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Science, PseudoScience and Society

Advance of Zombie ideas in XX and XXI centuries

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  Programmers have a very precise understanding of truth. You can’t lie to a compiler. Try it sometime. Garbage in, garbage out. Booleans, the ones and zeros, trues and falses, make up the world programmers live in. That’s all there is! I think programming is deep, it teaches us about the non-cyber universe we live in. There’s something spiritual about computers, and I want to understand it.

Nick Geoghegan

Science has been misused for political purposes many times in history. However, the most glaring examples of politically motivated pseudoscience happened just recently, in XX century. That means that it is useful to review historic examples of "Zombie ideas" used for political purposes and the pattern that defines that abuse.

The important lesson of XX century is that discredited economic and political ideas, no matter how absurd,  don't die as long as they serve well power that be.  In a way they are real living dead, sucking blood from humans.  Those ideas that should have died long ago, still shamble forward, like Zombies. Usage of such ideas is one of the most dangerous deception schemes practiced  by modern elites

It's not easy to write about pseudo science. The problem has to do with the fluid nature of the concept. It has no single, precise meaning and there is little agreement about its constituent elements. But first and foremost it involved subjugation of scientific aims to political goals and deliberate attempt in deception and subsequent cover up. But recently almost all social and economic science became political and all politics involved deception: to say that a politician is not lying is the same as to say that an alcoholic is not drinking. Still there are different degrees of lies and different level of density of the "cloud of deception".

Discredited ideas with political support or "Zombies" can be extremely dangerous for people who oppose them.  Lysenkoism probably represents classic early example when an set of obvious lies was supported by repressive apparatus of state and dissenters were prosecuted and sentenced to Gulag.  For nearly 45 years, the Soviet government used propaganda to foster unproven theories of agriculture promoted by Trofim Lysenko. Scientists seeking favor with the Soviet hierarchy produced fake experimental data in support of Lysenko’s false claims. Contradicting scientific evidence from the fields of biology and genetics was simply banned. University programs taught only Lysenkoism . This state supported attempt to suppress generics  continued for over forty years, until 1964, and even managed to spread to other communist countries, such as  China.

What we saw it as a tragedy in Stalin's Russia genetics, we now see it as a farce in USA economics with neo-classical economics flourishing with the supportive guidance of neoliberal state and financial oligarchy.

The whole neoclassical economics is essentially a set of zombie ideas which are kept in the forefront by financial oligarchy. The financial crisis of 2008 buried key ideas of  'free market liberalism' (aka neoliberalism), such as the 'Efficient Markets Hypothesis', yet these zombie ideas still were dug our, dressed and continue to be sold via major newspapers and journals. Much like Lysenkoism in the USSR by CPSU. See

This is  a real Faustian bargain for academic scholars. One can trade the independence for political influence, good salary and other perks. It is also helps in the power grab. And despite popular image of scientists, they proved to be as corruptible, if not more corruptible, as anybody else. Historically the scientific community is generally held together and all its affairs are peacefully managed through its joint acceptance of the same fundamental scientific beliefs. Science is best practiced in a voluntary, peaceful and free atmosphere.

But that idyllic arrangement firmly belongs to  the past. Now we can talk only about the level of political pressure on scientists via research grants, not so much about presence or absence of such a pressure.  What really matters as far as politics and science is concerned is what type of environment the individual scientists have to work in and what degree of freedom they can enjoy.

Historically the situation changed irrevocably since early XX contrary, which signified discovery of atomic particles.  It should be understood that the modern scientist, built in the modern "neoliberal" democracies, is at the same time - and it is possible that even in the first place - a political agent, a manipulator. For the unwashed masses a public scientist represent the ultimate carrier of truth for a given discipline, so his opinion have a distinct political weight. And the architects of these systems use this values of scientists to the fullest extent possible. Like we can see with neoclassical economics, scientists have turned into an instrument of cognitive manipulation, when  under the guise of science financial oligarchy promote beneficial to itself a false and simplistic picture of the world, which brainwash the masses into "correct" thinking.

In this sense one can say that Lysenkoism represented a natural side effect of  shrinking of freedom of the scientific community and growing influence of political power on science. As by Frederick Seitz noted in his The Present Danger To Science and Society

Everyone knows that the scientific community faces financial problems at the present time. If that were its only problem, some form of restructuring and allocation of funds, perhaps along lines well tested in Europe and modified in characteristic American ways, might provide solutions that would lead to stability and balance well into the next century. Unfortunately, the situation is more complex, made so by the fact that the scientific establishment has become the object of controversy from both outside and inside its special domain. The most important aspects of the controversy are of a new kind and direct attention away from matters that are sufficiently urgent to be the focus of a great deal of the community's attention.

The assaults on science from the outside arise from such movements as the ugly form of "political correctness" that has taken root in important portions of our academic community. There are to be found, in addition, certain tendencies toward a home-grown variant of the anti-intellectual Lysenkoism that afflicted science in the Stalinist Soviet Union. So-called fraud cases are being dealt with in new, bureaucratic ways that cut across the traditional methods of arriving at truth in science. From inside the scientific community, meanwhile, there are challenges that go far beyond those that arise from the intense competition for the limited funds that are available to nourish the country's scientific endeavor.

The critical issue of arriving at a balanced approach to funding for science is being subordinated to issues made to seem urgent by unhealthy alliances of scientists and bureaucrats. Science and the integrity of its practitioners are under attack and, increasingly, legislators and bureaucrats shape the decisions that determine which paths scientific research should take. There is, in addition, a sinister tendency, especially in environmental affairs, toward considering the undertaking of expensive projects that are proposed by some scientists to remedy worst-case formulations of problems before the radical and expensive remedies are proven to be needed. They are viewed seriously though they are based on the advice of opportunistic alarmists in science who leap ahead of what is learned from solid research to encourage support for the expensive remedies they perceive to be necessary. The potential for very great damage to science and society is real.

Of course, the rise of 'Lysenkoism' in the Soviet Union in the late 40th of the twentieth century is one of the most tragic pages of the history of science.  Trofim Lysenko, a Soviet agronomist, came to prominence as the proponent of a theory of heredity that stood in direct opposition to Mendelianism. The details of this theory need not concern us, except to note that it was 'Larmarckist' in its contention that it is possible for organisms to inherit acquired characteristics.  This was wrong and the principles of Mendelianism - the theory of heredity - were well understood by then. But Lysenko theory fitted nicely with the Soviet ideology. Particularly, the idea that acquired characteristics could be inherited held out the promise of the perfectibility of mankind which as strange as it may sound was the necessary precondition to irreversible victory of socialism/communism (later when nationalistic forces  tore apart the USSR  it became clear that such hopes are completely misplaced). 

So the Stalinist state intervened in the pre-exiting scientific struggle by declaring the victor and the consequences, certainly for many of the scientists involved and arguably also for the USSR agriculture, were disastrous.  The essence of Lysenkoism is that pseudo-scientific theory became a pseudo-religious cult and the power of state was used to suppress dissidents. Many scientists were exiled; some killed. Unfortunately we cannot dismiss the obviously pernicious use of ideology by Lysenko and his supporters simply as an aberration of the era that is often brushed aside as 'the cult of personality' (with or without naming the personality in question). This proved to be much more dangerous and at the same time remarkably resilient phenomenon that survived the dissolution of the USSR. Actually the situation repeated with the USA economics when anything that was not neo-classic was suppressed was by-and-large similar although this time this time it happened without any killings.

Do not fool yourself that Lysenkoism is irrevocably connected with communist ideology. The link was poorly accidental. In reality Lysenkoism emerged more like a cult which was extremely convenient for the control freaks in high position in government. It's not a secret that a lot of high-level administrators in academic institutions belong to the category of micromanagers and as such they are naturally predisposed to Lysenkoism.  

In general "Lysenkovisation of  science" occurs when the state tries to control both the methodologies and goals of scientific activity and that happens all over the world, although to different degree.

In the USSR huge bureaucratic institutions such as VASKhNIL and VIEM had been set up with the specific goal to control resources and, especially, scientific press.  Part of the reason that Lysenkoism gained official support in the Soviet Union was because the Mendelian approach to genetics contradicted official ideology, in particular, Engels's dialectical materialism. In early 50th, just before his death Stalin began to sense that Lysenkoism can hinder practical science by interfering with the academic atmosphere of toleration of dissent most conducive to scientific accomplishment. He even went as far as to declare that

“no science can develop and proper without the clash of opinions, without freedom of criticism.”

But it was too late...

Other governments are also far from being immune from this kind of tendency to select between scientific theories on the basis of ideology rather than the balance of evidence.

More benign variant of Lysenkoism that does not rely on the power of the state is usually called Cargo Cult ScienceAnother related term is "Mayberry Machiavellis". A long time ago -- well, actually it was just a year, but it seems like a lot longer than that -- a former Bush advisor John DiIulio got into quite a bit of trouble for revealing to Esquire that the White House did not possess, in any conventional definition of the term, a policy-making process:

...on social policy and related issues, the lack of even basic policy knowledge, and the only casual interest in knowing more, was somewhat breathtaking—discussions by fairly senior people who meant Medicaid but were talking Medicare; near-instant shifts from discussing any actual policy pros and cons to discussing political communications, media strategy, et cetera. Even quite junior staff would sometimes hear quite senior staff pooh-pooh any need to dig deeper for pertinent information on a given issue...

This gave rise to what you might call Mayberry Machiavellis—staff, senior and junior, who consistently talked and acted as if the height of political sophistication consisted in reducing every issue to its simplest, black-and-white terms for public consumption, then steering legislative initiatives or policy proposals as far right as possible.

Dan Gardner - Senior Writer for The Ottawa Citizen writes: "Cabinet meetings were scripted, Mr. O'Neill discovered, by White House staffers who sent advance notes to cabinet secretaries telling them when they were 'supposed to speak, about what, and for how long.'" Is this the shadow of Politburo or what?

There are also strong analogies between Reaganomics and Lysenkoism. Useful discussion is at  "The Financial Crisis and the Systemic Failure of Academic Economics"

The Financial Crisis and the Systemic Failure of Academic Economics, by David Colander, Hans Föllmer, Armin Haas, Michael Goldberg, Katarina Juselius, Alan Kirman, and Thomas Lux: [From the conclusion] ..."We believe that economics has been trapped in a sub-optimal equilibrium in which much of its research efforts are not directed towards the most prevalent needs of society. Paradoxically self-reinforcing feedback effects within the profession may have led to the dominance of a paradigm that has no solid methodological basis and whose empirical performance is, to say the least, modest. Defining away the most prevalent economic problems of modern economies and failing to communicate the limitations and assumptions of its popular models, the economics profession bears some responsibility for the current crisis. It has failed in its duty to society to provide as much insight as possible into the workings of the economy and in providing warnings about the tools it created. It has also been reluctant to emphasize the limitations of its analysis. We believe that the failure to even envisage the current problems of the worldwide financial system and the inability of standard macro and finance models to provide any insight into ongoing events make a strong case for a major reorientation in these areas and a reconsideration of their basic premises."

While at the surface it looks like rent-seeking behavior of dishonest economists the analogy is pretty strong. A broad critique of Neoclassical economics has been put forward in the book Debunking Economics by Steve Keen  See, for example:

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov


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If history repeats itself...how incapable must Man be of learning from experience

George Bernard Shaw

"No science is immune to the infection of politics and the corruption of power."

Jacob Bronowski (1908-1974),
British scientist, author.
Encounter (London, July 1971).

[Oct 11, 2020] Cover Your Ass-- The Guiding Principle Of Our Time -

Oct 11, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Louis-Vincent Gave via Gavekal Research,

What is the dominant guiding principle of western societies today?

At the risk of sounding crass, let me suggest that it is the "cover your ass" or CYA principle. This principle has always been fairly prominent in participative democracies. But now it has gone into hyper-drive - so much so, that the CYA principle is also now an important driving force even in financial markets.

CYA and Covid-19

Take the response to Covid-19 as an example of the CYA principle in action. Is there any doubt that the rush to lock down economies and suspend normal civil rights -- to go to church, to attend school, to visit friends -- in the face of Covid was driven largely by policymakers' fears that if large numbers of people died, they would be held accountable in the court of public opinion?

Of course, no policymakers want a surge in deaths on their watch. But economies did not get shut down during the 2009 swine flu pandemic, nor during Sars in 2003, the Hong Kong flu pandemic of 1969, nor even the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. So what changed between the time of Sars and the time of Covid? One obvious answer is the rise of social media.

Now that every policy choice is reviewed and debated in real time by millions of people around the world, CYA has become all-important. Politicians have to put policies in place to hedge against the wildest tail risks imaginable. At the same time, the first instinct of policymakers (and of investors -- but more on this later) is to avoid doing anything that diverges too far from the pack. Any policymaker anywhere looking at the opprobrium heaped on Sweden will surely agree with John Kenneth Galbraith's observation that "it is far, far safer to be wrong with the majority than to be right alone".

Once Denmark and Norway had decided to follow Italy's lead and lock down their populations, any western government that did not follow suit risked being accused of playing Russian roulette with people's lives, regardless of the epidemiological evidence. Unfortunately, we still seem stuck in this mindset, even as the weekly death tolls across western countries have dipped to generational lows, almost regardless of the Covid policies they adopted (see the chart below).

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So, we should all be grateful that Donald Trump appears to be bouncing back from his brush with Covid having taken little harm. Firstly, of course, Trump is human, and it doesn't do to wish harm on another human. Secondly, if Covid were to have taken Trump's life, it would have claimed the highest profile victim possible. And after the death of the US president, who can doubt that anti-Covid measures would become even more liberticidal. Regardless what you think of Trump, that would be a very bearish development, at least for "Covid-victims" such as energy names, airlines, casinos, hotels, and restaurants , all of which are desperate for policymakers to acknowledge that Covid-19 no longer seems to be as lethal as it was six months ago.

CYA and the fiscal and monetary policy mix

Moving on to the far less controversial fiscal and monetary policy responses to the recession, can there be any doubt -- again -- that policy is being driven above all by the CYA principle? What policymaker wants to espouse the Hippocratic principle of "first, do no harm," and let markets and prices find their own footing? None. As Anatole has argued, policymakers are scrambling always to do more, with ever-bigger budget deficits funded by ever-more money printing ( see Will A Keynesian Phoenix Arise From Covid? ).

Can this new enthusiasm for budget deficits and money printing guarantee prosperity? It seems to for some individual stocks. But for the broad market? Perhaps not, or at least not in "real terms". Take the equal-weighted S&P 500 as a proxy for the typical equity portfolio (appropriate now a handful of mega-cap names dominate the cap-weighted index), and discount it by the gold price to get a picture of equity returns adjusted for currency debasement.

When US governments keep spending under control, as Bill Clinton's did in the 1990s or the Tea-Party-led Congress did after 2011, the broad equity market goes through long phases of "rerating" against gold (see the chart below).

And when the government embraces expanding budget deficits funded by the Federal Reserve, as with George W Bush's "guns and butter" policies or Donald Trump's rapid deficit expansion, gold massively outperforms the broad equity market. Where does this leave us today? Since 2014, the equal-weighted S&P 500 has delivered the same returns as a pet rock -- gold. This is because the index has lost a third of its value since making a high in September 2018, and has basically been flat-lining since late April (see the chart below).

This may help to put the current debate on US stimulus into context. First, does anyone doubt that the US government will release a tsunami of new spending after the election? Because of the CYA principle, what policymaker will want to be seen to be blocking recovery? Secondly, will this increase in budget deficits, funded by the printing press, trigger stronger economic growth? If so, why weren't we doing it before? Will it lead to higher asset prices? If so, why are we so far off the 2018 high? Or will it mean further currency debasement? Looking at the ratio between the equal-weighted S&P 500 and the gold price, will a new round of stimulus mean a return to the February 2020 high? Or will it see the March 2020 low taken out?

Another way to look at this problem is through the prism of the US dollar. Will another round of fiscal stimulus be dollar-bullish? Or will it be dollar-bearish? The answer matters greatly to all those foreign investors currently seeking shelter in US equities. For them, the return on US equities has been flat since late May - and going further back, flat since mid-2019.

So, if another round of stimulus weakens the US dollar, as seems likely if the stimulus is funded by the Fed, then foreign investors will have to hope that increased equity values will more than compensate for their foreign exchange losses.

CYA and indexing

This brings me to what is likely the most important element of all this for readers: the CYA principle and investing. Gavekal has written at length about the dangers of indexing (see, for example, Exponential Optimization). We have also argued that indexing is the new in-vogue form of socialism. Capital is not allocated according to its marginal return -- the foundation on which capitalism rests. Instead, capital is allocated according to the size of companies. Just as in the days of the old Soviet Union or Maoist China, the bigger you are, the more capital you get. It is hard to think of a stupider way to allocate one of the key resources on which future growth relies. So why is indexing so popular? Simple: it is the ultimate CYA strategy.

As Charlie Munger likes to say: "Show me the incentives, and I will show you the outcome." In a world where every money manager is told his or her target is to achieve a performance close to that of the index, it is hardly surprising that ever-more money ends up getting indexed ( see Indexation = Parasitism ). As a consequence, over the years the dispersion of results among money managers has become smaller and smaller.

Now, the Holy Grail of money management is to achieve decent long term returns combined with low volatility in those returns. However, in a world where ever-more capital is directed into investments that outperform -- playing momentum rather than mean reversion -- you inherently end up with greater volatility all round. Take the past few years as an example: since January 2018, the S&P 500 equal-weighted index has suffered six corrections of -10% or greater, including one -20% drop and one -40% drop. In contrast, in the preceding two years -- January 2016 to January 2018 -- the S&P 500 did not see a single -10% drop, while the July 2016 to January 2018 period didn't even see a -5% drop. Clearly, something in the environment has changed.

More indexing makes sense from a CYA perspective, but ends up delivering lower returns and higher volatility all round. This stands to reason. If capital is allocated only according to marginal variations in the price of an asset, then the more the asset's price rises, the more capital money managers will allocate to that asset. And the more an asset's price falls, the less capital is allocated to it. Such momentum-based investing inevitably creates an explosive-implosive system, which swings wildly from booms to busts and back again. And in the process, capital gets misallocated on a grand scale.

In the 20th century, the goal of every socialist experiment was for everybody to earn the same salary. In the 21st century, it seems that the goal of indexing is for everybody to earn the same return. As we now know, fixing everyone's return on labor at the same price was a disaster. People stopped working, and economic growth plummeted. Fast forward to today, and why should we expect a different outcome if the end-goal of our investment strategy is to ensure that everyone gets the same return, not on the their labor but on their capital? Isn't the entire world of money management now oriented towards delivering this remarkable ambition?

And should we really be surprised if the growth rates of our economies continue to slip? Why should we expect a positive growth outcome from an epic misallocation of capital? Take the current Big Tech craze as an example: everything is organized for investors to sink ever more capital into those very companies that need it least, and whose best use for this gusher of money is typically to buy back their own shares.

This CYA investment-decision-making process appears to be one of the key drivers behind the recent divergence between the S&P 500 market-capitalization-weighted index, and the S&P 500 equal-weighted index.

But it may also explain an interesting point raised by my friend Vincent Deluard, strategist at StoneX. In a recent tweet (he's well worth following) he noted that each of the last four major market corrections bottomed out in the last week of the quarter, just after the index futures expired. Now, this could be a remarkable coincidence. On the other hand, it might say a great deal about how capital is allocated today.

Conclusion

In A Study Of History, Arnold Toynbee reviewed the rise and fall of the world's major civilizations. He showed that throughout history, when any civilization was confronted with a challenge, one of two things could occur. The elite could step up and tackle the problem, allowing the civilization to continue to thrive. Alternatively, the elite could fail to deal with the problem. In this case, as the problem grew, their failure led to one of three outcomes.

1) A change of elite. An example is the clear-out of the French political class at the time of decolonization. As the old Fourth Republic stalwarts struggled to meet the challenges of Asian and African independence movements, they were replaced by Charles de Gaulle who brought in new personnel and established the institutions of the Fifth Republic.

2) A revolution. Obvious examples include the French revolution, with the bourgeoisie taking over from the aristocracy, and the American revolution, with the local elite taking power from the British king.

3) A civilizational collapse. Examples include the collapse of the Aztec, Mayan and Inca civilizations following the arrival of the conquistadores. Another is the disappearance of the Visigoths in Spain and North Africa following the Arab-Muslim invasions at the start of the eighth century.

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With this framework in mind, how does CYA as an organizational policy approach help in dealing with challenges? The obvious answer is that if CYA is your guiding principle, the problems you chose to tackle will be those where there is little controversy within the elite about the required solutions.

This explains the constant hectoring about tackling climate change. Here, policymakers can promise to spend lots of money, without leaving their backsides too exposed. This accounts for the dramatic divergence between the performance of green energy producers (who produce energy) and carbon energy producers (who also produce energy).

It may also explain the rush towards ever-more European integration, as if the real challenge facing Europe today is a resurgence of the Franco-German rivalry that tore the continent apart in the 19th and 20th centuries. Policymakers can spend entire weekends in summit meetings debating European integration. This allows them to feel useful and important, even if their debates increasingly seem about as relevant as the debates of the Byzantines over the gender of angels even as the Turks were storming their city. But while pushing for more European integration might not tackle any of the issues European voters actually care about, at least it doesn't leave your behind exposed.

This brings me back to Karl Popper's theory that at any one time, there is a set amount of risk in the system. Any attempt to contain this risk either displaces it to somewhere else, or stores it up for later. If Popper was right, then the extreme aversion of our policymakers to taking risks means that the risk must appear elsewhere. But where? Perhaps in financial markets? It does seem not only that spikes in the Vix have been getting sharper lately, but that the Vix is also staying more elevated than you would expect in the middle of a roaring bull market.

Or, to put it another way, over the past few years, it does seem that the "downside gaps" in markets have started to become more vicious.

So perhaps CYA makes sense in today's financial markets. The challenge, of course, has become finding the instruments that allow you to cover your posterior. In March 2020, as equity markets tanked, government bonds did not diversify portfolios adequately. And in September, as equities fell -10% from peak to trough, bonds also failed to deliver offsetting positive returns.

This new development -- that US treasuries no longer offer CYA protection for equity investors in difficult times -- is an important one. It makes allocating capital to either equities or bonds a lot more challenging. Or at least it becomes a lot more challenging if you are compelled to follow contemporary western society's all-important guiding principle: CYA.

[Oct 06, 2020] Who is the dumbest economic Nobel Prize winner?

Oct 06, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vato , Oct 5 2020 9:03 utc | 104

Michael Hudson's newest interview on the Macro N Cheese Podcast either as a transcript or via audio is all about the coming debt deflation and what he calls the Neofeudal Empire.
If you haven't already known, Hudson reminds you that:

Who is the dumbest economic Nobel Prize winner? [Paul Krugman?] Paul Krugman. That's right. He was given a Nobel Prize for not understanding what money was. If he would have understood it, that would've excluded him from getting the Nobel Prize.

[Sep 27, 2020] Let's prohibit chess: a deeply racist and misogynic game

Highly recommended!
Sep 27, 2020 | www.unz.com

Happy Tapir , says: September 26, 2020 at 5:19 pm GMT

@Snert

I know, take chess for example, where the highest rank is the title of "Master." Someone should change this. Also note the "black" always move second, the queen serves the king and her highest glory is to "sacrifice" herself for him. Protect the MAN! The game is so structurally racist and sexist, is it any wonder there has never been a black or female world champion? Sheez

[Sep 27, 2020] Turning the engineering school into an "anti-racist organization.

Bolshevism stupidities first played as a great tragedy, which cost many scientists their life or who were pushed into exile, now the same stupidity with the exchange of "proletarian scientists" to "black scientist" is re-played as a farce in the USA
Sep 26, 2020 | www.unz.com

Some science-relevant extracts from Heather's article:

The dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California, San Diego, Albert ("Al") P. Pisano [ Email him ] pronounced himself "absolutely dedicated" to turning the engineering school into an "anti-racist organization." Doing so "crucially includes unconscious bias work we must do within ourselves," he added. How that work will interact with research on nanoparticles and viral transmission, say, was unspecified.

ariadna , says: September 27, 2020 at 1:23 am GMT

"turning the engineering school into an "anti-racist organization."

Not difficult to do. Just erase from the curriculum everything written, discovered or invented by whites.

[Sep 26, 2020] From promotion of "proletarian scientists" to promotion of "black scientists" by JOHN DERBYSHIRE

Unfortunately the scientific establishment is as corrupt as any other arm of the establishment.
Sep 25, 2020 | www.unz.com
-They Might As Well Put Bones Through Their Noses- -- The Corruption Of Scientific American, by John Derbyshire - The Unz Review

Earlier: It's Official: Even Hard Science Entering New Dark Age

[Excerpted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively through VDARE.com]

Recently I had things to say about wokeness at the fine old magazine Scientific American . Their September issue had run a long article, headlined Reckoning With Our Mistakes, in which the editors groveled, rent their garments, heaped ashes on their heads, and flagellated themselves with guilt over shamefully un-Woke things the magazine had published back in the 19th century.

All that was bad enough -- distressing enough, I should say, for an old science geek like myself who, in his youth, looked to Scientific American for instruction and amusement on science and math topics, delivered in a spirit of objective enquiry.

Now here came the October issue. For the first time ever in the magazine's 175-year history the editors [Editor in Chief Laura Helmuth Tweet her] have endorsed a Presidential candidate. [ Scientific American Endorses Joe Biden | We've never backed a presidential candidate in our 175-year history -- until now , October, 2020]

Can you guess which one? Of course you can! Quote:

The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people -- because he rejects evidence and science.

There follow several hundred words about how ineptly the Administration has coped with the COVID-19 pandemic, with some supplementary remarks on healthcare in general and environmental issues. Then this concluding paragraph:

Although Trump and his allies have tried to create obstacles that prevent people from casting ballots safely in November, either by mail or in person, it is crucial that we surmount them and vote. It's time to move Trump out and elect Biden, who has a record of following the data and being guided by science.

What exactly are those obstacles to voting that Trump has tried to create? The online version of this Scientific American editorial has a link to a Chicago Tribune story headlined Cook County GOP Sues to Block State's Enhanced Vote-by-Mail Efforts , by Rick Pearson, August 10, 2020. Back in June, you see, the Governor of Illinois signed a law to expand mail-in voting. Of course, this meant expanding opportunities to corrupt November's election [ Confessions of a voter fraud: I was a master at fixing mail-in ballots , by Jon Levine, NY Post, August 29, 2020]. A conservative legal group, the Liberty Justice Center, has tried to block the law.

The Scientific American editorial is, in short, just cut'n'pasted from Biden campaign talking points.

For more on the ongoing corruption of American science by ideology, see Heather Mac Donald's article Conformity To A Lie in the summer issue of City Journal .

Heather quotes the revolting statements of self-abasement issuing from college presidents and faculty heads about how they must strive harder to purge their institutions of "systemic racism" and "white privilege."

Some science-relevant extracts from Heather's article:

The dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California, San Diego, Albert ("Al") P. Pisano [ Email him ] pronounced himself "absolutely dedicated" to turning the engineering school into an "anti-racist organization." Doing so "crucially includes unconscious bias work we must do within ourselves," he added. How that work will interact with research on nanoparticles and viral transmission, say, was unspecified. The chairman of the earth and planetary sciences department at the University of California at Davis, announced an "anti-racist reading group" for faculty and students. The group's purpose was to confront the "structural racism that pervades" the field of geology. Such structural racism in the study of igneous rocks is apparently so obvious that the chair did not bother to elaborate further. The American Astronomical Society held color-coded Zoom meetings, one for white astronomers to "discuss direct actions to support Black astronomers," one for black astronomers to "talk, vent, connect, and hold space for each other," and one for "non-Black people of color to discuss direct actions to support Black astronomers." See AAS Endorses #ShutDownSTEM, #ShutDownAcademia & #Strike4BlackLives , AAS website, June 9,

This kind of thing is what has led VDARE.com's Lance Welton to say, repeatedly, that science is entering a new Dark Age:

The Great Awokening Leading To The Great Retraction -- And A New Dark Age For Science Race-Denying "Jena Declaration" More Evidence Science Entering New Dark Age The New Dark Age Comes For Climate Science Jess Wade -- Another Minority Social Justice Warrior Pushing Science Into New Dark Age It's Official: Even Hard Science Entering New Dark Age

To my mind, nothing is worse than this corruption of science.

Objective, reasoned scientific inquiry is the crowning glory of Western civilization .

These solemn declarations of guilt and repentance are a regression to what came before: superstition and witch-doctoring.

These so-called academics might as well put bones through their noses.

FOOTNOTE: But let's raise a glass to Betsy DeVos over at the Department of Education.

In that piece by Heather Mac Donald that I mentioned, one of the college presidents confessing his institution's sinful racism is Christopher Eisgruber, President of Princeton University. President Eisgruber [ Email him ] has, Heather tells us,

ordered the school's top faculty and administrators to submit plans on how they will "combat systemic racism within and beyond the University." Every aspect of Princeton will be reexamined with a "bias toward action," Eisgruber said.

So Princeton University is, according to its president, addled with "systemic racism."

That caught the eye of Betsy DeVos, or one of her underlings.

The Department of Education has sent a letter to Eisgruber reminding him that Princeton has received more than $75 million in federal aid during his seven years as president on the understanding, repeatedly confirmed by Princeton, that Princeton complies with the 1964 Civil Rights Act by being scrupulously non-discriminatory. [ Princeton's "systemic racism" captures the government's attention , By Paul Mirengoff, PowerLineBlog, September 17, 2020]

How, the Department wants to know, can that square with those confessions of "systemic racism within the University"?

They have opened an investigation.

Yesssss! The weasel is caught in its own trap!

Here's a toast to Secretary DeVos! And please, let's see more of this.

John Derbyshire [ email him ] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. ) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books . He has had two books published by VDARE.com com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT ( also available in Kindle ) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013 .


Mr. Anon , says: September 26, 2020 at 5:00 am GMT

Every university that has made pronouncements like those made by Princeton should be formally investigated. Further, I think the government should immediately suspend all payments to those universities, pending the outcome of those investigations. I mean, we wouldn't want to support racist institutions. would we? Even for a little while.

As to Scientific American, it has been garbage for some time now. But the increasing wokeness of science faculties and scientific societies is particularly worrisome. I expect the enterprise of science to decline in the West.

animalogic , says: September 26, 2020 at 8:27 am GMT

Great article Derb'. Agree totally with the following.
"Objective, reasoned scientific inquiry is the crowning glory of Western civilization."
Would only add that close, in 2nd place, is Western Art -- & philosophy. In many ways, Western Letters generally, made Science possible (ie Aristotle, Leonardo, Erasmus etc)

Dr.C. Fhandrich , says: September 26, 2020 at 9:46 am GMT

The radicalized political left in the U.S. today resides in the democratic party. They are the servants of anti-American big tech and globalism over nationalism.

Achmed E. Newman , says: Website September 26, 2020 at 9:53 am GMT

That Al Pisano? I know that dude!

He was a Mechanical Engineering professor at Berzerkely, His concentration was mechanisms and computer optimization methods in design. He went to Washington, FS to run a program to dole out grant money for research in MEMS (at least that's what it was called then), M icro E lectro M echanical S ystems. That was well before most people understood the point of it.

That he issued that statement as the Dean of Engineering at UC San Diego makes me question my assumption that people who push this stuff are all dummies who are just in these positions due to AA and lots of student loan money allowing bloated staffs. This guy, I mean, he is top 0.01% sharp! From this, I gather it was: either issue a statement like this or get in trouble with higher ups. Dr. Pisano was all about the engineering, not politics. The only other thing I can think of is that he got brainwashed by his time in the Washington, Federal Shithole.

Achmed E. Newman , says: Website September 26, 2020 at 10:14 am GMT

I'm sorry if this bores most of the readers, but it is not off topic. Following is more from Dr. Pisano's 1 year-old Curriculum Vitae . I only picked out this diversity part, but you can see the guy's amazing, illustrious career in his field, if you read the rest. You just can't go disparaging a man like this after you read through the description of his life's work.

None of the stuff below involves big money. Even with what sounds like a mini-career in D.I.E, in this long paragraph (I didn't want to put my own breaks in), I still maintain that all this could easily just be a way of deflecting and problems that would keep Dr. Pisano from doing what he loves, doing cutting-edge research and inventing new devices in the modern age.

As the Chair of Mechanical Engineering [This was at Berkeley.] , Professor Pisano prosecuted a strong agenda of diversity, working diligently toward equity and inclusion for faculty, staff and students of the department. Using externally-raised philanthropic funds, Professor Pisano established a $50,000 per year fund (to run for 5 years for a total of $250,000) for Equity and Inclusion in the Department of Mechanical Engineering as well as in the College of Engineering. Professor Pisano re-constituted the Mechanical Engineering Department Committee for Affirmative Action, changing it to the Mechan- ical Engineering Department Committee for Equity and Inclusion, and reformulated the committee membership to include student and staff membership (3 faculty, 2 staff and 7 students). Retention of female faculty has always been a top priority to Professor Pisano. In one instance, Professor Pisano successfully convinced the faculty member to return to UC Berkeley after she had accepted the position at Notre Dame, bought a home in Indiana, and packed her belongings on the moving van. To help increase the diversity of the staff of the department, Professor Pisano has hired an African American, an African, an Indian, two Filipina and a Hispanic to the Department staff. Of these 6 new hires there were 5 women. To demonstrate the sincerity of the department's commitment to equity and inclusion for students, Professor Pisano instituted semester meetings between the Department Chair and all student groups. He also initiated a policy of significant financial support ($1,000 per semester per student group) for student groups who were engaged in the cause of diversity. These student groups include Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Black Engi- neering and Science Students Association (BESSA), Black Graduate Engineering and Science Students Association (BGESS), Latino/a Association for Graduate Students in Engineering and Science (LAGSES), Pi Tau Sigma Mechan- ical Engineering Student Honor Society (PTS), Tau Beta Pi Engineering Student Honor Society (TBP), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) student chapter, UC Berkeley Solar Car Team (CalSol), UC Berkeley For- mula SAE Racing Car Team (Formula SAE).
Professor Pisano has worked hard to recruit women and underrepresented minorities to his research laboratory. During his later years at UC Berkeley, Professor Pisano was the Ph.D. advisor to 13 female graduate students and 12 male graduate students. This is a 52% ratio of women to men in a lab in a Department where the overall percentage of women is less than 12%.

Also, think about this: Until recently at least, with the diversity business influencing admissions and becoming more important than all the rest, this professor must have run into only the very, very top, say 0.1% of the non-white students, grad students, and others in his field. It's hard to get a picture from that of what the country WILL run into once whites are marginalized.

Achmed E. Newman , says: Website September 26, 2020 at 10:48 am GMT
@Achmed E. Newman

Oh, I left out one point. In that paragraph, if you know the amount of money that is around at these big research universities, you can see that the amounts described there are just peanuts. Never mind the "significant financial support" bit for the money going to these rainbow student groups. A thousand bucks doesn't get you much.

El Dato , says: September 26, 2020 at 11:30 am GMT

Biden, who has a record of following the data and being guided by science

Biden has a record of "following the data"? Someone from Iraq might want to check this.

More like he's following the robo-script and is guided by smell.

Every aspect of Princeton will be reexamined with a "bias toward action," Eisgruber said.

Ah yes, the action-oriented principle of Nazi Germany.

They thought they were free: The Germans, 1933-45

"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.

"You will understand me when I say that my Middle High German was my life. It was all I cared about. I was a scholar, a specialist. Then, suddenly, I was plunged into all the new activity, as the university was drawn into the new situation; meetings, conferences, interviews, ceremonies, and, above all, papers to be filled out, reports, bibliographies, lists, questionnaires. And on top of that were the demands in the community, the things in which one had to, was 'expected to' participate that had not been there or had not been important before. It was all rigmarole, of course, but it consumed all one's energies, coming on top of the work one really wanted to do. You can see how easy it was, then, not to think about fundamental things. One had no time."

"Those," I said, "are the words of my friend the baker. 'One had no time to think. There was so much going on.'"

Dieter Kief , says: September 26, 2020 at 11:53 am GMT
@Achmed E. Newman grandfather -- a landlord, a butcher and a wrestler -- told me so when I was not even six years old -- with exactly these words.

***** tact and culture is required -- and that means a decent social context. -- To put it in Erich Fromm's words: You have to try to achieve The sane society (The title of one of Fromm's good books). You can't (and will not) be sane all by yourself. And you will find it not that easy to work for a sane society -- after peak stupidity , so to speak -- because it will always be a tad against human nature -- civilization brings with it (necessary) discontents. In other words: Becoming civilized is not necessarily a pleasure and all in all -- -- -- no task for snowflakes .

the one they call Desanex , says: September 26, 2020 at 1:35 pm GMT

Says President Eisgruber of Princeton:

"University life may have racism
mixed in, and we have to unmix it,
looking at every aspect of the place," says him.
"Whether broken or not, we must fix it."

Achmed E. Newman , says: Website September 26, 2020 at 2:31 pm GMT
@Dieter Kief r, thanks for the reply and neat phrasing. I think by nature engineers are seekers of the truth, though. This guy was no modern-era, 1000 SAT score, high-school B average, barely squeaking by using old tests and "rubrics" engineering student. I could see the latter type just joining with the flow of an insane society, as you say.

I think it's one or a combination of these 3:

1) The only non-white people he's dealt with on any consistent basis are pretty damn bright.
2) He spent too much time in Washington, FS.
3) He really doesn't believe in this stuff, but is going along to get along, as he's had such a productive life and does not want to be cancelled. It's gotta be an annoyance, in this case, but just one of those things, like the university bureaucracy and the politics, that he has to deal with quickly so he can get on with the cool projects.

Dieter Kief , says: September 26, 2020 at 3:13 pm GMT
@Achmed E. Newman ic going seriously off the rails socially.

In an ideal world, the technician would understand that society at times needs him badly not only as a technician/engineer, but also in his role as a citizen (at least in crucial situations -- and it seems as if the actual western front would -- slowly but steadily -- morph into a rather serious Twilight Zone -- At the Darkness on the Edge of Town -- if not -- at the edge of civilization. If this is somewhat the case, how much longer should the brilliant engineer wait before he acts in a civilized and rational and maybe even a bit courageous way in the public realm? -- I wish I had his nerves -- because I sure don't think there'd be much time left over for waiting any longer.

Snert , says: September 26, 2020 at 3:24 pm GMT
@Leelywhite

Agreed. It makes me laugh when I see new home builders refusing to call a master bedroom a master bedroom, instead calling it a 'main' or 'primary' bedroom. Just to avoid triggering people who see evil everywhere.

The word 'master' is not and should not necessarily be associated with slavery. The word can signify mastery over totally benign things, like being a master of a given craft or endeavour.

The fact that people are demanding that we dispose of the word speaks volumes about their idiocy, their lack of capacity to think critically, and their solipsism.

Jus' Sayin'... , says: September 26, 2020 at 3:46 pm GMT

For the past seventy years, the people that run things have been marinated in a stew of Frankfurt School nonsense. What Rudi Dutschke called the "March through the Institutions", an instantiation of that heretical Marxist's, Antonio Gramsci's, neo-Marxist program, is in its final stages. The current anti-science "science", negrolatry, Soros-funded destruction of social order, and other manifestations of madness are the culmination of a century or two of prog effort. At least temporarily, the mad are running the asylum. Currently there is not much the small, sane minority can do. Right now history is not on our side..

Achmed E. Newman , says: Website September 26, 2020 at 5:13 pm GMT
@Dieter Kief i>Unz Review though? I don't see HOW, with all that he's done and has going on -- please read that CV.

I wouldn't say this guy lives in an ivory tower, as engineers are practical-minded too. Unlike for a Sociology or Literature professor, some common sense is required or you get nowhere. I would say, Dieter, that Dr. Pisano just doesn't realize where our society is in this sense, with not enough time for politics outside his university system stuff and living in a somewhat cloistered environment. He doesn't know that society needs him to take a stand, well, and of course, many more people like him.

I'm just trying to think of an explanation and explain it myself, not cover his ass, as it's not like we are friends. This whole thing just came to me when I saw the name, and I thought "wait, this is no SJW dummy -- far, far from it! How can this be?"

Happy Tapir , says: September 26, 2020 at 5:19 pm GMT
@Snert

I know, take chess for example, where the highest rank is the title of "Master." Someone should change this. Also note the "black men" always move second, the queen serves the king and her highest glory is to "sacrifice" herself for him. Protect the MAN! The game is so structurally racist and sexist, is it any wonder there has never been a black or female world champion? Sheez

Achmed E. Newman , says: Website September 26, 2020 at 5:23 pm GMT
@Snert pidity.com/index.php?post=793"> "The Plantation Mentality and Misogyny of the Engineers and Technicians" , how can engineers, technicians, and car mechanics deal with this stupid shit? Are we going to change all the manuals for brakes and clutches?

What about electrical connectors? Do these idiots know that many are not just male or female (you shouldn't have to ask why), but also what I call hermaphroditic, with male pins vs. sockets but the overall "D" connector or whatever being female on the part with the pins and male on the part with the sockets?

Yes, Peak Stupidity is nigh!

.

Oh, and because I ran out of [AGREE]s, chalk up one for Jus' Sayin' about the Frankfurt School and Realist about the SA magazine and disgraces to the scientific profession.

Priss Factor , says: Website September 26, 2020 at 5:41 pm GMT

The difference between religion and ideology is the latter can linger in the secular fields.
While ideology can be treated like a religion, as with Marxism-Leninism, it is officially defined as a political system of ideas or theory of justice. So, ideology can slip into modern science in ways that religion cannot.

What the true secularists should do is reject anything that is religionist, i.e. even if it's not a religion, if it is treated like a religion with sacraments and taboos, it is antithetical to reason and logic.

omegabooks , says: September 26, 2020 at 7:07 pm GMT

What does one expect what with ObamaCore aka Common Core, where 2 + 2 = 5?

Mostly IMHO it's just a "go along to get along" thing because while no "scientist" wants to be cancel cultured, neither does a "scientific" publication .the dollars, doncha know.

But that's okay at some point the "culture cancelers" as is their wont will waaayyyyy over play their hand. I can "re-imagine" that happening just about every day, and I'm not talking the movie "Idiocracy" either. Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahah!

anon [135] Disclaimer , says: September 26, 2020 at 7:45 pm GMT

DARPA, the govt. agency that brought us the internet and stealth technology, has a new "twitter for scientists" called polyplexus. yes, it's as dumb as it sounds.

as part of it, they have ask me anything Q&As, typically with program managers to discuss their research interests and upcoming funding opportunities. recently, one of them was called "Systems Thinking From [sic] an Indigenous Lens" ( https://twitter.com/polyplexors/status/1309526281780953091 ) do you think China's DARPA hosts the same nonsense?

tyrone , says: September 26, 2020 at 8:00 pm GMT

Hey wait a second, the people with bones through their noses know how to do some useful things like hunt monkeys and grow yams.

Achmed E. Newman , says: Website September 26, 2020 at 8:07 pm GMT
@Realist

Good way to be. I'm explaining this distinguished professor, not myself. If you were to ask "what would YOU do?", then my answer would be that I would never be in this situation because, leaving all other reasons aside, I wouldn't get that far with my attitude, which is "to thine own self be true". It can be a major hindrance

Anonymous [140] Disclaimer , says: September 26, 2020 at 8:36 pm GMT

@Snert

"It makes me laugh when I see new home builders refusing to call a master bedroom a master bedroom, instead calling it a 'main' or 'primary' bedroom."

So they took down the "master" bedroom, eh?

Let's hit 'em where it hurts, then: the *Master's* degree! Since it's apparently the rage among females these days to enlist the aid of a sugar daddy to fund their educations, how about -- the Mistress degree! For the ladies, of course. But given the dispositions of the male academics these days, that label quite suits them as well.

Dieter Kief , says: September 26, 2020 at 8:36 pm GMT
@Realist

If you have principles, never undermine them To thy own self be true.

Right. And I say right, because this is the right way to serve society in a -- truly sustainable, hehe -- way.

(I'm laughing, all right, but I'm serious too!)

Anonymous [140] Disclaimer , says: September 26, 2020 at 8:44 pm GMT

@Achmed E. Newman

"I think it's one or a combination of these 3:

1) The only non-white people he's dealt with on any consistent basis are pretty damn bright.
2) He spent too much time in Washington, FS.
3) He really doesn't believe in this stuff, but is going along to get along, as he's had such a productive life and does not want to be cancelled."

AND/OR,

4)He's getting laid by an octoroon

songbird , says: September 26, 2020 at 11:39 pm GMT
@El Dato but the number of pages devoted to ads at least doubled and probably tripled, or more, starting from the early 1970s.

Same trend in radio and television, though not as dramatic. They actually changed how they wrote many TV shows, in order to make room for the ads -- to my mind, they became more insipid -- shorter hooks. My theory is that the profusion of ads helped mitigate the risk of trying to move the Overton window, in both the ads and the product.

One of the hidden reasons for the way Eastern Europe is more traditional might be because, for the most part, they lacked ads during communism. Well, that's just my crazy theory -- if it is true it is just a small part of the explanation, which no doubt contains larger factors.

IvyMike , says: September 27, 2020 at 12:21 am GMT

Science is not entering a new Dark Age, American Science is entering a dark age. And it ain't causation on the Left or Causation on the Right, Americans just don't want to do the hard stuff anymore.

ariadna , says: September 27, 2020 at 1:23 am GMT

"turning the engineering school into an "anti-racist organization."

Not difficult to do. Just erase from the curriculum everything written, discovered or invented by whites.

[Sep 24, 2020] Critical race theory as the theory of black racism

Sep 24, 2020 | en.wikipedia.org

Partially based on Wikipedia

Origins

In the early 1980s, students of color at Harvard Law School organized protests in various forms to problematize the lack of racial diversity in the curriculum, as well as among students and faculty. These students supported Professor Derrick Bell, who left Harvard Law in 1980 to become the dean at University of Oregon School of Law. During his time at Harvard, Bell had developed new courses which studied American law through a racial lens that students of color wanted faculty of color to teach in his absence. However, the university, ignoring student requests, hired two white civil rights attorneys instead. In response, numerous students, including Kimberlé Crenshaw and Mari Matsuda, boycotted and organized to develop an "Alternative Course" using Bell's Race, Racism, and American Law (1973, 1st edition) as a core text and included guest speakers Richard Delgado and Neil Gotanda.[11][12]

The theory itself is a kind of Lysenkoism in this particular area. Read voodoo science. This pseudoscience includes several themes (Wikipedia)

Critique

Any rational legal scholar should reject CRT as voood science. But somehow it crioped in many federal againces. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday to stop funding to federal government contractors who hold critical race theory training sessions.

“The President signed an Executive Order to end training sessions based on race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating in the Federal workforce, the Uniformed Services, and among Federal contractors,” the White House said in an announcement.

“This order will prohibit Federal agencies and Federal contractors from conducting training that promotes race stereotyping, for example, by portraying certain races as oppressors by virtue of their birth.”

The president provided a number of examples of such critical race theory trainings, which included a seminar recently held by the Treasury Department that promoted the message that “virtually all White people, regardless of how ‘woke’ they are, contribute to racism.” The same seminar was found to have told small group leaders to encourage employees to avoid the idea that Americans should be “more color-blind” or “let people’s skills and personalities be what differentiates them.”

In another example, the Sandia National Laboratories, a research lab and a federal entity, was found to have stated in training materials for non-minority males that an emphasis on “rationality over emotionality” was a characteristic of “white male[s].” The training materials also asked the trainees to “acknowledge” their “privilege” to each other.

The Argonne National Laboratories, a research center under the U.S. Department of Energy, was found to have stated in its training materials that racism “is interwoven into every fabric of America.” It also characterized statements like “color blindness” and “meritocracy” as “action of bias.”

The executive order also pointed to the Smithsonian Institution in another example, where one of the museum’s graphics asserted that concepts such as “objective, rational linear thinking,” “hard work” being “the key to success,” the “nuclear family,” and belief in a single god are “aspects and assumptions of whiteness” and not values that would unite Americans. The museum also stated that “[f]acing your whiteness is hard and can result in feelings of guilt, sadness, confusion, defensiveness, or fear,” according to the order.

Many rational legal scholars have criticized CRT as pseudoscience and voodoo: CRT scholars' reliance on narrative and storytelling, or CRT's critique of objectivity.

Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has "labeled critical race theorists and postmodernists the 'lunatic core' of 'radical legal egalitarianism.'" He wrote:

What is most arresting about critical race theory is that it turns its back on the Western tradition of rational inquiry, forswearing analysis for narrative. Rather than marshal logical arguments and empirical data, critical race theorists tell stories – fictional, science-fictional, quasi-fictional, autobiographical, anecdotal – designed to expose the pervasive and debilitating racism of America today. By repudiating reasoned argumentation, the storytellers reinforce stereotypes about the intellectual capacities of nonwhites.

Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that critical race theorists have constructed a philosophy which makes a valid exchange of ideas between the various disciplines unattainable:

The radical multiculturalists' views raise insuperable barriers to mutual understanding. Consider the "Space Traders" story. How does one have a meaningful dialogue with Derrick Bell? Because his thesis is utterly untestable, one quickly reaches a dead end after either accepting or rejecting his assertion that white Americans would cheerfully sell all blacks to the aliens. The story is also a poke in the eye of American Jews, particularly those who risked life and limb by actively participating in the civil rights protests of the 1960s. Bell clearly implies that this was done out of tawdry self-interest. Perhaps most galling is Bell's insensitivity in making the symbol of Jewish hypocrisy the little girl who perished in the Holocaust – as close to a saint as Jews have. A Jewish professor who invoked the name of Rosa Parks so derisively would be bitterly condemned – and rightly so.

Daniel Farber and Suzanna Sherry have argued that critical race theory, along with critical feminism and critical legal studies, has anti-Semitic and anti-Asian implications, has worked to undermine notions of democratic community, and has impeded dialogue.

Jeffrey J. Pyle wrote in the Boston College Law Review:[40]

Critical race theorists attack the very foundations of the [classical] liberal legal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism and neutral principles of constitutional law. These liberal values, they allege, have no enduring basis in principle, but are mere social constructs calculated to legitimate white supremacy. The rule of law, according to critical race theorists, is a false promise of principled government, and they have lost patience with false promises.

Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, considers CRT a "grievance ideology" and an "absurdity". He sees the central tenet of "white racism in the American legal system" to be shown false because of items such as the 14th Amendment, the Voting Rights Acts, and Brown v. Board of Education.[41] Critics including George Will saw resonances between critical race theory's use of storytelling and insistence that race poses challenges to objective judgments in the US and the acquittal of O. J. Simpson.[42][43]

In September 2020, the White House Office of Management and Budget took steps to cancel funding for training in critical race theory among federal agencies on the basis that it constituted "divisive, un-American propaganda".[

Controversies Critical race theory has stirred controversy since the 1980s over such issues as its:

In 2010, the Mexican American Studies Department Programs in Tucson, Arizona were effectively banned due to their connection to CRT, which was seen to be in violation of a recently-passed state law that "prohibits schools from offering courses that 'advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals'."[46] The ban included the confiscation of books, in some cases in front of students, by the Tucson Unified School District.

Matt de la Peña's young-adult novel Mexican WhiteBoy was banned for containing CRT, However, this ban was later deemed unconstitutional on the grounds that the state showed discriminatory intent. "Both enactment and enforcement were motivated by racial animus," federal Judge A. Wallace Tashima said in the ruling.

Derrick Bell as the founder of critical rase thory and black racism

Derrick Bell as the founder of critical rase thory and black racism

Derrick Albert Bell Jr. (November 6, 1930 – October 5, 2011) became the first tenured African-American professor of law at Harvard Law School, and he is often credited as one of the originators of critical race theory along with Richard Delgado, Charles Lawrence, Mari Matsuda, and Patricia Williams. He promoted quota systems for racial groups in faculty which is a racist stance in itself.

He was a visiting professor at New York University School of Law[3] from 1991 until his death. For five years he was also a dean of the University of Oregon School of Law.

He was hired by Harvard Law School In the 1970s, with the help of protests from black Harvard Law School students for a minority faculty member. At Harvard, Bell established a new course in civil rights law, published a book, Race, Racism and American Law, and produced several law review articles.

In 1980, he started a five-year tenure as dean of the University of Oregon School of Law, interrupted by his resignation after the university refused to hire an Asian-American woman he had chosen to join the faculty.

Returning to Harvard in 1986, after a year-long stint at Stanford University, Bell staged a five-day sit-in in his office to protest the school's failure to grant tenure to two professors on staff, both of whose work promoted critical race theory. The sit-in was widely supported by students, but divided the faculty, as Harvard administrators claimed the professors were denied tenure for substandard scholarship and teaching.[8]

In 1990, Harvard Law School had 60 tenured professors. Three of these were black men, and five of them were women, but there were no African-American women among them -- a dearth Bell decided to protest with an unpaid leave of absence.[8][11] Students supported the move which critics found "counterproductive," while Harvard administrators cited a lack of qualified candidates, defending that they had taken great strides in the previous decade to bring women and black people onto the faculty.[8] The story of his protest is detailed in his book Confronting Authority.

Bell's protest at Harvard stirred angry criticism by opposing Harvard Law faculty who called him "a media manipulator who unfairly attacked the school," noting that other people had accused him of "depriv[ing] students of an education while he makes money on the lecture circuit."[12]

Bell took his leave of absence and accepted a visiting professorship at NYU Law, starting in 1991. After two years, Harvard had still not hired any minority women, and Bell requested an extension of his leave, which the school refused, thereby ending his tenure.

Later in 1998, Harvard Law hired civil rights attorney and U.S. assistant attorney general nominee Lani Guinier, who became the law school's first black female tenured professor.[1][13]

In March 2012, five months after his death, Bell became the target of conservative media, including Breitbart and Sean Hannity, in an exposé of President Barack Obama. The controversy focused on a 1990 video of Obama praising Bell at a protest by Harvard Law School students over the perceived lack of diversity in the school's faculty. Bell's widow stated that Bell and Obama had "very little contact" after Obama's law school graduation. She said that as far as she remembered, "He never had contact with the president as president."[14] An examination of Senior Lecturer Obama's syllabus for his course on race and law at the University of Chicago revealed significant differences between Obama's perspective and that of Derrick Bell, even as Obama drew on major writings of critical race theory.[15]

NYU School of Law Bell's visiting professorship at New York University began in 1991. After his two-year leave of absence, his position at Harvard ended and he remained at NYU where he continued to write and lecture on issues of race and civil rights.

Bell and other legal scholars began using the phrase "critical race theory" (CRT) in the 1970s as a takeoff on "critical legal theory", a branch of legal scholarship that challenges the validity of concepts such as rationality, objective truth, and judicial neutrality. Critical legal theory was itself a takeoff on critical theory, a philosophical framework with roots in Marxist thought.

Bell continued writing about critical race theory after accepting a teaching position at Harvard University. He worked alongside lawyers, activists, and legal scholars across the country. Much of his legal scholarship was influenced by his experience both as a black man and as a civil rights attorney. Writing in a narrative style, Bell contributed to the intellectual discussions on race. According to Bell, his purpose in writing was to examine the racial issues within the context of their economic and social and political dimensions from a legal standpoint. Bell's critical race theory was eventually branched into more theories describing the hardships of other races as well, such as AsianCrit (Asian), FemCrit (Women), LatCrit (Latino), TribalCrit (American Indian), and WhiteCrit (White).[21] His theories were based on the following propositions:

First, racism is ordinary, not aberrational.[22] Second, white-over-color ascendancy serves important purposes, both psychic and material, for the dominant group.[22] Third, "social construction" thesis holds that race and races are products of social thought and relations.[22] Fourth, how a dominant society racializes different minority groups at different times, in response to shifting needs such as the labor market.[22] Fifth, intersectionality and anti-essentialism is the idea that each race has its own origins and ever-evolving history.[22] Sixth, voice-of-color thesis holds that because of different histories and experiences to white counterparts', matters that the whites are unlikely to know can be conveyed.[22] CRT has also led to the study of microaggressions, Paradigmatic kinship, the historical origins and shifting paradigmatic vision of CRT, and how in depth legal studies show law serves the interests of the powerful groups in society. Microaggressions are subtle insults (verbal, nonverbal, and/or visual) directed toward people of color, often automatically or unconsciously.[23]

For instance, in The Constitutional Contradiction, Bell argued that the framers of the Constitution chose the rewards of property over justice. With regard to the interest convergence, he maintains that "whites will promote racial advances for blacks only when they also promote white self-interest." Finally, in The Price of Racial Remedies, Bell argues that whites will not support civil rights policies that may threaten white social status. Similar themes can be found in another well-known piece entitled, "Who's Afraid of Critical Race Theory?" from 1995.[24]

His 2002 book, Ethical Ambition, encourages a life of ethical behavior, including "a good job well done, giving credit to others, standing up for what you believe in, voluntarily returning lost valuables, choosing what feels right over what might feel good right now".[25]

[Sep 24, 2020] Antifa Conspiracy Theories and America's Unraveling by Nickolas Kristof

Antifa and BLM are just shows with stunts designed to distract people from the level they are fleeced by MIC and financial oligarchy. As well as restore the legitimacy of Clinton wing of neoliberal oligarchy which was badly shaken during 2016 election, when their candidate was send packing.
Nicholas Kristof is member of "Clinton gang of neoliberals" and a part of this effort to distract people. The number of people who pay attention to Nicholas Kristof bloviations is astounding. Few understand that we do not know the facts and the real issue if the tight grip of MIC and financial oligarchy on the society. What is interesting is that s in California, there are 8.5 million residents born outside the country and about 150,000 homeless. "The melting pot burned over. It is now a ... salad.
For example, if money spend on wars were used to manage thoseforests with difficult terrain and perioc drauts, would the outcome be different?
Can those fires and destruction be viewed as God punishment for war the USA unleashed? As Thomas Jefferson said "I tremble for my country when I consider that God is just."
BTW, the number of commenters with Russian paranoia symptom is frightening. Of course NYT attracts specific audience, but still. In this sense NYT columnists including Nickolas Kristof are just warmongering bottom feeders of MIC crumps. It is pathetic how he tries to hide the lack of money for forest management and mismanagement if this issue by Oregon Dem politician under the broad banner of "climate change" Existence of climate change does not mean that fire should burn uncontrollably.
MIC steals half trillion dollars and then financial oligarchy steals probably another half, if not more. What is left is not enough for proper maintenance of land, water and environment in general. Stupid situation, but this is neoliberalism my friend, where "greed is good". And people chose this mousetrap themselves in 1970th by electing first Carter and then Reagan and then Clinton , allowing financial oligarchy to dismantle New Deal Capitalism. Clinton presidency was especially destructive, In a way he should be views as the top villain in this story, a real criminal boss.
Below I selected only more or less sane comment (which constitute probably less 1% of the total)
Notable quotes:
"... How about a judicious Forrest management? ..."
"... So much for our useless 750 Billion dollar military budget. ..."
"... Amazing how ,close minded people become when, for them, everything is political. ..."
Sep 24, 2020 | www.nytimes.com


Dr B
San Diego Sept. 20

Wouldn't the conspiracy theories and concerns about antifa be lessened if progresses were as vitriolic about violence committed in the name of equity, diversity and inclusion as they are about violence committed in support of MAGA? Would the right have anything to crow about if the NYT was as critical of physical altercations caused by social justice warriors as they are of white supremacists? Wouldn't we all have more trust in MSM if they investigated the facts before accusing Nick Sandman of racism or claiming a garbage pull was a noose? One sided reporting and editorials like these fan the flames rather than squelch them.

Ralphie
CT Sept. 20
It's amazing. You can write a column in the NY Times full of conspiracy theories -- all fully believed by the left -- and accuse the right of being prone to believing conspiracy theories. From Russia - collusion to rubes in the red states --a majority of dems share a set of beliefs that are as delusional as anything a small group on the right might believe. But, that's Kristof and the Ny Times for you.

Richard
Vermont Sept. 20
People seemed to have lost a sense of what is plausible. While few of us know the news first hand, we have to both trust and evaluate what is reported. Nothing is absolute. Jurors are asked to decide cases beyond a reasonable doubt. That is how I feel taking in the news. But within that sliver of doubt, within the fact that nothing is absolute is where conspiracy theories begin to fester. It is where some have found solace to confirm what they want to choose to believe despite how much there might be to question that. Events like this create an opportunism to demonize those you hate and in doing so the essence of what we should be debating is lost. How to prevent these fires in the first place? We will probably continue to debate it despite the evidence on climate change, whether there is a deep state trying to discredit Trump, whether the seriousness of covid is a hoax. Yes there is no absolute certainty but there is taking an educated guess as opposed to an emotional response. I'll go with the educated guess. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, I will say it is a duck and accept that sliver of possibility I might be wrong.

Neel Krishnan
Brooklyn, NY Sept. 20
The social fabric has unraveled, y'all pundits need to catch up.
Steve Fankuchen Oakland, CA Sept. 20
Why do people attach themselves to "conspiracy theories?" It's actually quite simple. Take QAnon for example: it is functionally just another religion competing for adherents. As with any religion, it offers its believers an explanation of what they deem is wrong while offering a path to right those wrongs. Certainty and simplicity: those are the essential elements of cults/religion/bumpersticker politics. And the internet guarantees that whatever you believe will be "validated." "Conspiracy theories" are, for the most part, not theories, merely assertions. A theory is subject to proof and disproof by evidence. In a world where truth has no inherent monetary value, don't expect it. Why the rapid spread? To paraphrase Bill Clinton, "It's the internet, Stupid!" Follow the money: Agenda + Clickbaitability = Profit That is the business model of the internet, a medium where "news" is whatever will produce the most clicks. As in profit. Unless and until the youngest generation developes a means of communication that does not depend on megacorporations, nothing will change. In the Sixties, a generation which disbelieved and had no honest access to the traditional media, created its own, the "alternative press." Hopefully, today's teenagers will develope their own way to communicate that is reliable. It is 100% guaranteed that if their "opposition" becomes an actual threat to the profits of Facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter, and the rest of their ilk, they will be cut off.
RP NYC Sept. 20
The antifa movement has grown since the 2016 United States presidential election. As of August 2017, approximately 200 groups existed, of varying sizes and levels of activity.[73] It is particularly present in the Pacific Northwest.[74] Wikipedia
Mark Nuckols Moscow Sept. 20
Well, Americans are notoriously gullible.

Steve Griffith
Oakland, CA Sept. 20
In an age when the US Justice Department is anything but just, more closely resembling something akin to "just us," I call to mind Thomas Jefferson, in a somewhat different context: "I tremble for my country when I consider that God is just."
The Poet McTeagle California Sept. 20
We spend hundred of billions of dollars every year on the types of weapons that won WWII, while the real threat to our Republic and yes, our civilization, is ,,, It's funny and tragic, simultaneously.
Sigmond C. Monster Point Magu Sept. 20
Antifa has done a lot of things. They have chosen to step into the arena. Whether they did it or not, this is accusation is a result of wading into the fight. If Antifa doesnt like to be accused of things and cant handle it, then Antifa should step off. Or does Antifa only want praise? Because that isnt going to happen. Many people dont like Antifa nor trust Antifa. And rightfully so. Ask any career criminal how many times they've been wrongfully accused of something. If an individual or group doesnt want to be accused of things, then dont get involved from the start.
Larry Klein Walnut Creek Ca Sept. 20
When people are uneducated, they do not understand what is happening around them. So they make up explanations to calm their uncertainty...
JQGALT Philly Sept. 20
Except that about a dozen people have been arrested and charged with starting the forest fires. Shouting "without evidence!" doesn't make it so. Facts matter.

Andy
MD Sept. 20
@JQGALT There are always people who are setting fires whether accidentally or intentionally. Do you have any proof that these arsonists were politically motivated I any way ?
99percent downtown Sept. 20
Why does NYT bend over to support Antifa? Kristof's 2nd headline should be changed to: "Absolute Defense of Antifa is a symptom of a deeper unraveling, and a sign of danger ahead." We know for a fact: BLM/Antifa destroyed thousands of buildings across the country in the last 90 days. Literally thousands. Minneapolis alone lost 700: https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2020/06/16/minneapolis-issues-map-showing-extent-of-buildings-damaged-in-unrest-over-george-floyds-death / We know for a fact: At least 6 arsonists set fires in Oregon - one of which was the largest outbreak: https://www.oregonlive.com/wildfires/2020/09/rash-of-oregon-arson-cases-fuel-fear-conspiracy-theories-during-devastating-wildfires.html We are justified to assume: Other fires were set by arsonists, but were not caught. One man all alone with a pack of matches is hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to be Antifa. But common sense supports what we believe in our own hearts: the individual radical arsonists are most likely Antifa. Why does NYT bend over to support Antifa? 9 Recommend Share
Thomas Shapley Washington State Sept. 20
Yet the Almeda fire in Oregon that destroyed more than 2,300 homes was, according to NYT reporting, caused by human activity and is subject of a "criminal investigation." Perhaps it would be wise to reserve total judgment until that investigation is completed.

Observer of the Zeitgeist
Middle America Sept. 20
Who needs rumors? The organization showed what it is made of when it created its free zone in downtown Seattle and had the highest crime and murder rate per capita in its short life in the country.

joe
atl Sept. 20
Rational people know that Antifa is not staring forest fires. However, burning and looting and using fireworks as weapons in the recent riots make even the dumbest claims of Trump supporters more believable.
LV USA Sept. 20
Leftwing activists have literally been arrested for starting some of these fires. There is video of arsonists being caught, yet the media ignores this, and actively denies it. Gee, why could that be?

Andy
MD Sept. 20
@LV Do you have any proof that these people were were left wing activist or just the kind of people who are always starting fires ad they have in the past ?

Cloudy
San Francisco Sept. 20
Oh, I guess all those videos of protesters in Portland burning down police stations were fake. Good to know.

me again
NYC- SF Sept. 20
The [neoliberal] left spends 24/7 preaching to their choir about Trump fascists dictatorship, an illegal government installed by a foreign power, destroying the constitution while preparing to seize power and ignore coming election results. There is a zero factual evidence for it, such as a refusal to follow judicial injunctions for example, but their well educated audiences are buying it whole day long. So what is so baffling that a rural audience after watching night after night Portland burning by arson and accompanied by "peaceful protest" graphics on TV would buy into arson speculations and rumors and ignore your disclaimers?

Socrates
Verona, N.J. Sept. 20
Facebook needs to be regulated since it has effectively organ-harvested the critical thinking skills of a significant portion of the population. It'd be better if thinking people simply deleted Facebook and let Facebook shrink and become the right-wing agit-prop tool that it truly is. Mark Zuckerberg is happy to to destabilize society with his little toy invention. You'd think with all that money, he could afford a conscience. What a wrecking ball Facebook is.

Reasonable
Orlando Sept. 20
"All this rumormongering leaves me feeling that the social fabric is unraveling, as if the shared understanding of reality that is the basis for any society is eroding." Ya think?

AU
San Diego, CA Sept. 20
@California Scientist Amen. We are more like an international terminal at this point. A bunch of people gathered by happenstance, heading in different directions, and often with very little in common.

Steve Bolger
New York City Sept. 20
@California Scientist: It is even worse than when Adlai Stevenson noted that there aren't enough educated people to elect a liberal government in the US.
MegWright Kansas City Sept. 20
@LV - The point is that "urbanites" aren't able to boss anyone around. It's the low population rural areas that have outsize political power thanks to the unfortunate design of our government. Every state gets two senators, regardless of population, and that also factors into the allocation of Electoral College votes, so that an EC vote from WY is worth 4 times as much as an EC vote from CA, for example. In 2016, Senate Democrats got 20 million more votes than Senate Republicans, yet Republicans kept control. In 2018, Senate Democrats got "only" 11.5 million more votes, and consequently lost seats. We're being governed by a minority in may areas of the country, and nationally, yet the "rural rubes" or whatever you want to call them, insist that they don't have nearly enough power.

M
CA Sept. 20
Six accused of starting Oregon blazes amid devastating wildfire season - NYPost
Robert Out west Sept. 20
Nice try at making it seem these loons started the big fires. https://www.oregonlive.com/wildfires/2020/09/rash-of-oregon-arson-cases-fuel-fear-conspiracy-theories-during-devastating-wildfires.html They're loons, okay? Just loons.

Rolfe
Shaker Heights Ohio Sept. 20
Strange that anyone living in or just knowing the west would NOT know that arsonists could not burn down huge chunks of forest if they where not so very dry.

Augury Unhappy
Bird Watcher, State of Grave Doubt Sept. 20
The ugly truth of Oregon's political past is asserting itself...we aren't in "Portlandia" anymore Nick.

Victor
Yokohama Sept. 20
The social fabric in the United States was never tightly knit and tolerance has always been in short supply...

Dang
Vermont Sept. 20
The adage "A sucker is born every day" has never rung truer. That people believe these rumors says a whole lot about how gullible many people are...

Schrodinger
Northern California Sept. 20
Ominous! There are two information ecosystems in this country and Americans increasingly live in different realities. Much of the media is in the business of massaging the egos of their readers by feeding them stories that confirm their biases and make them feel clever. There is less and less fact based news and more and more propaganda. A lot of people aren't really interested in facts. They just want to be told how right they are and how stupid and evil the people who disagree with them are. Media corporations are providing the market with what it desires, and what it desires is poisonous.
JRM Melbourne Sept. 20
The fires and storms, the pandemic, stupid conspiracy theories, Black Lives Matter, Trump and his sycophants...

Ilene Bilenky
Ridgway, CO Sept. 20
There is a reptilian brain need to believe this nonsense and to propagate it- because the believers are so terrified of the facts of the truth (and the lack of knowing what might be done to address those facts). The people who are true believers are pointless to discuss. They are too frightened. They need to believe this stuff. It is hopeless to address them. Dark times, indeed.

stormy
raleigh Sept. 20
With the natural buildup of combustible matter, combined with houses everywhere now and little land management, these fires will happen and will cause problems. Lots of things can start them and they will.
Len Arends California Sept. 20
You left out "a century of zero-tolerance policies toward wildland fires (creating precariously dense underbrush), and resistance to traditional controlled burning at the human/wilderness interface". It's not the whole story, but neither is climate change which, due to global technological leveling, is evermore the responsibility of China and India than Western civilization. Signed, a moderate progressive endlessly frustrated with breathless liberalism

Cenvalman
Fresno, CA Sept. 20
If only there were no arsonists. Here is a video of a woman who found a man on her property with matches in his hand (and no cigarettes, which was his excuse for having matches in his hand). She made a citizen's arrest. This happened in peaceful Oregon. Don't listen if you can't handle harsh language by a woman who is trying to save her property. Arson is real, and it is no joke. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJW_M4pBCnY A man was arrested for arson in Southern Oregon. His fire damaged or destroyed numerous homes. https://abcnews.go.com/US/man-charged-arson-connection-almeda-fire-southern-oregon/story?id=72960208 Rumors of antifa notwithstanding, people in Oregon were looking for arsonists because there are arsonists.
Steve Fankuchen Oakland, CA Sept. 20
"Conspiracy theories" are, for the most part, not theories, merely assertions. A theory is subject to proof and disproof by evidence. In a world where truth has no inherent monetary value, don't expect it. To paraphrase President Clinton, "It's the internet, Stupid!" Follow the money: Agenda + Clickbaitability = Prominence That is the business model of the internet, a medium where "news" is whatever will produce the most clicks. As in profit. Unless and until the youngest generation developes a means of communication that does not depend on megacorporations, nothing will change. In the Sixties, a generation which disbelieved and had no honest access to the traditional media, created its own, the "alternative press." Hopefully, today's teenagers will develope their own way to communicate that is reliable. It is 100% guaranteed that if their "opposition" becomes an actual threat to the profits of Facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter, and the rest of their ilk, they will be cut off. As to why people attach themselves to "conspiracy theories", it's actually quite simple. Take QAnon for example: it is functionally just another religion competing for adherents. As with any religion, it offers its believers an explanation of what they deem is wrong while offering a path to right those wrongs. Certainty and simplicity: those are the essential elements of cults/religion/bumpersticker politics. And the internet guarantees that whatever you believe will be "validated."

Steve Fankuchen
Oakland, CA Sept. 20
"Conspiracy theories" are, for the most part, not theories, merely assertions. A theory is subject to proof and disproof by evidence. In a world where truth has no inherent monetary value, don't expect it. To paraphrase President Clinton, "It's the internet, Stupid!" Follow the money: Agenda + Clickbaitability = Prominence That is the business model of the internet, a medium where "news" is whatever will produce the most clicks. As in profit. Unless and until the youngest generation developes a means of communication that does not depend on megacorporations, nothing will change. In the Sixties, a generation which disbelieved and had no honest access to the traditional media, created its own, the "alternative press." Hopefully, today's teenagers will develope their own way to communicate that is reliable. It is 100% guaranteed that if their "opposition" becomes an actual threat to the profits of Facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter, and the rest of their ilk, they will be cut off. As to why people attach themselves to "conspiracy theories", it's actually quite simple. Take QAnon for example: it is functionally just another religion competing for adherents. As with any religion, it offers its believers an explanation of what they deem is wrong while offering a path to right those wrongs. Certainty and simplicity: those are the essential elements of cults/religion/bumpersticker politics. And the internet guarantees that whatever you believe will be "validated."
AU San Diego, CA Sept. 20
" All this rumormongering leaves me feeling that the social fabric is unraveling, as if the shared understanding of reality that is the basis for any society is eroding." You betcha. (Palin doesn't look half bad compared to the current batch.) It's a simple formula: social media driven disinformation + extreme capitalism which leaves us with no real will to address it + legitimate grievances like racism and financial insecurity = craziness on all sides, fanned by a president whose personal agenda takes precedence over absolutely everything. All societies are constantly dealing with potentially destabilizing threats. Their institutions, media, leadership, and understanding of a common good are their immune system. Ours is compromised, we are destabilized.
Ludmilla Wightman Princeton NJ Sept. 20
How about a judicious Forrest management? We live in a period of global warming because of our planet axis precision, aggravated by the presence of an unprecedented population explosion needing more water, more food, the production of which needs more arable land, cutting trees, displacing wild animals, exhausting the aquifer. Cutting trees increases the CO2 in the atmosphere. More people in India, more cattle emitting methane, more old fashioned way of cooking food and producing more CO2 ... Permanent frost melting also sends more methane in the atmosphere ... The climate is extremely complex to permit exact modeling, but it is clear that if we want to stay healthy, it is vital to regularly clear our western forests of dead wood in order to prevent today's disaster of millions of people, particularly children with asthma and old people breathing the heavily polluted air. It is time to move to solar, wind power, electric trucks, cars etc. The technology is here. Let's hope that Biden will support clean air as means to better health. If all these years instead of using abstract terms like global warming or climate change, we have been appealing to people to keep the air clean in order to have better health, perhaps they would have stopped buying the behemoths cars, producing so much pollution?

Peter
Texas Sept. 20
As Nicholas and many readers on this page already know, this commentary is more evidence of how needlessly and recklessly polarized our country has become. When tribal instincts push people to look for anything - fact, fiction or fantasy - on social media or "rage commentary" that supports and validates their identities they will glom onto it faster than maggots on dead flesh. It is a sad state of affairs when so many people of all political persuasions will not take the time - even a few minutes - to question and investigate the latest "truth" being promoted. The new culture of low information consumers seems to be spreading as fast as a pandemic despite the heroic efforts of honest journalism. I wonder if low information consumption was so endemic to the citizens of Ancient Rome and Greece - long before Twitter, Facebook and Rage TV? People, please take a moment to "click" one step further to see if the latest conspiracy story is true. Why help propagate lies? It will only come back to haunt you, or your children.
ST New York, NY Sept. 20
Antifa or not, at least some of the big fires have been started by arsonists. Of this fact we have video proof. By downplaying or even denying it, the media are just as bad as the conspiracy theorists in promoting disinformation.

Bob Koelle
Livermore, CA Sept. 20
This reminds me of a time when people saw "Reds" behind anything that was going wrong in the country. Nothing new, but just as pathetically paranoid. I wonder how many people, or their parents, fit into both groups?

AT
Idaho Sept. 20
Here's another urban myth. Ok, more a lefty myth. That we can just keep adding people to this country (urban, suburban, rural, big city, anywhere and everywhere) and it won't have any effect. With the corollary that it's just a matter of "green new deal" or everybody getting a Prius or the dummies in the sticks realizing climate change is real and then we can just go on like this forever. We can't. Not only is our much hated lifestyle, which from what I can see, nobody really wants to give up, killing us, but believing 330 million Americans that add 2-3 million more a year is not a problem at all. Our entire way of life: endless population and economic growth is unsustainable. We don't need to wait until 2050 to see it. Just step outside.
Robert Out west Sept. 20
It is very difficult to teach people that "research," doesn't mean you go to some TV show or website you like and root around for stuff that tells you what you want to hear. One prob seems to be really simple: it takes actual work to do it right. Another is that research, done well, has an ugly habit of forcing you to think at least a little about whether your own ideas make any sense. And a third is that people really, really don't like it when their political views start getting contradicted by reality. It seems to be easier to change reality than to change views, even a little. Oh, and another prob? Too few Americans really read anything worth reading. I'm all for funsies (and I've probably read more crummy science fiction than all y'all put together) but one of the joys of walking around in Paris is seeing that the kiosks and bookstores still sell a ton of stuff on philosophy, lit, economics, and that everywhere, people actually read them. Books teach thought. Newsmax don't.
Steve Bolger New York City Sept. 20
@Beer Can Boyd: As a native-born American, I think the US fell down when the Congress put "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance in 1953, ostensibly to preclude anyone thinking about Godless communism, and gave itself a stroke.

J. Park
Seattle Sept. 20
We, all of us, need to stop accepting assertions without a source of any sort identified.

Donald
Florida Sept. 20
... So much for our useless 750 Billion dollar military budget.

Joe Smith
Chicago Sept. 20
Societies are supposed to evolve. Instead, we are descending backwards into the age of witch hunts.

Pop
PA Sept. 20
Amazing how ,close minded people become when, for them, everything is political.

Toto
Looking for Dorothy Sept. 20
The melting pot burned over. It is now a word salad. But appears there is a method to the madness. It is hard for the world to tell the madness from the method
ARL Texas Sept. 20
@Carolyn then there are the lies and the demonization of China and Russia by both parties to top it off. How can voters believe anything and decide before they vote?

Harcourt
Florida Sept. 20 Times Pick
Supporting this atmosphere of potential violence are some of my republican friends. They are mostly educated and not stupid. Yet they continue to support a man whom I think holds the responsibility for most of the violence if it comes. Now I want to get down to my point about these supporters. I believe they have succumbed to a cult-like dynamic. I say this because no rational person could possibly support Trump. Religious cults create this same addiction and irrationality. When my friends disagree with me, they try to put our friendship hostage to no further discussion of politics. They are unwilling to even be confronted with objections to their support of Trump. I have decided that I can always make new friends. What I do not want to do is take on the task of building a new country because I stayed silent.
Robbie J. Miami Florida Sept. 20
@Harcourt "They are mostly educated and not stupid." In my opinion, educated persons who behave as you describe never benefited from their education. Even worse, to me it seems like persons who behave like that are of the opinion that what they learnt in school is only for the purpose of writing the exams they needed to pass to get out of school. It was all just noise to them.

CA
Vermont Sept. 20 Times Pick
You nailed it. There is no longer "a shared reality" in America. So we have wildly different views of who Joe Biden and Donald Trump are. And how serious climate change is. And whether it's important to wear a mask. And if left-wing anarchists set forest fires. Thank you, Internet. Thank you, social media barons who refuse to ban Russian propaganda and manipulated videos. Thank you FCC that does not rein in Fox News and their promotion of lies. Who will step in and stop this madness?
AU San Diego, CA Sept. 20
@CA I agree with you completely except for the refusal to stop Russian interference. We can't. We can't unless we stop US interference in the process. The problem is that US interference, and rumor mongering, are the business model of these platforms which happen to be some of our largest companies. Extreme capitalism is preventing us from addressing any and all issues propagated by these companies. Russia is just a speck.

Objectivist
Mass. Sept. 20
Antifa adherents and wildfires ? Seems pretty far-fetched. Even ridiculous. But setting fire to occupied apartment buildings in Portland ? Oh yes, definitely. It happened, and more is on the menu, as well as municipal and federal buildings. Don't believe it ? Read the news releases for yourself, on the Portland Police Bureau's website.

James Thurber
Mountain View, CA Sept. 20
An excellent discussion of the perils of social media. Although newspapers, TV, radio, magazines have a historical principal of "generally" telling the truth, social media has opened up the world to every single Tom, Dick and Harry who with to spread their message. I believe that how we, as a nation, as a species, handle social media will define what happens over the next decade.
vw pgh Sept. 20
The state of this country is absolutely terrifying. While the shift to ever more conservative, insular, xenophobic, coroporate-controlled government has been going on for years, with the faux election of trump democracy is what has become fake, while common sense, empathy, and both fiscal and environmental responsibility have virtually disappeared. The US has gone off the deep end...

Mike S.
Eugene, OR Sept. 20 Times Pick
One of my neighbors has a bumper sticker that Covid is a Scamdemic and Plandemic...

Andy Makar
Mason County WA Sept. 20
Years ago I read a science fiction short story that is unsettling in its analogy to this situation. I starts with aliens visiting the Earth and accidently leaving behind a device that can allow metal to be manipulated by softening it, then hardening it. The device gets copied and mass produced. When they returned a year later, they come back and cannot fathom how their device could have resulted in anarchy. THAT is the internet. 5 Recommend Share
GP Oakland Sept. 20
@Andy Makar One supposes that is a reference to the origins of metalworking? And the societal changes it produced? Not bad.

GP
Oakland Sept. 20
Let me ask you all a question. If your neighbor told you the fire in a nearby Oregon town was started by antifa, how would you disprove it? Since you cannot provide evidence for a negative statement, it's difficult. There is actually some evidence that antifa did start the fire: a voice said it on the radio, and tv showed them lighting fireworks in Portland. This isn't very good evidence, but it is evidence, and you can't produce any evidence that antifa did not do it (because there can't be any.) So you are in the position of asking your neighbor to look at the quality of the evidence. This is something very few outside the legal and scientific world are capable of. But that is all you have. Ultimately, it really does go back to belief. How many of us could independently prove that the earth turns around the sun? Those of us who aren't astronomers choose to accept this belief based on what we've been told, and that's how it is with antifa starting the fires.

Blaise Descartes
Seattle Sept. 20
Kristof is afraid that fires in the West represent the new normal. The evidence suggests that this fear is well-founded. He is concerned about the government's paralysis. That is partly due to Trump, who stands a good chance of being reelected on November 3. He is worried about ordinary citizens seeking oversimplified answers and finding them in the conspiracy theories presenting the fire as the work of antifa. I am more worried about the breakdown in credibility of news sources like the NY Times, which finds itself in competition with Fox News and a host of online sources. Indeed, you-tube and facebook will select news stories for you, confirming whatever bias you bring to your reading of the news. There is no guarantee that democracy will survive. One of the things that keeps me up at night is the realization that not only the right, but the left, is subject to oversimplified presentations of global warming. Global warming is a consequence of too much population growth. But as we argue over freedoms for LGBTQ minorities liberals have neglected the importance of freedom of speech. And voices which have warned about population growth have been simply ignored by the left. It isn't enough to shift from Fords using gasoline to Teslas running on electricity. We also need to control population growth. The population of earth will double again by 2072 if current rates continue. Population growth threatens to overwhelm the attempts to move to clean energy. 2 Recommend

secular socialist dem
Bettendorf, IA Sept. 20
The scientific consensus will also conclude that not allowing wildfires to burn compounds the problem. While what I am about to type is not science, continued development in fire prone areas amplifies and compounds every aspect of the problem. From my perspective the system has evolved to socializing cost and privatizing cost in every way. I don't see it getting better, until such time as individuals are held accountable this should be considered normal.
deb inWA Sept. 20
@secular socialist dem PG&E just paid billions in fines and PLEADED GUILTY in starting last year's Paradise fire. They also have already admitted fault in several fires started by their faulty, untended grid. "Individuals" don't need to be held accountable unless there are rules in place for them to follow regarding wildfire. There already are. Most already do. Why do folks act so proud about their 'anti-science' opinion? It's not like this conversation isn't ongoing; nobody argues that development in fire prone areas' carries risks. So does rebuilding in Oklahoma, Florida and Louisiana..... You're right (although confused) about socializing RISK and privatizing PROFIT. See PG&E above.
S Day Texas Sept. 20
Unsure how people lighting fires directly indicates climate change is corroborated. The fellow who was arrested in Tacoma, WA: https://thepostmillennial.com/antifa-activist-charged-for-fire-set-in-washington Looking to past wildfires, like the one's in Montana & Idaho in 2008, 5.5 million acres were burned and certain interest groups advocated for them to burn out because it's apart of the natural cycle. Federal government shouldn't send assistance unless it's possibly to communities in threat of burning, who are humans to say we ought to stop mother nature? It's natural to let these fires burn, if you try to hinder it's course you are stopping the cycle.
Doug Terry Maryland, Washington DC metro Sept. 20 Times Pick
Why do people believe wild stupid things more than actual facts? Partly it is because they like the wild stupid thing more, it gives them some weird comfort. It is also because people are busying with their lives and don't have time to gather enough information to counter the wild rumor that flies around faster than the speed of sound. The most important aspect of successful conspiracy theories is they impart to the person holding them the idea that they are smarter than other people and have "cracked the code" that explains everything or a lot of big things that people don't understand. Reading, thinking, considering and re-considering can seem like hard work, particularly if it is foreign to one's experience and life training. Why not just lock on to a cool idea that comes around, even if it is weird? .

.. ... ...

Murphy San Francisco Sept. 20 Times Pick
This story highlights for me an equally growing problem, the "selective framing" by media outlets on the left and right (NYT and Fox as just two examples). To read Mr Kristof's version, you may believe that arsonists are wild figments of the unhinged radical right imagination. To read the same story on Fox, Antifa arsonists are working their way up your street.

Kristin
Portland, OR Sept. 20 Times Pick
"...the shared understanding of reality that is the basis for any society is eroding." And yet reality still exist. Normally, if someone starts to exhibit the kind of behavior that these "vigilantes" are - screaming about boogeymen, thinking people are out to get them, engaging in aggressive behavior based on paranoid fantasies, creating self-reinforcing delusions, becoming obsessed with baseless conspiracy theories - we would rightly diagnose them as being mentally ill, and to the extent that they represent a danger to others, confine them. I don't think we can afford to see this as just a time of extreme differences of opinion. Facts, truth and reality are still actual, tangible things. And those who have become so disassociated from them that they are stopping vehicles and hunting down their fellow citizen need to be dealt with appropriately.

phornbein
Colorado Sept. 20
We have been witnessing the start of the Second Civil War in America. If we accept the definition of a civil war as a conflict between factions of citizens for either secession or control of the government--including organizations within the existing government--then we are in the beginning stages of a Second Civil War. The question is what the level of violence will be (not will there be violence, but how much violence). We are beginning to see indications of that level. When naturally or accidentally caused wildfires are attributed to one faction as a way to stoke the fires of civil violence, then physical violence between factions is a heartbeat away simply because of the falsity and extremity of the accusations. The era of peaceful protest has passed because of the intensity of feelings on both sides; the anger produced when a government begins denying civil rights, e.g., Freedom of Speech and the Right to Assemble, through legal actions where protest organizers could be charged with sedition (see Barr's comments, 9/16/2020, NYT), which then suggests that all protests become illegal, the fires of violence are stoked. With a heavily-armed populace on both sides, gunfire is a hair-trigger pull away. If Trump and the Republican's intention was to remake America in their image (I leave it to you to supply that image), they are succeeding. If Putin's intention was to bring down America, he is succeeding. If Xi's intention was to dominate the world, he is on that path. Vote 33 Recommend Share
Jumblegym Longmont CO Sept. 20
@phornbein They may have already done it. Keep your powder dry.

Mac
New York Sept. 20
The social fabric has unraveled. Aided and abetted by the world of the social networks....
Brooklyncowgirl USA. Sept. 20
... There's an old saying "Those who the gods would destroy they first make mad." I have come to the conclusion that America has gone qute a long way down that road.
Jontavious Atlanta Sept. 20
And yet, Mr. Kristoff, you never make mention of the real threat that groups like Antifa and other radical left rioters pose to this country (forgetting about attacks on federal buildings in Portland? Attempts to firebomb courthouses? Violence against law enforcement officers?). No, instead it's always Trump, or Trump supporters who are your focus. I do not know whether Antifa has been involved in any of these recent fires, but I do know that these violent elements on the left pose a massive danger to our democracy. You are correct about one thing, though: We should brace ourselves. It's just "what" we need to brace for that is off mark in your article...
Jean CA Sept. 19
It's heartbreaking to watch these three West Coast states burned. For days, the sky was red and the air was unbreathable. But the saddest part was the feeling of helplessness.

Aram Hollman
Arlington, MA Sept. 19
40 years ago, I hitchhiked around the Pacific Northwest during the summer after Mt. St. Helens blew up. Mt. Rainier was ash-coated, as were the wild blueberries I often ate. Epic and Biblical are words inadequate to describe that destruction near Mt. St. Helens, with millions of huge, old trees blown down, piles of mud, and rivers diverted. Yet I and others knew that eventually, that land would regrow, and it did.
Stephanie Wood Montclair NJ Sept. 20
I see a lot of egotism and self-love on both sides. The so-called progressives in our community are breeding at baby boom levels, driving SUVs, and, before the pandemic, you'd see a dozen school buses idling outside every school. Development is out of control as people flee from the city, and people flee from here, or downsize, and breed and breed and breed. Two years ago, we had a flash flood and our street was under water, and there was a lot of damage all over town. Hurricane Irene in 2011 left many with over a foot of water in their basements. And let's not even start on Sandy. My friend lives in Pensacola; their downtown area is under three or four feet of water from Hurricane Sally. It's not just fire, it's floods, and it's not just the GOP which is the problem...
Ted Magnuson Portland OR Sept. 19
That the fires have become a political football is well covered in this piece. As was the climate change crisis...

John Brown
Idaho Sept. 19
I don't blame anyone for guarding their roads if they think arsonists are about. The Tillamook Burn was larger and more devastating than these fires but are we to blame climate change ? Environmentalists and Liberals who do not even live out West, who did not rely upon Logging, placed their concerns about the Spotted Owl and Virgin Forests about the danger of Forest Fires and the livelihood of Loggers and the Towns and Peoples who depended upon Logging. Managed Logging of Forests is not an inherently evil act. Clearing the bush and dead trees is not bad in and of itself. Let Logging companies responsibly manage sections of the Forrests, let Towns clear fire breaks around their perimeters. Place large Water towers in strategic points throughout the Forests, huge mounds of dirt/sand/gravel next to them so that the Firefighters have what they need to fight the fires. Force developers to build houses 50 feet apart. Require fireproof roofs, require thinning of trees in housing developments. Require volunteer Fire Departments in every neighborhood so that if they do nothing else, they can cut a fire break, water down the grasses around their neighborhoods, chase and extinguish embers, something/anything versus fleeing their homes without putting up a fight.

Robert
Seattle Sept. 19
"... dry conditions exacerbated by climate change coupled with an unusual windstorm ..." May I add that a couple of other things have also contributed to making the fires worse or making them harder to manage? For a century or so, in California, Oregon and Washington we have not been letting the normal, periodic fires burn. Consequently, a great deal of fuel has built up on the forest floor. Second, folks have increasingly been building homes or even neighborhoods in places which have historically seen such normal, periodic fires.

Elizabeth
CA Sept. 20
@Robert Yes. But now controlled burns are a bit problematic, given the droughts, the heat, the massive fuel loads from all the dead trees. It's just so easy for the controlled burns to get out of control.

Carver
Oregon Sept. 19
Hi, I am from Clackamas County metro. Every time a FaceBook "Friend" (and I personally know all of mine) posted a rumor, I tried to find the footage from any of our 4 local news stations to depute their post but they just shared another one. One said she didn't trust KGW 8 the local NBC station and when I told her the same story was on KPTV 12, the local Fox station. She said, "I'm just stressed"
M.i. Estner Wayland, MA Sept. 19
@David Biesecker Remember that half the people are of below average intelligence. That may answer the existence of the small percentage of conspiracy theorists. One problem is social media provides free and outsized loudspeaker systems that enables them to find each other.

GreenSpirit
Pacific Northwest Sept. 19
@M.i. Estner First, let me identify myself as a liberal Democrat who has a masters degree. I find it more than disheartening when half of the country, or half of rural or not formally educated folks are said to have low intelligent quotas, critical thinking skills or analytical abilities. You better believe that when a highly trained Eastern Oregon firefighter is assessing how to save peoples lives, homes and land, has to quickly act with their many faceted skill set and are calling on abilities you or I would not be able to fathom. Same with farmers of large pieces of complicated crops and land. Same with city managers, librarians, and social workers for the elderly--all having low city budgets. What about the veterinarians, doctors and nurses in rural areas? This is exactly the same as calling Black or Hispanics people of lower intelligence. And, there are different types of intelligence. I know a literary critic, a liberal Democrat, who doesn't have the critical thinking skills to run her own home or raise her children. If you look, you can see these same differences in any group. It has to do with the way people are raised, what they are using their skill sets for, what information they are used to consuming, money, ideology, etc...And it has to do with being devalued for growing your food, producing your meat, chicken and eggs. I'm not excusing the violence, guns, racism and hatred. These divides have been with us for ages. Please don't stoke the fires.

Usok
Houston Sept. 19
If we have a selfish federal government, then we will have selfish states and people. Everyone is for himself or herself. No one will think about other people or public good. It all started from the top
Kathy Lollock Santa Rosa, CA Sept. 19
In 2017, 2018, and 2019 northern California's new phenomenon of forceful 40 to 60 miles per hour winds - in Fall, no less - caused old and aging electrical equipment to malfunction. As a consequence, too much of Santa Rosa burnt to the ground, and the entire town of Paradise ceased to exist. This year during the heat of a hotter than usual summer following yet another dry winter, we had dry lightning strikes from Sonoma County to Santa Clara County and beyond.

Stuck on a mountain
New England Sept. 19
Yes, the science is clear and you fail to mention it. The forest fires reach critical mass and spread because of the surplus of dead or dying trees. They are there because the federal government essentially no longer allows logging on its vast landholdings and also fails to allow controlled burns to clean out the tinderbox. I won't bother attaching a link because any Google search proves the point. Why focus on hysteria and rumermongering among the Deplorables? Come on, Mr. Kristof, you were a Deplorable once (when you were a kid growing up in the countryside) as was I. Please defend them sometimes, particularly when the actual causes are so well documented.

Jorn
Sagebrush Country Sept. 19
@Stuck on a mountain Western States are working to clear the brush from forests where, due to our previous incomplete understanding of forest ecology, fires were suppressed for a century. However, the cost is astronomical and there are millions of acres left to clear. Spending their entire forest management budgets fighting current wildfires doesn't help. We've been doing controlled burns for decades but in many areas, they're now too dangerous. Dry forests and a dense understory can quickly turn a "controlled burn" into a conflagration. Many ranchers and timber companies who profit from our state and national forests seem unwilling to pay to keep those forests healthy. People who live in or near forests mostly have incomes too low to pay for forest management. The National Forest Service, Department of the Interior and USDA have made some progress, but the problem is huge. Saying we can prevent forest fires by allowing larger timber harvests is an oversimplification. No solution to this complex issue will be simple, perfect or cheap.

Glenn Ribotsky
Queens Sept. 19
Wacky conspiracy theories to explain seemingly bizarre and unusual occurrences have been around since the dawn of human cognition. But in an electronic/social media age, these get spread even faster than a wind-blown fire climbs a canyon hillside. Previously, they were spread one set of ears at a time; now millions of eyes can read them every second. And that is a major part of the problem.

DeHypnotist
West Linn, Oregon Sept. 19
As a grad student in sociology, having lived through the 60s and participated in the counterculture, I was deeply intrigued by the social construction of reality - how we come to share a taken-for-granted world. This is a long-standing concern within sociological social psychology. We examined how language, interpersonal communications, media and social structure shaped ones perception of one's self, what is real, what's important. At the time, however, this was considered theoretical and academic. 40 years later, understanding how Americans' realities have come to diverge is no longer armchair social science. It's urgent and in our faces, as is the question of how can we heal this terrible fracturing of our world?

Alex B
Newton, MA Sept. 19
@DeHypnotist Yes. When studying for the degree in and then teaching sociology in my early years, I learned that, too. But, I have to admit, it's actually taken all the decades of life since then, and now the obvious confirmation of it by this current 'reality' to actually realize, deep down in my guts, that we 'make up' our so-called 'social reality' simply to serve the most basic of biological requirements: the need to dominate in the deadly completion with the other 'tribes' of our species just to survive. We are, after all, animals like all the others, no matter how much we blab about how much 'smarter' we are.

Metaecongary
Show Low, AZ Sept. 20
@Alex B The primal driver, deep in the core of our brain, is usefully thought of as "reptilian." Cold-blooded. Egoistic. Hedonistic. And, in extreme cases, narcissistic, and, heaven forbid when all three are present...

Linda
Anchorage Sept. 19
I lived for a few years in Brazil when it was a dictatorship. The similarities between Brazil and what is happening in the US is startling. The police were being used to quell peaceful protesters and the justice system co-opted by authorities, fear mongering were present, just as now in the US....

Lois Ruble
San Diego Sept. 19
I didn't live in the US from 1977-1999, only visiting on short trips. That enabled me to see changes in society that were slow and not seen by those residing here. And when I came back permanently I could feel immediately a deep change....

JD Athey
Oregon Sept. 20
@Thomas Murphy 'Pandering to the lowest common denominator is how they play their game, and always have:'
Agoldstein Pdx Sept. 19
Perhaps an apt metaphor for the "danger sign ahead" is the approach of a Category three hurricane and it's increasing in intensity. One of the stark disconnects is between the message in an article like this and the politicians and citizens who are little concerned about tempering rhetoric and elevating the importance of eschewing misinformation. We are in the Misinformation Age and the victims of a cyber war, evolving into a civil war.
Giogio Houston Sept. 20
@ML What is happening here? These are the beginnings of what happened in Germany in the 30s. Over there the reason was the loss of WWI. Here, is the obvious decline of the American lifestyle and we have not seen anything yet. The range of the economic decline is covered by 7 trillion dollars in phony money. I fervently hope and pray that is not too late to stop the process. All men and women of goodwill have to rally to restore a sane, and one, country . Stay safe! It is going to get worse before it gets better.

grennan
green bay Sept. 19
@FunkyIrishman Right on. Water is an enormous issue waiting to happen here -- and Wisconsin is estimated to have between 10 and 20 percent of the world's fresh water (depending on how it's calculated and whether that includes some of Lakes Michigan and Superior. A Dept. of Climate, Weather and Water would be a logical cabinet department.

poslug
Cambridge Sept. 20
@FunkyIrishman And polluting the potable water continues sometimes by the most resolvable modern approaches: sewers and water treatment plants. Reagan ended federal funding for sewers leaving septic systems (and now ancient sewers) where sewers would lead to protected fresh water. All the medicines, chemicals, and toxins seep unseen but very real into fresh and also salt water. We are not a modern nation any more.

[Sep 21, 2020] The Orwellian indoctrination of kindergarteners with Critical Race Theory is outrageous and must be stopped

Being a secular religion, neoliberalism produced a series of pseudo scientific perversions with the critical race theory as one of the most interesting examples. This reincarnation of Lysenkoism is pretty dangerous.
Notable quotes:
"... Under CRT, Martin Luther King's dream is abolished, as racial identification is mandatory, and white children are taught self-loathing and black children to embrace victimhood. Like a religion, it is unfalsifiable, elevates subjective experience above objective reality, and crumbles under intellectual scrutiny. ..."
"... Contorting the meaning of "activist" to suit an ideological need, and claiming that all "activists" have "empathy" and "show compassion" is the kindergarten equivalent of teaching "war is peace,""freedom is slavery," and "ignorance is strength." ..."
"... Do the "activists" of the Westboro Baptist Church, Antifa, or KKK "have empathy" and "show compassion" ? And what about Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, and Osama Bin Laden? None of these were profiles in empathy and compassion either, but they, too, started out as what one might call "activists." ..."
"... George Orwell wrote, "If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought." It seems obvious that CRT has corrupted the language used by my child's school, and that this corrupted language is intended, in turn, to corrupt the thoughts and minds of young students. ..."
"... This isn't education – this is blatant indoctrination. The school isn't teaching children how to think, but rather what to think. ..."
"... The school claims its mission is to develop "critical thinking" but does misinforming children about the definition of "activist" spur critical thinking? I've asked the leadership of the school this question, as well as for their specific definition of "equity" and "anti-racism" – terms they frequently espouse. Does "equity" mean "equality of opportunity" or "equality of outcome" ? Does "anti-racism" mean "opposing discrimination in all its forms" or "discriminating to benefit minorities" ? These questions have been entirely ignored. ..."
"... At best, CRT is an intellectually flaccid and insidiously vacuous ideology that focuses on "unlearning" alleged "implicit bias" at the expense of learning the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. At worst, it is a malevolent, mendacious, and cancerous cult that demands discrimination against some children under the guise of "equity." ..."
"... Indoctrinating children with CRT is akin to systemic child abuse, as it steals innocence, twists minds, and crushes spirits. Parents must move heaven and earth to protect their children, and they can start by coming together and rooting out CRT from their schools by any and all legal means necessary. ..."
Sep 21, 2020 | www.rt.com

Woke teachers and school administrators are waging a culture war for the minds of kids as young as five, by inculcating them with toxic social justice teachings.

This summer, I got an unpleasant initiation into the culture war when, in the wake of the George Floyd killing, my five-year-old child's elementary-middle public charter school here in Los Angeles went from being an academic institution interested in preparing students for the workplace and college to an ideological hotbed devoted to promoting Critical Race Theory (CRT) over all other subjects.

CRT is a philosophy of hyper-racialization that looks to radically transform our "inherently racist" society, including children. Under CRT, Martin Luther King's dream is abolished, as racial identification is mandatory, and white children are taught self-loathing and black children to embrace victimhood. Like a religion, it is unfalsifiable, elevates subjective experience above objective reality, and crumbles under intellectual scrutiny.

A shameless example of CRT indoctrination in action is that the very first lesson taught to my child's kindergarten class this autumn was "how to be an activist."

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines activist as "a person who uses or supports strong actions (such as public protests) in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue." My child's school decided to perniciously redefine "activist" as "someone who notices that a system is unfair to another person, group of people, or animals, and then creates a new system that ensures fairness for every person, group of people, or animal."

Redefining "activist" is as Orwellian as it gets. Words have meaning and meaning matters. Calling an ass an eagle doesn't make it sprout wings and fly. But the mendacity doesn't stop there. The school also teaches the four traits of an "activist," which they claim to be "Observe. Ask questions. Have empathy. Show compassion." But these positive traits are more defining of a good neighbor or a good friend, rather than an "activist."

Contorting the meaning of "activist" to suit an ideological need, and claiming that all "activists" have "empathy" and "show compassion" is the kindergarten equivalent of teaching "war is peace,""freedom is slavery," and "ignorance is strength."

Do the "activists" of the Westboro Baptist Church, Antifa, or KKK "have empathy" and "show compassion" ? And what about Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, and Osama Bin Laden? None of these were profiles in empathy and compassion either, but they, too, started out as what one might call "activists."

George Orwell wrote, "If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought." It seems obvious that CRT has corrupted the language used by my child's school, and that this corrupted language is intended, in turn, to corrupt the thoughts and minds of young students.

ALSO ON RT.COM Is America heading for a race war? Unless Democrats stop protecting criminals, it is inevitable

This intentionally deceptive "activist" lesson runs throughout the school year and is accompanied by the "activist song," that's sung everyday to the tune of 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat'. The lyrics are "I am an activist, I look and I observe, I ask questions and find out, what has been unheard / Having empathy, helps me understand, I can make a change, working hand in hand."

This isn't education – this is blatant indoctrination. The school isn't teaching children how to think, but rather what to think.

The school claims its mission is to develop "critical thinking" but does misinforming children about the definition of "activist" spur critical thinking? I've asked the leadership of the school this question, as well as for their specific definition of "equity" and "anti-racism" – terms they frequently espouse. Does "equity" mean "equality of opportunity" or "equality of outcome" ? Does "anti-racism" mean "opposing discrimination in all its forms" or "discriminating to benefit minorities" ? These questions have been entirely ignored.

I also asked if my child would face discrimination at the school, and the principal and CEO steadfastly refuse to answer that question too, which, unfortunately, seems like an answer unto itself, and one that may carry legal liability.

That this taxpayer-funded charter school – which, according to reports , just received between $2 million and $5 million in pandemic-related Paycheck Protection Program loans from the federal government – refuses to say it won't discriminate against a five-year-old, is quite an indictment. It reveals the ethical rot at the center of CRT, and the catastrophic error the American education system is making by embracing it.

At best, CRT is an intellectually flaccid and insidiously vacuous ideology that focuses on "unlearning" alleged "implicit bias" at the expense of learning the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. At worst, it is a malevolent, mendacious, and cancerous cult that demands discrimination against some children under the guise of "equity."

Parents should be in charge of their children's moral and ethical education, and if parents want CRT taught to their kids, let them teach it at home. Just as I wouldn't impose my Catholic faith on other people's children, I don't want their CRT cult imposed on mine.

Many parents privately tell me they're horrified that CRT is being taught in kindergarten, but are reluctant to speak out for fear of being labeled 'racist'. This is part of the 'social justice' game, in which people are shamed into silence and compliance by scurrilous labels. But parents must screw their courage to the sticking place and fight back now, because the war for children's minds is being waged, and teachers' unions, school boards, and woke faculty members and administrators are moving fast and pushing hard to make CRT the default foundation for all education in America.

Indoctrinating children with CRT is akin to systemic child abuse, as it steals innocence, twists minds, and crushes spirits. Parents must move heaven and earth to protect their children, and they can start by coming together and rooting out CRT from their schools by any and all legal means necessary.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Michael McCaffrey is a writer and cultural critic who lives in Los Angeles. His work can be read at RT, Counterpunch and at his website mpmacting.com/blog . He is also the host of the popular cinema podcast Looking California and Feeling Minnesota.

[Sep 21, 2020] Tucker: Democrats, fires and the climate misinformation campaign

Highly recommended!
Nice take on imbecilization of important and complex topics by the US MSM and politicians.
Money quote about neoliberal Dems like Obama and Biden " But there are others for whom altruism is an alien concept. Self-interest is all they know. These people never pause. They relentlessly press for any advantage, under any circumstances. They see human suffering as a means to increase their power."
Another money quote: "in the hands of Democratic politicians, climate change is like systemic racism in the sky: You can't see it, but it's everywhere and it's deadly."
Notable quotes:
"... But there are others for whom altruism is an alien concept. Self-interest is all they know. These people never pause. They relentlessly press for any advantage, under any circumstances. They see human suffering as a means to increase their power. ..."
"... Joe Biden's closest friend in the world, a prominent Martha's Vineyard kite-surfer called Barack Obama, echoed that message with his trademark restraint. Obama declawed that your "life" depends on voting for Joe Biden. ..."
"... One of the few Republicans who still hold elected office in California, state Assemblyman Heath Flora, last year called on using the state's $22 billion budget surplus to implement vegetation management. ..."
"... Fires don't spread as well without huge connected forests functioning as kindling. It's obvious, which is why it's unthinkable to mention it in some Democratic circles." ..."
Sep 11, 2020 | www.youtube.com

September 11. 2020

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: Massive wildfires continue to sweep across huge portions of the Pacific Northwest.

In Oregon, half a million residents have been forced to evacuate -- one out of every ten people in the state.

Dozens are dead tonight, including small children. But the fires still aren't close to contained. Watch this report from Fox's Jeff Paul:

Video report

And it continues as we speak, walls of flame consuming everything in their path: homes, animals, human beings. Tragedy on a massive scale.

When something this awful happens, decent people pause. They put aside their own interests for a moment. They consider how they can help. We've seen that kind of selflessness before.

This is, remember, the anniversary of 9-11. But there are others for whom altruism is an alien concept. Self-interest is all they know. These people never pause. They relentlessly press for any advantage, under any circumstances. They see human suffering as a means to increase their power.

These are the people who turn funerals into political rallies and feel no shame for doing it.

As Americans burned to death, people like this swung into action immediately. They went on television with a partisan talking point: Climate change caused these fires, they said. They didn't explain how that happened. They just kept saying it.

In the hands of Democratic politicians, climate change is like systemic racism in the sky: you can't see it, but it's everywhere, and it's deadly. And, like systemic racism, it's your fault: The American middle class did it. They ate too many hamburgers, drove too many SUVs, had too many children.

A lot of them wear T-shirts to work and didn't finish college. That causes climate change too. And, worst of all, some of them may vote for Donald Trump in November.

If there's anything that absolutely, definitively causes climate change -- and literally over a hundred percent of scientists agree with this established fact -- it's voting for Donald Trump. You might as well start a tire fire. You're destroying the ozone layer.

Joe Biden has checked the science, and he agrees. Yesterday, the people on Biden's staff who understand the internet tweeted out an image of the wildfires, along with the message, "Climate change is already here -- and we're witnessing its devastating effects every single day. We have to get President Trump out of the White House."

Again, by voting for Donald Trump, you've made hundreds of thousands of Oregonians homeless tonight. You've killed people.

Joe Biden's closest friend in the world, a prominent Martha's Vineyard kite-surfer called Barack Obama, echoed that message with his trademark restraint. Obama declawed that your "life" depends on voting for Joe Biden.

Hold on a minute, you might say. Doesn't this very same Barack Obama own a $12 million spread right on the ocean in Massachusetts?

At a time when sea levels are rising and we're about to see killer whales in the Rockies? Honestly, it doesn't seem like Obama is overly concerned about climate change? And by the way, didn't he go to law school? When he did become a climate expert?

Those seem like good questions. But lawyers pretending to be scientists are now everywhere in the Democratic Party.

Here's the governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, a proud graduate of Willamette University law school, explaining that he's already figured out the "cause" of the fires. Watch:

INSLEE: Fires are proof we need a stronger liberal agenda Sept 8 TRT: 18 Inslee: And these are conditions that are exacerbated by the changing climate that we are suffering. And I do not believe that we should surrender these subdivisions or these houses to climate change-exacerbated fires. We should fight the cause of these fires.

This is a crock. In fact, there is not a single scientist on earth who knows whether, or by how much, these fires may have been "exacerbated" by warmer temperatures caused by "climate change," whatever that means anymore.

All we have is conjecture from a handful of scientists, none of whom have reached any definitive conclusions.

Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA, for example, has admitted that it's, quote, "hard to determine whether climate change played a role in sparking the fires."

Meanwhile, investigators have determined that the massive El Dorado fire in California, which has torched nearly 14,000 acres, was caused by morons setting off some kind of fireworks. And then on Wednesday, police announced that a criminal investigation is underway into the massive Almeda fire in Ashland, Oregon.

The sheriff there said it's too early to say what caused the fire, but he's said human remains were found at the suspected origin point. Nothing is being ruled out, including arson.

The more you know, the more complicated it is, like everything. Serious people are just beginning to gather evidence to determine what happened to cause this disaster.

But at the same time, unserious people are now everywhere on the media right now, drowning out nuance. Don't worry about the facts, they say. Just trust us -- the sky orange is orange over San Francisco because households making $40,000 a year made the mistake of voting for a Republican.

Therefore you must hand us total control of the nation's economy. Watch amateur arson detective Nancy Pelosi explain:

PELOSI: Mother Earth is angry. She's telling us, whether she's telling us with hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, fires in the west, whatever it is, the climate crisis is real and has an impact.

Mother Nature is angry. Please. When was the last time Nancy Pelosi went outside? No one asked her. All we know is what she said: climate change caused this. Of course.

No matter the natural disaster -- hurricanes, tornadoes, whatever -- climate change did it. Keep in mind, Nancy Pelosi owns two sub-zero freezers. They cost $10,000 apiece.

We know because she showed them off on national television. Those use a lot of energy. Like Barack Obama, she constantly flies private between her multi-million dollar estates all over the country.

Obviously, she doesn't care about climate change. And neither do her supporters -- otherwise, they'd be trying to destroy the mansions she owns, not the hair salons that expose her hypocrisy.

For the left, this is really about blaming and ritually humiliating the middle-class for the election of Donald Trump. Joe Biden knows that the Pennsylvanians who would be financially ruined by his fracking ban are the same Pennsylvanians who flipped the state red in 2016 for the first time in a generation.

That's the whole point. One of the reasons Joe Biden is barely allowed outside is that he has no problem showing his contempt for the middle-class he supposedly cares so much about.

In 2019, he openly mocked coal miners and suggested they just get programming jobs once they're all fired. Watch:

BIDEN: I come from a family, an area where's coal mining – in Scranton. Anybody, that can go down 300 to 3,000 feet in a mine, sure as hell can learn how to program as well.

Learn to code! Hilarious. Joe Biden should try it. But there isn't time. The world is ending. Last summer, Sandy Cortez [AOC] did the math and calculated we only have 12 years left to live .

If that sounds bad, consider this -- Just four months after that warning, Sandy Cortez tweeted that we only have 10 years to "cut carbon emissions in half."

Think about the math here. We lost two years in just four months. At that rate, we could literally all die unless Joe Biden wins in November. Which is of course what they're saying.

On Tuesday, California Gavin Newsom pretty much said it Newsom abandoned science long ago. Science is too stringent, too western, too patriarchal.

Newsom is a man of faith now. He's decided climate change caused all of this , and that's final. He's not listening to any other arguments. Watch:

NEWSOM: I have no patience. And I say this lovingly, not as an ideologue, but as someone who prides himself on being open to argument, interested in evidence. But I quite literally have no patience for climate change deniers. It simply follows completely inconsistent, that point of view, with the reality on the ground.

People like Gavin Newsom don't want to listen to any "climate change deniers." What's a "climate change denier?" Anyone who thinks our ruling class has no idea how to run their states or protect their citizens.

Are we "climate change deniers" if we point out that California has failed to implement meaningful deforestation measures that would have dramatically slowed the spread of these wildfires?

In 2018, a state oversight agency in California found that years of poor or nonexistent forest management policies in the Sierra Nevada forests had contributed to wildfires.

One of the few Republicans who still hold elected office in California, state Assemblyman Heath Flora, last year called on using the state's $22 billion budget surplus to implement vegetation management.

Fires don't spread as well without huge connected forests functioning as kindling. It's obvious, which is why it's unthinkable to mention it in some Democratic circles."

Presumably, you're also a climate-change denier if you point out that six of the Oregon National Guard's wildfire-fighting helicopters are currently in Afghanistan.

Instead of dropping water to suppress blazes, the Chinook aircraft are busy supplying a war effort that's been going on for nearly 20 years. That seems significant. Has anyone asked Gavin Newsom or Jay Inslee about that? Do any of the Democrats who control these states even care?

The answer, of course, is probably not. It was just last week that Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti admitted on-the-record that his city has become completely third-world.

Of course, Garcetti didn't blame himself for this turn of events. He blamed you. Quote: "It's almost 3 p.m," Garcetti tweeted. "Time to turn off major appliances, set the thermostat to 78 degrees (or use a fan instead, turn off excess lights and unplug any appliances you're not using. We need every Californian to help conserve energy. Please do your part."

"Please do your part." Garcetti wants his constituents to suffer to try to solve a problem that Democrats in his state created. Even now, as residents in Northern California are facing sweeping power outages in addition to wildfires.

In the meantime, Gavin Newsom has vowed that 50 percent of California's energy grid will be based on quote "renewable" energy sources within a decade.

That means sources like wind and solar power -- which can't be dialed up to meet periods of extreme demand, like California is seeing right now during its heatwave.

Newsom was asked last month whether he would consider revising this stance given the blackouts that have left millions of Californians without power.

Newsom responded, quote, "We are going to radically change the way we produce and consume energy." In other words, The blackouts will continue until morale improves. So will the wildfires. Get used to it.


Fox News
6.2M subscribers SUBSCRIBE In the hands of Democratic politicians, climate change is like systemic racism in the sky: You can't see it, but it's everywhere and it's deadly. #FoxNews #Tucker


tintin3366
, 1 week ago

The fires we had here in Australia were lit by humans. They tried to say it was climate change.


Jadyyn Starlight
, 1 week ago

I think "Climate change" is exacerbated by the hot air coming out of these politicians

MAGA COUNTRY , 1 week ago (edited)

This is a direct result of Gavin Newsom eliminating forestation controls. Jerry Brown kept them in place, the only thing he did correctly. Democrats are to blame for all of this.


stelpa66
, 1 day ago

When environmentalists pushed through their "leave forests alone, allow nature to be undisturbed" bs, California and other states stopped clearing underbrush, also known as fire fuel and now we see a perfect example of cause and effect.

Don't get me wrong I am a conservatist , but with common sense , we can't conserve unless we protect and nurture nature to thrive. In fact extremism in environmentalism destroys as we see. People dead, animals dead, homes destroyed, forest destroyed because of extremism.

The narrative to leave forests alone happened long before Trump, believing otherwise makes you a useful idiot. Congratulations.

You could Google this old narrative but will you find it, well it's Google, you have to find the people who heard and lived the so called natural environmental push narrative, we remember and we remember the warnings. Congratulations, your ignorance has caused harm.

Quinten Belfor , 1 week ago (edited)

They were caused by "peaceful" arsonists


Lori Taylor
, 2 days ago

Tucker most always speaks the truth. I say "most" bc no one is perfect 😉 Everything he said here was the truth! Thank you Tucker!! 👏🏼

[Sep 12, 2020] Nineteen years since 9/11 Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman attempt to Infects Readers With 9/11 Dementia

Sep 12, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

psychohistorian , Sep 11 2020 16:05 utc | 2

The price for the worst tweet of the year goes to Paul Krugman .


bigger

In the real world the U.S. reacted to 9/11 by doing extremely bad and ridiculous things as well as this :

In the days, weeks, and months immediately following the 9/11 attacks, Arab-Americans, South Asian-Americans, Muslim-Americans, and Sikh-Americans were the targets of widespread hate violence. Many of the perpetrators of these acts of hate violence claimed they were acting patriotically by retaliating against those responsible for 9/11.
...
Just after September 11, numerous Arabs, Muslims, and individuals perceived to be Arab or Muslim were assaulted, and some killed, by individuals who believed they were responsible for or connected to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The first backlash killing occurred four days after September 11.

Balbir Singh Sodhi was shot to death on September 15 as he was planting flowers outside his Chevron gas station. The man who shot Sodhi, Frank Roque, had told an employee of an Applebee's restaurant that he was "going to go out and shoot some towel heads." Roque mistakenly thought Sodhi was Arab because Sodhi, an immigrant from India, had a beard and wore a turban as part of his Sikh faith. After shooting Sodhi, Roque drove to a Mobil gas station a few miles away and shot at a Lebanese-American clerk. He then drove to a home he once owned and shot and almost hit an Afghani man who was coming out the front door. When he was arrested two hours later, Roque shouted, "I stand for America all the way."

The next two killings were committed by a man named Mark Stroman. On September 15, 2001, Stroman shot and killed Waquar Hassan, an immigrant from Pakistan, at Hassan's grocery store in Dallas, Texas. On October 4, 2001, Stroman shot and killed Vasudev Patel, an immigrant from India and a naturalized U.S. citizen, while Patel was working at his Shell station convenience store. A store video camera recorded the killing, helping police to identify Stroman as the killer. Stroman later told a Dallas television station that he shot Hassan and Patel because, "We're at war. I did what I had to do. I did it to retaliate against those who retaliated against us."

Beyond these killings, there were more than a thousand other anti-Muslim or anti-Arab acts of hate which took the form of physical assaults, verbal harassment and intimidation, arson, attacks on mosques, vandalism, and other property damage.

Instead of "calming prejudice" the GB Bush administration institutionalized hate crimes:

First, in the weeks immediately following the September 11 attacks, the government began secretly arresting and detaining Arab, Muslim, and South Asian men. Within the first two months after the attacks, the government had detained at least 1,200 men.
...
Second, in November 2001, the Department of Justice began efforts to "interview" approximately 5,000 men between the ages of 18 and 33 from Middle Eastern or Muslim nations who had arrived in the United States within the previous two years on a temporary student, tourist, or business visa and were lawful residents of the United States. Four months later, the government announced it would seek to interview an additional 3,000 men from countries with an Al Qaeda presence.
...
Third, in September 2002, the government implemented a "Special Registration" program also known as NSEERS (National Security Entry-Exit Registration System), requiring immigrant men from 26 mostly Muslim countries to register their name, address, telephone number, place of birth, date of arrival in the United States, height, weight, hair and eye color, financial information and the addresses, birth dates and phone numbers of parents and any foreign friends with the government.

Besides all that a rather useless security theater was installed at U.S. airports which has costs many billions in lost time and productivity ever since. The Patriot Act was introduced which allowed for unlimited spying on private citizens. Wars were launched that were claimed to be justified by 9/11. These were "mass outbreaks of anti-Muslim sentiment and violence. Many were killed and maimed in them. People were tortured and vanished. All of this happened largely to applause of a majority of the U.S. people which were glued to 24 and dreamed of being "terrorist hunters".

Anyone with a functional memory knows that the U.S. reaction to 9/11 was anything but "pretty calm". It is ridiculous that Krugman is claiming that.

Posted by b at 15:46 UTC | Comments (73)

I find it a bit humorous b that you are critical of Krugman for his 911 dementia when for years many of us finance types have railed about how morally corrupt the logic and thinking of Paul Krugman is.

Paul Krugman is to economics what Bernie Sanders has become for the purported "left" side of the "right wing" uni-party....a sheep dog for the easily led.

Paul Krugman is an acolyte for the God of Mammon/global private finance elite.


Clueless Joe , Sep 11 2020 16:11 utc | 3

Paul is getting old. Looks like senile dementia isn't limited to Biden nowadays.

Red Ryder , Sep 11 2020 16:44 utc | 11

While spreading anger and hate toward Arab people, The Bush Administration rescued the many members of the Kingdom's family from all around the US and escorted their flights out of the US to safety in Saudi Arabia.

Distracting the public big time was Dick Cheney, VP, who insisted from the very next day that the plot to hit the Twin Towers was Saddam's plot.

So, the historical record and US response was skewed from the getgo. AQ and Bin Laden didn't concern the neocons. They wanted the US to go to Iraq again, and this time start a wide war that would spread to Syria and Lebanon and Iran.

It was easy times to spread fear and hate, and Cheney and the war mongers of CENTCOM were riding high. Americans were scared of all Arabs, all Sunnis, all Shiites, from anywhere. They were all the same in the public's mind. Enemies.

It was perfect and has led to 19 years of endless wars. Add ISIS and al Nusra and the Taliban and you have an endless soup of enemies.

Jackrabbit , Sep 11 2020 17:01 utc | 13

I'm coining a new term: "Empire apologist".

!!

michaelj72 , Sep 11 2020 19:59 utc | 35

krugman is a terrible shill for the neo-cons and liberal-interventionists of the 21st century

at my age, I shouldn't really be surprised any more by what american "intellectuals" and "nobel prize winners" say about anything..... but I am.

He's neo-liberal interventionist moron of the first rank, and saying what he did actually normalizes the war mania and war-mongering which has become so staple in mainstream thought and the "think tanks" and is now practically part of the american DNA and "culture".
shame on krugman

Hoarsewhisperer , Sep 11 2020 20:08 utc | 36

...
It appears the Deep State has attacked the USA's people twice in two decades--on 911 and with the decision to let as many die as possible by deliberately not doing anything to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and allowing the real economy to atrophy so even more will die in the long run.
Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 11 2020 19:40 utc | 34

Talking about tilting at windmills - I'll never forget Robert Fisk angrily pointing out that the Yankees knew where to find Al CIA-duh because they extended the cave complex at Tora Bora to help Al CIA-duh, equipped with 10,000 US Stinger Missiles, kick the Russians out of Afghanistan in the 1980s!!!

(The Yankees had to wait for 10+ years to invade Afghanistan because it takes that long for Stingers to pass their Use By date)

Rob , Sep 11 2020 20:08 utc | 37

@michaelj72. "krugman is a terrible shill for the neo-cons and liberal-interventionists of the 21st century"

Actually, Paul Krugman was a strong and outspoken opponent of the Iraq War since early 2003 and possibly earlier. He was amongst the few mainstream liberal commentators to take that stand.

Jen , Sep 11 2020 21:02 utc | 44

If MoA readers and commenters were to read the entire series of Krugman's tweets, six in all, they will see mention of how the Bush govt began exploiting the events of 11 September 2001 almost immediately. Though the example Krugman actually uses would make most people cringe at what it suggests about the bubble he lives in and how far removed it is from most people's lives and experiences, and his reference to a "horrible war" does not mention either Afghanistan or Iraq.

It has to be said that Twitter is not designed very well for the kind of informal conversational commentary that people often use it for. But then you would think Krugman would use something other than Twitter to discuss and compare 9/11 with the impact of COVID-19.

The real issue I have with Krugman's Tweet is that he is revising history and bending over backwards to apologise for Dubya in a way to criticise Donald Trump's performance as President.

uncle tungsten , Sep 11 2020 22:13 utc | 50
b " Anyone with a functional memory knows that the U.S. reaction to 9/11 was anything but "pretty calm". It is ridiculous that Krugman is claiming that. "

Careful with that axe b, you are talking about Biden's chief economic adviser and likely appointee as Chair of the Fed. How does this look?
Volker
Greenspan
Bernanke
Yellen
Powell
Krugman

What could go wrong?

Prof K , Sep 11 2020 22:15 utc | 51
From 2019, Krugman de facto admits he was wrong his whole life. What a tool.

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-10-10/inequality-globalization-and-the-missteps-of-1990s-economics

David G , Sep 11 2020 22:34 utc | 54

uncle tungsten | Sep 11 2020 22:13 utc | 50:

Reading Krugman's columns in 2016, I had a strong to overwhelming sense that this was a person revving up for a spot in Hillary's White House or cabinet. For some reason it isn't hitting me as strongly this time around – he may not have as close connections in Biden's circle – but it certainly would not be a surprise to see him take a turn through the media/government revolving door if Trump loses (though, fwiw, I don't think it will be a job at the Fed).

Et Tu , Sep 11 2020 22:48 utc | 55

Yep. Pretty staggering how a few disgruntled ex-CIA contractors managed to, deliberately or not, help the US Gov't launch the biggest world war operation right under the noses of the brainwashed masses.

99% of Westerners still are clueless as to explaining the last 20 years in a broader geopolitical context.

Russ , Sep 11 2020 22:48 utc | 56

Posted by: Caliman | Sep 11 2020 22:15 utc | 52

#28: "The antiwar protests in the US were small and insignificant."

No they were not. Millions of people demonstrated against the planned war, in the US, in the UK, and around the world...

We mustn't forget how the vast majority of those who allegedly were anti-war suddenly went totally pro-war silent upon Obama coming in.

But that pales compared to the vile spectacle of all the self-alleged "anti-authoritarians", "anti-propagandists" "dissidents", who suddenly regard the government media as the literal voice of God, where their alleged God speaks of Covid.

Prof K , Sep 11 2020 22:55 utc | 57

His book, End this Depression Now, is pretty weak. He has no theory of why the crash occurred. He critiques the austerity agenda but doesn't understand that government spending CAN create tax liabilities for capital down the road and eat into profits, thus blocking expanded investments and growth. Moronic libertarians hate Krugman just because they are right wing assholes who think, like fairies, that a free market without the state will work fine and self correct. Marx debunked this fairy tale thoroughly in Capital Volume 1, showing that, even if we start with the mythical free market of libertarian morons, capitalism will still operate according to the general law by which concentration and centralization lead to class polarization. In any case, in volume 3 of Capital, Marx develops his laws of crisis, showing that the cycles of expansion and depression under capitalism follow the movements of the rate of profit, which itself is determined by the ratio of the value of sunk capital in production technologies to the rate of exploitation (profits/wages). If the former rises more than the latter, the rate of profit sinks, along with investment, output and employment. Financial crises then set in.

The empirical evidence in the data bears out Marx's theory, not Krugman's dumb notion of aggregate demand, or the stupid libertarian focus on interest rates.

vk , Sep 12 2020 0:16 utc | 64

We could discuss here all day about the sociological subject of the American people's true positioning in the aftermath of 9/11. It would be, sincerely, a waste of time.

The important thing to grasp over this episode - from the point of view of History - is this: it was a strategic victory for al-Qaeda . The USA took the bait (all scripted?) and went into a quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a few years, the surplus the USA had accumulated with the sacking and absorption of the Soviet space during Bill Clinton evaporated and became a huge deficit in the Empire's accounts. Not long after, the 2008 financial meltdown happened, burying Bushism in a spectacular way.

There's a debate about the size of the hole the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan cost the American Empire. Some put it into the dozens of billions of USDs; others put it into the trillions of USDs range. We will never know. What we know is that the hole was big enough to both erase the American surplus and to not avoid the financial meltdown of 2008.

Either the expansion through the Middle East wasn't fast and provided riches enough to keep up with the Empire's voracious appetite or the invasion itself already represented a last, desperate attempt by the Empire to avoid its imminent collapse. We know, however, that POTUS Bush had a list of countries he wanted to invade beyond Iraq (the "Axis of Evil") which contained a secret country (Venezuela). He was conscious Iraq and Afghanistan wouldn't be enough. Whatever the case, he didn't have the time, and the financial meltdown happened in his last year in the White House.

uncle tungsten , Sep 12 2020 1:15 utc | 65

michaelj72 #38
karlof1 at #12

great stuff from M. Hudson, one of my favorite reads these days. Hudson has krugman's number. thanks again for those snippets and the links!

Steve Keen also has his number and Keen is pro capitalist

Krugman is a moron dressed as a weasel sounding like a squawking hen, with the vision of a hemorrhoid.

Antonym , Sep 12 2020 1:26 utc | 66

The main harsh reaction of G.W. Bush after 9/11 was the formation of DHS and laws to legalize mass national and international spying on anybody with electronic traffic. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Department_of_Homeland_Security#History

They knew who the perps of 9/11 were: their "own" Saudi irregulars in the CIA's US main land training camps, who started practicing on the "wrong"- domestic American- targets. These guys were officially entered without any background checks.
The Bush and Bin Laden families go way back in money making. That is why George had to ponder so long in that Florida kindergarten after hearing about the attacks: he had a suspicion. The Saudi only fly out after 9/11 confirms that.

Kay Fabr , Sep 12 2020 2:30 utc | 69

Paul Krugman Is a pro. Completely owned by Deep State. His purpose is to deflect discussion and prevent questioning the official version of 9/11 , and get people chasing something completely irrelevant. Well done Paul, most have taken the bait.

[Aug 24, 2020] Why neoclassical economics is a yet another secular religious doctrine, and not a science

Highly recommended!
In a sense the USA is a theocratic society with neoliberal religion as the state religion. Not that different from the USSR whioch also was a theocratic society with some perversion of Marxism as the state religion.
Aug 24, 2020 | peakoilbarrel.com

Hickory Ignored says: 08/15/2020 AT 9:35 AM

I capitulate. Ron you are correct, we are post peak.
Post Peak

OK, now what?
It is so strange to be post-peak and not have high prices for crude,
and food.
I guess that will be coming.

note- biofuels should not be counted in liquids tally. It is a different animal, with the source being dependent on farming and soil, not drilling and geology. Just because ethanol is used for propulsion shouldn't matter- electrons and batteries aren't counted either, and rightly so. Those belong in a different category- transportation energy.

Schinzy Ignored says: 08/15/2020 AT 12:02 PM

I have argued for several years that peak oil is a low price phenomenon, not a high priced phenomenon.

The most overrated law in economics is that of supply and demand. This law suffers from what Richard Feynman called "vagueness" (see
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYPapE-3FRw ). The problem is that it is always satisfied and hence gives absolutely no information about prices.

The latest iteration of our article on the oil cycle can be found at
http://www.math.univ-toulouse.fr/~schindle/articles/2020_oil_cycle_notes.pdf

alimbiquated Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 9:52 AM

Another problem with market theory (beyond vagueness) is that it lacks a time axis.

The theory states that the relationship between price and supply moves along the demand curve, but doesn't say how fast, just that "in the long run" the system will reach equilibrium. Being in equilibrium means being somewhere on the demand curve.

https://www.economicsonline.co.uk/Competitive_markets/Demand_curves.html

So for example, if prices go up, the demand quantity is expected to go down. The question is when.

Where does this go wrong? In classical market theory, for example, unemployment is impossible, because if labor supply outstrips demand prices (wages) should fall until until equilibrium is attained. This has been observed to be false on many occasions, including right now.

As Feymann states in the video, "If it disagrees with experiment, it's WRONG! That's all there is to it." Classical economics isn't just too vague, it is wrong.

Keynes joked about this that in the long term we'll all be dead. He meant equilibrium will never be reached, so we are never on the demand curve. He argued that "sticky prices", meaning the unwillingness to accept pay cuts, kept labor markets permanently out of equilibrium.

It's worth pondering whether oil prices are "sticky" as well. Saying yes is saying the law of supply and demand doesn't apply (in the short term). This year we have seen that both OPEC's politicking and panicky traders can cause wild swings in price unrelated to supply and demand.

Where market theory is vague is the shape of the demand curve. For example, if oil supply can't meet demand in the near future, as some here have posited, how high will prices go? Some claim it will go over $200, as people get desperate for it. Some claim that higher prices would increase efforts to find and drill more, putting a lid on prices. Some claim the shortage would crash the world economy, depressing prices. Some claim that faced with oil shortages, the world would simply switch to EVs, or stop wasting the gunk on poorly designed transportation systems, so prices would stay more or less the same.

Who is right? Nobody knows. So we don't know the shape of the demand curve. The theory is hopelessly vague.

Schinzy Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 12:25 PM

Good points. For all these reasons it is not surprising that the journalist Robert Samuelson noted last year that frequently economists don't know what they're talking about: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/economists-often-dont-know-what-theyre-talking-about/2019/05/12/f91517d4-7338-11e9-9eb4-0828f5389013_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.dc651d463df7 .

Han Neumann Ignored says: 08/17/2020 AT 8:25 PM

I have argued for several years that peak oil is a low price phenomenon, not a high priced phenomenon.

Schinzy,

The price of crude oil is only part of the Peakoil phenomenon. How much is left in the ground counts, however more important is at which velocity the remaining Gb can be extracted. I am not a geologist, but common sense says that when an oilfield is well depleted (50-70%) the most of the remaining barrels will be extracted at a much lower speed, even at very high oilprices. With secondary and tertiary EOR technology most conventional oilfields will not produce the same or close to the same amount of barrels/day as before for many more years. That's also my conclusion from what I have read more than a decade ago.
Of course with high oilprices new, relatively small, oil fields will come online and (more advanced) EOR will start in other fields, but no matter how you look at it: depletion never stops. With most oilfields in the world past-peak, only a tremendous amount of money (needed to develop EOR) can prevent world crude oilproduction from falling like a rock. And all those EOR technologies will deplete oilfields faster. Big gains in the beginning, more disappointments later.
Will there be significant amount of shale oil developed in the future in other countries than the U.S. ? If so, is that wise, regarding an already existing runaway climate change ?

[Aug 24, 2020] Why neoclassical economics is a yet another secular religious doctrine, and not a science

Aug 24, 2020 | peakoilbarrel.com

Hickory says: 08/15/2020 AT 9:35 AM

I capitulate. Ron you are correct, we are post peak. Post Peak

OK, now what? It is so strange to be post-peak and not have high prices for crude, and food. I guess that will be coming.

NOTE:

Schinzy , says: 08/15/2020 AT 12:02 PM

I have argued for several years that peak oil is a low price phenomenon, not a high priced phenomenon.

The most overrated law in economics is that of supply and demand. This law suffers from what Richard Feynman called "vagueness" (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYPapE-3FRw ). The problem is that it is always satisfied and hence gives absolutely no information about prices.

The latest iteration of our article on the oil cycle can be found at: http://www.math.univ-toulouse.fr/~schindle/articles/2020_oil_cycle_notes.pdf

alimbiquated , says: 08/16/2020 AT 9:52 AM

Another problem with market theory (beyond vagueness) is that it lacks a time axis. The theory states that the relationship between price and supply moves along the demand curve, but doesn't say how fast, just that "in the long run" the system will reach equilibrium. Being in equilibrium means being somewhere on the demand curve.

https://www.economicsonline.co.uk/Competitive_markets/Demand_curves.html

So for example, if prices go up, the demand quantity is expected to go down. The question is when.

Where does this go wrong? In classical market theory, for example, unemployment is impossible, because if labor supply outstrips demand prices (wages) should fall until until equilibrium is attained. This has been observed to be false on many occasions, including right now.

As Feymann states in the video, "If it disagrees with experiment, it's WRONG! That's all there is to it." Classical economics isn't just too vague, it is wrong.

Keynes joked about this that in the long term we'll all be dead. He meant equilibrium will never be reached, so we are never on the demand curve. He argued that "sticky prices", meaning the unwillingness to accept pay cuts, kept labor markets permanently out of equilibrium.

It's worth pondering whether oil prices are "sticky" as well. Saying yes is saying the law of supply and demand doesn't apply (in the short term). This year we have seen that both OPEC's politicking and panicky traders can cause wild swings in price unrelated to supply and demand.

Where market theory is vague is the shape of the demand curve. For example, if oil supply can't meet demand in the near future, as some here have posited, how high will prices go? Some claim it will go over $200, as people get desperate for it. Some claim that higher prices would increase efforts to find and drill more, putting a lid on prices. Some claim the shortage would crash the world economy, depressing prices. Some claim that faced with oil shortages, the world would simply switch to EVs, or stop wasting the gunk on poorly designed transportation systems, so prices would stay more or less the same.

Who is right? Nobody knows. So we don't know the shape of the demand curve. The theory is hopelessly vague.

Schinzy , says: 08/16/2020 AT 12:25 PM

Good points. For all these reasons it is not surprising that the journalist Robert Samuelson noted last year that frequently economists don't know what they're talking about: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/economists-often-dont-know-what-theyre-talking-about/2019/05/12/f91517d4-7338-11e9-9eb4-0828f5389013_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.dc651d463df7 .

Han Neumann , says: 08/17/2020 AT 8:25 PM

I have argued for several years that peak oil is a low price phenomenon, not a high priced phenomenon.

Schinzy,

The price of crude oil is only part of the Peakoil phenomenon.

How much is left in the ground counts, however more important is at which velocity the remaining Gb can be extracted. I am not a geologist, but common sense says that when an oilfield is well depleted (50-70%) the most of the remaining barrels will be extracted at a much lower speed, even at very high oilprices.

With secondary and tertiary EOR technology most conventional oilfields will not produce the same or close to the same amount of barrels/day as before for many more years. That's also my conclusion from what I have read more than a decade ago.

Of course with high oilprices new, relatively small, oil fields will come online and (more advanced) EOR will start in other fields, but no matter how you look at it: depletion never stops.

With most oilfields in the world past-peak, only a tremendous amount of money (needed to develop EOR) can prevent world crude oil production from falling like a rock. And all those EOR technologies will deplete oilfields faster.

Big gains in the beginning, more disappointments later.
Will there be significant amount of shale oil developed in the future in other countries than the U.S. ? If so, is that wise, regarding an already existing runaway climate change ?

[Aug 21, 2020] If You're Reading This, You Might Be A Conspiracy Theorist

Highly recommended!
Science now is a highly politicized science and that's a huge problem. Ask USSR scientists about possible consequences. Is Kapitsa noted long ago in his obitiary on Ernest Rutherford death as soon as science become rich it lost its freedom. "
"The year that Rutherford died (1938) there disappeared forever the happy days of free scientific work which gave us such delight in our youth. Science has lost her freedom. Science has become a productive force. She has become rich but she has become enslaved and part of her is veiled in secrecy. I do not know whether Rutherford would continue to joke and laugh as he used to.
Lysenkoism in Stalins's USSR was the first robin of this process. Now it became commonplace. That's why we see so many pseudo-scientists -- politicians who pretend to be scientists like Fauci. and so much corruption like among Professors of economics (all those neoclassical economic scoundrels)
Aug 20, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by John Steppling via Off-Guardian.org,

"...a permanent modern scenario: apocalypse looms and it doesn't occur."

- Susan Sontag, AIDs and its Metaphors

"I should not misuse this opportunity to give you a lecture about, say, logic. I call this a misuse, for to explain a scientific matter to you it would need a course of lectures and not an hour's paper. Another alternative would have been to give you what's called a popular scientific lecture, that is a lecture intended to make you believe that you understand a thing which actually you don't understand, and to gratify what I believe to be one of the lowest desires of modern people, namely the superficial curiosity about the latest discoveries of science. I rejected these alternatives."

- Ludwig Wittgenstein, A Lecture on Ethics

If you're reading this, then you've probably been called a conspiracy theorist. Also you've been derided and shamed for questioning the "science" of the Covid debacle.

The idea of science is now a badly corrupted idea. In a nation, today, (the USA) which in educational terms ranks 25th globally in science skills and reading, and well below that in math; all one hears is a clarion call to science. In reading skills the US placed below Malta, Portugal, and right about the same as Kazakhstan.

But in a nation that no longer reads, and *can* no longer read, it is not surprising that knowledge is absorbed via the new hieroglyphics of gifs (interestingly the creator of gifs wanted it pronounced with a soft g the more to sound like a peanut butter brand) and memes.

So-called 'response memes' are the new version of conversation, and most register and communicate (sic) confusion. As beer ad marketers know, the state of your brain after consuming a six pack is pretty much the standard target ideal for advertising. And it relays a message that six pack confusion is actually a good and perhaps even sexy state in which to find oneself.

Education is for those with money, those who can afford the proper foundational skills to get into Harvard, MIT, Cal Tech and the Stanford. For everyone else science is Star Trek.

But I digress. The point is that most Americans imagine that they revere science, and they ridicule anyone they think of as unscientific. But they think of it in cult terms, really. Its a religion of sorts. The only people who don't are those 'real' religious zealots, Dominionist and Charismatic Christians (like Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence, Rick Perry, Betsy DeVos et al) who hold positions of enormous power in the US government under the least scientific president in history.

The Christian right doesn't like any science, ANY science. But for most of that target demographic (the educated mostly white 30%), the cry is to "trust the science" even the great Greta says to "trust the science".

https://lockerdome.com/lad/13084989113709670?pubid=ld-dfp-ad-13084989113709670-0&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com&rid=www.zerohedge.com&width=890

The problem is, science is not neutral, its as politicized as media and news and the pronouncements of celebrities.

In May 2020, The Lancet published an article revisiting the 1957 and 1968 Influenza pandemics.

The 1957 outbreak was not caused by a coronavirus -- the first human coronavirus would not be discovered until 1965 -- but by an influenza virus. However, in 1957, no one could be sure that the virus that had been isolated in Hong Kong was a new pandemic strain or simply a descendant of the previous 1918–19 pandemic influenza virus.

The result was that as the UK's weekly death count mounted, peaking at about 600 in the week ending Oct 17, 1957, there were few hysterical tabloid newspaper headlines and no calls for social distancing. Instead, the news cycle was dominated by the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik and the aftermath of the fire at the Windscale nuclear reactor in the UK.

By the time this influenza pandemic -- known colloquially at the time as "Asian flu" -- had concluded the following April, an estimated 20 000 people in the UK and 80 000 citizens in the USA were dead. Worldwide, the pandemic, sparked by a new H2N2 influenza subtype, would result in more than 1 million deaths.

To date, Covid 19 has not reached the million death marker in the US, and yet we are seeing the most draconian lockdowns in modern history, the total suspension of democratic process and a level of hysteria (especially in the U.S. and UK) unprecedented. I wrote about some aspects of this on my blog here , mostly touching on the cultural effects

Allow me to quote The Lancet again.

The subsequent 1968 influenza pandemic -- or "Hong Kong flu" or "Mao flu" as some western tabloids dubbed it -- would have an even more dramatic impact, killing more than 30 000 individuals in the UK and 100 000 people in the USA, with half the deaths among individuals younger than 65 years -- the reverse of COVID-19 deaths in the current pandemic.

Yet, while at the height of the outbreak in December, 1968, The New York Times described the pandemic as "one of the worst in the nation's history", there were few school closures and businesses, for the most, continued to operate as normal.

I remember the 68 Hong Kong flu. I was in my last year of high school. The summer after was Woodstock, the 'summer of love'. Not a lot of social distancing going on. But we are past numbers and statistics having any real meaning. The Covid narrative is now in the realm of allegory.

The media perspective is utterly predictable. Liberal outlets that have the inside track to government are seen to be reinforcing the mainstream story (VOX, Slate, Huff Post, The Guardian and Washington Post). In a recent VOX article the message was only a sociopath would NOT wear a mask and that the 'science' was unanimous.

Of course its no such thing. But the message of sites like VOX, or Daily Beast, or Wa Po or the truly reprehensible Guardian, are always going to be to hammer away 'on message'. The same is true for what passes for moderate news organs like the NY Times, ABC News, The Hill, and BBC. There has been virtually no dissenting opinions expressed in these rags.

All these news outlets are given clear messages by the spin doctors in government, by the White House, and by contacts within the State Department and Pentagon. And by the advertising firms employed by the state (such as Ruder Finn).

"Ad agencies are not in the business of doing science."

- Dr. Arnold S. Relman (Madison Ave. Has Growing Role In the Business of Drug Research, NY Times 2002)

The WHO, the CDC, and most every other NGO or government agency of any size hires advertising firms. The WHO, which is tied to the United Nations, is a reasonably sinister organization, actually.

Just picking up a random publication from the WHO, on what they call 'the tobacco epidemic' and you find on page 33 the following chapter heading "Objective: Effective surveillance, monitoring and evaluation systems in place to monitor tobacco use."

Reading further and all this is really saying is that the populace of any country is best put under surveillance. It's for their own good, you see.

But back to the science. Here is a small trip down memory lane

Institutions of medicine, global and national possess no more integrity than your average NGO (Amnesty International, Médecins Sans Frontières, Oxfam et al). And that means not very much.

To understand the nature of institutional corruption one must understand Imperialism. The institutions of Imperialist nations are going to further Imperialist ideology. (see Antonio Gramsci, ideological hegemony). The US is not in the business of helping Americans .

Modern monopoly forms better reflect that scientific knowledge, and its advanced application to production, are concentrated, ultimately, not in physical objects but in human beings and human interaction with those objects. It is monopoly of the labour power of the most highly educated workers, by both imperialist states and Multi National Corporations, that forms the ultimate and most stable base of imperialist reproduction.

– Sam King (Lenin's theory of imperialism: a defence of its relevance in the 21st century, MLR)

The idea of super-exploitation needs to be conceptually generalised at the necessary level of abstraction and incorporated in the theory of imperialism. Super-exploitation is a specific condition within the capitalist mode of production [ ] the hidden common essence defining imperialism.

he working class of the oppressed nations/Third World/Global South is systematically paid below the value of labour power of the working class of the oppressor nations/First World/Global North. This is not because the Southern working class produces less value, but because it is more oppressed and more exploited.

– Andy Higginbottom (Structure and Essence in Capital 1, quoted by John Smith Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century)

The US jobless rate just hit 2.1 million. Officially. Making the total something over forty million. Its much higher in reality. Nobody has work. There is no work and we are at the start of a period of massive evictions, foreclosures, and delinquencies - and the homeless population will soon reach Biblical proportions (in some cities, such as Los Angeles, its already Biblical). Will be simply of a magnitude never before seen.

Hence the authoritarian policing of lockdowns in, for example, New Zealand, suggests something like a practice run. The ruling class in western nations knows full well this is coming. And one wonders if it's not, in fact, a part of the plan (oh here is where someone says conspiracy theory probably Louis Proyect).

Yes it's a fucking conspiracy theory. It is a theory based on evidence, however.

Why are the US and UK and a host of other countries deliberately ensuring a massive depression? Because they care about your health? They are worried we all might catch the flu? Has the US ever demonstrated a concern with your health and well being before?

Remember how many discretionary tax dollars go to health care and how much to defense. Conspiracies do occur. The denial of that fact seems to be a hallmark of the pseudo or false left. Does the suspension of democratic process not cause this soft left any problems at all? Look at Sweden, at Belarus no lockdown and no problem.

It should be noted that there are a great many terrific doctors in the US. Dedicated and brilliant, often. But they are not the system. The system is run for profit.

With about three-fourths of Americans under lockdown, the unintended consequences will be vast. There has been a notable decrease in the number of heart attack and stroke patients arriving at hospitals, presumably because they are afraid of catching the coronavirus or of not finding a hospital bed.

As the economy spirals downward, we can also expect an increase in mental health crises, domestic violence and suicides. While lockdown supporters say that to have a functioning economy, we must have good public health, the reverse is also true: To have good public health, we must have a functioning economy.

– Alex Berezow PhD (Geopolitical Futures, 2020)

Alfred Willener wrote an interesting book in 1970, analysing May 68 in France. He analyses the answers students gave to various questionnaires they responded to. The section regarding science is worth quoting.

'The scandalous fact is that, for all the means that science has put at our disposal, most people live not much better than in the Middle Ages'. The system benefits from science in the following way: through the atom bomb, through 'the power of statistical research', through computers, through the chemical industry being 'in the hands of the state', through space research.

'In the end, you realize', concludes one reasonably logical reply, 'that technological progress, which makes economic growth possible, does not satisfy the fundamental needs of man and is used above all to maintain and strengthen the system'.

Lastly, I should like to quote one quite unexpected reply, which forms the extreme point of pessimism: ' Everyone is oppressed by science.'

– Alfred Willener (The Action-Image of Society on Cultural Politicization)

I doubt seriously one would get such responses today in any European or North American country. The contemporary indoctrination regards science is acute. And the media abounds in junk science. Click bait science. And this is where most people have their opinions formed for them.

There is a paper put out by one of the founders of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, called The Great Reset. The conclusion of the book reads

...at a global level, if viewed in terms of the global population affected, the corona crisis is (so far) one of the least deadly pandemics the world has experienced over the last 2000 years."

In other words, a mortality of .06% is simply not commensurate with the extreme measures the governments of the world (the West in particular) are taking.

There is no question, none, that those measures, the lockdown, the masks, the distancing, and the attending *diseases of despair*, will kill more people by a factor of ten than the virus itself.

This is not even to begin discussing the psychological harm done, in particular to children. And not just harm to children, but severe harm to the most vulnerable .

What is being internalized by children is three fold. One, there is something inherently sick and contagious about ME. Two, everyone MIGHT be a threat to my health. And three, obey authority, because you don't want to end up like those smelly homeless people were are trying to hard to avoid.

Children take things personally. They tend to blame themselves. Even in the comparative sanity of Norway, where I reside, children are increasingly anxious about the world. How could they not be? All this for a health risk of .06%.

But it is more than just the decimation of the economy in the US and UK. It is a dismantling of the culture. One in three museums closed because of Covid will not re-open. Ever. Where does all that art go?

Just a guess but probably very wealthy collectors will gobble it up at wholesale prices.

The predictable outcome of these lockdowns, certainly in the US, is a guaranteed minimum income. Very minimum. Restrictions on travel, all freedom of movement in fact, will not soon return to normal. Various forms of surveillance and tracking, as well as health certifications, are the goal of the state.

Also, if this pandemic succeeded so well, with so little resistance, why not have another? And there is another aspect to the SWAT mask police, and that is that western society is becoming alarmingly hypochondriacal. Children are kept out of school for runny noses. If all kids with snotty noses were kept out of class, nobody would get an education.

There is a dire future of two or three generations now developing and maturing with very weak immune systems. So that if a natural mutation takes place one day, from a Corona virus or any other, a genuinely serious pandemic could kill tens of millions.

It is not a speculation that there are people who prosper and even benefit during an economic crisis -- as smaller business owners struggle, large corporations and banks benefit from huge government subsidies, giving them more power to buy failing small businesses, for example. And it is a fact that many of those people have enormous economic power to shape the policies that can benefit themselves.

It is not a speculation that they would appreciate having strict measures of control against the people by limiting their freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom to travel, or by installing means of surveillance, check points and official certifications for activities that might give freedom to the people beyond the capitalist framework.

It is not a speculation that they would benefit from moving our social interactions to the digital realm, which can commodify our activities as marketable data for the advertising industry, insurance industry and any other moneyed social institutions Including education, political institution, legal institution, and financial institution.

Such matters should be seen within the context of the western history being shaped by unelected capitalists with their enormous networks of social institutions.

– Hiroyuki Hamada (Wrong Kind of Green, April 2020)

The collapse of retail is accelerating. This is emerging as a monopolization of retail. Few shops will remain, in fact, except luxury stores in select gated areas. The rest will be online and probably rudimentary. The culture and the economy are being strip-mined and recreated for a select clientele. The collapse of the economy means the collapse of the bottom 90% or so.

The very richest men and corporations on the planet are making huge profits.

And yet, there are precious few voices of dissent to the master narrative in the US. In Norway, the lockdown was about five weeks. But its a sparsely populated country and one hardly noticed it save for the kids being home and not in school. But schools reopened and the Prime Minister actually made a speech apologizing, in effect, for an *unnecessary* lockdown. She had been frightened.

But now, with a mild uptick in positive cases the country is considering stricter limitations on travel. Why?

There is no uptick in deaths, only in positive test results. The fact remains the virus attacks the aged and the already sick. But this is very telling, I think. The Norwegian government doesn't want to be seen as disobedient. They don't want to not follow the grand plan provided by western agencies and experts. Even if they seemingly don't really believe it.

(The saddest aspect is the voice of Dr. Mads Gilbert, a known advocate for Palestinian rights, who has weighed in on the side of fear. Why? I have no idea. But it is worth noting his predictions from March 2020 were staggeringly wrong.)

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But clearly the groupthink pressure is powerful and small nations do not want to be singled out for bucking the *science* . There are economic coercions threatened, tacitly, as well. The pressure to conform is huge and it takes a Herculean effort -- both individually and as a nation, to resist. And *experts* seem to have a hard time admitting they were wrong.

The science has been consistently wrong from day one.

As I say, this is now allegory. Or fable. There is nothing reasonable or rational in the lockdown measures of the US and UK and NZ. Or anywhere. And this is not even to touch upon the criminality of the Gates Foundation and Bill Gates buying public influence and visibility. Not trained in any medical discipline, Gates has somehow made himself one of the faces of the pandemic.

And to deconstruct Gates' language is to find a disturbing quality of authoritarian hubris. Gates utters declarations as if he were God speaking to his flock. All from a man who has done little save steal from his partners and exploit the poor of India and Africa. One of the most striking aspects of this whole last few months has been the enormous and coordinated effort the Gates machine has put into rehabilitating his image.

If you google "Crimes of the Gates Foundation" for example, you will get ten different fact-checkers officially denying any crimes and another half dozen articles ridiculing those who question Gates motives, his profit from vaccines, or even his alignment with eugenicists (depopulation adherents)– all are derided as, yes, conspiracy theorists.

If you dare to question the rushing of an untested vaccine you are called an anti-vaxxer.

My children are vaccinated. I just don't like the idea of a hurried untested vaccine produced for a virus that needs no vaccine. And one promoted by a creepy millionaire.

But clearly the Gates charm offensive is in overdrive. The pastel cardigan is everywhere. And yet, his favorable rating in recent surveys is around 56%. That is actually not very high given the amount of self-promotion involved. It's better than Mark Zuckerberg and Joe Biden, though. Gates is not likeable. No amount of spin can change that.

The final factor to note is the Trump effect. Many liberals would literally rather see dead in the street if it meant discrediting Trump. It is no longer quite a zero sum game, though. But overall the hatred of Trump is now at a religious level, too.

And behold, the opposition is Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. If you want a window in the black heart of Biden, watch and/or listen to his testimony around the Waco inferno. The inherent sadism and lack of humanity is glaringly apparent.

As for Kamala Harris:

As a San Francisco social worker, I sat on the school district committee that met with families of chronically truant students. Once, when we asked a student why he didn't go to school, he said there was too much police tape and shootings at his school bus stop.

Harris, as CA Attorney General, was putting parents/caregivers in jail if their child was chronically truant. Also as Attorney General, she denied a DNA test to Kevin Cooper, a very likely innocent man who came within hours of execution in 2004.

– Riva Enteen (Counterpunch Aug. 2020)

These are the servants of capital.

The left should be emphasising the economic aspect of lockdown because it is the working class who are the principal victims of lockdown."

- Phil Shannon (Lockdown Skeptics, June 2020)

A Downing street tweet today:

We're putting tougher measures in place to target serious breaches of coronavirus restrictions. Fines for not wearing a face-covering will double for repeat offences, up to £3,200."

This is a class-based assault. The wealthy will not be fined for not wearing a face-covering on their private beaches, or dinner parties at the yacht club.

[Jul 21, 2020] Why We Shouldn't Believe Polling About Trump by Lord Pettigrew

Highly recommended!
If not this also about conformism? Social desirability == conformism.
Notable quotes:
"... Mark Twain is credited with introducing into the American vernacular the phrase, "Lies, damned lies and statistics." One of the pervasive damned lies people take for granted is the results of political polls, especially in the Trump era. Most polls show him behind several of the myriad candidates vying to represent Democrats in the 2020 election. But the American Association for Public Opinion Research confirms that "national polls in 2016 tended to under-estimate Trump's support significantly more than Clinton's." ..."
"... Social desirability is a concept first advanced by psychologist Allen L. Edwards in 1953. It advances the idea that when asked about an issue in a social setting, people will always answer in a socially desirable manner whether or not they really believe it. Political polling, whether by telephone or online, is a social setting. Respondents know that there is an audience who are posing the questions and monitoring their response. As a result, despite a respondent's true belief, many will answer polling questions in what may appear to be a more socially desirable way, or not answer at all. ..."
Jul 21, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Why We Shouldn't Believe Polling About Trump

Authored by Lord Pettigrew, op-ed via Townhall.com,

Many conservatives are concerned about polling results regarding conservative issues, especially about President Trump. For example, the latest CNN poll found that 51% of voters believe the president should be impeached. How much credence should conservatives give these polls?

Mark Twain is credited with introducing into the American vernacular the phrase, "Lies, damned lies and statistics." One of the pervasive damned lies people take for granted is the results of political polls, especially in the Trump era. Most polls show him behind several of the myriad candidates vying to represent Democrats in the 2020 election. But the American Association for Public Opinion Research confirms that "national polls in 2016 tended to under-estimate Trump's support significantly more than Clinton's."

We are inundated with the latest polling on President Trump's approval rating and how people are likely to vote in the 2020 election. Both bode poorly for the president, but he doesn't believe them and neither should we. As an academic, I ran a research center that conducted local, state-wide and national public opinion polls and took a year's leave of absence from my university to work for Lou Harris, founder of the Harris Poll.

Social Desirability

The reason why we shouldn't believe most of the current or future polling results about President Trump can be summarized in two words: Social Desirability.

Social desirability is a concept first advanced by psychologist Allen L. Edwards in 1953. It advances the idea that when asked about an issue in a social setting, people will always answer in a socially desirable manner whether or not they really believe it. Political polling, whether by telephone or online, is a social setting. Respondents know that there is an audience who are posing the questions and monitoring their response. As a result, despite a respondent's true belief, many will answer polling questions in what may appear to be a more socially desirable way, or not answer at all.

When it comes to President Trump, the mainstream media and academics have led us to believe that it is not socially desirable (or politically correct) to support him. When up against such sizable odds, most conservatives will do one of three things:

1) Say we support someone else when we really support the president (lie);

2) tell the truth despite the social undesirability of that response;

3) Not participate in the poll (nonresponse bias).

This situation has several real consequences for Trump polling. First, for those in the initial voter sample unwilling to participate, the pollster must replace them with people willing to take the poll. Assuming this segment is made up largely of pro-Trump supporters, finding representative replacements can be expensive, time-consuming and doing so increases the sampling error rate (SER) while decreasing the validity of the poll. Sampling error rate is the gold standard statistic in polling. It means that the results of a particular poll will vary by no more than + x% than if the entire voter population was surveyed. All else being equal, a poll with a sampling error rate of + 2% is more believable than one of + 4% because it has a larger sample. Immediate polling on issues like President Trump's impeachment may provide support to journalists with a point of view to broadcast, but with a small sample and high sampling error rates, the results aren't worthy of one's time and consideration.

Some political pollsters often get around the necessity of repeated sampling over the course of an election by forming a panel of people who match the demographics (party affiliation, age, gender, race, location, etc.) of registered voting public. Polling companies often compensate panel members and use them across the entire election cycle. Such panels are still subject to the effects of social desirability and initial substitution error.

Interpretive Bias

Another factor to consider is the institution that is conducting the poll and those reporting the data. Their progressive sensibilities are thumbing the scale of truth. In my experience, polls conducted by media companies are less credible since they are often guilty of the same biases seen in their news reports. The perfect example of this is The New York Times's " Poll Watch ," which provides a weekly review of their political poll. My experience is that it reflects strongly the Times's negative opinions about President Trump and conservative ideas and the paper's heavy political bias.

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Even the Harris Poll, when Lou was alive, suffered somewhat from this bias. Lou Harris was the first person to conduct serious political polling on a national level and is credited with giving John Kennedy the competitive advantage over Richard Nixon in the 1960 election. He made political polling de require for future elections. While many people point to Nixon's twelve o'clock shadow during the televised debate, Harris gave Kennedy the real competitive advantage -- a more complete grasp of what issues voters thought were most important and how to tailor his policy pitches toward that end.

I worked for Lou between 1999-2000. During the election season we would get the daily tab read-outs. While the results were pristine, Lou would interpret those numbers on NPR and in other media in a way that showed his clear Democrat bias. His wishful thinking that Al Gore would beat George W. Bush would color his interpretation of what the numbers meant. In the end, by a razon thin margin, Bush took the White House and Gore was relegated to inconvenient environmental truths. Similarly, the 2016 election saw Trump beat favorite Hillary Clinton by a significant electoral margin, despite the vast majority of polls giving Mrs. Clinton the edge by between 3-5%.

Where We Go from Here

Public opinion polling is generally not junk science although with some companies it can be. Companies like Gallup and Pew consistently do a good job of chronicling political opinion in America. At issue is the fact that these polling stalwarts don't work for media companies and use large national samples from current voter rolls; they also tend to not put their thumbs on the interpretation of data. President Trump is a president unlike any other and most of his supporters don't participate in political polls. Even Trump's own pollsters were surprised by his 2016 win. We would do well during these fractured times to ignore political opinion polls for they will continue to be much to do about nothing.

Just be sure to vote your conscience and that is nobody's opinion but your own. AntiSocial , 5 hours ago

The polls are skewed, intentionally by the pollsters and unintentionally by anyone with the common sense not to identify as a Trump supporter.

Would you tell the Nazi Party questioner you were anti - Nazi? How do you feel about Josef Stalin might be the last question someone would ever answer. Trump people have an overwhelmingly justified reason to keep it to themselves. Especially in the age of digital record keeping, and Neo fascism on the Left.

Trump vs: a man whose brain is dying should be a landslide, and could be. BUT the democrats have succeeded in making the entire population sick to death of hearing about Trump Is The Devil.

People en masse are not very intelligent and generally do what everyone else is doing, whatever it is. This time they may know instinctively that the Biden regime will be American history's biggest failure but they just don't want to hear about Trump anymore, or Covid, or BLM, and will vote for Biden making just hoping to make it all go away. After that they will find that when you make mistakes on purpose you usually get what you deserve.

Hawkenschpitt , 6 hours ago

There is another bias besides the article's "interpretive bias." I call it "assumption bias."

I am one of those whom Pew samples on a regular basis, and across a wide range of issues. In responding to their queries, I have in the back of my mind how I perceive my responses are going to show up in the aggregations and the public reporting. It certainly is a consideration when the survey question is double-edged. For example, given a series of questions surrounding my perceptions of "climate change" overlooks the wide variance of what is exactly meant by climate change: are the questions related to the natural dynamism of the earth's climate, or are they surrogates for Anthropogenic Global Warming? Their questions assume an agreed-upon definition, and my responses will vary, depending upon what I perceive to be the underlying basis to the series of questions. This introduces a bias in my responses.

A recent poll had a series of questions about my activities during these coronavirus lock-downs: e.g. how does the lock-down affect various of my activities (charitable donations, volunteer services, neighborly assistance)? Do I do more? Less? About the same? The wording of the questions shows that they had made an underlying, but false, assumption that the coronavirus affects my actions.

At the end of every Pew survey, they ask whether I perceived bias in the questions; they also allow comments on the survey. I take them to task when I encounter these kind of things. I can only hope that they take my remarks under consideration for their next efforts.

Homer E. Rectus , 6 hours ago

This article spends most of its words trying to convince us that polls are junk science and then says Pew and Gallup are not. How are they not also junk if they fail to get truthful answers?

isocratic , 6 hours ago

You have to be really special to trust polls after 2016.

Im4truth4all , 9 hours ago

Polls are just another example of the propaganda...

DrBrown314 , 10 hours ago

Public polls have been rubbish for decades. They average a 0.9% response rate. That is not a random sample folks. If only 1 person in 100 will agree to take a poll you have a self selecting sample. Pure garbage. The pollsters have resorted to using "invitation" polling on the internet and claim this is a probability sample. It is not. It too is rubbish. But you already knew that because of what the polls said in 2016 and what actually happened. qed.

Alice-the-dog , 10 hours ago

Not to mention that I'm sure there are many like me, who has lied profusely in answer to every polling call I've gotten ever since I became eligible to vote in 1972. In fact, I strongly suspect that Trump voters are the most likely demographic to do so.

The Herdsman , 11 hours ago

Bottom line; the polls are fake. We already saw this movie in 2016, we know how it ends. Back in 2016 you might be fooled by the polls but we already know empirically that they are rigged. We literally saw it all with our own eyes.... never let anyone talk you out of what you saw.

Ex-Oligarch , 11 hours ago

This article gives way too much credit to the pollsters.

Polls are constructed to produce a desired result. The respondents selected and the questions asked are designed to produce that result.

If they do not produce that result, the data can be altered. No one polices this sort of manipulation, formally or informally.

Adding spin to the result when it is "interpreted" is only the last step. The narrative promoted in this article that pollsters are honest social scientists carried away by unconscious biases is a crock.

We have seen articles blaming the respondents for the failures of pollsters over and over again. This narrative that Trump voters are ashamed of supporting him and so lie to the pollsters is just more spin designed to make republicans look insincere, amoral and devious.

Hook-Nosed Swede , 12 hours ago

Mark Twain was quoting Benjamin Disraeli and admitted he wasn't sure the PM actually ever used that phrase. Incidentally, Twain threw his Confederate uniform away and headed West in the middle of America's Civil War. I don't see support for Jefferson Davis or Abraham Lincoln there.

whatisthat , 12 hours ago

I would observe every intelligent and experienced person knows that political based polling data is suspect to corruption and used as propaganda...

hootowl , 13 hours ago

Political and media polls are used to persuade people to vote for the demonunists by purposely exaggerating the numbers of demonunists in their polling samples to deceive the public in order to try to swing the vote to the demonunists and/or to dissuqade conservatives into believing it is futile to vote because the demonunists are too numerous to overcome.

Ignore the political polls because they are largely conducted by paid liars, manipulators, and propagandists. The 2020 presidential election is easy to assess. Do you want to elect a senile, old , treasonous, crook and his family into the WH; or a man, who may, at times make you a little upset with his abrasive rhetoric, but can be trusted to do what he thinks is best for his fellow Americans, while he is continuously beset by the worst political cadre of communists, demonunists, lying MSM/academia, and anti-American deep state crooks in the history of our great republic.

Gold Banit , 13 hours ago

This is the end for the corrupt racist DemoRat party.

The DemoRats and their fake news media are in a panic and are very desperate and this is why they are promoting this rioting looting destroying and burning cause their internal polling has Trump wining 48 states in a landslide....

[Jul 11, 2020] The Groupthink Pandemic -

Jul 11, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

The Groupthink Pandemic by Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 07:00 Twitter Facebook Reddit Email Print

Authored by Kevin Smith via Off-Guardian.org,

Groupthink is all around us. Decision-making in government, in the media and at work. It's slowly killing the world.

In the background of the most important events, the Covid-19 response and increasing tension and conflict in the world, it might be worth looking through some of this in a bit more detail.

me title=

I've experienced groupthink working for large organisations, most notably in my last job. We were tasked with investigating and solving complex problems. Some technical expertise helped but was not crucial to the role.

Critical thinking and balancing evidence and differing viewpoints was key.

Yet the organisation decided that this was no longer required and changed the whole operating model to a one-size fits all type of call-centre. This new high-risk approach was recommended to us by the outside consultants Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) who were clueless about our business.

Those of us who were experienced in the role argued that the model wouldn't work. But the organisation ploughed on regardless. It was obvious from day one that the financials didn't stack up which they tried to deny and later concealed.

The executive largely ignored our concerns to start but then paid limited lip-service when the wheels started to come off. Anyway, in the end they offered us redundancy while employing fresh university graduates to replace us. As far as I know the place is still in denial and heading down the pan.

Groupthink is described as follows:

https://lockerdome.com/lad/13084989113709670?pubid=ld-dfp-ad-13084989113709670-0&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com&rid=www.zerohedge.com&width=890

Groupthink is a term first used in 1972 by social psychologist Irving L. Janis that refers to a psychological phenomenon in which people strive for consensus within a group. In many cases, people will set aside their own personal beliefs or adopt the opinion of the rest of the group.

People who are opposed to the decisions or overriding opinion of the group as a whole frequently remain quiet, preferring to keep the peace rather than disrupt the uniformity of the crowd'.

Groupthink is common where group members have similar backgrounds and particularly where that group is placed under stress, resulting in irrational decision outcomes.

These are the main behaviors to watch out for:

  1. Illusions of invulnerability lead members of the group to be overly optimistic and engage in risk-taking.

  2. Unquestioned beliefs lead members to ignore possible moral problems and ignore the consequences of individual and group actions.

  3. Rationalising prevents members from reconsidering their beliefs and causes them to ignore warning signs.

  4. Stereotyping leads members of the in-group to ignore or even demonise out-group members who may oppose or challenge the group's ideas.

  5. Self-censorship causes people who might have doubts to hide their fears or misgivings.

  6. "Mindguards" act as self-appointed censors to hide problematic information from the group.

  7. Illusions of unanimity lead members to believe that everyone is in agreement and feels the same way.

  8. Direct pressure to conform is often placed on members who pose questions, and those who question the group are often seen as disloyal or traitorous.

There are two further observations I made in the workplace, particularly relevant to groups going through major change or/and a crisis.

Firstly, they tend to swing from the status quo to the complete opposite. In our organisation, we definitely needed some changes and tweaks but we lurched towards a model which was completely unsuitable and unsustainable operationally and financially.

The other thing I noticed was our employers became control freaks. They started to talk down to us and our customers like children. They introduced office slogans such as 'let's crack on' or 'we're all in this together' and deflected from the problems of the disastrous reorganisation towards 'celebrating diversity' in the workplace. Critical thinking, creativity and expression were sucked out of the place.

The obvious analogy for all these behaviors is the response to Covid-19 when government ministers were collectively panicked into making extreme decisions on lockdown , using just one preferred source of 'expertise'.

At the same time, they sidelined dissenters and independent experts who could have offered a calm, rational perspective and a targeted response to Covid-19.

In summing up this thinking and behavior, I'm reminded of these observations from Dr Malcolm Kendrick and Lord Sumption about the response to Covid-19. Dr Kendrick here :

We locked down the population that had virtually zero risk of getting any serious problems from the disease, and then spread it wildly among the highly vulnerable age group. If you had written a plan for making a complete bollocks of things you would have come up with this one".

And Lord Sumption writing in the Mail on Sunday :

The Prime Minister, who in practice makes most of the decisions, has low political cunning but no governmental skills whatever. He is incapable of studying a complex problem in depth. He thinks as he speaks – in slogans.

These people have no idea what they are doing, because they are unable to think about more than one thing at a time or to look further ahead than the end of their noses.

THE BBC – A CASE-STUDY

A large organisation which has a high opinion of its news service . But of course, the reality is the opposite. There are so many groupthink case-studies but the BBC is as good as any, particularly in terms of making a bollocks of things.

The executives at the BBC and some senior correspondents will no doubt be aware that they run a politicised agenda of bias and misinformation on a grand scale. Outsiders who've researched their coverage will recognise this too. But this won't be obvious to the vast majority of BBC employees, the victims of groupthink.

This came across in some of Andrew Marr's incredulous reactions to Noam Chomsky's observations about the media during their interview :

Andrew Marr: How can you know I'm self-censoring?

Noam Chomsky: I'm not saying you're self-censoring. I'm sure you believe everything you say. But what I'm saying is if you believed something different you wouldn't be sitting where you're sitting.

I believe the foreign affairs reporting of the BBC is where this problem stands out most. Real expertise and impartiality has been completely absent from any reporting I've seen in recent years.

First, while not unusual in this profession, most journalists employed by the BBC will have a degree. Typically, when you look at today's 'top' BBC journalists, many have attended the elite universities which tends to create a culture of like-minded people of similar backgrounds. This has been identified as one cause of creating groupthink.

Also, the younger journalists will be impressionable within the BBC hierarchy to the views and ways of the senior house-hold name journalists.

It's sometimes said that there aren't specific rules within the BBC and other media stating what a journalist can and can't report and write and they generally don't knowingly mislead. But they will learn almost instinctively to self-censor and operate within a set of unwritten, unspoken rules and a strait-jacket narrative.

The other problem in foreign affairs reporting is that BBC journalists and most others rarely visit the warzones. On Syria, they typically report from Lebanon or Turkey only occasionally venturing into a government or relatively safe terrorist or Kurd held area. So unlike previous conflicts, such as Bosnia where I remember at least a tiny degree of balance, journalists seldom see what is actually going on.

Under the pressure of deadlines they rely on dubious sources such as Al Qaeda terrorists and Bellingcat and pre-determined assumptions which conveniently slot in with the anti-Assad narrative of the BBC and establishment.

Recently, some grave doubts emerged about the OPCW report on the Douma incident , a huge story which has wider implications.

The investigations of Robert Stuart into a likely previously staged incident involving BBC journalist s was swept under the carpet. Both matters have been ignored because the BBC have no way or will to refute evidence which goes against their bias.

On the other hand, the BBC are more than happy to provide extensive coverage to more allegations against Russia and Trump from anonymous sources, providing no background or balance within the overall of climate of related allegations which have collapsed or are unproven.

And in recent days the BBC has provided coverage on Hong Kong which looks like it's come from a script .

It's well known BBC journalists are silent on malpractice. We saw this with the Jimmy Savile scandal and decades of sexual abuse. This attitude is similar to what I experienced with my employer who were very vocal and proud of their anti-bullying and mental health policies. Yet when the staff were surveyed anonymously, bullying rates were through the roof.

The other obvious signs of groupthink within the BBC, particularly during the Covid-19 crisis, is dumbing-down and its slogan-filled website written as though their readers are idiots.

Another strong theme is a preoccupation with race and diversity, American affairs and general tittle-tattle, to the detriment of more pressing matters such as the longer-term and wider impact of the world's current problems.

Covid-19 and our response to it is probably the most important event of our lifetime but there's barely a peep about whether the response is necessary and proportionate. Instead, this totally rational viewpoint is only ever mentioned in the context of BBC articles about Covid-19 'conspiracy theories' .

Many of the examples I've described neatly fit in with groupthink behaviors and experiences I encountered in a large organisation.

But I think the biggest groupthink problem is with senior BBC journalists. Ultimately their lazy arrogance has trickled down to the newer journalists and so over time, wrong behavior has been normalised throughout.

THE BBC 'GRANDEES'

A few months ago Huw Edwards made some comments about accusations of bias directed towards the BBC, defending the corporation and journalists. These are some of the specific comments he made which to me showed a complete lack of understanding of the concerns people have.

The BBC is not, to put it politely, run like some newspapers, with an all-powerful proprietor and/or editor making his or her mark on the tone and direction of the coverage [ ] BBC News is a rather unsettling mix of awkward, contrary and assertive people who (in my very long experience) delight in either ignoring the suggestions of managers or simply telling them where to get off. That's how it works."

Around this time, I also recall Edwards arguing on Twitter on the subject and he said that it was ridiculous to say that journalists within the BBC were willfully misleading the public. His Twitter opponent replied that this was not what he had said and was simply stating that the BBC had fallen victim to groupthink. Edwards just couldn't get his head past this, while continuing to attack and misrepresent BBC critics.

This defensive attitude and stereotyping of critics is classic groupthink behavior in which he, Nick Robinson and others have taken part.

I used to admire John Simpson and in the 1980s he visited Iran post-revolution. He wrote a book of the visit which I enjoyed. But in recent years, he has shown that he doesn't understand modern geo-politics and like the BBC can only assess it in terms of the ethno-centric British view on the world and our influence.

In this President Putin press conference he asked the most ridiculous question imaginable which confirms he's lost the plot. His question was about Russian behavior in the world and whether Putin wanted to create a new Cold War.

Putin wiped the floor with him pointing out the hundreds of NATO bases and numerous wars which put Simpson's aspersions into their rightful place.

Jeremy Bowen is another who has lost his way. I saw a recent report from him from the position of a Christian militia unit fighting terrorists in Syria.

Again, BBC arrogance was on full display . His report made generalised comparisons between him meeting Serbs in Bosnia in the 1990s and these Syrian fighters, clearly indicating that he doesn't listen and is not interested in Syrian views on western complicity and the White Helmets.

In the usual group-speak he described the Syrian Government 'the regime' and Al Qaeda as 'rebels'. His report simply rubber-stamped the BBC coverage of the whole conflict.

This arrogance is typical of journalists who rely on their past achievements, creating an air of gravitas to impress their audience. The reality is his reporting is based on no substance and outdated and lazy assumptions.

THE MADNESS OF JOHN SWEENEY NEVER MISS THE NEWS THAT MATTERS MOST

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Ex-BBC nowadays, John Sweeney's arrogance is off the scale. These days he spends his time on Twitter attacking lockdown sceptics , like Peter Hitchens accusing him of 'killing' his Mail on Sunday column readers with his views on Covid-19 lockdown.

Sweeney is off his trolley but the reality is he probably always was as this clip during his BBC days shows.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/mjlo4u_8g60

This behaviour, extreme as it is, certainly suggests groupthink played a big part somewhere in his career.

AN ILLUSION OF SANITY

BBC Dateline is a current affairs TV panel discussion which I occasionally watched. The panel which changed regularly were seemingly well qualified with foreign writers and journalists which included Russia or Arab affairs experts.

Sitting around that table they gave the impression of people who knew what they were talking about.

However, when you listened carefully to what they were saying, there was very little substance. Their arguments, all based on a simple premise that Russia/Syria are bad, the West is good, tempered with a little occasional criticism of western policy to give the illusion of balance.

Occasionally you would have a more pro-Russia expert on but with the prevailing consensus of the rest of the panel, his or her views would be ridiculed. It got to the point any dissenting panel member started to self-censor to sound more credible, perhaps to remain on the panel. This is the dilemma for any progressively minded BBC guest nowadays.

Peter Hitchens who complains the BBC never invite him on, appeared on Good Morning Britain (GMB) recently. As is normal with many GMB debates, the discussion on Covid-19 descended to retorts and abuse and was simply not the forum for Hitchens to get across his well thought out points on the big picture.

But I don't think he would have fared any better on the BBC. The BBC create an illusion of civilised, intelligent discussion but the reality is there is no substance, depth or balance. The crucial discussion points about Covid-19 or conflict in the world don't get a hearing. The premise and the rules are already set in stone before the guests arrive.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There are many reasons why the world is in its current madness and on the brink of serious conflict.

Groupthink in government, the media and the general public is probably a key factor as this represents the thinking culture alongside and below the psychopaths and war criminals who pull the strings.

It's almost impossible to break this cycle by chipping away at it. But it's possible a large event connected to Covid-19 or a major war will be the catalyst which might shock us out of our distorted view of reality.

In the meantime, independent commentators and ex-MSM like Peter Hitchens, Anna Brees and Tareq Haddad , are putting their careers on the line and self-interests aside. We can only encourage others employed by the BBC and other media to be brave and do the same.

Certainly, the consequences will be far more disastrous doing nothing and not speaking up.

In the sudden, new founded willingness to demonstrate on the streets perhaps those participating might be better reflecting on who and what the real enemy is.

Party politics, Brexit and Black Lives Matter really don't matter.

Groupthink, escalating world conflict, All Lives Matter, including Syrians, Libyans, Palestinians and Blacks,(including those outside of US,UK and Europe) together with the post-Covid-19 march to an uncertain 'new normal', are the issues which matter right now.

[Jun 23, 2020] On Choosing a Belief System by Ken Melvin

Belief system is not chosen. The individual is indoctrinated into it via socialization process. Only few can break this bond.
Notable quotes:
"... Social or Cultural Norms are standards for behavior engendered from infancy by parents, teachers, friends, neighbors, and others in one's life. Social Norms are the shared expectations and rules that guide the behavior of people within social groups; Social Norms can go a long way toward maintaining social order. Engendered, Social or Cultural Norms can be enforced by something as subtle as a gesture, a look, or even the absence of any response at all. At the extremes, aberrant social behavior becomes a crime. One could adopt Social Norms as a part or all of their Belief System. ..."
"... Religions were an early form of Social Norms. Yet and still, all Religious Beliefs address Social Behavior, Social Norms. As with Social Norms, most, if not all, Religions have slowly evolved over time. As with Social Norms, Religious Beliefs are often engendered from infancy by parents; handed down from generation to generation. Most Religions require one's Believing; Believing that the precepts of the Religion come down to us from a supreme being or deity via a prophet or inspired teacher. Whereas science asks questions in the quest for knowledge, Abrahamic religions hold that any questioning of their particular beliefs is blasphemous, a great sin. Rather than welcome questions in re validity, religions insist that, first and foremost, adherents believe. Religions might be a part of the whole of one's Belief System. ..."
"... Can we even have stable societies without Belief Systems? Is it possible to build a Society around Science, Philosophy, and/or Reason? Can we, benefitting from Science and Philosophy: Improve the quality of our Belief Systems? Of our Religions? Can Beliefs become Informed Opinions? Will future societies' Belief Systems be based more on Science and Philosophy, and less on opinion and belief? Do they have a choice? It seems that the more successful societies have long since chosen to give the thinking of Science and Philosophy precedence over Believing. Darwin tells us that survival goes to those that adapt. ..."
Jun 22, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

Belief Systems, these prisms through which we view the world, have been around from our earliest days. Not so long ago, the Ancient Greeks separated the concept of what we might call belief into two concepts: pistis and doxa with pistis referring to trust and confidence (notably akin the regard accorded science) and doxa referring to opinion and acceptance (more akin the regard accorded cultural norms).

In quest of a personal Belief System, should one: Go with the flow and adapt to the Social or Cultural Norm? Follow the Abrahamic admonishment to first believe? Follow their own Reasoning? Or, should one look to Science?

Social or Cultural Norms are standards for behavior engendered from infancy by parents, teachers, friends, neighbors, and others in one's life. Social Norms are the shared expectations and rules that guide the behavior of people within social groups; Social Norms can go a long way toward maintaining social order. Engendered, Social or Cultural Norms can be enforced by something as subtle as a gesture, a look, or even the absence of any response at all. At the extremes, aberrant social behavior becomes a crime. One could adopt Social Norms as a part or all of their Belief System.

Most modern Religions are handed down from times long past, times before much was known about anything. Most, if not all, early Religions were based on mythology. Later on, some Religions found more of their basis in whatever evidence and reasoning skills were available to a people. From the earliest times, human cultures have developed some form or another of a Belief System premised on Religion.

Humans are, uniquely it seems, given the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking in an orderly rational way; they are given the faculty of Reason. To Reason is to use the faculty of Reason so as to arrive at conclusions; to discover, formulate, or conclude by way of a carefully Reasoned Analysis. One might base a part or all of their Belief System on Reason.

Science can be seen as an endeavor to increase knowledge, to understand; to reduce ignorance and misunderstanding. Science encourages active skepticism. Science, the word comes from the Latin word for knowledge, is premised on verifiable empirical evidence and best thinking. Science employs our faculty to Reason. Belief is not a scientific criterion but is rather a bias to be filtered out of any scientific experiment. We have confidence in the knowledge afforded us by Science to the extent that we have confidence in the validity of the evidence and the rigor of the Reasoning, and in Scientific Methodology. Science can form the basis of one's Belief System to the extent that they have confidence in Science.

Religions were an early form of Social Norms. Yet and still, all Religious Beliefs address Social Behavior, Social Norms. As with Social Norms, most, if not all, Religions have slowly evolved over time. As with Social Norms, Religious Beliefs are often engendered from infancy by parents; handed down from generation to generation. Most Religions require one's Believing; Believing that the precepts of the Religion come down to us from a supreme being or deity via a prophet or inspired teacher. Whereas science asks questions in the quest for knowledge, Abrahamic religions hold that any questioning of their particular beliefs is blasphemous, a great sin. Rather than welcome questions in re validity, religions insist that, first and foremost, adherents believe. Religions might be a part of the whole of one's Belief System.

As is to be expected, Science is often in conflict with religious beliefs. This dichotomy between the Reasoning of Science and the Believing of Religion goes back at least to early Egypt, Greece, and India; has played, and still plays, a huge role for philosophers, scientists, and others given to thought.

While most modern societies have moved away from a Religious dominance of their culture; at the extremes, we still have theocracies where Religious Belief is given reign over culture and politics, and, to some extent or another, thought itself.

Preceding statute law, Religious associated Belief Systems played an important role in mankind's development. Down through the centuries, religious behavioral standards have provided societies personal security, social stability. Religious Beliefs have long been, are still being, codified into law.

Codified laws can also be based on 'Social Norms', on philosophy and reason ( love of learning, the pursuit of wisdom, a search for understanding, ); or on yet other Belief Systems.

Can we even have stable societies without Belief Systems? Is it possible to build a Society around Science, Philosophy, and/or Reason? Can we, benefitting from Science and Philosophy: Improve the quality of our Belief Systems? Of our Religions? Can Beliefs become Informed Opinions? Will future societies' Belief Systems be based more on Science and Philosophy, and less on opinion and belief? Do they have a choice? It seems that the more successful societies have long since chosen to give the thinking of Science and Philosophy precedence over Believing. Darwin tells us that survival goes to those that adapt.

He didn't say it quite that way, but that is what he meant.

This seeming need of humans to Believe can be abused. The atrocities of Colonial Spain and Portugal and the Era of Slavery were ostensibly committed under the aegis of Christian Belief. Nazi Germany, Jonestown, ISIS, and a Trump Presidency are examples of some of the more negative consequences of aberrant Belief Systems.

Demagogues prey on this need to Believe by telling the people what to Believe; by giving them something to Believe. Fox News, by telling its viewers what to Believe, gives them this thing they need; something to Believe. All those arbiters of opinion we see and read on the media are trying to sell Beliefs to their audience; an audience that needs something to Believe. Fox News has become a Belief System for millions. So too, the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Carlson, and Shawn Hannity.

Adolph Hitler and Jim Jones gave their needy followers something to Believe. Osama bin Laden/Al-Qaeda and ISIS gave their needy followers something to Believe. Donald J. Trump is giving his needy followers something to Believe.

Thinking's too hard.

Obviously, existing well-meaning Belief Systems can be co-opted by unsavory persons, societies. Equally obvious, Belief Systems can be instilled into a population. From the days of slavery and for these 150 yrs hence, whites in the Southern States have engendered racism into their progeny. For 150 yrs now they propagated a false version of history in their schools. They created and propagated a Belief System premised on mendacity.

Though many Belief Systems are based on Religious Tenets; we also see them based on economic models, personality cults, , even in science. Economic dogma can be instilled in a society as a Belief System to the extent that any challenge thereto is considered to be heretical, blasphemous. One can be born a Republican, a Baptist, or both, as were their parents and their parents' parents. People have been being born Catholic for 2,000 yrs. Joseph Smith, a come lately, instilled.

Some positive consequences of Belief Systems include: higher moral standards, the great art and science flowing from the Renaissance; the science, philosophy, and art from The Age of Reason/The Enlightenment. More recently: the ending of slavery, the ending of Colonialism, the ending of apartheid, the codification of LGBT rights, and the struggle to end racism correlate with changes in Belief Systems. Pending challenges for Belief Systems include such as freedom from hunger, access to housing, and alleviating economic disparity. Belief Systems can carry us forward. Belief Systems can hold us back.

Is tweeting believing?

To what Belief System, if any, is this our Age of Technology attributable? Has Technology itself become a Belief System?

A very famous frog once said, "It is not easy being green."

Closely held, long-held, Beliefs are hard to give up; especially if they have been engendered via emulation, imprinting, repetition, , since infancy. In America, the most technologically advanced economy ever known; our technology, our scientific achievements, are all based on science. Yet today we have upwards of half of our politicians pandering to one or another Religious group that, for the most part, denies Science. Quid pro quo: the pols get the Religious groups' vote, the Religious group gets the laws, and the judges and justices, they want. Perhaps in part as a consequence of this support, most of this same group of politicians would govern all the while making little effort to acquaint themselves with Science, with technology, in this day and age of Science and Technology. Many, maybe most, of these same politicians hold fast to theories of economics and law that are, themselves, based on Belief.

John Prine, recently departed, not a frog, wrote the tune "In Spite of Ourselves".

In spite of ourselves, we humans mumble and fumble our way as is our wont.

Ron (RC) Weakley (a.k.a., Darryl for a while at EV) , June 22, 2020 8:35 am

" Darwin tells us that survival goes to those that adapt.

He didn't say it quite that way, but that is what he meant "

[No he did not say it that way because that is not what he meant. Human beings just like to misrepresent Darwin that way because it follows along with their own narrative of innovative superiority and control of their own fate. To transpose biological mutation from the natural selection process of biological evolution over to social evolution is a bit of a stretch, but clearly it would favor diversity and freedom over rigid authoritarian orthodoxy. It comes with no guaranty of course, but it also more accidental or incidental than contrived.]

Ron (RC) Weakley (a.k.a., Darryl for a while at EV) , June 22, 2020 9:18 am

Reason is not the same as logic, not pure logic at least. Impure logic is mostly sophistry. Reason is not necessarily sophistry, but still depends upon assumptions which in life may be less reliable than in math.

Nietzsche and Machiavelli were notable philosophers of celebrated capacity for reason. By my own anti-intellectual biases I have found them both intolerable as human beings and deceptive as arbiters of truth. Science, when correctly applied, has evolved far beyond its roots in philosophy. I am skeptical of both incorrect science and any philosophy that I am not taking an active roll in. Any valid philosophy should be about the present rather than the past. Kant and William James are tolerable, but still insufficient despite their well meaning morality.

[Jun 23, 2020] Scary Signs - Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Failure to blame all problems suffered by minorities on racism ..."
"... Groupthink must be fun for many people. Emoting without as much as a thread of a connection to knowledge of history and careful ..."
"... But what today most scares me – a true liberal to my marrow – is the rabid mobthink on the political and ideological left. My fear is neither my forgiving nor tolerating the many prejudices and idiocies rampant on the right. I despise these unconditionally. But today – June 12th, 2020 – I fear more the prejudices and idiocies rampant on the left, if only because these seem to me to be today more widespread and socially encouraged. ..."
Jun 12, 2020 | cafehayek.com
Scary Signs

by Don Boudreaux on June 12, 2020

in Current Affairs , Philosophy of Freedom

Tweet

Reading David Henderson's recent EconLog post titled " Why Don't People Speak Up? " prompts me to offer a more general yet personal point, which is this:

These are, at least for me, especially scary times. I refer here not principally to the covid lockdown (although that, too, is scary in its own way). Instead, I refer to the tsunami of virtue signaling now drowning the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Frank and honest disagreement with any parts of the narrative that dominates the mainstream media is treated by too many people as proof of evil intentions or, at best, of indifference to evil.

Underway now is something far more extreme than a mere loss of nuance. The world is now painted exclusively in the darkest black and brightest white. (Please, do not interpret my use of "black and white" as referring to anything other than the traditionally used example of the starkest of distinctions.)

Failure to blame all problems suffered by minorities on racism – failure to denounce loudly and angrily American bourgeois society's allegedly inherent bigotry, greed, and rapaciousness – failure to acknowledge that America today is a brutal and cruel place for all but the elite, and hellish especially for blacks, women, and gay, bi, and transgender people – is frequently interpreted as sympathy for dark-ages-like superstition and prejudices.

Equally bad, in the eyes of the Virtuous, are attempts at offering historical perspective. Even if accompanied by a sincere and express acknowledgement that serious problems remain, the mere suggestion that at least some of these problems were more widespread and worse in the past – the slightest hint that over time there's been some real improvement for anyone but white, heterosexual, high-income Christian males – is treated as evidence of blindness or malignant bias.

Groupthink must be fun for many people. Emoting without as much as a thread of a connection to knowledge of history and careful consideration of the facts is the practice of very many people today. And it's de rigueur now to treat one's emotions – along with rioting-crowds' outrage and passions – as sources of understanding and knowledge more reliable than an actual understanding of history and economics.

Sadly, but unsurprisingly, this irrationality centered in the political left spawns irrationality on the right. I've heard it said that George Floyd wasn't killed by Derek Chauvin, or that Floyd deserved his fate. I hear it said that any success at reforming government police departments would undermine law and order. Nonsense, of course. Pure nonsense.

But what today most scares me – a true liberal to my marrow – is the rabid mobthink on the political and ideological left. My fear is neither my forgiving nor tolerating the many prejudices and idiocies rampant on the right. I despise these unconditionally. But today – June 12th, 2020 – I fear more the prejudices and idiocies rampant on the left, if only because these seem to me to be today more widespread and socially encouraged.

Seldom have I been as distraught as I am now.

[Jun 19, 2020] Medical charlatan ands sleazy politican Fauci tells us that Americans Don't Believe Science And They Don't Believe Authority by Steve Watson

Highly recommended!
Fauci clearly is a charlatan, a researcher who long ago became a politician and now cheats like Pompeo. His mask wearng fiacto characterize him as a person who is unable to admin that he was wrong. and admin the he lied in order to cover the shortage of masks for medical personnel and complete unpreparedness of the country to the epidemic.
He also look like a boy who cried "wolf,wolf" way to many time, when no wolf was around.
This guy did absolutely nothing to understand and prepare for the epidemic from January to Late March and then pushed for excessive measures like total quarantine. he should be fired for incompetence. He is implicitly guilty for Ciumo idiotism in NY (horror hospital beds are running out we need million of ventilators) and similar idiotism in NJ and other parts of the country, which unnecessary closed businesses where wearing masks would suffice.
This charlatan never admitted his role in promotion of "gain of function" experiments and financing them in Wuhan biolab.
Jun 19, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the polarising director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, slammed everyday Americans for refusing to go along with 'authority' on medical matters, and accused people of 'amazing denial' when it comes to 'truth'.

Speaking on a podcast called Learning Curve , produced by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Fauci charged that "unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are -- for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable -- they just don't believe science and they don't believe authority."

"So when they see someone up in the White House, which has an air of authority to it, who's talking about science, that there are some people who just don't believe that -- and that's unfortunate because, you know, science is truth, " Fauci asserted.

"It's amazing sometimes the denial there is, it's the same thing that gets people who are anti-vaxxers , who don't want people to get vaccinated, even though the data clearly indicate the safety of vaccines," Fauci proclaimed, adding "That's really a problem."

https://open.spotify.com/embed-podcast/episode/2wIL0rfSosidScjE5ykR8U

Perhaps the real reason Americans don't trust Fauci is that he's consistently flip flopped and contradicted himself on 'the truth' for months.

The man also exudes authoritarianism , and clearly has a problem with anyone who questions his superiority .

Fauci also has a long history of being the front man for a network of powerful Big Pharma and Big Medicine interests, pushing vaccines and medicines in a clear conflict of interest.

* * *

Following Fauci's blame-scaping the anti-science bias of (implicitly ignorant) Americans, Thiel Capital MD Eric Weinstein unleashed a barrage of uncomfortable truths on Twitter

How dare this man.

Do you want to know why they are learning to hate scientists for real Dr Fauci?

Because your group lies about science & your ilk drove the truth telling scientists out of their rightful places inside the institutions calling bullshit on your lying about masks. pic.twitter.com/VJLTGT0GOe

-- Eric Weinstein (@EricRWeinstein) June 18, 2020

Scientists like me who don't go along with cowards & crowds cannot disrupt your group's lies because we are outside. Imagine if I was tweeting from the National Science Foundation or MIT. It would be a national news story about how your cabal lies and degrades faith in science: https://t.co/leYsCerG3o

-- Eric Weinstein (@EricRWeinstein) June 18, 2020

Weinstein went on:

"But you prattle on. We will one day find out later that you suspected all along that the Wuhan BS-L 4 virology lab might well be involved, but that you didn't say so for this or that political reason.

Because you aren't a scientist. You play one. You are an MD turned actor.

Even when I agree with the conclusions of your institutional pseudo science cabal, you cheat to get to our shared conclusions on vaccines, viruses, climate, etc.

So you want people to believe in science again? Ok. Call-yourself-out. Admit that your crowd **lied** about our masks.

And not to put too fine a point on it: your group is sitting in chairs reserved for people who don't do what your cabal just did.

You just don't have what it takes sir. I'm sorry. But science isn't acting. It's not a beauty pagent. It's not politics.

Science requires courage ."

y_arrow 1

Whoa Dammit , 2 minutes ago

Like the other many things that Mr.Fauci has gotten wrong, he fails to recognize the truth that Americans don't believe him

Boing_Snap , 6 minutes ago

People don't believe Fauci, never been in the real world, vaccine patent holder,

TruthHunter , 6 minutes ago

Fauci, you're not a scientist. You're a politician...stop whining when you're treated like one

JoePorkChop , 6 minutes ago

Are scientists and authority some incorruptible special breed? A very skeptical eye towards any power structure is very neccesary, always.

artytom , 6 minutes ago

Good man Weinstein.

HowardBeale , 7 minutes ago

Is he phucking joking? Fauci has no idea what Fauci will say tomorrow...

SuperareDolo , 8 minutes ago

I don't know if it would surprise Fauci to know that the majority of epidemiologists are among those he says, "Don't believe in science, or authority."

Combining those two terms is very telling. Science is skeptical empiricism, not belief. It's kind of self-contradictory to believe in conclusions, since he's not talking about belief in the validity of skeptical empiricism. He's talking about his authority, which he wants people to believe in, because he's a scientist. That's technocracy, and nobody should accept that.

diogi23 , 9 minutes ago

Fauci is the John Bolton of science. Why does Trump keep him around??

aelfheld , 6 minutes ago

Science is a process, not 'revealed wisdom'.

I d----d sure don't put much faith in scientists who try to speak ex cathedra .

ze_vodka , 11 minutes ago

I require evidence based reasoning to be presented for Science...

and

I require that those who seek to be called an "Authority" demonstrate the ability to lead well with kindness and humility.

So...

I firmly reject arbitrary Totalitarianism... which is exactly what Fauci espouses and proclaims.

Demystified , 12 minutes ago

Fauci is a medical MEATBALL, his credibility is in the toilet. A Flush is needed urgently.

ze_vodka , 11 minutes ago

I require evidence based reasoning to be presented for Science...

and

I require that those who seek to be called an "Authority" demonstrate the ability to lead well with kindness and humility.

So...

I firmly reject arbitrary Totalitarianism... which is exactly what Fauci espouses and proclaims.

Demystified , 12 minutes ago

Fauci is a medical MEATBALL, his credibility is in the toilet. A Flush is needed urgently.

YouThePeople , 13 minutes ago

Fauxi is a corrupted paid stooge...and a bad actor.

Slayer666 , 14 minutes ago

Old School Americans aren't very fond of blindly following authority. They/We have a rebellious streak. That's why the globalists/NWO want to import a new, more docile population. But if America falls, don't expect the rest of the world to remain the same. Yeah I know a lot of people would welcome that, but don't be too sure that what comes into that power vacuum wouldn't be way worse.

hugin-o-munin , 6 minutes ago

There is a big difference in allowing the US economy to fail and having the US fail. Two different things. In fact I think the best remedy to the current hyper corrupt system is to let the dollar implode. That removes these fvckers' power in a clean sweep move and then something more genuine and honest can take its place.

Distant_Star , 15 minutes ago

What ********. I believe in Newton's laws of motion. I believe in the laws of thermodynamics and many other scientific rules. I believe in the periodic table. I believe in Avogadro's number and Boyle's Law.

I don't believe in the "China model" that Fauchi, the corrupt WHO, the inept CDC with their flawed Chinese test kits and the progressive politicians worshipped from day 1. I don't believe it was necessary to lock down whole populations. I don't believe in the political jihad against hydroxychloriquine because Trump said it might have value, mounds of anecdotal evidence supported its use, and many physicians endorse it.

I don't subscribe to the globalist horesehit from the Gates Foundation with his push for undeveloped vaccines and quantum dots, and statements that, "we have to vaccinate 6 billion people." I have contempt for craven people who demand that everyone else be locked down for their benefit, and whine about how "We can never go back to the way it was. Boo-hoo."

I question the ever changing, often contradictory narrative on this virus. I heap scorn on their wildly inaccurate models that caused this economic and social disaster. I call horse**** on the "scientists" and progressive authoritarians who joyfully locked down populations and businesses when it was not necessary. These same fools then remained totally silent when thugs, demonstrators, looters, arsonists, anarchists and mobs filled the street for a "higher cause." I condemn those such as the "hero" Andrew Cuomo who put infected people into nursing homes where old and vulnerable people died by the thousands for no reason. I guess that makes me and millions of others science "deniers." On the other hand, maybe ordinary people know a ship of floundering fools when they see one, and express genuine concern. You don't need scientific method to see a disaster in motion. Screw Fauchi.

theboxseat , 12 minutes ago

I believe in:

Fool me once shame on you...

Darn who can remember Dubya's version of this

LA_Goldbug , 11 minutes ago

He's busy looking for WMD with Colon Powell in Iraq. He'll be back in 50 yrs. because it is there and he will not stop looking.

ken , 9 minutes ago

Lies, just remember the lies, and that stupid look on his face while he tells them.

hugin-o-munin , 5 minutes ago

“There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.”

Rocbottom , 15 minutes ago

SCIENCE doesn’t say jack ****. SCIENTISTS do. And this “scientist” is a PROPAGANDIST not a doctor. THAT IS WHY no one believes what he says. He’s a paid liar.

SteveNYC , 18 minutes ago

Joke of the day "American don't believe authority"

Tony, WHAT DO YOU EXPECT? When you've been lied to, on a massive scale since 2001, additional lies of which were put on steroids starting in 2016 - you'd be a FOOL to believe "authority" or "EXPERTS" like you pal.

It's over.

k3g , 11 minutes ago

Lives Matter.

hugin-o-munin , 10 minutes ago

You must be a racist. :)

ken , 3 minutes ago

...not so much according to the Georgia Guidestones, the BMGF, U.S. Foreign Policy, and the sacrificial babies used in blackmail to force it, by Israel.

sun tzu , 21 minutes ago

What science told the states in the northeast to send thousands of infected patients into nursing homes?

Trezrek500 , 22 minutes ago

Science isn't about blind ideology.

B52Minot , 23 minutes ago

Faucci is nothing but a spoiled brat....and now he has a tantrum because Americans could care less about what he says....why?? he wonders....Because Faucci has shown us the dark side of science....how it can ruin you if you make the wrong decision about its true validity. If we knew that the original estimate of deaths from COVID was a fraud Trump would never had declared an emergency and agreed with a shut down....This entire COVID response has been one big disaster....and a fraud with Faucci out there thinking he runs the place...

Time after time HE HAS BEEN WRONG..and his trust in the WHO and CHINA too has been corrupted if not a fraud too...SO WHY IS HE STILL TRYING TO TELL US WHAT TO DO....Because he thinks he is some sort of expert yet so flawed it oozes out of every pore...and NO ONE should listen to him on anything. Just another crying kid having a tantrum....GO HOME and retire Faucci...you really are worthless...and shut the hell up.

sun tzu , 24 minutes ago

Science is the truth, but scientists can and do lie.

BAMCIS , 24 minutes ago

Science has a PR problem. Mainly due to it only being accountable to itself and the fact that for all it lofty aspirations, Science has not been able to achieve escape volatility from the bounds of corruption that only Big Money can impose.

Plus Americans are culturally hard wired to view Science as an enemy. Luke, a dumb hick farmer who used his faith and tenacity to destroy the crown jewel of the evil technocrats, namely the Death Star. In most (if not all) James Bond movies the villains are mad scientists or industrialists using science for "evil". In "The Hunger Games", Katniss Everdean is again a bumpkin who wages war against the fancy people with their shiny tech in their decadent cities. Its the Urban/Rural dichotomy. Same as it ever was.

bh2 , 27 minutes ago

"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts." -- Feynman

vampirekiller , 29 minutes ago

No one believes a queertard that attempted to attribute a 100% preventable queer disease confined to the queer population to the majority heterosexual population. No one believes a queertard when current empirical data refutes his fearmongering.

Lux , 29 minutes ago

I'm still wondering why Fauci is even alive. Then again, the entire Pentagon is populated by traitors with offshore bank accounts, so..

smacker , 33 minutes ago

Someone needs to tell Fauci the reason why people don't believe the science is because it keeps changing and contradicts itself.

There is no centre of competence on this virus and conflicting advice, including from him.

Voice-of-Reason , 35 minutes ago

Science originally said we didn't need masks and now we do. The problem I have with Mr Fauci's form of science is that it is too easily manipulated by politics.

adr , 38 minutes ago

Hey Fauchole, is this science?

Upwards of 60% of people have natural immunity to Covid due to antibodies produced from four or more common coronaviruses.

I reject your "science" and replace it with real research.

https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(20)30610-3

Rest Easy , 38 minutes ago

Well, yeah Dr. Fausti. We certainly did believe you. We didn't want to. But we are playing along. You know like at work. And like living like free citizens in a supposedly free country. By obliging you with shut-ins and shutdowns. And you terrorizing and bankrupting millions. Yeah I think we played along. And had faith in government and science. Cuz you said so. And would jail or punish those who did not. Take kids away. Send swat. Stuff like that. Had bills to pay. Those bills just keep on coming. And the nerve of those people wanting to like pay them! On time!

Government is only effective with the consent of the governed. You should know that. You should also say something about how that was shown to be very selective enforcement. Cuz riots or something. Do or don't matter? Confusing. They apparently can live of a billion dollars from bank of America and starkbucks and Wal-Mart. Or just not pay their bills at all. Or work. At a job. Where you have to show up on time, wear a mask and not burn **** down. Stuff like that.

You are throwing a tantrum. Because everyone, not quite everyone. Still doesn't obey you. Enough. To willingly line up for your vaccine. When it is ready. Of course. Seeing a little scary times ahead for your authority. Who do you answer to Dr. Fausti? Are they getting a little hot under your collar? Cuz science, right? Is what you most believe in. Not like something else. And as long as we are here. Why do you work for Trump? Or more to the point. Why does he employ you? Very confusing. Since he wants to maga. Supposedly.

Hal n back , 41 minutes ago

I wonder how he treats his subordinates who have different views

R2U2 , 40 minutes ago

Webster’s Dictionary, 1828:

JES'UITISM, noun

1. Cunning, deceit; hypocrisy; prevarication; deceptive practices to effect a purpose

https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/jesuitism

"Two cankers are biting the very entrails of the United States today: the Romish and the Mormon priests. Both are quietly at work to form a people of the most abject, ignorant and fanatical slaves, who will recognize no other authority but their supreme pontiffs. Both are aiming at the destruction of our schools, to raise themselves upon our ruins. Both shelter themselves under our grand and holy principles of liberty of conscience, to destroy that very liberty of conscience, and bind the world before their heavy and ignominious yoke.

The Mormon and the Jesuit priests are equally the uncompromising enemies of our constitution and our laws; but the more dangerous of the two is the Jesuit—the Romish priest, for he knows better how to conceal his hatred under the mask of friendship and public good; he is better trained to commit the most cruel and diabolical deeds for the glory of God.”
--Abraham Lincoln, 1864; "Fifty Years in the Church of Rome,” Charles Chiniquy, 1888.

The CIA is roughly half Mormon and half Roman Catholic.

Stan Smith , 43 minutes ago

The reason people don't trust institutions is because they fail us time and time again.

All why sucking up resources for research (good) and making sure people inside the system are taken care of (less good).

The more Fauci talks the more he sounds like Al Gore. Not a good thing.

Lying about masks was bad. But lying about HC + Zinc is worse, at least in my mind.

To be fair to Fauci, that industry isnt the only one filled with dishonest schiesters.

They are everywhere.

Institutions aren't trusted because they've earned the distrust over decades. It's well earned.

Sid Davis , 46 minutes ago

Fauci is a complete fraud.

He graduated from medical school and then spent 2 years working in hospitals. That is the extent of his medical experience. For the last 50 years he has been a bureaucrat. He obviously has a conflict of interest because of his ties to the Gates Foundation, Big Pharma, and the Wuhan Lab where this mess started.

This guy belongs at the end of a rope, not at the top of the response team to this scamdemic.

He is a sociopathic conman, and not even very good at that.

Stillontheroad , 50 minutes ago

Hey Fucci. How much money to you stand to gain from all your patents, all granted when you worked for the Federal Government but because you had friends in Congress a law was passed giving you the proceeds from those patents when in the real world said patents belong to the USA

Voice-of-Reason , 52 minutes ago

Mr. Fauci,

We believe science. We just don't believe governmental controlled shutdowns are the answer to this pandemic and that it ultimately does more damage to the economy than it protects people from Covid19. And yes, we do not believe authority because they lie constantly, are corrupt and generally are incompetent.

Krink26 , 53 minutes ago

When authorities weaponized everything including science, for political gain, people will not trust your authority.

VideoEng_NC , 53 minutes ago

"Speaking on a podcast..."

This is the level of media Fauci seems to be relegated to plus his ever-welcoming friends for interviews with the MSM. Would appear Hungarian Pengos here on ZH was correct on his 05/21 post regarding the ulterior motives behind the announcement of Pence staffers getting the Wuhan virus making Fauci self isolate...for good. He doesn't even get to bake tree cookies.

Longdriver , 1 hour ago

Fauci's true colors are being shown now. He's getting testy because he is watching his future personal profits go up in smoke in controlled vaccines.

DoctorFix , 1 hour ago

"Dont believe science"? Sure, Dr. Falsey! I believe in the "science" you represent. The science of lies and criminal deception. The science of propaganda and manipulation. The kind of sciences that you wholeheartedly embrace.

k3g , 1 hour ago

Fauci's turn came, and he proved himself to be incompetent, a bureaucrat, a fraud.

**** you Tony. You flat out suck.

What is The Hedge , 1 hour ago

What Fauci is really saying is that Americans are no longer accepting the false narratives promoted by those in charge. Maybe there's hope.

Lumberjack , 1 hour ago

Mr. Fauci;

I’m your age and have a pretty strong background in engineering, science and some other practical skills.

Over the last 30 years science has been bastardized by politicization and liberalism has finally reached the point of teaching kids 2+3= anything they want.

Political science is based on fraud and bull$hit and now the real deal is as contaminated as Fukushima.

Your comment about “authotity” screams of idiocracy. Try watering your crops with gatorade and fertilizing with MDMA.

I know and knew real Phd’s who were real scientists and that’s when science was based on theory, tests, duplication and verification.

That is no longer the case. It’s idiots like you, book smart field stupid ( I’m being kind with book smart), The only thing you a$$wipes are looking for is 10 minutes of fame, a bunch of money and molesting your interns and students with big boobs that need a passing grade.

When as usual your astrological prognotications are bad (which are 99% of the time), you find convenient parties to blame.

It’s time to put real science into both science and leadership.

I have high hopes that this will happen sooner rather than later.

Kid’s take note and see how many times they claimed eggs are bad for you and then they said eggs are good for you. That goes for many other items and issues too.

Yesireebob, You screwed the pooch Mr. Fauci and I’m calling PETA right now.

Lj

NotAGenius , 1 hour ago

Why the hell does ZH give Fauci the incredibly dishonest cruel idiot any venue. He's a liar and is the cause of the destruction of the USA by telling Trump we'd have a million covid-19 deaths unless it was shut down and everyone stayed home. So Trump wiped out the country and all of our lives on Fauci's b.s. That is what Fauci is, at best. Do not give him any public platform to lie even more yet to the cowardly stupid clueless Americans. Fauci does not deserve any recognition or platform for lies anywhere in the USA. But he's given the stage because the government apparently supports his lies. They are all guilty of treason and mass destruction of civilization. I want both executed at best, or at least humiliated with public avoidance.

brian91145 , 1 hour ago

he is owned by the Rockefllers and Gates. That's a fact

radical-extremist , 1 hour ago

Scientists that can never bring themselves to say "I don't know." , are not scientists...they're blathering charlatans pumping their brand and feeding their egos. Fauci is much like Paul Krugman. He speaks with such confidence and certainty about everything, that surely he must be right. And when proven wrong will do it again with the opposing view, ignoring the fact he ever said it to begin with...as if there's no internet.

SurfingUSA , 1 hour ago

Yes true scientists are extremely humble and cautious, bec. they know how much they don't know.

FragNasty , 1 hour ago

Hee hee, greatings to all.

Science is meant to be based on evidence rather than faith. Maybe Fauci himself doesn't believe in science with his inclination to the contrary. "Americans don't believe ..." The man is a maniac! Maybe he is accidentally confessing to the state of "science" as a counterpart to religion in it's role as an ideological control mechanism within the state of politics today, more precisely the breakdown of such a control mechanism.

Often is man's best wisdom to be silent , 1 hour ago

Marionettes can easily be transformed into hanged persons. The ropes are already there.

Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

BaNNeD oN THe RuN , 1 hour ago

He is right...

Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.

~ Isaac Asimov

But he is also one of the reasons that the anti-intellectual movement can maintain momentum. Too many of the "authoritative voices" in positions of power are total charlatans.

Itchy and Scratchy , 1 hour ago

This yap flappin’ freak show in on the board of Gates controlled WHO & various other big pharma boards! His crooked snoot is buried so far into the cash flow trough it ain’t even funny! Embezzlement poster child!

Handful of Dust , 1 hour ago

"Fauci the Fraud" will go down in history who will not remember him kindly.

Totally_Disillusioned , 1 hour ago

Fauci doesn't seem to understand WE DON'T BELIEVE HIM ANY LONGER!

SuperareDolo , 6 minutes ago

You never should have believed him. He was behind the attempt to steal credit for the discovery of HIV by his underling, Gallo. There's a long story there.

Yog Soggoth , 1 hour ago

I believe Fauci gave the Wuhan lab $3.7 million.

We_The_People , 1 hour ago

That’s not entirely true, we just believe fraudulent agenda driven traitors like you!

Fauci’s estimates were so off that the only 2 conclusions can be formed, gross negligence or intentional deception, either way he has zero credibility left!

[Jun 14, 2020] Anonymous Berkeley Professor Shreds BLM Injustice Narrative With Damning Facts And Logic

Highly recommended!
A strange mixture of Black nationalism with Black Bolshevism is a very interesting and pretty alarming phenomenon. It proved to be a pretty toxic mix. But it is far from being new. We saw how the Eugène Pottier famous song International lines "We have been naught we shall be all." and "Servile masses arise, arise." unfolded before under Stalinism in Soviet Russia.
We also saw Lysenkoism in Academia before, and it was not a pretty picture. Some Russian/Soviet scientists such as Academician Vavilov paid with their life for the sin of not being politically correct. From this letter it is clear that the some departments already reached the stage tragically close to that situation.
Lysenkoism was "politically correct" (a term invented by Lenin) because it was consistent with the broader Marxist doctrine. Marxists wanted to believe that heredity had a limited role even among humans, and that human characteristics changed by living under socialism would be inherited by subsequent generations of humans. Thus would be created the selfless new Soviet man
"Lysenko was consequently embraced and lionized by the Soviet media propaganda machine. Scientists who promoted Lysenkoism with faked data and destroyed counterevidence were favored with government funding and official recognition and award. Lysenko and his followers and media acolytes responded to critics by impugning their motives, and denouncing them as bourgeois fascists resisting the advance of the new modern Marxism." The Disgraceful Episode Of Lysenkoism Brings Us Global Warming Theory
Notable quotes:
"... In the extended links and resources you provided, I could not find a single instance of substantial counter-argument or alternative narrative to explain the under-representation of black individuals in academia or their over-representation in the criminal justice system. ..."
"... any cogent objections to this thesis have been raised by sober voices, including from within the black community itself, such as Thomas Sowell and Wilfred Reilly. These people are not racists or 'Uncle Toms'. They are intelligent scholars who reject a narrative that strips black people of agency and systematically externalizes the problems of the black community onto outsiders . Their view is entirely absent from the departmental and UCB-wide communiques. ..."
"... The claim that the difficulties that the black community faces are entirely causally explained by exogenous factors in the form of white systemic racism, white supremacy, and other forms of white discrimination remains a problematic hypothesis that should be vigorously challenged by historians ..."
"... Would we characterize criminal justice as a systemically misandrist conspiracy against innocent American men? I hope you see that this type of reasoning is flawed, and requires a significant suspension of our rational faculties. Black people are not incarcerated at higher rates than their involvement in violent crime would predict . This fact has been demonstrated multiple times across multiple jurisdictions in multiple countries. ..."
"... If we claim that the criminal justice system is white-supremacist, why is it that Asian Americans, Indian Americans, and Nigerian Americans are incarcerated at vastly lower rates than white Americans? ..."
"... Increasingly, we are being called upon to comply and subscribe to BLM's problematic view of history , and the department is being presented as unified on the matter. In particular, ethnic minorities are being aggressively marshaled into a single position. Any apparent unity is surely a function of the fact that dissent could almost certainly lead to expulsion or cancellation for those of us in a precarious position , which is no small number. ..."
"... The vast majority of violence visited on the black community is committed by black people . There are virtually no marches for these invisible victims, no public silences, no heartfelt letters from the UC regents, deans, and departmental heads. The message is clear: Black lives only matter when whites take them. Black violence is expected and insoluble, while white violence requires explanation and demands solution. Please look into your hearts and see how monstrously bigoted this formulation truly is. ..."
"... The claim that black intraracial violence is the product of redlining, slavery, and other injustices is a largely historical claim. It is for historians, therefore, to explain why Japanese internment or the massacre of European Jewry hasn't led to equivalent rates of dysfunction and low SES performance among Japanese and Jewish Americans respectively. ..."
"... Arab Americans have been viciously demonized since 9/11, as have Chinese Americans more recently. However, both groups outperform white Americans on nearly all SES indices - as do Nigerian Americans , who incidentally have black skin. It is for historians to point out and discuss these anomalies. However, no real discussion is possible in the current climate at our department . The explanation is provided to us, disagreement with it is racist, and the job of historians is to further explore additional ways in which the explanation is additionally correct. This is a mockery of the historical profession. ..."
"... Donating to BLM today is to indirectly donate to Joe Biden's 2020 campaign. This is grotesque given the fact that the American cities with the worst rates of black-on-black violence and police-on-black violence are overwhelmingly Democrat-run. Minneapolis itself has been entirely in the hands of Democrats for over five decades ; the 'systemic racism' there was built by successive Democrat administrations. ..."
"... The total alliance of major corporations involved in human exploitation with BLM should be a warning flag to us, and yet this damning evidence goes unnoticed, purposefully ignored, or perversely celebrated. We are the useful idiots of the wealthiest classes , carrying water for Jeff Bezos and other actual, real, modern-day slavers. Starbucks, an organisation using literal black slaves in its coffee plantation suppliers, is in favor of BLM. Sony, an organisation using cobalt mined by yet more literal black slaves, many of whom are children, is in favor of BLM. And so, apparently, are we. The absence of counter-narrative enables this obscenity. Fiat lux, indeed. ..."
"... MLK would likely be called an Uncle Tom if he spoke on our campus today . We are training leaders who intend, explicitly, to destroy one of the only truly successful ethnically diverse societies in modern history. As the PRC, an ethnonationalist and aggressively racially chauvinist national polity with null immigration and no concept of jus solis increasingly presents itself as the global political alternative to the US, I ask you: Is this wise? Are we really doing the right thing? ..."
Jun 12, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Dear profs X, Y, Z

I am one of your colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley. I have met you both personally but do not know you closely, and am contacting you anonymously, with apologies. I am worried that writing this email publicly might lead to me losing my job, and likely all future jobs in my field.

In your recent departmental emails you mentioned our pledge to diversity, but I am increasingly alarmed by the absence of diversity of opinion on the topic of the recent protests and our community response to them.

In the extended links and resources you provided, I could not find a single instance of substantial counter-argument or alternative narrative to explain the under-representation of black individuals in academia or their over-representation in the criminal justice system. The explanation provided in your documentation, to the near exclusion of all others, is univariate: the problems of the black community are caused by whites, or, when whites are not physically present, by the infiltration of white supremacy and white systemic racism into American brains, souls, and institutions.

Many cogent objections to this thesis have been raised by sober voices, including from within the black community itself, such as Thomas Sowell and Wilfred Reilly. These people are not racists or 'Uncle Toms'. They are intelligent scholars who reject a narrative that strips black people of agency and systematically externalizes the problems of the black community onto outsiders . Their view is entirely absent from the departmental and UCB-wide communiques.

The claim that the difficulties that the black community faces are entirely causally explained by exogenous factors in the form of white systemic racism, white supremacy, and other forms of white discrimination remains a problematic hypothesis that should be vigorously challenged by historians . Instead, it is being treated as an axiomatic and actionable truth without serious consideration of its profound flaws, or its worrying implication of total black impotence. This hypothesis is transforming our institution and our culture, without any space for dissent outside of a tightly policed, narrow discourse.

A counternarrative exists. If you have time, please consider examining some of the documents I attach at the end of this email. Overwhelmingly, the reasoning provided by BLM and allies is either primarily anecdotal (as in the case with the bulk of Ta-Nehisi Coates' undeniably moving article) or it is transparently motivated. As an example of the latter problem, consider the proportion of black incarcerated Americans. This proportion is often used to characterize the criminal justice system as anti-black. However, if we use the precise same methodology, we would have to conclude that the criminal justice system is even more anti-male than it is anti-black .

Would we characterize criminal justice as a systemically misandrist conspiracy against innocent American men? I hope you see that this type of reasoning is flawed, and requires a significant suspension of our rational faculties. Black people are not incarcerated at higher rates than their involvement in violent crime would predict . This fact has been demonstrated multiple times across multiple jurisdictions in multiple countries.

And yet, I see my department uncritically reproducing a narrative that diminishes black agency in favor of a white-centric explanation that appeals to the department's apparent desire to shoulder the 'white man's burden' and to promote a narrative of white guilt .

If we claim that the criminal justice system is white-supremacist, why is it that Asian Americans, Indian Americans, and Nigerian Americans are incarcerated at vastly lower rates than white Americans? This is a funny sort of white supremacy. Even Jewish Americans are incarcerated less than gentile whites. I think it's fair to say that your average white supremacist disapproves of Jews. And yet, these alleged white supremacists incarcerate gentiles at vastly higher rates than Jews. None of this is addressed in your literature. None of this is explained, beyond hand-waving and ad hominems. "Those are racist dogwhistles". "The model minority myth is white supremacist". "Only fascists talk about black-on-black crime", ad nauseam.

These types of statements do not amount to counterarguments: they are simply arbitrary offensive classifications, intended to silence and oppress discourse . Any serious historian will recognize these for the silencing orthodoxy tactics they are , common to suppressive regimes, doctrines, and religions throughout time and space. They are intended to crush real diversity and permanently exile the culture of robust criticism from our department.

Increasingly, we are being called upon to comply and subscribe to BLM's problematic view of history , and the department is being presented as unified on the matter. In particular, ethnic minorities are being aggressively marshaled into a single position. Any apparent unity is surely a function of the fact that dissent could almost certainly lead to expulsion or cancellation for those of us in a precarious position , which is no small number.

I personally don't dare speak out against the BLM narrative , and with this barrage of alleged unity being mass-produced by the administration, tenured professoriat, the UC administration, corporate America, and the media, the punishment for dissent is a clear danger at a time of widespread economic vulnerability. I am certain that if my name were attached to this email, I would lose my job and all future jobs, even though I believe in and can justify every word I type.

The vast majority of violence visited on the black community is committed by black people . There are virtually no marches for these invisible victims, no public silences, no heartfelt letters from the UC regents, deans, and departmental heads. The message is clear: Black lives only matter when whites take them. Black violence is expected and insoluble, while white violence requires explanation and demands solution. Please look into your hearts and see how monstrously bigoted this formulation truly is.

No discussion is permitted for nonblack victims of black violence, who proportionally outnumber black victims of nonblack violence. This is especially bitter in the Bay Area, where Asian victimization by black assailants has reached epidemic proportions, to the point that the SF police chief has advised Asians to stop hanging good-luck charms on their doors, as this attracts the attention of (overwhelmingly black) home invaders . Home invaders like George Floyd . For this actual, lived, physically experienced reality of violence in the USA, there are no marches, no tearful emails from departmental heads, no support from McDonald's and Wal-Mart. For the History department, our silence is not a mere abrogation of our duty to shed light on the truth: it is a rejection of it.

The claim that black intraracial violence is the product of redlining, slavery, and other injustices is a largely historical claim. It is for historians, therefore, to explain why Japanese internment or the massacre of European Jewry hasn't led to equivalent rates of dysfunction and low SES performance among Japanese and Jewish Americans respectively.

Arab Americans have been viciously demonized since 9/11, as have Chinese Americans more recently. However, both groups outperform white Americans on nearly all SES indices - as do Nigerian Americans , who incidentally have black skin. It is for historians to point out and discuss these anomalies. However, no real discussion is possible in the current climate at our department . The explanation is provided to us, disagreement with it is racist, and the job of historians is to further explore additional ways in which the explanation is additionally correct. This is a mockery of the historical profession.

Most troublingly, our department appears to have been entirely captured by the interests of the Democratic National Convention, and the Democratic Party more broadly. To explain what I mean, consider what happens if you choose to donate to Black Lives Matter, an organization UCB History has explicitly promoted in its recent mailers. All donations to the official BLM website are immediately redirected to ActBlue Charities , an organization primarily concerned with bankrolling election campaigns for Democrat candidates. Donating to BLM today is to indirectly donate to Joe Biden's 2020 campaign. This is grotesque given the fact that the American cities with the worst rates of black-on-black violence and police-on-black violence are overwhelmingly Democrat-run. Minneapolis itself has been entirely in the hands of Democrats for over five decades ; the 'systemic racism' there was built by successive Democrat administrations.

The patronizing and condescending attitudes of Democrat leaders towards the black community, exemplified by nearly every Biden statement on the black race, all but guarantee a perpetual state of misery, resentment, poverty, and the attendant grievance politics which are simultaneously annihilating American political discourse and black lives. And yet, donating to BLM is bankrolling the election campaigns of men like Mayor Frey, who saw their cities devolve into violence . This is a grotesque capture of a good-faith movement for necessary police reform, and of our department, by a political party. Even worse, there are virtually no avenues for dissent in academic circles . I refuse to serve the Party, and so should you.

The total alliance of major corporations involved in human exploitation with BLM should be a warning flag to us, and yet this damning evidence goes unnoticed, purposefully ignored, or perversely celebrated. We are the useful idiots of the wealthiest classes , carrying water for Jeff Bezos and other actual, real, modern-day slavers. Starbucks, an organisation using literal black slaves in its coffee plantation suppliers, is in favor of BLM. Sony, an organisation using cobalt mined by yet more literal black slaves, many of whom are children, is in favor of BLM. And so, apparently, are we. The absence of counter-narrative enables this obscenity. Fiat lux, indeed.

There also exists a large constituency of what can only be called 'race hustlers': hucksters of all colors who benefit from stoking the fires of racial conflict to secure administrative jobs, charity management positions, academic jobs and advancement, or personal political entrepreneurship.

Given the direction our history department appears to be taking far from any commitment to truth , we can regard ourselves as a formative training institution for this brand of snake-oil salespeople. Their activities are corrosive, demolishing any hope at harmonious racial coexistence in our nation and colonizing our political and institutional life. Many of their voices are unironically segregationist.

MLK would likely be called an Uncle Tom if he spoke on our campus today . We are training leaders who intend, explicitly, to destroy one of the only truly successful ethnically diverse societies in modern history. As the PRC, an ethnonationalist and aggressively racially chauvinist national polity with null immigration and no concept of jus solis increasingly presents itself as the global political alternative to the US, I ask you: Is this wise? Are we really doing the right thing?

As a final point, our university and department has made multiple statements celebrating and eulogizing George Floyd. Floyd was a multiple felon who once held a pregnant black woman at gunpoint. He broke into her home with a gang of men and pointed a gun at her pregnant stomach. He terrorized the women in his community. He sired and abandoned multiple children , playing no part in their support or upbringing, failing one of the most basic tests of decency for a human being. He was a drug-addict and sometime drug-dealer, a swindler who preyed upon his honest and hard-working neighbors .

And yet, the regents of UC and the historians of the UCB History department are celebrating this violent criminal, elevating his name to virtual sainthood . A man who hurt women. A man who hurt black women. With the full collaboration of the UCB history department, corporate America, most mainstream media outlets, and some of the wealthiest and most privileged opinion-shaping elites of the USA, he has become a culture hero, buried in a golden casket, his (recognized) family showered with gifts and praise . Americans are being socially pressured into kneeling for this violent, abusive misogynist . A generation of black men are being coerced into identifying with George Floyd, the absolute worst specimen of our race and species.

I'm ashamed of my department. I would say that I'm ashamed of both of you, but perhaps you agree with me, and are simply afraid, as I am, of the backlash of speaking the truth. It's hard to know what kneeling means, when you have to kneel to keep your job.

It shouldn't affect the strength of my argument above, but for the record, I write as a person of color . My family have been personally victimized by men like Floyd. We are aware of the condescending depredations of the Democrat party against our race. The humiliating assumption that we are too stupid to do STEM , that we need special help and lower requirements to get ahead in life, is richly familiar to us. I sometimes wonder if it wouldn't be easier to deal with open fascists, who at least would be straightforward in calling me a subhuman, and who are unlikely to share my race.

The ever-present soft bigotry of low expectations and the permanent claim that the solutions to the plight of my people rest exclusively on the goodwill of whites rather than on our own hard work is psychologically devastating . No other group in America is systematically demoralized in this way by its alleged allies. A whole generation of black children are being taught that only by begging and weeping and screaming will they get handouts from guilt-ridden whites.

No message will more surely devastate their futures, especially if whites run out of guilt, or indeed if America runs out of whites. If this had been done to Japanese Americans, or Jewish Americans, or Chinese Americans, then Chinatown and Japantown would surely be no different to the roughest parts of Baltimore and East St. Louis today. The History department of UCB is now an integral institutional promulgator of a destructive and denigrating fallacy about the black race.

I hope you appreciate the frustration behind this message. I do not support BLM. I do not support the Democrat grievance agenda and the Party's uncontested capture of our department. I do not support the Party co-opting my race, as Biden recently did in his disturbing interview, claiming that voting Democrat and being black are isomorphic. I condemn the manner of George Floyd's death and join you in calling for greater police accountability and police reform. However, I will not pretend that George Floyd was anything other than a violent misogynist, a brutal man who met a predictably brutal end .

I also want to protect the practice of history. Cleo is no grovelling handmaiden to politicians and corporations. Like us, she is free. play_arrow

LEEPERMAX , 12 seconds ago

Donations to Black Lives Matter are funneled through a Democratic fundraising group ...

seryanhoj , 36 seconds ago

This guy is not playing by the rules of US political discourse. His sins are:

1). Using real facts

2). Making logical deductions from the facts

3) Making assertions not in line with the script from his party, social group or race.

There is no future for such a man. We are in a time which prefers hysteria , lies and epic partisanship

simpson seers , 36 minutes ago

white muricans aren't racist, they kill equally....

https://www.fort-russ.com/2020/01/u-s-regime-has-killed-20-30-million-people-since-world-war-ii/

https://www.fort-russ.com/2020/02/former-american-drone-operator-us-military-worse-than-nazis/

Aubiekong , 36 minutes ago

Blacks will always be poor and fucked in life when 75% of black infants are born to single most likely welfare dependent mothers... And the more amount of welfare monies spent to combat poverty the worse this problem will grow...

taketheredpill , 37 minutes ago

Anonymous....

1) Is he really a Professor at Berkeley?

2) Is he really a Professor anywhere?

3) Is he really Black?

4) Is he really a He?

LEEPERMAX , 44 minutes ago

BLM is an international organization. They solicit tax free charitable donations via ActBlue. ActBlue then funnels billions of dollars to DNC campaigns. This is a violation of campaign finance law and allows foreign influence in American elections.

CRM114 , 44 minutes ago

I've pointed this out before:

In 2015, after the Freddie Gray death Officers were hung out to dry by the Mayor of Baltimore (yes, her, the Chair of the DNC in 2016), active policing in Baltimore basically stopped. They just count the bodies now. The clearance rate for homicides has dropped to, well, we don't know because the Police refuse to say, but it appears to be under 15%. The homicide rate jumped 50% almost immediately and has stayed there. 95% of homicides are black on black.

The Baltimore Sun keeps excellent records, so you can check this all for yourself.

Looking at killings by cops; if we take the worst case and exclude all the ones where the victim was armed and independent witnesses state fired first, and assume all the others were cop murders, then there's about 1 cop murder every 3 years, which means that since has now stopped and the homicide rate's gone up...

For every black man now not murdered by a cop, 400 more black men are murdered by other black men.

taketheredpill , 46 minutes ago

"As an example of the latter problem, consider the proportion of black incarcerated Americans. This proportion is often used to characterize the criminal justice system as anti-black. However, if we use the precise same methodology, we would have to conclude that the criminal justice system is even more anti-male than it is anti-black ."

It is the RATIO of UNARMED BLACK MALES KILLED to UNARMED WHITE MALES KILLED in RELATION TO % OF POPULATION. RATIO.

RATIO. UNARMED.

BLACK % POPULATION 13% BLACK % UNARMED MEN KILLED 37%

WHITE % POPULATION 74% BLACK % UNARMED MEN KILLED 45%

Is there a trend of MORE Black people being killed by police?

No. But there is an underlying difference in the numbers that is bad.

>>>>> As of 2018, Unarmed Blacks made up 36% of all people UNARMED killed by police. But black people make up 13% of the (unarmed) population.

UNARMED KILLINGS BY POLICE

UNARMED KILLINGS BY POLICE

YEAR Black Hispanic White

2015 36 19 31

2016 18 9 20

2017 19 12 24

2018(Apr) 7 1 10

2019 15 11 25

YEAR Black Hispanic White

2015 42% 22% 36%

2016 38% 19% 43%

2017 35% 22% 44%

2018(Apr) 39% 6% 56%

2019 29% 22% 49%

AVG 37% 18% 45%

% POPN 13% 16% 72%

ARMED > 18 YRS OLD TOY WEAPON

Black Hispanic White

2019 5 3 11

26% 16% 58%

https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/fatal-police-shootings-of-unarmed-people-have-significantly-declined-experts-say/2018/05/03/d5eab374-4349-11e8-8569-26fda6b404c7_story.html

radical-extremist , 47 minutes ago

There's a massive Silent Majority of Americans , including black Americans, that are fed up with this absurd nonsense.

While there's a Vocal Minority of Americans : including Democrats, the media, corporations and race hustlers, that wish to continue to promulgate a FALSE NARRATIVE into perpetuity...because it's a lucrative industry.

Gaius Konstantine , 57 minutes ago

A short while ago I had an ex friend get into it with me about how Europeans (whites), were the most destructive race on the planet, responsible for all the world's evil. I pointed out to him that Genghis Khan, an Asian, slaughtered millions at a time when technology made this a remarkable feat. I reminded him the Japanese gleefully killed millions in China and that the American Indian Empires ran 24/7 human sacrifices with some also practicing cannibalism. His poor libtard brain couldn't handle the fact that evil is a human trait, not restricted to a particular race and we parted (good riddance)

But along with evil, there is accomplishment. Europeans created Empires and pursued science, The Asians also participated in these pursuits and even the Aztec and Inca built marvelous cities and massive states spanning vast stretches of territory. The only race that accomplished little save entering the stone age is the Africans. Are we supposed to give them a participation trophy to make them feel better? Is this feeling of inferiority what is truly behind their constant rage?

Police in the US have been militarized for a long time now and kill many more unarmed whites than they do blacks, where is the outrage? I'm getting the feeling that this isn't really about George, just an excuse to do what savages do.

lwilland1012 , 1 hour ago

"Truth is treason in an empire of lies."

George Orwell

You know that the reason he is anonymous is that Berkley would strip him of his teaching credentials and there would be multiple attempts on his life...

Ignatius , 1 hour ago

" The vast majority of violence visited on the black community is committed by black people . There are virtually no marches for these invisible victims, no public silences, no heartfelt letters from the UC regents, deans, and departmental heads. The message is clear: Black lives only matter when whites take them. Black violence is expected and insoluble, while white violence requires explanation and demands solution. Please look into your hearts and see how monstrously bigoted this formulation truly is."

PhD thesis, right there. ..

Templar X , 1 hour ago

Ex-fed who trained Buffalo cops says shoved activist 'got away lightly'

By Craig McCarthy

June 12, 2020 | 12:31pm

A former fed who trained the police in Buffalo believes the elderly protester who was hospitalized after a cop pushed him to the ground "got away lightly" and "took a dive," according to a report.

The retired FBI agent, Gary DiLaura, told The Sun he thinks there's no chance Buffalo officers will be convicted of assault over the now-viral video showing the longtime peace activist Martin Gugino fall and left bleeding on the ground.

" I can't believe that they didn't deck him. If that would have been a 40-year-old guy going up there, I guarantee you they'd have been all over him, " DiLaura said.

" He absolutely got away lightly. He got a light push and in my humble opinion, he took a dive and the dive backfired because he hit his head. Maybe it'll knock a little bit of sense into him, " added the former fed, who trained Buffalo police on firearms and defensive tactics, according to the report...

https://nypost.com/2020/06/12/ex-fed-who-trained-buffalo-cops-elderly-activist-got-away-lightly/

NanoRap , 17 minutes ago

It's a great brainwashing process, which goes very slow[ly] and is divided [into] four basic stages. The first one [is] demoralization ; it takes from 15-20 years to demoralize a nation. Why that many years? Because this is the minimum number of years which [is required] to educate one generation of students in the country of your enemy, exposed to the ideology of the enemy. In other words, Marxist-Leninist ideology is being pumped into the soft heads of at least three generations of American students, without being challenged, or counter-balanced by the basic values of Americanism (American patriotism).

The result? The result you can see. Most of the people who graduated in the sixties (drop-outs or half-baked intellectuals) are now occupying the positions of power in the government, civil service, business, mass media, [and the] educational system. You are stuck with them. You cannot get rid of them. T hey are contaminated; they are programmed to think and react to certain stimuli in a certain pattern. You cannot change their mind[s], even if you expose them to authentic information, even if you prove that white is white and black is black, you still cannot change the basic perception and the logic of behavior. In other words, these people... the process of demoralization is complete and irreversible. To [rid] society of these people, you need another twenty or fifteen years to educate a new generation of patriotically-minded and common sense people, who would be acting in favor and in the interests of United States society.

Yuri Bezmenov

American Psycho , 16 minutes ago

This article was one of the most articulate and succinct rebuttals to the BLM political power grab. I too have been calling these "allies" useful idiots and I am happy to hear this professor doing the same. Bravo professor!

[Jun 13, 2020] Chicago Fed Economist Fired For Criticizing Defund The Police

Jun 13, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Chicago Fed Economist Fired For Criticizing "Defund The Police" by Tyler Durden Sat, 06/13/2020 - 17:40 Submitted by Mark Glennon of Wirepoints

If you are among the two-thirds of Americans opposing calls by Black Lives Matter to defund the police, think twice about saying so in public.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is the latest example of what you might face. On Friday it cut ties with a prominent University of Chicago economics professor, Harald Uhlig, who was a scholar at the bank, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. The Chicago Fed said it terminated Mr. Uhlig's contract effective that day.

What was Uhlig's sin?

A series of tweets criticizing Black Lives Matter's call to defund police departments.

BLM had "just torpedoed itself, with its full-fledged support of #defundthepolice," Uhlig tweeted.

"Time for sensible adults to enter back into the room and have serious, earnest, respectful conversations about it all We need more police, we need to pay them more, we need to train them better," he wrote.

The full text of the tweets is linked here .

If you think those comments seem harmless, you are not alone. Beyond the two-thirds of Americans who tell pollsters they oppose calls for defunding, you have to wonder how many more are afraid to answer polls honestly.

Uhlig also knocked those who tried to redefine what defunding means by claiming "it just means funding schools (who isn't in favor of that?!?)." He was absolutely right to do that. We wrote just this week why calls to defund mean just that, which was affirmed by a New York Times column Friday headlined, "Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police."

The Chicago Fed wasn't the first to go after Uhlig for his tweets. Earlier reactions were covered by both the Wall Street Journal and Business Insider , reactions the National Review described as a mob attack on academic freedom.

Over the past few years we learned to expect, even to shrug off, charges of racism or insensitivity over even the most sensible or innocuous comments.

What's new just in the past month, however, is far more frightening.

It's the surrender by so many companies and institutions to intimidation by the most radical voices, such as those who would defund the police. Contributions to Black Lives Matter are pouring in from corporate America and dissenting voices are being muzzled and punished. The Federal Reserve Bank properly guards its independence, and its local banks pride themselves on independence even from one another. But for the Chicago Fed, that independence apparently ends when the mob shows up.

These are terrifying times for reasons far beyond law and order. This is about freedom of expression and America itself.

[May 24, 2020] Unable to communicate in Arabic and with no relevant experience or appropriate educational training

Highly recommended!
I wouldn't hold my breath for the slightest change in that status quo any time soon.
May 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

anonymous [400] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment May 23, 2020 at 12:34 pm GMT

Unable to communicate in Arabic and with no relevant experience or appropriate educational training

Seems rather typical of those making policy, not knowing much about the area they're assigned to. If a person did know Arabic and had an understanding of the culture they wouldn't get hired as they'd be viewed with suspicion, suspected of being sympathetic to Middle Easterners. How and why these neocons can come back into government is puzzling and one wonders who within the establishment is backing them. Judging by the quotes her father certainly seems deranged and not someone to be allowed anywhere near any policy making positions.
Flynn also seems to be a dolt what with his 'worldwide war against radical Islam'. Someone should clue him in that much of this radical Islam has been created and stoked by the US who hyped up radical Islam, recruiting and arming them to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. Bin Laden was there, remember? Flynn, a general, is unaware of this? Islamic jihadists are America's Foreign Legion and have been used all over the Muslim world, most recently in Syria. Does this portend war with Iran? Possibly, but perhaps Trump wouldn't want to go it alone but would want the financial support of other countries. They've probably war-gamed it to death and found it to be a loser.

[May 13, 2020] A Pandemic of Know-Nothings

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The coronavirus reminds us that the gap between what we think we know and what we actually do know is enormous. ..."
"... American Journal of Public Health ..."
May 13, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The coronavirus reminds us that the gap between what we think we know and what we actually do know is enormous.

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, shows off charts with members of the coronavirus task force during a briefing in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

May 13, 2020

|

12:01 am

Matt Purple St. Louis Federal Reserve watchers, rejoice! And yes, I'm talking to both of you. The St. Louis Fed is freshly relevant this week thanks to a paper it published back in 2007 that examined the economic effects of the 1918 Spanish flu. Drawing on old newspaper articles, local surveys, and other studies -- national data back then was scarce -- the report found that the damage done to businesses by the outbreak was both severe and short-lived. The impact on the next generation, however, was longer-lasting. Those in utero during the pandemic went on to attain less education and lower incomes than had previous generations.

What we wouldn't give for that kind of glimpse from the future today. The coronavirus has killed hundreds of thousands while sledgehammering the economy, leaving close to a quarter of working-age Americans either unemployed or underemployed. And we still have no idea how it will end. It may be that this recession is similar to the one in 1918, cutting deeply but easing rapidly. Or it may be that we're in for another lost decade of stubborn unemployment and stagnant growth. It may be that the virus is seen off this summer, remembered as a frightening but ultimately brief ordeal. Or it may be that it lurks into the autumn, whereupon it comes roaring back.

We don't know, and we hate that we don't know. Consequently a cottage industry has sprung up around our uncertainty, hawking models, projections, expert opinions. These things have valid scientific purposes, of course, but thrown down the rabbit hole of our popular discourse, they've taken on a kind of hysterical clairvoyance, supposedly able to tell us what's coming and how we should respond. With climate change, we grew accustomed to the idea that scientists could see into the future. Now we're demanding they do the same with the coronavirus. That's despite the fact that so far, none of these projections have demonstrated any greater predictive ability than your average call to Miss Cleo.

Take the government's official death toll projections. Back in January, the White House was largely complacent over the coronavirus, with President Trump comparing it to the seasonal flu and his health secretary saying that Americans need "not worry for their own safety." Then in late March, the pendulum swung towards apocalypse. Actually, the White House said, 200,000 Americans could die. Two weeks later, the death toll projection fell to a far rosier 60,000 , and the country breathed a sigh of relief ahead of Easter weekend. Then the projections ticked upwards yet again. Today, IHME, the White House's principal modeler, predicts that 147,000 Americans will be killed by August 4.

Some of the issue here may be the choice of models. IHME has been criticized by epidemiologists , as have the Imperial College modelers in Britain (who have lately been distracted by, er, more extracurricular activities ). But the bigger problem is best summed up in a quote to Politico by the head of IHME, explaining why his organization's projections were so wrong. "We had presumed, perhaps naively," he said, "that given the magnitude of the epidemic, most states would stick to their social distancing until the end of May." In other words, the models are premised on assumptions that can be scrambled by real-world events, whether political decisions or acts of God or the caprices of the virus itself. They aren't showing us the future so much as extrapolating off of a snapshot, one that can easily change. Yet we treat them as practically mystic. "200,000 could die!!" scream the headlines, with "could" ever the weasel word.

We don't just do this with the death toll. On the economy, too, we seem hopelessly confused. Here's a smattering of headlines from the past two months: "Unemployment rate could exceed 20% by June, top White House adviser says." "Economists see uneven jobs recovery, high U.S. unemployment through 2021." "Top JPMorgan investment advisor: It will take '10 to 12 years' for U.S. employment levels to return." "The coronavirus recession will be deeper and faster than the financial crisis." "Economists say quick rebound from recession is unlikely." "Trump's baseless claim that a recession would be deadlier than the coronavirus." "U.N. warns economic downturn could kill hundreds of thousands of children in 2020."

Stare into this blurry puddle long enough and you might conclude that no one has any idea what the hell they're talking about. Or you might fall back on your own biases, choosing to believe stories that buttress your political beliefs and speak to your own personal circumstances. Either way, this kind of confusion can have long-reaching effects. Consider, for example, a new study that was released last week, which found that there could be 75,000 so-called deaths of despair -- meaning suicides and drug and alcohol overdoses -- as a result of the coronavirus recession. It called to mind another social science finding , one of the most consequential of the last decade: that life expectancy among less educated, middle-aged, white Americans was declining, driven primarily by those deaths of despair.

That claim, courtesy of researchers Anne Case and Angus Deaton , made its way around the internet. It fed into the narrative of the populist right and Donald Trump. It provided an empirical grounding for "American carnage." But wait: a less noticed study a year later, which took Case's and Deaton's data and adjusted for age, found a more mixed picture. According to research from Columbia University , while middle-aged white women had indeed seen increased mortality rates, middle-aged white men had reversed this trend back in 2005. And then came another study, in the American Journal of Public Health , that challenged the very concept of "deaths of despair," warning that "the gap between deaths of despair as a claim and deaths of despair as a rigorously tested scientific concept is wide."

There is a Grand Canyon-sized gap between what we think we know and what we actually know. How to navigate this chasm? Two maxims can help.

The first comes from Friedrich Hayek: "The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design." Hayek was concerned with what he called the "fatal conceit," which he defined as the belief "that man is able to shape the world around him according to his wishes." We might add a corollary: that man is able to anticipate the world around him according to his wishes. Because knowledge is complex and dispersed, Hayek argued, no one can ever marshal enough of it to centrally plan an economy. Likewise even a sophisticated model can't have enough data to foresee how a pandemic will play out. There are simply too many variables, drawing on too many areas of life.

The second maxim comes from a very different source: John Dickinson, perhaps our most conservative founding father. "Experience must be our only guide," Dickinson said. "Reason may mislead us." Of course, by reason, he didn't mean vast computer algorithms struggling to track contagion across seven continents; he was thinking of 18th-century rationalism, which he contrasted with the more reliable yardstick of historical experience. While what seemed philosophically sound in the abstract could be tainted by personal bias or disconnected from real life, precedent was far more settled. How something had worked in the past was a good indication of how it would work in the future.

Unfortunately we have very little precedent when it comes to the coronavirus, though the Spanish flu can perhaps offer some clues. The 1918 influenza, like the current pandemic, began in the spring, only to enter a second wave in the fall that killed more people than the first. A third wave then began that winter and stretched into the summer of 1919. That's chilling, yet there's good news too: the recession that followed was short and quickly blossomed into the 1920s, one of the most dizzying economic expansions in our history.

So top hats and flapper dresses all around? Who knows? It's called the novel coronavirus for a reason. The awful truth is that we have very little idea how long this will go on and how it will ultimately turn out. And the reason for that is that we know so very much less than we think we do.

[Mar 26, 2020] Reflections on a Century of Junk Science

Highly recommended!
Mar 26, 2020 | www.unz.com

Kratoklastes , says: Show Comment Next New Comment March 25, 2020 at 6:16 pm GMT

@thotmonger

I also remember some of early estimates of Mad Cow disease in humans in UK and they turned out to be very exaggerated.

When the political class was trying to de-gay HIV/AIDS in 1987, they had Oprah tell everyone that 20% of heterosexual people would be dead before 1990.

The first I learned of Oprah's jaw-droppingly sensationalist remarks, was in a piece a couple of days ago on AmericanThinker (which sounds like a rare bird indeed, if not an outright oxymoron – but it has good stuff from time to time).

Anyhow, it was an interesting piece – entitled " Reflections on a Century of Junk Science " by the author of " Hoodwinked: How Intellectual Hucksters Have Hijacked American Culture ", which I will acquire today. (The book's 11 years old, but sounds like it will be along the same lines as Kendrick's " Doctoring Data: How to Sort Out Medical Advice from Medical Nonsense ", which was excellent).

[Jan 25, 2020] Rabobank What If... The Protectionists Are Right And The Free Traders Are Wrong by Michael Every

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Yet it took until 1860 for the UK to fully embrace free trade, and even then the unpalatable historical record is that during this 'golden age', the British: Destroyed the Indian textile industry to benefit their own cloth manufacturers; Started the Opium Wars to balance UK-China trade by selling China addictive drugs; Ignored the Irish Potato Famine and continued to allow Irish wheat exports; Forced Siam (Thailand) to open up its economy to trade with gunboats (as the US did with Japan); and Colonized much of Africa and Asia. ..."
"... Regardless, the first flowering of free trade collapsed back into nationalism and protectionism - bloodily so in 1914. Free trade was tried again from 1919 - but burned-out even more bloodily in the 1930s and 1940s. After WW2, most developed countries had moderately free trade - but most developing countries did not. We only started to re-embrace global free trade from the 1990s onwards when the Cold War ended – and here it is under stress again. In short, only around 100 years in a total of 5,000 years of civilization has seen real global free trade, it has failed twice already, and it is once again coming under pressure. ..."
"... Of course, this doesn't mean liked-minded groups of countries with similar-enough or sympathetic-enough economies and politics should avoid free trade: clearly for some states it can work out nicely - even if within the EU one could argue there are also underlying strains. However, it is a huge stretch to assume a one-size-fits-all free trade policy will always work best for all countries, as some would have it. That is a fairy tale. History shows it wasn't the case; national security concerns show it can never always be the case; and Ricardo argues this logically won't be the case. ..."
Jan 25, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

"When I used to read fairy tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one!" (Alice in Wonderland, Chapter 4, The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill)

Submitted by Michael Every of Rabobank

2020 starts with markets feeling optimistic due to a US-China trade deal and a reworked NAFTA in the form of the USMCA. However, the tide towards protectionism may still be coming in, not going out.

The intellectual appeal of the basis for free trade, Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage, where Portugal specializes in wine, and the UK in cloth, is still clearly there. Moreover, trade has always been a beneficial and enriching part of human culture. Yet the fact is that for the majority of the last 5,000 years global trade has been highly-politicized and heavily-regulated . Indeed, global free-trade only began following the abolition of the UK Corn Laws in 1846, which reduced British agricultural tariffs, brought in European wheat and corn, and allowed the UK to maximize its comparative advantage in industry.

Yet it took until 1860 for the UK to fully embrace free trade, and even then the unpalatable historical record is that during this 'golden age', the British:

As we showed back in ' Currency and Wars ', after an initial embrace of free trade, the major European powers and Japan saw that their relative comparative advantage meant they remained at the bottom of the development ladder as agricultural producers, an area where prices were also being depressed by huge US output; meanwhile, the UK sold industrial goods, ran a huge trade surplus, and ruled the waves militarily. This was politically unsustainable even though the UK vigorously backed the intellectual concept of free trade given it was such a winner from it.

Regardless, the first flowering of free trade collapsed back into nationalism and protectionism - bloodily so in 1914. Free trade was tried again from 1919 - but burned-out even more bloodily in the 1930s and 1940s. After WW2, most developed countries had moderately free trade - but most developing countries did not. We only started to re-embrace global free trade from the 1990s onwards when the Cold War ended – and here it is under stress again. In short, only around 100 years in a total of 5,000 years of civilization has seen real global free trade, it has failed twice already, and it is once again coming under pressure.

What are we getting wrong? Perhaps that Ricardo's theory has major flaws that don't get included in our textbooks, as summarized in this overlooked quote

"It would undoubtedly be advantageous to the capitalists of England [that] the wine and cloth should both be made in Portugal [and that] the capital and labour of England employed in making cloth should be removed to Portugal for that purpose." Which is pretty much what happens today! However, Ricardo adds that this won't happen because "Most men of property [will be] satisfied with a low rate of profits in their own country, rather than seek a more advantageous employment for their wealth in foreign nations," which is simply not true at all! In other words, his premise is flawed in that:

As Ricardo's theory requires key conditions that are not met in reality most of the time, why are we surprised that most of reality fails to produce idealised free trade most of the time? Several past US presidents before Donald Trump made exactly that point. Munroe (1817-25) argued: " The conditions necessary for Free Trade's success - reciprocity and international peace - have never occurred and cannot be expected ". Grant (1869-77) noted "Within 200 years, when America has gotten out of protection all that it can offer, it too will adopt free trade".

Yet arguably we are better, not worse, off regardless of these sentiments – so hooray! How so? Well, did you know that Adam Smith, who we equate with free markets, and who created the term "mercantile system" to describe the national-protectionist policies opposed to it, argued the US should remain an agricultural producer and buy its industrial goods from the UK? It was Founding Father Alexander Hamilton who rejected this approach, and his "infant industry" policy of industrialization and infrastructure spending saw the US emerge as the world's leading economy instead. That was the same development model that, with tweaks, was then adopted by pre-WW1 Japan, France, and Germany to successfully rival the UK; and then post-WW2 by Japan (again) and South Korea; and then more recently by China, that key global growth driver. Would we really be better off if the US was still mainly growing cotton and wheat, China rice and apples, and the UK was making most of the world's consumer goods? Thank the lack of free trade if you think otherwise!

Yet look at the examples above and there is a further argument for more protectionism ahead. Ricardo assumes a benign global political environment for free trade . Yet what if the UK and Portugal are rivals or enemies? What if the choice is between steel and wine? You can't invade neighbours armed with wine as you can with steel! A large part of the trade tension between China and the US, just as between pre-WW1 Germany and the UK, is not about trade per se: for both sides, it is about who produces key inputs with national security implications - and hence is about relative power . This is why we hear US hawks underlining that they don't want to export their highest technology to China, or to specialize only in agricultural exports to it as China moves up the value-chain. It also helps underline why for most of the past 5,000 years trade has not been free. Indeed, this argument also holds true for the other claimed benefit of free trade: the cross-flow of ideas and technology. That is great for friends, but not for those less trusted.

Of course, this doesn't mean liked-minded groups of countries with similar-enough or sympathetic-enough economies and politics should avoid free trade: clearly for some states it can work out nicely - even if within the EU one could argue there are also underlying strains. However, it is a huge stretch to assume a one-size-fits-all free trade policy will always work best for all countries, as some would have it. That is a fairy tale. History shows it wasn't the case; national security concerns show it can never always be the case; and Ricardo argues this logically won't be the case.

Yet we need not despair. The track record also shows that global growth can continue even despite protectionism, and in some cases can benefit from it. That being said, should the US resort to more Hamiltonian policies versus everyone, not just China, then we are in for real financial market turbulence ahead given the role the US Dollar plays today compared to the role gold played for Smith and Ricardo! But that is a whole different fairy tale...

[Dec 01, 2019] Academic Conformism is the road to 1984. - Sic Semper Tyrannis

Highly recommended!
Dec 01, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Academic Conformism is the road to "1984."

Symptoms-of-groupthink-janis-72-l

The world is filled with conformism and groupthink. Most people do not wish to think for themselves. Thinking for oneself is dangerous, requires effort and often leads to rejection by the herd of one's peers.

The profession of arms, the intelligence business, the civil service bureaucracy, the wondrous world of groups like the League of Women Voters, Rotary Club as well as the empire of the thinktanks are all rotten with this sickness, an illness which leads inevitably to stereotyped and unrealistic thinking, thinking that does not reflect reality.

The worst locus of this mentally crippling phenomenon is the world of the academics. I have served on a number of boards that awarded Ph.D and post doctoral grants. I was on the Fulbright Fellowship federal board. I was on the HF Guggenheim program and executive boards for a long time. Those are two examples of my exposure to the individual and collective academic minds.

As a class of people I find them unimpressive. The credentialing exercise in acquiring a doctorate is basically a nepotistic process of sucking up to elders and a crutch for ego support as well as an entrance ticket for various hierarchies, among them the world of the academy. The process of degree acquisition itself requires sponsorship by esteemed academics who recommend candidates who do not stray very far from the corpus of known work in whichever narrow field is involved. The endorsements from RESPECTED academics are often decisive in the award of grants.

This process is continued throughout a career in academic research. PEER REVIEW is the sine qua non for acceptance of a "paper," invitation to career making conferences, or to the Holy of Holies, TENURE.

This life experience forms and creates CONFORMISTS, people who instinctively boot-lick their fellows in a search for the "Good Doggy" moments that make up their lives. These people are for sale. Their price may not be money, but they are still for sale. They want to be accepted as members of their group. Dissent leads to expulsion or effective rejection from the group.

This mentality renders doubtful any assertion that a large group of academics supports any stated conclusion. As a species academics will say or do anything to be included in their caste.

This makes them inherently dangerous. They will support any party or parties, of any political inclination if that group has the money, and the potential or actual power to maintain the academics as a tribe. pl


doug , 01 December 2019 at 01:01 PM

Sir,

That is the nature of tribes and humans are very tribal. At least most of them. Fortunately, there are outliers. I was recently reading "Political Tribes" which was written by a couple who are both law professors that examines this.

Take global warming (aka the rebranded climate change). Good luck getting grants to do any skeptical research. This highly complex subject which posits human impact is a perfect example of tribal bias.

My success in the private sector comes from consistent questioning what I wanted to be true to prevent suboptimal design decisions.

I also instinctively dislike groups that have some idealized view of "What is to be done?"

As Groucho said: "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member"

J , 01 December 2019 at 01:22 PM
Reminds one of the Borg, doesn't it?

The 'isms' had it, be it Nazism, Fascism, Communism, Totalitarianism, Elitism all demand conformity and adherence to group think. If one does not co-tow to whichever 'ism' is at play, those outside their group think are persecuted, ostracized, jailed, and executed all because they defy their conformity demands, and defy allegiance to them.

One world, one religion, one government, one Borg. all lead down the same road to -- Orwell's 1984.

Factotum , 01 December 2019 at 03:18 PM
David Halberstam: The Best and the Brightest. (Reminder how the heck we got into Vietnam, when the best and the brightest were serving as presidential advisors.)

Also good Halberstam re-read: The Powers that Be - when the conservative media controlled the levers of power; not the uber-liberal one we experience today.

[Dec 01, 2019] Neoliberalism Tells Us We're Selfish Souls How Can We Promote Other Identities by Christine Berry,

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... As the Gramscian theorists Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau observed, our political identities are not a 'given' – something that emerges directly from the objective facts of our situation. We all occupy a series of overlapping identities in our day-to-day lives – as workers or bosses, renters or home-owners, debtors or creditors. Which of these define our politics depends on political struggles for meaning and power. ..."
"... The architects of neoliberalism understood this process of identity creation. By treating people as selfish, rational utility maximisers, they actively encouraged them to become selfish, rational utility maximisers. As the opening article points out, this is not a side effect of neoliberal policy, but a central part of its intention. As Michael Sandel pointed out in his 2012 book 'What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets' , it squeezes out competing values that previously governed non-market spheres of life, such as ethics of public service in the public sector, or mutual care within local communities. But these values remain latent: neoliberalism does not have the power to erase them completely. This is where the hope for the left lies, the crack of light through the doorway that needs to be prised open. ..."
"... More generally, there is some evidence that neoliberalism didn't really succeed in making us see ourselves as selfish rational maximisers – just in making us believe that everybody else was . For example, a 2016 survey found that UK citizens are on average more oriented towards compassionate values than selfish values, but that they perceive others to be significantly more selfish (both than themselves and the actual UK average). Strikingly, those with a high 'self-society gap' were found to be less likely to vote and engage in civic activity, and highly likely to experience feelings of cultural estrangement. ..."
"... Perhaps a rational system is one that accepts selfishness but keeps it within limits. Movements like the Chicago school that pretend to reinvent the wheel with new thinking are by this view a scam. As J.K. Galbraith said: "the problem with their ideas is that they have been tried." ..."
"... They tried running an economy on debt in the 1920s. The 1920s roared with debt based consumption and speculation until it all tipped over into the debt deflation of the Great Depression. No one realised the problems that were building up in the economy as they used an economics that doesn't look at private debt, neoclassical economics. ..."
"... Keynes looked at the problems of the debt based economy and came up with redistribution through taxation to keep the system running in a sustainable way and he dealt with the inherent inequality capitalism produced. ..."
"... Neoliberalism, which has influenced so much of the conventional thinking about money, is adamant that the public sector must not create ('print') money, and so public expenditure must be limited to what the market can 'afford.' Money, in this view, is a limited resource that the market ensures will be used efficiently. Is public money, then, a pipe dream? No, for the financial crisis and the response to it undermined this neoliberal dogma. ..."
"... The financial sector mismanaged its role as a source of money so badly that the state had to step in and provide unlimited monetary backing to rescue it. The creation of money out of thin air by public authorities revealed the inherently political nature of money. But why, then, was the power to create money ceded to the private sector in the first place -- and with so little public accountability? ..."
Nov 01, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Lambert here: Not sure the soul is an identity, but authors don't write the headlines. Read on!

By Christine Berry, a freelance researcher and writer and was previously Director of Policy and Government for the New Economics Foundation. She has also worked at ShareAction and in the House of Commons. Originally published at Open Democracy .

"Economics is the method: the object is to change the soul." Understanding why Thatcher said this is central to understanding the neoliberal project, and how we might move beyond it. Carys Hughes and Jim Cranshaw's opening article poses a crucial challenge to the left in this respect. It is too easy to tell ourselves a story about the long reign of neoliberalism that is peopled solely with all-powerful elites imposing their will on the oppressed masses. It is much harder to confront seriously the ways in which neoliberalism has manufactured popular consent for its policies.

The left needs to acknowledge that aspects of the neoliberal agenda have been overwhelmingly popular: it has successfully tapped into people's instincts about the kind of life they want to lead, and wrapped these instincts up in a compelling narrative about how we should see ourselves and other people. We need a coherent strategy for replacing this narrative with one that actively reconstructs our collective self-image – turning us into empowered citizens participating in communities of mutual care, rather than selfish property-owning individuals competing in markets.

As the Gramscian theorists Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau observed, our political identities are not a 'given' – something that emerges directly from the objective facts of our situation. We all occupy a series of overlapping identities in our day-to-day lives – as workers or bosses, renters or home-owners, debtors or creditors. Which of these define our politics depends on political struggles for meaning and power.

Part of the job of politics – whether within political parties or social movements – is to show how our individual problems are rooted in systemic issues that can be confronted collectively if we organise around these identities. Thus, debt becomes not a source of shame but an injustice that debtors can organise against. Struggles with childcare are not a source of individual parental guilt but a shared societal problem that we have a shared responsibility to tackle. Podemos were deeply influenced by this thinking when they sought to redefine Spanish politics as 'La Casta' ('the elite') versus the people, cutting across many of the traditional boundaries between right and left.

The architects of neoliberalism understood this process of identity creation. By treating people as selfish, rational utility maximisers, they actively encouraged them to become selfish, rational utility maximisers. As the opening article points out, this is not a side effect of neoliberal policy, but a central part of its intention. As Michael Sandel pointed out in his 2012 book 'What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets' , it squeezes out competing values that previously governed non-market spheres of life, such as ethics of public service in the public sector, or mutual care within local communities. But these values remain latent: neoliberalism does not have the power to erase them completely. This is where the hope for the left lies, the crack of light through the doorway that needs to be prised open.

The Limits of Neoliberal Consciousness

In thinking about how we do this, it's instructive to look at the ways in which neoliberal attempts to reshape our identities have succeeded – and the ways they have failed. While Right to Buy might have been successful in identifying people as home-owners and stigmatising social housing, this has not bled through into wider support for private ownership. Although public ownership did become taboo among the political classes for a generation – far outside the political 'common sense' – polls consistently showed that this was not matched by a fall in public support for the idea. On some level – perhaps because of the poor performance of privatised entities – people continued to identify as citizens with a right to public services, rather than as consumers of privatised services. The continued overwhelming attachment to a public NHS is the epitome of this tendency. This is partly what made it possible for Corbyn's Labour to rehabilitate the concept of public ownership, as the 2017 Labour manifesto's proposals for public ownership of railways and water – dismissed as ludicrous by the political establishment – proved overwhelmingly popular.

More generally, there is some evidence that neoliberalism didn't really succeed in making us see ourselves as selfish rational maximisers – just in making us believe that everybody else was . For example, a 2016 survey found that UK citizens are on average more oriented towards compassionate values than selfish values, but that they perceive others to be significantly more selfish (both than themselves and the actual UK average). Strikingly, those with a high 'self-society gap' were found to be less likely to vote and engage in civic activity, and highly likely to experience feelings of cultural estrangement.

This finding points towards both the great conjuring trick of neoliberal subjectivity and its Achilles heel: it has successfully popularised an idea of what human beings are like that most of us don't actually identify with ourselves. This research suggests that our political crisis is caused not only by people's material conditions of disempowerment, but by four decades of being told that we can't trust our fellow citizens. But it also suggests that deep down, we know this pessimistic account of human nature just isn't who we really are – or who we aspire to be.

An example of how this plays out can be seen in academic studies showing that, in game scenarios presenting the opportunity to free-ride on the efforts of others, only economics students behaved as economic models predicted: all other groups were much more likely to pool their resources. Having been trained to believe that others are likely to be selfish, economists believe that their best course of action is to be selfish as well. The rest of us still have the instinct to cooperate. Perhaps this shouldn't be surprising: after all, as George Monbiot argues in 'Out of the Wreckage' , cooperation is our species' main survival strategy.

What's Our 'Right to Buy?'

The challenge for the left is to find policies and stories that tap into this latent sense of what makes us human – what Gramsci called 'good sense' – and use it to overturn the neoliberal 'common sense'. In doing so, we must be aware that we are competing not only with a neoliberal identity but also with a new far-right that seeks to promote a white British ethno-nationalist group identity, conflating 'elites' with outsiders. How we compete with this is the million dollar question, and it's one we have not yet answered.

Thatcher's use of flagship policies like the Right to Buy was a masterclass in this respect. Deceptively simple, tangible and easy to grasp, the Right to Buy also communicated a much deeper story about the kind of nation we wanted to be – one of private, property-owning individuals – cementing home-ownership as a cultural symbol of aspiration (the right to paint your own front door) whilst giving millions an immediate financial stake in her new order. So what might be the equivalent flagship policies for the left today?

Perhaps one of the strongest efforts to date has been the proposal for ' Inclusive Ownership Funds ', first developed by Mathew Lawrence in a report for the New Economics Foundation, and announced as Labour policy by John McDonnell in 2018. This would require companies to transfer shares into a fund giving their workers a collective stake that rises over time and pays out employee dividends. Like the Right to Buy, as well as shifting the material distribution of wealth and power, this aims to build our identity as part of a community of workers taking more collective control over our working lives.

But this idea only takes us so far. While it may tap into people's desire for more security and empowerment at work, more of a stake in what they do, it offers a fairly abstract benefit that only cashes out over time, as workers acquire enough of a stake to have a meaningful say over company strategy. It may not mean much to those at the sharpest end of our oppressive and precarious labour market, at least not unless we also tackle the more pressing concerns they face – such as the exploitative practices of behemoths like Amazon or the stress caused by zero-hours contracts. We have not yet hit on an idea that can compete with the transformative change to people's lives offered by the Right to Buy.

So what else is on the table? Perhaps, when it comes to the cutting edge of new left thinking on these issues, the workplace isn't really where the action is – at least not directly. Perhaps we need to be tapping into people's desire to escape the 'rat race' altogether and have more freedom to pursue the things that really make us happy – time with our families, access to nature, the space to look after ourselves, connection with our communities. The four day working week (crucially with no loss of pay) has real potential as a flagship policy in this respect. The Conservatives and the right-wing press may be laughing it down with jokes about Labour being lazy and feckless, but perhaps this is because they are rattled. Ultimately, they can't escape the fact that most people would like to spend less time at work.

Skilfully communicated, this has the potential to be a profoundly anti-neoliberal policy that conveys a new story about what we aspire to, individually and as a society. Where neoliberalism tapped into people's desire for more personal freedom and hooked this to the acquisition of wealth, property and consumer choice, we can refocus on the freedom to live the lives we truly want. Instead of offering freedom through the market, we can offer freedom from the market.

Proponents of Universal Basic Income often argue that it fulfils a similar function of liberating people from work and detaching our ability to provide for ourselves from the marketplace for labour. But in material terms, it's unlikely that a UBI could be set at a level that would genuinely offer people this freedom, at least in the short term. And in narrative terms, UBI is actually a highly malleable policy that is equally susceptible to being co-opted by a libertarian agenda. Even at its best, it is really a policy about redistribution of already existing wealth (albeit on a bigger scale than the welfare state as it stands). To truly overturn neoliberalism, we need to go beyond this and talk about collective ownership and creation of wealth.

Policies that focus on collective control of assets may do a better job of replacing a narrative about individual property ownership with one that highlights the actual concentration of property wealth in the hands of elites – and the need to reclaim these assets for the common good. As well as Inclusive Ownership Funds, another way of doing this is through Citizens' Wealth Funds, which socialise profitable assets (be it natural resources or intangible ones such as data) and use the proceeds to pay dividends to individuals or communities. Universal Basic Services – for instance, policies such as free publicly owned buses – may be another.

Finally, I'd like to make a plea for care work as a critical area that merits further attention to develop convincing flagship policies – be it on universal childcare, elderly care or support for unpaid carers. The instinctive attachment that many of us feel to a public NHS needs to be widened to promote a broader right to care and be cared for, whilst firmly resisting the marketisation of care. Although care is often marginalised in political debate, as a new mum, I'm acutely aware that it is fundamental to millions of people's ability to live the lives they want. In an ageing population, most people now have lived experience of the pressures of caring for someone – whether a parent or a child. By talking about these issues, we move the terrain of political contestation away from the work valued by the market and onto the work we all know really matters; away from the competition for scarce resources and onto our ability to look after each other. And surely, that's exactly where the left wants it to be.

This article forms part of the " Left governmentality" mini series for openDemocracy.

Carolinian , November 1, 2019 at 12:36 pm

The problem is that people are selfish–me included–and so what is needed is not better ideas about ourselves but better laws. And for that we will need a higher level of political engagement and a refusal to accept candidates who sell themselves as a "lesser evil." It's the decline of democracy that brought on the rise of Reagan and Thatcher and Neoliberalism and not some change in public consciousness (except insofar as the general public became wealthier and more complacent). In America incumbents are almost universally likely to be re-elected to Congress and so they have no reason to reject Neoliberal ideas.

So here's suggesting that a functioning political process is the key to reform and not some change in the PR.

Angie Neer , November 1, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Carolinian, like you, I try to include myself in statements about "the problem with people." I believe one of the things preventing progress is our tendency to believe it's only those people that are the problem.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , November 1, 2019 at 4:55 pm

Human nature people are selfish. It's like the Christian marriage vow – which I understand is a Medieval invention and not something from 2,000 years ago – for better or worse, meaning, we share (and are not to be selfish) the good and the bad.

"Not neoliberals, but all of us." "Not the right, but the left as well." "Not just Russia, but America," or "Not just America, but Russia too."

Carolinian , November 1, 2019 at 5:54 pm

Perhaps a rational system is one that accepts selfishness but keeps it within limits. Movements like the Chicago school that pretend to reinvent the wheel with new thinking are by this view a scam. As J.K. Galbraith said: "the problem with their ideas is that they have been tried."

The Rev Kev , November 1, 2019 at 8:06 pm

My small brain got stuck on your reference to a 'Christian marriage vow'. I was just sitting back and conceiving what a Neoliberal marriage vow would sound like. Probably a cross between a no-liabilities contract and an open-marriage agreement.

Carey , November 1, 2019 at 9:05 pm

"people are selfish"?; or "people can sometimes act selfishly"? I think the latter is the more accurate statement. Appeal to the better side, and more of it will be forthcoming.
Neolib propaganda appeals to trivial, bleak individualism..

Carolinian , November 2, 2019 at 9:14 am

I'm not sure historic left attempts to appeal to "the better angels of our nature" have really moved the ball much. It took the Great Depression to give us a New Deal and WW2 to give Britain the NHS and the India its freedom. I'd say events are in the saddle far more than ideas.

Mark Anderlik , November 2, 2019 at 10:58 am

I rather look at it as a "both and" rather than an "either or." If the political groundwork is not done beforehand and during, the opportunity events afford will more likely be squandered.

And borrowing from evolutionary science, this also holds with the "punctuated equilibrium" theory of social/political change. The strain of a changed environment (caused by both events and intentionally created political activity) for a long time creates no visible change to the system, and so appears to fail. But then some combination of events and conscious political work suddenly "punctuates the equilibrium" with the resulting significant if not radical changes.

Chile today can be seen as a great example of this: "Its not 30 Pesos, its 30 Years."

J4Zonian , November 2, 2019 at 4:40 pm

Carolinian, you provide a good illustration of the power of the dominant paradigm to make people believe exactly what the article said–something I've observed more than enough to confirm is true. People act in a wide variety of ways; but many people deny that altruism and compassion are equally "human nature". Both parts of the belief pointed out here–believing other people are selfish and that we're not–are explained by projection acting in concert with the other parts of this phenomenon. Even though it's flawed because it's only a political and not a psychological explanation, It's a good start toward understanding.

"You and I are so deeply acculturated to the idea of "self" and organization and species that it is hard to believe that man [sic] might view his [sic] relations with the environment in any other way than the way which I have rather unfairly blamed upon the nineteenth-century evolutionists."

Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, p 483-4
This is part of a longer quote that's been important to me my whole life. Worth looking up. Bateson called this a mistake in epistemology–also, informally, his definition of evil.
http://anomalogue.com/blog/category/systems-thinking/

"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it."
― Frédéric Bastiat

Doesn't mean it's genetic. In fact, I'm pretty sure it means it's not.

Capital fn 4 , November 1, 2019 at 1:11 pm

The desire for justice is the constant.

The Iron Lady once proclaimed, slightly sinisterly: "Economics is the method. The object is to change the soul." She meant that British people had to rediscover the virtue of traditional values such as hard work and thrift. The "something for nothing" society was over.

But the idea that the Thatcher era re-established the link between virtuous effort and just reward has been effectively destroyed by the spectacle of bankers driving their institutions into bankruptcy while being rewarded with million-pound bonuses and munificent pensions.

The dual-truth approach of the Neoliberal Thought Collective (thanks, Mirowski) has been more adept at manipulating narratives so the masses are still outraged by individuals getting undeserved social benefits rather than elites vacuuming up common resources. Thanks to the Thatcher-Reagan revolution, we have ended up with socialism for the rich, and everyone else at the mercy of 'markets'.

Pretending that there are not problems with free riders is naive and it goes against people's concern with justice. Acknowledging free riders on all levels with institutions that can constantly pursue equity is the solution.

Anarcissie , November 2, 2019 at 10:09 am

At some points in life, everyone is a free rider. As for the hard workers, many of them are doing destructive things which the less hard-working people will have to suffer under and compensate for. (Neo)liberalism and capitalism are a coherent system of illusions of virtue which rest on domination, exploitation, extraction, and propaganda. Stoking of resentment (as of free riders, the poor, the losers, foreigners, and so on) is one of the ways those who enjoy it keep it going.

Capital fn. 4 , November 1, 2019 at 1:16 pm

The desire for justice is the constant.

The Iron Lady once proclaimed, slightly sinisterly: "Economics is the method. The object is to change the soul." She meant that British people had to rediscover the virtue of traditional values such as hard work and thrift. The "something for nothing" society was over.

But the idea that the Thatcher era re-established the link between virtuous effort and just reward has been effectively destroyed by the spectacle of bankers driving their institutions into bankruptcy while being rewarded with million-pound bonuses and munificent pensions.

The dual-truth approach of the Neoliberal Thought Collective (thanks, Mirowski) has been more adept at manipulating narratives so the masses are still outraged by individuals getting undeserved social benefits rather than elites vacuuming up common resources. Thanks to the Thatcher-Reagan revolution, we have ended up with socialism for the rich, and everyone else at the mercy of 'markets'.

Pretending that there are not problems with free riders is naive and it goes against people's concern with justice. Acknowledging free riders on all levels with institutions that can constantly pursue equity is the solution.

Synoia , November 2, 2019 at 12:58 pm

The Iron Lady had a agenda to break the labor movement in the UK.

What she did not understand is Management gets the Union (Behavior) it deserves. If there is strife in the workplace, as there was in abundance in the UK at that time, the problem is the Management, (and the UK class structure) not the workers.

As I found out when I left University.

Thatcher set out to break the solidarity of the Labor movement, and used the neo-liberal tool of selfishness to achieve success, unfortunately,

The UK's poor management practices, (The Working Class can kiss my arse) and complete inability to form teams of "Management and Workers" was, IMHO, is the foundation of today's Brexit nightmare, a foundation based on the British Class Structure.

And exploited, as it ever was, to achieve ends which do not benefit workers in any manner.

The Historian , November 1, 2019 at 1:43 pm

The left needs to acknowledge that aspects of the neoliberal agenda have been overwhelmingly popular: it has successfully tapped into people's instincts about the kind of life they want to lead, and wrapped these instincts up in a compelling narrative about how we should see ourselves and other people.

Sigh, no this is not true. This author is making the mistake that everyone is like the top 5% and that just is not so. Perhaps she should get out of her personal echo chamber and talk to common people.

In my travels I have been to every state and every major city, and I have worked with just about every class of people, except of course the ultra wealthy and ultra powerful – they have people to protect them from the great unwashed like me – and it didn't take me long to notice that the elite are different from the rest of us but I could never explain exactly why. After I retired, I started studying and I've examined everything from Adam Smith, to Hobbes, to Kant, to Durkheim, to Marx, to Ayn Rand, to tons of histories and anthropologies of various peoples, to you name it and I've come to the conclusion that most of us are not neoliberal and do not want what the top 5% want.

Most people are not overly competitive and most do not seek self-interest only. That is what allows us to live in cities, to drive on our roadways, to form groups that seek to improve conditions for the least of us. It is what allows soldiers to protect each other on the battlefield when it would be in their self interest to protect themselves. It is what allowed people in Europe to risk their own lives to save Jews. And it is also what allows people to live under the worst dictators without rebelling. Of course we all want more but we have limits on what we will do to get that more – the wealthy and powerful seem to have no limits. For instance, most of us won't screw over our co-workers to make ourselves look better, although some will. Most of us won't turn on our best friends even when it would be to our advantage to do so, although some will. Most of us won't abandon those we care about, even when it means severe financial damage to us, although some will.

For lack of a better description, I call what the 5% have the greed gene – a gene that allows them to give up empathy and compassion and basic morality – what some of us call fairness – in the search for personal gain. I don't think it is necessarily genetic but there is something in their makeup that cause them to have more than the average self interest. And because most humans are more cooperative than they are competitive, most humans just allow these people to go after what they want and don't stand in their way, even though by stopping them, they could make their own lives better.

Most history and economics are theories and stories told by the rich and powerful to justify their behavior. I think it is a big mistake to attribute that behavior to the mass of humanity. Archeology is beginning to look more at how average people lived instead of seeking out only the riches deposited by the elite, and historians are starting to look at the other side of history – average people – to see what life was really like for them, and I think we are seeing that what the rulers wanted was never what their people wanted. It is beginning to appear obvious that 95% of the people just wanted to live in their communities safely, to have about what everyone else around them had, and to enjoy the simple pleasures of shelter, enough food, and warm companionship.

I'm also wondering why the 5% think that all of us want exactly what they want. Do they really think that they are somehow being smarter or more competent got them there while 95% of the population – the rest of us – failed?

At this point, I know my theory is half-baked – I definitely need to do more research, but nothing I have found yet convinces me that there isn't some real basic difference between those who aspire to power and wealth and the rest of us.

Foy , November 1, 2019 at 5:09 pm

" ..and I've come to the conclusion that most of us are not neoliberal and do not want what the top 5% want. Most people are not overly competitive and most do not seek self-interest only. That is what allows us to live in cities, to drive on our roadways, to form groups that seek to improve conditions for the least of us. It is what allows soldiers to protect each other on the battlefield when it would be in their self interest to protect themselves. "

I really liked your comment Historian. Thanks for posting. That's what I've felt in my gut for a while, that the top 5% and the establishment are operating under a different mindset, that the majority of people don't want a competitive, dog eat dog, self interest world.

SKM , November 1, 2019 at 5:52 pm

me too, great observation and well put. Made me feel better too! Heartfelt thanks

Mo's Bike Shop , November 1, 2019 at 8:00 pm

I agree with Foy Johnson. I've been reading up on Ancient Greece and realizing all the time that 'teh Greeks' are maybe only about thirty percent of the people in Greece. Most of that history is how Greeks were taking advantage of each other with little mention of the majority of the population. Pelasgians? Yeah, they came from serpents teeth, the end.

I think this is a problem from the Bronze Age that we have not properly addressed.

Mystery Cycles are a nice reminder that people were having fun on their own.

Carey , November 1, 2019 at 5:15 pm

Thanks very much for this comment, Historian.

deplorado , November 1, 2019 at 5:22 pm

I have more or less the same view. I think the author's statement about neoliberalism tapping into what type of life people want to lead is untenable. Besides instinct (are we all 4-year olds?), what people want is also very much socially constructed. And what people do is also very much socially coerced.

One anecdote: years ago, during a volunteer drive at work, I worked side by side with the company's CEO (company was ~1200 headcount, ~.5bn revenue) sorting canned goods. The guy was doing it like he was in a competition. So much so that he often blocked me when I had to place something on the shelves, and took a lot of space in the lineup around himself while swinging his large-ish body and arms, and wouldn't stop talking. To me, this was very rude and inconsiderate, and showed a repulsive level of disregard to others. This kind of behavior at such an event, besides being unpleasant to be around, was likely also making work for the others in the lineup less efficient. Had I or anyone else behaved like him, we would have had a good amount of awkwardness or even a conflict.

What I don't get is, how does he and others get away with it? My guess is, people don't want a conflict. I didn't want a conflict and said nothing to that CEO. Not because I am not competitive, but because I didn't want an ugly social situation (we said 'excuse me' and 'sorry' enough, I just didn't think it would go over well to ask him to stop being obnoxious and dominant for no reason). He obviously didn't care or was unaware – or actually, I think he was behaving that way as a tactical habit. And I didn't feel I had the authority to impose a different order.

So, in the end, it's about power – power relations and knowing what to do about it.

Foy , November 1, 2019 at 7:43 pm

Yep, I think you've nailed it there deplorado, types like your CEO don't care at all and/or are socially unaware, and is a tactical habit that they have found has worked for them in the past and is now ingrained. It is a power relation and our current world unfortunately is now designed and made to suit people like that. And each day the world incrementally moves a little bit more in their direction with inertia like a glacier. Its going to take something big to turn it around

Jeremy Grimm , November 1, 2019 at 6:49 pm

I too believe "most of us are not neoliberal". But if so, how did we end up with the kind of Corporate Cartels, Government Agencies and Organizations that currently prey upon Humankind? This post greatly oversimplifies the mechanisms and dynamics of Neoliberalism, and other varieties of exploitation of the many by the few. This post risks a mocking tie to Identity Politics. What traits of Humankind give truth to Goebbels' claims?

There definitely is "some real basic difference between those who aspire to power and wealth and the rest of us" -- but the question you should ask next is why the rest of us Hobbits blindly follow and help the Saurons among us. Why do so many of us do exactly what we're told? How is it that constant repetition of the Neoliberal identity concepts over our media can so effectively ensnare the thinking of so many?

Foy , November 1, 2019 at 7:47 pm

Maybe it's something similar to Milgram's Experiment (the movie the Experimenter about Milgram was on last night – worth watching and good acting by Peter Sarsgaard, my kind of indie film), the outcome is just not what would normally be expected, people bow to authority, against their own beliefs and interests, and others interests, even though they have choice. The Hobbits followed blindly in that experiment, the exact opposite outcome as to what was predicted by the all the psychology experts beforehand.

Mo's Bike Shop , November 1, 2019 at 8:12 pm

people bow to authority , against their own beliefs and interests, and others interests, even though they have choice

'Don't Make Waves' is a fundamentally useful value that lets us all swim along. This can be manipulated. If everyone is worried about Reds Under the Beds or recycling, you go along to get along.

Some people somersault to Authority is how I'd put it.

Foy , November 1, 2019 at 11:17 pm

Yep, don't mind how you put that Mo, good word somersault.

One of the amusing tests Milgram did was to have people go into the lift but all face the back of the lift instead of the doors and see what happens when the next person got in. Sure enough, with the next person would get in, face the front, look around with some confusion at everyone else and then slowly turn and face the back. Don't Make Waves its instinctive to let us all swim along as you said.

And 'some people' is correct. It was actually the majority, 65%, who followed directions against their own will and preferred choice in his original experiment.

susan the Other , November 1, 2019 at 8:07 pm

thank you, historian

The Rev Kev , November 1, 2019 at 8:14 pm

That's a pretty damn good comment that, Historian. Lots to unpick. It reminded me too of something that John Wyndham once said. He wrote how about 95% of us wanted to live in peace and comfort but that the other 5% were always considering their chances if they started something. He went on to say that it was the introduction of nuclear weapons that made nobody's chances of looking good which explains why the lack of a new major war since WW2.

Mr grumpy , November 1, 2019 at 9:56 pm

Good comment. My view is that it all boils down to the sociopathic personality disorder. Sociopathy runs on a continuum, and we all exhibit some of its tendencies. At the highest end you get serial killers and titans of industry, like the guy sorting cans in another comment. I believe all religions and theories of ethical behavior began as attempts to reign in the sociopaths by those of us much lower on the continuum. Neoliberalism starts by saying the sociopaths are the norm, turning the usual moral and ethical universe upside down.

Janie , November 1, 2019 at 11:59 pm

Your theory is not half-baked; it's spot-on. If you're not the whatever it takes, end justifies the means type, you are not likely to rise to the top in the corporate world. The cream rises to the top happens only in the dairy.

Grebo , November 2, 2019 at 12:25 am

Your 5% would correspond to Altemeyer's "social dominators". Unfortunately only 75% want a simple, peaceful life. 20% are looking for a social dominator to follow. It's psychological.

Kristin Lee , November 2, 2019 at 5:21 am

Excellent comment. Take into consideration the probability that the majority of the top 5% have come from a privileged background, ensconced in a culture of entitlement. This "greed" gene is as natural to them as breathing. Consider also that many wealthy families have maintained their status through centuries of calculated loveless marriages, empathy and other human traits gene-pooled out of existence. The cruel paradox is that for the sake of riches, they have lost their richness in character.

Davenport , November 2, 2019 at 7:57 am

This really chimes with me. Thanks so much for putting it down in words.

I often encounter people insisting humans are selfish. It is quite frustrating that this more predominant side of our human nature seems to become invisible against the propaganda.

Henry Moon Pie , November 1, 2019 at 1:49 pm

I'm barely into Jeremy Lent's The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity's Search for Meaning , but he's already laid down his central thesis in fairly complete form. Humans are both competitive and cooperative, he says, which should surprise no one. What I found interesting is that the competitive side comes from primates who are more intensely competitive than humans. The cooperation developed after the human/primate split and was enabled by "mimetic culture," communication skills that importantly presuppose that the object(s) of communication are intentional creatures like oneself but with a somewhat different perspective. Example: Human #1 gestures to Human #2 to come take a closer look at whatever Human #1 is examining. This ability to cooperate even came with strategies to prevent a would-be dominant male from taking over a hunter-gatherer band:

[I]n virtually all hunter-gatherer societies, people join together to prevent powerful males from taking too much control, using collective behaviors such as ridicule, group disobedience, and, ultimately, extreme sanctions such as assassination [This kind of society is called] a "reverse dominant hierarchy because rather than being dominated, the rank and file manages to dominate.

SKM , November 1, 2019 at 6:02 pm

yes, this chimes in with what I`ve been thinking for years after puzzling about why society everywhere ends up as it does – ie the fact that in small groups as we evolved to live in, we would keep a check on extreme selfish behaviour of dominant individuals. In complex societies (modern) most of us become "the masses" visible in some way to the system but the top echelons are not visible to us and are able to amass power and wealth out of all control by the rest of us. And yes, you do have to have a very strange drive (relatively rare, ?pathological) to want power and wealth at everyone else`s expense – to live in a cruel world many of whose problems could be solved (or not arise in the first place) by redistributing some of your wealth to little palpable cost to you

Mo's Bike Shop , November 1, 2019 at 8:37 pm

Africa over a few million years of Ice Ages seems to have presented our ancestors with the possibility of reproducing only if you can get along in close proximity to other Hominids without killing each other. I find that a compelling explanation for our stupidly big brains; it's one thing to be a smart monkey, it's a whole different solution needed to model what is going on in the brain of another smart monkey.

And communications: How could spoken language have developed without levels of trust and interdependence that maybe we can not appreciate today? We have a word for 'Blue' nowadays, we take it for granted.

Anarcissie , November 2, 2019 at 10:18 am

There is a theory that language originated between mothers and their immediate progeny, between whom either trust and benevolence exist, or the weaker dies. The mother's chances for survival and reproduction are enhanced if she can get her progeny to, so to speak, help out around the house; how to do that is extended by symbolism and syntax as well as example.

chuck roast , November 1, 2019 at 2:00 pm

I recall the first day of Econ 102 when the Prof. (damned few adjuncts in those days) said, "Everything we discuss hereafter will be built on the concept of scarcity." Being a contrary buggah' I thought, "The air I'm breathing isn't scarce." I soon got with the program supply and demand upward sloping, downward sloping, horizontal, vertical and who could forget kinked. My personal favorite was the Giffen Good a high priced inferior product. Kind of like Micro Economics.

Maybe we could begin our new Neo-Economics 102 with the proviso, "Everything we discuss hereafter will be based on abundance." I'm gonna' like this class!

Off The Street , November 1, 2019 at 2:27 pm

Neo-lib Econ does a great job at framing issues so that people don't notice what is excluded. Think of them as proto-Dark Patternists.

If you are bored and slightly mischievous, ask an economist how theory addresses cooperation, then assume a can opener and crack open a twist-top beer.

jrs , November 1, 2019 at 3:11 pm

Isn't one of the problems that it's NOT really built on the concept of scarcity? Most natural resources run into scarcity eventually. I don't know about the air one breaths, certainly fish species are finding reduced oxygen in the oceans due to climate change.

shtove , November 2, 2019 at 3:45 am

Yes, I suppose people in cities in south-east Asia wearing soot-exclusion masks have a different take on the abundance of air.

Jeremy Grimm , November 1, 2019 at 6:57 pm

If you would like that class on abundance you would love the Church of Abundant Life which pushes Jesus as the way to Abundant Life and they mean that literally. Abundant as in Jesus wants you to have lots of stuff -- so believe.

I believe Neoliberalism is a much more complex animal than an economic theory. Mirowski builds a plausible argument that Neoliberalism is a theory of epistemology. The Market discovers Truth.

Mo's Bike Shop , November 1, 2019 at 8:53 pm

"The air I'm breathing isn't scarce."

Had a lovely Physics class where the first homework problem boiled down to "How often do you inhale a atom (O or N) from Julius Caesar's last breath". Great little introduction to the power and pratfalls of 'estimations by Physicists' that xkcd likes to poke at. Back then we used the CRC Handbook to figure it out.

Anyway, every second breath you can be sure you have shared an atom with Caesar.

Susan the Other , November 1, 2019 at 2:08 pm

I don't think Maggie T. or uncle Milty were thinking about the future at all. Neither one would have openly promoted turfing quadriplegic 70-year-olds out of the rest home. That's how short sighted they both were. And stupid. We really need to call a spade a spade here. Milty doesn't even qualify as an economist – unless economics is the study of the destruction of society. But neoliberalism had been in the wings already, by the 80s, for 40 years. Nobody took into account that utility-maximizing capitalism always kills the goose (except Lenin maybe) – because it's too expensive to feed her. The neoliberals were just plain dumb. The question really is why should we stand for another day of neoliberal nonsense? Albeit Macht Frei Light? No thanks. I think they've got the question backwards – it shouldn't be how should "we" reconstruct our image now – but what is the obligation of all the failed neoliberal extractors to right society now? I'd just as soon stand back and watch the dam burst as help the neolibs out with a little here and a little there. They'll just keep taking as long as we give. This isn't as annoying as Macron's "cake" comment, but it's close. I did like the last 2 paragraphs however.

Susan the Other , November 1, 2019 at 2:42 pm

Here's a sidebar. A universal one. There is an anomaly in the universe – there is not enough accumulated entropy. It screws up theoretical physics because the missing entropy needs to be accounted for for their theories to work to their satisfaction. It seems to be a phenomenon of evolution. Thus it was recently discovered by a physics grad student that entropy by heat dissipation is the "creator" of life. Life almost spontaneously erupts where it can take advantage of an energy source. And, we are assuming, life thereby slows entropy down. There has to be another similar process among the stars and the planets as well, an evolutionary conservation of energy. So evolution takes on more serious meaning. From the quantum to the infinite. And society – it's right in the middle. So it isn't too unreasonable to think that society is extremely adaptable, taking advantage of any energy input, and it seems true to think that. Which means that society can go long for its goal before it breaks down. But in the end it will be enervated by lack of "resources" unless it can self perpetuate in an evolving manner. That's one good reason to say goodbye to looney ideologies.

djrichard , November 1, 2019 at 3:05 pm

For a view of humanity that is not as selfish, recommend "The Gift" by Marcel Mauss. Basically an anthropological study of reciprocal gift giving in the oceanic potlatch societies. My take is that the idea was to re-visit relationships, as giving a gift basically forces a response in the receiver, "Am I going to respond in kind, perhaps even upping what is required? Or am I going to find that this relationship simply isn't worth it and walk away?"

Kind of like being in a marriage. The idea isn't to walk away, the idea is you constantly need to re-enforce it. Except with the potlatch it was like extending that concept to the clan at large, so that all the relationships within the clan were being re-enforced.

Amfortas the hippie , November 1, 2019 at 3:26 pm

"Kind of like being in a marriage. The idea isn't to walk away, the idea is you constantly need to re-enforce it. "
amen.
we, the people, abdicated.

as for humans being selfish by default i used to believe this, due to my own experiences as an outlaw and pariah.
until wife's cancer and the overwhelming response of this little town,in the "reddest" congressional district in texas.
locally, the most selfish people i know are the one's who own everything buying up their neighbor's businesses when things get tough.
they are also the most smug and pretentious(local dems, in their hillforts come a close second in this regard) and most likely to be gop true believers.
small town and all everybody literally knows everybody, and their extended family and those connections are intertwined beyond belief.
wife's related, in some way, to maybe half the town.
that matters and explains my experience as an outcast: i never belonged to anything like that and such fellowfeeling and support is hard for people to extend to a stranger.
That's what's gonna be the hard sell, here, in undoing the hyperindividualist, "there is no such thing as society" nonsense.

Mo's Bike Shop , November 1, 2019 at 9:23 pm

I grew up until Junior High in a fishing village on the Maine coast that had been around for well over a hundred years and had a population of under 1000. By the time I was 8 I realized there was no point in being extreme with anyone, because they were likely to be around for the rest of your life.

I fell in love with sun and warmth when we moved away and unfortunately it's all gentrified now, by the 90s even a tar paper shack could be sold for a few acres up in Lamoine.

djrichard , November 1, 2019 at 10:49 pm

Yep, small towns are about as close as we get to clans nowadays. And just like clans, you don't want to be on the outside. Still when you marry in, it would be nice if the town would make you feel more a member like a clan should / would. ;-)

But outside of the small town and extended families I think that's it. We've been atomized into our nuclear families. Except for the ruling class – I think they have this quid pro quo gift giving relationship building figured out quite nicely. Basically they've formed their own small town – at the top.

By the way, I understand Mauss was an influence on Baudrillard. I could almost imagine Baudrillard thinking how the reality of the potlatch societies was so different than the reality of western societies.

Anarcissie , November 2, 2019 at 10:29 am

That's the big problem I see in this discussion. We know, or at least think we know, what's wrong, and what would be better; but we can't get other people to want to do something about it, even those who nominally agree with us. And I sure don't have the answer.

David , November 1, 2019 at 3:07 pm

Neoliberalism, in its early guise at least, was popular because politicians like Thatcher effectively promised something for nothing. Low taxes but still decent public services. The right to buy your council house without putting your parents' council house house in jeopardy. Enjoying private medical care as a perk of your job whilst still finding the NHS there when you were old and sick. And so on. By the time the penny dropped it was too late.
If the Left is serious about challenging neoliberalism, it has to return to championing the virtues of community, which it abandoned decades ago in favour of extreme liberal individualism Unfortunately, community is an idea which has either been appropriated by various identity warriors (thus fracturing society further) or dismissed (as this author does) because it's been taken up by the Right. A Left which explained that when everybody cooperates everybody benefits, but that when everybody fights everybody loses, would sweep the board.

deplorado , November 1, 2019 at 8:30 pm

>>Neoliberalism, in its early guise at least, was popular because politicians like Thatcher effectively promised something for nothing.

This. That's it.

Thank you David, for always providing among the most grounded and illuminating comments here.

Mo's Bike Shop , November 1, 2019 at 9:54 pm

If the Left is serious about challenging neoliberalism, it has to return to championing the virtues of community

I agree. The tenuous suggestions offered by the article are top down. But top-down universal solutions can remove the impetus for local organization. Which enervates the power of communities. And then you can't do anything about austerity, because your Rep loves the PowerPoints and has so much money from the Real Estate community.

Before one experiences the virtue, or power, of a community, one has to go through the pain in the ass of contributing to a community. It has to be rewarding process or it won't happen.

No idea how to do that from the top.

Capital fn. 4 , November 1, 2019 at 3:12 pm

Jeez louise-
one more attempt to get past Skynet

PKMKII , November 1, 2019 at 4:05 pm

Anyone have a link to the studies mentioned about how Econ majors were the only ones to act selfishly in the game scenarios?

Rod , November 2, 2019 at 3:30 pm

this may not get the ECON majors specifically but this will raise your eyebrows

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/06/embark-essay-tragedy-of-the-commons-greed-common-good/

this is next gen coming up here

Summer , November 1, 2019 at 5:33 pm

"An example of how this plays out can be seen in academic studies showing that, in game scenarios presenting the opportunity to free-ride on the efforts of others, only economics students behaved as economic models predicted: all other groups were much more likely to pool their resources. Having been trained to believe that others are likely to be selfish, economists believe that their best course of action is to be selfish as well. The rest of us still have the instinct to cooperate. Perhaps this shouldn't be surprising: after all, as George Monbiot argues in 'Out of the Wreckage', cooperation is our species' main survival strategy."

Since so many people believe their job is their identity, would be interssting to know what the job training or jobs were of the "others."

Summer , November 1, 2019 at 5:35 pm

"Ultimately, they can't escape the fact that most people would like to spend less time at work."

And that is a key point!

Carey , November 1, 2019 at 7:39 pm

>so many people believe their job is their identity

Only because the social sphere, which in the medium and long term we *all depend on* to survive, has been debased by 24/7/365 neolib talking points, and their purposeful economic constrictions..

Jeremy Grimm , November 1, 2019 at 7:13 pm

How many people have spent their lives working for the "greater good"? How many work building some transcendental edifice from which the only satisfaction they could take away was knowing they performed a part of its construction? The idea that Humankind is selfish and greedy is a projection promoted by the small part of Humankind that really is selfish and greedy.

Sound of the Suburbs , November 2, 2019 at 4:59 am

Let's work out the basics, this will help.

Where does wealth creation actually occur in the capitalist system?

Nations can do well with the trade, as we have seen with China and Germany, but this comes at other nation's expense.
In a successful global economy, trade should be balanced over the long term.
Keynes was aware of this in the past, and realised surplus nations were just as much of a problem as deficit nations in a successful global economy with a long term future.

Zimababwe has lots of money and it's not doing them any favours. Too much money causes hyper-inflation.
You can just print money, the real wealth in the economy lies somewhere else.
Alan Greenspan tells Paul Ryan the Government can create all the money it wants and there is no need to save for pensions.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNCZHAQnfGU
What matters is whether the goods and services are there for them to buy with that money. That's where the real wealth in the economy lies.
Money has no intrinsic value; its value comes from what it can buy.
Zimbabwe has too much money in the economy relative to the goods and services available in that economy. You need wheelbarrows full of money to buy anything.
It's that GDP thing that measures real wealth creation.

GDP does not include the transfer of existing assets like stocks and real estate.
Inflated asset prices are just inflated asset prices and this can disappear all too easily as we keep seeing in real estate.
1990s – UK, US (S&L), Canada (Toronto), Scandinavia, Japan
2000s – Iceland, Dubai, US (2008)
2010s – Ireland, Spain, Greece
Get ready to put Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden and Hong Kong on the list.
They invented the GDP measure in the 1930s, to track real wealth creation in the economy after they had seen all that apparent wealth in the US stock market disappear in 1929.
There was nothing really there.

Now, we can move on further.

The UK's national income accountants can't work out how finance adds any value (creates wealth).
Banks create money from bank loans, not wealth.
https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-bulletin/2014/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy.pdf
We have mistaken inflating asset prices for creating wealth.

How can banks create wealth with bank credit?
The UK used to know before 1980.
https://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/forum/uploads/monthly_2018_02/Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-13_53_09.png.e32e8fee4ffd68b566ed5235dc1266c2.png
Before 1980 – banks lending into the right places that result in GDP growth (business and industry, creating new products and services in the economy)
After 1980 – banks lending into the wrong places that don't result in GDP growth (real estate and financial speculation)
What happened in 1979?
The UK eliminated corset controls on banking in 1979 and the banks invaded the mortgage market and this is where the problem starts.

Real estate does make the economy boom, but there is no real wealth creation in inflating asset prices.
What is really happening?
When you use bank credit to inflate asset prices, the debt rises much faster than GDP.
https://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/forum/uploads/monthly_2018_02/Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-13_53_09.png.e32e8fee4ffd68b566ed5235dc1266c2.png
The bank credit of mortgages is bringing future spending power into today.
Bank loans create money and the repayment of debt to banks destroys money.
https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-bulletin/2014/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy.pdf
In the real estate boom, new money pours into the economy from mortgage lending, fuelling a boom in the real economy, which feeds back into the real estate boom.
The Japanese real estate boom of the 1980s was so excessive the people even commented on the "excess money", and everyone enjoyed spending that excess money in the economy.
In the real estate bust, debt repayments to banks destroy money and push the economy towards debt deflation (a shrinking money supply).
Japan has been like this for thirty years as they pay back the debts from their 1980s excesses, it's called a balance sheet recession.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YTyJzmiHGk
Bank loans effectively take future spending and bring it in today.
Jam today, penury tomorrow.
Using future spending power to inflate asset prices today is a mistake that comes from thinking inflating asset prices creates real wealth.
GDP measures real wealth creation.

Sound of the Suburbs , November 2, 2019 at 5:37 am

Did you know capitalism works best with low housing costs and a low cost of living? Probably not, you are in the parallel universe of neoliberalism.

William White (BIS, OECD) talks about how economics really changed over one hundred years ago as classical economics was replaced by neoclassical economics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6iXBQ33pBo&t=2485s

He thinks we have been on the wrong path for one hundred years.

Some very important things got lost 100 years ago.

Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)

"Wait a minute, employees get their money from wages and businesses have to cover high housing costs in wages reducing profit" the CBI

It's all about the economy, and UK businesses will benefit from low housing costs. High housing costs push up wages and reduce profits. Off-shore to make more profit, you can pay lower wages where the cost of living is lower, e.g. China; the US and UK are rubbish.

Sound of the Suburbs , November 2, 2019 at 8:11 am

What was Keynes really doing? Creating a low cost, internationally competitive economy. Keynes's ideas were a solution to the problems of the Great Depression, but we forgot why he did, what he did.

They tried running an economy on debt in the 1920s. The 1920s roared with debt based consumption and speculation until it all tipped over into the debt deflation of the Great Depression. No one realised the problems that were building up in the economy as they used an economics that doesn't look at private debt, neoclassical economics.

Keynes looked at the problems of the debt based economy and came up with redistribution through taxation to keep the system running in a sustainable way and he dealt with the inherent inequality capitalism produced.

The cost of living = housing costs + healthcare costs + student loan costs + food + other costs of living

Disposable income = wages - (taxes + the cost of living)

High progressive taxation funded a low cost economy with subsidised housing, healthcare, education and other services to give more disposable income on lower wages.

Employers and employees both win with a low cost of living.

Keynesian ideas went wrong in the 1970s and everyone had forgotten the problems of neoclassical economics that he originally solved.

Sound of the Suburbs , November 2, 2019 at 8:44 am

Economics, the time line:

We thought small state, unregulated capitalism was something that it wasn't as our ideas came from neoclassical economics, which has little connection with classical economics.

On bringing it back again, we had lost everything that had been learned in the 1930s, by which time it had already demonstrated its flaws.

Kristin Lee , November 2, 2019 at 5:54 am

Ultimately, neoliberalism is about privatization and ownership of everything. This is why it's so important to preserve the Common Good, the vital resources and services that support earthly existence. The past 40 years has shown what happens when this falls out of balance. Our value system turns upside down – the sick become more valuable than the healthy, a violent society provides for the prisons-for-profit system and so on. The biggest upset has been the privatization of money creation.

This latest secret bank bailout (not really secret as Dodd-Frank has allowed banks to siphon newly created money from the Fed without Congressional approval. No more public embarrassment that Hank Paulson had to endure.) They are now up to $690 billion PER WEEK while the media snoozes. PPPs enjoy the benefits of public money to seed projects for private gain. The rest of us have to rely on predatory lenders, sinking us to the point of Peak Debt, where private debt can never be paid off and must be cancelled, as it should be because it never should've happened in the first place.

"Neoliberalism, which has influenced so much of the conventional thinking about money, is adamant that the public sector must not create ('print') money, and so public expenditure must be limited to what the market can 'afford.' Money, in this view, is a limited resource that the market ensures will be used efficiently. Is public money, then, a pipe dream? No, for the financial crisis and the response to it undermined this neoliberal dogma.

The financial sector mismanaged its role as a source of money so badly that the state had to step in and provide unlimited monetary backing to rescue it. The creation of money out of thin air by public authorities revealed the inherently political nature of money. But why, then, was the power to create money ceded to the private sector in the first place -- and with so little public accountability? And if money can be created to serve the banks, why not to benefit people and the environment? "

Paul Hirshman , November 2, 2019 at 3:33 pm

The Commons should have a shot at revival as the upcoming generation's desires are outstripped by their incomes and savings. The conflict between desires and reality may give a boost to alternate notions of what's desirable. Add to this the submersion of cities under the waves of our expanding oceans, and one gets yet another concrete reason to think that individual ownership isn't up to the job of inspiring young people.

A Commons of some sort will be needed to undo the cost of generations of unpaid negative externalities. Fossil fuels, constant warfare, income inequality, stupendous idiocy of kleptocratic government these baked in qualities of neo-liberalism are creating a very large, dissatisfied, and educated population just about anywhere one looks. Suburbia will be on fire, as well as underwater. Farmlands will be parched, drenched, and exhausted. Where will Larry Summers dump the garbage?

[Nov 21, 2019] How Neoliberal Thinkers Spawned Monsters They Never Imagined

Highly recommended!
Nov 21, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on November 20, 2019 by Yves Smith By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

Political theorist Wendy Brown's latest book, In the Ruins of Neoliberalism: The Rise of Antidemocratic Politics in the West , traces the intellectual roots of neoliberalism and reveals how an anti-democratic project unleashed monsters – from plutocrats to neo-fascists – that its mid-20 th century visionaries failed to anticipate. She joins the Institute for New Economic Thinking to discuss how the flawed blueprint for markets and the less-discussed focus on morality gave rise to threats to democracy and society that are distinct from what has come before.

Lynn Parramore: To many people, neoliberalism is about economic agendas. But your book explores what you describe as the moral aspect of the neoliberal project. Why is this significant?

Wendy Brown: Most critical engagement with neoliberalism focuses on economic policy deregulation, privatization, regressive taxation, union busting and the extreme inequality and instability these generate. However, there is another aspect to neoliberalism, apparent both in its intellectual foundations and its actual roll-out, that mirrors these moves in the sphere of traditional morality. All the early schools of neoliberalism (Chicago, Austrian, Freiburg, Virginia) affirmed markets and the importance of states supporting without intervening in them.

But they also all affirmed the importance of traditional morality (centered in the patriarchal family and private property) and the importance of states supporting without intervening in it. They all supported expanding its reach from the private into the civic sphere and rolling back social justice previsions that conflict with it. Neoliberalism thus aims to de-regulate the social sphere in a way that parallels the de-regulation of markets.

Concretely this means challenging, in the name of freedom, not only regulatory and redistributive economic policy but policies aimed at gender, sexual and racial equality. It means legitimating assertions of personal freedom against equality mandates (and when corporations are identified as persons, they too are empowered to assert such freedom). Because neoliberalism has everywhere carried this moral project in addition to its economic one, and because it has everywhere opposed freedom to state imposed social justice or social protection of the vulnerable, the meaning of liberalism has been fundamentally altered in the past four decades.

That's how it is possible to be simultaneously libertarian, ethnonationalist and patriarchal today: The right's contemporary attack on "social justice warriors" is straight out of Hayek.

LP: You discuss economist and philosopher Friedrich von Hayek at length in your book. How would you distribute responsibility to him compared to other champions of conservative formulations for how neoliberalism has played out? What were his blind spots, which seem evidenced today in the rise of right-wing forces and angry populations around the world?

WB: Margaret Thatcher thumped Hayek's The Constitution of Liberty and declared it the bible of her project. She studied it, believed it, and sought to realize it. Reagan imbibed a lot of Thatcherism. Both aimed to implement the Hayekian view of markets, morals and undemocratic statism. Both accepted his demonization of society (Thatcher famously quotes him, "there's no such thing") and his view that state policies aimed at the good for society are already on the road to totalitarianism. Both affirmed traditional morality in combination with deregulated markets and attacks on organized labor.

I am not arguing that Hayek is the dominant influence for all times and places of neoliberalization over the past four decades -- obviously the Chicago Boys [Chilean economists of the '70s and '80s trained at the University of Chicago] were key in Latin America while Ordoliberalism [a German approach to liberalism] has been a major influence in the European Union's management of the post-2008 crises. "Progressive neoliberals" and neoliberalized institutions hauled the project in their own direction. But Hayek's influence is critical to governing rationality of neoliberalism in the North and he also happens to be a rich and complex thinker with a fairly comprehensive worldview, one comprising law, family, morality, state, economy, liberty, equality, democracy and more.

The limitations? Hayek really believed that markets and traditional morality were both spontaneous orders of action and cooperation, while political life would always overreach and thus required tight constraints to prevent its interventions in morality or markets. It also needed to be insulated from instrumentalism by concentrated economic interests, from aspiring plutocrats to the masses. The solution, for him, was de-democratizing the state itself. He was, more generally, opposed to robust democracy and indeed to a democratic state. A thriving order in his understanding would feature substantial hierarchy and inequality, and it could tolerate authoritarian uses of political power if they respected liberalism, free markets and individual freedom.

We face an ugly, bowdlerized version of this today on the right. It is not exactly what Hayek had in mind, and he would have loathed the plutocrats, demagogues and neo-fascist masses, but his fingerprints are on it.

LP: You argue that there is now arising something distinct from past forms of fascism, authoritarianism, plutocracy, and conservatism. We see things like images of Italian right groups giving Fascist salutes that have been widely published. Is that merely atavism? What is different?

WB: Of course, the hard right traffics in prior fascist and ultra-racist iconography, including Nazism and the Klan. However, the distinctiveness of the present is better read from the quotidian right than the alt-right.

We need to understand why reaction to the neoliberal economic sinking of the middle and working class has taken such a profoundly anti-democratic form. Why so much rage against democracy and in favor of authoritarian statism while continuing to demand individual freedom? What is the unique blend of ethno-nationalism and libertarianism afoot today? Why the resentment of social welfare policy but not the plutocrats? Why the uproar over [American football player and political activist] Colin Kaepernick but not the Panama Papers [a massive document leak pointing to fraud and tax evasion among the wealthy]? Why don't bankrupt workers want national healthcare or controls on the pharmaceutical industry? Why are those sickened from industrial effluent in their water and soil supporting a regime that wants to roll back environmental and health regulations?

Answers to these questions are mostly found within the frame of neoliberal reason, though they also pertain to racialized rancor (fanned by opportunistic demagogues and our mess of an unaccountable media), the dethronement of white masculinity from absolute rather than relative entitlement, and an intensification of nihilism itself amplified by neoliberal economization.

These contributing factors do not run along separate tracks. Rather, neoliberalism's aim to displace democracy with markets, morals and liberal authoritarian statism legitimates a white masculinist backlash against equality and inclusion mandates. Privatization of the nation legitimates "nativist" exclusions. Individual freedom in a world of winners and losers assaults the place of equality, access and inclusion in understandings of justice.

LP: Despite your view of democratized capitalism as an "oxymoron," you also observe that capitalism can be modulated in order to promote equality among citizens. How is this feasible given the influence of money in politics? What can we do to mitigate the corruption of wealth?

WB: Citizens United certainly set back the project of achieving the political equality required by and for democracy. I wrote about this in a previous book, Undoing the Demos , and Timothy Kuhner offers a superb account of the significance of wealth in politics in Capitalism V. Democracy: Money in Politics and the Free Market Constitution . Both of us argue that the Citizens United decision, and the several important campaign finance and campaign speech decisions that preceded it, are themselves the result of a neoliberalized jurisprudence. That is, corporate dominance of elections becomes possible when political life as a whole is cast as a marketplace rather than a distinctive sphere in which humans attempt to set the values and possibilities of common life. Identifying elections as political marketplaces is at the heart of Citizens United.

So does a future for democracy in the United States depend on overturning that decision?

Hardly. Democracy is a practice, an ideal, an imaginary, a struggle, not an achieved state. It is always incomplete, or better, always aspirational. There is plenty of that aspiration afoot these days -- in social movements and in statehouses big and small. This doesn't make the future of democracy rosy. It is challenged from a dozen directions divestment from public higher education, the trashing of truth and facticity, the unaccountability of media platforms, both corporate and social, external influence and trolling, active voter suppression and gerrymandering, and the neoliberal assault on the very value of democracy we've been discussing. So the winds are hardly at democracy's back.


Bruce Bartlett , November 20, 2019 at 10:05 am

I think Milton Friedman was vastly more important than Hayek is shaping the worldview of American conservatives on economic policy. Until Hayek won the Nobel he was virtually forgotten in the US. Don't know about the UK, but his leaving the London School of Economics undoubtedly reduced his influence there. Hayek was very isolated at the University of Chicago even from the libertarians at the Department of Economics, largely due to methodological issues. The Chicago economists thought was really more of as philosopher, not a real economist like them.

Grebo , November 20, 2019 at 3:39 pm

Friedman was working for Hayek, in the sense that Hayek instigated the program that Friedman fronted.

I was amused by a BBC radio piece a couple of years ago in which some City economist was trying to convince us that Hayek was a forgotten genius who we ought to dig up and worship, as if he doesn't already rule the World from his seat at God's right hand.

rd , November 20, 2019 at 10:34 am

A couple of thoughts:

Citizens United: The conservative originalists keep whining about activist judges making up rights, like the "right to privacy" in Roe v. Wade. Yet they were able to come up with Citizens United that gave a whole new class of rights to corporations to effectively give them the rights of individuals (the People that show up regularly in the Constitution, including the opening phrase). If you search the Constitution, "company", "corporation" etc. don't even show up as included in the Constitution. "Commerce" shows up a couple of times, specifically as something regulated by Congress. Citizens United effectively flips the script of the Constitution in giving the companies doing Commerce the ability to regulate Congress. I think Citizen's United is the least conservative ruling that the conservative court could have come up with, bordering on fascism instead of the principles clearly enunciated throughout the Constitution. It is likely to be the "Dred Scott" decision of the 21st century.

2. Neo-liberalism is like Marxism and a bunch of other isms, where the principles look fine on paper until you apply them to real-world people and societies. This is the difference between Thaler's "econs" vs "humans". It works in theory, but not in practice because people are not purely rational and the behavioral aspects of the people and societies throw things out of kilter very quickly. That is a primary purpose of regulation, to be a rational fly-wheel keeping things from spinning out of control to the right or left. Marxism quickly turned into Stalinism in Russia while Friedman quickly turned into massive inequality and Donald Trump in the US. The word "regulate" shows up more frequently in the Constitution than "commerce", or "freedom" (only shows up in First Amendment), or "liberty" (deprivation of liberty has to follow due process of law which is a form of regulation). So the Constitution never conceived of a self-regulating society in the way Hayek and Friedman think things should naturally work – writing court rulings on the neo-liberal approach is a radical activist departure from the Constitution.

voteforno6 , November 20, 2019 at 11:50 am

The foundation was laid for Citizens United long before, I think, when the Supreme Court decided that corporations were essentially people, and that money was essentially speech. It would be nice if some justice started hacking away at those erroneous decisions (along with what they did with the 2nd Amendment in D.C. v Heller .)

BlakeFelix , November 20, 2019 at 12:46 pm

I honestly think the corporations are people was good and the money is speech is terrible. If most of the big corporations were actually treated like people those people would be in jail. They are treated better than people are now. Poor people, anyway. When your corporation is too big not to commit crimes, it's too big and should go in time out at least.

LifelongLib , November 20, 2019 at 1:37 pm

My understanding is that corporate personhood arose as a convenience to allow a corporation to be named as a single entity in legal actions, rather than having to name every last stockholder, officer, employee etc. Unfortunately the concept was gradually expanded far past its usefulness for the rest of us.

Massinissa , November 20, 2019 at 2:36 pm

"If most of the big corporations were actually treated like people those people would be in jail."

Thats part of the problem: Corporations CANNOT be put in jail because they are organizations, not people, but they are given the same 'rights' as people. That is fundamentally part of the problem.

inode_buddha , November 20, 2019 at 4:16 pm

True, but corporations are directed by people who *can* be jailed. Often they are compensated as if they were taking full liability when in fact they face none. I think its long past time to revisit the concept of limited liability.

Allegorio , November 20, 2019 at 9:50 pm

"Limited Liability" is basic to the concept of the corporation. How about some "limited liability" for individuals? The whole point of neo-liberalism is "lawlessness" or the "Law of the Jungle" in unfettered markets. The idea is to rationalize raw power, both over society and the family, the last stand of male dominance, the patriarchy. The women who succeed in this eco-system, eschew the nurturing feminine and espouse the predatory masculine. "We came, we saw, he died." Psychopaths all!

Ford Prefect , November 20, 2019 at 8:11 pm

The executives need to go to jail. Until then, corporate fines are just a cost of doing business and white collar lawbreaking will continue. Blowing up the world's financial system has less legal consequence than doing 80 in a 65 mph zone. Even if they just did civil asset forfeiture on executives based on them having likely committed a crime while in their house and using their money would go along ways to cleaning things up.

The whittling away of white collar crime by need to demonstrate intent beyond reasonable doubt means the executives can just plead incompetence or inattention (while collecting their $20 million after acquittal). Meanwhile, a poor person with a baggie of marijuana in the trunk of their car goes to jail for "possession" where intent does not need to be shown, mere presence of the substance. If they used the same standard of the mere presence of a fraud to be sufficient to jail white collar criminals, there wouldn't be room in the prisons for poor people picked up for little baggies of weed.

Procopius , November 21, 2019 at 8:49 am

Actually, if you research the history, the court DID NOT decide that corporations are people. The decision was made by the secretary to the court, who included the ruling in the headnote to Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, 1886. The concept was not considered in the case itself nor in the ruling the judges made. However, it was so convenient for making money that judges and even at least one justice on the supreme court publicized the ruling as if it were an actual legal precedent and have followed it ever since. I am not a lawyer, but I think that ruling could be changed by a statute, whereas Citizens United is going to require an amendment to the constitution. On the other hand, who knows? Maybe the five old, rich, Republican, Catholic Men will rule that it is embedded in the constitution after all. I think it would be worth a try.

Patrick Thornton , November 21, 2019 at 9:11 am

Santa Clara Count v Southern Pacific RR 1886 – SCOTUS Court Reporter Bancroft Davis, a former RR executive, claimed in his headnote summary of the case that the Court had ruled that corporations are entitled to 14th Amendment protections (thus preventing their regulation by an individual state) thus establishing the legal precedent that corporations are "persons" with speech rights. In fact, the Court never made that determination. The result is a legal precedent established by a bit of legal trickery. Buckley v Valeo 1976: giving money to a political campaign=speech. Citizens 2010: no limit on "speech" (money). The 14 amendment was established to protect former slaves and was used by the court instead to protect corporations (property).

New Wafer Army , November 20, 2019 at 2:17 pm

"Neo-liberalism is like Marxism and a bunch of other isms, where the principles look fine on paper until you apply them to real-world people and societies."

Marx analysed 19th Century capitalism; he wrote very little on what type of system should succeed capitalism. This is in distinct contrast to neo-liberalism which had a well plotted path to follow (Mirowski covers this very well). Marxism did not turn into Stalinism; Tsarism turned into Leninism which turned into Stalinism. Marx had an awful lot less to do with it than Tsar Nicholas II.

GramSci , November 20, 2019 at 5:17 pm

+1000. I think it was Tsar Nicholas II who said, L'etat, c'est moi"./s; Lenin just appropriated this concept to implement his idea of "the dictatorship of the proletariat."

JBird4049 , November 20, 2019 at 11:10 pm

IIRC Lenin did warn about Stalin.

J7915 , November 20, 2019 at 11:25 pm

Louis 4 of France is the state, and the state was him.
Lenin is better known, IIRC for identifying capitalists as useful idiots.

Massinissa , November 20, 2019 at 2:33 pm

"Neo-liberalism is like Marxism and a bunch of other isms, where the principles look fine on paper until you apply them to real-world people and societies."

I'm sorry, but this is fundamentally intellectually lazy. Marxism isn't so much a way to structure the world, like Neoliberalism is, but a method of understanding Capitalism and class relations to capitalism.

Edit: I wrote this before I saw New Wafer Army's post since I hadnt refreshed the page since I opened it. They said pretty much what I wanted to say, so kudos to them.

salvo , November 20, 2019 at 2:51 pm

yep, Marx would never have called himself a Marxist :-)

"Marxism" is just a set of analytic tools to describe the capitalist society and power relations

those who consciously call themselves "Marxist" do it clarify their adherence to those tools not to express an ideological position

Anthony K Wikrent , November 20, 2019 at 10:41 am

These critiques of neoliberalism are always welcome, but they inevitably leave me with irritated and dissatisfied with their failure or unwillingness to mention the political philosophy of republicanism as an alternative, or even a contrast.

The key is found in Brown's statement " It also needed to be insulated from instrumentalism by concentrated economic interests, from aspiring plutocrats to the masses. The solution, for him [von Hayek], was de-democratizing the state itself. He was, more generally, opposed to robust democracy and indeed to a democratic state."

Contrast this to Federalist Paper No. 10, Madison's famous discourse on factions. Madison writes that 1) factions always arise from economic interests ["But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property."], and 2) therefore the most important function of government is to REGULATE the clash of these factions ["The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government."

In a very real sense, neoliberalism is an assault on the founding principles of the American republic.

Which should not really surprise anyone, since von Hayek was trained as a functionary of the Austro-Hungarian empire. And who was the first secretary of the Mont Pelerin Society that von Hayen founded to promote neoliberalist doctrine and propaganda? Non other than Max Thurn, of the reactionary Bavarian Thurn und Taxis royal family.

deplorado , November 20, 2019 at 4:02 pm

Thank you for illuminating a deeper viewpoint.

WJ , November 20, 2019 at 9:57 pm

Madison's Federalist 10 is much like Aristotle's Politics and the better Roman historians in correctly tracing back the fundamental tensions in any political community to questions of property and class.

And, much like Aristotle's "mixed regime," Madison proposes that the best way of overcoming these tensions is to institutionalize organs of government broadly representative of the two basic contesting political classes–democratic and oligarchic–and let them hash things out in a way that both are forced to deal with the other. This is a simplification but not a terribly inaccurate one.

The problem though so far as I can tell is that it almost always happens that the arrangement is set up in a way that structurally privileges existing property rights (oligarchy) over social freedoms (democracy) such that the oligarchic class quickly comes to dominate even those governmental organs designed to be "democratic". In other words, I have never seen a theorized republic that upon closer inspection was not an oligarchy in practice.

notabanktoadie , November 20, 2019 at 11:15 am

The Progressive Approach in a nutshell:

1) Support welfare for the banks (e.g. deposit guarantees) and the rich (e.g. non-negative yields and interest on the inherently risk-free debt of monetary sovereigns).
2) Seek to regulate the thievery inherent in 1).
3) Bemoan the inevitable rat-race to the bottom when 2) inevitably fails because of unenforceable laws, such as bans on insider trading, red-lining, etc.

Shorter: Progressives ENABLE the injustice they profess, no doubt sincerely at least in some cases, to oppose.

Rather stupid from an engineering perspective, I'd say. Or more kindly, blind.

LifelongLib , November 20, 2019 at 1:55 pm

"welfare banks deposit guarantees"

Don't know about you, but I like being protected from losing all my money if the bank goes under

Arizona Slim , November 20, 2019 at 2:01 pm

Yeah, me too!

notabanktoadie , November 20, 2019 at 2:17 pm

I lived in Tucson for a while. Met the love of my life there.

Show some loyalty, gal!

flora , November 20, 2019 at 3:33 pm

+1

notabanktoadie , November 20, 2019 at 2:11 pm

Accounts at the Central Bank are inherently risk-free.

So why may only depository institutions have those?

Hmmm? Violation of equal protection under the law much?

Or would the TRS-80 at the Fed be overloaded otherwise?

LifelongLib , November 20, 2019 at 2:36 pm

I'm fine with the federal government providing basic banking services (which would inherently protect depositors) but your initial post didn't say anything about that. If we continue with a private banking system I want deposit guarantees even if they somehow privilege the banks better than nothing

notabanktoadie , November 20, 2019 at 2:53 pm

My apologies for not detailing everything in every comment. :)

Welcome aboard or rather hello brother!

Lambert Strether , November 20, 2019 at 3:02 pm

> your initial post

No biggie, but this is not a board. It's a blog. Here, you are referring to a comment , not the original post authored by Lynn Parramore.

LifelongLib , November 20, 2019 at 3:11 pm

Point taken!

Procopius , November 21, 2019 at 8:59 am

I have read that originally conservatives (including many bankers) opposed deposit insurance because it would lead people to be less careful when they evaluated the banking institution they would entrust with their money. They did not seem to notice that however much diligence depositors used, they ended up losing their life's savings over and over. Just as they do not seem to notice that despite having employer-provided insurance tens of thousands of people every year go bankrupt because of medical bills. Funny how that works.

Massinissa , November 20, 2019 at 2:38 pm

I don't understand how this is linked to progressives when most of what you describe is the neoliberal approach to banks. Could you explain?

notabanktoadie , November 20, 2019 at 3:03 pm

See Warren Mosler's Proposals for the Banking System, Treasury, Fed, and FDIC (draft)

Also, government insurance of private liabilities, including privately created liabilities, was instituted under FDR in 1932, iirc.

And I've had innumerable debates with MMT advocates who have stubbornly defended deposit guarantees and other privileges for the banks.

notabanktoadie , November 20, 2019 at 3:25 pm

Adding that rather than deposit guarantees, the US government could have expanded the Postal Savings Service to provide the population with what private banks had so miserably failed to provide – the safe storage of their fiat.

JBirc4049 , November 20, 2019 at 11:28 pm

The banking system was failing in 1932, as was the financial system in 2008, not necessarily because of any lack of solvency of an individual business although some were, but because of the lack of faith in the whole system; bank panics meant that every depositor was trying to get their money out at the same time. People lost everything. It is only the faith in the system that enables the use of bits of paper and plastic to work. So having a guarantee in big, bold letters of people's savings is a good idea.

Synoia , November 20, 2019 at 11:37 am

Personally, I see little distance between the Neo Liberal treatment of Market and Naked Greed, coupled with a complete rejection of Rule of Law for the Common Good.

Carla , November 20, 2019 at 11:47 am

I'm disappointed (but not surprised) that

A. Wendy Brown focuses on big money in politics as the biggest threat to democracy without mentioning never-intended corporate constitutional rights.

B. Lynn Parramore does not call her on it.

What a huge missed opportunity. What a fatal blind spot.

https://movetoamend.org/sites/default/files/how_corporate_constitutional_rights_harm_you_your_family_your_community_your_environment_and_your_democracy.pdf

jsn , November 20, 2019 at 1:13 pm

" It means legitimating assertions of personal freedom against equality mandates (and when corporations are identified as persons, they too are empowered to assert such freedom)."

I'm not seeing the blind spot.

Carla , November 20, 2019 at 3:56 pm

The blind spot is her focus on "money as speech" to the exclusion of the constitutional nightmares created by "corporations are people."

To see why this is such an important (and common) error, please see the link I provided.

jsn , November 20, 2019 at 8:04 pm

She didn't write the article you wanted, but specifically addresses "corporations as people." That doesn't make her blind to your concern.

I share your concern, but don't criticize m I my allies for having marginally different priorities.

But that's just me.

David , November 20, 2019 at 12:22 pm

"We need to understand why reaction to the neoliberal economic sinking of the middle and working class has taken such a profoundly anti-democratic form." Really? Does anybody here believe that? This reads like another clumsy attempt to dismiss actual popular anger against neoliberalism in favour of pearl-clutching progressive angst, by associating this anger with the latest target for liberal hate, in this case blah blah patriarchy blah blah. The reality is that liberalism has always been about promoting the freedom of the rich and the strong to do whatever they feel like, whilst keeping the ordinary people divided and under control. That's why Liberals have always hated socialists, who think of the good of the community rather than of the "freedom" of the rich, powerful and well connected.
The "democracy" that is being defended here is traditional elite liberal democracy, full of abstract "rights" that only the powerful can exert, dominated by elite political parties with little to choose between them, and indifferent or hostile to actual freedoms that ordinary people want in their daily lives. Neoliberalism is simply a label for its economic views (that haven't changed much over the centuries) whereas social justice is the label for its social wing (ditto).
I think of this every time I wall home through the local high street, where within thirty metres I pass two elderly eastern European men aggressively begging. (It varies in France, but this is slightly closer than the average for a city). I reflect that twenty years of neoliberal policies in France have given these people freedom of movement, and the freedom to sit there in the rain with no home, no job and no prospects. Oh, and now of course they are free to marry each other.

Tangfwa , November 20, 2019 at 12:39 pm

Bingo

Jeremy Grimm , November 20, 2019 at 1:14 pm

I agree with your analysis and assessment of Wendy Brown, as she is portrayed in her statements in this post. However I quibble your assertion: "Neoliberalism is simply a label for its economic views (that haven't changed much over the centuries) whereas social justice is the label for its social wing (ditto)." The word "Neoliberalism" is indeed commonly used as a label as you assert but Neoliberalism as a philosophy is obscured in that common usage.

At its heart I believe Neoliberalism might best be characterized as an epistemology based on the Market operating as the all knowing arbiter of Truth. Hayek exercises notions of 'freedom' in his writing but I believe freedom is a secondary concern once it is defined in terms of its relation to the decisions of the Market. This notion of the Market as epistemology is completely absent from Wendy Brown's discussion of her work in this post.

Her assertion that "neoliberalism's aim [is] to displace democracy with markets, morals and liberal authoritarian statism legitimates a white masculinist backlash against equality and inclusion mandates" collapses once the Market is introduced as epistemology. Neoliberalism does not care one way or another about any of Wendy Brown's concerns. Once the Market decides -- Truth is known. As a political theorist I am surprised there is no analysis of Neoliberalism as a tool the Elite have used to work their will on society. I am surprised there is no analysis of how the Elites have allowed themselves to be controlled within and even displaced by the Corporate Entities they created and empowered using their tool. I am surprised there is no analysis of the way the Corporate Entities and their Elite have worked to use Neoliberalism to subordinate nation states under a hierarchy driven by the decisions of the World Market.

[I admit I lack the stomach to read Hayek -- so I am basing my opinions on what I understand of Phillip Mirowski's analysis of Neoliberalism.]

David , November 20, 2019 at 5:06 pm

I don't disagree with you: I suppose that having been involved in practical politics rather than being a political theorist (which I have no pretensions to being) I am more interested of the reality of some of these ideas than their theoretical underpinnings. I have managed to slog my way through Slobodian's book, and I think your presentation of Hayek's writing is quite fair: I simply wonder how far it is actually at the origin of the destruction we see around us. I would suggest in fact that, once you have a political philosophy based on the value-maximising individual, rather than traditional considerations of the good of society as a whole, you eventually wind up where we are now, once the constraints of religious belief, fear of popular uprisings , fear of Communism etc. have been progressively removed. It's for that reason that I argue that neoliberalism isn't really new: it represents the essential form of liberalism unconstrained by outside forces – almost a teleological phenomenon which, as its first critics feared, has wound up destroying community, family, industries, social bonds and even – as you suggest – entire nation states.

Jeremy Grimm , November 21, 2019 at 9:10 am

Your response to my comment, in particular your assertion "neoliberalism isn't really new" coupled with your assertion apparently equating Neoliberalism with just another general purpose label for a "political philosophy based on the value-maximizing individual, rather than traditional ", is troubling. When I put your assertions with Jerry B's assertion at 6:58 pm:
" many people over focus on a word or the use of a word and ascribe way to literal view of a word. I tend to view words more symbolically and contextually."
I am left wondering what is left to debate or discuss. If Neoliberalism has no particular meaning then perhaps we should discuss the properties of political philosophies based on the value-maximizing-individual, and even that construct only has meaning symbolically and contextually, which is somehow different than the usual notion of meaning as a denotation coupled with a connotation which is shared by those using a term in their discussion -- and there I become lost from the discussion. I suppose I am too pedantic to deviate from the common usages of words, especially technical words like Neoliberalism.

GramSci , November 20, 2019 at 5:37 pm

Yes, but what is "The Market" but yet another name for "God, Almighty"?
Plus ça change

Massinissa , November 20, 2019 at 5:46 pm

Considering how elites throughout history have used religion as a bulwark to guard their privileges, it should be of no surprise that they are building a new one, only this time they are building one that appeals to the religious and secular alike. Neoliberalism will be very difficult to dismantle.

Susan the Other , November 21, 2019 at 10:23 am

But what ironies we create. Citizens United effectively gave political control to the big corporations. In a time when society has already evolved lots of legislation to limit the power and control of any group and especially in commercial/monopoly cases. So that what CU created was a new kind of "means of production" because what gets "produced" these days is at least 75% imported. The means of production is coming to indicate the means of political control. And that is fitting because ordinary people have become the commodity. Like livestock. So in that sense Marx's view of power relationships is accurate although civilization has morphed. Politics is, more and more, the means of production. The means of finance. Just another reason why we would achieve nothing in this world trying to take over the factories. What society must have now is fiscal control. It will be the new means of production. I'm a dummy. I knew fiscal control was the most important thing, but I didn't quite see the twists and turns that keep the fundamental idea right where it started.

PlutoniumKun , November 20, 2019 at 1:31 pm

Exactly. The writer seems determined to tie in neoliberalism with a broader conservative opposition to modern social justice movements, when in reality neoliberalism (the 'neo' part anyway) was more than happy to co-opt feminism, anti-racism, etc., into its narrative. The more the merrier, as 'rights' became associated entirely with social issues, and not economic rights.

Chip Otle , November 20, 2019 at 4:27 pm

This is the best comment of this thread so far.

NancyBoyd , November 21, 2019 at 1:48 pm

The co-optation neoliberalism has exacted on rights movements has dovetailed nicely with postmodernism's social-constructivism, an anti-materialist stance that posits discourse as shaping the world and one that therefore privileges subjectivity over material reality.

What this means in practice is that "identity" is now a marketplace too, in which individuals are naming their identities as a form of personal corporate branding. That's why we have people labeling themselves like this: demisexual queer femme, on the spectrum, saying hell no to my tradcath roots, into light BDSM, pronouns they/them.

And to prove this identity, the person must purchase various consumer products to garb and decorate themselves accordingly.

So the idea of civil rights has now become utterly consumerist and about awarding those rights based on subjective feelings rather than anything to do with actual material exploitation.

The clue is in the way the words "oppression" and "privilege" are used. Under those words, exploitation, discrimination, disadvantage, and simple dislike are conflated, though they're very different and involve very different remedies.

In this way, politics is drained of politics.

Carey , November 20, 2019 at 1:38 pm

+100 Thank you.

Joe Well , November 20, 2019 at 1:48 pm

The law in its majestic equality forbids the rich as well as the poor from sleeping under bridges and stealing bread = classical Liberalism.

The bizarre thing is to meet younger neoliberal middle class people whom neoliberalism has priced out of major cities, who have hardly any real savings, and who still are on board with the project. The dream dies hard.

Jerry B , November 20, 2019 at 4:21 pm

David – I enjoy reading your comments on NC as they are well reasoned and develop an argument or counter argument. The above comment reads more like a rant. I do not disagree with most of your comment. From my experience with Wendy Brown's writing your statement below is not off base.:

This reads like another clumsy attempt to dismiss actual popular anger against neoliberalism in favour of pearl-clutching progressive angst, by associating this anger with the latest target for liberal hate, in this case blah blah patriarchy blah blah

However, in reading Wendy Brown's comments I did not have the same emotional reaction that comes across in your comment. I have read the post twice to make sure I understand the points Wendy Brown is trying to make and IMO she is "not wrong" either. . I would advise you to not "throw out the baby with the bathwater".

As KLG mentions below, WB is a very successful academic at Berkeley who worked with Sheldon Wolin as a graduate student IIRC (Sheldon Wolin wrote a terrific book entitled Democracy Incorporated), so she is not just some random journalist.

Much of WB's writing has gender themes in it and there are times I think she goes over the top, BUT, IMO there is also some truth to what she is saying. Much of the political power and economic power in the US and the world is held by men so that may be where WB's reference to patriarchy comes in.

How could there be patriarchy with men begging in the streets is a valid point. And that is where I divert with WB, in that the term patriarchy paints with too broad a brush. But speaking specifically to neo-liberalism and not liberalism as you refer to it, that is where WB's reference to patriarchy may have some merit. Yes, there are many exceptions to the neoliberalism and patriarchy connection such as Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, etc., so again maybe painting with too broad a brush, but it would be wise not to give some value.

The sociologist Raewyn Connell has written about the connection between neoliberalism and version of a certain type of masculinity embedded with neoliberalism. Like Wendy Brown, Connell seems to gloss over the examples of Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, and the class based elite bourgeois feminism as counterpoints to neoliberal patriarchy. There are exceptions to every rule.
Women have made enormous strides in politics and the boardroom. But in the halls of political and economic power the majority of the power is still held by men, and until women become close to 50% or more of the seats of power, to ignore the influence of patriarchy/oligarch version of masculinity(or whatever term a person is comfortable with) on neoliberalism would be foolish.

Neoliberalism is simply a label for its economic views (that haven't changed much over the centuries) whereas social justice is the label for its social wing (ditto).

I disagree. IMO, neoliberalism is a different animal than the "traditional elite liberal democracy", and neoliberalism is much darker and as WB mentions "Neoliberalism thus aims to de-regulate the social sphere in a way that parallels the de-regulation of markets".

If you have not I would highly recommend reading Sheldon Wolin's Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism It is an excellent book.

David , November 20, 2019 at 5:23 pm

I haven't read that book by Wolin, though his Politics and Vision is in the bookcase next to me. I'll try to get hold of it. I didn't know she was his student either.
I think the issues she raises about gender are a different question from neoliberalism itself, and that it's not helpful to believe that you can fight neoliberalism by "legitimating assertions of personal freedom against equality mandates" whatever that means. Likewise, it's misleading to suggest that "Privatization of the nation legitimates "nativist" exclusions", since the actual result is the opposite, as you will realise when you see that London buses have the same logo as the ones in Paris, and electricity in the UK is often supplied by a French company, EDF. Indeed, to the extent that there is a connection with "nativism" it is that privatisation has enabled an international network of distant and unaccountable private companies to take away management of national resources and assets from the people. Likewise, neoliberalism is entirely happy to trample over traditional gender roles in the name of efficiency and increasing the number of workers chasing the same job.
In other words, I was irritated (and sorry if I ranted a bit, I try not to) with what I saw as someone who already knows what the answer is, independent of what the question may be. I suspect her analysis of, say, Brexit, would be very similar. I think that kind of person is potentially dangerous.

Jerry B , November 20, 2019 at 6:58 pm

Thanks David.

==I think the issues she raises about gender are a different question from neoliberalism itself==

Again as I said in my comment I would agree in a theoretical sense that gender and neoliberalism are different issues but again I believe there is a thread of gender, i.e. oligarchic patriarchy, of the type of neoliberalism that WB talks about.

===not helpful to believe that you can fight neoliberalism by "legitimating assertions of personal freedom against equality mandates" whatever that means===

What I think that means is the more libertarian version of neoliberalism. That maybe where our differences lie, in that my sense is WB is talking about a specific form of neoliberalism and your view is broader.

===it's misleading to suggest that "Privatization of the nation legitimates "nativist" exclusions"===

On this I see your disagreement with WB and understand your reference to "that privatisation has enabled an international network of distant and unaccountable private companies to take away management of national resources and assets from the people".

Where I think WB is coming from is the more nationalistic, Anglosphere that the Trump administration is pushing with his border wall, etc. In this WB does expose her far left priors but again there is some value in her points. From her far left view my sense it Wendy Brown is reacting to the sense that Trump wants to turn the US into the US of the 1950's and 60's and on many fronts that ship has sailed.

=== Indeed, to the extent that there is a connection with "nativism" it is that privatisation has enabled an international network of distant and unaccountable private companies to take away management of national resources and assets from the people. Likewise, neoliberalism is entirely happy to trample over traditional gender roles in the name of efficiency and increasing the number of workers chasing the same job. ===

Excellent point and having read some of Wendy Brown's books and paper is a point she would agree with while still seeing some patriarchial themes running through neoliberalism. To your point above I would recommend reading some of Cynthia Enloe's work specifically Bananas, Beaches and Bases.

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia_Enloe#Bananas,_Beaches,_and_Bases

====I think that kind of person is potentially dangerous====

Wow. Dangerous??? Clearly the post has hit a nerve. Many people in our current society are dangerous but IMO Wendy Brown is not one of them. A bit hyperbolic in her focus on gender? Maybe but not wrong. A bit too far left (of the bleeding heart kind)? Maybe. But to call someone who worked for Sheldon Wolin dangerous. C'mon man.

I have gotten into disputes on NC as IMO many people over focus on a word or the use of a word and ascribe way to literal view of a word. I tend to view words more symbolically and contextually. I do not overreact to the use a word and instead try to step back and glean a message or the word in context of what is the person trying to say? So for instance when WB uses the phrase "Privatization of the nation" I am not going to react because my own interpretation is WB is reacting to Trump's nationalism and not to the type of privatization that your example of London shows.

I am disappointed that most of the comments to this post seem to take a critical view of Wendy Brown's comments. Is she a bit too far left and gender focused (identity political) for my tastes? Yes and that somewhat hurts her overall message and the arguments she is trying to discuss which are not unlike her mentor Sheldon Wolin.

Thanks for the reply David. My sense is we have what I call a "positional" debate (i.e. Tastes Great! Less Filling!). And positional debates tend to go nowhere.

Nancy Boyd , November 21, 2019 at 2:22 pm

When WB speaks of gender, note that she then mentions sex, followed by race. By "gender" she is NOT talking about the rights and power of female people under neoliberalism.

She is speaking of the rights of people to claim, that they are the opposite sex and therefore entitled to the rights, set-asides and affirmative discrimination permitted that sex -- for instance, to compete athletically on that sex's sports teams, to be imprisoned if convicted in that sex's prisons, to be considered that sex in instances where sex matters in employment such as a job as a rape counselor or a health care position performing intimate exams where one is entitled to request a same-sex provider, and to apply for scholarships, awards, business loans etc. set aside for that sex.

WB, in addition to being a professor at Berkeley, is also the partner of Judith Butler, whose book "Gender Trouble" essentially launched the postmodern idea that subjective sense of one's sex and how one enacts that is more meaningful than the lived reality people experience in biologically sexed bodies.

By this reasoning, a male weightlifter can become a woman, can declare that he's in fact always been a woman -- and so we arrive at the farce of a male weightlifter (who, granted, must under IOC policy reduce his testosterone for one year to a low-normal male range that is 5 standard deviations away from the female mean) winning a gold medal in women's weightlifting in the Pan-Pacific games and likely to win gold again in the 2020 Olympics.

If that's not privileging individual freedom over collective rights, I don't know what is.

Vegetius , November 20, 2019 at 6:03 pm

>That's how it is possible to be simultaneously libertarian, ethnonationalist and patriarchal today: The right's contemporary attack on "social justice warriors" is straight out of Hayek.

Anyone who could write such a statement understands neither libertarianism nor ethnonationalism. The last half-decade has seen a constant intellectual attack by ethnonationalists against libertarianism. An hour's examination of the now-defunct Alt Right's would confirm this.

Similarly, the contemporary attack on SJW's comes not out of Hayek, but from Gamergate. If you do not know what Gamergate is, you do not understand where the current rightwing and not-so-rightwing thrust of contemporary white identity politics is coming from. My guess is Brown has never heard of it.

Far from trying to uphold patriarchy, Contemporary neoliberalism seeks a total atomization of society into nothing but individual consumers of product. Thus what passes for liberalization of a society today consists in little more than staging sham elections, opening McDonalds, and holding a gay pride parade.

This is why ethnonationalism and even simple nationalism poses a mortal threat to neoliberalism, in a way that so-called progressives never will: both are a threat to globalization, while the rainbow left has shown itself to be little more than the useful idiots of capital.

Brown strikes me as someone who has a worldview and will distort the world to fit that view, no matter how this jibes with facts or logic. The point is simply to array her bugbears into a coalition, regardless of how ridiculous it seems to anyone who knows anything about it.

KLG , November 20, 2019 at 1:43 pm

Actually, maybe not "Bingo," if by that you mean Wendy Brown is a typical representative of "pearl clutching progressive angst." Yes, WB is a very successful academic at Berkeley who worked with Sheldon Wolin as a graduate student IIRC (who was atypical in just about every important way), but this book along with its predecessor Undoing the Demos are much stronger than the normative "why are the natives so restless?" bullshit coming from my erstwhile tribe of "liberals," most of whom are incapacitated by a not unrelated case of Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Susan the Other , November 20, 2019 at 1:55 pm

Hayek was eloquent. Too bad he didn't establish some end goals. Think of all the misery that would have been avoided. I mean, how can you rationalize some economic ideology to "deregulate the social sphere" – that's just the snake eating its tail. That's what people do who don't have boundaries. Right now it looks like there's a strange bedfellowship, a threesome of neoliberal nazis, globalists, and old communists. Everybody and their dog wants the world to work – for everyone. But nobody knows how to do it. And we are experiencing multiple degrees of freedom to express our own personal version of Stockholm syndrome. Because identity politics. What a joke. Maybe we need to come together over something rational. Something fairly real. Instead of overturning Citizens United (which is absurd already), we should do Creatures United – rights for actual living things on this planet. And then we'd have a cause for the duration.

Sol , November 20, 2019 at 3:55 pm

Well stated. The -isms seem like distractions, almost red herrings leading us down the primrose path to a ceaseless is/ought problem. Rather than discuss the way the world is, we argue how it ought to be.

Not to say theory, study, and introspection aren't important. More that we appear paralyzed into inaction since everyone doesn't agree on the One True Way yet.

JBird4049 , November 21, 2019 at 12:26 am

Let us not get to simplistic here. It helps to understand the origins of political, economic, and even social ideals. The origin of modern capitalism, for there were different and more limited earlier forms, was in the Dutch Republic and was part of the efforts of removing and replacing feudalism; liberalism arose from the Enlightenment, which itself was partly the creation of the Wars of Religion, which devastated Europe. The Thirty Years War, which killed ½ of the male population of the Germanies, and is considered more devastating to the Germans than both world wars combined had much of its energy from religious disagreements.

The Age of Enlightenment, along with much of political thought in the Eighteenth Century, was a attempt to allow differences in belief, and the often violent passions that they can cause, to be fought by words instead of murder. The American Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the whole political worldview, that most Americans unconsciously have, comes from from those those times.

Democracy, Liberalism, even Adam Smith's work in the Wealth of Nations were attempts to escape the dictatorship of kings, feudalism, serfdom, violence. Unfortunately, they have all been usurped. Adam Smith's life's work has been perverted, liberalism has been used to weaken the social bonds by making work and money central to society. Their evil child Neoliberalism, a creation of people like Hayek, was supposed to reduce wars (most of the founders were survivors of the world wars) and was supposed to be be partly antidemocratic.

Modern Neoliberalism mutates and combines the partly inadvertent atomizing effects of the ideas of the Enlightenment, Liberalism, Dutch and British Capitalism, the Free Markets of Adam Smith, adds earlier mid twentieth century Neoliberalism as a fuel additive, and creates this twisted flaming Napalm of social atomizing; it also clears out any challenges to money is the worth of all things. Forget philosophy, religion, family, government, society. Money determines worth. Even speech is only worth the money spent on it and not any inherent worth. Or the vote.

Susan the Other , November 21, 2019 at 10:34 am

"the twisted flaming napalm of social atomizing" – that's a keeper.

Math is Your Friend , November 21, 2019 at 1:38 pm

"liberalism has been used to weaken the social bonds by making work and money central to society"

I think you may have swapped the cart and the horse.

Money evolved as a way of aiding and organizing useful interactions within groups larger than isolated villages of a hundred people.

It also enabled an overall increase in wealth through specialization.

Were it not for money, there would be a difficult mismatch between goods of vastly differing value. A farmer growing wheat and carrots has an almost completely divisible supply of goods with which to trade. Someone building a farm wagon a month, or making an iron plough every two weeks has a problem exchanging that for items orders of magnitude less valuable.

Specialization is a vital step in improving resources and capabilities within societies. I've hung out with enough friends who are blacksmiths to know that every farmer hammering out their own plough is a non-starter, for many reasons.

And I've followed enough history to know that iron ploughs mean a lot more food, which allows someone to specialize in making ploughs rather than growing food for personal consumption.

The obvious need is for a way of dividing the value of the plough into many smaller amounts that can be used to obtain grain, cloth, pottery, and so on.

While the exact form of money is not rigidly fixed, at lower technological levels one really needs something that is portable, doesn't spontaneously self destruct, and has a clearly definable value . and exists in different concentrations of worth, to allow flexibility in transport and use.

Various societies have come up with various tokens of value, from agricultural products to bank drafts, each with different advantages and disadvantages, but for most of history, precious metals, base metals, and coinage have been the most practical representation of exchangeable value.

Money is almost certainly an inevitable and necessary consequence of the invention of agriculture, and the corresponding increase in population density.

David , November 21, 2019 at 2:00 pm

Agreed, but as I've suggested elsewhere liberalism always had the capacity within it to destroy social bonds, societies and even nations, it's just that, at the time, this was hidden behind the belief that a just God would not allow it to happen. I see liberalism less as mutating or being usurped than finally being freed of controls. Paradoxically, of course, this "freedom" requires servitude for others, so that no outside forces (trades unions for example) can pollute the purity of the market. It's the same thing with social justice: freedom for identity group comes through legal controls over the behaviour of others, which is why the contemporary definition of a civil rights activist is someone who wants to introduce lots of new laws to prevent people from doing things.

shinola , November 20, 2019 at 2:07 pm

Neoliberalism is just a new label for an old (and, supposedly, discredited) social theory. It used to be called Social Darwinism.

salvo , November 20, 2019 at 2:43 pm

frankly, I don't believe the "monsters" neoliberalism has helped create are an unwanted side effect of their approach, on the contrary, neoliberalism needs those "monsters", like the authoritarian state, to impose itself on society (ask the mutilated gilets jaunes). Repression, inequality, poverty, abuse, dispossession, disfranchisement, enviromental degradation are certainly "monstrous" to those who have to endure them, but not to those who profit the most from the system and sit on the most powerful positions. Of course, the degree of exposure to those monstrosities is dependent on the relative position in the pyramid shaped neoliberal society, the bottom has to endure the most. On the other side, the middle classes tend to support the neoliberal model as long as it ensures them a power position relative to the under classes, and the moment those middle classes feel ttheir position relative to the under classes threatened, the switch to open fascism is not far, we can see this in Bolivia.

Carey , November 20, 2019 at 3:18 pm

Thanks for this comment.

eg , November 20, 2019 at 4:41 pm

"neoliberalism needs those "monsters", like the authoritarian state, to impose itself on society"

If I understood Quinn Slobodian's "Globalists" correctly it was precisely this -- that the neoliberal project while professing that markets were somehow "natural" spent an inordinate amount of time working to ensure that legal structures be created to insulate them from the dirty demos.

Their actions in this respect don't square with a serious belief that markets are natural at all -- if they were, they wouldn't need so damned much hothousing, right?

KLG , November 20, 2019 at 5:28 pm

Exactly!

David , November 20, 2019 at 5:30 pm

I think the argument was that markets were "natural", but vulnerable to interference, and so had to be protected by these legal structures. There's a metaphor there, but it's too late here for me to find it.

Jerry B , November 20, 2019 at 7:08 pm

Thanks eg!

===spent an inordinate amount of time working to ensure that legal structures be created to insulate them from the dirty demos===

I enjoyed Slobodian's book as well. Interestingly, there is a new book out called The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality by Katharina Pistor that discusses those "legal structures".

https://www.amazon.com/Code-Capital-Creates-Wealth-Inequality/dp/0691178976

deplorado , November 20, 2019 at 8:36 pm

If you check out Katharina Pistor on Twitter, you can also find good commentaries and even videos of talks discussing the book and the matter – it is very edifying to open your eyes to the fundamental role of law in creating such natural phenomena as markets and, among other things, billionaires.

Jerry B , November 20, 2019 at 9:58 pm

Thanks deplorado. I do not frequent Pistor's twitter page as much as I would like.

In reading Pistor's book and some of the interviews with Pistor and some of her papers discussing the themes in the book, I had the same reaction as when I read some of Susan Strange's books such as The Retreat of the State: complete removal of any strand of naïveté I may have had as to how the world works. And how hard it will be to undo the destruction.

As you mention the "dirty demos" above, one of Wendy Brown's recent books was Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution.

JCC , November 21, 2019 at 9:47 am

Never having read any of Susan Strange's writings, I decided to find a book review of The Retreat of the State. I found this one and found it very interesting, enough so that I'll go to abebooks.com and get a copy to read.

https://www.academia.edu/6452889/The_Retreat_of_the_State_A_Book_Review

Thank You for the recommendation.

Paul O , November 21, 2019 at 4:57 am

Thank you for this recommendation. Anything that comes as an audiobook is a massive plus for me.

flora , November 20, 2019 at 6:11 pm

Academics promoting neoliberalim: so many false assumptions (or self-exculpating excuses), so little time.

The Rev Kev , November 20, 2019 at 7:13 pm

Hmm. Definitely Monsters from the Id at work here. I am going with the theory that the wealthier class pushed this whole project all along. In the US, Roosevelt had cracked down and imposed regulations that stopped, for example, the stock market from being turned into a casino using ordinary people's saving. He also pushed taxes on them that exceeded 90% which tended to help keep them defanged.
So lo and behold, after casting about, a bunch of isolated rat-bag economic radicals was found that support getting rid of regulations, reducing taxes on the wealthy and anything else that they wanted to do. So money was pumped into this project, think tanks were taken over or built up, universities were taken over to teach this new theories, lawyers and future judges were 'educated' to support their fight and that is what we have today.
If WW2 had not discredited fascism, the wealthy would have use this instead as both Mussolini and Hitler were very friendly to the wealthy industrialists. But they were so instead they turned to neoliberalism instead. Yes, definitely Monsters from the Id.

Sound of the Suburbs , November 21, 2019 at 3:23 am

William White (BIS, OECD) talks about how economics really changed over one hundred years ago as classical economics was replaced by neoclassical economics.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6iXBQ33pBo&t=2485s
He thinks we have been on the wrong path for one hundred years.
This is why we think small state, unregulated capitalism is something it never was when it existed before.

We don't understand the monetary system or how banks work because:
Our knowledge of privately created money has been going backwards since 1856.
Credit creation theory -> fractional reserve theory -> financial intermediation theory
"A lost century in economics: Three theories of banking and the conclusive evidence" Richard A. Werner
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1057521915001477
This is why we come up with crazy ideas like "financial liberalisation".

Steve Ruis , November 21, 2019 at 8:11 am

If corporations are to be people, then they, like the extremely wealthy, need to be reined in politically. One step we could take is to only allow money donations to political campaigns to take place when the person is subject or going to be subject to the politicians decisions. I live in Illinois, I should be able to donate money to the campaigns of those running for the U.S> Senate from Illinois, but Utah? If I donate money to a Utah candidate for the Senate, I am practicing influence peddling because that Senator does not represent me.

If corporations are to be people, they need a primary residence. The location of their corporate headquarters should suffice to "place" them, and donations to candidates outside of their set of districts would be forbidden.

Of course, we do have free speech, so people are completely free to speak over the Internet, TV, hire halls in the district involved and go speak in person. They just couldn't pay to have someone else do that for them.

To allow unfettered political donations violates the one ma, one vote principle and also encourages influence peddling. In fact, it seems as if our Congress and Executive operates only through influence peddling.

[Nov 04, 2019] Postmodernism The Ideological Embellishment of Neoliberalism by Vaska

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Robert Pfaller: Until the late 1970s, all "Western" (capitalist) governments, right or left, pursued a Keynesian economic policy of state investment and deficit spending. (Even Richard Nixon is said to have once, in the early 1970ies, stated, "We are all Keynesians"). This lead to a considerable decrease of inequality in Western societies in the first three decades after WWII, as the numbers presented by Thomas Piketty and Branko Milanovic in their books prove. Apparently, it was seen as necessary to appease Western workers with high wages and high employment rates in order to prevent them from becoming communists. ..."
"... Whenever the social-democratic left came into power, for example with Tony Blair, or Gerhard Schroeder, they proved to be the even more radical neoliberal reformers. As a consequence, leftist parties did not have an economic alternative to what their conservative and liberal opponents offered. Thus they had to find another point of distinction. This is how the left became "cultural" (while, of course, ceasing to be a "left"): from now on the marks of distinction were produced by all kinds of concerns for minorities or subaltern groups. And instead of promoting economic equality and equal rights for all groups, the left now focused on symbolic "recognition" and "visibility" for these groups. ..."
"... Thus not only all economic and social concerns were sacrificed for the sake of sexual and ethnic minorities, but even the sake of these minorities itself. Since a good part of the problem of these groups was precisely economic, social and juridical, and not cultural or symbolic. And whenever you really solve a problem of a minority group, the visibility of this group decreases. But by insisting on the visibility of these groups, the policies of the new pseudo-left succeded at making the problems of these groups permanent – and, of course, at pissing off many other people who started to guess that the concern for minorities was actually just a pretext for pursuing a most brutal policy of increasing economic inequality. ..."
"... The connection to neoliberalism is the latter's totalitarian contention of reducing the entirety of human condition into a gender-neutral cosmopolitan self expressing nondescript market preferences in a conceptual vacuum, a contention celebrated by its ideologues as "liberation" and "humanism" despite its inherent repression and inhumanity. ..."
"... "..'identity politics,' which pretty much encapsulate the central concerns of what these days is deemed to represent what little of the 'left' survives, plays into the hands of the neoliberal ruling establishment(s), because at bottom it is a 'politics' that has been emptied of all that is substantively political.." ..."
"... Agreed. And the truth is that the message is much clearer than that of the critics, below. So it ought to be for the world, sliding into fascism, in which we live in might have been baked by the neo-liberals but it was iced by 57 varieties of Blairites . The cowards who flinched led by the traitors who sneered. ..."
"... 'identity politics,' which pretty much encapsulate the central concerns of what these days is deemed to represent what little of the 'left' survives, plays into the hands of the neoliberal ruling establishment(s), because at bottom it is a 'politics' that has been emptied of all that is substantively political, namely, the fight for an equitable production and distribution of goods, both material and cultural, ensuring a decent life for all. ..."
"... Why bother getting your hands dirty with an actual worker's struggle when you can write yet another glamorously "radical" critique of the latest Hollywood blockbuster (which in truth just ends up as another advert for it)? ..."
"... The One Per Cent saw an opportunity of unlimited exploitation and they ran with it. They're still running (albeit in jets and yachts) and us Proles are either struggling or crawling. Greed is neither Left or Right. It exists for its own self gratification. ..."
"... Actually, post-modernism doesn't include everybody -- just the 'marginalized' and 'disenfranchised' minorities whom Michel Foucault championed. The whole thing resembles nothing so much as the old capitalist strategy of playing off the Lumpenproletariat against the proletariat, to borrow the original Marxist terminology. ..."
"... if you don't mind me asking, exactly at what point do you feel capitalism was restored in the USSR? It was, I take it, with the first Five Year Plan, not the NEP? ..."
"... Also, the Socialist or, to use your nomenclature, "Stalinist" system, that was destroyed in the the USSR in the 1990s–it was, in truth, just one form of capitalism replaced by another form of capitalism? ..."
OffGuardian
Robert Pfaller interviewed by Kamran Baradaran, via ILNA
The ruling ideology since the fall of the Berlin Wall, or even earlier, is postmodernism. This is the ideological embellishment that the brutal neoliberal attack on Western societies' welfare (that was launched in the late 1970s) required in order to attain a "human", "liberal" and "progressive" face.

Robert Pfaller is one of the most distinguished figures in today's radical Left. He teaches at the University of Art and Industrial Design in Linz, Austria. He is a founding member of the Viennese psychoanalytic research group 'stuzzicadenti'.

Pfaller is the author of books such as On the Pleasure Principle in Culture: Illusions Without Owners , Interpassivity: The Aesthetics of Delegated Enjoyment , among others. Below is the ILNA's interview with this authoritative philosopher on the Fall of Berlin Wall and "Idea of Communism".

ILNA: What is the role of "pleasure principle" in a world after the Berlin Wall? What role does the lack of ideological dichotomy, which unveils itself as absent of a powerful left state, play in dismantling democracy?

Robert Pfaller: Until the late 1970s, all "Western" (capitalist) governments, right or left, pursued a Keynesian economic policy of state investment and deficit spending. (Even Richard Nixon is said to have once, in the early 1970ies, stated, "We are all Keynesians"). This lead to a considerable decrease of inequality in Western societies in the first three decades after WWII, as the numbers presented by Thomas Piketty and Branko Milanovic in their books prove. Apparently, it was seen as necessary to appease Western workers with high wages and high employment rates in order to prevent them from becoming communists.

Ironically one could say that it was precisely Western workers who profited considerably of "real existing socialism" in the Eastern European countries.

At the very moment when the "threat" of real existing socialism was not felt anymore, due to the Western economic and military superiority in the 1980ies (that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall), the economic paradigm in the Western countries shifted. All of a sudden, all governments, left or right, pursued a neoliberal economic policy (of privatization, austerity politics, the subjection of education and health sectors under the rule of profitability, liberalization of regulations for the migration of capital and cheap labour, limitation of democratic sovereignty, etc.).

Whenever the social-democratic left came into power, for example with Tony Blair, or Gerhard Schroeder, they proved to be the even more radical neoliberal reformers. As a consequence, leftist parties did not have an economic alternative to what their conservative and liberal opponents offered. Thus they had to find another point of distinction. This is how the left became "cultural" (while, of course, ceasing to be a "left"): from now on the marks of distinction were produced by all kinds of concerns for minorities or subaltern groups. And instead of promoting economic equality and equal rights for all groups, the left now focused on symbolic "recognition" and "visibility" for these groups.

Thus not only all economic and social concerns were sacrificed for the sake of sexual and ethnic minorities, but even the sake of these minorities itself. Since a good part of the problem of these groups was precisely economic, social and juridical, and not cultural or symbolic. And whenever you really solve a problem of a minority group, the visibility of this group decreases. But by insisting on the visibility of these groups, the policies of the new pseudo-left succeded at making the problems of these groups permanent – and, of course, at pissing off many other people who started to guess that the concern for minorities was actually just a pretext for pursuing a most brutal policy of increasing economic inequality.

ILNA: The world after the Berlin Wall is mainly considered as post-ideological. Does ideology has truly decamped from our world or it has only taken more perverse forms? On the other hand, many liberals believe that our world today is based on the promise of happiness. In this sense, how does capitalism promotes itself on the basis of this ideology?

Robert Pfaller: The ruling ideology since the fall of the Berlin Wall, or even earlier, is postmodernism. This is the ideological embellishment that the brutal neoliberal attack on Western societies' welfare (that was launched in the late 1970s) required in order to attain a "human", "liberal" and "progressive" face. This coalition between an economic policy that serves the interest of a tiny minority, and an ideology that appears to "include" everybody is what Nancy Fraser has aptly called "progressive neoliberalism". It consists of neoliberalism, plus postmodernism as its ideological superstructure.

The ideology of postmodernism today has some of its most prominent symptoms in the omnipresent concern about "discrimination" (for example, of "people of color") and in the resentment against "old, white men". This is particularly funny in countries like Germany: since, of course, there has been massive racism and slavery in Germany in the 20th century – yet the victims of this racism and slavery in Germany have in the first place been white men (Jews, communists, Gypsies, red army prisoners of war, etc.).

Here it is most obvious that a certain German pseudo-leftism does not care for the real problems of this society, but prefers to import some of the problems that US-society has to deal with. As Louis Althusser has remarked, ideology always consists in trading in your real problems for the imaginary problems that you would prefer to have.

The general ideological task of postmodernism is to present all existing injustice as an effect of discrimination. This is, of course, funny again: Since every discrimination presupposes an already established class structure of inequality. If you do not have unequal places, you cannot distribute individuals in a discriminating way, even if you want to do so. Thus progressive neoliberalism massively increases social inequality, while distributing all minority groups in an "equal" way over the unequal places.


MASTER OF UNIVE

Abbreviate & reduce to lowest common denominator which is hyperinflation by today's standards given that we are indeed all Keynesians now that leveraged debt no longer suffices to prop Wall Street up. Welcome to the New World Disorder. Screw 'postmodernism' & Chicago School 'neoliberalism'!

MOU

Danubium
There is no such thing as "post-modernism". The derided fad is an organic evolution of the ideologies of "modernity" and the "Enlightenment", and represents the logical conclusion of their core premise: the "enlightened self" as the source of truth instead of the pre-modern epistemologies of divine revelation, tradition and reason.

It does not represent any "liberation" from restrictive thought, as the "self" can only ever be "enlightened" by cult-like submission to dogma or groupthink that gives tangible meaning to the intangible buzzword, its apparent relativism is a product of social detachment of the intellectual class and its complete and utter apathy towards the human condition.

The connection to neoliberalism is the latter's totalitarian contention of reducing the entirety of human condition into a gender-neutral cosmopolitan self expressing nondescript market preferences in a conceptual vacuum, a contention celebrated by its ideologues as "liberation" and "humanism" despite its inherent repression and inhumanity.

The trend is not to successor or opponent, but rather modernism itself in its degenerative, terminal stage.

Monobazeus
Well said
bevin
"..'identity politics,' which pretty much encapsulate the central concerns of what these days is deemed to represent what little of the 'left' survives, plays into the hands of the neoliberal ruling establishment(s), because at bottom it is a 'politics' that has been emptied of all that is substantively political.."

Agreed. And the truth is that the message is much clearer than that of the critics, below. So it ought to be for the world, sliding into fascism, in which we live in might have been baked by the neo-liberals but it was iced by 57 varieties of Blairites . The cowards who flinched led by the traitors who sneered.

Norman Pilon
So cutting through all of the verbiage, the upshot of Pfaller's contentions seems to be that 'identity politics,' which pretty much encapsulate the central concerns of what these days is deemed to represent what little of the 'left' survives, plays into the hands of the neoliberal ruling establishment(s), because at bottom it is a 'politics' that has been emptied of all that is substantively political, namely, the fight for an equitable production and distribution of goods, both material and cultural, ensuring a decent life for all.

Difficult not to agree.

For indeed, "If you do not have unequal places, you cannot distribute individuals in a discriminating way, even if you want to do so."

Capricornia Man
You've nailed it, Norman. In many countries, the left's obsession with identity politics has driven class politics to the periphery of its concerns, which is exactly where the neoliberals want it to be. It's why the working class just isn't interested.
Martin Usher
It must be fun to sit on top of the heap watching the great unwashed squabbling over the crumbs.
Red Allover
The world needs another put down of postmodern philosophy like it needs a Bob Dylan album of Sinatra covers . . .
maxine chiu
I'm glad the article was short .I don't think I'm stupid but too much pseudo-intellectualism makes me fall asleep.
Tim Jenkins
Lol, especially when there are some galling glaring errors within " too much pseudo-intellectualism "

Thanks for the laugh, maxine,

Let them stew & chew (chiu) on our comments 🙂

Bootlyboob
As with any use of an -ism though, you need sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to using 'postmodernism'. Do you mean Baudrillard and Delueze? or do you mean some dirty cunt like Bernard Henri-Levy. There is a bit of a difference.
Bootlyboob
Ok, so Levi is not really a postmodernist. But still, there are philosphers of postmodernism that were, and still are, worth reading.
BigB
Postmodernism: what is it? I defy anyone to give a coherent and specific definition. Not least, because the one 'Classical Liberal' philosopher who did – Stephen Hicks – used the term as a blanket commodification of all post-Enlightenment thought starting with Rousseau's Romanticism. So PoMo has pre-Modern roots? When the left start playing broad and wide with political philosophical categories too – grafting PoMo onto post-Classical roots as a seeming post-Berlin Wall emergence what actually is being said? With such a depth and breadth of human inquiry being commodified as 'PoMo' – arguably, nothing useful.

Neoliberalism is Classic Liberalism writ large. The basic unit of Classicism is an individuated, independent, intentional, individual identitarianism as an atom of the rational ('moral') market and its self-maximising agency. Only, the 'Rights of Man' and the 'Social Contract' have been transfered from the Person (collectively: "We the People " as a the democratic sovereign power) to the Corporation as the new 'Neo-Classicist' supranational sovereign. Fundamentally, nothing has changed.

As pointed out below: this was already well underway by November 1991 – as a structural-function of the burgeoning Euromarkets. These were themselves on the rise as the largest source of global capital *before* the Nixon Shock in 1971. There is an argument to be made that they actually caused the abandoning of Breton Woods and the Gold Standard. Nonetheless, 1991 is a somewhat arbitrary date for the transition from 'High Modernity' to 'PostModernity'. Philosophers. political, and social scientists – as Wittgenstein pointed out – perhaps are victims of their own commodification and naming crisis? Don't get me started on 'post-Humanism' but what does PoMo actually mean?

As the article hints at: the grafting of some subjectivist single rights issues to the ultra-objectivist core market rationality of neoliberalism is an intentional character masking. Even the 'neoliberal CNS' (central nervous system) of the WEF admits to four distinct phases of globalisation. The current 'Globalisation 4.0' – concurrent with the 'Fourth Industrial Revolution' – is a further development of this quasi-subjectivist propagandic ploy. Globalisation is now humanist, sovereigntist, environmentalist, and technologist (technocratic). Its ultimate *telos* is 'fully automated luxury communism' or the harmoniousness of man and nature under an ecolological *Tianxia* the sustainable 'Ecological Civilisation'. Which, I would hope, absolutely nobody is gullible enough to believe?

Who says the leopard cannot change its spots? It can, and indeed does. Neoliberalism is a big-data micromarketing driven technocratic engine of reproduction tailored to the identitarian individual. PoMo – in one sense – is thus the logical extremisation of Classical Liberalism which is happening within the Classical Liberal tradition. It is certainly not a successor state or 'Fourth Political Theory' which is one of the few things Aleksandr Dugin gets right.

This is why the term needs defintion and precisification or, preferably, abandoning. If both the left and right bandy the term around as a eupehemism for what either does not like – the term can only be a noun of incoherence. Much like 'antisemitism': it becomes a negative projection of all undesirable effects onto the 'Other'. Which, when either end of the political spectrum nihilates the Other leaves us with the vicious dehumanisation of the 'traditional' identitarian fascist centre. All binary arguments using shared synthetic terminology – that are plastic in meaning depending on who is using the term – cancel each other out.

Of which, much of which is objectified and commodified as 'PoMo' was a reaction against. A reaction that anticipated the breakdown of the identitarian and sectarian 'technological postmodern' society. So how can that logically be a 'reaction against' and an 'embelishment to' neoliberalism'?

This is not a mere instance of pedantry: I/we are witnessing the decoherence of language due to an extremisation of generalisation and abstraction of sense and meaning. That meaning is deferred is a post-structuralist tenet: but one that proceeds from the extreme objectivisation of language (one to one mapping of meaning as the analytical signified/signifier relationship) and the mathematicisation of logic (post-Fregian 'meta-ontology') not its subjectivisation.

If PoMo means anything: it is a rich and authentic vein of human inquiry that was/is a creative attempt to rescue us from a pure objectivist Hell (David Ray Griffin's "positive postmodernism"). One that was/is not entirely satisfactory; merely because it has not yet completed. In the midst: we have the morbid hybrid symptomatology of the old Classical Libertarian fascism trying to recuperate the new Universal Humanism for which PoMo is a meaningless label. Especially if it is used to character masque the perennial philosophy of Humanism that has been dehumanised and subjugated by successive identitarian regimes of knowledge and power since forever in pre-Antiquity.

We are all human: only some humans are ideologically more human than others is the counter-history of humanity. When we encounter such ideologically imprecise degenerative labels as 'PoMo' – that can mean anything to anyone (but favours the status quo) this makes a nonsense of at least 5,000 years of thought. Is it any wonder that we are super-ordinated by those who can better dictate who we are? Language is overpower and writing is supra-sovereign administration and bureaucracy over the 'owness' of identity. Its co-option by the pseudoleft is a complete denigration and betrayal of the potential of a new Humanism. The key to which is the spiritual recovery and embodiment of who we really are – proto-linguistically and pre-ontologically – before all these meaningless labels get in the way.

Bootlyboob
You said it better than I ever could.

Stephen Hick's book is quite the laugh. I tried to read it but it made no sense. From memory, it starts at Kant and Hegel and gets them completely wrong, (he even draws little charts with their ideas in tabulated form, WTF?) so I quickly deleted the .pdf. Any book that begins with a summary of these two philosophers and then thinks they can hold my attention until they get to their take on 'postmodernism' is sorely mistaken. Postmodernism is a made up label for about four or five French intellectuals in the 1970's that somehow took over the world and completely fucked it up. Why do I somehow not follow this line of 'thought'?

Reg
No, Postmodernism is a real thing, it is the capitalist assimilation of situationism to overcome the crisis of profit in the 70s caused by overproduction and the attempt by the 1% to recapture a greater a greater % of GDP that they had lost due to the post war settlement. This was an increasingly a zero sum game economy after Germany and Japan had rebuilt their manufacturing capacity, with the US constrained by a widening trade deficit and the cost of the cold and Vietnam war increasing US debt. The inflation spikes in the 70s is only reflective of these competing demands.

The problem of modernism is than peoples needs are easily saited, particularly in conditions of overproduction. Postmodern production is all about creating virtual needs that are unsatisfied. The desire for status or belonging or identity are infinite, and overcomes the dead time of 'valourisation' (time taken for investment to turn into profit) of capital by switching to virtual production of weightless capitalism. The creation of 'intangible asset's such as trade marks, while off shoring production is central. This is a form of rentier extraction, as the creation of a trade mark creates no real value if you have offshored not only production but R&D to China. This is why fiance, and free movement of capital supported by monetary policy and independent central banks are central to Postmodern neo-liberal production. The problem being that intangible assets are easy to replace and require monopoly protection supported by a Imperial hegemon to maintain rentier extraction. Why does China need a US or UK trade mark of products where both innovation and production increasingly come from China? How long can the US as a diminishing empire maintain rentier extraction at the point of a military it increasingly cannot afford, particularly against a military and economic superpower like China? It is no accident US companies that have managed to monetise internet technologies are monopolies, google, microsoft, Apple. An operating system for example has a reproduction cost of zero, the same can be said of films or music, so the natural price is zero, only a monopoly maintains profit.

The connection to situationism is the cry of May 68 'Make your dreams reality', which was marketised by making peoples dreams very interesting ones about fitted kitchens, where even 'self actualisation was developed into a product, where even ones own body identity became a product to be developed at a price. This is at the extreme end of Marxist alienation as not only work or the home becomes alienated, but the body itself.
David Harvey covers some of this quite well in his "The condition of Postmodernity". Adam Curtis also covers quite well in 'The Trap' and the 'Century of the self'.

BigB
I'm inclined to agree with everything you write. It would fall into what I called 'precisification' and actual definition. What you describe is pure Baudrillard: that capitalism reproduces as a holistic system of objects that we buy into without ever satisfying the artificial advertorial need to buy. What we actually seek is a holism of self that cannot be replaced by a holism of objects hence an encoded need for dissatisfaction articulated as dissatisfaction a Hyperrealism of the eternally desiring capitalist subject. But Baudrillard rejected the label too.

What I was pointing out was the idea of 'contested concept'. Sure, if we define terms, let's use it. Without that pre-agreed defintion: the term is meaningless. As are many of our grandiloquent ideas of 'Democracy', 'Freedom', 'Prosperity', and especially 'Peace'. Language is partisan and polarised. Plastic words like 'change' can mean anything and intentionally do. And the convention of naming creates its own decoherence sequence. What follows 'postmodernism'? Post-humanism is an assault on sense and meaning. As is the current idea that "reality is the greatest illusion of all".

We are having a real communication breakdown due to the limitations of the language and out proliferation of beliefs. Baudrillard also anticipated the involution and implosion of the Code. He was speaking from a de Saussurian (semiologic) perspective. Cognitive Linguistics makes this ever more clear. Language is maninly frames and metaphors. Over expand them over too many cognitive domains: and the sense and meaning capability is diluted toward meaninglessnes – where reality is no longer real. This puts us in the inferiorised position of having our terms – and thus our meaning – dictated by a cognitive elite a linguistic 'noocracy' (which is homologous with the plutocracy – who can afford private education).

Capitalism itself is a purely linguistic phenomena: which is so far off the beaten track I'm not even going to expand on it. Except to say: that a pre-existing system of objects giving rise to a separate system of thoughts – separate objectivity and subjectivity – is becoming less tenable to defend. I'd prefer to think in terms of 'embodiment' and 'disembodiment' rather than distinct historical phases. And open and closed cognitive cycles rather than discreet psycholgical phases. We cannot be post-humans if we never embodied our humanism fully. And we cannot be be post-modern when we have never fully lived in the present having invented a disembodied reality without us in it, which we proliferated trans-historically the so-called 'remembered present'.

Language and our ideas of reality are close-correlates – I would argue very close correlates. They are breaking down because language and realism are disembodied which, in itself is ludicrous to say. But we have inherited and formalised an idealism that is exactly that. Meaning resides in an immaterial intellect in an intangible mind floating around in an abstract neo-Platonic heaven waiting for Reason to concur with it. Which is metaphysical bullshit, but it is also the foundation of culture and 'Realism'. Which makes my position 'anti-Realist'. Can you see my problem with socio-philosophical labels now!? They can carry sense if used carefully, as you did. In general discourse they mean whatever they want to mean. Which generally means they will be used against you.

Ramdan
"the SPIRITUAL RECOVERY and embodiment of who we really are – PROTO-LINGUISTICALLY and PRE-ONTOLOGICALLY – BEFORE all these MEANINGLESS LABELS get in the way."

Thanks BigB. I just took the liberty to add emphasis.

Robbobbobin
Smarty pants (label).
Robert Laine
A reply to the article worthy of another Off-G article (or perhaps a book) which would include at a minimum the importance of non-dualistic thinking, misuse of language in the creation of MSM and government narratives and the need to be conscious of living life from time to time while we talk about it. Thankyou, BigB.
Simon Hodges
Don't you love how all these people discuss postmodernism without ever bothering to define what it is. How confused. Hicks and Peterson see postmodernists as Neo-Marxists and this guy sees them as Neoliberals. None of the main theorists that have been associated with Postmodernism and Post-Structuralism and I'm thinking Derrida, Baudrillard and Foucault here (not that I see Foucault as really belonging in the group) would not even accept the term 'postmodernism' as they would see it as an inappropriate form of stereo-typography with no coherent meaning or definition and that presupposing that one can simply trade such signifiers in 'transparent' communication and for us all to think and understand the same thing that 'postmodernism' as a body of texts and ideas might be 'constituted by' is a large part of the problem under discussion. I often think that a large question that arises from Derrida's project is not to study communication as such but to study and understand miss-communication and how and why it comes about and what is involved in our misunderstandings. If people don't get that about 'postmodern' and post-structuralist theories then they've not understood any thing about it.
BigB
You are absolutely right: the way we think in commodities of identities – as huge generalizations and blanket abstractions – tends toward grand narration and meaninglessness. Which is at once dehumanising, ethnocentric, exceptionalist, imperialist in a way that favours dominion and overpower. All these tendencies are encoded in the hierarchical structures of the language – as "vicious" binary constructivisms. In short, socio-linguistic culture is a regime of overpower and subjugation. One that is "philosopho-political" and hyper-normalises our discrimination.

Deleuze went further when he said language is "univocal". We only have one equiprimordial concept of identity – Being. It is our ontological primitive singularity of sense and meaning. Everything we identity – as "Difference" – is in terms of Being (non-Being is it's binary mirror state) as an object with attributes (substances). Being is differentiated into hierarchies (the more attributes, the more "substantial"- the 'greater' the being) which are made "real" by "Repetition" hence Difference and Repetition. The language of Dominion, polarization, and overpower is a reified "grand ontological narrative" constructivism. One dominated by absolutised conceptual Being. That's all.

[One in which we are naturally inferiorised in our unconscious relationship of being qua Being in which we are dominated by a conceptual "Oedipal Father" – the singularity of the Known – but that's another primal 'onto-theocratic' narrative the grandest of then all].

One that we are born and acculturated into. Which the majority accept and never question. How many people question not just their processes of thought but the structure of their processes of thought? A thought cannot escape its own structure and that structure is inherently dominative. If not in it's immediacy then deferred somewhere else via a coduit of systemic violence structured as a "violent hierarchy" of opposition and Othering.

Which is the ultimate mis-communication of anything that can be said to be "real" non-dominative, egalitarian, empathic, etc. Which, of course, if we realise the full implications we can change the way we think and the "naturalised" power structures we collectively validate.

When people let their opinions be formed for them, and commodify Romanticism, German Idealism, Marxism, Phenomenology, Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, Existentialism, etc as the pseudo-word "PoMo" – only to dismiss it they are unbeknowingly validating the hegemony of power and false-knowledge over. Then paradoxically using those binary power structures to rail about being dominated!

Those linguistic power structures dominate politics too. The "political unconscious" is binary and oppositional which tends toward negation and favours the status quo but how many people think in terms of the psychopolitical and psycholinguistic algorithms of power and politics?

Derrida's project is now our project and it has hardly yet begun. Not least because cognitive linguistics were unkown to Derrida. That's how knowledge works by contemporising and updating previous knowledge from Structuralism to Post-Structuralism to

Nihilating anything that can be called "PoMo" (including that other pseudo-label "Cultural Marxism") condemns us to another 200 years of Classical Liberalism which should be enough impetus to compel everyone to embrace the positive aspects of PoMo! Especially post-post-structuralism that stupid naming convention again

Simon Hodges
I think a lot of people forget that both Derrida and Baudrillard died before the financial crisis. I don't think either of them like myself at that time paid much attention to economics and markets as they worked within very specific and focused fields. Derrida spent his whole life analysing phonocentrism and logocentrism throughout the history of philosophy and Baudrillard was more a cultural sociologist then anything else. They like most people assumed that neoliberalism was working and they enjoyed well paid jobs and great celebrity so they didn't have much cause to pay that much attention to politics. Following the Invasion of Iraq Derrida did come out very strongly against the US calling it the biggest and most dangerous rogue state in the world and he cited and quoted Chomsky's excellent work. We should also include the UK as the second biggest rogue state.

Once the GFC happened I realized that my knowledge on those subjects was virtually zero and I have since spent years looking at them all very closely. I think Derrida and Baudrillard would have become very political following the GFC and even more so now given current events with the yellow vests in France. Shame those two great thinkers died before all the corruption of neoliberalism was finally revealed. I believe that would have had a great deal to say about it Derrida at least was a very moral and ethical man.

Bootlyboob
I think you would like this essay if you have not read it already.

https://cidadeinseguranca.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/deleuze_control.pdf

Simon Hodges
There's a good video by Cuck Philosophy on YouTube covering control societies below.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/B_i8_WuyqAY?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&start=3&wmode=transparent

If anyone wants a good overview of postmodernism and post-structuralism Cuck philosophy has has some excellent videos covering the subject matter and ideas. He explains how postmodernism has nothing to do with identity politics and shows how Hick and Peterson have fundamentally misunderstood postmodernism. He also has 3 videos covering postmodern basics and some others on Derrida and Baudrillard. You will not find the concepts explained better though one can never give a comprehensive review as such things are essentially beyond us.

He puts too much weight on Foucault for my liking but that's just the fact that my understanding of postmodernism is obviously different to his because all of our largely chance encounters with different texts at different times, which mean that we all come away with slightly different ideas about what these things might mean at any given time. Even in relation to differences in our own ideas from day to day or year to year.

Bootlyboob
Yes, that's why I mentioned the article in relation to your earlier comment. I don't think any of these philosophers would have changed their stances based on the events 20 or 30 post their deaths. They essentially predicted the course that society has taken.
Simon Hodges
Judith Butler took part in the occupy wall street movement and she's a post-structuralist so she has clearly changed her mind since the GFC. Deleuze may have to a certain extent have predicted such things but that doesn't necessarily mean they would have been happy about them. Derrida always spoke of the 'democracy' to come. Instead what we are looking forward to is tech based technocratic totalitarianism. I don't go along with Deleuze on that matter anyway. I don't see a discreet transition from one to the other but rather see us having to endure the combined worst of both scenarios.
Bootlyboob
In relation to Peterson. I did write an email to him once and he wrote back to me saying he does indeed like the writings of Deleuze and Baudrillard. But it was a one line response. I'm still assuming he merely uses a false reading of Derrida as a prop to advance his own arguments.
Simon Hodges
Peterson doesn't understand that postmodernism is not the source of identity politics or cultural marxism. That source is Anglo sociology. I was doing an MSc in sociology back in 1994/95 and they had been transitioning away from Marx and class conflict to Nietzsche and power conflicts understood within a very simplistic definition of power as a simple binary opposition of forces between and 'oppressor' and a 'resistor'.

They borrow a bit from Foucault but they cannot accept his postmodern conclusions as power is necessarily revealed as a positive force that actually constructs us all: in which case one cannot really object to it on political grounds. Let's face it, these cultural ex-Marxists (now actually an elitist Nietzschean ubermench) don't seem to object to power's miss-functioning at all on any kind of institutional level but solely concentrate on supposed power relations at the personal level.

That's all if you buy into 'power'at all as such. Baudrillard wrote 'Forget Foucault' and that 'the more one sees power everywhere the less one is able to speak thereof'. I try and stay clear of any theory that tries to account for everything with a single concept or perspective as they end up over-determining and reductionist.

Steve Hayes
A major benefit (for the elites) of postmodernism is its epistemological relativism, which denies the fundamentally important commitments to objectivity, to facts and evidence. This results in the absurd situation where all the matters is the narrative. This obvious fact is partially obscured by the substitution of emotion for evidence and logic. https://viewsandstories.blogspot.com/2018/06/emotion-substitutes-for-evidence-and.html
Seamus Padraig
Yup. Among other things, po-mo 'theory' enables Orwell's doublethink .
BigB
This is exactly the misunderstanding of a mythical "po-mo 'theory'" – if such a thing exists – that I am getting at. 'Po-mo theory' is in fact a modernity/postmodernity hybrid theory. Pomo theory is yet to emerge.

For instance: Derrida talked of the 'alterity' of language and consciousness that was neither subjectivist nor objectivist. He also spoke of 'inversion/subversion' – where one bipolar oppositional term becomes the new dominant ie 'black over white' or 'female over male'. This, he made specifically clear, was just as violent a domination as the old normal. How is this enabling 'doublethink'.

If you actually study where Derrida, Baudrillard, Deleuze; etc where taking their 'semiotics' it was to the 'Middle Way' of language – much the same destination as Buddhism. This is the clear and precise non-domination of either extreme of language. Only, they never supplied the praxis; and their followers and denigrators where not as prescient.

There is so much more to come from de Saussurian/Piercian semiotics and Bergsonian/Whiteheadian process philosophy. We have barely scratched the surface. One possibility is the fabled East/West synthesis of thought that quantum physics and neuroscience hint at.

What yo do not realise is that our true identity is lost in the language. Specifically: the Law of Identity and the Law of the Excluded Middle of our current Theory of Mind prevent the understanding of consciousness. To understand why you actually have to read and understand the linguistic foundations of the very theory you have just dismissed.

Robbobbobin
"Specifically: the Law of Identity and the Law of the Excluded Middle of our current Theory of Mind prevent the understanding of consciousness."

Yes, but. What do you mean by " our current Theory of Mind"?

Tim Jenkins
Was that a promo for Po-mo theory, BigB ? (chuckle)
BigB
In fact: if followed through – PoMo leads to the point of decoherence of all narrative constructivism. Which is the same point the Buddhist Yogacara/Madhyamaka synthesis leads to. Which is the same point quantum physics and contemporary cognitive neuroscience leads to. The fact of a pre-existent, mind-independent, objective ground for reality is no longer tenable. Objectivism is dead. But so is subjectivism.

What is yet to appear is a coherent narrative that accommodates this. Precisely because language does not allow this. It is either subjectivism or objectivism tertium non datur – a third is not given. It is precisely within the excluded middle of language that the understanding of consciouness lies. The reason we have an ontological cosmogony without consciousness lies precisely in the objectification and commodification of language. All propositions and narratives are ultimately false especially this one.

Crucially, just because we cannot create a narrative construction or identity for 'reality' – does not mean we cannot experience 'reality'. Which is what a propositional device like a Zen koan refers to

All linguistic constructivism – whether objective or subjective – acts as a covering of reality. We take the ontological narrative imaginary for the real 'abhuta-parikalpa'. Both object and subject are pratitya-samutpada – co-evolutionary contingent dependendencies. The disjunction of all dualities via ersatz spatio-temporality creates Samsara. The ending of Samsara is the ending and re-uniting of all falsely dichotomised binary definitions. About which: we can say precisely nothing.

Does this mean language is dead? No way. Language is there for the reclamation by understanding its superimpositional qualitiy (upacara). A metaphoric understanding that George Lakoff has reached with Mark Johnston totally independently of Buddhism. I call it 'poetic objectivism' of 'critical realism' which is the non-nihilational, non-solipsistic, middle way. Which precisely nihilates both elitism and capitalism: which is why there is so much confusion around the language. There is more at stake than mere linguistics. The future of humanity will be determined by our relationship with our languages.

vexarb
@BigB: "The fact of a pre-existent, mind-independent, objective ground for reality is no longer tenable. Objectivism is dead."

Do you mean that there is more to life than just "atoms and empty space"? Plato, Dante and Blake (to name the first 3 who popped into my head) would have agreed with that: the ground of objective reality is mind -- the mind of God.

"The atoms of Democritus, and Newton's particles of Light,
Are sands upon the Red Sea shore,
Where Israel's tents do shine so bright".

Tim Jenkins
Funnily enough, I was only writing just yesterday on OffG's 'India's Tryst with Destiny' article, just what poor standards we have in the Education of our children today, in urgent need of massive revisions, which I've highlighted and how the guilt lays squarely on the shoulders of Scientists & Academia in our Universities, from Physics to History & Law & the 'Physiology of Psychology' these guys really just don't 'cut it' anymore resting on Laurels, living in Fear and corrupted by capitalism >>> wholly !

Somebody should be shot, I say for Terrorist Acts !

Corruption is the Destruction of Culture &

"The Destruction of Culture is a Terrorist Act", now officially,
in international Law @UNESCO (thanks, Irina Bokova)

Would the author of this piece like to review & correct some obviously glaring errors ?

George
Good article. On this topic, I read an essay by the late Ellen Meiksins Wood where she noted that our splendid "new Left" are all at once too pessimistic and too optimistic. Too pessimistic because they blandly assume that socialism is dead and so all struggles in that direction are futile. Too optimistic because they assume that this (up till now) bearable capitalism around them can simply continue with its shopping sprees, pop celebrity culture, soap operas, scandal sheets, ineffectual though comfortable tut-tutting over corrupt and stupid politicians and – best of all – its endless opportunity for writing postmodernist deconstructions of all those phenomena.

Why bother getting your hands dirty with an actual worker's struggle when you can write yet another glamorously "radical" critique of the latest Hollywood blockbuster (which in truth just ends up as another advert for it)?

Fair Dinkum
During the 50's and 60's most folks living in Western cultures were happy with their lot: One house, one car, one spouse, one job, three or four kids and enough money to live the 'good life' Then along came Vance Packard's 'Hidden Persuaders' and hell broke loose.

The One Per Cent saw an opportunity of unlimited exploitation and they ran with it. They're still running (albeit in jets and yachts) and us Proles are either struggling or crawling. Greed is neither Left or Right. It exists for its own self gratification.

Seamus Padraig
Excellent article and very true. Just one minor quibble:

This coalition between an economic policy that serves the interest of a tiny minority, and an ideology that appears to "include" everybody is what Nancy Fraser has aptly called "progressive neoliberalism".

Actually, post-modernism doesn't include everybody -- just the 'marginalized' and 'disenfranchised' minorities whom Michel Foucault championed. The whole thing resembles nothing so much as the old capitalist strategy of playing off the Lumpenproletariat against the proletariat, to borrow the original Marxist terminology.

Stephen Morrell
The following facile claim doesn't bear scrutiny: "At the very moment when the "threat" of real existing socialism was not felt anymore, due to the Western economic and military superiority in the 1980ies (that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall), the economic paradigm in the Western countries shifted."

The economic paradigm shifted well before the 1980s and it had nothing to do with "Western economic and military superiority in the 1980ies". The death knell of Keynesianism was sounded with the de-linking of the US dollar and the gold standard in 1971 and the first oil crisis of 1973. Subsequently, the 1970s were marked by a continuous and escalating campaign of capital strikes which produced both high inflation and high unemployment ('stagflation') in the main imperial centres. These strikes persisted until the bourgeoisie's servants were able to implement their desired 'free market' measures in the 1980s, the key ones being smashing of trade union power and consequent devastation of working conditions and living standards, privatisation of essential services, dissolution of social welfare and all the rest. All in the name of 'encouraging investment'.

The fear of 'existing socialism' (and of the military might of Eastern Europe and the USSR) persisted right up to the restoration of capitalism in the USSR in 1991-92. The post-soviet triumphalism (to that moronic and ultimate post-modernist war cry, 'The End of History') only opened the floodgates for the imposition of the neoliberal paradigm over the whole globe. The real essence of the 'globalisation' ideology has been this imposition of imperial monopoly and hegemony on economically backward but resource-rich countries that hitherto could gain some respite or succour from the USSR and Eastern Europe as an alternative to the tender mercies of the World Bank and IMF whose terms correspondingly centred on the neoliberal paradigm.

The key class-war victories of the 1980s by the ruling class, especially in the main Anglophone imperial centres (exemplified by the air traffic controllers strike in Reagan's US and the Great Coal Strike in Thatcher's England), were the necessary condition to them getting their way domestically. However, the dissolution of the USSR not only allowed the imperialists to rampage internationally (through the World Bank, IMF, WTO, etc) but gave great fillip to their initial class-war victories at home to impose with impunity ever more grinding impoverishment and austerity on the working class and oppressed -- from the 1990s right up to fraught and crisis-ridden present. The impunity was fuelled in many countries by that domestic accompaniment to the dissolution of the USSR, the rapidly spiralling and terminal decline of the mass Stalinist Communist parties, the bourgeoisie's bogeyman.

Finally, productivity in the capitalist west was always higher than in post-capitalist countries. The latter universally have been socialised economies built in economically backward countries and saddled with stultifying Stalinist bureaucracies, including in the USSR and Eastern Europe. Capitalist productivity didn't suddenly exceed that in the USSR or Eastern Europe in the 1980s.

So, overall, the 'triumph' of the neoliberal paradigm didn't really have much to do with the imperialist lie of "Western economic and military superiority in the 1980ies". That fairytale might fit into some post-modernist relativist epistemology of everything being equally 'true' or 'valid', but in the real world it doesn't hold up empirically or logically. In Anglophone philosophic academia at least, post-modernism really picked up only after Althusser strangled his wife, and hyper-objectivist structuralism correspondingly was strangled by hyper-subjectivist post-modernism.

Seamus Padraig

The death knell of Keynesianism was sounded with the de-linking of the US dollar and the gold standard in 1971 and the first oil crisis of 1973.

Not really, no. In fact, we still do have Keynesianism; but now, it's just a Keynsianism for the banks, the corporations and the MIC rather than the rest of us. But check the stats: the governments of West are still heavily involved in deficit spending–US deficits, in fact, haven't been this big since WW2! Wish I got some of that money

Tim Jenkins
I find this kind of a pointless discussion on Keynes & so on

"Capitalism has Failed." Christine Lagarde 27/5/2014 Mansion House

"Socialism for the Rich" (Stiglitz: Nobel Economic laureate, 2008/9)

More important is the structuring of Central Banks to discuss and
Richard A. Werner's sound observations in the link

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1057521915001477

Riddle me this Seamus: this year we just got a new statue of Woodrow Wilson in Plovdiv BG.
Last year we got a statue of John no-name McCain in Sofia Bulgaria
See the patterns in the most poverty stricken EU nation ?
Not difficult !

vexarb
Seamus, me too! At least, wish I could get some of my own money back.
Tim Jenkins
Whenever I think about some serious R.O.I. of time & money & family contributions to Tech. Designs, lost in the '80's, I have to play some music or switch to Zen mode 🙂
vexarb
@Tim: "R.O.I (Return On Investment)". The first time I have come across that P.O.V (Point Of View) on this site. The essence of Darwin's theory of evolutionary progress: to slowly build on an initial slight advantage. The 80s (I was there), Maggie Snatcher, Baroness Muck, no such thing as Society, the years that the Locust has eaten. Little ROI despite a tsunami of fiat money swirling around the electronic world. Where is the ROI from capital in the WC.Clinton / B.Liar / Brown regimes, that were so boastful of their economic policies. Where are the snows of yesteryear?
Tim Jenkins
Well said, Stephen: this wholly weird wee article certainly begs the question, how old is & where was this tainted memory & member of academia in the 'Winter of '79' ? and how could he have possibly missed all the denationalisation/privatisation, beginning with NFC and onwards, throughout the '80's, under Thatcher ? Culminating in screwing UK societal futures, by failing to rollout Fibre Optic Cable in the UK, (except for the Square Mile city interests of London) which Boris now promises to do today, nationwide,

a mere 30 years too damn late, when it would have been so cheap, back then and production costs could have been tied to contracts of sale of the elite British Tech. at that time

http://www.techradar.com/news/world-of-tech/how-the-uk-lost-the-broadband-race-in-1990-1224784/2

Worth reading both part one & two of that link, imo scandalous !

Nice wholly suitable reference to Althusser 😉 say no more.

Talk about 'Bonkers' 🙂 we shan't be buying the book, for sure 🙂

Your comment was way more valuable. Do people get paid for writing things like this, these days. I was just outside Linz for 2 months, just before last Christmas and I found more knowledgeable people on the street, in & around Hitler's ole' 'patch', during his formative years, on the streets of Linz: where the joke goes something along the lines of

"If a homeless unemployed artist can't make it in Austria, he has nothing to fear, knowing that he can be on the road to becoming the Chancellor of Germany in just another year "

BigB
I was right with you to the end, Stephen. Althusser killed his wife for sure: but he was deemed insane and never stood trial. He was almost certainly suffering from a combination of conditions, exacerbated by a severe form of PTSD, as we would call it now.

Whether or not one has sympathy for this has become highly politicised. Classic Liberals, anti-communists, and radical feminists always seem to portray the 'murder' as a rational act of the misogynistic male in the grips of a radical philosophy for which wife murder is as natural a consequence as the Gulag. His supporters try to portray the 'mercy' killing of Helene as an 'act of love'. It wasn't that simple though, was it? Nor that black and white.

I cannot imagine what life was like in a German concentration camp for someone who was already suffering from mental illness. From what I have read: the 'treatment' available in the '50s was worse than the underlying condition. He was also 'self-medicating'. I cannot imagine what the state of his mind was in 1980: but I am inclined to cut him some slack. A lot of slack.

I cannot agree with your last statement. Althusser's madness was not a global trigger event – proceeding as a natural consequence from "hyper-subjectivist post-modernism". Which makes for a literary original, but highly inaccurate metaphor. Not least because Althusser was generally considered as a Structuralist himself.

Other than that, great comment.

Stephen Morrell
I understand your sentiments toward Althusser, and am sorry if my remarks about him were insensitive or offensive. However, I know from personal experience of hardline Althusserian academic philosophers who suddenly became post-modernists after the unfortunate incident. The point I was trying to make was that his philosophy wasn't abandoned for philosophical reasons but non-philosophical, moral ones. It wasn't a condemnation of Althusser. It was a condemnation of many of his followers.

I made no claim that this was some kind of 'global trigger event'. Philosophy departments, or ideas as such, don't bring change. If post-modernism didn't become useful to at least some sectors of the ruling class at some point, then it would have remained an academic backwater (as it should have). Nor that post-modernism was some kind of 'natural consequence' of structuralism (which is what I think you meant). Philosophically, it was a certainly one reaction to structuralism, one among several. Other more rational reactions to structuralism included EP Thompson's and Sebastiano Timpinaro's.

As Marx said, "the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas" [German Ideology], and if the ruling class finds some of them useful they'll adopt them. Or as Milton Friedman, one of the main proponents of neoliberalism, proclaimed: "Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around." Post-modernism, as a philosophy 'lying around', serves as a nice philosophical/ideological fit for the intelligentsia to rationalise the anti-science ideology the ruling class today is foisting on rest of the population.

Politically, Althusser was disowned by many French leftists for his support of the thoroughly counter-revolutionary role of the Stalinist PCF in the 1968 May events. His authority lasted for over a decade longer in the Anglophone countries.

Lochearn
"In Anglophone philosophic academia at least, post-modernism really picked up only after Althusser strangled his wife, and hyper-objectivist structuralism correspondingly was strangled by hyper-subjectivist post-modernism."

Wonderful sentence. I'll keep that – if I may – for some imaginary dinner table with some imaginary academic friends.

Tim Jenkins
I was thinking exactly the same and imagining the window of opportunity to provoke some sound conversation, after some spluttering of red w(h)ine
Stephen Morrell
Thank you. I'll rephrase it to improve it slightly if you like:

In Anglophone philosophic academia at least, post-modernism really picked up only after Althusser strangled his wife, and in revenge hyper-objectivist structuralism was strangled by hyper-subjectivist post-modernism.

Red Allover
Mr. Morrell's use of the phrase "stultifying Stalinist bureaucracies," to describe the actually existing Socialist societies of the Eastern bloc, indicates to me that he is very much of the bourgeois mind set that he purports to criticize. This "plague on both your houses" attitude is very typical of the lower middle class intellectual in capitalist countries, c.f. Chomsky, Zizek, etc.
Stephen Morrell
On the contrary, all the remaining workers states (China, North Korea, Viet Nam, Laos and Cuba) must be defended against imperialist attack and internal counterrevolution despite the bureaucratic castes that hold political power in these countries. Political, not social, revolutions are needed to sweep away these bureaucracies to establish organs of workers democracy and political power (eg soviets) which never existed in these countries (unlike in the first years of the USSR).

To his last days, the dying Lenin fought the rising bureaucracy led by Stalin, but Russia's backwardness and the failure of the revolution to spread to an advanced country (especially Germany, October 1923) drove its rise. Its ideological shell was the profoundly reactionary outlook and program of 'Socialism in One Country' (and only one country). And while Stalin defeated him and his followers, it was Trotsky who came to a Marxist, materialist understanding of what produced and drove the Soviet Thermidor. Trotsky didn't go running off to the bourgeoisie of the world blubbering about a 'new class' the way Kautsky, Djilas, Shachtman, Cliff, et al. did.

The restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union was a profound defeat for the working class worldwide, as it would be for the remaining workers states. Now if that's a 'bourgeois mindset' of a 'lower middle class intellectual', be my guest and nominate the bourgeois or petty bourgeois layers that hold such views. Certainly Chomsky, Zizek et al. couldn't agree with such an outlook, but it's only the bourgeoisie and the Stalinists who contend that the workers states are 'socialist' or 'communist'. Only a true post-modernist could delude themselves into concurring, or claim that the political repression, censorship and corrupting bureaucratism of the Stalinist regimes were indeed not stultifying.

Red Allover
Thanks for your intelligent response. I am very familiar with the Trotskyist positions you outline. I could give you the Leninist rebuttal to each of them, but you are probably familiar with them as well. I don't want to waste your time, or mine. However, if you don't mind me asking, exactly at what point do you feel capitalism was restored in the USSR? It was, I take it, with the first Five Year Plan, not the NEP?

Also, the Socialist or, to use your nomenclature, "Stalinist" system, that was destroyed in the the USSR in the 1990s–it was, in truth, just one form of capitalism replaced by another form of capitalism? Would this summarize your view accurately?

Stephen Morrell
Capitalism was restored in the USSR in 1991-92. Stalinism was not another form of capitalism, as the Third Campists would contend. The Stalinist bureaucracy rested on exactly the same property relations a socialist system would which were destroyed with Yeltsin's (and Bush's) counterrevolution. Last, I've never labelled the Stalinist bureaucracy as a 'system'.
GMW
Perhaps if you changed your moniker to: "Troll Allover" one could take you seriously, well, not really – 'seriously' – but at least in a sort of weird, twisted & warped post-modern sense – eh?
Red Allover
I'm sorry, what is the argument you are making? I know name calling is beneath intelligent, educated people.

[Oct 23, 2019] The treason of the intellectuals The Undoing of Thought by Roger Kimball

Highly recommended!
Supporting neoliberalism is the key treason of contemporary intellectuals eeho were instrumental in decimating the New Deal capitalism, to say nothing about neocon, who downgraded themselves into intellectual prostitutes of MIC mad try to destroy post WWII order.
Notable quotes:
"... More and more, intellectuals were abandoning their attachment to the traditional panoply of philosophical and scholarly ideals. One clear sign of the change was the attack on the Enlightenment ideal of universal humanity and the concomitant glorification of various particularisms. ..."
"... "Our age is indeed the age of the intellectual organization of political hatreds ," he wrote near the beginning of the book. "It will be one of its chief claims to notice in the moral history of humanity." There was no need to add that its place in moral history would be as a cautionary tale. In little more than a decade, Benda's prediction that, because of the "great betrayal" of the intellectuals, humanity was "heading for the greatest and most perfect war ever seen in the world," would achieve a terrifying corroboration. ..."
"... In Plato's Gorgias , for instance, the sophist Callicles expresses his contempt for Socrates' devotion to philosophy: "I feel toward philosophers very much as I do toward those who lisp and play the child." Callicles taunts Socrates with the idea that "the more powerful, the better, and the stronger" are simply different words for the same thing. Successfully pursued, he insists, "luxury and intemperance are virtue and happiness, and all the rest is tinsel." How contemporary Callicles sounds! ..."
"... In Benda's formula, this boils down to the conviction that "politics decides morality." To be sure, the cynicism that Callicles espoused is perennial: like the poor, it will be always with us. What Benda found novel was the accreditation of such cynicism by intellectuals. "It is true indeed that these new 'clerks' declare that they do not know what is meant by justice, truth, and other 'metaphysical fogs,' that for them the true is determined by the useful, the just by circumstances," he noted. "All these things were taught by Callicles, but with this difference; he revolted all the important thinkers of his time." ..."
"... In other words, the real treason of the intellectuals was not that they countenanced Callicles but that they championed him. ..."
"... His doctrine of "the will to power," his contempt for the "slave morality" of Christianity, his plea for an ethic "beyond good and evil," his infatuation with violence -- all epitomize the disastrous "pragmatism" that marks the intellectual's "treason." The real problem was not the unattainability but the disintegration of ideals, an event that Nietzsche hailed as the "transvaluation of all values." "Formerly," Benda observed, "leaders of States practiced realism, but did not honor it; With them morality was violated but moral notions remained intact, and that is why, in spite of all their violence, they did not disturb civilization ." ..."
"... From the savage flowering of ethnic hatreds in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to the mendacious demands for political correctness and multiculturalism on college campuses across America and Europe, the treason of the intellectuals continues to play out its unedifying drama. Benda spoke of "a cataclysm in the moral notions of those who educate the world." That cataclysm is erupting in every corner of cultural life today. ..."
"... Finkielkraut catalogues several prominent strategies that contemporary intellectuals have employed to retreat from the universal. A frequent point of reference is the eighteenth-century German Romantic philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder. "From the beginning, or to be more precise, from the time of Plato until that of Voltaire," he writes, "human diversity had come before the tribunal of universal values; with Herder the eternal values were condemned by the court of diversity." ..."
"... Finkielkraut focuses especially on Herder's definitively anti-Enlightenment idea of the Volksgeist or "national spirit." ..."
"... Nevertheless, the multiculturalists' obsession with "diversity" and ethnic origins is in many ways a contemporary redaction of Herder's elevation of racial particularism over the universalizing mandate of reason ..."
"... In Goethe's words, "A generalized tolerance will be best achieved if we leave undisturbed whatever it is which constitutes the special character of particular individuals and peoples, whilst at the same time we retain the conviction that the distinctive worth of anything with true merit lies in its belonging to all humanity." ..."
"... The geography of intellectual betrayal has changed dramatically in the last sixty-odd years. In 1927, intellectuals still had something definite to betray. In today's "postmodernist" world, the terrain is far mushier: the claims of tradition are much attenuated and betrayal is often only a matter of acquiescence. ..."
"... In the broadest terms, The Undoing of Thought is a brief for the principles of the Enlightenment. Among other things, this means that it is a brief for the idea that mankind is united by a common humanity that transcends ethnic, racial, and sexual divisions ..."
"... Granted, the belief that there is "Jewish thinking" or "Soviet science" or "Aryan art" is no longer as widespread as it once was. But the dispersal of these particular chimeras has provided no inoculation against kindred fabrications: "African knowledge," "female language," "Eurocentric science": these are among today's talismanic fetishes. ..."
"... Then, too, one finds a stunning array of anti-Enlightenment phantasmagoria congregated under the banner of "anti-positivism." The idea that history is a "myth," that the truths of science are merely "fictions" dressed up in forbidding clothes, that reason and language are powerless to discover the truth -- more, that truth itself is a deceitful ideological construct: these and other absurdities are now part of the standard intellectual diet of Western intellectuals. The Frankfurt School Marxists Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno gave an exemplary but by no means uncharacteristic demonstration of one strain of this brand of anti-rational animus in the mid-1940s. ..."
"... Historically, the Enlightenment arose as a deeply anti-clerical and, perforce, anti-traditional movement. Its goal, in Kant's famous phrase, was to release man from his "self-imposed immaturity." ..."
"... The process of disintegration has lately become an explicit attack on culture. This is not simply to say that there are many anti-intellectual elements in society: that has always been the case. "Non-thought," in Finkielkraut's phrase, has always co-existed with the life of the mind. The innovation of contemporary culture is to have obliterated the distinction between the two. ..."
"... There are many sides to this phenomenon. What Finkielkraut has given us is not a systematic dissection but a kind of pathologist's scrapbook. He reminds us, for example, that the multiculturalists' demand for "diversity" requires the eclipse of the individual in favor of the group ..."
"... To a large extent, the abdication of reason demanded by multiculturalism has been the result of what we might call the subjection of culture to anthropology. ..."
"... In describing this process of leveling, Finkielkraut distinguishes between those who wish to obliterate distinctions in the name of politics and those who do so out of a kind of narcissism. The multiculturalists wave the standard of radical politics and say (in the words of a nineteenth-century Russian populist slogan that Finkielkraut quotes): "A pair of boots is worth more than Shakespeare." ..."
"... The upshot is not only that Shakespeare is downgraded, but also that the bootmaker is elevated. "It is not just that high culture must be demystified; sport, fashion and leisure now lay claim to high cultural status." A grotesque fantasy? ..."
"... . Finkielkraut notes that the rhetoric of postmodernism is in some ways similar to the rhetoric of Enlightenment. Both look forward to releasing man from his "self-imposed immaturity." But there is this difference: Enlightenment looks to culture as a repository of values that transcend the self, postmodernism looks to the fleeting desires of the isolated self as the only legitimate source of value ..."
"... The products of culture are valuable only as a source of amusement or distraction. In order to realize the freedom that postmodernism promises, culture must be transformed into a field of arbitrary "options." "The post-modern individual," Finkielkraut writes, "is a free and easy bundle of fleeting and contingent appetites. He has forgotten that liberty involves more than the ability to change one's chains, and that culture itself is more than a satiated whim." ..."
"... "'All cultures are equally legitimate and everything is cultural,' is the common cry of affluent society's spoiled children and of the detractors of the West. ..."
"... There is another, perhaps even darker, result of the undoing of thought. The disintegration of faith in reason and common humanity leads not only to a destruction of standards, but also involves a crisis of courage. ..."
"... As the impassioned proponents of "diversity" meet the postmodern apostles of acquiescence, fanaticism mixes with apathy to challenge the commitment required to preserve freedom. ..."
"... Communism may have been effectively discredited. But "what is dying along with it is not the totalitarian cast of mind, but the idea of a world common to all men." ..."
Dec 01, 1992 | www.moonofalabama.org

On the abandonment of Enlightenment intellectualism, and the emergence of a new form of Volksgeist.

When hatred of culture becomes itself a part of culture, the life of the mind loses all meaning. -- Alain Finkielkraut, The Undoing of Thought

Today we are trying to spread knowledge everywhere. Who knows if in centuries to come there will not be universities for re-establishing our former ignorance? -- Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799)

I n 1927, the French essayist Julien Benda published his famous attack on the intellectual corruption of the age, La Trahison des clercs. I said "famous," but perhaps "once famous" would have been more accurate. For today, in the United States anyway, only the title of the book, not its argument, enjoys much currency. "La trahison des clercs": it is one of those memorable phrases that bristles with hints and associations without stating anything definite. Benda tells us that he uses the term "clerc" in "the medieval sense," i.e., to mean "scribe," someone we would now call a member of the intelligentsia. Academics and journalists, pundits, moralists, and pontificators of all varieties are in this sense clercs . The English translation, The Treason of the Intellectuals , 1 sums it up neatly.

The "treason" in question was the betrayal by the "clerks" of their vocation as intellectuals. From the time of the pre-Socratics, intellectuals, considered in their role as intellectuals, had been a breed apart. In Benda's terms, they were understood to be "all those whose activity essentially is not the pursuit of practical aims, all those who seek their joy in the practice of an art or a science or a metaphysical speculation, in short in the possession of non-material advantages." Thanks to such men, Benda wrote, "humanity did evil for two thousand years, but honored good. This contradiction was an honor to the human species, and formed the rift whereby civilization slipped into the world."

According to Benda, however, this situation was changing. More and more, intellectuals were abandoning their attachment to the traditional panoply of philosophical and scholarly ideals. One clear sign of the change was the attack on the Enlightenment ideal of universal humanity and the concomitant glorification of various particularisms. The attack on the universal went forward in social and political life as well as in the refined precincts of epistemology and metaphysics: "Those who for centuries had exhorted men, at least theoretically, to deaden the feeling of their differences have now come to praise them, according to where the sermon is given, for their 'fidelity to the French soul,' 'the immutability of their German consciousness,' for the 'fervor of their Italian hearts.'" In short, intellectuals began to immerse themselves in the unsettlingly practical and material world of political passions: precisely those passions, Benda observed, "owing to which men rise up against other men, the chief of which are racial passions, class passions and national passions." The "rift" into which civilization had been wont to slip narrowed and threatened to close altogether.

Writing at a moment when ethnic and nationalistic hatreds were beginning to tear Europe asunder, Benda's diagnosis assumed the lineaments of a prophecy -- a prophecy that continues to have deep resonance today. "Our age is indeed the age of the intellectual organization of political hatreds ," he wrote near the beginning of the book. "It will be one of its chief claims to notice in the moral history of humanity." There was no need to add that its place in moral history would be as a cautionary tale. In little more than a decade, Benda's prediction that, because of the "great betrayal" of the intellectuals, humanity was "heading for the greatest and most perfect war ever seen in the world," would achieve a terrifying corroboration.

J ulien Benda was not so naïve as to believe that intellectuals as a class had ever entirely abstained from political involvement, or, indeed, from involvement in the realm of practical affairs. Nor did he believe that intellectuals, as citizens, necessarily should abstain from political commitment or practical affairs. The "treason" or betrayal he sought to publish concerned the way that intellectuals had lately allowed political commitment to insinuate itself into their understanding of the intellectual vocation as such. Increasingly, Benda claimed, politics was "mingled with their work as artists, as men of learning, as philosophers." The ideal of disinterestedness, the universality of truth: such guiding principles were contemptuously deployed as masks when they were not jettisoned altogether. It was in this sense that he castigated the " desire to abase the values of knowledge before the values of action ."

In its crassest but perhaps also most powerful form, this desire led to that familiar phenomenon Benda dubbed "the cult of success." It is summed up, he writes, in "the teaching that says that when a will is successful that fact alone gives it a moral value, whereas the will which fails is for that reason alone deserving of contempt." In itself, this idea is hardly novel, as history from the Greek sophists on down reminds us. In Plato's Gorgias , for instance, the sophist Callicles expresses his contempt for Socrates' devotion to philosophy: "I feel toward philosophers very much as I do toward those who lisp and play the child." Callicles taunts Socrates with the idea that "the more powerful, the better, and the stronger" are simply different words for the same thing. Successfully pursued, he insists, "luxury and intemperance are virtue and happiness, and all the rest is tinsel." How contemporary Callicles sounds!

In Benda's formula, this boils down to the conviction that "politics decides morality." To be sure, the cynicism that Callicles espoused is perennial: like the poor, it will be always with us. What Benda found novel was the accreditation of such cynicism by intellectuals. "It is true indeed that these new 'clerks' declare that they do not know what is meant by justice, truth, and other 'metaphysical fogs,' that for them the true is determined by the useful, the just by circumstances," he noted. "All these things were taught by Callicles, but with this difference; he revolted all the important thinkers of his time."

In other words, the real treason of the intellectuals was not that they countenanced Callicles but that they championed him. To appreciate the force of Benda's thesis one need only think of that most influential modern Callicles, Friedrich Nietzsche. His doctrine of "the will to power," his contempt for the "slave morality" of Christianity, his plea for an ethic "beyond good and evil," his infatuation with violence -- all epitomize the disastrous "pragmatism" that marks the intellectual's "treason." The real problem was not the unattainability but the disintegration of ideals, an event that Nietzsche hailed as the "transvaluation of all values." "Formerly," Benda observed, "leaders of States practiced realism, but did not honor it; With them morality was violated but moral notions remained intact, and that is why, in spite of all their violence, they did not disturb civilization ."

Benda understood that the stakes were high: the treason of the intellectuals signaled not simply the corruption of a bunch of scribblers but a fundamental betrayal of culture. By embracing the ethic of Callicles, intellectuals had, Benda reckoned, precipitated "one of the most remarkable turning points in the moral history of the human species. It is impossible," he continued,

to exaggerate the importance of a movement whereby those who for twenty centuries taught Man that the criterion of the morality of an act is its disinterestedness, that good is a decree of his reason insofar as it is universal, that his will is only moral if it seeks its law outside its objects, should begin to teach him that the moral act is the act whereby he secures his existence against an environment which disputes it, that his will is moral insofar as it is a will "to power," that the part of his soul which determines what is good is its "will to live" wherein it is most "hostile to all reason," that the morality of an act is measured by its adaptation to its end, and that the only morality is the morality of circumstances. The educators of the human mind now take sides with Callicles against Socrates, a revolution which I dare to say seems to me more important than all political upheavals.

T he Treason of the Intellectuals is an energetic hodgepodge of a book. The philosopher Jean-François Revel recently described it as "one of the fussiest pleas on behalf of the necessary independence of intellectuals." Certainly it is rich, quirky, erudite, digressive, and polemical: more an exclamation than an analysis. Partisan in its claims for disinterestedness, it is ruthless in its defense of intellectual high-mindedness. Yet given the horrific events that unfolded in the decades following its publication, Benda's unremitting attack on the politicization of the intellect and ethnic separatism cannot but strike us as prescient. And given the continuing echo in our own time of the problems he anatomized, the relevance of his observations to our situation can hardly be doubted. From the savage flowering of ethnic hatreds in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to the mendacious demands for political correctness and multiculturalism on college campuses across America and Europe, the treason of the intellectuals continues to play out its unedifying drama. Benda spoke of "a cataclysm in the moral notions of those who educate the world." That cataclysm is erupting in every corner of cultural life today.

In 1988, the young French philosopher and cultural critic Alain Finkielkraut took up where Benda left off, producing a brief but searching inventory of our contemporary cataclysms. Entitled La Défaite de la pensée 2 ("The 'Defeat' or 'Undoing' of Thought"), his essay is in part an updated taxonomy of intellectual betrayals. In this sense, the book is a trahison des clercs for the post-Communist world, a world dominated as much by the leveling imperatives of pop culture as by resurgent nationalism and ethnic separatism. Beginning with Benda, Finkielkraut catalogues several prominent strategies that contemporary intellectuals have employed to retreat from the universal. A frequent point of reference is the eighteenth-century German Romantic philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder. "From the beginning, or to be more precise, from the time of Plato until that of Voltaire," he writes, "human diversity had come before the tribunal of universal values; with Herder the eternal values were condemned by the court of diversity."

Finkielkraut focuses especially on Herder's definitively anti-Enlightenment idea of the Volksgeist or "national spirit." Quoting the French historian Joseph Renan, he describes the idea as "the most dangerous explosive of modern times." "Nothing," he writes, "can stop a state that has become prey to the Volksgeist ." It is one of Finkielkraut's leitmotifs that today's multiculturalists are in many respects Herder's (generally unwitting) heirs.

True, Herder's emphasis on history and language did much to temper the tendency to abstraction that one finds in some expressions of the Enlightenment. Ernst Cassirer even remarked that "Herder's achievement is one of the greatest intellectual triumphs of the philosophy of the Enlightenment."

Nevertheless, the multiculturalists' obsession with "diversity" and ethnic origins is in many ways a contemporary redaction of Herder's elevation of racial particularism over the universalizing mandate of reason. Finkielkraut opposes this just as the mature Goethe once took issue with Herder's adoration of the Volksgeist. Finkielkraut concedes that we all "relate to a particular tradition" and are "shaped by our national identity." But, unlike the multiculturalists, he soberly insists that "this reality merit[s] some recognition, not idolatry."

In Goethe's words, "A generalized tolerance will be best achieved if we leave undisturbed whatever it is which constitutes the special character of particular individuals and peoples, whilst at the same time we retain the conviction that the distinctive worth of anything with true merit lies in its belonging to all humanity."

The Undoing of Thought resembles The Treason of the Intellectuals stylistically as well as thematically. Both books are sometimes breathless congeries of sources and aperçus. And Finkielkraut, like Benda (and, indeed, like Montaigne), tends to proceed more by collage than by demonstration. But he does not simply recapitulate Benda's argument.

The geography of intellectual betrayal has changed dramatically in the last sixty-odd years. In 1927, intellectuals still had something definite to betray. In today's "postmodernist" world, the terrain is far mushier: the claims of tradition are much attenuated and betrayal is often only a matter of acquiescence. Finkielkraut's distinctive contribution is to have taken the measure of the cultural swamp that surrounds us, to have delineated the links joining the politicization of the intellect and its current forms of debasement.

In the broadest terms, The Undoing of Thought is a brief for the principles of the Enlightenment. Among other things, this means that it is a brief for the idea that mankind is united by a common humanity that transcends ethnic, racial, and sexual divisions.

The humanizing "reason" that Enlightenment champions is a universal reason, sharable, in principle, by all. Such ideals have not fared well in the twentieth century: Herder's progeny have labored hard to discredit them. Granted, the belief that there is "Jewish thinking" or "Soviet science" or "Aryan art" is no longer as widespread as it once was. But the dispersal of these particular chimeras has provided no inoculation against kindred fabrications: "African knowledge," "female language," "Eurocentric science": these are among today's talismanic fetishes.

Then, too, one finds a stunning array of anti-Enlightenment phantasmagoria congregated under the banner of "anti-positivism." The idea that history is a "myth," that the truths of science are merely "fictions" dressed up in forbidding clothes, that reason and language are powerless to discover the truth -- more, that truth itself is a deceitful ideological construct: these and other absurdities are now part of the standard intellectual diet of Western intellectuals. The Frankfurt School Marxists Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno gave an exemplary but by no means uncharacteristic demonstration of one strain of this brand of anti-rational animus in the mid-1940s.

Safely ensconced in Los Angeles, these refugees from Hitler's Reich published an influential essay on the concept of Enlightenment. Among much else, they assured readers that "Enlightenment is totalitarian." Never mind that at that very moment the Nazi war machine -- what one might be forgiven for calling real totalitarianism -- was busy liquidating millions of people in order to fulfill another set of anti-Enlightenment fantasies inspired by devotion to the Volksgeist .

The diatribe that Horkheimer and Adorno mounted against the concept of Enlightenment reminds us of an important peculiarity about the history of Enlightenment: namely, that it is a movement of thought that began as a reaction against tradition and has now emerged as one of tradition's most important safeguards. Historically, the Enlightenment arose as a deeply anti-clerical and, perforce, anti-traditional movement. Its goal, in Kant's famous phrase, was to release man from his "self-imposed immaturity."

The chief enemy of Enlightenment was "superstition," an omnibus term that included all manner of religious, philosophical, and moral ideas. But as the sociologist Edward Shils has noted, although the Enlightenment was in important respects "antithetical to tradition" in its origins, its success was due in large part "to the fact that it was promulgated and pursued in a society in which substantive traditions were rather strong." "It was successful against its enemies," Shils notes in his book Tradition (1981),

because the enemies were strong enough to resist its complete victory over them. Living on a soil of substantive traditionality, the ideas of the Enlightenment advanced without undoing themselves. As long as respect for authority on the one side and self-confidence in those exercising authority on the other persisted, the Enlightenment's ideal of emancipation through the exercise of reason went forward. It did not ravage society as it would have done had society lost all legitimacy.

It is this mature form of Enlightenment, championing reason but respectful of tradition, that Finkielkraut holds up as an ideal.

W hat Finkielkraut calls "the undoing of thought" flows from the widespread disintegration of a faith. At the center of that faith is the assumption that the life of thought is "the higher life" and that culture -- what the Germans call Bildung -- is its end or goal.

The process of disintegration has lately become an explicit attack on culture. This is not simply to say that there are many anti-intellectual elements in society: that has always been the case. "Non-thought," in Finkielkraut's phrase, has always co-existed with the life of the mind. The innovation of contemporary culture is to have obliterated the distinction between the two. "It is," he writes, "the first time in European history that non-thought has donned the same label and enjoyed the same status as thought itself, and the first time that those who, in the name of 'high culture,' dare to call this non-thought by its name, are dismissed as racists and reactionaries." The attack is perpetrated not from outside, by uncomprehending barbarians, but chiefly from inside, by a new class of barbarians, the self-made barbarians of the intelligentsia. This is the undoing of thought. This is the new "treason of the intellectuals."

There are many sides to this phenomenon. What Finkielkraut has given us is not a systematic dissection but a kind of pathologist's scrapbook. He reminds us, for example, that the multiculturalists' demand for "diversity" requires the eclipse of the individual in favor of the group . "Their most extraordinary feat," he observes, "is to have put forward as the ultimate individual liberty the unconditional primacy of the collective." Western rationalism and individualism are rejected in the name of a more "authentic" cult.

One example: Finkielkraut quotes a champion of multiculturalism who maintains that "to help immigrants means first of all respecting them for what they are, respecting whatever they aspire to in their national life, in their distinctive culture and in their attachment to their spiritual and religious roots." Would this, Finkielkraut asks, include "respecting" those religious codes which demanded that the barren woman be cast out and the adulteress be punished with death?

What about those cultures in which the testimony of one man counts for that of two women? In which female circumcision is practiced? In which slavery flourishes? In which mixed marriages are forbidden and polygamy encouraged? Multiculturalism, as Finkielkraut points out, requires that we respect such practices. To criticize them is to be dismissed as "racist" and "ethnocentric." In this secular age, "cultural identity" steps in where the transcendent once was: "Fanaticism is indefensible when it appeals to heaven, but beyond reproach when it is grounded in antiquity and cultural distinctiveness."

To a large extent, the abdication of reason demanded by multiculturalism has been the result of what we might call the subjection of culture to anthropology. Finkielkraut speaks in this context of a "cheerful confusion which raises everyday anthropological practices to the pinnacle of the human race's greatest achievements." This process began in the nineteenth century, but it has been greatly accelerated in our own age. One thinks, for example, of the tireless campaigning of that great anthropological leveler, Claude Lévi-Strauss. Lévi-Strauss is assuredly a brilliant writer, but he has also been an extraordinarily baneful influence. Already in the early 1950s, when he was pontificating for UNESCO , he was urging all and sundry to "fight against ranking cultural differences hierarchically." In La Pensée sauvage (1961), he warned against the "false antinomy between logical and prelogical mentality" and was careful in his descriptions of natives to refer to "so-called primitive thought." "So-called" indeed. In a famous article on race and history, Lévi-Strauss maintained that the barbarian was not the opposite of the civilized man but "first of all the man who believes there is such a thing as barbarism." That of course is good to know. It helps one to appreciate Lévi-Strauss's claim, in Tristes Tropiques (1955), that the "true purpose of civilization" is to produce "inertia." As one ruminates on the proposition that cultures should not be ranked hierarchically, it is also well to consider what Lévi-Strauss coyly refers to as "the positive forms of cannibalism." For Lévi-Strauss, cannibalism has been unfairly stigmatized in the "so-called" civilized West. In fact, he explains, cannibalism was "often observed with great discretion, the vital mouthful being made up of a small quantity of organic matter mixed, on occasion, with other forms of food." What, merely a "vital mouthful"? Not to worry! Only an ignoramus who believed that there were important distinctions, qualitative distinctions, between the barbarian and the civilized man could possibly think of objecting.

Of course, the attack on distinctions that Finkielkraut castigates takes place not only among cultures but also within a given culture. Here again, the anthropological imperative has played a major role. "Under the equalizing eye of social science," he writes,

hierarchies are abolished, and all the criteria of taste are exposed as arbitrary. From now on no rigid division separates masterpieces from run-of-the mill works. The same fundamental structure, the same general and elemental traits are common to the "great" novels (whose excellence will henceforth be demystified by the accompanying quotation marks) and plebian types of narrative activity.

F or confirmation of this, one need only glance at the pronouncements of our critics. Whether working in the academy or other cultural institutions, they bring us the same news: there is "no such thing" as intrinsic merit, "quality" is an only ideological construction, aesthetic value is a distillation of social power, etc., etc.

In describing this process of leveling, Finkielkraut distinguishes between those who wish to obliterate distinctions in the name of politics and those who do so out of a kind of narcissism. The multiculturalists wave the standard of radical politics and say (in the words of a nineteenth-century Russian populist slogan that Finkielkraut quotes): "A pair of boots is worth more than Shakespeare."

Those whom Finkielkraut calls "postmodernists," waving the standard of radical chic, declare that Shakespeare is no better than the latest fashion -- no better, say, than the newest item offered by Calvin Klein. The litany that Finkielkraut recites is familiar:

A comic which combines exciting intrigue and some pretty pictures is just as good as a Nabokov novel. What little Lolitas read is as good as Lolita . An effective publicity slogan counts for as much as a poem by Apollinaire or Francis Ponge . The footballer and the choreographer, the painter and the couturier, the writer and the ad-man, the musician and the rock-and-roller, are all the same: creators. We must scrap the prejudice which restricts that title to certain people and regards others as sub-cultural.

The upshot is not only that Shakespeare is downgraded, but also that the bootmaker is elevated. "It is not just that high culture must be demystified; sport, fashion and leisure now lay claim to high cultural status." A grotesque fantasy? Anyone who thinks so should take a moment to recall the major exhibition called "High & Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture" that the Museum of Modern Art mounted a few years ago: it might have been called "Krazy Kat Meets Picasso." Few events can have so consummately summed up the corrosive trivialization of culture now perpetrated by those entrusted with preserving it. Among other things, that exhibition demonstrated the extent to which the apotheosis of popular culture undermines the very possibility of appreciating high art on its own terms.

When the distinction between culture and entertainment is obliterated, high art is orphaned, exiled from the only context in which its distinctive meaning can manifest itself: Picasso becomes a kind of cartoon. This, more than any elitism or obscurity, is the real threat to culture today. As Hannah Arendt once observed, "there are many great authors of the past who have survived centuries of oblivion and neglect, but it is still an open question whether they will be able to survive an entertaining version of what they have to say."

And this brings us to the question of freedom. Finkielkraut notes that the rhetoric of postmodernism is in some ways similar to the rhetoric of Enlightenment. Both look forward to releasing man from his "self-imposed immaturity." But there is this difference: Enlightenment looks to culture as a repository of values that transcend the self, postmodernism looks to the fleeting desires of the isolated self as the only legitimate source of value.

For the postmodernist, then, "culture is no longer seen as a means of emancipation, but as one of the élitist obstacles to this." The products of culture are valuable only as a source of amusement or distraction. In order to realize the freedom that postmodernism promises, culture must be transformed into a field of arbitrary "options." "The post-modern individual," Finkielkraut writes, "is a free and easy bundle of fleeting and contingent appetites. He has forgotten that liberty involves more than the ability to change one's chains, and that culture itself is more than a satiated whim."

What Finkielkraut has understood with admirable clarity is that modern attacks on elitism represent not the extension but the destruction of culture. "Democracy," he writes, "once implied access to culture for everybody. From now on it is going to mean everyone's right to the culture of his choice." This may sound marvelous -- it is after all the slogan one hears shouted in academic and cultural institutions across the country -- but the result is precisely the opposite of what was intended.

"'All cultures are equally legitimate and everything is cultural,' is the common cry of affluent society's spoiled children and of the detractors of the West." The irony, alas, is that by removing standards and declaring that "anything goes," one does not get more culture, one gets more and more debased imitations of culture. This fraud is the dirty secret that our cultural commissars refuse to acknowledge.

There is another, perhaps even darker, result of the undoing of thought. The disintegration of faith in reason and common humanity leads not only to a destruction of standards, but also involves a crisis of courage. "A careless indifference to grand causes," Finkielkraut warns, "has its counterpart in abdication in the face of force." As the impassioned proponents of "diversity" meet the postmodern apostles of acquiescence, fanaticism mixes with apathy to challenge the commitment required to preserve freedom.

Communism may have been effectively discredited. But "what is dying along with it is not the totalitarian cast of mind, but the idea of a world common to all men."

Julien Benda took his epigraph for La Trahison des clercs from the nineteenth-century French philosopher Charles Renouvier: Le monde souffre du manque de foi en une vérité transcendante : "The world suffers from lack of faith in a transcendent truth." Without some such faith, we are powerless against the depredations of intellectuals who have embraced the nihilism of Callicles as their truth.

1 The Treason of the Intellectuals, by Julien Benda, translated by Richard Aldington, was first published in 1928. This translation is still in print from Norton.

2 La Défaite de la pensée , by Alain Finkielkraut; Gallimard, 162 pages, 72 FF . It is available in English, in a translation by Dennis O'Keeffe, as The Undoing of Thought (The Claridge Press [London], 133 pages, £6.95 paper).

Roger Kimball is Editor and Publisher of The New Criterion and President and Publisher of Encounter Books. His latest book is The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia (St. Augustine's Press)

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[Oct 05, 2019] Everything is fake in the current neoliberal discourse, be it political or economic, and it is not that easy to understand how they are deceiving us. Lies that are so sophisticated that often it is impossible to tell they are actually lies, not facts

Highly recommended!
Oct 05, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

likbez -> anne... , October 05, 2019 at 04:40 PM

Anne,

Let me serve as a devil advocate here.

Japan has a shrinking population. Can you explain to me why on the Earth they need economic growth?

This preoccupation with "growth" (with narrow and false one dimensional and very questionable measurements via GDP, which includes the FIRE sector) is a fallacy promoted by neoliberalism.

Neoliberalism proved to be quite sophisticated religions with its own set of True Believers in Eric Hoffer's terminology.

A lot of current economic statistics suffer from "mathiness".

For example, the narrow definition of unemployment used in U3 is just a classic example of pseudoscience in full bloom. It can be mentioned only if U6 mentioned first. Otherwise, this is another "opium for the people" ;-) An attempt to hide the real situation in the neoliberal "job market" in which has sustained real unemployment rate is always over 10% and which has a disappearing pool of well-paying middle-class jobs. Which produced current narco-epidemics (in 2018, 1400 people were shot in half a year in Chicago ( http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-met-weekend-shooting-violence-20180709-story.html ); imagine that). While I doubt that people will hang Pelosi on the street post, her successor might not be so lucky ;-)

Everything is fake in the current neoliberal discourse, be it political or economic, and it is not that easy to understand how they are deceiving us. Lies that are so sophisticated that often it is impossible to tell they are actually lies, not facts. The whole neoliberal society is just big an Empire of Illusions, the kingdom of lies and distortions.

I would call it a new type of theocratic state if you wish.

And probably only one in ten, if not one in a hundred economists deserve to be called scientists. Most are charlatans pushing fake papers on useless conferences.

It is simply amazing that the neoliberal society, which is based on "universal deception," can exist for so long.

[Sep 22, 2019] Neoliberalism Political Success, Economic Failure Portside by Robert Kuttner

Highly recommended!
The key to the success of neoliberal was a bunch on bought intellectual prostitutes like Milton Friedman and the drive to occupy economic departments of the the universities using money from the financial elite. which along with think tank continued mercenary army of neoliberalism who fought and win the battle with weakened New Del capitalism supporters. After that neoliberalism was from those departments like the centers of infection via indoctrination of each new generation of students. Which is a classic mixture of Bolsheviks methods and Trotskyite theory adapted tot he need of financial oligarchy.
Essentially we see the tragedy of Lysenkoism replayed in the USA. When false theory supported by financial oligarchy and then state forcefully suppressed all other economic thought and became the only politically correct theory in the USA and Western Europe.
Notable quotes:
"... The neoliberal counterrevolution, in theory and policy, has reversed or undermined nearly every aspect of managed capitalism -- from progressive taxation, welfare transfers, and antitrust, to the empowerment of workers and the regulation of banks and other major industries. ..."
"... Neoliberalism's premise is that free markets can regulate themselves; that government is inherently incompetent, captive to special interests, and an intrusion on the efficiency of the market; that in distributive terms, market outcomes are basically deserved; and that redistribution creates perverse incentives by punishing the economy's winners and rewarding its losers. So government should get out of the market's way. ..."
"... Now, after nearly half a century, the verdict is in. Virtually every one of these policies has failed, even on their own terms. ..."
"... Economic power has resulted in feedback loops of political power, in which elites make rules that bolster further concentration. ..."
"... The culprit isn't just "markets" -- some impersonal force that somehow got loose again. This is a story of power using theory. The mixed economy was undone by economic elites, who revised rules for their own benefit. They invested heavily in friendly theorists to bless this shift as sound and necessary economics, and friendly politicians to put those theories into practice. ..."
"... The grand neoliberal experiment of the past 40 years has demonstrated that markets in fact do not regulate themselves. Managed markets turn out to be more equitable and more efficient. ..."
"... The British political economist Colin Crouch captured this anomaly in a book nicely titled The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism . Why did neoliberalism not die? As Crouch observed, neoliberalism failed both as theory and as policy, but succeeded superbly as power politics for economic elites. ..."
"... The neoliberal ascendance has had another calamitous cost -- to democratic legitimacy. As government ceased to buffer market forces, daily life has become more of a struggle for ordinary people. ..."
"... After the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, ours was widely billed as an era when triumphant liberal capitalism would march hand in hand with liberal democracy. But in a few brief decades, the ostensibly secure regime of liberal democracy has collapsed in nation after nation, with echoes of the 1930s. ..."
"... As the great political historian Karl Polanyi warned, when markets overwhelm society, ordinary people often turn to tyrants. In regimes that border on neofascist, klepto-capitalists get along just fine with dictators, undermining the neoliberal premise of capitalism and democracy as complements. ..."
"... Classically, the premise of a "free market" is that government simply gets out of the way. This is nonsensical, since all markets are creatures of rules, most fundamentally rules defining property, but also rules defining credit, debt, and bankruptcy; rules defining patents, trademarks, and copyrights; rules defining terms of labor; and so on. Even deregulation requires rules. In Polanyi's words, "laissez-faire was planned." ..."
"... Around the same time, the term neoconservative was used as a self-description by former liberals who embraced conservatism, on cultural, racial, economic, and foreign-policy grounds. Neoconservatives were neoliberals in economics. ..."
"... Lavishly funded centers and tenured chairs were underwritten by the Olin, Scaife, Bradley, and other far-right foundations to promote such variants of free-market theory as law and economics, public choice, rational choice, cost-benefit analysis, maximize-shareholder-value, and kindred schools of thought. These theories colonized several academic disciplines. All were variations on the claim that markets worked and that government should get out of the way. ..."
"... Market failure was dismissed as a rare special case; government failure was said to be ubiquitous. Theorists worked hand in glove with lobbyists and with public officials. But in every major case where neoliberal theory generated policy, the result was political success and economic failure. ..."
"... For example, supply-side economics became the justification for tax cuts, on the premise that taxes punished enterprise. ..."
"... Robert Bork's "antitrust paradox," holding that antitrust enforcement actually weakened competition, was used as the doctrine to sideline the Sherman and Clayton Acts. Supposedly, if government just got out of the way, market forces would remain more competitive because monopoly pricing would invite innovation and new entrants to the market. In practice, industry after industry became more heavily concentrated. ..."
"... Human capital theory, another variant of neoliberal application of markets to partly social questions, justified deregulating labor markets and crushing labor unions. Unions supposedly used their power to get workers paid more than their market worth. Likewise minimum wage laws. But the era of depressed wages has actually seen a decline in rates of productivity growth ..."
"... Financial deregulation is neoliberalism's most palpable deregulatory failure, but far from the only one ..."
"... Air travel has been a poster child for advocates of deregulation, but the actual record is mixed at best. Airline deregulation produced serial bankruptcies of every major U.S. airline, often at the cost of worker pay and pension funds. ..."
"... Ticket prices have declined on average over the past two decades, but the traveling public suffers from a crazy quilt of fares, declining service, shrinking seats and legroom, and exorbitant penalties for the perfectly normal sin of having to change plans. ..."
"... A similar example is the privatization of transportation services such as highways and even parking meters. In several Midwestern states, toll roads have been sold to private vendors. The governor who makes the deal gains a temporary fiscal windfall, while drivers end up paying higher tolls often for decades. Investment bankers who broker the deal also take their cut. Some of the money does go into highway improvements, but that could have been done more efficiently in the traditional way via direct public ownership and competitive bidding. ..."
"... The Affordable Care Act is a form of voucher. But the regulated private insurance markets in the ACA have not fully lived up to their promise, in part because of the extensive market power retained by private insurers and in part because the right has relentlessly sought to sabotage the program -- another political feedback loop. The sponsors assumed that competition would lower costs and increase consumer choice. But in too many counties, there are three or fewer competing plans, and in some cases just one. ..."
"... In practice, this degenerates into an infinite regress of regulator versus commercial profit-maximizer, reminiscent of Mad magazine's "Spy versus Spy," with the industry doing end runs to Congress to further rig the rules. Straight-ahead public insurance such as Medicare is generally far more efficient. ..."
"... Several forms of deregulation -- of airlines, trucking, and electric power -- began not under Reagan but under Carter. Financial deregulation took off under Bill Clinton. Democratic presidents, as much as Republicans, promoted trade deals that undermined social standards. Cost-benefit analysis by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) was more of a choke point under Barack Obama than under George W. Bush. ..."
"... Dozens of nations, from Latin America to East Asia, went through this cycle of boom, bust, and then IMF pile-on. Greece is still suffering the impact. ..."
"... In fact, Japan, South Korea, smaller Asian nations, and above all China had thrived by rejecting every major tenet of neoliberalism. Their capital markets were tightly regulated and insulated from foreign speculative capital. They developed world-class industries as state-led cartels that favored domestic production and supply. East Asia got into trouble only when it followed IMF dictates to throw open capital markets, and in the aftermath they recovered by closing those markets and assembling war chests of hard currency so that they'd never again have to go begging to the IMF ..."
"... The basic argument of neoliberalism can fit on a bumper sticker. Markets work; governments don't . If you want to embellish that story, there are two corollaries: Markets embody human freedom. And with markets, people basically get what they deserve; to alter market outcomes is to spoil the poor and punish the productive. That conclusion logically flows from the premise that markets are efficient. Milton Friedman became rich, famous, and influential by teasing out the several implications of these simple premises. ..."
"... The failed neoliberal experiment also makes the case not just for better-regulated capitalism but for direct public alternatives as well. Banking, done properly, especially the provision of mortgage finance, is close to a public utility. Much of it could be public. ..."
Aug 25, 2019 | portside.org
The invisible hand is more like a thumb on the scale for the world's elites. That's why market fundamentalism has been unmasked as bogus economics but keeps winning politically. This article appears in the Summer 2019 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here .

Since the late 1970s, we've had a grand experiment to test the claim that free markets really do work best. This resurrection occurred despite the practical failure of laissez-faire in the 1930s, the resulting humiliation of free-market theory, and the contrasting success of managed capitalism during the three-decade postwar boom.

Yet when growth faltered in the 1970s, libertarian economic theory got another turn at bat. This revival proved extremely convenient for the conservatives who came to power in the 1980s. The neoliberal counterrevolution, in theory and policy, has reversed or undermined nearly every aspect of managed capitalism -- from progressive taxation, welfare transfers, and antitrust, to the empowerment of workers and the regulation of banks and other major industries.

Neoliberalism's premise is that free markets can regulate themselves; that government is inherently incompetent, captive to special interests, and an intrusion on the efficiency of the market; that in distributive terms, market outcomes are basically deserved; and that redistribution creates perverse incentives by punishing the economy's winners and rewarding its losers. So government should get out of the market's way.

By the 1990s, even moderate liberals had been converted to the belief that social objectives can be achieved by harnessing the power of markets. Intermittent periods of governance by Democratic presidents slowed but did not reverse the slide to neoliberal policy and doctrine. The corporate wing of the Democratic Party approved.

Now, after nearly half a century, the verdict is in. Virtually every one of these policies has failed, even on their own terms. Enterprise has been richly rewarded, taxes have been cut, and regulation reduced or privatized. The economy is vastly more unequal, yet economic growth is slower and more chaotic than during the era of managed capitalism. Deregulation has produced not salutary competition, but market concentration. Economic power has resulted in feedback loops of political power, in which elites make rules that bolster further concentration.

The culprit isn't just "markets" -- some impersonal force that somehow got loose again. This is a story of power using theory. The mixed economy was undone by economic elites, who revised rules for their own benefit. They invested heavily in friendly theorists to bless this shift as sound and necessary economics, and friendly politicians to put those theories into practice.

Recent years have seen two spectacular cases of market mispricing with devastating consequences: the near-depression of 2008 and irreversible climate change. The economic collapse of 2008 was the result of the deregulation of finance. It cost the real U.S. economy upwards of $15 trillion (and vastly more globally), depending on how you count, far more than any conceivable efficiency gain that might be credited to financial innovation. Free-market theory presumes that innovation is necessarily benign. But much of the financial engineering of the deregulatory era was self-serving, opaque, and corrupt -- the opposite of an efficient and transparent market.

The existential threat of global climate change reflects the incompetence of markets to accurately price carbon and the escalating costs of pollution. The British economist Nicholas Stern has aptly termed the worsening climate catastrophe history's greatest case of market failure. Here again, this is not just the result of failed theory. The entrenched political power of extractive industries and their political allies influences the rules and the market price of carbon. This is less an invisible hand than a thumb on the scale. The premise of efficient markets provides useful cover.

The grand neoliberal experiment of the past 40 years has demonstrated that markets in fact do not regulate themselves. Managed markets turn out to be more equitable and more efficient. Yet the theory and practical influence of neoliberalism marches splendidly on, because it is so useful to society's most powerful people -- as a scholarly veneer to what would otherwise be a raw power grab. The British political economist Colin Crouch captured this anomaly in a book nicely titled The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism . Why did neoliberalism not die? As Crouch observed, neoliberalism failed both as theory and as policy, but succeeded superbly as power politics for economic elites.

The neoliberal ascendance has had another calamitous cost -- to democratic legitimacy. As government ceased to buffer market forces, daily life has become more of a struggle for ordinary people. The elements of a decent middle-class life are elusive -- reliable jobs and careers, adequate pensions, secure medical care, affordable housing, and college that doesn't require a lifetime of debt. Meanwhile, life has become ever sweeter for economic elites, whose income and wealth have pulled away and whose loyalty to place, neighbor, and nation has become more contingent and less reliable.

Large numbers of people, in turn, have given up on the promise of affirmative government, and on democracy itself. After the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, ours was widely billed as an era when triumphant liberal capitalism would march hand in hand with liberal democracy. But in a few brief decades, the ostensibly secure regime of liberal democracy has collapsed in nation after nation, with echoes of the 1930s.

As the great political historian Karl Polanyi warned, when markets overwhelm society, ordinary people often turn to tyrants. In regimes that border on neofascist, klepto-capitalists get along just fine with dictators, undermining the neoliberal premise of capitalism and democracy as complements. Several authoritarian thugs, playing on tribal nationalism as the antidote to capitalist cosmopolitanism, are surprisingly popular.

It's also important to appreciate that neoliberalism is not laissez-faire. Classically, the premise of a "free market" is that government simply gets out of the way. This is nonsensical, since all markets are creatures of rules, most fundamentally rules defining property, but also rules defining credit, debt, and bankruptcy; rules defining patents, trademarks, and copyrights; rules defining terms of labor; and so on. Even deregulation requires rules. In Polanyi's words, "laissez-faire was planned."

The political question is who gets to make the rules, and for whose benefit. The neoliberalism of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman invoked free markets, but in practice the neoliberal regime has promoted rules created by and for private owners of capital, to keep democratic government from asserting rules of fair competition or countervailing social interests. The regime has rules protecting pharmaceutical giants from the right of consumers to import prescription drugs or to benefit from generics. The rules of competition and intellectual property generally have been tilted to protect incumbents. Rules of bankruptcy have been tilted in favor of creditors. Deceptive mortgages require elaborate rules, written by the financial sector and then enforced by government. Patent rules have allowed agribusiness and giant chemical companies like Monsanto to take over much of agriculture -- the opposite of open markets. Industry has invented rules requiring employees and consumers to submit to binding arbitration and to relinquish a range of statutory and common-law rights.

Neoliberalism as Theory, Policy, and Power

It's worth taking a moment to unpack the term "neoliberalism." The coinage can be confusing to American ears because the "liberal" part refers not to the word's ordinary American usage, meaning moderately left-of-center, but to classical economic liberalism otherwise known as free-market economics. The "neo" part refers to the reassertion of the claim that the laissez-faire model of the economy was basically correct after all.

Few proponents of these views embraced the term neoliberal . Mostly, they called themselves free-market conservatives. "Neoliberal" was a coinage used mainly by their critics, sometimes as a neutral descriptive term, sometimes as an epithet. The use became widespread in the era of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

To add to the confusion, a different and partly overlapping usage was advanced in the 1970s by the group around the Washington Monthly magazine. They used "neoliberal" to mean a new, less statist form of American liberalism. Around the same time, the term neoconservative was used as a self-description by former liberals who embraced conservatism, on cultural, racial, economic, and foreign-policy grounds. Neoconservatives were neoliberals in economics.

Beginning in the 1970s, resurrected free-market theory was interwoven with both conservative politics and significant investments in the production of theorists and policy intellectuals. This occurred not just in well-known conservative think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute, Heritage, Cato, and the Manhattan Institute, but through more insidious investments in academia. Lavishly funded centers and tenured chairs were underwritten by the Olin, Scaife, Bradley, and other far-right foundations to promote such variants of free-market theory as law and economics, public choice, rational choice, cost-benefit analysis, maximize-shareholder-value, and kindred schools of thought. These theories colonized several academic disciplines. All were variations on the claim that markets worked and that government should get out of the way.

Each of these bodies of sub-theory relied upon its own variant of neoliberal ideology. An intensified version of the theory of comparative advantage was used not just to cut tariffs but to use globalization as all-purpose deregulation. The theory of maximizing shareholder value was deployed to undermine the entire range of financial regulation and workers' rights. Cost-benefit analysis, emphasizing costs and discounting benefits, was used to discredit a good deal of health, safety, and environmental regulation. Public choice theory, associated with the economist James Buchanan and an entire ensuing school of economics and political science, was used to impeach democracy itself, on the premise that policies were hopelessly afflicted by "rent-seekers" and "free-riders."

Click here to read how Robert Kuttner has been unmasking the fallacies of neoliberalism for decades

Market failure was dismissed as a rare special case; government failure was said to be ubiquitous. Theorists worked hand in glove with lobbyists and with public officials. But in every major case where neoliberal theory generated policy, the result was political success and economic failure.

For example, supply-side economics became the justification for tax cuts, on the premise that taxes punished enterprise. Supposedly, if taxes were cut, especially taxes on capital and on income from capital, the resulting spur to economic activity would be so potent that deficits would be far less than predicted by "static" economic projections, and perhaps even pay for themselves. There have been six rounds of this experiment, from the tax cuts sponsored by Jimmy Carter in 1978 to the immense 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed by Donald Trump. In every case some economic stimulus did result, mainly from the Keynesian jolt to demand, but in every case deficits increased significantly. Conservatives simply stopped caring about deficits. The tax cuts were often inefficient as well as inequitable, since the loopholes steered investment to tax-favored uses rather than the most economically logical ones. Dozens of America's most profitable corporations paid no taxes.

Robert Bork's "antitrust paradox," holding that antitrust enforcement actually weakened competition, was used as the doctrine to sideline the Sherman and Clayton Acts. Supposedly, if government just got out of the way, market forces would remain more competitive because monopoly pricing would invite innovation and new entrants to the market. In practice, industry after industry became more heavily concentrated. Incumbents got in the habit of buying out innovators or using their market power to crush them. This pattern is especially insidious in the tech economy of platform monopolies, where giants that provide platforms, such as Google and Amazon, use their market power and superior access to customer data to out-compete rivals who use their platforms. Markets, once again, require rules beyond the benign competence of the market actors themselves. Only democratic government can set equitable rules. And when democracy falters, undemocratic governments in cahoots with corrupt private plutocrats will make the rules.

Human capital theory, another variant of neoliberal application of markets to partly social questions, justified deregulating labor markets and crushing labor unions. Unions supposedly used their power to get workers paid more than their market worth. Likewise minimum wage laws. But the era of depressed wages has actually seen a decline in rates of productivity growth. Conversely, does any serious person think that the inflated pay of the financial moguls who crashed the economy accurately reflects their contribution to economic activity? In the case of hedge funds and private equity, the high incomes of fund sponsors are the result of transfers of wealth and income from employees, other stakeholders, and operating companies to the fund managers, not the fruits of more efficient management.

There is a broad literature discrediting this body of pseudo-scholarly work in great detail. Much of neoliberalism represents the ever-reliable victory of assumption over evidence. Yet neoliberal theory lived on because it was so convenient for elites, and because of the inertial power of the intellectual capital that had been created. The well-funded neoliberal habitat has provided comfortable careers for two generations of scholars and pseudo-scholars who migrate between academia, think tanks, K Street, op-ed pages, government, Wall Street, and back again. So even if the theory has been demolished both by scholarly rebuttal and by events, it thrives in powerful institutions and among their political allies.

The Practical Failure of Neoliberal Policies

Financial deregulation is neoliberalism's most palpable deregulatory failure, but far from the only one. Electricity deregulation on balance has increased monopoly power and raised costs to consumers, but has failed to offer meaningful "shopping around" opportunities to bring down prices. We have gone from regulated monopolies with predictable earnings, costs, wages, and consumer protections to deregulated monopolies or oligopolies with substantial pricing power. Since the Bell breakup, the telephone system tells a similar story of re-concentration, dwindling competition, price-gouging, and union-bashing.

Air travel has been a poster child for advocates of deregulation, but the actual record is mixed at best. Airline deregulation produced serial bankruptcies of every major U.S. airline, often at the cost of worker pay and pension funds.

Ticket prices have declined on average over the past two decades, but the traveling public suffers from a crazy quilt of fares, declining service, shrinking seats and legroom, and exorbitant penalties for the perfectly normal sin of having to change plans. Studies have shown that fares actually declined at a faster rate in the 20 years before deregulation in 1978 than in the 20 years afterward, because the prime source of greater efficiency in airline travel is the introduction of more fuel-efficient planes.

The roller-coaster experience of airline profits and losses has reduced the capacity of airlines to purchase more fuel-efficient aircraft, and the average age of the fleet keeps increasing. The use of "fortress hubs" to defend market pricing power has reduced the percentage of nonstop flights, the most efficient way to fly from one point to another.

Robert Bork's spurious arguments that antitrust enforcement hurt competition became the basis for dismantling antitrust. Massive concentration resulted. Charles Tasnadi/AP Photo

In addition to deregulation, three prime areas of practical neoliberal policies are the use of vouchers as "market-like" means to social goals, the privatization of public services, and the use of tax subsides rather than direct outlays. In every case, government revenues are involved, so this is far from a free market to begin with. But the premise is that market disciplines can achieve public purposes more efficiently than direct public provision.

The evidence provides small comfort for these claims. One core problem is that the programs invariably give too much to the for-profit middlemen at the expense of the intended beneficiaries. A related problem is that the process of using vouchers and contracts invites corruption. It is a different form of "rent-seeking" -- pursuit of monopoly profits -- than that attributed to government by public choice theorists, but corruption nonetheless. Often, direct public provision is far more transparent and accountable than a web of contractors.

A further problem is that in practice there is often far less competition than imagined, because of oligopoly power, vendor lock-in, and vendor political influence. These experiments in marketization to serve social goals do not operate in some Platonic policy laboratory, where the only objective is true market efficiency yoked to the public good. They operate in the grubby world of practical politics, where the vendors are closely allied with conservative politicians whose purposes may be to discredit social transfers entirely, or to reward corporate allies, or to benefit from kickbacks either directly or as campaign contributions.

Privatized prisons are a case in point. A few large, scandal-ridden companies have gotten most of the contracts, often through political influence. Far from bringing better quality and management efficiency, they have profited by diverting operating funds and worsening conditions that were already deplorable, and finding new ways to charge inmates higher fees for necessary services such as phone calls. To the extent that money was actually saved, most of the savings came from reducing the pay and professionalism of guards, increasing overcrowding, and decreasing already inadequate budgets for food and medical care.

A similar example is the privatization of transportation services such as highways and even parking meters. In several Midwestern states, toll roads have been sold to private vendors. The governor who makes the deal gains a temporary fiscal windfall, while drivers end up paying higher tolls often for decades. Investment bankers who broker the deal also take their cut. Some of the money does go into highway improvements, but that could have been done more efficiently in the traditional way via direct public ownership and competitive bidding.

Housing vouchers substantially reward landlords who use the vouchers to fill empty houses with poor people until the neighborhood gentrifies, at which point the owner is free to quit the program and charge market rentals. Thus public funds are used to underwrite a privately owned, quasi-social housing sector -- whose social character is only temporary. No permanent social housing is produced despite the extensive public outlay. The companion use of tax incentives to attract passive investment in affordable housing promotes economically inefficient tax shelters, and shunts public funds into the pockets of the investors -- money that might otherwise have gone directly to the housing.

The Affordable Care Act is a form of voucher. But the regulated private insurance markets in the ACA have not fully lived up to their promise, in part because of the extensive market power retained by private insurers and in part because the right has relentlessly sought to sabotage the program -- another political feedback loop. The sponsors assumed that competition would lower costs and increase consumer choice. But in too many counties, there are three or fewer competing plans, and in some cases just one.

As more insurance plans and hospital systems become for-profit, massive investment goes into such wasteful activities as manipulation of billing, "risk selection," and other gaming of the rules. Our mixed-market system of health care requires massive regulation to work with tolerable efficiency. In practice, this degenerates into an infinite regress of regulator versus commercial profit-maximizer, reminiscent of Mad magazine's "Spy versus Spy," with the industry doing end runs to Congress to further rig the rules. Straight-ahead public insurance such as Medicare is generally far more efficient.

An extensive literature has demonstrated that for-profit voucher schools do no better and often do worse than comparable public schools, and are vulnerable to multiple forms of gaming and corruption. Proprietors of voucher schools are superb at finding ways of excluding costly special-needs students, so that those costs are imposed on what remains of public schools; they excel at gaming test results. While some voucher and charter schools, especially nonprofit ones, sometimes improve on average school performance, so do many public schools. The record is also muddied by the fact that many ostensibly nonprofit schools contract out management to for-profit companies.

Tax preferences have long been used ostensibly to serve social goals. The Earned Income Tax Credit is considered one of the more successful cases of using market-like measures -- in this case a refundable tax credit -- to achieve the social goal of increasing worker take-home pay. It has also been touted as the rare case of bipartisan collaboration. Liberals get more money for workers. Conservatives get to reward the deserving poor, since the EITC is conditioned on employment. Conservatives get a further ideological win, since the EITC is effectively a wage subsidy from the government, but is experienced as a tax refund rather than a benefit of government.

Recent research, however, shows that the EITC is primarily a subsidy of low-wage employers, who are able to pay their workers a lot less than a market-clearing wage. In industries such as nursing homes or warehouses, where many workers qualified for the EITC work side by side with ones not eligible, the non-EITC workers get substandard wages. The existence of the EITC depresses the level of the wages that have to come out of the employer's pocket.

Neoliberalism's Influence on Liberals

As free-market theory resurged, many moderate liberals embraced these policies. In the inflationary 1970s, regulation became a scapegoat that supposedly deterred salutary price competition. Some, such as economist Alfred Kahn, President Carter's adviser on deregulation, supported deregulation on what he saw as the merits. Other moderates supported neoliberal policies opportunistically, to curry favor with powerful industries and donors. Market-like policies were also embraced by liberals as a tactical way to find common ground with conservatives.

Several forms of deregulation -- of airlines, trucking, and electric power -- began not under Reagan but under Carter. Financial deregulation took off under Bill Clinton. Democratic presidents, as much as Republicans, promoted trade deals that undermined social standards. Cost-benefit analysis by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) was more of a choke point under Barack Obama than under George W. Bush.

"Command and control" became an all-purpose pejorative for disparaging perfectly sensible and efficient regulation. "Market-like" became a fashionable concept, not just on the free-market right but on the moderate left. Cass Sunstein, who served as Obama's anti-regulation czar,uses the example of "nudges" as a more market-like and hence superior alternative to direct regulation, though with rare exceptions their impact is trivial. Moreover, nudges only work in tandem with regulation.

There are indeed some interventionist policies that use market incentives to serve social goals. But contrary to free-market theory, the market-like incentives first require substantial regulation and are not a substitute for it. A good example is the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, which used tradable emission rights to cut the output of sulfur dioxide, the cause of acid rain. This was supported by both the George H.W. Bush administration and by leading Democrats. But before the trading regime could work, Congress first had to establish permissible ceilings on sulfur dioxide output -- pure command and control.

There are many other instances, such as nutrition labeling, truth-in-lending, and disclosure of EPA gas mileage results, where the market-like premise of a better-informed consumer complements command regulation but is no substitute for it. Nearly all of the increase in fuel efficiency, for example, is the result of command regulations that require auto fleets to hit a gas mileage target. The fact that EPA gas mileage figures are prominently disclosed on new car stickers may have modest influence, but motor fuels are so underpriced that car companies have success selling gas-guzzlers despite the consumer labeling.

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Bill Clinton and his Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, were big promoters of financial deregulation.

Politically, whatever rationale there was for liberals to make common ground with libertarians is now largely gone. The authors of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made no attempt to meet Democrats partway; they excluded the opposition from the legislative process entirely. This was opportunistic tax cutting for elites, pure and simple. The right today also abandoned the quest for a middle ground on environmental policy, on anti-poverty policy, on health policy -- on virtually everything. Neoliberal ideology did its historic job of weakening intellectual and popular support for the proposition that affirmative government can better the lives of citizens and that the Democratic Party is a reliable steward of that social compact. Since Reagan, the right's embrace of the free market has evolved from partly principled idealism into pure opportunism and obstruction.

Neoliberalism and Hyper-Globalism

The post-1990 rules of globalization, supported by conservatives and moderate liberals alike, are the quintessence of neoliberalism. At Bretton Woods in 1944, the use of fixed exchange rates and controls on speculative private capital, plus the creation of the IMFand World Bank, were intended to allow member countries to practice national forms of managed capitalism, insulated from the destructive and deflationary influences of short-term speculative private capital flows. As doctrine and power shifted in the 1970s, the IMF, the World Bank, and later the WTO, which replaced the old GATT, mutated into their ideological opposite. Rather than instruments of support for mixed national economies, they became enforcers of neoliberal policies.

The standard package of the "Washington Consensus" of approved policies for developing nations included demands that they open their capital markets to speculative private finance, as well as cutting taxes on capital, weakening social transfers, and gutting labor regulation and public ownership. But private capital investment in poor countries proved to be fickle. The result was often excessive inflows during the boom part of the cycle and punitive withdrawals during the bust -- the opposite of the patient, long-term development capital that these countries needed and that was provided by the World Bank of an earlier era. During the bust phase, the IMF typically imposes even more stringent neoliberal demands as the price of financial bailouts, including perverse budgetary austerity, supposedly to restore the confidence of the very speculative capital markets responsible for the boom-bust cycle.

Dozens of nations, from Latin America to East Asia, went through this cycle of boom, bust, and then IMF pile-on. Greece is still suffering the impact. After 1990, hyper-globalism also included trade treaties whose terms favored multinational corporations. Traditionally, trade agreements had been mainly about reciprocal reductions of tariffs. Nations were free to have whatever brand of regulation, public investment, or social policies they chose. With the advent of the WTO, many policies other than tariffs were branded as trade distorting, even as takings without compensation. Trade deals were used to give foreign capital free access and to dismantle national regulation and public ownership. Special courts were created in which foreign corporations and investors could do end runs around national authorities to challenge regulation for impeding commerce.

At first, the sponsors of the new trade regime tried to claim the successful economies of East Asia as evidence of the success of the neoliberal recipe. Supposedly, these nations had succeeded by pursuing "export-led growth," exposing their domestic economies to salutary competition. But these claims were soon exposed as the opposite of what had actually occurred. In fact, Japan, South Korea, smaller Asian nations, and above all China had thrived by rejecting every major tenet of neoliberalism. Their capital markets were tightly regulated and insulated from foreign speculative capital. They developed world-class industries as state-led cartels that favored domestic production and supply. East Asia got into trouble only when it followed IMF dictates to throw open capital markets, and in the aftermath they recovered by closing those markets and assembling war chests of hard currency so that they'd never again have to go begging to the IMF. Enthusiasts of hyper-globalization also claimed that it benefited poor countries by increasing export opportunities, but as the success of East Asia shows, there is more than one way to boost exports -- and many poorer countries suffered under the terms of the global neoliberal regime.

Nor was the damage confined to the developing world. As the work of Harvard economist Dani Rodrik has demonstrated, democracy requires a polity. For better or for worse, the polity and democratic citizenship are national. By enhancing the global market at the expense of the democratic state, the current brand of hyper-globalization deliberately weakens the capacity of states to regulate markets, and weakens democracy itself.

When Do Markets Work?

The failure of neoliberalism as economic and social policy does not mean that markets never work. A command economy is even more utopian and perverse than a neoliberal one. The practical quest is for an efficient and equitable middle ground.

The neoliberal story of how the economy operates assumes a largely frictionless marketplace, where prices are set by supply and demand, and the price mechanism allocates resources to their optimal use in the economy as a whole. For this discipline to work as advertised, however, there can be no market power, competition must be plentiful, sellers and buyers must have roughly equal information, and there can be no significant externalities. Much of the 20th century was practical proof that these conditions did not describe a good part of the actual economy. And if markets priced things wrong, the market system did not aggregate to an efficient equilibrium, and depressions could become self-deepening. As Keynes demonstrated, only a massive jolt of government spending could restart the engines, even if market pricing was partly violated in the process.

Nonetheless, in many sectors of the economy, the process of buying and selling is close enough to the textbook conditions of perfect competition that the price system works tolerably well. Supermarkets, for instance, deliver roughly accurate prices because of the consumer's freedom and knowledge to shop around. Likewise much of retailing. However, when we get into major realms of the economy with positive or negative externalities, such as education and health, markets are not sufficient. And in other major realms, such as pharmaceuticals, where corporations use their political power to rig the terms of patents, the market doesn't produce a cure.

The basic argument of neoliberalism can fit on a bumper sticker. Markets work; governments don't . If you want to embellish that story, there are two corollaries: Markets embody human freedom. And with markets, people basically get what they deserve; to alter market outcomes is to spoil the poor and punish the productive. That conclusion logically flows from the premise that markets are efficient. Milton Friedman became rich, famous, and influential by teasing out the several implications of these simple premises.

It is much harder to articulate the case for a mixed economy than the case for free markets, precisely because the mixed economy is mixed. The rebuttal takes several paragraphs. The more complex story holds that markets are substantially efficient in some realms but far from efficient in others, because of positive and negative externalities, the tendency of financial markets to create cycles of boom and bust, the intersection of self-interest and corruption, the asymmetry of information between company and consumer, the asymmetry of power between corporation and employee, the power of the powerful to rig the rules, and the fact that there are realms of human life (the right to vote, human liberty, security of one's person) that should not be marketized.

And if markets are not perfectly efficient, then distributive questions are partly political choices. Some societies pay pre-K teachers the minimum wage as glorified babysitters. Others educate and compensate them as professionals. There is no "correct" market-derived wage, because pre-kindergarten is a social good and the issue of how to train and compensate teachers is a social choice, not a market choice. The same is true of the other human services, including medicine. Nor is there a theoretically correct set of rules for patents, trademarks, and copyrights. These are politically derived, either balancing the interests of innovation with those of diffusion -- or being politically captured by incumbent industries.

Governments can in principle improve on market outcomes via regulation, but that fact is complicated by the risk of regulatory capture. So another issue that arises is market failure versus polity failure, which brings us back to the urgency of strong democracy and effective government.

After Neoliberalism

The political reversal of neoliberalism can only come through practical politics and policies that demonstrate how government often can serve citizens more equitably and efficiently than markets. Revision of theory will take care of itself. There is no shortage of dissenting theorists and empirical policy researchers whose scholarly work has been vindicated by events. What they need is not more theory but more influence, both in the academy and in the corridors of power. They are available to advise a new progressive administration, if that administration can get elected and if it refrains from hiring neoliberal advisers.

There are also some relatively new areas that invite policy innovation. These include regulation of privacy rights versus entrepreneurial liberties in the digital realm; how to think of the internet as a common carrier; how to update competition and antitrust policy as platform monopolies exert new forms of market power; how to modernize labor-market policy in the era of the gig economy; and the role of deeper income supplements as machines replace human workers.

The failed neoliberal experiment also makes the case not just for better-regulated capitalism but for direct public alternatives as well. Banking, done properly, especially the provision of mortgage finance, is close to a public utility. Much of it could be public. A great deal of research is done more honestly and more cost-effectively in public, peer-reviewed institutions such as the NIH than by a substantially corrupt private pharmaceutical industry.

Social housing often is more cost-effective than so-called public-private partnerships. Public power is more efficient to generate, less prone to monopolistic price-gouging, and friendlier to the needed green transition than private power. The public option in health care is far more efficient than the current crazy quilt in which each layer of complexity adds opacity and cost. Public provision does require public oversight, but that is more straightforward and transparent than the byzantine dance of regulation and counter-regulation.

The two other benefits of direct public provision are that the public gets direct evidence of government delivering something of value, and that the countervailing power of democracy to harness markets is enhanced. A mixed economy depends above all on a strong democracy -- one even stronger than the democracy that succumbed to the corrupting influence of economic elites and their neoliberal intellectual allies beginning half a century ago. The antidote to the resurrected neoliberal fable is the resurrection of democracy -- strong enough to tame the market in a way that tames it for keeps.


Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, and professor at Brandeis University's Heller School. His latest book is The Stakes: 2020 and the Survival of American Democracy . In addition to writing for the Prospect, he writes for HuffPost, The Boston Globe, and The New York Review of Books.

Read the original article at Prospect.org.

Used with the permission. © The American Prospect, Prospect.org, 2019. All rights reserved.

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[Sep 19, 2019] Form vs. substance in the neoliberal university

Highly recommended!
This is a classic catch 22 situation with this "oath" described below...
Also I think a lot of professors of neo-classical economics look like the member of Komsomol described below ;-) For them it is about opening new opportunities for advancement not about the truth and the level of corresponding to the reality of this pseudo-scientific neo-classical garbage, with the smoke screen of mathematics as a lipstick on the pig (mathiness)
Most such people will teach students complete garbage understanding that this is a complete garbage with a smile. Still, in in Soviet way it is possible for some to accept the position and work to undermine neo-classical economics acting within the institution using Aesopian language in lectures and papers.
The book Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More The Last Soviet Generation (In-Formation) by Alexei Yurchak is a recommended reading for those who want to understand the perversion of neoliberal way of life in the USA today, as they mirror the perversions of Soviet life in a very uncanny way.
Notable quotes:
"... Consider an example from the contemporary United States. Today a number of private universities, colleges, and schools in several states require teachers and professors to take a "loyalty oath" to ensure that they do not "hold or foster undesirable political beliefs.... ..."
"... From a political standpoint she disagreed with the practice of taking loyalty oaths, and later, in her role as professor of the sociology of law, she voiced political positions counter to those mentioned in the oath and challenged the oath-taking practice itself. ..."
"... However, before she could do this, she first had to take the oath, understanding that without this act she would not be employed or recognized by the institution as a legitimate member with a voice authorized to participate in teaching, research, and the institution's politics (committees, meetings, elections, and so forth), including even the possibility to question publicly the practice of taking oaths. ..."
"... "The oath did not mean much if you took it, but it meant a lot if you didn't." ..."
"... However, "when a vote had to be taken, everyone roused -- a certain sensor clicked in the head: 'Who is in favor?' -- and you raised your hand automatically" (see a discussion of such ritualized practices within the Komsomol in chapter a). ..."
"... Participating in these acts reproduced oneself as a "normal" Soviet person within the system of relations, collectivities, and subject positions, with all the constraints and possibilities that position entailed, even including the possibility, after the meetings, to engage in interests, pursuits, and meanings that ran against those that were stated in the resolutions one had voted for. ..."
"... These acts are not about stating facts and describing opinions but about doing things and opening new possibilities. ..."
Sep 19, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Originally from: Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More The Last Soviet Generation (In-Formation) by Alexei Yurchak

formal Shift

A general shift at the level of concrete ritualized forms of discourse, in which the formal dimension's importance grows, while the
informal, substantiative dimension opens up to new meanings, can and does occur in different historical and cultural contexts.

Consider an example from the contemporary United States. Today a number of private universities, colleges, and schools in several states require teachers and professors to take a "loyalty oath" to ensure that they do not "hold or foster undesirable political beliefs....

While the statutes vary, [these institutions] generally deny the right to teach to those who cannot or will not take the loyalty oath" (Chin and Rao 2003, 431 -32). Recently, a sociologist of law took such a loyalty oath at a Midwestern university when her appointment as a professor began.

From a political standpoint she disagreed with the practice of taking loyalty oaths, and later, in her role as professor of the sociology of law, she voiced political positions counter to those mentioned in the oath and challenged the oath-taking practice itself.

However, before she could do this, she first had to take the oath, understanding that without this act she would not be employed or recognized by the institution as a legitimate member with a voice authorized to participate in teaching, research, and the institution's politics (committees, meetings, elections, and so forth), including even the possibility to question publicly the practice of taking oaths.

Here, the informal, substantiative dimension of the ritualized act experiences a shift, while the formal dimension remains fixed and important: taking the oath opens a world of possibilities where new informal, substantiative meanings become possible, including a professorial position with a recognized political voice within the institution. In the sociologist's words, "The oath did not mean much if you took it, but it meant a lot if you didn't." 3 ^

This example illustrates the general principle of how some discursive acts or whole types of discourse can drift historically in the direction of an increasingly expanding formal dimension and increasingly open or even irrelevant informal, substantiative dimension. During Soviet late socialism, the formal dimension of speech acts at formal gathering and rituals became particularly important in most contexts and during most events.

One person who participated in large Komsomol meetings in the 1970s and 1980s described how he often spent the meetings reading a book. However, "when a vote had to be taken, everyone roused -- a certain sensor clicked in the head: 'Who is in favor?' -- and you raised your hand automatically" (see a discussion of such ritualized practices within the Komsomol in chapter a).

Here the emphasis on the formal dimension of organizational discourse was unique both in scale and substance. Most ritualized acts of "organizational discourse" during this time underwent such a transformation.

Participating in these acts reproduced oneself as a "normal" Soviet person within the system of relations, collectivities, and subject positions, with all the constraints and possibilities that position entailed, even including the possibility, after the meetings, to engage in interests, pursuits, and meanings that ran against those that were stated in the resolutions one had voted for.

It would obviously be wrong to see these acts of voting simply as informal, substantiative statements about supporting the resolution that are either true (real support) or false (dissimulation of support). These acts are not about stating facts and describing opinions but about doing things and opening new possibilities.

[Sep 10, 2019] Neoliberal Capitalism at a Dead End by Utsa Patnaik and Prabhat Patnaik

Highly recommended!
This is a Marxist critique of neoliberalism. Not necessary right but they his some relevant points.
Notable quotes:
"... The ideology of neoliberal capitalism was the promise of growth. But with neoliberal capitalism reaching a dead end, this promise disappears and so does this ideological prop. ..."
"... The ex ante tendency toward overproduction arises because the vector of real wages across countries does not increase noticeably over time in the world economy, while the vector of labor productivities does, typically resulting in a rise in the share of surplus in world output. ..."
"... While the rise in the vector of labor productivities across countries, a ubiquitous phenomenon under capitalism that also characterizes neoliberal capitalism, scarcely requires an explanation, why does the vector of real wages remain virtually stagnant in the world economy? The answer lies in the sui generis character of contemporary globalization that, for the first time in the history of capitalism, has led to a relocation of activity from the metropolis to third world countries in order to take advantage of the lower wages prevailing in the latter and meet global demand. ..."
"... The current globalization broke with this. The movement of capital from the metropolis to the third world, especially to East, South, and Southeast Asia to relocate plants there and take advantage of their lower wages for meeting global demand, has led to a desegmentation of the world economy, subjecting metropolitan wages to the restraining effect exercised by the third world's labor reserves. Not surprisingly, as Joseph Stiglitz has pointed out, the real-wage rate of an average male U.S. worker in 2011 was no higher -- indeed, it was marginally lower -- than it had been in 1968. 5 ..."
"... This ever-present opposition becomes decisive within a regime of globalization. As long as finance capital remains national -- that is, nation-based -- and the state is a nation-state, the latter can override this opposition under certain circumstances, such as in the post-Second World War period when capitalism was facing an existential crisis. But when finance capital is globalized, meaning, when it is free to move across country borders while the state remains a nation-state, its opposition to fiscal deficits becomes decisive. If the state does run large fiscal deficits against its wishes, then it would simply leave that country en masse , causing a financial crisis. ..."
"... The state therefore capitulates to the demands of globalized finance capital and eschews direct fiscal intervention for increasing demand. It resorts to monetary policy instead since that operates through wealth holders' decisions, and hence does not undermine their social position. But, precisely for this reason, monetary policy is an ineffective instrument, as was evident in the United States in the aftermath of the 2007–09 crisis when even the pushing of interest rates down to zero scarcely revived activity. 6 ..."
"... If Trump's protectionism, which recalls the Smoot-Hawley tariff of 1931 and amounts to a beggar-my-neighbor policy, does lead to a significant export of unemployment from the United States, then it will invite retaliation and trigger a trade war that will only worsen the crisis for the world economy as a whole by dampening global investment. Indeed, since the United States has been targeting China in particular, some retaliatory measures have already appeared. But if U.S. protectionism does not invite generalized retaliation, it would only be because the export of unemployment from the United States is insubstantial, keeping unemployment everywhere, including in the United States, as precarious as it is now. However we look at it, the world would henceforth face higher levels of unemployment. ..."
"... The second implication of this dead end is that the era of export-led growth is by and large over for third world economies. The slowing down of world economic growth, together with protectionism in the United States against successful third world exporters, which could even spread to other metropolitan economies, suggests that the strategy of relying on the world market to generate domestic growth has run out of steam. Third world economies, including the ones that have been very successful at exporting, would now have to rely much more on their home market ..."
"... In other words, we shall now have an intensification of the imperialist stranglehold over third world economies, especially those pushed into unsustainable balance-of-payments deficits in the new situation. By imperialism , here we do not mean the imperialism of this or that major power, but the imperialism of international finance capital, with which even domestic big bourgeoisies are integrated, directed against their own working people ..."
"... In short, the ideology of neoliberal capitalism was the promise of growth. But with neoliberal capitalism reaching a dead end, this promise disappears and so does this ideological prop. To sustain itself, neoliberal capitalism starts looking for some other ideological prop and finds fascism. ..."
"... The first is the so-called spontaneous method of capital flight. Any political formation that seeks to take the country out of the neoliberal regime will witness capital flight even before it has been elected to office, bringing the country to a financial crisis and thereby denting its electoral prospects. And if perchance it still gets elected, the outflow will only increase, even before it assumes office. The inevitable difficulties faced by the people may well make the government back down at that stage. The sheer difficulty of transition away from a neoliberal regime could be enough to bring even a government based on the support of workers and peasants to its knees, precisely to save them short-term distress or to avoid losing their support. ..."
"... The third weapon consists in carrying out so-called democratic or parliamentary coups of the sort that Latin America has been experiencing. Coups in the old days were effected through the local armed forces and necessarily meant the imposition of military dictatorships in lieu of civilian, democratically elected governments. Now, taking advantage of the disaffection generated within countries by the hardships caused by capital flight and imposed sanctions, imperialism promotes coups through fascist or fascist-sympathizing middle-class political elements in the name of restoring democracy, which is synonymous with the pursuit of neoliberalism. ..."
"... And if all these measures fail, there is always the possibility of resorting to economic warfare (such as destroying Venezuela's electricity supply), and eventually to military warfare. Venezuela today provides a classic example of what imperialist intervention in a third world country is going to look like in the era of decline of neoliberal capitalism, when revolts are going to characterize such countries more and more. ..."
"... Despite this opposition, neoliberal capitalism cannot ward off the challenge it is facing for long. It has no vision for reinventing itself. Interestingly, in the period after the First World War, when capitalism was on the verge of sinking into a crisis, the idea of state intervention as a way of its revival had already been mooted, though its coming into vogue only occurred at the end of the Second World War. 11 Today, neoliberal capitalism does not even have an idea of how it can recover and revitalize itself. And weapons like domestic fascism in the third world and direct imperialist intervention cannot for long save it from the anger of the masses that is building up against it. ..."
Aug 25, 2019 | portside.org
Originally from: Monthly Review printer friendly
The ideology of neoliberal capitalism was the promise of growth. But with neoliberal capitalism reaching a dead end, this promise disappears and so does this ideological prop.

Harry Magdoff's The Age of Imperialism is a classic work that shows how postwar political decolonization does not negate the phenomenon of imperialism. The book has two distinct aspects. On the one hand, it follows in V. I. Lenin's footsteps in providing a comprehensive account of how capitalism at the time operated globally. On the other hand, it raises a question that is less frequently discussed in Marxist literature -- namely, the need for imperialism. Here, Magdoff not only highlighted the crucial importance, among other things, of the third world's raw materials for metropolitan capital, but also refuted the argument that the declining share of raw-material value in gross manufacturing output somehow reduced this importance, making the simple point that there can be no manufacturing at all without raw materials. 1

Magdoff's focus was on a period when imperialism was severely resisting economic decolonization in the third world, with newly independent third world countries taking control over their own resources. He highlighted the entire armory of weapons used by imperialism. But he was writing in a period that predated the onset of neoliberalism. Today, we not only have decades of neoliberalism behind us, but the neoliberal regime itself has reached a dead end. Contemporary imperialism has to be discussed within this setting.

Globalization and Economic Crisis

There are two reasons why the regime of neoliberal globalization has run into a dead end. The first is an ex ante tendency toward global overproduction; the second is that the only possible counter to this tendency within the regime is the formation of asset-price bubbles, which cannot be conjured up at will and whose collapse, if they do appear, plunges the economy back into crisis. In short, to use the words of British economic historian Samuel Berrick Saul, there are no "markets on tap" for contemporary metropolitan capitalism, such as had been provided by colonialism prior to the First World War and by state expenditure in the post-Second World War period of dirigisme . 2

The ex ante tendency toward overproduction arises because the vector of real wages across countries does not increase noticeably over time in the world economy, while the vector of labor productivities does, typically resulting in a rise in the share of surplus in world output. As Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy argued in Monopoly Capital , following the lead of Michał Kalecki and Josef Steindl, such a rise in the share of economic surplus, or a shift from wages to surplus, has the effect of reducing aggregate demand since the ratio of consumption to income is higher on average for wage earners than for those living off the surplus. 3 Therefore, assuming a given level of investment associated with any period, such a shift would tend to reduce consumption demand and hence aggregate demand, output, and capacity utilization. In turn, reduced capacity utilization would lower investment over time, further aggravating the demand-reducing effect arising from the consumption side.

While the rise in the vector of labor productivities across countries, a ubiquitous phenomenon under capitalism that also characterizes neoliberal capitalism, scarcely requires an explanation, why does the vector of real wages remain virtually stagnant in the world economy? The answer lies in the sui generis character of contemporary globalization that, for the first time in the history of capitalism, has led to a relocation of activity from the metropolis to third world countries in order to take advantage of the lower wages prevailing in the latter and meet global demand.

Historically, while labor has not been, and is still not, free to migrate from the third world to the metropolis, capital, though juridically free to move from the latter to the former, did not actually do so , except to sectors like mines and plantations, which only strengthened, rather than broke, the colonial pattern of the international division of labor. 4 This segmentation of the world economy meant that wages in the metropolis increased with labor productivity, unrestrained by the vast labor reserves of the third world, which themselves had been caused by the displacement of manufactures through the twin processes of deindustrialization (competition from metropolitan goods) and the drain of surplus (the siphoning off of a large part of the economic surplus, through taxes on peasants that are no longer spent on local artisan products but finance gratis primary commodity exports to the metropolis instead).

The current globalization broke with this. The movement of capital from the metropolis to the third world, especially to East, South, and Southeast Asia to relocate plants there and take advantage of their lower wages for meeting global demand, has led to a desegmentation of the world economy, subjecting metropolitan wages to the restraining effect exercised by the third world's labor reserves. Not surprisingly, as Joseph Stiglitz has pointed out, the real-wage rate of an average male U.S. worker in 2011 was no higher -- indeed, it was marginally lower -- than it had been in 1968. 5

At the same time, such relocation of activities, despite causing impressive growth rates of gross domestic product (GDP) in many third world countries, does not lead to the exhaustion of the third world's labor reserves. This is because of another feature of contemporary globalization: the unleashing of a process of primitive accumulation of capital against petty producers, including peasant agriculturists in the third world, who had earlier been protected, to an extent, from the encroachment of big capital (both domestic and foreign) by the postcolonial dirigiste regimes in these countries. Under neoliberalism, such protection is withdrawn, causing an income squeeze on these producers and often their outright dispossession from their land, which is then used by big capital for its various so-called development projects. The increase in employment, even in countries with impressive GDP growth rates in the third world, falls way short of the natural growth of the workforce, let alone absorbing the additional job seekers coming from the ranks of displaced petty producers. The labor reserves therefore never get used up. Indeed, on the contrary, they are augmented further, because real wages continue to remain tied to a subsistence level, even as metropolitan wages too are restrained. The vector of real wages in the world economy as a whole therefore remains restrained.

Although contemporary globalization thus gives rise to an ex ante tendency toward overproduction, state expenditure that could provide a counter to this (and had provided a counter through military spending in the United States, according to Baran and Sweezy) can no longer do so under the current regime. Finance is usually opposed to direct state intervention through larger spending as a way of increasing employment. This opposition expresses itself through an opposition not just to larger taxes on capitalists, but also to a larger fiscal deficit for financing such spending. Obviously, if larger state spending is financed by taxes on workers, then it hardly adds to aggregate demand, for workers spend the bulk of their incomes anyway, so the state taking this income and spending it instead does not add any extra demand. Hence, larger state spending can increase employment only if it is financed either through a fiscal deficit or through taxes on capitalists who keep a part of their income unspent or saved. But these are precisely the two modes of financing state expenditure that finance capital opposes.

Its opposing larger taxes on capitalists is understandable, but why is it so opposed to a larger fiscal deficit? Even within a capitalist economy, there are no sound economic theoretical reasons that should preclude a fiscal deficit under all circumstances. The root of the opposition therefore lies in deeper social considerations: if the capitalist economic system becomes dependent on the state to promote employment directly , then this fact undermines the social legitimacy of capitalism. The need for the state to boost the animal spirits of the capitalists disappears and a perspective on the system that is epistemically exterior to it is provided to the people, making it possible for them to ask: If the state can do the job of providing employment, then why do we need the capitalists at all? It is an instinctive appreciation of this potential danger that underlies the opposition of capital, especially of finance, to any direct effort by the state to generate employment.

This ever-present opposition becomes decisive within a regime of globalization. As long as finance capital remains national -- that is, nation-based -- and the state is a nation-state, the latter can override this opposition under certain circumstances, such as in the post-Second World War period when capitalism was facing an existential crisis. But when finance capital is globalized, meaning, when it is free to move across country borders while the state remains a nation-state, its opposition to fiscal deficits becomes decisive. If the state does run large fiscal deficits against its wishes, then it would simply leave that country en masse , causing a financial crisis.

The state therefore capitulates to the demands of globalized finance capital and eschews direct fiscal intervention for increasing demand. It resorts to monetary policy instead since that operates through wealth holders' decisions, and hence does not undermine their social position. But, precisely for this reason, monetary policy is an ineffective instrument, as was evident in the United States in the aftermath of the 2007–09 crisis when even the pushing of interest rates down to zero scarcely revived activity. 6

It may be thought that this compulsion on the part of the state to accede to the demand of finance to eschew fiscal intervention for enlarging employment should not hold for the United States. Its currency being considered by the world's wealth holders to be "as good as gold" should make it immune to capital flight. But there is an additional factor operating in the case of the United States: that the demand generated by a bigger U.S. fiscal deficit would substantially leak abroad in a neoliberal setting, which would increase its external debt (since, unlike Britain in its heyday, it does not have access to any unrequited colonial transfers) for the sake of generating employment elsewhere. This fact deters any fiscal effort even in the United States to boost demand within a neoliberal setting. 7

Therefore, it follows that state spending cannot provide a counter to the ex ante tendency toward global overproduction within a regime of neoliberal globalization, which makes the world economy precariously dependent on occasional asset-price bubbles, primarily in the U.S. economy, for obtaining, at best, some temporary relief from the crisis. It is this fact that underlies the dead end that neoliberal capitalism has reached. Indeed, Donald Trump's resort to protectionism in the United States to alleviate unemployment is a clear recognition of the system having reached this cul-de-sac. The fact that the mightiest capitalist economy in the world has to move away from the rules of the neoliberal game in an attempt to alleviate its crisis of unemployment/underemployment -- while compensating capitalists adversely affected by this move through tax cuts, as well as carefully ensuring that no restraints are imposed on free cross-border financial flows -- shows that these rules are no longer viable in their pristine form.

Some Implications of This Dead End

There are at least four important implications of this dead end of neoliberalism. The first is that the world economy will now be afflicted by much higher levels of unemployment than it was in the last decade of the twentieth century and the early years of the twenty-first, when the dot-com and the housing bubbles in the United States had, sequentially, a pronounced impact. It is true that the U.S. unemployment rate today appears to be at a historic low, but this is misleading: the labor-force participation rate in the United States today is lower than it was in 2008, which reflects the discouraged-worker effect . Adjusting for this lower participation, the U.S. unemployment rate is considerable -- around 8 percent. Indeed, Trump would not be imposing protection in the United States if unemployment was actually as low as 4 percent, which is the official figure. Elsewhere in the world, of course, unemployment post-2008 continues to be evidently higher than before. Indeed, the severity of the current problem of below-full-employment production in the U.S. economy is best illustrated by capacity utilization figures in manufacturing. The weakness of the U.S. recovery from the Great Recession is indicated by the fact that the current extended recovery represents the first decade in the entire post-Second World War period in which capacity utilization in manufacturing has never risen as high as 80 percent in a single quarter, with the resulting stagnation of investment. 8

If Trump's protectionism, which recalls the Smoot-Hawley tariff of 1931 and amounts to a beggar-my-neighbor policy, does lead to a significant export of unemployment from the United States, then it will invite retaliation and trigger a trade war that will only worsen the crisis for the world economy as a whole by dampening global investment. Indeed, since the United States has been targeting China in particular, some retaliatory measures have already appeared. But if U.S. protectionism does not invite generalized retaliation, it would only be because the export of unemployment from the United States is insubstantial, keeping unemployment everywhere, including in the United States, as precarious as it is now. However we look at it, the world would henceforth face higher levels of unemployment.

There has been some discussion on how global value chains would be affected by Trump's protectionism. But the fact that global macroeconomics in the early twenty-first century will look altogether different compared to earlier has not been much discussed.

In light of the preceding discussion, one could say that if, instead of individual nation-states whose writ cannot possibly run against globalized finance capital, there was a global state or a set of major nation-states acting in unison to override the objections of globalized finance and provide a coordinated fiscal stimulus to the world economy, then perhaps there could be recovery. Such a coordinated fiscal stimulus was suggested by a group of German trade unionists, as well as by John Maynard Keynes during the Great Depression in the 1930s. 9 While it was turned down then, in the present context it has not even been discussed.

The second implication of this dead end is that the era of export-led growth is by and large over for third world economies. The slowing down of world economic growth, together with protectionism in the United States against successful third world exporters, which could even spread to other metropolitan economies, suggests that the strategy of relying on the world market to generate domestic growth has run out of steam. Third world economies, including the ones that have been very successful at exporting, would now have to rely much more on their home market.

Such a transition will not be easy; it will require promoting domestic peasant agriculture, defending petty production, moving toward cooperative forms of production, and ensuring greater equality in income distribution, all of which need major structural shifts. For smaller economies, it would also require their coming together with other economies to provide a minimum size to the domestic market. In short, the dead end of neoliberalism also means the need for a shift away from the so-called neoliberal development strategy that has held sway until now.

The third implication is the imminent engulfing of a whole range of third world economies in serious balance-of-payments difficulties. This is because, while their exports will be sluggish in the new situation, this very fact will also discourage financial inflows into their economies, whose easy availability had enabled them to maintain current account deficits on their balance of payments earlier. In such a situation, within the existing neoliberal paradigm, they would be forced to adopt austerity measures that would impose income deflation on their people, make the conditions of their people significantly worse, lead to a further handing over of their national assets and resources to international capital, and prevent precisely any possible transition to an alternative strategy of home market-based growth.

In other words, we shall now have an intensification of the imperialist stranglehold over third world economies, especially those pushed into unsustainable balance-of-payments deficits in the new situation. By imperialism , here we do not mean the imperialism of this or that major power, but the imperialism of international finance capital, with which even domestic big bourgeoisies are integrated, directed against their own working people.

The fourth implication is the worldwide upsurge of fascism. Neoliberal capitalism even before it reached a dead end, even in the period when it achieved reasonable growth and employment rates, had pushed the world into greater hunger and poverty. For instance, the world per-capita cereal output was 355 kilograms for 1980 (triennium average for 1979–81 divided by mid–triennium population) and fell to 343 in 2000, leveling at 344.9 in 2016 -- and a substantial amount of this last figure went into ethanol production. Clearly, in a period of growth of the world economy, per-capita cereal absorption should be expanding, especially since we are talking here not just of direct absorption but of direct and indirect absorption, the latter through processed foods and feed grains in animal products. The fact that there was an absolute decline in per-capita output, which no doubt caused a decline in per-capita absorption, suggests an absolute worsening in the nutritional level of a substantial segment of the world's population.

But this growing hunger and nutritional poverty did not immediately arouse any significant resistance, both because such resistance itself becomes more difficult under neoliberalism (since the very globalization of capital makes it an elusive target) and also because higher GDP growth rates provided a hope that distress might be overcome in the course of time. Peasants in distress, for instance, entertained the hope that their children would live better in the years to come if given a modicum of education and accepted their fate.

In short, the ideology of neoliberal capitalism was the promise of growth. But with neoliberal capitalism reaching a dead end, this promise disappears and so does this ideological prop. To sustain itself, neoliberal capitalism starts looking for some other ideological prop and finds fascism. This changes the discourse away from the material conditions of people's lives to the so-called threat to the nation, placing the blame for people's distress not on the failure of the system, but on ethnic, linguistic, and religious minority groups, the other that is portrayed as an enemy. It projects a so-called messiah whose sheer muscularity can somehow magically overcome all problems; it promotes a culture of unreason so that both the vilification of the other and the magical powers of the supposed leader can be placed beyond any intellectual questioning; it uses a combination of state repression and street-level vigilantism by fascist thugs to terrorize opponents; and it forges a close relationship with big business, or, in Kalecki's words, "a partnership of big business and fascist upstarts." 10

Fascist groups of one kind or another exist in all modern societies. They move center stage and even into power only on certain occasions when they get the backing of big business. And these occasions arise when three conditions are satisfied: when there is an economic crisis so the system cannot simply go on as before; when the usual liberal establishment is manifestly incapable of resolving the crisis; and when the left is not strong enough to provide an alternative to the people in order to move out of the conjuncture.

This last point may appear odd at first, since many see the big bourgeoisie's recourse to fascism as a counter to the growth of the left's strength in the context of a capitalist crisis. But when the left poses a serious threat, the response of the big bourgeoisie typically is to attempt to split it by offering concessions. It uses fascism to prop itself up only when the left is weakened. Walter Benjamin's remark that "behind every fascism there is a failed revolution" points in this direction.

Fascism Then and Now

Contemporary fascism, however, differs in crucial respects from its 1930s counterpart, which is why many are reluctant to call the current phenomenon a fascist upsurge. But historical parallels, if carefully drawn, can be useful. While in some aforementioned respects contemporary fascism does resemble the phenomenon of the 1930s, there are serious differences between the two that must also be noted.

First, we must note that while the current fascist upsurge has put fascist elements in power in many countries, there are no fascist states of the 1930s kind as of yet. Even if the fascist elements in power try to push the country toward a fascist state, it is not clear that they will succeed. There are many reasons for this, but an important one is that fascists in power today cannot overcome the crisis of neoliberalism, since they accept the regime of globalization of finance. This includes Trump, despite his protectionism. In the 1930s, however, this was not the case. The horrors associated with the institution of a fascist state in the 1930s had been camouflaged to an extent by the ability of the fascists in power to overcome mass unemployment and end the Depression through larger military spending, financed by government borrowing. Contemporary fascism, by contrast, lacks the ability to overcome the opposition of international finance capital to fiscal activism on the part of the government to generate larger demand, output, and employment, even via military spending.

Such activism, as discussed earlier, required larger government spending financed either through taxes on capitalists or through a fiscal deficit. Finance capital was opposed to both of these measures and it being globalized made this opposition decisive . The decisiveness of this opposition remains even if the government happens to be one composed of fascist elements. Hence, contemporary fascism, straitjacketed by "fiscal rectitude," cannot possibly alleviate even temporarily the economic crises facing people and cannot provide any cover for a transition to a fascist state akin to the ones of the 1930s, which makes such a transition that much more unlikely.

Another difference is also related to the phenomenon of the globalization of finance. The 1930s were marked by what Lenin had earlier called "interimperialist rivalry." The military expenditures incurred by fascist governments, even though they pulled countries out of the Depression and unemployment, inevitably led to wars for "repartitioning an already partitioned world." Fascism was the progenitor of war and burned itself out through war at, needless to say, great cost to humankind.

Contemporary fascism, however, operates in a world where interimperialist rivalry is far more muted. Some have seen in this muting a vindication of Karl Kautsky's vision of an "ultraimperialism" as against Lenin's emphasis on the permanence of interimperialist rivalry, but this is wrong. Both Kautsky and Lenin were talking about a world where finance capital and the financial oligarchy were essentially national -- that is, German, French, or British. And while Kautsky talked about the possibility of truces among the rival oligarchies, Lenin saw such truces only as transient phenomena punctuating the ubiquity of rivalry.

In contrast, what we have today is not nation-based finance capitals, but international finance capital into whose corpus the finance capitals drawn from particular countries are integrated. This globalized finance capital does not want the world to be partitioned into economic territories of rival powers ; on the contrary, it wants the entire globe to be open to its own unrestricted movement. The muting of rivalry between major powers, therefore, is not because they prefer truce to war, or peaceful partitioning of the world to forcible repartitioning, but because the material conditions themselves have changed so that it is no longer a matter of such choices. The world has gone beyond both Lenin and Kautsky, as well as their debates.

Not only are we not going to have wars between major powers in this era of fascist upsurge (of course, as will be discussed, we shall have other wars), but, by the same token, this fascist upsurge will not burn out through any cataclysmic war. What we are likely to see is a lingering fascism of less murderous intensity , which, when in power, does not necessarily do away with all the forms of bourgeois democracy, does not necessarily physically annihilate the opposition, and may even allow itself to get voted out of power occasionally. But since its successor government, as long as it remains within the confines of the neoliberal strategy, will also be incapable of alleviating the crisis, the fascist elements are likely to return to power as well. And whether the fascist elements are in or out of power, they will remain a potent force working toward the fascification of the society and the polity, even while promoting corporate interests within a regime of globalization of finance, and hence permanently maintaining the "partnership between big business and fascist upstarts."

Put differently, since the contemporary fascist upsurge is not likely to burn itself out as the earlier one did, it has to be overcome by transcending the very conjuncture that produced it: neoliberal capitalism at a dead end. A class mobilization of working people around an alternative set of transitional demands that do not necessarily directly target neoliberal capitalism, but which are immanently unrealizable within the regime of neoliberal capitalism, can provide an initial way out of this conjuncture and lead to its eventual transcendence.

Such a class mobilization in the third world context would not mean making no truces with liberal bourgeois elements against the fascists. On the contrary, since the liberal bourgeois elements too are getting marginalized through a discourse of jingoistic nationalism typically manufactured by the fascists, they too would like to shift the discourse toward the material conditions of people's lives, no doubt claiming that an improvement in these conditions is possible within the neoliberal economic regime itself. Such a shift in discourse is in itself a major antifascist act . Experience will teach that the agenda advanced as part of this changed discourse is unrealizable under neoliberalism, providing the scope for dialectical intervention by the left to transcend neoliberal capitalism.

Imperialist Interventions

Even though fascism will have a lingering presence in this conjuncture of "neoliberalism at a dead end," with the backing of domestic corporate-financial interests that are themselves integrated into the corpus of international finance capital, the working people in the third world will increasingly demand better material conditions of life and thereby rupture the fascist discourse of jingoistic nationalism (that ironically in a third world context is not anti-imperialist).

In fact, neoliberalism reaching a dead end and having to rely on fascist elements revives meaningful political activity, which the heyday of neoliberalism had precluded, because most political formations then had been trapped within an identical neoliberal agenda that appeared promising. (Latin America had a somewhat different history because neoliberalism arrived in that continent through military dictatorships, not through its more or less tacit acceptance by most political formations.)

Such revived political activity will necessarily throw up challenges to neoliberal capitalism in particular countries. Imperialism, by which we mean the entire economic and political arrangement sustaining the hegemony of international finance capital, will deal with these challenges in at least four different ways.

The first is the so-called spontaneous method of capital flight. Any political formation that seeks to take the country out of the neoliberal regime will witness capital flight even before it has been elected to office, bringing the country to a financial crisis and thereby denting its electoral prospects. And if perchance it still gets elected, the outflow will only increase, even before it assumes office. The inevitable difficulties faced by the people may well make the government back down at that stage. The sheer difficulty of transition away from a neoliberal regime could be enough to bring even a government based on the support of workers and peasants to its knees, precisely to save them short-term distress or to avoid losing their support.

Even if capital controls are put in place, where there are current account deficits, financing such deficits would pose a problem, necessitating some trade controls. But this is where the second instrument of imperialism comes into play: the imposition of trade sanctions by the metropolitan states, which then cajole other countries to stop buying from the sanctioned country that is trying to break away from thralldom to globalized finance capital. Even if the latter would have otherwise succeeded in stabilizing its economy despite its attempt to break away, the imposition of sanctions becomes an additional blow.

The third weapon consists in carrying out so-called democratic or parliamentary coups of the sort that Latin America has been experiencing. Coups in the old days were effected through the local armed forces and necessarily meant the imposition of military dictatorships in lieu of civilian, democratically elected governments. Now, taking advantage of the disaffection generated within countries by the hardships caused by capital flight and imposed sanctions, imperialism promotes coups through fascist or fascist-sympathizing middle-class political elements in the name of restoring democracy, which is synonymous with the pursuit of neoliberalism.

And if all these measures fail, there is always the possibility of resorting to economic warfare (such as destroying Venezuela's electricity supply), and eventually to military warfare. Venezuela today provides a classic example of what imperialist intervention in a third world country is going to look like in the era of decline of neoliberal capitalism, when revolts are going to characterize such countries more and more.

Two aspects of such intervention are striking. One is the virtual unanimity among the metropolitan states, which only underscores the muting of interimperialist rivalry in the era of hegemony of global finance capital. The other is the extent of support that such intervention commands within metropolitan countries, from the right to even the liberal segments.

Despite this opposition, neoliberal capitalism cannot ward off the challenge it is facing for long. It has no vision for reinventing itself. Interestingly, in the period after the First World War, when capitalism was on the verge of sinking into a crisis, the idea of state intervention as a way of its revival had already been mooted, though its coming into vogue only occurred at the end of the Second World War. 11 Today, neoliberal capitalism does not even have an idea of how it can recover and revitalize itself. And weapons like domestic fascism in the third world and direct imperialist intervention cannot for long save it from the anger of the masses that is building up against it.

Notes
  1. Harry Magdoff, The Age of Imperialism (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1969).
  2. Samuel Berrick Saul, Studies in British Overseas Trade, 1870–1914 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1960).
  3. Paul A. Baran and Paul M. Sweezy, Monopoly Capital (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1966).
  4. One of the first authors to recognize this fact and its significance was Paul Baran in The Political Economy of Growth (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1957).
  5. Joseph E. Stiglitz, " Inequality is Holding Back the Recovery ," New York Times , January 19, 2013.
  6. For a discussion of how even the recent euphoria about U.S. growth is vanishing, see C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh, " Vanishing Green Shoots and the Possibility of Another Crisis ," The Hindu Business Line , April 8, 2019.
  7. For the role of such colonial transfers in sustaining the British balance of payments and the long Victorian and Edwardian boom, see Utsa Patnaik, "Revisiting the 'Drain,' or Transfers from India to Britain in the Context of Global Diffusion of Capitalism," in Agrarian and Other Histories: Essays for Binay Bhushan Chaudhuri , ed. Shubhra Chakrabarti and Utsa Patnaik (Delhi: Tulika, 2017), 277-317.
  8. Federal Reserve Board of Saint Louis Economic Research, FRED, "Capacity Utilization: Manufacturing," February 2019 (updated March 27, 2019), http://fred.stlouisfed.org .
  9. This issue is discussed by Charles P. Kindleberger in The World in Depression, 1929–1939 , 40th anniversary ed. (Oakland: University of California Press, 2013).
  10. Michał Kalecki, " Political Aspects of Full Employment ," Political Quarterly (1943), available at mronline.org.
  11. Joseph Schumpeter had seen Keynes's The Economic Consequences of the Peace as essentially advocating such state intervention in the new situation. See his essay, "John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946)," in Ten Great Economists (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1952).

Utsa Patnaik is Professor Emerita at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her books include Peasant Class Differentiation (1987), The Long Transition (1999), and The Republic of Hunger and Other Essays (2007). Prabhat Patnaik is Professor Emeritus at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. His books include Accumulation and Stability Under Capitalism (1997), The Value of Money(2009), and Re-envisioning Socialism(2011).

[Sep 02, 2019] Where is Margaret Thatcher now?

Highly recommended!
Sep 02, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

ambrit , , August 31, 2019 at 11:55 am

Thatcher was an English politico. It is not what she said, but what she did that counts. She is probably down in Dante's Inferno, Ring 8, sub-rings 7-10. (Frauds and false councilors.) See, oh wayward sinners: http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/circle8b.html

The Rev Kev , , September 2, 2019 at 12:37 am

Ring 8, sub-rings 7-10? She will probably find Milton Friedman in the basement there.

ambrit , September 2, 2019 at 7:09 am

Ah, you think that Milton should be at the bottom, eh? Then, I hope that he knows how to ice skate. (He was the worst kind of 'class traitor.' [His parents were small store owner/managers.])

Ring 8 of the Inferno is for 'frauds' of all sorts, sub-rings 7-10 are reserved for Thieves, Deceivers, Schismatics, and Falsifiers. Maggie should feel right at home there.

[Aug 04, 2019] to the liberal economists, free markets were markets free from rent seeking, while to the neoliberals free markets are free from government regulation.

Highly recommended!
Aug 04, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Ian Perkins , August 4, 2019 at 10:16 am

Excellent article, I agree.
As regards clear language and definitions, I much prefer Michael Hudson's insistence that, to the liberal economists, free markets were markets free from rent seeking, while to the neoliberals free markets are free from government regulation.
"As governments were democratized, especially in the United States, liberals came to endorse a policy of active public welfare spending and hence government intervention, especially on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged. neoliberalism sought to restore the centralized aristocratic and oligarchic rentier control of domestic politics."
http://michael-hudson.com/2014/01/l-is-for-land/ – "Liberal"

[Jul 25, 2019] The destiny of the USA is now tied to the destiny of neoliberalism (much like the USSR and Bolshevism)

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The USA hegemony is based on ideological hegemony of neoliberalism. And BTW both Russia and China are neoliberal countries. That's probably why President Putin calls the USA administration "partners," despite clearly anti-Russian policies of all US administrations since 1991. ..."
"... One fascinating fact that escapes my understanding is why the USA elite wasted colossal advantage it got after the collapse of the USSR in just 25 years or so. I always thought that the USA elite is the most shrewd out of all countries. ..."
"... May be because they were brainwashed by neocon "intellectuals." I understand that most neocons are simply lobbyists of MIC, and MIC has huge political influence, but still neocon doctrine is so primitive that no civilized elite can take it seriously. ..."
"... I also understand Eisenhower hypocritical laments that "train with MIC left the station" and that the situation can't be reversed (lament disguised as a "warning"; let's remember that it was Eisenhower who appointed Allen Dulles to head the CIA. ..."
Dec 25, 2018 | www.unz.com

likbez , says: December 25, 2018 at 8:02 am GMT

@guitarzan

>US hegemony is imposed militarily, both covertly and overtly, throughout the world. It is maintained through the petrodollar, corporate power, and the Federal Reserve Bank and its overseas counterparts

All true, but the key element is missing. The USA hegemony is based on ideological hegemony of neoliberalism. And BTW both Russia and China are neoliberal countries. That's probably why President Putin calls the USA administration "partners," despite clearly anti-Russian policies of all US administrations since 1991.

Ability to use military is important but secondary. Without fifth column of national elites which support neoliberalism that would be impossible, or at least more difficult to use. Like it was when the USSR existed (Vietnam, Cuba, etc). The USSR has had pretty powerful military, which was in some narrow areas competitive, or even superior to the USA, but when the ideology of Bolshevism collapsed, the elite changed sides and adopted a neoliberal ideology. This betrayal led to the collapse of the USSR and all its mighty military and the vast KGB apparatus proved to be useless.

In this sense, the article is weak, and some comments are of a higher level than the article itself in the level of understanding of the situation (Simon in London at December 21, 2018, at 9:23 am one example; longevity of neoliberalism partially is connected to the fact that so far there is no clear alternative to it and without the crisis similar to Great Depression adoption of New Deal style measures is impossible )

It is really sad that the understanding that the destiny of the USA is now tied to the destiny of neoliberalism (much like the USSR and Bolshevism) is foreign for many.

So it might well be that the main danger for the US neoliberal empire now is not China or Russia, but the end of cheap oil, which might facilitate the collapse of neoliberalism as a social system based on wasteful use on commodities (and first of all oil)

One fascinating fact that escapes my understanding is why the USA elite wasted colossal advantage it got after the collapse of the USSR in just 25 years or so. I always thought that the USA elite is the most shrewd out of all countries.

May be because they were brainwashed by neocon "intellectuals." I understand that most neocons are simply lobbyists of MIC, and MIC has huge political influence, but still neocon doctrine is so primitive that no civilized elite can take it seriously.

I also understand Eisenhower hypocritical laments that "train with MIC left the station" and that the situation can't be reversed (lament disguised as a "warning"; let's remember that it was Eisenhower who appointed Allen Dulles to head the CIA.

[Jun 22, 2019] Use of science by the US politicians: they uses science the way the drunk uses a lamppost, for support rather than illumination.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "the administrator uses social science the way the drunk uses a lamppost, for support rather than illumination." Scholars' disinclination to be used in this way helps explain more of the distance. ..."
Jun 16, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The evidence suggests that foreign policymakers do not seek insight from scholars, but rather support for what they already want to do.

As Desch quotes a World War II U.S. Navy anthropologist, "the administrator uses social science the way the drunk uses a lamppost, for support rather than illumination." Scholars' disinclination to be used in this way helps explain more of the distance.

[Jun 19, 2019] Bias bias the inclination to accuse people of bias by James Thompson

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Early in any psychology course, students are taught to be very cautious about accepting people's reports. A simple trick is to stage some sort of interruption to the lecture by confederates, and later ask the students to write down what they witnessed. Typically, they will misremember the events, sequences and even the number of people who staged the tableaux. Don't trust witnesses, is the message. ..."
"... The three assumptions -- lack of rationality, stubbornness, and costs -- imply that there is slim chance that people can ever learn or be educated out of their biases; ..."
"... So, are we as hopeless as some psychologists claim we are? In fact, probably not. Not all the initial claims have been substantiated. For example, it seems we are not as loss averse as previously claimed. Does our susceptibility to printed visual illusions show that we lack judgement in real life? ..."
"... Well the sad fact is that there's nobody in the position to protect "governments" from their own biases, and "scientists" from theirs ..."
"... Long ago a lawyer acquaintance, referring to a specific judge, told me that the judge seemed to "make shit up as he was going along". I have long held psychiatry fits that statement very well. ..."
"... Here we have a real scientist fighting the nonsense spreading from (neoclassical) economics into other realms of science/academia. ..."
"... Behavioral economics is a sideline by-product of neoclassical micro-economic theory. It tries to cope with experimental data that is inconsistent with that theory. ..."
"... Everything in neoclassical economics is a travesty. "Rational choice theory" and its application in "micro economics" is false from the ground up. It basically assumes that people are gobbling up resources without plan, meaning or relevant circumstances. Neoclassical micro economic theory is so false and illogical that I would not know where to start in a comment, so I should like to refer to a whole book about it: Keen, Steve: "Debunking economics". ..."
"... As the theory is totally wrong it is really not surprising that countless experiments show that people do not behave the way neoclassical theory predicts. How do economists react to this? Of course they assume that people are "irrational" because they do not behave according to their studied theory. (Why would you ever change your basic theory because of some tedious facts?) ..."
"... The title of the 1st ed. of Keen's book was "Debunking Economics: The Naked Emperor of the Social Sciences" which was simply a perfect title. ..."
Jun 19, 2019 | www.unz.com

Early in any psychology course, students are taught to be very cautious about accepting people's reports. A simple trick is to stage some sort of interruption to the lecture by confederates, and later ask the students to write down what they witnessed. Typically, they will misremember the events, sequences and even the number of people who staged the tableaux. Don't trust witnesses, is the message.

Another approach is to show visual illusions, such as getting estimates of line lengths in the Muller-Lyer illusion, or studying simple line lengths under social pressure, as in the Asch experiment, or trying to solve the Peter Wason logic problems, or the puzzles set by Kahneman and Tversky. All these appear to show severe limitations of human judgment. Psychology is full of cautionary tales about the foibles of common folk.

As a consequence of this softening up, psychology students come to regard themselves and most people as fallible, malleable, unreliable, biased and generally irrational. No wonder psychologists feel superior to the average citizen, since they understand human limitations and, with their superior training, hope to rise above such lowly superstitions.

However, society still functions, people overcome errors and many things work well most of the time. Have psychologists, for one reason or another, misunderstood people, and been too quick to assume that they are incapable of rational thought?

Gerd Gigerenzer thinks so.

https://www.nowpublishers.com/article/OpenAccessDownload/RBE-0092

He is particularly interested in the economic consequences of apparent irrationality, and whether our presumed biases really result in us making bad economic decisions. If so, some argue we need a benign force, say a government, to protect us from our lack of capacity. Perhaps we need a tattoo on our forehead: Diminished Responsibility.

The argument leading from cognitive biases to governmental paternalism -- in short, the irrationality argument -- consists of three assumptions and one conclusion:

1. Lack of rationality. Experiments have shown that people's intuitions are systematically biased.

2. Stubbornness. Like visual illusions, biases are persistent and hardly corrigible by education.

3. Substantial costs. Biases may incur substantial welfare-relevant costs such as lower wealth, health, or happiness.

4. Biases justify governmental paternalism. To protect people from theirbiases, governments should "nudge" the public toward better behavior.

The three assumptions -- lack of rationality, stubbornness, and costs -- imply that there is slim chance that people can ever learn or be educated out of their biases; instead governments need to step in with a policy called libertarian paternalism (Thaler and Sunstein, 2003).

So, are we as hopeless as some psychologists claim we are? In fact, probably not. Not all the initial claims have been substantiated. For example, it seems we are not as loss averse as previously claimed. Does our susceptibility to printed visual illusions show that we lack judgement in real life?

In Shepard's (1990) words, "to fool a visual system that has a full binocular and freely mobile view of a well-illuminated scene is next to impossible" (p. 122). Thus, in psychology, the visual system is seen more as a genius than a fool in making intelligent inferences, and inferences, after all, are necessary for making sense of the images on the retina.

Most crucially, can people make probability judgements? Let us see. Try solving this one:

A disease has a base rate of .1, and a test is performed that has a hit rate of .9 (the conditional probability of a positive test given disease) and a false positive rate of .1 (the conditional probability of a positive test given no disease). What is the probability that a random person with a positive test result actually has the disease?

Most people fail this test, including 79% of gynaecologists giving breast screening tests. Some researchers have drawn the conclusion that people are fundamentally unable to deal with conditional probabilities. On the contrary, there is a way of laying out the problem such that most people have no difficulty with it. Watch what it looks like when presented as natural frequencies:

Among every 100 people, 10 are expected to have a disease. Among those 10, nine are expected to correctly test positive. Among the 90 people without the disease, nine are expected to falsely test positive. What proportion of those who test positive actually have the disease?

In this format the positive test result gives us 9 people with the disease and 9 people without the disease, so the chance that a positive test result shows a real disease is 50/50. Only 13% of gynaecologists fail this presentation.

Summing up the virtues of natural frequencies, Gigerenzer says:

When college students were given a 2-hour course in natural frequencies, the number of correct Bayesian inferences increased from 10% to 90%; most important, this 90% rate was maintained 3 months after training (Sedlmeier and Gigerenzer, 2001). Meta-analyses have also documented the "de-biasing" effect, and natural frequencies are now a technical term in evidence-based medicine (Akiet al., 2011; McDowell and Jacobs, 2017). These results are consistent with a long literature on techniques for successfully teaching statistical reasoning (e.g., Fonget al., 1986). In sum, humans can learn Bayesian inference quickly if the information is presented in natural frequencies.

If the problem is set out in a simple format, almost all of us can all do conditional probabilities.

I taught my medical students about the base rate screening problem in the late 1970s, based on: Robyn Dawes (1962) "A note on base rates and psychometric efficiency". Decades later, alarmed by the positive scan detection of an unexplained mass, I confided my fears to a psychiatrist friend. He did a quick differential diagnosis on bowel cancer, showing I had no relevant symptoms, and reminded me I had lectured him as a student on base rates decades before, so I ought to relax. Indeed, it was false positive.

Here are the relevant figures, set out in terms of natural frequencies

Every test has a false positive rate (every step is being taken to reduce these), and when screening is used for entire populations many patients have to undergo further investigations, sometimes including surgery.

Setting out frequencies in a logical sequence can often prevent misunderstandings. Say a man on trial for having murdered his spouse has previously physically abused her. Should his previous history of abuse not be raised in Court because only 1 woman in 2500 cases of abuse is murdered by her abuser? Of course, whatever a defence lawyer may argue and a Court may accept, this is back to front. OJ Simpson was not on trial for spousal abuse, but for the murder of his former partner. The relevant question is: what is the probability that a man murdered his partner, given that she has been murdered and that he previously battered her.

Accepting the figures used by the defence lawyer, if 1 in 2500 women are murdered every year by their abusive male partners, how many women are murdered by men who did not previously abuse them? Using government figures that 5 women in 100,000 are murdered every year then putting everything onto the same 100,000 population, the frequencies look like this:

So, 40 to 5, it is 8 times more probable that abused women are murdered by their abuser. A relevant issue to raise in Court about the past history of an accused man.

Are people's presumed biases costly, in the sense of making them vulnerable to exploitation, such that they can be turned into a money pump, or is it a case of "once bitten, twice shy"? In fact, there is no evidence that these apparently persistent logical errors actually result in people continually making costly errors. That presumption turns out to be a bias bias.

Gigerenzer goes on to show that people are in fact correct in their understanding of the randomness of short sequences of coin tosses, and Kahneman and Tversky wrong. Elegantly, he also shows that the "hot hand" of successful players in basketball is a real phenomenon, and not a stubborn illusion as claimed.

With equal elegance he disposes of a result I had depended upon since Slovic (1982), which is that people over-estimate the frequency of rare risks and under-estimate the frequency of common risks. This finding has led to the belief that people are no good at estimating risk. Who could doubt that a TV series about Chernobyl will lead citizens to have an exaggerated fear of nuclear power stations?

The original Slovic study was based on 39 college students, not exactly a fair sample of humanity. The conceit of psychologists knows no bounds. Gigerenzer looks at the data and shows that it is yet another example of regression to the mean. This is an apparent effect which arises whenever the predictor is less than perfect (the most common case), an unsystematic error effect, which is already evident when you calculate the correlation coefficient. Parental height and their children's heights are positively but not perfectly correlated at about r = 0.5. Predictions made in either direction will under-predict in either direction, simply because they are not perfect, and do not capture all the variation. Try drawing out the correlation as an ellipse to see the effect of regression, compared to the perfect case of the straight line of r= 1.0

What diminishes in the presence of noise is the variability of the estimates, both the estimates of the height of the sons based on that of their fathers, and vice versa. Regression toward the mean is a result of unsystematic, not systematic error (Stigler,1999).

Gigerenzer also looks at the supposed finding that people are over-confidence in predictions, and finds that it is another regression to the mean problem.

Gigerenzer then goes on to consider that old favourite, that most people think they are better than average, which supposedly cannot be the case, because average people are average.

Consider the finding that most drivers think they drive better than average. If better driving is interpreted as meaning fewer accidents, then most drivers' beliefs are actually true. The number of accidents per person has a skewed distribution, and an analysis of U.S. accident statistics showed that some 80% of drivers have fewer accidents than the average number of accidents (Mousavi and Gigerenzer, 2011)

Then he looks at the classical demonstration of framing, that is to say, the way people appear to be easily swayed by how the same facts are "framed" or presented to the person who has to make a decision.

A patient suffering from a serious heart disease considers high-risk surgery and asks a doctor about its prospects.

The doctor can frame the answer in two ways:

Positive Frame: Five years after surgery, 90% of patients are alive.
Negative Frame: Five years after surgery, 10% of patients are dead.

Should the patient listen to how the doctor frames the answer? Behavioral economists say no because both frames are logically equivalent (Kahneman, 2011). Nevertheless, people do listen. More are willing to agree to a medical procedure if the doctor uses positive framing (90% alive) than if negative framing is used (10% dead) (Moxeyet al., 2003). Framing effects challenge the assumption of stable preferences, leading to preference reversals. Thaler and Sunstein (2008) who presented the above surgery problem, concluded that "framing works because people tend to be somewhat mindless, passive decisionmakers" (p. 40)

Gigerenzer points out that in this particular example, subjects are having to make their judgements without knowing a key fact: how many survive without surgery. If you know that you have a datum which is more influential. These are the sorts of questions patients will often ask about, and discuss with other patients, or with several doctors. Furthermore, you don't have to spin a statistic. You could simply say: "Five years after surgery, 90% of patients are alive and 10% are dead".

Gigerenzer gives an explanation which is very relevant to current discussions about the meaning of intelligence, and about the power of intelligence tests:

In sum, the principle of logical equivalence or "description invariance" is a poor guide to understanding how human intelligence deals with an uncertain world where not everything is stated explicitly. It misses the very nature of intelligence, the ability to go beyond the information given (Bruner, 1973)

The key is to take uncertainty seriously, take heuristics seriously, and beware of the bias bias.

One important conclusion I draw from this entire paper is that the logical puzzles enjoyed by Kahneman, Tversky, Stanovich and others are rightly rejected by psychometricians as usually being poor indicators of real ability. They fail because they are designed to lead people up the garden path, and depend on idiosyncratic interpretations.

For more detail: http://www.unz.com/jthompson/the-tricky-question-of-rationality/

Critics of examinations of either intellectual ability or scholastic attainment are fond of claiming that the items are "arbitrary". Not really. Scholastic tests have to be close to the curriculum in question, but still need to a have question forms which are simple to understand so that the stress lies in how students formulate the answer, not in how they decipher the structure of the question.

Intellectual tests have to avoid particular curricula and restrict themselves to the common ground of what most people in a community understand. Questions have to be super-simple, so that the correct answer follows easily from the question, with minimal ambiguity. Furthermore, in the case of national scholastic tests, and particularly in the case of intelligence tests, legal authorities will pore over the test, looking at each item for suspected biases of a sexual, racial or socio-economic nature. Designing an intelligence test is a difficult and expensive matter. Many putative new tests of intelligence never even get to the legal hurdle, because they flounder on matters of reliability and validity, and reveal themselves to be little better than the current range of assessments.

In conclusion, both in psychology and behavioural economics, some researchers have probably been too keen to allege bias in cases where there are unsystematic errors, or no errors at all. The corrective is to learn about base rates, and to use natural frequencies as a guide to good decision-making.

Don't bother boosting your IQ. Boost your understanding of natural frequencies.


res , says: June 17, 2019 at 3:29 pm GMT

Good concrete advice. Perhaps even more useful for those who need to explain things like this to others than for those seeking to understand for themselves.
ThreeCranes , says: June 17, 2019 at 3:34 pm GMT
"intelligence deals with an uncertain world where not everything is stated explicitly. It misses the very nature of intelligence, the ability to go beyond the information given (Bruner, 1973)"

"The key is to take uncertainty seriously, take heuristics seriously, and beware of the bias bias."

Why I come to Unz.

Tom Welsh , says: June 18, 2019 at 8:36 am GMT
@Cortes Sounds fishy to me.

Actually I think this is an example of an increasingly common genre of malapropism, where the writer gropes for the right word, finds one that is similar, and settles for that. The worst of it is that readers intuitively understand what was intended, and then adopt the marginally incorrect usage themselves. That's perhaps how the world and his dog came to say "literally" when they mean "figuratively". Maybe a topic for a future article?

Biff , says: June 18, 2019 at 10:16 am GMT
In 2009 Google finished engineering a reverse search engine to find out what kind of searches people did most often. Seth Davidowitz and Steven Pinker wrote a very fascinating/entertaining book using the tool called Everybody Lies

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28512671-everybody-lies

Everybody Lies offers fascinating, surprising, and sometimes laugh-out-loud insights into everything from economics to ethics to sports to race to sex, gender, and more, all drawn from the world of big data. What percentage of white voters didn't vote for Barack Obama because he's black? Does where you go to school effect how successful you are in life? Do parents secretly favor boy children over girls? Do violent films affect the crime rate? Can you beat the stock market? How regularly do we lie about our sex lives, and who's more self-conscious about sex, men or women?

Investigating these questions and a host of others, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz offers revelations that can help us understand ourselves and our lives better. Drawing on studies and experiments on how we really live and think, he demonstrates in fascinating and often funny ways the extent to which all the world is indeed a lab. With conclusions ranging from strange-but-true to thought-provoking to disturbing, he explores the power of this digital truth serum and its deeper potential – revealing biases deeply embedded within us, information we can use to change our culture, and the questions we're afraid to ask that might be essential to our health – both emotional and physical. All of us are touched by big data every day, and its influence is multiplying. Everybody Lies challenges us to think differently about how we see it and the world.

dearieme , says: June 18, 2019 at 11:25 am GMT
I shall treat this posting (for which many thanks, doc) as an invitation to sing a much-loved song: everybody should read Gigerenzer's Reckoning with Risk. With great clarity it teaches what everyone ought to know about probability.

(It could also serve as a model for writing in English about technical subjects. Americans and Britons should study the English of this German – he knows how, you know.)

Inspired by "The original Slovic study was based on 39 college students" I shall also sing another favorite song. Much of Psychology is based on what small numbers of American undergraduates report they think they think.

Anon [410] • Disclaimer , says: June 18, 2019 at 3:47 pm GMT
" Gigerenzer points out that in this particular example, subjects are having to make their judgements without knowing a key fact: how many survive without surgery. "

This one reminds of the false dichotomy. The patient has additional options! Like changing diet, and behaviours such as exercise, elimination of occupational stress , etc.

The statistical outcomes for a person change when the person changes their circumstances/conditions.

Cortes , says: June 18, 2019 at 4:14 pm GMT
@Tom Welsh A disposition (conveyance) of an awkwardly shaped chunk out of a vast estate contained reference to "the slither of ground bounded on or towards the north east and extending two hundred and twenty four meters or thereby along a chain link fence " Not poor clients (either side) nor cheap lawyers. And who never erred?

Better than deliberately inserting "errors" to guarantee a stream of tidy up work (not unknown in the "professional" world) in future.

Tom Fix , says: June 18, 2019 at 4:25 pm GMT
Good article. 79% of gynaecologists fail a simple conditional probability test?! Many if not most medical research papers use advanced statistics. Medical doctors must read these papers to fully understand their field. So, if medical doctors don't fully understand them, they are not properly doing their job. Those papers use mathematical expressions, not English. Converting them to another form of English, instead of using the mathematical expressions isn't a solution.
SafeNow , says: June 18, 2019 at 5:49 pm GMT
Regarding witnesses: When that jet crashed into Rockaway several years ago, a high percentage of witnesses said that they saw smoke before the crash. But there was actually no smoke. The witnesses were adjusting what they saw to conform to their past experience of seeing movie and newsreel footage of planes smoking in the air before a crash. Children actually make very good witnesses.

Regarding the chart. Missing, up there in the vicinity of cancer and heart disease. The third-leading cause of death. 250,000 per year, according to a 2016 Hopkins study. Medical negligence.

Anon [724] • Disclaimer , says: June 18, 2019 at 9:48 pm GMT

1. Lack of rationality. Experiments have shown that people's intuitions are systematically biased.

2. Stubbornness. Like visual illusions, biases are persistent and hardly corrigible by education.

3. Substantial costs. Biases may incur substantial welfare-relevant costs such as lower wealth, health, or happiness.

4. Biases justify governmental paternalism. To protect people from theirbiases, governments should "nudge" the public toward better behavior.

Well the sad fact is that there's nobody in the position to protect "governments" from their own biases, and "scientists" from theirs.

So, behind the smoke of all words and rationalisations, the law is unchanged: everyone strives to gain and exert as much power as possible over as many others as possible. Most do that without writing papers to say it is right, others write papers, others books. Anyway, the fundamental law would stay as it is even if all this writing labour was spared, wouldn't it? But then another fundamental law, the law of framing all one's drives as moral and beneffective comes into play the papers and the books are useful, after all.

Curmudgeon , says: June 19, 2019 at 1:42 am GMT
An interesting article. However, I think that the only thing we have to know about how illogical psychiatry is this:

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) asked all members attending its convention to vote on whether they believed homosexuality to be a mental disorder. 5,854 psychiatrists voted to remove homosexuality from the DSM, and 3,810 to retain it.

The APA then compromised, removing homosexuality from the DSM but replacing it, in effect, with "sexual orientation disturbance" for people "in conflict with" their sexual orientation. Not until 1987 did homosexuality completely fall out of the DSM.

(source https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/hide-and-seek/201509/when-homosexuality-stopped-being-mental-disorder )

The article makes no mention of the fact that no "new science" was brought to support the resolution.

It appears that the psychiatrists were voting based on feelings rather than science. Since that time, the now 50+ genders have been accepted as "normal" by the APA. My family has had members in multiple generations suffering from mental illness. None were "cured". I know others with the same circumstances.

How does one conclude that being repulsed by the prime directive of every living organism – reproduce yourself – is "normal"? That is not to say these people are horrible or evil, just not normal. How can someone, who thinks (s)he is a cat be mentally ill, but a grown man thinking he is a female child is not?

Long ago a lawyer acquaintance, referring to a specific judge, told me that the judge seemed to "make shit up as he was going along". I have long held psychiatry fits that statement very well.

Paul2 , says: June 19, 2019 at 8:08 am GMT
Thank you for this article. I find the information about the interpretation of statistical data very interesting. My take on the background of the article is this:

Here we have a real scientist fighting the nonsense spreading from (neoclassical) economics into other realms of science/academia.

Behavioral economics is a sideline by-product of neoclassical micro-economic theory. It tries to cope with experimental data that is inconsistent with that theory.

Everything in neoclassical economics is a travesty. "Rational choice theory" and its application in "micro economics" is false from the ground up. It basically assumes that people are gobbling up resources without plan, meaning or relevant circumstances. Neoclassical micro economic theory is so false and illogical that I would not know where to start in a comment, so I should like to refer to a whole book about it:
Keen, Steve: "Debunking economics".

As the theory is totally wrong it is really not surprising that countless experiments show that people do not behave the way neoclassical theory predicts. How do economists react to this? Of course they assume that people are "irrational" because they do not behave according to their studied theory. (Why would you ever change your basic theory because of some tedious facts?)

We live in a strange world in which such people have control over university faculties, journals, famous prizes. But at least we have some scientists who defend their area of knowledge against the spreading nonsense produced by economists.

The title of the 1st ed. of Keen's book was "Debunking Economics: The Naked Emperor of the Social Sciences" which was simply a perfect title.

Dieter Kief , says: June 19, 2019 at 8:22 am GMT
@Curmudgeon Could it be that you expect psychiatrists in the past to be as rational as you are now?

Would the result have been any different, if members of a 1973 convention of physicists or surgeons would have been asked?

[Mar 11, 2019] The university professors, who teach but do not learn: neoliberal shill DeJong tries to prolong the life of neoliberalism in the USA

Highly recommended!
DeJong is more dangerous them Malkin... It poisons students with neoliberalism more effectively.
Mar 11, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Kurtismayfield , , March 10, 2019 at 10:52 am

Re:Wall Street Democrats

They know, however, that they've been conned, played, and they're absolute fools in the game.

Thank you Mr. Black for the laugh this morning. They know exactly what they have been doing. Whether it was deregulating so that Hedge funds and vulture capitalism can thrive, or making sure us peons cannot discharge debts, or making everything about financalization. This was all done on purpose, without care for "winning the political game". Politics is economics, and the Wall Street Democrats have been winning.

notabanker , , March 10, 2019 at 12:26 pm

For sure. I'm quite concerned at the behavior of the DNC leadership and pundits. They are doubling down on blatant corporatist agendas. They are acting like they have this in the bag when objective evidence says they do not and are in trouble. Assuming they are out of touch is naive to me. I would assume the opposite, they know a whole lot more than what they are letting on.

urblintz , , March 10, 2019 at 12:49 pm

I think the notion that the DNC and the Democrat's ruling class would rather lose to a like-minded Republican corporatist than win with someone who stands for genuine progressive values offering "concrete material benefits." I held my nose and read comments at the kos straw polls (where Sanders consistently wins by a large margin) and it's clear to me that the Clintonista's will do everything in their power to derail Bernie.

polecat , , March 10, 2019 at 1:00 pm

"It's the Externalities, stupid economists !" *should be the new rallying cry ..

rd , , March 10, 2019 at 3:26 pm

Keynes' "animal spirits" and the "tragedy of the commons" (Lloyd, 1833 and Hardin, 1968) both implied that economics was messier than Samuelson and Friedman would have us believe because there are actual people with different short- and long-term interests.

The behavioral folks (Kahnemann, Tversky, Thaler etc.) have all shown that people are even messier than we would have thought. So most macro-economic stuff over the past half-century has been largely BS in justifying trickle-down economics, deregulation etc.

There needs to be some inequality as that provides incentives via capitalism but unfettered it turns into France 1989 or the Great Depression. It is not coincidence that the major experiment in this in the late 90s and early 2000s required massive government intervention to keep the ship from sinking less than a decade after the great unregulated creative forces were unleashed.

MMT is likely to be similar where productive uses of deficits can be beneficial, but if the money is wasted on stupid stuff like unnecessary wars, then the loss of credibility means that the fiat currency won't be quite as fiat anymore. Britain was unbelievably economically powerfully in the late 1800s but in half a century went to being an economic afterthought hamstrung by deficits after two major wars and a depression.

So it is good that people like Brad DeLong are coming to understand that the pretty economic theories have some truths but are utter BS (and dangerous) when extrapolated without accounting for how people and societies actually behave.

Chris Cosmos , , March 10, 2019 at 6:43 pm

I never understood the incentive to make more money -- that only works if money = true value and that is the implication of living in a capitalist society (not economy)–everything then becomes a commodity and alienation results and all the depression, fear, anxiety that I see around me. Whereas human happiness actually comes from helping others and finding meaning in life not money or dominating others. That's what social science seems to be telling us.

Oregoncharles , , March 10, 2019 at 2:46 pm

Quoting DeLong:

" He says we are discredited. Our policies have failed. And they've failed because we've been conned by the Republicans."

That's welcome, but it's still making excuses. Neoliberal policies have failed because the economics were wrong, not because "we've been conned by the Republicans." Furthermore, this may be important – if it isn't acknowledged, those policies are quite likely to come sneaking back, especially if Democrats are more in the ascendant., as they will be, given the seesaw built into the 2-Party.

The Rev Kev , , March 10, 2019 at 7:33 pm

Might be right there. Groups like the neocons were originally attached the the left side of politics but when the winds changed, detached themselves and went over to the Republican right. The winds are changing again so those who want power may be going over to what is called the left now to keep their grip on power. But what you say is quite true. It is not really the policies that failed but the economics themselves that were wrong and which, in an honest debate, does not make sense either.

marku52 , , March 10, 2019 at 3:39 pm

"And they've failed because we've been conned by the Republicans.""

Not at all. What about the "free trade" hokum that DeJong and his pal Krugman have been peddling since forever? History and every empirical test in the modern era shows that it fails in developing countries and only exacerbates inequality in richer ones.

That's just a failed policy.

I'm still waiting for an apology for all those years that those two insulted anyone who questioned their dogma as just "too ignorant to understand."

Glen , , March 10, 2019 at 4:47 pm

Thank you!

He created FAILED policies. He pushed policies which have harmed America, harmed Americans, and destroyed the American dream.

Kevin Carhart , , March 10, 2019 at 4:29 pm

It's intriguing, but two other voices come to mind. One is Never Let a Serious Crisis Go To Waste by Mirowski and the other is Generation Like by Doug Rushkoff.

Neoliberalism is partially entrepreneurial self-conceptions which took a long time to promote. Rushkoff's Frontline shows the Youtube culture. There is a girl with a "leaderboard" on the wall of her suburban room, keeping track of her metrics.

There's a devastating VPRO Backlight film on the same topic. Internet-platform neoliberalism does not have much to do with the GOP.

It's going to be an odd hybrid at best – you could have deep-red communism but enacted for and by people whose self-conception is influenced by decades of Becker and Hayek? One place this question leads is to ask what's the relationship between the set of ideas and material conditions-centric philosophies? If new policies pass that create a different possibility materially, will the vise grip of the entrepreneurial self loosen?

Partially yeah, maybe, a Job Guarantee if it passes and actually works, would be an anti-neoliberal approach to jobs, which might partially loosen the regime of neoliberal advice for job candidates delivered with a smug attitude that There Is No Alternative. (Described by Gershon). We take it seriously because of a sense of dread that it might actually be powerful enough to lock us out if we don't, and an uncertainty of whether it is or not.

There has been deep damage which is now a very broad and resilient base. It is one of the prongs of why 2008 did not have the kind of discrediting effect that 1929 did. At least that's what I took away from _Never Let_.

Brad DeLong handing the baton might mean something but it is not going to ameliorate the sense-of-life that young people get from managing their channels and metrics.

Take the new 1099 platforms as another focal point. Suppose there were political measures that splice in on the platforms and take the edge off materially, such as underwritten healthcare not tied to your job. The platforms still use star ratings, make star ratings seem normal, and continually push a self-conception as a small business. If you have overt DSA plus covert Becker it is, again, a strange hybrid,

Jeremy Grimm , , March 10, 2019 at 5:13 pm

Your comment is very insightful. Neoliberalism embeds its mindset into the very fabric of our culture and self-concepts. It strangely twists many of our core myths and beliefs.

Raulb , , March 10, 2019 at 6:36 pm

This is nothing but a Trojan horse to 'co-opt' and 'subvert'. Neoliberals sense a risk to their neo feudal project and are simply attempting to infiltrate and hollow out any threats from within.

There are the same folks who have let entire economics departments becomes mouthpieces for corporate propaganda and worked with thousands of think tanks and international organizations to mislead, misinform and cause pain to millions of people.

They have seeded decontextualized words like 'wealth creators' and 'job creators' to create a halo narrative for corporate interests and undermine society, citizenship, the social good, the environment that make 'wealth creation' even possible. So all those take a backseat to 'wealth creator' interests. Since you can't create wealth without society this is some achievement.

Its because of them that we live in a world where the most important economic idea is protecting people like Kochs business and personal interests and making sure government is not 'impinging on their freedom'. And the corollary a fundamental anti-human narrative where ordinary people and workers are held in contempt for even expecting living wages and conditions and their access to basics like education, health care and living conditions is hollowed out out to promote privatization and become 'entitlements'.

Neoliberalism has left us with a decontextualized highly unstable world that exists in a collective but is forcefully detached into a context less individual existence. These are not mistakes of otherwise 'well meaning' individuals, there are the results of hard core ideologues and high priests of power.

Dan , , March 10, 2019 at 7:31 pm

Two thumbs up. This has been an ongoing agenda for decades and it has succeeded in permeating every aspect of society, which is why the United States is such a vacuous, superficial place. And it's exporting that superficiality to the rest of the world.

VietnamVet , , March 10, 2019 at 7:17 pm

I read Brad DeLong's and Paul Krugman's blogs until their contradictions became too great. If anything, we need more people seeing the truth. The Global War on Terror is into its 18th year. In October the USA will spend approximately $6 trillion and will have accomplish nothing except to create blow back. The Middle Class is disappearing. Those who remain in their homes are head over heels in debt.

The average American household carries $137,063 in debt. The wealthy are getting richer.

The Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates families together have as much wealth as the lowest half of Americans. Donald Trump's Presidency and Brexit document that neoliberal politicians have lost contact with reality. They are nightmares that there is no escaping. At best, perhaps, Roosevelt Progressives will be reborn to resurrect regulated capitalism and debt forgiveness.

But more likely is a middle-class revolt when Americans no longer can pay for water, electricity, food, medicine and are jailed for not paying a $1,500 fine for littering the Beltway.

A civil war inside a nuclear armed nation state is dangerous beyond belief. France is approaching this.

[Jan 02, 2019] That madness of the US neocons comes from having no behavioural limits, no references outside of groupthink, and manipulating the language. Simply put, you don't know anymore what's what outside of the narrative your group pushes. The manipulators ends up caught in their lies.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Some years ago, I noticed the American media and politicians were sort of going soft (actually mushy) in the brain department, but I was told not to be so judgemental. As the months went by, I saw more and more people saying "they have gone nuts". So, it turns out I am not alone after all. ..."
"... That madness comes from having no behavioural limits, no references outside of your own opinion but groupthink, and manipulating the language to suit your ambitions (the Orwellism of the US media has been repeatedly pointed at). Simply put, you don't know anymore what's what outside of the narrative your group pushes, you go nuts. The manipulators ends up caught in their lies. All the more when they makes money out of it, which would be the case of all those think tanks and media. ..."
"... War or the threat of war is needed to distract attention from rapidly devolving societal bonds and immense economic inequality. ..."
Jan 02, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Lea , Feb 21, 2018 6:16:53 AM | link

Some years ago, I noticed the American media and politicians were sort of going soft (actually mushy) in the brain department, but I was told not to be so judgemental. As the months went by, I saw more and more people saying "they have gone nuts". So, it turns out I am not alone after all.

That madness comes from having no behavioural limits, no references outside of your own opinion but groupthink, and manipulating the language to suit your ambitions (the Orwellism of the US media has been repeatedly pointed at). Simply put, you don't know anymore what's what outside of the narrative your group pushes, you go nuts. The manipulators ends up caught in their lies. All the more when they makes money out of it, which would be the case of all those think tanks and media.

One could argue that they are not going mad, that they know full well they are lying, but I beg to differ: they don't see anymore how ridiculous or how dumb or smart their arguments are. That would be congruent with a real loss of touch with reality.

One wonders what they see when they look at themselves in a mirror, a garden variety propagandist or a fearless anti-Putin crusader?

Another example of the narrative gone mad: they are sending CNN journos to meet pro-Trump folks who "have been influenced by Russian trolls on social media". https://twitter.com/yashalevine/status/966177091875168256

WJ , Feb 21, 2018 6:38:11 AM | link
War or the threat of war is needed to distract attention from rapidly devolving societal bonds and immense economic inequality.
Ger , Feb 21, 2018 7:52:44 AM | link
Dan @ 4

It is partially tied direct to the economy of the warmongers as trillions of dollars of new cold war slop is laying on the ground awaiting the MICC hogs. American hegemony is primarily about stealing the natural resources of helpless countries. Now in control of all the weak ones, it is time to move to the really big prize: The massive resources of Russia. They (US and their European Lackeys) thought this was a slam dunk when Yeltsin, in his drunken stupors, was literally giving Russia to invading capitalist. Enter Putin, stopped the looting .........connect the dots.

Guy Thornton , Feb 21, 2018 9:10:47 AM | link
Watching the USA these days is like watching a loved one with progressive dementia. I've reached the stage where I think the sooner it's over the better for everyone.

[Sep 29, 2018] Steve Keen How Economics Became a Cult

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... I still find it incredible that this video by Samuelson essentially acknowledging that a key part of his multi-decade "core" textbook is religion, not science, is not more widely shared. ..."
Sep 29, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Steve Keen of Kingston University, London gives an important high-level talk on the considerable shortcomings of mainstream economics. Keen argues that a major objective of the discipline is to justify the virtues of markets, which in turn leads them to adopt a strongly ideological posture along with highly simplified models and narrow mathematical approaches to reach conclusions that they find acceptable.

Keen has many informative asides, like the introductory level texts he used in the 1970s were more advanced than many graduate level guides.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/JeplRmADW3E


el_tel , September 29, 2018 at 7:09 am

I still find it incredible that this video by Samuelson essentially acknowledging that a key part of his multi-decade "core" textbook is religion, not science, is not more widely shared.

OK the person who constructed the complete youtube vid has typos etc and editing probably didn't help the cause. but still

[Sep 07, 2018] Neomodernism - Wikipedia

Highly recommended!
Sep 07, 2018 | en.wikipedia.org

Ágnes Heller

Ágnes Heller's work is associated with Moral Anthropology and "probing modernity's destiny for a non-predatory humanism that combines the existential wisdom of ancient theory with modern values." [1]

Neomodernism accepts some aspects of postmodernism's critique of modernism, notably that modernism elevated the world view of dominant groups to the status of objective fact, thereby failing to express the viewpoint of " subaltern groups," such as women and ethnic minorities. However, in her view, neomodernism rejects postmodernism as:

Victor Grauer

In 1982, Victor Grauer attacked "the cult of the new," and proposed that there had arisen a "neo-modern" movement in the arts which was based on deep formal rigor, rather than on "the explosion of pluralism." [2] His argument was that post-modernism was exclusively a negative attack on modernism, and had no future separate from modernism proper, a point of view which is held by many scholars of modernism. [2]

Carlos Escudé

In "Natural Law at War", a review essay published on 31 May 2002 in The Times Literary Supplement (London, TLS No. 5174), Carlos Escudé wrote: "Postmodern humanity faces a major challenge. It must solve a dilemma it does not want to face. If all cultures are morally equivalent, then all human individuals are not endowed with the same human rights, because some cultures award some men more rights than are allotted to other men and women. If, on the other hand, all men and women are endowed with the same human rights, then all cultures are not morally equivalent, because cultures that acknowledge that 'all men are created equal' are to be regarded as 'superior,' or 'more advanced' in terms of their civil ethics than those that do not." Escudé's brand of neomodernism contends with "politically-correct intellectuals who prefer to opt for the easy way out, asserting both that we all have the same human rights and that all cultures are equal."

Andre Durand and Armando Alemdar

Published their own Neomodernist Manifesto in 2001. The Neomodern Manifesto posits criteria for a revitalised approach to works of art founded on history, traditional artistic disciplines, theology and philosophy. Durand's and Alemdar's Neomodernism views art as an act of expression of the sublime; in Neomodern painting as a representation of the visual appearance of things with correspondence to the physical world understood as a model for beauty, truth, and good. Neomodern works of art via mimesis interpret and present the universe and man's existence, in line with the belief that the reality we live is but a mirror of another universe that can only be accessed through inspiration and imagination.

Gabriel Omowaye

Gabriel Lolu Omowaye, in his speech 'A new challenging time' to a group of college students in Nigeria, in 2005, took a different approach to neomodernism. He viewed neomodernism as a political philosophy that became more prominent in the early 21st century. To him, it involves common goal and joint global effort - universalism - to address arising global challenges such as population growth, natural resources, climate change and environmental factors, natural causes and effects, and health issues. Omowaye posited that political will is the major driver of economic necessities. As a result, he added that neomodernism involves limited government-regulated liberalism along with high drive innovation and entrepreneurship, high literacy rate, progressive taxation for social equity, philanthropism, technological advancement, economic development and individual growth. He perceived the quest for equal representation of men and women in the neomodern era as a strong signal for advent of postmodernism. So also, the quest for youths engagement in resourceful and rewarding ways especially in governance, peace building and self-productivity has not taken a formidable shape than it is at this time. As far as he was concerned, he believed most of these challenges were not adequately tackled in preceding eras and the arising challenges thus stated were not prepared for and that cause for change in mentality and thinking which the neomodern era is providing for solutions to the era's challenges, with a prospective view to global stability and social inclusion. His philosophical thought premised on a fact that new times require new approaches from new reasonings, even if some applicable ideas or methologies could be borrowed from the past, an acute form of paradigm-shift.

Omowaye believed in idealism as guiding realism and in turn, realism as defining idealism. Moral concepts cannot be wished away from social norms, but evolving social trends dissipate morality in form of religion and logical standards and adheres to current norms in form of 'what should be'. Consequently, the manner at which 'what should be' is driven at in the modern and postmodern eras, being widely accepted became 'what is'. The manner at which the damage of the new 'what is' is hampering development process in the form of higher mortality rate and decadence of cultural good, calls to question the ideology behind the norms that are less beneficial to a wider society in form of globalization. The world as a whole through technological advancement became a global community particularly, in the 21st century. Former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan then stated that the "suffering anywhere concerns people everywhere". Champions of neomodern age such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson in the field of philanthropy expounded their vision to encompass the global community in social good such as alleviating poverty, eradicating diseases, enhancing literacy rates and addressing climate changes.

Technological advancement of the neomodern era however has its downturns in that it added to the decadence in cultural good such that people everywhere, especially high number of youths follow the trends in the new 'what is', which include social celebrities in the form of dressing, sexual activities, extravagancies, and less interest in learning and even, working but more interest in making money. Money became a value-determinant than utility. This brought about frauds in various sectors. This latter aspect is not limited to youths but even company executives, and politicians of many societies. Technological advancement has made privacy less safer for intrusion and people more safer for protection. The supposedly good of technological advancement in the neomodern era has included whistle blow such as Wikileaks' Julian Assange. The more good has been in the level of innovations and innovators it has sprung up such as Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and easier business models and broader social connectivity. This latter part has lessened more amity in immediate environment and many people tend to live more in the virtual world neomodern technological advancements have created.

Neomodernism checks more into the current relative way of living of people and the society to correct necessary abnormalities and to encourage virtues and values within the global community in the 21st century.

In furtherance, Gabriel Omowaye's view of neomodernism was that knowledge comes from learning and experience, and wisdom primarily from intuition. Knowledge is a variable of set occurrences of that which happens to a man and that which a man seeks to know. Knowledge is vital and good for discretion but a minor part of discernment wherein what is known might not be applicable. Intuition is a function of the mind and the mind, not seen, and yet unknown to the carrier, is a function of what put the thoughts, ideas and discretion in it. Wisdom without knowledge is vague, and knowledge without wisdom, unworthy. Wisdom perfects knowledge, and in the absence of either, the sole is delusory.

[Jun 15, 2018] Creationists and George W Bush: Bush junior is the best argument against intelligent design

Jun 15, 2018 | www.unz.com

AnonFromTN ,

There are many other clear traces of evolution (constantly developing antibiotic resistance of disease-causing bacteria being one of the most obvious), but the funniest argument for evolution I know is this: "Bush junior is the best argument against intelligent design: nobody intelligent would ever design that".

[May 31, 2018] Meet the Economist Behind the One Percent's Stealth Takeover of America by Lynn Parramore

Highly recommended!
This looks like Ann Rand philosophy: "The people who needed protection were property owners, and their rights could only be secured though constitutional limits to prevent the majority of voters from encroaching on them, an idea Buchanan lays out in works like Property as a Guarantor of Liberty (1993). MacLean observes that Buchanan saw society as a cutthroat realm of makers (entrepreneurs) constantly under siege by takers (everybody else) His own language was often more stark, warning the alleged "prey" of "parasites" and "predators" out to fleece them."
Notable quotes:
"... By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst, Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website ..."
"... The Limits of Liberty ..."
"... Property as a Guarantor of Liberty ..."
"... Brown v. Board of Education ..."
"... Calhoun, called the "Marx of the Master Class" by historian Richard Hofstadter, saw himself and his fellow southern oligarchs as victims of the majority. Therefore, as MacLean explains, he sought to create "constitutional gadgets" to constrict the operations of government ..."
"... She argues out that unlike even the most property-friendly founders Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Buchanan wanted a private governing elite of corporate power that was wholly released from public accountability. ..."
"... Suppressing voting, changing legislative processes so that a normal majority could no longer prevail, sowing public distrust of government institutions -- all these were tactics toward the goal. But the Holy Grail was the Constitution: alter it and you could increase and secure the power of the wealthy in a way that no politician could ever challenge. ..."
"... MacLean observes that the Virginia school, as Buchanan's brand of economic and political thinking is known, is a kind of cousin to the better-known, market-oriented Chicago and Austrian schools -- proponents of all three were members of the Mont Pelerin Society, an international neoliberal organization which included Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek. But the Virginia school's focus and career missions were distinct. In an interview with the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), MacLean described Friedman and Buchanan as yin and yang: "Friedman was this genial, personable character who loved to be in the limelight and made a sunny case for the free market and the freedom to choose and so forth. Buchanan was the dark side of this: he thought, ok, fine, they can make a case for the free market, but everybody knows that free markets have externalities and other problems. So he wanted to keep people from believing that government could be the alternative to those problems." ..."
"... Buchanan's school focused on public choice theory, later adding constitutional economics and the new field of law and economics to its core research and advocacy. The economist saw that his vision would never come to fruition by focusing on who rules. It was much better to focus on the rules themselves , and that required a "constitutional revolution." ..."
"... MacLean describes how the economist developed a grand project to train operatives to staff institutions funded by like-minded tycoons, most significantly Charles Koch, who became interested in his work in the '70s and sought the economist's input in promoting "Austrian economics" in the U.S. and in advising the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. ..."
"... With Koch's money and enthusiasm, Buchanan's academic school evolved into something much bigger. By the 1990s, Koch realized that Buchanan's ideas -- transmitted through stealth and deliberate deception, as MacLean amply documents -- could help take government down through incremental assaults that the media would hardly notice. The tycoon knew that the project was extremely radical, even a "revolution" in governance, but he talked like a conservative to make his plans sound more palatable. ..."
"... At the 1997 fiftieth anniversary of the Mont Pelerin Society, MacLean recounts that Buchanan and his associate Henry Manne, a founding theorist of libertarian economic approaches to law, focused on such affronts to capitalists as environmentalism and public health and welfare, expressing eagerness to dismantle Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare as well as kill public education because it tended to foster community values. Feminism had to go, too: the scholars considered it a socialist project. ..."
"... To put the success into perspective, MacLean points to the fact that Henry Manne, whom Buchanan was instrumental in hiring, created legal programs for law professors and federal judges which could boast that by 1990 two of every five sitting federal judges had participated. "40 percent of the U.S. federal judiciary," writes MacLean, "had been treated to a Koch-backed curriculum." ..."
"... Buchanan's role in the disastrous Pinochet government of Chile has been underestimated partly because unlike Milton Friedman, who advertised his activities, Buchanan had the shrewdness to keep his involvement quiet. With his guidance, the military junta deployed public choice economics in the creation of a new constitution, which required balanced budgets and thereby prevented the government from spending to meet public needs. Supermajorities would be required for any changes of substance, leaving the public little recourse to challenge programs like the privatization of social security. ..."
"... The Limits of Liberty ..."
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