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Elite [Dominance] Theory and the Revolt of the Elite
(Silent Coup or Revolt of the Rich)

News Principal-agent problem Recommended Books Recommended Links The Deep State Audacioues Oligarchy and Loss of Trust Neoliberal "New Class" as variant of Soviet Nomenklatura
The Iron Law of Oligarchy The Pareto Law Amorality of neoliberal elite The Rise of the New Global Elite  Do the US intelligence agencies attempt to influence the US Presidential elections ? Crisis of legitimacy of neoliberal elite Two Party System as polyarchy
Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition Corporatism Neo-fascism National Security State New American Militarism Lesser evil trick of legitimizing disastrous, corrupt neoliberal politicians in US elections   Pluralism as a myth
Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Casino Capitalism Inverted Totalitarism Predator state Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism What's the Matter with Kansas
Neoliberal Brainwashing: Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few US and British media are servants of security apparatus Real war on reality Patterns of Propaganda The importance of controlling the narrative  New American Caste System Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich
Wrecking Crew: Notes on Republican Economic Policy Libertarian Philosophy  Media-Military-Industrial Complex Groupthink Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc

Introduction


Naturally the common people don't want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

Hermann Goering, President of the Reichstag, Nazi Party, and Luftwaffe Commander in Chief

In political science and sociology, elite [dominance] theory is a theory of the state which seeks to describe the power relationships in contemporary society. The theory posits that a small minority, consisting of members of the economic elite, policy-planning networks (which include not only think tanks, but also part of academia, see Econned) and selected members of "professional class", holds the most political power and that they acquire this power bypassing the democratic elections process and are able to hold into it for a long time (see Two Party System as polyarchy).

This, in a way, is close to position of "classic" or paleo conservatives (not to mix them with neocons). Their position has never been simply that a hierarchical society is better than an egalitarian one; it always has been that an egalitarian, genuinely democratic  society is impossible. That every society includes rulers and ruled, and it is rulers(the elite) who make critical decisions, no matter under which sauce: democratic republic, communist dictatorship, authoritarism  or some other variant.  The central question of politics, therefore is how to select the rulers in an optimal way so that those at the bottom of food chain were not mercilessly wiped out. Extremes meet and in fact Bolsheviks were other early adopters of the same "elite dominance" vision. Lenin’s classic  question “who, whom?” is an essence of Bolshevism. While Bolsheviks promised that a classless society would one day emerge as a variant of Christ Second Coming, in the meantime, however, they were open and enthusiastic practitioners of brutal power politics which they shrewdly called "dictatorship of proletariat", while in reality it was a dictatorship of the Party elite and state bureaucrats (so called "nomenklatura")

Under neoliberalism any democracy even theoretically is impossible and to claim otherwise is to engage in open propaganda. Even revolt of people, which is the past was a powerful control mechanism of the elite,  now is very unlikely due to the power and sophistication of repressive apparatus, power at which functionless of Stasi could only dream.. Through positions in corporations and corporate boards, as well as the influence over the policy-planning networks through financial support of foundations`` or positions with think tanks or policy-discussion groups, members of the "elite" are able to exert dominant power over the policy decisions of the corporations in their own favor (outsized bonuses is just one example here) and subdue the national governments to the interests of those corporations due to financial levers that corporate wealth provides.

A recent example of this can be found in the Forbes Magazine article [1] (published in December 2009) entitled The World's Most Powerful People, in which Forbes lists the 67 people, which the editors consider to be the most powerful people in the world (assigning one "slot" for each hundred million of humans).

The initial variant of this theory was proposed In 1956, C Wright Mills. In his book The Power Elite he described how political, corporate and military leaders in the US made policy with minimal, if al all, control, or even just consideration of preferences or concerns of ordinary citizens.

The majority of Americans now feel they are ruled by a remote, detached from their needs elite class.  As Robert Johnson noted "Oligarchy now is audacious. They don't really care if they are legitimate. Their slogan is: "Legitimate if you can, coerce if you have to, and accommodate if you must."  That creates  as Christopher Hayes  noted "national mood of exhaustion, frustration and betrayal" at the "near total failure of each pillar institution of our society."

As soon as we understand the dominance of elite is inevitable several fundamental questions arise:

Elite dominance theory postulates that there are powerful barriers that exist for citizens  participation of the citizens in the control of government. In less "politically correct" terms "rank-and-file" citizens are politically powerless. Still the stability of the society depends on the ability of the most capable members of the society, no matter in what strata they were born, to rise to the top.  Equal opportunities in education in this sense are of paramount importance and represent a real "safety valve" in the society. 

As for the question whether the elite is interested in stability and well-being of the given society, the key problem is to determine about which society we are talking. Elite low operates in transnational categories and can value stability of "transnational world" higher then stability and well-being of a given society. The idea that the national elite acts in the interest of the nation is now under review. Dissolution of the USSR, when the elite (aka nomenklatura)  singlehandingly decimated and "privatized" the whole country to get their "fair share" of wealth is a telling example, a textbook example of self-centered and destructive behavior of  new "transnational" elites.

It has shown that modern elites are not anymore connected with their country of origin and social background and roots. Paradoxically, the KGB elite actively participated in dismantling of the USSR, and Gorbachov was put in power mostly by efforts of Andropov, the guy who was the head of KGB.  Here is one telling comment:

IHaveLittleToAdd, Aug 28, 2014 9:03:13 AM

Considering the non-elite citizens of the US have effectively no say in policy, what would happen if all of a sudden our government and media began shooting straight? Seems to me, pretty much nothing. It's not that most of the people I know don't realize we are being deceived to advance an altogether hidden agenda, it's that they simply don't care and are unaware of even the fabricated story.

In other words, the world's ruling elites are abandoning their host countries. They have a global vision and ambitions, their families often live in countries other are then their native country (and the country of main business), and they do not accept any constraints (such as level of taxation) and limits (such as local laws) in the pursuance of their egotistical interests, which are basically money oriented.

They move their money to offshore zones to avoid taxation. They break with impunity local laws to increase profits. It is now common for the leaders and members of the ruling elite to base self esteem upon material success, accumulation of raw wealth, emphasize Randian positivist philosophy and downplay humanistic ideals such as respect and tolerance. They no longer feel in the same boat as the rest of the society and openly worship on the altar of unlimited, pathological greed. This is especially noticeable among the US and GB financial elite.  In the USA they also morphed both Republican party and Democratic party into a single party of  rent-seekers on behalf of the wealthier members of society.

Marx would turn in his grave, if he saw how his idea of international unity of workers mutated into the actual international unity of elites. And how elites instead of workers implement a version of socialism, "socialism for rich", or "corporate welfare society". And they do it much more effectively then communists ever managed to implement "socialism for working class" (which actually was never a real goal, just a convenient slogan).  And like Bolsheviks they also practice redistribution of profits. In the same direction toward "nomenklatura", but much more effectively (also under Stalin regime position in nomenklatura was a precarious, as Stalin practiced "purges" as a method for rotation of the elite)

With NAFTA as a prominent example, Jeff Faux had shown how national elites are morphing into a global governing class ('The Party of Davos') and are shaping the new global economy alongside the lines of their neoliberal gospel. Their long arms are the IMF, the WTO, transnational corporations and transnational economic agreements. Being transnational the US elite does not care that the technological engine of the 20th century, the USA, is fatally wounded. That its high-tech industry, which was envy of the whole world is now outsourced, education way too expensive and outside several top universities is quite mediocre, and its scientific power is waning.

In other words they no longer believe in a Benjamin Franklin's dictum: "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

Classic Elite theory

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

-- George Gavlin

Classic Elite [Dominance] Theory is based on several ideas:

  1. Power lies in the positions of authority in key economic and political institutions.  
  2. The Iron Law of Oligarchy is a political theory, first developed by the German sociologist Robert Michels in his book 1915 Political Parties. Michels was an anarcho-syndicalist at the time he formulated the Law. He later became an important ideologue of Mussolini's fascist regime in Italy. The simplest formulation of the 'Iron Law of Oligarchy': "Who says organization, says oligarchy." In essence Iron law of oligarchy postulate that any complex organization self-generate its own elite, an oligarchy that has disproportional influence on the decisions made in the organization and is pretty autonomous from "rank-and-file" members and is little affected by elections. As such Iron law of oligarchy stands in stark opposition to pluralism and suggests that "participatory democracy" is a utopian ideal and that democracy is always limited to very narrow strata of existing oligarchy (top 0.01% in the USA). It also stands in opposition to state autonomy theory. 
  3. Pareto principle is related to the original observation was in connection concentration of the wealth in top 20% of the population. Pareto noticed that 80% of Italy's land was owned by 20% of the population. He then carried out surveys on a variety of other countries and found to his surprise that a similar distribution applied. Due to the scale-invariant nature of the power law relationship, the relationship applies also to subsets of the income range. Even if we take the ten wealthiest individuals in the world, we see that the top three (Carlos Slim Helú, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates) own as much as the next seven put together. A chart that gave the inequality a very visible and comprehensible form, the so-called 'champagne glass' effect, was contained in the 1992 United Nations Development Program Report, which showed the distribution of global income to be very uneven, with the richest 20% of the world's population controlling 82.7% of the world's income.
    Distribution of world GDP, 1989[8]
    Quintile of population Income
    Richest 20% 82.70%
    Second 20% 11.75%
    Third 20% 2.30%
    Fourth 20% 1.85%
    Poorest 20% 1.40%

    The Pareto principle has also been used to attribute the widening economic inequality in the United States to 'skill-biased technical change'—i.e. income growth accrues to those with the education and skills required to take advantage of new technology and globalization. 

  4. The psychological difference that sets elites apart is that they have personal resources, for instance intelligence and skills, money, and a vested interest in the government; while the rest are relatively incompetent and do not have the capabilities of governing themselves and are deprived of money. That means that once in power the elite are resourceful and will strive to sustain its rule. 
  5. The elite have the most to lose if government or state failed as Russian elite discovered twice in the last century. So there are some natural limits of plundering of the state by the elite. 
  6. The simple plurality voting system is a single-winner voting system also called  winner-takes-all or  first-past-the-post. The latter term is an analogy to horse racing, where the winner of the race is the first to pass a particular point (the "post") on the track, after which all other runners automatically lose. Elections in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada belong to this category. In this voting there is no requirement that the winner gain an absolute majority of votes. Duverger's law is a principle which asserts that any plurality voting system elections naturally impose a two-party system  That means that single-winner voting system essentially hand all the power to the elite as it is elite that controls the electability of candidates from both parties. The discovery of this tendency is attributed to Maurice Duverger, a French sociologist who observed the effect and recorded it in several papers published in the 1950s and 1960s. In the course of further research, other political scientists began calling the effect a "law" or principle. Duverger's law suggests a nexus or synthesis between a party system and an electoral system: a proportional representation (PR) system creates the electoral conditions necessary to foster party development while a plurality system marginalizes smaller political parties, resulting in what is known as a two-party system.

The top twelve classical elite theorists include

  1. Karl Marx  is typically cited, along with Émile Durkheim and Max Weber, as one of the three principal architects of modern social science. Although the key postulate of Marxism about liberating role of proletariat proved wrong, Marxism made a tremendous contribution into understanding of power structure of the society, pointing that all power is concentrated directly or indirectly in owners of capital hands: a sociological theory of class domination. Marxism teaches that all societies progress through the dialectic of class struggle: a conflict between an ownership class which controls production and a lower class which produces the labor for goods. He called the current socio-economic form of society (capitalism) "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie" that is run by the wealthy elite purely for own benefit, and predicted that, like previous socioeconomic systems, it would inevitably produce internal tensions within different faction of the elite. He first understood that political class represents a powerful force that is somewhat independent from economic foundations, especially if it is organized as a political party (and state can even be dominated by a fervent ideological network like USSR, China, Saudi Arabia,  Iran since 1979).  and that the current political elite is vary to redistribute this power with other factions of the elite even if relative balance of power within various factions changed.  What Marx give to the world is the understanding is that of Western history from the disintegration of Roman Empire was about the deadly conflict between rising factions of economic elite (industrial, landed, banking, etc) and existing political elite, with an occasional and temporary coalitions with peasants or artisans who tried to take advantage of the divisions in elite circles. So what Marx incorrectly called class struggle was actually a deadly struggle between economic and political elites within a society. In the 17th and 18th centuries it begins to make sense to describe the state -- paraphrasing Marx -- as an executive committee for managing the common affairs of the elite.  Generally speaking, Marx overstated the importance of industrial capitalists as compared to landed elites within the ruling circles of the 19th century, and of urban workers as compared to other urban dwellers and peasants (Hamilton, 1991). 
  2. Thorstein Veblen combined sociology with economics in his masterpiece The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899) where he argued that there was a basic distinction between the productiveness of "industry", run by engineers manufacturing goods, vis-à-vis the parasitism of "business" that exists only to make profits for elite that he called  a leisure class. The chief activity of the elite was "conspicuous consumption", and their economic contribution is "waste," activity that contributes nothing to productivity. The American economy was thereby made inefficient and corrupt though Veblen never made that claim explicit. He believed that technological advances were the driving force behind cultural change, but, unlike many contemporaries, refused to connect change with progress. Although Veblen was sympathetic to state ownership of industry, he had a low opinion of workers and the labor movement. He pointed out that the new industrial processes created a conflict between businessmen and engineers, with businessmen representing the older order and engineers as the innovators of new ways of doing things. In combination with the tendencies described in The Theory of the Leisure Class, this conflict resulted in waste and “predation” that served to enhance the social status of those who could benefit from predatory claims to goods and services. 
  3. Vilfredo Pareto. Pareto emphasized the psychological and intellectual superiority that the Elites obtained, he believed that the elites were the highest accomplishers in any field and he discussed how there were two types of Elites
    1. governing elites
    2. non-governing elites

    He also extended on the idea that a whole elite can be replaced by a new one and how one can circulate from being elite to non-elite. 

  4. Gaetano Mosca. Mosca emphasized the sociological and personal characteristics of elites. He said elites are an organized minority and that the masses are an unorganized majority. The ruling class is composed of the ruling elite and the sub-elites. He divides the world into two groups:
    1. ruling class
    2. class that is ruled

    Mosca asserts that elites have intellectual, moral, and material superiority and/or other qualities that is highly esteemed and influential. 

  5. Robert Michels.  German sociologist Robert Michels developed The Iron Law of Oligarchy in his book  Political Parties published in 1915.  The Iron Law of Oligarchy  asserts that social and political organizations are run by few individuals, and social organization and labor division are the key. He believed that all organizations are elitist and that existence of elites is based on several factors that come into play in the bureaucratic structure of any large political organization:
    1. Need for leaders, as well as for specialized staff and facilities.
    2. The relative scarcity of the people with the psychological attributes of the leaders
    3. Natural monopolization of the their position by elected leaders within any sizable organization and related subversion of the democratic process even in organizations devoted to the promotion of democracy.

    Michels stressed several factors that underlie the 'Iron Law of Oligarchy'.

    In other words rule by an elite (aka "oligarchy") is inevitable within any large organization and society as a whole because both  "tactical and technical necessities".  As Michels stated:

    "It is organization which gives birth to the dominion of the elected over the electors, of the mandataries over the mandators, of the delegates over the delegators. Who says organization, says oligarchy".

     He went on to state that "Historical evolution mocks all the prophylactic measures that have been adopted for the prevention of oligarchy." That means that the official goal of democracy of eliminating elite rule is impossible, and any "democracy" is always just a façade legitimizing the rule of a particular elite. What is important is the level of mobility of "non-elite" to the elite and the rotation of the elite.  

  6. C. Wright Mills. Mills published his book The Power Elite in 1956, which provided a new sociological perspective on structure of power in the United States. He identified a triumvirate of power groups - political, economic and military - which form a distinguishable, although not unified, power-wielding body in the United States. This theory later was enhanced by Michael Mann who proposed that the power structures within Western civilization, and probably other civilizations, too, are best understood by determining the intertwining and relative importance at any given time of the organizations based in four "overlapping and intersecting sociospatial networks of power" (Mann, 1986, p. 1). These networks are ideological, economic, military, and political. This view is called "The IEMP model".  Simultaneous crisis in several of those networks, the phenomenon we observe now in the USA and previously in the USSR represent a social crisis.

    Mills proposed that those groups emerged through a process of rationalization at work that occurs in all advanced industrial societies. And in all of them power became concentrated at the very top (0.01%), funneling overall control into the hands of a very small, somewhat corrupt group.  This tendency is reflected in a decline of politics as an arena for debate about social change and relegation it to a merely formal level of discourse about non-essential issues, a smokescreen for backroom dealings of the oligarchy,

    This macro-scale analysis sought to point out that the degradation of democracy in "advanced" societies in not accidental. It reflects the fact that real power generally lies outside  of the elected representatives. A main influence on the emergence of this views on politics was Franz Leopold Neumann's book, Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism, 1933-1944 , a study of how Nazism came to power in the German democratic state.

    It provided the tools to analyze the structure of a political system and served as a warning of what could happen in a modern capitalistic democracy. 

  7. Floyd Hunter. The elite theory analysis of power was also applied on the micro scale in community power studies such as that by Floyd Hunter (1953). Hunter examined in detail the power relationships evident in his "Regional City" looking for the "real" holders of power rather than those in obvious official positions. He posited a structural-functional approach which mapped the hierarchies and webs of interconnection operating within the city – mapping relationships of power between businessmen, politicians, clergy etc.

    The study debunks current mythology about the level of ‘democracy’ is present within urban politics.

    This type of analysis was also used in later, larger scale, studies such as that carried out by M. Schwartz examining the power structures within the corporate elite in the USA. 

  8. G. William Domhoff. In his book Who Rules America?, G. William Domhoff researched local and national decision making process networks in order to illustrate the power structure in the United States. He asserts, much like Hunter, that an elite class that owns and manages large income-producing properties (like banks and corporations) dominate the American power structure politically and economically.  
  9. James Burnham. Burnham’s early work The Managerial Revolution sought to express the movement of all functional power into the hands of appointed managers rather than the owners – separating ownership and control. Many of these ideas were adapted by paleoconservatives Samuel T. Francis and Paul Gottfried in their theories of the managerial state. Burnham's thoughts on Elite Theory were elucidated more specifically in his book The Machiavellians which discusses the thoughts of, among others, Pareto, Mosca, and Michels; in it he attempts to analyze of both elites and politics generally from his background as a former Trotskyite. 
  10. John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) proposed the term technostructure in his book "The New Industrial State" (1967) to describe the group of managers within an enterprise (or an administrative body) with considerable political influence (especially true for financial brass) and the level of control on nation's economy. It usually refers to so called managerial capitalism where top managers, scientists, or lawyers acquire more power and influence than the shareholders in the corporation. They are the de-facto the owners of the corporation, while shareholders (outside a few large one) are generally powerless to influence the way the corporation develops and do business. 
  11. Robert D. Putnam

    Putnam saw the development of technical and exclusive knowledge among administrators and other specialist groups as a mechanism by which power is stripped from the democratic process and slipped sideways to the advisors and specialists influencing the decision making process.[7]

    "If the dominant figures of the past hundred years have been the entrepreneur, the businessman, and the industrial executive, the ‘new men’ are the scientists, the mathematicians, the economists, and the engineers of the new intellectual technology."

  12. Thomas R. Dye. Dye in his book Top Down Policymaking, argues that U.S. public policy does not result from the "demands of the people," but from quite opposite phenomenon -- the Elite consensus found in Washington. It is a consensus between key non-profit foundations, think tanks, special-interest groups, and prominent lobbyists and law firms. Dye's thesis is further expanded upon in his works: The Irony of Democracy, Politics in America, Understanding Public Policy, and Who's Running America?

The idea of "The Revolt of the Elites" and "The Quiet Coup" by Financial Oligarchy

Previous consensus was that elite generally shares the idea that the society in which they live works best when all members of society can engage in upward mobility and improve their status via education and entrepreneurship. If there is significant upward mobility channels then members of society perceive themselves as belonging to the same team and care about ensuring that that team succeeds.

But in new" internationalized" world dominated by transnational corporations, the notion that a company or corporate executive of transnational corporation or professional (for example, IT professional) working is such a corporation is bound by an allegiance to their country of origin and work for its benefit is passé. The elites  of today are bound to their corporations, one another, not to the countries. And their greed is just overwhelming and decimates all other considerations such as patriotism and moral obligations. Amorality became a norm. 

People outside the elite became just tools, not compatriots and their standard of living means nothing.  This new generation of transnational elite are running the country like a regular for profit corporation in which they are both the members of the board and the controlling shareholders.

Not all elites are created equal. In the last half-century we have witnessed a dramatic expansion of American corporate power into every corner of the world, accompanied by an equally awesome growth in U.S. military power. The means the US elite is higher on pecking order then elites of other countries. That does not make it less transnational.  And this new power of the USA as a sole superpower state  is not used in traditional way to conquer and plunder the countries (like the USA did in Philippines, Mexico and other countries in the past). Instead it is used to support subservient regimes that favor business interests of transnational companies, putting those interests above interest of the country and its people. And if necessity remove non-complaint regimes by force The USA foreign policy now is essentially based on the coercive use of economic, political, and military power to expropriate other nations land, labor, capital, natural resources, commerce, and markets in the interests of transnational corporation, not in the interest of the American people. Now the decisive factor in the selection of allies and foes is the respective actors' position on "free market policies" like trade liberalization, privatization and deregulation, that favor international corporations and related transnational part of elite. In fact, the USA recent "patterns of intervention" reveal no or little correlation between democratic ideals and the role the US plays in the affairs of other nations. Globalization that is very successfully enforced by the USA foreign policy establishment (which contrary to its critics proved to be very apt and competent in achieving its goals) amounts to a Quiet coup d'état by transnational capital over the peoples of the world, subverting democracy and national autonomy everywhere including the USA itself, while ushering in a new stage of international expropriation of resources in the interest of elite and sending the US citizens to die for the benefit of transnational corporations. the blowback for the US people includes a national security state, an inviolable Pentagon budget, and rampant PTSD among military personnel.  From this point of view the popular but simplistic notion that a neoconservative cabal headed by George W. Bush has somehow 'hijacked' the U.S. government looks extremely naive.

In effect the transnational elite behaves as an occupying  power, although less brutal, toward the US population as well.  In a way America  is just another casualty of the new transnational elite. Cutbacks in social programs, decaying infrastructure, declining wages, massive unemployment, and the rise of municipalities facing bankruptcy means not only that a republic in decline, but that unchecked appetites of transnational elite fit classic Marxist scenario -- to expropriate as much above minimum subsistence level as possible. 

An important additional factor is the a new elite despise commoners. As Christoper Lasch pointed out in his groundbreaking book: "The new elites, the professional classes in particular, regard the masses with mingled scorn and apprehension."

Playing with financial flows as if they are computer game lead to high levels of unemployment, which can no longer be regarded as aberrational, but due to labor arbitrage and dramatically improved communications became a necessary part of the working mechanisms of  modern capitalist mode of production.

Oligarchy became really audacious. They don't really care if they are legitimate. "Legitimate if you can, coerce if you have to, and accommodate if you must." Crass materialism and accumulation of excessive wealth became the primary goal. Privatization and sell of public assets -- the mean to achieve those goals.

They have what Dr. John McMurtry has termed "The Ruling Group Mind"  when reality is warped to  conform to manufactured delusions submerging the group and its members within a set of  hysteria, denials and projections...

The USA still has a privileged position in this "new world order" but no my much. As Napoleon Bonaparte observed

"When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes.

Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain." 

"The Revolt of the Elites" by Christoper Lasch

Christopher Lasch (1932-1994) was a historian and penetrating social critic. He was the first who promoted the idea  that the values and attitudes of elites and those of the working classes have dramatically diverged to the extent that elite became a natural "fifth column" within the state and generally hostile to the nation-state well-being and especially to the well-being of lower strata of the population. 

In 1994, Lasch had come to believe that the economic and cultural elite of the United States, who historically has insured the continuity of a culture had lost faith in the traditional values (which that organized the country culture since its inception), and replaced then with unrestrained greed . He saw a threat to the continuation of Western civilization was not a mass revolt as envisioned by the pro-communist New Left of the 1960's, but a rejection of its liberal and pluralistic values by the educated elite. (see Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult)

In the process of throwing off  elements of traditional morality, transnational elite adopted Nietzschean "Übermensch" mentality (typically in the form of Objectivism).  They also have mastered the art of the shameless transgression of authority for their own enrichment. This tendency became possible because of computer revolution. Computers dramatically increased the capability of transnational corporation making possible growth far beyond that was possible before them. They also enabled "hacking" on monetary system to the extent that was not possible in 1920, although financial elite were always capable to find a sure way to a huge crash to be bailed out by the state again and again. . 

Here is a couple of insightful reviews from Amazon:

According to Lasch, contrary to the thesis advanced by Ortega y Gasset in The Revolt of the Masses, the revolt of the masses is over ending in the defeat of communism and is to be followed by a revolt of the cultural elite. Lasch advances arguments showing how we have reached a new stage of political development in America where the elite have become increasingly detached from the concerns of the common man. Unlike the elite of past ages, the former aristocracy of wealth and status, the new elite constitutes an aristocracy of merit. However, unlike in past ages, the new elite have increasingly alienated themselves from the common man. Lasch demonstrates how an increasing division between rich and poor, in which the working class has become alienated from the intellectual class of "symbolic analysts", has led to an utter sense of apathy among the American people.

In addition, the values of the new intellectual class are utterly different from the values of the man in the street. While the working class is fundamentally culturally conservative (a fact which Lasch has certainly latched onto) demanding moral certainties on such issues as homosexual rights, abortion, feminism, patriotism, and religion, the intellectual class demands political correctness advocating affirmative action, feminism, homosexual liberation, and promoting a radical (or rather, pseudo-radical) agenda.

Lasch seems to sympathize with the populists of old, who sought a sort of third way between the horrors of monopoly capitalism and the welfare state. Populists promoted the values of the common man, thus maintaining a cultural conservativism, while at the same time demonstrating an innate fear of bigness and far off bureaucracy. In addition, Lasch sees in communitarianism which seeks to emphasize the role of community, neighborhoods, and organic connectedness (contrary to libertarianism which emphasizes the individual at the whim of market forces and cultural pluralism) a new hope for the working class and cultural conservativism. Those who are opposed to communitarianism argue that based on previous experiments with small close knit communities (particularly emphasizing cases such as Calvin's Geneva and the New England Puritans but also small towns and neighborhoods) that these are oppressive. Obviously a balance needs to be struck; nevertheless, a re-emphasis on community and traditional values is obviously an important way to achieve improvement in human conditions. Unlike many right wing libertarians who may give lip service to "family values" but who then place the family at the whim of unfettered markets and corporate interests, Lasch argues for a restraint in order to facilitate family and community growth. Lasch shows how class remains an important division with equality of opportunity being merely a further means to oppress the working class. In addition, Lasch shows how the left uses the issue of race (extended arbitrarily to include all minorities and underprivileged - as defined by them, particularly so as to include whites) to create further difficulties for the common man, who is utterly alienated by political correctness. Lasch also argues that feminism remains an important force for the new class, because by allowing more women to enter the workforce they have achieved a situation whereby they perpetuate themselves. Lasch also turns his attention to education, showing how the modern system of compulsory education has failed, emphasizing the failures of such individuals as Horace Mann, who sought to eliminate politics from education. In addition, Lasch turns his attention to the university system, a hotbed of political correctness, multiculturalism, and postmodernist philosophies. Lasch shows how these philosophies have totally alienated any contact that universities may have with ordinary citizens, becoming more and more jargon-laden and specialized while at the same time promoting values completely contrary to those of the common man. Lasch refers to this as "academic pseudo-radicalism" to show how it differs distinctly from true radicalism, how it is fundamentally elitist, and how it further denies opportunities to the very minorities that it claims to so valiantly protect. However, unlike many of the other right wing critics of the university system, Lasch argues that corporations have continued to play a large role in the development of departments leading to a weakening of humanities programs. I found Lasch's criticisms of political correctness in the university system to be particularly cogent. While economically Lasch is opposed to unfettered capitalism, nevertheless he finds room to criticize the welfare state and government bureaucracy which promotes dependency and a culture of victimization. Lasch also shows how respect and shame have been misunderstood by the modern age. In addition, Lasch shows how a culture of narcissism has developed in this country, in which individuals have become excessively self interested and rely heavily on psychotherapies which promote self esteem and "happiness" as the highest good. Lasch also argues for a return to traditional religious values as a means for achieving hope and providing an inoculation against otherwise difficult times.

As a cultural conservative, I found Lasch's brand of populism/communitarianism to be particularly interesting. Lasch's analysis of the elites seems to make sense in light of their lack of contact with everyday reality, their lack of respect for common sense and the average person, and their lack of ties to nation and place. Our country is increasingly controlled by political elites in both parties who serve merely as tourists with little interest in America beyond what makes them money. In this respect, I believe Lasch's arguments to be particularly well thought out.

caroline miranda "caroline miranda" (los angeles) -

The aristocratic elitism of modern society's version of royalty--well-educated liberals, university administrators, race and class baiters and political elites who fear accusations of being insufficiently sophisticated and sensitive--are tossed off their thrones by Christopher Lasch. Lasch gives a clear and comprehensive overview of the social and political upheaval of the last 40 years that occurred under the noses of a bland and uncaring populace.

He explains the changes in America that led to morality becoming a code word for judgmentalism, standards becoming a code word for racism, multiculturalism becoming a code word for denigrating an evil European culture, the loss of family and neighborhood hailed as necessary for individual freedom, and the death of social cohesiveness, which never was mourned. "Most of our spiritual energy is devoted precisely to a campaign against shame and guilt, the object of which is to make people 'feel good about themselves.' The churches themselves have enlisted in this therapeutic exercise...," he notes.

Lest one think this is a Bill Bennett-type bromide, Lasch's observations extend far beyond the ain't-divorce-and-latchkey-children-terrible speech and extends to the paradox of modern society in which people have never been better off materially because of capitalism but so in danger of losing the core of their souls and their society's democratic values.

Individuality without community connection and the disintegration of unstated but commonly understood traditional rules and obligations that neighbors and a community once believed they owed other threaten democracy, Lasch believes.

When multiculturalism is seen from a limited tourist-type approach of folk dances and exotic food, when crime and violence in ethnic neighborhoods replace social cohesiveness, when impersonal malls and fast food restaurants displace informal gathering spots where people once discussed ideas and experiences, and when intimidation and name-calling replace reasoned debate, the country is deeply troubled, he notes. Worse yet, no one seems to find these developments alarming, so enmeshed they are in their structured public work worlds and isolated private home worlds.

Lasch pessimistically regrets the faltering of the foundation of a culture lost the very core of its democratic ideals: reasoned governance by an informed populace with a sense of community and ethics. He decries the usurpation of cultural norms instigated by elites, who rarely venture outside their smug circle of we-know-best-for-you compatriots and who refuse to acknowledge a need for individual responsibility and rather see the average, ordinary working person as a spigot for unending social spending and an unsophisticated inferior.

"...Identity politics has come to serve as a substitute for religion--or at least for the feeling of self-righteousness that is so commonly confused with religion," he says, while meanwhile decrying the modern tendency to use religion as a way to achieve personal happiness instead of as a guide to rightful living.

Lasch's clear and flowing writing style and his insights into the disorder and straying of modern society from its historical anchor make the book a timely and informative expose of many of the ills of modern society.

The Quiet Coup of Financial Oligarchy by Simon Johnson

Simon Johnson is the Ronald A. Kurtz (1954) Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT's Sloan School of Management. He wrote an influential piece in the Atlantic Magazine titled The Quiet Coup.  While in reality translation elite is much broader, he concentrated on financial elite (or financial oligarchy) as the dominant player among them and provided an interesting perspective on how they got dominant power position and fully control government of a particular country (in this case the USA was an example):

Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason—the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit—and, most of the time, genteel—oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders.

When a country like Indonesia or South Korea or Russia grows, so do the ambitions of its captains of industry. As masters of their mini-universe, these people make some investments that clearly benefit the broader economy, but they also start making bigger and riskier bets. They reckon—correctly, in most cases—that their political connections will allow them to push onto the government any substantial problems that arise.

In Russia, for instance, the private sector is now in serious trouble because, over the past five years or so, it borrowed at least $490 billion from global banks and investors on the assumption that the country’s energy sector could support a permanent increase in consumption throughout the economy. As Russia’s oligarchs spent this capital, acquiring other companies and embarking on ambitious investment plans that generated jobs, their importance to the political elite increased. Growing political support meant better access to lucrative contracts, tax breaks, and subsidies. And foreign investors could not have been more pleased; all other things being equal, they prefer to lend money to people who have the implicit backing of their national governments, even if that backing gives off the faint whiff of corruption.

But inevitably, emerging-market oligarchs get carried away; they waste money and build massive business empires on a mountain of debt. Local banks, sometimes pressured by the government, become too willing to extend credit to the elite and to those who depend on them. Overborrowing always ends badly, whether for an individual, a company, or a country. Sooner or later, credit conditions become tighter and no one will lend you money on anything close to affordable terms.

The downward spiral that follows is remarkably steep. Enormous companies teeter on the brink of default, and the local banks that have lent to them collapse. Yesterday’s “public-private partnerships” are relabeled “crony capitalism.” With credit unavailable, economic paralysis ensues, and conditions just get worse and worse. The government is forced to draw down its foreign-currency reserves to pay for imports, service debt, and cover private losses. But these reserves will eventually run out. If the country cannot right itself before that happens, it will default on its sovereign debt and become an economic pariah. The government, in its race to stop the bleeding, will typically need to wipe out some of the national champions—now hemorrhaging cash—and usually restructure a banking system that’s gone badly out of balance. It will, in other words, need to squeeze at least some of its oligarchs.

Squeezing the oligarchs, though, is seldom the strategy of choice among emerging-market governments. Quite the contrary: at the outset of the crisis, the oligarchs are usually among the first to get extra help from the government, such as preferential access to foreign currency, or maybe a nice tax break, or—here’s a classic Kremlin bailout technique—the assumption of private debt obligations by the government. Under duress, generosity toward old friends takes many innovative forms. Meanwhile, needing to squeeze someone, most emerging-market governments look first to ordinary working folk—at least until the riots grow too large.

Eventually, as the oligarchs in Putin’s Russia now realize, some within the elite have to lose out before recovery can begin. It’s a game of musical chairs: there just aren’t enough currency reserves to take care of everyone, and the government cannot afford to take over private-sector debt completely.

He lays out the threat that the American society faced now -- capture of the government by the finance industry:

"The great wealth that the financial sector created and concentrated gave bankers enormous political weight—a weight not seen in the U.S. since the era of J.P. Morgan (the man). In that period, the banking panic of 1907 could be stopped only by coordination among private-sector bankers: no government entity was able to offer an effective response. But that first age of banking oligarchs came to an end with the passage of significant banking regulation in response to the Great Depression; the reemergence of an American financial oligarchy is quite recent."

"The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time."

In his NPR interview with Terry Gross he demonstrated that he does not understand the fact that the mousetrap is closed and that financial oligarchy the ruling elite of the country without any significant countervailing forces. So he dispensed a pretty naive advice (Fighting America's 'Financial Oligarchy):

"We face at least two major, interrelated problems," Johnson writes. "The first is a desperately ill banking sector that threatens to choke off any incipient recovery that the fiscal stimulus might generate. The second is a political balance of power that gives the financial sector a veto over public policy, even as that sector loses popular support."

Johnson insists the U.S. must temporarily nationalize banks so the government can "wipe out bank shareholders, replace failed management, clean up the balance sheets, and then sell the banks back to the private sector." But, Johnson adds, the U.S. government is unlikely to take these steps while the financial oligarchy is still in place.

Unless the U.S. breaks up its financial oligarchy, Johnson warns that America could face a crisis that "could, in fact, be worse than the Great Depression — because the world is now so much more interconnected and because the banking sector is now so big."

A good discussion of his key ideas can be found at Jesse's Café Américain Sep 02, 2012 post  Reprise -- Simon Johnson On the Quiet Coup d'Etat in the Anglo-American Financial System

In an interview with MIT economist Simon Johnson which was posted here in February, 2009.

Have we heeded Simon Johnson's warning? Has he proven to be prescient? Is crony capitalism and the kleptocracy becoming bolder, more aggressive, ever more demanding?

"I think I'm signaling something a little bit shocking to Americans, and to myself, actually. Which is the situation we find ourselves in at this moment, this week, is very strongly reminiscent of the situations we've seen many times in other places.

But they're places we don't like to think of ourselves as being similar to. They're emerging markets. It's Russia or Indonesia or a Thailand type situation, or Korea. That's not comfortable. America is different. America is special. America is rich. And, yet, we've somehow find ourselves in the grip of the same sort of crisis and the same sort of oligarchs...

But, exactly what you said, it's a small group with a lot of power. A lot of wealth. They don't necessarily - they're not necessarily always the names, the household names that spring to mind, in this kind of context. But they are the people who could pull the strings. Who have the influence. Who call the shots...

...the signs that I see this week, the body language, the words, the op-eds, the testimony, the way they're treated by certain Congressional committees, it makes me feel very worried.

I have this feeling in my stomach that I felt in other countries, much poorer countries, countries that were headed into really difficult economic situation. When there's a small group of people who got you into a disaster, and who were still powerful. Disaster even made them more powerful. And you know you need to come in and break that power. And you can't. You're stuck....

The powerful people are the insiders. They're the CEOs of these banks. They're the people who run these banks. They're the people who pay themselves the massive bonuses at the end of the last year. Now, those bonuses are not the essence of the problem, but they are a symptom of an arrogance, and a feeling of invincibility, that tells you a lot about the culture of those organizations, and the attitudes of the people who lead them...

But it really shows you the arrogance, and I think these people think that they've won. They think it's over. They think it's won. They think that we're going to pay out ten or 20 percent of GDP to basically make them whole. It's astonishing....

...these people are throughout the system of government. They are very much at the forefront of the Treasury. The Treasury is apparently calling the shots on their economic policies.

This is a decisive moment. Either you break the power or we're stuck for a long time with this arrangement."

Bill Moyer's Journal - Interview with Simon Johnson, February, 2009.

Johnson also wrote a piece in the Atlantic Magazine titled The Quiet Coup. It may be worth re-reading.
Here is the introduction to this in The Fall of the American Republic: The Quiet Coup d'Etat in August 2010.
"I am not so optimistic that this reform is possible, because there has in fact been a soft coup d'etat in the US, which now exists in a state of crony corporatism that wields enormous influence over the media and within the government.

Let's be clear about this, the oligarchs are flush with victory, and feel that they are firmly in control, able to subvert and direct any popular movement to the support of their own fascist ends and unshakable will to power.

This is the contempt in which they hold the majority of American people and the political process: the common people are easily led fools, and everyone else who is smart enough to know better has their price. And they would beggar every middle class voter in the US before they will voluntarily give up one dime of their ill gotten gains.

But my model says that the oligarchs will continue to press their advantages, being flushed with victory, until they provoke a strong reaction that frightens everyone, like a wake up call, and the tide then turns to genuine reform."

As far as I can tell, we are right on track for a very bad time of it. And you might be surprised at how far a belief in exceptionalism and arrogant superiority can go before it finally ends, or more likely, falls.

Revolt of the Rich by Mike Lofgren

An interesting variation of the quiet coup theory was advanced by Mike Lofgren in his influence article Revolt of the Rich (TAC, August 27, 2012)

It was 1993, during congressional debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement. I was having lunch with a staffer for one of the rare Republican congressmen who opposed the policy of so-called free trade. To this day, I remember something my colleague said: “The rich elites of this country have far more in common with their counterparts in London, Paris, and Tokyo than with their fellow American citizens.”

That was only the beginning of the period when the realities of outsourced manufacturing, financialization of the economy, and growing income disparity started to seep into the public consciousness, so at the time it seemed like a striking and novel statement.

At the end of the Cold War many writers predicted the decline of the traditional nation-state. Some looked at the demise of the Soviet Union and foresaw the territorial state breaking up into statelets of different ethnic, religious, or economic compositions. This happened in the Balkans, the former Czechoslovakia, and Sudan. Others predicted a weakening of the state due to the rise of Fourth Generation warfare and the inability of national armies to adapt to it. The quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan lend credence to that theory. There have been numerous books about globalization and how it would eliminate borders. But I am unaware of a well-developed theory from that time about how the super-rich and the corporations they run would secede from the nation state.

I do not mean secession by physical withdrawal from the territory of the state, although that happens from time to time—for example, Erik Prince, who was born into a fortune, is related to the even bigger Amway fortune, and made yet another fortune as CEO of the mercenary-for-hire firm Blackwater, moved his company (renamed Xe) to the United Arab Emirates in 2011. What I mean by secession is a withdrawal into enclaves, an internal immigration, whereby the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot.

Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it. If one can afford private security, public safety is of no concern; if one owns a Gulfstream jet, crumbling bridges cause less apprehension—and viable public transportation doesn’t even show up on the radar screen. With private doctors on call and a chartered plane to get to the Mayo Clinic, why worry about Medicare?

Being in the country but not of it is what gives the contemporary American super-rich their quality of being abstracted and clueless. Perhaps that explains why Mitt Romney’s regular-guy anecdotes always seem a bit strained. I discussed this with a radio host who recounted a story about Robert Rubin, former secretary of the Treasury as well as an executive at Goldman Sachs and CitiGroup. Rubin was being chauffeured through Manhattan to reach some event whose attendees consisted of the Great and the Good such as himself. Along the way he encountered a traffic jam, and on arriving to his event—late—he complained to a city functionary with the power to look into it. “Where was the jam?” asked the functionary. Rubin, who had lived most of his life in Manhattan, a place of east-west numbered streets and north-south avenues, couldn’t tell him. The super-rich who determine our political arrangements apparently inhabit another, more refined dimension.

To some degree the rich have always secluded themselves from the gaze of the common herd; their habit for centuries has been to send their offspring to private schools. But now this habit is exacerbated by the plutocracy’s palpable animosity towards public education and public educators, as Michael Bloomberg has demonstrated. To the extent public education “reform” is popular among billionaires and their tax-exempt foundations, one suspects it is as a lever to divert the more than $500 billion dollars in annual federal, state, and local education funding into private hands — meaning themselves and their friends. What Halliburton did for U.S. Army logistics, school privatizers will do for public education. A century ago, at least we got some attractive public libraries out of Andrew Carnegie. Noblesse oblige like Carnegie’s is presently lacking among our seceding plutocracy.

In both world wars, even a Harvard man or a New York socialite might know the weight of an army pack. Now the military is for suckers from the laboring classes whose subprime mortgages you just sliced into CDOs and sold to gullible investors in order to buy your second Bentley or rustle up the cash to get Rod Stewart to perform at your birthday party. The sentiment among the super-rich towards the rest of America is often one of contempt rather than noblesse.

Stephen Schwarzman, the hedge fund billionaire CEO of the Blackstone Group who hired Rod Stewart for his $5-million birthday party, believes it is the rabble who are socially irresponsible. Speaking about low-income citizens who pay no income tax, he says: “You have to have skin in the game. I’m not saying how much people should do. But we should all be part of the system.”

But millions of Americans who do not pay federal income taxes do pay federal payroll taxes. These taxes are regressive, and the dirty little secret is that over the last several decades they have made up a greater and greater share of federal revenues. In 1950, payroll and other federal retirement contributions constituted 10.9 percent of all federal revenues. By 2007, the last “normal” economic year before federal revenues began falling, they made up 33.9 percent. By contrast, corporate income taxes were 26.4 percent of federal revenues in 1950. By 2007 they had fallen to 14.4 percent. So who has skin in the game?

... ... ...

Since the first ziggurats rose in ancient Babylonia, the so-called forces of order, stability, and tradition have feared a revolt from below. Beginning with Edmund Burke and Joseph de Maistre after the French Revolution, a whole genre of political writings—some classical liberal, some conservative, some reactionary—has propounded this theme. The title of Ortega y Gasset’s most famous work, The Revolt of the Masses, tells us something about the mental atmosphere of this literature.

But in globalized postmodern America, what if this whole vision about where order, stability, and a tolerable framework for governance come from, and who threatens those values, is inverted? What if Christopher Lasch came closer to the truth in The Revolt of the Elites, wherein he wrote, “In our time, the chief threat seems to come from those at the top of the social hierarchy, not the masses”? Lasch held that the elites—by which he meant not just the super-wealthy but also their managerial coat holders and professional apologists — were undermining the country’s promise as a constitutional republic with their prehensile greed, their asocial cultural values, and their absence of civic responsibility.

Lasch wrote that in 1995. Now, almost two decades later, the super-rich have achieved escape velocity from the gravitational pull of the very society they rule over. They have seceded from America.

Mike Lofgren also authored the book The Party Is Over How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted. Here is quote from one of Amazon reviews:

Over time, that sense of entitlement insensibly changed Democrats into what we in the Pentagon would call ENABLERS of Republicans. The Democratic enablers unwittingly played a crucial role in the demolition of the American dream, not unlike that played by infiltration troops in blitzkrieg. Infiltration troops soften up the front by slipping through defenses to find or create holes and weak areas for the tanks to roar thru to reap chaos and destruction deep in the enemy's rear area. Only in this case, the rear area being ruined is the American middle class, and the flood of tanks is taken up by the flood money supplied by the oligarchs who feather their nests by buying Democrats as well as Republicans in one seamless auction.

Put bluntly, to protect a sense of hereditary entitlement to the power that accompanied the coattails of FDR and the New Deal, Democrats abandoned their heritage and moved to Wall Street, Big Pharma, Defense, etc., and in so doing, insensibly mutated into faux Republicans. If you doubt this, look at the enervating, quasi-neoliberal bloviating by the self-inflating Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) or the cynical triangulations and warmongerings of Messrs. Clinton and Obama. The abdication of traditional Democratic principles gave Republican crazies more room to get even crazier, and together the faux Republicans and the real crazy Republicans reinforced each other to create a rightward shift in the American political dynamic that unleashed the emergence of a new gilded age, together with the emergence of a legalized plutocracy that criminal Russian oligarchs would envy. And this mutation came about in a remarkably short time of 30 to 40 years.

In so doing, the Democrats sold out their most important constituency, i.e., John Q. Average American, and colluded in the historic swindle that brought the great American middle class to the brink of impoverishment and debt peonage, a condition some times referred to chillingly in the tone-deaf salons of Versailles on the Potomac as the "new normal."

If you think collusion is too strong a term, I would urge you to think about Bill Clinton's (the DLC's choice for president in the 1992 election) collusion with Republicans in 1999 to nullify of the Depression era Glass-Steagle Act -- one of monuments of reform in the New Deal. This nullification was one of the main deregulatory "initiatives" that unleashed the greedy excesses that led to the 2007-8 financial meltdown. When he left office, Bill Clinton, by the way, did not pick up his grips and retire to a modest house in Independence Missouri like Harry Truman; he chose instead to join the plutocratic elite, where he is now well on his way to becoming a card-carrying member of the one-tenth of one-percent club of the mega rich. The bottom line: the Democrats' sense of entitlement and the consequent corruption of their principles have been a necessary, if not sufficient, condition in the emergence of the current political-economy that is destroying what is left of the middle class in our good ole USA. The reader would make a great mistake if he or she allowed the hilariously disgusting Republican hijinks described by Lofgren to brand his book as an anti-Republican polemic written by a convert, and miss his main message.

Mike, of course, states clearly in his title that his subject is how the madness of the Republicans and the uselessness of the Democrats reinforced each other over the last 30 to 40 years to hose the American People. It is the degenerate nature of their symbiotic relationship that is his thesis and should be the Left's call to arms.

I do not count on this happening, however. The faux Republicans are far more likely to try to exploit the embarrassment of riches in Mike's book for their narrow short-term political advantage, in yet another demonstration of the hypocrisy and opportunism that are central pillars propping up their losing mentality.

Neo-classical economics smoke screen in Yves Smith’s Econned

Chicago neoclassical economics school is a well known pseudo-science school, one of the pillars of Economic Lysenkoism (along with  Supply Side Economics).  This is an economic cult, an ideology of financial oligarchy. So it is more proper to it not neoclassical, but as aptly suggested by Bill Black “theoclassical”   or  Chicago Ponzinomics.  It is a neoliberal phenomenon, not neoclassical. Like in Lysenkoism, and high demand sects anybody who strays from the cult is in danger of being ostracized. As Mark Thoma observed:

Some years ago, when I first presented an empirical paper questioning some of the conventional views on trade to a high profile economics conference, a member of the audience (a very prominent economist and a former co-author of mine) shocked me with the question "why are you doing this?

There is a useful part of neoclassical economy related to thinking about an aggregate social phenomena in terms of costs and benefits of individual participants, and that can be sometimes (but not always) as a useful supplementary approach. Bastartized version of this notion which tries to imply cost-benefit motives in all human interactions is called Freakonomics. Still you can view some choices people make as tradeoffs between desired goals and social constraints (which can interpreted as costs). 

Still neoclassical economics as practiced by Chicago school  is driven by ideology and financed by financial oligarchy.

And like Trofim Lysenko and his followers those people are as close to criminals as one can get.  Like Rabbies and Catolic Priests can be criminals, the same is true about people in academic mantles. Corruption of academics is nothing new, but corruption of economists is a very dangerous mass form of  white-collar crime as close to Madoff  and his associates as one can get. This is the way we should look at the Chicago schools: kind of incarnation of Lysenko henchmen or, if you wish, Chicago mafia in a university environment. Actually similar way of thinking can be applied to Harvard (see Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia ).

Is neoclassical economics a mafia? Sort of, says Christopher Hayes in a very well-written and very interesting piece in The Nation. He says orthodox economists are a close-knit group and are quick to penalize those among them or from outside who overstep the boundaries. Here is an excerpt:

So extreme is the marginalization of heterodox economists, most people don't even know they exist. Despite the fact that as many as one in five professional economists belongs to a professional association that might be described as heterodox, the phrase "heterodox economics" has appeared exactly once in the New York Times since 1981. During that same period "intelligent design," a theory endorsed by not a single published, peer-reviewed piece of scholarship, has appeared 367 times.

It doesn't take much to call forth an impressive amount of bile from heterodox economists toward their mainstream brethren. John Tiemstra, president of the Association for Social Economics and a professor at Calvin College, summed up his feelings this way: "I go to the cocktail parties for my old schools, MIT and Oberlin, and people are all excited about Freakonomics. I kind of wince and go off to another corner or have another drink." After the EPI gathering, Peter Dorman, an economist at Evergreen State College with a gentle, bearded air, related an e-mail exchange he once had with Hal Varian, a well-respected Berkeley economist who's moderately liberal but firmly committed to the neoclassical approach. Varian wrote to Dorman that there was no point in presenting "both sides" of the debate about trade, because one side--the view that benefits from unfettered trade are absolute--was like astronomy, while any other view was like astrology. "So I told him I didn't buy the traditional trade theory," Dorman said. "'Was I an astrologer?' And he said yes!"

Please note that some of the most close to Lysenkoism figures at Chicago, such as Cochrane and Fama, are in the business school rather than the econ department.   And they were key enablers of  Goldman Sacks and Co. looters. Deregulation wave was promoted by right wing extremists who recruited corrupted academicians like Milton Friedman to perform specific role of Trojan horse to undermine New Deal.  He managed to made the "invisible hand" a prefect pocket picker!  And the method of spreading influence was essentially borrowed from the Lysenko book: control the economic department and those who went to college and studied those theories in the 70’s and 80’s would then go to Wall St and Government and enact them. Control the key academic magazines and conferences and any aspiring economists need either to conform or leave the field.

Here is one telling comment about corruption of those modern day Lysenkoists in the blog Crooked Timber

ogmb 09.18.09 at 12:01 pm

...Cochrane is the AQR Capital Management Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Booth [formerly Graduate] School of Business. Which incidentally also makes his whining that Krugman ‘accuses us literally of adopting ideas for pay, selling out for “sabbaticals at the Hoover institution” and fat “Wall street paychecks”’ a bit malnourished in the introspection department, coming from someone who holds a chair sponsored by a quantitative trading firm at a school sponsored by the founder of an EMH investment firm. (Nevermind that Krugman never, literally or otherwise, accused Cochrane and his peers of selling out to Wall Street…)

In this ideology Milton Friedman is playing the role of false prophet and lesser "giants" producing continued steam of detached from reality papers and speeches. It also includes several clown who as Krugman noted have some qualities of irritable adolescents, but actually are proper heirs of Academician Trofim Lysenko:

And that same adolescent quality was evident in the reactions to the Obama administration’s attempts to deal with the crisis — as Brad DeLong points out, people like Robert Lucas and John Cochrane (not to mention Richard Posner, who isn’t a macroeconomist but gets his take from his colleagues) didn’t say that when serious scholars like Christina Romer based policy recommendations on Keynesian economics, they were wrong; the freshwater crowd declared that anyone with Keynesian views was, by definition, either a fool or intellectually dishonest. So the freshwater outrage over finding their own point of view criticized is, you might think, a classic case of people who can dish it out but can’t take it.

But it’s actually even worse than that.

When freshwater macro came in, there was an active purge of competing views: students were not exposed, at all, to any alternatives. People like Prescott boasted that Keynes was never mentioned in their graduate programs. And what has become clear in the recent debate — for example, in the assertion that Ricardian equivalence rules out any effect from government spending changes, which is just wrong — is that the freshwater side not only turned Keynes into an unperson, but systematically ignored the work being done in the New Keynesian vein. Nobody who had read, say, Obstfeld and Rogoff would have been as clueless about the logic of temporary fiscal expansion as these guys have been. Freshwater macro became totally insular. And hence the most surprising thing in the debate over fiscal stimulus: the raw ignorance that has characterized so many of the freshwater comments. Above all, we’ve seen the phenomenon of well-known economists “rediscovering” Say’s Law and the Treasury view (the view that government cannot affect the overall level of demand), not because they’ve transcended the Keynesian refutation of these views, but because they were unaware that there had ever been such a debate. It's a sad story. And the even sadder thing is that it’s very unlikely that anything will change: freshwater macro will get even more insular, and its devotees will wonder why nobody in the real world of policy and action pays any attention to what they say.

The proper label for neo-classical economics might be "theological voluntarism", the term which has some academic aura... There are several issues here:

  1. Excessive dependence or even open prostitution to the financial oligarchy. It's deplorable but probably unavoidable as the grip of financial community of economic profession does not requires any additional commentary. Also there are always exceptions to the rule.
  2. Mathematical masturbation instead of science. When, for example, a paper that propose even a linear equation (or God forbid differential equation) does not provide any estimate of errors of input data such a paper in a narrow sense can be called mathematical masturbation. Classic example here would be any paper that has inflation as an input variable. In a more broad sense this occurs when research paper contains results or mathematical model which rely on idealized, with little connections to reality postulates about the structure of economic activities. Many supply/demand models belong to this category as they rely on existence of equilibrium between supply and demand and/or are ignoring Minsky instability hypothesis. Most neo-classical economics can be called a theory in a desperate search for suitable reality.
  3. Relying on discredited and openly anti-scientific assumptions or hypothesis. Examples include, but not limited to "supply side voodoo", "monetarism", "Taylor rule", "permanent equilibrium fallacy", "invisible hand" (both as a postulate about absence of manipulation of the markets and the idea that "free markets lead to efficient outcomes" disregarding the role of government and almost permanent government intervention as well as issues of economic rent and taxation of participants to support an aristocracy or oligarchy).

Chicago (or as some called it freshwater) school specializes in deification of the market (often in the form of "invisible hand" deification, see The Invisible Hand, Trumped by Darwin - NYTimes.com). 

Econned

Yves Smith’s in her book Econned, How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism discussed the role of corrupted economics professor in establishing and supporting the rule of financial oligarchy. Here is one Amazon review

kievite:

 Neoclassical economics as a universal door opener for financial oligarchy, September 25, 2010

There are many good reviews of the book published already and I don't want to repeat them. But I think there is one aspect of the book that was not well covered in the published reviews and which I think is tremendously important and makes the book a class of its own: the use of neoclassical economics as a universal door opener for financial oligarchy. I hope that the term "econned" will became a new word in English language.

Neoclassical economics has become the modern religion with its own priests, sacred texts and a scheme of salvation. It was a successful attempt to legitimize the unlimited rule of financial oligarchy by using quasi-mathematical, oversimplified and detached for reality models. The net result is a new brand of theology, which proved to be pretty powerful in influencing people and capturing governments ("cognitive regulatory capture"). Like Marxism, neoclassical economics is a triumph of ideology over science. It was much more profitable though: those who were the most successful in driving this Trojan horse into the gates were remunerated on the level of Wall Street traders.

Economics is essentially a political science. And politics is about perception. Neo-classical economics is all about manipulating the perception in such a way as to untie hands of banking elite to plunder the country (and get some cramps from the table for themselves). Yves contributed to our understanding how "These F#@king Guys" as Jon Steward defined them, economics professors from Chicago, Harvard, Columbia, Princeton and some other places warmed by flow of money from banks for specific services provided managed to serve as a fifth column helping Wall Street to plunder the country. The rhetorical question that a special counsel to the U.S. Army, Joseph Welch, asked Senator McCarthy: "Have you no sense of decency?" applies.

The main effect of neoclassical economics is elevating unregulated ( "free" in neoclassic economics speak) markets into the key mechanism for distribution of the results of economic activity with banks as all-powerful middlemen and sedating any opposition with pseudo-mathematical mumbo-jumbo. Complexity was used as a powerful smoke screen to conceal greed and incompetence. As a result financial giants were able to loot almost all sectors of economics with impunity and without any remorse, not unlike the brutal conquerors in Middle Ages.

The key to the success of this nationwide looting is that people should be brainwashed/indoctrinated to believe that by some alchemical process, maximum level of greed results in maximum prosperity for all. Collapse of the USSR helped in this respect driving the message home: look how the alternative ended, when in reality the USSR was a neo-feudal society. But the exquisite irony here is that Bolsheviks-style ideological brainwashing was applied very successfully to the large part of the US population (especially student population) using neo-classical economics instead of Marxism (which by-and-large was also a pseudo-religious economic theory with slightly different priests and the plan of salvation ;-). The application of badly constructed mathematical models proved to be a powerful tool for distorting reality in a certain, desirable for financial elite direction. One of the many definitions of Ponzi Scheme is "transfer liabilities to unwilling others." The use of detached from reality mathematical models fits this definition pretty well.

The key idea here is that neoclassical economists are not and never have been scientists: much like Marxist economists they always were just high priests of a dangerous cult -- neoliberalism -- and they are more then eager to stretch the truth for the benefit of the sect (and indirectly to their own benefit). All-in-all this is not unlike Lysenkoism: state support was and still is here, it is just working more subtly via ostracism, without open repressions. Look at Sheller story on p.9.

I think that one of lasting insights provided by Econned is the demonstration how the US society was taken hostage by the ideological views of the neoclassical economic school that has dominated the field at least for 30 or may be even 50 years. And that this ideological coup d'état was initiated and financed by banking establishment who was a puppeteer behind the curtain. This is not unlike the capture of Russia by Bolsheviks supported by German intelligence services (and Bolsheviks rule lasted slightly longer -- 65 years). Bolsheviks were just adherents of similar wrapped in the mantle of economic theory religious cult, albeit more dangerous and destructive for the people of Russia then neoclassical economics is for the people of the USA. Quoting Marx we can say "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce".

That also means that there is no easy way out of the current situation. Ideologies are sticky and can lead to the collapse of society rather then peaceful evolution.

Amorality and psychopathic tendencies

It might well be that for certain part of this new transnational elite with their "cult of greed" can be characterized by a callous disregard for other people feelings typical for psychopaths. Moreover for new, first generation members of this elite those psychopathic tendencies (which does not mean that the person is an outright psychopath, or sociopath)  might be a powerful engine in climb to the top and can play a important, if not decisive role in their success. They look more like "well compensated" sociopaths. See Authoritarians and Corporate Psychopaths as Toxic Managers for more information about typical traits that define this condition.

 There’s a section in the book The Psychopath Test, in which British journalist Jon Ronson  does the psychopath test on "Chainsaw Al" Dunlop, the former CEO of Sunbeam who was notorious for gleefully laying off thousands of workers to make more money.  And he redefines a great number of the items on the checklist as business positives. He turned the psychopath test into “Who Moved My Cheese?” The thing that’s so startling about his story is that the more ruthlessly and remorselessly psychopathically he behaved when he was heading up Sunbeam and the company before Sunbeam — Scott — the more he was rewarded. As Times reported on 2011/09/20:

One in 25 bosses may be psychopaths — a rate that’s four times greater than in the general population — according to research by psychologist and executive coach Paul Babiak.

Babiak studied 203 American corporate professionals who had been chosen by their companies to participate in a management training program. He evaluated their psychopathic traits using a version of the standard psychopathy checklist developed by Robert Hare, an expert in psychopathy at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

Psychopaths, who are characterized by being completely amoral and concerned only with their own power and selfish pleasures, may be overrepresented in the business environment because it plays to their strengths. Where greed is considered good and profitmaking is the most important value, psychopaths can thrive.

Just look at the at their grandiosity, their pathological lying, their lack of empathy, their lack of remorse of the financial elite demonstrated during the crisis of 2008.  I know there’s a danger in seeing psychopaths everywhere, but sometimes in this case it’s just impossible not to see some alarming correlations. Look at the apostils of deregulation in the USA such as:

Shaming the poor as a new sport for the transnational elites and subservient politicians

Amorality and psychopathic tendencies of new transnational elite and a special breed of corrupted politicians who serve them are perfectly demonstrated in the new sport for crooked politicians, especially from the part of the US Republican Party which can be called neo-confederates.

Barbara Ellen in her Guardian column (Guardian March 2, 2013) pointed out that the Methodists, the United Reformed Church, the Church of Scotland and the Baptist Union have joined forces to publish a study called The Lies We Tell Ourselves. It highlights myths surrounding people and poverty, including Iain Duncan Smith's much trumpeted "families out of work for three generations" line (which, it turns out, has never been backed up by data).

The report argues that the government is "deliberately misrepresenting" the poor, blaming them for their circumstances while ignoring more complex reasons, including policy deficiencies. Moreover, they feel that this scapegoating is the result of collusion between politicians, the media and the public.

Increasingly, the shame is being taken out of poor-shaming. It didn't seem so long ago that most people would think twice about denigrating fellow citizens who were having a hard time. These days, it appears to have been sanctioned as a new sport for the elites. A politician is one thing but these attitudes are spreading and hardening among ordinary people too. Indeed, poverty seems a trigger to inspire hate speech that would be quickly denounced if it related to race or gender.

Is this our new default setting – that the needy are greedy? This chimes with a slew of government policies that appear to be founded on notions of bulletproof self-reliance, making no allowances for circumstances or sheer bad luck, and which many would require huge amounts of help to put into practice, never mind sustain. Meanwhile, the more fortunate are invited to pour scorn upon anyone who fails.

While there are people whose problem are self-inflicted for many this is not true. In reality substantial number of poor are former people of modest means hit by a serious disease and who run out of options.

And shaming poor is a pretty safe sport. The poor are poor. They have no money, no voice, no representatives, and no means to defend their interests. Poverty is a like collapse of domino – once the first domino falls, all others follow the suit. In such circumstances, if a group of people are "deliberately misrepresents" the real situation with the poor, then there's precious little they can do about it. The churches got it right – if anything, the truth seems so much worse that it must surely be time to put the shame back into poor-shaming.

Poor-shamers are bullies, and right now they're getting away with it.

To what extent new transnational elite is monolithic ?

State interests and interest of large social groups are "projected" on the elite making is less monolithic then otherwise it might be. Here is come to a complex question of "national elite" vs. "transnational elite". This question is often discussed under the banner of  "Fifth column".  In this sense   Color revolutions  can be viewed as attempts to "harmonize" elite with the requirements of international corporations plus geostrategic interests of the counties which "home" those corporations.  See for example Russian experience in "white Revolution" of 2011-2012

In this sense Civil war can be viewed as a condition in which two parts of the elite in the same country can't reconcile their differences with peaceful means. That's definitely true about the US Civil War. 

Existence of "ideologically charged" and openly nationalistic parties which periodically come to power in various countries somewhat undermines the thesis about international elite dominance, unless you assume that such parties represent "blowback" of internationalization of capital and come to power to protect the interest of some parts of the national elite threatened by "more international" (aka comprador) part of the elite. Which is historically  true for NDSP (with military-industrial complex as the main supported of them as a tool against communists as well as against Jewish financial oligarchy) as well as for Bolsheviks in Russia (if we assume the theory that the initial core of Bolsheviks movement before Stalin purges was Russian Jewish intelligencia supported by the USA (via Trotsky connections) and some other countries (paradoxically Germany during the period of WWI; it was Germany that "delivered" to Russia by via a special train  Bolshevik leaders caught at the beginning of WWI in various European countries including Germany, in violation of the their status as "interned" nationals for the duration of the First World War )).

"Resource nationalism" is another close, but more modern phenomenon

Nationalism is probably the most potent force for undermining the unity of international elite.

The problem of degeneration of elite

The elite in most European countries and the USA consists not of the "best of the breed". It became more like the result of adverse selection.  Conversion to neoliberalism just made this problems more acute. At this point the problem of degeneration of elite comes to the forefront. George Bush II was clear a warning in the respect. Obama might well be the second bell. In criticizing the degeneration of the current US or GB elite, we should not forget that such processes are not new and in the past were the cause of several revolutions. Financial oligarchy of the neoliberal society is only a new name for aristocrats. And in the past the self-serving, decadent and corrupted upper class was the important source of instability in the society.  level of degeneration  of European elite which clearly demonstrated the fact the Cameron managed to came to power in GB in many respects makes the situation even more fragile than in the USA. Here is one telling quote (The EU's ugly kindergarten of intellectually challenged clowns):

It is generally accepted that "politics is the art of the possible" and yet the EU leaders are clearly engaged in the art of the absolutely impossible. The fact that they are all pretending like this is going to have some useful impact is truly a sign of how much the EU leadership has degenerated over the years. Can you imagine Helmut Schmidt, Charles de Gaulle, Margaret Thatcher, François Mitterrand or Francisco Franco engaging in that kind of infantile nonsense? All these leaders had their bad aspects, but at least none of them were clowns, whereas when I look at the current EU leadership, especially Van Rumpey, Adners Fogh Rasmussen or José Manuel Barroso I get the feeling that I am looking at some ugly kindergarten of intellectually challenged clowns and, frankly, I can understand Mrs Nuland's feelings.

Degeneration of elites lead the denunciation of the elites, when to a large body of civil population became clear that the upper class is no longer fulfill their function, do not care about the people, and, in case of neoliberal elite, is not even the part of the same society -- it acquired features of a foreign, parasitizing on the national body occupation force.

If the elite is not regenerates itself, catastrophic crisis in Society became more likely.  The state itself became a “quasi-state”: endowed with juridical statehood, yet lacking the political will, institutional capacity, and organized authority to protect human rights and provide socioeconomic welfare for the population. In this case a parallel political authority -- a shadow state replaces the "regular" stat – whose defining characteristic is the change of the role of security services in the governance of the state. See National Security State. Dissolution of the USSR was particularly connected with such a level of degeneration of the elite as well as betrayal of security services with KGB brass changing sides and adopting neoliberalism as a new ideology. 

At the same time while people like Obama and Cameron are merely instruments of  neoliberalism and financial capital.  So one explanation of the degradation of elite is the current crisis of neoliberalism. This is somewhat similar to the degradation of  Politburo in last years of the USSR.  They all however fit the definition of idiocy, repeating the same mistakes that prove so unfailingly disastrous, over and over, the inability to learn from their mistakes.

Here is one telling comment from Moon of Alabama discussion:

jayc | Aug 29, 2014 3:12:01 PM | 13

When Cameron started taking selfies at Mandela's funeral it undermined any remaining notion that he was some kind of leader, he was rather revealed as a mediocre middle-management suckup.

Western political leadership is chock full of these types. Policy is being developed at another level than elected representatives and middle-management is there to sell the policy.

I'm not sure NATO wants a full shooting proxy war - they don't care much about Ukraine or its people and would be content with new bases and new weapons programs.

The intent, it seems, is to isolate Russia from Europe and hope that the effects from sanctions could produce some sort of regime change or fracture the country into territories It seems that the Kiev regime has done just about everything possible to provoke a Russian invasion.

Western politicians and media, by their open hysteria and constant insistence that Russia has "invaded" and shot down a passenger plane, are invoking a sort of nostalgia for the Afghanistan invasion of 1978 or the KAL007 shoot down, when the evil empire stood revealed and the brave middle managers could rush to the barricades.

Unfortunately for them, Russia hasn't played that game and because they are mediocre the West's political leadership cannot summon the imagination for what to do next.

Crest | Aug 29, 2014 6:26:49 PM | 47 

@jayc 13
"Russia hasn't played that game and because they are mediocre the West's political leadership cannot summon the imagination for what to do next."

This is a great line. Western elites have no imagination, because of a generation of brutally purging all dissent from the neoliberalism/financialist imperalism paradigm.

If you don't believe in the Washington consensus, you don't exist.

They simply can't think of anything better, and they won't allow themselves to try.


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NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

[Oct 11, 2017] Donald Trump is exposing the contradictions of the elite by David Callahan

That's neoliberal elite after all. Why the author expects them to be ashamed is unclear
Notable quotes:
"... Business practices aimed at boosting shareholder value – like outsourcing, offshoring, automation, union-busting, predatory lending, and a range of anti-competitive abuses – have undermined the security of large swaths of the country. In turn, a flood of business dollars for campaign donations and lobbying over decades has helped thwart effective government responses to rising pain on Main Street. ..."
"... History tells us that societies with extractive and self-serving upper classes tend to fall into decline – whereas societies with inclusive elites are more likely to thrive. With the rise of Trump, we're seeing what an unraveling of the social fabric looks like after decades in which nearly all the nation's income gains have flowed upwards to a tiny sliver of households. ..."
Oct 11, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Since January, though, we've also seen a new level of rapaciousness by corporate interests in Washington DC that seem intent on extracting as much wealth as they can from wherever they can: consumers, investors, public lands, student borrowers, the tax code and even the war in Afghanistan.

Longtime watchers of the .01% won't be surprised by this bifurcated picture. For over two decades, an ever more educated wealthy elite has trumpeted its belief in tolerance, diversity, and meritocracy – even as it's also helped usher in record levels of inequality that have left many Americans feeling economically excluded and increasingly angry.

Trump's retrograde presidency has revealed the profound contradictions at the top of the US income ladder.

... ... ...

Corporate leaders have already been supportive of Trump's sweeping push to gut regulations in ways that would tilt the rules governing the economy more in favor of business and the wealthy. Social inclusion may be a growing public mantra of the far upper class. But economic extraction remains among its core operating principles.

... ... ...

Social inclusion is a public mantra of the upper class. But economic extraction remains a core operating principle

The answer is that many corporate and financial leaders were, and still are, a big part of the problem. These leaders have fostered the economic conditions that have thrown the values of tolerance and diversity on the defensive in America.

Business practices aimed at boosting shareholder value – like outsourcing, offshoring, automation, union-busting, predatory lending, and a range of anti-competitive abuses – have undermined the security of large swaths of the country. In turn, a flood of business dollars for campaign donations and lobbying over decades has helped thwart effective government responses to rising pain on Main Street.

... ... ...

History tells us that societies with extractive and self-serving upper classes tend to fall into decline – whereas societies with inclusive elites are more likely to thrive. With the rise of Trump, we're seeing what an unraveling of the social fabric looks like after decades in which nearly all the nation's income gains have flowed upwards to a tiny sliver of households.

Rarely has the American experiment – the notion of a country united by ideas rather than shared heritage – felt more fragile than it does right now. It's an ugly picture of division and resentment, but a predictable one given the economic trauma inflicted on millions of people over recent decades.

... ... ...

David Callahan is the author of The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age. He is the founder and editor of Inside Philanthropy

[Oct 11, 2017] Among the crises effecting the United States, the one effecting us most profoundly is the absence of any accountability for the crimes committed by our oligarchic class

Notable quotes:
"... his thinking that corporations, the mainstream media, and the academy can and do successfully "game" dissent by suppression, divide and conquer, co-optation, and so on, is spot on. ..."
Oct 11, 2017 | www.unz.com

JackOH > , October 9, 2017 at 11:08 am GMT

I'm a moderate admirer of Chris Hedges, but he is really cooking in this interview. Too much to praise here, but his thinking that corporations, the mainstream media, and the academy can and do successfully "game" dissent by suppression, divide and conquer, co-optation, and so on, is spot on.

alexander > , October 9, 2017 at 4:30 pm GMT

I think this was an excellent discussion, and I would like to thank you both for having it, and sharing it.

Among the crises effecting the United States, the one effecting us most profoundly is the absence of any accountability for the crimes committed by our oligarchic class.

Addressing this issue is ground zero for any meaningful change.

If there is no accountability for their crimes , there will be no change.

Certainly the greatest among these crimes was(is) defrauding the nation into " a war of aggression". which, being the supreme international crime, should be met with harsh prison sentences for all who promoted it.

It is important for everyone to recognize just how much damage these policies have done to the country, not just in terms of our collective morale or our constitutional mandates,not just in terms of our international standing on universal principles of legality and justice, but our long term economic solvency as a nation.

The "exceptionalism" of our "war of aggression" elites has completely devastated our nation's balance sheet.

Since 9-11, our national debt has grown by a mind numbing "fourteen and a half trillion dollars".. nearly quadrupling since 1999.

This unconscionable level of "overspending" is unprecedented in human history.

Not one lawmaker, not one primetime pundit, nor one editorialist (of any major newspaper), has a CLUE how to deal with it.

Aside from the root atrocity in visiting mass murder on millions of innocents who never attacked us (and never intended to) which is a horrible crime in and of itself,

There is the profound crisis , in situ , of potentially demanding that 320 million Americans PAY FOR THE WARS OUR ELITES LIED US INTO .

This is where the rubber meets the road for our "war of aggression-ists ", gentlemen.

This is the "unanimous space" of our entire country's population on the issue of "no taxation without representation".

WHOSE assets should be made forfeit to pay for these wars .The DECEIVERS or the DECEIVED ?

Ask "The People" ..and you will find your answer .very fast.

No wonder our "elites" are terrified to discuss this .

Absolutely terrified.

Anonymous > , Disclaimer October 10, 2017 at 4:10 am GMT

@alexander

No wonder our "elites" are terrified to discuss this .

They're not terrified–they know full well that they don't have to discuss it. Control of the flow of information eliminates any such necessity.

We're right now in the consolidation phase, during which the last few remaining pockets of dissent are thoroughly vilified, rooted out, made illegal and worse: unthinkable.

The idiotic grievance warriors whom–to his credit–Mr Hedges identifies as such, are the verbal equivalent of the violent criminal shock troops with which the elites afflict us. The 'identity politics' they champion are an extremely useful cudgel in the endless divide-and-conquer strategy.

jacques sheete > , October 11, 2017 at 11:20 am GMT

It is the result of the transformation of the country into an oligarchy.

That's cringe-worthy.

Transformation into an oligarchy? Transformation ??? I like Hedges' work, but such fundamental errors really taint what he sez.

The country was never transformed into an oligarchy; it began as one.

In fact, it was organized and functioned as a pluto-oligarchy right out of the box. In case anyone has the dimness to argue with me about it, all that shows is that you don't know JS about how the cornstitution was foisted on the rest of us by the plutoligarchs.

"An elective despotism was not the government we fought for "

-Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XIII, 1782 . ME 2:163

The Elites "Have No Credibility Left"

Guess what, boys and girls Why did they have any to begin with?

Where do people get their faith? WakeTF up, already!! (Yes, I'm losing it. Because even a duumbshit goy like myself can see it. Where are all you bright bulb know-it-alls with all the flippin answers???)

jacques sheete > , October 11, 2017 at 11:35 am GMT

Newspapers are trapped in an old system of information they call "objectivity" and "balance," formulae designed to cater to the powerful and the wealthy and obscure the truth.

It's amazing that here we are, self-anointed geniuses and dumbos alike, puttering around in the 21st century, and someone feels the necessity to point that out. And he's right; it needs to be pointed out. Drummed into our skulls in fact.

Arrrgggghhhh!!! Jefferson again.:

Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day.

Thomas Jefferson to John Norvell, 14 June 1807

http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendI_speechs29.html

More deja vu all over again and again. Note the date.:

"This is a story of a powerful and wealthy newspaper having enormous influence And never a day out of more than ten thousand days that this newspaper has not subtly and cunningly distort the news of the world in the interest of special privilege. "

Upton Sinclair, "The crimes of the "Times" : a test of newspaper decency," pamphlet, 1921

https://archive.org/stream/crimesofthetimes00sincrich/crimesofthetimes00sincrich

jacques sheete > , October 11, 2017 at 12:08 pm GMT

I find it most fascinating that none of what Hedges says is news, but even UR readers probably think it is. Here's an antidote to that idea.

The following quote is from Eugene Kelly who's excoriating government press releases but the criticism applies as well to the resulting press reports. I found the whole article striking.:

Any boob can deduce, a priori, what type of "news" is contained in this rubbish.

-Eugene A. Kelly, Distorting the News, The American Mercury, March 1935 , pp. 307-318

http://www.unz.org/Pub/AmMercury/

I'd like good evidence that the situation has improved since then. Good luck.

jacques sheete > , October 11, 2017 at 2:35 pm GMT

The Elites "Have No Credibility Left"

Who thinks they had any to begin with? The quote, below, is almost 2000 years old

Apollo, too, who pretends to be so clever, with his bow and his lyre and his medicine and his prophecies; those oracle-shops that he has opened at Delphi, and Clarus, and Dindyma, are a cheat; he takes good care to be on the safe side by giving ambiguous answers that no one can understand, and makes money out of it, for there are plenty of fools who like being imposed upon,–but sensible people know well enough that most of it is clap-trap

Leto. Oh, of course; my children are butchers and impostors. I know how you hate the sight of them.

-Lucian of Samosata, DIALOGUES OF THE GODS, XVI, ~150AD

http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/luc/wl1/wl124.htm

[Oct 11, 2017] Russia witch hunt is a tactic used by the ruling elite, and in particular the Democratic Party, to avoid facing a very unpleasant reality: that their unpopularity is the outcome of their policies of deindustrialization and the assault against working class

Highly recommended!
Chris Hedges, who is doubtless a courageous journalist and an intelligent commentator, suggests that if we are to discuss the anti-Russia campaign realistically, as baseless in fact, and as contrived for an effect and to further/protect some particular interests, we can hardly avoid the question: Who or what interest is served by the anti-Russia campaign?
An interesting observation "The Democratic Party doesn't actually function as a political party. It's about perpetual mass mobilization and a hyperventilating public relations arm, all paid for by corporate donors. The base of the party has no real say in the leadership or the policies of the party, as Bernie Sanders and his followers found out."
The other relevant observation is that there is no American left. It was destroyed as a political movement. The USA is a right wing country.
Notable quotes:
"... This obsession with Russia is a tactic used by the ruling elite, and in particular the Democratic Party, to avoid facing a very unpleasant reality: that their unpopularity is the outcome of their policies of deindustrialization and the assault against working men and women and poor people of color. ..."
"... It is the result of the slashing of basic government services, including, of course, welfare, that Clinton gutted; deregulation, a decaying infrastructure, including public schools, and the de facto tax boycott by corporations. It is the result of the transformation of the country into an oligarchy. The nativist revolt on the right, and the aborted insurgency within the Democratic Party, makes sense when you see what they have done to the country. ..."
"... The Democratic Party, in particular, is driving this whole Russia witch-hunt. It cannot face its complicity in the destruction of our civil liberties -- and remember, Barack Obama's assault on civil liberties was worse than those carried out by George W. Bush -- and the destruction of our economy and our democratic institutions. ..."
"... Politicians like the Clintons, Pelosi and Schumer are creations of Wall Street. That is why they are so virulent about pushing back against the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party. ..."
"... The Democratic Party doesn't actually function as a political party. It's about perpetual mass mobilization and a hyperventilating public relations arm, all paid for by corporate donors. The base of the party has no real say in the leadership or the policies of the party, as Bernie Sanders and his followers found out. They are props in the sterile political theater. ..."
"... These party elites, consumed by greed, myopia and a deep cynicism, have a death grip on the political process. They're not going to let it go, even if it all implodes. ..."
"... The whole exercise was farcical. The White House would leak some bogus story to Judy Miller or Michael Gordon, and then go on the talk shows to say, 'as the Times reported .' It gave these lies the veneer of independence and reputable journalism. This was a massive institutional failing, and one the paper has never faced. ..."
"... The media's anti-Russia narrative has been embraced by large portions of what presents itself as the "left." ..."
"... Well, don't get me started on the American left. First of all, there is no American left -- not a left that has any kind of seriousness, that understands political or revolutionary theories, that's steeped in economic study, that understands how systems of power work, especially corporate and imperial power. The left is caught up in the same kind of cults of personality that plague the rest of society. It focuses on Trump, as if Trump is the central problem. Trump is a product, a symptom of a failed system and dysfunctional democracy, not the disease. ..."
"... For good measure, they purged the liberal class -- look at what they did to Henry Wallace -- so that Cold War "liberals" equated capitalism with democracy, and imperialism with freedom and liberty. I lived in Switzerland and France. There are still residues of a militant left in Europe, which gives Europeans something to build upon. But here we almost have to begin from scratch. ..."
"... The corporate elites we have to overthrow already hold power. And unless we build a broad, popular resistance movement, which takes a lot of patient organizing among working men and women, we are going to be steadily ground down. ..."
"... The corporate state has made it very hard to make a living if you hold fast to this radical critique. You will never get tenure. You probably won't get academic appointments. You won't win prizes. You won't get grants. ..."
"... The elite schools, and I have taught as a visiting professor at a few of them, such as Princeton and Columbia, replicate the structure and goals of corporations. If you want to even get through a doctoral committee, much less a tenure committee, you must play it really, really safe. You must not challenge the corporate-friendly stance that permeates the institution and is imposed through corporate donations and the dictates of wealthy alumni. Half of the members of most of these trustee boards should be in prison! ..."
"... Speculation in the 17th century in Britain was a crime. Speculators were hanged. And today they run the economy and the country. They have used the capturing of wealth to destroy the intellectual, cultural and artistic life in the country and snuff out our democracy. There is a word for these people: traitors. ..."
Oct 11, 2017 | www.unz.com

Originally from: The elites "have no credibility left" by Chris Hedges

But the whole idea that the Russians swung the election to Trump is absurd. It's really premised on the unproven claim that Russia gave the Podesta emails to WikiLeaks, and the release of these emails turned tens, or hundreds of thousands, of Clinton supporters towards Trump. This doesn't make any sense. Either that, or, according to the director of national intelligence, RT America, where I have a show, got everyone to vote for the Green Party.

This obsession with Russia is a tactic used by the ruling elite, and in particular the Democratic Party, to avoid facing a very unpleasant reality: that their unpopularity is the outcome of their policies of deindustrialization and the assault against working men and women and poor people of color. It is the result of disastrous trade agreements like NAFTA that abolished good-paying union jobs and shipped them to places like Mexico, where workers without benefits are paid $3.00 an hour. It is the result of the explosion of a system of mass incarceration, begun by Bill Clinton with the 1994 omnibus crime bill, and the tripling and quadrupling of prison sentences. It is the result of the slashing of basic government services, including, of course, welfare, that Clinton gutted; deregulation, a decaying infrastructure, including public schools, and the de facto tax boycott by corporations. It is the result of the transformation of the country into an oligarchy. The nativist revolt on the right, and the aborted insurgency within the Democratic Party, makes sense when you see what they have done to the country.

Police forces have been turned into quasi-military entities that terrorize marginal communities, where people have been stripped of all of their rights and can be shot with impunity; in fact over three are killed a day. The state shoots and locks up poor people of color as a form of social control. They are quite willing to employ the same form of social control on any other segment of the population that becomes restive.

The Democratic Party, in particular, is driving this whole Russia witch-hunt. It cannot face its complicity in the destruction of our civil liberties -- and remember, Barack Obama's assault on civil liberties was worse than those carried out by George W. Bush -- and the destruction of our economy and our democratic institutions.

Politicians like the Clintons, Pelosi and Schumer are creations of Wall Street. That is why they are so virulent about pushing back against the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party. Without Wall Street money, they would not hold political power. The Democratic Party doesn't actually function as a political party. It's about perpetual mass mobilization and a hyperventilating public relations arm, all paid for by corporate donors. The base of the party has no real say in the leadership or the policies of the party, as Bernie Sanders and his followers found out. They are props in the sterile political theater.

These party elites, consumed by greed, myopia and a deep cynicism, have a death grip on the political process. They're not going to let it go, even if it all implodes.

... ... ...

DN: Let's come back to this question of the Russian hacking news story. You raised the ability to generate a story, which has absolutely no factual foundation, nothing but assertions by various intelligence agencies, presented as an assessment that is beyond question. What is your evaluation of this?

CH: The commercial broadcast networks, and that includes CNN and MSNBC, are not in the business of journalism. They hardly do any. Their celebrity correspondents are courtiers to the elite. They speculate about and amplify court gossip, which is all the accusations about Russia, and they repeat what they are told to repeat. They sacrifice journalism and truth for ratings and profit. These cable news shows are one of many revenue streams in a corporate structure. They compete against other revenue streams. The head of CNN, Jeff Zucker, who helped create the fictional persona of Donald Trump on "Celebrity Apprentice," has turned politics on CNN into a 24-hour reality show. All nuance, ambiguity, meaning and depth, along with verifiable fact, are sacrificed for salacious entertainment. Lying, racism, bigotry and conspiracy theories are given platforms and considered newsworthy, often espoused by people whose sole quality is that they are unhinged. It is news as burlesque.

I was on the investigative team at the New York Times during the lead-up to the Iraq War. I was based in Paris and covered Al Qaeda in Europe and the Middle East. Lewis Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney, Richard Perle and maybe somebody in an intelligence agency, would confirm whatever story the administration was attempting to pitch. Journalistic rules at the Times say you can't go with a one-source story. But if you have three or four supposedly independent sources confirming the same narrative, then you can go with it, which is how they did it. The paper did not break any rules taught at Columbia journalism school, but everything they wrote was a lie.

The whole exercise was farcical. The White House would leak some bogus story to Judy Miller or Michael Gordon, and then go on the talk shows to say, 'as the Times reported .' It gave these lies the veneer of independence and reputable journalism. This was a massive institutional failing, and one the paper has never faced.

DN: The CIA pitches the story, and then the Times gets the verification from those who pitch it to them.

CH: It's not always pitched. And not much of this came from the CIA. The CIA wasn't buying the "weapons of mass destruction" hysteria.

DN: It goes the other way too?

CH: Sure. Because if you're trying to have access to a senior official, you'll constantly be putting in requests, and those officials will decide when they want to see you. And when they want to see you, it's usually because they have something to sell you.

DN: The media's anti-Russia narrative has been embraced by large portions of what presents itself as the "left."

CH: Well, don't get me started on the American left. First of all, there is no American left -- not a left that has any kind of seriousness, that understands political or revolutionary theories, that's steeped in economic study, that understands how systems of power work, especially corporate and imperial power. The left is caught up in the same kind of cults of personality that plague the rest of society. It focuses on Trump, as if Trump is the central problem. Trump is a product, a symptom of a failed system and dysfunctional democracy, not the disease.

If you attempt to debate most of those on the supposedly left, they reduce discussion to this cartoonish vision of politics.

The serious left in this country was decimated. It started with the suppression of radical movements under Woodrow Wilson, then the "Red Scares" in the 1920s, when they virtually destroyed our labor movement and our radical press, and then all of the purges in the 1950s. For good measure, they purged the liberal class -- look at what they did to Henry Wallace -- so that Cold War "liberals" equated capitalism with democracy, and imperialism with freedom and liberty. I lived in Switzerland and France. There are still residues of a militant left in Europe, which gives Europeans something to build upon. But here we almost have to begin from scratch.

I've battled continuously with Antifa and the Black Bloc. I think they're kind of poster children for what I would consider phenomenal political immaturity. Resistance is not a form of personal catharsis. We are not fighting the rise of fascism in the 1930s. The corporate elites we have to overthrow already hold power. And unless we build a broad, popular resistance movement, which takes a lot of patient organizing among working men and women, we are going to be steadily ground down.

So Trump's not the problem. But just that sentence alone is going to kill most discussions with people who consider themselves part of the left.

The corporate state has made it very hard to make a living if you hold fast to this radical critique. You will never get tenure. You probably won't get academic appointments. You won't win prizes. You won't get grants. The New York Times , if they review your book, will turn it over to a dutiful mandarin like George Packer to trash it -- as he did with my last book. The elite schools, and I have taught as a visiting professor at a few of them, such as Princeton and Columbia, replicate the structure and goals of corporations. If you want to even get through a doctoral committee, much less a tenure committee, you must play it really, really safe. You must not challenge the corporate-friendly stance that permeates the institution and is imposed through corporate donations and the dictates of wealthy alumni. Half of the members of most of these trustee boards should be in prison!

Speculation in the 17th century in Britain was a crime. Speculators were hanged. And today they run the economy and the country. They have used the capturing of wealth to destroy the intellectual, cultural and artistic life in the country and snuff out our democracy. There is a word for these people: traitors.

[Oct 09, 2017] Amazon.com Empire of Illusion The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges published this book eight years ago and the things he predicted have sadly been realized
Notable quotes:
"... his screed is a liberating tonic against the crazy-making double-speak and the lies Americans are sold by our country's elite in order to distract us from the true threat and nature of the Corporate State, from the cult of celebrity, to how our nation's Universities have been hijacked to serve the interests, not of the public, but of our corporate overlords. It explains the self-same conditions in all aspects of our society and culture that we now must face, the ever-shrinking flame of enlightenment being exchanged for the illusory shadows on a cave wall. ..."
"... He fearlessly and incisively calls us out on the obvious farce our democracy has become, how we got here, and highlights the rapidly closing window in which we have to do something to correct it. It is a revelation, and yet he merely states the obvious. The empire has no clothes. ..."
"... One of the most powerful aspects of this book was in regard to how our Universities are run these days. I may be in the minority, but I experienced a life-changing disillusionment when I gained entrance to a prestigious "elite" University. Instead of drawing the best and the brightest, or being a place where scholarship was valued, where students were taught critical thinking skills, the University I attended was nothing more than an expensive diploma mill for the children of the wealthy. In the eyes of the University, students were not minds to be empowered and developed, but walking dollar signs. ..."
"... Instead of critical thinking, students were taught to OBEY, not to question authority, and then handed a piece of paper admitting them to the ruling class that is destroying America without a moral compass. Selfishness, deceit, disregard for the common good, and a win-at-all-costs attitude were rewarded. Empathy, curiosity, dissent, and an honest, intellectually rigorous evaluation of ourselves and our world were punished. Obviously I am not the only one to whom this was cause to fear for the future of our country. ..."
"... The chapter involving the porn trade that is run by large corporations such as AT&T and GM (the car maker, for crying out loud) was an especially dark, profanity-laced depiction of the abuse and moral decay of American society . ..."
"... He is correct in his belief that the continual barrage of psuedo-events and puffery disguised as news (especially television) has conditioned most of Americans to be non-critical thinkers. ..."
"... Entertainment, consumption and the dangerous illusion that the U.S. is the best in the world at everything are childish mindsets. ..."
"... The are the puppet masters." As extreme as that is, he is more credible when he says, "Commodities and celebrity culture define what it means to belong, how we recognize our place in society, and how we conduct our lives." I say 'credible' because popular and mass culture's influence are creating a world where substance is replaced by questionable style. ..."
"... Celebrity and connectivity are both ways of becoming known. This is what the contemporary self wants. It wants to be recognized, wants to be connected: It wants to be visible. If not to the millions, on Survivor or Oprah, then to the hundreds, on Twitter or Facebook. ..."
"... Visibility has replaced substance and accomplishment; packaging over product, sizzle not steak. Chris Rojek calls this "the cult of distraction" where society is consumed by the vacuous and the vapid rather than striving for self-awareness, accomplishment and contribution ("Propaganda has become a substitute for ideas and ideology."). Hedges builds on Rojek's descriptor by suggesting we are living in a "culture of illusion" which impoverishes language, makes us childlike, and is basically dumbing us all down. ..."
"... Today's delusionary and corrupted officials, corporate and government, are reminiscent of the narratives penned by Charles Dickens. Alexander Hamilton referred to the masses as a "great beast" to be kept from the powers of government. ..."
"... Edmund Burke used propaganda to control "elements of society". Walter Lippmann advised that "the public must be kept in its place". Yet, many Americans just don't get it. ..."
"... Divide and conquer is the mantra--rich vs. poor; black vs. white. According to Norm Chomsky's writings, "In 1934, William Shepard argued that government should be in the hands of `aristocracy and intellectual power' while the `ignorant, and the uninformed and the antisocial element' must not be permitted to control elections...." ..."
"... The appalling statistics and opinions outlined in the book demonstrate the public ignorance of the American culture; the depth and extent of the corporatocracy and the related economic malaise; and, the impact substandard schools have on their lives. ..."
"... This idea was recently usurped by the U.S. Supreme Court where representative government is called to question, rendering "our" consent irrelevant. Every voting election is an illusion. Each election, at the local and national level, voters never seemingly "miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity" to eliminate irresponsible and unresponsive officials. ..."
"... Walt Kelly's quote "We have met the enemy and he is us" prevails! ..."
"... It's also hard to follow at times as Hedges attempts to stress the connections between pop culture and social, political. and economic policy. Nor is Hedges a particularly stylish writer (a sense of humor would help). ..."
"... The stomach-turning chapter on trends in porn and their relationship to the torture of prisoners of war is a particularly sharp piece of analysis, and all of the other chapters do eventually convince (and depress). ..."
Oct 09, 2017 | www.amazon.com

H. I. on May 13, 2011

This Book Explains EVERYTHING!!!!!

Hedges cogently and systematically dismantles the most pernicious cultural delusions of our era and lays bare the pitiful truths that they attempt to mask. This book is a deprogramming manual that trims away the folly and noise from our troubled society so that the reader can focus on the most pressing matters of our time.

Despite the dark reality Hedges excavates, his screed is a liberating tonic against the crazy-making double-speak and the lies Americans are sold by our country's elite in order to distract us from the true threat and nature of the Corporate State, from the cult of celebrity, to how our nation's Universities have been hijacked to serve the interests, not of the public, but of our corporate overlords. It explains the self-same conditions in all aspects of our society and culture that we now must face, the ever-shrinking flame of enlightenment being exchanged for the illusory shadows on a cave wall.

As a twenty-something caught in the death-throes of American Empire and culture, I have struggled to anticipate where our country and our world are heading, why, and what sort of life I can expect to build for myself. Hedges presents the reader with the depressing, yet undeniable truth of the forces that have coalesced to shape the world in which we now find ourselves. The light he casts is searing and relentless. He fearlessly and incisively calls us out on the obvious farce our democracy has become, how we got here, and highlights the rapidly closing window in which we have to do something to correct it. It is a revelation, and yet he merely states the obvious. The empire has no clothes.

One of the most powerful aspects of this book was in regard to how our Universities are run these days. I may be in the minority, but I experienced a life-changing disillusionment when I gained entrance to a prestigious "elite" University. Instead of drawing the best and the brightest, or being a place where scholarship was valued, where students were taught critical thinking skills, the University I attended was nothing more than an expensive diploma mill for the children of the wealthy. In the eyes of the University, students were not minds to be empowered and developed, but walking dollar signs.

Instead of critical thinking, students were taught to OBEY, not to question authority, and then handed a piece of paper admitting them to the ruling class that is destroying America without a moral compass. Selfishness, deceit, disregard for the common good, and a win-at-all-costs attitude were rewarded. Empathy, curiosity, dissent, and an honest, intellectually rigorous evaluation of ourselves and our world were punished. Obviously I am not the only one to whom this was cause to fear for the future of our country.

Five stars is not enough. Ever since I began reading Empire of Illusion, I have insisted friends and family pick up a copy, too. Everyone in America should read this incredibly important book.

The truth shall set us free.

By Franklin the Mouse on February 5, 2012

Dream Weavers

Mr. Hedges is in one heck of a foul mood. His raging against the evolving of American democracy into an oligarchy is accurate, but relentlessly depressing. The author focuses on some of our most horrid characteristics: celebrity worship; "pro" wrestling; the brutal porn industry; Jerry Springer-like shows; the military-industrial complex; the moral void of elite colleges such as Yale, Harvard, Berkeley and Princeton; optimistic-ladened pop psychology; and political/corporate conformity.

Mr. Hedges grim assessment put me in a seriously foul mood. The chapter involving the porn trade that is run by large corporations such as AT&T and GM (the car maker, for crying out loud) was an especially dark, profanity-laced depiction of the abuse and moral decay of American society .

He is correct in his belief that the continual barrage of psuedo-events and puffery disguised as news (especially television) has conditioned most of Americans to be non-critical thinkers.

Entertainment, consumption and the dangerous illusion that the U.S. is the best in the world at everything are childish mindsets.

The oddest part of Mr. Hedges' book is the ending. The last three pages take such an unexpectedly hard turn from "all is lost" to "love will conquer," I practically got whiplash. Overall, the author should be commended for trying to bring our attention to what ails our country and challenging readers to wake up from their child-like illusions.

Now, time for me to go run a nice, warm bath and where did I put those razor blades?...

By Walter E. Kurtz on September 25, 2011
Amazing book

I must say I was captivated by the author's passion, eloquence and insight. This is not an academic essay. True, there are few statistics here and there and quotes from such and such person, but this is not like one of those books that read like a longer version of an academic research paper. The book is more of author's personal observations about American society. Perhaps that is where its power comes from.

Some might dismiss the book as nothing more than an opinion piece, but how many great books and works out there are opinion pieces enhanced with supporting facts and statistics?

The book is divided into five chapters. Chapter one is about celebrity worship and how far people are willing to humiliate themselves and sacrifice their dignity for their five minutes of fame. But this is not just about those who are willing to make idiots out of themselves just to appear on television. This is about how the fascination with the world of rich and famous distracts the society from the important issues and problems and how it creates unhealthy and destructive desire to pursue wealth and fame. And even for those few who do achieve it, their lives are far from the bliss and happiness shown in movies. More than one celebrity had cursed her life.

Chapter two deals with porn. It offers gutwrenching, vomit inducing descriptions of lives and conditions in the porn industry. But the damage porn does goes far beyond those working in the "industry". Porn destroys the love, intimacy and beauty of sex. Porn reduces sex to an act of male dominance, power and even violence. Unfortunately, many men, and even women, buy into that and think that the sex seen in porn is normal and this is how things should be.

After reading this chapter, I will never look at porn the same way again. In fact, I probably will never look at porn at all.

Chapter three is about education. It focuses mostly on college level education and how in the past few decades it had increasingly changed focus from teaching students how to be responsible citizens and good human beings to how to be successful, profit seeking, career obsessed corporate/government drones. The students are taught that making money and career building are the only thing that matters. This results in professionals who put greed and selfishness above everything else and mindlessly serve a system that destroys the society and the whole planet. And when they are faced with problems (like the current economic crisis) and evidence that the system is broken, rather than rethink their paradigm and consider that perhaps they were wrong, they retreat further into old thinking in search of ways to reinforce the (broken) system and keep it going.
Chapter four is my favorite. It is about positive thinking. As someone who lives with a family member who feeds me positive thinking crap at breakfast, lunch and supper, I enjoyed this chapter very much. For those rare lucky few who do not know what positive thinking is, it can be broadly defined as a belief that whatever happens to us in life, it happens because we "attracted" it to ourselves. Think about it as karma that affects us not in the next life, but in this one. The movement believes that our conscious and unconscious thoughts affect reality. By assuming happy, positive outlook on life, we can affect reality and make good things happen to us.

Followers of positive thinking are encouraged/required to purge all negative emotions, never question the bad things that happen to them and focus on thinking happy thoughts. Positive thinking is currently promoted by corporations and to lesser extent governments to keep employees in line. They are rendered docile and obedient, don't make waves (like fight for better pay and working conditions) and, when fired, take it calmly with a smile and never question corporate culture.

Chapter five is about American politics and how the government and the politicians had sold themselves out to corporations and business. It is about imperialism and how the government helps the corporations loot the country while foreign wars are started under the pretext of defense and patriotism, but their real purpose is to loot the foreign lands and fill the coffers of war profiteers. If allowed to continue, this system will result in totalitarianism and ecological apocalypse.

I have some objections with this chapter. While I completely agree about the current state of American politics, the author makes a claim that this is a relatively recent development dating roughly to the Vietnam War. Before that, especially in the 1950s, things were much better. Or at least they were for the white men. (The author does admit that 1950s were not all that great to blacks, women or homosexuals.)

While things might have gotten very bad in the last few decades, politicians and governments have always been more at the service of Big Money rather than the common people.

And Vietnam was not the first imperialistic American war. What about the conquest of Cuba and Philippines at the turn of the 20th century? And about all those American "adventures" in South America in the 19th century. And what about the westward expansion and extermination of Native Americans that started the moment the first colonists set their foot on the continent?

But this is a minor issue. My biggest issue with the book is that it is a powerful denunciation, but it does not offer much in terms of suggestions on how to fix the problems it is decrying. Criticizing is good and necessary, but offering solutions is even more important. You can criticize all you want, but if you cannot suggest something better, then the old system will stay in place.

The author does write at the end a powerful, tear inducing essay on how love conquers all and that no totalitarian regime, no matter how powerful and oppressive, had ever managed to crush hope, love and the human spirit. Love, in the end, conquers all.

That is absolutely true. But what does it mean in practice? That we must keep loving and doing good? Of course we must, but some concrete, practical examples of what to do would be welcome.

By Richard Joltes on July 18, 2016
An excellent and sobering view at the decline of reason and literacy in modern society

This is an absolutely superb work that documents how our society has been subverted by spectacle, glitz, celebrity, and the obsession with "fame" at the expense of reality, literacy, reason, and actual ability. Hedges lays it all out in a very clear and thought provoking style, using real world examples like pro wrestling and celebrity oriented programming to showcase how severely our society has declined from a forward thinking, literate one into a mass of tribes obsessed with stardom and money.

Even better is that the author's style is approachable and non judgemental. This isn't an academic talking down to the masses, but a very solid reporter presenting findings in an accurate, logical style.

Every American should read this, and then consider whether to buy that glossy celebrity oriented magazine or watch that "I want to be a millionaire" show. The lifestyle and choices being promoted by the media, credit card companies, and by the celebrity culture in general, are toxic and a danger to our society's future.

By Jeffrey Swystun on June 29, 2011
What does the contemporary self want?

The various ills impacting society graphically painted by Chris Hedges are attributed to a lack of literacy. However, it is much more complex, layered, and inter-related. By examining literacy, love, wisdom, happiness, and the current state of America, the author sets out to convince the reader that our world is intellectually crumbling. He picks aspects of our society that clearly offer questionable value: professional wrestling, the pornographic film industry (which is provided in bizarre repetitive graphic detail), gambling, conspicuous consumption, and biased news reporting to name a few.

The front of the end of the book was the most compelling. Especially when Hedges strays into near conspiracy with comments such as this: "Those who manipulate the shadows that dominate our lives are the agents, publicists, marketing departments, promoters, script writers, television and movie producers, advertisers, video technicians, photographers, bodyguards, wardrobe consultants, fitness trainers, pollsters, public announcers, and television news personalities who create the vast stage for illusion. The are the puppet masters." As extreme as that is, he is more credible when he says, "Commodities and celebrity culture define what it means to belong, how we recognize our place in society, and how we conduct our lives." I say 'credible' because popular and mass culture's influence are creating a world where substance is replaced by questionable style.

What resonated most in the book is a passage taken from William Deresiewicz's essay The End of Solitude: "What does the contemporary self want? The camera has created a culture of celebrity; the computer is creating a culture of connectivity. As the two technologies converge -- broadband tipping the Web from text to image, social-networking sites spreading the mesh of interconnection ever wider -- the two cultures betray a common impulse.

Celebrity and connectivity are both ways of becoming known. This is what the contemporary self wants. It wants to be recognized, wants to be connected: It wants to be visible. If not to the millions, on Survivor or Oprah, then to the hundreds, on Twitter or Facebook. This is the quality that validates us, this is how we become real to ourselves -- by being seen by others. The great contemporary terror is anonymity. If Lionel Trilling was right, if the property that grounded the self, in Romanticism, was sincerity, and in modernism it was authenticity, then in postmodernism it is visibility."

Visibility has replaced substance and accomplishment; packaging over product, sizzle not steak. Chris Rojek calls this "the cult of distraction" where society is consumed by the vacuous and the vapid rather than striving for self-awareness, accomplishment and contribution ("Propaganda has become a substitute for ideas and ideology."). Hedges builds on Rojek's descriptor by suggesting we are living in a "culture of illusion" which impoverishes language, makes us childlike, and is basically dumbing us all down.

This is definitely a provocative contribution and damning analysis of our society that would be a great choice for a book club. It would promote lively debate as conclusions and solutions are not easily reached.

By S. Arch on July 10, 2011
A book that needs to be read, even if it's only half true.

Empire of Illusion might be the most depressing book I've ever read. Why? Because it predicts the collapse of America and almost every word of it rings true.

I don't know if there's really anything new here; many of the ideas Hedges puts forth have been floating around in the neglected dark corners of our national discourse, but Hedges drags them all out into the daylight. Just about every social/cultural/economic/political ill you can think of is mentioned at some point in the text and laid at the feet of the villains whose insatiable greed has destroyed this once-great country. Hedges is bold. He predicts nothing less than the end of America. Indeed, he claims America has already ended. The American Dream is nothing more than an illusion being propped up by wealthy elites obsessed with power and the preservation of their lifestyle, a blind academia that has forgotten how to critique authority, and a government that is nothing more than the puppet of corporations. Meanwhile, mindless entertainments and a compliant news media divert and mislead the working and middle classes so they don't even notice that they are being raped to death by the power-elite and the corporations.

(Don't misunderstand. This is no crack-pot conspiracy theory. It's not about secret quasi-mystical cabals attempting world domination. Rather, Hedges paints a credible picture of our culture in a state of moral and intellectual decay, and leaders corrupted by power and greed who have ceased to act in the public interest.)

At times Hedges seems to be ranting and accusing without providing evidence or examples to substantiate his claims. But that might only be because his claims have already been substantiated individually elsewhere, and Hedges's purpose here is a kind of grand synthesis of many critical ideas. Indeed, an exhaustive analysis of all the issues he brings forth would require volumes rather than a single book. In any case, I challenge anyone to read this book, look around honestly at what's happening in America, and conclude that Hedges is wrong.

One final note: this book is not for the squeamish. The chapter about pornography is brutally explicit. Still, I think it is an important book, and it would be good if a lot more people would read it, discuss it, and thereby become dis-illusioned.

By Bruce E. McLeod Jr. on February 11, 2012
Thorough and illuminating

Chris Hedges book, "Empire of Illusion" is a stinging assessment and vivid indictment of America's political and educational systems; a well-told story. I agree with his views but wonder how they can be reversed or transformed given the economic hegemony of the corporations and the weight of the entrenched political parties. Very few solutions were provided.

Corporations will continue to have a presence and set standards within the halls of educational and governmental institutions with impunity. Limited monetary measures, other than governmental, exist for public educational institutions, both secondary and post-secondary. Historically, Roman and Greek political elitists operated in a similar manner and may have set standards for today's plutocracy. Plebeian societies were helpless and powerless, with few options, to enact change against the political establishment. Given the current conditions, America is on a downward spiral to chaos.

His book is a clarion call for action. Parents and teachers have warned repeatedly that too much emphasis is placed on athletic programs at the expense of academics. Educational panels, books and other experts have done little to reform the system and its intransigent administrators.

Today's delusionary and corrupted officials, corporate and government, are reminiscent of the narratives penned by Charles Dickens. Alexander Hamilton referred to the masses as a "great beast" to be kept from the powers of government.

Edmund Burke used propaganda to control "elements of society". Walter Lippmann advised that "the public must be kept in its place". Yet, many Americans just don't get it.

They continue to be hood-winked by politicians using uncontested "sound bites" and "racially-coded" phrases to persuade voters.

Divide and conquer is the mantra--rich vs. poor; black vs. white. According to Norm Chomsky's writings, "In 1934, William Shepard argued that government should be in the hands of `aristocracy and intellectual power' while the `ignorant, and the uninformed and the antisocial element' must not be permitted to control elections...."

The appalling statistics and opinions outlined in the book demonstrate the public ignorance of the American culture; the depth and extent of the corporatocracy and the related economic malaise; and, the impact substandard schools have on their lives. This is further exemplified by Jay Leno's version of "Jaywalking". On the streets, he randomly selects passersby to interview, which seems to validate much of these charges.

We are all culpable. We are further susceptible to illusions. John Locke said, "Government receives its just powers from the consent of the governed".

This idea was recently usurped by the U.S. Supreme Court where representative government is called to question, rendering "our" consent irrelevant. Every voting election is an illusion. Each election, at the local and national level, voters never seemingly "miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity" to eliminate irresponsible and unresponsive officials.

Walt Kelly's quote "We have met the enemy and he is us" prevails!

By Richard Steiger on January 14, 2012
Powerful in spite of itself

There are many flaws with Hedges' book. For one thing, he is given to writing sermons (his father was a minister), hurling down denunciations in the manner of the prophet Amos. The book also tends to be repetitious, as Hedges makes the same general statements over and over. It's also hard to follow at times as Hedges attempts to stress the connections between pop culture and social, political. and economic policy. Nor is Hedges a particularly stylish writer (a sense of humor would help).

His last-second "happy ending" (something like: we're all doomed, but eventually, somewhere down the line, love will prevail beacuse it's ultimately the strongest power on earth) is, to say the least, unconvincing.

SO why am I recommending this book? Because in spite of its flaws (and maybe even because of them), this is a powerful depiction of the state of American society. The book does get to you in its somewhat clumsy way.

The stomach-turning chapter on trends in porn and their relationship to the torture of prisoners of war is a particularly sharp piece of analysis, and all of the other chapters do eventually convince (and depress).

This book will not exactly cheer you up, but at least it will give you an understanding of where we are (and where we're heading).

[Oct 08, 2017] The Dark History of Fear, Inc

Notable quotes:
"... None of this qualifies as your typical run-of-the-mill lunacy (scented candles cause cancer), over-the-top tripe (the recent solar eclipse marks the beginning of the apocalypse), or unbelievable baloney (that man-made pyramids have been discovered in Antarctica). Rather, the paranoid style is rooted in pernicious, but believable, political fears: that the nation is under threat from people or movements plotting to do it harm and is teetering, teetering, teetering on the edge of an abyss. The problem is not that this is patently false (The Germans! The Japanese! The Russians!), but that it's often exaggerated -- and, sometimes, purposely so. Then too, as Hofstadter implied, preying on these fears for political gain not only isn't new, it's tried, tested, and often successful. Scaring the dickens out of voters is as American as the 4th of July. ..."
"... The claims now are not only as breathless as anything the CIA said about East Germany in the 1980s, they're as suspect: Mexico is "on the verge of collapse" -- a claim made by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly -- that Russia is providing arms to the Taliban (retold by the recently retired commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John W. Nicholson, Jr., and, just the other day by James Mattis), that the U.S. military will be "outranged and outgunned by many potential adversaries in the future" (noted by national security adviser H.R. McMaster prior to his service at the White House) and that, as Donald Trump himself said during his address to the United Nations, large parts of the world " are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell ." ..."
"... The problem with the claims is that those who are asked to dismiss them are required to defend the opposite -- that Mexico is economically healthy (it isn't, but it's hardly on the verge of collapse), that Russian weapons haven't shown up in Afghanistan (they have, though not simply in the hands of the Taliban), that Russia and China aren't developing new and more sophisticated weapons (they are, but so what?), or that it's ridiculous not to believe that "major portions of the world are in conflict" (that's always been true). The other problem with disproving the claims is that doing so contains a whiff of weakness, or naiveté: that the skeptic favors open borders, supports Afghan terrorism, doesn't support a strong military, or is hopelessly misinformed. In fact, however, each of these claims have been made before -- and refuted by expert testimony. ..."
"... The same holds true for each of the other claims. Following Gen. Nicholson's statement that Russia was providing arms to the Taliban, his claim was given short shrift by both the Defense Intelligence Agency and by Jens Stoltenberg, the General Secretary of NATO. Stoltenberg acknowledged that he'd seen the reports, adding that the only thing they lacked was proof. ..."
"... That Russia is an antagonist is now widely accepted, and it is trivially true that Moscow's nuclear arsenal (with or without the help of China) could lay waste to the U.S. But outgunning us? Russia spends a fraction of what the U.S. spends on its military establishment (some 14 percent of what we spend, in fact) and so must pick and choose what weapons it will develop. ..."
"... So, yes, we're in deep, deep trouble -- just as we were when witches danced in Ipswich, when Samuel Morse claimed we were being subverted by papists, when Joe McCarthy saw a communist under every State Department memo -- and when the Russians were producing missiles like sausages. ..."
Oct 08, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Back in 1835, Samuel F.B. Morse (who went on to invent the telegraph and the Morse Code), wrote a book about a plot to overthrow the American republic. The conspiracy, Morse wrote, was well-funded, highly secretive, and hatched in Vienna by members of the The St. Leopold Foundation, which had dispatched cells of Jesuit missionaries to the U.S. to forcibly convert the nation to Roman Catholicism. This was no small intrigue: The plot's leaders, as Morse meticulously catalogued, were Austrian diplomat Klemens von Metternich, Ferdinand V of Hungary, and (of course) Pope Gregory XVI. "It is high time that we awakened to the apprehension of danger," Morse wrote .

What is shocking about this nonsense is not that Morse actually believed it, but that millions of other Americans did too. Morse's book seeded the rise of the nativist "Know-Nothing" party , whose goal was to curb immigration, root out Catholicism, and return America to its protestant ideals. In essence, they were the America-firsters of the nineteenth century. The Know-Nothings swept into office in Chicago, were strong in Massachusetts and, in 1856, nominated a national ticket (Millard Fillmore and Andrew Donelson), for the presidency; they tallied nearly 900,000 votes, one-quarter of those cast. "I know nothing but my country, my whole country and nothing but my country," they chanted.

Historians have since excavated the Morse plot with relish, if only as a way to better understand a nation that, from time to time, enjoys being scared witless.

Before the Know-Nothings there were the Anti-Masons, a political movement that warned of a takeover by secretive apron-wearing do-gooders who met for god-knows-why. And before that Americans were warned about witches named Dorothy, Rebecca, Martha, and Rachel, dancing in New England's forests. Some 120 years after Morse, in 1964, historian Richard Hofstadter dubbed this "the paranoid style in American politics" -- a paradigm-shifting essay that catalogued a raft of intrigues peopled by witches, Illuminati, Masons, Jesuits, Mormons, Jewish bankers, Bilderbergers and, in Hofstadter's time, communist dupes doing Moscow's bidding. America's enemies might be unseen, but they were everywhere.

"In the end, the real mystery, for one who reads the primary works of paranoid scholarship," Hofstadter wrote, "is not how the United States has been brought to its present dangerous position but how it managed to survive at all."

None of this qualifies as your typical run-of-the-mill lunacy (scented candles cause cancer), over-the-top tripe (the recent solar eclipse marks the beginning of the apocalypse), or unbelievable baloney (that man-made pyramids have been discovered in Antarctica). Rather, the paranoid style is rooted in pernicious, but believable, political fears: that the nation is under threat from people or movements plotting to do it harm and is teetering, teetering, teetering on the edge of an abyss. The problem is not that this is patently false (The Germans! The Japanese! The Russians!), but that it's often exaggerated -- and, sometimes, purposely so. Then too, as Hofstadter implied, preying on these fears for political gain not only isn't new, it's tried, tested, and often successful. Scaring the dickens out of voters is as American as the 4th of July.

The historical "for instance" in this is well-documented: during the 1960 presidential campaign, John Kennedy insisted that the Soviet Union had outstripped the U.S. in ballistic missile production. There was a growing and dangerous "missile gap" Kennedy claimed, placing the nation in great peril. Dwight Eisenhower, he said, had been derelict in not acknowledging the threat. An independent study commission issued a report that confirmed the fear and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave it credence: We are "turning out missiles like sausages," he claimed. As it turns out, Kennedy was right: there was a missile gap, but not in a way that he thought -- we had plenty, while they had none (a later CIA report speculated that, actually, they might have had three, maybe). Years later, Kennedy's claim looked downright foolish: the problem for the Russians wasn't that they couldn't make missiles (they eventually did, and plenty of them), but that they couldn't make sausages -- which cost them their empire. The same kinds of claims were retailed by U.S. intelligence services about Russia's allies: a 1987 CIA fact book said that East Germany's GDP per capita was higher than West Germany's, a claim so ludicrous that Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan dismissed it to a panel of CIA officers with a legendary quip: "I know a Berlin taxi driver who could have told you that wasn't true."

The claims now are not only as breathless as anything the CIA said about East Germany in the 1980s, they're as suspect: Mexico is "on the verge of collapse" -- a claim made by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly -- that Russia is providing arms to the Taliban (retold by the recently retired commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John W. Nicholson, Jr., and, just the other day by James Mattis), that the U.S. military will be "outranged and outgunned by many potential adversaries in the future" (noted by national security adviser H.R. McMaster prior to his service at the White House) and that, as Donald Trump himself said during his address to the United Nations, large parts of the world " are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell ."

The problem with the claims is that those who are asked to dismiss them are required to defend the opposite -- that Mexico is economically healthy (it isn't, but it's hardly on the verge of collapse), that Russian weapons haven't shown up in Afghanistan (they have, though not simply in the hands of the Taliban), that Russia and China aren't developing new and more sophisticated weapons (they are, but so what?), or that it's ridiculous not to believe that "major portions of the world are in conflict" (that's always been true). The other problem with disproving the claims is that doing so contains a whiff of weakness, or naiveté: that the skeptic favors open borders, supports Afghan terrorism, doesn't support a strong military, or is hopelessly misinformed. In fact, however, each of these claims have been made before -- and refuted by expert testimony.

Gen. Barry McCaffrey said that Mexico was in a state of collapse back in 2009, a claim contradicted by then-Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair. More recently, and before the recent earthquake shook Mexico City, the collapsing Mexican government offered to help provide aid to Texans victimized by Hurricane Harvey. It's a wonder they would think of us as the walls were coming down around them. Then too, if Mexico is really on the verge of collapse, shouldn't the administration be doing something about it -- perhaps we should appeal to the international community to provide the Mexican government with low interest loans, or maybe we should deploy a U.S. aircraft carrier group to the Gulf of Mexico. Or perhaps, just perhaps, the claim is Morse-like: designed to frighten us, perhaps, into building a wall as a barrier to keep immigrants who are not pouring over the border from pouring over the border.

The same holds true for each of the other claims. Following Gen. Nicholson's statement that Russia was providing arms to the Taliban, his claim was given short shrift by both the Defense Intelligence Agency and by Jens Stoltenberg, the General Secretary of NATO. Stoltenberg acknowledged that he'd seen the reports, adding that the only thing they lacked was proof. But Stoltenberg went further, inviting Russia to be a part of the Afghanistan peace process -- a strange request to a nation that a top U.S. general claims is helping the enemy. Even so, the claim was repeated just this last week by Defense Secretary James Mattis, who added Iran to the growing list of Taliban allies. Of course, Nicholson and Mattis might be absolutely right, but they're saying so doesn't make it so. Then too (we shuffle our feet, look at our shoes, mumble to ourselves), the Taliban's best friend in Afghanistan isn't Russia or Iran, it's Pakistan -- our friend.

That Russia is an antagonist is now widely accepted, and it is trivially true that Moscow's nuclear arsenal (with or without the help of China) could lay waste to the U.S. But outgunning us? Russia spends a fraction of what the U.S. spends on its military establishment (some 14 percent of what we spend, in fact) and so must pick and choose what weapons it will develop. The result is that the Russian Federation continues technological advances in some weapons systems, but lacks significant technological depth elsewhere. During its 2015 May Day military parade, Russia showed off its new state-of-the-art T-14 main battle tank, complete with a new-fangled APS (active protection system) designed to defeat anti-armor weapons. Onlookers ogled the tank, oohing and ahhing at its shiny exterior, its impressive armament. But then, just as it was about to exit Red Square it broke down -- and had to be towed. Is Russia a threat? Sure, it's a threat. But Russia has many of the same problems now that it had at the end of the Cold War. It ranks 53rd in per capita GDP -- just behind Panama.

The world has problems, big problems but it is not going to hell. Here's what going to hell looks like. In the autumn of 1941, Europe was under the domination of a genocidal regime that had extended its murderous policies through all of Europe and whose armies were headed towards Moscow. In Asia, large swathes of China and all of Southeast Asia were occupied by Japanese militarists. The two, with Italy, had formed an axis and controlled significant portions of the globe. Their enemies were teetering on the edge of defeat. The world was going to hell, alright, but the U.S. had yet to get into the war.

But that's not the worst of it. During the early morning hours of September 26, 1983, Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov was notified by his computer system that the U.S. had launched five intercontinental ballistic missiles at Russia. Petrov sat there for a moment, when he should have been on the telephone to his superiors. After several moments he concluded that the warning just didn't make sense. Why would the U.S. launch only five missiles at Russia, when everyone in the Soviet military supposed they would launch a barrage. "The siren howled, but I just sat there for a few seconds," he later told the BBC, "staring at the big, back-lit, red screen with the word 'launch' on it." Petrov ignored the warning -- and may well have prevented a nuclear holocaust.

So, yes, we're in deep, deep trouble -- just as we were when witches danced in Ipswich, when Samuel Morse claimed we were being subverted by papists, when Joe McCarthy saw a communist under every State Department memo -- and when the Russians were producing missiles like sausages.

Now, as then, we have two choices: we can either embrace our fears and shake in our boots, or we can tell the sky-is-falling crowd what Samuel F.B. Morse's friends told him all the way back in 1835.

Get a grip.

Mark Perry is a foreign policy analyst and the author of The Most Dangerous Man in America: The Making of Douglas MacArthur. His next book, The Pentagon's Wars, will be released in October. He tweets @markperrydc

[Oct 08, 2017] On the history and grand duplicity of neoliberalism

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Generally speaking, neoliberalism is a set of social, cultural, and political-economic forces that puts competition at the center of social life. According to neoliberalism, government's charge is not the care and security of citizens, but rather the promotion of market competition. In the neoliberal imagination, public social infrastructures (such as social security, unemployment benefits, public education) are believed to squash entrepreneurialism and individualism and breed dependency and bureaucracy. ..."
"... Gramsci's question is still pressing: How and why do ordinary working folks come to accept a system where wealth is produced by their collective labors and energies but appropriated individually by only a few at the top? The theory of hegemony suggests that the answer to this question is not simply a matter of direct exploitation and control by the capitalist class. Rather, hegemony posits that power is maintained through ongoing, ever-shifting cultural processes of winning the consent of the governed, that is, ordinary people like you and me. ..."
"... As Figure 1.1 shows, neoliberal hegemony works to erase this line between public and private and to create an entire society -- in fact, an entire world -- based on private, market competition. In this way, neoliberalism represents a radical reinvention of liberalism and thus of the horizons of hegemonic struggle. Crucially, within neoliberalism, the state's function does not go away; rather, it is deconstructed and reconstructed tow ard the new' end of expanding private markets. ..."
"... At this point, neoliberalism was still swimming upstream, as the postwar era ushered in a new' conjuncture that David Harvey calls embedded liberalism. ..."
"... Embedded liberalism was premised on a "class compromise" between the interests of workers and those of capitalists. In the name of peace, general prosperity, and global capitalism, a hegemonic consensus emerged "that the state should focus on full employment, economic growth, and the welfare of its citizens, and that state power should be freely deployed, alongside of or, if necessary, intervening in or even substituting for market processes to achieve these ends." 4 ..."
"... Neoliberalism developed largely as a coordinated political response to the hegemony of embedded liberalism. As Harvey explains, it was a project "to disembed capital from these constraints." 6 Indeed, the struggle for neoliberal hegemony waged a robust and successful class war on the "compromise" of embedded liberalism by developing, promoting, and implementing a new version of individual-liberty liberalism. ..."
"... As the system of embedded liberalism was taking root and establishing its dominance in national and international affairs, neoliberals were working on the ground: creating think tanks, forging political alliances, and infiltrating universities. During this second phase, neoliberalism emerged as a "thought collective": a "multilevel, multiphase, multi-sector approach to the building of political capacity to incubate, critique, and promulgate ideas." 7 ..."
"... The Neoliberal Thought Collective, as Philip Mirowski coined it, was a vertically integrated network of organizations and people focused on radically shifting the [concensus. ] ..."
Oct 08, 2017 | www.amazon.com

Quote from the book is courtesy of Amazon preview of the book Neoliberalism (Key Ideas in Media & Cultural Studies)

Generally speaking, neoliberalism is a set of social, cultural, and political-economic forces that puts competition at the center of social life. According to neoliberalism, government's charge is not the care and security of citizens, but rather the promotion of market competition. In the neoliberal imagination, public social infrastructures (such as social security, unemployment benefits, public education) are believed to squash entrepreneurialism and individualism and breed dependency and bureaucracy.

Competition, on the other hand, is heralded to ensure efficiency and incite creativity. Spurred by competition, individuals, organizations, companies, and even the government itself, will seek to optimize and innovate, creating a truly free social world where the best people and ideas come out on top. Put a little differently, neoliberalism aims to create a market-based society, where there are only competing private enterprises.

Since the late 1970s, neoliberal ideas have increasingly guided the policies and practices of governments and other social institutions, and as a result, we have come to live in competition with ourselves, others, and our social world.

...In a neoliberal society, the capitalist market is no longer imagined as a distinct arena where goods are valued and exchanged; rather, the market is, or ideally should be, the basis for all human activities.

...We are necessarily interdependent beings, vulnerable and connected to one another, as our lives are supported and made possible by a number of infrastructures (e.g., schools, roads and bridges, communication) that bring us into relation with one another.

We need each other. We need social cooperation and a commitment to a common, collective good if we are all going to make it in this world.

Neoliberalism and its diffusion of competition throughout society make the infrastructures that undergird our lives profoundly unstable, while simultaneously diminishing our senses of interdependence and social connection. As we will see, living in competition paradoxically undercuts what enables our lives -- that is, our social connections and infrastructures -- while telling us to assume more and more responsibility through self-enclosed individualism, thereby squashing our capacities for coming together, trusting and caring for each other, and organizing for social change.

... ... ...

In a culture composed ot anxious, sell-enclosed individuals, where market competition defines all of social life, we need now, more than ever, to see the social constructedness of our identities, worlds, and everyday lives. For neoliberalism's culture of living in competition is so entrenched that only a cultural studies perspective can produce the forms of knowledge we need to imagine and build new worlds. Indeed, a cultural studies perspective understands that possibilities of resistance and transformation are everywhere. As Grossberg puts it,

power is never able to totalize itself. There are always fissures and fault lines that may become the active sites of change. Power never quite accomplishes everything it might like to everywhere, and there is always the possibility of changing the structures and organization of power.7

See, here's the thing; there's a gigantic paradox at the heart of neoliberal culture. On one hand, as we will see, neoliberalism presents itself as a totalizing situation where resistance and transformation seem impossible, as living in competition has come to define all aspects of our lives. On the other hand, though, neoliberalism's power over our lives is incredibly tenuous; for, as mentioned earlier, I am convinced that most of us are yearning for a vastly different world, one that is built upon and nurtures our interdependencies and shared vulnerabilities, not self-enclosed individualism and living in competition.

... ... ...

1 should note that, within academia, neoliberalism is a controversial term. Scholars continue to debate its usefulness. On one hand, for some, neoliberalism is a buzzword, a catchphrase; it is a term that is so often repeated and invoked that it has lost its meaning. According to these critiques, neoliberalism is presented as a scary monster that is everywhere and nowhere all at once. It has come to figure as shorthand for everything that is evil in our world, and as a result, it ends up teaching us very little about what specifically is wrong, how exactly we got here, and what actually can be done to change course. Thus, many scholars advocate not using the term at all. On the other hand, other scholars prefer not to use the term because they argue that it is misleading. For them, neoliberalism is simply an advanced form of liberal capitalism. There's nothing really new or neo here, so why overstate and confuse things with the prefix?

However, despite these critiques, I hang onto the term neoliberalism. My wager in doing so is that writing this book as a critical study of neoliberal culture gives us a way to map our current conjuncture. It allows us to hold together the "specific ensemble of social, cultural, and economic forces" at work in our world and, thus, to locate our lives in interrelation with those of others. Indeed, I have found during my work with students over the years that studying neoliberalism enables us to see our interconnectedness and the new ways of living that sensing our interconnectedness opens up. We all suffer when we're forced to live in competition as self-enclosed individuals. Studying the neoliberal conjuncture allows us to clearly identify the roots of our suffering, and to tr ace our connections with others who are also suffering, although often in variegated ways. In other words, when w'e map our conjuncture, we can see how our different lives are lived on common ground, which is a crucial step to creating a world beyond competition.

... ... ...

A NEW HEGEMON

THE RISE OF NEOLIBERALISM

CHAPTER OVERVIEW

At this point, you might have a sense of what neoliberalism is, but you're probably still fuzzy on the details. This chapter starts to clear things up by charting the making of our neoliberal conjuncture. By tracing the history and development of neoliberalism, we will leant how competition came to be the driving force in our everyday lives. Specifically, we will examine the rise of neoliberal hegemony in four phases.

Table 1.1 Four Phases of Neoliberalism

As we will see, neoliberalism is far from natur and necessary; rather, it represents a clear political project that was organized, struggled for, and won.

A NEW HEGEMONY

We begin our investigation with a historical account of the rise of neoliberal hegemony. Hegemony is a concept developed by Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci was keen to account for the definitive role that culture played in legitimizing and sustaining capitalism and its exploitation of the working classes. In our own context of extreme economic inequality, Gramsci's question is still pressing: How and why do ordinary working folks come to accept a system where wealth is produced by their collective labors and energies but appropriated individually by only a few at the top? The theory of hegemony suggests that the answer to this question is not simply a matter of direct exploitation and control by the capitalist class. Rather, hegemony posits that power is maintained through ongoing, ever-shifting cultural processes of winning the consent of the governed, that is, ordinary people like you and me.

In other words, if we want to really understand why and how phenomena like inequality and exploitation exist, we have to attend to the particular, contingent, and often contradictory ways in which culture gets mobilized to forward the interests and power of the ruling classes. According to Gramsci, there was not one ruling class, but rather a historical bloc, "a moving equilibrium" of class interests and values. Hegemony names a cultural struggle for moral, social, economic, and political leadership; in this struggle, a field -- or assemblage -- of practices, discourses, values, and beliefs come to be dominant. While this field is powerful and firmly entrenched, it is also open to contestation. In other words, hegemonic power is always on the move; it has to keep winning our consent to survive, and sometimes it fails to do so.

Through the lens of hegemony, we can think about the rise of neoliberalism as an ongoing political project -- and class struggle -- to shift society's political equilibrium and create a new dominant field. Specifically, we are going to trace the shift from liberal to neoliberal hegemony. This shift is represented in the two images below.

Previous versions of liberal hegemony imagined society to be divided into distinct public and private spheres. The public sphere was the purview of the state, and its role was to ensure the formal rights and freedoms of citizens through the rule of law. The private sphere included the economy and the domestic sphere of home and family.

For the most part, liberal hegemony was animated by a commitment to limited government, as the goal was to allow for as much freedom in trade, associations, and civil society as possible, while preserving social order and individual rights. Politics took shape largely around the line between public and private; more precisely, it was a struggle over where and how to draw the line. In other words, within the field of liberal hegemony, politics was a question of how to define the uses and limits of the state and its public function in a capitalist society. Of course, political parties often disagreed passionately about where and how to draw that line. As we'll see below, many advocated for laissez-faire capitalism, while others argued for a greater public role in ensuring the health, happiness, and rights of citizens. What's crucial though is that everyone agreed that there was a line to be drawn, and that there was a public function for the state.

As Figure 1.1 shows, neoliberal hegemony works to erase this line between public and private and to create an entire society -- in fact, an entire world -- based on private, market competition. In this way, neoliberalism represents a radical reinvention of liberalism and thus of the horizons of hegemonic struggle. Crucially, within neoliberalism, the state's function does not go away; rather, it is deconstructed and reconstructed tow ard the new' end of expanding private markets.

Consequently, contemporary politics take shape around questions of how best to promote competition. For the most part, politics on both the left and right have been subsumed by neoliberal hegemony. For example, while neoliberalism made its debut in Western politics with the right-wing administrations of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, leaders associated with the left have worked to further neoliberal hegemony in stunning ways. As we will explore in more depth below and in die coming chapters, both U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have governed to create a privatized, market society. In other words, there is both a left and a right hegemonic horizon of neoliberalism. Thus, moving beyond neoliberalism will ultimately require a whole new field of politics.

It is important to see that the gradual shift from liberal to neoliberal hegemony was not inevitable or natural, nor was it easy. Rather, what we now r call neoliberalism is the effect of a sustained hegemonic struggle over the course of the twentieth and twentyfirst centuries to construct and maintain a new political equilibrium. Simply put, neoliberalism was, and continues to be, struggled over, fought for, and w'on.

In Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliheral Politics, Daniel Stedman Jones charts the history of the neoliberal project in three phases. The first phase saw the development of neoliberal ideas and philosophies in Europe during the years between World War I and World War II, as a relatively small group of economists (including most notably those from Austria, Germany, and France), wrestling with the rise of fascism, communism, and socialism, sought to envision a new liberal society that would protect individual liberties and free markets. The second phase w as a period of institution building, knowledge production, and organizing that enabled neoliberalism to cultivate a powerful base in culture and politics, especially in the U.S. and United Kingdom. During this phase, neoliberalism developed into a "thought collective" and full-fledged political movement. In the third phase, neoliberal ideas migrated from the margins to the center of political life as they came to shape global trade and development suggested by the theory of hegemony, none of these phases were neat and clean; each was shot through with struggle and contingency.

1 am adding a fourth phase, which is the focus of this book. Here neoliberalism is not only a set of economic policies and political discourses, but also a deeply entrenched sensibility of w ho we are and can become and of what is possible to do, both individually and collectively. It is what Raymond Williams called "a structure of feeling." Thanks to a convergence of different social, economic, and cultural forces, which we will explore throughout the following chapters, competition has become fully embedded in our lifeworlds: it is our culture, our conjuncture, the air we breathe. More specifically, this fourth phase is characterized by widespread precarity, where crisis becomes ordinary, a constant feature of everyday life. As we will learn in coming chapters, we are prompted to confront the precarity neoliberalism brings to our lives with more neoliberalism, that is, with living in competition and self-enclosed individualism.

PHASE I: THEORETICAL INNOVATION

The Crisis of Liberalism and the Birth of the Social Welfare State

Neoliberalism emerged out of the crisis of liberalism that ultimately came to a head in the early twentieth century. It is crucial to understand that liberal hegemony was never a coherent, unified phenomenon. Rather, it developed around a central political antagonism. On one side were those who championed individual liberty (especially private property rights and free markets) above all else. They argued against government intervention in private life, especially in the market. On the other side, social reformers believed that government should be pursued for the common good and not just for individual liberties. In the decades leading up to the Great Depression, it became clear that the individual-liberty side, which had long been dominant, was inadequate for managing huge transformations in capitalism that were underway. These transformations included industrialization, urbanization, and internationalization, as well as the rise of large-scale corporate firms that squeezed smaller market actors. Huge gaps formed between the political-economic elite, the middle classes, and the poor. Simply put, liberalism was in crisis.

During this time of social, cultural, and economic upheaval, those espousing the common good gained political ground. Specifically, the misery and devastation of the Great Depression solidified the gains for social reformers, opening a new era where a new, common-good liberalism began to prevail. In the United States, President Franklin

Roosevelt's administration passed a comprehensive set of social policies designed to protect individuals from the unpredictable and often brutal operations of capitalism. These included the following:

  1. Reforming banking: The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 set up regulatory agencies to provide oversight to the stock markets and financial sector, while enforcing the separation of commercial banking and speculative investment. Simply put, banks couldn't gamble with your savings and future.
  2. Strengthening labor: In 1935, the National Recovery Administration and the National Labor Relations Act were passed to recognize labor unions and the rights of workers to organize. At the same time, the administration spurred employment through the Public Works Administration, the Civil Works Administration, and the Works Progress Administration, while guaranteeing workers a dignified retirement with the Social Security Act of 1935.
  3. Promoting housing: A range of programs, policies, and agencies were established, including the Federal Housing Administration and the U.S. Housing Authority, to encourage homeownership and provide housing to the poor and homeless. 1

Taken together, these policies marked the birth of the so-called social welfare state, albeit one that was limited in scope and often highly exclusionary in practice. For example, a universal health care program was never realized. Many social groups, including African-Americans, migrant farm workers, and women, were prohibited by law from receiving federal benefits such as social security or unemployment. 3 Additionally, institutional racism plagued (as it still does) housing and banking institutions.

The Walter Lippmann Colloquium and the Birth of Neoliberalism

It is helpful to trace the emergence of our neoliberal conjuncture back to this moment where the common good was starting to win the day via the establishment of a limited and exclusionary social welfare state. For, despite the fact that these social welfare policies effectively "saved" capitalism from destroying itself, the individual-liberty side was deeply troubled. They feared that a new and established the Mont Pelerin Society (MPS) in 1947 to continue the work of dreaming up a new individual-liberty liberalism.

At this point, neoliberalism was still swimming upstream, as the postwar era ushered in a new' conjuncture that David Harvey calls embedded liberalism.

Embedded liberalism was premised on a "class compromise" between the interests of workers and those of capitalists. In the name of peace, general prosperity, and global capitalism, a hegemonic consensus emerged "that the state should focus on full employment, economic growth, and the welfare of its citizens, and that state power should be freely deployed, alongside of or, if necessary, intervening in or even substituting for market processes to achieve these ends." 4

A central piece of the embedded liberal compromise was the Bretton Woods Accord, which attempted to stabilize the global economy by re-fixing currency rates to the gold standard. The idea was that national economies shouldn't be threatened by currency speculation in the financial markets. All this meant that an infrastructure emerged to protect citizens' economic and social security. To ensure the common good, capitalism must be embedded within "a web of social and political constraints." 5

Neoliberalism developed largely as a coordinated political response to the hegemony of embedded liberalism. As Harvey explains, it was a project "to disembed capital from these constraints." 6 Indeed, the struggle for neoliberal hegemony waged a robust and successful class war on the "compromise" of embedded liberalism by developing, promoting, and implementing a new version of individual-liberty liberalism.

The Neoliberal Thought Collective

As the system of embedded liberalism was taking root and establishing its dominance in national and international affairs, neoliberals were working on the ground: creating think tanks, forging political alliances, and infiltrating universities. During this second phase, neoliberalism emerged as a "thought collective": a "multilevel, multiphase, multi-sector approach to the building of political capacity to incubate, critique, and promulgate ideas." 7

The Neoliberal Thought Collective, as Philip Mirowski coined it, was a vertically integrated network of organizations and people focused on radically shifting the [concensus. ]

[Oct 08, 2017] JFK The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy by L. Fletcher Prouty, Oliver Stone, Jesse Ventura

The most important part of power elite in neoliberal society might not be financial oligarchy, but intelligence agencies elite. If you look at the role of Brennan in "Purple color revolution" against Trump that became clear that heads of the agencies are powerful political players with resources at hand, that are not available to other politicians.
Notable quotes:
"... One objective of this book is to discuss these new forces. It will present an insider's view of the CIA story and provide comparisons with the intelligence organizations -- those invisible forces -- of other countries. To be more realistic with the priorities of these agencies themselves, more will be said about operational matters than about actual intelligence gathering as a profession. ..."
"... Under totalitarian or highly centralized nondemocratic regimes, the intelligence organization is a political, secret service with police powers. It is designed primarily to provide personal security to those who control the authority of the state against all political opponents, foreign and domestic. These leaders are forced to depend upon these secret elite forces to remain alive and in power. Such an organization operates in deep secrecy and has the responsibility for carrying out espionage, counterespionage, and pseudoterrorism. This methodology is as true of Israel, Chile, or Jordan as it has been of the Soviet Union. ..."
Oct 08, 2017 | www.amazon.com

Trie existence of these multimegaton hydrogen bombs has so drastically changed the Grand Strategy of world powers that, today and for the future, that strategy is being carried out by the invisible forces of the CIA, what remains of the KGB, and their lesser counterparts around the world.

Men in positions of great power have been forced to realize that their aspirations and responsibilities have exceeded the horizons of their own experience, knowledge, and capability. Yet, because they are in chargeof this high-technology society, they are compelled to do something.

This overpowering necessity to do something -- although our leaders do not know precisely what to do or how to do it -- creates in the power elite an overbearing fear of the people. It is the fear not of you and me as individuals but of the smoldering threat of vast populations and of potential uprisings of the masses.

This power elite is not easy to define; but the fact that it exists makes itself known from time to time. Concerning the power elite, R. Buckminster Fuller wrote of the "vastly ambitious individuals who [have] become so effectively powerful because of their ability to remain invisible while operating behind the national scenery." Fuller noted also, "Always their victories [are] in the name of some powerful sovereign-ruled country. The real power structures [are] always the
invisible ones behind the visible sovereign powers."

The power elite is not a group from one nation or even of one alliance of nations. It operates throughout the world and no doubt has done so for many, many centuries.

... ... ...

From this point ot view, warfare, and the preparation tor war, is an absolute necessity for the welfare of the state and for control of population masses, as has been so ably documented in that remarkable novel by Leonard Lewin1 Report From Iron Mountain on the Possibility and Desirability of Peace and attributed by Lewin to "the Special Study Group in 1966," an organization whose existence was so highly classified that there is no record, to this day, of who the men in the group were or with what sectors of the government or private life they were connected.

This report, as presented in the novel, avers that war is necessary to sustain society, the nation, and national sovereignty, a view that has existed for millennia. Through the ages, totally uncontrolled warfare -- the only kind of "real" war -- got bigger and "better" as time andtechnology churned on, finally culminating in World War II with the introduction of atomic bombs.

Not long after that great war, the world leaders were faced suddenly with the reality of a great dilemma. At the root of this dilemma was the new fission-fusion-fission H-bomb. Is it some uncontrollable Manichean device, or is it truly a weapon of war?

... ... ...

Such knowledge is sufficient. The dilemma is now fact. There can no longer be a classic or traditional war, at least not the all-out, go-for-broke-type warfare there has been down through the ages, a war that leads to a meaningful victory for one side and abject defeat for the other.

Witness what has been called warfare in Korea, and Vietnam, and the later, more limited experiment with new weaponry called the Gulf War in Iraq.

... ... ...

This is why, even before the end of World War II, the newly structured bipolar confrontation between the world of Communism and the West resulted in the employment of enormous intelligence agencies that had the power, invisibly, to wage underground warfare, economic and well as military, anywhere -- including methods of warfare never before imagined. These conflicts had to be tactically designed to remain short of the utilization of the H-bomb by either side. There can never be victories in such wars, but tremendous loss of life could occur, and there is the much-desired consumption and attrition of trillions of dollars', and
rubles', worth of war equipment.

One objective of this book is to discuss these new forces. It will present an insider's view of the CIA story and provide comparisons with the intelligence organizations -- those invisible forces -- of other countries. To be more realistic with the priorities of these agencies themselves, more will be said about operational matters than about actual intelligence gathering as a profession.

This subject cannot be explored fully without a discussion of assassination. Since WWII, there has been an epidemic of murders at the highest level in many countries. Without question the most dynamic of these assassinations was the murder of President John F. Kennedy, but JFK was just one of many in a long list that includes bankers, corporate leaders, newsmen, rising political spokesmen, and religious leaders.

The ever-present threat of assassination seriously limits the number of men who would normally attempt to strive for positions of leadership, if for no other reason than that they could be singled out for murder at any time. This is not a new tactic, but it is one that has become increasingly utilized in pressure spots around the world.

It is essential to note that there are two principal categories of intelligence organizations and that their functions are determined generally by the characteristics of the type of government they serve -- not by the citizens of the government, but by its leaders.

Under totalitarian or highly centralized nondemocratic regimes, the intelligence organization is a political, secret service with police powers. It is designed primarily to provide personal security to those who control the authority of the state against all political opponents, foreign and domestic. These leaders are forced to depend upon these secret elite forces to remain alive and in power. Such an organization operates in deep secrecy and has the responsibility for carrying out espionage, counterespionage, and pseudoterrorism. This methodology is as true of Israel, Chile, or Jordan as it has been of the Soviet Union.

The second category of intelligence organization is one whose agents are limited to the gathering and reporting of intelligence and who have no police functions or the power to arrest at home or abroad. This type of organization is what the CIA was created to be; however, it does not exist. Over the decades since the CIA was created, it has acquired more sinister functions. All intelligence agencies, in time, tend to develop along similar lines. The CIA today is a far cry hum the agency that was created in 1947 by the National Security Act. As President Harry S. Truman confided to close friends, the greatest mistake of his administration took place when he signed that National Security Act of 1947 into law. It was that act which, among other things it did, created the Central Intelligence Agency.3

[Oct 05, 2017] How Billionaires become Billionaires - The Unz Review

Notable quotes:
"... Billionaires in the commercial conglomerates, like Walmart, exploit workers by paying poverty wages and providing few, if any, benefits. Walmart earns $16 billion dollar a year in profits by paying its workers between $10 and $13 an hour and relying on state and federal assistance to provide services to the families of its impoverished workers through Medicaid and food stamps. ..."
"... Inequality is not a result of 'technology' and 'education'- contemporary euphemisms for the ruling class cult of superiority – as liberals and conservative economists and journalists like to claim. Inequalities are a result of low wages, based on big profits, financial swindles, multi-trillion dollar public handouts and multi-billion-dollar tax evasion. ..."
"... Workers pay disproportional taxes for education, health, social and public services and subsidies for billionaires ..."
"... First and foremost, billionaires and their political, legal and corporate associates dominate the political parties. They designate the leaders and key appointees, thus ensuring that budgets and policies will increase their profits, erode social benefits for the masses and weaken the political power of popular organizations ..."
"... As a result, wage and salary workers are less organized and less influential; they work longer and for less pay, suffer greater workplace insecurity and injuries – physical and mental – fall into decline and disability, drop out of the system, die earlier and poorer, and, in the process, provide unimaginable profits for the billionaire class ..."
"... The bulk of repatriated profits are directed to buy back stock to increase dividends for investors; they are not invested in the productive economy. Lower taxes and greater profits for conglomerates means more buy-outs and greater outflows to low wage countries. In real terms taxes are already less than half the headline rate and are a major factor heightening the concentration of income and power – both cause and effect. ..."
"... In other words, the capitalist class as a whole, globalist and domestic alike, pursues the same regressive policies, promoting inequalities while struggling over shares of the profits. One hundred and fifty million wage and salaried taxpayers are excluded from the political and social decisions that directly affect their income, employment, rates of taxation, and political representation. ..."
"... However, worker hostility and despair is directed against 'immigrants' and against the 'liberals' who have backed the import of cheap skilled and semi-skilled labor under the guise of 'freedom'. This 'politically correct' image of imported labor covers up a policy, which has served to lower wages, benefits and living standards for American workers, whether they are in technology, construction or production. ..."
"... The pro and anti-immigrant issue avoids the root cause for the economic exploitation and social degradation of the working class – the billionaire owners operating in alliance with the political elite. ..."
Oct 05, 2017 | www.unz.com

Billionaires in the commercial conglomerates, like Walmart, exploit workers by paying poverty wages and providing few, if any, benefits. Walmart earns $16 billion dollar a year in profits by paying its workers between $10 and $13 an hour and relying on state and federal assistance to provide services to the families of its impoverished workers through Medicaid and food stamps. Amazon plutocrat Jeff Bezos exploits workers by paying $12.50 an hour while he has accumulated over $80 billion dollars in profits. UPS CEO David Albany takes $11 million a year by exploiting workers at $11 an hour. Federal Express CEO, Fred Smith gets $16 million and pays workers $11 an hour.

Inequality is not a result of 'technology' and 'education'- contemporary euphemisms for the ruling class cult of superiority – as liberals and conservative economists and journalists like to claim. Inequalities are a result of low wages, based on big profits, financial swindles, multi-trillion dollar public handouts and multi-billion-dollar tax evasion. The ruling class has mastered the 'technology' of exploiting the state, through its pillage of the treasury, and the working class. Capitalist exploitation of low paid production workers provides additional billions for the 'philanthropic' billionaire family foundations to polish their public image – using another tax avoidance gimmick – self-glorifying 'donations'.

Workers pay disproportional taxes for education, health, social and public services and subsidies for billionaires.

Billionaires in the arms industry and security/mercenary conglomerates receive over $700 billion dollars from the federal budget, while over 100 million US workers lack adequate health care and their children are warehoused in deteriorating schools.

Workers and Bosses: Mortality Rates

Billionaires and multi-millionaires and their families enjoy longer and healthier lives than their workers. They have no need for health insurance policies or public hospitals. CEO's live on average ten years longer than a worker and enjoy twenty years more of healthy and pain-free lives.

Private, exclusive clinics and top medical care include the most advanced treatment and safe and proven medication which allow billionaires and their family members to live longer and healthier lives. The quality of their medical care and the qualifications of their medical providers present a stark contrast to the health care apartheid that characterizes the rest of the United States.

Workers are treated and mistreated by the health system: They have inadequate and often incompetent medical treatment, cursory examinations by inexperienced medical assistants and end up victims of the widespread over-prescription of highly addictive narcotics and other medications. Over-prescription of narcotics by incompetent 'providers' has significantly contributed to the rise in premature deaths among workers, spiraling cases of opiate overdose, disability due to addiction and descent into poverty and homelessness. These irresponsible practices have made additional billions of dollars in profits for the insurance corporate elite, who can cut their pensions and health care liabilities as injured, disabled and addicted workers drop out of the system or die.

The shortened life expectancy for workers and their family members is celebrated on Wall Street and in the financial press. Over 560,000 workers were killed by opioids between 1999-2015 contributing to the decline in life expectancy for working age wage and salary earners and reduced pension liabilities for Wall Street and the Social Security Administration.

Inequalities are cumulative, inter-generational and multi-sectorial.

Billionaire families, their children and grandchildren, inherit and invest billions. They have privileged access to the most prestigious schools and medical facilities, and conveniently fall in love to equally privileged, well-connected mates to join their fortunes and form even greater financial empires. Their wealth buys favorable, even fawning, mass media coverage and the services of the most influential lawyers and accountants to cover their swindles and tax evasion.

Billionaires hire innovators and sweat shop MBA managers to devise more ways to slash wages, increase productivity and ensure that inequalities widen even further. Billionaires do not have to be the brightest or most innovative people: Such individuals can simply be bought or imported on the 'free market' and discarded at will.

Billionaires have bought out or formed joint ventures with each other, creating interlocking directorates. Banks, IT, factories, warehouses, food and appliance, pharmaceuticals and hospitals are linked directly to political elites who slither through doors of rotating appointments within the IMF, the World Bank, Treasury, Wall Street banks and prestigious law firms.

Consequences of Inequalities

First and foremost, billionaires and their political, legal and corporate associates dominate the political parties. They designate the leaders and key appointees, thus ensuring that budgets and policies will increase their profits, erode social benefits for the masses and weaken the political power of popular organizations .

Secondly, the burden of the economic crisis is shifted on to the workers who are fired and later re-hired as part-time, contingent labor. Public bailouts, provided by the taxpayer, are channeled to the billionaires under the doctrine that Wall Street banks are too big to fail and workers are too weak to defend their wages, jobs and living standards.

Billionaires buy political elites, who appoint the World Bank and IMF officials tasked with instituting policies to freeze or reduce wages, slash corporate and public health care obligations and increase profits by privatizing public enterprises and facilitating corporate relocation to low wage, low tax countries.

As a result, wage and salary workers are less organized and less influential; they work longer and for less pay, suffer greater workplace insecurity and injuries – physical and mental – fall into decline and disability, drop out of the system, die earlier and poorer, and, in the process, provide unimaginable profits for the billionaire class . Even their addiction and deaths provide opportunities for huge profit – as the Sackler Family, manufacturers of Oxycontin, can attest.

The billionaires and their political acolytes argue that deeper regressive taxation would increase investments and jobs. The data speaks otherwise. The bulk of repatriated profits are directed to buy back stock to increase dividends for investors; they are not invested in the productive economy. Lower taxes and greater profits for conglomerates means more buy-outs and greater outflows to low wage countries. In real terms taxes are already less than half the headline rate and are a major factor heightening the concentration of income and power – both cause and effect.

Corporate elites, the billionaires in the Silicon Valley-Wall Street global complex are relatively satisfied that their cherished inequalities are guaranteed and expanding under the Demo-Republican Presidents- as the 'good times' roll on.

Away from the 'billionaire elite', the 'outsiders' – domestic capitalists – clamor for greater public investment in infrastructure to expand the domestic economy, lower taxes to increase profits, and state subsidies to increase the training of the labor force while reducing funds for health care and public education. They are oblivious to the contradiction.

In other words, the capitalist class as a whole, globalist and domestic alike, pursues the same regressive policies, promoting inequalities while struggling over shares of the profits. One hundred and fifty million wage and salaried taxpayers are excluded from the political and social decisions that directly affect their income, employment, rates of taxation, and political representation. They understand, or at least experience, how the class system works. Most workers know about the injustice of the fake 'free trade' agreements and regressive tax regime, which weighs heavy on the majority of wage and salary earners.

However, worker hostility and despair is directed against 'immigrants' and against the 'liberals' who have backed the import of cheap skilled and semi-skilled labor under the guise of 'freedom'. This 'politically correct' image of imported labor covers up a policy, which has served to lower wages, benefits and living standards for American workers, whether they are in technology, construction or production. Rich conservatives, on the other hand, oppose immigration under the guise of 'law and order' and to lower social expenditures – despite that fact that they all use imported nannies, tutors, nurses, doctors and gardeners to service their families. Their servants can always be deported when convenient.

The pro and anti-immigrant issue avoids the root cause for the economic exploitation and social degradation of the working class – the billionaire owners operating in alliance with the political elite.

In order to reverse the regressive tax practices and tax evasion, the low wage cycle and the spiraling death rates resulting from narcotics and other preventable causes, which profit insurance companies and pharmaceutical billionaires, class alliances need to be forged linking workers, consumers, pensioners, students, the disabled, the foreclosed homeowners, evicted tenants, debtors, the under-employed and immigrants as a unified political force.

Sooner said than done, but never tried! Everything and everyone is at stake: life, health and happiness.

conatus > , October 5, 2017 at 9:02 am GMT

Ronald Reagan can be blamed for the excess of billionaires we now have. His lauding of the entrepreneurial spirit and how we are all brave individual risk takers makes it seem you are an envious chickensh$t if you advocate against unlimited assets.

But even Warren Buffet has come out for the estate tax saying something like now the Forbes 400 now possesses total assets of 2.5 trillion in a 20 trillion economy when 40 years ago they totaled in the millions. The legal rule against perpetuities generally used to limit trusts to a lifetime of 100 years, now some states offer 1000 year trusts which will only concretize an outlandishly high Gini coefficient(a measure of income inequality).
The rationale for lowering taxes and the untouchable rich is usually the trickle down theory but, as one of these billionaires said, "How many pairs of pants can I buy?" It takes 274 years spending 10,000 a day to spend a billion dollars.
Better Henry Ford's virtuous circle than Ronald Reagan's entrepreneur.
Ban all billionaires. Bring back the union label. Otherwise .. what do we have to lose?

http://nobillionairescom.dotster.com/

jacques sheete > , October 5, 2017 at 2:29 pm GMT

@Wally "According to the US Internal Revenue Service, billionaire tax evasion amounts to $458 billion dollars in lost public revenues every year – almost a trillion dollars every two years by this conservative estimate."

No, it's $458 billion that the government has not managed to steal.

https://www.ronpaul.com/taxes/


An income tax is the most degrading and totalitarian of all possible taxes. Its implementation wrongly suggests that the government owns the lives and labor of the citizens it is supposed to represent.

Tellingly, "a heavy progressive or graduated income tax" is Plank #2 of the Communist Manifesto, which was written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and first published in 1848.
To provide funding for the federal government, Ron Paul supports excise taxes, non-protectionist tariffs, massive cuts in spending

"We could eliminate the income tax, replace it with nothing, and still fund the same level of big government we had in the late 1990s. We don't need to "replace" the income tax at all. I see a consumption tax as being a little better than the personal income tax, and I would vote for the Fair-Tax if it came up in the House of Representatives, but it is not my goal. We can do better."

https://youtu.be/qI5lC4Z_T80

No, it's $458 billion that the government has not managed to steal.

There was a time that I would have agreed with that, and technically still get the point, but what it really means is that the government merely allows the corporations which they favor, subsidize, and bail out to keep the chump change they've stolen from the workers, besides that which the government steals from the workers and hands to the corporations.

Corporations and government work hand in hand to fleece the herd and most of the herd apparently think it's just fine.

Never forget that thanks to government, corporations socialize risk while privatizing profit. They are partners in gangsterism.

advancedatheist > , October 5, 2017 at 2:53 pm GMT

Private, exclusive clinics and top medical care include the most advanced treatment and safe and proven medication which allow billionaires and their family members to live longer and healthier lives.

Sorry, I don't buy the notion that billionaires have access to some super-healthcare that the rest of us don't know about. In the real world rich people notoriously waste a lot of money on quackery, like the current fad of receiving plasma transfusions from young people as a phony "anti-aging" treatment.

More likely the kinds of men who become billionaires just enjoy better health and longevity for genetic reasons. They tend to have higher IQ's, for example, and some scientists think that IQ correlates with "system integrity" in their bodies which just make higher IQ people more resilient. Look up the growing body of research on cognitive epidemiology.

anonymous > , Disclaimer October 5, 2017 at 3:05 pm GMT

I'm disappointed there was no mention of the "Billionaires" use of social media. They've always controlled the press of course: startin' wars, hatin' on those guys, gettin' the blood up, jailin' the 'bad guys', preaching an empty delusion of social justice propaganda, payin' Ken Burns to propagandize and put a new coat of paint on the industrial scale killing of Vietnam. Probably just in time for more violence.

Let's face it, many of the workin' stiff will blow a hedge fund manager and kneel before the so-called free market corpse of Sam Walton but most importantly they'll grab their guns outa' patriotic fervor and social media will be right there with 'em. "I love Elon Musk!"

It's a great thing we're watched and datamined for our own good – information is how billionaires became billionaires along with a lot of help from the Government they usually encourage you to dislike. Keep posting!

MarkinLA > , October 5, 2017 at 3:29 pm GMT

Rich conservatives, on the other hand, oppose immigration under the guise of 'law and order' and to lower social expenditures – despite that fact that they all use imported nannies, tutors, nurses, doctors and gardeners to service their families. Their servants can always be deported when convenient.

BZZZZ – wrong. Rich conservative support massive immigration so they can get cheap labor while simutaneously virtue signaling. I thought you just got done sayiong they don't pay for the costs of the working poor? The middle class is who is against immigratioin. They bear the burden and pay the taxes that support it.

[Oct 05, 2017] Opinion cultivation is a mass comms topic. You can look up the spiral of silence, which was theorized in the 1970s as self-censorship by people who hold minority opinions, or think they do.

Notable quotes:
"... TAC is an odd place, I post comments and for some reason every single comment I post on the U.S. state Dept. never gets published while every other comment I write does and I cannot fathom why. ..."
"... Many comment sections of political and "news" sites are tightly curated. They offer the illusion of open discussion but in fact limit the scope of what discussion points are allowed. ..."
"... From a PR/opinion cultivation perspective the goal is to keep those points or positions from appearing before other commenters and readers, thus validating their existence. Or such points or positions are allowed through on a very irregular or rare basis, which leaves the impression that they are extreme. ..."
"... Opinion cultivation is a mass comms topic. You can look up the "spiral of silence," which was theorized in the 1970s as self-censorship by people who hold minority opinions, or think they do. ..."
"... What we have today is the systematic creation of "spiral of silence" by the media that tout themselves as giving voice to opinions/positions/facts. They silence views at odds with the ones they want to sell, with the intention that their viewers/readers will self-censor. ..."
Oct 04, 2017 | www.unz.com

Olorin says: October 3, 2017 at 9:45 pm

@Chris Chuba

I'm sorry to hear that you were removed from TAC. I do not believe that you should tailor you writings to make them pro-Israeli / Jewish if that does not represent your views. If I find an article unappealing I just skip it, I don't want to see it censored and I don't assume bad intentions on people just because they pursue a theory I don't agree with. To judge if someone is out-of-bounds perhaps we should apply the 'Iran test', replace Israel/Jewish with Iran/Iranian and see if people would still take offense (being a bit facetious, nothing would be out-of-bounds).

TAC is an odd place, I post comments and for some reason every single comment I post on the U.S. state Dept. never gets published while every other comment I write does and I cannot fathom why.

The pattern goes like this.

  1. Larison writes how Tillerson is gutting the U.S. State Dept. budget and this is wrecking U.S. diplomacy.
  2. I post a comment asking why that's a bad thing because 60%+ of the budget goes for 'soft power', funding NGO's to influence and/or meddle in other countries. Lindsey Graham even said, 'that's our soft power'.

This is like Groundhog Day, I've tried posting several versions of this comment thinking that I inadvertently said something inflammatory. I've stopped commenting on any article having to do with this topic.

Maybe I'm wrong, I'm fallible but I don't see how my comment is out of bounds, I'm baffled.

TAC is an odd place, I post comments and for some reason every single comment I post on the U.S. state Dept. never gets published while every other comment I write does and I cannot fathom why.

Many comment sections of political and "news" sites are tightly curated. They offer the illusion of open discussion but in fact limit the scope of what discussion points are allowed.

From a PR/opinion cultivation perspective the goal is to keep those points or positions from appearing before other commenters and readers, thus validating their existence. Or such points or positions are allowed through on a very irregular or rare basis, which leaves the impression that they are extreme.

Opinion cultivation is a mass comms topic. You can look up the "spiral of silence," which was theorized in the 1970s as self-censorship by people who hold minority opinions, or think they do.

What we have today is the systematic creation of "spiral of silence" by the media that tout themselves as giving voice to opinions/positions/facts. They silence views at odds with the ones they want to sell, with the intention that their viewers/readers will self-censor.

This is related to the 1970s to 1980s field of "cultivation theory" out of the Annenberg School (Penn). In that case, Jewish scholars at a majority Jewish department commenting on disproportionately Jewish-run media networks/outlets and Jewish-created programming concluded that rank-and-file white Americans were stupid for thinking the world was mean and dangerous based on what they saw on television.

(The findings/research claim held that more hours of TV viewing led to people thinking crime rates were higher than they actually were. I don't call whether the converse was true, i.e., no TV viewing led to underestimate of crime rates, or what.)

There was some truth in the cultivation theory framing–George Gerbner left communist Hungary, IIRC–but the whole thing struck me overall as an effort to ridicule white men and women for a) trusting the media and b) perceiving that their culture was going shall we say down the tubes. The real data were the actual crime rates and why the MSM didn't report those, nor on the demographics of them.

In any case, the researchers were suffering from confirmation bias at least as strongly as their human subjects were, IMO.

[Oct 04, 2017] Trump, Syriza Brexit prove voting is only small part of the battle by Neil Clark

Highly recommended!
Inverted totalitarism is very far from democracy. It just pretends being democracy.
Notable quotes:
"... Trump won the election by attracting working-class 'rust belt' voters away from the Democrats and for offering the prospect of an end to a 'liberal interventionist' foreign policy. Yet just nine months into his Presidency the belief that Trump would mark a 'clean break' with what had gone before is in tatters. National conservative members of his team have been purged, while Trump has proved himself as much of a war hawk as his predecessors. Rather than 'draining the swamp,' The Donald has waded right into it. ..."
"... The events of 2017 plainly prove as I argued here that the US is a regime and not a genuine democracy, and that whoever gets to the White House - sooner or later - will be forced to toe the War Party/Wall Street/Deep State line, regardless of what they promise on the election trail. ..."
Oct 04, 2017 | www.rt.com

If voting changed anything, they'd abolish it. That might sound a bit glib but consider these recent events.

In January 2015, the Greek people, sick and tired of austerity and rapidly plummeting living standards, voted for Syriza, a radical anti-austerity party. The Coalition of the Left, which had only been formed eleven years earlier, won 36.3 percent of the vote and 149 out of the Hellenic Parliament's 300 seats. The Greek people had reasonable hopes their austerity nightmare would end. The victory of Syriza was hailed by progressives across Europe.

Pressure was applied on Greece by 'The Troika' to accept onerous terms for a new bailout. Syriza went to the people in June 2015 to ask them directly in a national referendum if they should accept the terms.

"On Sunday, we are not simply deciding to remain in Europe, we are deciding to live with dignity in Europe," Alexis Tsipras, the leader of Syriza, declared. The Greek people duly gave Tsipras the mandate he asked for, and rejected the bailout terms with 61.3 percent voting 'No.'

Yet, just over two weeks after the referendum, Syriza accepted a bailout package that contained larger cuts in pensions and higher tax increases than the one on offer earlier. The Greek people may as well have stayed at home on 27th June for all the difference their vote made.

Many supporters of Donald Trump in the US are no doubt thinking the same.

Trump won the election by attracting working-class 'rust belt' voters away from the Democrats and for offering the prospect of an end to a 'liberal interventionist' foreign policy. Yet just nine months into his Presidency the belief that Trump would mark a 'clean break' with what had gone before is in tatters. National conservative members of his team have been purged, while Trump has proved himself as much of a war hawk as his predecessors. Rather than 'draining the swamp,' The Donald has waded right into it.

The events of 2017 plainly prove as I argued here that the US is a regime and not a genuine democracy, and that whoever gets to the White House - sooner or later - will be forced to toe the War Party/Wall Street/Deep State line, regardless of what they promise on the election trail.

... ... ... ...

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66

[Oct 04, 2017] Living Under the French Hate Speech Laws by Lawrence G. Proulx

Notable quotes:
"... Lawrence G. Proulx is a retired copy editor who worked for more than 30 years at the Washington Times, Washington Post, International Herald Tribune and International New York Times. ..."
Oct 04, 2017 | www.unz.com

What infractions must a speaker or writer or editor or publisher avoid in order to stay within the law in France? Here are the basics, as discussed in the manual "Droits des journalistes et liberté d'expression" by Bernard Dapogny and Marion Dapogny:

False news, "made in bad faith, that disturbs the public order or is capable of disturbing it." Use of a false document in reporting. Attempt to harm the discipline or morale of the armed forces or to hinder a war effort. Defamation. Insult. [The distinction between this and the preceding is that defamation must assert something specific, whereas insult can be merely an offensive word.] Attempt to harm a person's honor or reputation. Defamation of or insult to the judiciary, the military services, various other public bodies including "junior high schools, high schools, universities, the Legion of Honor" as well as "local administrations, the police, hospitals, penitentiaries." Defamation of or insult to persons acting in a position of public authority, including "representatives and senators, ministers and Secretaries of State" as well as "police personnel, magistrates, teachers." Defamation or insult based on race, religion or belonging to an ethnic group or a nation. Defamation or insult based on sex, sexual orientation or handicap. Defamation of or insult to deceased persons, where the offense touches on the honor of the heirs or close survivors. Provocation to the commission of a crime which leads to the crime. Provocation to the commission of a crime which doesn't lead to the crime. Indirect provocation (apology), that is, stating that certain crimes were justified, including "war crimes, crimes against humanity or crimes in collaboration with the enemy." Provocation to hate, violence or discrimination, which could be based on a person's "origin, sex, family situation, state of pregnancy, physical appearance, family name, state of health, handicap, genetic characteristics, morals, sexual orientation, age, opinions, politics, labor union activity, belonging or not belonging, real or supposed to a particular ethnic group, nation, race or religion." Provocation to or apology for terrorism. Contesting "the existence of one or several crimes against humanity as defined by Article 6 of the charter of the International Military Tribunal [the Nuremberg Tribunal] annexed to the London Agreement of August 6, 1945, and which were committed by the members of an organization declared criminal in application of Article 9 of the said charter, by a person recognized as guilty of such crimes by a French jurisdiction or by an international one." Enacted in July 1990 and called the Gayssot Law. Offending the president of the Republic. [This law was repealed in 2013.]

Many of these laws are seldom invoked; others are used frequently. To put flesh on the matter, I offer you a list of cases from 2013 that I put together in 2014 for an article that never found a publisher. (Sorry, but the work of assembling it was too tedious for me to undertake it again, and I think the general impression given by more recent cases would not be different.) Although details of the offensive language are frequently omitted in the news reports from which this list is compiled, a quick look will give a sense of how routine the cases are.

One thing should be mentioned first. An anti-racism law passed in July 1972, commonly called the Pleven Law, strengthened the restrictions on speech and granted to private associations dedicated to fighting racism the right to participate in the prosecution of criminal cases and to claim damages as well. Amendments to the law empowered additional categories of associations, for example, associations working "to defend the moral interests and the honor of veterans and victims of war and of those who died for France" or "to defend the memory of slaves and the honor of their descendants." Such associations are frequently the first to blow the whistle on remarks they consider violative, and because they have the standing to file complaints even when no particular person is targeted by the contested remarks, their legal recognition is an important factor in the number of cases brought before the courts today.

2013 in Review

January

Marie-Josée Roig, the mayor of Avignon, files a complaint for public insults contained in a book purporting to be fiction ("Le Monarque, son fils, son fief") by Marie-Célie Guillaume in which a character who resembles Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president, demands a quick sexual "present" from a woman who resembles Roig.

Daniel Boyer, the mayor of Châteaubernard, files a complaint for public insults after a wave of graffiti attacking him and various acts of vandalism.

Frédéric Haziza, a Jewish journalist, files a complaint for public insult and public insult committed against a person because of his religion, after being attacked on the website of Alain Soral, a self-described anti-Zionist activist. Haziza had refused to invite Soral onto his show to discuss Soral's book "Comprendre l'empire" because of Soral's "clearly antisemitic" views.

March

A judge, Jean-Michel Gentil, files a complaint for contempt and insult against Henri Guaino, a deputy in Parliament, for having said that the judge "dishonored the [state] institutions and justice" after Sarkozy was interrogated on suspicion of abusing the weakness of a rich aged widow.

Bloc Identitaire, a nationalist group, announces its intention to file a complaint for public insult against Yann Galut, a deputy from the Cher department, for having called the members of the bloc "casseurs" (protesters who destroy property) in a Twitter message.

April

Rama Yade, a former secretary of state for human rights and for sports, is found guilty of defamation and insult for eight of twenty-eight contested statements posted on her blog about a political opponent, Manuel Aeschlimann, after she was challenged over her domicile status in the Hauts-de-Seine department.

May

Yvan Benedetti and Alexandre Gabriac, right-wing activists, file a complaint against Jean-François Carenco, the prefect of Lyon, and Albert Doutre, director of public security, for "hateful" public insults (such as "imbecilities" and "thugs") made during the containment of a nationalist youth protest in front of the Socialist Party local headquarters.

June

The city of Angers files suit against a shopkeeper for public insult in the form of signs he put up to protest a proposed tax on businesses that serve clients on the sidewalk, which followed among other things a police check of whether he was serving alcohol without the proper license.

Pierre Dubois, the mayor of Roubaix, and the Human Rights League file a complaint against an unnamed man who, during the course of a heated discussion at a public meeting, suggested that the Roma (Gypsies) be sent to Auschwitz.

July

Sylvie Goy-Chavent, a senator of the Ain department who prepared a report on the security of meat production in France, files a complaint against a website, Internet JSSNews.com, which describes itself as a webzine of Israeli opinion, for calling her such things as "bitch" and "little shit" and writing, among other things, "Goy, she wears her name well."

September

The Union of Jewish Students of France says it will file a complaint against the weekly magazine Valeurs Actuelles for provocation of racial or religious discrimination, hatred or violence. The group describes the cover of the magazine's Sept. 26 issue, which shows a white bust of a woman representing France wearing a black Islamic veil and bearing the title "Naturalized: The Invasion They're Hiding," as "racist" and "hateful." The magazine says in return that it will file a complaint against the group for calumnious denunciation, defamation and attack on freedom of expression.

The Foundation for the Memorial of the Black Slave Trade, along with the Federation of African Associations, the National Union of Overseas France, and other organizations and individual citizens file a complaint against Jean-Sebastien Vialatte, a deputy in Parliament, for public insult, defamation and incitement of racial hatred and racial discrimination, for his remarks after vandalism occurred during a celebration of the Paris Saint-Germain soccer team. He had sent a Twitter message in which he said sardonically that "the people who vandalize are surely descendants of slaves, they have excuses[.] #Taubira [the justice minister] will give them some compensation!"

October

The League for the Judicial Defense of Muslims files a complaint against the weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo for its July 10 cover which had a cartoon captioned in large letters with "The Koran, it's shit; it doesn't stop bullets"; against the magazine Valeurs Actuelles for its Sept. 26 cover; against the website Riposte Laïque for various articles; and against Manuel Valls, the secretary of the interior, for provocation of discrimination and hate, for saying, "Within ten years we will show, we are in the process of showing, there is a will, that Islam is compatible [sic] with the Republic."

Bruno Gilles, a senator in the Union for a Popular Movement, files a complaint against a socialist, Patrick Mennucci, for "defamation and public insults." "He called me a racist and xenophobe," the senator said.

France-El Djazaïr, a Franco-Algerian friendship association, announces that it will file a complaint against a police officer in the city of Alès for "insults and incitement to xenophobic and Islamophobic hatred"; the officer had put on his Facebook profile page a photo-montage representing the Algerian flag over which was written "I hate Algeria," attached to an image of a man wiping his bottom with the flag.

Bachir Bouhmadou, adjunct general secretary of Citizen Resistance, and Ali Saab, president of the Association of Muslims of the Territory of Belfort, file a complaint against Christine Tasin, a militant with the group Republican Resistance, for videotaped comments opposing ritual Islamic butchery and criticizing Islam.

Abdellah Zekri, the president of the National Observatory Against Islamophobia, says he will file a complaint after his house was defaced with swastikas and graffiti saying "Islam Out" and "Heit [sic] Hitler."

The National Front says it will file a complaint against Christiane Taubira, the justice minister, for public insult for having described the party's way of thinking as "deadly and murderous" and summarizing it thus: "It's the blacks in the branches of the trees, the Arabs in the sea, the homosexuals in the Seine, the Jews in the oven and so forth."

November

A 65-year-old man is found guilty of insulting Claudine Ledoux, the mayor of Charleville-Mézières, on his website, l'Union-l'Ardennais, in a manner described by a regional newspaper as "menacing, racist and sexist," in relation to her being made a knight in the Legion of Honor; he is ordered to pay a fine of one thousand euros and damages for mental distress of the same amount to Ledoux.

The association SOS Racisme says it will file a complaint for incitation to racial hatred against Minute, a 16-page rightist weekly, for its cover with a photo of Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who is a native of French Guiana, and for the title "Clever Like a Monkey, Taubira Finds the Banana Again," which combines two common French expressions; to have the banana (or the peach) means to be full of energy.

A player files a complaint for racial insult after a rough soccer game (three red cards) between the second-stringers of the Sablé and Lude clubs. A player explained: "This attacker called me a dirty white. I called him a dirty black."

The Movement Against Racism and for the Amity of Peoples files a complaint for provocation of racial hatred against Manuel Valls, minister of the interior, for comments about the Gypsies including, "The Gypsies should stay in Romania or return there." The case will be dismissed in December 2013.

Bob Dylan is put under formal investigation for insult and provocation of racial hatred after the Representative Council of the Croatian Community and Institutions of France files a complaint against both him and the magazine Rolling Stone, the French version of which republished an interview in which he said, "If you've got a slave master or the Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood." The case will be dismissed in April 2014.

December

The comedian Nicolas Bedos testifies after being accused of complicity in making a public racial insult in an article in the magazine Marianne as well as on its website; among the phrases he used were "Negro bugger," "island indolence" and "lazy natives."

Gérard Huet, the mayor of Loudéac, is sued by the Human Rights League for comments about Gypsies he made at a meeting to discuss expenditures to renovate the area where the Gypsies were living. "They've stolen all our plumbing," he says, and he later objects to the comment of another member of the city council with, "You're defending thieves?" He sues the league in return for harassment.

The comedian Dieudonné files a defamation complaint after Alain Jakubowicz, the president of the International League Against Racism and Antisemitism, describes the "quenelle," a gesture used by the comedian and his fans, as "corresponding to an inverted Nazi salute signifying the sodomizing of the victims of the Holocaust." Dieudonné also says he will sue Le Monde, Le Figaro, BFMTV, France 2 and Manuel Valls, the interior minister.

The imam Hicham El Barkani files a complaint for insult after a protest described as islamophobic against the opening of a mosque in Papeete.

Historians on Trial

Some cases have greater import than those listed above, as when historians are attacked for their work.

The Columbia University historian Bernard Lewis gave an interview to Le Monde on November 16, 1993, in which he discussed the killings of Armenians by Turks during the First World War. In the course of it he said, "If one speaks of genocide, that implies that there was a deliberate policy, a decision, to systematically annihilate the Armenian nation. That is quite doubtful. Turkish documents prove a will of deportation, not of extermination." On January 1, 1994, in response to strong objections to his remarks, he published a further explanation of his position, again in Le Monde, ending with a repetition of his main point, that "no serious proof exists of a decision and a plan by the Ottoman government aiming at exterminating the Armenian nation." He was sued by the Forum of Armenian Associations of France and the International League Against Racism and Antisemitism on the claim that he had "gravely hurt the memory and respect of the survivors and of their families." The civil court of Paris ruled that Lewis had "failed to meet his duty of objectivity and prudence in expressing himself without nuance on so sensitive a subject" and ordered him to pay a franc each to the two associations as well as the cost of publishing the decision. Lewis was also the defendant in other civil cases and one criminal one on the same subject, all of which were dismissed.

In 2001, the French Parliament "publicly recognized the Armenian genocide of 1915," and in 2012 the Parliament passed a law instituting a punishment of imprisonment for one year and a fine of 45,000 euros of anyone who "contests or minimizes in an outrageous fashion" genocides recognized as such by French law, but the Constitutional Council ruled the latter law unconstitutional a month later. Both of the main candidates for president that year, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, soon announced that they would seek a new law to criminalize denial of the Armenian genocide, and in January 2017 a law took effect providing for a year of prison and a fine of 45,000 euros for those who denied, belittled or "banalized in an outrageous way" recognized genocides, crimes against humanity, and enslavement or exploitation of an enslaved person.

In 2001 Parliament also passed a law recognizing "that the trans-Atlantic trade in Negroes as well as the trade in the Indian Ocean on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the slavery perpetrated starting in the 15th Century, in the Americas and the Caribbean, in the Indian Ocean and in Europe against the Africans, Amerindians, Madagascans and Indians constitute a crime against humanity." Four years later this law was invoked against Olivier Pétré-Grenouilleau, a professor at the University of Southern Brittany. In the course of an interview given on June 12, 2005, in relation to his book "Les traites négrières" (The Negro Slave Trades), which had won many awards including the Senate History Book Prize, Pétré-Grenouilleau rejected a comparison of the slave trades to the Jewish Holocaust: "The slave trades are not genocides. The slave trade didn't have the goal of exterminating a people. The slave was a good that had a market value that one wanted to make work as much as possible." An association representing people of the Caribbean, French Guiana and Réunion filed a complaint against him for denying a crime against humanity and demanded that he be "suspended from his university functions for revisionism." In the vehement debate that ensued, Pétré-Grenouilleau was strongly supported by many prominent historians, and in February 2006, acknowledging this opposition, the association withdrew its complaint.

Shortly before the Pétré-Grenouilleau affair erupted, another "memorial" law had been passed, in January 2005, aimed generally at recognizing the suffering of those French citizens who had been repatriated from North Africa at the end of the Algerian War. This law had itself evoked controversy, by requiring that "school programs recognize in particular the positive role of the French presence overseas, notably in North Africa." A year later the law was emended and the "positive role" removed.

Real Prison Sentences

I know of only three writers who have recently been given sentences that were "fermes," as the French say, that is, that were not suspended as soon as pronounced. Vincent Reynouard is a Frenchman born in 1969 and trained as a chemical engineer who has argued that the Nazis had no plan to exterminate the Jews and that gas chambers were not used to kill people. Among the many videos he has placed on the Internet, there is one in which he expresses his admiration for Hitler; he says, "I think that Hitler was a man too good for the 20th Century, too honest, too straightforward." A month after being arrested in Belgium, Reynouard was extradited to France in August 2010 and served seven and a half months in prison for contesting a crime against humanity. He has continued to produce writings and Internet videos, and in February 2015 he was convicted of contestation of crimes against humanity and sentenced to two years in prison. In November 2016 he was given a five-months sentence for publishing two videos in which he stated that he would offer 5,000 euros to "anyone who can show me, in free, candid and courteous debate, that the homicidal Hitlerian gas chambers are not a myth of history." To avoid a return to prison, he is said to be living in England.

Hervé Ryssen, according to Wikipedia, has been sentenced several times for his writings about Jews on counts, among others, of racial insult, racial defamation, defamation against a group of persons because of their belonging to a certain race, and incitation to racial hatred; and Boris Le Lay, who is living in Japan, has been sentenced in absentia many times, most recently in July this year to serve 32 months in prison and to pay 31,500 euros to the groups representing the supposed victims, for his writings judged to constitute incitement to discrimination and to racial hatred and violence, and to contain public racial insults. Among the recent charges against Le Lay was one of making death threats against activists of the Human Rights League; I have not been able to determine if he was convicted of this; if he was, he appears in that instance to be an exception to the other cases discussed in this article, which involve no violence or threat thereof.

Politicians on Trial

Although many speech cases involve politicians, two in particular deserve mention because they arguably played a role in the presidential election of 2007.

The first round of the previous election, in 2002, had stunned the country as Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, edged out Lionel Jospin, the Socialist candidate, for a place in the second round. Le Pen's share of the first-round vote was only 16.9 percent, but Jospin was handicapped by an abundance of rivals on the left who split the vote. Before the second round, a broad denunciatory publicity campaign to block Le Pen took place, and his opponent, Jacques Chirac, the incumbent, refused to debate him. Chirac was re-elected with 82 percent of the vote.

Before the next election, in 2007, both Le Pen and the party's second-ranking member, Bruno Gollnisch, would be defendants in high-profile cases over things they said.

On January 7, 2005, the rightist weekly Rivarol published an interview in which Le Pen said: "In France, at least, the German occupation wasn't particularly inhumane, even if there were slip-ups, inevitable in a country of 550,000 square kilometers." He also related a story about a German lieutenant, "crazy with pain" after an attack on a train in which many young soldiers died, who he said would have shot up a village had the Gestapo not intervened. Various groups filed complaints, and in March an investigation was formally opened. In February 2008 he was found guilty of complicity in the contestation of crimes against humanity and complicity in apology for war crimes. In January 2009 the appeals court in Paris confirmed the verdict on the first count but threw out the war-crimes verdict. In April 2011 the Court of Cassation overturned the crimes-against-humanity verdict, and remanded the matter to the appeals court, which again found him guilty in February 2012, a judgment confirmed by the Court of Cassation in June 2013. Le Pen was sentenced to three months in prison (suspended) and assessed a fine of 10,000 euros, and the editor of Rivarol and the interviewer were fined 5,000 euros and 2,000 euros respectively. Three of the complainant groups were awarded damages of 5,000 euros each, and Rivarol was ordered to pay for the publication of the decision in Le Figaro.

In the other case, Gollnisch, a professor of Japanese language and culture at the University of Lyon who at the time was director general of the National Front (before the ascension of Marine Le Pen), was charged with contestation of crimes against humanity for responses to a journalist's questions at a press conference in October 2004. No electronic recording was made, but he was quoted as saying: "There is no serious historian who accepts completely the conclusions of the Nuremberg Tribunal; I think that the discussion should remain free concerning the drama of the concentration camps. The number of deaths, the manner in which the people died -- historians have the right to discuss. I don't deny that there were homicidal gas chambers, but the discussion should remain free." In 2006, before the verdict was rendered, he was suspended from his university post for five years.

During the trial Gollnisch was questioned intensively for hours one day in November 2006 over his true beliefs on the matter, and the attorney examining him, Alain Jakubowicz, representing the International League Against Racism and Antisemitism, said he would withdraw from the case if Gollnisch would only admit "that the organized extermination of the Jews of Europe by the Nazi regime during the Second World War constitute an incontestable crime against humanity perpetrated notably by the use of gas chambers." According to Le Monde, Gollnisch appeared surprised and hesitated before giving an answer that might alienate the "hard fringe of his movement." Gollnisch replied, "Completely." Asked to repeat his answer, he said: "My answer is affirmative." He was convicted in January 2007, three months before the first round of the presidential election, and sentenced to serve three months in prison (suspended) and pay a fine of 5,000 euros. An appeals court in February 2008 confirmed the conviction and added fines totaling 39,000 euros to be paid to nine associations devoted to fighting racism or representing people deported from France during World War Two. But in June 2009 the Court of Cassation, judging that his contradictory remarks as presented to the court did not constitute contestation, overturned the verdict without possibility of retrial.

However these cases might be viewed in relation to freedom of speech, they also merit attention from a purely political point of view. In the 2002 election, Jean-Marie Le Pen scored an upset in the first round; in 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy won the presidency by, in the view of many commentators, "borrowing the discourse" and luring the voters of Le Pen's party. In between, both Le Pen and his righthand man were put on trial, to the accompaniment of much public commentary, on charges that suggested their approbation of Nazi atrocities. Under such circumstances, borrowing and luring may be much easier than would otherwise be the case.

Censored Books

In September 2013 the International League Against Racism and Antisemitism sought an injunction from a court in Bobigny to order the excision of passages from five books republished by Kontre Kulture, a publishing enterprise whose publication director is Alain Soral. David-Olivier Kaminski, an attorney for the league, described Soral as someone known as a "vector of hate" and characterized the re-editions as a "provocation, with the purpose of arousing tensions." The league also asked for 20,000 euros in damages for each of the five books.

In November the court ordered the withdrawal from sale of one of the books, "L'Anthologie des propos contre les juifs, le judaïsme et le sionisme" by Paul-Eric Blanrue, which had originally been published by another publisher in 2007, and the removal of certain passages from the four others, all of which were reprints of books published long ago: "La France juive" by Edouard Drumont, "Le salut par les juifs" by Léon Bloy, "Le juif international" by Henry Ford, et "La controverse de Sion" by Douglas Reed. The court judged that the works constituted "insult toward a group of persons because of their belonging to a specific religion," "negation of crimes against humanity," and "provocation of racial hatred." Kontre Kulture and Soral were also ordered to pay 8,000 euros each to the league as well as a part of its legal expenses. In December 2014 a court overturned the previous ruling on the "Anthologie" and it was again allowed to be sold.

The media reaction focused principally on the book by Léon Bloy. Bloy's great-grandchild, Alexis Galpérine, reminded readers in Le Figaro that Bloy was a "philosemite" and that "Le salut par les juifs" had been recommended as a "book against antisemitism" by Franz Kafka. Pierre Glaudes, a professor at the Sorbonne, wrote in the weekly magazine Le Nouvel Observateur: "This decision of justice arouses astonishment and disquiet by attacking a literary work that is 122 years old and has been republished several times without having attracted lightning strikes by justice. This condemnation sets a dangerous precedent. Why not censor 'The Merchant of Venice' by Shakespeare, 'Gobseck' by Balzac or 'Money' by Zola for their antisemitic statements?"

Stage Show Blocked

The case of the comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala merits notice particularly for the legal manner in which the performance of his show "The Wall" in Nantes was forbidden in January 2014.

Dieudonné, the son of a Cameroonian man and a French woman, performed for several years early in his career with a Jewish partner, and their sketches often made fun of racism. Eventually he came to hold Jews responsible in large part for the slave trade, he expressed resentment at the attention given to the Holocaust in comparison with that given to the slavery, and he came to regard Jews not as fellow victims of prejudice but instead as important members of a power structure in which people of the Third World and of Third World origin are kept down. His new acts were sharply criticized, and he responded with provocations such as including Robert Faurisson, notorious as a denier of the Holocaust and gas chambers, in his acts. Dieudonné was found guilty of racial insult or defamation on numerous occasions, for example, for saying that a television host financed the Israeli Army, "which doesn't hesitate to kill Palestinian children"; for characterizing Holocaust remembrance as "memorial pornography"; for stating that the directors of a pro-Israeli website were trying to paint him as an antisemite and "son of Hitler"; for describing the International League Against Racism and Antisemitism as one of the "mafia-like associations that organize censorship, that deny all concepts of racism except that concerning the Jews. In fact, they are nothing but Israeli agents."

Largely excluded from television and other standard venues, he has nonetheless maintained an enthusiastic and politically and racially mixed following through his stage shows and videos. In January 2014 his stage show "The Wall" was challenged by the government as a threat to public order and to the dignity of the human person. Its performance in Nantes was banned by the prefecture of the Loire-Atlantic region, which judged that it contained antisemitic remarks that would incite racial hatred and constitute an apology for discriminations, persecutions and exterminations perpetrated in the course of the Second World War. The ban was lifted on the day of the show by the region's administrative tribunal, which held that the show "could not be regarded as having as its essential purpose an affront at human dignity," but the tribunal's ruling was overturned and the ban reinstated later the same day by a judge of the Council of State, the highest court in the administrative-law system, after an urgent request by Interior Minister Manuel Valls.

Conclusion

French people in general seem content with the way free speech questions are handled. If in private they will occasionally murmur that "one can't say anything anymore," in public there is very little disagreement over the necessity of punishing infractions involving remarks characterized as racist or antisemitic or "negationist." Prominent cases, such as the many brought against Jean-Marie Le Pen, are approved, explicitly or implicitly, by the vast majority of commentators in the press and on the radio and television. Even publications that push the limits of public tolerance in other ways -- for example, with crude or even violently obscene and sacrilegious writings and cartoons -- do not defend the targets of anti-racism or anti-contestation laws on general free-speech grounds; quite the contrary.

There is no high-profile organization or figure that publicly espouses the famous words that Voltaire apparently never really said, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Over all the attitude is closer to that attributed to the revolutionary Saint-Just, "No liberty for the enemies of liberty." The slogan of the International League Against Racism and Antisemitism, one of the organizations most active in denouncing speech offenders, is "Racism is not an opinion but a criminal offense." Even a group such as Reporters Without Borders, which works to further the freedom of the press throughout the world, generally makes no objection to the laws discussed above, although it did oppose the one criminalizing the denial of legally recognized genocides. In an interview, Antoine Héry, in charge of the group's activities in the European Union and the Balkans, explained to me: "I think that the problem in France is that there really are racist statements -- many. This climate exists; it isn't a phantasm. There is, from this point of view, a necessity to regulate a little the domain of speech, because there are abuses. I don't think that in the United States one finds this sort of mass behavior -- because it is massive, it isn't just one guy in his corner doing his thing."

There have been dissident voices on the subject of the criminalization of so-called negationism and other "memorial laws." One of the most prominent is a group called Liberté pour l'Histoire, which was formed in 2005 in response to what seemed about to become a wave of such laws. In a public appeal signed by nineteen historians in December of that year and later by hundreds more, it stated that "in a free state, it is not the business of the parliament nor of the judicial authority to define historical truth" and called for "the abrogation of these legislative measures unworthy of a democratic regime." But even this unambiguous stand is not so solid as it might appear. In 2010, at the International Congress of Historical Sciences in Amsterdam, the group's president, Pierre Nora, spoke of the Gayssot Law and stated: "It is now twenty years since the law was voted, and even if we continue to regret it intellectually speaking, the association Liberté pour l'Histoire does not campaign for its suppression and does not wish to challenge it for the simple reason that this legal and official challenge would only be seen in the public eye as authorizing and even encouraging the denial of the Jewish genocide." There could hardly be a better illustration of the French ambivalence on the matter than this.

This ambivalence derives from an evident fact: the characteristics of the system that make it vicious from a free-speech perspective -- the vagueness and elasticity of the definitions of the crimes, the politically selective application of the laws, the tendency of the trials to become examinations of the defendants' thoughts and beliefs rather than merely of their public statements -- are virtues for a system of political repression, and in France there is a general consensus that the "extreme right" needs to be kept down and that expressions of "racism" and "antisemitism" deserve to be squelched. While there are pockets of dissidence -- such as the websites Polémia and Boulevard Voltaire, the independent rightist station Radio Courtoisie and the Internet television channel TV Libertés -- the assumption remains widespread that anyone arguing that freedom should extend to such speech must have evil motives.

The legal procedures through which speech is restricted do sometimes come under criticism. For instance, the ban on Dieudonné's show "The Wall" was widely criticized because it imposed a prior restraint, seen as equivalent to censorship in a way that punishing the performer afterward would not be. Jack Lang, who was minister of culture in the Mitterrand administration, said that the Council of State had opened a Pandora's box of potential abuses; he objected as well to basing the decision on a vague principle of "human dignity" and pointed out that the risk to public order was not credible. Michel Tubiana, a former president of the Human Rights League, which also objected to the ban, told me in an interview that Dieudonné should have been allowed to do his show and then he could have been prosecuted in the normal way. On the league's website, one reads: "Clearly it is necessary to let nothing pass, to systematically bring prosecutions against the delinquent, to denounce systematically his crimes."

For the future, there is pressure to increase the surveillance, particularly of the Internet. At its annual dinners, which are grand affairs similar to those of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in the United States, the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France presses the attending government officials hard for ever more stringent restrictions, especially on Internet communications. In March 2016, for example, its president, Roger Cukierman, urged that the state of emergency "should also apply to the Internet," and this year its new president, Francis Kalifat, called for "zero tolerance" for bloggers "of hateful content."

In the meantime, France, like the other countries of the European Union, is a party to the Council Framework Decision "on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law," adopted unanimously by the ministers in the Council of the European Union in November 2008. In a report in January 2014 on the implementation of this decision, the European Commission stated: "Member States must ensure that the following intentional conduct is punishable when directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin:

publicly inciting to violence or hatred, including by public dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material; publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes as defined in Articles 6, 7 and 8 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court; or the crimes defined in Article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal appended to the London Agreement of 8 August 1945, when the conduct is carried out in a manner likely to incite violence or hatred against such a group or one or more of its members."

And France does its part, by continuing to reinforce its laws. On August 5 of this year it made illegal any "nonpublic" insult or defamation (as, for example, made during a meeting in a company's offices) "made toward a person or group of persons because of their origin or belonging or not belonging, real or supposed, to an ethnic group, a nation, a putative race or a particular religion; [or] because of their sex, their sexual orientation or gender identity, or their handicap."

The law provides for fines of 1,500 euros initially and 3,000 euros for recidivists. It also gives a judge the option of augmenting the punishment with a compulsory course in citizenship.

Lawrence G. Proulx is a retired copy editor who worked for more than 30 years at the Washington Times, Washington Post, International Herald Tribune and International New York Times.

Diversity Heretic > , October 4, 2017 at 4:51 am GMT

"[Neo]Liberalism" is a religion. It defines orthodoxy and heresy and punishes the latter. It asserts the right to punish those who traduce its icons and who violate its taboos.

AKAHorace > , October 4, 2017 at 4:56 am GMT

Would it solve or worsen problems if they reintroduced dueling ?

Achmed E. Newman > , Website October 4, 2017 at 7:54 am GMT

From all this long history of curtailment and punishment of free speech of various sorts, it seems like the French never really had their hearts in it, whether they had their constitution of the 5th Republic with its weasel-out words "but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law." or even if they had had the same supposed "law of the land" as the US Constitution with its Amendment I.

Our Constitution was upheld pretty well for about 3/4 of the total time since it was written, but it takes the kind of people who care about basic principles. That would pretty much mean mostly descendants of the Founders with only such influx of newcomers that could be assimilated into the culture that values basic principles over political expediency. It goes without saying that women shouldn't have been allowed to vote here, but I said it just in case. In France, I think there weren't so many people that ever got the real idea of free speech and the quote that Voltaire didn't say.

Worse yet for France is the codifying of certain areas of knowledge, normally subject to debate, as "Government-Approved Non-arguable Truth" , which is what the legal maneuvers you write about amount to. Of course, the elites, along with the cucks of the land arrange these Truths to be based on any opposition to foreign immigrant invasion, defending of one's race, but opposition to the Government will always be number 1, as that locks it all in. It's a nice Catch-22 there – "YOUR government's speech policy clearly specifies what you can and can't talk about. The speech policy happens to be one of the things you can't talk about."

The Ministry of Truth is probably not even necessary anymore, as it seems like the unprincipled French have let the bulk of it be put in place already – maybe the Ministry of Truth is all part of "The Cloud". Instead of the answer to, or way out of, this 1984 society lying "with the proles", I'd say it's more up to the hackers now.

conatus > , October 4, 2017 at 9:30 am GMT

Definitional hypertrophy
"This ambivalence derives from an evident fact: the characteristics of the system that make it vicious from a free-speech perspective -- the vagueness and elasticity of the definitions of the crimes"
In an earlier piece Mr. Proulx wrote about 'defintional hypertrophy' which seems to characterize our Zeitgeist. A great great phrase which sums up the elasticized properties of the big three sins of our times, racism, sexism and homophobia.
Racism used to mean Birmingham Regulations regarding public facilities and separate but equal schools, now due to definitional hypertrophy it means 'noticing any racial characteristics' especially if you are white. Sexism used to mean, say banning women from non nurturing occupations and now it means saying "You look good!" to a woman in a absent minded fit of masculinity. Homophobia used to mean 'Hey keep it in the closet pal i don't want to think about what you do" and now homophobia means you must clap loudly and quickly at all homosexual activities or Homo Tinkerbell will die.
Over time these definitions have expanded as the Majority's freedoms have contracted.

Jason Liu > , October 4, 2017 at 10:37 am GMT

Free speech is an illusion, it seems. Most people want to shut their enemies up, and often succeed in doing so. Some countries are just more upfront about it.

Wizard of Oz > , October 4, 2017 at 11:52 am GMT

Is there not class distinction which helps fo understand what these laws are about. Any intelligènt edicated person ought to be verbally adroit enough to convey his meaning in an indirect way so as to avoid the thrust of the law. Thus, e.g.

I think we should discuss how we can combat the very commonly stated view that X and the alarming number of people who can see nothing wrong with it. It is not a matter so much as truth or falsehood but we need to ensure that children are indoctrinated from an early age so they will never even ask the disturbing queston "is this true?". By the time they have grown up to participate in the political life of the nation the whole question will have been swallowed by a memory hole and become a non issue. Much safer for the tranquillity of society than continued cantankerous debates erupting over the truth or falsity of something permanently consigned to be false.

IndieRafael > , October 4, 2017 at 2:48 pm GMT

Long but worth it. As author Proulx says, you can skip over sections in the middle and jump to his conclusion. This is one of the most thoroughly researched, best organized and most clearly written articles I've ever read on Unz.com. The internet needs more copy editors writing like this.

The article is really helpful in understanding the current situation in France.

The European context is mentioned at the end. It would be interesting to read a comparison of France and other European countries.

anonymous > , Disclaimer October 4, 2017 at 5:47 pm GMT

News censorship rises where news integrity falls. Eastern regimes know well harmful effects of censors and informants.

Mulegino1 > , October 4, 2017 at 6:15 pm GMT

In the land of "Liberte, Fraternite, et Egalite" there is from all appearances very little "liberte" and that little international clique of "freres" enjoys a lot more "egalite" than the rest.

Europeancivilwar.com > , Website October 4, 2017 at 6:29 pm GMT

I think the situation in Spain has shown just how little the EU pretenses of 'democracy' mean. Indeed, we all know the famous quote about what 'democracy' really means.

Regrettably though I think things will need to get much worse before they get better. I think the 'normal' people will need Muslims to make up at least 50% of the overall population before they realize just what a horrific future they are heading to..

[Oct 04, 2017] Islamic threat as subsititute for soviet threat that diassered

Oct 04, 2017 | www.unz.com


renfro > , October 4, 2017 at 4:33 am GMT

One of the first things I came across when trying to pinpoint when the Islamic threat was first being 'ginned up' in the US was this essay written in 1992. It is so accurate it could have been written yesterday. I think anyone could guess at which foreign country had the individuals and journalist and congressional clout in the US to create the idea of a 'Green Peril'.

https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/green-peril-creating-islamic-fundamentalist-threat

The "Green Peril": Creating the Islamic Fundamentalist Threat
By Leon T. Hadar
August 27, 1992

excerpts..

The Making of a "Peril"

The Islamic threat argument is becoming increasingly popular with some segments of the American foreign policy establishment. They are encouraged by foreign governments who, for reasons of self-interest, want to see Washington embroiled in the coming West vs. Islam confrontation. The result is the construction of the new peril, a process that does not reflect any grand conspiracy but that nevertheless has its own logic, rules and timetables.
Indeed, like the Red Menace of the Cold War era, the Green Peril is perceived as a cancer spreading around the globe,undermining the legitimacy of Western values and political systems. The cosmic importance of the confrontation would make it necessary for Washington to adopt a long term diplomatic and military strategy; to forge new and solid alliances; to prepare the American people for a never ending struggle that will test their resolve; and to develop new containment policies, new doctrines, and a new foreign policy elite with its "wise men" and "experts."

The creation of a peril usually starts with mysterious "sources" and unnamed officials who leak information, float trial balloons, and warn about the coming threat. Those sources reflect debates and discussions taking place within government. Their information is then augmented by colorful intelligence reports that finger exotic and conspiratorial terrorists and military advisers. Journalists then search for the named and other villains. The media end up finding corroboration from foreign sources who form an informal coalition with the sources in the U.S. government and help the press uncover further information substantiating the threat coming from the new bad guys.

In addition, think tanks studies and op-ed pieces add momentum to the official spin. Their publication is followed by congressional hearings, policy conferences, and public press briefings. A governmental policy debate ensues, producing studies, working papers, and eventually doctrines and policies that become part of the media's spin. The new villain is now ready to be integrated into the popular culture to help to mobilize public support for a new crusade. In the case of the Green Peril, that process has been under way for several months.

The Israeli government and its supporters in Washington are trying to play the Islamic card. The specter of Central Asian republics and Iran equipped with nuclear weapons helps Israel to reduce any potential international pressure on it to place its own nuclear capabilities and strategy on the negotiating table. More important, perhaps, the Green Peril could revive, in the long run, Israel's role as America's strategic asset, which was eroded as a result of the end of the Cold War
The operational message is that the United States "must refocus its policy on the basic problems facing the Islamic world rather than only the Arab-Israeli conflict."[23] Jerusalem's attempts to turn that conflict into a Jewish-Moslem confrontation and to place America on its side to help contain radical Moslem forces in the region may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The result is likely to be strengthened anti-American feelings in the Middle East and anti-American terrorist acts, which, in turn, will invite a new round of American military intervention."

[Oct 04, 2017] Creating taboos is the slicing salami tactic

How marginalization of opposition works: Once the extreme positions on an issue (left of right) are rendered taboo and excluded, the next position in (which the lobbyists could not easily succeed in banning as "extreme" initially) becomes the new "extreme". As a bonus its advocates can be accused of being closet supporters of the banned position and as such ostracized.
Oct 04, 2017 | www.unz.com

Randal > ,

October 4, 2017 at 4:51 pm GMT

@Clay Bishop

I've been banned from the Antiwar comment section more than once for explicitly mentioning Jewish influence on foreign policy without masking it with terms like "Zionists," "Neocons," "Likudniks," or the "War Party."

As much as the older crowd on our political spectrum hate to admit it, Daily Stormer and Pol have actually opened up a space for a rational discussion of Jewish influence on politics. When you have anonymous accounts literally calling for all Jews to be gassed, a couple pundits talking soberly about Jewish influence seem fairly moderate by comparison.

And the readers of DS and Pol are definitely the younger generation who will make up the majority of the Right in the future. I envision a day in the near future when the mention of Israel elicits boos at the Republican National Convention.

As much as the older crowd on our political spectrum hate to admit it, Daily Stormer and Pol have actually opened up a space for a rational discussion of Jewish influence on politics. When you have anonymous accounts literally calling for all Jews to be gassed, a couple pundits talking soberly about Jewish influence seem fairly moderate by comparison.

This is of course exactly how banning opinions distorts debate and why identity lobbyists love to impose such taboos on discourse.

Once the extreme positions on an issue are rendered taboo and excluded, the next position in (which the lobbyists could not easily succeed in banning as "extreme" initially) becomes the apparent "extreme" and as a bonus its advocates can be accused of being closet supporters of the banned extreme. They then have to spend all their time and energy defending themselves against being harassed and trying to word their arguments carefully so they can't be accused of falling foul of the taboo (or as with some of the accusations against Giraldi's piece here – of not trying hard enough to avoid the supposed appearance of falling foul of it).

That's how proposals to limit mass immigration are labelled "race hatred" and banned in many forums, and how reasonable raising of an important issue such as in Giraldi's piece gets one smeared as an "antisemite" (or potentially prosecuted in the UK) and excluded from mainstream publications.

Rurik > , October 4, 2017 at 5:47 pm GMT

@Randal


As much as the older crowd on our political spectrum hate to admit it, Daily Stormer and Pol have actually opened up a space for a rational discussion of Jewish influence on politics. When you have anonymous accounts literally calling for all Jews to be gassed, a couple pundits talking soberly about Jewish influence seem fairly moderate by comparison.
This is of course exactly how banning opinions distorts debate and why identity lobbyists love to impose such taboos on discourse.

Once the extreme positions on an issue are rendered taboo and excluded, the next position in (which the lobbyists could not easily succeed in banning as "extreme" initially) becomes the apparent "extreme" and as a bonus its advocates can be accused of being closet supporters of the banned extreme. They then have to spend all their time and energy defending themselves against being harassed and trying to word their arguments carefully so they can't be accused of falling foul of the taboo (or as with some of the accusations against Giraldi's piece here - of not trying hard enough to avoid the supposed appearance of falling foul of it).

That's how proposals to limit mass immigration are labelled "race hatred" and banned in many forums, and how reasonable raising of an important issue such as in Giraldi's piece gets one smeared as an "antisemite" (or potentially prosecuted in the UK) and excluded from mainstream publications.

Once the extreme positions on an issue are rendered taboo and excluded, the next position in (which the lobbyists could not easily succeed in banning as "extreme" initially) becomes the apparent "extreme" and as a bonus its advocates can be accused of being closet supporters of the banned extreme.

I'm glad your insightful comment was recognized as such

Reminds me of how Marine Le Pen's father was marginalized as an 'anti-Semite' (for simply telling the obvious truth), and once he was effectively maligned, (they) set their sights on the moderate daughter, as being "far right", which simply means not as far left as (they) are.

today they call the AfD "far right", in order to marginalize their extremely reasonable and moderate positions – as advocating an invasion of Poland

and of course, were Mr. G to sob his contrition and re-write the article, (not likely ; ), they'd simply set their sights on the next target, having moved the goal posts and tilted the playing field always more and more in their favor.

[Oct 01, 2017] Neoliberalism Is a Political Project

Notable quotes:
"... I've always treated neoliberalism as a political project carried out by the corporate capitalist class as they felt intensely threatened both politically and economically towards the end of the 1960s into the 1970s. They desperately wanted to launch a political project that would curb the power of labor. ..."
"... In many respects the project was a counterrevolutionary project. It would nip in the bud what, at that time, were revolutionary movements in much of the developing world ..."
"... So in that situation there was, in effect, a global threat to the power of the corporate capitalist class and therefore the question was, What to do?. The ruling class wasn't omniscient but they recognized that there were a number of fronts on which they had to struggle: the ideological front, the political front, and above all they had to struggle to curb the power of labor by whatever means possible. Out of this there emerged a political project which I would call neoliberalism. ..."
"... The ideological front amounted to following the advice of a guy named Lewis Powell . He wrote a memo saying that things had gone too far, that capital needed a collective project. The memo helped mobilize the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable. ..."
"... Ideas were also important to the ideological front. The judgment at that time was that universities were impossible to organize because the student movement was too strong and the faculty too liberal-minded, so they set up all of these think tanks like the Manhattan Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Ohlin Foundation. These think tanks brought in the ideas of Freidrich Hayek and Milton Friedman and supply-side economics. ..."
"... This process took a long time. I think now we've reached a point where you don't need something like the Heritage Foundation anymore. Universities have pretty much been taken over by the neoliberal projects surrounding them. ..."
"... With respect to labor, the challenge was to make domestic labor competitive with global labor. One way was to open up immigration. In the 1960s, for example, Germans were importing Turkish labor, the French Maghrebian labor, the British colonial labor. But this created a great deal of dissatisfaction and unrest. ..."
"... Instead they chose the other way -- to take capital to where the low-wage labor forces were. But for globalization to work you had to reduce tariffs and empower finance capital, because finance capital is the most mobile form of capital. So finance capital and things like floating currencies became critical to curbing labor. ..."
"... At the same time, ideological projects to privatize and deregulate created unemployment. So, unemployment at home and offshoring taking the jobs abroad, and a third component: technological change , deindustrialization through automation and robotization. That was the strategy to squash labor. ..."
"... It was an ideological assault but also an economic assault. To me this is what neoliberalism was about: it was that political project ..."
"... I think they just intuitively said, We gotta crush labor, how do we do it? And they found that there was a legitimizing theory out there, which would support that. ..."
Oct 01, 2017 | www.jacobinmag.com

I've always treated neoliberalism as a political project carried out by the corporate capitalist class as they felt intensely threatened both politically and economically towards the end of the 1960s into the 1970s. They desperately wanted to launch a political project that would curb the power of labor.

In many respects the project was a counterrevolutionary project. It would nip in the bud what, at that time, were revolutionary movements in much of the developing world -- Mozambique, Angola, China etc. -- but also a rising tide of communist influences in countries like Italy and France and, to a lesser degree, the threat of a revival of that in Spain.

Even in the United States, trade unions had produced a Democratic Congress that was quite radical in its intent. In the early 1970s they, along with other social movements, forced a slew of reforms and reformist initiatives which were anti-corporate: the Environmental Protection Agency , the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, consumer protections, and a whole set of things around empowering labor even more than it had been empowered before.

So in that situation there was, in effect, a global threat to the power of the corporate capitalist class and therefore the question was, What to do?. The ruling class wasn't omniscient but they recognized that there were a number of fronts on which they had to struggle: the ideological front, the political front, and above all they had to struggle to curb the power of labor by whatever means possible. Out of this there emerged a political project which I would call neoliberalism.

BSR Can you talk a bit about the ideological and political fronts and the attacks on labor? DH The ideological front amounted to following the advice of a guy named Lewis Powell . He wrote a memo saying that things had gone too far, that capital needed a collective project. The memo helped mobilize the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable.

Ideas were also important to the ideological front. The judgment at that time was that universities were impossible to organize because the student movement was too strong and the faculty too liberal-minded, so they set up all of these think tanks like the Manhattan Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Ohlin Foundation. These think tanks brought in the ideas of Freidrich Hayek and Milton Friedman and supply-side economics.

The idea was to have these think tanks do serious research and some of them did -- for instance, the National Bureau of Economic Research was a privately funded institution that did extremely good and thorough research. This research would then be published independently and it would influence the press and bit by bit it would surround and infiltrate the universities.

This process took a long time. I think now we've reached a point where you don't need something like the Heritage Foundation anymore. Universities have pretty much been taken over by the neoliberal projects surrounding them.

With respect to labor, the challenge was to make domestic labor competitive with global labor. One way was to open up immigration. In the 1960s, for example, Germans were importing Turkish labor, the French Maghrebian labor, the British colonial labor. But this created a great deal of dissatisfaction and unrest.

Instead they chose the other way -- to take capital to where the low-wage labor forces were. But for globalization to work you had to reduce tariffs and empower finance capital, because finance capital is the most mobile form of capital. So finance capital and things like floating currencies became critical to curbing labor.

At the same time, ideological projects to privatize and deregulate created unemployment. So, unemployment at home and offshoring taking the jobs abroad, and a third component: technological change , deindustrialization through automation and robotization. That was the strategy to squash labor.

It was an ideological assault but also an economic assault. To me this is what neoliberalism was about: it was that political project, and I think the bourgeoisie or the corporate capitalist class put it into motion bit by bit.

I don't think they started out by reading Hayek or anything, I think they just intuitively said, We gotta crush labor, how do we do it? And they found that there was a legitimizing theory out there, which would support that.

[Sep 25, 2017] I am presently reading the book JFK and the Unspeakable by James W.Douglass and it is exactly why Kennedy was assassinated by the very same group that desperately wants to see Trump gone and the rapprochement with Russia squashed

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Although I voted for Trump, only because he was a slightly smaller POS than Hillary, it's hard to have any sympathy for him. ..."
"... The Democrats and the Deep State should have accused Israel of interfering in US elections. That would have been a credible complaint. ..."
"... Felix, Except that Israel and her deep state puppets were interfering on behalf of the democrats. ..."
"... What is happening in the U.S. is the same MO the CIA has developed over the past 64 years to create turmoil within a nation to overthrow a ruler that would not comply with the dictates of Wall Street. ..."
"... I am presently reading the book " JFK and the Unspeakable" by James W.Douglass and it is exactly why Kennedy was assassinated by the very same group that desperately wants to see Trump gone and the rapprochement with Russia squashed. ..."
"... Russia-gate - Just another weapon of mass distraction, brought to you by the liars in charge. ..."
"... David Stockman's excellent analysis makes clear that Trump doesn't know what he's doing and has appointed poor advisors, many of whom have been working against him from the start. Yet, per Stockman, "he doesn't need to be the passive object of a witch hunt." He could have and should have exposed the crimes of his accusers from the beginning, while he still had 100% support from the anti-war Right, which put him in office in the first place. He should have ignored the hysteria emanating from his enemies, and made peace with Vladimir Putin as a first order of business. Millions would have supported him. ..."
"... But, after his provocations in Syria and against Russia, which really resulted because he gave control of military decisions to uber hawk and Russia-phobic Mad Dog Mattis, his support from the anti-war crowd has all but evaporated and is unlikely to return. In other words, although he has been treated extremely unfairly by the corporate media, ultimately he has no one to blame but himself. Trump, with his endless stupid tweeting, has become a sad caricature of himself. ..."
"... When an outsider (like Trump) is elected POTUS and promises to do harm to the Pentagon, against the will of the Deep State -- the battle is on. A coup was planned against him, even before he took the oath of office. And, BTW--against the will of the people ..."
"... The Deep State bureaucracy will never let him have full control. Apparently, Obomber and Killery are running a Shadow White House, with all major decisions coming from the Deep State actors thereof. ..."
"... Killery still has her security clearance, by which she knew where the US Military would strike in Syria before Trump had any idea what was going on ..."
"... The Pentagon has seized power and does not recognize any elected or appointed power of the US government. Trump's 'power' is non-existent. If this 'soft coup' becomes a hard one, I predict all hell breaking loose in America ..."
"... "In a word, the Little Putsch in Kiev is now begetting a Great Big Coup in the Imperial City." Interesting point of view from David Stockman. Whatever happens in Washington, one can be sure there will come another provocation against Russia. ..."
"... Not the first time! "US Power Elite, at war among themselves?" https://wipokuli.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/us-powe... ..."
"... Watching from Australia what passes for domestic politics in the US within the media, reminds me of a primitive tribe reacting to a solar eclipse. They run around in hysterical fear gnashing their teeth thinking the great evil spirit has come to steal their corn, carry off their daughters, and destroy their village. ..."
Jun 26, 2017 | www.informationclearinghouse.info

Jenny G · 3 days ago

Although I voted for Trump, only because he was a slightly smaller POS than Hillary, it's hard to have any sympathy for him.

Every time he walks out on a stage clapping his hands, encouraging applause, like a daytime TV game show host, I want to puke.

I honestly don't think Trump really expected to win the presidency. And when he did, he was clueless. His "Mission Accomplished" party at the White House for a bill which would never pass the senate, was pure Dubya Bush. The orange haired POS is an embarrassment to the country.

Felix · 4 days ago
The Democrats and the Deep State should have accused Israel of interfering in US elections. That would have been a credible complaint.
follyofwar · 3 days ago
Felix, Except that Israel and her deep state puppets were interfering on behalf of the democrats.
olde reb · 3 days ago
What is happening in the U.S. is the same MO the CIA has developed over the past 64 years to create turmoil within a nation to overthrow a ruler that would not comply with the dictates of Wall Street.

Detailed in --. http://farmwars.info/?p=15338 . A FACE FOR THE SHADOW GOVERNMENT

The "ultimate goal" (according to internal memos), is to collect on the fraudulent $20 trillion national debt which will result in Wall Street owning the United States. Hello, Greece.

Guysth · 3 days ago
I am presently reading the book " JFK and the Unspeakable" by James W.Douglass and it is exactly why Kennedy was assassinated by the very same group that desperately wants to see Trump gone and the rapprochement with Russia squashed.

Peace is not in their books,war is. John Kennedy had an epiphany and was wanting to make peace with the USSR at the time, after the Cuban crisis, and this could not be allowed to happen .

Same $hit different pile.

doray · 3 days ago
Russia-gate - Just another weapon of mass distraction, brought to you by the liars in charge.
astraeaisabella · 3 days ago
https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2011/10/25... This may seem relevant, but considering Trump's visit to SAudi Arabia and then immediately "Israel", you might find it interesting.
follyofwar · 3 days ago

David Stockman's excellent analysis makes clear that Trump doesn't know what he's doing and has appointed poor advisors, many of whom have been working against him from the start. Yet, per Stockman, "he doesn't need to be the passive object of a witch hunt." He could have and should have exposed the crimes of his accusers from the beginning, while he still had 100% support from the anti-war Right, which put him in office in the first place. He should have ignored the hysteria emanating from his enemies, and made peace with Vladimir Putin as a first order of business. Millions would have supported him.

But, after his provocations in Syria and against Russia, which really resulted because he gave control of military decisions to uber hawk and Russia-phobic Mad Dog Mattis, his support from the anti-war crowd has all but evaporated and is unlikely to return. In other words, although he has been treated extremely unfairly by the corporate media, ultimately he has no one to blame but himself. Trump, with his endless stupid tweeting, has become a sad caricature of himself.

RedRubies · 3 days ago
Stockman has only been a Congressman. They are allowed more leeway.

When an outsider (like Trump) is elected POTUS and promises to do harm to the Pentagon, against the will of the Deep State -- the battle is on. A coup was planned against him, even before he took the oath of office. And, BTW--against the will of the people, themselves.

The Deep State bureaucracy will never let him have full control. Apparently, Obomber and Killery are running a Shadow White House, with all major decisions coming from the Deep State actors thereof.

Killery still has her security clearance, by which she knew where the US Military would strike in Syria before Trump had any idea what was going on (http://headlinebits.com/2017-06-21/deep-state-hillary-clinton-staffers-still-have-security-clearances-access-to-sensitive-governmen.AlsHBgBSVVwAV1FWVwdSAwBWAg8HXQYE.html) .

You can't write an article about a 'soft coup' and NOT mention her name in connection with it!

The Pentagon has seized power and does not recognize any elected or appointed power of the US government. Trump's 'power' is non-existent. If this 'soft coup' becomes a hard one, I predict all hell breaking loose in America.

Stephen M. St. John · 3 days ago

"In a word, the Little Putsch in Kiev is now begetting a Great Big Coup in the Imperial City." Interesting point of view from David Stockman. Whatever happens in Washington, one can be sure there will come another provocation against Russia.

This will probably be the Joint Investigation Team's final word on the shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014, not long after the little putsch in Kiev. The Joint Investigation Team relies on the Dutch Safety Board's Final Report on Flight MH17. With this report, the Dutch Safety Board has given the world a classic snow job, which I have pointed out in my critique on it. Please read it on my website at www.show-the-house.com/id119.html and share it with your elected representatives. Maybe a collective effort can head this off .

Schlüter 91p · 3 days ago
Not the first time! "US Power Elite, at war among themselves?" https://wipokuli.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/us-powe...
Dick · 3 days ago
Watching from Australia what passes for domestic politics in the US within the media, reminds me of a primitive tribe reacting to a solar eclipse. They run around in hysterical fear gnashing their teeth thinking the great evil spirit has come to steal their corn, carry off their daughters, and destroy their village.

Emotional ignorance and blindness to the rational reality will only lead to more tears.

[Sep 24, 2017] How Sony, Obama, Seth Rogen and the CIA Secretly Planned to Force Regime Change in North Korea by Tim Shorrock

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The U.S., he warned in a recent speech on Capitol Hill that I attended, must deliver Kim a simple message: "We know the only thing you care about is your regime's survival. Either denuclearize or we will take actions politically to destabilize your regime." His talk was a basic primer for this "uprising" from within, which is exactly what the Bush administration sought in Iraq when it invaded in 2003. ..."
"... K-Pop, the South Korean musical genre that's popular around the world, could be another weapon: "It's acidic as far the regime is concerned." And commercials about South Korean life planted in DVDs smuggled into the North "would be terrible for Kim Jong-un." ..."
"... The purpose of the operation, he said, is to convince the people of the DPRK that their "paranoid" leader is not a "god," and to plant the idea that his country is unstable: "If that's in his mind, it will affect his behavior." In short, a psy-op. ..."
"... Why Bennett? His official biography states that he has worked for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Forces in South Korea and Japan, the U.S. Pacific Command as well as the South Korean and Japanese militaries. According an email he wrote to Sony's Lynton in 2014, he got his start in Asia as a Mormon missionary to Japan and began working on Korea in 1989 "at the request of the Pentagon." By 2014, he said, he had made over 100 trips to South Korea to advise the U.S. Army and senior South Korean military personnel "on how to deter North Korea." Even though he has never been to the DPRK, he bases his knowledge of the country on his "extensive interviews with senior North Korean defectors." ..."
"... The film allegedly sparked North Korea to hack Sony and leak thousands of internal Sony emails. North Korea also warned the Obama administration not to allow the film to be released, branding it "an act of terrorism." So, when Bennett invited questions at his congressional briefing, I asked him: what was his involvement in The Interview , and did he think it was effective? ..."
"... As Americans come to grips with Trump's confrontational policies with North Korea, it's easy to forget that U.S. relations with North Korea reached a nadir under Barack Obama. Here's why: Bennett's regime change proposals were, and are, the culmination of policies hatched by Obama's left-liberal administration to weaken Kim's hold on power and hasten what they considered North Korea's inevitable collapse. Obviously they failed, yet elements of the plan still abound. ..."
"... To head off that development, in 1994 President Bill Clinton negotiated an agreement with North Korea's founding leader, Kim Il-sung, that sought to allay his government's fears by ending America's hostile policies. Under the "Agreed Framework," the DPRK shut down its one test reactor -- its only source for plutonium -- in return for U.S. shipments of oil for its power grid and two new light-water reactors to be built by an international consortium. Most importantly, both sides agreed to end mutual hostility by fully normalizing their economic and political relations. ..."
"... The agreement, which froze North Korea's nuclear program for 12 years, held for several years. But in 2002, the Bush administration accused the DPRK -- falsely it turned out -- of building a secret uranium program as a second route to a bomb and tore up the framework. In response, North Korea, which was by now led by Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un's father, restarted its nuclear program, and by 2006 had exploded its first nuclear device. ..."
"... Surprisingly, Bush reopened negotiations only three weeks later, and by 2007, under the rubric of the Six Party Talks, the DPRK agreed again to freeze its program. That accord was still pending when Obama was elected in 2009. He had run for president pledging to talk to Iran and North Korea, but quickly changed course on Korea. ..."
"... Obama and his top adviser on Asia, Jeff Bader, decided in 2009 to side with the new, conservative president of South Korea, Lee Myung Bak, who had campaigned against engagement and demanded stronger pressure tactics against the DPRK. Soon, the idea of direct talks and regular was abandoned. Officially, the doctrine for replacing direct engagement with pressure tactics was known as "strategic patience." Behind it was a mistaken assumption!the same one made by Bennett today!that North Korea was headed for collapse, making even the chance of an agreement a futile exercise. ..."
"... It's difficult to overstate how reactionary Obama's policies became. In contrast to Bush, and even Trump, Obama flatly rejected the idea of negotiating with the North without a prior commitment to denuclearization. He also expressed no interest in the DPRK's offer to sign a peace agreement. More disturbingly, he was the first president in history to refer to the Korean War, which has been universally recognized as a bloody stalemate, as a "victory." In doing so, Obama revived a right-wing trope that was first used in the 1950s and resurrected during the Bush years by David Frum and other neocons. So from the onset, Obama caused America's policy toward Korea to take a sharp right turn. ..."
"... But the U.S. government had no doubts at all. In January 2015, Obama called the DPRK's alleged hack an "act of war" and used it as an excuse to launch one of the most aggressive American actions on behalf of a private corporation in U.S. history. His executive order imposed sanctions against three North Korean agencies and nearly a dozen "critical North Korean operatives" in retaliation for the hack. The Treasury Department said the sanctions were in direct response to North Korea's "numerous provocations, particularly the recent cyber-attack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment." The action marked a major escalation, returning "the U.S. to a posture of open hostility with its oldest remaining Cold War adversary," the Wall Street Journal noted . ..."
"... Shortly after these actions were taken, the New York Times published a revelation that raised serious questions about the hack, reporting that the NSA had broken into the DPRK's computer systems as early as 2010 and "penetrated directly into the North with the help of South Korea and other American allies." If that was true, the NSA might have watched the alleged hackers and allowed them to do their work. Here's what the Times concluded: ..."
"... Today, Kim Jong-un remains firmly in control of North Korea, and the Trump administration -- despite Trump's tweets on Sunday equating engagement with "appeasement " -- appears to be slowly moving toward negotiations of some kind with his government. Bruce Bennett continues to fantasize about bringing the leader down. Kim, he argued in a recent post , craves his weapons not for self-defense but because "nukes are one way to show his subjects he's a god." Kim is "a weak leader consumed by paranoia," he wrote in a separate piece. ..."
"... And on August 29, in a departing interview with Fox News, ousted White House adviser Sebastian Gorka let it slip that the cyber attacks on North Korea probably continue. "On the more covert side of things, you have seen a lot of missile tests fail," he said . "Most tests actually fail. Sometimes there may be reasons beyond just incompetence by North Korea." ..."
"... And there was an intriguing exchange recently between one of Obama's top national security officials and South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in . On August 4, Moon spoke out against Korean right-wingers who send anti-DPRK propaganda over the border in large balloons!one of the tactics frequently suggested by Bennett and carried out by neocons Kirchick and Halvorssen. These actions, he warned , unnecessarily aggravate the North, and particularly during times of severe tension, "could prompt accidental clashes." ..."
"... That sparked an angry tweet from Samantha Power, the Obama administration's former U.N. ambassador and perhaps the most famous proponent of "humanitarian intervention" against enemy states like North Korea. "So mistaken," Power tweeted in response to Moon. "Information is what Kim Jong-un fears most. ..."
Sep 05, 2017 | www.alternet.org

Grayzone Project 294 COMMENTS

Over the past month, President Trump's incendiary threats to rain " fire and fury " on North Korea in response to its ballistic missile program set off a chain of military escalations that climaxed this week with Pyongyang's sixth test of a nuclear device , a hydrogen bomb three to five times more powerful than the American bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

As the crisis unfolded, the Rand Corporation, a military-intelligence think tank founded during the Cold War, relentlessly promoted the views of Bruce W. Bennett, a defense researcher it calls "one of the leading experts on the world's most reclusive country." Two or three times a day, Rand's media shop tweets out links to Bennett's writings on Kim Jong-un, the 33-year-old who rules the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea (DPRK), its formal and preferred name.

While Trump has vowed to use sanctions, war threats and diplomacy to stop Kim from developing a ballistic missile that could fire nuclear weapons at the United States!exactly what Kim claimed to do on Sunday!Bennett believes that the only target worth considering is North Korea's " Supreme Leader " himself.

Bennett's basic theme is that North Korea is teetering on collapse and internal unrest because the military and technocratic elite who run the country have given up on Kim and his dynastic family. It's a theory that's been around for decades , but has picked up steam in reaction to Kim's recent purges, including possibly his own brother and a string of high-level defections that includes Thae Yong-ho , the erudite former North Korea ambassador to London.

In glossy books and pamphlets ("Preparing North Korean Elites for Unification") and in appearances from CNN to Fox to Teen Vogue , Bennett lays out his plan for overthrowing the North Korean government by saturating the country with leaflets and propaganda and providing assurances to potential plotters in the North that they would have a place within a new, unified Korea!but only under South Korean and U.S. control.

The U.S., he warned in a recent speech on Capitol Hill that I attended, must deliver Kim a simple message: "We know the only thing you care about is your regime's survival. Either denuclearize or we will take actions politically to destabilize your regime." His talk was a basic primer for this "uprising" from within, which is exactly what the Bush administration sought in Iraq when it invaded in 2003.

The plan, Bennett said, might begin with the U.S. Air Force dropping leaflets on North Korean missile bases that invite North Korean soldiers to defect. "If there were one or two, that would be a political loss of face." K-Pop, the South Korean musical genre that's popular around the world, could be another weapon: "It's acidic as far the regime is concerned." And commercials about South Korean life planted in DVDs smuggled into the North "would be terrible for Kim Jong-un."

The purpose of the operation, he said, is to convince the people of the DPRK that their "paranoid" leader is not a "god," and to plant the idea that his country is unstable: "If that's in his mind, it will affect his behavior." In short, a psy-op.

As I listened to his spiel, I was reminded of Bennett's advisory role in the 2014 Seth Rogen comedy The Interview , about two Hollywood stoners hired by the CIA to kill Kim. It depicted, in graphic detail, Kim's head being blown apart by a guided missile fired by fed-up North Korean "elites" who had come over to the U.S. side after their conversations with the fake American journalists, played by Rogen and his sidekick James Franco.

The film was produced by Japan's Sony Pictures, but finalized only after receiving critical advice and assistance from the Obama State Department, the Rand Corporation, and according to a 2014 interview Rogen gave to the New York Times, the CIA. ("We made relationships with certain people who work in the government as consultants, who I'm convinced are in the CIA.") But it was all under the tutelage of Bruce Bennett, who was brought into the project by Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, a prominent member of Rand's board of directors and a close confidante of President Obama.

Why Bennett? His official biography states that he has worked for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Forces in South Korea and Japan, the U.S. Pacific Command as well as the South Korean and Japanese militaries. According an email he wrote to Sony's Lynton in 2014, he got his start in Asia as a Mormon missionary to Japan and began working on Korea in 1989 "at the request of the Pentagon." By 2014, he said, he had made over 100 trips to South Korea to advise the U.S. Army and senior South Korean military personnel "on how to deter North Korea." Even though he has never been to the DPRK, he bases his knowledge of the country on his "extensive interviews with senior North Korean defectors."

The movie's plot closely follows Bennett's vision for regime change from within, and is illustrated in two key scenes.

"We're aware of a small faction in the existing leadership that already wants him gone," the CIA agent overseeing the assassination plot tells her American recruits early on. "They want change and they're too scared to act alone. And they need you two to go in there and remove Kim and embolden them to revolt." Later, "Sook," the sexy assistant to Kim who joins the regime change plot, pleads with Rogen: "How do you prove to the 24 million people of North Korea that their god is a murderer and a liar? The people need to be shown that he's not a god."

The film allegedly sparked North Korea to hack Sony and leak thousands of internal Sony emails. North Korea also warned the Obama administration not to allow the film to be released, branding it "an act of terrorism." So, when Bennett invited questions at his congressional briefing, I asked him: what was his involvement in The Interview , and did he think it was effective?

At first, Bennett was elusive, saying, "I did not work on the movie." When I reminded him that he had been listed as an adviser, he changed course. "I heard about it for the first time when I was sent a copy of the DVD by the president of Sony Pictures, who was asking, do we need to be worried about this?" he explained, inspiring a ripple of laughter throughout the room. Bennett continued: "So I had a tail-end role in trying to help them appreciate what they might be worried about."

But there's a lot more to the story. Now that Kim is dominating the news once again, it's time to revisit this film and how it became a weapon in the long-running American war against North Korea.

Obama's hard line on DPRK

As Americans come to grips with Trump's confrontational policies with North Korea, it's easy to forget that U.S. relations with North Korea reached a nadir under Barack Obama. Here's why: Bennett's regime change proposals were, and are, the culmination of policies hatched by Obama's left-liberal administration to weaken Kim's hold on power and hasten what they considered North Korea's inevitable collapse. Obviously they failed, yet elements of the plan still abound.

Let's start with some basic background. The hostile U.S. relationship with the DPRK dates back to the Korean War, when U.S. bombers turned the country into cinders in a destructive campaign of carpet-bombing that killed millions of people. In 1953, an armistice ended the fighting, leaving the country divided and in a perpetual state of war. A peace treaty was never signed. Sometime in the late 1980s, with the border still tense and the U.S. showing no signs of withdrawing its military forces from the South, the DPRK decided to embark on a nuclear program to defend itself from wars of regime change and guarantee its sovereignty.

To head off that development, in 1994 President Bill Clinton negotiated an agreement with North Korea's founding leader, Kim Il-sung, that sought to allay his government's fears by ending America's hostile policies. Under the "Agreed Framework," the DPRK shut down its one test reactor -- its only source for plutonium -- in return for U.S. shipments of oil for its power grid and two new light-water reactors to be built by an international consortium. Most importantly, both sides agreed to end mutual hostility by fully normalizing their economic and political relations.

The agreement, which froze North Korea's nuclear program for 12 years, held for several years. But in 2002, the Bush administration accused the DPRK -- falsely it turned out -- of building a secret uranium program as a second route to a bomb and tore up the framework. In response, North Korea, which was by now led by Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un's father, restarted its nuclear program, and by 2006 had exploded its first nuclear device.

Surprisingly, Bush reopened negotiations only three weeks later, and by 2007, under the rubric of the Six Party Talks, the DPRK agreed again to freeze its program. That accord was still pending when Obama was elected in 2009. He had run for president pledging to talk to Iran and North Korea, but quickly changed course on Korea.

According to Leon Sigal, a former State Department official who has met with North Korea many times in unofficial talks, Obama and his top adviser on Asia, Jeff Bader, decided in 2009 to side with the new, conservative president of South Korea, Lee Myung Bak, who had campaigned against engagement and demanded stronger pressure tactics against the DPRK. Soon, the idea of direct talks and regular was abandoned. Officially, the doctrine for replacing direct engagement with pressure tactics was known as "strategic patience." Behind it was a mistaken assumption!the same one made by Bennett today!that North Korea was headed for collapse, making even the chance of an agreement a futile exercise.

It's difficult to overstate how reactionary Obama's policies became. In contrast to Bush, and even Trump, Obama flatly rejected the idea of negotiating with the North without a prior commitment to denuclearization. He also expressed no interest in the DPRK's offer to sign a peace agreement. More disturbingly, he was the first president in history to refer to the Korean War, which has been universally recognized as a bloody stalemate, as a "victory." In doing so, Obama revived a right-wing trope that was first used in the 1950s and resurrected during the Bush years by David Frum and other neocons. So from the onset, Obama caused America's policy toward Korea to take a sharp right turn.

The tensions were exacerbated by the covert cyber war Obama launched against North Korea to damage and slow its missile program. During the Obama years, North Korea tested three more nuclear bombs, and despite the cyber war, rapidly expanded its missile abilities. As the situation deteriorated, Obama embarked on a series of military exercises with South Korea that increased in size and tempo over the course of his administration. They included unprecedented overflights by B-52 and stealth B1-B bombers as well as training in " decapitation strikes " designed to take out Kim and his leadership. All of this led straight to the crisis Trump inherited and has only made worse.

But while Trump critics rightly chafe over his reckless allusions to a nuclear attack on Korea, it's often forgotten that Obama himself made similar statements, couched in his trademark cool. "We could, obviously, destroy North Korea with our arsenals," Obama told CBS News in April 2016. A few months later, Daniel Russel, the president's senior diplomat on Asia who had earlier viewed The Interview at Sony's request, actually threatened North Korea's destruction. If Kim gets "an enhanced capacity to conduct a nuclear attack," Russel told defense reporters, he would "immediately die."

At the time, these threats hardly caused a ripple in the media, and sparked few complaints from the liberals who now criticize Trump for pushing the U.S. to war or the progressive reporters who criticized Bush for his invasion of Iraq.

Seth Rogen 'melted head' assassination scene

Although the idea for The Interview had been around for a while, the real inspiration, director Seth Rogen told the Los Angeles Times, was some "idle kidding around" he did with his friends after the assassination of Osama bin Laden in 2011. He and Sony were also encouraged by the wild success of the 2004 hit movie Team America , which ridiculed Kim Jong-il's big glasses and bouffant hair-do. But what sparked Sony's decision to go ahead with its $35 million investment was the crisis that shook the Korean Peninsula when the DPRK tested its third nuclear device in February 2013.

The nuclear test vaulted Kim Jong-un into the headlines for the first time, giving Sony the moment it had been seeking. In a "strategic marketing and research" paper later leaked by hackers, the studio told promoters to push the theme of "the dictator's bizarre behavior!he's a young, inexperienced guy with self-esteem and 'daddy' issues." The film used every racist image and trope that Rogen could dream up, from the sing-songy caricatures of Asian speech that were a film staple in the 1940s and '50s, to the concept that Koreans are either robotic slaves (like Kim's security guards) or sex-starved submissives who crave American men (like Sook, the "elite" aide to Kim who falls for the Rogen character).

In the end of the film, the Hollywood rebels triumph after badgering Kim with tough questions about his ability to feed his own people, an allusion to the terrible famine that occurred in the late-1990s. Kim goes crazy, forcing "a man once revered among mortals to cry and shit in his pants," the Rogen character explains. After the stoner character screams, "he's no god, he's a butthole," Kim is struck on his helicopter by the fatal missile shot by Sook's rebels, and his head explodes in a fireball. The rebels' job now "is to make sure power is transferred to the right hands," the Americans explain.

It was that ending that caused most of the controversy, both at the studio and when the film was later pre-screened to select officials of the Obama administration. When the first takes were shown in June 2014, some of Sony's Japanese executives were disturbed by both the violence and the racism. By this time, North Korea (which relentlessly monitors U.S. media) had got wind of the film and its theme of assassinating its head of state. So the studio asked Rogen to tone it down by removing one scene in which moviegoers watched Kim's face slowly melt and slide off his head. This sent Rogen on a tirade.

"We feel the story of censorship and trying to appease North Korea WILL in fact hurt the film critically, and thus financially," he wrote to Amy Pascal , Sony Pictures' top executive at the time. "The head melting shot described vividly in all these articles is universally received as awesome by the articles writing about them, and when these critics see a shot that is decidedly LESS awesome, regardless of what story we put out there, the truth will be apparent: it's a compromised product." (The head-melting scene was removed, but Rogen's Hollywood version of selective morality was revealing nonetheless).

By this point, North Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs was denouncing the film as tantamount to "an act of war," and threatening "a decisive and merciless countermeasure" if the Obama administration allowed it to be shown. That was apparently the result Rogen was looking for.

"There was a lot of high-fiving," he told the Los Angeles Times. Even if it caused a war?

"Hopefully," Rogen said, "people will say, 'You know what? It was worth it. It was a good movie!'"

It was then that Sony turned to the government for help, through Rand and its Korea expert, Bruce Bennett.

With top Obama contacts, Sony and Rand collaborate on coup narrative

The Rand Corporation first became famous in 1971, when Daniel Ellsberg, a Rand analyst, leaked the Pentagon Papers that exposed the secret history of the Vietnam War. The incredible tale of official lies that unfolded in pages of the New York Times and other papers helped end the war four years later and triggered the beginning of the end of Richard Nixon. After shaking off that incident, Rand emerged as one of the premiere research centers for the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence.

As a result of 9/11 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Rand returned full force to refining the practice of counterinsurgency , or COIN, the "soft power" side of empire-building that got its start in Vietnam and aims at winning "hearts and minds" of countries that the United States invades or subverts. Bennett's policy proposals to divide members of the North Korean "elite" from their government with offers of political support and financial assistance come right out of the COIN playbook .

The link between Rand and Sony was made shortly after the first public viewing of the film by Rand CEO Michael Rich, a lifelong employee of the think tank. Under his leadership, Rand developed close ties with U.S. intelligence. In November 2014, for example, Rich presided over a "rare dialogue" with the National Security Agency that took place at Sony's headquarters in Century City and included then NSA director Michael Rogers as well as Michael Leiter, the former director of the CIA's National Counterterrorism Center.

In June 2014, after the first clips of the movie where shown, Rich emailed Bennett, informing him he had recommended that Rand "trustee Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment, get in touch with you for some quick assistance." Lynton, too, had high-level connections. As the hacked Sony emails collected by Wikileaks would later reveal , he had attended dinners at Martha's Vineyard with President Obama, and as a Rand board member, had contacts throughout government. From June on, Bennett, through Lynton, became a critical adviser to the film and acted as a liaison between the studio and the Obama administration.

The makers of The Interview were especially interested in advice on crafting the ending of the film. The scene of Kim's head exploding pleased Bennett, as he wrote in one of his emails. "I have been clear that the assassination of Kim Jong-Un is the most likely path to a collapse of the North Korean government," he wrote .

Bennett continued: 'Thus while toning down the ending may reduce the North Korean response, I believe that a story that talks about the removal of the Kim family regime and the creation of a new government by the North Korean people (well, at least the elites) will start some real thinking in South Korea and, I believe, in the North once the DVD leaks into the North (which it almost certainly will). So from a personal perspective, I would personally prefer to leave the ending alone."

Bennett firmly believed the film could spark the U.S.-led coup he had dreamed about for so long. "There are many ways that United States and even Sony Pictures could affect North Korean internal politics," he wrote on the Rand website. "Slipping DVDs of at least parts of The Interview into the North, including a narration describing what their 'god' Kim is really like is one way." (In fact, a version of this stunt was attempted right after the film came out by two of the more fanatical regime-changers in Washington, the neocon writer Jamie Kirchik and right-wing human rights hustler Thor Halvorssen .)

To make sure the film was on the right track, Sony arranged to show the ending to officials at the State Department. Lynton emailed Daniel Russel, who was the assistant Secretary of State for East Asia, that the studio was "concerned for the safety of Americans and American and North Korean relations." He and other U.S. officials gave their blessing to the film's violent ending. After word of Russel's involvement leaked out, the State Department denied any role, only to be contradicted by Russel himself. In a 2016 speech in Los Angeles, he said , "I'm the U.S. government official who told Sony there was no problem 'greenlighting' the movie The Interview ."

Despite the official go-ahead, Sony agreed at first to only release The Interview on DVD. Then, when Sony temporarily pulled the film in December 2014, Obama became its champion, declaring that "we cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States." That led to the remarkable sight of Hollywood actors and directors from the liberal left, led by the likes of George Clooney and Michael Moore, defending the film as an act of free speech and urging Americans to defy Kim's "censorship" and go see it in a theater.

By this time, Sony had been hacked by a group that called itself the " Guardians of Peace ." The FBI later claimed this group was secretly working for North Korea. The Obama administration agreed, and said its top intelligence officials had concluded that North Korea was "centrally involved." This finding was questioned by many cyber-security experts (especially Gregory Elich's critique in Counterpunch and Kim Zetter's analysis in Wired). They concluded that the FBI's "evidence" found in servers in Thailand, Singapore and elsewhere was thin and speculative, and found signs that the real hackers (who had an uncanny insider knowledge of Hollywood) could still be at large and might have been former Sony employees.

But the U.S. government had no doubts at all. In January 2015, Obama called the DPRK's alleged hack an "act of war" and used it as an excuse to launch one of the most aggressive American actions on behalf of a private corporation in U.S. history. His executive order imposed sanctions against three North Korean agencies and nearly a dozen "critical North Korean operatives" in retaliation for the hack. The Treasury Department said the sanctions were in direct response to North Korea's "numerous provocations, particularly the recent cyber-attack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment." The action marked a major escalation, returning "the U.S. to a posture of open hostility with its oldest remaining Cold War adversary," the Wall Street Journal noted .

Shortly after these actions were taken, the New York Times published a revelation that raised serious questions about the hack, reporting that the NSA had broken into the DPRK's computer systems as early as 2010 and "penetrated directly into the North with the help of South Korea and other American allies." If that was true, the NSA might have watched the alleged hackers and allowed them to do their work. Here's what the Times concluded:

"The extensive American penetration of the North Korean system raises questions about why the United States was not able to alert Sony as the attacks took shape last fall, even though the North had warned, as early as June, that the release of the movie would be 'an act of war.'"

By this time, however, the film had done its damage by convincing Kim's government that the Obama administration did indeed want its destruction. More missile and nuclear tests followed, and by the end of the Obama administration relations were far worse than they were when Bush left office in 2009. In other words, the film had the opposite of its intended effect, prompting a clampdown by Kim and suppressing whatever internal dissent existed.

Today, Kim Jong-un remains firmly in control of North Korea, and the Trump administration -- despite Trump's tweets on Sunday equating engagement with "appeasement " -- appears to be slowly moving toward negotiations of some kind with his government. Bruce Bennett continues to fantasize about bringing the leader down. Kim, he argued in a recent post , craves his weapons not for self-defense but because "nukes are one way to show his subjects he's a god." Kim is "a weak leader consumed by paranoia," he wrote in a separate piece.

At the same time, there is abundant evidence that the combination regime-change/cyber war project adopted by the Obama administration is still in force. A few weeks ago, CIA Director Mike Pompeo told a crowd at the Aspen Forum that he's been ordered to find ways to "separate" Kim from his "missiles and nuclear weapons" -- a "strong hint," the New York Times reported , "that the United States was considering seeking a regime change in North Korea." And on August 29, in a departing interview with Fox News, ousted White House adviser Sebastian Gorka let it slip that the cyber attacks on North Korea probably continue. "On the more covert side of things, you have seen a lot of missile tests fail," he said . "Most tests actually fail. Sometimes there may be reasons beyond just incompetence by North Korea."

The Democrats haven't let up, either. Last month, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal told NBC News that the Obama administration should have responded more aggressively to North Korea's alleged hack of Sony in 2014. And there was an intriguing exchange recently between one of Obama's top national security officials and South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in . On August 4, Moon spoke out against Korean right-wingers who send anti-DPRK propaganda over the border in large balloons!one of the tactics frequently suggested by Bennett and carried out by neocons Kirchick and Halvorssen. These actions, he warned , unnecessarily aggravate the North, and particularly during times of severe tension, "could prompt accidental clashes."

That sparked an angry tweet from Samantha Power, the Obama administration's former U.N. ambassador and perhaps the most famous proponent of "humanitarian intervention" against enemy states like North Korea. "So mistaken," Power tweeted in response to Moon. "Information is what Kim Jong-un fears most."

[Sep 23, 2017] In simple terms, MSM owners decide that a particular topic is a taboo subject and filter everything related to it out

Sep 23, 2017 | www.unz.com
Miro23 > > , September 5, 2016 at 10:15 pm GMT

@Mr. Anon

"Only a child – or its intellectual equivalent, i.e., a low information infotainment consumer – could believe in the official version of 9/11."

That is clearly false, as plenty of people who are smart - smarter than you actually - do in fact believe just that.

Or maybe a lot of smart people pretend to believe the official 9/11 story because that's where their interest lies. MSM journalists know for sure that articles that deviate from the official line on 9/11 are career ending moves .

In simple terms, MSM owners have decided that 9/11 is a taboo subject (same as USS Liberty) and they decide what gets published.

[Sep 23, 2017] MSM journalists know for sure that articles that deviate from the official line are career ending moves .

Notable quotes:
"... In late July 2010, longtime Canadian journalist Eric Margolis was told his column would be dropped, and just a few weeks later he published a double-length piece expressing strong doubts about 9/11, the first time he'd articulated that position: ..."
"... In 2007, the parent company of The Chicago Tribune announced it had accepted a leveraged-buyout takeover bid by investor Sam Zell, who planned a massive wave cost-cutting layoffs, which eventually wrecked the company. In late 2007, the Chicago Tribune suddenly ran a very long piece regarding the Liberty Attack, about the only time I've ever seen it discussed in the MSM. ..."
www.unz.com

Ron Unz > , September 6, 2016 at 8:33 pm GMT

@Miro23

Or maybe a lot of smart people pretend to believe the official 9/11 story because that's where their interest lies. MSM journalists know for sure that articles that deviate from the official line on 9/11 are career ending moves .

In simple terms, MSM owners have decided that 9/11 is a taboo subject (same as USS Liberty) and they decide what gets published.

Well, I haven't read through all of this enormously long discussion-thread, but I happened to notice this particular comment. Not having been an MSM journalist myself, I can't say whether or not it's true, but a couple of interesting, possibly coincidental, examples come to mind

In late July 2010, longtime Canadian journalist Eric Margolis was told his column would be dropped, and just a few weeks later he published a double-length piece expressing strong doubts about 9/11, the first time he'd articulated that position:

http://www.unz.com/article/911-the-mother-of-all-coincidences/

In 2007, the parent company of The Chicago Tribune announced it had accepted a leveraged-buyout takeover bid by investor Sam Zell, who planned a massive wave cost-cutting layoffs, which eventually wrecked the company. In late 2007, the Chicago Tribune suddenly ran a very long piece regarding the Liberty Attack, about the only time I've ever seen it discussed in the MSM.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/chi-liberty_tuesoct02-story.html

[Sep 23, 2017] Marginalization of other opionins is important, so that those few who become aware of a conspiracy do not have enough social capital to muster any significant action against it

Notable quotes:
"... The history of the 20th and 21st centuries is largely what it is because of political conspiracies, wherein the state does one thing or another using covert methods and then sells the opposite story to the gullible public. It is basically a form of military deception by other means. ..."
"... There is no doubt that the public (the real enemy of the state) sure are gullible. ..."
"... a conspiracy, as Mr Unz indicates, is just a perjorative term used by the state to divert attention from what are otherwise normal covert operations. The real issue is that these events have had massive, gigantic global consequences but operate completely below the radar of the intellectual classes. ..."
"... This is an old clip showing admittance of the CIA that they use the mainstream media to manipulate the thoughts and ideas of American citizens in the USA. This has not changed obviously and is good to know happened in the past due to our reality today. http://youtu.be/5ED63A_hcd0 ..."
"... 9/23/1975 Tom Charles Huston Church Committee Testimony in full: https://www.c-span.org/video/?408953-1/tom-charles-huston-testimony-church-committee ..."
"... Secrecy is important to the extent that people would be in a position to thwart the conspiracy should they come to know about it. To minimize the need for secrecy, the conspirators might try to foster a general, childlike ignorance about public affairs, so that the public would not recognize a conspiracy even if it were being discussed openly. ..."
"... In this regard, the capture of major media (pace Mr. Unz) would be key to achieving this aim. Marginalization is another strategy, so that those few who become aware of a conspiracy do not have enough social capital to muster any significant action against it. ..."
"... "The creation of a peril usually starts with mysterious "sources" and unnamed officials who leak information, float trial balloons, and warn about the coming threat. Those sources reflect debates and discussions taking place within government. Their information is then augmented by colorful intelligence reports that finger exotic and conspiratorial terrorists and military advisers. Journalists then search for the named and other villains. The media end up finding corroboration from foreign sources who form an informal coalition with the sources in the U.S. government and help the press uncover further information substantiating the threat coming from the new bad guys. ..."
"... following the collapse of Soviets, they have been looking for an enemy that they were finding raising its heads in Algeria, Iran, Sudan, and even in Malayasia back in 1992. ..."
"... Conspiracy theory -- is absolutely commonplace but rendered a bogus term . It is common and practiced by the government all the time. It is used by people who have agenda and find resistance to agenda . The moment they use false narrative, weird scenario, create unknown fear and offer solution abusing the authorities, abusing the institutional but previous records and inserting propaganda preaching journalist ( CIA had more than 400 in 1975 per Bernstein) , they are engaging in conspiracy. ..."
Sep 23, 2017 | www.unz.com

Kirt > , September 5, 2016 at 4:26 am GMT

Conspiracy is simply a plan or agreement by more than one person to do something evil and then the pursuit of that plan. Secrecy may be needed for the success of a conspiracy, but it is not essential to the definition. Were it essential to the definition, you could never prove the existence of a conspiracy. Either secrecy would be maintained and there would be little or no evidence or secrecy would not be maintained and the plan would become known and by definition not be a conspiracy.

Langley > , September 23, 2017 at 2:16 am GMT

The phrase "conspiracy theory" seems to have existed before 1960.

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=conspiracy+theories&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Cconspiracy%20theories%3B%2Cc0

However, the CIA may have stumbled across it and used it to their advantage.

Anon > , Disclaimer September 22, 2017 at 4:33 pm GMT

The history of the 20th and 21st centuries is largely what it is because of political conspiracies, wherein the state does one thing or another using covert methods and then sells the opposite story to the gullible public. It is basically a form of military deception by other means.

There is no doubt that the public (the real enemy of the state) sure are gullible. I think Mr Unz is trying to work out in his own mind why it is that the sell job always works and is so successful.

Consider the following false flag events:

These events are all clearly 'conspiracies', but a conspiracy, as Mr Unz indicates, is just a perjorative term used by the state to divert attention from what are otherwise normal covert operations. The real issue is that these events have had massive, gigantic global consequences but operate completely below the radar of the intellectual classes.

Agent76 > , December 26, 2016 at 3:46 pm GMT

(1975) CIA Admits Using News To Manipulate the USA

This is an old clip showing admittance of the CIA that they use the mainstream media to manipulate the thoughts and ideas of American citizens in the USA. This has not changed obviously and is good to know happened in the past due to our reality today. http://youtu.be/5ED63A_hcd0

9/23/1975 Tom Charles Huston Church Committee Testimony in full: https://www.c-span.org/video/?408953-1/tom-charles-huston-testimony-church-committee

Greg > , December 25, 2016 at 6:34 pm GMT

@Kirt

... ... ...

Secrecy is important to the extent that people would be in a position to thwart the conspiracy should they come to know about it. To minimize the need for secrecy, the conspirators might try to foster a general, childlike ignorance about public affairs, so that the public would not recognize a conspiracy even if it were being discussed openly.

In this regard, the capture of major media (pace Mr. Unz) would be key to achieving this aim. Marginalization is another strategy, so that those few who become aware of a conspiracy do not have enough social capital to muster any significant action against it. Believing that a conspiracy needs secrecy is the perhaps optimistic belief that neither dumbing down the general public nor marginalizing the watchdogs is sufficient: there's still a significant chance that public exposure could derail the conspirators.

KA > , September 12, 2016 at 2:58 pm GMT

@Boris

after my asking you what the strongest evidence available for the official story
As I've already shown, you asked me "what records?" The ticket is among the records that support the official story. It is sad that you keep lying about this. We both agree--and have from the beginning--that the ticket is necessary, but not sufficient. You keep pretending otherwise for some reason. Your behavior is downright weird.

"The creation of a peril usually starts with mysterious "sources" and unnamed officials who leak information, float trial balloons, and warn about the coming threat. Those sources reflect debates and discussions taking place within government. Their information is then augmented by colorful intelligence reports that finger exotic and conspiratorial terrorists and military advisers. Journalists then search for the named and other villains. The media end up finding corroboration from foreign sources who form an informal coalition with the sources in the U.S. government and help the press uncover further information substantiating the threat coming from the new bad guys.

A series of leaks, signals, and trial balloons is already beginning to shape U.S. agenda and policy. Congress is about to conduct several hearings on the global threat of Islamic fundamentalism.(14)

The Bush administration has been trying to devise policies and establish new alliances to counter Iranian influence: building up Islamic but secular and pro-Western Turkey as a countervailing force in Central Asia, expanding U.S. commitments to Saudi Arabia, warning Sudan that it faces grave consequences as a result of its policies, and even shoring up a socialist military dictatorship in Algeria.

http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-177

Printing a ticket and getting a Passport ,if all that you have, then you are in the right league . Join those in NYT, WaPo, Hoover Institue and speak to George Will, Jim Hoagland, because following the collapse of Soviets, they have been looking for an enemy that they were finding raising its heads in Algeria, Iran, Sudan, and even in Malayasia back in 1992.

Conspiracy theory -- is absolutely commonplace but rendered a bogus term . It is common and practiced by the government all the time. It is used by people who have agenda and find resistance to agenda . The moment they use false narrative, weird scenario, create unknown fear and offer solution abusing the authorities, abusing the institutional but previous records and inserting propaganda preaching journalist ( CIA had more than 400 in 1975 per Bernstein) , they are engaging in conspiracy. It follows a script. So it has a theory to follow . It is a conspiracy theory.

KA > , September 12, 2016 at 2:50 am GMT

The biggest hoax ever perpetrated is the gradual evolution of the alleged threat from Islam . Its a multilayered multi focal interconnected open production of a vast conspiracy – achieved without any shred of evidence or even plausible reason for the existence of any such threat .

This is a quote from an article published in 1992 and quotes 90 sources .

" In addition, think tanks studies and op-ed pieces add momentum to the official spin. Their publication is followed by congressional hearings, policy conferences, and public press briefings. A governmental policy debate ensues, producing studies, working papers, and eventually doctrines and policies that become part of the media's spin. The new villain is now ready to be integrated into the popular culture to help to mobilize public support for a new crusade. In the case of the Green Peril, that process has been under way for several months.(13)

THE GREEN PERIL
Creating the Islamic Fundamentalist Threat
Leon T Hadar ,a former bureau chief for Jerusalem Post.

http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-177.html

"WaPo, NYT, WSJ, Washington Times, ABC news and Economist all gathered the Islamic experts out of the same offices that used to house the Soviet experts, painted them green removed the red markings and asked them to follow the direction . ( Well I made this up But that's exactly what happened .)

[Sep 23, 2017] A conspiracy theory is a theory based on facts but without MSM backing. Theres no better recent example of this than when the DNC emails were released by wikileaks during their convention. The story put forth was that Russian hackers were responsible, and were trying to throw the election to their buddy Trump. The evidence for this? Zero. And yet it became a plausible explanation in the media, overnight.

Notable quotes:
"... So, a conspiracy theory is a theory without media backing. There's no better recent example of this than when the DNC emails were released by wikileaks during their convention. The story put forth was that Russian hackers were responsible, and were trying to throw the election to their buddy Trump. The evidence for this? Zero. And yet it became a plausible explanation in the media, overnight. ..."
"... People need to remember than by definition, the ratio of what you don't know to what you do know is infinity to one. Be more open minded. "They shall find it difficult, they who have taken authority as truth rather than truth for authority". ..."
www.unz.com
LondonBob > , September 6, 2016 at 5:39 pm GMT

@Paul Jolliffe Mr. Unz,

Here is a link to Carl Bernstein's definitive 1977 Rolling Stone article "CIA and the Media" in which he addresses - and confirms - your worst fears. You are very right, and no less a figure than Bernstein has said so for nearly four decades . . .

http://www.carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php No coincidence that all the CIA agents involved in the JFK assassination are known to be experts in 'black ops' and news media specialists. Jim Angleton, Cord Meyer, David Atlee Phillips and E. Howard Hunt, who confessed his involvement, all made their names in black propaganda or news management.

Abraham > , September 6, 2016 at 6:28 pm GMT

@Lot Given how easy it is to create a conspiracy theory, most of them will be crazy.

Another problem with elite conspiracies is that elites usually do not have to act in secret because they already are in control. For Kennedy, a centrist cold warrior, his views already reflected those of elites, maybe even more so than Johnson.

The other problem is that actual criminal conspiracies by elites quite often are discovered, such as Watergate and Iran Contra. Given how easy it is to create a conspiracy theory, most of them will be crazy.

A statement that appears straight out of the CIA's playbook.

Another problem with elite conspiracies is that elites usually do not have to act in secret because they already are in control.

Such control does not imply they have nothing to hide, particularly when exposure of the deed would have damaging repercussions for them.

For Kennedy, a centrist cold warrior, his views already reflected those of elites, maybe even more so than Johnson.

It didn't reflect that of Israel's elites. After JFK's assassination, American foreign policy vis a vis Israel was completely reversed under Johnson, who hung the crew of the USS Liberty out to dry.

The other problem is that actual criminal conspiracies by elites quite often are discovered, such as Watergate and Iran Contra.

How is this a problem?

WorkingClass > , September 6, 2016 at 9:12 pm GMT

The CIA is the presidents private secret army. Nothing it does is legal.

Ron Unz > , September 6, 2016 at 9:53 pm GMT

For those without convenient access to a copy of the deHaven-Smith book, I've discovered there are some lengthy extracts available on the web:

https://off-guardian.org/2016/09/04/are-you-a-mind-controlled-cia-stooge/

Boris > , September 6, 2016 at 10:48 pm GMT

@biz

He is really very good.

He has a book https://www.amazon.com/Guilt-Association-Deception-Self-Deceit-America/product-reviews/098213150X/ref=cm_cr_dp_see_all_btm?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=recent

anti_republocrat > , September 7, 2016 at 1:48 am GMT

@Chief Seattle So, a conspiracy theory is a theory without media backing. There's no better recent example of this than when the DNC emails were released by wikileaks during their convention. The story put forth was that Russian hackers were responsible, and were trying to throw the election to their buddy Trump. The evidence for this? Zero. And yet it became a plausible explanation in the media, overnight.

Maybe it's true, maybe not, but if the roles had been reversed, the media would be telling its proponents to take off their tin foil hats. Note also that the allegations immediately become "fact" because they were reported by someone else. As Business Insider reported, "Amid mounting evidence of Russia's involvement in the hack of the Democratic National Committee ," without any specificity whatsoever as to what that "mounting evidence" was (most likely multiple reports in other media) never mind that the article goes on to quote James Clapper, " we are not quite ready yet to make a call on attribution." WTF! Here, read it yourself: http://www.businessinsider.com/russia-dnc-hack-black-propaganda-2016-7

Totally mindless. So not only is Russia hacking, but we know it's intention is to influence US elections!!! And now their hacking voter DBs and will likely hack our vote tabulating machines. You can't make this s ** t up.

Nathan Hale > , September 7, 2016 at 4:12 am GMT

@Jason Liu

...In the corporate world, it often seems that upper management spends a bulk of their time conspiring against one another or entering into secret talks to sell the company to a rival, unbeknownst to the employees or shareholders.

NoseytheDuke > , September 7, 2016 at 4:32 am GMT

@Alfred1860 I find it quite amusing how, in an article supporting of the existence of conspiracy theories, so many comments consist of hurling insults at people making skeptical comments about what are obviously very sacred cows.

People need to remember than by definition, the ratio of what you don't know to what you do know is infinity to one. Be more open minded. "They shall find it difficult, they who have taken authority as truth rather than truth for authority".

Gerald Massey

Ed Rankin > , Website September 7, 2016 at 8:42 pm GMT

In Dispatch 1035-960 mailed to station chiefs on April 1, 1967, the CIA laid out a series of "talking points" in its memo addressing the "conspiracy theorists" who were questioning the Warren Commission's findings on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. They include the following:

I have found numerous examples of these exact points being made in televised news segments, newspapers, magazines and even some academic articles and scholarly books.

Additionally, some of the most influential and frequently-cited authors who are the most critical of "conspiracy theorists", both academic and lay people, have very direct ties to government, foundations and other institutions of authority.

While we can't know if the CIA was primarily responsible for the creation of the pejorative, but what we do know from the Church Committee hearings, was that the Agency did have paid operatives working inside major media organizations as late as the 1970s. In fact, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper has acknowledged ties to the CIA.

With recent lifting of restrictions on the government's use of domestic propaganda with the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, which passed as part of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, I think reasonable people would expect this type of pejorative construction to resume if in fact, it ever ceased.

Bill Jones > , September 7, 2016 at 9:47 pm GMT

A nice little piece on one of the players in the big conspiracy: https://www.corbettreport.com/911-suspects-philip-zelikow/

Marie > , September 8, 2016 at 4:01 am GMT

Literally every article I've ever read about conservatives and/or the conservative movement within the pages of the New Yorker – and I've read going back decades, unfortunately – has judiciously referenced 'The Paranoid Style in American Politics'.

I mean, EVERY SINGLE article regarding Republicans, conservatives and/or opposition to leftism has the Hofstadter quote somewhere – it must be a staple on the J-School syllabi.

It seems Prof. Hofstadter was something of an adherent to the Frankfurt School nonsense – Marxism-meets-dime-store-Freud being every New Yorker writer's stock in trade, of course

Hippopotamusdrome > , September 9, 2016 at 8:21 am GMT

@biz Actually, there is no symmetry in conspiracy theories as you imply.

The definition of a conspiracy theory is an explanation of events that traces them to a secret network, and when presented with contradictory evidence, simply enlarges the network of supposed conspirators rather than modifying the explanation.

... ... ...

[Sep 23, 2017] Although most Americans today reject the official (lone gunman) account of the Kennedy assassination, they also have doubts about conspiracy theories and those who believe them. This means the CIA program was successful, for its aim was not to sell the Warren Commission, but to sow uncertainty about the commission's critics. Today, people are not only uncertain, they have given up ever learning the truth

Sep 23, 2017 | www.unz.com

anon, Disclaimer September 6, 2016 at 2:10 am GMT

deHaven Smith is not that impressive on several counts.

one example: book opens:

"Although most Americans today reject the official (lone gunman) account of the Kennedy assassination, they also have doubts about conspiracy theories and those who believe them. This means the CIA program was successful, for its aim was not to sell the Warren Commission, but to sow uncertainty about the commission's critics. Today, people are not only uncertain, they have given up ever learning the truth. "

At least one high-profile person and an entire community that supports him does not have doubts, has not given up. Cyril Wecht blasted holes in Arlen Specter's "one bullet" theory in 1965. He's still at it. In 2013, the fiftieth anniversary of JFK's assassination,

"about 500 people gathered at Duquesne University for a JFK symposium sponsored by the university's Institute of Forensic Science and Law, which is named for Wecht. Appearances by Stone and a doctor who tended to Kennedy brought national attention.

People sneered when they mentioned Specter's name or the single-bullet theory.

Across the state, the Single Bullet exhibit opened on Oct. 21. It's the first exhibition in Philadelphia University's Arlen Specter Center for Public Policy. Willens, the former Kennedy aide, delivered a speech. The center's coordinator, Karen Albert, said he was looking forward to defending his conclusion on the 50th anniversary. " http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5017529-74/wecht-commission-specter

Smith did not even mention Wecht or Specter and the single-bullet theory in his book. The omission is important insofar as its inclusion would have demonstrated that for many years the populace has been aware of the dishonesty of the US government and some have been raising their voices against and continue to do so.

That knowledge should give encouragement to activists such as those who demand accountability for Israel's attack on the USS Liberty and the deliberate killing of 34 US sailors and other personnel.

(Specter has been useful to the deep state in other ways: he protected Zalman Shapiro, former head of NUMEC, from prosecution for his part in smuggling uranium to Israel. http://israellobby.org/numec/ 0

[Sep 23, 2017] American Pravda How the CIA Invented "Conspiracy Theories" by Ron Unz

Notable quotes:
"... Even for most educated Americans, theorists such as Beard, Popper, and Strauss are probably no more than vague names mentioned in textbooks, and that was certainly true in my own case. But while the influence of Beard seems to have largely disappeared in elite circles, the same is hardly true of his rivals. Popper probably ranks as one of the founders of modern liberal thought, with an individual as politically influential as left-liberal financier George Soros claiming to be his intellectual disciple . Meanwhile, the neo-conservative thinkers who have totally dominated the Republican Party and the Conservative Movement for the last couple of decades often proudly trace their ideas back to Strauss. ..."
"... The best strategy is to foster implausible conspiracy theories to create a cloud of disinformation. This technique was used very effectively after 9/11, such that it's very hard to discuss a coverup without being labeled a truther. ..."
"... It should also be noted that Irving Kristol was sponsored by -- on the payroll of – the CIA while still in Britain. Kristol has acknowledged that CIA support got his movement off the ground. ..."
"... Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in. ..."
Sep 05, 2016 | www.unz.com

A year or two ago, I saw the much-touted science fiction film Interstellar , and although the plot wasn't any good, one early scene was quite amusing. For various reasons, the American government of the future claimed that our Moon Landings of the late 1960s had been faked, a trick aimed at winning the Cold War by bankrupting Russia into fruitless space efforts of its own. This inversion of historical reality was accepted as true by nearly everyone, and those few people who claimed that Neil Armstrong had indeed set foot on the Moon were universally ridiculed as "crazy conspiracy theorists." This seems a realistic portrayal of human nature to me.

Obviously, a large fraction of everything described by our government leaders or presented in the pages of our most respectable newspapers!from the 9/11 attacks to the most insignificant local case of petty urban corruption!could objectively be categorized as a "conspiracy theory" but such words are never applied. Instead, use of that highly loaded phrase is reserved for those theories, whether plausible or fanciful, that do not possess the endorsement stamp of establishmentarian approval.

Put another way, there are good "conspiracy theories" and bad "conspiracy theories," with the former being the ones promoted by pundits on mainstream television shows and hence never described as such. I've sometimes joked with people that if ownership and control of our television stations and other major media outlets suddenly changed, the new information regime would require only a few weeks of concerted effort to totally invert all of our most famous "conspiracy theories" in the minds of the gullible American public. The notion that nineteen Arabs armed with box-cutters hijacked several jetliners, easily evaded our NORAD air defenses, and reduced several landmark buildings to rubble would soon be universally ridiculed as the most preposterous "conspiracy theory" ever to have gone straight from the comic books into the minds of the mentally ill, easily surpassing the absurd "lone gunman" theory of the JFK assassination.

Even without such changes in media control, huge shifts in American public beliefs have frequently occurred in the recent past, merely on the basis of implied association. In the initial weeks and months following the 2001 attacks, every American media organ was enlisted to denounce and vilify Osama Bin Laden, the purported Islamicist master-mind, as our greatest national enemy, with his bearded visage endlessly appearing on television and in print, soon becoming one of the most recognizable faces in the world. But as the Bush Administration and its key media allies prepared a war against Iraq, the images of the Burning Towers were instead regularly juxtaposed with mustachioed photos of dictator Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden's arch-enemy. As a consequence, by the time we attacked Iraq in 2003, polls revealed that some 70% of the American public believed that Saddam was personally involved in the destruction of our World Trade Center. By that date I don't doubt that many millions of patriotic but low-information Americans would have angrily denounced and vilified as a "crazy conspiracy theorist" anyone with the temerity to suggest that Saddam had not been behind 9/11, despite almost no one in authority having ever explicitly made such a fallacious claim.

one of our most prominent scholars and public intellectuals had been historian Charles Beard , whose influential writings had heavily focused on the harmful role of various elite conspiracies in shaping American policy for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many, with his examples ranging from the earliest history of the United States down to the nation's entry into WWI. Obviously, researchers never claimed that all major historical events had hidden causes, but it was widely accepted that some of them did, and attempting to investigate those possibilities was deemed a perfectly acceptable academic enterprise.

However, Beard was a strong opponent of American entry into the Second World War, and he was marginalized in the years that followed, even prior to his death in 1948. Many younger public intellectuals of a similar bent also suffered the same fate, or were even purged from respectability and denied any access to the mainstream media. At the same time, the totally contrary perspectives of two European political philosophers, Karl Popper and Leo Strauss , gradually gained ascendancy in American intellectual circles, and their ideas became dominant in public life.

Popper, the more widely influential, presented broad, largely theoretical objections to the very possibility of important conspiracies ever existing, suggesting that these would be implausibly difficult to implement given the fallibility of human agents; what might appear a conspiracy actually amounted to individual actors pursuing their narrow aims. Even more importantly, he regarded "conspiratorial beliefs" as an extremely dangerous social malady, a major contributing factor to the rise of Nazism and other deadly totalitarian ideologies. His own background as an individual of Jewish ancestry who had fled Austria in 1937 surely contributed to the depth of his feelings on these philosophical matters.

Meanwhile, Strauss, a founding figure in modern neo-conservative thought, was equally harsh in his attacks upon conspiracy analysis, but for polar-opposite reasons. In his mind, elite conspiracies were absolutely necessary and beneficial, a crucial social defense against anarchy or totalitarianism, but their effectiveness obviously depended upon keeping them hidden from the prying eyes of the ignorant masses. His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.

Even for most educated Americans, theorists such as Beard, Popper, and Strauss are probably no more than vague names mentioned in textbooks, and that was certainly true in my own case. But while the influence of Beard seems to have largely disappeared in elite circles, the same is hardly true of his rivals. Popper probably ranks as one of the founders of modern liberal thought, with an individual as politically influential as left-liberal financier George Soros claiming to be his intellectual disciple . Meanwhile, the neo-conservative thinkers who have totally dominated the Republican Party and the Conservative Movement for the last couple of decades often proudly trace their ideas back to Strauss.

So, through a mixture of Popperian and Straussian thinking, the traditional American tendency to regard elite conspiracies as a real but harmful aspect of our society was gradually stigmatized as either paranoid or politically dangerous, laying the conditions for its exclusion from respectable discourse.

Kirt > , September 5, 2016 at 4:26 am GMT

Conspiracy is simply a plan or agreement by more than one person to do something evil and then the pursuit of that plan. Secrecy may be needed for the success of a conspiracy, but it is not essential to the definition. Were it essential to the definition, you could never prove the existence of a conspiracy. Either secrecy would be maintained and there would be little or no evidence or secrecy would not be maintained and the plan would become known and by definition not be a conspiracy.

Pat Casey > , September 5, 2016 at 4:55 am GMT

"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false."

–William Casey, CIA Director, from a first staff meeting in 1981

You can read the context of that quote according to the person who claims to be its original source here:

https://www.quora.com/Did-William-Casey-CIA-Director-really-say-Well-know-our-disinformation-program-is-complete-when-everything-the-American-public-believes-is-false

I think it's worth pointing out what I've never seen explained about that quote, a quote with as much currency in the conspiracy theory fever swamps as any single quote has ever had. The point of the disinformation campaign was not to manipulate the public but to manipulate the soviets. Because our CIA analysts spent so much time unriddling the soviet media, we figured their CIA analysts were doing the same thing with ours.

FKA Max > , September 5, 2016 at 4:56 am GMT

Mr. Unz,

this study/paper might by of interest to you: http://emilkirkegaard.dk/en/wp-content/uploads/CONSPIRE.doc

[MORE]

Note: This paper was published in Political Psychology 15: 733-744, 1994. This is the original typescript sent to the journal, it does not include any editorial changes that may have been made. The journal itself is not available online, to my knowledge.

Belief in Conspiracy Theories

Ted Goertzel1

Running Head: Belief in Conspiracy Theories.

KEY WORDS: conspiracy theories, anomia, trust

Table Three
Means Scores of Racial/Ethnic Groups on Attitude Scales
White[W] Hispanic[H] Black[B]
Scale
Belief in Conspiracies 2.5[W] 2.8[H] 3.3[B]
Anomia 3.4[W] 3.8[H] 4.1[B]
Trust 3.7[W] 3.3[H] 3.1[B]
Note: All scales varied from 1 to 5, with 3 as a neutral score.

One of the most interesting discussions of the paper:

It is puzzling that conspiratorial thinking has been overlooked in the extensive research on authoritarianism which has dominated quantitative work in political psychology since the 1950s. One possible explanation is that much of this work focuses on right-wing authoritarianism (Altmeyer, 1988), while conspiratorial thinking is characteristic of alienated thinkers on both the right and the left (Citrin, et al., 1975; Graumann, 1987; Berlet, 1992). Even more surprisingly, however, conspiratorial thinking has not been a focus of the efforts to measure "left-wing authoritarianism" (Stone, 1980; Eysenck, 1981; LeVasseur & Gold, 1993) or of research with the "dogmatism" concept (Rokeach, 1960) which was intended to overcome the ideological bias in authoritarianism measures.
On a more fundamental level, the difficulty with existing research traditions may be their focus on the content of beliefs rather than the res[p]ondent's cognitive processes or emotional makeup. As I have argued elsewhere (Goertzel, 1987), most studies of authoritarianism simply ask people what they believe and then assume that these beliefs must be based on underlying psychological processes which go unmeasured. Since these scales ask mostly about beliefs held by those on the right, it is not surprising that they find authoritarianism to be a right-wing phenomenon. Research with projective tests (Rothman and Lichter, 1982) and biographical materials (Goertzel, 1992), on the other hand, has confirmed that many aspects of authoritarian thinking can be found on both the left and the right.

Lot > , September 5, 2016 at 5:14 am GMT

Given how easy it is to create a conspiracy theory, most of them will be crazy.

Another problem with elite conspiracies is that elites usually do not have to act in secret because they already are in control. For Kennedy, a centrist cold warrior, his views already reflected those of elites, maybe even more so than Johnson.

The other problem is that actual criminal conspiracies by elites quite often are discovered, such as Watergate and Iran Contra.

Chief Seattle > , September 5, 2016 at 5:17 am GMT

So, a conspiracy theory is a theory without media backing. There's no better recent example of this than when the DNC emails were released by wikileaks during their convention. The story put forth was that Russian hackers were responsible, and were trying to throw the election to their buddy Trump. The evidence for this? Zero. And yet it became a plausible explanation in the media, overnight.

Maybe it's true, maybe not, but if the roles had been reversed, the media would be telling its proponents to take off their tin foil hats.

Miro23 > , September 5, 2016 at 5:20 am GMT

The British and Americans have been the victims of conspiracies (False Flag operations) for years.

For example:

The Irgun bombing of the King David Hotel (headquarters of the British Mandate Government of Palestine) in which Zionist activists dressed as Arabs placed milk churns filled with explosives against the main columns of the building killing 91 people and injuring 44. Israeli prime Minister Netanyahu, attended a celebration to commemorate the event.

Operation Susannah (Lavon Affair) where Israeli operatives impersonating Arabs bombed British and American cinemas, libraries and educational centers in Egypt to destabilize the country and keep British troops committed to the Middle East.

Or June 8, 1967, the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty with unmarked aircraft and torpedo boats. 34 men were killed and 171 wounded, with the attack in international waters following over nine hours of close surveillance. When the ship failed to sink, the Israeli government concocted an elaborate story to cover the crime. Original plan to blame the sinking with all lives lost on the Egyptians and draw the US into the war.

Or Israelis and U.S. Zionists appearing all over the most recent WTC 9/11 "Operation" with Israelis once again impersonating Arabs in a historic deception/terror action of a type that seems to carry a lot of kudos with old Israeli ex-terrorist Likudniks. Israeli agents were sent to film the historic day (as they later admitted on Israeli TV), with the celebrations including photos of themselves with a background of the burning towers where thousands of Americans were being incinerated.

Iraq was destroyed as a result of 9/11 but unfortunately for the conspirators, the momentum wasn't sufficient for a general war including Iran. Also the general war would have included the nuclear angle and justified the activation of a neo-con led Emergency Regime (dictatorship) in the US enforced with the newly printed Patriot Act and Homeland Security troops – or maybe that's just another Conspiracy Theory?

Emblematic > , September 5, 2016 at 7:17 am GMT

I get the sense Ron's building up to something. For those who haven't seen it, can I recommend Ryan Dawson's 'War by Deception':

polistra > , September 5, 2016 at 8:03 am GMT

Simplifying one "contradiction": Our elites have never been primarily anti-Russian or pro-Russian. Since 1946 our elites have been purely GLOBALIST, and their secondary feelings toward Russia strictly follow from this primary goal.

At first Russia was an obstacle to globalism, blocking much of the UN's efforts. Our elites were anti-Russian. After 1962 or so, Russia became the main driver of the UN, so our elites were pro-Russian. Since 1989, Russia has been the guiding star for ANTI-globalist forces, so our elites are FEROCIOUSLY anti-Russian.

smiddy > , September 5, 2016 at 8:13 am GMT

Mr. Unz's direct confrontation with this topic leads me to feel a sense of sentimentality or coming full circle as my "red-pilled" experience literally started with his The Myth of American Meritocracy a little over 2 years ago (I finally looked into the "white privilege" I was "highly exposed" to in college).

Long story short, I was a lazy liberal beforehand, now a highly motivated conservative; nothing helps one get their ish together better than understanding the trajectory at which our society is heading. The Myth of American Meritocracy singularly led me to have a more open mind in understanding how non-congruent the mainstream narrative can be with man's shared universal reality, and having spent way too much time in school learning research methodology, I finally applied it via whim thereafter to criminal statistics (but we know where this story ends), then WW2, the mainstream narrative of which I grew up worshiping

For someone who, when I was naive, hung on to every word one heard or read in the countless amount of hours I've spent in American history classes, for me to learn the hard way of Operation Keelhaul, the Haavara Agreement, the disease epidemic, the migrant crisis (before hand), the hand THE banksters probably played (in playing both sides), and so on, it becomes all too clear how amazingly systematically corrupt our academic system has become. Not once did I ever hear one smidgen about those extremely large plot points; they're so consistently implicitly left out of the script its terrifying.

Alternating to my freshman year of high school now, when I was still naive, I complained to our just hired 22 year old (conveniently) Jewish teacher (fresh out of the Ivy League but back to sacrifice where he had graduated high school, he had always reminded us) over having to read about the Little Rock 9 and Ann Frank for literally (in my case) the 4th time (each). Point is, even when I was entirely clueless, and had no defensive instinct at all, it still didn't feel healthy to read over and over again; I was emotionally exhausted already. I accepted their stories at face value, faced the guilt, and just wanted to move on, yet according to my teacher I "lacked empathy" (so if only we were taught about how the Irish were treated in the 17th we'd be fine). It really is this kind of dwelling on the past that has been institutionalized, and its borderline brain-washing, regardless of the said tragedy's validity.

There is one such particular event of WW2 that, once naive, I've personally cried over more than any other historical event easily (perhaps even more than anything subjectively experienced), much in thanks to programmed televising So what's so weird about all of this, is its like a meta-intellectual betrayal, but with all the emotional connotations of a woman who wronged you in all the worse ways (and she's inevitably waiting in seemingly every dark corner of history you delve into, thus the "endless rabbit hole" you fall through). And its this implicit brand of deceit that is patently feminine which can be inductively read from the MSM to "read the tea leaves"

I could go on and on but really I initially just wanted to thank you Mr. Unz, your publication, and your current and past writing staff. I don't even want to imagine a world where I had never stumbled upon your work!

JL > , September 5, 2016 at 10:40 am GMT

Perhaps the media tried too hard, were too eager to be complicit, and now they've completely lost the plot. The rise of Trump, in the face of a completely and uniformly hostile media, suggests that a large part of the American public, consciously or not, now completely rejects entire media narratives and assumes the exact opposite to be true. And they're panicking. Not knowing what to do, they double and triple down on the same fail that got them into this mess. Truly interesting times.

Thanks, Mr. Unz, for your "small webzine".

Gene Tuttle > , September 5, 2016 at 10:41 am GMT

I've often used the argument myself that conspiracies inevitably have short shelf lives in the US because it was so difficult for Americans to keep secrets. The article makes a useful point in suggesting that secret plots, even after being revealed, may nevertheless remain widely ignored. Ideology, group-think, pack journalism etc. are powerful forces, often subconsciously at work, preventing alternative theories from developing legs.

Though long an admirer of Karl Popper, I hadn't strongly associated him with attacks on conspiracy theories per se. As an American "outsider" living abroad most of my adult life, I've all too often encountered those who assumed my background alone explained an argument of mine that they didn't like. Popper had hit the nail on the head when he wrote about

"a widespread and dangerous fashion of our time of not taking arguments seriously, and at their face value, at least tentatively, but of seeing in them nothing but a way in which deeper irrational motives and tendencies express themselves." It was "the attitude of looking at once for the unconscious motives and determinants in the social habitat of the thinker, instead of first examining the validity of the argument itself."

The powerful nazi and communist ideologies of his day assumed that one's " blood " or " class " precluded "correct" thinking. Those politically incorrect challengers to their own totalitarian weltanschauung were (to put it mildly) persecuted as conspirators. No doubt, as Ron Unz notes, Popper's personal experience "contributed the depth of his feelings" ! I would say skepticism – about conspiracy claims.

But the author of the " Open Society " had an open mind and I suspect he'd find the thesis reasonable that real conspiracies can both be uncovered and largely ignored because so many simply opt to ignore them. In such cases, evidence and "not taking arguments seriously" often reflects "intellectual groupieism," emotions, professional insecurities as well as venal collective interests.

anonymous > , Disclaimer September 5, 2016 at 12:24 pm GMT

One conspiracy theory is that some of the wilder, more incredible notions of what may have taken place are deliberately circulated so as to muddy the waters and discredit those who question the party line. For example, outlandish claims by some that no planes were crashed on 9-11 but were really just holograms are seized upon by supposed debunkers as being representative of all skeptics, overshadowing the more reasonable types who question the narrative. This seems to be quite deliberate.

The mainstream American press is the freest in the world, we've been told endlessly, and at some point I realized that I was reading these accolades to itself in the very same press. Not the most objective source one comes to realize. Now on the internet it seems there are those who appear to fan out everywhere to influence the discussion, spread their slogans and shout down opposing ideas. Paid trolls and others?

Conspiracies exist. Consider the Gulf of Tonkin fabrication which certainly involved many actors and yet the general public was kept in the dark about the real facts. The results need not be rehashed yet again. There's a streak of denial in most people. They don't want to contemplate the idea that FDR may have deliberately allowed American servicemen to die at Pearl Harbor in order to get the war he wanted. Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in.

Pat Casey > , September 5, 2016 at 12:44 pm GMT

@Emblematic I get the sense Ron's building up to something.

For those who haven't seen it, can I recommend Ryan Dawson's 'War by Deception':

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK6VLFdWJ4I

I get the sense Ron's building up to something.

One can only hope. This time he mentioned 9/11! so that base is covered; no need to say more about that than that; besides I doubt even he could add to what has already been published and posted on this site re that Big Lie. I would like to see how he weighs all the evidence on RFK's assassination, what he would be willing to call what looks like nothing as much as what MK-Ultra was about.

Wizard of Oz > , September 5, 2016 at 12:44 pm GMT

@Miro23 The British and Americans have been the victims of conspiracies (False Flag operations) for years.

For example:

The Irgun bombing of the King David Hotel (headquarters of the British Mandate Government of Palestine) in which Zionist activists dressed as Arabs placed milk churns filled with explosives against the main columns of the building killing 91 people and injuring 44. Israeli prime Minister Netanyahu, attended a celebration to commemorate the event.

Operation Susannah (Lavon Affair) where Israeli operatives impersonating Arabs bombed British and American cinemas, libraries and educational centers in Egypt to destabilize the country and keep British troops committed to the Middle East.

Or June 8, 1967, the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty with unmarked aircraft and torpedo boats. 34 men were killed and 171 wounded, with the attack in international waters following over nine hours of close surveillance. When the ship failed to sink, the Israeli government concocted an elaborate story to cover the crime. Original plan to blame the sinking with all lives lost on the Egyptians and draw the US into the war.

Or Israelis and U.S. Zionists appearing all over the most recent WTC 9/11 "Operation" with Israelis once again impersonating Arabs in a historic deception/terror action of a type that seems to carry a lot of kudos with old Israeli ex-terrorist Likudniks. Israeli agents were sent to film the historic day (as they later admitted on Israeli TV), with the celebrations including photos of themselves with a background of the burning towers where thousands of Americans were being incinerated.

Iraq was destroyed as a result of 9/11 but unfortunately for the conspirators, the momentum wasn't sufficient for a general war including Iran. Also the general war would have included the nuclear angle and justified the activation of a neo-con led Emergency Regime (dictatorship) in the US enforced with the newly printed Patriot Act and Homeland Security troops - or maybe that's just another Conspiracy Theory? I accept that your explanation of the attack on USS Liberty is relatively plausible but another which runs it close is that Israel had to ensure that there was no proof left of the true order of events which were not in accordance with the Israeli official version. So I ask what are your sources?

Likewise, if you are saying that suicidal hijackers flew planes into buildings on 9/11 but that it was organised by Mossad or other Israelis your story needs a lot of filling out and evidence to be credible. Or are you merely saying the Israelis knew what was going to
happen and let it go ahead because it could be turned to their advantage?

SolontoCroesus > , September 5, 2016 at 1:24 pm GMT

@anonymous One conspiracy theory is that some of the wilder, more incredible notions of what may have taken place are deliberately circulated so as to muddy the waters and discredit those who question the party line. For example, outlandish claims by some that no planes were crashed on 9-11 but were really just holograms are seized upon by supposed debunkers as being representative of all skeptics, overshadowing the more reasonable types who question the narrative. This seems to be quite deliberate.
The mainstream American press is the freest in the world, we've been told endlessly, and at some point I realized that I was reading these accolades to itself in the very same press. Not the most objective source one comes to realize. Now on the internet it seems there are those who appear to fan out everywhere to influence the discussion, spread their slogans and shout down opposing ideas. Paid trolls and others?
Conspiracies exist. Consider the Gulf of Tonkin fabrication which certainly involved many actors and yet the general public was kept in the dark about the real facts. The results need not be rehashed yet again. There's a streak of denial in most people. They don't want to contemplate the idea that FDR may have deliberately allowed American servicemen to die at Pearl Harbor in order to get the war he wanted. Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in.

Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in.

Is this built-in deceit and manipulation unique to American life, or ! beyond the usual understandings about human nature ! is the systematic or institutionalized "deceit and manipulation" present in all cultures? in western cultures? in some but not all cultures? If the lattermost, in which cultures is "deceit and manipulation" less systematic and institutionalized?

Was "deceit and manipulation" institutionalized into American life from the beginning ! by the Founders, or did USA deviate from its intended path at some point? If so, at what point? How did it happen?

Is there the possibility of redemption?

Wizard of Oz > , September 5, 2016 at 2:03 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus


Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in.
Is this built-in deceit and manipulation unique to American life, or -- beyond the usual understandings about human nature -- is the systematic or institutionalized "deceit and manipulation" present in all cultures? in western cultures? in some but not all cultures? If the lattermost, in which cultures is "deceit and manipulation" less systematic and institutionalized?

Was "deceit and manipulation" institutionalized into American life from the beginning -- by the Founders, or did USA deviate from its intended path at some point? If so, at what point? How did it happen?

Is there the possibility of redemption? It would be worth considering the different contributions to truth telling and also honest scepticism of the Puritan and other Protestant culture, and of the Enlightenment for a start. Some subjects were difficult – like whether there is a God for all Christians and of course the one that must have addled many brains: slavery.

godfree roberts > , September 5, 2016 at 2:18 pm GMT

Agreed. This is an exemplary piece of scholarship and also an enthralling re-telling of our recent past. Highly recommended.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 2:22 pm GMT

Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss.

The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall–and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you?–is on Thoughts on Machiavelli . Strauss does so, first and foremost, because conspiracy is a major theme of Machiavelli's and the subject of the two longest chapters of his two most important books ( Prince 19 and Discourses III 6). Strauss further develops the idea that modern philosophy begins as a conspiracy between Machiavelli and (some of) his readers. Strauss simply never said anything like this:

Meanwhile, Strauss, a founding figure in modern neo-conservative thought, was equally harsh in his attacks upon conspiracy analysis, but for polar-opposite reasons. In his mind, elite conspiracies were absolutely necessary and beneficial, a crucial social defense against anarchy or totalitarianism, but their effectiveness obviously depended upon keeping them hidden from the prying eyes of the ignorant masses. His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.

As for his relationship with neoconservatism, you also overstate that considerably. Yes, there are many neoconservative Straussians. But there are also Straussian paleos, tradcons, liberatarians, liberals, and moderates. There are many who are apolitical and interested only in abstract philosophy. There are Straussian religious conservatives, agnostics and atheists. Christians, Jews and Muslim. Catholic, Protestants and Mormons. The neocons just get all the attention–owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration, which everyone today believes without having read, or even being aware of (have/are you?).

If "neocon" has any meaning, it means, first, a former intellectual liberal who has drifted right. Second, a domestic policy scholar who focuses on data-driven social science. And third, a foreign policy hawk.

None of these really apply to Strauss, who spent his who career studying political philosophy, with an intense focus on the Greeks. He voted Dem in every election in which he could vote, until his last, 1972, when he voted for Nixon out of Cold War concerns. You might say that makes him a "hawk" but he never wrote any essays saying so. He simply told a few people privately that McGovern was too naïve about the Soviets. You might also say that is evidence that he "drifted right" but he didn't think so. He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death. As for data-driven social science, he famously attacked it in of the very few of his writings that ever got any attention in mainstream political science ("An Epilogue").

You may well be right about the CIA's role in popularizing the phrase "conspiracy theory." But Leo Strauss had nothing to do with it. Or, if he did, he hid his role exceptionally well, because there is no evidence of such in his writings.

Connecticut Famer > , September 5, 2016 at 2:28 pm GMT

@Gene Tuttle I've often used the argument myself that conspiracies inevitably have short shelf lives in the US because it was so difficult for Americans to keep secrets. The article makes a useful point in suggesting that secret plots, even after being revealed, may nevertheless remain widely ignored. Ideology, group-think, pack journalism etc. are powerful forces, often subconsciously at work, preventing alternative theories from developing legs.

Though long an admirer of Karl Popper, I hadn't strongly associated him with attacks on conspiracy theories per se. As an American "outsider" living abroad most of my adult life, I've all too often encountered those who assumed my background alone explained an argument of mine that they didn't like. Popper had hit the nail on the head when he wrote about

"a widespread and dangerous fashion of our time...of not taking arguments seriously, and at their face value, at least tentatively, but of seeing in them nothing but a way in which deeper irrational motives and tendencies express themselves." It was "the attitude of looking at once for the unconscious motives and determinants in the social habitat of the thinker, instead of first examining the validity of the argument itself."
The powerful nazi and communist ideologies of his day assumed that one's " blood " or " class " precluded "correct" thinking. Those politically incorrect challengers to their own totalitarian weltanschauung were (to put it mildly) persecuted as conspirators. No doubt, as Ron Unz notes, Popper's personal experience "contributed the depth of his feelings" -- I would say skepticism – about conspiracy claims.

But the author of the " Open Society " had an open mind and I suspect he'd find the thesis reasonable that real conspiracies can both be uncovered and largely ignored because so many simply opt to ignore them. In such cases, evidence and "not taking arguments seriously" often reflects "intellectual groupieism," emotions, professional insecurities as well as venal collective interests. "But the author of the "Open Society" had an open mind and I suspect he'd find the thesis reasonable that real conspiracies can both be uncovered and largely ignored because so many simply opt to ignore them. In such cases, evidence and "not taking arguments seriously" often reflects "intellectual groupieism," emotions, professional insecurities as well as venal collective interests."

Possibly as in the JFK case? I actually watched Lee Harvey Oswald get drilled by the man who was later identified as Jack Ruby (real surname "Rubenstein") live on television. The minute it happened and even at age 16 at the time I smelled a rat. Who was ultimately behind it all is something which I can't answer and care not to speculate upon, but to this day I remain suspicious about the circumstances surrounding Oswald's death and Ruby's subsequent dissembling.

Jacques Sheete > , September 5, 2016 at 2:46 pm GMT

Superb article.

It's good to see that Mr. Beard is getting some well deserved good press. It's also good to have people put on alert about Leo Strauss; his name should be a household word, and that of derision. I first learned of the fool at LewRockwell.com, and I feel it's worth investigating him as a source of the goofy neocon outlook that the world's been suffering under for decades. "Strauss, who opposed the idea of individual rights, maintained that neither the ancient world nor the Christian envisioned strict, absolute limits on state power. Straussian neoconservatism is not conservatism as it has ever been understood in America or anywhere else "

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2004/09/thomas-woods/the-neocon-godfather/

Paul Jolliffe > , September 5, 2016 at 2:53 pm GMT

Mr. Unz,

Here is a link to Carl Bernstein's definitive 1977 Rolling Stone article "CIA and the Media" in which he addresses – and confirms – your worst fears. You are very right, and no less a figure than Bernstein has said so for nearly four decades . . .

http://www.carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php

Clearpoint > , September 5, 2016 at 2:53 pm GMT

Popper and Strauss. Neoliberal thought unites with neoconservative thought. Explicitly different rationales, but the same goals and the same method of achieving those goals. Sounds like target marketing of the two biggest target markets of American exceptionalism – dumb and dumber. Apparently critical thinkers are a minority that they believe can be easily marginalized.

John Jeremiah Smith > , September 5, 2016 at 2:58 pm GMT

@JL Perhaps the media tried too hard, were too eager to be complicit, and now they've completely lost the plot. The rise of Trump, in the face of a completely and uniformly hostile media, suggests that a large part of the American public, consciously or not, now completely rejects entire media narratives and assumes the exact opposite to be true. And they're panicking. Not knowing what to do, they double and triple down on the same fail that got them into this mess. Truly interesting times.

Thanks, Mr. Unz, for your "small webzine".

The rise of Trump, in the face of a completely and uniformly hostile media, suggests that a large part of the American public, consciously or not, now completely rejects entire media narratives and assumes the exact opposite to be true. And they're panicking.

Are they? Or, have they simply fired the first few rounds of easily-dispatched, easily-targeted artillery? I do note that this is the most massive full-court press in support of the oligarchy that I have ever seen. But, I sense that political wars have moved from the court of public opinion and perception, into the courtyards of the moneyed elite. Inasmuch as no rich person has ever believed that he or she has enough money and power, the national political conflict is now composed solely of issues that affect the wealth and power of the 0.1%, which is itself segmented into areas of economic focus and varying forms of wealth acquisition. For example, if air transport systems threaten the wealth and power of ocean-based shipping, that competition between oligarchs will morph into politically-expressed contexts.

There is absolutely no concern, anywhere within the dominion of the 0.1%, with human values, human rights, or any of that sort of ethically-principled hoo-hoo.

John Jeremiah Smith > , September 5, 2016 at 3:05 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus

Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in.
Is this built-in deceit and manipulation unique to American life, or -- beyond the usual understandings about human nature -- is the systematic or institutionalized "deceit and manipulation" present in all cultures? in western cultures? in some but not all cultures? If the lattermost, in which cultures is "deceit and manipulation" less systematic and institutionalized?

Was "deceit and manipulation" institutionalized into American life from the beginning -- by the Founders, or did USA deviate from its intended path at some point? If so, at what point? How did it happen?

Is there the possibility of redemption?

Is there the possibility of redemption?

Of what is "redemption" constituted? Considering that fewer than 20% of American residents during the Revolution were actually involved in the revolt, with an estimated 40% preferring to retain the colony under monarchy, and considering that the ethical and political awareness of the Average American and the Average Illegal Resident Alien have gone downhill from there, can it honestly be said that there's enough true flavor of human rights and equal access/opportunity to redeem?

biz > , September 5, 2016 at 3:10 pm GMT

@John Jeremiah Smith

The definition of a conspiracy theory is an explanation of events that traces them to a secret network, and when presented with contradictory evidence, simply enlarges the network of supposed conspirators rather than modifying the explanation.
LOL x 2. I think you're saying that the above is YOUR definition of "conspiracy theory", not to be confused with any real and accurate definition of "conspiracy theory". No what I have put is the generally accepted definition used in journalistic and sociological works about conspiracy theory culture, e.g. this book .
CanSpeccy > , Website September 5, 2016 at 3:22 pm GMT

Good epistemological analysis.

The great flaw in the Western system of "democratic" government is that hardly anyone knows the meaning of the word "epistemology", let alone have any grasp of the underlying challenge of knowing what they know, or rather knowing how little they know beyond what they know from direct personal experience. This is a challenge made vastly more difficult in the modern age when almost everything we know is derived not from personal experience, or from other people of whose character and intellectual competence we have some personal knowledge, but from the arrangement of ink on paper or of pixels on a video screen. To this problem, there is probably no solution, although either a sharp restriction of the franchise to those of some maturity and education, or a division of the franchise according to what each particular individual could be expected to know something about, would be a step in the right direction.

As it is, we will, inevitably, continue to be the target of high powered manipulation by corporate owned media and other powerful interests.

Professor Lance Haven de Smith, whose book you mention is an expert on SCADS, or state crimes against democracy. An article by him on this topic is available here . There is some interesting academic material about SCADs here .

nsa > , September 5, 2016 at 3:25 pm GMT

In spook circles, leaving [false] clues is referred to as inoculation. Refer to the work of Bill McGuire in the late 50s and early 60s. For example, we here in Langley and Ft. Meade have left intact on the internet the early picture of the 20′ entry hole left by the "757″ in the facade of the pentagon before the explosion and complete collapse of the exterior wall ..inviting the conspiratorial question " where are the wings, the mangled cadavers, the tail?". This is all just too easy

Alden > , September 5, 2016 at 3:27 pm GMT

Highly reccomend Chris Buckley's book. "Little Green Men" The plot is that the entire UFO thing was set up after WW3 by the DOJ to keep the money flowing. Like all Buckley's books, it's a great read. I stopped believing in anything written in newspapers around 1966 because they were so pro black criminal and anti police

Have fun on Labor Day

John Jeremiah Smith > , September 5, 2016 at 3:45 pm GMT

@biz No what I have put is the generally accepted definition used in journalistic and sociological works about conspiracy theory culture, e.g. this book .

No what I have put is the generally accepted definition used in journalistic and sociological works about conspiracy theory culture, e.g. this book.

Journalism? Sociological works? You choose to quote even bigger liars as defining "conspiracy theory"?

"A conspiracy theory is a belief that a secret conspiracy has actually been decisive in producing a political event or evil outcome which the theorists strongly disapprove of. The conspiracy theory typically identifies the conspirators, provides evidence that supposedly links them together with an evil plan to harm the body politic, and may also point to a supposed cover up by authorities or media who should have stopped the conspiracy. The duty of the theorist is to pick from a myriad of facts and assumptions and reassemble them to form a picture of the conspiracy, as in a jigsaw puzzle. A theorist may publicly identify specific conspirators, and if they deny the allegations that is evidence they have been sworn to secrecy and are probably guilty."

Similar, agreed, but with noteworthy differences.

SolontoCroesus > , September 5, 2016 at 4:12 pm GMT

@Decius Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss.

The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall--and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you?--is on Thoughts on Machiavelli . Strauss does so, first and foremost, because conspiracy is a major theme of Machiavelli's and the subject of the two longest chapters of his two most important books ( Prince 19 and Discourses III 6). Strauss further develops the idea that modern philosophy begins as a conspiracy between Machiavelli and (some of) his readers. Strauss simply never said anything like this:

Meanwhile, Strauss, a founding figure in modern neo-conservative thought, was equally harsh in his attacks upon conspiracy analysis, but for polar-opposite reasons. In his mind, elite conspiracies were absolutely necessary and beneficial, a crucial social defense against anarchy or totalitarianism, but their effectiveness obviously depended upon keeping them hidden from the prying eyes of the ignorant masses. His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.
As for his relationship with neoconservatism, you also overstate that considerably. Yes, there are many neoconservative Straussians. But there are also Straussian paleos, tradcons, liberatarians, liberals, and moderates. There are many who are apolitical and interested only in abstract philosophy. There are Straussian religious conservatives, agnostics and atheists. Christians, Jews and Muslim. Catholic, Protestants and Mormons. The neocons just get all the attention--owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration, which everyone today believes without having read, or even being aware of (have/are you?).

If "neocon" has any meaning, it means, first, a former intellectual liberal who has drifted right. Second, a domestic policy scholar who focuses on data-driven social science. And third, a foreign policy hawk.

None of these really apply to Strauss, who spent his who career studying political philosophy, with an intense focus on the Greeks. He voted Dem in every election in which he could vote, until his last, 1972, when he voted for Nixon out of Cold War concerns. You might say that makes him a "hawk" but he never wrote any essays saying so. He simply told a few people privately that McGovern was too naïve about the Soviets. You might also say that is evidence that he "drifted right" but he didn't think so. He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death. As for data-driven social science, he famously attacked it in of the very few of his writings that ever got any attention in mainstream political science ("An Epilogue").

You may well be right about the CIA's role in popularizing the phrase "conspiracy theory." But Leo Strauss had nothing to do with it. Or, if he did, he hid his role exceptionally well, because there is no evidence of such in his writings. C Bradley Thompson was educated/trained as a Straussian neoconservative, then got mugged by reality and started to re-assess his own philosophical orientation.

One of the most interesting points Thompson makes in this discussion of his book, Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea, occurs in the Q&A segment when he demonstrates that Strauss was, indeed, an acolyte of Nazi philosopher Carl Schmitt

Laurel > , September 5, 2016 at 4:22 pm GMT

The best strategy is to foster implausible conspiracy theories to create a cloud of disinformation. This technique was used very effectively after 9/11, such that it's very hard to discuss a coverup without being labeled a truther.

SolontoCroesus > , September 5, 2016 at 4:24 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus C Bradley Thompson was educated/trained as a Straussian neoconservative, then got mugged by reality and started to re-assess his own philosophical orientation.

One of the most interesting points Thompson makes in this discussion of his book, Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea, occurs in the Q&A segment when he demonstrates that Strauss was, indeed, an acolyte of Nazi philosopher Carl Schmitt

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Oh6DmjQaho @ 12 min, Thompson asserts that "Leo Strauss was the most important influence on Irving Kristol's intellectual development. My book reveals for the first time the importance of Kristol's 1952 review of Strauss's Persecution and the Art of Writing . For me this is the Rosetta Stone . . .for understanding the deepest layer of neoconservative political philosophy."

It should also be noted that Irving Kristol was sponsored by -- on the payroll of – the CIA while still in Britain. Kristol has acknowledged that CIA support got his movement off the ground.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 4:25 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus C Bradley Thompson was educated/trained as a Straussian neoconservative, then got mugged by reality and started to re-assess his own philosophical orientation.

One of the most interesting points Thompson makes in this discussion of his book, Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea, occurs in the Q&A segment when he demonstrates that Strauss was, indeed, an acolyte of Nazi philosopher Carl Schmitt

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Oh6DmjQaho No. Strauss and Schmitt were friendly in the 1930s but Strauss was critical of Schmitt's work even then and said so. Schmitt himself said that Strauss had "seen right through" his arguments. Strauss was no acolyte of Schmitt's, he was a greater and deeper thinker and Schmitt -- something Schmitt himself acknowledged.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 4:42 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus @ 12 min, Thompson asserts that "Leo Strauss was the most important influence on Irving Kristol's intellectual development. My book reveals for the first time the importance of Kristol's 1952 review of Strauss's Persecution and the Art of Writing . For me this is the Rosetta Stone . . .for understanding the deepest layer of neoconservative political philosophy."

---

It should also be noted that Irving Kristol was sponsored by -- on the payroll of - the CIA while still in Britain. Kristol has acknowledged that CIA support got his movement off the ground. So what? That's one guy. How do we even know Kristol interpreted Strauss correctly? Kristol's concerns–data-driven social science–were not Strauss's. And so on and on.

But all that is a re-frame anyway. The charge from Unz is that Strauss is responsible, partly, for the way Americans think about conspiracy today because Strauss advocated for elite conspiracy. That's false and Unz can't back it up.

5371 > , September 5, 2016 at 4:45 pm GMT

@Decius No. Strauss and Schmitt were friendly in the 1930s but Strauss was critical of Schmitt's work even then and said so. Schmitt himself said that Strauss had "seen right through" his arguments. Strauss was no acolyte of Schmitt's, he was a greater and deeper thinker and Schmitt--something Schmitt himself acknowledged. This is complete nonsense. Schmitt is a powerful and original thinker, Strauss a weak and derivative one whose real sweet spot was academic politics.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 4:54 pm GMT

@5371 This is complete nonsense. Schmitt is a powerful and original thinker, Strauss a weak and derivative one whose real sweet spot was academic politics. Schmitt disagreed with you.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 4:59 pm GMT

@5371 This is complete nonsense. Schmitt is a powerful and original thinker, Strauss a weak and derivative one whose real sweet spot was academic politics. At any rate it's sort of absurd to watch you people chase your tails. All that you "know" or think you know is that Strauss is bad. But Schmitt is good. But Strauss is derivative of Schmitt. Doesn't that make Strauss good, or Schmitt bad?

Schmitt is famous for arguing in favor of the essential particularity of politics -- i.e., against alleged neocon universalism. So if Strauss is derivative of Schmitt, how can he be a neocon universalist?

Strauss in fact agrees with Schmitt on the essential particularity of politics and says so, but finds a deeper source, with deeper arguments, in Plato. Schmitt admitted that his own attempt to fortify his particularism was build on the quick-sandy foundation of modern rationalism, which Strauss taught him to see through.

Hibernian > , September 5, 2016 at 5:02 pm GMT

@anonymous Pearl Harbor (covered in "Day of Deceit") is good starting point. I strongly encourage Mr. Unz to read Robert Stinnet's book next before moving on.

FDR never intended that 2,400 Americans would die there. He just thought that if Japan "struck first", he could justify our entry into WWII to the public. What's really fascinating (and almost wholly unknown) is the sequence of events and headlines from December 8 to December 11, 1941, the date Hitler declared war on the USA.

While Pearl Harbor meant war with Japan, it did not necessarily guarantee war with Nazi Germany. For 72 hours, no one could be sure that Germany would declare war on us. Did FDR manipulate events post-Pearl Harbor to ensure it did happen? "FDR never intended that 2,400 Americans would die there."

Did he think our forces at Pearl, lacking needed intelligence, would limit the losses to a lesser number?

SolontoCroesus > , September 5, 2016 at 5:07 pm GMT

@Decius So what? That's one guy. How do we even know Kristol interpreted Strauss correctly? Kristol's concerns -- data-driven social science -- were not Strauss's. And so on and on.

But all that is a re-frame anyway. The charge from Unz is that Strauss is responsible, partly, for the way Americans think about conspiracy today because Strauss advocated for elite conspiracy. That's false and Unz can't back it up.

The charge from Unz is that Strauss is responsible, partly, for the way Americans think about conspiracy today because Strauss advocated for elite conspiracy. That's false and Unz can't back it up.

Can't back it up or has not done so, so far?

The day is young . . . the moon has not yet appeared in the eastern sky.

Carlton Meyer > , Website September 5, 2016 at 5:20 pm GMT

Some conspiracies are eventually acknowledged. For recent examples, our government finally admitted that our CIA overthrew the government of Iran in the 1950s. The sinking of the Lusitania because it carried tons of munitions and weapons during WW I has been mostly accepted since 1982, after the sunken ship was discovered and searched by divers. For example, Encyclopedia Britannica:

"The Lusitania was carrying a cargo of rifle ammunition and shells (together about 173 tons), and the Germans, who had circulated warnings that the ship would be sunk, felt themselves fully justified in attacking a vessel that was furthering the war aims of their enemy. The German government also felt that, in view of the vulnerability of U-boats while on the surface and the British announcement of intentions to arm merchant ships, prior warning of potential targets was impractical."

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Lusitania-British-ship

One of the newest has got little attention, the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, who was a computer guy leaking info to Wikileaks.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/08/10/assange-implies-murdered-dnc-staffer-was-wikileaks-source.html

If we truly had aggressive news competition in the USA, this story would remain in the headlines, but of course its implications are not acceptable. However, stories about Russian hackers persist with no hard evidence.

JL > , September 5, 2016 at 5:27 pm GMT

@John Jeremiah Smith

The rise of Trump, in the face of a completely and uniformly hostile media, suggests that a large part of the American public, consciously or not, now completely rejects entire media narratives and assumes the exact opposite to be true. And they're panicking.
Are they? Or, have they simply fired the first few rounds of easily-dispatched, easily-targeted artillery? I do note that this is the most massive full-court press in support of the oligarchy that I have ever seen. But, I sense that political wars have moved from the court of public opinion and perception, into the courtyards of the moneyed elite. Inasmuch as no rich person has ever believed that he or she has enough money and power, the national political conflict is now composed solely of issues that affect the wealth and power of the 0.1%, which is itself segmented into areas of economic focus and varying forms of wealth acquisition. For example, if air transport systems threaten the wealth and power of ocean-based shipping, that competition between oligarchs will morph into politically-expressed contexts.

There is absolutely no concern, anywhere within the dominion of the 0.1%, with human values, human rights, or any of that sort of ethically-principled hoo-hoo. I suppose my comment came off somewhat like unbridled, naive optimism. Your points are unquestionably valid, however, and I am disinclined to argue. Of course Trump represents the interests of certain groups of elites and is not merely the essence of a popular movement. I'll be honest, though, I'm having a tough time determining who these groups are, exactly.

Just like with Brexit, these events don't happen without powerful manipulation from somewhere within the 0.1%. Still, it's tough for me to imagine what a Trump presidency will even look like. Who will be in his cabinet, from what backgrounds will they come?

There is absolutely no concern, anywhere within the dominion of the 0.1%, with human values, human rights, or any of that sort of ethically-principled hoo-hoo.

Certainly not. What are fundamentally important questions for us are merely means to an end for them.

Jeffrey S. > , Website September 5, 2016 at 5:31 pm GMT

Beard was an interesting guy, but's let's not forget that his central thesis regarding the founding of this country doesn't hold up to historical scrutiny:

http://www.libertylawsite.org/2014/10/10/charles-beard-living-legend-or-archaic-icon/

Meanwhile, I think it helps to think about conspiracies philosophically ! rigorous thought can help clear up sloppy thinking (which is found in many such theories):

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/01/trouble-with-conspiracy-theories.html

Mulegino1 > , September 5, 2016 at 5:35 pm GMT

With respect to conspiracies, there are two equally absurd extreme views which distract from reality: one is the childish rejection of all conspiracy theories and the other the childish belief that every appreciable newsworthy event with a political, economic or social impact is the result of a nefarious conspiracy. The truth, of course, is to be found in the middle....

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 5:43 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus

The charge from Unz is that Strauss is responsible, partly, for the way Americans think about conspiracy today because Strauss advocated for elite conspiracy. That's false and Unz can't back it up.
Can't back it up or has not done so, so far? The day is young . . . the moon has not yet appeared in the eastern sky. I know Strauss's books. I am guessing that Unz does not because if he did, he would not attribute to Strauss what he did. At any rate, even if Unz does know the books, I fail to see what passages he could cite to support the paragraph that I highlighted. As noted, the claim sounds vaguely derivative of Drury, who hates Strauss (and gets everything wrong) but even she doesn't quite say what Unz says.
Ron Unz > , September 5, 2016 at 5:44 pm GMT

@Decius Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss.

The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall--and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you?--is on Thoughts on Machiavelli . Strauss does so, first and foremost, because conspiracy is a major theme of Machiavelli's and the subject of the two longest chapters of his two most important books ( Prince 19 and Discourses III 6). Strauss further develops the idea that modern philosophy begins as a conspiracy between Machiavelli and (some of) his readers. Strauss simply never said anything like this:

Meanwhile, Strauss, a founding figure in modern neo-conservative thought, was equally harsh in his attacks upon conspiracy analysis, but for polar-opposite reasons. In his mind, elite conspiracies were absolutely necessary and beneficial, a crucial social defense against anarchy or totalitarianism, but their effectiveness obviously depended upon keeping them hidden from the prying eyes of the ignorant masses. His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.
As for his relationship with neoconservatism, you also overstate that considerably. Yes, there are many neoconservative Straussians. But there are also Straussian paleos, tradcons, liberatarians, liberals, and moderates. There are many who are apolitical and interested only in abstract philosophy. There are Straussian religious conservatives, agnostics and atheists. Christians, Jews and Muslim. Catholic, Protestants and Mormons. The neocons just get all the attention--owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration, which everyone today believes without having read, or even being aware of (have/are you?).

If "neocon" has any meaning, it means, first, a former intellectual liberal who has drifted right. Second, a domestic policy scholar who focuses on data-driven social science. And third, a foreign policy hawk.

None of these really apply to Strauss, who spent his who career studying political philosophy, with an intense focus on the Greeks. He voted Dem in every election in which he could vote, until his last, 1972, when he voted for Nixon out of Cold War concerns. You might say that makes him a "hawk" but he never wrote any essays saying so. He simply told a few people privately that McGovern was too naïve about the Soviets. You might also say that is evidence that he "drifted right" but he didn't think so. He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death. As for data-driven social science, he famously attacked it in of the very few of his writings that ever got any attention in mainstream political science ("An Epilogue").

You may well be right about the CIA's role in popularizing the phrase "conspiracy theory." But Leo Strauss had nothing to do with it. Or, if he did, he hid his role exceptionally well, because there is no evidence of such in his writings.

Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss. The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall–and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you? .The neocons just get all the attention–owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death.

I'll candidly admit I haven't read a single one of Strauss's own books, nor even that very influential James Atlas article you dislike so intensely. Instead, I was merely summarizing the extensive arguments of Prof. deHaven-Smith, who, as a prominent political scientist, is presumably quite familiar with Strauss, though I don't doubt that his views might differ considerably from your own.

But on your second point, I do remember seeing a very amusing private letter of Strauss that came to light about a decade or so ago. Written shortly after his arrival in America, it was addressed to a fellow ultra-rightwing Jewish exile from Europe, and in it he praised fascism and (I think) Nazism to the skies, arguing that their regrettable deviation into "anti-Semitism" (which had precipitated his own personal exile from Germany) should in no way be considered a refutation of all the other wonderful aspects of those political doctrines. This leads me to wonder if Strauss was truly the "liberal" you suggest, or perhaps was instead engaging in exactly the sort of "ideological crypsis" that seems such an important part of his political philosophy

It's likely my faulty memory may have garbled important aspects of the letter I mention, and given your expertise on Straussian issues, I'm sure you should be able to locate it and easily correct me.

Mulegino1 > , September 5, 2016 at 5:48 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus

Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in.
Is this built-in deceit and manipulation unique to American life, or -- beyond the usual understandings about human nature -- is the systematic or institutionalized "deceit and manipulation" present in all cultures? in western cultures? in some but not all cultures? If the lattermost, in which cultures is "deceit and manipulation" less systematic and institutionalized?

Was "deceit and manipulation" institutionalized into American life from the beginning -- by the Founders, or did USA deviate from its intended path at some point? If so, at what point? How did it happen?

Is there the possibility of redemption? To my mind, the real point of deviation in the history of the United States is the Spanish American War, and the transformation of America from a tellurocratic to a thallasocratic power. America's traditional role had been that of a vast, continental, land based power, eschewing intervention in the affairs of Europe and the rest of the world outside the Western Hemisphere. (This is largely the reason that the Russian Czar allied with the Union in the American Civil War).

Unfortunately, America's traditional tellurocratic role was abandonded – thanks to the likes of Admiral ("Victory through Sea Power") Mahan, John Hay, and the loopy Teddy Roosevelt, inter alia – and the nation went on to embrace the role of international arbiter and busybody, and became insatiable in the pursuit of empire, with catastrophic results for the world.

Sam Shama > , September 5, 2016 at 5:59 pm GMT

@5371 This is a good piece which deserved an acceptable level of mental hygiene in the comment section. Unfortunately, two of the first nine comments are from morons spamming their "no lunar landing" drivel. In all probability the "no nuclear weapons" clowns will also be here imminently. Oh well, a delicious sweet dish will attract a fly as much as a gourmet. [Oh well, a delicious sweet dish will attract a fly as much as a gourmet.]

LOL. I'll compile a mental list of both. Aren't the comments missing someone btw?

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 6:00 pm GMT

@Ron Unz

Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss. The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall–and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you?....The neocons just get all the attention–owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration...He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death.
I'll candidly admit I haven't read a single one of Strauss's own books, nor even that very influential James Atlas article you dislike so intensely. Instead, I was merely summarizing the extensive arguments of Prof. deHaven-Smith, who, as a prominent political scientist, is presumably quite familiar with Strauss, though I don't doubt that his views might differ considerably from your own.

But on your second point, I do remember seeing a very amusing private letter of Strauss that came to light about a decade or so ago. Written shortly after his arrival in America, it was addressed to a fellow ultra-rightwing Jewish exile from Europe, and in it he praised fascism and (I think) Nazism to the skies, arguing that their regrettable deviation into "anti-Semitism" (which had precipitated his own personal exile from Germany) should in no way be considered a refutation of all the other wonderful aspects of those political doctrines. This leads me to wonder if Strauss was truly the "liberal" you suggest, or perhaps was instead engaging in exactly the sort of "ideological crypsis" that seems such an important part of his political philosophy...

It's likely my faulty memory may have garbled important aspects of the letter I mention, and given your expertise on Straussian issues, I'm sure you should be able to locate it and easily correct me. The letter you are referring to is a letter to Karl Lowith from 1933. The most sustained–not to say serious–attempt to make it say that Strauss is coming out as a fascist has been the work of William Altman. I don't think he even comes close to making his case.

The letter can more charitably and reasonably read as a frank acknowledgement of the failure of Weimar liberalism and of liberalism generally precisely to take into account nationalist sentiment but instead to "universalize" all particulars without due attention to differing conditions, circumstances, "matter," and so on. In other words, Strauss is defending the "concept of the political" both from liberal universalism and from the simple-minded identification of particularism (or nationalism) with fascism. Sound familiar? All nationalist sentiment is fascism, Trump is a Nazi, and so on. An "argument" as old as hills and which Strauss saw through immediately.

Once again, though, the tail is chased. How can Strauss be both a universalist neo-con and a particularist-nationalist-fascist at the same time? The only common thread is: Strauss is bad.

In my view, Strauss is good. More to the point, I find stronger intellectual support in Strauss for my own nationalist leanings and pro-Trumpism than I find in any other intellectual source of any depth. I am in the minority among Straussians in thinking so, but I am not alone. Morevoer, I think in open debate, I have a stronger case for Straussian particularism than others can make for Straussian universalism.

And, not incidentally, none of this points to any such views on conspiracy as you put into Strauss's mouth.

Robard > , September 5, 2016 at 6:04 pm GMT

If government doesn't believe in conspiracies, why have secret services in the first place? Either they want to thwart conspiracies or they are creating their own or both.

Jacques Sheete > , September 5, 2016 at 6:24 pm GMT

@Ron Unz

Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss. The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall–and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you?....The neocons just get all the attention–owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration...He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death.
I'll candidly admit I haven't read a single one of Strauss's own books, nor even that very influential James Atlas article you dislike so intensely. Instead, I was merely summarizing the extensive arguments of Prof. deHaven-Smith, who, as a prominent political scientist, is presumably quite familiar with Strauss, though I don't doubt that his views might differ considerably from your own.

But on your second point, I do remember seeing a very amusing private letter of Strauss that came to light about a decade or so ago. Written shortly after his arrival in America, it was addressed to a fellow ultra-rightwing Jewish exile from Europe, and in it he praised fascism and (I think) Nazism to the skies, arguing that their regrettable deviation into "anti-Semitism" (which had precipitated his own personal exile from Germany) should in no way be considered a refutation of all the other wonderful aspects of those political doctrines. This leads me to wonder if Strauss was truly the "liberal" you suggest, or perhaps was instead engaging in exactly the sort of "ideological crypsis" that seems such an important part of his political philosophy...

It's likely my faulty memory may have garbled important aspects of the letter I mention, and given your expertise on Straussian issues, I'm sure you should be able to locate it and easily correct me. While I've read nothing by Prof. deHaven-Smith, from what you've written, he and DiLorenzo would probably agree.

Here's a short but readable eval of Strauss' ideas, and DiLorenzo is one academician whom I somewhat trust.:

Moronic Intellectuals
By Thomas DiLorenzo

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2004/09/thomas-woods/the-neocon-godfather/

John Jeremiah Smith > , September 5, 2016 at 6:29 pm GMT

@JL I suppose my comment came off somewhat like unbridled, naive optimism. Your points are unquestionably valid, however, and I am disinclined to argue. Of course Trump represents the interests of certain groups of elites and is not merely the essence of a popular movement. I'll be honest, though, I'm having a tough time determining who these groups are, exactly.

Just like with Brexit, these events don't happen without powerful manipulation from somewhere within the 0.1%. Still, it's tough for me to imagine what a Trump presidency will even look like. Who will be in his cabinet, from what backgrounds will they come?


There is absolutely no concern, anywhere within the dominion of the 0.1%, with human values, human rights, or any of that sort of ethically-principled hoo-hoo.
Certainly not. What are fundamentally important questions for us are merely means to an end for them.

Of course Trump represents the interests of certain groups of elites and is not merely the essence of a popular movement. I'll be honest, though, I'm having a tough time determining who these groups are, exactly.

Yes, and how many players, each with what orientation and degree of focus? The 0.1% population contains 10,000 – 50,00o potential players, globally.

It is my opinion that the extremely-high degree of corruption, within the mighty engine of resource consumption and bribery that is the US government, contributes greatly to the "big picture" of ongoing conflict among the members of the oligarchy.

Pat Casey > , September 5, 2016 at 6:31 pm GMT

@Decius Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss.

The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall--and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you?--is on Thoughts on Machiavelli . Strauss does so, first and foremost, because conspiracy is a major theme of Machiavelli's and the subject of the two longest chapters of his two most important books ( Prince 19 and Discourses III 6). Strauss further develops the idea that modern philosophy begins as a conspiracy between Machiavelli and (some of) his readers. Strauss simply never said anything like this:


Meanwhile, Strauss, a founding figure in modern neo-conservative thought, was equally harsh in his attacks upon conspiracy analysis, but for polar-opposite reasons. In his mind, elite conspiracies were absolutely necessary and beneficial, a crucial social defense against anarchy or totalitarianism, but their effectiveness obviously depended upon keeping them hidden from the prying eyes of the ignorant masses. His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.
As for his relationship with neoconservatism, you also overstate that considerably. Yes, there are many neoconservative Straussians. But there are also Straussian paleos, tradcons, liberatarians, liberals, and moderates. There are many who are apolitical and interested only in abstract philosophy. There are Straussian religious conservatives, agnostics and atheists. Christians, Jews and Muslim. Catholic, Protestants and Mormons. The neocons just get all the attention--owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration, which everyone today believes without having read, or even being aware of (have/are you?).

If "neocon" has any meaning, it means, first, a former intellectual liberal who has drifted right. Second, a domestic policy scholar who focuses on data-driven social science. And third, a foreign policy hawk.

None of these really apply to Strauss, who spent his who career studying political philosophy, with an intense focus on the Greeks. He voted Dem in every election in which he could vote, until his last, 1972, when he voted for Nixon out of Cold War concerns. You might say that makes him a "hawk" but he never wrote any essays saying so. He simply told a few people privately that McGovern was too naïve about the Soviets. You might also say that is evidence that he "drifted right" but he didn't think so. He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death. As for data-driven social science, he famously attacked it in of the very few of his writings that ever got any attention in mainstream political science ("An Epilogue").

You may well be right about the CIA's role in popularizing the phrase "conspiracy theory." But Leo Strauss had nothing to do with it. Or, if he did, he hid his role exceptionally well, because there is no evidence of such in his writings. Actually I don't think Ron is so far off. And I think, at best, you must be overeducated. Strauss held that authentic philosophy is a conspiracy . From there, certain practical advice about how to carry out the philosophy of the true philosopher follows. Such advice would about seem to be how Ron said it was.

I have not read the essay by Atlas. But for the duration of the Bush Administration I did read the Weekly Standard. I recall in particular one time when the editors recommended what books to bring to the beach, and Bill Kristol said "anything by Leo Strauss." My impression is that the Weekly Standard's brazen propaganda back then was the way certain editors understood themselves to be acting like Strauss's true disciples.

And of course now Krystol is hocking a former spook to run against Trump in Utah.

Ron Unz > , September 5, 2016 at 6:34 pm GMT

@Decius The letter you are referring to is a letter to Karl Lowith from 1933. The most sustained--not to say serious--attempt to make it say that Strauss is coming out as a fascist has been the work of William Altman. I don't think he even comes close to making his case.

The letter can more charitably and reasonably read as a frank acknowledgement of the failure of Weimar liberalism and of liberalism generally precisely to take into account nationalist sentiment but instead to "universalize" all particulars without due attention to differing conditions, circumstances, "matter," and so on. In other words, Strauss is defending the "concept of the political" both from liberal universalism and from the simple-minded identification of particularism (or nationalism) with fascism. Sound familiar? All nationalist sentiment is fascism, Trump is a Nazi, and so on. An "argument" as old as hills and which Strauss saw through immediately.

Once again, though, the tail is chased. How can Strauss be both a universalist neo-con and a particularist-nationalist-fascist at the same time? The only common thread is: Strauss is bad.

In my view, Strauss is good. More to the point, I find stronger intellectual support in Strauss for my own nationalist leanings and pro-Trumpism than I find in any other intellectual source of any depth. I am in the minority among Straussians in thinking so, but I am not alone. Morevoer, I think in open debate, I have a stronger case for Straussian particularism than others can make for Straussian universalism.

And, not incidentally, none of this points to any such views on conspiracy as you put into Strauss's mouth.

The letter you are referring to is a letter to Karl Lowith from 1933. The most sustained–not to say serious–attempt to make it say that Strauss is coming out as a fascist has been the work of William Altman.

Well, I decided I might as well google up the letter, and found this extended discussion in Harpers by someone who clearly dislikes Strauss and the Neocons, with a link to a full translation of Strauss's controversial missive.

http://harpers.org/blog/2008/01/will-the-real-leo-strauss-please-stand-up/

Offhand, it does indeed seem like I misremembered some of the details. Strauss apparently didn't seem to like the Nazis very much, but it certainly sounds like he had positive feelings towards the Fascists. In any event, the following excerpt makes me wonder whether he was actually a "liberal," or merely pretended to be since his income probably depended upon liberal donors and institutions

And, what concerns this matter: the fact that the new right-wing Germany does not tolerate us says nothing against the principles of the right. To the contrary: only from the principles of the right, that is from fascist, authoritarian and imperial principles, is it possible with seemliness, that is, without resort to the ludicrous and despicable appeal to the droits imprescriptibles de l'homme(5) to protest against the shabby abomination There is no reason to crawl to the cross, neither to the cross of liberalism, as long as somewhere in the world there is a glimmer of the spark of the Roman thought.

Buzz Mohawk > , September 5, 2016 at 6:48 pm GMT

By reading Ron's American Pravda series of columns, I am learning things that otherwise I would not have known. I am developing a clearer understanding of the real truth . This is an important contribution to my understanding of of reality! And I trust this because of the quality and earnestness of the source. This is all very much appreciated.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 6:50 pm GMT

@Ron Unz

The letter you are referring to is a letter to Karl Lowith from 1933. The most sustained–not to say serious–attempt to make it say that Strauss is coming out as a fascist has been the work of William Altman.
Well, I decided I might as well google up the letter, and found this extended discussion in Harpers by someone who clearly dislikes Strauss and the Neocons, with a link to a full translation of Strauss's controversial missive.

http://harpers.org/blog/2008/01/will-the-real-leo-strauss-please-stand-up/

Offhand, it does indeed seem like I misremembered some of the details. Strauss apparently didn't seem to like the Nazis very much, but it certainly sounds like he had positive feelings towards the Fascists. In any event, the following excerpt makes me wonder whether he was actually a "liberal," or merely pretended to be since his income probably depended upon liberal donors and institutions...

And, what concerns this matter: the fact that the new right-wing Germany does not tolerate us says nothing against the principles of the right. To the contrary: only from the principles of the right, that is from fascist, authoritarian and imperial principles, is it possible with seemliness, that is, without resort to the ludicrous and despicable appeal to the droits imprescriptibles de l'homme(5) to protest against the shabby abomination...There is no reason to crawl to the cross, neither to the cross of liberalism, as long as somewhere in the world there is a glimmer of the spark of the Roman thought.
What is a liberal? That's not a troll question. Strauss was above all a Socratic and Socratic philosophy begins with "what is" questions. One of Strauss's books is entitled Liberalism Ancient and Modern .

Strauss was apparently a liberal in the US context in that he mostly voted for Dems. He also wrote one acerbically critical letter to National Review.

However, a mid-20th-century American liberal may have been many things, but unpatriotic or nationalistic they were not. When liberalism turned with McGovern, Strauss looked elsewhere, and then died a year later, so we don't know how his political outlook would, or would not, have changed longer term. But at least in the 40s-60s, he was quite OK with Cold War American liberals. That's perfectly consistent with the nationalist sentiment expressed in the letter to Lowith. Also, Strauss was appalled by the dissoluteness of Weimar–and would become appalled by the dissoluteness of the late 1960s. But America prior was not yet dissolute. And he was appalled by Weimar's weakness. But America pre-Vietnam was not weak. Again, perfectly consistent with the letter.

Strauss supported the Cold War because he thought the USSR was a real threat in the near term and because he feared, on a higher plane, the imposition of "the universal and homogenous state." He was opposed to that, whereas those to his left were for it. So was he conservative?

Strauss transcends all these distinctions. That's not to say that they are meaningless. Indeed, he would be the first to say that they are meaningful. But, like Tocqueville, Strauss aimed to see not differently but further than the parties.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 6:54 pm GMT

@Pat Casey Actually I don't think Ron is so far off. And I think, at best, you must be overeducated. Strauss held that authentic philosophy is a conspiracy . From there, certain practical advice about how to carry out the philosophy of the true philosopher follows. Such advice would about seem to be how Ron said it was.

I have not read the essay by Atlas. But for the duration of the Bush Administration I did read the Weekly Standard. I recall in particular one time when the editors recommended what books to bring to the beach, and Bill Kristol said "anything by Leo Strauss." My impression is that the Weekly Standard's brazen propaganda back then was the way certain editors understood themselves to be acting like Strauss's true disciples.

And of course now Krystol is hocking a former spook to run against Trump in Utah. The reduction of Strauss and all his concerns to TWS is not serious. Yes, Bill K loves Strauss. That really doesn't prove much about Strauss either way. I believe, though of course cannot prove since Strauss can't speak, that Strauss would have opposed the Iraq War. He would have seen it as imprudent and prudence is the supreme virtue of the statesman.

You are sort of right about philosophy being a conspiracy, but wrong in the second half. MODERN philosophy attempts to take the conspiracy public, so to speak, to act in the real world. Ancient philosophy did not, or did so in a very limited, mitigating way, always with caution, moderation, prudence, and a lack of messianic hopes or intentions. Strauss argued his whole life for the superiority of the ancients to the moderns on this point (and on other points).

Yngvar > , September 5, 2016 at 6:59 pm GMT

So as a means of damage control, the CIA distributed a secret memo to all its field offices requesting that they enlist their media assets in efforts to ridicule and attack such critics as irrational supporters of "conspiracy theories."

And what do you know, the term "conspiracy theories" was non-existent in books before JFK's assassination but took off right after, according to Google's Ngram Viewer: https://is.gd/GYioQZ

utu > , September 5, 2016 at 7:38 pm GMT

@Decius The reduction of Strauss and all his concerns to TWS is not serious. Yes, Bill K loves Strauss. That really doesn't prove much about Strauss either way. I believe, though of course cannot prove since Strauss can't speak, that Strauss would have opposed the Iraq War. He would have seen it as imprudent and prudence is the supreme virtue of the statesman.

You are sort of right about philosophy being a conspiracy, but wrong in the second half. MODERN philosophy attempts to take the conspiracy public, so to speak, to act in the real world. Ancient philosophy did not, or did so in a very limited, mitigating way, always with caution, moderation, prudence, and a lack of messianic hopes or intentions. Strauss argued his whole life for the superiority of the ancients to the moderns on this point (and on other points). Unless you give some evidence that Strauss was a Reptilian or at least that he was a skeptic about the Moon landing there is no need for further discussion on Strauss here.

Erik Sieven > , September 5, 2016 at 7:40 pm GMT

@Kirt Conspiracy is simply a plan or agreement by more than one person to do something evil and then the pursuit of that plan. Secrecy may be needed for the success of a conspiracy, but it is not essential to the definition. Were it essential to the definition, you could never prove the existence of a conspiracy. Either secrecy would be maintained and there would be little or no evidence or secrecy would not be maintained and the plan would become known and by definition not be a conspiracy. "Conspiracy is simply a plan or agreement by more than one person to do something evil and then the pursuit of that plan." but probably everything think that what he does is good, not evil

art guerrilla > , Website September 5, 2016 at 8:10 pm GMT

@Chief Seattle So, a conspiracy theory is a theory without media backing. There's no better recent example of this than when the DNC emails were released by wikileaks during their convention. The story put forth was that Russian hackers were responsible, and were trying to throw the election to their buddy Trump. The evidence for this? Zero. And yet it became a plausible explanation in the media, overnight.

Maybe it's true, maybe not, but if the roles had been reversed, the media would be telling its proponents to take off their tin foil hats. ahhh, but 'Russkie!/squirrel!' worked, didn't it ? ? ?
virtually NOTHING about the actual content of the emails
what was hysterical, was a followup not too long afterwards, where pelosi 'warned' that there might be a whole raft of other emails which said bad stuff and stuff, and, um, they were -like- probably, um, all, uh, fake and stuff
it really is a funny tragi-comedy, isn't it ? ? ?
then why am i crying inside

Pat Casey > , September 5, 2016 at 8:35 pm GMT

@Decius The reduction of Strauss and all his concerns to TWS is not serious. Yes, Bill K loves Strauss. That really doesn't prove much about Strauss either way. I believe, though of course cannot prove since Strauss can't speak, that Strauss would have opposed the Iraq War. He would have seen it as imprudent and prudence is the supreme virtue of the statesman.

You are sort of right about philosophy being a conspiracy, but wrong in the second half. MODERN philosophy attempts to take the conspiracy public, so to speak, to act in the real world. Ancient philosophy did not, or did so in a very limited, mitigating way, always with caution, moderation, prudence, and a lack of messianic hopes or intentions. Strauss argued his whole life for the superiority of the ancients to the moderns on this point (and on other points).

The reduction of Strauss and all his concerns to TWS is not serious.

That's not what I did. Don't do that. You seemed to be saying the neo-cons do not hail from the school of Strauss as this Atlas fellow said they did. I was saying they do, according to them.

It was pretty obvious back then that the weekly standard was acting as an organ of the bush administration more than a member of the media. I remember there was even a tepid discussion about how we as journalist should feel about these fellas with one foot in the media and one foot in the politics. Does that have anything to do with the style Strauss bespoke? My understanding is that Strauss addressed his philosophy not to Princes but certain among the reading public. That turns out to first of all mean political journalists who will sacrifice the integrity of their profession for the sake of a particular kind of proud story about the USA polity and its villains. Yes I do think people like Bill Krystol and Michael Ledeen saw themselves in terms as dramatic as that.

You are sort of right about philosophy being a conspiracy, but wrong in the second half. MODERN philosophy attempts to take the conspiracy public, so to speak, to act in the real world. Ancient philosophy did not, or did so in a very limited, mitigating way, always with caution, moderation, prudence, and a lack of messianic hopes or intentions. Strauss argued his whole life for the superiority of the ancients to the moderns on this point (and on other points).

You mean I was right about Strauss having a conspiracy theory of philosophy. I didn't say anything about the second half. I read Paul Gottfried and I agree Strauss was a ridiculous scholar. Of course I believe you when you say in so many words that Strauss did not like philosophies that license mass movements of true believers. Full stop right there. Now we can count back from all them and make this an exercise in splitting hairs. What audience to be precise did Strauss exactly have in mind? Actually I don't think he deserves that much credit; I don't think he really knew who he was writing for.

Jacques Sheete > , September 5, 2016 at 9:43 pm GMT

@Pat Casey

The reduction of Strauss and all his concerns to TWS is not serious.
That's not what I did. Don't do that. You seemed to be saying the neo-cons do not hail from the school of Strauss as this Atlas fellow said they did. I was saying they do, according to them.

It was pretty obvious back then that the weekly standard was acting as an organ of the bush administration more than a member of the media. I remember there was even a tepid discussion about how we as journalist should feel about these fellas with one foot in the media and one foot in the politics. Does that have anything to do with the style Strauss bespoke? My understanding is that Strauss addressed his philosophy not to Princes but certain among the reading public. That turns out to first of all mean political journalists who will sacrifice the integrity of their profession for the sake of a particular kind of proud story about the USA polity and its villains. Yes I do think people like Bill Krystol and Michael Ledeen saw themselves in terms as dramatic as that.

You are sort of right about philosophy being a conspiracy, but wrong in the second half. MODERN philosophy attempts to take the conspiracy public, so to speak, to act in the real world. Ancient philosophy did not, or did so in a very limited, mitigating way, always with caution, moderation, prudence, and a lack of messianic hopes or intentions. Strauss argued his whole life for the superiority of the ancients to the moderns on this point (and on other points).
You mean I was right about Strauss having a conspiracy theory of philosophy. I didn't say anything about the second half. I read Paul Gottfried and I agree Strauss was a ridiculous scholar. Of course I believe you when you say in so many words that Strauss did not like philosophies that license mass movements of true believers. Full stop right there. Now we can count back from all them and make this an exercise in splitting hairs. What audience to be precise did Strauss exactly have in mind? Actually I don't think he deserves that much credit; I don't think he really knew who he was writing for.

I don't think he really knew who he was writing for.

Love it.

My theory is that they basically wrote anything that came to mind so long as no one could pin 'em down to specifics, allowed them to keep paying the bills , afforded them a chance to sound "profound," and to be somebody.

Pretty much all of the type are frauds and only fools (especially the pompous quasi-scientific, pseudo intellectual, ones) take 'em seriously. I agree that the ancients were much more honest but even they were recognized as BSers of high degree by the likes of Aristophanes and Lucian of Samosata to name only two. (I named them because they make particularly entertaining reading.)

I think the 20th century should be known as the Age of Pathetic Charlatans and I'm glad it's over. May it and the endless gaggle of cheap morons it spawned never return.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 10:12 pm GMT

@Pat Casey

The reduction of Strauss and all his concerns to TWS is not serious.
That's not what I did. Don't do that. You seemed to be saying the neo-cons do not hail from the school of Strauss as this Atlas fellow said they did. I was saying they do, according to them.

It was pretty obvious back then that the weekly standard was acting as an organ of the bush administration more than a member of the media. I remember there was even a tepid discussion about how we as journalist should feel about these fellas with one foot in the media and one foot in the politics. Does that have anything to do with the style Strauss bespoke? My understanding is that Strauss addressed his philosophy not to Princes but certain among the reading public. That turns out to first of all mean political journalists who will sacrifice the integrity of their profession for the sake of a particular kind of proud story about the USA polity and its villains. Yes I do think people like Bill Krystol and Michael Ledeen saw themselves in terms as dramatic as that.


You are sort of right about philosophy being a conspiracy, but wrong in the second half. MODERN philosophy attempts to take the conspiracy public, so to speak, to act in the real world. Ancient philosophy did not, or did so in a very limited, mitigating way, always with caution, moderation, prudence, and a lack of messianic hopes or intentions. Strauss argued his whole life for the superiority of the ancients to the moderns on this point (and on other points).
You mean I was right about Strauss having a conspiracy theory of philosophy. I didn't say anything about the second half. I read Paul Gottfried and I agree Strauss was a ridiculous scholar. Of course I believe you when you say in so many words that Strauss did not like philosophies that license mass movements of true believers. Full stop right there. Now we can count back from all them and make this an exercise in splitting hairs. What audience to be precise did Strauss exactly have in mind? Actually I don't think he deserves that much credit; I don't think he really knew who he was writing for. Kristol is a Straussian because he got a PhD in PolPhil from Harvard under Mansfield, who is a Straussian. There is no necessary connection between Strauss's thought any of the main tenets of Neo-conservatism. I've said, and you've all ignored, that Strauss attacked data-driven social science, which is the original hallmark of neo-conservatism. A later hallmark (which emerged after Strauss's death) was foreign policy hawkism. Unless you want to say that Strauss's opposition to the USSR makes him a neo-con, in which case every Cold War liberal going back to Truman was a neo-con. At which point the term has no meaning.

Strauss addresses scholars and potential philosophers. He has almost nothing to say about the transient issues of his age. Based on his comments on what other thinkers had to say about war (Thucydides above all) I believe we can infer that Strauss was generally in favor of preparedness and wariness but otherwise anti-war in the general sense. If we may analogize the Iraq War to the Sicilian Expedition we may say that Strauss probably would have opposed the former as imprudent, just as he tacitly endorses T's judgement that the latter was imprudent.

Strauss openly characterizes Machiavelli's approach to philosophy as a conspiracy, using that word, but does not say it about any other thinker. However, his teaching that philosophy is an inherently elite and very small enterprise may be fairly characterized as a "conspiracy." however, before modernity, the nature of the conspiracy was to protect the conspirators and the philosophic life, not a reform campaign. that's what it becomes under modernity, which Strauss opposes. One of Strauss's aims in writing was to revive the ancient idea of philosophy, its proper scope, and its proper relationship to society, which he believed modernity had corrupted.

It is unfortunate that Strauss became a bogey-man to so many who have no idea what he said or why. It happened rather recently and based on some very thin scholarship. Most of the thing people try to pin on him are things that I and my friends oppose too. We just know they don't trace to Strauss. In fact, the opposite is often true.

Konga > , September 5, 2016 at 10:17 pm GMT

@Miro23 The British and Americans have been the victims of conspiracies (False Flag operations) for years.

For example:

The Irgun bombing of the King David Hotel (headquarters of the British Mandate Government of Palestine) in which Zionist activists dressed as Arabs placed milk churns filled with explosives against the main columns of the building killing 91 people and injuring 44. Israeli prime Minister Netanyahu, attended a celebration to commemorate the event.

Operation Susannah (Lavon Affair) where Israeli operatives impersonating Arabs bombed British and American cinemas, libraries and educational centers in Egypt to destabilize the country and keep British troops committed to the Middle East.

Or June 8, 1967, the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty with unmarked aircraft and torpedo boats. 34 men were killed and 171 wounded, with the attack in international waters following over nine hours of close surveillance. When the ship failed to sink, the Israeli government concocted an elaborate story to cover the crime. Original plan to blame the sinking with all lives lost on the Egyptians and draw the US into the war.

Or Israelis and U.S. Zionists appearing all over the most recent WTC 9/11 "Operation" with Israelis once again impersonating Arabs in a historic deception/terror action of a type that seems to carry a lot of kudos with old Israeli ex-terrorist Likudniks. Israeli agents were sent to film the historic day (as they later admitted on Israeli TV), with the celebrations including photos of themselves with a background of the burning towers where thousands of Americans were being incinerated.

Iraq was destroyed as a result of 9/11 but unfortunately for the conspirators, the momentum wasn't sufficient for a general war including Iran. Also the general war would have included the nuclear angle and justified the activation of a neo-con led Emergency Regime (dictatorship) in the US enforced with the newly printed Patriot Act and Homeland Security troops - or maybe that's just another Conspiracy Theory? So true!
But you forgot the two missiles shot from a NATO naval and HQ base in Spain towards Damascus, shot down by the Russians (two weeks before the "agreement" on chemical weapons, remember?) and then attributed to Israel's drills turned wrong

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 10:17 pm GMT

A good book, BTW, is Robert Howse's Leo Strauss: Man of Peace . Howse is liberal, FWIW.

ten miles > , September 5, 2016 at 10:20 pm GMT

One resents (first), and eventually hates whom they have to lie to. In what regard would our elites, in our electoral democracy, hold us voters in (by now)?
Kinda answers itself doesn't it?

map > , September 5, 2016 at 11:03 pm GMT

Popper's point about conspiracy theories really makes no sense. This is the assumption that a conspiracy is like a start-up, one that requires lots of transparency to work because of the need to recruit members for the conspiracy. As soon as one member disagrees, the conspiracy falls apart.

The problem is that a conspiracy is not like a start-up. The purpose of the start-up is the start-up itself. The purpose of the conspiracy is not the conspiracy itself. Conspiracies are simply vehicles by which like minded people actually find each other. The secrecy is built-in because they are like-minded.

Kirt > , September 5, 2016 at 11:15 pm GMT

@Erik Sieven "Conspiracy is simply a plan or agreement by more than one person to do something evil and then the pursuit of that plan." but probably everything think that what he does is good, not evil "probably everything think that what he does is good, not evil"

Yeah, that's true. I think that it was Saint Thomas Aquinas who said that evil is always done under an aspect of good. Hence no one will consider himself a conspirator other than perhaps in a legal sense if he is aware that what he is doing is illegal. Apart from that the charge of conspiracy will always come from opponents; e.g. Hilly's charge of "a vast right-wing conspiracy".

Ron Unz > , September 5, 2016 at 11:27 pm GMT

@Paul Jolliffe Mr. Unz,

Here is a link to Carl Bernstein's definitive 1977 Rolling Stone article "CIA and the Media" in which he addresses - and confirms - your worst fears. You are very right, and no less a figure than Bernstein has said so for nearly four decades . . .

http://www.carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php

Here is a link to Carl Bernstein's definitive 1977 Rolling Stone article "CIA and the Media" in which he addresses – and confirms – your worst fears. You are very right, and no less a figure than Bernstein has said so for nearly four decades

Thanks so much for the excellent reference to the Bernstein article, of which I hadn't been aware. I found it fascinating, not least because of all the speculations floating around over the last decade or two that Bernstein's famed collaborator, Bob Woodward, had had an intelligence background, and perhaps Watergate represented a plot by elements of the CIA to remove Nixon from the White House. As for the 25,000 word article itself, I'd suggest that people read it. Since quite a lot of this comment-thread is already filled with debates about the supposed liberalism of Leo Strauss and an alleged Moon Landing Hoax, I might as well provide a few of the provocative extracts:

http://www.carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php

He was very eager, he loved to cooperate." On one occasion, according to several CIA officials, Sulzberger was given a briefing paper by the Agency which ran almost verbatim under the columnist's byline in the Times. "Cycame out and said, 'I'm thinking of doing a piece, can you give me some background?'" a CIA officer said. "We gave it to Cy as a background piece and Cy gave it to the printers and put his name on it." Sulzberger denies that any incident occurred. "A lot of baloney," he said.

[MORE]

Stewart Alsop's relationship with the Agency was much more extensive than Sulzberger's. One official who served at the highest levels in the CIA said flatly: "Stew Alsop was a CIA agent." An equally senior official refused to define Alsop's relationship with the Agency except to say it was a formal one. Other sources said that Alsop was particularly helpful to the Agency in discussions with, officials of foreign governments!asking questions to which the CIA was seeking answers, planting misinformation advantageous to American policy, assessing opportunities for CIA recruitment of well‑placed foreigners.

The New York Times. The Agency's relationship with the Times was by far its most valuable among newspapers, according to CIA officials. From 1950 to 1966, about ten CIA employees were provided Times cover under arrangements approved by the newspaper's late publisher, Arthur Hays Sulzberger. The cover arrangements were part of a general Times policy!set by Sulzberger!to provide assistance to the CIA whenever possible.

When Newsweek waspurchased by the Washington Post Company, publisher Philip L. Graham was informed by Agency officials that the CIA occasionally used the magazine for cover purposes, according to CIA sources. "It was widely known that Phil Graham was somebody you could get help from," said a former deputy director of the Agency. "Frank Wisner dealt with him." Wisner, deputy director of the CIA from 1950 until shortly before his suicide in 1965, was the Agency's premier orchestrator of "black" operations, including many in which journalists were involved. Wisner liked to boast of his "mighty Wurlitzer," a wondrous propaganda instrument he built, and played, with help from the press.) Phil Graham was probably Wisner's closest friend. But Graharn, who committed suicide in 1963, apparently knew little of the specifics of any cover arrangements with Newsweek, CIA sources said.

The Agency played an intriguing numbers game with the committee. Those who prepared the material say it was physically impossible to produce all of the Agency's files on the use of journalists. "We gave them a broad, representative picture," said one agency official. "We never pretended it was a total description of the range of activities over 25 years, or of the number of journalists who have done things for us." A relatively small number of the summaries described the activities of foreign journalists!including those working as stringers for American publications. Those officials most knowledgeable about the subject say that a figure of 400 American journalists is on the low side of the actual number who maintained covert relationships and undertook clandestine tasks.

From the twenty‑five files he got back, according to Senate sources and CIA officials, an unavoidable conclusion emerged: that to a degree never widely suspected, the CIA in the 1950s, '60s and even early '70s had concentrated its relationships with journalists in the most prominent sectors of the American press corps, including four or five of the largest newspapers in the country, the broadcast networks and the two major newsweekly magazines. Despite the omission of names and affiliations from the twenty‑five detailed files each was between three and eleven inches thick), the information was usually sufficient to tentatively identify either the newsman, his affiliation or both!particularly because so many of them were prominent in the profession.

The Alarmist > , September 5, 2016 at 11:43 pm GMT

@Darin If moon landings were fake, why hadn't USSR or China revealed it? This would discredit USA before the whole world and won the Cold War in one stroke.

If USSR was also part of the plot, then whole Cold War was fake - and in this case there would be no need for the small Apollo fake.

Sometimes, stupid conspiracy theories are just stupid conspiracy theories - or smart fakes, designed to discredit conspirational thinking and distract them from the real conspiracies. Take your pick.

" then whole Cold War was fake."

Wow, now here's a conspiracy theory to sink one's teeth into. That would make a great Matrix/MI/Bourne sequel.

Pat Casey > , September 5, 2016 at 11:48 pm GMT

@Decius Kristol is a Straussian because he got a PhD in PolPhil from Harvard under Mansfield, who is a Straussian. There is no necessary connection between Strauss's thought any of the main tenets of Neo-conservatism. I've said, and you've all ignored, that Strauss attacked data-driven social science, which is the original hallmark of neo-conservatism. A later hallmark (which emerged after Strauss's death) was foreign policy hawkism. Unless you want to say that Strauss's opposition to the USSR makes him a neo-con, in which case every Cold War liberal going back to Truman was a neo-con. At which point the term has no meaning.

Strauss addresses scholars and potential philosophers. He has almost nothing to say about the transient issues of his age. Based on his comments on what other thinkers had to say about war (Thucydides above all) I believe we can infer that Strauss was generally in favor of preparedness and wariness but otherwise anti-war in the general sense. If we may analogize the Iraq War to the Sicilian Expedition we may say that Strauss probably would have opposed the former as imprudent, just as he tacitly endorses T's judgement that the latter was imprudent.

Strauss openly characterizes Machiavelli's approach to philosophy as a conspiracy, using that word, but does not say it about any other thinker. However, his teaching that philosophy is an inherently elite and very small enterprise may be fairly characterized as a "conspiracy." however, before modernity, the nature of the conspiracy was to protect the conspirators and the philosophic life, not a reform campaign. that's what it becomes under modernity, which Strauss opposes. One of Strauss's aims in writing was to revive the ancient idea of philosophy, its proper scope, and its proper relationship to society, which he believed modernity had corrupted.

It is unfortunate that Strauss became a bogey-man to so many who have no idea what he said or why. It happened rather recently and based on some very thin scholarship. Most of the thing people try to pin on him are things that I and my friends oppose too. We just know they don't trace to Strauss. In fact, the opposite is often true. Thanks for that response, gave me a better perspective of the man. I guess he did know who he was writing for. And I do think the way to write for history is to write history by disregarding topical preoccupations, except to damn them with faint praise. I have a master like that I always go back to on the topic I care about most.

And actually the one work of Strauss's I have picked up, years ago, is his Machiavelli; it's one of the thousands of books I've read! not though one of the few I finished. Brushing up just now by way of wikipedia, it doesn't look like Strauss staked his claim strong enough, if an original reading is what he was writing.

By the way, I know the Irishman John Toland was the first to publish on the esoteric-exoteric distinction, and coined the term pantheist on a related occasion when he named what new beast Spinoza had born. That was when an esoteric mode of writing was really needed, and you will hear The Ethics called esoteric or cryptic, but I know the work well, and it is no more esoteric than any work of genius that teaches you to read closely right at the start.

Is The Prince an esoteric work? Did it entertain a conspiracy with special readers? I suppose only if Machiavelli had individuals in mind who might wonder were they all the while in mind when he was writing about how to dispose of them. The point is, there's nothing profound about observing that, it's almost common sense if you take into account the first thing about Machiavelli's circumstance.

I won't be glib and write Strauss's method off as typically paranoid; it's creative, but bound to be too creative by half. I think it might lead readers to have more fun than's good for learning.

Wizard of Oz > , September 6, 2016 at 12:15 am GMT

@Decius Kristol is a Straussian because he got a PhD in PolPhil from Harvard under Mansfield, who is a Straussian. There is no necessary connection between Strauss's thought any of the main tenets of Neo-conservatism. I've said, and you've all ignored, that Strauss attacked data-driven social science, which is the original hallmark of neo-conservatism. A later hallmark (which emerged after Strauss's death) was foreign policy hawkism. Unless you want to say that Strauss's opposition to the USSR makes him a neo-con, in which case every Cold War liberal going back to Truman was a neo-con. At which point the term has no meaning.

Strauss addresses scholars and potential philosophers. He has almost nothing to say about the transient issues of his age. Based on his comments on what other thinkers had to say about war (Thucydides above all) I believe we can infer that Strauss was generally in favor of preparedness and wariness but otherwise anti-war in the general sense. If we may analogize the Iraq War to the Sicilian Expedition we may say that Strauss probably would have opposed the former as imprudent, just as he tacitly endorses T's judgement that the latter was imprudent.

Strauss openly characterizes Machiavelli's approach to philosophy as a conspiracy, using that word, but does not say it about any other thinker. However, his teaching that philosophy is an inherently elite and very small enterprise may be fairly characterized as a "conspiracy." however, before modernity, the nature of the conspiracy was to protect the conspirators and the philosophic life, not a reform campaign. that's what it becomes under modernity, which Strauss opposes. One of Strauss's aims in writing was to revive the ancient idea of philosophy, its proper scope, and its proper relationship to society, which he believed modernity had corrupted.

It is unfortunate that Strauss became a bogey-man to so many who have no idea what he said or why. It happened rather recently and based on some very thin scholarship. Most of the thing people try to pin on him are things that I and my friends oppose too. We just know they don't trace to Strauss. In fact, the opposite is often true. Fascinating. A reminder that one should five lives lived to 120 so one can lots of stories right .

Bill Jones > , September 6, 2016 at 1:04 am GMT

@Gene Tuttle I've often used the argument myself that conspiracies inevitably have short shelf lives in the US because it was so difficult for Americans to keep secrets. The article makes a useful point in suggesting that secret plots, even after being revealed, may nevertheless remain widely ignored. Ideology, group-think, pack journalism etc. are powerful forces, often subconsciously at work, preventing alternative theories from developing legs.

Though long an admirer of Karl Popper, I hadn't strongly associated him with attacks on conspiracy theories per se. As an American "outsider" living abroad most of my adult life, I've all too often encountered those who assumed my background alone explained an argument of mine that they didn't like. Popper had hit the nail on the head when he wrote about

"a widespread and dangerous fashion of our time...of not taking arguments seriously, and at their face value, at least tentatively, but of seeing in them nothing but a way in which deeper irrational motives and tendencies express themselves." It was "the attitude of looking at once for the unconscious motives and determinants in the social habitat of the thinker, instead of first examining the validity of the argument itself."
The powerful nazi and communist ideologies of his day assumed that one's " blood " or " class " precluded "correct" thinking. Those politically incorrect challengers to their own totalitarian weltanschauung were (to put it mildly) persecuted as conspirators. No doubt, as Ron Unz notes, Popper's personal experience "contributed the depth of his feelings" -- I would say skepticism – about conspiracy claims.

But the author of the " Open Society " had an open mind and I suspect he'd find the thesis reasonable that real conspiracies can both be uncovered and largely ignored because so many simply opt to ignore them. In such cases, evidence and "not taking arguments seriously" often reflects "intellectual groupieism," emotions, professional insecurities as well as venal collective interests. Nice try.

The Manhattan Project was successfully kept secret despite its scope and the fact that it consumed 17% of the electricity production of the entire US.

exiled off mainstreet > , September 6, 2016 at 1:14 am GMT

@Miro23 The British and Americans have been the victims of conspiracies (False Flag operations) for years.

For example:

The Irgun bombing of the King David Hotel (headquarters of the British Mandate Government of Palestine) in which Zionist activists dressed as Arabs placed milk churns filled with explosives against the main columns of the building killing 91 people and injuring 44. Israeli prime Minister Netanyahu, attended a celebration to commemorate the event.

Operation Susannah (Lavon Affair) where Israeli operatives impersonating Arabs bombed British and American cinemas, libraries and educational centers in Egypt to destabilize the country and keep British troops committed to the Middle East.

Or June 8, 1967, the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty with unmarked aircraft and torpedo boats. 34 men were killed and 171 wounded, with the attack in international waters following over nine hours of close surveillance. When the ship failed to sink, the Israeli government concocted an elaborate story to cover the crime. Original plan to blame the sinking with all lives lost on the Egyptians and draw the US into the war.

Or Israelis and U.S. Zionists appearing all over the most recent WTC 9/11 "Operation" with Israelis once again impersonating Arabs in a historic deception/terror action of a type that seems to carry a lot of kudos with old Israeli ex-terrorist Likudniks. Israeli agents were sent to film the historic day (as they later admitted on Israeli TV), with the celebrations including photos of themselves with a background of the burning towers where thousands of Americans were being incinerated.

Iraq was destroyed as a result of 9/11 but unfortunately for the conspirators, the momentum wasn't sufficient for a general war including Iran. Also the general war would have included the nuclear angle and justified the activation of a neo-con led Emergency Regime (dictatorship) in the US enforced with the newly printed Patriot Act and Homeland Security troops - or maybe that's just another Conspiracy Theory? The Israelis learned their false flag lesson from the Nazis, who used concentration camp inmates dressed as Polish soldiers as part of a phony attack on the frontier radio station "Sender Gleiwitz" a day or so before they invaded Poland.

exiled off mainstreet > , September 6, 2016 at 1:44 am GMT

@Darin Yes, why?

If you want to start a war, would you want to start with great defeat and loss of your fleet?

In the thirties, there were three cases of false flag attacks created to justify a war.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mukden_Incident
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gleiwitz_incident
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelling_of_Mainila

In none of these cases the attacker actually killed thousands of his own soldiers, what would be the point? I didn't notice Gleiwitz was mentioned in another posting before I mentioned it. I tend go along with you and suspect incompetence rather than purpose was the cause of the Pearl Harbor disaster, though the incompetence may have included failure to adequately warn those on the ground at Pearl Harbor. Personally, I don't back the "truther" version of the twin towers because that would have required a broader conspiracy than I think could have succeeded. My guess is that the neighboring building was destroyed as part of the cleanup effort. I do think, however, that the authorities knew something was up, didn't believe it could ever succeed and used it as a sort of Reichstag Fire incident to brush aside constitutional democracy in the US. I also suspect that the Mossad knew more than they let on. My guess is that if Gore rather than Bush had been in power that history would have been far different. I suspect that the anthrax thing was more likely started by the yankee regime as a home-grown conspiracy.

Decius > , September 6, 2016 at 1:51 am GMT

@Pat Casey Thanks for that response, gave me a better perspective of the man. I guess he did know who he was writing for. And I do think the way to write for history is to write history by disregarding topical preoccupations, except to damn them with faint praise. I have a master like that I always go back to on the topic I care about most.

And actually the one work of Strauss's I have picked up, years ago, is his Machiavelli; it's one of the thousands of books I've read--- not though one of the few I finished. Brushing up just now by way of wikipedia, it doesn't look like Strauss staked his claim strong enough, if an original reading is what he was writing.

By the way, I know the Irishman John Toland was the first to publish on the esoteric-exoteric distinction, and coined the term pantheist on a related occasion when he named what new beast Spinoza had born. That was when an esoteric mode of writing was really needed, and you will hear The Ethics called esoteric or cryptic, but I know the work well, and it is no more esoteric than any work of genius that teaches you to read closely right at the start.

Is The Prince an esoteric work? Did it entertain a conspiracy with special readers? I suppose only if Machiavelli had individuals in mind who might wonder were they all the while in mind when he was writing about how to dispose of them. The point is, there's nothing profound about observing that, it's almost common sense if you take into account the first thing about Machiavelli's circumstance.

I won't be glib and write Strauss's method off as typically paranoid; it's creative, but bound to be too creative by half. I think it might lead readers to have more fun than's good for learning. First, if you are at all interested in esotericism, I cannot recommend highly enough Philosophy Between the Lines by Meltzer. The only thing critical I can say about this book is that, if one is really an expert in one of the thinkers that Meltzer treats, one will read the passages on that thinker that Meltzer cites and say "So what? I've known that for years. He's shed no new light." Which is true. But irrelevant to what he's trying to do. The book presents an unassailable case that philosophy has been esoteric since Plato. Esotericism long predates Spinoza and has been discussed since ancient times. Strauss simply revived a concept that had been forgotten. Toland (who I am not that familiar with) wrote before esotericism as it were "lapsed." Strauss says that Goethe and Lessing were the last to write this way. When Strauss revived knowledge of esotericism in the late 1930s with the first Xenophon article, he was considered nuts.

Strauss's Machiavelli book is my favorite and I think his best. It is totally "original" in the sense that he took a wildly new path from all previous scholarship. It has basically defined the debate to this day. All subsequent scholarship either follows him, opposes him, or tries to ignore him.

I would recommend in addition Strauss's book on Spinoza and especially the much later preface that he wrote when he felt he finally understood Spinoza's esotericism.

Yes, the Prince (and the Discourses , and Art of War , and Florentine Histories ) are esoteric. It's too complex to argue in a comment thread. Suffice it to say for now that the outrageous "kill that dude" teachings serve and exoteric purpose.

anonymous > , Disclaimer September 6, 2016 at 2:18 am GMT

@exiled off mainstreet I didn't notice Gleiwitz was mentioned in another posting before I mentioned it. I tend go along with you and suspect incompetence rather than purpose was the cause of the Pearl Harbor disaster, though the incompetence may have included failure to adequately warn those on the ground at Pearl Harbor. Personally, I don't back the "truther" version of the twin towers because that would have required a broader conspiracy than I think could have succeeded. My guess is that the neighboring building was destroyed as part of the cleanup effort. I do think, however, that the authorities knew something was up, didn't believe it could ever succeed and used it as a sort of Reichstag Fire incident to brush aside constitutional democracy in the US. I also suspect that the Mossad knew more than they let on. My guess is that if Gore rather than Bush had been in power that history would have been far different. I suspect that the anthrax thing was more likely started by the yankee regime as a home-grown conspiracy.

My guess is that if Gore rather than Bush had been in power that history would have been far different.

Joe Lieberman was Gore's running mate. Lieberman had the Patriot Act on a shelf waiting for an opportunity !

While holding the chair of the "Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs," Lieberman introduced on October 11, 2001, Senate Bill 1534, to establish the US Department of Homeland Security.

Anticipating the bill's certain passage, Lieberman gave himself automatic chairmanship after he changed the name of his committee to, "The Senate Committee of Homeland Security and Government Affairs."

Since then, Lieberman has been the main force behind legislation such as:
-1- The USA Patriot Act
-2- Protect America Act
-3- National Emergency Centers Establishment Act
-4- The Enemy Belligerent Interrogation Act
-5- The Terrorist Expatriation Act, and the proposed
-6- Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act.

Rurik > , September 6, 2016 at 2:40 am GMT

Thank you Mr. Unz, for this excellent- and circumspect and salient- article.

His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.

I'll just add that from what I've glimmered, (I'm definitely no expert on Leo Strauss), Strauss' philosophy contained more than just a careful consideration of 'conspiracy theories' and how they should be handled, but that what he advocated was a small group of highly motivated elite zealots (Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, et al) who would not just use power to control the narrative vis-a-vis conspiracy theories, but more to the point, would be the men who would conspire to alter the realities that required a mocking of "conspiracy theories" in the first place.

From what I understand, one of his motivating themes was that his acolytes would come to understand that they shouldn't be guided by trite, pedestrian notions of morality when being the agents of change in the world. And that rather, they should use his teachings as a way to see the world as exceptional men, who would boldly do things others might shrink from, out of hackneyed notions of probity.

Perhaps the best quote I know of to describe Straussianism (as I understand it) was made by a man who wasn't one of his actual students, but who certainly would have been well acquainted and worked closely with others who were; Karl Rove, when speaking to an aid:

"That's not the way the world really works anymore." He continued "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality!judiciously, as you will!we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

that quote for me, describes Straussianism to a T. And if so, certainty dovetails with what happened during the reign of Bush-the lesser. Especially with something as audacious as 911.

That at least, is how I've seen it

As for the control of the media, I think most of your readers are certainly aware of that particular conundrum and its consequences. It is literally impossible to be too cynical as regards our media and government and CIA and other shenanigans, IMHO.

Thanks again sir.

SolontoCroesus > , September 6, 2016 at 2:50 am GMT

@Decius First, if you are at all interested in esotericism, I cannot recommend highly enough Philosophy Between the Lines by Meltzer. The only thing critical I can say about this book is that, if one is really an expert in one of the thinkers that Meltzer treats, one will read the passages on that thinker that Meltzer cites and say "So what? I've known that for years. He's shed no new light." Which is true. But irrelevant to what he's trying to do. The book presents an unassailable case that philosophy has been esoteric since Plato. Esotericism long predates Spinoza and has been discussed since ancient times. Strauss simply revived a concept that had been forgotten. Toland (who I am not that familiar with) wrote before esotericism as it were "lapsed." Strauss says that Goethe and Lessing were the last to write this way. When Strauss revived knowledge of esotericism in the late 1930s with the first Xenophon article, he was considered nuts.

Strauss's Machiavelli book is my favorite and I think his best. It is totally "original" in the sense that he took a wildly new path from all previous scholarship. It has basically defined the debate to this day. All subsequent scholarship either follows him, opposes him, or tries to ignore him.

I would recommend in addition Strauss's book on Spinoza and especially the much later preface that he wrote when he felt he finally understood Spinoza's esotericism.

Yes, the Prince (and the Discourses , and Art of War , and Florentine Histories ) are esoteric. It's too complex to argue in a comment thread. Suffice it to say for now that the outrageous "kill that dude" teachings serve and exoteric purpose.

Strauss's Machiavelli book is my favorite and I think his best. It is totally "original" in the sense that he took a wildly new path from all previous scholarship. It has basically defined the debate to this day. All subsequent scholarship either follows him, opposes him, or tries to ignore him.

Nonsense.

Maurizio Viroli has dedicated his life to scholarship on Machiavelli. He reads and understands The Prince (and Machiavelli's other works and life) in the context in which they were written, taking account of the finest details of Machiavelli's human, psychological, and spiritual evolution in the course of career and writing. Viroli walks in Niccolo's footsteps; like Machiavelli, he "puts on the garments" of 15th century Florence, and Rome, and the French and Germanic cities where Machiavelli traveled to represent Florence.

Strauss may satisfy those inclined to engage in exercise in Talmudic argument, but Machiavelli was Italian, Florentine, and Roman; Dante was his constant companion; he was also conversant in Old and New Testament literature and, less extensively, with the relatively newly rediscovered Greek philosophers.

Strauss does not understand Machiavelli's thoughts on religion because he fails to separate Niccolo's Christian, Danteian spirituality from his disgust with the corruption of the Roman Catholic papacy and institutional church.

If you want intellectual showmanship and hair-splitting, Strauss on Machiavelli's your man. If you want to understand the soul of Niccolo Machiavelli and the complexities of political life in the Florence, Italy he lived in and loved, you can't do better than Maurizio Viroli.

Machiavelli and Republicanism

http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/history/history-ideas-and-intellectual-history/machiavelli-and-republicanism?format=PB

Redeeming the Prince

http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/681223

For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism

http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/0198293585.001.0001/acprof-9780198293583

(Strauss twists Machiavelli's love of country into an evil act because it is not universal. Yet, as one reviewer noted of Strauss, "I would make the case that the best defense of Strauss lies in an understanding of Aristotle and Israel." https://www.amazon.com/German-Stranger-Strauss-National-Socialism/dp/0739147382 )

CanSpeccy > , Website September 6, 2016 at 2:50 am GMT

@biz


you are too quick to conflate 9/11 and the moon landings
Actually, it was Unz himself who stated a while back that if we admit that one of them is possible, then all are possible, or something more or less to that effect.

In an case, the 9/11 controlled demolition / missile / flight 93 is in a hangar in Cleveland stuff is just as implausible as faking the moon landings. Too many people and organizations and countries needing to be in on it, etc. biz, you obviously missed it. Bill Jones, above , debunked your argument even before you made it.

Pat Casey > , September 6, 2016 at 3:31 am GMT

@Rurik Thank you Mr. Unz, for this excellent- and circumspect and salient- article.


His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.
I'll just add that from what I've glimmered, (I'm definitely no expert on Leo Strauss), Strauss' philosophy contained more than just a careful consideration of 'conspiracy theories' and how they should be handled, but that what he advocated was a small group of highly motivated elite zealots (Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, et al) who would not just use power to control the narrative vis-a-vis conspiracy theories, but more to the point, would be the men who would conspire to alter the realities that required a mocking of "conspiracy theories" in the first place.

From what I understand, one of his motivating themes was that his acolytes would come to understand that they shouldn't be guided by trite, pedestrian notions of morality when being the agents of change in the world. And that rather, they should use his teachings as a way to see the world as exceptional men, who would boldly do things others might shrink from, out of hackneyed notions of probity.

Perhaps the best quote I know of to describe Straussianism (as I understand it) was made by a man who wasn't one of his actual students, but who certainly would have been well acquainted and worked closely with others who were; Karl Rove, when speaking to an aid:

"That's not the way the world really works anymore." He continued "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality!judiciously, as you will!we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

that quote for me, describes Straussianism to a T. And if so, certainty dovetails with what happened during the reign of Bush-the lesser. Especially with something as audacious as 911.

That at least, is how I've seen it...

As for the control of the media, I think most of your readers are certainly aware of that particular conundrum and its consequences. It is literally impossible to be too cynical as regards our media and government and CIA and other shenanigans, IMHO.

Thanks again sir. Nice job. You roped the quote that ran across my mind! I swear these things are in the air. How do you say, the ghost of Leo Strauss was moving men to do what you can't pin on his memory? Well you said it and that settles it. Thank goodness.

Astuteobservor II > , September 6, 2016 at 3:32 am GMT

after snowden, every conspiracy theory got a 99% boost in credibility. he confirmed the big bad boogeymen watching and spying on us all. nothing else is impossible, nothing. every theory is now possible, everything.

Decius > , September 6, 2016 at 3:55 am GMT

@Pat Casey Nice job. You roped the quote that ran across my mind--- I swear these things are in the air. How do you say, the ghost of Leo Strauss was moving men to do what you can't pin on his memory? Well you said it and that settles it. Thank goodness. Wait, a quote from Rove that doesn't even mention Strauss explains everything about Strauss? Are you serious?

I gather you just need a boogeyman and Strauss is the one you've selected. Or, more accurately, have allowed others to select for you.

Decius > , September 6, 2016 at 4:03 am GMT

@SolontoCroesus

Strauss's Machiavelli book is my favorite and I think his best. It is totally "original" in the sense that he took a wildly new path from all previous scholarship. It has basically defined the debate to this day. All subsequent scholarship either follows him, opposes him, or tries to ignore him.
Nonsense. Maurizio Viroli has dedicated his life to scholarship on Machiavelli. He reads and understands The Prince (and Machiavelli's other works and life) in the context in which they were written, taking account of the finest details of Machiavelli's human, psychological, and spiritual evolution in the course of career and writing. Viroli walks in Niccolo's footsteps; like Machiavelli, he "puts on the garments" of 15th century Florence, and Rome, and the French and Germanic cities where Machiavelli traveled to represent Florence.

Strauss may satisfy those inclined to engage in exercise in Talmudic argument, but Machiavelli was Italian, Florentine, and Roman; Dante was his constant companion; he was also conversant in Old and New Testament literature and, less extensively, with the relatively newly rediscovered Greek philosophers.

Strauss does not understand Machiavelli's thoughts on religion because he fails to separate Niccolo's Christian, Danteian spirituality from his disgust with the corruption of the Roman Catholic papacy and institutional church. If you want intellectual showmanship and hair-splitting, Strauss on Machiavelli's your man. If you want to understand the soul of Niccolo Machiavelli and the complexities of political life in the Florence, Italy he lived in and loved, you can't do better than Maurizio Viroli.

(Strauss twists Machiavelli's love of country into an evil act because it is not universal. Yet, as one reviewer noted of Strauss, "I would make the case that the best defense of Strauss lies in an understanding of Aristotle and Israel." https://www.amazon.com/German-Stranger-Strauss-National-Socialism/dp/0739147382 ) First, you are wrong that Strauss thinks Machiavelli's patriotism is in itself evil. Strauss says the exact opposite at several points. But he also says that recourse to patriotism does not in itself excuse Machiavelli's recommendations to do evil. Strauss himself comes up with the most persuasive justifications (which are higher than excuses) for Machiavelli's evil sayings. But to understand Strauss's arguments, you would have to read the book and spend a lot of time with it because it is hard.

Viroli is a scholar I respect for a lot of reasons, but not for philosophic depth. The argument about "context" diminishes Machiavelli (and all great thinkers) by presupposing that their thought is time-bound or that they could not think past the horizon of their time. The greatest minds transcend their times and even create new times. There aren't very many such, but Nick was one.

pyrrhus > , September 6, 2016 at 5:37 am GMT

The CIA's Project Mockingbird had all the network news anchors using the words "conspiracy theory" like the brainless parrots that they were. And Americans remain well brainwashed, although it's actually hard to get anything significant done without a "conspiracy."

Pat Casey > , September 6, 2016 at 5:37 am GMT

@Decius First, if you are at all interested in esotericism, I cannot recommend highly enough Philosophy Between the Lines by Meltzer. The only thing critical I can say about this book is that, if one is really an expert in one of the thinkers that Meltzer treats, one will read the passages on that thinker that Meltzer cites and say "So what? I've known that for years. He's shed no new light." Which is true. But irrelevant to what he's trying to do. The book presents an unassailable case that philosophy has been esoteric since Plato. Esotericism long predates Spinoza and has been discussed since ancient times. Strauss simply revived a concept that had been forgotten. Toland (who I am not that familiar with) wrote before esotericism as it were "lapsed." Strauss says that Goethe and Lessing were the last to write this way. When Strauss revived knowledge of esotericism in the late 1930s with the first Xenophon article, he was considered nuts.

Strauss's Machiavelli book is my favorite and I think his best. It is totally "original" in the sense that he took a wildly new path from all previous scholarship. It has basically defined the debate to this day. All subsequent scholarship either follows him, opposes him, or tries to ignore him.

I would recommend in addition Strauss's book on Spinoza and especially the much later preface that he wrote when he felt he finally understood Spinoza's esotericism.

Yes, the Prince (and the Discourses , and Art of War , and Florentine Histories ) are esoteric. It's too complex to argue in a comment thread. Suffice it to say for now that the outrageous "kill that dude" teachings serve and exoteric purpose. Steve weighed in on this a while back and made the point that what we have, what has been handed down to us, that probably is the esoteric stuff. I don't think he even mentioned in the piece how interesting it is that what we have of Aristotle seem to be lecture notes. I suspect that is just because: Aristotle taught Alexander!the teacher knew no felt need to live on as a writer like Plato did. One thing we can say about those lecture notes, we can pretty well imagine they were not written in his prime, hence we're still learning how much good stuff is there; if you know your stuff, you know as late as the late Richard Taylor that the philosopher was yet outdoing us moderns in a point he makes like an afterthought but could not matter more. But so anyways, what we have is the distilled Aristotle probably from his golden years; if we also had it in any other form, it might read comparatively mercilessly for being too esoteric. As we know him it is impossible to imagine Aristotle writing dialogues, debating other voices ; one need not name rivals when one has none and he was the King's philosopher. What you can't say is no he was being disorganized on purpose to be esoteric, right?

But take Plato. I assume if you could read ancient Greek as well as Plato could, you would find many a double meaning at crucial turns but I really have no idea save the gut instinct that the man was an inspired writer when he wrote which is to say a poet. And what a poet does is let the muse speak and summon such nice lines as "The Beauty is not the Madness/ Though my errors and wrecks lie about me/and I am not a demigod, I cannot make it cohere." The errors that lie about him strewn about him as it were, they lie about how good he was when he was at his best. A tongue like a double-bladed sword says the Bible. I imagine some of Ezra Pound's radio rants need a second listen with less tense nerves; they say the Italians suspected he was transmitting code. Anyways. Imagine how much can be said for the stories we tell ourselves .how many former selves does any one wind up with? you have to ask your self.

Scholasticism, well you could almost say that's all about no secret handshake shit. Make sure them key words get nailed down and no tricks or to the tower you got cause to go.

Spinoza, oh we know exactly where his mystery lies. Edwin Curley said:

"In responding to this objection, I think I had best begin by confessing candidly that in spite of many years of study, I still do not feel that I understand this part of the Ethics at all adequately. I feel the freedom to confess that, of course, because I also believe that no one else understands it adequately either"

What objection? The one that says, nothing of the mind should remain eternal after the body has been destroyed if there is only one substance! We could have gone to grad school on this paper is what the man said, but first pay respects to what that meant to him personally, cause he probably escaped with his life when he did, but he knew his disciples would keep his mind alive. But seriously I should touch this up and send it somewhere:

It must be said that the elegance of this deduction is striking. God's idea of the human body corresponds with the mind's idea of the human body. The crucial move that turns the correspondence into a startling claim is that God's idea expresses the essence of the body, while the mind's idea expresses the essence of the mind. Through the initial correspondence, God's eternal essence expressed as an idea of the body adopts the essence of the mind. Thus, when the body dies, something of the essence of the mind remains eternal. With that, Spinoza culminates his masterpiece.

" Since what is conceived, with a certain eternal necessity, through God's essence itself, is nevertheless something, this something that pertains to the essence of the mind will necessarily be eternal." Besides being an Eternalist, Spinoza is also an Idealist. It fits then that he should leave something of the mind remaining eternally, rather than what a strict Eternalist would leave, that is, something of the mind and body. But recall that Spinoza's something that pertains to the essence of the mind is the idea of the body . In the final analysis, his system coheres.

That's terribly poignant too, because it shows he went back to his roots in the end: "The soul will blame the body for its actions."

Anyways I've spent myself and who wants to talk about Nietzsche, really. That guy was an antenna for a frequency that was broadcasting Noh drama directly into his soul while he wrote his Zarathustra, and I don't believe he ever came back from that!he had all the inside jokes he could tell to himself in perpetuity. But I gotta say, one time I ran into this guys blog who had let Nietzsche drive him insane, and he had comprehensively worked out to an absolute end the thesis his whole philosophy was to understand that a formal Matriarchy was what's good and here's why that's the necessity. If that is true its too hysterical to ever argue with no hint of mania. So I felt bad for the guy.

But what the other guy said rings truest to me. And I'd just add that Paul Gottfried's observation that Strauss winds up treating a text a lot like the Deconstructions do does not entirely fail Strauss for me. The fundamental truth to them is something every one of us around can understand: these words we type, the ain't alive on quick lips, which is what gets some of us into more trouble than others.

I definitely check out the book, but one must be cautious when resurrecting phantoms.

Pat Casey > , September 6, 2016 at 6:18 am GMT

@Decius Wait, a quote from Rove that doesn't even mention Strauss explains everything about Strauss? Are you serious?

I gather you just need a boogeyman and Strauss is the one you've selected. Or, more accurately, have allowed others to select for you. Don't miss my longer reply, in the cue, plus this one, but put the boogeyman business to bed and put your defenses down . I can't say it any other way: I think the spirit of Leo Strauss may well have moved men to move mountains and mountains otherwise called federal bureaucracies and divisions of armies. It might explain not "everything" about Strauss but indeed whats essential about Strauss, which is that you are right, I suspect he was special. Step back for a second and forget that those Bush bastards were bastards and just estimate the nerve it takes to pull off 9/11 and then go into Afghanistan and Iraq. We can all at least agree, that's somthin.

5371 > , September 6, 2016 at 6:20 am GMT

@Decius At any rate it's sort of absurd to watch you people chase your tails. All that you "know" or think you know is that Strauss is bad. But Schmitt is good. But Strauss is derivative of Schmitt. Doesn't that make Strauss good, or Schmitt bad?

Schmitt is famous for arguing in favor of the essential particularity of politics--i.e., against alleged neocon universalism. So if Strauss is derivative of Schmitt, how can he be a neocon universalist?

Strauss in fact agrees with Schmitt on the essential particularity of politics and says so, but finds a deeper source, with deeper arguments, in Plato. Schmitt admitted that his own attempt to fortify his particularism was build on the quick-sandy foundation of modern rationalism, which Strauss taught him to see through. When you can pin Strauss down to a definite meaning, it is false, banal or both. He is usually too obfuscatory to be pinned down. Schmitt is easy to understand and shows you true things you had not thought of before.

dismasdolben > , September 6, 2016 at 6:23 am GMT

My favourite historical conspiracy is the so-called "Gunpowder Plot," which is still, despite all of the evidence that has been discovered in more modern times, represented in history books, as being exclusively the work of disgruntled Catholic noblemen and their Jesuit confessors. It was actually a government projection of the Cecil ministry, completely riddled with moles who nurtured it along, right up until the point when it could be revealed to the public for maximum political effect, and to the King, so that he would become more terrorified, and, thus, more dependent upon the Cecils and their "constitutionalist" Puritan proteges. The "evidence" has, indeed, always been in plain sight, and it has been dealt with in numerous books, such as The Gunpowder Plot, Faith and Treason , by Antonia Fraser, and another book, entitled "God's Secret Agents,' but, still, to this day, the myth of conspiring priests is still propagated in atavistic anti-Catholic British history.

Wizard of Oz > , September 6, 2016 at 7:42 am GMT

@Miro23 Being smart has nothing to do with it.

For example the government says that WTC7 completely collapsed in 7 seconds due to fire. You don't need to be smart to see something is wrong here (hint: most of the structural pillars were untouched by fire). I see the biggest problem about a conspiratorial explanation for the WTC 7 collapse is motive. How does it make sense for those who wanted the big splash that hitting buildings 1 and 2 would give? The other major difficulty is the video footage of fires burning all day which had to have heated the steel and therefore potentially weakened it to a critical point. Where's the mystery?

Old fogey > , September 6, 2016 at 8:28 am GMT

@Laurel The best strategy is to foster implausible conspiracy theories to create a cloud of disinformation. This technique was used very effectively after 9/11, such that it's very hard to discuss a coverup without being labeled a truther. Thank you for inserting the word "truther" into the conversation. It has always fascinated me that someone searching for the truth about a political issue is now automatically considered a conspiracy theorist.

Moi > , September 6, 2016 at 1:07 pm GMT

@Rehmat There are more so-called "conspiracy theories" claimed by the US government, CIA, and organized Jewry than the Jews may have been killed by the Nazis. The "conspiracy theorists" like the "terrorists" are chosen by the Zionist-controlled mainstream media.

Like the September 11, 2001 attacks, the lie that Iran's president Ahmadinejad called, WIPE ISRAEL OFF THE MAP, is still kept alive by the Organized Jewry even though Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor admitted that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never said Iran wanted to "wipe Israel off the face of the map" in an interview with Al Jazeera in April 2012.

American investigative writer and author, Robert Parry, claimed on September 19, 2009 that Ahmadinejad never denied Holocaust. He just challenged Israel and the western powers to allow an open debate to find the truth behind the Zionist Holy Cow, "Six Million Died".

In reality, the only country that has been 'wiped off the map' is the 5,000-year-old Palestine by Europe's unwanted Jews.

Iran's current president Dr. Hassan Rouhani like Dr. Ahmadinejad, is also blamed for denying the Zionist Holy Holocaust as parroted by Wiesel, which he never did, saying it's up to historians to decide who's lying.

https://rehmat1.com/2013/09/28/holocaust-the-word-rouhani-never-uttered/ If the Zionists can lie so much about Israeli history (e.g. The Arabs encouraged Palestinians to flee, that the Arabs were about to attack Israel in 1967, land without a people for a people without a land, etc.), one can only wonder about the official holocaust narrative of 6M dead, gas chambers, etc.).

I've not read Elie Weisel's book Night, but I understand that no where does he mention gas chambers in Auschwitz .

[Sep 21, 2017] Hysteria in America -- Congress Filled With Totalitarians Who Oppose

Notable quotes:
"... Indeed, American legislators have published a bill that could potentially block Russian broadcasters from being shown in the US. It could allow US content providers to break their contracts, leaving Russian channels without any legal recourse. ..."
"... "prohibit multichannel video programming distributors from being required to carry certain video content that is owned or controlled by the Government of the Russian Federation" ..."
"... Why the focus on Russia, in what's supposed to be an annual defense spending bill? ..."
"... As we mentioned, various foreign governments fund TV channels in America, but only Russia gets a mention in this bill. Is that a case of double-standards? Should the attention just solely be on Russia? ..."
"... Does it look like this measure has been deliberately buried in a huge defense bill to avoid scrutiny? Or do you expect debate on this? ..."
"... 'Investigate Russia' ..."
"... Reprinted with permission from RT . ..."
Sep 21, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org

'Free Market of Ideas' by RT

There are members of Congress who don't want anyone on TV saying America's foreign policy is a disaster and it costs a fortune, Daniel McAdams, executive director, Ron Paul Institute, told RT.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the fiscal year 2018, which passed the US Senate earlier this week, carries some added provisions that have little in common with the military.

Indeed, American legislators have published a bill that could potentially block Russian broadcasters from being shown in the US. It could allow US content providers to break their contracts, leaving Russian channels without any legal recourse.

The plan is buried inside a tiny amendment of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The part about Russia is summarized in just a few lines, between details on funding of the US military.

Amendment No 1096 , which aims to "prohibit multichannel video programming distributors from being required to carry certain video content that is owned or controlled by the Government of the Russian Federation" .

RT: Why the focus on Russia, in what's supposed to be an annual defense spending bill?

Daniel McAdams: There is an obsession on Capitol Hill and within the mainstream media with RT because RT is effective and RT is watched. But also, and this is very important because RT carries perspectives that are not available in the mainstream media. Commentators on RT that I know would say the same thing that they say on RT if they were invited by any of the mainstream media, but they won't. The matter of fact is that John McCain and Lindsey Graham, the people who were behind this amendment, the Atlantic Council and the others are trying to silence RT. They are the totalitarians, they are the enemies of free speech; they're the enemies of the First Amendment; they don't want anyone coming on television saying that America's foreign policy is a disaster; it is broken; it is making us more vulnerable to attack, and it's costing a fortune. It cannot stand competition in the area of ideas.

RT: As we mentioned, various foreign governments fund TV channels in America, but only Russia gets a mention in this bill. Is that a case of double-standards? Should the attention just solely be on Russia?

DM: The attention should be on none of these stations. It should be viewer beware. If you're watching RT and you know that it is funded, or its funding comes from the Russian government, you take that into consideration just as any intelligent person would do. When I watch France 24, when I watch the BBC, I know that that takes the perspectives of the British government into consideration, because it is funded by that.

This is a free market of ideas; this is what this is all about. But the people on Capitol Hill are again totalitarians – they don't want a free market in ideas. They want to control the debate. They don't want Americans to wake up and see that the foreign policy that they are pushing is resulting in a charred Earth and a disaster that is coming home to roost.

RT: Does it look like this measure has been deliberately buried in a huge defense bill to avoid scrutiny? Or do you expect debate on this?

DM: This is how it's done, absolutely. I have read a million defense spending bills in my 15 years on the Hill. This is called planting a seed – you plant this kernel, and it starts to grow. If someone objects, later on, you can say – this is already passed in the defense bill; you've already voted on this; this is already part of the law; this is just suggesting, clarifying, or going further. This is how they do things: you bury it in a huge bill like this; you plant a seed and you watch it grow.

I don't know the exact language in the bill; I am sure Russia is not only the flavor of the month, it is the flavor of the year. There is the 'Investigate Russia' committee , where a bunch of Hollywood liberals got together with a bunch of neocons and are finding reds under our beds. There is a hysteria going on in America. I still would like to believe that the average American thinks it's absolutely nuts; I hope it stays that way. Hopefully, this will blow over at some point, and not blow up .

Hollywood was once on the receiving end of McCarthyism in the 50s, and now it looks like they want to dish out McCarthyism on everyone else.

Reprinted with permission from RT .


Related

[Sep 20, 2017] The political history of the second half of the 20th century could be summarized as the conflict between its two ideologies -- Keynesian social democracy and neoliberalism, which managed to displace Keyneseanism as a dominant ideology in 70th and in turm entered the crisis in 2008

What Monbiot called 'stories" and "powerful political narratives" are actually ideologies. Neoliberal ideology won in 70th and managed to destroy the weakened and discredited social democratic/Keynesean model and Bolshevism on late 80th early 90th. After 2008 neoliberalism as ideology is as dead as Stalinism was after 1945. You can even view Trump as kind of farcical Nikita Khrushchev who while sticking to neoliberalism "in general" at the same time denounced some key postulates of neoliberalism such as neoliberal globalization with outsourcing and offshoring components and free movement of labor. For Khrushchev that ended badly -- he was deposed and replaced by Brezhnev in 1964. The same might happen to Trump.
You can get better idea about what Monbiot is talking about replacing the word "stories" with the word "ideologies." An ideology is a coherent set of interconnected ideas or beliefs shared by a large group of people (often political party or nation). It may be a connected to a particular philosophy (Marxism in case of Socialism and Communism, Randism and neo-classical economics in case of neoliberalism) . Communism, socialism, and neoliberalism are major political/economical ideologies. Ideology prescribes how a country political system should be organized and how country economics should be run.
Notable quotes:
"... The political history of the second half of the 20th century could be summarised as the conflict between its two great narratives: the stories told by Keynesian social democracy and by neoliberalism. ..."
"... When the social democracy story dominated, even the Conservatives and Republicans adopted key elements of the programme. When neoliberalism took its place, political parties everywhere, regardless of their colour, fell under its spell . ..."
Sep 20, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Originally from: George Monbiot: how do we get out of this mess?

Is it reasonable to hope for a better world? Study the cruelty and indifference of governments, the disarray of opposition parties, the apparently inexorable slide towards limate breakdown, the renewed threat of nuclear war, and the answer appears to be no. Our problems look intractable, our leaders dangerous, while voters are cowed and baffled. Despair looks like the only rational response. But over the past two years, I have been struck by four observations. What they reveal is that political failure is, in essence, a failure of imagination. They suggest to me that it is despair, not hope, that is irrational. I believe they light a path towards a better world.

The first observation is the least original. It is the realization that it is not strong leaders or parties that dominate politics as much as powerful political narratives. The political history of the second half of the 20th century could be summarised as the conflict between its two great narratives: the stories told by Keynesian social democracy and by neoliberalism. First one and then the other captured the minds of people across the political spectrum. When the social democracy story dominated, even the Conservatives and Republicans adopted key elements of the programme. When neoliberalism took its place, political parties everywhere, regardless of their colour, fell under its spell . These stories overrode everything: personality, identity and party history.

This should not surprise us. Stories are the means by which we navigate the world. They allow us to interpret its complex and contradictory signals. We all possess a narrative instinct: an innate disposition to listen for an account of who we are and where we stand.

... ... ...

The social democratic story explains that the world fell into disorder – characterised by the Great Depression – because of the self-seeking behaviour of an unrestrained elite. The elite's capture of both the world's wealth and the political system resulted in the impoverishment and insecurity of working people. By uniting to defend their common interests, the world's people could throw down the power of this elite, strip it of its ill-gotten gains and pool the resulting wealth for the good of all. Order and security would be restored in the form of a protective, paternalistic state, investing in public projects for the public good, generating the wealth that would guarantee a prosperous future for everyone. The ordinary people of the land – the heroes of the story – would triumph over those who had oppressed them.

The neoliberal story explains that the world fell into disorder as a result of the collectivising tendencies of the overmighty state, exemplified by the monstrosities of Stalinism and nazism, but evident in all forms of state planning and all attempts to engineer social outcomes. Collectivism crushes freedom, individualism and opportunity. Heroic entrepreneurs, mobilising the redeeming power of the market, would fight this enforced conformity, freeing society from the enslavement of the state. Order would be restored in the form of free markets, delivering wealth and opportunity, guaranteeing a prosperous future for everyone. The ordinary people of the land, released by the heroes of the story (the freedom-seeking entrepreneurs) would triumph over those who had oppressed them.

... ... ...

But the best on offer from major political parties is a microwaved version of the remnants of Keynesian social democracy. There are several problems with this approach. The first is that this old story has lost most of its content and narrative force. What we now call Keynesianism has been reduced to two thin chapters: lowering interest rates when economies are sluggish and using countercyclical public spending (injecting public money into the economy when unemployment is high or recession threatens). Other measures, such as raising taxes when an economy grows quickly, to dampen the boom-bust cycle; the fixed exchange rate system; capital controls and a self-balancing global banking system (an international clearing union ) – all of which John Maynard Keynes saw as essential complements to these policies – have been discarded and forgotten.

This is partly because the troubles that beset the Keynesian model in the 1970s have not disappeared. While the oil embargo in 1973 was the immediate trigger for the lethal combination of high inflation and high unemployment (" stagflation ") that Keynesian policies were almost powerless to counteract, problems with the system had been mounting for years. Falling productivity and rising cost-push inflation (wages and prices pursuing each other upwards) were already beginning to erode support for Keynesian economics. Most importantly, perhaps, the programme had buckled in response to the political demands of capital.

Strong financial regulations and controls on the movement of money began to weaken in the 1950s, as governments started to liberalise financial markets . Richard Nixon 's decision in 1971 to suspend the convertibility of dollars into gold destroyed the system of fixed exchange rates on which much of the success of Keynes's policies depended. The capital controls used to prevent financiers and speculators from sucking money out of balanced Keynesian economies collapsed. We cannot hope that the strategies deployed by global finance in the 20th century will be unlearned.

But perhaps the biggest problem residual Keynesianism confronts is that, when it does work, it collides headfirst with the environmental crisis. A programme that seeks to sustain employment through constant economic growth, driven by consumer demand, seems destined to exacerbate our greatest predicament.

... ... ...

[Sep 19, 2017] Neoliberalism: the deep story that lies beneath Donald Trumps triumph: How a ruthless network of super-rich ideologues killed choice and destroyed people's faith in politics by George Monbiot

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The book was The Constitution of Liberty by Frederick Hayek . Its publication, in 1960, marked the transition from an honest, if extreme, philosophy to an outright racket. The philosophy was called neoliberalism . It saw competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. The market would discover a natural hierarchy of winners and losers, creating a more efficient system than could ever be devised through planning or by design. Anything that impeded this process, such as significant tax, regulation, trade union activity or state provision, was counter-productive. Unrestricted entrepreneurs would create the wealth that would trickle down to everyone. ..."
"... But by the time Hayek came to write The Constitution of Liberty, the network of lobbyists and thinkers he had founded was being lavishly funded by multimillionaires who saw the doctrine as a means of defending themselves against democracy. Not every aspect of the neoliberal programme advanced their interests. Hayek, it seems, set out to close the gap. ..."
"... He begins the book by advancing the narrowest possible conception of liberty: an absence of coercion. He rejects such notions as political freedom, universal rights, human equality and the distribution of wealth, all of which, by restricting the behaviour of the wealthy and powerful, intrude on the absolute freedom from coercion he demands. ..."
"... The general thrust is about the gradual hollowing out of the middle class (or more affluent working class, depending on the analytical terms being used), about insecurity, stress, casualisation, rising wage inequality. ..."
"... So Hayek, I feel, is like many theoreticians, in that he seems to want a pure world that will function according to a simple and universal law. The world never was, and never will be that simple, and current economics simply continues to have a blindspot for externalities that overwhelm the logic of an unfettered so-called free market. ..."
"... "Neoliberalism" is entirely compatible with "growth of the state". Reagan greatly enlarged the state. He privatized several functions and it actually had the effect of increasing spending. ..."
"... As for the rest, it's the usual practice of gathering every positive metric available and somehow attributing it to neoliberalism, no matter how tenuous the threads, and as always with zero rigour. Supposedly capitalism alone doubled life expectancy, supports billions of extra lives, invented the railways, and provides the drugs and equipment that keep us alive. As though public education, vaccines, antibiotics, and massive availability of energy has nothing to do with those things. ..."
"... I think the damage was done when the liberal left co-opted neo-liberalism. What happened under Bill Clinton was the development of crony capitalism where for example the US banks were told to lower their credit standards to lend to people who couldn't really afford to service the loans. ..."
Nov 16, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
he events that led to Donald Trump's election started in England in 1975. At a meeting a few months after Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Conservative party, one of her colleagues, or so the story goes, was explaining what he saw as the core beliefs of conservatism. She snapped open her handbag, pulled out a dog-eared book, and slammed it on the table . "This is what we believe," she said. A political revolution that would sweep the world had begun.

The book was The Constitution of Liberty by Frederick Hayek . Its publication, in 1960, marked the transition from an honest, if extreme, philosophy to an outright racket. The philosophy was called neoliberalism . It saw competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. The market would discover a natural hierarchy of winners and losers, creating a more efficient system than could ever be devised through planning or by design. Anything that impeded this process, such as significant tax, regulation, trade union activity or state provision, was counter-productive. Unrestricted entrepreneurs would create the wealth that would trickle down to everyone.

This, at any rate, is how it was originally conceived. But by the time Hayek came to write The Constitution of Liberty, the network of lobbyists and thinkers he had founded was being lavishly funded by multimillionaires who saw the doctrine as a means of defending themselves against democracy. Not every aspect of the neoliberal programme advanced their interests. Hayek, it seems, set out to close the gap.

He begins the book by advancing the narrowest possible conception of liberty: an absence of coercion. He rejects such notions as political freedom, universal rights, human equality and the distribution of wealth, all of which, by restricting the behaviour of the wealthy and powerful, intrude on the absolute freedom from coercion he demands.

Democracy, by contrast, "is not an ultimate or absolute value". In fact, liberty depends on preventing the majority from exercising choice over the direction that politics and society might take.

He justifies this position by creating a heroic narrative of extreme wealth. He conflates the economic elite, spending their money in new ways, with philosophical and scientific pioneers. Just as the political philosopher should be free to think the unthinkable, so the very rich should be free to do the undoable, without constraint by public interest or public opinion.

The ultra rich are "scouts", "experimenting with new styles of living", who blaze the trails that the rest of society will follow. The progress of society depends on the liberty of these "independents" to gain as much money as they want and spend it how they wish. All that is good and useful, therefore, arises from inequality. There should be no connection between merit and reward, no distinction made between earned and unearned income, and no limit to the rents they can charge.

Inherited wealth is more socially useful than earned wealth: "the idle rich", who don't have to work for their money, can devote themselves to influencing "fields of thought and opinion, of tastes and beliefs". Even when they seem to be spending money on nothing but "aimless display", they are in fact acting as society's vanguard.

Hayek softened his opposition to monopolies and hardened his opposition to trade unions. He lambasted progressive taxation and attempts by the state to raise the general welfare of citizens. He insisted that there is "an overwhelming case against a free health service for all" and dismissed the conservation of natural resources. It should come as no surprise to those who follow such matters that he was awarded the Nobel prize for economics .

By the time Thatcher slammed his book on the table, a lively network of thinktanks, lobbyists and academics promoting Hayek's doctrines had been established on both sides of the Atlantic, abundantly financed by some of the world's richest people and businesses , including DuPont, General Electric, the Coors brewing company, Charles Koch, Richard Mellon Scaife, Lawrence Fertig, the William Volker Fund and the Earhart Foundation. Using psychology and linguistics to brilliant effect, the thinkers these people sponsored found the words and arguments required to turn Hayek's anthem to the elite into a plausible political programme.

Thatcherism and Reaganism were not ideologies in their own right: they were just two faces of neoliberalism. Their massive tax cuts for the rich, crushing of trade unions, reduction in public housing, deregulation, privatisation, outsourcing and competition in public services were all proposed by Hayek and his disciples. But the real triumph of this network was not its capture of the right, but its colonisation of parties that once stood for everything Hayek detested.

Bill Clinton and Tony Blair did not possess a narrative of their own. Rather than develop a new political story, they thought it was sufficient to triangulate . In other words, they extracted a few elements of what their parties had once believed, mixed them with elements of what their opponents believed, and developed from this unlikely combination a "third way".

It was inevitable that the blazing, insurrectionary confidence of neoliberalism would exert a stronger gravitational pull than the dying star of social democracy. Hayek's triumph could be witnessed everywhere from Blair's expansion of the private finance initiative to Clinton's repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act , which had regulated the financial sector. For all his grace and touch, Barack Obama, who didn't possess a narrative either (except "hope"), was slowly reeled in by those who owned the means of persuasion.

As I warned in April, the result is first disempowerment then disenfranchisement. If the dominant ideology stops governments from changing social outcomes, they can no longer respond to the needs of the electorate. Politics becomes irrelevant to people's lives; debate is reduced to the jabber of a remote elite. The disenfranchised turn instead to a virulent anti-politics in which facts and arguments are replaced by slogans, symbols and sensation. The man who sank Hillary Clinton's bid for the presidency was not Donald Trump. It was her husband.

The paradoxical result is that the backlash against neoliberalism's crushing of political choice has elevated just the kind of man that Hayek worshipped. Trump, who has no coherent politics, is not a classic neoliberal. But he is the perfect representation of Hayek's "independent"; the beneficiary of inherited wealth, unconstrained by common morality, whose gross predilections strike a new path that others may follow. The neoliberal thinktankers are now swarming round this hollow man, this empty vessel waiting to be filled by those who know what they want. The likely result is the demolition of our remaining decencies, beginning with the agreement to limit global warming .

Those who tell the stories run the world. Politics has failed through a lack of competing narratives. The key task now is to tell a new story of what it is to be a human in the 21st century. It must be as appealing to some who have voted for Trump and Ukip as it is to the supporters of Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn.

A few of us have been working on this, and can discern what may be the beginning of a story. It's too early to say much yet, but at its core is the recognition that – as modern psychology and neuroscience make abundantly clear – human beings, by comparison with any other animals, are both remarkably social and remarkably unselfish . The atomisation and self-interested behaviour neoliberalism promotes run counter to much of what comprises human nature.

Hayek told us who we are, and he was wrong. Our first step is to reclaim our humanity.

justamug -> Skytree 16 Nov 2016 18:17

Thanks for the chuckle. On a more serious note - defining neoliberalism is not that easy since it is not a laid out philosophy like liberalism, or socialism, or communism or facism. Since 2008 the use of the word neoliberalism has increased in frequency and has come to mean different things to different people.

A common theme appears to be the negative effects of the market on the human condition.

Having read David Harvey's book, and Phillip Mirowski's book (both had a go at defining neoliberalism and tracing its history) it is clear that neoliberalism is not really coherent set of ideas.

ianfraser3 16 Nov 2016 17:54

EF Schumacher quoted "seek first the kingdom of God" in his epilogue of "Small Is Beautiful: a study of economics as if people mattered". This was written in the early 1970s before the neoliberal project bit in the USA and the UK. The book is laced with warnings about the effects of the imposition of neoliberalism on society, people and the planet. The predictions have largely come true. New politics and economics needed, by leaders who place at the heart of their approach the premise, and fact, that humans are "by comparison with any other animals, are both remarkably social and remarkably unselfish". It is about reclaiming our humanity from a project that treats people as just another commodity.


Filipio -> YouDidntBuildThat 16 Nov 2016 17:42

Whoa there, slow down.

Your last post was questioning the reality of neoliberalism as a general policy direction that had become hegemonic across many governments (and most in the west) over recent decades. Now you seem to be agreeing that the notion does have salience, but that neoliberalism delivered positive rather than negative consequences.

Well, its an ill wind that blows nobody any good, huh?

Doubtless there were some positive outcomes for particular groups. But recall that the context for this thread is not whether, on balance, more people benefited from neoliberal policies than were harmed -- an argument that would be most powerful only in very utilitarian style frameworks of thought (most good for the many, or most harm for only the few). The thread is about the significance of the impacts of neoliberalism in the rise of Trump. And in specific relation to privatisation (just one dimension of neoliberalism) one key impact was downsizing (or 'rightsizing'; restructuring). There is a plethora of material, including sociological and psychological, on the harm caused by shrinking and restructured work-forces as a consequence of privatisation. Books have been written, even in the business management sector, about how poorly such 'change' was handled and the multiple deleterious outcomes experienced by employees.

And we're still only talking about one dimension of neoliberalism! Havn't even touched on deregulation yet (notably, labour market and financial sector).

The general thrust is about the gradual hollowing out of the middle class (or more affluent working class, depending on the analytical terms being used), about insecurity, stress, casualisation, rising wage inequality.

You want evidence? I'm not doing your research for you. The internet can be a great resource, or merely an echo chamber. The problem with so many of the alt-right (and this applies on the extreme left as well) is that they only look to confirm their views, not read widely. Open your eyes, and use your search engine of choice. There is plenty out there. Be open to having your preconceptions challenged.

RichardErskine -> LECKJ3000 16 Nov 2016 15:38

LECKJ3000 - I am not an economist, but surely the theoretical idealised mechanisms of the market are never realised in practice. US subsidizing their farmers, in EU too, etc. And for problems that are not only externalities but transnational ones, the idea that some Hayek mechanism will protect thr ozone layer or limit carbon emissions, without some regulation or tax.

Lord Stern called global warming the greatest market failure in history, but no market, however sophisticated, can deal with it without some price put on the effluent of product (the excessive CO2 we put into the atmosphere).

As with Montreal and subsequent agreements, there is a way to maintain a level playing field; to promote different substances for use as refrigerants; and to address the hole in ozone layer; without abandoning the market altogether. Simple is good, because it avoids over-engineering the interventions (and the unintended consequences you mention).

The same could/ should be true of global warming, but we have left it so late we cannot wait for the (inevitable) fall of fossil fuels and supremacy of renewables. We need a price on carbon, which is a graduated and fast rising tax essentially on its production and/or consumption, which has already started to happen ( http://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/Worldbank/document/SDN/background-note_carbon-tax.pdf ), albeit not deep / fast / extensive enough, or international in character, but that will come, if not before the impacts really bite then soon after.

So Hayek, I feel, is like many theoreticians, in that he seems to want a pure world that will function according to a simple and universal law. The world never was, and never will be that simple, and current economics simply continues to have a blindspot for externalities that overwhelm the logic of an unfettered so-called free market.

LionelKent -> greven 16 Nov 2016 14:59

And persistent. J.K. Galbraith viewed the rightwing mind as predominantly concerned with figuring out a way to justify the shift of wealth from the immense majority to an elite at the top. I for one regret acutely that he did not (as far as I know) write a volume on his belief in progressive taxation.

RandomLibertarian -> JVRTRL 16 Nov 2016 09:19

Not bad points.

When it comes to social safety net programs, e.g. in health care and education -- those programs almost always tend to be more expensive and more complicated when privatized. If the goal was to actually save taxpayer money, in the U.S. at least, it would have made a lot more sense to have a universal Medicare system, rather than a massive patch-work like the ACA and our hybrid market.

Do not forget that the USG, in WW2, took the deliberate step of allowing employers to provide health insurance as a tax-free benefit - which it still is, being free even from SS and Medicare taxes. In the post-war boom years this resulted in the development of a system with private rooms, almost on-demand access to specialists, and competitive pay for all involved (while the NHS, by contrast, increasingly drew on immigrant populations for nurses and below). Next, the large sums of money in the system and a generous court system empowered a vast malpractice industry. So to call our system in any way a consequence of a free market is a misnomer.

Entirely state controlled health care systems tend to be even more cost-effective.

Read Megan McArdle's work in this area. The US has had similar cost growth since the 1970s to the rest of the world. The problem was that it started from a higher base.

Part of the issue is that privatization tends to create feedback mechanism that increase the size of spending in programs. Even Eisenhower's noted "military industrial complex" is an illustration of what happens when privatization really takes hold.

When government becomes involved in business, business gets involved in government!

Todd Smekens 16 Nov 2016 08:40

Albert Einstein said, "capitalism is evil" in his famous dictum called, "Why Socialism" in 1949. He also called communism, "evil", so don't jump to conclusions, comrades. ;)

His reasoning was it distorts a human beings longing for the social aspect. I believe George references this in his statement about people being "unselfish". This is noted by both science and philosophy.

Einstein noted that historically, the conqueror would establish the new order, and since 1949, Western Imperialism has continued on with the predatory phase of acquiring and implementing democracy/capitalism. This needs to end. As we've learned rapidly, capitalism isn't sustainable. We are literally overheating the earth which sustains us. Very unwise.

Einstein wrote, "Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life. Only the existence of these varied, frequently conflicting, strivings accounts for the special character of a man, and their specific combination determines the extent to which an individual can achieve an inner equilibrium and can contribute to the well-being of society."

Personally, I'm glad George and others are working on a new economic and social construct for us "human beings". It's time we leave the predatory phase of "us versus them", and construct a new society which works for the good of our now, global society.

zavaell -> LECKJ3000 16 Nov 2016 06:28

The problem is that both you and Monbiot fail to mention that your "the spontaneous order of the market" does not recognize externalities and climate change is outside Hayek's thinking - he never wrote about sustainability or the limits on resources, let alone the consequences of burning fossil fuels. There is no beauty in what he wrote - it was a cold, mechanical model that assumed certain human behaviour but not others. Look at today's money-makers - they are nearly all climate change deniers and we have to have government to reign them in.

aLERNO 16 Nov 2016 04:52

Good, short and concise article. But the FIRST NEOLIBERAL MILESTONE WAS THE 1973 COUP D'ETAT IN CHILE, which not surprisingly also deposed the first democratically-elected socialist government.

accipiter15 16 Nov 2016 02:34

A great article and explanation of the influence of Hayek on Thatcher. Unfortunately this country is still suffering the consequences of her tenure and Osborne was also a proponent of her policies and look where we are as a consequence. The referendum gave the people the opportunity to vent their anger and if we had PR I suspect we would have a greater turn-out and nearly always have some sort of coalition where nothing gets done that is too hurtful to the population. As for Trump, again his election is an expression of anger and desperation. However, the American voting system is as unfair as our own - again this has probably been the cause of the low turn-out. Why should people vote when they do not get fair representation - it is a waste of time and not democratic. I doubt that Trump is Keynsian I suspect he doesn't have an economic theory at all. I just hope that the current economic thinking prevailing currently in this country, which is still overshadowed by Thatcher and the free market, with no controls over the city casino soon collapses and we can start from a fairer and more inclusive base!

JVRTRL -> Keypointist 16 Nov 2016 02:15

The system that Clinton developed was an inheritance from George H.W. Bush, Reagan (to a large degree), Carter, with another large assist from Nixon and the Powell Memo.

Bill Clinton didn't do it by himself. The GOP did it with him hand-in-hand, with the only resistance coming from a minority within the Democratic party.

Trump's victory was due to many factors. A large part of it was Hillary Clinton's campaign and the candidate. Part of it was the effectiveness of the GOP massive resistance strategy during the Obama years, wherein they pursued a course of obstruction in an effort to slow the rate of the economic recovery (e.g. as evidence of the bad faith, they are resurrecting a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that Obama originally proposed in 2012, and now that they have full control, all the talk about "deficits" goes out the window).

Obama and the Democratic party also bear responsibility for not recognizing the full scope of the financial collapse in 2008-2009, passing a stimulus package that was about $1 trillion short of spending needed to accelerate the recovery by the 2010 mid-terms, combined with a weak financial regulation law (which the GOP is going to destroy), an overly complicated health care law -- classic technocratic, neoliberal incremental policy -- and the failure of the Obama administration to hold Wall Street accountable for criminal misconduct relating to the financial crisis. Obama's decision to push unpopular trade agreements didn't help either. As part of the post-mortem, the decision to continuing pushing the TPP may have cost Clinton in the rust belt states that went for Trump. The agreement was unpopular, and her shift on the policy didn't come across as credible. People noticed as well that Obama was trying to pass the measure through the lame-duck session of Congress post-election. With Trump's election, the TPP is done too.

JVRTRL daltonknox67 16 Nov 2016 02:00

There is no iron law that says a country has to run large trade deficits. The existence of large trade deficits is usually a result of policy choices.

Growth also hasn't gone into the tank. What's changed is the distribution of the gains in GDP growth -- that is in no small part a direct consequence of changes in policy since the 1970s. It isn't some "market place magic". We have made major changes to tax laws since that time. We have weakened collective bargaining, which obviously has a negative impact on wages. We have shifted the economy towards financial services, which has the tendency of increasing inequality.

The idea too that people will be "poorer" than in the 1920s and 1930s is just plain ignorant. It has no basis in any of the data. Wages in the bottom quartile have actually decreased slightly since the 1970s in real terms, but those wages in the 1970s were still exponentially higher than wages in the 1920s in real terms.

Wages aren't stagnating because people are working less. Wages have stagnated because of dumb policy choices that have tended to incentives looting by those at the top of the income distribution from workers in the lower parts of the economy. The 2008 bailouts were a clear illustration of this reality. People in industries rigged rules to benefit themselves. They misallocated resources. Then they went to representatives and taxpayers and asked for a large no-strings attached handout that was effectively worth trillions of dollars (e.g. hundreds of billions through TARP, trillions more through other programs). As these players become wealthier, they have an easier time buying politicians to rig rules further to their advantage.


JVRTRL YinxxXing 16 Nov 2016 01:50

Part of the problem is a quirk of the U.S. system. We have an electoral college system, which was originally adopted over 200 years ago, in part, in order to help to preserve slavery. If the presidential election was based on a national vote, I suspect we would have higher participation rates, because every vote in every state would carry equal weight.

As things stand now, in 35-40 states in any election cycle, there usually isn't much doubt about the result of the presidential race.

On top of this, there are all kind of obstacles that tend to make voting more difficult. e.g. voting on a weekday, voter IDs, voter suppression efforts.

JVRTRL -> RandomLibertarian 16 Nov 2016 01:44

"The tyranny of the 51 per cent is the oldest and most solid argument against a pure democracy."

"Tyranny of the majority" is always a little bizarre, given that the dynamics of majority rule are unlike the governmental structures of an actual tyranny. Even in the context of the U.S. we had minority rule due to voting restrictions for well over a century that was effectively a tyranny for anyone who was denied the ability to participation in the elections process. Pure majorities can go out of control, especially in a country with massive wealth disparities and with weak civic institutions.

On the other hand, this is part of the reason to construct a system of checks and balances. It's also part of the argument for representative democracy.

"Neoliberalism" is entirely compatible with "growth of the state". Reagan greatly enlarged the state. He privatized several functions and it actually had the effect of increasing spending.

When it comes to social safety net programs, e.g. in health care and education -- those programs almost always tend to be more expensive and more complicated when privatized. If the goal was to actually save taxpayer money, in the U.S. at least, it would have made a lot more sense to have a universal Medicare system, rather than a massive patch-work like the ACA and our hybrid market.

Entirely state controlled health care systems tend to be even more cost-effective. Part of the issue is that privatization tends to create feedback mechanism that increase the size of spending in programs. Even Eisenhower's noted "military industrial complex" is an illustration of what happens when privatization really takes hold.

daltonknox67 15 Nov 2016 21:46

After WWII most of the industrialised world had been bombed or fought over with destruction of infrastructure and manufacturing. The US alone was undamaged. It enjoyed a manufacturing boom that lasted until the 70's when competition from Germany and Japan, and later Taiwan, Korea and China finally brought it to an end.

As a result Americans born after 1950 will be poorer than the generation born in the 20's and 30's.

This is not a conspiracy or government malfunction. It is a quirk of history. Get over it and try working.

Arma Geddon 15 Nov 2016 21:11

Another nasty neoliberal policy of Reagan and Thatcher, was to close all the mental hospitals, and to sweeten the pill to sell to the voters, they called it Care in the Community, except by the time those hospitals closed and the people who had to relay on those institutions, they found out and are still finding out that there is very little care in the community left any more, thanks to Thatcher's disintegration of the ethos community spirit.

In their neoliberal mantra of thinking, you are on your own now, tough, move on, because you are hopeless and non productive, hence you are a burden to taxpayers.

Its been that way of thinking for over thirty years, and now the latest group targeted, are the sick and disabled, victims of the neoliberal made banking crash and its neoliberal inspired austerity, imposed of those least able to fight back or defend themselves i.e. vulnerable people again!

AlfredHerring GimmeHendrix 15 Nov 2016 20:23

It was in reference to Maggie slapping a copy of Hayek's Constitution of Liberty on the table and saying this is what we believe. As soon as you introduce the concept of belief you're talking about religion hence completeness while Hayek was writing about economics which demands consistency. i.e. St. Maggie was just as bad as any Stalinist: economics and religion must be kept separate or you get a bunch of dead peasants for no reason other than your own vanity.

Ok, religion based on a sky god who made us all is problematic but at least there's always the possibility of supplication and miracles. Base a religion on economic theory and you're just making sausage of your neighbors kids.

TanTan -> crystaltips2 15 Nov 2016 20:10

If you claim that the only benefit of private enterprise is its taxability, as you did, then why not cut out the middle man and argue for full state-directed capitalism?

Because it is plainly obvious that private enterprise is not directed toward the public good (and by definition). As we have both agreed, it needs to have the right regulations and framework to give it some direction in that regard. What "the radical left" are pointing out is that the idea of private enterprise is now completely out of control, to the point where voters are disenfranchised because private enterprise has more say over what the government does than the people. Which is clearly a problem.

As for the rest, it's the usual practice of gathering every positive metric available and somehow attributing it to neoliberalism, no matter how tenuous the threads, and as always with zero rigour. Supposedly capitalism alone doubled life expectancy, supports billions of extra lives, invented the railways, and provides the drugs and equipment that keep us alive. As though public education, vaccines, antibiotics, and massive availability of energy has nothing to do with those things.

As for this computer being the invention of capitalism, who knows, but I suppose if one were to believe that everything was invented and created by capitalism and monetary motives then one might believe that. Energy allotments referred to the limit of our usage of readily available fossil fuels which you remain blissfully unaware of.

Children have already been educated to agree with you, in no small part due to a fear of the communist regimes at the time, but at the expense of critical thinking. Questioning the system even when it has plainly been undermined to its core is quickly labelled "radical" regardless of the normalcy of the query. I don't know what you could possibly think left-wing motives could be, but your own motives are plain to see when you immediately lump people who care about the planet in with communist idealogues. If rampant capitalism was going to solve our problems I'm all for it, but it will take a miracle to reverse the damage it has already done, and only a fool would trust it any further.

YouDidntBuildThat -> Filipio 15 Nov 2016 20:06

Filipo

You argue that a great many government functions have been privatized. I agree. Yet strangely you present zero evidence of any downsides of that happening. Most of the academic research shows a net benefit, not just on budgets but on employee and customer satisfaction. See for example.

And despite these privitazation cost savings and alleged neoliberal "austerity" government keeps taking a larger share of our money, like a malignant cancer. No worries....We're from the government, and we're here to help.

Keypointist 15 Nov 2016 20:04

I think the damage was done when the liberal left co-opted neo-liberalism. What happened under Bill Clinton was the development of crony capitalism where for example the US banks were told to lower their credit standards to lend to people who couldn't really afford to service the loans.

It was this that created too big to fail and the financial crisis of 2008. Conservative neo-liberals believe passionately in competition and hate monopolies. The liberal left removed was was productive about neo-liberalism and replaced it with a kind of soft state capitalism where big business was protected by the state and the tax payer was called on to bail out these businesses. THIS more than anything else led to Trump's victory.

[Sep 19, 2017] The political project of neoliberalism, brought to ascendence by Thatcher and Reagan, has pursued two principal objectives. The first has been to dismantle any barriers to the exercise of unaccountable private power. The second had been to erect them to the exercise of any democratic public will

Sep 19, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

The political project of neoliberalism , brought to ascendence by Thatcher and Reagan, has pursued two principal objectives. The first has been to dismantle any barriers to the exercise of unaccountable private power. The second had been to erect them to the exercise of any democratic public will.

Its trademark policies of privatization, deregulation, tax cuts and free trade deals: these have liberated corporations to accumulate enormous profits and treat the atmosphere like a sewage dump, and hamstrung our ability, through the instrument of the state, to plan for our collective welfare.

Anything resembling a collective check on corporate power has become a target of the elite: lobbying and corporate donations, hollowing out democracies, have obstructed green policies and kept fossil fuel subsidies flowing; and the rights of associations like unions, the most effective means for workers to wield power together, have been undercut whenever possible.

At the very moment when climate change demands an unprecedented collective public response, neoliberal ideology stands in the way. Which is why, if we want to bring down emissions fast, we will need to overcome all of its free-market mantras: take railways and utilities and energy grids back into public control; regulate corporations to phase out fossil fuels; and raise taxes to pay for massive investment in climate-ready infrastructure and renewable energy -- so that solar panels can go on everyone's rooftop, not just on those who can afford it.

Neoliberalism has not merely ensured this agenda is politically unrealistic: it has also tried to make it culturally unthinkable. Its celebration of competitive self-interest and hyper-individualism, its stigmatization of compassion and solidarity, has frayed our collective bonds . It has spread, like an insidious anti-social toxin, what Margaret Thatcher preached: "there is no such thing as society."

Studies show that people who have grown up under this era have indeed become more individualistic and consumerist . Steeped in a culture telling us to think of ourselves as consumers instead of citizens, as self-reliant instead of interdependent, is it any wonder we deal with a systemic issue by turning in droves to ineffectual, individual efforts? We are all Thatcher's children.

Even before the advent of neoliberalism, the capitalist economy had thrived on people believing that being afflicted by the structural problems of an exploitative system – poverty, joblessness, poor health, lack of fulfillment – was in fact a personal deficiency.

Neoliberalism has taken this internalized self-blame and turbocharged it. It tells you that you should not merely feel guilt and shame if you can't secure a good job, are deep in debt, and are too stressed or overworked for time with friends. You are now also responsible for bearing the burden of potential ecological collapse.

Of course we need people to consume less and innovate low-carbon alternatives – build sustainable farms, invent battery storages, spread zero-waste methods. But individual choices will most count when the economic system can provide viable, environmental options for everyone!not just an affluent or intrepid few.

If affordable mass transit isn't available, people will commute with cars. If local organic food is too expensive, they won't opt out of fossil fuel-intensive super-market chains. If cheap mass produced goods flow endlessly, they will buy and buy and buy. This is the con-job of neoliberalism: to persuade us to address climate change through our pocket-books, rather than through power and politics.

Eco-consumerism may expiate your guilt. But it's only mass movements that have the power to alter the trajectory of the climate crisis. This requires of us first a resolute mental break from the spell cast by neoliberalism: to stop thinking like individuals.

The good news is that the impulse of humans to come together is inextinguishable – and the collective imagination is already making a political come-back. The climate justice movement is blocking pipelines, forcing the divestment of trillions of dollars, and winning support for 100% clean energy economies in cities and states across the world. New ties are being drawn to Black Lives Matter, immigrant and Indigenous rights, and fights for better wages. On the heels of such movements, political parties seem finally ready to defy neoliberal dogma.

None more so than Jeremy Corbyn, whose Labour Manifesto spelled out a redistributive project to address climate change: by publicly retooling the economy, and insisting that corporate oligarchs no longer run amok. The notion that the rich should pay their fair share to fund this transformation was considered laughable by the political and media class. Millions disagreed. Society, long said to be departed, is now back with a vengeance.

So grow some carrots and jump on a bike: it will make you happier and healthier. But it is time to stop obsessing with how personally green we live – and start collectively taking on corporate power.

[Sep 19, 2017] How neoliberalism left a toxic legacy

Notable quotes:
"... Henllan, Denbighshire ..."
"... Wallington, Surrey ..."
Sep 19, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Reading your long read on liberalism, it crossed my mind that Friedrich Hayek must be turning in his grave ( The big idea that defines our era , 19 August). Neoliberalism has demolished Hayek's theory of markets. Markets are not free: they are controlled by a wealthy minority of state-sized corporations. Markets are not efficient: they generate mountains of waste as corporations walk away from every abandoned disaster, expecting someone else to clear up the mess. Markets are not competitive: mergers, acquisitions, takeovers and buyouts reduce competition and choice for the consumer. Multinational corporations and international banks so dominate national governments that criminality is tolerated and, in the case of banks, even accepted as normal.

The 2008 crash showed that only the insiders of the financial services industry know what is going on. When a combination of incompetence and greed wrecked the international economy, taxpayers/consumers had to fund a colossal bailout. If big government hadn't organised a rescue, the neoliberal marketplace would have disappeared up its own rectum. The "market economy" is not an "objective science". Hayek's big idea is fatally flawed.
Martin London
Henllan, Denbighshire

Hayek's may have been "the big idea that defines our era", but economies run by governments favouring his ideas, broadly those since Thatcher and Reagan, have been far less successful providing for the majority of their people than those that favoured John Maynard Keynes. Albert Camus wrote that his generation's task was to prevent the world destroying itself. Today it requires a triumph of hope over experience to believe that free marketeers will address climate change. And if the "invisible hand" should always decide, it was odd that its manifestation, almost immediately after WWII, was the finance sector recruiting (directly or indirectly) economists, journalists and politicians to reverse Keynes's theories and policies and to denounce him as a "tax and spender".
David Murray
Wallington, Surrey

What is neoliberalism? It's that moment when you ought to step in to do something about the dehumanised, exploited fast food courier, pedalling furiously along the busy pavement to the beat of the algorithm (past the homeless in their sleeping bags, the slaves in their nail bars and massage parlours, and the private security officers patrolling the "investment properties" that were once homes) before he ploughs into the arthritic, mentally ill woman painfully inching her way to humiliation at an "independent" work capability assessment – but you don't bother because you know the market's invisible hand will sort things out for you.
Ian McCormack
Leicester

[Sep 19, 2017] Goodbye neoliberalism, hello common good by Robin Le Mare

Notable quotes:
"... Allithwaite, Cumbria ..."
Sep 19, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

The academic, political and philosophical basis, with its misanthropic view that everyone is essentially selfish, is bust, argues Robin Le Mare Margaret Thatcher and Ronal Reagan great believers in neoliberilsm.

The academic, political and philosophical basis, with its misanthropic view that everyone is essentially selfish, is bust, argues Robin Le Mare

Letters

Sunday 6 August 2017 13.22 EDT Last modified on Sunday 6 August 2017 17.00 EDT At last, a clear indication of the neoliberal revolution coming to an end ( How Britain fell out of love with the free market , 5 August). I wish it were more clearly stated by politicians and in the questions journalists ask them. It is high time to denounce those behind the whole scheme – one which is so obviously leading to many tragedies of the commons.

The academic (Friedman, Hayek, Buchanan et al), political (Reagan, Thatcher ...) and philosophical basis, with its misanthropic view that everyone is essentially selfish, is bust. The hypocrisy of that idea is astounding, the more so that it gained such following and influence, as every one of those who supported it had families, lived in communities, joined clubs and depended on others every day.

The article mentions the corruption of 2007-08 banking. The consequences from it, and neoliberalism generally, being many examples of tragedies of the commons: bonus culture, plastics pollution, accelerated species extinctions, atmospheric chaos and oceanic acidification, wars and mass migration. There's a great deal of highly damaging social and ecosystem free riding in play, and directly related to the perverse economic philosophy that is currently dominant.

Failed models need to be denounced and rejected, but that is inadequate without a clear statement of alternatives. The ghastly "there is no alternative" has to be rebuked, as there are and have to be alternatives. I would start by emphasising Elinor Ostrom's analysis of economic governance, especially the commons, for which she was awarded the Nobel prize in 2009. I encourage people to ask their councillors and MPs how policies benefit the common good. I want journalists to ask every politician how their actions benefit the common good.

Discussions about the boundaries between public, private and common need to be promoted in churches, pubs, town halls and parliament. Every policy is conducted with reference to the economy, but rarely are questions asked about the externalities involved in the policy. I look forward to a Guardian long read describing "alternatives to the orthodox".
Robin Le Mare
Allithwaite, Cumbria

Your excellent long read last Saturday could also have included a further casualty of capitalism – welfare services. In the late 80s, when I was working in Bolton's social services, I remember the arrival of the purchaser-provider split doctrine when some key health service manager colleagues were barred from our regular joint health and social services meetings because they were providers.

This approach of introducing the market economy started to affect us in social services in the early 1990s when we, too, were obliged by the government to restructure our departments and separate purchasing staff from providing staff.

It always intrigued me how introducing the market economy into the provision of welfare services would do anything but drive costs down rather than improve and increase our services to meet ever-increasing demand and expectations. So much so, that I chose to examine what differences a Labour government would bring to the delivery of social services and whether it would continue with a market economy approach, when I began my M Phil at Lincoln University in 1998.

Needless to say, when I completed my study three years later, I could only conclude that Labour continued to promote the concept of trading and a welfare industry driven by market forces, which has now led to the current crisis of a decimation of so many of the services we were once so proud of.

Your article implies that there is "a stirring among genuine Conservatives that capitalism is against place and home" I would add that capitalism is also against welfare.
Nick Thompson
Liverpool

[Sep 19, 2017] Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world by Stephen Metcalf

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The word ["neoliberalism"] has become a rhetorical weapon, but it properly names the reigning ideology of our era – one that venerates the logic of the market and strips away the things that make us human. ..."
"... Last summer, researchers at the International Monetary Fund settled a long and bitter debate over "neoliberalism": they admitted it exists. Three senior economists at the IMF, an organisation not known for its incaution, published a paper questioning the benefits of neoliberalism ..."
"... The paper gently called out a "neoliberal agenda" for pushing deregulation on economies around the world, for forcing open national markets to trade and capital, and for demanding that governments shrink themselves via austerity or privatisation. The authors cited statistical evidence for the spread of neoliberal policies since 1980, and their correlation with anaemic growth, boom-and-bust cycles and inequality. ..."
"... In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, it was a way of assigning responsibility for the debacle, not to a political party per se, but to an establishment that had conceded its authority to the market. For the Democrats in the US and Labour in the UK, this concession was depicted as a grotesque betrayal of principle. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, it was said, had abandoned the left's traditional commitments, especially to workers, in favour of a global financial elite and the self-serving policies that enriched them; and in doing so, had enabled a sickening rise in inequality. ..."
"... Peer through the lens of neoliberalism and you see more clearly how the political thinkers most admired by Thatcher and Reagan helped shape the ideal of society as a kind of universal market ..."
"... Of course the goal was to weaken the welfare state and any commitment to full employment, and – always – to cut taxes and deregulate. But "neoliberalism" indicates something more than a standard rightwing wish list. It was a way of reordering social reality, and of rethinking our status as individuals. ..."
"... In short, "neoliberalism" is not simply a name for pro-market policies, or for the compromises with finance capitalism made by failing social democratic parties. It is a name for a premise that, quietly, has come to regulate all we practise and believe: that competition is the only legitimate organising principle for human activity. ..."
"... No sooner had neoliberalism been certified as real, and no sooner had it made clear the universal hypocrisy of the market, than the populists and authoritarians came to power ..."
"... Against the forces of global integration, national identity is being reasserted, and in the crudest possible terms. What could the militant parochialism of Brexit Britain and Trumpist America have to do with neoliberal rationality? ..."
"... It isn't only that the free market produces a tiny cadre of winners and an enormous army of losers – and the losers, looking for revenge, have turned to Brexit and Trump. There was, from the beginning, an inevitable relationship between the utopian ideal of the free market and the dystopian present in which we find ourselves; ..."
"... That Hayek is considered the grandfather of neoliberalism – a style of thought that reduces everything to economics – is a little ironic given that he was such a mediocre economist. ..."
"... This last is what makes neoliberalism "neo". It is a crucial modification of the older belief in a free market and a minimal state, known as "classical liberalism". In classical liberalism, merchants simply asked the state to "leave us alone" – to laissez-nous faire. Neoliberalism recognised that the state must be active in the organisation of a market economy. The conditions allowing for a free market must be won politically, and the state must be re-engineered to support the free market on an ongoing basis. ..."
"... Hayek had only his idea to console him; an idea so grand it would one day dissolve the ground beneath the feet of Keynes and every other intellectual. Left to its own devices, the price system functions as a kind of mind. And not just any mind, but an omniscient one: the market computes what individuals cannot grasp. Reaching out to him as an intellectual comrade-in-arms, the American journalist Walter Lippmann wrote to Hayek, saying: "No human mind has ever understood the whole scheme of a society At best a mind can understand its own version of the scheme, something much thinner, which bears to reality some such relation as a silhouette to a man." ..."
"... The only social end is the maintenance of the market itself. In its omniscience, the market constitutes the only legitimate form of knowledge, next to which all other modes of reflection are partial, in both senses of the word: they comprehend only a fragment of a whole and they plead on behalf of a special interest. Individually, our values are personal ones, or mere opinions; collectively, the market converts them into prices, or objective facts. ..."
"... According to the logic of Hayek's Big Idea, these expressions of human subjectivity are meaningless without ratification by the market ..."
"... ociety reconceived as a giant market leads to a public life lost to bickering over mere opinions; until the public turns, finally, in frustration to a strongman as a last resort for solving its otherwise intractable problems. ..."
"... What began as a new form of intellectual authority, rooted in a devoutly apolitical worldview, nudged easily into an ultra-reactionary politics ..."
Aug 18, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

The word ["neoliberalism"] has become a rhetorical weapon, but it properly names the reigning ideology of our era – one that venerates the logic of the market and strips away the things that make us human.

Last summer, researchers at the International Monetary Fund settled a long and bitter debate over "neoliberalism": they admitted it exists. Three senior economists at the IMF, an organisation not known for its incaution, published a paper questioning the benefits of neoliberalism . In so doing, they helped put to rest the idea that the word is nothing more than a political slur, or a term without any analytic power. The paper gently called out a "neoliberal agenda" for pushing deregulation on economies around the world, for forcing open national markets to trade and capital, and for demanding that governments shrink themselves via austerity or privatisation. The authors cited statistical evidence for the spread of neoliberal policies since 1980, and their correlation with anaemic growth, boom-and-bust cycles and inequality.

Neoliberalism is an old term, dating back to the 1930s, but it has been revived as a way of describing our current politics – or more precisely, the range of thought allowed by our politics . In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, it was a way of assigning responsibility for the debacle, not to a political party per se, but to an establishment that had conceded its authority to the market. For the Democrats in the US and Labour in the UK, this concession was depicted as a grotesque betrayal of principle. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, it was said, had abandoned the left's traditional commitments, especially to workers, in favour of a global financial elite and the self-serving policies that enriched them; and in doing so, had enabled a sickening rise in inequality.

Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world – podcast

Over the past few years, as debates have turned uglier, the word has become a rhetorical weapon, a way for anyone left of centre to incriminate those even an inch to their right. (No wonder centrists say it's a meaningless insult: they're the ones most meaningfully insulted by it.) But "neoliberalism" is more than a gratifyingly righteous jibe. It is also, in its way, a pair of eyeglasses.

Peer through the lens of neoliberalism and you see more clearly how the political thinkers most admired by Thatcher and Reagan helped shape the ideal of society as a kind of universal market (and not, for example, a polis, a civil sphere or a kind of family) and of human beings as profit-and-loss calculators (and not bearers of grace, or of inalienable rights and duties). Of course the goal was to weaken the welfare state and any commitment to full employment, and – always – to cut taxes and deregulate. But "neoliberalism" indicates something more than a standard rightwing wish list. It was a way of reordering social reality, and of rethinking our status as individuals.

Still peering through the lens, you see how, no less than the welfare state, the free market is a human invention. You see how pervasively we are now urged to think of ourselves as proprietors of our own talents and initiative, how glibly we are told to compete and adapt. You see the extent to which a language formerly confined to chalkboard simplifications describing commodity markets (competition, perfect information, rational behaviour) has been applied to all of society, until it has invaded the grit of our personal lives, and how the attitude of the salesman has become enmeshed in all modes of self-expression.

In short, "neoliberalism" is not simply a name for pro-market policies, or for the compromises with finance capitalism made by failing social democratic parties. It is a name for a premise that, quietly, has come to regulate all we practise and believe: that competition is the only legitimate organising principle for human activity.

No sooner had neoliberalism been certified as real, and no sooner had it made clear the universal hypocrisy of the market, than the populists and authoritarians came to power. In the US, Hillary Clinton, the neoliberal arch-villain, lost – and to a man who knew just enough to pretend he hated free trade . So are the eyeglasses now useless? Can they do anything to help us understand what is broken about British and American politics? Against the forces of global integration, national identity is being reasserted, and in the crudest possible terms. What could the militant parochialism of Brexit Britain and Trumpist America have to do with neoliberal rationality? What possible connection is there between the president – a freewheeling boob – and the bloodless paragon of efficiency known as the free market?

It isn't only that the free market produces a tiny cadre of winners and an enormous army of losers – and the losers, looking for revenge, have turned to Brexit and Trump. There was, from the beginning, an inevitable relationship between the utopian ideal of the free market and the dystopian present in which we find ourselves; between the market as unique discloser of value and guardian of liberty, and our current descent into post-truth and illiberalism.

Moving the stale debate about neoliberalism forward begins, I think, with taking seriously the measure of its cumulative effect on all of us, regardless of affiliation. And this requires returning to its origins, which have nothing to do with Bill or Hillary Clinton. There once was a group of people who did call themselves neoliberals, and did so proudly, and their ambition was a total revolution in thought. The most prominent among them, Friedrich Hayek, did not think he was staking out a position on the political spectrum, or making excuses for the fatuous rich, or tinkering along the edges of microeconomics.

He thought he was solving the problem of modernity: the problem of objective knowledge. For Hayek, the market didn't just facilitate trade in goods and services; it revealed truth. How did his ambition collapse into its opposite – the mind-bending possibility that, thanks to our thoughtless veneration of the free market, truth might be driven from public life altogether?


When the idea occurred to Friedrich Hayek in 1936, he knew, with the conviction of a "sudden illumination", that he had struck upon something new. "How can the combination of fragments of knowledge existing in different minds," he wrote, "bring about results which, if they were to be brought about deliberately, would require a knowledge on the part of the directing mind which no single person can possess?"

This was not a technical point about interest rates or deflationary slumps. This was not a reactionary polemic against collectivism or the welfare state. This was a way of birthing a new world. To his mounting excitement, Hayek understood that the market could be thought of as a kind of mind.

Adam Smith's "invisible hand" had already given us the modern conception of the market: as an autonomous sphere of human activity and therefore, potentially, a valid object of scientific knowledge. But Smith was, until the end of his life, an 18th-century moralist. He thought the market could be justified only in light of individual virtue, and he was anxious that a society governed by nothing but transactional self-interest was no society at all. Neoliberalism is Adam Smith without the anxiety.

That Hayek is considered the grandfather of neoliberalism – a style of thought that reduces everything to economics – is a little ironic given that he was such a mediocre economist. He was just a young, obscure Viennese technocrat when he was recruited to the London School of Economics to compete with, or possibly even dim, the rising star of John Maynard Keynes at Cambridge.

The plan backfired, and Hayek lost out to Keynes in a rout. Keynes's General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, published in 1936, was greeted as a masterpiece. It dominated the public discussion, especially among young English economists in training, for whom the brilliant, dashing, socially connected Keynes was a beau idéal . By the end of the second world war, many prominent free-marketers had come around to Keynes's way of thinking, conceding that government might play a role in managing a modern economy. The initial excitement over Hayek had dissipated. His peculiar notion that doing nothing could cure an economic depression had been discredited in theory and practice. He later admitted that he wished his work criticising Keynes would simply be forgotten.

... Hayek built into neoliberalism the assumption that the market provides all necessary protection against the one real political danger: totalitarianism. To prevent this, the state need only keep the market free.

This last is what makes neoliberalism "neo". It is a crucial modification of the older belief in a free market and a minimal state, known as "classical liberalism". In classical liberalism, merchants simply asked the state to "leave us alone" – to laissez-nous faire. Neoliberalism recognised that the state must be active in the organisation of a market economy. The conditions allowing for a free market must be won politically, and the state must be re-engineered to support the free market on an ongoing basis.

That isn't all: every aspect of democratic politics, from the choices of voters to the decisions of politicians, must be submitted to a purely economic analysis. The lawmaker is obliged to leave well enough alone – to not distort the natural actions of the marketplace – and so, ideally, the state provides a fixed, neutral, universal legal framework within which market forces operate spontaneously. The conscious direction of government is never preferable to the "automatic mechanism of adjustment" – ie the price system, which is not only efficient but maximises liberty, or the opportunity for men and women to make free choices about their own lives.

As Keynes jetted between London and Washington, creating the postwar order, Hayek sat pouting in Cambridge. He had been sent there during the wartime evacuations; and he complained that he was surrounded by "foreigners" and "no lack of orientals of all kinds" and "Europeans of practically all nationalities, but very few of real intelligence".

Stuck in England, without influence or respect, Hayek had only his idea to console him; an idea so grand it would one day dissolve the ground beneath the feet of Keynes and every other intellectual. Left to its own devices, the price system functions as a kind of mind. And not just any mind, but an omniscient one: the market computes what individuals cannot grasp. Reaching out to him as an intellectual comrade-in-arms, the American journalist Walter Lippmann wrote to Hayek, saying: "No human mind has ever understood the whole scheme of a society At best a mind can understand its own version of the scheme, something much thinner, which bears to reality some such relation as a silhouette to a man."

It is a grand epistemological claim – that the market is a way of knowing, one that radically exceeds the capacity of any individual mind. Such a market is less a human contrivance, to be manipulated like any other, than a force to be studied and placated. Economics ceases to be a technique – as Keynes believed it to be – for achieving desirable social ends, such as growth or stable money. The only social end is the maintenance of the market itself. In its omniscience, the market constitutes the only legitimate form of knowledge, next to which all other modes of reflection are partial, in both senses of the word: they comprehend only a fragment of a whole and they plead on behalf of a special interest. Individually, our values are personal ones, or mere opinions; collectively, the market converts them into prices, or objective facts.

... ... ...

The more Hayek's idea expands, the more reactionary it gets, the more it hides behind its pretence of scientific neutrality – and the more it allows economics to link up with the major intellectual trend of the west since the 17th century. The rise of modern science generated a problem: if the world is universally obedient to natural laws, what does it mean to be human? Is a human being simply an object in the world, like any other? There appears to be no way to assimilate the subjective, interior human experience into nature as science conceives it – as something objective whose rules we discover by observation.

... ... ...

More than anyone, even Hayek himself, it was the great postwar Chicago economist Milton Friedman who helped convert governments and politicians to the power of Hayek's Big Idea. But first he broke with two centuries of precedent and declared that economics is "in principle independent of any particular ethical position or normative judgments" and is "an 'objective' science, in precisely the same sense as any of the physical sciences". Values of the old, mental, normative kind were defective, they were "differences about which men can ultimately only fight". There is the market, in other words, and there is relativism.

Markets may be human facsimiles of natural systems, and like the universe itself, they may be authorless and valueless. But the application of Hayek's Big Idea to every aspect of our lives negates what is most distinctive about us. That is, it assigns what is most human about human beings – our minds and our volition – to algorithms and markets, leaving us to mimic, zombie-like, the shrunken idealisations of economic models. Supersizing Hayek's idea and radically upgrading the price system into a kind of social omniscience means radically downgrading the importance of our individual capacity to reason – our ability to provide and evaluate justifications for our actions and beliefs.

As a result, the public sphere – the space where we offer up reasons, and contest the reasons of others – ceases to be a space for deliberation, and becomes a market in clicks, likes and retweets. The internet is personal preference magnified by algorithm; a pseudo-public space that echoes the voice already inside our head. Rather than a space of debate in which we make our way, as a society, toward consensus, now there is a mutual-affirmation apparatus banally referred to as a "marketplace of ideas". What looks like something public and lucid is only an extension of our own pre-existing opinions, prejudices and beliefs, while the authority of institutions and experts has been displaced by the aggregative logic of big data. When we access the world through a search engine, its results are ranked, as the founder of Google puts it, "recursively" – by an infinity of individual users functioning as a market, continuously and in real time.

... ... ...

According to the logic of Hayek's Big Idea, these expressions of human subjectivity are meaningless without ratification by the market – as Friedman said, they are nothing but relativism, each as good as any other. When the only objective truth is determined by the market, all other values have the status of mere opinions; everything else is relativist hot air. But Friedman's "relativism" is a charge that can be thrown at any claim based on human reason. It is a nonsense insult, as all humanistic pursuits are "relative" in a way the sciences are not. They are relative to the (private) condition of having a mind, and the (public) need to reason and understand even when we can't expect scientific proof. When our debates are no longer resolved by deliberation over reasons, then the whimsies of power will determine the outcome.

This is where the triumph of neoliberalism meets the political nightmare we are living through now. "You had one job," the old joke goes, and Hayek's grand project, as originally conceived in 30s and 40s, was explicitly designed to prevent a backslide into political chaos and fascism. But the Big Idea was always this abomination waiting to happen. It was, from the beginning, pregnant with the thing it was said to protect against. Society reconceived as a giant market leads to a public life lost to bickering over mere opinions; until the public turns, finally, in frustration to a strongman as a last resort for solving its otherwise intractable problems.

... ... ...

What began as a new form of intellectual authority, rooted in a devoutly apolitical worldview, nudged easily into an ultra-reactionary politics. What can't be quantified must not be real, says the economist, and how do you measure the benefits of the core faiths of the enlightenment – namely, critical reasoning, personal autonomy and democratic self-government? When we abandoned, for its embarrassing residue of subjectivity, reason as a form of truth, and made science the sole arbiter of both the real and the true, we created a void that pseudo-science was happy to fill.

... ... ...

[Sep 18, 2017] The NYT's Yellow Journalism on Russia by Rober Parry

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The New York Times is prepping the American people for what could become World War III. The daily message is that you must learn to hate Russia and its President Vladimir Putin so much that, first, you should support vast new spending on America's Military-Industrial Complex and, second, you'll be ginned up for nuclear war if it comes to that. ..."
"... At this stage, the Times doesn't even try for a cosmetic appearance of objective journalism. Look at how the Times has twisted the history of the Ukraine crisis, treating it simply as a case of "Russian aggression" or a "Russian invasion." The Times routinely ignores what actually happened in Ukraine in late 2013 and early 2014 when the U.S. government aided and abetted a violent coup that overthrew Ukraine's elected President Viktor Yanukovych after he had been demonized in the Western media. ..."
"... The Times and much of the U.S. mainstream media refuses even to acknowledge that there is another side to the Ukraine story. Anyone who mentions this reality is deemed a "Kremlin stooge" in much the same way that people who questioned the mainstream certainty about Iraq's WMD in 2002-03 were called "Saddam apologists." ..."
"... Many liberals came to view the dubious claims of Russian "meddling" in the 2016 election as the golden ticket to remove Trump from the White House. So, amid that frenzy, all standards of proof were jettisoned to make Russia-gate the new Watergate. ..."
"... For one, even if the U.S. government were to succeed in destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia sufficiently to force out President Putin, the neocon dream of another malleable Boris Yeltsin in the Kremlin is far less likely than the emergence of an extreme Russian nationalist who might be ready to push the nuclear button rather than accept further humiliation of Mother Russia. ..."
"... The truth is that the world has much less to fear from the calculating Vladimir Putin than from the guy who might follow a deposed Vladimir Putin amid economic desperation and political chaos in Russia. But the possibility of nuclear Armageddon doesn't seem to bother the neocon/liberal-interventionist New York Times. Nor apparently does the principle of fair and honest journalism. ..."
"... America's Stolen Narrative, ..."
"... The Trans-Atlantic Empire of banking cartels rest upon enmity with the only other Great Powers in the World: Russia and China, while keeping USA thoroughly within their orbit, relying on our Great Power as the engine that powers this Western Bankers' Empire (the steering room lies in City-of-London, who has LONG maneuvered, via their Wall Street assets, to bring us into Empire). Should peaceful, cooperative and productive relations break out between USA, Russia, and China, this would undermine everything the Western Empire has worked to build. ..."
"... THIS is why the phony Russiagate issue is flogged to get rid of Trump (who seeks cooperation with Russia and China), AND keeping Russia as "The Enemy", keeping the MIC, Intel community, various police-state ops, in high demand for "National Security" reasons (also positioned to foil any democratic uprisings, should they see past the progs daily curtain and see their plight). ..."
"... The funny thing about living through the 'fake news' era, is that now everyone thinks that their news source is the correct news source. Many believe that outside of the individual everyone else reads or listens too 'fake news'. It's like all of a sudden no one has credibility, yet everyone may have it, depending on what news source you subscribe to. I mean there's almost no way of knowing what the truth is, because everyone is claiming that they are getting their news from reputable news outlets, but some or many aren't, and who are the reputable news sources, if you don't mind my asking you this just for the record? ..."
"... To learn how to deal with this 'fake news', I would suggest you start studying the JFK assassination, or any other ill defined tragic event, and then you might learn how to decipher the 'fake news' matrix of confusion to learn what you so desire to learn. I chose this route, because when was the last time the Establishment brokered the truth in regard to a happening such as the JFK assassination? Upon learning of what a few well written books has to say, you will then need to rely on your own brain to at least give you enough satisfaction to allow you to believe that you pretty well got it right, and there go you. In other words, the truth is out there, hiding in plain sight, and if you are persistent enough you just might find it. Good luck. ..."
Sep 18, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

The NYT's Yellow Journalism on Russia September 15, 2017

Exclusive: The New York Times' descent into yellow journalism over Russia recalls the sensationalism of Hearst and Pulitzer leading to the Spanish-American War, but the risks to humanity are much greater now, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Reading The New York Times these days is like getting a daily dose of the "Two Minutes Hate" as envisioned in George Orwell's 1984, except applied to America's new/old enemy Russia. Even routine international behavior, such as Russia using fictitious names for potential adversaries during a military drill, is transformed into something weird and evil.

In the snide and alarmist style that the Times now always applies to Russia, reporter Andrew Higgins wrote – referring to a fictitious war-game "enemy" – "The country does not exist, so it has neither an army nor any real citizens, though it has acquired a feisty following of would-be patriots online. Starting on Thursday, however, the fictional state, Veishnoriya, a distillation of the Kremlin's darkest fears about the West, becomes the target of the combined military might of Russia and its ally Belarus."

This snarky front-page story in Thursday's print editions also played into the Times' larger narrative about Russia as a disseminator of "fake news." You see the Russkies are even inventing "fictional" enemies to bully. Hah-hah-hah -- The article was entitled, "Russia's War Games With Fake Enemies Cause Real Alarm."

Of course, the U.S. and its allies also conduct war games against fictitious enemies, but you wouldn't know that from reading the Times. For instance, U.S. war games in 2015 substituted five made-up states – Ariana, Atropia, Donovia, Gorgas and Limaria – for nations near the Caucasus mountains along the borders of Russia and Iran.

In earlier war games, the U.S. used both fictitious names and colors in place of actual countries. For instance, in 1981, the Reagan administration conducted "Ocean Venture" with that war-game scenario focused on a group of islands called "Amber and the Amberdines," obvious stand-ins for Grenada and the Grenadines, with "Orange" used to represent Cuba.

In those cases, the maneuvers by the powerful U.S. military were clearly intended to intimidate far weaker countries. Yet, the U.S. mainstream media did not treat those war rehearsals for what they were, implicit aggression, but rather mocked protests from the obvious targets as paranoia since we all know the U.S. would never violate international law and invade some weak country -- (As it turned out, Ocean Venture '81 was a dress rehearsal for the actual U.S. invasion of Grenada in 1983.)

Yet, as far as the Times and its many imitators in the major media are concerned, there's one standard for "us" and another for Russia and other countries that "we" don't like.

Yellow Journalism

But the Times' behavior over the past several years suggests something even more sinister than biased reporting. The "newspaper of record" has slid into yellow journalism, the practice of two earlier New York newspapers – William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer's New York World – that in the 1890s manipulated facts about the crisis in Cuba to push the United States into war with Spain, a conflict that many historians say marked the beginning of America's global empire.

Except in today's instance, The New York Times is prepping the American people for what could become World War III. The daily message is that you must learn to hate Russia and its President Vladimir Putin so much that, first, you should support vast new spending on America's Military-Industrial Complex and, second, you'll be ginned up for nuclear war if it comes to that.

At this stage, the Times doesn't even try for a cosmetic appearance of objective journalism. Look at how the Times has twisted the history of the Ukraine crisis, treating it simply as a case of "Russian aggression" or a "Russian invasion." The Times routinely ignores what actually happened in Ukraine in late 2013 and early 2014 when the U.S. government aided and abetted a violent coup that overthrew Ukraine's elected President Viktor Yanukovych after he had been demonized in the Western media.

Even as neo-Nazi and ultranationalist protesters hurled Molotov cocktails at police, Yanukovych signaled a willingness to compromise and ordered his police to avoid worsening violence. But compromise wasn't good enough for U.S. neocons – such as Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland; Sen. John McCain; and National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman. They had invested too much in moving Ukraine away from Russia.

Nuland put the U.S. spending at $5 billion and was caught discussing with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who should be in the new government and how to "glue" or "midwife this thing"; McCain appeared on stage urging on far-right militants; and Gershman was overseeing scores of NED projects inside Ukraine, which he had deemed the "biggest prize" and an important step in achieving an even bigger regime change in Russia, or as he put it: "Ukraine's choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents. Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself."

The Putsch

So, on Feb. 20, 2014, instead of seeking peace , a sniper firing from a building controlled by anti-Yanukovych forces killed both police and protesters, touching off a day of carnage. Immediately, the Western media blamed Yanukovych. Sen. John McCain appearing with Ukrainian rightists of the Svoboda party at a pre-coup rally in Kiev.

Shaken by the violence, Yanukovych again tried to pacify matters by reaching a compromise -- guaranteed by France, Germany and Poland -- to relinquish some of his powers and move up an election so he could be voted out of office peacefully. He also pulled back the police.

At that juncture, the neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists spearheaded a violent putsch on Feb. 22, 2014, forcing Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives. Ignoring the agreement guaranteed by the three European nations, Nuland and the U.S. State Department quickly deemed the coup regime "legitimate."

However, ethnic Russians in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, which represented Yanukovych's electoral base, resisted the coup and turned to Russia for protection. Contrary to the Times' narrative, there was no "Russian invasion" of Crimea because Russian troops were already there as part of an agreement for its Sevastopol naval base. That's why you've never seen photos of Russian troops crashing across Ukraine's borders in tanks or splashing ashore in Crimea with an amphibious landing or descending by parachute. They were already inside Crimea.

The Crimean autonomous government also voted to undertake a referendum on whether to leave the failed Ukrainian state and to rejoin Russia, which had governed Crimea since the Eighteenth Century. In that referendum, Crimean citizens voted by some 96 percent to exit Ukraine and seek reunion with Russia, a democratic and voluntary process that the Times always calls "annexation."

The Times and much of the U.S. mainstream media refuses even to acknowledge that there is another side to the Ukraine story. Anyone who mentions this reality is deemed a "Kremlin stooge" in much the same way that people who questioned the mainstream certainty about Iraq's WMD in 2002-03 were called "Saddam apologists."

But what is particularly remarkable about the endless Russia-bashing is that – because it started under President Obama – it sucked in many American liberals and even some progressives. That process grew even worse when the contempt for Russia merged with the Left's revulsion over Donald Trump's election.

Many liberals came to view the dubious claims of Russian "meddling" in the 2016 election as the golden ticket to remove Trump from the White House. So, amid that frenzy, all standards of proof were jettisoned to make Russia-gate the new Watergate.

The Times, The Washington Post and pretty much the entire U.S. news media joined the "resistance" to Trump's presidency and embraced the neocon "regime change" goal for Putin's Russia. Very few people care about the enormous risks that this "strategy" entails.

For one, even if the U.S. government were to succeed in destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia sufficiently to force out President Putin, the neocon dream of another malleable Boris Yeltsin in the Kremlin is far less likely than the emergence of an extreme Russian nationalist who might be ready to push the nuclear button rather than accept further humiliation of Mother Russia.

The truth is that the world has much less to fear from the calculating Vladimir Putin than from the guy who might follow a deposed Vladimir Putin amid economic desperation and political chaos in Russia. But the possibility of nuclear Armageddon doesn't seem to bother the neocon/liberal-interventionist New York Times. Nor apparently does the principle of fair and honest journalism.

The Times and rest of the mainstream media are just having too much fun hating Russia and Putin to worry about the possible extermination of life on planet Earth.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com ).

jo6pac , September 15, 2017 at 4:51 pm

Amerikas way of bring the big D to your nation. Death

http://www.globalresearch.ca/unknown-snipers-and-western-backed-regime-change/27904

Thanks RP for reading the times so I don't have to not that would.

Common Tater , September 16, 2017 at 2:05 pm

Thanks for the link, I knew about the use of snipers in Venezuela '02, did not realize there were so many more.

BayouCoyote , September 18, 2017 at 11:13 am

Kinda reminds me of what our only "Ally in the ME" did to our Marines in Iraq.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIiGfUjZnbU

JWalters , September 16, 2017 at 7:29 pm

Bingo -- In a surely related story, the mainstream press is equally relentless in AVOIDING telling Americans the facts about Israel, and especially about its control over the American press.
"Israel lobby is never a story (for media that is in bed with the lobby)"
http://mondoweiss.net/2017/09/israel-lobby-never/

Virtually everything average Americans have been told about Israel has been, amazingly, an absolute lie. Israel was NOT victimized by powerful Arab armies. Israel overpowered and victimized a defenseless, civilian Arab population. Military analysts knew the Arab armies were in poor shape and would be unable to resist the zionist army. Muslim "citizens" of Israel do NOT have all the same rights as Jews. Israelis are NOT under threat from the indigineous Palestinians, but Palestinians are under constant threats of theft and death from the Israelis. Israel does NOT share America's most fundamental values, which rest on the principle of equal human rights for all.

How has this gigantic package of outright lies has been foisted upon the American public for so long? And how long can it continue? It turns out they did not foresee the internet, and the facts are leaking out everywhere. So it appears they're desperately coercing facebook and google to rig their rankings, trying to hide the facts. But one day soon there will be a 'snap' in the collective mind, and everybody will know that everybody knows.

For readers who haven't seen it yet,
"War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror"
http://warprofiteerstory.blogspot.com

Common Tater , September 17, 2017 at 3:48 am

JWalters
I can tell you are angry. I too was angry when I figured it out.
Long before I figured it out, I was a soldier. Our unit was prepared for an exercise and we were all sleeping at the regiment compound, the buses would arrive at zero-dark thirty. I was reading a book about the ME(this was shortly after 9-11). A friend, came up and asked what I was reading. I told him I was reading about the Balfour paper and how that had a significant effect on the ME. He began explaining to me how the zionist movement had used the idea that no one lived on that land, to force the people from that land, out of that land.
I quickly responded that Israel had defended that land against 5 Arab armies and managed to hold on to that land. I informed him he was mistaken.
He agreed to disagree, and walked away.
This happened way back in 2002 if only I could pick his mind now. How did he know about this, way back before the internet was in any shape to wake people up?
There is hope still that guys who are young as i was, will say "Fuck You I defend this line and no further."
Without their compliance, there can be no wars.

Bernard Fisher , September 17, 2017 at 8:57 am

CommonTater your story parallels mine -- I was in the military, went to Vietnam to 'defend our nation against communism', felt horror at the Zionist stories of how Palestinians rocketed them, was told by senior officer about what Zionism is really about and I, like you, disbelieved him. That was in 1974 -- -- Now, with all the troubles in the world I won't read the MSP but look towards the alternative news sources. They make more sense. But as I try to educate others on what I have learned I am as disappointed as my senior officer must have been back them. Articles such as this one reproduced by ICH are gems: I save and print them in a compendium detailing ongoing war crimes.

Common Tater , September 17, 2017 at 2:35 pm

Bernard Fisher
Thanks for your response.
Good Idea to save and print these "gems" on consortiumnews.
Hopefully they wake more Americans.
Cheers

michael fish , September 15, 2017 at 5:44 pm

Thanks Mr. Parry,
You are a voice in the hurricane of hatred and lies propagated by the richest people on the planet.
Eventually some moron who believes this new York Times garbage will actually unleash the bomb and we will all be smoke.
That has always been the result of such successful propaganda. And it is very successful. It has almost occluded any truth for the vast majority of westerners .
Michael Fish

Yomamama , September 16, 2017 at 1:58 am

Agreed. I wish this clear and comprehensive article could be stapled on every American voter's door (wanted to say forehead but violence is bad). Many would toss it in the trash. Many would not agree even with full comprehension because of their own horrid beliefs. But maybe a few would read it and have an epiphany. It's very hard work to find an avenue to change the minds of millions of people who've been inculcated by nationalist propaganda since birth. Since 4 years old seeing the wonderful National Anthem and jets fly over the stadium of their favorite sports team. Since required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school.

I refused to stand for or recite the Pledge when I was seven or eight years old. I was sent to detention. My awesome mom though intervened and afterwards I could remain seated while most or all other kids stood up to do the ritual. I refuse to stand up and place hand-on-heart and remove cap during any sporting contests when the Anthem is played. I've been threatened with physical violence by many strangers around me.

https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/exclusive-documents-expose-direct-us-military-intelligence-influence-on-1-800-movies-and-tv-shows-36433107c307

Thanks Mr. Parry, your voice is appreciated, your articles and logic are top-notch. Very valuable stuff, available for the curious, the skeptical. Well, until Google monopolizes search algorithms and calls this a Russian fake news site, perhaps or Congress the same

Virginia , September 16, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Excellent link, Yomamama.

Common Tater , September 16, 2017 at 2:20 pm

My hat is off to you sir, I have not been to any sporting events since I woke up, but I imagine it would be very difficult to remain seated and hatted during the opening affirmation of nationalism. My waking up coincides with a drastic drop in sports viewing. I used to be an NFL fan, rooted for the Niners (started watching NFL in the late eighties), the last full season I followed was the 2013-14 season.

It was the Ukraine coup that woke me up. It started when watching videos on youtube of guys stomping on riot cops, using a fire hose on them like a reverse water cannon. Then I realized these guys were the peaceful protesters being talked about on t.v. It was like a thread hanging in front of me, I began pulling and pulling until the veil in front of my eyes came apart. It was during this time I discovered consortiumnews.com.

Thomas Dickinson , September 16, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Mr Common Tater–just appreciating reading that someone else "woke up". That is the way it has felt to me. For me it was Oct 2002 and Bush's speech that was clearly heading us to war in Iraq. The "election" (appointment) of Bush in 2000 though was the first alarm clock that I started to hear. Most recent wake up is connected to Mr Parry's relentless (I hope) and necessary debunking of the myth of Russian nastiness and corresponding myth of US rectitude. Been watching The Untold History of the United States and have been dealing with the real bedrock truth that my government invented and invents enemies as a tactic in a game–ie. it's a bunch of boys thinking foreign relationship building is first and foremost a game. It has been hard to wash away all this greasy insidious smut from my life.

Common Tater , September 16, 2017 at 4:28 pm

Thomas Dickinson

It sucks to wake up, in a way. Once one gets past the denial, Tom Clancy novel type movies lose some of it's fun, although still entertaining. One secretly knows the audience in the cinema is just eating it all up and loving it. The American hero yells "yippie kayay mother f -- -r" as he defeats the post-Soviet Russian villain in Russia blowing up buildings, and destroying s–t as he saves the world for democracy. The Russian authorities amount to some guy in Soviet peaked hat, and long coat, begging for a bribe.

Oliver Stone's series is really good, it turns history on his head and shakes all the pennies out his pockets. Another good reporter is John Pilger, he has a long list of docs he has done over several decades.

Cheers

Homer Jay , September 16, 2017 at 5:44 pm

I have been watching that same series, about 3 episodes in. The most mind blowing part to think about is how the establishment consipired to block the nomination of the progressive Henry Wallace as a repeat VP for Roosevelt, leading instead to Harry Truman's nomination as VP, and then you know the rest of the story.

Funny how history repeated itself with the nomination of Clinton instead of Sanders. Btw, after Sanders mistakenly jumped on the Russia bashing bandwagon he was one of the few who voted against the recent sanctions being imposed against Russia, Iran, and North Korea. So yeah, I'd feel alot better with a Sanders president at this point.

Mulga Mumblebrain , September 16, 2017 at 5:21 pm

Apart from the obvious Exceptionalist and Zionazi imperative to destroy Russia and China in order that God's Kingdom of 'Full Spectrum Dominance' be established across His world by his various 'Chosen People', the USA always needs an enemy. Now, more than ever, as the country crumbles into disrepair and unprecedented inequality, poverty and elite arrogance, the proles must be led to blame their plight on some Evil foreign daemon.

Only this time its no Saddam or Gaddaffi or Assad that can be easily bombed back to that Stone Age that all the non-Chosen must inhabit. This time the bullying thugs will get a, thermo-nuclear, bloody nose if they do not back off. Regretably, their egos refuse to withdraw, even in the interest of self-survival.

Paranam Kid , September 16, 2017 at 6:13 am

" It has almost occluded any truth for the vast majority of westerners."

You are so right about that, I notice it every day on other forums on which I discuss current affairs with others: the US views are the accepted ones, and I get a lot of stick for stating different views. It is actually frightening to see how few people can think for themselves.

mike k , September 15, 2017 at 5:47 pm

The American people are being systematically lied to, and they don't have a clue that it is happening. There is no awake and intelligent public to prevent what is unfolding. The worst kind of criminals are in charge of our government, media, and military. The sleeping masses are making their way down the dark mountain to the hellish outcome that awaits them.

"These grand and fatal movements toward death: the grandeur
of the mass
Makes pity a fool, the tearing pity
For the atoms of the mass, the persons, the victims, makes it
seem monstrous
To admire the tragic beauty they build.
It is beautiful as a river flowing or a slowly gathering
Glacier on a high mountain rock-face,
Bound to plow down a forest, or as frost in November,
The gold and flaming death-dance for leaves,
Or a girl in the night of her spent maidenhood, bleeding and
kissing.
I would burn my right hand in a slow fire
To change the future I should do foolishly. The beauty
of modern
Man is not in the persons but in the
Disastrous rhythm, the heavy and mobile masses, the dance of the
Dream-led masses down the dark mountain."

Robinson Jeffers

HopeLB , September 15, 2017 at 10:36 pm

Great, Dark and Accurate poem -- Thank You -- Think I'll send it to Rachel Maddow, Wapo and the NYTimes.Might do them some good. Wouldn't that be lovely.

Patrick Lucius , September 16, 2017 at 12:42 am

Which poem is that? Not Shine, perishing Republic, is it?

Thomas Dickinson , September 16, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Rearmament by Robinson Jeffers. I liked that a lot, too, so looked it up. https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/rearmament/

Jeff Davis , September 18, 2017 at 11:35 am

Fabulous reply. Back atcha:

Dulce et Decorum Est
BY WILFRED OWEN

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas -- GAS -- Quick, boys -- -- An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime. --
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, --
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

******************************

And this, from Bob Dylan's "Jokerman" .

Freedom just around the corner for you
But with the truth so far off, what good will it do?

******************************

I love life and am by nature a cockeyed optimist, but I find myself intermittently gloomy, my optimism overwhelmed by cynicism, when I see the abundance of moronic belligerence so passionately snarled out in the comments sections across the internet. Clearly, humans are cursed with an addiction to violence For my part, I am old and will die soon and have no children, plus I live in a quiet backwater far away from the nuclear blast zone. Humanity seems on course for a major "culling". Insane and sad.

Mike Morrison , September 15, 2017 at 5:48 pm

Over three years now the war in Donbass, Ukraine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BoKj39HKls

Dr. Ando Arike , September 15, 2017 at 5:49 pm

I'd like to see more investigative reporting on the NYT's and other major media outlets' links to the CIA and other Deep State info-war bureaus. What the Times is doing now is reminiscent of the Michael Gordon-Judith Miller propaganda in the run up to the invasion of Iraq. Operation Mockingbird, uncovered during the mid-70s Church Hearings, is an ongoing effort, it would seem. Revealing hard links to CIA information ops would be a great service to humanity.

SteveK9 , September 15, 2017 at 7:22 pm

After 'Michael Gordon-Judith Miller' I stopped reading the Times.

Beard681 , September 18, 2017 at 11:52 am

I am amazed at how many conspiracy types there are who want to see some sort of oligarch, capitalist, zionist or deep state cabal behind it all. (That is a REALLY optimistic view of the human propensity for violent conflict.) It is just a bunch of corporate shills pushing for war (hopefully cold) because war sells newspapers.

Rich Rubenstein , September 15, 2017 at 5:53 pm

Robert Parry has gotten this exactly right -- I'm a regular NYTimes subscriber /-have been for years -- and I have NEVER read anything about Russia that has not been written by professional Russia-haters like Higgins. Frankly, I don't get it. What accounts for this weird and dangerous bias?

mike k , September 15, 2017 at 6:03 pm

Have you looked into who owns the NYT?

Paranam Kid , September 16, 2017 at 6:32 am

Why do you keep reading the NYT? Not only the Russia stories are heavily biased, but all their stories are. Most op-ed's about Israel/Palestine are written by zealous pro-Israel/pro-Zionists, against very few pro-Palestine people.

Brad Owen , September 16, 2017 at 8:07 am

The Trans-Atlantic Empire of banking cartels rest upon enmity with the only other Great Powers in the World: Russia and China, while keeping USA thoroughly within their orbit, relying on our Great Power as the engine that powers this Western Bankers' Empire (the steering room lies in City-of-London, who has LONG maneuvered, via their Wall Street assets, to bring us into Empire). Should peaceful, cooperative and productive relations break out between USA, Russia, and China, this would undermine everything the Western Empire has worked to build.

THIS is why the phony Russiagate issue is flogged to get rid of Trump (who seeks cooperation with Russia and China), AND keeping Russia as "The Enemy", keeping the MIC, Intel community, various police-state ops, in high demand for "National Security" reasons (also positioned to foil any democratic uprisings, should they see past the progs daily curtain and see their plight).

Brad Owen , September 16, 2017 at 8:08 am

Progs=propaganda stupid iPad.

Mulga Mumblebrain , September 16, 2017 at 5:30 pm

Here in Aust-failure I read the papers for many years until they became TOO repulsive, particularly the Murdoch hate and fear-mongering rags. I also, and still do, masochistically listen to the Government ABC and SBS. In all those years I really cannot recall any articles or programs that reported on Russia or China in a positive manner, save when Yeltsin, a true hero to all our fakestream media, was in charge. That sort of uniformity of opinion, over generations, is almost admirable. And the necessity to ALWAYS follow the Imperial US ('Our great and powerful friend') line leads to some deficiencies in the quality of the personnel employed, as I one again reflected upon the other day when one hackette referred to (The Evil, of course)Kim Jong-un as 'President Un', several times.

Jeff Davis , September 18, 2017 at 12:31 pm

"What accounts for this weird and dangerous bias?"

Several points:

The Russian -- formerly Commie -- -- boogieman is a profit center for the military, their industrial suppliers, and the political class. That's the major factor. But also, the Zionist project requires a bulked up US military "tasked" with "full spectrum" military dominance -- the Wolfowitz Doctrine, the American jackboot on the world's throat forever -- to insure the eternal protection of Israel. Largely unseen in this Israeli/Zionist factor is the thousand-year-old blood feud between the Jews and Russians. They are ancient enemies since the founding of Czarist Russia. No amount of time or modernity can diminish the passion of that animus. (I suspect that the Zionist aim to "destroy" Russia will eventually backfire and lead instead to the destruction of Israel, but really, we shouldn't talk about that.)

mike k , September 15, 2017 at 6:26 pm

The richest man in the world has the controlling interest in the NYT. Draw your own conclusions.

http://freebeacon.com/issues/mexican-billionaire-carlos-slim-becomes-top-owner-of-new-york-times/

Brad Owen , September 16, 2017 at 8:36 am

Mexico, ground zero for the world fascist movement in the 20s and 30s (going by name Synarchy Internationale still does) throuout Ibero-America, centered in PAN. The Spanish-speaking World had to contend with Franco, and Salazar being in power so long in the respective "Mother Countries" of the Iberian Peninsula. This was the main trail for the ratlines to travel.

I saw a dead coyote on the side of the road the other day. I know you know what that means to me, Mike. Omens are a lost art in these modern times, and I have no expertise in these matters, but it struck my attention hard. It was on the right side of the road: trouble for Trump coming from The Right? They are more potent than the ineffective Left, so this might be the way Trump is pulled down.

Sfomarco , September 16, 2017 at 3:37 pm

Carlos Slim (f/k/a Salim)

Mulga Mumblebrain , September 16, 2017 at 5:31 pm

Yes, but who bankrolls Slim?

Stiv , September 15, 2017 at 6:51 pm

I wouldn't even need to read this to know what's going to be said. After the last article from Parry, which was very good and interesting .plowing new ground for him he's back to rehashing the same old shit. Not that it's necessarily wrong, only been said about a hundred times. Yawn

D.H. Fabian , September 16, 2017 at 2:46 am

After months of so many people pointing out how and why the "Russia stole the election" claim is false, it came roaring back (in liberal media) in recent days. It demands a response.

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 7:26 am

No one is required to read anything on CN.

Virginia , September 16, 2017 at 1:58 pm

RP brought lots of new things into play in his article and showed how they mesh together and support one another "against Trump." I almost skipped it because so familiar with the topic, but RP brought new light to the subject, in my humble opinion.

Common Tater , September 16, 2017 at 2:40 pm

I do not need to read or watch established "news" media to know what's going to be said. After the last b.s. story from the usual talking heads which was low brow and insulting to the intelligence of the audience, they are back at it again same ol'shit by the same talking heads. It is most definitely wrong, and it needs to be countered as much as possible not yawning.

Gregory Herr , September 16, 2017 at 8:18 pm

That's what struck me just how absurdly insulting will the Times get?

And I think the point that trying to destabilize the Russian Federation may very well bring about a more militant hardline Russia is important to stress.

anon , September 17, 2017 at 9:02 am

"Stiv" is a troll who makes this junk comment every time. Better to ignore him.

Colin , September 18, 2017 at 11:54 am

Were you planning to contribute anything useful to the discussion?

SteveK9 , September 15, 2017 at 7:19 pm

I always wonder what motivation the accusers believe you have when they call you a 'Putin stooge'. Why would you be one? Are you getting paid? Of course not, so this is just a judgment on your part. They could call you a fool, but accuse you of 'carrying water for the Kremlin' as I heard that execrable creature, Adam Schiff say to Tucker Carlson? That just makes no sense. Of course, none of it is rational.

Mulga Mumblebrain , September 16, 2017 at 5:38 pm

They're insane. A crumbling Empire which was supposed to rule the world forever, 'Under God' through Full Spectrum Dominance, but which, in fact, is disintegrating under its own moral, intellectual and spiritual rottenness, is bound to produce hate-crazed zealots looking for foreign scape-goats. Add the rage of the Clintonbots whose propaganda had told then for months that the She-Devil would crush the carnival-huckster, and her vicious post-defeat campaign to drive for war with Russia (what a truly Evil creature she is)and you get this hysteria. Interestingly, 'hysteria' is the word used to describe Bibi Nutty-yahoo, the USA's de facto 'capo di tutti capi', in Sochi recently when Putin refused to follow orders.

David Grace , September 15, 2017 at 7:30 pm

I have another theory I'd like to get reviewed. These are corporate wars, and not aimed at the stability of nations. It is claimed that in 1991, at the fall of the Soviet Union, the oligarchs were created by the massive purchasing of the assets of the collapsing nation. The CIA was said to have put together a 'bond issue' worth some $480 Billion, and it was used to buy farms, factories, mineral rights and other formerly common holdings of the USSR. This 'bond issue' was never repaid to the US taxpayers, and the deeds are in the hands of various oligarchs. Not all of the oligarchs are tied to the CIA, as there were other wells of purchasers of the country, but the ties to Trump are actually ties to dirty CIA or other organized crime entities.

The NY Times may be trying to capture certain assets for certain clients, and their editorial policy reflects this.

I'd appreciate feedback on this.

Thanks,
David

David Grace , September 15, 2017 at 7:33 pm

There are many on-line videos on this theme. Searching 'Black Eagle Trust' is one form. Here is one link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhBZJEqoe0A

stephen sivonda , September 15, 2017 at 9:51 pm

David Grace . what have we here, a thinking man? I like your premise, and I haven't even watched the link you supplied. That being said, I'll sign off and investigate that link.

D.H. Fabian , September 16, 2017 at 2:39 am

Conspiracy theories upon conspiracy theories, ensuring that the public will never be able to root out the facts. People still argue about the Kennedy assassination 54 years later.

Mulga Mumblebrain , September 16, 2017 at 5:39 pm

There is no rational 'argument' about what really happened to JFK.

Zhu Bajie , September 17, 2017 at 7:12 pm

Most conspiracy theories are fantasy fiction. If you have real evidence, based on verifiable facts, then it's not a theory any more. But most of the conspiracy theories popular in the USA just serve popular vanity. We never have to accept our mistakes, our crimes against humanity, etc. It's always THEIR fault.

We Americans over all are like small children, always making excuses.

mark , September 16, 2017 at 5:23 pm

Some of the material on the Black Eagle Trust are suspect. It gives figures for stolen Japanese war loot, for example, that are simply ludicrous. Figures of so many thousand tons of gold, for example, when the references should probably be to OUNCES of gold.

RBHoughton , September 15, 2017 at 8:03 pm

One sniper in Ukraine overthrew the democratic government. Previously one sniper in Dallas overthrew another democratic government. Are there any other examples?

Is our infatuation with democracy just a propaganda thing – to fool citizens into supposing they have value beyond their labour?

AshenLight , September 15, 2017 at 10:13 pm

> Is our infatuation with democracy just a propaganda thing – to fool citizens into supposing they have value beyond their labour?

It's about control -- those who know they are slaves will resist and fight, but those who mistakenly believe they are free will not (and if you give them even just a little comfort, they'll tenaciously defend their own enslavement). It turns out this "inverted totalitarianism" thing works a lot better than the old-fashioned kind.

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 7:19 am

Indeed. Gurdjieff told the tale of a farmer whose sheep were always wandering off due to his being unable to afford fences to keep them in. Then he had an idea, and called them all together. He told some of them they were eagles, and others lions etc. They were now so proud of their new identities that it never occurred to them anymore to escape from their master's small domain.

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 7:23 am

MLK is another example, as is Robert Kennedy.

Anna , September 16, 2017 at 12:53 pm

The American patriots are coming out: "CIA Agent Whistleblower Risks All To Expose The Shadow Government" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHbrOg092G That would be the end of the Lobby, mega oilmen and the FedReserve criminals

mark , September 16, 2017 at 5:30 pm

Yes, snipers on rooftops in Deraa, southern Syria, in 2011. These mysterious figures fired into crowds, deliberately targeting women and young children to inflame the crowd. At the same time the same snipers killed 7 police officers. Unarmed police had been sent in to deal with unrest without bloodshed. These police officers were armed only with batons.

This is a standard page from the CIA playbook. The mysterious snipers in Maidan Square in 2014 are believed to have been Yugoslavian mercenaries hired by the CIA.

Zhu Bajie , September 17, 2017 at 7:14 pm

The US has had oligarchy since 1789.

BobH , September 15, 2017 at 8:06 pm

We all have some kind of a bias but fortunately most of us here know the difference between bias and propaganda. Bias based on facts and our own values is often constructive but the N.Y. Times(like most msm) has descended into disseminating insidious propaganda. Unfortunately the search for truth requires a bit more research and time than most people are willing to invest. Thankfully, Robert Parry continues his quest but the dragons are not easy to slay. My own quest for truth once led to a philosophical essay. The cartoon at the bottom(SH Chambers) sums it up.
https://crivellistreetchronicle.blogspot.com/2016/07/truth-elusive-concept.html

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 7:13 am

I put a comment on your blog.

BobH , September 16, 2017 at 11:15 am

Mike, thanks so much, I'll look forward to reading it(so far, I don't see it Moderation?)

Virginia , September 16, 2017 at 2:20 pm

If we have a bias towards honesty, that helps. It keeps one's mind more open and provides a willingness to entertain various points of view. It's not naivete, however, but thoughtful consideration coupled with awareness and that protects one from being easily manipulated. But then, oppositely, there's a human tendency to want to be popular which inclines one towards groupthink. But why that so entrenches itself, making people impervious to truth, is a conundrum -- Maybe if the "why" can be answered, the "how" will become apparent -- how to reach individuals with the truth as so oft told, though hard on the ears, at CN.

Jacob Leyva , September 15, 2017 at 10:12 pm

So what do you think of the Russia-Facebook dealings? When will we get an article on that?

Fuzzy , September 18, 2017 at 7:19 am

Really? You think this is important?

http://davidswanson.org/warlist/?link_id=3&can_id=ed31bf4cbc8f991980718b21b49ca26d&source=email-how-outlawing-war-changed-the-world-in-1928-2&email_referrer=email_232560&email_subject=how-outlawing-war-changed-the-world-in-1928

John , September 15, 2017 at 10:47 pm

The Russian /Iranian vs the Ashkenazi has been going on for many, many years ..The USA is to a large extent controlled by the Ashkenazi / Zionist agenda which literally owns most of the MSM outlets .Agendas must be announced through propaganda to sway the sleeping public toward conformity .The only baffling question that remains is why do Americans allow Zionist to control such a large part of their great republic ?

Art , September 16, 2017 at 1:43 am

Robert, you come from intelligence. Why don't you look at Russia-gate from all possible angles?
I suggest the following. Putin is an American spy. Russia-gate is created to make him a winner, a hero.
And the specious confrontation is a good cover for Putin.
This is in a nutshell.
I can obviously say mu-uch more.

D.H. Fabian , September 16, 2017 at 2:33 am

Throughout 2017, we've seen a surge of efforts by both parties -- via the media that serve them -- to build support for a final nuclear war. The focus jumps from rattling war sabers at China (via Korea, at the moment) to rattling them at Russia, two nuclear-armed world powers. This has been working to bring Russia and China together, resolving their years of conflict in view of a potential world threat -- the US. Whatever their delusions, and regardless of their ideology, our political leaders are setting the stage for the deaths of millions of us, and the utter destruction of the US.

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 6:59 am

Our political leaders have betrayed us.

Mulga Mumblebrain , September 16, 2017 at 5:42 pm

Thermo-nuclear war would cause human extinction, not just billions of casualties.

Jim Glover , September 16, 2017 at 3:15 am

It is the same now with North Korea and China. So what would happen if those nations were destabilized by Sanctions or worse Russia, China Iran and more would support Kim. How to make peace?

Dennis Rodman has the guts to suggest call and talk with Kim or "Try it you might like it better than total mutual destruction". Think Love and Peace it can't hurt like all the war, hate and fear the media keeps pushing for advertising profits. War and Fear is the biggest racket on the planet. What can I do? Fighting a losing battle but it is fun tryin' to win.

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 6:57 am

We may be losing now, but who knows? It ain't over till it's over. Hang in there.

GMC , September 16, 2017 at 3:20 am

Great article- again . I used to live in the US, I used to live in Alaska, I used to live in Crimea, Ukraine but now I live in Crimea, Russia and Smolensk, Ru. I watched this all go down but it took awhile to see the entire picture. I seldom get any more emails from the states – even my brother doesn't get it. They think I'm now a " commie" , I guess. I see it as the last big gasp of hot, dangerous air from an Empire -- Exposed. Unfortunately, its not over yet and maybe we/you will have more bad times ahead. Crimea this summer is doing well with much work going on – from the badly needed new infrastructure to the new bridge, the people are much better off than in Ukraine. They made the right choice in returning to Mother Russia even though it was a no-brainer for them. The world is lucky to have free writers like, Parry, Roberts, Vltchek, Pepe', the Saker and the intelligent commenters are as important as the writers in spreading the Pravda. Spacibo Mr. Parry

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 6:54 am

Thanks for sharing with us GMC. And good luck to you.

ranney , September 16, 2017 at 4:22 am

YES -- -- -- -- -- Yes to all that you wrote Robert -- Thank you again for writing clearly and saying what obviously needs to be said, but no one else will. We've been down this road before -i.e. the media pulling us into wars of Empire – first the Spanish- American one, then a bunch of others working up to Viet Nam, and then Iraq. Each one gets worse and now we're reaching for a nuclear one. Keep writing; your voice gives some of us hope that just maybe others will join in and stop the media from their constant "messages of hate" and the urging of the public to a suicidal conflagration.

Joe Tedesky , September 16, 2017 at 8:55 am

The funny thing about living through the 'fake news' era, is that now everyone thinks that their news source is the correct news source. Many believe that outside of the individual everyone else reads or listens too 'fake news'. It's like all of a sudden no one has credibility, yet everyone may have it, depending on what news source you subscribe to. I mean there's almost no way of knowing what the truth is, because everyone is claiming that they are getting their news from reputable news outlets, but some or many aren't, and who are the reputable news sources, if you don't mind my asking you this just for the record?

Come to think of it, the 'fake news' theme is brilliant considering that now we have no bench mark for what the truth is, and by not having that bench mark for the truth we all go our separate ways believing what we believe, because certainly my news source is the only truthful one, and your news source is beyond questionable of how the news should be reported.

People read headlines, but hardly do they ever read the article. Many hear news sound bites, but never do they do the research required, in order to verify the stories accuracy. Hear say works even more to rain in the clouds of mass deception. Then there are those who sort of buy whatever it is the established news outlets are selling based on their belief that it doesn't much matter anyway, because 'the establishment' lies to us all the time as a rule, so what's the big deal to keep up on the news, because it's all obviously one big lie isn't it? So not only do we have irresponsible news journalist, we also have a very large number of a monopolized unqualified news gatherers who must accept what the various news agencies report, regardless of what the truth may be. It's better the Establishment keep it this way, because then the Establishment has better control over the 'mob grabbing the pitchforks and sickles' and crying out justice for somebody's head. It's kind of like job security for the Establishment, but in their case it's more like a 'keeping your elitist head' security, if you know what I mean.

To learn how to deal with this 'fake news', I would suggest you start studying the JFK assassination, or any other ill defined tragic event, and then you might learn how to decipher the 'fake news' matrix of confusion to learn what you so desire to learn. I chose this route, because when was the last time the Establishment brokered the truth in regard to a happening such as the JFK assassination? Upon learning of what a few well written books has to say, you will then need to rely on your own brain to at least give you enough satisfaction to allow you to believe that you pretty well got it right, and there go you. In other words, the truth is out there, hiding in plain sight, and if you are persistent enough you just might find it. Good luck.

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 11:29 am

The truth has never been that easy to find Joe. Actually all the beyond obvious propaganda on the MSM might wake some people up to do the searching necessary to get closer to what is really happening in their world. Maybe the liars have finally overplayed their hand? Or are we the people really that dumb? (I am scared to hear the answer to that one -- )

Joe Tedesky , September 16, 2017 at 12:04 pm

I could be a wise guy, and say to you 'or so you say' in reply to your kind comment, but then that would make me a troll.

All I'm saying mike is that in this era of 'fake news' we are all running about on different levels, and never shall the two of us meet. That is unless you and I get our news from the same source, but what are the odds of all of us getting the same news? It's impossible, and I'm not quite that sure that that would be what we want either. Still without an objective, and honest large media to set the correct narrative we end up in this place, where you might find yourself doing a spread sheet study to come to some conclusion of what is true, and what isn't.

Case in point, read about Russia-Gate here on consortiumnews, and then go listen to Rachel Maddow report on the same thing. Two different sets of stories. Just try and reconcile what you read on sites like this one concerning Ukraine, then go watch MSNBC or CNN. Never a match. So you mike read consortiumnews, and your in laws read the NYT and watch CNN, and there you go, a controversy arises between you and the in laws and with that life goes on, but where is the correct news to be found to settle the score?

Once upon a time the established news agencies such as CNN, and the NYT, were the hallmark of the news, and sites such as this one were the ones on the edge, now I'm convinced this conviction has reversed itself.

Thanks mike for the reply. Joe

Joe Tedesky , September 17, 2017 at 9:07 am

Wouldn't it be hilarious mike, if the dumbed down people attacked the Bastille under false pretense? Especially if the lie had been concocted by the blinded by their own hubris sitting powers to be. Talk about poetic justice, and well placed irony. Priceless --

Virginia , September 16, 2017 at 2:38 pm

Joe, Apparently people take the easy way out. And that's just it -- "the way out." Extinction -- Maybe they haven't learned there's something worth learning about and living for. I'm gonna concentrate on that. Open eyes that they might see

Joe Tedesky , September 17, 2017 at 8:08 am

You are right Virginia, it is probably 'a way out', and God bless them for it. My late Mother was like that, but I'll tell you why. When my Mother was growing up in a family of eleven children, her father would rent out their street level basement to the voting polls. A block away my uncle who was quite older than my Mother owned a corner saloon. Now on Election Day my Mother said how the men in suits would pull up in their big expensive cars, and they would descend upon my uncles corner bar. Soon after one by one drunks would come out of the tavern wearing Republican buttons then they would go into grandpap's basement voting booth, and vote. Not long after my Mom said, the same drunks would come pouring out of my uncles tavern and this time they were wearing Democratic buttons, and they would go vote once or as many times as it would take to thank the big guys in the suits for the free drinks. My Mom said this went on all day. She said a lot dead people voted whether they knew it or not, and that's the truth. She would follow up by saying, 'yeah a lot of politicians won on the drunk vote'.

So Virginia some can't take the decept and lying, and with that they give up. I myself don't feel this way, but then there are the times I can't help but think of how my dear sweet Mother probably did have it right for the sake of living your life in the most upright and honest way. Sadly, there is no virtue in politics, or so it seems.

Oh yeah, that uncle who owned the corner saloon, he did go into politics holding nominee appointed positions, until he got wise and got a honest job, as he would jokingly say.

For the record my Mother did vote, but she was the lady standing in line who looked reluctant and pissed off to be there, but never the less my Mum was a voter. Oh, the candidate my Mother loved the most was JFK. John F Kennedy's was the only presidential picture my Mother ever hung in our humble home.

My message here, was only meant to give some cover, and an explanation for those who shy away from politics, and not an excuse to stay uninvolved. For even my non political Mum did at least in the end break down, and do the right thing. We should all at least try, and keep up on the events of our time, and vote with the best intentions we can muster up.

Okay, I'm sorry for the length of my reply, but you are always worth taking time for me to give a reasonable answer to. I also hope I'm entertaining with these stories I seem to tell from time to time. Take care Virginia. Joe

Tannenhouser , September 17, 2017 at 7:28 pm

Humans are approximately 90% water, give or take depending on evaporation (Age). Water always takes the path of least resistance. Oh I wish and hope for the day when most realize they are much more than 'just' water:)

Mulga Mumblebrain , September 16, 2017 at 5:47 pm

The fakestream media lies incessantly, and has for generations. Chomsky and Herman's 'Manufacturing Consent' outlines the propaganda role of the 'mass media', and is twenty-five years old, in which period things have gotten MUCH worse (just look at the fate of the UK 'Guardian' for an example). Yet the fakestream presstitutes STILL have the unmitigated gall to call others 'fake' and demand that we believe their unbelievable narratives. That's real chutzpah.

Joe Tedesky , September 17, 2017 at 8:26 am

You know Mulga you are correct, many generations have listened to many, many, lies upon their way to the voting booths. It goes without saying, how the aristocrats when they find it necessary, as they often do find it necessary, they lie to their flock for a whole host of reasons. Why we could pick anytime in history, and find out where lies have paved the way to a leaders greater conquest, or a leaders said greater conquest if not met with defeat, but never the less the public was used to propel some leaders wishes onward and upward whether for the good or the bad.

But here we are Mulga, you and the rest of us here, straddling on the fence over what might be right to what possibly could be wrong. Without a responsible press you and us Mulga need to learn from each other. Like when comment posters leave links, that's always been something good for me to follow through on.

We live in a unique time, but a time not that unique, as much as it is our time. Our great, great, grandparents were straddling the same fence, and I'm guessing they too relied on each other to navigate there way through the twisting maze of politics, and basically what they all wanted, was a little peace on earth. So Mulga I also guess that you and we the people are just carrying on a tradition that us common folk have been assigned too continue.

Like reading your comments Mulga, good to see you here. Joe

Zhu Bajie , September 17, 2017 at 7:44 pm

Fake news has always been common. Critical thinking has never been popular because Occam's Razor might slice your favorite story to shreds. Personally, I give full credence to few things in life, but suspect many more, to some degree. I trust my own experiences more than what I read in the media and try to reject conventional wisdom as much as possible.

Herman , September 16, 2017 at 9:39 am

Observing Putin's behavior, you have to be impressed with his continue willingness to extend the olive branch and to seek a reasonable settlement of differences. His language always leaves open the possibility of détente with the understanding that Russia is not going to lay down to be run over. On the contrary, the language of Obama and Trump, and their representatives is consistently take it or leave and engaging in school yard insults of Russia, Putin, Lavrov and others. We have consistently played the bully in the school yard encouraging others to join in the bullying. We talk about the corrosive discourse at home, but observe the discourse in foreign affairs. Trump and his associates are guilty, but slick talking Obama and his subordinates was often worse. .As has so often been said, we have only two arrows in our foreign affairs quiver, war and sanctions. We lack the imagination and will to actually engage in civil discussions with those on our enemies' list.

Parry is of course correct in his opinion of the New York Times but it doesn't stop there, only that the New York Times undeservedly is the "newspaper of record." His citing of Orwell is on the mark. Just turn your TV on for the news and see for yourself.

Dave P. , September 16, 2017 at 8:27 pm

Very well said, Herman. Very true.

Patricia Victour , September 16, 2017 at 9:54 am

I don't subscribe to the NYT for this reason, and it is galling to me that our local rag, "The Santa Fe New Mexican," while featuring excellent local coverage for the most part, gets all it's "national" news from the likes of the NYT, WaPo, and AP. These stories, much of it "fake news" in my opinion, are offered as gospel by the "New Mexican", with no journalistic effort to print opposing views. People I know seem so proud of themselves that they subscribe to "The Times," and I don't even dare try to point out to them that they are being duped and propagandized into believing the most outrageous (and dangerous) crap.

To add another dimension, these sources are so jealous of their position as the ultimate word on what Americans are to believe, and also so worried about their waning influence, that now RT and Sputnik, both Russia-sponsored news outlets, may be forced to register as "foreign agents" in the U.S. I am not familiar with Sputnik, but I have been watching RT on TV for several years and find it to be an excellent source of national and foreign news. Stories I see first on RT are usually confirmed soon after by other reliable sources, such as this excellent site – Consortiumnews. At no point did I feel I was being coerced by Russia during the 2016 election – I needed no confirmation that both Trump and Clinton were probably the worst candidates ever to run for President.

Joe Tedesky , September 17, 2017 at 9:31 am

You know what I find interesting is how a reporter such as Robert Parry will pinpoint his details to a critique of say the NYT, but when or if a NYTer is to write a likewise article of the Alternative Internet Press the NYTer will just simply critique their internet rival as a 'conspiracy theorist' or as now as in 2017 they refer to them as 'fake news artist'. I mean no rebuttal back referencing certain details such as what Parry mentioned, but just rhetorical words written over tabloid written headlines finalized under the heading of 'fake news'. This must be being taught in journalism school these days, because it's popular in the MSM.

Just like you have never heard or read from the MSM a detailed answered rebuttal to the pointed questions of say the '911 Truthers' or a 'JFK Assassination Researcher' a valid bona fide answer. No, but you do hear the masters and mistresses of the corporate media world call writers such as Parry, Roberts, and St Clair, 'fake newscasters', 'Putin Puppets', and or a whole host of other nasty names, as they feel fit to write, but never a honest too goodness rebuttal. Then they talk about Trump not sounding or acting presidential hmm the nerve of these wordsmiths.

BTW, I don't care much for Trump, and I even care less for our MSM. Just wanted to get that straight.

Nice comment Patricia. Joe

hatedbyu , September 16, 2017 at 10:57 am

let's not forget about the nytimes grossly negligent reporting on syria and libya. judith miller? russian doping scandal. lying about the holdomor . man i could do this all day ..

Joe Tedesky , September 17, 2017 at 10:12 am

You mean the on air hours of punditry explaining away their professions mistakes, or the honest rebuttal? It's at those particular times and occurrences of ignored self reflection our honorable (not) MSM falls back on Orwell's 1984. Like it never happened. The dog didn't eat no home work, because there never was a dog, nor was there any homework .stupid us. Life goes on uninterrupted and non commercial time can be filled with an update on Bill Cosby's past alleged sexual predator attacks, and this is our professional news casting doing its best to entertain us, not inform us god forbid, but entertain us the ignorant masses of their workless society.

One day hatedbyu the ignorant masses may just show the corporate infotainment duchess and dudes that they 'the people' ain't so ignorant, and things must change. Well at least that's the dream, but it's still a work in progress, and then there's the historical seesaw.

I think it's the power of empire to expand, just like a balloon, until it reaches it's bursting point. But just what that bursting point is, is without a doubt the most disputable of arguments to be made. I am coming to the belief we are, as always, continually getting to that point, and we may of course be very close to igniting that spark in the not so far off future. I would prefer the spark to be completely financial, and dealt with accordingly, but I'm a dreamer purest and a conspiracy theorist, so that means when the crap starts going down, I'll be the old man on the hill lighting up a big fat doobie cue soundtrack 'Fool On the Hill'.

Sorry just had to get carried away, but it's Sunday morning hatedbyu and I'm home alone and nobody's trying to break in .. Good comment hatedbyu. Joe

Stephen J. , September 16, 2017 at 11:27 am

A Compilation Not seen in Corporate Media: See Link Below:
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
US Wars and Hostile Actions: A List
By David Swanson

http://davidswanson.org/warlist/?link_id=3&can_id=ed31bf4cbc8f991980718b21b49ca26d&source=email-how-outlawing-war-changed-the-world-in-1928-2&email_referrer=email_232560&email_subject=how-outlawing-war-changed-the-world-in-1928

Bob Van Noy , September 16, 2017 at 9:42 pm

Stephen J. Thank you for introducing me to David Swanson. Great link.

Joe Tedesky , September 17, 2017 at 11:29 am

Im with you on that Bob, Stephen J providing the Swanson link should be a must read, to keep things fair and balanced. I also do wonder if Swanson's message isn't getting out there, and we all don't already know it? I'm a glass half full kind of guy, but what do we really know about each other, other than what the corporate media instills on us? I wish cable news would air a program made up of Swanson, Pilger, and Parry, for that at least could put some well needed balance finality back, if it ever was there in the first place, back into the public narrative .but there go I.

Good to see you Bob. Joe

Hank , September 16, 2017 at 11:32 am

The deep state sticks with what works: controlling the media keeps the masses ignorant and malleable. "Remember the Maine"
Germans are bayoneting Belgium babies and "remember the Lusitania" , some evidence shows higher ups knew the Japanese fleet was 400 miles from Hawaii, recall "Tonkin Gulf" episode, Iran Contra , invasion of Granada, Panama, and of course 911 and war on terror, patriot act, weapons of mass destruction, and Russia hacking the election. The masses "believe" these to be true and react and respond accordingly.

"
"Naturally the common people don't want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, IT IS THE LEADERS of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is TELL THEM THEY ARE BEING ATTACKED, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. IT WORKS THE SAME IN ANY COUNTRY."

–Goering at the Nuremberg Trials

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 12:53 pm

Thanks Hank. Same ole same ole, eh? When will we ever learn?

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 11:32 am

"Trump might well go down in history of the President who screwed-up a historical opportunity to really change our entire planet for the better and who, instead, by his abject lack of courage and honor, his total lack of political and diplomatic education and by his groveling subservience to the "swamp" he had promised to drain ended up being as pathetically clueless as Obama was." (The Saker)

My sentiments exactly.

Voytenko , Sep