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Inverted Totalitarism == Managed Democracy == Neoliberalism

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Posted on Dec 14, 2010 by Biblioklept

The key ingredient of classical totalitarism is violence toward opponents. Also in all classic totalitarian states such as Nazi Germany, Italy, Spain and the USSR, the Party willws imposed via charismatic leader and the citizenry were kept mobilized to support the state and pledge unconditional allegiance to the party and the leader.  Sometimes population was wipe up to the state of frenzy by ideological purity campaigns or purges. Opponents were sent to concentration camps or exiled.

With inverted totalitarism the key idea different: a passive but thoroughly monitored and thoroughly brainwashed populace is the goal that can be achieve with just surveillance and propaganda components of four key components of totalitarism:

  1. Ideology and ideological mobilization,
  2. Surveillance
  3. Propaganda
  4. Violence toward opponents.

Other components are present but in more mild and somewhat modified form. Direct physical violence toward opponents is replaced with financial suppression which proved to be no less effective. Ideological propaganda paradoxically morphed in entertainment. Mobilization takes form of jingoism.

Here is Wikipedia take on the term (please remember that such entries in Wikipedia are heavily redacted ;-):

Inverted totalitarianism is a term coined by political philosopher Sheldon Wolin in 2003 to describe the emerging form of government of the United States. Wolin believes that the United States is increasingly turning into an illiberal democracy, and he uses the term "inverted totalitarianism" to illustrate the similarities and differences between the United States governmental system and totalitarian regimes such as Nazi Germany and the Stalinist Soviet Union.[1][2][3][4]

In Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco, inverted totalitarianism is described as a system where corporations have corrupted and subverted democracy and where economics trumps politics.[5] In inverted totalitarianism, every natural resource and every living being is commodified and exploited to collapse and the citizenry are lulled and manipulated into surrendering their liberties and their participation in their government by excess consumerism and sensationalism.

It's pretty much self-evident that the United States historically has a controversial and at times acrimonious relationship to the idea of domestic democracy. For example existence of slavery, absence of voting rights for woman and voting restrictions existed in USA till 50th. So in a very deep sense of this word the USA was a pretty backward state.

To define a preconditions for democracy we will use Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” address to Congress, on January 6, 1941. By all accounts they form an important base for understanding liberal democracy. Here are FDR’s own words, quoted at length:

The current situation in the USA a clear denial of all four freedoms although each to different degree. Some are denied more (the third and the forth), some less (the first and the second are denied not directly but via corporate ownership of mainstream media and implicit support of Evangelicals by power elite, especially in the South; remember bible reading in Bush II White House).

On August 17, 1975 (which is almost 40 years before Snowden) Senator Frank Church stated on NBC's Meet the Press without mentioning the name of the NSA about this agency (Wikipedia):

In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything — telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.

If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.[11]

It goes without saying that inverted totalitarism is much better then classic variants as close acquaintance with Gestapo or KGB is harmful for one's health. And that's what opponents of the regime faced. Here they just ignore the opponents and cut oxygen, in indirect way. Voice of opponents of the regime is just drown in the see of official propaganda and they are never invited to TV programs with significant popularity and influence on public opinion. As Orwell aptly noted "ignorance is strength" ;-). Also people who failed "loyalty test" might be simply remove from position where they can make a difference. Without too much noise. Net result is very similar, but for dissidents in case of inverted totalitarism teeth remain in place.

In inverted totalitarism the key method of dealing with opponents with ignore then or discredit them if they got certain level of popularity or try to incorporate them into existing two parties duopoly. Cutting oxygen for them, in an indirect way also works wonders. Voice of opponents of the regime is just drown in the sea of official propaganda; they are never (or rarely) invited to TV programs with significant popularity and influence on public opinion. As Orwell aptly noted "ignorance is strength" ;-). The net result is very similar, but for dissidents in case of inverted totalitarism teeth remain in place.

At the same time foreign policy is exactly the same: financial and military-industrial interests have consistently used ideology and propaganda to create fake and exaggerate existing foreign threats and thus overcome popular opposition to war and opposition to the extension of the empire. The term "democracy" is employed constantly to imply that it actually exists, yet the two-party form of government allows only the choice between two pre-selected representative of the elite, the situation eerily similar to one party rule practiced in the USSR. In other words, voice of the citizens is systematically ignored and suppressed and the election system ensure that the real power is concentrated in the hands of the elite ( aka top 1% ).

Financial support for the candidates is drawn primarily from large corporations, who operate the political levers of both parties to serve their own interests first. And they are extremely interested in wars that open new markets. As aptly formulations two-time Medal of Honor winner USMC Maj. Gen. Smedley D. Butler in 1933, that "War is a racket. The few profit -- the many pay." Every war in the American past was a matter of choice, not, as national ideology proclaims, a necessity.

In case of Bush and Obama administration inverted totalitarism was replaced or evolved into National Security State which uses the same combination of ruthless military expansion and foreign wars with "democratic" smokescreen in home policy. Under Obama administration, the tendencies that come to the foreground during Bush II administration, such as total surveillance actually became even more pronounced. He solidified started under Clinton the transition of the Democratic Party into a moderate wing of Republican party, serving mainly financial oligarchy. Due to his appetite for foreign wars, it is actually an open question whether Obama can be even classified as a moderate Republican such as Dwight D. Eisenhower.

As for foreign wars, the Obama White House, GOP, and Wall Street have always been on the same page, despite media assertions to the contrary. If you're still clinging to the foolish belief that the neoliberal, war-mongering Democratic Party is in any way better than the neoliberal, war-mongering Republican Party, I urge you to read Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion

The absence of permanent military and political mobilization along with merge of corporate interests of transnational and the state defines a new type of political system. Gone is racial component of totalitarism. Here is one quote from Amazon review of Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (New in Paper)

The author uses the terms "managed democracy" and "inverted totalitarianism" almost interchangeably to describe the marginalization of citizens to control the direction of the nation through the political process. He contrasts the inverted form with the totalitarianisms of Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia.

In those cases the citizenry were kept mobilized to support the state with no reluctance to suppress dissenters. In this new modern form, a passive populace is preferred. Barriers to participation like faulty management of elections are implemented, but more subtle and effective is the propaganda dispensed by schools and the media, not to mention the numbing component of entertainment, especially spectaculars.

Also disconcerting to the average person is constant technological change as well as an unsettled economy usually instigated by business entities. Moreover, the perpetual "war on terror" creates widespread apprehension. A fearful and distressed citizenry is less likely to have the energy to challenge the power of elites and governmental measures that supposedly provide protection, like the Patriot Act.

Essentially inverted totalitarism is adaptation of principles of Bolshevik party by the modern financial elite (accomplished via turncoat Trotskyites like James Burnham who changed camps after the WWII, later forming neocon camp). In his article, “Democracy in America is a Useful Fiction”, Hedges defines “inverted totalitarianism”

“Inverted totalitarianism" represents “the political coming of age of corporate power and the political demobilization of the citizenry. Inverted totalitarianism differs from classical forms of totalitarianism, which revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader, and finds its expression in the anonymity of the corporate state.

The corporate forces behind inverted totalitarianism do not, as classical totalitarian movements do, boast of replacing decaying structures with a new, revolutionary structure. They purport to honor electoral politics, freedom and the Constitution. But they so corrupt and manipulate the levers of power as to make democracy impossible.”

The manifesto of inverted totalitarism is widely considered to be so called Lewis Powell’s memo, but its role as a crystallizing force for the movement is probably exaggerated. The initial phase was probably McCarthy witch hunt which had shown efficiency of witch hunts and media pressure in demobilization of opposition even without sending supporters of opposite views into concentration camps. In 1970 this process of simply ostracizing political opponents was actually already twenty years old and in pretty developed stage. I suspect that it was mainly the creation of people like Richard Mellon Scaife, who inherited part of the vast Mellon fortune from his alcoholic mother and bunch of similar people who inherited vast fortunes. For example, Scaife money also helped fund television documentaries on the economics of Milton Friedman, the guru of the monetarist school of free-market economics. Those "anti-Titans of Industry" bankrolled not just the conservative legal movement, but the conservative movement in general.

It is very interesting how they managed to adopt and rectified the key parts of Bolsheviks' Party strategy. The irony is that methods developed to protect and expand communist ideology proved to be no less effective in protecting and expanding "capitalist ideology". This might be a classic case of adoption of the principles of bitter enemy. Among them:

  1. Control the press. Journalists are just soldiers of the Party. Remunerate royally whose who "served with distinction". Silence those who are not: for journalist silencing is as close to physical death as one can get.
  2. Ideology needs to be supported be powerful research institutions (aka "think tanks") and adapted to modern realities by captured institutions and paid "intellectual agents" at key university departments. The goal is total domination of the particular ideology in all mass media channels, books, universities, etc. There is power in numbers of think tanks, university endowments, etc. Another angle of this PR campaign is to make the line between research and PR as fuzzy as possible, especially in economics, where key players can be cheaply bought, and those who can't be bought treated as dissenting journalist -- and that means silenced.
  3. Promise anything to be elected, adopting, if necessary, the most attractive to electorate parts of the opponents platform. After election behave as you please and do completely opposite as train already left that station.
  4. Control all major channels of media and indirectly censor opposing view. Avoid direct censure unless absolutely necessary, as it alienates people and fuel discontent. Just deprive then of the audience and kill with kindness: provide huge stimulus for those who voluntarily "follow the Party line".
  5. Ensure that textbooks presents historical and other events only through the prism of Party mythology and make part of the mythology sacred so that those who try to attack can be accused in undermining the foundations of civil society. Create and cultivate a newspeak that makes expression of opposing ideas more difficult and more suspect.
  6. Demonize the opponent and project your worst inclinations and deeds on them. It had long been a practice of more conservative politicians to refer to liberal reforms such as child labor laws and environment protection measures as "Communist" or "Red plots." Few people understand that for people of the USSR and Eastern Europe in media CIA played the same sinister role KGP used to play in the USA.
  7. Never admit that you are wrong. Explain all failures by enemy actions, natural disasters or due to some other third party.
  8. Subvert the law system to protect the Party members and never criminally charge the top brass no matter what are actual transgressions. Like Mussolini used to say -- for friends everything, for enemies the law.
James Burnham in his book, The Machiavellians, argued and developed his theory that the emerging new neoliberal élite would better serve its own interests if it retained some democratic trappings:

Here is an interesting review of Wolin book: Opinion Inverted Totalitarianism in the US

The US is a self-declared empire that scholars have labeled a “superpower” since it achieved military and cultural hegemony in a “unipolar moment” at the “end of history” while seeking “full-spectrum dominance” of land, sea, air, cyberspace and outer space, as stated in the Department of Defense’s Joint Vision 2020.

In order to impede the Soviet Union’s imperial projects, the US likewise slung itself astride the globe using multilateral institutions, spy networks and covert operations which produced a “Cold War” that eliminated the idea of peacetime and demanded permanent military mobilization bolstered by the military-industrial-congressional complex while placing citizens on high alert against nuclear threats and a domestic infestation of “reds” that excused the government’s surveillance of citizens.

The Constitution, which limits power, and a democracy, which requires local control and citizen empowerment, are both profaned by superpower, which defies limits in its quest for global supremacy, overshadowing localities and overpowering citizens while projecting power outward and inward simultaneously.

To describe this configuration, the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin coined the term “inverted totalitarianism.”

In old totalitarianism, the state dominated the economy while iconic demagogues who permanently held office mobilized citizens and openly flaunted the blanketing power of the new order they were imposing. With inverted totalitarianism, the economy dominates the state wherein temporary “representatives” serve a permanent corporate regime that demobilizes citizens while claiming to protect individual liberty by reducing state power, thus concealing the totalitarian character.

In terms of the two-party system, Republicans are avid, pitiless, intolerant, unbending, predatory, anti-democratic, iron-willed ideologues who’ve sold out to big business while courting big religion, and Democrats ape them, thus creating a one-party climate that fulfills the wishes of corporate “citizens” while systematically neglecting the needs of regular citizens, producing an apathetic electorate that’s lost hope in the political process.

State power is legitimated by media events called “elections” that elites have learned to control through finance, marketing and media ownership, while politicians accept bribes called “contributions” that are considered “speech” – as defined by the Supreme Court, effectively using “free speech” to silence the citizenry while replacing constituents with lobbyists.

Citizens fear job loss and benefit loss due to downsizing and outsourcing, which maximize “efficiency,” while the government shreds social safety nets for the sake of “efficiency,” leaving citizens vulnerable and yet unable to protect themselves when states outlaw collective bargaining, thus criminalizing worker self-defense.

Contrary to popular belief, slashing federal programs enhances state power by making government less unwieldy and easier to control since it dilutes public involvement, thus depleting public power and solidifying executive power.

The idea of democracy is emptied of substance and used as a slogan to justify military invasion, occupation and torture while the doctrine of “preemptive war” renders all acts of aggression as defensive and undertaken for the sake of insuring “stability.” For example, deference to US demands and the protection of corporate assets – in a war against terrorism that lacks a specific geographic location and thus requires the globe-girdling ability to strike anywhere anytime.

Instead of a politburo circulating state propaganda that touts one political ideology, the corporate media feigns democratic debate that features “both sides” who are portrayed as extreme opposites but actually reflect a slim range of political discourse, thus giving the appearance of freedom while relying on White House, State Department and Pentagon spokespeople to supply the “official” version of political affairs, which are broadcast into every home through television, thus manipulating the public rather than including them.

Democracy functions as a useful myth that obscures the totalitarian atmosphere in which citizens feel politically impotent and fearful as they are dwarfed by giant, rigid, top-heavy bureaucracies that respond to the protocols of a corporate state that collaborates with telecommunications companies to monitor the population and develop detailed digital profiles of citizens while local police forces cooperate with federal law enforcement agencies, augmenting the burgeoning prison industry as the state loosens laws that forbid army soldiers from patrolling US streets.

The corporate state defunds public programs and forces everything into the market, including health, education, social security, pensions, public broadcasting, prisons, water, soldiers, surveillance and national intelligence, while businesses commodify the environment and patent DNA.

In a way the US are now victim of their own success as the system created to fight they arch-enemy, the USSR is now destroying host country itself.

Among books on the subject I can recommend Democracy Incorporated Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism by Professor Shaldon Wolin. Here is a coupe of Amazon reviews:

R. L. Huff "An old reader" (Louisiana) - See all my reviews

The author is absolutely right -, October 10, 2012

- yet what's new?

When has Democracy in America not been managed? From robber baron "Lords of Creation" mouthing "the public be damned," to political bosses admonishing their machine electorate to vote early and often, irresponsible private elites and their bought "public servants" have always formed an entrenched nexus of privilege. Wolin is aware of these precedents, and alludes to them; but like Progressives of a century ago, he appeals to some lost Grecian golden age from which we've somehow allowed ourselves to fall. There was never such an era. What you see is what there always was. The exceptions have been just that.

Nor has modern media really altered this trajectory. The "soft totalitarianism" produced by 9/11 was no different from the managed hysteria over Pearl Harbor, nor Hearst's profit-driven newspaper crusade to remember the Maine, nor Lincoln's manipulation of Ft. Sumter. Perhaps the root problem is the very concept of American democracy as "consensus," so that we all "meet in the middle." But what if that consensus allows for white supremacy, Protestant ascendancy, or other inherently undemocratic cultural heritage? This dichotomy has been part of the American experience since the first colonies were founded as private proprietaries. "American values" then seem but a political grafting onto a granted social order where everyone "knows" his/her place and expectations.

Again, I don't dispute the author's "timely message for our age." It's just that an ancient fart like me knows this age differs from others only in style, not substance. As George Bernard Shaw wrote in "Major Barbara": "The government of your country! I am the government of your country: I and Lazarus. Do you suppose that you and a half a dozen amateurs like you, sitting in a row in that foolish gabble shop, can govern Undershaft and Lazarus? No, my friend: you will do what pays us. You will make war when it suits us, and keep peace when it doesn't. You will find out that trade requires certain measures when we have decided on those measures. When I want anything to keep my dividends up, you will discover that my want is a national need. When other people want something to keep my dividends down, you will call out the police and the military. And in return you will have the support and applause of my newspapers, and the delight of imagining you are a great statesman. Government of your country! Be off with you, my boy, and play with your caucasus and leading articles and historic parties and great leaders and burning questions and the rest of your toys. I am going back to my countinghouse to pay the piper and call the tune."

L. Frederick Fenster, MD

A brilliant formulation of the American dilemma June 18, 2008

Author makes a compelling case that the direction of our contemporary politics is toward a political system that is the very opposite of what our leadership, the mass media, opinion leaders, think tanks etc. claim it is--ie, the world's foremost exemplary of democracy. The consummated union of corporate power and governmental power has resulted in an American version of a total system, which he calls "inverted totalitarianism."

Unlike traditional totalitarianism (Nazi Germany, Stalin's USSR etc.) the American system of control is not to mobilize the populace, but to distract it, to encourage a sense of dependency (by cultivating fear, calling everything a "war,") and by actaully encouraging political disengagement (claiming that our government, which is supposed to be democracy's agent for helping promote the common good, is actually the "enemy.") The destiny of the USA is fast slipping from popular control, while our citizenry shows little interest or concern.
A very provocative book.
1 Comment |

John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE™ VOICE

Managed Democracy, Superpower, and alas, even, "Inverted Totalitarianism" June 17, 2008
This is a seminal work which "tells it like it is" concerning the current power arrangements in the American political system, as well as the political leadership's aspirations towards global empire. Prof. Wolin sets the tone of his work on page 1, with the juxtaposition of the imagery of Adolph Hitler landing in a small plane at the 1934 rally at Nuremberg, as shown in Leni Reifenstahl's "Triumph of the Will," and George Bush landing on the aircraft carrier "Abraham Lincoln" in 2003. Certainly one of the dominant themes of the book is comparing the operating power structure in the United States with various totalitarian regimes of the past: Stalinist Russia, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Prof Wolin emphasizes the differences between these totalitarian powers, and the softer concentration of power in the United States, which he dubs "inverted totalitarianism."

The book is rich with insights - the best way to savor Prof. Wolin's erudition is in small chunks. He shows the influence of the ancient Greeks, both Plato, as well as the Athenian political operative, Alcibiades, on the neo-cons "founding father," Leo Strauss. He examines in detail the efforts of some of America's own "founding fathers," particularly Madison and Hamilton, on how democracy should be contained and managed. He quotes at length an amazingly prescient passage from Tocqueville predicting one possible scenario for the future of the American democracy, which ends with "...and finally reduces each nation to nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd" (p79-80). He also discusses the profound impact of the "National Security Strategy of the United States" document of 2002 on the traditional vision of the values and rights expressed in the Constitution. ....

He seasons his learning with nuggets of wry wit: "such a verdict after Florida would be an expression of black (sic) humor. (p102); "... to endorse a candidate or a party for reasons that typically pay only lip service to the basic need of most citizens...It speciousness is the political counterpart to products that promise beauty, health, relief of pain, and an end to erectile dysfunction." (p231); and "No collective memory means no collective guilt; surely My Lai is the name of a rock star." (p275). He also has a knack for using the popular phrases for a given sentiment, for example: "get government off our backs."

As other observers have also noted, there is the sharpest of contrasts between FDR's maxim that "we have nothing to fear but fear itself" to the current constant promotion of holding the citizenry in a constant state of fear, admirably summarized on the domestic front by: "Downsizing, reorganization, bubbles bursting, unions busted, quickly outdated skills, and transfer of jobs abroad create not just fear but an economy of fear..." (p67)

For all the above, Prof. Wolin deserves 5 and ½ stars, but I did think his presentation was marred by poor organization, redundancy, and lapses into turgid prose. For example, on p. 190, long after the issue has been thoroughly discussed, he says "The administration seized on 9/11 to declare a `war on terrorism.'" Similarly, on p. 202 he says "Historically, the legislative branch was supposed to be the power closest to the citizenry..." Numerous other examples could be cited. Also, I tried - real hard- to come to terms with the term "inverted totalitarianism" but just never could - the intrinsic meaning simply is not there, like as in "managed democracy." Perhaps something like a "hyper-concentration of power" conveys the meaning better.

Overall though, the book is an essential read for anyone interested in the current state of the world.



NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

[Oct 01, 2020] America is on The Road to [Color] Revolution

Hannah Arendt books is junk, as elements of totalitarim are present inmst modern sociery, espcally neoliberal. The USA after 9/11 is one example.
Notable quotes:
"... Some émigrés who grew up in Soviet-dominated societies are sounding the alarm about the West's dangerous drift into conditions like they once escaped. They feel it in their bones. Reading Arendt in the shadow of the extraordinary rise of identity-politics leftism and the broader crisis of liberal democracy is to confront a deeply unsettling truth: that these refugees from communism may be right. ..."
"... Regarding transgressive sexuality as a social good was not an innovation of the sexual revolution. Like the contemporary West, late imperial Russia was also awash in what historian James Billington called "a preoccupation with sex that is quite without parallel in earlier Russian culture." Among the social and intellectual elite, sexual adventurism, celebrations of perversion, and all manner of sensuality was common. And not just among the elites: the laboring masses, alone in the city, with no church to bind their consciences with guilt, or village gossips to shame them, found comfort in sex. ..."
"... Heda Margolius Kovály, a disillusioned Czech communist whose husband was executed after a 1952 show trial, reflects on the willingness of people to turn their backs on the truth for the sake of an ideological cause: It is not hard for a totalitarian regime to keep people ignorant. Once you relinquish your freedom for the sake of "understood necessity," for Party discipline, for conformity with the regime, for the greatness and glory of the Fatherland, or for any of the substitutes that are so convincingly offered, you cede your claim to the truth. Slowly, drop by drop, your life begins to ooze away just as surely as if you had slashed your wrists; you have voluntarily condemned yourself to helplessness. ..."
"... You can also surrender it by hating others more than you love truth. ..."
"... In 2019, Zach Goldberg, a political science PhD student at Georgia Tech, found that over a nine-year period, the rate of news stories using progressive jargon associated with left-wing critical theory and social justice concepts shot into the stratosphere. The mainstream media is framing the general public's understanding of news and events according to what was until very recently a radical ideology confined to left-wing intellectual elites. ..."
"... For a man desperate to believe, totalitarian ideology is more precious than life itself. "He may even be willing to help in his own prosecution and frame his own death sentence if only his status as a member of the movement is not touched," Arendt wrote. Indeed, the files of the 1930s Stalinist show trials are full of false confessions by devout communists who were prepared to die rather than admit that communism was a lie. ..."
"... Similarly, under the guise of antiracism training, U.S. corporations, institutions, and even churches are frog-marching their employees through courses in which whites and other ideologically disfavored people are compelled to confess their "privilege." Some do, eagerly. ..."
"... "Totalitarianism in power invariably replaces all first-rate talents, regardless of their sympathies, with those crackpots and fools whose lack of intellect and creativity is still the best guarantee of their loyalty," wrote Arendt. ..."
"... President Donald Trump is a rule-breaker in many ways. He once said, "I value loyalty above everything else -- more than brains, more than drive, and more than energy." ..."
"... Trump's exaltation of personal loyalty over expertise is discreditable and corrupting. But how can liberals complain? Loyalty to the group or the tribe is at the core of leftist identity politics. This is at the root of "cancel culture," in which transgressors, however minor their infractions, find themselves cast into outer darkness. ..."
"... Beyond cancel culture, which is reactive, institutions are embedding within their systems ideological tests to weed out dissenters. At universities within the University of California system, for example, teachers who want to apply for tenure-track positions have to affirm their commitment to "equity, diversity, and inclusion" -- and to have demonstrated it, even if it has nothing to do with their field. ..."
"... De facto loyalty tests to diversity ideology are common in corporate America, and have now found their way into STEM faculties and publications, as well as into medical science. ..."
"... A Soviet-born U.S. physician told me -- after I agreed not to use his name -- that social justice ideology is forcing physicians like him to ignore their medical training and judgment when it comes to transgender health. He said it is not permissible within his institution to advise gender dysphoric patients against treatments they desire, even when a physician believes it is not in that particular patient's health interest. ..."
"... Like the imperial Russians, we Americans may well be living in a fog of self-deception about our own country's stability. It only takes a catalyst like war, economic depression, plague, or some other severe and prolonged crisis that brings the legitimacy of the liberal democratic order into question. ..."
"... If totalitarianism comes, it will almost certainly not be Stalinism 2.0, with gulags, secret police, and an all-powerful central state. That would not be necessary. The power of surveillance technology, woke capitalism, and fear of losing bourgeois comfort and status will probably be enough to compel conformity by most. ..."
"... At least at first, it will be a soft totalitarianism, more on the Brave New World model than the Nineteen Eighty-Four one -- but totalitarianism all the same. ..."
Oct 01, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

n 1951, six years after the end of World War II, the political philosopher Hannah Arendt published The Origins of Totalitarianism , in an attempt to understand how such radical ideologies of both left and right had seized the minds of so many in the 20th century. Arendt's book used to be a staple in college history and political theory courses. With the end of the Cold War 30 years behind us, who today talks about totalitarianism? Almost no one -- and if they do, it's about Nazism, not communism.

Unsurprisingly, young Americans suffer from profound ignorance of what communism was, and is. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit educational and research organization established by the U.S. Congress, carries out an annual survey of Americans to determine their attitudes toward communism, socialism, and Marxism in general. In 2019, the survey found that a startling number of Americans of the post-Cold War generations have favorable views of left-wing radicalism, and only 57 percent of Millennials believe that the Declaration of Independence offers a better guarantee of "freedom and equality" than The Communist Manifesto .

Some émigrés who grew up in Soviet-dominated societies are sounding the alarm about the West's dangerous drift into conditions like they once escaped. They feel it in their bones. Reading Arendt in the shadow of the extraordinary rise of identity-politics leftism and the broader crisis of liberal democracy is to confront a deeply unsettling truth: that these refugees from communism may be right.

What does contemporary America have in common with pre-Nazi Germany and pre-Soviet Russia? Arendt's analysis found a number of social, political, and cultural conditions that tilled the ground for those nations to welcome poisonous ideas.

Loneliness and Social Atomization

Totalitarian movements, said Arendt, are "mass organizations of atomized, isolated individuals." She continues:

What prepares men for totalitarian domination in the non-totalitarian world, is the fact that loneliness, once a borderline experience usually suffered in certain marginal social conditions like old age, has become an everyday experience of the ever-growing masses of our century.

The political theorist wrote those words in the 1950s, a period we look back on as a golden age of community cohesion. Today, loneliness is widely recognized by scientists as a critical social and even medical problem. In the year 2000, Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam published Bowling Alone , an acclaimed study documenting the steep decline of civil society since midcentury and the resulting atomization of America.

Since Putnam's book, we have experienced the rise of social media networks offering a facsimile of "connection." Yet we grow ever lonelier and more isolated. It is no coincidence that Millennials and members of Generation Z register much higher rates of loneliness than older Americans, as well as significantly greater support for socialism. It's as if they aspire to a politics that can replace the community they wish they had.

Sooner or later, loneliness and isolation are bound to have political effects. The masses supporting totalitarian movements, says Arendt, grew "out of the fragments of a highly atomized society whose competitive structure and concomitant loneliness of the individual had been held in check only through membership in a class."

A polity filled with alienated individuals who share little sense of community and purpose, and who lack civic trust, are prime targets for totalitarian ideologies and leaders who promise solidarity and meaning.

Losing Faith in Hierarchies and Institutions

Surveying the political scene in Germany during the 1920s, Arendt noted a "terrifying negative solidarity" among people from diverse classes, united in their belief that all political parties were populated by fools. Likewise, in late imperial Russia, Marxist radicals finally gained traction with the middle class when the Tsarist government failed miserably to deal with a catastrophic 1891-92 famine.

Are we today really so different? According to Gallup, Americans' confidence in their institutions -- political, media, religious, legal, medical, corporate -- is at historic lows across the board. Only the military, the police, and small businesses retain the strong confidence of over 50 percent. Democratic norms are under strain in many industrialized nations, with the support for mainstream parties of left and right in decline.

In Europe of the 1920s, says Arendt, the first indication of the coming totalitarianism was the failure of established parties to attract younger members, and the willingness of the passive masses to consider radical alternatives to discredited establishment parties.

A loss of faith in democratic politics is a sign of a deeper and broader instability. As radical individualism has become more pervasive in our consumerist-driven culture, people have ceased to look outside themselves to religion or other traditional sources of authoritative meaning.

But this imposes a terrible psychological burden on the individual. Many of them may seek deliverance as the alienated masses of pre-totalitarian Germany and Russia did: in the certainties and solidarity offered by totalitarian movements.

The Desire to Transgress and Destroy

The post-World War I generation of writers and artists were marked by their embrace and celebration of anti-cultural philosophies and acts as a way of demonstrating contempt for established hierarchies, institutions, and ways of thinking. Arendt said of some writers who glorified the will to power, "They read not Darwin but the Marquis de Sade."

Her point was that these authors did not avail themselves of respectable intellectual theories to justify their transgressiveness. They immersed themselves in what is basest in human nature and regarded doing so as acts of liberation. Arendt's judgment of the postwar elites who recklessly thumbed their noses at respectability could easily apply to those of our own day who shove aside liberal principles like fair play, race neutrality, free speech, and free association as obstacles to equality. Arendt wrote:

The members of the elite did not object at all to paying a price, the destruction of civilization, for the fun of seeing how those who had been excluded unjustly in the past forced their way into it.

One thinks of the university presidents and news media executives of our time who have abandoned professional standards and old-fashioned liberal values to embrace "antiracism" and other trendy left-wing causes. Some left-wing politicians and other progressive elites either cheered for the George Floyd race riots, or, like New York mayor Bill De Blasio, stood idly by as thuggish mobs looted and burned stores in the name of social justice.

Regarding transgressive sexuality as a social good was not an innovation of the sexual revolution. Like the contemporary West, late imperial Russia was also awash in what historian James Billington called "a preoccupation with sex that is quite without parallel in earlier Russian culture." Among the social and intellectual elite, sexual adventurism, celebrations of perversion, and all manner of sensuality was common. And not just among the elites: the laboring masses, alone in the city, with no church to bind their consciences with guilt, or village gossips to shame them, found comfort in sex.

The end of official censorship after the 1905 uprising opened the floodgates to erotic literature, a prefiguration of our century's technology-driven pornographic revolution. "The sensualism of the age was in a very intimate sense demonic," Billington writes, detailing how the figure of Satan became a Romantic hero for artists and musicians. They admired the diabolic willingness to stop at nothing to satisfy one's desires and to exercise one's will.

Propaganda and the Willingness to Believe Useful Lies

Heda Margolius Kovály, a disillusioned Czech communist whose husband was executed after a 1952 show trial, reflects on the willingness of people to turn their backs on the truth for the sake of an ideological cause: It is not hard for a totalitarian regime to keep people ignorant. Once you relinquish your freedom for the sake of "understood necessity," for Party discipline, for conformity with the regime, for the greatness and glory of the Fatherland, or for any of the substitutes that are so convincingly offered, you cede your claim to the truth. Slowly, drop by drop, your life begins to ooze away just as surely as if you had slashed your wrists; you have voluntarily condemned yourself to helplessness.

You can surrender your moral responsibility to be honest out of misplaced idealism. You can also surrender it by hating others more than you love truth. In pre-totalitarian states, Arendt writes, hating "respectable society" was so narcotic, that elites were willing to accept "monstrous forgeries in historiography" for the sake of striking back at those who, in their view, had "excluded the underprivileged and oppressed from the memory of mankind."

For example, many who didn't really accept Marx's revisionist take on history -- that it is a manifestation of class struggle -- were willing to affirm it because it was a useful tool to punish those they despised. Consider the lavish praise with which elites have welcomed The New York Times 's "1619 Project," a vigorously revisionist attempt to make slavery the central fact of the American founding.

Despite the project's core claim (that the patriots fought the American Revolution to preserve slavery) having been thoroughly debunked, journalism's elite saw fit to award the project's director a Pulitzer Prize for her contribution.

Along those lines, propaganda helps change the world by creating a false impression of the way the world is. Writes Arendt, "The force possessed by totalitarian propaganda lies in its ability to shut the masses off from the real world."

In 2019, Zach Goldberg, a political science PhD student at Georgia Tech, found that over a nine-year period, the rate of news stories using progressive jargon associated with left-wing critical theory and social justice concepts shot into the stratosphere. The mainstream media is framing the general public's understanding of news and events according to what was until very recently a radical ideology confined to left-wing intellectual elites.

A Mania for Ideology

Why are people so willing to believe demonstrable lies? The desperation alienated people have for a story that helps them make sense of their lives and tells them what to do explains it. For a man desperate to believe, totalitarian ideology is more precious than life itself. "He may even be willing to help in his own prosecution and frame his own death sentence if only his status as a member of the movement is not touched," Arendt wrote. Indeed, the files of the 1930s Stalinist show trials are full of false confessions by devout communists who were prepared to die rather than admit that communism was a lie.

Similarly, under the guise of antiracism training, U.S. corporations, institutions, and even churches are frog-marching their employees through courses in which whites and other ideologically disfavored people are compelled to confess their "privilege." Some do, eagerly.

One of contemporary progressivism's commonly used phrases -- the personal is political -- captures the totalitarian spirit, which seeks to infuse all aspects of life with political consciousness. Indeed, the Left today pushes its ideology ever deeper into the private realm, leaving fewer and fewer areas of daily life uncontested. This, warned Arendt, is a sign that a society is ripening for totalitarianism, because that is what totalitarianism essentially is: the politicization of everything.

Early in the Stalin era, N. V. Krylenko, a Soviet commissar (political officer), steamrolled over chess players who wanted to keep politics out of the game.

"We must finish once and for all with the neutrality of chess," he said. "We must condemn once and for all the formula 'chess for the sake of chess,' like the formula 'art for art's sake.' We must organize shockbrigades of chess-players, and begin immediate realization of a Five-Year Plan for chess."

A Society That Values Loyalty More Than Expertise

"Totalitarianism in power invariably replaces all first-rate talents, regardless of their sympathies, with those crackpots and fools whose lack of intellect and creativity is still the best guarantee of their loyalty," wrote Arendt.

All politicians prize loyalty, but few would regard it as the most important quality in government, and even fewer would admit it. But President Donald Trump is a rule-breaker in many ways. He once said, "I value loyalty above everything else -- more than brains, more than drive, and more than energy."

Trump's exaltation of personal loyalty over expertise is discreditable and corrupting. But how can liberals complain? Loyalty to the group or the tribe is at the core of leftist identity politics. This is at the root of "cancel culture," in which transgressors, however minor their infractions, find themselves cast into outer darkness.

Beyond cancel culture, which is reactive, institutions are embedding within their systems ideological tests to weed out dissenters. At universities within the University of California system, for example, teachers who want to apply for tenure-track positions have to affirm their commitment to "equity, diversity, and inclusion" -- and to have demonstrated it, even if it has nothing to do with their field.

De facto loyalty tests to diversity ideology are common in corporate America, and have now found their way into STEM faculties and publications, as well as into medical science.

A Soviet-born U.S. physician told me -- after I agreed not to use his name -- that social justice ideology is forcing physicians like him to ignore their medical training and judgment when it comes to transgender health. He said it is not permissible within his institution to advise gender dysphoric patients against treatments they desire, even when a physician believes it is not in that particular patient's health interest.

Intellectuals Are the Revolutionary Class

In our populist era, politicians and talk-radio polemicists can rile up a crowd by denouncing elites. Nevertheless, in most societies, intellectual and cultural elites determine its long-term direction.

"[T]he key actor in history is not individual genius but rather the network and the new institutions that are created out of those networks," writes sociologist James Davison Hunter. Though a revolutionary idea might emerge from the masses, says Hunter, "it does not gain traction until it is embraced and propagated by elites" working through their "well-developed networks and powerful institutions."

This is why it is critically important to keep an eye on intellectual discourse. Arendt warns that the twentieth-century totalitarian experience shows how a determined and skillful minority can come to rule over an indifferent and disengaged majority. In our time, most people regard the politically correct insanity of campus radicals as not worthy of attention. They mock them as "snowflakes" and "social justice warriors."

This is a serious mistake. In radicalizing the broader class of elites, social justice warriors (SJWs) are playing a similar historic role to the Bolsheviks in prerevolutionary Russia. SJW ranks are full of middle-class, secular, educated young people wracked by guilt and anxiety over their own privilege, alienated from their own traditions, and desperate to identify with something, or someone, to give them a sense of wholeness and purpose.

For them, the ideology of social justice -- as defined not by church teaching but by critical theorists in the academy -- functions as a pseudo-religion. Far from being confined to campuses and dry intellectual journals, SJW ideals are transforming elite institutions and networks of power and influence. They are marching through the institutions of bourgeois society, conquering them, and using them to transform the world. For example, when the LGBT cause was adopted by corporate America, its ultimate victory was assured.

Futuristic Fatalism

To be sure, none of this means that totalitarianism is inevitable. But they do signify that the weaknesses in contemporary American society are consonant with a pre-totalitarian state. Like the imperial Russians, we Americans may well be living in a fog of self-deception about our own country's stability. It only takes a catalyst like war, economic depression, plague, or some other severe and prolonged crisis that brings the legitimacy of the liberal democratic order into question.

As Arendt warned more than half a century ago:

There is a great temptation to explain away the intrinsically incredible by means of liberal rationalizations. In each one of us, there lurks such a liberal, wheedling us with the voice of common sense. The road to totalitarian domination leads through many intermediate stages for which we can find numerous analogues and precedents. . . . What common sense and "normal people" refuse to believe is that everything is possible.

If totalitarianism comes, it will almost certainly not be Stalinism 2.0, with gulags, secret police, and an all-powerful central state. That would not be necessary. The power of surveillance technology, woke capitalism, and fear of losing bourgeois comfort and status will probably be enough to compel conformity by most.

At least at first, it will be a soft totalitarianism, more on the Brave New World model than the Nineteen Eighty-Four one -- but totalitarianism all the same.

A Czech immigrant to the U.S. who works in academia told me that this "is not supposed to be happening here" -- but it is.

"Any time I try to explain current events and their meaning to my friends or acquaintances, I am met with blank stares or downright nonsense," he says. His own young adult children, born in America and indoctrinated into identity-politics ideology by public schooling, think their father is an alarmist kook. Can anyone blame a man like this for concluding that Americans are going to have to learn about the evils of totalitarianism the hard way?

From the book LIVE NOT BY LIES by Rod Dreher, to be published on September 29, 2020 by Sentinel, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2020 by Rod Dreher.


Augustine a day ago

I grew up under a socialist authoritarian state and I recognized it in the US 20 years ago. In the Patriot Act, to be more precise. It was the very same kind of law that I saw enacted in the early 70s back home that turned the tide of the regime to full out repression. You're noticing it just now because authoritarianism became bipartisan, though you have been quite comfortable since your tribe started it.

Eliavy Augustine 21 hours ago

The week after 9/11, I wrote President Bush asking him not to let something like the Patriot Act happen. I never got a reply and wondered ever since if it went astray (it was via email) or if anyone even read it.

Feral Finster Eliavy 13 hours ago

You are getting warmer.

I an not a 9/11 Truther, but 9/11 was hella convenient for those who wanted to saw things like the Bill of Rights as an outdated obstacle to Empire.


kenofken
Feral Finster 9 hours ago

The Bill of Rights got dumped in the drug war long before that.

Just Stop Digging kenofken 9 hours ago

<sigh> There are credible arguments to be made against the drug war, for sure, but how exactly did the Bill of Rights get "dumped"? OK I'm willing to concede that the Fourth Amendment got stretched beyond recognition to accommodate no-knock warrants and the like. Which of the rest of the Bill of Rights got dumped by the drug war?

If only liberals actually understood and believed in the 9th and 10th amendments, OTOH, we might be able to restore federal governance to something resembling sanity.

a Texas libertarian Just Stop Digging 8 hours ago

Well it is clear those last two of the original amendments have been almost totally forgotten. To speak of them is near treason at this point.

Sean Whitney Just Stop Digging 7 hours ago

Both the 9th and 10th Amendments were finally destroyed due to the drug war. The 2nd is collateral damage due to the increased use of home invasion raids by law enforcement see the "firearm enhancements". It can easily be argued that the increased militarization of law enforcement due to the drug war is a violation of the 3rd Amendment. The long sentences due given to people for possessing or selling a plant are a violation of the 8th Amendment. The right to a jury trial has been gutted via voir dire and the refusal of courts to recognize the natural right of all citizens to nullify unjust laws.

I am a liberal in the sense Patrick Henry was a liberal. We should have stuck with the Articles of Confederation.

SimpleMachine88 Sean Whitney 7 hours ago

It can't be easily argued that the drug war runs into the 3rd amendment, that is ridiculous. Nor is the 8th amendment really a great argument, although I do get where you're coming from.

It's obviously completely contemptuous of the idea of enumerated powers like you said before though. Why would you not mention the 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments, which had to be gutted for it, or the ways it runs afoul of the 14th, or basically ignores the precedent set by the 18th and 21st amendments.

Just Stop Digging Sean Whitney 6 hours ago

I too see where you're coming from, though I think the 9th and 10th amendments were already in tatters long before the drug war began. For that blame the now 100 year plus build up of the administrative state (particularly under FDR and LBJ) and the Court's enabling of it through imaginative readings of the Commerce Clause, delegation of powers, etc. Also blame Congress's total dereliction of duty per the above.

Add on the scheme by which the Federal govt takes everyone's money, shuffles it around and then hands it back to the states, but only under the condition that they do what the Federal govt tells them to do. Thus no state actually gets to build/maintain roads, develop housing programs, expand educational access or testing, and essentially anything else without following a million federal edicts.

Mark Thomason Eliavy 8 hours ago

Dubya's father had people who read such mail, and who answered it in his name. They seem to have passed on to him some sort of summaries of concerns.

I got from him one such answer.

The son never did that. Never.

JonF311 Augustine 15 hours ago

The very fact that a website like this exists, and we comment on it, suggests that.. No, we are nit under Totalitarian oppression or even an authoritarian regime. Would Stalin or even Brezhnev have tolerated a TAC critical of the ruling party? How about Hitler, Mussolini or Franco?

E.J. Smith JonF311 15 hours ago

Excellent point. There are, however, concepts such as "controlled opposition" and "soft totalitarianism" as outlined recently in Rod Dreher's piece. The latter concerns me more.

As long as Americans believe that they are getting the carrot they will not notice the slow encroachment of the stick, particulary if it's in the hands of large mega-corporations.

GaryH E.J. Smith 11 hours ago

You, sir, are correct. The totalitarianism rampaging toward us is going to be a paradoxical mix of Sexual Revolution, Cultural Marxism, and Globalist Vampire Capitalism. It will feature elements that seem to have been predicted in Zamyatin's We , Huxley's Brave New World , and Orwell's 1984 . It also has been foretold in Robert Hugh Benson's Lord of the World .

Just Stop Digging JonF311 15 hours ago

I'm sure you are well aware that Rod is not suggesting such a regime is here or coming. He has described how censorship will work / is working in painfully repetitive detail (because obviously people need to hear it over and over again).

Under soft totalitarianism, you will make the wrong response or refuse to affirm or refuse to attend the required re-education workshop and your job and livelihood will be gone. Don't pretend you don't understand Rod's argument.

James Just Stop Digging 6 hours ago

Jonf is for the woke soft totalitarianism, a dangerous element in the church, we Orthodox Christian's need to be on guard with Catechumens , and their motives for joining the Church, as well as Cradle liberals who dominate institutions in jurisdictions like GOARCH

blej Augustine 13 hours ago

The Patriot Act was always bipartisan. Please look at Congressional voting records before posting dumb stuff.

Wizard blej 11 hours ago

Most really bad ideas are.

Augustine blej 10 hours ago • edited

Who introduced and signed it into law again? Dumb stuff...

blej Augustine 8 hours ago

It had bipartisan support in Congress. Do you understand how the US legislative system works? Presidents don't unilaterally introduce and approve legislation.

Augustine blej 6 hours ago

It wasn't introduced by Bush, but by a nobody Republican in Congress. The act has the paw marks of Republicans through and through. Just 3 Republican congressmen voted against. There's no point hiding behind the bipartisan curtain.

Mark Thomason Augustine 8 hours ago

There is much yet to be answered for in the Patriot Act origins and how it came to be passed before anyone voting on it had a chance to read it once much less review it with propper staffing.

That Act was sitting on a shelf, like a time bomb, waiting for its chance. I suspect it was part of the preparations for an apocalyptic, dystopian America after a nuclear war.

It was pulled off that shelf because it was what they had on the shelf, it was there so they used it.

Augustine Mark Thomason 6 hours ago

And voted to renew it again and again.

kenofken 21 hours ago

"Can anyone blame a man like this for concluding that Americans are going to have to learn about the evils of totalitarianism the hard way?"

Americans have never learned anything the easy way. They don't learn the hard way either.

"Among the social and intellectual elite, sexual adventurism, celebrations of perversion, and all manner of sensuality was common."

Let no future commisar say that I didn't do my part for the revolution! I stand ready to humbly serve the people in the creation of an appropriate ministry for perversion.

Mark B. kenofken 12 hours ago • edited

Those who will have less than five sexual partners a year and do not switch gender in over two years will be chastised for the term of 10 years by legislation.

Kasoy 17 hours ago

When you remove God from your life, the inner desire implanted by God to look for the true meaning in life, & the desire to do good instead of evil remain strong. For most people, the "obvious" path is to give meaning to one's life is to follow the feel-good "social justice" road, a form of false humanism (for man & by man alone), ie, social justice without God that tries to create a paradise on earth (same way that communism tried to create a utopia without God).

Many young Americans no longer believe in God's relevance & His authority over their lives. This normally starts with the loss of respect for the authority of parents who represent God in the home (even Jesus was obedient to his mortal parents). The gradual destruction of the "domestic church", the family, in American homes is one of the immediate goals of radical agenda (eg, gender conflicts & confusion, gender id, gender choice, abortion, contraception, women liberation, etc) that results in increasing number of divorce & single-parent homes.

The only way to correct the path to a radical secular future is for people, esp the young, to regain their faith in God. The question is how. Evangelization is one. One can evangelize by words &or by acts. St Franscis of Assisi is often quoted to have said: When you evangelize, sometimes you need to use words. I think Rod is doing both through his books.

Kent Kasoy 15 hours ago

If God isn't implanted in a child's mind at a young age, it most likely never will. People, in there 20's, who never went to church are unlikely to ever become Christians. If you don't believe Heaven and Hell exist, why do you need a Savior? Look at the number of young families with young children at Church, and consider how many aren't there. That's the future.

richnice1975 Kent 11 hours ago

The idea of God doesn't need to be implanted in a child's mind. A child (and every person for that matter) intuitively knows that there has to be a Creator, an afterlife, and Divine Justice. As proof, I offer the fact that every civilization that has ever existed has had a religion with the aforementioned elements. Atheism did not appear until Marxism, and even then, in the Soviet Union / Russia, it did not succeed in eradicating faith and religion, which are as innate as love and sex.

dstraws richnice1975 11 hours ago

Unfortunately for you atheism long predates Marxism. Look to the early Greeks for the first recorded instances of non-believers. Try https://en.wikipedia.org/wi... for a overview.

Wizard richnice1975 11 hours ago

They want it, they don't know it. Knowledge requires evidence. But when you want something bad enough, it's easy to regard your desire as evidence.

Fabricio González richnice1975 11 hours ago

What? Atheism is as old as ancient Greece, probably older.

richnice1975 Kasoy 11 hours ago

Kasoy, you hit the nail on the head. You basically echoed what I say to people all the time. You truly get it! God bless you!

J Villain Kasoy 9 hours ago

>"The only way to correct the path to a radical secular future is for people, esp the young, to regain their faith in God."

Exactly the thinking powering Daesh. What is wrong with people being able to decide for themselves what religion if any they want? Why is a secular state a radical idea? The US is a secular state and it has served the US well.

Wydra 17 hours ago • edited

So Revolution or Civil War?
I keep hearing about one or the other, but only on the Internet.
I am of the opinion that we Americans are far too comfortable and have no stomach for privation.
We will continue to lurch along as always.

David Bartlett Wydra 14 hours ago

Does it really matter what "Americans" want? The very thesis of the article is that 'we' will do the bidding of the influential elites, regardless of whether we a) approve of their objectives, or b) are even aware of them. Like the article says, the vast majority of Americans mistakenly think that, so long as they have their routine, their job, their kids, their personal little patch of America complete with white picket fence, then, hey, how can things go wrong? "We" won't, wouldn't, couldn't, allow such a revolution or civil war to happen---why, there isn't even enough time to worry about it!

When a riotous mob of crazed BLM/ANTIFA soldiers comes marching up your peaceful street, you will become part of the 'revolution', like it or not.

Wydra David Bartlett 13 hours ago

I disagree with the dire assessment.
I don't see the fear or the desire of this anywhere but on the Internet.

Fair warning to the riotous mob - you should avoid my street during Mud Season. It can be pretty impassable if you're not used to it.

blej Wydra 13 hours ago

They almost always accompany each other.

peter mcloughlin 17 hours ago

Totalitarian Romanov Russia united with secular pluralist France against Germany in the lead-up to WWI. Similarly in WWII, totalitarian Marxist Russia united with the Western democracies to defeat Nazi Germany. The pattern is common place in history. Alliances reveal countries' motivations for war. And all are motivated by power.
https://www.ghostsofhistory...

massappeal 16 hours ago

I'll ask again (serious question): for conservatives who think we live in "Weimar America", isn't one of the major lessons for conservatives from Weimar Germany that when you're faced with the distasteful option of allying yourselves with liberals and the center-left, or allying yourselves with fascists and their street militias, it's important not to make the decision that German Nationalists did in the early 1930s?

WilliamRD massappeal 16 hours ago

The fascist are on the left. They always have been.

massappeal WilliamRD 15 hours ago

Thanks for your response, but no: https://www.britannica.com/...

WilliamRD massappeal 15 hours ago

I don't put much stock in Encyclopedias today. Like everything they've become PC.

Here's some actual. history on fascism

Three New Deals: Why the Nazis and Fascists Loved FDR

https://mises.org/library/t...

Hitler, Mussolini, Roosevelt

https://www.cato.org/public...

massappeal WilliamRD 15 hours ago

Yes, the Nazis and Fascists loved FDR which is why...they were allies of the US during World War II???

WilliamRD massappeal 14 hours ago

We were allied with one of the biggest mass murderers in history during World War 2. Joseph Stalin. Facts are facts and the facts are fascism is a leftist ideology.

blej massappeal 13 hours ago

To be fair, you can 'love' someone's ruling style and still go to war with them. Politics and warfare are about seizing power, not expressing admiration for the qualities of rivals.

massappeal blej 13 hours ago

To clarify, I didn't mean "love" in a personal or an emotional sense. In the case of World War II, democratic nations were opponents of fascist nations.

a Texas libertarian massappeal 11 hours ago

Before the war, many important people in America expressed approval of the fascist system and even Hitler.

Steve Naidamast massappeal 10 hours ago

I don't know what histories you have been reading but Adolph Hitler had no use for FDR as like many other European politicians of the day, they saw FDR as a relatively ignorant man.

blej massappeal 13 hours ago

The Nazis were basically 1848 (leftist) revolutionaries, who supported egalitarianism for German men and ethnonationalism (which was a very leftist idea when it was new). True reactionaries, like the King of Prussia in 1848, definitely did not share those values.

Aetius blej 12 hours ago

Can someone explain to me what the point of these arguments are? I always see people saying the Nazis were leftists, but even if I agreed with the claim what difference does it make to massappeal's point?

Most commentators put the Nazis on the far right. They themselves considered Nazism to be a "third way" between Capitalism and Communism. It's clear that the defining traits of Nazism are totalitarianism, nationalism, social darwinism, and virulent anti-semitism. Like communism and other forms of Facism, it is a revolutionary political movement. They also supported massive government spending and social welfare programs for "aryans", in a kind of state-dominated capitalism. It is also true that Ernst Rohm and the SA wanted a socialist revolution to follow the Nazi's national revolution, but they were betrayed and Rohm was executed for being too radical.

There's the truth. Facts are Facts. So what if they are leftist or rightist? I really don't understand the value of this argument. Is this a way to link Democrats to Nazis? Seems as ridiculous as trying to link Republicans to them.

BrotherJack Aetius 11 hours ago • edited

The point is obfuscation of reality from the US right, which has increasingly become enmeshed in world divorced from reality. Of course no respected historian places the Nazis as a Left ideology. There is some argument as to whether fascism/Nazism was Right, or neither left or right. But as an ideology, fascism and Nazism are illiberal, nationalist, and concerned with "natural hierarchies" which are anathema to "left" thought.

Anyone stating otherwise is either exceedingly stupid or not arguing in good faith. Either way, there is no point in engaging them or in giving them any platform to spout their nonsense. Shut them down, block them, mock them, and move on.

And conservatives wonder why they've "unwelcome" in academia...If you want to be taken seriously, you need to think seriously.

Aetius BrotherJack 11 hours ago

Penetrating insight. Of course, I am sure you are right. I want to give people a chance to defend themselves though, because I would truly love to be proved wrong and shown something of which I am ignorant.

a Texas libertarian Aetius 10 hours ago • edited

If you are honest in your search for the truth on this topic, please read Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn's " Leftism: From de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Marcuse "

No where will you find a more comprehensive and correct analysis of the history and composition of the Left.

Aetius a Texas libertarian 10 hours ago

I really appreciate the response. I read the synopsis and gather that the argument is somewhat similar to one which I have heard before, which is that all modern political movements are borne of the enlightenment, which is something I certainly agree with. There are certainly underpinnings under every modern party that find their root in the enlightenment.

The book you provided seems to be not quite that exact theory though, and of course I haven't read the whole thing...yet. But I honestly will, and I really appreciate the recommendation! Truth is truth, and it has no ideology. I will read it with an open mind.

Thanks again!

a Texas libertarian Aetius 10 hours ago • edited

The history of right and left, nationalist and internationalist, liberal and conservative is very complex and confusing. And it is different in America than it is in Europe. America started out mostly Protestant and Liberal (in the classical sense), so any right wing or conservative movement in the US would have these foundations. In Europe, conservatives were Catholic and Monarchist.

But Monarchy gets a bad rap in American public schools and universities, dominated as they were by Protestant and Liberal thinking at their founding and by Progressive and Socialist thinking now.

Here is a definition of the Right by EvKL (in the book):

"The true rightist is not a man who wants to go back to this or that institution for the sake of a return; he wants first to find out what is eternally true, eternally valid, and then either to restore or reinstall it, regardless of whether it seems obsolete, whether it is ancient, contemporary, or even without precedent, brand new, "ultramodern." Old truths can be rediscovered, entirely new ones found. The Man of the Right does not have a time-bound, but a sovereign mind. In case he is a Christian he is, in the words of the Apostle Peter, the steward of a Basileion Hierateuma, a Royal Priesthood"

And here the difference between Right and Left:

"The right stands for liberty, a free, unprejudiced form of thinking, a readiness to preserve traditional values (provided they are true values), a balanced view of the nature of man, seeing in him neither beast nor angel, insisting also on the uniqueness of human beings who cannot be transformed into or treated as mere numbers or ciphers; but the left is the advocate of the opposite principles. It is the enemy of diversity and the fanatical promoter of identity. Uniformity is stressed in all leftist utopias, a paradise in which everybody should be the "same," where envy is dead, where the "enemy" either no longer exists, lives outside the gates, or is utterly humiliated. Leftism loathes differences, deviation, stratifications. Any hierarchy it accepts is only "functional." The term "one" is the keynote: There should be only one language, one race, one class, one ideology, one religion, one type of school, one law for everybody, one flag, one coat of arms and one centralized world state"
a Texas libertarian a Texas libertarian 10 hours ago

Also from "Leftism":

"The rightists are "federalists" (in the European sense), "states' righters" since they believe in local rights and privileges, they stand for the principle of subsidiarity."
Aetius a Texas libertarian 6 hours ago

Beautiful quotes, my friend, I especially appreciate the latter one. I have not gotten far in the book, only 60 pages or so but I already find it fascinating, and I have gotten to that quote exactly, actually.

As a passing note, I will say that I doubt WilliamRD meant what you mean, though I could be mistaken. And I think defining Nazism as a leftist philosophy requires a semantic argument, which redefines "right" and "left" into something different than popular American political discourse defines it. And in fact, under these definitions, the Republican Party is at least partially leftist.

However, EvKL is clear that this is what he is doing, and you were clear yourself that we need to break out of these definitions. I couldn't agree more with you on that. Thanks for sending me the link, you've made me wiser.

a Texas libertarian Aetius 5 hours ago

You are a rare and beautiful soul! I can't believe you've already read that far into the book. I will try and learn from your example, the next time someone sends me a link.

And yes, the Republican party has been infiltrated by Leftism. I'm going to give you a book link on this too, but you don't have to read it right away! Just download it, and put it away in your files for later. It's a true story that is important to know and it gets to the heart of the American Conservative / Neoconservative divide.

It's called, " The Betrayal of the American Right " by Murray Rothbard

BrotherJack Aetius 10 hours ago • edited

Fair enough. To me it's analogous to listening to someone try and argue that 1+1=7. I'm just not sure that someone attempting such a calculation has the rational faculties to provide anything worth hearing, and I don't like lending legitimacy to every silly position that a person can take. Life is short, and I prefer to hear from people who demonstrate that they're playing with a full deck and arguing in good faith. The "Leftists are the Real Racists" crowd is certainly neither of those.

Edit: And hilariously, there is an actual RW goofball on this article's comment section, posting Nazi/Fascist sympathies (@Raskolnik) . So, the proof is in the TAC comments I guess...

a Texas libertarian BrotherJack 9 hours ago • edited

Are you arguing that Progressivism and Eugenics were not linked historically?

BrotherJack a Texas libertarian 9 hours ago

Again, if you want to be taken seriously, you need to think seriously:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/...

https://www.aaihs.org/eugen...

a Texas libertarian BrotherJack 9 hours ago

Lol. Wikipedia and a black racist journal? Seriously?

BrotherJack a Texas libertarian 8 hours ago • edited

The genetic fallacy definition can be found many places. If you read it, you might sound a little less dumb in public. And the AAIHS is not a racist journal. I know anything with "African American" in it seems to set off a very fragile segment of aggrieved whites, but I'm sure you could judge the article based on its content. I'd link to some others, but given what you've said so far, it seems unlikely you have access to JSTOR or any other legitimate academic resources. At this point all you're really accomplishing is offering more evidence that Right Wingers are almost allergic to information that contradicts their indoctrination. There's a reason your numbers are falling in legitimate academic institutions, and it isn't due to the secret cabal of communists that seem to haunt your daydreams. It's that your positions are asinine and you're incapable of arguing effectively and supporting your positions with evidence.

a Texas libertarian BrotherJack 8 hours ago

I'm just applying the same rules to blacks as get applied to whites. Imagine what the ADL or SPLC would say of an online journal called "White Perspectives" that teaches "white history."

BrotherJack a Texas libertarian 8 hours ago

Good to know: you're just stupid.

blej BrotherJack 8 hours ago

If you're too much of a lazy coward for serious discussion, then just go away.

BrotherJack blej 8 hours ago

There's nothing serious about you.

a Texas libertarian BrotherJack 8 hours ago

Lol. There we go. I knew you had it in you.

a Texas libertarian BrotherJack 8 hours ago

I have not committed the genetic fallacy. I not only attack the source of Leftism. I attack it's present manifestation and the false Left / Right paradigm those in its service have constructed in order to lead us ever leftward.

Leftism's founding principle is equality. Stated synonymously, and with much historical affirmation, this means uniformity.

The modern Left supposedly prides itself on diversity but this diversity is only skin deep. It still craves uniformity. It has just learned that it needs brown skin in positions of power to supplant white nonconformance, it's main opponent. The Left cannot even tolerate the opinions of those it disagrees with. This is why it labels everyone who disagrees with it's radical social engineering program a deplorable or a racist or an outright Nazi.

blej BrotherJack 10 hours ago

An actual theocratic monarchist reactionary would consider Nazism to be leftist, and ideas of 'racial superiority' or 'racial guilt' or whatever to be very modern ideas.

Please expurgate your naïve realism - it's all a matter of perspective. To someone with current mores, the Nazis, a rehash of the ethno-nationalist 1848 Revolutions in Germany, are unspeakably reactionary. To someone with pre-Enlightenment values, they're beyond far left. Please read something written by someone who was a 'leftist' in his own day, and it will almost always be unspeakably reactionary by the contemporary standards of even those 'white supremacists' that you so hate. Here's some anti-immigrant racist Benjamin Franklin for you:

"Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion.

24. Which leads me to add one Remark: That the Number of purely white People in the World is proportionably very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new Comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth. I could wish their Numbers were increased. And while we are, as I may call it, Scouring our Planet, by clearing America of Woods, and so making this Side of our Globe reflect a brighter Light to the Eyes of Inhabitants in Mars or Venus, why should we in the Sight of Superior Beings, darken its People? why increase the Sons of Africa, by Planting them in America, where we have so fair an Opportunity, by excluding all Blacks and Tawneys, of increasing the lovely White and Red? But perhaps I am partial to the Complexion of my Country, for such Kind of Partiality is natural to Mankind. "

BrotherJack blej 10 hours ago

This block of text is nothing but another incoherent rambling from a markedly unserious thinker. You've outed yourself repeatedly as an idiot or an ideologue. Either way, you're not worth another breath of response.

blej BrotherJack 8 hours ago

Whatever, coward.

a Texas libertarian BrotherJack 10 hours ago

"Anyone stating otherwise is either exceedingly stupid or not arguing in good faith"

Smells like Projection and Leftism to me. But I repeat myself.

BrotherJack a Texas libertarian 10 hours ago • edited

"Projection" is a safe word for simpletons who can't form an argument.

a Texas libertarian BrotherJack 10 hours ago

It's clear which one you think I am.

BrotherJack a Texas libertarian 10 hours ago

It doesn't really matter. You've demonstrated that you're utterly unserious. I don't care if it's because you're stupid or not.

a Texas libertarian BrotherJack 9 hours ago

Fair enough. Good bye.

Jordan Anderson a Texas libertarian 8 hours ago

Yes, if you simply throw out all logic and available evidence, Hitler and Mussolini were on the political left. And if you simply redefine the entire color spectrum, the sky is green and the sea is orange.

This is like History 101 people, get with the damn program.

a Texas libertarian Jordan Anderson 8 hours ago

History 101, and it was taught to you by Marxists.

"get with the damn program"

Spoken like a Leftist.

RAF BrotherJack 10 hours ago

Jack, if there is a nail and a head---you HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD!

People do seem to try to put all of this in a left-right mindset which is more "tribal identity" than reality.

Broadly speaking ...repeat....broadly speaking----Russia and Stalin were an economic system-philosophy while Hitler carried on the German culture model of Martin Luther, which was much more GERMAN NATIONALISM -with a well documented anti-Semitism on steroids.

One was economic systems and the other one was nationalism. To put either into a leftist-rightist camp doesn't work with today's terminology.

The same way that it is not possible to call Trumpicans either conservative or liberal. The economic policies put in by Trump are reckless and certainly not conservative.

Labels are complicated.

blej Aetius 11 hours ago

The 'point' is to establish stigma by association. History is only useful in politics when it can used against one's enemies, either by associating with something valued or associating stigmatized history with one's enemies. It's also possible for history to be stigmatized due to its use by political enemies.

Wizard Aetius 11 hours ago

The point is to score points for your tribe. I find the terms "left" and "right" increasingly useless. If they ever had value, that value is largely lost. This is especially true in the US, where left and right seem determined to degenerate into each's caricature of the other.

a Texas libertarian Aetius 10 hours ago • edited

The point is to break out of the Left / Right paradigm as it's been presented to us by those who mean to rule us. Anybody who seriously opposes the Leftwing's steady march towards Communism, is labeled a far-right winger, and is put in the company of Nazis. They then become untouchable by normal people who have not devoted any time into historical or ideological inquiry.

This game forces normal people into the middle, and in the middle they pose no meaningful threat to the Leftward march of the establishment, because the middle cannot find the leverage to arrest its progress. The middle's only hope is to slow it down somewhat.

a Texas libertarian massappeal 11 hours ago

Fascism has perhaps not been 'on the Left' because, historically it has always arisen to fight communism, which is the farthest Left you can get (so anything opposed to it seems, by comparison, Right), but it is fully a child of the radical Left nationalism born of the French Jacobins. It's certainly not a grandchild of the European monarchies, though conservatives have at times had to ally with it as the lesser of two evils when confronted by communism.

Connecticut Farmer massappeal 16 hours ago

In the end it was a catastrophic economic meltdown--in their case taking the form of metastatic inflation--which sent Germany off the edge of the cliff and into the abyss. So it will be with the US. Pray we don't have a recurrence of 2007. Or worse!

massappeal Connecticut Farmer 15 hours ago

Thanks for your response. Hyperinflation in Germany ended in 1923; Hitler came to power in 1933.

Inflation wasn't a cause (or result) of the 2007-08 recession, and it's not evident in our current recession either.

Kent massappeal 15 hours ago

There was a thing called the Great Depression that started in America but spread to Europe quickly in 1929. Hitler came to power when millions of German workers lost their jobs and had no way of supporting themselves and their families.

massappeal Kent 15 hours ago

Yep. And Hitler came to power because German Nationalists (the conservative party) formed an alliance with him, rather than with the center-left and liberal parties.

Locksley massappeal 12 hours ago

Nationalism, German or otherwise, is not particularly conservative. The most intelligent conservative since Burke was Prince Metternich, who regarded nationalism as his greatest enemy, especially German nationalism.

Connecticut Farmer massappeal 13 hours ago

Yes, the actual hyperinflation did indeed end around that time but by then the economic die had already been cast. The cumulative effect upon the German middle and, especially, the working class, farmers, "petite bourgeoisie" etc.,would devastate the country through the remainder of the 20s and into the 30s (my father and his parents, who were working class Social Democrats, had to get out by 1928 and were lucky to gain admittance into the US as the doors were being closed on immigration at the time). As to 2007 I totally agree that inflation was not a factor. I was evidently unclear but--that really wasn't my point. The absence of inflation notwithstanding, we know that the economy went into the soup in 2007--so much so that, to date, we have not fully recovered. My main point is to express the fear that if it were to happen again for whatever reason, if you factor in the "Kulturkampf" within which American society is currently embroiled we are going to have one HELL of a mess on our hands.

massappeal Connecticut Farmer 13 hours ago

And given that, isn't it all the more important to try to avoid the political mistakes German conservatives made in the early 1930s when they chose to ally themselves with the Nazis?

Connecticut Farmer massappeal 12 hours ago

That's for sure!

totheleftofcentre massappeal 12 hours ago

Yes, it is. As we see here, conservatives like Rod think they can control the extremists. No snark this time, they really believe that.
They couldn't even control Trump.

Lynx2015 massappeal 11 hours ago

I think the bigger concern is the alliance of the center left with two marxist movements especially considering the right cannot ally with nazis as there are no comparable nazi organizations available

massappeal Lynx2015 11 hours ago

Thanks for your response. What are you referring to here---"the alliance of the center left with two marxist movements"?

Lynx2015 massappeal 10 hours ago

One of the three co-founders of BLM stated in an 2015 interview that she, Patrice Collers, and one other cofounder, Alizia Garza, are trained marxists. If the leadership claims they are marxist, then what is the BLM movement?

See here: https://www.politifact.com/...

Anarchists and Marxists simply have different methods of achieving the same goal. For an example of anarchist goals, see the collectivist actions of the Catalonian anarchists during the Spanish Civil War.

These are both anti-democratic and dangerous movements which the center left is happy to work with.

Disqus10021 Connecticut Farmer 12 hours ago

It was the ruinous inflation of 1923 COMBINED with the high unemployment in 1932 that encouraged millions of ordinary Germans to vote for the Nazis twice in 1932. Some wealthy Republicans seem to forget this as they lobby for more tax cuts and foreign aid to Israel. They also appear to forget that the period 1871-1914 was something of a "Golden Age" for German Jews. Germany's defeat in WWI AND the harsh peace treaty imposed on it by the other side were more than enough to offset the benefits of a new democratic constitution adopted in Weimar in 1919.
It is hard to believe that two decades ago, the US budget actually turned positive for a brief period of time, that the national debt was expected to be paid off in a decade or so and that some economists were wondering how the Fed would conduct monetary policy if there were no Treasury securities to buy and sell. They need not have worried. These days, the national debt is out of control. Instead of worrying about the future, I can take consolation in the fact that I have outlived (by more than a decade) all of my father's relatives who were still living in Poland in 1939. For them, the end of the line was an extermination camp called Belzec.

Steve Naidamast Disqus10021 10 hours ago

It wasn't just the 1929 Depression that caused so much hardship in Germany. In 1933 after Adolph Hitler came to power and Germany was just beginning to crawl out of the shock of their own depression, the international Jewish Community (Zionists) launched its economic war on Germany, which native, German Jews pleaded with their western brethren to not do. Ignoring the German Jews requests, the economic war against Germany persisted, causing massive economic disruptions as the popularity of this endeavor was picked up around the world...

Disqus10021 Steve Naidamast 9 hours ago

The first anti-Jewish measure put in place by Nazi Germany started on April 1, 1933 when Aryan Germans were encouraged by the government to boycott Jewish businesses in Germany. The boycott was the first of many anti-Jewish measures taken by the Nazis over the next 12 years. This boycott was followed on April 7, 1933 with the forced retirement of most non-Aryan (i.e. Jewish) civil servants in the country and a book burning of books by Jewish authors on May 10. There is a whole list of anti-Jewish measures taken by Nazi Germany in the museum catalog "Jews in German under Prussian Rule". Used copies are available at Amazon.

The economic response by Jews living outside Germany was a failure. It was the Battle of Stalingrad and the brutal Russian winter of 1942-43 that turned the tide of WWII in Europe

Connecticut Farmer Disqus10021 8 hours ago

Bit off topic but not long ago I read that of all the major industrial countries the one that supposedly suffered the least from the effects of the Depression-- was England!

Raskolnik massappeal 15 hours ago

The conservatives (right-liberals) have done nothing but ally with the left-liberals against the "fascists" (actual right wing) since 1945. Their entire raison d'etre is to lose gracefully while preventing the actual right wing from ever coming anywhere near power.

massappeal Raskolnik 15 hours ago

Thanks for your response. So, are you suggesting conservatives should ally themselves with fascists?

Raskolnik massappeal 15 hours ago • edited

Yes, if they actually care about accomplishing their stated policy goals

massappeal Raskolnik 15 hours ago

Thanks for your direct and clear answer, making clear your support for fascism.

Raskolnik massappeal 15 hours ago

You're welcome

Woland massappeal 12 hours ago

And if you believe WilliamRD just above, fascism is a leftist ideology, and the natural enemy of conservatism.

The right should get its internal affairs in order, or we're gonna need some new labels in the near future.

BrotherJack Raskolnik 12 hours ago • edited

Finally, full-throated support of fascism on TAC.

Well, if there is some "revolution", don't be surprised when you get the wall.

Raskolnik BrotherJack 11 hours ago

How exactly do you plan on accomplishing your "revolution" from the inside of a detainment camp?

BrotherJack Raskolnik 10 hours ago

Keep digging, Nazi.

Raskolnik BrotherJack 8 hours ago

I will, Commie

blej BrotherJack 11 hours ago

He won't be, but you definitely will be when you get it.

BrotherJack blej 10 hours ago

Scary stuff, dork.

Schopenhauer Raskolnik 12 hours ago

Thank god they serve some purpose then.

Annie from Alaska massappeal 14 hours ago

I would call that "overfitting," expecting to find exact matches among the parties involved. My lessons:
- people can be given scapegoats in lieu of hope. "Yes, we've gutted manufacturing and flooded the country with low-skill illegal labour, but what's keeping you down is systemic racism. There is a secret hatred for the colour of the skin inside all white people. They can't even see it themselves, but it's there. Just look at all these stories from the Jim Crow era and get angry about them again, and you'll find that if you don't for me you're not really black."
- nothing's more dangerous than a well-meaning good person convinced they're better than everyone else, led about by skilled propagandists with total control of news and entertainment.
- projection and false flag operations are at the top of the propagandist's toolbox. If you're "fighting racism," you can see race everywhere and treat it as the defining aspect of every person you meet and the source of all their opinions. If you're "fighting fascism" you can dress in black and run around starting fires, attacking Senators, and shooting people for their political beliefs. If you convince everyone "white supremacist terror groups" are the biggest threat to the country you can unleash rioters on every major city to fight one rather well-behaved seventeen-year-old in one city. You can unleash a steady stream of hoaxes: Russiagate, a short clip of the longer George Floyd video that obscures why he died, the Covington Catholic Smirk of Supremacy, bleach and "This is MAGA country." It doesn't matter. The bigger the better: people will always believe the big lie.

You should think about your own role in all this. What part of Weimar are you playing?

massappeal Annie from Alaska 14 hours ago

Thanks for your thoughtful response. To answer your question, I play a small-to-the-point-of-insignificance role these days, trying to lower the political temperature in this time of pandemic, and trying to make the case for small 'd' democracy as the best (and highly imperfect) method for dealing with the challenges we face.

It's in that context that I find hope in the growing number of conservatives (most recently, former Montana governor and RNC chair Marc Racicot) who are placing "country over party" and stating their support for Biden, not because they agree with his policies but despite their disagreement with them.

Gaius Gracchus massappeal 13 hours ago

These folks are not putting "country over party". They are tied into the Uniparty ruled by the oligarchs doing the bidding of their masters.

Putting "country over party" would require them calling for the arrest of all those who were involved in the Russian collusion hoax, Spygate, and everything else, from Obama on down.

Putting "country over party" would require them to put the well-being of the citizens first and support an end to endless war and to support enforcing immigration law and fixing trade.

No, these every alleged Republican or conservative supporting Biden is showing that they are and have always been a fraud who doesn't believe what they preached and would rather continue in the good graces of the rich and powerful that really rule the country.

massappeal Gaius Gracchus 13 hours ago

Thanks for stating your views so clearly.

Nate J Gaius Gracchus 8 hours ago • edited

Exactly.

Support for country over politics and personal gain. Going back to the "normalcy" of the pre-Trump political order. Pick one. You don't get both.

Anyone who tells you how important it is for "the good of the nation" to go back to the long list of careerist politicians, hacks, and establishment elite who have governed it towards its ruination must first make the case that the "norms" of American political culture were good and righteous or (even from a strictly amoral view) practically useful. They never do, though.

It's always asserted as if it is a self-evident fact that we need to go back to the days of Bushes, Clintons, and Bidens, but nobody can really explain why.

blej massappeal 13 hours ago

Leftists don't want us as allies, and the 'street militias' are almost entirely leftist. Institutional elites in Germany supported National Socialism, while in the US today they support leftists.

massappeal blej 13 hours ago

Thanks for your response. Sure, there are those on the left who want nothing to do with centrists and conservatives. (Heck, some of them barely tolerate liberals.) But the Democratic party chose its most moderate candidate as its standard-bearer in this election, and Biden has made clear he welcomes the support of centrists and conservatives and Republicans.

(As for militias, per the FBI (not known as a bastion of liberalism) right-wing militias are by far the largest domestic terrorism threat.)

Just Stop Digging massappeal 12 hours ago • edited

Like the Republican party in the Trump era, there is no longer such a thing as the Democratic party in its traditional sense. As the GOP is an empty vessel now filled with Trumpism, the Democratic party is an empty vessel being filled with progressivism (an ongoing process). The traditional Democrats (like old-school moderate African-Americans) who put Biden over the top in the primary are otherwise powerless in the party.

Biden has made it clear that he will not push back against the far Left in any way - in his refusal to comment on packing SCOTUS, ending the Senate filibuster, ending the electoral college (the lack of an answer to these being itself an answer), in his absorption of much of Bernie's platform into his own, in his silence on urban riots and looting until campaign people told him it was affecting polling (and his response since has been tepid at best).

He lied gleefully (Trumpily?) during the debate about the prog platform - his own campaign website lists support for GND and an expanded "reimagining" of the suburbs among many other progressive goals which Trump is too inarticulate and ignorant to frame sensible arguments against.

The Democrats are planning to govern on the basis of vengeance and revolution. The mood of the base could not be more clear.

massappeal Just Stop Digging 12 hours ago

Thanks for your response. Unlike the Republican party, the Democratic party still has a party platform that extends beyond (far beyond, 90 pages beyond) fealty to its party leader. As Biden won a majority of the delegates, the platform those delegates adopted reflects the views of the factions that chose Biden more than it does any other faction in the party.

Biden has pointedly and repeatedly distanced himself from the policy wishes (e.g., Medicare for All, Green New Deal, defund the police) of the left-wing of the Democratic party.

Just Stop Digging massappeal 11 hours ago
Vice President Biden knows there is no greater challenge facing our country and our world. Today, he is outlining a bold plan – a Clean Energy Revolution – to address this grave threat and lead the world in addressing the climate emergency.

Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face. It powerfully captures two basic truths, which are at the core of his plan: (1) the United States urgently needs to embrace greater ambition on an epic scale to meet the scope of this challenge, and (2) our environment and our economy are completely and totally connected.


https://joebiden.com/climat...

Biden will implement the Obama-Biden Administration's Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule requiring communities receiving certain federal funding to proactively examine housing patterns and identify and address policies that have a discriminatory effect. The Trump Administration suspended this rule in 2018.


https://joebiden.com/housing/

Giving Americans a new choice, a public health insurance option like Medicare. If your insurance company isn't doing right by you, you should have another, better choice. Whether you're covered through your employer, buying your insurance on your own, or going without coverage altogether, the Biden Plan will give you the choice to purchase a public health insurance option like Medicare. As in Medicare, the Biden public option will reduce costs for patients by negotiating lower prices from hospitals and other health care providers. It also will better coordinate among all of a patient's doctors to improve the efficacy and quality of their care, and cover primary care without any co-payments. And it will bring relief to small businesses struggling to afford coverage for their employees.


https://joebiden.com/health...

and plenty more where that came from

marku52 Just Stop Digging 11 hours ago

BIden as a captive of the left? When he spent literally most of the debate kicking them?

Laughable. Biden is a moderate republican, or would be before the GOP went completely off the rails.

blej massappeal 11 hours ago • edited

I don't deserve your thanks, kind sir. You're vastly overestimating the social importance of presidential elections, imo. And I don't believe the FBI. Every other institution in American society is virtue signaling support for the woke left, so why not them? They know who is going to run the country next year. Do you believe that the rioting and destruction this summer was caused by right-wingers? I have heard that conspiracy theory before, and I suppose it's the closest thing we'd ever get from leftists to an admission that the events were negative.

I think that there is definitely a strong double standard when it comes to media reporting and institutional acknowledgment of violence based on the demographics and politics of the perpetrator. There was a huge mass shooting in the city I live in last year, but the shooter (DeWayne Craddock) was black and had a stereotypically black given name. There was very little reporting on it as compared with the Texas church shooter that occurred at about the same time.

totheleftofcentre massappeal 12 hours ago

No, because we on the Left are always the greater evil.
Always.
The (few) bad tendencies of (some, very few) people on the Right can be contained and governed by the other conservatives.
/SNARK

JWJ massappeal 12 hours ago

In Germany, the national socialists and communists were battling for totalitarian control. Both of them were on the left. Dictatorship either way.

The real question today in the US is whether old fashioned liberals [belief in free speech, political discourse without threats or actual violence, natural American patriotism, etc] will disavow the violence and intimidation from the leftist totalitarianism that is the democrat party today.
The rioting, the burning, the street violence, the death threats of lining people against the wall, etc., etc., is pretty much all from the totalitarian left. I could give you hundreds of examples, the most recent the former CEO of Twitter wanting to shoot political opponents.

This hate-filled rhetoric from the totalitarian left is an attempt to dehumanize people they disagree with, to hate them. This is simply preparing for the stage that those the totalitarian left disagrees with should be sent to gulags at a minimum, or killed.

This is all with the approval and help of the "mainstream' democrat party. Denying this just makes you not credible.

p.s. Biden, at best, is a partial senile figurehead, whose function is to mask what the totalitarian left really wants to do.

QballK JWJ 12 hours ago • edited

Oh what Jonah Goldberg has wraught with this "NAZI's we're leftists" horseshit. I guess when you be been absolved of the notion that right wing thought had anything to do with the rise of fascism in Europe, you can say any horrible thing you'd like about people of another race, ethnicity, or religion ruining your pretty Lilly white country.

Disqus10021 QballK 11 hours ago

From Wikipedia:
"As the eldest son of Bertha Krupp,
Alfried was destined by family tradition to become the sole heir of the
Krupp concern. An amateur photographer and Olympic sailor, he was an
early supporter of Nazism among German industrialists, joining the SS in
1931, and never disavowing his allegiance to Hitler."

massappeal JWJ 11 hours ago

Thanks for your response. In case anyone else still isn't clear, and just for the record, the Nazis were not "on the left". https://en.wikipedia.org/wi...

JWJ massappeal 11 hours ago

The national socialists were on the left. You may lie about it, I can't stop you.

But what is definitely clear is the national socialists were brutal evil totalitarianists [new word?]. Just like the communist dictatorships in russia, china, cambodia, cuba, etc.

This is the leftists/wokesters blm antifa [the brownshirts of today] in the US, with the tacit/explicit approval of democrat leadership.

Mark Thomason massappeal 8 hours ago

They would not have been better off aligned with Stalin, which was the other side in their domestic political extremes. It too was rioting in the streets.

The middle got too narrow to survive. That does not mean the other extreme was an acceptable choice, much less a better choice.

massappeal Mark Thomason 7 hours ago

"The middle got too narrow to survive."

No. For example, the Nazis and the Communists *combined* only accounted for 40% of the parliamentary seats after the 1930 election. If the center-right, centrist, and center-left parties had formed an alliance, they could have governed the country. https://en.wikipedia.org/wi...

Daniel Baker massappeal 7 hours ago

I'm not really a conservative, but I share many concerns and values with conservatives. I do agree that it's better to ally with liberals and the center-left than to join right-wing authoritarians, and for that reason I have, however reluctantly, cast my mail-in vote for Joe Biden.

That said, I think you misinterpret the choice that ultimately faced German nationalists in 1932. By that time, the liberals and center-left had shrunk to powerlessness at the national level, and the republic itself was dead in all but name. The choice as the German nationalists saw it, and very likely as it actually was, was to join the communist KPD or the fascist National Socialists, both of whom were determined to kill the republic. Even a friggin' restoration of the Kaiser would have found more support at that point than the continuation of a liberal center-left republic which had been thoroughly repudiated by all the strongest players.

In retrospect, we know that even the KPD might have been less bad than the National Socialists, because the KPD probably wouldn't have blundered into another world war like the National Socialists did (Stalin, after all, avoided war with the USA and UK). But that would have been hard for German nationalists to foresee in 1932. The obvious question for them in making their choice was "Whose death list am I on?" If you were a business owner, independent farmer, or churchman, your chance of survival seemed better under the National Socialists; if you were nonwhite, or gay, or Jewish (always remember many German Jews were fervently nationalist; some of the men murdered in the camps had won Iron Crosses in World War I), you would have a better chance of survival under the KPD. If the businessmen, farmers and churchmen could have foreseen that the National Socialists were going to throw away their lives in another pointless war, they might have taken their chances with the communists instead.

Switching now to modern America, it seems as hard to predict now as it was for the Germans in 1932 which party will get us into a massive bloodbath overseas. Trump talks the nonintervention talk sometimes, but he never withdraws troops, twice came within a micron of getting us into a war with Iran, and consistently behaves bellicosely with foreign powers. Biden's record in supporting the Iraq War and the Libya intervention show that a vote for Democrats is no sure vote for peace either. In any case, dying in a conventional war is a very remote risk for most Americans; our forces are too strong and technologically advanced. Nazi Germany lost seven times more dead just invading Poland than America lost in the whole Afghanistan war. The true nightmare scenario for America is nuclear war with Russia, and there's no dispute about which party is more hostile to Russia.

My point is, if we've truly reached 1932 Weimar, it's already too late to ally with liberals and the center-left. The far right and the far left were their only options, and both led to disaster.

My fervent hope is that we're still closer to 1929 Weimar than 1932. The republic is sick, perhaps dying, but not everyone has lost faith in it; below the level of the political and media elites, confidence in the republic is still strong. The US military still supports the republic to an extent the Reichswehr never did. Biden is no fire-breathing radical; he's an establishment man to his bones. He has no idea how to cure the republic, and his policies helped bring it to this low ebb, but at least he isn't out to murder it. That's why I was willing to vote for him. But it's merely a stopgap measure. The far left is busily taking over Biden's party, and far from resisting it, he sees it as a useful ally against the right. The far right, of course, has long been doing the same to the Republican Party. We may not have arrived yet at 1932's dreadful choice between cutthroats, but we are speeding down that road, and it is crazy to imagine that a mere presidential vote for either of these two clowns is going to change our course.

What will change our course? I have only the haziest idea, and I'm eagerly looking forward to Rod's book for suggestions.

Unpaid correcter Daniel Baker 7 hours ago

This is the best answer, but radicals will just look at your "whose death list am I in" argument and say "yep the bourgeoisie should die, and so should anyone who supports them".

That's why I don't even bother anymore.

massappeal Daniel Baker 7 hours ago

Thanks for your thoughtful and informative response.

Just Stop Digging Daniel Baker 6 hours ago

Agreed that this is a thoughtful response. While I may even more reluctantly cast my ballot for a despicable lunatic instead, I relate to much of the above.

Disqus10021 Daniel Baker 5 hours ago

In the 1928 German elections, 15 political parties won seats in the Reichstag (parliament), with the Nazi party winning fewer than 3% of the seats. Germany's proportional system of allocating seats meant that even small parties could end up with a small number seats. Two years later, 15 parties again won seats in Reichstag elections. The Nazi party made the biggest gain in seats at the expense of more centrist parties. In both national elections held in 1932, 14 political parties won seats, with the Nazi party winning the most seats. The popularity of the Nazi party grew as economic conditions in the country worsened.

In 2020, the Covid-19 virus may have merely accelerated trends which were already in place in the US.

Unpaid correcter massappeal 7 hours ago

That's a stupid false equivalency and a scarecrow argument in one, maybe even a no true scotsman to go with that. You're aware that there were several conservatives opposing Hitler, right? Opposition wasn't just carried out by the far-left, some of which were in the SA/The Nazi party themselves . See: strasserism.

Books, read them

seydlitz89 16 hours ago

Rod, I agree with you about Arendt and her classic work, the best work in political history/theory of the 20th Century imo. But there is a reason why no one quotes it today. You mention only the last chapter of TOoT, but in Part II she goes into great detail about how capitalism led to imperialism which used racism as a means to that end. The "mob" originates with those displaced by The Great Transformation (Polyani's term) brought about by capitalism and the rise of bourgeois society . . . it is this mob that later forms the basis for totalitarian movements. Arendt's analysis covers a period of about 400 years, not simply the aftermath of World War I which was a result of the crisis that had already begun, that is the dissolution of the nation state . . .

marku52 seydlitz89 10 hours ago

But that would be uncomfortable to point out, as it is the rise of right wing economics that was destroyed the middle class in this country, and lead us to this parlous state.

For a long time, the right has happily embraced the culture wars to hide the destruction of the libertarian economic policies, that as always are looking for a way to crush labor power.

a Texas libertarian seydlitz89 38 minutes ago

So capitalism and the rise of the bourgeois (middle class) led to totalitarianism?

JonF311 15 hours ago

An anaylsis of the Communist takeover of Eastern Europe and East Asia that leaves out the World Wars is like an American history text that leaves out the Civil War. In every single Eurasian country from Hungary east to North Korea where the Communists came to power WWI and/or WWII was a key factor. No war, no Communist takeover. (And it regards to the Nazis in Germany WWI is also a crucial factor on their coming power)
What would play the role of those wars in our future if some manner of totalitarian government of the Left or Right junked the Constitution and seized power by force?

Just Stop Digging JonF311 15 hours ago
To be sure, none of this means that totalitarianism is inevitable. But they do signify that the weaknesses in contemporary American society are consonant with a pre-totalitarian state. Like the imperial Russians, we Americans may well be living in a fog of self-deception about our own country's stability. It only takes a catalyst like war, economic depression, plague, or some other severe and prolonged crisis that brings the legitimacy of the liberal democratic order into question.

Again, why are you responding to an argument that Rod is not making? He didn't write The Handmaid's Tale,

What were the catalysts for Cuba or Venezuela? Or the many socialist regimes in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America during the postwar decades?

Freespeak Just Stop Digging 14 hours ago

Revolutions against outside imposed dictatorships left over from a soft imperialism.

Platt Amendment, Banana Wars, School of the Americas and coups for days set up the conditions for people to not trust there near neighbor oppose to its distant enemies during the Cold War and the legacies from it created the social conditions for. We as a state literally supported death squads in Central America. Leading to the weak states and strong gangs in the region. The seeds of any empire bear bitter fruits. It is also where the police state we now see was created and imported home.

Just Stop Digging Freespeak 13 hours ago

As is so often the case, there are various partial truths in what you say but they don't add up to the simplistic conclusion. BTW Venezuela was a relatively wealthy and successful country when Chavez took over; the factors you list were long before and not involved. Rather what happened was existing inequities and problems were utilized to enable a power grab. In the same way that poor blacks and other minorities are being used to enable the current power grab, divide and conquer as always - in the end, they will be just as removed from power as they are now. Like all the woke white chicks, they are just considered useful idiots for the progressives seeking power.

We as a state literally supported death squads in Central America. Leading to the weak states and strong gangs in the region. The seeds of any empire bear bitter fruits.

Not that simple. The weak states and strong gangs came first. The weak states and corrupt governments and deep inequities created the instabilities that motivated insurgencies. Lack of a rule of law and the inability of the state to protect you forces people to turn to (and form) gangs for protection. All of this played out against a backdrop of a global conflict between two empires, two ideologies which further fueled all the conflicts.

There were death squads and all sorts of other abuses on all sides. There are no clean hands in such a conflict. It was not possible to remain neutral unless you were Swiss.

dstraws Just Stop Digging 12 hours ago

All of the problems you cite concerning central america are an outgrowth of the "governments" the US government/business imposed on those countries. The societies of central and south america were and are highly stratified with "Europeans"--ancestry--occupying the highest rung and receiving the lions share of the wealth. That's the reason Castro and Chavez had such an easy time overthrowing the governments and why there is so much resistance to a return of the previous conditions.

Just Stop Digging dstraws 11 hours ago

International relations and history are a lot more complicated than you think they are. The endless desire for Americans to find quick and dirty feel-good good vs bad answers to everything goes a long ways towards explaining the degrading of this society and its governance.

I note again that Venezuela was in a rather different state than pre-Castro Cuba. But yes having a large underclass that feels disconnected and deprived of what the rest of a society has goes provide fertile fuel for revolution.

Freespeak Just Stop Digging 11 hours ago

MS13 and Barrio 18 were born in the US from refugees fleeing our dirty wars in Central America. Poor wealth distribution leads to it. So glad you realize wealth focus is bad. Also oligarchs are bad. We supported those corrupted governments leading to the revolutions leading to the net result. Ever hear of United Fruit and the banana men? Imperial Companies support weak government because they can influence it.

Schopenhauer Just Stop Digging 12 hours ago

Well the catalyst for Cuba was Batista staging a coup, seizing power, and destroying the democratic process (with full US support) in 1952. Less than 10 years later, a popular revolution overthrew him. That revolution has proven a much tougher nut to crack. It's almost as if overthrowing democracy and giving into a strongman's appetite for power has consequences down the road.

Just Stop Digging Schopenhauer 11 hours ago

One could also say that trying to jump start / leap frog your way into equality and "justice" also has consequences down the road. A lesson that humans absolutely refuse to learn, thus condemning generation after generation into misery.

No one "gives into a strongman's appetite for power". People make choices based on incentives and possible outcomes. Rod uses the Franco example often. People often have to choose between two terrible outcomes - in which case they choose the one that has a better chance of their own survival or the survival of what they care about.

Ted JonF311 14 hours ago • edited

I can't comment about east Asia because I don't now enough about it, but as the great historian John Lukacs never tired of saying, the only country in Europe where the Bolsheviks triumphed politically was Russia. The Spartacists and the Bela Kun horror fizzled out. After the second war the Communists needed the Red Army to set up puppets. There was no "revolution" in Poland, Czech, Hungary or anywhere because nobody wanted it. Yugoslavia may be a partial exception, but look what happened to Yugoslavia.

Just Stop Digging Ted 14 hours ago

Good point. I guess we could make the argument that the Red Army sweep over Eastern Europe and absorption of all those countries into the Soviet empire required WW2 to occur, but that seems like not the argument that Jon is making in response to Rod's thesis.

Ted Just Stop Digging 13 hours ago

I was agreeing with him. But "what would play the role of those wars in our future" would be...a war. Which Biden (or, the Pentagon) has up his sleeve ("America is Back"). Experto crede. Do you not believe that the Kagan/Rubin/Boot crowd would shy from a shooting war with Russia? Because I don't.

Just Stop Digging Ted 11 hours ago

Thankfully empty-headed blabbers like Rubin and Boot are well removed from actual power (and even, I would say, influence - in fact it is unclear to me why anyone publishes their rantings). The people with influence in a Biden administration will be people like Harris, Warner, AOC, etc. I don't think they're really aching for a war.

But the point is that you don't need a war - the catalyst can be another major event like economic depression, a global pandemic, etc, etc.

Ted Just Stop Digging 8 hours ago

Well, we're asking the who/whom question only one way, it seems to me. Everybody is rightly convinced that on social and economic issues AOC and Princess Tiger Lily will have the wheel in a Biden administration. But who's to say that in foreign policy Gersonism won't prevail? All these never Trumpers are going to be looking for their rewards. Remember, Hillary destroyed Libya as a resume enhancer. And the Army has gone left. One of the things Trump mideast deal has done is set up a Sunni/Shia showdown. Why not follow through?

Just Stop Digging Ted 8 hours ago

Fair enough. I suppose that's possible, and the young AOC type progs barely know where anything on the globe is outside the US so they might be happy to let the old "experts" take back over foreign policy. Not where their interests lie, for sure.

I disagree about the mideast deals, though - a Sunni vs Shia conflict has been baked into the cake from the beginning (see: Iran Iraq war), and it was Obama's crazy Iran deal that started everyone back on that path by strengthening Iran and trying to push it into place as a regional hegemon. That was never going to go down with the Sunni countries.

The apparently not actually so naive Kushner was able to take advantage of new incentives that Obama's machinations created. I see this as quite positive.

Ted Just Stop Digging 7 hours ago

We'll agree to disagree about the mideast, which I really just brought up e.g. The one they're really lusting for is a shooting war with Putin. Have you read Gerson on that subject? What's the outcome of Mrs. Sikorsky's bellicosity but that? What else has all this NATO expansion been for, anyway?

Just Stop Digging Ted 6 hours ago

Haven't read Gerson in a while. I see your point, though I don't really think any of these people are quite reckless enough to lust for a war with a nuclear power.

But nowadays I suppose anything is possible.

Civis Romanus Sum Ted 12 hours ago

Partially correct. Czechoslovakia was an exception: Communists came to power as a result of a free election in 1946. But it was something of an outlier, probably the most left-wing country in Europe.

Ted Civis Romanus Sum 11 hours ago

Oh, "free election."

Disqus10021 JonF311 11 hours ago

It was Bush 43's costly Middle East adventures at a time when he was cutting income taxes that set the US economy on the terrible path it is on now. Our national debt is out of control. Many young people will leave college with massive student loan debt, poor job prospects and, in many areas, very expensive housing. We have paid and will continue to pay a very high price for trying to be the world's policeman.

dba12123 . Disqus10021 6 hours ago

Obama, the wild eyed leftist spender, cut the 1.2 trillion dollar deficit that W ran up with his tax cuts and catastrophic war down to 585 billion. By the end of '19, before any Covid-19 spending took place, Trump had run it back up to 984 billion. Growth has been a meager two tenths of one percent higher in the first three years of Trump's presidency than it was during the last three years of Obama and it has come at a high cost.

Rick Steven D. 15 hours ago

"...which seeks to infuse all aspects of life with political Consciousness."

Which explains the absurd phenomenon of polically-correct stand-up comics. Guess what? They're not funny. 'Whimsy' won't get you belly laughs. Trump still gets the belly laughs. Even from me, and I hate his rotten stinking guts with the white hot fury of a thousand suns.

A hundred years ago, Newtonian physics got nuked. Goodbye ordered universe, hello entropy and chaos. And we've been mopping up the fallout ever since. Ironically, years before, The Enlightenment had already started this dissolution process. So can you blame Picasso and Joyce for just trying to see things as they really are(?)

Griel Marcus traces this process in his great book Lipstick Traces. From The Brethren of the Free Spirit to the Cathars to St. Just to the Paris Commune to Duchamp and right up to The Sex Pistols, we are either fallen, or trying to achieve the colliding energy of a mere collection of atoms. The Lettrists even took a cue from Finnegans Wake and carved up the damn language, for Chr--sakes. And they've been doing it ever since.

So can you blame the great Stockard Channing, in Six Degrees of Seperation, 1993, for meditating on a Kandinsky and then coming to the same conclusion that many of us poor benighted souls have in these absurd times: 'I am all random.'

Connecticut Farmer 15 hours ago

"...the personal is political..."

Haven't heard that one in a long time. It's sooo--"Sixties."

Kent 15 hours ago

Arendt's fine. But I'll go with Carville's "It's the economy stupid".

When a young man who isn't "college material" has no economic future, he's going to find a way to make one. If it requires totalitarianism, so be it. Indeed, totalitarian ideologies can only flourish in an environment when bored, penniless young men have the time to read up on them.

Imagine all of those black guys rioting or white skinheads having to get up early in the morning for 10 hours of hard-work at the factory or on someone's roof. A couple of beers after work and your ready for bed, not revolution. Hence the great America of the '50's - the '80's.

WilliamRD 15 hours ago

Here's the former Chief Executive Officer of Twitter in all his glory.

https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1311472075903647750&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fdisqus.com%2Fembed%2Fcomments%2F%3Fbase%3Ddefault%26f%3Dtac1%26t_i%3D%26t_u%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.theamericanconservative.com%252Farticles%252Famerica-is-on-the-road-to-revolution%252F%26t_e%3D%26t_d%3DAmerica%2520is%2520on%2520The%2520Road%2520to%2520Revolution%2520%257C%2520The%2520American%2520Conservative%26t_t%3DAmerica%2520is%2520on%2520The%2520Road%2520to%2520Revolution%2520%257C%2520The%2520American%2520Conservative%26s_o%3Ddefault%26l%3Den%23version%3Dd716a1690aa4a08a02a6dcd8b6774c08&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=550px

WilliamRD 15 hours ago

Biden Staffer: Traditional Religious Beliefs Should Be 'Taboo' and 'Disqualifiers' for Public Office

https://pjmedia.com/electio...

Just Stop Digging 15 hours ago

I have no idea what's coming, but we are trying to reduce our exposure by moving out of the city, as far as we can reasonably go for now until retirement. We are frantically trying to get our house on the market and hoping that thanks to the magic of "gentrification" (hopefully prospective buyers won't notice the giant "F*** Gentrifiers" spray painted on a nearby wall) we can trade our overvalued home into two properties - one in a distant town past the outer suburbs and another somewhere overseas where we can run to when things get really bad. That's the dream, at least. But the city we have already left and won't be going back.

Ted Just Stop Digging 14 hours ago

Very close to our plan.

FL Transplant Just Stop Digging an hour ago

I'm sure the overseas locations will be absolutely overjoyed to have a couple of US refugees, with no ties to the country or area, who don't speak the language or have any cultural understanding or background, and expect to instantly be fully integrated into the economic and social fabric, showing up.

Have you considered that you'll be akin to a Central American family moving into the outer suburb neighborhood you desire to live in, albeit one with more resources and legal status?

KevinS 14 hours ago • edited

"Trump's exaltation of personal loyalty over expertise is discreditable and corrupting. But how can liberals complain? Loyalty to the group or the tribe is at the core of leftist identity politics."

Whataboutism in our time!

CascadianPatriot KevinS 4 hours ago • edited

It's not whataboutism if it's mutually true.
Besides, whataboutism never gets anyone anywhere good.

KevinS CascadianPatriot 4 hours ago

Rod has never articulated that rule.....

WilliamRD 14 hours ago

"Progressive" Attacks on Capitalism Were Key to Hitler's Success

https://mises.org/library/p...

Ted WilliamRD 14 hours ago

The Horst Wessel Lied lyrics mention "Rotfront und Reaktion" as the enemies of National Socialism.

EmpireLoyalist 14 hours ago

Just when you thought the hypocrisy and the double-standard had reached the limits of what is humanly possible, Biden takes it up a notch.
After spending the last few months tearing up cities and threatening to burn down the country if they don't win in November, the Democrats now accuse Trump of putting the Proud Boys on stand-by???
Even my dog is laughing at this.
[How do these kooky communists even get elected to dog-catcher???]

Freespeak 14 hours ago

https://www.bellingcat.com/...

https://www.bellingcat.com/...

Sliver legion or SA?

Just saying both sides are playing this game. One is just doing it with more guns and state security support. The left has greater cultural focus cause those are the positions that interest them. This is the creation of capitalism.

Enoch Lambert 14 hours ago

If Rod paid more attention to all the data and not just those that feed his hysteria, he'd learn that there are all kinds of backlash within liberal and far left circles to the excesses he rightly decries. In fact, I think there is more self-correction and self-regulation going on within "the left" than on Rod's side of the spectrum

Just Stop Digging Enoch Lambert 14 hours ago

Do you have any examples of this self correction? I've been living in a far left neighborhood in a permanent liberal Democratic city for decades, and I don't see it (well now we fled so I can't speak for what happens next).

There are occasionally people who will whisper something in my ear or my wife's ear that suggests they recognize some lunacy that's going on. But they would never admit that publicly. And all evidence suggests there are still very few of such people.

The whole point of Rod's thesis is that the vast majority of people will go along with the tide even if they don't believe it - they will live their lives by lies. Very few people have the courage to take a stand in such circumstances, as history makes all too clear. The progressive left, again as has been made clear over and over, now owns all the institutions that matter in the US - with woke capitalism being the final crown. What Rod says is coming, is coming.

BanBait Just Stop Digging 12 hours ago

If Biden wins, 98% of North America is going to become an instant 2nd Amendment Sanctuary.

D Moor Enoch Lambert 13 hours ago

Elaborate? Are there links you can share??

Ted Enoch Lambert 12 hours ago

Say hello to all your friends on planet Venus.

R.C. Smith 14 hours ago

Without the '65 "immigration reform" act none of this would be happening. This isn't the result of personal loneliness, it's the inevitable result of becoming, in Eugene McCarthy's phrase, a colony of the world. The radical turn to the left is a direct result of anti-white bloc voting by immigrants. (Indeed you have to be willfully blind not to notice the high percentage of spokesmen for the extreme left who are immigrants or the children of immigrants.) This is a race war against white America, in which the cultural establishment and the government they shape are the leading protagonists. Classic racist colonialism, with the bizarre twist that perhaps a third of the white population supports the annihilation of their own peoples and cultures. For the others it's simply a Scramble For America, a rush to get money, territory, and power with the natives footing the bill.

Schopenhauer R.C. Smith 12 hours ago

Who wants to be the one to tell this guy that many of us lefty children of immigrant parents are white? As were our parents. Amazing, I know!

R.C. Smith Schopenhauer 8 hours ago

Irrelevant. It's the immigrant vote that puts them over. The vast majority of immigration is non-white. It's immigration that has California not electing a Republican to statewide office in 15 years, and nothing else. Don't take my word for it, the left itself has been telling Republicans for decades that the demographics are against them. It's an acknowledgement of the reality of identity bloc voting and the reason they support open borders. In any case, I mentioned you when I wrote about that mentally ill third of whites that supports self-annihilation.

massappeal R.C. Smith 7 hours ago

Tweak a few words at the fringes and this could have been written 100 years ago by a nativist about the Italians and the Jews and the Poles.

RAF 13 hours ago

Mr. Dreher! Now you are on the right course. GERMANY!!!!

Eric Hoffer wrote the best book on this subject in the early 50s Mass Movements

Some of these quotes are relevant.

The book is priceless to understand this topic..

https://www.amazon.com/True...

"""It is probably as true that violence breeds fanaticism as that fanaticism begets violence. Fanatical orthodoxy is in all movements a late development. There is hardly an example of a mass movement achieving vast proportions and a durable organization solely by persuasion. It was a temporal sword that made Christianity a world religion. Conquest and conversion were hand in hand. Reformation made headways only where it gained the backing of the ruling prince or local government. The missionary zeal seems rather an expression of some deep misgivings. Proselytizing is more a passionate search for something not yet found than to bestow upon the world something we already have. The proselytizing fanatic strengthens his own faith by converting others.

A true believer is eternally incomplete and eternally insecure.

Mass movements do not usually rise until the prevailing order has been discredited. A full blown mass movement is a ruthless affair, and its management is in the hands of ruthless fanatics. A Luther who when first defying the established church, spoke feelingly of "the poor, simple, common folk," proclaimed later when he allied with the German princelings, that "God would prefer to suffer to government to exist no matter how evil, rather than allow the rabble to riot, not matter how justified they are in doing so."

"Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil."

However, the freedom the masses crave is not freedom of self-expression and self-realization, but the freedom from the intolerable burden of an autonomous existence. They want freedom from the arduous responsibility of realizing their ineffectual selves and shouldering the blame for the blemished product. They do not want freedom of conscience, but faith -- blind, authoritarian faith. """"""

Kingo Gondo 13 hours ago

Biden of course is scarcely a totalitarian figure--Trump is more suited to that role. But Biden would fit nicely as a von Hindenburg for the Loony Left.

mw006 Kingo Gondo 8 hours ago

How in the hell is Trump a totalitarian figure? I hear this calumny hurled at him time and time again, but without any specifics. Tell me, what specific totalitarian actions has he actually taken?

massappeal mw006 7 hours ago

Support for violent white supremacist groups. Using the Dept. of Justice to target political enemies. Adopting a Republican platform that consists solely of fealty to the party leader.

Krystal Sumner 13 hours ago • edited

Over the past 6 months or so, my husband has been listening to a lot of Jordan Peterson and I have definitely noticed a shift in his thinking. A good one! I, myself, just finished listening to his book, 12 Rules For Life and am now going through his Podcast episodes. It's quite fascinating! Rogan has also received a lot of flak for having Peterson on his show several times.

I went and listened to the episodes with Abigail Shrier and Douglas Murray (at your suggestion) and now have their books (as well as your's) sitting in my audible library.

BanBait 12 hours ago

Most of what you say is true, save for the usefulness of the "experts", the credentialed ones who have shown themselves to be absolute morons, incompetents and political hacks. (Think, Fauci.)

Revanchist 12 hours ago

Imagine if one hundred years ago you told the founding stock of this nation that every American institution would be weaponized against their own history and heritage. Imagine if you told them our universities, media, churches and immigration system were all being used to demonize and demographically displace their own posterity. They must be rolling over in their graves because that is exactly what is happening.

massappeal Revanchist 7 hours ago

In 1920? Large numbers of them absolutely would have believed it. In fact, millions of them *did* believe it. The country was being overrun by Italians, Poles, Greeks, Serbs, Russians. A frightening number of them were Jews and Catholics. They smelled funny, spoke weird languages, had bizarre beliefs and customs, cooked and ate strange foods. They were lazy bums who were taking all our jobs. At a rally in Rhode Island, the Grand Imperial Wizard proclaimed to thousands that the KKK stood for undying opposition to "Koons, Kikes, & Katholics".

And it's come true! Look, for example, who's on the Supreme Court.

FL Transplant massappeal an hour ago

Not to mention that the Jews were over-running colleges. Keeping them out required changes to admissions practices to make things other than pure academic ability deciding factors. Hence the emphasis on "the whole person", where a good background, good family, athletic ability, and being someone you'd want to associate with in your club began to over-ride performance on the academic tests that had previously been used to determine admissions.

EmpireLoyalist 12 hours ago • edited

Just soft totalitarianism? That seems incredibly pollyann-ish - delusionally optimistic.
If Biden wins, the USA, the EU and Red China will move swiftly to exterminate the remnants of Christian Civilisation - and anybody associated with it.
Bishop Vigano seems to share this view. ( https://www.lifesitenews.co...
[Anyway, we ALREADY have "soft totalitarianism". Need proof? Just go down to your HR department and tell them that you believe homosexual activity is immoral.]
As much as somebody may dislike Trump's personality, Biden is just not an option.
Biden = ethno-cultural extinction
As adults, we don't get to indulge our own childish sensitivities. We don't get to participate in this political fantasy-land alt-universe - where monstrous evil is praised as virtuous, and goodness is labelled as vice.

FL Transplant EmpireLoyalist an hour ago

Just go down to your HR department and tell them that you believe homosexual activity is immoral.

I imagine you'll get a reaction similar to that if you went down to HR and ranted about how sex outside of marriage is immoral, or lectured how sodomy is a crime against nature and its practitioners deserve to burn in Hell.

Room_237 12 hours ago • edited

I used to have a Ukrainian woman on my staff. When my younger staff all started in 2016 expressing support for Sanders she freaked. Then she freaked over Trump.

We are screwed. My decision to vote for Biden is predicated upon the hope that a boring gaff prone Biden presidency will allow a return to normalcy.

WilliamRD Room_237 11 hours ago

A vote for Biden is a vote for the radical totalitarian left. Packing the supreme court. Ending the Senate Filibuster and open borders. The country as we know it will be over. Certain end of the First and Second amendments. I don't find you credible at all

Room_237 WilliamRD 10 hours ago

Is it? We have seen Biden in public life for the past 48 years. He is no conservative but a radical totalitarian? No -- that is not him.

I'll take him over the incompetence and general horribleness of Trump anyday.

[Jun 18, 2020] Populism vs. inverted totalitarism and the illusion of choice in the US elections

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The endless and extravagant election cycles, he said, are an example of politics without politics. ..."
"... "Instead of participating in power," he writes, "the virtual citizen is invited to have 'opinions': measurable responses to questions predesigned to elicit them." ..."
"... Political campaigns rarely discuss substantive issues. They center on manufactured political personalities, empty rhetoric, sophisticated public relations, slick advertising, propaganda and the constant use of focus groups and opinion polls to loop back to voters what they want to hear. Money has effectively replaced the vote. Every current presidential candidate -- including Bernie Sanders -- understands, to use Wolin's words, that "the subject of empire is taboo in electoral debates." The citizen is irrelevant. He or she is nothing more than a spectator, allowed to vote and then forgotten once the carnival of elections ends and corporations and their lobbyists get back to the business of ruling. ..."
"... "If the main purpose of elections is to serve up pliant legislators for lobbyists to shape, such a system deserves to be called 'misrepresentative or clientry government,' " Wolin writes. "It is, at one and the same time, a powerful contributing factor to the depoliticization of the citizenry, as well as reason for characterizing the system as one of antidemocracy." ..."
"... We are tolerated as citizens, Wolin warns, only as long as we participate in the illusion of a participatory democracy. The moment we rebel and refuse to take part in the illusion, the face of inverted totalitarianism will look like the face of past systems of totalitarianism. ..."
"... "The significance of the African-American prison population is political," ..."
Jun 02, 2020 | www.truthdig.com

...Inverted totalitarianism also "perpetuates politics all the time," Wolin said when we spoke, "but a politics that is not political." The endless and extravagant election cycles, he said, are an example of politics without politics.

"Instead of participating in power," he writes, "the virtual citizen is invited to have 'opinions': measurable responses to questions predesigned to elicit them."

Political campaigns rarely discuss substantive issues. They center on manufactured political personalities, empty rhetoric, sophisticated public relations, slick advertising, propaganda and the constant use of focus groups and opinion polls to loop back to voters what they want to hear. Money has effectively replaced the vote. Every current presidential candidate -- including Bernie Sanders -- understands, to use Wolin's words, that "the subject of empire is taboo in electoral debates." The citizen is irrelevant. He or she is nothing more than a spectator, allowed to vote and then forgotten once the carnival of elections ends and corporations and their lobbyists get back to the business of ruling.

"If the main purpose of elections is to serve up pliant legislators for lobbyists to shape, such a system deserves to be called 'misrepresentative or clientry government,' " Wolin writes. "It is, at one and the same time, a powerful contributing factor to the depoliticization of the citizenry, as well as reason for characterizing the system as one of antidemocracy."

The result, he writes, is that the public is "denied the use of state power." Wolin deplores the trivialization of political discourse, a tactic used to leave the public fragmented, antagonistic and emotionally charged while leaving corporate power and empire unchallenged.

"Cultural wars might seem an indication of strong political involvements," he writes. "Actually they are a substitute. The notoriety they receive from the media and from politicians eager to take firm stands on nonsubstantive issues serves to distract attention and contribute to a cant politics of the inconsequential."

"The ruling groups can now operate on the assumption that they don't need the traditional notion of something called a public in the broad sense of a coherent whole," he said in our meeting. "They now have the tools to deal with the very disparities and differences that they have themselves helped to create. It's a game in which you manage to undermine the cohesiveness that the public requires if they [the public] are to be politically effective. And at the same time, you create these different, distinct groups that inevitably find themselves in tension or at odds or in competition with other groups, so that it becomes more of a melee than it does become a way of fashioning majorities."

In classical totalitarian regimes, such as those of Nazi fascism or Soviet communism, economics was subordinate to politics. But "under inverted totalitarianism the reverse is true," Wolin writes. "Economics dominates politics -- and with that domination comes different forms of ruthlessness."He continues: "The United States has become the showcase of how democracy can be managed without appearing to be suppressed."

The corporate state, Wolin told me, is "legitimated by elections it controls." To extinguish democracy, it rewrites and distorts laws and legislation that once protected democracy. Basic rights are, in essence, revoked by judicial and legislative fiat. Courts and legislative bodies, in the service of corporate power, reinterpret laws to strip them of their original meaning in order to strengthen corporate control and abolish corporate oversight.

He writes: "Why negate a constitution, as the Nazis did, if it is possible simultaneously to exploit porosity and legitimate power by means of judicial interpretations that declare huge campaign contributions to be protected speech under the First Amendment, or that treat heavily financed and organized lobbying by large corporations as a simple application of the people's right to petition their government?"

Our system of inverted totalitarianism will avoid harsh and violent measures of control "as long as dissent remains ineffectual," he told me. "The government does not need to stamp out dissent. The uniformity of imposed public opinion through the corporate media does a very effective job."

And the elites, especially the intellectual class, have been bought off. "Through a combination of governmental contracts, corporate and foundation funds, joint projects involving university and corporate researchers, and wealthy individual donors, universities (especially so-called research universities), intellectuals, scholars, and researchers have been seamlessly integrated into the system," Wolin writes. "No books burned, no refugee Einsteins."

But, he warns, should the population -- steadily stripped of its most basic rights, including the right to privacy, and increasingly impoverished and bereft of hope -- become restive, inverted totalitarianism will become as brutal and violent as past totalitarian states. "The war on terrorism, with its accompanying emphasis upon 'homeland security,' presumes that state power, now inflated by doctrines of preemptive war and released from treaty obligations and the potential constraints of international judicial bodies, can turn inwards," he writes, "confident that in its domestic pursuit of terrorists the powers it claimed, like the powers projected abroad, would be measured, not by ordinary constitutional standards, but by the shadowy and ubiquitous character of terrorism as officially defined."

The indiscriminate police violence in poor communities of color is an example of the ability of the corporate state to "legally" harass and kill citizens with impunity. The cruder forms of control -- from militarized police to wholesale surveillance, as well as police serving as judge, jury and executioner, now a reality for the underclass -- will become a reality for all of us should we begin to resist the continued funneling of power and wealth upward. We are tolerated as citizens, Wolin warns, only as long as we participate in the illusion of a participatory democracy. The moment we rebel and refuse to take part in the illusion, the face of inverted totalitarianism will look like the face of past systems of totalitarianism.

"The significance of the African-American prison population is political," he writes. "What is notable about the African-American population generally is that it is highly sophisticated politically and by far the one group that throughout the twentieth century kept alive a spirit of resistance and rebelliousness. In that context, criminal justice is as much a strategy of political neutralization as it is a channel of instinctive racism."

[Jun 02, 2020] Sheldon Wolin and Inverted Totalitarianism

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "Instead of participating in power," he writes, "the virtual citizen is invited to have 'opinions': measurable responses to questions predesigned to elicit them." ..."
"... Political campaigns rarely discuss substantive issues. They center on manufactured political personalities, empty rhetoric, sophisticated public relations, slick advertising, propaganda and the constant use of focus groups and opinion polls to loop back to voters what they want to hear. Money has effectively replaced the vote. Every current presidential candidate -- including Bernie Sanders -- understands, to use Wolin's words, that "the subject of empire is taboo in electoral debates." The citizen is irrelevant. He or she is nothing more than a spectator, allowed to vote and then forgotten once the carnival of elections ends and corporations and their lobbyists get back to the business of ruling. ..."
"... "If the main purpose of elections is to serve up pliant legislators for lobbyists to shape, such a system deserves to be called 'misrepresentative or clientry government,' " Wolin writes. "It is, at one and the same time, a powerful contributing factor to the depoliticization of the citizenry, as well as reason for characterizing the system as one of antidemocracy." ..."
Jun 02, 2020 | www.truthdig.com

Sheldon Wolin, our most important contemporary political theorist, died Oct. 21 at the age of 93. In his books " Democracy Incorporated : Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism" and " Politics and Vision ," a massive survey of Western political thought that his former student Cornel West calls "magisterial," Wolin lays bare the realities of our bankrupt democracy, the causes behind the decline of American empire and the rise of a new and terrifying configuration of corporate power he calls "inverted totalitarianism."

Wendy Brown , a political science professor at UC Berkeley and another former student of Wolin's, said in an email to me: "Resisting the monopolies on left theory by Marxism and on democratic theory by liberalism, Wolin developed a distinctive -- even distinctively American -- analysis of the political present and of radical democratic possibilities. He was especially prescient in theorizing the heavy statism forging what we now call neoliberalism , and in revealing the novel fusions of economic with political power that he took to be poisoning democracy at its root."

Wolin throughout his scholarship charted the devolution of American democracy and in his last book, "Democracy Incorporated," details our peculiar form of corporate totalitarianism. "One cannot point to any national institution[s] that can accurately be described as democratic," he writes in that book, "surely not in the highly managed, money-saturated elections, the lobby-infested Congress, the imperial presidency, the class-biased judicial and penal system, or, least of all, the media."

Inverted totalitarianism is different from classical forms of totalitarianism. It does not find its expression in a demagogue or charismatic leader but in the faceless anonymity of the corporate state. Our inverted totalitarianism pays outward fealty to the facade of electoral politics, the Constitution, civil liberties, freedom of the press, the independence of the judiciary, and the iconography, traditions and language of American patriotism, but it has effectively seized all of the mechanisms of power to render the citizen impotent.

"Unlike the Nazis, who made life uncertain for the wealthy and privileged while providing social programs for the working class and poor, inverted totalitarianism exploits the poor, reducing or weakening health programs and social services, regimenting mass education for an insecure workforce threatened by the importation of low-wage workers," Wolin writes. "Employment in a high-tech, volatile, and globalized economy is normally as precarious as during an old-fashioned depression. The result is that citizenship, or what remains of it, is practiced amidst a continuing state of worry. Hobbes had it right: when citizens are insecure and at the same time driven by competitive aspirations, they yearn for political stability rather than civic engagement, protection rather than political involvement." Inverted totalitarianism, Wolin said when we met at his home in Salem, Ore., in 2014 to film a nearly three-hour interview , constantly "projects power upwards." It is "the antithesis of constitutional power." It is designed to create instability to keep a citizenry off balance and passive.

He writes, "Downsizing, reorganization, bubbles bursting, unions busted, quickly outdated skills, and transfer of jobs abroad create not just fear but an economy of fear, a system of control whose power feeds on uncertainty, yet a system that, according to its analysts, is eminently rational."

Inverted totalitarianism also "perpetuates politics all the time," Wolin said when we spoke, "but a politics that is not political." The endless and extravagant election cycles, he said, are an example of politics without politics.

"Instead of participating in power," he writes, "the virtual citizen is invited to have 'opinions': measurable responses to questions predesigned to elicit them."

Political campaigns rarely discuss substantive issues. They center on manufactured political personalities, empty rhetoric, sophisticated public relations, slick advertising, propaganda and the constant use of focus groups and opinion polls to loop back to voters what they want to hear. Money has effectively replaced the vote. Every current presidential candidate -- including Bernie Sanders -- understands, to use Wolin's words, that "the subject of empire is taboo in electoral debates." The citizen is irrelevant. He or she is nothing more than a spectator, allowed to vote and then forgotten once the carnival of elections ends and corporations and their lobbyists get back to the business of ruling.

"If the main purpose of elections is to serve up pliant legislators for lobbyists to shape, such a system deserves to be called 'misrepresentative or clientry government,' " Wolin writes. "It is, at one and the same time, a powerful contributing factor to the depoliticization of the citizenry, as well as reason for characterizing the system as one of antidemocracy."

The result, he writes, is that the public is "denied the use of state power." Wolin deplores the trivialization of political discourse, a tactic used to leave the public fragmented, antagonistic and emotionally charged while leaving corporate power and empire unchallenged.

"Cultural wars might seem an indication of strong political involvements," he writes. "Actually they are a substitute. The notoriety they receive from the media and from politicians eager to take firm stands on nonsubstantive issues serves to distract attention and contribute to a cant politics of the inconsequential."

"The ruling groups can now operate on the assumption that they don't need the traditional notion of something called a public in the broad sense of a coherent whole," he said in our meeting. "They now have the tools to deal with the very disparities and differences that they have themselves helped to create. It's a game in which you manage to undermine the cohesiveness that the public requires if they [the public] are to be politically effective. And at the same time, you create these different, distinct groups that inevitably find themselves in tension or at odds or in competition with other groups, so that it becomes more of a melee than it does become a way of fashioning majorities."

In classical totalitarian regimes, such as those of Nazi fascism or Soviet communism, economics was subordinate to politics. But "under inverted totalitarianism the reverse is true," Wolin writes. "Economics dominates politics -- and with that domination comes different forms of ruthlessness."He continues: "The United States has become the showcase of how democracy can be managed without appearing to be suppressed."

The corporate state, Wolin told me, is "legitimated by elections it controls." To extinguish democracy, it rewrites and distorts laws and legislation that once protected democracy. Basic rights are, in essence, revoked by judicial and legislative fiat. Courts and legislative bodies, in the service of corporate power, reinterpret laws to strip them of their original meaning in order to strengthen corporate control and abolish corporate oversight.

He writes: "Why negate a constitution, as the Nazis did, if it is possible simultaneously to exploit porosity and legitimate power by means of judicial interpretations that declare huge campaign contributions to be protected speech under the First Amendment, or that treat heavily financed and organized lobbying by large corporations as a simple application of the people's right to petition their government?"

Our system of inverted totalitarianism will avoid harsh and violent measures of control "as long as dissent remains ineffectual," he told me. "The government does not need to stamp out dissent. The uniformity of imposed public opinion through the corporate media does a very effective job."

And the elites, especially the intellectual class, have been bought off. "Through a combination of governmental contracts, corporate and foundation funds, joint projects involving university and corporate researchers, and wealthy individual donors, universities (especially so-called research universities), intellectuals, scholars, and researchers have been seamlessly integrated into the system," Wolin writes. "No books burned, no refugee Einsteins."

But, he warns, should the population -- steadily stripped of its most basic rights, including the right to privacy, and increasingly impoverished and bereft of hope -- become restive, inverted totalitarianism will become as brutal and violent as past totalitarian states. "The war on terrorism, with its accompanying emphasis upon 'homeland security,' presumes that state power, now inflated by doctrines of preemptive war and released from treaty obligations and the potential constraints of international judicial bodies, can turn inwards," he writes, "confident that in its domestic pursuit of terrorists the powers it claimed, like the powers projected abroad, would be measured, not by ordinary constitutional standards, but by the shadowy and ubiquitous character of terrorism as officially defined."

The indiscriminate police violence in poor communities of color is an example of the ability of the corporate state to "legally" harass and kill citizens with impunity. The cruder forms of control -- from militarized police to wholesale surveillance, as well as police serving as judge, jury and executioner, now a reality for the underclass -- will become a reality for all of us should we begin to resist the continued funneling of power and wealth upward. We are tolerated as citizens, Wolin warns, only as long as we participate in the illusion of a participatory democracy. The moment we rebel and refuse to take part in the illusion, the face of inverted totalitarianism will look like the face of past systems of totalitarianism.

"The significance of the African-American prison population is political," he writes. "What is notable about the African-American population generally is that it is highly sophisticated politically and by far the one group that throughout the twentieth century kept alive a spirit of resistance and rebelliousness. In that context, criminal justice is as much a strategy of political neutralization as it is a channel of instinctive racism."

In his writings, Wolin expresses consternation for a population severed from print and the nuanced world of ideas. He sees cinema, like television, as "tyrannical" because of its ability to "block out, eliminate whatever might introduce qualification, ambiguity, or dialogue." He rails against what he calls a "monochromatic media" with corporate-approved pundits used to identify "the problem and its parameters, creating a box that dissenters struggle vainly to elude. The critic who insists on changing the context is dismissed as irrelevant, extremist, 'the Left' -- or ignored altogether."

The constant dissemination of illusions permits myth rather than reality to dominate the decisions of the power elites. And when myth dominates, disaster descends upon the empire, as 14 years of futile war in the Middle East and our failure to react to climate change illustrate. Wolin writes:

When myth begins to govern decision-makers in a world where ambiguity and stubborn facts abound, the result is a disconnect between the actors and the reality. They convince themselves that the forces of darkness possess weapons of mass destruction and nuclear capabilities: that their own nation is privileged by a god who inspired the Founding Fathers and the writing of the nation's constitution; and that a class structure of great and stubborn inequalities does not exist. A grim but joyous few see portents of a world that is living out "the last days."

Wolin was a bombardier and a navigator on a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber in the South Pacific in World War II. He flew 51 combat missions. The planes had crews of up to 10. From Guadalcanal, he advanced with American forces as they captured islands in the Pacific. During the campaign the military high command decided to direct the B-24 bombers -- which were huge and difficult to fly in addition to having little maneuverability -- against Japanese ships, a tactic that saw tremendous losses of planes and American lives. The use of the B-24, nicknamed "the flying boxcar" and "the flying coffin," to attack warships bristling with antiaircraft guns exposed for Wolin the callousness of military commanders who blithely sacrificed their air crews and war machines in schemes that offered little chance of success.

"It was terrible," he said of the orders to bomb ships. "We received awful losses from that, because these big, lumbering aircraft, particularly flying low trying to hit the Japanese navy -- and we lost countless people in it, countless."

"We had quite a few psychological casualties men, boys, who just couldn't take it anymore," he said, "just couldn't stand the strain of getting up at 5 in the morning and proceeding to get into these aircraft and go and getting shot at for a while and coming back to rest for another day."Wolin saw the militarists and the corporatists, who formed an unholy coalition to orchestrate the rise of a global American empire after the war, as the forces that extinguished American democracy. He called inverted totalitarianism "the true face of Superpower." These war profiteers and militarists, advocating the doctrine of total war during the Cold War, bled the country of resources. They also worked in tandem to dismantle popular institutions and organizations such as labor unions to politically disempower and impoverish workers. They "normalized" war. And Wolin warns that, as in all empires, they eventually will be "eviscerated by their own expansionism." There will never be a return to democracy, he cautions, until the unchecked power of the militarists and corporatists is dramatically curtailed. A war state cannot be a democratic state.

Wolin writes:

National defense was declared inseparable from a strong economy. The fixation upon mobilization and rearmament inspired the gradual disappearance from the national political agenda of the regulation and control of corporations. The defender of the free world needed the power of the globalizing, expanding corporation, not an economy hampered by "trust busting." Moreover, since the enemy was rabidly anticapitalist, every measure that strengthened capitalism was a blow against the enemy. Once the battle lines between communism and the "free society" were drawn, the economy became untouchable for purposes other than "strengthening" capitalism. The ultimate merger would be between capitalism and democracy. Once the identity and security of democracy were successfully identified with the Cold War and with the methods for waging it, the stage was set for the intimidation of most politics left or right.

The result is a nation dedicated almost exclusively to waging war.

"When a constitutionally limited government utilizes weapons of horrendous destructive power, subsidizes their development, and becomes the world's largest arms dealer," Wolin writes, "the Constitution is conscripted to serve as power's apprentice rather than its conscience."

He goes on:

That the patriotic citizen unswervingly supports the military and its huge budget means that conservatives have succeeded in persuading the public that the military is distinct from government. Thus the most substantial element of state power is removed from public debate. Similarly in his/her new status as imperial citizen the believer remains contemptuous of bureaucracy yet does not hesitate to obey the directives issued by the Department of Homeland Security, the largest and most intrusive governmental department in the history of the nation. Identification with militarism and patriotism, along with the images of American might projected by the media, serves to make the individual citizen feel stronger, thereby compensating for the feelings of weakness visited by the economy upon an overworked, exhausted, and insecure labor force. For its antipolitics inverted totalitarianism requires believers, patriots, and nonunion "guest workers."

Sheldon Wolin was often considered an outcast among contemporary political theorists whose concentration on quantitative analysis and behaviorialism led them to eschew the examination of broad political theory and ideas. Wolin insisted that philosophy, even that written by the ancient Greeks, was not a dead relic but a vital tool to examine and challenge the assumptions and ideologies of contemporary systems of power and political thought. Political theory, he argued, was "primarily a civic and secondarily an academic activity." It had a role "not just as an historical discipline that dealt with the critical examination of idea systems," he told me, but as a force "in helping to fashion public policies and governmental directions, and above all civic education, in a way that would further the goals of a more democratic, more egalitarian, more educated society." His 1969 essay "Political Theory as a Vocation" argued for this imperative and chastised fellow academics who focused their work on data collection and academic minutiae. He writes, with his usual lucidity and literary flourishes, in that essay:

In a fundamental sense, our world has become as perhaps no previous world has, the product of design, the product of theories about human structures deliberately created rather than historically articulated. But in another sense, the embodiment of theory in the world has resulted in a world impervious to theory. The giant, routinized structures defy fundamental alteration and, at the same time, display an unchallengeable legitimacy, for the rational, scientific, and technological principles on which they are based seem in perfect accord with an age committed to science, rationalism and technology. Above all, it is a world which appears to have rendered epic theory superfluous. Theory, as Hegel had foreseen, must take the form of "explanation." Truly, it seems to be the age when Minerva's owl has taken flight.

Wolin's 1960 masterpiece "Politics and Vision," subtitled "Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought," drew on a vast array of political theorists and philosophers including Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Immanuel Kant, John Locke, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Thomas Hobbes, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, Max Weber, John Dewey and Hannah Arendt to reflect back to us our political and cultural reality. His task, he stated at the end of the book, was, "in the era of Superpower," to "nurture the civic consciousness of the society." The imperative to amplify and protect democratic traditions from the contemporary forces that sought to destroy them permeated all of his work, including his books " Hobbes and the Epic Tradition of Political Theory " and " Tocqueville Between Two Worlds : The Making of a Political and Theoretical Life."

Wolin's magnificence as a scholar was matched by his magnificence as a human being. He stood with students at UC Berkeley, where he taught, to support the Free Speech Movement and wrote passionately in its defense. Many of these essays were published in "The Berkeley Rebellion and Beyond: Essays on Politics and Education in the Technological Society." Later, as a professor at Princeton University, he was one of a handful of faculty members who joined students to call for divestment of investments in apartheid South Africa. He once accompanied students to present the case to Princeton alumni. "I've never been jeered quite so roundly," he said. "Some of them called me [a] 50-year-old sophomore and that kind of thing."

From 1981 to 1983, Wolin published Democracy: A Journal of Political Renewal and Radical Change. In its pages he and other writers called out the con game of neoliberalism, the danger of empire, the rise of unchecked corporate power and the erosion of democratic institutions and ideals. The journal swiftly made him a pariah within the politics department at Princeton."I remember once when I was up editing that journal, I left a copy of it on the table in the faculty room hoping that somebody would read it and comment," he said. "I never heard a word. And during all the time I was there and doing Democracy, I never had one colleague come up to me and either say something positive or even negative about it. Just absolute silence."

Max Weber , whom Wolin called "the greatest of all sociologists," argues in his essay "Politics as a Vocation" that those who dedicate their lives to striving for justice in the modern political arena are like the classical heroes who can never overcome what the ancient Greeks called fortuna. These heroes, Wolin writes in "Politics and Vision," rise up nevertheless "to heights of moral passion and grandeur, harried by a deep sense of responsibility." Yet, Wolin goes on, "at bottom, [the contemporary hero] is a figure as futile and pathetic as his classical counterpart. The fate of the classical hero was that he could never overcome contingency or fortuna ; the special irony of the modern hero is that he struggles in a world where contingency has been routed by bureaucratized procedures and nothing remains for the hero to contend against. Weber's political leader is rendered superfluous by the very bureaucratic world that Weber discovered: even charisma has been bureaucratized. We are left with the ambiguity of the political man fired by deep passion -- 'to be passionate, ira et studium , is the element of the political leader' -- but facing the impersonal world of bureaucracy which lives by the passionless principle that Weber frequently cited, sine ira et studio , 'without scorn or bias.' "

Wolin writes that even when faced with certain defeat, all of us are called to the "awful responsibility" of the fight for justice, equality and liberty.

"You don't win," Wolin said at the end of our talk. "Or you win rarely. And if you win, it's often for a very short time. That's why politics is a vocation for Weber. It's not an occasional undertaking that we assume every two years or every four years when there's an election. It's a constant occupation and preoccupation. And the problem, as Weber saw it, was to understand it not as a partisan kind of education in the politicians or political party sense, but as in the broad understanding of what political life should be and what is required to make it sustainable. He's calling for a certain kind of understanding that's very different from what we think about when we associate political understanding with how do you vote or what party do you support or what cause do you support. Weber's asking us to step back and say what kind of political order, and the values associated with it that it promotes, are we willing to really give a lot for, including sacrifice."

Wolin embodied the qualities Weber ascribes to the hero. He struggled against forces he knew he could not vanquish. He never wavered in the fight as an intellectual and, more important, in the fight as a citizen. He was one of the first to explain to us the transformation of our capitalist democracy into a new species of totalitarianism. He warned us of the consequences of unbridled empire or superpower. He called on us to rise up and resist. His "Democracy Incorporated" was ignored by every major newspaper and journal in the country. This did not surprise him. He knew his power. So did his enemies. All his fears for the nation have come to pass. A corporate monstrosity rules us. If we held up a scorecard we would have to say Wolin lost, but we would also have to acknowledge the integrity, brilliance, courage and nobility of his life.

[May 29, 2020] You can;t have a Democracy at home and an empire aboard, the violence of empire will always turn against the very idea of democracy

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... You will find in Sheldon Wolin's final book "Democracy Incorporated" an intricate dissection of this precept in the modern form through his analysis of America's decaying trajectory. Thank you for reminding us of this. ..."
"... As Athens showed and the United States of the twenty-first century confirmed, imperialism undercuts democracy by furthering inequalities among its citizens. Resources that might be used to improve health care, education, and environmental protection are instead directed to defense spending, which, by far, consumes the largest percentage of the nation's annual budget. ..."
"... Second, if Athens was the first historical instance of a confrontation between democracy and elitism, that experience suggests that there is no simple recipe for resolving the tensions between them. Political elites were a persistent, if uneasy and contested, feature of Athenian democracy and a significant factor in both its expansion and its demise. ..."
"... As the war dragged on and frustration grew, domestic politics became more embittered and fractious: members of the elite competed to outbid each other by proposing ever wilder schemes of conquest. ..."
May 29, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Norogene , May 29 2020 22:19 utc | 105

Kaddath writes:

You can't be a Democracy at home and an empire aboard, the violence of empire will always turn against the very idea of democracy.

Yes, a keen observation of what ultimately undid Athens. You will find in Sheldon Wolin's final book "Democracy Incorporated" an intricate dissection of this precept in the modern form through his analysis of America's decaying trajectory. Thank you for reminding us of this.

lysias @ 109

A variety of scholars who study that period would disagree with you: You cannot maintain an empire abroad and democracy at home. The two principles are diametrically opposite to one another. It's what caused the democracy of Athens (which was limited to men -- as usual) to ultimately lose its internal cohesion and reason to be. Yes, formally it was incorporated into the Macedonian empire, but its demise came because Athens' imperial ambitions sapped domestic resources which further contributed to the trend toward inequality within the society.

Here is a fine quote from Wolin's book (page 264) which illustrates the point (please excuse the length of this quote):

A twofold moral might be drawn from the experience of Athens: that it is self-subverting for democracy to subordinate its egalitarian convictions to the pursuit of expansive politics with its corollaries of conquest and domination and the power relationships they introduce. Few care to argue that, in political terms, democracy at home is advanced or improved by conquest abroad.

As Athens showed and the United States of the twenty-first century confirmed, imperialism undercuts democracy by furthering inequalities among its citizens. Resources that might be used to improve health care, education, and environmental protection are instead directed to defense spending, which, by far, consumes the largest percentage of the nation's annual budget.

Moreover, the sheer size and complexity of imperial power and the expanded role of the military make it difficult to impose fiscal discipline and account- ability. Corruption becomes endemic, not only abroad but at home. The most dangerous type of corruption for a democracy is measured not in monetary terms alone but in the kind of ruthless power relations it fosters in domestic politics. As many observers have noted, politics has become a blood sport with partisanship and ideological fidelity as the hallmarks. A partisan judiciary is openly declared to be a major priority of a political party; the efforts to consolidate executive power and to relegate Congress to a supporting role are to some important degree the retrojection inwards of the imperial thrust.

Second, if Athens was the first historical instance of a confrontation between democracy and elitism, that experience suggests that there is no simple recipe for resolving the tensions between them. Political elites were a persistent, if uneasy and contested, feature of Athenian democracy and a significant factor in both its expansion and its demise.

In the eyes of contemporary observers, such as Thucydides, as well as later historians, the advancement of Athenian hegemony de- pended upon a public-spirited, able elite at the helm and a demos will- ing to accept leadership. Conversely, the downfall of Athens was attributed to the wiles and vainglory of leaders who managed to whip up popular support for ill-conceived adventures.

As the war dragged on and frustration grew, domestic politics became more embittered and fractious: members of the elite competed to outbid each other by proposing ever wilder schemes of conquest. In two attempts (411–410 and 404–403) elites, abetted by the Spartans, succeeded in temporarily abolshing democracy and installing rule by the Few.

[May 14, 2020] The USA fake democracy vs inverted totalitarism with Chinese characteristics

Notable quotes:
"... Sad but true. We are all given our illusions. In US its the illusion of democracy which is a fake democracy cloaking our totalitarian reality. In China they give the people the illusion of moving towards socialism, a fake socialism to be sure, never mind all the billionaire party members (and they don't have universal health care either, its insurance based) .The people have long accepted the reality of totalitarianism so they are one step ahead. ..."
May 14, 2020 | www.unz.com

Pft , says: Show Comment May 14, 2020 at 6:41 am GMT

Sad but true. We are all given our illusions. In US its the illusion of democracy which is a fake democracy cloaking our totalitarian reality. In China they give the people the illusion of moving towards socialism, a fake socialism to be sure, never mind all the billionaire party members (and they don't have universal health care either, its insurance based) .The people have long accepted the reality of totalitarianism so they are one step ahead.

Since China doesn't have another party to blame they must blame external enemies like the US and we happily play along with tarrifs paid for by us dumb sheep who cry out in satisfaction "take that". Lol

A fake Cold War works for us too. Trump says we are in a race for 5G and AI/Robotics with China. We must win or all is lost to China. Social credit scores, digital ID and digital currency along with Total Information Awareness and Full Spectrum Dominance over the herd.

Health effects of 5G will be blamed on CoVID. Fake Science is a great tool. Scientists never lie, they can be trusted, just like Priests . They are the Priests of the New Technocratic World Order. Global Warming and COVID- We must believe. They say Vaccines and 5G are good for you, just like DDT and Tobacco were said to be Good by Scientists of another time. We must believe. Have Faith and you will earn social credit bonus points.

Reality is Fake Wrestling. Kayfabe all the way baby. Who is the face and who is the heel? We are free to choose. So who says we don't have freedom?

[Jul 27, 2019] Pornographic Democracy by Linh Dinh

Jul 27, 2019 | www.unz.com

Pornography multiplies frequency, duration, angles, positions and sexual partners, an endless and eternal sexual buffet, except that none of it is really happening. Similarly, American democracy gives the appearance of boundless participation by all citizens, for they can't just vote in caucuses and elections, but cheer at conventions, march in protest, write letters to newspapers, comment on the internet and follow, blow by blow, the serial mud wrestling between opposing politicians. Pissed, they can freely curse Bush, Obama or Trump without fearing a midnight knock on the door. Alas, none of their "political activities" actually matters, for Americans don't influence their government's policies, much less decide them. It's all an elaborate spectacle to make each chump think he's somehow a player, in on the action, when he's actually all alone, in the dark, to beat his own meat, yet again.

He has railroaded, premasticated opinions on everything, but without the means to act on any of it. Only his impotence is real.

[Jul 25, 2019] Everybody complains about politicians.

Jul 25, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Monty , July 23, 2019 at 12:55 pm

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

Never gets old.

Arizona Slim , July 23, 2019 at 7:07 pm

Source of this delicious quote, please.

WheresOurTeddy , July 23, 2019 at 10:51 pm

George Carlin, or as I think of him, 21st century Mark Twain

[Jul 22, 2019] Wehret den Anf ngen

Jul 22, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

"To reduce a complex argument to its bare bones, since the Depression, the twin forces of managed democracy and Superpower have opened the way for something new under the sun: 'inverted totalitarianism,' a form every bit as totalistic as the classical version but one based on internalized co-optation, the appearance of freedom, political disengagement rather than mass mobilization, and relying more on "private media" than on public agencies to disseminate propaganda that reinforces the official version of events.

It is inverted because it does not require the use of coercion, police power and a messianic ideology as in the Nazi, Fascist and Stalinist versions (although note that the United States has the highest percentage of its citizens in prison -- 751 per 100,000 people -- of any nation on Earth). According to Wolin, inverted totalitarianism has 'emerged imperceptibly, unpremeditatedly, and in seeming unbroken continuity with the nation's political traditions.'

The main objectives of managed democracy are to increase the profits of large corporations, dismantle the institutions of social democracy (Social Security, unions, welfare, public health services, public housing and so forth), and roll back the social and political ideals of the New Deal. Its primary tool is privatization [and deregulation].

Chalmers Johnson, Inverted Totalitarianism: A New Way of Understanding How the U.S. Is Controlled

"Thus the elements are in place: a weak legislative body, a legal system that is both compliant and repressive, a party system in which one (I would in 2019 now say either) party, whether in opposition or in the majority, is bent upon reconstituting the existing system so as to permanently favor a ruling class of the wealthy, the well-connected and the corporate, while leaving the poorer citizens with a sense of helplessness and political despair, and, at the same time, keeping the middle classes dangling between fear of unemployment and expectations of fantastic rewards once the new economy recovers.

That scheme is abetted by a sycophantic and increasingly concentrated media; by the integration of universities with their corporate benefactors; by a propaganda machine institutionalized in well-funded think tanks and conservative foundations; by the increasingly closer cooperation between local police and national law enforcement agencies aimed at identifying terrorists, suspicious aliens and domestic dissidents."

Sheldon Wolin, Inverted Totalitarianism

"The truth is that we were so spiritually and morally bankrupt that we could not even see some of those lines: we stepped over them blindly. Other times we saw the lines alright, but we wanted to cross them... It wasn't God who was dead. We were."

Ray A., Practice These Principles

"Oh where is the noble face of modesty, or the strength of virtue, now that blasphemy is in power and men have put justice behind them, and there is no law but lawlessness, and none act with fear of the gods?"

Euripides, Iphigenia in Aulis

"Religion used to be the opium of the people. To those suffering humiliation, pain, illness, and serfdom, religion promised the reward of an after life.
But now we are witnessing a transformation: a true opium of the people is the belief in nothingness after death, the huge solace, the huge comfort of thinking that for our betrayals, our greed, our cowardice, our murders, that we are not going to be judged."

Czeslaw Milosz, The Discreet Charm of Nihilism

[Feb 17, 2019] Trump is Russian asset memo is really neocon propaganda overkill

Highly recommended!
The ability of those in power to manipulate the ways ordinary people think, act and vote has allowed for an inverted totalitarianism which turns the citizenry into their own prison wardens, allowing those with real power to continue doing as they please unhindered by the interests of the common man.
In neoliberal MSM there is positive feedback loop for "Trump is a Russian agent" stories. So the meme feeds on itself.
Notable quotes:
"... And yet the trending, most high-profile stories about Trump today all involve painting him as a Putin puppet who is working to destroy America by taking a weak stance against an alarming geopolitical threat. This has had the effect of manufacturing demand for even more dangerous escalations against a nuclear superpower that just so happens to be a longtime target of U.S. intelligence agencies. ..."
"... the mass media is not in the business of reporting facts, it's in the business of selling narratives. Even if those narratives are so shrill and stress-inducing that they imperil the health of their audience. ..."
"... Trump is clearly not a Russian asset, he's a facilitator of America's permanent unelected government just like his predecessors, and indeed as far as actual policies and administration behavior goes he's not that much different from Barack Obama and George W Bush. Hell, for all his demagogic anti-immigrant speech Trump hasn't even caught up to Obama's peak ICE deportation years ..."
"... Used to be that the U.S. mass media only killed people indirectly, by facilitating establishment war agendas in repeating government agency propaganda as objective fact and promulgating narratives that manufacture support for a status quo which won't even give Americans health insurance or safe drinking water ..."
"... Now they're skipping the middle man and killing them directly by psychologically brutalizing them so aggressively that it ruins their health, all to ensure that Democrats support war and adore the U.S. intelligence community . ..."
"... The social engineers responsible for controlling the populace of the greatest military power on the planet are watching France closely, and understand deeply what is at stake should they fail to control the narrative and herd ordinary Americans into supporting U.S. government institutions. ..."
"... The ability of those in power to manipulate the ways ordinary people think, act and vote has allowed for an inverted totalitarianism which turns the citizenry into their own prison wardens, allowing those with real power to continue doing as they please unhindered by the interests of the common man. ..."
Jan 23, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The always excellent Moon of Alabama blog has just published a sarcasm-laden piece documenting the many, many aggressive maneuvers that this administration has made against the interests of Russia, from pushing for more NATO funding to undermining Russia's natural gas interests to bombing Syria to sanctioning Russian oligarchs to dangerous military posturing.

<picture deleted>

And yet the trending, most high-profile stories about Trump today all involve painting him as a Putin puppet who is working to destroy America by taking a weak stance against an alarming geopolitical threat. This has had the effect of manufacturing demand for even more dangerous escalations against a nuclear superpower that just so happens to be a longtime target of U.S. intelligence agencies.

If the mass media were in the business of reporting facts, there would be a lot less "Putin's puppet" talk and a lot more "Hey, maybe we should avoid senseless escalations which could end all life on earth" talk among news media consumers. But there isn't, because the mass media is not in the business of reporting facts, it's in the business of selling narratives. Even if those narratives are so shrill and stress-inducing that they imperil the health of their audience.

Like His Predecessors

Trump is clearly not a Russian asset, he's a facilitator of America's permanent unelected government just like his predecessors, and indeed as far as actual policies and administration behavior goes he's not that much different from Barack Obama and George W Bush. Hell, for all his demagogic anti-immigrant speech Trump hasn't even caught up to Obama's peak ICE deportation years.

If the mass media were in the business of reporting facts, people would be no more worried about this administration than they were about the previous ones, because when it comes to his administration's actual behavior, he's just as reliable an upholder of the establishment-friendly status quo as his predecessors.

Used to be that the U.S. mass media only killed people indirectly, by facilitating establishment war agendas in repeating government agency propaganda as objective fact and promulgating narratives that manufacture support for a status quo which won't even give Americans health insurance or safe drinking water.

Now they're skipping the middle man and killing them directly by psychologically brutalizing them so aggressively that it ruins their health, all to ensure that Democrats support war and adore the U.S. intelligence community .

They do this for a reason, of course. The Yellow Vests protests in France have continued unabated for their ninth consecutive week , a decentralized populist uprising resulting from ordinary French citizens losing trust in their institutions and the official narratives which uphold them.

The social engineers responsible for controlling the populace of the greatest military power on the planet are watching France closely, and understand deeply what is at stake should they fail to control the narrative and herd ordinary Americans into supporting U.S. government institutions. Right now they've got Republicans cheering on the White House and Democrats cheering on the U.S. intelligence community, but that could all change should something happen which causes them to lose control over the thoughts that Americans think about their rulers.

Propaganda is the single most-overlooked and under-appreciated aspect of human society. The ability of those in power to manipulate the ways ordinary people think, act and vote has allowed for an inverted totalitarianism which turns the citizenry into their own prison wardens, allowing those with real power to continue doing as they please unhindered by the interests of the common man.

The only thing that will lead to real change is the people losing trust in corrupt institutions and rising like lions against them. That gets increasingly likely as those institutions lose control of the narrative, and with trust in the mass media at an all-time low, populist uprisings restoring power to the people in France, and media corporations acting increasingly weird and insecure , that looks more and more likely by the day.

[Jan 19, 2019] According to Wolin, domestic and foreign affairs goals are each important and on parallel tracks

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The first, directed outward, finds its expression in the global War on Terror and in the Bush Doctrine that the United States has the right to launch preemptive wars. This amounts to the United States seeing as illegitimate the attempt by any state to resist its domination. ..."
"... The second dynamic, directed inward, involves the subjection of the mass of the populace to economic "rationalization", with continual "downsizing" and "outsourcing" of jobs abroad and dismantling of what remains of the welfare state created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society. Neoliberalism is an integral component of inverted totalitarianism. The state of insecurity in which this places the public serves the useful function of making people feel helpless, therefore making it less likely they will become politically active and thus helping maintain the first dynamic. ..."
"... By using managerial methods and developing management of elections, the democracy of the United States has become sanitized of political participation, therefore managed democracy is "a political form in which governments are legitimated by elections that they have learned to control". ..."
"... Under managed democracy, the electorate is prevented from having a significant impact on policies adopted by the state because of the opinion construction and manipulation carried out by means of technology, social science, contracts and corporate subsidies. ..."
Jan 19, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jackrabbit , Jan 15, 2019 9:31:08 PM | lin k

karlof1

According to Wolin, domestic and foreign affairs goals are each important and on parallel tracks, as summarized at Wikipedia, the United States has two main totalizing dynamics:

The first, directed outward, finds its expression in the global War on Terror and in the Bush Doctrine that the United States has the right to launch preemptive wars. This amounts to the United States seeing as illegitimate the attempt by any state to resist its domination.

The second dynamic, directed inward, involves the subjection of the mass of the populace to economic "rationalization", with continual "downsizing" and "outsourcing" of jobs abroad and dismantling of what remains of the welfare state created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society. Neoliberalism is an integral component of inverted totalitarianism. The state of insecurity in which this places the public serves the useful function of making people feel helpless, therefore making it less likely they will become politically active and thus helping maintain the first dynamic.

<> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <>

Wolin's Inverted Totalitarianism provides the ground work for my suspicions regarding faux populists Obama and Trump:

By using managerial methods and developing management of elections, the democracy of the United States has become sanitized of political participation, therefore managed democracy is "a political form in which governments are legitimated by elections that they have learned to control".

Under managed democracy, the electorate is prevented from having a significant impact on policies adopted by the state because of the opinion construction and manipulation carried out by means of technology, social science, contracts and corporate subsidies.

[Jan 03, 2019] Neoliberal Totalitarianism And The Social Contract

Notable quotes:
"... The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto ..."
"... "Uneven Development: Understanding the Roots of Inequality" ..."
"... "A generation ago, the country's social contract was premised on higher wages and reliable benefits, provided chiefly by employers. In recent decades, we've moved to a system where low wages are supposed to be made bearable by low consumer prices and a hodgepodge of government assistance programs. But as dissatisfaction with this arrangement has grown, it is time to look back at how we got here and imagine what the next stage of the social contract might be." ..."
"... New America Foundation's ..."
"... The Social Contract in Africa ..."
"... "Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems" The Guardian ..."
"... Neoliberalism: do you know what it is? Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007-2008, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump. But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has – or had – a name. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly? ..."
"... "From Military Keynesianism to Global-Neoliberal Militarism" ..."
"... Monthly Review ..."
"... A Short History ofNeoliberalism ..."
"... Ideology, the Neoliberal State, and the Social Contract ..."
"... "I think not having the ..."
"... recognizes the people that are investing -- as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it's on booze or women or movies." ..."
"... "the transition from organised capitalism to neoliberal hegemony over the recent period has brought about a corresponding transformation in subjectivity. Leading celebrities, most notably high-tech entrepreneurs, for instance, operate in the popular imagination as models of achievement for the aspiring young. They are seldom emulated in real life, however, even unrealistically so. Still, their famed lifestyles and heavily publicised opinions provide guidelines to appropriate conduct in a ruthlessly competitive and unequal world." ..."
"... "Pessimism of Intelligence, Optimism of Will" ..."
"... Perspectives on Gramsci ..."
"... Social vs. Corporate Welfare ..."
"... "The common denominator is the empowering of elites over the masses with the assistance of international forces through military action or financial coercion -- a globalized dialectic of ruling classes." ..."
"... The End of Ideology ..."
"... : "It's the end of ideology in China. Not the end of all ideology, but the end of Marxist ideology. China has many social problems, but the government and its people will deal with them in pragmatic ways, without being overly constrained by ideological boundaries. I still think there's a need for a moral foundation for political rule in China – some sort of guiding ideal for the future – but it won't come from Karl Marx." ..."
"... The End of History ..."
"... Ideology of Power and the Power of Ideology ..."
"... "Limiting Dissent: The Mechanisms of State Repression in the USA" Social Movement Studies," ..."
"... The Great Transformation ..."
"... "To allow the market mechanism to be sole director of the fate of human beings and their natural environment would result in the demolition of society." ..."
"... "The withering away of national states and the wholesale privatization of state-owned enterprises and state-administered services transferred highly profitable monopolies to capitalists, and guaranteed the repayment of the foreign debt-contracted, as in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay-by irresponsible, corrupt, and de facto military rulers. Neoliberalism supplied the general justification for the transfer of public assets and state-owned enterprises, paid for with public savings, even in areas considered "taboo" and untouchable until a few years ago, such as electricity, aviation, oil, or telecommunications. ..."
"... "Democracy or Neoliberalism?" ..."
"... "When Exclusion Replaces Exploitation: The Condition of the Surplus-Population under Neoliberalism" ..."
"... Neoliberalism and Fascism ..."
"... The role of the state ..."
"... "The combination of economic disruption, cultural disruption ― nothing feels solid to people ― that's a recipe for people wanting to find security somewhere. And sadly, there's something in all of us that looks for simple answers when we're agitated and insecure. The narrative that America at its best has stood for, the narrative of pluralism and tolerance and democracy and rule of law, human rights and freedom of the press and freedom of religion, that narrative, I think, is actually the more powerful narrative. The majority of people around the world aspire to that narrative, which is the reason people still want to come here." ..."
"... Independence from America: Global Integration and Inequality ..."
"... Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America ..."
"... everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state. ..."
"... "everything within neoliberalism, nothing against neoliberalism, nothing outside neoliberalism. ..."
"... Neoliberal Fascism: Free Markets and the Restructuring of Indian Capitalism," ..."
"... is seen as an effort by neoliberalism, or perhaps more broadly by capitalism, to divert attention from class conflict, to divide and weaken working class struggles and to deflect class-driven anxieties on to minority communities. This approach is problematic in two senses. First, it does not explain why Hindutva organisations are able to develop a mass base, except to the extent that they are seen to be appealing to "historical identity" or "emotive" issues. ..."
"... The state exists ..."
"... as the expression and guarantor of a collectivity founded around a transcendent principle ..."
"... The ideal state is the guarantor of the Hindu rashtra, a "nation" that exists as an organic and harmonious unity between "Hindus." ..."
"... The Politics of Free Markets ..."
"... "The new dual sate is alive and well: Normative State for the core populations of the capitalist center, and another State of arbitrary decrees for the non-citizens who are the rest. Unlike in classical fascism, this second State is only dimly visible from the first. The radical critique protesting that liberty within the Normative State is an illusion, although understandable, is erroneous. The denial of citizenship based not on exploitation, oppression and straightforward discrimination, but on mere exclusion and distance, is difficult to grasp, because the mental habits of liberation struggle for a more just redistribution of goods and powers are not applicable. The problem is not that the Normative State is becoming more authoritarian: rather, that it belongs only to a few." ..."
"... Alternative fur Deutchalnd ..."
"... Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty ..."
"... Neoliberalism presumes a strong state, working only for the benefit of the wealthy, and as such it has little pretence to neutrality and universality, unlike the classical liberal state. I would go so far as to say that neoliberalism is the final completion of capitalism's long-nascent project, in that the desire to transform everything -- every object, every living thing, every fact on the planet -- in its image had not been realized to the same extent by any preceding ideology. ..."
"... The Fascist Nature of Neoliberalism ..."
"... "La Dottrina del Fascismo" ..."
"... "Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state," ..."
"... "inverted totalitarianism" ..."
"... Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, ..."
"... Neoliberalism and Terror: Critical Engagements ..."
"... Characteristics of the Illiberal Neoliberal Society ..."
"... Sociology of Imperialism ..."
"... "The bourgeoisie did not simply supplant the sovereign, nor did it make him its leader, as did the nobility. It merely wrested a portion of its power from him and for the rest submitted to him. It did not take over from the sovereign the state as an abstract form of organization. The state remained a special social power, confronting the bourgeoisie. In some countries it has continued to play that role to the present day. It is in the state that the bourgeoisie with its interests seeks refuge, protection against external and even domestic enemies. The bourgeoisie seeks to win over the state for itself, and in return serves the state and state interests that are different from its own." ..."
"... Democratic elections have become the means for installing leaders with little respect for democratic values. The tolerance, openness and inclusiveness on which modern democracy is founded are being rejected by candidates and voters in favor of sectarian, parochial fears and interests. The role of the free press as an impartial arbiter of facts is being undermined by the rise of private and public news media conglomerates purveying political preference as fact combined with a blinding blizzard of fake news. Party politics has been polarized into a winner-take-all fight to the finish by vested-interests and impassioned extremist minorities trying to impose their agendas on a complacent majority. Corporate power and money power are transforming representative governments into plutocratic pseudo-democracies. Fundamentalists are seizing the instruments of secular democracy to impose intolerant linguistic, racial and religious homogeneity in place of the principles of liberty and harmonious heterogeneity that are democracy's foundation and pinnacle of achievement." ..."
"... http://www.cadmusjournal.org/article/volume-3/issue-3/political-economy-neoliberalism-and-illiberal-democracy ..."
"... "Suppose the election was declared free and fair and those elected are "racists, fascists, separatists, who are publicly opposed to [peace and reintegration]. That is the dilemma." ..."
"... "Fascism may be defined as the subordination of every part of the State to a totalitarian and nihilistic ideology. I argue that neoliberalism is a species of fascism because the economy has brought under subjection not only the government of democratic countries but also every aspect of our thought. The state is now at the disposal of the economy and of finance, which treat it as a subordinate and lord over it to an extent that puts the common good in jeopardy." ..."
"... Lectures on Fascism, ..."
"... Neoliberalism has been more successful than most past ideologies in redefining subjectivity, in making people alter their sense of themselves, their personhood, their identities, their hopes and expectations and dreams and idealizations. Classical liberalism was successful too, for two and a half centuries, in people's self-definition, although communism and fascism succeeded less well in realizing the "new man." It cannot be emphasized enough that neoliberalism is not classical liberalism, or a return to a purer version of it, as is commonly misunderstood; it is a new thing, because the market, for one thing, is not at all free and untethered and dynamic in the sense that classical liberalism idealized it. ..."
"... "In some parts of Europe, and in the United States, anti-foreigner rhetoric full of unbridled vitriol and hatred, is proliferating to a frightening degree, and is increasingly unchallenged. The rhetoric of fascism is no longer confined to a secret underworld of fascists, meeting in ill-lit clubs or on the 'deep net'. It is becoming part of normal daily discourse." ..."
"... The Global Rise of Populism ..."
"... The risk democratic formations continually face is internal disintegration such that the heterogeneous elements of the social order not only fail to come together within some principle of or for unity, but actively turn against one another. In this case, a totally unproductive revolution takes place. Rather than subversion of the normative order causing suffering, rebellion or revolution that might establish a new nomos of shared life as a way of establishing a new governing logic, the dissociated elements of disintegrating democratic formations identify with the very power responsible for their subjection–capital, the state and, the strong leader. Thus the possibility of fascism is not negated in neoliberal formations but is an ever present possibility arising within it. Because the value of the social order as such is never in itself sufficient to maintain its own constitution, it must have recourse to an external value, which is the order of the sacred embodied by the sovereign. ..."
"... Can the World be Wrong ..."
"... "Even mature democracies show signs of degenerating into their illiberal namesakes. The historical record confirms that peaceful, prosperous, free and harmonious societies can best be nurtured by the widest possible distribution of all forms of power -- political, economic, educational, scientific, technological and social -- to the greatest extent to the greatest number. The aspiration for individual freedom can only be realized and preserved when it is married with the right to social equality. The mutual interdependence of the individual and the collective is the key to their reconciliation and humanity's future. ..."
"... Beset by stagnant wage growth, less than half of respondents in America, Britain and France believe that globalisation is a "force for good" in the world. Westerners also say the world is getting worse. Even Americans, generally an optimistic lot, are feeling blue: just 11% believe the world has improved in the past year. The turn towards nationalism is especially pronounced in France, the cradle of liberty. Some 52% of the French now believe that their economy should not have to rely on imports, and just 13% reckon that immigration has a positive effect on their country. France is divided as to whether or not multiculturalism is something to be embraced. Such findings will be music to the ears of Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, France's nationalist, Eurosceptic party. Current (and admittedly early) polling has her tied for first place in the 2017 French presidential race. ..."
"... "Populism is not Fascism: But it could be a Harbinger" ..."
"... Foreign Affairs ..."
"... Structural Exploitation under the Neoliberal Social Contract ..."
"... "a property of institutions or systems in which the "rules of the game" unfairly benefit one group of people to the detriment of another" ..."
"... The End of Politics: Corporate Power and the Decline of the Public Sphere ..."
"... The Trickle Down Delusion ..."
"... "Real hourly compensation of production, nonsupervisory workers who make up 80 percent of the workforce, also shows pay stagnation for most of the period since 1973, rising 9.2 percent between 1973 and 2014.Net productivity grew 1.33 percent each year between 1973 and 2014, faster than the meager 0.20 percent annual rise in median hourly compensation. In essence, about 15 percent of productivity growth between 1973 and 2014 translated into higher hourly wages and benefits for the typical American worker. Since 2000, the gap between productivity and pay has risen even faster. The net productivity growth of 21.6 percent from 2000 to 2014 translated into just a 1.8 percent rise in inflation-adjusted compensation for the median worker (just 8 percent of net productivity growth).Since 2000, more than 80 percent of the divergence between a typical (median) worker's pay growth and overall net productivity growth has been driven by rising inequality (specifically, greater inequality of compensation and a falling share of income going to workers relative to capital owners).Over the entire 1973–2014 period, rising inequality explains over two-thirds of the productivity–pay divergence. ..."
"... "Understanding the Historic Divergence Between Productivity and a Typical Worker's Pay Why It Matters and Why It's Real" ..."
"... "The fact that our society places no limit on wealth while making it accessible to all helps account for the 'feverish' quality Tocqueville sensed in American civilization." Culture Against Man ..."
"... Neoliberal Hegemony ..."
"... Toward a 21st Century Social Contract" ..."
"... "A 21 st Century Social Contract" ..."
"... "The nature of work is changing very rapidly. Old models of lifelong employment via business and a predictable safety net provided by government are no longer assured in a new demographic, economic, and political environment. We see these trends most clearly in the rise of the "gig economy," in which contingent workers (freelancers, independent contractors, consultants, or other outsourced and non-permanent workers) are hired on a temporary or part-time basis. These workers make up more than 90 percent of new job creation in European countries, and by 2020, it is estimated that more than 40 percent of the U.S. workforce will be in contingent jobs." ..."
"... " Turning the Social Contract Inside Out: Neoliberal Governance and Human Capital in Two Days, One Night" ..."
"... 'knowledge based economy' ..."
"... "The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have taken a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, pulled out all 43,060 multinational corporations and the share ownerships linking them to construct a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company's operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power.The model revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships. Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What's more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world's large blue chip and manufacturing firms, the "real" economy, representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a super-entity of 147 even more tightly knit companies (all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity) that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. "In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network." ..."
"... https://weeklybolshevik.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/imperialism-and-the-concentration-of-capital/ ..."
"... "Neoliberalism and technology: Perpetual innovation or perpetual crisis?" ..."
"... Liberalism in the Shadow of Totalitarianism ..."
"... "The Corporate Contradictions of Neoliberalism" ..."
"... "Neoliberalism was born in reaction against totalitarian statism, and matured at the University of Chicago into a program of state-reduction that was directed not just against the totalitarian state and the socialist state but also (and especially) against the New Deal regulatory and welfare state. It is a self-consciously reactionary ideology that seeks to roll back the status quo and institutionalize (or, on its own understanding, re-institutionalize) the "natural" principles of the market. But the contradiction between its individualist ideals and our corporate reality means that the effort to institutionalize it, oblivious to this contradiction, has induced deep dysfunction in our corporate system, producing weakened growth, intense inequality, and coercion. And when the ideological support of a system collapses -- as appears to be happening with neoliberalism -- then either the system will collapse, or new levels of coercion and manipulation will be deployed to maintain it. This appears to be the juncture at which we have arrived." ..."
"... lumpenproletariat ..."
"... "Sociology and the Critique of Neoliberalism" ..."
"... The Social Nature of Cryptocurrencies ..."
"... The Denationalization of Money ..."
"... Austerity: The Lived Experience ..."
"... Neoliberalism, Economic Radicalism, and the Normalization of Violence ..."
"... "Over the past twenty years, the IMF has been strengthened enormously. Thanks to the debt crisis and the mechanism of conditionality, it has moved from balance of payments support to being quasi-universal dictator of so-called "sound" economic policies, meaning of course neo-liberal ones. The World Trade Organisation was finally put in place in January 1995 after long and laborious negotiations, often rammed through parliaments which had little idea what they were ratifying. Thankfully, the most recent effort to make binding and universal neo-liberal rules, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, has failed, at least temporarily. It would have given all rights to corporations, all obligations to governments and no rights at all to citizens. The common denominator of these institutions is their lack of transparency and democratic accountability. This is the essence of neo-liberalism. It claims that the economy should dictate its rules to society, not the other way around. Democracy is an encumbrance, neo-liberalism is designed for winners, not for voters who, necessarily encompass the categories of both winners and losers." ..."
"... https://www.tni.org/en/article/short-history-neoliberalism ..."
"... "When elected governments break the "representative covenant" and show complete indifference to the sufferings of citizens, when democracy is downgraded to an abstract set of rules and deprived of meaning for much of the citizenry, many will be inclined to regard democracy as a sham, to lose confidence in and withdraw their support for electoral institutions. Dissatisfaction with democracy now ranges from 40 percent in Peru and Bolivia to 59 percent in Brazil and 62 percent in Colombia. ..."
"... Exploitation; What is it and why it is Wrong ..."
"... Shadow Sovereigns: How Global Corporations are seizing Power ..."
"... Publics around the globe are generally unhappy with the functioning of their nations' political systems. Across the 36 countries asked the question, a global median of 46% say they are very or somewhat satisfied with the way their democracy is working, compared with 52% who are not too or not at all satisfied. Levels of satisfaction vary considerably by region and within regions. Overall, people in the Asia-Pacific region are the most happy with their democracies. At least half in five of the six Asian nations where this question was asked express satisfaction. Only in South Korea is a majority unhappy (69%). ..."
"... Communication and the Globalization of Culture ..."
"... Class Politics and the Radical Right ..."
"... In 2012 the United States spent an estimated 19.4% of GDP on such social expenditures, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Paris-based industrial country think tank. Denmark spent 30.5%, Sweden 28.2% and Germany 26.3%. All of these nations have a lower central government debt to GDP ratio than that of the United States. Why the United States invests relatively less in its social safety net than many other countries and why those expenditures are even at risk in the current debate over debt reduction reflect Americans' conflicted, partisan and often contradictory views on fairness, inequality, the role and responsibility of government and individuals in society and the efficacy of government action. Rooted in value differences, not just policy differences, the debate over the U.S. social contract is likely to go on long after the fiscal cliff issue has been resolved." ..."
"... Popper, Hayek and the Open Society ..."
"... Social Exclusion, Popular Resistanceand the Future of Neoliberalism ..."
"... Social Exclusion ..."
"... London Labour and the London Poor ..."
"... The German Ideology ..."
"... "Labour Relations and Social Movements in the 21st Century" ..."
"... "The panorama of a deep economic crisis which in the last few decades has hit Europe and its Welfare state in particular has had an unprecedented impact on employment and social policies. The neoliberal model and the effects of deregulated and global finance not only question the "European social model" but push sectors of the labour force – with the youngest and well-qualified being prominent – into unemployment or precarious jobs. the sociological and potential socio-political significance of these actionsparticularly as a result of the interconnections that such movements express, both in the sphere of the workplace and industrial system or whether with broader social structures, with special emphasis on the middle classes and the threats of 'proletarianization' that presently hang over them. labour relations of our time are crossed by precariousness and by a new and growing "precariat" which also gave rise to new social movements and new forms of activism and protest." ..."
"... Personal Insolvency in the 21st Century: A Comparative Analysis of the US and Europe, ..."
"... "Working-class participation, middle-class aspiration? Value, upward mobility and symbolic indebtedness in higher education."The Sociological Review ..."
"... The Financialization of Capitalism: 'Profiting without producing' ..."
"... European Network and Debt and Development ..."
"... "Do you enjoy rising prices? Everybody talks about commodities – with the Agriculture Euro Fund you can benefit from the increase in value of the seven most important agricultural commodities." With this advertisement the Deutsche Bankt tried in spring 2008 to attract clients for one of its investment funds. At the same time, there were hunger revolts in Haiti, Cameroon and other developing countries, because many poor could no longer pay the exploding food prices. In fact, between the end of 2006 and March 2008 the prices for the seven most important commodities went up by 71 per cent on average, for rice and grain the increase was 126 per cent. The poor are most hit by the hike in prices. Whereas households in industrialised countries spend 10 -20 per cent for food, in low-income countries they spend 60 – 80 per cent. As a result, the World Bank forecasts an increase in the number of people falling below the absolute poverty line by more than 100 million. Furthermore, the price explosion has negative macroeconomic effects: deterioration of the balance of payment, fuelling inflation and new debt." ..."
"... Makers and Takers: How Wall Street Destroyed Main Street ..."
"... "The Politics of Public Debt: Neoliberalism, capitalist development, and the restructuring of the state", ..."
"... "Why should the new oligarchs be interested in their countries' future productive capacities and present democratic stability if, apparently, they can be rich without it, processing back and forth the synthetic money produced for them at no cost by a central bank for which the sky is the limit, at each stage diverting from it hefty fees and unprecedented salaries, bonuses and profits as long as it is forthcoming -- and then leave their country to its remaining devices and withdraw to some privately owned island? ..."
"... http://www.publicseminar.org/2014/02/the-politics-of-public-debt/ ..."
"... "The Worldwide Class Struggle" ..."
"... Neoliberalism and the Making of the Subprime Borrower ..."
"... The Making of the Indebted Man: An Essay on the Neoliberal Condition ..."
"... Debt: the First 5000 Years ..."
"... "Torturing the Poor, German-Style" ..."
"... "Germany's chancellor [Gerhard] Schröder (SPD) –known as the "Comrade of the Bosses"– no longer sought to integrate labour into capitalism, at least not the Lumpenproletariat or ..."
"... . These sections of society are now deliberately driven into mass poverty, joining the growing number of working poor on a scale not seen in Germany perhaps since the 1930s." ..."
"... Alternative fur Deutchland ..."
"... Grassroots Resistance to Neoliberalism ..."
"... Homeless Workers' Movement and Landless Workers' Movement), ..."
"... (Abahlali baseMjondolo, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, Landless Peoples' Movement), ..."
"... (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), ..."
"... (Fanmi Lavalas) ..."
"... (Narmada Bachao Andolan). ..."
"... "Dying for Growth: Global Inequality and the Health of the Poor" ..."
"... "100 countries have undergone grave economic decline over the past three decades. Per capita income in these 100 countries is now lower than it was 10, 15, 20 or in some cases even 30 years ago. In Africa, the average household consumes 20 percent less today than it did 25 years ago. Worldwide, more than 1 billion people saw their real incomes fall during the period 1980-1993." ..."
"... http://www.mit.edu/~thistle/v13/2/imf.html ..."
"... Democracy against Neoliberalism in Argentina and Brazil, ..."
"... Double Jeopardy: The Impact of Neoliberalism on Care Workers in the United States and South Africa" ..."
"... The BRICS: Challenges to the Global Status Quo" ..."
"... Landless Workers Movement ..."
"... Partido dos Trabalhadores ..."
"... The Drug War in Mexico: Hegemony and Global Capitalism ..."
"... Justice in El Barrio ..."
"... Black Lives Matter ..."
"... Occupy Wall Street ..."
"... 'De-democratization' under Neoliberalism ..."
"... Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution ..."
"... "If the core of neoliberalism is a natural fact, as suggested by the ideology already embedded deep within our collective psyche, who can change it? Can you live without breathing, or stop the succession of days and nights? This is why Western democracy chooses among the many masks behind which is essentially the same liberal party. Change is not forbidden, change is impossible. Some consider this feature to be an insidious form of invisible totalitarianism. ..."
"... "The unholy alliance of neoliberalism and postmodernism" ..."
"... "undermine the immune system of society, neoliberalism by commercialization of even the most sacred domains and postmodernism by its super-relativism and refusal to recognize any hierarchy in value or belief systems." ..."
"... "Neoliberalism as Political Theology of Chance: the politics of divination." ..."
"... Revoking the Moral Order: The Ideology of Positivism and the Vienna Circle ..."
"... "Neoliberalism and its Threat to Moral Agency" ..."
"... Virtue and Economy ..."
"... The Neoliberal Pattern of Domination: Capital's Reign in Decline, ..."
"... The Future of Neoliberalism ..."
"... Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, the Great Recession and the Uses and Misuses of History ..."
"... Alternatives to Neoliberal Globalization ..."
"... Alternatives to Neoliberal Globalization ..."
"... Christian Science Monitor ..."
"... "Worldwide, it has been a rough years for democracy. The UK, the United States and Colombia made critical decisions about their nations' future, and – at least from the perspective of liberal values and social justice – they decided poorly. Beyond the clear persistence of racism, sexism and xenophobia in people's decision-making, scholars and pundits have argued that to understand the results of recent popular votes, we must reflect on neoliberalism. International capitalism, which has dominated the globe for the past three decades, has its winners and its losers. And, for many thinkers, the losers have spoken. My fieldwork in South America has taught me that there are alternative and effective ways to push back against neoliberalism. These include resistance movements based on pluralism and alternative forms of social organisation, production and consumption." ..."
"... Neoliberalism, Social Exclusion, and Social Movements ..."
"... The Politics of Thatcherism ..."
"... "The death of neoliberalism and the crisis in western politics" ..."
"... "A sure sign of the declining influence of neoliberalism is the rising chorus of intellectual voices raised against it. From the mid-70s through the 80s, the economic debate was increasingly dominated by monetarists and free marketeers." ..."
Jan 18, 2018 | countercurrents.org
The creation of large enterprises gave rise not only to an organized labor movement, but to a larger bureaucratic regulatory state with agencies intended to help stabilize and grow capitalism while keeping the working class loyal to the social contract. Crisis in public confidence resulted not only from economic recessions and depressions built into the economy, but the contradictions capitalism was fostering in society as the benefits in advances in industry, science and technology accrued to the wealthy while the social structure remained hierarchical.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A European export and integral part of cultural hegemony in the non-Western world, the liberal-bourgeois social contract for the vast majority of Africans has failed to deliver on the promise of socioeconomic development, social justice and national sovereignty since independence from colonial rule. Just as in Africa, the Asian view of the social contract is that it entails a liberal model of government operating within the capitalist system rather than taking into account social justice above all else. Embracing pluralism and diversity while shedding aspects of authoritarian capitalism associated with cronyism and the clientist state, the view of the Asian social contract is to subordinate society to neoliberal global integration and work within the framework of Western-established institutions. In each country, traditions governing social and political relationships underlie the neoliberal model. (Sanya Osha, The Social Contract in Africa , 2014;

https://www.ecb.europa.eu/press/key/date/2013/html/sp130302.en.html ; http://www.mei.edu/content/map/myanmar-transition-social-control-social-contract )

Despite far reaching implications for society and despite the political and business class keen awareness of neoliberalism, most people around the world are almost as perplexed by the term neoliberalism as they are with social contract theory that is outside the public debate confined to the domain of political philosophy. Many associate neoliberalism withRonald Reagan supporter Milton Friedman and the 'Chicago School', rarely mentioning the political dimension of the economic philosophy and its far-reaching implications for all segments of society. In an article entitled "Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems" The Guardian columnist George Monbiot raised a few basic questions about the degree to which the public is misinformed when it comes to the neoliberal social contract under which society operates.

" Neoliberalism: do you know what it is? Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007-2008, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump. But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has – or had – a name. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly?

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiot

Advocates of neoliberalism, both from the pluralist-social welfare wing and the rightwing populist camp, have succeeded in institutionalizing the new social contract which has transformed the historically classical notion of individual freedombased on the Enlightenment concept of natural rights into freedom of capitalist hegemony over the state and society. Whether operating under the political/ideological umbrella of pluralism-environmentalism in Western nations, combined with some version of a Keynesian social welfare pluralist model, with rightwing populism or authoritarianism in one-party state, political and corporate elites advancing the neoliberal model share the same goal with regard to capital formation and mainstream institutions.

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0896920516668386 ; https://www.counterpunch.org/2015/10/23/culture-of-cruelty-the-age-of-neoliberal-authoritarianism/ ; http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0896920516668386

Weakening the social welfare corporatist state model by reaching political consensus among mainstream political parties by the late 1980s-early 1990s, whether operating under a centrist-pluralist or conservative party, neoliberals have been using the combination of massive deregulation with the state providing a bailout mechanism when crisis hits; fiscal policy that transfers income from workers and the middle class – raising the public debt to transfer wealth from the bottom 90% to the wealthiest 10% -; providing corporate subsidies and bailouts; and privatizing public projects and services at an immense cost to the declining living standards for the middle class and workers.

As much in the US as in other developed nations beginning in the 1980s, the neoliberal state has become status quo by intentionally weakening the social welfare state and redefining the social contract throughout the world. Working with large banks and multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank that use loans as leverage to impose neoliberal policies around the world in debtor nations desperate to raise capital for the state and attract direct foreign investment, the advanced capitalist countries impose the neoliberal social contract on the world.

As reflected in the integrated global economy, the neoliberal model was imbedded in IMF stabilization and World Bank development loans since the late 1940s. After the energy crisis of the mid-1970s and the revolutions in Iran and Nicaragua in 1979, international developments that took place amid US concerns about the economy under strain from rising balance payments deficits that could not accommodate both 'military Keynesianism' (deficit spending on defense as a means of boosting the economy) and the social welfare system, neoliberalism under the corporate welfare state emerged as the best means to continue strengthening capitalism. (J. M. Cypher, "From Military Keynesianism to Global-Neoliberal Militarism" , Monthly Review Vol. 59, No. 2, 2007; Jason Hickel, A Short History ofNeoliberalism ,

http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/a_short_history_of_neoliberalism_and_how_we_can_fix_it

Everything from government agencies whose role is strengthening capital, to public schools and hospitals emulating the market-based management model and treating patients and students as customers, the neoliberal goal is comprehensive market domination of society. Advocates of the neoliberal social contract no longer conceal their goals behind rhetoric about liberal-democratic ideals of individual freedom and the state as an arbiter to harmonize the interests of social classes. The market unequivocally imposes its hegemony not just over the state but on all institutions, subordinating peoples' lives to market forces and equating those forces with democracy and national sovereignty. In pursuit of consolidating the neoliberal model on a world scale, the advocates of this ideology subordinate popular sovereignty and popular consent from which legitimacy of the state emanates to capital. http://www.rhizomes.net/issue10/introren.htm

As an integral part of the social environment and hegemonic culture reflecting the hierarchical class structure and values based on marginalization, the neoliberal social contract has become institutionalized in varying degrees reflecting the more integrative nature of capitalism after the fall of the Communist bloc coinciding with China's increased global economic integration. Emboldened that there was no competing ideology from any government challenging capitalism, neoliberals aggressively pursued globalization under the deregulation-corporate welfare anti-labor model.

Some countries opted for mixed policies with a dose of quasi-statist policies as in the case of China. Others retained many aspects of the social welfare state as in the case of EU members, while some pursue authoritarian capitalism within a pluralistic model. Still other nations in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia where pluralism and multi-party traditions are not very strong, neoliberal policies are tailored to clientist politics and crony capitalism. In all cases, 'market omnipotence theory' is the catalyst under the umbrella of the neoliberal social contract.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/11/12/the-mother-of-all-experiments-in-authoritarian-capitalism-is-about-to-begin/

Ideology, the Neoliberal State, and the Social Contract

Just as religion was universally intertwined with identity, projection of self-image in the community and the value system in the Age of Faith (500-1500), secular ideology in the modern world fulfills somewhat a similar goal. Although neoliberalism has been criticized as a secular religion precisely because of its dogmatism regarding market fundamentalism, especially after 2013 when Pope Francis dismissed it as idolatry of money that attempts to gloss over abject socioeconomic inequality on a world scale, capitalistsand the political class around the world have embraced some aspects if not wholeheartedly neoliberal ideology. https://economicsociology.org/2014/12/25/pope-francis-against-neoliberalism-finance-capitalism-consumerism-and-inequality/

In the early 21 st century arguments equating the rich with societal progress and vilifying the poor as social stigma indicative of individual failure are no different than arguments raised by apologists of capitalism in the early 19 th century when the British Parliament was debating how to punish the masses of poor that the industrial revolution had created. In defending tax cuts to the wealthy, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley stated: "I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing -- as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it's on booze or women or movies." https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/grassley-estate-taxes-booze-women_us_5a247d89e4b03c44072e5a04 ; The US senator's argument could easily be heard in early 19 th century England. Blaming the poor for structural poverty which capitalism causes has become widespreadsince the early 1980s. This is because of government efforts to dismantle the welfare state as a social safety net and transfer resources for tax cuts to the wealthiest individuals. https://www.globalresearch.ca/blaming-the-poor-for-poverty/535675

Rooted in classical liberal ideology, neoliberalism rests on laissez-faire and social Darwinist principles that affirm societal progress as defined by materialist self-interest. Because private financial gain is the sole measure of success and virtue, neoliberals demand that the state and international organizations must remove impediments to capital accumulationnationally and internationally no matter the consequences to the non-propertied classes. Aiming for more than mere mechanical compliance, the goal of the ideology is to create the illusion of the neoliberal self that lives, breathes, and actualizes neoliberal myths in every aspect of life from a person as a worker to consumer and citizen.

Jim Mcguigan argues that "the transition from organised capitalism to neoliberal hegemony over the recent period has brought about a corresponding transformation in subjectivity. Leading celebrities, most notably high-tech entrepreneurs, for instance, operate in the popular imagination as models of achievement for the aspiring young. They are seldom emulated in real life, however, even unrealistically so. Still, their famed lifestyles and heavily publicised opinions provide guidelines to appropriate conduct in a ruthlessly competitive and unequal world." (Jim McGuigan: 'The Neoliberal Self',Culture Unbound, Volume 6, 2014; http://www.cultureunbound.ep.liu.se/v6/a13/cu14v6a13.pdf

By offering the illusion of integration to those that the social structure has marginalized while trying to indoctrinate the masses that the corporate state is salvation and the welfare state is the enemy to default all of society's problems, the neoliberal ideology has captured the imagination of many in the middle class and even some in the working class not just in the West but around the world and especially in former Communist bloc countries where people entertained an idealized version of bourgeois liberal society. (S. Gill, "Pessimism of Intelligence, Optimism of Will" in Perspectives on Gramsci , ed. by Joseph Francene 2009)

Similar to liberalism in so far as it offers something for which to hope, neoliberalism is a departure when it decries the state as an obstacle to capitalist growth not only because of regulatory mechanisms and as an arbiter in society that must placate the masses with social programs, but even as a centralized entity determining monetary and fiscal policy. Proponents of neoliberalism demand turning back the clock to the ideology that prevailed among capitalists and their political supporters at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution when there were no state mechanisms to regulate labor conditions, mining operations and the environment, food and drugs, etc. From a dogmatic market fundamentalist perspective, the market transcends national borders and supersedes the state, thus the principal form of governance revolves around furthering capital accumulation.

Not only is there an absence of a social conscience not so different than what prevailed in the nascent phase of industrial capitalism, but there is disdain of social responsibility on the part of capital beyond the realm of tax-deductible charity donations and voluntarism. More significant, neoliberals believe that capital is entitled to appropriate whatever possible from society because the underlying assumption of corporate welfare entitlement is built into the neoliberal ideology that identifies the national interest with capital and labor as the enemy of capital accumulation. (K. Farnsworth, Social vs. Corporate Welfare , 2012)

The irony in all of this is that in 2008 the world experienced the largest and deepest recession since the 1930s precisely because of neoliberal policies. However, its advocates insisted that the recession was causedwe did not have enough deregulation, privatization, corporate welfare and low taxes on capital rather than going too far with such an extreme ideology whose legal and illegal practices that led to the global recession. Even more ironic neoliberal ideology blames the state – central banks, legislative branch and regulatory agencies – rather than the economic system for the cyclical crisis. https://cgd.leeds.ac.uk/events/2008-global-financial-crisis-in-a-long-term-perspective-the-failure-of-neo-liberalism-and-the-future-of-capitalism-2/

Because the state puts the interests of a tiny percentage of the population above the rest of society, it is a necessary structure only in so far as it limits its role to promoting capital formation by using any means to achieve the goal. Whether under a pluralistic-diversity political model or an authoritarian one, neoliberalism is anti-democratic because as Riad Azar points out, "The common denominator is the empowering of elites over the masses with the assistance of international forces through military action or financial coercion -- a globalized dialectic of ruling classes."

http://newpol.org/content/neoliberalism-austerity-and-authoritarianism

From conservative and liberal to self-described Socialist, political parties around the world have moved ideologically farther to the right in order to accommodate neoliberalism as part of their platform. The challenge of the political class is to keep people loyal to the neoliberal ideology; a challenge that necessarily forces political parties to be eclectic in choosing aspects of other ideological camps that appeal to voters. While embracing corporate welfare, decrying social welfare is among the most glaring neoliberal contradiction of an ideology that ostensibly celebrates non-state intervention in the private sector. This contradiction alone forces neoliberal politicians of all stripes and the media to engage in mass distraction and to use everything from identity politics ideologies to cult of personality,and culture wars and 'clash of civilization' theories. https://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/How-the-Democrats-Became-The-Party-of-Neoliberalism-20141031-0002.html ; https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/paul-emery/why-on-earth-would-socialists-support-neoliberal-undemocratic-eu

To justify why self-proclaimed socialist and democratic parties have embraced neoliberalism, many academics have provided a wide range of theories which have in fact helped solidify the neoliberal ideology into the political mainstream. Among the countless people swept up by the enthusiasm of the Communist bloc's fall and China's integration into the world capitalist economy, Daniel Bell, The End of Ideology (2000), argued that the world returned to old religious and ethnic conflicts around which ideologies of the new century were molded.

Encouraged by China's integration into the global capitalist system, in September 2006 Bell wrote : "It's the end of ideology in China. Not the end of all ideology, but the end of Marxist ideology. China has many social problems, but the government and its people will deal with them in pragmatic ways, without being overly constrained by ideological boundaries. I still think there's a need for a moral foundation for political rule in China – some sort of guiding ideal for the future – but it won't come from Karl Marx." https://prezi.com/kha1ketnfjtd/ideology-in-everyday-life/

Such hasty pronouncements and others in works like Francis Fukuyama's The End of History expressed the Western bourgeois sense of relief of an integrated world under the Western-dominated neoliberal ideology that would somehow magically solve problems the Cold War had created. While Bell, Fukuyama and others celebrated the triumphant era of neoliberal ideology, they hardly dealt with the realities that ideology in peoples' lives emanates from mainstream institutions manifesting irreconcilable contradictions. A product molded by the hegemonic political culture, neoliberal ideology has been a factor in keeping the majority in conformity while a small minority is constantly seeking outlets of social resistance, some within the neoliberal rightwing political mold. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/21/bring-back-ideology-fukuyama-end-history-25-years-on

As catalyst to mobilize the masses, nationalism remains a strong aspect of ideological indoctrination that rightwing populist neoliberals have used blaming immigrants, Muslims, women, gays, environmentalists, and minorities for structural problems society confronts resulting from the political economy. Although there are different political approaches about how best to achieve neoliberal goals, ideological indoctrination has always played an essential role in keeping people loyal to the social contract. However, the contradiction in neoliberal ideology is the need for a borderless world and the triumph of capital over the nation-state while state policies harmonize disparate capitalist interests within the nation-state and beyond it. If neoliberal ideology tosses aside nationalism then it deprives itself of a mechanism to mobilize the masses behind it. https://left-flank.org/2011/01/16/the-curious-marriage-of-neoliberalism-and-nationalism/

Arguing that the 'Ideological State Apparatuses' (ISA) such as religious and educational institutions among others in the private sector perpetuate the ideology of the status quo, Louis Pierre Althusser captured the essence of state mechanisms to mobilize the masses. However, ideology is by no means the sole driving force in keeping people loyal to the social contract. While peoples' material concerns often dictate their ideological orientation, it would be hasty to dismiss the role of the media along with hegemonic cultural influences deeply ingrained into society shaping peoples' worldview and keeping them docile.

Building on Althusser's theory of how the state maintains the status quo, Goran Therborn ( Ideology of Power and the Power of Ideology , 1999) argues that the neoliberal state uses ideological domination as a mechanism to keep people compliant. Combined with the state's repressive mechanisms – police and armed forces – the ideological apparatus engenders conformity wherein exploitation and repression operate within the boundaries that the state defines as 'legal', thus 'normal' for society. A desirable goal of regimes ranging from parliamentary to Mussolini's Fascist Italy (1922-1943) and clerical Fascism under Antonio de Oliveira Salazar's Portugal (1932-1968), legalized repressive mechanisms have become an integral part of neoliberal ideological domination.

( http://notevenpast.org/louis-althusser-on-interpellation-and-the-ideological-state apparatus/ ; https://isreview.org/issue/99/althussers-theory-ideology ; Jules Boykoff, "Limiting Dissent: The Mechanisms of State Repression in the USA" Social Movement Studies," Vo. 6, No 3, 2007)

It is part of the neoliberal ideology that markets dictate the lives of people in every respect from cradle to grave where self and identity are inexorably intertwined. Striving to determine public policy in all its phases of the individual\s life, of localities, nationally and internationally, the market has no other means to retain hegemony in society and pursue capital formation with the fewest possible obstacles. Neoliberals justify such an ideology on the basis that modernization of society transcends not just social justice but societal collective welfare when measured against private gain. https://www.salon.com/2016/03/27/good_riddance_gig_economy_uber_ayn_rand_and_the_awesome_collapse_of_silicon_valleys_dream_of_destroying_your_job/ ; https://www.greeneuropeanjournal.eu/neoliberalism-has-eviscerated-the-fabric-of-social-life/

The unchecked role of neoliberal capitalism in every aspect of the social fabric runs the risk of at the very least creating massive social, economic and political upheaval as was the case with the great recession of 2008 preceded by two decades of neoliberal capitalism taking precedence over the welfare regulatory state whose role is to secure and/or retain equilibrium in global markets. In The Great Transformation , (1944)", Karl Polanyi argued that: "To allow the market mechanism to be sole director of the fate of human beings and their natural environment would result in the demolition of society."

Because Polanyi lived through the Great Depression era of the New Deal and the rise and fall of the Axis Powers, he was optimistic that a return to the 1920s would not take root after WWII. Polanyi accepted Hegel's view of the social contract that the state preserves society by safeguarding general or universal interests against particular ones. However, we have been witnessing the kind of demolition of society Polanyi feared because of unchecked market forces. This is in part because the demise of the Communist bloc and the rise of China as a major economic power emboldened advocates of neoliberal ideology.

With the realization of US long road to decline at the end of the Vietnam War, neoliberal elites prevailed that the crisis of American leadership could be met with the elimination of Keynesian ideology and the adoption of neoliberalism as tested by the Chicago School in Chile under the US-backed dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet from 1973 to 1990. That the neoliberal ideology became an experiment tested in a US-backed military dictatorship in South America is itself revealing about what the nature of the social contract once implemented even in pluralistic societies where there was popular and political support for Keynesianism. Characteristic of a developing nation like Chile was external dependence and a weak state structure, thus easily manipulated by domestic and foreign capital interested in deregulation and further weakening of the public sector as the core of the social contract.

https://www.thenation.com/article/the-chicago-boys-in-chile-economic-freedoms-awful-toll/ ; https://www.salon.com/2010/03/02/chicago_boys_and_the_chilean_earthquake/

"The withering away of national states and the wholesale privatization of state-owned enterprises and state-administered services transferred highly profitable monopolies to capitalists, and guaranteed the repayment of the foreign debt-contracted, as in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay-by irresponsible, corrupt, and de facto military rulers. Neoliberalism supplied the general justification for the transfer of public assets and state-owned enterprises, paid for with public savings, even in areas considered "taboo" and untouchable until a few years ago, such as electricity, aviation, oil, or telecommunications. (Atilio A. Boron, "Democracy or Neoliberalism?" http://bostonreview.net/archives/BR21.5/boron.html

Advocating the systematic dismantling of the social welfare state in the name of upholding the virtues of individualism while strengthening of corporate welfare capitalism in the name of economic growth on global scale, advocates of neoliberal ideology were emboldened by the absence of a competing ideology after the fall of the Soviet bloc and China's capitalist integration. As the income gap widened and globalization resulted in surplus labor force amid downward pressure on wages, a segment of the social and political elites embraced a rightwing populist ideology as a means of achieving the neoliberal goals in cases where the pluralist ideological model was not working. The failure of neoliberal policies led some political and business elites to embrace rightwing populism in order to save neoliberalism that had lost support among a segment of society because of its association with centrist and reformist cultural-diversity pluralist neoliberals. This trend continues to gain momentum exposing the similarities between neoliberalism and Fascism. (David Zamora, "When Exclusion Replaces Exploitation: The Condition of the Surplus-Population under Neoliberalism" http://nonsite.org/feature/when-exclusion-replaces-exploitation .

Neoliberalism and Fascism

  1. The role of the state

Unprecedented for a former president, on 10 December 2017 Barak Obama warned Americans not to follow a Nazi path. A clear reference to president Trump and the Republican Party leading America in that direction with rhetoric and policies that encourage 'culture war' ( kulturkampf – struggle between varieties of rightwingers from evangelicals to neo-Nazis against secular liberals), Obama made reference to socioeconomic polarization at the root of political polarization.

"The combination of economic disruption, cultural disruption ― nothing feels solid to people ― that's a recipe for people wanting to find security somewhere. And sadly, there's something in all of us that looks for simple answers when we're agitated and insecure. The narrative that America at its best has stood for, the narrative of pluralism and tolerance and democracy and rule of law, human rights and freedom of the press and freedom of religion, that narrative, I think, is actually the more powerful narrative. The majority of people around the world aspire to that narrative, which is the reason people still want to come here." https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/obama-warns-americans-against-following-in-the-path-of-nazi germany_us_5a2c032ce4b0a290f0512487

Warning about the road to Nazism, Obama drew distinctions between the Democratic Party's brand of pluralist neoliberalism and Trump's rightwing populist model. Naturally, Obama did not mention that both models seek the same goals, or that policies for which he and his predecessor Bill Clinton pursued drove a segment of the population toward the authoritarian neoliberal model that offers the illusion of realizing the American Dream. Distancing themselves from neo-Fascists, mainstream European political leaders embracing the pluralist model under neoliberalism have been as condemnatory as Obama of rightwing populism's pursuit of 'culture war' as a precursor to Fascism.

Accusing Trump of emboldening varieties of neo-Fascists not just in the US and EU but around the globe, European neoliberal pluralists ignored both the deep roots of Fascism in Europe and their own policies contributing to the rise of neo-Fascism. Just as with Obama and his fellow Democrats, European neoliberal pluralists draw a very sharp distinction between their version of neoliberalism and rightwing populism that either Trump or Hungary's Viktor Orban pursue. Neoliberal pluralists argue that rightwing populists undercut globalist integration principles by stressing economic nationalism although it was right nationalists Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan that engaged in wholesale implantation of neoliberal policies. https://bpr.berkeley.edu/2017/02/28/the-myths-of-far-right-populism-orbans-fence-and-trumps-wall/

Rightwing populism under Ronald Reagan as the first president to implement neoliberal policies emerged as a reaction to the prospect that the Western-basedcore of capitalism was weakening as a result of a multi-polar world economy. Whereas in the middle of the 20 th century the US enjoyed balance of payments surpluses and was a net creditor with the dollar as the world's strongest reserve currency and the world's strongest manufacturing sector, in 2017 the US is among the earth's largest debtor nations with chronic balance of payments deficits, a weak dollar with a bleak future and an economy based more on parasitic financial speculation and massive defense-related spending and less on productive sectors that are far more profitable in Asia and developing nations with low labor costs. (Jon Kofas, Independence from America: Global Integration and Inequality , 2005, 40-54)

Exerting enormous influence by exporting its neoliberal ideological, political, economic and cultural influence throughout the world, the US-imposed transformation model has resulted in economic hardships and political and social instability in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Institutionalizing neoliberalism under rightwing populism and using Trump as the pretext to do so, the US is leading nations around the world to move closer to neo-Fascism, thus exposing neoliberalism as totalitarian.The recognition by the political class and business class that over-accumulation is only possible by continued downward wage pressure has been a key reason that a segment of the population not just in the US but across EU has supported populist rightwing and/or neo-fascists.

https://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2015/01/24/exporting-fascism-us-imperialism-in-latin-america/ ; https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/feb/03/americanism-us-writers-imagine-fascist-future-fiction ; http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Corporatism/neofascism.shtml ; Bertram Gross, Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America , 1999.

Rejecting the claim of any similarities between neoliberalism and Fascism, neoliberal apologists take pride that their apparent goal is to weaken the state, by which they mean the Keynesian welfare state, not the 'military Keynesian' and corporate welfare state. By contrast, Fascists advocated a powerful state – everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state. American neoliberals of both the pluralist and rightwing camps have created a societal model not just in one nation like Mussolini and Hitler but globally with the result of: "everything within neoliberalism, nothing against neoliberalism, nothing outside neoliberalism.

Neoliberal totalitarianism finds different expression in the US than in India, in Hungary than in Israel. In " Neoliberal Fascism: Free Markets and the Restructuring of Indian Capitalism," Shankar Gopalakrishnan observed that exclusive Hindu nationalism has been the catalyst for rightwing neoliberalism to mobilize popular support. "Hindutva [ a term coined by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 1923 to assert exclusive Hindu dominance] is seen as an effort by neoliberalism, or perhaps more broadly by capitalism, to divert attention from class conflict, to divide and weaken working class struggles and to deflect class-driven anxieties on to minority communities. This approach is problematic in two senses. First, it does not explain why Hindutva organisations are able to develop a mass base, except to the extent that they are seen to be appealing to "historical identity" or "emotive" issues. The state exists only as the expression and guarantor of a collectivity founded around a transcendent principle : The ideal state is the guarantor of the Hindu rashtra, a "nation" that exists as an organic and harmonious unity between "Hindus."

https://mronline.org/2008/11/14/neoliberalism-and-hindutva-fascism-free-markets-and-the-restructuring-of-indian-capitalism/

Whereas under Ronald Reagan's neoliberal populist policies (Reaganism) under a rightwing political umbrella the state structure was strengthened in the US, in the process of implementing neoliberal policies state bureaucratic functions have been outsourced to private companies thus keeping with the spirit of corporate-welfare goals. Other countries followed a path similar to the one of the US. Contrary to the claims of many neoliberal scholars, politicians and commentators, neoliberalism has not weakened the state simply because the ideology lays claims to a hegemonic private sector and weak state. It is true that the Keynesian-welfare state structure has been weakened while the corporate-welfare-militarist-police-state structure has been strengthened. However, in the less developed capitalist countries the public sector has weakened as a result of the US and EU imposing the neoliberal model which drains the public sector of any leverage in stimulating economic and social development investment because of the transfer of public assets and public services to the private sector.( http://jgu.edu.in/article/indias-neoliberal-path-perdition ; Monica Prasad, The Politics of Free Markets , 2006)

Gaspar Miklos Tamas, a Romanian political philosopher of the George Lukacs-inspired Budapest School, argues that global division of labor in the neoliberal era has not only resulted in wealth transfer from the bottom up but it has diminished national sovereignty and citizenship for those in less developed (periphery) nations. "The new dual sate is alive and well: Normative State for the core populations of the capitalist center, and another State of arbitrary decrees for the non-citizens who are the rest. Unlike in classical fascism, this second State is only dimly visible from the first. The radical critique protesting that liberty within the Normative State is an illusion, although understandable, is erroneous. The denial of citizenship based not on exploitation, oppression and straightforward discrimination, but on mere exclusion and distance, is difficult to grasp, because the mental habits of liberation struggle for a more just redistribution of goods and powers are not applicable. The problem is not that the Normative State is becoming more authoritarian: rather, that it belongs only to a few." https://www.opendemocracy.net/people-newright/article_306.jsp

If the normative state is the domain of the very few with the rest under the illusion of inclusion, Miklos Tamas concludes that we are living in a global post-fascist era which is not the same as the interwar totalitarian model based on a mass movement of Fascism. Instead, neoliberal totalirarianism categorically rejects the Enlightenment tradition of citizenship which is the very essence of the bourgeois social contract. While the normative state in advanced countries is becoming more authoritarian with police-state characteristics, the state in the periphery whether Eastern Europe, Latin America or Africa is swept along by neoliberal policies that drive it toward authoritarianism as much as the state in Trump's America as in parts of Europe to the degree that in January 2018 Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) faced the prospect either of new elections or entering into a coalition with the neo-Nazi Alternative fur Deutchalnd (AfD). https://www.prosper.org.au/2010/05/25/the-counter-enlightenment/

The rightwing course of the Western World spreading into the rest of the world is not only because of IMF austerity used as leverage to impose neoliberalism in developing nations. Considering that countries have been scrambling to attract foreign investment which carries neoliberal policies of deregulation, privatization, weak trade unions and low taxes as a precondition, the entire world economic system is the driving force toward a form of totalitarianism. As Miklos Tamas argues, this has diluted national sovereignty of weaker countries, allowing national capitalists and especially multinational corporations to play a determining role in society against the background of a weak state structure. Along with weakened national sovereignty, national citizenship in turn finds expression in extreme rightwing groups to compensate for loss of independence as the bourgeois social contract presumably guarantees. (Aihwa Ong, Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty , 2006; http://www.e-ir.info/2012/08/22/globalization-does-not-entail-the-weakening-of-the-liberal-state/

It is undeniable that there is a qualitative difference in Berlin and Rome under neoliberal regimes today than it was under Fascism. It would be a mistake to lump a contemporary neoliberal society together with the Third Reich and Fascist Italy, a dreadful and costly mistake that Stalinists made in the 1930s. Interwar totalitarianism existed under one-party state with a popular base operating as a police state. Although many countries under varieties of neoliberal regimes have an electoral system of at least two parties alternating power, the ruling parties pursue neoliberal policies with variations on social and cultural issues (identity politics), thus operating within the same policy framework impacting peoples' living standards.

Not just leftist academic critics, but even the progressive democratic Salon magazine recognized during the US election of 2016 that the neoliberal state would prevail regardless of whether Trump or Clinton won the presidential contest. " Neoliberalism presumes a strong state, working only for the benefit of the wealthy, and as such it has little pretence to neutrality and universality, unlike the classical liberal state. I would go so far as to say that neoliberalism is the final completion of capitalism's long-nascent project, in that the desire to transform everything -- every object, every living thing, every fact on the planet -- in its image had not been realized to the same extent by any preceding ideology.

https://www.salon.com/2016/06/06/this_is_our_neoliberal_nightmare_hillary_clinton_donald_trump_and_why_the_market_and_the_wealthy_win_every_time/

In neoliberal society either of the pluralist-diversity or of the authoritarian political camp there are elements of polizeistaat though not nearly full blown as in the Third Reich. While conformity to the status quo and self-censorship is the only way to survive, modern means of communication and multiple dissident outlets attacking the status quo from the right, which is far more pervasive and socio-politically acceptable than doing so from the left, has actually facilitated the evolution of the new totalitarian state. http://www.thegreatregression.eu/progressive-neoliberalism-versus-reactionary-populism-a-hobsons-choice/

Whereas big business collaborated closely with Fascist dictators from the very beginning to secure the preeminence of the existing social order threatened by the crisis of democracy created by capitalism, big business under the neoliberal social contract has the same goal, despite disagreement on the means of forging political consensus. Partly because neoliberalism carries the legacy of late 19 th century liberalism and operates in most countries within the parliamentary system, and partly because of fear of grassroots social revolution, a segment of the capitalist class wants to preserve the democratic façade of the neoliberal social contract by perpetuating identity politics. In either case, 'economic fascism' as the essence of neoliberalism, or post-fascism as Miklos Tamas calls it, is an inescapable reality. (Andrea Micocci and Flavia Di Mario, The Fascist Nature of Neoliberalism , 2017).

In distinguishing the composition and goals of theparliamentary state vs. the Fascist one-party state, Italian Fascism's theoretician Giovanni Gentile characterizedit as 'totalitario'; a term also applied to Germany's Third Reich the latter which had the added dimension of anti-Semitism as policy. Arguing that ideology in the Fascist totalitarian state had a ubiquitous role in every aspect of life and power over people, Gentile and Mussolini viewed such state as the catalyst to a powerful nation-state that subordinates all institutions and the lives of citizens to its mold. In "La Dottrina del Fascismo" (Gentile and Mussolini, 1932), Musolini made famous the statement: "Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state," although Hitler's polizeistaat was more totalitarian because it had the means to achieve policy goals stated in Mein Kampf .

The convergence of neoliberalism and Fascism is hardly surprising when one considers that both aim at a totalitarian society of different sorts, one of state-driven ideology and the other market-driven with the corporate welfare state behind it. In some respects, Sheldon Wolin's the "inverted totalitarianism" theory places this issue into another perspective, arguing that despite the absence of a dictator the corporate state behind the façade of 'electoral democracy' is an instrument of totalitarianism. Considering the increased role of security-intelligence-surveillance agencies in a presumably open society, it is not difficult to see that society has more illiberal than classic liberal traits. Sheldon Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, 2008)

More powerful than the Axis Powers combined, American "Inverted totalitarianism" was internationalized during the Cold War and became more blatant during the war on terror, in large measure used as a pretext to impose neoliberalism in the name of national security. As the police-state gradually became institutionalized in every respect from illegal surveillance of citizens to suppressing dissent to the counterterrorism-neoliberal regime, it was becoming clearer to many scholars that a version of fascism was emerging in the US which also sprang up around the world. (Charlotte Heath-Kelly et al. eds., Neoliberalism and Terror: Critical Engagements , 2016; https://deeppoliticsforum.com/forums/showthread.php?15074-Chris-Hedges-The-Great-Unraveling-USA-on-the-brink-of-neo-fascist-police-state#.WifwyLBrzIU

Almost a century after the era of Fascist totalitarianism that led to WWII, the transition of capitalism's global structure with a shifting core from the US and northwest Europe to East Asia has entailed intense global competition for capital accumulation to the degree that the advanced countries have been pushing living standards downward to compete with low-wage global markets. The process of draining greater surplus value from labor especially from the periphery countries where IMF-style austerity policies have resulted in massive capital transfer to the core countries has taken place under the neoliberal social contract that has striking similarities with Fascism.

Backed by the state in the advanced capitalist countries, international organizations among them the IMF have been promoting economic fascism under the label of 'neoliberal reforms', thus molding state structures accordingly. Neoliberal totalitarianism is far more organized and ubiquitous than interwar Fascism not only because of the strong national state structure of core countries and modern technology and communications networks that enables surveillance and impose subtle forms of indoctrination, but also because the international agencies established by the US under the Bretton Woods system help to impose policies and institutions globally.

  1. Characteristics of the Illiberal Neoliberal Society

The genesis of illiberal politics can be traced back to the end of WWI when Europeans witnessed the unraveling of the rationalist order of the Enlightenment rooted in Lockean liberalism. Influenced by the wars of imperialism that led the First World War at the end of which Vladimir Lenin led the Bolsheviks to a revolutionary victory over Czarist Russia, Joseph Schumpeter like many European scholars was trying to make sense of how capitalism's forcible geographic expansion (imperialism) led to such global disasters that undermined the rationalist assumptions of the Enlightenment about society and its institutions. In his Sociology of Imperialism (1919), he wrote the following about the relationship of the bourgeoisie with the state.

"The bourgeoisie did not simply supplant the sovereign, nor did it make him its leader, as did the nobility. It merely wrested a portion of its power from him and for the rest submitted to him. It did not take over from the sovereign the state as an abstract form of organization. The state remained a special social power, confronting the bourgeoisie. In some countries it has continued to play that role to the present day. It is in the state that the bourgeoisie with its interests seeks refuge, protection against external and even domestic enemies. The bourgeoisie seeks to win over the state for itself, and in return serves the state and state interests that are different from its own."

The strong state structure of the imperial state that the bourgeoisie supported as a vehicle of expanding their interests globally while maintaining the social order at the national level held true only for the advanced capitalist countries eagerly trying to secure international markets at any cost including armed conflict. While essential for capital integration and expansion, the strong state structure was and remains an anathema to the bourgeoisie, if its role is to make political, economic and social concessions to the laboring and middle classes which are the popular base for bourgeois political parties. While classical liberal theory expresses the interests of capitalism its role is not to serve in furtherance of political equality for the simple reason that capitalism cannot exist under such a regime. Both John Locke and John Stuart Mill rejected political egalitarianism, while Schumpeter viewed democratic society with egalitarianism as an integral part of democracy. Rejecting Locke's and Mill's abstract receptiveness to egalitarianism, neoliberals of either the pluralist or authoritarian camp are blatantly adopt illiberal policies that exacerbate elitism, regardless of the rhetoric they employ to secure mass popular support.

Characterized by elitism, class, gender, racial and ethnic inequality, limits on freedom of expression, on human rights and civil rights, illiberal politics thrives on submission of the masses to the status quo. In his essay The Political Economy of Neoliberalism and Illiberal Democracy, Garry Jacobs, an academic/consultant who still believes in classical liberal economics operating in a pluralistic and preferably non-militaristic society, warns that world-wide democracy is under siege. " Democratic elections have become the means for installing leaders with little respect for democratic values. The tolerance, openness and inclusiveness on which modern democracy is founded are being rejected by candidates and voters in favor of sectarian, parochial fears and interests. The role of the free press as an impartial arbiter of facts is being undermined by the rise of private and public news media conglomerates purveying political preference as fact combined with a blinding blizzard of fake news. Party politics has been polarized into a winner-take-all fight to the finish by vested-interests and impassioned extremist minorities trying to impose their agendas on a complacent majority. Corporate power and money power are transforming representative governments into plutocratic pseudo-democracies. Fundamentalists are seizing the instruments of secular democracy to impose intolerant linguistic, racial and religious homogeneity in place of the principles of liberty and harmonious heterogeneity that are democracy's foundation and pinnacle of achievement."

http://www.cadmusjournal.org/article/volume-3/issue-3/political-economy-neoliberalism-and-illiberal-democracy

While neoliberals in the populist rightwing wholeheartedly share and promote such views, those who embrace the pluralist-identity politics camp are just as supportive of many aspects of the corporate welfare-police-counterterrorism state as a means to engender domestic sociopolitical conformity and to achieve closer global economic integration. The question is not so much what each political camp under the larger neoliberal umbrella pursues as a strategy to mobilize a popular base but whether the economic-social policies intertwined with a corporate-welfare-police-counterterrorism state is the driving force toward a Fascist model of government. In both the pluralist model with some aspects of the social safety net, and the rightwing populist version neoliberalism's goal is rapid capital accumulation on a world scale, institutional submission of the individual and molding the citizen's subjective reality around the neoliberal ideology.

Illiberal politics in our time is partly both symptomatic of and a reaction to neoliberal globalism and culture wars that serve to distract from the intensified class struggle boiling beneath the surface. Rhetorically denouncing globalist neoliberalism, populist rightwing politicians assert the importance of national capitalism but always within the perimeters of neoliberal policies. Hence they co-opt the socio-cultural positions of nationalist extremists as a political strategy to mobilize the masses. Scholars, journalists and politicians have speculated whether the rising tide of rightwing populism pursuing neoliberalism under authoritarian models not just in the Western World, but Eastern Europe, South Asia and Africa reflects the rejection of liberal democracy and the triumph of illiberal politics that best reflects and serves the political economy. Unquestionably, there is a direct correlation between the internationalization of the Western neoliberal transformation model imposed on the world in the post-Soviet era and the rise of rightwing populism reacting to the gap between the promises of what capitalism was supposed to deliver and the reality of downward pressures on living standards. http://www.counterfire.org/interview/18068-india-s-nightmare-the-extremism-of-narendra-modi ; http://ac.upd.edu.ph/index.php/news-announcements/1201-southeast-asian-democracy-neoliberalism-populism-vedi-hadiz ; http://balticworlds.com/breaking-out-of-the-deadlock-of-neoliberalism-vs-rightwing-populism/

Not just the US, but Europe has been flirting with 'illiberal democracy' characterized by strong authoritarian-style elected officials as Garry Jacobs has observed. Amid elections in Bosnia in 1996, US diplomat Richard Holbrooke wondered about the rightwing path of former Yugoslav republics. "Suppose the election was declared free and fair and those elected are "racists, fascists, separatists, who are publicly opposed to [peace and reintegration]. That is the dilemma." Twenty years after what Holbrooke dreaded election outcomes in Yugoslavia, the US elected a rightwing neoliberal populist leading the Republican Party and making culture wars a central theme to distract from the undercurrent class struggle in the country. A structural issue that transcends personalities, this reality in America is symptomatic of the link between neoliberalism and the rise of illiberal democracy in a number of countries around the world. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/1997-11-01/rise-illiberal-democracy

Some political observers analyzing the rightist orientation of neoliberal policies have concluded that neoliberalism and Fascism have more in common than people realize. In 2016, Manuela Cadelli, President of the Magistrates Union of Belgium, wrote a brief article arguing that Neoliberalism is indeed a form of Fascism; a position people seem to be willing to debate after the election of Donald Trump pursuing neoliberal policies with a rightwing populist ideological and cultural platform to keep a popular base loyal to the Republican Party. "Fascism may be defined as the subordination of every part of the State to a totalitarian and nihilistic ideology. I argue that neoliberalism is a species of fascism because the economy has brought under subjection not only the government of democratic countries but also every aspect of our thought. The state is now at the disposal of the economy and of finance, which treat it as a subordinate and lord over it to an extent that puts the common good in jeopardy." http://www.defenddemocracy.press/president-belgian-magistrates-neoliberalism-form-fascism/

It is ironic that neoliberal society is 'a species of fascism', but there no widespread popular opposition from leftist groups to counter it. People remain submissive to the neoliberal state that has in fact eroded much of what many in the pluralist camp hail as liberal democratic institutions. Most adapt to the status quo because to do otherwise means difficulty surviving today just as it was difficult to survive under Fascism for those in opposition; as Palmiro Togliatti noted ( Lectures on Fascism, 1935) when he cautioned about castigating workers who joined the party simply because they placed survival of their family above any progressive ideology. Because evidence of systemic exploitation ingrained into society passes as the 'norm', and partly because repression targets minority groups, migrants, and the working class, especially those backing trade unions and progressive political parties, people support the neoliberal state that they see as the constitutional entity and the only means for survival.

The media, government and mainstream institutions denounce anyone crying out for social justice, human rights and systemic change. Such people are 'trendy rebels', as though social justice is a passing fad like a clothing line, misguided idealists or treasonous criminals. Considering that the corporate-owned and state media validates the legitimacy of the neoliberal social contract, the political class and social elites enjoy the freedom to shape the state's goals in the direction toward a surveillance police-state. All of this goes without notice in the age when it is almost expected because it is defaulted to technology making easy to detect foreign and domestic enemies while using the same technology to shape the citizen's subjective reality.

Partly because of the communications revolution in the digital age, neoliberalism has the ability to mold the citizen beyond loyalty to the social contract not just into mechanical observance but total submission to its institutions by reshaping the person's values and identity. In this respect, neoliberalism is not so different from Fascism whose goal was to mold the citizen. " Neoliberalism has been more successful than most past ideologies in redefining subjectivity, in making people alter their sense of themselves, their personhood, their identities, their hopes and expectations and dreams and idealizations. Classical liberalism was successful too, for two and a half centuries, in people's self-definition, although communism and fascism succeeded less well in realizing the "new man." It cannot be emphasized enough that neoliberalism is not classical liberalism, or a return to a purer version of it, as is commonly misunderstood; it is a new thing, because the market, for one thing, is not at all free and untethered and dynamic in the sense that classical liberalism idealized it.

https://www.salon.com/2016/06/06/this_is_our_neoliberal_nightmare_hillary_clinton_donald_trump_and_why_the_market_and_the_wealthy_win_every_time/

Although people go about their daily lives focused on their interests, they operate against the background of neoliberal institutions that determine their lives in every respect from chatting on their cell phones to how they live despite their illusions of free will. As the world witnessed a segment of the population openly embracing fascism from movement to legitimate political party in interwar Europe, a corresponding rise in racism and ethnocentrism under the umbrella of rightwing neoliberal populism has taken place in the first two decades of the 21 st century.

Representing the UN Human Rights agency, Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad al-Hussein stated that 2016 was disastrous for human rights, as the 'clash of civilizations' construct has become ingrained into the political mainstream in Western countries. "In some parts of Europe, and in the United States, anti-foreigner rhetoric full of unbridled vitriol and hatred, is proliferating to a frightening degree, and is increasingly unchallenged. The rhetoric of fascism is no longer confined to a secret underworld of fascists, meeting in ill-lit clubs or on the 'deep net'. It is becoming part of normal daily discourse." http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/united-nations-chilling-warning-rise-fascism-human-rights-prince-zeid-a7464861.html

Because neoliberalism has pushed all mainstream bourgeois political parties to the right, the far right no longer seems nearly as extreme today as it did during the Vietnam War's protest generation who still had hope for a socially just society even if that meant strengthening the social welfare system. The last two generations were raised knowing no alternative to neoliberalism; the panacea for all that ails society is less social welfare and privatization of public services within the framework of a state structure buttressing corporate welfare. The idea that nothing must be tolerated outside the hegemonic market and all institutions must mirror the neoliberal model reflects a neo-totalitarian society where sociopolitical conformity follows because survival outside the system is not viable.

Although Western neoconservatives have employed the term 'neo-totalitarian' to describe Vladimir Putin's Russia, the term applies even more accurately to the US and someEuropean nations operating under neoliberal-military-police state structures with as much power than the Russian bureaucratic state has at its disposal.The contradiction of neoliberalism rests in the system's goal of integrating everyone into the neo-totalitarian mold. Because of the system's inherent hierarchical structure, excluding most from the institutional mainstream and limiting popular sovereignty to the elites exposes the exploitation and repression goals that account for the totalitarian nature of the system masquerading as democratic where popular sovereignty is diffused. The seemingly puzzling aspect of the rise in rightwing populism across the globe that rests in marginalization of a segment of the population and the support for it not just from certain wealthy individuals financing extremist movements, but from a segment of the middle class and even working class lining up behind it because they see their salvation with the diminution of weaker social groups. This pattern was also evident in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and pro-Nazi authoritarian regimes of the interwar era. https://www.demdigest.org/neo-totalitarian-russia-potent-existential-threat-west/ ; Benjamin Moffitt, The Global Rise of Populism (2017.

Because of contradictions in bourgeois liberal democracy where capital accumulation at any social cost is the goal, the system produced the current global wave of rightwing populism just as capitalism in the interwar era gave rise to Fascism. As one analyst put it, " The risk democratic formations continually face is internal disintegration such that the heterogeneous elements of the social order not only fail to come together within some principle of or for unity, but actively turn against one another. In this case, a totally unproductive revolution takes place. Rather than subversion of the normative order causing suffering, rebellion or revolution that might establish a new nomos of shared life as a way of establishing a new governing logic, the dissociated elements of disintegrating democratic formations identify with the very power responsible for their subjection–capital, the state and, the strong leader. Thus the possibility of fascism is not negated in neoliberal formations but is an ever present possibility arising within it. Because the value of the social order as such is never in itself sufficient to maintain its own constitution, it must have recourse to an external value, which is the order of the sacred embodied by the sovereign. http://readersupportednews.org/pm-section/78-78/41987-neoliberalism-fascism-and-sovereignty /

Public opinion surveys of a number of countries around the world, including those in the US, indicated that most people do not favor the existing social contract rooted in neoliberal policies that impact everything from living standards and labor policy to the judicial system and foreign affairs. Instead of driving workers toward a leftwing revolutionary path, many support rightwing populism that has resulted in the rise of even greater oppression and exploitation. Besides nationalism identified with the powerful elites as guardians of the national interest, many among the masses believe that somehow the same social contract responsible for existing problems will provide salvation they seek. While widespread disillusionment with neoliberal globalization seems to be at the core in the rise of rightwing populism, the common denominator is downward social mobility. (Doug Miller, Can the World be Wrong ? 2015)

As Garry Jacobs argues, "Even mature democracies show signs of degenerating into their illiberal namesakes. The historical record confirms that peaceful, prosperous, free and harmonious societies can best be nurtured by the widest possible distribution of all forms of power -- political, economic, educational, scientific, technological and social -- to the greatest extent to the greatest number. The aspiration for individual freedom can only be realized and preserved when it is married with the right to social equality. The mutual interdependence of the individual and the collective is the key to their reconciliation and humanity's future. http://www.cadmusjournal.org/article/volume-3/issue-3/political-economy-neoliberalism-and-illiberal-democracy

Just as in the interwar era when many Europeans lost confidence in the rationalism of the Enlightenment and lapsed into amorality and alienation that allowed for even greater public manipulation by the hegemonic culture, in the early 21 st the neoliberal social contract with a complex matrix of communications at its disposal is able to indoctrinate on a mass scale more easily than ever. Considering the low level of public trust in the mainstream media that most people regardless of political/ideological position view as propaganda rather than informational, cynicism about national and international institutions prevails. As the fierce struggle for power among mainstream political parties competing to manage the state on behalf of capital undercuts the credibility of the political class, rightwing elements enter the arena as 'outsider' messiahs above politics (Bonapartism in the 21 st century) to save the nation, while safeguarding the neoliberal social contract. This is as evident in France where the pluralist political model of neoliberalism has strengthened the neo-Fascist one that Marine Le Pen represents, as in Trump's America where the Democratic Party's neoliberal policies helped give rise to rightwing populism.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/macronism-neoliberal-triumph-or-next-stage-in-frances-political-crisis/5596722 ; https://socialistworker.org/2016/12/05/the-18th-brumaire-of-trump

As the following article in The Economist points out, widespread disillusionment with globalist neoliberal policies drove people to the right for an enemy to blame for all the calamities that befall society. " Beset by stagnant wage growth, less than half of respondents in America, Britain and France believe that globalisation is a "force for good" in the world. Westerners also say the world is getting worse. Even Americans, generally an optimistic lot, are feeling blue: just 11% believe the world has improved in the past year. The turn towards nationalism is especially pronounced in France, the cradle of liberty. Some 52% of the French now believe that their economy should not have to rely on imports, and just 13% reckon that immigration has a positive effect on their country. France is divided as to whether or not multiculturalism is something to be embraced. Such findings will be music to the ears of Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, France's nationalist, Eurosceptic party. Current (and admittedly early) polling has her tied for first place in the 2017 French presidential race. https://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2016/11/daily-chart-12

Similar to deep-rooted cultural and ideological traits of Nazism in German society, there are similar traits in contemporary US, India and other countries where rightwing populism has found a receptive public. Although there are varieties of populism from Lepenism (Marine Le Pen's National Front) to Trumpism (US Republican Donald Trump) to Modism (India's Narendra Modi), they share common characteristics, including cult of personality as a popular rallying catalyst, promoting hatred and marginalization of minority groups, and promising to deliver a panacea to "society" when in fact their policies are designed to strengthen big capital.

Rightwing populist politicians who pursue neoliberal policies are opportunistically pushing the political popular base toward consolidation of a Fascist movement and often refer to themselves as movement rather than a party. Just as there were liberals who refused to accept the imminent rise of Fascism amid the parliamentary system's collapse in the 1920s, there are neoliberals today who refuse to accept that the global trend of populism is a symptom of failed neoliberalism that has many common characteristics with Fascism. In an article entitled "Populism is not Fascism: But it could be a Harbinger" by Sheri Berman, the neoliberal journal Foreign Affairs , acknowledged that liberal bourgeois democracy is losing its luster around the world. However, the author would not go as far as to examine the structural causes for this phenomenon because to do so would be to attack the social contract within which it operates. Treating rightwing populism as though it is a marginal outgrowth of mainstream conservatism and an aberration rather than the outgrowth of the system's core is merely a thinly veiled attempt to defend the status quo of which rightwing populism is an integral part.

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2016-10-17/populism-not-fascism

Structural Exploitation under the Neoliberal Social Contract

Structural exploitation – "a property of institutions or systems in which the "rules of the game" unfairly benefit one group of people to the detriment of another" https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/exploitation/ – has been an incontrovertible reality of all class-based societiesfrom the establishment of the earliest city-states in Mesopotamia until the present.Usually but not always intertwined with social oppression, structural exploitation entails a relationship of social dominance of an elite group over the rest of society subordinated for the purpose of economic, social, political, and cultural exploitation. Legitimized by the social contract, justifications for institutional exploitation include safety and security of country, eliminating impediments to progress, and emulating nature's competitive forces that exist in the animal kingdom and reflect human nature.

From Solon's laws in 6 th century BC Athens until our contemporary neoliberal era, social contract theory presumes that the state is the catalyst for social harmony if not fairness and not for a privileged social class to exploit the rest of society. No legal system has ever been codified that explicitly states its goal is to use of the state as an instrument of exploitation and oppression. In reality however, from ancient Babylon when King Hammurabi codified the first laws in 1780 B.C. until the present when multinational corporations and wealthy individuals directly or through lobbyists exert preponderate influence in public policy the theoretical assumption is one of fairness and justice for all people as a goal for the social contract.

In the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – biotechnology, nanotechnology, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence – presumably to serve mankind as part of the social contract rather than to exploit more thoroughly and marginalize a large segment of humanity, the persistence of structural exploitation and oppression challenges those with a social conscience and morality rooted in humanist values to question what constitutes societal progress and public interest. Liberal and Christian-Libertarian arguments about free will notwithstanding, it has always been the case that mainstream institutions and the dominant culture indoctrinate people into believing that ending exploitation by changing the social contract is a utopian dream; a domain relegated to poets, philosophers and song writers lacking proper grounding in the reality of mainstream politics largely in the service of the dominant socioeconomic class. The paradox in neoliberal ideology is its emphasis on free choice, while the larger goal is to mold the subjective reality within the neoliberal institutional structure and way of life. The irreconcilable aspects of neoliberalism represent the contradictory goals of the desire to project democratic mask that would allow for popular sovereignty while pursuing capital accumulation under totalitarian methods. http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_contractarianism.html ' http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tippling/2017/05/15/indoctrination-and-free-will/

Social cooperation becomes dysfunctional when distortions and contradictions within the system create large-scale social marginalization exposing the divergence between the promise of the neoliberal social contract and the reality in peoples' lives. To manage the dysfunction by mobilizing popular support, the political elites of both the pluralist and the authoritarian-populist wing operating under the neoliberal political umbrella compete for power by projecting the image of an open democratic society. Intra-class power struggles within the elite social and political classes vying for power distracts from social exploitation because the masses line behind competing elites convinced such competition is the essence of democracy. As long as the majority in society passively acquiesces to the legitimacy of the social contract, even if in practice society is socially unjust, the status quo remains secure until systemic contradictions in the political economy make it unsustainable. https://mises.org/library/profound-significance-social-harmony

In the last three centuries, social revolutions, upheavals and grassroots movements have demonstrated that people want a social contract that includes workers, women, and marginalized groups into the mainstream and elevates their status economically and politically. In the early 21 st century, there are many voices crying out for a new social contract based on social justice and equality against neoliberal tyranny. However, those faint voices are drowned against the preponderate neoliberal public policy impacting every sector while shaping the individual's worldview and subjective reality. The triumph of neoliberal orthodoxy has deviated from classical liberalism to the degree that dogmatism 'single-thought' process dominates not just economics, not just the social contract, but the very fabric of our humanity. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/21598282.2013.761449?journalCode=rict20 ; https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/aug/18/neoliberalism-the-idea-that-changed-the-world

Under neoliberalism, "Uberization" as a way of life is becoming the norm not just in the 'financialization' neoliberal economy resting on speculation rather than productivity but in society as well. The neoliberal ideology has indoctrinated the last two generations that grew up under this system and know no other reality thus taking for granted the neoliberal way of life as natural as the air they breathe. Often working two jobs, working overtime without compensation or taking work home just to keep the job has become part of chasing the dream of merely catching up with higher costs of living. People have accepted perpetual work enmeshed with the capitalist ideology of perpetual economic growth perversely intertwined with progress of civilization. The corporate ideology of "grow or die" at any cost is in reality economic growth confined to the capitalist class, while fewer and fewer people enjoy its fruits and communities, cities, entire countries under neoliberal austerity suffer.

Carl Boggs, The End of Politics: Corporate Power and the Decline of the Public Sphere , 2000; https://monthlyreview.org/2007/04/01/the-financialization-of-capitalism/ ; https://permaculturenews.org/2012/06/15/myth-of-perpetual-growth-is-killing-america/

The incentive for conformity is predicated on the belief that the benefits of civilization would be fairly distributed if not in the present then at some point in the future for one's children or grandchildren; analogous to living a virtuous life in order to enjoy the rewards after death. As proof that the system works for the benefit of society and not just the capitalist class, neoliberal apologists point to stock market gains and surprisingly there is a psychological impact – the wealth effect – on the mass consumer who feels optimistic and borrows to raise consumption. Besides the fact that only a very small percentage of people on the planet own the vast majority of securities, even in the US there is no correlation between stock market performance and living standards. (John Seip and Dee Wood Harper, The Trickle Down Delusion , 2016)
If we equate the stock market with the 'wealth of the nation', then in 1982 when the S & P index stood at 117 rising to 2675 in December 2017, the logical conclusion is that living standards across the US rose accordingly. However, this is the period when real incomes for workers and the middle class actually declined despite sharp rise in productivity and immense profits reflected in the incomes gap reflected in the bottom 90% vs. the top 10%. This is also the period when we see the striking divergence between wealth accumulation for the top 1% and a relative decline for the bottom 90%. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/17/upshot/income-inequality-united-states.html ; https://ourworldindata.org/income-inequality/

A research study compiled by the pro-organized labor non-profit think tank 'Economic Policy Institute' stresses the divergence between productivity and real wages. While the top 0.01% of America's experienced 386% income growth between 1980 and 1914, the bottom 90% suffered 3% real income drop. Whereas in 1980 income share for the bottom 90% stood at 65% and for the top 1% it stood at 10%, by 2014 the bottom 90% held just half of the income, while the top 1% owned 21%. This dramatic income divergence, which has been shown in hundreds of studies and not even neoliberal billionaires deny their validity, took place under the shift toward the full implementation of the neoliberal social contract. It is significant to note that such income concentration resulting from fiscal policy, corporate subsidy policy, privatization and deregulation has indeed resulted in higher productivity exactly as neoliberal apologists have argued. However, higher worker productivity and higher profits has been made possible precisely because of income transfer from labor to capitalist. http://www.epi.org/publication/charting-wage-stagnation/ ; https://aneconomicsense.org/2015/07/13/the-highly-skewed-growth-of-incomes-since-1980-only-the-top-0-5-have-done-better-than-before/

"Real hourly compensation of production, nonsupervisory workers who make up 80 percent of the workforce, also shows pay stagnation for most of the period since 1973, rising 9.2 percent between 1973 and 2014.Net productivity grew 1.33 percent each year between 1973 and 2014, faster than the meager 0.20 percent annual rise in median hourly compensation. In essence, about 15 percent of productivity growth between 1973 and 2014 translated into higher hourly wages and benefits for the typical American worker. Since 2000, the gap between productivity and pay has risen even faster. The net productivity growth of 21.6 percent from 2000 to 2014 translated into just a 1.8 percent rise in inflation-adjusted compensation for the median worker (just 8 percent of net productivity growth).Since 2000, more than 80 percent of the divergence between a typical (median) worker's pay growth and overall net productivity growth has been driven by rising inequality (specifically, greater inequality of compensation and a falling share of income going to workers relative to capital owners).Over the entire 1973–2014 period, rising inequality explains over two-thirds of the productivity–pay divergence. " (Josh Bivens and Lawrence Mishel, "Understanding the Historic Divergence Between Productivity and a Typical Worker's Pay Why It Matters and Why It's Real" in Economic Policy Institute, 2015, http://www.epi.org/publication/understanding-the-historic-divergence-between-productivity-and-a-typical-workers-pay-why-it-matters-and-why-its-real/

The average corporate tax rate in the world has been cut in half in the last two decades from about 40% to 22%, with the effective rate actually paid lower than the official rate. This represents a massive transfer of wealth to the highest income brackets drained from the working class. More than half-a-century ago, American anthropologist Jules Henry wrote that: "The fact that our society places no limit on wealth while making it accessible to all helps account for the 'feverish' quality Tocqueville sensed in American civilization." Culture Against Man (1963). The myth that the neoliberal policies in the information age lead toward a society richer for all people is readily refuted by the reality of huge wealth distribution gaps resulting from 'informational capitalism' backed by the corporate welfare state.

Capital accumulation not just in the US but on a world scale without a ceiling has resulted in more thorough exploitation of workers and in a less socially just society today than in the early 1960s when Jules Henry was writing and it is headed increasingly toward authoritarian models of government behind the very thin veneer of meaningless elections. Against this background of unfettered neoliberalism, social responsibility is relegated to issues ranging from corporate-supported sustainable development in which large businesses have a vested interest as part of future designs on capital accumulation, to respecting lifestyle and cultural and religious freedoms within the existing social contract. (Dieter Plehwe et al. eds., Neoliberal Hegemony , 2006; Carl Ferenbach and Chris Pinney, " Toward a 21st Century Social Contract" Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Vol. 24, No 2, 2012; http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1745-6622.2012.00372.x/abstract

At its Annual conference in 2017 where representatives from the 'Fortune 500', academia, think tanks, NGOs, and government, business consultancy group BSR provided the following vision under the heading "A 21 st Century Social Contract" : "The nature of work is changing very rapidly. Old models of lifelong employment via business and a predictable safety net provided by government are no longer assured in a new demographic, economic, and political environment. We see these trends most clearly in the rise of the "gig economy," in which contingent workers (freelancers, independent contractors, consultants, or other outsourced and non-permanent workers) are hired on a temporary or part-time basis. These workers make up more than 90 percent of new job creation in European countries, and by 2020, it is estimated that more than 40 percent of the U.S. workforce will be in contingent jobs." https://bsr17.org/agenda/sessions/the-21st-century-social-contract

Representing multinational corporate members and proud sponsors of sustainable development solutions within the neoliberal model, BSR applauded the aspirations and expectations of today's business people that expect to concentrate even more capital as the economy becomes more 'UBERized' and reliant on the new digital technology. Despite fear and anxiety about a bleak techno-science future as another mechanism to keep wages as close to subsistence if not below that level as possible, peoples' survival instinct forces them to adjust their lives around the neoliberal social contract. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/531726/technology-and-inequality/

Reflecting the status quo, the media indoctrinate people to behave as though systemic exploitation, oppression, division, and marginalization are natural while equality and the welfare of the community represent an anathema to bourgeois civilization. What passes as the 'social norm', largely reflects the interests of the socioeconomic elites propagating the 'legitimacy' of their values while their advocates vilify values that place priority on the community aspiring to achieve equality and social justice. (Robert E. Watkins, " Turning the Social Contract Inside Out: Neoliberal Governance and Human Capital in Two Days, One Night" , 2016).

The neoliberal myth that the digital technological revolution and the 'knowledge based economy' (KBE) of endless innovation is the catalyst not only to economic growth but to the preservation of civilization and welfare of society has proved hollow in the last four decades. Despite massive innovation in the domain of the digital and biotech domains, socioeconomic polarization and environmental degradation persist at much higher rates today than in the 1970s. Whether in the US, the European Union or developing nations, the neoliberal promise of 'prospering together' has been a farce. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tsq.12106/full ; http://www.ricerchestoriche.org/?p=749

Neoliberal myths about upward linear progress across all segments of society and throughout the world notwithstanding, economic expansion and contraction only result in greater capital concentration. "The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have taken a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, pulled out all 43,060 multinational corporations and the share ownerships linking them to construct a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company's operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power.The model revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships. Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What's more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world's large blue chip and manufacturing firms, the "real" economy, representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a super-entity of 147 even more tightly knit companies (all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity) that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. "In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network." https://weeklybolshevik.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/imperialism-and-the-concentration-of-capital/ http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1107/1107.5728v2.pdf .

With each passing recessionary cycle of the past four decades working class living standards have retreated and never recovered. Although the techno-science panacea has proved a necessary myth and a distraction from the reality of capital concentration, considering that innovation and technology are integral parts of the neoliberal system, the media, politicians, business elites, corporate-funded think tanks and academics continue to promote the illusive 'modernist dream' that only a small segment of society enjoys while the rest take pride living through it vicariously. ( Laurence Reynolds and Bronislaw Szerszynski, "Neoliberalism and technology: Perpetual innovation or perpetual crisis?"

https://www.academia.edu/1937914/Neoliberalism_and_technology

Rooted in militarism and police-state policies, the culture of fear is one of the major ways that the neoliberal regime perpetually distracts people from structural exploitation and oppression in a neoliberal society that places dogmatic focus on atomism. Despite the atomistic value system as an integral part of neoliberalism, neoliberals strongly advocate a corporate state welfare system. Whether supporting pluralism and diversity or rightwing populists, neoliberals agree that without the state buttressing the private sector, the latter will collapse. Author of Liberalism in the Shadow of Totalitarianism (2007) David Ciepley argues in "The Corporate Contradictions of Neoliberalism" that the system's contradictions have led to the authoritarian political model as its only option moving forward.

"Neoliberalism was born in reaction against totalitarian statism, and matured at the University of Chicago into a program of state-reduction that was directed not just against the totalitarian state and the socialist state but also (and especially) against the New Deal regulatory and welfare state. It is a self-consciously reactionary ideology that seeks to roll back the status quo and institutionalize (or, on its own understanding, re-institutionalize) the "natural" principles of the market. But the contradiction between its individualist ideals and our corporate reality means that the effort to institutionalize it, oblivious to this contradiction, has induced deep dysfunction in our corporate system, producing weakened growth, intense inequality, and coercion. And when the ideological support of a system collapses -- as appears to be happening with neoliberalism -- then either the system will collapse, or new levels of coercion and manipulation will be deployed to maintain it. This appears to be the juncture at which we have arrived." https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2017/05/corporate-contradictions-neoliberalism/

Adhering to a tough law-and-order policy, neoliberals have legalized large-scale criminal activity perpetrated by capitalists against society while penalizing small-scale crimes carried out mostly by people in the working class and the marginalized lumpenproletariat . Regardless of approaches within the neoliberal social contract, neoliberal politicians agree on a lengthy prison sentences for street gangs selling narcotics while there is no comparable punishment when it comes to banks laundering billions including from narcotics trafficking, as Deutsche Bank among other mega banks in the US and EU; fixing rates as Barclays among others thus defrauding customers of billions; or creating fake accounts as Wells Fargo , to say nothing of banks legally appropriating billions of dollars from employees and customers and receiving state (taxpayer) funding in times of 'banking crises'. Although it seems enigmatic that there is acquiescence for large scale crimes with the institutional cover of 'legitimacy' by the state and the hegemonic culture, the media has conditioned the public to shrug off structural exploitation as an integral part of the social contract. http://theweek.com/articles/729052/brief-history-crime-corruption-malfeasance-american-banks ; https://www.globalresearch.ca/corruption-in-the-european-union-scandals-in-banking-fraud-and-secretive-ttip-negotiations/5543935

Neoliberalism's reach does not stop with the de-criminalization of white-collar crime or the transfer of economic policy from the public sector to corporations in order to reverse social welfare policies. Transferring sweeping policy powers from the public to the corporate sector, neoliberalism's tentacles impact everything from labor and environment to health, education and foreign policy into the hands of the state-supported corporate sector in an effort to realize even greater capital concentration at an even greater pace. This has far reaching implications in peoples' lives around the world in everything from their work and health to institutions totalitarian at their core but projecting an image of liberal democracy on the surface. (Noam Chomsky and R. W. McChesney, Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order , 2011; Pauline Johnson, "Sociology and the Critique of Neoliberalism" European Journal of Social Theory , 2014

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1368431014534354?journalCode=esta

Comprehensive to the degree that it aims to diminish the state's role by having many of its functions privatized, neoliberalism's impact has reached into monetary policy trying to supplant it with rogue market forces that test the limits of the law and hard currencies. The creation of cryptocurrencies among them BITCOIN that represents the utopian dream of anarcho-libertarians interested in influencing if not dreaming of ultimately supplanting central banks' role in monetary policy is an important dimension of neoliberal ideology. Techno-utopians envisioning the digital citizen in a neoliberal society favor a 'gypsy economy' operating on a digital currency outside the purview of the state's regulatory reach where it is possible to transfer and hide money while engaging in the ultimate game of speculation. ( https://btctheory.com ; Samuel Valasco and Leonardo Medina, The Social Nature of Cryptocurrencies , 2013)

Credited as the neoliberal prophet whose work and affiliate organizations multinational corporations funded, Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek favored market forces to determine monetary policy rather than having government in that role working behind central banks. Aside from the fact that central banks cater to capital and respond to markets and no other constituency, Hayek's proposal ( The Denationalization of Money , 1976) was intended to permit the law of the 'free market' (monetary speculation) determine policy that would impact peoples' living standards. Hence capital accumulation would not be constrained by government regulatory measures and the coordination of monetary policy between central banks. In short, the law of unfettered banking regulation would theoretically result in greater economic growth, no matter the consequences owing to the absence of banking regulatory measures that exacerbate contracting economic cycles such as in 2008. www.voltaire.org/article30058.html )

In December 2017, the UK and EU warned that cryptocurrencies are used in criminal enterprises, including money laundering and tax evasion. Nevertheless, crypto-currency reflects both the ideology and goals of capital accumulation of neoliberals gaining popularity among speculators in the US and other countries. Crypto-currencyfulfills the neoliberal speculator's dream by circumventing the IMF basket of reserved currencies on which others trade while evading regulatory constraints and all mechanisms of legal accountability for the transfer of money and tax liability.

Although a tiny fraction of the global monetary system, computer networks make crypto-currency a reality for speculators, tax evaders, those engaged in illegal activities and even governments like Venezuela under Nocolas Maduro trying to pump liquidity into the oil-dependent economy suffering from hyperinflation and economic stagnation If the crypto-currency system can operate outside the purview of the state, then the neoliberal ideology of trusting the speculator rather than the government would be proved valid about the superfluous role of central banks and monetary centralization, a process that capitalism itself created for the harmonious operation of capitalism. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/dec/04/bitcoin-uk-eu-plan-cryptocurrency-price-traders-anonymity ; http://www.lanacion.com.ar/2099017-venezuela-inflacion-nicolas-maduro-crisis-precios

Indicative of the success of the neoliberal ideology's far reaching impact in economic life cryptocurrencies' existencealso reflects the crisis of capitalism amid massive assaults on middle class and working class living standards in the quest for greater capital concentration. In an ironic twist, the very neoliberal forces that promote cryptocurrencies decry their use by anti-Western nations – Iran, Venezuela, and Russia among others.The criticism of anti-Western governments resorting to cryptocurrenciesis based on their use as a means of circumventing the leverage that reserve currencies like the dollar and euro afford to the West over non-Western nations. This is only one of a few contradictions that neoliberalism creates and undermines the system it strives to build just as it continues to foster its ideology as the only plausible one to pursue globally. Another contradiction is the animosity toward crypto-currencies from mainstream financial institutions that want to maintain a monopoly on government-issued currency which is where they make their profits. As the world's largest institutional promoter of neoliberalism, the IMF has cautioned not to dismiss cryptocurrencies because they could have a future, or they may actually 'be the future'. https://www.coindesk.com/bitcoins-unlimited-potential-lies-in-apolitical-core/ ; http://fortune.com/2017/10/02/bitcoin-ethereum-cryptocurrency-imf-christine-lagarde/

After the "Washington Consensus" of 1989, IMF austerity policies are leverage to impose neoliberal policies globally have weakened national institutions from health to education and trade unions that once formed a social bond for workers aspiring to an integrative socially inclusive covenant in society rather than marginalization. The IMF uses austerity policies for debt relief as leverage to have the government provide more favorable investment conditions and further curtail the rights of labor with everything from ending collective bargaining to introducing variations of "right-to-work" laws" that prohibit trade unions from forcing collective strikes, collecting dues or signing the collective contract. Justified in the name of 'capitalist efficiency', weakening organized labor and its power of collective bargaining has been an integral part of the neoliberal social contract as much in the US and UK as across the rest of the world, invariably justified by pointing to labor markets where workers earn the lowest wages. (B. M. Evans and S. McBride, Austerity: The Lived Experience , 2017; Vicente Berdayes, John W. Murphy, eds. Neoliberalism, Economic Radicalism, and the Normalization of Violence , 2016).

Although many in the mainstream media took notice of the dangers of neoliberalism leading toward authoritarianism after Trump's election, a few faint voices have been warning about this inevitability since the early 1990s. Susan George, president of the Transnational Institute, has argued that neoliberalism is contrary to democracy, it is rooted in Social Darwinism, it undermines the liberal social contract under which that people assume society operates, but it is the system that governments and international organization like the IMF have been promoting.

"Over the past twenty years, the IMF has been strengthened enormously. Thanks to the debt crisis and the mechanism of conditionality, it has moved from balance of payments support to being quasi-universal dictator of so-called "sound" economic policies, meaning of course neo-liberal ones. The World Trade Organisation was finally put in place in January 1995 after long and laborious negotiations, often rammed through parliaments which had little idea what they were ratifying. Thankfully, the most recent effort to make binding and universal neo-liberal rules, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, has failed, at least temporarily. It would have given all rights to corporations, all obligations to governments and no rights at all to citizens. The common denominator of these institutions is their lack of transparency and democratic accountability. This is the essence of neo-liberalism. It claims that the economy should dictate its rules to society, not the other way around. Democracy is an encumbrance, neo-liberalism is designed for winners, not for voters who, necessarily encompass the categories of both winners and losers."

https://www.tni.org/en/article/short-history-neoliberalism

Those on the receiving end of neoliberalism's Social Darwinist orientation are well aware of public policy's negative impact on their lives but they feel helpless to confront the social contract. According to opinion polls, people around the world realize there is a huge gap between what political and business leaders, and international organizations claim about institutions designed to benefit all people and the reality of marginalization. The result is loss of public confidence in the social contract theoretically rooted in consent and democracy. "When elected governments break the "representative covenant" and show complete indifference to the sufferings of citizens, when democracy is downgraded to an abstract set of rules and deprived of meaning for much of the citizenry, many will be inclined to regard democracy as a sham, to lose confidence in and withdraw their support for electoral institutions. Dissatisfaction with democracy now ranges from 40 percent in Peru and Bolivia to 59 percent in Brazil and 62 percent in Colombia. (Boron, "Democracy or Neoliberalism", http://bostonreview.net/archives/BR21.5/boron.html )

Not just in developing nations operating under authoritarian capitalist model to impose neoliberal policies, but in advanced countries people recognize that the bourgeois freedom, democracy and justice are predicated on income. Regardless of whether the regime operates under a pluralistic neoliberal regime or rightwing populist one, the former much more tolerant of diversity than the latter, the social contract goals are the same. In peoples' lives around the world social exploitation has risen under neoliberal policies whether imposed the nation-state, a larger entity such as the EU, or international organizations such as the IMF. Especially for the European and US middle class, but also for Latin American and African nations statistics show that the neoliberal social contract has widened the poor-rich gap.

In a world where the eight wealthiest individuals own as much wealth as the bottom 50% or 3.6 billion people, social exploitation and oppression has become normal because the mainstream institutions present it in such light to the world and castigate anyone critical of institutionalized exploitation and oppression. Rightwing populist demagogues use nationalism, cultural conservatism and vacuous rhetoric about the dangers of big capital and 'liberal elites' to keep the masses loyal to the social contract by faulting the pluralist-liberal politicians rather than the neoliberal social contract. As the neoliberal political economy has resulted in a steady rising income gap and downward social mobility in the past three decades, it is hardly surprising that a segment of the masses lines behind rightwing populist demagogues walking a thin line between bourgeois democracy and Fascism.

(Alan Wertheimer, Exploitation , 1999; Ruth J. Sample, Exploitation; What is it and why it is Wrong , 2003; http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/31/investing/wells-fargo-fake-accounts/index.html ; https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/5/14/1662227/-Was-suicide-of-Deutsche-Bank-executive-linked-to-Trump-and-Russia-money-laundering

Seizing power from sovereign states, multinational corporation are pursuing neoliberal policy objectives on a world scale, prompting resistance to the neoliberal social contract which rarely class-based and invariably identity-group oriented manifested through environmental, gender, race, ethnicity, gay, religious and minority groups of different sorts. Regardless of the relentless media campaign to suppress class consciousness, workers are aware that they have common interests and public opinion studies reveal as much. (Susan George, Shadow Sovereigns: How Global Corporations are seizing Power , 2015)

According to the Pew Research center, the world average for satisfaction with their governments are at 46%, the exact percentage as in the US that ranks about the same as South Africa and much lower than neighboring Canada at 70% and Sweden at 79%. " Publics around the globe are generally unhappy with the functioning of their nations' political systems. Across the 36 countries asked the question, a global median of 46% say they are very or somewhat satisfied with the way their democracy is working, compared with 52% who are not too or not at all satisfied. Levels of satisfaction vary considerably by region and within regions. Overall, people in the Asia-Pacific region are the most happy with their democracies. At least half in five of the six Asian nations where this question was asked express satisfaction. Only in South Korea is a majority unhappy (69%).

http://www.pewglobal.org/2017/10/16/many-unhappy-with-current-political-system/

As confounding as it appears that elements of the disillusioned middle class and working class opt either for the exploitation of pluralist neoliberalism or the exploitation and oppression of rightwing populism expressed somewhat differently in each country, it is not difficult to appreciate the immediacy of a person's concerns for survival like all other species above all else. The assumption of rational behavior in the pursuit of social justice is a bit too much to expect considering that people make irrational choices detrimental to their best interests and to society precisely because the dominant culture has thoroughly indoctrinated them. It seems absurd that indirectly people choose exploitation and oppression for themselves and others in society, but they always have as the dominant culture secular and religious indoctrinates them into accepting exploitation and oppression. (Shaheed Nick Mohammed, Communication and the Globalization of Culture , 2011)

Throughout Western and Eastern Europe rightwing political parties are experiencing a resurgence not seen since the interwar era, largely because the traditional conservatives moved so far to the right. Even the self-baptized Socialist parties are nothing more than staunch advocates of the same neoliberal status quo as the traditional conservatives. The US has also moved to the right long before the election of Donald Trump who openly espouses suppression of certain fundamental freedoms as an integral part of a pluralistic society. As much as in the US and Europe as in the rest of the world, analysts wonder how could any working class person champion demagogic political leaders whose vacuous populist rhetoric promises 'strong nation" for all but their policies benefit the same socioeconomic elites as the neoliberal politicians.(J. Rydgren (Ed.), Class Politics and the Radical Right , 2012)

Rooted onclassical liberal values of the Enlightenment, the political and social elites present a social contract that is theoretically all-inclusive and progressive, above all 'fair' because it permits freedom to compete, when in reality the social structure under which capitalism operates necessarily entails exploitation and oppression that makes marginalization very clear even to its staunchest advocates who then endeavor to justify it by advancing theories about individual human traits.

In 2012 the United States spent an estimated 19.4% of GDP on such social expenditures, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Paris-based industrial country think tank. Denmark spent 30.5%, Sweden 28.2% and Germany 26.3%. All of these nations have a lower central government debt to GDP ratio than that of the United States. Why the United States invests relatively less in its social safety net than many other countries and why those expenditures are even at risk in the current debate over debt reduction reflect Americans' conflicted, partisan and often contradictory views on fairness, inequality, the role and responsibility of government and individuals in society and the efficacy of government action. Rooted in value differences, not just policy differences, the debate over the U.S. social contract is likely to go on long after the fiscal cliff issue has been resolved." http://www.pewglobal.org/2013/01/15/public-attitudes-toward-the-next-social-contract/

The neoliberal model of capitalism spewing forth from core countries to the periphery and embraced by capitalists throughout the world has resulted in greater social inequality, exploitation and oppression, despite proclamations that by pluralist-diversity neoliberals presenting themselves as remaining true to 'democracy'. The tilt to the right endorsed at the ballot box by voters seeking solutions to systemic problems and a more hopeful future indicates that some people demand exclusion and/or punishment of minority social groups in society, as though the exploitation and oppression of 'the other' would vicariously elevate the rest of humanity to a higher plane. Although this marks a dangerous course toward authoritarianism and away from liberal capitalism and Karl Popper's 'Open Society' thesis operating in a pluralistic world against totalitarianism, it brings to surface the essence of neoliberalism which is totalitarian, the very enemy Popper and his neoconservative followers were allegedly trying to prevent. (Calvin Hayes, Popper, Hayek and the Open Society , 2009)

Social Exclusion, Popular Resistanceand the Future of Neoliberalism

Social Exclusion

Every sector of society from the criminal justice system to elderly care has been impacted by neoliberal social marginalization. More significant than any other aspect of neoliberalism, the creation of a chronic debtor classwithout any assets is floating a step above the structurally unemployed and underemployed.The Industrial revolution exacerbated social exclusion producing an underclass left to its own fate by a state that remained faithful to the social contract's laissez philosophy. Composed of vagrants, criminals, chronically unemployed, and people of the streets that British social researcher Henry Mayhew described in London Labour and the London Poor , a work published three years after the revolutions of 1848 that shattered the liberal foundations of Europe, the lumpenproletariat caught the attention of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels ( The German Ideology ) interested in the industrial working class movement as the vanguard of the revolution.

Lacking a class consciousness thus easily exploited by the elites the lumpenproletariat were a product of industrial capitalism's surplus labor that kept wages at or just above subsistence levels, long before European and American trade union struggles were able to secure a living wage.In the last four decades neoliberal policies have created a chronic debtor working class operating under the illusion of integration into the mainstream when in fact their debtor status not only entails social exclusion but relegated to perpetual servitude dependence and never climbing out of it. The neoliberal state is the catalyst to the creation of this new class. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-20/a-164-year-old-idea-helps-explain-the-huge-changes-sweeping-the-world-s-workforce

In an essay entitled "Labour Relations and Social Movements in the 21st Century"

Portuguese social scientists Elísio Estanque and Hermes Augusto Costa argue that the manner that neoliberalism has impacted Europe's social structure in both core and periphery countries has given rise to the new precarious working class, often college-degreed, overqualified, and struggling to secure steady employment especially amid recessionary cycles that last longer and run deeper.

"The panorama of a deep economic crisis which in the last few decades has hit Europe and its Welfare state in particular has had an unprecedented impact on employment and social policies. The neoliberal model and the effects of deregulated and global finance not only question the "European social model" but push sectors of the labour force – with the youngest and well-qualified being prominent – into unemployment or precarious jobs. the sociological and potential socio-political significance of these actionsparticularly as a result of the interconnections that such movements express, both in the sphere of the workplace and industrial system or whether with broader social structures, with special emphasis on the middle classes and the threats of 'proletarianization' that presently hang over them. labour relations of our time are crossed by precariousness and by a new and growing "precariat" which also gave rise to new social movements and new forms of activism and protest." http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/34149/InTech-Labour_relations_and_social_movements_in_the_21st_century.pdf

'Proletarization' of the declining middle class and downward income pressure for the working class and middle classhas been accompanied by the creation of a growing chronic debtor class in the Western World. Symptomatic of the neoliberal globalist world order, the creation of the debtor class and more broadly social exclusion transcends national borders, ethnicity, gender, culture, etc. Not just at the central government level, but at the regional and local levels, public policy faithfully mimics the neoliberal model resulting in greater social exclusion while there is an effort to convince people that there is no other path to progress although people were free to search; a dogma similar to clerical intercession as the path to spiritual salvation. http://www.isreview.org/issues/58/feat-economy.shtml

The neoliberal path to salvation has resulted in a staggering 40% of young adults living with relatives out of financial necessity. The number has never been greater at any time in modern US history since the Great Depression, and the situation is not very different for Europe. Burdened with debt, about half of the unemployed youth are unable to find work and most that work do so outside the field of their academic training. According to the OECD, youth unemployment in the US is not confined only to high school dropouts but includes college graduates. Not just across southern Europe and northern Africa, but in most countries the neoliberal economy of massive capital concentration has created a new lumpenproletariat that has no assets and carries debt. Owing to neoliberal policies, personal bankruptcies have risen sharply in the last four decades across the Western World reflecting the downward social mobility and deep impact on the chronically indebted during recessionary cycles. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/04/53-of-recent-college-grads-are-jobless-or-underemployed-how/256237/ ; https://www.cbsnews.com/news/for-young-americans-living-with-their-parents-is-now-the-norm/ ; Iain Ramsay, Personal Insolvency in the 21st Century: A Comparative Analysis of the US and Europe, 2017)

Historically, the safe assumption has been that higher education is the key to upward social mobility and financial security, regardless of cyclical economic trends. However, the laws of overproduction apply not only to commodities but to the labor force, especially as the information revolution continues to chip away at human labor. College education is hardly a guarantee to upward social mobility, but often a catalyst to descent into the debtor unemployed class,or minimum wage/seasonalpart time job or several such jobs. The fate of the college-educated falling into the chronic debtor class is part of a much larger framework, namely the 'financialization' of the economy that is at the core of neoliberalism. ( Vik Loveday, "Working-class participation, middle-class aspiration? Value, upward mobility and symbolic indebtedness in higher education."The Sociological Review , September 2014) Beyond the simplisticsuggestion of 'more training' to keep up with tech changes, the root cause of social exclusion and the chronic debtor class revolves around the 'financialization' of the neoliberal globalist economy around which central banks make monetary policy. Since the beginning of the Thatcher-Reagan era, advanced capitalist countries led by the US conducted policy to promote the centrality of financial markets as the core of the economy. This entails resting more on showing quarterly profit even at the expense of taking on debt, lower productivity and long-term sustainability, or even breaking a company apart and dismissing workers because it would add shareholder value. Therefore, the short-term financial motives and projection of market performance carry far more weight than any other consideration.

Symptomatic of a combination of deregulation and the evolution of capitalism especially in core countries from productive to speculative, financialization has transformed the world economy. Enterprises from insurance companies to brokerage firms and banks like Goldman Sachs involved in legal and quasi-legal practices, everything from the derivatives market to helping convert a country's sovereign debt into a surplus while making hefty profits has been part of the financialization economy that speeds up capital concentration and creates a wider rich-poor gap. Housing, health, pension systems, health care and personal consumption are all impacted by financialization that concentrates capital through speculation rather than producing anything from capital goods to consumer products and services. (Costas Lapavitsas, The Financialization of Capitalism: 'Profiting without producing' http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13604813.2013.853865

Billionaire speculator George Soros has observed that market speculation not only drives prices higher, especially of commodities on a world scale, but the inevitability of built-in booms and busts are disruptive simply because a small group of people have secured a legal means for capital accumulation. At the outbreak of the US stock market collapse followed by the 'great recession' of 2008, the European Network and Debt and Development (EURODAD) published an article critical of financialization and its impact on world hunger.

"Do you enjoy rising prices? Everybody talks about commodities – with the Agriculture Euro Fund you can benefit from the increase in value of the seven most important agricultural commodities." With this advertisement the Deutsche Bankt tried in spring 2008 to attract clients for one of its investment funds. At the same time, there were hunger revolts in Haiti, Cameroon and other developing countries, because many poor could no longer pay the exploding food prices. In fact, between the end of 2006 and March 2008 the prices for the seven most important commodities went up by 71 per cent on average, for rice and grain the increase was 126 per cent. The poor are most hit by the hike in prices. Whereas households in industrialised countries spend 10 -20 per cent for food, in low-income countries they spend 60 – 80 per cent. As a result, the World Bank forecasts an increase in the number of people falling below the absolute poverty line by more than 100 million. Furthermore, the price explosion has negative macroeconomic effects: deterioration of the balance of payment, fuelling inflation and new debt." http://eurodad.org/uploadedfiles/whats_new/news/food%20speculation%202%20pager%20final.pdf

Someone has to pay for the speculative nature of financialization, and the labor force in all countries is the first to do so through higher indirect taxes, cuts in social programs and jobs and wages for the sake of stock performance. Stock markets around which public policy is conducted have eroded the real economy while molding a culture of financialization of the last two generations a large percentage of which has been swimming in personal debt reflecting the debt-ridden financialization economy. Contrary to claims by politicians, business leaders and the media that the neoliberal system of financialization is all about creating jobs and helping to diffuse income to the middle class and workers, the only goal of financialization is wealth concentration while a larger debtor class and social marginalization are the inevitable results. It is hardly surprising that people world-wide believe the political economy is rigged by the privileged class to maintain its status and the political class is the facilitator. http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/41359-financialization-has-turned-the-global-economy-into-a-house-of-cards-an-interview-with-gerald-epstein ; Costas Lapavitsa, Financialization in Crisis, 2013; Rona Foroohar, Makers and Takers: How Wall Street Destroyed Main Street , 2016)

Despite efforts by pluralist and populist neoliberals throughout the world to use 'culture wars' and identity politics as distractionwhile deemphasizing the role of the state as the catalyst in the neoliberal social contract, the contradictions that the political economy exposes the truth about the socially unjustsociety that marginalizes the uneducated poor and college-educated indebted alike.Not to deemphasize the significance of global power distribution based on the Westphalian nation-state model and regional blocs such as the European Union, but neoliberals are the ones who insist on the obsolete nation-state that the international market transcends, thus acknowledging the preeminence of capitalism in the social contract and the subordination of national sovereignty to international capital and financialization of the economy. After all, the multinational corporation operating in different countries is accountable only to its stockholders, not to the nation-state whose role is to advance corporate interests.

No matter how rightwing populists try to distract people from the real cause of social exclusion and marginalization by focusing onnationalist rhetoric, marginalized social groups and Muslim or Mexican legal or illegal immigrantshave no voice in public policy but financialization speculators do. In an article entitled "The Politics of Public Debt: Neoliberalism, capitalist development, and the restructuring of the state", Wolfgang Streeck concludes that neoliberalism's systemic rewards provide a disincentive for capitalists to abandon financialization in favor of productivity. "Why should the new oligarchs be interested in their countries' future productive capacities and present democratic stability if, apparently, they can be rich without it, processing back and forth the synthetic money produced for them at no cost by a central bank for which the sky is the limit, at each stage diverting from it hefty fees and unprecedented salaries, bonuses and profits as long as it is forthcoming -- and then leave their country to its remaining devices and withdraw to some privately owned island?

http://www.publicseminar.org/2014/02/the-politics-of-public-debt/

An important difference between pluralists and rightwing populists in their approach to the state's role is that the former advocate for a strong legislative branch and weaker executive, while rightwing populists want a strong executive and weak legislative. However, both political camps agree about advancing market hegemony nationally and internationally and both support policies that benefit international and domestic capital, thus facilitating the convergence of capitalist class interests across national borders with the symptomatic results of social exclusion. ( http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016718508000924 ; Vicente Navarro, "The Worldwide Class Struggle" https://monthlyreview.org/2006/09/01/the-worldwide-class-struggle/

Regardless of vacuous rhetoric about a weak state resulting from neoliberal policies, the state in core countries where financialization prevailshas been and remains the catalyst for class hegemony as has been the case since the nascent stage of capitalism. Both Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan strengthened the corporate welfare state while openly declaring war against trade unions and by extension on the working class that neoliberals demonize as the enemy of economic progress. As statistics below illustrate, the debtor class expanded rapidly after 1980 when the financialization economy took off, reaching its highest point after the subprime-induced great recession in 2008. Under neoliberal globalist policies, governments around the world followed theReagan-Thatcher model to facilitate over-accumulation of capital in the name of competition. (Montgomerie Johnna, Neoliberalism and the Making of the Subprime Borrower , 2010)

Whether the state is promoting neoliberal policies under a pluralist or authoritarian models, the neoliberal culture has designated labor as the unspoken enemy, especially organized labor regardless of whether the ruling parties have co-opted trade unions. In the struggle for capital accumulation under parasitic financialization policies, the state's view of labor as the enemy makes social conflict inevitable despite the obvious contradiction that the 'enemy-worker' is both the mass consumer on whom the economy depends for expansion and development. Despite this contradiction, neoliberals from firms such as Goldman Sachs has many of its former executives not just in top positions of the US government but world-wide, no matter who is in power. Neoliberal policy resulting in social exclusion starts with international finance capitalism hiding behind the pluralist and rightwing populist masks of politicians desperately vying for power to conduct public policy.

https://www.investopedia.com/news/26-goldman-sachs-alumni-who-run-world-gs/

Just as the serfs were aware in the Middle Ages that Lords and Bishops determined the fate of all down here on earth before God in Heaven had the last word, people today realize the ubiquitous power of capitalists operating behind the scenes, and in some case as with Trump in the forefront of public-policy that results in social exclusion and rising inequality in the name of market fundamentalism promising to deliver the benefits to all people. Neoliberalism has created a chronicdebtor class that became larger after the 2008 recession and will continue growing with each economic contracting cycle in decades to come. Despite its efforts to keep one step ahead of bankruptcy, the identity of the new chronic debtor class rests with the neoliberal status quo, often with the rightwing populist camp that makes rhetorical overtures to the frustrated working classthat realize financialization benefits a small percentage of wealthy individuals.

Personal debt has skyrocketed, reaching $12.58 trillion in the US in 2016, or 80% of GDP. The irony is that the personal debt level is 2016 was the highest since the great recession of 2008 and it is expected to continue much higher, despite the economic recovery and low unemployment. Wage stagnation and higher costs of health, housing and education combined with higher direct and indirect taxes to keep public debt at manageable levels will continue to drive more people into the debtor class. Although some European countries such as Germany and France have lower household debt relative to GDP, all advanced and many developing nations have experienced a sharp rise in personal debt because of deregulation, privatization, and lower taxes on the wealthy with the burden falling on the mass consumer. Hence the creation of a permanent debtor class whose fortunes rest on maintaining steady employment and/or additional part-time employment to meet loan obligations and keep one step ahead of declaring bankruptcy. Austerity policies imposed either by the government through tight credit in advanced capitalist countries or IMF loan conditionality in developing and semi-developed nations the result in either case is lower living standards and a rising debtor class. http://fortune.com/2017/02/19/america-debt-financial-crisis-bubble/

Maurizio Lazzarato's The Making of the Indebted Man: An Essay on the Neoliberal Condition argues that neoliberalism has created a debtor-creditorrelationship which has supplanted the worker-capitalist dichotomy, an argument that others focusing on the financialization of the economy have made as well. Although in Keynesian economics public and private debt was a stimulant for capitalist growth amid the contracting cycle of the economy, the neoliberal era created the permanent chronic debtor class that finds it difficult to extricate itself from that status. Evident after the deep recession of the subprime-financialization-induced recession in 2008, this issue attracted the attention of some politicians and political observers who realized theconvergence of the widening debtor class with the corresponding widening of the rich-poor income gap.

By making both private and public debt, an integral part of the means of production, the neoliberal system has reshaped social life and social relationships because the entire world economy is debt-based. Servicing loans entails lower living standards for the working class in advanced capitalist countries, and even lower in the rest of the world, but it also means integrating the debtor into the system more closely than at any time in history. While it is true that throughout the history of civilization human beings from China and India to Europe have used various systems of credit to transact business (David Graeber, Debt: the First 5000 Years , 2014), no one would suggest reverting back to debt-slavery as part of the social structure. Yet, neoliberalism has created the 'indebted man' as part of a policythat has resulted in social asymmetrical power,aiming to speed up capital accumulation and maintain market hegemony in society while generating greater social exclusion. https://marxandphilosophy.org.uk/reviewofbooks/reviews/2013/87E0

Ever since the British Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in 1807, followed by a number of other European governments in the early 1800s, there was an assumption that slave labor is inconsistent with free labor markets as well as with the liberal social contract rooted in individual freedom. Nevertheless, at the core of neoliberal capitalismUS consumer debt as of October 2017 stood at $3.8 trillion in a 419 trillion economy. Debt-to-personal income ratio is at 160%; college student debt runs at approximately $1.5 trillion, with most of that since 2000; mortgage debt has tripled since 1955, with an alarming 8 million people delinquent on their payments and the foreclosure rate hovering at 4.5% or three times higher than postwar average; consumer debt has risen 1,700 since 1971 to above $1 trillion, and roughly half of Americans are carrying monthly credit debt with an average rate of 14%. The debt problem is hardly better for Europe where a number of countries have a much higher personal debt per capita than the US.In addition to personal debt, public debt has become a burden on the working class in so far as neoliberal politicians and the IMF are using as a pretext to impose austerity conditions, cut entitlements and social programs amid diminished purchasing power because of inflationary asset values and higher taxes. https://www.thebalance.com/consumer-debt-statistics-causes-and-impact-3305704 ; https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/17/business/dealbook/household-debt-united-states.html

While personal debt is often but not always a reflection of a consumerist society, personal debt encompasses everything from education to health care costs in times when the digital/artificial intelligence economy is creating a surplus labor force that results in work instability and asymmetrical social relations. Technology-automation-induced unemployment driving down living standards creates debtor-workers chasing the technology to keep up with debt payments in order to survive until the next payment is due. Considering the financial system backed by a legal framework is established to favor creditors, especially given the safeguards and protections accorded to creditors in the past four decades, there are many blatant and overt ways that the state uses to criminalize poverty and debt. In 2015, for example, Montana became the first state not to take the driver's license of those delinquent on their student debt, thus decriminalizing debt in this one aspect, though hardly addressing the larger issue of the underlying causes of debt and social exclusion. https://academiccommons.columbia.edu/catalog/ac:4b8gtht779 ; https://lumpenproletariat.org/tag/neoliberalism/

In an article entitled "Torturing the Poor, German-Style" , Thomas Klikauer stressed that the weakening of the social welfare state took place under the Social Democratic Party (SPD)-Green Party coalition (1998-2005) government pursuing pluralist neoliberal policies. Although historically the SPD had forged a compromise that would permit for the social inclusion of labor into the institutional mainstream, by the 1990s, theSPD once rooted in socialism had fully embraced neoliberalism just as the British Labour Party and all socialist partiers of Europe pursuing social exclusion. Klilauer writes: "Germany's chancellor [Gerhard] Schröder (SPD) –known as the "Comrade of the Bosses"– no longer sought to integrate labour into capitalism, at least not the Lumpenproletariat or precariate . These sections of society are now deliberately driven into mass poverty, joining the growing number of working poor on a scale not seen in Germany perhaps since the 1930s." https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/20/torturing-the-poor-german-style/

No different than working class people in other countries need more than one job to keep up with debt and living expenses, so do three million Germans (rising from 150,000 in 2003) that have the privilege of living in Europe's richest nation. Just as the number of the working poor has been rising in Germany, so have they across the Western World. Social exclusion and the expansion of the debtor class in Germany manifested itself in the national elections of 2017 where for the first time since the interwar era a political party carrying the legacy of Nazism, the Alternative fur Deutchland (AfD), founded by elite ultra-conservatives, captured 13% of the vote to become third-largest party and giving a voice of neo-Nazis who default society's neoliberal ills to Muslims and immigrants. Rejecting the link between market fundamentalism that both the SPD and German conservatives pursued in the last three decades, neoliberal apologists insist that the AfD merely reflects a Western-wide anti-Muslim trend unrelated to social exclusion and the policies that have led to Germany's new lumpenproletariat and working poor. https://crimethinc.com/2017/10/01/the-rise-of-neo-fascism-in-germany-alternative-fur-deutschland-enters-the-parliament ; https://www.jku.at/icae/content/e319783/e319785/e328125/wp59_ger.pdf

Interestingly, US neoliberal policies also go hand-in-hand with Islamophobia and the war on terror under both Democrat and Republican administrations, although the pluralist-diversity neoliberals have been more careful to maintain a politically-correct rhetoric. Just as in Germany and the rest of Europe, there is a direct correlation in the US between the rise in social exclusion ofMuslim and non-Muslim immigrants and minorities and the growing trend of rightwing populism. There is no empirical foundationto arguments that rightwing populism whether in Germany or the US has no historical roots and it is unconnected both to domestic and foreign policies. Although the neoliberal framework in which rightwing populism operates and which creates social exclusion and the new chronic debtor class clashes with neoliberal pluralism that presents itself as democratic, structural exploitation is built into the social contract thus generating grassroots opposition.

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/newsplus/neoliberal-policies-go-hand-in-hand-with-social-exclusion/

Grassroots Resistance to Neoliberalism

Even before the great recession of 2008, there were a number of grassrootsgroups against neoliberal globalism both in advanced and developing nations. Some found expression in social media, others at the local level focused on the impact of neoliberal policies in the local community, and still others attempted to alter public policy through cooperation with state entities and/or international organizations. The most important anti-neoliberal grassroots organizations have been in Brazil ( Homeless Workers' Movement and Landless Workers' Movement), South Africa (Abahlali baseMjondolo, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, Landless Peoples' Movement), Mexico (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), Haiti (Fanmi Lavalas) and India (Narmada Bachao Andolan).

The vast majority of organizations claiming to be fighting against neoliberal policies are appendages either of the pluralist or the rightwing populist political camp both whose goal is to co-opt the masses as part of their popular base. The anti-globalization movement and by implication anti-neoliberal includes elements from the entire political spectrum from left to ultra-right. From India, to Bangladesh, from South Africa to Brazil, and from the US, France, and the UK, working class resistance to neoliberal globalism has been directly or indirectly co-opted and often de-politicized by corporate-funded or government-funded NGOs and by 'reformist' local and international organizations.

https://ssir.org/articles/entry/a_neoliberal_takeover_of_social_entrepreneurship ; http://anticsr.com/ngos-csr/

By promoting measures invariably in the lifestyle domain but also some social welfare and civil rights issues such as women's rights, renter's rights, etc, the goals of organizations operating within the neoliberal structure is not social inclusion by altering the social contract, but sustaining the status quo by eliminating popular opposition through co-optation. It is hardly a coincidence that the rise of the thousands of NGOs coincided with the rise of neoliberalism in the 1990s, most operating under the guise of aiding the poor, protecting human rights and the environment, and safeguarding individualism. Well-funded by corporations, corporate foundations and governments, NGOs are the equivalent of the 19 th century missionaries, using their position as ideological preparatory work for Western-imposed neoliberal policies. http://socialistreview.org.uk/310/friends-poor-or-neo-liberalism ; https://zeroanthropology.net/2014/08/28/civil-society-ngos-and-saving-the-needy-imperial-neoliberalism/

On the receiving end of corporate and/or government-funded NGOs promoting the neoliberal agenda globally, some leading grassroots movements that advocate changing the neoliberal status quo contend that it is better to 'win' on a single issue such as gay rights, abortion, higher minimum wage, etc. at the cost of co-optation into neoliberal system than to have nothing at all looking in from the outside. Their assumption is that social exclusion can be mitigated one issue at a time through reform from within the neoliberal institutional structure that grassroots organizations deem as the enemy. This is exactly what the pluralist neoliberals are promoting as well to co-opt grassroots opposition groups.

https://ecpr.eu/Events/PaperDetails.aspx?PaperID=34958&EventID=96

Partly because governmental and non-governmental organizations posing as reformist have successfully co-opted grassroots movements often incorporating them into the neoliberal popular base, popular resistance has not been successful despite social media and cell phones that permit instant communication. This was certainly the case with the Arab Spring uprisings across North Africa-Middle East where genuine popular opposition to neoliberal policies of privatization, deregulation impacting everything from health care toliberalizing rent controls led to the uprising. In collaboration with the indigenous capitalists, political and military elites, Western governments directly and through NGOs were able to subvert and then revert to neoliberal policies once post-Arab Spring regimes took power in the name of 'reform' invariably equated with neoliberal policies. https://rs21.org.uk/2014/10/06/adam-hanieh-on-the-gulf-states-neoliberalism-and-liberation-in-the-middle-east/

In "Dying for Growth: Global Inequality and the Health of the Poor" Jim Yong Kim ed., 2000) contributing authors illustrate in case studies of several countries how the neoliberal status quo has diminished the welfare of billions of people in developing nations for the sake of growth that simply translates into even greater wealth concentration and misery for the world's poor. According to the study: "100 countries have undergone grave economic decline over the past three decades. Per capita income in these 100 countries is now lower than it was 10, 15, 20 or in some cases even 30 years ago. In Africa, the average household consumes 20 percent less today than it did 25 years ago. Worldwide, more than 1 billion people saw their real incomes fall during the period 1980-1993." http://www.mit.edu/~thistle/v13/2/imf.html

Anti-neoliberal groups assume different forms, depending on the nation's history, social and political elites, the nature of institutions and the degree it has been impacted by neoliberal policies that deregulate and eliminate as much of the social safety net as workers will tolerate. Even the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) that experienced rapid growth from the early 1990s until the great recession of 2008 have not escaped mass opposition to neoliberalism precisely because the impact on workers and peasants has been largely negative. https://www.cpim.org/views/quarter-century-neo-liberal-economic-policies-unending-distress-and-peasant-resistance ; Juan Pablo Ferrero, Democracy against Neoliberalism in Argentina and Brazil, 2014; Mimi Abramovitz and Jennifer Zelnick, " Double Jeopardy: The Impact of Neoliberalism on Care Workers in the United States and South Africa" , http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.2190/HS.40.1.f

Grassroots organizations opposed to policies that further integrate their countries into the world economy and marginalize the working class have been especially persistent in South Africa, Brazil, and India. To assuage if not co-opt the masses the BRICS followed a policy mix that combines neoliberalism, aspects of social welfare and statism. Combined with geopolitical opposition to US-NATO militarism and interventionism, the BRICS policies were an attempt to keep not just the national bourgeois loyal but the broader masses by projecting a commitment to national sovereignty.

In Brazil, India and South Africa internal and external corporate pressure along with US, EU, and IMF-World Bank pressures have been especially evident to embrace neoliberal policies and confront grassroots opposition rather than co-opt it at the cost of making concessions to labor. Considering that the development policies of the BRICS in the last three decades of neoliberal globalism accommodated domestic and foreign capital and were not geared to advance living standards for the broader working class and peasantry, grassroots opposition especially in Brazil, India and South Africa where the state structure is not nearly as powerful as in Russia and China manifested itself in various organizations.

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=12129 ; Walden Bello, The BRICS: Challenges to the Global Status Quo" , in https://www.thenation.com/article/brics-challengers-global-status-quo/

One of the grassroots organizations managing to keep its autonomy is Brazil's Landless Workers Movement (MST)skillfully remaining independent of both former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff. Although the MST supported some policies of theformer presidents who presented themselves as champions of labor rather than capital, both Lula and Rousseff made substantial policy compromises with the neoliberal camp and were eventually implicated in corruption scandals revealing opportunism behind policy-making. While the record of their policies on the poor speaks for itself, the Lula-Rousseff era of Partido dos Trabalhadores was an improvement over previous neoliberal president Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2003). https://monthlyreview.org/2017/02/01/the-brazilian-crisis/

The MST persisted with the struggle against neoliberal policies that have contributed to rising GDP heavily concentrated among the national and comprador bourgeoisie and foreign corporations. Other Latin American grassroots movements have had mixed results not much better than those in Brazil. Ecuador under president Rafael Correa tried to co-opt the leftby yielding on some policy issues as did Lula and Rousseff, while pursuing a neoliberal development model as much as his Brazilian counterparts. With its economy thoroughly integrated into the US economy, Mexico is a rather unique case where grassroots movements against neoliberalism are intertwined with the struggle against official corruption and the narco-trade resulting in the assassination of anti-neoliberal, anti-drug activists. (William Aviles, The Drug War in Mexico: Hegemony and Global Capitalism ;

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/231966134_Grassroots_Movements_and_Political_Activism_in_Latin_America_A_Critical_Comparison_of_Chile_and_Brazil ;

Anti-neoliberal resistance in the advanced countries has not manifested itself as it has in the developing nations through leftist movements such as South Africa's Abahlali baseMjondolo or Latin American trade unions that stress a working class philosophy of needs rather than the one of rights linked to middle class property and identity politics. https://roarmag.org/essays/south-africa-marikana-anc-poor/ Popular resistance to neoliberalism in the US has been part of the anti-globalization movement that includes various groups from environmentalists to anti-IMF-World Bank and anti-militarism groups.

Although there are some locally based groups like East Harlem-based Justice in El Barrio representing immigrants and low-income people, there is no national anti-neoliberal movement. Perhaps because of the war on terror, various anti-establishment pro-social justice groups assumed the form of bourgeois identity politics of both the Democratic Party and the Republican where some of the leaders use rightwing populism as an ideological means to push through neoliberal policies while containing grassroots anger resulting from social exclusion and institutional exploitation. https://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/the-legacy-of-anti-globalization

Black Lives Matter revolving around the systemic racism issue and Occupy Wall Street anti-capitalist group fell within the left orbit of the Democratic Party (Senator Bernie Sanders) who is an advocate of the pluralist-diversity model, opposes market fundamentalism,and proposes maintaining some vestiges of the Keynesian welfare state. With the exception of isolated voices by a handful of academics and some criticsusing social media as a platform, there is no anti-neoliberal grassroots movement that Democrats or Republicans has not successfully co-opted. Those refusing to be co-opted are invariably dismissed as everything from idealists to obstructionists. Certainlythere is nothing in the US like the anti-neoliberal groups in Brazil, India, Mexico, or South Africa operating autonomously and resisting co-optation by political parties. The absence of such movements in the US is a testament to the strong state structure andthe institutional power of the elites in comparison with many developing nations and even some parts of Europe. https://www.salon.com/2015/08/15/black_lives_matter_joins_a_long_line_of_protest_movements_that_have_shifted_public_opinion_most_recently_occupy_wall_street/

As an integrated economic bloc, Europe follows uniform neoliberal policies using as leverage monetary and trade policy but also the considerable EU budget at its disposal for subsidies and development. A number of European trade unions and leftist popular groups fell into the trap of following either Socialist or centrist parties which are pluralist neoliberal and defend some remnants of Keynesianism. Those disillusioned with mainstream Socialist Parties pursue the same neoliberal policies of social exclusion as the conservatives fell in line behind newly formed non-Communist reformist parties (PODEMOS in Spain, SYRIZA in Greece, for example) with a Keynesian platform and socialist rhetoric.

As the government of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras proved once in power in 2015, self-baptized 'leftist' parties areleftist in rhetoric only. When it comes to policy they are as neoliberal as the opposition they criticize; even more dangerous because they have deceived people to support them as the alternative to neoliberal conservatives. Because grassroots movements andthe popular base of political parties that promise 'reform' to benefit the masses are co-opted by centrists, center-left or rightwing political parties, social exclusion becomes exacerbated leading to disillusionment.

Consequently,people hoping for meaningful change become apathetic or they become angry and more radicalized often turning to rightwing political parties. Although there is a long-standing history of mainstream political parties co-opting grassroots movements, under neoliberalism the goal is to shape them intoan identity politics mold under the pluralist or rightwing populist camp. Behind the illusion of choice and layers of bourgeois issues ranging from property rights and individual rights rests a totalitarian system whose goal is popular compliance. https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/eliane-glaser/elites-right-wing-populism-and-left ;

http://www.inclusivedemocracy.org/journal/vol11/vol11_no1_Left_mythology_and_neoliberal_globalization_Syriza_and_Podemos.html

'De-democratization' under Neoliberalism

More subtly and stealthily interwoven into the institutional structure than totalitarian regimes of the interwar era, neoliberal totalitarianism has succeeded not because of the rightwing populist political camp but because of the pluralist one that supports both militarism in foreign affairs and police-state methods at home as a means of maintaining the social order while projecting the façade of democracy. Whereas the neoliberal surveillance state retains vestiges of pluralism and the façade of electoral choice, the police state in interwar Germany and Italy pursued blatant persecution of declared ideological dogmatism targeting 'enemies of the state' and demanding complete subjugation of citizens to theregime. Just as people were manipulated in interwar Europeinto accepting the totalitarian state as desirable and natural, so are many in our time misguided into supporting neoliberal totalitarianism.

In her book entitled Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution (2015), Wendy Brown argues that not just in the public sector, but in every sector of society neoliberal ideology of 'de-democratization' prevails. Extensions of a hierarchical economic system rather than citizens with civil and human rights guaranteed by a social contract aimed at the welfare of the collective, human beings are more commoditized today than they were in the nascent phase of industrial capitalism. The kind of ubiquitous transformation of the individual's identity with the superstructure and the 'de-democratization' of society operating under massively concentrated wealth institutionally intertwined with political power in our contemporary erawas evident in totalitarian countries during the interwar era.

Whereas protest and resistance, freedom of expression and assembly were not permitted by totalitarian regimes in interwar Europe, they are permitted in our time. However, they are so marginalized and/or demonized when analyzing critically mainstream institutions and the social contract under which they operate that they are the stigmatizedas illegitimate opposition. Permitting freedom of speech and assembly, along with due process and electoral politicsbest servesneoliberal socioeconomic totalitarianism because its apologists can claim the system operates in an 'open society'; a term that Karl Popper the ideological father of neo-conservatism coined to differentiate the West from the former Communist bloc closed societies.

As Italian journalist Claudio Hallo put it: "If the core of neoliberalism is a natural fact, as suggested by the ideology already embedded deep within our collective psyche, who can change it? Can you live without breathing, or stop the succession of days and nights? This is why Western democracy chooses among the many masks behind which is essentially the same liberal party. Change is not forbidden, change is impossible. Some consider this feature to be an insidious form of invisible totalitarianism. " https://www.rt.com/op-edge/171240-global-totalitarianism-change-neoliberalism/

Post-modern consumerist culture has inculcated into peoples' minds that they have never been so free yet they have never felt so helpless, as Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman has commented. Freedom is quantitatively measured based on materialist criteria at the individual rather than collective level and at a cost not just to the rest of society but to one's humanity and any sense of social responsibility sacrificed in the quest for atomistic pursuit.Not only the media, but government at all levels, educational institutions and the private sector incessantly reinforce the illusion of individual freedom within the context of the neoliberal totalitarian institutional structure. This is a sacred value above all others, including knowledge, creativity, and the welfare of society as a whole (public interest supplanted by private profit), as though each individual lives alone on her/his planet. https://thehumanist.com/magazine/march-april-2015/arts_entertainment/what-about-me-the-struggle-for-identity-in-a-market-based-society ; https://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/04/american-nightmare-the-depravity-of-neoliberalism/ ; https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/29/neoliberalism-economic-system-ethics-personality-psychopathicsthic ; https://www.academia.edu/28509196/Neoliberal_Illusions_of_Freedom

In an essay entitled "The unholy alliance of neoliberalism and postmodernism" , Hans van Zon argues that as the Western World'sdominant ideologies since the 1980s, "undermine the immune system of society, neoliberalism by commercialization of even the most sacred domains and postmodernism by its super-relativism and refusal to recognize any hierarchy in value or belief systems." http://www.imavo.be/vmt/13214-van%20Zon%20postmodernism.pdf . Beyond undermining society's immune system and the open society under capitalism, asHans van Zon contends, the convergence of these ideologies have contributed to the 'de-democratization' of society,the creation of illiberal institutions and collective consciousness of conformity to neoliberal totalitarianism. The success of neoliberalism inculcated into the collective consciousness is partly because of the long-standing East-West confrontation followed by the manufactured war on terror. However, it is also true that neoliberal apologists of both the pluralist and rightwing camp present the social contract as transcending politics because markets are above states, above society as 'objective' thus they can best determine the social good on the basis of commoditized value. (Joshua Ramsay, "Neoliberalism as Political Theology of Chance: the politics of divination." https://www.nature.com/articles/palcomms201539

An evolutionary course, the 'de-democratization' of society started in postwar US that imposed transformation policy on the world with the goal of maintaining its economic, political, military and cultural superpower hegemony justified in the name of anti-Communism. Transformation policy was at the root of the diffusion of the de-democratization process under neoliberalism, despite the European origin of the ideology. As it gradually regained its status in the core of the world economy after the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957, northwest Europe followed in the path of the US. http://www.eurstrat.eu/the-european-neoliberal-union/

Ten years before the Treaty of Rome that created the EEC,Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek gathered a number of scholars in Mont Pelerin where they founded the neoliberal society named after the Swiss village. They discussed strategies of influencing public policy intended to efface the Keynesian model on which many societies were reorganized to survive the Great Depression. Financed by some of Europe's wealthiest families, the Mont Pelerin Society grew of immense importance after its first meeting which coincided with the anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act, the Truman Doctrine formalizing the institutionalization of the Cold War, and the Marshall Plan intended to reintegrate Europe and its colonies and spheres of influence under the aegis of the US. Helped along by the IMF, World Bank, and the International Agreement on Tariffs and Trade established in 1947, US transformation policy was designed to shape the world to its own geopolitical and economic advantage based on a neo-classical macroeconomic and financial theoretical model on which neoliberal ideology rested. http://fpif.org/from_keynesianism_to_neoliberalism_shifting_paradigms_in_economics/

Considering that millionaires and billionaires providefunding for the Mont Pelerin Society and affiliates, this prototype neoliberal think tank became the intellectual pillar of both the pluralist and rightwing neoliberal camps by working with 460 think tanks that have organizations in 96 countries where they influence both centrist and rightwing political parties. Whether Hillary Clinton's and Emmanuel Macron's pluralist neoliberal globalist version or Donald Trump's and Narendra Modi's rightwing populist one, the Mont Pelerin Society and others sharing its ideology and goals exercise preeminent policy influence not on the merit of its ideas for the welfare of society but because the richest people from rightwing Czech billionaire Andrej Babisto liberal pluralist billionaireseither support its principles and benefit from their implementation into policy. (J. Peterson, Revoking the Moral Order: The Ideology of Positivism and the Vienna Circle , 1999; https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/09/rise-of-the-davos-class-sealed-americas-fate

If the neoliberal social contract is the answer to peoples' prayers world-wide as Hayek's followers insist, why is there a need on the part of the state, international organizations including UN agencies, billionaire and millionaire-funded think tanks, educational institutions and the corporate and state-owned media to convince the public that there is nothing better for society than massive capital concentration and social exclusion, and social conditions that in some respects resemble servitude in Medieval Europe? Why do ultra-rightwing Koch brothers and the Mercer family, among other billionaires and millionaires fromNorth America, Europe, India, South Korea and Latin America spend so much money to inculcate the neoliberal ideology into the collective consciousness andto persuade the public to elect neoliberal politicians either of the pluralist camp or the authoritarian one?

http://www.businessinsider.com/michael-bloomberg-forbes-rupert-murdoch-billionaires-2011-3 ; https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/01/no-one-knows-what-the-powerful-mercers-really-want/514529/

Seventy years after Hayek formed the Mont Leperin Societyto promotea future without totalitarianism, there are elected neoliberal politicians from both the pluralist and authoritarian camps with ties to big capital and organized crime amid the blurring lines between legal and illegal economic activities that encompasses everything from crypto-currency and insider trading to offshore 'shell corporations' and banks laundering money for drug lords and wealthy tax evaders. Surrender of popular sovereignty through the social contract now entails surrender to a class of people who are criminals, not only based on a social justice criteria but on existing law if it were only applied to them as it does to petty thieves. In the amoral Machiavellian world of legalized "criminal virtue" in which we live these are the leaders of society.Indicative of the perversion of values now rooted in atomism and greed, the media reports with glowingly admiring terms that in 2017 the world's 500 richest people became richer by $1 trillion, a rise that represents one-third of Africa's GDP and just under one-fifth of Latin America's. Rather than condemning mal-distribution ofincome considering what it entails for society, the media and many in the business of propagating for neoliberalism applaud appropriation within the legal framework of the social contract as a virtue. http://www.hindustantimes.com/business-news/500-richest-people-became-1-trillion-richer-in-2017-mukesh-ambani-tops-indian-list/story-JcNXhH9cCp2pzRopkoFdfL.html ; Bob Brecher, "Neoliberalism and its Threat to Moral Agency" in Virtue and Economy . ed. Andrius Bielskis and Kelvin Knight, 2015)

Neoliberalism has led to the greater legitimization of activities that would otherwise be illegal to the degree that the lines between the legitimate economy and organized criminal activity are blurred reflecting the flexible lines between legally-financed millionaire-backed elected officials and those with links to organized crime or to illegal campaign contributions always carrying an illegal quid-pro-quo legalized through public policy. Beyond the usual tax-haven suspects Panama, Cyprus, Bermuda, Malta, Luxemburg, among othersincluding states such as Nevada and Wyoming, leaders from former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to President Donald Trump with reputed ties to organized criminal networks have benefited from the neoliberal regime that they served. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/254953831_Economic_Crime_and_Neoliberal_Modes_of_Government_The_Example_of_the_Mediterranean )

Self-righteous pluralist neoliberals castigate rightwing billionaires for funding rightwing politicians. However, there is silence when it comes to the millions amassed by pluralist neoliberals as the infamous "Panama Papers" revealed in 2016. Despite the institutionalized kleptocracy, the mediahas indoctrinated the public to accept as 'normal' the converging interests of the capitalist class and ruling political class just as it has indoctrinated the public to accept social exclusion, social inequality, and poverty as natural and democratic; all part of the social contract.( http://revistes.uab.cat/tdevorado/article/view/v2-n1-armao ; Jose Manuel Sanchez Bermudez, The Neoliberal Pattern of Domination: Capital's Reign in Decline, 2012; https://www.globalresearch.ca/neoliberalisms-world-of-corruption-money-laundering-corporate-lobbying-drug-money/5519907

The Future of Neoliberalism

After the great recession of 2008, the future of neoliberalism became the subject of debate among politicians, journalists and academics. One school of thought was that the great recession had exposed the flaws in neoliberalism thus marking the beginning of its demise. The years since 2008 proved that in a twist of irony, the quasi-statist policies of China with its phenomenal growth have actually been responsible for sustaining neoliberalism globally and not just because China has been financing US public debt by buying treasuries while the US buys products made in China. This view holds that neoliberalism will continue to thrive so as long as China continues its global ascendancy, thus the warm reception to Beijing as the new globalist hegemonic power after Trump's noise about pursuing economic nationalism within the neoliberal model. (Barry Eichengreen, Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, the Great Recession and the Uses and Misuses of History , 2016; http://www.e-ir.info/2011/08/23/has-the-global-financial-crisis-challenged-us-power-in-international-finance/ )

China is not pursuing the kind of neoliberal model that exists in the US or the EU, but its economy is well integrated with the global neoliberal system and operates within those perimeters despite quasi-statist policies also found in other countries to a lesser degree. Adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP), China's current share of world GDP stands at 16% and at annual growth above 6% it is expected to reach 20%, by 2020. This in comparison with only 1.9% in 1979 and it explains why its currency is now among the IMF-recognized reserved currencies. With about half-a-million foreign companies in China and an average of 12,000 new companies entering every day, capitalists from all over the world are betting heavily on China's future as the world's preeminent capitalist core country in the 21 st century. China will play a determining role in the course of global neoliberalism, and it is politically willing to accept the US as the military hegemon while Beijing strives for economic preeminence. Interested in extracting greater profits from China while tempering its race to number one, Western businesses and governmentshave been pressuring Beijing to become more immersed in neoliberal policies and eliminate all elements of statism. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2012-09/22/content_15775312.htm ; https://en.portal.santandertrade.com/establish-overseas/china/foreign-investment

Although the US that has 450,000 troops in 800 foreign military bases in more than 150 countries and uses its military muscle along with 'soft-power' policies including sanctions as leverage for economic power, many governments and multinational corporations consider Beijing not Washington as a source of global stability and growth. With China breathing new life into neoliberalism on the promise of geographic and social convergence, it is fantasy to speculate that neoliberalism is in decline when in fact it is becoming more forcefully ubiquitous. However, China like the West that had promised geographic and social convergence in the last four decades of neoliberalism will not be any more successful in delivering on such promises. The resultof such policies will continue to be greater polarization and social exclusion and greater uneven development, with China and multinationals investing in its enterprises becoming richer while the US will continue to use militarism as leverage to retain global economic hegemony rapidly eroding from its grip. ( http://www.businessinsider.com/us-military-deployments-may-2017-5 ; http://www.zapruderworld.org/welfare-state-decline-and-rise-neoliberalism-1980s-some-approaches-between-latin-americas-core-and ; Dic Lo, Alternatives to Neoliberal Globalization , 2012)

Between China and the US, the world can expect neoliberal globalization to continue under the pluralist and populist rightwing models in different countries with the two converging and reflecting the totalitarian essence of the system at its core.Characterized by rapid development and sluggish growth in Japan and Western core countries, neoliberal globalization has entailed lack of income convergence between the developed and developing world where uneven export-oriented growth based on the primary sector keeps developingnations perpetually dependent and poor. Interestingly, the trend of falling incomes characteristic of the developing nations from 1980 to 2000 was just as true in Western countries. It was during these two decades of ascendant neoliberalism that rightwing populist movements began to challenge the pluralist neoliberal political camp and offering nationally-based neoliberal solutions, further adding to the system's existing contradictions. (Dic Lo, Alternatives to Neoliberal Globalization , 2012)

The debate whether the rise of populism or perhaps the faint voices of anti-capitalism will finally bring about the end of neoliberalism often centers on the digital-biotech revolution often blamed for exacerbating rather than solving social problems owing to uneven benefits accruing across social classes. It is somewhat surprising that IMF economists have questioned the wisdom of pursuing unfettered neoliberalism where there is a trade-off between economic growth andsocial exclusion owing to growing income inequality. Naturally, the IMF refrains from self-criticism and it would never suggest that neoliberal globalization that the Fund has been promoting is responsible for the rise of rightwing populism around the world.

Within the neoliberal camp, pluralist-diversity advocatesare satisfied they have done their part in the 'fight for democracy' when in fact their stealthy brand of the neoliberal social contract isin some respects more dangerous than the populist camp which is unapologetically candid about its pro-big business, pro-monopoly, pro-deregulation anti-social welfare platform. Shortly after Trump won the presidential election with the help of rightwing billionaires and disillusioned workers who actually believed that he represented them rather than the billionaires, an article appearing in the Christian Science Monitor is typical of how pluralist neoliberals view the global tide of rightwing populism.

"Worldwide, it has been a rough years for democracy. The UK, the United States and Colombia made critical decisions about their nations' future, and – at least from the perspective of liberal values and social justice – they decided poorly. Beyond the clear persistence of racism, sexism and xenophobia in people's decision-making, scholars and pundits have argued that to understand the results of recent popular votes, we must reflect on neoliberalism. International capitalism, which has dominated the globe for the past three decades, has its winners and its losers. And, for many thinkers, the losers have spoken. My fieldwork in South America has taught me that there are alternative and effective ways to push back against neoliberalism. These include resistance movements based on pluralism and alternative forms of social organisation, production and consumption." https://www.csmonitor.com/Technology/Breakthroughs-Voices/2016/1206/Opposing-neoliberalism-without-right-wing-populism-A-Latin-American-guide

Without analyzing the deeper causes of the global tide of rightwing populism promoting neoliberalism under an authoritarian political platform, pluralist-diversity neoliberals continue to promote socioeconomic policies that lead to social exclusion, inequality, and uneven development as long as they satisfy the cultural-lifestyle and corporate-based sustainable-development aspects of the social contract.Tolend legitimacy and public acceptance among those expecting a commitment to pluralism, the neoliberal pluralists embrace the superficialities and distraction of diversity and political correctness. Ironically, the political correctness trend started during theReagan administration's second term and served as a substitute for social justice that the government and the private sector were rapidly eroding along with the social welfare state and trade union rights. As long as there is'politically correctness', in public at least so that people feel they are part of a 'civilized' society, then public policy can continue on the barbaric path of social exclusion, police-state methods, and greater economic inequality.

https://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/fighting-trump-right-wing-populism-vs-neoliberalism/ ; http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2056305117733226

The future of neoliberalism includes the inevitability that social exclusion will lead to social uprisings especially as even some billionaires readily acknowledge the social contract favors them to the detriment of society. As the voices against systemic exploitation become louder,the likelihood will increase for authoritarian-police state policies if not regimes reflecting the neoliberal social contract's ubiquitous stranglehold on society. Although resistance to neoliberalism will continue to grow, the prospects for a social revolution in this century overturning the neoliberal order in advanced capitalist countries is highly unlikely. Twentieth century revolutions succeeded where the state structure was weak and people recognized that the hierarchical social order was the root cause of the chasm between the country's vast social exclusion coupled with stagnation vs. its potential for a more inclusive society where greater social equality and social justice would bean integral part of the social contract. (Donna L. Chollett, Neoliberalism, Social Exclusion, and Social Movements , 2013)

Despite everything pointing to the dynamics of a continued neoliberal social contract, diehard pluralists like British academic Martin Jacques and American economist Joseph Stiglitz insist there is hope for reformist change. In The Politics of Thatcherism (1983) Jacques applauded neoliberalism, but during the US presidential election in 2016 he had changed his mind, predicting neoliberalism's demise. He felt encouraged that other pluralist neoliberals like Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz were voicing their concerns signaling an interest in the debate about social inequality. In an article entitled "The death of neoliberalism and the crisis in western politics" , he wrote: "A sure sign of the declining influence of neoliberalism is the rising chorus of intellectual voices raised against it. From the mid-70s through the 80s, the economic debate was increasingly dominated by monetarists and free marketeers." https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/21/death-of-neoliberalism-crisis-in-western-politics

Along with Krugman, Stiglitz and others in the pluralist camp favoring a policy mix that includes Keynesianism,Martin Jacques, Thomas Picketty and others like them around the world doenjoy some small influence with the pluralist-diversity camp. However, the demise of neoliberalism will not result from intellectual critiques regardless of the merits. On the contrary, the neoliberal social contract is solidifying not evolving toward dissolution. This is largely because the dynamics of the social order continue to favor it and the opposition is split between ultra-right nationalists, pluralists of varying sorts resting on hope of restoring Keynesian rationalism in the capitalist system, and the very weak and divided leftists in just about every country and especially the core ones. https://theconversation.com/if-we-are-reaching-neoliberal-capitalisms-end-days-what-comes-next-72366

Neoliberalism's inherent contradictions will result in its demise andthe transition into a new phase of capitalism. Among the most obvious and glaring contradictions is that the ideology promotes freedom and emancipation when in practice it is a totalitarian system aimed to mold society and the individual into conformity of its dogmatic market fundamentalism.Another contradiction is the emphasis of a borderless global market, while capitalists operate within national borders and are impacted by national policies that often collide at the international level as the competition intensifies for market share just as was the case in the four decades before the outbreak of WWI. Adding to the list of contradictions that finds expression the debate between neoliberal rightwingers and pluralists is the issue of "value-free" market fundamentalism while at the same time neoliberals conduct policy that has very strong moral consequences in peoples' lives precisely because of extremely uneven income distribution.

The enigma in neoliberalism's futureis the role of grassroots movements that are in a position to impact change but have failed thus far to make much impact. Most people embrace the neoliberal political parties serving the same capitalist class, operating under the illusion of a messiah politician delivering the promise of salvation either from the pluralist or authoritarian wing of neoliberalism. The turning point for systemic change emanates from within the system that fails to serve the vast majority of the people as it is riddled with contradictions that become more evident and the elites become increasingly contentious about how to divide the economic pie and how to mobilize popular support behind mainstream political parties so they can maintain the social order under an unsustainable political economy. At that juncture, the neoliberal social contract suffersan irrevocable crisis of public confidence on a mass scale. Regardless under which political regime neoliberalism operates, people will eventually reject hegemonic cultural indoctrination. A critical mass in society has not reached this juncture. Nevertheless, social discontinuity is an evolutionary process and the contradictions in neoliberalism will continue to cause political disruption, economic disequilibrium and social upheaval.

Jon V. Kofas , Ph.D. – Retired university professor of history – author of ten academic books and two dozens scholarly articles. Specializing in International Political economy, Kofas has taught courses and written on US diplomatic history, and the roles of the World Bank and IMF in the world.

[Dec 08, 2018] Internet as a perfect tool of inverted totalitarism: it stimulates atomizatin of individuals, creates authomatic 24x7 surveillance over population, suppresses solidarity by exceggerating non-essential differences and allow more insidious brainwashing of the population

Highly recommended!
Dec 08, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Livius Drusus , December 8, 2018 at 7:20 am

I think the Internet and the infotech revolution in general have been largely negative in their impact on the world. Ian Welsh has a blog post that largely sums up my views on the issue.

https://www.ianwelsh.net/what-the-infotechtelecom-revolution-has-actually-done/

Contrary to what many people say I think large organizations like governments and corporations have significantly more power now than before and ordinary people have less power. The Internet has made it easier to get information but you have to sift through tons of junk to get to anything decent. For every website like Naked Capitalism there are thousands pushing nonsense or trying to sell you stuff.

And even if you are more knowledgeable, so what? If you cannot put that knowledge to use what good is it? At best it makes you more well-rounded, interesting and harder to fool but in political terms knowing a lot of stuff doesn't make you more effective. In the past people didn't have access to nearly as much information but they were more willing and able to organize and fight against the powerful because it was easier to avoid detection/punishment (that is where stuff like widespread surveillance tech comes in) and because they still had a vibrant civic life and culture.

I actually think people are more atomized now than in the past and the Internet and other technologies have probably fueled this process. Despite rising populism, the Arab Spring, Occupy, the Yellow Jackets in France, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the DSA this is all a drop in the bucket compared to just the massive social movements of the 1960s much less earlier periods. Robert Putnam argued that television, the Internet and other technologies likely helped to produce the collapse of civic life in the United States by "individualizing" people's leisure time and personally I think Putnam is right. Civic life today is very weak and I think the Internet is partially to blame.

Mark , December 8, 2018 at 12:10 pm

And even if you are more knowledgeable, so what? If you cannot put that knowledge to use what good is it?

Agreed. If anything these more knowledgeable people had a greater audience prior to the internet. Whether you were a journalist, a great economist, a great author, or a great orator you need to persist and show intellect and talent to have your message heard wide and broad.
(This is probably a little idealistic, but I think there is truth there.)

Now you need very little of this. If your most famous asset is your attractive body you can attract a greater audience than great scholars and politicians.

Rosario , December 8, 2018 at 2:56 pm

I can't speak much on authoritarianism since whatever form it takes on today is wildly different from what it was in the past. Unfortunately, it is hard to convince many people living in western societies that they are living in an authoritarian system because their metal images are goose-stepping soldiers and Fraktur print posters.

I suppose the way I can assure myself that we are living in an authoritarian society is by analyzing the endless propaganda spewed from countless, high-viewership media and entertainment outlets. It is quite simple, if the media and entertainment narratives are within a very narrow intellectual window (with lots of 600 lb. gorillas sitting in corners) than the culture and politics are being defined by powerful people with a narrow range of interests. This is not to say that forming public opinion or preferring particular political views is a new thing in Western media and entertainment, just that its application, IMO, is far more effective and subtle (and becoming more-so by the day) than it ever was in, say, NAZI Germany or the Soviet Union.

I'd put my money down that most educated Germans during NAZI rule were well aware that propaganda was being utilized to "manufacture consent" but they participated and accepted this despite the content for pragmatic/selfish reasons. Much of the NAZI propaganda played on existing German/European cultural narratives and prejudices. Leaveraging existing ideology allowed the party to necessitate their existence by framing the German as juxtaposed against the impure and unworthy. Again, ideologies that existed independent of the party not within it. Goebbels and company were just good at utilizing the technology of the time to amplify these monstrosities.

I question that being the case today. It is far more complicated. Technology is again the primary tool for manipulation, but it is possible that current technology is allowing for even greater leaps in reason and analysis. The windows for reflection and critical thought close as soon as they are opened. Seems more like the ideology is manufactured on the fly. For example, the anti-Russia narrative has some resonance with baby boomers, but how the hell is it effective with my generation (millennial) and younger? The offhand references to Putin and Russian operatives from my peers are completely from left field when considering our life experience. People in my age group had little to say about Russia three years ago. It says volumes on the subtle effectiveness of Western media machines if you can re-create the cold war within two years for an entire generation.

In addition and related to above, the West's understanding of "Freedom of Speech" is dated by about 100 years. Governments are no longer the sole source of speech suppression (more like filtering and manipulation), and the supremacy of the free-market coupled with the erroneously perceived black-and-white division between public and private have convinced the public (with nearly religious conviction) that gigantic media and entertainment organizations do not have to protect the free speech of citizens because they are not government. Public/Private is now an enormous blob. With overlapping interests mixed in with any antagonisms. It is ultimately dictated by capital and its power within both government and business. Cracking this nut will be a nightmare.

Yes, this is an authoritarian world, if measured by the distance between the populace and its governing powers, but it is an authoritarianism operating in ways that we have never seen before and using tools that are terribly effective.

[Nov 15, 2018] Why Orwell is Superior to Huxley by Colin Liddell

Notable quotes:
"... Huxley's main insight, namely that control can be maintained more effectively through "entertainment, distraction, and superficial pleasure rather than through overt modes of policing and strict control over food supplies" is not actually absent in 1984 . ..."
"... In fact, exactly these kind of methods are used to control the Proles, on whom pornography is pushed and prostitution allowed. In fact porn is such an important means of social control that the IngSoc authorities even have a pornography section called "PornSec," which mass produces porn for the Proles. ..."
"... One of the LOL moments in Michael Radford's film version is when Mr. Charrington, the agent of the thought police who poses as a kindly pawnbroker to rent a room to Winston and Julia for their sexual trysts, informs them on their arrest that their surveillance film will be 'repurposed' as porn. ..."
"... But while 1984 includes almost everything that Brave New World contains in terms of controlling people through sex, drugs, and distractions, it also includes much, much more, especially regarding how censorship and language are used to control people and how tyranny is internalised. The chapter from which the above quote comes, shows how Winston, a formerly autonomous agent, has come to accept the power of the system so much that he no longer needs policing. ..."
"... But most brilliant of all is Orwell's prescient description of how language is changed through banning certain words and the expression of certain ideas or observations deemed "thought crime," to say nothing of the constant rewriting of history. The activities of Big Tech and their deplatforming of all who use words, phrases, and ideas not in the latest edition of their "Newspeak" dictionary, have radically changed the way that people communicate and what they talk about in a comparatively short period of time. ..."
"... Orwell's insights into how language can be manipulated into a tool of control shows his much deeper understanding of human psychology than that evident in Huxley's novel. The same can be said about Orwell's treatment of emotions, which is another aspect of his novel that rings particularly true today. ..."
"... Colin Liddell is one of the founders of the Alt-Right, which he now disavows, and currently blogs at Affirmative Right . He recently published a book "Interviews and Obituaries," available on Amazon . ..."
Nov 15, 2018 | www.unz.com

One of the frequent comparisons that comes up in the Dissident Right is who was more correct or prescient, Orwell or Huxley.

In fact, as the only truly oppressed intellectual group, the Dissident Right are the only ones in a position to offer a valid opinion on this, as no other group of intellectuals suffers deplatforming, doxxing, and dismissal from jobs as much as we do. In the present day, it is only the Dissident Right that exists in the 'tyrannical space' explored in those two dystopian classics.

But, despite this, this debate exists not only on the Dissident Right but further afield. Believe it or not, even Left-wingers and Liberals debate this question, as if they too are under the heel of the oppressor's jackboot. In fact, they feel so oppressed that some of them are even driven to discuss it in the pages of the New York Times at the despotically high rate of pay which that no doubt involves.

In both the Left and the Dissident Right, the consensus is that Huxley is far superior to Orwell, although, according to the New York Times article just alluded to, Orwell has caught up a lot since the election of Donald Trump. Have a look at this laughable, "I'm literally shaking" prose from New York Times writer Charles McGrath :

And yet [Huxley's] novel much more accurately evokes the country we live in now, especially in its depiction of a culture preoccupied with sex and mindless pop entertainment, than does Orwell's more ominous book, which seems to be imagining someplace like North Korea. Or it did until Donald Trump was inaugurated.

All of a sudden, as many commentators have pointed out, there were almost daily echoes of Orwell in the news The most obvious connection to Orwell was the new president's repeated insistence that even his most pointless and transparent lies were in fact true, and then his adviser Kellyanne Conway's explanation that these statements were not really falsehoods but, rather, "alternative facts." As any reader of "1984" knows, this is exactly Big Brother's standard of truth: The facts are whatever the leader says they are.

those endless wars in "1984," during which the enemy keeps changing -- now Eurasia, now Eastasia -- no longer seem as far-fetched as they once did, and neither do the book's organized hate rallies, in which the citizenry works itself into a frenzy against nameless foreigners.

The counter to this is that Trump is the only non-establishment candidate to get elected President since Andrew Jackson and therefore almost the exact opposite of the idea of top-down tyranny.

But to return to the notion that Huxley is superior to Orwell, both on the Left and the Dissident Right, this is based on a common view that Huxley presents a much more subtle, nuanced, and sophisticated view of soft tyranny more in keeping with the appearance of our own age. Here's McGrath summarizing this viewpoint, which could just as easily have come out of the mouth of an Alt-Righter, Alt-Liter, or Affirmative Righter:

Orwell didn't really have much feel for the future, which to his mind was just another version of the present. His imagined London is merely a drabber, more joyless version of the city, still recovering from the Blitz, where he was living in the mid-1940s, just before beginning the novel. The main technological advancement there is the two-way telescreen, essentially an electronic peephole.

Huxley, on the other hand, writing almost two decades earlier than Orwell (his former Eton pupil, as it happened), foresaw a world that included space travel; private helicopters; genetically engineered test tube babies; enhanced birth control; an immensely popular drug that appears to combine the best features of Valium and Ecstasy; hormone-laced chewing gum that seems to work the way Viagra does; a full sensory entertainment system that outdoes IMAX; and maybe even breast implants. (The book is a little unclear on this point, but in "Brave New World" the highest compliment you can pay a woman is to call her "pneumatic.")

Huxley was not entirely serious about this. He began "Brave New World" as a parody of H.G. Wells, whose writing he detested, and it remained a book that means to be as playful as it is prophetic. And yet his novel much more accurately evokes the country we live in now, especially in its depiction of a culture preoccupied with sex and mindless pop entertainment, than does Orwell's more ominous book, which seems to be imagining someplace like North Korea.

It is easy to see why some might see Huxley as more relevant to the reality around us than Orwell, because basically "Big Brother," in the guise of the Soviet Union, lost the Cold War, or so it seems.

But while initially convincing, the case for Huxley's superiority can be dismantled.

Most importantly, Huxley's main insight, namely that control can be maintained more effectively through "entertainment, distraction, and superficial pleasure rather than through overt modes of policing and strict control over food supplies" is not actually absent in 1984 .

In fact, exactly these kind of methods are used to control the Proles, on whom pornography is pushed and prostitution allowed. In fact porn is such an important means of social control that the IngSoc authorities even have a pornography section called "PornSec," which mass produces porn for the Proles.

One of the LOL moments in Michael Radford's film version is when Mr. Charrington, the agent of the thought police who poses as a kindly pawnbroker to rent a room to Winston and Julia for their sexual trysts, informs them on their arrest that their surveillance film will be 'repurposed' as porn.

In fact, Orwell's view of sex as a means of control is much more dialectical and sophisticated than Huxley's, as the latter was, as mentioned above, essentially writing a parody of the naive "free love" notions of H.G.Wells.

While sex is used as a means to weaken the Proles, 'anti-Sex' is used to strengthen the hive-mind of Party members. Indeed, we see today how the most hysterical elements of the Left -- and to a certain degree the Dissident Right -- are the most undersexed.

Also addictive substances are not absent from Orwell's dystopian vision. While Brave New World only has soma, 1984 has Victory Gin, Victory Wine, Victory Beer, Victory Coffee, and Victory Tobacco -- all highly addictive substances that affect people's moods and reconcile them to unpleasant realities. Winston himself is something of a cigarette junkie and gin fiend, as we see in this quote from the final chapter:

The Chestnut Tree was almost empty. A ray of sunlight slanting through a window fell on dusty table-tops. It was the lonely hour of fifteen. A tinny music trickled from the telescreens.

Winston sat in his usual corner, gazing into an empty glass. Now and again he glanced up at a vast face which eyed him from the opposite wall. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption said. Unbidden, a waiter came and filled his glass up with Victory Gin, shaking into it a few drops from another bottle with a quill through the cork. It was saccharine flavoured with cloves, the speciality of the cafe

In these days he could never fix his mind on any one subject for more than a few moments at a time. He picked up his glass and drained it at a gulp.

But while 1984 includes almost everything that Brave New World contains in terms of controlling people through sex, drugs, and distractions, it also includes much, much more, especially regarding how censorship and language are used to control people and how tyranny is internalised. The chapter from which the above quote comes, shows how Winston, a formerly autonomous agent, has come to accept the power of the system so much that he no longer needs policing.

But most brilliant of all is Orwell's prescient description of how language is changed through banning certain words and the expression of certain ideas or observations deemed "thought crime," to say nothing of the constant rewriting of history. The activities of Big Tech and their deplatforming of all who use words, phrases, and ideas not in the latest edition of their "Newspeak" dictionary, have radically changed the way that people communicate and what they talk about in a comparatively short period of time.

Orwell's insights into how language can be manipulated into a tool of control shows his much deeper understanding of human psychology than that evident in Huxley's novel. The same can be said about Orwell's treatment of emotions, which is another aspect of his novel that rings particularly true today.

In 1984 hate figures, like Emmanuel Goldstein, and fake enemies, like Eastasia and Eurasia, are used to unite, mobilise, and control certain groups. Orwell was well aware of the group-psychological dynamics of the tribe projected to the largest scale of a totalitarian empire. The concept of "three minutes hate" has so much resonance with our own age, where triggered Twitter-borne hordes of SJWs and others slosh around the news cycle like emotional zombies, railing against Trump or George Soros.

In Huxley's book, there are different classes but this is not a source of conflict. Indeed they are so clearly defined -- in fact biologically so -- that there is no conflict between them, as each class carries out its predetermined role like harmonious orbit of Aristotlean spheres.

In short, Brave New World sees man as he likes to see himself -- a rational actor, controlling his world and taking his pleasures. It is essentially the vision of a well-heeled member of the British upper classes.

Orwell's book, by contrast, sees man as the tribal primitive, forced to live on a scale of social organisation far beyond his natural capacity, and thereby distorted into a mad and cruel creature. It is essentially the vision of a not-so-well-heeled member of the British middle classes in daily contact with the working class. But is all the richer and more profound for it.

Colin Liddell is one of the founders of the Alt-Right, which he now disavows, and currently blogs at Affirmative Right . He recently published a book "Interviews and Obituaries," available on Amazon .

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

Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberal Totalitarianism and the Social Contract ..."
"... Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy ..."
"... Historical Introduction ..."
"... The Social Contract ..."
"... "Man is born free, but everywhere in chains." ..."
"... Discourse on Inequality, ..."
"... "association which will defend the person and goods of each member with the collective force of all." ..."
"... "The Social Contract Theory in a Global Context" ..."
"... The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism ..."
"... The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto ..."
"... "Uneven Development: Understanding the Roots of Inequality" ..."
"... "A generation ago, the country's social contract was premised on higher wages and reliable benefits, provided chiefly by employers. In recent decades, we've moved to a system where low wages are supposed to be made bearable by low consumer prices and a hodgepodge of government assistance programs. But as dissatisfaction with this arrangement has grown, it is time to look back at how we got here and imagine what the next stage of the social contract might be." ..."
"... New America Foundation's ..."
"... The Social Contract in Africa ..."
"... "Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems" The Guardian ..."
"... Neoliberalism: do you know what it is? Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007-2008, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump. But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has – or had – a name. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly? ..."
"... "From Military Keynesianism to Global-Neoliberal Militarism" ..."
"... Monthly Review ..."
"... A Short History ofNeoliberalism ..."
"... Ideology, the Neoliberal State, and the Social Contract ..."
"... "I think not having the ..."
"... recognizes the people that are investing -- as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it's on booze or women or movies." ..."
"... "the transition from organised capitalism to neoliberal hegemony over the recent period has brought about a corresponding transformation in subjectivity. Leading celebrities, most notably high-tech entrepreneurs, for instance, operate in the popular imagination as models of achievement for the aspiring young. They are seldom emulated in real life, however, even unrealistically so. Still, their famed lifestyles and heavily publicised opinions provide guidelines to appropriate conduct in a ruthlessly competitive and unequal world." ..."
"... "Pessimism of Intelligence, Optimism of Will" ..."
"... Perspectives on Gramsci ..."
"... Social vs. Corporate Welfare ..."
"... "The common denominator is the empowering of elites over the masses with the assistance of international forces through military action or financial coercion -- a globalized dialectic of ruling classes." ..."
"... The End of Ideology ..."
"... : "It's the end of ideology in China. Not the end of all ideology, but the end of Marxist ideology. China has many social problems, but the government and its people will deal with them in pragmatic ways, without being overly constrained by ideological boundaries. I still think there's a need for a moral foundation for political rule in China – some sort of guiding ideal for the future – but it won't come from Karl Marx." ..."
"... The End of History ..."
"... Ideology of Power and the Power of Ideology ..."
"... "Limiting Dissent: The Mechanisms of State Repression in the USA" Social Movement Studies," ..."
"... The Great Transformation ..."
"... "To allow the market mechanism to be sole director of the fate of human beings and their natural environment would result in the demolition of society." ..."
"... "The withering away of national states and the wholesale privatization of state-owned enterprises and state-administered services transferred highly profitable monopolies to capitalists, and guaranteed the repayment of the foreign debt-contracted, as in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay-by irresponsible, corrupt, and de facto military rulers. Neoliberalism supplied the general justification for the transfer of public assets and state-owned enterprises, paid for with public savings, even in areas considered "taboo" and untouchable until a few years ago, such as electricity, aviation, oil, or telecommunications. ..."
"... "Democracy or Neoliberalism?" ..."
"... "When Exclusion Replaces Exploitation: The Condition of the Surplus-Population under Neoliberalism" ..."
"... Neoliberalism and Fascism ..."
"... The role of the state ..."
"... "The combination of economic disruption, cultural disruption ― nothing feels solid to people ― that's a recipe for people wanting to find security somewhere. And sadly, there's something in all of us that looks for simple answers when we're agitated and insecure. The narrative that America at its best has stood for, the narrative of pluralism and tolerance and democracy and rule of law, human rights and freedom of the press and freedom of religion, that narrative, I think, is actually the more powerful narrative. The majority of people around the world aspire to that narrative, which is the reason people still want to come here." ..."
"... Independence from America: Global Integration and Inequality ..."
"... Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America ..."
"... everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state. ..."
"... "everything within neoliberalism, nothing against neoliberalism, nothing outside neoliberalism. ..."
"... Neoliberal Fascism: Free Markets and the Restructuring of Indian Capitalism," ..."
"... is seen as an effort by neoliberalism, or perhaps more broadly by capitalism, to divert attention from class conflict, to divide and weaken working class struggles and to deflect class-driven anxieties on to minority communities. This approach is problematic in two senses. First, it does not explain why Hindutva organisations are able to develop a mass base, except to the extent that they are seen to be appealing to "historical identity" or "emotive" issues. ..."
"... The state exists ..."
"... as the expression and guarantor of a collectivity founded around a transcendent principle ..."
"... The ideal state is the guarantor of the Hindu rashtra, a "nation" that exists as an organic and harmonious unity between "Hindus." ..."
"... The Politics of Free Markets ..."
"... "The new dual sate is alive and well: Normative State for the core populations of the capitalist center, and another State of arbitrary decrees for the non-citizens who are the rest. Unlike in classical fascism, this second State is only dimly visible from the first. The radical critique protesting that liberty within the Normative State is an illusion, although understandable, is erroneous. The denial of citizenship based not on exploitation, oppression and straightforward discrimination, but on mere exclusion and distance, is difficult to grasp, because the mental habits of liberation struggle for a more just redistribution of goods and powers are not applicable. The problem is not that the Normative State is becoming more authoritarian: rather, that it belongs only to a few." ..."
"... Alternative fur Deutchalnd ..."
"... Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty ..."
"... Neoliberalism presumes a strong state, working only for the benefit of the wealthy, and as such it has little pretence to neutrality and universality, unlike the classical liberal state. I would go so far as to say that neoliberalism is the final completion of capitalism's long-nascent project, in that the desire to transform everything -- every object, every living thing, every fact on the planet -- in its image had not been realized to the same extent by any preceding ideology. ..."
"... The Fascist Nature of Neoliberalism ..."
"... "La Dottrina del Fascismo" ..."
"... "Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state," ..."
"... "inverted totalitarianism" ..."
"... Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, ..."
"... Neoliberalism and Terror: Critical Engagements ..."
"... Characteristics of the Illiberal Neoliberal Society ..."
"... Sociology of Imperialism ..."
"... "The bourgeoisie did not simply supplant the sovereign, nor did it make him its leader, as did the nobility. It merely wrested a portion of its power from him and for the rest submitted to him. It did not take over from the sovereign the state as an abstract form of organization. The state remained a special social power, confronting the bourgeoisie. In some countries it has continued to play that role to the present day. It is in the state that the bourgeoisie with its interests seeks refuge, protection against external and even domestic enemies. The bourgeoisie seeks to win over the state for itself, and in return serves the state and state interests that are different from its own." ..."
"... Democratic elections have become the means for installing leaders with little respect for democratic values. The tolerance, openness and inclusiveness on which modern democracy is founded are being rejected by candidates and voters in favor of sectarian, parochial fears and interests. The role of the free press as an impartial arbiter of facts is being undermined by the rise of private and public news media conglomerates purveying political preference as fact combined with a blinding blizzard of fake news. Party politics has been polarized into a winner-take-all fight to the finish by vested-interests and impassioned extremist minorities trying to impose their agendas on a complacent majority. Corporate power and money power are transforming representative governments into plutocratic pseudo-democracies. Fundamentalists are seizing the instruments of secular democracy to impose intolerant linguistic, racial and religious homogeneity in place of the principles of liberty and harmonious heterogeneity that are democracy's foundation and pinnacle of achievement." ..."
"... http://www.cadmusjournal.org/article/volume-3/issue-3/political-economy-neoliberalism-and-illiberal-democracy ..."
"... "Suppose the election was declared free and fair and those elected are "racists, fascists, separatists, who are publicly opposed to [peace and reintegration]. That is the dilemma." ..."
"... "Fascism may be defined as the subordination of every part of the State to a totalitarian and nihilistic ideology. I argue that neoliberalism is a species of fascism because the economy has brought under subjection not only the government of democratic countries but also every aspect of our thought. The state is now at the disposal of the economy and of finance, which treat it as a subordinate and lord over it to an extent that puts the common good in jeopardy." ..."
"... Lectures on Fascism, ..."
"... Neoliberalism has been more successful than most past ideologies in redefining subjectivity, in making people alter their sense of themselves, their personhood, their identities, their hopes and expectations and dreams and idealizations. Classical liberalism was successful too, for two and a half centuries, in people's self-definition, although communism and fascism succeeded less well in realizing the "new man." It cannot be emphasized enough that neoliberalism is not classical liberalism, or a return to a purer version of it, as is commonly misunderstood; it is a new thing, because the market, for one thing, is not at all free and untethered and dynamic in the sense that classical liberalism idealized it. ..."
"... "In some parts of Europe, and in the United States, anti-foreigner rhetoric full of unbridled vitriol and hatred, is proliferating to a frightening degree, and is increasingly unchallenged. The rhetoric of fascism is no longer confined to a secret underworld of fascists, meeting in ill-lit clubs or on the 'deep net'. It is becoming part of normal daily discourse." ..."
"... The Global Rise of Populism ..."
"... The risk democratic formations continually face is internal disintegration such that the heterogeneous elements of the social order not only fail to come together within some principle of or for unity, but actively turn against one another. In this case, a totally unproductive revolution takes place. Rather than subversion of the normative order causing suffering, rebellion or revolution that might establish a new nomos of shared life as a way of establishing a new governing logic, the dissociated elements of disintegrating democratic formations identify with the very power responsible for their subjection–capital, the state and, the strong leader. Thus the possibility of fascism is not negated in neoliberal formations but is an ever present possibility arising within it. Because the value of the social order as such is never in itself sufficient to maintain its own constitution, it must have recourse to an external value, which is the order of the sacred embodied by the sovereign. ..."
"... Can the World be Wrong ..."
"... "Even mature democracies show signs of degenerating into their illiberal namesakes. The historical record confirms that peaceful, prosperous, free and harmonious societies can best be nurtured by the widest possible distribution of all forms of power -- political, economic, educational, scientific, technological and social -- to the greatest extent to the greatest number. The aspiration for individual freedom can only be realized and preserved when it is married with the right to social equality. The mutual interdependence of the individual and the collective is the key to their reconciliation and humanity's future. ..."
"... Beset by stagnant wage growth, less than half of respondents in America, Britain and France believe that globalisation is a "force for good" in the world. Westerners also say the world is getting worse. Even Americans, generally an optimistic lot, are feeling blue: just 11% believe the world has improved in the past year. The turn towards nationalism is especially pronounced in France, the cradle of liberty. Some 52% of the French now believe that their economy should not have to rely on imports, and just 13% reckon that immigration has a positive effect on their country. France is divided as to whether or not multiculturalism is something to be embraced. Such findings will be music to the ears of Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, France's nationalist, Eurosceptic party. Current (and admittedly early) polling has her tied for first place in the 2017 French presidential race. ..."
"... "Populism is not Fascism: But it could be a Harbinger" ..."
"... Foreign Affairs ..."
"... Structural Exploitation under the Neoliberal Social Contract ..."
"... "a property of institutions or systems in which the "rules of the game" unfairly benefit one group of people to the detriment of another" ..."
"... The End of Politics: Corporate Power and the Decline of the Public Sphere ..."
"... The Trickle Down Delusion ..."
"... "Real hourly compensation of production, nonsupervisory workers who make up 80 percent of the workforce, also shows pay stagnation for most of the period since 1973, rising 9.2 percent between 1973 and 2014.Net productivity grew 1.33 percent each year between 1973 and 2014, faster than the meager 0.20 percent annual rise in median hourly compensation. In essence, about 15 percent of productivity growth between 1973 and 2014 translated into higher hourly wages and benefits for the typical American worker. Since 2000, the gap between productivity and pay has risen even faster. The net productivity growth of 21.6 percent from 2000 to 2014 translated into just a 1.8 percent rise in inflation-adjusted compensation for the median worker (just 8 percent of net productivity growth).Since 2000, more than 80 percent of the divergence between a typical (median) worker's pay growth and overall net productivity growth has been driven by rising inequality (specifically, greater inequality of compensation and a falling share of income going to workers relative to capital owners).Over the entire 1973–2014 period, rising inequality explains over two-thirds of the productivity–pay divergence. ..."
"... "Understanding the Historic Divergence Between Productivity and a Typical Worker's Pay Why It Matters and Why It's Real" ..."
"... "The fact that our society places no limit on wealth while making it accessible to all helps account for the 'feverish' quality Tocqueville sensed in American civilization." Culture Against Man ..."
"... Neoliberal Hegemony ..."
"... Toward a 21st Century Social Contract" ..."
"... "A 21 st Century Social Contract" ..."
"... "The nature of work is changing very rapidly. Old models of lifelong employment via business and a predictable safety net provided by government are no longer assured in a new demographic, economic, and political environment. We see these trends most clearly in the rise of the "gig economy," in which contingent workers (freelancers, independent contractors, consultants, or other outsourced and non-permanent workers) are hired on a temporary or part-time basis. These workers make up more than 90 percent of new job creation in European countries, and by 2020, it is estimated that more than 40 percent of the U.S. workforce will be in contingent jobs." ..."
"... " Turning the Social Contract Inside Out: Neoliberal Governance and Human Capital in Two Days, One Night" ..."
"... 'knowledge based economy' ..."
"... "The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have taken a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, pulled out all 43,060 multinational corporations and the share ownerships linking them to construct a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company's operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power.The model revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships. Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What's more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world's large blue chip and manufacturing firms, the "real" economy, representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a super-entity of 147 even more tightly knit companies (all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity) that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. "In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network." ..."
"... https://weeklybolshevik.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/imperialism-and-the-concentration-of-capital/ ..."
"... "Neoliberalism and technology: Perpetual innovation or perpetual crisis?" ..."
"... Liberalism in the Shadow of Totalitarianism ..."
"... "The Corporate Contradictions of Neoliberalism" ..."
"... "Neoliberalism was born in reaction against totalitarian statism, and matured at the University of Chicago into a program of state-reduction that was directed not just against the totalitarian state and the socialist state but also (and especially) against the New Deal regulatory and welfare state. It is a self-consciously reactionary ideology that seeks to roll back the status quo and institutionalize (or, on its own understanding, re-institutionalize) the "natural" principles of the market. But the contradiction between its individualist ideals and our corporate reality means that the effort to institutionalize it, oblivious to this contradiction, has induced deep dysfunction in our corporate system, producing weakened growth, intense inequality, and coercion. And when the ideological support of a system collapses -- as appears to be happening with neoliberalism -- then either the system will collapse, or new levels of coercion and manipulation will be deployed to maintain it. This appears to be the juncture at which we have arrived." ..."
"... lumpenproletariat ..."
"... "Sociology and the Critique of Neoliberalism" ..."
"... The Social Nature of Cryptocurrencies ..."
"... The Denationalization of Money ..."
"... Austerity: The Lived Experience ..."
"... Neoliberalism, Economic Radicalism, and the Normalization of Violence ..."
"... "Over the past twenty years, the IMF has been strengthened enormously. Thanks to the debt crisis and the mechanism of conditionality, it has moved from balance of payments support to being quasi-universal dictator of so-called "sound" economic policies, meaning of course neo-liberal ones. The World Trade Organisation was finally put in place in January 1995 after long and laborious negotiations, often rammed through parliaments which had little idea what they were ratifying. Thankfully, the most recent effort to make binding and universal neo-liberal rules, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, has failed, at least temporarily. It would have given all rights to corporations, all obligations to governments and no rights at all to citizens. The common denominator of these institutions is their lack of transparency and democratic accountability. This is the essence of neo-liberalism. It claims that the economy should dictate its rules to society, not the other way around. Democracy is an encumbrance, neo-liberalism is designed for winners, not for voters who, necessarily encompass the categories of both winners and losers." ..."
"... https://www.tni.org/en/article/short-history-neoliberalism ..."
"... "When elected governments break the "representative covenant" and show complete indifference to the sufferings of citizens, when democracy is downgraded to an abstract set of rules and deprived of meaning for much of the citizenry, many will be inclined to regard democracy as a sham, to lose confidence in and withdraw their support for electoral institutions. Dissatisfaction with democracy now ranges from 40 percent in Peru and Bolivia to 59 percent in Brazil and 62 percent in Colombia. ..."
"... Exploitation; What is it and why it is Wrong ..."
"... Shadow Sovereigns: How Global Corporations are seizing Power ..."
"... Publics around the globe are generally unhappy with the functioning of their nations' political systems. Across the 36 countries asked the question, a global median of 46% say they are very or somewhat satisfied with the way their democracy is working, compared with 52% who are not too or not at all satisfied. Levels of satisfaction vary considerably by region and within regions. Overall, people in the Asia-Pacific region are the most happy with their democracies. At least half in five of the six Asian nations where this question was asked express satisfaction. Only in South Korea is a majority unhappy (69%). ..."
"... Communication and the Globalization of Culture ..."
"... Class Politics and the Radical Right ..."
"... In 2012 the United States spent an estimated 19.4% of GDP on such social expenditures, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Paris-based industrial country think tank. Denmark spent 30.5%, Sweden 28.2% and Germany 26.3%. All of these nations have a lower central government debt to GDP ratio than that of the United States. Why the United States invests relatively less in its social safety net than many other countries and why those expenditures are even at risk in the current debate over debt reduction reflect Americans' conflicted, partisan and often contradictory views on fairness, inequality, the role and responsibility of government and individuals in society and the efficacy of government action. Rooted in value differences, not just policy differences, the debate over the U.S. social contract is likely to go on long after the fiscal cliff issue has been resolved." ..."
"... Popper, Hayek and the Open Society ..."
"... Social Exclusion, Popular Resistanceand the Future of Neoliberalism ..."
"... Social Exclusion ..."
"... London Labour and the London Poor ..."
"... The German Ideology ..."
"... "Labour Relations and Social Movements in the 21st Century" ..."
"... "The panorama of a deep economic crisis which in the last few decades has hit Europe and its Welfare state in particular has had an unprecedented impact on employment and social policies. The neoliberal model and the effects of deregulated and global finance not only question the "European social model" but push sectors of the labour force – with the youngest and well-qualified being prominent – into unemployment or precarious jobs. the sociological and potential socio-political significance of these actionsparticularly as a result of the interconnections that such movements express, both in the sphere of the workplace and industrial system or whether with broader social structures, with special emphasis on the middle classes and the threats of 'proletarianization' that presently hang over them. labour relations of our time are crossed by precariousness and by a new and growing "precariat" which also gave rise to new social movements and new forms of activism and protest." ..."
"... Personal Insolvency in the 21st Century: A Comparative Analysis of the US and Europe, ..."
"... "Working-class participation, middle-class aspiration? Value, upward mobility and symbolic indebtedness in higher education."The Sociological Review ..."
"... The Financialization of Capitalism: 'Profiting without producing' ..."
"... European Network and Debt and Development ..."
"... "Do you enjoy rising prices? Everybody talks about commodities – with the Agriculture Euro Fund you can benefit from the increase in value of the seven most important agricultural commodities." With this advertisement the Deutsche Bankt tried in spring 2008 to attract clients for one of its investment funds. At the same time, there were hunger revolts in Haiti, Cameroon and other developing countries, because many poor could no longer pay the exploding food prices. In fact, between the end of 2006 and March 2008 the prices for the seven most important commodities went up by 71 per cent on average, for rice and grain the increase was 126 per cent. The poor are most hit by the hike in prices. Whereas households in industrialised countries spend 10 -20 per cent for food, in low-income countries they spend 60 – 80 per cent. As a result, the World Bank forecasts an increase in the number of people falling below the absolute poverty line by more than 100 million. Furthermore, the price explosion has negative macroeconomic effects: deterioration of the balance of payment, fuelling inflation and new debt." ..."
"... Makers and Takers: How Wall Street Destroyed Main Street ..."
"... "The Politics of Public Debt: Neoliberalism, capitalist development, and the restructuring of the state", ..."
"... "Why should the new oligarchs be interested in their countries' future productive capacities and present democratic stability if, apparently, they can be rich without it, processing back and forth the synthetic money produced for them at no cost by a central bank for which the sky is the limit, at each stage diverting from it hefty fees and unprecedented salaries, bonuses and profits as long as it is forthcoming -- and then leave their country to its remaining devices and withdraw to some privately owned island? ..."
"... http://www.publicseminar.org/2014/02/the-politics-of-public-debt/ ..."
"... "The Worldwide Class Struggle" ..."
"... Neoliberalism and the Making of the Subprime Borrower ..."
"... The Making of the Indebted Man: An Essay on the Neoliberal Condition ..."
"... Debt: the First 5000 Years ..."
"... "Torturing the Poor, German-Style" ..."
"... "Germany's chancellor [Gerhard] Schröder (SPD) –known as the "Comrade of the Bosses"– no longer sought to integrate labour into capitalism, at least not the Lumpenproletariat or ..."
"... . These sections of society are now deliberately driven into mass poverty, joining the growing number of working poor on a scale not seen in Germany perhaps since the 1930s." ..."
"... Alternative fur Deutchland ..."
"... Grassroots Resistance to Neoliberalism ..."
"... Homeless Workers' Movement and Landless Workers' Movement), ..."
"... (Abahlali baseMjondolo, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, Landless Peoples' Movement), ..."
"... (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), ..."
"... (Fanmi Lavalas) ..."
"... (Narmada Bachao Andolan). ..."
"... "Dying for Growth: Global Inequality and the Health of the Poor" ..."
"... "100 countries have undergone grave economic decline over the past three decades. Per capita income in these 100 countries is now lower than it was 10, 15, 20 or in some cases even 30 years ago. In Africa, the average household consumes 20 percent less today than it did 25 years ago. Worldwide, more than 1 billion people saw their real incomes fall during the period 1980-1993." ..."
"... http://www.mit.edu/~thistle/v13/2/imf.html ..."
"... Democracy against Neoliberalism in Argentina and Brazil, ..."
"... Double Jeopardy: The Impact of Neoliberalism on Care Workers in the United States and South Africa" ..."
"... The BRICS: Challenges to the Global Status Quo" ..."
"... Landless Workers Movement ..."
"... Partido dos Trabalhadores ..."
"... The Drug War in Mexico: Hegemony and Global Capitalism ..."
"... Justice in El Barrio ..."
"... Black Lives Matter ..."
"... Occupy Wall Street ..."
"... 'De-democratization' under Neoliberalism ..."
"... Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution ..."
"... "If the core of neoliberalism is a natural fact, as suggested by the ideology already embedded deep within our collective psyche, who can change it? Can you live without breathing, or stop the succession of days and nights? This is why Western democracy chooses among the many masks behind which is essentially the same liberal party. Change is not forbidden, change is impossible. Some consider this feature to be an insidious form of invisible totalitarianism. ..."
"... "The unholy alliance of neoliberalism and postmodernism" ..."
"... "undermine the immune system of society, neoliberalism by commercialization of even the most sacred domains and postmodernism by its super-relativism and refusal to recognize any hierarchy in value or belief systems." ..."
"... "Neoliberalism as Political Theology of Chance: the politics of divination." ..."
"... Revoking the Moral Order: The Ideology of Positivism and the Vienna Circle ..."
"... "Neoliberalism and its Threat to Moral Agency" ..."
"... Virtue and Economy ..."
"... The Neoliberal Pattern of Domination: Capital's Reign in Decline, ..."
"... The Future of Neoliberalism ..."
"... Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, the Great Recession and the Uses and Misuses of History ..."
"... Alternatives to Neoliberal Globalization ..."
"... Alternatives to Neoliberal Globalization ..."
"... Christian Science Monitor ..."
"... "Worldwide, it has been a rough years for democracy. The UK, the United States and Colombia made critical decisions about their nations' future, and – at least from the perspective of liberal values and social justice – they decided poorly. Beyond the clear persistence of racism, sexism and xenophobia in people's decision-making, scholars and pundits have argued that to understand the results of recent popular votes, we must reflect on neoliberalism. International capitalism, which has dominated the globe for the past three decades, has its winners and its losers. And, for many thinkers, the losers have spoken. My fieldwork in South America has taught me that there are alternative and effective ways to push back against neoliberalism. These include resistance movements based on pluralism and alternative forms of social organisation, production and consumption." ..."
"... Neoliberalism, Social Exclusion, and Social Movements ..."
"... The Politics of Thatcherism ..."
"... "The death of neoliberalism and the crisis in western politics" ..."
"... "A sure sign of the declining influence of neoliberalism is the rising chorus of intellectual voices raised against it. From the mid-70s through the 80s, the economic debate was increasingly dominated by monetarists and free marketeers." ..."
Sep 07, 2018 | countercurrents.org

Neoliberal Totalitarianism And The Social Contract in World -- by Jon Kofas -- January 11, 2018

capitalism

Neoliberal Totalitarianism and the Social Contract

Abstract

Analyzing aspects of the rightwing populist tide arising largely in reaction to the pluralistic-diversity model of neoliberalism, this essay examines the evolving social contract that normalizes systemic exploitation and repression in the name of capitalist growth. Amid incessant indoctrination by the media representing big capital, people try to make sense of whether their interests are best served under the pluralist-diversity model of globalist neoliberalism with a shrinking social welfare safety net, or an authoritarian-economic nationalist model promising salvation through the use of an iron hand against domestic and foreign enemies.

Socioeconomic polarization under the neoliberal social contract has laid the groundwork for political polarization clearly evident not just in President Donald Trump's America and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's India representing a rightwing populist neoliberal ideology, but France's President Emmanuel Macron's La République En Marche that espouses a pluralist–diversity-environmentalist model aiming at the same neoliberal goals as the populists. Whether under the pluralist or the authoritarian model, neoliberalism represents what Barrington Moore described in Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (1966) a capitalist reactionary route that Italy, Japan, and Germany followed under totalitarian regimes in the interwar era to protect the capitalist class after the crisis that wars of imperialism (1870-1914) and WWI had created in core capitalist countries.

Although the world is much more thoroughly integrated under capitalism today than it was a century ago, the same marked absence of a revolutionary trend as there was in the interwar era is evident in our era. This accounts for the neoliberal revolution from above culminatingin variations of authoritarian regimes throughout the world. This does not only signal a crisis in capitalism but social discontinuity that will precipitate sociopolitical instability as contradictions within the political economy foster polarization across all sectors of society.

Historical Introduction

Most people today have no reason to be familiar with the term "social contract" any more than they are familiar with neoliberalism that inordinately influences public policy on a world scale. For many analysts contemplating the relationship of the individual to organized society, the social contract is about the degree to which government advances a set of social and economic policies articulated by an ideology designed to benefit certain institutions and social groups, while safeguarding sovereignty in the name of the governed. The problem arises when the governed no longer view the social contract as legitimate, a point that John Locke addressed as this was a key issue in 17 th century England right before the Glorious Revolution.

The social contract has its origins in the transition from subsistence agriculture of the feudal-manorial economy to commercial agriculture and long-distance trade under capitalism in the 15 th and 16 th century. With the advent of the Scientific Revolution in the 17 th century and the Enlightenment in the 18 th century coinciding with England's first industrial revolution accounted for more rapid evolution of the division of labor, European intellectuals challenged the old social order based on birth-right privilege of the aristocracy representing the agrarian-based economy of the past. Changes taking place in the economy and social structure gave rise to bourgeois social contract theories that articulated a core role in the state for the merchant-banking class, especially in northwest Europe where mercantile capitalism consolidated.

As the ideological force of the English Glorious Revolution (1689), John Locke, the father of Western Liberalism, argued for a regime that reflected the emerging bourgeoisie inclusion into the political mainstream to reflect the commensurate role in the economy. Interestingly, Locke provided a philosophical justification for overthrowing the government when it acted against the interests of its citizens, thus influencing both the American War of Independence and the French Revolution. Building on Locke's liberal philosophy and views on the tyranny of absolutism, Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote in The Social Contract (1762) that: "Man is born free, but everywhere in chains." This statement reflected the views of many bourgeois thinkers who believed that modernization of society is not possible in the absence of a social contract that takes into account natural rights, an approach to government that would mirror a merit based criteria.

Departing from Locke's liberalism that had property ownership and individualism at the core of his political thought, in the Discourse on Inequality, (1754) Rousseau argued that property appropriation rests at the root of institutionalized inequality and oppression of individuals against the community. The role of the state plays a catalytic role for it as an "association which will defend the person and goods of each member with the collective force of all." The basis of social contract theory accounts for the sovereign power's legitimacy and justice, thus resulting in public acceptance. (Jason Neidleman, "The Social Contract Theory in a Global Context" http://www.e-ir.info/2012/10/09/the-social-contract-theory-in-a-global-context/ ; C. B. Macpherson. The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism , 1962)

Rooted in the ascendancy of the European bourgeoisie, social contract theory has evolved in the last three centuries, especially after the Revolutions of 1848 and the rise of the working class as a sociopolitical force demanding inclusion rather than marginalization and exploitation legalized through public policy that the representatives of capitalism legislated. The cooptation of the working class into bourgeois political parties as a popular base in the age of mass politics from the mid-19 th century until the present has obfuscated the reality that social contract under varieties of parliamentary regimes continued to represent capital.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A European export and integral part of cultural hegemony in the non-Western world, the liberal-bourgeois social contract for the vast majority of Africans has failed to deliver on the promise of socioeconomic development, social justice and national sovereignty since independence from colonial rule. Just as in Africa, the Asian view of the social contract is that it entails a liberal model of government operating within the capitalist system rather than taking into account social justice above all else. Embracing pluralism and diversity while shedding aspects of authoritarian capitalism associated with cronyism and the clientist state, the view of the Asian social contract is to subordinate society to neoliberal global integration and work within the framework of Western-established institutions. In each country, traditions governing social and political relationships underlie the neoliberal model. (Sanya Osha, The Social Contract in Africa , 2014;

https://www.ecb.europa.eu/press/key/date/2013/html/sp130302.en.html ; http://www.mei.edu/content/map/myanmar-transition-social-control-social-contract )

Despite far reaching implications for society and despite the political and business class keen awareness of neoliberalism, most people around the world are almost as perplexed by the term neoliberalism as they are with social contract theory that is outside the public debate confined to the domain of political philosophy. Many associate neoliberalism withRonald Reagan supporter Milton Friedman and the 'Chicago School', rarely mentioning the political dimension of the economic philosophy and its far-reaching implications for all segments of society. In an article entitled "Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems" The Guardian columnist George Monbiot raised a few basic questions about the degree to which the public is misinformed when it comes to the neoliberal social contract under which society operates.

" Neoliberalism: do you know what it is? Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007-2008, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump. But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has – or had – a name. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly?

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiot

Advocates of neoliberalism, both from the pluralist-social welfare wing and the rightwing populist camp, have succeeded in institutionalizing the new social contract which has transformed the historically classical notion of individual freedombased on the Enlightenment concept of natural rights into freedom of capitalist hegemony over the state and society. Whether operating under the political/ideological umbrella of pluralism-environmentalism in Western nations, combined with some version of a Keynesian social welfare pluralist model, with rightwing populism or authoritarianism in one-party state, political and corporate elites advancing the neoliberal model share the same goal with regard to capital formation and mainstream institutions.

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0896920516668386 ; https://www.counterpunch.org/2015/10/23/culture-of-cruelty-the-age-of-neoliberal-authoritarianism/ ; http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0896920516668386

Weakening the social welfare corporatist state model by reaching political consensus among mainstream political parties by the late 1980s-early 1990s, whether operating under a centrist-pluralist or conservative party, neoliberals have been using the combination of massive deregulation with the state providing a bailout mechanism when crisis hits; fiscal policy that transfers income from workers and the middle class – raising the public debt to transfer wealth from the bottom 90% to the wealthiest 10% -; providing corporate subsidies and bailouts; and privatizing public projects and services at an immense cost to the declining living standards for the middle class and workers.

As much in the US as in other developed nations beginning in the 1980s, the neoliberal state has become status quo by intentionally weakening the social welfare state and redefining the social contract throughout the world. Working with large banks and multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank that use loans as leverage to impose neoliberal policies around the world in debtor nations desperate to raise capital for the state and attract direct foreign investment, the advanced capitalist countries impose the neoliberal social contract on the world.

As reflected in the integrated global economy, the neoliberal model was imbedded in IMF stabilization and World Bank development loans since the late 1940s. After the energy crisis of the mid-1970s and the revolutions in Iran and Nicaragua in 1979, international developments that took place amid US concerns about the economy under strain from rising balance payments deficits that could not accommodate both 'military Keynesianism' (deficit spending on defense as a means of boosting the economy) and the social welfare system, neoliberalism under the corporate welfare state emerged as the best means to continue strengthening capitalism. (J. M. Cypher, "From Military Keynesianism to Global-Neoliberal Militarism" , Monthly Review Vol. 59, No. 2, 2007; Jason Hickel, A Short History ofNeoliberalism ,

http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/a_short_history_of_neoliberalism_and_how_we_can_fix_it

Everything from government agencies whose role is strengthening capital, to public schools and hospitals emulating the market-based management model and treating patients and students as customers, the neoliberal goal is comprehensive market domination of society. Advocates of the neoliberal social contract no longer conceal their goals behind rhetoric about liberal-democratic ideals of individual freedom and the state as an arbiter to harmonize the interests of social classes. The market unequivocally imposes its hegemony not just over the state but on all institutions, subordinating peoples' lives to market forces and equating those forces with democracy and national sovereignty. In pursuit of consolidating the neoliberal model on a world scale, the advocates of this ideology subordinate popular sovereignty and popular consent from which legitimacy of the state emanates to capital. http://www.rhizomes.net/issue10/introren.htm

As an integral part of the social environment and hegemonic culture reflecting the hierarchical class structure and values based on marginalization, the neoliberal social contract has become institutionalized in varying degrees reflecting the more integrative nature of capitalism after the fall of the Communist bloc coinciding with China's increased global economic integration. Emboldened that there was no competing ideology from any government challenging capitalism, neoliberals aggressively pursued globalization under the deregulation-corporate welfare anti-labor model.

Some countries opted for mixed policies with a dose of quasi-statist policies as in the case of China. Others retained many aspects of the social welfare state as in the case of EU members, while some pursue authoritarian capitalism within a pluralistic model. Still other nations in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia where pluralism and multi-party traditions are not very strong, neoliberal policies are tailored to clientist politics and crony capitalism. In all cases, 'market omnipotence theory' is the catalyst under the umbrella of the neoliberal social contract.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/11/12/the-mother-of-all-experiments-in-authoritarian-capitalism-is-about-to-begin/

Ideology, the Neoliberal State, and the Social Contract

Just as religion was universally intertwined with identity, projection of self-image in the community and the value system in the Age of Faith (500-1500), secular ideology in the modern world fulfills somewhat a similar goal. Although neoliberalism has been criticized as a secular religion precisely because of its dogmatism regarding market fundamentalism, especially after 2013 when Pope Francis dismissed it as idolatry of money that attempts to gloss over abject socioeconomic inequality on a world scale, capitalistsand the political class around the world have embraced some aspects if not wholeheartedly neoliberal ideology. https://economicsociology.org/2014/12/25/pope-francis-against-neoliberalism-finance-capitalism-consumerism-and-inequality/

In the early 21 st century arguments equating the rich with societal progress and vilifying the poor as social stigma indicative of individual failure are no different than arguments raised by apologists of capitalism in the early 19 th century when the British Parliament was debating how to punish the masses of poor that the industrial revolution had created. In defending tax cuts to the wealthy, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley stated: "I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing -- as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it's on booze or women or movies." https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/grassley-estate-taxes-booze-women_us_5a247d89e4b03c44072e5a04 ; The US senator's argument could easily be heard in early 19 th century England. Blaming the poor for structural poverty which capitalism causes has become widespreadsince the early 1980s. This is because of government efforts to dismantle the welfare state as a social safety net and transfer resources for tax cuts to the wealthiest individuals. https://www.globalresearch.ca/blaming-the-poor-for-poverty/535675

Rooted in classical liberal ideology, neoliberalism rests on laissez-faire and social Darwinist principles that affirm societal progress as defined by materialist self-interest. Because private financial gain is the sole measure of success and virtue, neoliberals demand that the state and international organizations must remove impediments to capital accumulationnationally and internationally no matter the consequences to the non-propertied classes. Aiming for more than mere mechanical compliance, the goal of the ideology is to create the illusion of the neoliberal self that lives, breathes, and actualizes neoliberal myths in every aspect of life from a person as a worker to consumer and citizen.

Jim Mcguigan argues that "the transition from organised capitalism to neoliberal hegemony over the recent period has brought about a corresponding transformation in subjectivity. Leading celebrities, most notably high-tech entrepreneurs, for instance, operate in the popular imagination as models of achievement for the aspiring young. They are seldom emulated in real life, however, even unrealistically so. Still, their famed lifestyles and heavily publicised opinions provide guidelines to appropriate conduct in a ruthlessly competitive and unequal world." (Jim McGuigan: 'The Neoliberal Self',Culture Unbound, Volume 6, 2014; http://www.cultureunbound.ep.liu.se/v6/a13/cu14v6a13.pdf

By offering the illusion of integration to those that the social structure has marginalized while trying to indoctrinate the masses that the corporate state is salvation and the welfare state is the enemy to default all of society's problems, the neoliberal ideology has captured the imagination of many in the middle class and even some in the working class not just in the West but around the world and especially in former Communist bloc countries where people entertained an idealized version of bourgeois liberal society. (S. Gill, "Pessimism of Intelligence, Optimism of Will" in Perspectives on Gramsci , ed. by Joseph Francene 2009)

Similar to liberalism in so far as it offers something for which to hope, neoliberalism is a departure when it decries the state as an obstacle to capitalist growth not only because of regulatory mechanisms and as an arbiter in society that must placate the masses with social programs, but even as a centralized entity determining monetary and fiscal policy. Proponents of neoliberalism demand turning back the clock to the ideology that prevailed among capitalists and their political supporters at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution when there were no state mechanisms to regulate labor conditions, mining operations and the environment, food and drugs, etc. From a dogmatic market fundamentalist perspective, the market transcends national borders and supersedes the state, thus the principal form of governance revolves around furthering capital accumulation.

Not only is there an absence of a social conscience not so different than what prevailed in the nascent phase of industrial capitalism, but there is disdain of social responsibility on the part of capital beyond the realm of tax-deductible charity donations and voluntarism. More significant, neoliberals believe that capital is entitled to appropriate whatever possible from society because the underlying assumption of corporate welfare entitlement is built into the neoliberal ideology that identifies the national interest with capital and labor as the enemy of capital accumulation. (K. Farnsworth, Social vs. Corporate Welfare , 2012)

The irony in all of this is that in 2008 the world experienced the largest and deepest recession since the 1930s precisely because of neoliberal policies. However, its advocates insisted that the recession was causedwe did not have enough deregulation, privatization, corporate welfare and low taxes on capital rather than going too far with such an extreme ideology whose legal and illegal practices that led to the global recession. Even more ironic neoliberal ideology blames the state – central banks, legislative branch and regulatory agencies – rather than the economic system for the cyclical crisis. https://cgd.leeds.ac.uk/events/2008-global-financial-crisis-in-a-long-term-perspective-the-failure-of-neo-liberalism-and-the-future-of-capitalism-2/

Because the state puts the interests of a tiny percentage of the population above the rest of society, it is a necessary structure only in so far as it limits its role to promoting capital formation by using any means to achieve the goal. Whether under a pluralistic-diversity political model or an authoritarian one, neoliberalism is anti-democratic because as Riad Azar points out, "The common denominator is the empowering of elites over the masses with the assistance of international forces through military action or financial coercion -- a globalized dialectic of ruling classes."

http://newpol.org/content/neoliberalism-austerity-and-authoritarianism

From conservative and liberal to self-described Socialist, political parties around the world have moved ideologically farther to the right in order to accommodate neoliberalism as part of their platform. The challenge of the political class is to keep people loyal to the neoliberal ideology; a challenge that necessarily forces political parties to be eclectic in choosing aspects of other ideological camps that appeal to voters. While embracing corporate welfare, decrying social welfare is among the most glaring neoliberal contradiction of an ideology that ostensibly celebrates non-state intervention in the private sector. This contradiction alone forces neoliberal politicians of all stripes and the media to engage in mass distraction and to use everything from identity politics ideologies to cult of personality,and culture wars and 'clash of civilization' theories. https://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/How-the-Democrats-Became-The-Party-of-Neoliberalism-20141031-0002.html ; https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/paul-emery/why-on-earth-would-socialists-support-neoliberal-undemocratic-eu

To justify why self-proclaimed socialist and democratic parties have embraced neoliberalism, many academics have provided a wide range of theories which have in fact helped solidify the neoliberal ideology into the political mainstream. Among the countless people swept up by the enthusiasm of the Communist bloc's fall and China's integration into the world capitalist economy, Daniel Bell, The End of Ideology (2000), argued that the world returned to old religious and ethnic conflicts around which ideologies of the new century were molded.

Encouraged by China's integration into the global capitalist system, in September 2006 Bell wrote : "It's the end of ideology in China. Not the end of all ideology, but the end of Marxist ideology. China has many social problems, but the government and its people will deal with them in pragmatic ways, without being overly constrained by ideological boundaries. I still think there's a need for a moral foundation for political rule in China – some sort of guiding ideal for the future – but it won't come from Karl Marx." https://prezi.com/kha1ketnfjtd/ideology-in-everyday-life/

Such hasty pronouncements and others in works like Francis Fukuyama's The End of History expressed the Western bourgeois sense of relief of an integrated world under the Western-dominated neoliberal ideology that would somehow magically solve problems the Cold War had created. While Bell, Fukuyama and others celebrated the triumphant era of neoliberal ideology, they hardly dealt with the realities that ideology in peoples' lives emanates from mainstream institutions manifesting irreconcilable contradictions. A product molded by the hegemonic political culture, neoliberal ideology has been a factor in keeping the majority in conformity while a small minority is constantly seeking outlets of social resistance, some within the neoliberal rightwing political mold. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/21/bring-back-ideology-fukuyama-end-history-25-years-on

As catalyst to mobilize the masses, nationalism remains a strong aspect of ideological indoctrination that rightwing populist neoliberals have used blaming immigrants, Muslims, women, gays, environmentalists, and minorities for structural problems society confronts resulting from the political economy. Although there are different political approaches about how best to achieve neoliberal goals, ideological indoctrination has always played an essential role in keeping people loyal to the social contract. However, the contradiction in neoliberal ideology is the need for a borderless world and the triumph of capital over the nation-state while state policies harmonize disparate capitalist interests within the nation-state and beyond it. If neoliberal ideology tosses aside nationalism then it deprives itself of a mechanism to mobilize the masses behind it. https://left-flank.org/2011/01/16/the-curious-marriage-of-neoliberalism-and-nationalism/

Arguing that the 'Ideological State Apparatuses' (ISA) such as religious and educational institutions among others in the private sector perpetuate the ideology of the status quo, Louis Pierre Althusser captured the essence of state mechanisms to mobilize the masses. However, ideology is by no means the sole driving force in keeping people loyal to the social contract. While peoples' material concerns often dictate their ideological orientation, it would be hasty to dismiss the role of the media along with hegemonic cultural influences deeply ingrained into society shaping peoples' worldview and keeping them docile.

Building on Althusser's theory of how the state maintains the status quo, Goran Therborn ( Ideology of Power and the Power of Ideology , 1999) argues that the neoliberal state uses ideological domination as a mechanism to keep people compliant. Combined with the state's repressive mechanisms – police and armed forces – the ideological apparatus engenders conformity wherein exploitation and repression operate within the boundaries that the state defines as 'legal', thus 'normal' for society. A desirable goal of regimes ranging from parliamentary to Mussolini's Fascist Italy (1922-1943) and clerical Fascism under Antonio de Oliveira Salazar's Portugal (1932-1968), legalized repressive mechanisms have become an integral part of neoliberal ideological domination.

( http://notevenpast.org/louis-althusser-on-interpellation-and-the-ideological-state apparatus/ ; https://isreview.org/issue/99/althussers-theory-ideology ; Jules Boykoff, "Limiting Dissent: The Mechanisms of State Repression in the USA" Social Movement Studies," Vo. 6, No 3, 2007)

It is part of the neoliberal ideology that markets dictate the lives of people in every respect from cradle to grave where self and identity are inexorably intertwined. Striving to determine public policy in all its phases of the individual\s life, of localities, nationally and internationally, the market has no other means to retain hegemony in society and pursue capital formation with the fewest possible obstacles. Neoliberals justify such an ideology on the basis that modernization of society transcends not just social justice but societal collective welfare when measured against private gain. https://www.salon.com/2016/03/27/good_riddance_gig_economy_uber_ayn_rand_and_the_awesome_collapse_of_silicon_valleys_dream_of_destroying_your_job/ ; https://www.greeneuropeanjournal.eu/neoliberalism-has-eviscerated-the-fabric-of-social-life/

The unchecked role of neoliberal capitalism in every aspect of the social fabric runs the risk of at the very least creating massive social, economic and political upheaval as was the case with the great recession of 2008 preceded by two decades of neoliberal capitalism taking precedence over the welfare regulatory state whose role is to secure and/or retain equilibrium in global markets. In The Great Transformation , (1944)", Karl Polanyi argued that: "To allow the market mechanism to be sole director of the fate of human beings and their natural environment would result in the demolition of society."

Because Polanyi lived through the Great Depression era of the New Deal and the rise and fall of the Axis Powers, he was optimistic that a return to the 1920s would not take root after WWII. Polanyi accepted Hegel's view of the social contract that the state preserves society by safeguarding general or universal interests against particular ones. However, we have been witnessing the kind of demolition of society Polanyi feared because of unchecked market forces. This is in part because the demise of the Communist bloc and the rise of China as a major economic power emboldened advocates of neoliberal ideology.

With the realization of US long road to decline at the end of the Vietnam War, neoliberal elites prevailed that the crisis of American leadership could be met with the elimination of Keynesian ideology and the adoption of neoliberalism as tested by the Chicago School in Chile under the US-backed dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet from 1973 to 1990. That the neoliberal ideology became an experiment tested in a US-backed military dictatorship in South America is itself revealing about what the nature of the social contract once implemented even in pluralistic societies where there was popular and political support for Keynesianism. Characteristic of a developing nation like Chile was external dependence and a weak state structure, thus easily manipulated by domestic and foreign capital interested in deregulation and further weakening of the public sector as the core of the social contract.

https://www.thenation.com/article/the-chicago-boys-in-chile-economic-freedoms-awful-toll/ ; https://www.salon.com/2010/03/02/chicago_boys_and_the_chilean_earthquake/

"The withering away of national states and the wholesale privatization of state-owned enterprises and state-administered services transferred highly profitable monopolies to capitalists, and guaranteed the repayment of the foreign debt-contracted, as in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay-by irresponsible, corrupt, and de facto military rulers. Neoliberalism supplied the general justification for the transfer of public assets and state-owned enterprises, paid for with public savings, even in areas considered "taboo" and untouchable until a few years ago, such as electricity, aviation, oil, or telecommunications. (Atilio A. Boron, "Democracy or Neoliberalism?" http://bostonreview.net/archives/BR21.5/boron.html

Advocating the systematic dismantling of the social welfare state in the name of upholding the virtues of individualism while strengthening of corporate welfare capitalism in the name of economic growth on global scale, advocates of neoliberal ideology were emboldened by the absence of a competing ideology after the fall of the Soviet bloc and China's capitalist integration. As the income gap widened and globalization resulted in surplus labor force amid downward pressure on wages, a segment of the social and political elites embraced a rightwing populist ideology as a means of achieving the neoliberal goals in cases where the pluralist ideological model was not working. The failure of neoliberal policies led some political and business elites to embrace rightwing populism in order to save neoliberalism that had lost support among a segment of society because of its association with centrist and reformist cultural-diversity pluralist neoliberals. This trend continues to gain momentum exposing the similarities between neoliberalism and Fascism. (David Zamora, "When Exclusion Replaces Exploitation: The Condition of the Surplus-Population under Neoliberalism" http://nonsite.org/feature/when-exclusion-replaces-exploitation .

Neoliberalism and Fascism

  1. The role of the state

Unprecedented for a former president, on 10 December 2017 Barak Obama warned Americans not to follow a Nazi path. A clear reference to president Trump and the Republican Party leading America in that direction with rhetoric and policies that encourage 'culture war' ( kulturkampf – struggle between varieties of rightwingers from evangelicals to neo-Nazis against secular liberals), Obama made reference to socioeconomic polarization at the root of political polarization.

"The combination of economic disruption, cultural disruption ― nothing feels solid to people ― that's a recipe for people wanting to find security somewhere. And sadly, there's something in all of us that looks for simple answers when we're agitated and insecure. The narrative that America at its best has stood for, the narrative of pluralism and tolerance and democracy and rule of law, human rights and freedom of the press and freedom of religion, that narrative, I think, is actually the more powerful narrative. The majority of people around the world aspire to that narrative, which is the reason people still want to come here." https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/obama-warns-americans-against-following-in-the-path-of-nazi germany_us_5a2c032ce4b0a290f0512487

Warning about the road to Nazism, Obama drew distinctions between the Democratic Party's brand of pluralist neoliberalism and Trump's rightwing populist model. Naturally, Obama did not mention that both models seek the same goals, or that policies for which he and his predecessor Bill Clinton pursued drove a segment of the population toward the authoritarian neoliberal model that offers the illusion of realizing the American Dream. Distancing themselves from neo-Fascists, mainstream European political leaders embracing the pluralist model under neoliberalism have been as condemnatory as Obama of rightwing populism's pursuit of 'culture war' as a precursor to Fascism.

Accusing Trump of emboldening varieties of neo-Fascists not just in the US and EU but around the globe, European neoliberal pluralists ignored both the deep roots of Fascism in Europe and their own policies contributing to the rise of neo-Fascism. Just as with Obama and his fellow Democrats, European neoliberal pluralists draw a very sharp distinction between their version of neoliberalism and rightwing populism that either Trump or Hungary's Viktor Orban pursue. Neoliberal pluralists argue that rightwing populists undercut globalist integration principles by stressing economic nationalism although it was right nationalists Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan that engaged in wholesale implantation of neoliberal policies. https://bpr.berkeley.edu/2017/02/28/the-myths-of-far-right-populism-orbans-fence-and-trumps-wall/

Rightwing populism under Ronald Reagan as the first president to implement neoliberal policies emerged as a reaction to the prospect that the Western-basedcore of capitalism was weakening as a result of a multi-polar world economy. Whereas in the middle of the 20 th century the US enjoyed balance of payments surpluses and was a net creditor with the dollar as the world's strongest reserve currency and the world's strongest manufacturing sector, in 2017 the US is among the earth's largest debtor nations with chronic balance of payments deficits, a weak dollar with a bleak future and an economy based more on parasitic financial speculation and massive defense-related spending and less on productive sectors that are far more profitable in Asia and developing nations with low labor costs. (Jon Kofas, Independence from America: Global Integration and Inequality , 2005, 40-54)

Exerting enormous influence by exporting its neoliberal ideological, political, economic and cultural influence throughout the world, the US-imposed transformation model has resulted in economic hardships and political and social instability in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Institutionalizing neoliberalism under rightwing populism and using Trump as the pretext to do so, the US is leading nations around the world to move closer to neo-Fascism, thus exposing neoliberalism as totalitarian.The recognition by the political class and business class that over-accumulation is only possible by continued downward wage pressure has been a key reason that a segment of the population not just in the US but across EU has supported populist rightwing and/or neo-fascists.

https://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2015/01/24/exporting-fascism-us-imperialism-in-latin-america/ ; https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/feb/03/americanism-us-writers-imagine-fascist-future-fiction ; http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Corporatism/neofascism.shtml ; Bertram Gross, Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America , 1999.

Rejecting the claim of any similarities between neoliberalism and Fascism, neoliberal apologists take pride that their apparent goal is to weaken the state, by which they mean the Keynesian welfare state, not the 'military Keynesian' and corporate welfare state. By contrast, Fascists advocated a powerful state – everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state. American neoliberals of both the pluralist and rightwing camps have created a societal model not just in one nation like Mussolini and Hitler but globally with the result of: "everything within neoliberalism, nothing against neoliberalism, nothing outside neoliberalism.

Neoliberal totalitarianism finds different expression in the US than in India, in Hungary than in Israel. In " Neoliberal Fascism: Free Markets and the Restructuring of Indian Capitalism," Shankar Gopalakrishnan observed that exclusive Hindu nationalism has been the catalyst for rightwing neoliberalism to mobilize popular support. "Hindutva [ a term coined by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 1923 to assert exclusive Hindu dominance] is seen as an effort by neoliberalism, or perhaps more broadly by capitalism, to divert attention from class conflict, to divide and weaken working class struggles and to deflect class-driven anxieties on to minority communities. This approach is problematic in two senses. First, it does not explain why Hindutva organisations are able to develop a mass base, except to the extent that they are seen to be appealing to "historical identity" or "emotive" issues. The state exists only as the expression and guarantor of a collectivity founded around a transcendent principle : The ideal state is the guarantor of the Hindu rashtra, a "nation" that exists as an organic and harmonious unity between "Hindus."

https://mronline.org/2008/11/14/neoliberalism-and-hindutva-fascism-free-markets-and-the-restructuring-of-indian-capitalism/

Whereas under Ronald Reagan's neoliberal populist policies (Reaganism) under a rightwing political umbrella the state structure was strengthened in the US, in the process of implementing neoliberal policies state bureaucratic functions have been outsourced to private companies thus keeping with the spirit of corporate-welfare goals. Other countries followed a path similar to the one of the US. Contrary to the claims of many neoliberal scholars, politicians and commentators, neoliberalism has not weakened the state simply because the ideology lays claims to a hegemonic private sector and weak state. It is true that the Keynesian-welfare state structure has been weakened while the corporate-welfare-militarist-police-state structure has been strengthened. However, in the less developed capitalist countries the public sector has weakened as a result of the US and EU imposing the neoliberal model which drains the public sector of any leverage in stimulating economic and social development investment because of the transfer of public assets and public services to the private sector.( http://jgu.edu.in/article/indias-neoliberal-path-perdition ; Monica Prasad, The Politics of Free Markets , 2006)

Gaspar Miklos Tamas, a Romanian political philosopher of the George Lukacs-inspired Budapest School, argues that global division of labor in the neoliberal era has not only resulted in wealth transfer from the bottom up but it has diminished national sovereignty and citizenship for those in less developed (periphery) nations. "The new dual sate is alive and well: Normative State for the core populations of the capitalist center, and another State of arbitrary decrees for the non-citizens who are the rest. Unlike in classical fascism, this second State is only dimly visible from the first. The radical critique protesting that liberty within the Normative State is an illusion, although understandable, is erroneous. The denial of citizenship based not on exploitation, oppression and straightforward discrimination, but on mere exclusion and distance, is difficult to grasp, because the mental habits of liberation struggle for a more just redistribution of goods and powers are not applicable. The problem is not that the Normative State is becoming more authoritarian: rather, that it belongs only to a few." https://www.opendemocracy.net/people-newright/article_306.jsp

If the normative state is the domain of the very few with the rest under the illusion of inclusion, Miklos Tamas concludes that we are living in a global post-fascist era which is not the same as the interwar totalitarian model based on a mass movement of Fascism. Instead, neoliberal totalirarianism categorically rejects the Enlightenment tradition of citizenship which is the very essence of the bourgeois social contract. While the normative state in advanced countries is becoming more authoritarian with police-state characteristics, the state in the periphery whether Eastern Europe, Latin America or Africa is swept along by neoliberal policies that drive it toward authoritarianism as much as the state in Trump's America as in parts of Europe to the degree that in January 2018 Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) faced the prospect either of new elections or entering into a coalition with the neo-Nazi Alternative fur Deutchalnd (AfD). https://www.prosper.org.au/2010/05/25/the-counter-enlightenment/

The rightwing course of the Western World spreading into the rest of the world is not only because of IMF austerity used as leverage to impose neoliberalism in developing nations. Considering that countries have been scrambling to attract foreign investment which carries neoliberal policies of deregulation, privatization, weak trade unions and low taxes as a precondition, the entire world economic system is the driving force toward a form of totalitarianism. As Miklos Tamas argues, this has diluted national sovereignty of weaker countries, allowing national capitalists and especially multinational corporations to play a determining role in society against the background of a weak state structure. Along with weakened national sovereignty, national citizenship in turn finds expression in extreme rightwing groups to compensate for loss of independence as the bourgeois social contract presumably guarantees. (Aihwa Ong, Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty , 2006; http://www.e-ir.info/2012/08/22/globalization-does-not-entail-the-weakening-of-the-liberal-state/

It is undeniable that there is a qualitative difference in Berlin and Rome under neoliberal regimes today than it was under Fascism. It would be a mistake to lump a contemporary neoliberal society together with the Third Reich and Fascist Italy, a dreadful and costly mistake that Stalinists made in the 1930s. Interwar totalitarianism existed under one-party state with a popular base operating as a police state. Although many countries under varieties of neoliberal regimes have an electoral system of at least two parties alternating power, the ruling parties pursue neoliberal policies with variations on social and cultural issues (identity politics), thus operating within the same policy framework impacting peoples' living standards.

Not just leftist academic critics, but even the progressive democratic Salon magazine recognized during the US election of 2016 that the neoliberal state would prevail regardless of whether Trump or Clinton won the presidential contest. " Neoliberalism presumes a strong state, working only for the benefit of the wealthy, and as such it has little pretence to neutrality and universality, unlike the classical liberal state. I would go so far as to say that neoliberalism is the final completion of capitalism's long-nascent project, in that the desire to transform everything -- every object, every living thing, every fact on the planet -- in its image had not been realized to the same extent by any preceding ideology.

https://www.salon.com/2016/06/06/this_is_our_neoliberal_nightmare_hillary_clinton_donald_trump_and_why_the_market_and_the_wealthy_win_every_time/

In neoliberal society either of the pluralist-diversity or of the authoritarian political camp there are elements of polizeistaat though not nearly full blown as in the Third Reich. While conformity to the status quo and self-censorship is the only way to survive, modern means of communication and multiple dissident outlets attacking the status quo from the right, which is far more pervasive and socio-politically acceptable than doing so from the left, has actually facilitated the evolution of the new totalitarian state. http://www.thegreatregression.eu/progressive-neoliberalism-versus-reactionary-populism-a-hobsons-choice/

Whereas big business collaborated closely with Fascist dictators from the very beginning to secure the preeminence of the existing social order threatened by the crisis of democracy created by capitalism, big business under the neoliberal social contract has the same goal, despite disagreement on the means of forging political consensus. Partly because neoliberalism carries the legacy of late 19 th century liberalism and operates in most countries within the parliamentary system, and partly because of fear of grassroots social revolution, a segment of the capitalist class wants to preserve the democratic façade of the neoliberal social contract by perpetuating identity politics. In either case, 'economic fascism' as the essence of neoliberalism, or post-fascism as Miklos Tamas calls it, is an inescapable reality. (Andrea Micocci and Flavia Di Mario, The Fascist Nature of Neoliberalism , 2017).

In distinguishing the composition and goals of theparliamentary state vs. the Fascist one-party state, Italian Fascism's theoretician Giovanni Gentile characterizedit as 'totalitario'; a term also applied to Germany's Third Reich the latter which had the added dimension of anti-Semitism as policy. Arguing that ideology in the Fascist totalitarian state had a ubiquitous role in every aspect of life and power over people, Gentile and Mussolini viewed such state as the catalyst to a powerful nation-state that subordinates all institutions and the lives of citizens to its mold. In "La Dottrina del Fascismo" (Gentile and Mussolini, 1932), Musolini made famous the statement: "Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state," although Hitler's polizeistaat was more totalitarian because it had the means to achieve policy goals stated in Mein Kampf .

The convergence of neoliberalism and Fascism is hardly surprising when one considers that both aim at a totalitarian society of different sorts, one of state-driven ideology and the other market-driven with the corporate welfare state behind it. In some respects, Sheldon Wolin's the "inverted totalitarianism" theory places this issue into another perspective, arguing that despite the absence of a dictator the corporate state behind the façade of 'electoral democracy' is an instrument of totalitarianism. Considering the increased role of security-intelligence-surveillance agencies in a presumably open society, it is not difficult to see that society has more illiberal than classic liberal traits. Sheldon Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, 2008)

More powerful than the Axis Powers combined, American "Inverted totalitarianism" was internationalized during the Cold War and became more blatant during the war on terror, in large measure used as a pretext to impose neoliberalism in the name of national security. As the police-state gradually became institutionalized in every respect from illegal surveillance of citizens to suppressing dissent to the counterterrorism-neoliberal regime, it was becoming clearer to many scholars that a version of fascism was emerging in the US which also sprang up around the world. (Charlotte Heath-Kelly et al. eds., Neoliberalism and Terror: Critical Engagements , 2016; https://deeppoliticsforum.com/forums/showthread.php?15074-Chris-Hedges-The-Great-Unraveling-USA-on-the-brink-of-neo-fascist-police-state#.WifwyLBrzIU

Almost a century after the era of Fascist totalitarianism that led to WWII, the transition of capitalism's global structure with a shifting core from the US and northwest Europe to East Asia has entailed intense global competition for capital accumulation to the degree that the advanced countries have been pushing living standards downward to compete with low-wage global markets. The process of draining greater surplus value from labor especially from the periphery countries where IMF-style austerity policies have resulted in massive capital transfer to the core countries has taken place under the neoliberal social contract that has striking similarities with Fascism.

Backed by the state in the advanced capitalist countries, international organizations among them the IMF have been promoting economic fascism under the label of 'neoliberal reforms', thus molding state structures accordingly. Neoliberal totalitarianism is far more organized and ubiquitous than interwar Fascism not only because of the strong national state structure of core countries and modern technology and communications networks that enables surveillance and impose subtle forms of indoctrination, but also because the international agencies established by the US under the Bretton Woods system help to impose policies and institutions globally.

  1. Characteristics of the Illiberal Neoliberal Society

The genesis of illiberal politics can be traced back to the end of WWI when Europeans witnessed the unraveling of the rationalist order of the Enlightenment rooted in Lockean liberalism. Influenced by the wars of imperialism that led the First World War at the end of which Vladimir Lenin led the Bolsheviks to a revolutionary victory over Czarist Russia, Joseph Schumpeter like many European scholars was trying to make sense of how capitalism's forcible geographic expansion (imperialism) led to such global disasters that undermined the rationalist assumptions of the Enlightenment about society and its institutions. In his Sociology of Imperialism (1919), he wrote the following about the relationship of the bourgeoisie with the state.

"The bourgeoisie did not simply supplant the sovereign, nor did it make him its leader, as did the nobility. It merely wrested a portion of its power from him and for the rest submitted to him. It did not take over from the sovereign the state as an abstract form of organization. The state remained a special social power, confronting the bourgeoisie. In some countries it has continued to play that role to the present day. It is in the state that the bourgeoisie with its interests seeks refuge, protection against external and even domestic enemies. The bourgeoisie seeks to win over the state for itself, and in return serves the state and state interests that are different from its own."

The strong state structure of the imperial state that the bourgeoisie supported as a vehicle of expanding their interests globally while maintaining the social order at the national level held true only for the advanced capitalist countries eagerly trying to secure international markets at any cost including armed conflict. While essential for capital integration and expansion, the strong state structure was and remains an anathema to the bourgeoisie, if its role is to make political, economic and social concessions to the laboring and middle classes which are the popular base for bourgeois political parties. While classical liberal theory expresses the interests of capitalism its role is not to serve in furtherance of political equality for the simple reason that capitalism cannot exist under such a regime. Both John Locke and John Stuart Mill rejected political egalitarianism, while Schumpeter viewed democratic society with egalitarianism as an integral part of democracy. Rejecting Locke's and Mill's abstract receptiveness to egalitarianism, neoliberals of either the pluralist or authoritarian camp are blatantly adopt illiberal policies that exacerbate elitism, regardless of the rhetoric they employ to secure mass popular support.

Characterized by elitism, class, gender, racial and ethnic inequality, limits on freedom of expression, on human rights and civil rights, illiberal politics thrives on submission of the masses to the status quo. In his essay The Political Economy of Neoliberalism and Illiberal Democracy, Garry Jacobs, an academic/consultant who still believes in classical liberal economics operating in a pluralistic and preferably non-militaristic society, warns that world-wide democracy is under siege. " Democratic elections have become the means for installing leaders with little respect for democratic values. The tolerance, openness and inclusiveness on which modern democracy is founded are being rejected by candidates and voters in favor of sectarian, parochial fears and interests. The role of the free press as an impartial arbiter of facts is being undermined by the rise of private and public news media conglomerates purveying political preference as fact combined with a blinding blizzard of fake news. Party politics has been polarized into a winner-take-all fight to the finish by vested-interests and impassioned extremist minorities trying to impose their agendas on a complacent majority. Corporate power and money power are transforming representative governments into plutocratic pseudo-democracies. Fundamentalists are seizing the instruments of secular democracy to impose intolerant linguistic, racial and religious homogeneity in place of the principles of liberty and harmonious heterogeneity that are democracy's foundation and pinnacle of achievement."

http://www.cadmusjournal.org/article/volume-3/issue-3/political-economy-neoliberalism-and-illiberal-democracy

While neoliberals in the populist rightwing wholeheartedly share and promote such views, those who embrace the pluralist-identity politics camp are just as supportive of many aspects of the corporate welfare-police-counterterrorism state as a means to engender domestic sociopolitical conformity and to achieve closer global economic integration. The question is not so much what each political camp under the larger neoliberal umbrella pursues as a strategy to mobilize a popular base but whether the economic-social policies intertwined with a corporate-welfare-police-counterterrorism state is the driving force toward a Fascist model of government. In both the pluralist model with some aspects of the social safety net, and the rightwing populist version neoliberalism's goal is rapid capital accumulation on a world scale, institutional submission of the individual and molding the citizen's subjective reality around the neoliberal ideology.

Illiberal politics in our time is partly both symptomatic of and a reaction to neoliberal globalism and culture wars that serve to distract from the intensified class struggle boiling beneath the surface. Rhetorically denouncing globalist neoliberalism, populist rightwing politicians assert the importance of national capitalism but always within the perimeters of neoliberal policies. Hence they co-opt the socio-cultural positions of nationalist extremists as a political strategy to mobilize the masses. Scholars, journalists and politicians have speculated whether the rising tide of rightwing populism pursuing neoliberalism under authoritarian models not just in the Western World, but Eastern Europe, South Asia and Africa reflects the rejection of liberal democracy and the triumph of illiberal politics that best reflects and serves the political economy. Unquestionably, there is a direct correlation between the internationalization of the Western neoliberal transformation model imposed on the world in the post-Soviet era and the rise of rightwing populism reacting to the gap between the promises of what capitalism was supposed to deliver and the reality of downward pressures on living standards. http://www.counterfire.org/interview/18068-india-s-nightmare-the-extremism-of-narendra-modi ; http://ac.upd.edu.ph/index.php/news-announcements/1201-southeast-asian-democracy-neoliberalism-populism-vedi-hadiz ; http://balticworlds.com/breaking-out-of-the-deadlock-of-neoliberalism-vs-rightwing-populism/

Not just the US, but Europe has been flirting with 'illiberal democracy' characterized by strong authoritarian-style elected officials as Garry Jacobs has observed. Amid elections in Bosnia in 1996, US diplomat Richard Holbrooke wondered about the rightwing path of former Yugoslav republics. "Suppose the election was declared free and fair and those elected are "racists, fascists, separatists, who are publicly opposed to [peace and reintegration]. That is the dilemma." Twenty years after what Holbrooke dreaded election outcomes in Yugoslavia, the US elected a rightwing neoliberal populist leading the Republican Party and making culture wars a central theme to distract from the undercurrent class struggle in the country. A structural issue that transcends personalities, this reality in America is symptomatic of the link between neoliberalism and the rise of illiberal democracy in a number of countries around the world. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/1997-11-01/rise-illiberal-democracy

Some political observers analyzing the rightist orientation of neoliberal policies have concluded that neoliberalism and Fascism have more in common than people realize. In 2016, Manuela Cadelli, President of the Magistrates Union of Belgium, wrote a brief article arguing that Neoliberalism is indeed a form of Fascism; a position people seem to be willing to debate after the election of Donald Trump pursuing neoliberal policies with a rightwing populist ideological and cultural platform to keep a popular base loyal to the Republican Party. "Fascism may be defined as the subordination of every part of the State to a totalitarian and nihilistic ideology. I argue that neoliberalism is a species of fascism because the economy has brought under subjection not only the government of democratic countries but also every aspect of our thought. The state is now at the disposal of the economy and of finance, which treat it as a subordinate and lord over it to an extent that puts the common good in jeopardy." http://www.defenddemocracy.press/president-belgian-magistrates-neoliberalism-form-fascism/

It is ironic that neoliberal society is 'a species of fascism', but there no widespread popular opposition from leftist groups to counter it. People remain submissive to the neoliberal state that has in fact eroded much of what many in the pluralist camp hail as liberal democratic institutions. Most adapt to the status quo because to do otherwise means difficulty surviving today just as it was difficult to survive under Fascism for those in opposition; as Palmiro Togliatti noted ( Lectures on Fascism, 1935) when he cautioned about castigating workers who joined the party simply because they placed survival of their family above any progressive ideology. Because evidence of systemic exploitation ingrained into society passes as the 'norm', and partly because repression targets minority groups, migrants, and the working class, especially those backing trade unions and progressive political parties, people support the neoliberal state that they see as the constitutional entity and the only means for survival.

The media, government and mainstream institutions denounce anyone crying out for social justice, human rights and systemic change. Such people are 'trendy rebels', as though social justice is a passing fad like a clothing line, misguided idealists or treasonous criminals. Considering that the corporate-owned and state media validates the legitimacy of the neoliberal social contract, the political class and social elites enjoy the freedom to shape the state's goals in the direction toward a surveillance police-state. All of this goes without notice in the age when it is almost expected because it is defaulted to technology making easy to detect foreign and domestic enemies while using the same technology to shape the citizen's subjective reality.

Partly because of the communications revolution in the digital age, neoliberalism has the ability to mold the citizen beyond loyalty to the social contract not just into mechanical observance but total submission to its institutions by reshaping the person's values and identity. In this respect, neoliberalism is not so different from Fascism whose goal was to mold the citizen. " Neoliberalism has been more successful than most past ideologies in redefining subjectivity, in making people alter their sense of themselves, their personhood, their identities, their hopes and expectations and dreams and idealizations. Classical liberalism was successful too, for two and a half centuries, in people's self-definition, although communism and fascism succeeded less well in realizing the "new man." It cannot be emphasized enough that neoliberalism is not classical liberalism, or a return to a purer version of it, as is commonly misunderstood; it is a new thing, because the market, for one thing, is not at all free and untethered and dynamic in the sense that classical liberalism idealized it.

https://www.salon.com/2016/06/06/this_is_our_neoliberal_nightmare_hillary_clinton_donald_trump_and_why_the_market_and_the_wealthy_win_every_time/

Although people go about their daily lives focused on their interests, they operate against the background of neoliberal institutions that determine their lives in every respect from chatting on their cell phones to how they live despite their illusions of free will. As the world witnessed a segment of the population openly embracing fascism from movement to legitimate political party in interwar Europe, a corresponding rise in racism and ethnocentrism under the umbrella of rightwing neoliberal populism has taken place in the first two decades of the 21 st century.

Representing the UN Human Rights agency, Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad al-Hussein stated that 2016 was disastrous for human rights, as the 'clash of civilizations' construct has become ingrained into the political mainstream in Western countries. "In some parts of Europe, and in the United States, anti-foreigner rhetoric full of unbridled vitriol and hatred, is proliferating to a frightening degree, and is increasingly unchallenged. The rhetoric of fascism is no longer confined to a secret underworld of fascists, meeting in ill-lit clubs or on the 'deep net'. It is becoming part of normal daily discourse." http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/united-nations-chilling-warning-rise-fascism-human-rights-prince-zeid-a7464861.html

Because neoliberalism has pushed all mainstream bourgeois political parties to the right, the far right no longer seems nearly as extreme today as it did during the Vietnam War's protest generation who still had hope for a socially just society even if that meant strengthening the social welfare system. The last two generations were raised knowing no alternative to neoliberalism; the panacea for all that ails society is less social welfare and privatization of public services within the framework of a state structure buttressing corporate welfare. The idea that nothing must be tolerated outside the hegemonic market and all institutions must mirror the neoliberal model reflects a neo-totalitarian society where sociopolitical conformity follows because survival outside the system is not viable.

Although Western neoconservatives have employed the term 'neo-totalitarian' to describe Vladimir Putin's Russia, the term applies even more accurately to the US and someEuropean nations operating under neoliberal-military-police state structures with as much power than the Russian bureaucratic state has at its disposal.The contradiction of neoliberalism rests in the system's goal of integrating everyone into the neo-totalitarian mold. Because of the system's inherent hierarchical structure, excluding most from the institutional mainstream and limiting popular sovereignty to the elites exposes the exploitation and repression goals that account for the totalitarian nature of the system masquerading as democratic where popular sovereignty is diffused. The seemingly puzzling aspect of the rise in rightwing populism across the globe that rests in marginalization of a segment of the population and the support for it not just from certain wealthy individuals financing extremist movements, but from a segment of the middle class and even working class lining up behind it because they see their salvation with the diminution of weaker social groups. This pattern was also evident in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and pro-Nazi authoritarian regimes of the interwar era. https://www.demdigest.org/neo-totalitarian-russia-potent-existential-threat-west/ ; Benjamin Moffitt, The Global Rise of Populism (2017.

Because of contradictions in bourgeois liberal democracy where capital accumulation at any social cost is the goal, the system produced the current global wave of rightwing populism just as capitalism in the interwar era gave rise to Fascism. As one analyst put it, " The risk democratic formations continually face is internal disintegration such that the heterogeneous elements of the social order not only fail to come together within some principle of or for unity, but actively turn against one another. In this case, a totally unproductive revolution takes place. Rather than subversion of the normative order causing suffering, rebellion or revolution that might establish a new nomos of shared life as a way of establishing a new governing logic, the dissociated elements of disintegrating democratic formations identify with the very power responsible for their subjection–capital, the state and, the strong leader. Thus the possibility of fascism is not negated in neoliberal formations but is an ever present possibility arising within it. Because the value of the social order as such is never in itself sufficient to maintain its own constitution, it must have recourse to an external value, which is the order of the sacred embodied by the sovereign. http://readersupportednews.org/pm-section/78-78/41987-neoliberalism-fascism-and-sovereignty /

Public opinion surveys of a number of countries around the world, including those in the US, indicated that most people do not favor the existing social contract rooted in neoliberal policies that impact everything from living standards and labor policy to the judicial system and foreign affairs. Instead of driving workers toward a leftwing revolutionary path, many support rightwing populism that has resulted in the rise of even greater oppression and exploitation. Besides nationalism identified with the powerful elites as guardians of the national interest, many among the masses believe that somehow the same social contract responsible for existing problems will provide salvation they seek. While widespread disillusionment with neoliberal globalization seems to be at the core in the rise of rightwing populism, the common denominator is downward social mobility. (Doug Miller, Can the World be Wrong ? 2015)

As Garry Jacobs argues, "Even mature democracies show signs of degenerating into their illiberal namesakes. The historical record confirms that peaceful, prosperous, free and harmonious societies can best be nurtured by the widest possible distribution of all forms of power -- political, economic, educational, scientific, technological and social -- to the greatest extent to the greatest number. The aspiration for individual freedom can only be realized and preserved when it is married with the right to social equality. The mutual interdependence of the individual and the collective is the key to their reconciliation and humanity's future. http://www.cadmusjournal.org/article/volume-3/issue-3/political-economy-neoliberalism-and-illiberal-democracy

Just as in the interwar era when many Europeans lost confidence in the rationalism of the Enlightenment and lapsed into amorality and alienation that allowed for even greater public manipulation by the hegemonic culture, in the early 21 st the neoliberal social contract with a complex matrix of communications at its disposal is able to indoctrinate on a mass scale more easily than ever. Considering the low level of public trust in the mainstream media that most people regardless of political/ideological position view as propaganda rather than informational, cynicism about national and international institutions prevails. As the fierce struggle for power among mainstream political parties competing to manage the state on behalf of capital undercuts the credibility of the political class, rightwing elements enter the arena as 'outsider' messiahs above politics (Bonapartism in the 21 st century) to save the nation, while safeguarding the neoliberal social contract. This is as evident in France where the pluralist political model of neoliberalism has strengthened the neo-Fascist one that Marine Le Pen represents, as in Trump's America where the Democratic Party's neoliberal policies helped give rise to rightwing populism.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/macronism-neoliberal-triumph-or-next-stage-in-frances-political-crisis/5596722 ; https://socialistworker.org/2016/12/05/the-18th-brumaire-of-trump

As the following article in The Economist points out, widespread disillusionment with globalist neoliberal policies drove people to the right for an enemy to blame for all the calamities that befall society. " Beset by stagnant wage growth, less than half of respondents in America, Britain and France believe that globalisation is a "force for good" in the world. Westerners also say the world is getting worse. Even Americans, generally an optimistic lot, are feeling blue: just 11% believe the world has improved in the past year. The turn towards nationalism is especially pronounced in France, the cradle of liberty. Some 52% of the French now believe that their economy should not have to rely on imports, and just 13% reckon that immigration has a positive effect on their country. France is divided as to whether or not multiculturalism is something to be embraced. Such findings will be music to the ears of Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, France's nationalist, Eurosceptic party. Current (and admittedly early) polling has her tied for first place in the 2017 French presidential race. https://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2016/11/daily-chart-12

Similar to deep-rooted cultural and ideological traits of Nazism in German society, there are similar traits in contemporary US, India and other countries where rightwing populism has found a receptive public. Although there are varieties of populism from Lepenism (Marine Le Pen's National Front) to Trumpism (US Republican Donald Trump) to Modism (India's Narendra Modi), they share common characteristics, including cult of personality as a popular rallying catalyst, promoting hatred and marginalization of minority groups, and promising to deliver a panacea to "society" when in fact their policies are designed to strengthen big capital.

Rightwing populist politicians who pursue neoliberal policies are opportunistically pushing the political popular base toward consolidation of a Fascist movement and often refer to themselves as movement rather than a party. Just as there were liberals who refused to accept the imminent rise of Fascism amid the parliamentary system's collapse in the 1920s, there are neoliberals today who refuse to accept that the global trend of populism is a symptom of failed neoliberalism that has many common characteristics with Fascism. In an article entitled "Populism is not Fascism: But it could be a Harbinger" by Sheri Berman, the neoliberal journal Foreign Affairs , acknowledged that liberal bourgeois democracy is losing its luster around the world. However, the author would not go as far as to examine the structural causes for this phenomenon because to do so would be to attack the social contract within which it operates. Treating rightwing populism as though it is a marginal outgrowth of mainstream conservatism and an aberration rather than the outgrowth of the system's core is merely a thinly veiled attempt to defend the status quo of which rightwing populism is an integral part.

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2016-10-17/populism-not-fascism

Structural Exploitation under the Neoliberal Social Contract

Structural exploitation – "a property of institutions or systems in which the "rules of the game" unfairly benefit one group of people to the detriment of another" https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/exploitation/ – has been an incontrovertible reality of all class-based societiesfrom the establishment of the earliest city-states in Mesopotamia until the present.Usually but not always intertwined with social oppression, structural exploitation entails a relationship of social dominance of an elite group over the rest of society subordinated for the purpose of economic, social, political, and cultural exploitation. Legitimized by the social contract, justifications for institutional exploitation include safety and security of country, eliminating impediments to progress, and emulating nature's competitive forces that exist in the animal kingdom and reflect human nature.

From Solon's laws in 6 th century BC Athens until our contemporary neoliberal era, social contract theory presumes that the state is the catalyst for social harmony if not fairness and not for a privileged social class to exploit the rest of society. No legal system has ever been codified that explicitly states its goal is to use of the state as an instrument of exploitation and oppression. In reality however, from ancient Babylon when King Hammurabi codified the first laws in 1780 B.C. until the present when multinational corporations and wealthy individuals directly or through lobbyists exert preponderate influence in public policy the theoretical assumption is one of fairness and justice for all people as a goal for the social contract.

In the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – biotechnology, nanotechnology, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence – presumably to serve mankind as part of the social contract rather than to exploit more thoroughly and marginalize a large segment of humanity, the persistence of structural exploitation and oppression challenges those with a social conscience and morality rooted in humanist values to question what constitutes societal progress and public interest. Liberal and Christian-Libertarian arguments about free will notwithstanding, it has always been the case that mainstream institutions and the dominant culture indoctrinate people into believing that ending exploitation by changing the social contract is a utopian dream; a domain relegated to poets, philosophers and song writers lacking proper grounding in the reality of mainstream politics largely in the service of the dominant socioeconomic class. The paradox in neoliberal ideology is its emphasis on free choice, while the larger goal is to mold the subjective reality within the neoliberal institutional structure and way of life. The irreconcilable aspects of neoliberalism represent the contradictory goals of the desire to project democratic mask that would allow for popular sovereignty while pursuing capital accumulation under totalitarian methods. http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_contractarianism.html ' http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tippling/2017/05/15/indoctrination-and-free-will/

Social cooperation becomes dysfunctional when distortions and contradictions within the system create large-scale social marginalization exposing the divergence between the promise of the neoliberal social contract and the reality in peoples' lives. To manage the dysfunction by mobilizing popular support, the political elites of both the pluralist and the authoritarian-populist wing operating under the neoliberal political umbrella compete for power by projecting the image of an open democratic society. Intra-class power struggles within the elite social and political classes vying for power distracts from social exploitation because the masses line behind competing elites convinced such competition is the essence of democracy. As long as the majority in society passively acquiesces to the legitimacy of the social contract, even if in practice society is socially unjust, the status quo remains secure until systemic contradictions in the political economy make it unsustainable. https://mises.org/library/profound-significance-social-harmony

In the last three centuries, social revolutions, upheavals and grassroots movements have demonstrated that people want a social contract that includes workers, women, and marginalized groups into the mainstream and elevates their status economically and politically. In the early 21 st century, there are many voices crying out for a new social contract based on social justice and equality against neoliberal tyranny. However, those faint voices are drowned against the preponderate neoliberal public policy impacting every sector while shaping the individual's worldview and subjective reality. The triumph of neoliberal orthodoxy has deviated from classical liberalism to the degree that dogmatism 'single-thought' process dominates not just economics, not just the social contract, but the very fabric of our humanity. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/21598282.2013.761449?journalCode=rict20 ; https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/aug/18/neoliberalism-the-idea-that-changed-the-world

Under neoliberalism, "Uberization" as a way of life is becoming the norm not just in the 'financialization' neoliberal economy resting on speculation rather than productivity but in society as well. The neoliberal ideology has indoctrinated the last two generations that grew up under this system and know no other reality thus taking for granted the neoliberal way of life as natural as the air they breathe. Often working two jobs, working overtime without compensation or taking work home just to keep the job has become part of chasing the dream of merely catching up with higher costs of living. People have accepted perpetual work enmeshed with the capitalist ideology of perpetual economic growth perversely intertwined with progress of civilization. The corporate ideology of "grow or die" at any cost is in reality economic growth confined to the capitalist class, while fewer and fewer people enjoy its fruits and communities, cities, entire countries under neoliberal austerity suffer.

Carl Boggs, The End of Politics: Corporate Power and the Decline of the Public Sphere , 2000; https://monthlyreview.org/2007/04/01/the-financialization-of-capitalism/ ; https://permaculturenews.org/2012/06/15/myth-of-perpetual-growth-is-killing-america/

The incentive for conformity is predicated on the belief that the benefits of civilization would be fairly distributed if not in the present then at some point in the future for one's children or grandchildren; analogous to living a virtuous life in order to enjoy the rewards after death. As proof that the system works for the benefit of society and not just the capitalist class, neoliberal apologists point to stock market gains and surprisingly there is a psychological impact – the wealth effect – on the mass consumer who feels optimistic and borrows to raise consumption. Besides the fact that only a very small percentage of people on the planet own the vast majority of securities, even in the US there is no correlation between stock market performance and living standards. (John Seip and Dee Wood Harper, The Trickle Down Delusion , 2016)
If we equate the stock market with the 'wealth of the nation', then in 1982 when the S & P index stood at 117 rising to 2675 in December 2017, the logical conclusion is that living standards across the US rose accordingly. However, this is the period when real incomes for workers and the middle class actually declined despite sharp rise in productivity and immense profits reflected in the incomes gap reflected in the bottom 90% vs. the top 10%. This is also the period when we see the striking divergence between wealth accumulation for the top 1% and a relative decline for the bottom 90%. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/17/upshot/income-inequality-united-states.html ; https://ourworldindata.org/income-inequality/

A research study compiled by the pro-organized labor non-profit think tank 'Economic Policy Institute' stresses the divergence between productivity and real wages. While the top 0.01% of America's experienced 386% income growth between 1980 and 1914, the bottom 90% suffered 3% real income drop. Whereas in 1980 income share for the bottom 90% stood at 65% and for the top 1% it stood at 10%, by 2014 the bottom 90% held just half of the income, while the top 1% owned 21%. This dramatic income divergence, which has been shown in hundreds of studies and not even neoliberal billionaires deny their validity, took place under the shift toward the full implementation of the neoliberal social contract. It is significant to note that such income concentration resulting from fiscal policy, corporate subsidy policy, privatization and deregulation has indeed resulted in higher productivity exactly as neoliberal apologists have argued. However, higher worker productivity and higher profits has been made possible precisely because of income transfer from labor to capitalist. http://www.epi.org/publication/charting-wage-stagnation/ ; https://aneconomicsense.org/2015/07/13/the-highly-skewed-growth-of-incomes-since-1980-only-the-top-0-5-have-done-better-than-before/

"Real hourly compensation of production, nonsupervisory workers who make up 80 percent of the workforce, also shows pay stagnation for most of the period since 1973, rising 9.2 percent between 1973 and 2014.Net productivity grew 1.33 percent each year between 1973 and 2014, faster than the meager 0.20 percent annual rise in median hourly compensation. In essence, about 15 percent of productivity growth between 1973 and 2014 translated into higher hourly wages and benefits for the typical American worker. Since 2000, the gap between productivity and pay has risen even faster. The net productivity growth of 21.6 percent from 2000 to 2014 translated into just a 1.8 percent rise in inflation-adjusted compensation for the median worker (just 8 percent of net productivity growth).Since 2000, more than 80 percent of the divergence between a typical (median) worker's pay growth and overall net productivity growth has been driven by rising inequality (specifically, greater inequality of compensation and a falling share of income going to workers relative to capital owners).Over the entire 1973–2014 period, rising inequality explains over two-thirds of the productivity–pay divergence. " (Josh Bivens and Lawrence Mishel, "Understanding the Historic Divergence Between Productivity and a Typical Worker's Pay Why It Matters and Why It's Real" in Economic Policy Institute, 2015, http://www.epi.org/publication/understanding-the-historic-divergence-between-productivity-and-a-typical-workers-pay-why-it-matters-and-why-its-real/

The average corporate tax rate in the world has been cut in half in the last two decades from about 40% to 22%, with the effective rate actually paid lower than the official rate. This represents a massive transfer of wealth to the highest income brackets drained from the working class. More than half-a-century ago, American anthropologist Jules Henry wrote that: "The fact that our society places no limit on wealth while making it accessible to all helps account for the 'feverish' quality Tocqueville sensed in American civilization." Culture Against Man (1963). The myth that the neoliberal policies in the information age lead toward a society richer for all people is readily refuted by the reality of huge wealth distribution gaps resulting from 'informational capitalism' backed by the corporate welfare state.

Capital accumulation not just in the US but on a world scale without a ceiling has resulted in more thorough exploitation of workers and in a less socially just society today than in the early 1960s when Jules Henry was writing and it is headed increasingly toward authoritarian models of government behind the very thin veneer of meaningless elections. Against this background of unfettered neoliberalism, social responsibility is relegated to issues ranging from corporate-supported sustainable development in which large businesses have a vested interest as part of future designs on capital accumulation, to respecting lifestyle and cultural and religious freedoms within the existing social contract. (Dieter Plehwe et al. eds., Neoliberal Hegemony , 2006; Carl Ferenbach and Chris Pinney, " Toward a 21st Century Social Contract" Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Vol. 24, No 2, 2012; http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1745-6622.2012.00372.x/abstract

At its Annual conference in 2017 where representatives from the 'Fortune 500', academia, think tanks, NGOs, and government, business consultancy group BSR provided the following vision under the heading "A 21 st Century Social Contract" : "The nature of work is changing very rapidly. Old models of lifelong employment via business and a predictable safety net provided by government are no longer assured in a new demographic, economic, and political environment. We see these trends most clearly in the rise of the "gig economy," in which contingent workers (freelancers, independent contractors, consultants, or other outsourced and non-permanent workers) are hired on a temporary or part-time basis. These workers make up more than 90 percent of new job creation in European countries, and by 2020, it is estimated that more than 40 percent of the U.S. workforce will be in contingent jobs." https://bsr17.org/agenda/sessions/the-21st-century-social-contract

Representing multinational corporate members and proud sponsors of sustainable development solutions within the neoliberal model, BSR applauded the aspirations and expectations of today's business people that expect to concentrate even more capital as the economy becomes more 'UBERized' and reliant on the new digital technology. Despite fear and anxiety about a bleak techno-science future as another mechanism to keep wages as close to subsistence if not below that level as possible, peoples' survival instinct forces them to adjust their lives around the neoliberal social contract. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/531726/technology-and-inequality/

Reflecting the status quo, the media indoctrinate people to behave as though systemic exploitation, oppression, division, and marginalization are natural while equality and the welfare of the community represent an anathema to bourgeois civilization. What passes as the 'social norm', largely reflects the interests of the socioeconomic elites propagating the 'legitimacy' of their values while their advocates vilify values that place priority on the community aspiring to achieve equality and social justice. (Robert E. Watkins, " Turning the Social Contract Inside Out: Neoliberal Governance and Human Capital in Two Days, One Night" , 2016).

The neoliberal myth that the digital technological revolution and the 'knowledge based economy' (KBE) of endless innovation is the catalyst not only to economic growth but to the preservation of civilization and welfare of society has proved hollow in the last four decades. Despite massive innovation in the domain of the digital and biotech domains, socioeconomic polarization and environmental degradation persist at much higher rates today than in the 1970s. Whether in the US, the European Union or developing nations, the neoliberal promise of 'prospering together' has been a farce. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tsq.12106/full ; http://www.ricerchestoriche.org/?p=749

Neoliberal myths about upward linear progress across all segments of society and throughout the world notwithstanding, economic expansion and contraction only result in greater capital concentration. "The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have taken a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, pulled out all 43,060 multinational corporations and the share ownerships linking them to construct a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company's operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power.The model revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships. Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What's more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world's large blue chip and manufacturing firms, the "real" economy, representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a super-entity of 147 even more tightly knit companies (all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity) that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. "In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network." https://weeklybolshevik.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/imperialism-and-the-concentration-of-capital/ http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1107/1107.5728v2.pdf .

With each passing recessionary cycle of the past four decades working class living standards have retreated and never recovered. Although the techno-science panacea has proved a necessary myth and a distraction from the reality of capital concentration, considering that innovation and technology are integral parts of the neoliberal system, the media, politicians, business elites, corporate-funded think tanks and academics continue to promote the illusive 'modernist dream' that only a small segment of society enjoys while the rest take pride living through it vicariously. ( Laurence Reynolds and Bronislaw Szerszynski, "Neoliberalism and technology: Perpetual innovation or perpetual crisis?"

https://www.academia.edu/1937914/Neoliberalism_and_technology

Rooted in militarism and police-state policies, the culture of fear is one of the major ways that the neoliberal regime perpetually distracts people from structural exploitation and oppression in a neoliberal society that places dogmatic focus on atomism. Despite the atomistic value system as an integral part of neoliberalism, neoliberals strongly advocate a corporate state welfare system. Whether supporting pluralism and diversity or rightwing populists, neoliberals agree that without the state buttressing the private sector, the latter will collapse. Author of Liberalism in the Shadow of Totalitarianism (2007) David Ciepley argues in "The Corporate Contradictions of Neoliberalism" that the system's contradictions have led to the authoritarian political model as its only option moving forward.

"Neoliberalism was born in reaction against totalitarian statism, and matured at the University of Chicago into a program of state-reduction that was directed not just against the totalitarian state and the socialist state but also (and especially) against the New Deal regulatory and welfare state. It is a self-consciously reactionary ideology that seeks to roll back the status quo and institutionalize (or, on its own understanding, re-institutionalize) the "natural" principles of the market. But the contradiction between its individualist ideals and our corporate reality means that the effort to institutionalize it, oblivious to this contradiction, has induced deep dysfunction in our corporate system, producing weakened growth, intense inequality, and coercion. And when the ideological support of a system collapses -- as appears to be happening with neoliberalism -- then either the system will collapse, or new levels of coercion and manipulation will be deployed to maintain it. This appears to be the juncture at which we have arrived." https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2017/05/corporate-contradictions-neoliberalism/

Adhering to a tough law-and-order policy, neoliberals have legalized large-scale criminal activity perpetrated by capitalists against society while penalizing small-scale crimes carried out mostly by people in the working class and the marginalized lumpenproletariat . Regardless of approaches within the neoliberal social contract, neoliberal politicians agree on a lengthy prison sentences for street gangs selling narcotics while there is no comparable punishment when it comes to banks laundering billions including from narcotics trafficking, as Deutsche Bank among other mega banks in the US and EU; fixing rates as Barclays among others thus defrauding customers of billions; or creating fake accounts as Wells Fargo , to say nothing of banks legally appropriating billions of dollars from employees and customers and receiving state (taxpayer) funding in times of 'banking crises'. Although it seems enigmatic that there is acquiescence for large scale crimes with the institutional cover of 'legitimacy' by the state and the hegemonic culture, the media has conditioned the public to shrug off structural exploitation as an integral part of the social contract. http://theweek.com/articles/729052/brief-history-crime-corruption-malfeasance-american-banks ; https://www.globalresearch.ca/corruption-in-the-european-union-scandals-in-banking-fraud-and-secretive-ttip-negotiations/5543935

Neoliberalism's reach does not stop with the de-criminalization of white-collar crime or the transfer of economic policy from the public sector to corporations in order to reverse social welfare policies. Transferring sweeping policy powers from the public to the corporate sector, neoliberalism's tentacles impact everything from labor and environment to health, education and foreign policy into the hands of the state-supported corporate sector in an effort to realize even greater capital concentration at an even greater pace. This has far reaching implications in peoples' lives around the world in everything from their work and health to institutions totalitarian at their core but projecting an image of liberal democracy on the surface. (Noam Chomsky and R. W. McChesney, Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order , 2011; Pauline Johnson, "Sociology and the Critique of Neoliberalism" European Journal of Social Theory , 2014

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1368431014534354?journalCode=esta

Comprehensive to the degree that it aims to diminish the state's role by having many of its functions privatized, neoliberalism's impact has reached into monetary policy trying to supplant it with rogue market forces that test the limits of the law and hard currencies. The creation of cryptocurrencies among them BITCOIN that represents the utopian dream of anarcho-libertarians interested in influencing if not dreaming of ultimately supplanting central banks' role in monetary policy is an important dimension of neoliberal ideology. Techno-utopians envisioning the digital citizen in a neoliberal society favor a 'gypsy economy' operating on a digital currency outside the purview of the state's regulatory reach where it is possible to transfer and hide money while engaging in the ultimate game of speculation. ( https://btctheory.com ; Samuel Valasco and Leonardo Medina, The Social Nature of Cryptocurrencies , 2013)

Credited as the neoliberal prophet whose work and affiliate organizations multinational corporations funded, Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek favored market forces to determine monetary policy rather than having government in that role working behind central banks. Aside from the fact that central banks cater to capital and respond to markets and no other constituency, Hayek's proposal ( The Denationalization of Money , 1976) was intended to permit the law of the 'free market' (monetary speculation) determine policy that would impact peoples' living standards. Hence capital accumulation would not be constrained by government regulatory measures and the coordination of monetary policy between central banks. In short, the law of unfettered banking regulation would theoretically result in greater economic growth, no matter the consequences owing to the absence of banking regulatory measures that exacerbate contracting economic cycles such as in 2008. www.voltaire.org/article30058.html )

In December 2017, the UK and EU warned that cryptocurrencies are used in criminal enterprises, including money laundering and tax evasion. Nevertheless, crypto-currency reflects both the ideology and goals of capital accumulation of neoliberals gaining popularity among speculators in the US and other countries. Crypto-currencyfulfills the neoliberal speculator's dream by circumventing the IMF basket of reserved currencies on which others trade while evading regulatory constraints and all mechanisms of legal accountability for the transfer of money and tax liability.

Although a tiny fraction of the global monetary system, computer networks make crypto-currency a reality for speculators, tax evaders, those engaged in illegal activities and even governments like Venezuela under Nocolas Maduro trying to pump liquidity into the oil-dependent economy suffering from hyperinflation and economic stagnation If the crypto-currency system can operate outside the purview of the state, then the neoliberal ideology of trusting the speculator rather than the government would be proved valid about the superfluous role of central banks and monetary centralization, a process that capitalism itself created for the harmonious operation of capitalism. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/dec/04/bitcoin-uk-eu-plan-cryptocurrency-price-traders-anonymity ; http://www.lanacion.com.ar/2099017-venezuela-inflacion-nicolas-maduro-crisis-precios

Indicative of the success of the neoliberal ideology's far reaching impact in economic life cryptocurrencies' existencealso reflects the crisis of capitalism amid massive assaults on middle class and working class living standards in the quest for greater capital concentration. In an ironic twist, the very neoliberal forces that promote cryptocurrencies decry their use by anti-Western nations – Iran, Venezuela, and Russia among others.The criticism of anti-Western governments resorting to cryptocurrenciesis based on their use as a means of circumventing the leverage that reserve currencies like the dollar and euro afford to the West over non-Western nations. This is only one of a few contradictions that neoliberalism creates and undermines the system it strives to build just as it continues to foster its ideology as the only plausible one to pursue globally. Another contradiction is the animosity toward crypto-currencies from mainstream financial institutions that want to maintain a monopoly on government-issued currency which is where they make their profits. As the world's largest institutional promoter of neoliberalism, the IMF has cautioned not to dismiss cryptocurrencies because they could have a future, or they may actually 'be the future'. https://www.coindesk.com/bitcoins-unlimited-potential-lies-in-apolitical-core/ ; http://fortune.com/2017/10/02/bitcoin-ethereum-cryptocurrency-imf-christine-lagarde/

After the "Washington Consensus" of 1989, IMF austerity policies are leverage to impose neoliberal policies globally have weakened national institutions from health to education and trade unions that once formed a social bond for workers aspiring to an integrative socially inclusive covenant in society rather than marginalization. The IMF uses austerity policies for debt relief as leverage to have the government provide more favorable investment conditions and further curtail the rights of labor with everything from ending collective bargaining to introducing variations of "right-to-work" laws" that prohibit trade unions from forcing collective strikes, collecting dues or signing the collective contract. Justified in the name of 'capitalist efficiency', weakening organized labor and its power of collective bargaining has been an integral part of the neoliberal social contract as much in the US and UK as across the rest of the world, invariably justified by pointing to labor markets where workers earn the lowest wages. (B. M. Evans and S. McBride, Austerity: The Lived Experience , 2017; Vicente Berdayes, John W. Murphy, eds. Neoliberalism, Economic Radicalism, and the Normalization of Violence , 2016).

Although many in the mainstream media took notice of the dangers of neoliberalism leading toward authoritarianism after Trump's election, a few faint voices have been warning about this inevitability since the early 1990s. Susan George, president of the Transnational Institute, has argued that neoliberalism is contrary to democracy, it is rooted in Social Darwinism, it undermines the liberal social contract under which that people assume society operates, but it is the system that governments and international organization like the IMF have been promoting.

"Over the past twenty years, the IMF has been strengthened enormously. Thanks to the debt crisis and the mechanism of conditionality, it has moved from balance of payments support to being quasi-universal dictator of so-called "sound" economic policies, meaning of course neo-liberal ones. The World Trade Organisation was finally put in place in January 1995 after long and laborious negotiations, often rammed through parliaments which had little idea what they were ratifying. Thankfully, the most recent effort to make binding and universal neo-liberal rules, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, has failed, at least temporarily. It would have given all rights to corporations, all obligations to governments and no rights at all to citizens. The common denominator of these institutions is their lack of transparency and democratic accountability. This is the essence of neo-liberalism. It claims that the economy should dictate its rules to society, not the other way around. Democracy is an encumbrance, neo-liberalism is designed for winners, not for voters who, necessarily encompass the categories of both winners and losers."

https://www.tni.org/en/article/short-history-neoliberalism

Those on the receiving end of neoliberalism's Social Darwinist orientation are well aware of public policy's negative impact on their lives but they feel helpless to confront the social contract. According to opinion polls, people around the world realize there is a huge gap between what political and business leaders, and international organizations claim about institutions designed to benefit all people and the reality of marginalization. The result is loss of public confidence in the social contract theoretically rooted in consent and democracy. "When elected governments break the "representative covenant" and show complete indifference to the sufferings of citizens, when democracy is downgraded to an abstract set of rules and deprived of meaning for much of the citizenry, many will be inclined to regard democracy as a sham, to lose confidence in and withdraw their support for electoral institutions. Dissatisfaction with democracy now ranges from 40 percent in Peru and Bolivia to 59 percent in Brazil and 62 percent in Colombia. (Boron, "Democracy or Neoliberalism", http://bostonreview.net/archives/BR21.5/boron.html )

Not just in developing nations operating under authoritarian capitalist model to impose neoliberal policies, but in advanced countries people recognize that the bourgeois freedom, democracy and justice are predicated on income. Regardless of whether the regime operates under a pluralistic neoliberal regime or rightwing populist one, the former much more tolerant of diversity than the latter, the social contract goals are the same. In peoples' lives around the world social exploitation has risen under neoliberal policies whether imposed the nation-state, a larger entity such as the EU, or international organizations such as the IMF. Especially for the European and US middle class, but also for Latin American and African nations statistics show that the neoliberal social contract has widened the poor-rich gap.

In a world where the eight wealthiest individuals own as much wealth as the bottom 50% or 3.6 billion people, social exploitation and oppression has become normal because the mainstream institutions present it in such light to the world and castigate anyone critical of institutionalized exploitation and oppression. Rightwing populist demagogues use nationalism, cultural conservatism and vacuous rhetoric about the dangers of big capital and 'liberal elites' to keep the masses loyal to the social contract by faulting the pluralist-liberal politicians rather than the neoliberal social contract. As the neoliberal political economy has resulted in a steady rising income gap and downward social mobility in the past three decades, it is hardly surprising that a segment of the masses lines behind rightwing populist demagogues walking a thin line between bourgeois democracy and Fascism.

(Alan Wertheimer, Exploitation , 1999; Ruth J. Sample, Exploitation; What is it and why it is Wrong , 2003; http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/31/investing/wells-fargo-fake-accounts/index.html ; https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/5/14/1662227/-Was-suicide-of-Deutsche-Bank-executive-linked-to-Trump-and-Russia-money-laundering

Seizing power from sovereign states, multinational corporation are pursuing neoliberal policy objectives on a world scale, prompting resistance to the neoliberal social contract which rarely class-based and invariably identity-group oriented manifested through environmental, gender, race, ethnicity, gay, religious and minority groups of different sorts. Regardless of the relentless media campaign to suppress class consciousness, workers are aware that they have common interests and public opinion studies reveal as much. (Susan George, Shadow Sovereigns: How Global Corporations are seizing Power , 2015)

According to the Pew Research center, the world average for satisfaction with their governments are at 46%, the exact percentage as in the US that ranks about the same as South Africa and much lower than neighboring Canada at 70% and Sweden at 79%. " Publics around the globe are generally unhappy with the functioning of their nations' political systems. Across the 36 countries asked the question, a global median of 46% say they are very or somewhat satisfied with the way their democracy is working, compared with 52% who are not too or not at all satisfied. Levels of satisfaction vary considerably by region and within regions. Overall, people in the Asia-Pacific region are the most happy with their democracies. At least half in five of the six Asian nations where this question was asked express satisfaction. Only in South Korea is a majority unhappy (69%).

http://www.pewglobal.org/2017/10/16/many-unhappy-with-current-political-system/

As confounding as it appears that elements of the disillusioned middle class and working class opt either for the exploitation of pluralist neoliberalism or the exploitation and oppression of rightwing populism expressed somewhat differently in each country, it is not difficult to appreciate the immediacy of a person's concerns for survival like all other species above all else. The assumption of rational behavior in the pursuit of social justice is a bit too much to expect considering that people make irrational choices detrimental to their best interests and to society precisely because the dominant culture has thoroughly indoctrinated them. It seems absurd that indirectly people choose exploitation and oppression for themselves and others in society, but they always have as the dominant culture secular and religious indoctrinates them into accepting exploitation and oppression. (Shaheed Nick Mohammed, Communication and the Globalization of Culture , 2011)

Throughout Western and Eastern Europe rightwing political parties are experiencing a resurgence not seen since the interwar era, largely because the traditional conservatives moved so far to the right. Even the self-baptized Socialist parties are nothing more than staunch advocates of the same neoliberal status quo as the traditional conservatives. The US has also moved to the right long before the election of Donald Trump who openly espouses suppression of certain fundamental freedoms as an integral part of a pluralistic society. As much as in the US and Europe as in the rest of the world, analysts wonder how could any working class person champion demagogic political leaders whose vacuous populist rhetoric promises 'strong nation" for all but their policies benefit the same socioeconomic elites as the neoliberal politicians.(J. Rydgren (Ed.), Class Politics and the Radical Right , 2012)

Rooted onclassical liberal values of the Enlightenment, the political and social elites present a social contract that is theoretically all-inclusive and progressive, above all 'fair' because it permits freedom to compete, when in reality the social structure under which capitalism operates necessarily entails exploitation and oppression that makes marginalization very clear even to its staunchest advocates who then endeavor to justify it by advancing theories about individual human traits.

In 2012 the United States spent an estimated 19.4% of GDP on such social expenditures, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Paris-based industrial country think tank. Denmark spent 30.5%, Sweden 28.2% and Germany 26.3%. All of these nations have a lower central government debt to GDP ratio than that of the United States. Why the United States invests relatively less in its social safety net than many other countries and why those expenditures are even at risk in the current debate over debt reduction reflect Americans' conflicted, partisan and often contradictory views on fairness, inequality, the role and responsibility of government and individuals in society and the efficacy of government action. Rooted in value differences, not just policy differences, the debate over the U.S. social contract is likely to go on long after the fiscal cliff issue has been resolved." http://www.pewglobal.org/2013/01/15/public-attitudes-toward-the-next-social-contract/

The neoliberal model of capitalism spewing forth from core countries to the periphery and embraced by capitalists throughout the world has resulted in greater social inequality, exploitation and oppression, despite proclamations that by pluralist-diversity neoliberals presenting themselves as remaining true to 'democracy'. The tilt to the right endorsed at the ballot box by voters seeking solutions to systemic problems and a more hopeful future indicates that some people demand exclusion and/or punishment of minority social groups in society, as though the exploitation and oppression of 'the other' would vicariously elevate the rest of humanity to a higher plane. Although this marks a dangerous course toward authoritarianism and away from liberal capitalism and Karl Popper's 'Open Society' thesis operating in a pluralistic world against totalitarianism, it brings to surface the essence of neoliberalism which is totalitarian, the very enemy Popper and his neoconservative followers were allegedly trying to prevent. (Calvin Hayes, Popper, Hayek and the Open Society , 2009)

Social Exclusion, Popular Resistanceand the Future of Neoliberalism

Social Exclusion

Every sector of society from the criminal justice system to elderly care has been impacted by neoliberal social marginalization. More significant than any other aspect of neoliberalism, the creation of a chronic debtor classwithout any assets is floating a step above the structurally unemployed and underemployed.The Industrial revolution exacerbated social exclusion producing an underclass left to its own fate by a state that remained faithful to the social contract's laissez philosophy. Composed of vagrants, criminals, chronically unemployed, and people of the streets that British social researcher Henry Mayhew described in London Labour and the London Poor , a work published three years after the revolutions of 1848 that shattered the liberal foundations of Europe, the lumpenproletariat caught the attention of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels ( The German Ideology ) interested in the industrial working class movement as the vanguard of the revolution.

Lacking a class consciousness thus easily exploited by the elites the lumpenproletariat were a product of industrial capitalism's surplus labor that kept wages at or just above subsistence levels, long before European and American trade union struggles were able to secure a living wage.In the last four decades neoliberal policies have created a chronic debtor working class operating under the illusion of integration into the mainstream when in fact their debtor status not only entails social exclusion but relegated to perpetual servitude dependence and never climbing out of it. The neoliberal state is the catalyst to the creation of this new class. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-20/a-164-year-old-idea-helps-explain-the-huge-changes-sweeping-the-world-s-workforce

In an essay entitled "Labour Relations and Social Movements in the 21st Century"

Portuguese social scientists Elísio Estanque and Hermes Augusto Costa argue that the manner that neoliberalism has impacted Europe's social structure in both core and periphery countries has given rise to the new precarious working class, often college-degreed, overqualified, and struggling to secure steady employment especially amid recessionary cycles that last longer and run deeper.

"The panorama of a deep economic crisis which in the last few decades has hit Europe and its Welfare state in particular has had an unprecedented impact on employment and social policies. The neoliberal model and the effects of deregulated and global finance not only question the "European social model" but push sectors of the labour force – with the youngest and well-qualified being prominent – into unemployment or precarious jobs. the sociological and potential socio-political significance of these actionsparticularly as a result of the interconnections that such movements express, both in the sphere of the workplace and industrial system or whether with broader social structures, with special emphasis on the middle classes and the threats of 'proletarianization' that presently hang over them. labour relations of our time are crossed by precariousness and by a new and growing "precariat" which also gave rise to new social movements and new forms of activism and protest." http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/34149/InTech-Labour_relations_and_social_movements_in_the_21st_century.pdf

'Proletarization' of the declining middle class and downward income pressure for the working class and middle classhas been accompanied by the creation of a growing chronic debtor class in the Western World. Symptomatic of the neoliberal globalist world order, the creation of the debtor class and more broadly social exclusion transcends national borders, ethnicity, gender, culture, etc. Not just at the central government level, but at the regional and local levels, public policy faithfully mimics the neoliberal model resulting in greater social exclusion while there is an effort to convince people that there is no other path to progress although people were free to search; a dogma similar to clerical intercession as the path to spiritual salvation. http://www.isreview.org/issues/58/feat-economy.shtml

The neoliberal path to salvation has resulted in a staggering 40% of young adults living with relatives out of financial necessity. The number has never been greater at any time in modern US history since the Great Depression, and the situation is not very different for Europe. Burdened with debt, about half of the unemployed youth are unable to find work and most that work do so outside the field of their academic training. According to the OECD, youth unemployment in the US is not confined only to high school dropouts but includes college graduates. Not just across southern Europe and northern Africa, but in most countries the neoliberal economy of massive capital concentration has created a new lumpenproletariat that has no assets and carries debt. Owing to neoliberal policies, personal bankruptcies have risen sharply in the last four decades across the Western World reflecting the downward social mobility and deep impact on the chronically indebted during recessionary cycles. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/04/53-of-recent-college-grads-are-jobless-or-underemployed-how/256237/ ; https://www.cbsnews.com/news/for-young-americans-living-with-their-parents-is-now-the-norm/ ; Iain Ramsay, Personal Insolvency in the 21st Century: A Comparative Analysis of the US and Europe, 2017)

Historically, the safe assumption has been that higher education is the key to upward social mobility and financial security, regardless of cyclical economic trends. However, the laws of overproduction apply not only to commodities but to the labor force, especially as the information revolution continues to chip away at human labor. College education is hardly a guarantee to upward social mobility, but often a catalyst to descent into the debtor unemployed class,or minimum wage/seasonalpart time job or several such jobs. The fate of the college-educated falling into the chronic debtor class is part of a much larger framework, namely the 'financialization' of the economy that is at the core of neoliberalism. ( Vik Loveday, "Working-class participation, middle-class aspiration? Value, upward mobility and symbolic indebtedness in higher education."The Sociological Review , September 2014) Beyond the simplisticsuggestion of 'more training' to keep up with tech changes, the root cause of social exclusion and the chronic debtor class revolves around the 'financialization' of the neoliberal globalist economy around which central banks make monetary policy. Since the beginning of the Thatcher-Reagan era, advanced capitalist countries led by the US conducted policy to promote the centrality of financial markets as the core of the economy. This entails resting more on showing quarterly profit even at the expense of taking on debt, lower productivity and long-term sustainability, or even breaking a company apart and dismissing workers because it would add shareholder value. Therefore, the short-term financial motives and projection of market performance carry far more weight than any other consideration.

Symptomatic of a combination of deregulation and the evolution of capitalism especially in core countries from productive to speculative, financialization has transformed the world economy. Enterprises from insurance companies to brokerage firms and banks like Goldman Sachs involved in legal and quasi-legal practices, everything from the derivatives market to helping convert a country's sovereign debt into a surplus while making hefty profits has been part of the financialization economy that speeds up capital concentration and creates a wider rich-poor gap. Housing, health, pension systems, health care and personal consumption are all impacted by financialization that concentrates capital through speculation rather than producing anything from capital goods to consumer products and services. (Costas Lapavitsas, The Financialization of Capitalism: 'Profiting without producing' http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13604813.2013.853865

Billionaire speculator George Soros has observed that market speculation not only drives prices higher, especially of commodities on a world scale, but the inevitability of built-in booms and busts are disruptive simply because a small group of people have secured a legal means for capital accumulation. At the outbreak of the US stock market collapse followed by the 'great recession' of 2008, the European Network and Debt and Development (EURODAD) published an article critical of financialization and its impact on world hunger.

"Do you enjoy rising prices? Everybody talks about commodities – with the Agriculture Euro Fund you can benefit from the increase in value of the seven most important agricultural commodities." With this advertisement the Deutsche Bankt tried in spring 2008 to attract clients for one of its investment funds. At the same time, there were hunger revolts in Haiti, Cameroon and other developing countries, because many poor could no longer pay the exploding food prices. In fact, between the end of 2006 and March 2008 the prices for the seven most important commodities went up by 71 per cent on average, for rice and grain the increase was 126 per cent. The poor are most hit by the hike in prices. Whereas households in industrialised countries spend 10 -20 per cent for food, in low-income countries they spend 60 – 80 per cent. As a result, the World Bank forecasts an increase in the number of people falling below the absolute poverty line by more than 100 million. Furthermore, the price explosion has negative macroeconomic effects: deterioration of the balance of payment, fuelling inflation and new debt." http://eurodad.org/uploadedfiles/whats_new/news/food%20speculation%202%20pager%20final.pdf

Someone has to pay for the speculative nature of financialization, and the labor force in all countries is the first to do so through higher indirect taxes, cuts in social programs and jobs and wages for the sake of stock performance. Stock markets around which public policy is conducted have eroded the real economy while molding a culture of financialization of the last two generations a large percentage of which has been swimming in personal debt reflecting the debt-ridden financialization economy. Contrary to claims by politicians, business leaders and the media that the neoliberal system of financialization is all about creating jobs and helping to diffuse income to the middle class and workers, the only goal of financialization is wealth concentration while a larger debtor class and social marginalization are the inevitable results. It is hardly surprising that people world-wide believe the political economy is rigged by the privileged class to maintain its status and the political class is the facilitator. http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/41359-financialization-has-turned-the-global-economy-into-a-house-of-cards-an-interview-with-gerald-epstein ; Costas Lapavitsa, Financialization in Crisis, 2013; Rona Foroohar, Makers and Takers: How Wall Street Destroyed Main Street , 2016)

Despite efforts by pluralist and populist neoliberals throughout the world to use 'culture wars' and identity politics as distractionwhile deemphasizing the role of the state as the catalyst in the neoliberal social contract, the contradictions that the political economy exposes the truth about the socially unjustsociety that marginalizes the uneducated poor and college-educated indebted alike.Not to deemphasize the significance of global power distribution based on the Westphalian nation-state model and regional blocs such as the European Union, but neoliberals are the ones who insist on the obsolete nation-state that the international market transcends, thus acknowledging the preeminence of capitalism in the social contract and the subordination of national sovereignty to international capital and financialization of the economy. After all, the multinational corporation operating in different countries is accountable only to its stockholders, not to the nation-state whose role is to advance corporate interests.

No matter how rightwing populists try to distract people from the real cause of social exclusion and marginalization by focusing onnationalist rhetoric, marginalized social groups and Muslim or Mexican legal or illegal immigrantshave no voice in public policy but financialization speculators do. In an article entitled "The Politics of Public Debt: Neoliberalism, capitalist development, and the restructuring of the state", Wolfgang Streeck concludes that neoliberalism's systemic rewards provide a disincentive for capitalists to abandon financialization in favor of productivity. "Why should the new oligarchs be interested in their countries' future productive capacities and present democratic stability if, apparently, they can be rich without it, processing back and forth the synthetic money produced for them at no cost by a central bank for which the sky is the limit, at each stage diverting from it hefty fees and unprecedented salaries, bonuses and profits as long as it is forthcoming -- and then leave their country to its remaining devices and withdraw to some privately owned island?

http://www.publicseminar.org/2014/02/the-politics-of-public-debt/

An important difference between pluralists and rightwing populists in their approach to the state's role is that the former advocate for a strong legislative branch and weaker executive, while rightwing populists want a strong executive and weak legislative. However, both political camps agree about advancing market hegemony nationally and internationally and both support policies that benefit international and domestic capital, thus facilitating the convergence of capitalist class interests across national borders with the symptomatic results of social exclusion. ( http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016718508000924 ; Vicente Navarro, "The Worldwide Class Struggle" https://monthlyreview.org/2006/09/01/the-worldwide-class-struggle/

Regardless of vacuous rhetoric about a weak state resulting from neoliberal policies, the state in core countries where financialization prevailshas been and remains the catalyst for class hegemony as has been the case since the nascent stage of capitalism. Both Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan strengthened the corporate welfare state while openly declaring war against trade unions and by extension on the working class that neoliberals demonize as the enemy of economic progress. As statistics below illustrate, the debtor class expanded rapidly after 1980 when the financialization economy took off, reaching its highest point after the subprime-induced great recession in 2008. Under neoliberal globalist policies, governments around the world followed theReagan-Thatcher model to facilitate over-accumulation of capital in the name of competition. (Montgomerie Johnna, Neoliberalism and the Making of the Subprime Borrower , 2010)

Whether the state is promoting neoliberal policies under a pluralist or authoritarian models, the neoliberal culture has designated labor as the unspoken enemy, especially organized labor regardless of whether the ruling parties have co-opted trade unions. In the struggle for capital accumulation under parasitic financialization policies, the state's view of labor as the enemy makes social conflict inevitable despite the obvious contradiction that the 'enemy-worker' is both the mass consumer on whom the economy depends for expansion and development. Despite this contradiction, neoliberals from firms such as Goldman Sachs has many of its former executives not just in top positions of the US government but world-wide, no matter who is in power. Neoliberal policy resulting in social exclusion starts with international finance capitalism hiding behind the pluralist and rightwing populist masks of politicians desperately vying for power to conduct public policy.

https://www.investopedia.com/news/26-goldman-sachs-alumni-who-run-world-gs/

Just as the serfs were aware in the Middle Ages that Lords and Bishops determined the fate of all down here on earth before God in Heaven had the last word, people today realize the ubiquitous power of capitalists operating behind the scenes, and in some case as with Trump in the forefront of public-policy that results in social exclusion and rising inequality in the name of market fundamentalism promising to deliver the benefits to all people. Neoliberalism has created a chronicdebtor class that became larger after the 2008 recession and will continue growing with each economic contracting cycle in decades to come. Despite its efforts to keep one step ahead of bankruptcy, the identity of the new chronic debtor class rests with the neoliberal status quo, often with the rightwing populist camp that makes rhetorical overtures to the frustrated working classthat realize financialization benefits a small percentage of wealthy individuals.

Personal debt has skyrocketed, reaching $12.58 trillion in the US in 2016, or 80% of GDP. The irony is that the personal debt level is 2016 was the highest since the great recession of 2008 and it is expected to continue much higher, despite the economic recovery and low unemployment. Wage stagnation and higher costs of health, housing and education combined with higher direct and indirect taxes to keep public debt at manageable levels will continue to drive more people into the debtor class. Although some European countries such as Germany and France have lower household debt relative to GDP, all advanced and many developing nations have experienced a sharp rise in personal debt because of deregulation, privatization, and lower taxes on the wealthy with the burden falling on the mass consumer. Hence the creation of a permanent debtor class whose fortunes rest on maintaining steady employment and/or additional part-time employment to meet loan obligations and keep one step ahead of declaring bankruptcy. Austerity policies imposed either by the government through tight credit in advanced capitalist countries or IMF loan conditionality in developing and semi-developed nations the result in either case is lower living standards and a rising debtor class. http://fortune.com/2017/02/19/america-debt-financial-crisis-bubble/

Maurizio Lazzarato's The Making of the Indebted Man: An Essay on the Neoliberal Condition argues that neoliberalism has created a debtor-creditorrelationship which has supplanted the worker-capitalist dichotomy, an argument that others focusing on the financialization of the economy have made as well. Although in Keynesian economics public and private debt was a stimulant for capitalist growth amid the contracting cycle of the economy, the neoliberal era created the permanent chronic debtor class that finds it difficult to extricate itself from that status. Evident after the deep recession of the subprime-financialization-induced recession in 2008, this issue attracted the attention of some politicians and political observers who realized theconvergence of the widening debtor class with the corresponding widening of the rich-poor income gap.

By making both private and public debt, an integral part of the means of production, the neoliberal system has reshaped social life and social relationships because the entire world economy is debt-based. Servicing loans entails lower living standards for the working class in advanced capitalist countries, and even lower in the rest of the world, but it also means integrating the debtor into the system more closely than at any time in history. While it is true that throughout the history of civilization human beings from China and India to Europe have used various systems of credit to transact business (David Graeber, Debt: the First 5000 Years , 2014), no one would suggest reverting back to debt-slavery as part of the social structure. Yet, neoliberalism has created the 'indebted man' as part of a policythat has resulted in social asymmetrical power,aiming to speed up capital accumulation and maintain market hegemony in society while generating greater social exclusion. https://marxandphilosophy.org.uk/reviewofbooks/reviews/2013/87E0

Ever since the British Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in 1807, followed by a number of other European governments in the early 1800s, there was an assumption that slave labor is inconsistent with free labor markets as well as with the liberal social contract rooted in individual freedom. Nevertheless, at the core of neoliberal capitalismUS consumer debt as of October 2017 stood at $3.8 trillion in a 419 trillion economy. Debt-to-personal income ratio is at 160%; college student debt runs at approximately $1.5 trillion, with most of that since 2000; mortgage debt has tripled since 1955, with an alarming 8 million people delinquent on their payments and the foreclosure rate hovering at 4.5% or three times higher than postwar average; consumer debt has risen 1,700 since 1971 to above $1 trillion, and roughly half of Americans are carrying monthly credit debt with an average rate of 14%. The debt problem is hardly better for Europe where a number of countries have a much higher personal debt per capita than the US.In addition to personal debt, public debt has become a burden on the working class in so far as neoliberal politicians and the IMF are using as a pretext to impose austerity conditions, cut entitlements and social programs amid diminished purchasing power because of inflationary asset values and higher taxes. https://www.thebalance.com/consumer-debt-statistics-causes-and-impact-3305704 ; https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/17/business/dealbook/household-debt-united-states.html

While personal debt is often but not always a reflection of a consumerist society, personal debt encompasses everything from education to health care costs in times when the digital/artificial intelligence economy is creating a surplus labor force that results in work instability and asymmetrical social relations. Technology-automation-induced unemployment driving down living standards creates debtor-workers chasing the technology to keep up with debt payments in order to survive until the next payment is due. Considering the financial system backed by a legal framework is established to favor creditors, especially given the safeguards and protections accorded to creditors in the past four decades, there are many blatant and overt ways that the state uses to criminalize poverty and debt. In 2015, for example, Montana became the first state not to take the driver's license of those delinquent on their student debt, thus decriminalizing debt in this one aspect, though hardly addressing the larger issue of the underlying causes of debt and social exclusion. https://academiccommons.columbia.edu/catalog/ac:4b8gtht779 ; https://lumpenproletariat.org/tag/neoliberalism/

In an article entitled "Torturing the Poor, German-Style" , Thomas Klikauer stressed that the weakening of the social welfare state took place under the Social Democratic Party (SPD)-Green Party coalition (1998-2005) government pursuing pluralist neoliberal policies. Although historically the SPD had forged a compromise that would permit for the social inclusion of labor into the institutional mainstream, by the 1990s, theSPD once rooted in socialism had fully embraced neoliberalism just as the British Labour Party and all socialist partiers of Europe pursuing social exclusion. Klilauer writes: "Germany's chancellor [Gerhard] Schröder (SPD) –known as the "Comrade of the Bosses"– no longer sought to integrate labour into capitalism, at least not the Lumpenproletariat or precariate . These sections of society are now deliberately driven into mass poverty, joining the growing number of working poor on a scale not seen in Germany perhaps since the 1930s." https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/20/torturing-the-poor-german-style/

No different than working class people in other countries need more than one job to keep up with debt and living expenses, so do three million Germans (rising from 150,000 in 2003) that have the privilege of living in Europe's richest nation. Just as the number of the working poor has been rising in Germany, so have they across the Western World. Social exclusion and the expansion of the debtor class in Germany manifested itself in the national elections of 2017 where for the first time since the interwar era a political party carrying the legacy of Nazism, the Alternative fur Deutchland (AfD), founded by elite ultra-conservatives, captured 13% of the vote to become third-largest party and giving a voice of neo-Nazis who default society's neoliberal ills to Muslims and immigrants. Rejecting the link between market fundamentalism that both the SPD and German conservatives pursued in the last three decades, neoliberal apologists insist that the AfD merely reflects a Western-wide anti-Muslim trend unrelated to social exclusion and the policies that have led to Germany's new lumpenproletariat and working poor. https://crimethinc.com/2017/10/01/the-rise-of-neo-fascism-in-germany-alternative-fur-deutschland-enters-the-parliament ; https://www.jku.at/icae/content/e319783/e319785/e328125/wp59_ger.pdf

Interestingly, US neoliberal policies also go hand-in-hand with Islamophobia and the war on terror under both Democrat and Republican administrations, although the pluralist-diversity neoliberals have been more careful to maintain a politically-correct rhetoric. Just as in Germany and the rest of Europe, there is a direct correlation in the US between the rise in social exclusion ofMuslim and non-Muslim immigrants and minorities and the growing trend of rightwing populism. There is no empirical foundationto arguments that rightwing populism whether in Germany or the US has no historical roots and it is unconnected both to domestic and foreign policies. Although the neoliberal framework in which rightwing populism operates and which creates social exclusion and the new chronic debtor class clashes with neoliberal pluralism that presents itself as democratic, structural exploitation is built into the social contract thus generating grassroots opposition.

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/newsplus/neoliberal-policies-go-hand-in-hand-with-social-exclusion/

Grassroots Resistance to Neoliberalism

Even before the great recession of 2008, there were a number of grassrootsgroups against neoliberal globalism both in advanced and developing nations. Some found expression in social media, others at the local level focused on the impact of neoliberal policies in the local community, and still others attempted to alter public policy through cooperation with state entities and/or international organizations. The most important anti-neoliberal grassroots organizations have been in Brazil ( Homeless Workers' Movement and Landless Workers' Movement), South Africa (Abahlali baseMjondolo, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, Landless Peoples' Movement), Mexico (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), Haiti (Fanmi Lavalas) and India (Narmada Bachao Andolan).

The vast majority of organizations claiming to be fighting against neoliberal policies are appendages either of the pluralist or the rightwing populist political camp both whose goal is to co-opt the masses as part of their popular base. The anti-globalization movement and by implication anti-neoliberal includes elements from the entire political spectrum from left to ultra-right. From India, to Bangladesh, from South Africa to Brazil, and from the US, France, and the UK, working class resistance to neoliberal globalism has been directly or indirectly co-opted and often de-politicized by corporate-funded or government-funded NGOs and by 'reformist' local and international organizations.

https://ssir.org/articles/entry/a_neoliberal_takeover_of_social_entrepreneurship ; http://anticsr.com/ngos-csr/

By promoting measures invariably in the lifestyle domain but also some social welfare and civil rights issues such as women's rights, renter's rights, etc, the goals of organizations operating within the neoliberal structure is not social inclusion by altering the social contract, but sustaining the status quo by eliminating popular opposition through co-optation. It is hardly a coincidence that the rise of the thousands of NGOs coincided with the rise of neoliberalism in the 1990s, most operating under the guise of aiding the poor, protecting human rights and the environment, and safeguarding individualism. Well-funded by corporations, corporate foundations and governments, NGOs are the equivalent of the 19 th century missionaries, using their position as ideological preparatory work for Western-imposed neoliberal policies. http://socialistreview.org.uk/310/friends-poor-or-neo-liberalism ; https://zeroanthropology.net/2014/08/28/civil-society-ngos-and-saving-the-needy-imperial-neoliberalism/

On the receiving end of corporate and/or government-funded NGOs promoting the neoliberal agenda globally, some leading grassroots movements that advocate changing the neoliberal status quo contend that it is better to 'win' on a single issue such as gay rights, abortion, higher minimum wage, etc. at the cost of co-optation into neoliberal system than to have nothing at all looking in from the outside. Their assumption is that social exclusion can be mitigated one issue at a time through reform from within the neoliberal institutional structure that grassroots organizations deem as the enemy. This is exactly what the pluralist neoliberals are promoting as well to co-opt grassroots opposition groups.

https://ecpr.eu/Events/PaperDetails.aspx?PaperID=34958&EventID=96

Partly because governmental and non-governmental organizations posing as reformist have successfully co-opted grassroots movements often incorporating them into the neoliberal popular base, popular resistance has not been successful despite social media and cell phones that permit instant communication. This was certainly the case with the Arab Spring uprisings across North Africa-Middle East where genuine popular opposition to neoliberal policies of privatization, deregulation impacting everything from health care toliberalizing rent controls led to the uprising. In collaboration with the indigenous capitalists, political and military elites, Western governments directly and through NGOs were able to subvert and then revert to neoliberal policies once post-Arab Spring regimes took power in the name of 'reform' invariably equated with neoliberal policies. https://rs21.org.uk/2014/10/06/adam-hanieh-on-the-gulf-states-neoliberalism-and-liberation-in-the-middle-east/

In "Dying for Growth: Global Inequality and the Health of the Poor" Jim Yong Kim ed., 2000) contributing authors illustrate in case studies of several countries how the neoliberal status quo has diminished the welfare of billions of people in developing nations for the sake of growth that simply translates into even greater wealth concentration and misery for the world's poor. According to the study: "100 countries have undergone grave economic decline over the past three decades. Per capita income in these 100 countries is now lower than it was 10, 15, 20 or in some cases even 30 years ago. In Africa, the average household consumes 20 percent less today than it did 25 years ago. Worldwide, more than 1 billion people saw their real incomes fall during the period 1980-1993." http://www.mit.edu/~thistle/v13/2/imf.html

Anti-neoliberal groups assume different forms, depending on the nation's history, social and political elites, the nature of institutions and the degree it has been impacted by neoliberal policies that deregulate and eliminate as much of the social safety net as workers will tolerate. Even the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) that experienced rapid growth from the early 1990s until the great recession of 2008 have not escaped mass opposition to neoliberalism precisely because the impact on workers and peasants has been largely negative. https://www.cpim.org/views/quarter-century-neo-liberal-economic-policies-unending-distress-and-peasant-resistance ; Juan Pablo Ferrero, Democracy against Neoliberalism in Argentina and Brazil, 2014; Mimi Abramovitz and Jennifer Zelnick, " Double Jeopardy: The Impact of Neoliberalism on Care Workers in the United States and South Africa" , http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.2190/HS.40.1.f

Grassroots organizations opposed to policies that further integrate their countries into the world economy and marginalize the working class have been especially persistent in South Africa, Brazil, and India. To assuage if not co-opt the masses the BRICS followed a policy mix that combines neoliberalism, aspects of social welfare and statism. Combined with geopolitical opposition to US-NATO militarism and interventionism, the BRICS policies were an attempt to keep not just the national bourgeois loyal but the broader masses by projecting a commitment to national sovereignty.

In Brazil, India and South Africa internal and external corporate pressure along with US, EU, and IMF-World Bank pressures have been especially evident to embrace neoliberal policies and confront grassroots opposition rather than co-opt it at the cost of making concessions to labor. Considering that the development policies of the BRICS in the last three decades of neoliberal globalism accommodated domestic and foreign capital and were not geared to advance living standards for the broader working class and peasantry, grassroots opposition especially in Brazil, India and South Africa where the state structure is not nearly as powerful as in Russia and China manifested itself in various organizations.

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=12129 ; Walden Bello, The BRICS: Challenges to the Global Status Quo" , in https://www.thenation.com/article/brics-challengers-global-status-quo/

One of the grassroots organizations managing to keep its autonomy is Brazil's Landless Workers Movement (MST)skillfully remaining independent of both former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff. Although the MST supported some policies of theformer presidents who presented themselves as champions of labor rather than capital, both Lula and Rousseff made substantial policy compromises with the neoliberal camp and were eventually implicated in corruption scandals revealing opportunism behind policy-making. While the record of their policies on the poor speaks for itself, the Lula-Rousseff era of Partido dos Trabalhadores was an improvement over previous neoliberal president Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2003). https://monthlyreview.org/2017/02/01/the-brazilian-crisis/

The MST persisted with the struggle against neoliberal policies that have contributed to rising GDP heavily concentrated among the national and comprador bourgeoisie and foreign corporations. Other Latin American grassroots movements have had mixed results not much better than those in Brazil. Ecuador under president Rafael Correa tried to co-opt the leftby yielding on some policy issues as did Lula and Rousseff, while pursuing a neoliberal development model as much as his Brazilian counterparts. With its economy thoroughly integrated into the US economy, Mexico is a rather unique case where grassroots movements against neoliberalism are intertwined with the struggle against official corruption and the narco-trade resulting in the assassination of anti-neoliberal, anti-drug activists. (William Aviles, The Drug War in Mexico: Hegemony and Global Capitalism ;

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/231966134_Grassroots_Movements_and_Political_Activism_in_Latin_America_A_Critical_Comparison_of_Chile_and_Brazil ;

Anti-neoliberal resistance in the advanced countries has not manifested itself as it has in the developing nations through leftist movements such as South Africa's Abahlali baseMjondolo or Latin American trade unions that stress a working class philosophy of needs rather than the one of rights linked to middle class property and identity politics. https://roarmag.org/essays/south-africa-marikana-anc-poor/ Popular resistance to neoliberalism in the US has been part of the anti-globalization movement that includes various groups from environmentalists to anti-IMF-World Bank and anti-militarism groups.

Although there are some locally based groups like East Harlem-based Justice in El Barrio representing immigrants and low-income people, there is no national anti-neoliberal movement. Perhaps because of the war on terror, various anti-establishment pro-social justice groups assumed the form of bourgeois identity politics of both the Democratic Party and the Republican where some of the leaders use rightwing populism as an ideological means to push through neoliberal policies while containing grassroots anger resulting from social exclusion and institutional exploitation. https://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/the-legacy-of-anti-globalization

Black Lives Matter revolving around the systemic racism issue and Occupy Wall Street anti-capitalist group fell within the left orbit of the Democratic Party (Senator Bernie Sanders) who is an advocate of the pluralist-diversity model, opposes market fundamentalism,and proposes maintaining some vestiges of the Keynesian welfare state. With the exception of isolated voices by a handful of academics and some criticsusing social media as a platform, there is no anti-neoliberal grassroots movement that Democrats or Republicans has not successfully co-opted. Those refusing to be co-opted are invariably dismissed as everything from idealists to obstructionists. Certainlythere is nothing in the US like the anti-neoliberal groups in Brazil, India, Mexico, or South Africa operating autonomously and resisting co-optation by political parties. The absence of such movements in the US is a testament to the strong state structure andthe institutional power of the elites in comparison with many developing nations and even some parts of Europe. https://www.salon.com/2015/08/15/black_lives_matter_joins_a_long_line_of_protest_movements_that_have_shifted_public_opinion_most_recently_occupy_wall_street/

As an integrated economic bloc, Europe follows uniform neoliberal policies using as leverage monetary and trade policy but also the considerable EU budget at its disposal for subsidies and development. A number of European trade unions and leftist popular groups fell into the trap of following either Socialist or centrist parties which are pluralist neoliberal and defend some remnants of Keynesianism. Those disillusioned with mainstream Socialist Parties pursue the same neoliberal policies of social exclusion as the conservatives fell in line behind newly formed non-Communist reformist parties (PODEMOS in Spain, SYRIZA in Greece, for example) with a Keynesian platform and socialist rhetoric.

As the government of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras proved once in power in 2015, self-baptized 'leftist' parties areleftist in rhetoric only. When it comes to policy they are as neoliberal as the opposition they criticize; even more dangerous because they have deceived people to support them as the alternative to neoliberal conservatives. Because grassroots movements andthe popular base of political parties that promise 'reform' to benefit the masses are co-opted by centrists, center-left or rightwing political parties, social exclusion becomes exacerbated leading to disillusionment.

Consequently,people hoping for meaningful change become apathetic or they become angry and more radicalized often turning to rightwing political parties. Although there is a long-standing history of mainstream political parties co-opting grassroots movements, under neoliberalism the goal is to shape them intoan identity politics mold under the pluralist or rightwing populist camp. Behind the illusion of choice and layers of bourgeois issues ranging from property rights and individual rights rests a totalitarian system whose goal is popular compliance. https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/eliane-glaser/elites-right-wing-populism-and-left ;

http://www.inclusivedemocracy.org/journal/vol11/vol11_no1_Left_mythology_and_neoliberal_globalization_Syriza_and_Podemos.html

'De-democratization' under Neoliberalism

More subtly and stealthily interwoven into the institutional structure than totalitarian regimes of the interwar era, neoliberal totalitarianism has succeeded not because of the rightwing populist political camp but because of the pluralist one that supports both militarism in foreign affairs and police-state methods at home as a means of maintaining the social order while projecting the façade of democracy. Whereas the neoliberal surveillance state retains vestiges of pluralism and the façade of electoral choice, the police state in interwar Germany and Italy pursued blatant persecution of declared ideological dogmatism targeting 'enemies of the state' and demanding complete subjugation of citizens to theregime. Just as people were manipulated in interwar Europeinto accepting the totalitarian state as desirable and natural, so are many in our time misguided into supporting neoliberal totalitarianism.

In her book entitled Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution (2015), Wendy Brown argues that not just in the public sector, but in every sector of society neoliberal ideology of 'de-democratization' prevails. Extensions of a hierarchical economic system rather than citizens with civil and human rights guaranteed by a social contract aimed at the welfare of the collective, human beings are more commoditized today than they were in the nascent phase of industrial capitalism. The kind of ubiquitous transformation of the individual's identity with the superstructure and the 'de-democratization' of society operating under massively concentrated wealth institutionally intertwined with political power in our contemporary erawas evident in totalitarian countries during the interwar era.

Whereas protest and resistance, freedom of expression and assembly were not permitted by totalitarian regimes in interwar Europe, they are permitted in our time. However, they are so marginalized and/or demonized when analyzing critically mainstream institutions and the social contract under which they operate that they are the stigmatizedas illegitimate opposition. Permitting freedom of speech and assembly, along with due process and electoral politicsbest servesneoliberal socioeconomic totalitarianism because its apologists can claim the system operates in an 'open society'; a term that Karl Popper the ideological father of neo-conservatism coined to differentiate the West from the former Communist bloc closed societies.

As Italian journalist Claudio Hallo put it: "If the core of neoliberalism is a natural fact, as suggested by the ideology already embedded deep within our collective psyche, who can change it? Can you live without breathing, or stop the succession of days and nights? This is why Western democracy chooses among the many masks behind which is essentially the same liberal party. Change is not forbidden, change is impossible. Some consider this feature to be an insidious form of invisible totalitarianism. " https://www.rt.com/op-edge/171240-global-totalitarianism-change-neoliberalism/

Post-modern consumerist culture has inculcated into peoples' minds that they have never been so free yet they have never felt so helpless, as Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman has commented. Freedom is quantitatively measured based on materialist criteria at the individual rather than collective level and at a cost not just to the rest of society but to one's humanity and any sense of social responsibility sacrificed in the quest for atomistic pursuit.Not only the media, but government at all levels, educational institutions and the private sector incessantly reinforce the illusion of individual freedom within the context of the neoliberal totalitarian institutional structure. This is a sacred value above all others, including knowledge, creativity, and the welfare of society as a whole (public interest supplanted by private profit), as though each individual lives alone on her/his planet. https://thehumanist.com/magazine/march-april-2015/arts_entertainment/what-about-me-the-struggle-for-identity-in-a-market-based-society ; https://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/04/american-nightmare-the-depravity-of-neoliberalism/ ; https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/29/neoliberalism-economic-system-ethics-personality-psychopathicsthic ; https://www.academia.edu/28509196/Neoliberal_Illusions_of_Freedom

In an essay entitled "The unholy alliance of neoliberalism and postmodernism" , Hans van Zon argues that as the Western World'sdominant ideologies since the 1980s, "undermine the immune system of society, neoliberalism by commercialization of even the most sacred domains and postmodernism by its super-relativism and refusal to recognize any hierarchy in value or belief systems." http://www.imavo.be/vmt/13214-van%20Zon%20postmodernism.pdf . Beyond undermining society's immune system and the open society under capitalism, asHans van Zon contends, the convergence of these ideologies have contributed to the 'de-democratization' of society,the creation of illiberal institutions and collective consciousness of conformity to neoliberal totalitarianism. The success of neoliberalism inculcated into the collective consciousness is partly because of the long-standing East-West confrontation followed by the manufactured war on terror. However, it is also true that neoliberal apologists of both the pluralist and rightwing camp present the social contract as transcending politics because markets are above states, above society as 'objective' thus they can best determine the social good on the basis of commoditized value. (Joshua Ramsay, "Neoliberalism as Political Theology of Chance: the politics of divination." https://www.nature.com/articles/palcomms201539

An evolutionary course, the 'de-democratization' of society started in postwar US that imposed transformation policy on the world with the goal of maintaining its economic, political, military and cultural superpower hegemony justified in the name of anti-Communism. Transformation policy was at the root of the diffusion of the de-democratization process under neoliberalism, despite the European origin of the ideology. As it gradually regained its status in the core of the world economy after the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957, northwest Europe followed in the path of the US. http://www.eurstrat.eu/the-european-neoliberal-union/

Ten years before the Treaty of Rome that created the EEC,Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek gathered a number of scholars in Mont Pelerin where they founded the neoliberal society named after the Swiss village. They discussed strategies of influencing public policy intended to efface the Keynesian model on which many societies were reorganized to survive the Great Depression. Financed by some of Europe's wealthiest families, the Mont Pelerin Society grew of immense importance after its first meeting which coincided with the anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act, the Truman Doctrine formalizing the institutionalization of the Cold War, and the Marshall Plan intended to reintegrate Europe and its colonies and spheres of influence under the aegis of the US. Helped along by the IMF, World Bank, and the International Agreement on Tariffs and Trade established in 1947, US transformation policy was designed to shape the world to its own geopolitical and economic advantage based on a neo-classical macroeconomic and financial theoretical model on which neoliberal ideology rested. http://fpif.org/from_keynesianism_to_neoliberalism_shifting_paradigms_in_economics/

Considering that millionaires and billionaires providefunding for the Mont Pelerin Society and affiliates, this prototype neoliberal think tank became the intellectual pillar of both the pluralist and rightwing neoliberal camps by working with 460 think tanks that have organizations in 96 countries where they influence both centrist and rightwing political parties. Whether Hillary Clinton's and Emmanuel Macron's pluralist neoliberal globalist version or Donald Trump's and Narendra Modi's rightwing populist one, the Mont Pelerin Society and others sharing its ideology and goals exercise preeminent policy influence not on the merit of its ideas for the welfare of society but because the richest people from rightwing Czech billionaire Andrej Babisto liberal pluralist billionaireseither support its principles and benefit from their implementation into policy. (J. Peterson, Revoking the Moral Order: The Ideology of Positivism and the Vienna Circle , 1999; https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/09/rise-of-the-davos-class-sealed-americas-fate

If the neoliberal social contract is the answer to peoples' prayers world-wide as Hayek's followers insist, why is there a need on the part of the state, international organizations including UN agencies, billionaire and millionaire-funded think tanks, educational institutions and the corporate and state-owned media to convince the public that there is nothing better for society than massive capital concentration and social exclusion, and social conditions that in some respects resemble servitude in Medieval Europe? Why do ultra-rightwing Koch brothers and the Mercer family, among other billionaires and millionaires fromNorth America, Europe, India, South Korea and Latin America spend so much money to inculcate the neoliberal ideology into the collective consciousness andto persuade the public to elect neoliberal politicians either of the pluralist camp or the authoritarian one?

http://www.businessinsider.com/michael-bloomberg-forbes-rupert-murdoch-billionaires-2011-3 ; https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/01/no-one-knows-what-the-powerful-mercers-really-want/514529/

Seventy years after Hayek formed the Mont Leperin Societyto promotea future without totalitarianism, there are elected neoliberal politicians from both the pluralist and authoritarian camps with ties to big capital and organized crime amid the blurring lines between legal and illegal economic activities that encompasses everything from crypto-currency and insider trading to offshore 'shell corporations' and banks laundering money for drug lords and wealthy tax evaders. Surrender of popular sovereignty through the social contract now entails surrender to a class of people who are criminals, not only based on a social justice criteria but on existing law if it were only applied to them as it does to petty thieves. In the amoral Machiavellian world of legalized "criminal virtue" in which we live these are the leaders of society.Indicative of the perversion of values now rooted in atomism and greed, the media reports with glowingly admiring terms that in 2017 the world's 500 richest people became richer by $1 trillion, a rise that represents one-third of Africa's GDP and just under one-fifth of Latin America's. Rather than condemning mal-distribution ofincome considering what it entails for society, the media and many in the business of propagating for neoliberalism applaud appropriation within the legal framework of the social contract as a virtue. http://www.hindustantimes.com/business-news/500-richest-people-became-1-trillion-richer-in-2017-mukesh-ambani-tops-indian-list/story-JcNXhH9cCp2pzRopkoFdfL.html ; Bob Brecher, "Neoliberalism and its Threat to Moral Agency" in Virtue and Economy . ed. Andrius Bielskis and Kelvin Knight, 2015)

Neoliberalism has led to the greater legitimization of activities that would otherwise be illegal to the degree that the lines between the legitimate economy and organized criminal activity are blurred reflecting the flexible lines between legally-financed millionaire-backed elected officials and those with links to organized crime or to illegal campaign contributions always carrying an illegal quid-pro-quo legalized through public policy. Beyond the usual tax-haven suspects Panama, Cyprus, Bermuda, Malta, Luxemburg, among othersincluding states such as Nevada and Wyoming, leaders from former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to President Donald Trump with reputed ties to organized criminal networks have benefited from the neoliberal regime that they served. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/254953831_Economic_Crime_and_Neoliberal_Modes_of_Government_The_Example_of_the_Mediterranean )

Self-righteous pluralist neoliberals castigate rightwing billionaires for funding rightwing politicians. However, there is silence when it comes to the millions amassed by pluralist neoliberals as the infamous "Panama Papers" revealed in 2016. Despite the institutionalized kleptocracy, the mediahas indoctrinated the public to accept as 'normal' the converging interests of the capitalist class and ruling political class just as it has indoctrinated the public to accept social exclusion, social inequality, and poverty as natural and democratic; all part of the social contract.( http://revistes.uab.cat/tdevorado/article/view/v2-n1-armao ; Jose Manuel Sanchez Bermudez, The Neoliberal Pattern of Domination: Capital's Reign in Decline, 2012; https://www.globalresearch.ca/neoliberalisms-world-of-corruption-money-laundering-corporate-lobbying-drug-money/5519907

The Future of Neoliberalism

After the great recession of 2008, the future of neoliberalism became the subject of debate among politicians, journalists and academics. One school of thought was that the great recession had exposed the flaws in neoliberalism thus marking the beginning of its demise. The years since 2008 proved that in a twist of irony, the quasi-statist policies of China with its phenomenal growth have actually been responsible for sustaining neoliberalism globally and not just because China has been financing US public debt by buying treasuries while the US buys products made in China. This view holds that neoliberalism will continue to thrive so as long as China continues its global ascendancy, thus the warm reception to Beijing as the new globalist hegemonic power after Trump's noise about pursuing economic nationalism within the neoliberal model. (Barry Eichengreen, Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, the Great Recession and the Uses and Misuses of History , 2016; http://www.e-ir.info/2011/08/23/has-the-global-financial-crisis-challenged-us-power-in-international-finance/ )

China is not pursuing the kind of neoliberal model that exists in the US or the EU, but its economy is well integrated with the global neoliberal system and operates within those perimeters despite quasi-statist policies also found in other countries to a lesser degree. Adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP), China's current share of world GDP stands at 16% and at annual growth above 6% it is expected to reach 20%, by 2020. This in comparison with only 1.9% in 1979 and it explains why its currency is now among the IMF-recognized reserved currencies. With about half-a-million foreign companies in China and an average of 12,000 new companies entering every day, capitalists from all over the world are betting heavily on China's future as the world's preeminent capitalist core country in the 21 st century. China will play a determining role in the course of global neoliberalism, and it is politically willing to accept the US as the military hegemon while Beijing strives for economic preeminence. Interested in extracting greater profits from China while tempering its race to number one, Western businesses and governmentshave been pressuring Beijing to become more immersed in neoliberal policies and eliminate all elements of statism. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2012-09/22/content_15775312.htm ; https://en.portal.santandertrade.com/establish-overseas/china/foreign-investment

Although the US that has 450,000 troops in 800 foreign military bases in more than 150 countries and uses its military muscle along with 'soft-power' policies including sanctions as leverage for economic power, many governments and multinational corporations consider Beijing not Washington as a source of global stability and growth. With China breathing new life into neoliberalism on the promise of geographic and social convergence, it is fantasy to speculate that neoliberalism is in decline when in fact it is becoming more forcefully ubiquitous. However, China like the West that had promised geographic and social convergence in the last four decades of neoliberalism will not be any more successful in delivering on such promises. The resultof such policies will continue to be greater polarization and social exclusion and greater uneven development, with China and multinationals investing in its enterprises becoming richer while the US will continue to use militarism as leverage to retain global economic hegemony rapidly eroding from its grip. ( http://www.businessinsider.com/us-military-deployments-may-2017-5 ; http://www.zapruderworld.org/welfare-state-decline-and-rise-neoliberalism-1980s-some-approaches-between-latin-americas-core-and ; Dic Lo, Alternatives to Neoliberal Globalization , 2012)

Between China and the US, the world can expect neoliberal globalization to continue under the pluralist and populist rightwing models in different countries with the two converging and reflecting the totalitarian essence of the system at its core.Characterized by rapid development and sluggish growth in Japan and Western core countries, neoliberal globalization has entailed lack of income convergence between the developed and developing world where uneven export-oriented growth based on the primary sector keeps developingnations perpetually dependent and poor. Interestingly, the trend of falling incomes characteristic of the developing nations from 1980 to 2000 was just as true in Western countries. It was during these two decades of ascendant neoliberalism that rightwing populist movements began to challenge the pluralist neoliberal political camp and offering nationally-based neoliberal solutions, further adding to the system's existing contradictions. (Dic Lo, Alternatives to Neoliberal Globalization , 2012)

The debate whether the rise of populism or perhaps the faint voices of anti-capitalism will finally bring about the end of neoliberalism often centers on the digital-biotech revolution often blamed for exacerbating rather than solving social problems owing to uneven benefits accruing across social classes. It is somewhat surprising that IMF economists have questioned the wisdom of pursuing unfettered neoliberalism where there is a trade-off between economic growth andsocial exclusion owing to growing income inequality. Naturally, the IMF refrains from self-criticism and it would never suggest that neoliberal globalization that the Fund has been promoting is responsible for the rise of rightwing populism around the world.

Within the neoliberal camp, pluralist-diversity advocatesare satisfied they have done their part in the 'fight for democracy' when in fact their stealthy brand of the neoliberal social contract isin some respects more dangerous than the populist camp which is unapologetically candid about its pro-big business, pro-monopoly, pro-deregulation anti-social welfare platform. Shortly after Trump won the presidential election with the help of rightwing billionaires and disillusioned workers who actually believed that he represented them rather than the billionaires, an article appearing in the Christian Science Monitor is typical of how pluralist neoliberals view the global tide of rightwing populism.

"Worldwide, it has been a rough years for democracy. The UK, the United States and Colombia made critical decisions about their nations' future, and – at least from the perspective of liberal values and social justice – they decided poorly. Beyond the clear persistence of racism, sexism and xenophobia in people's decision-making, scholars and pundits have argued that to understand the results of recent popular votes, we must reflect on neoliberalism. International capitalism, which has dominated the globe for the past three decades, has its winners and its losers. And, for many thinkers, the losers have spoken. My fieldwork in South America has taught me that there are alternative and effective ways to push back against neoliberalism. These include resistance movements based on pluralism and alternative forms of social organisation, production and consumption." https://www.csmonitor.com/Technology/Breakthroughs-Voices/2016/1206/Opposing-neoliberalism-without-right-wing-populism-A-Latin-American-guide

Without analyzing the deeper causes of the global tide of rightwing populism promoting neoliberalism under an authoritarian political platform, pluralist-diversity neoliberals continue to promote socioeconomic policies that lead to social exclusion, inequality, and uneven development as long as they satisfy the cultural-lifestyle and corporate-based sustainable-development aspects of the social contract.Tolend legitimacy and public acceptance among those expecting a commitment to pluralism, the neoliberal pluralists embrace the superficialities and distraction of diversity and political correctness. Ironically, the political correctness trend started during theReagan administration's second term and served as a substitute for social justice that the government and the private sector were rapidly eroding along with the social welfare state and trade union rights. As long as there is'politically correctness', in public at least so that people feel they are part of a 'civilized' society, then public policy can continue on the barbaric path of social exclusion, police-state methods, and greater economic inequality.

https://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/fighting-trump-right-wing-populism-vs-neoliberalism/ ; http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2056305117733226

The future of neoliberalism includes the inevitability that social exclusion will lead to social uprisings especially as even some billionaires readily acknowledge the social contract favors them to the detriment of society. As the voices against systemic exploitation become louder,the likelihood will increase for authoritarian-police state policies if not regimes reflecting the neoliberal social contract's ubiquitous stranglehold on society. Although resistance to neoliberalism will continue to grow, the prospects for a social revolution in this century overturning the neoliberal order in advanced capitalist countries is highly unlikely. Twentieth century revolutions succeeded where the state structure was weak and people recognized that the hierarchical social order was the root cause of the chasm between the country's vast social exclusion coupled with stagnation vs. its potential for a more inclusive society where greater social equality and social justice would bean integral part of the social contract. (Donna L. Chollett, Neoliberalism, Social Exclusion, and Social Movements , 2013)

Despite everything pointing to the dynamics of a continued neoliberal social contract, diehard pluralists like British academic Martin Jacques and American economist Joseph Stiglitz insist there is hope for reformist change. In The Politics of Thatcherism (1983) Jacques applauded neoliberalism, but during the US presidential election in 2016 he had changed his mind, predicting neoliberalism's demise. He felt encouraged that other pluralist neoliberals like Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz were voicing their concerns signaling an interest in the debate about social inequality. In an article entitled "The death of neoliberalism and the crisis in western politics" , he wrote: "A sure sign of the declining influence of neoliberalism is the rising chorus of intellectual voices raised against it. From the mid-70s through the 80s, the economic debate was increasingly dominated by monetarists and free marketeers." https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/21/death-of-neoliberalism-crisis-in-western-politics

Along with Krugman, Stiglitz and others in the pluralist camp favoring a policy mix that includes Keynesianism,Martin Jacques, Thomas Picketty and others like them around the world doenjoy some small influence with the pluralist-diversity camp. However, the demise of neoliberalism will not result from intellectual critiques regardless of the merits. On the contrary, the neoliberal social contract is solidifying not evolving toward dissolution. This is largely because the dynamics of the social order continue to favor it and the opposition is split between ultra-right nationalists, pluralists of varying sorts resting on hope of restoring Keynesian rationalism in the capitalist system, and the very weak and divided leftists in just about every country and especially the core ones. https://theconversation.com/if-we-are-reaching-neoliberal-capitalisms-end-days-what-comes-next-72366

Neoliberalism's inherent contradictions will result in its demise andthe transition into a new phase of capitalism. Among the most obvious and glaring contradictions is that the ideology promotes freedom and emancipation when in practice it is a totalitarian system aimed to mold society and the individual into conformity of its dogmatic market fundamentalism.Another contradiction is the emphasis of a borderless global market, while capitalists operate within national borders and are impacted by national policies that often collide at the international level as the competition intensifies for market share just as was the case in the four decades before the outbreak of WWI. Adding to the list of contradictions that finds expression the debate between neoliberal rightwingers and pluralists is the issue of "value-free" market fundamentalism while at the same time neoliberals conduct policy that has very strong moral consequences in peoples' lives precisely because of extremely uneven income distribution.

The enigma in neoliberalism's futureis the role of grassroots movements that are in a position to impact change but have failed thus far to make much impact. Most people embrace the neoliberal political parties serving the same capitalist class, operating under the illusion of a messiah politician delivering the promise of salvation either from the pluralist or authoritarian wing of neoliberalism. The turning point for systemic change emanates from within the system that fails to serve the vast majority of the people as it is riddled with contradictions that become more evident and the elites become increasingly contentious about how to divide the economic pie and how to mobilize popular support behind mainstream political parties so they can maintain the social order under an unsustainable political economy. At that juncture, the neoliberal social contract suffersan irrevocable crisis of public confidence on a mass scale. Regardless under which political regime neoliberalism operates, people will eventually reject hegemonic cultural indoctrination. A critical mass in society has not reached this juncture. Nevertheless, social discontinuity is an evolutionary process and the contradictions in neoliberalism will continue to cause political disruption, economic disequilibrium and social upheaval.

Jon V. Kofas , Ph.D. – Retired university professor of history – author of ten academic books and two dozens scholarly articles. Specializing in International Political economy, Kofas has taught courses and written on US diplomatic history, and the roles of the World Bank and IMF in the world.

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In "World" Tags: Economy , Neoliberalism 2 Comments

  1. David Anderson January 11, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    Excellent essay.

    Neo-Liberalism in America is an underlying political philosophy based on belief in the sanctity of personal "freedom" with the conviction that this freedom is expressed through self-determination. It extends back to the early settlement and then the writing of transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) who popularized the expression "self-reliance." In the recent American election it underlay the Donald Trump code words: "what makes America great again." Ronald Reagan took advantage of it with his derisive use of the term "welfare queens." It undergirds the foundation of today's Republican Party.

    It will bring an end to the American experiment.

  2. sundar January 13, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    Very well explained and educative. Attempts to present alternatives to present neoliberal econamics. But needs several readings to digest.

[Aug 18, 2018] Corporate Media the Enemy of the People by Paul Street

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The dominant corporate U.S. media routinely exaggerates the degree of difference and choice between the candidates run by the nation's two corporate-dominated political organizations, the Democrats and the Republicans. It never notes that the two reigning parties agree about far more than they differ on, particularly when it comes to fundamental and related matters of business class power and American Empire. It shows U.S. protestors engaged in angry confrontations with police and highlights isolated examples of protestor violence but it downplays peaceful protest and never pays serious attention to the important societal and policy issues that have sparked protest or to the demands and recommendations advanced by protest movements. ..."
"... Newscasters who want to keep their careers afloat learn the fine art of evasion with great skill they skirt around the most important parts of a story. With much finesse, they say a lot about very little, serving up heaps of junk news filled with so many empty calories and so few nutrients. Thus do they avoid offending those who wield politico-economic power while giving every appearance of judicious moderation and balance. It is enough to take your breath away ..."
"... In U.S. "mainstream" media, Washington's aims are always benevolent and democratic. Its clients and allies are progressive, its enemies are nefarious, and its victims are invisible and incidental. The U.S. can occasionally make "mistakes" and "strategic blunders" on the global stage, but its foreign policies are never immoral, criminal, or imperialist in nature as far as that media is concerned. This is consistent with the doctrine of "American Exceptionalism," according to which the U.S., alone among great powers in history, seeks no selfish or imperial gain abroad. It is consistent also with "mainstream" U.S. media's heavy reliance on "official government sources" (the White House, the Defense Department, and the State Department) and leading business public relations and press offices for basic information on current events. ..."
"... U.S. citizens regularly see images of people who are angry at the U.S. around the world. The dominant mass media never gives them any serious discussion of the US policies and actions that create that anger. Millions of Americans are left to ask in childlike ignorance "Why do they hate us? What have we done?" ..."
"... If transmitting Washington's lies about Iraq were something to be fired about, then U.S. corporate media authorities would have to get rid of pretty much of all their top broadcasters. ..."
"... The U.S. corporate media's propagandistic service to the nation's reigning and interrelated structures of Empire and inequality is hardly limited to its news and public affairs wings. Equally if not more significant in that regard is that media's vast "entertainment" sector, which is loaded with political and ideological content ..."
"... Seen broadly in its many-sided and multiply delivered reality, U.S. corporate media's dark, power-serving mission actually goes further than the manufacture of consent. A deeper goal is the manufacture of mass idiocy, with "idiocy" understood in the original Greek and Athenian sense not of stupidity but of childish selfishness and willful indifference to public affairs and concerns. (An "idiot" in Athenian democracy was characterized by self-centeredness and concerned almost exclusively with private instead of public affairs.). As the U.S. Latin Americanist Cathy Schneider noted, the U.S.-backed military coup and dictatorship headed by Augusto Pinochet "transformed Chile, both culturally and politically, from a country of active participatory grassroots communities, to a land of disconnected, apolitical individuals"[7] – into a nation of "idiots" understood in this classic Athenian sense. ..."
"... To be sure, a narrow and reactionary sort of public concern and engagement does appear and take on a favorable light in this corporate media culture. It takes the form of a cruel, often even sadistically violent response to unworthy and Evil Others who are perceived as failing to obey prevalent national and neoliberal cultural codes. Like the U.S. ruling class that owns it, the purportedly anti-government corporate media isn't really opposed to government as such. It's opposed to what the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu called "the left hand of the state" – the parts of the public sector that serve the social and democratic needs of the non-affluent majority. ..."
"... The generation of mass idiocy in the more commonly understood sense of sheer stupidity is also a central part of U.S. "mainstream" media's mission. Nowhere is this more clearly evident than in the constant barrage of rapid-fire advertisements that floods U.S. corporate media. ..."
"... There's nothing surprising about the fact that the United States' supposedly "free" and "independent" media functions as a means of mass indoctrination for the nation's economic and imperial elite ..."
"... A second explanation is the power of advertisers. U.S. media managers are naturally reluctant to publish or broadcast material that might offend the large corporations that pay for broadcasting by purchasing advertisements. ..."
"... A third great factor is U.S. government media policy and regulation on behalf of oligopolistic hyper-concentration. The U.S. corporate media is hardly a "natural" outcome of a "free market." It's the result of government protections and subsidies that grant enormous "competitive" advantages to the biggest and most politically/plutocratically influential media firms. ..."
"... In this writer's experience, the critical Left analysis of the U.S. "mainstream" media as a tool for "manufacturing consent" and idiocy developed above meets four objections from defenders of the U.S. media system, A first objection notes that the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times (FT), the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and other major U.S. corporate media outlets produce a significant amount of, informative, high-quality and often candid reporting and commentary that Left thinkers and activists commonly cite to support their cases for radical and democratic change. ..."
"... The observation that Leftists commonly use and cite information from the corporate media they harshly criticize is correct but it is easy to account for the apparent anomaly within the critical Left framework by noting that that media crafts two very different versions of U.S. policy, politics, society, "life," and current events for two different audiences. Following the work of the brilliant Australian propaganda critic Alex Carey, we can call the first audience the "grassroots."[14] It comprises the general mass of working and lower-class citizens. ..."
"... The second target group comprises the relevant political class of U.S. citizens from at most the upper fifth of society. This is who reads the Times, the Post, WSJ, and FT, for the most part. Call this audience (again following Carey) the "treetops": the "people who matter" and who deserve and can be trusted with something more closely approximating the real story because their minds have been properly disciplined and flattered by superior salaries, significant on-the-job labor autonomy, and "advanced" and specialized educational and professional certification. ..."
"... To everyday Americans' credit, corporate media has never been fully successful in stamping out popular resistance and winning over the hearts and minds of the U.S. populace. ..."
"... The U.S. elite is no more successful in its utopian (or dystopian) quest to control every American heart and mind than it is in its equally impossible ambition of managing events across a complex planet from the banks of the Potomac River in Washington D.C ..."
Aug 18, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

"Homeland" Distortion

Consistent with its possession as a leading and money-making asset of the nation's wealthy elite, the United States corporate and commercial mass media is a bastion of power-serving propaganda and deadening twaddle designed to keep the U.S. citizenry subordinated to capital and the imperial U.S. state. It regularly portrays the United States as a great model of democracy and equality. It sells a false image of the U.S. as a society where the rich enjoy opulence because of hard and honest work and where the poor are poor because of their laziness and irresponsibility. The nightly television news broadcasts and television police and law and order dramas are obsessed with violent crime in the nation's Black ghettoes and Latino barrios, but they never talk about the extreme poverty, the absence of opportunity imposed on those neighborhoods by the interrelated forces of institutional racism, capital flight, mass structural unemployment, under-funded schools, and mass incarceration. The nightly television weather reports tells U.S. citizens of ever new record high temperatures and related forms of extreme weather but never relate these remarkable meteorological developments to anthropogenic climate change.

The dominant corporate U.S. media routinely exaggerates the degree of difference and choice between the candidates run by the nation's two corporate-dominated political organizations, the Democrats and the Republicans. It never notes that the two reigning parties agree about far more than they differ on, particularly when it comes to fundamental and related matters of business class power and American Empire. It shows U.S. protestors engaged in angry confrontations with police and highlights isolated examples of protestor violence but it downplays peaceful protest and never pays serious attention to the important societal and policy issues that have sparked protest or to the demands and recommendations advanced by protest movements.

As the prolific U.S. Marxist commentator Michael Parenti once remarked, US "Newscasters who want to keep their careers afloat learn the fine art of evasion with great skill they skirt around the most important parts of a story. With much finesse, they say a lot about very little, serving up heaps of junk news filled with so many empty calories and so few nutrients. Thus do they avoid offending those who wield politico-economic power while giving every appearance of judicious moderation and balance. It is enough to take your breath away." [1]

Selling Empire

U.S. newscasters and their print media counterparts routinely parrot and disseminate the false foreign policy claims of the nation's imperial elite. Earlier this year, U.S. news broadcasters dutiful relayed to U.S. citizens the Obama administration's preposterous assertion that social-democratic Venezuela is a repressive, corrupt, and authoritarian danger to its own people and the U.S. No leading national U.S. news outlet dared to note the special absurdity of this charge in the wake of Obama and other top U.S. officials' visit to Riyadh to guarantee U.S. support for the new king of Saudi Arabia, the absolute ruler of a leading U.S. client state that happens to be the most brutally oppressive and reactionary government on Earth.

In U.S. "mainstream" media, Washington's aims are always benevolent and democratic. Its clients and allies are progressive, its enemies are nefarious, and its victims are invisible and incidental. The U.S. can occasionally make "mistakes" and "strategic blunders" on the global stage, but its foreign policies are never immoral, criminal, or imperialist in nature as far as that media is concerned. This is consistent with the doctrine of "American Exceptionalism," according to which the U.S., alone among great powers in history, seeks no selfish or imperial gain abroad. It is consistent also with "mainstream" U.S. media's heavy reliance on "official government sources" (the White House, the Defense Department, and the State Department) and leading business public relations and press offices for basic information on current events.

As the leading Left U.S. intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman showed in their classic text Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988), Orwellian double standards are rife in the dominant U.S. media's coverage and interpretation of global affairs. Elections won in other countries by politicians that Washington approves because those politicians can be counted on to serve the interests of U.S. corporations and the military are portrayed in U.S. media as good and clean contests. But when elections put in power people who can't be counted on to serve "U.S. interests," (Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro for example), then U.S. corporate media portrays the contests as "rigged" and "corrupt." When Americans or people allied with Washington are killed or injured abroad, they are "worthy victims" and receive great attention and sympathy in that media. People killed, maimed, displaced and otherwise harmed by the U.S. and U.S. clients and allies are anonymous and "unworthy victims" whose experience elicits little mention or concern.[2]

U.S. citizens regularly see images of people who are angry at the U.S. around the world. The dominant mass media never gives them any serious discussion of the US policies and actions that create that anger. Millions of Americans are left to ask in childlike ignorance "Why do they hate us? What have we done?"

In February of 2015, an extraordinary event occurred in U.S. news media – the firing of a leading national news broadcaster, Brian Williams of NBC News. Williams lost his position because of some lies he told in connection with the U.S. invasion of Iraq. A naïve outsider might think that Williams was fired because he repeated the George W. Bush administration's transparent fabrications about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's supposed connection to 9/11. Sadly but predictably enough, that wasn't his problem. Williams lost his job because he falsely boasted that he had ridden on a helicopter that was forced down by grenade fire during the initial U.S. invasion. If transmitting Washington's lies about Iraq were something to be fired about, then U.S. corporate media authorities would have to get rid of pretty much of all their top broadcasters.

More than Entertainment

The U.S. corporate media's propagandistic service to the nation's reigning and interrelated structures of Empire and inequality is hardly limited to its news and public affairs wings. Equally if not more significant in that regard is that media's vast "entertainment" sector, which is loaded with political and ideological content but was completely ignored in Herman and Chomsky's groundbreaking Manufacturing Consent. [3] One example is the Hollywood movie "Zero Dark Thirty," a 2012 "action thriller" that dramatized the United States' search for Osama bin-Laden after the September 11, 2001 jetliner attacks. The film received critical acclaim and was a box office-smash. It was also a masterpiece of pro-military, pro-CIA propaganda, skillfully portraying U.S. torture practices "as a dirty, ugly business that is necessary to protect America" (Glenn Greenwald[4]) and deleting the moral debate that erupted over the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques." Under the guise of a neutral, documentary-like façade, Zero Dark Thirty normalized and endorsed torture in ways that were all the more effective because of its understated, detached, and "objective" veneer. The film also marked a distressing new frontier in U.S. military-"embedded" filmmaking whereby the movie-makers receive technical and logistical support from the Pentagon in return for producing elaborate public relations on the military's behalf.

The 2014-15 Hollywood blockbuster American Sniper is another example. The film's audiences is supposed to marvel at the supposedly noble feats, sacrifice, and heroism of Chris Kyle, a rugged, militantly patriotic, and Christian-fundamentalist Navy SEALS sniper who participated in the U.S. invasion of Iraq to fight "evil" and to avenge the al Qaeda jetliner attacks of September 11, 2001. Kyle killed 160 Iraqis over four tours of "duty" in "Operational Iraqi Freedom." Viewers are never told that the Iraqi government had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks or al Qaeda or that the U.S. invasion was one of the most egregiously criminal and brazenly imperial and mass-murderous acts in the history of international violence. Like Zero Dark Thirty's apologists, American Sniper's defenders claim that the film takes a neutral perspective of "pure storytelling," with no ideological bias. In reality, the movie is filled with racist and imperial distortions, functioning as flat-out war propaganda.[5]

These are just two among many examples that could be cited of U.S. "entertainment" media's regular service to the American Empire. Hollywood and other parts of the nation's vast corporate entertainment complex plays the same power-serving role in relation to domestic ("homeland") American inequality and oppression structures of class and race. [6]

Manufacturing Idiocy

Seen broadly in its many-sided and multiply delivered reality, U.S. corporate media's dark, power-serving mission actually goes further than the manufacture of consent. A deeper goal is the manufacture of mass idiocy, with "idiocy" understood in the original Greek and Athenian sense not of stupidity but of childish selfishness and willful indifference to public affairs and concerns. (An "idiot" in Athenian democracy was characterized by self-centeredness and concerned almost exclusively with private instead of public affairs.). As the U.S. Latin Americanist Cathy Schneider noted, the U.S.-backed military coup and dictatorship headed by Augusto Pinochet "transformed Chile, both culturally and politically, from a country of active participatory grassroots communities, to a land of disconnected, apolitical individuals"[7] – into a nation of "idiots" understood in this classic Athenian sense.

In the U.S., where violence is not as readily available to elites as in 1970s Latin America, corporate America seeks the same terrible outcome through its ideological institutions, including above all its mass media. In U.S. movies, television sit-coms, television dramas, television reality-shows, commercials, state Lottery advertisements, and video games, the ideal-type U.S. citizen is an idiot in this classic sense: a person who cares about little more than his or her own well-being, consumption, and status. This noble American idiot is blissfully indifferent to the terrible prices paid by others for the maintenance of reigning and interrelated oppressions structures at home and abroad.

A pervasive theme in this media culture is the notion that people at the bottom of the nation's steep and interrelated socioeconomic and racial pyramids are the "personally irresponsible" and culturally flawed makers of their own fate. The mass U.S. media's version of Athenian idiocy "can imagine," in the words of the prolific Left U.S. cultural theorist Henry Giroux "public issues only as private concerns." It works to "erase the social from the language of public life so as to reduce" questions of racial and socioeconomic disparity to "private issues of individual character and cultural depravity. Consistent with "the central neoliberal tenet that all problems are private rather than social in nature," it portrays the only barriers to equality and meaningful democratic participation as "a lack of principled self-help and moral responsibility" and bad personal choices by the oppressed. Government efforts to meaningfully address and ameliorate (not to mention abolish) societal disparities of race, class, gender, ethnicity, nationality and the like are portrayed as futile, counterproductive, naïve, and dangerous.[8]

To be sure, a narrow and reactionary sort of public concern and engagement does appear and take on a favorable light in this corporate media culture. It takes the form of a cruel, often even sadistically violent response to unworthy and Evil Others who are perceived as failing to obey prevalent national and neoliberal cultural codes. Like the U.S. ruling class that owns it, the purportedly anti-government corporate media isn't really opposed to government as such. It's opposed to what the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu called "the left hand of the state" – the parts of the public sector that serve the social and democratic needs of the non-affluent majority. It celebrates and otherwise advances the "right hand of the state"[9]: the portions of government that serve the opulent minority, dole out punishment for the poor, and attacks those perceived as nefariously resisting the corporate and imperial order at home and abroad. Police officers, prosecutors, military personnel, and other government authorities who represent the "right hand of the state" are heroes and role models in this media. Public defenders, other defense attorneys, civil libertarians, racial justice activists, union leaders, antiwar protesters and the like are presented at best as naïve and irritating "do-gooders" and at worst as coddlers and even agents of evil.

The generation of mass idiocy in the more commonly understood sense of sheer stupidity is also a central part of U.S. "mainstream" media's mission. Nowhere is this more clearly evident than in the constant barrage of rapid-fire advertisements that floods U.S. corporate media. As the American cultural critic Neil Postman noted thirty years ago, the modern U.S. television commercial is the antithesis of the rational economic consideration that early Western champions of the profits system claimed to be the enlightened essence of capitalism. "Its principal theorists, even its most prominent practitioners," Postman noted, "believed capitalism to be based on the idea that both buyer and seller are sufficiently mature, well-informed, and reasonable to engage in transactions of mutual self-interest." Commercials make "hash" out of this idea. They are dedicated to persuading consumers with wholly irrational claims. They rely not on the reasoned presentation of evidence and logical argument but on suggestive emotionalism, infantilizing manipulation, and evocative, rapid-fire imagery.[10]

The same techniques poison U.S. electoral politics. Investment in deceptive and manipulative campaign commercials commonly determines success or failure in mass-marketed election contests between business-beholden candidates that are sold to the audience/electorate like brands of toothpaste and deodorant. Fittingly enough, the stupendous cost of these political advertisements is a major factor driving U.S. campaign expenses so high (the 2016 U.S. presidential election will cost at least $5 billion) as to make candidates ever more dependent on big money corporate and Wall Street donors.

Along the way, mass cognitive competence is assaulted by the numbing, high-speed ubiquity of U.S. television and radio advertisements. These commercials assault citizens' capacity for sustained mental focus and rational deliberation nearly sixteen minutes of every hour on cable television, with 44 percent of the individual ads now running for just 15 seconds. This is a factor in the United States' long-bemoaned epidemic of "Attention Deficit Disorder."

Seventy years ago, the brilliant Dutch left Marxist Anton Pannekoek offered some chilling reflections on the corporate print and broadcast media's destructive impact on mass cognitive and related social resistance capacities in the United States after World War II:

"The press is of course entirely in hands of big capital [and it] dominates the spiritual life of the American people. The most important thing is not even the hiding of all truth about the reign of big finance. Its aim still more is the education to thoughtlessness. All attention is directed to coarse sensations, everything is avoided that could arouse thinking. Papers are not meant to be read – the small print is already a hindrance – but in a rapid survey of the fat headlines to inform the public on unimportant news items, on family triflings of the rich, on sexual scandals, on crimes of the underworld, on boxing matches. The aim of the capitalist press all over the world, the diverting of the attention of the masses from the reality of social development, nowhere succeed with such thoroughness as in America."

"Still more than by the papers the masses are influenced by broadcasting and film. These products of most perfect science, destined at one time to the finest educational instruments of mankind, now in the hands of capitalism have been turned into the strongest means to uphold its rule by stupefying the mind. Because after nerve-straining fatigue the movie offers relaxation and distraction by means of simple visual impressions that make no demand on the intellect, the masses get used to accepting thoughtlessly all its cunning and shrewd propaganda. It reflects the ugliest sides of middle-class society. It turns all attention either to sexual life, in this society – by the absence of community feelings and fight for freedom – the only source of strong passions, or to brute violence; masses educated to rough violence instead of to social knowledge are not dangerous to capitalism "[11]

Pannekoek clearly saw an ideological dimension (beyond just diversion and stupefaction) in U.S. mass media's "education to thoughtlessness" through movies as well as print sensationalism. He would certainly be impressed and perhaps depressed by the remarkably numerous, potent, and many-sided means of mass distraction and indoctrination that are available to the U.S. and global capitalist media in the present digital and Internet era.

The "entertainment" wing of its vast corporate media complex is critical to the considerable "soft" ideological "power" the U.S. exercises around the world even as its economic hegemony wanes in an ever more multipolar global system (and as its "hard" military reveals significant limits within and beyond the Middle East). Relatively few people beneath the global capitalist elite consume U.S. news and public affairs media beyond the U.S., but "American" (U.S.) movies, television shows, video games, communication devices, and advertising culture are ubiquitous across the planet.

Explaining "Mainstream" Media Corporate Ownership

There's nothing surprising about the fact that the United States' supposedly "free" and "independent" media functions as a means of mass indoctrination for the nation's economic and imperial elite. The first and most important explanation for this harsh reality is concentrated private ownership – the fundamental fact that that media is owned primarily by giant corporations representing wealthy interests who are deeply invested in U.S. capitalism and Empire. Visitors to the U.S. should not be fooled by the large number and types of channels and stations on a typical U.S. car radio or television set or by the large number and types of magazines and books on display at a typical Barnes & Noble bookstore. Currently in the U.S., just six massive and global corporations – Comcast, Viacom, Time Warner, CBS, The News Corporation and Disney – together control more than 90 percent of the nation's print and electronic media, including cable television, airwaves television, radio, newspapers, movies, video games, book publishing, comic books, and more. Three decades ago, 50 corporations controlled the same amount of U.S. media.

Each of the reigning six companies is a giant and diversified multi-media conglomerate with investments beyond media, including "defense" (the military). Asking reporters and commentators at one of those giant corporations to tell the unvarnished truth about what's happening in the U.S. and the world is like asking the company magazine published by the United Fruit Company to the tell the truth about working conditions in its Caribbean and Central American plantations in the 1950s. It's like asking the General Motors company newspaper to tell the truth about wages and working conditions in GM's auto assembly plants around the world.

As the nation's media becomes concentrated into fewer corporate hands, media personnel become ever more insecure in their jobs because they have fewer firms to whom to sell their skills. That makes them even less willing than they might have been before to go outside official sources, to question the official line, and to tell the truth about current events and the context in which they occur.

Advertisers

A second explanation is the power of advertisers. U.S. media managers are naturally reluctant to publish or broadcast material that might offend the large corporations that pay for broadcasting by purchasing advertisements. As Chomsky has noted in a recent interview, large corporations are not only the major producers of the United States' mass and commercial media. They are also that media's top market, something that deepens the captivity of nation's supposedly democratic and independent media to big capital:

"The reliance of a journal on advertisers shapes and controls and substantially determines what is presented to the public the very idea of advertiser reliance radically distorts the concept of free media. If you think about what the commercial media are, no matter what, they are businesses. And a business produces something for a market. The producers in this case, almost without exception, are major corporations. The market is other businesses – advertisers. The product that is presented to the market is readers (or viewers), so these are basically major corporations providing audiences to other businesses, and that significantly shapes the nature of the institution."[12]

At the same time, both U.S. corporate media managers and the advertisers who supply revenue for their salaries are hesitant to produce content that might alienate the affluent people who count for an ever rising share of consumer purchases in the U.S. It is naturally those with the most purchasing power who are naturally most targeted by advertisers.

Government Policy

A third great factor is U.S. government media policy and regulation on behalf of oligopolistic hyper-concentration. The U.S. corporate media is hardly a "natural" outcome of a "free market." It's the result of government protections and subsidies that grant enormous "competitive" advantages to the biggest and most politically/plutocratically influential media firms. Under the terms of the 1934 Communications Act and the 1996 Telecommunications Act, commercial, for-profit broadcasters have almost completely free rein over the nation's airwaves and cable lines. There is no substantive segment of the broadcast spectrum set aside for truly public interest and genuinely democratic, popular not-for profit media and the official "public" broadcasting networks are thoroughly captive to corporate interests and to right-wing politicians who take giant campaign contributions from corporate interests. Much of the 1996 bill was written by lobbyists working for the nations' leading media firms. [13]

A different form of state policy deserves mention. Under the Obama administration, we have seen the most aggressive pursuit and prosecution in recent memory of U.S. journalists who step outside the narrow parameters of pro-U.S. coverage and commentary – and of the whistleblowers who provide them with leaked information. That is why Edward Snowden lives in Russia, Glenn Greenwald lives in Brazil, Chelsea Manning is serving life in a U.S. military prison, and Julian Assange is trapped in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. A leading New York Times reporter and author, James Risen, has been threatened with imprisonment by the White House for years because of his refusal to divulge sources.

Treetops v. Grassroots Audiences

In this writer's experience, the critical Left analysis of the U.S. "mainstream" media as a tool for "manufacturing consent" and idiocy developed above meets four objections from defenders of the U.S. media system, A first objection notes that the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times (FT), the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and other major U.S. corporate media outlets produce a significant amount of, informative, high-quality and often candid reporting and commentary that Left thinkers and activists commonly cite to support their cases for radical and democratic change. Left U.S. media critics like Chomsky and Herman are said to be hypocrites because they obviously find much that is of use as Left thinkers in the very media that they criticize for distorting reality in accord with capitalist and imperial dictates.

The observation that Leftists commonly use and cite information from the corporate media they harshly criticize is correct but it is easy to account for the apparent anomaly within the critical Left framework by noting that that media crafts two very different versions of U.S. policy, politics, society, "life," and current events for two different audiences. Following the work of the brilliant Australian propaganda critic Alex Carey, we can call the first audience the "grassroots."[14] It comprises the general mass of working and lower-class citizens. As far as the business elites who own and manage the U.S. mass media and the corporations that pay for that media with advertising purchases are concerned, this "rabble" cannot be trusted with serious, candid, and forthright information. Its essential role in society is to keep quiet, work hard, be entertained (in richly propagandistic and ideological ways, we should remember), buy things, and generally do what they're told. They are to leave key societal decisions to those that the leading 20th century U.S. public intellectual and media-as-propaganda enthusiast Walter Lippman called "the responsible men." That "intelligent," benevolent, "expert," and "responsible" elite (responsible, indeed, for such glorious accomplishments as the Great Depression, the Vietnam War, the invasion of Iraq, the Great Recession, global warming, and the rise of the Islamic State) needed, in Lippman's view, to be protected from what he called "the trampling and roar of the bewildered herd."[15] The deluded mob, the sub-citizenry, the dangerous working class majority is not the audience for elite organs like the Times, the Post, and the Journal.

The second target group comprises the relevant political class of U.S. citizens from at most the upper fifth of society. This is who reads the Times, the Post, WSJ, and FT, for the most part. Call this audience (again following Carey) the "treetops": the "people who matter" and who deserve and can be trusted with something more closely approximating the real story because their minds have been properly disciplined and flattered by superior salaries, significant on-the-job labor autonomy, and "advanced" and specialized educational and professional certification. This elite includes such heavily indoctrinated persons as corporate managers, lawyers, public administrators, and (most) tenured university professors. Since these elites carry out key top-down societal tasks of supervision, discipline, training, demoralization, co-optation, and indoctrination – all essential to the rule of the real economic elite and the imperial system – they cannot be too thoroughly misled about current events and policy without deleterious consequences for the smooth functioning of the dominant social and political order. They require adequate information and must not be overly influenced by the brutal and foolish propaganda generated for the "bewildered herd." At the same time, information and commentary for the relevant and respectable business and political classes and their "coordinator class" servants and allies often contains a measure of reasoned and sincere intra-elite political and policy debate – debate that is always careful not to stray beyond narrow U.S. ideological parameters. That is why a radical Left U.S. thinker and activist can find much that is of use in U.S. "treetops" media. Such a thinker or activist would, indeed, be foolish not to consult these sources.

"P"BS and N"P"R

A second objection to the Left critique of U.S. "mainstream" media claims that the U.S. public enjoys a meaningful alternative to the corporate media in the form of the nation's Public Broadcasting Service (television) and National Public Radio (NPR). This claim should not be taken seriously. Thanks to U.S. "public" media's pathetically weak governmental funding, its heavy reliance on corporate sponsors, and its constant harassment by right wing critics inside and beyond the U.S. Congress, N"P"R and "P"BS are extremely reluctant to question dominant U.S. ideologies and power structures.

The tepid, power-serving conservatism of U.S. "public" broadcasting is by longstanding political and policy design. The federal government allowed the formation of the "public" networks only on the condition that they pose no competitive market or ideological challenge to private commercial media, the profits system, and U.S. global foreign policy. "P"BS and N"P"R are "public" in a very limited sense. They not function for the public over and against corporate, financial, and imperial power to any significant degree.

"The Internet Will Save Us"

A third objection claims that the rise of the Internet creates a "Wild West" environment in which the power of corporate media is eviscerated and citizens can find and even produce all the "alternative media" they require. This claim is misleading but it should not be reflexively or completely dismissed. In the U.S. as elsewhere, those with access to the Internet and the time and energy to use it meaningfully can find a remarkable breadth and depth of information and trenchant Left analysis at various online sites. The Internet also broadens U.S. citizens and activists' access to media networks beyond the U.S. – to elite sources that are much less beholden of course to U.S. propaganda and ideology. At the same time, the Internet and digital telephony networks have at times shown themselves to be effective grassroots organizing tools for progressive U.S. activists.

Still, the democratic and progressive impact of the Internet in the U.S. is easily exaggerated. Left and other progressive online outlets lack anything close to the financial, technical, and organizational and human resources of the corporate news media, which has its own sophisticated Internet. There is nothing in Left other citizen online outlets that can begin to remotely challenge the "soft" ideological and propagandistic power of corporate "entertainment" media. The Internet's technical infrastructure is increasingly dominated by an "ISP cartel" led by a small number of giant corporations. As the leading left U.S. media analyst Robert McChesney notes:

"By 2014, there are only a half-dozen or so major players that dominate provision of broadband Internet access and wireless Internet access. Three of them – Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast – dominate the field of telephony and Internet access, and have set up what is in effect a cartel. They no longer compete with each other in any meaningful sense. As a result, Americans pay far more for cellphone and broadband Internet access than most other advanced nations and get much lousier service These are not 'free market' companies in any sense of the term. Their business model, going back to pre-Internet days, has always been capturing government monopoly licenses for telephone and cable TV services. Their 'comparative advantage' has never been customer service; it has been world-class lobbying.' [16]

Along the way, the notion of a great "democratizing," Wild West" and "free market" Internet has proved politically useful for the corporate media giants. The regularly trumpet the great Internet myth to claim that the U.S. public and regulators don't need to worry about corporate media power and to justify their demands for more government subsidy and protection. At the same time, finally, we know from the revelations of Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and others that the nation's leading digital and Internet-based e-mail (Google and Yahoo), telephony (e.g. Verizon), and "social network" (Facebook above all) corporations have collaborated with the National Security Agency and with the nation's local, state, and federal police in the surveillance of U.S. citizens' and activists' private communications.[17]

Solutions

The fourth objection accuses Left media critics of being overly negative, "carping" critics who offer no serious alternatives to the nation's current corporate-owned corporate-managed commercial and for-profit media system. This is a transparently false and mean-spirited charge. Left U.S. media criticism is strongly linked to a smart and impressive U.S. media reform movement that advances numerous and interrelated proposals for the creation of a genuinely public and democratically run non-commercial and nonprofit U.S. media system. Some of the demand and proposals of this movement include public ownership and operation of the Internet as a public utility; the break-up of the leading media oligopolies; full public funding of public broadcasting; limits on advertising in commercial media; the abolition of political advertisements; the expansion of airwave and broadband access for alternative media outlets; publicly-funded nonprofit and non-commercial print journalism; the abolition of government and corporate surveillance, monitoring, and commercial data-mining of private communication and "social networks."[18] With regard to the media as with numerous other areas, we should recall Chomsky's sardonic response to the standard conservative claim that the Left offers criticisms but no solutions: "There is an accurate translation for that charge: 'they present solutions and I don't like them.'"[19]

A False Paradox

The propagandistic and power-serving mission and nature of dominant U.S, corporate mass media might seem ironic and even paradoxical in light of the United States' strong free speech and democratic traditions. In fact, as Carey and Chomsky have noted, the former makes perfect sense in light of the latter. In nations where popular expression and dissent is routinely crushed with violent repression, elites have little incentive to shape popular perceptions in accord with elite interests. The population is controlled primarily through physical coercion. In societies where it is not generally considered legitimate to put down popular expression with the iron heel of armed force and where dissenting opinion is granted a significant measure of freedom of expression, elites are heavily and dangerously incentivized to seek to manufacture mass popular consent and idiocy. The danger is deepened by the United States' status as the pioneer in the development of mass consumer capitalism, advertising, film, and television. Thanks to that history, corporate America has long stood in the global vanguard when it comes to developing the technologies, methods, art, and science of mass persuasion and thought control.[20]

It is appropriate to place quotation marks around the phrase "mainstream media" when writing about dominant U.S. corporate media. During the Cold War era, U.S. officials and media never referred to the Soviet Union's state television and radio or its main state newspapers as "mainstream Russian media." American authorities referred to these Russian media outlets as "Soviet state media" and treated that media as means for the dissemination of Soviet "propaganda" and ideology. There is no reason to consider the United States' corporate and commercial media as any more "mainstream" than the leading Soviet media organs were back in their day. It is just as dedicated as the onetime Soviet state media to advancing the doctrinal perspectives of its host nation's reigning elite -- and far more effective.

Its success is easily exaggerated, however. To everyday Americans' credit, corporate media has never been fully successful in stamping out popular resistance and winning over the hearts and minds of the U.S. populace. A recent Pew Research poll showed that U.S. "millennials" (young adults 18-29 years old) have a more favorable response to the word "socialism" than to "capitalism" – a remarkable finding on the limits of corporate media and other forms of elite ideological power in the U.S. The immigrant worker uprising of May 2006, the Chicago Republic Door and Window plant occupation of 2008, the University of California student uprisings of 2009 and 2010, the Wisconsin public worker rebellion in early 2011, the Occupy Movement of late 2011, and Fight for Fifteen (for a $15 an hour minimum wage) and Black Lives Matter movements of 2014 and 2015 show that U.S. corporate and imperial establishment has not manufactured anything like comprehensive and across the board mass consent and idiocy in the U,S. today. The U.S. elite is no more successful in its utopian (or dystopian) quest to control every American heart and mind than it is in its equally impossible ambition of managing events across a complex planet from the banks of the Potomac River in Washington D.C. The struggle for popular self-determination, democracy, justice, and equality lives on despite the influence of corporate media.

[Jun 21, 2018] The neoliberal agenda is agreed and enacted by BOTH parties:

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... the progressive left has been destroyed. All that's left is the Democratic Party which CALLS ITSELF "progressive" but actually acts in a way that undermines progressive ideals. ..."
"... Both Obama and Trump are faux populists. Both were probably thrust upon us in very slick operations. Proof? In hindsight, their political opponents (McCain, Hillary) were so flawed as to be ridiculous, especially because they were each the very embodiment of an establishment that most people KNOW works against them. In our current, money-driven political system electing a real progressive is virtually impossible. ..."
Jun 21, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jackrabbit | Jun 21, 2018 10:16:05 PM | 34

Fernando, Almand

You may be interested to know:

Civil Rights Attorney Asked Obama To Close Migrant "Baby Jails" In 2015

Why The "Abject Silence" From The Left About Child Migrant Detentions Under Obama?

This shows how hypocritical and partisan the left is in the U.S. That's because the progressive left has been destroyed. All that's left is the Democratic Party which CALLS ITSELF "progressive" but actually acts in a way that undermines progressive ideals.

karlof1 is right. Revolutions happen from the bottom up. Not by electing those who have been selected to run for office. Both Obama and Trump are faux populists. Both were probably thrust upon us in very slick operations. Proof? In hindsight, their political opponents (McCain, Hillary) were so flawed as to be ridiculous, especially because they were each the very embodiment of an establishment that most people KNOW works against them. In our current, money-driven political system electing a real progressive is virtually impossible.

The establishment agenda is agreed and enacted by BOTH parties:

  1. neo-feudalism : low taxes on the wealthy and roll-back of social programs;
  2. legal usury : very low interest rates for best credit / very high interest rates to ordinary people;
  3. neolib taking of the commons ; Example from the neolib Sith Lord himself: Obamaland Fiasco Worsens
    A presidential library became Obamaland... The center will not be a presidential library because Obama's archives and documents won't be there there and it won't be federally run.

    [Furthermore] The taxpayer bill for the Obama Center to be built on Chicago's Southside is now $224 million, not $172 million as initially reported, and it's certainly not privately funded as initially promised.

  4. global hegemony via massive spending on military & spying; It's for the children. No, not YOUR children.
  5. divisive politics to keep lower classes occupied; Let's talk about bathrooms and statues and "rocketman".
  6. militarized police & massive propaganda . You are now a consumer of government services not a citizen. Have a nice day.

[Jun 10, 2018] Trump and National Neoliberalism by Sasha Breger Bush

Highly recommended!
This is prophetic article, no question about it. "National neoliberalism" and interesting term.
Notable quotes:
"... Political theorist Sheldon Wolin writes in Democracy, Inc. ..."
"... By contrast, in Trump's America -- where an emergent "national neoliberalism" may be gradually guiding us to a more overt and obvious totalitarian politics -- we can expect a similar fusion of state and market interests, but one in which the marketplace and big business have almost total power and freedom of movement (I think that labor will do poorly in this configuration). State and market in the U.S. will fuse further together in the coming years, leading some to make close parallels with European fascism. But it will do so not because of heavy handed government dictates and interventions, but rather because domestic privatization initiatives, appointments of businessmen to government posts, fiscal stimulus and the business community's need for protection abroad will bring them closer. Corporate interests will merge with state interests not because corporations are commanded to, but rather because the landscape of risk and reward will shift and redirect investment patterns to a similar effect. This may be where a budding U.S. totalitarianism differs most starkly from its European cousins. ..."
Dec 24, 2016 | www.commondreams.org
Originally published by Dollars & Sense

And why the world is about to get much more dangerous The election of Donald Trump "represents a triumph of neoliberal thinking and values." (Photo: Carlo Allegri/ Reuters) Many writers and pundits are currently framing Trump's election in terms of a dispossessed and disenfranchised white, male working class, unsatisfied with neoliberal globalization and the insecurity and hardship it has unleashed -- particularly across regions of the United States that were formerly manufacturing powerhouses (like the Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, four states believed to have cost Hillary Clinton the election). While there is much truth to this perspective and substantial empirical evidence to support it, it would be a mistake to see Trump's election wholly in these terms.

"What Trump's election has accomplished is an unmasking of the corporate state."

Trump's election is in some ways a neoliberal apex, an event that portends the completion of the U.S. government's capture by wealthy corporate interests. While in my opinion Trump's election does not signal the beginning of a rapid descent into European-style fascism, it appears to be a key stage in the ongoing process of American democratic disintegration. American democracy has been under attack from large and wealthy corporate interests for a long time, with this process accelerating and gaining strength over the period of neoliberal globalization (roughly the early 1970s to the present). This time period is associated with the rise of powerful multinational corporations with economic and political might that rivals that of many national governments.

In terms of the political consequences of these trends in the U.S., certain thinkers have argued that the U.S. political system is not democratic at all, but rather an "inverted totalitarian" system. Political commentator Chris Hedges notes: "Inverted totalitarianism is different from classical forms of totalitarianism. It does not find its expression in a demagogue or charismatic leader but in the faceless anonymity of the corporate state." Citing the American political theorist Sheldon Wolin, Hedges continues, "Unlike the Nazis, who made life uncertain for the wealthy and privileged while providing social programs for the working class and poor, inverted totalitarianism exploits the poor, reducing or weakening health programs and social services, regimenting mass education for an insecure workforce threatened by the importation of low-wage workers." Our inverted totalitarian system is one that retains the trappings of a democratic system -- e.g. it retains the appearance of loyalty to "the Constitution, civil liberties, freedom of the press, [and] the independence of the judiciary" -- all the while undermining the capacity of citizens to substantively participate and exert power over the system.

In my view, what Trump's election has accomplished is an unmasking of the corporate state. Trump gives inverted totalitarianism a persona and a face, and perhaps marks the beginning of a transformation from inverted totalitarianism to totalitarianism proper. In spite of this, it makes no sense to me to call the system toward which we are heading (that is, if we do not stand up and resist with all our might right this second) "fascism" or to make too close comparisons to the Nazis. Whatever totalitarian nightmare is on our horizon, it will be uniquely American. And it will bear a striking resemblance to the corporate oriented system we've been living in for decades. Indeed, if the pre-Trump system of inverted totalitarianism solidified in the context of global neoliberalism, the period we are entering now seems likely to be one characterized by what I call "national neoliberalism."

Trump's Election Doesn't Mean the End of Neoliberalism

Trump's election represents a triumph of neoliberal thinking and values. Perhaps most importantly, we should all keep in mind the fact that Americans just elected a businessman to the presidency. In spite of his Wall Street background and billionaire status, Trump successfully cast himself as the "anti-establishment" candidate. This configuration -- in which a top-one-percenter real estate tycoon is accepted as a political "outsider" -- is a hallmark of neoliberal thinking. The fundamental opposition between market and government is a central dichotomy in the neoliberal narrative. In electing Trump, American voters are reproducing this narrative, creating an ideological cover for the closer connections between business and the state that are in store moving forward (indeed, Trump is already using the apparatus of the U.S. federal government to promote his own business interests). As states and markets further fuse in coming years, this representation of Trump and his administration -- as being anti-government -- will help immunize his administration from accusations of too-cozy relationships with big business. Trump's attempts to "drain the swamp" by imposing Congressional term limits and constraints on lobbying activities by former political officials will also help to hide this relationship. (Has anyone else noticed that Trump only addresses half of the "revolving door," i.e., he plans to limit the lobbying of former politicians, but not the political roles of businessmen?)

"Whatever totalitarian nightmare is on our horizon, it will be uniquely American."

Trump's Contract with the American Voter, his plan for the first 100 days in office, discusses policies and programs many of which are consistent with neoliberal thinking. (I understand the term "neoliberalism" to emphasize at its core the importance of private property rights, market-based social organization, and the dangers of government intervention in the economy.) Trump's plan redirects the activities of the U.S. government along the lines touted by neoliberal "market fundamentalists" like Milton Friedman, who advocate limiting government's role to market-supportive functions like national defense (defense stocks are doing very well since the election) and domestic law and order (Trump's proposals have a lot to do with altering immigration policy to "restore security"). Trump also plans to use government monies to revitalize physical infrastructure and create jobs. Other government functions, for example, health care provision and education as well as protecting the environment and public lands, are open for privatization and defunding in Trump's agenda. Under Trump, the scope of federal government activities will narrow, likely to infrastructure, national defense, and domestic policing and surveillance, even if overall government spending increases (as bond markets are predicting).

Trump also seems content to take neoliberal advice in regard to business regulation (less is best) and the role of the private sector in regulating itself (industry insiders understand regulatory needs better than public officials). Trump's plan for the first 100 days specifies "a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated." As of the time of this writing, his selection of cabinet appointees illustrate a broad willingness to appoint businesspeople to government posts. As of mid-December 2016, a Goldman Sachs veteran, Steven Mnuchin, has been appointed Secretary of the Treasury; billionaire investor Wilbur Ross has been appointed Secretary of Commerce; fossil fuel industry supporter and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has been appointed as EPA administrator; and fast-food mogul Andrew Puzder has been appointed as Secretary of Labor. Trump's business council is staffed by the CEOs of major U.S. corporations including JP Morgan Chase, IBM and General Motors. To be fair, the "revolving door" between government and industry has been perpetuated by many of Trump's predecessors, with Trump poised to continue the tradition. But this is not to say that neoliberalism will continue going in a "business as usual" fashion. The world is about to get much more dangerous, and this has serious implications for patterns of global trade and investment.

Trump's Election Does Mean the End of Globalism

The nationalism, xenophobia, isolationism, and paranoia of Donald Trump are about to replace the significantly more cosmopolitan outlook of his post-WWII predecessors. While Trump is decidedly pro-business and pro-market, he most certainly does not see himself as a global citizen. Nor does he intend to maintain the United States' extensive global footprint or its relatively open trading network. In other words, while neoliberalism is not dead, it is being transformed into a geographically more fragmented and localized system (this is not only about the US election, but also about rising levels of global protectionism and Brexit, among other anti-globalization trends around the world). I expect that the geographic extent of the US economy in the coming years will coincide with the new landscape of U.S. allies and enemies, as defined by Donald Trump and his administration.

Trump's Contract with the American Voter outlines several policies that will make it more expensive and riskier to do business abroad. All of these need not occur; I think that even one or two of these changes will be sufficient to alter expectations in business communities about the benefits of certain cross-border economic relationships. Pulling the United States out of the TPP, along with threats to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement and attempts to renegotiate NAFTA, is already signaling to other countries that we are not interested in international cooperation and collaboration. A crackdown on foreign trading abuses will prompt retaliation. Labelling China a currency manipulator will sour relations between the two countries and prompt retaliation by China. As Trump goes forward with his anti-immigration and anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies, he will alienate the United States' traditional allies in Europe (at least until Europe elects its own nationalist and xenophobic leaders) and communities across the Global South. The U.S. election has already undermined performance in emerging markets, and bigoted rhetoric and policy will only increase anti-American sentiment in struggling economies populated largely by people of color. Add to this the risk of conflict posed by any number of the following: his antagonizing China, allying with Russia, deploying ground troops to stop ISIS, and pulling out of the Korean DMZ, among other initiatives that seem likely to contribute to a more confrontational and violent international arena. All of this is to say that Trump will not have to intervene directly in the affairs of business in order to nationalize it. The new global landscape of conflict and risk, combined with elevated domestic spending on infrastructure and security, will bring U.S. business and investment back home nonetheless.

National Neoliberalism and State-Market Relations

Fascist states are corporatist in nature, a state of affairs marked by a fusion of state and business functions and interests, with an often significant role for labor interests as well. In the fascist states on the European continent in the 1930s and 1940s -- systems that fall under the umbrella of "national socialism" -- the overwhelming power of the state characterized this tripartite relationship. Political theorist Sheldon Wolin writes in Democracy, Inc. in regard to Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy (as well as Stalinist Russia), "The state was conceived as the main center of power, providing the leverage necessary for the mobilization and reconstruction of society".

By contrast, in Trump's America -- where an emergent "national neoliberalism" may be gradually guiding us to a more overt and obvious totalitarian politics -- we can expect a similar fusion of state and market interests, but one in which the marketplace and big business have almost total power and freedom of movement (I think that labor will do poorly in this configuration). State and market in the U.S. will fuse further together in the coming years, leading some to make close parallels with European fascism. But it will do so not because of heavy handed government dictates and interventions, but rather because domestic privatization initiatives, appointments of businessmen to government posts, fiscal stimulus and the business community's need for protection abroad will bring them closer. Corporate interests will merge with state interests not because corporations are commanded to, but rather because the landscape of risk and reward will shift and redirect investment patterns to a similar effect. This may be where a budding U.S. totalitarianism differs most starkly from its European cousins.

Of course it helps that much of the fusion of state and market in the United States is already complete, what with decades of revolving doors and privatization initiatives spanning the military, police, prison, healthcare and educational sectors, among others. It will not take much to further cement the relationship. © 2018 Dollars & Sense

Sasha Breger Bush is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Colorado–Denver and author of Derivatives and Development: A Political Economy of Global Finance, Farming, and Poverty (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

[Jun 10, 2018] Trump and National Neoliberalism, Revisited by Sasha Breger Bush

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... But if we take seriously the idea that Trump is a consequence of the disintegration of American democracy rather than the cause of it, this "blame game" becomes especially problematic. Partisan bickering, with one party constantly pointing to the other as responsible for the country's ills, covers up the fact that Democrats and Republicans alike have presided over the consolidation of corporate power in the United States. To paraphrase Ralph Nader, the U.S. corporate state is a two-headed beast. Sure, President Trump and the Republican Party are currently handing over public lands to oil and gas companies, eliminating net neutrality, introducing pro-corporate tax legislation, kowtowing to the military industrial complex, defunding the welfare state, and attempting to privatize education and deregulate finance. But let's not forget our recent Democratic presidents, for example, who are also guilty of empowering and enriching big business and disempowering and impoverishing ordinary Americans. ..."
"... All of this is to say that I'm considerably less excited about 2018 and 2020 than many others -- on what counts as the U.S. left -- appear to be. Democratic Party victories at the ballot box would certainly reduce some of the pressures on a variety of marginalized groups who are suffering mightily under President Trump. This is, of course, a good thing. But, Democratic victories will not "fix" the structural problems that underpin our current political crisis nor will they ensure a freer and more just future. ..."
Jun 10, 2018 | www.dollarsandsense.org

This article is from Dollars & Sense : Real World Economics, available at http://www.dollarsandsense.org

Last winter, in the wake of the 2016 Presidential election, I wrote an article for Dollars & Sense in which I argued that Trump's election represented a transition toward "national neoliberalism" in the United States ("Trump and National Neoliberalism: Trump's ascendance means the end of globalism -- but not of neoliberalism," January/February 2017).

I argued that this emergent state of affairs would be marked by a completion of the takeover of the U.S. government by corporate interests. I saw the election of Trump -- a top one-percenter and real estate tycoon firmly rooted in the culture and logic of big business, who has somehow convinced many Americans that he is an anti-establishment "outsider" -- as an "unmasking" of the corporate state, a revelation of the ongoing merger between state and market that has arguably been ongoing since the 1970s. In short, I envisioned a movement away from "global neoliberalism," a state of affairs characterized by the increasing preeminence of transnational corporate capital in a relatively open global political-economic system, and towards "national neoliberalism," a state of affairs in which transnational corporate dominance is cemented in the context of an ever more fragmented and dangerous global system.

About ten years ago, political theorist Sheldon Wolin published Democracy Incorporated , diagnosing American democracy with a potentially fatal corporate disease. Referring to the specter of "inverted totalitarianism," Wolin writes in his preface:

Primarily it represents the political coming of age of corporate power and the political demobilization of the citizenry. Unlike the classic forms of totalitarianism [e.g. Germany, Italy], which openly boasted of their intentions to force their societies into preconceived totality, inverted totalitarianism is not expressly conceptualized as an ideology or objectified in public policy. Typically it is furthered by power-holders and citizens who often seem unaware of the deeper consequences of their actions or inactions. There is a certain heedlessness, an inability to take seriously the extent to which a pattern of consequences may take shape without having been preconceived. Wolin paints a picture of a gradual process of change in which many different actors, some wealthy and powerful and others not, unwittingly push the country's politics, bit by bit in piecemeal fashion, towards an undemocratic, corporate-controlled end. Many of these actors may have good intentions. Many of them may see themselves as champions of the people. Many of them may actually speak out against the very interests that they in other ways empower.

This framework for thinking about the plight of the United States, which has for me been legitimated over and over again during Trump's first year in office, conditions how I think about President Trump and the Republican Party, and how I think about our opportunities for nonviolent social transformation, freedom, and social justice. It's hard not to point to President Trump and blame him for our problems. He is a bigot who has struck out at immigrants, Muslims, Arabs, African-Americans, Mexicans, women, LGBT people, and disabled people. He lacks the basic knowledge of politics and foreign policy that are a necessary condition for competent leadership. He picked up a congratulatory call from the President of Taiwan in December 2016, disrupting relations with China, and called North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un "short" and "fat." He is a paranoid and narcissistic demagogue who has scorned and marginalized journalists, and made the terms "fake news" and "alternative facts" household words. He is a corrupt businessman who is using the levers of power that he controls to enrich Big Business, as well as his cronies, his friends, and himself. I could go on.

It's also hard not to point to Republicans in Congress. After the election, there was hope that the "never Trump" Republicans would win out and that Trump's agenda would be blocked. This has not happened. While some in Congress, like Senators McCain (R-Ariz.), Corker (R-Tenn.), Collins (R-Maine), Flake (R-Ariz.) and Murkowski (R-Alaska) have defied Trump in certain contexts (e.g. on foreign policy), on many issues congressional Republicans have simply fallen in line (e.g. with tax reform). Today, the Republican Party is often discussed by liberals in the same breath as Trump, with everyone hoping for good news in 2018 and 2020.

But if we take seriously the idea that Trump is a consequence of the disintegration of American democracy rather than the cause of it, this "blame game" becomes especially problematic. Partisan bickering, with one party constantly pointing to the other as responsible for the country's ills, covers up the fact that Democrats and Republicans alike have presided over the consolidation of corporate power in the United States. To paraphrase Ralph Nader, the U.S. corporate state is a two-headed beast. Sure, President Trump and the Republican Party are currently handing over public lands to oil and gas companies, eliminating net neutrality, introducing pro-corporate tax legislation, kowtowing to the military industrial complex, defunding the welfare state, and attempting to privatize education and deregulate finance. But let's not forget our recent Democratic presidents, for example, who are also guilty of empowering and enriching big business and disempowering and impoverishing ordinary Americans.

President Obama presided over the modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, a process that President Trump is continuing. As William Hartung recently reported in Mother Jones , "There is, in fact, a dirty little secret behind the massive U.S. arsenal: It has more to do with the power and profits of weapons makers than it does with any imaginable strategic considerations." President Obama also helped corporations get richer and more powerful in other ways. He negotiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multilateral trade deal that, if Trump had not withdrawn us, would have expanded U.S. corporate access to overseas markets and given multinational corporates new policy leverage over governments (via investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms). (See Robin Brand, "Remembering the 'Tokyo No'," Dollars & Sense , January/February 2015.) In 2012, as he was running for his second term, Obama proposed a reduction in the corporate tax rate to 28%, not much different from the bill just passed by Congress. He also lobbied Congress for the $700 billion Wall Street bailouts after the Great Recession, continuing on the policy path set by his Republican predecessor, President Bush. (Obama received huge campaign contributions from finance, insurance, and real estate.) In terms of income inequality, CNBC had to reluctantly conclude that the gap widened under Obama, in spite of all his powerful rhetoric about equity and equality.

President Clinton negotiated and signed NAFTA into law, a trade agreement that created hardship for millions of American manufacturing workers and farmers, and generated large profits for multinational industrial and agricultural corporations. Clinton also pushed for welfare reform, signing into law a "workfare" system that required recipients to meet strict job and employment related conditions. Millions of people became ineligible for payments under the new system, and poverty increased especially among households in which members were long-term unemployed. Clinton's 1997 tax proposal advocated cutting estate taxes and capital gains taxes, and did not favor lower-income Americans. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted, "Analyses by the Treasury Department indicate that when fully in effect, the Clinton plan would give the 20 percent of Americans with the highest incomes about the same amount in tax cuts as the bottom 60 percent combined. This is an unusual characteristic for a tax plan proposed by a Democratic President."

All of this is to say that I'm considerably less excited about 2018 and 2020 than many others -- on what counts as the U.S. left -- appear to be. Democratic Party victories at the ballot box would certainly reduce some of the pressures on a variety of marginalized groups who are suffering mightily under President Trump. This is, of course, a good thing. But, Democratic victories will not "fix" the structural problems that underpin our current political crisis nor will they ensure a freer and more just future.

I plan to support third-party candidates at the ballot box in coming years, in the hopes of contributing to the creation of a new kind of political infrastructure that can help us to unmake the corporate state.

SASHA BREGER-BUSH is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Colorado–Denver.

[Jun 06, 2018] Inverted totalitarism described by a Guardia commenter

Jun 06, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Bearmuchly, 3 Jun 2018 16:37

Despite the huge changes in communication in the last several decades and the ever increasing levels of education in our society, politics have failed to engage the vast majority and that cohort of the cynical, the alienated, the disinterested, the lazy, the simply care less continues to grow.

In the last decade the only cause that evoked passion and engaged a larger number, finally forcing our elected members to act was same sex marriage .....a crescendo that took years to generate.

With the complicity of our media and the decline of that part of education that teaches analysis, social psychology and political philosophy (let alone teaches about basic political structures and mechanisms) our level of disengagement from the political process appears to be at an all time high. The performance of our legislators has become increasingly unaccountable and purely self interested .... we have re-created the "political class" of pre-war times where alienation was based on a lack of education and awareness and a sense of inferiority and powerlessness DESPITE our vastly improved communication, access to information and educational standards (not to mention affluence).

Basically, we have "dumbed down" to the extent where passion and ideology in politics is now the preserve of fewer and fewer. In a democracy this trend is of massive concern and a threat to its sustainability.... it also completely suits those that are focused on concentrating power and wealth... the more that don't give a toss the less likely you are to be encumbered by limitations, social considerations, ethics and morality.

Until we re-engage far larger numbers into the political process, raise the levels of awareness of political thought and choices, stop dumbing down and re-inject some broader passion and participation into our political processes then vested interests will continue to dominate.....and democracy will become increasingly undemocratic !

[Apr 08, 2018] Chris Hedges U.S. Citizens Are Living In An Inverted Totalitarian Country

Apr 08, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

The mainstream media deflects attention from where power resides: corporations, not with the leaders of the free world. The arguments posed by Chris Hedges, that the U.S. is neither a democracy nor a republic but a totalitarian state that can now assassinate its citizens at will, are pertinent ones. Scary ones. Especially as consecutive governments seem equally as impotent to invoke any real change for the States. If the media won't stand up to the marionettes who pull the strings of the conglomerates causing deep, indelible polarisation in the world abound; then so we must act. Together.

Listen to the full interview in our weekly Newsvoice Think podcast.

We were delighted to have Chris Hedges on an episode of the Newsvoice Think podcast as we seek to broadcast perspectives from all sides of the political spectrum. Right, left, red, blue and purple.

In our interview with Chris, we discussed a range of topics facing the U.S. today as the Trump administration looks back at a year in power, and forward to the November '18 midterms where Democrats will be looking to make gains. Chris was scathing of that party describing them as a "creature of Wall Street, which is choreographed and ceased to be a proper party a long time ago." As a columnist with Truthdig, and a big advocate of independent media. Chris Hedges was the perfect interviewee for us to draw on the benefits of crowdsourced journalism and the challenges facing sites at the mercy of Facebook, Google and Twitter algorithms.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/I0Lzmq8alBw

Chris's ire against the corporate interest of Facebook et al didn't let up saying dissident voices were being shut down and that corporate oligarchs were only too happy to let them. The neutralisation of the media platforms that seek to provide independent opinion on U.S. current affairs is in full pelt.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Im5zi2lcX8Y

North Korea was the hot topic in 2017. Commentators said it was like a return to the days of the Cold War. But Hedges pointed that we need to remember what happened during the Korean War  --  how the North was flattened by U.S. bombs  --  and that as a result they, as a nation, suffer from an almost psychosis as a result. Trump, he said, is an imbecile and only deals in bombast, threats and rhetoric.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/iD2YGy56VAs

Not surprisingly, Trump got it hard from Hedges. Describing his administration as a "kleptocracy" who will seek to attack immigrants and up the xenophobia stakes as it distracts and covers for the unadulterated theft of U.S. natural resources.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/0Ajr6WFf_SM

As young people look to estimable journalists, activists and politicians in the States to help give them a voice, Hedges sees the democratic system as utterly futile. Encouraging mass civil disobedience instead, the ex-NY Times foreign correspondent states that railroads should be blocked and shutting down corporate buildings, for example, is the only way forward.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/hailNKOv2mw

The perennial argument between Republicans and Democrats is just that; is the U.S. a Republic or a Democracy? Hedges thinks neither. He told Newsvoice that the States is an inverted totalitarian country where the government regards the public as "irrelevant".

https://www.youtube.com/embed/uexNoNK2Xok

Unlike Ben Wizner from the ACLU who sees hope in delaying Net Neutrality, at least until a new administration is in power, Chris feels it is hopeless  --  that it is a dead duck, and as Net Neutrality slows down independent media platforms, the public will be at the behest of corporate social media sites such as Facebook who'll increasingly deem what you do and don't read or see.

You can read more of Chris' work at Truthdig where he has a weekly column every Monday.

[Mar 18, 2018] Powerful intelligence agencies are incompatible with any forms of democracy including the democracy for top one precent. The only possible form of government in this situation is inverted totalitarism

Highly recommended!
Jun 28, 2013 | www.theguardian.com

Senators Mark Udall and Ron Wyden are upset about something, they just can't say what. In a letter sent to the National Security Agency this week about a fact sheet on its surveillance programs, the senators complained about what they refer to only as "the inaccuracy". The inaccuracy is "significant". The inaccuracy could "decrease public confidence in the NSA's openness and its commitment to protecting Americans' constitutional rights". But, because the information underlying it is classified, the inaccuracy can't be described.

This is either a frustrating illustration of the absurdities of America's secrecy regime, or the start of a pretty solid vaudeville act.

The frenzied public debate over the NSA leaks has focused on the correctness of the government surveillance programs themselves. But America cannot properly debate these and future surveillance efforts until it decides what can be debated.

As an official in the first Obama administration, I worked in jobs requiring top secret clearance. I know firsthand how essential secrecy can be to effecting policy goals and how devastating leaks can be. I navigated diplomatic relationships threatened by the indiscriminate release of WikiLeaks documents, and volunteered on the taskforce that sifted through them, piecing together the damage done. But it is also true that a culture of over-classification has shielded too much from public debate and that more could be disclosed without damaging the efficacy of intelligence programs.

Trillions of new pages of text are classified each year. More than 4.8 million people now have a security clearance, including low level contractors like Edward Snowden . A committee established by Congress, the Public Interest Declassification Board, warned in December that rampant over-classification is "imped[ing] informed government decisions and an informed public" and, worse, "enabl[ing] corruption and malfeasance". In one instance it documented, a government agency was found to be classifying one petabyte of new data every 18 months, the equivalent of 20m filing cabinets filled with text.

It is difficult to argue that all or even most of that information should be classified. By keeping too many secrets, America has created fertile ground for their escape. Already, the Obama administration has been forced to initiate six espionage prosecutions for leaks – twice as many as every previous administration combined.

It has also left the American people disillusioned and mistrustful. This is especially true of a new generation raised in a networked world that has made them expect far greater transparency from the institutions around them. According to a recent Pew Research Center/ USA Today poll , a clear majority of young people (60%) feels that the NSA leaks served the public interest.

The leaks illustrate how bad the lack of trust has become - and present an opportunity for greater disclosure.

There is no doubt that some secrecy is essential to the efficacy of surveillance programs like those revealed by the NSA leaks. The specific sources and methods of such programs should be protected. However, it is entirely possible to protect those specifics while also broadly disclosing to the public the scope of information subject to collection, and the rationale behind doing so.

That level of disclosure should be the norm for future programs, and can still be instated in the case of the current NSA surveillance programs. Two Congressmen – Democrat Adam Schiff, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, and Republican Todd Rokita – introduced a bill last week that would call on the Department of Justice to declassify the legal justifications for NSA surveillance efforts. Universal public disclosure of individual decisions could impede the efficacy of the program, but there is no reason the Department of Justice can't disclose its generalized legal reasoning. That's a drawer in the stadium of filing cabinets that America can safely open.

"You can't have 100% security and then have 100% privacy," President Obama said in the days immediately following the leaks. "We're going to have to make some choices as a society." But the government can and should let Americans know what choices it is that they're making. The intelligence community might find Americans, particularly young Americans most suspicious of government institutions, more sympathetic to their delicate balancing act as informed participants.

[Mar 11, 2018] Inverted Totalitarianism by Sheldon Wolin

Notable quotes:
"... ...Representative institutions no longer represent voters. Instead, they have been short-circuited, steadily corrupted by an institutionalized system of bribery that renders them responsive to powerful interest groups whose constituencies are the major corporations and wealthiest Americans. The courts, in turn, when they are not increasingly handmaidens of corporate power, are consistently deferential to the claims of national security. Elections have become heavily subsidized non-events that typically attract at best merely half of an electorate whose information about foreign and domestic politics is filtered through corporate-dominated media. Citizens are manipulated into a nervous state by the media's reports of rampant crime and terrorist networks, by thinly veiled threats of the Attorney General and by their own fears about unemployment. ..."
Mar 11, 2018 | www.thenation.com

The Nation

"Empire" and "superpower" accurately symbolize the projection of American power abroad, but for that reason they obscure the internal consequences. Consider how odd it would sound if we were to refer to "the Constitution of the American Empire" or "superpower democracy." The reason they ring false is that "constitution" signifies limitations on power, while "democracy" commonly refers to the active involvement of citizens with their government and the responsiveness of government to its citizens.

For their part, "empire" and "superpower" stand for the surpassing of limits and the dwarfing of the citizenry. The increasing power of the state and the declining power of institutions intended to control it has been in the making for some time. The party system is a notorious example.

...Representative institutions no longer represent voters. Instead, they have been short-circuited, steadily corrupted by an institutionalized system of bribery that renders them responsive to powerful interest groups whose constituencies are the major corporations and wealthiest Americans. The courts, in turn, when they are not increasingly handmaidens of corporate power, are consistently deferential to the claims of national security. Elections have become heavily subsidized non-events that typically attract at best merely half of an electorate whose information about foreign and domestic politics is filtered through corporate-dominated media. Citizens are manipulated into a nervous state by the media's reports of rampant crime and terrorist networks, by thinly veiled threats of the Attorney General and by their own fears about unemployment.

What is crucially important here is not only the expansion of governmental power but the inevitable discrediting of constitutional limitations and institutional processes that discourages the citizenry and leaves them politically apathetic. In the United States, however, it has been apparent for decades that corporate power has become so predominant in the political establishment, particularly in the Republican Party

...At the same time, it is corporate power, as the representative of the dynamic of capitalism and of the ever-expanding power made available by the integration of science and technology with the structure of capitalism, that produces the totalizing drive

.. a pervasive atmosphere of fear abetted by a corporate economy of ruthless downsizing, withdrawal or reduction of pension and health benefits; a corporate political system that relentlessly threatens to privatize Social Security and the modest health benefits available, especially to the poor. With such instrumentalities for promoting uncertainty and dependence, it is almost overkill for inverted totalitarianism to employ a system of criminal justice that is punitive in the extreme, relishes the death penalty and is consistently biased against the powerless.

Thus the elements are in place: a weak legislative body, a legal system that is both compliant and repressive, a party system in which one party, whether in opposition or in the majority, is bent upon reconstituting the existing system so as to permanently favor a ruling class of the wealthy, the well-connected and the corporate, while leaving the poorer citizens with a sense of helplessness and political despair, and, at the same time, keeping the middle classes dangling between fear of unemployment and expectations of fantastic rewards once the new economy recovers.

That scheme is abetted by a sycophantic and increasingly concentrated media; by the integration of universities with their corporate benefactors; by a propaganda machine institutionalized in well-funded think tanks and conservative foundations; by the increasingly closer cooperation between local police and national law enforcement agencies aimed at identifying terrorists, suspicious aliens and domestic dissidents.

What is at stake, then, is nothing less than the attempted transformation of a tolerably free society into a variant of the extreme regimes of the past century. In that context, the national elections of 2004 represent a crisis in its original meaning, a turning point. The question for citizens is: Which way?

Sheldon Wolin Sheldon Wolin is the author, most recently, of Alexis de Tocqueville: Man Between Two Worlds (Princeton). A new edition of his book Politics and Vision is forthcoming. He is professor emeritus of politics at Princeton University.

[Feb 19, 2018] The Free Market Threat to Democracy by John Weeks

Notable quotes:
"... In addition, financial capital leads to inequality, and that inequality, as you've seen in the United States and in Europe and many other places, it increases. And suddenly, not suddenly, but bit by bit, people begin to realize that they aren't getting their share and that means that the government, to protect capitalism, must use force to maintain the order of financial capital. And I think Trump is the fulfillment of that, and I think there are other examples too which I can go into. So, basically, my argument is that with the rise of finance and its unproductive activities, you've got the decline in living standards of the vast majority, and in order to maintain order in such a system where people no longer think that they're sort of getting their share, and so justice doesn't become, a just distribution doesn't become the reason why people support this system, increasingly it has to be done through force. ..."
"... I think that as The Real News has pointed out, that many of Trump's policies appear just to be more extreme versions of things that George Bush did, and in some cases not that much different from what Barack Obama did. ..."
"... The difference with Trump is, he has complete contempt for all of those constraints. That is, he is an authoritarian. I don't think he's a fascist, not yet, but he is an authoritarian. He does not accept that there are constraints which he should respect. There are constraints which bother him, and he wants to get rid of them, and he actually takes steps to do so. ..."
"... Erdoğan so infamously said? "Democracy is like a train. You take it to where you want to go and then you get off." No. Progressive view is that democracy is what it's all about. Democracy is the way that we build the present and we build a future. ..."
"... I think that the struggle in the United States is extremely difficult because of the role of the big money and the media, which you know more about than I do. But it is a struggle which we have to keep at, and we have to be optimistic about it. It's a good bit easier over here, but as we saw, and you reported, during the last presidential election, a progressive came very close to being President of the United States. That, I don't think was a one-off event, not to be repeated. I think it lays the basis for hope in the future. ..."
"... The democratic nation-state basically operates like a criminal cartel, forcing honest citizens to surrender large portions of their wealth to pay for stuff like roads and hospitals and schools. ..."
"... Any hierarchic system will be exploited by intelligent sociopaths. Systems will not save us. ..."
"... What I gleaned from my quick Wikiread was the apparent pattern of economic inequality causing the masses to huddle in fear & loathing to one corner – desperation, and then some clever autocrat subverts the energy from their F&L into political power by demonizing various minorities and other non-causal perps. ..."
"... Like nearly every past fascism emergence in history, US Trumpismo is capitalizing on inequality, and fear & loathing (his capital if you will) to seize power. That brings us to Today – to Trump, and an era (brief I hope) of US flirtation with fascism. Thank God Trump is crippled by a narcissism that fuels F&L within his own regime. Otherwise, I might be joining a survivalist group or something. :-) ..."
Feb 17, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. This Real News Network interview with professor emeritus John Weeks discussed how economic ideology has weakened or eliminated public accountability of institutions like the Fed and promote neo[neo]liberal policies that undermine democracy.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/o9bXo1f5r0I

SHARMINI PERIES: It's The Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. The concept of the [neo]liberal democracy is generally based on capitalistic markets along with respect for individual freedoms and human rights and equality in the face of the law. The rise of financial capital and its efforts to deregulate financial markets, however, raises the question whether [neo]liberal democracy is a sustainable form of government. Sooner or later, democratic institutions make way for the interests of large capital to supersede.

Political economist John Weeks recently gave this year's David Gordon Memorial Lecture at the meeting of the American Economic Association in Philadelphia where he addressed these issues with a talk titled, Free Markets and the Decline of Democracy. Joining us now is John Weeks. He joins us from London to discuss the issues raised in his lecture. You can find a link to this lecture just below the player, and John is, as you know, Professor Emeritus of the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies and author of Economics of the 1%: How Mainstream Economics Serves the Rich, Obscures Reality and Distorts Policy. John, good to have you back on The Real News.

JOHN WEEKS: Thank you very much for having me.

SHARMINI PERIES: John, let me start with your talk. Your talk describes a struggle between efforts to create a democratic control over the economy and the interest of capital, which seeks to subjugate government to the interest, its own interest. In your assessment, it looks like this is a losing battle for democracy. Explain this further.

JOHN WEEKS: Yeah, so I think that Marx in Capital, in the first volume of Capital, refers to a concept called bourgeois right, by which he meant that, you said it in the introduction, that in a capitalist society there is a form of equality that mimics the relationship of exchange. Every commodity looks equal in exchange and there is a system of ownership that you might say is the shadow of that. I think more important, in the early stages of development of capitalism, of development of factories, that those institutions or those factories prompted the growth of trade unions and workers' struggles in general. Those workers' struggles were key to the development, or further development of democracy, freedom of speech, a whole range of rights, the right to vote.

However, with the development of finance capital, you've got quite a different dynamic within the capitalist system. Let me say, I don't want to romanticize the early period of capitalism, but you did have struggles, mass struggles for rights. Finance capital produces nothing productive, it doesn't do anything productive. So, what finance capital does basically is it redistributes the income, the wealth, the, what Marx would call the surplus value, from other sectors of society to itself. And it employs relatively few people, so that dynamic of the capital, industrial capital, generating its antithesis So, that a labor movement doesn't occur under financial capital.

In addition, financial capital leads to inequality, and that inequality, as you've seen in the United States and in Europe and many other places, it increases. And suddenly, not suddenly, but bit by bit, people begin to realize that they aren't getting their share and that means that the government, to protect capitalism, must use force to maintain the order of financial capital. And I think Trump is the fulfillment of that, and I think there are other examples too which I can go into. So, basically, my argument is that with the rise of finance and its unproductive activities, you've got the decline in living standards of the vast majority, and in order to maintain order in such a system where people no longer think that they're sort of getting their share, and so justice doesn't become, a just distribution doesn't become the reason why people support this system, increasingly it has to be done through force.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, John. Before we get further into the relationship between neo[neo]liberalism and democracy, give us a brief summary of what you mean by neo[neo]liberalism. You say that it's not really about deregulation, as most people usually conceive of it. If that's not what it's about, what is it, then?

JOHN WEEKS: I think that if you think about the movements in the United States, and as much as I can, I will take examples from the United States because most of your listeners will be familiar with those, beginning in the early part of the twentieth century, in the United States you have reform movements, the breaking up of the large monopolies, tobacco monopoly, a whole range of Standard Oil, all of that. And then of course under Roosevelt you began to get the regulation of capital in the interests of the majority, much of that driven by Roosevelt's trade union support. So, that was moving from a system where capital was relatively unregulated to where it was being regulated in the interests of the vast majority. I also would say, though, I won't go into detail, to a certain extent it was regulated in the interest of capital itself to moderate competition and therefore, I'd say, ensure a relatively tranquil market environment.

Neo[neo]liberalism involves not the deregulation of the capitalist system, but the reregulation of it in the interest of capital. So, it involves moving from a system in which capital is regulated in the interests of stability and the many to regulation in a way that enhances capital. These regulations, to get specific about them, restrictions on trade unions, as you, on Real News, a number of people have talked about this. The United States now have many restrictions on the organizing of trade unions which were not present 50 or 60 years ago, making it harder to have a mass movement of labor against capital, restrictions on the right to demonstrate, a whole range of things. Then within capital itself, the regulations on the movement of capital that facilitate speculation in international markets. We have a capitalism in which the form of regulation is shifted from the regulation of capital in the interest of labor to regulation of capital in the interest of capital.

SHARMINI PERIES: John, give us a brief summary of the ways in which neo[neo]liberalism undermines democracy.

JOHN WEEKS: Well, I think that there are many examples, but I'm going to focus on economic policy. For an obvious case is the role of the Central Bank, in the case of the United States' Federal Reserve System, in which reducing its accountability to the public, one way you can do that is by assigning goals to it, such as fighting inflation, which then override other goals. Originally, the Federal Reserve System, its charter, or I'll say its terms of reference, if you want me to use that phrase, included full employment and a stable economy. Those have been overridden in more recent legislation, which puts a great emphasis on the control of inflation. Control of inflation basically means maintaining an economy at a relatively high level of unemployment or part-time employment, or flexible employment, where people have relatively few rights at work. And that the Central Bank becomes a vehicle for enforcing a neo[neo]liberal economic policy.

Second of all, probably most of your viewers will not remember the days when we had fixed exchange rates. We had a world of fixed exchange rates in those days that represented the policy, which government could use to affect its trade and also affect its domestic policy. There have been deregulation of that. We now have floating exchange rates. That takes away a tool, an instrument of economic policy. And in fiscal policy, there the, here it's more ideology than laws, though there are also laws. There's a law requiring that the government balance its budget, but more important than that, the introduction into the public consciousness, I'd say grinding into the public consciousness, the idea that deficits are a bad thing, government debt is a bad thing, and that's a completely neo[neo]liberal ideology.

In summary, one way that the democracy has been undermined is to take away economic policy from the public realm and move it to the realm of experts. So, we have certain allegedly expert guidelines that we have to follow. Inflation should be low. We should not run deficits. The national debt should be small. These are things that are just made up ideologically. There is no technical basis to them. And so, in doing that, you might say, the term I like to use is, you decommission the democratic process and economic policy.

SHARMINI PERIES: John, speaking of ideology, in your talk you refer to the challenge that fascism posed or poses to neo[neo]liberal democracies. Now, it is interesting when you take Europe into consideration and National Socialist in Germany, for example, appeal mostly to the working class, as does contemporary far-right leaders in Poland and Hungary, that they support more explicit neo[neo]liberal agendas. Why would people support a neo[neo]liberal agenda that exasperate inequalities and harm public services that they depend on, including jobs?

JOHN WEEKS: I think that to a great extent it is country-specific, but I can make generalizations. First of all, I'm talking about Europe, because you raised a case in some European countries, and then I'll make some comments about the United States and Trump, if you want me to. I think in Europe, a combination of three things resulted in the rise of fascism and authoritarian movements which are verging on fascism. One is that the European integration project, which let me say that I have supported, and I would still prefer Britain not to leave the European Union, but nevertheless, the European Union integration project has been a project run by elites.

It has not been a bottom-up process. It has been a process very much run by elite politicians, in which they get together in closed door, and they make policies which they subsequently announce, and many of the decisions they come to being extremely, the meaning of them being extremely opaque. So, therefore, you have the development in Europe of the European Union which, not from the bottom up, but very much from the top down. You might suggest from the top, but I'm not sure how much goes down. That's one.
The second key factor, I would say, for about 20 years in European integration, it was relatively benign elitism because it was social democratic, it had the support of the working class, or the trade unions, at any rate. Then, increasingly, it began to become neo[neo]liberal. So, you have an elite project which was turning into a neo[neo]liberal project. Specifically, what I mean by neo[neo]liberal is where they're generating flexibility rules for the labor market, austerity policies, bank, balanced budgets, low inflation, the things I was talking about before.

Then the third element, toxic, the most toxic of them, but the other, they're volatile, is the legacy of fascism in Europe. Every European country, with the exception of Britain, had a substantial fascist movement in the 1920s and 1930s. I can go into why Britain didn't sometime. It had to do with the particular class struggle of the, I mean, class structure of Britain. Poland, ironically enough, though, is one of them. It was overrun by the Nazis, and occupied, and incorporated into the German Reich. Ironically, it had a very right-wing government with a lot of sympathies towards fascism when it was invaded in the late summer of 1939.

France had a strong fascist movement. Of course, Italy had a fascist government, and Hungary, where now you have a right-wing government, a very strong fascist movement. The incorporation of these countries into the Soviet sphere of influence, or the empire, as it were, did not destroy that fascism. It certainly suppressed it, but it didn't destroy it. So, as soon as the European project began to transform into a neo[neo]liberal project, and that gathered strength in the early 1990s, I mean, the neo[neo]liberal aspect of the European Union gathered strength in the early 1990s, exactly when you were getting the "liberation" of many countries from Soviet rule. And so, when you put those together, it led to, It was a rise of fascism waiting to happen and now it is happening.

SHARMINI PERIES: John, earlier, you said you'll factor in Trump. How does Trump fit into this phenomena?

JOHN WEEKS: I think that as The Real News has pointed out, that many of Trump's policies appear just to be more extreme versions of things that George Bush did, and in some cases not that much different from what Barack Obama did. Now, though I wouldn't go too deeply into that, I think that that is the most serious offenses by Obama that have been carried on by Trump have to do with the use of drones and the military. But at any rate, but there's a big difference from Trump. For the most part, the previous Republican presidents, and Democratic presidents, accepted the framework of, the formal framework of [neo]liberal democracy in the United States. That is, formally accepted the constraints imposed by the Constitution.

Now, of course, they probably didn't do it out of the goodness of their heart. They did it because they saw that the things that they wanted to achieve, the neo[neo]liberal goals that they wanted to achieve were perfectly consistent with the Constitution's framework and guarantees of rights and so on, that most of those rights are guaranteed in a way that's so weak that you didn't have to repeal the first 10 Amendments of the Constitution in order to have repressive policies.

The difference with Trump is, he has complete contempt for all of those constraints. That is, he is an authoritarian. I don't think he's a fascist, not yet, but he is an authoritarian. He does not accept that there are constraints which he should respect. There are constraints which bother him, and he wants to get rid of them, and he actually takes steps to do so. What you have in Trump, I think, is a sea change. You have a, we've had right-wing presidents before, certainly. What the difference with Trump is, he is a right-wing president that sees no reason to respect the institutions of democratic government, or even, you might say, the institution of representative government. I won't even use a term as strong as "democratic." That lays the basis for an explicitly authoritarian United States, and I'd say that we're beginning to see the vehicle by which this will occur, the restriction on voting rights. Of course, that was going on before Trump, it does in a more aggressive way. I think the, soon, we will have a Supreme Court that will be quite lenient with his tendency towards authoritarian rule.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, John. Let's end this segment with what can be done. I mean, what must be done to prevent neo[neo]liberal interests from undermining democracy? And who do you believe is leading the struggle for democracy now, and what is the right strategy that people should be fighting for?

JOHN WEEKS: Well, one thing, I think, where I'd begin is that I think progressives, as The Real News represents, and Bernie Sanders, and all the people that support him, and Jeremy Corbyn over here, I'll come back to talk about a bit about Jeremy. We must be explicit that we view democracy, by which we mean the participation of people at the grassroots, their participation in the government, we view that as a goal. It's not merely a technique, or a tool which, what was it that Erdoğan so infamously said? "Democracy is like a train. You take it to where you want to go and then you get off." No. Progressive view is that democracy is what it's all about. Democracy is the way that we build the present and we build a future.

I'm quite fortunate in that I live in perhaps the only large country in the world where there's imminent possibility of a progressive, left-wing, anti-authoritarian government. I think that is the monumental importance of Jeremy Corbyn and his second-in-command, John McDonnell, and others like Emily Thornberry, who is the Foreign Secretary. These people are committed to democracy. In the United States, Bernie Sanders is committed to a democracy, and a lot of other people are too, Elizabeth Warren. So, I think that the struggle in the United States is extremely difficult because of the role of the big money and the media, which you know more about than I do. But it is a struggle which we have to keep at, and we have to be optimistic about it. It's a good bit easier over here, but as we saw, and you reported, during the last presidential election, a progressive came very close to being President of the United States. That, I don't think was a one-off event, not to be repeated. I think it lays the basis for hope in the future.

... ... ...


JTMcPhee , February 17, 2018 at 9:35 am

"Informed speculation" with lots of footnotes and offshoots in this Reddit skein: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/1llyf7/about_how_much_in_todays_money_was_30_pieces_of/

"A lot of money" in those days- Some say JI "bought land" with the shekels. An early form of asset swap? A precursor to current financialist activities?

WobblyTelomeres , February 17, 2018 at 10:44 am

Good article. If it were any bleaker, I'd suspect Chris Hedges having a hand in writing it.

The democratic nation-state basically operates like a criminal cartel, forcing honest citizens to surrender large portions of their wealth to pay for stuff like roads and hospitals and schools.

There it is, the Gorgon Thiel, surrounded by terror and rout.

James T. Cricket , February 18, 2018 at 3:46 am

I suppose you've read this.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/10/10/sam-altmans-manifest-destiny

Here's a quote:

"Altman felt that OpenAI's mission was to babysit its wunderkind until it was ready to be adopted by the world. He'd been reading James Madison's notes on the Constitutional Convention for guidance in managing the transition. 'We're planning a way to allow wide swaths of the world to elect representatives to a new governance board,' he said."

I was having trouble choosing which of the passages in this article to provide a mad quote from. Some other choices were
Altman's going to work with the Department of Defense, then help defend the world from them.
Or:
OpenAI's going to take over from humans, but don't worry because they're going to make it (somehow) so OpenAI can only terminate bad people. Before releasing it to the world.
Or:
Altman says 'add a 0 to whatever you're doing but never more than that.'

But if this sort of wisdom (somehow) doesn't work out well for everybody and the world collapses, he's flying with Peter Thiel in the private jet to the New Zealand's south island to wait out the Zombie Apocalypse on a converted sheep farm. (Before returning to the Valley work with more startups?)

These are your new leaders, people

David , February 17, 2018 at 7:56 am

I think it's revealing that the only type of democracy discussed, in spite of the title, is "[neo]liberal democracy", which the host describes as "based on capitalistic markets along with respect for individual freedoms and human rights and equality in the face of the law."

I've always argued that [neo]liberal democracy is a contradiction in terms, and you can see why from that quotation. [neo]liberalism (leaving aside special uses of the term in the US) is about individuals exercising their personal economic freedom and personal autonomy as much as they can, with as little control by government as possible.

But given massive imbalances in economic power, the influence of media-backed single issue campaigns and the growth of professional political parties, policy is decided by the interventions of powerful and well-organised groups, without ordinary people being consulted. At the end, Weeks does start to talk of grassroots participation, but seems to have no more in mind than a campaign to get people to vote for Sanders in 2020, which hardly addresses the problem. The answer, if there is one, is a system of direct democracy, involving referendums and popular assemblies chosen at random.

This has been much talked about, but since you would have the entire political class against you, it's not going to happen. In the meantime, we are stuck with [neo]liberal democracy, whose contradictions, I'm afraid are becoming ever more obvious.

JTMcPhee , February 17, 2018 at 8:45 am

"Contradictions?" One question for me at least would be whether the features and motions of the current regime are best characterized as "contradictions." If so, to what? And implicit in the use of the word is some kind of resolution, via actual class conflict or something, leading to "better" or at least "different." All I see from my front porch is more of the same, and worse. "The Matrix" in that myth gave some comforting illusions to the mopery. I think the political economy/collapsed planet portrayed in "Soylent Green" is a lot closer to the likely endpoints.

At least in the movie fable, the C-Suite-er of the Soylent Corp. as the lede in the film, was sickened of what he was helping to maintain, and bethought himself to blow his tiny little personal whistle that nobody would really hear, and got axed for his disloyalty to the ruling collective. I doubt the ranks of corporatists of MonsantoDuPont and LockheedMartin and the rest include any significant numbers of folks sickened by "the contradictions" that get them their perks and bennies and power (as long as they color inside the lines.)

Eustache De Saint Pierre , February 17, 2018 at 9:33 am

I hope I am way off the mark, but within that genre & in terms of where we could be heading, the film " Snowpiercer " sums it up best for me- a dystopian world society illustrated through the passengers on one long train.

Michael C , February 17, 2018 at 8:46 am

Thanks for the Real News Network for covering issues that never see the light of day on the corporate media and never mentioned by the Rachel Maddow's of the "news" shows.

torff , February 17, 2018 at 10:02 am

Can we please put a moratorium on the term "free market"? It's a nonsense term.

Yves Smith Post author , February 17, 2018 at 6:59 pm

Yes, I wrote about that at length in ECONNED. I kept the RNN headline, which used it, but should have put "free market" in quotes.

Katz , February 18, 2018 at 11:09 am

I actually like the term and find it useful, insofar as it describes an ideology -- as oposed a real political-economic arrangement. The presence of "free markets" may not be a characteristic of the neo[neo]liberal phase, but the belief in them sure is.

(Which is not to say there aren't people who don't believe in free markets but do invoke them rhetorically for other ends. That's a feature of many if not most successful ideologies.)

Jim Haygood , February 17, 2018 at 10:59 am

' Originally, the Federal Reserve charter included full employment and a stable economy. Those have been overridden in more recent legislation, which puts a great emphasis on the control of inflation.

Eh, this is fractured history. The Fed was set up in 1913 as a lender of last resort -- a discounter of government and private bills.

In late 1978 Jimmy Carter signed the Humphrey Hawkins Act instructing the Fed to pursue three goals: stable prices, maximum employment, and moderate long-term interest rates, though the latter is rarely mentioned now and the Fed is widely viewed as having a dual mandate.

The Fed's two percent inflation target it simply adopted at its own initiative -- it's not enshrined in no Perpetual Inflation Act.

' We had a world of fixed exchange rates which government could use to affect its trade and also affect its domestic policy. We now have floating exchange rates. That takes away a tool. '

LOL! This is totally inverted and flat wrong. The Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system prevented radical monetary experiments such as QE which would have broken the peg. Nixon unilaterally suspended fixed exchange rates in 1971 because he was unwilling to take the political hit of formally devaluing the dollar (or even more unlikely, sweating out Vietnam War inflation with falling prices to maintain the peg).

Floating rates are a new and potentially lethal monetary tool which have produced a number of sad examples of "governments gone wild" with radical monetary experiments and currency swings. Bad boys Japan & Switzerland come readily to mind.

To render history accurately requires getting hands dirty with dusty old books. Icky, I know. :-(

RBHoughton , February 17, 2018 at 6:24 pm

Yes but globalisation meant that all central banks and finance ministers had to act concertedly as in G-20 and similar meetings. While we may talk of floating exchange rates, each country fixes its interest rate to maintain parity with the others. Isn't that so?

Yves Smith Post author , February 17, 2018 at 7:00 pm

Ahem, you skip over that the full employment goal was added to the Fed mandate in 1946, long before the inflation goal was added.

The Rev Kev , February 17, 2018 at 7:29 pm

I think that the key piece of info is that the Federal Reserve was created on December 23rd, 1913. That sounds like that it was slipped in the legislative back door when everybody was going away for the Christmas holidays.

Steven Greenberg , February 17, 2018 at 11:26 am

===== quote =====
Second of all, probably most of your viewers will not remember the days when we had fixed exchange rates. We had a world of fixed exchange rates in those days that represented the policy, which government could use to affect its trade and also affect its domestic policy. There have been deregulation of that. We now have floating exchange rates. That takes away a tool, an instrument of economic policy. And in fiscal policy, there the, here it's more ideology than laws, though there are also laws. There's a law requiring that the government balance its budget, but more important than that, the introduction into the public consciousness, I'd say grinding into the public consciousness, the idea that deficits are a bad thing, government debt is a bad thing, and that's a completely neo[neo]liberal ideology.
===== /quote =====

This makes absolutely no sense and seems to have the case exactly backward. Our federal government has no rule that the budget must be balanced. Fixed exchange rates were not a tool that could be used to affect trade and domestic policy in a good way.

Lee Robertson , February 17, 2018 at 11:42 am

Any hierarchic system will be exploited by intelligent sociopaths. Systems will not save us.

Susan the other , February 17, 2018 at 1:29 pm

I enjoyed John Weeks' point of view. He's the first person I've read who refers to the usefulness of a fixed exchange rate. Useful for a sovereign government with a social spending agenda. We have always been a sovereign government with a military agenda which is at odds with a social agenda.

Guns and butter are a dangerous combination if you are dedicated to at least maintaining the illusion of a "strong dollar." That's basically what Nixon finessed. John Conally told him not to worry, we could go off the gold standard and it wasn't our problem since we were the reserve currency – it was everybody else's problem and we promptly exported our inflation all around the world. And now it has come home to roost because it was fudging and it couldn't last forever.

Much better to concede to some fix for the currency and maintain the sovereign power to devalue the dollar as necessary to maintain proper social spending. I don't understand why sovereign governments cannot see that a deficit is just the mirror image of a healthy social economy (Stephanie Kelton).

And to that end "fix" an exchange rate that maintains a reasonable purchasing power of the currency by pegging it to the long term health of the economy. What we do now is peg the dollar to a "basket of goods and services"- Ben Bernanke. That "basket" is effectively "the market" and has very little to do with good social policy.

There's no reason we can't dispense with the market and simply fiat the value of our currency based on the social return estimated for our social investments. Etc. Keeping the dollar stubbornly strong is just tyranny favoring those few who benefit from extreme inequality.

ebbflows , February 17, 2018 at 4:19 pm

Bancor. Then some got delusions of grandeur.

albert , February 17, 2018 at 2:23 pm

" Democracy is not under stress – it's under aggressive attack, as unconstrained financial greed overrides public accountability ."

I request a lessatorium* on the term 'democracy', because there aren't any democracies. Rather than redefine the term, why not use a more accurate one, like 'plutocracy', or 'corporatocracy'.
-- -- -- -
* It's like a moratorium, you just do less of it.

Paul Cardan , February 17, 2018 at 2:37 pm

What is this democracy of which you speak?

Tomonthebeach , February 17, 2018 at 4:30 pm

I had not given much thought to "Fascist" until the term was challenged as a synonym for "bully." So, I started reading Wikipedia's take on Fascismo. What I discovered was the foremost, my USA education did not teach jack s -- about Fascism – and I went to elite high school in libr'l Chicago.

Is Fascism right or left? Does it matter? What goes around comes around.

What I gleaned from my quick Wikiread was the apparent pattern of economic inequality causing the masses to huddle in fear & loathing to one corner – desperation, and then some clever autocrat subverts the energy from their F&L into political power by demonizing various minorities and other non-causal perps.

Like nearly every past fascism emergence in history, US Trumpismo is capitalizing on inequality, and fear & loathing (his capital if you will) to seize power. That brings us to Today – to Trump, and an era (brief I hope) of US flirtation with fascism. Thank God Trump is crippled by a narcissism that fuels F&L within his own regime. Otherwise, I might be joining a survivalist group or something. :-)

Synoia , February 17, 2018 at 6:32 pm

Left and right are more line circle that a line.

I view the extreme left and extreme right, meeting somewhere, hidden, at the back of a circle.

c_heale , February 17, 2018 at 7:29 pm

I always believed this too!

+1

flora , February 17, 2018 at 8:01 pm

Neoliberalism involves not the deregulation of the capitalist system, but the reregulation of it in the interest of capital. So, it involves moving from a system in which capital is regulated in the interests of stability and the many to regulation in a way that enhances capital.

Prominent politicians in the US and UK have spent their entire political careers representing neoliberalism's agenda at the expense of representing the voters' issues. The voters are tired of the conservative and [neo]liberal political establishments' focus on neoliberal policy. This is also true in Germany as well France and Italy. The West's current political establishments see the way forward as "staying the neoliberal course." Voters are saying "change course." See:

'German Politics Enters an Era of Instability' – Der Speigel

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-political-landscape-crumbling-as-merkel-coalition-forms-a-1193947.html

[Feb 16, 2018] Stephanie Savell The Hidden Costs of America's Wars by Tom Engelhardt

Feb 16, 2018 | www.unz.com

If anything, recent weeks have offered remarkable evidence of just how victorious this country's losingest commanders and their colleagues really are in our nation's capital. In the bipartisan style that these days usually applies only to the U.S. military, Congress has just settled on giving an extra $165 billion to the Pentagon over the next two years as part of a formula for keeping the government open. As it happens, the 2017 Pentagon budget was already as large as the defense spending of the next seven nations combined. And that was before all those extra tens of billions of dollars ensured that the two-year military budget (for 2018 and 2019) would crest at a total of more than $1.4 trillion .

That's the sort of money that only goes to winners, not losers. And if this still seems a little strange to you, given that military's dismal record in actual war-fighting since 9/11, all I can say is: don't bring it up. It's no longer considered polite or proper to complain about our wars and those who fight them or how we fund them, not in an age when every American soldier is a " hero ," which means that what they're doing from Afghanistan to Yemen ,