|Home||Switchboard||Unix Administration||Red Hat||TCP/IP Networks||Neoliberalism||Toxic Managers|
|May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)|
|News||American Polyarchy is not Democracy||Recommended Books||Recommended Links||Do the US intelligence agencies attempt to influence the US Presidential elections ?||Steele dossier||Donald Trump -- a former (for the duration of elections) fighter against excesses of neoliberal globalization||Russiagate -- a color revolution against Trump||The Iron Law of Oligarchy|
|Understanding Hillary Clinton email scandal||Crisis of legitimacy of neoliberal elite||Neocons foreign policy is a disaster for the USA||Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite||Superdelegates at Democratic National Convention||Bernie Sanders||The Deep State||Anti Trump Hysteria||Demexit|
|Neocons||Obama: a yet another Neocon||Resurgence of neo-fascism as reaction on neoliberalism||Media-Military-Industrial Complex||New American Militarism||Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich||Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism||Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism||Democratic Party Neoliberals Monday morning quarterbacking|
|Predator state||Anti-Russian hysteria in connection emailgate and DNC leak||DNC emails leak: switfboating Bernie Sanders and blaming Vladimir Putin||National Security State||American Exceptionalism||Libertarian Philosophy||Nation under attack meme||Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners"||Pluralism as a myth|
|Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few||Corporatist Corruption||Paleoconservatism||Corporatism||Ethno-linguistic Nationalism||Hillary Clinton email scandal: Timeline and summary||"Clinton Cash" Scandal: Hillary Clinton links to foreign donors and financial industry||Hillary role in Syria bloodbath||Hillary Clinton and Obama created ISIS|
|Myth about intelligent voter||Electoral College||Non-Interventionism||US Presidential Elections of 2012||Mayberry Machiavellians||Politically Incorrect Humor||Skeptic Quotations||Humor||Etc|
|"There is one political party in this country, and that is the party of money. It has two branches, the Republicans
and the Democrats, the chief difference between which is that the Democrats are better at concealing their scorn for the average
-- Gore Vidal
“The Democrats are the foxes, and the Republicans are the wolves – and they both want to devour you.” So what does that make Libertarians? Avian flu viruses?”
-- Leonard Pinkney
The race is no contest when you own both horses. That is why no matter which political party is in power nothing really changes other than the packaging. The puppets who drink at the champagne fountains of the powerful do the bidding of their masters. The people are superfluous to the process.
“The only people truly bound by campaign promises are the voters who believe them.”
Due to the side an introduction was moved to the separate page Polyarchy, Authoritarianism and Deep State
I subscribe to Kantian idea of the dignity in human, the idea that everyone is entitled to survival as well as thriving beyond survival. But does everybody is entitled to equal participation in ruling of the state ? Or in election of state leaders? Which is what democracy means. Is the democracy possible if three letter agencies like CIA exist? Probably not as "deep state" sooner or later (usually sooner) makes surface state just an instrument for providing legitimacy of deep state rule.
Presedent Truman probably did not suspect that by sighing the National Security Act of 1947 he signed a death sentence tothe form of democracy that the USA was having up to 1950th.
As part of the U.S. Cold War strategy, Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947 and reorganized military forces by merging the Department of War and the Department of the Navy into the National Military Establishment (later the Department of Defense) and creating the U.S. Air Force. The act also created the CIA and the National Security Council. In 1952, Truman secretly consolidated and empowered the cryptologic elements of the United States by creating the National Security Agency (NSA).
Since JFK assassination we can talk about "inverted totalitarism" (The term introduced by late Professor Sheldon Wolin) as the form on government which become entrenched on on federal level (the related term if the "deep state"), while remnants of democracy are delegated to state and local levels. Growth of power of intelligence agencies inevitably makes them political players. Nowhere it was more clear then in 2016 Presendential electio, when by derailing Sanders FBI essenatially ensure Trump win and then in cooperation of other againces (and first of all CIA Brennan) lauched a color regoluation againast Trump trying to deposer him vi Special Procecutor mechnism.
Does the "the first after the post" rule along with enforcing two party system on the population also is instrumental with establishing slightly camouflaged one party state with two "Pepsi" vs. "Coca Cola" parties which serve as a spoilers for those to the left or the right of the center, subverting and emasculating new social movements into their (currently neoliberal) stagnant and elite oriented framework. The effect is so profound that it created the impression that "first after the post" can't be used in any country pretending to be a democracy?
There are also addition questions:
The fact that parties represent interests radically different from interests of their voters is not new. As George Washinton put it:
"However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion." President George Washington Farewell Address | Saturday, September 17, 1796
Later the same idea was later coined as the "iron law of oligarchy". So on federal level neither republic, not democracy exists. We level in empire with no participatory democracy (unless voting to the lesser evil of two preselected by the elite candidate can be viewed as a democracy). In latest Presidential election it was intelligence agencies who were kingmakers, derailing Sanders. But it still exists on local level below the level of state, although even there financial oligarchy managed to spoil the broth -- on municipal level it is bankers who control the politics as they are interested in loans for public projects.
In other word decomicatinc elements in the neoliberal political system are just facade for the dictatorship of financial oligarchy. And pretty brutal one (The Saker - The Unz Review, Feb 23, 2018):
But first, full disclosure: I don’t have much faith in the so-called “democratic process”. Just look at the EU and tell me: do you really believe that the people in power represent the will and interests of the people who, supposedly, elected them? There are exceptions, of course, Switzerland is probably one of the comparatively most democratic countries out there, but mostly what we see is that western democracies are run by gangs of oligarchs and bureaucrats who have almost nothing in common with the people they are supposed to represent. As for the US, for decades now every time the people voted for “A” they always got “non-A” as a result. It is almost comical.
So here is my personal conclusion: democracies are political systems in which the real ruling elites hide behind an utterly fake appearance of people power. Putting it differently, the “democratic process” is the device by which the real and hidden rulers of the world (or “worldwide behind the scenes powers“, to use the expression of Ivan Il’in), legitimize their power and prevent their overthrow. This is the same technique followed by used car dealerships when they place tens, sometimes, hundreds of US flags on their lots before a car sale: it’s just a basic trick to induce the ‘correct’, patriotic, state of mind.
This is also the reason why there are elections every 4 years in the US: the more illegitimate and despotic any putatively “democratic” regime is, the more often it will organize elections to, so to speak, “increase the dose” of patriotically-induced stupor in its people and give them the illusion that the regime is legitimate, their opinion matters and all is well.
Finally, when needed, slogans such as “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others” are used to put to sleep those who might have doubts. In terms of real people power “democracies” are probably the least truly democratic regimes imaginable simply because they are by far the most capable of hiding who really runs the country and where their real centers of power are. Do I really need to add that the worst kind of “democracy” is the capitalist one? You disagree? Then why do you think that Mayer Amschel Rothschild allegedly declared “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws!“? Nowhere is the concentration of capital easier to achieve than in a society which makes it possible for the real ruling class to hide its power behind a screen of electoral farces.
As Sheldon Wolin put it, all we have under neoliberalism is inverted totalitarism and a nationally security state with modem equivalent of STASI level of total surveillance instead of democracy. The neoliberal elite firmly guar the levers of power and try to eliminate any challenger before it represent a real political threat to the neoliberal social system. Even minor threats are mercilessly squashed. Look at what happened to Trump.
Another important question is "democracy for whom?". There is always a large part of society (say bottom 80% or even 90%) living under the dictatorship (for lower 50% this is even worse -- neo-slavery as "debt slaves" or "wage slaves"), struggling to meet ends and thus excluded from the democratic process. Moreover, most of the US population spend their life under authoritarian rule: those who are parts of the military, who work in large corporation, or government. How they can behave in a democratic way if they are conditioned and adapted to the strict authoritarian rule at work ?
Another large question: can a typical American understand whom he/she is voting for in the environment of pretty sophisticated propaganda and systematic betrayal of election promises (in this repect Trump is not different from Barak Obama) as a political norm ("change we can believe in" )?
Add to this completely brainwashed population ready to vote against their economic interests and for indefinite and costly wars for the expansion of the global neoliberal empire led by the USA. For example, despicable warmonger, war criminal(with destruction of Libya and Syria under the belt), staunch neoliberal Hillary Clinton was so detached from reality that it hurts. Despite clear signs of the deep systemic crisis of neoliberalism in the USA and closely related process of de-legitimization of neoliberal elite (look what percentage of the Americans trust Congress) all she wanted is to kick the neoliberal can down the road. And still almost half of the country voted for her.
Also there is no rules that the candidate can not betray all his election time promises. Any level of betrayal is OK, as parties in reality do not control the behaviour of their leaders as long as they remain on neoliberal platform, and they and stay in office. Recent example of Clinton, Bush II, Obama and Trump are clear demonstration of the gap between election platform and actual governance.
In case of Trump and Obama this was a complete betrayal. In a way Trump is Republican Obama -- a person with almost zero political experience who due to the lack of personal political history during elections was able to pretend to be the politician, while he clearly is not -- he is a marionette of MIC (much like Barak was marionette of CIA; just look at "very close" and pretty unusual relations between him and Brennan) as well as Brannan role in color revolution against Trump
Poor people are automatically excluded from politics. most of their energy needs to be spend on task related to mere survival and desperate attempt to spread their meager paycheck to the next without falling into the laps of loan sharks.
Middle class can afford attempts to analyze the political situation and personal efforts to understand the political system in which they live. And because of that can have informed political opinion. Theoretically. In reality there also many obstacles here. One fundamental obstacle is so called The iron law of oligarchy. The second, related, is the existence of the deep state.
First of all let me ask a simple question: What is the level of interest in governance of an average middle class American (lower class with McJobs most of the time is too preoccupied with survival to be able to particulate in political activity), if they are brainwashed 24 x 7 by neoliberal propaganda which tries to distract them from discussing and understanding any serious issue facing the USA.
Also the middle class in not uniform. There is substantial caste of Americans deeply connected with the imperial state (servants of the empire so to speak) and they also represent a political force with interests different form the average middle class American. There are roughly three contractors (28,626) for every U.S. army member (9,800) in Afghanistan. On April 5, Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, declared during a Senate hearing that contractors made up 25 percent of his workforce (Foreign Policy). They have their own opinion and interest in such issues as permanent war for permanent peace. And without draft this issue does not touch too deeply ordinary middle class American, who do not need to fight and die for the empire.
The second factor is constant brainwashing be neoliberal MSM. Unless a person make a conscious effort to exclude them and rely of alternative media he/she can't form any informed political opinion. You will almost never even her the term "neoliberalism" in neoliberal MSM like NYT or WaPo or CNN or MSNBC. This is a taboo. But you will hear a lot about "evil Russians" or "evil Chinese" which is a perfect distraction, a smoke screen, designed to hide the real problems facing the US society after 40 years of dominance of neoliberalism as a social system.
My impression is that the Communist Party of the USSR made a grave mistake by not adopting "the first after the post" election system. In reality it would just legitimize the permanent Communist Party rule, as two factions of the CPSU competing for power (let's call them "Democratic Communists" and "Republican Communists") would exclude any real challenge for the one party rule that was practiced in the USSR even more efficiently that so called "one party" system. Which, while providing the same results, looks more undemocratic then "first after the post" system, and thus less safe for the rule of oligarchy as it generates resentment of the population.
The "first after the post" system "by design" provides a very effective suppression of any third party, preventing any chance of maturing such a political force. Emerging parties are cooped iether under Democratic or Republic umbrella and then emasculated. This mechanism is no less effective the Soviet one party rule, but more subtle, requires less violence and suppression of dissidents, and more acceptable to the population. Which is all what is needed to continuation of the rule of the oligarchy. The same is true for the parties themselves. Iron law of oligarchy was actually discovered by observing the evolution of the political party leadership.
The situation when the current (neoliberal) ruling elite (or in less politically correct term oligarchy) experienced difficulties with the continuation of its rule and the existing methods of suppression and indoctrination of the lower part population stop working is called "revolutionary situation". In 2008 the protest was squashed by electing "Trojan horse" Obama, who proved to be the king of "bait and switch" maneuver. Some signs of this situation were observable in the USA in 2016 which led to the election of what a person who like Obama pretended essentially to be an independent candidate slightly (at least formally) opposing the most negative effects of neoliberalism on population (anti-globalization stance, accent of creation jobs within the USA, etc) -- Donald Trump. Who later proved to be Republican version of Obama. Not without help of "deep state" which launched unprotected and well coordinated company of leaks and 24 x 7 negative news to discredit his personality and administration. Going as far as in a very elegant really Machiavellian way using fake accusations ("Russiagate) appointing a special prosecutor using Obama/Hillary supporters in the Judicial department (effectively coup d'état as special procedure is big burden which effectively paralyses any administration and Clinton presidency had shown). And when it did not work, they tried to accuse him of being racist (using 1 Charlottesville events) or even insane person. Looks like for Trump, even if he has some intention to implement anti-neoliberal measures -- the resistance proved to be way too strong and such intension did not last even half a year. Bombing Syria army air field with Tomahawks was an early signal of surrender. Removing Bannon, and adding troops to Afghan war make this turn around and betrayal of Trump voters in best Obama style virtual certainty.
It was clear that there is a widespread feeling among the majority of the US population now that the current neoliberal system of governance, installed by victorious neoliberals after 1980, is wrong and unjust. And when the people do not wouldn't like to live under the current system, and the ruling oligarchy can't continue to rule using the same methods and its brainwashing/propaganda does not work anymore " a revolutionary situation, a rare moment when "the change we can believe in" becomes possible arise. Not the con that the king of "bait and switch" maneuver Obama sold to the US lemmings in 2008 and then in 2012, but the "real" change; which can be for the good or bad. Stability of the society also has its great value. As Chinese curse state it succinctly "May you live in interesting times".
In such cases, the ruling elite typically decides to unleash a foreign war and use "rally around the flag" effect to suppress dissent and to restore the control (that's the real meaning of Samuel Johnson quote "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"). But in this particular case the USA already is in engaged in several wars (or occupations), so the nostalgia for good time what the USSR existed proved to be irresistible. And the pitch level of anti-Russian propaganda in 2016-2017 in neoliberal MSM suggest that a large part of the US elite decided to "waive a dead chicken" (actually Hillary made Russophobia a part of her election campaign, effectively unleashing a new neo-McCarthyism campaign in the USA). As John Kenneth Galbraith noted “People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.”
|People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.” -- John Kenneth Galbraith|
In 2016 we saw an attempt by oligarchy to rig the elections despite growing populism, at all cost. Throwing Sanders under the bus represented exactly this maneuver. The were not stopped even by the fact that they are promoting a deeply criminal and candidate with serious health problems ("We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality") The level of propaganda displayed in 2015-2016 election cycle by neoliberal MSM might well outdo the levels achieved by communist propagandists in during best days of the USSR. And that happened because this time there is a slight chance that the election are not about choosing "soft neoliberal" vs. "hard neoliberal" but "soft neoliberal" vs. (at least partially) "paleoconservative" (or "bustard neoliberal" ;-) who during election campaign rejects the idea of neoliberal globalization and by extension the necessity of fighting constant wars for the expansion of the US led global neoliberal empire. But later quickly recognized that this heresy is not acceptable in the corridors of Washington deep state and can be harmful for his health ;-). The hissy fit in neoliberal media and the emergence of certain figures from the intelligence agencies on an "avanscena" as the leaders of "color revolution" against Trump (so called "Purple revolution") were to be expected but caught Trump absolutely unprepared.
There is also an interesting question what kind of democracy the competition of "Democratic Neoliberals" ("soft neoliberal/closet neocons) and "Republican Neoliberals: ("hard core" neoliberal/open neocons) in the USA demonstrates. And not only "democracy for whom" -- it is clear that this is the democracy for the top 1% or, at best, top 20% of population. a more interesting observation is that as Trump election has shown, neoliberals like Bolsheviks in the past are ready to go to extreme methods including coup d'état to preserve their power, the democracy be damned.
Also interesting were the methods of indoctrination of population which were borrowed by the USA neoliberals from the Soviet experience, which were practiced from 1980th. They use university course in economics in the same (or more correctly slightly more subtle; using mathematics as smoke screen for indoctrination into neoliberal ideology) way Soviet universities use the course of philosophy. In the USSR the courses of philosophy and political economy were obligatory for all university students and people did read both Marx and Lenin; but there were problem with indoctrination as Soviet society did not correspond to Marx expectations -- as Marx famously said he was not a Marxist. The same to a certain extent is true for Lenin, who was essentially a bridge between Marxism and national socialism. This problem was solved by carefully pre-selecting "classics" works to only a small "legitimate" emasculated subset that was in like with Bolshevism. Neoclassical economy in the USA plays exactly the same role and is even worse. At least with some effort Soviet student can get all the works of Marx and Lenin. Here, in the USA, chances to read Keynes and other "deviant" economists for university students are virtually zero. They are completely distracted from fundamental issues by high doze of mathematics (misused and abused -- called mathiness). Which is used as smoke screen which hide the poverty of ideas of neo-classical economy.
But deteriorating economy and stagnation does make neoliberal propaganda less effective. Like people of the USSR were listening to BBC and Voice of America at night, despite jamming, thinking people in the USA are resort of alternative sources of news or even, God forbid, visit "naked capitalism", RT, or other "disapproved" by neoliberal propagandists sites. Even thoroughly brainwashed the USA population, who like member of high demand cult now internalized postulates of neoliberalism like dogmas of some civil religion (displacing Christianity, so much about fake myth the USA is Christian nation; it is not) , started to have doubts. Alternative sources of information in 2016-2017 started to play such and outside role that the company about "fake news" was launched to suppress them. They did not stop people from reading, say, Guardian, RT, unz.com, American conservative, Asia Times, to name a few.
But still the general level political education of US votes leave much to be desired and is probably as low if not lower that it was in the USSR (due to obsessive emphasis on the works of Marx and Lenin soviet voters with university education usually have strong doubt about soviet system ). Let's honestly ask yourselves what percentage of US voters can list key proposition of paleoconservative political platform vs. neoliberal platform. Or define what the term "neoliberal" means. It is difficult also because the terms "neoliberalism" and "Paleoconservatism" are expunged from MSM. Like Trotsky writings were in the USSR. Assuming that this might well be the key difference between two frontrunner in the last Presidential race, this is really unfortunate.
That means the hypothesis that majority of voters under "popular democracy" regime (where all citizens have a right to vote) understand what they are voting for ("informed voters" hypothesis) is open to review (see Myth about intelligent voter). Otherwise identity politics would not be so successful in the USA, despite being a primitive variation of classic "divide and conquer" strategy. In any democracy, how can voters make an important decision unless they are well informed? But what percentage of US votes can be considered well informed? And taking into account popularity of Fox News what percentage is brainwashed or do not what to think about the issues involved and operate based on emotions and prejudices? And when serious discussion of issues that nation faces are deliberately and systematically replaced by "infotainment" voters became just pawns in the game of factions of elite, which sometimes leaks information to sway public opinion, but do it very selectively. All MSM represent the views of large corporations which own them. No exception are allowed. Important information is suppressed or swiped under the carpet to fifth page in NYT to prevent any meaningful discussion. For example, ask several of your friends if they ever heard about Damascus, AR.
In any case one amazing fact happened during this election: republican voters abandoned Republican brass and flocked to Trump, while Democratic voters abandoned Democratic neoliberals and flocked to Sanders (although DNC managed to fix primaries, and then engaged in anti-Russian hysteria to hide this criminal fact). See Trump vs. The REAL Nuts for an informed discussion of this phenomenon.
Mr. Trump’s great historical role was to reveal to the Republican Party what half of its own base really thinks about the big issues. The party’s leaders didn’t know! They were shocked, so much that they indulged in sheer denial and made believe it wasn’t happening.
The party’s leaders accept more or less open borders and like big trade deals. Half the base does not! It is longtime GOP doctrine to cut entitlement spending. Half the base doesn’t want to, not right now! Republican leaders have what might be called assertive foreign-policy impulses. When Mr. Trump insulted George W. Bush and nation-building and said he’d opposed the Iraq invasion, the crowds, taking him at his word, cheered. He was, as they say, declaring that he didn’t want to invade the world and invite the world. Not only did half the base cheer him, at least half the remaining half joined in when the primaries ended.
But at the same time the struggle for political equality which is often associative with the word "democracy" is a vital human struggle, even if democracy itself is an unachievable and unrealistic ideal (see The Iron Law of Oligarchy). In some sense too much talk about Democracy is very suspect and just characterize the speaker as a hypocrite with probably evil intentions, who probably is trying to mask some pretty insidious plans with "democracy promotion" smokescreen.
The same is true for countries. Especially for those which use "export of democracy" efforts to mask their imperial ambitions. As in the efforts to expand and sustain the global neoliberal empire led by the USA. See color revolutions for details. Actually that makes the USA very similar the USSR with its leaders dream about global Communist empire led from Moscow. Both in the USA and the USSR there was too much talk about democracy, while actually practice was decidedly undemocratic. It was oligarchic rule in both cases. In the USA the situation is further complicated by amazing level of brainwashing of population via MSM, which definitely exceed the level achieved by nomenklatura in Soviet Union outside of "Stalinism" period. Can you imagine the situation in the USSR when members of the ruling communist party were prohibited to show their affiliation with the Communist Party and the words "communist" and "communism" was "discouraged" and their usage is suppressed in MSM including leading newspapers Pravda and Izvestia (roughly analogical to WaPo and NYT). That's the situation we have in the USA now.
The term "neoliberalism" is effectively prohibited from usage in major US MSM and all political discussion is forcefully turned into "infotainment" -- the clash of personalizes. In other words discussion of key issues facing the country (politics in real sense of this word) was replaced under neoliberal regime by "infotainment" with slick and often psychically beautiful "presstitutes" instead of political analysts. But like was the case in the USSR neoliberal brainwashing gradually lost its effectiveness because it contradicts the reality. and neoliberalism failed to deliver promises of "rising tide lifting all board", or trickle down economy which justified tremendous enrichment of top 0.1%.
Politically neoliberalism. like Marxism in the past, operates with the same two classes: "entrepreneurs" (modern name for capitalists and financial oligarchy) and debt slaves (proletarians under Marxism) who work for them. Under neoliberalism only former considered first class citizens ("one dollar -- one vote"). Debt slaves are second class of citizens and are prevented from political self-organization, which by-and-large deprives them of any form of political participation. In best Roman tradition it is substituted with the participation in political shows ("Bread and circuses") See Empire of Illusion The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges. In this sense the role of the election is not election of the candidate of people want but legitimizing the candidate the oligarchy pre-selected. . They helps to provide legitimacy for the ruling elite.
The two party system invented by the elite of Great Britain proved to be perfect for neoliberal regimes, which practice what Sheldon Wolin called inverted totalitarism. The latter is the regime in which all political power belongs to the financial oligarchy which rules via the deep state mechanisms, and where traditional political institutions including POTUS are downgraded to instruments of providing political legitimacy of the ruling elite. Population is discouraged from political activity. "Go shopping" as famously recommended Bush II to US citizens after 9/11.
But at the same time the struggle for political equality which is often associative with the word "democracy" is a vital human struggle, even if democracy itself is an unachievable and unrealistic ideal (see The Iron Law of Oligarchy). In some sense too much talk about Democracy is very suspect and just characterize the speaker as a hypocrite with probably evil intentions, who probably is trying to mask some pretty insidious plans with "democracy promotion" smokescreen. The same is true for countries. Especially for those which use "export of democracy" efforts to mask their pretty much imperial ambitions. The efforts to expand and sustain the global neoliberal empire led by the USA. See color revolutions for details. Actually that makes the USA very similar the USSR with its leaders dream about global Communist empire led from Moscow. Both in the USA and the USSR there was too much talk about democracy, while actually practice was decidedly undemocratic. It was oligarchic rule in both cases. In the USA the situation is further complicated by amazing level of brainwashing of population via MSM, which definitely exceed the level achieve by nomenklatura in Soviet Union. Can you imagine the situation in the USSR when members of the ruling communist party were prohibited to show their affiliation and the words "communist" and "communism" was "discouraged" and their usage is suppressed in MSM including leading newspapers Pravda and Izvestia (roughly analogical to WaPo and NYT). That's the situation we have in the USA now.
Everything should be organized like corporation under neoliberalism, including government, medicine, education, even military. And everybody is not a citizen but a shareholder (or more correctly stakeholder), so any conflict should be resolved via discussion of the main stakeholders. Naturally lower 99% are not among them.
The great propaganda mantra of neoliberal governance is "wealth maximization". Which proved to be very seductive for society as a whole in reality is applied very selectively and never to the bottom 60% or 80%, or eve 99% of population. In essence, it means a form of welfare economics for financial oligarchy while at the same time a useful smokescreen for keeping debt-slaves obedient by removing any remnants of job security mechanisms that were instituted during the New Deal. As the great American jurist and Supreme Court associate justice Louis Brandeis once said: “We can have huge wealth in the hands of a relatively few people or we can have a democracy. But we can’t have both.”
As under neoliberalism extreme wealth is the goal of the social system, there can be no democracy under neoliberalism. And this mean that pretentions of the USA elite that the USA is a bastion of democracy is plain vanilla British ruling elite style hypocrisy. Brutal suppression of any move to challenge dominance of financial oligarchy (even such feeble as Occupy movement) shows that all too well.
Like in case of communist regimes before, under neoliberalism we now face a regime completely opposite to democracy: we have complete, forceful atomization of public, acute suppression of any countervailing political forces (similar to the suppression of dissidents in the USSR in its effectiveness and brutality, but done in "velvet gloves" without resort to physical violence). That includes decimation of labor unions and other forms of self-organization for the lower 80%, or even 99% of population. Neoliberalism tries to present any individual, any citizen, as a market actor within some abstract market (everything is the market under neoliberalism). Instead of fight for political and economic equality neoliberalism provides a slick slogan of "wealth maximization" which is in essence a "bait and switch" for redistribution of wealth up to the top 1% (which is the stated goal of neoliberalism aka "casino capitalism"). It was working in tandem with "shareholder value" mantra which is a disguise of looting of the corporations to enrich its top brass via outsize bonuses (IBM is a nice example where such an approach leads) and sending thousands of white-collar workers to the street. Previously it was mainly blue-collar workers that were affected. Times changed.
Both Democratic Party and Republican arty in the USA are neoliberal parties. So effectively we have one-party system skillfully masked as duopoly ;-). Communists could use the same trick, by having the part Socialist internationalists worker-peasants party of the USSR and Democratic internationalists peasant-worker party of the USSR, with leaders wet kissing each other behind the curtain as is the case in the USA. In the USA we have Cola/Pepsi duopoly that is sold as the shining example of democracy, although just the rule "the first after the post" prevents democracy from functioning as it eliminates minorities from governance.
Political atmosphere at the USA since Reagan, when Republican drifted right and Democrats were bought by Wall Street really reminds me the USSR. But still those parties reflect two different strata of the US population, which according to Marc J. Hetherington and Jonathan D. Weiler book Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics in the level of authoritarianism (for example, as measured by F-scale.). Many Republican politicians can be classified as Double High Authoritarians.
If we assume that this is true, the large part of "verge issues" that so skillfully played in each election, and using which allow the elite to avoid addressing any fundamental issues facing the nation, such as race, gay marriage, illegal immigration, and the use of force to resolve security problems -- reflect differences in individuals' levels of authoritarianism. This makes authoritarianism an especially compelling explanation of contemporary American politics.
Events and strategic political decisions have conspired to make all these considerations more salient. While the authors acknowledge that authoritarianism is not the only factor determining how people vote, it does offer a an important perspective : a large part (at least white Americans) flock to the particular party based on proximity to their own level authoritarianism and corresponding worldview of the party. In other words the percentage of authoritarian/non-authoritarian personality in the population allow to predict, at least in part, voting behavior of the USA "white block" electorate.
During his early career, Caesar had seen how chaotic and dysfunctional the Roman Republic had become. The republican machinery had broken down under the weight of imperialism, the central government had become powerless, the provinces had been transformed into independent principalities under the absolute control of their governors, and the army had replaced the constitution as the means of accomplishing political goals. With a weak central government, political corruption had spiraled out of control, and the status quo had been maintained by a corrupt aristocracy, which saw no need to change a system that had made its members rich...But the deep state was in ascendance since Truman (who can be viewed as the father of national security state). So dismounting of the republic was a long continues process with temporary reversal after Church commission, when the power of intelligence agencies were temporary curtailed and they were put under more close control of Senate and House. But later a new "neoliberal" deep state emerged under Reagan and those gains were reversed. I personally view Trump as a Bush III. But resilience of US political system might prevent the worst outcome -- a war with Russia or China.
I would prefer if Sanders were elected. But FBI pushed him under the bus by exonerating Hillary. I think the USA now badly need a "New New Deal", biot some crazr "chrstria capitalism that Bannon professed (see Bannonism). But the question is: "What social forces will support it ?" I see no strong social forces able to take on entrenched "corporatism" -- a merger of Wall Street and MIC interests and corresponding economic power. Add to this Silicon valley and unprecedented capability of surveillance. In the absence of alternatives, the crisis of neoliberalism became a chronic one.
In this sense the "Russiagate" campaign might be interpreted as an attempt of the neoliberal elite to rally people around the flag and hide Hillary political fiasco due to the crisis of neoliberalism. The later led to the surprise victory of Trump, because the voters rejected establishment candidate. Also as for the level of warmongering Hillary probably is close or surpass Trump. So in a way the US voters were put by FBI between Scylla and Charybdis. Of course, Russians are not saints and they are an obstacle on the path to global US led neoliberal empire, but still I think that the whole thing is overdone.
A good (IMHO) overview of our current political can be found in London review of books. See What We Don t Talk about When We Talk about Russian Hacking by Jackson Lears
American politics have rarely presented a more disheartening spectacle. The repellent and dangerous antics of Donald Trump are troubling enough, but so is the Democratic Party leadership’s failure to take in the significance of the 2016 election campaign. Bernie Sanders’s challenge to Hillary Clinton, combined with Trump’s triumph, revealed the breadth of popular anger at politics as usual – the blend of neoliberal domestic policy and interventionist foreign policy that constitutes consensus in Washington. Neoliberals celebrate market utility as the sole criterion of worth; interventionists exalt military adventure abroad as a means of fighting evil in order to secure global progress. Both agendas have proved calamitous for most Americans. Many registered their disaffection in 2016. Sanders is a social democrat and Trump a demagogic mountebank, but their campaigns underscored a widespread repudiation of the Washington consensus.Of course, for correct framework we need to refer to classic Sheldon Wolin book. As he pointed out merge of corporate power with the ascendance of the "deep state" and technological progress proved to be an unstoppable factor that doomed the New Deal. Also defeated financial sector borrowed Bolsheviks methods and created "professional counter-revolutionaries" via think tanks, subservient press, etc. Milton Friedman Chicago school and Monte Perelin society were probably the most famous promoters of neoliberalism. See also The Quiet Coup - Simon Johnson - The Atlantic
|Poliarchy Bulletin, 2015||Poliarchy Bulletin, 2014||2013||2012||2011||2010|
Sep 18, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Kiza , Sep 17, 2018 8:33:14 AM | link
A quick observation and a fascinating parallele. Serena Williams and the US global hyperpower.
Serena at 36 got bitten fair and square at US open by a girl of 20, almost half her age. So she throws up a nuclear tantrum, publicly calling the referee a thief, threatening that he will never referee again, obviously thanks to her money, power and gender.
During her post-game interview, Serena told a news conference, "I'm here, fighting for women's rights, for women's equality, and for all kind of stuff it made me think that it was a sexist remark [referring to the penalty the referee Ramos awarded her]."
The declining US fights for human rights as declining Serena fights for women's rights. Both invoke exceptionalism and higher principles and go nuclear when they cannot win any more under the established international rules. The irony of killing the Yemenis en mass whilst "fighting" for the human rights of terrorists in Syria is just like Serena fighting for women's rights against another younger and more capable woman.
donkeytale , Sep 17, 2018 9:21:31 AM | link
Kiza - interesting point. Yes clearly Serena retrofitted the women's movement to justify what was an old-fashioned Connors/McEnroe male tennis tantrum, although extremely mild comapred to some of the crap those two pulled back in the day.
What goes without saying is the behaviour is as repulsive when Serena does it as when McEnroe/Connors did.
Serena at 36 is no longer the dominant force just as America is no longer. However, it is fair to say the winner is where she is because she trained extensively and I believe lives in America so really she is an example of globalism and racial diversity, if not American exeptionalism.
Women's tennis post Serena will not be dominated by Americans, but by American training of the best players regardless of their origination
Sep 14, 2018 | www.rt.com
After being penalized for calling chair umpire Carlos Ramos a "thief," Williams summoned up the evil spirits of political correctness to plead her case. She was heard telling officials that many male tennis players have done "much worse" without any sort of retribution. In other words, Ramos was a cave-dwelling "sexist" put on earth to thwart the progress of womanhood.
During her post-game interview, Serena told a news conference, "I'm here, fighting for women's rights, for women's equality, and for all kind of stuff it made me think that it was a sexist remark [referring to the penalty Ramos awarded her] .
There were faint echoes of Oprah Winfrey's famous speech at the Golden Globes in that it was the right message delivered at exactly the wrong time and place.
Read more Steph Curry says Serena Williams showed 'grace & class' in US Open final, internet raises eyebrows
So now, America's dethroned tennis queen, playing the gender card game instead of tennis, is acting spokesperson for downtrodden women everywhere. Yet certainly Williams has heard of John McEnroe, the former American tennis star whose on-court temper tantrums are now legendary. In 1990, for example, this loudmouthed male was tossed out of the Australian Open – not just penalized – for verbally abusing the chair umpire, much like Williams did.
Since it may come off as chauvinistic for me – a burly male – to criticize Serena, perhaps it would be more appropriate to quote Martina Navratilova, 61, one of the greatest female tennis players of all time.
"I don't believe it's a good idea to apply a standard of 'If men can get away with it, women should be able to, too,' Navratilova wrote in a New York Times op-ed regarding Williams' epic meltdown. "Rather, I think the question we have to ask ourselves is this: What is the right way to behave to honor our sport and to respect our opponents?"
The Czech-born American went on to comment that "we cannot measure ourselves by what we think we should also be able to get away with this is the sort of behavior that no one should be engaging in on the court."
Eureka! Navratilova – who hails from a bygone era when the vision of political correctness, 'virtue signaling' and 'social justice warriors' was just a flash in the pan – nailed it. Instead of looking to some external other to explain our life circumstances – like losing a tennis match, for example, or a presidential election (wink, wink) – people should look to themselves as the agents for proactive and positive change. Such a message, however, would quickly sink the Liberal ship, which is predicated upon the idea that the world is forever divided between oppressor and oppressed. What the Liberals fail to appreciate, however, is that they are becoming the real oppressors as they continue to sideline anybody who does not think and act exactly as they do.
Following Serena's epic meltdown, the Melbourne-based Herald Sun published a cartoon by Mark Knight that shows the American tennis star as she proceeds to stomp on her racket, mouth open and hair going straight up. It was not a flattering or subtle drawing, but given the circumstances, that should probably come as no surprise.
2015: 12 Charlie Hebdo illustrators shot dead for depiction of prophet Muhammad - thousands line streets demonstrating for freedom of sattire & humour
2018: Mark Knight draws caricature of Serena Williams - thousands shout racist & demand his removal from Twiter and the media pic.twitter.com/NDpFrbigca-- Danny Armstrong (@DannyWArmstrong) September 12, 2018
The Liberal outrage came fast and heavy as critics slammed the caricature as racist and offensive. It would take hundreds of pages to recite them all, but as one example, CNN columnist Rebecca Wanzo labeled the cartoon as an example of – wait for it – "visual imperialism," which is manifest by "a black grotesque seeming natural."
Never mind that the behavior of Serena Williams was "grotesque," which is what inspired Knight's unflattering drawing of her in the first place. That is what is meant by a 'caricature', where the artist attempts to convey the essence of an event through imagery. Yes, sometimes brutal imagery.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. Former Editor-in-Chief of The Moscow News, he is author of the book, 'Midnight in the American Empire,' released in 2013.
Sep 17, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Kiza , Sep 17, 2018 8:33:14 AM | link
A quick observation and a fascinating parallele. Serena Williams and the US global hyperpower.
Serena at 36 got bitten fair and square at US open by a girl of 20, almost half her age. So she throws up a nuclear tantrum, publicly calling the referee a thief, threatening that he will never referee again, obviously thanks to her money, power and gender.
During her post-game interview, Serena told a news conference, "I'm here, fighting for women's rights, for women's equality, and for all kind of stuff it made me think that it was a sexist remark [referring to the penalty the referee Ramos awarded her]."
The declining US fights for human rights as declining Serena fights for women's rights. Both invoke exceptionalism and higher principles and go nuclear when they cannot win any more under the established international rules. The irony of killing the Yemenis en mass whilst "fighting" for the human rights of terrorists in Syria is just like Serena fighting for women's rights against another younger and more capable woman.
donkeytale , Sep 17, 2018 9:21:31 AM | link
Kiza - interesting point. Yes clearly Serena retrofitted the women's movement to justify what was an old-fashioned Connors/McEnroe male tennis tantrum, although extremely mild comapred to some of the crap those two pulled back in the day.
What goes without saying is the behaviour is as repulsive when Serena does it as when McEnroe/Connors did.
Serena at 36 is no longer the dominant force just as America is no longer. However, it is fair to say the winner is where she is because she trained extensively and I believe lives in Amerikkka so really she is an example of globalism and racial diversity, if not Amerikkkan exeptionalism.
Women's tennis post Serena will not be dominated by Amerikkkans but by Amerikkkan training of the best players regardless of their origination
Aug 17, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca
"Just stick with us, don't believe the crap you see from these people [journalists], the fake news Just remember, what you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening. "
Donald Trump (1946- ), American President, (in remarks made during a campaign rally with Veterans of Foreign Wars, in Kansas City, July 24, 2018)
"The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command."
George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair) (1903-1950), English novelist, essayist, and social critic, (in '1984', Ch. 7, 1949)
" This is a White House where everybody lies ." Omarosa Manigault Newman (1974- ), former White House aide to President Donald Trump, (on Sunday August 12, 2018, while releasing tapes recording conversations with Donald Trump.)
" I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power ." Benjamin Franklin ( 1706 – 1790 ), American inventor and US Founding Father, (in 'Words of the Founding Fathers', 2012).
In this day and age, with instant information, how does a politician succeed in double-talking, in bragging, in scapegoating and in shamefully distorting the truth, most of the time, without being unmasked as a charlatan and discredited? Why? That is the mysterious and enigmatic question that one may ask about U. S. President Donald Trump, as a politician.
The most obvious answer is the fact that Trump's one-issue and cult-like followers do not care what he does or says and whether or not he has declared a war on truth and reality , provided he delivers the political and financial benefits they demand of him, based on their ideological or pecuniary interests. These groups of voters live in their own reality and only their personal interests count.
1- Four groups of one-issue voters behind Trump
There are four groups of one-issue voters to whom President Donald Trump has delivered the goodies:
- Christian religious right voters, whose main political issue is to fill the U. S. Supreme Court with ultra conservative judges. On that score, Donald Trump has been true to them by naming one such judge and in nominating a second one.
- Super rich Zionists and the Pro-Israel Lobby, whose obsession is the state of Israel. Again, on that score, President Donald Trump has fulfilled his promise to them and he has unilaterally moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in addition to attacking the Palestinians and tearing up the 'Iran Deal'.
- The one-percent Income earners and some corporate owners, whose main demand to Trump was substantial tax cuts and deregulation. Once again, President Trump has fulfilled this group's wishes with huge tax cuts, mainly financed with future public debt increases, which are going to be paid for by all taxpayers.
- The NRA and the Pro-Gun Lobby, whose main obsession is to have the right to arm themselves to the teeth, including with military assault weapons, with as few strings attached as possible. Here again President Donald Trump has sided with them and against students who are increasingly in the line of fire in American schools.
With the strong support of these four monolithic lobbies -- his electoral base -- politician Donald Trump can count on the indefectible support of between 35 percent and 40 percent of the American electorate. It is ironic that some of Trump's other policies, like reducing health care coverage and the raising of import taxes, will hurt the poor and the middle class, even though some of Trump's victims can be considered members of the above lobbies.
Moreover, some of Trump's supporters regularly rely on hypocrisy and on excuses to exonerate their favorite but flawed politician of choice. If any other politician from a different party were to say and do half of what Donald Trump does and says, they would be asking for his impeachment.
There are three other reasons why Trump's rants, his record-breaking lies , his untruths, his deceptions and his dictatorial-style attempts to control information , in the eyes of his fanatical supporters, at least, are like water on the back of a duck. ( -- For the record, according to the Washington Post , as of early August, President Trump has made some 4,229 false claims, which amount to 7.6 a day, since his inauguration.)Is Trump a New Kind of Fascist?
- The first reason can be found in Trump's view that politics and even government business are first and foremost another form of entertainment , i.e. a sort of TV reality show, which must be scripted and acted upon. Trump thinks that is OK to lie and to ask his assistants to lie . In this new immoral world, the Trump phenomenon could be seen a sign of post-democracy .
- The second one can be found in Trump's artful and cunning tactics to unbalance and manipulate the media to increase his visibility to the general public and to turn them into his own tools of propaganda. When Trump attacks the media, he is in fact coaxing them to give him free coverage to spread his insults , his fake accusations, his provocations, his constant threats , his denials or reversals, his convenient changes of subject or his political spins. Indeed, with his outrageous statements, his gratuitous accusations and his attacks ' ad hominem' , and by constantly bullying and insulting adversaries at home and foreign heads of states abroad, and by issuing threats in repetition, right and left, Trump has forced the media to talk and journalists to write about him constantly, on a daily basis, 24/7.
That suits him perfectly well because he likes to be the center of attention. That is how he can change the political rhetoric when any negative issue gets too close to him. In the coming weeks and months, as the Special prosecutor Robert Mueller's report is likely to be released, Donald Trump is not above resorting to some sort of " Wag the Dog " political trickery, to change the topic and to possibly push the damaging report off the headlines.
In such a circumstance, it is not impossible that launching an illegal war of choice, say against Iran (a pet project of Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton), could then look very convenient to a crafty politician like Donald Trump and to his warmonger advisors. Therefore, observers should be on the lookout to spot any development of the sort in the coming weeks.
That one man and his entourage could whimsically consider launching a war of aggression is a throwback to ancient times and is a sure indication of the level of depravity to which current politics has fallen. This should be a justified and clear case for impeachment .
- Finally, some far-right media outlets, such as Fox News and Sinclair Broadcasting , have taken it upon themselves to systematically present Trump's lies and misrepresentations as some 'alternative' truths and facts.
Indeed, ever since 1987, when the Reagan administration abolished the Fairness Doctrine for licensing public radio and TV waves, and since a Republican dominated Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which allowed for the mass conglomeration of local broadcasting in the United States, extreme conservative news outlets, such as the Fox and Sinclair networks, have sprung up. They are well financed, and they have essentially become powerful political propaganda machines , erasing the line between facts and fiction, and regularly presenting fictitious alternative facts as the truth.
In so doing, they have pushed public debates in the United States away from facts, reason and logic, at least for those listeners and viewers for whom such outlets are the only source of information. It is not surprising that such far-right media have also made Donald Trump the champion of their cause, maliciously branding anything inconvenient as 'fake' news, as Trump has done in his own anti-media campaign and his sustained assault on the free press.
2- Show Politics and public affairs as a form of entertainment
Donald Trump does not seem to take politics and public affairs very seriously, at least when his own personal interests are involved. Therefore, when things go bad, he never volunteers to take personal responsibility, contrary to what a true leader would do, and he conveniently shifts the blame on somebody else. This is a sign of immaturity or cowardice. Paraphrasing President Harry Truman, "the buck never stops at his desk."
Donald Trump essentially has the traits of a typical showman diva , behaving in politics just as he did when he was the host of a TV show. Indeed, if one considers politics and public affairs as no more than a reality show, this means that they are really entertainment, and politicians are first and foremost entertainers or comedians.
3- Trump VS the media and the journalists
Donald Trump is the first U.S. president who rarely holds scheduled press conferences. Why would he, since he considers journalists to be his "enemies"! It doesn't seem to matter to him that freedom of the press is guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution by the First Amendment. He prefers to rely on one-directional so-called 'tweets' to express unfiltered personal ideas and emotions (as if he were a private person), and to use them as his main public relations channel of communication.
The ABC News network has calculated that, as of last July, Trump has tweeted more than 3,500 times, slightly more than seven tweets a day. How could he have time left to do anything productive! Coincidently, Donald Trump's number of tweets is not far away from the number of outright lies and misleading claims that he has told and made since his inauguration. The Washington Post has counted no less than 3,251 lies or misleading claims of his, through the end of May of this year, -- an average of 6.5 such misstatements per day of his presidency. Fun fact: Trump seems to accelerate the pace of his lies. Last year, he told 5.5 lies per day, on average. Is it possible to have a more cynical view of politics!
The media in general, (and not only American ones), then serve more or less voluntarily as so many resonance boxes for his daily 'tweets', most of which are often devoid of any thought and logic.
Such a practice has the consequence of demeaning the public discourse in the pursuit of the common good and the general welfare of the people to the level of a frivolous private enterprise, where expertise, research and competence can easily be replaced by improvisation, whimsical arbitrariness and charlatanry. In such a climate, only the short run counts, at the expense of planning for the long run.
All this leads to this conclusion: Trump's approach is not the way to run an efficient government. Notwithstanding the U.S. Constitution and what it says about the need to have " checks and balance s" among different government branches, President Donald Trump has de facto pushed aside the U.S. Congress and the civil servants in important government Departments, even his own Cabinet , whose formal meetings under Trump have been little more than photo-up happenings, to grab the central political stage for himself. If such a development does not represent an ominous threat to American democracy, what does?
The centralization of power in the hands of one man is bound to have serious political consequences, both for the current administration and for future ones.
This article was originally published on the author's blog site: rodriguetremblay100.blogspot.com .
International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book " The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles ", and of "The New American Empire" . Please visit Dr. Tremblay's sites : http://rodriguetremblay100.blogspot.com/ and http://rodriguetremblay.blogspot.com/
Sep 15, 2018 | crookedtimber.org
Lee A. Arnold 09.15.18 at 12:14 pm 66"Protection of aristocracy against the agency of the subordinate classes" could be a good first pass at describing the Wittgensteinian family resemblance of all conservatisms. In the mid-18th Century the final public inversion of theories of dispensation from the Absolute (i.e. the Great Chain of Being), inverted in the face of increasing scientific knowledge and technological advance, served to overthrow the privileges of aristocracy and divine right, and brought forward the question of the will of the rabble as a new, constant norm in the political process (i.e. "democracy"). The left-right divide blossomed.
We may still be living in an era of shadow cast from that event. It could be that some "language games" perpetuate as dialogical, rhetorical, antiphonal, oppositional. Yet the referents can change, as in any emotional argument. In the case of a language game emerging to the immediate concerns of property ownership and political power, it might persist over time in the emotional shadow of the ancien regime, yet it would transmute over time in response to change and contingency, and use varying political issues of the moment to stay alive. So we have a sort of dialogic meta-organism with an autopoietic (i.e. self-maintaining) social ontogeny, leaving behind itself the tracks of a dialectical history.
In our present moment, the "protection of aristocracy against the agency of the subordinate classes" has transmuted to "protection of the free market as a way for any subordinate person to ascend by personal effort into the modern open aristocracy".
But this could be the end of that game. Yes, it is a clever trick: it perpetuates the belief in individualism, because anyone can try to do it. But it is also fatally flawed. Not everyone can do it because there are formal limitations: over long periods of time some few people invent new goods and services and achieve success, but at any one moment there is a lot of unemployed and underpaid. In addition some members of the modern open aristocracy are pushing programs that increase inequality and environmental destruction, and these results become more visible to the public.
"Protection of aristocracy against the agency of the subordinate classes" moved historically to "protection of the free market as a way for anyone to become one of the aristocrats" -- and now may finally be eclipsed, because that is not believable. It would be the end of the pro-hierarchic bent of conservatism. Mainstream conservatives won't have much to distinguish themselves from progressives, who otherwise believe in individualism and personal achievement. The social-conservative varieties would spin off to single-issue advocacies. We may see a book entitled, Varieties of Conservatism Against One Another.
James Wimberley 09.15.18 at 12:59 pm ( 67 )In Robin's theory of conservatism, do the lower orders have to be human? Will an army of robot slaves do? If the objective of the ruling class is simply "more freedom to do what I want", robots are actually better than serfs, who may always potentially answer back or rebel. But what if it is in part to enjoy the submission of the serfs to their will? That is the pattern of sexual predation: the wife (or another man's wife) beaten or tricked into subservience is more gratifying a sexual object to Valmont than the prostitute who provides the same services under a dick's-length contract.likbez 09.15.18 at 9:58 pm ( 69 )I think it is impossible to discuss modern conservatism, especially its neocon variety without discussing neoliberalism. Too many people here concentrate on superficial traits, while the defining feature of modern conservatives is the unconditional support of "hard neoliberalism." There is also a Vichy party which supports "soft neoliberalism"
See Monbiot at https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiot
It may seem strange that a doctrine promising choice and freedom should have been promoted with the slogan "there is no alternative." But, as Hayek remarked on a visit to Pinochet's Chile – one of the first nations in which the programme was comprehensively applied – "my personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism." The freedom that neoliberalism offers, which sounds so beguiling when expressed in general terms, turns out to mean freedom for the pike, not for the minnows.
Freedom from trade unions and collective bargaining mean the freedom to suppress wages. Freedom from regulation means the freedom to poison rivers, endanger workers, charge iniquitous rates of interest and design exotic financial instruments. Freedom from tax means freedom from the distribution of wealth that lifts people out of poverty.
The other important area is the attitude to the existence and maintenance of the global US empire and the level of indoctrination into "American exceptionalism" which I view as a flavor of far-right nationalism. But here we need to talk not about conservatism but neofascism.
In a way, the current crisis of neoliberalism in the USA (one of the features of which was de-legitimization of the neoliberal elite which led to the election of Trump) develops strange similarities with the events of 1920-1935 in Europe.
Sep 15, 2018 | crookedtimber.org
Thomas Beale 09.13.18 at 9:58 am ( 16 )I'd suggest that the two strains of 'conservatism' that matter are:Heshel 09.13.18 at 10:59 am ( 17 )
a) maintaining oppression/rule over subordinate classes to prevent them up-ending the status quo (the Robin view) and
b) maintaining philosophical +/- cultural values fundamental to a civilised society, typically so-called enlightenment values, freedom of mind, body and property etc. These are understood in a wide spectrum of concrete interpretations, from free-market purists to social democrats, and don't therefore correspond to one kind of on-the-ground politics.
Progressives tend attack a) (a non-philosophical form of conservatism – it's just about preserving a power structure), and usually claim that b) (the one that matters) doesn't exist or isn't 'conservative', or else ignore it.
We have the basic problem of same term, variable referentsLumpers over splitters!oldster 09.13.18 at 11:26 am ( 18 )What unifies my friends is their noblest common aspirations.Donald 09.13.18 at 11:34 am ( 19 )
What unifies my enemies is their lowest common denominator.I think Thomas Beale is correct, though like him, I haven't done the work either. But one does come across conservatives who seem genuinely motivated by principles other than keeping the peasantry in line. I am thinking, for instance, of Larison over at the American Conservative, whose views on the evils of US foreign policy are determined in part by his sense of moral outrage at the suffering we cause.Donald 09.13.18 at 11:54 am ( 20 )
That said, he seems to be a member of a fairly small minority, so Corey is probably right most of the time.Probably a better example would be Burke, who obviously felt moral outrage about British actions in India. I haven't read Corey's book, so I don't know how that fits into his thesis. And I will also stop posting after this.Lee A. Arnold 09.13.18 at 12:19 pm ( 21 )The level between the ideal and the history is where the action is!Mike Huben 09.13.18 at 12:28 pm ( 22 )
Contemporary conservatism is premised on the fiction that everyone can move up into the modern open aristocracy, by their personal effort in the free market.
However, this doesn't happen. When globalism took the jobs away, the people did not invent new goods and services to get back in the market game. Why not?
Instead of dealing with the failure of the premise that there are endless goods and services to invent, conservatives (and libertarians) find other ideas to explain, or to blame: the people are naturally unequal, or they are failing to live up to past cultural standards, or immigrants are overwhelming the system, or government gets in the way.
Round and round they go. The drama might be called Waiting for Rando.> "Why would anybody bother trying to find that red herring?" Do you wonder this generally about political philosophy? That is, consistency/coherence is never interesting? Or is it just dull in the case of conservatism?Alex SL 09.13.18 at 12:40 pm ( 23 )
After roughly 40 years of opposing libertarianism , I have come to agree with the idea that people choose a position and then make justifications post hoc. Because no single justification works for everything, you get this flowering of innumerable excuses for what is basically an emotional choice .
In the USA, the keystone libertarian (and maybe conservative) influence as best I can tell is the Kochtopus . Those organizations exploit the efflorescence of justifications and steer them to the central goals of the Kochs.
>How can you tell what counts as a member of the species?
I'm a biological systemacist, and it is obvious that species can have fuzzy edges, no matter which concept of species you use (and several are used depending on the group you are studying.)J-D,Sebastian H 09.13.18 at 1:10 pm ( 24 )
Looking from outside of the USA, I have always been puzzled by the contemporary insistence of boxing everybody into liberal or conservative (with potentially an "independent" box in the middle). Some people seem to go as far as to characterise liberal and conservative mindsets with the implication that they are generalisable across all of human history and the whole globe, as opposed to a parochially American dichotomy. I just did a quick Google search, and the third hit was already an exasperating "Scientists have studied the brains of conservatives and liberals and ".
For starters, 'liberal' has a very different meaning in many countries. In my country of citizenship it means what an American would call moderate libertarian. Any country with a proportional representation system would find the idea of having only two political science boxes to sort people into a complete non-starter. And that is before asking whether such a question would have made sense to the ancestors of today's Americans 300 or, say, 10,000 years ago.
Of course it makes sense to ask what defines the conservative intellectual tradition in Europe and the Anglosphere, but the way that category is treated by many pollsters and journalists feels odd."The form of the objection is weird. "But, Socrates, how can you say that all triangles have three sides? That implies that all triangles are the same. But we all know that there are blue ones and red ones, big ones and little ones "Sebastian H 09.13.18 at 1:25 pm ( 25 )
The problem with Robin's book (and really large parts of his project as seen on his writings here and elsewhere) is that Robin is the one implying that because all triangles have three sides, that all triangles are big and red based on the fact that he can point to at least one or two triangles that are red and has heard of one that was big. He does this by selectively using analytic techniques in grossly tribal ways -- by applying leaps in the argument that would never be applied to members of his own tribe. He applies these Jonah Goldberg style leaps both backwards and forwards in time, erases distinctions between people with whom he disagrees while drawing hyper tight distinctions on behalf of people on his own side. He does it by looking at cherry picked outcomes which cut against his enemies, while limiting talk to stated desires without respect to outcomes of his friends. I'm broadly on his side of a lot of arguments, but my upbringing in an evangelical church has left me highly allergic to that kind of preaching to the choir."Instead of focusing on "freedom", I think, Robin has chosen to focus on "obedience". If conservativism is basically in the business of legitimating a certain kind of obedience, then you have an organizing principle that works better than family resemblence to identify the varieties of conservativism.."Z 09.13.18 at 1:27 pm ( 26 )
This is precisely the type of problem I'm talking about. You can only get that from an analytic frame where you ignore huge swaths of conservative thought as propaganda and by cherry picking the real world outcomes of movements you label conservative. But if you apply that exact same technique to huge swaths of leftist thought and get to cherry pick into the gulags or even just hyper vigilant policing of thoughtcrimes or purity politics on the left, you can find the same type of enforced obedience that he wants to criticize on the right. So he doesn't. Leftists get a completely different analytic treatment. They get to keep their rhetorical gestures toward the importance of freedom, their cherry picked outcomes are Sweden not Venezuela.
The problem with that is that he claims to be discovering something particular about conservatives. But he isn't. He is drawing with such a broad brush that he would implicate a large portion of leftism if we were applying his techniques in the same way to them. So his insights don't help us understand what makes conservatives and non conservatives different.@Stephen Does it follow that Remainers, or opponents of Trump, saying such things are in fact conservatives?Mrmr 09.13.18 at 1:41 pm ( 27 )
I wrote my comment before yours could be read, but as I wrote, conservatism is a specific reaction to a specific moment, or to a specific series of moments. That series is now finished, so I generally see little point in trying to fit contemporary political movements in squares belonging to a previous socio-political epoch. Trump, Brexit, Macron, AOC, Salvini, Merkel are cases in point.I'm in a similar place to Matt @12. I'd just add the following: as someone who has neither read the book nor is a scholar of the relevant area, my far off estimation of scholarship based on social epistemic cues, and, in this case, they are all giant red flags. The ONE uniting idea of conservatism is obviously perfidious? It's just so convenient. And then to hear -- well, sure, the project is of a special kind where the account isn't really beholden to historical details (too messy) or to doing best justice to the arguments (too diverse), it's unified at some intermediate level it's easy just to assume that this level was chosen precisely because underdefined and slippery, and that it's probably a polemical, highly motivated account that's not worth paying much attention to. And then it doesn't help that I see people citing the book in public discourse in a very incautious way. And it's worth emphasizing that these indirect cues are essential for managing how we approach a world full of way too much info to directly evaluate, and that they are often highly reliable.bob mcmanus 09.13.18 at 1:43 pm ( 28 )
This is admittedly all weak. I haven't read it. But it's some explanation for the purely sociological suggestion that many commenters may be going in extremely suspicious. And if they go in very suspicious, it's not that surprising that they're going to be less charitable to the intermediate level project described above.13: Gonna really miss Anderson and Jameson. From the cited piece:mpowel 09.13.18 at 1:48 pm ( 29 )
'war is the concern of the rich and powerful, that the poor should have nothing to do with it " Marc Bloch
'Morocco is not and has never been an Arab country.' Marcel Mauss
Also reading Adolph Reed on Dubois, and his principled progressive elitism;also a book on Lenin walking back his "cooks can run governments"
Liberals love hierarchies; the battles between conservatives and liberals involve only which elite should rule the masses, and has more to do with Pareto's foxes and lions than any general egalitarianism; the built-in enthusiastic hierarchies liberal capitalism automatically generates are it's point, and why actual leftists like Anderson and Jameson spend so much time attacking the center and left-center ( as essentially a variant of conservatism) and barely bother with the Right. I like Robin, and believe he gets it; I just really don't understand him.
It's about factions, power and opportunism; rising demographics in transition.
Kaepernick and BLM Cash In BLM got a freakish 100 million from Ford Foundation, with stipulations of course. They'll behave. Meanwhile, black men keep getting killed by cops, Dallas, manslaughter instead of murder. BLM can commission a tv ad produced by their friends. That's power. That's hierarchy. But that's fine because we like them.
Resisting Trump is easy. Resisting BLM or Clinton is really hard, which is why leftists focus there. Cause otherwise it's just out with the old boss, in with the new, and the war goes on.Since there are a lot of reasonable ways to approach the classification problem, I think one of the most important questions to ask is how useful any particular approach is. And it depends on your goals. I can think of 3 broad categories of goals in this case: 1) persuade the undecided, 2) rally the troops, 3) improve academic understanding. There is maybe a 4th: advance your position in a political fight on your own side, but that's a little trickier to analyze. I view Robin's approach to be mainly aimed at 2). I think it's effective for that purpose, but it's not that high of a target to aim for either.CDT 09.13.18 at 2:47 pm ( 30 )@Thomas Beale 16 and John @ 11:Lobsterman 09.13.18 at 10:27 pm (no link)
At least in the U.S., since Reagan "conservatives" in category a have repeatedly tried to characterize their craven interest in dominance as category b, "principled conservativism," even as conservative principles like balanced budgets, non-intervention, and personal liberty against government intrusion are abandoned. Paul Ryan will somehow still retire as a perceived committed deficit hawk. U.S. political conservatives have worked for decades to dress up their ideology of dominance with some faux intellectual rigor. This purported intellectual rigor is used as a mask for mean-spirited policies–for instance, "I regret having to cut social welfare programs, but I am a principled budget balancer and the math demands it" See The National Review. That's why there are so many leftish critics who puncture this pretense. The vast majority of U.S. conservatives who claim to belong to category b are really just providing intellectual cover for the obvious category a political actors.(b) doesn't exist. Conservatives are, as a group, in eager favor of concentration camps for toddlers, the drug war, unrestrained surveillance, American empire, civil forfeiture, mass incarceration, extrajudicial police execution, etc. etc. They have internal disagreements on how much to do those things, but the consensus is for all of them without meaningful constraint. And they are always justified in terms of (a).CDT 09.14.18 at 5:33 am (no link)I actually thought of mentioning Daniel Larison as an examle of a principled, paleoconservative. Few of his ilk survived the arrival of the neocons.ph 09.15.18 at 2:17 am (no link)
Anonymousse, since you contend we are being unduly harsh about the conservative intellectual project, please tell us which principled conservatives with influence and courage we are ignoring. I'm stumped.@55 You make a fair point.Faustusnotes 09.15.18 at 3:01 am ( 59 )
I suspect you don't really understand what I think, but that's cool, too!
I believe Bill Clinton and Trump are twins separated at birth, that the US presidency is a corporation masquerading as an individual, and that nothing brings Americans together like killing brown people. I also believe Labour in the UK supports pretty much all the scummy activities we see from US presidents, as do the Socialists in France. And that's my point. I'm delighted we can see the true face of American 'exceptionalism' on display everyday. The last thing I want to see is 'back to normal.'
What I really like about your stance on Trump and 'not us' is that you've evidently convinced yourself that finding the worst in others is the path to virtue.
Good luck with that!That Berkowitz quote is a special kind of slimy, and illustrates the problem of arguing with these slippery traitors. He suggests that conservatives are interested in preserving "the manners, mores, and principles of a self-governing people" as if leftists don't want this basic moral outcome; and he juxtaposes the conservative quest for total personal autonomy as if leftists don't want that. And, since by now conservatives are a minority, essentially he does exactly what Robin accuses all conservatives of doing: sets conservatives up as an elite with special insight and autonomy that must be defended against a lunpen mass that don't understand or care for these things. Beale above makes the same gross little error when he says conservatives aim at "maintaining philosophical +/- cultural values fundamental to a civilised society", presumably juxtaposing them with the broad mass of society who don't want this rarified moral good.Thomas Beale 09.15.18 at 7:52 am (no link)
We can see the moral and cultural values that conservatives consider to be fundamental to a civilized society in the behaviour of Trump and his enablers. It's theft, sexual assault, dishonesty, racism and treachery. The Berkowitz s and Beales of the world want us to judge conservatives by the words of a few of their "thinkers" (Milo, perhaps, or Tucker Carlson?) But we can see the moral values in their actions far more clearly than their words. Everyone of these scum has a mistress he will pay to have an abortion, and bribe politicians to hide; every one of these scum will sell out their country and any moral value for money; they will allgo to great lengths to cover up each others' rapes and robberies. Yet the Beales and Berkowitz s of the world want us to think that they stand for anything except murder, rape and theft, and worse still that they are the only defenders of the moral values fundamental to civilized society. Why would we believe them, when by their actions they show that their only interest is to hold power so that they can keep taking, killing and stealing?Z @ 54
I don't agree with people who are against abortion or gay marriage either; but it's easy enough to find people in society who take one or both of those stances (usually because of faith, or being part of an older generation) who are pro universal healthcare, taxes on the rich / corporations, and live modest lives.
The problem is that for us who live in pluralist societies, the full set of opinions held by most individuals don't sort cleanly into the boxes we'd like to sort the individuals into. A good concrete example is Brazil: Christian faith is very strong there, in standard and evangelical varieties, across all socio-economic levels; separately, many in the middle class want a better deal for poor people (10s of millions), and are in favour of better economic distribution rather than concentration (why? Because they see what a raw deal the poor have, it's in your face in Brazil; they also know about Petrobras, Odebrecht corruption sucking the life out of the economy). if you ask them about abortion and universal healthcare, you are likely to get answers that don't fit into your preferred political categories.
So while you might be able to show that opposition to legal abortion is philosophically of a piece with far more egregious kinds of deprivation of liberty and dignity, the reality is that most people holding the former kind of opinion don't hold the latter. As long as they respect democracy, we all get to live in peace.
Sep 15, 2018 | crookedtimber.org
Adam Roberts 09.13.18 at 5:30 pm ( 35 )'Hypocrisy', though a tendentious sort of word, is the key, I think. In electoral politics 40% on either side are going to vote the way they vote regardless of how persuasive the electoral campaign of candidate A, or the unfittedness of candidate B; so the game is: persuading those 20% who used to be called 'floating voters'.
And the way you do that is by blank-screening yourself and letting the electors project onto you, by presenting yourself as Conservative even though you're Labour (as Blair did), or conversely presenting yourself as radical even though you're a straight-down-the-line tax-cutting defense-budget-ballooning Republican.
Trump's campaign persuaded many that he would in no way 'conserve', but would rather tear down the establishment.
Brexit was masterminded by a group of elite hard right wingers who somehow managed to persuade a large tranche of the electorate that it Remain were all metropolitan elites and that they were the true voice of the people.
The real challenge is not finding a definition of conservatism that can bracket a genius like Burke with a moron like Sarah Palin; it's finding a definition that enables a billionaire playboy to define himself as a man of the people; that allows him to promise eg free healthcare for all and kicking Wall Street out of politics on the campaign trail without losing his Conservative bona fides.
Sep 15, 2018 | crookedtimber.org
I think it is impossible to discuss modern conservatism, especially its neocon variety without discussing neoliberalism. Too many people here concentrate on superficial traits, while the defining feature of modern conservatives is the unconditional support of "hard neoliberalism." There is also a Vichy party which supports "soft neoliberalism" ...
See Monbiot at https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiot
It may seem strange that a doctrine promising choice and freedom should have been promoted with the slogan "there is no alternative." But, as Hayek remarked on a visit to Pinochet's Kabaservice Contra Corey -- Thoughts About How To Think About Conservatism -- Crooked Timber Chile -- one of the first nations in which the programme was comprehensively applied -- "my personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism." The freedom that neoliberalism offers, which sounds so beguiling when expressed in general terms, turns out to mean freedom for the pike, not for the minnows.
Freedom from trade unions and collective bargaining mean the freedom to suppress wages. Freedom from regulation means the freedom to poison rivers, endanger workers, charge iniquitous rates of interest and design exotic financial instruments. Freedom from tax means freedom from the distribution of wealth that lifts people out of poverty.
The other important area is the attitude to the existence and maintenance of the global US empire and the level of indoctrination into "American exceptionalism" which I view as a flavor of far-right nationalism. But here we need to talk not about conservatism but neofascism.
In a way, the current crisis of neoliberalism in the USA (one of the features of which was de-legitimization of the neoliberal elite which led to the election of Trump) develops with strange similarities with the events of 1920-1935 in Europe.
Sep 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com
James lake September 10, 2018 at 10:12 pmI agree with Martina Navratilova on Serena Williams conductJen September 11, 2018 at 3:58 am
" Navratilova went so far as to write an editorial for the New York Times in which she claimed that, in complaining post-match that Ramos would not have reacted the same way to an argumentative male player, Williams was "missing the point" and would have been better served conducting herself with "respect for the sport we love so dearly."
"I don't believe it's a good idea to apply a standard of 'If men can get away with it, women should be able to, too,' " Navratilova said of Williams in her editorial. "Rather, I think the question we have to ask ourselves is this: What is the right way to behave to honor our sport and to respect our opponents?"
Serena Williams behaviour ruined the experience of victory for Naomi Osaka, if you get a chance to see film of the whole debacle with the booing crowd! She looked like the most miserable winner in ever.Another issue is that Williams deliberately puts on a tantrum and then claims the tantrum is normal emotional behaviour. On top of that, she tries to pass off this spoilt-brat outburst as characteristic of how strong, feminist women behave. All done as much to deny Osaka the joy of winning her first major championship as to attack the umpire.
And people who should know better swallow Williams' idiocy hook, line and sinker.
Sep 15, 2018 | www.unz.com
Greg Bacon , says: Website September 14, 2018 at 11:26 am GMT
Mostly reflexively, not always consciously, The Powers That Be seek to retain and enlarge their sphere of influence. Nothing, not even the venerated vote, is allowed to alter that "balance."
That's why the 'Deep State' or whatever one wants to call that malignant organism that has taken over DC–and much of the West–needs professional toadies like Woody, who will dutifully report whatever smelly lump of fertilizer the PTB are trying to sell. Bet Woody's the best paid stenographer in the world, doing a good job of confusing Americans, keeping them anxious of the unknown, so the PTB can keep herding us towards the NWO slaughterhouse.
The washed-out journalist then blurted out this in disbelief: "Trump said the 'World Trade Organization is the worst organization in the world.'"
Another bit of propaganda, as those central banks–like the toxic FED–keep the world under their thumb by controlling the money flow, printing currencies out of thin air, then getting paid outrageous sums of interest each year–around 500 Billion in the US–for their counterfeiting scheme.
That kind of power can and does crash stock markets and wreck economies, as the FED has been doing since it was spawned in 1913. They and their buddies then buy homes, businesses, MSM outlets and costly toys for pennies on the dollar, while us 'deplorables' wonder if they're going to be able to keep making their mortgage payments if they lose their job.
To repeat, this was promised on the campaign trail and in Trump position papers. We now know who stole those promises from the American people.
"We know?" Some do, but many don't, as they rally around Tubby the Grifter to protect their savior from those nasty Democrats.
"Drain the Swamp" and "MAGA" were skillfully crafted psyops, most likely from the inner sanctum of the most pernicious lobbying outfit on Capitol Hill, AIPAC. RT, a news outlet, got mugged by a sold-out Congress and forced to register as a lobbying outfit, but not AIPAC. No Sir, why that would be anti-Semitic and only foul, Jew hating Neo-Nazis would even think about making AIPAC follow the law.
What AIPAC has and continues to do needs to be kept hidden from the American public, lest they engage in the dangerous behavior of actually wondering if Israel is an ally or a well-disguised enemy.
Trump was bought and paid for a LONG time ago, and 2016 was when the bill came due. He was 'Chosen,' not be We the People, but AIPAC and Israel as the best POTUS to do their bidding, since Hillary carried way too much baggage.
Trump has been the best POTUS for Israel since the traitorous liar LBJ.
Sep 14, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Serena Williams Serves Tantrum, Scores for Identity Politics So we excuse the rules and condemn their application---but only for certain peopleDrama and literature at their best offer illustrative anecdotes -- small stories that represents larger truths. The absurdist theater of the women's U.S. Open tennis final, along with the mania it provoked, has become just such an anecdote. It illustrates the bleak assessment Edward Ward, my former philosophy professor and friend, once uttered over cheese sandwiches in the campus cafeteria: "We live in a society where we excuse the rules, and condemn their application."
Indifference to behavioral regulations and standards of practice had become common to the point of banality, Ward argued, subjecting anyone who attempted to enforce the rules to vilification.
For those who do not closely follow professional tennis, here's a review of the controversy. Serena Williams, undoubtedly one of the greatest players in the history of the game, was facing a rising superstar from Japan, Naomi Osaka. Williams is only one grand slam championship away from tying the all-time record, but has recently struggled to triumph over her younger opponents (most tennis players retire in their early to mid-thirties; Williams is 37). Osaka had already defeated Williams with ease at the Miami Open in March.
It appeared that the U.S. Open was headed for a repeat early in the match, with Osaka asserting swift dominance. Early in the first set, however, the linesman, Carlos Ramos, called a court violation on Williams' coach because he was signaling her -- an illegal activity in the sport of tennis. Rather than accept the warning, Williams unleashed a reality TV-style tirade on Ramos, excoriating him for "misreading" her coach's hand gestures and making bizarre reference to her daughter: "I never cheat I have a daughter, and I stand for what is right for her."
(Immediately following the match, in a rare and refreshing moment of honesty, Williams' coach admitted that he was signaling her the entire time, making Williams look both deceitful and foolish. Most post-match commentary has conveniently omitted the coach's confession from the record.)
After Williams lost the opening set's fifth game, she slammed her racket into the ground, causing its frame to bend. Intentional damage to a racquet is a code violation, and Ramos penalized her a point, the standard punishment for a second offense. Osaka quickly won the next game, making her the winner of the first set with a lopsided score of 6-2.
Williams then began screaming at Ramos, telling him that he was wrong to penalize her and protesting that the warning she received should not count as a violation because she was not cheating. Ramos sat silently as Williams ridiculed his performance as linesman and demanded that he apologize.
The second set advanced quickly with Osaka continuing to make fast work of Williams. During every break in play, Williams continued to badger Ramos, indicating that she would not stop until he announced over his microphone that he was sorry for what he did to her. He ignored her expressions of anger.What Ever Happened to the Rule of Law? The Darker Implications of Trump's Vulgarity
After Osaka pulled ahead 4-3, Williams again berated Ramos for his monstrous failures as a human being. Bringing her rant to a climax, she called him a "liar" and a "thief."
To impugn the character of a linesman violates the code of conduct governing play in professional tennis. Ramos flagged her for the third time, issuing the penalty of a forfeited game, making the set score 5-3. Williams pleaded with supervising officials of the tournament -- one man, one woman -- to overturn Ramos' calls, and they refused. She then made the contemptible claim that excited countless social media users and political commentators around the country: "I've seen men get away with his all the time. Just because I'm a woman, you are going to take this away from me."
Osaka won the second set, 6-4, and in doing so, became the first Japanese champion of the U.S. Open. The audience loudly booed and jeered throughout the awards ceremony, and the commissioner of the U.S. Open disgraced herself by saying, on air and in front of the rightful champion, "This isn't the end we were looking for." Williams made an attempt to recover some dignity by instructing her vulgar fans to stop heckling, but the entire event had already transformed into an ugly American extravaganza. Most infuriating was that Osaka looked dejected, unable to enjoy her first grand slam victory.
The next day, USA Today ran an opinion piece with the headline "Sexism Cost Serena Williams Tennis Title." Many other writers and TV analysts, none of whom seemed to know anything about tennis rules or history, began reciting from the same fatuous and phony script. A few have even tried to racialize the story, though given that Osaka's father is Haitian, that narrative has failed to gain traction.
Acting as though Ramos were self-evidently a misogynist, most media mouthpieces ignored that throughout the U.S. Open, male players have been called for 86 violations and women only 22. Nine of the 10 largest fines in tennis history for on-court violations have gone to men. Ramos himself has earned the wrath of men's champions Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Roger Federer for making calls they felt were too rigid and punitive.
The mob has also compared Williams' tantrum with the boorish imbecility of 1980s tennis stars John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. While it's true that both players often acted with disrespect more reminiscent of barroom drunks than professional athletes, they also benefitted from terribly lenient regulations of professional tennis. The ATP did not standardize the rules or crack down on outlandish player conduct until the late 1980s. Not coincidentally, McEnroe was ejected from the 1990 Australian Open after his fourth violation in a single match.
And yet arguing about the rules and pointing to the score of the match -- it is almost certain that Osaka would have won regardless -- feels oddly archaic. Many of Williams' desperate defenders are acting in emotional accordance with some strange, eschatological commitment to identity politics, and no amount of factual information will dissuade them. Another term my friend was fond of using was "biased apperception." The critics who call Ramos sexist without giving him the opportunity to defend himself have adopted a position and are working backwards to validate it. To pull this off, they have no choice but to excuse the rules and condemn their application. There is no debate that Williams broke three different rules, yet the lineman is sexist because he chose to apply them.
Rebecca Traister, a leading feminist writer for New York , begins her boring and predictable interpretation of the events with the following admission (which negates all the subsequent sentences in her essay):
I don't care much about the rules of tennis that Serena Williams was accused of violating at Saturday night's U.S. Open final. Those rules were written for a game and for players who were not supposed to look or express themselves or play the game as beautifully and passionately as either Serena Williams or the young woman who eventually beat her, 20-year-old Naomi Osaka, do.
Overlooking Traister's weird disparagement of every women's champion who proceeded Williams and Osaka as ugly and impassive, and her incoherent grammar (how is a game supposed to "express themselves"?), it is revealing that she prefaces her entire argument by saying that rules do not matter if the right people did not author them. The crime is not the transgression, but the enforcement.
The "excuse the rules, condemn the application" mentality is a societal sickness responsible for much that troubles our body politic.
To begin with an example that will interest those who practice identity politics, President Donald Trump has thrived on condemning those who enforce the rules. Though he regularly demonstrates a daunting pattern of dishonesty, is an unnamed co-conspirator in a criminal indictment, has seen several of his associates indicted or convicted of crimes, and continually makes a mockery of decorum and etiquette, whenever he is caught in an act of wrongdoing, his immediate response is to spit a venomous stream of clichés: "fake news," "deep state," "witch hunt."
Another example is the bailout of the big banks that followed the 2008 financial crisis. Few disagreed that the world's major financial institutions violated the rules, but the idea of accountability was suddenly radical and unthinkable.
If a connection between corporate malfeasance, presidential malpractice, and a tennis champion's childish outburst seems tenuous, consider that in all three cases the get-out-of-jail-free card is an appeal to ideology. Rules, we are asked to believe, are irrelevant, and even themselves infringements on belief systems like populism and feminism that are regarded as more important.
The self-involvement and extreme subjectivity necessary for such a destructive belief permeates into non-ideological aspects of culture. Grade inflation in higher education, as any instructor can attest, exists largely because students cannot fathom suffering consequences for lazy or mediocre work. The issuance of assignments and exams is fine, but to actually grade them according to an objective standard is evil.
America needs a serious dose of Immanuel Kant's categorical imperative. One should act only in such a way that one would approve of everyone else acting in a given situation.
Writing for The New York Times , retired tennis champion Martina Navratilova wisely states, "We cannot measure ourselves by what we think we should also be able to get away with. In fact, this is the sort of behavior that no one should be engaging in on the court. There have been many times when I was playing that I wanted to break my racket into a thousand pieces. Then I thought about the kids watching. And I grudgingly held on to that racket."
Obvious to anyone but the willfully ignorant, this is a far better formula for a healthy society than "I don't care about the rules."
David Masciotra is the author of four books, including Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky) and Barack Obama: Invisible Man (Eyewear Publishing).
Kurt Gayle September 13, 2018 at 11:26 pmThe International Tennis Federation (ITF) released the following statement relating to umpiring decisions during the 2018 US Open Women's final:
"Carlos Ramos is one of the most experienced and respected umpires in tennis. Mr. Ramos' decisions were in accordance with the relevant rules and were re-affirmed by the US Open's decision to fine Serena Williams for the three offences. It is understandable that this high profile and regrettable incident should provoke debate. At the same time, it is important to remember that Mr. Ramos undertook his duties as an official according to the relevant rule book and acted at all times with professionalism and integrity."
"The Grand Slam Rule Book can be found here. Player on site offences including the point penalty schedule used in this instance can be found in Article III."
ARTICLE III: PLAYER ON-SITE OFFENCES -- pages 36-48
Martin Gomez, September 14, 2018 at 10:22 pm
I follow tennis and am not a feminist. There were two things the ump should have done. First, everyone knows that all players in tennis are getting coached. If ump was going to call it, he should have warned both players and coaches before the match.
Second, when Serena was mouthing off during the changeover, he should have told her: "you've made your point, one more insult and you're going to get a penalty" and then, just ignore her. If she keeps it up then you dick her.
As for Serena, she is a brand. Which is why she blew up for being caught cheating. It was more important for her to defend her image than to win the match
Kalmia, September 15, 2018 at 9:17 am
Serena Williams is not unusual in being a world-class athlete/competitor who is also a very very bad loser. Her behavior wasn't that unusual and the punishment in the game was appropriate, it should have ended with that. In my view, it's the crowd and her supporters who are the real villains here for letting their bias towards her (and identity politics) warp their sense of justice and fairness. Poor Osaka deserved much better than the booing and rash of hot takes.
Jeeves, September 15, 2018 at 4:36 pm
Rat: Williams was livid because she was getting her tutu kicked all over the court. Desperate and depraved gamesmanship was all it was.
Although you'd never know it from the terrible reporting in this article, following the game-penalty imposed by Ramos, Osaka intentionally gave Serena the next game by missing returns of Serena's serve -- I suppose hoping to calm down the woman who was her tennis idol growing up. It didn't work, though, because Serena was unappeased–and outplayed. (To top it off, the stupid TV commentators wanted to give Serena kudos for her quieting of her booing fans at the awards presentation. No-class athlete, no-class fans.)
Sisera, September 15, 2018 at 10:16 pm
Agreed & isn't it funny how in the world of many centrist 'apologist' types, fighting back against identity politics, entitlement of elites, etc. is in and of itself identity politics?
I mean it's like the grade school insult of 'I know you are but what am I'….and many (albeit not this author) say it with all the smugness and gotchaness in the world.
They adhere to identity politics and have no self awareness and hence can't recognize it.
Ivo Olavo Castro da Silva, September 16, 2018 at 12:31 am
The fact that Serena's fans and the media supported her disgusting actions only confirm their total absence of any moral standard.
Tennis Fan, September 16, 2018 at 10:05 am
In response to "Rat says…Why did the judge decide that the final was the time to start applying an otherwise-ignored rule? Sure, it would have been preferable for her to keep her cool, but it's understandable why Williams was livid."
It may be that coaches get away with coaching quite often, however, IMHO the umpire happened to actually catch the coach right in the act of coaching (and if you see the video of the supposed incident, her coach, Patrick, actually gives two head-nods in that very brief moment and to me, the head-nods acknowledge that they made eye contact-my personal opinion only).
The umpire immediately decided to call it out... Who knows, maybe in that very moment, he felt it wasn't fair for her to be getting coaching, he actually caught the coaching, and his gut instinct was to make the call on it. I don't fault the umpire one bit. Had Serena accepted the call and moved on, the entire tide of the match may have taken a different turn.
Sep 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com
kirill September 10, 2018 at 6:48 pmAs commented elsewhere, all her screeching about double standards for women are utter BS. She broke the rules while playing against another woman and not a man. The men's tennis league is utterly irrelevant since she may as well have compared her league to men's football. She failed by the standards of her league and not those of another. It was clear that she was breaking the rules of her league and she was the one that escalated the conflict. It has nothing to do with women's rights.Jen September 10, 2018 at 6:49 pm
The PC drones are rather mentally deficient. They respond to trigger phrases and not to concepts or principles.Australian cartoonist Mark Knight is in trouble with J K Rowling and other self-styled guardians of who may portray Serena Williams in meltdown and who may not. The offending drawing below:
Sep 14, 2018 | www.unz.com
Carlton Meyer , says: Website September 14, 2018 at 4:30 am GMTWoodward is a career CIA agent as documented in many articles, such as this:Justsaying , says: September 14, 2018 at 4:59 am GMT
He graduated from the CIA university (aka Yale) then went to CIA basic training as a naval intelligence officer for five years, then to the Washington Post. This is why he was allowed White House access by the Trump Neocons, despite is record as a back stabber to those who oppose the Neocon agenda. The Washington Post itself was co-founded by the CIA. Woodward was a key player in the last CIA coup when Nixon was ousted, not too long after they disposed of troublesome President Kennedy. I noted some of this in my 2010 blog:
Retired USAF Col. Fletcher Prouty revealed that the "Pentagon Papers" were a planned CIA leak to shift blame for the failed war in Vietnam from the CIA to the Pentagon. The documents were real, but only certain documents were released. Prouty wrote the other reason for this "leak" was to upset the Nixon administration, which it was trying to destabilize in hopes of ousting Nixon.
That President was upset that the CIA refused to provide him with requested documents concerning the Bay of Pigs and the JFK assassination. Nixon also angered the "Power Elite" by withdrawing American troops from their profitable business venture in Vietnam and improving relations with Red China.
Nixon was ousted with the help of covert CIA agent Bob Woodward, working undercover as a reporter at the CIA co-founded "Washington Post". Gerald Ford became President, who just happened to be a member of the discredited Warren Commission that engineered the cover-up of the JFK assassination!This piece makes Trump look like a credible president – that is, if he is to be judged by his campaign promises to the American electorate who voted him in. This is only partly true. Recall that Trump did make unequivocal promises: "We will stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn't be involved with,". and "We will stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn't be involved with," Not long after such promises, he announced he would be sending more troops to Afghanistan. His bombing of Syria and illegally keeping American boots in that country surely flies in the face of such promises especially in light of statements that American troops will not leave that country any time soon, in keeping with America's zeal for fighting Israel's wars. This piece portrays Trump as intrepid and true to his word. Yet, like many of his predecessors, the morbid fear of the pro-Israeli lobby remains a defining feature of US foreign policy matters. Neither can Trump exonerate himself from the ongoing tragedy in Yemen emboldening the Saudis and their Emirati allies with the sale of billions of dollars of arms to these medieval monarchies, not to mention the logistical support given them by the US.
Sep 12, 2018 | www.unz.com
anonymous ,  Disclaimer says: Next New Comment September 11, 2018 at 4:28 pm GMTAll Trump has to do to get rid of the Op Ed guy is to fire all those who want to go to war withRussia. That would leave him with no staff.Admiral Assbar , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2018 at 4:46 pm GMT
But Trump is not fooling me. You do not make a campaign promise to cooperate with Russia, and then hire all these people who want to go to war with Russia.
It tells me that Trump was lying during his campaign.
He told us Iraq was the wrong decision, and now he has bombed Syria twice and is ready to bomb them again; he told us that he wants out of the mid-east; he told us he wanted to cooperate with Russia.
So I voted for him, but he was lying. I already found out he is a brazen liar. He took those Clinton women to his debate to humiliate Hillary and Bill Clinton, when all the while he was doing the same thing with women. That is what I call a brazen liar.
He is a pawn of the State of Israel, nothing more and nothing less. They probably told him to hire Bolton and all the other war-mongers around him. He's not surrounded by the enemy. He is surrounded by his friends.The biggest mystery of this whole presidency is why the guy who went to battle against the GOP foreign policy establishment turned over those policy positions to them, instead of putting people into office who actually looked favorably on him and shared areas of agreement with him (paleocons, realists, non-interventionists, etc.). The only foreign policy promise he's kept is the one that happened to align with the neocon preferences: backing out of the Iran deal.Tom Welsh , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2018 at 7:52 pm GMT
I guess it must come down to Jared Kushner and his close ties with Israel and the Gulf Arabs, but still find it bizarre that Trump never reached out to Pat Buchanan, Rand Paul, Steve Bannon, etc., in selecting foreign policy officials.@Admiral Assbar The biggest mystery of this whole presidency is why the guy who went to battle against the GOP foreign policy establishment turned over those policy positions to them, instead of putting people into office who actually looked favorably on him and shared areas of agreement with him (paleocons, realists, non-interventionists, etc.). The only foreign policy promise he's kept is the one that happened to align with the neocon preferences: backing out of the Iran deal.ChuckOrloski , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2018 at 10:13 pm GMT
I guess it must come down to Jared Kushner and his close ties with Israel and the Gulf Arabs, but still find it bizarre that Trump never reached out to Pat Buchanan, Rand Paul, Steve Bannon, etc., in selecting foreign policy officials. "The biggest mystery of this whole presidency is why the guy who went to battle against the GOP foreign policy establishment turned over those policy positions to them "
It seems fairly clear that, whenever a new President is sworn in, he immediately receives a "pep talk" in which he is informed what he will and will not say and do, and what will happen to him, his family, their pets, and everyone they have ever spoken to if he disobeys. Probably this "offer that he can't refuse" is concluded by words along the lines of: " and if you want to get what the Kennedys got, just try stepping out of line".
J. Edgar Hoover used to do something of the kind when he was head of the FBI, but that was relatively benign – just a threat of blackmail accompanied by kindly advice never to fight the FBI.@AlbionRevisited I was referring to the campaign, of course we're in a different situation now. It's amazing the way in which they were able to co-oped his administration. AlbionRevisted wrote: "It's amazing the way in which they (Neoconservatives) were able to co-oped his (Trump)
Many were disappointed with Trump and that might even include a percentage of the voting bloc known as "Deplorables."
Nonetheless, after honing into candidate Donald Trump's awful 2017 homage to AIPAC, it becomes dramatically less amazing how Neoconservatives crept into the White House.
Recall how rabid leftist Neoconservatives wanted Hillary, and how suddenly the naysayer, Extra-Octane Neoconservative, John Bolton, stuck with the phoney populist, "America First-After-Israeli-Interests," talkin' Donald J. Trump?
The essence of American presidential campaigns/elections boil down to powerful international Jewry needs & timing, and disemboweled citizens must take-it or leave-it. Uh, support the immoral wars and pay the bill!
Herald says: September 12, 2018 at 10:53 am GMT • 100 Words
I am not convinced that Trump started out with good intentions but quickly bowed to threats. Trump was never a principled person and it seems much more likely that he was always a stooge for the Israel lobby and the MIC.
I used to think that things would have been worse under Hillary but these days I'm even beginning to have doubts on that score.
jacques sheete, September 12, 2018 at 11:19 am GMT • 100 Words
The biggest mystery of this whole presidency is why the guy who went to battle against the GOP foreign policy establishment turned over those policy positions to them
No mystery at all. It was all campaign rhetoric like the Shrub's promises of "a humble foreign policy" and "compassionate conservatism," O-bomba-'s "hope and change"and Woody 'n Frankies promises to keep the US out of war.
KenH, September 12, 2018 at 12:20 pm GMT
Trump is now becoming more "patriotic" by the day with his willingness to get us into another no-win, forever war in Syria for Israel. I say we air drop John Brennan into Idlib so he can fight and die like a real man.
Sep 12, 2018 | www.unz.com
annamaria , says: Next New Comment September 12, 2018 at 12:48 pm GMT@KenH Trump is now becoming more "patriotic" by the day with his willingness to get us into another no-win, forever war in Syria for Israel. I say we air drop John Brennan into Idlib so he can fight and die like a real man. More on patriotism and loyalty. -- To what country?
https://www.fort-russ.com/2018/09/the-plot-against-trump-to-capture-the-white-house-netanyahus-design-part-iii/ by Ronald Thomas West.
"Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you" – Chuck Schumer. maybe Schumer's protective scare-mongering goes to a deeper matter; the matter of the most powerful intelligence agency operating in the USA is MOSSAD, an entity which has penetrated every aspect of American governance.
AIPAC is one of MOSSAD's favorite playgrounds
Did Sanders' people challenge 'the Russians did it' propaganda line, demand the DNC servers be examined by forensic specialists and investigate Crowdstrike? No.
no U.S. intelligence agency has performed its own forensic analysis on the [Clinton's] hacked servers. Instead, the bureau and other agencies have relied on analysis done by the third-party security firm CrowdStrike [Dm. Alperovitch, of the CrowdStrike fame, is a vicious Russophobe and loyal zionist fed and cared for by the ziocon Atlantic Council.] In actuality we know it was the assassinated Seth Rich took the DNC emails with a thumbdrive.
Vladimir Putin, the man standing in the way of Syria's breakup and working to keep the Iran agreement intact and avert a war, must be demonized to realize Bibi Netanyahu's goals. In fact, Israel's intelligence services focus has historically prioritized Russia, first, and the USA second "
– The Jewish Bolsheviks are in arms against Russia and the US because this is what the Jewish Bolsheviks are best for -- at the destruction of functioning human societies.
Sep 10, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Ken Zaretzke September 8, 2018 at 6:03 pm"But a savvy Donald Trump saw the conspiracy right away. And he realized immediately that in order to carry his campaign agenda to Make America Great Again he must of necessity first preserve his presidency from the conspiracy of the Deep State, the mainstream media, and the establishment elites of both political parties"flood plain , says: September 9, 2018 at 12:57 pm
I agree that this is possibly the case, but what about Rosenstein's Monster?
IOW, why is Mueller being allowed to run amok? Does Trump have a plan to contain the damage, however fabricated, other than (rightly) criticizing Jeff Sessions for recusing himself?I agree with Bob. It's all of them. Dump them all, including Trump, his creepy family and cronies, and the garbage GOP who passed the biggest deficit budget in US history.Patricus , says: September 9, 2018 at 6:33 am
Trump already totally betrayed voters like me, who wanted our troops out of the Middle East and our resources and focus back on America, Americans, and American infrastructure.
The smell coming from Washington, Wall Street, the MSM, and Silicon Valley is overpowering.Liam, the "suckers who voted for Trump" happen to be the electorate. A similar group of suckers voted for Obama, Bush and Clinton. This trio who preceded Trump were not golden gods of leadership as I recall. The last two doubled and redoubled the total national debt, and squandered trillions in pointless wars.
Trump had the sense to encourage development and transport of natural resources. He slashed mindless regulations and reduced taxes. The economy is growing after the long Obama depression. His was the worst economy in my lifetime. In the Carter years of stagflation companies would not hire young grads. In the Obama years that was also the case but many middle aged workers were let go as well. We might now be seeing real wage increases across the board. If Trump is a clown, as so many describe, perhaps we should recruit future presidents from clown schools.
Sep 10, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Jackrabbit , Sep 9, 2018 4:21:51 PM | 21
Pat Lang starts to wake up:At some point even the most ardent Trump acolyte will have to admit this [Syria] is now Trump's policy. It is not something done by the neocons, the deep state, the anonymous resister or the ghost of John McCain without Trump's acquiescence. [And] He is not ... clueless, oblivious ...Pat is half right.
I've been saying for over a year that Trump is the Republican Obama. He is a faux populist front man.
Just like "Obamabots", "Trumptard" apologists blame hardliners for the failings of their hero. It's all a game. It's part of the faux populist political model. Faux populists SERVE THE ESTABLISHMENT so they destined to betray their 'base'.
There are two other fallacies that keep cropping up to confuse things:1) Triumph of Democracy. While some may recognize that USA is no longer a democracy, others continue to insist that "Trump won" and are incline to suspect Russian interference (even while acknowledging the flaws in that theory). Few care to delve much deeper (i.e. engage brain cells).Party and Personality are the masks used to keep us divided and maintain the illusion of democracy.
2) President's Constitutional power. You see this mistake made as Pat Lang declares that Trump 'owns' the Syrian mess now. The President has great power in the US Constitutional system and (sadly) that is why it is so important to the establishment that it be controlled. Trump was SELECTED, not ELECTED.
Sep 05, 2018 | consortiumnews.com
The United States today qualifies as a plutocracy – on a number of grounds, and it is having a profound impact on the media, education and think tanks–indeed on the whole of society, says Michael Brenner.
Plutocracy literally means rule by the rich. "Rule" can have various shades of meaning: those who exercise the authority of public office are wealthy; their wealth explains why they hold that office; they exercise that authority in the interests of the rich; they have the primary influence over who holds those offices and the actions they take.
These aspects of "plutocracy" are not exclusive. Moreover, government of the rich and for the rich need not be run directly by the rich. Also, in some exceptional circumstances rich individuals who hold powerful positions may govern in the interests of the many, for example Franklin Roosevelt.
The United States today qualifies as a plutocracy – on a number of grounds. Let's look at some striking bits of evidence. Gross income redistribution upwards in the hierarchy has been a feature of American society for the past decades. The familiar statistics tell us that nearly 80 percent of the national wealth generated since 1973 has gone to the upper 2 percent and 65 percent to the upper 1 per cent. Estimates for the rise in real income for salaried workers over the past 40 years range from 20 percent to 28 percent. In that period, real GDP has risen by 110 percent – it has more than doubled.
To put it somewhat differently, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the top earning 1 percent of households gained about 8 times more than those in the 60 percentile after federal taxes and income transfers between 1979 and 2007 and 10 times those in lower percentiles.
In short, the overwhelming fraction of all the wealth created over two generations has gone to those at the very top of the income pyramid.
That pattern has been markedly accelerated since the financial crisis hit in 2008. Between 2000 and 2012, the real net worth of 90 percent of Americans has declined by 25 percent. Meanwhile, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates et al, i.e. the wealthiest 1 percent of the world's population, now own more than half of the world's wealth (according to a Credit Suisse report in Nov. 2017). Croesus is green with envy.
Not By Accident
Theoretically, there is the possibility that this change is due to structural economic features operating nationally and internationally. That argument won't wash, though, for three reasons.
Plutocrat Bezos at the Pentagon with then Defense Secretary Ash Carter, May 2016. (Wikimedia Commons)
First, there is every reason to think that such a process has accelerated over the past nine years during which disparities have widened at a faster rate. Second, other countries (many even more enmeshed in the world economy) have seen nothing like the drastic phenomenon occurring in the United States. Third, the readiness of the country's political class to ignore what has been happening, and the absence of remedial action that could have been taken, in themselves are clear indicators of who shapes thinking and determines public policy.
In addition, several significant governmental actions have been taken that directly favor the moneyed interests. This includes the dismantling of the apparatus to regulate financial activities specifically and big business generally.
Runaway exploitation of the system by predatory banks was made possible by the Clinton "reforms" of the 1990s and the lax application of those rules that still prevailed. Former Attorney General Eric Holder, let's recall, went so far as to admit that the Department of Justice's decisions on when to bring criminal charges against the biggest financial institutions will depend not on the question of legal violations alone but would include the hypothetical effects on economic stability of their prosecution. (Those adverse effects are greatly exaggerated).
Earlier, Holder had extended blanket immunity to Bank of America and other mortgage lenders for their apparent criminality in forging through robo-signing of foreclosure documents on millions of home owners. In brief, equal protection and application of the law has been suspended. That is plutocracy.
Moreover, the extremes of a regulatory culture that, in effect, turns public officials into tame accessories to financial abuse emerged in stark relief at the 2013 Levin Committee hearings on J P Morgan Chase's 'London Whale" scandal. Morgan officials stated baldly that they chose not to inform the Controller of the Currency about discrepancies in trading accounts, without the slightest regard that they might be breaking the law, in the conviction that it was Morgan's privilege not to do so.
Senior regulators explained that they did not see it as their job to monitor compliance or to check whether claims made by their Morgan counterparts were correct. They also accepted abusive treatment, e.g. being called "stupid" to their face by senior Morgan executives. That's plutocracy at work. The Senate Finance Committee hearing drew only 3 senators – yet another sign of plutocracy at work. When mega-banks make illicit profits by money laundering for drug cartels and get off with a slap on the wrist, as has HSBC and others, that too is plutocracy. FDR, it rightly is said, saved American capitalism. Barack OBAMA saved predatory financial capitalism.
When the system of law that is meant to order the workings of society without reference to ascriptive persons is made malleable in the hands of officials to serve the preferred interests of some, it ceases to be a neutral instrument for the common good. In today's society, it is becoming the instrument of a plutocracy.
The financial behemoths and big business in general can count on sympathetic justices to bail them out when cornered by prosecutors. The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, was making an earnest attempt to call to account several predators when the New York Supreme Court pulled the rug out from under him. Their generous interpretation of the dubious Supreme Court decision on wrongful trading cases upheld the overturning of the conviction of Michael S. Steinberg, the highest-ranking officer of notorious hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors . Bharara was obliged to drop seven outstanding cases against the Wall Street biggies.
Corporate Tax Dodging
There are myriad other examples of complicity between legislators or regulators, on the one hand, and special business interests on the other. Environmental Protection Agency judgments that are reversed under the combined pressure of the commercial interests of affected and beholden politicians is one. The government's decision not to seek the power to bargain with pharmaceutical companies over the price of drugs paid for with public funds is another. Tolerance for the concealment of offshore profits in the tens of billions is a third. This last is the most egregious.
Taking a bite out of public finances: Apple paid zero taxes.
Some of the most profitable companies pay little or no federal taxes. Apple is outstanding among them – it has paid zero. Facebook and Microsoft follow closely behind. General Electric received a tax refund in 2015 – after revenues of $8 billion. Its global tax rate in all jurisdictions was 3.2 percent.
In California, several corporate giants (including Apple and Genentech) have launched an aggressive campaign in an unprecedented effort to be reimbursed for real estate taxes on the grounds that their assets have been over-assessed – and their profits unfairly cut. The Silicon Valley town of Cupertino hosts the world headquarters of Apple, which built its vast campus there in 2014. It has 13,000 employees. How much does it pay the city of Cupertino for the services provided? $6,000.
Apple has rejected polite suggestions that it might raise that amount on grounds that doing so would be in contradiction of its business model. The threat of packing up and moving the whole shebang to Sheboygan is hardly credible given the multi-billion investment in concrete and glass. Apple's power to get its way is political and cultural. Cupertino, by the way, was a prosperous town before Apple set up shop there.
Even in Seattle, bastion of progressive politics, Amazon has shown how easily it can intimidate and muscle politicos to do its bidding. A path-breaking corporate tax was enacted in May that would raise $50 million annually to help cover the cost of desperately needed affordable housing programs. It was passed unanimously by the City Council to nation-wide acclaim.
In June it was scuttled by a 7-2 vote. What had happened to produce this 'epiphany?' Simple – Amazon announced that it was suspending all expansion plans for Seattle, and were joined by Microsoft, Starbucks and others in a declaration of war against the city. Mayor Jenny Durkin caved in: "We heard you," she said while waving the white flag and bowing to her masters.
In short, a city besieged by barbarians saved itself by enslaving itself. Thereby, Seattle is little different from an old style corporate run mill town like Bethlehem or Scranton, Pennsylvania. That's our bright high-tech future under plutocracy.
Please note: Seattle and Silicon Valley are where Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other Democratic leaders go to plead for money from hedge fund vultures and IT billionaires to fund their 'Republican-lite' 'reform' campaigns.
The ethic of corporate entitlement is carried to its extreme by Uber. The company flouts laws and regulations as a matter of course. It exploits its disposable gig workers to build a clientele and then tells local authorities that if they enforce the rules, Uber will leave – and leave angry voters behind. Currently, they are hotly contesting a ruling of the California Supreme Court that its throw-away workers are not "independent contractors." In its typical aggressive fashion, Uber leaders are buying politicians and stirring its promoters to get a legislative exception. Board member Ariana Huffington, former progressive activist, is in full support. So it goes in a plutocracy.
Relaxed interpretations of the tax laws by the IRS to the advantage of high income persons can be added to the list. So, too, can the give-away to sole source contractors of the tens of billions squandered in Iraq and Afghanistan. The number of such direct assists to big business and the wealthy is endless.
The point is that government, at all levels, serves particular selfish interests no matter who holds high positions. While there is some difference between Republicans and Democrats on this score, it has narrowed on most major items to the point that the fundamental properties of the biased system are so entrenched as to be impervious to electoral outcomes. The most revealing experience that we have of that harsh reality is the Obama administration's strategic decision to allow Wall Street to determine how and by whom the 2008 financial crisis would be handled.
Systemic biases are the most crucial factor is creating and maintaining plutocratic orientations of government. They are confirmed, and reinforced, by the identities and identifications of the persons who actually hold high elected office.
Our leaders are nearly all rich by any reasonable standard. Most are very rich. Trump's cabinet is dominated by billionaires. Those who weren't already rich have aspired to become so and have succeeded. The Clintons are the striking case in point. That aspiration is evinced in how they conduct themselves in office.
DeVos: One of several Trump Cabinet billionaires. (Michael Vadon)
Congress, for its part, is composed of two rich men/women's clubs. In many cases, personal wealth helped win them their offices. In many others, they knit ties with lobbies that provided the necessary funds. Former Senator Max Baucus should have worn a Big Pharma jersey, like soccer players, if truth in advertising rules pertained. Whether they are "bought off" in some sense or other, they surely are often coopted. The most insidious aspect of cooptation is to see the world from the vantage point of the advantaged and special economic interests.
The devolution of the Democratic Party from being the representative of ordinary people to being just "another bunch of guys" is a telling commentary on how American politics has degenerated into a plutocracy. The party's rolling over to accommodate the interests of the wealthy has been a theme of the past decade or longer.
From the Obama White House to the halls of Congress, party leaders (and most followers) have conceded the dominance of conservative ideas about macro-economic strategy (the austerity dogma), about retaining largely untouched the for-profit health care "non-system," about bailing out the big financial players at the expense of everyone else and the economy's stability, and about degrading Social Security and Medicare. The last item is the most egregious – and revealing – of our plutocratic ways and means. For it entails a combination of intellectual deceit, blatant massaging of the numbers, and disregard for the human consequences in a time of growing distress for tens of millions. In other words, there is no way to conceal or spin the trade-offs made, who is being hurt and who would continue to enjoy the advantages of skewed fiscal policies.
The most compelling evidence of how the money interests shape American politics is the systematic disregard for the most overt manifestations of predatory capitalism. Consider the tax exemption corporate leaders have granted themselves by devising ingenious ways of incorporating themselves in tax havens (or even no-tax cyber space) where all profits are registered via the manipulation of transfer pricing – as noted above. Yet, there is not a single bit of proposed legislation to remedy this gross misappropriation of wealth being considered by either branch of the United States Congress. It was raised, albeit tangentially and briefly, by only one candidate in the 2016 election – Bernie Sanders.
No one is raising it in this year's mid-terms. As for the hedge fund/private equity vultures, they were singled out for denunciation by Newt Gingrich – of all people – back in the 2012 Republican primaries against Mitt Romney. It was the main reason for his surprise victory in South Carolina. Then came the much publicized debate in Florida. To everyone's surprise, Gingrich was completely silent about hedge funds and never mentioned Romney's career as a hedge fund predator. What happened? The Party heavies made him a proposition he could not refuse: either shut up or you'll never eat lunch again in Washington. Fold up your lucrative consultancy, turn in your celebrity card, and start getting your new wife accustomed to dinners at Eat & Park.
The Media's Job
In 1884 when major media took on the plutocracy before the plutocracy took over the media. (Wikimedia Commons)
There is another, absolutely crucial dimension to the consolidation of America's plutocracy. It is controlling the means to shape how the populace understands public matters and, thereby, to channel thought and behavior in the desired direction. Our plutocratic guides, prophets and trainers have been enormously successful in accomplishing this. One object of their efforts has been to render the media into either conscious allies or to denature them as critics or skeptics. Their success is readily visible.
Who in the media has challenged the plutocracy serving falsehood that Social Security and Medicare are the main cause of our deficits whose imminent bankruptcy puts in jeopardy the American economy? Who even bothers to inform the public that those two programs' trust funds draw on a separate revenue source from the rest of the budget? Answer: no one in or near the mainstream media.
Who has performed the most elementary service in pointing out that of all the jobs created since 2009, small as the number has been, 60 percent at least have been either part-time or temporary? Answer: again, no one. Who has bothered to highlight the logical flaws in the market fundamentalist view of the world that has so deformed perceptions of what works and doesn't work in macro-economic management? Yes, Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz and a handful of others – although even Krugman's colleagues writing on business and economics at The New York Times seem not to have the time to read him or else lack the wit to comprehend what he is saying.
Think Tank Takeovers
A second objective in a similar vein has been to dominate the think tank/foundation world. Today, nearly every major Washington think tank depends on corporate money. Businessmen sit on the boards and shape research programs. Peter G. Peterson, the hedge fund billionaire, took the more direct route of acquiring the International Institute of Economics, renaming it after himself. He then set about using it as an instrument to carry on the campaign against Social Security which has become his life's work.
Then there is Robert Rubin. Rubin is the distilled essence of financial malpractice, and the embodiment of the government-Wall Street nexus that brought the country to wrack and ruin. Author of Clinton's deregulation program while Secretary of the Treasury: later super lobbyist and Chairman of the conglomerated super bank CITI (only made possible by his deregulation) in the years before it was pulled from the brink of bankruptcy by Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner; and adviser to Barack Obama who stocked the new administration with Rubin protégés. He since has ensconced himself as Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and Director of the highly prestigious, lavishly funded Hamilton Project at Brookings. By happenstance, both organizations late last year featured presentations by Jaime Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, America's biggest bank. The presentation was billed as a forum for a leading global CEO to share priorities and insights before a high-level audience of CFR members. This is plutocracy in action.
The third objective has been to weaken public education. We have witnessed the assault on our public elementary school system in the name of effectiveness, efficiency and innovation. Charter schools are the watchword. Teachers are blamed as the heart of the problem. So privatization, highly profitable privatization, is sold as the solution to save America's youth in the face of ample evidence to the contrary. Cast aside is the historical truth that our public school system is the one institution, above all others, that made American democracy. It also is a bastion of enlightened social thinking. It thereby qualifies as a target.
The same goes for the country's proud network of public universities. From state to state, they are starved for funding and made sacrificial lambs on the altar of the austerity cult. They, too, are stigmatized as "behind the times," as no longer doing the job of supplying the business world with the obedient, practical skilled workers it wants. Business schools, long a dependency of the corporate world, are held up as the model for private-public partnership in higher education. Distance learning, often managed by for-profit "expert" consultants or "entrepreneurs", is advertised as the wave of a bright future – a future with fewer liberal-leaning professors with fuzzy ideas about the good society. Distance learning is the higher education companion to the charter school fad. Lots of promises, little delivery, but well conceived to advance a plutocracy friendly agenda.
The University of Virginia. (Karen Blaha)
Here, too, boards of regents are led by business men or women. The abortive coup at the University of Virginia was instigated by the rector who is a real estate developer in Virginia Beach. The chairman of the Board of Regents at the University of Texas system where tensions are at a combustible level is a real estate developer. The chairman at the University of California is CEO of two private equity firms – and the husband of Senator Diane Feinstein. His pet project was to have the moneys of the California teacher's pension fund (CALPERS) placed in the custody of private financial houses. Two former directors of the fund currently are under criminal investigation for taking very large kick-backs from other private equity firms to whom they directed monies – and which later employed them as 'placers.' That's plutocracy at work.
Money as the Measure of All Things
The ultimate achievement of a plutocracy is to legitimize itself by fixing in the minds of society the idea that money is the measure of all things. It represents achievement, it is the sine qua non for giving people the things they most want. It is the gauge of an individual's worth. It is the mark of status in a status anxious culture. That way of seeing the world describes the outlook of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. It is Obama who, at the height of the financial meltdown, lauded Jaime Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs CEO, as "savvy and successful businessmen." It is Obama who eagerly became Dimon's golfing buddy – an Obama who twice in his career took jobs with corporate law firms. It was Bill Clinton who has been flying the world in corporate jets for the past twelve years. It is the two of them who promoted Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles to press for the crippling of Social Security. That's plutocracy pervading the leadership ranks in both parties of what used to be the American republic.
Perhaps the most extraordinary achievement of the plutocracy's financial wing has been to convince the political class that its largely speculative activities are normal. Indeed, they are feted as being the economy's principal reason for growth. Their ruse follows that their own well-being is essential to the well-being of the national economy and, therefore, they deserve privileged treatment.
Subtlety, discretion and restraint are foreign to their buccaneering style with deep roots in the country's culture and history. Their behavior is often impulsive and grasping: greedy to display what they can get away with and that they are top dogs. They are playing with the nation's wealth to enrich themselves rather than manage an economy.
There is little interest in building anything that might endure – no 'new order,' no new party, no new institutions. Not even physical monuments to themselves. Why bother when the existing set-up works so well now to your advantage and your like-minded and like-interested associates who can turn ideas, money and policies in their direction with ease.
Meanwhile the public is blind to how they are being deluded and abused, thanks in large part to a supine news media. Little changes in a country whose civic ideology imbues the populace with the firm belief that its principles and institutions embody unique virtue. Challenging that is a threat to plutocrats and the media and the educational system they run or influence.
A Wall Street Police State
Wall Street, March 2012. (Michael Fleshman)
One of the most stunning examples of direct plutocratic involvement in the state was Wall Street's audacity in coopting a part of the NYC Police Department in setting up a semi-autonomous unit to monitor the financial district.
Funded by Goldman Sachs et al, managed in part by private bank employees in key administrative positions, and with an explicit mandate to prevent and deal with any activity that threatens them, it operates with the latest high tech equipment out of a dedicated facility provided by its sponsors. The facility for years was kept "under the counter" so as not to tempt inquisitive parties to expose it. This is the unit that coordinated squelching of the Occupy Movement's Manhattan demonstrations. It represents the appropriation of a public agency to serve and to serve under private interests.
The post-9/11 hyper-anxiety provided political and ideological cover for a deal devised by Mayor Mike Bloomberg (himself a Wall Street billionaire who went down the line to defend Wall Street against all charges of financial abuse) in collusion with his former associates. Is this simply Bloomberg exposing NYC's fiscal dependency on financial sector jobs?
This is the same Bloomberg who killed a widely supported initiative to set a minimum decent wage of $10 an hour with health insurance ($11.50 without) on development projects that receive more than $1 million in taxpayer subsidies. He stigmatized the measure as "a throwback to the era when government viewed the private sector as a cash cow to be milked . The last time we really had a big managed economy was the USSR and that didn't work out so well." That's as plutocratic as it gets – and in liberal New York.
No Conspiracy Necessary
Furthermore, the moving parts of plutocracy are not well organized. There is no conspiracy as such. It is the convergence of outlook and self-interests among disparate persons in different parts of the system that has accomplished a revolution in American public life, public discourse, and public philosophy.
Nobody had to indoctrinate Barack Obama in 2008-2009 or intimidate him or bribe him. He came to the plutocrats on his own volition with his mind-set and values already in conformity with the plutocracy's view of itself and of America. This is the man who, for the first two years of his presidency, repeatedly misstated the coverage of the Social Security Act of 1935 – ignorant and not bothering to find out, or willfully ignorant so as to create a convenient comparison with his fatally flawed health care pseudo-plan. This was the man, after all, who cited Ronald Reagan as a model for what sort of presidency America needed. He has been living proof of how effectively Americans had been brought into line with the plutocratic vision.
This is not to say that the plutocrats' success was inevitable – or that they were diabolically clever in manipulating everything and everyone to their advantage. There has been a strong element of good fortune in their victory. Their most notable piece of luck has been the ineptitude and shortsightedness of their potential opposition – liberal Democrats, intellectuals, professional asociations and their like. The plutocrats pursued their goals in a disorganized, diffuse way. However, the absence of an opponent on the contested terrain ensured success.
As for cleverness, the American plutocracy is actually a stupid plutocracy. First, it overreaches. Far better to leave a few goodies on the table for the 99 percent and even a few crumbs for the 47 percent than to risk generating resentment and retaliation.
Since the financial meltdown, financial and business interests have been unable to resist picking the pockets of the weak. Fishing out the small change in the wake of grand larceny is rubbing salt into wounds. Why fight a small rise in the minimum wage? Why ruthlessly exploit all those temps and part-timers who have so little in the way of economic or political power anyway? Why squeeze every last buck from the small depositors and credit card holders whom you already systematically fleece? In the broad perspective, that sort of behavior is stupid.
To explain it, we must look to the obsession with status of America's audacious corporate freebooters. These peculiar traits grow more intense the higher one goes in the hierarchy of riches. One is the impulse to show to everybody your superiority by displaying what you can get away with. "Sharp dealing" always has been prized by segments of American society. It's the striving, insecure man who has to prove to the world – and to himself – that he can act with impunity. He is little different from the hoodlum showing off to his pals and to his moll.
Blankfein with a friend. (John Moore/Getty Images)
These people at heart are hustlers – they crave the thrill of pulling off a scam, not constructing something. Hence, Lloyd Blankfein not showing up for White House meetings yet having Obama thank him for letting the president know, albeit after the meeting already had begun, that Blankfein can't make it. Hence, Jaime Dimon indignantly protesting his verbal mistreatment by the press, by the White House, by whomever.
Then there is Jack Welch, the titan of American industry who struts sitting down, holding the Guinness record for the most manufacturing jobs outsourced by one company – and yet impudently calling Obama "anti-business" after the president appoints his hand-picked successor, Jeffrey Immelt, to head the White House's Job Council. Or Bank of America's faking compliance with the sweetheart deal it got from Obama on the felonious foreclosure scam.
The ultimate episode of egregious lawlessness is the MF Holdings affair – whereby under its chief, former Senator and Governor Jon Corzine, this hedge fund took the illegal action of looting a few billion from custodial accounts to cover losses incurred in its proprietary trading. JP Morgan, which held MF Global funds in several accounts and also processed the firm's securities trades, resisted transferring the funds to MF's customers until forced to by legal action. Punitive action: none. Why? The Justice Department and regulatory bodies came up with the lame excuse that the MF group's decision-making was so opaque that they could not determine whose finger clicked the mouse. Shades of SNL. To pull capers like these and get off scot free without chastisement is the ultimate ego trip.
Where the Money Is
Willie Sutton, the notorious bank robber of the 1940s, explained his targeting banks this way: "That's where the money is." Today's financial swindlers go after high risk gambles because that's where the biggest kicks are. That is more important than the biggest bucks – although they add to the thrill. The constant status striver and insecure financial baron is a compulsive gambler. He needs his fixes: of winning, of celebrity, of respect, or deference as transitory as all may be.
American culture provides few insignia of rank. No 'Sirs,' no seats in the House of Lords, no rites of passage that separate the heralded elite from all the rest of us. Since oblivion shadows the most famous and acclaimed, they often grasp for whatever is within reach – however ludicrous that might be. When IR Magazine awarded JPMorgan the prize for "best crisis management" of 2012 for its handling of the London Whale trading debacle, at a black-tie awards ceremony in Manhattan , Morgan executives were there to express their appreciation, rather than hide in shame. The only Wall Street personage who has played the celebrity game without being marginalized in the public mind is Robert Rubin. Through nimbleness and political connection he has semi-institutionalized his celebrity status. Yes, there is former Fed chairman Paul Volcker. But his stature is built on an unmatched record of service to the commonweal and unchallenged integrity. The Blankfeins and Dimons and Welchs and Rubins not only lack the critical attributes – they also appear to scorn the public, rathe than serve it, which even private financial institutions should do, while still making a decent profit.
The plutocrats' compulsive denigration of the poor and the dispossessed is perhaps the most telling evidence of status obsession linked to insecurity borne of their often ill-gotten gains. That is at the core of their social personality. They seem to find it necessary to stigmatize the everyone not in their class as losers. Those at the lower end are condemned as as moral degenerates – drug addicts, lazy parasites – rather than victims of their financial system. This attitude is in part to highlight their superiority and in part to blur the human consequences of their rapacity. Behavior of this kind is the antithesis of a cultivated image of the statesman of commerce – even though they are paying a price in public esteem despite the media's attempts to maintain their elevated status.
American plutocrats have a deep craving to believe in their own virtue – and to have others recognize it, despite the facts. Their perverse pride in beating the system does not tarnish how they regard their behavior. Blankfein said: "I have been doing the Lord's work."
Dimon swaggers through the Council on Foreign Relations or Brookings with the huddled masses in his audience beaming their adulation as they bask in his fame and thirst for his wisdom on the great affairs of the world. Would he give his views on whether the BRICS can rig the LIBOR rate with the connivance of the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve – or ignore regulatory reporting rules when they threaten to reveal a madcap scheme that loses $6 billion?
The Widespread Effect
Plutocracy in the current American style is having pernicious effects that go beyond the dominant influence of the rich on the nation's economy and government. It is setting precedents and modeling the unaccountability and irresponsibility that is pervading executive power throughout the society. Three successive presidential administrations and two decades of rogue behavior by corporate elites have set norms now evident in institutions as diverse as universities and think tanks, the military and professional associations – even private clubs. The cumulative result is a widespread degrading of standards in the uses and abuses of power.
Plutocracy raises social tensions. Logically, the main line of tension should be between the plutocrats and the rest of us – or, at least, between the plutocrats and all those with modest means. But that is not the case in the United States. While it is true that there were bitter words about Wall Street moguls and their bailouts during the first year or so after the financial collapse, it never became a main line of political division.
Today, outrage has abated and politics is all about austerity and debts rather than the distribution of wealth, and the power that goes with it.The deep-seated sense of anxiety and grievance that pervades the populace manifests itself in outbreaks of hostile competition among groups who are in fact all victims themselves of the plutocrats' grabbing most of the country's wealth – leaving the rest of us to fight over scraps. So it's private sector employees pitted against government employees because the latter have (some) health insurance, some pension and some security relative to the former who have been shorn of all three. It's parents worried about their kids' education against teachers. Both against cash-strapped local authorities. Municipalities vs states. It's the small businessman against unions and health insurance requirements. It's doctors against patients against administrators. It's university administrators against faculty and against students, and faculty against students competing for much-reduced appropriations. It's all of those against boards of regents and state governors.
Nearly e veryone is frustrated by the ever-sharpening contrast between hopes and aspirations and darkening realities of what they might expect for themselves and their children. Meanwhile, the folks at the top wait confidently and expectantly above the fray that they have engineered – ever ready to swoop down to strip what remains by way of privatized public assets, no-bid contracts, tax and regulatory havens, commercially owned toll roads, student loan monopolies, rapacious buying of foreclosed properties with federal incentives, and myriad tax breaks.
President Obama used his State of the Union Address of 2017 to send the message loud and clear. "Let me put colleges and universities on notice" he warned, "If you can't stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down." He thereby set forth a line of reasoning that put him on the same wavelength as Rick Perry because the reality is the exact opposite. It is because public funding has gone down by 2/3 over the past few decades that colleges and universities are obliged to raise tuition – despite flat-lining faculty and staff salaries. This is the essence of intellectual conditioning to the plutocracy's self-serving dogma and the suborning of public authorities by the plutocracy. Beyond capture, it is assimilation.
Does this sort of perverse pride go before the fall? No sign of that happening yet. Plutocracy in America is more likely to be our destiny. The growing dynastic factor operating within the financial plutocracy militates in that direction. Wealth itself has always been transferred from one generation to another, of course; reduced inheritance taxes along with lower rates at upper income brackets generally accentuate that tendency. With socio-economic mobility in American society slipping, it gains further momentum.
Something approaching a caste identity is forming among the financial elites – as personified by Dimon who is the third generation of Wall Street stockbrokers and financial managers in his family. His father was an executive director at American Express where the young Dimon joined forces with Sandy Weill. As a revealing coda to this generational tale, Dimon, last year, hired his 81-year old father to work for JP Morgan Chase. His father's first-year salary was $447,000; slated to rise to $1.6 million – now that the apprentice has some work experience under his belt, presumably. A sense of limits is not part of the financial plutocracy's persona.
Michael Brenner is a professor of international affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. email@example.com
gratefulreader , September 7, 2018 at 12:37 pm
Beyond the long-established institutional and assimilating powers that damp down potential for a meaningful rebellion, think about acceleration of tech-powered and centrally-owned (and controlled) requirements of existence: the electronification of currency and and information (consolidated into the hands of a few) literally affect our use of and access to everything. Then consider monopolistic laws (IP, patents, resource rights, etc.) that make even doing things for oneself illegal (think patented seeds), coupled with panopticon surveilance + panopticon enforcement (drones). It's like feeling safe while swimming above a sink hole -- you might think you're OK, but don't stop paddling.
Deniz , September 7, 2018 at 11:52 am
While there is much to this that I agree with, I dont agree with the author's understanding of the US Tax System.
We have the most sophisticated and complex tax code in the world. It is designed that way to make US companies globally competitive while still collecting a competitive percent of taxes. By and large, it does a pretty good job. The author talks about transfer pricing and tax havens, in fact, Trump's tax effectively shut down the use of tax havens by imposing a minimum tax on all profits retained offshore. In other words, it no longer makes sense to create an offshore intellectual property holding company. Companies should just keep their profits in the US and pay the minimum or reduced tax.
I see 3 major issues in the tax system:
1 > The repeal of the Estate Tax. The Estate tax was designed to ensure that we would not have political dynasties like the Bushs, Clintons, Koch brothers running our country. We absolutely need to bring this tax back. The tax loopholes are also rife in the estate tax system, this is where reforms need to take place.
2 > Enforcement – Republican control of Congress has gutted the IRS. The IRS no longer has the personnel necessary to unwind sophisticated tax structures and properly service US taxpayers in an ever more complex system. They also don't have the power to go after our plutocrats, who will show up with dozens of attorneys and accountants and have the capacity to fight the IRS for a very long time. Once money hits a rich man's pocket, you are not gong to ever see it again as it is much easier to target a defenseless middle-class taxpayer with limited legal resources. The problem then is not that Trump reduced the corporate tax rate, there is no need for double taxation, all taxes should be collected at the individual level at progressive rates. The issue is that if you dont collect taxes at the corporate level, you are never going to get from our plutocrats.
3> Foreigners – Outside of Europe and Canada, taxes are in the land of the wild west. There are many rich Asians here who seldom pay taxes as their native institutions aren't sophisticated enough to control tax cheats. As a consequence, dodging taxes is generally seen as much more of a game that is played rather than a real criminal activity. The IRS takes this problem very seriously, but it is a very difficult issue to resolve.
The US is financing its wars by printing money, which is extremely inflationary. The problem of our corrupt financial system lies squarely with the bankers. "The corrupt tax system", is mostly a plutocrat's talking point.
James Cool , September 8, 2018 at 1:50 am
Your essay is well written however, the estate tax is a double dip by the government which impacts family farms and businesses immensely requiring families to break up and sell off their businesses to pay the taxes. I agree that the rich have it best because they generally are beyond most taxes by off-shore accounts and family trusts and such and buy gifting it early. I would generally eliminate it entirely because the rich escape most of its' impacts and it stifles the upper middle class and by not producing much in taxes, comparatively. To put a finer point on the author's article, I would think the title is off of the mark by equating wealth with absolute political power, dynastically. In the recent election, neither the Clinton nor the Bush dynasty got elected and others historically really haven't been all that favored if wealth is the real, rule. The Roosevelts( Teddy was not closely related), the Rockefellers and Kennedys are the only other dynasties that come to mind and they didn't have that much longterm influence, politically, but were fabulously wealthy in comparison to our more modern dynasties; the Bushes and Clintons, both of whom, gained their wealth through international corruption for decades not domestically. So we have had 1 Roosevelt president, 1 Kennedy president, and no Rockefeller presidents and 1 Clinton president and 2 Bush presidents which in total don't add up to much in many ways compared to all the rest. I realize that power is both covert and overt but wealth also can make one lazy and incompetent which seems a better predictor of outcomes than the author's dynastic interpretation of our Democratic Republic. Throw in a few Congress people and it still doesn't indicate overwhelming power over our populace except locally. MAGA.
Faith , September 7, 2018 at 11:24 am
CALPERS is the California Public Employees Retirement Fund. CalSTRs is the teachers fund.
Realist , September 7, 2018 at 1:40 am
The plutocrats think that it is their world and they just allow the rest of us to live in it. Once they decide they can't afford the expense of excess humanity, I think I'll start cheering for the machines to take over.
jacobo , September 7, 2018 at 1:25 am
as usual, Michael Brenner nails it. What'll it take to bring down the plutocracy? Same as before, solidarity of the 99% in pursuit of that just and peaceful world.
Godfree Roberts , September 7, 2018 at 12:45 am
This looks bad in 2018 but imagine how it will look in 2021, when every Chinese will have a home, a job, plenty of food, education, safe streets, health and old age care.
On that day there will be more poor, hungry and imprisoned people in America than in China.
Not relatively or per capita. In absolute numbers.
KiwiAntz , September 7, 2018 at 12:11 am
A Plutocracy; a Kleptocracy or a Corptocracy, just name your poison to describe the US of A? But it certainly isn't a Democracy, that's just a sick joke for the masses to believe in? Run like a Medieval Fiefdom with its citizens as compliant serfs to be treated like crap, living on lousy wages, third world healthcare & crumbling infrastructure & feed on propagandist BS! It's a throwback to the Dark Ages? All the anger over Trump is because the World is finally getting to see the real America now that Trump has torn off the mask of this tired Empire, lashing about in its death throes? America is like the Picture of Dorian Grey with the false appearance of a moral, beautiful, benevolent Country but the real picture or portrait, is that it's a rotting, immoral, lawless & cancerous mess of a Nation! And with Trump in charge, the acceleration of America's decline is now on steroids? And never has that decline been so evident with it's Trade sanctions, weaponisation of the US dollar & other nefarious acts as a last gasp attempt to hold on to its dying, hegemonic Empire! The Worlds heading towards a multipolar future & freeing itself from the shackles of this Superpower Tyrant ? Buckle up for a wild ride but for America the biblical verses which state that "the writings on the wall" & "the end is nigh" could be the anthem for the American Empire & it's Plutocracy with it's future demise, already in motion!
Randy , September 6, 2018 at 11:22 pm
FDR was for the many only because he was preparing to meat-grinder them in the interest of the few. Really, no Supreme Court judgement has been legal since the sob FDR packed the courts. They call that group the Greatest Generation yet they choked when they should have rebelled.
robert e williamson jr , September 6, 2018 at 8:55 pm
On the plutocracy, obtaining authority ( governing power) and wealth. Suffice to say that "American style capitalism", the neo-liberal economic theory in practice, concentrates wealth in the hands of the fewest. Lust for wealth or "GREED" drives this concentration. This lust for more power in order to concentrate even more wealth by designing government law and guiding ( lobbying ) the elected representatives such to allow and facilitate the concentration of this authority even further. Rule by the super wealthy corporate elitist.(sw(c)ets) This is an illness, a cancer compromising the rule of law to impotency and there by rule by authoritarian government. The result of this is the super wealthy elitists (swets) find them selves the targets of the masses they try to control. The final result of this plutocracy is the SWETS find themselves the targets of the masses they yearn to control. And the birth of a government that will suppress the masses by force or any means necessary o protect the SWETS and THEIR form of government. This should come as no surprise.
So the rub comes when the powerful elitists suppress the masses by force. Submit to our will or die. Born of the necessity of self. preservation of the 1 %. Reminds me of Ohio 1783-1795.
Louis Sartor , September 6, 2018 at 8:26 pm
Should we not just address the 1% as our Lords? Why pretend otherwise? This will be fun once .
Realist , September 6, 2018 at 7:03 pm
"President Obama used his State of the Union Address of 2017 to send the message loud and clear."
Obama did not give a State of the union address in 2017.
Michael Brenner , September 7, 2018 at 7:01 pm
Correct, of course. It was 2016.
Jerry Alatalo , September 6, 2018 at 6:35 pm
Thank you, Michael Brenner.
Crosley Bendix , September 6, 2018 at 5:45 pm
Paul Volcker deliberately smashed US unions by strangling the economy.
robert e williamson jr , September 6, 2018 at 5:03 pm
It's a manifest destiny thing study the US history esp 1783-1795 by reading THE THEFT OF OHIO, WALKER 2016. Especially pages 641-665. The white true believers never had any other way of looking at it.
Pallas Ferrante , September 6, 2018 at 3:36 pm
This is a superb article that sums of the bleak landscape of money-domination and the catastrophic destruction of anything approaching a democracy: wealth, or ploutos, has been crushing the people (demos). The terrifying issue is that the crushing is proceeding and will proceed exponentially. The wealthy will grow much wealthier and the poor ever more poor in this expanding financial human-made universe of greed, accumulation, corruption and deceit.
ranney , September 6, 2018 at 6:15 pm
I agree with every word you wrote Pallas, this article is full of informative nuggets, and lots of truth and wisdom. But it is too long!
I would dearly love to forward this to several important people who I think would benefit from Brenner's expertise, but these people are not retired; they are busy at their work and or studies and don't have time to spend three fourths of an hour reading something this long( even speed reading something this long takes time).
Too often I am frustrated by long, yet informative articles that I'd like to share yet know it is pointless. It's as though the writer has all this information and feels that he/she must impart ALL of it at once. I do wish Joe Lauria, who is now in charge would keep in mind that, although many of the commenters here at Consortium seem to have limitless time to partake of the articles and write commentary, there are many others who don't and although we admire Consortium we don't have many days where we have the leisure to read everything. Plus Consortium is not the only thing we read, so it is competing for our attention. If the articles are too long, some of us who have to prioritize our time, may choose to not participate by reading what is offered.
I love Consortium and always enjoy readers comments when I have time; but I wish Joe would keep in mind that some of us have major time constraints. And I hope Consortium is not just for retired folks who have lots of time to read and comment.
Pallas Ferrante , September 7, 2018 at 12:09 am
yes, brevity is the soul of wit (wit derives from the old english 'wiggen' which means to know
but sometimes you have to lay everything out
I see your point, though, and I thank you for your kind words about my comment
robert e williamson jr , September 6, 2018 at 3:28 pm
Why you all seem to miss the point.
I'm not sure why anyone ever expected anything different. From 1783-1795 the white man stole Ohio from the native peoples using the ruse of "Manifest Destiny" and "True Believers"' have espoused this garbage ever since.
Let us never forget that while negotiations with the Indians for land for peace were ongoing on Oct 11, 1788 Congress adjourned and became defunct for two years there was no congress.
See Richard Gale Walker The Theft of Ohio 1783-1795, Turas pub. Copy Right 2016, p 253 note 105 and pages 648-655
especially p 649 last Paragraph "Although the his (Rev Daniel Breck) sermon could not be found, it was based on Exodus 19: 5-6, which made clear that the god of old eastern Mediterranean tribes, not the god of the eastern North American tribes, owned the land treasured the obedient "above all people":
"Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and an holy nation."
note 17 Dickinson, p 289. For a description of the service, see May, p 87, Mays Journal July 20, 1788.
The concept that this nation exists because someones god wanted it that way is simply because of the whites professed belief in mysticism as a way to justify their greed.
Is anyone interested in explaining to me why the great creator would placed the native Americans , North Americas indigenous peoples, as sole inhabitants of the north American continent? Only to then have the European whites come to the continent to enslave and murder the native inhabitants .
Or said another way do you actually believe that "only true believers could own land". The chosen ones. Who I might as bestowed this grand right upon themselves obviously since God hasn't said anything about it. This is pure lunacy.
I'm simply asking why when one enters an endeavor seeking only wealth that the ultimate result of their efforts is to continue pursuing efforts of greed.
Or said another way, since the ground work for this country was based on a lie why would we expect to not end up living the resulting lie? For the sake of clarity this country did not become a plutocracy it always has been one.
If you are offended turn me into the White House the lunatic there is looking for witches to burn right now.
Note: the author of this book allows that up to fifty pages may be reproduced for the purposes of edification of the public.
Look to amazon to find the book.
Deschutes , September 6, 2018 at 3:12 pm
Imagine that: a plutocracy runs the USA! Scandalous! Never thunk it. In other news
Mark Thomason , September 6, 2018 at 1:40 pm
Many of our richest do little or none of their own work. They live on their wealth. They have people to do the work. They pay them, and often not very well.
That is our politics today.
Jessika , September 6, 2018 at 12:36 pm
Capitalism sells people on the idea that "you, too, can become a millionaire" and it's a free market, which it isn't and not everyone could get rich. It's a giant Ponzi scheme and just cannot go on forever. Even if some corporations bring back jobs, not enough will, because the basic premise is profit, not preservation of resources. I maintain that we need nothing short of a change in our whole outlook toward our planet, a change in consciousness, and who's doing that but a few? They're certainly not at the top. Jacob Rothschild, head of the banking family that stays out of news, just two weeks ago came out publicly stating that "the 'new world economic order' is not working". Now why did he say that? He's a bit worried? The banks might fail! And, Back, the move toward 'uniworld' could not have been carried out years ago, as we see the evolution of the Common Market to the EU, the attempts for the North American Union, all these steps have been hitting roadblocks of various sorts.
backwardsevolution , September 6, 2018 at 6:50 pm
Jessika – interesting about Rothchild's comment. Soros is quite worried too and made similar comments recently. If they're worried, then that's a good thing because that means that their plans for a one-world government and common currency are in trouble.
Banks don't like having a bunch of different currencies and sovereign countries because that enables countries to devalue when they get in trouble (as Italy and Greece would have done in the last crisis, if not for the E.U.), and the banks end up getting back less than they lent. A bunch of unelected bureaucrats in Brussels now get to dictate what happens in the E.U. Perfection, in their eyes, because the E.U. makes sure the banks get their money back in full, even when they lend to high-risk countries that they shouldn't have lent to.
Jessika, in 2008, had they wanted to, they could have let things fall to pieces. I mean, down on the ground ugly. They could have introduced a common currency right then and there, shrugged their shoulders and said that it had to be done, just as they did when they got rid of the gold standard. It doesn't have to make sense. They just do as they please, and we all swallow it. QE was pulled off over and over again and is still being pulled off. Who protested? No one.
Trade treaties are falling apart and being rewritten, and Trump has a lot to do with this. I can't imagine the "one-world" proponents liking him much for that, but at least sovereignty will be maintained this way.
If we worry about this planet, as I know you and I both do, then things should be manufactured close to home, not shipped halfway around the world. We are *aping this planet, and we are going to pay the price for it. I do not want to see China's One Belt Road because that is going to bring about our demise that much quicker. They build a new highway for goods so that more consumers can be manufactured, and for what? We cannot afford to continue living as WE do, never mind the rest of the world coming on line and living like us. It's got to stop.
And China is not going to be any more benevolent than the current leaders are, probably less so. They just execute people who don't go along, and their elite are every bit as corrupt as our's are.
Good talking to you, Jessika. Interesting times ahead.
Dr. Ip , September 7, 2018 at 3:43 am
Fear is a driving force in capitalism as well as in organized crime [can capitalism be defined as organized crime?], and it is epitomised in the plot of Godfather III, where Michael Corleone tries to take his whole operation into the "legit" area because he knows, once he's in there, he and the future of his "business" is safe. Joining the oligarchs is what keeps you safe from the law because their methods of accumulating wealth have been the same as those in organized crime for centuries, intimidate and steal and make deals with other oligarchs to ensure that one stays among "friends." When possible, of course, stealing and eliminating a competitor is always allowed, as long as the war that is thus started is winnable. And the people who run Wall Street and the oligach families are criminals, whether "doing good for common people" or not. It's a jungle. But it's a jungle populated by human beasts, the most deadly mammals on the planet.
F. G. Sanford , September 6, 2018 at 11:44 am
There is no left/right, liberal/conservative, nationalist/globalist, socialist/capitalist or any other set of labels that apply. It's just the rich against the rest of us, and all these labels are a smokescreen to divide and conquer. Employment under the current administration is 0.02% LESS than when Obama left office. The stock market goes up, but productivity is stagnant, and off-shoring continues. I recommend listening to economist Richard Wolff for a real picture of the economy. It is going to crash. The question is when.
The latest scam being floated is the idea that Naziism was a "socialist" system. The so-called "Austrian School" of economics has taken the lead on this -- probably to deflect attention from their roots in Hjalmar Schacht's economic principles. The German economic miracle was based on prison labor, corporate control of the economy, capital controls and militarization. With a prison industrial complex, seven ongoing wars, a privatized FED, and a political system controlled by corporate money, what's the difference? Well, our politicians and pundits use the pejorative terms "socialism", "leftism", "progressivism" and "liberalism" to deflect attention from rampant theft that has gone through the roof. Does anybody remember when General Electric paid no taxes, but still got a refund when they filed? Who bailed out the banks? Who bailed out the auto industry? The rich own stocks and bonds, but pay no "property tax" on those possessions. All that "free stuff" is "socialism" for the rich. They're just like the Central Committee of the Communist Party -- living in the lap of luxury while the "deplorables" in the "workers paradise" enjoy the fruits of an imposed plutocratic system.
The tragedy is that those most exploited see this propaganda as salvation. In my family, there's a 105 year old great aunt who grew up in Italy under Mussolini. As working class people, their lives got slightly better, and she still worships the man she remembers. It takes very little to "buy off" the misinformed, the disenfranchised and the already exploited. They see a savior where the adequately educated see a demagogue. No wonder education is being gutted. If you're too dumb to know the difference, MAGA sounds like "a plan". Sorry, folks, but there is no plan. Look carefully, and you'll see that nothing of substance has changed in four administrations.
backwardsevolution , September 6, 2018 at 12:24 pm
"All that 'free stuff' is 'socialism' for the rich." Just like it's always been – corporate welfare. And socialism is great in their eyes whenever they need to be bailed out.
"Look carefully, and you'll see that nothing of substance has changed in four administrations."
Well, wanting peace with Russia is certainly a huge change, along with wanting to get rid of NATO. So is wanting to apply tariffs on the goods the U.S. multinationals are exporting from China. I'd call that "substance".
As far as being misinformed, uneducated, it really depends on what history books you read, doesn't it? So much of what we've been taught and are still being taught is nothing but propaganda. Alternative history is simply not allowed, outright banned in many cases. Too bad. It keeps us all in the dark.
ronnie mitchell , September 6, 2018 at 2:31 pm
I don't know where you get the idea that Trump is working towards peace with Russia, but as he is like a loose cannon sometimes he talks like that is his goal then in the next frame he is shoveling large amounts of lethal weapons to Ukraine where the military is formed (and doing drills) all along Russia's border.Maybe Putin should do that in Mexico or would it look like a threatening move to the US? O course it would.
Even the war monger Obama restricted 'lethal weaponry' sales to the Ukraine because it would incite hostile relations with Russia, even tho he was funding other attacks on Russia.
It should not be overlooked that the Obama's administration spent 5 BILLION dollars (as Under Sec. of State Victoria Nuland bragged) to bring about the coup and brought about the Nazi loving leaders that are there today.
There is also the other front on the war being waged right now against Russia, and that is in the form of 'sanctions' which are a military tactic, an economic siege, from the earliest days when an army would surround a castle or town and absolutely nothing could come or go from the there until it fell from within.
Right now under Trump more sanctions on Russia than even existed during the 'Cold War' era.That is not a matter of dispute.
Sanctions are an act of war,and they don't harm the Ruling Class, they harm the general public like when sanctions against Iraq under Bill Clinton brought about the estimated deaths of 500,000 CHILDREN to which his Sec.of State Madeline Albright when asked about it in an interview on 60 Minutes, said that "we feel it was worth it". Of course the interviewer never asked what that "it" was.
Trump is also once again threatening Russia in regards to Syria and the current situation in Idlib reads just like the one in Ghouta, first the US, UK, France and Canada (and others to a varying degree), first warnings are given about the possible use of chemical weapons by Syria, then the terrorist's ambulance and PR group The White Helmets' stage a false flag event and the bombs start falling on Syria.
Not to mention that in the last event the bombing started BEFORE the OPCW could arrive to investigate the allegations and they were on their way but had to stop when the bombing started, and not so mysteriously bombs also fall on the area they were coming to inspect.
As far as NATO goes life has never been better as they are being swamped with more military hardware than ever to use and they have increased their number of bases in Europe, and all across Africa btw.
It is growing and while that happens the number ONE promoter/funder of terrorism and radical versions of Islam all around the world, Saudi Arabia, is getting hundreds of billions of dollars in military hardware, which they are using in its genocidal campaign in Yemen as they do photo-ops with Donald Trump clasping their hands and smiling for the camera.
One last thing, there is no such thing as "alternative history", alternative versions of it is what I expect you meant to say and as far as the tariffs go it just means the average consumer will pay more for things imported from China (and that's a LOT of stuff) then China will respond in kind which will hurt industries here but above it all those corporations will continue their ways and counting the cash.
backwardsevolution , September 7, 2018 at 5:29 pm
ronnie mitchell – no, the average consumer will NOT pay more for things imported from China. The average consumer is tapped out, and the corporations know that they won't be able to pass along the tariff costs. Oh, they will try, and some might be successful, but most will not be. The corporations are going to have to eat the tariffs, which will cut into their insane profits, harming their stock prices. Gee, maybe they'll consider coming home now? This should have been done 30 to 40 years ago! You don't have a marriage (a country) when one party is using a concubine in some far-off land.
And China has been doing all they can to keep huge tariffs on U.S. goods trying to get into China. A nice one-way street for them whose time has come to an end. So China isn't going to buy U.S. soy? Who cares.
Cheap labor and no environmental controls made up for the shipping costs, plus some, but now with the tariffs, using China as a manufacturing base isn't looking so good anymore. What to do, what to do! If what Deniz (above) said is true, then jobs just might come home. Of course, automation is right around the corner.
"Trump's tax effectively shut down the use of tax havens by imposing a minimum tax on all profits retained offshore. In other words, it no longer makes sense to create an offshore intellectual property holding company. Companies should just keep their profits in the US and pay the minimum or reduced tax."
I read somewhere that 60% of what comes in from China are products manufactured in China for the U.S. multinationals. The rest is junk. The deal was they had to take on a Chinese partner (nice for those Chinese elites who did nothing and made billions) in order to manufacture in China. Trump is trying to entice these U.S. multinationals to assemble their products in the U.S.
backwardsevolution , September 7, 2018 at 5:39 pm
ronnie mitchell – yeah, and Trump went to visit Putin in Helsinki and he was labelled a "traitor" for it. He forewarned Syria both times that missiles were coming, giving them time to evacuate. Trump even mentioned "false flags", but was vilified for it. Trump knows it's all bullsh*t, but he has to go along, doesn't he? He's being forced to by the Democrats and almost all of the Republicans, all of whom are bought-and-paid-for. Ditto regarding the media.
Maybe the sanctions, in Trump's view, are better than letting the warmongers have their way – all-out war.
You and I don't really know what's going on behind the scenes. Well, maybe Bob Woodward knows – ha!
backwardsevolution , September 7, 2018 at 6:35 pm
"The most scary fact of our time is that the two men most committed to peaceful relations between the US and Russia -- Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin -- are the two most demonized people on Earth. The demonization of Trump and Putin is the principal activity of the US media and the Democratic Party."
Paul Craig Roberts
Joe Tedesky , September 6, 2018 at 12:48 pm
There are no good guys and gals. Our government has been overrun by parasites who care nothing of our national commons, as they stuff their pockets lined with their rewards for their hefty donor contributions. These are certainly the days to be Independent, as the 2 Parties are 2 wrongs that never get it right.
mike k , September 6, 2018 at 11:40 am
What I would like to see is for the US to renounce it's goal of world domination, and agree to help create a world at peace. What is the alternative? Increasing the madness until it destroys all of us. This latter seems the most probable outcome, since the insane power addicts continually pushing for more war, seem incapable of curing themselves of their fatal obsession.
Piotr Berman , September 6, 2018 at 11:37 am
Very good article, even for Consortium News that has high standards.
A somber (pessimistic note): plutocrats are as organized and as smart as they need to be to remain plutocrats (both rich and powerful). As a group, they have unquestioned dominance, so while small part of their "power-related" efforts still goes to snuffing out emerging political alternatives, they can focus on winning some points against each other. Same with intelligence and wisdom. There is a plutocratic consensus, some shades of it have homes in two major parties, and attempts to squash efforts to go outside that envelope are as organized and "smart" as necessary.
An optimistic note 1. The oversized role of fund raising in American politics is definitely cementing plutocratic control of politics, but it was shown several times that it is not so difficult to challenge that role. For example, with quite progressive political program and masterful rhetoric (effects, not my personal impression) Obama collected several hundred million dollars, recruited volunteers and won elections. By the way of contrast, un-inspiring political program, pedestrian rhetoric etc. did not carry Hillary Clinton to power in spite of money advantage.
An optimistic note 2. Old proven ways of squashing progressive ideas loose their efficacy. The prime example is the increase acceptance of "socialist" by American public. I recall certain D'Amato winning senatorial election in NY state under slogan "Mario Cuomo, too liberal for too long". Socialism was used to scare people away from improper ideas like government regulation of health insurance -- Marx, Engels, Lenin etc. would be very surprised by that usage. So most of the public knows the term from the invectives heaped on the people who defend Obama-care and those who propose single-payer system, and the public had to reason on their own that it can be better than the status quo.
That said, politicians with progressive impulses lack comprehensive vision that could be implemented and address various constituencies that are currently pitted against each other. Sanders was not that bad in my opinion, but comprehensive he was not. What do we do about MIC and imperialism? Money and energies consumed by them could be turned into badly needed resources. What would be a humane and rational way of protecting jobs so workers do not have to compete against their "colleagues" from Vietnam, India or recent poor and illegal immigrants. What to do about guns to satisfy hunters and urbanites (here I liked Sanders).
One could add more questions, and propose answers that I could propose, but not in a comment. My modest point is that without a comprehensive program, politicians with whatever type of "impulses" (Trump comes to mind) end up recruiting people from former Administration, think tanks etc. and enter the Swamp.
Jessika , September 6, 2018 at 9:32 am
It's the USG where G stands for "gangsters". I also disagree that there is no conspiracy. Every day there are conspiracies being plotted. The Federal Reserve is not a bank of the USG, I think most who read CN know that.
Trump boasting about the strong economy with the tariff/trade wars is more plutocrat hot air and will actually hurt the middle class -- sorry, Back, I know you hope MAGA will succeed, but I don't, because I believe he got talked into a Mnuchin/Goldman Sachs and Wilbur Ross idea of making the stock market go up and aiding corporate profits, but regular folks don't have the money in the first place to buy much more than basics. Many alternative economists think we are heading for a grand collapse, and I think so, too. Which then would aid the central bank idea of a common currency for everyone, digital probably, and then we're really controlled.
The world economic powers have already run into trouble with European countries pushback on migrants caused by the US/Israel/KSA led wars, but when we see another collapse perhaps worse than 2008 in the US, the entire world will have even more chaos adjusting than we already see with Trumponomics. It seems we have, ever since the Clinton/Robert Rubin era, been taken over by Goldman Sachs. My joke is that "the Gold Man sacks US", always thought that was an interesting metaphor for our exploitation.
backwardsevolution , September 6, 2018 at 11:49 am
Jessika – of course the stock market is going up. It's been going up since the spring of 2009 when the Fed took the interest rates down to zilch, and when the banks were bailed out. The corporations have been using their profits to buy back their own stock, a practice that used to be illegal prior to the 80's (and should be illegal again).
I don't understand how the tariff/trade wars are going to hurt the middle class. It should work to force corporations to bring jobs back (which will benefit the middle class). If they don't, then they pay tariffs. No, the corporations will not be able to pass these costs along because, I agree, the average consumer is tapped out and can't afford to pay more. They already know they can't raise prices. Instead, the tariffs will eat into corporate profits, which have been insane. They just don't want to have to give up some of their profits.
It's their choice: either they keep manufacturing overseas and pay the tariffs (money which would go a long way to rebuilding infrastructure, as an example) or they bring jobs back. Trump has taken the corporate tax rate down nice and low for them, trying to entice them to come back home, but they like it the way it currently is, with money in tax havens, cheap overseas labor, and ridiculous profits. The Chinese and U.S. elites have been making out like bandits.
"Many alternative economists think we are heading for a grand collapse." We already had a grand collapse in 2001, which was bailed out, and then we had another grand collapse in 2008, which Obama bailed out and left the mess for the next sucker who came along (Trump). At any moment the Fed could bring the whole thing down. It's within their power to do that since the whole thing is manipulated and engineered, anyway. There is actually a wizard behind the curtain.
Trump already knows it's not a strong economy, but he's trying to make it stronger. Yes, he talks it up and boasts because he realizes people don't consume when they are afraid and fearful. As he says, you don't really have a country if you don't have a strong manufacturing base and a modern infrastructure.
But I could be wrong, Jessika. Trump might be in on the game (an insider, not an outsider) and the elite and media going after him 24/7 might just be part of the show. Russiagate might be part of the show too, along with Manafort going to jail. If true, then they really have gone to great lengths to fool us, haven't they? But I just don't see this.
The only thing is: if they wanted a world currency, why wouldn't they have done it back in 2008? They could have (and should have) let the bubble deflate fully back then, but they didn't. All central banks (even China) rushed in and bailed their systems out, and some, who actually were insolvent, have been saved by these actions: the banks. Was it all part of the show? Is that why no bankers went to jail? We won't know the answer to that question until we get there, but you can bet that some people already know the answer.
Did they let Trump win in order to blame him for an upcoming collapse, resulting in a one-world currency, or is he part of the scheme to bring it down? So many questions.
Piotr Berman , September 6, 2018 at 12:09 pm
It is not a conspiracy if it works overtly. Strategic and business plans are plotted, perhaps, but what we see is 99% or what we get.
Herman , September 6, 2018 at 9:28 am
Would be helpful if such learned men would be less descriptive and more prescriptive.
The line from the old song, "The rich get rich and the poor get poorer" seems to sum it up. And then there is the other line in the same song: "In the mean time, in between time, ain't we got fun."
You wonder if one of those plutocrats commissioned the song.
Another is the line in The Bridge Over the River Kwai: "Be happy in your work."
Time to go back and look at what Stiglitz has to say. Smart and his heart is in the right place, with ordinary folks.
Unfettered Fire , September 6, 2018 at 8:49 am
Powerful article. The free-floating, fiat currency system has been grossly exploited by the 1% since 1971. Private bank money creation has been obscenely abused as well. David Stockman, one of the architects of trickle down economics, proudly boasted on 60 Minutes in 2011 that the top 5% net worth went from $8 trillion in 1985 to $40 trillion in 2011. Today, it's closer to $100 trillion. Neoliberalism continues to teach Orwellian "junk" economics in mainstream university classrooms:
"Economics students are forced to spend so much time with this complex calculus so that they can go to work on Wall St. that there's no room in the course curriculum for the history of economic thought.
So all they know about Adam Smith is what they hear on CNN news or other mass media that are a travesty of what these people really said and if you don't read the history of economic thought, you'd think there's only one way of looking at the world and that's the way the mass media promote things and it's a propagandistic, Orwellian way.
The whole economic vocabulary is to cover up what's really happening and to make people think that the economy is getting richer while the reality is they're getting poorer and only the top is getting richer and they can only get rich as long as the middle class and the working class don't realize the scam that's being pulled off on them." ~ Michael Hudson
Why concern yourself with history when the endless feudal loop has been installed? Brazil's austerity policies inadvertently caused the burning down of a museum, the history of civilization, due to the lack of a sprinklers system, one of many safety regulations burned up in the global privatization fire.
in addition, both Colin Kaepernick and our military men and women are endorsing and supporting a plutocracy that exploits child labor and indiscriminately bombs civilians. Neither are representing justice.
"We must never again let any force dedicated to a super race or a super idea or super anything become strong enough to impose itself upon a free world. We must be smart enough and tough enough in the beginning to put out the fire before it starts spreading. As the years go by, a lot of people are going to forget, but you won't. And don't ever let anybody tell you you were a sucker for fighting against fascism." ~ scene from Battleground
O Society , September 6, 2018 at 8:47 am
Well done, Michael Brenner!
A key to understanding all of this is it gets worse no matter who is in office. Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton it makes no difference. The trajectory is downward.The slope is negative. It's Robin Hood in reverse, whether we call it trickle-down, supply side, neoliberalism the song remains the same. All of us regular people get poorer while a handful of rich people get richer.
How do we fix this? It's going to take radical change. Here are three recent articles with suggestions about this:
What is Social Democracy/ Democratic Socialism?
Socialists, Democrats, and the Liberal Imagination
What is Oligarchy? Government, Gone to the Dogs
backwardsevolution , September 6, 2018 at 7:22 am
The big banks have all the power now because they're pretty much the only game in town. Blow bubbles – boom – bust. All the well-paying manufacturing jobs were shipped overseas, leaving labor, unions and wages gutted. Millions of uneducated and vulnerable illegals serve to keep wages down for the few remaining jobs. Ralph Nader believes this gutting began in the 70's and has escalated since then.
When you're the only game in town, you get to dictate the rules. The whole country is one great big financial Ponzi scheme.
I agree with F. G. Sanford – there was and is collusion between the players. The central banks act in concert, as does the media and politicians.
I would not listen to one word out of Paul Krugman's mouth. The guy is part of the Group of 30 and very much aligned with the plutocrats.
I agree with dick Spencer – boycott the Plutocrats! Get your money out of the big banks, stop buying from Amazon, use cash, stop reading the New York Times, the Washington Post, stop watching MSM. Boycott every large multinational.
Overall, this was an excellent article. Thank you.
playmobil , September 6, 2018 at 7:15 am
backwardsevolution , September 6, 2018 at 6:22 am
I've said several times on this site that this is a class war. The plutocrats are winning because they're deflecting the war away from themselves by using divide and conquer tactics: "Don't look at us, look at those deplorables! Don't look at us, look at those racists!" And they're laughing all the way to the bank as the Left and Right tear each other to shreds.
And there's another war going on between the globalists and the nationalists, and the plutocrats are fighting to the death.
One side wants open borders with cheap, free-flowing labor, no nation states, multinationals beholden to no one, tax havens, and supranational organizations with the power to override sovereign courts and laws. Kind of like an open marriage. Anybody know of an open marriage that was successful in the long run? Oh, and endless wars to ensure worldwide supremacy.
Conversely, the nationalists want fair trade, controlled borders, sovereignty, and a country that manufacturers their own products, where possible. A country that minds their own business, defends themselves, when necessary, and concentrates on their own citizens.
Damn near every Democrat and Republican is on the globalist side. They've all been bought off by big money, as has the media. Monopolies are growing, small business is dying.
Start looking "up". That's where your real enemy is – at the top of the pyramid. Don't let them take your eyes off the ball.
Realist , September 6, 2018 at 4:11 am
Our plutocracy is abetted by Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1976 and exacerbated by continuing dumb shit SC decisions First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission
Brad Owen , September 6, 2018 at 4:00 am
Privatization and deregulation, public private partnership, plutocracy; all just fancy words for racketeering. The racketeers and pirates have taken over, and our economy is just a bundle of rackets.
JOHN CHUCKMAN , September 6, 2018 at 3:55 am
And I'm not sure there can be any solution.
Not only affairs within the United States are affected by the forces at work but the world of American foreign policy and empire.
I've written on the matter a number of times, and I am just very doubtful there can a solution.
The entire political structure of the United States has been bent and re-shaped by and for plutocracy.
After all, you have Supreme Court decisions that say money is free speech and corporations are people, about as meaningful and principled as the Dred Scott decision.
And all the people with any power, who could potentially change anything, are on-board with the big money. All of them. They have no motive for change.
JOHN CHUCKMAN , September 6, 2018 at 4:03 am
The immense sense of power experienced by plutocrats leads to some very morally and ethically questionable activities.
Some of the stuff coming out of the Gates Foundation for example.
And, of course, we have Lord Acton's words about the effects of poweer, one of the most important observations ever made
Dmitry Babich , September 6, 2018 at 1:47 am
Just a great article! Congratulations to Consotriumnews on having professor Michael Brenner among its authors. I am a subscriber to the professor's newsletter and I see him as the best authority in the US on the subjects covered in this article: income inequality, the mainstream media lies, the destruction of democratic institutions. Professor Brenner's ideas apply to other countries, too/ But his edge on the US is the sharpest one.
Zim , September 6, 2018 at 12:20 am
Most excellent essay. Thanks
Stephen J. , September 5, 2018 at 11:06 pm
I believe, the plundering is all connected:
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
May 5, 2017
"The Open Criminality of the Establishment and its Political Puppets"
"There is nothing politically right that is morally wrong" Daniel O'Connell
The system has been pillaged and plundered by financial criminals and none have gone to jail. In the Libor "racket" some of them have paid large fines and continue to operate in the financial world. Other financial institutions have been involved in laundering drug money and financing terrorism but still no jail time ensues. Many banks have been bailed out with taxpayers' dollars, and many taxpayers have lost their homes and their jobs and have seen their pension funds and their savings go into the dumpster (no bailouts for them) because of the financial banditry by these monetary reprobates. Some of these monetary manipulators have been known to advise governments, and goofy governments take their advice and impose austerity on their own people .
"Therefore one has to ask: Has the Rule of Law Become the Rule of Outlaws?"
Meanwhile, there is no "austerity" in the "war business. Countries are invaded, millions are dead, millions are refugees and the financial industry reaps huge bloodstained profits. Corporate cannibals feed off death and destruction and taxpayers pay for all the carnage and soldiers pay with their lives, while others make a killing. (No pun intended)
[read more at link below]
Carlespie McKinney , September 5, 2018 at 10:42 pm
I have come to painfully accept the fact that this country has failed to live up to the values it claims to hold dear – values it claims to be ones that lights its path. I do not believe it is going to change. The United Sates is, indeed, a plutocracy. In fact, it has been so for most of its history but especially so in the last few years. This country is racing down a path from which it almost cannot veer. In short, democracy is a best a wishful dream and at worst, something this country will never see again.
CitizenOne , September 5, 2018 at 10:12 pm
I'll keep sending this quotable notes out like a lighthouse beacon that our ship of state is about to come crashing onto the shoals of despotism.
"The Money Powers":
"The fact is that there is a serious danger of this country becoming a pluto-democracy; that is, a sham republic with the real government in the hands of a small clique of enormously wealth men, who speak through their money, and whose influence, even today, radiates to every corner of the United States."
William McAdoo – President Wilson's national campaign vice-chairman, wrote in Crowded Years (1974)
"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war."
Abraham Lincoln – In a letter written to William Elkin less than five months before he was assassinated.
"The money power preys on the nation in times of peace, and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces, as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes."
"A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the Nation and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the world – no longer a Government of free opinion no longer a Government by conviction and vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of small groups of dominant men .
Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men's views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the U.S., in the field of commerce and manufacturing, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it."
Woodrow Wilson – In The New Freedom (1913)
"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them, will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."
"The system of banking [is] a blot left in all our Constitutions, which, if not covered, will end in their destruction I sincerely believe that banking institutions are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity is but swindling futurity on a large scale."
"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a monied aristocracy that has set the Government at defiance. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs."
To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress (The Nucllear Option enacted by Congress which dissolved the two thirds majority rule enabling the nomination of Supreme Court Justices based on a simple majority) is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition. The incorporation of a bank, and the powers assumed by this bill [chartering the first Bank of the United States], have not, been delegated to the United States by the Constitution. My own interpretation (in parentheses). Hence there is not a quotation for this one.
"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it."
Frederic Bastiat – (1801-1850) in Economic Sophisms
"The powers of financial capitalism had (a) far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."
Prof. Carroll Quigley in Tragedy and Hope
"In a small Swiss city sits an international organization so obscure and secretive .Control of the institution, the Bank for International Settlements, lies with some of the world's most powerful and least visible men: the heads of 32 central banks, officials able to shift billions of dollars and alter the course of economies at the stroke of a pen."
Keith Bradsher of the New York Times, August 5, 1995
"The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is eager to enter into close relationship with the Bank for International Settlements .The conclusion is impossible to escape that the State and Treasury Departments are willing to pool the banking system of Europe and America, setting up a world financial power independent of and above the Government of the United States .The United States under present conditions will be transformed from the most active of manufacturing nations into a consuming and importing nation with a balance of trade against it."
Rep. Louis McFadden – Chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Currency quoted in the New York Times (June 1930)
"Nothing did more to spur the boom in stocks than the decision made by the New York Federal Reserve bank, in the spring of 1927, to cut the rediscount rate. Benjamin Strong, Governor of the bank, was chief advocate of this unwise measure, which was taken largely at the behest of Montagu Norman of the Bank of England .At the time of the Banks action I warned of its consequences .I felt that sooner or later the market had to break."
Money baron Bernard Baruch in Baruch: The Public Years (1960)
"The Federal Reserve Bank is nothing but a banking fraud and an unlawful crime against civilization. Why? Because they "create" the money made out of nothing, and our Uncle Sap Government issues their "Federal Reserve Notes" and stamps our Government approval with NO obligation whatever from these Federal Reserve Banks, Individual Banks or National Banks, etc."
H.L. Birum, Sr., American Mercury, August 1957, p. 43
"[The] abandonment of the gold standard made it possible for the welfare statists to use the banking system as a means to an unlimited expansion of credit . In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value. If there were, the government would have to make its holdings illegal, as was done in the case of gold . The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves . [This] is the shabby secret of the welfare statist's tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the 'hidden' confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights."
Alan Greenspan in an article he wrote in 1966.
MillyBloom54 , September 5, 2018 at 9:51 pm
Gary Weglarz , September 5, 2018 at 9:50 pm
We live in a world in which the wealthiest 5 humans have as much wealth as the 3.8 poorest humans on the entire freaking planet. Five people vs 3.8 BILLION people. If one set out to create the most unfair, amoral, ecologically destructive, violent system humanly possible – I really don't think one could do better than our current model.
The habitability of the earth itself, clean air, clean water, a toxin free environment are literally considered unimportant "externalities" by the literally insane market "logic" of our current civilizational myth system. The toxins we are ingesting daily are leading to intergenerational epigenetic changes that are destroying the health of as yet unborn generations.
Our arrogance and narcissism regarding our home, the earth, is coming back to haunt us, and none of our absurd arguments claiming that – "externalities" (such as a livable planet) – don't really matter in our sacred equation of greed – is going to help us. Given the complete greed fueled blindness of the wealthy & powerful, one must assume that only utter the crash of global economy and of our ecosystems will bring this concrete zeppelin back to earth with a thud. God forbid we'd employ common sense in the meantime.
Anon , September 6, 2018 at 8:44 am
In the end, the Earth will win. And that day seems to be rapidly approaching.
Tom Kath , September 5, 2018 at 9:37 pm
The essential underlying "consensus" among plutocrats, and, as you rightly lament, "also amongst the victims", is a deep seated belief in "THE AMERICAN DREAM". You describe very well the almost universal joy and pride in the ability to take advantage of our fellow man! – The respectability of "giving yourself an unfair advantage", or in blunt terms, the respect for the successful SCAM ! – This will not be easy to remove or overthrow. – However ..
The most sophisticated and credible challenge to this distorted obsession with MONEY as the ultimate measure of VALUE, is the bitcoin phenomenon. The crucial component of it is the blockchain innovation. – In brief, I will simply describe it as a revolutionary new value system.
Meanwhile, I leave you with a few words that occurred to me regarding the current state of political power compared to MONEY-
Because they don't have opinions, and haven't any ideas,
They're selected, endorsed, and elected. That's how it has been now for years.
Manicured and well presented, they play out their role on the stage
Working hard to preserve the wellbeing of those few who just pay their wage.
Smooth and polished and handsome, with the face of a movie star,
They rehearse every word that's been scripted. That's what politicians now are.
Overseeing their wide dominions, to allay the public's worst fears
Can't afford to have any opinions, dare not have any ideas.
Sally Snyder , September 5, 2018 at 9:13 pm
Here is an article that looks at the big favour that the Trump Administration has granted to the American banking sector:
Washington failed to learn the lessons taught by the 2008 – 2009 recession and has set the economy up for another banking sector crisis that the Fed will be forced to resolve, an issue that will compromise its ability to "correct" the economy.
backwardsevolution , September 6, 2018 at 12:04 am
Sally – the Fed is responsible for the last three or four bubbles, and we all know what happens to bubbles – they pop. By holding interest rates down too low for far too long, the bubbles expanded. And, yes, they knew what they were doing.
Every single bubble has been engineered and manufactured deliberately and with intent. The big banks own the Fed.
Yahweh , September 5, 2018 at 9:12 pm
So the sitcom some live in is called plutocracy. You honestly don't have to be a member of the cast. Everyone has a choice to be free or a slave to this narrative.
Have you ever watched a scripted play or movie? One that was so compelling you felt like you were there and even after the movie was over there was an emotional hangover.
Now, think real hard about who writes the most realistic scripts for Hollywood. Mesmerizing. Do you know what that means ?
The life blood of any endeavor/ scripted play on earth is funded by the US Dollar. Maybe it's time to check your portfolio to see if you're an active actor in the play. Or keep your eyes on the magician and not their half naked assistant.
Charles A , September 5, 2018 at 8:06 pm
A vivid description of the plutocracy! It might be a little stronger if it had more comparison with the way that capitalists and the ruling elite acted in a pre-plutocratic era. The next question is why bourgeois democracy degenerated .
Jeff Harrison , September 5, 2018 at 7:43 pm
It is all very sad. The only way to upend this plutocracy is violent revolution. No one relinquishes power freely. Failing at that, like the malignant tumor that they are, they will destroy the host that contains them.
F. G. Sanford , September 5, 2018 at 7:29 pm
Actually, it is a conspiracy, and its perpetration and implementation have been carefully planned and executed. The architect of this conspiracy was economist James McGill Buchanan, and his patron saints are the Koch Brothers, the Ford Foundation, J.P. Morgan Chase and an enormous list of other financial elites, entities and think tanks. For the last sixty years, legislation has been quietly floated by American political puppets in order to permanently and irreversibly embed this dystopian system by convincing the masses that "big government" –in other words, "socialism"– works to steal from the "haves" in order to give "free stuff" to the "parasites". In truth, government has become a reverse Robin Hood enriching the already rich at the expense of the poor.
Buchanan believed that the measure of human worth was wealth, and poor people were poor because that's what they deserved. The "deplorables" have actually been conditioned to believe that, and they worship their oppressors. The media plays along to reenforce the delusion. Bill Maher sucking up to John Brennan, John Lewis sucking up to John McCain, John Oliver sucking up to Barack Obama, Rachel Maddow sucking up to Hillary Clinton, and of course, there's CNN, where Cristiane Amanpour (married to Robert Rubin) and Anderson Cooper (of Vanderbilt family fortune) gleefully suck up to any corporate enterprise.
The strategy behind dismantling Social Security is predicated on the impoverishment of the elderly, which precludes intergenerational accumulation of wealth. They don't have anything to pass to their children, which insures that durable assets accrue to the financial class over time.
As ugly as Buchanan's philosophy is, Americans keep proving him right. They keep voting against their own interests. In fact, they elect the very billionaires who insure that they remain "deplorable". Tragically, because the legislation is so difficult to reverse or overcome, the only way out is probably a "let them eat cake" moment. With militarization and the expanded surveillance of the burgeoning police state however, that is unlikely. Americans will keep right on believing that "social justice" is all about free market economy and private property. They keep convincing the billionaires that they deserve whatever they can get. Nope, no "free stuff" for us, dammit! We're Americans!
LarcoMarco , September 6, 2018 at 12:51 am
I suspect that Trumpsterfire's base of "deplorables" have been led to believe that most "free stuff" goes to Black or Brown people and that Real Americans decline offers of govt aid and oppose the legislation that enables it.
backwardsevolution , September 6, 2018 at 5:46 am
Larco Marco – the "deplorables" are angry about the jobs that have been offshored by the multinationals and angry that half of the country cares more about illegals than they do of their own countrymen. They're working two and three jobs and haven't had a real raise in close to 40 years, when you factor in inflation.
There are many black and brown "deplorables". They too hope for a country where things are made locally, like they should be (not produced and then shipped halfway around the world).
The bad thing about getting "free stuff" is it's never really ever free, is it?
Joe Tedesky , September 6, 2018 at 9:32 am
F.G. great comment as usual, to go with Professor Brenner's terrific essay.
Reading your comment, after reading this article, makes my mind travel to America's labor struggles of the early 20th Century. Will the protest, and riots, such as what happened at the Chicago Republic Steel strike in the 30's come back to haunt the American landscape of discourse? Could we expect that at some point a generational struggle for higher wages, and job securities, will become vogue? Will my grandchildren return to petition for the values their great grandparents fought so hard for? May we expect a FDR to rise out of the ashes of destructing greed, and plutocratic abuse? Will the pendulum swing viciously back towards the laborers?
Questions on top of questions. Joe
mike k , September 5, 2018 at 7:07 pm
Belaboring the obvious. Of course the rich control our society. If you can't see that, you are deeply brainwashed. If you see the obvious truth, the question is – what can we do about it? Whatever that is – let's do it!
dick Spencer , September 5, 2018 at 8:03 pm
BOYCOTT–the Plutocracy -- -Now–
Joseph , September 5, 2018 at 6:16 pm
In every government since the dawn of time, there have been people who have more impact on that government and there have been people who have less. In Ancient Athens, every citizen had an equal vote, but the people who came to assembly every day made the laws, and the folks who stayed home had to live with the consequences. In the middle ages, it was primarily the noblemen who made the laws, Serfs got no say and the merchant/middle class were scarcely better.
John Adams predicted that when Americans threw off nobility, it would soon be replaced by a sneakier kind of noble – one that held no title, no royal pedigree, but would still be able to tell his employees or tenants who to vote for. He believed that there would always be those people who wheel and deal considerably more power than the common man. He was right.
Generally the way that big business get bigger is by crushing their smaller competitors, and they use the government for this. The spotted owl story was pushed by big logging companies who owned the land. The story resulted in government no longer leasing land to small logging companies – the competitors of the big logging companies. When the supreme court gave the states the right to collect sales taxes from online companies in other states, the extra headache of learning 50 different tax codes put a lot of small online sellers out of business. Not so for Amazon. A federal tax code that is 74608 pages long benefits large businesses who can hire lawyers and accountants, but is a hindrance to small business. Every license, registration, fee, regulation, and nearly every law hurts small business and helps large business. Government isn't the solution to big business, it's the cause. Everything the government touches tends give off the foul odor of corruption and inefficiency afterwards.
When the red communists lined all the property owners against the wall and shot them, they still ended up with a system of government where a small portion of the population exerted significantly more political sway than the others. There is no permanent solution to this because it's a fact of human nature that some people will be more involved in politics and some will be less. I will say that I think that the Americans of 1776 were much better informed and more active in political debate, thought, and theory than anything we've seen in my generation.
backwardsevolution , September 6, 2018 at 5:42 pm
Joseph – what a great comment! I totally agree with what you've said: how big business gets rid of its smaller competitors (by passing more regulation), how there's always a small segment of society who rise to the top (not because they're smarter, but because they're craftier, sneakier, and certainly more willing to use manipulation and bribes to get ahead). You and others are no doubt smart, but it takes a certain type to step on others to get to the top.
I also agree with John Adams about the "new" nobility. It's exactly the same thing. Kings and queens used to have to watch their backs constantly. Heads were always rolling over one plot or another. It hasn't changed, not really, just a slightly different form of landed gentry.
I remember reading once that the French Revolution was not started by the lower classes, but the merchant class, the business people. These up-and-coming pillars of society riled up the peasants, who finally took over, but when it all ended, who was there to pick up the pieces? The merchant class. Just a different nobility with so-called "democracy" being the new king.
"Government isn't the solution to big business, it's the cause. Everything the government touches tends give off the foul odor of corruption and inefficiency afterwards."
Totally agree with "government" ending up corrupted. Of course we need strict, enforced laws, but the fewer, the better. Big government is just a cover for corruption, for buying the population, for protecting the privileged class. The poor, who often want big government because they feel safer, are actually deluded in their thinking. They end up being bought for their vote.
Good post, Joseph.
Sep 08, 2018 | www.unz.com
Si1ver1ock , says: Next New Comment September 8, 2018 at 11:28 am GMTWe gave Trump the presidency, what he does with it is his responsibility. He was warned repeatedly about the neocons et al, but has chosen to staff up with the same swamp creatures he ostensibly meant to expurgate.see , says: Next New Comment September 8, 2018 at 11:41 am GMT
We are left to wonder how much of this "reality" TV?
"Just get rid of Trump and you'll have a nice, neat, ultra-right-wing Republican as President." No need for that Diana – for what you describe is what we presently enjoy in the form of the current President, most especially as it relates to his efforts to bring "peace" to regions such as the Mideast.
It is becoming something of a dark joke listening to Trump's apologists endlessly repeat the meme that those opposed to him represent "war" – while he is our hope for "peace" (despite his never demonstrating one iota of that sort of behavior).
With every further, obvious display of the President's shocking belligerence towards countries that do not threaten the United States and in areas and matters where it possesses no valid security interests, the Diana Johnstones of this world spin the prayer wheel faster, repeat their mantras more urgently and come up with some silly excuses for why what we observe from Trump is not really what we observe. "It's not Trump – it's every one around him. You must believe us!"
There's no need for 4- and 5-D chess masters to interpret Trump – what we sees is what we gots. If there's a "conspiracy" anywhere, it's among those unwilling to remark the obvious.
Not to worry, Trump has a condo just for you .
Sep 07, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org
When the center does fail to hold, it is usually in periods of political and perhaps also social upheaval. In those conditions, centrist parties, along with the constituencies they represent, often radicalize – generally merging into the side that wins the day.
Thus it is mainly in situations in which the regime itself is undergoing fundamental transformations that the center is depleted of its former occupants. In time, though, a new mainstream is constituted, and its center again becomes the point on the left/right continuum where the majority of positions and policies in play at the time cluster.
To everyone living through it, it feels as if the Trump presidency has turned the political scene topsy-turvy. This is what happens when there is an imbecilic president whose governing style is a low-grade imitation of a mob boss's.
The fact is, though, that the Trump presidency, destructive as it has been, has changed a good deal less than meets the eye. The foundations of the regime remain the same as before; fundamental neoliberal economic structures remain intact, and the perpetual war regime that went into overdrive after 9/11 continues to flourish.
The jury is still out on how effective Trump's verbal assaults on the institutions that regulate global trade will be. No matter what Trump says, tweets, or thinks, those institutions were fashioned to work to America's advantage, and still generally do. Evidently, though, they do not conform well enough to his or his base's understanding of American "greatness"; thus they have become imperiled.
What is disturbingly clear is that for all but the filthy rich, and especially for anyone not white as the driven snow, life in Trump's America has taken a turn for the worse.
Trump has been a godsend for "white nationalists," the current euphemism for nativists and racists. He has legitimated them and their views to an extent that no one would have imagined just a few years ago.
Also, to the detriment of the health and well being of the vast majority of Americans, Trump and his minions have done serious harm to America's feeble welfare state institutions.
And even this is not the main reason why there will be hell to pay when the next economic downturn happens, as it inevitably will, more likely sooner than later. By giving Wall Street free rein again, and by cutting taxes for the rich, depleting the treasury of financial resources that could be put to use in a crisis, Trump has all but guaranteed that most Americans will soon find themselves in straits as bad or worse than ten years ago.
Worst of all, by watering down or setting aside the weak but nevertheless indispensible environmental regulations in place before their arrival on the scene, Trump has hastened the day when the world will be hit with, and perhaps be undone by, grave, possibly irreparable, ecological catastrophes.
There are many other lesser harms for which, directly or indirectly, Trump is responsible. This is all serious stuff, but while they make life worse for many people and shift the political spectrum to the right, they do not shake the foundations of the regime in a way that puts the center in jeopardy -- at least not yet.
In short, what we are living through is not a Trumpian "revolution," not even in the "Reagan Revolution" sense, but a degeneration of much of what is worth preserving in the old regime. Trump didn't start the process, but he has come to dominate it, and his mindless and mean spirited antics accelerate it.
If "left," "right," and "center" are understood in relational terms, American politics plainly does have a left, right, and center. These designations overlay the deeply entrenched, semi-established duopoly party system that structures the American political scene.
It wasn't always so, but nowadays, almost without exception, Democrats occupy left or center positions on that spectrum; Republicans line up on its right. In a relational sense, the center is replete with Democrats; the left not so much. Centrist Republicans, long a vanishing breed, are, by now, as rare as snowstorms in July.
Understood notionally, where "left," "right," and "center" designate positions on an historically evolving, widely understood, ideal political spectrum, the situation is much the same, but with a major difference: there is hardly any left at all.
There have always been plenty of (notional) leftists in the United States, but there has never been much of an intersection between the left of the political spectrum, understood relationally, and anything resembling a notional Left.
In this respect, the United States is an exceptional case. There are few, if any, liberal democratic regimes in modern capitalist states in which notionally leftwing political forces have played such a negligible role.
This unfortunate state of affairs has become worse in recent decades under the aegis of (notionally) center-right Democrats like the Clintons and their co-thinkers. Thanks to them, the Democratic Party today is a (notionally) centrist party through and through.
They succeeded as well as they did partly because our party system stifles progressive politics more effectively than it is stifled in other ways in other liberal democracies.
The duopoly is still going strong, but, even so, times change. Largely thanks to Trump, there are now inklings of a notional Left in formation that stands a chance of avoiding marginalization.
Thus Democrats all along the (relational) spectrum now consider themselves embattled, challenged from the Left by anti-Trump militants. Many of the challengers come from under-represented, Democratic-leaning constituencies – the young, women, and "persons of color" – with traditionally low levels of political participation. In view of the abundant, well meaning but generally toothless "diversity" blather for which Democrats are notorious, this is delightfully ironic.
The challengers include African Americans, of course, but also people drawn from sectors of the population that Trump has targeted and demeaned with particular malice -- Hispanics and Muslims especially.
The Democratic Party has been actively courting – and colonizing – African American and other subaltern constituencies for a long time. A s was evident in the Clinton campaign's efforts to fight back the Sanders insurgency in 2016, it has forged robust political machines in the process. Their ability to mobilize voters on behalf of mainstream Democratic candidates has been disappointing however; what they have been mainly good at is tamping down radical dissent.
But because race and ethnicity intersect with age and gender – and because, in the final analysis, "it's the politics, stupid" -- many of the African Americans, Hispanics, Muslims and others now being drawn into the electoral fold will likely not be as amenable to being coopted by Democratic Party grandees as persons who "look like them" have been in the past. The danger of cooptation remains formidable, but it is almost certainly surmountable if the will to resist the pressure is strong.
Thus conditions are now in place for a revival of Left politics at the electoral level. This frightens the party's leaders. They and the pundits who serve them speak of unity. But is plain as can be that they are determined to quash whatever they cannot turn to their own advantage. Corporate media's role in this endeavor is crucial. They are already hard at work – pushing the all-too-familiar line that the way to win, especially in "red" states and districts, is to occupy the (relational) center.
In this context, "red," of course, doesn't mean red; it means almost the opposite, Republican. Only in America!
... ... ...
What passes for a "resistance" in liberal or "democratic socialist" circles nowadays is a pale approximation of the genuine article. This is not just because the spirit of rebellion has been bred out of us or because of any failure of imagination; it is because in the circumstances that currently obtain, resistance, like "revolution," even in the anodyne "Our Revolution" sense, just isn't on the agenda.
But there is something now that can and should be resisted by any and all appropriate means – the illusion that the way to defeat Trump and Trumpism and, more generally, to advance progressive causes, is to tack to the relational center.
That center in today's Democratic Party is a dead center; it is where progressive impulses go to die. And, like a vampire on a mission, that dead center is gearing up for a fight – against those who would challenge the Democratic Party from the left. Witness the weeklong spectacle that accompanied the departure of John McCain from the land of the living. What a nauseating display of veneration for a man supremely unworthy, and of nostalgia for the good old (actually bad old) pre-Trump days!
How pathetic! The whole country's, not just the Democratic Party's, left, right, and center – minus Donald Trump, of course -- heaping praise on a Navy pilot who, heeding McCain family traditions and the call of Lyndon Johnson, killed a lot of Vietnamese peasants for no defensible reason, before becoming a "hero" after the Vietnamese shot his plane down, and who, after repatriation, embarked on a legislative career in which, despite a few "maverick" exceptions, he promoted every retrograde Republican cause that arose, war mongered vociferously at every opportunity, and did all he could, even before Hillary Clinton took a notion, to get the Cold War revved up again.
They were all there, every rotten one of them -- from Barack Obama and Joe Biden and, their brother-in-arms, George W. Bush, the man who, but for Trump, could now boast of being the worst president in modern times, all the way to the decrepit Henry Kissinger, the never to be indicted war criminal whom liberals have learned to stop loathing and to call upon for advice instead.
Even that malevolent airhead couple Jarvanka showed up, invited, it seems, by Senator Lindsey Graham, McCain's hapless sidekick. This was no popular front. It was a festival of the dead Center, a blight on the political landscape, and, with Trump sucking up all the air, a harbinger of things to come.
Sep 07, 2018 | yro.slashdot.org
(theverge.com) Sanders' Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act (abbreviated "Stop BEZOS") -- along with Khanna's House of Representatives counterpart, the Corporate Responsibility and Taxpayer Protection Act -- would institute a 100 percent tax on government benefits that are granted to workers at large companies . The bill's text characterizes this as a "corporate welfare tax," and it would apply to corporations with 500 or more employees. If workers are receiving government aid through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), national school lunch and breakfast programs, Section 8 housing subsidies, or Medicaid, employers will be taxed for the total cost of those benefits. The bill applies to full-time and part-time employees, as well as independent contractors that are de facto company employees.
Sep 07, 2018 | countercurrents.org
Neoliberal Totalitarianism And The Social Contract in World -- by Jon Kofas -- January 11, 2018
Neoliberal Totalitarianism and the Social Contract
Analyzing aspects of the rightwing populist tide arising largely in reaction to the pluralistic-diversity model of neoliberalism, this essay examines the evolving social contract that normalizes systemic exploitation and repression in the name of capitalist growth. Amid incessant indoctrination by the media representing big capital, people try to make sense of whether their interests are best served under the pluralist-diversity model of globalist neoliberalism with a shrinking social welfare safety net, or an authoritarian-economic nationalist model promising salvation through the use of an iron hand against domestic and foreign enemies.
Socioeconomic polarization under the neoliberal social contract has laid the groundwork for political polarization clearly evident not just in President Donald Trump's America and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's India representing a rightwing populist neoliberal ideology, but France's President Emmanuel Macron's La République En Marche that espouses a pluralist–diversity-environmentalist model aiming at the same neoliberal goals as the populists. Whether under the pluralist or the authoritarian model, neoliberalism represents what Barrington Moore described in Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (1966) a capitalist reactionary route that Italy, Japan, and Germany followed under totalitarian regimes in the interwar era to protect the capitalist class after the crisis that wars of imperialism (1870-1914) and WWI had created in core capitalist countries.
Although the world is much more thoroughly integrated under capitalism today than it was a century ago, the same marked absence of a revolutionary trend as there was in the interwar era is evident in our era. This accounts for the neoliberal revolution from above culminatingin variations of authoritarian regimes throughout the world. This does not only signal a crisis in capitalism but social discontinuity that will precipitate sociopolitical instability as contradictions within the political economy foster polarization across all sectors of society.
Most people today have no reason to be familiar with the term "social contract" any more than they are familiar with neoliberalism that inordinately influences public policy on a world scale. For many analysts contemplating the relationship of the individual to organized society, the social contract is about the degree to which government advances a set of social and economic policies articulated by an ideology designed to benefit certain institutions and social groups, while safeguarding sovereignty in the name of the governed. The problem arises when the governed no longer view the social contract as legitimate, a point that John Locke addressed as this was a key issue in 17 th century England right before the Glorious Revolution.
The social contract has its origins in the transition from subsistence agriculture of the feudal-manorial economy to commercial agriculture and long-distance trade under capitalism in the 15 th and 16 th century. With the advent of the Scientific Revolution in the 17 th century and the Enlightenment in the 18 th century coinciding with England's first industrial revolution accounted for more rapid evolution of the division of labor, European intellectuals challenged the old social order based on birth-right privilege of the aristocracy representing the agrarian-based economy of the past. Changes taking place in the economy and social structure gave rise to bourgeois social contract theories that articulated a core role in the state for the merchant-banking class, especially in northwest Europe where mercantile capitalism consolidated.
As the ideological force of the English Glorious Revolution (1689), John Locke, the father of Western Liberalism, argued for a regime that reflected the emerging bourgeoisie inclusion into the political mainstream to reflect the commensurate role in the economy. Interestingly, Locke provided a philosophical justification for overthrowing the government when it acted against the interests of its citizens, thus influencing both the American War of Independence and the French Revolution. Building on Locke's liberal philosophy and views on the tyranny of absolutism, Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote in The Social Contract (1762) that: "Man is born free, but everywhere in chains." This statement reflected the views of many bourgeois thinkers who believed that modernization of society is not possible in the absence of a social contract that takes into account natural rights, an approach to government that would mirror a merit based criteria.
Departing from Locke's liberalism that had property ownership and individualism at the core of his political thought, in the Discourse on Inequality, (1754) Rousseau argued that property appropriation rests at the root of institutionalized inequality and oppression of individuals against the community. The role of the state plays a catalytic role for it as an "association which will defend the person and goods of each member with the collective force of all." The basis of social contract theory accounts for the sovereign power's legitimacy and justice, thus resulting in public acceptance. (Jason Neidleman, "The Social Contract Theory in a Global Context" http://www.e-ir.info/2012/10/09/the-social-contract-theory-in-a-global-context/ ; C. B. Macpherson. The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism , 1962)
Rooted in the ascendancy of the European bourgeoisie, social contract theory has evolved in the last three centuries, especially after the Revolutions of 1848 and the rise of the working class as a sociopolitical force demanding inclusion rather than marginalization and exploitation legalized through public policy that the representatives of capitalism legislated. The cooptation of the working class into bourgeois political parties as a popular base in the age of mass politics from the mid-19 th century until the present has obfuscated the reality that social contract under varieties of parliamentary regimes continued to represent capital.
The creation of large enterprises gave rise not only to an organized labor movement, but to a larger bureaucratic regulatory state with agencies intended to help stabilize and grow capitalism while keeping the working class loyal to the social contract. Crisis in public confidence resulted not only from economic recessions and depressions built into the economy, but the contradictions capitalism was fostering in society as the benefits in advances in industry, science and technology accrued to the wealthy while the social structure remained hierarchical.
Ever since 1947 when the ideological father of neoliberalism Friedrich von Hayek called a conference in Mont Pelerin to address how the new ideology would replace Keynesianism, neoliberals have been promising to address these contradictions, insisting that eliminating the social welfare state and allowing complete market dominationthat would result in society's modernization and would filter down to all social classes and nations both developed and developing. Such thinking is rooted in the modernization theory that emerged after WWII when the US took advantage of its preeminent global power to impose a transformation model on much of the non-Communist world. Cold War liberal economist Walt Rostow articulated the modernization model of development in his work entitled The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto , 1960. By the 1970s, neoliberals adapted Rostow's modernization theory as their bible and the core of the social contract. (Evans Rubara, "Uneven Development: Understanding the Roots of Inequality"
The challenge for the political class has always been and remains to mobilize a popular base that would afford legitimacy to the social contract. The issue for mainstream political parties is not whether there is a systemic problem with the social contract intended to serve the capitalist class, but the degree to which the masses can be co-opted through various methods to support the status quo. "A generation ago, the country's social contract was premised on higher wages and reliable benefits, provided chiefly by employers. In recent decades, we've moved to a system where low wages are supposed to be made bearable by low consumer prices and a hodgepodge of government assistance programs. But as dissatisfaction with this arrangement has grown, it is time to look back at how we got here and imagine what the next stage of the social contract might be."
Considering that Keynesianism and neoliberalism operate under the same social structure and differ only on how best to achieve capital formation while retaining sociopolitical conformity, the article above published in The Atlantic illustrates how analysts/commentators easily misinterpret nuances within a social contract for the covenant's macro goals. A similar view as that expressed in The Atlantic is also reflected in the New America Foundation's publications, identifying specific aspects of Arthur Schlesinger's Cold War militarist policies enmeshed with social welfare Keynesianism as parts of the evolving social contract.
Identifying the social contract with a specific set of policies under different administrations evolving to reflect the nuances of political class and economic elites,some analysts contend that there is a European Union-wide social contract to which nationally-based social contracts must subordinate their sovereignty. This model has evolved to accommodate neoliberal globalism through regional trade blocs on the basis of a 'patron-client'integration relationship between core and periphery countries.
A European export and integral part of cultural hegemony in the non-Western world, the liberal-bourgeois social contract for the vast majority of Africans has failed to deliver on the promise of socioeconomic development, social justice and national sovereignty since independence from colonial rule. Just as in Africa, the Asian view of the social contract is that it entails a liberal model of government operating within the capitalist system rather than taking into account social justice above all else. Embracing pluralism and diversity while shedding aspects of authoritarian capitalism associated with cronyism and the clientist state, the view of the Asian social contract is to subordinate society to neoliberal global integration and work within the framework of Western-established institutions. In each country, traditions governing social and political relationships underlie the neoliberal model. (Sanya Osha, The Social Contract in Africa , 2014;
https://www.ecb.europa.eu/press/key/date/2013/html/sp130302.en.html ; http://www.mei.edu/content/map/myanmar-transition-social-control-social-contract )
Despite far reaching implications for society and despite the political and business class keen awareness of neoliberalism, most people around the world are almost as perplexed by the term neoliberalism as they are with social contract theory that is outside the public debate confined to the domain of political philosophy. Many associate neoliberalism withRonald Reagan supporter Milton Friedman and the 'Chicago School', rarely mentioning the political dimension of the economic philosophy and its far-reaching implications for all segments of society. In an article entitled "Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems" The Guardian columnist George Monbiot raised a few basic questions about the degree to which the public is misinformed when it comes to the neoliberal social contract under which society operates.
" Neoliberalism: do you know what it is? Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007-2008, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump. But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has – or had – a name. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly?
Advocates of neoliberalism, both from the pluralist-social welfare wing and the rightwing populist camp, have succeeded in institutionalizing the new social contract which has transformed the historically classical notion of individual freedombased on the Enlightenment concept of natural rights into freedom of capitalist hegemony over the state and society. Whether operating under the political/ideological umbrella of pluralism-environmentalism in Western nations, combined with some version of a Keynesian social welfare pluralist model, with rightwing populism or authoritarianism in one-party state, political and corporate elites advancing the neoliberal model share the same goal with regard to capital formation and mainstream institutions.
http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0896920516668386 ; https://www.counterpunch.org/2015/10/23/culture-of-cruelty-the-age-of-neoliberal-authoritarianism/ ; http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0896920516668386
Weakening the social welfare corporatist state model by reaching political consensus among mainstream political parties by the late 1980s-early 1990s, whether operating under a centrist-pluralist or conservative party, neoliberals have been using the combination of massive deregulation with the state providing a bailout mechanism when crisis hits; fiscal policy that transfers income from workers and the middle class – raising the public debt to transfer wealth from the bottom 90% to the wealthiest 10% -; providing corporate subsidies and bailouts; and privatizing public projects and services at an immense cost to the declining living standards for the middle class and workers.
As much in the US as in other developed nations beginning in the 1980s, the neoliberal state has become status quo by intentionally weakening the social welfare state and redefining the social contract throughout the world. Working with large banks and multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank that use loans as leverage to impose neoliberal policies around the world in debtor nations desperate to raise capital for the state and attract direct foreign investment, the advanced capitalist countries impose the neoliberal social contract on the world.
As reflected in the integrated global economy, the neoliberal model was imbedded in IMF stabilization and World Bank development loans since the late 1940s. After the energy crisis of the mid-1970s and the revolutions in Iran and Nicaragua in 1979, international developments that took place amid US concerns about the economy under strain from rising balance payments deficits that could not accommodate both 'military Keynesianism' (deficit spending on defense as a means of boosting the economy) and the social welfare system, neoliberalism under the corporate welfare state emerged as the best means to continue strengthening capitalism. (J. M. Cypher, "From Military Keynesianism to Global-Neoliberal Militarism" , Monthly Review Vol. 59, No. 2, 2007; Jason Hickel, A Short History ofNeoliberalism ,
Everything from government agencies whose role is strengthening capital, to public schools and hospitals emulating the market-based management model and treating patients and students as customers, the neoliberal goal is comprehensive market domination of society. Advocates of the neoliberal social contract no longer conceal their goals behind rhetoric about liberal-democratic ideals of individual freedom and the state as an arbiter to harmonize the interests of social classes. The market unequivocally imposes its hegemony not just over the state but on all institutions, subordinating peoples' lives to market forces and equating those forces with democracy and national sovereignty. In pursuit of consolidating the neoliberal model on a world scale, the advocates of this ideology subordinate popular sovereignty and popular consent from which legitimacy of the state emanates to capital. http://www.rhizomes.net/issue10/introren.htm
As an integral part of the social environment and hegemonic culture reflecting the hierarchical class structure and values based on marginalization, the neoliberal social contract has become institutionalized in varying degrees reflecting the more integrative nature of capitalism after the fall of the Communist bloc coinciding with China's increased global economic integration. Emboldened that there was no competing ideology from any government challenging capitalism, neoliberals aggressively pursued globalization under the deregulation-corporate welfare anti-labor model.
Some countries opted for mixed policies with a dose of quasi-statist policies as in the case of China. Others retained many aspects of the social welfare state as in the case of EU members, while some pursue authoritarian capitalism within a pluralistic model. Still other nations in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia where pluralism and multi-party traditions are not very strong, neoliberal policies are tailored to clientist politics and crony capitalism. In all cases, 'market omnipotence theory' is the catalyst under the umbrella of the neoliberal social contract.
Ideology, the Neoliberal State, and the Social Contract
Just as religion was universally intertwined with identity, projection of self-image in the community and the value system in the Age of Faith (500-1500), secular ideology in the modern world fulfills somewhat a similar goal. Although neoliberalism has been criticized as a secular religion precisely because of its dogmatism regarding market fundamentalism, especially after 2013 when Pope Francis dismissed it as idolatry of money that attempts to gloss over abject socioeconomic inequality on a world scale, capitalistsand the political class around the world have embraced some aspects if not wholeheartedly neoliberal ideology. https://economicsociology.org/2014/12/25/pope-francis-against-neoliberalism-finance-capitalism-consumerism-and-inequality/
In the early 21 st century arguments equating the rich with societal progress and vilifying the poor as social stigma indicative of individual failure are no different than arguments raised by apologists of capitalism in the early 19 th century when the British Parliament was debating how to punish the masses of poor that the industrial revolution had created. In defending tax cuts to the wealthy, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley stated: "I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing -- as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it's on booze or women or movies." https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/grassley-estate-taxes-booze-women_us_5a247d89e4b03c44072e5a04 ; The US senator's argument could easily be heard in early 19 th century England. Blaming the poor for structural poverty which capitalism causes has become widespreadsince the early 1980s. This is because of government efforts to dismantle the welfare state as a social safety net and transfer resources for tax cuts to the wealthiest individuals. https://www.globalresearch.ca/blaming-the-poor-for-poverty/535675
Rooted in classical liberal ideology, neoliberalism rests on laissez-faire and social Darwinist principles that affirm societal progress as defined by materialist self-interest. Because private financial gain is the sole measure of success and virtue, neoliberals demand that the state and international organizations must remove impediments to capital accumulationnationally and internationally no matter the consequences to the non-propertied classes. Aiming for more than mere mechanical compliance, the goal of the ideology is to create the illusion of the neoliberal self that lives, breathes, and actualizes neoliberal myths in every aspect of life from a person as a worker to consumer and citizen.
Jim Mcguigan argues that "the transition from organised capitalism to neoliberal hegemony over the recent period has brought about a corresponding transformation in subjectivity. Leading celebrities, most notably high-tech entrepreneurs, for instance, operate in the popular imagination as models of achievement for the aspiring young. They are seldom emulated in real life, however, even unrealistically so. Still, their famed lifestyles and heavily publicised opinions provide guidelines to appropriate conduct in a ruthlessly competitive and unequal world." (Jim McGuigan: 'The Neoliberal Self',Culture Unbound, Volume 6, 2014; http://www.cultureunbound.ep.liu.se/v6/a13/cu14v6a13.pdf
By offering the illusion of integration to those that the social structure has marginalized while trying to indoctrinate the masses that the corporate state is salvation and the welfare state is the enemy to default all of society's problems, the neoliberal ideology has captured the imagination of many in the middle class and even some in the working class not just in the West but around the world and especially in former Communist bloc countries where people entertained an idealized version of bourgeois liberal society. (S. Gill, "Pessimism of Intelligence, Optimism of Will" in Perspectives on Gramsci , ed. by Joseph Francene 2009)
Similar to liberalism in so far as it offers something for which to hope, neoliberalism is a departure when it decries the state as an obstacle to capitalist growth not only because of regulatory mechanisms and as an arbiter in society that must placate the masses with social programs, but even as a centralized entity determining monetary and fiscal policy. Proponents of neoliberalism demand turning back the clock to the ideology that prevailed among capitalists and their political supporters at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution when there were no state mechanisms to regulate labor conditions, mining operations and the environment, food and drugs, etc. From a dogmatic market fundamentalist perspective, the market transcends national borders and supersedes the state, thus the principal form of governance revolves around furthering capital accumulation.
Not only is there an absence of a social conscience not so different than what prevailed in the nascent phase of industrial capitalism, but there is disdain of social responsibility on the part of capital beyond the realm of tax-deductible charity donations and voluntarism. More significant, neoliberals believe that capital is entitled to appropriate whatever possible from society because the underlying assumption of corporate welfare entitlement is built into the neoliberal ideology that identifies the national interest with capital and labor as the enemy of capital accumulation. (K. Farnsworth, Social vs. Corporate Welfare , 2012)
The irony in all of this is that in 2008 the world experienced the largest and deepest recession since the 1930s precisely because of neoliberal policies. However, its advocates insisted that the recession was causedwe did not have enough deregulation, privatization, corporate welfare and low taxes on capital rather than going too far with such an extreme ideology whose legal and illegal practices that led to the global recession. Even more ironic neoliberal ideology blames the state – central banks, legislative branch and regulatory agencies – rather than the economic system for the cyclical crisis. https://cgd.leeds.ac.uk/events/2008-global-financial-crisis-in-a-long-term-perspective-the-failure-of-neo-liberalism-and-the-future-of-capitalism-2/
Because the state puts the interests of a tiny percentage of the population above the rest of society, it is a necessary structure only in so far as it limits its role to promoting capital formation by using any means to achieve the goal. Whether under a pluralistic-diversity political model or an authoritarian one, neoliberalism is anti-democratic because as Riad Azar points out, "The common denominator is the empowering of elites over the masses with the assistance of international forces through military action or financial coercion -- a globalized dialectic of ruling classes."
From conservative and liberal to self-described Socialist, political parties around the world have moved ideologically farther to the right in order to accommodate neoliberalism as part of their platform. The challenge of the political class is to keep people loyal to the neoliberal ideology; a challenge that necessarily forces political parties to be eclectic in choosing aspects of other ideological camps that appeal to voters. While embracing corporate welfare, decrying social welfare is among the most glaring neoliberal contradiction of an ideology that ostensibly celebrates non-state intervention in the private sector. This contradiction alone forces neoliberal politicians of all stripes and the media to engage in mass distraction and to use everything from identity politics ideologies to cult of personality,and culture wars and 'clash of civilization' theories. https://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/How-the-Democrats-Became-The-Party-of-Neoliberalism-20141031-0002.html ; https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/paul-emery/why-on-earth-would-socialists-support-neoliberal-undemocratic-eu
To justify why self-proclaimed socialist and democratic parties have embraced neoliberalism, many academics have provided a wide range of theories which have in fact helped solidify the neoliberal ideology into the political mainstream. Among the countless people swept up by the enthusiasm of the Communist bloc's fall and China's integration into the world capitalist economy, Daniel Bell, The End of Ideology (2000), argued that the world returned to old religious and ethnic conflicts around which ideologies of the new century were molded.
Encouraged by China's integration into the global capitalist system, in September 2006 Bell wrote : "It's the end of ideology in China. Not the end of all ideology, but the end of Marxist ideology. China has many social problems, but the government and its people will deal with them in pragmatic ways, without being overly constrained by ideological boundaries. I still think there's a need for a moral foundation for political rule in China – some sort of guiding ideal for the future – but it won't come from Karl Marx." https://prezi.com/kha1ketnfjtd/ideology-in-everyday-life/
Such hasty pronouncements and others in works like Francis Fukuyama's The End of History expressed the Western bourgeois sense of relief of an integrated world under the Western-dominated neoliberal ideology that would somehow magically solve problems the Cold War had created. While Bell, Fukuyama and others celebrated the triumphant era of neoliberal ideology, they hardly dealt with the realities that ideology in peoples' lives emanates from mainstream institutions manifesting irreconcilable contradictions. A product molded by the hegemonic political culture, neoliberal ideology has been a factor in keeping the majority in conformity while a small minority is constantly seeking outlets of social resistance, some within the neoliberal rightwing political mold. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/21/bring-back-ideology-fukuyama-end-history-25-years-on
As catalyst to mobilize the masses, nationalism remains a strong aspect of ideological indoctrination that rightwing populist neoliberals have used blaming immigrants, Muslims, women, gays, environmentalists, and minorities for structural problems society confronts resulting from the political economy. Although there are different political approaches about how best to achieve neoliberal goals, ideological indoctrination has always played an essential role in keeping people loyal to the social contract. However, the contradiction in neoliberal ideology is the need for a borderless world and the triumph of capital over the nation-state while state policies harmonize disparate capitalist interests within the nation-state and beyond it. If neoliberal ideology tosses aside nationalism then it deprives itself of a mechanism to mobilize the masses behind it. https://left-flank.org/2011/01/16/the-curious-marriage-of-neoliberalism-and-nationalism/
Arguing that the 'Ideological State Apparatuses' (ISA) such as religious and educational institutions among others in the private sector perpetuate the ideology of the status quo, Louis Pierre Althusser captured the essence of state mechanisms to mobilize the masses. However, ideology is by no means the sole driving force in keeping people loyal to the social contract. While peoples' material concerns often dictate their ideological orientation, it would be hasty to dismiss the role of the media along with hegemonic cultural influences deeply ingrained into society shaping peoples' worldview and keeping them docile.
Building on Althusser's theory of how the state maintains the status quo, Goran Therborn ( Ideology of Power and the Power of Ideology , 1999) argues that the neoliberal state uses ideological domination as a mechanism to keep people compliant. Combined with the state's repressive mechanisms – police and armed forces – the ideological apparatus engenders conformity wherein exploitation and repression operate within the boundaries that the state defines as 'legal', thus 'normal' for society. A desirable goal of regimes ranging from parliamentary to Mussolini's Fascist Italy (1922-1943) and clerical Fascism under Antonio de Oliveira Salazar's Portugal (1932-1968), legalized repressive mechanisms have become an integral part of neoliberal ideological domination.
( http://notevenpast.org/louis-althusser-on-interpellation-and-the-ideological-state apparatus/ ; https://isreview.org/issue/99/althussers-theory-ideology ; Jules Boykoff, "Limiting Dissent: The Mechanisms of State Repression in the USA" Social Movement Studies," Vo. 6, No 3, 2007)
It is part of the neoliberal ideology that markets dictate the lives of people in every respect from cradle to grave where self and identity are inexorably intertwined. Striving to determine public policy in all its phases of the individual\s life, of localities, nationally and internationally, the market has no other means to retain hegemony in society and pursue capital formation with the fewest possible obstacles. Neoliberals justify such an ideology on the basis that modernization of society transcends not just social justice but societal collective welfare when measured against private gain. https://www.salon.com/2016/03/27/good_riddance_gig_economy_uber_ayn_rand_and_the_awesome_collapse_of_silicon_valleys_dream_of_destroying_your_job/ ; https://www.greeneuropeanjournal.eu/neoliberalism-has-eviscerated-the-fabric-of-social-life/
The unchecked role of neoliberal capitalism in every aspect of the social fabric runs the risk of at the very least creating massive social, economic and political upheaval as was the case with the great recession of 2008 preceded by two decades of neoliberal capitalism taking precedence over the welfare regulatory state whose role is to secure and/or retain equilibrium in global markets. In The Great Transformation , (1944)", Karl Polanyi argued that: "To allow the market mechanism to be sole director of the fate of human beings and their natural environment would result in the demolition of society."
Because Polanyi lived through the Great Depression era of the New Deal and the rise and fall of the Axis Powers, he was optimistic that a return to the 1920s would not take root after WWII. Polanyi accepted Hegel's view of the social contract that the state preserves society by safeguarding general or universal interests against particular ones. However, we have been witnessing the kind of demolition of society Polanyi feared because of unchecked market forces. This is in part because the demise of the Communist bloc and the rise of China as a major economic power emboldened advocates of neoliberal ideology.
With the realization of US long road to decline at the end of the Vietnam War, neoliberal elites prevailed that the crisis of American leadership could be met with the elimination of Keynesian ideology and the adoption of neoliberalism as tested by the Chicago School in Chile under the US-backed dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet from 1973 to 1990. That the neoliberal ideology became an experiment tested in a US-backed military dictatorship in South America is itself revealing about what the nature of the social contract once implemented even in pluralistic societies where there was popular and political support for Keynesianism. Characteristic of a developing nation like Chile was external dependence and a weak state structure, thus easily manipulated by domestic and foreign capital interested in deregulation and further weakening of the public sector as the core of the social contract.
https://www.thenation.com/article/the-chicago-boys-in-chile-economic-freedoms-awful-toll/ ; https://www.salon.com/2010/03/02/chicago_boys_and_the_chilean_earthquake/
"The withering away of national states and the wholesale privatization of state-owned enterprises and state-administered services transferred highly profitable monopolies to capitalists, and guaranteed the repayment of the foreign debt-contracted, as in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay-by irresponsible, corrupt, and de facto military rulers. Neoliberalism supplied the general justification for the transfer of public assets and state-owned enterprises, paid for with public savings, even in areas considered "taboo" and untouchable until a few years ago, such as electricity, aviation, oil, or telecommunications. (Atilio A. Boron, "Democracy or Neoliberalism?" http://bostonreview.net/archives/BR21.5/boron.html
Advocating the systematic dismantling of the social welfare state in the name of upholding the virtues of individualism while strengthening of corporate welfare capitalism in the name of economic growth on global scale, advocates of neoliberal ideology were emboldened by the absence of a competing ideology after the fall of the Soviet bloc and China's capitalist integration. As the income gap widened and globalization resulted in surplus labor force amid downward pressure on wages, a segment of the social and political elites embraced a rightwing populist ideology as a means of achieving the neoliberal goals in cases where the pluralist ideological model was not working. The failure of neoliberal policies led some political and business elites to embrace rightwing populism in order to save neoliberalism that had lost support among a segment of society because of its association with centrist and reformist cultural-diversity pluralist neoliberals. This trend continues to gain momentum exposing the similarities between neoliberalism and Fascism. (David Zamora, "When Exclusion Replaces Exploitation: The Condition of the Surplus-Population under Neoliberalism" http://nonsite.org/feature/when-exclusion-replaces-exploitation .
Neoliberalism and Fascism
- The role of the state
Unprecedented for a former president, on 10 December 2017 Barak Obama warned Americans not to follow a Nazi path. A clear reference to president Trump and the Republican Party leading America in that direction with rhetoric and policies that encourage 'culture war' ( kulturkampf – struggle between varieties of rightwingers from evangelicals to neo-Nazis against secular liberals), Obama made reference to socioeconomic polarization at the root of political polarization.
"The combination of economic disruption, cultural disruption ― nothing feels solid to people ― that's a recipe for people wanting to find security somewhere. And sadly, there's something in all of us that looks for simple answers when we're agitated and insecure. The narrative that America at its best has stood for, the narrative of pluralism and tolerance and democracy and rule of law, human rights and freedom of the press and freedom of religion, that narrative, I think, is actually the more powerful narrative. The majority of people around the world aspire to that narrative, which is the reason people still want to come here." https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/obama-warns-americans-against-following-in-the-path-of-nazi germany_us_5a2c032ce4b0a290f0512487
Warning about the road to Nazism, Obama drew distinctions between the Democratic Party's brand of pluralist neoliberalism and Trump's rightwing populist model. Naturally, Obama did not mention that both models seek the same goals, or that policies for which he and his predecessor Bill Clinton pursued drove a segment of the population toward the authoritarian neoliberal model that offers the illusion of realizing the American Dream. Distancing themselves from neo-Fascists, mainstream European political leaders embracing the pluralist model under neoliberalism have been as condemnatory as Obama of rightwing populism's pursuit of 'culture war' as a precursor to Fascism.
Accusing Trump of emboldening varieties of neo-Fascists not just in the US and EU but around the globe, European neoliberal pluralists ignored both the deep roots of Fascism in Europe and their own policies contributing to the rise of neo-Fascism. Just as with Obama and his fellow Democrats, European neoliberal pluralists draw a very sharp distinction between their version of neoliberalism and rightwing populism that either Trump or Hungary's Viktor Orban pursue. Neoliberal pluralists argue that rightwing populists undercut globalist integration principles by stressing economic nationalism although it was right nationalists Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan that engaged in wholesale implantation of neoliberal policies. https://bpr.berkeley.edu/2017/02/28/the-myths-of-far-right-populism-orbans-fence-and-trumps-wall/
Rightwing populism under Ronald Reagan as the first president to implement neoliberal policies emerged as a reaction to the prospect that the Western-basedcore of capitalism was weakening as a result of a multi-polar world economy. Whereas in the middle of the 20 th century the US enjoyed balance of payments surpluses and was a net creditor with the dollar as the world's strongest reserve currency and the world's strongest manufacturing sector, in 2017 the US is among the earth's largest debtor nations with chronic balance of payments deficits, a weak dollar with a bleak future and an economy based more on parasitic financial speculation and massive defense-related spending and less on productive sectors that are far more profitable in Asia and developing nations with low labor costs. (Jon Kofas, Independence from America: Global Integration and Inequality , 2005, 40-54)
Exerting enormous influence by exporting its neoliberal ideological, political, economic and cultural influence throughout the world, the US-imposed transformation model has resulted in economic hardships and political and social instability in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Institutionalizing neoliberalism under rightwing populism and using Trump as the pretext to do so, the US is leading nations around the world to move closer to neo-Fascism, thus exposing neoliberalism as totalitarian.The recognition by the political class and business class that over-accumulation is only possible by continued downward wage pressure has been a key reason that a segment of the population not just in the US but across EU has supported populist rightwing and/or neo-fascists.
https://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2015/01/24/exporting-fascism-us-imperialism-in-latin-america/ ; https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/feb/03/americanism-us-writers-imagine-fascist-future-fiction ; http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Corporatism/neofascism.shtml ; Bertram Gross, Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America , 1999.
Rejecting the claim of any similarities between neoliberalism and Fascism, neoliberal apologists take pride that their apparent goal is to weaken the state, by which they mean the Keynesian welfare state, not the 'military Keynesian' and corporate welfare state. By contrast, Fascists advocated a powerful state – everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state. American neoliberals of both the pluralist and rightwing camps have created a societal model not just in one nation like Mussolini and Hitler but globally with the result of: "everything within neoliberalism, nothing against neoliberalism, nothing outside neoliberalism.
Neoliberal totalitarianism finds different expression in the US than in India, in Hungary than in Israel. In " Neoliberal Fascism: Free Markets and the Restructuring of Indian Capitalism," Shankar Gopalakrishnan observed that exclusive Hindu nationalism has been the catalyst for rightwing neoliberalism to mobilize popular support. "Hindutva [ a term coined by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 1923 to assert exclusive Hindu dominance] is seen as an effort by neoliberalism, or perhaps more broadly by capitalism, to divert attention from class conflict, to divide and weaken working class struggles and to deflect class-driven anxieties on to minority communities. This approach is problematic in two senses. First, it does not explain why Hindutva organisations are able to develop a mass base, except to the extent that they are seen to be appealing to "historical identity" or "emotive" issues. The state exists only as the expression and guarantor of a collectivity founded around a transcendent principle : The ideal state is the guarantor of the Hindu rashtra, a "nation" that exists as an organic and harmonious unity between "Hindus."
Whereas under Ronald Reagan's neoliberal populist policies (Reaganism) under a rightwing political umbrella the state structure was strengthened in the US, in the process of implementing neoliberal policies state bureaucratic functions have been outsourced to private companies thus keeping with the spirit of corporate-welfare goals. Other countries followed a path similar to the one of the US. Contrary to the claims of many neoliberal scholars, politicians and commentators, neoliberalism has not weakened the state simply because the ideology lays claims to a hegemonic private sector and weak state. It is true that the Keynesian-welfare state structure has been weakened while the corporate-welfare-militarist-police-state structure has been strengthened. However, in the less developed capitalist countries the public sector has weakened as a result of the US and EU imposing the neoliberal model which drains the public sector of any leverage in stimulating economic and social development investment because of the transfer of public assets and public services to the private sector.( http://jgu.edu.in/article/indias-neoliberal-path-perdition ; Monica Prasad, The Politics of Free Markets , 2006)
Gaspar Miklos Tamas, a Romanian political philosopher of the George Lukacs-inspired Budapest School, argues that global division of labor in the neoliberal era has not only resulted in wealth transfer from the bottom up but it has diminished national sovereignty and citizenship for those in less developed (periphery) nations. "The new dual sate is alive and well: Normative State for the core populations of the capitalist center, and another State of arbitrary decrees for the non-citizens who are the rest. Unlike in classical fascism, this second State is only dimly visible from the first. The radical critique protesting that liberty within the Normative State is an illusion, although understandable, is erroneous. The denial of citizenship based not on exploitation, oppression and straightforward discrimination, but on mere exclusion and distance, is difficult to grasp, because the mental habits of liberation struggle for a more just redistribution of goods and powers are not applicable. The problem is not that the Normative State is becoming more authoritarian: rather, that it belongs only to a few." https://www.opendemocracy.net/people-newright/article_306.jsp
If the normative state is the domain of the very few with the rest under the illusion of inclusion, Miklos Tamas concludes that we are living in a global post-fascist era which is not the same as the interwar totalitarian model based on a mass movement of Fascism. Instead, neoliberal totalirarianism categorically rejects the Enlightenment tradition of citizenship which is the very essence of the bourgeois social contract. While the normative state in advanced countries is becoming more authoritarian with police-state characteristics, the state in the periphery whether Eastern Europe, Latin America or Africa is swept along by neoliberal policies that drive it toward authoritarianism as much as the state in Trump's America as in parts of Europe to the degree that in January 2018 Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) faced the prospect either of new elections or entering into a coalition with the neo-Nazi Alternative fur Deutchalnd (AfD). https://www.prosper.org.au/2010/05/25/the-counter-enlightenment/
The rightwing course of the Western World spreading into the rest of the world is not only because of IMF austerity used as leverage to impose neoliberalism in developing nations. Considering that countries have been scrambling to attract foreign investment which carries neoliberal policies of deregulation, privatization, weak trade unions and low taxes as a precondition, the entire world economic system is the driving force toward a form of totalitarianism. As Miklos Tamas argues, this has diluted national sovereignty of weaker countries, allowing national capitalists and especially multinational corporations to play a determining role in society against the background of a weak state structure. Along with weakened national sovereignty, national citizenship in turn finds expression in extreme rightwing groups to compensate for loss of independence as the bourgeois social contract presumably guarantees. (Aihwa Ong, Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty , 2006; http://www.e-ir.info/2012/08/22/globalization-does-not-entail-the-weakening-of-the-liberal-state/
It is undeniable that there is a qualitative difference in Berlin and Rome under neoliberal regimes today than it was under Fascism. It would be a mistake to lump a contemporary neoliberal society together with the Third Reich and Fascist Italy, a dreadful and costly mistake that Stalinists made in the 1930s. Interwar totalitarianism existed under one-party state with a popular base operating as a police state. Although many countries under varieties of neoliberal regimes have an electoral system of at least two parties alternating power, the ruling parties pursue neoliberal policies with variations on social and cultural issues (identity politics), thus operating within the same policy framework impacting peoples' living standards.
Not just leftist academic critics, but even the progressive democratic Salon magazine recognized during the US election of 2016 that the neoliberal state would prevail regardless of whether Trump or Clinton won the presidential contest. " Neoliberalism presumes a strong state, working only for the benefit of the wealthy, and as such it has little pretence to neutrality and universality, unlike the classical liberal state. I would go so far as to say that neoliberalism is the final completion of capitalism's long-nascent project, in that the desire to transform everything -- every object, every living thing, every fact on the planet -- in its image had not been realized to the same extent by any preceding ideology.
In neoliberal society either of the pluralist-diversity or of the authoritarian political camp there are elements of polizeistaat though not nearly full blown as in the Third Reich. While conformity to the status quo and self-censorship is the only way to survive, modern means of communication and multiple dissident outlets attacking the status quo from the right, which is far more pervasive and socio-politically acceptable than doing so from the left, has actually facilitated the evolution of the new totalitarian state. http://www.thegreatregression.eu/progressive-neoliberalism-versus-reactionary-populism-a-hobsons-choice/
Whereas big business collaborated closely with Fascist dictators from the very beginning to secure the preeminence of the existing social order threatened by the crisis of democracy created by capitalism, big business under the neoliberal social contract has the same goal, despite disagreement on the means of forging political consensus. Partly because neoliberalism carries the legacy of late 19 th century liberalism and operates in most countries within the parliamentary system, and partly because of fear of grassroots social revolution, a segment of the capitalist class wants to preserve the democratic façade of the neoliberal social contract by perpetuating identity politics. In either case, 'economic fascism' as the essence of neoliberalism, or post-fascism as Miklos Tamas calls it, is an inescapable reality. (Andrea Micocci and Flavia Di Mario, The Fascist Nature of Neoliberalism , 2017).
In distinguishing the composition and goals of theparliamentary state vs. the Fascist one-party state, Italian Fascism's theoretician Giovanni Gentile characterizedit as 'totalitario'; a term also applied to Germany's Third Reich the latter which had the added dimension of anti-Semitism as policy. Arguing that ideology in the Fascist totalitarian state had a ubiquitous role in every aspect of life and power over people, Gentile and Mussolini viewed such state as the catalyst to a powerful nation-state that subordinates all institutions and the lives of citizens to its mold. In "La Dottrina del Fascismo" (Gentile and Mussolini, 1932), Musolini made famous the statement: "Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state," although Hitler's polizeistaat was more totalitarian because it had the means to achieve policy goals stated in Mein Kampf .
The convergence of neoliberalism and Fascism is hardly surprising when one considers that both aim at a totalitarian society of different sorts, one of state-driven ideology and the other market-driven with the corporate welfare state behind it. In some respects, Sheldon Wolin's the "inverted totalitarianism" theory places this issue into another perspective, arguing that despite the absence of a dictator the corporate state behind the façade of 'electoral democracy' is an instrument of totalitarianism. Considering the increased role of security-intelligence-surveillance agencies in a presumably open society, it is not difficult to see that society has more illiberal than classic liberal traits. Sheldon Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, 2008)
More powerful than the Axis Powers combined, American "Inverted totalitarianism" was internationalized during the Cold War and became more blatant during the war on terror, in large measure used as a pretext to impose neoliberalism in the name of national security. As the police-state gradually became institutionalized in every respect from illegal surveillance of citizens to suppressing dissent to the counterterrorism-neoliberal regime, it was becoming clearer to many scholars that a version of fascism was emerging in the US which also sprang up around the world. (Charlotte Heath-Kelly et al. eds., Neoliberalism and Terror: Critical Engagements , 2016; https://deeppoliticsforum.com/forums/showthread.php?15074-Chris-Hedges-The-Great-Unraveling-USA-on-the-brink-of-neo-fascist-police-state#.WifwyLBrzIU
Almost a century after the era of Fascist totalitarianism that led to WWII, the transition of capitalism's global structure with a shifting core from the US and northwest Europe to East Asia has entailed intense global competition for capital accumulation to the degree that the advanced countries have been pushing living standards downward to compete with low-wage global markets. The process of draining greater surplus value from labor especially from the periphery countries where IMF-style austerity policies have resulted in massive capital transfer to the core countries has taken place under the neoliberal social contract that has striking similarities with Fascism.
Backed by the state in the advanced capitalist countries, international organizations among them the IMF have been promoting economic fascism under the label of 'neoliberal reforms', thus molding state structures accordingly. Neoliberal totalitarianism is far more organized and ubiquitous than interwar Fascism not only because of the strong national state structure of core countries and modern technology and communications networks that enables surveillance and impose subtle forms of indoctrination, but also because the international agencies established by the US under the Bretton Woods system help to impose policies and institutions globally.
- Characteristics of the Illiberal Neoliberal Society
The genesis of illiberal politics can be traced back to the end of WWI when Europeans witnessed the unraveling of the rationalist order of the Enlightenment rooted in Lockean liberalism. Influenced by the wars of imperialism that led the First World War at the end of which Vladimir Lenin led the Bolsheviks to a revolutionary victory over Czarist Russia, Joseph Schumpeter like many European scholars was trying to make sense of how capitalism's forcible geographic expansion (imperialism) led to such global disasters that undermined the rationalist assumptions of the Enlightenment about society and its institutions. In his Sociology of Imperialism (1919), he wrote the following about the relationship of the bourgeoisie with the state.
"The bourgeoisie did not simply supplant the sovereign, nor did it make him its leader, as did the nobility. It merely wrested a portion of its power from him and for the rest submitted to him. It did not take over from the sovereign the state as an abstract form of organization. The state remained a special social power, confronting the bourgeoisie. In some countries it has continued to play that role to the present day. It is in the state that the bourgeoisie with its interests seeks refuge, protection against external and even domestic enemies. The bourgeoisie seeks to win over the state for itself, and in return serves the state and state interests that are different from its own."
The strong state structure of the imperial state that the bourgeoisie supported as a vehicle of expanding their interests globally while maintaining the social order at the national level held true only for the advanced capitalist countries eagerly trying to secure international markets at any cost including armed conflict. While essential for capital integration and expansion, the strong state structure was and remains an anathema to the bourgeoisie, if its role is to make political, economic and social concessions to the laboring and middle classes which are the popular base for bourgeois political parties. While classical liberal theory expresses the interests of capitalism its role is not to serve in furtherance of political equality for the simple reason that capitalism cannot exist under such a regime. Both John Locke and John Stuart Mill rejected political egalitarianism, while Schumpeter viewed democratic society with egalitarianism as an integral part of democracy. Rejecting Locke's and Mill's abstract receptiveness to egalitarianism, neoliberals of either the pluralist or authoritarian camp are blatantly adopt illiberal policies that exacerbate elitism, regardless of the rhetoric they employ to secure mass popular support.
Characterized by elitism, class, gender, racial and ethnic inequality, limits on freedom of expression, on human rights and civil rights, illiberal politics thrives on submission of the masses to the status quo. In his essay The Political Economy of Neoliberalism and Illiberal Democracy, Garry Jacobs, an academic/consultant who still believes in classical liberal economics operating in a pluralistic and preferably non-militaristic society, warns that world-wide democracy is under siege. " Democratic elections have become the means for installing leaders with little respect for democratic values. The tolerance, openness and inclusiveness on which modern democracy is founded are being rejected by candidates and voters in favor of sectarian, parochial fears and interests. The role of the free press as an impartial arbiter of facts is being undermined by the rise of private and public news media conglomerates purveying political preference as fact combined with a blinding blizzard of fake news. Party politics has been polarized into a winner-take-all fight to the finish by vested-interests and impassioned extremist minorities trying to impose their agendas on a complacent majority. Corporate power and money power are transforming representative governments into plutocratic pseudo-democracies. Fundamentalists are seizing the instruments of secular democracy to impose intolerant linguistic, racial and religious homogeneity in place of the principles of liberty and harmonious heterogeneity that are democracy's foundation and pinnacle of achievement."
While neoliberals in the populist rightwing wholeheartedly share and promote such views, those who embrace the pluralist-identity politics camp are just as supportive of many aspects of the corporate welfare-police-counterterrorism state as a means to engender domestic sociopolitical conformity and to achieve closer global economic integration. The question is not so much what each political camp under the larger neoliberal umbrella pursues as a strategy to mobilize a popular base but whether the economic-social policies intertwined with a corporate-welfare-police-counterterrorism state is the driving force toward a Fascist model of government. In both the pluralist model with some aspects of the social safety net, and the rightwing populist version neoliberalism's goal is rapid capital accumulation on a world scale, institutional submission of the individual and molding the citizen's subjective reality around the neoliberal ideology.
Illiberal politics in our time is partly both symptomatic of and a reaction to neoliberal globalism and culture wars that serve to distract from the intensified class struggle boiling beneath the surface. Rhetorically denouncing globalist neoliberalism, populist rightwing politicians assert the importance of national capitalism but always within the perimeters of neoliberal policies. Hence they co-opt the socio-cultural positions of nationalist extremists as a political strategy to mobilize the masses. Scholars, journalists and politicians have speculated whether the rising tide of rightwing populism pursuing neoliberalism under authoritarian models not just in the Western World, but Eastern Europe, South Asia and Africa reflects the rejection of liberal democracy and the triumph of illiberal politics that best reflects and serves the political economy. Unquestionably, there is a direct correlation between the internationalization of the Western neoliberal transformation model imposed on the world in the post-Soviet era and the rise of rightwing populism reacting to the gap between the promises of what capitalism was supposed to deliver and the reality of downward pressures on living standards. http://www.counterfire.org/interview/18068-india-s-nightmare-the-extremism-of-narendra-modi ; http://ac.upd.edu.ph/index.php/news-announcements/1201-southeast-asian-democracy-neoliberalism-populism-vedi-hadiz ; http://balticworlds.com/breaking-out-of-the-deadlock-of-neoliberalism-vs-rightwing-populism/
Not just the US, but Europe has been flirting with 'illiberal democracy' characterized by strong authoritarian-style elected officials as Garry Jacobs has observed. Amid elections in Bosnia in 1996, US diplomat Richard Holbrooke wondered about the rightwing path of former Yugoslav republics. "Suppose the election was declared free and fair and those elected are "racists, fascists, separatists, who are publicly opposed to [peace and reintegration]. That is the dilemma." Twenty years after what Holbrooke dreaded election outcomes in Yugoslavia, the US elected a rightwing neoliberal populist leading the Republican Party and making culture wars a central theme to distract from the undercurrent class struggle in the country. A structural issue that transcends personalities, this reality in America is symptomatic of the link between neoliberalism and the rise of illiberal democracy in a number of countries around the world. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/1997-11-01/rise-illiberal-democracy
Some political observers analyzing the rightist orientation of neoliberal policies have concluded that neoliberalism and Fascism have more in common than people realize. In 2016, Manuela Cadelli, President of the Magistrates Union of Belgium, wrote a brief article arguing that Neoliberalism is indeed a form of Fascism; a position people seem to be willing to debate after the election of Donald Trump pursuing neoliberal policies with a rightwing populist ideological and cultural platform to keep a popular base loyal to the Republican Party. "Fascism may be defined as the subordination of every part of the State to a totalitarian and nihilistic ideology. I argue that neoliberalism is a species of fascism because the economy has brought under subjection not only the government of democratic countries but also every aspect of our thought. The state is now at the disposal of the economy and of finance, which treat it as a subordinate and lord over it to an extent that puts the common good in jeopardy." http://www.defenddemocracy.press/president-belgian-magistrates-neoliberalism-form-fascism/
It is ironic that neoliberal society is 'a species of fascism', but there no widespread popular opposition from leftist groups to counter it. People remain submissive to the neoliberal state that has in fact eroded much of what many in the pluralist camp hail as liberal democratic institutions. Most adapt to the status quo because to do otherwise means difficulty surviving today just as it was difficult to survive under Fascism for those in opposition; as Palmiro Togliatti noted ( Lectures on Fascism, 1935) when he cautioned about castigating workers who joined the party simply because they placed survival of their family above any progressive ideology. Because evidence of systemic exploitation ingrained into society passes as the 'norm', and partly because repression targets minority groups, migrants, and the working class, especially those backing trade unions and progressive political parties, people support the neoliberal state that they see as the constitutional entity and the only means for survival.
The media, government and mainstream institutions denounce anyone crying out for social justice, human rights and systemic change. Such people are 'trendy rebels', as though social justice is a passing fad like a clothing line, misguided idealists or treasonous criminals. Considering that the corporate-owned and state media validates the legitimacy of the neoliberal social contract, the political class and social elites enjoy the freedom to shape the state's goals in the direction toward a surveillance police-state. All of this goes without notice in the age when it is almost expected because it is defaulted to technology making easy to detect foreign and domestic enemies while using the same technology to shape the citizen's subjective reality.
Partly because of the communications revolution in the digital age, neoliberalism has the ability to mold the citizen beyond loyalty to the social contract not just into mechanical observance but total submission to its institutions by reshaping the person's values and identity. In this respect, neoliberalism is not so different from Fascism whose goal was to mold the citizen. " Neoliberalism has been more successful than most past ideologies in redefining subjectivity, in making people alter their sense of themselves, their personhood, their identities, their hopes and expectations and dreams and idealizations. Classical liberalism was successful too, for two and a half centuries, in people's self-definition, although communism and fascism succeeded less well in realizing the "new man." It cannot be emphasized enough that neoliberalism is not classical liberalism, or a return to a purer version of it, as is commonly misunderstood; it is a new thing, because the market, for one thing, is not at all free and untethered and dynamic in the sense that classical liberalism idealized it.
Although people go about their daily lives focused on their interests, they operate against the background of neoliberal institutions that determine their lives in every respect from chatting on their cell phones to how they live despite their illusions of free will. As the world witnessed a segment of the population openly embracing fascism from movement to legitimate political party in interwar Europe, a corresponding rise in racism and ethnocentrism under the umbrella of rightwing neoliberal populism has taken place in the first two decades of the 21 st century.
Representing the UN Human Rights agency, Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad al-Hussein stated that 2016 was disastrous for human rights, as the 'clash of civilizations' construct has become ingrained into the political mainstream in Western countries. "In some parts of Europe, and in the United States, anti-foreigner rhetoric full of unbridled vitriol and hatred, is proliferating to a frightening degree, and is increasingly unchallenged. The rhetoric of fascism is no longer confined to a secret underworld of fascists, meeting in ill-lit clubs or on the 'deep net'. It is becoming part of normal daily discourse." http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/united-nations-chilling-warning-rise-fascism-human-rights-prince-zeid-a7464861.html
Because neoliberalism has pushed all mainstream bourgeois political parties to the right, the far right no longer seems nearly as extreme today as it did during the Vietnam War's protest generation who still had hope for a socially just society even if that meant strengthening the social welfare system. The last two generations were raised knowing no alternative to neoliberalism; the panacea for all that ails society is less social welfare and privatization of public services within the framework of a state structure buttressing corporate welfare. The idea that nothing must be tolerated outside the hegemonic market and all institutions must mirror the neoliberal model reflects a neo-totalitarian society where sociopolitical conformity follows because survival outside the system is not viable.
Although Western neoconservatives have employed the term 'neo-totalitarian' to describe Vladimir Putin's Russia, the term applies even more accurately to the US and someEuropean nations operating under neoliberal-military-police state structures with as much power than the Russian bureaucratic state has at its disposal.The contradiction of neoliberalism rests in the system's goal of integrating everyone into the neo-totalitarian mold. Because of the system's inherent hierarchical structure, excluding most from the institutional mainstream and limiting popular sovereignty to the elites exposes the exploitation and repression goals that account for the totalitarian nature of the system masquerading as democratic where popular sovereignty is diffused. The seemingly puzzling aspect of the rise in rightwing populism across the globe that rests in marginalization of a segment of the population and the support for it not just from certain wealthy individuals financing extremist movements, but from a segment of the middle class and even working class lining up behind it because they see their salvation with the diminution of weaker social groups. This pattern was also evident in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and pro-Nazi authoritarian regimes of the interwar era. https://www.demdigest.org/neo-totalitarian-russia-potent-existential-threat-west/ ; Benjamin Moffitt, The Global Rise of Populism (2017.
Because of contradictions in bourgeois liberal democracy where capital accumulation at any social cost is the goal, the system produced the current global wave of rightwing populism just as capitalism in the interwar era gave rise to Fascism. As one analyst put it, " The risk democratic formations continually face is internal disintegration such that the heterogeneous elements of the social order not only fail to come together within some principle of or for unity, but actively turn against one another. In this case, a totally unproductive revolution takes place. Rather than subversion of the normative order causing suffering, rebellion or revolution that might establish a new nomos of shared life as a way of establishing a new governing logic, the dissociated elements of disintegrating democratic formations identify with the very power responsible for their subjection–capital, the state and, the strong leader. Thus the possibility of fascism is not negated in neoliberal formations but is an ever present possibility arising within it. Because the value of the social order as such is never in itself sufficient to maintain its own constitution, it must have recourse to an external value, which is the order of the sacred embodied by the sovereign. http://readersupportednews.org/pm-section/78-78/41987-neoliberalism-fascism-and-sovereignty /
Public opinion surveys of a number of countries around the world, including those in the US, indicated that most people do not favor the existing social contract rooted in neoliberal policies that impact everything from living standards and labor policy to the judicial system and foreign affairs. Instead of driving workers toward a leftwing revolutionary path, many support rightwing populism that has resulted in the rise of even greater oppression and exploitation. Besides nationalism identified with the powerful elites as guardians of the national interest, many among the masses believe that somehow the same social contract responsible for existing problems will provide salvation they seek. While widespread disillusionment with neoliberal globalization seems to be at the core in the rise of rightwing populism, the common denominator is downward social mobility. (Doug Miller, Can the World be Wrong ? 2015)
As Garry Jacobs argues, "Even mature democracies show signs of degenerating into their illiberal namesakes. The historical record confirms that peaceful, prosperous, free and harmonious societies can best be nurtured by the widest possible distribution of all forms of power -- political, economic, educational, scientific, technological and social -- to the greatest extent to the greatest number. The aspiration for individual freedom can only be realized and preserved when it is married with the right to social equality. The mutual interdependence of the individual and the collective is the key to their reconciliation and humanity's future. http://www.cadmusjournal.org/article/volume-3/issue-3/political-economy-neoliberalism-and-illiberal-democracy
Just as in the interwar era when many Europeans lost confidence in the rationalism of the Enlightenment and lapsed into amorality and alienation that allowed for even greater public manipulation by the hegemonic culture, in the early 21 st the neoliberal social contract with a complex matrix of communications at its disposal is able to indoctrinate on a mass scale more easily than ever. Considering the low level of public trust in the mainstream media that most people regardless of political/ideological position view as propaganda rather than informational, cynicism about national and international institutions prevails. As the fierce struggle for power among mainstream political parties competing to manage the state on behalf of capital undercuts the credibility of the political class, rightwing elements enter the arena as 'outsider' messiahs above politics (Bonapartism in the 21 st century) to save the nation, while safeguarding the neoliberal social contract. This is as evident in France where the pluralist political model of neoliberalism has strengthened the neo-Fascist one that Marine Le Pen represents, as in Trump's America where the Democratic Party's neoliberal policies helped give rise to rightwing populism.
https://www.globalresearch.ca/macronism-neoliberal-triumph-or-next-stage-in-frances-political-crisis/5596722 ; https://socialistworker.org/2016/12/05/the-18th-brumaire-of-trump
As the following article in The Economist points out, widespread disillusionment with globalist neoliberal policies drove people to the right for an enemy to blame for all the calamities that befall society. " Beset by stagnant wage growth, less than half of respondents in America, Britain and France believe that globalisation is a "force for good" in the world. Westerners also say the world is getting worse. Even Americans, generally an optimistic lot, are feeling blue: just 11% believe the world has improved in the past year. The turn towards nationalism is especially pronounced in France, the cradle of liberty. Some 52% of the French now believe that their economy should not have to rely on imports, and just 13% reckon that immigration has a positive effect on their country. France is divided as to whether or not multiculturalism is something to be embraced. Such findings will be music to the ears of Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, France's nationalist, Eurosceptic party. Current (and admittedly early) polling has her tied for first place in the 2017 French presidential race. https://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2016/11/daily-chart-12
Similar to deep-rooted cultural and ideological traits of Nazism in German society, there are similar traits in contemporary US, India and other countries where rightwing populism has found a receptive public. Although there are varieties of populism from Lepenism (Marine Le Pen's National Front) to Trumpism (US Republican Donald Trump) to Modism (India's Narendra Modi), they share common characteristics, including cult of personality as a popular rallying catalyst, promoting hatred and marginalization of minority groups, and promising to deliver a panacea to "society" when in fact their policies are designed to strengthen big capital.
Rightwing populist politicians who pursue neoliberal policies are opportunistically pushing the political popular base toward consolidation of a Fascist movement and often refer to themselves as movement rather than a party. Just as there were liberals who refused to accept the imminent rise of Fascism amid the parliamentary system's collapse in the 1920s, there are neoliberals today who refuse to accept that the global trend of populism is a symptom of failed neoliberalism that has many common characteristics with Fascism. In an article entitled "Populism is not Fascism: But it could be a Harbinger" by Sheri Berman, the neoliberal journal Foreign Affairs , acknowledged that liberal bourgeois democracy is losing its luster around the world. However, the author would not go as far as to examine the structural causes for this phenomenon because to do so would be to attack the social contract within which it operates. Treating rightwing populism as though it is a marginal outgrowth of mainstream conservatism and an aberration rather than the outgrowth of the system's core is merely a thinly veiled attempt to defend the status quo of which rightwing populism is an integral part.
Structural Exploitation under the Neoliberal Social Contract
Structural exploitation – "a property of institutions or systems in which the "rules of the game" unfairly benefit one group of people to the detriment of another" https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/exploitation/ – has been an incontrovertible reality of all class-based societiesfrom the establishment of the earliest city-states in Mesopotamia until the present.Usually but not always intertwined with social oppression, structural exploitation entails a relationship of social dominance of an elite group over the rest of society subordinated for the purpose of economic, social, political, and cultural exploitation. Legitimized by the social contract, justifications for institutional exploitation include safety and security of country, eliminating impediments to progress, and emulating nature's competitive forces that exist in the animal kingdom and reflect human nature.
From Solon's laws in 6 th century BC Athens until our contemporary neoliberal era, social contract theory presumes that the state is the catalyst for social harmony if not fairness and not for a privileged social class to exploit the rest of society. No legal system has ever been codified that explicitly states its goal is to use of the state as an instrument of exploitation and oppression. In reality however, from ancient Babylon when King Hammurabi codified the first laws in 1780 B.C. until the present when multinational corporations and wealthy individuals directly or through lobbyists exert preponderate influence in public policy the theoretical assumption is one of fairness and justice for all people as a goal for the social contract.
In the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – biotechnology, nanotechnology, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence – presumably to serve mankind as part of the social contract rather than to exploit more thoroughly and marginalize a large segment of humanity, the persistence of structural exploitation and oppression challenges those with a social conscience and morality rooted in humanist values to question what constitutes societal progress and public interest. Liberal and Christian-Libertarian arguments about free will notwithstanding, it has always been the case that mainstream institutions and the dominant culture indoctrinate people into believing that ending exploitation by changing the social contract is a utopian dream; a domain relegated to poets, philosophers and song writers lacking proper grounding in the reality of mainstream politics largely in the service of the dominant socioeconomic class. The paradox in neoliberal ideology is its emphasis on free choice, while the larger goal is to mold the subjective reality within the neoliberal institutional structure and way of life. The irreconcilable aspects of neoliberalism represent the contradictory goals of the desire to project democratic mask that would allow for popular sovereignty while pursuing capital accumulation under totalitarian methods. http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_contractarianism.html ' http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tippling/2017/05/15/indoctrination-and-free-will/
Social cooperation becomes dysfunctional when distortions and contradictions within the system create large-scale social marginalization exposing the divergence between the promise of the neoliberal social contract and the reality in peoples' lives. To manage the dysfunction by mobilizing popular support, the political elites of both the pluralist and the authoritarian-populist wing operating under the neoliberal political umbrella compete for power by projecting the image of an open democratic society. Intra-class power struggles within the elite social and political classes vying for power distracts from social exploitation because the masses line behind competing elites convinced such competition is the essence of democracy. As long as the majority in society passively acquiesces to the legitimacy of the social contract, even if in practice society is socially unjust, the status quo remains secure until systemic contradictions in the political economy make it unsustainable. https://mises.org/library/profound-significance-social-harmony
In the last three centuries, social revolutions, upheavals and grassroots movements have demonstrated that people want a social contract that includes workers, women, and marginalized groups into the mainstream and elevates their status economically and politically. In the early 21 st century, there are many voices crying out for a new social contract based on social justice and equality against neoliberal tyranny. However, those faint voices are drowned against the preponderate neoliberal public policy impacting every sector while shaping the individual's worldview and subjective reality. The triumph of neoliberal orthodoxy has deviated from classical liberalism to the degree that dogmatism 'single-thought' process dominates not just economics, not just the social contract, but the very fabric of our humanity. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/21598282.2013.761449?journalCode=rict20 ; https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/aug/18/neoliberalism-the-idea-that-changed-the-world
Under neoliberalism, "Uberization" as a way of life is becoming the norm not just in the 'financialization' neoliberal economy resting on speculation rather than productivity but in society as well. The neoliberal ideology has indoctrinated the last two generations that grew up under this system and know no other reality thus taking for granted the neoliberal way of life as natural as the air they breathe. Often working two jobs, working overtime without compensation or taking work home just to keep the job has become part of chasing the dream of merely catching up with higher costs of living. People have accepted perpetual work enmeshed with the capitalist ideology of perpetual economic growth perversely intertwined with progress of civilization. The corporate ideology of "grow or die" at any cost is in reality economic growth confined to the capitalist class, while fewer and fewer people enjoy its fruits and communities, cities, entire countries under neoliberal austerity suffer.
Carl Boggs, The End of Politics: Corporate Power and the Decline of the Public Sphere , 2000; https://monthlyreview.org/2007/04/01/the-financialization-of-capitalism/ ; https://permaculturenews.org/2012/06/15/myth-of-perpetual-growth-is-killing-america/
The incentive for conformity is predicated on the belief that the benefits of civilization would be fairly distributed if not in the present then at some point in the future for one's children or grandchildren; analogous to living a virtuous life in order to enjoy the rewards after death. As proof that the system works for the benefit of society and not just the capitalist class, neoliberal apologists point to stock market gains and surprisingly there is a psychological impact – the wealth effect – on the mass consumer who feels optimistic and borrows to raise consumption. Besides the fact that only a very small percentage of people on the planet own the vast majority of securities, even in the US there is no correlation between stock market performance and living standards. (John Seip and Dee Wood Harper, The Trickle Down Delusion , 2016)
If we equate the stock market with the 'wealth of the nation', then in 1982 when the S & P index stood at 117 rising to 2675 in December 2017, the logical conclusion is that living standards across the US rose accordingly. However, this is the period when real incomes for workers and the middle class actually declined despite sharp rise in productivity and immense profits reflected in the incomes gap reflected in the bottom 90% vs. the top 10%. This is also the period when we see the striking divergence between wealth accumulation for the top 1% and a relative decline for the bottom 90%. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/17/upshot/income-inequality-united-states.html ; https://ourworldindata.org/income-inequality/
A research study compiled by the pro-organized labor non-profit think tank 'Economic Policy Institute' stresses the divergence between productivity and real wages. While the top 0.01% of America's experienced 386% income growth between 1980 and 1914, the bottom 90% suffered 3% real income drop. Whereas in 1980 income share for the bottom 90% stood at 65% and for the top 1% it stood at 10%, by 2014 the bottom 90% held just half of the income, while the top 1% owned 21%. This dramatic income divergence, which has been shown in hundreds of studies and not even neoliberal billionaires deny their validity, took place under the shift toward the full implementation of the neoliberal social contract. It is significant to note that such income concentration resulting from fiscal policy, corporate subsidy policy, privatization and deregulation has indeed resulted in higher productivity exactly as neoliberal apologists have argued. However, higher worker productivity and higher profits has been made possible precisely because of income transfer from labor to capitalist. http://www.epi.org/publication/charting-wage-stagnation/ ; https://aneconomicsense.org/2015/07/13/the-highly-skewed-growth-of-incomes-since-1980-only-the-top-0-5-have-done-better-than-before/
"Real hourly compensation of production, nonsupervisory workers who make up 80 percent of the workforce, also shows pay stagnation for most of the period since 1973, rising 9.2 percent between 1973 and 2014.Net productivity grew 1.33 percent each year between 1973 and 2014, faster than the meager 0.20 percent annual rise in median hourly compensation. In essence, about 15 percent of productivity growth between 1973 and 2014 translated into higher hourly wages and benefits for the typical American worker. Since 2000, the gap between productivity and pay has risen even faster. The net productivity growth of 21.6 percent from 2000 to 2014 translated into just a 1.8 percent rise in inflation-adjusted compensation for the median worker (just 8 percent of net productivity growth).Since 2000, more than 80 percent of the divergence between a typical (median) worker's pay growth and overall net productivity growth has been driven by rising inequality (specifically, greater inequality of compensation and a falling share of income going to workers relative to capital owners).Over the entire 1973–2014 period, rising inequality explains over two-thirds of the productivity–pay divergence. " (Josh Bivens and Lawrence Mishel, "Understanding the Historic Divergence Between Productivity and a Typical Worker's Pay Why It Matters and Why It's Real" in Economic Policy Institute, 2015, http://www.epi.org/publication/understanding-the-historic-divergence-between-productivity-and-a-typical-workers-pay-why-it-matters-and-why-its-real/
The average corporate tax rate in the world has been cut in half in the last two decades from about 40% to 22%, with the effective rate actually paid lower than the official rate. This represents a massive transfer of wealth to the highest income brackets drained from the working class. More than half-a-century ago, American anthropologist Jules Henry wrote that: "The fact that our society places no limit on wealth while making it accessible to all helps account for the 'feverish' quality Tocqueville sensed in American civilization." Culture Against Man (1963). The myth that the neoliberal policies in the information age lead toward a society richer for all people is readily refuted by the reality of huge wealth distribution gaps resulting from 'informational capitalism' backed by the corporate welfare state.
Capital accumulation not just in the US but on a world scale without a ceiling has resulted in more thorough exploitation of workers and in a less socially just society today than in the early 1960s when Jules Henry was writing and it is headed increasingly toward authoritarian models of government behind the very thin veneer of meaningless elections. Against this background of unfettered neoliberalism, social responsibility is relegated to issues ranging from corporate-supported sustainable development in which large businesses have a vested interest as part of future designs on capital accumulation, to respecting lifestyle and cultural and religious freedoms within the existing social contract. (Dieter Plehwe et al. eds., Neoliberal Hegemony , 2006; Carl Ferenbach and Chris Pinney, " Toward a 21st Century Social Contract" Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Vol. 24, No 2, 2012; http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1745-6622.2012.00372.x/abstract
At its Annual conference in 2017 where representatives from the 'Fortune 500', academia, think tanks, NGOs, and government, business consultancy group BSR provided the following vision under the heading "A 21 st Century Social Contract" : "The nature of work is changing very rapidly. Old models of lifelong employment via business and a predictable safety net provided by government are no longer assured in a new demographic, economic, and political environment. We see these trends most clearly in the rise of the "gig economy," in which contingent workers (freelancers, independent contractors, consultants, or other outsourced and non-permanent workers) are hired on a temporary or part-time basis. These workers make up more than 90 percent of new job creation in European countries, and by 2020, it is estimated that more than 40 percent of the U.S. workforce will be in contingent jobs." https://bsr17.org/agenda/sessions/the-21st-century-social-contract
Representing multinational corporate members and proud sponsors of sustainable development solutions within the neoliberal model, BSR applauded the aspirations and expectations of today's business people that expect to concentrate even more capital as the economy becomes more 'UBERized' and reliant on the new digital technology. Despite fear and anxiety about a bleak techno-science future as another mechanism to keep wages as close to subsistence if not below that level as possible, peoples' survival instinct forces them to adjust their lives around the neoliberal social contract. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/531726/technology-and-inequality/
Reflecting the status quo, the media indoctrinate people to behave as though systemic exploitation, oppression, division, and marginalization are natural while equality and the welfare of the community represent an anathema to bourgeois civilization. What passes as the 'social norm', largely reflects the interests of the socioeconomic elites propagating the 'legitimacy' of their values while their advocates vilify values that place priority on the community aspiring to achieve equality and social justice. (Robert E. Watkins, " Turning the Social Contract Inside Out: Neoliberal Governance and Human Capital in Two Days, One Night" , 2016).
The neoliberal myth that the digital technological revolution and the 'knowledge based economy' (KBE) of endless innovation is the catalyst not only to economic growth but to the preservation of civilization and welfare of society has proved hollow in the last four decades. Despite massive innovation in the domain of the digital and biotech domains, socioeconomic polarization and environmental degradation persist at much higher rates today than in the 1970s. Whether in the US, the European Union or developing nations, the neoliberal promise of 'prospering together' has been a farce. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tsq.12106/full ; http://www.ricerchestoriche.org/?p=749
Neoliberal myths about upward linear progress across all segments of society and throughout the world notwithstanding, economic expansion and contraction only result in greater capital concentration. "The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have taken a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, pulled out all 43,060 multinational corporations and the share ownerships linking them to construct a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company's operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power.The model revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships. Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What's more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world's large blue chip and manufacturing firms, the "real" economy, representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a super-entity of 147 even more tightly knit companies (all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity) that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. "In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network." https://weeklybolshevik.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/imperialism-and-the-concentration-of-capital/ http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1107/1107.5728v2.pdf .
With each passing recessionary cycle of the past four decades working class living standards have retreated and never recovered. Although the techno-science panacea has proved a necessary myth and a distraction from the reality of capital concentration, considering that innovation and technology are integral parts of the neoliberal system, the media, politicians, business elites, corporate-funded think tanks and academics continue to promote the illusive 'modernist dream' that only a small segment of society enjoys while the rest take pride living through it vicariously. ( Laurence Reynolds and Bronislaw Szerszynski, "Neoliberalism and technology: Perpetual innovation or perpetual crisis?"
Rooted in militarism and police-state policies, the culture of fear is one of the major ways that the neoliberal regime perpetually distracts people from structural exploitation and oppression in a neoliberal society that places dogmatic focus on atomism. Despite the atomistic value system as an integral part of neoliberalism, neoliberals strongly advocate a corporate state welfare system. Whether supporting pluralism and diversity or rightwing populists, neoliberals agree that without the state buttressing the private sector, the latter will collapse. Author of Liberalism in the Shadow of Totalitarianism (2007) David Ciepley argues in "The Corporate Contradictions of Neoliberalism" that the system's contradictions have led to the authoritarian political model as its only option moving forward.
"Neoliberalism was born in reaction against totalitarian statism, and matured at the University of Chicago into a program of state-reduction that was directed not just against the totalitarian state and the socialist state but also (and especially) against the New Deal regulatory and welfare state. It is a self-consciously reactionary ideology that seeks to roll back the status quo and institutionalize (or, on its own understanding, re-institutionalize) the "natural" principles of the market. But the contradiction between its individualist ideals and our corporate reality means that the effort to institutionalize it, oblivious to this contradiction, has induced deep dysfunction in our corporate system, producing weakened growth, intense inequality, and coercion. And when the ideological support of a system collapses -- as appears to be happening with neoliberalism -- then either the system will collapse, or new levels of coercion and manipulation will be deployed to maintain it. This appears to be the juncture at which we have arrived." https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2017/05/corporate-contradictions-neoliberalism/
Adhering to a tough law-and-order policy, neoliberals have legalized large-scale criminal activity perpetrated by capitalists against society while penalizing small-scale crimes carried out mostly by people in the working class and the marginalized lumpenproletariat . Regardless of approaches within the neoliberal social contract, neoliberal politicians agree on a lengthy prison sentences for street gangs selling narcotics while there is no comparable punishment when it comes to banks laundering billions including from narcotics trafficking, as Deutsche Bank among other mega banks in the US and EU; fixing rates as Barclays among others thus defrauding customers of billions; or creating fake accounts as Wells Fargo , to say nothing of banks legally appropriating billions of dollars from employees and customers and receiving state (taxpayer) funding in times of 'banking crises'. Although it seems enigmatic that there is acquiescence for large scale crimes with the institutional cover of 'legitimacy' by the state and the hegemonic culture, the media has conditioned the public to shrug off structural exploitation as an integral part of the social contract. http://theweek.com/articles/729052/brief-history-crime-corruption-malfeasance-american-banks ; https://www.globalresearch.ca/corruption-in-the-european-union-scandals-in-banking-fraud-and-secretive-ttip-negotiations/5543935
Neoliberalism's reach does not stop with the de-criminalization of white-collar crime or the transfer of economic policy from the public sector to corporations in order to reverse social welfare policies. Transferring sweeping policy powers from the public to the corporate sector, neoliberalism's tentacles impact everything from labor and environment to health, education and foreign policy into the hands of the state-supported corporate sector in an effort to realize even greater capital concentration at an even greater pace. This has far reaching implications in peoples' lives around the world in everything from their work and health to institutions totalitarian at their core but projecting an image of liberal democracy on the surface. (Noam Chomsky and R. W. McChesney, Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order , 2011; Pauline Johnson, "Sociology and the Critique of Neoliberalism" European Journal of Social Theory , 2014
Comprehensive to the degree that it aims to diminish the state's role by having many of its functions privatized, neoliberalism's impact has reached into monetary policy trying to supplant it with rogue market forces that test the limits of the law and hard currencies. The creation of cryptocurrencies among them BITCOIN that represents the utopian dream of anarcho-libertarians interested in influencing if not dreaming of ultimately supplanting central banks' role in monetary policy is an important dimension of neoliberal ideology. Techno-utopians envisioning the digital citizen in a neoliberal society favor a 'gypsy economy' operating on a digital currency outside the purview of the state's regulatory reach where it is possible to transfer and hide money while engaging in the ultimate game of speculation. ( https://btctheory.com ; Samuel Valasco and Leonardo Medina, The Social Nature of Cryptocurrencies , 2013)
Credited as the neoliberal prophet whose work and affiliate organizations multinational corporations funded, Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek favored market forces to determine monetary policy rather than having government in that role working behind central banks. Aside from the fact that central banks cater to capital and respond to markets and no other constituency, Hayek's proposal ( The Denationalization of Money , 1976) was intended to permit the law of the 'free market' (monetary speculation) determine policy that would impact peoples' living standards. Hence capital accumulation would not be constrained by government regulatory measures and the coordination of monetary policy between central banks. In short, the law of unfettered banking regulation would theoretically result in greater economic growth, no matter the consequences owing to the absence of banking regulatory measures that exacerbate contracting economic cycles such as in 2008. www.voltaire.org/article30058.html )
In December 2017, the UK and EU warned that cryptocurrencies are used in criminal enterprises, including money laundering and tax evasion. Nevertheless, crypto-currency reflects both the ideology and goals of capital accumulation of neoliberals gaining popularity among speculators in the US and other countries. Crypto-currencyfulfills the neoliberal speculator's dream by circumventing the IMF basket of reserved currencies on which others trade while evading regulatory constraints and all mechanisms of legal accountability for the transfer of money and tax liability.
Although a tiny fraction of the global monetary system, computer networks make crypto-currency a reality for speculators, tax evaders, those engaged in illegal activities and even governments like Venezuela under Nocolas Maduro trying to pump liquidity into the oil-dependent economy suffering from hyperinflation and economic stagnation If the crypto-currency system can operate outside the purview of the state, then the neoliberal ideology of trusting the speculator rather than the government would be proved valid about the superfluous role of central banks and monetary centralization, a process that capitalism itself created for the harmonious operation of capitalism. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/dec/04/bitcoin-uk-eu-plan-cryptocurrency-price-traders-anonymity ; http://www.lanacion.com.ar/2099017-venezuela-inflacion-nicolas-maduro-crisis-precios
Indicative of the success of the neoliberal ideology's far reaching impact in economic life cryptocurrencies' existencealso reflects the crisis of capitalism amid massive assaults on middle class and working class living standards in the quest for greater capital concentration. In an ironic twist, the very neoliberal forces that promote cryptocurrencies decry their use by anti-Western nations – Iran, Venezuela, and Russia among others.The criticism of anti-Western governments resorting to cryptocurrenciesis based on their use as a means of circumventing the leverage that reserve currencies like the dollar and euro afford to the West over non-Western nations. This is only one of a few contradictions that neoliberalism creates and undermines the system it strives to build just as it continues to foster its ideology as the only plausible one to pursue globally. Another contradiction is the animosity toward crypto-currencies from mainstream financial institutions that want to maintain a monopoly on government-issued currency which is where they make their profits. As the world's largest institutional promoter of neoliberalism, the IMF has cautioned not to dismiss cryptocurrencies because they could have a future, or they may actually 'be the future'. https://www.coindesk.com/bitcoins-unlimited-potential-lies-in-apolitical-core/ ; http://fortune.com/2017/10/02/bitcoin-ethereum-cryptocurrency-imf-christine-lagarde/
After the "Washington Consensus" of 1989, IMF austerity policies are leverage to impose neoliberal policies globally have weakened national institutions from health to education and trade unions that once formed a social bond for workers aspiring to an integrative socially inclusive covenant in society rather than marginalization. The IMF uses austerity policies for debt relief as leverage to have the government provide more favorable investment conditions and further curtail the rights of labor with everything from ending collective bargaining to introducing variations of "right-to-work" laws" that prohibit trade unions from forcing collective strikes, collecting dues or signing the collective contract. Justified in the name of 'capitalist efficiency', weakening organized labor and its power of collective bargaining has been an integral part of the neoliberal social contract as much in the US and UK as across the rest of the world, invariably justified by pointing to labor markets where workers earn the lowest wages. (B. M. Evans and S. McBride, Austerity: The Lived Experience , 2017; Vicente Berdayes, John W. Murphy, eds. Neoliberalism, Economic Radicalism, and the Normalization of Violence , 2016).
Although many in the mainstream media took notice of the dangers of neoliberalism leading toward authoritarianism after Trump's election, a few faint voices have been warning about this inevitability since the early 1990s. Susan George, president of the Transnational Institute, has argued that neoliberalism is contrary to democracy, it is rooted in Social Darwinism, it undermines the liberal social contract under which that people assume society operates, but it is the system that governments and international organization like the IMF have been promoting.
"Over the past twenty years, the IMF has been strengthened enormously. Thanks to the debt crisis and the mechanism of conditionality, it has moved from balance of payments support to being quasi-universal dictator of so-called "sound" economic policies, meaning of course neo-liberal ones. The World Trade Organisation was finally put in place in January 1995 after long and laborious negotiations, often rammed through parliaments which had little idea what they were ratifying. Thankfully, the most recent effort to make binding and universal neo-liberal rules, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, has failed, at least temporarily. It would have given all rights to corporations, all obligations to governments and no rights at all to citizens. The common denominator of these institutions is their lack of transparency and democratic accountability. This is the essence of neo-liberalism. It claims that the economy should dictate its rules to society, not the other way around. Democracy is an encumbrance, neo-liberalism is designed for winners, not for voters who, necessarily encompass the categories of both winners and losers."
Those on the receiving end of neoliberalism's Social Darwinist orientation are well aware of public policy's negative impact on their lives but they feel helpless to confront the social contract. According to opinion polls, people around the world realize there is a huge gap between what political and business leaders, and international organizations claim about institutions designed to benefit all people and the reality of marginalization. The result is loss of public confidence in the social contract theoretically rooted in consent and democracy. "When elected governments break the "representative covenant" and show complete indifference to the sufferings of citizens, when democracy is downgraded to an abstract set of rules and deprived of meaning for much of the citizenry, many will be inclined to regard democracy as a sham, to lose confidence in and withdraw their support for electoral institutions. Dissatisfaction with democracy now ranges from 40 percent in Peru and Bolivia to 59 percent in Brazil and 62 percent in Colombia. (Boron, "Democracy or Neoliberalism", http://bostonreview.net/archives/BR21.5/boron.html )
Not just in developing nations operating under authoritarian capitalist model to impose neoliberal policies, but in advanced countries people recognize that the bourgeois freedom, democracy and justice are predicated on income. Regardless of whether the regime operates under a pluralistic neoliberal regime or rightwing populist one, the former much more tolerant of diversity than the latter, the social contract goals are the same. In peoples' lives around the world social exploitation has risen under neoliberal policies whether imposed the nation-state, a larger entity such as the EU, or international organizations such as the IMF. Especially for the European and US middle class, but also for Latin American and African nations statistics show that the neoliberal social contract has widened the poor-rich gap.
In a world where the eight wealthiest individuals own as much wealth as the bottom 50% or 3.6 billion people, social exploitation and oppression has become normal because the mainstream institutions present it in such light to the world and castigate anyone critical of institutionalized exploitation and oppression. Rightwing populist demagogues use nationalism, cultural conservatism and vacuous rhetoric about the dangers of big capital and 'liberal elites' to keep the masses loyal to the social contract by faulting the pluralist-liberal politicians rather than the neoliberal social contract. As the neoliberal political economy has resulted in a steady rising income gap and downward social mobility in the past three decades, it is hardly surprising that a segment of the masses lines behind rightwing populist demagogues walking a thin line between bourgeois democracy and Fascism.
(Alan Wertheimer, Exploitation , 1999; Ruth J. Sample, Exploitation; What is it and why it is Wrong , 2003; http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/31/investing/wells-fargo-fake-accounts/index.html ; https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/5/14/1662227/-Was-suicide-of-Deutsche-Bank-executive-linked-to-Trump-and-Russia-money-laundering
Seizing power from sovereign states, multinational corporation are pursuing neoliberal policy objectives on a world scale, prompting resistance to the neoliberal social contract which rarely class-based and invariably identity-group oriented manifested through environmental, gender, race, ethnicity, gay, religious and minority groups of different sorts. Regardless of the relentless media campaign to suppress class consciousness, workers are aware that they have common interests and public opinion studies reveal as much. (Susan George, Shadow Sovereigns: How Global Corporations are seizing Power , 2015)
According to the Pew Research center, the world average for satisfaction with their governments are at 46%, the exact percentage as in the US that ranks about the same as South Africa and much lower than neighboring Canada at 70% and Sweden at 79%. " Publics around the globe are generally unhappy with the functioning of their nations' political systems. Across the 36 countries asked the question, a global median of 46% say they are very or somewhat satisfied with the way their democracy is working, compared with 52% who are not too or not at all satisfied. Levels of satisfaction vary considerably by region and within regions. Overall, people in the Asia-Pacific region are the most happy with their democracies. At least half in five of the six Asian nations where this question was asked express satisfaction. Only in South Korea is a majority unhappy (69%).
As confounding as it appears that elements of the disillusioned middle class and working class opt either for the exploitation of pluralist neoliberalism or the exploitation and oppression of rightwing populism expressed somewhat differently in each country, it is not difficult to appreciate the immediacy of a person's concerns for survival like all other species above all else. The assumption of rational behavior in the pursuit of social justice is a bit too much to expect considering that people make irrational choices detrimental to their best interests and to society precisely because the dominant culture has thoroughly indoctrinated them. It seems absurd that indirectly people choose exploitation and oppression for themselves and others in society, but they always have as the dominant culture secular and religious indoctrinates them into accepting exploitation and oppression. (Shaheed Nick Mohammed, Communication and the Globalization of Culture , 2011)
Throughout Western and Eastern Europe rightwing political parties are experiencing a resurgence not seen since the interwar era, largely because the traditional conservatives moved so far to the right. Even the self-baptized Socialist parties are nothing more than staunch advocates of the same neoliberal status quo as the traditional conservatives. The US has also moved to the right long before the election of Donald Trump who openly espouses suppression of certain fundamental freedoms as an integral part of a pluralistic society. As much as in the US and Europe as in the rest of the world, analysts wonder how could any working class person champion demagogic political leaders whose vacuous populist rhetoric promises 'strong nation" for all but their policies benefit the same socioeconomic elites as the neoliberal politicians.(J. Rydgren (Ed.), Class Politics and the Radical Right , 2012)
Rooted onclassical liberal values of the Enlightenment, the political and social elites present a social contract that is theoretically all-inclusive and progressive, above all 'fair' because it permits freedom to compete, when in reality the social structure under which capitalism operates necessarily entails exploitation and oppression that makes marginalization very clear even to its staunchest advocates who then endeavor to justify it by advancing theories about individual human traits.
In 2012 the United States spent an estimated 19.4% of GDP on such social expenditures, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Paris-based industrial country think tank. Denmark spent 30.5%, Sweden 28.2% and Germany 26.3%. All of these nations have a lower central government debt to GDP ratio than that of the United States. Why the United States invests relatively less in its social safety net than many other countries and why those expenditures are even at risk in the current debate over debt reduction reflect Americans' conflicted, partisan and often contradictory views on fairness, inequality, the role and responsibility of government and individuals in society and the efficacy of government action. Rooted in value differences, not just policy differences, the debate over the U.S. social contract is likely to go on long after the fiscal cliff issue has been resolved." http://www.pewglobal.org/2013/01/15/public-attitudes-toward-the-next-social-contract/
The neoliberal model of capitalism spewing forth from core countries to the periphery and embraced by capitalists throughout the world has resulted in greater social inequality, exploitation and oppression, despite proclamations that by pluralist-diversity neoliberals presenting themselves as remaining true to 'democracy'. The tilt to the right endorsed at the ballot box by voters seeking solutions to systemic problems and a more hopeful future indicates that some people demand exclusion and/or punishment of minority social groups in society, as though the exploitation and oppression of 'the other' would vicariously elevate the rest of humanity to a higher plane. Although this marks a dangerous course toward authoritarianism and away from liberal capitalism and Karl Popper's 'Open Society' thesis operating in a pluralistic world against totalitarianism, it brings to surface the essence of neoliberalism which is totalitarian, the very enemy Popper and his neoconservative followers were allegedly trying to prevent. (Calvin Hayes, Popper, Hayek and the Open Society , 2009)
Social Exclusion, Popular Resistanceand the Future of Neoliberalism
Every sector of society from the criminal justice system to elderly care has been impacted by neoliberal social marginalization. More significant than any other aspect of neoliberalism, the creation of a chronic debtor classwithout any assets is floating a step above the structurally unemployed and underemployed.The Industrial revolution exacerbated social exclusion producing an underclass left to its own fate by a state that remained faithful to the social contract's laissez philosophy. Composed of vagrants, criminals, chronically unemployed, and people of the streets that British social researcher Henry Mayhew described in London Labour and the London Poor , a work published three years after the revolutions of 1848 that shattered the liberal foundations of Europe, the lumpenproletariat caught the attention of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels ( The German Ideology ) interested in the industrial working class movement as the vanguard of the revolution.
Lacking a class consciousness thus easily exploited by the elites the lumpenproletariat were a product of industrial capitalism's surplus labor that kept wages at or just above subsistence levels, long before European and American trade union struggles were able to secure a living wage.In the last four decades neoliberal policies have created a chronic debtor working class operating under the illusion of integration into the mainstream when in fact their debtor status not only entails social exclusion but relegated to perpetual servitude dependence and never climbing out of it. The neoliberal state is the catalyst to the creation of this new class. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-20/a-164-year-old-idea-helps-explain-the-huge-changes-sweeping-the-world-s-workforce
In an essay entitled "Labour Relations and Social Movements in the 21st Century"
Portuguese social scientists Elísio Estanque and Hermes Augusto Costa argue that the manner that neoliberalism has impacted Europe's social structure in both core and periphery countries has given rise to the new precarious working class, often college-degreed, overqualified, and struggling to secure steady employment especially amid recessionary cycles that last longer and run deeper.
"The panorama of a deep economic crisis which in the last few decades has hit Europe and its Welfare state in particular has had an unprecedented impact on employment and social policies. The neoliberal model and the effects of deregulated and global finance not only question the "European social model" but push sectors of the labour force – with the youngest and well-qualified being prominent – into unemployment or precarious jobs. the sociological and potential socio-political significance of these actionsparticularly as a result of the interconnections that such movements express, both in the sphere of the workplace and industrial system or whether with broader social structures, with special emphasis on the middle classes and the threats of 'proletarianization' that presently hang over them. labour relations of our time are crossed by precariousness and by a new and growing "precariat" which also gave rise to new social movements and new forms of activism and protest." http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/34149/InTech-Labour_relations_and_social_movements_in_the_21st_century.pdf
'Proletarization' of the declining middle class and downward income pressure for the working class and middle classhas been accompanied by the creation of a growing chronic debtor class in the Western World. Symptomatic of the neoliberal globalist world order, the creation of the debtor class and more broadly social exclusion transcends national borders, ethnicity, gender, culture, etc. Not just at the central government level, but at the regional and local levels, public policy faithfully mimics the neoliberal model resulting in greater social exclusion while there is an effort to convince people that there is no other path to progress although people were free to search; a dogma similar to clerical intercession as the path to spiritual salvation. http://www.isreview.org/issues/58/feat-economy.shtml
The neoliberal path to salvation has resulted in a staggering 40% of young adults living with relatives out of financial necessity. The number has never been greater at any time in modern US history since the Great Depression, and the situation is not very different for Europe. Burdened with debt, about half of the unemployed youth are unable to find work and most that work do so outside the field of their academic training. According to the OECD, youth unemployment in the US is not confined only to high school dropouts but includes college graduates. Not just across southern Europe and northern Africa, but in most countries the neoliberal economy of massive capital concentration has created a new lumpenproletariat that has no assets and carries debt. Owing to neoliberal policies, personal bankruptcies have risen sharply in the last four decades across the Western World reflecting the downward social mobility and deep impact on the chronically indebted during recessionary cycles. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/04/53-of-recent-college-grads-are-jobless-or-underemployed-how/256237/ ; https://www.cbsnews.com/news/for-young-americans-living-with-their-parents-is-now-the-norm/ ; Iain Ramsay, Personal Insolvency in the 21st Century: A Comparative Analysis of the US and Europe, 2017)Historically, the safe assumption has been that higher education is the key to upward social mobility and financial security, regardless of cyclical economic trends. However, the laws of overproduction apply not only to commodities but to the labor force, especially as the information revolution continues to chip away at human labor. College education is hardly a guarantee to upward social mobility, but often a catalyst to descent into the debtor unemployed class,or minimum wage/seasonalpart time job or several such jobs. The fate of the college-educated falling into the chronic debtor class is part of a much larger framework, namely the 'financialization' of the economy that is at the core of neoliberalism. ( Vik Loveday, "Working-class participation, middle-class aspiration? Value, upward mobility and symbolic indebtedness in higher education."The Sociological Review , September 2014) Beyond the simplisticsuggestion of 'more training' to keep up with tech changes, the root cause of social exclusion and the chronic debtor class revolves around the 'financialization' of the neoliberal globalist economy around which central banks make monetary policy. Since the beginning of the Thatcher-Reagan era, advanced capitalist countries led by the US conducted policy to promote the centrality of financial markets as the core of the economy. This entails resting more on showing quarterly profit even at the expense of taking on debt, lower productivity and long-term sustainability, or even breaking a company apart and dismissing workers because it would add shareholder value. Therefore, the short-term financial motives and projection of market performance carry far more weight than any other consideration.
Symptomatic of a combination of deregulation and the evolution of capitalism especially in core countries from productive to speculative, financialization has transformed the world economy. Enterprises from insurance companies to brokerage firms and banks like Goldman Sachs involved in legal and quasi-legal practices, everything from the derivatives market to helping convert a country's sovereign debt into a surplus while making hefty profits has been part of the financialization economy that speeds up capital concentration and creates a wider rich-poor gap. Housing, health, pension systems, health care and personal consumption are all impacted by financialization that concentrates capital through speculation rather than producing anything from capital goods to consumer products and services. (Costas Lapavitsas, The Financialization of Capitalism: 'Profiting without producing' http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13604813.2013.853865
Billionaire speculator George Soros has observed that market speculation not only drives prices higher, especially of commodities on a world scale, but the inevitability of built-in booms and busts are disruptive simply because a small group of people have secured a legal means for capital accumulation. At the outbreak of the US stock market collapse followed by the 'great recession' of 2008, the European Network and Debt and Development (EURODAD) published an article critical of financialization and its impact on world hunger.
"Do you enjoy rising prices? Everybody talks about commodities – with the Agriculture Euro Fund you can benefit from the increase in value of the seven most important agricultural commodities." With this advertisement the Deutsche Bankt tried in spring 2008 to attract clients for one of its investment funds. At the same time, there were hunger revolts in Haiti, Cameroon and other developing countries, because many poor could no longer pay the exploding food prices. In fact, between the end of 2006 and March 2008 the prices for the seven most important commodities went up by 71 per cent on average, for rice and grain the increase was 126 per cent. The poor are most hit by the hike in prices. Whereas households in industrialised countries spend 10 -20 per cent for food, in low-income countries they spend 60 – 80 per cent. As a result, the World Bank forecasts an increase in the number of people falling below the absolute poverty line by more than 100 million. Furthermore, the price explosion has negative macroeconomic effects: deterioration of the balance of payment, fuelling inflation and new debt." http://eurodad.org/uploadedfiles/whats_new/news/food%20speculation%202%20pager%20final.pdf
Someone has to pay for the speculative nature of financialization, and the labor force in all countries is the first to do so through higher indirect taxes, cuts in social programs and jobs and wages for the sake of stock performance. Stock markets around which public policy is conducted have eroded the real economy while molding a culture of financialization of the last two generations a large percentage of which has been swimming in personal debt reflecting the debt-ridden financialization economy. Contrary to claims by politicians, business leaders and the media that the neoliberal system of financialization is all about creating jobs and helping to diffuse income to the middle class and workers, the only goal of financialization is wealth concentration while a larger debtor class and social marginalization are the inevitable results. It is hardly surprising that people world-wide believe the political economy is rigged by the privileged class to maintain its status and the political class is the facilitator. http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/41359-financialization-has-turned-the-global-economy-into-a-house-of-cards-an-interview-with-gerald-epstein ; Costas Lapavitsa, Financialization in Crisis, 2013; Rona Foroohar, Makers and Takers: How Wall Street Destroyed Main Street , 2016)
Despite efforts by pluralist and populist neoliberals throughout the world to use 'culture wars' and identity politics as distractionwhile deemphasizing the role of the state as the catalyst in the neoliberal social contract, the contradictions that the political economy exposes the truth about the socially unjustsociety that marginalizes the uneducated poor and college-educated indebted alike.Not to deemphasize the significance of global power distribution based on the Westphalian nation-state model and regional blocs such as the European Union, but neoliberals are the ones who insist on the obsolete nation-state that the international market transcends, thus acknowledging the preeminence of capitalism in the social contract and the subordination of national sovereignty to international capital and financialization of the economy. After all, the multinational corporation operating in different countries is accountable only to its stockholders, not to the nation-state whose role is to advance corporate interests.
No matter how rightwing populists try to distract people from the real cause of social exclusion and marginalization by focusing onnationalist rhetoric, marginalized social groups and Muslim or Mexican legal or illegal immigrantshave no voice in public policy but financialization speculators do. In an article entitled "The Politics of Public Debt: Neoliberalism, capitalist development, and the restructuring of the state", Wolfgang Streeck concludes that neoliberalism's systemic rewards provide a disincentive for capitalists to abandon financialization in favor of productivity. "Why should the new oligarchs be interested in their countries' future productive capacities and present democratic stability if, apparently, they can be rich without it, processing back and forth the synthetic money produced for them at no cost by a central bank for which the sky is the limit, at each stage diverting from it hefty fees and unprecedented salaries, bonuses and profits as long as it is forthcoming -- and then leave their country to its remaining devices and withdraw to some privately owned island?
An important difference between pluralists and rightwing populists in their approach to the state's role is that the former advocate for a strong legislative branch and weaker executive, while rightwing populists want a strong executive and weak legislative. However, both political camps agree about advancing market hegemony nationally and internationally and both support policies that benefit international and domestic capital, thus facilitating the convergence of capitalist class interests across national borders with the symptomatic results of social exclusion. ( http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016718508000924 ; Vicente Navarro, "The Worldwide Class Struggle" https://monthlyreview.org/2006/09/01/the-worldwide-class-struggle/
Regardless of vacuous rhetoric about a weak state resulting from neoliberal policies, the state in core countries where financialization prevailshas been and remains the catalyst for class hegemony as has been the case since the nascent stage of capitalism. Both Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan strengthened the corporate welfare state while openly declaring war against trade unions and by extension on the working class that neoliberals demonize as the enemy of economic progress. As statistics below illustrate, the debtor class expanded rapidly after 1980 when the financialization economy took off, reaching its highest point after the subprime-induced great recession in 2008. Under neoliberal globalist policies, governments around the world followed theReagan-Thatcher model to facilitate over-accumulation of capital in the name of competition. (Montgomerie Johnna, Neoliberalism and the Making of the Subprime Borrower , 2010)
Whether the state is promoting neoliberal policies under a pluralist or authoritarian models, the neoliberal culture has designated labor as the unspoken enemy, especially organized labor regardless of whether the ruling parties have co-opted trade unions. In the struggle for capital accumulation under parasitic financialization policies, the state's view of labor as the enemy makes social conflict inevitable despite the obvious contradiction that the 'enemy-worker' is both the mass consumer on whom the economy depends for expansion and development. Despite this contradiction, neoliberals from firms such as Goldman Sachs has many of its former executives not just in top positions of the US government but world-wide, no matter who is in power. Neoliberal policy resulting in social exclusion starts with international finance capitalism hiding behind the pluralist and rightwing populist masks of politicians desperately vying for power to conduct public policy.
Just as the serfs were aware in the Middle Ages that Lords and Bishops determined the fate of all down here on earth before God in Heaven had the last word, people today realize the ubiquitous power of capitalists operating behind the scenes, and in some case as with Trump in the forefront of public-policy that results in social exclusion and rising inequality in the name of market fundamentalism promising to deliver the benefits to all people. Neoliberalism has created a chronicdebtor class that became larger after the 2008 recession and will continue growing with each economic contracting cycle in decades to come. Despite its efforts to keep one step ahead of bankruptcy, the identity of the new chronic debtor class rests with the neoliberal status quo, often with the rightwing populist camp that makes rhetorical overtures to the frustrated working classthat realize financialization benefits a small percentage of wealthy individuals.
Personal debt has skyrocketed, reaching $12.58 trillion in the US in 2016, or 80% of GDP. The irony is that the personal debt level is 2016 was the highest since the great recession of 2008 and it is expected to continue much higher, despite the economic recovery and low unemployment. Wage stagnation and higher costs of health, housing and education combined with higher direct and indirect taxes to keep public debt at manageable levels will continue to drive more people into the debtor class. Although some European countries such as Germany and France have lower household debt relative to GDP, all advanced and many developing nations have experienced a sharp rise in personal debt because of deregulation, privatization, and lower taxes on the wealthy with the burden falling on the mass consumer. Hence the creation of a permanent debtor class whose fortunes rest on maintaining steady employment and/or additional part-time employment to meet loan obligations and keep one step ahead of declaring bankruptcy. Austerity policies imposed either by the government through tight credit in advanced capitalist countries or IMF loan conditionality in developing and semi-developed nations the result in either case is lower living standards and a rising debtor class. http://fortune.com/2017/02/19/america-debt-financial-crisis-bubble/
Maurizio Lazzarato's The Making of the Indebted Man: An Essay on the Neoliberal Condition argues that neoliberalism has created a debtor-creditorrelationship which has supplanted the worker-capitalist dichotomy, an argument that others focusing on the financialization of the economy have made as well. Although in Keynesian economics public and private debt was a stimulant for capitalist growth amid the contracting cycle of the economy, the neoliberal era created the permanent chronic debtor class that finds it difficult to extricate itself from that status. Evident after the deep recession of the subprime-financialization-induced recession in 2008, this issue attracted the attention of some politicians and political observers who realized theconvergence of the widening debtor class with the corresponding widening of the rich-poor income gap.
By making both private and public debt, an integral part of the means of production, the neoliberal system has reshaped social life and social relationships because the entire world economy is debt-based. Servicing loans entails lower living standards for the working class in advanced capitalist countries, and even lower in the rest of the world, but it also means integrating the debtor into the system more closely than at any time in history. While it is true that throughout the history of civilization human beings from China and India to Europe have used various systems of credit to transact business (David Graeber, Debt: the First 5000 Years , 2014), no one would suggest reverting back to debt-slavery as part of the social structure. Yet, neoliberalism has created the 'indebted man' as part of a policythat has resulted in social asymmetrical power,aiming to speed up capital accumulation and maintain market hegemony in society while generating greater social exclusion. https://marxandphilosophy.org.uk/reviewofbooks/reviews/2013/87E0
Ever since the British Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in 1807, followed by a number of other European governments in the early 1800s, there was an assumption that slave labor is inconsistent with free labor markets as well as with the liberal social contract rooted in individual freedom. Nevertheless, at the core of neoliberal capitalismUS consumer debt as of October 2017 stood at $3.8 trillion in a 419 trillion economy. Debt-to-personal income ratio is at 160%; college student debt runs at approximately $1.5 trillion, with most of that since 2000; mortgage debt has tripled since 1955, with an alarming 8 million people delinquent on their payments and the foreclosure rate hovering at 4.5% or three times higher than postwar average; consumer debt has risen 1,700 since 1971 to above $1 trillion, and roughly half of Americans are carrying monthly credit debt with an average rate of 14%. The debt problem is hardly better for Europe where a number of countries have a much higher personal debt per capita than the US.In addition to personal debt, public debt has become a burden on the working class in so far as neoliberal politicians and the IMF are using as a pretext to impose austerity conditions, cut entitlements and social programs amid diminished purchasing power because of inflationary asset values and higher taxes. https://www.thebalance.com/consumer-debt-statistics-causes-and-impact-3305704 ; https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/17/business/dealbook/household-debt-united-states.html
While personal debt is often but not always a reflection of a consumerist society, personal debt encompasses everything from education to health care costs in times when the digital/artificial intelligence economy is creating a surplus labor force that results in work instability and asymmetrical social relations. Technology-automation-induced unemployment driving down living standards creates debtor-workers chasing the technology to keep up with debt payments in order to survive until the next payment is due. Considering the financial system backed by a legal framework is established to favor creditors, especially given the safeguards and protections accorded to creditors in the past four decades, there are many blatant and overt ways that the state uses to criminalize poverty and debt. In 2015, for example, Montana became the first state not to take the driver's license of those delinquent on their student debt, thus decriminalizing debt in this one aspect, though hardly addressing the larger issue of the underlying causes of debt and social exclusion. https://academiccommons.columbia.edu/catalog/ac:4b8gtht779 ; https://lumpenproletariat.org/tag/neoliberalism/
In an article entitled "Torturing the Poor, German-Style" , Thomas Klikauer stressed that the weakening of the social welfare state took place under the Social Democratic Party (SPD)-Green Party coalition (1998-2005) government pursuing pluralist neoliberal policies. Although historically the SPD had forged a compromise that would permit for the social inclusion of labor into the institutional mainstream, by the 1990s, theSPD once rooted in socialism had fully embraced neoliberalism just as the British Labour Party and all socialist partiers of Europe pursuing social exclusion. Klilauer writes: "Germany's chancellor [Gerhard] Schröder (SPD) –known as the "Comrade of the Bosses"– no longer sought to integrate labour into capitalism, at least not the Lumpenproletariat or precariate . These sections of society are now deliberately driven into mass poverty, joining the growing number of working poor on a scale not seen in Germany perhaps since the 1930s." https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/20/torturing-the-poor-german-style/
No different than working class people in other countries need more than one job to keep up with debt and living expenses, so do three million Germans (rising from 150,000 in 2003) that have the privilege of living in Europe's richest nation. Just as the number of the working poor has been rising in Germany, so have they across the Western World. Social exclusion and the expansion of the debtor class in Germany manifested itself in the national elections of 2017 where for the first time since the interwar era a political party carrying the legacy of Nazism, the Alternative fur Deutchland (AfD), founded by elite ultra-conservatives, captured 13% of the vote to become third-largest party and giving a voice of neo-Nazis who default society's neoliberal ills to Muslims and immigrants. Rejecting the link between market fundamentalism that both the SPD and German conservatives pursued in the last three decades, neoliberal apologists insist that the AfD merely reflects a Western-wide anti-Muslim trend unrelated to social exclusion and the policies that have led to Germany's new lumpenproletariat and working poor. https://crimethinc.com/2017/10/01/the-rise-of-neo-fascism-in-germany-alternative-fur-deutschland-enters-the-parliament ; https://www.jku.at/icae/content/e319783/e319785/e328125/wp59_ger.pdf
Interestingly, US neoliberal policies also go hand-in-hand with Islamophobia and the war on terror under both Democrat and Republican administrations, although the pluralist-diversity neoliberals have been more careful to maintain a politically-correct rhetoric. Just as in Germany and the rest of Europe, there is a direct correlation in the US between the rise in social exclusion ofMuslim and non-Muslim immigrants and minorities and the growing trend of rightwing populism. There is no empirical foundationto arguments that rightwing populism whether in Germany or the US has no historical roots and it is unconnected both to domestic and foreign policies. Although the neoliberal framework in which rightwing populism operates and which creates social exclusion and the new chronic debtor class clashes with neoliberal pluralism that presents itself as democratic, structural exploitation is built into the social contract thus generating grassroots opposition.
Grassroots Resistance to Neoliberalism
Even before the great recession of 2008, there were a number of grassrootsgroups against neoliberal globalism both in advanced and developing nations. Some found expression in social media, others at the local level focused on the impact of neoliberal policies in the local community, and still others attempted to alter public policy through cooperation with state entities and/or international organizations. The most important anti-neoliberal grassroots organizations have been in Brazil ( Homeless Workers' Movement and Landless Workers' Movement), South Africa (Abahlali baseMjondolo, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, Landless Peoples' Movement), Mexico (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), Haiti (Fanmi Lavalas) and India (Narmada Bachao Andolan).
The vast majority of organizations claiming to be fighting against neoliberal policies are appendages either of the pluralist or the rightwing populist political camp both whose goal is to co-opt the masses as part of their popular base. The anti-globalization movement and by implication anti-neoliberal includes elements from the entire political spectrum from left to ultra-right. From India, to Bangladesh, from South Africa to Brazil, and from the US, France, and the UK, working class resistance to neoliberal globalism has been directly or indirectly co-opted and often de-politicized by corporate-funded or government-funded NGOs and by 'reformist' local and international organizations.
https://ssir.org/articles/entry/a_neoliberal_takeover_of_social_entrepreneurship ; http://anticsr.com/ngos-csr/
By promoting measures invariably in the lifestyle domain but also some social welfare and civil rights issues such as women's rights, renter's rights, etc, the goals of organizations operating within the neoliberal structure is not social inclusion by altering the social contract, but sustaining the status quo by eliminating popular opposition through co-optation. It is hardly a coincidence that the rise of the thousands of NGOs coincided with the rise of neoliberalism in the 1990s, most operating under the guise of aiding the poor, protecting human rights and the environment, and safeguarding individualism. Well-funded by corporations, corporate foundations and governments, NGOs are the equivalent of the 19 th century missionaries, using their position as ideological preparatory work for Western-imposed neoliberal policies. http://socialistreview.org.uk/310/friends-poor-or-neo-liberalism ; https://zeroanthropology.net/2014/08/28/civil-society-ngos-and-saving-the-needy-imperial-neoliberalism/
On the receiving end of corporate and/or government-funded NGOs promoting the neoliberal agenda globally, some leading grassroots movements that advocate changing the neoliberal status quo contend that it is better to 'win' on a single issue such as gay rights, abortion, higher minimum wage, etc. at the cost of co-optation into neoliberal system than to have nothing at all looking in from the outside. Their assumption is that social exclusion can be mitigated one issue at a time through reform from within the neoliberal institutional structure that grassroots organizations deem as the enemy. This is exactly what the pluralist neoliberals are promoting as well to co-opt grassroots opposition groups.
Partly because governmental and non-governmental organizations posing as reformist have successfully co-opted grassroots movements often incorporating them into the neoliberal popular base, popular resistance has not been successful despite social media and cell phones that permit instant communication. This was certainly the case with the Arab Spring uprisings across North Africa-Middle East where genuine popular opposition to neoliberal policies of privatization, deregulation impacting everything from health care toliberalizing rent controls led to the uprising. In collaboration with the indigenous capitalists, political and military elites, Western governments directly and through NGOs were able to subvert and then revert to neoliberal policies once post-Arab Spring regimes took power in the name of 'reform' invariably equated with neoliberal policies. https://rs21.org.uk/2014/10/06/adam-hanieh-on-the-gulf-states-neoliberalism-and-liberation-in-the-middle-east/
In "Dying for Growth: Global Inequality and the Health of the Poor" Jim Yong Kim ed., 2000) contributing authors illustrate in case studies of several countries how the neoliberal status quo has diminished the welfare of billions of people in developing nations for the sake of growth that simply translates into even greater wealth concentration and misery for the world's poor. According to the study: "100 countries have undergone grave economic decline over the past three decades. Per capita income in these 100 countries is now lower than it was 10, 15, 20 or in some cases even 30 years ago. In Africa, the average household consumes 20 percent less today than it did 25 years ago. Worldwide, more than 1 billion people saw their real incomes fall during the period 1980-1993." http://www.mit.edu/~thistle/v13/2/imf.html
Anti-neoliberal groups assume different forms, depending on the nation's history, social and political elites, the nature of institutions and the degree it has been impacted by neoliberal policies that deregulate and eliminate as much of the social safety net as workers will tolerate. Even the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) that experienced rapid growth from the early 1990s until the great recession of 2008 have not escaped mass opposition to neoliberalism precisely because the impact on workers and peasants has been largely negative. https://www.cpim.org/views/quarter-century-neo-liberal-economic-policies-unending-distress-and-peasant-resistance ; Juan Pablo Ferrero, Democracy against Neoliberalism in Argentina and Brazil, 2014; Mimi Abramovitz and Jennifer Zelnick, " Double Jeopardy: The Impact of Neoliberalism on Care Workers in the United States and South Africa" , http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.2190/HS.40.1.f
Grassroots organizations opposed to policies that further integrate their countries into the world economy and marginalize the working class have been especially persistent in South Africa, Brazil, and India. To assuage if not co-opt the masses the BRICS followed a policy mix that combines neoliberalism, aspects of social welfare and statism. Combined with geopolitical opposition to US-NATO militarism and interventionism, the BRICS policies were an attempt to keep not just the national bourgeois loyal but the broader masses by projecting a commitment to national sovereignty.
In Brazil, India and South Africa internal and external corporate pressure along with US, EU, and IMF-World Bank pressures have been especially evident to embrace neoliberal policies and confront grassroots opposition rather than co-opt it at the cost of making concessions to labor. Considering that the development policies of the BRICS in the last three decades of neoliberal globalism accommodated domestic and foreign capital and were not geared to advance living standards for the broader working class and peasantry, grassroots opposition especially in Brazil, India and South Africa where the state structure is not nearly as powerful as in Russia and China manifested itself in various organizations.
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=12129 ; Walden Bello, The BRICS: Challenges to the Global Status Quo" , in https://www.thenation.com/article/brics-challengers-global-status-quo/
One of the grassroots organizations managing to keep its autonomy is Brazil's Landless Workers Movement (MST)skillfully remaining independent of both former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff. Although the MST supported some policies of theformer presidents who presented themselves as champions of labor rather than capital, both Lula and Rousseff made substantial policy compromises with the neoliberal camp and were eventually implicated in corruption scandals revealing opportunism behind policy-making. While the record of their policies on the poor speaks for itself, the Lula-Rousseff era of Partido dos Trabalhadores was an improvement over previous neoliberal president Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2003). https://monthlyreview.org/2017/02/01/the-brazilian-crisis/
The MST persisted with the struggle against neoliberal policies that have contributed to rising GDP heavily concentrated among the national and comprador bourgeoisie and foreign corporations. Other Latin American grassroots movements have had mixed results not much better than those in Brazil. Ecuador under president Rafael Correa tried to co-opt the leftby yielding on some policy issues as did Lula and Rousseff, while pursuing a neoliberal development model as much as his Brazilian counterparts. With its economy thoroughly integrated into the US economy, Mexico is a rather unique case where grassroots movements against neoliberalism are intertwined with the struggle against official corruption and the narco-trade resulting in the assassination of anti-neoliberal, anti-drug activists. (William Aviles, The Drug War in Mexico: Hegemony and Global Capitalism ;
Anti-neoliberal resistance in the advanced countries has not manifested itself as it has in the developing nations through leftist movements such as South Africa's Abahlali baseMjondolo or Latin American trade unions that stress a working class philosophy of needs rather than the one of rights linked to middle class property and identity politics. https://roarmag.org/essays/south-africa-marikana-anc-poor/ Popular resistance to neoliberalism in the US has been part of the anti-globalization movement that includes various groups from environmentalists to anti-IMF-World Bank and anti-militarism groups.
Although there are some locally based groups like East Harlem-based Justice in El Barrio representing immigrants and low-income people, there is no national anti-neoliberal movement. Perhaps because of the war on terror, various anti-establishment pro-social justice groups assumed the form of bourgeois identity politics of both the Democratic Party and the Republican where some of the leaders use rightwing populism as an ideological means to push through neoliberal policies while containing grassroots anger resulting from social exclusion and institutional exploitation. https://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/the-legacy-of-anti-globalization
Black Lives Matter revolving around the systemic racism issue and Occupy Wall Street anti-capitalist group fell within the left orbit of the Democratic Party (Senator Bernie Sanders) who is an advocate of the pluralist-diversity model, opposes market fundamentalism,and proposes maintaining some vestiges of the Keynesian welfare state. With the exception of isolated voices by a handful of academics and some criticsusing social media as a platform, there is no anti-neoliberal grassroots movement that Democrats or Republicans has not successfully co-opted. Those refusing to be co-opted are invariably dismissed as everything from idealists to obstructionists. Certainlythere is nothing in the US like the anti-neoliberal groups in Brazil, India, Mexico, or South Africa operating autonomously and resisting co-optation by political parties. The absence of such movements in the US is a testament to the strong state structure andthe institutional power of the elites in comparison with many developing nations and even some parts of Europe. https://www.salon.com/2015/08/15/black_lives_matter_joins_a_long_line_of_protest_movements_that_have_shifted_public_opinion_most_recently_occupy_wall_street/
As an integrated economic bloc, Europe follows uniform neoliberal policies using as leverage monetary and trade policy but also the considerable EU budget at its disposal for subsidies and development. A number of European trade unions and leftist popular groups fell into the trap of following either Socialist or centrist parties which are pluralist neoliberal and defend some remnants of Keynesianism. Those disillusioned with mainstream Socialist Parties pursue the same neoliberal policies of social exclusion as the conservatives fell in line behind newly formed non-Communist reformist parties (PODEMOS in Spain, SYRIZA in Greece, for example) with a Keynesian platform and socialist rhetoric.
As the government of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras proved once in power in 2015, self-baptized 'leftist' parties areleftist in rhetoric only. When it comes to policy they are as neoliberal as the opposition they criticize; even more dangerous because they have deceived people to support them as the alternative to neoliberal conservatives. Because grassroots movements andthe popular base of political parties that promise 'reform' to benefit the masses are co-opted by centrists, center-left or rightwing political parties, social exclusion becomes exacerbated leading to disillusionment.
Consequently,people hoping for meaningful change become apathetic or they become angry and more radicalized often turning to rightwing political parties. Although there is a long-standing history of mainstream political parties co-opting grassroots movements, under neoliberalism the goal is to shape them intoan identity politics mold under the pluralist or rightwing populist camp. Behind the illusion of choice and layers of bourgeois issues ranging from property rights and individual rights rests a totalitarian system whose goal is popular compliance. https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/eliane-glaser/elites-right-wing-populism-and-left ;
'De-democratization' under Neoliberalism
More subtly and stealthily interwoven into the institutional structure than totalitarian regimes of the interwar era, neoliberal totalitarianism has succeeded not because of the rightwing populist political camp but because of the pluralist one that supports both militarism in foreign affairs and police-state methods at home as a means of maintaining the social order while projecting the façade of democracy. Whereas the neoliberal surveillance state retains vestiges of pluralism and the façade of electoral choice, the police state in interwar Germany and Italy pursued blatant persecution of declared ideological dogmatism targeting 'enemies of the state' and demanding complete subjugation of citizens to theregime. Just as people were manipulated in interwar Europeinto accepting the totalitarian state as desirable and natural, so are many in our time misguided into supporting neoliberal totalitarianism.
In her book entitled Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution (2015), Wendy Brown argues that not just in the public sector, but in every sector of society neoliberal ideology of 'de-democratization' prevails. Extensions of a hierarchical economic system rather than citizens with civil and human rights guaranteed by a social contract aimed at the welfare of the collective, human beings are more commoditized today than they were in the nascent phase of industrial capitalism. The kind of ubiquitous transformation of the individual's identity with the superstructure and the 'de-democratization' of society operating under massively concentrated wealth institutionally intertwined with political power in our contemporary erawas evident in totalitarian countries during the interwar era.
Whereas protest and resistance, freedom of expression and assembly were not permitted by totalitarian regimes in interwar Europe, they are permitted in our time. However, they are so marginalized and/or demonized when analyzing critically mainstream institutions and the social contract under which they operate that they are the stigmatizedas illegitimate opposition. Permitting freedom of speech and assembly, along with due process and electoral politicsbest servesneoliberal socioeconomic totalitarianism because its apologists can claim the system operates in an 'open society'; a term that Karl Popper the ideological father of neo-conservatism coined to differentiate the West from the former Communist bloc closed societies.
As Italian journalist Claudio Hallo put it: "If the core of neoliberalism is a natural fact, as suggested by the ideology already embedded deep within our collective psyche, who can change it? Can you live without breathing, or stop the succession of days and nights? This is why Western democracy chooses among the many masks behind which is essentially the same liberal party. Change is not forbidden, change is impossible. Some consider this feature to be an insidious form of invisible totalitarianism. " https://www.rt.com/op-edge/171240-global-totalitarianism-change-neoliberalism/
Post-modern consumerist culture has inculcated into peoples' minds that they have never been so free yet they have never felt so helpless, as Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman has commented. Freedom is quantitatively measured based on materialist criteria at the individual rather than collective level and at a cost not just to the rest of society but to one's humanity and any sense of social responsibility sacrificed in the quest for atomistic pursuit.Not only the media, but government at all levels, educational institutions and the private sector incessantly reinforce the illusion of individual freedom within the context of the neoliberal totalitarian institutional structure. This is a sacred value above all others, including knowledge, creativity, and the welfare of society as a whole (public interest supplanted by private profit), as though each individual lives alone on her/his planet. https://thehumanist.com/magazine/march-april-2015/arts_entertainment/what-about-me-the-struggle-for-identity-in-a-market-based-society ; https://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/04/american-nightmare-the-depravity-of-neoliberalism/ ; https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/29/neoliberalism-economic-system-ethics-personality-psychopathicsthic ; https://www.academia.edu/28509196/Neoliberal_Illusions_of_Freedom
In an essay entitled "The unholy alliance of neoliberalism and postmodernism" , Hans van Zon argues that as the Western World'sdominant ideologies since the 1980s, "undermine the immune system of society, neoliberalism by commercialization of even the most sacred domains and postmodernism by its super-relativism and refusal to recognize any hierarchy in value or belief systems." http://www.imavo.be/vmt/13214-van%20Zon%20postmodernism.pdf . Beyond undermining society's immune system and the open society under capitalism, asHans van Zon contends, the convergence of these ideologies have contributed to the 'de-democratization' of society,the creation of illiberal institutions and collective consciousness of conformity to neoliberal totalitarianism. The success of neoliberalism inculcated into the collective consciousness is partly because of the long-standing East-West confrontation followed by the manufactured war on terror. However, it is also true that neoliberal apologists of both the pluralist and rightwing camp present the social contract as transcending politics because markets are above states, above society as 'objective' thus they can best determine the social good on the basis of commoditized value. (Joshua Ramsay, "Neoliberalism as Political Theology of Chance: the politics of divination." https://www.nature.com/articles/palcomms201539
An evolutionary course, the 'de-democratization' of society started in postwar US that imposed transformation policy on the world with the goal of maintaining its economic, political, military and cultural superpower hegemony justified in the name of anti-Communism. Transformation policy was at the root of the diffusion of the de-democratization process under neoliberalism, despite the European origin of the ideology. As it gradually regained its status in the core of the world economy after the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957, northwest Europe followed in the path of the US. http://www.eurstrat.eu/the-european-neoliberal-union/
Ten years before the Treaty of Rome that created the EEC,Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek gathered a number of scholars in Mont Pelerin where they founded the neoliberal society named after the Swiss village. They discussed strategies of influencing public policy intended to efface the Keynesian model on which many societies were reorganized to survive the Great Depression. Financed by some of Europe's wealthiest families, the Mont Pelerin Society grew of immense importance after its first meeting which coincided with the anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act, the Truman Doctrine formalizing the institutionalization of the Cold War, and the Marshall Plan intended to reintegrate Europe and its colonies and spheres of influence under the aegis of the US. Helped along by the IMF, World Bank, and the International Agreement on Tariffs and Trade established in 1947, US transformation policy was designed to shape the world to its own geopolitical and economic advantage based on a neo-classical macroeconomic and financial theoretical model on which neoliberal ideology rested. http://fpif.org/from_keynesianism_to_neoliberalism_shifting_paradigms_in_economics/
Considering that millionaires and billionaires providefunding for the Mont Pelerin Society and affiliates, this prototype neoliberal think tank became the intellectual pillar of both the pluralist and rightwing neoliberal camps by working with 460 think tanks that have organizations in 96 countries where they influence both centrist and rightwing political parties. Whether Hillary Clinton's and Emmanuel Macron's pluralist neoliberal globalist version or Donald Trump's and Narendra Modi's rightwing populist one, the Mont Pelerin Society and others sharing its ideology and goals exercise preeminent policy influence not on the merit of its ideas for the welfare of society but because the richest people from rightwing Czech billionaire Andrej Babisto liberal pluralist billionaireseither support its principles and benefit from their implementation into policy. (J. Peterson, Revoking the Moral Order: The Ideology of Positivism and the Vienna Circle , 1999; https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/09/rise-of-the-davos-class-sealed-americas-fate
If the neoliberal social contract is the answer to peoples' prayers world-wide as Hayek's followers insist, why is there a need on the part of the state, international organizations including UN agencies, billionaire and millionaire-funded think tanks, educational institutions and the corporate and state-owned media to convince the public that there is nothing better for society than massive capital concentration and social exclusion, and social conditions that in some respects resemble servitude in Medieval Europe? Why do ultra-rightwing Koch brothers and the Mercer family, among other billionaires and millionaires fromNorth America, Europe, India, South Korea and Latin America spend so much money to inculcate the neoliberal ideology into the collective consciousness andto persuade the public to elect neoliberal politicians either of the pluralist camp or the authoritarian one?
http://www.businessinsider.com/michael-bloomberg-forbes-rupert-murdoch-billionaires-2011-3 ; https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/01/no-one-knows-what-the-powerful-mercers-really-want/514529/
Seventy years after Hayek formed the Mont Leperin Societyto promotea future without totalitarianism, there are elected neoliberal politicians from both the pluralist and authoritarian camps with ties to big capital and organized crime amid the blurring lines between legal and illegal economic activities that encompasses everything from crypto-currency and insider trading to offshore 'shell corporations' and banks laundering money for drug lords and wealthy tax evaders. Surrender of popular sovereignty through the social contract now entails surrender to a class of people who are criminals, not only based on a social justice criteria but on existing law if it were only applied to them as it does to petty thieves. In the amoral Machiavellian world of legalized "criminal virtue" in which we live these are the leaders of society.Indicative of the perversion of values now rooted in atomism and greed, the media reports with glowingly admiring terms that in 2017 the world's 500 richest people became richer by $1 trillion, a rise that represents one-third of Africa's GDP and just under one-fifth of Latin America's. Rather than condemning mal-distribution ofincome considering what it entails for society, the media and many in the business of propagating for neoliberalism applaud appropriation within the legal framework of the social contract as a virtue. http://www.hindustantimes.com/business-news/500-richest-people-became-1-trillion-richer-in-2017-mukesh-ambani-tops-indian-list/story-JcNXhH9cCp2pzRopkoFdfL.html ; Bob Brecher, "Neoliberalism and its Threat to Moral Agency" in Virtue and Economy . ed. Andrius Bielskis and Kelvin Knight, 2015)
Neoliberalism has led to the greater legitimization of activities that would otherwise be illegal to the degree that the lines between the legitimate economy and organized criminal activity are blurred reflecting the flexible lines between legally-financed millionaire-backed elected officials and those with links to organized crime or to illegal campaign contributions always carrying an illegal quid-pro-quo legalized through public policy. Beyond the usual tax-haven suspects Panama, Cyprus, Bermuda, Malta, Luxemburg, among othersincluding states such as Nevada and Wyoming, leaders from former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to President Donald Trump with reputed ties to organized criminal networks have benefited from the neoliberal regime that they served. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/254953831_Economic_Crime_and_Neoliberal_Modes_of_Government_The_Example_of_the_Mediterranean )
Self-righteous pluralist neoliberals castigate rightwing billionaires for funding rightwing politicians. However, there is silence when it comes to the millions amassed by pluralist neoliberals as the infamous "Panama Papers" revealed in 2016. Despite the institutionalized kleptocracy, the mediahas indoctrinated the public to accept as 'normal' the converging interests of the capitalist class and ruling political class just as it has indoctrinated the public to accept social exclusion, social inequality, and poverty as natural and democratic; all part of the social contract.( http://revistes.uab.cat/tdevorado/article/view/v2-n1-armao ; Jose Manuel Sanchez Bermudez, The Neoliberal Pattern of Domination: Capital's Reign in Decline, 2012; https://www.globalresearch.ca/neoliberalisms-world-of-corruption-money-laundering-corporate-lobbying-drug-money/5519907
The Future of Neoliberalism
After the great recession of 2008, the future of neoliberalism became the subject of debate among politicians, journalists and academics. One school of thought was that the great recession had exposed the flaws in neoliberalism thus marking the beginning of its demise. The years since 2008 proved that in a twist of irony, the quasi-statist policies of China with its phenomenal growth have actually been responsible for sustaining neoliberalism globally and not just because China has been financing US public debt by buying treasuries while the US buys products made in China. This view holds that neoliberalism will continue to thrive so as long as China continues its global ascendancy, thus the warm reception to Beijing as the new globalist hegemonic power after Trump's noise about pursuing economic nationalism within the neoliberal model. (Barry Eichengreen, Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, the Great Recession and the Uses and Misuses of History , 2016; http://www.e-ir.info/2011/08/23/has-the-global-financial-crisis-challenged-us-power-in-international-finance/ )
China is not pursuing the kind of neoliberal model that exists in the US or the EU, but its economy is well integrated with the global neoliberal system and operates within those perimeters despite quasi-statist policies also found in other countries to a lesser degree. Adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP), China's current share of world GDP stands at 16% and at annual growth above 6% it is expected to reach 20%, by 2020. This in comparison with only 1.9% in 1979 and it explains why its currency is now among the IMF-recognized reserved currencies. With about half-a-million foreign companies in China and an average of 12,000 new companies entering every day, capitalists from all over the world are betting heavily on China's future as the world's preeminent capitalist core country in the 21 st century. China will play a determining role in the course of global neoliberalism, and it is politically willing to accept the US as the military hegemon while Beijing strives for economic preeminence. Interested in extracting greater profits from China while tempering its race to number one, Western businesses and governmentshave been pressuring Beijing to become more immersed in neoliberal policies and eliminate all elements of statism. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2012-09/22/content_15775312.htm ; https://en.portal.santandertrade.com/establish-overseas/china/foreign-investment
Although the US that has 450,000 troops in 800 foreign military bases in more than 150 countries and uses its military muscle along with 'soft-power' policies including sanctions as leverage for economic power, many governments and multinational corporations consider Beijing not Washington as a source of global stability and growth. With China breathing new life into neoliberalism on the promise of geographic and social convergence, it is fantasy to speculate that neoliberalism is in decline when in fact it is becoming more forcefully ubiquitous. However, China like the West that had promised geographic and social convergence in the last four decades of neoliberalism will not be any more successful in delivering on such promises. The resultof such policies will continue to be greater polarization and social exclusion and greater uneven development, with China and multinationals investing in its enterprises becoming richer while the US will continue to use militarism as leverage to retain global economic hegemony rapidly eroding from its grip. ( http://www.businessinsider.com/us-military-deployments-may-2017-5 ; http://www.zapruderworld.org/welfare-state-decline-and-rise-neoliberalism-1980s-some-approaches-between-latin-americas-core-and ; Dic Lo, Alternatives to Neoliberal Globalization , 2012)
Between China and the US, the world can expect neoliberal globalization to continue under the pluralist and populist rightwing models in different countries with the two converging and reflecting the totalitarian essence of the system at its core.Characterized by rapid development and sluggish growth in Japan and Western core countries, neoliberal globalization has entailed lack of income convergence between the developed and developing world where uneven export-oriented growth based on the primary sector keeps developingnations perpetually dependent and poor. Interestingly, the trend of falling incomes characteristic of the developing nations from 1980 to 2000 was just as true in Western countries. It was during these two decades of ascendant neoliberalism that rightwing populist movements began to challenge the pluralist neoliberal political camp and offering nationally-based neoliberal solutions, further adding to the system's existing contradictions. (Dic Lo, Alternatives to Neoliberal Globalization , 2012)
The debate whether the rise of populism or perhaps the faint voices of anti-capitalism will finally bring about the end of neoliberalism often centers on the digital-biotech revolution often blamed for exacerbating rather than solving social problems owing to uneven benefits accruing across social classes. It is somewhat surprising that IMF economists have questioned the wisdom of pursuing unfettered neoliberalism where there is a trade-off between economic growth andsocial exclusion owing to growing income inequality. Naturally, the IMF refrains from self-criticism and it would never suggest that neoliberal globalization that the Fund has been promoting is responsible for the rise of rightwing populism around the world.
Within the neoliberal camp, pluralist-diversity advocatesare satisfied they have done their part in the 'fight for democracy' when in fact their stealthy brand of the neoliberal social contract isin some respects more dangerous than the populist camp which is unapologetically candid about its pro-big business, pro-monopoly, pro-deregulation anti-social welfare platform. Shortly after Trump won the presidential election with the help of rightwing billionaires and disillusioned workers who actually believed that he represented them rather than the billionaires, an article appearing in the Christian Science Monitor is typical of how pluralist neoliberals view the global tide of rightwing populism.
"Worldwide, it has been a rough years for democracy. The UK, the United States and Colombia made critical decisions about their nations' future, and – at least from the perspective of liberal values and social justice – they decided poorly. Beyond the clear persistence of racism, sexism and xenophobia in people's decision-making, scholars and pundits have argued that to understand the results of recent popular votes, we must reflect on neoliberalism. International capitalism, which has dominated the globe for the past three decades, has its winners and its losers. And, for many thinkers, the losers have spoken. My fieldwork in South America has taught me that there are alternative and effective ways to push back against neoliberalism. These include resistance movements based on pluralism and alternative forms of social organisation, production and consumption." https://www.csmonitor.com/Technology/Breakthroughs-Voices/2016/1206/Opposing-neoliberalism-without-right-wing-populism-A-Latin-American-guide
Without analyzing the deeper causes of the global tide of rightwing populism promoting neoliberalism under an authoritarian political platform, pluralist-diversity neoliberals continue to promote socioeconomic policies that lead to social exclusion, inequality, and uneven development as long as they satisfy the cultural-lifestyle and corporate-based sustainable-development aspects of the social contract.Tolend legitimacy and public acceptance among those expecting a commitment to pluralism, the neoliberal pluralists embrace the superficialities and distraction of diversity and political correctness. Ironically, the political correctness trend started during theReagan administration's second term and served as a substitute for social justice that the government and the private sector were rapidly eroding along with the social welfare state and trade union rights. As long as there is'politically correctness', in public at least so that people feel they are part of a 'civilized' society, then public policy can continue on the barbaric path of social exclusion, police-state methods, and greater economic inequality.
https://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/fighting-trump-right-wing-populism-vs-neoliberalism/ ; http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2056305117733226
The future of neoliberalism includes the inevitability that social exclusion will lead to social uprisings especially as even some billionaires readily acknowledge the social contract favors them to the detriment of society. As the voices against systemic exploitation become louder,the likelihood will increase for authoritarian-police state policies if not regimes reflecting the neoliberal social contract's ubiquitous stranglehold on society. Although resistance to neoliberalism will continue to grow, the prospects for a social revolution in this century overturning the neoliberal order in advanced capitalist countries is highly unlikely. Twentieth century revolutions succeeded where the state structure was weak and people recognized that the hierarchical social order was the root cause of the chasm between the country's vast social exclusion coupled with stagnation vs. its potential for a more inclusive society where greater social equality and social justice would bean integral part of the social contract. (Donna L. Chollett, Neoliberalism, Social Exclusion, and Social Movements , 2013)
Despite everything pointing to the dynamics of a continued neoliberal social contract, diehard pluralists like British academic Martin Jacques and American economist Joseph Stiglitz insist there is hope for reformist change. In The Politics of Thatcherism (1983) Jacques applauded neoliberalism, but during the US presidential election in 2016 he had changed his mind, predicting neoliberalism's demise. He felt encouraged that other pluralist neoliberals like Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz were voicing their concerns signaling an interest in the debate about social inequality. In an article entitled "The death of neoliberalism and the crisis in western politics" , he wrote: "A sure sign of the declining influence of neoliberalism is the rising chorus of intellectual voices raised against it. From the mid-70s through the 80s, the economic debate was increasingly dominated by monetarists and free marketeers." https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/21/death-of-neoliberalism-crisis-in-western-politics
Along with Krugman, Stiglitz and others in the pluralist camp favoring a policy mix that includes Keynesianism,Martin Jacques, Thomas Picketty and others like them around the world doenjoy some small influence with the pluralist-diversity camp. However, the demise of neoliberalism will not result from intellectual critiques regardless of the merits. On the contrary, the neoliberal social contract is solidifying not evolving toward dissolution. This is largely because the dynamics of the social order continue to favor it and the opposition is split between ultra-right nationalists, pluralists of varying sorts resting on hope of restoring Keynesian rationalism in the capitalist system, and the very weak and divided leftists in just about every country and especially the core ones. https://theconversation.com/if-we-are-reaching-neoliberal-capitalisms-end-days-what-comes-next-72366
Neoliberalism's inherent contradictions will result in its demise andthe transition into a new phase of capitalism. Among the most obvious and glaring contradictions is that the ideology promotes freedom and emancipation when in practice it is a totalitarian system aimed to mold society and the individual into conformity of its dogmatic market fundamentalism.Another contradiction is the emphasis of a borderless global market, while capitalists operate within national borders and are impacted by national policies that often collide at the international level as the competition intensifies for market share just as was the case in the four decades before the outbreak of WWI. Adding to the list of contradictions that finds expression the debate between neoliberal rightwingers and pluralists is the issue of "value-free" market fundamentalism while at the same time neoliberals conduct policy that has very strong moral consequences in peoples' lives precisely because of extremely uneven income distribution.
The enigma in neoliberalism's futureis the role of grassroots movements that are in a position to impact change but have failed thus far to make much impact. Most people embrace the neoliberal political parties serving the same capitalist class, operating under the illusion of a messiah politician delivering the promise of salvation either from the pluralist or authoritarian wing of neoliberalism. The turning point for systemic change emanates from within the system that fails to serve the vast majority of the people as it is riddled with contradictions that become more evident and the elites become increasingly contentious about how to divide the economic pie and how to mobilize popular support behind mainstream political parties so they can maintain the social order under an unsustainable political economy. At that juncture, the neoliberal social contract suffersan irrevocable crisis of public confidence on a mass scale. Regardless under which political regime neoliberalism operates, people will eventually reject hegemonic cultural indoctrination. A critical mass in society has not reached this juncture. Nevertheless, social discontinuity is an evolutionary process and the contradictions in neoliberalism will continue to cause political disruption, economic disequilibrium and social upheaval.
Jon V. Kofas , Ph.D. – Retired university professor of history – author of ten academic books and two dozens scholarly articles. Specializing in International Political economy, Kofas has taught courses and written on US diplomatic history, and the roles of the World Bank and IMF in the world.Share this:
- 4 Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) 4
- Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)
- Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)
- Click to print (Opens in new window)May Day in a Neoliberal Society
April 30, 2018
In "World"Trumpist-Populism, Neo-Liberalism And Anti-Semitism
May 17, 2017
In "World"The "New Normal" In Cyclical Recessions
January 22, 2018
In "World" Tags: Economy , Neoliberalism 2 Comments
- David Anderson January 11, 2018 at 3:21 pm
Neo-Liberalism in America is an underlying political philosophy based on belief in the sanctity of personal "freedom" with the conviction that this freedom is expressed through self-determination. It extends back to the early settlement and then the writing of transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) who popularized the expression "self-reliance." In the recent American election it underlay the Donald Trump code words: "what makes America great again." Ronald Reagan took advantage of it with his derisive use of the term "welfare queens." It undergirds the foundation of today's Republican Party.
It will bring an end to the American experiment.
- sundar January 13, 2018 at 3:28 pm
Very well explained and educative. Attempts to present alternatives to present neoliberal econamics. But needs several readings to digest.
Sep 07, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,
If any evidence existed to be found that Donald Trump had illegally colluded with the Russian government to rig the 2016 presidential election, that evidence would have been picked up by the sprawling surveillance networks of the US and its allies and leaked to the Washington Post before Obama left office.
Russiagate is like a mirage. From a distance it looks like a solid, tangible thing, but when you actually move in to examine it critically you find nothing but gaping plot holes, insinuation, innuendo, conflicting narratives, bizarre mental contortions to avoid acknowledging contradictory information, a few arrests for corruption and process crimes, and a lot of hot air. The whole thing has been held together by nothing but the confident-sounding assertions of pundits and politicians and sheer, mindless repetition. And, as we approach the two year mark since this president's election, we have not seen one iota of movement toward removing him from office. The whole thing's a lie, and the smart movers and shakers behind it are aware that it is a lie.
And yet they keep beating on it. Day after day after day after day it's been Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia. Instead of attacking this president for his many, many real problems in a way that will do actual damage, they attack this fake blow-up doll standing next to him in a way that never goes anywhere and never will, like a pro wrestler theatrically stomping on the canvass next to his downed foe.
What's up with that?
... ... ....
As you doubtless already know by now, the New York Times has made the wildly controversial decision to publish an anonymous op-ed reportedly authored by "a senior official in the Trump administration." The op-ed's author claims to be part of a secret coalition of patriots who dislike Trump and are "working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations." These "worst inclinations" according to the author include trying to make peace with Moscow and Pyongyang, being rude to longtime US allies, saying mean things about the media, being "anti-trade", and being "erratic". The possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment is briefly mentioned but dismissed. The final paragraphs are spent gushing about John McCain for no apparent reason.
I strongly encourage you to read the piece in its entirety, because for all the talk and drama it's generating, it doesn't actually make any sense. While you are reading it, I encourage you to keep the following question in mind: what could anyone possibly gain by authoring this and giving it to the New York Times ?
Seriously, what could be gained? The op-ed says essentially nothing, other than to tell readers to relax and trust in anonymous administration insiders who are working against the bad guys on behalf of the people (which is interestingly the exact same message of the right-wing 8chan conspiracy phenomenon QAnon, just with the white hats and black hats reversed). Why would any senior official risk everything to publish something so utterly pointless? Why risk getting fired (or risk losing all political currency in the party if NYTAnon is Mike Pence, as has been theorized ) just to communicate something to the public that doesn't change or accomplish anything? Why publicly announce your undercover conspiracy to undermine the president in a major news outlet at all?
What are the results of this viral op-ed everyone's talking about? So far it's a bunch of Democratic partisans making a lot of excited whooping noises, and Trump loyalists feeling completely vindicated in the belief that all of their conspiracy theories have been proven correct. Many rank-and-file Trump haters are feeling a little more relaxed and complacent knowing that there are a bunch of McCain-loving "adults in the room" taking care of everything, and many rank-and-file Trump supporters are more convinced than ever that Donald Trump is a brave populist hero leading a covert 4-D chess insurgency against the Deep State. In other words, everyone's been herded into their respective partisan stables and trusting the narratives that they are being fed there.
And, well, I just think that's odd.
Did you know that Donald Trump is in the WWE Hall of Fame ? He was inducted in 2013, and he's been enthusiastically involved in pro wrestling for many years, both as a fan and as a performer . He's made more of a study on how to draw a crowd in to the theatrics of a choreographed fight scene than anyone this side of the McMahon family (a member of whom happens to be part of the Trump administration currently).
You don't have to get into any deep conspiratorial rabbit hole to consider the possibility that all this drama and conflict is staged from top to bottom. Commentators on all sides routinely crack jokes about how the mainstream media pretends to attack Trump but secretly loves him because he brings them amazing ratings. Anyone with their eyes even part way open already knows that America's two mainstream parties feign intense hatred for one another while working together to pace their respective bases into accepting more and more neoliberal exploitation at home and more and more neoconservative bloodshed abroad. They spit and snarl and shake their fists at each other, then cuddle up and share candy when it's time for a public gathering. Why should this administration be any different?
I believe that a senior Trump administration official probably did write that anonymous op-ed. I do not believe that they were moved to write it out of compassion for the poor Americans who are feeling emotionally stressed about the president. I believe it was written and published for the same reason many other things are written and published in mainstream media: because we are all being played.
The more I study US politics, the less useful I find it to think of it in political terms. The two-headed one party system exists to give Americans the illusion of choice while advancing the agendas of the plutocratic class which owns and operates both parties, yes, but even more importantly it's a mechanism of narrative control. If you can separate the masses into two groups based on extremely broad ideological characteristics, you can then funnel streamlined "us vs them" narratives into each of the two stables, with the white hats and black hats reversed in each case. Now you've got Republicans cheering for the president and Democrats cheering for the CIA, for the FBI, and now for a platoon of covert John McCains alleged to be operating on the inside of Trump's own administration. Everyone's cheering for one aspect of the US power establishment or another.
Whom does this dynamic serve? Not you.
If you belonged to a ruling class, obviously your goal would be to ensure your subjects' continued support for you. In a corporatist oligarchy, the rulers are secret and the subjects don't know they're ruled, and power is held in place with manipulation and with money. As such a ruler your goal would be to find a way to manipulate the masses into supporting your agendas, and, since people are different, you'd need to use different narratives to manipulate them. You'd have to divide them, tell them different stories, turn them against each other, play them off one another, suck them in to the tales you are spinning with the theater of enmity and heroism.
As a result of the New York Times op-ed, if this administration engages in yet another of its many, many establishment capitulations (let's say by attacking the Syrian government again ), Trump's supporters won't see it as his fault; it will be blamed on the deep state insiders in his administration who have been working to thwart his agendas of peace and harmony. Meanwhile those who see Trump as a heel won't experience any cognitive dissonance if any of the establishment agendas they support are carried out, because they can give the credit to the secret hero squad in the White House.
Would a billionaire WWE Hall of Famer and United States President understand the theater of staged conflict for the advancement of plutocratic interests, and willingly participate in it? I'm going to say probably.
* * *
The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website , which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My articles are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook , following my antics on Twitter , checking out my podcast , throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal , or buying my book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers .
Sep 03, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.orgBM , Sep 3, 2018 12:54:15 PM | link
The US Department of Homeland Security fabricated "intelligence reports" of Russian election hacking in order to try to get control of the election infrastructure (probebly so that they can hack it more easily to control the election results).
How the Department of Homeland Security Created a Deceptive Tale of Russia Hacking US Voter Sites
Sep 03, 2018 | www.unz.com
The poisoning of Britain's politics
Well, if Rabbi Sacks and other Jews want anti-Semitism, I think they should look much closer to home. This is from the Jerusalem Post in 2007:
Sacks: Multiculturalism threatens democracy
Multiculturalism promotes segregation, stifles free speech and threatens liberal democracy, Britain's top Jewish official warned in extracts from [a recently published] book Jonathan Sacks, Britain's chief rabbi, defined multiculturalism as an attempt to affirm Britain's diverse communities and make ethnic and religious minorities more appreciated and respected. But in his book, The Home We Build Together: Recreating Society , he said the movement had run its course. "Multiculturalism has led not to integration but to segregation," Sacks wrote in his book, an extract of which was published in the Times of London.
"Liberal democracy is in danger," Sacks said, adding later: "The politics of freedom risks descending into the politics of fear." Sacks said Britain's politics had been poisoned by the rise of identity politics, as minorities and aggrieved groups jockeyed first for rights, then for special treatment. The process, he said, began with Jews, before being taken up by blacks, women and gays. He said the effect had been "inexorably divisive."
"A culture of victimhood sets group against group, each claiming that its pain, injury, oppression, humiliation is greater than that of others," he said. In an interview with the Times , Sacks said he wanted his book to be "politically incorrect in the highest order." ( Sacks: Multiculturalism threatens democracy , The Jerusalem Post , 20th October 2007 ; emphasis added)
So Sacks claimed that "Britain's politics had been poisoned" by a self-serving, self-pitying, self-aggrandizing ideology that "began with Jews" and had been "inexorably divisive." His claim is absolutely classic anti-Semitism, peddling a stereotype of Jews as subversive, manipulative and divisive outsiders whose selfish agitation has done huge harm to a gentile society.
Sacks was right, of course: Jews do demand special treatment and did indeed invent the "identity politics" that has poisoned British politics (and American , Australian , French and Swedish politics too).
By saying all that, Sacks was being far more "anti-Semitic" than Jeremy Corbyn was, even by the harshest interpretation of those comments on Zionists. Furthermore, Sacks has proved that Corbyn was right. Zionists do lack irony. In 2007 Sacks, a staunch Zionist, claimed that the "poisoning" of British politics "began with Jews." In 2018 he's condemning Jeremy Corbyn for saying something much milder about Zionists.
Sep 03, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Fourth Wave Feminism:Why No One Escapes Today's outsized Femocracy is more desperate and (self) destructive than it's successful progenitors. By JOANNA WILLIAMS • September 4, 2018
Feminism, in its second wave, women's liberation movement guise, has passed its first half century. And what a success it has been! Betty Friedan's frustrated housewife, bored with plumping pillows and making peanut butter sandwiches, is now a rarity. We might still be waiting for the first female president, but women -- specifically feminists -- are now in positions of power across the whole of society.
Yet feminism shows no sign of taking early retirement and bowing out, job done. Instead, it continues to reinvent itself. #MeToo is the cause du jour of fourth-wave feminism but, disturbingly, it seems to be taking us further from liberation and pushing us towards an increasingly illiberal and authoritarian future. It's time to take stock.
Over the past five decades, women have taken public life by storm. When it comes to education, employment, and pay, women are not just doing better than ever before -- they are often doing better than men too. For over a quarter of a century, girls have outperformed boys at school. Over 60 percent of all bachelor's degrees are awarded to women. More women than men continue to graduate school and more doctorates are awarded to women. And their successes don't stop when they leave education behind. Since the 1970s, there has been a marked increase in the number of women in employment and many are taking managerial and professional positions. Women now comprise just over half of those employed in management, professional, and related occupations.
Women aren't just working more, they are being paid more. Women today earn more in total than at any other point in time and they also earn more as a proportion of men's earnings. For younger women in particular, the gender pay gap is narrowing. Between 1980 and 2012, wages for men aged 25 to 34 fell 20 percent while over the same period women's pay rose by 13 percent. Some data sets now suggest that women in their twenties earn more than men the same age. Although high-profile equal pay campaigns appear to suggest otherwise, when we compare the pay of men and women employed in the same jobs and working for the same number of hours each week, the gender pay gap all but disappears. Four out of every 10 women are now either the sole or primary family earner -- a figure which has quadrupled since 1960.
But this is not just about the lives of women: it is feminism as an ideology that has been incredibly successful. For over four decades, feminist theory has shaped people's lives. Making sense of the world through the prism of gender and seeking to root out sexual inequality is now the driving force behind much that goes on in the public sphere.
Back in 1986, in one of the first examples of new legislation explicitly backed by feminists, the Supreme Court ruled that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. This has had a profound impact upon all aspects of employment legislation. As a result, a layer of managers and administrators, sometimes referred to as "femocrats," are employed to oversee sexual equality and manage sexual harassment complaints in workplaces and schools.
Elsewhere, the influence of feminism can be seen in the expansion of existing laws. When Title IX of the Education Amendments was passed in 1972 it was designed to protect people from discrimination based on sex in education programs that received federal funding. It was a significant -- and reasonably straightforward -- piece of legislation introduced at a time when women were underrepresented in higher education. It first began to take on greater significance following a 1977 case led by the feminist lawyer and academic Catharine MacKinnon in which a federal court found that colleges could be liable under Title IX not just for acts of discrimination but also for not responding to allegations of sexual harassment.
Not surprisingly, definitions of sexual harassment began to expand in the late 1970s. In education, the term came to encompass a "hostile environment" in which women felt uncomfortable because of their sex. By this measure, sexual harassment can occur unintentionally and with no specific target. Furthermore, a hostile environment might be created by students themselves irrespective of the actions of an institution's staff. As a result, colleges became responsible for policing the sexual behavior of their students too.
Pressing forward under the Obama administration, sexual misconduct cases on campuses were tried under a preponderance of the evidence standard rather than a higher standard of clear and convincing evidence. Within these extrajudicial tribunals, students -- most often young men -- could be found guilty of sexual assault or rape and expelled following unsubstantiated allegations and with little opportunity to defend themselves. Although current Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has revoked the Obama-era guidelines that instituted these kangaroo courts, many institutions under pressure to react have expanded their zero tolerance policies, often at the expense of basic due process and fairness.
In the 1970s, radical feminists opposed the Equal Rights Amendment, arguing that it individualized and deradicalized feminism. "We will not be appeased," they asserted. "Our demands can only be met by a total transformation of society, which you cannot legislate, you cannot co-opt, you cannot control."
Yet today, a feminist outlook now shapes policy, practice, and law at all levels of the government, as feminists seek to transform society through the state rather than by opposing it. Most recently this has taken form in the demand for affirmative consent, or "yes means yes," to be the standard in rape cases. This places the onus on the accused to prove they had sought and obtained consent; in other words they must prove their innocence.
This is a radical shift, yet it is being enshrined in legislation with little discussion. California and New York have passed legislation requiring colleges to adopt an affirmative consent standard in their sexual assault policies. In 2016, the American Law Institute, influential with state legislators, debated introducing an affirmative consent standard into state laws. The proposal was ultimately rejected but the fact that it was even taken seriously shows feminism's growing legal influence.
History tells us that legislation driven by feminism can have unintended consequences. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), passed in 1994 as part of President Clinton's massive $30 billion crime bill, aimed to put 100,000 police officers on the street and funded $9.7 billion for prisons. VAWA sought more prosecutions and harsher sentences for abuse in relationships. But a more intensive law enforcement focus on minority communities, coupled with mandatory arrests of both partners on the scene of a dispute, resulted in unanticipated blowback. Police were accused of over-criminalizing minority neighborhoods; critics said women were disinclined to call the police for fear of being arrested themselves. A 2007 Harvard study suggests that mandatory arrest laws may have actually increased intimate partner homicides and, separately, women of color have described violence at the hands of the arresting police officers.
Ultimately, the crime bill merely punished; it didn't help prevent domestic abuse against women.
Although all women have in some way benefited from feminism's decades-long campaign against inequality, it is clear that some -- namely middle- and upper-class college graduates -- have been more advantaged than the rest. Feminists in the 1960s argued that all women had interests in common; they shared an experience of oppression. The same can hardly be said today. An elite group of women with professional careers and high salaries has little in common with women juggling two or more jobs just to make ends meet. Yet the feminist voices that are heard most loudly continue to be those of privileged women.
High-profile feminists like Anne-Marie Slaughter, the first woman director of policy planning at the State Department, and Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, sell books and make headlines for criticizing family-unfriendly employment practices and the gender pay gap. Good for them! But remember that these women have incomes and lifestyles that put them in a different league from the vast majority of women -- and men. They identify more closely with the tiny proportion of male CEOs than they do with women who have jobs rather than careers, who wear uniforms rather than dry-clean-only suits to work, who have no time to hit the gym before heading to the office. Their push for "lean-in" circles appeals more to young college grads than women struggling just to put food on the table. Their vociferous feminist call to arms falls flat in Middle America -- yet we are told they speak for all women.
In 2018, feminists do walk the corridors of power. But in order to maintain their position and moral high ground they must deny the very power they command. For this reason, feminism can never admit its successes -- to do so would require its adherents to ask whether their job is done. For professional feminists, women who have forged their careers in the femocracy, admitting this not only puts their livelihoods at risk, but poses an existential threat to their sense of self. As a result, the better women's lives become, the harder feminists must work to seek out new realms of disadvantage.
The need to sustain a narrative of oppression explains the continued popularity of the #MeToo phenomenon. In October 2017, The New York Times ran a story alleging that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who had the power to make and break careers, had committed a number of serious sexual offenses. (The allegations against Weinstein mounted and he is now being charged with sexual assault and rape.) Over the following weeks and months, accusations of sexual misconduct were leveled against a host of other men in the public eye.
Such serious accusations need to be dealt with in the courts and, if found guilty, the perpetrators punished accordingly. But rather than arrests, trials, and criminal proceedings, #MeToo has gathered pace through social media. Actress Alyssa Milano took to Twitter on October 18 and asked women who had been sexually harassed or assaulted to "write 'me too' as a reply to this tweet." Thousands of women came forward to call out their own abusers or simply to add their names to a growing list of victims. #MeToo took on a life of its own; it readily lent itself to an already-established fourth-wave feminist narrative that saw women as victims of male violence and sexual entitlement.
Women in the public eye are now routinely asked about their own experiences of sexual harassment. Some have publicly named and shamed men they accuse of sexual assault or, as with the case of comedian Aziz Ansari, what can perhaps best be described as "ungentlemanly conduct." Others are more vague and suggest they have experienced sexual harassment in more general terms. What no woman can do -- at least not without instigating a barrage of criticism -- is deny that sexual harassment is a major problem today.
The success of #MeToo is less about real justice than the common experience of suffering and validation. It is a perfect social media vehicle to drive the fourth-wave agenda into another generation. Hollywood stars and baristas may have little in common but all women can lay claim to having experienced male violence and sexual harassment -- or, failing that, potentially experiencing abuse at some indeterminate point in the future. Statistics on domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment are used to shore up the narrative that women, as a class, suffer at the hands of men.
But scratch the surface and often these statistics are questionable. In recent years, at the hands of femocrats, definitions of violence and sexual harassment have been expanded. On campus, all kinds of behaviors, from touching through clothes to non-consensual sex, are grouped together to prove the existence of a rape culture. When sexual harassment is redefined as unwanted behavior it can encompass anything from winking, to whistling, to staring, to catcalling. There is little objectively wrong with the action -- it is simply the fact that it is unwanted that makes it abusive. Today, we are encouraged to see violence, especially violence against women and girls, everywhere: in words that wound, personified in a boorish president, in our economic and legal systems. This is violence as metaphor rather than violence as a physical blow. Yet it is a metaphor that serves a powerful purpose -- allowing all women to share in a common experience of victimhood, and, as such, justifying the continued need for elite feminism.
Problems with #MeToo are too rarely discussed. Violence and sexual assaults do occur, but these serious crimes are trivialized by being presented as on a continuum with the metaphorical abuse. The constant reiteration that women are victims and men are violent perpetrators does not, in itself, make it true. It pits men and women against each other and, in the process, infantilizes women and makes them fearful of the world. It also masks a far more positive story: rates of domestic violence have been falling. Between 1994 and 2011, the rates of serious intimate partner violence perpetrated against women -- defined as rape, sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated assault -- fell 72 percent.
The consequences of entrenching in law assumptions that women are destined to become victims of male violence and harassment are dangerously authoritarian. Feminists now look not to their own resources, or to their family and friends, but to the state to protect them. Black men in particular can find themselves disproportionately targeted by feminist-backed drives for legal retribution. A 2017 report from the National Registry of Exonerations suggests that black men serving time for sexual assault are three-and-a-half times more likely to be innocent than white defendants who have been convicted of the same crime.
In the meantime, demands for the punishment of bad behavior are inevitable. Male catcalling in the UK and France could soon be a criminal offense. While similar bans have been unsuccessful in the U.S., there are plenty of street harassment laws at the state level that feminists could co-opt if necessary. Additionally in England, there are proposals to criminalize "upskirting" or taking a photograph up a woman's skirt. Upskirting is a vile invasion of a person's privacy. However, the majority of instances are covered under existing indecency and voyeurism laws. The proposal, as with others, is a feminist signaling device: the message is, yet again, that the world is a hostile place for women and their only course of action is to seek redress from the state.
Meanwhile, working-class women are effectively exploited as a voiceless stage presence, brought on when convenient to shore up the authority of the professional feminist. On occasion this means the livelihoods of regular women are placed in jeopardy for the greater good of the collective. Earlier this year, a group of A-list Hollywood actresses petitioned against tipping waitresses in New York restaurants, arguing it was exploitive and encouraged sexual harassment. Perhaps unsurprisingly, servers shot back that they would like to continue receiving tips, thank you very much.
Fourth-wave feminism is increasingly authoritarian and illiberal, impacting speech and behavior for men and women. Campaigns around "rape culture" and #MeToo police women just as much as men, telling them how to talk about these issues. When The Handmaid's Tale author Margaret Atwood had the effrontery to advocate for due process for men accused of sex crimes, her normally adoring feminist fans turned on her. She referred to it in a Globe and Mail essay in January entitled "Am I a Bad Feminist?"
"In times of extremes, extremists win," she wrote. "Their ideology becomes a religion, anyone who doesn't puppet their views is seen as an apostate, a heretic or a traitor, and moderates in the middle are annihilated."
The fact is, men are publicly shamed every day, their livelihoods and reputations teetering on destruction, before they even enter a courtroom.
Frankly, it is disastrous for young women to be taught to see themselves as disadvantaged and vulnerable in a way that bears no relationship to reality. Whereas a previous generation of feminists fought against chaperones and curfews, today's #MeToo movement rehabilitates the argument that women need to be better protected from rapacious men, or need "safe spaces." Women come to believe that they will be harassed walking down the street, that they will be paid less than men for the same work, and that the world is set against them. The danger is that, rather than competing with men as equals, women will be so overwhelmed by the apparent size of the struggle that they will abandon all efforts and call upon external helpmates, like the state and ugly identity politics that push good men away. Women's disadvantage thus become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
All the while, the real problems experienced by many American women -- and men -- such as working long hours for a low wage and struggling to pay for child and healthcare costs, are overlooked.
When second-wave feminism burst onto the scene more than 50 years ago it was known as the women's liberation movement. It celebrated equality and powerfully proclaimed that women were capable of doing everything men did. Today, this spirit of liberation has been exchanged for an increasingly authoritarian and illiberal victim feminism. With every victory, feminism needs to reassert increasingly spurious claims that women are oppressed. For women and men to be free today, we need to bring back the spirit of the women's liberation movement. Only now it's feminism from which women need liberating.
Joanna Williams is the author of Women vs. Feminism: Why We All Need Liberating from the Gender Wars .
Sep 01, 2018 | chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com
COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN RUSSIA INSIDER
"The Russia Hoax Theme Got Started As a Dirty Trick by Hillary's 2016 Campaign
"The seed was planted and significant parts of the American voting public noticed, particularly those who believed that Hillary Clinton had the God-given right to take control of the Oval Office. One way or another, Team Hillary was going to cram the Russian narrative down our collective throats."
No question, the woman fits the description "evil," but that sure doesn't make Trump a saint by comparison.
America's tragedy – one shared by the entire world – is that this is the kind of choice American voters get, a Hillary Clinton or a Donald Trump.
No matter who wins or loses each American presidential election, the people in general lose and the establishment wins.
And right now, the American establishment likes and embraces the Clinton nonsense about Russia. It serves its current purposes. Actually, it wasn't truly Clinton's own nonsense. She was definitely feeding off a pre-existing set of attitudes in her Washington set.
So, it is more threatening than just a residual from an election campaign.
Aug 27, 2018 | chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com
COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY JUSTIN RAIMONDO IN RUSSIA INSIDER
"The New Cold War Flops, The American People Are Not Buying
"Poll shows anti-Russia campaign had little effect"
Justin Raimondo, as he has shown in other articles, often just does not "get it."
It simply does not matter whether the American public embraces the power establishment's disinformation efforts.
There is almost no connection between what average Americans want and believe and what Washington does.
And this has been true for a very long time. Did the public want the holocaust in Vietnam or a list of other horrors?
They are simply dragged along for the ride when Washington is determined to do something. They have nowhere to turn with their votes even. Republican or Democrat, the results in terms of war and empire will be the same.
The United States' power establishment doesn't care what anyone thinks anymore when it wants to do something. Oh, I'm sure they'd rather the public "bought in," but whether they do or not simply is not a "deal breaker."
Washington ignores the UN. It ignores international law. It ignores many traditions and norms. Oh, it will offer up some excuse, some flimsy excuse for what it is doing, but, in the end, it doesn't matter what the American public believes, any more than it matters what the other 95% of humanity represented by the UN believes .
The American public is virtually uninformed about what goes on abroad anyway. Their press and government representatives work hard towards that end. And the truth is the American public is largely uninterested. Bored with foreigners and even knee-jerk hostile to many. So many people also are just trying to keep body and soul together in the changed economic realities of contemporary America. They have no time to be concerned about what goes on "out there." America's establishment actually counts on such realities in its imperial calculations.
The only time America's public ever gets really worked up over such matters is when Americans die in considerable numbers. Foreigners, who cares? But America has arranged its foreign dirty work so that numbers of Americans do not die.
The numbers at a certain point during Vietnam began to generate something like the national divisions of the American Civil War. Through many mechanisms, that has never been allowed to happen again.
Look at the dirty work in Syria. We know, right now, a new phony gas attack is being planned around Idlib. There is significant intelligence on the matter. And it is only a set-up for a new round of bombing Syria, a country with which America is not legally at war and a country where it has no business having any forces without permission.
John Bolton's ugly public threat about even more devastating bombing if chemical weapons are used again -- "again," entirely begging the question of whether such weapons had ever been used by the government, with virtually all indicators saying they had not -- serves as a public invitation to the paid mercenaries in al-Nusra and such affiliates as the phony humanitarians of the White Helmets, to get on with the job of generating a needed provocation.
And will even one newspaper or network in America question the fraud? Or question the excessive response?
And what will it matter if the public supports it or not? They know absolutely nothing anyway about what goes on in Syria and America's big, long-term role in it on behalf of Israel and others, including Saudi Arabia, to work towards destroying a legitimate government and cripple a beautiful country .
Aug 31, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
LXV , Aug 31, 2018 2:26:01 AM | 81
Another sign that the political divisions are 'pretend' is that the 'Dems', the ostensive losers re. Trump, have not behaved like a political party who loses. These generally disband, retire, fold, or make efforts at reform, re-orientation etc. Renewal may be tough but they often try. (As did the Repubs after Obama's election, though the effort was incredibly weak.)
Nothing like that is going on, because the fight is not political. It is based on tribal desperate angst at the 'surprise' election of an outsider who holds cards in his hands nobody can speak about.
re Ort @ 24 who wrote:To 'True Believers', if [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] seems equivocal, or even confused, about the nature of (Democratic) socialism or expresses anodyne, conformist, safe positions, they will justify this as sensible reticence. AOC has to appeal to the elusive "center", and charm skeptical voters by not appearing unduly extreme or, God forbid, radical.
As with Obama and others similarly situated, they pretend that once the ostensible Third Way newcomer is accepted and established, they can and will gradually disclose their true political selves, and act accordingly. Regardless of how often this scenario fails to work as hoped, they remain convinced that it's both unavoidable and prudent.
Ocasio-Cortez is merely a willing actress poster-babe (she will earn a LOT). The role is not different from prancing about in lovely swish skirts on some MSM-TV series. She was selected for her looks / background (not the best re. the background, but there aren't many candidates, which is very hopeful imho), her naiveté, ignorance, and submissive stance. Some 'fake' younger figures -only women and male gays, girls are more acceptable to the general public- have to be pictured as up-n-coming Dems, in a kind of sketchy and unconvincing parade of 'diversity' and so on.
Posted by b on August 30, 2018 at 01:07 PM | Permalink
JR is spot on; The Orange Buffoon and the "witchhunt" against him (just like the "Qanon" Hollywood-style drama-thriller) are smoke and mirrors to keep the peasants occupied with bullcrap, while the cleptofascists are done robbing you blind...
The simple truth is that all "western" societies and democracies are hijacked by (((Transformer Borgs))) and, contrary to what (((snake-oil salesmen))) in $5 000 suits tell you, there is no way out of this mess through a ballot.
Aug 30, 2018 | craigmurray.org.uk
exiled off mainstreet , August 29, 2018 at 01:37
Once the spy agencies become the controlling element a government degenerates into a regime or imperium depending upon its level of power.
The rule of law is sidelined and a cynical form of dictatorship develops.
Britain, the US and all anglophone countries are exhibiting the results of this sort of evolution.
It is more dangerous now than when the historical odious tyrannies ran riot during the '30s and '40s of last century because technology has advanced to the point that their continuance is a threat to our survival as a species.
Aug 29, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Chipnik , Aug 27, 2018 1:20:33 PM | 60div
Thanks for the many replies and V for providing The Duran article link!
Long ago when I researched the Continental Congress I came across an adage about representative government: Once you elect someone your job's only begun for now you must watch him like a hawk to ensure he properly promotes your interests. I thought this the perfect description of what the citizen's job is after elections as the Congressman's now in charge of the monies you've provided the government via taxes. If your money's spent unwisely, it's your job to inform your rep that he did wrong and gets one further opportunity to redeem himself; and that if he fails again, it's your job to vote him out by finding a suitable replacement.
In other words, self-governing via the type of representative system within the USA is actually a fulltime job-- if --responsible government that serves the interests of the citizenry first is desired. That's the Civics I taught. The excuse often given that modern life leaves no time for such citizen management's a bunch of poppycock. The laziness thus implied seems to have spellbound the citizenry during the early 1900s, either before or during WW1 and has only worsened since.
Many here opine that the system must change. As the above indicates, I disagree. Citizen apathy must be arrested and turned on its head into mass citizen activism; otherwise, the system will never work as designed--nor will any other. What I've witnessed over my lifetime proves the necessity of what John Kenneth Galbraith espoused in his 1952 book American Capitalism: The Concept of Countervailing Power , which updated Madison's Checks and Balances political theory and predicted where the USA's polity would end up if the public failed to rise to the occasion and perform its job as active self-governing citizens.
Yes, today's situation is more dire than the early 1950s regarding the balance of power, but the government cannot function without citizens -- and therein lies the power vested within the public. But if the public refuses to use its power, then the government will turn them into serfs as its been steadily doing since the institution of neoliberalism under Carter.
Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 27, 2018 11:58:09 AM | 50
USA has been on a Permanent War Economy since I was born at the end of WW2. Every public national campaign of the illegitimate Deep Purple Mil.Gov UniParty Super State metastasizing has been a domestic social war, the War on Drugs, the War on Poverty, as two fine examples of their glioblastomatic spread.
They are at -$5,000B a year now bleedout of the public wealth, -$800B Deficit thanks to No Taxes for the Rich, -$22,000B National Debt and another -$500B interest-only...FOREVER...debt service to the Global Banks. You can't get any more dead busted hillbilly broke than that!
Sy Hersh says we are at war in 73 countries. There are over 700 foreign military bases and outposts. Yet many times the private economy collapsed under their pogroms, I was always able to find a mercenary contractor job with their War Machine to save myself from pushing a shopping cart of my belongings up and down the avenue.
Was just talking an hour ago with an old street chum of mine how we lived in hobo jungle wikiups made of pallets, alder branches and vizqueen after Viet Nam, and lived in yurts out in the tundra during the horror of Reagan One. Then he left the country looking for work, and I wised up. Got a cubicle at Livermore Labs on Stars Wars. It was like day and night. Now people called me sir! I set my own goals, no expectations, no deadlines. In fact, not one of Reagan's Star Wars programs ever deployed, except Patriot Missile. That's why they call it The Blue Team. It's where all your last life savings go to be interred.
Things are turning rapidly to shite, the US retail market is cratering, and energy and food is spiking. Today Trump announced a New Deal with Mexico and an end of NAFTA with Canada. With his 25% Fed VAT trade tax slush fund and his jinking Hard Right on trade to grow that tax pipeline, he has everyone chattering like gibbons about Trump's many peccadillos, ...but America is a Permanent War Economy!
Embrace the New American Century Eternal Now!
Get Blue Team, or die trying!
Aug 28, 2018 | www.unz.com
Mueller is part of the plot against Trump as is Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who appointed Mueller special prosecutor. Both are guilty of sedition as they are active participants in an organized coup to overthrow the President of the United States. But Trump is too powerless to have them arrested and put on trial for the conspiracy against democracy that they are conducting. President Trump is making a terminable mistake in trusting to facts and truth, neither of which is respected in the scant remains of Western Civilization.
Once there was hope that information available on the Internet would serve as a countervailing power to the lies told by the Western print, TV, and NPR presstitutes. But this was a vain hope. There are some good and reliable websites, increasingly being closed down by the ruling elite. The ruling elites have most of the money and can finance most of the online voices, all of which are employed for the purpose of contradicting truth.
I received today an email from RootsAction urging me to donate money to speed Trump's impeachment. The website has even prepared the Articles of Impeachment and proclaims that "Trump's Fixer Says the President Engaged in a Criminal Conspiracy to Sway the 2016 Election."
This accusation comes from one of Trump's former lawyers, Michael Cohen. They are allegations that most defense attorneys understand is Michael Cohen's effort to gain a light sentence for his income tax evasion by "composing," to use the term of Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, evidence against the man Mueller really wants -- President Trump.
I will be unequivocal. RootsAction, as is the NY Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, NPR and the rest of the media whores, is lying. To pay off two women, who might have been paid by the military/security complex, or Hillary & Bill Clinton, or the Democratic National Committee, to bring such charges or who simply saw an opportunity to collect a bunch of dollars from Donald Trump, is most certainly, most definitely not, as RootsAction claims, "the high crime and misdemeanor of attempting to fraudulently influence the outcome of a US presidential election. This is an impeahable offense warranting removal from office."
Whoever advises RootsAction is a totally incompetent attorney. Moreover, to show the utter stupidity of RootsAction's ignorant assertion, a "misdemeanor" cannot be a "high crime." A "high crime" is a "felony."
I have posted on my website statements from legal experts that there is nothing unlawful about paying off claimants. Corporations do it continually. It is much cheaper to pay off a false claim than to finance a court case to refute it. There is no reason whatsoever for a political candidate competing for a party's nomination for the presidency to be distracted by fighting court cases brought to extort money from him.
Moreover, considering the dire straints in which the American population between the two coasts has been left by decades of jobs offshoring, the government's inability to provide assistance to those millions of Americans whose living standard is dissolving because the military/security complex appropriates $1,000 billion annually from America's resources, and the Trump public's awareness that provoking Russia into war is in no one's interest, RootsAction and the rest of the imbeciles have to be crazy beyond all belief to think that that anyone who voted for Trump cared if he had sexual encounters with two women. Considering the dire straits of Americans, the last thing they would do is to vote against their champion because he had sex with two women, assuming that he did.
Yet, an unsubstantiated claim by a lawyer who did not pay his income tax, a claim made for the purpose of a light sentence in exchange for providing false evidence against the President of the United States, is now, according to RootsAction, the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, CNN, MSNBC, etc., and so on, grounds for impeaching the President of the United States who hopes to defuse the extremely dangerous tensions between Washington and Russia.
The military/security complex wants to impeach Trump because he wants peace with Russia, thus taking away the essential enemy that justifies their budget and power.
Are Americans too stupid to notice that there is not a shred of evidence of the "Russiagate" accusations? What we have in their place is income tax evasion charges, not against Trump, but against an attorney and a Republian campaign manager. More convincing charges could be brought against Democrats, but have not. The Hillary crowd of criminals has proven immune to prosecution.
No one has to approve of Trump in order to have the intelligence to see that Trump's intention to normalize relations with Russia is the world's main hope of continued existence. Once nuclear weapons go off, global warming will take on new meaning.
... ... ...
Americans are too insouciant to know it, but they are living day by day only at the mercy of Russia.
Aug 27, 2018 | www.unz.com
Spanky , says: June 8, 2018 at 6:04 pm GMTexiled off mainstreet , says: June 9, 2018 at 4:36 am GMT
Sorry Mike, what do you mean by saying the goal is to "create a center-right" Democratic Party? The Clinton's accomplished this in the 1990s -- what we have here is a full scale enfoldment of the Dems into the National Security State
Not that it matters much -- both Republicans and Democrats have been on the same page for a few decades now (since the 1940s IMHO). Inter-party politics don't matter much, except insofar as the voting public can be conned into supporting one or the other, because no matter which party holds the Congress or Presidency the same Deep State agenda is their top priority.
Why? It's simple really -- money. Big campaign donors expect "value" in return for their "political contributions". And if value isn't had for their money, the Deep State's intelligence community can usually dig up something "useful" in the offender's background to "persuade" him or her to support the current bipartisan agenda
If it's really true that to find out who has power, just take note of whom is above criticism, perhaps we ought to consider that Rockefeller and JPMorgan money founded the CFR in 1921 and it took root and bloomed in government "service" during and after WWII.
If you doubt the CFR's power as the Deep State personified, I suggest reading historian Quigley's Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time and sociologist Tom Dye's Who Is Running America series.
Paraphrasing Quigley, writing when Bill Clinton was his student at Georgetown, the two parties should be as alike as two sides of a coin so that voters can "throw the rascals out" in any election without significantly changing governmental priorities and policies because the policies the US is and ought be pursuing are not subject to significant dispute (or at the least not by the voting public).
Which begs the question -- who is (and has been since the 1940s) setting US policy? If we, the voters, cannot alter or change our national policies, then democratic oversight of the Republic is nothing but a sham. The US is, in this view, just another Banana Republic which Tom Dye ably documents from Watergate to Shrub's administration.Harbinger , says: June 9, 2018 at 12:52 pm GMT
The two party "uniparty" is alive and well. In fact, while the party's supporters still may include self- described "leftists" the party itself has gone further right than the traditionally rightwing GOP. The dual party structure relies on the "Democrats" to gut "entitlements", that is Social Security or Medicare.
It was the "Democrats" who put in Obamacare, which mandated people to spend an arm and a leg on crappy medical insurance the cost of which was massively inflated which they could only use when they had spent way more than average on medical bills. Meanwhile it was the democrats' harpy candidate who proposed a no-fly zone in Syria on behalf of raghead mercenaries hired by the yankee imperium.
While Trump has largely caved in to the deep state, in part perhaps because of the pressure applied by the phony deep state witch hunt taking over the "justice" department of the yankee regime, we know what the democrats, exponents of the fraudulent "Russia-gate" stories, now espouse: a new cold war far more dangerous than the old one.
Meanwhile, the commercial media in the US and satellite countries, has degenerated into a Goebbels-like propaganda apparat. Trump's clumsiness actually may have the accidental salutary effect of enabling the satellite countries to slip the yankee leash, at least to some extent.
The situation brought about by this unprecedented two faction version of fascism is profoundly depressing, in addition to being seriously dangerous.
Why is this article entitled: "Dems Put Finishing Touches on One-Party 'Surveillance Superstate'"
This website seems to have articles that show their authors are awake and yet, this article shows quite the opposite. Who today, with the slightest modicum of common sense, who has made the effort in understanding how the system works, still plays the left-right paradigm, Hegelian Dialectic, political game nonsense?
I mean, let's get real here; the Democrats and the Republicans, like their UK counterparts of Labour and Conservative are merely wings on the same bird, ultimately flying to a destination. Both parties are taking the USA towards a one-party, surveillance, super state. You do not enter American politics unless you bow to Zionism and International Jewry. Unless you show 100% support to Israel then forget a career in politics.
Incidentally, to many who may have heard of her; the new luvey of the conservatives is none other than black, Candace Owens, who is better known as Red Pill Black. She has been this new voice who has entered into the 'alternative right', itself nothing more than controlled opposition, speaking out against feminism, white privilege, rape culture, transgender culture etc etc and has gained a large following. Other than being a complete fraud, as information has appeared that she tried to launch a 'doxing' website, targeting youngsters, she has appeared at the opening of the American Embassy in Jerusalem:
Why on earth, would some nobody, who has had an incredibly fast rise on YouTube (most certainly her subscriber base and video view has been doctored) and more so a black conservative, be invited to attend the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem? Bottom line? She's being groomed for a career in politics and I wouldn't be surprised if they wheel her out, some time in the future, as a presidential hopeful to capture the black vote in the USA.
Again, this is controlled opposition.
You never vote in a new party in politics. You vote out the old one. 326 million is the population of the USA and there are only two political parties? Are you serious? It's bad enough, here in the UK with three (liberal party along with Labour and Conservative), with a 66 million population but only two in the USA?
Both parties are heavily controlled.
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has been putting presidents into power now for over a hundred years. The CFR is the sister organization of the Royal Institute for International Affairs, which has been doing the same, here in the UK for the same time. All politicians are groomed from an early age, taught how to avoid answering any question directly, how to lie and of course who their masters are. By implementing their wishes, politicians are then granted a seat on some board, within some multi conglomerate, a six figure salary, a fat pension on top of their political one and of course umpteen houses spread across wherever. Blair and Obama epitomize this.
Both political parties are left wing, hiding under the right wing and classic liberal monikers.
Aug 27, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Kai Weiss offered up some food for thought last week when he attempted to explain why any plan for a transatlantic union of populists is doomed. And he's largely correct: the integration of right-wing populist governments and parties in Europe into their own umbrella organizations give them a specifically European orientation, which seems to defeat the purpose of nationalism.
Further, the continued economic relations of populist governments in Italy, Hungary, and Poland with other EU countries would render their shift towards a new political configuration based on shared ideological proclivities with American populists highly unlikely. These assumptions are certainly well-founded, and Kai is correct that we shouldn't interpret any change in the European populist Right as aligning with their American counterpart.
But there's another, perhaps deeper, reason that American and European populists are unlikely to cooperate: they show only superficial similarities. Both are obviously concerned with the globalist threat to their national economies and cultivate a rhetorical style that appeals to the plain folk while ostentatiously bypassing the "uppers." All so-called populists invoke national symbols and colors (thus Trump tells us that all Americans, no matter their race, "bleed red, white, and blue"). All ridicule multinational corporations and their usually socially leftist advocates as rootless. All have antagonistic relationships with left-wing media and devote considerable energy to contending with them.
And of course, both oppose mass immigration. But in Europe more than in the U.S., this opposition stems from widespread concern about a growing Muslim presence and the violent crime and cultural dislocation it's brought about.
That said, the differences between European and American populism may be more critical than the overlaps. Put simply: European populism looks real, while its American counterpart seems contrived. Vehicles of American populism with nationwide followings -- for example, the American Greatness website, Steve Hilton's Sunday night defenses of American populism on Fox News, and the West Coast-Straussian Claremont Review -- identify the American nation with an "idea." This "idea" is found explicitly in the passage of the Declaration of Independence that tells us that "all men are created equal." Lincoln's victory over the slave-holding South and America's military crusades for democracy in two world wars are often viewed as efforts to advance this founding ideal of equality.
While other, presumably inferior, nations are based on ethnic membership, shared religious traditions, and histories going back millennia, the U.S. is supposedly morally superior because of our universal founding principles. Those who argue this are entitled to their beliefs, but out of such abstract universals it is hard to fashion a specifically populist movement. That is because populism, for better or worse (I'm not being judgmental here), depends on very different unifying factors, like all the stuff that our would-be populists keep throwing on the junk heap. Hungarian, Polish, French, and Italian populists happily invoke everything that our populists are not supposed to believe.
One could hardly imagine an American populist saying what Viktor Orban repeatedly stated before the Hungarian national election that he won overwhelmingly in the spring. Orban vowed to " keep Hungary safe and Christian ," and called for the country -- and Europe more widely -- to embrace "a modernized version of Christian democracy" in the decades ahead. "Christian democracy protects us from migration, defends the borders, supports the traditional family model of one man, one woman, and considers the protection of our Christian culture as a natural thing," he said.
In some ways, European populists are more generous than their American imitation. They don't engage in trade wars with their fellow Europeans and generally work toward unity with others on the continent as members of a shared culture and history. European populists reserve their bile for those whom they see as Muslim interlopers and the Cultural Marxist Left. From reading the European right-wing press and knowing leaders of the Swedish Democrats, the National Front, and Alternative for Germany, I am hardly struck by the European Right's affinity for the American ruling class, including self-described American nationalists.Steve Bannon Tilts at Windmills in Europe Trump's Working-Class, Conservative, Populist Realignment
It seems that, as soon as one moves beyond the Atlanticist crowd, European populists, like other Europeans, believe that American political elites are bullying the Old World. Loose talk about American exceptionalism, regime change aimed at conservative European governments, and the raising of tariffs on European products arouse concern among European populists over unwanted American hegemony. In a tour of the United States in February, the former head of the National Front, Marine Le Pen, praised Trump's defiance of the left-wing media but then criticized his increasingly confrontational relations with Russia.
Clearly she was concerned with American dominance over Europe, a problem that European populists can't imagine will go away even if self-styled populists come to power in the U.S. Confirming this impression was the reluctance of Italian president Sergio Mattarella to name as Italian premier Matteo Salvini, the populist leader of the Lega Nord, after Salvini's stunning electoral victory in a national election in early March. It was the Trump administration that put pressure on Mattarella not to authorize a coalition led by someone who might not be obedient to the American government on foreign affairs. It was only after this American "veto" was removed and proper assurances were offered that Salvini in May was allowed to form a government. If this is what American populist leadership looks like, it may not be the case that Steve Bannon's alliance is just around the corner.
By the way: the American populist website American Greatness quotes approvingly passages taken from National Review that justify American meddling in foreign elections and foreign regimes. Our government "has done so to promote democracy and political liberty and human rights." No doubt Signor Salvini will appreciate this explanation.
Paul Gottfried is Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Elizabethtown College, where he taught for 25 years. He is a Guggenheim recipient and a Yale Ph.D. He is the author of 13 books, most recently Fascism: Career of a Concept and Revisions and Dissents .
Aug 27, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Ort , Aug 26, 2018 8:06:17 PM | 24
The "soft" neoliberal bloc in the US, individuals and organizations alike, have become so pathologically consumed with the conviction that Donald Trump is the Great Orange Satan who must be removed from office forthwith, and by any means necessary, that they hysterically embrace any public figure who opposes (opposed) Trump.
I frequent prog-lib sites in the US, where I live, principally to read and post in the comments threads. The prog-lib moderates are not really of the "left", a term which has become a semantic placeholder for anyone or anything that doesn't explicitly identify as right-wing or politically conservative.
But before they were traumatized by, in their view, the abominable Trump usurping the imperial Oval Office Throne, they used to be reliably antiwar, anti-imperialist, anti-military, anti-police state, etc.
Now, the Democratic Party establishment and fellow-traveling organizations have realigned– flipped their lids– to a point in which they reflexively support everything that purports to oppose and undermine Trump. They even regard the nefarious state-security apparatchiks in the FBI and CIA, and the "brutal fixers" in the Department of "Justice" who have been assiduously working to construct a frame-up job, or crucifix upon which to hang Trump, as heroes.
@ karlof1 | 15
The self-proclaimed Social-Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's words praising the late War Criminal John McCain prove she's not what she declares.
So many bees have accumulated in my bonnet that by now I should be drenched in a perpetually-flowing coating of honey. One of the bees is what I call Progressive-Liberal Electoral Politics 101.
This refers to the tendency of "lesser-evil" moderates to rebut and reject doubts and criticisms of politicians with supposedly knowing, savvy "inside politics" rationales that explain away the criticisms.
It really hit home during Obama's 2008 campaign, when an intelligent but moderate "progressive" relative, "Joe", became infatuated with Bonnie Prince Barry; he vainly hoped I'd become enthralled too. Just a couple of examples:
I was outraged (but not surprised) when Obama reneged on his repeated "vows" to oppose draconian FISA legislation that gave carte blanche to government/corporate surveillance, and immunized corporations who'd illegally and illicitly assisted in conducting such surveillance. Joe responded to my outrage by superciliously explaining, "Oh, he had to do that! He can't just say and do things to keep progressives happy-- he has to reassure a fearful and desperate public that he's 'tough' on national security issues!"
Joe also whipped out this "Oh, he had to do that!" justification at the drop of a hat every time Obama did or didn't do something that seemed to conflict with his progressive "Third Way" image; when nominee and president-elect Obama packed his transition team and cabinet with reactionary Clintonista retreads and Goldman-Sachs banksters, Joe praised this as a shrewd "pragmatic" gambit to "consolidate his support within the party". There was always some pat prog-lib catechism blurb explaining why "he had to do that", case closed.
I've seen exactly this logic applied to AOC. To True Believers, if she seems equivocal, or even confused, about the nature of (Democratic) socialism-- or, as here, expresses anodyne, conformist, safe positions, they will justify this as sensible reticence. AOC has to appeal to the elusive "center", and charm skeptical voters by not appearing unduly extreme or, God forbid, radical.
As with Obama and others similarly situated, they pretend that once the ostensible Third Way newcomer is accepted and established, they can and will gradually disclose their true political selves, and act accordingly. Regardless of how often this scenario fails to work as hoped, they remain convinced that it's both unavoidable and prudent.