than nation-states, tied together into regional economic associations and markets larger than nation-states -- participatory and self-determining in local matters at the bottom, representative and accountable at the top. The nation-state would play a diminished role, and sovereignty would lose some of its political potency." [4]

[Dec 10, 2017] blamePutin continues to be the media s dominant hashtag. Vladimir Putin finally confesses his entire responsibility for everything bad that has ever happened since the beginning of time

Highly recommended!
Guardian in Russia coverage acts as MI6 outlet. Magnitsky probably was MI6 operation, anyway.
Notable quotes:
"... The Observer fabricated a direct quote from the Russian president for their propaganda purposes without any regard to basic journalistic standards. They wanted to blame Putin personally for the suspicions of some Russian investigators, so they just invented an imaginary statement from him so they could conveniently do so. ..."
"... What is really going on here is the classic trope of demonisation propaganda in which the demonised leader is conflated with all officials of their government and with the targeted country itself, so as to simplify and personalise the narrative of the subsequent Two Minutes Hate to be unleashed against them. ..."
"... In the same article, the documents from Russian investigators naming Browder as a suspect in certain crimes are first "seen as" a frame-up (by the sympathetic chorus of completely anonymous observers yellow journalism can always call on when an unsupported claim needs a spurious bolstering) and then outright labelled as such (see quote above) as if this alleged frame-up is a proven fact. Which it isn't. ..."
"... No evidence is required down there in the Guardian/Observer journalistic gutter before unsupported claims against Russian officials can be treated as unquestionable pseudo-facts, just as opponents of Putin can commit no crime for the outlet's hate-befuddled hacks. ..."
Dec 10, 2017 | off-guardian.org

by VT

The decline of the falsely self-described "quality" media outlet The Guardian/Observer into a deranged fake news site pushing anti-Russian hate propaganda continues apace. Take a look at this gem :

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has accused prominent British businessman Bill Browder of being a "serial killer" – the latest extraordinary attempt by the Kremlin to frame one of its most high-profile public enemies.

But Putin has not been reported anywhere else as making any recent statement about Browder whatever, and the Observer article makes no further mention of Putin's supposed utterance or the circumstances in which it was supposedly made.

As the rest of the article makes clear, the suspicions against Browder were actually voiced by Russian police investigators and not by Putin at all.

The Observer fabricated a direct quote from the Russian president for their propaganda purposes without any regard to basic journalistic standards. They wanted to blame Putin personally for the suspicions of some Russian investigators, so they just invented an imaginary statement from him so they could conveniently do so.

What is really going on here is the classic trope of demonisation propaganda in which the demonised leader is conflated with all officials of their government and with the targeted country itself, so as to simplify and personalise the narrative of the subsequent Two Minutes Hate to be unleashed against them.

When, as in this case, the required substitution of the demonised leader for their country can't be wrung out of the facts even through the most vigorous twisting, a disreputable fake news site like The Guardian/Observer is free to simply make up new, alternative facts that better fit their disinformative agenda. Because facts aren't at all sacred when the official propaganda line demands lies.

In the same article, the documents from Russian investigators naming Browder as a suspect in certain crimes are first "seen as" a frame-up (by the sympathetic chorus of completely anonymous observers yellow journalism can always call on when an unsupported claim needs a spurious bolstering) and then outright labelled as such (see quote above) as if this alleged frame-up is a proven fact. Which it isn't.

No evidence is required down there in the Guardian/Observer journalistic gutter before unsupported claims against Russian officials can be treated as unquestionable pseudo-facts, just as opponents of Putin can commit no crime for the outlet's hate-befuddled hacks.

The above falsifications were brought to the attention of the Observer's so-called Readers Editor – the official at the Guardian/Observer responsible for "independently" defending the outlet's misdeeds against outraged readers – who did nothing. By now the article has rolled off the site's front page, rendering any possible future correction nugatory in any case.

Later in the same article Magnitsky is described as having been Browder's "tax lawyer" a standard trope of the Western propaganda narrative about the case. Magnitsky was actually an accountant .

A trifecta of fakery in one article! That makes crystal clear what the Guardian meant in this article , published at precisely the same moment as the disinformation cited above, when it said:

"We know what you are doing," Theresa May said of Russia. It's not enough to know. We need to do something about it.

By "doing something about it" they mean they're going to tell one hostile lie about Russia after another.


michaelk says November 26, 2017

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/nov/26/big-issue-who-will-step-in-after-bullies-have-silenced-dissenters

From the 'liberal' Guardian/Observer wing of the rightwing bourgeois press, spot the differences with the article in the Mail on Sunday by Nick Robinson?

michaelk says November 26, 2017
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-5117723/Nick-Robinson-Putin-using-fake-news-weaken-West.html

This thing seems to have been cobbled together by a guy called Nick Robinson. The same BBC Nick Robinson that hosts the Today Programme? I dunno, one feels really rather depressed at how low our media has sunk.

michaelk says November 23, 2017
I think huge swathes of the media, in the eyes of many people, have never really recovered from the ghastly debacle that was their dreadful coverage of the reasons for the illegal attack on Iraq.

The journalists want us to forget and move on, but many, many, people still remember. Nothing happened afterwards. There was no tribunal to examine the media's role in that massive international crime against humanity and things actually got worse post Iraq, which the attack on Libya and Syria illustrates.

rtj1211 says November 29, 2017
Exactly: in my opinion there should be life sentences banning scribblers who printed lies and bloodthirsty kill, kill, kill articles from ever working again in the media.

Better still, make them go fight right now in Yemen. Amazing how quickly truth will spread if journalists know they have a good chance of dying if they print lies and falsehoods ..

michaelk says November 23, 2017
At a time when the ruling elite, across virtually the entire western world, is losing it; it being, political legitimacy and the breakdown of any semblance of a social contract between the ruled and the rulers the Guardian lurches even further to the political right . amazing, though not really surprising. The Guardian's role appears to be to 'coral' radical and leftist ideas and opinions and 'groom' the educated middle class into accepting their own subjugation.

The Guardian's writers get so much, so wrong, so often it's staggering and nobody gets the boot, except for the people who allude to the incompetence at the heart of the Guardian. They fail dismally on Trump, Brexit and Corbyn and yet carry on as if everything is fine and dandy. Nothing to complain about here, mover along now.

I suppose it's because they are actually media aristocrats living in a world of privilege, and they, as members of the ruling elite, look after one another regardless of how poorly they actually perform. This is typical of an elite that's on the ropes and doomed. They choose to retreat from grubby reality into a parallel world where their own dogmas aren't challenged and they begin to believe their propaganda is real and not an artificial contruct. This is incredibly dangerous for a ruling elite because society becomes brittle and weaker by the day as the ruling dogmas become hollow and ritualized, but without traction in reality and real purpose.

The Guardian is a bit like the Tory government, lost and without any real ideas or ideals. The slow strangulation of the CIF symbolizes the crisis of confidence at the Guardian. A strong and confident ruling class welcomes criticism and is ready to brush it all off with a smile and a shrug. When they start running scared and pretending there is no dissent or opposition, well, this is a sign of decadence and profound weakness. They are losing the battle of ideas and the battle of solutions to our problems. All that really stands between them and a social revolution is a thin veneer of 'authority' and status, and that's really not enough anymore.

All our problems are pathetically and conviniently blamed on the Russians and their Demon King and his vast army of evil Trolls. It's like a political version of the Lord of the Rings.

WeatherEye says November 21, 2017
Don't expect the Guardian to cover the biggest military build-up (NATO) on Russia's borders since Hitler's 1941 invasion.

John Pilger has described the "respectable" liberal press (Guardian, NYT etc) as the most effective component of the propaganda system, precisely BECAUSE it is respectable and trusted. As to why the Guardian is so insistent in demonising Russia, I would propose that is integrates them further with a Brexit-ridden Tory government. Its Blairite columnists prefer May over Corbyn any day.

rtj1211 says November 29, 2017
The Guardian is now owned by Neocon Americans, that is why it is demonising Russia. Simple as that.
WeatherEye says November 29, 2017
Evidence?
Harry Stotle says November 21, 2017
The Guardian is trying to rescue citizens from 'dreadful dangers that we cannot see, or do not understand' – in other words they play a central role in 'the power of nightmares' https://www.youtube.com/embed/LlA8KutU2to
rtj1211 says November 21, 2017
So Russians cannot do business in America but Americans must be protected to do business in Russia?

If you look at Ukraine and how US corporations are benefitting from the US-funded coup, you ask what the US did in Russia in the 1990s and the effect it had on US business and ordinary Russian people. Were the two consistent with a common US template of economic imperialism?

In particular, you ask what Bill Browder was doing, his links to US spying organisations etc etc. You ask if he supported the rape of Russian State assets, turned a blind eye to the millions of Russians dying in the 1990s courtesy of catastrophic economic conditions. If he was killing people to stay alive, he would not have been the only one. More important is whether him making $100m+ in Russia needed conditions where tens of millions of Russians were starving .and whether he saw that as acceptable collateral damage ..he made a proactive choice, after all, to go live in Moscow. It is not like he was born there and had no chance to leave ..

I do not know the trurh about Bill Browder, but one thing I do know: very powerful Americans are capable of organising mass genocide to become rich, so there is no possible basis for painting all American businessmen as philanthropists and all Russians as murdering savages ..

michaelk says November 21, 2017
It's perfectly possible, in fact the norm historically, for people to believe passionately in the existence of invisible threats to their well-being, which, when examined calmly from another era, resemble a form of mass-hysteria or collective madness. For example; the religious faith/dogma that Satan, demons and witches were all around us. An invisible, parallel, world, by the side of our own that really existed and we were 'at war with.' Satan was our adversary, the great trickster and disseminator of 'fake news' opposed to the 'good news' provided by the Gospels.

What's remarkable, disturbing and frightening is how closely our media resemble a religious cult or the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. The journalists have taken on a role that's close to that of a priesthood. They function as a 'filtering' layer between us and the world around us. They are, supposedly, uniquely qualified to understand the difference between truth and lies, or what's right and wrong, real news and propaganda. The Guardian actually likes this role. They our the guardians of the truth in a chaotic world.

This reminds one of the role of the clergy. Their role was to stand between ordinary people and the 'complexities' of the Bible and separate the Truths it contained from wild and 'fake' interpretations, which could easily become dangerous and undermine the social order and fundamental power relationships.

The big challenge to the role of the Church happened when the printing press allowed the ordinary people to access the information themselves and worst still when the texts were translated into the common language and not just Latin. Suddenly people could access the texts, read and begin to interpret and understand for themselves. It's hard to imagine that people were actually burned alive in England for smuggling the Bible in English translation a few centuries ago. That's how dangerous the State regarded such a 'crime.'

One can compare the translation of the Bible and the challenge to the authority of the Church and the clergy as 'guardians of the truth' to what's happeing today with the rise of the Internet and something like Wikileaks, where texts and infromation are made available uncensored and raw and the role of the traditional 'media church' and the journalist priesthood is challenged.

We're seeing a kind of media counter-reformation. That's why the Guardian turned on Assange so disgracefully and what Wikileaks represented.

WeatherEye says November 21, 2017
A brilliant historical comparison. They're now on the legal offensive in censoring the internet of course, because in truth the filter system is wholly vulnerable. Alternative media has been operating freely, yet the majority have continued to rely on MSM as if it's their only source of (dis)information, utilizing our vast internet age to the pettiness of social media and prank videos. Marx was right: capitalist society alienates people from their own humanity. We're now aliens, deprived of our original being and floating in a vacuum of Darwinist competition and barbarism. And we wonder why climate change is happening?
tutisicecream says November 21, 2017
Apparently we are "living in disorientating times" according to Viner, she goes on to say that "championing the public interest is at the heart of the Guardian's mission".

Really? How is it possible for her to say that when many of the controversial articles which appear in the Guardian are not open for comment any more. They have adopted now a view that THEIR "opinion" should not be challenged, how is that in the public interest?

In the Observer on Sunday a piece also appeared smearing RT entitled: "MPs defend fees of up to £1,000 an hour to appear on 'Kremlin propaganda' channel." However they allowed comments which make interesting reading. Many commenter's saw through their ruse and although the most vociferous critics of the Graun have been banished, but even the mild mannered ones which remain appear not the buy into the idea that RT is any different than other media outlets. With many expressing support for the news and op-ed outlet for giving voice to those who the MSM ignore – including former Guardian writers from time to time.

Why Viner's words are so poisonous is that the Graun under her stewardship has become a agitprop outlet offering no balance. In the below linked cringe worthy article there is no mention of RT being under attack in the US and having to register itself and staff as foreign agents. NO DEFENCE OF ATTACKS ON FREEDOM OF THE PRESS by the US state is mentioned.

Surely this issue is at the heart of championing public interest?

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/18/mps-kremlin-propaganda-channel-rt#comments

The fact that it's not shows clearly the fake Guardian/Observer claim and their real agenda.

WE ARE DEFINITELY LIVING IN DISORIENTATION TIMES and the Guardian/Observer are leading the charge.

tutisicecream says November 21, 2017
Correction: DISORIENTATING TIMES
Peter says November 21, 2017
For the political/media/business elites (I suppose you could call them 'the Establishment') in the US and UK, the main problem with RT seems to be that a lot of people are watching it. I wonder how long it will be before access is cut. RT is launching a French-language channel next month. We are already being warned by the French MSM about how RT makes up fake news to further Putin's evil propaganda aims (unlike said MSM, we are told). Basically, elites just don't trust the people (this is certainly a constant in French political life).
Jim says November 21, 2017
It's not just that they don't allow comments on many of their articles, but even on the articles where CiF is enabled, they ban any accounts that disagree with their narrative. The end result is that Guardianistas get the false impression everyone shares their view and that they are in the majority. The Guardian moderators are like Scientology leaders who banish any outsiders for fear of influencing their cult members.
BigB says November 20, 2017
Everyone knows that Russia-gate is a feat of mass hypnosis, mesmerized from DNC financed lies. The Trump collusion myth is baseless and becoming dangerously hysterical: but conversely, the Clinton collusion scandal is not so easy to allay. Whilst it may turn out to be the greatest story never told: it looks substantive enough to me. HRC colluded with Russian oligarchy to the tune of $145m of "donations" into her slush fund. In return, Rosatom gained control of Uranium One.

A curious adjunct to this corruption: HRC opposed the Magnitsky Act in 2012. Given her subsequent rabid Russophobia: you'd have thought that if the Russians (as it has been spun) arrested a brave whistleblowing tax lawyer and murdered him in prison – she would have been quite vocal in her condemnation. No, she wanted to make Russia great again. It's amazing how $145m can focus ones attention away from ones natural instinct.

[Browder and Magnitsky were as corrupt as each other: the story that the Russians took over Browder's hedge fund and implicated them both in a $230m tax fraud and corruption scandal is as fantastical as the "Golden Shower" dossier. However, it seems to me Magnitsky's death was preventable (he died from complications of pancreatitis, for which it seems he was initially refused treatment ) ]

So if we turn the clock back to 2010-2013, it sure looks to me as though we have a Russian collusion scandal: only it's not one the Guardian will ever want to tell. Will it come out when the FBI 's "secret" informant (William D Cambell) testifies to Congress sometime this week? Not in the Guardian, because their precious Hillary Clinton is the real scandal here.

jag37777 says November 20, 2017
Browder is a spook.
susannapanevin says November 20, 2017
Reblogged this on Susanna Panevin .
Eric Blair says November 20, 2017
This "tactic" – a bold or outrageous claim made in the headline or in the first few sentences of a piece that is proven false in the very same article – is becoming depressingly common in the legacy media.

In other words, the so-called respectable media knowingly prints outright lies for propaganda and clickbait purposes.

labrebisgalloise says November 20, 2017
I dropped a line to a friend yesterday saying "only in a parallel universe would a businessman/shady dealer/tax evader such as Browder be described as an "anti-corruption campaigner."" Those not familiar with the history of Browder's grandfather, after whom a whole new "deviation" in leftist thinking was named, should look it up.
Eric Blair says November 20, 2017
Hey, MbS is also an "anti-corruption" campaigner! If the media says so it must be true!
Sav says November 20, 2017
Some months ago you saw tweets saying Russophobia had hit ridiculous levels. They hadn't seen anything yet. It's scary how easily people can be brainwashed.

The US are the masters of molesting other nations. It's not even a secret what they've been up to. Look at their budgets or the size of the intelligence buildings. Most journalists know full well of their programs, including those on social media, which they even reported on a few years back. The Guardian run stories by the CIA created and US state funded RFE/RL & then tell us with a straight face that RT is state propaganda which is destroying our democracy.

A Petherbridge says November 20, 2017
Well said – interesting to know what the Guardian is paid to run these stories funded by this arm of US state propaganda.
bevin says November 20, 2017
The madness spreads: today The Canary has/had an article 'proving' that the 'Russians' were responsible for Brexit, Trump, etc etc.

Then there is the neo-liberal 'President' of the EU charging that the extreme right wing and Russophobic warmongers in the Polish government are in fact, like the President of the USA, in Putin's pocket..

This outbreak is reaching the dimensions of the sort of mass hysteria that gave us St Vitus' dance. Oh and the 'sonic' terrorism practised against US diplomats in Havana, in which crickets working for the evil one (who he?) appear to have been responsible for a breach in diplomatic relations. It couldn't have happened to a nicer empire.

Admin says November 21, 2017
The Canary is publishing mainstream russophobia?

[Dec 09, 2017] The Globalization of Our Discontent by Joseph E. Stiglitz - Project Syndicate

Notable quotes:
"... Globalization and Its Discontents, ..."
"... as it has been managed for the past quarter-century ..."
"... Globalization and Its Discontents Revisited: Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump ..."
Dec 05, 2017 | www.project-syndicate.org

Globalization, which was supposed to benefit developed and developing countries alike, is now reviled almost everywhere, as the political backlash in Europe and the US in recent years has shown. The challenge is to minimize the risk that the backlash will intensify, and that starts by understanding – and avoiding – past mistakes.

NEW YORK – Fifteen years ago, I published Globalization and Its Discontents, a book that sought to explain why there was so much dissatisfaction with globalization within the developing countries. Quite simply, many believed that the system was "rigged" against them, and global trade agreements were singled out for being particularly unfair.

The Year Ahead 2018 The world's leading thinkers and policymakers examine what's come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

Order now

Now discontent with globalization has fueled a wave of populism in the United States and other advanced economies, led by politicians who claim that the system is unfair to their countries. In the US, President Donald Trump insists that America's trade negotiators were snookered by those from Mexico and China.

So how could something that was supposed to benefit all, in developed and developing countries alike, now be reviled almost everywhere? How can a trade agreement be unfair to all parties?

To those in developing countries, Trump's claims – like Trump himself – are laughable. The US basically wrote the rules and created the institutions of globalization. In some of these institutions – for example, the International Monetary Fund – the US still has veto power, despite America's diminished role in the global economy (a role which Trump seems determined to diminish still further).

To someone like me, who has watched trade negotiations closely for more than a quarter-century, it is clear that US trade negotiators got most of what they wanted. The problem was with what they wanted. Their agenda was set, behind closed doors, by corporations. It was an agenda written by and for large multinational companies, at the expense of workers and ordinary citizens everywhere.

https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/355518752&color=%23ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true

Indeed, it often seems that workers, who have seen their wages fall and jobs disappear, are just collateral damage – innocent but unavoidable victims in the inexorable march of economic progress. But there is another interpretation of what has happened: one of the objectives of globalization was to weaken workers' bargaining power. What corporations wanted was cheaper labor, however they could get it.

This interpretation helps explain some puzzling aspects of trade agreements. Why is it, for example, that advanced countries gave away one of their biggest advantages, the rule of law? Indeed, provisions embedded in most recent trade agreements give foreign investors more rights than are provided to investors in the US. They are compensated, for example, should the government adopt a regulation that hurts their bottom line, no matter how desirable the regulation or how great the harm caused by the corporation in its absence.

There are three responses to globalized discontent with globalization. The first – call it the Las Vegas strategy – is to double down on the bet on globalization as it has been managed for the past quarter-century . This bet, like all bets on proven policy failures (such as trickle-down economics) is based on the hope that somehow it will succeed in the future.

The second response is Trump_vs_deep_state: cut oneself off from globalization, in the hope that doing so will somehow bring back a bygone world. But protectionism won't work. Globally, manufacturing jobs are on the decline, simply because productivity growth has outpaced growth in demand.

Even if manufacturing were to come back, the jobs won't. Advanced manufacturing technology, including robots, means that the few jobs created will require higher skills and will be placed at different locations than the jobs that were lost. Like doubling down, this approach is doomed to fail, further increasing the discontent felt by those left behind.

Trump will fail even in his proclaimed goal of reducing the trade deficit, which is determined by the disparity between domestic savings and investment. Now that the Republicans have gotten their way and enacted a tax cut for billionaires, national savings will fall and the trade deficit will rise, owing to an increase in the value of the dollar. (Fiscal deficits and trade deficits normally move so closely together that they are called "twin" deficits.) Trump may not like it, but as he is slowly finding out, there are some things that even a person in the most powerful position in the world cannot control.

There is a third approach: social protection without protectionism, the kind of approach that the small Nordic countries took. They knew that as small countries they had to remain open. But they also knew that remaining open would expose workers to risk. Thus, they had to have a social contract that helped workers move from old jobs to new and provide some help in the interim.

The Nordic countries are deeply democratic societies, so they knew that unless most workers regarded globalization as benefiting them, it wouldn't be sustained. And the wealthy in these countries recognized that if globalization worked as it should, there would be enough benefits to go around.

American capitalism in recent years has been marked by unbridled greed – the 2008 financial crisis provides ample confirmation of that. But, as some countries have shown, a market economy can take forms that temper the excesses of both capitalism and globalization, and deliver more sustainable growth and higher standards of living for most citizens.

We can learn from such successes what to do, just as we can learn from past mistakes what not to do. As has become evident, if we do not manage globalization so that it benefits all, the backlash – from the New Discontents in the North and the Old Discontents in the South – is at risk of intensifying.

[Dec 05, 2017] Germany's Dystopian Plans for Europe From Fantasy to Reality

Notable quotes:
"... In other words, Germany already effectively controls the armies of four countries. And the initiative, Foreign Policy notes, 'is likely to grow'. This is not surprising: if Germany ('the EU') wants to become truly autonomous from the US, it needs to acquire military sovereignty, which it currently lacks. ..."
"... so many people in Europe will see it being necessitated by the growing chaos in the Middle East and in Africa. ..."
"... Never let a crisis go to waste ..."
"... Certainly not those of the inhabitants of the constituent "nations" of the EU (ironic quotation marks fully intended). And now Muti Merkel and the authoritarian scolds of Brussels are trying to force a quota of these migrants upon all of the "nations" – or should we say, the administrative zones – of the EU. Orban, Le Pen, the AfD, and ilk are not stupid, you know. ..."
"... I worked in and with "Brussels" for many years and can say that many, if not most, of the personnel involved with EU institutions are neo-liberals, neo-cons and deluded with the fantasy of an EU imperium, Greece to America's Rome. ..."
"... I think I concur with Mitchell that a Federal EU State is a big no no for Germany, based on the fact fiscal transfers would be out of the German coffers, and this fact is amplified by the exit of the UK, which was a big net EU contributor. The rumour mill has it that Jans Weidmann will be the next ECB Head, which means we can expect more, not less austerity imposed as the EU elite push further EMU, which, is certainly not in the interests of the average Joe across the Euro member states. ..."
"... Anyhow, check Bill Mitchell out, so decent material and nice to see people standing up for the Nation State, rather than supranational entities and corporations. ..."
"... If Germany is trying to build a mini-imperial system straddling all of Europe, then it would seek willing 'elites' in the small European countries to give a slice of pie to in exchange for their cooperation with that agenda. This is standard (neo)colonial policy today, which is best understood as the neocon/neoliberal approach the United States has taken to world domination – aka bad cop/good cop. "Accept our offer of a carpet of gold or we'll deliver a carpet of bombs", is another version of that offer. The one that can't be refused? ..."
"... This is because public debt in the eurozone is used as a political tool – a disciplining tool – to get governments to implement socially harmful policies (and to get citizens to accept these policies by portraying them as inevitable), which explains why Germany continues to refuse to seriously consider any form of debt relief for Greece, despite the various commitments and promises to that end made in recent years: debt is the chain that keeps Greece (and other member states) from straying 'off course'. ..."
"... That would be the neoliberal mechanism of control; notice here how debts assumed by small nations are not like debts assumed by the controlling powers, either. Rather like student loan holders vs. central banks – students can't print money to pay off their debts, that's the difference. ..."
"... So, if it is true in economics that stability creates instability, then the creation of a stable Europe will undo itself in the manner that this article appears to be saying. ..."
"... This corporate super-entity reminds me of "Omnius Prime" in the Dune universe – a computer with nearly total sociopathic control over humanity. The corporate super-entity, whose AI program's only concern is maximizing short term profits by inflating securities and equities, will eat the Earth if we allow it to continue – digesting and purging humans which have been commodified like everything else. ..."
"... Then we see power blocks aligning, the US (and it's proxies), the EU under Germany, Russia, and China. Clearly we are sitting on a powder keg that is the disintegrating neo-liberal world orde. What will serve as the spark that lights the fuse? Trump and North Korea? War for fun and profit in the Middle East? ..."
Dec 05, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Synoia , December 5, 2017 at 10:40 am

The basis of this thesis was plain when the ECB was placed in Germany.

The Economic regime is: Germany books the profits, and you lazy (non Germans) book the losses.

Welcome to the neoliberal roots of the next 30 years war. The 30 years war was the imposition of the ruler's denomination, Catholicism, on the people. This next 30 years one is imposing asset stripping (rent extraction) on the people and enriching a few Aristocrats, as a dogma.

Now do you understand Brexit? Do you believe the British could not see this coming?

I'll repeat: This was the obvious outcome when the ECB was placed in Germany. I'm English and discussed this very topic with my family and friends there, and there was general agreement that German ambition would pave the path.

Those who don't know their history are condemned to repeat it.

The Rev Kev , December 5, 2017 at 6:39 pm

Now do you understand Brexit? Do you believe the British could not see this coming?

Exactly. Those average British voters weren't stupid as claimed. If the EU/Germans are trying to do this whose aims are, and I quote:

"to further erode what little sovereignty and autonomy member states have left, particularly in the area of fiscal policy, and to facilitate the imposition of neoliberal 'structural reforms' – flexibilisation of labour markets, reduction of collective bargaining rights, etc. – on reluctant countries." and the year is only 2017, then what would it be like in the EU by the year, say, 2040?

Those British voters knew exactly what was coming down the turnpike and decided to bail and accept a whole lot of present pain. It was not their fault that it turned out that their leadership turned out to be a load of stuff-ups. To reinforce the point, look at the pain and deaths that the American colonies had to endure to get out of the British Empire. Before 1777 that would not have seemed to be the logical thing to do.

George Phillies , December 5, 2017 at 10:47 am

Does this direction become a hazard to the United States? Mr. Putin appears to have an answer, but perhaps does not have ready yet the next step, namely the needed set of trained personnel, trays, software, and printed pieces of paper, so that one way or another a country that wants to jettison the Euro can convert its ATMs very quickly to do so. Being set up to print very large stocks of Euros from the country that is leaving also comes to mind. Readers will recognize other steps.

Unlike some years ago, fast air access from Russia to southern European countries by overflying Mr Putin's friend Turkey is now probably available.

Norm , December 5, 2017 at 11:24 am

A good summary of a situation that is too complex to be neatly summarized – so many political, historical, religious, cultural, etc. issues come into play not only for each nation involved but also on an individual level for hundreds of millions of people. My most immediate reaction to these suggestions that a militarily capable fourth Reich may be emerging is that so many people in Europe will see it being necessitated by the growing chaos in the Middle East and in Africa.

visitor , December 5, 2017 at 12:24 pm

In other words, Germany already effectively controls the armies of four countries. And the initiative, Foreign Policy notes, 'is likely to grow'. This is not surprising: if Germany ('the EU') wants to become truly autonomous from the US, it needs to acquire military sovereignty, which it currently lacks.

The Bundeswehr has been in a sorry state of disrepair for years, which has not improved despite policy changes regarding the military.

And I seriously doubt that Germany really "controls" the armies of four countries.

The fact is that so far Germany's military strategy was conceived only within the NATO framework -- where it could rely upon the heavy-lifting of the USA logistical train, the ground experience and battle-readiness of the French and the British, and the availability of the navies from Spain and Italy. Germany has neither the equipment, nor the personnel, nor the experience to take the lead of a EU military, and other countries will probably strenuously oppose such endeavours which would rob them from their last symbolic and practical vestiges of sovereignty.

On the other hand, as the article explains, Germany is well on its way to assert its complete dominion over the economic and institutional arrangements in the EU.

Mark P. , December 5, 2017 at 3:05 pm

so many people in Europe will see it being necessitated by the growing chaos in the Middle East and in Africa.

True.

JBird , December 5, 2017 at 6:41 pm

Never let a crisis go to waste ?

JerseyJeffersonian , December 5, 2017 at 8:19 pm

Ah, yes, a crisis greatly exacerbated by taking down Libya, a country which had served as a bulwark against much of the tide of migration into Southern Europe from Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as an enemy to Wahabbi/Salafist terror.

Not to mention the EU support for the dismemberment of Syria that launched its own tidal wave of migration into Europe, whilst Syria was also an enemy of Wahabbi/Salafist terror.

In light of that, one must ask, in whose interest were these actions undertaken, and at whose behest? Well?

Certainly not those of the inhabitants of the constituent "nations" of the EU (ironic quotation marks fully intended). And now Muti Merkel and the authoritarian scolds of Brussels are trying to force a quota of these migrants upon all of the "nations" – or should we say, the administrative zones – of the EU. Orban, Le Pen, the AfD, and ilk are not stupid, you know. Europeans, at least those of you who still possess a quantum of self-respect, and who honor your histories and cultures, gather your courage and tell Muti and the Commissars of Brussels that the game is over before they can inflict yet more damage. But – perhaps – you are already too comfortably numb to remember why and how to do this? Well, then, into the veal pen with you.

Colonel Smithers , December 5, 2017 at 11:34 am

Many thanks, Yves.

Further to "France's corporate offensive in Italy", one-sided as France took recent exception to the take over of one its shipbuilders by an Italian rival, I would argue that it's an offensive by the EU's 1%, a strategy of immiseration facilitated by the likes of Guy Verhofstadt as per http://www.sofina.be/board-management/ . Sofina is well-connected with the French establishment by way of Eurazeo and the Italian establishment by way of Banca Leonardo.

I worked in and with "Brussels" for many years and can say that many, if not most, of the personnel involved with EU institutions are neo-liberals, neo-cons and deluded with the fantasy of an EU imperium, Greece to America's Rome. It suits them and their cheerleaders, including in Blighty, to pretend that this is due to the malign influence of Albion perfide or Anglo-Saxons. One should not expect a change of tack after Brexit. The "racaille" are profit(eer)ing too much and are able to get away with it under the cover of more Europe.

Christopher Dale Rogers , December 5, 2017 at 1:17 pm

CS,

As far as EMU is concerned, monetarist economic thinking has been predominant in much of the Europhiles output on monetary union since the 70s, that is, prior to the UK joining the Community. Bill Mitchell has written concisely on this over the past week & is quite scathing of Mitterrand and Delors for their embrace of what we now term 'neoliberalism', combine this with a desire for an actual military arm & one really does worry about the direction of the EU, with or without the UK.

Further, and within the lecture presented by Sir Ivan Rogers last week concerning Cameron & Brexit, the fact remains both the UK Elite & Euro Elite were keen on pushing TTIP, this despite the fact many believe it was the UK pushing neoliberalism on to Europe.

I think I concur with Mitchell that a Federal EU State is a big no no for Germany, based on the fact fiscal transfers would be out of the German coffers, and this fact is amplified by the exit of the UK, which was a big net EU contributor. The rumour mill has it that Jans Weidmann will be the next ECB Head, which means we can expect more, not less austerity imposed as the EU elite push further EMU, which, is certainly not in the interests of the average Joe across the Euro member states.

Anyhow, check Bill Mitchell out, so decent material and nice to see people standing up for the Nation State, rather than supranational entities and corporations.

norm de plume , December 5, 2017 at 3:30 pm

Bill Mitchell and the author of this piece Thomas Fazi are collaborators .

Eustache De Saint Pierre , December 5, 2017 at 4:09 pm

More on Guy :

https://www.thepressproject.gr/details_en.php?aid=62406

voteforno6 , December 5, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Germany is seeking a hegemonic position in Europe what could go wrong?

Left in Wisconsin , December 5, 2017 at 12:30 pm

I found the first about 1/3 of this post informative. But then the author gets to the main thesis:

The process underway can only be understood through the lens of the geopolitical-economic tensions and conflicts between leading capitalist states and regional blocs, and the conflicting interests between the different financial/industrial capital fractions located in those states , which have always characterised the European economy. In particular, it means looking at Germany's historic struggle for economic hegemony over the European continent.

This suggests that the national battles in Europe are battles between different national "capital fractions," in particular German capital with its everlasting desire for economic hegemony over Europe against (presumably) other European national capitals that are opposed to Germany.

That does not strike me as an accurate description of the current status of Europe or the EU, and nothing in the rest of the piece suggests that this is a (the most?) useful lens for interpreting events. The author even admits that elites from smaller Euro countries are happy in the role of compradors to Germany's economically dominant capitalists and that "European elites" are united in their anti-democratic tendencies. Even the German election results show this thesis to be dubious – if "Germany" is well on its way to it's long-cherished goal of European economic hegemony, why on earth would voters be tired of Merkel? They should make her Kaiser!

nonsense factory , December 5, 2017 at 2:49 pm

If Germany is trying to build a mini-imperial system straddling all of Europe, then it would seek willing 'elites' in the small European countries to give a slice of pie to in exchange for their cooperation with that agenda. This is standard (neo)colonial policy today, which is best understood as the neocon/neoliberal approach the United States has taken to world domination – aka bad cop/good cop. "Accept our offer of a carpet of gold or we'll deliver a carpet of bombs", is another version of that offer. The one that can't be refused?

Jump down a few paragraphs from your quote to this:

This is because public debt in the eurozone is used as a political tool – a disciplining tool – to get governments to implement socially harmful policies (and to get citizens to accept these policies by portraying them as inevitable), which explains why Germany continues to refuse to seriously consider any form of debt relief for Greece, despite the various commitments and promises to that end made in recent years: debt is the chain that keeps Greece (and other member states) from straying 'off course'.

That would be the neoliberal mechanism of control; notice here how debts assumed by small nations are not like debts assumed by the controlling powers, either. Rather like student loan holders vs. central banks – students can't print money to pay off their debts, that's the difference.

As far as Germany's voters, well, the reality of Empire is that trickle-down is a myth. Empires always deliver the tribute from foreign holdings to a small circle of politically connected elites – British lords, French aristocrats, Wall Street billionaires, Third World tin-pot dictators, etc. The general public always suffers as a result; you have to fund the foreign military adventures over the domestic infrastructure, health care and education needs. Hence Empires always try to limit and undermine democratic rule; the German voters probably see this as well.

I'd suggest Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism as a good read (or listen) for a discussion of how this could play out.

JEHR , December 5, 2017 at 12:53 pm

So, if it is true in economics that stability creates instability, then the creation of a stable Europe will undo itself in the manner that this article appears to be saying. In order to avoid conflict, the European Union has created a trading zone that has a great deal of inequality in it–not just in trade but inequality in the financial system that will continue to grow as corporations merge and become ever larger and as banks become ever more monolithic. Perhaps, national sovereignty will succumb to financial hegemony rather than becoming the victims of German hegemony.

Summer , December 5, 2017 at 1:42 pm

And what would have been the plans for Britain? Big omission in the article. That was a damned if they do, damned if they don't option.

Isn't a lot of the EU's bill for Britain about making sure they pay for EU officials pensions? While everywhere else it is austerity for Eurozone and EU countries' pensioners

James McFadden , December 5, 2017 at 2:19 pm

Although I found this article helpful in summarizing many of the changes in EU politics, the author is incorrect in his premise that the German government is at the root of the anti-democratic, neoliberal EU movement. The author ignores the dominant role that the interconnected multinational corporations ( https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228354.500-revealed–the-capitalist-network-that-runs-the-world/ ) play in running the global political economy.

69 of the top 100 economies are now corporations ( https://blogs.worldbank.org/publicsphere/world-s-top-100-economies-31-countries-69-corporations ). National politics have become subservient to the interests of the financial economy which can move money quickly and destroy a state's economy when political decisions do not follow the neoliberal script of austerity. The author's premise that "Germany needs to seize control of the most coveted institution of them all – the ECB –, which hitherto has never been under direct German control" is backwards. It is the ECB that has had control of the German political leaders for years. Whether "Merkel now has her eyes on the ECB's presidency" or not does not matter. She is merely a cog in the corporate machine – easily replaced if she fails to follow the neoliberal agenda of austerity.

Of course we must recognize that austerity is only imposed as an attempt to inflate the debt bubble by squeezing those least capable of paying, those considered disposable in the sociopathic and mechanistic corporate hive mind. The "automatic stabilizing mechanisms" that "put the economy on 'autopilot', thus removing any element of democratic discussion and/or decision-making" are really just manifestations of the emergent behavior that this corporate super-organism expresses and imposes on the global economy. ( https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/01/ai-has-already-taken-over-its-called-the-corporation/ )

This corporate super-entity reminds me of "Omnius Prime" in the Dune universe – a computer with nearly total sociopathic control over humanity. The corporate super-entity, whose AI program's only concern is maximizing short term profits by inflating securities and equities, will eat the Earth if we allow it to continue – digesting and purging humans which have been commodified like everything else.

This total corporatization is at the root of both existential threats to humanity – nuclear war and climate change. The risk of nuclear war (primarily from some mistake or miscalculation) results from the military-industrial complex's imperial program of globalization to further multinational corporate profits and control, and climate change is a cancer driven by corporate resource exploitation that will surely kill humanity if we don't cut out the corporate tumors and stop smoking that oil.

I'm beginning to think that the only way to save humanity, to save the planet, will be a "Butlerian Jihad" to rid us of the existential threat that corporations represent. I wonder how many people will have to be consumed by this corporate monster before we rise up to kill it. There will be a cost to eliminating corporations, to ending the limited liability of the owners, but that cost will be well worth the price of saving humanity, civilization, and our ecosystem. "There is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by corporations. The power of all corporations ought to be limited in this respect. The growing wealth acquired by them never fails to be a source of abuses." James Madison

Yves Smith Post author , December 5, 2017 at 2:23 pm

Argument by assertion doesn't work here. There is no evidence whatsoever that the ECB has influence over German leaders. More generally, German politics are dominated by industrial capital, particularly its automakers, not financial capital. And in fact the Bundesbank has disproportionate influence over the ECB. And Germany has repeatedly checked measures that would provide more support to the banking system and lead to more Eurozone integration to preserve its advantaged position.

In addition, the EU is perfectly willing to take on global corporations, contrary to your claims. Did you miss the massive anti-trust fine it imposed on Microsoft, and the fines it has imposed on Google? The EU competition ruling on Google will force Google to change how it does business in a fundamental manner, and the fines (up to 10% of global revenues for a violation in a single line of business) are high enough to bring Google to heel. The EU also is requiring Apple to pay a ginormous tax bill for its special tax avoidance scheme in Ireland.

If you are going to comment on European politics, you need to know the terrain. You don't, and worse you say things that mislead readers.

John Zelnicker , December 5, 2017 at 3:13 pm

Jeebus! I had no idea that Germany had extended it's claws so far into the affairs of other countries as to be integrating their army units.

I suppose it's a much better strategy than attacking those armies and risking people getting killed. :-/

But, seriously, Germany has moved far beyond it's mercantilist advantages and subjugation of Greece and other periphery nations. It has become beyond obvious to me that they learned from their experience in WWII and decided that economic hegemony was the way to go to achieve de facto political hegemony. I think the Fourth Reich is fitting.

Eustache De Saint Pierre , December 5, 2017 at 3:29 pm

Thank you for a finished painting, of which I had in comparison, only a sketch.

David Swan , December 5, 2017 at 6:13 pm

Thank you for having the courage to put those two words together so chillingly: "Fourth Reich". You are not an alarmist to do so – you are right on the money. This has indeed been a deliberate decades-long campaign to install German hegemony (no "accident"), and the project is well along its way.

From here we can soberly project a future in which Europe *does* finally institute a fiscal compact – wholly on Germany's terms. Is it too outrageous to suggest that there will one day be a new Holy Roman Emperor to wear the crown of Charlemagne? And would it be too forward to make guesses as to the nationality of said emperor?

History is not over. Not by a long shot.

Larry , December 5, 2017 at 10:37 pm

Then we see power blocks aligning, the US (and it's proxies), the EU under Germany, Russia, and China. Clearly we are sitting on a powder keg that is the disintegrating neo-liberal world orde. What will serve as the spark that lights the fuse? Trump and North Korea? War for fun and profit in the Middle East?

[Dec 03, 2017] West has over-reached and can barely handle its own problems

The problem is that neoliberal ideology entered the state of the crisis in 2008 much like Bolshevik ideology entered the crisis after WWII. The USSR managed to survive for another 50 years after that.
Notable quotes:
"... Multipolar is just that – leave exercise of power and responsibility as close to the local situation as possible. Brussels telling Poland who should be a TV presenter, or Washington deciding what people in rural Hungary should read is idiotic. What's the point of all this busy-body behaviour? It is always justified by some slogans about preventing 'human rights violations'. Right. We have seen the results – a lot more people have died and suffered because of 'humanitarian' interventions than from anything else in the last 20+ years. ..."
"... I do find the current rapprochement between Russia and the major Moslem states amusing. It goes beyond Turkey and Iran, Moscow is working all of them, Egypt, Sudan, I suspect it is a clever attempt to beat US at its own game – US has spent about four decades arming and unleashing any Islamic force it could find against Russians (and Slavs in general), using methods that were beyond brutal and hypocrisy that eventually backfired. Maybe turning it around is a good strategy. It is inconsistent, but when you fight extreme stupidity, often the only thing that works is to use more stupidity ..."
"... Orwell's vision is but one of the possibilities. Another is Armageddon. Yet another is a "(Failed) West and a multipolar Rest". The latter is what I think will actually happen in the near and medium term. Things being what they are, it may even be the best we can hope for. ..."
"... I don't see any other power than the West (=US) aspiring to 'manage the world'. Maybe some ISIS fanatics have the same dream, but they are not in a position to achieve it. West has 'managed' it very poorly: mindless interventions, wars, migrants, hypocrisy, threats and blackmail. ..."
"... The other 'powers' have very modest, regional aspirations. Russia or China really don't care that much who wins the elections in Portugal, or what regional papers write in Hungary – US seems to be obsessed with it. And the only justification that Western defenders offer when pressed is that 'there would be a vacuum' and 'Russians would move in'. This is obvious nonsense and only elderly paranoid Cold Warrior types believe it ..."
"... Europeans have been invited to join the Eurasian Project, to create a continental market from "Lisbon to Vladivostok". Latent dreams of Hegemony hold at least some of their elites back. ..."
"... The West rode an ahistorical rogue wave of development to a point just short of Global Hegemony. That wave broke, and is now rolling back out into the world leaving the West just short of its civilizational resource requirements. No way to get back on a broken wave. In any case, China now holds the $$$ hammer, and Russia holds the military hammer, and they've now got the surfboard. Both of them, led by historically aware elites, know that Hegemony doesn't work, so will focus on keeping their neck of the woods as stable & prosperous as possible while hell blazes elsewhere. ..."
Dec 03, 2017 | www.unz.com

Beckow , December 2, 2017 at 4:19 am GMT

@peterAUS

"The same "hegemon with allies/vassals" as it is now, only in that case divided in three"

Why? There is absolutely nothing about 'multipolar' that dictates three, or four 'hegemons', or even lists who would the 'multis' be. The idea is simply that most people, most of the time are better off left alone.

Is that so hard to understand? Why should people in Washington (or Moscow, Beijing, Brussels, ) be intimately involved with how others live their lives, with their fights and alliances? Knowledge always dissipates with distance, and most of the 'masters of the universe' are not that smart to start with.

Multipolar is just that – leave exercise of power and responsibility as close to the local situation as possible. Brussels telling Poland who should be a TV presenter, or Washington deciding what people in rural Hungary should read is idiotic. What's the point of all this busy-body behaviour? It is always justified by some slogans about preventing 'human rights violations'. Right. We have seen the results – a lot more people have died and suffered because of 'humanitarian' interventions than from anything else in the last 20+ years.

I do find the current rapprochement between Russia and the major Moslem states amusing. It goes beyond Turkey and Iran, Moscow is working all of them, Egypt, Sudan, I suspect it is a clever attempt to beat US at its own game – US has spent about four decades arming and unleashing any Islamic force it could find against Russians (and Slavs in general), using methods that were beyond brutal and hypocrisy that eventually backfired. Maybe turning it around is a good strategy. It is inconsistent, but when you fight extreme stupidity, often the only thing that works is to use more stupidity

Erebus , December 2, 2017 at 8:48 am GMT
@Beckow

"The same "hegemon with allies/vassals" as it is now, only in that case divided in three"

Why? There is absolutely nothing about 'multipolar' that dictates three, or four 'hegemons', or even lists who would the 'multis' be. The idea is simply that most people, most of the time are better off left alone.

Peter's is the apocalyptic view made famous by Orwell. He may be right, it may all unravel and Oceania, Eurasia & Eastasia run a classic 3-power calculus of shifting alliances in a struggle for control of the "hinterlands". Not at all impossible, but certainly not what the proponents of the multipolar world want.

The idea is much more than the notion that most people want to "be left alone". The Multipolar world as it is actually being constructed by its proponents, from its monetary structures to its security, commercial and trade regimes, is precisely the attempt to prevent that Orwellian development in the face of Western decline. Their foundational tenet is that Globalization as a world-historical trend is here to stay (for at least the next few generations), and the "compartmentalization" of the world into alliances and hegemonies as historically occurred is no longer a viable option. The 3 Orwellian powers are all nuclear now, and the #1 priority is to mitigate the risk of war between them. Best to do that by dissolving them into a matrix of commercial and developmental programs that they'd be loathe to destroy.

EG: Though Russia considers both China and Iran "strategic partners", there is no formal alliance with either of them, and there won't be. Alliances cannot be "forbidden", but the countries that have signed onto the multipolar world program view alliances with suspicion.

As a introduction to the coming multipolar world, Kupchan's Western-centric analysis is a good place to start: https://www.amazon.com/No-Ones-World-Council-Relations/dp/0199325227
"Kupchan provides a detailed strategy for striking a bargain between the West and the rising rest by fashioning a new consensus on issues of legitimacy, sovereignty, and governance."

Assuming he even knows the least thing about what the multipolar world is trying to do, Peter's view is that their attempt will fail. Maybe so.
To "fashion a new consensus on issues of legitimacy, sovereignty, and governance" requires that the professional criminal class that grabbed the remains of Western power a decade and a half ago has been forced to let go. If not, the world indeed faces an abyss.

Orwell's vision is but one of the possibilities. Another is Armageddon. Yet another is a "(Failed) West and a multipolar Rest". The latter is what I think will actually happen in the near and medium term. Things being what they are, it may even be the best we can hope for.

Beckow , December 2, 2017 at 9:48 pm GMT
@Erebus

"(Failed) West and a multipolar Rest". The latter is what I think will actually happen in the near and medium term.

I think we already have it, except I don't think West has failed yet. Or it has in a way, the process of failing goes on, but the consequences have not been felt much in the West yet.

I don't see any other power than the West (=US) aspiring to 'manage the world'. Maybe some ISIS fanatics have the same dream, but they are not in a position to achieve it. West has 'managed' it very poorly: mindless interventions, wars, migrants, hypocrisy, threats and blackmail.

The other 'powers' have very modest, regional aspirations. Russia or China really don't care that much who wins the elections in Portugal, or what regional papers write in Hungary – US seems to be obsessed with it. And the only justification that Western defenders offer when pressed is that 'there would be a vacuum' and 'Russians would move in'. This is obvious nonsense and only elderly paranoid Cold Warrior types believe it (peterAUS?). What is really going on is that West has over-reached and can barely handle its own problems. So they scream 'Russians are coming' to distract, or to prolong the agony. Russians are not coming, they don't care in 2017, they can barely control their huge territory today. More you see squealing and lying in the Western media, more it shows that they have not much else to work with.

Erebus , Next New Comment December 3, 2017 at 7:18 am GMT
@Beckow

"(Failed) West and a multipolar Rest". The latter is what I think will actually happen in the near and medium term.

I think we already have it, except I don't think West has failed yet. Or it has in a way, the process of failing goes on, but the consequences have not been felt much in the West yet.

Well, exogenous events aside, "decline and fall" is necessarily a process. A series of steps and plateaus is typical. A major step occurred in 2007/8, when the money failed. The bankers, in a frankly heroic display of coordination, propped up the $$$ and the West got a decade long plateau. Things are going wobbly again, financially speaking and I suspect the next step function to occur rather soon. Stays of execution have been exhausted, so it'll be interesting how the West handles it, and how the RoW reacts.

Europeans have been invited to join the Eurasian Project, to create a continental market from "Lisbon to Vladivostok". Latent dreams of Hegemony hold at least some of their elites back. The USA has also been invited, but its dreams remain much more virile. That is, until Trump who's backers seem to read the writing on the wall better than the Straussians.

I don't see any other power than the West (=US) aspiring to 'manage the world' .
The other 'powers' have very modest, regional aspirations US seems to be obsessed with it.

The fact is that the rise of the West to global dominance is due to a historical anomaly. It was fuelled (literally) by the discovery and harnessing of the chemical energy embedded in coal (late 18thC) and then oil (late 19thC). The first doubled the population, and as first movers gave the West a running start. The second turned on the afterburners, and population grew >3.5 fold. Again the West led the way. To fuel that ahistorical step-function growth curve, control of resources on a global scale became its civilizational imperative.

That growth curve has plateaued, and the rest of the world has caught/is catching up developmentally. The resources the West needs aren't going to be available to it in the way they were 100 years ago. Them days is over, for everybody really, but especially for the West because it has depleted its own hi-ROI resources, and both of its means of control (IMF$ System & U$M) of what's left of everybody else's are failing simultaneously. So its plateau will not be flat, or not flat for long between increasingly violent steps.

The West rode an ahistorical rogue wave of development to a point just short of Global Hegemony. That wave broke, and is now rolling back out into the world leaving the West just short of its civilizational resource requirements. No way to get back on a broken wave. In any case, China now holds the $$$ hammer, and Russia holds the military hammer, and they've now got the surfboard. Both of them, led by historically aware elites, know that Hegemony doesn't work, so will focus on keeping their neck of the woods as stable & prosperous as possible while hell blazes elsewhere.

What is really going on is that West has over-reached and can barely handle its own problems.

IMHO, what's really going on is that the West's problems are simply symptomatic of what "decline and fall", if not "collapse" looks like from within a failing system. A long time ago I read the diary of a Roman nobleman who in the most matter-of-fact style wrote of exactly the same things Westerners complain about today. How this, that or the other thing no longer works the way it did. For all of his 60+ years, every day was infinitesimally worse than the day before, until finally he decides to pack up his Roman households and move to his estates in Spain. It took 170(iirc) more years of continuous decline until Alaric finally arrived at the Gates of Rome. If wholly due to internal causes, collapse is almost always a slow motion train wreck.

'there would be a vacuum' and 'Russians would move in'. This is obvious nonsense and only elderly paranoid Cold Warrior types believe it (peterAUS?).

Actually, it's just stupid. Cold Warrior or not, the view betrays a deep and abiding ignorance of both history and a large part of what drove the West's hegemonic successes. That both militate against anyone else ever even trying such a thing on a global scale can't be seen if you look at historical developments and the rest of the world through 10′ of 1″ pipe.

The idea that Russia wants/needs the Baltics is even more laughable than that it wants/needs the Ukraine or Poland. None of these tarbabies have anything to offer but trouble. Noisome flies on an elephant, it is only if they make themselves more troublesome as outsiders than they would be as vassals would Russia move.

Beckow , Next New Comment December 3, 2017 at 10:13 pm GMT
@Erebus

"Things are going wobbly again"

Why do you think so? I think we are about to enter an occasional plateau and things will be stable or even improve for a while. The Rome analogies are instructive, but they only take you so far. E.g. Rome was collapsing for about two centuries, on and off. Rome was also infinitely more brutal than today's West and the 'barbarians' were real barbarians, not aspiring migrants led by well-paid NGO comprador class. Why do you think it is getting wobbly?

[Dec 03, 2017] How Complex Systems Fail

Notable quotes:
"... complex systems are prone to catastrophic failure, how that possibility is held at bay through a combination of redundancies and ongoing vigilance, but how, due to the impractical cost of keeping all possible points of failure fully (and even identifying them all) protected, complex systems "always run in degraded mode". Think of the human body. No one is in perfect health. At a minimum, people are growing cancers all the time, virtually all of which recede for reasons not well understood. ..."
"... every major investment leads to further investments (no matter how dumb or large) to protect the value of past investments. ..."
"... Tainter argues that the energy cost (defined broadly) of maintaining the dysfunction eventually overwhelms the ability of the system to generate surpluses to meet the rising needs of maintenance. ..."
"... a combination of shrinking revenue base and the subordination of all systemic needs to the needs of individual emperors to stay in power and therefore stay alive. ..."
"... In each case, some elite individual or grouping sees throwing good money after bad as necessary to keeping their power and their positions. Our current sclerotic system seems to fit this description nicely. ..."
"... One point that Tainter made is that collapse is not all bad. He presents evidence that the average well being of people in Italy was probably higher in the sixth century than in the fifth century as the Western Roman Empire died. Somewhat like death being necessary for biological evolution collapse may be the only solution to the problem of excessive complexity. ..."
"... Good-For-Me-Who-Effing-Cares-If-It's-Bad-For-You-And-Everyone-Else ..."
"... The Iron Law of Institutions (agents act in ways that benefit themselves in the context of the institution [system], regardless of the effect those actions have on the larger system) would seem to mitigate against any attempts to correct our many, quickly failing complex social and technological systems. ..."
"... It is that cumulative concentration of wealth and power over time which is ultimately destabilizing, producing accepted social norms and customs that lead to fragility in the face of both expected and unexpected shocks. This fragility comes from all sorts of specific consequences of that inequality, from secrecy to group think to brain drain to two-tiered justice to ignoring incompetence and negligence to protecting incumbents necessary to maintain such an unnatural order. ..."
"... The problem arises with any societal order over time in that corrosive elements in the form of corruptive behavior (not principle based) by decision makers are institutionalized. I may not like Trump as a person but the fact that he seems to unravel and shake the present arrangement and serves as an indicator that the people begin to realize what game is being played, makes me like him in that specific function. ..."
"... However, the failure was made immeasurably worse due to the fact that Exxon had failed to supply that pump-station with a safety manual, so when the alarms started going off the guy in the station had to call around to a bunch of people to figure out what was going on. So while it's possible that the failure would have occurred no matter what, the failure of the management to implement even the most basic of safety procedures made the failure much worse than it otherwise would have been. ..."
"... . . .but it is also true that the incentives of the capitalist system ensure that there will be more and worse accidents than necessary , as the agents involved in maintaining the system pursue their own personal interests which often conflict with the interests of system stability and safety. ..."
"... In Claus Jensen's fascinating account of the Challenger disaster, NO DOWNLINK, he describes how the managers overrode the engineers' warnings not to fly under existing weather conditions. We all know the result. ..."
"... Globalization factors in maximizing the impact of Murphy's Law: ..."
"... Where one can only say: "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do" ..."
"... Subsumption architecture ..."
"... The inverted pendulum ..."
"... Emergent behavior of swarms ..."
"... negative selection ..."
Aug 21, 2015 | naked capitalism

Lambert found a short article by Richard Cook that I've embedded at the end of the post. I strongly urge you to read it in full. It discusses how complex systems are prone to catastrophic failure, how that possibility is held at bay through a combination of redundancies and ongoing vigilance, but how, due to the impractical cost of keeping all possible points of failure fully (and even identifying them all) protected, complex systems "always run in degraded mode". Think of the human body. No one is in perfect health. At a minimum, people are growing cancers all the time, virtually all of which recede for reasons not well understood.

The article contends that failures therefore are not the result of single causes. As Clive points out:

This is really a profound observation – things rarely fail in an out-the-blue, unimaginable, catastrophic way. Very often just such as in the MIT article the fault or faults in the system are tolerated. But if they get incrementally worse, then the ad-hoc fixes become the risk (i.e. the real risk isn't the original fault condition, but the application of the fixes). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windscale_fire#Wigner_energy documents how a problem of core instability was a snag, but the disaster was caused by what was done to try to fix it. The plant operators kept applying the fix in ever more extreme does until the bloody thing blew up.

But I wonder about the validity of one of the hidden assumptions of this article. There is a lack of agency in terms of who is responsible for the care and feeding of complex systems (the article eventually identifies "practitioners" but even then, that's comfortably vague). The assumption is that the parties who have influence and responsibility want to preserve the system, and have incentives to do at least an adequate job of that.

There are reasons to doubt that now. Economics has promoted ways of looking at commercial entities that encourage "practitioners" to compromise on safety measures. Mainstream economics has as a core belief that economies have a propensity to equilibrium, and that equilibrium is at full employment. That assumption has served as a wide-spread justification for encouraging businesses and governments to curtail or end pro-stability measures like regulation as unnecessary costs.

To put it more simply, the drift of both economic and business thinking has been to optimize activity for efficiency. But highly efficient systems are fragile. Formula One cars are optimized for speed and can only run one race.

Highly efficient systems also are more likely to suffer from what Richard Bookstaber called "tight coupling." A tightly coupled system in one in which events occur in a sequence that cannot be interrupted. A way to re-characterize a tightly coupled system is a complex system that has been in part re-optimized for efficiency, maybe by accident, maybe at a local level. That strips out some of the redundancies that serve as safeties to prevent positive feedback loops from having things spin out of control.

To use Bookstaber's nomenclature, as opposed to this paper's, in a tightly coupled system, measures to reduce risk directly make things worse. You need to reduce the tight coupling first.

A second way that the economic thinking has arguably increased the propensity of complex systems of all sorts to fail is by encouraging people to see themselves as atomized agents operating in markets. And that's not just an ideology; it's reflected in low attachment to institutions of all sorts, ranging from local communities to employers (yes, employers may insist on all sorts of extreme shows of fealty, but they are ready to throw anyone in the dust bin at a moment's notice). The reality of weak institutional attachments and the societal inculcation of selfish viewpoints means that more and more people regard complex systems as vehicles for personal advancement. And if they see those relationships as short-term or unstable, they don't have much reason to invest in helping to preserving the soundness of that entity. Hence the attitude called "IBY/YBG" ("I'll Be Gone, You'll Be Gone") appears to be becoming more widespread.

I've left comments open because I'd very much enjoy getting reader reactions to this article. Thanks!

James Levy August 21, 2015 at 6:35 am

So many ideas . Mike Davis argues that in the case of Los Angeles, the key to understanding the city's dysfunction is in the idea of sunk capital – every major investment leads to further investments (no matter how dumb or large) to protect the value of past investments.

Tainter argues that the energy cost (defined broadly) of maintaining the dysfunction eventually overwhelms the ability of the system to generate surpluses to meet the rising needs of maintenance.

Goldsworthy has argued powerfully and persuasively that the Roman Empire in the West was done in by a combination of shrinking revenue base and the subordination of all systemic needs to the needs of individual emperors to stay in power and therefore stay alive. Their answer was endlessly subdividing power and authority below them and using massive bribes to the bureaucrats and the military to try to keep them loyal.

In each case, some elite individual or grouping sees throwing good money after bad as necessary to keeping their power and their positions. Our current sclerotic system seems to fit this description nicely.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 8:15 am

I immediately thought of Tainter's "The Complex of Complex Cultures" when I starting reading this. One point that Tainter made is that collapse is not all bad. He presents evidence that the average well being of people in Italy was probably higher in the sixth century than in the fifth century as the Western Roman Empire died. Somewhat like death being necessary for biological evolution collapse may be the only solution to the problem of excessive complexity.

xxx August 22, 2015 at 4:39 am

Tainter insists culture has nothing to do with collapse, and therefore refuses to consider it, but he then acknowledges that the elites in some societies were able to pull them out of a collapse trajectory. And from the inside, it sure as hell looks like culture, as in a big decay in what is considered to be acceptable conduct by our leaders, and what interests they should be serving (historically, at least the appearance of the greater good, now unabashedly their own ends) sure looks to be playing a big, and arguably the defining role, in the rapid rise of open corruption and related social and political dysfunction.

Praedor August 21, 2015 at 9:19 am

That also sounds like the EU and even Greece's extreme actions to stay in the EU.

jgordon August 21, 2015 at 7:44 am

Then I'll add my two cents: you've left out that when systems scale linearly, the amount of complexity, and points for failure, and therefore instability, that they contain scale exponentially–that is according to the analysis of James Rickards, and supported by the work of people like Joseph Tainter and Jared Diamond.

Ever complex problem that arises in a complex system is fixed with an even more complex "solution" which requires ever more energy to maintain, and eventually the inevitably growing complexity of the system causes the complex system to collapse in on itself. This process requires no malignant agency by humans, only time.

nowhere August 21, 2015 at 12:10 pm

Sounds a lot like JMG and catabolic collapse.

jgordon August 21, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Well, he got his stuff from somewhere too.

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 1:26 pm

There are no linear systems. They are all non-linear because the include a random, non-linear element – people.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Long before there were people the Earth's eco-system was highly complex and highly unstable.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:37 pm

The presumption that fixes increase complexity may be incorrect.

Fixes should include awareness of complexity.

That was the beauty of Freedom Club by Kaczinsky, T.

JTMcPhee August 21, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Maybe call the larger entity "meta-stable?" Astro and geo inputs seem to have been big perturbers. Lots of genera were around a very long time before naked apes set off on their romp. But then folks, even these hot, increasingly dry days, brag on their ability to anticipate, and profit from, and even cause, with enough leverage, de- stability. Good thing the macrocosms of our frail, violent, kindly, destructive bodies are blessed with the mechanisms of homeostasis.

Too bad our "higher" functions are not similarly gifted But that's what we get to chat about, here and in similar meta-spaces

MikeW August 21, 2015 at 7:52 am

Agree, positive density of ideas, thoughts and implications.

I wonder if the reason that humans don't appreciate the failure of complex systems is that (a) complex systems are constantly trying to correct, or cure as in your cancer example, themselves all the time until they can't at which point they collapse, (b) that things, like cancer leading to death, are not commonly viewed as a complex system failure when in fact that is what it is. Thus, while on a certain scale we do experience complex system failure on one level on a daily basis because we don't interpret it as such, and given that we are hardwired for pattern recognition, we don't address complex systems in the right ways.

This, to my mind, has to be extended to the environment and the likely disaster we are currently trying to instigate. While the system is collapsing at one level, massive species extinctions, while we have experienced record temperatures, while the experts keep warning us, etc., most people to date have experienced climate change as an inconvenience - not the early stages of systemwide failure.

Civilization collapses have been regular, albeit spaced out, occurrences. We seem to think we are immune to them happening again. Yet, it isn't hard to list the near catastrophic system failures that have occurred or are currently occurring (famines, financial markets, genocides, etc.).

And, in most systems that relate to humans with an emphasis on short term gain how does one address system failures?

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 9:21 am

Good-For-Me-Who-Effing-Cares-If-It's-Bad-For-You-And-Everyone-Else

would be a GREAT category heading though it's perhaps a little close to "Imperial Collapse"

Whine Country August 21, 2015 at 9:52 am

To paraphrase President Bill Clinton, who I would argue was one of the major inputs that caused the catastrophic failure of our banking system (through the repeal of Glass-Steagall), it all depends on what the definition of WE is.

jrs August 21, 2015 at 10:12 pm

And all that just a 21st century version of "apres moi le deluge", which sounds very likely to be the case.

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 3:55 pm

JT – just go to the Archdruid site. They link it regularly, I suppose for this purpose.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 8:42 am

Civilizational collapse is extremely common in history when one takes a long term view. I'm not sure though that I would describe it as having that much "regularity" and while internal factors are no doubt often important external factors like the Mongol Onslaught are also important. It's usually very hard to know exactly what happened since historical documentation tends to disappear in periods of collapse. In the case of Mycenae the archaeological evidence indicates a near total population decline of 99% in less than a hundred years together with an enormous cultural decline but we don't know what caused it.

As for long term considerations the further one tries to project into the future the more uncertain such projections become so that long term planning far into the future is not likely to be evolutionarily stable. Because much more information is available about present conditions than future conditions organisms are probably selected much more to optimize for the short term rather than for the largely unpredicatble long term.

Gio Bruno August 21, 2015 at 1:51 pm

it's not in question. Evolution is about responding to the immediate environment. Producing survivable offspring (which requires finding a niche). If the environment changes (Climate?) faster than the production of survivable offspring then extinction (for that specie) ensues.

Now, Homo sapien is supposedly "different" in some respects, but I don't think so.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 2:14 pm

I agree. There's nothing uniquely special about our species. Of course species can often respond to gradual change by migration. The really dangerous things are global catastrophes such as the asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous or whatever happened at the Permian-Triassic boundary (gamma ray burst maybe?).

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:46 pm

Interesting that you sit there and type on a world-spanning network batting around ideas from five thousand years ago, or yesterday, and then use your fingers to type that the human species isn't special.

Do you really think humans are unable to think about the future, like a bear hibernating, or perhaps the human mind, and its offspring, human culture and history, can't see ahead?

Why is "Learn the past, or repeat it!" such a popular saying, then?

diptherio August 21, 2015 at 9:24 am

The Iron Law of Institutions (agents act in ways that benefit themselves in the context of the institution [system], regardless of the effect those actions have on the larger system) would seem to mitigate against any attempts to correct our many, quickly failing complex social and technological systems.

jgordon August 21, 2015 at 10:40 am

This would tend to imply that attempts to organize large scale social structures is temporary at best, and largely futile. I agree. The real key is to embrace and ride the wave as it crests and callapses so its possible to manage the fall–not to try to stand against so you get knocked down and drowned. Focus your efforts on something useful instead of wasting them on a hopeless, and worthless, cause.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Civilization is obviously highly unstabe. However it should remembered that even Neolithic cultures are almost all less than 10,000 years old. So there has been little time for evolutionary adaptations to living in complex cultures (although there is evidence that the last 10,000 years has seen very rapid genetic changes in human populations). If civilization can continue indefinitely which of course is not very clear then it would be expected that evolutionary selection would produce humans much better adapted to living in complex cultures so they might become more stable in the distant future. At present mean time to collapse is probably a few hundred years.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:50 pm

But perhaps you're not contemplating that too much individual freedom can destabilize society. Is that a part of your vast psychohistorical equation?

washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:34 am

Well said, but something I find intriguing is that the author isn't talking so much about civilizational collapse. The focus is more on various subsystems of civilization (transportation, energy, healthcare, etc.).

These individual components are not inherently particularly dangerous (at a systemic/civilizational level). They have been made that way by purposeful public policy choices, from allowing enormous compensation packages in healthcare to dismantling our passenger rail system to subsidizing fossil fuel energy over wind and solar to creating tax incentives that distort community development. These things are not done for efficiency. They are done to promote inequality, to allow connected insiders and technocratic gatekeepers to expropriate the productive wealth of society. Complexity isn't a byproduct; it is the mechanism of the looting. If MDs in hospital management made similar wages as home health aides, then how would they get rich off the labor of others? And if they couldn't get rich, what would be the point of managing the hospital in the first place? They're not actually trying to provide quality, affordable healthcare to all Americans.

It is that cumulative concentration of wealth and power over time which is ultimately destabilizing, producing accepted social norms and customs that lead to fragility in the face of both expected and unexpected shocks. This fragility comes from all sorts of specific consequences of that inequality, from secrecy to group think to brain drain to two-tiered justice to ignoring incompetence and negligence to protecting incumbents necessary to maintain such an unnatural order.

Linus Huber August 21, 2015 at 7:05 pm

I tend to agree with your point of view.

The problem arises with any societal order over time in that corrosive elements in the form of corruptive behavior (not principle based) by decision makers are institutionalized. I may not like Trump as a person but the fact that he seems to unravel and shake the present arrangement and serves as an indicator that the people begin to realize what game is being played, makes me like him in that specific function. There may be some truth in Thomas Jefferson's quote: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." Those presently benefiting greatly from the present arrangement are fighting with all means to retain their position, whether successfully or not, we will see.

animalogic August 22, 2015 at 2:18 am

Well said, washunate. I think an argument could be run that outside economic areas, the has been a drive to de-complexity.
Non economic institutions, bodies which exist for non market/profit reasons are or have been either hollowed out, or co-opted to market purposes. Charities as vast engines of self enrichment for a chain of insiders. Community groups, defunded, or shriveled to an appendix by "market forces". The list goes on and on.
Reducing the "not-market" to the status of sliced-white-bread makes us all the more dependant on the machinated complexities of "the market" .god help us .

Jay Jay August 21, 2015 at 8:00 am

Joseph Tainter's thesis, set out in "The Collapse of Complex Societies" is simple: as a civilization ages its use of energy becomes less efficient and more costly, until the Law of Diminishing Returns kicks in, generates its own momentum and the system grinds to a halt. Perhaps this article describes a late stage of that process. However, it is worth noting that, for the societies Tainter studied, the process was ineluctable. Not so for our society: we have the ability -- and the opportunity -- to switch energy sources.

Moneta August 21, 2015 at 5:48 pm

In my grandmother's youth, they did not burn wood for nothing. Splitting wood was hard work that required calories.

Today, we heat up our patios at night with gas heaters The amount of economic activity based on burning energy not related to survival is astounding.

A huge percentage of our GDP is based on economies of scale and economic efficiencies but are completely disconnected from environmental efficiencies.

This total loss is control between nature and our lifestyles will be our waterloo .

TG August 21, 2015 at 8:20 am

An interesting article as usual, but here is another take.

Indeed, sometimes complex systems can collapse under the weight of their own complexity (Think: credit default swaps). But sometimes there is a single simple thing that is crushing the system, and the complexity is a desperate attempt to patch things up that is eventually destroyed by brute force.

Consider a forced population explosion: the people are multiplied exponentially. This reduces per capita physical resources, tends to reduce per-capita capital, and limits the amount of time available to adapt: a rapidly growing population puts an economy on a treadmill that gets faster and faster and steeper and steeper until it takes superhuman effort just to maintain the status quo. There is a reason why, for societies without an open frontier, essentially no nation has ever become prosperous with out first moderating the fertility rate.

However, you can adapt. New technologies can be developed. New regulations written to coordinate an ever more complex system. Instead of just pumping water from a reservoir, you need networks of desalinization plants – with their own vast networks of power plants and maintenance supply chains – and recycling plans, and monitors and laws governing water use, and more efficient appliances, etc.etc.

As an extreme, consider how much effort and complexity it takes to keep a single person alive in the space station.

That's why in California cars need to be emissions tested, but in Alabama they don't – and the air is cleaner in Alabama. More people needs more controls and more exotic technology and more rules.

Eventually the whole thing starts to fall apart. But to blame complexity itself, is possibly missing the point.

Steve H. August 21, 2015 at 8:30 am

No system is ever 'the'.

Jim Haygood August 21, 2015 at 11:28 am

Two words, Steve: Soviet Union.

It's gone now. But we're rebuilding it, bigger and better.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:54 pm

If, of course, bigger is better.

Facts not in evidence.

Ulysses August 21, 2015 at 8:40 am

"But because system operations are never trouble free, human practitioner adaptations to changing conditions actually create safety from moment to moment. These adaptations often amount to just the selection of a well-rehearsed routine from a store of available responses; sometimes, however, the adaptations are novel combinations or de novo creations of new approaches."

This may just be a rationalization, on my part, for having devoted so much time to historical studies– but it seems to me that historians help civilizations prevent collapse, by preserving for them the largest possible "store of available responses."

aronj August 21, 2015 at 8:41 am

Yves,

Thanks for posting this very interesting piece! As you know, I am a fan Bookstaber's concept of tight coupling. Interestingly, Bookstaber (2007) does not reference Cook's significant work on complex systems.

Before reading this article, I considered the most preventable accidents involve a sequence of events uninterrupted by human intelligence. This needs to be modified by Cook's points 8, 9. 10 and 12.

In using the aircraft landing in the New York river as an example of interrupting a sequence of events, the inevitable accident occurred but no lives were lost. Thus the human intervention was made possible by the unknowable probability of coupling the cause with a possible alternative landing site. A number of aircraft accidents involve failed attempts to find a possible landing site, even though Cook's point #12 was in play.

Thanks for the post!!!!!

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 8:47 am

A possible issue with or a misunderstanding of #7. Catastrophic failure can be made up of small failures that tend to follow a critical path or multiple critical paths. While a single point of origin for catastrophic failure may rarely if ever occur in a complex system, it is possible and likely in such a system to have collections of small failures that occur or tend to occur in specific sequences of order. Population explosion (as TG points out) would be a good example of a failure in a complex social system that is part of a critical path to catastrophic failure.

Such sequences, characterized by orders of precedence, are more likely in tightly coupled systems (which as Yves points out can be any system pushed to the max). The point is, they can be identified and isolated at least in situations where a complex system is not being misused or pushed to it's limits or created due to human corruption where such sequences of likelihood may be viewed or baked into the system (such as by propaganda->ideology) as features and not bugs.

Spring Texan August 21, 2015 at 8:53 am

I agree completely that maximum efficiency comes with horrible costs. When hospitals are staffed so that people are normally busy every minute, patients routinely suffer more as often no one has time to treat them like a human being, and when things deviate from the routine, people have injuries and deaths. Same is true in other contexts.

washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:40 am

Agreed, but that's not caused by efficiency. That's caused by inequality. Healthcare has huge dispariaties in wages and working conditions. The point of keeping things tightly staffed is to allow big bucks for the top doctors and administrators.

susan the other August 21, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Yes. When one efficiency conflicts with and destroys another efficiency. Eq. Your mother juggled a job and a family and ran around in turbo mode but she dropped everything when her kids were in trouble. That is an example of an efficiency that can juggle contradictions and still not fail.

JTMcPhee August 21, 2015 at 11:38 am

Might this nurse observe that in hospitals, there isn't and can't be a "routine" to deviate from, no matter how fondly "managers" wish to try to make it and how happy they may be to take advantage of the decent, empathic impulses of many nurses and/or the need to work to eat of those that are just doing a job. Hence the kindly (sic) practice of "calling nurses off" or sending them home if "the census is down," which always runs aground against a sudden influx of billable bodies or medical crises that the residual staff is expected to just somehow cope with caring for or at least processing, until the idiot frictions in the staffing machinery add a few more person-hours of labor to the mix. The larger the institution, the greater the magnitude and impact (pain, and dead or sicker patients and staff too) of the "excursions from the norm."

It's all about the ruling decisions on what are deemed (as valued by where the money goes) appropriate outcomes of the micro-political economy In the absence of an organizing principle that values decency and stability and sustainability rather than upward wealth transfer.

Will August 21, 2015 at 8:54 am

I'll join the choir recommending Tainter as a critical source for anybody interested in this stuff.

IBG/YBG is a new concept for me, with at least one famous antecedent. "Après moi, le déluge."

diptherio August 21, 2015 at 9:17 am

The author presents the best-case scenario for complex systems: one in which the practitioners involved are actually concerned with maintaining system integrity. However, as Yves points out, that is far from being case in many of our most complex systems.

For instance, the Silvertip pipeline spill near Billings, MT a few years ago may indeed have been a case of multiple causes leading to unforeseen/unforeseeable failure of an oil pipeline as it crossed the Yellowstone river. However, the failure was made immeasurably worse due to the fact that Exxon had failed to supply that pump-station with a safety manual, so when the alarms started going off the guy in the station had to call around to a bunch of people to figure out what was going on. So while it's possible that the failure would have occurred no matter what, the failure of the management to implement even the most basic of safety procedures made the failure much worse than it otherwise would have been.

And this is a point that the oil company apologists are all too keen to obscure. The argument gets trotted out with some regularity that because these oil/gas transmission systems are so complex, some accidents and mishaps are bound to occur. This is true–but it is also true that the incentives of the capitalist system ensure that there will be more and worse accidents than necessary, as the agents involved in maintaining the system pursue their own personal interests which often conflict with the interests of system stability and safety.

Complex systems have their own built-in instabilities, as the author points out; but we've added a system of un-accountability and irresponsibility on top of our complex systems which ensures that failures will occur more often and with greater fall-out than the best-case scenario imagined by the author.

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 9:42 am

As Yves pointed out, there is a lack of agency in the article. A corrupt society will tend to generate corrupt systems just as it tends to generate corrupt technology and corrupt ideology. For instance, we get lots of little cars driving themselves about, profitably to the ideology of consumption, but also with an invisible thumb of control, rather than a useful system of public transportation. We get "abstenence only" population explosion because "groath" rather than any rational assessment of obvious future catastrophe.

washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:06 am

Right on. The primary issue of our time is a failure of management. Complexity is an excuse more often than an explanatory variable.

abynormal August 21, 2015 at 3:28 pm

abynormal
August 21, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Am I the only hearing 9″Nails, March of the Pigs

Aug. 21, 2015 1:54 a.m. ET

A Carlyle Group LP hedge fund that anticipated a sudden currency-policy shift in China gained roughly $100 million in two days last week, a sign of how some bearish bets on the world's second-largest economy are starting to pay off.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/hedge-fund-gains-100-million-in-two-days-on-bearish-china-bet-1440136499?mod=e2tw

oink oink is the sound of system fail

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 3:40 pm

A very important principle:

All systems have a failure rate, including people. We don't get to live in a world where we don't need to lock our doors and banks don't need vaults. (If you find it, be sure to radio back.)

The article is about how we deal with that failure rate. Pointing out that there are failures misses the point.

cnchal August 21, 2015 at 5:05 pm

. . .but it is also true that the incentives of the capitalist system ensure that there will be more and worse accidents than necessary, as the agents involved in maintaining the system pursue their own personal interests which often conflict with the interests of system stability and safety.

How true. A Chinese city exploded. Talk about a black swan. I wonder what the next disaster will be?

hemeantwell August 21, 2015 at 9:32 am

After a skimmy read of the post and reading James' lead-off comment re emperors (Brooklin Bridge comment re misuse is somewhat resonant) it seems to me that a distinguishing feature of systems is not being addressed and therefore being treated as though it's irrelevant.

What about the mandate for a system to have an overarching, empowered regulatory agent, one that could presumably learn from the reflections contained in this post? In much of what is posted here at NC writers give due emphasis to the absence/failure of a range of regulatory functions relevant to this stage of capitalism. These run from SEC corruption to the uncontrolled movement of massive amount of questionably valuable value in off the books transactions between banks, hedge funds etc. This system intentionally has a deliberately weakened control/monitoring function, ideologically rationalized as freedom but practically justified as maximizing accumulation possibilities for the powerful. It is self-lobotomizing, a condition exacerbated by national economic territories (to some degree). I'm not going to now jump up with 3 cheers for socialism as capable of resolving problems posed by capitalism. But, to stay closer to the level of abstraction of the article, doesn't the distinction between distributed opacity + unregulated concentrations of power vs. transparency + some kind of central governing authority matter? Maybe my Enlightenment hubris is riding high after the morning coffee, but this is a kind of self-awareness that assumes its range is limited, even as it posits that limit. Hegel was all over this, which isn't to say he resolved the conundrum, but it's not even identified here.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:06 pm

Think of Trump as the pimple finally coming to a head: he's making the greed so obvious, and pissing off so many people that some useful regulation might occur.

Another thought about world social collapse: if such a thing is likely, (and I'm sure the PTB know if it is, judging from the reports from the Pentagon about how Global Warming being a national security concern) wouldn't it be a good idea to have a huge ability to overpower the rest of the world?

We might be the only nation that survives as a nation, and we might actually have an Empire of the World, previously unattainable. Maybe SkyNet is really USANet. It wouldn't require any real change in the national majority of creepy grabby people.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 9:43 am

Government bureaucrats and politicians pursue their own interests just as businessmen do. Pollution was much worst in the non-capitalist Soviet Union, East Germany and Eastern Europe than it was in the Capitalist West. Chernobyl happened under socialism not capitalism. The present system in China, although not exactly "socialism", certainly involves a massively powerful govenment but a glance at the current news shows that massive governmental power does not necessarily prevent accidents. The agency problem is not unique to or worse in capitalism than in other systems.

Holly August 21, 2015 at 9:51 am

I'd throw in the theory of cognitive dissonance as an integral part of the failure of complex systems. (Example Tarvis and Aronon's recent book: Mistakes Were Made (But Not by me))

We are more apt to justify bad decisions, with bizarre stories, than to accept our own errors (or mistakes of people important to us). It explains (but doesn't make it easier to accept) the complete disconnect between accepted facts and fanciful justifications people use to support their ideas/organization/behavior.

craazymann August 21, 2015 at 10:03 am

I think this one suffers "Metaphysical Foo Foo Syndrome" MFFS. That means use of words to reference realities that are inherently ill-defined and often unobservable leading to untestable theories and deeply personal approaches to epistemological reasoning.

just what is a 'complex system"? A system implies a boundary - there are things part of the system and things outside the system. That's a hard concept to identify - just where the system ends and something else begins. So when 'the system' breaks down, it's hard to tell with any degree of testable objectivity whether the breakdown resulted from "the system" or from something outside the system and the rest was just "an accident that could have happened to anybody'"

maybe the idea is; '"if something breaks down at the worst possible time and in a way that fkks everything up, then it must have been a complex system". But it could also have been a simple system that ran into bad luck. Consider your toilet. Maybe you put too much toilet paper in it, and it clogged. Then it overflowed and ran out into your hallway with your shit everywhere. Then you realized you had an expensive Chinese rug on the floor. oh no! That was bad. you were gonna put tthat rug away as soon as you had a chance to admire it unrolled. Why did you do that? Big fckk up. But it wasn't a complex system. It was just one of those things.

susan the other August 21, 2015 at 12:14 pm

thanks for that, I think

Gio Bruno August 21, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Actually, it was a system too complex for this individual. S(He) became convinced the plumbing would work as it had previously. But doo to poor maintenance, too much paper, or a stiff BM the "system" didn't work properly. There must have been opportunity to notice something anomalous, but appropriate oversight wasn't applied.

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 3:29 pm

You mean the BM was too tightly coupled?

craazyman August 21, 2015 at 4:22 pm

It coould happen to anybody after enough pizza and red wine

people weren't meant to be efficient. paper towels and duct tape can somettmes help

This ocurred to me: The entire 1960s music revolution would't have happened if anybody had to be efficient about hanging out and jamming. You really have to lay around and do nothing if you want to achieve great things. You need many opportunities to fail and learn before the genius flies. That's why tightly coupled systems are self-defeating. Because they wipe too many people out before they've had a chance to figure out the universe.

JustAnObserver August 21, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Excellent example of tight coupling: Toilet -> Floor -> Hallway -> $$$ Rug

Fix: Apply Break coupling procedure #1: Shut toilet door.
Then: Procedure #2 Jam inexpensive old towels in gap at the bottom.

As with all such measures this buys the most important thing of all – time. In this case to get the $$$Rug out of the way.

IIRC one of Bookstaber's points was that that, in the extreme, tight coupling allows problems to propagate through the system so fast and so widely that we have no chance to mitigate before they escalate to disaster.

washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:03 am

To put it more simply, the drift of both economic and business thinking has been to optimize activity for efficiency.

I think that's an interesting framework. I would say effeciency is achieving the goal in the most effective manner possible. Perhaps that's measured in energy, perhaps labor, perhaps currency units, but whatever the unit of measure, you are minimizing that input cost.

What our economics and business thinking (and most importantly, political thinking) has primarily been doing, I would say, is not optimizing for efficiency. Rather, they are changing the goal being optimized. The will to power has replaced efficiency as the actual outcome.

Unchecked theft, looting, predation, is not efficient. Complexity and its associated secrecy is used to hide the inefficiency, to justify and promote that which would not otherwise stand scrutiny in the light of day.

BigEd August 21, 2015 at 10:11 am

What nonsense. All around us 'complex systems' (airliners, pipelines, coal mines, space stations, etc.) have become steadily LESS prone to failure/disaster over the decades. We are near the stage where the only remaining danger in air travel is human error. We will soon see driverless cars & trucks, and you can be sure accident rates will decline as the human element is taken out of their operation.

tegnost August 21, 2015 at 12:23 pm

see fukushima, lithium batteries spontaneously catching fire, financial engineering leading to collapse unless vast energy is invested in them to re stabilize Driverless cars and trucks are not that soon, tech buddies say ten years I say malarkey based on several points made in the article, while as brooklyn bridge points out public transit languishes, and washunate points out that trains and other more efficient means of locomotion are starved while more complex methods have more energy thrown at them which could be better applied elsewhere. I think you're missing the point by saying look at all our complex systems, they work fine and then you ramble off a list of things with high failure potential and say look they haven't broken yet, while things that have broken and don't support your view are left out. By this mechanism safety protocols are eroded (that accident you keep avoiding hasn't happened, which means you're being too cautious so your efficiency can be enhanced by not worrying about it until it happens then you can fix it but as pointed out above tightly coupled systems can't react fast enough at which point we all have to hear the whocoodanode justification )

susan the other August 21, 2015 at 12:34 pm

And the new points of failure will be what?

susan the other August 21, 2015 at 3:00 pm

So here's a question. What is the failure heirarchy. And why don't those crucial nodes of failsafe protect the system. Could it be that we don't know what they are?

Moneta August 22, 2015 at 8:09 am

While 90% of people were producing food a few decades ago, I think a large percentage will be producing energy in a few decades right now we are still propping up our golf courses and avoiding investing in pipelines and refineries. We are still exploiting the assets of the 50s and 60s to live our hyper material lives. Those investments are what gave us a few decades of consumerism.

Now everyone wants government to spend on infra without even knowing what needs to go and what needs to stay. Maybe half of Californians need to get out of there and forget about building more infra there just a thought.

America still has a frontier ethos how in the world can the right investments in infra be made with a collection of such values?

We're going to get city after city imploding. More workers producing energy and less leisure over the next few decades. That's what breakdown is going to look like.

Moneta August 22, 2015 at 8:22 am

Flying might get safer and safer while we get more and more cities imploding.

Just like statues on Easter Island were getting increasingly elaborate as trees were disappearing.

ian August 21, 2015 at 4:02 pm

What you say is true, but only if you have a sufficient number of failures to learn from. A lot of planes had to crash for air travel to be as safe as it is today.

wm.annis August 21, 2015 at 10:19 am

I am surprised to see no reference to John Gall's General Systematics in this discussion, an entire study of systems and how they misbehave. I tend to read it from the standpoint of managing a complex IT infrastructure, but his work starts from human systems (organizations).

The work is organized around aphorisms - Systems tend to oppose their own proper function - The real world is what it is reported to the system - but one or two from this paper should be added to that repertoire. Point 7 seems especially important. From Gall, I have come to especially appreciate the Fail-Safe Theorem: "when a Fail-Safe system fails, it fails by failing to fail safe."

flora August 21, 2015 at 10:32 am

Instead of writing something long and rambling about complex systems being aggregates of smaller, discrete systems, each depending on a functioning and accurate information processing/feedback (not IT) system to maintain its coherence; and upon equally well functioning feedback systems between the parts and the whole - instead of that I'll quote a poem.

" Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; "

-Yates, "The Second Coming"

flora August 21, 2015 at 10:46 am

erm make that "Yeats", as in W.B.

Steve H. August 21, 2015 at 11:03 am

So, naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite 'em,
And so proceed ad infinitum.

– Swift

LifelongLib August 21, 2015 at 7:38 pm

IIRC in Robert A. Heinlein's "The Puppet Masters" there's a different version:

Big fleas have little fleas
Upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas
And so, ad infinitum.

Since the story is about humans being parasitized and controlled by alien "slugs" that sit on their backs, and the slugs in turn being destroyed by an epidemic disease started by the surviving humans, the verse has a macabre appropriateness.

LifelongLib August 21, 2015 at 10:14 pm

Original reply got eaten, so I hope not double post. Robert A. Heinlein's (and others?) version:

Big fleas have little fleas
Upon their backs to bite 'em
And little fleas have lesser fleas
And so ad infinitum!

Lambert Strether August 21, 2015 at 10:26 pm

The order Siphonoptera .

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 10:59 pm

"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?"

I can't leave that poem without its ending – especially as it becomes ever more relevant.

Oldeguy August 21, 2015 at 11:02 am

Terrific post- just the sort of thing that has made me a NC fan for years.
I'm a bit surprised that the commentators ( thus far ) have not referred to the Financial Crisis of 2008 and the ensuing Great Recession as being an excellent example of Cook's failure analysis.

Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera's

All The Devils Are Here www.amazon.com/All-Devils-Are-Here-Financial/dp/159184438X/

describes beautifully how the erosion of the protective mechanisms in the U.S. financial system, no single one of which would have of itself been deadly in its absence ( Cook's Point 3 ) combined to produce the Perfect Storm.

It brought to mind Garett Hardin's The Tragedy Of The Commons https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons . While the explosive growth of debt ( and therefore risk ) obviously jeopardized the entire system, it was very much within the narrow self interest of individual players to keep the growth ( and therefore the danger ) increasing.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:14 pm

Bingo. Failure of the culture to properly train its members. Not so much a lack of morality as a failure to point out that when the temple falls, it falls on Samson.

The next big fix is to use the US military to wall off our entire country, maybe include Canada (language is important in alliances) during the Interregnum.

Why is no one mentioning the Foundation Trilogy and Hari Seldon here?

Deloss August 21, 2015 at 11:29 am

My only personal experience with the crash of a complex, tightly-coupled system was the crash of the trading floor of a very big stock exchange in the early part of this century. The developers were in the computer room, telling the operators NOT to roll back to the previous release, and the operators ignored them and did so anyway. Crash!

In Claus Jensen's fascinating account of the Challenger disaster, NO DOWNLINK, he describes how the managers overrode the engineers' warnings not to fly under existing weather conditions. We all know the result.

Human error was the final cause in both cases.

Now we are undergoing the terrible phenomenon of global warming, which everybody but Republicans, candidates and elected, seems to understand is real and catastrophic. The Republicans have a majority in Congress, and refuse–for ideological and monetary reasons–to admit that the problem exists. I think this is another unfolding disaster that we can ascribe to human error.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:17 pm

"Human error" needs unpacking here. In this discussion, it's become a Deus ex Humanitas. Humans do what they do because their cultural experiences impel them to do so. Human plus culture is not the same as human. That's why capitalism doesn't work in a selfish society.

Oldeguy August 21, 2015 at 5:52 pm

" capitalism doesn't work in a selfish society "
Very true, not nearly so widely realized as it should be, and the Irony of Ironies .

BayesianGame August 21, 2015 at 11:48 am

But highly efficient systems are fragile. Formula One cars are optimized for speed and can only run one race.

Another problem with obsessing about (productive or technical) efficiency is that it usually means a narrow focus on the most measured or measurable inputs and outputs, to the detriment of less measurable but no less important aspects. Wages are easier to measure than the costs of turnover, including changes in morale, loss of knowledge and skill, and regard for the organization vs. regard for the individual. You want low cost fish? Well, it might be caught by slaves. Squeeze the measurable margins, and the hidden margins will move.

Donw August 21, 2015 at 3:18 pm

You hint at a couple fallacies.

1) Measuring what is easy instead of what is important.
2) Measuring many things and then optimizing all of them optimizes the whole.

Then, have some linear thinker try to optimize those in a complex system (like any organization involving humans) with multiple hidden and delayed feedback loops, and the result will certainly be unexpected. Whether for good or ill is going to be fairly unpredictable unless someone has actually looked for the feedback loops.

IsabelPS August 21, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Very good.

It's nice to see well spelled out a couple of intuitions I've had for a long time. For example, that we are going in the wrong direction when we try to streamline instead of following the path of biology: redundancies, "dirtiness" and, of course, the king of mechanisms, negative feedback (am I wrong in thinking that the main failure of finance, as opposed to economy, is that it has inbuilt positive feedback instead of negative?). And yes, my professional experience has taught me that when things go really wrong it was never just one mistake, it is a cluster of those.

downunderer August 22, 2015 at 3:52 am

Yes, as you hint here, and I would make forcefully explicit: COMPLEX vs NOT-COMPLEX is a false dichotomy that is misleading from the start.

We ourselves, and all the organisms we must interact with in order to stay alive, are individually among the most complex systems that we know of. And the interactions of all of us that add up to Gaia are yet more complex. And still it moves.

Natural selection built the necessary stability features into our bodily complexity. We even have a word for it: homeostasis. Based on negative feedback loops that can keep the balancing act going. And our bodies are vastly more complex than our societies.

Society's problem right now is not complexity per se, but the exploitation of complexity by system components that want to hog the resources and to hell with the whole, quite exactly parallel to the behavior of cancer cells in our bodies when regulatory systems fail.

In our society's case, it is the intelligent teamwork of the stupidly selfish that has destroyed the regulatory systems. Instead of negative feedback keeping deviations from optimum within tolerable limits, we now have positive feedback so obvious it is trite: the rich get richer.

We not only don't need to de-complexify, we don't dare to. We really need to foster the intelligent teamwork that our society is capable of, or we will fail to survive challenges like climate change and the need to sensibly control the population. The alternative is to let natural selection do the job for us, using the old reliable four horsemen.

We are unlikely to change our own evolved selfishness, and probably shouldn't. But we need to control the monsters that we have created within our society. These monsters have all the selfishness of a human at his worst, plus several natural large advantages, including size, longevity, and the ability to metamorphose and regenerate. And as powerful as they already were, they have recently been granted all the legal rights of human citizens, without appropriate negative feedback controls. Everyone here will already know what I'm talking about, so I'll stop.

Peter Pan August 21, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Formula One cars are optimized for speed and can only run one race.

Actually I believe F1 has rules regarding the number of changes that can be made to a car during the season. This is typically four or five changes (replacements or rebuilds), so a F1 car has to be able to run more than one race or otherwise face penalties.

jo6pac August 21, 2015 at 1:41 pm

Yes, F-1 allows four power planets per-season it has been up dated lately to 5. There isn't anything in the air or ground as complex as a F-1 car power planet. The cars are feeding 30 or more engineers at the track and back home normal in England millions of bit of info per second and no micro-soft is not used but very complex programs watching every system in the car. A pit stop in F-1 is 2.7 seconds anything above 3.5 and your not trying hard enough.

Honda who pride themselves in Engineering has struggled in power planet design this year and admit they have but have put more engineers on the case. The beginning of this Tech engine design the big teams hired over 100 more engineers to solve the problems. Ferrari throw out the first design and did a total rebuild and it working.

This is how the world of F-1 has moved into other designs, long but a fun read.
http://www.wired.com/2015/08/mclaren-applied-technologies-f1/

I'm sure those in F-1 system designs would look at stories like this and would come to the conclusion that these nice people are the gate keepers and not the future. Yes, I'm a long time fan of F-1. Then again what do I know.

The sad thing in F-1 the gate keepers are the owners CVC.

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Interesting comment! One has to wonder why every complex system can't be treated as the be-all. Damn the torpedos. Spare no expense! Maybe if we just admitted we are all doing absolutely nothing but going around in a big circle at an ever increasing speed, we could get a near perfect complex system to help us along.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:21 pm

If the human race were as important as auto racing, maybe. But we know that's not true ;->

jo6pac August 21, 2015 at 5:51 pm

In the link it's the humans of McLaren that make all the decisions on the car and the race on hand. The link is about humans working together either in real race time or designing out problems created by others.

Marsha August 21, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Globalization factors in maximizing the impact of Murphy's Law:

  1. Meltdown potential of a globalized 'too big to fail' financial system associated with trade imbalances and international capital flows, and boom and bust impact of volatile "hot money".
  2. Environmental damage associated with inefficiency of excessive long long supply chains seeking cheap commodities and dirty polluting manufacturing zones.
  3. Military vulnerability of same long tightly coupled 'just in time" supply chains across vast oceans, war zones, choke points that are very easy to attack and nearly impossible to defend.
  4. Consumer product safety threat of manufacturing somewhere offshore out of sight out of mind outside the jurisdiction of the domestic regulatory system.
  5. Geographic concentration and contagion of risk of all kinds – fragile pattern of horizontal integration – manufacturing in China, finance in New York and London, industrialized mono culture agriculture lacking biodiversity (Iowa feeds the world). If all the bulbs on the Christmas tree are wired in series, it takes only one to fail and they all go out.

Globalization is not a weather event, not a thermodynamic process of atoms and molecules, not a principle of Newtonian physics, not water running downhill, but a hyper aggressive top down policy agenda by power hungry politicians and reckless bean counter economists. An agenda hell bent on creating a tightly coupled globally integrated unstable house of cards with a proven capacity for catastrophic (trade) imbalance, global financial meltdown, contagion of bad debt, susceptibility to physical threats of all kinds.

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Any complex system contains non-linear feedback. Management presumes it is their skill that keeps the system working over some limited range, where the behavior approximates linear. Outside those limits, the system can fail catastrophically. What is perceived as operating or management skill is either because the system is kept in "safe" limits, or just happenstance. See chaos theory.

Operators or engineers controlling or modifying the system are providing feedback. Feedback can push the system past "safe" limits. Once past safe limits, the system can fail catastrophically Such failure happen very quickly, and are always "a surprise".

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 1:43 pm

All complex system contain non-linear feedback, and all appear manageable over a small rage of operation, under specific conditions.

These are the systems' safe working limits, and sometimes the limits are known, but in many case the safe working limits are unknown (See Stock Markets).

All systems with non-linear feedback can and will fail, catastrophically.

All predicted by Chaos Theory. Best mathematical filed applicable to the real world of systems.

So I'll repeat. All complex system will fail when operating outside safe limits, change in the system, management induced and stimulus induced, can and will redefine those limits, with spectacular results.

We hope and pray system will remain within safe limits, but greed and complacency lead us humans to test those limits (loosen the controls), or enable greater levels of feedback (increase volumes of transactions). See Crash of 2007, following repeal of Glass-Stegal, etc.

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 4:05 pm

It's Ronnie Ray Gun. He redefined it as, "Safe for me but not for thee." Who says you can't isolate the root?

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 5:25 pm

Ronnie Ray Gun was the classic example of a Manager.

Where one can only say: "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do"

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Three quite different thoughts:

First, I don't think the use of "practitioner" is an evasion of agency. Instead, it reflects the very high level of generality inherent in systems theory. The pitfall is that generality is very close to vagueness. However, the piece does contain an argument against the importance of agency; it argues that the system is more important than the individual practitioners, that since catastrophic failures have multiple causes, individual agency is unimportant. That might not apply to practitioners with overall responsibility or who intentionally wrecked the system; there's a naive assumption that everyone's doing their best. I think the author would argue that control fraud is also a system failure, that there are supposed to be safeguards against malicious operators. Bill Black would probably agree. (Note that I dropped off the high level of generality to a particular example.)

Second, this appears to defy the truism from ecology that more complex systems are more stable. I think that's because ecologies generally are not tightly coupled. There are not only many parts but many pathways (and no "practitioners"). So "coupling" is a key concept not much dealt with in the article. It's about HUMAN systems, even though the concept should apply more widely than that.

Third, Yves mentioned the economists' use of "equilibrium." This keeps coming up; the way the word is used seems to me to badly need definition. It comes from chemistry, where it's used to calculate the production from a reaction. The ideal case is a closed system: for instance, the production of ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen in a closed pressure chamber. You can calculate the proportion of ammonia produced from the temperature and pressure of the vessel. It's a fairly fast reaction, so time isn't a big factor.

The Earth is not a closed system, nor are economies. Life is driven by the flow of energy from the Sun (and various other factors, like the steady rain of material from space). In open systems, "equilibrium" is a constantly moving target. In principle, you could calculate the results at any given condition , given long enough for the many reactions to finish. It's as if the potential equilibrium drives the process (actually, the inputs do).

Not only is the target moving, but the whole system is chaotic in the sense that it's highly dependent on variables we can't really measure, like people, so the outcomes aren't actually predictable. That doesn't really mean you can't use the concept of equilibrium, but it has to be used very carefully. Unfortunately, most economists are pretty ignorant of physical science, so ignorant they insistently defy the laws of thermodynamics ("groaf"), so there's a lot of magical thinking going on. It's really ideology, so the misuse of "equilibrium" is just one aspect of the system failure.

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 5:34 pm

Really?

"equilibrium from chemistry, where it's used to calculate the production from a reaction"

That is certainly a definition in one scientific field.

There is another definition from physics.

When all the forces that act upon an object are balanced, then the object is said to be in a state of equilibrium.

However objects on a table are considered in equilibrium, until one considers an earthquake.

The condition for an equilibrium need to be carefully defined, and there are few cases, if any, of equilibrium "under all conditions."

nat scientist August 21, 2015 at 7:42 pm

Equilibrium ceases when Chemistry breaks out, dear Physicist.

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 10:19 pm

Equilibrium ceases when Chemistry breaks out

This is only a subset.

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 10:56 pm

I avoided physics, being not so very mathematical, so learned the chemistry version – but I do think it's the one the economists are thinking of.

What I neglected to say: it's an analogy, hence potentially useful but never literally true – especially since there's no actual stopping point, like your table.

John Merryman August 21, 2015 at 3:09 pm

There is much simpler way to look at it, in terms of natural cycles, because the alternative is that at the other extreme, a happy medium is also a flatline on the big heart monitor. So the bigger it builds, the more tension and pressure accumulates. The issue then becomes as to how to leverage the consequences. As they say, a crisis should never be wasted. At its heart, there are two issues, economic overuse of resources and a financial medium in which the rent extraction has overwhelmed its benefits. These actually serve as some sort of balance, in that we are in the process of an economic heart attack, due to the clogging of this monetary circulation system, that will seriously slow economic momentum.

The need then is to reformulate how these relationships function, in order to direct and locate our economic activities within the planetary resources. One idea to take into consideration being that money functions as a social contract, though we treat it as a commodity. So recognizing it is not property to be collected, rather contracts exchanged, then there wouldn't be the logic of basing the entire economy around the creation and accumulation of notational value, to the detriment of actual value. Treating money as a public utility seems like socialism, but it is just an understanding of how it functions. Like a voucher system, simply creating excess notes to keep everyone happy is really, really stupid, big picture wise.

Obviously some parts of the system need more than others, but not simply for ego gratification. Like a truck needs more road than a car, but an expensive car only needs as much road as an economy car. The brain needs more blood than the feet, but it doesn't want the feet rotting off due to poor circulation either.
So basically, yes, complex systems are finite, but we need to recognize and address the particular issues of the system in question.

Bob Stapp August 21, 2015 at 5:30 pm

Perhaps in a too-quick scan of the comments, I overlooked any mention of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book, Antifragile. If so, my apologies. If not, it's a serious omission from this discussion.

Local to Oakland August 21, 2015 at 6:34 pm

Thank you for this.

I first wondered about something related to this theme when I first heard about just in time sourcing of inventory. (Now also staff.) I wondered then whether this was possible because we (middle and upper class US citizens) had been shielded from war and other catastrophic events. We can plan based on everything going right because most of us don't know in our gut that things can always go wrong.

I'm genX, but 3 out of 4 of my grandparents were born during or just after WWI. Their generation built for redundancy, safety, stability. Our generation, well. We take risks and I'm not sure the decision makers have a clue that any of it can bite them.

Jeremy Grimm August 22, 2015 at 4:23 pm

The just-in-time supply of components for manufacturing was described in Barry Lynn's book "Cornered" and identified as creating extreme fragility in the American production system. There have already been natural disasters that shutdown American automobile production in our recent past.

Everything going right wasn't part of the thinking that went into just-in-time parts. Everything going right - long enough - to steal away market share on price-point was the thinking. Decision makers don't worry about any of this biting them. Passing the blame down and golden parachutes assure that.

flora August 21, 2015 at 7:44 pm

This is really a very good paper. My direct comments are:

point 2: yes. provided the safety shields are not discarded for bad reasons like expedience or ignorance or avarice. See Glass-Steagall Act, for example.

point 4: yes. true of all dynamic systems.

point 7: 'root cause' is not the same as 'key factors'. ( And here the doctor's sensitivity to malpractice suits may be guiding his language.) It is important to determine key factors in order to devise better safety shields for the system. Think airplane black boxes and the 1932 Pecora Commission after the 1929 stock market crash.

Jay M August 21, 2015 at 9:01 pm

It's easy, complexity became too complex. And I can't read the small print. We are devolving into a world of happy people with gardens full of flowers that they live in on their cell phones.

Ancaeus August 22, 2015 at 5:22 am

There are a number of counter-examples; engineered and natural systems with a high degree of complexity that are inherently stable and fault-tolerant, nonetheless.

1. Subsumption architecture is a method of controlling robots, invented by Rodney Brooks in the 1980s. This scheme is modeled on the way the nervous systems of animals work. In particular, the parts of the robot exist in a hierarchy of subsystems, e.g., foot, leg, torso, etc. Each of these subsystems is autonomously controlled. Each of the subsystems can override the autonomous control of its constituent subsystems. So, the leg controller can directly control the leg muscle, and can override the foot subsystem. This method of control was remarkably successful at producing walking robots which were not sensitive to unevenness of the surface. In other words, the were not brittle in the sense of Dr. Cook. Of course, subsumption architecture is not a panacea. But it is a demonstrated way to produce very complex engineered systems consisting of many interacting parts that are very stable.

2. The inverted pendulum Suppose you wanted to build a device to balance a pencil on its point. You could imagine a sensor to detect the angle of the pencil, an actuator to move the balance point, and a controller to link the two in a feedback loop. Indeed, this is, very roughly, how a Segway remains upright. However, there is a simpler way to do it, without a sensor or a feedback controller. It turns out that if your device just moves the balance point sinusoidaly (e.g., in a small circle) and if the size of the circle and the rate are within certain ranges, then the pencil will be stable. This is a well-known consequence of the Mathieu equation. The lesson here is that stability (i.e., safety) can be inherent in systems for subtle reasons that defy a straightforward fault/response feedback.

3. Emergent behavior of swarms Large numbers of very simple agents interacting with one another can sometimes exhibit complex, even "intelligent" behavior. Ants are a good example. Each ant has only simple behavior. However, the entire ant colony can act in complex and effective ways that would be hard to predict from the individual ant behaviors. A typical ant colony is highly resistant to disturbances in spite of the primitiveness of its constituent ants.

4. Another example is the mammalian immune system that uses negative selection as one mechanism to avoid attacking the organism itself. Immature B cells are generated in large numbers at random, each one with receptors for specifically configured antigens. During maturation, if they encounter a matching antigen (likely a protein of the organism) then the B cell either dies, or is inactivated. At maturity, what is left is a highly redundant cohort of B cells that only recognize (and neutralize) foreign antigens.

Well, these are just a few examples of systems that exhibit stability (or fault-tolerance) that defies the kind of Cartesian analysis in Dr. Cook's article.

Marsha August 22, 2015 at 11:42 am

Glass-Steagall Act: interactions between unrelated functionality is something to be avoided. Auto recall: honking the horn could stall the engine by shorting out the ignition system. Simple fix is is a bit of insulation.

ADA software language: Former DOD standard for large scale safety critical software development: encapsulation, data hiding, strong typing of data, minimization of dependencies between parts to minimize impact of fixes and changes. Has safety critical software gone the way of the Glass-Steagall Act? Now it is buffer overflows, security holes, and internet protocol in hardware control "critical infrastructure" that can blow things up.

[Nov 15, 2017] Lenin's Legacy, Donald Trump and Russian Revolution at 100 Time

Notable quotes:
"... Lenin: The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror, ..."
"... Get your history fix in one place: sign up for the weekly TIME History newsletter ..."
Nov 15, 2017 | time.com

By Simon Shuster / Berlin November 7, 2017 To signal the storming of the Russian imperial palace, the revolutionary guards were supposed to raise a red lantern over the fortress they had occupied in Petrograd, the city now known as St. Petersburg. It was October 1917, and Vladimir Lenin, the leader of Russia's communist underground, was finally within reach of seizing power over the largest country in the world. Pacing around the musty rooms of his rebel headquarters, he demanded that his men raise the lantern onto the flagpole and begin the siege at once.

But there was a problem. They'd forgotten to bring a lantern.

One of Lenin 's henchmen went out to look for one. But he got lost, fell into some mud and returned with a purple lamp, which the insurgents could not figure out how to attach to the flagpole. Eventually they gave up on their idea for a signal and started the siege without it.

With a lot of luck, they were successful. But in Lenin: The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror, a new biography of Lenin written by Victor Sebestyen and published on Tuesday -- the 100th anniversary of Russia's October Revolution -- it becomes clear that Lenin did not attain absolute power through meticulous planning or the ruthless efficiency of his men. Much of his success seems to have come through his ability to bluff, intimidate and improvise. It's a story that, for Sebestyen, still echoes a century later. On the eve of the anniversary of Lenin's revolution, TIME spoke to his biographer about the lucky breaks that helped bring Lenin to power, the legacy he left behind in Russia and the parallels that Sebestyen sees between Trump_vs_deep_state and Leninism.

TIME: The book sheds a lot of light on Lenin's understanding of good and evil. How would you describe the moral compass that he used?

Victor Sebestyen: It's all about the means justifying the ends. That's what it came down to. Anything you do for the cause is morally justifiable. It's similar to the religious idea of saving souls. It doesn't matter how many heretics you burn as long as you're serving that cause.

Didn't Lenin also see himself, in a sense, as saving mankind?

Yes, he was trying to create a new type of human being, a perfect Soviet person – homo sovieticus – who would get rid of slavery and exploitation. The trouble is that people often have a disappointing wish not to be perfected. They first have to be bullied and coerced and, in the end, terrorized. So that's what Lenin did. It was a giant experiment. The scale of its ambition was monumental. But that's what makes the scale of the failure so disastrous.

Your book also suggests that for Lenin, the Russian Revolution was part of a vendetta. He wanted to avenge the death of his older brother, who was executed at the age of 21 for plotting to kill the czar. How much of this was personal to Lenin rather than ideological?

I think there was an element of both. A lot of the legend of Lenin was that of a very cold, very calculating, icy and logical figure. But actually he was moved by emotion every bit as much as ideology. It wasn't only his brother's execution that drove him, but the fact that his whole family was shunned after that by the liberal middle class. Lenin never had a kind word to say about the bourgeois after that, and that drove him just as much as his belief in Marxist theory.

As you describe in the book, Lenin came to power by colluding with a hostile foreign power -- namely, Germany during World War I -- while at the same time making appeals to Russian patriotism and national pride. How did he reconcile these two?

I don't think it was hard for him to reconcile at all. He looked at the ultimate goal, which was power for him, the power to change the world. That was his morality. It didn't matter that he was colluding. He would have seen it as a perfectly reasonable political tactic. Of course he had to hide it, because it would have been embarrassing. But he wouldn't have found the morality troubling one bit. I don't suppose he thought about it for more than a minute.

Some of the early commentaries on your book have suggested that Lenin's tactics resemble those of the Donald Trump campaign during last year's elections. Don't you think such comparisons are a bit of a stretch?

Of course I didn't have Trump in mind when I started writing the book. But I did have in mind the power of demagoguery. So I don't think it's a stretch at all to make that comparison, especially when you look at [Trump's] personality. Some of the same things are said about him: He lies shamelessly; he promises anything and everything; he offers very simple solutions to complicated problems. This is very recognizable today.

When it came down to it, Lenin's messages were often very simple, very pithy, very direct. He would have been fantastic on Twitter. I mean, his slogan -- Peace, Land, Bread -- it's a lot less than 140 characters. I really do think he is the godfather of post-truth politics, and I think we're seeing Leninist stuff going on in our politics quite often.

Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, reportedly called himself a Leninist. Do you see a parallel there as well?

I think there's a big element of Leninism in wanting to destroy everything and start again. That's the parallel between them. [Bannon and his allies] also want to smash the old system, which to them doesn't work, and they want to build anew.

Get your history fix in one place: sign up for the weekly TIME History newsletter

Lenin was also obsessed with propaganda. What were his innovations on that front?

He was really obsessed with film and radio. But he would have used whatever the new technology was at the time. I dread to think how he would use the Internet. His style was always to look at the worst of his opponents and brand them that way. That was always in his argument: Exaggerate everything wrong that your opponent does, and then identify them only like that.

The Russian media haven't paid as much attention as one might expect to the 100th anniversary of the Revolution this week. Nor has President Vladimir Putin. Why is that?

Well, they can't write [Lenin] out completely, because that would basically mean that everything their parents or grandparents fought for is meaningless, that it's all wrong. You can't do that. But trying to come to terms with the communists is not an easy one for Putin. He hates the word revolution . It's appalling to him. For a leader like Putin, it's not a great message to send to your people: Hey, you can actually get rid of an autocratic leader quite easily if you want to.

Then why does the cult of Lenin's disciple and successor, Joseph Stalin, seem to be so much more alive among Russians today?

To them modern history begins in 1945, with victory in the Great Patriotic War, and you can almost forget the years before it. You can write Stalin's history as the great national leader while barely mentioning that he was a communist. But you can't ignore that with Lenin.

Lenin's embalmed corpse is still inside the mausoleum on Red Square, in the center of Moscow, and the question of whether or not to bury him is still a major controversy. Why does Putin seem uninterested in putting it to rest?

He had the chance in 2011, when the mausoleum was in such bad shape that there was a danger of it falling down. That was a chance to get rid of it and bury him. But he said, No. And in the end they spent quite a lot of money propping it up again. I don't know how much of Lenin's actual body is left in there. There may be much more wax than an embalmed body.

Last week Putin unveiled a monument in Moscow to the victims of political repressions. He didn't name and shame Stalin or Lenin during his speech at that ceremony. But what do you make of this step to at least acknowledge that these crimes and purges took place?

That was the first big [monument] with a big state unveiling. But I don't know how you can do that without mentioning the people who committed the repressions and how it happened. Still, the fact that they put up the monument at all is important. It would be churlish to dismiss it. People have been pressing for something like this to happen in Russia for a while, and even though it might not go as far as one might want, at least it's something. It was carefully scripted, carefully crafted. But the fact that it's there at all is a good step.

[Oct 29, 2017] The elte is continuing globalization push. S>heeple are too mesmerized by TV, weed, games, phones, sports, booze, food, the internet and their shitty jobs to ever realize they are in a cage.

Oct 29, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

In other parts in this series, I have discussed the tools that the elite are using to achieve their goals. In part I, I talked about how debt is used as a tool of enslavement, and in part II I explained how central banking is a system of financial control that literally dominates the entire planet ( Part III and Part IV here) Professor Quigley also mentioned this system of financial control in his book

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole."

Today, a system of interlocking global treaties is slowly but surely merging us into a global economic system. The World Trade Organization was formed on January 1, 1995, and 164 nations now belong to it. And every time you hear of a new "free trade agreement" being signed, that is another step toward a one world economy.

Of course economics is just one element of their overall plan. Ultimately the goal is to erode national sovereignty almost completely and to merge the nations of the world into a single unified system of global governance.

... ... ...

Once you start looking into these things, you will see that the elite are very openly telling us what they intend to do.

One of my favorite examples of this phenomenon is a quote from David Rockefeller's book entitled Memoirs

Some even believe we are a part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as 'internationalists' and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty and I am proud of it

As David Rockefeller openly admitted, they are "internationalists" that are intent on establishing a one world system.

... ... ...

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho's First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website . His new book entitled "Living A Life That Really Matters" is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com .

[Oct 29, 2017] Wendy Brown's definition of neoliberalism: It is not simply a commitment to capitalism or to markets, but an effort to transform all spheres of human life in ways that render them amendable to economic calculation.

Notable quotes:
"... I believe discussion of Neoliberalism is very much like discussion of Global Warming. "Weedy" or not, "academic" or not both discussions require transit through some difficult concepts and technical depth. In the case of Global Warming discussions you either come to grips with some complicated climate science or you end up discussing matters of faith drawn from popular "simplifications". In the case of Neoliberalism the discussion necessarily enters a region which requires attention to fine details which when followed to their end tend to have deep and broad implications. ..."
"... The concept of a Thought Collective greatly aids understanding the particularly slippery nature of Neoliberalism as a term for discussion. That slippery nature is no accident. The Market as a theory of knowledge -- an epistemology -- makes apparent the philosophical even "religious" extent of Neoliberal thinking. ..."
"... I prefer Wendy Brown's definition of neoliberalism. It is not simply a commitment to capitalism or to markets, she argues, but an effort to transform all spheres of human life in ways that render them amendable to economic calculation. ..."
"... But "economic calculation" still understates the post-modern condition and tends toward looking for an outside origin, like Hayek/Friedman. Neoliberalism is something we are doing to ourselves, and Foucault's biopolitics makes this clear. You just don't separate the economic from the social and political. ..."
"... Twitter and Facebooks "likes and dislikes" are a form of (social) capital accumulation. Financialization has become ascendant because labour productivity is no longer measurable, and they need "fictitious" numbers to maintain hierarchy. ..."
"... Marxists understand that Hayek-Friedman neoliberalism is just another stage in the real subsumption of labor and completion of globalized capitalism. It is just liberalism after capitalism has finally destroyed traditionalism, nationalism, religion etc. ..."
Oct 29, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Jeremy Grimm , October 28, 2017 at 6:09 pm

I believe discussion of Neoliberalism is very much like discussion of Global Warming. "Weedy" or not, "academic" or not both discussions require transit through some difficult concepts and technical depth. In the case of Global Warming discussions you either come to grips with some complicated climate science or you end up discussing matters of faith drawn from popular "simplifications". In the case of Neoliberalism the discussion necessarily enters a region which requires attention to fine details which when followed to their end tend to have deep and broad implications.

In the interview referenced by this post Phillip Mirowski asserts Neoliberals believe the Market is an information processor which "knows" more than you or I could ever know. He also introduces the concept of a Thought Collective -- which he states he adapted from writings of Ludwig Fleck related to describing a method for study and explanation of the history of Science. I believe both these "weedy" "academic" distinctions are key to understanding Neoliberalism and distinguishing it from Neoclassical economics and Libertarianism. The concept of a Thought Collective greatly aids understanding the particularly slippery nature of Neoliberalism as a term for discussion. That slippery nature is no accident. The Market as a theory of knowledge -- an epistemology -- makes apparent the philosophical even "religious" extent of Neoliberal thinking.

Two recent papers by Phillip Mirowski tackle the difficulties in defining and discussing Neoliberalism. They are both "weedy" and "academic" and unfortunately help little in addressing the issue RabidGhandhi raised at the root of the lengthy thread beginning the comments to this post.
"The Political Movement that Dared not Speak its own Name: The Neoliberal Thought
Collective Under Erasure" 2014
[https://www.ineteconomics.org/research/research-papers/the-political-movement-that-dared-not-speak-its-own-name-the-neoliberal-thought-collective-under-erasure]
"This is Water (or is it Neoliberalism?)" 2016 -- this is a response to critics of the previous paper.
[https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/this-is-water-or-is-it-neoliberalism]

There have been several oblique references to this story -- so I'll repeat it since I only recently ran across it.
There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish
swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, "Morning, boys, how's the water?" And
the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, "What the hell is water?"

I am afraid that little story says volumes about the problem RabidGhandhi raised. I believe remaining "weedy" and "academic" is the very least service we might do to discussing Neoliberalism and when arguing topics related to Neoliberalism -- and probably the least damage.

likbez , October 29, 2017 at 1:58 am

Phillip Mirowski approach is not the only approach and it has its flaws. IMHO he exaggerates differences between neoliberal doctrine and neo-classical economics.

Some view neoliberalism as Trotskyism for rich and analogies look convincing, at least for me. See http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neoliberalism/neoliberalism_as_trotskyism_for_the_rich.shtml

That might be a more fruitful research approach.

Wendy Brown book is also very interesting and illuminating: https://www.amazon.com/Undoing-Demos-Neoliberalisms-Stealth-Revolution/dp/1935408534

nonclassical , October 29, 2017 at 3:58 am

..what was actually historically perpetrated, Chile', September 11, 1973, is (Naomi Klein) instructive:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTN5_Efx1n4

Jeremy Grimm , October 29, 2017 at 11:19 am

I went to the site you recommended and read through the very lengthy discussion of Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich. I believe the title of that discussion makes a reasonable summary of the definition of Neoliberalism you prefer and propose: Neoliberalism is Trotskyism for the rich. While there may be some groups in which this definition might be a useful formula for continuing discussion I doubt it would be of much use in discussing Neoliberalism in general.

Neoliberalism is slippery enough without bringing in a can-O-worms like Trotskyism -- and as I am not a Soviet style Marxist nor a student of Marxism and only vaguely familiar with the Russian revolutions the metaphor is as meaningless to me as a metaphor based on the gang-of-four with references to Maoism.

I disagree with your view that Mirowski exaggerates the differences between Neoliberal doctrine and Neoclassical economics. I don't recall the source but I do recall one of Mirowski's writings or videos did identify how Neoclassical economics is drifting toward Neoliberalism. Although both disciplines might advocate similar policies they differ in how they arrive at those policies. And I believe it Neoclassical economists think of economics at a tool for conducting policy while Neoliberals view their doctrines as guides for policy.

Mirowski -- at least as I read his paper -- tends to avoid making a formulaic definition of Neoliberalism and instead emphasizes what he views as its key doctrines. Those doctrines are what distinguishes Neoliberalism.

Temporarily Sane , October 29, 2017 at 5:59 am

I prefer Wendy Brown's definition of neoliberalism. It is not simply a commitment to capitalism or to markets, she argues, but an effort to transform all spheres of human life in ways that render them amendable to economic calculation.

bob mcmanus , October 29, 2017 at 8:37 am

Wendy Brown is very good. Remember she is also a critic of identity politics. She gets it.

bob mcmanus , October 29, 2017 at 12:06 pm

But "economic calculation" still understates the post-modern condition and tends toward looking for an outside origin, like Hayek/Friedman. Neoliberalism is something we are doing to ourselves, and Foucault's biopolitics makes this clear. You just don't separate the economic from the social and political.

Twitter and Facebooks "likes and dislikes" are a form of (social) capital accumulation. Financialization has become ascendant because labour productivity is no longer measurable, and they need "fictitious" numbers to maintain hierarchy.

Jodi Dean calls this the era of "Communicative Capitalism" wherein value creation has been democratized and we are ruled by the "circulation of commodified affect."

This is brutal. We create value when we like something or someone. We commodify it when we attempt to justify our affections in social settings and produce discourse to do so. It circulates when other people agree and spread the episteme. Why is it "Capitalism?" Because Facebook extracts surplus from your affections and discourse. Sociality and sociability are now major profit centers.

That's like everything, folks. Everything. Late-capitalism or neoliberalism is at least fast becoming a global totality without an outside or margin.

bob mcmanus , October 29, 2017 at 8:29 am

I come at this from a Marxist perspective, and so am very skeptical of liberalism. Neo-liberalism is simply liberalism after the last vestiges of traditionalist communitarian have disappeared.

I usually like Gaius Publius, but I don't like this article. Recently the French union reaction to Macron's labor reforms has the slogan to the effect that "We don't want that liberalism."

To understand neo-liberalism, you have to a) use the European meaning of liberalism, especially since the founders were European, b) you also have to connect the word with the full spectrum of what is "liberalism" as developed in the Early modern period by Hume, Locke, Smith, the American founders, John Stuart Mills, etc. Remember, during their times, both Burke and John C Calhoun were considered exemplary liberals. (See Domenico Losurdo.)

Neo-liberalism is no more limited to economics and markets than liberalism was. Neo-liberalism/liberalism, besides the right to property or the fruits of your labor (Locke also Marx) also includes the full panoply of rights and privileges (at least in theory) included in the Bill of Rights and the extension of those over time, and the right to property and market competition are inextricably connected to the other rights (free press, freedom to associate, gun rights, national self-determination, freedom from searches, etc). Inextricably, they cannot be separated.

Including individualistic rights over your body, for instance. The right to an abortion, gay marriage, freedom of choice, even the popularization of tattoos developed at the same time as the ascension of economic neoliberalism, which is inextricably connected to the "liberalization" of the social spheres.

Which is why it is the ocean we swim in and why it is so hard to fight and why Democrats and centrists and the identitarian "Left" dislike the word so much. Neoliberalism is just liberalism on steroids. Those who dislike the word want to de-liberalize (some of ) the markets and limit (some) property rights while retaining most of the individualism that liberalism allows. They don't want to be socialists.

Marxists understand that Hayek-Friedman neoliberalism is just another stage in the real subsumption of labor and completion of globalized capitalism. It is just liberalism after capitalism has finally destroyed traditionalism, nationalism, religion etc.

nonclassical , October 29, 2017 at 10:51 am

hmmmnnn while this, from article can be so defined:

"With their help, he began to create what Daniel Stedman Jones describes in Masters of the Universe as "a kind of neoliberal international" [a term modeled on "the Communist International]: a transatlantic network of academics, businessmen, journalists and activists. The movement's rich backers funded a series of thinktanks which would refine and promote the ideology. Among them were the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Centre for Policy Studies and the Adam Smith Institute. They also financed academic positions and departments, particularly at the universities of Chicago and Virginia."

FDR regulated capitalism, entirety of western "social democracies", stand in contrast (some might say, thankfully)

Philipbn , October 29, 2017 at 1:25 pm

For one of the strongest early analyses of the development of neoliberalism, see Foucault's 1978-79 Collège de France lectures, "The Birth of Biopolitics" (English translation 2008). The entire year is an extended review of and commentary on the the development of liberalism, or in Foucault's terms "liberal governmentality," and in particular of neo-liberalism

[Oct 29, 2017] What is neoliberalism? A market-based ideology willing to employ fascism to impose the conditions necessary to establish the market state. (ie, throwing people out of helicopters.) The state is co-opted to ensure rule of the Market.

Notable quotes:
"... The experience of every modern democratic nation-state proves that libertarianism is incompatible with democracy ..."
"... Libertarianism is the version of neoliberalism used to get teenagers hooked on markets. ..."
"... The only ray of hope is that neoliberalism seems, by stripping the vast majority of people of income and assets, to be wildly successful at suppressing aggregate demand and so contains the seeds of its own demise. Maybe. ..."
"... Too bad Mises and Hayek didn't live in the UK or France or US or Canada or other long established democracy; ..."
"... nobody's marching in the streets or even making a fuss about it ..."
Oct 29, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Enrique Bermudez , October 28, 2017 at 5:50 am

"Just deserts for predators and prey" – yes, very much this. I remember talking with my father about a year ago in a quasi-philosophical sense about where I felt western society had gone wrong. I could not quite adequately express the essence of my thoughts beyond "a fundamental devaluation of people as individuals."

I think it applies to foreign policy as well – however you want to put things. The ghouls/neocons/neolibs decide to start some regime change war somewhere. Hundreds of thousands/millions of the wrong people die. But the pipeline (or whatever) gets built on the correct parts of the map. No harm no foul and it's on to the next part of the giant "Risk" board.

Come to think, I actually quite like "ghoul" as a catch-all term for all these evil bastards. Can't remember where I first saw that – might have been here – but it fits.

David May , October 28, 2017 at 5:50 am

A good article on the neoliberal links to fascism:
Why libertarians apologize for autocracy
The experience of every modern democratic nation-state proves that libertarianism is incompatible with democracy by Michael Lind.

Libertarianism is the version of neoliberalism used to get teenagers hooked on markets.

David May , October 28, 2017 at 6:11 am

What is neoliberalism? A market-based ideology willing to employ fascism to impose the conditions necessary to establish the market state. (ie, throwing people out of helicopters.) The state is co-opted to ensure rule of the Market.

The value of everything, human life-included, is to be decided by the Market. (Except when the outcome is not favorable to the elite. Hence the need to takeover the state.)

The market state will impose Freedom™. Freedom™ means the law of the jungle and consequently many rebellious serfs, er, citizens unhappy with Freedom™. (Another reason the state will be needed – to reimpose Freedom™. That is, prison or maybe helicopter trips.)

allan , October 28, 2017 at 8:56 am

Whatever neoliberalism is, this is a perfect example of it:

A Student Loan Nightmare: The Teacher in the Wrong Payment Plan [NYT]

In 2015, he discovered that he was enrolled in a particular type of ineligible payment plan and would need to start his decade of payments all over again, even though he had been paying more each month than he would have if he had been in an eligible plan. Because of his 8.25 percent interest rate, which he could not refinance due to loan rules, even those higher payments weren't putting a dent in his principal. So the $70,000 or so that he did pay over the period amounted to nothing, and he'll most likely pay at least that much going forward.

So this is who we are now. For all sorts of reasons that made perfect sense at the time, we built additional repayment programs onto existing complexity onto well-meaning forgiveness overseen by multiple layers of responsible parties. And once that was done, Mr. Shafer, teacher of shelter dwellers and street kids and others whom fellow educators failed to reach, wasted a small fortune and will now shovel another one into the federal coffers.

Which leaves just one more question: If this is who we are, is it who we actually want to be?

Apparently, yes.

The only ray of hope is that neoliberalism seems, by stripping the vast majority of people of income and assets,
to be wildly successful at suppressing aggregate demand and so contains the seeds of its own demise. Maybe.

kurtismayfield , October 28, 2017 at 11:23 am

The only ray of hope is that neoliberalism seems, by stripping the vast majority of people of income and assets, to be wildly successful at suppressing aggregate demand and so contains the seeds of its own demise. Maybe.

Exactly.. once the majority are stripped of their assets and have to commit most of their income to rent, there *should* be no growth. Unless the entire system is running around asset inflation, which it is now. But that cannot last forever.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 3:46 pm

The only ray of hope is that neoliberalism seems, by stripping the vast majority of people of income and assets,
to be wildly successful at suppressing aggregate demand and so contains the seeds of its own demise. Maybe.

I don't think that this is what They are thinking. The 'make it up on volume' is a retailer strategy, our MOTU are playing well above wholesale and actually are not in the goods-transferring biz at all. Finance, you know. Long before we are all gone, eaten alive or whatever, They will be turning their sights on where the real money is -- each other. Perhaps a few corners of life will survive, and I am curious as to what the new life forms, if any, that emerge out of this sea of pesticides, herbicides, garbage, and too much CO2 will be. Academic question, of course. Perhaps this is why there is no evidence of other intelligent life in the universe? That's too depressing, I'm gonna go make some cinnamon toast.

Altandmain , October 28, 2017 at 9:27 am

What is the real purpose of neoliberalism?

To create a feudal aristocracy using pseudoscientific propaganda. The government uses a combination of tax policy, deregulation, the destruction of legal protections (ex: labour laws), privatization, free trade, mass immigration, propaganda, and frankly, blunt force where needed to slowly dismantle the middle class.

The end result is a society that looks something like Russia in the 1990s or perhaps South Africa, with very high inequality along with high multiculturalism.

Enforcement is not consistent. For example, low and middle class workers are expected to compete in terms of lowest wages and poorest job security with the developing world. Meanwhile, the very rich can do whatever they want and not pay much taxes. Intellectual property is another example of this inconsistency, and allows corporations to rent seek on their IP, itself often a product of taxpayer funded R&D or bought from a small company (witness how big pharmaceutical companies are guilty of both of these).

It isn't pretty, but that is the real goal.

Always keep in mind the purpose of propaganda is to build a narrative.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/13/why-ridiculous-official-propaganda-still-works/

It is not meant to be easily repeated, no matter how easily disproven. Neoliberalism is perhaps the most visible example.

Thuto , October 28, 2017 at 11:05 am

Very true, speaking specifically of South Africa where I live, your analysis of the situation hits the mark. We have an openly neoliberal opposition party that fashions itself as a pro-poor party yet even a cursory glance at its policy stance reveals where the dictates it shouts regularly from its benches originate, and whose interests it represents (it's certainly not the poor). It campaigns heavily for the gutting of labour laws while advocating for the destruction of local industries by coddling up to foreign investors and free trade cheerleaders. Yet nobody seems to see the contradiction, because, as Altandmain says above, it's all about building a narrative through propaganda with the media as an echo chamber (if people think media ownership in the US is concentrated, they must try visiting SA). And the trickle down economics myth is very much the dominant narrative down here, with the rich being worshipped as demigods who hold the fate of the country in their hands, and as such, must have carte blanche to do as they please

Thuto , October 28, 2017 at 9:48 am

Intellectual capture of the general populace by co-opting (read buying) academia and the msm to extol the virtues of neoliberalism is what allows its pernicious effects to spread like wildfire. Credentialism and the pretentious grounding of neoliberal discourse in pseudoscientific rigor discourages critique from ordinary, "non-expert" people and co-opts even these lemmings (queitly being marched to their demise) to defend its ideological soundness. The question i've always had is this: how do countries get grassroots movements against neoliberalism going when the precursor to success against it seems to be eliminating basic and functional illiteracy among the general population about its inner workings and the instruments it uses to legitimize its evils (e.g. propaganda)? Outside of niche communities like here at NC, most people seem to care more about the Kardashians than equipping themselves with the chops (financial, technical etc) to call BS on all this. And this seems to be a war that will require numbers to win, but how to get those numbers when so many people appear to be so enchanted by the supposed virtues of neoliberalism ("getting ahead", ruthless competition etc).

PS: Some of us here at NC live in developing countries and the tentacles of this ideology have proven to be no respector of borders, as such, imho said grassroots movements would necessarily have to be transnational by spreading beyond the heartlands of global capitalism (Western Europe & US/North America).

Katz , October 28, 2017 at 11:03 am

One of the most illuminating lines I've heard in recent years comes from Matt Stoller: "neoliberalism is statecraft."

That's not an idea readily accommodated by the rhetoric/ideology of neoliberalism, but it's extremely useful for seeing beyond of them.

flora , October 28, 2017 at 11:03 am

Great article. Now when I hear TV/Journalist commentators suggest the nation-state is useless and democracy is obsolete I will know their point of reference and unspoken arguments. I will also listen for what they do not report on or talk about. 'The dog that did not bark in the night.' Thanks for posting. Two things:

1.
"Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Both exiles from Austria, "

Austria in 1938 had no deep-rooted democratic history. It was part of the aristocratic Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918, when that collapsed post WWI. Hayek and Mises grounded their philosophy in their post-empire/post-autocratic-rule chaotic national experiences – unstable newly imposed democratic societies which previously had a long history of autocratic rule and a bad or poorly done recent (post WWI) transition to democracy. E.g. Post WWI Weimar Germany was chaos, as reported by on-the-ground correspondent William Shirer.

Mises and Hayek also applied their ideas to well-established older democratic nations. In context, their philosophy did not apply to the well-established democracies. If anything, Mises and Hayek assumed a strong central govt inevitably meant a 'strong man' govt and not a democratic govt, it seems.

2.
" Through the IMF, the World Bank, the Maastricht treaty and the World Trade Organisation, neoliberal policies were imposed – often without democratic consent – on much of the world."

The IMF and WTO and neoliberalism itself have become a 'strong man' or 'strong committee' supra-govt rule, imo. Neoliberalism's economic application has lead to the very conditions of weakening democracy and subjecting people to 'strong man/committee rule' Mises and Hayek tried to prevent by weakening the power of the nation-state, without regard to differences in nation-state governments and polity.

flora , October 28, 2017 at 12:20 pm

shorter neolib args:
All* strong govts lead to despotism. (*All? nope. false premise)

Weakening the power of all govt's will guard against despotism. (Really? nope. some forms of govt are a strong guard against despotism. false premise)

Replacing govt functions with market functions has no risk. (nope. see astronomical price increases in privatized govt services and deregulated markets. epi-pen?)

Therefore, weakening central govts and replacing their functions with private market solutions will be both risk free and guard against depotism. (False conclusion from false premises. And there are plenty of financially despotic markets.)

Too bad Mises and Hayek didn't live in the UK or France or US or Canada or other long established democracy; not perfect, always struggling to increase the franchise, but more accountable to citizens than markets.

JTMcPhee , October 28, 2017 at 1:12 pm

I'd urge all to read, and maybe re-read, the series of 6 or so articles posted by NC under the heading "Journey Into A Libertarian Future." The first article is here: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/11/journey-into-a-libertarian-future-part-i-%e2%80%93the-vision.html

Substitute "neoliberal" for "Libertarian" and note the operations of "government-like organizations" that already are systems of systems of predators and parasites that cooperate (while snarling and snapping and biting at each other) to kill and loot and drive the rest of us I guess "libertarians," whatever that term means any more, might be part of the Enabling Class that provides "policy cover" and arguments in support of the rapine that is in play

flora , October 28, 2017 at 11:06 pm

Thanks very much for this link. I just read the entire series.
Chilling.
Normally I'd dismiss this sort of fevered certainty as lost-cause deadender writing.
The series was written 6 years ago; before the Kansas Real Time Experiment; Obamacare ACA insurance-companies-will-sort-this-out; proposed TPP and TTIP and ISDS (arbitration and insurance companies will sort it all out). Now talk of sea-steading and "island" cities and organized voter suppression.
Chilling developments when placed against libertarian, anti-democratic, rise-of-the-supermen manifestos.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 3:53 pm

My dear Flora, you have the outline of a book here. One I would be glad to read. How can I help?

flora , October 28, 2017 at 4:34 pm

Thankyou.

I've just listened to the Mirowski interview* linked in the main article. According to Mirowski it is the neo-classicals who want a weakened national govt, not the neo-liberals. So I've confused the two and need a rethink.

Mirowski says (paraphrasing) the neo-liberals " changed the idea of what a market is " and believe that " the market is a super information processor that knows more than any human ever could ." (My aside: This is irrational, but that doesn't stop them.) Therefore
Mere humans should be subordinate to the market because the individual can never know as much as the market and cannot even know himself outside of his relation to the market. (This is also irrational and sounds despotic to me. Sounds like saying a person should be subordinate to computer programs.)
Neo-liberals, therefore, want a strong national govt that they control to promote and expand markets and the market ideology/idolatry everywhere. (Where have I heard that sort of quazi-political/philosophical argument used before?)

* starts at the 6 min mark. 18 min mark "super information processor"

https://majority.fm/2014/06/26/626-philip-mirowski-how-neoliberalism-survived-the-financial-meltdown/#

grebo , October 28, 2017 at 9:28 pm

Too bad Mises and Hayek didn't live in the UK or France or US or Canada or other long established democracy;

They did. von Hayek spent the 30s and 40s in the UK, the 50s in the US and retired to West Germany. von Mises went to Switzerland in 1934 then the US in 1940 and stayed there. They were, of course, esconced in academia (ie. in their own minds) the whole time.

flora , October 28, 2017 at 11:07 pm

ah. I gave them a benefit of doubt they may not have deserved. Thanks.

Rod , October 28, 2017 at 11:27 am

here is a bit of the antidote–discussed 10/24 in NC regarding the efforts to restore Puerto Rico–

Farmers' groups are now calling for the proliferation of community-controlled agricultural cooperatives that would grow food for local consumption. Like the renewable energy micro-grids, it's a model that is far less vulnerable to supply-chain shocks like hurricanes -- and it has the additional benefit of generating local wealth and increasing self-sufficiency.
As with the solar-powered generators, Puerto Rico's farmers aren't waiting for the emergency to subside before beginning this transition. On the contrary, groups like Boricuá Organization for Ecological Agriculture have "agroecology brigades" traveling from community to community to deliver seeds and soil so that residents can begin planting crops immediately. Katia Avilés-Vázquez, one of Boricuá's farmers, said of a recent brigade: "Today I saw the Puerto Rico that I dream being born. This week I worked with those who are giving it birth."

The CoOperative movement emerged in the USA at the end of the 19th century to provide funding and resources where there was plenty of need but not too much profit to be made.

concrete stuff, not ism , October 28, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Isn´t this one of the problems with -isms in general? Communism also has a thousand meanings depending on who you talk with. Could be everything between the theoretical Marx-Engels version and the practical realities of Soviet Union/China and other countries claiming to be "communists".

It seems to me that neoliberalism has been so efficient in establish itself thanks to:
1) being implemented by military forces = the rest of the world outside Europe/US, and now being maintained through the thorough militarization of western societies: police, censorship etc.
2) not focusing on being and -ism/ideology but on concrete advises/policies presented in numbers/graphs (the mathematification of economics)
3) useful idiots in the form of the identity politicians: if they would have been focused and using their vast amount of energy on countering the maths of economics (before Steve Keen´s Debunking Economics), instead of counting how many oppressed minority identities can dance on the head of white middle-aged man, it would have been much more difficult to implement the neoliberal policies. Or it would have at least accelerated the militarization of western societies so that the clash between class interests will start, as they always do.

Maybe better to focus on concrete stuff in arguments, like,
– public ownership of energy and infrastructure in order to guarantee all citizens access. E.g. Sweden privatized energy production and distribution in the 90s. During one winter there wasn´t electricity enough to heat houses because the private companies had done away with excess capacity. Privatization/neoliberalism = not serving the society with electricity when the society needs it the most.
– Public healthcare, education etc. Every % of profit a company requires for the owners, this means the same % less to the citizens
and so on.

All good for me, but not for you is a key part of neoliberalism
http://exiledonline.com/monster-koch-bust-charles-koch-used-social-security-to-lure-friedrich-von-hayek-to-america/

Modern example, free health care for senators and senate, but not for the people.

marym , October 28, 2017 at 1:03 pm

OK with most of this, but members of congress and staff don't get free healthcare. Though members have access to some free services, they and some staff purchase insurance on an ACA exchange called. Other staff remain on the pre-ACA FEHB program in place for other federal employees. Both programs are employer (taxpayer) subsidized so they only pay a portion of their premiums, plus whatever their deductible is. For the ACA policies, to get the premium subsidy they need to choose a gold plan, so will have about 10% in copays.

https://www.snopes.com/members-congress-health-care/

Eclair , October 28, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Nice exposition of the term, neoliberalism, Gaius. Thank you.

I think I first began seeing the term about eight years ago, right after the financial meltdown. About five years ago, I proposed writing a series of pieces for a group that had arisen out of the Denver Occupy movement, kind of an "Ask a Neo-Liberal," column, but most people had never even heard of the term and when I did a bit of research, I just could not pin down definitions or examples.

So, how do we begin to counter the main tenets of neoliberalism: glorification of 'the market' as the arbiter of lives, with the resulting dominance of competition over cooperation and the atomization and breakdown of social ties; we live in a 'dog eat dog' world, only the strong survive, self-reliance got me where I am?

Some days I think that this creed is the natural result of a Planet that has exceeded its carrying capacity of humans. When there were far fewer humans, cooperation and strong social bonds were the only means of survival. Really. The development of Neo-liberalism is Nature's way of getting rid of us.

But, Neo-liberalism decrees that the survivors will be, at best, rapacious, aggressive and materialistic. At worst, they will be socio-paths. It's like the Planet if only jaguars, vultures and leeches, out of all our animal relatives, survived. Do we want that to happen? OK, I realize that some of us have just given up and are sitting back to watch the slow motion disaster unfold.

First, admit that under the current system, the vast majority of us are Prey, and the .01% are Apex Predators, hunting us down, ripping, squeezing and sucking the life (and our livelihoods) out of us. How do our animal relatives who are not equipped with claws, sharp teeth and muscles built for speed, survive?

We run even faster, we develop camouflage and hide, we grow armor, we refine cooperative social skills and live in enormous colonies, (preferably underground!) where our vast numbers and ability to mobilize for work and protection provide security, we develop symbiotic relationships with larger and stronger organisms (although some might label this as 'vichy-ism,') we become almost invisible, yet with a deadly sting or poisonous coating, and we realize that sometimes we have die so that other members of the group can survive.

And, we realize that the area in which we live, our little eco-system, is crucial to our survival. We don't mess it up.

shinola , October 28, 2017 at 12:48 pm

"Under a neoliberal regime, everyone gets what they deserve. Big fish deserve their meal. Little fish deserve their death. And government sets the table for the feast."

Used to be called Social Darwinism.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 3:57 pm

Yup. The new part is the govt setting the table, though.

DJG , October 28, 2017 at 1:04 pm

How to talk about neoliberalism, which is indeed a mouthful? I was at a dinner last night of two generations of UofChicago products (as am I). We all agreed that the "Law & Economics" movement there should be dismissed out of hand as plain stupidity. I think that we spend too much time imagining that there is some Ideal Marketplace of Ideas in which the good ideas drive out the bad. And then we come up against Facebook and Twitter. So one way of talking about it is that the law has to govern markets: Neoliberalism is lawlessness. You can have law or you can have looting.

And we've certainly seen plenty of lawlessness.

Another way is to call it unconstitutional, if your interlocutor knows the U.S. Constitution. The U.S Constitution doesn't have much to say about economics, and it doesn't assume that laissez-faire is a-okay.

Further on it being unconstitutional: The U.S. Constitution brilliantly foresaw the need for some kind of bureacracy to maintain the government, rather than a claque of courtiers. So it set up the Post Office–that bureaucratic agent of oppression, Uncle Mises! It called for a census and a Census Bureau–woe betide us Uncle Milton!

You can either have the U.S. Constitution with its flaws, or you can have people eating bagels with gold foil and telling you that markets rule our lives? So which is it?

Maybe we should just call neoliberalism Gold-Bagel-ism. The antidote, as mentioned above in the thread by commentes like marym, is to return to some discussion of our Commonwealth and what to do to maintain it.

BillC , October 28, 2017 at 1:55 pm

Like water to the fish.

For me, the most effective opener (both in the sense of opening discussion as well as the listener's mind) is to state that neoliberalism is to nearly everyone in the "developed" world (and beyond) like water for fish: it's the environment in which we live, and thus becomes invisible to us. Excellent elaboration from above: it's as if citizens of the USSR had never heard of the word "communism;" instead it's just how life works.

If we can get this opening across, then the definitions and explanations discussed above in this thread may be much more effective.

ex-PFC Chuck , October 28, 2017 at 8:25 pm

Thank you Gaius for a great post – and a thanks as well are due to the authors of the good comments. As I've been reading these it occurred to me that perhaps a good conversation starter would be to ask the person what they thought of Margaret Thatcher's remark, "There's no such thing as society. There are only individuals and families." You'll have to wing it from there depending on the responses you get.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:03 pm

I also wonder aloud to them, "Why it is that when individuals do whatever they want it is called lawlessnes or anarchy, Bad Things, but when corporations do whatever they want it is considered a Good Thing?"

WobblyTelomeres , October 28, 2017 at 9:03 pm

Something like this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6mpHW3SMcc

[famous North Dallas 40 scene]

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 1:23 pm

The roots of neoliberalism in the Mont Pelerin Society is also well covered in MacLean's Democracy in Chains.

While I like this article, I disagree with the relationship of neoliberals to markets and to competition. Markets are held up to displace blame for decisions and policies made by men. The powerful use competition to explain why you deserve less and they deserve more, even when actual competition is not happening, and they actively work to prevent it.

Predators and prey do not compete for resources. A system that enshrines predation among humans is not based on a buyer and a seller making a transaction at the efficient price that maximizes each's utility and produces the best use of society's resources.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:13 pm

Agree, but for most of the people I talk to, that argument comes second. First I try to demonstrate that NeoLiberalism doing what it *says* it does is bad for us. Once they have that then I can proceed to 'NeoLiberalism doesn't even do what it says it does'. Although, I think that your point is a good first argument with small business people, "You mean that you think that your 5-employee cabinet shop makes you buddies with Elon Musk? (sub whatever rich guy your would aspire to be)" If the time seems right I might add, "He would have you on *toast*." If they think about that, they usually get it.

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 4:36 pm

I seldom even get to the point of being able to argue about these issues at all, much less take people thru the layers of consideration I've gone through over the years to reach my current model of how the world works.

I have been told that all of the books and weird websites that I read as I study a subject in depth are evidence that I lack objectivity about it and that people who know what they know from reading ordinary news have a clearer understanding than I.

TG , October 28, 2017 at 1:23 pm

"I suppose the neo-liberal philosophy could best be summed up by their rallying cry: the freedom to choose to own slaves."

"But that doesn't make sense. Freedom to choose is logically incompatible with slavery. And they never said that."

"Indeed. They would claim to be all for freedom, and against slavery. But if someone was profiting from owning slaves, they would fight tooth and nail to protect them, because any attempt at restricting the profits of slavery was seen as an intolerable corruption of the sacred free market. It was how they operated. Depending on what their rich patrons wanted at the time, sometimes they were all for free trade between the old nation states, and sometimes they demanded that the wealthy have the 'freedom' to restrict trade. It did not matter that what they said made no sense, or was logically incoherent, or at variance with reality. They never apologized, never explained, but only acted with total arrogance and self-confidence."

From "Space Battleship Scharnhorst and the Library of Doom."

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 3:59 pm

It makes sense if you believe in freedom to choose how to spend your money. How much choice you have, and how much choice you deserve to have, is measured fine-grain in dollars and cents. Other forms of power are deemed illegitimate.

it's sliding-scale individualism, where everyone is on their own, and wealth determines how much of an individual one is. The more of an individual you are, the more liberty you have, and liberty should be protected by the state.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:16 pm

Yes. I argue that one as "one dollar, one vote". People without a lot of dollars understand that on a gut level.

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 4:28 pm

I tend to think of "one dollar, one vote" when considering elections and politics; while at the same time neoliberalism is about interpersonal power without direct regard to the functioning of the state.

By this I mean that if, for example, Peter Thiel decides to spend his money to destroy you, and you don't have enough money to prevent it, then you deserve destruction. That's liberty. You're free to choose to spend your money defending yourself. Or not.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:46 pm

Exactly. People in a democracy have been raised to think that they count as much as the next person, no matter how rich or poor -- at least I hope that is till happening. Well, unless they are rich, who think they rightfully account for more. So when I say "one dollar, one vote" to poor/middle people (in an ironic sense, just so that is clear), they *feel* that it is not fair. If that catches, I point out that it goes against what they have been taught about how democracy works. I often bring this up in the context of campaign $$$ and Citizens United. It opposes the 'if they have the money then it's theirs' argument, aka 'the aristocratic' and 'it's his bat and ball'.

Scott , October 28, 2017 at 1:24 pm

For a long time now I have tried to reconstruct what it was in 1978 that convinced me it had become impossible to reform the United States.
Gaius has gotten me closer to a reconstruction of why I determined the only real solution was to create another nation, and kicked off what I recognize now as my own modeling.
My sense of what difference the goal is makes is a government that is just and fair for all citizens.
This is not the case in the neoliberal world is it. The goal of the neo-liberal world is to advance a milder form of scientific socialism, meaning the good people, well spoken well dressed no matter either in business or academia get the money for lives depicted on TV shows.
Working class people must become super humans to become educated and properly dressed to be accepted into a world of plenty and safety.
One thing I appreciate about Russians is a unique love of beauty. It is depressing that American's whole aesthetic sense revolves around cars and art is of no interest until it is ultra expensive.
Len Deighton's description of liberalism as developed in the 1840s which went on to mean the children of the newly enriched engineers who made hand built the Industrial Revolution making cotton underwear were given the money to for the schools of the old school rich people of Britain and all the rich peop