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Like Marxism before neoliberalism provides its own ethics and its own rationality. Or may I say irrationality. It enforces a new fake "economic rationalism", which should displace old, "outdated" and more humane rationality of the New Deal capitalism.
"Neoliberal rationality" is heavily tilted toward viewing people as "homo economicus". Like Marxism (and Troskyism) it " articulates crucial elements of the language, practice and subjectivity according to a specific image of the economics" Like Trotskyism before it directly assaults the idea of democratic governance and the rule of the law replacing them with the ideas dangerously similar to ideas of "proletarian justice", "proletarian media" and "permanent revolution".
It rejects the idea of social solidarity (emphasizing instead fake "individual responsibility") replacing it with class solidarity of top 1% or even 0.1% (Neoliberal Nomenklatura as in "Transnational financial elite unite").
Neoliberalism perverts the idea of the rule of the law, which animated so much of modernity, hollowing out democratic practices and institutions while at the same time catalyzing radical, brutal forces of the elite dominance, promoting Nietzsche separation of mankind into two caste: Undermensch ("despicables" in Hillary Clinton words) and Ubermensch ("creative class"). The latter is above the law like aristocracy in feudalism, although this fact is carefully hidden.
In the book Undoing the Demos Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution Professor Wendy Brown shows how close "neoliberal rationality" is to the rationality which governed communist parties of the USSR and Eastern Block.
Here are some quotes from Wendy Brown interview What Exactly Is Neoliberalism to Dissent Magazine (Nov 03, 2015):
"... I treat neoliberalism as a governing rationality through which everything is "economized" and in a very specific way: human beings become market actors and nothing but, every field of activity is seen as a market, and every entity (whether public or private, whether person, business, or state) is governed as a firm. Importantly, this is not simply a matter of extending commodification and monetization everywhere-that's the old Marxist depiction of capital's transformation of everyday life. Neoliberalism construes even non-wealth generating spheres-such as learning, dating, or exercising-in market terms, submits them to market metrics, and governs them with market techniques and practices. Above all, it casts people as human capital who must constantly tend to their own present and future value. ..."
"... The most common criticisms of neoliberalism, regarded solely as economic policy rather than as the broader phenomenon of a governing rationality, are that it generates and legitimates extreme inequalities of wealth and life conditions; that it leads to increasingly precarious and disposable populations; that it produces an unprecedented intimacy between capital (especially finance capital) and states, and thus permits domination of political life by capital; that it generates crass and even unethical commercialization of things rightly protected from markets, for example, babies, human organs, or endangered species or wilderness; that it privatizes public goods and thus eliminates shared and egalitarian access to them; and that it subjects states, societies, and individuals to the volatility and havoc of unregulated financial markets. ..."
"... with the neoliberal revolution that homo politicus is finally vanquished as a fundamental feature of being human and of democracy. Democracy requires that citizens be modestly oriented toward self-rule, not simply value enhancement, and that we understand our freedom as resting in such self-rule, not simply in market conduct. When this dimension of being human is extinguished, it takes with it the necessary energies, practices, and culture of democracy, as well as its very intelligibility. ..."
"... For most Marxists, neoliberalism emerges in the 1970s in response to capitalism's falling rate of profit; the shift of global economic gravity to OPEC, Asia, and other sites outside the West; and the dilution of class power generated by unions, redistributive welfare states, large and lazy corporations, and the expectations generated by educated democracies. From this perspective, neoliberalism is simply capitalism on steroids: a state and IMF-backed consolidation of class power aimed at releasing capital from regulatory and national constraints, and defanging all forms of popular solidarities, especially labor. ..."
"... The grains of truth in this analysis don't get at the fundamental transformation of social, cultural, and individual life brought about by neoliberal reason. They don't get at the ways that public institutions and services have not merely been outsourced but thoroughly recast as private goods for individual investment or consumption. And they don't get at the wholesale remaking of workplaces, schools, social life, and individuals. For that story, one has to track the dissemination of neoliberal economization through neoliberalism as a governing form of reason, not just a power grab by capital. There are many vehicles of this dissemination -- law, culture, and above all, the novel political-administrative form we have come to call governance. It is through governance practices that business models and metrics come to irrigate every crevice of society, circulating from investment banks to schools, from corporations to universities, from public agencies to the individual. It is through the replacement of democratic terms of law, participation, and justice with idioms of benchmarks, objectives, and buy-ins that governance dismantles democratic life while appearing only to instill it with "best practices." ..."
"... Progressives generally disparage Citizens United for having flooded the American electoral process with corporate money on the basis of tortured First Amendment reasoning that treats corporations as persons. However, a careful reading of the majority decision also reveals precisely the thoroughgoing economization of the terms and practices of democracy we have been talking about. In the majority opinion, electoral campaigns are cast as "political marketplaces," just as ideas are cast as freely circulating in a market where the only potential interference arises from restrictions on producers and consumers of ideas-who may speak and who may listen or judge. Thus, Justice Kennedy's insistence on the fundamental neoliberal principle that these marketplaces should be unregulated paves the way for overturning a century of campaign finance law aimed at modestly restricting the power of money in politics. Moreover, in the decision, political speech itself is rendered as a kind of capital right, functioning largely to advance the position of its bearer, whether that bearer is human capital, corporate capital, or finance capital. This understanding of political speech replaces the idea of democratic political speech as a vital (if potentially monopolizable and corruptible) medium for public deliberation and persuasion. ..."
"... My point was that democracy is really reduced to a whisper in the Euro-Atlantic nations today. Even Alan Greenspan says that elections don't much matter much because, "thanks to globalization . . . the world is governed by market forces," not elected representatives. ..."
Reprinted from http://lchc.ucsd.edu/cogn_150/Readings/brown.pdf
It is a commonplace to speak of the present regime in the United States as a neoconservative one, and to cast as a consolidated “neocon” project present efforts to intensify U.S. military capacity, increase U.S. global hegemony, dismantle the welfare state, retrench civil liberties, eliminate the right to abortion and affirmative action, re-Christianize the state, deregulate corporations, gut environmental protections, reverse progressive taxation, reduce education spending while increasing prison budgets, and feather the nests of the rich while criminalizing the poor. I do not contest the existence of a religious-political project known as Neoconservatism or challenge the appropriateness of understanding many of the links between these objectives in terms of a neoconservative agenda. However, I want to think to one side of this agenda in order to consider our current predicament in terms of a neoliberal political rationality, a rationality that exceeds particular positions on particular issues and that undergirds important features of the Clinton decade as well as the Reagan-Bush years. Further, I want to consider the way that this rationality is emerging as governmentality—a mode of governance encompassing but not limited to the state, and one that produces subjects, forms of citizenship and behavior, and a new organization of the social.
In ordinary parlance, neoliberalism refers to the repudiation of Keynesian welfare state economics and the ascendance of the Chicago School of political economy—von Hayek, Friedman, and others. In popular usage, neoliberalism is equated with a radically free market: maximized competition and free trade achieved through economic deregulation, elimination of tariffs, and a range of monetary and social policies favorable to business and indifferent toward poverty, social deracination, cultural decimation, long-term resource depletion, and environmental destruction. Neoliberalism is most often invoked in relation to the Third World, referring either to NAFTA-like schemes that increase the vulnerability of poor nations to the vicissitudes of globalization or to International Monetary Fund and World Bank policies that, through financing packages attached to “restructuring” requirements, yank the chains of every aspect of Third World existence, including political institutions and social formations.
For progressives, neoliberalism is thus a pejorative not only because it conjures economic policies that sustain or deepen local poverty and the subordination of peripheral to core nations, but also because it is compatible with, and sometimes even productive of, authoritarian, despotic, para-militaristic, and corrupt state forms as well as agents within civil society.
While these referents capture important effects of neoliberalism, they also reduce neoliberalism to a bundle of economic policies with inadvertent political and social consequences: they fail to address the political rationality that both organizes these policies and reaches beyond the market. Moreover, these referents do not capture the neo in neoliberalism, tending instead to treat the contemporary phenomenon as little more than a revival of classical liberal political economy.
Finally, they obscure the specifically political register of neoliberalism in the First World: that is, its powerful erosion of liberal democratic institutions and practices in places like the United States. My concern in this essay is with these neglected dimensions of neoliberalism.
One of the more incisive accounts of neoliberal political rationality comes from a surprising quarter: Michel Foucault is not generally heralded as a theorist of liberalism or of political economy. Yet Foucault’s 1978 and 1979 Collège de France lectures, long unpublished,2 consisted of his critical analysis of two groups of neoliberal economists: the Ordo-liberal school in postwar Germany (so named because its members, originally members of the Freiburg School, published mainly in the journal Ordo) and the Chicago School that arose midcentury in the United States. Thanks to the German sociologist Thomas Lemke, we have an excellent summary and interpretation of Foucault’s lectureson neoliberalism; in what follows I will draw extensively from Lemke’s work.
It may be helpful, before beginning a consideration of neoliberalism as a political rationality, to mark the conventional difference between political and economic liberalism—a difference especially confusing for Americans for whom “liberal” tends to signify a progressive political viewpoint and, in particular, support for the welfare state and other New Deal institutions, along with relatively high levels of political and legal intervention in the social sphere.4 In addition, given the contemporary phenomena of both neoconservatism and neoliberalism, and the association of both with the political right, ours is a time of often bewildering political nomenclature.5 Briefly, then, in economic thought, liberalism contrasts with mercantilism on one side and Keynesianism or socialism on the other; its classical version refers to a maximization of free trade and competition achieved by minimum interference from political institutions. In the history of political thought, while individual liberty remains a touchstone, liberalism signifies an order in which the state exists to secure the freedom of individuals on a formally egalitarian basis. A liberal political order may harbor either liberal or Keynesian economic policies—it may lean in the direction of maximizing liberty (its politically “conservative” tilt) or of maximizing equality (its politically “liberal” tilt), but in contemporary political parlance, it is no more or less a liberal democracy because of one leaning or the other. Indeed, the American convention of referring to advocates of the welfare state as political liberals is especially peculiar, given that American conservatives generally hew more closely to both the classical economic and the political doctrines of liberalism—it turns the meaning of liberalism in the direction of liberality rather than liberty. For our purposes, what is crucial is that the liberalism in what has come to be called neoliberalism refers to liberalism’s economic variant, recuperating selected pre-Keynesian assumptions about the generation of wealth and its distribution, rather than to liberalism as a political doctrine, as a set of political institutions, or as political practices. The neo in neoliberalism, however, establishes these principles on a significantly different analytic basis from those set forth by Adam Smith, as will become clear below. Moreover, neoliberalism is not simply a set of economic policies; it is not only about facilitating free trade, maximizing corporate profits, and challenging welfarism. Rather, neoliberalism carries a social analysis that, when deployed as a form of governmentality, reaches from the soul of the citizen-subject to education policy to practices of empire. Neoliberal rationality, while foregrounding the market, is not only or even primarily focused on the economy; it involves extending and disseminating market values to all institutions and social action, even as the market itself remains a distinctive player.
This essay explores the political implications of neoliberal rationality for liberal democracy—the implications of the political rationality corresponding to, legitimating, and legitimated by the neoliberal turn.
While Lemke, following Foucault, is careful to mark some of the differences between Ordo-liberal thought and its successor and radicalizer, the Chicago School, I will be treating contemporary neoliberal political rationality without attending to these differences in some of its source material. A rich genealogy of neoliberalism as it is currently practiced—one that mapped and contextualized the contributions of the two schools of political economy, traced the ways that rational choice theory differentially adhered and evolved in the various social sciences and their governmental applications, and described the interplay of all these currents with developments in capital over the past half century—would be quite useful. But this essay is not such a genealogy. Rather, my aim is to consider our current political predicament in terms of neoliberal political rationality, whose chief characteristics are enumerated below.
The neoliberal formulation of the state and especially of specific legal arrangements and decisions as the precondition and ongoing condition of the market does not mean that the market is controlled by the state but precisely the opposite. The market is the organizing and regulative principle of the state and society, along three different lines:
A fully realized neoliberal citizenry would be the opposite of public-minded; indeed, it would barely exist as a public. The body politic ceases to be a body but is rather a group of individual entrepreneurs and consumers . . . which is, of course, exactly how voters are addressed in most American campaign discourse.8 Other evidence for progress in the development of such a citizenry is not far from hand: consider the market rationality permeating universities today, from admissions and recruiting to the relentless consumer mentality of students as they consider university brand names, courses, and services, from faculty raiding and pay scales to promotion criteria.9 Or consider the way in which consequential moral lapses (of a sexual or criminal nature) by politicians, business executives, or church and university administrators are so often apologized for as “mistakes in judgment,” implying that it was the calculation that was wrong, not the act, actor, or rationale.
The state is not without a project in the making of the neoliberal subject. It attempts to construct prudent subjects through policies that organize such prudence: this is the basis of a range of welfare reforms such as workfare and single-parent penalties, changes in the criminal code such as the “three strikes law,” and educational voucher schemes. Because neoliberalism casts rational action as a norm rather than an ontology, social policy is the means by which the state produces subjects whose compass is set entirely by their rational assessment of the costs and benefits of certain acts, whether those acts pertain to teen pregnancy, tax fraud, or retirement planning. The neoliberal citizen is calculating rather than rule abiding, a Benthamite rather than a Hobbesian. The state is one of many sites framing the calculations leading to social behaviors that keep costs low and productivity high. This mode of governmentality (techniques of governing that exceed express state action and orchestrate the subject’s conduct toward himor herself) convenes a “free” subject who rationally deliberates about alternative courses of action, makes choices, and bears responsibility for the consequences of these choices. In this way, Lemke argues, “the state leads and controls subjects without being responsible for them”; as individual “entrepreneurs” in every aspect of life, subjects become wholly responsible for their well-being and citizenship is reduced to success in this entrepreneurship (201). Neoliberal subjects are controlled through their freedom—not simply, as thinkers from the Frankfurt School through Foucault have argued, because freedom within an order of domination can be an instrument of that domination, but because of neoliberalism’s moralization of the consequences of this freedom. Such control also means that the withdrawal of the state from certain domains, followed by the privatization of certain state functions, does not amount to a dismantling of government but rather constitutes a technique of governing; indeed, it is the signature technique of neoliberal governance, in which rational economic action suffused throughout society replaces express state rule or provision. Neoliberalism shifts “the regulatory competence of the state onto ‘responsible,’ ‘rational’ individuals [with the aim of] encourag[ing] individuals to give their lives a specific entrepreneurial form” (Lemke, 202).
Taken together, the extension of economic rationality to all aspects of thought and activity, the placement of the state in forthright and direct service to the economy, the rendering of the state tout court as an enterprise organized by market rationality, the production of the moral subject as an entrepreneurial subject, and the construction of social policy according to these criteria might appear as a more intensive rather than fundamentally new form of the saturation of social and political realms by capital. That is, the political rationality of neoliberalism might be read as issuing from a stage of capitalism that simply underscores Marx’s argument that capital penetrates and transforms every aspect of life—remaking everything in its image and reducing every value and activity to its cold rationale. All that would be new here is the flagrant and relentless submission of the state and the individual, the church and the university, morality, sex, marriage, and leisure practices to this rationale. Or better, the only novelty would be the recently achieved hegemony of rational choice theory in the human sciences, self-represented as an independent and objective branch of knowledge rather than an expression of the dominance of capital. Another reading that would figure neoliberalism as continuous with the past would theorize it through Weber’s rationalization thesis rather than Marx’s argument about capital. The extension of market rationality to every sphere, and especially the reduction of moral and political judgment to a cost-benefit calculus, would represent precisely the evisceration of substantive values by instrumental rationality that Weber predicted as the future of a disenchanted world. Thinking and judging are reduced to instrumental calculation in Weber’s “polar night of icy darkness”—there is no morality, no faith, no heroism, indeed no meaning outside the market.
Yet invaluable as Marx’s theory of capital and Weber’s theory of rationalization are in understanding certain aspects of neoliberalism, neither brings into view the historical-institutional rupture it signifies, the form of governmentality it replaces and the form it inaugurates, and hence the modalities of resistance it renders outmoded and those that must be developed if it is to be effectively challenged. Neoliberalism is not an inevitable historical development of capital and instrumental rationality; it is not the unfolding of laws of capital or of instrumental rationality suggested by a Marxist or Weberian analysis but represents instead a new and contingent organization and operation of both. Moreover, neither analysis articulates the shift neoliberalism heralds from relatively differentiated moral, economic, and political rationalities and venues in liberal democratic orders to their discursive and practical integration. Neoliberal governmentality undermines the relative autonomy of certain institutions—law, elections, the police, the public sphere—from one another and from the market, an independence that formerly sustained an interval and a tension between a capitalist political economy and a liberal democratic political system. The implications of this transformation are significant. Herbert Marcuse worried about the loss of a dialectical opposition within capitalism when it “delivers the goods”—that is, when, by the mid–twentieth century, a relatively complacent middle class had taken the place of the hardlaboring impoverished masses Marx depicted as the negating contradiction to the concentrated wealth of capital—but neoliberalism entails the erosion of oppositional political, moral, or subjective claims located outside capitalist rationality yet inside liberal democratic society, that is, the erosion of institutions, venues, and values organized by nonmarket rationalities in democracies. When democratic principles of governance, civil codes, and even religious morality are submitted to economic calculation, when no value or good stands outside of this calculus, then sources of opposition to, and mere modulation of, capitalist rationality disappear. This reminds us that however much a left analysis has identified a liberal political order with legitimating, cloaking, and mystifying the stratifications of society achieved by capitalism (and achieved as well by racial, sexual, and gender superordinations), it is also the case that liberal democratic principles of governance— liberalism as a political doctrine—have functioned as something of an antagonist to these stratifications. As Marx himself argued in “On the Jewish Question,” formal political principles of equality and freedom (with their attendant promises of individual autonomy and dignity) figure an alternative vision of humanity and alternative social and moral referents to those of the capitalist order within which they are asserted. This is the Janus-face or at least Janus-potential of liberal democracy vis-à-vis a capitalist economy: while liberal democracy encodes, reflects, and legitimates capitalist social relations, it simultaneously resists, counters, and tempers them.
Put simply, what liberal democracy has provided over the past two centuries is a modest ethical gap between economy and polity. Even as liberal democracy converges with many capitalist values (property rights, individualism, Hobbesian assumptions underneath all contracts, etc.), the formal distinction it establishes between moral and political principles on the one hand and the economic order on the other has also served to insulate citizens against the ghastliness of life exhaustively ordered by the market and measured by market values. It is this gap that a neoliberal political rationality closes as it submits every aspect of political and social life to economic calculation: asking not, for example, what liberal constitutionalism stands for, what moral or political values it protects and preserves, but rather what efficacy or profitability constitutionalism promotes . . . or interdicts. Liberal democracy cannot be submitted to neoliberal political governmentality and survive.
There is nothing in liberal democracy’s basic institutions or values — from free elections, representative democracy, and individual liberties equally distributed to modest power-sharing or even more substantive political participation — that inherently meets the test of serving economic competitiveness or inherently withstands a cost-benefit analysis. And it is liberal democracy that is going under in the present moment, even as the flag of American “democracy” is being planted everywhere it can find or create soft ground. (That “democracy” is the rubric under which so much antidemocratic imperial and domestic policy is enacted suggests that we are in an interregnum—or, more precisely, that neoliberalism borrows extensively from the old regime to legitimate itself even as it also develops and disseminates new codes of legitimacy. More about this below.) Nor is liberal democracy a temporary casualty of recent events or of a neoconservative agenda. As the foregoing account of neoliberal governmentality suggests, while post-9/11 international and domestic policy may have both hastened and highlighted the erosion of liberal democratic institutions and principles, this erosion is not simply the result of a national security strategy or even of the Bush administration’s unprecedented indifference to the plight of the poor, civil liberties, law valued as principle rather than tactic, or conventional liberal democratic criteria for legitimate foreign policy.10
My argument here is twofold. First, neoliberal rationality has not caused but rather has facilitated the dismantling of democracy during the current national security crisis. Democratic values and institutions are trumped by a cost-benefit and efficiency rationale for practices ranging from government secrecy (even government lying) to the curtailment of civil liberties. Second, the post-9/11 period has brought the ramifications of neoliberal rationality into sharp focus, largely through practices and policies that progressives assail as hypocrisies, lies, or contradictions but that may be better understood as neoliberal policies and actions taking shape under the legitimating cloth of a liberal democratic discourse increasingly void of substance.
The Bush administration’s imperial adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq clearly borrowed extensively from the legitimating rhetoric of democracy. Not only were both wars undertaken as battles for “our way of life” against regimes said to harbor enemies (terrorists) or dangers (weapons of mass destruction) to that way of life, but both violations of national sovereignty were justified by the argument that democracy could and ought to take shape in those places—each nation is said to need liberation from brutal and despotic rule. The standard left criticism of the first justification is that “our way of life” is more seriously threatened by a politics of imperialism and by certain policies of homeland security than by these small nations. But this criticism ignores the extent to which “our way of life” is being figured not in a classically liberal democratic but in a neoliberal idiom: that is, as the ability of the entrepreneurial subject and state to rationally plot means and ends and the ability of the state to secure the conditions, at home and abroad, for a market rationality and subjectivity by removing their impediments (whether Islamic fundamentalism or excessive and arbitrary state sovereignty in the figure of Saddam Hussein). Civil liberties are perfectly expendable within this conception of “our way of life”; unlike property rights, they are largely irrelevant to homo oeconomicus. Their attenuation or elimination does not falsify the project of protecting democracy in its neoliberal mode.
The Left criticized the second justification, that the United States could or ought to liberate Afghanistan from the Taliban and Iraq from Hussein, as both hypocritical (the United States had previously funded and otherwise propped up both regimes) and disingenuous (U.S. foreign policy has never rested on the principle of developing democracy and was not serious about the project in these settings). Again, however, translated into neoliberal terms, “democracy,” here or there, does not signify a set of independent political institutions and civic practices comprising equality, freedom, autonomy and the principle of popular sovereignty but rather indicates only a state and subjects organized by market rationality.
Indeed, democracy could even be understood as a code word for availability to this rationality; removal of the Taliban and Baath party pave the way to that availability, and democracy is simply the name of the regime, conforming to neoliberal requirements, that must replace them. When Paul Bremer, the U.S.-appointed interim governor of Iraq, declared on May 26, 2003 (just weeks after the sacking of Baghdad and four days after the UN lifted economic sanctions), that Iraq was “open for business,” he made clear exactly how democracy would take shape in post- Saddam Iraq. Duty-free imported goods poured into the country, finishing off many local Iraqi businesses already damaged by the war. Multinationals tumbled over themselves to get a piece of the action, and foreign direct investment to replace and privatize state industry was described by the corporate executives advising the Bush administration as the “answer to all of Iraq’s problems.”11 The question of democratic institutions, as Bremer made clear by scrapping early plans to form an interim Iraqi government in favor of installing his own team of advisers, was at best secondary to the project of privatizing large portions of the economy and outsourcing the business of policing a society in rubble, chaos, and terror occasioned by the combination of ongoing military skirmishes and armed local gangs.12
It is not news that replacements for the Taliban and the Baath regimes need not be rights-based, formally egalitarian, representative, or otherwise substantively democratic in order to serve the purposes of global capitalism or the particular geopolitical interests of the United States. Nor is it news that the replacements of these regimes need not be administered by the Afghans or Iraqis themselves to satisfy American and global capitalist purposes and interests, though the residues of old-fashioned democracy inside the legitimation project of neoliberalism make even puppet or faux rule by an appointed governing council, or by officials elected in severely compromised election conditions, ideologically preferable to full-fledged directorship by the American occupation. What is striking, however, is the boldness of a raw market approach to political problem solving, the extent to which radical privatization schemes and a flourishing market economy built on foreign investment are offered not simply as the path to democracy but as the name and the measure of democracy in these nations, a naming and measuring first appearing in post-1989 Eastern Europe a decade earlier. Not only are democratic institutions largely irrelevant— and at times even impediments—to neoliberal governmentality, but the success of such governmentality does not depend on the question of whether it is locally administered or externally imposed. Market rationality knows no culture or country, and administrators are, as the economists say, fungible. Indeed, at this juncture in the displacement of liberal democracy by neoliberal governmentality, the question is how much legitimacy neoliberal governance requires from a democratic vocabulary—how much does neoliberalism have to cloak itself in liberal democratic discourse and work with liberal democratic institutions?
This is less a theoretical than a historical-empirical question about how deeply and extensively neoliberal rationality has taken hold as ideology, that is, how much and where neoliberal governance can legitimate itself in its own terms, without borrowing from other discourses. (Neoliberalism can become dominant as governmentality without being dominant as ideology—the former refers to governing practices and the latter to a popular order of belief that may or may not be fully in line with the former, and that may even be a site of resistance to it.) Clearly, a rhetoric of democracy and the shell of liberal democratic institutions remain more important in the imperial heartland than in recently “liberated” or conquered societies with few if any democratic traditions of legitimacy. However, the fact that George W. Bush retains the support of the majority of the American people, despite his open flaunting of democratic principles amid a failing economy and despite, too, evidence that the public justification for invading Iraq relied on cooked intelligence, suggests that neoliberalism has taken deep hold in the homeland. Particularly striking is the number of pundits who have characterized this willful deceit of the people as necessary rather than criminal, as a means to a rational end, thereby reminding us that one of the more dangerous features of neoliberal evisceration of a non-market morality lies in undercutting the basis for judging government actions by any criteria other than expedience.13
Just as neoliberal governmentality reduces the tension historically borne by the state between democratic values and the needs of capital as it openly weds the state to capital and resignifies democracy as ubiquitous entrepreneurialism, so neoliberalism also smooths an old wrinkle in the fabric of liberal democratic foreign policy between domestic political values and international interests. During the cold war, political progressives could use American sanctimony about democracy to condemn international actions that propped up or installed authoritarian regimes and overthrew popularly elected leaders in the Third World. The divergence between strategic international interests and democratic ideology produced a potential legitimation problem for foreign policy, especially as applied to Southeast Asia and Central and Latin America. Neoliberalism, by redefining democracy as thoroughgoing market rationality in state and society, a redefinition abetted by the postcommunist “democratization” process in Eastern Europe, largely eliminates that problem. Certainly human rights talk is ubiquitous in global democracy discourse, but not since Jimmy Carter’s ill-fated efforts to make human rights a substantive dimension of foreign policy have they served as more than window dressing for neoliberal adventures in democracy.
An assault on liberal democratic values and institutions has been plainly evident in recent events: civil liberties undermined by the USA Patriot Acts and the Total Information Awareness (later renamed Total Terror Awareness) scheme, Oakland police shooting wood and rubber bullets at peaceful antiwar protesters, a proposed Oregon law to punish all civil disobedience as terrorism (replete with twenty five-year jail terms), and McCarthyite deployments of patriotism to suppress ordinary dissent and its iconography. It is evident as well in the staging of aggressive imperial wars and ensuing occupations along with the continued dismantling of the welfare state and the progressive taxation schemes already diluted by the Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, and Clinton administrations. It has been more subtly apparent in “softer” events, such as the de-funding of public education that led eighty four Oregon school districts to sheer almost a month off the school year in spring 2003 and delivered provisional pink slips to thousands of California teachers at the end of the 2002–03 academic year.14
Or consider the debate about whether antiwar protests constituted unacceptable costs for a financially strapped cities—even many critics of current U.S. foreign policy expressed anger at peaceful civil disobedients over the expense and disruption they caused, implying that the value of public opinion and protest should be measured against its dollar cost.15 Together these phenomena suggest a transformation of American liberal democracy into a political and social form for which we do not yet have a name, a form organized by a combination of neoliberal governmentality and imperial world politics, shaped in the short run by global economic and security crises. They indicate a form in which an imperial agenda is able to take hold precisely because the domestic soil has been loosened for it by neoliberal rationality.
This form is not fascism or totalitarian as we have known them historically, nor are these labels likely to prove helpful in identifying or criticizing it.16 Rather, this is a political condition in which the substance of many of the significant features of constitutional and representative democracy have been gutted, jettisoned, or end-run, even as they continue to be promulgated ideologically, serving as a foil and shield for their undoing and for the doing of death elsewhere. These features include civil liberties equally distributed and protected; a press and other journalistic media minimally free from corporate ownership on one side and state control on the other; uncorrupted and unbought elections; quality public education oriented, inter alia, to producing the literacies relevant to informed and active citizenship; government openness, honesty, and accountability; a judiciary modestly insulated from political and commercial influence; separation of church and state; and a foreign policy guided at least in part by the rationale of protecting these domestic values. None of these constitutive elements of liberal democracy was ever fully realized in its short history—they have always been compromised by a variety of economic and social powers, from white supremacy to capitalism. And liberal democracies in the First World have always required other peoples to pay—politically, socially, and economically—for what these societies have enjoyed; that is, there has always been a colonially and imperially inflected gap between what has been valued in the core and what has been required from the periphery. So it is important to be precise here. Ours is not the first time in which elections have been bought, manipulated, and even engineered by the courts, the first time the press has been slavish to state and corporate power, the first time the United States has launched an aggressive assault on a sovereign nation or threatened the entire world with its own weapons of mass destruction.
What is unprecedented about this time is the extent to which basic principles and institutions of democracy are becoming nothing other than ideological shells concealing their opposite as well as the extent to which these principles and institutions even as values are being abandoned by large parts of the American population. Elements in this transformation include the development of the most secretive government in fifty years (the gutting of the Freedom of Information Act was one of the quiet early accomplishments of the G. W. Bush administration, the “classified” status of its more than 1,000 contracts with Halliburton one of its more recent); the plumping of corporate wealth combined with the reduction of social spending for limiting the economic vulnerability of the poor and middle classes; a bought, consolidated, and muffled press that willingly cooperates in its servitude (emblematic in this regard is the Judith Miller (non)scandal, in which the star New York Times journalist wittingly reported Pentagon propaganda about Iraqi WMDs as journalistically discovered fact); and intensified policing in every corner of American life— airports, university admissions offices, mosques, libraries, workplaces— a policing undertaken both by official agents of the state and by an interpellated citizenry.
A potentially permanent “state of emergency” combined with an infinitely expandable rhetoric of patriotism overtly legitimates undercutting the Bill of Rights and legitimates as well abrogation of conventional democratic principles in setting foreign policy, principles that include respect for nation-state sovereignty and reasoned justifications for war. But behind these rhetorics there is another layer of discourse facilitating the dismantling of liberal democratic institutions and practices: a governmentality of neoliberalism that eviscerates nonmarket morality and thus erodes the root of democracy in principle at the same time that it raises the status of profit and expediency as the criteria for policy making. There is much that is disturbing in the emergence of neoliberal governmentality and a great deal more work to do in theorizing its contribution to the organization and possibilities in current and future political life in the United States. In particular, as I suggested at the outset of this essay, filling in the contemporary political picture would require mapping the convergences and tensions between a (nonpartisan) neoliberal governmentality on the one hand and the specific agendas of Clintonian centrists and Reagan-Bush neoconservatives on the other. It would require exploring the continued efficacy of political rhetorics of morality and principle as neoliberalism voids the substance of and undercuts the need for extramarket morality.
It would require discerning what distinguishes neoliberal governmentality from old-fashioned corporatism and old-fashioned political realism. It would require examining the contradictory political imperatives delivered by the market and set as well by the tensions between nationstate interests and globalized capitalism indifferent to states and sovereignty. And it would require examining the points at which U.S. imperial policies converge with and diverge from or even conflict with neoliberal governmentality.
By way of conclusion, however, I leave aside these questions to reflect briefly on the implications for the Left of neoliberalism’s erosion of liberal democracy. While leftists of the past quarter century were rarely as antagonistic to liberal democracy as the Old Left, neither did we fully embrace it; at times we resented and railed against it, and certainly we harbored an aim to transform it into something else—social democracy or some form of radical democracy. So the Left is losing something it never loved, or at best was highly ambivalent about. We are also losing a site of criticism and political agitation—we criticized liberal democracy not only for its hypocrisy and ideological trickery but also for its institutional and rhetorical embedding of bourgeois, white, masculinist, and heterosexual superordination at the heart of humanism. Whatever loose identity we had as a Left took shape in terms of a differentiation from liberalism’s willful obliviousness to social stratification and injury that were glossed and hence secured by its formal juridical categories of liberty and equality.
Still, liberalism, as Gayatri Spivak once wrote in a very different context, is also that which one “cannot not want” (given the other historical possibilities, given the current historical meaning of its deprivation). Even here, though, the desire is framed as roundabout and against itself, as Spivak’s artful double negative indicates. It indicates a dependency we are not altogether happy about, an organization of desire we wish were otherwise. What might be the psychic/social/intellectual implications for leftists of losing this vexed object of attachment? What are the possible trajectories for a melancholic incorporation of that toward which one is openly ambivalent; or perhaps even hostile, resentful, rebellious?\
Freud posits melancholy as occasioned by ambivalence, though the ambivalence may be more unconsciously sustained than I am suggesting is the case for the Left’s relationship to liberal democracy. More precisely, Freud’s focus in theorizing melancholy is love that does not know or want to avow its hostility, whereas the task before us is to consider hostility that does not know or want to avow its love or dependency. Still, Freud’s thinking about melancholia remains useful here as a theory of loss amid ambivalent attachment and dependence and a theory of identity formation at the site of an ungrievable passion or attachment. It reminds us to consider how left melancholia about liberal democracy would not just be a problematic affect but would constitute a formation of the Left itself.
Incorporating the death of a loathed object to which one was nonetheless attached often takes the form of acting out the loathed qualities of the object. I once had an acquaintance whose muchdespised and abusive father died. While my friend overtly rejoiced at his passing, in the ensuing months she engaged in extraordinary outbursts of verbal and physical abuse toward friends and colleagues, even throwing things at them as she had described her father throwing household objects during her childhood. Another friend buried, after years of illness, a childish, hysterical, histrionic, and demanding mother, one who relentlessly produced herself as a victim amid her own aggressive demands. Relieved as my friend was to have done with this parent, what should emerge over the following year but exactly such tendencies in her own relationships? So this is one danger: that we would act out to keep alive those aspects of the political formation we are losing, that we would take up and perform liberal democracy’s complacencies, cruelties, or duplicities, stage them in our own work and thinking. This behavior would issue in part from the need to preserve the left identity and project that took shape at the site of liberal democracy, and in part from ambivalence about liberal democracy itself. In response to the loss of an object both loved and loathed, in which only the loathing or contempt is avowed, melancholy sustains the loved object, and continues to provide a cover for the love—a continued means of disavowing it—by incorporating and performing the loathsomeness.
There are other ways ambivalently structured loss can take shape as melancholic, including the straightforward possibility of idealizing a lost object as it was never idealized when alive. Straightforward, perhaps, but not simple, for this affect also involves remorse for a past of not loving the object well enough and self-reproach for ever having wished for its death or replacement. As idealization fueled by guilt, this affect also entails heightened aggression toward challenges or challengers to the idealization. In this guilt, anxiety, and defensiveness over the loss of liberal democracy, we would feel compelled to defend basic principles of liberalism or simply defend liberalism as a whole in a liberal way, that is, we would give up being critical of liberalism and, in doing so, give up being left. Freud identifies this surrender of identity upon the death of an ambivalent object as the suicidal wish in melancholia,17 a wish abetted in our case by a more general disorientation about what the Left is or stands for today. Evidence for such a surrender in the present extends from our strikingly unnuanced defenses of free speech, privacy, and other civil liberties to the staging of antiwar protests as “patriotic” through the iconography of the American flag. Often explained as what the Left must do when public discourse moves rightward, such accounts presume a single political continuum, ranged from extreme left to extreme right, in which liberals and conservatives are nothing more than the moderate versions of the extremes (communists and fascists). Not only does the model of the continuum reduce the variety of political possibility in modernity to matters of degree rather than kind, it erases the distinctiveness of a left critique and vision. Just as today’s neoliberals bear little in common with traditional conservatives, so the Left has traditionally stood for a set of values and possibilities qualitatively different from those of welfare state liberals. Times of alliance and spheres of overlap obviously exist, but a continuum does not capture the nature of these convergences and tactical linkages any better than it captures the differences between, for example, a liberal commitment to rights-based equality and a left commitment to emancipating the realm of production, or between a liberal enthusiasm for the welfare state and a left critique of its ideological and regulatory dimensions. So the idea that leftists must automatically defend liberal political values when they are on the ropes, while sensible from a liberal perspective, does not facilitate a left challenge to neoliberalism if the Left still wishes to advocate in the long run for something other than liberal democracy in a capitalist socioeconomic order.
Of course, there are aspects of liberal democracy that the Left has come to value and incorporate into its own vision of the good society—for example, an array of individual liberties that are largely unrelated to the freedom from domination promised by transforming the realm of production. But articulating this renewed left vision differs from defending civil liberties in liberal terms, a defense that itself erases a left project as it consigns it to something outside those terms. Similarly, patriotism and flag-waving are surely at odds with a left formulation of justice, even as love of America, represented through icons other than the flag or through narratives other than “supporting the troops,” might well have a part in this formulation. Finally, not only does defending liberal democracy in liberal terms sacrifice a left vision, but this sacrifice discredits the Left by tacitly reducing it to nothing more than a permanent objection to the existing regime. It renders the Left a party of complaint rather than a party with an alternative political, social, and economic vision.
Still, if we are slipping from liberalism to fascism, and if radical democracy or socialism is nowhere on the political horizon, don’t we have to defend liberal democratic institutions and values? Isn’t this the lesson of Weimar? I have labored to suggest that this is not the right diagnosis of our predicament: it does not grasp what is at stake in neoliberal governmentality—which is not fascism—nor on what grounds it might be challenged. Indeed, the left defense of the welfare state in the 1980s, which seemed to stem from precisely such an analysis—“if we can’t have socialism, at least we should preserve welfare state capitalism”—backfired from just such a misdiagnosis. On the one hand, rather than articulating an emancipatory vision that included the eradication rather than regulation of poverty, the Left appeared aligned with big government, big spending, and misplaced compassion for those construed as failing to give their lives proper entrepreneurial shape. On the other hand, the welfare state was dismantled on grounds that had almost nothing to do with the terms of liberal democracy and everything to do with neoliberal economic and political rationality. We are not simply in the throes of a right-wing or conservative positioning within liberal democracy but rather at the threshold of a different political formation, one that conducts and legitimates itself on different grounds from liberal democracy even as it does not immediately divest itself of the name. It is a formation that is developing a domestic imperium correlative with a global one, achieved through a secretive and remarkably agentic state; through corporatized media, schools, and prisons; and through a variety of technologies for intensified local administrative, regulatory, and police powers. It is a formation made possible by the production of citizens as individual entrepreneurial actors across all dimensions of their lives, by the reduction of civil society to a domain for exercising this entrepreneurship, and by the figuration of the state as a firm whose products are rational individual subjects, an expanding economy, national security, and global power.
This formation produces a twofold challenge for the Left. First, it compels us to consider the implications of losing liberal democracy and especially its implications for our own work by learning what the Left has depended on and demanded from liberal democracy, which aspects of it have formed the basis of our critiques of it, rebellions against it, and identity based on differentiation from it. We may also need to mourn liberal democracy, avowing our ambivalent attachment to it, our need for it, our mix of love and hostility toward it. The aim of this work is framed by the second challenge, that of devising intelligent left strategies for challenging the neoliberal political-economic formation now taking shape and an intelligent left countervision to this formation. Ahalf century ago, Marcuse argued that capitalism had eliminated a revolutionary subject (the proletariat) representing the negation of capitalism; consequently, he insisted, the Left had to derive and cultivate anticapitalist principles, possibilities, and agency from capitalism’s constitutive outside. That is, the Left needed to tap the desires— not for wealth or goods but for beauty, love, mental and physical well-being, meaningful work, and peace—manifestly unmet within a capitalist order and to appeal to those desires as the basis for rejecting and replacing the order. No longer could economic contradictions of capitalism inherently fuel opposition to it; rather, opposition had to be founded in an alternative table of values. Today, the problem Marcuse diagnosed has expanded from capitalism to liberal democracy: oppositional consciousness cannot be generated from liberal democracy’s false promises and hypocrisies. The space between liberal democratic ideals and lived realities has ceased to be exploitable, because liberal democracy itself is no longer the most salient discourse of political legitimacy and the good life. Put the other way around, the politically exploitable hollowness in formal promises of freedom and equality has largely vanished to the extent that both freedom and equality have been redefined by neoliberalism. Similarly, revealed connections between political and economic actors—not merely bought politicians but arrangements of mutual profiteering between corporate America and its political elite—do not incite outrage at malfeasance, corruption, or injustice but appear instead as a potentially rational set of linkages between state and economy. Thus, from the “scandal” of Enron to the “scandal” of Vice President Cheney delivering Iraq to Halliburton to clean up and rebuild, there is no scandal. There is only market rationality, a rationality that can encompass even a modest amount of criminality but also treats close state-corporate ties as a potentially positive value—maximizing the aims of each—rather than as a conflict of interest. 18 Similarly, even as the Bush administration fails to come up with WMDs in Iraq and fails to be able to install order let alone democracy there, such deficiencies are irrelevant to the neoliberal criteria for success in that military episode. Indeed, even the scandal of Bush’s installation as president by a politicized Supreme Court in 2000 was more or less ingested by the American people as business as usual, an ingestion that represents a shift from the expectation that the Supreme Court is independent of political influence to one that tacitly accepts its inclusion in the governmentality of neoliberalism. Similarly, John Poindexter, a key figure in the Iran-Contra affair and director of the proposed “Terrorism Information Awareness” program that would have put all Americans under surveillance, continued to have power and legitimacy at the Pentagon until the flap over the scheme to run a futures market on political violence in the Middle East. All three of these projects are instances of neoliberalism’s indifference to democracy; only the last forced Poindexter into retirement.
These examples suggest that not only liberal democratic principles but democratic morality has been largely eviscerated—in neoliberal terms, each of these “scandals” is framed as a matter of miscalculation or political maneuvering rather than by right and wrong, truth or falsehood, institutional propriety or impropriety. Consequently, the Left cannot count on revealed deception, hypocrisies, interlocking directorates, featherbedding, or corruption to stir opposition to the existing regime. It cannot count on the expectation that moral principle undergirds political action or even on consistency as a value by which to judge state practices or aims. Much of the American public appeared indifferent to the fact that both the Afghan and Iraqi regimes targeted by Bush had previously been supported or even built by earlier U.S. foreign policy. It also appeared indifferent to the touting of the “liberation” of Afghan women as one of the great immediate achievements of the overthrow of the Taliban while the overthrow of the Baath regime set into motion an immediately more oppressive regime of gender in Iraq. The inconsistency does not matter much, because political reasons and reasoning that exceed or precede neoliberal criteria have ceased to matter much. This is serious political nihilism, which no mere defense of free speech and privacy, let alone securing the right to gay marriage or an increase in the minimum wage, will reverse.
What remains for the Left, then, is to challenge emerging neoliberal governmentality in Euro-Atlantic states with an alternative vision of the good, one that rejects homo economicus as the norm of the human and rejects this norm’s correlative formations of economy, society, state, and (non)morality. In its barest form, this would be a vision in which justice would center not on maximizing individual wealth or rights but on developing and enhancing the capacity of citizens to share power and hence to collaboratively govern themselves. In such an order, rights and elections would be the background rather than token of democracy; or better, rights would function to safeguard the individual against radical democratic enthusiasms but would not themselves signal the presence or constitute the principle of democracy. Instead, a left vision of justice would focus on practices and institutions of popular power; a modestly egalitarian distribution of wealth and access to institutions; an incessant reckoning with all forms of power—social, economic, political, and even psychic; a long view of the fragility and finitude of nonhuman nature; and the importance of both meaningful activity and hospitable dwellings to human flourishing. However differently others might place the accent marks, none of these values can be derived from neoliberal rationality or meet neoliberal criteria for the good. The drive to develop and promulgate such a counterrationality—a different figuration of human beings, citizenship, economic life, and the political—is critical both to the long labor of fashioning a more just future and to the immediate task of challenging the deadly policies of the imperial American state.
Sep 26, 2019 | truthout.org
Part of the Series The Public Intellectual
Talk of a looming recession is heating up as the global economy slows and President Trump's tiff with China unsettles financial markets. As world trade contracts, stock markets drop, the manufacturing sector in the United States is in decline for the first time in a decade , and farmers and steel workers continue losing their income and jobs.
Rumors of a coming recession accentuate fears about the further deterioration of conditions faced by workers and the poor, who are already suffering from precarious employment, poverty, lack of meaningful work and dwindling pensions. A global economic slump would make living standards for the poor even worse. As Ashley Smith points out , levels of impoverishment in the United States are already shocking, with "four out of every ten families [struggling] to meet the costs of food, housing, health care, and utilities every month."
Just as the 2008 global economic crisis revealed the failures of liberal democracy and the scourge of neoliberalism, a new economic recession in 2019 could also reveal how institutions meant to serve the public interest and offer support for a progressive politics now serve authoritarian ideologies and a ruling elite that views democracy as the enemy of market-based freedoms and white nationalism.
What has not been learned from the 2008 crisis is that an economic crisis neither unites those most affected in favor of a progressive politics nor does it offer any political guarantees regarding the direction of social change. Instead, the emotions that fueled massive public anger toward elites and globalization gave rise to the celebration of populist demagogues and a right-wing tsunami of misdirected anger, hate and violence toward undocumented immigrants, refugees, Muslims and people of color.
The 2008 financial crisis wreaked havoc in multiple ways. Yet there was another crisis that received little attention: a crisis of agency. This crisis centered around matters of identity, self-determination and collective resistance, which were undermined in profound ways, giving rise to and legitimating the emergence of authoritarian populist movements in many parts of the world, such as United States, Hungary, Poland and Brazil.
At the heart of this shift was the declining belief in the legitimacy of both liberal democracy and its pledges about trickle-down wealth, economic security and broadening equal opportunities preached by the apostles of neoliberalism. In many ways, public faith in the welfare state, quality employment opportunities, institutional possibilities and a secure future for each generation collapsed. In part, this was a consequence of the post-war economic boom giving way to massive degrees of inequality, the off-shoring of wealth and power, the enactment of cruel austerity measures, an expanding regime of precarity, and a cut-throat economic and social environment in which individual interests and needs prevailed over any consideration of the common good. As liberalism aligned itself with corporate and political power, both the Democratic and Republican Parties embraced financial reforms that increased the wealth of the bankers and corporate elite while doing nothing to prevent people from losing their homes, being strapped with chronic debt, seeing their pensions disappear, and facing a future of uncertainty and no long-term prospects or guarantees.Neoliberalism became an incubator for a growing authoritarian populism fed largely by economic inequality.
In an age of economic anxiety, existential insecurity and a growing culture of fear, liberalism's overheated emphasis on individual liberties "made human beings subordinate to the market, replacing social bonds with market relations and sanctifying greed," as noted by Pankaj Mishra. In this instance, neoliberalism became an incubator for a growing authoritarian populism fed largely by economic inequality. The latter was the outcome of a growing cultural and political polarization that made "it possible for haters to come out from the margins, form larger groups and make political trouble." This toxic polarization and surge of right-wing populism produced by casino capitalism was accentuated with the growth of fascist groups that shared a skepticism of international organizations, supported a militant right-wing nationalism, and championed a surge of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-democratic values.
This apocalyptic populism was rooted in a profound discontent for the empty promises of a neoliberal ideology that made capitalism and democracy synonymous, and markets the model for all social relations. In addition, the Democratic proponents of neoliberalism, such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, participated in the dismantling of the social contract, widening economic inequality, and burgeoning landscapes of joblessness, misery, anger and despair.
At the same time, they enacted policies that dismantled civic culture and undermined a wide range of democratic institutions that extended from the media to public goods such as public and higher education. Under such circumstances, democratic narratives, values and modes of solidarity, which traded in shared responsibilities and shared hopes, were replaced by a market-based focus on a regressive notion of hyper-individualism, ego-centered values and a view of individual responsibility that eviscerated any broader notion of social, systemic, and corporate problems and accountability.
Ways of imagining society through a collective ethos became fractured, and a comprehensive understanding of politics as inclusive and participatory morphed into an anti-politics marked by an investment in the language of individual rights, individual choice and the power of rights-bearing individuals.
Under the reign of neoliberalism, language became thinner and more individualistic, detached from history and more self-oriented, all the while undermining viable democratic social spheres as spaces where politics bring people together as collective agents and critically engaged citizens. Neoliberal language is written in the discourse of economics and market values, not ethics. Under such circumstances, shallowness becomes an asset rather than a liability. Increasingly, the watered-down language of liberal democracy, with its over-emphasis on individual rights and its neoliberal coddling of the financial elite, gave way to a regressive notion of the social marked by rising authoritarian tendencies, unchecked nativism, unapologetic expressions of bigotry, misdirected anger and the language of resentment-filled revolt. Liberal democracies across the globe appeared out of touch with not only the misery and suffering caused by neoliberal policies, they also produced an insular and arrogant group of politicians who regarded themselves as an enlightened political formation that worked " on behalf of an ignorant public ."
The ultimate consequence was to produce later what Wolfgang Merkel describes as "a rebellion of the disenfranchised." A series of political uprisings made it clear that neoliberalism was suffering from a crisis of legitimacy further accentuated by the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, the election of Donald Trump, support for the National Rally ( formerly known as the National Front ) in France, and the emergence of powerful right-wing populist movements across the globe.What has been vastly underestimated in the rise of right-wing populism is the capture of the media by authoritarian populists.
As a regime of affective management, neoliberalism created a culture in which everyone was trapped in his or her own feelings, emotions and orbits of privatization. One consequence was that legitimate political claims could only be pursued by individuals and families rather than social groups. In this instance, power was removed from the social sphere and placed almost entirely in the hands of corporate and political demagogues who used it to enrich themselves for their own personal gain.
Power was now used to produce muscular authority in order "to secure order, boundaries, and to divert the growing anger of a declining middle and working-class," Wendy Brown observes . Both classes increasingly came to blame their economic and political conditions that produced their misery and ravaged ways of life on "'others': immigrants, minority races, 'external' predators and attackers ranging from terrorists to refugees." Liberal-individualistic views lost their legitimacy as they refused to indict the underlying structures of capitalism and its winner-take-all ethos.
Functioning largely as a ruthless form of social Darwinism, economic activity was removed from a concern with social costs, and replaced by a culture of cruelty and resentment that disdained any notion of compassion or ethical concern for those deemed as "other" because of their class, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion. This is a culture marked by gigantic hypocrisies, "the gloomy tabulation of unspeakable violent events," widespread viciousness, "great concentrations of wealth," "surveillance overkill," and the "unceasing despoliation of biospheres for profit."
George Monbiot sums up well some of the more toxic elements of neoliberalism, which remained largely hidden since it was in the mainstream press less as an ideology than as an economic policy. He writes :
Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning. Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimized, public services should be privatized. The organization of labor and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.
In the neoliberal worldview, those who are unemployed, poor consumers or outside of the reach of a market in search of insatiable profits are considered disposable. Increasingly more people were viewed as anti-human, unknowable, faceless and symbols of fear and pathology. This included undocumented immigrants in the United States and refugees in Europe, as well as those who were considered of no value to a market society, and thus eligible to be deprived of the most basic rights and subject to the terror of state violence.
Marking selected groups as disposable in both symbolic and material forms, the neoliberal politics of disposability became a machinery of political and social death -- producing spaces where undesirable members are abused, put in cages , separated from their children and subject to a massive violation of their human rights. Under a neoliberal politics of disposability, people live in spaces of ever-present danger and risk where nothing is certain; human beings considered excess are denied a social function and relegated to what Étienne Balibar calls the "death zones of humanity." These are the 21st century workstations designed for the creation and process of elimination; a death-haunted mode of production rooted in the "absolute triumph of irrationality."Economic and cultural nationalism has become a rallying cry to create the conditions for merging a regressive neoliberalism and populism into a war machine.
Within this new political formation, older forms of exploitation are now matched, if not exceeded, by a politics of racial and social cleansing, as entire populations are removed from ethical assessments, producing zones of social abandonment. In this new world, there is a merging of finance capital and a war culture that speaks to a moral and political collapse in which the welfare state is replaced by forms of economic nationalism and a burgeoning carceral state .
Furthermore, elements of this crisis can be seen in the ongoing militarization of everyday life as more and more institutions take on the model of the prison. Additionally, there is also the increased arming of the police, the criminalization of a wide range of behaviors related to social problems, the rise of the surveillance state, and the ongoing war on youth, undocumented immigrants, Muslims and others deemed enemies of the state.
Under the aegis of a neoliberal war culture, we have witnessed increasing immiseration for the working and middle classes, massive tax cuts for the rich, the outsourcing of public services, a full-fledged attack on unions, the defunding of public goods, and the privatization of public services extending from health and education to roads and prisons. This ongoing transfer of public resources and services to the rich, hedge fund managers, and corporate elite was matched by the corporate takeover of the commanding institutions of culture, including the digital, print and broadcast media. What has been vastly underestimated in the rise of right-wing populism is the capture of the media by authoritarian populists and its flip side, which amounts to a full-fledged political attack on independent digital, online and oppositional journalists.
While it is generally acknowledged that neoliberalism was responsible for the worldwide economic crisis of 2008, what is less acknowledged is that structural crisis produced by a capitalism on steroids was not matched by subjective crisis and consequently gave rise to new reactionary political populist movements. As economic collapse became visceral, people's lives were upended and sometimes destroyed. Moreover, as the social contract was shredded along with the need for socially constructed roles, norms and public goods, the "social" no longer occupied a thick and important pedagogical space of solidarity, dialogue, political expression, dissent and politics.
As public spheres disappeared, communal bonds were weakened and social provisions withered. Under neoliberalism, the social sphere regresses into a privatized society of consumers in which individuals are atomized, alienated, and increasingly removed from the variety of social connections and communal bonds that give meaning to the degree to which societies are good and just.Establishment politics lost its legitimacy, as voters rejected the conditions produced by financialized capitalism.
People became isolated, segregated and unable " to negotiate democratic dilemmas in a democratic way " as power became more abstract and removed from public participation and accountability. As the neoliberal net of privilege was cast wider without apology for the rich and exclusion of others, it became more obvious to growing elements of the public that appeals to liberal democracy had failed to keep its promise of a better life for all. It could no longer demand, without qualification, that working people should work harder for less, and that democratic participation is exclusively about elections. What could not be hidden from many disenfranchised groups was that ruling elites produced what Adam Tooze describes as "a disastrous slide from the hypocrisies and compromises of the previous status quo into something even [more dangerous]."
As the global crisis has intensified since 2008, elements of a political and moral collapse at the heart of an authoritarian society are more obvious and find their most transparent expression of ruthlessness, greed and unchecked power in the rule of Donald Trump. As Chris Hedges points out :
The ruling corporate elites no longer seek to build. They seek to destroy. They are agents of death. They crave the unimpeded power to cannibalize the country and pollute and degrade the ecosystem to feed an insatiable lust for wealth, power and hedonism. Wars and military "virtues" are celebrated. Intelligence, empathy and the common good are banished. Culture is degraded to patriotic kitsch . Those branded as unproductive or redundant are discarded and left to struggle in poverty or locked away in cages.
The slide into authoritarianism was made all the easier by the absence of a broad-based left mass movement in the United States, which failed to provide both a comprehensive vision of change and an alignment of single-issue groups and smaller movements into one mass movement. Nancy Fraser rightly observes that following Occupy, "potential links between labour and new social movements were left to languish. Split off from one another, those indispensable poles of a viable left were miles apart, waiting to be counterposed as antithetical."
Since the 1970s, there has been a profound backlash by economic, financial, political and religious fundamentalists and their allied media establishments against labor, an oppositional press, people of color and others who have attempted to extend the workings of democracy and equality.
As the narrative of class and class struggle disappeared along with the absence of a vibrant socialist movement, the call for democracy no longer provided a unifying narrative to bring different oppressed groups together. Instead, economic and cultural nationalism has become a rallying cry to create the conditions for merging a regressive neoliberalism and populism into a war machine. Under such circumstances, politics is imagined as a form of war, repelling immigrants and refugees who are described by President Trump as "invaders," "vermin" and "rapists." The emergence of neoliberalism as a war machine is evident in the current status of the Republican Party and the Trump administration, which wage assaults on anything that does not mimic the values of the market. Such assaults take the form of fixing whole categories of people as disposable, as enemies, and force them into conditions of extreme precarity -- and in increasingly more instances, conditions of danger. Neoliberal capitalism radiates violence, evident in its endless instances of mass shooting, such as those that took place most recently in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. This should not be surprising for a society that measures power by the speed that it removes itself from any sense of ethical and social responsibility. As Beatrix Campbell puts it ,
The richest society on the planet is armed. And it invests in one of the largest prison systems in the world. Violence circulates between state and citizen. Drilled to kill, doomed to die: mastery and martyrdom is the heartbreaking dialectic of the manufacture of militarized, violent masculinity . The making and maintaining of militarised masculinities is vital to these new modes of armed conflict that are proliferating across the flexible frontiers of globalized capitalism, between and within states.
What has become clear is that the neoliberal agenda has been a spectacular failure . Moreover, it has mobilized on a global level the violent political, social, racial and economic energies of a resurgent fascist politics. Across the globe, right-wing modes of governance are appearing in which the line collapses between "outside foreign enemies" such as refugees and undocumented immigrants, on the one hand, and on the other, inside "dangerous" or "treasonous" classes such as critical journalists, educators and dissidents.
As neoliberal economies increasingly resort to violence and repression, fear replaces any sense of shared responsibilities, as violence is not only elevated to an organizing principle of society, but also expands a network of extreme cruelty. Imagining politics as a war machine, more and more groups are treated as excess and inscribed in an order of power as disposable, enemies, and [forced] into conditions of extreme precarity. This is a particularly vicious form of state violence that undermines and constrains agency, and subjects individuals to zones of abandonment, as evident in the growth of immigrant jails and an expanding carceral complex in the United States and other countries, such as Hungary.
As neoliberalism's promise of social mobility and expanding economic progress collapsed, it gave way to an authoritarian right-wing populism looking for narratives on which to pin the hatred of governing elites who, as Paul Mason notes , "capped health and welfare spending, [imposed] punitive benefit withdraws [that] forced many families to rely on food banks [and] withdraw sickness and disability benefits from one million former workers below retirement age."
Across the globe, a series of uprisings have appeared that signal new political formations that rejected the notion that there was no alternative to neoliberal hegemony. This was evident not only with the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, but also with the election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and support for popular movements such as the National Rally in France. Establishment politics lost its legitimacy, as voters rejected the conditions produced by financialized capitalism.
In the United States, both major political parties were more than willing to turn the economy over to the bankers and hedge fund managers while producing policies that shaped radical forms of industrial and social restructuring, all of which caused massive pain, suffering and rage among large segments of the working class and other disenfranchised groups. Right-wing populist leaders across the globe recognized that national economies were in the hands of foreign investors, a mobile financial elite and transnational capital. In a masterful act of political diversion, populist leaders attacked all vestiges of liberal capitalism while refusing to name neoliberal inequities in wealth and power as a basic threat to their societies. Instead of calling for an acceleration of the democratic ideals of popular sovereignty and equality, right-wing populist leaders, such as Trump, Bolsonaro and Hungary's Viktor Orbán defined democracy as the enemy of those who wish for unaccountable power. They also diverted genuine popular anger into the abyss of cultural chauvinism, anti-immigrant hatred, a contempt of Muslims and a targeted attack on the environment, health care, education, public institutions, social provisions and other basic life resources. As Arjun Appadurai observes , such authoritarian leaders hate democracy, capture the political emotions of those treated as disposable, and do everything they can to hide the deep contradictions of neoliberal capitalism.
In this scenario, we have the resurgence of a fascist politics that capitalizes on the immiseration, fears and anxieties produced by neoliberalism without naming the underlying conditions that create and legitimate its policies and social costs. While such populists comment on certain elements of neoliberalism such as globalization, they largely embrace those ideological and economic elements that concentrate power and wealth in the hands of a political, corporate and financial elite, thus reinforcing in the end an extreme form of capitalism. Moreover, right-wing populists may condemn globalization, but they do so by blaming those considered outside the inclusive boundaries of a white homeland even though the same forces victimize them . At the same time, such leaders mobilize passions that deny critical understanding while simultaneously creating desires and affects that produce toxic and hypermasculine forms of identification.Authoritarian leaders hate democracy and do everything they can to hide the deep contradictions of neoliberal capitalism.
In this instance, an oppressive form of education becomes central to politics and is used as a tool of power in the struggle over power, agency and politics. What is at stake here is not simply a struggle between authoritarian ideas and democratic ideals, but also a fierce battle on the part of demagogues to destroy the institutions and conditions that make critical thought and oppositional accounts of power possible. This is evident, for example, in Trump's constant attack on the critical media, often referring to them as "'the enemy of the people' pushing 'Radical Left Democrat views,'" even as journalists are subject to expulsion, mass jailing and assassination across the world by some of Trump's allies.
Waging war on democracy and the institutions that produce it, neoliberalism has tapped into a combination of fear and cathartic cruelty that has once again unleashed the mobilizing passions of fascism, especially the historically distinct registers of extreme nationalism, nativism, white supremacy, racial and ethnic cleansing, voter suppression, and an attack on a civic culture of critique and resistance. The result is a new political formation that I have called neoliberal fascism, in which the principles and practices of a fascist past and neoliberal present have merged, connecting the worst dimensions and excesses of gangster capitalism with the fascist ideals of white nationalism and racial supremacy associated with the horrors of a fascist past.
Neoliberal fascism hollows out democracy from within, breaks down the separation of power while increasing the power of the presidency, and saturates cultural and social life with its ideology of self-interest, a survival-of-the-fittest ethos, and regressive notions of freedom and individual responsibility.
What needs to be acknowledged is that neoliberalism as an extreme form of capitalism has produced the conditions for a fascist politics that is updated to serve the interest of a concentrated class of financial elite and a rising tide of political demagogues across the globe.
The mass anger fueling neoliberal fascism is a diversion of genuine resistance into what amounts to a pathology, which empties politics of any substance. This is evident also in its support of a right-wing populism and its focus on the immigrants and refugees as "dangerous outsiders," which serves to eliminate class politics and camouflage its own authoritarian ruling class interests and relentless attacks on social welfare.A new economic slump would further fuel forces of repression and strengthen the forces of white supremacy.
In the face of a looming global recession, it is crucial to understand the connection between the rise of right-wing populism and neoliberalism, which emerged in the late 1970s as a commanding ideology fueling a punitive form of globalization. This historical moment is marked by unique ideological, economic and political formations produced by ever-increasing brutal forms of capitalism, however diverse.
Governing economic and political thinking everywhere, neoliberalism's unprecedented concentration of economic and political power has produced a toxic state modeled after the models of finance and unchecked market forces. It has also produced a profound shift in human consciousness, agency and modes of identification. The consequences have become familiar and include cruel austerity measures, adulation of self-regulating markets, the liberating of capital from any constraints, deregulation, privatization of public goods, the commodification of everyday life and the gutting of environmental, health and safety laws. It has also paved the way for a merging of extreme market principles and the sordid and mushrooming elements of white supremacy, racial cleansing and ultranationalism that have become specific to updated forms of fascist politics.
Such policies have produced massive inequities in wealth, power and income, while further accelerating mass misery, human suffering, the rise of state-sanctioned violence and ever-expanding sites of terminal exclusion in the forms of walls, detention centers and an expanding carceral state. An impending recession accentuates the antagonisms, instabilities and crisis produced by the long history and reach of neoliberal ideologies and policies.
A new economic slump would further fuel forces of repression and strengthen the forces of white supremacy, Islamophobia, nativism and misogyny. In the face of such reactionary forces, it is crucial to unite various progressive forces of opposition into a powerful anti-capitalist movement that speaks not only to the range of oppressions exacerbated by neoliberalism, but also to the need for new narratives that speak to overturning a system steeped in the machineries of war, militarization, repression and death.
Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and is the Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy. His most recent books include: Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education (Haymarket 2014), The Violence of Organized Forgetting (City Lights 2014), Dangerous Thinking in the Age of the New Authoritarianism (Routledge, 2015), America's Addiction to Terrorism (Monthly Review Press, 2016), America at War with Itself (City Lights, 2017), The Public in Peril (Routledge, 2018) and American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism (City Lights, 2018) and The Terror of the Unforeseen (LARB Books, 2019). Giroux is also a member of Truthout 's Board of Directors.
Nov 11, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com
As the happy marriage of neoconservatives and Obama-era humanitarian interventionists continues to flourish in defense of American permanent war deployments around the globe, it is a worthwhile moment to recall the roots of the neocons in the old left of the 1930s. Neocon founders like Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, Max Schachtman, Seymour Martin Lipset, Irving Howe, Nathan Glazer, and Gertrude Himmelfarb were all anti-Soviet socialists from the 1930s, many of whom were followers of Leon Trotsky. Trotsky broke with Stalin in the late 1930s over his emphasis on permanent world socialist revolution, as Stalin concentrated on the consolidation of "socialist in one country"--the USSR.
From the 1950s, the anti-Soviet fervor of these New York City-based intellectuals prompted support for the early United States intervention in Vietnam. In the 1970s, the Socialist Party split up as some factions aligned with the New Left. The neocons formed the Social Democrats USA (SDUSA), only later abandoning their socialist party-building in favor of penetrating both the Democratic and Republican parties. In the 1970s, Senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Henry "Scoop" Jackson and Representative William Hughes hired some leading second-generation neocons as foreign policy staffers, beginning a long, steady penetration of key Congressional committees.
At the Gerald Ford White House, successive chiefs of staff Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney organized a series of "intellectual seminars" by Irving Kristol, further spreading neocon ideology within the foreign policy establishment. As Defense Secretary and later as Vice President, Cheney continued to promote neocons to key posts and to advocate for neocon permanent warfare.
Early in the 1980s President Ronald Reagan launched "Project Democracy," to spread democracy around the globe through well-funded programs including the National Endowment for Democracy, led by Carl Gershman, who has headed the NED since its founding in 1984 through to the present. Gershman was previously Executive Director of Social Democrats USA. NED has been a stronghold of neocons from its inception.
While the anti-Soviet outlook of the neocons continued even after the Berlin Wall and the fall of Soviet communism, the focus increasingly was on permanent warfare to promote democracy around the globe.
Does the permanent warfare of today's neocons differ in any real way from the Trotsky idea of permanent world revolution? Socialism has been replaced by democracy-promotion but that difference is small, particularly as the consequences continue to play out on the world stage.
Posted at 03:24 AM | Permalink
falcemartello , 11 November 2019 at 06:28 AMAntonio Gramsci quote" Trotskyist are the whores of the fascists". Globalist are modern day or post modern TrotskyistJJackson , 11 November 2019 at 07:03 AM"Does the permanent warfare of today's neocons differ in any real way from the Trotsky idea of permanent world revolution? Socialism has been replaced by democracy-promotion but that difference is small, particularly as the consequences continue to play out on the world stage."David Lentini , 11 November 2019 at 08:30 AM
I don't think the Democracy bit is much more than a fig leaf, it can quickly be discarded if votes do not go as required. The aim seems to have more to do with removing unfriendly regimes and replacing them with compliant ones. It does not work because the people/'voters' do not like the imposed elites and are inclined to vote by tribe/clan/religion, rather than any western concept of party, the biggest block wins and lords it over the minority."Democracy-promotion" is just the ostensible reason. Socialism, controlled by the Western élites, was always the goal.oldman22 , 11 November 2019 at 08:52 AMIt is a serious error to conflate Irving Howe with support for the Vietnam war. In fact the truth is quite opposite. Here is a reference:doug said in reply to oldman22... , 11 November 2019 at 10:40 AM
https://www.nybooks.com/articles/1965/11/25/the-vietnam-protest/oldman22,Vig , 11 November 2019 at 09:03 AM
Irving was quite a character. A socialist who's eyes were not totally closed to the um, "contradictions" and stagnation inherent in socialist economies. He spun his wheels mightily in the pages of Dissent trying to reconcile his socialist ideals with it's fundamental conflict with human nature.Ok, thus the essence of neoconism is Trotzkism and not Straussianism?Babak Makkinejad , 11 November 2019 at 10:18 AM
In other words, concerning the neoconservatives it makes no sense to look at the (Leo) Straussian angle? Arbitarily?
Now, considering their (not so prominent???) part in the US Culture War (still ongoing???) I am admittedly puzzled. If they were leaning towards Strauss at one point in time, they may well have shifted from revolutionaries to counterevolutionaries at one point in time. No?
They never did? They weren't impressed by their heroes death, but carried his legacy on? Nevertheless?Actually, this is a recasting of the old Muslim idea of Dar al Salam and Dar al Harb. Western Diocletian states embodying the House of Peace while the rest of mankind lives in the House of War. For Muslims, the idea was to bring the benefits of Islam to non-Muslims. Here, it is to bring the benefits of Civilization to the barbarian hordes.Babak Makkinejad , 11 November 2019 at 10:22 AMFundamentally, neocon and their fellow travellers - an assortment of Protestants, Jews, Nihilists, Democrats, and Shoah Cultists - are waging a relugious war that has failed and will fail against the particularities of mankind. Just like Islam failed to destroy either Christianity or Hinduism, this Western errand will fail too.Eric Newhill said in reply to Babak Makkinejad... , 11 November 2019 at 12:08 PMWhat you say is true, Babak.Sbin , 11 November 2019 at 10:23 AM
I think these people are the type, subset pseudointellectuals, that just enjoy power and using it to stir the pot of humanity for self-glorification.
IMO, they really believe in nothing else. They are, by nature, miserable craven control freaks that justify their activities by hijacking whatever ideology is floating around in the zeitgeist that the dupes will follow; could be Islam, could be Christianity, could be democracy, could be socialism. Makes no difference to them as long as they get to experience themselves as superior masters of the world.Nice to see one of the founders of White Helmets being rehomed in the correct manner.Babak Makkinejad , 11 November 2019 at 10:29 AM
James le Mesurier found dead in Turkey.Harper:fredw , 11 November 2019 at 10:31 AM
In Libya, in 2011, Democracy-promoters destroyed her so that Sarkozy and others in France, Spain, Italy, UK could steal her wealth; reminiscent of Muslim invasions of India in search of war booty, rapine, and slaves, in the name of Islam.So? This review of (important) history gives us no insight into why it happened or why we should care today. Yes, I agree that these were bad people in the 1930s and they remained bad people when they moved (in theory) from the left wing to the right wing. But that is all you have said. What were the motives? How was it done? Why were they able to find acceptance in both parties with such a lousy history? How are they able to continue being accepted after such a lousy continuing history.Vegetius said in reply to fredw... , 11 November 2019 at 12:07 PM
This account is all ad hominem, all about how a certain strain of ideologue has consistently advocated for policies of world-wide control. The logical back story would be a Trotskyite coordinating presence, something I don't for a minute believe. Yet people of this description are undeniably pervasive in the councils of state.
So what is the connection between advocates of US dominion and former advocates of world wide revolution? And, if it is just a matter of attitudes toward power, why should we care? So some people 70 years ago (bad people, admittedly) had an influence of some people today (also in my mind bad people). So? Were they the only people from that era who held such attitudes? Could we not just as easily trace other genealogies for ideas of US domination? Do such ideas ever in history fail to materialize when the power balances enable them?
So you don't like these people and you don't like where you think they came from. But do you have anything to say about why they are so pervasive and what could be done about it?doug , 11 November 2019 at 10:35 AM
> Could we not just as easily trace other genealogies
Keep it simple and start with tracing the actual genealogies of these people. If you do that, a lot of things should begin to fall into place.
If they don't, you're still operating under a century of mass media propaganda.
Harper,Babak Makkinejad -> doug... , 11 November 2019 at 12:31 PM
Ah, the good old days. In the early 80's I would stop after work at the local newsstand and pick up Commentary, Dissent, Partisan Review, National Interest, and so on. Whatever struck my fancy and for some reason, these did even though their circulation was quite small. At the time I didn't not realize their commonality which came to me later in the 80's. The PBS movie/book, "Arguing the World," which came out about 20 years ago, has a lot of the backstory.
A common thread is the desire to change the world though they had different views of what that "change" should be.
As for me, I was an accidental entrepreneur and generally liked Hayek's economic views. I'm also highly skeptical of idealist and messianic movements like Mao's which the 60's had been rife with. But I loved readings all these rags with somewhat different perspectives but a common thread that each seemed to think their "Truth" should rule. Seems to me the greatest evil gets perpetrated by those that think they have found "The Way."The most dangerous man is an intellectual.doug said in reply to Babak Makkinejad... , 11 November 2019 at 03:09 PMBabak,prawnik , 11 November 2019 at 10:38 AM
And the Alcoves at CUNY bred a bunch of 'em. Different perspectives but a fevered desire to change the World. God help us.To such people, ihe ideology is unimportant. Empire is what matters.Babak Makkinejad -> prawnik... , 11 November 2019 at 12:31 PMNot empire, rather, power.prawnik said in reply to Babak Makkinejad... , 11 November 2019 at 05:21 PMSame difference, viewed from the neocon perspective.tjfxh , 11 November 2019 at 11:30 AMHow much of neoconservatism cum liberal internationalism (foreign policy idealism aka Wilsonianism) is "spreading freedom and democracy" and now much is neoliberal globalization as "making the world safe for capitalism"?Vegetius , 11 November 2019 at 11:58 AM
In either case the end in view is a Pax Americana where the US has permanent global dominance in accordance with the Wolfowitz doctrine of not permitting a challenger to arise as a competitor.If you go no further than Marxism, you will not understand what is happening. But to go further is to engage in thoughtcrime.Stephanie , 11 November 2019 at 12:33 PM
Fortunately, the Catholic scholar E. Michael Jones has written a great book on this. It is called The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit: And Its Impact on World History. Incredibly, it has not been banned from Amazon yet. It is exhaustive, encyclopedic and documented.
Jones has developed a following among young Catholics appalled at both the corruption in Rome and the corruption in American society. These kids are the ones digging conservatism's grave, not the left. The left needs Conservative Inc to plays its role and keep the show going for the benefit of older people who get all their information from television.
It has not been covered much by the media but TPUSA, a Trump-aligned youth organization, has been battered by audience after audience on its recent campus tour. Yesterday in Los Angeles Donald Trump Jr was booed off the stage as he tried to promote his latest book.
At first, TPUSA tried to blame campus leftwingers. This was an obvious lie, and so they began to call the audience Nazis. Then, they accused them of being virgins. They tried to vet and plant questioners but when this failed they eliminated the Q&A altogether. A similar episode happened the week before when Sebastian Gorka stupidly took on a 20 year-old Youtube personality with an audience ten times larger than his own.
Post-WW2 Conservatives failed because they never understood what they were fighting, failed to wage culture war, and fooled themselves into thinking that the fall of the Berlin Wall meant the end of struggle, when it only meant a change of theater.
Not off-topic, just a footnote.Fred -> Stephanie... , 11 November 2019 at 06:33 PM
RIPStephanie,Harlan Easley , 11 November 2019 at 12:51 PM
"...appeared to have fallen from a balcony." I somehow doubt that.
"The NGO's funders currently include the British and German governments. The Trump administration froze US funding, which made up about one-third of the total, without public explanation in early 2018, but resumed giving financial aid last month amid criticism of its decision to withdraw US troops from north-eastern Syria."
I bet that pissed off the neocons to no end. He should stop it again. We can use the money at home.Their ideology is Anti-Christian. It's that simple. Their motive is spiritual.Thirdeye , 11 November 2019 at 04:27 PM"Does the permanent warfare of today's neocons differ in any real way from the Trotsky idea of permanent world revolution?"fredw said in reply to Thirdeye... , 11 November 2019 at 09:36 PM
Yes, profoundly. For starters, Permanent Revolution and world revolution were two separate Trotskyist doctrines. Permanent Revolution was a doctrine eschewing the mainstream social-democratic strategy of supporting bourgeois-democratic revolutions until the proletariat gained sufficient strength to gain state power. Trotsky contended that socialist - capitalist alliances were inherently unstable and that bourgeois-democratic forces would inevitably align with the existing ruling order against the proletariat. World revolution was a doctrine that a socialist revolution in Russia could not survive in isolation and revolutions had to take place in more advanced countries, particularly Germany. That was given a messianic veneer of "proletarian internationalism" and "world revolution." Such maximalism was opposed to realist expedients such as the New Economic Policy and the Rapallo Treaty of 1924 that fostered economic relations between the Soviet Union and capitalist Germany.
Revolutionary movements have always drawn opportunists who saw them mainly as a shortcut to gaining power for themselves. The ur-neocons were such a group. Their loyalty to Trotskyist ideology only lasted as long as they saw it as something that could boost them into power. When better means in various apparatuses of US power presented themselves, they latched onto them under the guise of "spreading democracy." That seems a cynical formulation, since the most consistent neocon ideological theme is that the great unwashed masses are not to be trusted, so power must be arrogated to themselves."... the most consistent neocon ideological theme is that the great unwashed masses are not to be trusted, so power must be arrogated to themselves." Isn't that the real ideology of all these factions? To my mind the rest is all just tactics.ex PFC Chuck , 11 November 2019 at 10:16 PM
I am genuinely unsure what the real distinctions are. The present American "conservative" idolizing of democracy and free market economics seems about as sincere as the Communist ideal of economic control by the working classes. Many years ago I argued with a (captured) VC political officer that the Vietnam war was just a fight between two elites over who would get to run things. He was appalled by the idea. His claim to the moral high ground was based on two factors: the personal honesty of the Viet Cong cadre and the party discipline that that guaranteed it. These seemed plausible at the time. Both went up in smoke almost as soon as the victory had been won.
How different were the results of the war from those to be expected from a Southern victory? I haven't followed the subsequent history in detail, but American Vietnamese acquaintances tell me that 40 years later everything is being run by Southerners. Not identically the same Southerners, but ... And does anyone believe that a southern government securely established would not have set about expelling the Chinese population that had accumulated during the years when the Vietnamese could not control their own borders? (American media never said much about it, but the boat people were overwhelmingly Chinese victims of longstanding hatreds.)
So how different is the neocon vision from a Trotskyist vision in a world where direct control is no longer possible?The dots I have yet to connect are those that trace the path by which the neoconservatives wandered from their socialist roots to become the enforcers of the Western world's fundamentalist neoliberal ideology of political economy. How many of the dots pertaining to the latter came to be embedded in the western industrialized world and most of the Global South were tied together for me by the recent book Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism , by Quinn Slobodian. Several points jump from the author's narrative. The neoliberal movement traces its origins to two citizens of the Austrian Empire who came of age in the decades immediately before its collapse: Ludwig von Mises* (b 1881) and Frederick Hayek (b 1899). Both were of un-landed noble families that had been promoted to that status just a generation or two before. Slobodian argues that the Empire's uniqueness as a multi-cultural, multi-national entity held together by a common market with no internal tariffs and free migration within the empire led them (and especially Hayek) to envision a similarly structured world economy. They and their disciples and successors saw the making of that structure happen as their lives' work. The goal remained constant but the means of achieving it changed with the times. First they saw the League of Nations as the potential vehicle until its collapse during the Second World War. Next was the United Nation until it was "overrun" by new nations emerging from colonialism. The goal was largely achieved in the late 20th century when General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) morphed into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1994.
The most salient features of a neoliberal political economy are: free movement and safety of capital and protections for the ownership rights of investors across borders; free migration of people across those same borders; also tariff-free trade among countries; and the removal of economic policies and relationships from the purviews of sovereign countries and subordinate jurisdictions within them.
Slobodian elaborates how as the neoliberal ideology became embedded in the world economy during the 20th century it was believed by the movers and shakers (mostly implicitly but in some cases explicitly) that the lagging development status of the peoples of the recently decolonized emerging countries were the results of racial and/or cultural weaknesses. There was little recognition of the impacts of the cultural carnage and wealth extraction that were part and parcel of colonial enterprise. As a result, as the institutions of radical neoliberalism took shape they consigned a secondary economic status to the countries of what is now known as the Global South. The USA has been the leader in putting this ideology in place and has been aggressively looking out for its own interests in the process, which is understandable.* However an unintended consequence has been an economically lagging global south that has been prevented from industrializing enough to employ the millions of people whose farms have become uncompetitive with highly industrialized USA and European agribusiness. These folks move off the land either to the growing megacities of the Global South or, increasingly, into countries of the Global North by means either legal or illegal. Thus the Democratic Party establishment's Kumbaya on immigration is not all sweetness, light and harmony. They're also doing the bidding of their neoliberal masters.
* Michael Hudson has written extensively on this subject, especially in Superimperalism , which was first published in 1972 and substantially updated about 2003. You can download the full text in PDF format here: https://michael-hudson.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/superimperialism.pdf
Nov 06, 2019 | crookedtimber.org
likbez 11.06.19 at 4:07 am 47
Z 11.05.19 at 9:23 am @45
It seems to me an important tenet of the neoliberal ideology is the arbiter (or auctioneer) role it gives the state and other political institutions with respect to markets. Markets are the locus of justice and efficiency, but political institutions have the essential task of organizing them and the competitions that takes place within them, supposedly at least.
In practice, this translated in a central role of political power not only in privatizing and breaking state monopolies, but also in the creation, sometimes ex nihilo, of markets supervised by state or quasi-state agencies (shielded of electoral choices by regulatory or ideally constitutional provisions) whose role was to organize concurrence in domains classical liberal economic theory would consider natural monopolies or natural public properties (education, health service, energy distribution, infrastructure of transportation, telecommunication, postal and banking service etc.)
What an excellent and deep observation ! Thank you ! This is the essence of the compromises with financial oligarchy made by failing social democratic parties. Neoliberalism is kind of Trotskyism for the rich in which the political power is used to shape the society "from above". As Hayek remarked on his visit to Pinochet's Chile – "my personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism".
George Monblot observed that "Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket [of the financial oligarchy], but it rapidly became one." ( The Guardian, Apr 15, 2016):
Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.
Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.
The free (as in absence of regulation for FIRE) market produces a tiny cadre of winners and an enormous army of losers (10% vs 90%) – and the losers, looking for revenge, have turned to Trump. Now entrenched centers of "resistance" (and first of all CIA, the Justice Department, The Department of State and a part of Pentagon) are trying to reverse the situation. Failing to understand that they created Trump and each time will reproduce it in more and more dangerous variant.
Trumpism is the inevitable result of the gap between the utopian ideal of the free (for the FIRE sector only ) market and the dystopian reality for the majority of the population ("without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape" Pope Francis, "Evangelii Gaudium")
The situation in which the financial sector generates just 4% of employment, but accounts for more than 25% of corporate profits is unsustainable. It should be reversed and it will be reversed.
Nov 04, 2019 | crookedtimber.org
likbez 11.04.19 at 8:33 pm
Reverting to the first point, my main problem with your explanation of how you use the term 'neoliberal' is that your definition of 'neoliberal' depends on your definition of 'classical liberal', and you haven't explained how you use the term 'classical liberal'.
IMHO, neoliberalism has probably closer connection to Trotskyism then to the classic liberalism and Mont Pelerin Society can be renamed into "The Committee for the adaptation of Trotskyism for the needs of financial oligarchy"
Some commonalities (in no particular order, or importance):
-- The brutal suppression of organized labor
-- Rampant militarism as the method of controlling of the population; outsized role on intelligence agencies in the society; the regime of total surveillance; the conversion of the state into the national security state
-- Scapegoating and victimization of Untermensch
-- The mantle of inevitability (famous TINA statement of Margaret Thatcher )
-- The concept of the "new class" as the driving force in history which is destined to guide the humanity forward ( with the replacement of "proletariat" with the "creative class".) See also Rand positivism with its cult of entrepreneurs.
-- The implicit rejection of the normal interpretation of the rule of the law for "The Masters of the Universe" and the idea of "neoliberal justice" (tough justice for Untermensch only).
-- Messianic zeal and hate for the "old order"
-- Rejection of the ideas of universal truth, adoption of variation of "a class truth" via postmodernism; neoliberals reject the idea that there are any universal and/or religious (for example Christian) moral values and the concept of truth.
-- Implicit denial of the idea of "free press". The press is converted into neoliberal propaganda machine and journalists, writers, etc are viewed as "the solders of the ideology" who should advance neoliberalism
-- The use of university economics courses for the indoctrination
-- Pervasive use of academic science and "think tanks" for brainwashing of the population.
-- The idea of the Uniparty -- a single party system, with the ruling party serves as the vanguard of the hegemonic neoliberal class (top 1%) and represents only its interests. Which was adapted in the USA to a two Party system to preserve the illusion of democracy.
-- Economic fetishism, the deliberate conversion of the ideology into a secular religion, questioning postulates of which can lead to ostracism. Neoliberals see the market as a sacred element of human civilization. Like is the case with Marxism, "Neoliberal rationality" is heavily tilted toward viewing the people as "homo economicus". (See Professor Wendy Brown discussion on the subject)
-- Cult of GDP with GDP growth as the ultimate goal of any society. Measurement of GDP became "number racket" and is distorted for political gains. Like Marxism, neoliberalism reduces individuals to statistics contained within aggregate economic performance.
-- Justification of the use of violence as the political tool. The idea of Permanent [neoliberal] revolution to bring to power the new hegemonic class in all countries of the globe despite the resistance of the population. Like Trotskyism, neoliberalism consider wars to impose a neoliberal society on weaker countries (which in modern times are countries without nuclear weapons) which cannot give a fair fight to Western armies as inherently just
-- The idea of artificial creation of the "revolutionary situation" for overthrow of "unfriendly" regimes ( via color revolution methods); assigning similar roles to students and media in such a coup d'état.
-- Reliance on international organizations to bully countries into submission (remember Communist International (aka Comintern) and its network of spies and Communist Parties all over the world).
Nov 02, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Lambert here: Not sure the soul is an identity, but authors don't write the headlines. Read on!
By Christine Berry, a freelance researcher and writer and was previously Director of Policy and Government for the New Economics Foundation. She has also worked at ShareAction and in the House of Commons. Originally published at Open Democracy .
"Economics is the method: the object is to change the soul." Understanding why Thatcher said this is central to understanding the neoliberal project, and how we might move beyond it. Carys Hughes and Jim Cranshaw's opening article poses a crucial challenge to the left in this respect. It is too easy to tell ourselves a story about the long reign of neoliberalism that is peopled solely with all-powerful elites imposing their will on the oppressed masses. It is much harder to confront seriously the ways in which neoliberalism has manufactured popular consent for its policies.
The left needs to acknowledge that aspects of the neoliberal agenda have been overwhelmingly popular: it has successfully tapped into people's instincts about the kind of life they want to lead, and wrapped these instincts up in a compelling narrative about how we should see ourselves and other people. We need a coherent strategy for replacing this narrative with one that actively reconstructs our collective self-image – turning us into empowered citizens participating in communities of mutual care, rather than selfish property-owning individuals competing in markets.
As the Gramscian theorists Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau observed, our political identities are not a 'given' – something that emerges directly from the objective facts of our situation. We all occupy a series of overlapping identities in our day-to-day lives – as workers or bosses, renters or home-owners, debtors or creditors. Which of these define our politics depends on political struggles for meaning and power.
Part of the job of politics – whether within political parties or social movements – is to show how our individual problems are rooted in systemic issues that can be confronted collectively if we organise around these identities. Thus, debt becomes not a source of shame but an injustice that debtors can organise against. Struggles with childcare are not a source of individual parental guilt but a shared societal problem that we have a shared responsibility to tackle. Podemos were deeply influenced by this thinking when they sought to redefine Spanish politics as 'La Casta' ('the elite') versus the people, cutting across many of the traditional boundaries between right and left.
The architects of neoliberalism understood this process of identity creation. By treating people as selfish, rational utility maximisers, they actively encouraged them to become selfish, rational utility maximisers. As the opening article points out, this is not a side effect of neoliberal policy, but a central part of its intention. As Michael Sandel pointed out in his 2012 book 'What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets' , it squeezes out competing values that previously governed non-market spheres of life, such as ethics of public service in the public sector, or mutual care within local communities. But these values remain latent: neoliberalism does not have the power to erase them completely. This is where the hope for the left lies, the crack of light through the doorway that needs to be prised open.
The Limits of Neoliberal Consciousness
In thinking about how we do this, it's instructive to look at the ways in which neoliberal attempts to reshape our identities have succeeded – and the ways they have failed. While Right to Buy might have been successful in identifying people as home-owners and stigmatising social housing, this has not bled through into wider support for private ownership. Although public ownership did become taboo among the political classes for a generation – far outside the political 'common sense' – polls consistently showed that this was not matched by a fall in public support for the idea. On some level – perhaps because of the poor performance of privatised entities – people continued to identify as citizens with a right to public services, rather than as consumers of privatised services. The continued overwhelming attachment to a public NHS is the epitome of this tendency. This is partly what made it possible for Corbyn's Labour to rehabilitate the concept of public ownership, as the 2017 Labour manifesto's proposals for public ownership of railways and water – dismissed as ludicrous by the political establishment – proved overwhelmingly popular.
More generally, there is some evidence that neoliberalism didn't really succeed in making us see ourselves as selfish rational maximisers – just in making us believe that everybody else was . For example, a 2016 survey found that UK citizens are on average more oriented towards compassionate values than selfish values, but that they perceive others to be significantly more selfish (both than themselves and the actual UK average). Strikingly, those with a high 'self-society gap' were found to be less likely to vote and engage in civic activity, and highly likely to experience feelings of cultural estrangement.
This finding points towards both the great conjuring trick of neoliberal subjectivity and its Achilles heel: it has successfully popularised an idea of what human beings are like that most of us don't actually identify with ourselves. This research suggests that our political crisis is caused not only by people's material conditions of disempowerment, but by four decades of being told that we can't trust our fellow citizens. But it also suggests that deep down, we know this pessimistic account of human nature just isn't who we really are – or who we aspire to be.
An example of how this plays out can be seen in academic studies showing that, in game scenarios presenting the opportunity to free-ride on the efforts of others, only economics students behaved as economic models predicted: all other groups were much more likely to pool their resources. Having been trained to believe that others are likely to be selfish, economists believe that their best course of action is to be selfish as well. The rest of us still have the instinct to cooperate. Perhaps this shouldn't be surprising: after all, as George Monbiot argues in 'Out of the Wreckage' , cooperation is our species' main survival strategy.
What's Our 'Right to Buy?'
The challenge for the left is to find policies and stories that tap into this latent sense of what makes us human – what Gramsci called 'good sense' – and use it to overturn the neoliberal 'common sense'. In doing so, we must be aware that we are competing not only with a neoliberal identity but also with a new far-right that seeks to promote a white British ethno-nationalist group identity, conflating 'elites' with outsiders. How we compete with this is the million dollar question, and it's one we have not yet answered.
Thatcher's use of flagship policies like the Right to Buy was a masterclass in this respect. Deceptively simple, tangible and easy to grasp, the Right to Buy also communicated a much deeper story about the kind of nation we wanted to be – one of private, property-owning individuals – cementing home-ownership as a cultural symbol of aspiration (the right to paint your own front door) whilst giving millions an immediate financial stake in her new order. So what might be the equivalent flagship policies for the left today?
Perhaps one of the strongest efforts to date has been the proposal for ' Inclusive Ownership Funds ', first developed by Mathew Lawrence in a report for the New Economics Foundation, and announced as Labour policy by John McDonnell in 2018. This would require companies to transfer shares into a fund giving their workers a collective stake that rises over time and pays out employee dividends. Like the Right to Buy, as well as shifting the material distribution of wealth and power, this aims to build our identity as part of a community of workers taking more collective control over our working lives.
But this idea only takes us so far. While it may tap into people's desire for more security and empowerment at work, more of a stake in what they do, it offers a fairly abstract benefit that only cashes out over time, as workers acquire enough of a stake to have a meaningful say over company strategy. It may not mean much to those at the sharpest end of our oppressive and precarious labour market, at least not unless we also tackle the more pressing concerns they face – such as the exploitative practices of behemoths like Amazon or the stress caused by zero-hours contracts. We have not yet hit on an idea that can compete with the transformative change to people's lives offered by the Right to Buy.
So what else is on the table? Perhaps, when it comes to the cutting edge of new left thinking on these issues, the workplace isn't really where the action is – at least not directly. Perhaps we need to be tapping into people's desire to escape the 'rat race' altogether and have more freedom to pursue the things that really make us happy – time with our families, access to nature, the space to look after ourselves, connection with our communities. The four day working week (crucially with no loss of pay) has real potential as a flagship policy in this respect. The Conservatives and the right-wing press may be laughing it down with jokes about Labour being lazy and feckless, but perhaps this is because they are rattled. Ultimately, they can't escape the fact that most people would like to spend less time at work.
Skilfully communicated, this has the potential to be a profoundly anti-neoliberal policy that conveys a new story about what we aspire to, individually and as a society. Where neoliberalism tapped into people's desire for more personal freedom and hooked this to the acquisition of wealth, property and consumer choice, we can refocus on the freedom to live the lives we truly want. Instead of offering freedom through the market, we can offer freedom from the market.
Proponents of Universal Basic Income often argue that it fulfils a similar function of liberating people from work and detaching our ability to provide for ourselves from the marketplace for labour. But in material terms, it's unlikely that a UBI could be set at a level that would genuinely offer people this freedom, at least in the short term. And in narrative terms, UBI is actually a highly malleable policy that is equally susceptible to being co-opted by a libertarian agenda. Even at its best, it is really a policy about redistribution of already existing wealth (albeit on a bigger scale than the welfare state as it stands). To truly overturn neoliberalism, we need to go beyond this and talk about collective ownership and creation of wealth.
Policies that focus on collective control of assets may do a better job of replacing a narrative about individual property ownership with one that highlights the actual concentration of property wealth in the hands of elites – and the need to reclaim these assets for the common good. As well as Inclusive Ownership Funds, another way of doing this is through Citizens' Wealth Funds, which socialise profitable assets (be it natural resources or intangible ones such as data) and use the proceeds to pay dividends to individuals or communities. Universal Basic Services – for instance, policies such as free publicly owned buses – may be another.
Finally, I'd like to make a plea for care work as a critical area that merits further attention to develop convincing flagship policies – be it on universal childcare, elderly care or support for unpaid carers. The instinctive attachment that many of us feel to a public NHS needs to be widened to promote a broader right to care and be cared for, whilst firmly resisting the marketisation of care. Although care is often marginalised in political debate, as a new mum, I'm acutely aware that it is fundamental to millions of people's ability to live the lives they want. In an ageing population, most people now have lived experience of the pressures of caring for someone – whether a parent or a child. By talking about these issues, we move the terrain of political contestation away from the work valued by the market and onto the work we all know really matters; away from the competition for scarce resources and onto our ability to look after each other. And surely, that's exactly where the left wants it to be.
This article forms part of the " Left governmentality" mini series for openDemocracy.
Carolinian , November 1, 2019 at 12:36 pm
The problem is that people are selfish–me included–and so what is needed is not better ideas about ourselves but better laws. And for that we will need a higher level of political engagement and a refusal to accept candidates who sell themselves as a "lesser evil." It's the decline of democracy that brought on the rise of Reagan and Thatcher and Neoliberalism and not some change in public consciousness (except insofar as the general public became wealthier and more complacent). In America incumbents are almost universally likely to be re-elected to Congress and so they have no reason to reject Neoliberal ideas.
So here's suggesting that a functioning political process is the key to reform and not some change in the PR.
Angie Neer , November 1, 2019 at 12:42 pm
Carolinian, like you, I try to include myself in statements about "the problem with people." I believe one of the things preventing progress is our tendency to believe it's only those people that are the problem.
MyLessThanPrimeBeef , November 1, 2019 at 4:55 pm
Human nature people are selfish. It's like the Christian marriage vow – which I understand is a Medieval invention and not something from 2,000 years ago – for better or worse, meaning, we share (and are not to be selfish) the good and the bad.
"Not neoliberals, but all of us." "Not the right, but the left as well." "Not just Russia, but America," or "Not just America, but Russia too."
Carolinian , November 1, 2019 at 5:54 pm
Perhaps a rational system is one that accepts selfishness but keeps it within limits. Movements like the Chicago school that pretend to reinvent the wheel with new thinking are by this view a scam. As J.K. Galbraith said: "the problem with their ideas is that they have been tried."
The Rev Kev , November 1, 2019 at 8:06 pm
My small brain got stuck on your reference to a 'Christian marriage vow'. I was just sitting back and conceiving what a Neoliberal marriage vow would sound like. Probably a cross between a no-liabilities contract and an open-marriage agreement.
Carey , November 1, 2019 at 9:05 pm
"people are selfish"?; or "people can sometimes act selfishly"? I think the latter is the more accurate statement. Appeal to the better side, and more of it will be forthcoming.
Neolib propaganda appeals to trivial, bleak individualism..
Carolinian , November 2, 2019 at 9:14 am
I'm not sure historic left attempts to appeal to "the better angels of our nature" have really moved the ball much. It took the Great Depression to give us a New Deal and WW2 to give Britain the NHS and the India its freedom. I'd say events are in the saddle far more than ideas.
Mark Anderlik , November 2, 2019 at 10:58 am
I rather look at it as a "both and" rather than an "either or." If the political groundwork is not done beforehand and during, the opportunity events afford will more likely be squandered.
And borrowing from evolutionary science, this also holds with the "punctuated equilibrium" theory of social/political change. The strain of a changed environment (caused by both events and intentionally created political activity) for a long time creates no visible change to the system, and so appears to fail. But then some combination of events and conscious political work suddenly "punctuates the equilibrium" with the resulting significant if not radical changes.
Chile today can be seen as a great example of this: "Its not 30 Pesos, its 30 Years."
J4Zonian , November 2, 2019 at 4:40 pm
Carolinian, you provide a good illustration of the power of the dominant paradigm to make people believe exactly what the article said–something I've observed more than enough to confirm is true. People act in a wide variety of ways; but many people deny that altruism and compassion are equally "human nature". Both parts of the belief pointed out here–believing other people are selfish and that we're not–are explained by projection acting in concert with the other parts of this phenomenon. Even though it's flawed because it's only a political and not a psychological explanation, It's a good start toward understanding.
"You and I are so deeply acculturated to the idea of "self" and organization and species that it is hard to believe that man [sic] might view his [sic] relations with the environment in any other way than the way which I have rather unfairly blamed upon the nineteenth-century evolutionists."
Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, p 483-4
This is part of a longer quote that's been important to me my whole life. Worth looking up. Bateson called this a mistake in epistemology–also, informally, his definition of evil.
"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it."
― Frédéric Bastiat
Doesn't mean it's genetic. In fact, I'm pretty sure it means it's not.
Capital fn 4 , November 1, 2019 at 1:11 pm
The desire for justice is the constant.
The Iron Lady once proclaimed, slightly sinisterly: "Economics is the method. The object is to change the soul." She meant that British people had to rediscover the virtue of traditional values such as hard work and thrift. The "something for nothing" society was over.
But the idea that the Thatcher era re-established the link between virtuous effort and just reward has been effectively destroyed by the spectacle of bankers driving their institutions into bankruptcy while being rewarded with million-pound bonuses and munificent pensions.
The dual-truth approach of the Neoliberal Thought Collective (thanks, Mirowski) has been more adept at manipulating narratives so the masses are still outraged by individuals getting undeserved social benefits rather than elites vacuuming up common resources. Thanks to the Thatcher-Reagan revolution, we have ended up with socialism for the rich, and everyone else at the mercy of 'markets'.
Pretending that there are not problems with free riders is naive and it goes against people's concern with justice. Acknowledging free riders on all levels with institutions that can constantly pursue equity is the solution.
Anarcissie , November 2, 2019 at 10:09 am
At some points in life, everyone is a free rider. As for the hard workers, many of them are doing destructive things which the less hard-working people will have to suffer under and compensate for. (Neo)liberalism and capitalism are a coherent system of illusions of virtue which rest on domination, exploitation, extraction, and propaganda. Stoking of resentment (as of free riders, the poor, the losers, foreigners, and so on) is one of the ways those who enjoy it keep it going.
Capital fn. 4 , November 1, 2019 at 1:16 pm
The desire for justice is the constant.
The Iron Lady once proclaimed, slightly sinisterly: "Economics is the method. The object is to change the soul." She meant that British people had to rediscover the virtue of traditional values such as hard work and thrift. The "something for nothing" society was over.
But the idea that the Thatcher era re-established the link between virtuous effort and just reward has been effectively destroyed by the spectacle of bankers driving their institutions into bankruptcy while being rewarded with million-pound bonuses and munificent pensions.
The dual-truth approach of the Neoliberal Thought Collective (thanks, Mirowski) has been more adept at manipulating narratives so the masses are still outraged by individuals getting undeserved social benefits rather than elites vacuuming up common resources. Thanks to the Thatcher-Reagan revolution, we have ended up with socialism for the rich, and everyone else at the mercy of 'markets'.
Pretending that there are not problems with free riders is naive and it goes against people's concern with justice. Acknowledging free riders on all levels with institutions that can constantly pursue equity is the solution.
Synoia , November 2, 2019 at 12:58 pm
The Iron Lady had a agenda to break the labor movement in the UK.
What she did not understand is Management gets the Union (Behavior) it deserves. If there is strife in the workplace, as there was in abundance in the UK at that time, the problem is the Management, (and the UK class structure) not the workers.
As I found out when I left University.
Thatcher set out to break the solidarity of the Labor movement, and used the neo-liberal tool of selfishness to achieve success, unfortunately,
The UK's poor management practices, (The Working Class can kiss my arse) and complete inability to form teams of "Management and Workers" was, IMHO, is the foundation of today's Brexit nightmare, a foundation based on the British Class Structure.
And exploited, as it ever was, to achieve ends which do not benefit workers in any manner.
The Historian , November 1, 2019 at 1:43 pm
The left needs to acknowledge that aspects of the neoliberal agenda have been overwhelmingly popular: it has successfully tapped into people's instincts about the kind of life they want to lead, and wrapped these instincts up in a compelling narrative about how we should see ourselves and other people.
Sigh, no this is not true. This author is making the mistake that everyone is like the top 5% and that just is not so. Perhaps she should get out of her personal echo chamber and talk to common people.
In my travels I have been to every state and every major city, and I have worked with just about every class of people, except of course the ultra wealthy and ultra powerful – they have people to protect them from the great unwashed like me – and it didn't take me long to notice that the elite are different from the rest of us but I could never explain exactly why. After I retired, I started studying and I've examined everything from Adam Smith, to Hobbes, to Kant, to Durkheim, to Marx, to Ayn Rand, to tons of histories and anthropologies of various peoples, to you name it and I've come to the conclusion that most of us are not neoliberal and do not want what the top 5% want.
Most people are not overly competitive and most do not seek self-interest only. That is what allows us to live in cities, to drive on our roadways, to form groups that seek to improve conditions for the least of us. It is what allows soldiers to protect each other on the battlefield when it would be in their self interest to protect themselves. It is what allowed people in Europe to risk their own lives to save Jews. And it is also what allows people to live under the worst dictators without rebelling. Of course we all want more but we have limits on what we will do to get that more – the wealthy and powerful seem to have no limits. For instance, most of us won't screw over our co-workers to make ourselves look better, although some will. Most of us won't turn on our best friends even when it would be to our advantage to do so, although some will. Most of us won't abandon those we care about, even when it means severe financial damage to us, although some will.
For lack of a better description, I call what the 5% have the greed gene – a gene that allows them to give up empathy and compassion and basic morality – what some of us call fairness – in the search for personal gain. I don't think it is necessarily genetic but there is something in their makeup that cause them to have more than the average self interest. And because most humans are more cooperative than they are competitive, most humans just allow these people to go after what they want and don't stand in their way, even though by stopping them, they could make their own lives better.
Most history and economics are theories and stories told by the rich and powerful to justify their behavior. I think it is a big mistake to attribute that behavior to the mass of humanity. Archeology is beginning to look more at how average people lived instead of seeking out only the riches deposited by the elite, and historians are starting to look at the other side of history – average people – to see what life was really like for them, and I think we are seeing that what the rulers wanted was never what their people wanted. It is beginning to appear obvious that 95% of the people just wanted to live in their communities safely, to have about what everyone else around them had, and to enjoy the simple pleasures of shelter, enough food, and warm companionship.
I'm also wondering why the 5% think that all of us want exactly what they want. Do they really think that they are somehow being smarter or more competent got them there while 95% of the population – the rest of us – failed?
At this point, I know my theory is half-baked – I definitely need to do more research, but nothing I have found yet convinces me that there isn't some real basic difference between those who aspire to power and wealth and the rest of us.
Foy , November 1, 2019 at 5:09 pm
" ..and I've come to the conclusion that most of us are not neoliberal and do not want what the top 5% want. Most people are not overly competitive and most do not seek self-interest only. That is what allows us to live in cities, to drive on our roadways, to form groups that seek to improve conditions for the least of us. It is what allows soldiers to protect each other on the battlefield when it would be in their self interest to protect themselves. "
I really liked your comment Historian. Thanks for posting. That's what I've felt in my gut for a while, that the top 5% and the establishment are operating under a different mindset, that the majority of people don't want a competitive, dog eat dog, self interest world.
SKM , November 1, 2019 at 5:52 pm
me too, great observation and well put. Made me feel better too! Heartfelt thanks
Mo's Bike Shop , November 1, 2019 at 8:00 pm
I agree with Foy Johnson. I've been reading up on Ancient Greece and realizing all the time that 'teh Greeks' are maybe only about thirty percent of the people in Greece. Most of that history is how Greeks were taking advantage of each other with little mention of the majority of the population. Pelasgians? Yeah, they came from serpents teeth, the end.
I think this is a problem from the Bronze Age that we have not properly addressed.
Mystery Cycles are a nice reminder that people were having fun on their own.
Carey , November 1, 2019 at 5:15 pm
Thanks very much for this comment, Historian.
deplorado , November 1, 2019 at 5:22 pm
I have more or less the same view. I think the author's statement about neoliberalism tapping into what type of life people want to lead is untenable. Besides instinct (are we all 4-year olds?), what people want is also very much socially constructed. And what people do is also very much socially coerced.
One anecdote: years ago, during a volunteer drive at work, I worked side by side with the company's CEO (company was ~1200 headcount, ~.5bn revenue) sorting canned goods. The guy was doing it like he was in a competition. So much so that he often blocked me when I had to place something on the shelves, and took a lot of space in the lineup around himself while swinging his large-ish body and arms, and wouldn't stop talking. To me, this was very rude and inconsiderate, and showed a repulsive level of disregard to others. This kind of behavior at such an event, besides being unpleasant to be around, was likely also making work for the others in the lineup less efficient. Had I or anyone else behaved like him, we would have had a good amount of awkwardness or even a conflict.
What I don't get is, how does he and others get away with it? My guess is, people don't want a conflict. I didn't want a conflict and said nothing to that CEO. Not because I am not competitive, but because I didn't want an ugly social situation (we said 'excuse me' and 'sorry' enough, I just didn't think it would go over well to ask him to stop being obnoxious and dominant for no reason). He obviously didn't care or was unaware – or actually, I think he was behaving that way as a tactical habit. And I didn't feel I had the authority to impose a different order.
So, in the end, it's about power – power relations and knowing what to do about it.
Foy , November 1, 2019 at 7:43 pm
Yep, I think you've nailed it there deplorado, types like your CEO don't care at all and/or are socially unaware, and is a tactical habit that they have found has worked for them in the past and is now ingrained. It is a power relation and our current world unfortunately is now designed and made to suit people like that. And each day the world incrementally moves a little bit more in their direction with inertia like a glacier. Its going to take something big to turn it around
Jeremy Grimm , November 1, 2019 at 6:49 pm
I too believe "most of us are not neoliberal". But if so, how did we end up with the kind of Corporate Cartels, Government Agencies and Organizations that currently prey upon Humankind? This post greatly oversimplifies the mechanisms and dynamics of Neoliberalism, and other varieties of exploitation of the many by the few. This post risks a mocking tie to Identity Politics. What traits of Humankind give truth to Goebbels' claims?
There definitely is "some real basic difference between those who aspire to power and wealth and the rest of us" -- but the question you should ask next is why the rest of us Hobbits blindly follow and help the Saurons among us. Why do so many of us do exactly what we're told? How is it that constant repetition of the Neoliberal identity concepts over our media can so effectively ensnare the thinking of so many?
Foy , November 1, 2019 at 7:47 pm
Maybe it's something similar to Milgram's Experiment (the movie the Experimenter about Milgram was on last night – worth watching and good acting by Peter Sarsgaard, my kind of indie film), the outcome is just not what would normally be expected, people bow to authority, against their own beliefs and interests, and others interests, even though they have choice. The Hobbits followed blindly in that experiment, the exact opposite outcome as to what was predicted by the all the psychology experts beforehand.
Mo's Bike Shop , November 1, 2019 at 8:12 pm
people bow to authority , against their own beliefs and interests, and others interests, even though they have choice
'Don't Make Waves' is a fundamentally useful value that lets us all swim along. This can be manipulated. If everyone is worried about Reds Under the Beds or recycling, you go along to get along.
Some people somersault to Authority is how I'd put it.
Foy , November 1, 2019 at 11:17 pm
Yep, don't mind how you put that Mo, good word somersault.
One of the amusing tests Milgram did was to have people go into the lift but all face the back of the lift instead of the doors and see what happens when the next person got in. Sure enough, with the next person would get in, face the front, look around with some confusion at everyone else and then slowly turn and face the back. Don't Make Waves its instinctive to let us all swim along as you said.
And 'some people' is correct. It was actually the majority, 65%, who followed directions against their own will and preferred choice in his original experiment.
susan the Other , November 1, 2019 at 8:07 pm
thank you, historian
The Rev Kev , November 1, 2019 at 8:14 pm
That's a pretty damn good comment that, Historian. Lots to unpick. It reminded me too of something that John Wyndham once said. He wrote how about 95% of us wanted to live in peace and comfort but that the other 5% were always considering their chances if they started something. He went on to say that it was the introduction of nuclear weapons that made nobody's chances of looking good which explains why the lack of a new major war since WW2.
Mr grumpy , November 1, 2019 at 9:56 pm
Good comment. My view is that it all boils down to the sociopathic personality disorder. Sociopathy runs on a continuum, and we all exhibit some of its tendencies. At the highest end you get serial killers and titans of industry, like the guy sorting cans in another comment. I believe all religions and theories of ethical behavior began as attempts to reign in the sociopaths by those of us much lower on the continuum. Neoliberalism starts by saying the sociopaths are the norm, turning the usual moral and ethical universe upside down.
Janie , November 1, 2019 at 11:59 pm
Your theory is not half-baked; it's spot-on. If you're not the whatever it takes, end justifies the means type, you are not likely to rise to the top in the corporate world. The cream rises to the top happens only in the dairy.
Grebo , November 2, 2019 at 12:25 am
Your 5% would correspond to Altemeyer's "social dominators". Unfortunately only 75% want a simple, peaceful life. 20% are looking for a social dominator to follow. It's psychological.
Kristin Lee , November 2, 2019 at 5:21 am
Excellent comment. Take into consideration the probability that the majority of the top 5% have come from a privileged background, ensconced in a culture of entitlement. This "greed" gene is as natural to them as breathing. Consider also that many wealthy families have maintained their status through centuries of calculated loveless marriages, empathy and other human traits gene-pooled out of existence. The cruel paradox is that for the sake of riches, they have lost their richness in character.
Davenport , November 2, 2019 at 7:57 am
This really chimes with me. Thanks so much for putting it down in words.
I often encounter people insisting humans are selfish. It is quite frustrating that this more predominant side of our human nature seems to become invisible against the propaganda.
Henry Moon Pie , November 1, 2019 at 1:49 pm
I'm barely into Jeremy Lent's The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity's Search for Meaning , but he's already laid down his central thesis in fairly complete form. Humans are both competitive and cooperative, he says, which should surprise no one. What I found interesting is that the competitive side comes from primates who are more intensely competitive than humans. The cooperation developed after the human/primate split and was enabled by "mimetic culture," communication skills that importantly presuppose that the object(s) of communication are intentional creatures like oneself but with a somewhat different perspective. Example: Human #1 gestures to Human #2 to come take a closer look at whatever Human #1 is examining. This ability to cooperate even came with strategies to prevent a would-be dominant male from taking over a hunter-gatherer band:
[I]n virtually all hunter-gatherer societies, people join together to prevent powerful males from taking too much control, using collective behaviors such as ridicule, group disobedience, and, ultimately, extreme sanctions such as assassination [This kind of society is called] a "reverse dominant hierarchy because rather than being dominated, the rank and file manages to dominate.
SKM , November 1, 2019 at 6:02 pm
yes, this chimes in with what I`ve been thinking for years after puzzling about why society everywhere ends up as it does – ie the fact that in small groups as we evolved to live in, we would keep a check on extreme selfish behaviour of dominant individuals. In complex societies (modern) most of us become "the masses" visible in some way to the system but the top echelons are not visible to us and are able to amass power and wealth out of all control by the rest of us. And yes, you do have to have a very strange drive (relatively rare, ?pathological) to want power and wealth at everyone else`s expense – to live in a cruel world many of whose problems could be solved (or not arise in the first place) by redistributing some of your wealth to little palpable cost to you
Mo's Bike Shop , November 1, 2019 at 8:37 pm
Africa over a few million years of Ice Ages seems to have presented our ancestors with the possibility of reproducing only if you can get along in close proximity to other Hominids without killing each other. I find that a compelling explanation for our stupidly big brains; it's one thing to be a smart monkey, it's a whole different solution needed to model what is going on in the brain of another smart monkey.
And communications: How could spoken language have developed without levels of trust and interdependence that maybe we can not appreciate today? We have a word for 'Blue' nowadays, we take it for granted.
Anarcissie , November 2, 2019 at 10:18 am
There is a theory that language originated between mothers and their immediate progeny, between whom either trust and benevolence exist, or the weaker dies. The mother's chances for survival and reproduction are enhanced if she can get her progeny to, so to speak, help out around the house; how to do that is extended by symbolism and syntax as well as example.
chuck roast , November 1, 2019 at 2:00 pm
I recall the first day of Econ 102 when the Prof. (damned few adjuncts in those days) said, "Everything we discuss hereafter will be built on the concept of scarcity." Being a contrary buggah' I thought, "The air I'm breathing isn't scarce." I soon got with the program supply and demand upward sloping, downward sloping, horizontal, vertical and who could forget kinked. My personal favorite was the Giffen Good a high priced inferior product. Kind of like Micro Economics.
Maybe we could begin our new Neo-Economics 102 with the proviso, "Everything we discuss hereafter will be based on abundance." I'm gonna' like this class!
Off The Street , November 1, 2019 at 2:27 pm
Neo-lib Econ does a great job at framing issues so that people don't notice what is excluded. Think of them as proto-Dark Patternists.
If you are bored and slightly mischievous, ask an economist how theory addresses cooperation, then assume a can opener and crack open a twist-top beer.
jrs , November 1, 2019 at 3:11 pm
Isn't one of the problems that it's NOT really built on the concept of scarcity? Most natural resources run into scarcity eventually. I don't know about the air one breaths, certainly fish species are finding reduced oxygen in the oceans due to climate change.
shtove , November 2, 2019 at 3:45 am
Yes, I suppose people in cities in south-east Asia wearing soot-exclusion masks have a different take on the abundance of air.
Jeremy Grimm , November 1, 2019 at 6:57 pm
If you would like that class on abundance you would love the Church of Abundant Life which pushes Jesus as the way to Abundant Life and they mean that literally. Abundant as in Jesus wants you to have lots of stuff -- so believe.
I believe Neoliberalism is a much more complex animal than an economic theory. Mirowski builds a plausible argument that Neoliberalism is a theory of epistemology. The Market discovers Truth.
Mo's Bike Shop , November 1, 2019 at 8:53 pm
"The air I'm breathing isn't scarce."
Had a lovely Physics class where the first homework problem boiled down to "How often do you inhale a atom (O or N) from Julius Caesar's last breath". Great little introduction to the power and pratfalls of 'estimations by Physicists' that xkcd likes to poke at. Back then we used the CRC Handbook to figure it out.
Anyway, every second breath you can be sure you have shared an atom with Caesar.
Susan the Other , November 1, 2019 at 2:08 pm
I don't think Maggie T. or uncle Milty were thinking about the future at all. Neither one would have openly promoted turfing quadriplegic 70-year-olds out of the rest home. That's how short sighted they both were. And stupid. We really need to call a spade a spade here. Milty doesn't even qualify as an economist – unless economics is the study of the destruction of society. But neoliberalism had been in the wings already, by the 80s, for 40 years. Nobody took into account that utility-maximizing capitalism always kills the goose (except Lenin maybe) – because it's too expensive to feed her. The neoliberals were just plain dumb. The question really is why should we stand for another day of neoliberal nonsense? Albeit Macht Frei Light? No thanks. I think they've got the question backwards – it shouldn't be how should "we" reconstruct our image now – but what is the obligation of all the failed neoliberal extractors to right society now? I'd just as soon stand back and watch the dam burst as help the neolibs out with a little here and a little there. They'll just keep taking as long as we give. This isn't as annoying as Macron's "cake" comment, but it's close. I did like the last 2 paragraphs however.
Susan the Other , November 1, 2019 at 2:42 pm
Here's a sidebar. A universal one. There is an anomaly in the universe – there is not enough accumulated entropy. It screws up theoretical physics because the missing entropy needs to be accounted for for their theories to work to their satisfaction. It seems to be a phenomenon of evolution. Thus it was recently discovered by a physics grad student that entropy by heat dissipation is the "creator" of life. Life almost spontaneously erupts where it can take advantage of an energy source. And, we are assuming, life thereby slows entropy down. There has to be another similar process among the stars and the planets as well, an evolutionary conservation of energy. So evolution takes on more serious meaning. From the quantum to the infinite. And society – it's right in the middle. So it isn't too unreasonable to think that society is extremely adaptable, taking advantage of any energy input, and it seems true to think that. Which means that society can go long for its goal before it breaks down. But in the end it will be enervated by lack of "resources" unless it can self perpetuate in an evolving manner. That's one good reason to say goodbye to looney ideologies.
djrichard , November 1, 2019 at 3:05 pm
For a view of humanity that is not as selfish, recommend "The Gift" by Marcel Mauss. Basically an anthropological study of reciprocal gift giving in the oceanic potlatch societies. My take is that the idea was to re-visit relationships, as giving a gift basically forces a response in the receiver, "Am I going to respond in kind, perhaps even upping what is required? Or am I going to find that this relationship simply isn't worth it and walk away?"
Kind of like being in a marriage. The idea isn't to walk away, the idea is you constantly need to re-enforce it. Except with the potlatch it was like extending that concept to the clan at large, so that all the relationships within the clan were being re-enforced.
Amfortas the hippie , November 1, 2019 at 3:26 pm
"Kind of like being in a marriage. The idea isn't to walk away, the idea is you constantly need to re-enforce it. "
we, the people, abdicated.
as for humans being selfish by default i used to believe this, due to my own experiences as an outlaw and pariah.
until wife's cancer and the overwhelming response of this little town,in the "reddest" congressional district in texas.
locally, the most selfish people i know are the one's who own everything buying up their neighbor's businesses when things get tough.
they are also the most smug and pretentious(local dems, in their hillforts come a close second in this regard) and most likely to be gop true believers.
small town and all everybody literally knows everybody, and their extended family and those connections are intertwined beyond belief.
wife's related, in some way, to maybe half the town.
that matters and explains my experience as an outcast: i never belonged to anything like that and such fellowfeeling and support is hard for people to extend to a stranger.
That's what's gonna be the hard sell, here, in undoing the hyperindividualist, "there is no such thing as society" nonsense.
Mo's Bike Shop , November 1, 2019 at 9:23 pm
I grew up until Junior High in a fishing village on the Maine coast that had been around for well over a hundred years and had a population of under 1000. By the time I was 8 I realized there was no point in being extreme with anyone, because they were likely to be around for the rest of your life.
I fell in love with sun and warmth when we moved away and unfortunately it's all gentrified now, by the 90s even a tar paper shack could be sold for a few acres up in Lamoine.
djrichard , November 1, 2019 at 10:49 pm
Yep, small towns are about as close as we get to clans nowadays. And just like clans, you don't want to be on the outside. Still when you marry in, it would be nice if the town would make you feel more a member like a clan should / would. ;-)
But outside of the small town and extended families I think that's it. We've been atomized into our nuclear families. Except for the ruling class – I think they have this quid pro quo gift giving relationship building figured out quite nicely. Basically they've formed their own small town – at the top.
By the way, I understand Mauss was an influence on Baudrillard. I could almost imagine Baudrillard thinking how the reality of the potlatch societies was so different than the reality of western societies.
Anarcissie , November 2, 2019 at 10:29 am
That's the big problem I see in this discussion. We know, or at least think we know, what's wrong, and what would be better; but we can't get other people to want to do something about it, even those who nominally agree with us. And I sure don't have the answer.
David , November 1, 2019 at 3:07 pm
Neoliberalism, in its early guise at least, was popular because politicians like Thatcher effectively promised something for nothing. Low taxes but still decent public services. The right to buy your council house without putting your parents' council house house in jeopardy. Enjoying private medical care as a perk of your job whilst still finding the NHS there when you were old and sick. And so on. By the time the penny dropped it was too late.
If the Left is serious about challenging neoliberalism, it has to return to championing the virtues of community, which it abandoned decades ago in favour of extreme liberal individualism Unfortunately, community is an idea which has either been appropriated by various identity warriors (thus fracturing society further) or dismissed (as this author does) because it's been taken up by the Right. A Left which explained that when everybody cooperates everybody benefits, but that when everybody fights everybody loses, would sweep the board.
deplorado , November 1, 2019 at 8:30 pm
>>Neoliberalism, in its early guise at least, was popular because politicians like Thatcher effectively promised something for nothing.
This. That's it.
Thank you David, for always providing among the most grounded and illuminating comments here.
Mo's Bike Shop , November 1, 2019 at 9:54 pm
If the Left is serious about challenging neoliberalism, it has to return to championing the virtues of community
I agree. The tenuous suggestions offered by the article are top down. But top-down universal solutions can remove the impetus for local organization. Which enervates the power of communities. And then you can't do anything about austerity, because your Rep loves the PowerPoints and has so much money from the Real Estate community.
Before one experiences the virtue, or power, of a community, one has to go through the pain in the ass of contributing to a community. It has to be rewarding process or it won't happen.
No idea how to do that from the top.
Capital fn. 4 , November 1, 2019 at 3:12 pm
one more attempt to get past Skynet
PKMKII , November 1, 2019 at 4:05 pm
Anyone have a link to the studies mentioned about how Econ majors were the only ones to act selfishly in the game scenarios?
Rod , November 2, 2019 at 3:30 pm
this may not get the ECON majors specifically but this will raise your eyebrows
this is next gen coming up here
Summer , November 1, 2019 at 5:33 pm
"An example of how this plays out can be seen in academic studies showing that, in game scenarios presenting the opportunity to free-ride on the efforts of others, only economics students behaved as economic models predicted: all other groups were much more likely to pool their resources. Having been trained to believe that others are likely to be selfish, economists believe that their best course of action is to be selfish as well. The rest of us still have the instinct to cooperate. Perhaps this shouldn't be surprising: after all, as George Monbiot argues in 'Out of the Wreckage', cooperation is our species' main survival strategy."
Since so many people believe their job is their identity, would be interssting to know what the job training or jobs were of the "others."
Summer , November 1, 2019 at 5:35 pm
"Ultimately, they can't escape the fact that most people would like to spend less time at work."
And that is a key point!
Carey , November 1, 2019 at 7:39 pm
>so many people believe their job is their identity
Only because the social sphere, which in the medium and long term we *all depend
on* to survive, has been debased by 24/7/365 neolib talking points, and their purposeful economic constrictions..
Jeremy Grimm , November 1, 2019 at 7:13 pm
How many people have spent their lives working for the "greater good"? How many work building some transcendental edifice from which the only satisfaction they could take away was knowing they performed a part of its construction? The idea that Humankind is selfish and greedy is a projection promoted by the small part of Humankind that really is selfish and greedy.
Sound of the Suburbs , November 2, 2019 at 4:59 am
Let's work out the basics, this will help.
Where does wealth creation actually occur in the capitalist system?
Nations can do well with the trade, as we have seen with China and Germany, but this comes at other nation's expense.
In a successful global economy, trade should be balanced over the long term.
Keynes was aware of this in the past, and realised surplus nations were just as much of a problem as deficit nations in a successful global economy with a long term future.
Zimababwe has lots of money and it's not doing them any favours. Too much money causes hyper-inflation.
You can just print money, the real wealth in the economy lies somewhere else.
Alan Greenspan tells Paul Ryan the Government can create all the money it wants and there is no need to save for pensions.
What matters is whether the goods and services are there for them to buy with that money. That's where the real wealth in the economy lies.
Money has no intrinsic value; its value comes from what it can buy.
Zimbabwe has too much money in the economy relative to the goods and services available in that economy. You need wheelbarrows full of money to buy anything.
It's that GDP thing that measures real wealth creation.
GDP does not include the transfer of existing assets like stocks and real estate.
Inflated asset prices are just inflated asset prices and this can disappear all too easily as we keep seeing in real estate.
1990s – UK, US (S&L), Canada (Toronto), Scandinavia, Japan
2000s – Iceland, Dubai, US (2008)
2010s – Ireland, Spain, Greece
Get ready to put Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden and Hong Kong on the list.
They invented the GDP measure in the 1930s, to track real wealth creation in the economy after they had seen all that apparent wealth in the US stock market disappear in 1929.
There was nothing really there.
Now, we can move on further.
The UK's national income accountants can't work out how finance adds any value (creates wealth).
Banks create money from bank loans, not wealth.
We have mistaken inflating asset prices for creating wealth.
How can banks create wealth with bank credit?
The UK used to know before 1980.
Before 1980 – banks lending into the right places that result in GDP growth (business and industry, creating new products and services in the economy)
After 1980 – banks lending into the wrong places that don't result in GDP growth (real estate and financial speculation)
What happened in 1979?
The UK eliminated corset controls on banking in 1979 and the banks invaded the mortgage market and this is where the problem starts.
Real estate does make the economy boom, but there is no real wealth creation in inflating asset prices.
What is really happening?
When you use bank credit to inflate asset prices, the debt rises much faster than GDP.
The bank credit of mortgages is bringing future spending power into today.
Bank loans create money and the repayment of debt to banks destroys money.
In the real estate boom, new money pours into the economy from mortgage lending, fuelling a boom in the real economy, which feeds back into the real estate boom.
The Japanese real estate boom of the 1980s was so excessive the people even commented on the "excess money", and everyone enjoyed spending that excess money in the economy.
In the real estate bust, debt repayments to banks destroy money and push the economy towards debt deflation (a shrinking money supply).
Japan has been like this for thirty years as they pay back the debts from their 1980s excesses, it's called a balance sheet recession.
Bank loans effectively take future spending and bring it in today.
Jam today, penury tomorrow.
Using future spending power to inflate asset prices today is a mistake that comes from thinking inflating asset prices creates real wealth.
GDP measures real wealth creation.
Sound of the Suburbs , November 2, 2019 at 5:37 am
Did you know capitalism works best with low housing costs and a low cost of living?
Probably not, you are in the parallel universe of neoliberalism.
William White (BIS, OECD) talks about how economics really changed over one hundred years ago as classical economics was replaced by neoclassical economics.
He thinks we have been on the wrong path for one hundred years.
Some very important things got lost 100 years ago.
The Mont Pelerin society developed the parallel universe of neoliberalism from neoclassical economics.
The CBI (Confederation of British Industry) saw the light once they discovered my equation (Michael Hudson condensed)
Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)
"Wait a minute, employees get their money from wages and businesses have to cover high housing costs in wages reducing profit" the CBI
It's all about the economy, and UK businesses will benefit from low housing costs.
High housing costs push up wages and reduce profits.
Off-shore to make more profit, you can pay lower wages where the cost of living is lower, e.g. China; the US and UK are rubbish.
Sound of the Suburbs , November 2, 2019 at 8:11 am
What was Keynes really doing?
Creating a low cost, internationally competitive economy.
Keynes's ideas were a solution to the problems of the Great Depression, but we forgot why he did, what he did.
They tried running an economy on debt in the 1920s.
The 1920s roared with debt based consumption and speculation until it all tipped over into the debt deflation of the Great Depression. No one realised the problems that were building up in the economy as they used an economics that doesn't look at private debt, neoclassical economics.
Keynes looked at the problems of the debt based economy and came up with redistribution through taxation to keep the system running in a sustainable way and he dealt with the inherent inequality capitalism produced.
The cost of living = housing costs + healthcare costs + student loan costs + food + other costs of living
Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)
High progressive taxation funded a low cost economy with subsidised housing, healthcare, education and other services to give more disposable income on lower wages.
Employers and employees both win with a low cost of living.
Keynesian ideas went wrong in the 1970s and everyone had forgotten the problems of neoclassical economics that he originally solved.
Sound of the Suburbs , November 2, 2019 at 8:44 am
Economics, the time line:
Classical economics – observations and deductions from the world of small state, unregulated capitalism around them
Neoclassical economics – Where did that come from?
Keynesian economics – observations, deductions and fixes for the problems of neoclassical economics
Neoclassical economics – Why is that back?
We thought small state, unregulated capitalism was something that it wasn't as our ideas came from neoclassical economics, which has little connection with classical economics.
On bringing it back again, we had lost everything that had been learned in the 1930s, by which time it had already demonstrated its flaws.
Kristin Lee , November 2, 2019 at 5:54 am
Ultimately, neoliberalism is about privatization and ownership of everything. This is why it's so important to preserve the Common Good, the vital resources and services that support earthly existence. The past 40 years has shown what happens when this falls out of balance. Our value system turns upside down – the sick become more valuable than the healthy, a violent society provides for the prisons-for-profit system and so on. The biggest upset has been the privatization of money creation.
This latest secret bank bailout (not really secret as Dodd-Frank has allowed banks to siphon newly created money from the Fed without Congressional approval. No more public embarrassment that Hank Paulson had to endure.) They are now up to $690 billion PER WEEK while the media snoozes. PPPs enjoy the benefits of public money to seed projects for private gain. The rest of us have to rely on predatory lenders, sinking us to the point of Peak Debt, where private debt can never be paid off and must be cancelled, as it should be because it never should've happened in the first place.
"Neoliberalism, which has influenced so much of the conventional thinking about money, is adamant that the public sector must not create ('print') money, and so public expenditure must be limited to what the market can 'afford.' Money, in this view, is a limited resource that the market ensures will be used efficiently. Is public money, then, a pipe dream? No, for the financial crisis and the response to it undermined this neoliberal dogma. The financial sector mismanaged its role as a source of money so badly that the state had to step in and provide unlimited monetary backing to rescue it. The creation of money out of thin air by public authorities revealed the inherently political nature of money. But why, then, was the power to create money ceded to the private sector in the first place -- and with so little public accountability? And if money can be created to serve the banks, why not to benefit people and the environment? "
Paul Hirshman , November 2, 2019 at 3:33 pm
The Commons should have a shot at revival as the upcoming generation's desires are outstripped by their incomes and savings. The conflict between desires and reality may give a boost to alternate notions of what's desirable. Add to this the submersion of cities under the waves of our expanding oceans, and one gets yet another concrete reason to think that individual ownership isn't up to the job of inspiring young people. A Commons of some sort will be needed to undo the cost of generations of unpaid negative externalities. Fossil fuels, constant warfare, income inequality, stupendous idiocy of kleptocratic government these baked in qualities of neo-liberalism are creating a very large, dissatisfied, and educated population just about anywhere one looks. Suburbia will be on fire, as well as underwater. Farmlands will be parched, drenched, and exhausted. Where will Larry Summers dump the garbage?
Nov 01, 2019 | crookedtimber.org
Hidari 11.01.19 at 11:42 am'It will be seen that, as used, the word 'Fascism' is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else .
In certain kinds of writing it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning .. When one critic writes, 'The outstanding feature of Mr. X's work is its living quality', while another writes, 'The immediately striking thing about Mr. X's work is its peculiar deadness', the reader accepts this as a simple difference of opinion.
If words like black and white were involved, instead of the jargon words dead and living, he would see at once that language was being used in an improper way. Many political words are similarly abused.
The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies 'something not desirable' .Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary .' (Orwell).
Oct 22, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
October 22, 2019, 2:09 AM
LGBT Pride poster in Soviet Style ( Design Boom ) I'm reading one of the best books I've ever seen, historian Yuri Slezkine's The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution . It's a massive -- over 1,000 pages -- history of the Bolshevik movement, focusing on the people who lived in a vast apartment building constructed across the Moskva River from the Kremlin, for party elites. In the 1930s, during the purges, it was the most dangerous address in the country. The secret police came for people there all the time.
The book has given me a breakthrough in understanding why so many people who grew up under communism are unnerved by what's going on in the West today, even if they can't all articulate it beyond expressing intense but inchoate anxiety about political correctness. Reading Slezkine , a UC-Berkeley historian, clarifies things immensely. Let me explain as concisely as I can. All of this is going into the book I'm working on, by the way.
In my book, I identify two main factors that make the "soft totalitarianism" we're drifting into different from the hard totalitarianism of the communist years. One is the vastly greater capabilities of surveillance technology, and its penetration into daily life in this current stage of capitalism. The other is the pseudo-religion of Social Justice, the holy trinity of which is Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. The mathematician James Lindsay last year wrote an insightful essay analyzing Social Justice ideology as a kind of postmodern religion ("faith system," he writes). Reading Slezkine on Bolshevism illuminates this with new depth.
To be clear, Social Justice religion is not the same thing as Bolshevism, which conquered a nation and turned it into a charnel house. But the psychological dynamics are so similar that I can understand now why Soviet-bloc emigres feel in their bones that something wicked is coming, and coming fast.
I'm going to give a brief overview of the ideas in this part of Slezkine's book. Slezkine describes the Bolsheviks as "millenarian sectarians preparing for the apocalypse." He gives a short history of apocalyptic sects, which he said began in the Axial Age , the period between the 8th and the 3rd centuries BC that saw parallel developments in civilizations -- Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, Greco-Roman -- that caused a fundamental shift in human consciousness. The Axial Age introduced some concepts that are still with us today, including the idea that history is linear. Religion and philosophical systems of the Axial Age developed a sense of separation from the Real (that is, what is material), and the Ideal (what is transcendent). They also introduced the idea that time would culminate in a final battle between Good and Evil that would result in the End of History and the everlasting reign of Justice. The rich will be conquered, and the poor will triumph.
Slezkine writes at some length about these themes in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), but points out that they also existed in parallel in other religions of the era. The two Abrahamic religions that emerged from Axial Age Judaism -- Christianity and Islam -- modified these same concepts for themselves. The Book of Revelation in the Christian Bible is the standard Western account of the Apocalypse, but not the only one.
In the 16th century, the radical Protestant theologian Thomas Müntzer , leader of an apocalyptic Reformation sect, led an armed revolt against the Catholic Church, Martin Luther, and feudal authority. He and his followers believed the Last Days were upon the world, and that revolutionary violence was necessary to prepare for them.
These movements, says Slezkine, often depend on the virtuous mutually surveilling each other to keep everyone in line. Calvin's Geneva was like this, and had laws prescribing the death penalty for relatively minor violations of its purity code. In the 17th century, the English Puritan movement under
ThomasOliver [the mistake was mine -- RD] Cromwell (the "Puritan Moses") was in this same vein.
The Enlightenment birthed apocalyptic millenarianism without God. Slezkine doesn't mention him, but I want to put in a plug for the book Black Mass by the English political philosopher John Gray, which I wrote about here. Gray is an atheist, but he cannot stand the militant atheism of people like Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens. In the book, Gray writes about how the instinct for utopia, born out of religion, keeps surfacing in the West, even without God. Nothing is more human, he writes, than to be prepared to kill and die to secure meaning in life. More Gray:
Those who demand that religion be exorcised from politics think this can be achieved by excluding traditional faiths from public institutions; but secular creeds are formed from religious concepts, and suppressing religion does not mean it ceases to control thinking and behaviour. Like repressed sexual desire, faith returns, often in grotesque forms, to govern the lives of those who deny it.
Slezkine writes that this same apocalyptic millenarianism erupted in anti-Christian form in the French Revolution. The Jacobins were Enlightenment apocalyptics, believing in the triumph of Reason, Science, and Virtue. And they were proto-Bolsheviks. Robespierre, in a 1794 speech to the National Assembly, praised "virtue, without which terror is destructive; terror, without which virtue is impotent. The Terror is nothing but justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is thus an emanation of virtue."
In 19th century America, millenarianism took more gentle forms, but was still popular. Baptist preacher William Miller prophesied the end of the world in 1843, and reached a national audience with his forecast of doom. It didn't happen, but his work gave rise to the Adventist movements, which are still with us today. Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter-Day Saints faith, was another millenarian -- a more successful one.
Slezkine says that apocalyptic millenarianism in 19th century Europe often took the form of nationalism. Karl Marx advocated German nationalism as the first step in the worldwide communist revolution. Following Hegel, History was Marx's god. Slezkine:
[F]aith in progress is just as basic to modernity as the Second Coming was to Christianity ('progressive' means 'virtuous' and 'change' means 'hope'). 'Totalitarianism' is not a mysterious mutation: it is a memory and a promise; an attempt to keep hope alive.
By "totalitarianism," he means the system by which apocalyptic millenarians enforce the conditions they believe will constitute the New Jerusalem -- the utopia in which their sect believes.
The Marxist faith system prophesied a worldwide conflagration -- Revolution -- that would see the saints (the Proletariat) cleanse the world of the wicked (the Bourgeoisie) and their false religion (Capitalism). The Revolution would establish Communism: a paradise in which the state would wither away, because the cause of man's alienation would have been dealt with. Marx despised religion, but he did not believe that his system was religious at all. It was, he taught, entirely scientific -- thus making Marxism entirely compatible with what Enlightenment-era elites believed was the prime source of authority.
In Russia of the late 19th century, there was a great deal of apocalyptic fervor, and, of course, a number of Marxist and other left-wing revolutionary groups. The Bolsheviks were the most ruthless and disciplined of them all. Slezkine says it doesn't matter whether the faith of the Bolsheviks was really a religion or not. The fact is, it functioned like one. If religion is a set of agreements about sacred realities, though sacred realities believed to be objectively true, and the community organized around those beliefs, then every state on earth is religious. The Bolshevik "faith" united people, focused them around what Slezkine calls "the ultimate conditions of their existence," and told them what they had to do.
For the pre-revolutionary Bolsheviks, the priests and the prophets were their intellectuals, who were "religious about being secular." Writes Slezkine: "A conversion to socialism was a conversion to the intelligentsia, to a fusion of millenarian faith and lifelong learning."
The Bolshevik faith was initially spread among the intellectuals primarily through reading groups. Once you adopted the Marxist faith, everything else in life became illuminated. The intellectuals went into the world to preach religion to the workers. These missionaries, says Slezkine, appealed to and tried to intensify hatred in the hearts of their listeners. They spoke to the moral sense within the common people, and gave them what, if taken in a strictly religious sense, would be called prophetic revelations.
The pre-revolutionary Bolsheviks denounced "Philistines" -- people who are sunk in their everydayness, and lack revolutionary consciousness. It is chilling to read the lines of description they had for people like this. Slezkine calls the Philistines the "stock antipode of the intelligent" -- that is, the kind of person that a member of the intelligentsia saw as his exact opposite. In pre-revolutionary Russia, the intelligentsia saw themselves as a kind of secular priesthood. The way they wrote about their enemies, and the way they rhapsodized about revolution, was utterly fanatical and inhuman. Slezkine:
The revolutionaries were going to prevail because of the sheer power of their hatred. It cleansed the soul and swelled like the flood of the real day.
The "real day" is the day of Apocalypse, when the truth is fully made manifest, and all evil, injustice, and lies are cleansed from the earth. It would come about through "sacred fury." Slezkine quotes Bolshevik memoirs recalling the revolutionary days of 1917-18. Pure ecstasy, like the day of Pentecost in the New Testament.
Slezkine draws this interesting distinction:
Marx and Engels were not utopians – they were prophets. They did not talk about what a perfect system of social order should be and how and why it should be adopted or tested; they knew with absolute certainty that it was coming – right now, all by itself, and thanks to their words and deeds.
The Bolsheviks, however, did have a complex plan for creating utopia. Reading Slezkine, you can't help but be impressed by the power and discipline that Lenin and his lieutenants exercised. He was one of the most evil men who ever lived, Lenin -- Slezkine's accounts of Bolshevik mass murder of class enemies on Lenin's orders make Robespierre's bloodthirstiness seem like amateur hour. But he was a true revolutionary genius.
For young people in pre-revolutionary Russia, being part of these leftist groups "gave one a great sense of purpose, power, and belonging." Note this: one reason for the advance of revolutionary consciousness is that parents, despite depending on the stability of Tsarist autocracy, would not turn away from their radicalized children. Slezkine: "The 'students' were almost always abetted at home while still in school and almost never damned when they became revolutionaries."
Bolshevism in power tried to destroy the traditional family, seeing it as an incubator of capitalism. Slezkine writes about how this form of Bolshevik radicalism had to give way to a more conservative ideology of the family, because it caused problems that Soviet society could not deal with.
In power, Bolsheviks carried out apocalyptic destruction of the old order, including the mass murder of class enemies. I have just now arrived at the point in Slezkine's narrative in which he describes the "Great Disappointment" -- a term (borrowed from the Millerites) for the experience of the New Jerusalem not having arrived as promised. As I understand it, Slezkine will describe the homicidal spasms of the 1930s, under Stalin, as the vengeful Bolshevik reaction to utopia's failure. Utopia can only have failed because its proselytes were weak in faith -- and therefore deserve to be punished for their infidelity.
So, what does this have to do with our own Social Justice Warriors? There are clear parallels. Again, I encourage you to read James Lindsay's analysis of the postmodern faith system of Social Justice for more. I believe that this is what those who lived under communism intuit from the Social Justice Warriors -- I mean, why it frightens them:
Like the early Bolsheviks, the SJWs are radically alienated from society. They regard ordinary people as the intelligents regarded the so-called Philistines: with visceral contempt.
Justice depends on group identity. For Marxists, the line between Good and Evil ran between classes: the Proletariat and the Peasants on one side, the Bourgeoisie on the other. Marxism sees justice as entirely a matter of taking power away from the Bourgeoisie, and giving it to the revolutionary classes. Some in the bourgeoisie acquired revolutionary consciousness, and aided the Revolution.
Similarly, for the SJWs, the line also passes between groups, based on group identity. The Oppressors are whites, males, capitalists, heterosexuals, and Christians. The Oppressed are ethnic minorities, women, anti-capitalists, LGBTs, atheists, and other "marginalized" people. Justice is about taking power from the Oppressors and giving it to the Oppressed. Some among the Oppressors acquire revolutionary consciousness and aid the revolution; they are called "allies," and practice "allyship."
Social Justice Warriors, like the early Bolsheviks, are intellectuals whose gospel is spread by intellectual agitation. It is a gospel that depends on awakening and inspiring hatred in the hearts of those it wishes to induce into revolutionary consciousness. This is why it matters immensely that they have established their base within universities, where they can train those who will be going out to work in society's institutions in ideologized hatred.
SJWs believe that science is on their side, even when their claims are unscientific. They are doing the old post-Enlightenment utopian trick of making essentially religious claims, but claiming that they are objectively true. Quote from a Times story: "We're all born nonbinary. We learn gender."
SJWs are utopians who believe that Progress requires smashing all the old forms for the sake of liberation. After we are freed from the chains that bind us, we will experience a new form of life. From a June 4 New York Times Magazine story on destroying gender binaries :
Our talk shifted again from the past to the future. Jacobs spoke about foreseeing a time when people passing each other on the street wouldn't immediately, unconsciously sort one another into male or female, which even Jacobs reflexively does. "I don't know what genders are going to look like four generations from now," they added, allowing that they might sound utopian, naïve. "I think we're going to perceive each other as people. The classifications we live under will fall by the wayside."
Among the voices of the young, there are echoes and amplifications of Jacobs's optimism, along with the stories of private struggle. "There are as many genders as there are people," Emmy Johnson, a nonbinary employee at Jan Tate's clinic, told me with earnest authority. Johnson was about to sign up for a new dating app that caters to the genderqueer. "Sex is different as a nonbinary person," they said. "You're free of gender roles, and the farther you can get from those scripts, the better sex is going to be." Their tone was more triumphal: the better life is going to be. "The gender boxes are exploding," they declared.
In the case of transgender SJWs, parents can become the greatest advocates for their children, as in pre-revolutionary Russia with the radical youth. A distressed parent of a female-to-male transgender told me that in her child's high school, the pressure on parents from other parents to suppress all doubts about transgenderism was intense. Here, from that same NYT Magazine piece I quote above, is another anecdote:
Kai grew up in the Maryland suburbs outside Washington; both his parents are economists. He came out to them as genderqueer a year and a half ago, and they, as he put it, were willing "to step through the door" he held wide for them, the door into his way of seeing himself. They read a piece of creative writing he gave them, a meditation using Dadaism to explicate the nonsense of either-or. His mother asked if she could buy him new clothes. "Shopping for clothes was something we'd always done," he said. "It was her way of saying, 'I want to keep being part of your life.' That was really stepping through the door. And then, all the nerve-rackingness of shopping in the men's section of a department store and trying on pants and worrying about how people are looking at you and reading your gender, it would have been really hard to do on my own. But my mother was there. Just like when we'd shopped together before. And that made it normal."
Here's an interesting difference: from what I can tell, most SJWs don't have a clearly envisioned utopia. What will the world look like when whiteness is once and for all defeated? When toxic masculinity has been fully vanquished? And so forth. They don't know; all they know is that these things must come to pass, and will come to pass. We have to first destroy the old world and its corrupt structures. From the point of view of someone who stands to be smashed by these revolutionaries, it doesn't really matter whether or not they have a plan for what to do after you're overthrown.
Here's another interesting difference, and an important one: SJWs may want to destroy the oppressive practices, but unlike the Bolsheviks, they don't want to destroy the institutions of society. Rather, they want to conquer them and administer them . The religion of Social Justice has already conquered the university, as James Lindsay points out, and is moving quickly into other institutions: media (the NYT is its Pravda ), law, tech, entertainment, and corporate America. The Social Justice faith system can be easily adapted by the institutions of bourgeois capitalism -- a fact that conceals its radicalism.
The people who have lived in societies suffused with this kind of ideology -- emigres from Soviet-bloc countries -- can see through the veil. With this new book I'm working on, I'm going to do my best to help readers see through their eyes. Meanwhile, if you are really interested in the Russian Revolution, I strongly urge you to read The House Of Government -- all 1,128 pages of it. Yuri Slezkine is a masterful storyteller. It reads like a novel.
I cannot believe you, Rod. You cannot keep this up. You post twice as much as anyone else at AC, even more than the manic Trump-hating machine (I mention NO names). Go to bed, please. The only reason I'm still up (just an hour ahead of LA) is...well...never mind.Selvar • 13 hours ago
...but reading this (just getting started) reminds me that Bulgakov, author of The Master and Margarita was, allegedly, protected by Stalin, even though Stalin knew he was writing it. Maybe your friend, Prufrock, mentioned that recently. Either he or someone else I follow observed that even evil men respect great writers sometimes.The main difference between the Bolsheviks and SJWs is gender and class.C. L. H. Daniels Selvar • 5 hours ago
The Bolsheviks may have been led by intellectuals, but they did have genuine support among much of the industrial working class, especially the workers of Petrograd, the Latvian riflemen, as well as ethnic minorities in the Russian empire. The fact that they were utterly hated by much of the peasantry for their grain collection and collectivization efforts should not obscure that they did have a base of support within the proletariat.
The Bolsheviks were also an (almost) entirely male group. SJWs on the other hand are disproportionately female, sometimes radically so. Both of these factors mean that the potential of SJWs for mass revolutionary violence is probably relatively low. Of course, they can still harm society in other ways, but I doubt we will ever see an SJW version of Stalin or Che.
In some ways, the SJWs represent the hollowness of the modern left. There had always been vegans, sexual utopians, and organic fruit drinkers on the left, but at least in the past this bohemian influence had been tempered by trade unions and fraternal organizations of working class men. Now, it's bohemian hipster silliness all the way down.While you may be correct about the potential for specifically revolutionary violence, that does not mean we cannot end up living under a repressive regime. Writing the neo-Bolsheviks off as "silly" is to gravely underestimate the potential consequences of their seizure of our civic institutions.JonF311 Selvar • 4 hours ago
Yes, we may find them intellectually unserious. They probably are, after all. That doesn't mean that they themselves are not deadly serious in their beliefs, however. Just because you don't share their irrational faith doesn't mean that you can't be forced to live according to its dictates should they gain enough power.I wouldn't refer to vegans as "bohemians". If anything the program strikes me as decidedly ascetic, and one of the few such instances in modern culture.Meg Selvar • 3 hours agoTransgenderism may be an end run around this problem, a way for men - some of them quite aggressive - to get high status in the SJW hierarchy.William L. Anderson Selvar • an hour agoI believe that any group, once its members become convinced that they are saving the world and that anyone in their way is The Enemy to be Destroyed, can move into engaging in mass murder. Don't forget that the progressives of yesteryear not only supported the Bolsheviks, but every other communist movement and not only being morally superior, but superior in every other way, too.Joseph Jsoe Selvar • 29 minutes ago
Read back issues of Sojourners after the Vietnam War ended. Jim Wallis either denies that mass executions were taking place or he hints that maybe those being executed deserved their fate. He also refused to condemn the murderous destruction of Cambodia while it was going on. I believe that it is only one step that a lot of these people have to take before they descend into the hell of mass killing.The Bolsheviks were led by intellectuals? Maybe you mean unlearned half-intellectuals like Lenin.Greg • 11 hours agoIts Dostoevskys Demons that is the most insightful work from/about Russia on the psychology of political fanatics: Bolshevism, SJW, etc are all illumined by his masterpiece more so than analogies between social-political systems with very different etiologies.Landless Shepherd Greg • 4 hours agoDostoevsky clearly saw the coming chaos. The tsars should have paid more attention to him.minsredmash • 10 hours agoCould't agree more. The similarities of both branches of totalitarianism are staggering. Couple of points:Osse • 10 hours ago • editedIn Russia of the late 19th century, there was a great deal of apocalyptic fervor, and, of course, a number of Marxist and other left-wing revolutionary groups. The Bolsheviks were the most ruthless and disciplined of them all. Slezkine says it doesn't matter whether the faith of the Bolsheviks was really a religion or not. The fact is, it functioned like one.
1) Bolsheviks didn't exist in 19th century. Bolsheviks faction of RSDRP - Russian social-democratic party was formed in 1903. They were not the most ruthless either - there were many other vicious parties and groups, more violent and outright crazy.
2) Revolutionaries in Russia acted like religious fanatics and did't hesitate to use Religious terminology either. Take the infamous 1869 "The Catechism of a Revolutionary" by Sergey Nechayev:The revolutionary knows that in the very depths of his being, not only in words but also in deeds, he has broken all the bonds which tie him to the social order and the civilized world with all its laws, moralities, and customs, and with all its generally accepted conventions. He is their implacable enemy, and if he continues to live with them it is only in order to destroy them more speedily
Lenin adored the man.
Dostoevsky's "Demons" were inspired by Nechayev and his followers.People on the liberal end of the spectrum regularly tell each other horror stories about how conservatives are just like fascists and draw parallels and so forth. There's a theory about authoritarian mindsets. And if you hang around comment sections on the political right you will see dehumanizing rhetoric about the left.Another Dave Osse • 4 hours ago
Probably everybody is right about the terribleness of the Other political tribes.The problem with that is that conservatives want to actually conserve the institutions and sensibilities that have served as the foundation of our civilization for centuries.kirthigdon • 9 hours ago
The Left wants to tear everything down because it feels good in the moment, damn the ultimate consequences, which more often than not, are negative.
They did it in Russia a century ago, and their spiritual heirs are doing it again here.There is a lot in Slezkine's book which is quite interesting, but a lot more which is merely tedious. Rod does us a big favor with this Reader's Digest version.Rob G • 9 hours ago
Kirt HigdonThe Year of Big Russian Books! Currently reading the newly translated Stalingrad by Grossman, to be followed by its better-known sequel Life and Fate . Now this. Oy vey!Rod Dreher Moderator Rob G • 5 hours ago
Seriously though, this looks amazing.
This is what I was getting at the other day when I said on another thread that SJW-ism is fundamentalist. It's not actually Bolshie, because it stems too much from a godless version of Yankee Puritanism. But the parallels are definitely there.I stumbled into the book because I had to make the 8-hour drive to Dallas, and was looking for a book on tape. Our local library had it available through the streaming app Libby. I had meant to read it earlier in my research, but was intimidated by its size. However, sitting in one spot for 16 hours over the course of a weekend, it's more approachable. On audiobook, it's 45 hours long! I ended up buying a paperback copy so I can continue. I'll be going to Russia next week, and might bring it with me.zosimas • 9 hours agoFr Seraphim Rose was writing and warning 40-50 years ago about precisely this phenom coming to America -- obviously not with prophetic specificity concerning the LGBT agenda, etc., -- the essentially religious aspect of secular millennialist movements, tracing them to the Anabaptist uprisings, the French Revolution, etc. Have you read his slim book 'Nihilism'?Rod Dreher Moderator zosimas • 5 hours agoI have not. I'll find it.John10 • 9 hours ago"they don't want to destroy the institutions of society. Rather, they want to conquer them and administer them"JonF311 John10 • 4 hours ago
Yes, that is the brilliant insight of the SJW and the modern left: No need to abolish capitalism, just get all the jobs in the HR department so you can indoctrinate all the employees.
Good insight about the apocalyptic style of the SJW. They indeed look for the progressive Son of Man from Heaven so to speak, who will lay the ax to the old tree of white/Christian/hetero culture and cast the bad fruit into the fire. Escape this via the Benedict Option? "Who said you could flee from the coming wrath?", their prophets will ask.However, HR work is increasingly outsourced these days. Not offshored- but staffed by temps and contractors, not firm employees.izzy • 8 hours ago" NYT is its Pravda"Rod Dreher Moderator izzy • 5 hours ago
What an absurd claim. Fox News is much more akin to Pravda than the NYT ever would be. Fox literally runs non-stop propaganda for the president and attempts to cover for his corruption. NYT has never had that kind of relationship with any president that we know of. Hosts on Fox have massive conflicts of interest which they don't report (Hannity and his use of Cohen as his private lawyer). That is what a Pravda looks like.Look, I'm a paid subscriber to the Times. I have to read it for the same reason Kremlinologists had to read Pravda. It really is Pravda for the Social Justice faith system.rymlianin Rod Dreher • 2 hours agoYears ago, the Washington Post was named "Pravda on the Potomac'. It still serves that purpose.Another Dave izzy • 4 hours agoThat you are this myopic regarding the Times makes Rod's point about Pravda better than he did.Conrad O'Connor • 8 hours ago
If you think the Times, or their writers and editors, has no conflict of interests, then there is no hope for you.
Seriously.I believe the Puritan Moses was Oliver, not Thomas, Cromwell.Rod Dreher Moderator Conrad O'Connor • 5 hours agoYou're right. I changed it. What's so funny is that as I was up late last night writing that post, I was thinking about a book Prof. Tighe sent me this year about Thomas Cromwell. I told myself to be sure not to make the mistake of putting Thomas's name where Oliver's should be. And I made that very mistake!JonF311 Conrad O'Connor • 4 hours agoI was going to point that out but figured someone else had beaten me to it.Nestorian • 8 hours ago • edited
The two Cromwells were akin (Thomas was a collateral ancestor to Oliver) but they were as different as could be. Thomas was a political nihilist who did whatever Henry VIII wanted, until he failed to anticipate the mercurial monarch and lost his head. Oliver was a bit of a fanatic, though with a few decent instincts (he stopped the looting of the royal tombs, and saved Westminster Abbey from demolition).Criticism of ideologies that embody millenarianism without God is all well and good. The problem is that the various politically conservative ideologies that also nominally orient themselves around a Judeo-Christian worldview consistently turn a blind eye to grave evils committed by members of the societal elites, in the name of whatever political and economic ideology they support instead.C. L. H. Daniels Nestorian • 4 hours ago
There is an absence of a courageously prophetic stand for truth and justice on the part of Christian elites and intellectuals. It so happens that many of the parties making such critiques adhere to an ideology embodying secular messianism, and this is then employed as a rationalization by Christian intellectuals to turn a blind eye to the evils in question in the service of their own pet political ideology.
Here are ongoing examples right now, picked almost at random, where such a prophetic witness is lacking:
- The ongoing slaughter and mass starvation in Yemen being caused by Saudi Arabia, and supported by the United States
- The betrayal of the Kurds (if being true to the promises made to them must come at the expense of American geopolitical interests, then this is what the Christian moral witness necessitates)
- The ongoing criminal violation of anti-trust laws by the medical industry involved in their refusal to make public the costs of their services
- The homicidal criminality of the Boeing executives who knowingly put a death-trap airliner into global circulation
- The homicidal drug-dealing criminality of pharmaceutical company executives who knowingly caused the opoiod crisis by employing a business model built on deliberately addicting people
Secular messianism would lose a lot of its appeal and raison d'etre if the Christian intelligentsia would take from the secular messianists, and take upon themselves, the task of prophetically denouncing the criminality routinely engaged in by their society's power elite.No one is bearing prophetic witness to those things, to use your term. Only a few Cassandras here and there. It's not just our Christian elites that fail here, it's all of them, left, right and center.Brasidas Nestorian • 4 hours agoPreach it brother..rob • 8 hours agoA picture is worth a thousand words. While it used to be that Communists were demeaned by associating with homosexuality, now homosexuals are demeaned by association with communism.Haigha • 8 hours agoOliver Cromwell was a very different guy from Thomas Cromwell. And the Lord Protector himself was actually rather tolerant and liberal for his times.JonF311 Haigha • 4 hours agoHe wasn't as crazy as, say, the Fifth Monarchy Men, but he did impose draconian moral regulations and he left his tolerance at home when he went to Ireland.turmarion Haigha • 2 hours agoOliver Cromwell wasn't so tolerant if you were Catholic or Irish or worked in the theater; and he was less tolerant and liberal than Charles I (who was executed) or Charles II, who thankfully ended the Puritan reign after Cromwell's death.Haigha turmarion • 44 minutes agoWell, he was more tolerant of Catholics than a lot of Catholics were of Protestants at the time (cf. massacres of Protestants in Ulster--let along continental Europe--and Cromwell's actions with respect to Maryland), more tolerant than his predecessors toward Jews, and more respectful of free conscience than most of his contemporaries. Anyway, my point is not that he was a saint or some kind of liberal before his time; just that he doesn't deserve to be categorized with Bolsheviks and Jacobins.Michael from Israel • 8 hours agoA Soviet emigre myself, I would like to point out that there is a silver lining here. Totalitarian ideologists may very well succeed at capturing power and inflict immeasurable harm on the societies they control. But the structures they erect will ultimately fall apart due to the major flaw of totalitarian / mythological thought: its denial of reality. The Nazis attacked the Soviet Union (whose totalitarianism was more beningn for its victim groups than the future envisaged by the Nazis for their racial enemies, though) believing they would be invincible because of their racial superiority. The Soviet Union entered an arms race with the United States believing its economy would be able to sustain it. If Post-Marxism succeeds at consolidating its power, its eventual downfall is virtually assured, too. Let's hope, it won't take 70 years.Matt in VA • 8 hours agoHere's another interesting difference, and an important one: SJWs may want to destroy the oppressive practices, but unlike the Bolsheviks, they don't want to destroy the institutions of society. Rather, they want to conquer them and administer them. The religion of Social Justice has already conquered the university, as James Lindsay points out, and is moving quickly into other institutions: media (the NYT is its Pravda), law, tech, entertainment, and corporate America. The Social Justice faith system can be easily adapted by the institutions of bourgeois capitalism -- a fact that conceals its radicalism.JonF311 Matt in VA • 4 hours ago
Does id-pol's total congruence with massive multinational consumer capitalism "conceal its radicalism," or does it rather point up the insane radicalism of global consumer capitalism? Western conservatives who embraced the free market out of fear of communism embraced something that is, or at least has the potential to be, as radical as communism is.
Identity politics are *the* way to manage and administer global consumer capitalist organizations and societies, since they function as a way of rendering populations legible to technocrats and unseen, unaccountable, untouchable administrators who work on computers, with spreadsheets. People can now be databased, can be put into "relational databases" and characterized with algorithm-friendly descriptors. People are rendered text-searchable; people are catalogued the same way a multinational corporation catalogues its products and the different pieces/ingredients components of each product.
Identity politics are ideal for global consumer capitalism for a number of other reasons, too. For one thing, they disintegrate ties of solidarity between members of families and between citizens of nations, and disintegrate historical communities as well, and even social or economic classes, by prioritizing market segmentation into discrete categories based on *self-creation* or self-satisfaction. For example, sexual identity -- sexual identity categories are aggressively emphasized because these are categories based on individual desire and appetites, and a sort of self-idealization.* And the emphasis on migrants/immigrants being superior or ideal members of a community because they *chose* to be where they are, they chose to move, rather than just staying where they were born.** But even market segmentation based on tastes like "I enjoy comedies" or "I enjoy tearjerkers" or "I like fantasy video games" vs. "I like first-person shooter games" is a form is categorization and disintegration based on personal preference and tastes. The point is that unchosen bonds or ties, and relational bonds or ties or classes, are to be disintegrated in favor of self-chosen self-actualizing categories.
(*Identity politics so loves and adores sexual identity "diversity" that it tolerates a particularly wide range of sexual self-categorization, 88 genders and 256 orientations or whatever, because what it loses in algorithmic legibility it gains in the sheer power of liberationist sexual self-identification to explode unchosen and strong affiliative bonds in favor of a radically atomized and self-focused individual, a perfect foot soldier with absolutely no counter-loyalties to anything other than the idpol regime/ideology.)
(**Note that both establishment Democrats AND establishment Republicans enthusiastically push and promote this idea that the person born on the other side of the world who moves to America tomorrow is BETTER and MORE AMERICAN than somebody who was born here, because of the active *choice* to come to the USA rather than just be some loser non-"dynamic" non-"innovative" schmuck who happened to be born within the country's borders and thus deserves no credit or regard whatsoever.)
As identity politics disintegrates unchosen and God-given bonds and ties and relational categories, in favor of "self-directed" "self-chosen" legible identity markers, it renders traditional left-wing goals and causes related to class solidarity and economic equality toothless and impotent, riven to pieces by the progressive stack; the solidarity that can sustain a picket line is shredded to pieces by the narcissistic self-created individual, who tells himself that he is BETTER than the picketers because whereas they call the strike-breakers "scabs," he sees them as morally superior and he would never be so mean and cruel as to dehumanize them in that way. Of course, the scabs are in actual truth meaningless to him except as symbols of his own superior moral worth, and the picketers are equally meaningless to him because he has no class solidarity and never subordinates himself willingly to the group on a class basis. He would far rather enjoy the narcissistic satisfaction of publishing a thinkpiece, for pennies, about how dehumanizing the language of "scabs" is, with his name on it, with his sheer goodness visible to all, than engage in the kind of class solidaristic activity that would mean subordination to a larger group of people some of whom are probably hopelessly behind the times in their thinking.
Identity politics were deployed during Occupy Wall Street to neuter it and they have been utilized by both the Democratic and Republican establishments to dissolve populations of problematic subjects into naked individuals atomized and self-actualized into totally dependent subjects of the system. Kevin Williamson and National Review telling problematically non-libertarian poor whites to sever ties with their communities and their homes, to "get a U-Haul" and go where the market wants them. Hillary Clinton saying "if we break up the big banks, will that end sexism? Will that end racism? Will that end homophobia?" Both National Review and Hillary Clinton want the atomized individual completely subject to money power, to the capitalists, to the financial class; National Review tells *its* audience that true conservatism, morality, and Christianity all demand it; Hillary Clinton tells her audience that true morality, progressivism, and liberality demand back-burnering systematic economic and political change of the kind that is national in character and requires class solidarity-- in favor of instead focusing on deliberately vague and endless efforts to stop "sexism" and "homophobia" and "racism" that of course will always have to be priorities forever since these things can never end as the idpol advocates themselves admit and which will be attempted via the policing and targeting and harrassment of ALL, including the poor, by ideological commissars and apparatchiks. The government/the demos/the state is not to be trained on the billionaires, to tackle them or correct them, but on all of us--WE are the problem. A politics of petty bureaucrats, snitches, informants, ideological policemen -- again, a politics that SEVERS ties and bonds between people in favor of the atomized and legible individual, the row of Excel spreadsheet column signifiers on some technocrats' massive file of humans rendered legible to the algorithm.
Identity politics is global consumer capitalism and the fact that neither establishment liberals nor conservatives can accept this since it shows that each is actually a lie and the opposite of what it pretends to be is why the whole system is felt to be both untouchably strong/unassailable and liable to full and total and sudden collapse. What does "The End of History" mean if not that there aren't really contesting/opposing powers anymore, that there isn't actually any more real conflict? On Day One in creative writing class you learn that there is no story, no narrative, at all, if there is no conflict.Occupy did a pretty good job of neutering itself, rejecting any form of coherent leadership and spending its days in a drum-banging pot smoking daze. Wayne and Garth do political protest.Sergeant Prepper Matt in VA • 3 hours ago • editedIdentity politics are *the* way to manage and administer global consumer capitalist organizations and societies, since they function as a way of rendering populations legible to technocratsMatt in VA Sergeant Prepper • an hour ago
You could expand this into a pretty good follow-up to James C. Scott's "Seeing like a state" (if you will, "Seeing like a Social Justice Technocrat"), which presents the art of making unruly populations "legible" as the central concern of modern statecraft. There's an interesting difference between your argument and his, though: where you argue that the current version prefers people who are mobile and unattached to any particular location, Scott argues that "nomads and pastoralists (such as Berbers and Bedouins), hunter-gatherers, Gypsies, vagrants, homeless people, itinerants, runaway slaves, and serfs have always been a thorn in the side of states. Efforts to permanently settle these mobile peoples (sedentarization) seemed to be a perennial state project". Basically, the only way to make populations legible was to make them stay put. I guess that changed.This is an interesting point. I would say that consumer capitalism cares little about nomads, vagrants, homeless people, etc., because there's no money in them. Why should consumer capitalism care about them? It feels no loyalty to a specific community and its people; it feels no loyalty to those who happen to exist somewhere in its proximity; it has no use for them. I mean, Seeing Like A State is written from a Cold War perspective, when American cities had real, serious problems with criminal activity from poor and marginal people, and it was affecting even the upper middle class and the rich. But the Cold War ended, and at basically exactly the same time things started to improve in American cities (the ones that matter, anyway, like NYC and Washington DC).Aleks • 8 hours ago
Maybe Seeing Like A State is more concerned with the way a more robustly national -- that is, not completely globalist -- elite or ruling class conducts itself, but here at The End of History, I'm not sure things are the same. If vagrants, homeless people, itinerants, etc. are not terribly legible, nobody cares, because they aren't worth anything anyway. They don't buy things, they can't be farmed for debt payments, and they probably can't even be used effectively as vote banks.
Conversely, the middle-class single man or woman whose job is everything to him or her and who conspicuously consumes -- *this* is where the money is. The single person whose entire lifestyle is about consumption -- the right foods, the right products, travel, clothes, etc. -- and whose entire focus is on their career -- this is the ideal for the multinational corporation. Any roots, or ties to specific places or communities, will interfere with this ideal specimen's total devotion to and capture by consumerism.
I guess what I'm saying is there's "Seeing Like A State," and then there's Seeing Like a Multinational Corporation, or a globalist organization. The former might want itinerants to plunk down somewhere. The latter knows that there's no real escape *physically*, nowhere "out of reach" short of going into outer space, and that the more people get moved around the more shorn they are of particularist, illegible-to-the-market bonds, ties, and obligations.One can understand the appeal of Marxism, and to a greater degree socialism. The pseudo-spiritual parallel of "the last will be first" akin to Christianity is perhaps the greatest attractor to the social justice minded individual. While I don't think we will experience anything like revolutionary Russia in this country, I truly feel there are similarities to our present day. Namely, the envy and vindictiveness which has become so commonplace in our daily lives. There is a general anxiety and anger out there which is manifesting itself through economic realities such as the growing wealth gap. You combine this with the growing aversion to institutions such as the family and religion which are purveyors of traditional hierarchy, and this is laying the foundation for the far-left in this country to essentially weaponize their ideology on to a younger generation. And just like the Bolsheviks, it is all centered in envy, vindictiveness, anger and bloodthirsty want of power in order to bring about a utopia where the last will now be first. That was marxist communism, and as Rod continues to point out, these components are slowly revealing themselves in a soft totalitarianism through which the invocation of "science" is being used to chip away at civic virtue, decency and the greater public good. There are indeed parallels to revolutionary Russia.Brasidas Aleks • 4 hours agoThanks for pointing this out. The "last shall be first" end-point is exactly the inverted hierarchy of the SJW.Rod Dreher Moderator Brasidas • 2 hours ago
So what are we saying? We're not supposed to take it literally? We don't really mean it? That the whole "Blessed are the poor.".. ends with an Emily Littela "Never mind"? Or is it just that we want to get there on our own bus... With our own idea of who is marginalized?
Everyone wants their own personal Jesus I guess.
BTW - by the way, I think one of the weakest components of Rod's thesis is the refusal to weigh the power of industrial, finance and late-stage capitalism and it's corollary effects on culture. Unless one is willing to conflate Liberalism with Capitalism there is no excuse for ignoring its overwhelming impact on culture and civic morality.Show's what you know. I'm devoting an entire chapter to Woke Capitalism, and how so many conservatives are blind to the threat from it because we are programmed by our past to think of the State as the only threat.Brasidas Rod Dreher • 30 minutes agoI'm chuckling here for a number of reasons. I am pleased and apprehensive at the same time.JonF311 Aleks • 4 hours ago
I may be wrong but I was thinking this just before you responded. The reason you guys - conservatives and traditionalists - lost was because while your side was investing in retrograde politicians, megachurches and tv evangelists; gold as a great investment; guns and prepper equipment the secularists were investing in publishing, movies, film, literature, art, technology and education, i.e, mass media.
It had nothing to do with ideology. It was that nihilistic value-engine, corporate America, commoditizing and monetizing everything from Air Jordans to pornography to in vitro fertilization - all of it. Daniel Bell was talking about this back in the 70's but you know this. It wasn't "woke" Capitalism that did this. It was just that good ole American capitalism chipping away at the culture dollar by dollar - along with all those concomitant trends in marketing, industrialization, communications, rural to urban and suburban migrations, etc.
You guys not only put your eggs in the wrong baskets but you gave them to the Republican Party, who cheered it on; "What's good for GM is good for America". By the time FOX rolled around it was too late. That's why the party had to spend so much time over the last couple decades on gerrymandering, voter suppression and r*tf&*$king election tactics.
"Woke" Capitalism is what happens when you pay attention to the wrong stuff and end up losing every battle before this one.
I'll be interested in what you have to say in the new book. Good luck with it.The Bolsheviks only came to power because Russia had been ruled by incompetents for time out of mind, and things fell apart badly during the debacle of WWI. Radicals of both Left and Right we shall always have with us. They will not be a threat as long as our leaders are reasonably capable, government is somewhere within hailing distance of popular consensus, and no external catastrophe sinks us.Rod Dreher Moderator JonF311 • 2 hours agoYou're wrong. The radicals are taking over through institutional capture.TomD • 7 hours agoHere's an interesting difference: from what I can tell, most SJWs don't have a clearly envisioned utopia. What will the world look like when whiteness is once and for all defeated?Herenow • 7 hours ago
Many of us can thank God, then, that SJW's understand and accept the carcinogenic risks of tanning booths.I understand the parallels, and you do a good job of explaining them. But it seems a little forced. Cutting to the basic difference - the Bolsheviks were more than prepared to use violence, terror and intimidation to crush the old order, techniques used on a scale rarely if ever seen before in human history, over decades. I just can't see SJWs (of which I have a couple of sympathizers in my immediate family) getting to grips with the business end of an assault rifle or concentration camp. To me, they seem just another group of middle class nags, wokier-than-though types who are more likely to irritate me to death than actually kill me for believing the wrong things. Although the image of drag queen story hour with added Kalashnikovs and gallows does have a certain dark, Pythonesque appeal.Rod Dreher Moderator Herenow • 5 hours agoRight, there's a difference between hard totalitarianism and soft totalitarianism. But the parallels are real, and significant.stephen pickard Rod Dreher • 3 hours agoPoint of interest, do you have a vision of what it be like if whiteness is once and for defeated. You should have a vision so that you can point out the ultimate horror of what they want to achieve. I never really bought into the SJW conspiracy but reading more of your posts I am rethinking this issue. Still not convinced it is a movement with any staying power.conradg Rod Dreher • 2 hours agoThe difference is that there's no such thing as soft totalitarianism.Gaius1Gracchus Herenow • 4 hours ago
All totalitarianism is hard. What you call "soft totalitarianism" is simply a set of social ethics you don't like, that make life uncomfortable for people with a very different set of social ethics. In other words, it's the price of living in a non-totalitarian society where people get to accept the values they like and reject those they don't. Not a perfect society, but definitely not a totalitarian one.In the 60s, the various radicals, including the Weathermen and Black Power groups, were supported by white collar leftists, no matter the violence of the era. Today, antifa is supported and aided by Democratic politicians and bureaucrats in its violence.Another Dave Herenow • 3 hours ago
Much of the antifa are radicalized wealthy college kids LARPing as revolutionaries, but they are violent nonetheless.
Likewise, BLM engaged in considerable violence in various protests.
They are all proto Bolsheviks, sure of their own righteousness as they support violence against opponents ("punching Nazis", throwing cement milkshakes, and the like).People, more than a few, are losing their jobs and/or social standing because of this insanity, and their numbers increase daily, as does the number of people who keep their mouths shut because of fear of job loss.TStephen Herenow • 3 hours ago
This issue is not to be met by shoulder shrugging and indifference.
now is the time for average people to begin speaking up and out whenever this nonsense rise to the surface.Have you been paying attention to the "black shirts" that are terrorizing anyone who dares wear a MAGA hat, or attend a conservative rally of any sort?Madeleine Birchfield • 7 hours ago
There's a growing trend among the SJW crowd to arm themselves, and organize for violence.
Don't underestimate the willingness of the left to commit violence on a grand scale.In Europe, the alienated turn towards Islamic Radicalism or various forms of ethno-nationalism. In the North of Ireland, those alienated turn towards either the IRA (if Irish and Catholic) or the UVF (if British or Protestant). How are the social justice warriors in the United States any different than the various types of bourgeoise European ethno-nationalism, such as Catalan, Scots, or Irish nationalism?Aabbea • 7 hours agoThere is no significant difference between the status of a serf growing food for his feudal lord and someone living under a Socialist system where the government runs everything. In both systems a person can't work for himself, nor does he own any land. Socialism is a trap invented by the old feudal elite to fool people into surrendering all the advantages they got from the advances of the last few centuries and going back to new form of Feudalism.Brasidas Aabbea • 5 hours agoGosh, you don't work for an hourly wage do you?JonF311 Aabbea • 4 hours agoThe feudal lords were much more the equivalent of capitalist CEOs than of comissars.tach1 Aabbea • 3 hours agoYes, the ability to own property -- and especially to own income-producing property -- along with the rule of law to protect that property are the keys to society-wide prosperity.Ivan the Organized • 6 hours agoFrom the point of view of someone who stands to be smashed by thesekingdomofgodflag.info • 6 hours ago
revolutionaries, it doesn't really matter whether or not they have a
plan for what to do after you're overthrown.
That lack of a plan, that lack of realization that utopia is unattainable on this earth, means that sooner or later everyone stands to be "smashed by the revolutionaries". While we've long congratulated ourselves on the uniqueness of the American Revolution, an alternate view appears increasingly tenable, viz. that it is merely an imitation, per augmentationem , of the same basic theme in the grand prolation canon of revolutions.Nothing is more human, he writes, than to be prepared to kill and die to secure meaning in life.Brasidas • 6 hours ago
Nothing is more human than to be prepared to kill and die to secure dominance and glory. Jesus expects his followers to resist their natural inclinations resulting from The Fall.So this is a problem with "secular millenarians" but not religious millenarians? Of course, reframing secular left politics into an apocalyptic religious frame work requires it. But it doesn't necessarily make it so. It may accelerate it.LeeInWV Brasidas • 4 hours ago
And "The revolutionaries were going to prevail because of the sheer power of their hatred. It cleansed the soul and swelled like the flood of the real day." could just as easily apply to Trump's base. The contempt and schadenfreude at Trump rallies is so thick you can cut it with a knife.
In fact, many of those in the center and the Left frame the current moment in terms of Weimar and the rise of National Socialism. The parallels have been noted by more than a few historians. You've noted them.
So why is this apocalypse more likely than the other? After all Trump and his minions have been co-opting American institutions from the Court and Congress to law enforcement; intelligence; foreign policy, etc, etc, etc. The Left has the universities? What happens when they fall next? If not to this Trump then the next one.
This really reminds me of the old Chinese Finger Trap puzzle. The harder each opposing side pulls the more entrapped they become.This really reminds me of the old Chinese Finger Trap puzzle. The harder each opposing side pulls the more entrapped they become.prodigalson Brasidas • 3 hours ago
Excellent!Bingo! And i fear this as well. We have the neo-Weimar neoliberal mostly fecklless hedonists of the left and the nascent growing *something* that will oppose them, or react to them. It's different and strange, it's right-wing but not really, and fascist but not really, and nationalist but not really. It's VERY dangerous though and growing.LeeInWV Brasidas • 4 hours ago
So i'mThis really reminds me of the old Chinese Finger Trap puzzle. The harder each opposing side pulls the more entrapped they become.prodigalson Brasidas • 3 hours ago
Excellent!Bingo! And i fear this as well. We have the neo-Weimar neoliberal mostly fecklless hedonists of the left and the nascent growing *something* that will oppose them, or react to them. It's different and strange, it's right-wing but not really, and fascist but not really, and nationalist but not really. It's VERY dangerous though and growing.FUBAR_007 • 6 hours ago
So i'm much more worried about the young men in the big black pick up trucks, back from multiple deployments, with the punisher stickers, and think blue line flags.
The mopey woke gender studies grad in HR may not be the long term threat the guy with the simmering and growing anger, and with the practical experience with long rifles, and with the peers who feel the same way, turn out to be.
What happens when instead of Trump, we get a Lenin or a Stalin, distinctly American, who can appeal to and organize these angry young men?
Either way, I'll work to peacefully oppose both these extremes, trust in Christ, work on turning the other cheek, spread the gospel, and focus on enduring to the end.Here's an interesting difference: from what I can tell, most SJWs don't have a clearly envisioned utopia. What will the world look like when whiteness is once and for all defeated? When toxic masculinity has been fully vanquished? And so forth. They don't know;...Al Bundy • 5 hours ago
Which is why they are doomed to fail.
SJWs are trying to solve socio-economic problems with metaphysical, therapeutic solutions. Stigmatizing white skin and Western culture isn't going to provide economic investment to impoverished minority communities. Delegitimizing law enforcement won't reduce violent crime. Obliterating gender distinctions doesn't lead to equal pay for women or get more women and LGBT into STEM professions.
Their worldview is built on the fallacy that a better world can simply be willed into existence. It's analogous to the Underpants Gnome theory of profit.*
Emotion is not reality, and self-expression is no substitute for competence.
*For the uninitiated:Play HideExcellent post, Rod. Very illuminating.florian albert • 5 hours ago
To round out the SJW religion, their Church Fathers are: Foucault, Butler, Derrida, Lacan, Said, etc. And like the worst aspects of Abrahamic religions, SJW theologians (ie, Sociologists, Studies professors, etc.) are prone to an idiotic, if often hilarious, textual fundamentalism.
Regarding the role of parents, Sailer recently posted about a Soviet "child saint" who snitched on his parents. A reminder that Faith comes before family.I do not know if you have seen John Gray's excellent recent article - 'The deluded cult of social justice' - on the Unherd website.dono • 5 hours ago
If you have missed it - and bearing in mind how much material you are covering - you might have, it is well worth reading.
Best wishes for your fine work.More and more has my mind been turning to my memories of the late fifties, when Russia was called the existential threat by my influencers. I was ten years old. Only much later did I learn of the HUAC and backlash against the "Red Scare". Only even later did I learn of men and ideas like Lincoln Steffens... in the 30's .."I have seen the future, and it works."Mark B. • 5 hours ago
And now, the existential warnings are emanating from both sides of Political World. It's a Bizarro version of deja vu.This is most interesting and insightfull once again. I will definitely buy your new book, once it arrives. One thing I would like to add: The SJWs know how to appeal to ordinary people and install hatred in their hearts by adressing REAL injustices and problems in society, just like the Bolsheviks did. Problems and injustices that those who reject and oppose SJW-religion often ignore (to their own future peril). For instance, SJWs are hammering on extreme and ever growing inequality. A thing ordinary people who need three McDonals-jobs to survive can relate to. Then there is Climate Disaster. A thing that will hit those ordinary people, who are already struggling, hardest.Khalid mir • 5 hours ago
Simply put in general: When an intellectual stromtrooper-elite pushes a new faith in the mainstream, they need one or more levers. If the old faith is willfully blind to the existance of these levers, it propably deserves to die.Haven't read all of this but I don't really think there's much utopian thinking left in the West - and especially amongst segments of the younger generation. If that's where you're going with this I think you're mistaken. Instead, we're living under the tyranny of the now, or 'quarterly capitalism'.Matt in VA Khalid mir • 5 hours ago
Byung Han's got some great work on this..the burnout society: a society that can't imagine a future and that must be pumped up on fictions, intoxicants, just to keep desire, and the system, going. Or, as G. Steiner acutely remarked: there are no new beginnings. So, there isn't really an acceleration of time but a fragmentation of it ( since there is no direction to it..no fulfilment of time).
I'm sure there's some 'revolutionary' zeal in some parts but I think fatigue, ennui, and a blasé attitude are equally if not more common. Yeah, like, whatever ( I hear you say).
Also, with so many people in debt I doubt they buy the idea of progress. For all the whirl of change, the factory remains ( Chesterton said). In fact, the mania for superficial change is almost an admission that real change ( utopian thinking) cannot come about.
My tuppence worth.
If you weren't making that point..profound apologies.I agree with this. The point of identity politics is in fact *not* a revolutionary new regime or the establishment of a new dispensation--identity politics is so atomizing and disintegrating that it is unappealing to people to even think/fantasize of some shared new common destiny... identity politics is thoroughly bourgeois and capitalist, it is a rat race, it is climbing the corporate ladder, it is the "self" -- note well, the *self* -- as brand. At most identity politics looks forward to a world that resembles an international airport or the hotel and corporate convention center attached to such an airport-- not something people really actually want to spend much time fantasizing about.mjg235 • 5 hours agoYou should watch HBOs documentary of Theranos, because Silicon Valley is really the dominant force in the wokification of corporate America, which is far more significant than most SJW trends. There's a specific part that's fascinating, an experiment done by Dan Ariely where they design a payoff based on the outcome of a dice roll that is very easy to cheat. The twist: they had a lie detector strapped on. When the payoff simply was given to themselves, lying was infrequent and detectable. When they were told the money would be given to a charity of their choice, lying shot up and it was not detectable by the machine. Conclusion: believing in a cause will make people physically believe their own lies. It's a huge reason why startup founders have learned to bilk billions from credulous investors, and it's a huge reason why SJWs are now able to bilk liberals into legitimizing their increasing mania. It's all basically strategic bullshit, just like Theranos' completely nonfunctional technology, but for whatever reason it's worked for an entire decade.Sergeant Prepper mjg235 • 3 hours ago
This strategy has been enormously successful in the last decade, and corporate America is just bandwagoning. But they're bandwagoning mania and dishonesty, and often running organizations that serve much more vital businesses than chat apps and sales automation.The twist: they had a lie detector strapped on.Hmmm • 5 hours ago
I did not realize anyone still believe that a lie detector can actually detect lies, but as long as it was done for the good cause of scientific research, I guess it does no harm;-).
Anyway, if you enjoyed that movie, I highly recommend John Carreyrou's book about Theranos, which investigates the case in much more detail than the movie ( https://www.amazon.com/Bad-... ).A couple of other authors to consider, from an older generation (born before WWII), writing along similar lines. I'm sure Slezkine refers to them:TISO_AX2 • 5 hours ago
Andrzej Walicki (Marxism and the Leap to the Kingdom of Freedom)
Martin Malia (The Soviet Tragedy and other works)
Walicki is a bit less well known than Malia, but very worth reading in the context of your book, for his assessment of how certain ideas of what constitutes true freedom (as opposed to bourgeois liberalism) lead in practice to totalitarianism.The people who have lived in societies suffused with this kind ofJohnInCA • 5 hours ago
ideology -- emigres from Soviet-bloc countries -- can see through the
Right, as can many Americans who came of age before about 1990 (I believe a paradigm shift took place culturally after the WWII generation a la George Bush and the Me generation a la Bill Clinton).Play HideAnother Dave JohnInCA • 2 hours agomost SJWs don't have a clearly envisioned utopia.
Let's keep it simply and short... how does your "utopia" do away with "Drag Queen Story Hour" without "soft totalitarianism"?The West, and the East for that matter, has done fine without DQST for many, many centuries.SecularMisanthropist JohnInCA • an hour ago
In a healthy society, people would feel no reason to conceive of or initiate such a thing in the first place, let alone try to suppress it.
And I think you already knew that.I do, but thermodynamics, general relativity, and the problem of evil prevent it from being realized in this universe.Carlo Lancellotti • 4 hours agoNot having a clearly delineated utopia was also an essential characteristic of Marxism. Del Noce explains it very well: to the extent that Marx was expecting the revolution to engender a new, divinized man that would take back all the characteristic he had alienated into God, the new society could not really be described in term of any what we know about the pre-revolutionary world, just like, say, a Christian cannot describe paradise.Khalid mir • 4 hours ago" The Social Justice faith system can be easily adapted by the institutions of bourgeois capitalism -- a fact that conceals its radicalism."Rod Dreher Moderator Khalid mir • 2 hours ago
Rod, I don't know about you but I feel I'm living from one week to the next. Do you really know anyone who's got this utopian way of thinking or is it mainly an elite ("they've already taken the universities") kind of thing?I think it's like the Bolsheviks in pre-revolutionary Russia: the intellectuals will guide and instruct the masses, who don't have to fully comprehend what they're doing to be effective.Another Dave Rod Dreher • 2 hours agoAnd the voices of the intellectuals are radically magnified by social media and the entertainment industry, to a degree undreamt of by the revolutionaries in Russia.Joseph Jsoe Rod Dreher • 44 minutes agoBut unlike the Socialists-Revolutionaries (Esers) the Bolsheviks had very few intellectuals with them. At the beginning I can think of anyone.SecularMisanthropist • 4 hours agoThis was a dense post, and a single comment can't do justice to it.Gerald Arcuri • 4 hours ago
Social justice advocates picked a bad target for their wicked. Whiteness in a country that is 72% white, maleness in a world that is 50% male, and heteronormativity in a world that is at least 90% heterosexual.
It ensures that when they infiltrate an institution, they'll generate strife and enemies, and be outnumbered, even with allies.
Social Justice moved through universities more easily because they started off liberal, and are more insulated from profit constraints than other businesses. The rate of tuition increases indicates the market is inelastic. So there's so much demand any costs social justice incurs its host institution is unimportant.
This is not the case with many other businesses. Which when colonized by social justice ideology find themselves stepping on the toes of more than half of their consumers. Many of these consumers will go to competitors and starve the business of profit. Even a small decline in the consumer base can be traumatic to the balance sheet, hence the aphorism "Get Woke, Go Broke".
It's not even true for all universities as University of Missouri and Evergreen college found out.
This means there are likely limits to the spread of social justice ideology. But I suspect this won't phase its adherents because they likely derive meaning from the struggle, and lack of success is secondary.Well, of course. Totalitarians are not that difficult to spot. For anyone with any sense.Sergeant Prepper • 3 hours agoOne interesting parallel between the contemporary social justice crowd and their communist counterparts, as Slezkine presents them, is that many intellectuals who converted to the revolutionary religion were driven by intense feelings of shame and guilt "on account of [what they perceived as] their unearned privilege" (p24, 26); many were themselves children of intellectuals, and felt "both chosen and damned" because of the leisure this afforded them (ibid). But such feelings were a rather intellectual affair: their guilt did not stem from any interaction with the less privileged, but was largely "derived from books" (ibid). This seems rather similar to the current crop, most of whom seem to feel immense guilt about things they have only read about.TOS • 3 hours agoLike the early Bolsheviks, the BenOps are radically alienated from society. They regard ordinary people as dangerous and morally corrupt.Will Thomas • 3 hours ago
Justice depends on group identity. For the BenOp Trad, the line between Good and Evil runs between the Faithful on one side, the Left on the other. BenOp sees justice as entirely a matter of taking power away from the Left, and giving it to the reactionary classes.
BenOp Trads, like the early Bolsheviks, are intellectuals whose gospel is spread by intellectual agitation. It is a gospel that depends on awakening and inspiring fear of SJWs in the hearts of those it wishes to induce into reactionary consciousness. This is why it matters immensely that they have established their base within churches, where they can train those who will be going out to work in society's institutions in ideologized hatred.
BenOp Trads believe that science is on their side, even when their claims are unscientific. They are doing the old pre-Enlightenment utopian trick of making essentially religious claims, but claiming that they are objectively true. "It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve."
BenOp Trads are utopians who believe that their personal Safety requires smashing all the old forms for the sake of liberation. Jurists seemed "unqualified" by the nonpartisan ABA are elevated to lifetime positions in the judiciary. Government corruption at the highest level is acceptable, so long as the government protects the BenOp Trad.
Parents can become the greatest advocates for their children, as in pre-revolutionary Russia with the radical youth. Parents are encouraged to home-school their children, to insulate them from mainstream ideas. Public libraries are to be avoided.
Here's an interesting difference: from what I can tell, most BenOp Trads don't have a clearly envisioned utopia. The movement is not towards physical segregation in an isolated community, like millenarians past. They've given up hope of conquering the culture or the government, and there's no clear way forward besides individual BenOp outposts.Holy cow, Rod! This is going to take me 2 or 3 days (at least) to immerse myself in this posting of yours. But, I'm excited to take the dive.Zsuzsi Kruska • 3 hours agoThe media is the driving force on this subject because it really is outrageous and sensational which gets people watching the ads that pay the media's salaries and office spaces. Hollywood jumped on the bandwagon for economic reasons also. I think people who are against this trend are clueless about how to fight against it. Write the sponsors and tell them why you won't buy their products. In advertising world mentality, every letter or email represents at least 500 or more people who agree, but don't communicate their opinions. Complaining accomplishes nothing, and never has.Avi Marranazo • 3 hours agoThanks Rod -- a great piece. Just a couple of quibbles: SJW is of course, really just neo-Marxism or "Cultural Marxism". With that in mind, another parallel with Bolshevism comes to mind, one highlighted by the characterization of dissenters as "Philistines".Joanis B • 2 hours ago • editedA fascist cynic and satirist, Giovanni Papini, had this to say about Lenin in his book 'Gog' (a novel published in 1931 largely consisting of fictional interviews with famous personalities of the time):Dale McNamee • 2 hours ago
'I [the narrator's name is Gog] murmured a random compliment on the great work he [Lenin] had done in Russia. And then that half-dead face became filled with spectral wrinkles that sought to be a sarcastic smile.
'"But everything was done," exclaimed Lenin with an unexpected and almost cruel brio, "everything was done before we arrived. Foreigners and imbeciles assume that something new has been created here. Blind bourgeois error. The Bolsheviks have done nothing but adopt, by developing it, the regime established by the tsars and which is the only one adapted to the Russian people. One cannot govern a hundred million brutes without the baton, spies, secret police, terror, gallows, military tribunals, galleries and torture. We have only changed the class that founded its hegemony over this system. There were sixty thousand nobles and perhaps forty thousand grand bureaucrats; in total, one hundred thousand people. Today there are about two million proletarians and communists. It is progress, great progress, because privileges are twenty times more numerous, but ninety-eight percent of the population has not gained much on the other hand. Indeed, to be sure, it has gained nothing, and this is at the same time what it wanted, what it sought, although on the other hand it was absolutely inevitable."
'..."Then," I muttered, "what about Marx, and progress, and the rest?"
'"To you, who are a powerful and foreign man," he added, "we can say it all. No one will believe it. But remember that Marx himself has taught us the purely instrumental and fictitious value of theories. Given the state of Russia and Europe, I have had to use communist ideology to achieve my true end. In other countries and at other times I would have chosen another manner. Marx was nothing more than a Hebrew bourgeois clinging to English statistics and a secret admirer of industrialism. He lacked a sense of barbarism, and for this reason he was only a third of a man. A brain saturated with beer and Hegelianism, in which his friend Engels sketched out some brilliant idea. The Russian Revolution is a complete negation of Marx's prophecies. Where there was almost no bourgeoisie, Communism has won there."
'""Men, Mr. Gog, are frightful savages who must be dominated by an unscrupulous savage like me. The rest is charlatanism, literature, philosophy and music for the use of fools. And since savages are similar to criminals, the main ideal of any government should be that the nation should resemble as closely as possible a penal establishment. The old tsarist dungeon is the last word in political wisdom. Well thought out, the life of the prisoner is the most adapted to the vulgar average of men. Not being free, they are, at last, exempt from the dangers and nuisances of responsibility and are in conditions of not being able to do evil. As soon as a man enters prison, he must, by force, lead the life of an innocent man. Moreover, he has no thoughts or worries, for those who think and command for him are already there; he works with the body, but his spirit rests. And he knows that every day he will have something to eat and he will be able to sleep, even if he does not work, even if he is sick, and all this without the worries that are incumbent upon the free man to obtain his bread every morning and a bed every night. My dream is to transform Russia into an immense penal establishment, and do not imagine that I say this out of selfishness, because with such a system, the most enslaved and sacrificed are the bosses and those who second them."
'..I.dared to ask one of my questions: "And the peasants?"
'"I hate the peasants," replied Vladimir Ilyich with a disgusting gesture, "I hate the mujik [peasant] idealized by that softened Westerner called Turgenev and by that converted satyr hypocrite called Tolstoy. The peasants represent everything I detest: the past, faith, heresy and religious mania, manual labor. I tolerate them and pet them, but I hate them. I would like to see them all disappear, down to the last. For me, an electrician is worth a hundred peasants...
'"We will come to be able, I hope, to live with the food produced in a few minutes by the machines in our chemical factories, and we will finally be able to finish off all the useless laborers. Life in Nature is a prehistoric shame...
'"Keep in mind that Bolshevism represents a threefold war: that of scientific barbarians against rotten intellectuals, of the East against the West, and of the city against the countryside. And in this war we will not hesitate in the choice of weapons. The individual is something that must be suppressed. It is an invention of those Greek idlers or those fantastical Germans. Whoever resists will be extirpated like a malignant pustule. Blood is the best fertilizer offered to Nature...
'"Do not believe that I am cruel. All these executions and all these gallows that are raised by my order displease me. I hate the victims, especially because they force me to kill them. But I cannot do otherwise. I boast of being the director of a model penitentiary, of a peaceful and well-organized prison. But here are to be found, as in all prisons, the rebels, the restless, those who have the stupid nostalgia of old ideologies and homicidal mythologies. All those are suppressed. I cannot allow a few thousand sick people to compromise the future happiness of millions of men. Besides, after all, the ancient medical bleedings were not a bad cure for bodies. There is some voluptuousness in feeling the master of life and death. Since the old God was killed - I don't know if in France or Germany - certain satisfactions have been monopolized by man. I am, if you will, a local demigod, camped between Asia and Europe, and so I can afford a little whim. These are the tastes whose secrets, after the decline of the pagans, had been lost. Human sacrifices had something good: they were a deep symbol, a high teaching; a healthy feast. And I, instead of the hymns of the faithful, feel the screams of the prisoners and of the dying come to me, and I assure you that I would not change that symphony for Beethoven's 9th, announcing the beatitude to come."
I quote from this text because I genuinely think efficiency of empire eventually came to weigh, before Communism, as the existential concern of both Leninism and Stalinism, that is to say the long-term survivability of Russia as it was mattered most, i.e. its definitional indissolubility as empire--an empire of peasants (unlike the US, which was one immigrants), but an empire all the same.
Leninism/Stalinism superceded tsarism because it, like Maoism, avoided the colonial disintegration of the vast empire-as-nation, the nation which can only ever be conceived as empire or "cataclysmically"--for the foundational ethnos--lose all sense of self and purpose otherwise; in that strict sense of imperial essentiality, which Tocqueville noted long before the appearance of the Bolsheviks, Russia is the closest compeer of the United States.If these spoiled and lazy SJWs had been made by their parents to leave home and get a real job, go rent an apartment, and start paying the bills and taxes, and work their way through college... They wouldn't be SJWs, they would "grow up" pretty fast !esquimaux • an hour agoAs I recall from my limited reading and discussions, the Bolshies were composed of "workers and soldiers soviets." The peasants (many of them kulaks) weren't considered part of the revolutionary class and later fared quite badly. I'm not sure what the Russian Revolution's parallel would be to our woke capitalists who adjust quite easily to SJW ideology since the SJW's don't challenge them in any meaningful sense. Also, the Bolshies did more than virtue signal. Economic hard times here may dissipate SJW energies rather quickly as their commitment to revolutionary change may turn out to be skin deep. A lost generation may be violent at the fringes but its members have no traction unless the police and the military were to take up their cause. But their version of social justice may be quite different than that of the university-educated SJW's.Joseph Jsoe • an hour agoYou should add the important point that the Socialist-Revolutionaires (SRs, Esers) were much more popular than the Bolsheviks among the intellectuals and also the common people. They were focused on the peasants, and after the war wanted to split Gentry estates between the peasants.SatirevFlesti • 34 minutes agoThe House of Government is indeed a great book. One of the best I've ever read about Bolshevism, and modern leftism and utopian movements in general. It should be required reading for all incoming college freshmen.
Sep 04, 2019 | www.unz.com
The Jeffrey Epstein case is notable for the ups and downs in media coverage it's gotten over the years. Everybody, it seems, in New York society knew by 2000 that Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell were corrupting teenage girls, but the press wouldn't cover it. Articles by New York in 2002 and Vanity Fair in 2003 alluded to it gently, while probing Epstein's finances more closely. In 2005, the Palm Beach police investigated. The county prosecutor, Democrat Barry Krischer, wouldn't prosecute for more than prostitution, so they went to the federal prosecutor, Republican Alexander Acosta, and got the FBI involved. Acosta's office prepared an indictment, but before it was filed, he made a deal: Epstein agreed to plead guilty to a state law felony and receive a prison term of 18 months. In exchange, the federal interstate sex trafficking charges would not be prosecuted by Acosta's office. Epstein was officially at the county jail for 13 months, where the county officials under Democratic Sheriff Ric Bradshaw gave him scandalously easy treatment , letting him spend his days outside, and letting him serve a year of probation in place of the last 5 months of his sentence. Acosta's office complained, but it was a county jail, not a federal jail, so he was powerless.
Epstein was released, and various lawsuits were filed against him and settled out of court, presumably in exchange for silence. The media was quiet or complimentary as Epstein worked his way back into high society. Two books were written about the affair, and fell flat.
The FBI became interested again around 2011 ( a little known fact ) and maybe things were happening behind the scenes, but the next big event was in 2018 when the Miami Herald published a series of investigative articles rehashing what had happened. In 2019 federal prosecutors indicted Epstein, he was put in jail, and he mysteriously died.
Now, after much complaining in the press about how awful jails are and how many people commit suicide, things are quiet again, at least until the Justice Department and the State of Florida finish their investigation a few years from now. (For details and more links, see " Investigation: Jeffrey Epstein "at Medium.com and " Jeffrey Epstein " at Wikipedia .)
jack daniels , says: September 2, 2019 at 1:52 pm GMTI am shocked that nobody is asking Barr why Epstein's autopsy hasn't been made public.
Also, why is nobody asking Acosta who told him that Epstein should be treated gently because he "belongs to intelligence" and what they meant by that. Rumor is that Mueller told him. So, Mueller has been making the rounds, yet nobody asks him.
Also, Epstein's seized video collection shows various individuals committing serious crimes so why is nobody going through it and charging those individuals who can be identified? Is the DOJ now of the opinion that these crimes are not important enough to pursue? And if they should point to a blackmailing operation involving a major intelligence service, that might be worth exposing?
I feel like I am almost the only person in the world asking.
Society has been corrupted by the promotion of cost-benefit moral thinking to a point where nobody can be trusted to do their job if they think it might be 'better overall' to act corruptly.
I keep thinking of innocent Joe DiGenova assuring us that however frustrating it has been in the past, the appointment of Bob Barr will turn everything around. Nonsense. Barr is a fat man, and as James Watson reminds us, you never want to give a fat man a critical job. So far he is acting like a fat man. Firing a couple minor players is window dressing at best.
Aug 25, 2019 | portside.orgThe invisible hand is more like a thumb on the scale for the world's elites. That's why market fundamentalism has been unmasked as bogus economics but keeps winning politically. This article appears in the Summer 2019 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here .
Since the late 1970s, we've had a grand experiment to test the claim that free markets really do work best. This resurrection occurred despite the practical failure of laissez-faire in the 1930s, the resulting humiliation of free-market theory, and the contrasting success of managed capitalism during the three-decade postwar boom.
Yet when growth faltered in the 1970s, libertarian economic theory got another turn at bat. This revival proved extremely convenient for the conservatives who came to power in the 1980s. The neoliberal counterrevolution, in theory and policy, has reversed or undermined nearly every aspect of managed capitalism -- from progressive taxation, welfare transfers, and antitrust, to the empowerment of workers and the regulation of banks and other major industries.
Neoliberalism's premise is that free markets can regulate themselves; that government is inherently incompetent, captive to special interests, and an intrusion on the efficiency of the market; that in distributive terms, market outcomes are basically deserved; and that redistribution creates perverse incentives by punishing the economy's winners and rewarding its losers. So government should get out of the market's way.
By the 1990s, even moderate liberals had been converted to the belief that social objectives can be achieved by harnessing the power of markets. Intermittent periods of governance by Democratic presidents slowed but did not reverse the slide to neoliberal policy and doctrine. The corporate wing of the Democratic Party approved.
Now, after nearly half a century, the verdict is in. Virtually every one of these policies has failed, even on their own terms. Enterprise has been richly rewarded, taxes have been cut, and regulation reduced or privatized. The economy is vastly more unequal, yet economic growth is slower and more chaotic than during the era of managed capitalism. Deregulation has produced not salutary competition, but market concentration. Economic power has resulted in feedback loops of political power, in which elites make rules that bolster further concentration.
The culprit isn't just "markets" -- some impersonal force that somehow got loose again. This is a story of power using theory. The mixed economy was undone by economic elites, who revised rules for their own benefit. They invested heavily in friendly theorists to bless this shift as sound and necessary economics, and friendly politicians to put those theories into practice.
Recent years have seen two spectacular cases of market mispricing with devastating consequences: the near-depression of 2008 and irreversible climate change. The economic collapse of 2008 was the result of the deregulation of finance. It cost the real U.S. economy upwards of $15 trillion (and vastly more globally), depending on how you count, far more than any conceivable efficiency gain that might be credited to financial innovation. Free-market theory presumes that innovation is necessarily benign. But much of the financial engineering of the deregulatory era was self-serving, opaque, and corrupt -- the opposite of an efficient and transparent market.
The existential threat of global climate change reflects the incompetence of markets to accurately price carbon and the escalating costs of pollution. The British economist Nicholas Stern has aptly termed the worsening climate catastrophe history's greatest case of market failure. Here again, this is not just the result of failed theory. The entrenched political power of extractive industries and their political allies influences the rules and the market price of carbon. This is less an invisible hand than a thumb on the scale. The premise of efficient markets provides useful cover.
The grand neoliberal experiment of the past 40 years has demonstrated that markets in fact do not regulate themselves. Managed markets turn out to be more equitable and more efficient. Yet the theory and practical influence of neoliberalism marches splendidly on, because it is so useful to society's most powerful people -- as a scholarly veneer to what would otherwise be a raw power grab. The British political economist Colin Crouch captured this anomaly in a book nicely titled The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism . Why did neoliberalism not die? As Crouch observed, neoliberalism failed both as theory and as policy, but succeeded superbly as power politics for economic elites.
The neoliberal ascendance has had another calamitous cost -- to democratic legitimacy. As government ceased to buffer market forces, daily life has become more of a struggle for ordinary people. The elements of a decent middle-class life are elusive -- reliable jobs and careers, adequate pensions, secure medical care, affordable housing, and college that doesn't require a lifetime of debt. Meanwhile, life has become ever sweeter for economic elites, whose income and wealth have pulled away and whose loyalty to place, neighbor, and nation has become more contingent and less reliable.
Large numbers of people, in turn, have given up on the promise of affirmative government, and on democracy itself. After the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, ours was widely billed as an era when triumphant liberal capitalism would march hand in hand with liberal democracy. But in a few brief decades, the ostensibly secure regime of liberal democracy has collapsed in nation after nation, with echoes of the 1930s.
As the great political historian Karl Polanyi warned, when markets overwhelm society, ordinary people often turn to tyrants. In regimes that border on neofascist, klepto-capitalists get along just fine with dictators, undermining the neoliberal premise of capitalism and democracy as complements. Several authoritarian thugs, playing on tribal nationalism as the antidote to capitalist cosmopolitanism, are surprisingly popular.
It's also important to appreciate that neoliberalism is not laissez-faire. Classically, the premise of a "free market" is that government simply gets out of the way. This is nonsensical, since all markets are creatures of rules, most fundamentally rules defining property, but also rules defining credit, debt, and bankruptcy; rules defining patents, trademarks, and copyrights; rules defining terms of labor; and so on. Even deregulation requires rules. In Polanyi's words, "laissez-faire was planned."
The political question is who gets to make the rules, and for whose benefit. The neoliberalism of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman invoked free markets, but in practice the neoliberal regime has promoted rules created by and for private owners of capital, to keep democratic government from asserting rules of fair competition or countervailing social interests. The regime has rules protecting pharmaceutical giants from the right of consumers to import prescription drugs or to benefit from generics. The rules of competition and intellectual property generally have been tilted to protect incumbents. Rules of bankruptcy have been tilted in favor of creditors. Deceptive mortgages require elaborate rules, written by the financial sector and then enforced by government. Patent rules have allowed agribusiness and giant chemical companies like Monsanto to take over much of agriculture -- the opposite of open markets. Industry has invented rules requiring employees and consumers to submit to binding arbitration and to relinquish a range of statutory and common-law rights.Neoliberalism as Theory, Policy, and Power
It's worth taking a moment to unpack the term "neoliberalism." The coinage can be confusing to American ears because the "liberal" part refers not to the word's ordinary American usage, meaning moderately left-of-center, but to classical economic liberalism otherwise known as free-market economics. The "neo" part refers to the reassertion of the claim that the laissez-faire model of the economy was basically correct after all.
Few proponents of these views embraced the term neoliberal . Mostly, they called themselves free-market conservatives. "Neoliberal" was a coinage used mainly by their critics, sometimes as a neutral descriptive term, sometimes as an epithet. The use became widespread in the era of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.
To add to the confusion, a different and partly overlapping usage was advanced in the 1970s by the group around the Washington Monthly magazine. They used "neoliberal" to mean a new, less statist form of American liberalism. Around the same time, the term neoconservative was used as a self-description by former liberals who embraced conservatism, on cultural, racial, economic, and foreign-policy grounds. Neoconservatives were neoliberals in economics.
Beginning in the 1970s, resurrected free-market theory was interwoven with both conservative politics and significant investments in the production of theorists and policy intellectuals. This occurred not just in well-known conservative think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute, Heritage, Cato, and the Manhattan Institute, but through more insidious investments in academia. Lavishly funded centers and tenured chairs were underwritten by the Olin, Scaife, Bradley, and other far-right foundations to promote such variants of free-market theory as law and economics, public choice, rational choice, cost-benefit analysis, maximize-shareholder-value, and kindred schools of thought. These theories colonized several academic disciplines. All were variations on the claim that markets worked and that government should get out of the way.
Each of these bodies of sub-theory relied upon its own variant of neoliberal ideology. An intensified version of the theory of comparative advantage was used not just to cut tariffs but to use globalization as all-purpose deregulation. The theory of maximizing shareholder value was deployed to undermine the entire range of financial regulation and workers' rights. Cost-benefit analysis, emphasizing costs and discounting benefits, was used to discredit a good deal of health, safety, and environmental regulation. Public choice theory, associated with the economist James Buchanan and an entire ensuing school of economics and political science, was used to impeach democracy itself, on the premise that policies were hopelessly afflicted by "rent-seekers" and "free-riders."
Click here to read how Robert Kuttner has been unmasking the fallacies of neoliberalism for decades
Market failure was dismissed as a rare special case; government failure was said to be ubiquitous. Theorists worked hand in glove with lobbyists and with public officials. But in every major case where neoliberal theory generated policy, the result was political success and economic failure.
For example, supply-side economics became the justification for tax cuts, on the premise that taxes punished enterprise. Supposedly, if taxes were cut, especially taxes on capital and on income from capital, the resulting spur to economic activity would be so potent that deficits would be far less than predicted by "static" economic projections, and perhaps even pay for themselves. There have been six rounds of this experiment, from the tax cuts sponsored by Jimmy Carter in 1978 to the immense 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed by Donald Trump. In every case some economic stimulus did result, mainly from the Keynesian jolt to demand, but in every case deficits increased significantly. Conservatives simply stopped caring about deficits. The tax cuts were often inefficient as well as inequitable, since the loopholes steered investment to tax-favored uses rather than the most economically logical ones. Dozens of America's most profitable corporations paid no taxes.
Robert Bork's "antitrust paradox," holding that antitrust enforcement actually weakened competition, was used as the doctrine to sideline the Sherman and Clayton Acts. Supposedly, if government just got out of the way, market forces would remain more competitive because monopoly pricing would invite innovation and new entrants to the market. In practice, industry after industry became more heavily concentrated. Incumbents got in the habit of buying out innovators or using their market power to crush them. This pattern is especially insidious in the tech economy of platform monopolies, where giants that provide platforms, such as Google and Amazon, use their market power and superior access to customer data to out-compete rivals who use their platforms. Markets, once again, require rules beyond the benign competence of the market actors themselves. Only democratic government can set equitable rules. And when democracy falters, undemocratic governments in cahoots with corrupt private plutocrats will make the rules.
Human capital theory, another variant of neoliberal application of markets to partly social questions, justified deregulating labor markets and crushing labor unions. Unions supposedly used their power to get workers paid more than their market worth. Likewise minimum wage laws. But the era of depressed wages has actually seen a decline in rates of productivity growth. Conversely, does any serious person think that the inflated pay of the financial moguls who crashed the economy accurately reflects their contribution to economic activity? In the case of hedge funds and private equity, the high incomes of fund sponsors are the result of transfers of wealth and income from employees, other stakeholders, and operating companies to the fund managers, not the fruits of more efficient management.
There is a broad literature discrediting this body of pseudo-scholarly work in great detail. Much of neoliberalism represents the ever-reliable victory of assumption over evidence. Yet neoliberal theory lived on because it was so convenient for elites, and because of the inertial power of the intellectual capital that had been created. The well-funded neoliberal habitat has provided comfortable careers for two generations of scholars and pseudo-scholars who migrate between academia, think tanks, K Street, op-ed pages, government, Wall Street, and back again. So even if the theory has been demolished both by scholarly rebuttal and by events, it thrives in powerful institutions and among their political allies.The Practical Failure of Neoliberal Policies
Financial deregulation is neoliberalism's most palpable deregulatory failure, but far from the only one. Electricity deregulation on balance has increased monopoly power and raised costs to consumers, but has failed to offer meaningful "shopping around" opportunities to bring down prices. We have gone from regulated monopolies with predictable earnings, costs, wages, and consumer protections to deregulated monopolies or oligopolies with substantial pricing power. Since the Bell breakup, the telephone system tells a similar story of re-concentration, dwindling competition, price-gouging, and union-bashing.
Air travel has been a poster child for advocates of deregulation, but the actual record is mixed at best. Airline deregulation produced serial bankruptcies of every major U.S. airline, often at the cost of worker pay and pension funds.
Ticket prices have declined on average over the past two decades, but the traveling public suffers from a crazy quilt of fares, declining service, shrinking seats and legroom, and exorbitant penalties for the perfectly normal sin of having to change plans. Studies have shown that fares actually declined at a faster rate in the 20 years before deregulation in 1978 than in the 20 years afterward, because the prime source of greater efficiency in airline travel is the introduction of more fuel-efficient planes.
The roller-coaster experience of airline profits and losses has reduced the capacity of airlines to purchase more fuel-efficient aircraft, and the average age of the fleet keeps increasing. The use of "fortress hubs" to defend market pricing power has reduced the percentage of nonstop flights, the most efficient way to fly from one point to another.
Robert Bork's spurious arguments that antitrust enforcement hurt competition became the basis for dismantling antitrust. Massive concentration resulted. Charles Tasnadi/AP Photo
In addition to deregulation, three prime areas of practical neoliberal policies are the use of vouchers as "market-like" means to social goals, the privatization of public services, and the use of tax subsides rather than direct outlays. In every case, government revenues are involved, so this is far from a free market to begin with. But the premise is that market disciplines can achieve public purposes more efficiently than direct public provision.
The evidence provides small comfort for these claims. One core problem is that the programs invariably give too much to the for-profit middlemen at the expense of the intended beneficiaries. A related problem is that the process of using vouchers and contracts invites corruption. It is a different form of "rent-seeking" -- pursuit of monopoly profits -- than that attributed to government by public choice theorists, but corruption nonetheless. Often, direct public provision is far more transparent and accountable than a web of contractors.
A further problem is that in practice there is often far less competition than imagined, because of oligopoly power, vendor lock-in, and vendor political influence. These experiments in marketization to serve social goals do not operate in some Platonic policy laboratory, where the only objective is true market efficiency yoked to the public good. They operate in the grubby world of practical politics, where the vendors are closely allied with conservative politicians whose purposes may be to discredit social transfers entirely, or to reward corporate allies, or to benefit from kickbacks either directly or as campaign contributions.
Privatized prisons are a case in point. A few large, scandal-ridden companies have gotten most of the contracts, often through political influence. Far from bringing better quality and management efficiency, they have profited by diverting operating funds and worsening conditions that were already deplorable, and finding new ways to charge inmates higher fees for necessary services such as phone calls. To the extent that money was actually saved, most of the savings came from reducing the pay and professionalism of guards, increasing overcrowding, and decreasing already inadequate budgets for food and medical care.
A similar example is the privatization of transportation services such as highways and even parking meters. In several Midwestern states, toll roads have been sold to private vendors. The governor who makes the deal gains a temporary fiscal windfall, while drivers end up paying higher tolls often for decades. Investment bankers who broker the deal also take their cut. Some of the money does go into highway improvements, but that could have been done more efficiently in the traditional way via direct public ownership and competitive bidding.
Housing vouchers substantially reward landlords who use the vouchers to fill empty houses with poor people until the neighborhood gentrifies, at which point the owner is free to quit the program and charge market rentals. Thus public funds are used to underwrite a privately owned, quasi-social housing sector -- whose social character is only temporary. No permanent social housing is produced despite the extensive public outlay. The companion use of tax incentives to attract passive investment in affordable housing promotes economically inefficient tax shelters, and shunts public funds into the pockets of the investors -- money that might otherwise have gone directly to the housing.
The Affordable Care Act is a form of voucher. But the regulated private insurance markets in the ACA have not fully lived up to their promise, in part because of the extensive market power retained by private insurers and in part because the right has relentlessly sought to sabotage the program -- another political feedback loop. The sponsors assumed that competition would lower costs and increase consumer choice. But in too many counties, there are three or fewer competing plans, and in some cases just one.
As more insurance plans and hospital systems become for-profit, massive investment goes into such wasteful activities as manipulation of billing, "risk selection," and other gaming of the rules. Our mixed-market system of health care requires massive regulation to work with tolerable efficiency. In practice, this degenerates into an infinite regress of regulator versus commercial profit-maximizer, reminiscent of Mad magazine's "Spy versus Spy," with the industry doing end runs to Congress to further rig the rules. Straight-ahead public insurance such as Medicare is generally far more efficient.
An extensive literature has demonstrated that for-profit voucher schools do no better and often do worse than comparable public schools, and are vulnerable to multiple forms of gaming and corruption. Proprietors of voucher schools are superb at finding ways of excluding costly special-needs students, so that those costs are imposed on what remains of public schools; they excel at gaming test results. While some voucher and charter schools, especially nonprofit ones, sometimes improve on average school performance, so do many public schools. The record is also muddied by the fact that many ostensibly nonprofit schools contract out management to for-profit companies.
Tax preferences have long been used ostensibly to serve social goals. The Earned Income Tax Credit is considered one of the more successful cases of using market-like measures -- in this case a refundable tax credit -- to achieve the social goal of increasing worker take-home pay. It has also been touted as the rare case of bipartisan collaboration. Liberals get more money for workers. Conservatives get to reward the deserving poor, since the EITC is conditioned on employment. Conservatives get a further ideological win, since the EITC is effectively a wage subsidy from the government, but is experienced as a tax refund rather than a benefit of government.
Recent research, however, shows that the EITC is primarily a subsidy of low-wage employers, who are able to pay their workers a lot less than a market-clearing wage. In industries such as nursing homes or warehouses, where many workers qualified for the EITC work side by side with ones not eligible, the non-EITC workers get substandard wages. The existence of the EITC depresses the level of the wages that have to come out of the employer's pocket.Neoliberalism's Influence on Liberals
As free-market theory resurged, many moderate liberals embraced these policies. In the inflationary 1970s, regulation became a scapegoat that supposedly deterred salutary price competition. Some, such as economist Alfred Kahn, President Carter's adviser on deregulation, supported deregulation on what he saw as the merits. Other moderates supported neoliberal policies opportunistically, to curry favor with powerful industries and donors. Market-like policies were also embraced by liberals as a tactical way to find common ground with conservatives.
Several forms of deregulation -- of airlines, trucking, and electric power -- began not under Reagan but under Carter. Financial deregulation took off under Bill Clinton. Democratic presidents, as much as Republicans, promoted trade deals that undermined social standards. Cost-benefit analysis by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) was more of a choke point under Barack Obama than under George W. Bush.
"Command and control" became an all-purpose pejorative for disparaging perfectly sensible and efficient regulation. "Market-like" became a fashionable concept, not just on the free-market right but on the moderate left. Cass Sunstein, who served as Obama's anti-regulation czar,uses the example of "nudges" as a more market-like and hence superior alternative to direct regulation, though with rare exceptions their impact is trivial. Moreover, nudges only work in tandem with regulation.
There are indeed some interventionist policies that use market incentives to serve social goals. But contrary to free-market theory, the market-like incentives first require substantial regulation and are not a substitute for it. A good example is the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, which used tradable emission rights to cut the output of sulfur dioxide, the cause of acid rain. This was supported by both the George H.W. Bush administration and by leading Democrats. But before the trading regime could work, Congress first had to establish permissible ceilings on sulfur dioxide output -- pure command and control.
There are many other instances, such as nutrition labeling, truth-in-lending, and disclosure of EPA gas mileage results, where the market-like premise of a better-informed consumer complements command regulation but is no substitute for it. Nearly all of the increase in fuel efficiency, for example, is the result of command regulations that require auto fleets to hit a gas mileage target. The fact that EPA gas mileage figures are prominently disclosed on new car stickers may have modest influence, but motor fuels are so underpriced that car companies have success selling gas-guzzlers despite the consumer labeling.
Bill Clinton and his Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, were big promoters of financial deregulation.
Politically, whatever rationale there was for liberals to make common ground with libertarians is now largely gone. The authors of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made no attempt to meet Democrats partway; they excluded the opposition from the legislative process entirely. This was opportunistic tax cutting for elites, pure and simple. The right today also abandoned the quest for a middle ground on environmental policy, on anti-poverty policy, on health policy -- on virtually everything. Neoliberal ideology did its historic job of weakening intellectual and popular support for the proposition that affirmative government can better the lives of citizens and that the Democratic Party is a reliable steward of that social compact. Since Reagan, the right's embrace of the free market has evolved from partly principled idealism into pure opportunism and obstruction.Neoliberalism and Hyper-Globalism
The post-1990 rules of globalization, supported by conservatives and moderate liberals alike, are the quintessence of neoliberalism. At Bretton Woods in 1944, the use of fixed exchange rates and controls on speculative private capital, plus the creation of the IMFand World Bank, were intended to allow member countries to practice national forms of managed capitalism, insulated from the destructive and deflationary influences of short-term speculative private capital flows. As doctrine and power shifted in the 1970s, the IMF, the World Bank, and later the WTO, which replaced the old GATT, mutated into their ideological opposite. Rather than instruments of support for mixed national economies, they became enforcers of neoliberal policies.
The standard package of the "Washington Consensus" of approved policies for developing nations included demands that they open their capital markets to speculative private finance, as well as cutting taxes on capital, weakening social transfers, and gutting labor regulation and public ownership. But private capital investment in poor countries proved to be fickle. The result was often excessive inflows during the boom part of the cycle and punitive withdrawals during the bust -- the opposite of the patient, long-term development capital that these countries needed and that was provided by the World Bank of an earlier era. During the bust phase, the IMF typically imposes even more stringent neoliberal demands as the price of financial bailouts, including perverse budgetary austerity, supposedly to restore the confidence of the very speculative capital markets responsible for the boom-bust cycle.
Dozens of nations, from Latin America to East Asia, went through this cycle of boom, bust, and then IMF pile-on. Greece is still suffering the impact. After 1990, hyper-globalism also included trade treaties whose terms favored multinational corporations. Traditionally, trade agreements had been mainly about reciprocal reductions of tariffs. Nations were free to have whatever brand of regulation, public investment, or social policies they chose. With the advent of the WTO, many policies other than tariffs were branded as trade distorting, even as takings without compensation. Trade deals were used to give foreign capital free access and to dismantle national regulation and public ownership. Special courts were created in which foreign corporations and investors could do end runs around national authorities to challenge regulation for impeding commerce.
At first, the sponsors of the new trade regime tried to claim the successful economies of East Asia as evidence of the success of the neoliberal recipe. Supposedly, these nations had succeeded by pursuing "export-led growth," exposing their domestic economies to salutary competition. But these claims were soon exposed as the opposite of what had actually occurred. In fact, Japan, South Korea, smaller Asian nations, and above all China had thrived by rejecting every major tenet of neoliberalism. Their capital markets were tightly regulated and insulated from foreign speculative capital. They developed world-class industries as state-led cartels that favored domestic production and supply. East Asia got into trouble only when it followed IMF dictates to throw open capital markets, and in the aftermath they recovered by closing those markets and assembling war chests of hard currency so that they'd never again have to go begging to the IMF. Enthusiasts of hyper-globalization also claimed that it benefited poor countries by increasing export opportunities, but as the success of East Asia shows, there is more than one way to boost exports -- and many poorer countries suffered under the terms of the global neoliberal regime.
Nor was the damage confined to the developing world. As the work of Harvard economist Dani Rodrik has demonstrated, democracy requires a polity. For better or for worse, the polity and democratic citizenship are national. By enhancing the global market at the expense of the democratic state, the current brand of hyper-globalization deliberately weakens the capacity of states to regulate markets, and weakens democracy itself.When Do Markets Work?
The failure of neoliberalism as economic and social policy does not mean that markets never work. A command economy is even more utopian and perverse than a neoliberal one. The practical quest is for an efficient and equitable middle ground.
The neoliberal story of how the economy operates assumes a largely frictionless marketplace, where prices are set by supply and demand, and the price mechanism allocates resources to their optimal use in the economy as a whole. For this discipline to work as advertised, however, there can be no market power, competition must be plentiful, sellers and buyers must have roughly equal information, and there can be no significant externalities. Much of the 20th century was practical proof that these conditions did not describe a good part of the actual economy. And if markets priced things wrong, the market system did not aggregate to an efficient equilibrium, and depressions could become self-deepening. As Keynes demonstrated, only a massive jolt of government spending could restart the engines, even if market pricing was partly violated in the process.
Nonetheless, in many sectors of the economy, the process of buying and selling is close enough to the textbook conditions of perfect competition that the price system works tolerably well. Supermarkets, for instance, deliver roughly accurate prices because of the consumer's freedom and knowledge to shop around. Likewise much of retailing. However, when we get into major realms of the economy with positive or negative externalities, such as education and health, markets are not sufficient. And in other major realms, such as pharmaceuticals, where corporations use their political power to rig the terms of patents, the market doesn't produce a cure.
The basic argument of neoliberalism can fit on a bumper sticker. Markets work; governments don't . If you want to embellish that story, there are two corollaries: Markets embody human freedom. And with markets, people basically get what they deserve; to alter market outcomes is to spoil the poor and punish the productive. That conclusion logically flows from the premise that markets are efficient. Milton Friedman became rich, famous, and influential by teasing out the several implications of these simple premises.
It is much harder to articulate the case for a mixed economy than the case for free markets, precisely because the mixed economy is mixed. The rebuttal takes several paragraphs. The more complex story holds that markets are substantially efficient in some realms but far from efficient in others, because of positive and negative externalities, the tendency of financial markets to create cycles of boom and bust, the intersection of self-interest and corruption, the asymmetry of information between company and consumer, the asymmetry of power between corporation and employee, the power of the powerful to rig the rules, and the fact that there are realms of human life (the right to vote, human liberty, security of one's person) that should not be marketized.
And if markets are not perfectly efficient, then distributive questions are partly political choices. Some societies pay pre-K teachers the minimum wage as glorified babysitters. Others educate and compensate them as professionals. There is no "correct" market-derived wage, because pre-kindergarten is a social good and the issue of how to train and compensate teachers is a social choice, not a market choice. The same is true of the other human services, including medicine. Nor is there a theoretically correct set of rules for patents, trademarks, and copyrights. These are politically derived, either balancing the interests of innovation with those of diffusion -- or being politically captured by incumbent industries.
Governments can in principle improve on market outcomes via regulation, but that fact is complicated by the risk of regulatory capture. So another issue that arises is market failure versus polity failure, which brings us back to the urgency of strong democracy and effective government.After Neoliberalism
The political reversal of neoliberalism can only come through practical politics and policies that demonstrate how government often can serve citizens more equitably and efficiently than markets. Revision of theory will take care of itself. There is no shortage of dissenting theorists and empirical policy researchers whose scholarly work has been vindicated by events. What they need is not more theory but more influence, both in the academy and in the corridors of power. They are available to advise a new progressive administration, if that administration can get elected and if it refrains from hiring neoliberal advisers.
There are also some relatively new areas that invite policy innovation. These include regulation of privacy rights versus entrepreneurial liberties in the digital realm; how to think of the internet as a common carrier; how to update competition and antitrust policy as platform monopolies exert new forms of market power; how to modernize labor-market policy in the era of the gig economy; and the role of deeper income supplements as machines replace human workers.
The failed neoliberal experiment also makes the case not just for better-regulated capitalism but for direct public alternatives as well. Banking, done properly, especially the provision of mortgage finance, is close to a public utility. Much of it could be public. A great deal of research is done more honestly and more cost-effectively in public, peer-reviewed institutions such as the NIH than by a substantially corrupt private pharmaceutical industry.
Social housing often is more cost-effective than so-called public-private partnerships. Public power is more efficient to generate, less prone to monopolistic price-gouging, and friendlier to the needed green transition than private power. The public option in health care is far more efficient than the current crazy quilt in which each layer of complexity adds opacity and cost. Public provision does require public oversight, but that is more straightforward and transparent than the byzantine dance of regulation and counter-regulation.
The two other benefits of direct public provision are that the public gets direct evidence of government delivering something of value, and that the countervailing power of democracy to harness markets is enhanced. A mixed economy depends above all on a strong democracy -- one even stronger than the democracy that succumbed to the corrupting influence of economic elites and their neoliberal intellectual allies beginning half a century ago. The antidote to the resurrected neoliberal fable is the resurrection of democracy -- strong enough to tame the market in a way that tames it for keeps.
Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, and professor at Brandeis University's Heller School. His latest book is The Stakes: 2020 and the Survival of American Democracy . In addition to writing for the Prospect, he writes for HuffPost, The Boston Globe, and The New York Review of Books.
Read the original article at Prospect.org.
Used with the permission. © The American Prospect, Prospect.org, 2019. All rights reserved.
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Sep 17, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne -> anne... , September 15, 2019 at 02:32 PMCorrecting my punctuation:likbez -> anne... , September 16, 2019 at 09:32 PM
Now and again, both in professional political writings and here as I read, the term Trotskyism is used but though I have looked up the term a few times I have no real idea what it is supposed to mean. Possibly a reader could explain. After all, the term tankie was explained by a prominent economist at the University of California only a few days ago and I realized the term was absurd, simply an empty personal insult. Possibly Trotskyism is as empty.Hi Anne,
You are in a bad position. Generally this needs some acquaintance with Marxism as Trotskyism is one of the most influential "deviation" from Classic Marxism (Bolshevism was yet another).
Both used to believe in the special role of "proletariat" as the new class that will depose older ruling classes all over the globe. Both believed in "class struggle" as the main force of historical development of humanity. One of the key ideas of Trotskyism was the idea of Permanent revolution -- forceful introduction of socialist regimes using subversion, external financial injections, and armed struggle (kind of "regime change" strategy that the USA practices now for introduction of neoliberal regimes.)
The idea of class struggle transposed as the struggle within the elite and between states for supremacy was borrowed by the US turncoats from Trotskyism (see for example -- renegade Trotskyite James Burnham book THE MACHIAVELLIANS: THE DEFENDERS OF FREEDOM ) who later formed the core of the neocon movement.
Still you might try to read some sources on the WEB like:
Or something from one of the few remaining Forth International (Trotskyite) sites like wsws.org:
Sep 13, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org
One of the crucial lessons we often fail to impart to our children is that life is not a zero-sum game; that is, the success of another child is not a corresponding failure for me. Children ought to learn how to help one another so they can take joy in crossing the finish line together, building closeness instead of separation, segregation and adversarialism.
And the incessant use of digital media often exacerbates this development.
In a society where we are rewarded for thinking about ourselves first, we disconnect from one another. Just go to the mall and look for shopping carts and trash strewn across the parking lot, oversized trucks and SUVs parked across multiple parking spots, non-handicap vehicles in handicap spots and cars parked in dedicated motorcycle spaces. No consideration for others.
Gone are the days of compassionate conservatism. "America first" finds a ready breeding ground in this "me first" mentality. It is finally time to catch up for those left behind by social progress made in the name of equality. After all, they too are better than others, better than those abroad and better than those from abroad. The new aMEricaFIRST echoes that sentiment, segregates American society and separates us from friends and allies around the world.
How can we get our compassion back? How can we reconnect with each other and engage with the world? At the personal level, take small steps and start a conversation with someone different from you, expose yourself to the diversity that makes this country so unique–and involve your children in that exposure to pluralism, normalizing it, modeling it. Put yourself in the shoes of someone less fortunate and find the "things that unite."
At the social level, we – including our children – must recognize that the rights and freedoms we cherish and enjoy also come with responsibilities. Success in America has focused on maximizing individual freedoms limited only when their exercise encroaches on the freedoms of others. Today, we need to reconnect and rebuild our communities by focusing on the needs of others. To achieve this, let's reconsider the idea of mandatory public service: citizens serving others in need. A public service requirement between the end of high school and the beginning of college – fulfilled in many ways, including such service opportunities as AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, Meals on Wheels or other freely helpful initiatives – brings those in service in contact with those from whom they have been disconnected, both at home and abroad. Only through connection will we regain compassion and only then will we be able to make America great again. More articles by: Volker Franke
Sep 11, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Martin , Sep 11 2019 19:18 utc | 19The Pope didn't seem too put out when faced with a long list of accusations against him from American Catholics as he was flying from Rome to Mozambique. He said he was honored to be attacked by them.
The book 'How America Wanted to Change the Pope' explores the supposed efforts of the conservative Catholic opposition in the US to launch a "coup d'état" against Francis. A copy was given to the pontiff by the author Nicolas Seneze, a journalist from France's Catholic newspaper La Croix, who was on board the papal plane Wednesday.
"For me it is an honor that Americans attack me," the pope quipped as he received the book, which he had apparently heard about and wanted to procure.He joked that the book about his critics "will be a bombshell."
But Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni attempted to deflate tensions, clarifying that the comments were made informally. He said Francis "always considers it an honor to be criticized," especially when it comes from "authoritative voices" or, as in this case, "an important nation."
Sep 09, 2019 | www.oftwominds.com
Either we root out every last source of rot by investigating, indicting and jailing every wrong-doer and everyone who conspired to protect the guilty in the Epstein case, or America will have sealed its final fall.
When you discover rot in an apparently sound structure, the first question is: how far has the rot penetrated? If the rot has reached the foundation and turned it to mush, the structure is one wind-storm from collapse.
How deep has the rot of corruption, fraud, abuse of power, betrayal of the public trust, blatant criminality and insiders protecting the guilty penetrated America's key public and private institutions? It's difficult to tell, as the law-enforcement and security agencies are themselves hopelessly compromised.
If you doubt this, then please explain how 1) the NSA, CIA and FBI didn't know what Jeffrey Epstein was up to, and with whom; 2) Epstein was free to pursue his sexual exploitation of minors for years prior to his wrist-slap conviction and for years afterward; 3) Epstein, the highest profile and most at-risk prisoner in the nation, was left alone and the security cameras recording his cell and surroundings were "broken."
If this all strikes you as evidence that America's security and law-enforcement institutions are functioning at a level that's above reproach, then 1) you're a well-paid shill who's protecting the guilty lest your own misdeeds come to light or 2) your consumption of mind-bending meds is off the charts.
How deep has the rot gone in America's ruling elite? One way to measure the depth of the rot is to ask how whistleblowers who've exposed the ugly realities of insider dealing, malfeasance, tax evasion, cover-ups, etc. have fared.
America's ruling class has crucified whistleblowers , especially those uncovering fraud in the defense (military-industrial-security) and financial (tax evasion) sectors and blatant violations of public trust, civil liberties and privacy.
Needless to say, a factual accounting of corruption, cronyism, incompetence, self-serving exploitation of the many by the few, etc. is not welcome in America. Look at the dearth of investigative resources America's corporate media is devoting to digging down to the deepest levels of rot in the Epstein case.
The closer wrong-doing and wrong-doers are to protected power-elites, the less attention the mass media devotes to them.
... ... ...
Here are America's media, law enforcement/security agencies and "leadership" class: they speak no evil, see no evil and hear no evil, in the misguided belief that their misdirection, self-service and protection of the guilty will make us buy the narrative that America's ruling elite and all the core institutions they manage aren't rotten to the foundations.
Either we root out every last source of rot by investigating, indicting and jailing every wrong-doer and everyone who conspired to protect the guilty in the Epstein case, or America will have sealed its final fall.
Sep 04, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
United Airline and American Airlines further prolonged the grounding of their Boeing 737 MAX airplanes. They now schedule the plane's return to the flight line in December. But it is likely that the grounding will continue well into the next year.
After Boeing's shabby design and lack of safety analysis of its Maneuver Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) led to the death of 347 people, the grounding of the type and billions of losses, one would expect the company to show some decency and humility. Unfortunately Boeing behavior demonstrates none.
There is still little detailed information on how Boeing will fix MCAS. Nothing was said by Boeing about the manual trim system of the 737 MAX that does not work when it is needed . The unprotected rudder cables of the plane do not meet safety guidelines but were still certified. The planes flight control computers can be overwhelmed by bad data and a fix will be difficult to implement. Boeing continues to say nothing about these issues.
International flight safety regulators no longer trust the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which failed to uncover those problems when it originally certified the new type. The FAA was also the last regulator to ground the plane after two 737 MAX had crashed. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) asked Boeing to explain and correct five major issues it identified. Other regulators asked additional questions.
Boeing needs to regain the trust of the airlines, pilots and passengers to be able to again sell those planes. Only full and detailed information can achieve that. But the company does not provide any.
As Boeing sells some 80% of its airplanes abroad it needs the good will of the international regulators to get the 737 MAX back into the air. This makes the arrogance it displayed in a meeting with those regulators inexplicable:Friction between Boeing Co. and international air-safety authorities threatens a new delay in bringing the grounded 737 MAX fleet back into service, according to government and pilot union officials briefed on the matter.
The latest complication in the long-running saga, these officials said, stems from a Boeing briefing in August that was cut short by regulators from the U.S., Europe, Brazil and elsewhere, who complained that the plane maker had failed to provide technical details and answer specific questions about modifications in the operation of MAX flight-control computers.
The fate of Boeing's civil aircraft business hangs on the re-certification of the 737 MAX. The regulators convened an international meeting to get their questions answered and Boeing arrogantly showed up without having done its homework. The regulators saw that as an insult. Boeing was sent back to do what it was supposed to do in the first place: provide details and analysis that prove the safety of its planes.
What did the Boeing managers think those regulatory agencies are? Hapless lapdogs like the FAA managers`who signed off on Boeing 'features' even after their engineers told them that these were not safe?
Buried in the Wall Street Journal piece quoted above is another little shocker:In recent weeks, Boeing and the FAA identified another potential flight-control computer risk requiring additional software changes and testing, according to two of the government and pilot officials.
The new issue must be going beyond the flight control computer (FCC) issues the FAA identified in June .
Boeing's original plan to fix the uncontrolled activation of MCAS was to have both FCCs active at the same time and to switch MCAS off when the two computers disagree. That was already a huge change in the general architecture which so far consisted of one active and one passive FCC system that could be switched over when a failure occurred.
Any additional software changes will make the issue even more complicated. The 80286 Intel processors the FCC software is running on is limited in its capacity. All the extras procedures Boeing now will add to them may well exceed the system's capabilities.
Changing software in a delicate environment like a flight control computer is extremely difficult. There will always be surprising side effects or regressions where already corrected errors unexpectedly reappear.
The old architecture was possible because the plane could still be flown without any computer. It was expected that the pilots would detect a computer error and would be able to intervene. The FAA did not require a high design assurance level (DAL) for the system. The MCAS accidents showed that a software or hardware problem can now indeed crash a 737 MAX plane. That changes the level of scrutiny the system will have to undergo.
All procedures and functions of the software will have to be tested in all thinkable combinations to ensure that they will not block or otherwise influence each other. This will take months and there is a high chance that new issues will appear during these tests. They will require more software changes and more testing.
Flight safety regulators know of these complexities. That is why they need to take a deep look into such systems. That Boeing's management was not prepared to answer their questions shows that the company has not learned from its failure. Its culture is still one of finance orientated arrogance.
Building safe airplanes requires engineers who know that they may make mistakes and who have the humility to allow others to check and correct their work. It requires open communication about such issues. Boeing's say-nothing strategy will prolong the grounding of its planes. It will increases the damage to Boeing's financial situation and reputation.
--- Previous Moon of Alabama posts on Boeing 737 MAX issues:
- Boeing, The FAA, And Why Two 737 MAX Planes Crashed - March 12 2019
- Flawed Safety Analysis, Failed Oversight - Why Two 737 MAX Planes Crashed - March 17 2019
- Regulators Knew Of 737 MAX Trim Problems - Certification Demanded Training That Boeing Failed To Deliver - March 29 2019
- Ethiopian Airline Crash - Boeing Advice To 737 MAX Pilots Was Flawed - April 9 2019
- Boeing 737 MAX Crash Reveals Severe Problem With Older Boeing 737 NGs - May 25 2019
- Boeing's Software Fix For The 737 MAX Problem Overwhelms The Plane's Computer - June 27 2019
- EASA Tells Boeing To Fix 5 Major 737 MAX Issues - July 7 2019
- The New Delay Of Boeing's 737 MAX Return Will Not Be The Last One - July 15 2019
- 737 MAX Rudder Control Does Not Meet Safety Guidelines - It Was Still Certified - July 28 2019
Posted by b on September 3, 2019 at 18:05 UTC | Permalink
Choderlos de Laclos , Sep 3 2019 18:15 utc | 1"The 80286 Intel processors the FCC software is running on is limited in its capacity." You must be joking, right? If this is the case, the problem is unfixable: you can't find two competent software engineers who can program these dinosaur 16-bit processors.b , Sep 3 2019 18:22 utc | 2You must be joking, right? If this is the case, the problem is unfixable: you can't find two competent software engineers who can program these dinosaur 16-bit processors.Meshpal , Sep 3 2019 18:24 utc | 3
One of the two is writing this.
Half-joking aside. The 737 MAX FCC runs on 80286 processors. There are ten thousands of programmers available who can program them though not all are qualified to write real-time systems. That resource is not a problem. The processors inherent limits are one.Thanks b for the fine 737 max update. Others news sources seem to have dropped coverage. It is a very big deal that this grounding has lasted this long. Things are going to get real bad for Boeing if this bird does not get back in the air soon. In any case their credibility is tarnished if not down right trashed.BraveNewWorld , Sep 3 2019 18:35 utc | 4@1 Choderlos de LaclosChoderlos de Laclos , Sep 3 2019 18:52 utc | 5
What ever software language these are programmed in (my guess is C) the compilers still exist for it and do the translation from the human readable code to the machine code for you. Of course the code could be assembler but writing assembly code for a 286 is far easier than writing it for say an i9 becuase the CPU is so much simpler and has a far smaller set of instructions to work with.@b: It was a hyperbole. I might be another one, but left them behind as fast as I could. The last time I had to deal with it was an embedded system in 1998-ish. But I am also retiring, and so are thousands of others. The problems with support of a legacy system are a legend.psychohistorian , Sep 3 2019 18:56 utc | 6Thanks for the demise of Boeing update bkarlof1 , Sep 3 2019 19:13 utc | 7
I commented when you first started writing about this that it would take Boeing down and still believe that to be true. To the extent that Boeing is stonewalling the international safety regulators says to me that upper management and big stock holders are being given time to minimize their exposure before the axe falls.
I also want to add that Boeing's focus on profit over safety is not restricted to the 737 Max but undoubtedly permeates the manufacture of spare parts for the rest of the their plane line and all else they make.....I have no intention of ever flying in another Boeing airplane, given the attitude shown by Boeing leadership.
This is how private financialization works in the Western world. Their bottom line is profit, not service to the flying public. It is in line with the recent public statement by the CEO's from the Business Roundtable that said that they were going to focus more on customer satisfaction over profit but their actions continue to say profit is their primary motive.
The God of Mammon private finance religion can not end soon enough for humanity's sake. It is not like we all have to become China but their core public finance example is well worth following.So again, Boeing mgmt. mirrors its Neoliberal government officials when it comes to arrogance and impudence. IMO, Boeing shareholders's hair ought to be on fire given their BoD's behavior and getting ready to litigate.bjd , Sep 3 2019 19:22 utc | 8
As b notes, Boeing's international credibility's hanging by a very thin thread. A year from now, Boeing could very well see its share price deeply dive into the Penny Stock category--its current P/E is 41.5:1 which is massively overpriced. Boeing Bombs might come to mean something vastly different from its initial meaning.Arrogance? When the money keeps flowing in anyway, it comes naturally.What did I just read , Sep 3 2019 19:49 utc | 10Such seemingly archaic processors are the norm in aerospace. If the planes flight characteristics had been properly engineered from the start the processor wouldn't be an issue. You can't just spray perfume on a garbage pile and call it a rose.VietnamVet , Sep 3 2019 20:31 utc | 12In the neoliberal world order governments, regulators and the public are secondary to corporate profits. This is the same belief system that is suspending the British Parliament to guarantee the chaos of a no deal Brexit. The irony is that globalist, Joe Biden's restart the Cold War and nationalist Donald Trump's Trade Wars both assure that foreign regulators will closely scrutinize the safety of the 737 Max. Even if ignored by corporate media and cleared by the FAA to fly in the USA, Boeing and Wall Street's Dow Jones average are cooked gooses with only 20% of the market. Taking the risk of flying the 737 Max on their family vacation or to their next business trip might even get the credentialed class to realize that their subservient service to corrupt Plutocrats is deadly in the long term.jared , Sep 3 2019 20:55 utc | 14It doesn't get any TBTF'er than Boing. Bail-out is only phone-call away. With down-turn looming, the line is forming.Piotr Berman , Sep 3 2019 21:11 utc | 15Ken Murray , Sep 3 2019 21:12 utc | 16"The latest complication in the long-running saga, these officials said, stems from a Boeing BA, -2.66% briefing in August that was cut short by regulators from the U.S., Europe, Brazil and elsewhere, who complained that the plane maker had failed to provide technical details and answer specific questions about modifications in the operation of MAX flight-control computers."
It seems to me that Boeing had no intention to insult anybody, but it has an impossible task. After decades of applying duct tape and baling wire with much success, they finally designed an unfixable plane, and they can either abandon this line of business (narrow bodied airliners) or start working on a new design grounded in 21st century technologies.Boeing's military sales are so much more significant and important to them, they are just ignoring/down-playing their commercial problem with the 737 MAX. Follow the real money.Arata , Sep 3 2019 21:57 utc | 17That is unblievable FLight Control comptuer is based on 80286! A control system needs Real Time operation, at least some pre-emptive task operation, in terms of milisecond or microsecond. What ever way you program 80286 you can not achieve RT operation on 80286. I do not think that is the case. My be 80286 is doing some pripherial work, other than control.Bemildred , Sep 3 2019 22:11 utc | 18It is quite likely (IMHO) that they are no longer able to provide the requested information, but of course they cannot say that.Peter AU 1 , Sep 3 2019 22:14 utc | 19
I once wrote a keyboard driver for an 80286, part of an editor, in assembler, on my first PC type computer, I still have it around here somewhere I think, the keyboard driver, but I would be rusty like the Titanic when it comes to writing code. I wrote some things in DEC assembler too, on VAXen.Arata 16Bemildred , Sep 3 2019 22:17 utc | 20
The spoiler system is fly by wire.arata @16: 80286 does interrupts just fine, but you have to grok asynchronous operation, and most coders don't really, I see that every day in Linux and my browser. I wish I could get that box back, it had DOS, you could program on the bare wires, but God it was slow.Tod , Sep 3 2019 22:28 utc | 21Boeing will just need to press the TURBO button on the 286 processor. Problem solved.karlof1 , Sep 3 2019 22:43 utc | 23Ken Murray @15--Godfree Roberts , Sep 3 2019 22:56 utc | 24
Boeing recently lost a $6+Billion weapons contract thanks to its similar Q&A in that realm of its business. Its annual earnings are due out in October. Plan to short-sell soon!I am surprised that none of the coverage has mentioned the fact that, if China's CAAC does not sign off on the mods, it will cripple, if not doom the MAX.Arioch , Sep 3 2019 23:18 utc | 25
I am equally surprised that we continue to sabotage China's export leader, as the WSJ reports today: "China's Huawei Technologies Co. accused the U.S. of "using every tool at its disposal" to disrupt its business, including launching cyberattacks on its networks and instructing law enforcement to "menace" its employees.
The telecommunications giant also said law enforcement in the U.S. have searched, detained and arrested Huawei employees and its business partners, and have sent FBI agents to the homes of its workers to pressure them to collect information on behalf of the U.S."
https://www.wsj.com/articles/huawei-accuses-the-u-s-of-cyberattacks-threatening-its-employees-11567500484?mod=hp_lead_pos2I wonder how much blind trust in Boeing is intertwined into the fabric of civic aviation all around the world.Miss Lacy , Sep 3 2019 23:19 utc | 26
I mean something like this: Boeing publishes some research into failure statistics, solid materials aging or something. One that is really hard and expensive to proceed with. Everything take the results for granted without trying to independently reproduce and verify, because The Boeing!
Some later "derived" researches being made, upon the foundation of some prior works *including* that old Boeing research. Then FAA and similar company institutions around the world make some official regulations and guidelines deriving from the research which was in part derived form original Boeing work. Then insurance companies calculate their tarifs and rate plans, basing their estimation upon those "government standards", and when governments determine taxation levels they use that data too. Then airline companies and airliner leasing companies make their business plans, take huge loans in the banks (and banks do make their own plans expecting those loans to finally be paid back), and so on and so forth, building the cards-deck house, layer after layer.
And among the very many of the cornerstones - there would be dust covered and god-forgotten research made by Boeing 10 or maybe 20 years ago when no one even in drunk delirium could ever imagine questioning Boeing's verdicts upon engineering and scientific matters.
Now, the longevity of that trust is slowly unraveled. Like, the so universally trusted 737NG generation turned out to be inherently unsafe, and while only pilots knew it before, and even of them - only most curious and pedantic pilots, today it becomes public knowledge that 737NG are tainted.
Now, when did this corruption started? Wheat should be some deadline cast into the past, that since the day every other technical data coming from Boeing should be considered unreliable unless passing full-fledged independent verification? Should that day be somewhere in 2000-s? 1990-s? Maybe even 1970-s?
And ALL THE BODY of civic aviation industry knowledge that was accumulated since that date can NO MORE BE TRUSTED and should be almost scrapped and re-researched new! ALL THE tacit INPUT that can be traced back to Boeing and ALL THE DERIVED KNOWLEDGE now has to be verified in its entirety.Boeing is backstopped by the Murkan MIC, which is to say the US taxpayer. Until the lawsuits become too enormous. I wonder how much that will cost. And speaking of rigged markets - why do ya suppose that Trumpilator et al have been so keen to make huge sales to the Saudis, etc. etc. ? Ya don't suppose they had an inkling of trouble in the wind do ya? Speaking of insiders, how many million billions do ya suppose is being made in the Wall Street "trade war" roller coaster by peeps, munchkins not muppets, who have access to the Tweeter-in-Chief?C I eh? , Sep 3 2019 23:25 utc | 27@6 psychohistorianLochearn , Sep 3 2019 23:45 utc | 30I commented when you first started writing about this that it would take Boeing down and still believe that to be true. To the extent that Boeing is stonewalling the international safety regulators says to me that upper management and big stock holders are being given time to minimize their exposure before the axe falls.
Have you considered the costs of restructuring versus breaking apart Boeing and selling it into little pieces; to the owners specifically?
The MIC is restructuring itself - by first creating the political conditions to make the transformation highly profitable. It can only be made highly profitable by forcing the public to pay the associated costs of Rape and Pillage Incorporated.
Military Industrial Complex welfare programs, including wars in Syria and Yemen, are slowly winding down. We are about to get a massive bill from the financiers who already own everything in this sector, because what they have left now is completely unsustainable, with or without a Third World War.
It is fine that you won't fly Boeing but that is not the point. You may not ever fly again since air transit is subsidized at every level and the US dollar will no longer be available to fund the world's air travel infrastructure.
You will instead be paying for the replacement of Boeing and seeing what google is planning it may not be for the renewal of the airline business but rather for dedicated ground transportation, self driving cars and perhaps 'aerospace' defense forces, thank you Russia for setting the trend.As readers may remember I made a case study of Boeing for a fairly recent PHD. The examiners insisted that this case study be taken out because it was "speculative." I had forecast serious problems with the 787 and the 737 MAX back in 2012. I still believe the 787 is seriously flawed and will go the way of the MAX. I came to admire this once brilliant company whose work culminated in the superb 777.dus7 , Sep 3 2019 23:53 utc | 32
America really did make some excellent products in the 20th century - with the exception of cars. Big money piled into GM from the early 1920s, especially the ultra greedy, quasi fascist Du Pont brothers, with the result that GM failed to innovate. It produced beautiful cars but technically they were almost identical to previous models.
The only real innovation over 40 years was automatic transmission. Does this sound reminiscent of the 737 MAX? What glued together GM for more than thirty years was the brilliance of CEO Alfred Sloan who managed to keep the Du Ponts (and J P Morgan) more or less happy while delegating total responsibility for production to divisional managers responsible for the different GM brands. When Sloan went the company started falling apart and the memoirs of bad boy John DeLorean testify to the complete disfunctionality of senior management.
At Ford the situation was perhaps even worse in the 1960s and 1970s. Management was at war with the workers, faulty transmissions were knowingly installed. All this is documented in an excellent book by ex-Ford supervisor Robert Dewar in his book "A Savage Factory."Well, the first thing that came to mind upon reading about Boeing's apparent arrogance overseas - silly, I know - was that Boeing may be counting on some weird Trump sanctions for anyone not cooperating with the big important USian corporation! The U.S. has influence on European and many other countries, but it can only be stretched so far, and I would guess messing with Euro/internation airline regulators, especially in view of the very real fatal accidents with the 737MAX, would be too far.david , Sep 4 2019 0:09 utc | 34Please read the following article to get further info about how the 5 big Funds that hold 67% of Boeing stocks are working hard with the big banks to keep the stock high. Meanwhile Boeing is also trying its best to blackmail US taxpayers through Pentagon, for example, by pretending to walk away from a competitive bidding contract because it wants the Air Force to provide better cost formula.chu teh , Sep 4 2019 0:13 utc | 36
So basically, Boeing is being kept afloat by US taxpayers because it is "too big to fail" and an important component of Dow. Please tell. Who is the biggest suckers here?re Piotr Berman | Sep 3 2019 21:11 utc [I have a tiny bit of standing in this matter based on experience with an amazingly similar situation that has not heretofore been mentioned. More at end. Thus I offer my opinion.] Indeed, an impossible task to design a workable answer and still maintain the fiction that 737MAX is a hi-profit-margin upgrade requiring minimal training of already-trained 737-series pilots , either male or female. Turning-off autopilot to bypass runaway stabilizer necessitates : Jen , Sep 4 2019 0:20 utc | 37
the earlier 737-series "rollercoaster" procedure to overcome too-high aerodynamic forces must be taught and demonstrated as a memory item to all pilots.
The procedure was designed for early Model 737-series, not the 737MAX which has uniquely different center-of-gravity and pitch-up problem requiring MCAS to auto-correct, especially on take-off.  but the "rollercoaster" procedure does not work at all altitudes.
It causes aircraft to lose some altitude and, therefore, requires at least [about] 7,000-feet above-ground clearance to avoid ground contact. [This altitude loss consumed by the procedure is based on alleged reports of simulator demonstrations. There seems to be no known agreement on the actual amount of loss].  The physical requirements to perform the "rollercoaster" procedure were established at a time when female pilots were rare.
Any 737MAX pilots, male or female, will have to pass new physical requirements demonstrating actual conditions on newly-designed flight simulators that mimic the higher load requirements of the 737MAX . Such new standards will also have to compensate for left vs right-handed pilots because the manual-trim wheel is located between the .pilot/copilot seats.
Now where/when has a similar situation occurred? I.e., wherein a Federal regulator agency [FAA] allowed a vendor [Boeing] to claim that a modified product did not need full inspection/review to get agency certification of performance [airworthiness]. As you may know, 2 working, nuclear, power plants were forced to shut down and be decommissioned when, in 2011, 2 newly-installed, critical components in each plant were discovered to be defective, beyond repair and not replaceable. These power plants were each producing over 1,000 megawatts of power for over 20 years. In short, the failed components were modifications of the original, successful design that claimed to need only a low-level of Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversight and approval. The mods were, in fact, new and untried and yet only tested by computer modeling and theoretical estimations based on experience with smaller/different designs.
<<< The NRC had not given full inspection/oversight to the new units because of manufacturer/operator claims that the changes were not significant. The NRC did not verify the veracity of those claims. >>>
All 4 components [2 required in each plant] were essentially heat-exchangers weighing 640 tons each, having 10,000 tubes carrying radioactive water surrounded by [transferring their heat to] a separate flow of "clean" water. The tubes were progressively damaged and began leaking. The new design failed. It can not be fixed. Thus, both plants of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station are now a complete loss and await dismantling [as the courts will decide who pays for the fiasco].In my mind, the fact that Boeing transferred its head office from Seattle (where the main manufacturing and presumable the main design and engineering functions are based) to Chicago (centre of the neoliberal economic universe with the University of Chicago being its central shrine of worship, not to mention supply of future managers and administrators) in 1997 says much about the change in corporate culture and values from a culture that emphasised technical and design excellence, deliberate redundancies in essential functions (in case of emergencies or failures of core functions), consistently high standards and care for the people who adhered to these principles, to a predatory culture in which profits prevail over people and performance.Lochearn , Sep 4 2019 0:22 utc | 38
Phew! I barely took a breath there! :-)@ 32 davidjo6pac , Sep 4 2019 0:39 utc | 40
Good article. Boeing is, or used to be, America's biggest manufacturing export. So you are right it cannot be allowed to fail. Boeing is also a manufacturer of military aircraft. The fact that it is now in such a pitiful state is symptomatic of America's decline and decadence and its takeover by financial predators.Posted by: Jen | Sep 4 2019 0:20 utc | 35vk , Sep 4 2019 0:53 utc | 41
Nailed, moved to city of dead but not for gotten uncle Milton Frieman friend of aynn rand.I don't think Boeing was arrogant. I think the 737 is simply unfixable and that they know that -- hence they went to the meeting with empty hands.C I eh? , Sep 4 2019 1:14 utc | 42They did the same with Nortel, whose share value exceeded 300 billion not long before it was scrapped. Insiders took everything while pension funds were wiped out of existence.Walter , Sep 4 2019 3:10 utc | 43
It is so very helpful to understand everything you read is corporate/intel propaganda, and you are always being setup to pay for the next great scam. The murder of 300+ people by boeing was yet another tragedy our sadistic elites could not let go to waste.Willow , Sep 4 2019 3:16 utc | 44
...And to the idea that Boeing is being kept afloat by financial agencies.Aljazerra has a series of excellent investigative documentaries they did on Boeing. Here is one from 2014. https://www.aljazeera.com/investigations/boeing787/Igor Bundy , Sep 4 2019 3:17 utc | 45For many amerikans, a good "offensive" is far preferable than a good defense even if that only involves an apology. Remember what ALL US presidents say.. We will never apologize.. For the extermination of natives, for shooting down civilian airliners, for blowing up mosques full of worshipers, for bombing hospitals.. for reducing many countries to the stone age and using biological and chemical and nuclear weapons against the planet.. For supporting terrorists who plague the planet now. For basically being able to be unaccountable to anyone including themselves as a peculiar race of feces. So it is not the least surprising that amerikan corporations also follow the same bad manners as those they put into and pre-elect to rule them.Igor Bundy , Sep 4 2019 3:26 utc | 46People talk about Seattle as if its a bastion of integrity.. Its the same place Microsoft screwed up countless companies to become the largest OS maker? The same place where Amazon fashions how to screw its own employees to work longer and cheaper? There are enough examples that Seattle is not Toronto.. and will never be a bastion of ethics..Igor Bundy , Sep 4 2019 3:54 utc | 47
Actually can you show me a single place in the US where ethics are considered a bastion of governorship? Other than the libraries of content written about ethics, rarely do amerikans ever follow it. Yet expect others to do so.. This is getting so perverse that other cultures are now beginning to emulate it. Because its everywhere..
Remember Dallas? I watched people who saw in fascination how business can function like that. Well they cant in the long run but throw enough money and resources and it works wonders in the short term because it destroys the competition. But yea around 1998 when they got rid of the laws on making money by magic, most every thing has gone to hell.. because now there are no constraints but making money.. anywhich way.. Thats all that matters..You got to be daft or bribed to use intel cpu's in embedded systems. Going from a motorolla cpu, the intel chips were dinosaurs in every way. Requiring the cpu to be almost twice as fast to get the same thing done.. Also its interrupt control was not upto par. A simple example was how the commodore amiga could read from the disk and not stutter or slow down anything else you were doing. I never seen this fixed.. In fact going from 8Mhz to 4GHz seems to have fixed it by brute force. Yes the 8Mhz motorolla cpu worked wonders when you had music, video, IO all going at the same time. Its not just the CPU but the support chips which don't lock up the bus. Why would anyone use Intel? When there are so many specific embedded controllers designed for such specific things.imo , Sep 4 2019 4:00 utc | 48Initially I thought it was just the new over-sized engines they retro-fitted. A situation that would surely have been easier to get around by just going back to the original engines -- any inefficiencies being less $costly than the time the planes have been grounded. But this post makes the whole rabbit warren 10 miles deeper.Joost , Sep 4 2019 4:25 utc | 50
I do not travel much these days and find the cattle-class seating on these planes a major disincentive. Becoming aware of all these added technical issues I will now positively select for alternatives to 737 and bear the cost.Henkie , Sep 4 2019 7:04 utc | 53I'm surprised Boeing stock still haven't taken nose diveThat is because the price is propped up by $9 billion share buyback per year . Share buyback is an effective scheme to airlift all the cash out of a company towards the major shareholders. I mean, who wants to develop reliable airplanes if you can funnel the cash into your pockets?
Posted by: Bob burger | Sep 3 2019 19:27 utc | 9
Once the buyback ends the dive begins and just before it hits ground zero, they buy the company for pennies on the dollar, possibly with government bailout as a bonus. Then the company flies towards the next climb and subsequent dive. MCAS economics.Hi , I am new here in writing but not in reading.. About the 80286 , where is the coprocessor the 80287? How can the 80286 make IEEE math calculations? So how can it fly a controlled flight when it can not calculate its accuracy...... How is it possible that this system is certified? It should have at least a 80386 DX not SX!!!!snake , Sep 4 2019 7:35 utc | 54moved to Chicago in 1997 says much about the change in corporate culture and values from a culture that emphasised technical and design excellence, deliberate redundancies in essential functions (in case of emergencies or failures of core functions), consistently high standards and care for the people who adhered to these principles, to a predatory culture in which profits prevail over people and performance.Canthama , Sep 4 2019 10:37 utc | 56
Jen @ 35 < ==
yes, the morally of the companies and their exclusive hold on a complicit or controlled government always defaults the government to support, enforce and encourage the principles of economic Zionism.
But it is more than just the corporate culture => the corporate fat cats 1. use the rule-making powers of the government to make law for them. Such laws create high valued assets from the pockets of the masses. The most well know of those corporate uses of government is involved with the intangible property laws (copyright, patent, and government franchise). The government generated copyright, franchise and Patent laws are monopolies. So when government subsidizes a successful outcome R&D project its findings are packaged up into a set of monopolies [copyrights, privatized government franchises which means instead of 50 companies or more competing for the next increment in technology, one gains the full advantage of that government research only one can use or abuse it. and the patented and copyrighted technology is used to extract untold billions, in small increments from the pockets of the public. 2. use of the judicial power of governments and their courts in both domestic and international settings, to police the use and to impose fake values in intangible property monopolies. Government-rule made privately owned monopoly rights (intangible property rights) generated from the pockets of the masses, do two things: they exclude, deny and prevent would be competition and their make value in a hidden revenue tax that passes to the privately held monopolist with each sale of a copyrighted, government franchised, or patented service or product. . Please note the one two nature of the "use of government law making powers to generate intangible private monopoly property rights"There is no doubt Boeing has committed crimes on the 737MAX, its arrogance & greedy should be severely punished by the international commitment as an example to other global Corporations. It represents what is the worst of Corporate America that places profits in front of lives.Christian J Chuba , Sep 4 2019 11:55 utc | 59How the U.S. is keeping Russia out of the international market?BM , Sep 4 2019 12:48 utc | 60
Iran and other sanctioned countries are a potential captive market and they have growth opportunities in what we sometimes call the non-aligned, emerging markets countries (Turkey, Africa, SE Asia, India, ...).
One thing I have learned is that the U.S. always games the system, we never play fair. So what did we do. Do their manufacturers use 1% U.S. made parts and they need that for international certification?Ultimately all of the issues in the news these days are the same one and the same issue - as the US gets closer and closer to the brink of catastrophic collapse they get ever more desperate. As they get more and more desperate they descend into what comes most naturally to the US - throughout its entire history - frenzied violence, total absence of morality, war, murder, genocide, and everything else that the US is so well known for (by those who are not blinded by exceptionalist propaganda).Piotr Berman , Sep 4 2019 13:23 utc | 61
The Hong Kong violence is a perfect example - it is impossible that a self-respecting nation state could allow itself to be seen to degenerate into such idiotic degeneracy, and so grossly flaunt the most basic human decency. Ergo , the US is not a self-respecting nation state. It is a failed state.
I am certain the arrogance of Boeing reflects two things: (a) an assurance from the US government that the government will back them to the hilt, come what may, to make sure that the 737Max flies again; and (b) a threat that if Boeing fails to get the 737Max in the air despite that support, the entire top level management and board of directors will be jailed. Boeing know very well they cannot deliver. But just as the US government is desperate to avoid the inevitable collapse of the US, the Boeing top management are desperate to avoid jail. It is a charade.
It is time for international regulators to withdraw certification totally - after the problems are all fixed (I don't believe they ever will be), the plane needs complete new certification of every detail from the bottom up, at Boeing's expense, and with total openness from Boeing. The current Boeing management are not going to cooperate with that, therefore the international regulators need to demand a complete replacement of the management and board of directors as a condition for working with them.From ZeroHedge link:morongobill , Sep 4 2019 14:08 utc | 63
If Boeing had invested some of this money that it blew on share buybacks to design a new modern plane from ground up to replace the ancient 737 airframe, these tragedies could have been prevented, and Boeing wouldn't have this nightmare on its hands. But the corporate cost-cutters and financial engineers, rather than real engineers, had the final word.
Markets don't care about any of this. They don't care about real engineers either. They love corporate cost-cutters and financial engineers. They want share buybacks, and if something bad happens, they'll overlook the $5 billion to pay for the fallout because it's just a "one-time item."
And now Boeing still has this plane, instead of a modern plane, and the history of this plane is now tainted, as is its brand, and by extension, that of Boeing. But markets blow that off too. Nothing matters.
Companies are getting away each with their own thing. There are companies that are losing a ton of money and are burning tons of cash, with no indications that they will ever make money. And market valuations are just ludicrous.
Thus Boeing issue is part of a much larger picture. Something systemic had to make "markets" less rational. And who is this "market"? In large part, fund managers wracking their brains how to create "decent return" while the cost of borrowing and returns on lending are super low. What remains are forms of real estate and stocks.
Overall, Boeing buy-backs exceeded 40 billion dollars, one could guess that half or quarter of that would suffice to build a plane that logically combines the latest technologies. E.g. the entire frame design to fit together with engines, processors proper for the information processing load, hydraulics for steering that satisfy force requirements in almost all circumstances etc. New technologies also fail because they are not completely understood, but when the overall design is logical with margins of safety, the faults can be eliminated.
Instead, 737 was slowly modified toward failure, eliminating safety margins one by one.Allan Bowman , Sep 4 2019 15:15 utc | 66
Regarding the 80286 and the 737, don't forget that the air traffic control system and the ICBM system uses old technology as well.
Seems our big systems have feet of old silicon.Boeing has apparently either never heard of, or ignores a procedure that is mandatory in satellite design and design reviews. This is FMEA or Failure Modes and Effects Analysis. This requires design engineers to document the impact of every potential failure and combination of failures thereby highlighting everthing from catastrophic effects to just annoyances. Clearly BOEING has done none of these and their troubles are a direct result. It can be assumed that their arrogant and incompetent management has not yet understood just how serious their behavior is to the future of the company.fx , Sep 4 2019 16:08 utc | 69Bemildred , Sep 4 2019 16:11 utc | 70Once the buyback ends the dive begins and just before it hits ground zero, they buy the company for pennies on the dollar, possibly with government bailout as a bonus. Then the company flies towards the next climb and subsequent dive. MCAS economics.
Posted by: Joost | Sep 4 2019 4:25 utc | 50
Well put!Computer modelling is what they are talking about in the cliche "Garbage in, garbage out".Trond , Sep 4 2019 17:01 utc | 79
The problem is not new, and it is well understood. What computer modelling is is cheap, and easy to fudge, and that is why it is popular with people who care about money a lot. Much of what is called "AI" is very similar in its limitations, a complicated way to fudge up the results you want, or something close enough for casual examination.
In particular cases where you have a well-defined and well-mathematized theory, then you can get some useful results with models. Like in Physics, Chemistry.
And they can be useful for "realistic" training situations, like aircraft simulators. The old story about wargame failures against Iran is another such situation. A lot of video games are big simulations in essence. But that is not reality, it's fake reality.@ SteveK9 71 "By the way, the problem was caused by Mitsubishi, who designed the heat exchangers."c1ue , Sep 4 2019 19:44 utc | 80
Ahh. The furriners...
I once made the "mistake" of pointing out (in a comment under an article in Salon) that the reactors that exploded at Fukushima was made by GE and that GE people was still in charge of the reactors of American quality when they exploded. (The amerikans got out on one of the first planes out of the country).
I have never seen so many angry replies to one of my comments. I even got e-mails for several weeks from angry Americans.@Henkie #53 You need floating point for scientific calculations, but I really doubt the 737 is doing any scientific research. Also, a regular CPU can do mathematical calculations. It just isn't as fast nor has the same capacity as a dedicated FPU. Another common use for FPUs is in live action shooter games - the neo-physics portions utilize scientific-like calculations to create lifelike actions. I sold computer systems in the 1990s while in school - Doom was a significant driver for newer systems (as well as hedge fund types). Again, don't see why an airplane needs this.
Sep 04, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
https://c.deployads.com/sync?f=html&s=2343&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nakedcapitalism.com%2F2019%2F09%2Fstarving-seniors-how-america-fails-to-feed-its-aging.html <img src="http://b.scorecardresearch.com/p?c1=2&c2=16807273&cv=2.0&cj=1" /> By Laura Ungar, who health issues out of Kaiser Health News' St. Louis office, and Trudy Lieberman, a journalist for more than 45 years, and a past president of the Association of Health Care Journalists. Originally published by Kaiser Health News .
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Army veteran Eugene Milligan is 75 years old and blind. He uses a wheelchair since losing half his right leg to diabetes and gets dialysis for kidney failure.
And he has struggled to get enough to eat.
Earlier this year, he ended up in the hospital after burning himself while boiling water for oatmeal. The long stay caused the Memphis vet to fall off a charity's rolls for home-delivered Meals on Wheels , so he had to rely on others, such as his son, a generous off-duty nurse and a local church to bring him food.
"Many times, I've felt like I was starving," he said. "There's neighbors that need food too. There's people at dialysis that need food. There's hunger everywhere."
Indeed, millions of seniors across the country quietly go hungry as the safety net designed to catch them frays. Nearly 8% of Americans 60 and older were "food insecure" in 2017, according to a recent study released by the anti-hunger group Feeding America. That's 5.5 million seniors who don't have consistent access to enough food for a healthy life, a number that has more than doubled since 2001 and is only expected to grow as America grays.
While the plight of hungry children elicits support and can be tackled in schools, the plight of hungry older Americans is shrouded by isolation and a generation's pride. The problem is most acute in parts of the South and Southwest. Louisiana has the highest rate among states, with 12% of seniors facing food insecurity. Memphis fares worst among major metropolitan areas, with 17% of seniors like Milligan unsure of their next meal.
And government relief falls short. One of the main federal programs helping seniors is starved for money. The Older Americans Act -- passed more than half a century ago as part of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society reforms -- was amended in 1972 to provide for home-delivered and group meals, along with other services, for anyone 60 and older. But its funding has lagged far behind senior population growth, as well as economic inflation.
The biggest chunk of the act's budget, nutrition services, dropped by 8% over the past 18 years when adjusted for inflation, an AARP report found in February. Home-delivered and group meals have decreased by nearly 21 million since 2005. Only a fraction of those facing food insecurity get any meal services under the act; a U.S. Government Accountability Office report examining 2013 data found 83% got none.
With the act set to expire Sept. 30, Congress is now considering its reauthorization and how much to spend going forward.
Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, only 45% of eligible adults 60 and older have signed up for another source of federal aid: SNAP, the food stamp program for America's poorest. Those who don't are typically either unaware they could qualify, believe their benefits would be tiny or can no longer get to a grocery store to use them.
Even fewer seniors may have SNAP in the future. More than 13% of SNAP households with elderly members would lose benefits under a recent Trump administration proposal.
For now, millions of seniors -- especially low-income ones -- go without. Across the nation, waits are common to receive home-delivered meals from a crucial provider, Meals on Wheels, a network of 5,000 community-based programs. In Memphis, for example, the wait to get on the Meals on Wheels schedule is more than a year long.
"It's really sad because a meal is not an expensive thing," said Sally Jones Heinz, president and CEO of the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association , which provides home-delivered meals in Memphis. "This shouldn't be the way things are in 2019."
Since malnutrition exacerbates diseases and prevents healing, seniors without steady, nutritious food can wind up in hospitals, which drives up Medicare and Medicaid costs, hitting taxpayers with an even bigger bill . Sometimes seniors relapse quickly after discharge -- or worse.
Widower Robert Mukes, 71, starved to death on a cold December day in 2016, alone in his Cincinnati apartment.
The Hamilton County Coroner listed the primary cause of death as "starvation of unknown etiology" and noted "possible hypothermia," pointing out that his apartment had no electricity or running water. Death records show the 5-foot-7-inch man weighed just 100.5 pounds.
A Clear Need
On a hot May morning in Memphis, seniors trickled into a food bank at the Riverside Missionary Baptist Church, 3 miles from the opulent tourist mecca of Graceland. They picked up boxes packed with canned goods, rice, vegetables and meat.
Marion Thomas, 63, placed her box in the trunk of a friend's car. She lives with chronic back pain and high blood pressure and started coming to the pantry three years ago. She's disabled, relies on Social Security and gets $42 a month from SNAP based on her income, household size and other factors. That's much less than the average $125-a-month benefit for households with seniors, but more than the $16 minimum that one in five such households get. Still, Thomas said, "I can't buy very much."
A day later, the Mid-South Food Bank brought a "mobile pantry" to Latham Terrace, a senior housing complex, where a long line of people waited. Some inched forward in wheelchairs; others leaned on canes. One by one, they collected their allotments.
The need is just as real elsewhere. In Dallas, Texas, 69-year-old China Anderson squirrels away milk, cookies and other parts of her home-delivered lunches for dinner because she can no longer stand and cook due to scoliosis and eight deteriorating vertebral discs.
As seniors ration food, programs ration services.
Although more than a third of the Meals on Wheels money comes from the Older Americans Act, even with additional public and private dollars, funds are still so limited that some programs have no choice but to triage people using score sheets that assign points based on who needs food the most. Seniors coming from the hospital and those without family usually top waiting lists.
More than 1,000 were waiting on the Memphis area's list recently. And in Dallas, $4.1 million in donations wiped out a 1,000-person waiting list in December, but within months it had crept back up to 100.
Nationally, "there are tens of thousands of seniors who are waiting," said Erika Kelly , chief membership and advocacy officer for Meals on Wheels America. "While they're waiting, their health deteriorates and, in some cases, we know seniors have died."
Edwin Walker, a deputy assistant secretary for the federal Administration on Aging, acknowledged waits are a long-standing problem, but said 2.4 million people a year benefit from the Older Americans Act's group or home-delivered meals, allowing them to stay independent and healthy.
Seniors get human connection, as well as food, from these services. Aner Lee Murphy, a 102-year-old Meals on Wheels client in Memphis, counts on the visits with volunteers Libby and Bob Anderson almost as much as the food. She calls them "my children," hugging them close and offering a prayer each time they leave.
But others miss out on such physical and psychological nourishment. A devastating phone call brought that home for Kim Daugherty, executive director of the Aging Commission of the Mid-South , which connects seniors to service providers in the region. The woman on the line told Daugherty she'd been on the waiting list for more than a year.
"Ma'am, there are several hundred people ahead of you," Daugherty reluctantly explained.
"I just need you all to remember," came the caller's haunting reply, "I'm hungry and I need food."
A Slow Killer
James Ziliak , a poverty researcher at the University of Kentucky who worked on the Feeding America study, said food insecurity shot up with the Great Recession, starting in the late 2000s, and peaked in 2014. He said it shows no signs of dropping to pre-recession levels.
While older adults of all income levels can face difficulty accessing and preparing healthy food, rates are highest among seniors in poverty. They are also high among minorities. More than 17% of black seniors and 16% of Hispanic seniors are food insecure, compared with fewer than 7% of white seniors.
A host of issues combine to set those seniors on a downward spiral, said registered dietitian Lauri Wright , who chairs the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of North Florida. Going to the grocery store gets a lot harder if they can't drive. Expensive medications leave less money for food. Chronic physical and mental health problems sap stamina and make it tough to cook. Inch by inch, hungry seniors decline.
And, even if it rarely kills directly, hunger can complicate illness and kill slowly.
Malnutrition blunts immunity, which already tends to weaken as people age. Once they start losing weight, they're more likely to grow frail and are more likely to die within a year, said Dr. John Morley, director of the division of geriatric medicine at Saint Louis University.
Seniors just out of the hospital are particularly vulnerable. Many wind up getting readmitted, pushing up taxpayers' costs for Medicare and Medicaid. A recent analysis by the Bipartisan Policy Center found that Medicare could save $1.57 for every dollar spent on home-delivered meals for chronically ill seniors after a hospitalization.
Most hospitals don't refer senior outpatients to Meals on Wheels, and advocates say too few insurance companies get involved in making sure seniors have enough to eat to keep them healthy.
When Milligan, the Memphis veteran, burned himself with boiling water last winter and had to be hospitalized for 65 days, he fell off the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association's radar. The meals he'd been getting for about a decade stopped.
Heinz, Metropolitan's CEO, said the association is usually able to start and stop meals for short hospital stays. But, Heinz said, the association didn't hear from Milligan and kept trying to deliver meals for a time while he was in the hospital, then notified the Aging Commission of the Mid-South he wasn't home. As is standard procedure, Metropolitan officials said, a staff member from the commission made three attempts to contact him and left a card at the blind man's home.
But nothing happened when he got out of the hospital this spring. In mid-May, a nurse referred him for meal delivery. Still, he didn't get meals because he faced a waitlist already more than 1,000 names long.
After questions from Kaiser Health News, Heinz looked into Milligan's case and realized that, as a former client, Milligan could get back on the delivery schedule faster.
But even then the process still has hurdles: The aging commission would need to conduct a new home assessment for meals to resume. That has yet to happen because, amid the wait, Milligan's health deteriorated.
A Murky Future
As the Older Americans Act awaits reauthorization this fall, many senior advocates worry about its funding.
In June, the U.S. House passed a $93 million increase to the Older Americans Act's nutrition programs, raising total funding by about 10% to $1 billion in the next fiscal year. In inflation-adjusted dollars, that's still less than in 2009. And it still has to pass in the Republican-controlled Senate, where the proposed increase faces long odds.
U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, an Oregon Democrat who chairs the Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee, expects the panel to tackle legislation for reauthorization of the act soon after members return from the August recess. She's now working with colleagues "to craft a strong, bipartisan update," she said, that increases investments in nutrition programs as well as other services.
"I'm confident the House will soon pass a robust bill," she said, "and I am hopeful that the Senate will also move quickly so we can better meet the needs of our seniors."
In the meantime, "the need for home-delivered meals keeps increasing every year," said Lorena Fernandez, who runs a meal delivery program in Yakima, Wash. Activists are pressing state and local governments to ensure seniors don't starve, with mixed results. In Louisiana, for example, anti-hunger advocates stood on the state Capitol steps in May and unsuccessfully called on the state to invest $1 million to buy food from Louisiana farmers to distribute to hungry residents. Elsewhere, senior activists across the nation have participated each March in "March for Meals" events such as walks, fundraisers and rallies designed to focus attention on the problem.
Private fundraising hasn't been easy everywhere, especially rural communities without much wealth. Philanthropy has instead tended to flow to hungry kids, who outnumber hungry seniors more than 2-to-1, according to Feeding America.
"Ten years ago, organizations had a goal of ending child hunger and a lot of innovation and resources went into what could be done," said Jeremy Everett, executive director of Baylor University's Texas Hunger Initiative. "The same thing has not happened in the senior adult population." And that has left people struggling for enough food to eat.
As for Milligan, he didn't get back on Meals on Wheels before suffering complications related to his dialysis in June. He ended up back in the hospital. Ironically, it was there that he finally had a steady, if temporary, source of food.
It's impossible to know if his time without steady, nutritious food made a difference. What is almost certain is that feeding him at home would have been far cheaper.
Aug 31, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
This post is certain to do short shrift to the topic of individual character and cultural values. As you'll see in due course, a long-standing friend, Professor Amar Bhide, sent me an encomium for a mentor of his, John McArthur, who among other things, was the Dean of Harvard Business School from 1980 to 1995.
What is striking about Amar's description isn't simply how rare it is for America to produce someone who was deeply engaged with the people around him, yet was also a first-class mind with wide-ranging interest, but that we no longer seem to aspire to produce people (outside immediate families) whose attentiveness and concern can and often does have a fundamental, positive impact on those around them. Amar points out that McArthur knew the names of all of the service staff in every restaurant and club he frequented. Now that I am in the South, one thing that really is different is that most people are courteous almost out of habit. Some of it can be a bit tricky, like men who seem overly eager to behave chivalrously, particularly in public spots like restaurants. But the behavior isn't a regional variant to the grating "Have a nice day" that too many hotel and restaurant managers require employees to say (and it shows). Even if the attention is fleeting, the desire to make contact is genuine.
Admittedly, few are in the sort of career or societal role to have the impact that McArthur did. But there doesn't seem to be much societal interest in producing elder statesmen or rabbis or pastors or skilled counselors, or individuals who could sometimes play pieces of those roles in narrower circumstances. Instead, too many people simply want to get theirs and devil take the hindmost.
And the costs when this posture become acceptable, as opposed to marginal, are significant. As David put it in our latest post on Brexit :
I hate to say this, as a lifelong Socialist from a very modest background, but the British system worked in the past because it was pretty homogeneous. I don't mean literally everyone came from the same background (they let me in, after all) but rather there was a cultural homogeneity in the civil service, in politics, and even partly in the media, which had its origin in a certain upper middle class sense of duty, honesty and competence, inherited from the serious professional classes of the nineteenth century. (It had its analogue in the ethos of the honest tradesman, which we've lost as well). This culture was never universal , of course, but it was very powerful, and it coped quite well with the social changes after 1945, as more women and people from much more diverse backgrounds entered the public sphere.
It changed not because the origin of its members was different (May and Johnson both came from Oxford, as did Blair, and for that matter Thatcher) but because their ethos came from elsewhere. It came from the City, from Management Consultancy, and from that part of the British Establishment which was always more interested in Making Money than in Doing Things. It's almost as though the disreputable younger sons of the Establishment, sent off to make money in Hong Kong after some scandal, had all returned to run the country. You can mock the old High Seriousness of the public sphere if you like (too white! too male!) but the fact is that it wouldn't have got us in the mess we are in today, because it had both the scruples and the competence to avoid it. Now, it's open season. I remember thinking how bitterly ironic it was that the government which got the country into the worst peacetime crisis in modern history was also the most inclusive, and led by a woman at that.
I'm not sure the end of homogeneity was the driver of diminished respect for what was once called character. In the US, I hazard that a bigger factor was the widespread acceptance of libertarian/neoliberal values. As we've documented, that world view was marketed aggressively and very successfully by a loosely coordinated but well funded right wing campaign, whose seminal document was the Powell Memo of 1971 which laid out the vision and many of the tactics for their war on the New Deal and the community values that supported it. For instance, it would have been well-nigh impossible for a Mike Milken, who'd gone to prison for securities law violations (and was widely believed to have engaged in considerably more questionable conduct) to have rehabilitated himself to the degree he did.
John McArthur, in memoriam
He was one of a kind -- and his kindness and empathy (a much used word I know) was unbounded. It touched all from dining and custodial staff to taxi drivers. My parents apart, few other people have had such an influence on me. (And he did me the honor of reading everything I read: every book every article, every draft, the pages a sea of yellow highlight)
He was also astute, ruthless and got things done. His mind was extraordinary and his reading voracious and eclectic -- although you would never guess it from his aw shucks manner and country bumpkin style.
I first actually talked to him in my second year as assistant professor. We had a long long lunch at his corner table in the faculty club. We talked about everything -- except why we were having lunch. At the end he said, "Perhaps you'd like to know why i asked you to lunch. Well I've been reading your stuff and I wanted to put a face to the writing, to know who this person was who was writing this stuff."
A few days later a copy of Knight's Risk Uncertainty and Profit arrived in interoffice mail with one of John's classic handwritten notes, which went something along the following lines. "I think this will suit the way you think of the world."
I had never encountered the book in my doctoral studies, and it was revelatory.
We had lunches, lasting 2-3 hours nearly every year for the last 20 years after I left HBS. Always at the Charles ("If we ate at HBS there would be someone stopping by every minute" he said. At the Charles it was only every 10 minutes. And of course he knew every single waiter and waitress by name).
The stories he told at the lunches.. Such a pity he did not put his wisdom into a memoir. But that was not his way.
ambrit , August 31, 2019 at 12:34 am
The benefits of a "classical" education. One of the main supports of the 'civilized' social interactions that you observe here 'Down South' is a stubborn refusal to put a price on everything. It is not universal, but it lingers in pockets of calm salted among the storms of modern living. Welcome to the South.
Carolinian , August 31, 2019 at 10:04 am
I have some neighbors who are the opposite of me politically (in fact most of my neighbors) but are wonderfully nice people on a personal level. Some of us who grew up here have had the opposite experience of Yves and lived for awhile in the North where all that politeness is dismissed as a false front.
Which in many cases it is, but the usefulness of all that unthinking social glue should not be dismissed out of hand. After decades of elites in thrall to Ayn Rand the country may be in need a few of those social norms that beatnik rebels in the 1950s found so stultifying. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Epstein was how all those rich people around him thought that his three teenager a day habit was perfectly acceptable.
bassmule , August 31, 2019 at 10:47 am
I don't know anything about anything, but after living in the Northeast for my whole life I spent 10 years in North Carolina. After a decade, I realized that I was never going to stop being a Yankee, and that I detested "Southern courtesy" which mostly involved people telling me to "Have a Blessed Day!"
I take part of this back: My favorite item of Southern Courtesy is that you can slander anyone as long as you end the sentence with " bless his heart!"
Seriously, it's a different culture, and not one that I was ever comfortable with.
ambrit , August 31, 2019 at 11:49 am
There is a great scene in the film "Terms of Endearment" where John Lithgow's character is in a check out line at a grocery store. He encounters a rude cashier and remarks; "[She] must be from New York." The whole scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bF8AZ-t2_Aw
Carolinian , August 31, 2019 at 11:55 am
The "blessed day" kick seems to have faded–haven't heard it in awhile. But you are certainly right about the different cultures, although lots of people from up north are moving down here so it's not as separated as it once was. Given that–per this blog–Wall Street culture is driving the country into the ground all that polite Southern conservatism may begin to seem less bad by comparison. There is certainly a religious context and a xenophobic context given Southerners' general support for the military.
Fazal Majid , August 31, 2019 at 3:33 am
The "greed is good" ethos took hold in the 1980s. I don't think Reagan was so much a cause as a symptom, but it's clearly visible in how US healthcare costs diverge from the rest of the world, as shown by Hans Rösling's famous chart .
OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , August 31, 2019 at 3:59 am
Mohammed Ali wrote a poem about this that Guiness says is the world's shortest: "I; we". That civicness is what we've lost. To me the downward trajectory steepened with Reagan/ Gordon Gecko/Greed is good. Then was amplified and cemented by Bush: you're with us or against us; and the policy to fling bombs at any nation or actor "anytime we feel like it" with absolutely no regard for any notion of common (global, societal, collective) good. And thats the opposite of "civilization". Toss in a little post-meta-narcissism and the cocktail is for the law of the jungle. When JFK was killed Hunter Thompson wrote that "the scum have murdered the myth of American decency". Writ large now, across the world
Jessica , August 31, 2019 at 5:15 am
Our elites became historically obsolete around the 1960s. The counter-attack on the attempted cultural revolution that was The Sixties had no moral basis. It had and has nothing to fight for . It only had There Is No Alternative and I'm Sorry, You Must Have Mistaken Me for Someone Who Gives a Sh_t. The moral decay of such elites is unavoidable. The only solution is for them to no longer be the elites.
Further, we have reached a point in human development where no new elite of the previous type can fully unleash the capacities that we have developed. This is part of why the wannabe replacements in the top 10% themselves are so easily corrupted.
The good news is that we don't need any of them. Convincing each other of that will be quite helpful.
JOHN HACKER , August 31, 2019 at 4:34 pm
i remember reading a computer guy's victory article over the hippies. Ken Burns story of Woodstock shed some interesting perspectives on those days. It was a real crack in the American veneer of "dirty hippies". The elders of the time had bought into the military industrial complex idea that Ike had warned.
beth , August 31, 2019 at 9:53 pm
Wops. I can't let that Eisenhower quote pass uncommented on. In reading lots of history in my retirement, I have read several books on the CIA. It seems that Ike didn't like wars, so he gave Allen Dulles full rein. Iran remembers.
Mucho , August 31, 2019 at 6:33 am
Principles used be valuable. Nowadays, they are just costly.
inode_buddha , August 31, 2019 at 7:44 am
"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we seek at the first ourselves to deceive"
. "For when thou hast been false to thine own self, thou canst not be true to any man"
Principles can be valuable in that I will still do business and have a discussion with a man that I strongly disagree with, but I will have nothing to do with the unprincipled. My experience is that the unprincipled are simply animals and nothing good but aggravation can come of it.
john ashley , August 31, 2019 at 7:24 am
"The good news is that we don't need any of them. Convincing each other of that will be quite helpful."
This sums up the decay of any pretense of "common" decency in my opinion. Sadly , you have it to a science.
flora , August 31, 2019 at 8:11 am
Thanks for this post.
But there doesn't seem to be much societal interest in producing elder statesmen or rabbis or pastors or skilled counselors, or individuals who could .
per Margaret Thatcher and the neoliberal ascendancy: "There is no society "
There's active discouragement of recognizing the essential equality of people no matter what their station in life; this absolute discounting of "less important" people is a new thing in the last 20 – 30 years or so, imo. At first I though it was simple snobbery, but it's too wide spread for that to be the explanation, imo.
dearieme , August 31, 2019 at 10:27 am
It's worth googling to see what Thatcher actually said.
ambrit , August 31, 2019 at 11:55 am
Thatcher was an English politico. It is not what she said, but what she did that counts. She is probably down in Dante's Inferno, Ring 8, sub-rings 7-10. (Frauds and false councilors.) See, oh wayward sinners: http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/circle8b.html
The Rev Kev , September 2, 2019 at 12:37 am
Ring 8, sub-rings 7-10? She will probably find Milton Friedman in the basement there.
ambrit , September 2, 2019 at 7:09 am
Ah, you think that Milton should be at the bottom, eh? Then, I hope that he knows how to ice skate. (He was the worst kind of 'class traitor.' [His parents were small store owner/managers.])
Ring 8 of the Inferno is for 'frauds' of all sorts, sub-rings 7-10 are reserved for Thieves, Deceivers, Schismatics, and Falsifiers. Maggie should feel right at home there.
New Wafer Army , August 31, 2019 at 2:26 pm
"They are casting their problems at society. And, you know, there's no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours." – in an interview in Women's Own in 1987
flora , August 31, 2019 at 6:53 pm
And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first.
Oh, the subtle slyness of that formulation; it suggests first that democratic govt is the servant of the will of the whole of the people, or society, and in the next breath suggests there is no whole of the will of the people or unity or society. It suggests what is truly important are atomized individuals and 'greed is good' and 'look out for number one' – the antithesis of society and unity and democratic govt.
Hamnet , September 1, 2019 at 10:51 pm
Thanks for this quotation. It appears to me to be classic case of pretzel logic. " It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours." And who are "our neighbours"? They are society – of which there is, according to Thatcher, "no such thing".
Once again, form totally swamps substance and leaves us treading water in a sea of nonsense. Have we always allowed our leaders this much leeway with logic? Of course next to the statements of the current US President, this statement appears perfectly logical.
ewmayer , August 31, 2019 at 5:10 pm
Have you considered that perhaps the simplified "There is no society" rendering of what Ms. Thatcher said has become the de facto standard because it captures the toxic antisocial policies she actually practiced?
inode_buddha , August 31, 2019 at 8:20 am
If someone would lie to themselves in order to be able to lie to others, then why should I respect them? There is a large difference between respect and fear, just like there is a difference between jealousy and anger. You know I have observed all of this among my C-level acquaintances ( 50 to 150 million ..)
Bob , August 31, 2019 at 8:38 am
Perhaps there is something to be said for leaving the Big Apple. And yes folks can seem to be more polite in the fly over country.
I'd guess that the real divider is that the politeness is driven in part by the realization that we need each other to a greater degree more in smaller communities.
NotTimothyGeithner , August 31, 2019 at 10:47 am
I disagree about small communities. Plenty are subservient to a powerful interest with no scruples. It's always been about accountability. Scale and speed have reduced the ability to hold bad actors accountableif they are elite. The homogenized British civil service would naturally hold bad actors accountable if not through legal means then exclusion.
EoH , August 31, 2019 at 12:33 pm
Ostracism and other forms of social control were ruthlessly used by the in-group to keep its members' behavior within a narrow range. Is it the methods of social control that have changed or the range of behavior deemed acceptable to the dominant group?
As Lord Boothby's life illustrates, if certain behavior was deemed helpful to the state or otherwise within bounds, then all sorts of behavior offensive to a common dustman's definition of "middle class morality" would be tolerated. That suggests a parallel with the arc of Jeffrey Epstein's career.
ambrit , August 31, 2019 at 6:47 pm
Compare Epstein and his associate's behaviour with that of the English aristocracy during the Edwardian era. I'll posit that this range of behaviours is class mediated, not era or milieu mediated.
With this as the 'face' of the 'ruling class,' is it any wonder that movements such as Calvinism and Puritanism gained such popular support?
EoH , September 1, 2019 at 9:27 am
One suspects that Wilde's Dorian Gray struck a chord among the upper classes, the scions of which must have remembered more than bad food and cold showers at their elite boarding schools. Indoctrination always begins with the young.
KLG , August 31, 2019 at 9:49 am
I got my first full-time job in science in 1975. I was 19 and had to make a living while going to school. The head of my lab, which was a leader in our field, and his colleagues in the department were very serious about their work, but not about themselves. Most, but certainly not all, of them took their roles as exemplars of how science should be very seriously, and it showed. Their mentorship has extended into the future, which is now, but more on that later. My boss at the time is 93 and not in particularly good health. Earlier this month I sent him a video of a talk in which our work was mentioned, as the close brush with a later Nobel Prize that it was. None of that particular group is still in the field, but he was happy to see, again, how far reaching our work has been. In a subsequent email I listed the 15 or so people I overlapped with in my 15 years in that smallish lab, and the list is replete with very successful men and women. We were taught well.
My time there didn't end particularly well, though. There is one fundamental reason for that: The Bayh-Dole Act of 1980. By the late-1980's our research had been completely co-opted by the desire to build a "start-up" using our science as the foundation. This quite naturally attracted a gaggle of half-assed "entrepreneurs" whose only thought was "how fast how much money?" The science suffered, those who knew how to make it work as an important technology were ignored, and the whole apparatus collapsed in a heap of squandered money taken from people who couldn't afford to lose it and recriminations that have still not abated, much. My boss retired in the aftermath. He was a good scientist and a good person, but he was unable to see where he was headed. I got axed, basically for not "liking" the lead half-assed entrepreneur, to which I responded, "I like him just fine, but I don't trust him as far as I can throw him, and you shouldn't either." Q.E.D.
Now, 40+ years later the molecular and biomedical sciences are in crisis. Discoveries that will make a difference are left undiscovered while "entrepreneurs" collect multiple research grants from NIH and NSF but never, really, seem to get anywhere. Data from NIH show that the law of diminishing returns sets in as soon as an academic scientist gets his or her second grant. There is no room for the next generation to begin, while they have energy and vision (though older scientists have as much of both, if there were a future in it, and the experience to get something done while mentoring the next generations).
Anyway, there is an important book to be written by someone who reads naked capitalism about the deleterious effects of the neoliberal infestation of basic biomedical research that began with the Bayh-Dole Act; hmm what else happened in 1980? I cannot see any prospect of recovery of the good will, good science, and ethos of discovery that existed before, but until biomedical scientists understand what has happened to their world, there is really no hope. They will continue to scrape for scraps, act in ways that should be foreign to them, and soon forget why they became scientists in the first place. It has been my experience that "scientists" as a group pay little attention to politics, and view that as a mark of distinction. Pity. It is said that Trotsky IIRC wrote (paraphrase), "You may not be interested in politics, but politics is certainly interested in you." Yes, indeed.
Wikipedia search term: "Bayh-Dole Act"
kiwi , August 31, 2019 at 11:42 am
Yes, everything now is about greed and speed.
And I think the speed part of the equation may have a lot to do with the way we no longer value integrity in people or in processes.
Yves cites the Powell memo as a cause, but I have to wonder if speed is the major cause of overall decline. After all, humans were largely agrarian. One must be patient to grow things and get your reward from that process on a regular yearly basis. In your field, painstaking research was the norm.
Now, so much is instant, and I think speed has caused much breakdown in human relations.
New Wafer Army , August 31, 2019 at 2:31 pm
That is an amazing anecdote. Thank you very much for taking the time to post. Would you consider writing an article on the topic? I am sure that Naked Capitalism would publish it. It is very important to get this stuff documented for the record. Hope to hear more from you.
oaf , August 31, 2019 at 10:01 am
Lsuoma , August 31, 2019 at 12:12 pm
Everybody needs somebody
Wukchumni , August 31, 2019 at 10:10 am
Anytime i'm hit with the "have a nice day" comment, I always tell them with a cheerful smile, "thanks, but I had other plans".
ambrit , August 31, 2019 at 12:02 pm
I will occasionally tell a cashier or greeter/security person who gives me the canned "have a blessed day" spiel that; "I'm not from around here. You can tell me to have a rotten day. I won't complain." Sadly, only about one in ten gets the joke and responds accordingly.
My best response to this gambit was from an older, "Traditionalist Evangelical" style woman at the gates of the local WalMart. "That's okay. You are leaving this store. Your bad luck for the day is now over."
The Rev Kev , August 31, 2019 at 10:14 am
I have mentioned before how Stephen Covey – author of the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" – did a study of American self-help books for his doctoral dissertation. He found that until about the 1920s, most American self-help books were about developing your character and Ben Franklin's books were typical of these. However, about the 1920s on, there was a very noticeable shift in the emphasis of these books. Now it was all about image and putting on a front. Books like "How To Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie and "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill are typical here. So if you wanted to identify an inflexion point for the importance of character in our culture, you would have to say that it started about a century ago.
Off The Street , August 31, 2019 at 11:09 am
Booster, or Wise Guy, choose one.
Michael Fiorillo , August 31, 2019 at 11:37 am
Or Bruce Barton's "The Man Nobody Knows," which in the late 20's comforted the comfortable by explaining that Jesus was the first Big Businessman.
Always be Closing, baby, Always Be Closing
Fiery Hunt , August 31, 2019 at 11:55 am
"About a century ago".
A time we are desperately re-creating to the benefit of none but a few.
Anarcissie , August 31, 2019 at 12:18 pm
This seems like the contrasts noted in David Riesman's The Lonely Crowd between the 'tradition-directed', 'inner-directed', and 'other-directed' character types. But are these fashions, or a reflection of cultural needs driven by the movement from a largely agricultural society to an industrial one? Can the poor afford good character? The yeoman on his plot can perhaps defy his society for a long time, whereas the industrial worker or manager needs his job every day and must get along to keep it.
EoH , August 31, 2019 at 12:18 pm
The rise of Madison Avenue, during and post-First World War, thanks much to Sigmund Freud's son-in-law, Edward Bernays.
Jonathan Holland Becnel , August 31, 2019 at 1:08 pm
Showtimes new show, On becoming a God in Central Florida, skewers the Self Help genre.
Kirsten Dunst is terrific!
DJG , August 31, 2019 at 11:25 am
Thank you, Yves Smith. David's comment about his own rise caught my eye the other day, and I have been thinking about it, too. I don't know David's exact circumstances in the U.K, but I was as scholarship boy in high school and college in the U S of A. So here I am, with an "influential" job in publishing, which still can be very Waspy. (And that includes the women.)
The current issue in some respects is not that the homogeneity produced such perfect results (for instance, we should not forget longstanding problems like discrimination against Jews in academia and the CIA as a kind of Waspy adventure-fantasyland). Our current moral dilemma is that no one talks about character. In that "homogeneous" time, one could get rid of a troublesome man by noting that he wasn't a serious man. Not being a "serious man" was a major impediment. Now, we think that everyone is serious, with serious opinions, which we may not judge. Marianne Moore reputedly "did not suffer fools gladly." Now she would be considered an uptight collaborator with patriarchy.
The language for assessing character is no longer used: Probity. Thrift. Reliability. Consistency. Taking the long view. Equanimity. Justice (without qualifiers like "social"). Discernment. Good judgment. Think about how little one sees these words used these days in discussing chararcter. Instead, we get hagiographies of John McCain, a spoiled child, blowhard veteran, and lousy politician. We get Madeleine Albright discoursing on special places in hell where any woman with her own point of view can be consigned.
Many of the agreements that held U.S. society together had to be dismantled: That is part of what the New Deal was for. FDR knew that the discrimination against its own citizens wasn't going to last and that the economic collapse made it all worse. And yet even he couldn't eliminate racial discrimation.
Nevertheless, we are a long way from FDR, a man of character, and Eleanor Roosevelt, a woman revered for her character, when we now pretend that celebrities like McCain and Hillary Clinton are worthy of leading us, let alone respect.
Lambert Strether , August 31, 2019 at 4:36 pm
> FDR knew that the discrimination against its own citizens wasn't going to last and that the economic collapse made it all worse. And yet even he couldn't eliminate racial discrimation.
I have read that FDR tried to break with the Southern Democrats in 1937, but I need to hunt down the reference. If so, good for him.
NotTimothyGeithner , August 31, 2019 at 9:02 pm
I can't find easy to access articles, but I seem to remember this book, "Roosevelt's Purge."
The influence of the South on the Democratic caucus was known and complained about. LBJ's pitch in the 1956 convention was that he could control the South if need be.
Joe Well , August 31, 2019 at 11:42 am
Didn't that wonderfully collegial bunch include the Best and Brightest who killed over 3 million Southeast Asians and some 10000s of Americans in the 1960s-1970s? Or is this a later age cohort? New Deal/Great Society liberalism's strategic interventions killed more people than neoliberalism's endless wars, lest we forget.
ambrit , August 31, 2019 at 12:04 pm
Overseas, in the countries affected by both series of conflicts, the millions of dead would disagree with you.
Anon , August 31, 2019 at 6:42 pm
Not certain the purpose of the comparison, but the Colonists, the Revolutionaries, and Blue and Grey federalist armies, the MIC, etc. have been eliminating "others" since forever.
Cat Burglar , August 31, 2019 at 11:46 am
The dictionary definition of character is "the mental and moral qualities distinctive of an individual."
I associate the term with a kind of neo-Victorian anglophile section of the US political right who put it around starting in the 1980s as a kind of synonym for social conformity and obedience to authority. I hate to admit it, but I have never really been able to figure out what it means, and have regarded it as hot air.
The dictionary definition suggests it could just be equal to the word individual , since the qualities of an individual are equal to an individual. In this case, as Mark Twain put it, "Why write 'metropolis' when you get the same pay for 'city?"
If the word is meant to draw attention to the qualities of a person as separate from their individuality, then it gets a little more interesting. Then you get to identify and name the qualities and what they mean, and you get to find out who has the power to do that. I remember our neo-Victorians were big on using very conventional abstract universals to corral social behavior. One of my current favorites is "personal responsibility," which is often employed by congress persons as a rationale for policies in support of debt peonage and medical bankruptcy, but not applied to their own role in mass murders.
The colloquial meaning of character seems to be the only one that carries a meaning that goes beyond any synonym. There are plenty of real characters out there, still. (One of my favorites was the subject of the film Dirtbag .)
This article takes the word in a direction I haven't seen before: that full engagement with others is a quality necessary to full individuality. That seems like a much less dubious use of the word.
ewmayer , August 31, 2019 at 5:19 pm
"I associate the term with a kind of neo-Victorian anglophile section of the US political right who put it around starting in the 1980s as a kind of synonym for social conformity and obedience to authority."
Were he still around, the late Martin Luther King Jr. might take issue with that, pardon the pun, characterization. Which is not to say that, as with any other word, it is not subject to misuse by those of ill intent.
Cat Burglar , August 31, 2019 at 9:26 pm
Right. The "content of their character." I forgot about that one.
The Rev Kev , August 31, 2019 at 10:03 pm
Damn. I wish that I had remembered that great MLK quote.
rob , September 2, 2019 at 7:44 am
I often think that the quote of MLK about the "content of their character" is such a good example of how we are living in a bizarro world when people talk about Obama .
Talk about a person whose only good quality is the color of his skin.
A "black" man became president. Which is a good thing that broke one tradition .. but that "man" was in no way possessing of any "good" character.
Like a carnival trick . a major schmuck was promoted in the cultural ethos as having been good, merely because he is black . but without any thought as to the POOR quality of his character.
In a reasonable world, no one would allow obama to be proclaimed in any way , as an example of MLK's vision of a man being judged by "the content of his character, and not the color of his skin."
MichaelSF , August 31, 2019 at 11:52 am
(And he did me the honor of reading everything I read: every book every article, every draft, the pages a sea of yellow highlight)
Shouldn't that be "reading everything I wrote:"?
Yves Smith Post author , August 31, 2019 at 10:44 pm
No, because Amar is an academic, so unless one said otherwise, "read everything I wrote" would mean published work only. Reading every draft is extraordinary.
EoH , August 31, 2019 at 12:00 pm
Some years ago, the president of a small liberal arts college began to get to know his new home. His predecessors normally did this at faculty teas, president's dinners for donors, the odd picnic with students, and informal gatherings among staff. In a world before deanlets, assistant assistants, and chiefs of staff, that was a small world.
But this new president inverted the pyramid. His first gathering was with the custodial and kitchen staffs, groundskeepers, and the like, whom he eventually got to know on a first name basis. They took note, as did the faculty, who still ran the place.
Fast forward a few decades. Another new president's first task – backed by a like-minded board – was to outsource all those jobs. In a small college town, losing its other large employers to shutdowns and consolidations, scores more people were thrown out of work, adding to town-and-gown tensions.
An alternative for staff tossed out of work and with few options was to become a local hire for the out-of-town outsourced employer. That meant doing the same job for less pay, without benefits, with no union or worker protections, and without a relationship with their absentee employer. Profits left the local economy as fast as those employer-employee relations at the college. But the new president checked a box on his CEO-like resume.
A modest example, it captures several of neoliberalism's core objectives: imposing business priorities and methods on cultural institutions, outsourcing, union busting, and aggregating revenue and profits in a handful of distant locations.
The same work got done, often by the same people, but the culture was irrevocably weakened. All for a few dollars more, fewer than were paid to the plethora of new staff and their myriad of business plans, intended to make faculty and students responsible for nothing but themselves.
ambrit , August 31, 2019 at 12:09 pm
And, sadly, the only people utilizing "direct action" remedies for these systemic maladies are lone nutter types.
Imagine America with a well organized and militant underground movement.
The present day 'Masters of the Universe' are building up their organs of opression to combat such an eventuality. This will end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Anarcissie , August 31, 2019 at 12:49 pm
There is a sort of world underground, as noted in this very publication ('Add Oil', a few days ago). It seems to be 'open source' as 'Add Oil' says, and constantly evolving. Random other examples: Gilets Jaunes, Occupy Wall Street, Tahrir. As the system of the Ruling Class weakens and casts more people off, they become available for this sort of activity.
ambrit , August 31, 2019 at 3:34 pm
Agreed. As my dear old Dad was wont to say after a few beers, "The Fourth International finds work for idle hands."
KLG , September 1, 2019 at 7:10 am
Your final paragraph explains every college and university.
Barry Fay , August 31, 2019 at 12:21 pm
What character is, is wanting and trying to have character – we all know what that means and know it is a tough row to hoe! So it was gotten rid of by those unwilling to make the effort – sort of like "memorising" was gotten rid of with clever attacks on its "efficacy". Katy, bar the door!
orange cats , August 31, 2019 at 12:53 pm
Civility and character are often aligned but when civility is chiefly a cultural pose it says next to nothing about how repressed, angry, selfish or incompetent someone is. The following is a synopsis of Marilynne Robinson's remarkable book "Mother Country" published in the 1999 (Britain has a minimum wage now).
'So asks a book-within-the-book where Robinson looks to the past, even unto Poor Law of the 14th Century, for the secrets of national character. What does she find? That beneath the famous civility the British have always wasted lives and credited the idea of human surplus; that there have in the past been policies of depopulation. That there is a lack "of positive, substantive personal and political rights." That industrial illness and accident are common and customary. That there has never been a minimum wage. That many factors, including the Official Secrets Act, restrict the flow of information. That the (non-elected) Permanent Civil Service is professional and very powerful. That bumbling amateurism is still respectable, with chilling ramifications–an inability to gather meaningful statistics, for instance, or to keep track of such crucial documents as half the mortality data on workers at Windscale. That the citizenry is passive. That it is hard to locate responsibility, and that profit is motive and justification enough for almost anything.'
JEHR , August 31, 2019 at 12:57 pm
So I am here wondering where I obtained my sense of "morality" and "ethical" behaviour. My mother emphasized that truthfulness and honesty were imperative. I rarely lied to her or stole from her. My primary teachers emphasized working hard and finishing work to the point that it was the best I could do (one teacher especially said that I should work to my best abilities and I tried to do that). My secondary teachers taught me how to study for tests, how to memorize poetry and what was worth learning (via the curriculum). My university professors talked about analyzing works of literature and how such analysis helped us understand life as lived by all of us. My marriage taught me how to put others' physical and emotional needs ahead of my own. My old age revealed to me that knowing oneself was a most frightful thing to engage in.
I never thought that I would have to learn about how greed works in the banking system; how false prophets are everywhere; how great wealth pollutes the character as well as the environment; that pornography is considered entertainment; that politics has its very own pollutants that taint our shared world; and so on. I think it is well past time to leave.
ambrit , August 31, 2019 at 3:40 pm
I'd love to join you in exploring that 'Great Void' but I have too many responsibilities left here in the 'Realm of Maya.'
That's the lesson I did not expect to learn in my middle age; that there is always going to be some responsibility needing one's attention and effort.
I am relearning with a vengeance the marriage lesson you mention.
As for knowing myself, well, the older I get, the more I realize that I know nothing.
Keep the faith!
Susan the other` , August 31, 2019 at 1:32 pm
Very nice eulogy. It makes me remember people with that inner strength in my life. There have been quite a few. The difference between an ordinary good character and a great one is energy, imo. People who have the energy to share their good thinking and the patience to listen are the best. They just operate on a slightly higher frequency. McArthur may have been one in a million, but he influenced millions. So it consoles me to think that there are enough people of good character in this world to turn things around. Just because I wasn't personally acquainted with them, doesn't mean I wasn't influenced by them. The very function of society.
lyman alpha blob , August 31, 2019 at 1:56 pm
When I was hired for a non-management position several years ago, the CEO of my company came up to me on my first day and addressed me by name to welcome me to the job. I was rather shocked that she even knew I'd been hired. She was a 30+ year employee of the company who had worked her way up from being a freelance writer. Many of my coworkers then had been with the company for decades too.
She retired a few years into my tenure and the place really hasn't been the same since she left – the kind of neoliberal MBA mentality well known to NC readers has come to the forefront. Pretty sure I'm not the only one who misses her leadership and character.
chuckw , August 31, 2019 at 2:12 pm
I'm all in favor of gentlemanly manners and am trying to teach them to my son. On the other hand, there have been a lot of people who could be flawed in their personal dealings but dedicated to the greatest good. And many slave owners who were courtly and thoughtful, especially regarding the opposite sex.
I'm sure that Mr. McArthur was a great guy. But what was the HBS up to while he was dean and what did that say about his deeper values? This is from a Newsweek story from a couple years ago about the evolution of shareholder primacy:
" the new belief that the shareholder was supreme, absolving managers of responsibility to any "stakeholder" -- employees, communities, society itself -- except shareholders. The bottom line was all that mattered.
John McArthur, then dean of HBS, liked Jensen's message and invited him to HBS as a visiting professor in 1984. In a 1999 vanity project about McArthur's tenure, The Intellectual Venture Capitalist, HBS trotted out a rationale for hiring him: "Jensen had been interested in testing his unorthodox ideas against the experiences of practitioners and had agreed to come to HBS on a temporary basis to get increased access to high-level decision makers in business." Hogwash. "Theory of the Firm" was testable only in the sense that Keynesian economics is testable, or a theory of whether a hurricane might sweep beachfront houses out to sea is testable -- you can debate the issues until you're blue in the face, but at some point, you just have to see what happens.A course grounded in agency theory that Jensen developed at HBS -- The Coordination and Control of Markets and Organizations -- was designed to make students more "tough-minded" and shift them from the "stakeholder model" of organizational purpose. It became one of the most popular electives at the school. Agency theory wasn't new, but Jensen's resurrected form of it provided academic justification for the takeover movement, and HBS provided its revolutionary soldiers."
David in Santa Cruz , August 31, 2019 at 2:30 pm
Yves, this post and Jerri-Lynn's companion post of Bill Black on corruption, are important discussions of our dishonorable libertarian zeitgeist.
Ironically, I think that the origins of modern neoliberal libertarianism can be traced back to Woodstock and its evil double Altamont. It can be no coincidence that Trump was played off the convention stage by a recording of the Stones' You Can't Always Get What You Want .
I think that George Monbiot describes it well:
It is a pitiless, one-sided, mechanical view of the world, which elevates the rights of property over everything else, meaning that those who possess the most property end up with great power over others. Dressed up as freedom, it is a formula for oppression and bondage. It does nothing to address inequality, hardship or social exclusion. A transparently self-serving vision, it seeks to justify the greedy and selfish behaviour of those with wealth and power.
Why Libertarians Must Deny Climate Change
The Guardian, January 6, 2012
barry fay , September 1, 2019 at 8:14 am
Just because something is counterintuitive does not mean it´s insightful – mostly it means that it is just plain wrong! In this case, trotting out Woodstock as the root of neoliberal anything is absurd. The anti-corporation, anti-war, anti-empire feelings were palpable (I was there – you can hear them paging my twin brother "Alan Fay" on the album). The sense of community and brotherly love was REAL – as was the incipient reactionary response. Can´t have those kinds of ideas gaining traction in a capitalist society!
Bazarov , August 31, 2019 at 4:18 pm
I travel to Georgia frequently. I've seen that state's rural and urban and in between. While I did encounter some of the "southern hospitality" people so often cite, it was usually present in an upper-class milieu and did not leave much of an impression on me, as it felt "church-smile" inflected.
What did leave an impression on me was the homelessness and vagrancy, especially in Atlanta, where on my way back to the airport, I had a man practically beg me to let him carry my luggage so as to have a reason to give him alms. I had, on that same trip and on subsequent trips to the state, many similar encounters. These people were rather pushy–it was disturbing to me in that their hustle was driven by obvious desperation.
I currently live in Indiana, in a relatively affluent town, though I'm working class and reside in a modest apartment. Until recently, I did not own a car. I would walk to the grocery store a couple times a week. On one such walk, a homeless man asked if I had a light for his cigarette. I didn't, but we walked together for about twenty minutes. During our walk, I asked him about his life.
According to this man, the homeless in our town live in a tent settlement in the woods, which is the only place the police will tolerate such a gathering because it's out of sight (and therefore out of mind for the people that matter). He explained to me that, whatever the hardships for the homeless in our town, it was nothing compared to Atlanta, where he lived prior. He described the city as having the "hardest" streets he'd ever experienced. I should probably mention that this man was likely in his late 40s or early 50s, meaning he'd experienced a lot! It was so terrifying, he had to flee north.
That's what comes vividly to mind when I think of the "South". The politeness stuff hardly rates in comparison.
anon y'mouse , August 31, 2019 at 8:28 pm
as a total outsider, i feel that the veneer of the "southern hospitality" is intentionally to paper over and ignore the continuation of unjust systems.
this kind of "treating people with basic human decency" can and does very easily morph into "be quiet and say nothing while your social betters ride roughshod over everyone because you have no standing yourself to oppose them and it is considered impolite for YOU to point out these discrepancies".
i am torn between enjoying the image of sociability and detesting it. i know for a fact that most of it is a front, and that many people are talked badly about behind closed doors and over back fences, and that many people are shut out through these "kindnesses" (you can't complain as long as they didn't spit in your face). a lot of it is about maintaining pecking order. is -that- character? i think not.
but what do i know?
Yves Smith Post author , August 31, 2019 at 10:54 pm
Alabama doesn't have that many homeless because housing (particularly trailers) are cheap. Not saying those homeless are treated well, but there are shelters and services.
Atlanta is also an Old South city whereas Birmingham grew up after the Civil War.
Hayek's Heelbiter , August 31, 2019 at 4:21 pm
As a Southern exile of Faulkner's second type, now living in the UK, I respectfully disagree slightly with the statement:
.cultural homogeneity in the civil service, in politics, and even partly in the media, which had its origin in a certain upper middle class sense of duty, honesty and competence, inherited from the serious professional classes of the nineteenth century.
I think it goes much deeper than that back to a perhaps medieval sense of noblesse oblige .
You see this most starkly in the difference between Kate Middleton, who appears all over the place at the most mundane functions, allowing herself to be photographed with all and sundry, and Meghan Markle, who jets about in private planes on vacations and demands an entire section for herself at Wimbledon, asking guards to stop people photographing her.
Like so many of the 1%, I think her attitude could best be summed up as noblesse oublier .
inode_buddha , August 31, 2019 at 5:42 pm
I've been under the impression that character was quite valuable to those who assume to be my superiors, particularly at work. "Builds character" they'd say. After about 30 years of that bullshit, I finally had the gall to ask the CEO about why he doesn't he build his *own* character, as opposed to building everyone elses.
They love building character, as long as it's someone elses.
Nope, don't work there anymore.
David , August 31, 2019 at 10:29 pm
I have always wondered why there are so many shootings today. The AR-15 came out in the 60s and I felt no fear going through a public high school in the late 70s. Now, it's "gun control/do something" vs improving the character of our country's citizens. Yeah, I know – trying to improve the character of our citizens is not very hash tag-able/ would be extremely difficult to do. But gun control is made for hashtags. We are doomed.
New Wafer Army , September 1, 2019 at 4:20 am
This book by Mark Ames should be elucidating:
Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond .
David , September 1, 2019 at 8:19 pm
Yep – We are doomed.
Sep 02, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
ambrit , , August 31, 2019 at 11:55 am
Thatcher was an English politico. It is not what she said, but what she did that counts. She is probably down in Dante's Inferno, Ring 8, sub-rings 7-10. (Frauds and false councilors.) See, oh wayward sinners: http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/circle8b.html
The Rev Kev , , September 2, 2019 at 12:37 am
Ring 8, sub-rings 7-10? She will probably find Milton Friedman in the basement there.
ambrit , September 2, 2019 at 7:09 am
Ah, you think that Milton should be at the bottom, eh? Then, I hope that he knows how to ice skate. (He was the worst kind of 'class traitor.' [His parents were small store owner/managers.])
Ring 8 of the Inferno is for 'frauds' of all sorts, sub-rings 7-10 are reserved for Thieves, Deceivers, Schismatics, and Falsifiers. Maggie should feel right at home there.
Sep 02, 2019 | www.unz.com
The Jeffrey Epstein case is notable for the ups and downs in media coverage it's gotten over the years. Everybody, it seems, in New York society knew by 2000 that Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell were corrupting teenage girls, but the press wouldn't cover it. Articles by New York in 2002 and Vanity Fair in 2003 alluded to it gently, while probing Epstein's finances more closely. In 2005, the Palm Beach police investigated. The county prosecutor, Democrat Barry Krischer, wouldn't prosecute for more than prostitution, so they went to the federal prosecutor, Republican Alexander Acosta, and got the FBI involved. Acosta's office prepared an indictment, but before it was filed, he made a deal: Epstein agreed to plead guilty to a state law felony and receive a prison term of 18 months. In exchange, the federal interstate sex trafficking charges would not be prosecuted by Acosta's office. Epstein was officially at the county jail for 13 months, where the county officials under Democratic Sheriff Ric Bradshaw gave him scandalously easy treatment , letting him spend his days outside, and letting him serve a year of probation in place of the last 5 months of his sentence. Acosta's office complained, but it was a county jail, not a federal jail, so he was powerless.
Epstein was released, and various lawsuits were filed against him and settled out of court, presumably in exchange for silence. The media was quiet or complimentary as Epstein worked his way back into high society. Two books were written about the affair, and fell flat. The FBI became interested again around 2011 ( a little known fact ) and maybe things were happening behind the scenes, but the next big event was in 2018 when the Miami Herald published a series of investigative articles rehashing what had happened.
In 2019 federal prosecutors indicted Epstein, he was put in jail, and he mysteriously died. Now, after much complaining in the press about how awful jails are and how many people commit suicide, things are quiet again, at least until the Justice Department and the State of Florida finish their investigation a few years from now. (For details and more links, see " Investigation: Jeffrey Epstein "at Medium.com and " Jeffrey Epstein " at Wikipedia .)
I'm an expert in the field of "game theory", strategic thinking. What would I do if I were Epstein? I'd try to get the President, the Attorney-General, or the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York to shut down the investigation before it went public. I'd have all my friends and all my money try to pressure them. If it failed and I were arrested, it would be time for the backup plan -- the Deal. I'd try to minimize my prison time, and, just as important, to be put in one of the nicer federal prisons where I could associate with financial wizards and drug lords instead of serial killers, black nationalists, and people with bad breath.
That's what Epstein would do. What about the powerful people Epstein would turn in to get his deal? They aren't as smart as Epstein, but they would know the Deal was coming -- that Epstein would be quite happy to sacrifice them in exchange for a prison with a slightly better golf course. What could they do? There's only one good option -- to kill Epstein, and do it quickly, before he could start giving information samples to the U. S. Attorney.
Trying to kill informers is absolutely routine in the mafia, or indeed, for gangs of any kind. The reason people call such talk "conspiracy theories" when it comes to Epstein is that his friends are WASPs and Jews, not Italians and Mexicans. But WASPs and Jews are human too. They want to protect themselves. Famous politicians, unlike gangsters, don't have full-time professional hit men on their staffs, but that's just common sense -- politicians rarely need hit men, so it makes more sense to hire them on a piecework basis than as full-time employees. How would they find hit men? You or I wouldn't know how to start, but it would be easy for them. Rich powerful people have bodyguards. Bodyguards are for defense, but the guys who do defense know guys who do offense. And Epstein's friends are professional networkers. One reporter said of Ghislaine Maxwell, "Her Rolodex would blow away almost anyone else's I can think of -- probably even Rupert Murdoch's." They know people who know people. Maybe I'm six degrees of separation from a mafia hit man, but not Ghislaine Maxwell. I bet she knows at least one mafioso personally who knows more than one hit man.
In light of this, it would be very surprising if someone with a spare $50 million to spend to solve the Epstein problem didn't give it a try. A lot of people can be bribed for $50 million. Thus, we should have expected to see bribery attempts. If none were detected, it must have been because prison workers are not reporting they'd been approached.
Some people say that government incompetence is always a better explanation than government malfeasance. That's obviously wrong -- when an undeserving business gets a contract, it's not always because the government official in charge was just not paying attention. I can well believe that prisons often take prisoners off of suicide watch too soon, have guards who go to sleep and falsify records, remove cellmates from prisoners at risk of suicide or murder, let the TV cameras watching their most important prisoners go on the blink, and so forth. But that cuts both ways.
Remember, in the case of Epstein, we'd expect a murder attempt whether the warden of the most important federal jail in the country is competent or not. If the warden is incompetent, we should expect that murder attempt to succeed. Murder becomes all the more more plausible. Instead of spending $50 million to bribe 20 guards and the warden, you just pay some thug $30,000 to walk in past the snoring guards, open the cell door, and strangle the sleeping prisoner, no fancy James Bond necessary. Or, if you can hire a New York Times reporter for $30,000 ( as Epstein famously did a couple of years ago), you can spend $200,000 on a competent hit man to make double sure. Government incompetence does not lend support to the suicide theory; quite the opposite.
Now to my questions.Why is nobody blaming the Florida and New York state prosecutors for not prosecuting Epstein and others for statutory rape?
Statutory rape is not a federal crime, so it is not something the Justice Dept. is supposed to investigate or prosecute. They are going after things like interstate sex trafficking. Interstate sex trafficking is generally much harder to prove than statutory rape, which is very easy if the victims will testify.
At any time from 2008 to the present, Florida and New York prosecutors could have gone after Epstein and easily convicted him. The federal nonprosecution agreement did not bind them. And, of course, it is not just Epstein who should have been prosecuted. Other culprits such as Prince Andrew are still at large.
Note that if even if the evidence is just the girl's word against Ghislaine Maxwell's or Prince Andrew's, it's still quite possible to get a jury to convict. After all, who would you believe, in a choice between Maxwell, Andrew, and Anyone Else in the World? For an example of what can be done if the government is eager to convict, instead of eager to protect important people, see the 2019 Cardinal Pell case in Australia. He was convicted by the secret testimony of a former choirboy, the only complainant, who claimed Pell had committed indecent acts during a chance encounter after Mass before Pell had even unrobed. Naturally, the only cardinal to be convicted of anything in the Catholic Church scandals is also the one who's done the most to fight corruption. Where there's a will, there's a way to prosecute. It's even easier to convict someone if he's actually guilty.Why isn't anybody but Ann Coulter talking about Barry Krischer and Ric Bradshaw, the Florida state prosecutor and sheriff who went easy on Epstein, or the New York City police who let him violate the sex offender regulations?
Krischer refused to use the evidence the Palm Beach police gave him except to file a no-jail-time prostitution charge (they eventually went to Acosta, the federal prosecutor, instead, who got a guilty plea with an 18-month sentence). Bradshaw let him spend his days at home instead of at jail.
In New York State, the county prosecutor, Cyrus Vance, fought to prevent Epstein from being classified as a Level III sex offender. Once he was, the police didn't enforce the rule that required him to check in every 90 days.How easy would it have been to prove in 2016 or 2019 that Epstein and his people were guilty of federal sex trafficking?
Not easy, I should think. It wouldn't be enough to prove that Epstein debauched teenagers. Trafficking is a federal offense, so it would have to involve commerce across state lines. It also must involve sale and profit, not just personal pleasure. The 2019 indictment is weak on this. The "interstate commerce" looks like it's limited to Epstein making phone calls between Florida and New York. This is why I am not completely skeptical when former U.S. Attorney Acosta says that the 2008 nonprosecution deal was reasonable. He had strong evidence the Epstein violated Florida state law -- but that wasn't relevant. He had to prove violations of federal law.Why didn't Epstein ask the Court, or the Justice Dept., for permission to have an unarmed guard share his cell with him?
Epstein had no chance at bail without bribing the judge, but this request would have been reasonable. That he didn't request a guard is, I think, the strongest evidence that he wanted to die. If he didn't commit suicide himself, he was sure making it easy for someone else to kill him.Could Epstein have used the safeguard of leaving a trove of photos with a friend or lawyer to be published if he died an unnatural death?
Well, think about it -- Epstein's lawyer was Alan Dershowitz. If he left photos with someone like Dershowitz, that someone could earn a lot more by using the photos for blackmail himself than by dutifully carrying out his perverted customer's instructions. The evidence is just too valuable, and Epstein was someone whose friends weren't the kind of people he could trust. Probably not even his brother.Who is in danger of dying next?
Prison workers from guard to warden should be told that if they took bribes, their lives are now in danger. Prison guards may not be bright enough to realize this. Anybody who knows anything important about Epstein should be advised to publicize their information immediately. That is the best way to stay alive.
This is not like a typical case where witnesses get killed so they won't testify. It's not like with gangsters. Here, the publicity and investigative lead is what is most important, because these are reputable and rich offenders for whom publicity is a bigger threat than losing in court. They have very good lawyers, and probably aren't guilty of federal crimes anyway, just state crimes, in corrupt states where they can use clout more effectively. Thus, killing potential informants before they tell the public is more important than killing informants to prevent their testimony at trial, a much more leisurely task.What happened to Epstein's body?
The Justice Dept. had better not have let Epstein's body be cremated. And they'd better give us convincing evidence that it's his body. If I had $100 million to get out of jail with, acquiring a corpse and bribing a few people to switch fingerprints and DNA wouldn't be hard. I find it worrying that the government has not released proof that Epstein is dead or a copy of the autopsy.Was Epstein's jail really full of mice?
The New York Times says,
"Beyond its isolation, the wing is infested with rodents and cockroaches, and inmates often have to navigate standing water -- as well as urine and fecal matter -- that spills from faulty plumbing, accounts from former inmates and lawyers said. One lawyer said mice often eat his clients' papers."
" Often have to navigate standing water"? "Mice often eat his clients' papers?" Really? I'm skeptical. What do the vermin eat -- do inmates leave Snickers bars open in their cells? Has anyone checked on what the prison conditions really like?Is it just a coincidence that Epstein made a new will two days before he died?
I can answer this one. Yes, it is coincidence, though it's not a coincidence that he rewrote the will shortly after being denied bail. The will leaves everything to a trust, and it is the trust document (which is confidential), not the will (which is public), that determines who gets the money. Probably the only thing that Epstein changed in his will was the listing of assets, and he probably changed that because he'd just updated his list of assets for the bail hearing anyway, so it was a convenient time to update the will.Did Epstein's veiled threat against DOJ officials in his bail filing backfire?
Epstein's lawyers wrote in his bail request,
"If the government is correct that the NPA does not, and never did, preclude a prosecution in this district, then the government will likely have to explain why it purposefully delayed a prosecution of someone like Mr. Epstein, who registered as a sex offender 10 years ago and was certainly no stranger to law enforcement. There is no legitimate explanation for the delay."
I see this as a veiled threat. The threat is that Epstein would subpoena people and documents from the Justice Department relevant to the question of why there was a ten-year delay before prosecution, to expose the illegitimate explanation for the delay. Somebody is to blame for that delay, and court-ordered disclosure is a bigger threat than an internal federal investigation.Who can we trust?
Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, is the only government official who is clearly trustworthy, because he could have stopped the 2019 Epstein indictment and he didn't. I don't think Attorney-General Barr could have blocked it, and I don't think President Trump could have except by firing Berman. I do trust Attorney-General Barr, however, from what I've heard of him and because he instantly and publicly said he would have not just the FBI but the Justice Dept. Inspector-General investigate Epstein's death, and he quickly fired the federal prison head honcho. The FBI is untrustworthy, but Inspector-Generals are often honorable.
Someone else who may be a hero in this is Senator Ben Sasse. Vicki Ward writes in the Daily Beast :Will President Trump Cover Up Epstein's Death in Exchange for Political Leverage?
"It was that heart-wrenching series that caught the attention of Congress. Ben Sasse, the Republican senator from Nebraska, joined with his Democratic colleagues and demanded to know how justice had been so miscarried.
Given the political sentiment, it's unsurprising that the FBI should feel newly emboldened to investigate Epstein -- basing some of their work on Brown's excellent reporting."
President Trump didn't have anything personally to fear from Epstein. He is too canny to have gotten involved with him, and the press has been eagerly at work to find the slightest connection between him and Epstein and have come up dry as far as anything but acquaintanceship. But we must worry about a cover-up anyway, because rich and important people would be willing to pay Trump a lot in money or, more likely, in political support, if he does a cover-up.Why did Judge Sweet order Epstein documents sealed in 2017. Did he die naturally in 2019?
Judge Robert Sweet in 2017 ordered all documents in an Epstein-related case sealed. He died in May 2019 at age 96, at home in Idaho. The sealing was completely illegal, as the appeals court politely but devastatingly noted in 2019, and the documents were released a day or two before Epstein died. Someone should check into Judge Sweet's finance and death. He was an ultra-Establishment figure -- a Yale man, alas, like me, and Taft School -- so he might just have been protecting what he considered good people, but his decision to seal the court records was grossly improper.Did Epstein have any dealings in sex, favors, or investments with any Republican except Wexner?
Dershowitz, Mitchell, Clinton, Richardson, Dubin, George Stephanopolous, Lawrence Krauss, Katie Couric, Mortimer Zuckerman, Chelsea Handler, Cyrus Vance, and Woody Allen, are all Democrats. Did Epstein ever make use of Republicans? Don't count Trump, who has not been implicated despite the media's best efforts and was probably not even a Republican back in the 90's. Don't count Ken Starr– he's just one of Epstein's lawyers. Don't count scientists who just took money gifts from him. (By the way, Epstein made very little in the way of political contributions , though that little went mostly to Democrats ( $139,000 vs. $18,000 . I bet he extracted more from politicians than he gave to them.What role did Israeli politician Ehud Barak play in all this?
Remember Marc Rich? He was a billionaire who fled the country to avoid a possible 300 years prison term, and was pardoned by Bill Clinton in 2001. Ehud Barak, one of Epstein's friends, was one of the people who asked for Rich to be pardoned . Epstein, his killers, and other rich people know that as a last resort they can flee the country and wait for someone like Clinton to come to office and pardon them.
Acosta said that Washington Bush Administration people told him to go easy on Epstein because he was an intelligence source. That is plausible. Epstein had info and blackmailing ability with people like Ehud Barak, leader of Israel's Labor Party. But "intelligence" is also the kind of excuse people make up so they don't have to say "political pressure."Why did nobody pay attention to the two 2016 books on Epstein?
James Patterson and John Connolly published Filthy Rich: A Powerful Billionaire, the Sex Scandal that Undid Him , and All the Justice that Money Can Buy: The Shocking True Story of Jeffrey Epstein . Conchita Sarnoff published TrafficKing: The Jeffrey Epstein Case. I never heard of these before 2019. Did the media bury them?Which newspapers reported Epstein's death as "suicide" and which as "apparent suicide"?
More generally, which media outlets seem to be trying to brush Epstein's death under the rug? There seems to have been an orchestrated attempt to divert attention to the issue of suicides in prison. Subtle differences in phrasing might help reveal who's been paid off. National Review had an article, "The Conspiracy Theories about Jeffrey Epstein's Death Don't Make Much Sense." The article contains no evidence or argument to support the headline's assertion, just bluster about "madness" and "conspiracy theories". Who else publishes stuff like this?How much did Epstein corrupt the media from 2008 to 2019?
Even outlets that generally publish good articles must be suspected of corruption. Epstein made an effort to get good publicity. The New York Times wrote,
"The effort led to the publication of articles describing him as a selfless and forward-thinking philanthropist with an interest in science on websites like Forbes, National Review and HuffPost .
All three articles have been removed from their sites in recent days, after inquiries from The New York Times .
The National Review piece, from the same year, called him "a smart businessman" with a "passion for cutting-edge science."
Ms. Galbraith was also a publicist for Mr. Epstein, according to several news releases promoting Mr. Epstein's foundations In the article that appeared on the National Review site, she described him as having "given thoughtfully to countless organizations that help educate underprivileged children."
"We took down the piece, and regret publishing it," Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review since 1997, said in an email. He added that the publication had "had a process in place for a while now to weed out such commercially self-interested pieces from lobbyists and PR flacks.""
The New York Times was, to its credit, willing to embarrass other publications by 2019. But the Times itself had been part of the cover-up in previous years . Who else was?
Eric Rasmusen is an economist who has held an endowed chair at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business and visiting positions at Harvard Law School, Yale Law School, the Harvard Economics Department, Chicago's Booth School of Business, Nuffield College/Oxford, and the University of Tokyo Economics Department. He is best known for his book Games and Information. He has published extensively in law and economics, including recent articles on the burakumin outcastes in Japan, the use of game theory in jurisprudence, and quasi-concave functions. The views expressed here are his personal views and are not intended to represent the views of the Kelley School of Business or Indiana University. His vitae is at http://www.rasmusen.org/vita.htm .
Paul.Martin , says: September 2, 2019 at 3:54 am GMTNot one question involving Maurene Comey, then? She was one of the SDNY prosecutors assigned to this case, and her name has been significantly played down (if at all visible) in the reportage before or after Epstein's death. That she just "happened" to be on this case at all is quite an eyebrow raiser especially with her father under the ongoing "Spygate" investigationutu , says: September 2, 2019 at 4:43 am GMT
Apparently, there will always be many players on the field, and many ways to do damage control.Intelligent Dasein , says: Website September 2, 2019 at 4:44 am GMT
How easy would it have been to prove in 2016 or 2019 that Epstein and his people were guilty of federal sex trafficking?
It would be very easy for a motivated prosecutor.
Mann Act: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mann_Act The Mann Act was successfully used to prosecute several Christian preachers in 2008, 2010 and 2012.
So the problem was finding a motivated prosecutor in case of Jewish predator with very likely links to intelligence services of several countries. The motivation was obviously lacking.
Your "expertise" in game theory would be greatly improved if you let yourself consider the Jewish factor.As important as it is to go on asking questions about the life and death of Jeffrey Epstein, I have to admit that personally I'm just not interested. I've always found people of his social class to be vaguely repulsive even without the sordid sex allegations. Just their demanding personalities, just the thought of them hanging around in their terrycloth jogging suits, sneering at the world with their irrefrangible arrogance, is enough to make me shudder. I want nothing of their nightmare world; and when they die, I couldn't care less.utu , says: September 2, 2019 at 4:46 am GMTMark James , says: September 2, 2019 at 6:33 am GMT
More generally, which media outlets seem to be trying to brush Epstein's death under the rug?
Not the National Enquirer:
Jeffrey Epstein Murder Cover-up Exposed!
Death Scene Staged to Look Like Suicide
Billionaire's Screams Ignored by Guards!
Fatal Attack Caught on Jail Cameras!
Autopsy is Hiding the Truth!
National Enquirer, Sept 2. 2019
https://reader.magzter.com/preview/7l5c5vd5t28thcmigloxel3670370/367037I don't hold AG Barr in the high regard this piece does. While I'm not suggesting he had anything to do with Epstein's death I do think he's corrupt. I doubt he will do anything that leads to the truth. As for him relieving the warden of his duties, I would hope that was to be expected, wasn't it? I mean he only had two attempts on Epstein's life with the second being a success. Apparently the first didn't jolt the warden into some kind of action as it appears he was guilty of a number of sins including 'Sloth.'SafeNow , says: September 2, 2019 at 6:49 am GMT
As for the publications that don't like conspiracy theories –like the National Review -- they are a hoot. We are supposed to have faith in this rubbish? The cameras malfunctioned. He didn't have a cellmate. The guards were tired and forced to work overtime. There was no camera specifically in the cell with Epstein.
In the end I think Epstein probably was allowed to kill himself but I'm not confident in that scenario at all. And yes the media should pressure Barr to hav e a look in the cell and see exactly how a suicide attempt might have succeeded or if it was a long-shot at best, given the materiel and conditions.19. Why is the non-prosecution agreement ambiguous ("globally" binding), when it was written by the best lawyers in the country for a very wealthy client? Was the ambiguity bargained-for? If so, what are the implications?sally , says: September 2, 2019 at 7:32 am GMT
20. With "globally" still being unresolved (to the bail judge's first-paragraph astonishment), why commit suicide now?
21. The "it was malfeasance" components are specified. For mere malfeasance to have been the cause, all of the components would have to be true; it would be a multiplicative function of the several components. Is no one sufficiently quantitative to estimate the magnitude?
22. What is the best single takeaway phrase that emerges from all of this? My nomination is: "In your face." The brazen, shameless, unprecedented, turning-point, in-your-faceness of it.ER the answer is easy to you list of questions .. there is no law in the world when violations are not prosecuted and fair open for all to see trials are not held and judges do not deliver the appropriate penalties upon convictions. .. in cases involving the CIA prosecution it is unheard of that a open for all to see trial takes place.Anonymous  Disclaimer , says: Website September 2, 2019 at 7:33 am GMT
This is why we the governed masses need a parallel government..
such an oversight government would allow to pick out the negligent or wilful misconduct of persons in functional government and prosecute such persons in the independent people's court.. Without a second government to oversee the first government there is no democracy; democracy cannot stand and the governed masses will never see the light of a fair day .. unless the masses have oversight authority on what is to be made into law, and are given without prejudice to their standing in America the right to charge those associated to government with negligent or wilful misconduct.
mypointBrabantian , says: September 2, 2019 at 8:31 am GMT
https://www.youtube.com/embed/fMG8SVrqstg?feature=oembedThere are big questions this article is not asking eitherAnon  Disclaimer , says: September 2, 2019 at 8:34 am GMT
The words 'Mossad' seems not to appear above, and just a brief mention of 'Israel' with Ehud Barak
One tiny mention of Jewish magnate Les Wexner but no mention how he & the Bronfmans founded the 'Mega Group' of ultra-Zionist billionaires regularly meeting as to how they could prop up the Jewish state by any & all means, Wexner being the source of many Epstein millions, the original buyer of the NYC mansion he transferred to Epstein etc the excellent Epstein series by Whitney Webb on Mint Press covering all this
Was escape to freedom & Israe,l the ultimate payoff for Epstein's decades of work for Mossad, grooming and abusing young teens, filmed in flagrante delicto with prominent people for political blackmail?
Is it not likely this was a Mossad jailbreak covered by fake 'suicide', with Epstein alive now, with US gov now also in possession of the assumed Epstein sexual blackmail video tapes?
We have the Epstein 'death in jail' under the US Attorney General Bill Barr, a former CIA officer 1973-77, the CIA supporting him thru night law school, Bill Barr's later law firm Kirkland Ellis representing Epstein
Whose Jewish-born ex-OSS father Donald Barr had written a 'fantasy novel' on sex slavery with scenes of rape of underage teens, 'Space Relations', written whilst Don Barr was headmaster of the Dalton school, which gave Epstein his first job, teaching teens
So would a crypto-Jewish 'former' CIA officer who is now USA Attorney General, possibly help a Mossad political blackmailer escape to Israel after a fake 'jail suicide'?
An intriguing 4chan post a few hours after Epstein's 'body was discovered', says Epstein was put in a wheelchair and driven out of the jail in a van, accompanied by a man in a green military uniform – timestamp is USA Pacific on the screencap apparently, so about 10:44 NYC time Sat.10 Aug
FWIW, drone video of Epstein's Little St James island from Friday 30 August, shows a man who could be Epstein himself, on the left by one vehicle, talking to a black man sitting on a quad all-terrain unit
Close up of Epstein-like man between vehicles, from video note 'pale finger' match-up to archive photo Epstein
The thing that sticks out for me is that Epstein was caught, charged, and went to jail previously, but he didn't die . The second time, it appears he was murdered. I strongly suspect that the person who murdered Epstein was someone who only met Epstein after 2008, or was someone Epstein only procured for after 2008. Otherwise, this person would have killed Epstein back when Epstein was charged by the cops the first time.anonymous  Disclaimer , says: September 2, 2019 at 8:37 am GMT
Either that, or the killer is someone who is an opponent of Trump, and this person was genuinely terrified that Trump would pressure the Feds to avoid any deals and to squeeze all the important names out of Epstein and prosecute them, too.The author professes himself "expert in the field of "game theory", strategic thinking," but he doesn't say how his 18 questions were arrived at to the exclusion of hundreds of others. Instead, the column includes several casual assumptions and speculation. For example:Miro23 , says: September 2, 2019 at 9:45 am GMT
- "Probably the only thing that Epstein changed in his will was the listing of assets, and he probably changed that because he'd just updated his list of assets for the bail hearing anyway, so it was a convenient time to update the will."
- "President Trump didn't have anything personally to fear from Epstein."
- "I do trust Attorney-General Barr, however, from what I've heard of him and because he instantly and publicly said he would have not just the FBI but the Justice Dept. Inspector-General investigate Epstein's death, and he quickly fired the federal prison head honcho. The FBI is untrustworthy, but Inspector-Generals are often honorable."
As to this last, isn't "quickly [firing] the federal prison head honcho" consistent with a failure-to-prevent-suicide deflection strategy? And has Mr. Rasmusen not "heard" of the hiring of Mr. Epstein by Mr. Barr's father? Or of the father's own Establishment background?
I hope to be wrong, but my own hunch is that these investigations, like the parallel investigations of the RussiaGate hoax, will leave the elite unscathed. I also hope that in the meantime we see more rigorous columns here than this one.Sick of Orcs , says: September 2, 2019 at 9:45 am GMT
...Also, subsequently, it should have been a top priority to arrest Ghislaine Maxwell but the government, justice and media lack interest . Apparently, they don't know where she is, and they're not making any special efforts to find out.Epstein had no "dead man's switch" which would release what he knew to media? C'mon! This is basic Villainy 101.
Aug 29, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Everything went according to neoliberal dogma: Greed is good
As nondoc.com reported:
"I've opted not to read the entire 42-page judgment," Balkman told a packed courtroom in Norman shortly before announcing the numbers in his verdict. "The opioid crisis is an eminent and menace to Oklahomans.
My judgement includes findings of fact and conclusions of law that the state met its burden that the defendants Janssen and Johnson & Johnson's misleading marketing and promotion of opioids created a nuisance as defined by 50 O.S. Sec. 1 , including a finding that those actions compromised the health and safety of thousands of Oklahomans.
Specifically, defendants caused an opioid crisis that is evidenced by increased rates of addiction, overdose deaths and neonatal abstinence syndrome in Oklahoma."
Balkman said the opioid crisis is a "temporary public nuisance that can be abated."
"As I just stated, the opioid crisis has ravaged the state of Oklahoma. It must be abated immediately. For this reason, I am entering an abatement plan that consists of costs totaling $572,102,028 to immediately remediate the nuisance," Balkman said. "This is the amount of costs that I am constrained to order Janssen and Johnson & Johnson to pay based on the particulars of a nuisance claim and the evidence that was presented at trial.
"Whether additional programs and fundings are needed over an extended period of time, those are determinations to be made by our legislators and policy makers. In this moment and based on this record, this is what the court can and will do to abate the nuisance."
Balkman noted that he still has jurisdiction over the case , and that he almost certainly will be asked to make additional rulings.
"So it impossible for me to make any further statements about the trial or my ruling other than what I have said today," Balkman said.
Note that a judge, not a jury set the amount of damages to be awarded. A jury would almost certainly have awarded a higher payout by J & J (although that hypothetical amount may then have been reduced after appeal).
The amount J & J must now pay the state of Oklahoma is significantly greater than the $270 million Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin owned by the Sackler family, and the $85 million Teva Pharmaceuticals, separately agreed previously to settle each's respective Oklahoma claims. \
Additionally, Purdue and Teva also avoided incurring the costs of contesting a trial.
John Zelnicker , August 28, 2019 at 12:25 pm
Jerri-Lynn – Thank you for keeping us updated on the progress of these lawsuits. The pharmaceutical drug dealers need to be held accountable for the damage they have caused. The claim that OxyContin was not addictive, or less so than other opioids, was laughable to anyone who had some experience with them.
There have been three prosecutions locally of doctors who were giving out opioids like candy, even letting nurses write the scrips so the "patients" could be moved through the process more quickly.
I was a patient of one of those doctors (back problems, including surgery) for a while a couple of years before he was prosecuted, lost his license, and had to do some time in prison (IIRC). He seemed to follow most of the rules (and wrote all scrips himself), but was easily persuaded to increase a patient's dosage. Fortunately, I stopped taking opioids before things got hot.
Adam1 , August 28, 2019 at 12:39 pm
Unless it comes with several decades of jail time and confiscation of all private property obtained with ill begot gains (that's what we'd hand a major heroin dealer) then it's not a reasonable settlement.
J&J the company didn't do anything. It's just a legal, non-person thing. The criminals are the people running it and they need to be the ones held liable.
Don't get me wrong. J&J as a company needs to help fix this mess, but we can't let the real criminals slither into the night and drift off on their yachts drinking champagne bought with money taken from ruined families and communities.
PKMKII , August 28, 2019 at 12:43 pm
For context, J&J's net income for 2018 was $15.29 billion. So this particular verdict represents 3.74% of J&J's annual net income.
Annieb , August 28, 2019 at 1:37 pm
To get the full extent of Purdue's criminality, read "American Overdose." The author is Chris McGreal While reading it, I thought that this opioid epidemic began and developed in a similar fashion to the subprime mortgage fiasco with the same type of warnings, collusions and criminal fraud. Huge profits for the corporate criminals. And , tragically, the resulting human consequences, financial ruin in the one case and death in the other.
notabanktoadie , August 28, 2019 at 4:16 pm
In a healthy society, i.e. one with economic justice*, the demand for drugs would be small since there would be little need to escape reality per:
Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
And wine to him whose life is bitter.
Let him drink and forget his poverty
And remember his trouble no more.
Open your mouth for the mute,
For the rights of all the unfortunate.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy. Proverbs 31:6-9 [bold added]
*Which certainly would not include government privileges for private credit creation, i.e. for the banks and the rich, the most so-called credit worthy of what is then, in essence, the PUBLIC'S credit but for private profit.
DonCoyote , August 28, 2019 at 4:35 pm
Johnson & Johnson Pledges To Push Uppers For Couple Decades To Even Things Out (The Onion)
Gorsky also assured Johnson & Johnson's business partners the stimulants it plans to produce will be every bit as addictive as opioids and accompanied by an equally widespread misinformation campaign.
I think they forgot to mention that that's where $544 million of the $572 million settlement will go–back to J&J to produce, market, and distribute the uppers.
Aug 25, 2019 | off-guardian.org
... ... ..
Ed nails it: everyone gets the Debordian Spectacle angle. I, for one, need no more convincing of the true nature of capitalism. Which brings me back to Pfaller's meaningless usage of the term 'Postmodernism'. We had this discussion last week: so I will only re-iterate this. The blanket use of the term says nothing useful at all. For 'progressive neoliberalism': I propose Mark Fisher's term – "Capitalist Realism". Mainly because it does supply valuable conceptual and semantic framing of sense and meaning.
As given most succinctly in the book's (it's an essay really) subtitle and Thatcher's mantra – TINA (There Is No Alternative). Capitalism has totally colonised culture – in roughly the same timescale Pfaller is indicating (perhaps a bit earlier) – and shaped contemporary consciousness by commodifying and consumerising it.
The ideal modern subject is the 'consumer/spectator' who exercises their anti-capitalism by consuming a more ethical brand of product. In which way: capitalism subsumes its anti-capitalist antithesis TINA. If you have a new idealism: you have to market it and so it becomes just another brand of capitalism. It becomes a new consumerism. That's capitalist realism. TINA.
This double-bind situationism speaks more eloquently to me than the pseudo-label 'PoMo' – which can mean anything to anyone – and therefore means nothing to everyone. Which brings me back to the point, as I see it, that Ed is making. We need a new alternative. Bauman, Pfaller, Zizek, Giddens, etc can argue to the cows come home about when 'high modernity' became 'postmodernity' or did it just continue as 'liquid modernity' (to which I would concur) if not that these damn meaningless terms offer little of a counterculture or liberational praxis. One that defies consumerisation.
I give you us as the answer. That which we are when we turn away – and ultimately turn off – the consumer spectacle. We are not rational self-maximisers seeking maximum market access only for ourselves. Our idolatry of greed will not provide a Kantian *summum bonum* of objective market values of welfare and wellbeing for all. That is a mendacious lie only a utopian 'capitalist realist' could believe. We have to seek the alternative. Now: while we are already crossing the event horizon of yet another crisis of capitalism entering the black hole at the heart of overfinancialisation and debt deflation. We have yet to admit that it is entropy dragging us in. It's gonna have to more than a "beautiful, illuminating, and heart-rending" story. It's gonna have to be real world relevant and credible too.
Capitalism does not work as a culturally conditioned psychology; an ecology; or even as an economy. Each time it fails: it is restarted by a massive, never before known, transference of wealth from the poor to rich. These are waves and cycles of 'primitive accumulation' and 'accumulation by dispossession'.
Only utopian capitalist realists can ever believe that any of this pseudo-wealth will trickle down in any meaningful way. How can it ever be meaningful if it is essentially a meaningless inescapable void of exponential and entropic debt deflation? Capitalism is the biggest anti-utopian social engineering project in history. One that offers only a soulless, submissive Void for the consumer/spectator – TINA. That's capitalist realism.
Nothing else matters other than avoiding this Void of capitalist realist nihilisation of humanity. Nothing. Jeffrey who?
Aug 24, 2019 | off-guardian.org
The use of the word "hate" has become another thought-stopper. It's like calling something "Evil" without further explanation. I first realised this when I found the following article which is specifically about Off-Guardian:
The title is in the URL itself but it's worth emphasising since it headlines the article:
"Russian trolls exiled from Guardian find home for their hate"
And there it is – the simple assertion "hate". It's so crass. It's like cartoon propaganda – which may well be the most effective kind. And it echoes that old staple, "They just hate us!", "They are haters!" and, best of all, "Hatred of the good for being good." That last one is a masterstroke since it absolves one side of investigation while shoving all blame onto the other side. Best of all, the more "they" hate us, the more "good" we must be! 19 0 Reply Aug 22, 2019 5:25 PM Reader
F*** . am I russian now? ..and where can we pick our passports??Capricornia Man The article you provide a link to offers the following wisdom:Capricornia Man
'In line with the Kremlin's goals, OffGuardian seeks to undermine trust in the "mainstream media".'
Wanted to finish my above post by observing that, for anyone capable of a moderate level of independent thought, the "mainstream media" have done a brilliant job of forfeiting trust all by themselves.Elementor LOL – my favorite bit of that article is where they cite Kit's use of the internet-4Chan meme "accidentally the " as evidence English isn't his first language!!!!Roland Spansky
ROFL I literally nearly fell of my chair laughing.
This lady is revealed as either truly ancient, a cultural hermit or or herself a non-native English speaker.
Also she lies her ancient ass off about Ukraine.
That is fricken pricelessRhys Jaggar The real difficulty with all 'hate crime' stuff is proving that a hating state of mind exists. The key point here is that those offended by statements or those victimised may assume hate to be present when it may be hatred of an individual, not their sex, religion, sexual orientation etc.OffG
Here are few hard questions:
1. If I state, correctly, that several leaders of Russian mob families are- or have been Jewish, does that make me antisemitic?
I say absolutely it does not. I would back that up by saying that several other crime overlords profess to have Christian ancestry. So not all mob capos are Jewish ..and being Jewish does not make you more likely to lead a life of crime .
2. So what about if I killed a Jewish mobster because his hoods sexually abused my daughter? Does that make me antisemitic??
Absolutely not. I would kill any mob capo whose vermin attacked my daughter. Jewishness does not come into it. I certainly hated the mobster, but I did not hate his Jewishness .
3. What about if I say that the Israeli Secret Service, the Mossad, is a terrorist organisation?
Here we are talking about the official Intelligence Service of the Jewish State. Those folks are going to be Jews, representing Jewry. Is that anti-semitic?
Why?? Being a terrorist basically means you have either a very violent religion or you do not uphold the principles of a less violent one. I would point to the known terrorism in the histories of MI6, the CIA, the OSS and several others to prove that it is not Jewishness that drives the terror, rather the precepts under which Intelligence agencies are run.
4. What if I say that Jews are over-represented amongst the Western media and banking elites? Is that anti-semitic??
Well, firstly the data suggests I am being factual, namely that the actual number of Jews in such positions is far higher than might be expected on a population-based pro rata outcome. Secondly, have I said it is either good or bad? I think I am suggesting that society might discuss why that has come about, whether any consequences have ensued and whether the majority in a society consider those consequences to be appropriate. It is not anti-semitic to ask if a small minority holding inordinate influence/power is aggreable to the majority of the citizenry. After all, we are continually suggesting that white, public-school-educated male graduates of Oxbridge should not dominate UK society in this day and age .
5. What if I say that a small minority of Jews proclaim the Jewish people to be superior to all goyim? Is that factual or anti-semitic??
What if I say to hold such a view makes that subset of Jews to be racist?
My view again is that that is factually accurate. It does not imply all Jews think like that, does it? It is like saying in the 1970s that the National Front was racist: said nothing about the majority of British people, did I?
I would really dare some Jewish people to challenge those arguments.
Not by smearing, scaremongering, bursting into tears or any other melodrama.
Nor by power plays, threats, blackmail or libel.
By cool, reasoned argument .
Can we try to keep at least one thread free from discussing the antisemitism issue.wardropper
If you want to debate that subject there is an ongoing and currently civilised discussion between Mark and Mandy Miller on one of the Epstein threads. Feel free to re-post this comment there.
This article is about the media manipulation of the concept of 'hate'.
I share Norman Finkelstein's view that the appropriate response, both by us and by the Labour Party, for example, is to funnel any such accusations to a small unit which will answer any serious charges in detail, leaving the rest of us to state quite clearly, "It's over. We're not having our wide political and global interests forced into an endless, energy-sapping and time-wasting series of protests against ridiculous charges. We are not answering them any more. Take them to the relevant unit, and leave our free speech alone."Martin Usher
That said, Rhys does a great job of making his point, and perhaps the concept of "hate" is not so irrelevant to that point.
Antisemitism is not what's being discussed, its just a well known example of 'hate' that we can all more or less agree on. Its a tricky subject to discuss because its the closest thing that we have to Thoughtcrime in contemporary society so we need some sort of ground state we can work from.flaxgirl
The example of Jewish mob bosses is useful but we could have chosen American ones rather than Russian ones -- the Jewish 'mob' was preeminent in US cities before being displaced by the Italians/Sicilians. What I think is important, though, isn't stated and that's the idea that tribal identity has gradually been made important with our identity is inextricably bound up with our tribe, a tribe differentiated by religion, race or orientation but not notably by our economic class. The question shouldn't be to argue among ourselves about details and crumbs but to ask why allowing ourselves to sliced and diced into potentially warring groups. The media is full of it (literally and metaphorically) -- if its not race or gender then its the latest millennial versus baby boomer BS. To me the answer is obvious -- you don't want people uniting around common goals and expectations, you need to have them at each other's throats, fighting for those crumbs.
Incidentally, having to put up with racist jerks is the unfortunate side effect of espousing free speech. There's no easy way to winnow the good from the bad and you just know that if you let Big Brother decide for you then sooner rather than later it will be *you* that they'll be coming for.
Oh for goodness sake. It's all faked and they tell us it's faked loud and clear. I have a webpage on how they tell us clearly.OffG
Obviously, it must be a legality because these events are so full of obvious holes they have to be deliberate and in some cases what happens is virtually impossible such as in the event that happened in my own city last week. Mert Ney brandishes a knife in the middle of an amazingly empty Clarence St with BROWN EYES but when we see him pinned ludicrously under the milk crate he has BLUE EYES, a change in eye-colour obviously effected with blue-tinted contact lenses. Does anyone seriously believe that a dextrous Mert pulled out and inserted these contact lenses between his knife-brandishing and being pinned?
Scrutinise the media stories. Notice all the contradictions in the various versions of the story. Notice all the misspellings, the inappropriate tone and register of language. The phony loved ones and witnesses. The nauseating heroes pimping their employer on morning TV. The complete absence of any sense of reality to these highly improbable crimes. What will it take for the recognition of these events to catch on? I simply do not understand.
Here is the word "Staged" inserted incongruously into this text. "Must have been a hell of a drug bender "?????? How much clearer do they have to make it?
Sydney stabbing LIVE: NSW Police confirm body found in Clarence Street unit linked to attack
BREAKING: We can confirm the death of the woman in the Clarence Street unit in Sydney's CBD is linked to the stabbing on the street below. Staged Must have been a hell of a drug bender
And then we have the Philly cops spraying blood.
The blue/brown eyes thing is a non-issue, it can be created simply by changes in lighting levels or resolution. We pointed this out to you once already.flaxgirl
If you genuinely want to engage people and are not – as many claim – a troll please take some advice:
Add the words 'I think' or 'could be' occasionally.
Don't comport like a missionary trying to convert unbelievers.
Put forward suggestions rather than pronouncements of dogma.
That way your posts might provoke some genuine discussion. If you ignore these suggestions and continue with these repeat-posted manifestos of certitude it's going to start looking as if the claims of trollery are not misplaced.
PS – this commenter below is inviting discussion of potential hoax shootings – why not engage with him ?
PPS – The link you added to the alleged contact lenses is broken, so we're removing it. Add another below and we'll add it to this post of yours
The blue/brown eyes thing is a non-issue, it can be created simply by changes in lighting levels or resolution. We pointed this out to you once already.
Apologies, I do not remember seeing that, however, I'm not sure your assertion is valid – you'd have to show an example that matches mine. When you say the link didn't work I wonder if you copied the entire link or just clicked because obviously the link wasn't underlined for its entirety and for it to work you needed to copy and paste it. In any case I found a better link – see below.
If you scroll down on this page you will see a ring around Ney's eyes which clearly indicates a contact lens.
In this photo of a tinted contact lens you will see a similar-looking ring.
As usual, OffG, you select one item only – which you don't manage to debunk in any case. There are so very many things wrong with the stabbing incident story. Unsurprisingly, you fail to make a comment on the word "Staged" appearing incongruously for example. Please, I beg you, OffG, what is your explanation for the word "Staged" appearing incongruously in the middle of a paragraph on this story and are you going to tell me that it is just sloppy journalism to say " must have been a hell of a drug-bender" when a woman has just been knifed to death and another woman injured? Are you going to tell me, "sloppy journalism"?
You seem unable to confront evidence, OffG. I have the feeling that you believe it is more scientific to reserve judgement, that one must always sit on the fence about evidence. This is a fallacy. When all the evidence points in a certain direction and none points in any other direction, the scientific thing to do is to call it. It is sitting on the fence that is unscientific.
I wonder what you actually call. Do you think that it might have been 19 terrorists armed with boxcutters responsible for 9/11 after all? Perhaps you do.
No one, despite the offer to choose your own judge, has responded to my 10-point Occam's Razor challenge for 5 separate events nor has anyone come up with even a single point. The fact that that to you is insignificant means you do not know how to judge logic and evidence. I have put my money where my mouth is but, OffG, you never, ever do that.
Just because there are uniforms, it does not mean they are cops.flaxgirl No, but I think they often are because these events are really drills pushed out as real and response agencies are key players. In this video, the very observant Woodrow Wobbles identifies training going on. He notices one guy hanging around the milk crate who looks like a guy at an event in Melbourne and he identifies the words, "Lock it, lock it, lock it Let go," suggesting the police are being trained.Maggie
I am in agreement with you Flax. Definitely looks like a training drill.Doctortrinate Flaxgirl: I looked at the Philly cop video you posted – very interesting, as am also unsure of it's authenticity – though perhaps not for the same reason as yourself .as to myself , the drops/drips and dribbles themselves seem to be counterfeit, possibly edited into the film – and detectable by slowly (frame by frame) playing through it revealing some unusual and seemingly unfeasible characteristics ..of couse, would still be fakery , but with a twist – Media created even.Elementor Agree. It looks at first glance as if those dots just appear, which leads to thinking the cop "sprays" them or something similar, but on close analysis it looks wrong. I suspect it's been faked, a honeypot for the unwary hoax-buff.Doctortrinate precisely Elementor – well seen and put " a honeypot for the unwary hoax-buff"Seamus Padraig
'Hate crimes' are just thought-crimes , pure and simple. They are now criminalizing political points of view. The Constitution is dead.Harry Stotle
even though the once-revered ACLU does not oppose the Second Amendment.
Of course the American Civil Liberties Union doesn't oppose the Second Amendment–it's a civil liberty! That being said, with things going the way they're going, I wouldn't be at all surprised in the ACLU eventually does turn against the Second Amendment. Once upon a time, not so many years ago, they were free speech absolutists as well–does anyone else here remember the infamous Skokie Nazis? The ACLU actually argued their case pro bono! But in more recent times, they have succumbed to the logic of the campus 'hate speech' craze.
Many legal scholars would respond that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and the Due Process Clause in the Fifth Amendment already provides all American citizens with the guaranteed right to equal protection under the law
And they would, too, if only the US government still followed its own constitution.
"Today, I am also directing the Department of Justice to propose legislation ensuring that those who commit hate crimes and mass murders face the death penalty, and that this capital punishment be delivered quickly, decisively, and without years of needless delay" – unless they are neocons in which case they can kill with impunity under the usual rubrics – 'liberal intervention', 'bringing democracy' or 'humanitarian aid'.Elementor
Hell, we can even stage pop-festivals and invite grotesque figures like Sir Richard to belt out 'Imagine' while the local militia tool up with CIA hardware before wreaking havoc on unarmed civilians.
If western audiences become slightly sceptical the MSM will do its usual job of reassuring them that mass murder is an inconvenient externality when it comes to building a brighter future.
Why should the American public trust the MSM for what may have already been determined to be a 'hate' crime without providing evidence of the hate
Terrific point. Where do we draw the line on skepticism about official narratives? How much do we really know about these shootings, the identities of the shooters, even the reality of the crimes?
I don't want to get into full "it's a hoax" mode, but surely it's only intelligent to recall there are documented cases of fake events and therefore being prepared to allow the possibility any event may be fake is objectively the only rational response. What stops us? Nothing more than the same kneejerk rejection that makes other people refuse to consider 9/11 may have been an inside job or JFK may not have been shot by LHO.
It's not per se crazy to entertain the possibility, or per se offensive either. Fakery happens, we are constantly being manipulated, being aware of all possibilities is our only defense.
The same intelligence entities that coined the phrase "conspiracy theory" have also closed down any Youtube channels that dare to question, even in the most restrained and respectful way, the reality of any mass shooting. But sites like this condone that censorship, not seeing the connection.
Is it possible to have a non-binary, rational, fact-based discussion about the possibility some mass shootings may be fake?
I invite thoughts
The old adage,"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance" comes immediately to mind,and that particularly applies to government and government action.As you rightly point out,there have been too many examples of fake events and official lies for anybody to be complacent.Treat all with caution and judge on the weight and quality of the evidence.If the evidence is not conclusive in any direction maintain a sceptical state of mind.Elementor So very true. And yet so many of the enlightened are unwilling to assimilate this into their thinking. You can call it laziness maybe. It's tempting to simply replace the received wisdom of the mainstream media with the received wisdoms of the alternative media. But in this case what are we doing? More is needed of us, as you so rightly say.Elementor
How many are prepared for the continuous effort of questioning and skepticism required in order to be a truly independent and responsible human being?
The lack of responses so far here is not a good sign.
Hey there OffG columnists Phil Roddis, Ed Curtin, CJ Hopkins, Eric Zuesse, Renee Parsons, and hey there BigB, Jen, Maggie, Antonym, Mark, and other "stars" of this forum. People actually come here to read what you guys have to say. This question of fakery is a major subject impinging on our future freedom.
Who of you dares to address it?
edited by Admin at author's request to correct typo
So no one wants to have a serious non-kerazee debate about the potential for fake shootings? Too far outside the Overton Window? How disappointing. It's bizarre, even flaxgirl would rather troll the admins that just have a sensible debate with someone who'd like to talk to her.Anna Very good and valid question Elementor.axisofoil
Not so very long ago, I happily dismissed most 'fake shooting' narratives as either merely far-right/lumpen (sorry for such a crass term)-baiting/monetising, conspiracy theories – of the Alex Jones variety.
However, after about two-three years of observing media biases, I find it so much easier to spot where the overriding narratives appear to reside. However the actual events unfold is often less important than their ultimate goal, which is of course mass censorship and getting round that terribly inconvenient Second Amendment. This is I believe, the main agenda of the so-called Hate Crime. Yes, I am aware that this makes me appear to some rather Info-Wars but that's the joy of shedding my own confirmation bias!
I do now assume that there is state or states involvement in all these terror events. They are manipulated/controlled (of sorts), whether the perpetrator knows of it or not. Some may indeed be fake from the onset.
Empty vessels make the most noise and that is I'm afraid the state of corporate 'journalism', who mostly whore themselves for the state/oligarchy narrative. Be very aware of ANY story that is shilled verboten by these hacks, as they are awfully telling in the identification of agendas and the direction of our further enslavement.
Another level of fakery altogether, faking mind-control!
Aug 24, 2019 | off-guardian.org
Hate crime, like thought crime, is double-plus ungood. 4 0 Reply Aug 23, 2019 2:45 PM Reader
Yes, irony upon irony – the MSM, presumably inspired by PC now actually communicates in 'newspeak'.
What term from Orwells dystopia will be popularised next, 'crimethink'?
It may sound hyperbolic but are thoughts being restructured to comply with the principles of Ingsoc?
Aug 16, 2019 | off-guardian.org
OffGuardian already covered the Global Media Freedom Conference, our article Hypocrisy Taints UK's Media Freedom Conference , was meant to be all there was to say. A quick note on the obvious hypocrisy of this event. But, in the writing, I started to see more than that. This event is actually creepy. Let's just look back at one of the four "main themes" of this conference:Building trust in media and countering disinformation"Countering disinformation"? Well, that's just another word for censorship. This is proven by their refusal to allow Sputnik or RT accreditation. They claim RT "spreads disinformation" and they "countered" that by barring them from attending. "Building trust"? In the post-Blair world of PR newspeak, "building trust" is just another way of saying "making people believe us" (the word usage is actually interesting, building trust not earning trust). The whole conference is shot through with this language that just feels off. Here is CNN's Christiane Amanpour :Our job is to be truthful, not neutral we need to take a stand for the truth, and never to create a false moral or factual equivalence."Being "truthful not neutral" is one of Amanpour's personal sayings , she obviously thinks it's clever. Of course, what it is is NewSpeak for "bias". Refusing to cover evidence of The White Helmets staging rescues, Israel arming ISIS or other inconvenient facts will be defended using this phrase – they will literally claim to only publish "the truth", to get around impartiality and then set about making up whatever "truth" is convenient. Oh, and if you don't know what "creating a false moral quivalence is", here I'll demonstrate: MSM: Putin is bad for shutting down critical media. OffG: But you're supporting RT being banned and Wikileaks being shut down. BBC: No. That's not the same. OffG: It seems the same. BBC: It's not. You're creating a false moral equivalence . Understand now? You "create a false moral equivalence" by pointing out mainstream media's double standards. Other ways you could mistakenly create a "false moral equivalence": Bringing up Gaza when the media talk about racism. Mentioning Saudi Arabia when the media preach about gay rights. Referencing the US coup in Venezuela when the media work themselves into a froth over Russia's "interference in our democracy" Talking about the invasion of Iraq. Ever. OR Pointing out that the BBC is state funded, just like RT. These are all no-longer flagrant examples of the media's double standards, and if you say they are , you're "creating a false moral equivalence" and the media won't have to allow you (or anyone who agrees with you) air time or column inches to disagree. Because they don't have a duty to be neutral or show both sides, they only have a duty to tell "the truth" as soon as the government has told them what that is. Prepare to see both those phrases – or variations there of – littering editorials in the Guardian and the Huffington Post in the coming months. Along with people bemoaning how "fake news outlets abuse the notion of impartiality" by "being even handed between liars the truth tellers". (I've been doing this site so long now, I have a Guardian-English dictionary in my head).
Equally dodgy-sounding buzz-phrases litter topics on the agenda. "Eastern Europe and Central Asia: building an integrated support system for journalists facing hostile environments" , this means pumping money into NGOs to fund media that will criticize our "enemies" in areas of strategic importance. It means flooding money into the anti-government press in Hungary, or Iran or (of course), Russia. That is ALL it means. I said in my earlier article I don't know what "media sustainability" even means, but I feel I can take a guess. It means "save the government mouthpieces". The Guardian is struggling for money, all print media are, TV news is getting lower viewing figures all the time. "Building media sustainability" is code for "pumping public money into traditional media that props up the government" or maybe "getting people to like our propaganda". But the worst offender on the list is, without a doubt"Navigating Disinformation"
"Navigating Disinformation" was a 1 hour panel from the second day of the conference. You can watch it embedded above if you really feel the need. I already did, so you don't have to. The panel was chaired by Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian Foreign Minister. The members included the Latvian Foreign Minister, a representative of the US NGO Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Information
Have you guessed what "disinformation" they're going to be talking about? I'll give you a clue: It begins with R. Freeland, chairing the panel, kicks it off by claiming that "disinformation isn't for any particular aim" . This is a very common thing for establishment voices to repeat these days, which makes it all the more galling she seems to be pretending its is her original thought. The reason they have to claim that "disinformation" doesn't have a "specific aim" is very simple: They don't know what they're going to call "disinformation" yet. They can't afford to take a firm position, they need to keep their options open. They need to give themselves the ability to describe any single piece of information or political opinion as "disinformation." Left or right. Foreign or domestic. "Disinformation" is a weaponised term that is only as potent as it is vague. So, we're one minute in, and all "navigating disinformation" has done is hand the State an excuse to ignore, or even criminalise, practically anything it wants to. Good start. Interestingly, no one has actually said the word "Russia" at this point. They have talked about "malign actors" and "threats to democracy", but not specifically Russia. It is SO ingrained in these people that "propaganda"= " Russian propaganda" that they don't need to say it.
The idea that NATO as an entity, or the individual members thereof, could also use "disinformation" has not just been dismissed it was literally never even contemplated. Next Freeland turns to Edgars Rinkēvičs, her Latvian colleague, and jokes about always meeting at NATO functions. The Latvians know "more than most" about disinformation, she says. Rinkēvičs says disinformation is nothing new, but that the methods of spreading it are changing then immediately calls for regulation of social media. Nobody disagrees. Then he talks about the "illegal annexation of Crimea", and claims the West should outlaw "paid propaganda" like RT and Sputnik. Nobody disagrees. Then he says that Latvia "protected" their elections from "interference" by "close cooperation between government agencies and social media companies". Everyone nods along. If you don't find this terrifying, you're not paying attention. They don't say it, they probably don't even realise they mean it, but when they talk about "close cooperation with social media networks", they mean government censorship of social media. When they say "protecting" their elections they're talking about rigging them. It only gets worse. The next step in the Latvian master plan is to bolster "traditional media".
The problems with traditional media, he says, are that journalists aren't paid enough, and don't keep up to date with all the "new tricks". His solution is to "promote financing" for traditional media, and to open more schools like the "Baltic Centre of Media Excellence", which is apparently a totally real thing .
It's a training centre which teaches young journalists about "media literacy" and "critical thinking". You can read their depressingly predictable list of "donors" here . I truly wish I was joking. Next up is Courtney Radsch from CPJ – a US-backed NGO, who notionally "protect journalists", but more accurately spread pro-US propaganda. (Their token effort to "defend" RT and Sputnik when they were barred from the conference was contemptible).
She talks for a long time without saying much at all. Her revolutionary idea is that disinformation could be countered if everyone told the truth. Inspiring. Beata Balogova, Journalist and Editor from Slovakia, gets the ship back on course – immediately suggesting politicians should not endorse "propaganda" platforms. She shares an anecdote about "a prominent Slovakian politician" who gave exclusive interviews to a site that is "dubiously financed, we assume from Russia". They assume from Russia. Everyone nods.
It's like they don't even hear themselves.
Then she moves on to Hungary. Apparently, Orban has "created a propaganda machine" and produced "antisemitic George Soros posters". No evidence is produced to back-up either of these claims. She thinks advertisers should be pressured into not giving money to "fake news sites". She calls for "international pressure", but never explains exactly what that means. The stand-out maniac on this panel is Emine Dzhaparova, the Ukrainian First Deputy Minister of Information Policy. (She works for the Ministry of Information – nicknamed the Ministry of Truth, which was formed in 2014 to "counter lies about Ukraine". Even The Guardian thought that sounded dodgy.)
She talks very fast and, without any sense of irony, spills out a story that shoots straight through "disinformation" and becomes "incoherent rambling". She claims that Russian citizens are so brainwashed you'll never be able to talk to them, and that Russian "cognitive influence" is "toxic like radiation." Is this paranoid, quasi-xenophobic nonsense countered? No. Her fellow panelists nod and chuckle. On top of that, she just lies. She lies over and over and over again. She claims Russia is locking up Crimean Tartars "just for being muslims", nobody questions her. She says the war in Ukraine has killed 13,000 people, but doesn't mention that her side is responsible for over 80% of civilian deaths.
She says only 30% of Crimeans voted in the referendum, and that they were "forced". A fact not supported by any polls done by either side in the last four years, and any referenda held on the peninsula any time in the last last 30 year. It's simply a lie. Nobody asks her about the journalists killed in Ukraine since their glorious Maidan Revolution . Nobody questions the fact that she works for something called the "Ministry of Information". Nobody does anything but nod and smile as the "countering disinformation" panel becomes just a platform for spreading total lies.
When everyone on the panel has had their ten minutes on the soapbox, Freeland asks for recommendations for countering this "threat" – here's the list:
- Work to distinguish "free speech" from "propaganda", when you find propaganda there must be a "strong reaction".
- Pressure advertisers to abandon platforms who spread misinformation.
- Regulate social media.
- Educate journalists at special schools.
- Start up a "Ministry of Information" and have state run media that isn't controlled, like in Ukraine.
This is the Global Conference on Media Freedom and all these six people want to talk about is how to control what can be said, and who can say it. They single only four countries out for criticism: Hungary, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Russia .and Russia takes up easily 90% of that. They mention only two media outlets by name: RT and Sputnik. This wasn't a panel on disinformation, it was a public attack forum – a month's worth of 2 minutes of hate. These aren't just shills on this stage, they are solid gold idiots, brainwashed to the point of total delusion.
They are the dangerous glassy eyes of a Deep State that never questions itself, never examines itself, and will do anything it wants, to anyone it wants whilst happily patting itself on the back for its superior morality. They don't know, they don't care. They're true believers. Terrifyingly dead inside. Talking about state censorship and re-education camps under a big sign that says "Freedom". And that's just one talk. Just one panel in a 2 day itinerary filled to the brim with similarly soul-dead servants of authority. Truly, perfectly Orwellian.
Jonathan Jarvishttps://southfront.org/countering-russian-disinformation-or-new-wave-of-freedom-of-speech-suppression/Tim Jenkins
Read and be appalled at what America is up to .keep for further reference. We are in danger.It would serve Ms. Amanpour well, to relax, rewind & review her own interview with Sergei Lavrov:-Einstein
Then she might see why Larry King could stomach the appalling corporate dictatorship, even to the core of False & Fake recording of 'our' "History of the National Security State" , No More
Amanpour was forced to laugh uncontrollably, when confronted with Lavrov's humorous interpretations of various legal aspects of decency & his Judgement of others' politicians and 'Pussy Riots' >>> if you haven't seen it, it is to be recommended, the whole interview, if nothing else but to study the body language and micro-facial expressions, coz' a belly up laugh is not something anybody can easily control or even feign that first spark of cognition in her mind, as she digests Lavrov's response :- hilariousA GE won't solve matters since we have a Government of Occupation behind a parliament of puppets.Tim Jenkins
Latest is the secretive Andy Pryce squandering millions of public money on the "Open Information Partnership" (OIP) which is the latest name-change for the Integrity Initiative and the Institute of Statecraft, just like al-Qaeda kept changing its name.
In true Orwellian style, they splashed out on a conference for "defence of media freedom", when they are in the business of propaganda and closing alternative 'narratives' down. And the 'media' they would defend are, in fact, spies sent to foreign countries to foment trouble to further what they bizarrely perceive as 'British interests'. Just like the disgraceful White Helmets, also funded by the FO.
Pryce's ventriloquist's dummy in parliament, the pompous Alan Duncan, announced another £10 million of public money for this odious brainwashing programme.Francis LeeThat panel should be nailed & plastered over, permanently:-
and as wall paper, 'Abstracts of New Law' should be pasted onto a collage of historic extracts from the Guardian, in offices that issue journalistic licenses, comprised of 'Untouchables' :-
A professional habitat, to damp any further 'Freeland' amplification & resonance,
of negative energy from professional incompetence.Apropos of the redoubtable Ms Freeland, Canada's Foreign Secretary.mark
The records now being opened by the Polish government in Warsaw reveal that Freeland's maternal grandfather Michael (Mikhailo) Chomiak was a Nazi collaborator from the beginning to the end of the war. He was given a powerful post, money, home and car by the German Army in Cracow, then the capital of the German administration of the Galician region. His principal job was editor in chief and publisher of a newspaper the Nazis created. His printing plant and other assets had been stolen from a Jewish newspaper publisher, who was then sent to die in the Belzec concentration camp. During the German Army's winning phase of the war, Chomiak celebrated in print the Wehrmacht's "success" at killing thousands of US Army troops. As the German Army was forced into retreat by the Soviet counter-offensive, Chomiak was taken by the Germans to Vienna, where he continued to publish his Nazi propaganda, at the same time informing for the Germans on other Ukrainians. They included fellow Galician Stepan Bandera, whose racism against Russians Freeland has celebrated in print, and whom the current regime in Kiev has turned into a national hero.
Those Ukrainian 'Refugees' admitted to Canada in 1945 were almost certainly members of the 14th Waffen SS Division Galizia 1. These Ukie collaboraters – not to be confused with the other Ukie Nazi outfit – Stepan Bandera's Ukrainian Insurgent Army -were held responsible for the massacre of many Poles in the Lviv area the most infamous being carried out in the Polish village of Huta Pienacka. In the massacre, the village was destroyed and between 500] and 1,000 of the inhabitants were killed. According to Polish accounts, civilians were locked in barns that were set on fire while those attempting to flee were killed. That's about par for the course.
Canada's response was as follows:
The Canadian Deschênes Commission was set up to investigate alleged war crimes committed by the collaborators
Memorial to SS-Galizien division in Chervone, Lviv Oblast, western Ukraine
The Canadian "Commission of Inquiry on War Crimes" of October 1986, by the Honourable Justice Jules Deschênesconcluded that in relation to membership in the Galicia Division:
''The Galicia Division (14. Waffen grenadier division der SS [gal.1]) should not be indicted as a group. The members of Galicia Division were individually screened for security purposes before admission to Canada. Charges of war crimes of Galicia Division have never been substantiated, either in 1950 when they were first preferred, or in 1984 when they were renewed, or before this Commission. Further, in the absence of evidence of participation or knowledge of specific war crimes, mere membership in the Galicia Division is insufficient to justify prosecution.''
However, the Commission's conclusion failed to acknowledge or heed the International Military Tribunal's verdict at the Nuremberg Trials, in which the entire Waffen-SSorganisation was declared a "criminal organization" guilty of war crimes. Also, the Deschênes Commission in its conclusion only referenced the division as 14. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (Galizische Nr.1), thus in legal terms, only acknowledging the formation's activity after its name change in August 1944, while the massacre of Poles in Huta Pieniacka, Pidkamin and Palikrowy occurred when the division was called SS Freiwilligen Division "Galizien". Nevertheless, a subsequent review by Canada's Minister of Justice again confirmed that members of the Division were not implicated in war crimes.
Yes, the west looks after its Nazis and even makes them and their descendants political figureheads.Most of these people are so smugly and complacently convinced of their own moral superiority that they just can't see the hypocrisy and doublethink involved in the event.MikalinaEva Bartlett gives a wider perspective:Harry Stotle
https://www.globalresearch.ca/londons-media-freedom-conference-smacks-irony-critics-barred-no-mention-jailed-assange/5683808Freedom-lover, Cunt, will be furious when he hears about this!Tutisicecream
Apparently Steve Bell is doubleplusbad for alluding to the fact Netanyahu has got his hand shoved deep into Tom Watson's arse – the Guardian pulled Bell's most recent ouvre which suggests the media's antisemitism trope might not be quite as politically untainted as the likes of Freedland, Cohen and Viner would have you believe.
Meanwhile Owen Jones has taken to Twitter to rubbish allegations that a reign of terror exists at Guardian Towers – the socialist firebrand is quoted as saying 'journalists are free to say whatever they like, so long as it doesn't stray too far from Guardian-groupthink'.Good analysis Kit, of the cognitive dissonant ping pong being played out by Nazi sympathisers such as Hunt and Freeland.Steve Hayes
The echo chamber of deceit is amplified again by the selective use of information and the ignoring of relevant facts, such as the miss reporting yesterday by Reuters of the Italian Neo-Nazi haul of weapons by the police, having not Russian but Ukrainian links.
Not a word in the WMSM about this devious miss-reporting as the creation of fake news in action. But what would you expect?
Living as I do in Russia I can assure anyone reading this that the media freedom here is on a par with the West and somewhat better as there is no paranoia about a fictitious enemy – Russians understand that the West is going through an existential crisis (Brexit in the UK, Trump and the Clinton war of sameness in the US and Macron and Merkel in the EU). A crisis of Liberalism as the failed life-support of capitalism. But hey, why worry about the politics when there is bigger fish to fry. Such as who will pay me to dance?
The answer is clear from what Kit has writ. The government will pay the piper. How sweet.
I'd like to thank Kit for sitting through such a turgid masquerade and as I'm rather long in the tooth I do remember the old BBC schools of journalism in Yelsin's Russia. What I remember is that old devious Auntie Beeb was busy training would be hopefuls in the art of discretion regarding how the news is formed, or formulated.
In other words your audience. And it ain't the publicThe British government's "Online Harms" White Paper has a whole section devoted to "disinformation" (ie, any facts, opinions, analyses, evaluations, critiques that are critical of the elite's actual disinformation). If these proposals become law, the government will have effective control over the Internet and we will be allowed access to their disinformation, shop and watch cute cat videos.Question ThisThe liberal news media & hypocrisy, who would have ever thought you'd see those words in the same sentence. But what do you expect from professional liars, politicians & 'their' free press?Tim Jenkins
Can this shit show get any worse? Yes, The other day I wrote to my MP regards the SNP legislating against the truth, effectively making it compulsory to lie! Mr Blackford as much as called me a transphobic & seemed to go to great length publishing his neo-liberal ideological views in some scottish rag, on how right is wrong & fact is turned into fiction & asked only those that agreed with him contact him."The science or logical consistency of true premise, cannot take place or bear fruit, when all communication and information is 'marketised and weaponised' to a mindset of possession and control." B.SteereMikalinaI saw, somewhere (but can't find it now) a law or a prospective law which goes under the guise of harassment of MPs to include action against constituents who 'pester' them.Question This
I've found a link for the Jo Cox gang discussing it, though.
https://www.kcl.ac.uk/news/new-research-on-the-intimidation-and-harassment-of-mps-featured-in-inaugural-conferenceI only emailed him once! That's hardly harassment. Anyway I sent it with proton-mail via vpn & used a false postcode using only my first name so unlikely my civil & sincere correspondence will see me locked up for insisting my inalienable rights of freedom of speech & beliefs are protected. But there again the state we live in, i may well be incarcerated for life, for such an outrageous expectation.Where to?"The Guardian is struggling for money" Surely, they would be enjoying some of the seemingly unlimited US defense and some of the mind control programmes budgets.Harry StotleIts the brazen nature of the conference that is especially galling, but what do you expect when crooks and liars no longer feel they even have to pretend?Where to?
Nothing will change so long as politicians (or their shady backers) are never held to account for public assets diverted toward a rapacious off-shore economic system, or the fact millions of lives have been shattered by the 'war on terror' and its evil twin, 'humanatarian regime change' (while disingenuous Labour MPs wail about the 'horrors' of antisemitism rather than the fact their former leader is a key architect of the killings).
Kit remains a go-to voice when deconstructing claims made by political figures who clearly regard the MSM as a propaganda vehicle for promoting western imperialism – the self-satisfied smugness of cunts like Jeremy Cunt stand in stark contrast to a real journalist being tortured by the British authorities just a few short miles away.
It's a sligtly depressing thought but somebody has the unenviable task of monitoring just how far our politicians have drifted from the everyday concerns of the 'just about managing' and as I say Mr Knightly does a fine job in informing readers what the real of agenda of these media love-ins are actually about – it goes without saying a very lengthy barge pole is required when the Saudis are invited but not Russia.This Media Freedom Conference is surely a creepy theatre of the absurd.Mikalina
It is a test of what they can get away with.Yep. Any soviet TV watcher would recognise this immediately. Message? THIS is the reality – and you are powerless.markWhen are they going to give us the Ministry of Truth we so desperately need?
Aug 16, 2019 | www.unz.com
J. Gutierrez , says: August 15, 2019 at 7:05 pm GMTAn interesting take on American Society today by Chris Hedges .
Aug 05, 2019 | www.unz.com
Viral Architect , says: July 29, 2019 at 9:51 am GMT
Aug 04, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com
"Thus we see how the neoliberal utopia tends to embody itself in the reality of a kind of infernal machine, whose necessity imposes itself even upon the rulers. Like the Marxism of an earlier time, with which, in this regard, it has much in common, this utopia evokes powerful belief - the free trade faith - not only among those who live off it, such as financiers, the owners and managers of large corporations, etc., but also among those, such as high-level government officials and politicians, who derive their justification for existing from it.
For they sanctify the power of markets in the name of economic efficiency, which requires the elimination of administrative or political barriers capable of inconveniencing the owners of capital in their individual quest for the maximisation of individual profit, which has been turned into a model of rationality. They want independent central banks.
And they preach the subordination of nation-states to the requirements of economic freedom for the masters of the economy, with the suppression of any regulation of any market, beginning with the labour market, the prohibition of deficits and inflation, the general privatisation of public services, and the reduction of public and social expenses."
Pierre Bourdieu, L'essence du néolibéralisme
Aug 03, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Tomonthebeach , August 3, 2019 at 1:40 pm
Trump clearly hates being regulated, as do most bus billionaire cronies. They want to drill for oil on the White House lawn if there is potential. They would mine sulfur from Old Faithful if it was profitable.
Jul 03, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com
A while back we were discussing the merits of a liberal arts education and the sad state of our current education system. As part of that discussion, I looked at the current curriculum of my old prep school to see if it changed much from when I was there. To my surprise and joy, it changed very little. Students are still required to take four years of theology good Jesuit theology. I was struck by the entry for the current theology department at Fairfield Prep and now present it below.
In light of the current discussion about the rise of the new bolsheviki in the Democratic Party, I thought I'd share my thoughts on the Ignatian approach to Roman Catholicism. I'm pretty sure many of you will consider the black robes to be quite red. I, on the other hand, find the teachings and example of Saint Ignatius of Loyola to be far more profound and worthy of emulation than anything Marx or Lenin ever dreamed of.
-- -- -- -- -- --
What is theology? Fundamentally, it's about conversation.
The Greek word Theós (God) combined with logos (word, or reason) describes what happens in theology classes at Fairfield Prep. Talking about God, discovering God in the person of Jesus Christ, asking questions, having discussions and debates, and exploring the truths of other world religions are some of the many things that happen in theology. Through exegetical analysis of Scripture, learning the philosophies of the Saints (in particular, St. Ignatius of Loyola), contemplation, and reflection, theology students at Fairfield Prep are drawn to a more intimate experience of the Divine in their own lives.
In the classroom, students are exposed to the teachings of Christ regarding the Gospel imperative – the care of the poor. Theology students are inspired to work for equality and social justice in their local and global communities.
In the spirit of Christ, through Ignatian practices, students are encouraged to grow spiritually and religiously by orienting themselves towards others. Practically speaking, students are called to "Find God in All Things." By recognizing the presence of the Divine within others and the universe we live in, students may be inspired to develop a deeper appreciation and love for Creation – in particular, care for our environment.
Morality, ethics, philosophy, history, science – they are all present within discussions of theology. Regardless of faith background (or lack thereof) all students are encouraged to express their beliefs and share their life experiences in their own ways. In theology, we are constantly working towards discovering Truth in our lives. Through science, history, literature, Scripture, and the Sacraments, we understand that God can be found in all things and in all ways here at Fairfield Prep. Join us as we continue the discussions, the questions, the reflections, and the actions that will make this world a more loving place for all.
- Mr. Corey J. Milazzo
Chair of the Theology Department
-- -- -- -- -- --
It's still there, the call to find God in all things and to be a man for others. I graduated a few years before Father Pedro Arrupe presented his dissertation and made his presentation which became known as his "Men for Others" thesis. But his ideas already ran through the halls and faculty of Fairfield Prep by the end of the 60s. Community service was an integral part of the curriculum back then as were frequent retreats based on the Ignatian spiritual exercises. They still are. The Jesuits molded us into men for others, social justice warriors, but with a keen sense of self-examination (the examen). When we graduated in the rose garden of Bellarmine Hall under a beautiful June sun, we were charged with the familiar Jesuit call "ite inflammate omnia" (go forth and set the world on fire).
That phrase in itself is provocative. It goes back to Saint Ignatius of Loyola himself. It may go back much further, back to Saint Catherine of Siena. One of her most repeated quotes is "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire." Setting the world on fire must have a different meaning back then. It sounds down right revolutionary these days.
In more recent times, Jesuits participated in the development of liberation theology, a blending of the Church's professed preference for the poor and Marxism that is unsettling to many both in and outside the Church. This expression of strident social justice was never supported by the Vatican, especially when liberation theologists aligned themselves with armed Marxist revolutions. Even Pope Francis was not a fan although as Father Bergoglio he said,Pope Francis seeks reconciliation with rather than expulsion of the liberation theologists. This doesn't surprise me considering the Jesuits' firmly held faith in the primacy of conscience, the belief that an informed conscience is the ultimate and final authority on what is morally permissible, and it is the obligation of the individual to follow their conscience even if it contradicts or acts against Church teaching. I believe that, but I also believe the liberation theologists could benefit from a more rigorous examen to reach a higher sense of discernment and a truly informed conscience.
"The option for the poor comes from the first centuries of Christianity. It's the Gospel itself. If you were to read one of the sermons of the first fathers of the Church, from the second or third centuries, about how you should treat the poor, you'd say it was Maoist or Trotskyist. The Church has always had the honor of this preferential option for the poor."
I think the 1986 film "The Mission" captured some of these ideas and struggles very well with the interplay of Father Gabriel, Roderigo Mendoza and both the secular and religious authorities of that time. As a product of a Jesuit and Special Forces education, this film resonated with me.
DOL - AMDG
Jul 25, 2019 | failedevolution.blogspot.com
David Harvey speaks with Greg Wilpert and describes how neoliberalism neutralized the Left in the early 70s and why now there is a peculiar alliance between neoliberalism and right-wing authoritarianism.
As Harvey points out:
There's a curious alliance occurring between right-wing authoritarianism and neoliberalism, which is very very troubling.
When the neoliberal ethic was first being proposed, it was very much being proposed to the generation of 68 and saying to that generation, 'Look, you want individual liberty and freedom. OK, we'll give it to you in this neoliberal form, which is a very political, economic form, and you have to forget other issues, like social justice and the like.' So, it seeped its way into the discourse of much of the Left and this creates a sort of tolerance for some neoliberal practices.
Neoliberalism has a very clever way of turning things around and blaming the victim. And we saw that in the foreclosures of the housing and all this kind of stuff. Many people who were foreclosed upon, didn't blame the system. What they blamed was themselves.
When Clinton came in promising all kinds of benefits and gave us all these neoliberal reforms, at that point, people kind of said 'you know, this is not really working for me, and what's more, there's something going on here which is not right.'
The first revolt against the neoliberal order was Seattle, which was the anti-globalization movement and then all of the picketing of the IMF and G20's meetings. At that point, the ruling class has started to say 'well this could get out of hand, we need a government structure that's gonna sit on these people and do it really, really hard.'
So, when Occupy Wall Street came along, which was a fairly small and fairly innocent kind of movement, Wall Street got paranoid. And basically summoned the New York mayor at the time - who was the Wall Street character Bloomberg - to say 'squash these people.' And so, at this point, the perpetuation of the neoliberal order starts to become more and more guaranteed by state authoritarianism and neoconservatism. Which now, has morphed a little bit into this kind of right-wing populism.
So, in a sense the neoliberal order is being perpetuated by this authoritarian shift. And that should give the Left a good possibility to mount a counter-attack in certain parts of the world.
Indeed, in the early 70s, right after the 1968 movement and when neoliberalism starts to become the dominant ideology, the Left retreated and retired from the idea of a collective struggle.
As Adam Curtis describes in his film, HyperNormalisation :
The extraordinary thing was that no one opposed the bankers. The radicals and the Left wingers who, ten years before, had dreamed of changing America through revolution, did nothing. They had retreated and were living in abandoned buildings in Manhattan. The singer Patti Smith later described the mood of disillusion that had come over them. "I could not identify with the political movements any longer," she said. "All the manic activity in the streets. In trying to join them, I felt overwhelmed by yet another form of bureaucracy." What she was describing was a rise of a new, powerful individualism that could not fit with the idea of collective political action. Instead, Patti Smith and many others became a new kind of individual radical, who watched the decaying city with a cool detachment. They didn't try to change it. They just experienced it.
So, the critical question today is whether the time has come for the Left to revive and exterminate the neoliberal/far-right authoritarian beast.
Feb 13, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com
"He drew near and saw the city, and he wept for it saying, 'If you had only recognized the things that make for peace. But now you are blinded to them. Truly, the days will come when your enemies will set up barriers to surround you, and hem you in on every side. Then they will crush you into the earth, you and your children. And they will not leave one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the way to your salvation.'"
"You hypocrites! You build monuments for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of His messengers.'"
...the results of the Senate GOP finding no evidence of 'collusion' with Russia by the Trump Administration to influence the results of the presidential election..
This last item is not surprising, because this entire Russian collusion meme seems as though it is an hysterical reaction to the spin put out by the Clinton political faction and their neoliberal enablers after their shocking loss in the 2016 Presidential election.
Too bad though, because the financial corruption and private pilfering using public power, money laundering and the kind of soft corruption that is rampant amongst our new elite is all there. And by there we mean on both sides of the fence -- which is why it had to take a back seat to a manufactured boogeyman.
... ... ...
There is a long road ahead before we see anything like a resolution to this troubling period in American political history.
We look back at other troubled periods and places, and either see them as discrete and fictional, a very different world apart, or through some rosy lenses of good old times which were largely benign and peaceful. We fail to see the continuity, the similarity, and the commonality of a dangerous path with ourselves. As they did with their own times gone by. Madness blinds its acolytes, because they wish it so. They embrace it to hide their shame.
We are reassured and misled by the same kinds of voices that have always served the status quo and the monied interests, the think tanks, the so-called 'institutes,' and the web sites and former con men who offer a constant stream of thinly disguised propaganda and misstatements of principle and history. We are comforted by their lies.
People want to hear these reassuring words of comfort and embrace it like a 'religion,' because they do not wish to draw the conclusions that the genuine principles of faith suggest (dare we say command in this day and age) in their daily lives. They blind themselves by adopting a kind of a schizoid approach to life, where 'religion' occupies a discrete, rarefied space, and 'political or economic philosophy' dictates another set of everyday 'practical' observances and behaviors which are more pliable, and pleasing to our hardened and prideful hearts.
We wish to strike a deal with the Lord, and a deal with the Devil -- to serve both God and Mammon as it suits us. It really is that cliché. And it is so finely woven into the fabric of our day that we cannot see it; we cannot see that it is happening to us and around us.
And so we trot on into the abyss, one exception and excuse and rationalization for ourselves at a time. And we blind ourselves with false prophets and their profane theories and philosophies.
As for truth, the truth that brings life, we would interrupt the sermon on the mount itself, saying that this sentiment was all very well and good, but what stocks should we buy for our portfolio, and what horse is going to win the fifth at Belmont? Tell us something useful, practical! Oh, and can you please fix this twinge in my left shoulder? It is ruining my golf game."Those among the rich who are not, in the rigorous sense, damned, can understand poverty, because they are poor themselves, after a fashion; they cannot understand destitution. Capable of giving alms, perhaps, but incapable of stripping themselves bare, they will be moved, to the sound of beautiful music, at Jesus's sufferings, but His Cross, the reality of His Cross, will horrify them. They want it all out of gold, bathed in light, costly and of little weight; pleasant to see, hanging from a woman's beautiful throat."No surprise in this. It has always been so, especially in times of such vanity and greed as are these. Then is now. There is nothing new under the sun. And certainly nothing exceptional about the likes of us in our indulgent self-destruction.
Are you not entertained?
Jul 06, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
zephirine -> josephinireland
The idea of the 'American dream' seems to have morphed into a nasty belief that if you're poor it's your own fault. You didn't 'want it enough'. You must be secretly lazy and undeserving, even if you're actually working three jobs to survive, or even if there are no jobs.
This view has taken hold in the UK too, where the tabloids peddle the view that anyone who claims state benefits must be a fraud. But at least, people here and in mainland Europe have the direct experience of war within living memory and we understand that you can lose everything through no fault of your own. In the US, even when there's a natural disaster like Katrina it seems to be the poor people's fault for not having their own transport and money to go and stay somewhere else.
It always seems very odd to me that so many people who think like that profess to be Christian. 'Poverty equals moral failure' is the complete opposite of what Jesus Christ got into so much trouble for saying.
Apr 10, 2018 | www.theguardian.com
Originally from: Seven signs of the neoliberal apocalypse - Van Badham - Opinion - The Guardian
slorter, 27 Apr 2018 01:37bryonyed -> slorter , 27 Apr 2018 01:41
Both neoliberal-driven governments and authoritarian societies share one important factor: They care more about consolidating power in the hands of the political, corporate and financial elite than they do about investing in the future of young people and expanding the benefits of the social contract and common good.
Michael Yates (economist) points out throughout his book 'The Great Inequality', capitalism is devoid of any sense of social responsibility and is driven by an unchecked desire to accumulate capital at all costs. As power becomes global and politics remains local, ruling elites no longer make political concessions to workers or any other group that they either exploit or consider disposable.
At bottom, neoliberals believe in a social hierarchy of "haves" and "have nots". They have taken this corrosive social vision and dressed it up with a "respectable" sounding ideology which all boils down to the cheap labor they depend on to make their fortunes.
The ugly truth is that cheap-labour conservatives just don't like working people. They don't like "bottom up" prosperity, and the reason for it is very simple. "Corporate lords" have a harder time kicking them around.
Once you understand this about the cheap-labor conservatives, the real motivation for their policies makes perfect sense. Remember, cheap-labour conservatives believe in social hierarchy and privilege, so the only prosperity they want is limited to them. They want to see absolutely nothing that benefits those who work for an hourly wage.
You also need to remember that voting the coalition out, which you need to do, will not necessarily give you a neoliberal free zone; Labor needs to shed some the dogma as well.
Yep! The neolib scum hate poor people and have complexes of deservedness.
Jun 30, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Colin Todhunter via Counterpunch.org,
A special report in the Observer newspaper in the UK on 23 June 2019 asked the question: Why is life expectancy faltering? The piece noted that for the first time in 100 years, Britons are dying earlier. The UK now has the worst health trends in Western Europe.
Aside from the figures for the elderly and the deprived, there has also been a worrying change in infant mortality rates. Since 2014, the rate has increased every year: the figure for 2017 is significantly higher than the one in 2014. To explain this increase in infant mortality, certain experts blame it on 'austerity', fewer midwives, an overstrained ambulance service, general deterioration of hospitals, greater poverty among pregnant women and cuts that mean there are fewer health visitors for patients in need.
While all these explanations may be valid, according to environmental campaigner Dr Rosemary Mason, there is something the mainstream narrative is avoiding. She says:
"We are being poisoned by weedkiller and other pesticides in our food and weedkiller sprayed indiscriminately on our communities. The media remain silent."
The poisoning of the UK public by the agrochemical industry is the focus of her new report – Why is life expectancy faltering: The British Government has worked with Monsanto and Bayer since 1949 .
What follows are edited highlights of the text in which she cites many official sources and reports as well as numerous peer-reviewed studies in support of her arguments. Readers can access the report here .Toxic history of Monsanto in the UK
Mason begins by offering a brief history of Monsanto in the UK. In 1949, that company set up a chemical factory in Newport, Wales, where it manufactured PCBs until 1977 and a number of other dangerous chemicals. Monsanto was eventually found to be dumping toxic waste in the River Severn, public waterways and sewerage. It then paid a contractor which illegally dumped thousands of tons of cancer-causing chemicals, including PCBs, dioxins and Agent Orange derivatives, at two quarries in Wales – Brofiscin (80,000 tonnes) and Maendy (42,000 tonnes) – between 1965 and 1972.
Monsanto stopped making PCBs in Anniston US in 1971 because of various scandals. However, the British government agreed to ramp up production at the Monsanto plant in Newport. In 2003, when toxic effluent from the quarry started leaking into people's streams in Grosfaen, just outside Cardiff, the Environment Agency – a government agency concerned with flooding and pollution – was hired to clean up the site in 2005.
Mason notes that the agency repeatedly failed to hold Monsanto accountable for its role in the pollution (a role that Monsanto denied from the outset) and consistently downplayed the dangers of the chemicals themselves.
In a report prepared for the agency and the local authority in 2005 but never made public, the sites contain at least 67 toxic chemicals. Seven PCBs have been identified, along with vinyl chlorides and naphthalene. The unlined quarry is still leaking, the report says:The duplicity continues
"Pollution of water has been occurring since the 1970s, the waste and groundwater has been shown to contain significant quantities of poisonous, noxious and polluting material, pollution of waters will continue to occur."
Apart from these events in Wales, Mason outlines the overall toxic nature of Monsanto in the UK. For instance, she discusses the shockingly high levels of weedkiller in packaged cereals. Samples of four oat-based breakfast cereals marketed for children in the UK were recently sent to the Health Research Institute, Fairfield, Iowa, an accredited laboratory for glyphosate testing. Dr Fagan, the director of the centre, says of the results:
"These results are consistently concerning. The levels consumed in a single daily helping of any one of these cereals, even the one with the lowest level of contamination, is sufficient to put the person's glyphosate levels above the levels that cause fatty liver disease in rats (and likely in people). "
According to Mason, the European Food Safety Authority and the European Commission colluded with the European Glyphosate Task Force and allowed it to write the re-assessment of glyphosate. She lists key peer-reviewed studies, which the Glyphosate Task Force conveniently omitted from its review, from South America where GM crops are grown. In fact, many papers come from Latin American countries where they grow almost exclusively GM Roundup Ready Crops.
Mason cites one study that references many papers from around the world that confirm glyphosate-based herbicides like Monsanto's Roundup are damaging to the development of the foetal brain and that repeated exposure is toxic to the adult human brain and may result in alterations in locomotor activity, feelings of anxiety and memory impairment.
Another study notes neurotransmitter changes in rat brain regions following glyphosate exposure. The highlights from that study indicate that glyphosate oral exposure caused neurotoxicity in rats; that brain regions were susceptible to changes in CNS monoamine levels; that glyphosate reduced 5-HT, DA, NE levels in a brain regional- and dose-related manner; and that glyphosate altered the serotoninergic, dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems.
Little wonder, Mason concludes, that we see various degenerative conditions on the rise. She turns her attention to children, the most vulnerable section of the population, and refers to the UN expert on toxicity Baskut Tuncak. He wrote a scathing piece in the Guardian on 06/11/2017 on the effects of agrotoxins on children's health:
"Our children are growing up exposed to a toxic cocktail of weedkillers, insecticides, and fungicides