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Neoliberalism as secular religion,
 "Idolatry of money", "Cult of possessions", "Neoliberal jihad"

News Neoliberalism Recommended Links Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult Classification of Corporate Psychopaths Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism
Greenspan as the Chairman of Financial Politburo techno-fundamentalism Psychological Warfare and the New World Order: The Secret War Against the American People Over-consumption of Luxury Goods as Market Failure The Great Transformation Greenspan humor Etc

“What does Christianity mean today? National Socialism is a religion. All we lack is a religious genius capable of uprooting outmoded religious practices and putting new ones in their place. We lack traditions and ritual. One day soon National Socialism will be the religion of all Germans. My Party is my church, and I believe I serve the Lord best if I do his will, and liberate my oppressed people from the fetters of slavery. That is my gospel.”
Joseph Goebbels

There is something similar between struggle of the Papal regime with Reformation and the current attack of neoliberal MSM on alternative media. That raises the question to what extent Neoliberalism as an ideology can be viewed as "secular religion".  Pope Francis attacked neoliberalism as an idolatry of money (see Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism)

We can also can talk about neoliberal jihad -- the idea of world domination:

"Bolshevism combines the characteristics of the French Revolution with those of the rise of Islam." "Marx has taught that Communism is fatally predestined to come about; this produces a state of mind not unlike that of the early successors of Mahommet." Among religions, Bolshevism is to be reckoned with Mohammedanism rather than with Christianity and Buddhism. Christianity and Buddhism are primarily personal religions, with mystical doctrines and a love of contemplation. Mohammedanism and Bolshevism are practical, social, unspiritual, concerned to win the empire of this world.

Russell [114]

Perhaps it was Charles Watson who first described Islam as totalitarian in 1937, and proceeded to show how: "By a million roots, penetrating every phase of life, all of them with religious significance, it is able to maintain its hold upon the life of Moslem peoples. "Bousquet, one of the foremost authorities on Islamic Law, distinguishes two aspects of Islam which he considers totalitarian: Islamic Law, and the Islamic notion of Jihad which has for its ultimate aim the conquest of the entire world, in order to submit it to one single authority.

 

The question can political philosophy became a civic religion was previously extensively studied in regard to Marxism-Leninism. See, for example, Does Marxism/Socialism Qualify as a Religion? (November 05, 2009):

One of the results of the establishment of the Church of England was the official persecution by use of government force of other religions, especially Jews and Roman Catholics. One of the main reasons that people from Europe settled in the Colonies was to flee the government-imposed Anglican Church.

The people who settled the Colonies and established the United States recognized that a government-imposed religion was contrary to free religious thought. The 1st Amendment that was eventually ratified provides not only for religious freedom, but freedom from this government-imposed religion:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; ...

The first clause became known as the "Establishment Clause" and the second the "Free Exercise Clause."

I raise this issue because I (and others) believe that the imposition of Marxism and Socialism (Marxism "light") in America, constitutes the establishment of a civil religion that is violative of the Establishment Clause.

Is Marxism and/or Socialism a religion? In Malnak v. Yogi, 592 F.2d 197, 212 (C.A.N.J., 1979), a federal District Court in New Jersey raised this very question:

A more difficult question would be presented by government propagation of doctrinaire Marxism, either in the schools or elsewhere. Under certain circumstances Marxism might be classifiable as a religion and an establishment thereof could result.

Unfortunately, the Court did not answer this question. The Court did, however, leave us with this dicta upon which to ponder:

Such signs might include formal services, ceremonial functions, the existence of clergy, structure and organization, efforts at propagation, observation of holidays and other similar manifestations associated with the traditional religions. Of course, a religion may exist without any of these signs, so they are not determinative, at least by their absence, in resolving a question of definition. But they can be helpful in supporting a conclusion of religious status given the important role such ceremonies play in religious life.

Webster’s defines Marxism as:

the political, economic, and social principles and policies advocated by Marx; especially : a theory and practice of socialism including the labor theory of value, dialectical materialism, the class struggle, and dictatorship of the proletariat until the establishment of a classless society "Marxism." (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009.)

Webster’s defines ‘dialectical materialism’ as:

"the Marxist theory that maintains the material basis of a reality constantly changing in a dialectical process and the priority of matter over mind." (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009.)

Because Marxism proclaims that “reality” is “constantly changing” then dialectical materialism is a Marxist theory that promotes an “ultimate reality” (See Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of University of Virginia, 515 U.S. 819, 819, (U.S.Va.,1995)) or an “ultimate concern” for believers and followers which occupies a place parallel to that filled by God in traditionally religious persons according to the C.A. 7 in 1994.

A general working definition of religion for Free Exercise purposes is any set of beliefs addressing matters of “ultimate concern” occupying a “ ‘place parallel to that filled by ... God’ in traditionally religious persons.” See Welsh v. United States, 398 U.S. 333, 340, 90 S.Ct. 1792, 1796, 26 L.Ed.2d 308 (1970).

In TOWARD A CONSTITUTIONAL DEFINITION OF RELIGION from the Harvard Law Review 91 HVLR 1056 it is clear that political philosophies can become civic religions.

Even political and social beliefs may be religious. Tillich suggests: “If a national group makes the life and growth of the nation its ultimate concern … [e]verything is centered in the only god, the nation ….” [FN91] This point has been variously made about “civil religion in America,” [FN92] Communism, [FN93] Marxism, [FN94] Nazism, Italian Fascism, and Japanese militarism. [FN95]
 

[FN91]. P. TILLICH, supra note 66, at 44. [FN92]. Bellah, Civil Religion in America, 96 DAEDALUS 1, 1-9 (1967). See also Cousins, La Politique Comme Religion aux Etats-Unis, in RELIGION ET POLITIQUE: ACTES DE COLLOQUE ORGANISÉ PAR LE CENTRE INTERNATIONAL D'ETUDES HUMANISTES ET PAR L'INSTITUT D'ETUDES PHILOSOPHIQUES DE ROME, JANVIER 3-7, 1978 (forthcoming, 1978).
 

[FN93]. J. BENNETT, CHRISTIANITY AND COMMUNISM 87-88 (1970). See also J. MURRY, THE NECESSITY OF COMMUNISM (1932) (arguing that Communism is the world's one living religion).
 

[FN94]. See L. DEWART, THE FUTURE OF BELIEF 56-58 (1966).
 

[FN95]. See E. SHILLITO, NATIONALISM: MAN'S OTHER
RELIGION (1933).

Is there anyone who would disagree that Marxists believe (1) there is no God, and (2) that people should believe in Marxism rather than in a God? If so, then Marxism certainly qualifies as a "religion." Accordingly, because the people have freedom to believe or not to believe in any particular religion, should we not be free to believe in Marxism or not? I personally would not bemoan the right of a Marxist to believe in Marxism. Otherwise, I would violate the Free Exercise Clause of the 1st Amendment: "Congress shall make no law ... prohibiting the free exercise thereof; ..."

The next question (to be addressed tomorrow) is whether the imposition, by use of government edict, of Marxism upon those of us who do not believe in Marxism would violate the "Establishment Clause."

Posted by Rgnad Kzin at

Neoliberalism as the official state religion of the USA which displaced Christianity

Pope Francis aptly called neoliberalism as "idolatry of money".  In other words a cult. Here is a direct quote:

No to the new idolatry of money

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

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

Political Theology of Late Capital

From preview of: Amazon.com Neoliberalism's Demons On the Political Theology of Late Capital by Adam Kotsko

NOTE: The author names New Deal Capitalism model as Fordism.

Every academic critique of neoliberalism is an unacknowledged memoir. We academics occupy a crucial node in the neoliberal system. Our institutions are foundational to neoliberalism's claim to be a meritocracy, insofar as we are tasked with discerning and certifying the merit that leads to the most powerful and desirable jobs. Yet at the same time, colleges and universities have suffered the fate of all public goods under the neoliberal order. We must therefore "do more with less," cutting costs while meeting ever-greater demands. The academic workforce faces increasing precarity and shrinking wages even as it is called on to teach and assess more students than ever before in human history—and to demonstrate that we are doing so better than ever, via newly devised regimes of outcome-based assessment. In short, we academics live out the contradictions of neoliberalism every day.

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On a more personal level it reflects my upbringing in the suburbs of Flint, Michigan, a city that has been utterly devastated by the transition to neoliberalism. As I lived through the slow-motion disaster of the gradual withdrawal of the auto industry, I often heard Henry Ford s dictum that a company could make more money if the workers were paid enough to be customers as well, a principle that the major US automakers were inexplicably abandoning. Hence I find it [Fordism -- NNB]  to be an elegant way of capturing the postwar model’s promise of creating broadly shared prosperity by retooling capitalism to produce a consumer society characterized by a growing middle class—and of emphasizing the fact that that promise was ultimately broken.

By the mid-1970s, the postwar Fordist order had begun to breakdown to varying degrees in the major Western countries. While many powerful groups advocated a response to the crisis that would strengthen the welfare state, the agenda that wound up carrying the day was neoliberalism, which was most forcefully implemented in the United Kingdom by Margaret Thatcher and in the United States by Ronald Reagan. And although this transformation was begun by the conservative part)', in both countries the left-of-center or (in American usage) “liberal”party wound up embracing neoliberal tenets under Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, ostensibly for the purpose of directing them toward progressive ends. With the context of current debates within the US Democratic Party, this means that Clinton acolytes are correct to claim that “neoliberalism” just is liberalism but only to the extent that, in the contemporary United States, the term liberalism is little more than a word for whatever the policy agenda of the Democratic Party happens to be at any given time. Though politicians of all stripes at times used libertarian rhetoric to sell their policies, the most clear-eyed advocates of neoliberalism realized that there could be no simple question of a “return” to the laissez-faire model.

Rather than simply getting the state “out of the way," they both deployed and transformed state power, including the institutions of the welfare state, to reshape society in accordance with market models. In some cases creating markets where none had previously existed, as in the privatization of education and other public services. In others it took the form of a more general spread of a competitive market ethos into ever more areas of life—so that we are encouraged to think of our reputation as a “brand," for instance, or our social contacts as fodder for “networking.” Whereas classical liberalism insisted that capitalism had to be allowed free rein within its sphere, under neoliberalism capitalism no longer has a set sphere. We are always “on the clock,” always accruing (or squandering) various forms of financial and social capital.

Why Political Theology ?

Thus neoliberalism is more than simply a formula for economic policy'. It aspires to be a complete way of life and a holistic worldview, in a way that previous models of capitalism did not. It is this combination of policy agenda •and moral ethos that leads me to designate neoliberalism as a form of political theology. As with the term neoliberalism, my fully articulated view of die latter term will unfold over the course of the entire argument of this book, and so 1 will again limit myself to addressing some initial sources of confusion.

Here the term theology is likely to present the primary difficulty, as it seems to presuppose some reference to God. Familiarity with political theology as it has conventionally been practiced would reinforce that association. Schmitt’s Political Theology and Kantorowicz’s The King's Two Bodies both focused on the parallels between God and the earthly ruler,3 and much subsequent work in die field has concentrated on the theological roots of political concepts of state sovereignty'. Hence the reader may justly ask whether I am claiming that neoliberalism presupposes a concept of God.

The short answer is no. I am not arguing, for example, that neoliberalism “worships” the invisible hand, the market, money, wealthy entrepreneurs, or any other supposed “false idol,” nor indeed that it is somehow secretly “religious” in the sense of being fanatical and unreasoning. Such claims presuppose a strong distinction between the religious and the secular, a distinction that proved foundational for the self-legitimation of the modern secular order but that has now devolved into a stale cliché. As I will discuss in the chapters that follow, one of the things that most appeals to me about political theology as a discipline is the way that it rejects the religious/secular binary.

That binary conditions the way people think about theology, leading them to view it as a discourse that, in contrast with rational modes of inquiry like philosophy and science, is concerned exclusively with God, is based on faith claims as opposed to verifiable facts, and is ultimately always dogmatic and close-minded. Yet attempts to establish a qualitative distinction between theology' and philosophy or science on these grounds fail completely. If discourse about God is the defining feature, then Aristotle, Descartes, and Newton must be dismissed as mere theologians. If unverifiable premises mark the difference, then Euclidean geometry is the vilest form of fundamentalism.

Coming at the problem from the other direction, theology' has always been about much more than God. Even the simplest theological systems have a lot to say about the world we live in, how it came to be the way it is, and how it should be. Those ideals are neither true nor false in an empirical sense, nor is it fair to say that believers accept them blindly.

Every' such theological ideal ultimately comes to depend on cultural inertia, but it could not take root and spread in the first place if it were not appealing and persuasive. It is this world-ordering ambition of theology, which relies on people s convictions about how the world is and ought to be, that for me represents a more fruitful distinction between theological discourse and philosophical or scientific discourses, at least as the latter tend to be practiced in the contemporary world.

It is in this sense that I consider neoliberal ideology a form of theology—it is a discourse that aims to reshape the world. But here another question arises: why not simply call it an ideology? Why court misleading preconceptions about theology when an alternative exists? I answer that the term ideology carries its own preconceptions with it, which I am even more concerned to avoid.

The term necessarily evokes the Marxist theory of ideology, which in its most simplistic forms maintains that ideology is merely a secondary effect of the development of the economic mode of production. This reductionism carries with it the implication that ideology, as an illusion propagated by the bourgeoisie, can be replaced by the true view of things, namely Marxist science. While the Marxist tradition has consistently tried to break free of this one-sided reductionism—an attempt that has often involved an engagement with theology', most famously in Althusser’s evocation of Pascal in “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”4—it remains an inescapable center of gravity' for the theory of ideology. Moreover, as I will show in subsequent chapters, this reductionism has made it very' difficult for  Marxist critics to grasp the distinctiveness of neoliberalism. Hence I chose a different path.

I will begin to lay out my own account of political theology in the first chapter, but I hope it is already dear that I conceive of the discipline as more than simply the study of parallels between political and theological concepts. On the most fundamental level, I regard political theology as the study of systems of legitimacy, of the ways that political, social, economic, and religious orders maintain their explanatory power and justify the loyalty of their adherents. I maintain that we have misunderstood neoliberalism if we do not recognize that it, too, is a system concerned with its own self-legitimation. In this respect the account of neoliberalism that comes closest to my approach is Will Daviess The Limits of Neoliberalism, which he describes as “a piece of interpretive sociology." This means that his study “starts from the recognition that neoliberalism rests on claims to legitimacy, which it is possible to imagine as valid, even for critics of this system. .. . The book assumes that political-economic systems typically need to offer certain limited forms of hope, excitement, and fairness in order to survive, and cannot operate via domination and exploitation alone."5 Davies’s sociological approach takes him into territories I am not trained to explore, including the internal culture of regulatory agencies tasked with implementing neoliberal policies. In my view he provides an irrefutable demonstration of the fact that neoliberalism really is a consciously embraced ideology that has worked its way through concrete institutions of governance, while at the same time accounting for the developments and apparent contradictions in neoliberal thought and practice over the last several decades.

The obvious difference in scope and approach between our respective projects, despite our similar starting point, highlights another feature that is central to my vision of political theology: its genealogical character. Simply put, political theology always takes the long view—indeed, to such an extent that other academic disciplines could rightly portray it as speculative and even irresponsible. In the case of the current study, for instance, I must confess that I am unable to empirically document the connection that I am positing between late medieval theology and contemporary neoliberal practices. But neither could anyone else, and that is because the types of large-scale narratives that political theology constructs arc neither true nor false on a strictly empirical basis. Political theology seeks not to document the past, but to make it available as a tool to think with. It docs not aim merely to interpret the present moment, but to defamiliariac it by exposing its contingency. In other words, political-theological genealogies are creative attempts to reorder our relationship with the past and present in order to reveal fresh possibilities for the future.

The Plan of the Work

So far, I have offered only provisional sketches of neoliberalism and political theology and the relationship I see between them. They should not be regarded as firm definitions but as points of reference to help orient the investigation. In the chapters that follow, I will not merely be filling in more detail on neoliberalism and political theology; rather, I will gradually redefine each in terms of the challenge presented by the other.

For this pairing is anything but obvious. On the one hand, most accounts of neoliberalism leave little room for the conventional themes of political theology—above all of the notion of state sovereignty, which has supposedly been eclipsed in the neoliberal order/’ On the other hand, Schmitt's initial formulation of political theology omits and even denigrates the economic concerns that are ostensibly the sole concern of neoliberalism. In order to bring together neoliberalism and political theology, my first step is to show that the conventional themes of political theology emerge persistently in the existing accounts of neoliberalism, but are always viewed as an extrinsic and even surprising element that theorists tend not to account for in any systematic way. Then, coming at the problem from the other direction, I attempt to show that Schmitt s presentation of political theology is artificially narrow and to provide grounds in his text for a broader vision of the field that could include a phenomenon like neoliberalism. Without leaving aside political theology’s traditional focus on the homologies between theological and political systems, this more general political theology would ask more explicitly about the source of those homologies—namely, the ultimately unanswerable question that is expressed theologically as the problem of evil and politically as the problem of legitimacy.

Thus a political-theological approach to neoliberalism would not ask about the role of the state or sovereignty so much as the ways that the neoliberal

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CHAPTER I: THE POLITICAL THEOLOGY OF LATE CAPITAL

Neoliberalism loves to hide. On the increasingly frequent but still rare occasions when the term appears in the mainstream media, it is always in the context of an introductory treatment.1 Strangely, one can never assume that the educated public is already acquainted with the force that has deeply shaped public policy and economic outcomes for a generation or more in the major Western countries and much of the developing world. For its advocates, as for those shaped by the “common sense” of mainstream political discussion, it is not a particular ideology nor even an ideology at all. It is simply the way things are, the set of “realistic” policies that “work.”'ll»is very invisibility is a measure of its power, and the fact that the word can now be uttered in public is a sign that its planetary sway is growing less secure.

The term itself is slippery. It is first of all a periodizing concept that names the political-economic model that grew out of the crisis of the postwar settlement known as Fordism; hence it is in principle purely descriptive. At the same time it is a conceptual weapon for left-wing critics who take aim at all that is oppressive and alienating in our present world. So on the one hand, one might observe, seemingly neutrally, that whereas Fordism favored high taxation to limit inequality, energetic regulation of industry to make sure it serves social goals, strong labor unions that help workers claim their fair share, and careful control of international trade to protect domestic industry, neoliberalism has tended to pursue the reverse in all these areas: reducing taxes to increase the capital available for investment, deregulation to subject firms to market discipline rather than bureaucratic control, flexible labor markets that maximize efficiency and profitability, and free trade that breaks down arbitrary national boundaries to prosperity. Yet even though I have attempted to present it in positive terms that neoliberals themselves would accept, the very designation of the latter agenda as “neoliberal” implies a negative judgment of those developments.

This halo of negativity results partly from the fact that neoliberal is almost never used as a term of self-designation—though here, as with seemingly every generalization about neoliberalism, there arc exceptions. Most notably, one of the movement’s greatest theorists and propagandists, Milton Friedman, used the term in something like its contemporary sense in his 1951 essay “Neo-Liberalism and Its Prospects.”2 In this short text Friedman laments that in his time “legislation is still largely dominated by the trend of opinion toward collectivism” (3) and that even where the right manages an electoral victory, its leaders are still “infected by the intellectual air they breathe” (4). Yet the collectivist faith has encountered undeniable obstacles, and Friedman is confident that a new trend in public opinion is beginning to develop, one that makes room for a return to the tenets of classical nineteenth-century laissez-faire liberalism but without that movement’s naive antistatism. What Friedman describes in this lecture is identifiable as the contemporary neoliberal agenda, in which the state actively cultivates and maintains the conditions necessary for vigorous market competition, trusting in the price mechanism to deliver more efficient outcomes than direct state planning ever could. Hence his use of the term neo-liberalism: it is not a question of simply “returning” to traditional laissez-faire by getting the state out of the way, but of using state policy as a means to actively create a new version of classical liberalism.

Much in Friedman’s text appears prophetic in retrospect, but one detail in particular is simply uncanny. In an offhand remark, he notes that “some twenty years or more may elapse between a change in the underlying current twenty years or more may elapse between a change in the underlying current of opinion and the resultant alteration in public policy” (3). Right on schedule, one of the signal events in the transition from Fordism to neoliberalism happened twenty years after Friedman wrote his article: Nixon's decision in 1971 to go off the gold standard, which broke with the Bretton Woods settlement that had governed international finance throughout the postwar era and inadvertently cleared the space for the fluctuating exchange rates that proved so central to the rise of contemporary finance capitalism. Only two years later, the oil crisis ushered in the period of “stagflation,” a combination of slow economic growth and high inflation that should not have been possible in terms of the regnant Keynesian economics of the time and that proved unresponsive to the standard mix of policies Keynesianism prescribed.

The moment for a new economic model had arrived, and the theorists and propagandists of neoliberalism — the group that Philip Mirowski calls the Neoliberal Thought Collective — were ready to seize the opportunity.3 And once they gained ascendancy, they set up a self-reinforcing system that not only persisted but expanded for decades. Even the Global Financial Crisis, far from toppling the neoliberal order, strengthened its stranglehold on the terms of debate, despite the fact that no major economist had predicted it and most neoliberal policy prescriptions actually worsened the economic slump they were meant to solve. Admittedly, this amazing prescience and persistence is difficult to square with the tenets of neoliberal theory, which in popular presentations appears to amount to a simplistic libertarianism that would seem more at home in a college dorm room than in the most prestigious economics departments in the world. But in another turn of the screw, the neoliberal order has given rise to financial engineering of mind-boggling complexity, deploying the expertise of PhD physicists and massive computing power to gain a competitive edge in the market.

Thus neoliberalism is both a descriptive and a polemical term to describe an ideology whose adherents mostly refuse to admit that it exists, which is at once stunningly foresighted and vulnerable to unpredictable crises and which was masterfully implemented by Machiavellian geniuses who often appear to be as intellectually sophisticated as a teenager who has just discovered Ayn Rand. Clearly, we arc dealing with a strange phenomenon, and the academic literature surrounding neoliberalism reflects the contradictions in its elusive object. While the basic content of neoliberalism—both its ideological agenda and the results that follow from it—is not subject to serious dispute, no settled agreement exists on how to articulate those features into a coherent whole. To illustrate my point, I will briefly present a few of the most influential approaches to this question.

David Harvey’s strategy, in A Brief History of Neoliberalism, is to put forward the concrete results as the key to interpreting neolibcralism.4 From Harvey’s Marxist perspective, neoliberalism is the latest front in the class struggle, undoing the postwar gains of the working class through the formation and enrichment of a new capitalist class and the immiseration of workers. Although Harvey does draw attention to the fact that neoliberalism has “become hegemonic as a mode of discourse” and has been thoroughly “incorporated into the common-sense way many of us interpret, live in, and understand the world,”’ he ultimately dismisses the policy agenda as incoherent and the ideology as essentially irrelevant. Indeed, it is only the class clement that is definitive of neoliberalism for Harvey, so that China—which is far from embracing the Washington Consensus on an ideological or policy level, as shown by the fact that it still promulgates communist-style five-year plans that imply a level of direct state planning completely incompatible with neoliberalism—can appear as an exemplar of neoliberalism due solely to the emergence of a new capitalist class in recent decades.'’ Yet if neoliberalism is simply the bourgeoisies revenge, then how can Harvey account for the fact that it is precisely a new capitalist class that is created?' And how can he find a place for neoliberal thinkers like Friedman, those strange “organic intellectuals” who preexisted, and contributed to the creation of, the very class that their ideas came to serve?

It is this group that Mirowski highlights with his notion of the Neoliberal Thought Collective. One could walk away from Harvey's account viewing the major figures of neoliberalism as dispensable figureheads for impersonal political and economic forces. By contrast, the most compact possible summary of Mirowski s book would be: “It’s people! Neoliberalism is made out of people!” In this reading there was nothing inevitable about neoliberalism's rise, which depended on the vision and organization of particular nameable individuals.

For Mirowski, the apparent incoherence in neoliberal ideology and policy making is the product of the political strategy of the Neoliberal Thought Collective, which feeds the general public a simplified version of neoliberal dogma, providing its agenda with a veneer of popular legitimacy, while a more flexible and realistic esoteric doctrine guides the actual policy implementation. In other words, the discursive elements that Harvey tends to dismiss are an integral part of neoliberalism's initial political success and its ongoing self-reproduction. For Wendy Brown, by contrast, the results that Harvey and Mirowski attribute to a political struggle are precisely the death of politics.8 Inspired by Hannah Arendt’s articulation of Aristotle’s distinction between the political and the economic realms, Brown portrays neoliberalism as an attempt to extinguish the political—here represented by the liberal democratic tradition of popular sovereignty and self-rule—and consign humanity to a purely economic existence. In the end Brown calls us to take up a strange kind of metapolitical struggle against the economic enemy, in defense of politics as such. Meanwhile, Jodi Dean, who agrees that neoliberalism has a depoliticizing tendency, argues that this depoliticization actually depends on the notion of democracy and that appeals to democracy against neoliberalism arc therefore doomed in advance.9

As ever, the Protean slipperiness of neoliberalism seems to defy analysis. Is neoliberal ideology a smokescreen for a political agenda, or is it integral to the whole? Is neoliberalism actually properly political at all, or does it instead spell the death of politics? Docs neoliberalism undermine democracy, or docs it rely on it for its own legitimation? What exactly arc we dealing with here?

This situation is very strange. As I have already noted, for academic commentators, in stark contrast to the sometimes willful ignorance found in mainstream debate, the attributes and effects of neoliberalism appear more or less self-evident; that is to say, there should seemingly be no dispute about what neoliberalism is. Yet in what almost amounts to a parody of the atomistic individualism of our contemporary order, there sometimes seem to be as many concepts of neoliberalism as there are commentators. There is, however, a broad consensus on which theoretical tools are most helpful in this regard, insofar as the dominant perspectives for dealing with neoliberalism are Marxism (an obvious fit for a critique of contemporary capitalism) and Foucauldianism (equally obvious in light of Foucault’s shockingly prescient account of the formative stages of neoliberalism in The Birth of Biopolitics)10

Other approaches, such as psychoanalysis, have made themselves felt in this debate, but Marxism and Foucauldianism remain the key points of reference in essentially ever) major treatment of neoliberalism.12

... ... ...

...as when Obamacare effectively created a market in individual health insurance plans, an area where the market was previously so dysfunctional as to be essentially nonexistent.

The example of Obamacare also highlights the peculiar nature of neoliberal freedom. One of its most controversial provisions was a mandate that all Americans must have health insurance coverage. From a purely libertarian perspective, this is an impermissible infringement on economic freedom— surely if i am free to make my own economic decisions, I am also free to choose not to purchase health insurance. Yet the mandate fits perfectly with the overall ethos of neoliberalism. On a practical level this aspect of the plan was a necessary complement to the rule forbidding insurers from rejecting applicants with a preexisting medical condition, which would allow people to wait until they were sick to purchase insurance, leading to a collapse of the market by either bankrupting insurers or leading to out-of-control premium increases. In this respect the mandate represented the states attempt to set up and preserve a functioning market in individual health insurance plans. At the same time, it expressed a deeper truth of neoliberalism. Within the market created by Obamacare, I was free to choose whichever health plan I might want, but I was not free to opt out of the market altogether. If I am not inclined to express my economic freedom in that sphere, then 1 must be forced to be free.

This same logic of constraint appears throughout neoliberalism at every level. At the global scale, if states attempt to “opt out" of the neoliberal order, they will lose out on investment and jobs as companies move to more compliant (or, to use the term of art, "competitive") countries. On the individual level there is an even harder constraint: the sheer necessity for survival. Though even neoliberals recognize the need for some base-level protection against abject poverty, the social safety’ net is set up to “incentivize” work as much as possible. Meanwhile, the erosion of job security through deunionization and other measures to maximize "flexibility" in labor markets means that workers arc forced into a perpetual competition. Even when they succeed in finding a steady job, they have to fight continually to keep it. And in between, at the level of the individual firm, deregulation on the governmental level does not mean companies can simply do whatever they want. Instead, they are subjected to the more comprehensive and inescapable constraint of market discipline. If we ask why a particular company cannot choose to treat its workers better and offer them job security' (in the hopes of better productivity', for instance), the answer is that the market would never allow it: a shareholder revolt or hostile takeover would lead to the removal of any management team that made such a scandalous proposal.

Overall, then, in neoliberalism an account of human nature where economic competition is the highest value leads to a political theory where the prime duty of the state is to enable, and indeed mandate, such competition, and the result is a world wherein individuals, firms, and states are all continually constrained to express themselves via economic competition. This means that neoliberalism tends to create a world in which neoliberalism is “true.” A more coherent and self-reinforcing political theology can scarcely be imagined—but that, I will argue, is precisely what any attempt to create an alternative to neoliberalism must do.

Thus far, I have distinguished two forms of political theology at work in Schmitt s foundational text. The first is a restricted form focused on sovereignty and the transition from the medieval to the modern, which has largely set the agenda for research in the field. The second is a more general form of which the restricted form is only a narrow subset, which would study the parallels between political and theological or metaphysical discourse as rooted in the interminable struggle with what can be variously called the problem of evil or the problem of legitimacy. I have also provided a broad overview of what it would mean to view neoliberalism as a political-theological paradigm in the broader sense and some initial indication of the advantages such an approach might have over the dominant Marxist and Foucauldian interpretations of neoliberalism.

At the same time, I have identified a major obstacle to any attempt to view neoliberalism through a political-theological lens: the field’s deeply polemical relationship to the economic realm. My task in this chapter will be to show that this bias against the economic, just like the bias in favor of sovereignty and medieval-to-modern genealogies, is an arbitrary one that leads the field into unnecessary contradictions and aporias. At bottom, my argument is based on my conviction that one of the most attractive things about political theology is the way it overcomes — or, perhaps more accurately, shows a principled disregard for — simplistic binaries. In connection with the political-economic binary in particular, a political-theological account promises a nonreductionist account of the role of economics in the neoliberal order.

If all  I wanted was a theoretical apparatus for interpreting the economic dynamics of the neoliberal order, of course, I should look no further than Marxism. David Harvey's influential account is a case in point: virtually no other interpreters of neoliberalism show anywhere near the same confidence and rigor in their handling of economic material. At the same time, I have already pointed out that Harvey seems to have difficulty specifying what is unique about neoliberalism. His Marxist approach leads him to view political institutions and ideology as superstructures that ultimately only reflect the more fundamental economic base or mode of production—but once we leave aside neoliberalism’s explicit ideology and political ambitions, what is left but die same old story of capitalism? In Dardot and Laval’s words, “Trapped in a conception that makes the ‘logic of capital  an autonomous motor of history, [Marxists] reduce the latter to the sheer repetition of the same scenarios, with the same characters in new costumes and the same plots in new settings.”1 This economic reductionism “presupposes that the ‘bourgeoisie’ is an historical subject which persists over time; that it pre-exists the relations of struggle it engages in with other classes; and that it was sufficient for it to apprise, influence, and corrupt politicians for them to abandon Keynesian policies and compromise formulas between labor and capital.”2

Such a simplistic narrative is belied by Harvey’s own “recognition of the fact that classes have been profoundly changed during the process of neo-liberalization”— meaning that the beneficiaries cannot have planned the neoliberal push in any straightforward way.1 More than that, an economic-reductionist account ignores the decisive role of the state in the development of the neoliberal order: “To believe that ‘financial markets’ one fine day eluded the grasp of politics is nothing but a fairy talc. It was states, and global economic organizations, in close collusion with private actors, that fashioned rules conducive to the expansion of market finance.”'' In other words, politics are not epiphenomcnal to economic structures but directly transform them.

Dardot and Laval are far from the first to notice a problem here. Marxists have always had an ambivalent relationship with the tendency toward economic reductionism in their intellectual tradition, by turns embracing it as the only possible basis for a scientific Marxism and distancing themselves from its more extreme implications. The most popular version of the latter strategy can be encapsulated in the notion that the economy is “determinative in the last instance,” which seems to provide some breathing room for a relative autonomy of the political-ideological “superstructure” over and against the economic-material “base.” As Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffc argue, however, such a threading of the needle ultimately fails: if the economy is determinative in the last instance, it is always determinative.5 Working in the wake of Laclau and Mouffe’s intervention, Slavoj Zizek has reconceived the material “base” more abstractly as the existence of an insoluble deadlock or obstacle that Jacques Lacan designated as “the Real.”

On this basis Zizek puts forth a new vision of Marxism in which ideology critique took on an unexpectedly central role as a Hegelian critique of the Marxist tradition allowed him to move past conventional reductionism. Zizek has proven to be a helpful interlocutor for many working in political theology (including Eric Santner and myself),7 and that dialogue has been reciprocal insofar as Ziiek has engaged extensively with theological themes in many of his writings. Yet his attempt at a synthesis of Hegel and Lacan (two thinkers who are surely already complex enough on their own) has grown more and more self-referential and unresponsive to changing political and economic realities.8

If this increasingly baroque—and still incomplete— system is what it takes to overcome Marxist reductionism, why not simply start from the nonreductionist standpoint of political theology?

Here I may seem to be knocking at an open door, however, insofar as Foucauldianism already represents a nonrcductionist approach to the interplay of discursive, political, and economic forces. Foucault starts from the position that both knowledge and institutional practices contribute equally to networks of power, and in contrast to conventional political theology’s animus against the economic, he includes economic practices and techniques alongside the many other modes in which power is exercised. With respect to the political-economic dyad that is my quarry in this chapter, then, Foucauldianism provides a model for my general theory of political theology. In the next chapter, I hope to demonstrate that political theology’s focus on the sources of legitimacy—which carries with it a focus on moral agency, responsibility, and obligation—can help supplement the

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Where the political for Aristotle is the place for equality and contestation, the household, by contrast, displays a harmonious hierarchical order. None of these distinctions is absolute or exclusive—for instance, the city is also “natural” in the sense of being the goal toward which human associations do or should tend—but they underwrite a harmonious social order in which every important aspect of human experience is represented and the highest human aspirations find space and support. Yet even on its own terms, Aristotle’s idyllic polis is menaced from within by a binary that emerges from the household itself: the distinction between legitimate household management (oikonomia) and out-of-control acquisition by means of money and market exchange (cbrimatistiki, which Joe Sachs translates as “provisioning"). Whereas the former is bounded by the goal of “living well,” the latter is completely “unlimited” and hence unnatural.'1 Ihough it cannot be eliminated entirely, the drive for acquisition must not be allowed free rein, lest it completely displace the pursuit of “living well.” It was on the basis of this distinction that one of the greatest theorists of the Fordist order, Karl Polanyi, declared Aristotle’s Politics “certainly still the best analysis of the subject we possess" because it acknowledges the dangers associated with markets, and particularly with money, but nevertheless recognizes that “as long as markets and money were mere accessories to an otherwise self-sufficient household, the principle of production for use could operate.”54 In other words, Polanyi views Aristotle as an early exponent of his own project of preserving what he calls “society” from the corrosive effects of market forces. Much the same could be said of Arendt, for whom Aristotle represents a critic of mass consumer society avant !a lettre.

While one could accuse Arendt or Polanyi of misreading Aristotle on a detailed level, there is nonetheless something appropriate about their gesture. A genealogical perspective invites us to recognize that just as they attempt to borrow Aristotle’s cultural authority to advance their political agendas, so also was Aristotle himself intervening politically in a cultural context where increased reliance on foreign trade and greater emphasis on monetary wealth threatened to undermine traditional social hierarchies and institutions. Aristotle’s text, in other words, does not so much reflect or discover a norm as attempt to impose one on a changing world. And at least in his distinction between legitimate household management and out-of-control acquisition, he was more successful than he ever could have imagined, as his authority backed up a millennium and more of usury bans and trade restrictions in the Christian and Islamic worlds alike. If that authority no longer functions as an effective weapon in the neoliberal order, it is because the advocates of out-of-control acquisition have recruited the forces of family and morality to their side. It is to that disturbing development that we now turn.

CHAPTER 3: NEOLIBERALISM’S DEMONS

Polanyi famously characterized the interplay between market forces and society as a “double movement”: when market relations threaten to undermine the basic foundations of social reproduction, society (most often represented by state institutions) intervenes to prevent or at least delay the trend set in motion by the market. Compared with Aristotle’s distribution of categories between the political and economic realms, Polanyi’s account is itself a “great transformation” on the conceptual level. Where Aristotle distinguished state and household and placed both legitimate economic management and unrestrained accumulation in the latter, Polanyi’s “society” combines the household and the state, leaving only out-of-control acquisition in the purely economic realm. And in this schema, society represents the spontaneous and natural, while the economic force of the market is what is constructed and deliberate.

This latter point may appear initially contradictory, since the “double movement” portrays the state primarily as reactive to market forces. As Polanyi points out, however, markets do not simply spring up naturally but have historically been created and cultivated by state actors—something that is above all true of the global market of the nineteenth century. At the same time, by creating the conditions for a worldwide, self-regulating market, governments were unleashing forces that they would later be forced to contain. Polanyi neatly captures this paradox: “While laissez-faire economy was the product of deliberate State action, subsequent restrictions on laissez-faire started in a spontaneous way. Laissez-faire was planned; planning was not."1 Writing in 1944, Polanyi’s account of the relation between society and the market reflected the deep presuppositions that would shape the emerging postwar order known as Fordism. And as Melinda Cooper points out, Polanyi’s analysis has proven quite durable in the post-Fordist era, as his “thesis of the 'double movement's pervasive and well-nigh uncontested in contemporary left-wing formulations of anticapitalist critique.”2

One of Cooper’s primary ambitions in her bold reexamination of the interplay between neoliberalism and social conservatism in the last forty years of American politics is to displace Polanyi’s theory. At the heart of her critique is the observation that "Polanyi imagines the countcrmovcmcnt [of society against market corrosion] as external to the dynamics of capitalism and yet historically inevitable and indeed necessitated by the free market itself” so that within his framework “resistance can only be imagined as conservative” (14).

The legacy of Polanyi should already be familiar to us in the many analyses of neoliberalism that see the state, nationalism, and other similar forces as extrinsic “leftovers” that precede or exceed neoliberal logic. Normally such interpretations first point out the supposed irony or hypocrisy that neoliberalism comes to require these exogenous elements for its functioning while claiming that those same “leftover" institutions can be sites of resistance. Hence, for instance, one often hears that the left needs to restore confidence in state power over against the market, that socialism can only be viable if a given country isolates itself from the forces of the global market, or in Wendy Brown’s more abstract terms, that the left must reclaim the political to combat the hegemony of the economic.

The goal of the previous chapter was to demonstrate that critiques of neoliberalism based on binaries between the political and the economic arc ultimately self-undermining. Cooper’s argument shows that the same can be said for the other institutions that make up Polanyi’s “society”: above all the family, but also race and religion. Her guiding assumption is that “what Polanyi calls the ‘double movement' would be better understood as fully internal to the dynamic of capital” (15). While capitalism is undoubtedly corrosive of traditional institutions, Cooper asks rhetorically, “is it not also compelled to reassert the reproductive institutions of race, family, and nation as a way of ensuring the unequal distribution of wealth and income across time? Isn’t it compelled, in the last instance, to reinstate the family as the elementary legal form of private wealth accumulation?” (18). And we can adapt this notion to specific phases of capitalism: neoliberalism does not simply destroy some preexisting entity known as “the family,” but creates its own version of the family, one that fits its political-economic agenda, just as Fordism created the white suburban nuclear family that underwrote its political-economic goals.

Neoliberalism achieves this transformation of the family not by deploying economic as opposed to political tools, nor by setting unfettered Aristotelian acquisition over against “natural” household management. Rather, neoliberalism carries out its own “great transformation" by reconfiguring the relationship between the political and the economic and reimagining the household precisely as a site of indefinite accumulation. As Cooper points out, the explosion of inherited wealth, in the wake of an era in which its importance had declined precipitously, was not an accidental or unforeseen result of neoliberal policy' but an explicit attempt to create greater incentives for capital accumulation. Nor indeed were cuts to welfare programs motivated solely or even primarily by a desire for an abstractly “smaller" and less costly government. Rather, neoliberals recognized that “the dismantling of welfare represents the most effective means of restoring the private bonds of familial obligation" (60), as those deprived of an impersonal public safety net will be forced to rely on a familial private safety net. Hence, in this political moment, both neoliberals and neoconservatives can “seize upon the necessity of family responsibility as the ideal source of economic security and an effective counterforce to the demoralizing powers of the welfare state” (73).

Cooper’s revisionist history also highlights a factor that rarely receives extended attention in accounts of neoliberalism: race. The Fordist nuclear family that the state subsidized both directly (through welfare provisions) and indirectly (through subsidies encouraging homcowncrship) was figured explicitly as white, and in Cooper’s telling, the definitive transition from Fordism to neoliberalism can be traced to the reaction against a demand to extend the guarantee of the “family wage” for a male breadwinner to black families.3 That the legacy of slavery should prove decisive will come as no surprise to any student of American history. Nor should readers of Aristotle be taken aback, since in his account, home economics are deeply entwined the same logic of constrained agency (demonization), competition (in which there must be both winners and losers), and conformity (“best practices”) at every level: from the individual to the household to the racial grouping to the region to the country to the world. Neoliberalism is, in sum, a totalizing world order, an integral self reinforcing system of political theology, and it has progressively transformed our world into a living hell. This is felt most acutely by those who have been fully demonized by an economically rapacious and brutally violent prison system. From a political theological perspective, we can see that this infernal system is far from being some merely particular “issue” or “cause”—it is the most extreme expression of the logic of our neoliberal order. The rest of those of us excluded from the elect t percent arc not so thoroughly demonized, but our lives arc increasingly hemmed in by a logic of entrapment and victim blaming. '

The psychic life of neoliberalism, as so memorably characterized by Mark Fisher in Capitalist Realism, is shot through with anxiety and shame. We have to be in a constant state of high alert, always “hustling” for opportunities and connections, always planning for every contingency (including the inherently unpredictable vagaries of health and longevity). This dynamic of “responsibilization,” as Wendy Brown calls it, requires us to fritter away our life with worry and paperwork and supplication, “pitching”ourselves over and over again, building our “personal brand”—all for ever-lowering wages or a smattering of piece-work, which barely covers increasingly exorbitant rent, much less student loan payments.

The vulgar libertarianism that neoliberalism presents as its public face is an integral part of this victim-blaming dynamic. Its atomistic individualism attempts to cover up the existence of systemic forces beyond any individuals control. Its naturalization of the invisible hand of the market and rejection of the meddling influence of the state combine to obscure the fact that the economy is not a realm of unrestrained freedom but of governance and control—one that has been intentionally constructed in a certain way by human beings who, as Mirowski forcefully points out, can often be named individually. Libertarianism does not describe the actual workings of the neoliberal economy, but it does perfectly capture its moral dynamic of using freedom as a mechanism to generate blameworthiness. If you fail, it is your fault, and yours alone. You are in control of your destiny, and if your destiny is miserable, then misery must be what you deserve, because the market is always right. If Job’s friends were alive today, they would be libertarians. This dynamic of demonization entraps us emotionally. If wc buy into the narrative of personal responsibility and agency, then our financial insecurity and underemployment must be our own fault—leading to a feeling of shame when we prove persistently unable to overcome them. If we recognize the systemic forces at work, it can be difficult to avoid a feeling of utter despair. And meanwhile, not even the system's ostensible beneficiaries seem to be enjoying themselves, as our ruling classes—most notably the billionaire who has reached the pinnacle of power and fame—continually complain of being unappreciated and unfairly attacked.

The neoliberal order increasingly spreads only misery, but in this very misery there may be a paradoxical glimmer of hope. Even though there really is no “leftover” institutional form that automatically escapes the logic of neoliberalism, there are still desires and demands—including among those, such as myself, who have known nothing but the neoliberal order for our entire lives—that reject it and potentially exceed it. Already, those desires and demands are beginning to place a major strain on the neoliberal order. The question that remains for us is whether they can be harnessed to form a genuine alternative. As the next chapter will show, the early indications arc mixed at best.

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CHAPTER 4: THIS PRESENT DARKNESS

In 1989 Francis Fukuyama published an essay entitled “Тhe End of History?”1 Though the 1992 book-length version of the argument is better-known, the shorter essay is an interesting document in its own right. Coming before the fall of the Berlin Wall (which would happen in November of that year), much less the dissolution of the Soviet Union itself (which would endure through 1991), it is more cautious than one would expect from the book’s subsequent reputation. Where the latter appeared in the context of triumphalism, as Americans came to believe that they had “won” the Cold War, the shorter essay focuses more on “the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism.” On the basis of this ambiguous victory in an ideological war of attrition, Fukuyama claims that “we may be witnessing . . . the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government” (1).

This one-sided emphasis on liberal democracy as a political ideal is strange, given the primary evidence Fukuyama adduces for the global triumph of Western thought is precisely the spread of Western commercial culture: experimentation with markets in the Soviet Union, the popularity of Western classical music in Japan, “and the rock music enjoyed alike in Prague, Rangoon, and Tehran." And though he attempts to obscure it somewhat through his idiosyncratic descriptions, the narrative arc he supplies for the twentieth century is one in which politics and economics arc deeply intertwined:

The twentieth century saw the developed world descend into a paroxysm of ideological violence, as liberalism contended first with the remnants of absolutism, then bolshevism Ы and fascism, and finally to an updated Marxism that threatened to lead to the ultimate apocalypse of nuclear war. But the century that began full of self-confidence in the ultimate triumph of Western liberal democracy seems at its close to be returning full circle to where it started: not to an “end of ideology" or a convergence between capitalism and socialism, as earlier predicted, but to an unabashed victory of economic and political liberalism, (1)

In terms of the main events, this is a narrative that critics and exponents of neolibcralism would recognize. Yet both would equally object to the idea that “economic and political liberalism” was somehow passively waiting for the various alternatives to exhaust themselves. As we have seen, the return to a new version of classical liberalism at the end of the twentieth century was not the simple reemergence of something that had always been lurking in the background but the result of an aggressive political movement. Fukuyama knows this very well, because he had not only witnessed that transformation—as a member of the Reagan administration, he actively participated in it.

Hence Marika Rose is right to connect Fukuyama’s “end of history" thesis to the triumph not of liberal democratic political institutions but of neoliberalism.2 And Fukuyama is actively contributing to the “end of history” that he claims to be documenting, insofar as he is hard at work naturalizing neolibcralism as what is left over once its ideological opponents have exhausted themselves. From this perspective his argument marks a turning point in the history of the ncoliberal “end of history,” the shift, in Will Davies’s terms, from “combative neoliberalism” to “normative neoliberalism.”-* The former period, which Davies defines as lasting from 1979 through 1989, was the Hence Marika Rose is right to connect Fukuyama's “end of history” thesis to the triumph not of liberal democratic political institutions but of neoliberalism.2 And Fukuyama is actively contributing to the “end of history” that he claims to be documenting, insofar as he is hard at work naturalizing neolibcralism as what is left over once its ideological opponents have exhausted themselves. From this perspective his argument marks a turning point in the history of the ncoliberal “end of history,” the shift, in Will Davies’s terms, from “combative neoliberalism” to “normative neoliberalism.”* The former period, which Davies defines as lasting from 1979 through 1989, was the Reagan-Thatcher era, when neoliberalism “was a self-conscious insurgency, a social movement aimed at combating and ideally destroying the enemies of liberal capitalism” (126). The latter, ranging from 1989 to 2008, was the era when ostensibly progressive parties took the lead, responding to the new political terrain in which “a single political-economic system” had emerged victorious by embracing the “explicitly normative” project of “how to render that system ‘fair1” (127).

In retrospect, the 1990s and early 2000s were the classical era of neoliberalism, the period when the project shifted from its one-sidedly polemical emphasis toward a more positive and constructive stance. Embracing the ethos of omnipresent competition, center-left ncolibcrals like Clinton and Blair attempted “to ensure that ‘winners' were clearly distinguishable from ‘losers,’ and that the contest was perceived as fair” (127). Under normative neoliberalism “neoclassical economics becomes a soft constitution for government, or ‘governance’ in its devolved forms.

Normative questions of fairness, reward, and recognition become channeled into economic tests of efficiency and comparisons of' excellence. Coupled to markets and quasimarket contests, the ideal is that of meritocracy, of reward being legitimately earned, rather than arbitrarily inherited” (128). In other words, where the combative stage had been content to secure the actual victory of neoliberalism, the normative stage undertook to legitimate it. And they were largely successful, as rising income inequality did not become a major political issue as long as economic growth continued and the various economic and quasi market testing regimes appeared to be fair and evenhanded. 'the mantra of “there is no alternative"—which under Thatcher and Reagan had been at once an aspiration and a threat—fell aside as meritocratic metrics took on an “a priori status" throughout all levels of society. Only with the Global Financial Crisis was the spell truly broken, when “it emerged that systems of audit and economic modeling could potentially serve vested political and economic interests.” This means that massive income inequality, “which had been rising in most of the Global North since the 1980s, returned as a major concern only once the tests of legitimate inequality had been found to be faulty” (129).

In the wake of the crisis, Davies believes we moved into a new stage: punitive neoliberalism. Where normative neoliberalism had witnessed an explosion of credit at every level, justified as a motor for creating economic opportunity, punitive neoliberalism marks the moment when the bill comes due: “The transfer of banking debts onto government balance sheets, creating the justification for austerity, has triggered a third phase of neolib

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THIS PRESENT DARKNESS

...drones who have forgotten how to want political change, our contemporary experience shows that it is precisely the generation that has known nothing but ncolibcralism that is most likely to reject it. The order that strove to shape the entire world in its image—nay, to reshape human nature itself!— appears to be failing spectacularly in the core task of any political-theological paradigm: ensuring that it is accepted and reproduced by the next generation. If our present political moment teaches us anything, then, it teaches us that neoliberalism is not sustainable. This is not because it is economically inefficient (though it is), nor is it because it embraces an inherently fragile political strategy (though it does). The root problem is at the level of political theology: its approach to self-legitimation is self-undermining. The very strategies that it uses to justify itself and its outcomes inevitably create subjects who arc anxious, ashamed, resentful, and exhausted. It may well hold out through inertia or through presenting itself as a lesser evil compared to the right-wing reaction, or it may attempt to convert itself into a more overtly coercive order. But neoliberalism will never again appear as the righteous insurgent of the combative period or as the self-evident order of the normative period.

The spell has been broken—or rather, it has collapsed, and therein lies the difficulty. Neoliberalism has lost its aura of inevitability, but at the same time no comprehensive alternative has presented itself.

Though I cannot pretend to know in detail what that alternative will look like if and when it arises, in the time that remains I will attempt to sketch out some indications of how we might recognize it when it comes.

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AFTER NEOLIBERALISM

My goal in this book has been not only to offer an analysis of neoliberalism, but to think through the ways that political theology would have to change in order to be equal to the task of such an analysis. While conceding that neoliberalism would not count as a paradigm of political theology in strict Schmittian terms, I argued in the first chapter that we can sec in Schmitt s own work a broader vision of political theology, of which the standard Schmittian model would be only a narrow subset. This general theory of political theology would be defined not by particular classic themes—such as the homology between divine and human sovereignty and the problem of the transition from medieval Christianity to secular modernity—but as an inquiry into the ways that human communities try to justify their structures of governance (the political problem of legitimacy) and make sense of their experience of suffering and injustice (the theological problem of evil). With this expanded notion of political theology in mind, 1 went on to challenge the conventional understanding of its constituent terms. In my second chapter I argued that the “political” in political theology cannot be understood in terms of “Arcndt’s axiom," according to which there is (or at least should be) an absolute qualitative distinction between the political and the economic. And in the following chapter I made the case that the most salient theological theme for understanding neoliberalism is not divine sovereignty but creaturely free will—reflecting my view that the “theology” My goal in this book has been not only to offer an analysis of neoliberalism, but to think through the ways that political theology would have to change in order to be equal to the task of such an analysis. While conceding that neoliberalism would not count as a paradigm of political theology in strict Schmittian terms, I argued in the first chapter that we can sec in Schmitt s own work a broader vision of political theology, of which the standard Schmittian model would be only a narrow subset.

This general theory of political theology would be defined not by particular classic themes—such as the homology between divine and human sovereignty and the problem of the transition from medieval Christianity to secular modernity—but as an inquiry into the ways that human communities try to justify their structures of governance (the political problem of legitimacy) and make sense of their experience of suffering and injustice (the theological problem of evil). With this expanded notion of political theology in mind, 1 went on to challenge the conventional understanding of its constituent terms.

In my second chapter I argued that the “political” in political theology cannot be understood in terms of “Arcndt’s axiom," according to which there is (or at least should be) an absolute qualitative distinction between the political and the economic. And in the following chapter I made the case that the most salient theological theme for understanding neoliberalism is not divine sovereignty but creaturely free will—reflecting my view that the “theology” in political theology cannot be understood solely as a discourse about God. Finally, I characterized ncolibcralism’s strategy of self-legitimation as an apocalyptic one and interpreted the contemporary right-wing reaction as a heretical variation on neoliberalism rather than a comprehensive break with it, insofar as the right-wing reaction still embraces the neoliberal conception of the sources of legitimacy.

Now, as I turn to the question of what might make for a genuine alternative to neoliberalism, my first step will be to consolidate my general theory of political theology by way of a definition: Political theology is a holistic, genealogical inquiry into the structures and sources of legitimacy in a particular historical moment. Political theology in this sense is political because it investigates institutions and practices of governance (whether they arc defined as state-based or economic, public or private), and it is theological because it deals with questions of meaning and value (regardless of the form the answers take). And it is both simultaneously because the structures of governance are always necessarily caught up with questions of meaning and value and because the answers we offer to questions of meaning and value always have direct implications for how the world should be governed—in other words, the structures and sources of legitimacy tend to correlate conceptually.

It is holistic in the sense that it tends toward a total account of the structures of legitimacy, both institutional and discursive, in a given time and place, and it is genealogical in that it sees those structures not as static givens or abstract doctrines, but as a result of strategy and struggle. That it is both at once means that its holism does not lead to something like a “systematic political theology” but instead serves as a heuristic device for uncovering sites of breakdown and contradiction within any given political theological paradigm. And it is assured of finding such sites because every political theological paradigm represents a contingent strategic outcome within a particular historical moment—never a universal or final answer, because both the problem of legitimacy and the problem of evil are ultimately insoluble.

That political theology seeks after sites of breakdown and contradiction does not mean that it is always on the lookout for superficial hypocrisy, such as a difference between ideological proclamations and concrete practice. Take, for example, the frequent observation among critics of neoliberalism that neoliberals say they want to let the free market work, but actually they rely on the state—an accusation that appears to be well-nigh irresistible, even for critics who are well aware of the central role of the state in constructing the neolibcral order. This attack is highly suspect from a political theological perspective because it takes for granted the neoliberal distinction between state and market.

Against such an acceptance of the neoliberal terms of debate, I have argued from the beginning that one of the distinctive traits of political theology is its refusal of seemingly commonsense binaries. This commitment is announced in its very name, which breaks down secular modernity’s division between the political and the religious, and I argued in the second chapter that it should be just as critical of the dyad of the political and the economic. One benefit of this broad vision of political theology is that it would allow for a broader view of the core texts of the discipline. Indeed, one of the most curious aspects of political theology as presendy understood is that Weber's Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is not considered a foundational document alongside Schmitts and Kantorowicz’s work.1 What ultimately motivates this breaking down of the political-economic binary, however, is not simply a desire to expand the purview of political theology, but rather a recognition that political theological paradigms legitimate themselves precisely by means of the core conceptual distinctions they set up.

In the case of neoliberalism, the distinction between state and market— which has functioned in different ways at different moments in the history of modem capitalism—is articulated in such a way as to reinforce neoliberal hegemony by forestalling the emergence of power centers guided by non-neoliberal priorities. Libertarian clichés play into this process by simultaneously naturalizing the market and painting the state as an incompetent blunderer at best and a proto-totalitarian oppressor at worst. Within this framework, any autonomous action on the part of the state, uninformed by the economic imperatives formulated by neoliberal technocrats, is illegitimate. And the irresistible hypocrisy attack ironically echoes this logic, insofar as it presents state action as something shameful that must be hidden.

Political theology cannot accept any static, normative distinction between the political and the economic because it recognizes that every political theological paradigm represents a transformation and redistribution of authoritative categories.T his means that political theology is always necessarily

... ... ...

...were living realities, and though their movements have also attracted more radical elements, both Sanders and Corbyn arc essentially promising a return to some version of the Fordist welfare state.

Such an outcome would be far preferable, in my view, to cither the normative neoliberal status quo ante or the right-wing reactions cruel parody of punitive neoliberalism. And I would postulate that such an outcome is possible in principle: the material resources necessary to achieve it clearly exist, and although the political obstacles are considerable, it would be shortsighted to assume that political conditions cannot change, especially at a time when we are witnessing so many unexpected events. That being said, however, here as in the previous chapter, I do not aspire to prognostication or punditry. My task is to assess the prospects for a return to Fordism on the level of political theology. What are its prospects for effecting the profound conceptual and moral changes needed to create a genuine new paradigm to replace neoliberalism? More than that, can we reasonably expect a renewed Fordism to represent a robust and durable alternative to neoliberalism? On both fronts there are grounds for ambivalence, if not pessimism. First and foremost, the original Fordist settlement arose under vastly different circumstances. All the major Western countries had mobilized for total war, and most had witnessed untold destruction. In the latter countries it made sense for the state to take the lead in repairing the damage, while in the United States, which had escaped virtually unscathed, the shift from the Second World War to the Cold War meant that the state maintained a heavy' hand in economic development for military reasons. These circumstances contributed to the legitimacy of the Fordist paradigm, as private industry and the general public not onhf accepted but expected state support and leadership on economic matters.

Both material conditions and the political consensus are radically different today. For a generation and more, state institutions have essentially “outsourced” industrial policy to the financial sector and the neoliberal technocrats who serve their priorities. A more assertive, autonomous role for the state in directing investment and development has become unthinkable. Even in the emergency circumstances of the Global Financial Crisis, direct state ownership or management of financial firms—where state and capital have been most tightly intertwined throughout the neoliberal era—was never seriously considered as an option. The bailouts of the US auto industry featured a larger role for the state in brokering the deal, but here again, the goal was to get things “back to normal,” not to assert a greater independent role for the state in guiding industry, much less owning and operating firms.

Similarly, the experience of wartime rationing and mass conscription in the United States made it much easier to justify an aggressive tax policy and great generosity to the working and middle classes—after all, they had sacrificed a great deal. Meanwhile, greater controls over capital movement and a broad consensus in favor of higher taxes among developed nations made it harder for the wealthy to flee taxation.

Neoliberalism has broken down the kind of social solidarity enjoyed in the immediate postwar era, and now countries compete to lower their tax rates to attract wealthy investors. Recognition of this latter challenge has led many proponents of a return to Fordism to find unexpected common ground with the right-wing reaction in proposing trade restrictions, with Sanders going so far as to say that he would happily work with Trump on that issue.3

Yet the act of restricting foreign imports will not in itself cause domestic replacements to arise and could hurt existing domestic producers who rely on global supply chains. Free trade promised that cheap consumer goods would make up for American losses in wages and job security', and trade restrictions could take away the former without restoring the latter. The idea of seizing control of the nation’s economic destiny holds real popular appeal across the political spectrum, but it risks being an empty gesture with adverse economic consequences, undermining the legitimacy of a Fordist-style program going forward.

Even leaving aside the issue of trade, under a neo-Keynesian regime government spending would still be pumped into an economic system wired for neoliberalism. Obama’s stimulus measure was a case in point. Though the stimulus arguably saved the United States from the deeper recession experienced in Europe, it did so at the price of expanding inequality even further relative to pre crisis levels. This is because, while it was Keynesian to the extent that it started from the assumption that state spending could boost economic growth, it was operating within a neoliberal economic system—meaning that the very wealthy were in fine to receive die lion’s share of the benefits of that growth, it was operating within a neoliberal economic system—meaning that the very wealthy were in line to receive the lions share of the benefits of that growth. One could anticipate perverse outcomes of other Fordist-style policies proposed by Sanders. Universal health care, for instance, could reduce resistance to the so-called gig economy by ameliorating one of the most serious consequences of unstable employment, namely uncertainty of access to health insurance. Free college tuition could also accelerate the process whereby a college degree, far from being a guaranteed path to class mobility, is increasingly a baseline expectation for any entry-level job. I would still support both policies, but they would not represent the kind of paradigm shift that the anti-neoliberal left is calling for.

I bring up these obstacles not to join the chorus of neoliberals proclaiming any return to Fordism impossible but to suggest the inadequacy of the framework within which such changes arc typically advocated.

That framework is a broadly Polanyian one in which the state (as representative of society) needs to push back against the excesses of the economy. On a superficial level it could appear to be the most radical possible reversal of neoliberalism's privileging of the economy over the state. Yet it strangely respects the division of labor established by neoliberal ideology, in which the economy maintains its autonomy and the state takes post hoc, indirect actions such as getting foreign competition out of the way, taxing away excessive incomes, or providing funding to give people access to the necessities of life. Again, such an agenda would doubtless be beneficial in many ways, but it would fail to match the ambition of neoliberal practice, which did not simply remove state interference from the economy, but transformed the state in order to enable it to support and cultivate new market forms.

Hence, though there are doubtless many beneficial reforms that could arise from such a framework, simply reversing neoliberalism's privileging of economy over state docs not represent a paradigmatic shift. In fact, it risks simply deploying the neoliberal state over against a neoliberal economy, both of which were designed from the ground up to undo Fordism and render a return to it impossible. One cannot expect to rebuild Fordism using the instruments of its demolition—and among those instruments is the very division of labor between state and economy that shapes our contemporary common sense.

In terms of the question of durability, any attempt to reestablish something like the Fordist model would have to come to terms with that model’s demise. In the previous chapter I remarked that neoliberalism appears to be in the process of failing to reproduce itself for the next generation. Essentially the same thing happened with Fordism. In fact, if we define Fordism as beginning at the end of the Second World War, then it proved even less durable, lasting approximately thirty years as compared to neoliberalism’s forty or so (and counting). Doubtless, a major factor in its decline was the onset of an economic crisis caused by factors both exogenous (the oil crisis) and endogenous (the need to absorb the baby-boomer generation into the workforce), but neoliberalism has endured multiple crises of comparable magnitude. And though the shift to neoliberalism may appear all but inevitable in retrospect, there were also very plausible proposals to save the Fordist system by expanding the welfare apparatus rather than dismantling it.

There was, again, no historical necessity dictating that Fordism be replaced by neoliberalism. Yet just as the emergence of the right-wing reaction, while equally contingent, nonetheless gives us insight into the weaknesses and internal contradictions of neoliberalism, so too docs the emergence of neoliberalism shed light on the vulnerabilities of Fordism. Peter Frase has recently articulated one major weakness of the Fordist system in terms of a Marxist critique of Polanyi.4

From Polanyi’s perspective, “Socialism is, essentially, the tendency inherent in an industrial civilization to transcend the self-regulating market by consciously subordinating it to a democratic society. It is the solution natural to industrial workers who see no reason why production should not be regulated directly and why markets should be more than a useful but subordinate trait in a free society.”5 In other words, in the long run the conflict between state (as representative of society) and market will settle into a steady equilibrium where social needs take the lead over market imperatives.

Coming from a Marxist perspective, Frase asks, “Is that a stable equilibrium, acceptable to both capitalists and workers? Or is it an inherently unstable situation, one which must break toward either the expropriation of the capitalist class, or the restoration of ruling-class power?” The answer, he believes, is the latter. Though there is a convincing case to be made that “putting unemployed workers back to work would be good for capitalists too, in the sense that it would lead to faster growth and more profits,” such purely economic arguments miss the point that the relationship between boss and worker is not solely economic but political—it is not just about making money, but about power and control.

Here Frase is drawing on the predictions of Michal Kalecki—who published his classic essay “Political Aspects of Full Employment” in 1943,*’ the tear before The Great Transformation and The Road to Serfdom appeared—that any reform movement to strengthen the hand of workers within the capitalist system will eventually create a dynamic that, in Prase’s words, “calls into question not just profits, but the underlying property relations of capitalism itself.” That prediction came true throughout the Western world in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which witnessed a proliferation of strike actions and the emergence of demands to vastly expand the welfare state. Perhaps most radical, from a Marxist perspective, was the proposal to institute a universal basic income, which would break with the basic premise of the capitalist system by decoupling income from labor for the entire population rather than for the capitalist class alone. Once this critical moment, which Frase calls the “Kalecki point,” is reached, “employers become willing to take drastic action to get workers back into line, even at the expense of short-term profitability,” including “a ‘capital strike’ in which money is moved overseas or simply left in the bank, as a way of breaking the power of the working class.”

To put this argument in the political theological terms of the previous chapter, the Fordist welfare state could be conceived as a restrainer or katechon, holding back the depredations of the market—an analogy that is all the more fitting in that Polanyi so frequently figures the market in demonic terms. The irony, though, is that the very means by which Fordist policy makers believed they were permanently containing the dangers of unrestrained capitalism actually guaranteed that a decisive crisis would emerge, a crisis that the Polanyi an framework rendered all but unthinkable.

And here we come to another irony of the emergence of neoliberalism. In the United States, at least, Fordism was dismantled with the enthusiastic complicity of the very population that most benefited from it: white working and middle-class homeowners, the so-called Reagan Democrats.

As we saw in the previous chapter, Cooper has shown how emergent neoliberalism was able to mobilize anxieties and resentments relating to gender relations, sexual practice, and racial hierarchy in order to recruit such privileged populations into the neoliberal tax revolt. The very “household” norms that had once served to shore up the legitimacy of the welfare state were now turned against it, as the populations who had historically been excluded from its protections were perversely identified as its sole beneficiaries. Here

... ... ...

A break with the invisible hand would represent a return to the aspirations of the modern world that are most promising, aspirations that were perhaps best recognized, ironically enough, by a Christian theologian. Writing in 1944 from his jail cell in Tegel—where he was imprisoned for his role in a failed assassination attempt against Hitler and where he would be summarily executed by the Nazis just prior to the Allied victory—Dietrich Bonhoeffer embarked on a series of increasingly radical reflections on the place of Christianity in the modern world.8 These fragments have proven durably influential and controversial in postwar theological debates, due in part to Bonhoeflfer's fate as a kind of modern martyr, but in this context, what is most relevant is his interpretation of modernity. In his letter of June 8, 1944, to his friend and acolyte Ebcrhard Bcthgc, Bonhocflfer writes:

Tie movement that began about the thirteenth century (I'm not going to get involved in any aigument about the exact date) towards the autonomy of man (in which I should include the discovery of the laws by which the world lives and deals with itself in science, social and political matters, art, ethics, and religion) has in our time reached an undoubted completion. Man has learned to deal with himself in all questions of importance without recourse to the “working hypothesis” called “God." (325)
Christian polemics against this development have proven fruitless, because they refuse to recognize how much things have changed:
The world that has become conscious of itself and the laws that govern its own existence has grown self-confident in what seems to us to be an uncanny way. False developments and failures do not make the world doubt the necessity of the course that it is taking, or of its development; they are accepted with fortitude and detachment as part of the bargain, and even an event like the present war is no exception. (326)

That such a seemingly optimistic reflection on the modem world should be written in a Nazi prison may seem ironic, but as a Christian theologian (indeed, from many perspectives a very conservative one), Bonhoefler is well aware that human autonomy does not necessarily produce positive results. His main goal, however, is not to castigate the modern world for its sins— not even tor the sins that drove him to break with his pacifist principles in a desperate attempt to stop them—but to encourage Christians to embrace the new reality of a “world come of age” rather than fighting a losing battle to return to a world that could not live without God.

Against Christians who react with horror to Nietzsches proclamation of the “death of God," then, Bonhoeffer is asking Christians to find a way to live in a world where God really is dead. And had he lived to see it, he would surely view it as deeply ironic that the modern world would construct its own replacement god. For that is ultimately what happened, as neoliberal technocrats set about the hard work of constructing and maintaining the market mechanism, essentially resurrecting an artificial invisible hand that they passed off as an unquestionable, quasi-divine authority.

If Bonhoeffer was right to detect in modern history “one great development that leads to the world s autonomy” (359), then the victory-by-default of neoliberalism in the early 1990s really did represent the end of history. It was the end of any notion that human beings should or could create their own destiny, the end of any notion of collective deliberation and decision making on ultimate questions. Liberal democracy under neoliberalism represents a forced choice between two fundamentally similar options, betraying its promise to provide a mechanism for rational and self-reflective human agency. The market similarly mobilizes free choice only to subdue and subvert it, “responsibilizing” every individual for the outcomes of the system while radically foreclosing any form of collective responsibility for the shape of society. And any attempt to exercise human judgment and free choice over social institutions and outcomes is rejected as a step down the slippery' slope to totalitarianism. To choose in any strong sense is always necessarily to choose wrongly, to fall into sin.

Yet this end of history, this evacuation of freedom, was in the last analysis collectively chosen, if only passively. This means that—contrary to Wendy Browns vision of a world in which democratic aspirations would be extinguished for good—the option of rejecting the hollow neoliberal vision of human freedom has always been on the table. Our present political moment is the beginning of a struggle to withdraw consent from the neoliberal order by developing a new and more meaningful conception of freedom. This initial gesture of refusal is an absolutely necessary first step, clearing the space to imagine something new. More work is needed, however, because at this early stage, the alternative conceptions of freedom can be characterized more by what they reject than by what they promote. Both demand freedom from neoliberalism (construed in different ways), but neither is quite clear on what they want freedom for.

For the right, freedom means freedom from foreign interference, which ultimately means freedom from the global economic forces that infringe on national sovereignty. Such a conception of freedom clearly holds popular appeal. Yet it is hobbled, not only by its addiction to nostalgia and magical thinking, but even more so by its lack of any positive goal. When these movements do seize power and assert their precious freedom, it is revealed to be an empty gesture of defiance with no program of its own. What is the point of Brexit, for instance, or of Obamacare repeal? There is ultimately no answer aside from the tautology that they must do it because they said they would do it. They have done and will continue to do profound damage, but the right-wing alternative as currently construed is a dead end that does not open out onto any real positive project.

Much more promising are the proposals on the left, where freedom means freedom from exploitation and precarity—which is to say, from the anxiety that has become pandemic in the neoliberal age.

At its most ambitious, contemporary social democracy pictures a world in which a universal basic income will free us from the compulsion to sell our labor power on the market.

Such a world would be very different from the one we live in now, and in my opinion much more desirable. Yet without a positive conception of collective freedom to match its negative conception of individual freedom, it would remain as vulnerable to overthrow as the Fordist paradigm.'Ihis is because neoliberalism, unlike its emerging rivals, actually does have some minimal positive conception of freedom: the freedom to participate in the market. As hollow as it may seem, in a capitalist society market freedom is undeniably a very' important freedom, because the market is where all our material needs arc met. No matter how many institutions we develop to redirect or correct market forces, no matter how big a cut society rakes from market profits, a society that relies on the workings of the invisible hand to supply the most nonnegotiable social goods is still fundamentally a market society'. And that means that, even if the state or some other institutional form can supply a positive alternative, market freedom will remain the tacit foundation of the social order by default, a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode into another neoliberal “end of history.”

This means that any political theological paradigm that desires a real break with neoliberalism must be willing to break with the foundational role of the market. It must be willing to take responsibility for consciously and collectively directing the production and distribution of economic goods. Such a society may have room for a free market in discretionary consumer goods, but it would not allow what it considers to be its nonnegotiable needs and desires to be held hostage to profit-seeking individuals and firms. If some form of production must happen, if some need must be met, if some important cultural touchstone should be preserved, then such a society would mobilize the resources necessary' to make it happen. Market mechanisms may be useful in some contexts,4 but they must be designed to serve social ends directly rather than creating a profit incentive and hoping the social end is served along the way. None of this is to say that total conscious control of the production process is possible or desirable, but the limits to that control must be discovered through experimentation rather than read off of economic models that were designed to naturalize the capitalist system. From that perspective, it does not matter whether the forms of collective action that direct production arc conceived as belonging to the “state” or the “economy”—in fact, the practice of collective deliberation about production would represent the most durable possible break with that foundational binary of the modem world.

Neoliberal ideology has conditioned us all to be suspicious of any prospect for deliberate, conscious social change. It is easy to imagine the objections: “Who decides what must be produced? Who decides who gets what?" When people ask questions like that, they normally do not anticipate any possible answer. “Who decides?” is a rhetorical question, meant to end a discussion, not open one up—as though the idea of collective deliberation and action, in and of itself, is an unthinkable horror.

It is worth reflecting on this reflex reaction, which is a result of ideological formation but cannot be reduced to that. I have claimed that the political theological root of neoliberalism is freedom and have characterized its vision of freedom as hollow. Yet paradoxically', part of the appeal of neoliberalism is precisely the limitation it places on freedom. While from a certain point of view it illegitimately “rcsponsibilizcs” us for outcomes that arc beyond our control, from another perspective it relieves us of collective responsibility— with all the political conflict and struggle that meaningful collective action brings with it. Even beyond the promise of superior economic outcomes, the invisible hand allows us to imagine that we can outsource our collective responsibility' to a machinelike entity' that will deliver outcomes that are no one’s fault because they arc everyone’s fault. On the political theological level, it is a conflict-avoidance mechanism as much as and perhaps even more than an economic mechanism, but like every katechon, it has inevitably generated the very forces of conflict it hoped to stave off indefinitely.

Dismantling the invisible hand is a crucial step toward creating a new political-theological paradigm, but it is not sufficient in itself. We will need to work simultaneously to radically reconcieve the economy in the most ancient sense of die household: the order of race, gender, and sexual practice. We must not assume that a reimagining of the economy will automatically achieve this, as some simplistic forms of Marxism claim. As Polanyi documents, the Fascist social order was in many respects a transformation of the market society, but the structures of race, gender, and sexual practice, far from falling away of their own accord, became unimaginably more virulent and destructive.

Closer to home, we have also seen how the conservative sexual and racial mores of Fordism ultimately allowed most of its social-democratic gains to be undone, paving the way for a neoliberal state devoted to reinforcing racial hierarchy by consigning racialized populations to the hell of the carceral system. The division between economic and social problems is a dangerous illusion—both must be tackled together, without indulging the illusion that there is any' preexisting standard for how either should be arranged.

Clearly, the task of building a new political-theological paradigm to replace neoliberalism is a massive one, for which there are no ready-made formulas. I promised that this conclusion would provide us with ways to recognize a genuinely new political theological paradigm when it comes, but the only infallible sign I can offer is that wc will know that it is a new paradigm when we find ourselves building it.

We will know that something genuinely new is in the offing when we recognize ourselves—in the broadest possible sense, with the full participation and leadership from the groups that neoliberalism subordinates and scapegoats...


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Old News ;-)

[Oct 28, 2019] The Market as God

Oct 28, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

"As everything in what used to be called creation becomes a commodity, human beings begin to look at one another, and at themselves, in a funny way, and they see price tags. There was a time when people spoke, at least occasionally, of 'inherent worth' -- if not of things, then at least of persons.

It is sometimes said that since everything is for sale under the rule of The Market, nothing is sacred. The Market is not omnipotent -- yet. But the process is under way and it is gaining momentum."

Harvey Cox, The Market as God

[Oct 05, 2019] True believers in the Globalist faith as a matter of dogma believe, "Anyone who does not meekly submit to unelected elites must be mentally ill."

Oct 05, 2019 | www.unz.com

A123 , says: October 4, 2019 at 4:20 pm GMT

Which is precisely why Trumpenstein must be destroyed, and why Brexit must not be allowed to happen or, if it does, why the people of the United Kingdom must be mercilessly punished. It is also why the Gilets Jaunes are being brutally repressed by the French police, and disappeared by the corporate media

The author nailed it

True believers in the Globalist faith as a matter of dogma believe, "Anyone who does not meekly submit to unelected elites must be mentally ill." That people wish to have freedom is beyond their ability to comprehend.

Thus the 1st Mosque of the Globalist Faith leads only to failure. Free Christian citizens will not go to Globalist Mosques to revere graven images of the Most Holy Soros. In fact, Christianity has sanctions for such idolatry.

Now that the fake stream, corporate media no longer controls the narrative -- The far left cannot win the next election. Will the beast of the underworld, The IslamoSoros, try to steal the election? Probably. But, such spawn of Satan can be defeated by men of goodwill.

PEACE

[Sep 15, 2019] Neoliberal version of oligarchy of priests and monks whose task it was to propitiate heaven

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The new feudalism, like the original, is not based simply around the force of arms, or in this case what Marx called "the cash nexus." ..."
"... Similar attitudes can be seen in virtually all other culturally dominant institutions, starting with Hollywood. Over 99 percent of all major entertainment executives' donations went to [neoliberal] Democrats in 2018 ..."
"... The great bastion of both the financial Oligarchy and high reaches of the Clerisy lies in the great cities, notably New York, London, Paris, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. These are all among the most expensive places to live in the world and play a dominant role in the global media. ..."
"... In his assessment in "Democracy in America ," Alexis de Tocqueville suggests a new form of tyranny -- in many ways more insidious than that of the monarchical state -- that grants favors and entertainments to its citizens but expects little in obligation. Rather than expect people to become adults, he warns, a democratic state can be used to keep its members in "perpetual childhood" and "would degrade men rather than tormenting them." ..."
Sep 15, 2019 | dailycaller.com

The role of the Clerisy

The new feudalism, like the original, is not based simply around the force of arms, or in this case what Marx called "the cash nexus." Like the church in Medieval times, the Clerisy sees itself as anointed to direct human society, a modern version of what historian Marc Bloch called the "oligarchy of priests and monks whose task it was to propitiate heaven."

This modern-day version of the old First Estate sets down the [neoliberal] ideological tone in the schools, the mass media, culture and the arts. There's also a Clerisy of sorts on the right, and what's left of the center, but this remains largely, except for Fox, an insignificant remnant.

Like their predecessors, today's Clerisy embraces a [neoliberal] orthodoxy, albeit secular, on a host of issues from race and gender to the environment. Universities have become increasingly dogmatic in their worldview. One study of 51 top colleges found the proportion of [neo]liberals to conservatives as much as 70:1, and usually at least 8:1.

At elite [neo]liberal arts schools like Wellesley, Swarthmore and Williams, the proportion reaches 120:1.

Similar attitudes can be seen in virtually all other culturally dominant institutions, starting with Hollywood. Over 99 percent of all major entertainment executives' donations went to [neoliberal] Democrats in 2018, even though roughly half the population would prefer they keep their politics more to themselves. (RELATED: Here Are Reactions From Democrats, [neo]liberal Celebrities To The Mueller Testimony)

The increasing concentration of media in ever fewer centers -- London, New York, Washington, San Francisco -- and the decline of the local press has accentuated the elite Clerisy's domination. With most reporters well on the left, journalism, as a 2019 Rand report reveals, is steadily moving from a fact-based model to one that is dominated by predictable [neoliberal] opinion. This, Rand suggests has led to what they called "truth decay."

The new geography of feudalism

The new feudalism increasingly defines geography not only in America but across much of the world. The great bastion of both the financial Oligarchy and high reaches of the Clerisy lies in the great cities, notably New York, London, Paris, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. These are all among the most expensive places to live in the world and play a dominant role in the global media.

Yet these cities are not the progressive, egalitarian places evoked by great urbanists like the late Jane Jacobs, but more closely resemble the "gated" cities of the Middle Ages, and their equivalents in places as diverse as China and Japan. American cities now have higher levels of inequality, notes one recent study , than Mexico. In fact, the largest gaps ( between the bottom and top quintiles of median incomes are in the heartland of progressive opinion, such as in the metropolitan areas of San Francisco, New York, San Jose, and Los Angeles. (RELATED: Got Income Inequality? Least Affordable Cities Are Also the Bluest)

... ... ...

... In his assessment in "Democracy in America ," Alexis de Tocqueville suggests a new form of tyranny -- in many ways more insidious than that of the monarchical state -- that grants favors and entertainments to its citizens but expects little in obligation. Rather than expect people to become adults, he warns, a democratic state can be used to keep its members in "perpetual childhood" and "would degrade men rather than tormenting them."

With the erosion of the middle class, and with it dreams of upward mobility, we already see more extreme, less liberally minded class politics. A nation of clerics, billionaires and serfs is not conducive to the democratic experiment; only by mobilizing the Third Estate can we hope that our republican institutions will survive intact even in the near future.

Mr. Kotkin is the Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and the executive director of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His next book, "The Coming Of Neo-Feudalism," will be out this spring.

[Sep 15, 2019] Americar real Conflict in Trump era is between the two factions of neoliberal elites: financial oligarchy (and associated with them Silicon Valley Moduls) and old manufacturing elite

This is the conflict between financial elite and Silicon Valley modules against traditional manufactures and extractive industries like oil, gas, coil, iron ore, etc.
Notable quotes:
"... The First Estate, once the province of the Catholic Church, has morphed into what Samuel Coleridge in the 1830s called "the Clerisy," a group that extends beyond organized religion to the universities, media, cultural tastemakers and upper echelons of the bureaucracy. The role of the Second Estate is now being played by a rising Oligarchy, notably in tech but also Wall Street, that is consolidating control of most of the economy. ..."
Sep 15, 2019 | dailycaller.com

A recent OECD report , is under assault, and shrinking in most places while prospects for upward mobility for the working class also declines.T

he anger of the Third Estate, both the growing property-less Serf class as well as the beleaguered Yeomanry, has produced the growth of populist, parties both right and left in Europe, and the election of Donald Trump in 2016. In the U.S., this includes not simply the gradual, and sometimes jarring, transformation of the GOP into a vehicle for populist rage, but also the rise on the Democratic side of politicians such as Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, each of whom have made class politics their signature issue.

(RELATED: Bernie Sanders Says Middle Class Will Pay More In Taxes)

The Rise of Neo-Feudalism

Today's neo-feudalism recalls the social order that existed before the democratic revolutions of the 17th and 18th Century, with our two ascendant estates filling the roles of the former dominant classes.

The First Estate, once the province of the Catholic Church, has morphed into what Samuel Coleridge in the 1830s called "the Clerisy," a group that extends beyond organized religion to the universities, media, cultural tastemakers and upper echelons of the bureaucracy. The role of the Second Estate is now being played by a rising Oligarchy, notably in tech but also Wall Street, that is consolidating control of most of the economy.

Together these two classes have waxed while the Third Estate has declined. This essentially reversed the enormous gains made by the middle and even the working class over the past 50 years. The top 1% in America captured just 4.9 percent of total U.S. income growth in 1945-1973, but since then the country's richest classes has gobbled up an astonishing 58.7% of all new wealth in the U.S., and 41.8 percent of total income growth during 2009-2015 alone.

In this period, the Oligarchy has benefited from the financialization of the economy and the refusal of the political class in both parties to maintain competitive markets. As a result, American industry has become increasingly concentrated. For example, the five largest banks now account for close to 50 percent of all banking assets, up from barely 30 percent just 20 years ago. (RELATED: The Biggest Bank You've Never Heard Of)

Warren Buffett, Jeffrey Immelt, Charles Schwab and Jamie Dimon, at Georgetown University. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Warren Buffett, Jeffrey Immelt, Charles Schwab and Jamie Dimon, at Georgetown University. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

The concentration numbers in tech are even more frightening. Once a highly competitive industry, it is now among the most concentrated . Like the barbarian chieftains who seized land after the fall of Rome, a handful of companies -- Facebook , Google , Apple, Microsoft and Amazon -- have gained total control over a host of markets, from social media to search, the software operating systems, cloud computing and e-commerce. In many key markets such as search, these companies enjoy market shares reaching to eighty or ninety percent.

As they push into fields such as entertainment, space travel, finance and autonomous vehicles, they have become, as technology analyst Izabella Kaminska notes, the modern-day "free market" equivalents of the Soviet planners who operated Gosplan, allocating billions for their own subjective priorities. Libertarians might point out that these tech giants are still privately held firms but they actually represent , as one analyst put it, "a new form of monopoly power made possible by the 'network effect' of those platforms through which everyone must pass to conduct the business of life."

The role of the Clerisy

The new feudalism, like the original, is not based simply around the force of arms, or in this case what Marx called "the cash nexus." Like the church in Medieval times, the Clerisy sees itself as anointed to direct human society, a modern version of what historian Marc Bloch called the "oligarchy of priests and monks whose task it was to propitiate heaven." This modern-day version of the old First Estate sets down the ideological tone in the schools, the mass media, culture and the arts. There's also a Clerisy of sorts on the right, and what's left of the center, but this remains largely, except for Fox, an insignificant remnant.

Like their predecessors, today's Clerisy embraces an orthodoxy, albeit secular, on a host of issues from race and gender to the environment. Universities have become increasingly dogmatic in their worldview. One study of 51 top colleges found the proportion of liberals to conservatives as much as 70:1, and usually at least 8:1. At elite liberal arts schools like Wellesley, Swarthmore and Williams, the proportion reaches 120:1.

Similar attitudes can be seen in virtually all other culturally dominant institutions, starting with Hollywood. Over 99 percent of all major entertainment executives' donations went to Democrats in 2018, even though roughly half the population would prefer they keep their politics more to themselves. (RELATED: Here Are Reactions From Democrats, Liberal Celebrities To The Mueller Testimony)

The increasing concentration of media in ever fewer centers -- London, New York, Washington, San Francisco -- and the decline of the local press has accentuated the elite Clerisy's domination. With most reporters well on the left, journalism, as a 2019 Rand report reveals, is steadily moving from a fact-based model to one that is dominated by predictable opinion. This, Rand suggests has led to what they called "truth decay."

The new geography of feudalism

The new feudalism increasingly defines geography not only in America but across much of the world. The great bastion of both the Oligarchy and high reaches of the Clerisy lies in the great cities, notably New York, London, Paris, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. These are all among the most expensive places to live in the world and play a dominant role in the global media.

Yet these cities are not the progressive, egalitarian places evoked by great urbanists like the late Jane Jacobs, but more closely resemble the "gated" cities of the Middle Ages, and their equivalents in places as diverse as China and Japan. American cities now have higher levels of inequality, notes one recent study , than Mexico. In fact, the largest gaps ( between the bottom and top quintiles of median incomes are in the heartland of progressive opinion, such as in the metropolitan areas of San Francisco, New York, San Jose, and Los Angeles. (RELATED: Got Income Inequality? Least Affordable Cities Are Also the Bluest)

In some of the most favored blue cities, such as Seattle , Portland and San Francisco , not only is the middle class disappearing, but there has been something equivalent of "ethnic cleansing" amidst rising high levels of inequality, homelessness and social disorder. Long-standing minority communities like the Albina neighborhood in Portland are disappearing as 10,000 of the 38,000 residents have been pushed out of the historic African-American section. In San Francisco, the black population has dropped from 18% in the 1970s to single digits and what remains, notes Harry Alford , National Black Chamber of Commerce president, "are predominantly living under the poverty level and is being pushed out to extinction."

This exclusive and exclusionary urbanity contrasts with the historic role of cities. The initial rise of the Third Estate was tied intimately to the " freedom of the city . " But with the diminishing prospects for blue-collar industries, as well as high housing costs, many minorities and immigrants are increasingly migrating away from multi-culturally correct regions like Chicago , New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco for less regulated, generally less "woke" places like Phoenix, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, Atlanta and Las Vegas.

Yet even as the middle-class populations flee, poverty remains deeply entrenched in our big cities, with a rate roughly twice that of the suburbs. The much-celebrated urban renaissance has been largely enjoyed by the upper echelons but not the working classes. In the city of Philadelphia , for example, the "center city" income rose, but citywide between 2000 and 2014, for every district that, like downtown, gained in income, two suffered income declines. Similarly, research shows that the number of high poverty (greater than 30 percent below the poverty line) neighborhoods in the U.S. has tripled since 1970 from 1,100 to 3,100.

Undermining the Third Estate

The impact of the rising Clerisy and Oligarchs poses a direct threat to the future of the Third Estate. On the economic side, relentless consolidation and financialization has devastated Main Street. In the great boom of the 1980s, small firms and start-ups powered the economy, but more recently the rates of entrepreneurship have dropped as mega-mergers, chains and on-line giants slowly reduced the scope of opportunities. Perhaps most disturbing of all has been the decline in new formations among younger people.

This phenomenon is most evident in the tech world. Today is not a great time to start a tech company unless you are in the charmed circle of elite firms with access to venture and private equity funds. The old garage start-up culture of Silicon Valley is slowly dying, as large firms gobble up or crush competitors. Indeed, since the rise of the tech economy in the 1990s, the overall degree of industry concentration has grown by 75 percent.

Like the peasant farmer or artisan in the feudal era, the entrepreneur not embraced by the big venture firms lives largely at the sufferance of the tech overlords. As one online publisher notes on his firm's status with Google:

If you're a Star Trek fan, you'll understand the analogy. It's a bit like being assimilated by the Borg. You get cool new powers. But having been assimilated, if your implants were ever removed, you'd certainly die. That basically captures our relationship to Google.

The Clerisy's War on the Middle Class

For generations, the Clerisy has steadfastly opposed the growth of suburbia, driven in large part by the aesthetic concerns –the conviction that single-family homes are fundamentally anti-social– and, increasingly, by often dubious assertions on their environmental toxicity. In places like California, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, government policies discourage peripheral construction where home ownership rates tend to be higher, in favor of dense, largely rental housing.

This marks a dramatic turnaround. During the middle of the 20th Century, ownership rates in the United States leaped from 44 percent in 1940 to 63 percent in the late 1970s. Yet in the new generation this prospect is fading. In the United States, home ownership among post-college millennials (aged 25-34) has dropped from 45.4 percent in 2000 to 37.0 percent in 2016, a drop of 18 percent from the 1970s, according to Census Bureau data . In contrast, their parents and grandparents witnessed a dramatic rise of homeownership from 44 percent in 1940 to 63 percent 30 years later.

But the Clerisy's war on middle- and working-class aspiration goes well beyond housing. Climate change policies already enacted in California and Germany have driven millions into "energy poverty." If adopted, many of the latest proposals for such things as the Green New Deal all but guarantee the rapid reduction of millions of highly productive and often well-paying energy, aerospace, automobile and logistics jobs.

Political implications

The war of the Estates is likely to shape our political landscape for decades to come. Parts of the Third Estate –those working with their hands or operating small businesses– increasingly flock to the GOP, according to a recent CityLab report. Trump also has a case to make with these workers, as real wages for blue-collar workers are now rising for the first time in decades. Unemployment is near record lows not only for whites but also Latinos and African-Americans. Of course, if the economy weakens, he may lose some of this support. (RELATED: Trump Blasts Media For 'Barely' Covering 'Great' Economy, Low Unemployment)

But the emergence of neo-feudalism also lays the foundation for a larger, more potent and radicalized left. As opportunities for upward mobility shrink, a new generation, indoctrinated in leftist ideology sometimes from grade school and ever more predictably in undergraduate and graduate school, tilts heavily to the left, embracing what is essentially an updated socialist program of massive redistribution, central direction of the economy and racial redress.

Antifa members in Berkeley, California. AFP/Getty/Amy Osborne.

Antifa members in Berkeley, California. AFP/Getty/Amy Osborne.

In France's most recent presidential election, the former Trotskyite Jean-Luc Melenchon won the under-24 vote, beating the "youthful" Emmanuel Macron by almost two to one. Similarly in the United Kingdom, the birthplace of modern capitalism, the Labour Party , under the neo- Marxist Jeremy Corbyn , won over 60 percent of the vote among voters under 40, compared to just 23 percent for the Conservatives. Similar trends can be seen across Europe, where the Red and Green Party enjoys wide youth support.

The shift to hard-left politics also extends to the United States– historically not a fertile area for Marxist thinking. In the 2016 primaries , the openly socialist Bernie Sanders easily outpolled Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump combined. A 2016 poll by the Communism Memorial Foundation found that 44 percent of American millennials favored socialism while another 14 percent chose fascism or communism. By 2024, these millennials will be by far the country's biggest voting bloc .

In the current run-up to the Democratic nomination these young voters overwhelming tilt toward Sanders and his slightly less radical colleague Warren, while former Vice President Joe Biden retains the support of older Democrats. The common themes of the "new" Left, with such things as guaranteed annual incomes, rent control, housing subsidies, and free college might prove irresistible to a generation that has little hope of owning a home, could remain childless, and might never earn enough money to invest in much of anything. (RELATED: Bernie Sanders Says 'Health Care For All' Will Require Tax Increases)

At the end, the war of the estates raises the prospect of rising autocracy, even under formally democratic forms. In his assessment in "Democracy in America ," Alexis de Tocqueville suggests a new form of tyranny -- in many ways more insidious than that of the monarchical state -- that grants favors and entertainments to its citizens but expects little in obligation. Rather than expect people to become adults, he warns, a democratic state can be used to keep its members in "perpetual childhood" and "would degrade men rather than tormenting them."

With the erosion of the middle class, and with it dreams of upward mobility, we already see more extreme, less liberally minded class politics. A nation of clerics, billionaires and serfs is not conducive to the democratic experiment; only by mobilizing the Third Estate can we hope that our republican institutions will survive intact even in the near future.

Mr. Kotkin is the Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and the executive director of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His next book, "The Coming Of Neo-Feudalism," will be out this spring.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.

[Sep 07, 2019] Many elements of neo-theocratic state in the USA can be explained by the dominance of neoliberalism since 1970th by Andre Vltchek

The analogy with the USSR really holds to an amazing degree. That level of censorship (aka political correctness") are somewhat similar. Butt he main tool in the USSR was repression (often physical repression), and in the neoliberal USA it is ostracism and exclusion. The USA is clearly became more neo-theocratic society after crisis of 2008, which destroyed the ideology of neoliberalism ( much like WWI destroyed ideology of Bolshvism ) where symbols of faith (especially related to neoliberalism and "political correctness") can't be challenged. but like in the USSR iff the person does not go into politics the government leave it alone and the society is free much freer that it was in the USSR (as well as much richer; both in Russia and the USSR the majority of population were poor often church rat poor )
People on UNZ often practice anti-neoliberalism under mask of anti-Semitism ;-). This reminds me the atmosphere of Weimar Germany where Jews were made guilty of crimes by financial oligarchy (in which, true, Jews were overrepresented; the same is true about the current US financial oligarchy). But the problem is finanfial oligarchy, not Jews as a nation. Blaming Jews for the ills committed by Financial oligarchy is a classic anti-Semitism.
Another interesting question raised by commenters is "the cost of civilization". It is true that the current civilization was created mostly by Europeans and first on all ancient Greece and Rome. But please note that their achievements were based on many fundamental achievements made by China (silk, china, black power, to name a few), India (chess) and Arabic world (Arabic numbers, Damask steel, astronomy achievements, etc.)
Notable quotes:
"... What the West used to accuse the Soviet Union of, is now actually clearly detectable in the United States and the United Kingdom themselves: surveillance is at every step, these days; in New York, London, Sydney, and even in the countryside. Every move a person makes, every purchase, every computer click, is registered; somewhere, somehow. And this monitoring is, mostly, not even illegal. ..."
"... Speech is controlled by political correctness. Someone behind the scenes decides what is acceptable and what is not, what is desirable or not, and even what is permissible. You make one 'mistake' and you are out; from the teaching positions at the universities, or from the media outlets. ..."
"... In such conditions, humor cannot thrive, and satire dies. It is not unlike religious fundamentalism: you get destroyed if you 'offend'. In such circumstances, writers cannot write ground-breaking novels, because true novels offend by definition, and always push the boundaries. As a result, almost nobody reads novels, anymore. ..."
"... Only toothless, 'controlled humor' is permitted. No punches can be administered intuitively. Everything has to be calculated in advance. No 'outrageous' political fiction can pass the 'invisible censorship' in the West (and so, novels as a form have almost died). ..."
"... God forbid, you dare to criticize the pro-Western elites who are ruining their countries on behalf of London and Washington, in the Gulf, Southeast Asia or Africa – that would be 'patronizing' and 'racist'. A great arrangement for the Empire and its servants, isn't it? ..."
"... you would be made to sense it: 'you are being protected from those horrible Third World monsters, madmen, perverts.' And of course, from Putin, from the Chinese Communists, from the butcher Maduro, from Assad, or from the Iranian Shi'a fanatics. The regime is fighting for you, it cares for you, it is protecting you. ..."
"... But at least, you know that your 'wise leaders' in the White House, Congress, Pentagon and security agencies, are working day and night, protecting you from countless conspiracies, from vicious attacks from abroad, and from those evil Chinese and Russians, who are busy building progressive and egalitarian societies. Lucky you! ..."
"... But suddenly. What happened, suddenly? Because something really happened. The Empire got tired of plundering the non-Western parts of the world, exclusively. Well-conditioned, brainwashed and scared, the Western public began to get treated with the same spite, as people in the plundered and miserable parts of the world. Well, not yet, not exactly. There are still some essential differences, but the trend is definitely there. The Western public cannot do too much to protect itself, really. The regime knows everything about everybody: it spies on every citizen: where he or she walks, what he or she eats, drives, flies, watches, consumes, reads. There are no secrets, anymore. ..."
"... Arriving from China, from Russia or Cuba, the first thing that strikes me is how disciplined, obedient and scared, the Europeans and North Americans really are. They subconsciously know that they are being controlled and cannot do anything about it. ..."
"... When trains get delayed or cancelled, they sheepishly murmur half-audible curses. Their medical benefits get reduced; they accept, or quietly commit suicide. Their public infrastructure crumbles; they say nothing, remembering the 'good old days'. ..."
"... The West has fought the so-called "third world" for many, long decades; oppressing it, tormenting it, looting it, violating its people. It prevented them from choosing their own governments. Now it has gone overboard: it is attempting to control and to oppress the entire world, including its own citizens. ..."
"... The US kleptocracy is being dismantled, not by the subject population but by the outside world. The kleptocracy responds by controlling what it can – its proles. The only way Americans can contribute to the end of their regime is with solidarity. Ignore your fake democracy and go over the government's head to the outside world. ..."
"... The Third Worlders obviously haven't heard the news as they're still crowding to get into the West. ..."
"... His hypocrisy in making civilization's main contributors oppressors and those who've contributed least but benefitted anyway look "oppressed" indicates this, no? ..."
"... I agree with much of the article. However, considering Johannesburg a place that is improving is a clear mistake. Maybe his ideology is confusing his thinking? In any case, White South Africa was a much better place than the current version. As is usual, almost all the murders there are black-on-black ..."
"... Vltchek's bias is that he thinks in nations, instead of corporations. ..."
"... . Vltchek does not see this, even though John Perkins 'Economic hitmen' are known even in the mainstream https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37Dvt2EqXF4 ..."
"... From what I can tell, the only time the living standard was possibly better in the UK than it is today was a brief period in the earlier 21st century before the financial crisis in 2008 and following recession, and a lot of the ridiculous political 'correctness' is about contrived, and what seems to me, unnecessary nonsense like fake 'feminism' and disingenuous 'outrage' ..."
"... And Russia and China also used to be empires, which is why they have such a large amount of territory, but writers like this would have us not think about that ..."
"... Good point the " securistan " of airports , it is very humiliating for the customers , and I think that it doesn't contributes anything to security , it is just to exert control on normal people , to degrade normal people . ..."
"... there has been a lot of overthrowing of leaders and covert action taken by the C.I.A and American governments in the 20th century and 21st century in south and central America, which they either lied to, or didn't inform the public about, and then seem to think they can later turn around and project blame on to the ordinary public for actions taken by the C.I.A or previous governments that they deliberately lied to the public about ..."
"... Speech is controlled by political correctness. Someone behind the scenes decides what is acceptable and what is not, what is desirable or not, and even what is permissible. You make one 'mistake' and you are out; from the teaching positions at the universities, or from the media outlets. ..."
"... And what is permissible is becoming truly weird. These are comments on an article over at http://www.thecollegefix.com "Poll: 73 percent of Republican students have withheld political views in class for fear their grades would suffer". ..."
"... And Clinton, Bush or Blair weren't nasty? How about Abu Ghraib prison for a taste of US rule and administration. ..."
"... Considering the introductory photo, data suggests that homelessness in US has been declining over the past 10-15 years. ..."
"... It is unrestrained, no holds barred, capitalism that has brought us to this parlous state . ..."
"... "Why are the people of London, Paris, Long Angeles looking so concerned, so depressed? " Because they are being replaced ? ..."
"... "It is far from clear whether 'good intentions plus stupidity' or 'evil intentions plus intelligence' have wrought more harm in the world." Nothing has inflicted more damage to the people of this planet than Leftism, which we should never forget mass murdered over 60 million Russians for the unpardonable sin of being white Christians with a country of their own. ..."
"... As Pelosi said: If this capitol (US) crumbles, the one thing that would remain is our commitment to aid/ our cooperation with Israel. ..."
"... I think Russel Means said it best: "Welcome to the American Reservation Prison Camp". https://www.youtube.com/embed/aN9ssrVTkk8?feature=oembed ..."
"... I left America in 1999 and returned only once. The US has gone way downhill. The living standard of the nineties would make the living standard of today look abysmal. If someone had told me (I was born in 1974) in the nineties that anyone would have to live at home past the age of 20 or the water of Flint would be poisoned or that sober white people-entire white families-would be homeless I would scoff at such an idea. ..."
"... ...Their obscene theft and fraud via their control of the Financial System have impoverished Americans greatly, particularly the working class. Their dominance of Corporate Boards, enabled by their ill gotten wealth, enables Corporate Upper Management to earn 100's of times more than a worker, instead of 10's times the ratio of the era of real economic growth. Their takeover of the legal system (Lawyers and judges) allows them to suck wealth from the people on a monumental scale. ..."
"... Their control of Media and Hollywood allows brainwashing and false narratives on a stupendous scale. ..."
"... This article is typically one-sided: the upper-middle and upper classes in the USA are doing very, very well, with booming wealth and incomes, and the areas where they live have the best facilities and infrastructure. Their economic situation is very different from that of most of the population. ..."
"... Those upper and upper-middle classes have simple decided to let the USA middle and working classes sink. The USA middle and working classes have been made redundant by offshoring all the industries infected with worker unions or replacing their workers with illegal immigrants; mexican servants and chinese workers never disobey, never strike. ..."
"... The model chosen by the USA elites is the brasilian/"Elysium" one: favelas for the many, splendid gated communities for the few. That model is not new: it is the 19th century Dickensian London model. ..."
Sep 03, 2019 | www.unz.com
Originally from: The West Oppressed the Third World for So Long It Became the Third World Itself, by Andre Vltchek - The Unz Review

Many have already noticed: The U.S. really, really doesn't feel like the world leader, or even as a 'first world country'. Of course, I write that sarcastically, as I detest expressions like 'first world', and the 'third world'. But readers know what I mean.

Bridges, subways, inner cities, everything is crumbling, falling apart. When I used to live in New York City, more than two decades ago, returning from Japan was shocking: the US felt like a poor, deprived country, full of problems, misery, of confused and depressed people, homeless individuals; in short – desperados. Now, I feel the same when I land in the US after spending some time in China.

And it gets much worse. What the West used to accuse the Soviet Union of, is now actually clearly detectable in the United States and the United Kingdom themselves: surveillance is at every step, these days; in New York, London, Sydney, and even in the countryside. Every move a person makes, every purchase, every computer click, is registered; somewhere, somehow. And this monitoring is, mostly, not even illegal.

Speech is controlled by political correctness. Someone behind the scenes decides what is acceptable and what is not, what is desirable or not, and even what is permissible. You make one 'mistake' and you are out; from the teaching positions at the universities, or from the media outlets.

In such conditions, humor cannot thrive, and satire dies. It is not unlike religious fundamentalism: you get destroyed if you 'offend'. In such circumstances, writers cannot write ground-breaking novels, because true novels offend by definition, and always push the boundaries. As a result, almost nobody reads novels, anymore.

Only toothless, 'controlled humor' is permitted. No punches can be administered intuitively. Everything has to be calculated in advance. No 'outrageous' political fiction can pass the 'invisible censorship' in the West (and so, novels as a form have almost died). Those who read in Russian or Chinese languages know perfectly well, that the fiction in Russia and China, is much more provocative and avant-garde .

In the West, poetry has died, too. And so has philosophy, which has been reduced to a boring, stale and indigestible academic discipline.

While Hollywood and the mass media keep producing, relentlessly, all sorts of highly insulting and stereotypical racist junk (mainly against the Chinese, Russians, Arabs, Latinos and others), great writers and filmmakers who want to ridicule the Western regime and its structure, have already been silenced. You can only humiliate non-Westerners in a way that is approved (again: somewhere, somehow), but God forbid, you dare to criticize the pro-Western elites who are ruining their countries on behalf of London and Washington, in the Gulf, Southeast Asia or Africa – that would be 'patronizing' and 'racist'. A great arrangement for the Empire and its servants, isn't it?

We all know what has happened to Julian Assange, and to Edward Snowden. In the West, people are disappearing, getting arrested, censored. Millions are losing jobs: in the media, publishing houses, and in the film studios. The Cold War era appears to be relatively 'tolerant', compared to what is taking place now.

Social media constantly represses 'uncomfortable' individuals, 'unacceptable' media outlets, and too 'unorthodox' thoughts.

Travel has become a boot camp. This is where they break you. Move through the Western airports and you will encounter the vulgar, insulting ' securistan '. Now, you are not just expected to pull down your pants if ordered, or take off your shoes, or throw away all your bottles containing liquids: you are expected to smile, to grin brightly, like an idiot. You are supposed to show how eager, how cooperative you are: to answer loudly, looking straight into the eyes of your tormentors. If you get humiliated, still, be polite. If you want to fly, show that you are enjoying this stupid and useless humiliation, administered for one and only reason: to break you, to make you pathetic and submissive. To teach you where you really belong. Or else. Or else! We all know what will happen if you refuse to 'cooperate'.

Now, 'they' will use double-speak to let you know that all this is for your own good. It will not be pronounced, but you would be made to sense it: 'you are being protected from those horrible Third World monsters, madmen, perverts.' And of course, from Putin, from the Chinese Communists, from the butcher Maduro, from Assad, or from the Iranian Shi'a fanatics. The regime is fighting for you, it cares for you, it is protecting you.

Sure, if you live in the UK or the US, the chances are that you are deep in debt, depressed and with no prospects for the future. Maybe your children are hungry, maybe, in the US, you cannot afford the medical care. Most likely, you cannot afford housing in your own city. Perhaps you are forced to have two or three jobs.

But at least, you know that your 'wise leaders' in the White House, Congress, Pentagon and security agencies, are working day and night, protecting you from countless conspiracies, from vicious attacks from abroad, and from those evil Chinese and Russians, who are busy building progressive and egalitarian societies. Lucky you!

Except: something does not add up here. For years and decades, you were told how free you were. And how oppressed, unfree, those against whom you are being protected, are. You were told how rich you are, and how miserable "the others" were.

To stop those deprived and deranged hordes, some serious measures had to be applied. A right-wing death-squad in some Central American or Southeast Asian country had to be trained in US military camps; a thoroughly absolutist and corrupt monarch had to be supported and pampered; a military fascist coup had to be arranged. Millions raped, tens of thousands of corpses. Not pretty at all, but you know necessary. For your own good, North American or European citizens; for your own good . Even for the good of the country that we designated for our 'liberation'. Few dissidents in the West have been protesting, for decades. No one has been paying much attention to them. Most of them became 'unemployable', and were silenced through misery and the inability to pay their basic bills.

But suddenly. What happened, suddenly? Because something really happened. The Empire got tired of plundering the non-Western parts of the world, exclusively. Well-conditioned, brainwashed and scared, the Western public began to get treated with the same spite, as people in the plundered and miserable parts of the world. Well, not yet, not exactly. There are still some essential differences, but the trend is definitely there. The Western public cannot do too much to protect itself, really. The regime knows everything about everybody: it spies on every citizen: where he or she walks, what he or she eats, drives, flies, watches, consumes, reads. There are no secrets, anymore.

You are an atheist? No need to 'confess'. You are confessing every minute, with each and every computer click, by pressing the remote control button, or by shopping on Amazon.

Is Big Brother watching? Oh no; now there is much more detailed surveillance. Big Brother is watching, recording and analyzing.

General Pinochet of Chile used to brag that without his knowledge, no leaf could ever move. The old, fascist scumbag was bragging; exaggerating. On the other hand, Western rulers say nothing, but they clearly know what they are doing. Without their knowledge, nothing moves and nobody moves.

Arriving from China, from Russia or Cuba, the first thing that strikes me is how disciplined, obedient and scared, the Europeans and North Americans really are. They subconsciously know that they are being controlled and cannot do anything about it.

When trains get delayed or cancelled, they sheepishly murmur half-audible curses. Their medical benefits get reduced; they accept, or quietly commit suicide. Their public infrastructure crumbles; they say nothing, remembering the 'good old days'.

Why is it that I feel hope, I laugh with the people, in Mexico City, Johannesburg or Beijing? Why is there so much warmth in the geographically cold cities of Vladivostok or Petropavlovsk in Kamchatka? Why are the people of London, Paris, Long Angeles looking so concerned, so depressed?

Some historically poor countries are on the rise. And the people there show appreciation for every tiny improvement. Nothing is more beautiful than optimism.

The West has fought the so-called "third world" for many, long decades; oppressing it, tormenting it, looting it, violating its people. It prevented them from choosing their own governments. Now it has gone overboard: it is attempting to control and to oppress the entire world, including its own citizens.

As various countries all over the world are getting back onto their feet, resisting pressure from Washington, London, Paris and Berlin, people in the West are increasingly getting treated by their governments with the spite that used to be reserved exclusively for the "under-developed nations" (yes, another disgusting expression).

Clearly, the West has "learnt from itself".

While countries like Russia, China, Vietnam, Mexico, Iran and others are surging forward, many previously rich colonialist and neo-colonialist empires are now beginning to resemble the "Third World".

These days, it is very sad being a writer in New York City or in London. Just as it is frightening to be poor. Or being different. All over the world, the roles are being reversed.

[First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook – magazine of the Russian Academy of Sciences]

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Four of his latest books are Related Pieces by Author

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F. Fondrement , says: September 4, 2019 at 12:19 pm GMT
All it means is that nothing of importance will happen domestically. The US kleptocracy is being dismantled, not by the subject population but by the outside world. The kleptocracy responds by controlling what it can – its proles. The only way Americans can contribute to the end of their regime is with solidarity. Ignore your fake democracy and go over the government's head to the outside world.
Commentator Mike , says: September 4, 2019 at 12:25 pm GMT
The Third Worlders obviously haven't heard the news as they're still crowding to get into the West.
Hillbob , says: September 4, 2019 at 2:23 pm GMT
Mr Vitchek , as usual you are spot on. I enjoy your work and eagerly look forward to see your your ever honest and perspicacious insight. Keep up the great work.
Priss Factor , says: Website September 4, 2019 at 3:11 pm GMT
Even if the US had done NOTHING to exploit Latin America, I would think most of Latin America would be piss poor. Granted, Latin America was exploited by Spanish whites, but it was hardly a paradise when ruled by Aztec human sacrificers.

And what would Africa be today if white man had NEVER set foot there? It'd be a land of ugabuga savages. At least with western influences, the black savages have cell phones and plenty of food and medicine to explode their population.

Hillbob , says: September 4, 2019 at 3:33 pm GMT
Don't go too far just look at Appalachia ..it will blow your mind
Hillbob , says: September 4, 2019 at 4:03 pm GMT
@Priss Factor We will all be 'ugabuga' savages when those wonderful weapons of the white man i.e. nuclear weapons are used. Yet, somehow, no one cares. But we are reminded how great someone's tribe is . In the meantime, nuclear weapons are in the water, on the the land, in space, will be coming to every school yard and block . No problem. Trump and Netannazi threatening to nuke adversaries. No problem. Anyone heard of Hiroshima and Nagasaki before? No problem.

The race warriors will be happy to see blacks going "back" to Africa, Indians to India, Chinese to China Ok you get the picture. But "whites' will stay in the Americas , right?

... ... ...

Anon [174] Disclaimer , says: September 4, 2019 at 9:15 pm GMT
@Ole C G Olesen Apparently he wants to look proud, smug is the best he can do? His hypocrisy in making civilization's main contributors oppressors and those who've contributed least but benefitted anyway look "oppressed" indicates this, no?

The West has given too much and demanded too little in exchange – is now reaping the "rewards" – the hordes on its doorsteps and the world's chief swindlers running the show. The gentile West has forgotten how to say no it has accepted so many lies. Forgot charity begins at home and most of it belongs there.

Anon [174] Disclaimer , says: September 4, 2019 at 10:43 pm GMT
@elcid GangstaRap replacing Beethoven, blacks and browns replacing whites. Once whites are out of the way the plug will be pulled on handouts. Globalist population culling will begin in earnest. No more food wasted on useless eaters.
obwandiyag , says: September 4, 2019 at 11:01 pm GMT
@F. Fondrement You are exactly right. But the Rocket Scientists on here, and their ilk, will never agree to solidarity with anybody, even at the risk of their lives or livelihoods, because their insane prejudices come first.
obwandiyag , says: September 4, 2019 at 11:05 pm GMT
@Exile You only see what you want to see. They simultaneously push both anti-PoC/ThirdWorld and pro-PoC/ThirdWorld messages. Don't you get it? That's the point. Keep the lower classes squabbling amongst one another. Is this kind of rather obvious truth over the head of your ilk or something. Because you shore do have a hard time understanding it.
Intelligent Dasein , says: Website September 5, 2019 at 1:17 am GMT
This article seemed like it was going to touch upon something important, but then it went off the rails early and often. The mindless repetition of trite anarchist catchphrases is both tiresome and disappointing at this stage of the game. The status quo needs good criticism, but this isn't it. Of particularly noteworthy awfulness was this bit:

In such circumstances, writers cannot write ground-breaking novels, because true novels offend by definition, and always push the boundaries.

Baloney. A true novel does not offend by definition. A true novel, like all true art, uplifts. It confirms the verities of the eternal world when the vagaries of the sublunary world are starting to get you down and coarsen your thinking. The whole "art as revolution" thing is pure modernist materialist horseshit, as was the rest of this essay.

Daniel H , says: September 5, 2019 at 1:37 am GMT
@Ole C G Olesen And YOU ..ANDRE VITCHEK and People of Your HYPOCRITICAL CULTURAL MARXIST ( in reality Jewish subversive ) Calibre ..have been Major Contributors to that development ! .. Are You proud ?

Stop blaming it on the Commies. It is unrestrained, no holds barred, capitalism that has brought us to this parlous state, and the money grubbers won't let up until they have sucked the last drop of blood from us.

We have done this to ourselves.

NoseytheDuke , says: September 5, 2019 at 5:43 am GMT
Nothing to laugh about here . https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/sep/05/oil-refinery-worker-fired-over-downfall-parody-video-loses-unfair-dismissal-claim
Commentator Mike , says: September 5, 2019 at 8:14 am GMT
@obwandiyag

Neither Malcolm X nor Charles Manson managed to get the blacks to storm Beverly Hills and give the residents there slaughter. The blacks did take Detroit but not with a fight, more like through white flight, and what good did that do them? The whites are no better; the extremes of the more woke ones are fighting it out on the streets against each other. There doesn't appear to be any struggle on the horizon in the US requiring any solidarity, most are just trying to survive and into whatever for themselves.

I remember reading some left wing US website a while back that announced a particular date as the start of a nationwide revolution and called up people to turn up in each city at a specific time and place to the start mass protests and the revolution. The appeal was bombastic, serious, well worded, and convincing, well perhaps to the more naive. I followed the news and nothing happened. Absolutely nothing. I doubt anybody turned up and if they did it couldn't have been more than a handful. Really funny. Sort of like Andre here calling for international revolution but who's following, or even reading? Not many, and definitely not enough to make it happen.

Roberto Masioni , says: September 5, 2019 at 12:25 pm GMT
Great. Another anti-white, blame-the-victim, "you are destroying yourself" article. Fortunately, these "Why is the West Suiciding?" articles are less effective than before, now that we realize who the leaders of global plunder are. We know who is erecting the gay disco casino gulag -- and they aren't Western.
Reg Cæsar , says: September 5, 2019 at 6:36 pm GMT
The West is still oppressing the third world. Pres. Obama called Ugandans "odious" for no good reason. Peter Tatchell sends his agents to Jamaica to investigate car burnings. Robert Mugabe was excoriated for his "pigs and dogs" remark.

White nurses whine about "FGM", not just in their own countries but abroad as well. We're supposed to take in women who are "refugees" from their traditional cultures. Photos of a Somali adulterer who was half-buried and stoned to death made the rounds on the Internet, with nasty comments from Europe, North America, and Oceania.

That "people of color" might just look at these things differently never seems to occur to the white progressive.

TKK , says: September 7, 2019 at 4:33 am GMT
@Intelligent Dasein

A true novel, like all true art, uplifts.

Fiction is a lie that tells the truth. The author is right for the wrong reasons. A manuscript by a white male is considered garbage- unless he is sufficiently woke or Jewish. (They seem to have a lot of publishing power). But a black transsexual from Chi-Town his crap manuscript will be acquired by HBO and he will be courted by the Ivy League. Identity politics is the great threat to literature, as it is to everything else

Exhibit A- Whining No Talent Punk Ass B*tch Ta- Nesi Coates.

Exhibit B- Jericho Brown- Of course he is married to a man. A "Poet" https://www.jerichobrown.com is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and he is the winner of the Whiting Writer's Award. Brown's first book, Please (New Issues 2008), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament (Copper Canyon 2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. His third collection is The Tradition(Copper Canyon 2019). His poems have appeared in The Bennington Review, Buzzfeed, Fence, jubilat, The New Republic, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, TIME magazine, and several volumes of The Best American Poetry. He is an associate professor and the director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University.

-just look at all his goodies- set for life. How he must laugh at how he has hustled the system

Then read his poems. It would be funny but its too alarming.

TKK , says: September 7, 2019 at 4:40 am GMT
@Reg Cæsar Are you actually defending Robert Mugabe? Which behavior- Zimbabwe's peak month of inflation when it hit 79.6 billion perce nt month-on-month or his billion of dollars in hidey holes, stolen, while the masses ate corn cobs? May he rot with the worms.
Kirt , says: September 7, 2019 at 5:03 am GMT
Hard to disagree with anything the author says in his description of the modern world.
Alfred , says: September 7, 2019 at 5:41 am GMT
I laugh with the people, in Mexico City, Johannesburg or Beijing

I agree with much of the article. However, considering Johannesburg a place that is improving is a clear mistake. Maybe his ideology is confusing his thinking? In any case, White South Africa was a much better place than the current version. As is usual, almost all the murders there are black-on-black

Smith , says: September 7, 2019 at 5:41 am GMT
It will get worse until it gets better. Until manufacturing is back in the US/the West, people will continue to suffer. Selling jobs, labors to foreigners i.e. outsourcing is selling your own country and is a losing strategy.
Dave Pinsen , says: Website September 7, 2019 at 6:01 am GMT
A general suggestion to Ron Unz would be to include captions for images such as the one at the top of this article. As for the substance of this article: the decline in American living standards isn't from oppressing the third world as much as it is from importing the third world.

The decline in infrastructure is partly due to our highly litigious society, powered by a surfeit of lawyers, which dramatically increases the cost and construction time for new infrastructure. It's also partly due to public sector unions, which consume so much in resources that little is left to maintain infrastructure. When a Port Authority of NY and NJ patrolman is making $400k for standing on a bridge, there is less money available to renovate the bridge.

Franz , says: September 7, 2019 at 6:06 am GMT
@Commentator Mike They would be the silly-billys who believe what they see on television.

They'll be coached by their handlers to game the system and still be better off than where they came from. At the expense of the already beleaguered taxpayers, natch.

During Obama's farewell speech he caused chuckles all over when he described the US as "the envy of the world" but as long as they can count on the Knights of Columbus, the Hebrew Immigration Society and however many more, it will continue.

But it's a sign of failure, not success, when non-oppressed foreigners help our plutocrats plunder the truly oppresseed, actual American taxpayers with no voice and few options. Short of a solar fireball taking out this whole hemisphere, I see no solution.

Willem , says: September 7, 2019 at 6:29 am GMT
Vltchek's bias is that he thinks in nations, instead of corporations. Sure, the west is bad, but that does not automatically imply that the East is good. For example, That the West lost the war in Syria, is good for Assad, Putin, Xi maybe and others who exploit the Iranian Gas fields in the Persian Gulf, or are happy that gas flows from Russia to the EU, instead of from Qatar to the EU. But for the Syrian population it will hardly make a difference if the exploits are shared by Gazprom or Exxon. One can rejoice that the bombing stopped in Syria. But the bombing was not meant for the Syrian people, it was meant for making it possible to let some corporations interests prevail over other corporations, and the population was only useful to let one corporation win over the other: either as cannon fodder, or (when they were lucky enough to flee to the EU) as cheap labor. Vltchek does not see this, even though John Perkins 'Economic hitmen' are known even in the mainstream https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37Dvt2EqXF4
Anon [161] Disclaimer , says: September 7, 2019 at 8:25 am GMT
I agreed with most of this article, but 'the west' isn't a country. Which countries specifically is the writer talking about? Also, from a lot of writers there is assumption and projection about what they think the situation is like in the U.K that doesn't always seem to reflect reality.

E.g

"While countries like Russia, China, Vietnam, Mexico, Iran and others are surging forward, many previously rich colonialist and neo-colonialist empires are now beginning to resemble the "Third World"".

From what I can tell, the only time the living standard was possibly better in the UK than it is today was a brief period in the earlier 21st century before the financial crisis in 2008 and following recession, and a lot of the ridiculous political 'correctness' is about contrived, and what seems to me, unnecessary nonsense like fake 'feminism' and disingenuous 'outrage'

And Russia and China also used to be empires, which is why they have such a large amount of territory, but writers like this would have us not think about that

Anon [161] Disclaimer , says: September 7, 2019 at 8:40 am GMT
@obwandiyag "They simultaneously push both anti-PoC/ThirdWorld and pro-PoC/ThirdWorld messages. Don't you get it? That's the point. Keep the lower classes squabbling amongst one another"

True, they also seem to pursue whatever strategy suits their particular agenda at the particular time and expect people to have memories like goldfish, this reminds me of what George Orwell wrote about in the book '1984'

Smith , says: September 7, 2019 at 8:42 am GMT
@Willem This needs to be spoken out more. There is an entirely cadre of West BAD, East GOOD posters here. But I think this narrative too will fall. China is moving up in the world, colonizing stuff, this will not be deniable anymore in the future.
anon [277] Disclaimer , says: September 7, 2019 at 8:50 am GMT
> or quietly commit suicide

True, suicide is an extremely effective option to stop the pain of a miserable existence. It has become an epidemic among white males, especially in rural areas.

Unz.com is a sort of White Man's Ghost Dance as another iteration of native-born Americans gets shoved onto a reservation too, to make way for the space GloboHomo needs. It's hard to take. Many think being dead is better off. We're all Injuns now.

Smith , says: September 7, 2019 at 8:54 am GMT
@obwandiyag

Actually, they spew hatred against their government, not against their people, so that they can invite more non-white/non-asian in, while destabilizing the enemy government so even more immigrate. It's a constant and consistent strategy.

Anon [424] Disclaimer , says: September 7, 2019 at 9:06 am GMT
Good point the " securistan " of airports , it is very humiliating for the customers , and I think that it doesn't contributes anything to security , it is just to exert control on normal people , to degrade normal people .

About 4 years ago I took a plane in Copenhague , the europeans we had to take out our belts , and answer to silly questions , but before us was a group of arabs , all the women ( or whatever ) wore the burka just showing their eyes , arab men wore european clothes , they were passed quickly , no questions , no searches . I was wondering it the women could have a bomb under the burka , fortunately they took another plane .

Now I try yo avoid planes as much as possible .

The sun sets in the west , it looks like the sun is setting for the west , the Kairòs . History will tell what happened , too many wars , taxes , freeky ideologies , toxic bureacracies , greed , arrogance , apostasy . ??

Anon [161] Disclaimer , says: September 7, 2019 at 9:07 am GMT
@Priss Factor

I do agree with you, but there has been a lot of overthrowing of leaders and covert action taken by the C.I.A and American governments in the 20th century and 21st century in south and central America, which they either lied to, or didn't inform the public about, and then seem to think they can later turn around and project blame on to the ordinary public for actions taken by the C.I.A or previous governments that they deliberately lied to the public about

It seems that the government and mainstream media lie most of the time, except on smaller or more local issues.

They seem to be tripping themselves up more and more now though

Anon [161] Disclaimer , says: September 7, 2019 at 9:21 am GMT
@Smith "Selling jobs, labors to foreigners i.e. outsourcing is selling your own country and is a losing strategy"

Exactly.

Miro23 , says: September 7, 2019 at 9:28 am GMT

Speech is controlled by political correctness. Someone behind the scenes decides what is acceptable and what is not, what is desirable or not, and even what is permissible. You make one 'mistake' and you are out; from the teaching positions at the universities, or from the media outlets.

And what is permissible is becoming truly weird. These are comments on an article over at http://www.thecollegefix.com "Poll: 73 percent of Republican students have withheld political views in class for fear their grades would suffer".

https://www.thecollegefix.com/poll-73-percent-of-republican-students-have-withheld-political-views-in-class-for-fear-their-grades-would-suffer/

[MORE]

Blackbeagle Mark

I'm ABD (all but dissertation) in Econometrics because my adviser was a Marxist nutcase from the London School of Economics. I couldn't fight the communists forever not when they held all the cards.

Reply: Medina-Merino

I left my PhD program in Anthropology when on a "field trip" , my advisor and his idiotic tie-dyed moron of a wife (former student of his) crawled into my tent on the first night of a 2 week research project in black leather bondage harnesses and informed me it was time for me to join them in a "night of pure pleasure".

Fast forward I got up, got into my car, drove through the night back to campus, parked outside of the Dean's office, stormed in with wide-blood-shot-eyes when he arrived in his 700-Series turbo-charged Special Edition BMW and told him I wanted to file a complaint against Professor "Bondo" and when he (Dean Bozo) did not respond to my request in over a week, I withdrew from my program (ABD also) before the "Drop Deadline" so I could get full refund of my hard-earned TENS OF THOUSANDS of tuition dollars and used the money to secure an attorney (who I later learned was on-the-take for the University's own legal counsel office of "Equity & Fairness") until I ran out of money and then left town to take a position in Scotland on a research team studying Celtic migrations to the Northern Coast of the Iberian Peninsula, known for centuries unofficially as the "Celtic Coast". I loved my work and worked with some amazing and HONEST and RESPECTFUL colleagues.

I learned a big lesson from this EFFIN nightmare be verrrrrrrrrrrrrrry careful of whose hands you find your career in there are a lot of filthy, abusive, corrupt "faculty" and even more dishonest and disingenuous and despicable "administrators" in the contemporary academy and many have brass name-plates on their doors and hold do-nothing-but-damage-to-the-lives-of those who are often powerless against their callous and deliberate abuses.

Even today, on my sleepless nights I can still hear Mr. Chips rustling in his grave

I went on to hold positions of academic renown in Europe and Latin America and eventually returned to the US when I knew I would be able to secure adjunct positions in the US and Canada and Puerto Rico to support myself and my family, whose lives I was able to maintain in a stable trajectory throughout this horror!

Revenge is sweet however today when I receive requests from my former "institution of higher learning" I respond in the SASE
"NEVER WILL I EVER GIVE YOU ONE CENT FOR NOT HAVING PROTECTED ME FROM ABUSE AT THE HANDS OF DR. "BONDO" YEARS AGO!" Even today, he is part of campus lore and is whispered about in hushed tones.

What happened to the "prof" he died of very painful brain cancer (poetic justice) and his idiot wife went full-tilt into drugs and is sitting in a pool of her own pee in a very dismal geriatric ward. And the "Dean"? He is likewise awaiting his last days in his luxury condo in Santa Barbara, CA surrounded by like-minded Lutheran do-gooders holding prayer circles and burning incense and rubbing crystals for each of their pathetic selves

Proud_Srbin , says: September 7, 2019 at 9:42 am GMT
Domestication and obedience training are a double edged sword, humanlike and humanoids are not immune to it.
The Alarmist , says: September 7, 2019 at 9:47 am GMT

When I used to live in New York City, more than two decades ago, returning from Japan was shocking: the US felt like a poor, deprived country, full of problems, misery, of confused and depressed people, homeless individuals; in short – desperados.

Gee, and those were good days in NYC. Resist: Pay for everything with cash, wear sunglasses and a hoodie (ideally black so you'll be confused with AntiFa and therefore left un-molested by the police), and use a flip phone with a removable battery if you have to use anything at all. No, you won't win, but you'll drive them nuts.

Anon [767] Disclaimer , says: September 7, 2019 at 9:50 am GMT
@Reg Cæsar

"White nurses whine about "FGM", not just in their own countries but abroad as well. We're supposed to take in women who are "refugees" from their traditional cultures. Photos of a Somali adulterer who was half-buried and stoned to death made the rounds on the Internet, with nasty comments from Europe, North America, and Oceania.

That "people of color" might just look at these things differently never seems to occur to the white progressive"

Although I did agree with a lot of Andre Vitchek's article, people like him seem to want people to believe that the 'pervert' and harsh treatment of women thing in certain countries is just propaganda, as if a lot of people haven't ever met people from some of these countries or been to some of these countries themselves

Of course there has been propaganda regarding accusations against certain leaders etc, but some countries do have the social issues that you touched on above

Anon [767] Disclaimer , says: September 7, 2019 at 10:05 am GMT
@F. Fondrement

"The US kleptocracy is being dismantled, not by the subject population but by the outside world"

I think the establishment have done a good job that themselves

"The only way Americans can contribute to the end of their regime is with solidarity. Ignore your fake democracy and go over the government's head to the outside world"

True

WaltWhitman , says: September 7, 2019 at 10:29 am GMT
@TKK Ditto with Zadie Smith who the NY Jewish publishing mafia and its attendant media have anointed the reigning queen of mulatto lit. Her books are so eminently unreadable, much less publishable. American "culture" is such a con game. There should be a brand of bulk toilet paper called "New York Times Best Seller".

Vltchek is wrong about Johannesburg, though. Last I heard–just a couple days ago -- the natives were restless, unemployed, rioting in the streets and looting like crazy:

https://www.rt.com/news/467860-90-people-arrested-riots-johannesburg/

Commentator Mike , says: September 7, 2019 at 10:54 am GMT
@TKK TKK,

He should have just abolished money and started trading in bananas. What's worth more, a kilo of bananas or a kilo of printed paper notes that were needed to buy a kilo of bananas? Consider the resources and the work that went into manufacturing those paper notes and into growing and picking the bananas? Which is more valuable? Hmm At least you can eat the bananas but not the paper money. Shows how ridiculous the whole economy is. Anywhere and everywhere for that matter. And now it's just electronic money. And if it becomes inflationary you'll just have to keep adding zeros on your keyboard when making payments and have enough zeros after whatever number in your account. But those bankers in charge of the economy just add the zeros to their own accounts as they please inventing money out of thin air, whether paper or electronic.

Yes Mugabe was a nasty piece of work but he had a sense of humour. And Clinton, Bush or Blair weren't nasty? How about Abu Ghraib prison for a taste of US rule and administration.

Considering the introductory photo, data suggests that homelessness in US has been declining over the past 10-15 years.

there is a downward trend. In the nine year period – which includes the economic crisis – the number of homeless in the US fell by almost 100,000 people.

SafeNow , says: September 7, 2019 at 11:10 am GMT
Wikipedia has a long entry for "The Hardy Boys" series of books for young boys. It tracks, in detail, the 1960 to 1980 changes, which include switching to nonstop action, a dumbed-down writing style, and increased adherence by the boys to regulations and laws. Commentators call the books "eviscerated." I have posted before on how higher education has "refreshed" the curriculum; but the evisceration begins earlier than that.
The Alarmist , says: September 7, 2019 at 11:11 am GMT
@Anon Bellum omnium contra omnes.
The Alarmist , says: September 7, 2019 at 11:13 am GMT
@Daniel H

It is unrestrained, no holds barred, capitalism that has brought us to this parlous state .

You're confusing predatory oligopoly with capitalism.

DH13 , says: September 7, 2019 at 12:00 pm GMT

Why are the people of London, Paris, Long Angeles looking so concerned, so depressed?

"Why are the people of London, Paris, Long Angeles looking so concerned, so depressed? " Because they are being replaced ?

DanFromCT , says: September 7, 2019 at 12:13 pm GMT
@JoannF

Joann, do you think Conrad was himself recommending "exterminate all the brutes" or was he damning the predictable outcome of the leftist mind? If Conrad were alive today he'd heartily agree with Dietrich Doerner, who writes in his Logic of Failure (1997), "It is far from clear whether 'good intentions plus stupidity' or 'evil intentions plus intelligence' have wrought more harm in the world." Nothing has inflicted more damage to the people of this planet than Leftism, which we should never forget mass murdered over 60 million Russians for the unpardonable sin of being white Christians with a country of their own.

Have a look at Burton's Wanderings in West Africa. Burton was one of the great travelers and polymaths of the 19th century and had no use for either the Africans or the Europeans he found interacting along Africa's west coast. Africans may have been technologically backward, but they were more racist than the Europeans and twice as cunning when it came to exploiting the other.

I haven't read Linquist's Exterminate All the Brutes, but I have read leftist crap ironically blaming Western Civilization for imposing on African countries -- not the art, architecture, music, philosophy, morals, ethics, science, education, technology, medicine, and other achievements of the West -- but the lethal cultural degeneracy almost entirely attributable to the ongoing ascendency of the racially supremacist Jewish Left, destroying the West far more than anywhere in Africa and due mainly to International Jewry's ownership of the public forum and so the formation of men's minds throughout much of the world.

Roberto Masioni , says: September 7, 2019 at 12:20 pm GMT
@Daniel H Daniel, Communism and Globocapitalism are two sides of the same crooked coin. If you'll notice, both come to us from the same Tribe.
Robjil , says: September 7, 2019 at 12:34 pm GMT
The west is going down because of its Israel first mania for the past hundred years. Infrastructure is it good for Israel first? No, who needs that. Third world nationals fleeing nations raped of resources for Israel firster corporations to the west. It is OK as Mad Albright said about 500000 Iraqi children dying from ZUS sanctions. Israel/US do nine eleven and blame it on Muslims

a)Trillions of dollars spent in the past 18 years destroying the Middle East using that nine eleven excuse.

b)Seven Nations to Destroy theme for this destruction to create a Eretz Israel. Lovely theme comes from some 500 BC scribblings – Deuteronomy 7.1-2

Trillions could have been used to built up the west. Destruction was more "important". It is all about the west's 500 BC values.

At least the non-western world likes to live in the present. The west is in the Zion vortex of 500 BC values.

As Pelosi said: If this capitol (US) crumbles, the one thing that would remain is our commitment to aid/ our cooperation with Israel.

She summed up why the west is falling apart in the past hundred years.

DESERT FOX , says: September 7, 2019 at 1:10 pm GMT

...We have plenty of money for destroying the middle east for Israel , 7 trillion and counting and plenty of money for hundreds of billions of welfare for Israel and providing military assistance for Israel and so the money is there, but just not for America, Israel is the chosen land, chosen to destroy America.

Sic Semper , says: September 7, 2019 at 1:18 pm GMT
@Commentator Mike "The Third Worlders obviously haven't heard the news as they're still crowding to get into the West."

That's because the don't care about FREEDOM, they are coming because they want FREE SHIT. Scavengers never care how majestic the carcass they pic clean once was, they are only there to strip it to the bone.

Mike P , says: September 7, 2019 at 1:27 pm GMT
Regarding the "security" farce at the airports – I don't think the purpose of the harassment is to "break" you, but to remind you of "9/11" and them evil Muslim terrorists who are to blame for all of this.
Johnny Walker Read , says: September 7, 2019 at 1:41 pm GMT
@anon I think Russel Means said it best: "Welcome to the American Reservation Prison Camp". https://www.youtube.com/embed/aN9ssrVTkk8?feature=oembed
Anonymous Snanonymous , says: September 7, 2019 at 1:46 pm GMT
@Commentator Mike The Third Worlders obviously have heard that the 1st world is just like the 3rd world now so they're going to fit in perfectly well hence the rush to get in
Jeff Stryker , says: September 7, 2019 at 1:50 pm GMT
@Franz When I was young in Southeast Michigan, a few Irish and English and Germans still immigrated. That was about 40 years ago when I was five years old. Late seventies (I was born in 1974). Nobody and I mean nobody, from Germany or Ireland would immigrate to Michigan today. People in India would not want to drink Flint's water.
Jeff Stryker , says: September 7, 2019 at 1:55 pm GMT
@Anon 161

I left America in 1999 and returned only once. The US has gone way downhill. The living standard of the nineties would make the living standard of today look abysmal. If someone had told me (I was born in 1974) in the nineties that anyone would have to live at home past the age of 20 or the water of Flint would be poisoned or that sober white people-entire white families-would be homeless I would scoff at such an idea.

At the rate we are going, India will be superior to America in the next 20 years. Russia was always poor. Always. China has improved vastly in twenty years and we can argue why. UK was probably at an economic peak 20 years ago.

Anon [424] Disclaimer , says: September 7, 2019 at 2:19 pm GMT
@Mike P

...I guess many Security companies got rich with 9/11 , who are the mother companies of the thousands of " security " guards around the globe ? ,can you imagine ? , What percentage of the plain ticket goes to this " security " guys ? . By the way most of the airport security guards did not finish High School .

Joe Wong , says: September 7, 2019 at 2:59 pm GMT
@Ole C G Olesen Andre Vitchek has a moral consensus, unlike the rest of the First World citizens, they are morally defunct, they even don't feel guilty for the crime against humanity, crime against peace and war crime they have been committing. They regards those crimes as White man's burden, and whatever they do it is necessary with good intention.
wayfarer , says: September 7, 2019 at 3:29 pm GMT
@Johnny Walker Read Thanks for posting, "Welcome to the American Reservation Prison Camp."

Didn't know this existed, until now. For decades while watching everything that I loved being destroyed, from wholesome communities to natural habitats, I'd catch myself saying, "now I know what it must of felt like to be American Indian." Today in Yuma Arizona, the Mourning Doves are silent, as another hunting season takes its unnecessary toll.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mourning_dove

Agent76 , says: September 7, 2019 at 3:51 pm GMT
Jun 21, 2019 California: America's First 3rd World State

If you want to know the Democratic Party vision for America, you need only look at the left coast paradise of California.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/UDZRO4RueHI?feature=oembed

Aug 16, 2019 Sunset in the Golden State – Ep 4: How the West Was Lost

Stefan Molyneux, Host of Freedomain Radio, travels to California to unravel all of the political, economic, moral and demographic complexities of the Golden State.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Be5yKepPo1E?feature=oembed

Jul 6, 2014 Century of Enslavement: The History of The Federal Reserve

What is the Federal Reserve system? How did it come into existence? Is it part of the federal government? How does it create money? Why is the public kept in the dark about these important matters?

https://www.youtube.com/embed/5IJeemTQ7Vk?feature=oembed

Agent76 , says: September 7, 2019 at 4:03 pm GMT
This is a *BIG* picture view of the world in one link. June 13, 2016 Which Corporations Control The World? A surprisingly small number of corporations control massive global market shares. How many of the brands below do you use?

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44864.htm

"Control the oil, and you control nations. Control the food, and you control the people." Henry Kissenger

Grok King , says: September 7, 2019 at 4:09 pm GMT
Andre please work on your meandering word-salad effort posts. Maybe ask some of your bunkmates for assistance.
tmilk , says: September 7, 2019 at 4:32 pm GMT
@Priss Factor I would not go that far in rationalizing. If one's teenage son use helpless old neighbor's backyard for rowdy parties, one can not just say that yard looks like shit anyway.
JoannF , says: September 7, 2019 at 4:44 pm GMT
@DanFromCT Yes indeed – I entirely agree.

No I don't believe Conrad was giving direct advice here. I do have a tendency to simplify, I have learned that in the ad business, and I'm still adapting to this platform. Getting the news media and Hollywood into their hands really was a neoliberals stroke of genius that could only happen with the aloofness that owning the international banking business supplies you with. Then they owned psychology, and now all of academia.

It takes serenity to plan on such scale. I don't see us getting out of this trap.

Johnny Walker Read , says: September 7, 2019 at 4:55 pm GMT
@wayfarer I think Russel Means is one of the most intelligent and honest human beings America ever birthed. If I had my way this video would be required viewing in every American History class.
Marshall Lentini , says: September 7, 2019 at 5:22 pm GMT
>beware political correctness
> beware "racism" from Hollywood

next

Truth3 , says: September 7, 2019 at 5:37 pm GMT

...Their obscene theft and fraud via their control of the Financial System have impoverished Americans greatly, particularly the working class. Their dominance of Corporate Boards, enabled by their ill gotten wealth, enables Corporate Upper Management to earn 100's of times more than a worker, instead of 10's times the ratio of the era of real economic growth. Their takeover of the legal system (Lawyers and judges) allows them to suck wealth from the people on a monumental scale.

Their control of Media and Hollywood allows brainwashing and false narratives on a stupendous scale.

Their control of Government through their essentially owning or being every single Congressperson or Senator means that they control the taxation and spending that cripples workers...

Monty Ahwazi , says: September 7, 2019 at 6:02 pm GMT
@Commentator Mike Get over it! Exceptionalism is dead! Research it before telling this to someone else!
Blissex , says: September 7, 2019 at 6:31 pm GMT
This article is typically one-sided: the upper-middle and upper classes in the USA are doing very, very well, with booming wealth and incomes, and the areas where they live have the best facilities and infrastructure. Their economic situation is very different from that of most of the population.

Those upper and upper-middle classes have simple decided to let the USA middle and working classes sink. The USA middle and working classes have been made redundant by offshoring all the industries infected with worker unions or replacing their workers with illegal immigrants; mexican servants and chinese workers never disobey, never strike.

Part of this strategy has been to separate geographically, by means of property prices, lower and middle income people and upper-middle and upper income people, by building residential estates that unlike old mixed cities are targeted explicitly at a specific income bracket.

The model chosen by the USA elites is the brasilian/"Elysium" one: favelas for the many, splendid gated communities for the few. That model is not new: it is the 19th century Dickensian London model.

TKK , says: September 7, 2019 at 6:32 pm GMT
@WaltWhitman

Her books are so eminently unreadable

That's the damn truth.

"White Teeth". That's her pièce de résistance. Before I cancelled my New Yorker subscription, they published 2 (two) of her short stories. I read them, and thought I was having a mild stoke. Non linear. No plot. What was her "talent?" Now, when I want to read a short story, I always go back to:

To Build a Fire, by Jack London.

This section still grabs me by the throat, every time I read it.

Following at the man's heels was a big native dog. It was a wolf dog, gray-coated and not noticeably different from its brother, the wild wolf. The animal was worried by the great cold. It knew that this was no time for traveling. Its own feeling was closer to the truth than the man's judgment. In reality, it was not merely colder than 50 below zero; it was colder than 60 below, than 70 below. It was 75 below zero. Because the freezing point is 32 above zero, it meant that there were 107 degrees of frost.

The dog did not know anything about temperatures. Possibly in its brain there was no understanding of a condition of very cold, such as was in the man's brain. But the animal sensed the danger. Its fear made it question eagerly every movement of the man as if expecting him to go into camp or to seek shelter somewhere and build a fire. The dog had learned about fire, and it wanted fire. Otherwise, it would dig itself into the snow and find shelter from the cold air.

Now compare this to the man:

But all this -- the distant trail, no sun in the sky, the great cold, and the strangeness of it all -- had no effect on the man. It was not because he was long familiar with it. He was a newcomer in the land, and this was his first winter.

The trouble with him was that he was not able to imagine. He was quick and ready in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in their meanings. Fifty degrees below zero meant 80 degrees of frost. Such facts told him that it was cold and uncomfortable, and that was all. It did not lead him to consider his weaknesses as a creature affected by temperature. Nor did he think about man's general weakness, able to live only within narrow limits of heat and cold. From there, it did not lead him to thoughts of heaven and the meaning of a man's life. 50 degrees below zero meant a bite of frost that hurt and that must be guarded against by the use of mittens, ear coverings, warm moccasins, and thick socks. 50 degrees below zero was to him nothing more than 50 degrees below zero. That it should be more important than that was a thought that never entered his head.

As he turned to go, he forced some water from his mouth as an experiment. There was a sudden noise that surprised him. He tried it again. And again, in the air, before they could fall to the snow, the drops of water became ice that broke with a noise. He knew that at 50 below zero water from the mouth made a noise when it hit the snow. But this had done that in the air. Undoubtedly it was colder than 50 below. But exactly how much colder he did not know. But the tem- perature did not matter.

Richard B , says: September 7, 2019 at 6:34 pm GMT
@Truth3 Great comment.

But I remain convinced that what we are witnessing, what we are living through is nothing short of The Pyrrhic Victory of Jewish Supremacy Inc. As one of the Tribe once told me many years ago, "We're the smartest and the dumbest people at the same time." I think all of their smarts moves in one direction – total destruction. Which, of course, eventually includes them as well. Their single-mindedness of purpose has been their strength (if that's what you want to call it). But it's also their weakness.

As with all parasitic predators, they're good at infiltration, subversion, betrayal, disintegration, and destruction. But they're no damned good at social-management. And it shows. Everywhere. Just look around. It couldn't be more obvious. All of the social-institutions under their control are in free fall. Teaching-Learning institutions, Economic institutions, Government institutions.

All of them.

With the tunnel vision of a psychotic Dracula, they're so focused on killing their victims while they sleep and sucking all of their blood, that they can't feel the tickling of the poisonous spider crawling up their leg. Nor do they realize that they've already poisoned the blood of their victims. Why can't they see this? Because they're pathologically self-engrossed.

Hang tight. Because things are moving so fast we might just live to see the day when their global Ponzi scheme collapses and the cat comes out of the bag for all to see (not just us).

When that day comes people will no more fear the accusation of antisemitism than a person caught outside during a hurricane will fear being called a burglar for taking cover in the first house they see.

Malla , says: September 7, 2019 at 6:34 pm GMT
@Joe Wong White man bankers like Rockefellar funded your Mao. Learn some respect.
Rurik , says: September 7, 2019 at 6:53 pm GMT

I laugh with the people, in Mexico City, Johannesburg or Beijing

Virtue-signal much?

While countries like Russia, China, Vietnam, Mexico, Iran and others are surging forward, many previously rich colonialist and neo-colonialist empires are now beginning to resemble the "Third World".

Russia didn't have colonies?

Now if you wanted to argue that those colonies only benefited a tiny handful of ((Russians)) and international elites, at the direct expense of the Russian people, (exactly like the ZUSA today), then I'd agree.

But it seems to me that what you're tying to do is blame the average white middle and working class American (and Brits and French and others..) for all the injustices of the world, and so as they're crushed by the burgeoning Orwellian police state and treated as second class citizens in favor of all immigrants and non-whites, that they're getting what they deserve, huh?

Just as it is frightening to be poor. Or being different. All over the world, the roles are being reversed.

ahh, being poor and different'. (white people have never known what it's like to be poor, huh?)

So it sounds to me like you're celebrating the undercurrents of what's roiling in South Africa.

I only wish you could be there, on some remote farm outside of your lovely Johannesburg, as those who're reversing the roles come in to exact their justice, and listen as you howl, 'No No!, I'm a good white! Do what you want to the farmer and his family, but I'm on your side, and celebrate (with gloating snide) the roles being reversed!'.

I'd love to see your reaction when they ponder your respective 'goodness' from your white face.

Amerimutt Golems , says: September 7, 2019 at 7:02 pm GMT
@Alfred

I laugh with the people, in Mexico City, Johannesburg or Beijing

I agree with much of the article. However, considering Johannesburg a place that is improving is a clear mistake. Maybe his ideology is confusing his thinking? In any case, White South Africa was a much better place than the current version. As is usual, almost all the murders there are black-on-black

South Africa was way safer and more civilized under white rule. Just ask farmer Hans Bergmann who grows food that feeds the very blacks trying to kill him.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/PMKfTsI2aEg?feature=oembed

The author is talking more about U.S. foreign policy e.g. United Fruit Company, the Iran coup, the Guatemala coup, CIA failed hits on Castro, Air America, Grenada, Panama, Iran, USAID etc.

The advent of European civilization that wasn't perfect but has largely benefited browns and blacks be it health, food security, infrastructure and technologies like the Internet.

As for the current backwardness, the American economist Michael Todaro has documented the challenges these countries face in his book Economic Development. Todaro, however, doesn't factor IQ into the equation and instead uses coded language like 'lack of competent manpower' (paraphrasing).

Malla , says: September 7, 2019 at 7:37 pm GMT
@Joe Wong Think of this this way chump, when the USA was 90% White, it fought Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan, which you obviously support.
Now the USA is only 65% White and it invades and destroys the Middle East and Libya. So by becoming less White, is the USA becoming a more compassionate country?
Rurik , says: Website September 7, 2019 at 7:39 pm GMT
@Amerimutt Golems

The author is talking more about U.S. foreign policy e.g. United Fruit Company, the Iran coup, the Guatemala coup, CIA failed hits on Castro, Air America, Grenada, Panama, Iran, USAID etc.

ahh yes

It's all the American working class WHITE men who DID IT!!

Flay the skin from their bones for imposing the Shah on Iran!

Reverse the roles and see their children raped for what they did to Guatemala and Panama and South Africa!

Russia and France and Japan and England are all victims of these serial racists who continue to refuse to be gay!

It's the American working class white man who has and continues to cause all the problems of the planet. Why don't we just castrate them all and finally, at long last live in an utopian paradise?

Current Commenter

[Jul 13, 2019] The return of Weimar Berlin - Lawlessness, Inequality, Extremism, Divisiveness and Crime

Notable quotes:
"... 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 ..."
"... 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. ..."
"... 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 ..."
"... 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. ..."
"... 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. ..."
"... 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. ..."
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.'"

Luke 19:41-44

"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.'"

Matthew 23:29-30

...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."

Léon Bloy

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] 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.

Notable quotes:
"... 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. ..."
"... 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. ..."
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 27, 2019] What are the main differences between religion and ideology - Quora

Apr 27, 2019 | www.quora.com

a rQU d JV lm b cJr y s TObs M Mr a sqQCs n J a Ryv g Fb e G E aNWBB n k g wuli i Pu n LN e MI cLaG A GkdE D KPJJd S ZHmQO e ny l JACzT f gvhU S hoqBB e QsBBn r NqGDf v z i m c aXQ e zSU Fc P A u Txrqy s pVS Free Active Directory password expiration notification tool. Free tool to automatically remind users about password expiration via email, SMS, and push notifications. L wjx e Lpor a zsMV r WmU n nfoVQ eftBn M UtIUC o i r oi e Zej Y a sk t gkK TOD m mT a JbQx n rIFL a De g luOwd e GKdRL e x n xIIq g uKmA i I n IPuF e QvFM . xLEY c cMetZ o Gtv m qNSFZ You dismissed this ad. The feedback you provide will help us show you more relevant content in the future. Undo Answer Wiki 12 Answers Christopher Story

Christopher Story Lives in Hawai'i 25.3k answer views 788 this month Christopher Story Christopher Story Answered Sep 1 2015 · Author has 64 answers and 25.3k answer views One could say that an ideology is a religion if and only if it is theocratic, but I find Yuval Harari's understanding of religion less arbitrary and more compelling.

"Religion is any system of human norms and values that is founded on a belief in superhuman laws. Religion tells us that we must obey certain laws that were not invented by humans, and that humans cannot change at will. Some religions, such as Islam, Christianity and Hinduism, believe that these super-human laws were created by the gods. Other religions, such as Buddhism, Communism and Nazism, believe that these super-human laws are natural laws. Thus Buddhists believe in the natural laws of karma, Nazis argued that their ideology reflected the laws of natural selection, and Communists believe that they follow the natural laws of economics. No matter whether they believe in divine laws or in natural laws, all religions have exactly the same function: to give legitimacy to human norms and values, and to give stability to human institutions such as states and corporations. Without some kind of religion, it is simply impossible to maintain social order. During the modern era religions that believe in divine laws went into eclipse. But religions that believe in natural laws became ever more powerful. In the future, they are likely to become more powerful yet. Silicon Valley, for example, is today a hot-house of new techno-religions, that promise humankind paradise here on earth with the help of new technology."

[Apr 27, 2019] Angry Bear " Free Speech, Safety and the Triumph of Neoliberalism

Apr 27, 2019 | angrybearblog.com

My reading is that the core psychological principle of neoliberalism, that life is an accumulation of moments of utility and disutility, is alive and well within certain sectors of the "left". A speech (or email or comment at a meeting) should be evaluated by how it makes us feel, and no one should have the right to make us feel bad.

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  1. likbez , April 27, 2019 12:07 am

    My reading is that the core psychological principle of neoliberalism, that life is an accumulation of moments of utility and disutility, is alive and well within certain sectors of the "left". A speech (or email or comment at a meeting) should be evaluated by how it makes us feel, and no one should have the right to make us feel bad.

    Not sure about this "utility/disutility" dichotomy (probably you mean market fundamentalism -- belief that market ( and market mechanisms) is a self regulating, supernaturally predictive force that will guide human beings to the neoliberal Heavens), but, yes, neoliberalism infected the "left" and, especially, Democratic Party which was converted by Clinton into greedy and corrupt "DemoRats' subservient to Wall Street and antagonistic to the trade unions. And to the second War Party, which in certain areas is even more jingoistic and aggressive then Republicans (Obama color revolution in Ukraine is one example; Hillary Libya destruction is another; both were instrumental in unleashing the civil war on Syria and importing Muslim fundamentalists to fight it).

    It might make sense to view neoliberalism as a new secular religion which displaced Marxism on the world arena (and collapse of the USSR was in part the result of the collapse of Marxism as an ideology under onslaught of neoliberalism; although bribes of USSR functionaries and mismanagement of the economy due to over centralization -- country as a single gigantic corporation -- also greatly help) .

    Neoliberalism demonstrates the same level of intolerance (and actually series of wars somewhat similar to Crusades) as any monotheistic religion in early stages of its development.

    Because at this stage any adept knows the truth and to believe in this truth is to be saved; everything else is eternal damnation (aka living under "authoritarian regime") .

    And so far there is nothing that will force the neoliberal/neocon Torquemadas to abandon their loaded with bombs jets as the tool of enlightenment of pagan states 😉

    Simplifying, neoliberalism can be viewed an a masterfully crafted, internally consistent amalgam of myths and pseudo theories (partially borrowed from Trotskyism) that justifies the rule of financial oligarchy and high level inequality in the society (redistribution of the wealth up). Kind of Trotskyism for the rich with the same idea of Permanent Revolution until global victory of neoliberalism.

    That's why neoliberals charlatans like Hayek and Friedman were dusted off, given Nobel Prices and promoted to the top in economics: they were very helpful and pretty skillful in forging neoliberal myths. Especially Hayek. A second rate economist who proved to be first class theologian .

    Promoting "neoliberal salvation" was critical for the achieving the political victory of neoliberalism in late 1979th and discrediting and destroying the remnants of the New Deal capitalism (already undermined at this time by the oil crisis)

    Neoliberalism has led to the rise of corporate (especially financial oligarchy) power and an open war on labor. New Deal policies aimed at full employment and job security have been replaced with ones that aim at flexibility in the form of unstable employment, job loss and rising inequality.

    This hypotheses helps to explain why neoliberalism as a social system survived after its ideology collapsed in 2008 -- it just entered zombie stage like Bolshevism after WWII when it became clear that it can't achieve higher standard of living for the population then capitalism.

    Latest mutation of classic neoliberalism into "national neoliberalism" under Trump shows that it has great ability to adapt to the changing conditions. And neoliberalism survived in Russia under Putin and Medvedev as well, despite economic rape that Western neoliberals performed on Russia under Yeltsin with the help of Harvard mafia.

    That's why despite widespread criticism, neoliberalism remains the dominant politico-economic theory amongst policy-makers both in the USA and internationally. All key global neoliberal global institutions, such as the G20, European Union, IMF, World bank, and WTO still survived intact and subscribe to neoliberalism. .

[Apr 27, 2019] Why despite widespread criticism, neoliberalism remains the dominant politico-economic theory amongst policy-makers both in the USA and internationally

Highly recommended!
Apr 27, 2019 | angrybearblog.com

My reading is that the core psychological principle of neoliberalism, that life is an accumulation of moments of utility and disutility, is alive and well within certain sectors of the "left". A speech (or email or comment at a meeting) should be evaluated by how it makes us feel, and no one should have the right to make us feel bad.

Not sure about this "utility/disutility" dichotomy (probably you mean market fundamentalism -- belief that market ( and market mechanisms) is a self regulating, supernaturally predictive force that will guide human beings to the neoliberal Heavens), but, yes, neoliberalism infected the "left" and, especially, Democratic Party which was converted by Clinton into greedy and corrupt "DemoRats' subservient to Wall Street and antagonistic to the trade unions. And into the second War Party, which in certain areas is even more jingoistic and aggressive then Republicans (Obama color revolution in Ukraine is one example; Hillary Libya destruction is another; both were instrumental in unleashing the civil war on Syria and importing and arming Muslim fundamentalists to fight it).

It might make sense to view neoliberalism as a new secular religion which displaced Marxism on the world arena (and collapse of the USSR was in part the result of the collapse of Marxism as an ideology under onslaught of neoliberalism; although bribes of USSR functionaries and mismanagement of the economy due to over centralization -- country as a single gigantic corporation -- also greatly helped) .

Neoliberalism demonstrates the same level of intolerance (and actually series of wars somewhat similar to Crusades) as any monotheistic religion in early stages of its development. Because at this stage any adept knows the truth and to believe in this truth is to be saved; everything else is eternal damnation (aka living under "authoritarian regime" ;-) .

And so far there is nothing that will force the neoliberal/neocon Torquemadas to abandon their loaded with bombs jets as the tool of enlightenment of pagan states ;-)

Simplifying, neoliberalism can be viewed an a masterfully crafted, internally consistent amalgam of myths and pseudo theories (partially borrowed from Trotskyism) that justifies the rule of financial oligarchy and high level inequality in the society (redistribution of the wealth up). Kind of Trotskyism for the rich with the same idea of Permanent Revolution until global victory of neoliberalism.

That's why neoliberals charlatans like Hayek and Friedman were dusted off, given Nobel Prizes and promoted to the top in economics: they were very helpful and pretty skillful in forging neoliberal myths. Especially Hayek. A second rate economist who proved to be the first class theologian .

Promoting "neoliberal salvation" was critical for the achieving the political victory of neoliberalism in late 1979th and discrediting and destroying the remnants of the New Deal capitalism (already undermined at this time by the oil crisis)

Neoliberalism has led to the rise of corporate (especially financial oligarchy) power and an open war on labor. New Deal policies aimed at full employment and job security have been replaced with ones that aim at flexibility in the form of unstable employment, job loss and rising inequality.

This hypotheses helps to explain why neoliberalism as a social system survived after its ideology collapsed in 2008 -- it just entered zombie stage like Bolshevism after WWII when it became clear that it can't achieve higher standard of living for the population then capitalism.

Latest mutation of classic neoliberalism into "national neoliberalism" under Trump shows that it has great ability to adapt to the changing conditions. And neoliberalism survived in Russia under Putin and Medvedev as well, despite economic rape that Western neoliberals performed on Russia under Yeltsin with the help of Harvard mafia.

That's why despite widespread criticism, neoliberalism remains the dominant politico-economic theory amongst policy-makers both in the USA and internationally. All key global neoliberal global institutions, such as the G20, European Union, IMF, World bank, and WTO still survived intact and subscribe to neoliberalism. .

Neoliberalism has led to the rise of corporate (especially financial oligarchy) power and an open war on labor. New Deal policies aimed at full employment and job security have been replaced with ones that aim at flexibility in the form of unstable employment, job loss and rising inequality.

This hypotheses helps to explain why neoliberalism as a social system survived after its ideology collapsed in 2008 -- it just entered zombie stage like Bolshevism after WWII when it became clear that it can't achieve higher standard of living for the population then capitalism.

Latest mutation of classic neoliberalism into "national neoliberalism" under Trump shows that it has great ability to adapt to the changing conditions.

that's why despite widespread criticism, neoliberalism remains the dominant politico-economic theory amongst policy-makers both in the USA and internationally. All key global neoliberal global institutions, such as the G20, European Union, IMF, World bank, and WTO still survived intact and subscribe to neoliberalism. .

[Feb 11, 2019] Furthermore, the previous religious systems, even if they were packed with big lies, never cut the link between people and the sky. Today, in cutting this link, cutting morality, they have reduced people to a level even below the animal state since with the intelligence, human behavior can be worse than most animals' behavior.

Notable quotes:
"... The "New World Order" is responsible for what is happening. In this new religion, you have the grand priests (the elite to be found in Davos) and the common. They don't want to see that the diversity of the common is the main source of the creativity of the human species. Furthermore, the previous religious systems, even if they were packed with big lies, never cut the link between people and the sky. Today, in cutting this link, they have reduced people to a level even below the animal state since with the intelligence, human behavior can be worse than most animals' behavior. ..."
Feb 11, 2019 | www.unz.com

Jean de Peyrelongue , says: Website February 3, 2019 at 10:42 am GMT

The "New World Order" is responsible for what is happening. In this new religion, you have the grand priests (the elite to be found in Davos) and the common. They don't want to see that the diversity of the common is the main source of the creativity of the human species. Furthermore, the previous religious systems, even if they were packed with big lies, never cut the link between people and the sky. Today, in cutting this link, they have reduced people to a level even below the animal state since with the intelligence, human behavior can be worse than most animals' behavior.

This human sickness is now pandemic and to save humanity will require some kind of a tsunami. Nobody today wants to loose anything, and in doing so everybody is just pushing the system down the drain.

Another point: families, clans, nations are structures allowing people to develop roots. They are not the causes of war but it is true that these structures can be manipulated to generate wars in the interest of some "elite" (the poor get killed and the elite, gets richer). Reconciliation between people does not require to erase structures but to eliminate the bad guys manipulating them (the Jihadists, the terrorists and their Bosses which are today mostly in Washington, Wall Street and Riyadh)

Justsaying , says: February 3, 2019 at 4:29 pm GMT
@apollonian

and essence of Christianity and Christian civilization is reason and objective reality, necessary basis of TRUTH (= Christ)

My goodness! The essence of any religion -- - basically a mix of unsubstantiated superstition and blind faith depending on no verifiable evidence -- - to be equated with reason and objective reality, phenomena more aligned with the scientific method and culture is patently absurd. And to quote a book written when the earth was still thought a flat, anthropocentric mass and stars perched in the heavens as glittering divine ornaments? I rest my case.

[Jan 29, 2019] The Religious Fanaticism of Silicon Valley Elites by Paul Ingrassia

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... As our society rushes toward technological ataraxia , it may do us some good to ponder the costs of what has become Silicon Valley's new religious covenant. For the enlightened technocrat and the venture capitalist, God is long dead and buried, democracy sundered, the American dream lost. These beliefs they keep hush-hushed, out of earshot of their consumer base. Best not to run afoul of the millions of middle-class Americans who have developed slavish devotions to their smartphones and tablets and Echo Dots, pouring billions into the coffers of the ballooning technocracy. ..."
"... The problem with Silicon Valley elites is a bit simpler than that. They are all very smart, but their knowledge is limited. They know everything about electronics, computers, and coding, but know little of history, philosophy, or the human condition. Hence they see everything as an engineering problem, something with an optimal, measurable solution. ..."
"... As Tucker Carlson is realizing, Artificial Intelligence eliminating around 55% of all jobs (as the Future of Employment study found) so that wealthy people can have more disposable income to demand other services also provided by robots is madness. This is religious devotion either to defacto anarcho-capitalism, transhumanism, or both. ..."
"... @TheSnark -- valid observation: The Silicon Valley elites " know everything about electronics, computers, and coding, but know little of history, philosophy, or the human condition." Religion is not an engineering issue. Knowing a little about history, philosophy, human condition would help them to understand that humans need something for their soul. And the human soul is not described by boolean "1"s or "0"s ..."
"... Zuckerberg's comment about the Roman Empire is bizzare.to say the least. Augustus didn't create "200 years of peace". The Roman Empire was constantly conquering its neighbors. And of the first 5 Roman Emperors, Augustus was the only one who defintly died of natural causes ..."
"... This time period was an extremely violent time period. The fact that Zuckerberg doesn't realize this, indicates to me that while he is smart at creating a business, he is basically a pseudo-intellectual ..."
Jan 10, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

They've rejected God and tradition in favor of an egoistic radicalism that sees their fellow man as expendable.

As our society rushes toward technological ataraxia , it may do us some good to ponder the costs of what has become Silicon Valley's new religious covenant. For the enlightened technocrat and the venture capitalist, God is long dead and buried, democracy sundered, the American dream lost. These beliefs they keep hush-hushed, out of earshot of their consumer base. Best not to run afoul of the millions of middle-class Americans who have developed slavish devotions to their smartphones and tablets and Echo Dots, pouring billions into the coffers of the ballooning technocracy.

While Silicon Valley types delay giving their own children screens, knowing full well their deleterious effects on cognitive and social development (not to mention their addictive qualities), they hardly bat an eye when handing these gadgets to our middle class. Some of our Silicon oligarchs have gone so far as to call these products "demonic," yet on they go ushering them into schools, ruthlessly agnostic as to whatever reckoning this might have for future generations.

As they do this, their political views seem to become more radical by the day. They as a class represent the junction of meritocracy and the soft nihilism that has infiltrated almost every major institution in contemporary society. By day they inveigh against guns and walls and inequality; by night they decamp into multimillion-dollar bunkers, safeguarded against the rest of the world, shamelessly indifferent to their blatant hypocrisy. This cognitive dissonance results in a plundering worldview, one whose consequences are not yet fully understood but are certainly catastrophic. Its early casualties already include some of the most fundamental elements of American civil society: privacy, freedom of thought, even truth itself.

​Hence a recent New York Times profile of Silicon Valley's anointed guru, Yuval Harari. Harari is an Israeli futurist-philosopher whose apocalyptic forecasts, made in books like Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow , have tantalized some of the biggest names on the political and business scenes, including Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg. The Times portrays Harari as gloomy about the modern world and especially its embrace of technology:

Part of the reason might be that Silicon Valley, at a certain level, is not optimistic on the future of democracy. The more of a mess Washington becomes, the more interested the tech world is in creating something else, and it might not look like elected representation. Rank-and-file coders have long been wary of regulation and curious about alternative forms of government. A separatist streak runs through the place: Venture capitalists periodically call for California to secede or shatter, or for the creation of corporate nation-states. And this summer, Mark Zuckerberg, who has recommended Mr. Harari to his book club, acknowledged a fixation with the autocrat Caesar Augustus. "Basically," Mr. Zuckerberg told The New Yorker, "through a really harsh approach, he established 200 years of world peace."

Harari understands that liberal democracy is in peril, and he's taken it upon himself to act as a foil to the anxieties of the elite class. In return, they regale him with lavish dinner parties and treat him like their maharishi. Yet from reading the article, one gets the impression that, at least in Harari's view, this is but a facade, or what psychologists call "reaction formation." In other words, by paying lip service to Harari, who is skeptical of their designs, our elites hope to spare themselves from incurring any moral responsibility for the costs of their social engineering. And "social engineering" is not a farfetched term to use. A portion of the Times article interrogates the premise of Aldous Huxley's dystopian 1932 novel Brave New World , which tells the story of a totalitarian regime that has anesthetized a docile underclass into blind submission:

As we boarded the black gull-wing Tesla Mr. Harari had rented for his visit, he brought up Aldous Huxley. Generations have been horrified by his novel "Brave New World," which depicts a regime of emotion control and painless consumption. Readers who encounter the book today, Mr. Harari said, often think it sounds great. "Everything is so nice, and in that way it is an intellectually disturbing book because you're really hard-pressed to explain what's wrong with it," he said. "And you do get today a vision coming out of some people in Silicon Valley which goes in that direction."

Here, Harari divulges with brutal frankness the indisputable link between private atheism and political thought. Lacking an immutable ontology, man is left in the desert, unmoored from anything to keep his insatiable passions in check. His pride entices him into playing the role of God.

Big Government Isn't the Way to Fix Big Tech The Tech Giants Must Be Stopped

At one point in the article, Harari wonders why we should even maintain a low-skilled "useless" class, whose work is doomed to disappear over the next several decades, replaced by artificial intelligence. "You're totally expendable," Harari tells his audience. This is why, the Times says, the Silicon elites recommend social engineering solutions like universal income to try and mitigate the more unpleasant effects of that "useless" class. They seem unaware (or at least they're incapable of admitting) that human nature is imperfect, sinful, and can never be perfected from on high. Since many of the Silicon breed reject the possibility of a timeless, intelligent metaphysics (to say nothing of Christianity), such truisms about our natures go over their heads. Metaphysics aside, the fact that our elites are even thinking this way to begin with -- that technology may render an entire underclass "expendable" -- is in itself cause for concern. (As Keynes once quipped, "In the long run we are all dead.")

Harari seems to have a vendetta against traditions -- which can be extrapolated to the tradition of Western civilization writ large -- for long considering homosexuality aberrant. He is quoted as saying, "If society got this thing wrong, who guarantees it didn't get everything else wrong as well?" Thus do the Silicon elites have the audacity to shirk their entire Western birthright, handed down to them across generations, in the name of creating a utopia oriented around a modern, hyper-individualistic view of man.

When man abandons God, he begins to channel his religious desire, more devouring than even his sexual instinct, into other worldly outlets. Thus has modern liberalism evolved from a political school of thought into an out-and-out ecclesiology, one that perverts elements of Christian dogma into technocratic channels. (Of course, one can debate whether this was liberalism's intent in the first place.) Our elites have crafted for themselves a new religion. Humility to them is nothing more than a vice.

The reason the elites are entertaining alternatives to democracy is because they know that so long as we adhere to constitutional government -- our American system, even in its severely compromised form -- we are bound to the utterly natural constraints hardwired by our framers (who, by the way, revered Aristotle and Jesus). Realizing this, they seek alternative forms in Silicon Valley social engineering projects, hoping to create a regime that will conform to their megalomaniacal fancies.

If there is a silver lining in all this, it's that in the real word, any such attempt to base a political regime on naked ego is bound to fail. Such things have been tried before, in our lifetimes, no less, and they have never worked because they cannot work. Man should never be made the center of the universe because, per impossible, there is already a natural order that cannot be breached. May he come to realize this sooner rather than later. And may Mr. Harari's wildest nightmares never come to fruition.

Paul Ingrassia is a co-host of the Right on Point podcast. To listen to his podcast, click here .


Fran Macadam , January 10, 2019 at 2:58 am

"in the real word, any such attempt to base a political regime on naked ego is bound to fail. Such things have been tried before, in our lifetimes, no less, and they have never worked because they cannot work."

But they can create hells on earth for many decades, in which millions are consumed, until played out.

George Crosley , , January 10, 2019 at 7:47 am
As Kipling so aptly put it, in the final stanzas of a poem:

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

madge , , January 10, 2019 at 9:03 am
"The reason the elites are entertaining alternatives to democracy is because they know that so long as we adhere to constitutional government -- our American system, even in its severely compromised form -- we are bound to the utterly natural constraints hardwired by our framers (who, by the way, revered Aristotle and Jesus)."

Um, you do know that one of the gravest dangers the founders feared was democracy? And the bulwarks they put in place are all meant to constraint majority rule? Now, if the argument you are making that the elites have so corrupted the hoi polloi that only rule by a minority of REAL AMERICANS can save us, say so, don't do the idiotic dodge of invoking democratic arguments while obviously advocating minority rule.

TheSnark , , January 10, 2019 at 10:23 am
The problem with Silicon Valley elites is a bit simpler than that. They are all very smart, but their knowledge is limited. They know everything about electronics, computers, and coding, but know little of history, philosophy, or the human condition. Hence they see everything as an engineering problem, something with an optimal, measurable solution.

As a result, they do not even understand the systems they have built; witness Zuckerberg struggling to get Facebook under control.

If they go the way the author fears it will be by accident, not design. Despite their smarts, they really don't know what they are doing in terms of society.

CLW , , January 10, 2019 at 3:07 pm
This is an interesting topic meriting serous thought and analysis; instead, we get corny, hyperbolic alarmism. You can do better than this, TAC.
Sisera , , January 10, 2019 at 8:05 pm

As Tucker Carlson is realizing, Artificial Intelligence eliminating around 55% of all jobs (as the Future of Employment study found) so that wealthy people can have more disposable income to demand other services also provided by robots is madness. This is religious devotion either to defacto anarcho-capitalism, transhumanism, or both.

They're literally selling out human existence for their own myopic short-term gain, yet have a moral superiority complex. I suppose the consensus is that the useless class gets welfare depending on their social credit score. Maybe sterilization will lead to a higher social credits score. Dark days are coming.

Great article.

peterc , , January 11, 2019 at 12:33 pm
@TheSnark -- valid observation: The Silicon Valley elites " know everything about electronics, computers, and coding, but know little of history, philosophy, or the human condition." Religion is not an engineering issue. Knowing a little about history, philosophy, human condition would help them to understand that humans need something for their soul. And the human soul is not described by boolean "1"s or "0"s
R Henry , , January 11, 2019 at 2:14 pm
Western Culture is struggling to adapt to the new communication technologies that inhabit the Internet. That the developers of these technologies see themselves as gods of a sort is entirely consistent with human history and nature.

The best historical example of how new communication technology can change society occurred about 500 years ago, when the printing press was developed in Europe. A theologian and professor named Martin Luther (Perhaps you have heard of him?) composed a list of 95 discussion questions regarding the then-current activities of The Church. That list, known as the "95 Theses" was posted on the chapel door in Wittenburg, Germany. Before long, the list was transcribed and published. The list, and many responses, were distributed throughout Europe. The Protestant Reformation was sparked.

The Press and Protestant Reformation it launched remains a primary foundation of today's Western Culture. It has initiated much violence, much dissension, war with millions of deaths, The Enlightenment, and much else. The printing press ushered in the modern era.

Just as the printing press enabled profound change in the world 500 years ago, The Internet is prompting similar disruption today. I think we are in the early stages, and estimate that our great great grandchildren will be among the first to fully appreciate what has been gained and lost as a result of this technology.

grumpy realist , , January 11, 2019 at 4:12 pm
So the arrogance of religious believers convinced that they know "the TRUTH!", are the only ones to do so, and are justified in forcing non-believers to act as "God says!" is to be completely ignored?

Methinks we're seeing a huge case of projection here .

Frederick , , January 12, 2019 at 12:03 am
The problem is also that once those religious foundations are gone, they don't come back easily. How can you talk to an atheist/muslim/buddhist who doesn't even believe that lying is always sin? People in the west have started to think that all our nice freedoms and comfort have magically come from the heart of humans, that we are all somehow equal and want the same things but the bible tells us the real story: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.

Then we have religions who fundamentally do not even view death as a problem. Now this is where we enter the danger zone. In the west we have lived on such a good, superior Christian foundation we seem to have forgotten how truly horrible and inferior the alternatives are. Suddenly you get people who endorse cannibalism and child sacrifice again, I have seen this myself. How do you even explain to somebody that this is wrong when he fundamentally disagrees on the morality of killing?

People don't understand that Christian morality was hard fought for, they refuse to understand that human beings do not have a magical switch that makes them disapprove of murder.

Thousands were burned alive in England just for wanting to read the bible. It is like a technological innovation. We found a trick in the human condition, we discovered the truth about humanity. Now these coddled silicon valley people who have grown up in a Christian society with Christian morality and protections in their arrogance think that Christian behavior is the base of human morality anyway and needs no protection. Thanks to them in no small part the entire world is currently doing its utmost to reject the reality of the bible. We see insane propositions that say we should not judge people. Or that everyone is equal. Of course the bible never says that with the meaning they imply, but it was coopted beautifully for their own evil agenda. Yes evil, did I mention that our technocratic genius overlords don't believe in that either?

How can you talk with somebody that has rejected the most base truths of human life. How can you say a murderer is equal to a non-criminal? You must understand that these new age fake Christians truly think like this, they truly believe that everyone is equal. You can't allow yourself to think that 'oh they just mean we are all equal like.. on a human level, in our humanity'. Nono, I made the mistake to be too charitable with them. They actually think we are all equal no matter what. I found it hard to believe that we have degenerated so much, I have been in a quasi state of shock for a long time over this.

Pete from Baltimore , , January 12, 2019 at 8:57 am
Zuckerberg's comment about the Roman Empire is bizzare.to say the least. Augustus didn't create "200 years of peace". The Roman Empire was constantly conquering its neighbors. And of the first 5 Roman Emperors, Augustus was the only one who defintly died of natural causes

This time period was an extremely violent time period. The fact that Zuckerberg doesn't realize this, indicates to me that while he is smart at creating a business, he is basically a pseudo-intellectual

Connecticut Farmer , , January 12, 2019 at 10:09 am
" one of the gravest dangers the founders feared was democracy?"

Wrong! They didn't fear democracy per se', only democracy run amok, hence the checks and balances

[Dec 09, 2018] Prosperity theology - Wikipedia

In Christian tradition, the love of money is condemned as a sin primarily based on texts such as Ecclesiastes 5.10 and 1 Timothy 6:10. The Jewish and Christian condemnation relates to avarice and greed rather than money itself. Christian texts (scriptures) are full of parables and use easy to understand subjects, such as money, to convey the actual message, there are further parallels in Solon and Aristotle,[1] and Massinissa-who ascribed love of money to Hannibal and the Carthaginians.[2].
Avarice is one of the Seven deadly sins in the Christian classifications of vices (sins). The Catholic Church forbids usury.
While certain political ideologies, such as neoliberalism, assume and promote the view that the behavior that capitalism fosters in individuals is natural to humans,[2][3] anthropologists like Richard Robbins point out that there is nothing natural about this behavior - people are not naturally dispossessed to accumulate wealth and driven by wage-labor
Neoliberalism abstract the economic sphere from other aspects of society (politics, culture, family etc., with any political activity constituting an intervention into the natural process of the market, for example) and assume that people make rational exchanges in the sphere of market transactions. In reality rational economic exchanges are actually heavily influenced by pre-existing social ties and other factors.
Under neoliberalism both the society and culture revolve around business activity (the accumulation of capital). As such, business activity and the "free market" exchange (despite the fact that "free market" never existed in human history) are often viewed as being absolute or "natural" in that all other human social relations revolve around these processes (or should exist to facilitate one's ability to perform these processes
Notable quotes:
"... Conwell equated poverty with sin and asserted that anyone could become rich through hard work. This gospel of wealth, however, was an expression of Muscular Christianity and understood success to be the result of personal effort rather than divine intervention. [5] ..."
"... They criticized many aspects of the prosperity gospel, noting particularly the tendency of believers to lack compassion for the poor, since their poverty was seen as a sign that they had not followed the rules and therefore are not loved by God ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | en.wikipedia.org
[Video] Interview with Kate Bowler on Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel , March 18, 2014 , C-SPAN

According to historian Kate Bowler , the prosperity gospel was formed from the intersection of three different ideologies: Pentecostalism , New Thought , and "an American gospel of pragmatism, individualism, and upward mobility". [4] This "American gospel" was best exemplified by Andrew Carnegie 's Gospel of Wealth and Russell Conwell 's famous sermon "Acres of Diamonds", in which Conwell equated poverty with sin and asserted that anyone could become rich through hard work. This gospel of wealth, however, was an expression of Muscular Christianity and understood success to be the result of personal effort rather than divine intervention. [5]

... ... ...

In 2005, Matthew Ashimolowo , the founder of the largely African Kingsway International Christian Centre in southern England, which preaches a "health and wealth" gospel and collects regular tithes, was ordered by the Charity Commission to repay money he had appropriated for his personal use. In 2017, the organisation was under criminal investigation after a leading member was found by a court in 2015 to have operated a Ponzi scheme between 2007 and 2011, losing or spending £8 million of investors' money. [43]

... ... ...

The inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States featured prayers from two preachers known for advocating prosperity theology. [45] Paula White , one of Trump's spiritual advisers, gave the invocation. [46]

... ... ...

36] Hanna Rosin of The Atlantic argues that prosperity theology contributed to the housing bubble that caused the late-2000s financial crisis . She maintains that home ownership was heavily emphasized in prosperity churches, based on reliance on divine financial intervention that led to unwise choices based on actual financial ability. [36]

... ... ...

Historian Carter Lindberg of Boston University has drawn parallels between contemporary prosperity theology and the medieval indulgence trade . [69] Coleman notes that several pre–20th century Christian movements in the United States taught that a holy lifestyle was a path to prosperity and that God-ordained hard work would bring blessing. [16]

... ... ...

In April 2015, LDS apostle Dallin H. Oaks stated that people who believe in "the theology of prosperity" are deceived by riches. He continued by saying that the "possession of wealth or significant income is not a mark of heavenly favor, and their absence is not evidence of heavenly disfavor". He also cited how Jesus differentiated the attitudes towards money held by the young rich man in Mark 10:17–24, the good Samaritan, and Judas Iscariot in his betrayal. Oaks concluded this portion of his sermon by highlighting that the "root of all evil is not money but the love of money". [90]

In 2015, well known pastor and prosperity gospel advocate Creflo Dollar launched a fundraising campaign to replace a previous private jet with a $65 million Gulfstream G650. [91] On the August 16, 2015 episode of his HBO weekly series Last Week Tonight , John Oliver satirized prosperity theology by announcing that he had established his own tax-exempt church, called Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption . In a lengthy segment, Oliver focused on what he characterized as the predatory conduct of televangelists who appeal for repeated gifts from people in financial distress or personal crises, and he criticized the very loose requirements for entities to obtain tax exempt status as churches under U.S. tax law. Oliver said that he would ultimately donate any money collected by the church to Doctors Without Borders . [92]

In July 2018, Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa, in the Jesuit journal La Civilità Cattolica , examined the origins of the prosperity gospel in the United States and described it as a reductive version of the American Dream which had offered opportunities of success and prosperity unreachable in the Old World . The authors distinguished the prosperity gospel from Max Weber 's Protestant ethic , noting that the protestant ethic related prosperity to religiously inspired austerity while the prosperity gospel saw prosperity as the simple result of personal faith. They criticized many aspects of the prosperity gospel, noting particularly the tendency of believers to lack compassion for the poor, since their poverty was seen as a sign that they had not followed the rules and therefore are not loved by God . [93] [94]

[Dec 09, 2018] Neoliberalism us the economic stablemate of big religion's Prosperity Evangelism cult

Dec 09, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Alan Ritchie , 31 Oct 2018 22:24

Neoliberalism, the economic stablemate of big religion's Prosperity Evangelism cult. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosperity_theology . Dual streams of bull shit to confuse the citizens while the Country's immense wealth is stolen.

[Dec 03, 2018] Neoliberalism is a modern curse. Everything about it is bad and until we're free of it, it will only ever keep trying to turn us into indentured labourers. It's acolytes are required to blind themselves to logic and reason to such a degree they resemble Scientologists or Jehovah's Witnesses more than people with any sort of coherent political ideology, because that's what neoliberalism actually is... a cult of the rich, for the rich, by the rich... and it's followers in the general population are nothing but moron familiars hoping one day to be made a fully fledged bastard.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... What sticks in the neoliberalism craw is that the state provides these services instead of private businesses, and as such "rob" them of juicy profits! The state, the last easy cash cow! ..."
"... Who could look at the way markets function and conclude there's any freedom? Only a neoliberal cult member. They cannot be reasoned with. They cannot be dissuaded. They cannot be persuaded. Only the market knows best, and the fact that the market is a corrupt, self serving whore is completely ignored by the ideology of their Church. ..."
"... when Thatcher and Reagan deregulated the financial markets in the 80s, that's when the trouble began which in turn led to the immense crash in 2008. ..."
"... Neo-liberalism is just another symptom of liberal democracy which is government by oligarchs with a veneer of democracy ..."
"... The state has merged with the corporations so that what is good for the corporations is good for the state and visa versa. The larger and richer the state/corporations are, the more shyster lawyers they hire to disguise misdeeds and unethical behavior. ..."
"... If you support a big government, you are supporting big corporations as well. The government uses the taxpayer as an eternal fount of fresh money and calls it their own to spend as they please. Small businesses suffer unfairly because they cannot afford the shyster lawyers and accountants that protect the government and the corporations, but nobody cares about them. ..."
"... Deborah's point about the illogical demands of neoliberalism are indeed correct, which is somewhat ironic as neoliberalism puts objective rationality at the heart of its philosophy, but I digress... ..."
"... There would not be NHS, free education etc. without socialism; in fact they are socialism. It took the Soviet-style socialism ("statism") 70 years to collapse. The neoliberalistic capitalism has already started to collapse after 30 years. ..."
"... I'm always amused that neoliberal - indeed, capitalist - apologists cannot see the hypocrisy of their demands for market access. Communities create and sustain markets, fund and maintain infrastructure, produce and maintain new consumers. Yet the neolibs decry and destroy. Hypocrites or destructive numpties - never quite decided between Pickles and Gove ..."
"... 97% of all OUR money has been handed over to these scheming crooks. Stop bailing out the banks with QE. Take back what is ours -- state control over the creation of money. Then let the banks revert to their modest market-based function of financial intermediaries. ..."
"... The State can't be trusted to create our money? Well they could hardly do a worse job than the banks! Best solution would be to distribute state-created money as a Citizen's Income. ..."
"... To promote the indecent obsession for global growth Australia, burdened with debt of around 250 billion dollars, is to borrow and pay interest on a further 7 billion dollars to lend to the International Monetary Fund so as it can lend it to poorer nations to burden them with debt. ..."
Dec 03, 2018 | www.theguardian.com
szwalby , 8 Jun 2013 06:03
This private good, public bad is a stupid idea, and a totally artificial divide. After all, what are "public spends"? It is the money from private individuals, and companies, clubbing together to get services they can't individually afford.

What sticks in the neoliberalism craw is that the state provides these services instead of private businesses, and as such "rob" them of juicy profits! The state, the last easy cash cow!

TedSmithAndSon , 8 Jun 2013 06:01
Neoliberalism is a modern curse. Everything about it is bad and until we're free of it, it will only ever keep trying to turn us into indentured labourers. It's acolytes are required to blind themselves to logic and reason to such a degree they resemble Scientologists or Jehovah's Witnesses more than people with any sort of coherent political ideology, because that's what neoliberalism actually is... a cult of the rich, for the rich, by the rich... and it's followers in the general population are nothing but moron familiars hoping one day to be made a fully fledged bastard.

Who could look at the way markets function and conclude there's any freedom? Only a neoliberal cult member. They cannot be reasoned with. They cannot be dissuaded. They cannot be persuaded. Only the market knows best, and the fact that the market is a corrupt, self serving whore is completely ignored by the ideology of their Church.

It's subsumed the entire planet, and waiting for them to see sense is a hopeless cause. In the end it'll probably take violence to rid us of the Neoliberal parasite... the turn of the century plague.

fr0mn0where -> CaptainGrey , 8 Jun 2013 05:51
@CaptainGrey -

"Capitalism, especially the beneficial capitalism of the NHS, free education etc. has won and countless people have gained as a result."

I agree with you and it was this beneficial version of capitalism that brought down the Iron Curtain. Working people in the former Communist countries were comparing themselves with working people in the west and wanted a piece of that action. Cuba has hung on because people there compare themselves with their nearest capitalist neighbor Haiti and they don't want a piece of that action. North Korea well North Korea is North Korea.

Isn't it this beneficial capitalism that is being threatened now though? When the wall came down it was assumed that Eastern European countries would become more like us. Some have but who would have thought that British working people would now be told, by the likes of Kwasi Kwarteng and his Britannia Unchained chums, that we have to learn to accept working conditions that are more like those in the Eastern European countries that got left behind and that we are now told that our version of Capitalism is inferior to the version adopted by the Communist Party of China?

jazzdrum -> bullwinkle , 8 Jun 2013 05:51
@bullwinkle - No , when Thatcher and Reagan deregulated the financial markets in the 80s, that's when the trouble began which in turn led to the immense crash in 2008.
Eddiel899 , 8 Jun 2013 05:51
Neo-liberalism is just another symptom of liberal democracy which is government by oligarchs with a veneer of democracy.

This type of government began in America about 150 years ago with the Rockefellers, Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, Ford etc who took advantage of new inventions, cheap immigrant labour and financial deregulation in finance and social mores to amass wealth for themselves and chaos and austerity for workers.

All this looks familiar again today with new and old oligarchs hiding behind large corporations taking advantage of the invention of the €uro, mass immigration into western Europe and deregulation of the financial "markets" and social mores to amass wealth for a super-wealthy elite and chaos and austerity for workers.

So if we want to see where things went wrong we need only go back 150 years to what happened to America. There we can also see our future?

WilliamAshbless -> CaptainGrey , 8 Jun 2013 05:49
@CaptainGrey

The beneficial capitalism of the NHS, free education etc. has won

Free education and the NHS are state institutions. As Debbie said, Amazon never taught anyone to read. Beneficial capitalism is an oxymoron resulting from your lack of understanding.

cpp4ever -> CaptainGrey , 8 Jun 2013 05:41
@CaptainGrey -

especially the beneficial capitalism of the NHS, free education etc. has won and countless people have gained as a result.

At one and the same time being privatized and having their funding squeezed, a direct result of the neoliberal dogma capitalism of austerity. Free access is being eroded by the likes of ever larger student loans and prescription costs for a start.

ATrueFinn -> SpinningHugo , 8 Jun 2013 05:41
@ SpinningHugo 08 June 2013 10:02am .

Nah. They achieved this by copying the west.

I would not go that far. The Western Capitalist Party is only now getting to be as powerful as CCP and China started the "reforms" in the late 1970s.

succulentpork , 8 Jun 2013 05:36

they avoid their taxes, because they can, because they are more powerful than governments

Let's not get carried away here. Let's consider some of the things governments can do, subject only to a 5 yearly check and challenge:

  1. force people upon pain of imprisonment to pay taxes to them
  2. pay out that tax money to whomever they like
  3. spend money they don't have by borrowing against obligations imposed on future taxpayers without their agreement
  4. kill people in wars, often from the comfort of a computer screen thousands of miles away
  5. print money and give it to whomever they like,
  6. get rid of nation state currencies and replace them with a single, centrally controlled currency
  7. make laws and punish people who break them, including the ability to track them down in most places in the world if they try and run away.
  8. use laws to create monopolies and favour special interests

Let's now consider what power apple have...

- they can make iPhones and try to sell them for a profit by responding to the demands of the mass consumer market. That's it. In fact, they are forced to do this by their owners who only want them to do this, and nothing else. If they don't do this they will cease to exist.

generalelection , 8 Jun 2013 05:26
The state has merged with the corporations so that what is good for the corporations is good for the state and visa versa. The larger and richer the state/corporations are, the more shyster lawyers they hire to disguise misdeeds and unethical behavior.

If you support a big government, you are supporting big corporations as well. The government uses the taxpayer as an eternal fount of fresh money and calls it their own to spend as they please. Small businesses suffer unfairly because they cannot afford the shyster lawyers and accountants that protect the government and the corporations, but nobody cares about them. Remember, that Green Energy is big business, just like Big Pharma and Big Oil. Most government shills have personally invested in Green Energy not because they care about the environment, only because they know that it is a safe investment protected by government for government. The same goes for large corporations who befriend government and visa versa.

... ... ...

finnkn -> NeilThompson , 8 Jun 2013 05:20
@NeilThompson - It's all very well for Deborah to recommend that the well paid share work. Journalists, consultants and other assorted professionals can afford to do so. As a self-employed tradesman, I'd be homeless within a month.
finnkn -> SpinningHugo , 8 Jun 2013 05:17
@SpinningHugo - Interesting that those who are apparently concerned with prosperity for all and international solidarity are happy to ignore the rest of the world when it's going well, preferring to prophesy apocalypse when faced with government spending being slightly reduced at home.
sedan2 -> Fachan , 8 Jun 2013 05:11
@Fachan -

Dont see a lot of solutions in this article - as long as our sentiments revolve around envy of the rich, we wont get very far

Yeah, there actually wasn't anything in this article which even smelled of "envy of the rich". Read it again.

KingOfNothing -> 1nn1t , 8 Jun 2013 05:03
@1nn1t - That is a point which just isn't made enough. This is the first group of politicians for whom a global conflict seems like a distant event.

As a result we have people like Blair who see nothing wrong with invading countries at a whim, or conservatives and UKIP who fail to understand the whole point of the European Court of Human Rights.

They seem to act without thought of our true place in the world, without regard for the truly terrible capacity humanity has for self destruction.

REDLAN1 , 8 Jun 2013 05:03
Deborah's point about the illogical demands of neoliberalism are indeed correct, which is somewhat ironic as neoliberalism puts objective rationality at the heart of its philosophy, but I digress...

The main problem with replacing neoliberalism with a more rational, and fairer system, entails that people like Deborah accept that they will be less wealthy. And that my friends is the main problem. People like Deborah, while they are more than happy to point the fingers at others, are less than happy to accept that they are also part of the problem.

(Generalisation Caveat: I don't know in actuality if Deborah would be unhappy to be less wealthy in exchange for a fairer system, she doesn't say)

Herbolzheim , 8 Jun 2013 04:49
Good critique of conservative-neoliberalism, unless you subscribe to it and subordinate any morals or other values to it. She mentions an internal tension and I think that's because conservatism and neoliberal market ideology are different beasts.
NotAgainAgain -> CaptainGrey , 8 Jun 2013 04:47
@CaptainGrey -

There are different models of capitalism quite clearly the social democratic version in Scandinavia or the "Bismarkian" German version have worked a lot better than the UKs.

DavidPavett , 8 Jun 2013 04:45

Yet, mealy-mouthed and hotly contested as this minor mea culpa is, it's still a sign that financial institutions may slowly be coming round to the idea that they are the problem.

How is it a sign of that? We are offered no clues.

What they don't seem to acknowledge is that the merry days of reckless lending are never going to return;

Try reading a history of financial crashes to dislodge this idea.

... even if they do, the same thing will happen again, but more quickly and more savagely.

This may or may not be true but here it is mere assertion.

The IMF exists to lend money to governments, so it's comic that it wags its finger at governments that run up debt.

At this point I start to have real doubts as to whether Deborah Orr has actually read even the Executive Summary of the Report this article is ostensibly a response to.

All the comments that follow about the need for public infrastructure, education, regulated markets and so on are made as if they were a criticism of the IMF and yet the IMF says many of those same things itself. The IMF position may, of course, be contradictory - but then that is something that would need to be demonstrated. It seems that Deborah has not got beyond reading a couple of Guardian articles on the issues she discusses and therefore is in no position to do this.

Thus, for example in its review of world problems of Feb 2013 the IMF comments favorably that in Bangladesh in order to boost competitiveness

Efforts are being made to narrow the skills gap with other countries in the region, as the authorities look to take full advantage of Bangladesh's favorable demographics and help create conditions for more labor-intensive led growth. The government is also scaling up spending on education, science and technology, and information and communication technology.

Which seems to be the sort of thing Deborah Orr is calling for. She should spend a little time on the IMF website before criticising the institution. It is certainly one that merits much criticism - but it needs to be informed.

And the solution to the problems? For Deborah Orr the response

... from the start should have been a wholesale reevaluation of the way in which wealth is created and distributed around the globe, a "structural adjustment", as the philosopher John Gray has said all along.

Does anyone have any idea what this is supposed to mean? There are certainly no leads on this in the link given to "the philosopher" John Gray. And what a strange reference that is. John Gray, in his usual cynical mode, dismisses the idea of progress being achieved by the EU. But then I suppose that is consistent from a man who dismisses the idea of progress itself.

... Conservative neoliberalism is entirely without logic.

The first step in serious political analysis is to understand that the people one opposes are not crazy and are not devoid of logic. If that is not clearly understood then all that is left is the confrontation of assertion and contrary assertion. Of course Conservative neoliberalism has a logic. It is one I do not agree with but it is a logic all the same.

The neoliberalism that the IMF still preaches pays no account to any of this [the need for public investment and a recognition of the multiple roles that individuals have].

Wrong again.

It insists that the provision of work alone is enough of an invisible hand to sustain a market.

And again.

This stuff can't be made up as you go along on the basis of reading a couple of newspaper articles. You actually have to do some hard reading to get to grip with the issues. I can see no signs of that in this piece.

EllisWyatt -> NotAgainAgain , 8 Jun 2013 04:43
@NotAgainAgain - We are going off topic and that is in no small part down to my own fault, so apologies. Just to pick up the point, I guess my unease with the likes of Buffet, Cooper-Hohn or even the wealthy Guardian columnists is that they are criticizing the system from a position of power and wealth.

So its easy to advocate change if you feel that you are in the vanguard of defining that change i.e. the reforms you advocate may leave you worse off, but at a level you feel comfortable with (the prime example always being Polly's deeply relaxed attitude to swingeing income tax increases when her own lifestyle will be protected through wealth).

I guess I am a little skeptical because I either see it as managed decline, a smokescreen or at worst mean spiritedness of people prepared to accept a reasonable degree of personal pain if it means other people whom dislike suffer much greater pain.

Again off topic so sorry about that

NotAgainAgain -> mountman , 8 Jun 2013 04:43
@mountman -

The critical bit is this

"There is a clear legal basis in Germany for the workplace representation of employees in all but the very smallest companies. Under the Works Constitution Act, first passed in 1952 and subsequently amended, most recently in 2001, a works council can be set up in all private sector workplaces with at least five employees."

http://www.worker-participation.eu/National-Industrial-Relations/Countries/Germany/Workplace-Representation

The UK needs to wake up to the fact that managers are sometimes inept or corrupt and will destroy the companies they work for, unless their are adequate mechanisms to hold poor management to account.

ATrueFinn -> SpinningHugo , 8 Jun 2013 04:42
@ SpinningHugo 08 June 2013 9:26am

More people lifted out of poverty in China over the last 25 years than the entire population of South America.

Maybe we need the Chinese Communist Party to take over the world?

ATrueFinn -> CaptainGrey , 8 Jun 2013 04:40
@ CaptainGrey 08 June 2013 8:43am

Capitalism, especially the beneficial capitalism of the NHS, free education etc. has won

There would not be NHS, free education etc. without socialism; in fact they are socialism. It took the Soviet-style socialism ("statism") 70 years to collapse. The neoliberalistic capitalism has already started to collapse after 30 years.

irishaxeman , 8 Jun 2013 04:40
I'm always amused that neoliberal - indeed, capitalist - apologists cannot see the hypocrisy of their demands for market access. Communities create and sustain markets, fund and maintain infrastructure, produce and maintain new consumers. Yet the neolibs decry and destroy. Hypocrites or destructive numpties - never quite decided between Pickles and Gove, y'see.
EllisWyatt -> JamesValencia , 8 Jun 2013 04:38
@JamesValencia - Actually on reflection you are correct and I was wrong in my attack on the author above. Having re-read the article its a critique of institutions rather than people so my points were wide of the mark.

I still think that well heeled Guardian writers aren't really in a position to attack the wealthy and politically connected, but I'll save that for a thread when they explicitly do so, rather than the catch all genie of neoliberalism.

bullwinkle -> bluebirds , 8 Jun 2013 04:38
@bluebirds -

@CaptainGrey - deregulated capitalism has failed. That is the product of the last 20 years. The pure market is a fantasy just as communism is or any other ideology. In a pure capitalist economy all the banks of the western world would have bust and indeed the false value "earned" in the preceding 20 years would have been destroyed.

If the pure market is a fantasy, how can deregulated capitalism have failed? Does one not require the other? Surely it is regulated capitalism that has failed?

snodgrass , 8 Jun 2013 04:36
97% of all OUR money has been handed over to these scheming crooks. Stop bailing out the banks with QE. Take back what is ours -- state control over the creation of money. Then let the banks revert to their modest market-based function of financial intermediaries.

The State can't be trusted to create our money? Well they could hardly do a worse job than the banks! Best solution would be to distribute state-created money as a Citizen's Income.

EllisWyatt -> 1nn1t , 8 Jun 2013 04:35
@1nn1t - Some good points, there is a whole swathe of low earners that should not be in the tax system at all, simply letting them keep the money in their pocket would be a start.

Second the minimum wage (especially in the SE) is too low and should be increased. Obviously the devil is in the detail as to the precise rate, the other issue is non compliance as there will be any number of businesses that try and get around this, through employing people too ignorant or scared to know any better or for family businesses - do we have the stomach to enforce this?

Thirdly there is a widespread reluctance to separate people from the largesse of the state, even at absurd levels of income such as higher rate payers (witness child tax credits). On the right they see themselves as having paid in and so are "entitled" to have something back and on the left it ensures that everyone has a vested interest in a big state dipping it hands into your pockets one day and giving you something back the next.

Broken system

1nn1t -> Uncertainty , 8 Jun 2013 04:34

@Uncertainty - Which is why the people of the planet need to join hands.

The only group of people in he UK to see that need were the generation that faced WW2 together. It's no accident that, joining up at 18 in 1939, they had almost all retired by 1984.
BruceMullinger , 8 Jun 2013 04:31
To promote the indecent obsession for global growth Australia, burdened with debt of around 250 billion dollars, is to borrow and pay interest on a further 7 billion dollars to lend to the International Monetary Fund so as it can lend it to poorer nations to burden them with debt.

It is entrapment which impoverishes nations into the surrender of sovereignty, democracy and national pride. In no way should we contribute to such economic immorality and the entire economic system based on perpetual growth fuelled by consumerism and debt needs top be denounced and dismantled. The adverse social and environmental consequence of perpetual growth defies all sensible logic and in time, in a more responsible and enlightened era, growth will be condemned.

[Dec 03, 2018] Neoliberalism is a secular religion because it relies of beliefs (which in this case are presented using the mathematical notation of neoclassic economics)

Like bolshevism this secular regions is to a large extent is a denial of Christianity. While Bolshevism is closer to the Islam, Neoliberalism is closer to Judaism.
The idea of " Homo economicus " -- a person who in all his decisions is governed by self-interest and greed is bunk.
Notable quotes:
"... There is not a shred of logical sense in neoliberalism. You're doing what the fundamentalists do... they talk about what neoliberalism is in theory whilst completely ignoring what it is in practice. ..."
"... In theory the banks should have been allowed to go bust, but the consequences where deemed too high (as they inevitable are). The result is socialism for the rich using the poor as the excuse, which is the reality of neoliberalism. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is based on the thought that you get as much freedom as you can pay for, otherwise you can just pay... like everyone else. In Asia and South America it has been the economic preference of dictators that pushes profit upwards and responsibility down, just like it does here. ..."
"... We all probably know the answer to this. In order to maintain the consent necessary to create inequality in their own interests the neoliberals have to tell big lies, and keep repeating them until they appear to be the truth. They've gotten so damn good at it. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is a modern curse. Everything about it is bad and until we're free of it, it will only ever keep trying to turn us into indentured labourers. ..."
"... It's acolytes are required to blind themselves to logic and reason to such a degree they resemble Scientologists or Jehovah's Witnesses more than people with any sort of coherent political ideology, because that's what neoliberalism actually is... a cult of the rich, for the rich, by the rich... and it's followers in the general population are nothing but moron familiars hoping one day to be made a fully fledged bastard ..."
"... Who could look at the way markets function and conclude there's any freedom? Only a neoliberal cult member. They cannot be reasoned with. They cannot be dissuaded. They cannot be persuaded. Only the market knows best, and the fact that the market is a corrupt, self serving whore is completely ignored by the ideology of their Church. ..."
Dec 03, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com
TedSmithAndSon -> theguardianisrubbish , 8 Jun 2013 12:24
@theguardianisrubbish -

Unless you are completely confused by what neoliberalism is there is not a shred of logical sense in this.

There is not a shred of logical sense in neoliberalism. You're doing what the fundamentalists do... they talk about what neoliberalism is in theory whilst completely ignoring what it is in practice.

In theory the banks should have been allowed to go bust, but the consequences where deemed too high (as they inevitable are). The result is socialism for the rich using the poor as the excuse, which is the reality of neoliberalism.

Savers in a neoliberal society are lambs to the slaughter. Thatcher "revitalised" banking, while everything else withered and died.

Neoliberalism is based on the thought of personal freedom, communism is definitely not. Neoliberalist policies have lifted millions of people out of poverty in Asia and South America.

Neoliberalism is based on the thought that you get as much freedom as you can pay for, otherwise you can just pay... like everyone else. In Asia and South America it has been the economic preference of dictators that pushes profit upwards and responsibility down, just like it does here.

I find it ironic that it now has 5 year plans that absolutely must not be deviated from, massive state intervention in markets (QE, housing policy, tax credits... insert where applicable), and advocates large scale central planning even as it denies reality, and makes the announcement from a tractor factory.

Neoliberalism is a blight... a cancer on humanity... a massive lie told by rich people and believed only by peasants happy to be thrown a turnip. In theory it's one thing, the reality is entirely different. Until we're rid of it, we're all it's slaves. It's an abhorrent cult that comes up with purest bilge like expansionary fiscal contraction to keep all the money in the hands of the rich.

Jacobsadder , 8 Jun 2013 11:35
Bloody well said Deborah!

Why, you have to ask yourself, is this vast implausibility, this sheer unsustainability, not blindingly obvious to all?

We all probably know the answer to this. In order to maintain the consent necessary to create inequality in their own interests the neoliberals have to tell big lies, and keep repeating them until they appear to be the truth. They've gotten so damn good at it.

iluvanimals54 , 8 Jun 2013 07:58
Today all politicians knee before the Altar that is Big Business and the Profit God, with his minions of multinational Angels.
TedSmithAndSon , 8 Jun 2013 06:01
Neoliberalism is a modern curse. Everything about it is bad and until we're free of it, it will only ever keep trying to turn us into indentured labourers.

It's acolytes are required to blind themselves to logic and reason to such a degree they resemble Scientologists or Jehovah's Witnesses more than people with any sort of coherent political ideology, because that's what neoliberalism actually is... a cult of the rich, for the rich, by the rich... and it's followers in the general population are nothing but moron familiars hoping one day to be made a fully fledged bastard.

Who could look at the way markets function and conclude there's any freedom? Only a neoliberal cult member. They cannot be reasoned with. They cannot be dissuaded. They cannot be persuaded. Only the market knows best, and the fact that the market is a corrupt, self serving whore is completely ignored by the ideology of their Church.

It's subsumed the entire planet, and waiting for them to see sense is a hopeless cause. In the end it'll probably take violence to rid us of the Neoliberal parasite... the turn of the century plague.

[Dec 03, 2018] Margaret Thatcher Against Friedrich von Hayek's Pleas for a Lykourgan Dictatorship in Britain Hoisted from the Archives

Dec 03, 2018 | www.bradford-delong.com

Thatcher (aka "Milk Snatcher" ) pushed neoliberalism and globalization as the solution of New Deal Capitalism problems. Now the UK arrived at the dead end of this "1 Neoliberal Road" and now needs to pay the price. So much for TINA.

From a pure propaganda standpoint, Neoliberalism is just a sanitized-sounding expression, to cover-up the fact that what we really see here is re-branded corporatist ideology.

That's why the crisis of neoliberalism created Renaissance for far-right movements in Europe, which now threaten to destroy its "globalization" component and switch to "national neoliberalism" (aka Trumpism) as the solution to the current crisis of neoliberalism ( aka "secular stagnation" which started in 2008).

Ideology is as dead as Bolshevik's ideology became in early 60th. And I see Trump as a somewhat similar figure to Khrushchev. An uneducated reformer with huge personal flaws, but still a reformer of "classic neoliberalism." Which was rejected by voters with Hillary Clinton, was not it ?

As financial oligarchy is pretty powerful and, as we now see, have intelligence agencies as a part of their "toolset", the trend right now is to rely on "patriotic military" and far-right nationalism to counter neoliberal globalization.

We will see where it would get us, but with oil over $100 Goldman employees might eventually really find themselves under fire like in Omaha beach.

Hayek, while a second rate economist, proved to be a talented theologian, and he managed to create what can be called "civil religion" not that different from Mormonism or Scientology.

It was mostly based on Trotskyism rebranded for financial elite instead of the proletariat and the network of think tanks instead of "professional revolutionaries" of the Communist Party ("Financial oligarchy of all countries unite", "All power to Goldman Sacks and Bank of America," etc.).

Pope Francis did a pretty good theological analysis of this secular religion in his Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, 2013. Rephrasing Oscar Wilde, we can say that "objective analysis is the analysis of ideologies we do not like".

He pointed out that neoliberalism explicitly rejects the key idea of Christianity -- the idea of equal and ultimate justice for all sinners as a noble social goal. The idea that a human being should struggle to create justice ( including "economic justice") in this world even if the ultimate solution is beyond his grasp. "Greed is good" is as far from Christianity as Satanism.

As Reinhold Niebuhr noted a world where there is only one center of power and authority (financial oligarchy under neoliberalism) "preponderant and unchallenged... its world rule almost certainly violate the basic standard of justice".

Here are selected quotes from Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, 2013

... Such a [neoliberal] economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

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

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed.

Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people's pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else's responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime, all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

[Dec 04, 2016] The myth of Ronald Reagan: pragmatic moderate or radical conservative?

Notable quotes:
"... he changed American politics forever by demonstrating that style was more important than substance. In fact, he showed that style was everything and substance utterly unimportant. ..."
"... Conservatives used "bracket creep" to convince the middle class that reducing marginal rates on the top tax brackets along with their own would be a good idea, then with the assistance of Democrats replaced the revenue with a huge increase in FICA so that the Social Security Trust Fund could finance the deficit in the rest of the budget. The result was a huge boon to the richest, little difference for the middle class, and a far greater burden for the working poor. ..."
"... Any conversation about who the fantasy-projection "Reagan" was, misses an important reality: He was a hologram, fabricated by a kaleidoscope of various sorts of so-called "conservative" handlers and puppeteers. It was those "puppeteers" who ranged from heartlessly, stunningly "conservative" (destroya-tive), all the way further right to the kind of militaristic, macho, crackpots who have finally emerged from under their rocks at this year's "candidates." ..."
The Guardian


cgoodwood 19 Sep 2015 11:40

Do not contradict the memories of all the old teabaggers who desperately need the myth of Saint Ronnie to justify their Greed is Good declining mentality and years.

When Reagan cut-and-ran on Lebanon he showed rare discretion. A lot of the puffery stuff was B-Movie grade, but there was a lot of cross-the-aisle ventures, too.

He was a politician. The current GOP is just a bunch of white Fundie bullies, actually and metaphorically (e.g., Carson).

Zepp -> thedono 19 Sep 2015 11:37

Well, compared to Cruz, or Santorum, or Huckabee, he's a moderate. Of course, compared to the right people, you can describe Mussolini or Khruschev as moderates...

mastermisanthrope 19 Sep 2015 11:37

Lifelong shill

LostintheUS -> William J Rood 19 Sep 2015 11:36

Reagan underwent a political conversion when Nancy broke up his marriage with Jane Wyman and married him.

LostintheUS 19 Sep 2015 11:33

Here is the Reagan administration in a five second video clip:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NR3RqMMIwD4

LostintheUS -> inchoateruffian 19 Sep 2015 11:32

Here is the video clip where Don Regan (former CEO of Merrill Lynch) tells PRESIDENT Reagan to "speed it up".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NR3RqMMIwD4

RightSaid -> ID3732233 19 Sep 2015 11:31

The cold war ended while Reagan was president, but he did not win the cold war. His rhetoric and strategy was wishful thinking - there's no way he could have had the definitive intelligence about the entire military-political-economic that would have justified the confidence he projected. He merely lucked out, significantly damaging the US economy by trying (and luckily succeeding) to out-militarize the soviets.

pretzelattack -> kattw 19 Sep 2015 11:31

both clinton and obama have showed a willingness to "reform social security". try naked capitalism, there are probably a number of articles in the archives.

LostintheUS -> piethein 19 Sep 2015 11:29

And that the emergency room federally funded program that saved his life was soon after defunded...by him.

LostintheUS -> pretzelattack 19 Sep 2015 11:28

Many of us saw through him...I noted the senility during his speeches during his first campaign...as did many people I knew.

pretzelattack -> 4Queeen4country 19 Sep 2015 11:27

thatcher said of reagan "bit of a dim bulb..."

Jim Loftus 19 Sep 2015 11:26

Dementia masquerading as politics.
But you can't say anything negative about Saint Ronald!

Peter Davis -> Peter Davis 19 Sep 2015 11:22

I believe Reagan also is responsible for creating the Hollywood notion in American politics and political thinking that life works just like a movie--with good guys and bad guys. And all one needs is a gun and you can save the world. That sort of delusional thinking has been at the heart of the modern GOP ever since.

loljahlol -> ID3732233 19 Sep 2015 11:21

Reagan did not end the Cold War. Brezhnev rule solidified the Soviet death. Their corrupt, inefficient form of capitalism could not compete with the globalization of Western capitalism.

John78745 19 Sep 2015 11:21

There's not much nuance to Reagan. He was a coward, a bully and a loser. He got hundreds of U.S. Marines killed then he ran from the terrorists in Beirut and on the Archille Lauro personally creating the seeds of the morass of terrorists we now live with. He fostered the republican traditions of sending U.S. jobs overseas at the expense of U.S. taxpayers and of invading helpless, hapless nations, a tradition so adeptly followed by Bush I & II. He also promised that there would never be a need for another amnesty.

I guess it's true that he talked mean to the Russians, broke unions, and helped make the military industrial complex into the insatiable war machine that it is today. Remember murderous Iran-Contra (a real) scandal where he and his minions worked in secret without congressional authorization to overthrow a democratically elected government while conspiring to supply arms to the dastardly Iranians!

We could also say that he bravely fought to save the U.S. from socialized medicine and to expunge the tradition of free tuition for California students. Whatta hero!

thankgodimanatheist 19 Sep 2015 11:19

Reagan, the acting President, was the worst President since WWII until the Cheney/Bush debacle.

Most of the problems we face today can be directly traced to his voodoo economics, huge deficit spending, deregulation, and in retrospect disastrous foreign policies.


LostintheUS 19 Sep 2015 11:17

"these days everyone seems to love Ronald."

Absolutely, not true. The farther along we go in time, the more Americans realize the damage this man and his backers did to America and the world. The inversion of the tax tables, the undoing of union laws, the polarization of Americans against each other so the plutocrats had no real opposition and on and on. His camp stole the election in 1980 through making a back door deal with the Iranian government to hold onto the American hostages until the election when Jimmy Carter had negotiated an end to the hostage crisis, which was the undoing of Jimmy Carter's administration.

"Behind Carter's back, the Reagan campaign worked out a deal with the leader of Iran's radical faction - Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini - to keep the hostages in captivity until after the 1980 Presidential election." This is, unquestionably, treason. http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/20287-without-reagans-treason-iran-would-not-be-a-problem

No, Reagan marks the downward turn for our country and has resulted in the economic and social mess we still have not clawed our way back out of. No, Reagan is no hero, he is an American nemesis and a traitor. Reagan raised taxes three times while slashing the tax rate of the super rich...starting the downward spiral of the middle-class and the funneling of money toward the 1%. Thus his reputation as a "tax cutter", yeah, if you were a multi-millionaire.

Check this out for a synopsis of the damage: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/02/10/942453/-How-Ronald-Reagan-s-Policies-Destroyed-the-United-States#

namora -> nogapsallowed 19 Sep 2015 11:15

Never thought of Reagan as the first Shrub but it fits. I wonder if future pundits will sing the Dub's praises as well. I think I'm gonna be sick for a bit.

kattw -> namora 19 Sep 2015 11:10

Pretzel is maybe talking about the 'strengthen SS' bandwagon? Perhaps? Not entirely sure myself, but yeah - one of the major democrat platform planks is that SS should NOT be privatized, and that if people want to invest in stocks, they can do that on their own. The whole point of SS is to be a mattress full of cash that is NOT vulnerable to the vagaries of the market, and will always have some cash in it to be used as needed.

SS would be totally secure, too, if congress would stop robbing it for other projects, or pay back all they've borrowed. As it is, I wish *I* was as broke as republicans claim SS is - I wouldn't mind having a few billion in the bank.

William J Rood 19 Sep 2015 11:08

Reagan was former president of the Screen Actors' Guild. Obviously, he thought unions for highly educated workers were great. Meatpackers? Not so much.

RealSoothsayer 19 Sep 2015 11:04

This article does not mention the fact that in his last couple of years as President at least, his mental state had seriously deteriorated. He could not remember his own policies, names, etc. CBS' Leslie Stahl should be prosecuted for not being honest with her everyone when she found out.

Peter Davis 19 Sep 2015 11:04

Reagan was a failed president who nonetheless managed to convince people that he was great. He was a professional actor, after all. And he acted his way into the White House. Most importantly, he changed American politics forever by demonstrating that style was more important than substance. In fact, he showed that style was everything and substance utterly unimportant. He was the figurehead while his handlers did the dirty work of Iran-Contra, ballooning deficits, and tanking unemployment.

nishville 19 Sep 2015 11:03

For me, he was a pioneer. He was the first sock-puppet president, starting a noble tradition that reached its climax with W.

mbidding -> hackerkat 19 Sep 2015 11:03

In addition to:

Treasonous traitor when, as a presidential candidate, he negotiated with Khomeini to hold the hostages till after the election.

Subverter of the Constitution via the Iran-Contra scandal.

Destroyer of social cohesion by turning JFK's famous admonishment of "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" on its head with his meme that all evil emanates from the government and taxation represents stealing rather than a social obligation for any civilized society that wishes to continue to develop in a sound fashion that lifts all boats.

Incarcerator in Chief through his tough on crime and war on drugs policies, not to mention defunding mental health care.

Pisser in Chief through his successful efforts to imbed trickle down economics as the economic thought du jour which even its original architects, notably Stockman, now confirm is a failed theory that we nonetheless cling to to this day.

Ignoramus in Chief by gutting real federal financial aid for higher education leading to the obscene amounts of student debt our college students now incur.

Terrorist creator extraordinaire not only with the creation of the Latin American death squads you note, but the creation, support, trading, and funding of the mujahedin and Bin Laden himself, now known as the Taliban, Al Qa'ida, and ISIS, only the most notable among others.

namora -> trholland1 19 Sep 2015 10:59

That is not taking into account his greatest role for which he was ignored for a much deserved Oscar, Golden Globe or any of the other awards passed out by the entertainment industry, President of The United States of America. He absolutely nailed that one.

William J Rood 19 Sep 2015 10:58

Conservatives used "bracket creep" to convince the middle class that reducing marginal rates on the top tax brackets along with their own would be a good idea, then with the assistance of Democrats replaced the revenue with a huge increase in FICA so that the Social Security Trust Fund could finance the deficit in the rest of the budget. The result was a huge boon to the richest, little difference for the middle class, and a far greater burden for the working poor.

Tax brackets could have been indexed to inflation, but that wouldn't have been so great for Reagans real supporters.

Doueman 19 Sep 2015 10:55

What sad comments by these armchair experts.

They don't gel with my experiences in North America during this period at all. When Reagan ran for the presidency he was generally ridiculed by much of the press in the US and just about all of the press in the UK for being a right wing fanatic, a lightweight, too old, uninformed and even worse an actor. I found this rather curious and watched him specifically on TV in unscripted scenarios to form my own impression as to how such a person, with supposedly limited abilities, could possibly run for President of the US. I get a bit suspicious when organisations and individuals protest and ridicule too much.

My reaction was that he handled himself well and gradually concluded that the mainly Eastern liberal press in the US couldn't really stomach a California actor since they themselves were meant to know everything. He actually was pretty well read ( visitors were later astonished to read his multiple annotations in heavy weight books in his library). He was a clever and astute union negotiator dealing with some of the toughest Hollywood moguls who would eat most negotiators for dinner. He had become Governor of California and had done a fine job. I thought it was unlikely he was the simpleton many portrayed. He couldn't be easily categorised as he embraced many good aspects of the Democrats and the Republicans. Life wasn't so polarised then.

The US had left leaning Republicans and right wing Democrats. A political party as Churchill noted was simply a charger to ride into action.

In my view, his presidential record was pretty remarkable. A charming, fair minded charismatic man without the advantage of a wealthy background or influential family. The world was lucky to have him.

raffine -> particle 19 Sep 2015 10:50

Reagan's second term was a disaster. But as someone below mentioned, conservative pundits and their financers engaged in a campaign to make Reagan into a right-wing FDR. The most effective, albeit bogus, claim on Reagan's behalf was that he had ended the Cold War.

jpsartreny 19 Sep 2015 14:22

Reagan is the shadow governments greatest triumph. After the adolescent Kennedy, egomaniacs Johnson and Nixon , they needed front guys who followed orders instead .

The experiment with the peanut farmer from Georgia provided disastrous to Zebrew Brzezinski and the liberals. The conservatives had better luck with a B- movie actor with an great talent to read of the teleprompter.

RealSoothsayer -> semper12 19 Sep 2015 14:19

How? By talking? Gobachev brought down the USSR with his 'Glasnost' and 'Perestroika' policies. His vision was what communist China later on achieved: mixed economy that flies a red flag. Reagan was just an observer, absolutely nothing more. Tito of Yugoslavia was even more instrumental.

Marc Herlands 19 Sep 2015 14:17

IMHO Reagan was the second most successful president, behind FDR and ahead of LBJ. Not that I liked anything about him, but he moved this country to the right and set the play book. He lowered taxes on the wealthy, the corporations, capital gains, and estate taxes. He reduced growth in programs for the poor, and made it impossible to increase their funding after his presidency because of he left huge federal deficits caused by lowering taxes and increasing outlays on the military. This Republican playbook still is their way of making sure that the Democrats can't give the poor more money after they lose power. Also, he enlarged the program for deregulating industries, doing away with antitrust laws, hindering labor laws, encouraged anti-union behavior, and did nothing for AIDS research. He was a scoundrel who did a deal with Iran to prevent Carter from being re-elected. He directly disobeyed Congressional laws not to intervene in Nicaragua. He set the tone for US interventions after him.


bloggod 19 Sep 2015 14:17

Obama, Clinton, and the Bushes all hope to be forgiven for their unpardonable crimes.

Popularity is created. It is not populism, or informed consent of the pubic as approval for more of the same collusion.

It is a One Party hoe down.

bloggod -> SigmetSue 19 Sep 2015 14:12

"they"

the indicted Sec of Defense Weinberger; the indicted head of the CIA Casey who "died" as he was due to testify: Mcfarlane, Abrams, Clair George, Oilyver North, Richard Secord, Albert Hakim

Reagan had no genius, he had Bush-CIA and the Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, and the "immoral majority" of anti-abortion war profiteers.


Marios Antoniou Lattimore 19 Sep 2015 13:52

I agree with everything you mentioned, and I intensely dislike Reagan YET the point of the article wasn't that Reagan was good, it rather points to the fact that Republicans have shifted so far to the right that Reagan would appear moderate compared to the current batch.

Rainer Jansohn pretzelattack 19 Sep 2015 13:52

Interesting had been his speeches during the Cold War.Scientists have subsumed it under "Social Religion",a special form of political theology.Simple dialectical:UDSSR the incarnation of the evil/hell on the other side USA :the country of God himself.A tradition in USA working until now.There is no separation between government and church as in good old centuries sincetwo centuries resulting from enlightening per Philosophie/Voltaire/Kant/Hume/Descartes and so on.Look at Obamas speeches/God is always mixed in!

talenttruth 19 Sep 2015 13:49

Any conversation about who the fantasy-projection "Reagan" was, misses an important reality: He was a hologram, fabricated by a kaleidoscope of various sorts of so-called "conservative" handlers and puppeteers. It was those "puppeteers" who ranged from heartlessly, stunningly "conservative" (destroya-tive), all the way further right to the kind of militaristic, macho, crackpots who have finally emerged from under their rocks at this year's "candidates."

The fact that Reagan was going ga-ga – definitely in his second term, and likely for part of the first – was entirely convenient for his Non-Human-Based-Crackpot-Right-Holographers, since he had was not actually "driven" to vacuousness by a tragic mental condition (dementia) – THAT change was merely a "short putt" – from his entire previous life.

Regarding his Great Achievement, the collapse of the Soviet Union? After decades of monstrous over-spending by the USA's Military-Industrial-Complex, the bogus and equally insane USSR finally bankrupted itself trying to "compete" and fell. Reagan (and his puppeteer handlers), always excellent at Taking Credit for anything, showed up with exquisite cynical timing, and indeed Took Credit.

Lest anyone forget, Reagan got elected in 1980, via a totally illegal and stunningly immoral "side deal" with the Iranians, in which they agreed to not release our hostages to make Carter look like a feeble old man. Then we got Reagan who WAS a "feeble old man" (ESPECIALLY intellectually and morally). Reagan "won," the hostages were "released" and he of course took credit for that too.

So all these so-called "candidates" ARE the heirs of all the very worst of Ronald Reagan: they are all simpleminded, they are totally beholden to Hidden Sociopathic Billionaires hiding behind various curtains, and they all have NO CLUE what the word "ethics" means. Vacuous, anti-intellectual, scheming, appealing only to morons, and puppets all. Perfect "Reaganites."

Bill Ehrhorn -> semper12 19 Sep 2015 13:32

It seems that the teabaggers and their ilk give only Reagan credit.

SigmetSue 19 Sep 2015 13:16

They called him the Teflon President because nothing ever stuck. It still doesn't. That was his genius -- and I'm no fan.


Lattimore 19 Sep 2015 13:13

The article seems to present Reagan as an theatrical figure. I disagree. Reagan, President of the United States, was a criminal; as such, he was among the most corrupt and anti democratic person to hold the office POTUS. The fact that he tripled the national debt, raised taxes and skewed the tax schedules to benifit the wealthy, are comparitively minor.
,,,
Reagan's crimes and anti democratic acts:
1. POTUS: CIA smuggling cocaine into the U.S., passing the drug to wholesalers, who then processed the drug and distributed crack to Black communities. At the same time Reagan's "War on Crime" insured that the Black youth who bought "Central Intelligenc Agencie's" cocaine were criminalized and handed lengthy prison sentences.
2. POTUS supported SOUTH AMERICAN terrorist, and the genocidal atrocities commited by terrorist in Chili, Guatamala, El Mazote, etc.
3. POTUS supported SOUTH AFRICAN apartheid, and the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela as well. Vetoing a bill that would express condemnation of South Africa.
4. POTUS sold Arms to Iran.
5. POTUS used taxpayer dollars to influence election outcomes.
6. POTUS rigged government grants to enrich his cronies.
7. POTUS thew mental patients onto the streets.
8. POTUS supported McCarthyism, witch hunts, etc.
9. POTUS created and supported Islamic terrorist--fore runners of al Queada, ISIS, etc.

Niko2 LostintheUS 19 Sep 2015 13:12

I don't have much love for Nancy, but she did not break up this marriage, to be fair. And she actually got rid off the extreme right wingers in Reagan's administration, like Haig and Regan, whom she called "extra chromosome republicans". Surely she was a vain and greedy flotus with no empathy whatsoever for people not in her Bel Air circles (I can easily imagine her, "Do I really have to go and see these Aids-Babies, I'd rather shop at Rodeo Drive, lose the scheduler") but she realized at an early stage that hubbies shtick-it-to-the-commies policies would do him no favour. Maybe she's the unsung heroine of his presidency.

tommydog -> MtnClimber 19 Sep 2015 13:04

The principle subsidies to big oil are probably the strategic oil reserve and subsidies to low income people for winter heating oil. You can choose which of those you'd like to cut. After that you're arguing about whether exploration costs should be expensed in the year incurred or capitalized and amortized over time.

WilliamK 19 Sep 2015 13:03

He was one of J Edgar Hoover's red baiting fascist admiring boys along with Richard Nixon and Walt Disney used to destroy the labor unions, control the propaganda machine of Hollywood and used to knuckle under the television networks and undermine as much as possible the New Deal polices of Franklin Roosevelt. An actor groomed by the General Electric Corporation and their fellow travelers. "Living better through electricity" was his mantra and he played the role of President to push forward their right wing agenda. Now we are in new stage in our "political development" in America. The era of the "reality television star" with Hollywood in bed with the military industrial complex, selling guns, violence and sex to the fool hardy and their children and prime time television ads push pharmaceutical drugs, children hear warnings of four hour erections, pop-stars flash their tits and asses and a billionaire takes center stage as the media cashes in and goes along for the ride. Yeah Ronnie was a second tier film star and with his little starlet Nancy by his side become one of America's greatest salesman.


Backbutton 19 Sep 2015 12:57

LOL! Reagan was a walking script renderer, with lines written by others, and a phony because he was just acting the part of POTUS. His speeches were all crafted, and he had good writers.

He was no Abraham Lincoln.

And now these morons running for office all want to rub off his "great communicator" fix.

Good help America!

Milwaukee Broad 19 Sep 2015 12:49

Ronald Reagan was an actor whom the depressingly overwhelming majority of American voters thought was a messiah. They so believed in him that they re-elected him to a second term. Nothing positive whatsoever became of his administration, yet he is still worshiped by millions of lost souls (conservatives).

Have a nice day.


Michael Williams 19 Sep 2015 12:48

The US was the world's leading creditor when Reagan took office. The US was the world's leading debtor by the time Bush 1 was tossed out of office.

This is what Republicans cannot seem to remember.

All of the other scandals pale in comparison, even as we deal with the blowback from most of these original, idiotic policies.

Reagan was an actor, mouthing words he barely understood, especially as his dementia progressed.

This is the exact reason the history is so poorly taught in the US.
People might make connections....

Jessica Roth 19 Sep 2015 12:46

Oh, he had holes in his brain long before the dementia. "Facts are stupid things", trees cause pollution, and so on.

A pathetic turncoat who sold out his original party (the one that kept his dad in work throughout the Great Depression via a series of WPA jobs) because Nancy allegedly "gave the best head in Hollywood" and who believed that only 144,000 people were going to Heaven, presumably accounting for his uncaring treatment of the less-well-off.

His administration was full of corruption, from Richard Allen's $1000 in an envelope (and three wristwatches) that he claimed was an inappropriate gift for Mrs. Reagan he had "intercepted" and then "forgotten" to report to William Casey trading over $3,000,000 worth of stocks while CIA director. (Knowing about changes in the oil market ahead of time sure came in handy.) You had an attorney general who took a $50,000 "severance payment" (never done before) from the board of a corporation he resigned from to avoid conflict of interest charges and this was William French Smith; his successor, Edwin Meese, was the one with real scandals (about the sale of his home).

Hell, Reagan himself put his ranch hand (Dennis LeBlanc) on the federal payroll as an "advisor" to the Commerce Department. I didn't know the Commerce Dept needed "advice" on clearing wood from St. Ronnie's ranch, but LeBlanc got a $58,500 salary out of the deal. (Roughly £98,000 at today's prices.) Nice work if you can get it.

Meanwhile, RR "talked tough" at the Soviets (resulting in the world nearly ending in 1983 due to a false alarm about a US nuclear attack) while propping up any rightwing dictator they could find, from the South African racists to Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos (after they had Aquino assassinated at the airport) to Roberto "Death Squad" D'Aubuisson in El Salvador (the man who masterminded the assassination of Archbishop Romero while he was performing Mass).

Oh, and while Carter did a nice job of shooting himself in the foot, Reagan benefited in the election not only from his treasonous dealings with the Iranian hostage-takers (shades of Nixon making a deal with North Viet Nam to stall the peace talks until after the 1968 elections, promising them better terms) but through more pedestrian means such as his campaign's stealing of Carter's briefing book for the campaign's only debate, Reagan being coached for the debate by a supposedly neutral journalist (George Will, of ABC and The Washington Post), who then went on television afterwards (in the days when there were only three commercial channels) and "analysed" how successful Reagan had been in executing his "game plan" and seeming "Presidential" without either Will or ABC bothering to mention that Will had coached Reagan and designed the "game plan" in question. The "liberal bias" in the media, no doubt.

Always a joke, only looking slightly better by the dross that has followed him. (Including Bill "Third Way" Clinton and his over-£50,000,000 in post-Presidential "speaking fees" graft, and Barack Obama, drone-murderer of children in over a dozen countries and serial-summary-executioner of U.S. citizens. When Gordon-effing-Brown is the best that's held office on either side of the Atlantic since 1979, you can see how this planet is in the state it's in.)

pretzelattack DukeofMelbourne 19 Sep 2015 12:45

his stand on russia was inconsistent, and he didn't cause it to collapse. his economic programs were a failure. his foreign policy generally a disaster. he set the blueprint for the current mess.


pretzelattack semper12 19 Sep 2015 12:38

a total crock. reagan let murdering thugs run rampant as long as they paid lip service to democracy, the world over from africa to central america. the ussr watched this coward put 240 marines to die in lebanon, and then cut and run, exactly the pattern he was so ready to condemn as treason in others, and was so ready to portray as showing weakness, and you think the ussr was terrified of him. he was a hollywood actor playing a role, and you bought it.


Tycho1961 19 Sep 2015 12:13

No President exists in a political vacuum. While he was in office, Reagan had a large Democrat majority in the House of Representatives and a small Republican majority in the Senate. The Supreme Court was firmly liberal. Whatever his political agenda Reagan knew he had to constructively engage with people of both parties that were in opposition to him. If he didn't he would suffer the same fate as Carter, marginalized by even his own party. His greatest strength was as a negotiator. Reagan's greatest failures were when he tried to be clever and he and his advisors were found to be rather ham handed about it.


RichardNYC 19 Sep 2015 11:57

The principal legacy of Ronald Reagan is the still prevalent view that corporate interests supersede individual interests.


Harry Haff 19 Sep 2015 11:45

Reagan did many horrible things while in office, committed felonies and supported murderous regimes in Central America that murdered tens of thousands of people with the blessing of the US chief executive. he sold arms to Iran and despoiled the natural environment whenever possible. But given those horrendous accomplishments, he could not now get a seat at the table with the current GOP. He would be considered a RINO, that most stupid and inaccurate term, at best, and a closet liberal somewhere down the line. The current GOP is more to the right than the politicians in the South after the Civil War.

[Sep 19, 2015] A Knee-Jerk Free Trader Response is Faith-Based

"...Many of the conditions under which free trade between nations is guaranteed to be desirable are unlikely to hold in practice."
.
"...All conservative economics is faith based (along with everything else they believe). Delusional is another good descriptor."
.
"...Fair trade might actually be a good thing, but that is not what "Free trade" generally means. Mostly it means freedom for capital, chains for labor, and devastation for the environment."
Dani Rodrik:
Trade within versus between nations: ...economics does not offer unconditional policy prescriptions. Every graduate student learns that depending on the background specifications, any policy x can be good or bad. A minimum wage can lower or raise employment (depending on whether employers have monopsony power); a natural resource discovery can raise or lower growth (depending on the likelihood of the Dutch disease); fiscal consolidation can expand or contract output (depending on the respective strengths of expectational versus Keynesian effects). And yes, the dictum that free trade benefits a nation depends on a long list of qualifying conditions.
So the proper response to the question "is free trade good?" is, as always, "it depends." When an economist says "I support free trade" s/he must mean that s/he judges the circumstances under which free trade would not be desirable to be very rare or unlikely to obtain in the context at hand.
Many of the conditions under which free trade between nations is guaranteed to be desirable are unlikely to hold in practice. Market imperfections, returns to scale, macro imbalances, absence of first-best policy instruments are ubiquitous in the real world, particularly in the developing world on which I spend most of my time. This does not guarantee that import restrictions will be necessarily desirable. There are many ways in which governments can screw up, even when they mean well. But it does mean that a knee-jerk free trader response is faith-based rather than science-based. ...

[He goes on to answer a question about differential support for trade within nations versus trade between nations.]

Posted by Mark Thoma on Friday, September 18, 2015 at 10:50 AM in Economics, International Trade, Market Failure | Permalink Comments (16)


pgl

"economics does not offer unconditional policy prescriptions. Every graduate student learns that depending on the background specifications, any policy x can be good or bad."

Thank you Dani! This statement holds in general but in particular on the issue of free trade. I've loved his old post where he admitted he had to endure a class taught by William Kristol and Kristol gave this brilliant man only a C.

DrDick

All conservative economics is faith based (along with everything else they believe). Delusional is another good descriptor.

DrDick -> Paine ...

Fair trade might actually be a good thing, but that is not what "Free trade" generally means. Mostly it means freedom for capital, chains for labor, and devastation for the environment.

Stubborn1:

About the fact that economists do not offer unconditional policy prescriptions, especially when it comes to free trade and "the dictum that free trade benefits a nation depends on a long list of qualifying conditions". One thing I have to strenuously say about that: BULLSHALONEY!

All I heard in my econ classes were the benefits of free trade. EVERYONE drank the kool aid! I even had a prof who had worked in the Council of Economic Advisors and his role was to review trade policies. He told us flat out he would ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS support any and all free trade agreements that came up, without ANY regard to damage done to domestic firms and/or workers. Paul Krugman wrote one of our text books which, like many econ textbooks at the time, had WHOLE chapters dedicated to debunking free trade myths! Now you are going to tell me that economists never take a stand on a policy position as being good or bad?! ARE YOU KIDDING?

Pgl I have seen you post and have agreed with you many times, but not on this one, hell no!


MacAuley -> Stubborn1...

You are so right, Stubborn1. I have taken at least six international econ courses, and in every case the prof was strongly in favor of "free trade", usually the more the merrier. Last year, as a refresher I took an internet Int'l Econ course at "Marginal Revolution University", which was surprisingly good except for the relentless free-trade propaganda.

Kenneth said...

Friday, May 15th, 2015, "Details of President Barack Obama's proposed trade deal, the Trans Pacific Partnership, have been kept secret, and the deal itself is kept in a locked room guarded by men with guns, with members of Congress having to schedule an appointment and jump through hoops just to actually read the massive proposed treaty.
Let me tell you what you have to do to read this agreement. Follow this: You can only take a few of your staffers who happen to have a security clearance, because - God knows why - this is secure. This is classified. It's nothing to do with defense," said Boxer.

Boxer then described how she was forced to turn over her cell phone and was prevented from even taking notes while looking over the 800-plus page trade treaty.

"So I go down with my staff that I could get to go with me, and as soon as I get there, the guard says to me, 'Hand over your electronics. Okay. I give over my electronics. Then the guard says, 'You can't take notes.' I said, 'I cannot take notes?'" said Boxer.

Some have taken to calling the TPP treaty "Obamatrade," in reference to the secretive nature in which Obamacare was written and how then-House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi infamously claimed, "We have to pass it to find out what's in it."
At the heart of the TPP is something referred to as a "living agreement provision," which means the treaty can be amended or changed at any time after it is ratified, without congressional approval, essentially handing over U.S. sovereignty and subjugating U.S. businesses and workers to international laws, according to CNS News.

While this treaty is being promoted as being about FREE TRADE, it is really just a massive corporatist agreement that gives increased authority to major international corporations, which will hurt both American labor unions and small businesses.

Conservatives need to look past the pleasant sounding platitudes put forward by the Establishment Republicans who are supporting this massive secret deal that only benefits major international corporations, and (gulp) team up with socialists like Sen. Elizabeth Warren to kill this deal, which will only hurt America in the long run.

It's sole purpose is to "level the playing field" - which means taking America down to the same level as everyone else."
http://conservativetribune.com/senator-reveals-obama-deal/

Second Best -> Kenneth...

'At the heart of the TPP is something referred to as a "living agreement provision," which means the treaty can be amended or changed at any time after it is ratified, without congressional approval, essentially handing over U.S. sovereignty and subjugating U.S. businesses and workers to international laws, according to CNS News.'

---

what's new, this is SOP in the U.S., don't bother to read the fine print, it's out of date before the ink is dry, like hospitals that don't accept same day payment on site, then submit individual bills showing up months later from every damn person within 50 ft of the patient and refuse to confirm if there's more

and Scott Walker is busting up unions with right to work laws so labor can have the same power under a 'living agreement' as hospitals to charge for services provided.

MacAuley -> Kenneth...

Kenneth,
It's not accurate to call TPP "Obamatrade" since the concept was developed and fleshed out in 2007 and 2008 under the Bush Administration. Most of the work was managed at the SES level, since the Bush Administration was pretty lame-duck by then and most of the political appointees were looking for jobs. But the Bush Administration at the cabinet level gave approval for the exploratory discussions and conceptual analysis of a TPP.

By the time Obama arrived in 2009 there was a coherent TPP initiative ready for the Obama Administration to consider. I doubt that Obama had heard of TPP before he came to Washington, but it wasn't long before the Obama Administration decided to go forward with it.

Paine said...

Dani is a source of wisdom and shrewdness
A combo rarely combined in one head

... ... ...

[Sep 19, 2015] 'A Knee-Jerk Free Trader Response is Faith-Based'

Dani Rodrik:
Trade within versus between nations: ...economics does not offer unconditional policy prescriptions. Every graduate student learns that depending on the background specifications, any policy x can be good or bad. A minimum wage can lower or raise employment (depending on whether employers have monopsony power); a natural resource discovery can raise or lower growth (depending on the likelihood of the Dutch disease); fiscal consolidation can expand or contract output (depending on the respective strengths of expectational versus Keynesian effects). And yes, the dictum that free trade benefits a nation depends on a long list of qualifying conditions.
So the proper response to the question "is free trade good?" is, as always, "it depends." When an economist says "I support free trade" s/he must mean that s/he judges the circumstances under which free trade would not be desirable to be very rare or unlikely to obtain in the context at hand.
Many of the conditions under which free trade between nations is guaranteed to be desirable are unlikely to hold in practice. Market imperfections, returns to scale, macro imbalances, absence of first-best policy instruments are ubiquitous in the real world, particularly in the developing world on which I spend most of my time. This does not guarantee that import restrictions will be necessarily desirable. There are many ways in which governments can screw up, even when they mean well. But it does mean that a knee-jerk free trader response is faith-based rather than science-based. ...

[He goes on to answer a question about differential support for trade within nations versus trade between nations.]

Posted by Mark Thoma on Friday, September 18, 2015 at 10:50 AM in Economics, International Trade, Market Failure | Permalink Comments (16)

Eric Schoenberg Zombie Economics and Just Deserts Why the Right Is Winning the Economic Debate

I believe that defeating the zombie-like resilience of laissez faire capitalism will require directly refuting the moral belief in the inherent fairness of free market outcomes.

Economist Paul Krugman recently decried "zombie economics," policies advocated by "free-market fundamentalists [who] have been wrong about everything yet now dominate the political scene more thoroughly than ever." I share his chagrin, but suggest that the problem is that Krugman was wrong to also assert that "economics is not a morality play." In fact, I believe that defeating the zombie-like resilience of laissez faire capitalism will require directly refuting the moral belief in the inherent fairness of free market outcomes.

Consider a recent suggestion by Harvard economist Greg Mankiw, former Chairman of George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisors, that tax policy should be based on a "Just Deserts Theory" under which "people should get what they deserve." This principle, a restatement of Equity Theory, proposed by psychologist John Adams in 1963 to explain how people evaluated distributional fairness, has long played a central role in tax debates, and is one that I, like many liberals, heartily endorse. Indeed, I think that widespread support for free markets is based more on belief in their inherent morality than on belief that they promote economic growth, potentially explaining the religious fervor of free-market fundamentalists defending their faith despite the considerable counter-evidence provided by recent events.

Mankiw concisely summarizes the theory underlying the ethical argument for market capitalism: "under a standard set of assumptions... the factors of production [i.e., workers] are paid the value of their marginal product... One might easily conclude that, under these idealized conditions, each person receives his just deserts." Mankiw's long-standing opposition to higher taxes on the wealthy suggests that he thinks these conditions usually pertain in the real world, too.

Consider me skeptical. The list of "standard assumptions" open to question is long, but two are particularly problematic (Northwestern economist Jonathan Weinstein has critiqued several others). First, how can we be sure that marginal productivity is the same as social contribution? A safe cracker in a criminal gang may indeed receive loot equal to his marginal productivity, but this doesn't mean that he is creating social wealth. Thus, financial industry profits accounted for over 40 percent of all corporate profits in 2004-5, but does anyone seriously contend that Wall Street created (rather than redistributed) 40 percent of wealth during that period?

The second problem is one that Mankiw himself acknowledges when he comments that the dramatic growth in income at the very top of the economic pyramid might be thought of as a lottery, with a few lucky winners reaping the lion's share of rewards. As economists Robert Frank and Philip Cook point out in their book The Winner Take All Society, technological change and ever-larger markets have caused small differences in ability, effort or luck to translate into large differences in income. Economic theory says that such "tournament rewards" create an incentive for individuals to exert maximal effort, consistent with just deserts as long as you don't mind that "losers" get much less despite trying nearly (or just) as hard. But theory also says that tournament rewards create an incentive for people to sabotage the efforts of others and to take on as much risk as possible. Given the role that excess risk played in Wall Street's meltdown, this is hardly a ringing endorsement for the fairness (or efficiency) of free market outcomes.

So Mankiw's "easy" conclusion that markets deliver just deserts depends critically on his own moral intuition about what is just. Given humanity's well-known ability to convince ourselves that what is in our own self-interest is fair, it is hardly surprising that wealthy conservatives like Mankiw would believe that free market capitalism delivers fair outcomes. But it is noteworthy that in one real-world situation with tournament rewards -- lotteries -- society typically imposes taxes in excess of 50 percent, since winners pay regular income taxes on earnings already halved by the governmental sponsor's share of the pot.

Moreover, a large body of laboratory research investigating moral intuitions regarding the division of a pool of money has demonstrated the powerful appeal of an equal split, a preference consistent with anthropological evidence that hunter-gatherer groups are remarkably and consistently egalitarian. While a handful of studies have demonstrated that preferences for equality in the laboratory are (slightly) reduced when subjects have to earn the money at stake, this involves experimenters (who provide the money in the first place) making it clear that they consider the earner to have made a commensurate contribution in the laboratory setting.

So, sure, people like just deserts when there is compelling evidence that they are indeed just. But the egalitarianism of hunter-gatherers, whose groups undoubtedly included considerable and obvious variation in individual abilities, suggests that the standard of proof for justifying inequality can be quite high.

I therefore think it likely that conservative icon Joe the Plumber favors lower taxes not simply because his own personal experience suggests that smarter and harder-working plumbers (granted, he isn't actually a plumber) tend to provide better services and to have proportionately higher incomes as a result, but also because authorities like Mankiw assert that a complicated mathematical theory says that this intuition is true throughout the economic system. To be sure, populist Joe might claim to disdain elite theory, but as Keynes once observed, "practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist."

Thus, Tea Party advocates sustain their belief in the market's fairness by blaming the government for bailing out Wall Street and interfering with the market's ethical magic, explaining why their initial targets were Republicans who supported the bailout (like Mankiw). Meanwhile, Democrats have completely failed to link higher taxes on the wealthy to populist anger at those who prospered while driving the economy into a ditch. To regain the initiative, I believe, progressives must directly challenge the claim that unfettered markets create just deserts. This won't be easy. Free market fundamentalists have the advantage of a simple message -- ending bailouts will deliver just deserts -- and of nearly limitless funds from rich folks who benefited from the bailout but are happy to claim that it should never happen again.

Let me therefore suggest one way to start: replace the estate tax with an inheritance tax. Republicans use the term "death" tax to imply that society is confiscating a lifetime of just deserts wealth. But if taxes are to be based on Mankiw's proposal that those "who contribute more to society deserve a higher income that reflects those greater contributions," then inheritors who have contributed nothing themselves should pay substantially higher rates (full disclosure: I am myself an inheritor).

I believe a debate about inheritance taxes will allow us to distinguish two arguments that appear similar but are critically different. The claim that people should get their just deserts is tricky to implement, but offers a valid moral principle to guide public debate. But the closely related argument that government should "keep its hands off my money" represents pure selfishness by people who refuse to acknowledge that public goods like education and defense are essential for the creation and protection of private wealth. Progressives have to make clear that the attempt to eliminate taxes on inheritors suggests that conservatives believe that all-you-can-eat socialism is fine for the rich as long as there is just-deserts capitalism for everyone else.

Faith Based Religious Neoliberalism and the Politics of Welfare in the United States

"Hackworth's study begins to remedy the absence of attention to religion within the critical scholarship on neoliberalism, and it will push this literature in a new and much-needed direction. Faith Based is very accessible and interesting, and it moves along nicely. It's a great book."-Jason Dittmer, author of Popular Culture, Geopolitics, and Identity

"Faith Based explores how the Religious Right has supported neoliberalism in the U.S. offering case studies of gospel rescue missions, religious charities in action in post-Katrina New Orleans, and more. . . . The result is a fine guide that discusses coalition building on the right as it relates to faith-based alternatives to welfare: a fine pick for any spirituality collection."- Midwest Book Review

"This insightful book explains the partial fusion of religious conservatism and libertarian economies in the US. . . . [It] will be valuable for research libraries, graduate students, and upper-level undergraduate students interested in religion and politics, social welfare, and nonprofit organizations."-D. B. Robertson, Choice

"This is an interesting study of the interplay of religion, economics and politics."-Al Menendez, Journal of Americans for Religious Liberty

Josie E. Davis on September 27, 2012

A welcome guidebook to the world of conservative politics

Those of us who watched in mild confusion as the Tea Party became a significant political force in a matter of two years--despite its angry and, at times, incoherent blend of libertarian ethos and quasi-religious placards--will find in Faith Based a welcome guidebook to the wilderness of conservative politics. At once a critical history of the more conservative arm of the contemporary Right; a penetrating sociopolitical analysis of the party's dismantling of social programs, particularly welfare; and a theoretical exploration of the ramifications thereof, Jason Hackworth's study is a timely and welcome addition to the crowded field of political tomes.

States of Devotion Religion, Neoliberalism, and the Politics of the Body in the Americas CSGS Center for the Study of Gender

This conference aims to promote and strengthen interdisciplinary dialogue about the changing role and place of religious discourses and practices in the wake of the transformations wrought by neoliberal globalization upon communities, societies and polities across the Hemisphere. This event is part of a multi-year project on 'Religion and Politics in the Americas' funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. Starting from the understanding that conceptions and models of "pluralism" or "secularism" vary across national contexts and regional geographies, we want to focus our attention on the ways in which the retraction of the state and the unrestrained acceleration of economic forces and market logics-neoliberal globalization-have transformed the experience of religiosity as well as the role and influence of religion across the Americas.

As religious life has become increasingly channeled through the complex mechanisms of a neoliberal marketplace, the market has increasingly taken on roles and functions previously occupied by the state across broad social arenas. These transformations have not only affected discrete areas of social and economic policy, such as health care, education and security, but have also given rise to new private-public interfaces such as faith-based initiatives and discourses of volunteerism that have supplanted the discourses of rights. This shift has also required the production of new kinds of subjects, emblematized by the shift from citizen to consumer.

We are particularly interested in the ways in which religious diversity has been variously enabled, foreclosed, harnessed and even commodified by the neoliberal state. In this context, we also wish to explore how public debates over gender and sexuality serve as flashpoints illuminating the wider workings of the state's ongoing negotiation with religion and religious difference. Sexuality and sexual life more broadly connect individuals to the state as citizens, to the market as consumer-laborers, and to the supposedly traditional values represented by religion. But how this happens, and with what policy implications on a range of issues, will not be the same in every national context.

Islam's Marriage With Neo Liberalism State Transformation in Turkey

The transformation of the Turkish state is examined here in the context of globalized frames of neo-liberal capitalism and contemporary schemes of Islamic politics. It shows how the historical emergence of two distinct yet intertwined imaginaries of state structuring, secularism (laiklik) and Islam, continue to influence Turkish politics as strongly today as they did in the nineteenth century. The Ottoman integration into the nineteenth century market economy produced a secular state-restructuring project. Mid-twentieth century statism produced the laik Kemalist state. Late twentieth and early twenty-first century neoliberalist capitalist ideas, emanating from the EU and the IMF-World Bank, are shaping the current Islamic state-restructuring project. Nowhere is this more evident than in the context of Turkey's EU membership bid.

It is contingent, at the national level, on the political mobilization of various social groups who uphold Islamic ethical principles of justice and embody globalized, interpretive frames of referencing. Although this demonstrates how power relations in the state have been reconstituted under domestic and world-historical conditions, the outcome is, nonetheless, by no means certain.

Urban Neoliberalism with Islamic Characteristics Ozan Karaman - Academia.edu

Islam's Marriage with Neoliberalism Yildiz Atasoy Palgrave Macmillan

The Clash of Islam and Liberalism

Islam is not merely a religion. It is also - and perhaps, foremost - a state ideology. It is all-pervasive and missionary. It permeates every aspect of social cooperation and culture. It is an organizing principle, a narrative, a philosophy, a value system, and a vade mecum. In this it resembles Confucianism and, to some extent, Hinduism.

Judaism and its offspring, Christianity - though heavily involved in political affairs throughout the ages - have kept their dignified distance from such carnal matters. These are religions of "heaven" as opposed to Islam, a practical, pragmatic, hands-on, ubiquitous, "earthly" creed.

Secular religions - Democratic Liberalism, Communism, Fascism, Nazism, Socialism and other isms - are more akin to Islam than to, let's say, Buddhism. They are universal, prescriptive, and total. They provide recipes, rules, and norms regarding every aspect of existence - individual, social, cultural, moral, economic, political, military, and philosophical.

At the end of the Cold War, Democratic Liberalism stood triumphant over the fresh graves of its ideological opponents. They have all been eradicated. This precipitated Fukuyama's premature diagnosis (the End of History). But one state ideology, one bitter rival, one implacable opponent, one contestant for world domination, one antithesis remained - Islam.

Militant Islam is, therefore, not a cancerous mutation of "true" Islam. On the contrary, it is the purest expression of its nature as an imperialistic religion which demands unmitigated obedience from its followers and regards all infidels as both inferior and avowed enemies.

The same can be said about Democratic Liberalism. Like Islam, it does not hesitate to exercise force, is missionary, colonizing, and regards itself as a monopolist of the "truth" and of "universal values". Its antagonists are invariably portrayed as depraved, primitive, and below par.

Such mutually exclusive claims were bound to lead to an all-out conflict sooner or later. The "War on Terrorism" is only the latest round in a millennium-old war between Islam and other "world systems".

Such interpretation of recent events enrages many. They demand to know (often in harsh tones):

- Don't you see any differences between Islam on the one hand and Judaism and Christianity on the other?

Islam is a young religion, less than 1400 years old. When Judaism and Christianity were at this phase of their development, they resembled Islam today: they were rife with militancy, obscurantism, misogyny, missionary belligerence, and all-pervading, dogmatic intolerance.

- Don't you see any difference between terrorists who murder civilians and regular armies in battle?

Both regulars and irregulars slaughter civilians as a matter of course. "Collateral damage" is the main outcome of modern, total warfare - and of low intensity conflicts alike.

There is a major difference between terrorists and soldiers, though:

Terrorists make carnage of noncombatants their main tactic - while regular armies rarely do. Such conduct is criminal and deplorable, whoever the perpetrator.

But what about the killing of combatants in battle? How should we judge the slaying of soldiers by terrorists in combat?

Modern nation-states enshrined the self-appropriated monopoly on violence in their constitutions and ordinances (and in international law). Only state organs - the army, the police - are permitted to kill, torture, and incarcerate.

Terrorists are trust-busters: they, too, want to kill, torture, and incarcerate. They seek to break the death cartel of governments by joining its ranks.

Thus, when a soldier kills terrorists and ("inadvertently") civilians (as "collateral damage") - it is considered above board. But when the terrorist decimates the very same soldier - he is decried as an outlaw.

Moreover, the misbehavior of some countries - not least the United States - led to the legitimization of terrorism. Often nation-states use terrorist organizations to further their geopolitical goals. When this happens, erstwhile outcasts become "freedom fighters", pariahs become allies, murderers are recast as sensitive souls struggling for equal rights. This contributes to the blurring of ethical percepts and the blunting of moral judgment.

We must bear in mind that Islam is a relatively young religion, at a stage of its development similar to 11th century Christianity: belligerent, missionary, exclusive, and committed to Jihad (doing battle with one's frailties, foibles, and weaknesses in order to get closer to God). In the Medieval Church, the various orders of ascetic monks reified this ideal of attaining goodness and holiness by suppressing one's humanity and renouncing the world and its temptations. In this sense, they were a mirror image of today's Islamic militants. Many of them indeed went on to participate in the Crusades (warrior-monks such as the Knight Templars and the Hospitaliers).

- Would you rather live under sharia law? Don't you find Liberal Democracy vastly superior to Islam?

Superior, no. Different - of course. Having been born and raised in the West, I naturally prefer its standards to Islam's. Had I been born in a Muslim country, I would have probably found the West and its principles perverted and obnoxious.

The question is meaningless because it presupposes the existence of an objective, universal, culture and period independent set of preferences. Luckily, there is no such thing.

- In this clash of civilization whose side are you on?

This is not a clash of civilizations. Western medieval culture is inextricably intertwined with Islamic knowledge, teachings, and philosophy – the direct descendants of antiquity.

Christian fundamentalists have more in common with Muslim militants than with East Coast or French intellectuals.

Muslims have always been the West's most defining Other. Islamic existence and "gaze" helped to mold the West's emerging identity as a historical construct. From Spain to India, the incessant friction and fertilizing interactions with Islam shaped Western values, beliefs, doctrines, moral tenets, political and military institutions, arts, and sciences.

This war is about world domination. Two incompatible thought and value systems compete for the hearts and minds (and purchasing power) of the denizens of the global village. Like in the Westerns, by high noon, either one of them is left standing - or both will have perished.

Where does my loyalty reside?

I am a Westerner, so I hope the West wins this confrontation. But, in the process, it would be good if it were humbled, deconstructed, and reconstructed. One beneficial outcome of this conflict is the demise of the superpower system - a relic of days bygone and best forgotten. I fully believe and trust that in militant Islam, the United States has found its match.

In other words, I regard militant Islam as a catalyst that will hasten the transformation of the global power structure from unipolar to multipolar. It may also commute the United States itself. It will definitely rejuvenate religious thought and cultural discourse. All wars do.

Aren't you overdoing it? After all, al-Qaida is just a bunch of terrorists on the run!

The West is not fighting al-Qaida. It is facing down the circumstances and ideas that gave rise to al-Qaida. Conditions - such as poverty, ignorance, disease, oppression, and xenophobic superstitions - are difficult to change or to reverse. Ideas are impossible to suppress. Already, militant Islam is far more widespread and established that any Western government would care to admit.

History shows that all terrorist groupings ultimately join the mainstream. Many countries - from Israel to Ireland and from East Timor to Nicaragua - are governed by former terrorists. Terrorism enhances social upward mobility and fosters the redistribution of wealth and resources from the haves to haves not.

Al-Qaida, despite its ominous portrayal in the Western press - is no exception. It, too, will succumb, in due time, to the twin lures of power and money. Nihilistic and decentralized as it is - its express goals are the rule of Islam and equitable economic development. It is bound to get its way in some countries.

The world of the future will be truly pluralistic. The proselytizing zeal of Liberal Democracy and Capitalism has rendered them illiberal and intolerant. The West must accept the fact that a sizable chunk of humanity does not regard materialism, individualism, liberalism, progress, and democracy - at least in their Western guises - as universal or desirable.

Live and let live (and live and let die) must replace the West's malignant optimism and intellectual and spiritual arrogance.

Edward K. Thompson, the managing editor of "Life" from 1949 to 1961, once wrote:

"'Life' must be curious, alert, erudite and moral, but it must achieve this without being holier-than-thou, a cynic, a know-it-all or a Peeping Tom."

The West has grossly and thoroughly violated Thompson's edict. In its oft-interrupted intercourse with these forsaken regions of the globe, it has acted, alternately, as a Peeping Tom, a cynic and a know it all. It has invariably behaved as if it were holier-than-thou. In an unmitigated and fantastic succession of blunders, miscalculations, vain promises, unkept threats and unkempt diplomats - it has driven the world to the verge of war and the regions it "adopted" to the threshold of economic and social upheaval.

Enamored with the new ideology of free marketry cum democracy, the West first assumed the role of the omniscient. It designed ingenious models, devised foolproof laws, imposed fail-safe institutions and strongly "recommended" measures. Its representatives, the tribunes of the West, ruled the plebeian East with determination rarely equaled by skill or knowledge.

Velvet hands couched in iron gloves, ignorance disguised by economic newspeak, geostrategic interests masquerading as forms of government, characterized their dealings with the natives. Preaching and beseeching from ever higher pulpits, they poured opprobrium and sweet delusions on the eagerly duped, naive, bewildered masses.

The deceit was evident to the indigenous cynics - but it was the failure that dissuaded them and others besides. The West lost its former colonies not when it lied egregiously, not when it pretended to know for sure when it surely did not know, not when it manipulated and coaxed and coerced - but when it failed.

To the peoples of these regions, the king was fully dressed. It was not a little child but an enormous debacle that exposed his nudity. In its presumptuousness and pretentiousness, feigned surety and vain clichés, imported economic models and exported cheap raw materials - the West succeeded to demolish beyond reconstruction whole economies, to ravage communities, to wreak ruination upon the centuries-old social fabric, woven diligently by generations.

It brought crime and drugs and mayhem but gave very little in return, only a horizon beclouded and thundering with vacuous eloquence. As a result, while tottering regional governments still pay lip service to the values of Capitalism, the masses are enraged and restless and rebellious and baleful and anti-Western to the core.

The disenchanted were not likely to acquiesce for long - not only with the West's neo-colonialism but also with its incompetence and inaptitude, with the nonchalant experimentation that it imposed upon them and with the abyss between its proclamations and its performance.

Throughout this time, the envoys of the West - its mediocre politicians, its insatiably ruthless media, its obese tourists, its illiterate soldiers, and its armchair economists - continue to play the role of God, wreaking greater havoc than even the original.

While confessing to omniscience (in breach of every tradition scientific and religious), they also developed a kind of world weary, unshaven cynicism interlaced with fascination at the depths plumbed by the locals' immorality and amorality.

The jet-set Peeping Toms reside in five star hotels (or luxurious apartments) overlooking the communist, or Middle-Eastern, or African shantytowns. They drive utility vehicles to the shabby offices of the native bureaucrats and dine in $100 per meal restaurants ("it's so cheap here").

In between kebab and hummus they bemoan and grieve the corruption and nepotism and cronyism ("I simply love their ethnic food, but they are so..."). They mourn the autochthonous inability to act decisively, to cut red tape, to manufacture quality, to open to the world, to be less xenophobic (said while casting a disdainful glance at the native waiter).

To them it looks like an ancient force of nature and, therefore, an inevitability - hence their cynicism. Mostly provincial people with horizons limited by consumption and by wealth, these heralds of the West adopt cynicism as shorthand for cosmopolitanism. They erroneously believe that feigned sarcasm lends them an air of ruggedness and rich experience and the virile aroma of decadent erudition. Yet all it does is make them obnoxious and even more repellent to the residents than they already were.

Ever the preachers, the West - both Europeans and Americans - uphold themselves as role models of virtue to be emulated, as points of reference, almost inhuman or superhuman in their taming of the vices, avarice up front.

Yet the chaos and corruption in their own homes is broadcast live, day in and day out, into the cubicles inhabited by the very people they seek to so transform. And they conspire and collaborate in all manner of venality and crime and scam and rigged elections in all the countries they put the gospel to.

In trying to put an end to history, they seem to have provoked another round of it - more vicious, more enduring, more traumatic than before. That the West is paying the price for its mistakes I have no doubt. For isn't it a part and parcel of its teachings that everything has a price and that there is always a time of reckoning?

Note - Globalization - Liberalism's Disastrous Gamble

From Venezuela to Thailand, democratic regimes are being toppled by authoritarian substitutes: the military, charismatic left-wingers, or mere populists. Even in the USA, the bastion of constitutional rule, civil and human rights are being alarmingly eroded (though not without precedent in wartime).

The prominent ideologues of liberal democracy have committed a grave error by linking themselves inextricably with the doctrine of freemarketry and the emerging new order of globalization. As Thomas Friedman correctly observes in "The Lexus and the Olive Tree", both strains of thought are strongly identified with the United States of America (USA).

Thus, liberal democracy came to be perceived by the multitudes as a ruse intended to safeguard the interests of an emerging, malignantly narcissistic empire (the USA) and of rapacious multinationals. Liberal democracy came to be identified with numbing, low-brow cultural homogeneity, encroachment on privacy and the individual, and suppression of national and other idiosyncratic sentiments.

Liberal democracy came to be confused and confuted with neo-colonial exploitation, social Darwinism, and the crumbling of social compacts and long-standing treaties, both explicit and implicit. It even came to be associated with materialism and a bewildering variety of social ills: rising crime rates, unemployment, poverty, drug addiction, prostitution, organ trafficking, monopolistic behavior, corporate malfeasance, and other antisocial forms of conduct.

The backlash was, thus, inevitable.

Note - Exclusionary Ideas of Progress

Communism, Fascism, Nazism, and Religious Fundamentalism are as utopian as the classical Idea of Progress, which is most strongly reified by Western science and liberal democracy. All four illiberal ideologies firmly espouse a linear view of history: Man progresses by accumulating knowledge and wealth and by constructing ever-improving polities. Similarly, the classical, all-encompassing, idea of progress is perceived to be a "Law of Nature" with human jurisprudence and institutions as both its manifestations and descriptions. Thus, all ideas of progress are pseudo-scientific.

Still, there are some important distinctions between Communism, Fascism, Nazism, and Religious Fundamentalism, on the one hand, and Western liberalism, on the other hand:

All four totalitarian ideologies regard individual tragedies and sacrifices as the inevitable lubricant of the inexorable March Forward of the species. Yet, they redefine "humanity" (who is human) to exclude large groups of people. Communism embraces the Working Class (Proletariat) but not the Bourgeoisie, Nazism promotes one Volk but denigrates and annihilates others, Fascism bows to the Collective but viciously persecutes dissidents, Religious Fundamentalism posits a chasm between believers and infidels.

In these four intolerant ideologies, the exclusion of certain reviled groups of people is both a prerequisite for the operation of the "Natural Law of Progress" and an integral part of its motion forward. The moral and spiritual obligation of "real" Man to future generations is to "unburden" the Law, to make it possible for it to operate smoothly and in optimal conditions, with all hindrances (read: undesirables) removed (read: murdered).

All four ideologies subvert modernity (in other words, Progress itself) by using its products (technology) to exclude and kill "outsiders", all in the name of servicing "real" humanity and bettering its lot.

But liberal democracy has been intermittently guilty of the same sin. The same deranged logic extends to the construction and maintenance of nuclear weapons by countries like the USA, the UK, France, and Israel: they are intended to protect "good" humanity against "bad" people (e.g., Communists during the Cold war, Arabs, or failed states such as Iran). Even global warming is a symptom of such exclusionary thinking: the rich feel that they have the right to tax the "lesser" poor by polluting our common planet and by disproportionately exhausting its resources.

The fact is that, at least since the 1920s, the very existence of Mankind is being recurrently threatened by exclusionary ideas of progress. Even Colonialism, which predated modern ideologies, was inclusive and sought to "improve" the Natives" and "bring them to the White Man's level" by assimilating or incorporating them in the culture and society of the colonial power. This was the celebrated (and then decried) "White Man's Burden". That we no longer accept our common fate and the need to collaborate to improve our lot is nothing short of suicidal.

"CHRISTMAS is at our throats again."

That was the cheery yuletide greeting favored by the late English playwright Noël Coward, commemorating the holiday after which he was named. Less contrarian were the words of President Calvin Coolidge: "Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas."

Which quotation strikes a chord with you? Are you a Coward or a Coolidge?

If you sympathize more with Coward, welcome to the club. There are many more of us out there than one might expect. A 2005 survey by the Pew Research Center found that more than half of Americans were bothered "some" or "a lot" by the commercialization of Christmas. A 2013 follow-up confirmed that materialism is Americans' least favorite part of the season.

Call it the Christmas Conundrum. We are supposed to revel in gift-giving and generosity, yet the season's lavishness and commercialization leave many people cold. The underlying contradiction runs throughout modern life. On one hand, we naturally seek and rejoice in prosperity. On the other hand, success in this endeavor is often marred by a materialism we find repellent and alienating.

On a recent trip to India, I found an opportunity to help sort out this contradiction. I sought guidance from a penniless Hindu swami named Gnanmunidas at the Swaminarayan Akshardham Hindu temple in New Delhi. We had never met before, but he came highly recommended by friends. If Yelp reviewed monks, he would have had five stars.

To my astonishment, Gnanmunidas greeted me with an avuncular, "How ya doin'?" He referred to me as "dude." And what was that accent - Texas? Sure enough, he had grown up in Houston, the son of Indian petroleum engineers, and had graduated from the University of Texas. Later, he got an M.B.A., and quickly made a lot of money.

But then Gnanmunidas had his awakening. At 26, he asked himself, "Is this all there is?" His grappling with that question led him to India, where he renounced everything and entered a Hindu seminary. Six years later, he emerged a monk. From that moment on, the sum total of his worldly possessions has been two robes, prayer beads and a wooden bowl. He is prohibited from even touching money - a discipline that would obviously be impossible for those of us enmeshed in ordinary economic life.

As an economist, I was more than a little afraid to hear what this capitalist-turned-renunciant had to teach me. But I posed a query nonetheless: "Swami, is economic prosperity a good or bad thing?" I held my breath and waited for his answer.

"It's good," he replied. "It has saved millions of people in my country from starvation."

This was not what I expected. "But you own almost nothing," I pressed. "I was sure you'd say that money is corrupting." He laughed at my naïveté. "There is nothing wrong with money, dude. The problem in life is attachment to money." The formula for a good life, he explained, is simple: abundance without attachment.

The assertion that there is nothing wrong with abundance per se is entirely consistent with most mainstream philosophies. Even traditions commonly perceived as ascetic rarely condemn prosperity on its face. The Dalai Lama, for example, teaches that material goods themselves are not the problem. The real issue, he writes, is our delusion that "satisfaction can arise from gratifying the senses alone."

Moreover, any moral system that takes poverty relief seriously has to celebrate the ahistoric economic bounty that has been harvested these past few centuries. The proportion of the world living on $1 per day or less has shrunk by 80 percent in our lifetimes. Today, Bill Gates can credibly predict that almost no countries will be conventionally "poor" by 2035.

In other words, if we are lucky enough to achieve abundance, we should be thankful for it and work to share the means to create it with others around the world. The real trick is the second part of the formula: avoiding attachment.

In Tibetan, the word "attachment" is translated as "do chag," which literally means "sticky desire." It signifies a desperate grasping at something, motivated by fear of separation from the object. One can find such attachment in many dysfunctional corners of life, from jealous relationships to paranoia about reputation and professional standing.

In the realm of material things, attachment results in envy and avarice. Getting beyond these snares is critical to life satisfaction. But how to do it? Three practices can help.

First, collect experiences, not things.

Material things appear to be permanent, while experiences seem evanescent and likely to be forgotten. Should you take a second honeymoon with your spouse, or get a new couch? The week away sounds great, but hey - the couch is something you'll have forever, right?

Wrong. Thirty years from now, when you are sitting in rocking chairs on the porch, you'll remember your second honeymoon in great detail. But are you likely to say to one another, "Remember that awesome couch?" Of course not. It will be gone and forgotten. Though it seems counterintuitive, it is physically permanent stuff that evaporates from our minds. It is memories in the ether of our consciousness that last a lifetime, there for us to enjoy again and again.

This "paradox of things" has been thoroughly documented by researchers. In 2003, psychologists from the University of Colorado and Cornell studied how Americans remembered different kinds of purchases - material things and experiences - they have made in the past. Using both a national survey and a controlled experiment with human subjects, they found that reflecting on experiential purchases left their subjects significantly happier than did remembering the material acquisitions.

I learned this lesson once and for all from my son Carlos. Five years ago, when Carlos was 9 years old, he announced that all he wanted for Christmas was a fishing trip - just the two of us, alone. No toys; no new things - just the trip. So we went fishing, and have done so every year since. Any material thing I had bought him would have been long forgotten. Yet both of us can tell you every place we've gone together, and all the fish we've caught, every single year.

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Second, steer clear of excessive usefulness.

Our daily lives often consist of a dogged pursuit of practicality and usefulness at all costs. This is a sure path toward the attachment we need to avoid. Aristotle makes this point in his Nicomachean Ethics; he shows admiration for learned men because "they knew things that are remarkable, admirable, difficult, and divine, but useless."

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Countless studies show that doing things for their own sake - as opposed to things that are merely a means to achieve something else - makes for mindfulness and joy.

In one famous experiment, college students were given puzzles to solve. Some of the students were paid, and others were not. The unpaid participants tended to continue to work on the puzzles after the experiment was finished, whereas the paid participants abandoned the task as soon as the session was over. And the paid subjects reported enjoying the whole experience less.

FOR those living paycheck to paycheck, a focus on money is understandable. But for those of us blessed to be above poverty, attachment to money is a means-ends confusion. Excessive focus on your finances obscures what you are supposed to enjoy with them. It's as if your experience of the holidays never extended beyond the time spent at the airport on the way to see family. (If you're thinking that's actually the best part, then you have a different problem.)

This manifestly does not mean we should abandon productive impulses. On the contrary, it means we need to treat our industry as an intrinsic end. This is the point made famously in the Hindu text the Bhagavad Gita, where work is sanctified as inherently valuable, not as a path to a payoff.

And finally, get to the center of the wheel.

In the rose windows of many medieval churches, one finds the famous "wheel of fortune," or rota fortunae. The concept is borrowed from ancient Romans' worship of the pagan goddess Fortuna. Following the wheel's rim around, one sees the cycle of victory and defeat that everyone experiences throughout the struggles of life. At the top of the circle is a king; at the bottom, the same man as a pauper.

Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" uses the idea to tell of important people brought low throughout history: "And thus does Fortune's wheel turn treacherously. And out of happiness bring men to sorrow."

The lesson went beyond the rich and famous. Everyone was supposed to remember that each of us is turning on the wheel. One day, we're at the top of our game. But from time to time, we find ourselves laid low in health, wealth and reputation.

If the lesson ended there, it would be pretty depressing. Every victory seems an exercise in futility, because soon enough we will be back at the bottom. But as the Catholic theologian Robert Barron writes, the early church answered this existential puzzle by placing Jesus at the center of the wheel. Worldly things occupy the wheel's rim. These objects of attachment spin ceaselessly and mercilessly. Fixed at the center was the focal point of faith, the lodestar for transcending health, wealth, power, pleasure and fame - for moving beyond mortal abundance. The least practical thing in life was thus the most important and enduring.

But even if you are not religious, there is an important lesson for us embedded in this ancient theology. Namely, woe be unto those who live and die by the slings and arrows of worldly attachment. To prioritize these things is to cling to the rim, a sure recipe for existential vertigo. Instead, make sure you know what is the transcendental truth at the center of your wheel, and make that your focus.

So here is my central claim: The frustration and emptiness so many people feel at this time of year is not an objection to the abundance per se, nor should it be. It is a healthy hunger for nonattachment. This season, don't rail against the crowds of shoppers on Fifth Avenue or become some sort of anti-gift misanthrope. Celebrate the bounty that has pulled millions out of poverty worldwide. But then, ponder the three practices above. Move beyond attachment by collecting experiences, avoid excessive usefulness, and get to the center of your wheel. It might just turn out to be a happy holiday after all.

I never finished my story about Swami Gnanmunidas. Before I left him that day in Delhi, we had a light lunch of soup and naan. I told him I would be writing about our conversation; many Americans would be hearing his name. He contemplated this for a moment and, modeling nonattachment, responded simply.

"Dude, do you like the soup? It's spicy."

Arthur C. Brooks is a contributing opinion writer who is the president of the American Enterprise Institute.

[Mar 6, 2012] The Blowback of TINA By John Feffer,

March 6, 2012
There is a terrible rule of war. Whatever new weapon that you introduce onto the battlefield, your adversary will eventually acquire it as well. Indeed, they will often use an industrial-strength version of that very same weapon against you.

Hiram Maxim invented the modern machine gun – automated and oil-cooled – but the British army dismissed the invention. Not so the Germans, who used it with deadly accuracy against the British in World War I. The French, meanwhile, were the first to use modern chemical warfare in 1915 by deploying tear gas against the Germans with little effect. The Germans quickly improved on the innovation by developing chlorine gas, and later mustard gas, with devastating effect. And, of course, Americans invented nuclear weapons and then spent the next half-century trying to forestall their use by others.

The perfect weapon, however, has no odor and makes no sound. It has no half-life. It doesn't require huge factories and production lines. There are no truly effective defenses.

The perfect weapon, of course, is ideology. And the United States, in the nuclear age, believed that it had created just such a perfect weapon. Washington would export the American version of liberal democracy and refashion the world in its own image. In so doing, America would make the world safe not so much for democracy, but for Americans.

But a funny thing happened on the way to hegemony. The very ideology that the United States assumed would defeat all comers has in fact been turned against the United States. Liberal democracy contains within it the very seeds of the American empire's destruction. Call it blowback, TINA-style.

But before tackling the paradox of There Is No Alternative, let's first look at how liberal democracy was supposed to work.

The first component of America's ideology of export is the market. According to the late 17th-century theory of le doux commerce, sweet commerce, trade smoothes the rough edges of human interaction. "There was much talk, from the late seventeenth century on, about the douceur of commerce," writes theorist Albert O. Hirschman. "Sweetness, softness, calm, and gentleness [are] the antonym of violence." Countries that trade together, in other words, are less likely to attack each other.

In the Cold War era, the United States promoted this approach, for instance, by supporting the creation of the European Union, a collection of previously antagonistic countries that turned toward building a cooperative trade organization. Washington might have "wars" with its allies during this period – with Japan, for instance – but these were only trade wars. As the Cold War faded, the World Trade Organization represented the triumph of sweet commerce as China and Russia entered a new international community dedicated to reducing trade barriers. As Francis Fukuyama argued, the great passions that prompted armed struggle and tremendous acts of heroism had been transmuted into the considerably less martial interests of the marketplace. The existential threat of Soviet communism was no more. Not only was capitalism triumphant but it had established a measure of security for the United States. No one would attack the country of the Treasury bond, Morgan Stanley, Apple Computer, and America's Got Talent. No one would see red when there was serious green to be had.

The yin to the market's yang has been, of course, democracy. The corollary to le doux commerce is that cornerstone of modern political theory: democracies don't go to war with one another. According to this theory, democracies are more likely to compromise with one another; democracies inherently respect other democracies; and democratic leaders fear losing elections if they lose wars. During the Cold War, the United States gathered around itself a league of democracies to counter the influence of communism. And when democracies produced leaders that were skeptical of American intentions – Mossadegh in Iran, Allende in Chile – we didn't go to war with those countries. We simply engaged in the more cost-effective techniques of subterfuge and subversion to install more malleable leaders.

The Cold War necessitated alliances with some bad apples, Washington realists contended. But the end of the Cold War unleashed a new wave of democracy – in the former Soviet bloc, in South Africa, throughout Latin America, and most recently in the Middle East. The autocratic rogues that Washington once needed –Hussein, Mubarak, Gaddafi – were no more (though a few, like Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan, continue to cling to power). The expanded arsenal of democracy provided another layer of security for the United States. Democrats might get testy with one another, they might bristle at leaders like George W. Bush, but they would never dream of using arms against the United States.

The combination of the market and democracy became the political economy equivalent of peanut butter and jelly: the default combo of simple comfort food for the leaders of the Free World. Margaret Thatcher coined the phrase TINA because she was convinced that the demise of the Soviet Union meant that she and Ronald Reagan had solved all of human history's thorny questions. Market democracies would prevail forever after. A decade later, here in America, the crowd around George W. Bush modified the TINA principle so that it would be our version of market democracy – without the peculiar deformations of capitalism and electoral politics practiced in quasi-socialist Europe – that would occupy the top spot in political economy's greatest hits.

In the same way that the dollar's status as the global currency sustains U.S. economic supremacy, the victory of the U.S. version of market democracy would sustain U.S. geopolitical hegemony.

It hasn't quite worked out this way, however. The United States currently faces the challenge of the "rise of the rest." Countries like China have used market forces to challenge the economic advantages of the United States. And the Arab Spring has demonstrated once again that democracy can easily produce nationalist or religiously inspired parties that steer their countries away from U.S. influence.

Let's begin with China. The once-communist country has ruthlessly used its comparative advantage – cheap labor – to attract an incredible amount of U.S. manufacturing, including the firms that originally relocated across the border in Mexico. The United States could have "broken the rules" and passed laws that would have made outsourcing very difficult. But U.S. corporations were more interested in profit than in helping maintain U.S. geopolitical hegemony. They don't call them "transnational" for nothing. Washington's adherence to laissez-faire capitalism has come back to haunt it. Unfettered markets unleash the forces of "creative destruction." And the United States is currently the epicenter of this tornado, with the 99 percent bearing the brunt of the gale-force winds.

Once China democratizes, so the argument goes, it will gradually come into line with internationally established economic practices. Independent labor unions will drive up wages. The government will respect intellectual property rights. The exchange rate will float into place. This might be true. But by the time these trends materialize, China will have already become the world's largest economy and the United States will already be shrinking in its rear-view mirror.

The spread of democracy worldwide promises a similar blowback, which is why Washington realists fear the spread of popular uprisings against the remaining authoritarian allies of the United States in Bahrain, Yemen, and elsewhere. U.S. post-Cold War anxiety about the geopolitical implications of democracy began in Algeria where, in local elections in 1990, an Islamic party won 62 percent of the vote. In the national elections the following year, the new party Front Islamique du Salut won more seats than any other. The Algerian government took a dim view of this democratic development, however. With French support, it banned the new party, threw its leaders in jail, and sent thousands of activists to detention camps in the Sahara desert. A civil war ensued that left more than 100,000 dead.

"The overturning of an election followed by gross human rights abuses would ordinarily have elicited a strong condemnation from Washington," I write in my new book, Crusade 2.0. "Instead, the United States acquiesced to the changes, just as it did a couple years earlier when the Turkish military's 'soft coup' of 1997 removed an Islamist prime minister. To avoid charges of anti-Islamic bias, U.S. officials couched their 'Islamist exception' in universalist terms. The U.S. government opposed what it called 'one person, one vote, one time.' In common parlance, this translated into a fear that Islamist parties would use democratic means to rise to power and then kick away the democratic ladder beneath them."

Washington once feared that communists would rise to power through democratic means – in Italy, Congo, Guatemala. After the end of the Cold War, Islamists quickly substituted for communists with the Algerian scenario now being replayed today throughout the Middle East. Islamist parties have won majorities in Tunisia and Egypt, as elections have provided an opportunity for these long-suppressed movements to appeal directly to the people. A similar future beckons for Libya and, possibly, Syria as well.

Elections have invariably produced leaders, whether Islamist or nationalist or socialist, who have questioned their country's alliance with the United States. The shift may not be immediate. Yukio Hatoyama in Japan, for instance, lasted less than a year before Washington exerted sufficient pressure to quash him. The Justice and Development Party in Turkey was skeptical about the U.S. war in Iraq and has broken relations with Israel, but it remains a NATO member. Lula in Brazil ultimately presided over a generally amicable relationship with Washington. Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood is not going to suddenly reverse all the agreements made under Hosni Mubarak. But in all these countries, the governments have been hedging their bets, cultivating closer ties with China or Russia or Iran. And the United States cannot take for granted any military basing agreement, from Bahrain to Okinawa.

Elections in America's rivals will not necessarily produce liberals. The recent re-coronation of Vladimir Putin in Russia, even acknowledging the widespread voting regularities, testifies to the popularity of the "iron fist," particularly outside the Moscow-Petersburg intelligentsia. The prevailing ideology in China, meanwhile, is remarkably similar. The Chinese people, if elections were held today, would not elect prominent dissidents or human rights lawyers. They would likely elect candidates as nationalist or more so than the Communist Party officials currently in charge. "A more democratic China would be less able to restrain public tendencies toward a kind of aggrieved nationalism," writes Richard Bernstein in The New York Review of Books, "with their components of anti-American and anti-Japanese sentiment."

The center of economic gravity is shifting toward China. The spread of democracy has complicated America's alliance structure and created new challenges to U.S. global leadership. The result of all this political and economic blowback will not likely be a war against the United States. China is not marshalling its strength to attack the Pacific Fleet. Iran is not waiting for the day when it can launch a nuclear-tipped missile at Topeka (much less Tel Aviv). Rather, the American empire will suffer a death of a thousand cuts. It will be like the failure of your computer: one virus, then another, then the inevitable slowing of the operating system, a patch that doesn't work properly, a program that stops responding, and one day it all adds up to the blue screen of death.

The weapons that will destroy the U.S. empire will be weapons of our own fashioning. The Chinese economy only became a threat to the United States when it copied our economic example. The leaders that will create the new international alliances that replace U.S. hegemony will be democratically elected. We will be hoisted by our own TINA. Perhaps only then will the world be able to enter the post-TINA era. Perhaps only then will we find a more nourishing meal than the PB-and-J ideology that has dominated our menu of options since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Torture and Complicity

In 1963, the CIA funded research into psychological techniques to break down potential informants. U.S. interrogators used this KUBARK Manual throughout Latin America and Southeast Asia. After 9/11, KUBARK returned in a different form.

"Although some of the material in KUBARK remained in use, psychologists augmented already-existing material with newer techniques, some of which had been developed from torture resistance protocols used to train U.S. military personnel to survive capture and interrogation themselves," write Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF) contributors Laura Melendez-Pallitto and Robert Pallitto in Psychologists and Torture, Then and Now.

"Discoveries initially applied to help possible torture victims were later used to break interrogation subjects held in U.S. custody. Psychologists were complicit in designing and using techniques to break subjects rather than aid them, and in so doing they made a mockery of their ethical obligation to 'do no harm.'"

New Deals

The United States and North Korea are on the verge of making nice. A new deal will freeze North Korea's uranium enrichment program and establish a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests. All the United States has to do is fulfill an earlier promise to provide humanitarian assistance.

"As the Obama administration attempts a 'Pacific pivot' to refocus its geopolitical energies from the Middle East to Asia, North Korea has been executing a pivot of its own," I write in North Korea's Pivot. "The centennial of the birth of the country's founder Kim Il Sung, 2012 is also the year that North Korea has pledged to achieve the status of kangsong taeguk: an economically prosperous and militarily strong country. To attract the economic investment necessary to achieve this goal, North Korea has reached out to friend and foe alike."

The United Kingdom, meanwhile, is trying to broker a deal on Somalia. But as FPIF contributor Francis Njubi Nesbitt argues, it will not be so easy to put the pieces of the Somali Humpty Dumpty together again. "It seems the West is still tied to the concept of a unified Somalia with a strong centralized state based Mogadishu," he writes in UK Takes the Lead in Somalia. "This notion, however, is a pipe dream. The Somali people have a long history of decentralized administration based on the traditional clan structure run by councils of elders and Islam. The idea that a centralized government based on the Western model can be transplanted to Somalia is unrealistic at best."

Oil, Cuba, War

The discovery of oil in Ghana promises a future of wealth or a future of discord. "There is a multi-directional tug of war in Ghana's petroleum industry among the Ghanaian government, the multinational oil companies, the citizens of the country, and the environment," writes FPIF columnist Kwei Quartey in Oil Over Troubled Waters. "Like most contests, it is unlikely that they will all be winners. Ghanaians in the homeland and abroad fear that the country and the environment will be the eventual losers and that the dreaded specter of another Niger Delta looms."

FPIF contributor Sam Farber has a new book out on Cuba. FPIF contributor Rebecca Whedon writes that "Farber's analysis leaves no topic uncovered. Cuba Since the Revolution of 1959 is a comprehensive, thoughtful treatment of a topic that has usually generated more heat than light in U.S. coverage in the past."

Our poem this week comes from Jose Padua. Here is a short excerpt from To the Valley in the Morning with Blood and Guts and Fear:

When there's war all the time, there's no such thing as
after the war anymore, no victory over our enemies day,
no victory worth selling tickets for day, just
days to celebrate that we're still the killers and not
the killed.

Finally, in our Focal Points blog, you can read Paul Mutter on Iraq, Conn Hallinan on Syria, and Michael Walker on Iran.

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