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The Iron Law of Oligarchy

Version 1.1 (June 12, 2017)

News Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite Recommended Books Recommended Links Two Party System as polyarchy Audacioues Oligarchy and Loss of Trust Neoliberal "New Class" as variant of Soviet Nomenklatura
Inverted Totalitarism Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism The Pareto Law Corporatism Neo-fascism Bureaucracy Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition
New American Caste System  American Exceptionalism Amorality of neoliberal elite The Deep State Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult Pluralism as a myth What's the Matter with Kansas
Neoliberal Brainwashing: Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few The Guardian Slips Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment The importance of controlling the narrative  Patterns of Propaganda US and British media are servants of security apparatus   National Security State / Surveillance State Big Uncle is Watching You
Wrecking Crew: Notes on Republican Economic Policy Libertarian Philosophy   In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers Groupthink Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc

Introduction

The Iron law of oligarchy is a political theory, first developed by the German sociologist Robert Michels in his book 1915 Political Parties. The book is now freely available as copyright expired,  and well worth reading:

Robert Michels was a Professor of Political Economy and Statistics, University of Basle. He was an anarcho-syndicalist at the time he formulated the Law. He later became an important ideologue of Mussolini's fascist regime in Italy. Drawing on his own disillusioning as a member and supporter of a social democratic party in early 20th century Germany, Michels described an interesting dynamics pf organizations such as political parties toward crystallization its own "nomenklatura"  unaccountable to rank-and-file members elite - or as he called them -- an oligarchy.  Those processes inevitably start  even the most democratically-oriented organizations and they eventually  become divided into an elite (or more correctly a set of elites, or oligarchs, with their own set of distinctive and private interests in the organization) and the rank and file members, whose labor and resources are exploited by the elites. The first condition precipitating the drift to such an oligarchical system is, ironically, success in recruiting new members to the organization’s cause. As organizations grow, the ability of members to participate equally in organizational decisions decline, both because it is hard to find a place and time for all members to assemble and because decision-making is significantly slowed - not infrequently to a standstill - as the number of decision-makers increases. The usual response is to such problems is creation of "leadership"  -- delegation of responsibility to a relatively small subset of members for formulating and recommending lines of action.

Although members may attempt to maintain democratic control, a number of forces weaken any attempts for such control. For example,  effective administration requires both hard-to-gain, specialized knowledge of these aspects of the organization (Michels referred to this as “administrative secrets”), as well as scarce organizing talents, such as the ability to manage interpersonal relations and to conduct logistical planning. This limits the ability of rank-and-file members to challenge leaders’ recommendations or decisions, and to replace them; so power gradually concentrated at the top. Moreover, once elected leaders are likely to acquire vested interests in maintaining their positions within the organization, especially when the complexity leads to the creation of full-time administrative positions.

In this case holding the office becomes the way of making living, , makes it likely that the leaders recognize their common interests in maintaining their positions within the organization, and develop a sense of solidarity with one another (becoming, in Marxist terminology, something like a privileged class, local aristocracy). As such, they are inclined to act cohesively in fending off criticisms and warding off displacement efforts by the membership. If serious challenges are not readily suppressed, the leaders may resort to cooptation of individual rank-and-file members, thus effectively hobbling lower-level resistance. Because their continued position also depends on the survival of the organizations, leaders of initially radical organizations tend to adopt more conservative, conciliatory positions in order to minimize chances of suppression of the organization by the state (digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu (

In other words growth of complexity of organization alone tend to lead to crystallization of oligarchy with this it. The simplest formulation of the 'Iron Law of Oligarchy': "Who says organization, says oligarchy."  The inevitability of oligarchy in party life, and as to the difficulties which the growth of this oligarchy imposes upon the realization of democracy, have been strikingly confirmed since the publication of the book.  So now the "iron law of oligarchy" is as close to a social law as one can get. 

In essence, Iron law of oligarchy postulate that any complex organization self-generate its own elite, an oligarchy that has a disproportional influence on the decisions made in the organization. Such an elite 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.

At ta very basic level strength (both physical and the character), intellect and cunning are three qualities which typically set leaders apart from the masses of the led. Authority -- the right to lead -- is always gained through some type of intraparty/intragroup competition that implicitly or explicitly tests these qualities. In small groups in the past (and in high school even today) its can be even an actual fight. The desire to dominate, and the expectation of the rewards that accompany domination, presumably are what motivate individuals to enter this competition and fight to win.

Competition for preeminence is characteristic of human societies. It is related to the concept of alpha male in primates. The possession of some characteristic highly valued by the community, can, with some luck, elevate an individual to the elite status. That means that elites are those individual that have the most of the qualities we would like to have ourselves. Artistic elites, thus, are those possessing the greatest artistic gifts and skills, and political elites are those who are able to discern political trends better then other and as a result accumulate by various means most political power. This is essentially Gaetano Mosca's definition of the elite -- a minority set off from the masses by the possession of some prized quality

Although leadership by elites and the moral justification for it no doubt predated written human history, the philosophical origins of the Western tradition of elitism lies with the Greeks, ironically also the authors of democracy. For example, Plato put forth an unabashed apology for political rule by intellectual elites.

Speaking still of elites in general, rather than political elites specifically, we can detect three main characteristics of elites: exclusivity, superiority, and domination.

The larger argument that Keller is making is that there is a ruling class, at least in industrial societies, but it is not homogenous like Marxists assume.  Industrial societies are so differentiated, and there are so many areas of human activity, that no one particular social group can dominate every aspect. so elite exist is certain "pockets", which might overlap. There is also hierarchy within the elites with the political and financial elites (aka financial oligarchy) being at the top of the pecking order.  Life has become highly compartmentalized in modern societies, and as a result there are several "strategically placed" elites that dominate different areas of life in modern societies and delegate their members into upper level of elite hierarchy. .

A political elite, then, is a group that dominates the political life of a society (and that means the society as a whole), is superior in political skills (keeping in mind that the types of skills valuable for politics vary and can include duplicity and murderousness as well as rhetorical skill and persuasiveness), and insulated from everyday contact with the larger society. A considerable literature exists around the problem of defining the boundaries of the political elite, drawing the line between the elite and the non-elite, and distinguishing among elites and leaders.5

Need for organization

As michels noted

" ...Be the claims economic or be they political, organization appears the only means for the creation of a collective will. Organization, based as it is upon the principle of least effort, that is to say, upon the greatest possible economy of energy, is the weapon of the weak in their struggle with the strong.

The chances of success in any struggle will depend upon the degree to which this struggle is carried out upon a basis of solidarity between individuals whose interests are identical. In objecting, therefore, to the theories of the individualist anarchists that nothing could please the employers better than the dispersion and disaggregation of the forces of the workers, the socialists, the most fanatical of all 'the partisans of the idea of organization, enunciate an argument which harmonizes well with the results of scientific study of the nature of parties.'

Iron law of oligarchy as a powerful argument against possibility of  "permanent stability"  in human societies

"Iron law of oligarchy" represents a powerful argument against possibility of  "permanent stability"  in human societies. As Minsky told us "stability is destabilizing". As elite that got power degrades, newcomers want to displace it and such "regime change" often possible only by violent means. That's why the institutionalized mechanisms for "rotation of elite" are so important. 

Every solidly constructed organization, whether it be a democratic state, a political party, or a league of proletarians for the resistance of economic oppression, presents a soil eminently favorable for the differentiation of organs and of functions. The more extended and the more ramified the official apparatus of the organization, the greater the number of its members, the fuller its treasury, and the more widely circulated its press, the less efficient becomes the direct control exercised by the rank and file, and the more is this control replaced by the increasing
power of committees.

Into all parties there insinuates itself that indirect electoral system which in public life the democratic parties fight against with all possible vigour. Yet in party life the influence of this system must be more disastrous than in the far more extensive life of the state. Even in the party congresses, which represent the party-life seven times sifted, we find that it becomes more and more general to refer all important questions to committees which debate in camera.

At the same time any revolution, at the end, is just a change on the top layer of elite. Which means that they seldom achieve stated goals, especially if such goals include equality and social justice. The fundamental distinction between the elite and rank-and-file members is always preserved and, paradoxically, often enhanced.  As Michels noted in his book Political Parties

...society cannot exist without a …dominant… or… political class, and that the ruling class, while its elements are subject to frequent partial renewal, nevertheless constitutes the only factor of sufficiently durable efficacy in the history of human development. [T]he government, or, … the state, cannot be anything other than the organization of a minority. It is the aim of this minority to impose upon the rest of society a “legal order” which is the outcome of the exigencies of dominion and of the exploitation of the mass …

Even when the discontent of the masses culminates in a successful attempt to deprive the bourgeoisie of power, this is … effected only in appearance; always and necessarily there springs from the masses a new organized minority which raises itself to the rank of a governing class…” (pp. 353-354).

Elite is an organized minority which always outmaneuver and outsmart the rank-and-file members

The key here is that elite (oligarchy) on any complex organization always holds the lion share of  political power and that this power is independent of any democratic elections or revolutions:

The practical ideal of democracy consists in the self-government of the masses in conformity with the decisions of popular assemblies. But while this system limits the extension of the principle of delegation, it fails to provide any guarantee against the formation of an oligarchical camarilla. Undoubtedly it deprives the natural leaders of their quality as functionaries, for this quality is transferred to the people themselves. The crowd, however, is always subject to suggestion, being readily influenced by the eloquence of great popular orators ; moreover, direct government by the people, admitting of no serious discussions or thoughtful deliberations, greatly facilitates coups de main of all kinds by men who are exceptionally bold, energetic, and adroit;

It is easier to dominate a large crowd than a small audience. The adhesion of the crowd is tumultuous, summary, and unconditional. Once the suggestions have taken effect, the crowd does
not readily tolerate contradiction from a small minority, and still less from isolated individuals. A great multitude assembled within a small area is unquestionably more accessible to panic

... ... ...

The sovereign masses are altogether incapable of undertaking the most necessary resolutions. The impotence of direct democracy, like the power of indirect democracy, is a direct outcome
of the influence of number. In a polemic against Proudhon (1849), Louis Blanc asks whether it is possible for thirty-four millions of human beings (the population of France at that time) to carry on their affairs without accepting what the pettiest man of business finds necessary, the intermediation of representatives.

... ... ...

Organization implies the tendency to oligarchy. In every organization, whether it be a political party, a professional union, or any other association of the kind, the aristocratic tendency manifests itself very clearly. The mechanism of the organization, while conferring a solidity of structure, induces serious changes in the organized mass, completely inverting the respective position of the leaders and the led. As a result of organization, every party or professional union becomes divided into a minority of directors and a majority of directed.

...It has been remarked that in the lower stages of civilization tyranny is dominant. Democracy cannot come into existence until there is attained a subsequent and more highly developed stage of social life. Freedoms and privileges, and among these latter the privilege of taking part in the direction of public a change in the relationship between the leaders and the mass. For the comradely leadership of local committees with all its undeniable defects there is substituted the professional leadership of the trade-union officials.

Initiative and capacity for decision thus become what may be called a professional speciality, whilst for the rank and file is left the passive virtue of discipline. There can be no doubt that this seamy side of officialism involves serious dangers for the party. The latest innovation in this direction, in the German social democratic party, is the appointment of salaried secretaries to the local branches. Unless the rank and file of the party keep very much on the alert, unless they are careful that these secretaries shall be restricted to purely executive functions, the secretaries will come to be regarded as the natural and sole depositaries of all power of initiative, and  as the exclusive leaders of local party life.

In the socialist party, however, by the nature of things, by the very character of the political struggle, narrower limits are imposed upon bureaucracy than in the case of the tradeunions. In these latter, the technical specialization of the wage-struggle (the need, for example, for the drafting of complicated sliding scales and  the like) often leads the chiefs to deny that the mass of organized workers can possess "a general view of the economic life of the country as a whole," and to deny, therefore, their capacity of judgment in such matters.

The most typical outcome of this conception is afforded by the argument  with which the leaders are accustomed to forbid all theoretical criticism of the prospects and possibilities of practical trade-unionism, asserting that such criticism involves a danger for the spirit of organization. This reasoning starts from the assumption that the workers can be won for organization  and can be induced to remain faithful to their trade-unions only by a blind and artless belief in the saving efficacy of the trade-union struggle ' ' (Rosa Luxemburg, Massenstreih, Partei u. GewerTcschaften, Erdmann Dubber,  Hamburg, 1906, p. 61).

Elite is an organized minority which always outmaneuver and outsmart the rank-and-file of the particular organization ("unorganized majority").

 Elite is an organized minority which always outmaneuver and outsmart the rank-and-file of the particular organization ("unorganized majority").

It is important to understand that there is a hierarchy within the elites too: it is composed of the "the top guns"  and the sub-elites.

Robert Michels observations were based on the fact that the socialist parties of Europe, despite their democratic ideology and provisions for mass participation, were completely and irrevocably dominated by their leaders (often with the elements of the "cult of personality"), just as the traditional conservative parties. Generalizing this phenomena he stated that all forms of organization, regardless of how democratic or autocratic they may be at the start, will eventually and inevitably evolve into oligarchies.

It is indisputable that the oligarchical and bureaucratic tendency of party organization is a matter of technical and practical necessity. It is the inevitable product of the very principle of organization.

For technical and administrative reasons, no less than for tactical reasons, a strong organization needs an equally strong leadership.

... ... ...

To represent, in this sense, comes to mean that the purely individual desire masquerades and is accepted as the will of the mass. In certain isolated cases, where the questions involved are extremely simple, and where the delegated authority is of brief duration, representation is possible. But permanent representation will always be tantamount to the exercise of dominion by the representatives over the represented.

... ... ....

Louis XIV understood the art of government as have few princes either before or since, and this was the case above all in the first half of his reign, when his spirit was still young and fresh. In
his memoirs of the year 1666, he lays down for every branch of the administration, and more especially for the conduct of military affairs, the following essential rules: "que les resolu-
tions doivent etre promptes, la discipline exact, les commandements absolus, I'obeissance ponctuelle."^ The essentials thus enumerated by Lous (promptness of decision, unity of
command, and strictness of discipline) are equally applicable, mutaiis mutandis, to the various aggregates of modern political life, for these are in a perpetual condition of latent warfare.

The modern party is a fighting organization in the political sense of the term, and must as such conform to the laws of tactics. Now the first article of these laws is facility of mobilization. Ferdinand Lassalle, the founder of a revolutionary labour party, recognized this long ago, contending that the dictatorship which existed in fact in the society over which he presided was as thoroughly justified in theory as it was indispensable in practice. The rank and file, he said, must follow their chief blindly, and the whole organization must be like a hammer in the hands of its president.

... ... ...

In the daily struggle, nothing but a certain degree of csesarism will ensure the rapid transmission and the precise execution of orders. The Dutch socialist. Van Kol, frankly declares that true democracy cannot be installed until the fight is over.

The elite can be quite hostile to the society (or organization) at large and behave more like an occupation force

The elite actually can be quite hostile to the society (or organization) at large and behave more like an occupation force then the  "best representatives".  This detachment of elite from the interests of underling organization or society and the immanent tendency to pursue their own, narrowly understood political and economic interests is the major source of instability in the society.  

Prominent examples here are Bolsheviks, national socialists as well as neoliberal elite, especially neocons  policies of which are beneficial to military industrial complex and multinationals...

The elite actually can be quite hostile to the society (or organization) at large and behave more like an occupation force then the "best representatives". This detachment of elite from the interests of underling organization or society and  the immanent tendency to pursue their own, narrowly understood political and economic interests is the major source of instability in the society.

This gap between policies of the elite and desire of "masses" is not always negarive like in case of, say, US neocons. It can be positive and the changes hatched by  elite improve the life of "masses", while initially thosees "masses" oppose them.

In turn, common people, "masses" should not be idealized iether. They often do not understand and recent the ideas of the leaders, even if at the end they are the beneficiary of their implementation:

 Most people are altogether devoid of understanding of the actions and reactions between that organism we call the state and their private interests, their prosperity, and their life. As de Tocqueville expresses it, they regard it as far more important to consider "s'il faut faire passer un chemin au bout de leur domaine"^ than to interest themselves in the general work of public administration. The majority is content, with Stirner, to call out to the state, "Get away from between me and the sun!"

Stirner makes fun of all those who, in accordance vsdth the views of Kant, preach it to humanity as a  ' sacred duty ' ' to take an interest in public affairs. ' ' Let those persons who have a personal interest in political changes concern themselves with these. Neither now nor at any future time will 'sacred duty' lead people to trouble themselves about the
 

Key Findings

By studying the political parties of his time Michels came to the conclusion that the problem is connected with the very nature of organizations. Development of the modern democracy allowed the formation of organization like political parties. Paradoxically, any such organization, when growing in complexity, gradually become  less and less democratic. And this process is immanent, objective and does not depend  of quality of leaders or nature of the organization. Michels outlines several important factors which serve as a foundation of the "Iron Law of Oligarchy":

In other words rule by an elite (aka "oligarchy") is inevitable within any large organization because the set of  objectively existing  "tactical and technical necessities" immanent to complex organizations.  Moreover, intellectuals within such political organizations tend to become oligarchs. The history of the USSR is a very  sobering example of this trend. Michels particularly addressed the interaction of this law with the idea of  democracy and found the latter illusionary. He 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."

The organizational characteristics that promote oligarchy are reinforced by certain characteristics of both leaders and members of organizations. People achieve leadership positions precisely because they have political talent; they are adept at getting their way and persuading others of the correctness of their views.

Once they hold high office, their power and prestige is further increased and "lock-in" quickly happens.  Leaders have access to, and control over, information and facilities that are not available to the rank-and-file. They control the information that flows down the channels of communication. Leaders are also strongly motivated to persuade the organization of the rightness of their views, and they use all of their skills, power and authority to do so.[3]

By design of any complex organization as a hierarchical structure, rank and file are less informed than their "superiors." Finally, from birth, people are taught to obey those in positions of authority. Therefore the rank and file tend to look to leaders for policy directives and are generally prepared to allow leaders to exercise their judgment on most matters even to detriment of their own interests.

Leaders also control and have the ability to apply very powerful negative and positive sanctions to promote the behavior of rank-and-file members that they desire. Classic example is patriotic fervor during wars even if the was in clearly has offensive nor defensive character like it was with the Iraq was. 

The leaders have the power to control communication,  grant or deny raises, assign workloads, fire, demote and — that most gratifying of all sanctions — the power to promote. There is now  doubt that they tend to promote junior officials who share their opinions and can be counted on being loyal, with the result that the oligarchy becomes more and more entrenched and self-perpetuating. Therefore the very nature of large-scale organization makes oligarchy within these organizations inevitable. Bureaucracy, by design, promotes the centralization of power and concentration it at the very top of the organization.

Democratic Parties typically are not that democratic

While the US democratic Party now is glaring example of this, this is is not a new phenomenon. As Robert Michels observed (p 50)

In the life of modern democratic parties we may observe signs of similar indifference. It is only a minority which participates in party decisions, and sometimes that minority is ludicrously
small. The most important resolutions taken by the most democratic of all parties, the socialist party, always emanate from a handful of the members. It is true that the renouncement of
the exercise of democratic rights is voluntary; except in those cases, which are common enough, where the active participation of the organized mass in party life is prevented by geographical or topographical conditions.

Speaking generally, it is the urban part of the organization which decides everything; the duties of the members living in country districts and in remote provincial towns are greatly restricted ; they are expected to pay their subscriptions and to vote during elections in favour of the candidates selected by the organization of the great town.

There is here at work the influence of tactical considerations as well as that of local conditions. The preponderance of the townsmen over the scattered country members corresponds to the necessity of promptness in decision and speed in action to which allusion was made in an earlier chapter.

... ... ...

It may be added that the regular attendants at public meetings and committees are by no means always proletarians — especially where the smaller centres are concerned. When his work is finished, the proletarian can think only of rest, and of getting to bed in good time. His place at meetings is taken by petty bourgeois, by those who come to sell newspapers and picture-postcards, by clerks, by young intellectuals who have not yet got a position in their own circle, people who are all glad to hear themselves spoken of as authentic proletarians and to be glorified as the class of the future.*

The same thing happens in party life as happens in the state. In both, the demand for monetary supplies is upon a coercive foundation, but the electoral system has no established sanction. An electoral right exists, but no electoral duty. Until this duty is superimposed upon the right, it appears probable that a small minority only will continue to avail itself of the right which the majority voluntarily renounces, and that the minority will always dictate laws for the indifferent and apathetic mass.

New view on the modern history

From this point of view the XXth century revolutions in Russia and China, it was not "workers and peasants" revolutions as Marxists try to present. They were coups d'état of a narrow circle of intellectuals representing interests of middle class and organized as a radical political party with the explicit goal to depose existing elite and became a new elite themselves:

In Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook, military historian Edward Luttwak states that "[a] coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder."

Those revolutions gave the birth of the world first totalitarian regimes which raised the level of detachment and hostility of the elite to the rank-and-file members of society to a new historical level (now dutifully reproduced by the US neoliberal elite)

Similarly the disintegration of the USSR was not so much due to the growth of democratic tendencies of the population. Even such factors as  inefficiency of the socialist mode of production and internet revolution that made state control of information more difficult were not decisive.  All those factors were present, but the key factor was that the growth of globalism increased neoliberal tendencies of the USSR elite (including first of all KGB elite, which produced several high raking defectors to the USA including at least one general).

The latter decided to privatize the country and join the club or Western elites in short and swift neoliberal Coup d'état, essentially a color revolution.  This integration of the new xUSSR elite with Western Elites did happened, but on West (aka vassal) terms, as nobody eliminated hierarchy with in the global elite. So this romance, which flourished during Yeltsin years (which were years of economic rape of Russia by he West and local, most Jewish oligarchs) partially came to and end with the election of President Putin. Some "neoliberal oligarchs", who resisted the change ended in exile, and one even managed to get into jail.  

In general any successful national-liberation and socialist movement which run under populist and democratic slogans in reality tend to have the same "elite displacement" property, when old elite is replaced by a new one. Which can be more cruel toward population then the previous one. 

In this sense Machiavelli idea that there is nothing more dangerous then to institute a social change has new, pretty  menacing meaning.  Please look at EuroMaidan at the most recent example of the elite change and what it brought to rank-and-file Ukrainians. 

Democracy as a utopian ideal

The Iron law of oligarchy is generally recognized to be one of the most devastating propositions in all social science as it undermines a cornerstone both liberal-democratic and Marxist theories -- the viability of democracy as direct rule of people.

The Iron law of oligarchy also suggests that competition for power in "Western democracies" is far from "perfect" and is limited to competition with the elite (approximately top 0.01% of the population). Institutions which provide for minority rights, checks and balances are just sweet political coatings over bitter socio-economic pills. 

They also server as pressure valves for channeling discontent into more palatable forms, but are little more then that.  Looks like Marxists were right that without greater economic equality democracy is completely impossible. But, at the same time,  they were wrong that pretty economically egalitarian society is viable as self-generation of elites in any society can't be stopped.

In the USSR oligarchy (aka nomenklatura)   self-emerged and ruled for all the short USSR history. It is well described in Michael Voslensky book  Nomenklatura The Soviet Ruling Class . Actually Politburo of CPSU became a gravitational center of new oligarchy. In comparison with the USSR with its rigid one-party system, the USA employ more sophisticated system  of two party rule, which actually proved to be less brutal, but, at the same time, more efficient in sustaining of the rule of oligarchy (Two Party System as Polyarchy)

Indirectly the "iron rule of oligarchy" also badly reflects on the US foreign policy, making "promotion of democracy" to look like a smoke screen behind which naked economic and imperial interests hide. For example, the recent Hillary Clinton stance of Libya and Syria looks like hypocritical nonsense that masks geopolitical and economic energy security considerations. It is just a  "regime change" in which a different, more friendly to US interests part of national oligarchy comes to power.  

The Iron Law of Oligarchy also makes clear that the current ruling regime in the USA has very little to do with the democracy and a lot with the defense of the interests of top one (or more correctly 0.01%) of population.  

Still, improvement in socio-economic welfare matters as it does increase economic sovereignty of individuals and limit the number of degrees of freedom that oligarchy enjoys. The poorer (and less economically secure) are the people the easier they are manipulated. So egalitarian ideal still has distinct democratic value. 

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.

According to the "iron law," democracy and large-scale organizations are incompatible. Democracy is a utopian ideal. 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.

Iron law of oligarchy and the stratification of society

The degree of inequality in a given asset (e. g., income) depends, of course, on its dispersion or concentration of wealth across the individuals in the population Although many scholars seek to characterize the overall level of societal inequality with a single parameter, such attempts will obviously be compromised insofar as some types of assets are distributed more equally than others.

This complexity clearly arises in the case of modern stratification systems, for instance, the recent emergence of "social rights" suggests that civil goods are now more equally dispersed across all citizens, whereas economic and political goods continue to be disproportionately controlled by a relatively small elite -- financial oligarchy.

In nearly all models of advanced industrial society, education is the principal mechanism by which individuals are sorted into such classes; in a way educational institutions serve to "license" human capital (if we use this neoliberal term) and convert it to cultural currency.

Emergence of global elite, financial oligarchy

One of the most recent social phenomenon is the emergence of global elite. It is represented by-and-large by parts of nations financial oligarchy with some additions of employees of international organization (World Bank, IMF, etc), high-tech companies and transnational corporations.  Here the iron law of oligarchy which previously was limited to state borders started to operate on new transnational level with the  self-organizing Politburo world (with membership concentrated on top echelons of elites of  G7 countries) and vassals, subservient elites which in effect are not so different from a regular party members on the international scheme.  In other words some parts of the elite and first of all financial oligarchy concentrated at the West converted themselves into super elite.

Financial oligarchy proved to be different from other types of oligarchy: from the very beginning it is transnational and as such is inclined to the betray the interests of home country population.  Also unlike other parts of oligarchy in the particular county, financial elite it is more parasitic and exists mainly as additional tax layer for the population. Despite the claims made by paid cheerleaders of megabanks, too big to fail banks extract huge taxpayer subsidies. This capture of the countries by a parasitic transnational financial elite is a new development and it changes the applicability of the law of oligarchy in a very unexpected way: the emerging clique of super-rich financial moguls are practically becoming their own nation, buying houses and keeping assets outside their country of primary residence. Whether they maintain primary residences in New York or Hong Kong, Moscow or Mumbai, today’s this transnational oligarchy is increasingly looks like a virtual "super nation".  Those “Supercitizens” are by-and-large above law unless the crime is committed against another supercitizen.

Also within a single country we are now seeing  not a single economy, but rather two fundamentally different and separate types of economy. This growing gap between the rich and non-rich has been evident for years. In a 2005 report to investors, for instance, three analysts at Citigroup advised that “the World is dividing into two blocs—the Plutonomy and the rest”:

In a plutonomy there is no such animal as “the U.S. consumer” or “the UK consumer”, or indeed the “Russian consumer”. There are rich consumers, few in number, but disproportionate in the gigantic slice of income and consumption they take. There are the rest, the “non-rich”, the multitudinous many, but only accounting for surprisingly small bites of the national pie.

Unlike previous oligarchies, members of the global elite generally stick to a globalist perspective and do not contribute to the economic growth of their home countries. They are becoming a transnational community of peers who have more in common with one another than with their countrymen. Ordinary people find themselves living in a globalized plutocracy, in which the superrich display acute indifference to the interest of "natives", and openly pursue narrow self-interest with callous indifference to anyone outside their own rarefied economic kingdom.

Financial elite of international financial organization such as IMF and World Bank is an interesting special case: 

"Christine Lagarde, the IMF boss who caused international outrage after she suggested in an interview with the Guardian on Friday that beleaguered Greeks might do well to pay their taxes, pays no taxes, it has emerged.

As an official of an international institution, her salary of $467,940 (£298,675) a year plus $83,760 additional allowance a year is not subject to any taxes.

The former French finance minister took over as managing director of the IMF last year when she succeeded her disgraced compatriot Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was forced to resign after he faced charges – later dropped – of sexually attacking a New York hotel maid.

Lagarde, 56, receives a pay and benefits package worth more than American president Barack Obama earns from the United States government, and he pays taxes on it.

The same applies to nearly all United Nations employees – article 34 of the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations of 1961, which has been signed by 187 states, declares: "A diplomatic agent shall be exempt from all dues and taxes, personal or real, national, regional or municipal."

According to Lagarde's contract she is also entitled to a pay rise on 1 July every year during her five-year contract.

Base salaries range from $46,000 to $80,521. Senior salaries range between $95,394 and $123,033 but these are topped up with adjustments for the cost of living in different countries. A UN worker based in Geneva, for example, will see their base salary increased by 106%, in Bonn by 50.6%, Paris 62% and Peshawar 38.6%. Even in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, one of the poorest areas of the world, a UN employee's salary will be increased by 53.2%.

Other benefits include rent subsidies, dependency allowances for spouses and children, education grants for school-age children and travel and shipping expenses, as well as subsidized medical insurance.

For many years critics have complained that IMF, World Bank, and United Nations employees are able to live large at international taxpayers' expense.

During the 1944 economic conference at Bretton Woods, where the IMF was created, American and British politicians disagreed over salaries for the bureaucrats. British delegates, including the economist John Maynard Keynes, considered the American proposals for salaries to be "monstrous", but lost the argument.

Officials from the various organizations have long maintained that the high salaries are a way of attracting talent from the private sector. In fact, most senior employees are recruited from government posts."

As Jesse wrote in his blog Jesse's Café Américain

Politicians from both sides of the aisle will swear pious oaths to protect and foster the well being of the middle class. They will say that their policies and proposals are all designed for its betterment. And yet the state of the middle class continues to dwindle into despair and disrepair. Why is this?

It is not because of the predominance of a right or left ideology, of taxation and deficits and austerity. It is not because of the re-emergence of a perversion of the gospel, in the predestination of prosperity. We have seen all this before. It is not because in our comfort we have lost the sense of the imperative of common cause.

It is because of the overwhelming corruption of power, and of the cynical amorality of thoroughly modern political managers who worship power and personal wealth as ends unto themselves. They distract the people with artificially divisive social issues and crises, while robbing them blind.

It is driven by the allure of the cartels, monopolies, and monied interests, and their corrupt political bargains. It is a child of the subornation of perjury on a massive scale. It is the unscrupulous servility to power of those who have sworn to uphold and protect the law. What is truth? Whatever suits us, whatever we say it is, by whoever has the power and the craft to define 'we.' It is not the triumph of evil so much as the absence of any sense of the good, of honor, honesty, and of simple common decency.

And it is marked by the daily subverting of the law as a matter of convenience and comfort to the insatiable few, and the cravenness of their enablers, driven by personal ambition, ignorance, and fear. It is the will to power, the elevation of the ascendant self and the system that supports it, above all else. Greed is good. Whatever works. And the enemy is all that is not the self, which is the other.

And where there is nothing sacred, the people perish.

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov


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[Jun 24, 2017] Deceit and Self-Deception by Robert Trivers – review

Notable quotes:
"... What I Don't Know About Animals ..."
Jun 24, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
Konrad Lorenz and Desmond Morris , or anthropologists such as Lionel Tiger . They linked studies of animal behaviour to the idea of Darwinian evolutionary principles to tell readers just how very like the beasts we were in our sex lives, our workplaces and our recreational behaviours. We were advised to look at chimps and other primates and derive understanding of ourselves from their apparently culture-free activities and traits. Underneath all our fancy culture and language, we were simply naked apes enacting primitive territorial imperatives.

The reading public lapped it up as both a neat, satisfying narrative, and as an excuse for all manner of not-so-civilised behaviours for which we no longer had to take personal and moral blame. We go to war – well, so do baboons; it's in our genes, we can try to overcome it, but in the end as in the beginning we're all just animals. By 1976 we didn't even have to blame the animal in ourselves: Richard Dawkins gave us the selfish gene, whose sole reason for existence was to reproduce itself. And we, that is the body and brain of you and me, were nothing but vehicles for these genes which compelled us to optimise their chances of replicating. Talk to the gene, the conscience isn't listening.

Much of this was based on algebraic theories of altruism developed by WD Hamilton , who shifted the mechanism of evolution from making groups fitter to survive to a new insistence on individual inclusive fitness. This was via kin selection, which drills down deeper than the inter-relatedness of individual organisms, to the separate alleles (of which genes are made) in every organism: these preferentially promote only those vehicles which contain alleles most closely related to themselves. Genes were responsible, somehow, for you fighting the whirlwind to save your sister, but probably not your less related cousin, and certainly not the stranger from down the road.

Some people were not crazy about this view of the human race. Genes doing algebra didn't suit a more macrocosmic idea of a fallible but responsible humanity.

Robert Trivers was the man who produced the unifying theory of kin selection and altruism. Now, decades on, he has arrived at a big, new universal theory, also essentially based on the arithmetic of gene selection. Deceit is useful where telling the (unpleasant) truth would hamper your progress. Progress towards what? Trivers would say your fitness, which is defined as raising the chances of replicating your genes into the next generation.

Your genes, apparently, would agree with him; but they would, wouldn't they? That is if they were capable of agreeing. I want to hang on to the fact that the building blocks of ourselves do not want or intend anything. Chemicals aren't conscious, although by amazing chance they can combine to make a conscious organism.

Once self-conscious humans begin to do science, and with the benefit of language, start to describe the nature of the chemicals that make them what they are, but having to use regular language if they want a large audience (maths is a much better language, but fewer people can read it), they cannot help but slide into the notion of intention. Dawkins's selfish gene gained an absurd life of its own because most people don't speak arithmetic.

The biological mechanism by which we conceal inconvenient truths from ourselves and others is shown, says Trivers, in functional MRI scans of blood flow associated with neural activity in the brain: "It is estimated that fully ten seconds before consciousness of intent, the neural signals begin that will later give rise to the consciousness and then the behaviour itself." Freud, who always believed that neurology would discover a physical basis for the unconscious, would be delighted, though according to Trivers, psychoanalysis is nothing more than a money-grabbing hoax. Yet there remains a void between brain chemicals doing what they do and the emergence of the sense we all have of possessing a mind.

Trivers's theories of deceit and self-deceit are based on multiple gleanings from experimental psychology. A trial with rats shows this, another with students suggests that. The actual experiments are referenced, rather minimally, in page-related endnotes, but Trivers's writing is full of halting phraseology as he slips from findings in the lab or questionnaire to the generality of human social behaviour.

He suggests from relatedness theory that fathers should show a "slight genetic bias towards their daughters", but "no one knows if this is true". General assertions about human behaviour are peppered with such phrases as "One is tempted to imagine ", "in mice at least ", "work still in its infancy ", "first speculations ", "Whether any of my speculations are true I have no idea ". And, really, if he doesn't, I certainly don't.

Once he has laid out his evidence, our biologically determined deceit behaviour is ready to account for just about everything Trivers doesn't like about the world, such as the false justifications for the invasion of Iraq, the self-deceiving use, by the US and UK, of 9/11 to declare war on oil-rich countries and on to torture, religion and stock-market trading. It so happens that Trivers and I dislike much the same things but, though I daresay knowledge is generally better than lack of it, I'm not convinced of the benefits of offering us the excuse of having been manipulated by our genes for our repeatedly scurrilous behaviour.

While the first part of the book explains the theory, and the second part discusses how deceit was responsible for all the political and social injustices both he and I perceive in the world, there is a third element woven through both. An actual individual life, that of Trivers himself, emerges, like a gene in the organism, offered perhaps as a consciously self-deprecating example of what evolutionary pressure to deceive can do to a person. Somehow, though, it comes across as back-handed boasting.

The man whom Trivers calls "I" is a compulsive thief who can't go into a room without coming away with a trophy. He talks of his "'inadvertent' touching of women", which occurs exclusively with his left (unconscious) hand. Apropos chimps turning their backs to hide an erection from a dominant male, he explains that he finds it very hard "in the presence of a woman with whom I am close, to receive a phone call from another woman with whom I may have, or only wish to have, a relationship, without turning my back to pursue the conversation".

He understands the male/female gender split by recollecting "trying to poison the minds of my three daughters against their mother". He nearly killed his girlfriend and nephew by driving the nephew's "cool car" too fast on a precipitous road, when he noticed her interest in the younger man. And after pages and pages on biological selection, evolutionary pressure and the dangerous deception that is religion, it not only turns out that he prays regularly, but he gives a short lecture on the proper way to say the "Lord's Prayer" (emphasise "thy"). I wasn't surprised to discover that he is on prescription antidepressants, as well as using ganja and cocaine.

There will be Iron Johns who read this book and cheer, and although he explains that each sex (abhorring the word "gender", which he calls a euphemism) contains both male and female genes, my male genes are just too wimpy to find any charm in Trivers's display of self-disclosure – machismo and pet peeves – dressed up as an important new evolutionary understanding of humanity.

Jenny Diski's What I Don't Know About Animals is published by Virago.

frustratedartist , 11 Oct 2011 03:20

@greaterzog

Oh dear- could you then...disentangle your own behaviour from your 'human nature".

In general- Yes. Human behaviour changes rapidly and depends on culture and individual choices. Human nature changes very very slowly, in 'evolutionary time'. Too slowly for it to be observed.

On the level of the individual -- No. I can't disentangle my personal choices from my inherited tendencies. To what extent does my behaviour (or my character)reflect my genes or upbringing, to what extent is it my own free will? Nature, Nurture, or Nietzsche?, as Stephen Fry would say. I can't say- except that I believe that we all have free will and are therefore in most cases responsible for our actions.

As for 'my' human nature, that is a meaningless phrase. Human nature I would define as the (evolved) psychological traits humans have in common .

greatherzog , 10 Oct 2011 15:57

In his article Pinker gives (I think) quite a convincing explanation of how human behaviour can be changing for the better, while human nature (perforce) remains the same.

Oh dear- could you then-with the help of Pinker's pseudo-scientific, deterministic, eurocentric tosh and/or Dawkins overly simplistic, to the point of idiocy take on genes and evolution- disentangle your own behaviour from your 'human nature.' I am really curious.

[Jun 22, 2017] Neocons influence on US foreign policy

Equating critique of Israel with anti-Semitism is like equating critique of Nazi Germany with with denigrating everything German.
Jun 22, 2017 | www.unz.com

lavoisier Website June 21, 2017 at 10:27 am GMT

@Sam J. "...In the end, it is the American people who decide whether Israel is to be or not to be a vital American ally and friend..."

To make informed decisions you have to have information. The American people don't have that. So they really haven't made a decision at all. They've been tricked into doing things that are covered up in lies. The American people are responsible even if they are being manipulated by the MSM.

Too many Americans are woefully ignorant about the world, particularly about the extent that Jewish interests have manipulated so many aspects of our government and our culture. If you even bring this issue up you are immediately branded a hater and your arguments dismissed.

In short, many Americans are happy to drink the kool aid.

It is a much deeper problem than simply our American Pravda.

Many of us have chosen to be blind, refusing to even consider the possibility that we are being manipulated, and in the process fail as responsible citizens.

One can choose to be red pilled today. This is ultimately the choice to go through life with an open mind and to have a high regard for reality, however uncomfortable that reality may be.

annamaria June 21, 2017 at 12:34 pm GMT

@Sam J. "...The source of Jewish power in the US is their brokerage of voter bias and federal entitlements between the federal government and the public..."

There may be a little bit of that but it's not the main reason. The main reasons are:
1. They own practically all media in the US.
2. They own the FED providing almost limitless cash to their preferred people.
3. They're blackmailing huge numbers of our Representatives with little Boys and little Girls.
4. They'll kill you if they don't get their way.

So if you run against them in the primary you will have extremely well funded opponents and the press will savage you. If that doesn't work they will try to redistrict you out of a job. If that doesn't work they will frame or kill you like they did to Ohio Congressman James Traficant. "1. They own practically all media in the US.
2. They own the FED providing almost limitless cash to their preferred people.
3. They're blackmailing huge numbers of our Representatives with little Boys and little Girls.
4. They'll kill you if they don't get their way."

And this has been leading the States – and Israel along with the States – to the demise. The US governing institutions have lost their ability to respond to reality and instead they respond to personal desires only. Hence the approaching danger of a hot war.

annamaria June 21, 2017 at 2:53 pm GMT

@Sam Shama

Don't look for the exchange with Colbert on YouTube. CBS deleted it from its broadcast and website, demonstrating once again that the "I" word cannot be disparaged on national television.
Is this the one?

http://www.cbs.com/shows/the-late-show-with-stephen-colbert/video/tRfgCC966_LEXj4URvqwisoUugDosea4/oliver-stone-spent-two-years-interviewing-vladimir-putin/

If so, you'll need to issue a retraction of your statement and all the other insinuations you derived from it. If it is not the video, I issue my apologies in advance.

......he was assassinated, which was a lucky break for Israel, particularly as Kennedy was replaced by the passionate Zionist Lyndon Baines Johnson.
With this slander which others commented on earlier, it does deserve repeating emphatically, you've submerged yourself in conspiracies for reasons which appear to be occult Jew hatred impossible to contain just under the surface. It beggars belief that statement was written tongue in cheek; excessive cheek, tongue impossible to pry unstuck. An attempt at humour? Poor taste, really.
The Israelis know what is going on all the time.
Pure nonsense at some level. At another level, it is well-known we know more about our allies than their respective governments do and vice versa.
......but it also included an astonishingly large number of Democrats who describe themselves as progressive, including Corey Booker and Kamila Harris,
So they are progressives, what of it? You fail to understand most Americans view Iranians as a nation of people which took hostage American diplomats. These congressmen are doing no more than what their constituents want.

The readership of UR, a collection of a few excellent thinkers, overwhelmed by a larger group of lunatics, do not reflect the sentiment of the vast majority. They could not care what you or I think of Iranians. They remember Nov 1979.

And there's still more. Bill HR 672 Combating European Anti-Semitism Act of 2017 was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives on June 14th.
Antisemitism is a serious matter and it is well for it to bear scrutiny in some cases where through their actions overzealous elements[some in the judiciary] trivialise its intent. But you seem to favour an environment where mere vigilance through a bill deserves defeat. Unanimously.
President Donald Trump traveled to the Middle East claiming to be desirous of starting serious negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, but it was all a sham. Benjamin Netanyahu took him aside and came out with the usual Israeli bullshit about the Palestinians "inciting" violence and hatred of Jews and Trump bought into it
It's comical to behold the "select" group which voted for Trump now complain on these pages of the UR about what the man said he was going to do from the very beginning on the Israel-Palestine issue. It is not a sham. Trump never believed the "bullshit" coming from the U.N. [a body which has over 40 Muslim and Arab members] on the contrary, attacking the solitary Jewish nation state. He required no "taking aside" by Bibi. One needn't travel to the West Bank to find Jew hatred; a few months' worth of reading your columns being quite sufficient.

I might note in passing that there has been no Senate resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of the bravery exhibited by the officers and crew of the USS Liberty as they were being slaughtered by the Israelis at the same time as Jerusalem was being "liberated"
Such a Senate resolution requires convincing senators of its necessity. No one is stopping anyone.

I understand you feel Jerusalem is better in the hands of Palestinians and Arabs. We disagree.

A gem of an article all things considered.

"You fail to understand most Americans view Iranians as a nation of people which took hostage American diplomats."

You feign ignorance of the USSLiberty. The American servicemen were not just hostages for Israel – American servicemen were murdered by Israelis: https://theintercept.com/2017/06/06/fifty-years-later-nsa-keeps-details-of-israels-uss-liberty-attack-secret/
Most Americans are also aware that the US Congress has become Israel-occupied Congress, with the horrific consequences for the global insecurity.
"Israel Has Been Secretly Funding Syrian Rebels For Years:" http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-06-19/israel-has-been-secretly-funding-syrian-rebels-years
"The Kagans Are Back; Wars to Follow:" https://consortiumnews.com/2017/03/15/the-kagans-are-back-wars-to-follow/
There was an enormous sympathy for Jewish victims of the WWII; the sympathy and goodwill for Israel have been completed squandered by the bloody ziocons. Only opportunists stay loyal to Israeli agenda, whereas honest people look with horror on the transformation of a victim into an amoral villain.

[Jun 21, 2017] An Assault on Language Extremism by Gregory Barrett

Notable quotes:
"... The wealthy and powerful forces which control both of those influential centers in the formation of public opinion were desperate to regain control of the narrative, which has been slipping away from them at an increasing velocity since the advent of social media, and since the parallel growth of a broad spectrum of information networks with absolutely no interest in currying favor with the mighty, or in defending the status quo. ..."
"... As soon as the term "Fake News" appeared, Barack Obama pounced on it, and in a joint appearance in 2016 with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, used his worldwide microphone and bully pulpit – if only he had done so occasionally to sound the alarm about the approaching environmental crisis, or to express outrage about racism or police brutality, or to challenge war profiteers! – to announce his deep concern that "Fake News" was making it "difficult to govern" (for more on this and the struggle against corporate/government presstitute propaganda, see my article "Hope Is Our Enemy: Fighting Boiling Frog Syndrome"). ..."
"... This clumsy and panicky maneuver has deservedly met with far less success than Obama's incredibly successful propaganda sally against Russia and Vladimir Putin, which has captivated the paranoid fantasies of many millions of Americans and Europeans who desperately want to believe that NATO countries are virtuous and innocent, and are threatened by ruthless and aggressive foreigners who are responsible for the spreading chaos in the West. ..."
"... As one of his final acts in office, President Chameleon slapped new sanctions on Russia and deported Russian diplomats: after eight years, his transformation from Nobel Laureate and supposed apostle of peace to McCarthyite New Cold Warrior was complete, and vast numbers of angry Hillaroids were quickly on board the Blame Russia Express, full of self-righteous anger and the conviction that someone had stolen the election and that the usual suspects were obviously the guilty party. ..."
"... Things haven't gone so well for the "Fake News" campaign, however. Too many people could and can see disturbing patterns that ring true, if they spend enough time looking at truthful, objective analysis of the world around us, and there is quite a lot of it available via the internet. ..."
"... More people are spending more and more time on the internet and social media, where presstitute media lose the natural advantages they once had in a world dominated by government-regulated, corporate-financed TV, radio, and print news. ..."
"... It turns out that many of the best-informed writers see the world utterly differently than do the corporate and government shills who determine the "news" content in mainstream media. ..."
"... Social Democrats ..."
"... Christian Democrats ..."
"... The US military is by far the greatest polluter on Earth. ..."
"... I consider that an Orwellian assault on language. "Extremism" is what I oppose. Extreme wealth. Extreme greed. Extreme militarism. Extreme suicidal and ecocidal environmental destruction. Extreme governmental authority. Extreme stupidity. ..."
Jun 19, 2017 | www.counterpunch.org

We have had a certain amount of success in exposing the amorphous and mendacious term "Fake News" for what it is: a tool in a major campaign of propaganda against dissenting independent journalism and political writing, a campaign perpetrated by governments and corporate media. The wealthy and powerful forces which control both of those influential centers in the formation of public opinion were desperate to regain control of the narrative, which has been slipping away from them at an increasing velocity since the advent of social media, and since the parallel growth of a broad spectrum of information networks with absolutely no interest in currying favor with the mighty, or in defending the status quo.

As soon as the term "Fake News" appeared, Barack Obama pounced on it, and in a joint appearance in 2016 with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, used his worldwide microphone and bully pulpit – if only he had done so occasionally to sound the alarm about the approaching environmental crisis, or to express outrage about racism or police brutality, or to challenge war profiteers! – to announce his deep concern that "Fake News" was making it "difficult to govern" (for more on this and the struggle against corporate/government presstitute propaganda, see my article "Hope Is Our Enemy: Fighting Boiling Frog Syndrome").

This clumsy and panicky maneuver has deservedly met with far less success than Obama's incredibly successful propaganda sally against Russia and Vladimir Putin, which has captivated the paranoid fantasies of many millions of Americans and Europeans who desperately want to believe that NATO countries are virtuous and innocent, and are threatened by ruthless and aggressive foreigners who are responsible for the spreading chaos in the West.

As one of his final acts in office, President Chameleon slapped new sanctions on Russia and deported Russian diplomats: after eight years, his transformation from Nobel Laureate and supposed apostle of peace to McCarthyite New Cold Warrior was complete, and vast numbers of angry Hillaroids were quickly on board the Blame Russia Express, full of self-righteous anger and the conviction that someone had stolen the election and that the usual suspects were obviously the guilty party.

Things haven't gone so well for the "Fake News" campaign, however. Too many people could and can see disturbing patterns that ring true, if they spend enough time looking at truthful, objective analysis of the world around us, and there is quite a lot of it available via the internet.

More people are spending more and more time on the internet and social media, where presstitute media lose the natural advantages they once had in a world dominated by government-regulated, corporate-financed TV, radio, and print news.

It turns out that many of the best-informed writers see the world utterly differently than do the corporate and government shills who determine the "news" content in mainstream media.

Which brings us to one of the latest victims in the assault on language by the 1% and their pawns in the presstitute media: the word "extremism".

Here in the European Union where I live, this word is currently heard so often in the traditional media – along with another victimized word being brutalized almost non-stop, "populist" – that even poorly-educated persons who aren't sure exactly what is meant can understand that they must mean something very, very bad.

If any such confused persons should take the time to pay closer attention and attempt to ascertain what it is that makes these "extremists" and "populists" so deplorable and dangerous, they may soon notice that at least one of these words, "extremist", has a pretty nebulous field of application. According to major sources of conventional wisdom in the EU, terrorists are "extremists". But "extremism", more generally, is also applied casually to nearly any political parties and interest groups to the Left and the Right of the large (if shrinking in some countries like France) parties called "people's parties" (Volksparteien) here in Germany: the no-longer-socialist Social Democrats who are allegedly center-left, the pseudo-Christian Christian Democrats who portray themselves as center-right, and even the thoroughly compromised and faded-to-brown Green Party , which has gone to great lengths and engaged in stupendous contortions of deliberate conformism to achieve its modern status as a pillar of the established order, a long journey from its radical roots in the 1980s.

As you may have deduced from my snarky tone, I find myself firmly ensconced among the so-called "extremists" of the Left.

What, one may legitimately ask, are the views which have led to this branding as a dangerous individual? Do I advocate keeping a stock of Molotov Cocktails handy for quick use when the shit starts to fly? I do not.

Okay I guess I'll have to come clean. Here are the radical, dangerous, "extremist" positions I support when I advocate more influence for this political party:

In addition, there is my allegedly "extreme" position on the environment, which is not so much a priority for "Die Linke" but is the most important issue of all for me personally. I am convinced that only a radical transformation of the world economy can save this planet, including most life on Earth. I believe this can only come about through an end to industrial capitalism: a ban on most fossil fuels, an end to the production of most plastics, an end to most beef production and strict organic regulation of all meat production, and worldwide mandatory measures to clean up the poisonous residue of the current system which is killing the planet. This will necessarily involve huge cuts in most military structures and war-making as well. The US military is by far the greatest polluter on Earth.

For these views, and my concomitant rejection of the large political parties in the EU and the USA which have done almost nothing to save the planet that was not outweighed by massive destruction – parties which thus, in the name of "realism", have sold our future to the rich and may have doomed all life on this planet, as scientific opinion is near unanimous that time is short – for these views I am labeled an "extremist".

I consider that an Orwellian assault on language. "Extremism" is what I oppose. Extreme wealth. Extreme greed. Extreme militarism. Extreme suicidal and ecocidal environmental destruction. Extreme governmental authority. Extreme stupidity.

[Jun 19, 2017] The Politics of Lying by Henry A. Giroux

The author mixed Trump with Clinton political machine and his characterization are applicable first of all to Clinton political machine, and only secondarily to Trump,
Notable quotes:
"... As important as the Trump-Comey affair is, it runs the risk of both exacerbating the transformation of politics into theater ..."
"... You belong by affirming. To win, you don't need reasons anymore, only power." ..."
"... This is especially important at a time when the United States is no longer a functioning democracy and is in the presence of what Zygmunt Bauman and Leonidas Donskis refer to in their book Liquid Evil as "the emergence of modern barbarity." ..."
"... Note: This is an expanded version of a piece that originally appeared on Ragazine . ..."
Jun 15, 2017 | www.truth-out.org

...Trump cannot be trusted because he not only infects political discourse with a language of hate, bigotry and lies, but also because he has allowed an ideology built on the use of disinformation to take over the White House. Under the Trump administration, the truth is distorted for ideological, political and commercial reasons. Lying has become an industry and tool of power. All administrations and governments lie, but under Trump lying has become normalized. It is a calling card for corruption and lawlessness, one that provides the foundation for authoritarianism.

Trump is a salesman and a bully. He constantly assumes the macho swagger of a used car salesman from a TV commercial while at the same time, as Rebecca Solnit observes, he bullies facts and truths as well as friends and acquaintances. He is obsessed with power and prides himself on the language of command, loyalty and humiliation. He appears fixated on the fear that the United States could still act on the memory, if not the ghosts, of a real democracy.

... ... ...

A democracy cannot exist without informed citizens and public spheres and educational apparatuses that uphold standards of truth, honesty, evidence, facts and justice. Under Trump, disinformation masquerading as news -- often via his Twitter account -- has become a weapon for legitimating ignorance and civic illiteracy. Not only has Trump lied repeatedly, he has also attacked the critical media, claimed journalists are enemies of the American people and argued that the media is the opposition party. There is more at stake here than the threat of censorship or the normalization of lying; there is also an attack on long-valued sources of information and the public spheres that produce them. Trump's government has become a powerful disimagination machine in which the distinction between fact and fiction, reality and fantasy are erased.

... ... ...

Berkowitz's piece is worth citing at length. He writes :

The reason fact-checking is ineffective today -- at least in convincing those who are members of movements -- is that the mobilized members of a movement are confounded by a world resistant to their wishes and prefer the promise of a consistent alternate world to reality. When Donald Trump says he's going to build a wall to protect our borders, he is not making a factual statement that an actual wall will actually protect our borders; he is signaling a politically incorrect willingness to put America first. When he says that there was massive voter fraud or boasts about the size of his inauguration crowd, he is not speaking about actual facts, but is insisting that his election was legitimate. 'What convinces masses are not facts, and not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system of which they are presumably part.' Leaders of these mass totalitarian movements do not need to believe in the truth of their lies and ideological clichés. The point of their fabrications is not to establish facts, but to create a coherent fictional reality. What a movement demands of its leaders is the articulation of a consistent narrative combined with the ability to abolish the capacity for distinguishing between truth and falsehood, between reality and fiction.

As important as the Trump-Comey affair is, it runs the risk of both exacerbating the transformation of politics into theater and reinforcing what Todd Gitlin refers to as Trump's support for an "apocalyptic nationalism, the point of which is to belong, not to believe. You belong by affirming. To win, you don't need reasons anymore, only power." Trump values loyalty over integrity. He lies, in part, to test the loyalty of those who both follow him and align themselves with his power. The Trump-Comey affair must be understood within a broader attack on the fundamentals of education, critical modes of agency and democracy itself.

This is especially important at a time when the United States is no longer a functioning democracy and is in the presence of what Zygmunt Bauman and Leonidas Donskis refer to in their book Liquid Evil as "the emergence of modern barbarity." Trump's discourse of lies, misrepresentations and fakery makes it all the more urgent for us to acknowledge that education is at the center of politics because it is crucial in the struggle over consciousness, values, identity and agency. Ignorance in the service of education targets the darkness and reinforces and thrives on civic illiteracy. Trump's disinformation machine is about more than lying. It is about using all of the tools and resources for education to create a dystopia in which authoritarianism exercises the raw power of ignorance and control.

Artists, educators, young people, journalists and others need to make the virtue of truth-telling visible again. We need to connect democracy with a notion of truth-telling and consciousness that is on the side of economic and political justice, and democracy itself. If we are all going to fight for and with the most marginalized people, there must be a broader understanding of their needs. We need to create narratives and platforms in which those who have been deemed disposable can identify themselves and the conditions through which power and oppression bear down on their lives.

This is not an easy task, but nothing less than justice, democracy and the planet itself are at risk.

Note: This is an expanded version of a piece that originally appeared on Ragazine . Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission of the author.

Henry A. Giroux Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and the Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy. His most recent books are America's Addiction to Terrorism (Monthly Review Press, 2016) and America at War with Itself (City Lights, 2017). He is also a contributing editor to a number of journals, including Tikkun, the Journal of Wild Culture and Ragazine. Giroux is also a member of Truthout's Board of Directors. His website is www.henryagiroux.com .

[Jun 15, 2017] Liars Lying About Nearly Everything by Philip Giraldi

Notable quotes:
"... The United States has been using lies to go to war since 1846, when Americans who believed in manifest destiny sought to expand to the Pacific Ocean at the expense of Mexico, acquiring by force of arms California and what were to become the southwestern states. In 1898 the U.S. picked up the pieces of a dying Spanish Empire in a war that was driven by American imperialists and the yellow dog reporting of the Hearst Newspaper chain. And then came World War 1, World War 2, and Korea, all avoidable and all enabled by deliberate lying coming out of Washington. ..."
"... More recently, we have seen Vietnam with its Gulf of Tonkin fabrication, Granada and Panama with palpably ridiculous pretexts for war, Iraq with its nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, Afghanistan with its lies about bin Laden, Libya and its false claims about Gaddafi, and most recently Syria and Iran with allegations of an Iranian threat to the United States and lies about Syrian use of barrel bombs and chemical weapons. And if one adds in the warnings to Russia over Ukraine, a conflict generated by Washington when it brought about regime change in Kiev, you have a tissue of lies that span the globe and bring with them never-ending conflict to advance the American imperium. ..."
"... So lies go with the American Way of War, but the latest twist and turns in the Middle East are bizarre even by Washington's admittedly low standards of rectitude. ..."
"... The Saudis also have considerable blood on their hands by way of their genocidal assault on neighboring Yemen. In addition, the Saudi Royal House has served as the principal propagator of Wahhabism, the virulently fundamentalist version of Islam that provides a form of religious legitimacy to terror while also motivating many young Muslims to join radical groups. ..."
"... The falling out of two Gulf Arab regimes might be a matter of relatively little importance but for the unnecessary intervention of President Donald Trump in the quarrel. ..."
"... Trump's tweets might well be regarded as simply maladroit, driven by ignorance, but they could also provide a glimpse of a broader agenda. While in the Middle East, Trump was bombarded with anti-Iranian propaganda coming from both Israel and the Saudis. An escalation of hostilities with the intention of starting an actual war involving the United States to take down Iran is not unimaginable, particularly as the Israelis, who have already endorsed the Saudi moves, have been arguing that option and lying about the threat posed by Tehran for a number of years. ..."
Jun 13, 2017 | www.unz.com
Terrorism supporters in Washington and Riyadh close ranks against Qatar

The United States has been using lies to go to war since 1846, when Americans who believed in manifest destiny sought to expand to the Pacific Ocean at the expense of Mexico, acquiring by force of arms California and what were to become the southwestern states. In 1898 the U.S. picked up the pieces of a dying Spanish Empire in a war that was driven by American imperialists and the yellow dog reporting of the Hearst Newspaper chain. And then came World War 1, World War 2, and Korea, all avoidable and all enabled by deliberate lying coming out of Washington.

More recently, we have seen Vietnam with its Gulf of Tonkin fabrication, Granada and Panama with palpably ridiculous pretexts for war, Iraq with its nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, Afghanistan with its lies about bin Laden, Libya and its false claims about Gaddafi, and most recently Syria and Iran with allegations of an Iranian threat to the United States and lies about Syrian use of barrel bombs and chemical weapons. And if one adds in the warnings to Russia over Ukraine, a conflict generated by Washington when it brought about regime change in Kiev, you have a tissue of lies that span the globe and bring with them never-ending conflict to advance the American imperium.

So lies go with the American Way of War, but the latest twist and turns in the Middle East are bizarre even by Washington's admittedly low standards of rectitude. On the 5th of June, Saudi Arabia led a gaggle of Arab and Muslim nations that included the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain to cut off all diplomatic, commercial and transport links with Qatar, effectively blockading it. Qatar is currently isolated from its neighbors, subject to sanctions, and there have even been Saudi threats of going to war against its tiny neighbor. Salman al-Ansari, the president of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee, even tweeted: "To the emir of Qatar, regarding your alignment with the extremist government of Iran and your abuse of the Custodian of the two sacred mosques, I would like to remind you that Mohammed Morsi [of Egypt] did exactly the same and was then toppled and imprisoned."

It is the second time the Saudis have moved against Qatar. Two years ago, there was a break in diplomatic relations, but they were eventually restored. This time, the principal allegation being directed against Qatar by Riyadh is that it supports terrorism. The terrorist groups that it allegedly embraces are Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi's affiliation. Hezbollah and Hamas are close to Iran which is perhaps the real reason for their being singled out as many would call them resistance movements or even legitimate political parties rather than terrorists. And the Iran connection is critical as Qatar has been under fire for allegedly saying nice things about trying to respect and get along with Tehran, undoubtedly somewhat motivated by its joint exploitation with Iran of a vast gas field in the Persian Gulf.

Qatar's ownership of al-Jazeera also has been a sore point with the Saudis and other Gulf states as its reporting has often been critical of developments in the region, criticisms that have often rankled the Saudi monarchy and the Egyptians. It has been accused of spreading propaganda for "militant groups." One of the Saudi demands to permit Qatar to again become a "normal" Arab Gulf state would be to close down the network.

The terrorism claims by the Saudis are, of course, hypocritical. Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia are well known as sponsors of Salafist terrorism, including the funding and arming of groups like ISIS and the various al-Qaeda franchises, to include al-Nusra. Much of the money admittedly comes from private individuals and is often channeled through Islamic charities, but both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been extremely lax in their enforcement of anti-terror and money laundering regulations. In a 2009 State Department memo signed off on by Hillary Clinton it was stated that "donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide." Qatar, meanwhile, has been described as a "permissive environment for terrorist financing."

The Saudis also have considerable blood on their hands by way of their genocidal assault on neighboring Yemen. In addition, the Saudi Royal House has served as the principal propagator of Wahhabism, the virulently fundamentalist version of Islam that provides a form of religious legitimacy to terror while also motivating many young Muslims to join radical groups.

The falling out of two Gulf Arab regimes might be a matter of relatively little importance but for the unnecessary intervention of President Donald Trump in the quarrel. He has taken credit for the burgeoning conflict, implying that his recent visit to the region set the stage for the ostracizing of Qatar. His twitter on the affair, posted on June 6 th , read ""So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!" And he again came down on Qatar on June 9 th during a press conference.

Trump's tweets might well be regarded as simply maladroit, driven by ignorance, but they could also provide a glimpse of a broader agenda. While in the Middle East, Trump was bombarded with anti-Iranian propaganda coming from both Israel and the Saudis. An escalation of hostilities with the intention of starting an actual war involving the United States to take down Iran is not unimaginable, particularly as the Israelis, who have already endorsed the Saudi moves, have been arguing that option and lying about the threat posed by Tehran for a number of years.

[Jun 14, 2017] Secret societies, Emperor's New Clothes, obvious lies, crimes

Notable quotes:
"... The US is a literal rogue state empire led by neocolonial looting liars. ..."
"... Rogue state empire ..."
Jun 14, 2017 | www.washingtonsblog.com

The societies try to be "secret," but their lies and crimes are Emperor's New Clothes obvious for anyone caring to apply a high school level of education to look:

[Jun 14, 2017] In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

Jun 14, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

im1dc, June 14, 2017 at 08:59 AM

Timely Thought of the Day:

"In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

George Orwell

anne , June 14, 2017 at 11:49 AM
"In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

There is no reason to think that this passage, however interesting, was written or spoken by George Orwell.

Fred C. Dobbs - , June 14, 2017 at 12:21 PM
More on this:

In a Time of Universal Deceit - Telling
the Truth Is a Revolutionary Act

http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/02/24/truth-revolutionary/

im1dc - , June 14, 2017 at 02:27 PM
Hey, "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act" remains a great thought for today, whoever said it.
ilsm - , June 14, 2017 at 02:59 PM
orwell also did not actually say 'we should love those rough men in the night who slaughter for us so we can sleep in 68 degree air conditioning bc the Saudi remain in power........'

And GC Scott's Patton's speech was a compilation.......

im1dc - , June 14, 2017 at 02:26 PM
My copy of Barlett's does not list this Orwell quote and Fred's link pretty well dispells it from being definitively an Orwell quote, although not absolutely.

It is possible that he did SAY IT to some group or other in England, rather than write it in one of his books, essays, or articles and that is how it survives today with his attribution.

Such attribution is not unheard of for older English authors. Apparently they drank a lot in pubs and clubs.

Keep in mind that even today the English don't 100% agree that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare's plays or poems, at least not without help from another.

libezkova - , June 14, 2017 at 03:21 PM
A similar saying was used by Ron Paul in 2008-"Truth is treason in the empire of lies."

http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/in_a_time_of_universal_deceit_telling_the_truth_is_a_revolutionary_act/

== quote==
Entry from August 15, 2011

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act"


"In a time/state of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act" is a statement often attributed to author George Orwell (1903-1950). The saying doesn't appear in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1948), his essay "Politics and the English Language" (1946), or any other of Orwell's writings. The saying has been cited in print since at least 1984 (when it was attributed to George Orwell).

A similar saying was used by author and presidential candidate Ron Paul in 2008-"Truth is treason in the empire of lies."

[Jun 13, 2017] Donald has morphed. He is now part neocon and part Wall St. errand-boy.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Trump has been captured by the Deep State and the mainstream Zio-media. First, the implacable Left-Hollywood-Zionist axis unnerved, abused, and punked Trump out. Then they and their minions harassed and spooked him. Insurrection was in the air–ever as the President was being sworn into office! ..."
"... Has any newly-elected president has ever been treated so disdainfully and with such widespread contempt? It was very unsettling. Then Trump blinked. After that he caved. Now he is moving rapidly 'towards the center'. Unfortunately, this 'centrism' will require a Mideast war. The Donald has morphed. He is now part neocon and part Wall St. errand-boy. ..."
"... The hysteria over 'Russian interference' is a complete fabrication. This very accusation turns reality upside down. But it persists. What's going on? These illusions are pure Zionist subterfuge. Trump's now their boy. ..."
"... First up: Israel's foes. (Syria, Iran and Russia.) But who cares? Why should this matter? As Bibi Netanyahu observed: "America can be moved". And Bibi's quite right. Therefore, Trump's pro-Zionist militancy is being sold as something else ('war on terror') even though it is being championed by the usual Zionist cheerleaders in media and in government. Pro-Zionist alliances however radiate in odd directions. This explains Washington's (and our news media's) rising love affair with the House of Saud. Note that the Saudi Royals 1) have totally accepted Israel, 2) have absolutely nothing negative to say (or do) regarding Israel's subjugation of Palestine, 3) are hostile to Iran (like Israel), and 4) are willing also to accept the Kingdoms's second-tier military status vis-a-vis Israel. ..."
"... For these reasons, the authoritarian, undemocratic, and terror-funding Royal Saudi family is totally 'in sync' with Zio-Washington. The Saudis are even safe from any potential US-Israeli destabilization campaign. (At least for now.) ..."
"... In any case, US aid will flow immensely, unconditionally and without interruption to glorious 'democratic' Israel. ..."
Jun 13, 2017 | www.unz.com

Mark Green, June 13, 2017 at 9:49 am GMT

Trump has been captured by the Deep State and the mainstream Zio-media. First, the implacable Left-Hollywood-Zionist axis unnerved, abused, and punked Trump out. Then they and their minions harassed and spooked him. Insurrection was in the air–ever as the President was being sworn into office!

Has any newly-elected president has ever been treated so disdainfully and with such widespread contempt? It was very unsettling. Then Trump blinked. After that he caved. Now he is moving rapidly 'towards the center'. Unfortunately, this 'centrism' will require a Mideast war. The Donald has morphed. He is now part neocon and part Wall St. errand-boy.

Trump–who campaigned on a populist, pro-American, non-interventionist platform–has his new, improved sights set on toppling/destabilizing Iran, Syria and Lebanon. Haven't we seen this song and dance before?

Yes we have, despite the fact that these distant, non-nuclear states do not threaten US interests and do not threaten US security in any way, shape, or form.

Huge lies have become 'facts'.

Russia's alleged influence in our presidential election, for instance, is not even a fraction of what Israel can impose almost effortlessly.

The hysteria over 'Russian interference' is a complete fabrication. This very accusation turns reality upside down. But it persists. What's going on? These illusions are pure Zionist subterfuge. Trump's now their boy.

The wall with Mexico will just have to wait; as will Trump's infrastructure build. Gotta take out Assad first! After all, Syria shares a disputed border with Israel. That's important!

First up: Israel's foes. (Syria, Iran and Russia.) But who cares? Why should this matter? As Bibi Netanyahu observed: "America can be moved". And Bibi's quite right. Therefore, Trump's pro-Zionist militancy is being sold as something else ('war on terror') even though it is being championed by the usual Zionist cheerleaders in media and in government. Pro-Zionist alliances however radiate in odd directions. This explains Washington's (and our news media's) rising love affair with the House of Saud. Note that the Saudi Royals 1) have totally accepted Israel, 2) have absolutely nothing negative to say (or do) regarding Israel's subjugation of Palestine, 3) are hostile to Iran (like Israel), and 4) are willing also to accept the Kingdoms's second-tier military status vis-a-vis Israel.

For these reasons, the authoritarian, undemocratic, and terror-funding Royal Saudi family is totally 'in sync' with Zio-Washington. The Saudis are even safe from any potential US-Israeli destabilization campaign. (At least for now.)

But alliances can change rapidly, especially when anti-Zionist regimes rise and persist. Then they get targeted. (See: 'Saddam's Iraq'. See: 'Gadaffi's Libya'.) Up next: Syria, Lebanon and Iran.

In any case, US aid will flow immensely, unconditionally and without interruption to glorious 'democratic' Israel.

BTW- while it's widely known (and continuously recalled) that Hearst and his newspapers promoted the Spanish-American war (as Mr. Giraldi notes above) what's been mostly forgotten is that Hearst and his newspapers largely opposed Washington's entry into both WWI and WWII. 'Citizen Kane' and the endless array of Hearst-bashing references ignore this neglected yet significant fact. In fact, it was none other than Joseph Pulitzer (for whom the pretentious and politicized journalistic prizes are named) whose newspapers helped spearhead the international campaign for America's unnecessary and tragic entry into WWI.

Pulitzer was as influential as Hearst – and every bit as sensational. But Pulitzer was both anti-German and very pro-US-intervention in Europe. Unlike Hearst, Pulitzer demonized Imperial Germany long before the Great War began and it was Pulitzer – not Hearst–who helped sanitize America's pre-war efforts (before WWII) to aid the British and violate laws that sought to preserve US neutrality.

Like Hearst, Pulitzer was an artful media demagogue; but it was Pulitzer – not Hearst – who used his skills and power to steer America into the two greatest political conflicts ever seen. Joseph Pulitzer was also Jewish.

[Jun 13, 2017] June 13, 2017 at 4:32 am GMT

Notable quotes:
"... So watch the lies if you want to know when the next war is coming. If the House of Saud, the Israelis and Donald Trump are talking trash and seem to agree about something then it is time to head for the bomb shelter. Will it be Iran or an escalating catastrophe in Syria? Anything is possible. ..."
"... Looks like the Saudis have pretty much bought us off with their ridiculously large arms purchases and other ways of sending their billions our way. Money talks. The other stuff is just window dressing. We're their hired help and security guard. ..."
Jun 13, 2017 | www.unz.com
truthtellerAryan Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 6:07 am GMT

Hi PG, could our commander-in-chief have had ulterior reasons to cook up the ostracizing of Qatar?

https://www.google.com/amp/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_593d6691e4b0c5a35ca06118/amp

Mind you, we have these obese brainless stooges who would dance to any tune as long as they're assured they'll still be in power comes tomorrow. Now the assurance has also been approved by the masters, DJT is in deeply with the Ziocons . When our masters accomplish this mission, than we'll again be led to the next one. The Ayrabs don't seem to get it yet. They'll all end up in the Zionists slaughterhouse
It seems Gen. Clark was right, just a little diversion here.
What will become of the average Goy?

exiled off mainstreet Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 6:08 am GMT

Let me commend Mr. Giraldi for another excellent contribution. The Saudi regime is the chief enemy of civilization and those backing it are tarred with the same brush. It is disappointing to see Trump taken in by the deep state love of the Saudi barbarians.

Miro23 Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 6:37 am GMT

So watch the lies if you want to know when the next war is coming. If the House of Saud, the Israelis and Donald Trump are talking trash and seem to agree about something then it is time to head for the bomb shelter. Will it be Iran or an escalating catastrophe in Syria? Anything is possible.

A fine article, and the answer to all this surely lies with the US. If Trump had pulled out of Middle East conflicts (as he was elected to do), all this talk would be much less dangerous. Israel and Saudi Arabia aren't going to attack Iran on their own.

Fran Macadam Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 8:29 am GMT

It's The Art of the War Deal.

LondonBob Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 10:44 am GMT

The Israeli and Saudi lobbies, and associated actors, seem to have had some success. I still don't see it going much further, Trump instinctively doesn't want another Iraq on his watch whatever the likes of Mattis etc. wish to engineer.

jacques sheete Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 10:51 am GMT

@Mark Green

what's been mostly forgotten is that Hearst and his newspapers largely opposed Washington's entry into both WWI and WWII. ' Citizen Kane' and the endless array of Hearst-bashing references ignore this neglected yet significant fact.

Very, very true, and funny how that works. In the same way Charles Lindbergh, because of his opposition to entering WW2, has been egregiously smeared as an "anti-Semite" and the charge still sticks to this day.

Thanks for pointing that out, and informing us about Poo-litzer.

RealAmerican Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 10:51 am GMT

@anon An anonymous dim-witted nincompoop attacking the honorable and brave Mr. Giraldi for speaking the truth. The definition of cowardice, I bet.

AmericaFirstNow Website Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 11:11 am GMT

All in accord with the rest of the Israeli Likudnik Oded Yinon neocon plan vs Iran which Netanyahu's Israel AIPAC agent Kushner has duped the Saudis into supporting as well because of their Sunni vs Shia hatred of Iran:

http://america-hijacked.com/2014/07/13/the-unfolding-of-yinons-zionist-plan-for-the-middle-east-the-crisis-in-iraq-and-the-centrality-of-the-national-interest-of-israel/

Netanyahu's Israel 1st AIPAC agent Kushner has Trump pushing Israel Lobby agenda vs Syria as well:

http://america-hijacked.com/2012/02/12/israel-lobby-pushes-for-us-action-against-the-syrian-government/

No surprise when pandering Hillary Clinton pushed Syrian regime change for Israel's sake as well:

http://america-hijacked.com/2016/03/22/clinton-email-shows-us-sought-syria-regime-change-for-israels-sake/

So ISIS attacks Europe and US because of Israel:

So no surprise when Netanyahu said US is easily manipulated at following URL:

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2010/07/18/netanyahu-us-easily-manipulated

George Washington must be rolling in his grave for pandering US politicians who ignore his Farewell Address warning at following URL:

http://astandforjustice.org/#washington

Anonymous Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 11:20 am GMT

@exiled off mainstreet

Let me commend Mr. Giraldi for another excellent contribution. The Saudi regime is the chief enemy of civilization and those backing it are tarred with the same brush. It is disappointing to see Trump taken in by the deep state love of the Saudi barbarians. "The Saudi regime is the chief enemy of civilization "

Looks like you have a problem with reading comprehension. Read the first two paragraphs again, and then review who is indeed the Chief enemy of civilisation.

AmericaFirstNow Website Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 11:21 am GMT

@AmericaFirstNow All in accord with the rest of the Israeli Likudnik Oded Yinon neocon plan vs Iran which Netanyahu's Israel AIPAC agent Kushner has duped the Saudis into supporting as well because of their Sunni vs Shia hatred of Iran:

http://america-hijacked.com/2014/07/13/the-unfolding-of-yinons-zionist-plan-for-the-middle-east-the-crisis-in-iraq-and-the-centrality-of-the-national-interest-of-israel/

Netanyahu's Israel 1st AIPAC agent Kushner has Trump pushing Israel Lobby agenda vs Syria as well:

http://america-hijacked.com/2012/02/12/israel-lobby-pushes-for-us-action-against-the-syrian-government/

No surprise when pandering Hillary Clinton pushed Syrian regime change for Israel's sake as well:

http://america-hijacked.com/2016/03/22/clinton-email-shows-us-sought-syria-regime-change-for-israels-sake/

So ISIS attacks Europe and US because of Israel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48_ZeiK5gqU

CIA's Mike Scheuer on ISIS:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHwp7uwK6bc

CIA's Mike Scheuer on terrorism motivation ignored by US media:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95ncn5Q16N4&list=PL3C32560738EF3C30&feature=plpp

Petraeus & CENTCOM warned of Israel threat as well:

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/mehdi-hasan/2010/07/general-petraeus-israel-emails


Israel as terrorism motivation for San Bernardino ignored by US media as well:

http://mondoweiss.net/2015/12/reported-politely-ignores/

Paul Findley: The High Cost of Subservience to Israel:

http://cosmos.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/articles/article0064805.html

See Dutch AIPAC documentary via following Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N294FMDok98

So no surprise when Netanyahu said US is easily manipulated at following URL:

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2010/07/18/netanyahu-us-easily-manipulated

George Washington must be rolling in his grave for pandering US politicians who ignore his Farewell Address warning at following URL:

http://astandforjustice.org/#washington

Just noticed that the youtube for Michael Scheuer's CNN interview with Smerconish about ISIS didn't go through in prior post! Following one should:
War for Blair Mountain Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 11:21 am GMT

@anon

Iran poses no threat to the Native Born White American Working Class.

Your allegiance is to Greater Israel

Phil and I have 0 allegiance to Israel Donald Trump's allegiance is to Greater Israel and this makes Donald Trump a GOD DAM TRAITOR!!! ...

dearieme Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 11:26 am GMT

"The United States has been using lies to go to war since 1846″: 1812.

ANON Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 11:30 am GMT

@Mark Green Well I have to thank you for prompting me to read up on Joseph Pulitzer"s remarkable career but I can't commend your attention to detail or recommend you as a source of accurate information to others.

There is a slight problem about your blaming him for being (before WW1) "pro US intervention in Europe" having "demonized Imperial Germany" and then that he "helped sanitize American efforts (pre WW2) to help the British". *He died in 1911* .

Interesting to compare Pulitzer's great career with that of another Central European Jew who immigrated with no English but built a popular newspaper empire. Both served in the armed forces of their adopted country. The other is that appalling rogue Robert Maxwell.

AmericaFirstNow Website Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 11:32 am GMT

See following article from Jewish Forward publication on how Netanyahu's Israel 1st AIPAC agent Kushner (who arranged Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel) has brought other Jewish AIPAC Israel 1sters into the White House:

http://forward.com/news/breaking-news/359120/jared-kushners-friend-picked-by-donald-trump-as-assistant/

NoseytheDuke Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 11:34 am GMT

@Wizard of Oz Idiot! The lie that OBL was involved in any way in 9/11 for just one. The lie that he was killed in the Delta 6 raid in Pakistan is another.

jacques sheete Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 11:38 am GMT

Speaking of lies, war and the media, let us not forget the blatant lying about Stalin's crimes by Walter Duranty published in the New York Times for which the scumbag was awarded a prize by Pulitzer, another Red Millionaire.

It took the Times around half a century to begin to publicly admit to its callous malfeasance, yet apparently..

The Pulitzer board has twice declined to withdraw the award, most recently in November 2003, finding "no clear and convincing evidence of deliberate deception" in the 1931 reporting that won the prize (see Pulitzer Board statement), and The Times does not have the award in its possession.

- New York Times Statement About 1932 Pulitzer Prize Awarded to Walter Duranty

http://www.nytco.com/new-york-times-statement-about-1932-pulitzer-prize-awarded-to-walter-duranty/

Also note that in the statement, they deceitfully attempt to shift the responsibility for dirtball reporting on the effects of Soviet censorship, which though real, is no excuse for their mendacity.

anonymous Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 12:28 pm GMT

Looks like the Saudis have pretty much bought us off with their ridiculously large arms purchases and other ways of sending their billions our way. Money talks. The other stuff is just window dressing. We're their hired help and security guard.

War for Blair Mountain Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 12:52 pm GMT

Phil

Seriously 1846 is not relevant .and anyone who thinks it is in the context of opposing the ongoing war against Christian Russia and Shia Muslim Iran is not really a serious anti-war critic ..You need to deal with the fact that many of us here on Unz Review do not suffer from even a speck of White Guilt .even Old Noam Chomsky likes his precious Israel Jew only .which is the reason why Noam and Norman Finklestien are opposed to the right of return for Palestinians

So be a good phenomenologist and remember that context is everything

Philip Giraldi Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 12:59 pm GMT

@MSB Done! Thanks for catching it!

Agent76 Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 12:59 pm GMT

Jun 6, 2017 America's Reign of Terror: A Nation Reaps What It Sows

The U.S. government is creating the terror. It is, in fact, the source of the terror. Just think about it for a minute: almost every tyranny being perpetrated against the citizenry-purportedly to keep us safe and the nation secure-has come about as a result of some threat manufactured in one way or another by the U.S. government.

War for Blair Mountain Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 1:23 pm GMT

Phil

I can tell you from first hand personal family reasons that the filthy cockroach Donald Trump has very big plans to slaughter the Working Class Native Born White Christian American Male Teenager Population by using them as canon fodder for Greater Israel in a war with Shia Muslim Iran. This is Donald Trump's MAGA JOBS PROGRAM .post-Gruman Corp MAGA rally a year ago

Trump is as much of a filthy repellent cockroach as Hillary and Bill Clinton.

It looks like Trump's red hat MAGA HAT WEARING CHICKENHAWK WARHAWK JOCKSNIFFING White Male Voting Bloc Cucks and they are most definitely CUCKS who deserve to have the shit beat out of them .have given Trump a blank check to 1)bomb Hezzbollah in Syria and 2)bomb Shia Muslim Iran for Greater Israel

Donald Trump+Hillary Clinton=a "cute" post-nuclear WW3 cockroach breeding pair .a 13 billion year COCKROACH RIECH!!!

Wizard of Oz Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 1:31 pm GMT

@NoseytheDuke I never doubted that you think that but PG is a comparatively serious person and I wondered what he would say, choosing his words as carefully as he quite often seems to. Come to think of it I think he's been caught out being a bit careless on some of his other details this time.

And what's your version of sbat happened at Abbotabad and why?

nsa Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 1:41 pm GMT

The jooies and their kept eunuchs in wash dc are complaining their precious US (((holocaust))) museum is only being funded with 54 million in American taxpayer funds. This underfunding is very serious as they will have to close the lampshade wing and the soap bar exhibition. Contact your congressional whore immediately and complain ..

anon Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 1:53 pm GMT

@War for Blair Mountain Hey Happy Guy ,
Whats the problem. Giraldi is always whining about America and praising Iran. Why should he stay here . If he likes Iran so much he should move there . Do you think Giraldi should disclose if he has received money from any Iranian entity ??

Wizard of Oz Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 2:08 pm GMT

@NoseytheDuke Presumably you think ObL died much earlier than the Navy Seals raid. But why would Obama go along with the charade? No doubt you would say he was looking for political advantage domestically – to which of course I answer that he wouldn't be so dumb as to believe that no one would blow the whistle.

Let's move on to whete you say the extremely long and detailed account of ObL's death in Wikipedia is wrong and say why. In particular, how come Al Qaeda and other Muslim organisations announced his death and threatened revenge?

War for Blair Mountain Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 2:18 pm GMT

@anon Well now first of all, .I want to greet you with a great big FUCK OFF!!! .Dearest Ivanka

The target of Phil's venom are the Jewish Neocons .and non-Jewish Neocons:The homo- cannibal General Mattis .Hannibal Lectre look-a-like General McMaster in-a-flava-bean-salad with the homo General Mattis .and the filthy cockroach breeding pair Donald Trump and his cockroach husband Hillary Clinton .and the SATANIST!!! that own and run the Military Industrial Complex ..the treasonous SATANIC NON-AMERICAN-ANTI-AMERICAN CABAL spawned in Satan's personal toilet bowl in rancid rotting corpse strewn HELL!!

Z-man Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 2:26 pm GMT

@Mark Green True, thank you and depressing, but hope springs eternal and I'm hoping Trump still has some independent thought and some patriotism and patriots behind him!

Chris Mallory Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 2:28 pm GMT

@jacques sheete

Mexico had more right to Tejas than the Zionist gangsters have to Palestine.

Neither group has any claim to the land. Mexico invited the Americans into Texas, primarily because Mexico could not deal with the Comanche who lived in Texas and raided both Texas and Mexico. Mexico then lost the war against the Texans and lost all claim to Texas.

Much of the SW, though claimed by Mexico was controlled by either the Comanche or the Apache.

Those tribes might have a claim, but Mexico has none.

David Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 2:34 pm GMT

@Lot You're displaying poor moral character to call the author America-hating.

Z-man Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 2:37 pm GMT

@AmericaFirstNow Unfortunately Mr. Scheuer hasn't been on TV much lately.

Z-man Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 2:42 pm GMT

@AmericaFirstNow See following article from Jewish Forward publication on how Netanyahu's Israel 1st AIPAC agent Kushner (who arranged Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel) has brought other Jewish AIPAC Israel 1sters into the White House:

http://forward.com/news/breaking-news/359120/jared-kushners-friend-picked-by-donald-trump-as-assistant/ The infestations continue.

Z-man Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 2:48 pm GMT

@anonymous

Looks like the Saudis have pretty much bought us off with their ridiculously large arms purchases and other ways of sending their billions our way. Money talks. The other stuff is just window dressing. We're their hired help and security guard.

Ah but there's the rub, and a good one, as the die hard Zionists in the US Congress, isn't that redundant, are already complaining about the deal. http://www.defensenews.com/articles/us-senate-democrats-rallying-votes-against-saudi-arms-sale
Hopefully the rats will kill themselves!

Theres also this from 'Up Chuck' Schumer;

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/schumer-to-oppose-smart-bomb-sale-to-saudi-arabia

Mark Green Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 2:54 pm GMT

@ANON Joseph Pulitzer II ran the St. Louis Post Dispatch and NY World after his father's death. He was a staunch supporter of FDR.

MarkinLA Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 2:56 pm GMT

@jacques sheete Mexico lost Texas because Santa Anna made himself a dictator and caused revolts all around Mexico. The Texans just happened to win. Mexico was trying to raise an army to retake it when the US annexed Texas.

Mexico made the stupid mistakes. Mexico knew the US wanted Texas and California. Mexico had rejected offers to buy them. Mexico should have done everything it could to avoid giving the US a chance to grab them.

Dutch Boy Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 3:36 pm GMT

@Lot Quite correct. Polk wanted to buy the eventual Mexican Cession, not conquer it.

Santoculto Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 3:44 pm GMT

@anon Jewnonymous

Realist Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 4:36 pm GMT

"In a 2009 State Department memo signed off on by Hillary Clinton it was stated that "donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.""

Why the hell would use anything Clinton said or did to advocate a position?

jacques sheete Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 4:47 pm GMT

@Chris Mallory You are correct that the Mexicans invited Americans into Texas, (talk about the negative effects of encouraging immigration), and Mexico may never have had much claim to the land, but they still have a more legitimate claim than the Zionist gangsters have on Palestine.

In fact, if there were no oil in the region, I suspect the Zionists would all move to NYC!

Rurik Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 4:53 pm GMT

@Mark Green

Note that the Saudi Royals 1) have totally accepted Israel, 2) have absolutely nothing negative to say (or do) regarding Israel's subjugation of Palestine, 3) are hostile to Iran (like Israel), and 4) are willing also to accept the Kingdoms's second-tier military status vis-a-vis Israel.

For these reasons, the authoritarian, undemocratic, and terror-funding Royal Saudi family is totally 'in sync' with Zio-Washington. The Saudis are even safe from any potential US-Israeli destabilization campaign. (At least for now.)

to understand the Saudi leadership, you need only see how they got along with Iran during the reign of the Shah; a Zio/Anglo quisling installed after the CIA putsch that removed the legitimate, democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Iranian_coup_d%27état

Under the quisling puppet Shah, Iran was terrorized by a CIA/Mossad run organization notorious for its torture methods.

Time magazine described SAVAK as having "long been Iran's most hated and feared institution" which had "tortured and murdered thousands of the Shah's opponents."[24] The Federation of American Scientists also found it guilty of "the torture and execution of thousands of political prisoners" and symbolizing "the Shah's rule from 1963–79." The FAS list of SAVAK torture methods included "electric shock, whipping, beating, inserting broken glass and pouring boiling water into the rectum, tying weights to the testicles, and the extraction of teeth and nails."[25]

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

it was during this reign of Zionist and Anglo terror that the corrupt House of Saud got along wonderfully with the Shah's Zio-Iran. Here you see the king of Saudi Arabia dancing for the amusement of the treacherous little Shah:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYIft-_FcYQ

- who exhorted the rulers of Saudi Arabia to embrace the cultural and spiritual sewage of the Zio-West thus:

"Please, my brother, modernize. Open up your country. Make the schools mixed women and men. Let women wear miniskirts. Have discos. Be modern. Otherwise I cannot guarantee you will stay on your throne."[15]

as long as Iran was under the thrall of the Fiend, the Saudi were their bestest buddies ever. They were also bestest buddies with Israel and England and the ZUSA.

so much treachery and evil and oppression and murder and torture.. it makes the head spin.

anyways, what do you expect from a fiend, I guess

so today the Saudis are still under the thrall of the same Fiend, but Iran is not. Hence Saudi Arabia assassinates Shia clerics it doesn't like, and Iran gets blamed for human rights violations.

The lies and mendacity and treachery are nearly beyond comprehension. The Saudis toss their fellow Arabs in Palestine under the Zionist bus, and fund and foment ISIS to crucify Christians and burn men alive. The stark divisions between good and evil (if there are such concepts) could hardly be more glaring.

and yet the Zio-fiend has Trump making nice with the murderous, terrorist-funding Saudis, while saber rattling at the peaceful and civilized Iran.

great article yet again Mr. Giraldi !

jacques sheete Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 5:11 pm GMT

@MarkinLA Yeah, I know all about it. At one time I was a great admirer of the Texians, and the constitution of the Texas Republic, and used to love to visit the Alamo before it was done over. Anyway my main point was not about Mexico or Texas.

BTW, as you probably know, Davey Crockett was one of the original "Love it or Leave It" dudes and left the US in disgust (in 1836) with craven, dishonest, politicians after his stints in government including Congress and headed for Texas telling the story that if not re-elected, his constituents could go to Hell, and [he] would go to Texas.

Rotten politicians are an original and permanent feature of American political life, it seems.

Z-man Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 5:41 pm GMT

@War for Blair Mountain

The homo- cannibal General Mattis .

LOL!!!

Sam McGowan Website Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 5:43 pm GMT

I've been to Iran and anyone who thinks a war there would be easy has rocks in their head.

Jake Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 6:09 pm GMT

I believe Qatar has the highest per capita income (for its citizens) in the world. That can never sit well with the House of Saud.

The British Empire made the House of Saud what it is, and the American successors of the Brits intend to keep the con game going. Wise and decent US leadership would recognize the Saudis as the worst of the Middle East and act accordingly. But the English all but created them, and we follow the English lead. And ow that the Israelis dearly love the Saudis, we can expect to see US-Israeli-Saudi mischief all over the region.

iveritas Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 6:13 pm GMT

PG is a true and a great patriot. those who have the chutzpa to tell PG, "move to Iran", my message to you is, move to Saudi Arabia or to Israel. But then again, most likely you're already there.

On the plus side, the personal attacks on PG are great. It means he must be doing something right.

Not to mention, when comments take the form of personal attacks instead of arguing the principle tenants of the article, it means the other side doesn't have a defensible point of view. Which only means PG's assertions are correct and indisputable.

I see some red-blooded Americans arguing about Texas, not being in Mexico. These people are forgetting the best form of patriotism is true understanding of our history as a nation. Ignorance and waiving a flag alone is not patriotism. Patriotism is defending the foundation and principles of our nation. Mainly, our constitution. Texas or the number of stars on our flag, etc. does not make America. America for me is the principles our founding father put forth. Which was formulated in a document far advanced for its time (even for today) in the form of our constitution.

Anything outside of the framework of our nation, I consider false or anger-patriotism. There is a reason why media has played a role in shaping the wars of choice mentioned in this article. Because faced with true facts against the framework of our constitution, those wars are not in the best interests of the public or the country.

Thank you, PG!

Moi Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 6:13 pm GMT

It would be great to have Mr. Giraldi write an article about the Mother of all Terrorism.

edNels Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 6:17 pm GMT

@War for Blair Mountain Now that's something. 13 billion years of COCKROACH REICK PESTILENCE!

Who or what is underlying the common denominator that makes it compelling to work so hard to bring about the ideal conditions for the Cockroach infestation that will grow after the Nuclear conflagration that is the fruit of Heimy science? (Poison/long half-lives.)

Or, what is the correlation in DNA of the Cockroach and some humanoids? Ever think of that?

God (as he may be understood,) or not, has infinity to work it out, and one lead that should be gone into could be where (from a concept called "Morphic Resonance" which posits that within DNA code there is much dormant potentiality, that also can be shown to tie together various diverse life forms.

INO's, some of the humans are in effect analogous to David Icke's ideas about lizards, or like the Bodysnatchers concept of long ago SF movies, (the one with Kevin McCarthy in BW was good).

The proclivities of, or the fruits of, the Drift The point aimed at by some people!

They seem to want to reset Earth to another beginning. A CockRoach Reich!

Thanks for the idea!

Quartermaster Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 6:30 pm GMT

The Orange Revolution was the work of Soros. Maidan, however, belongs to the Ukrainians themselves. They had no desire to be sold out to Putin by Yanukovich.

Mark Green Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 6:36 pm GMT

@iveritas Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Here is an outstanding essay that distinguishes between patriotism and nationalism. The author is none other than Joe Sobran.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/06/joseph-sobran/patriotism-or-nationalism/

jacques sheete Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 6:40 pm GMT

@Sam McGowan I don't think a shooting war on Iran is imminent; it's enough to yap about imagined threats to keep people glued to the media and thinking we need the protection of crazies. No threat, less "need" for politicians and the military.

The more threats, the more dollars for the nut jobs amongst us.

Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken, In Defense of Women (1918)

Scott Peterson at the Christian Science Monitor produced a timeline for dire Israeli and US predictions of an imminent Iranian nuclear weapon, beginning ~38 years ago.

A timeline of warnings since 1979. Breathless warnings that the Islamic Republic will soon be at the brink of nuclear capability have been made for decades. Here is a chronicle of predictions.

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2011/1108/Imminent-Iran-nuclear-threat-A-timeline-of-warnings-since-1979/Israel-s-one-year-timeframe-disproved-2010-11

jacques sheete Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 6:52 pm GMT

@iveritas PG is a true and a great patriot. those who have the chutzpa to tell PG, "move to Iran", my message to you is, move to Saudi Arabia or to Israel. But then again, most likely you're already there.

On the plus side, the personal attacks on PG are great. It means he must be doing something right.

Not to mention, when comments take the form of personal attacks instead of arguing the principle tenants of the article, it means the other side doesn't have a defensible point of view. Which only means PG's assertions are correct and indisputable.

I see some red-blooded Americans arguing about Texas, not being in Mexico. These people are forgetting the best form of patriotism is true understanding of our history as a nation. Ignorance and waiving a flag alone is not patriotism. Patriotism is defending the foundation and principles of our nation. Mainly, our constitution. Texas or the number of stars on our flag, etc. does not make America. America for me is the principles our founding father put forth. Which was formulated in a document far advanced for its time (even for today) in the form of our constitution.

Anything outside of the framework of our nation, I consider false or anger-patriotism. There is a reason why media has played a role in shaping the wars of choice mentioned in this article. Because faced with true facts against the framework of our constitution, those wars are not in the best interests of the public or the country.

Thank you, PG!

Patriotism is defending the foundation and principles of our nation. Mainly, our constitution.

You sound like a highly respectable sort, and I agree with a lot of your comment, but you may want to reconsider your ideas about that document. I consider it a huge link in the chain around our necks. As for the "founding fathers," they were of opposing minds and the anti-federalists had good reasons for arguing against the imposition of the constitution. They were mostly correct.

In fact, Patrick Henry refused to attend the Constitutional Convention saying, "I smell a rat." He could have been totally anosmic and still would have been able to smell one, or more likely, quite a few.

The document stinks, and here's why*.:

The Constitution looked fairly good on paper, but it was not a popular document; people were suspicious of it, and suspicious of the enabling legislation that was being erected upon it. There was some ground for this. The Constitution had been laid down under unacceptable auspices; its history had been that of a coup d'état.

It had been drafted, in the first place, by men representing special economic interests. Four-fifths of them were public creditors, one-third were land speculators, and one-fifth represented interests in shipping, manufacturing, and merchandising. Most of them were lawyers. Not one of them represented the interest of production - Vilescit origine tali. (the dice were loaded from the start)

Albert Jay Nock, Liberty vs. the Constitution: The Early Struggle
[Excerpted from chapter 5 of Albert Jay Nock's Jefferson]

https://mises.org/library/liberty-vs-constitution-early-struggle

*My apologies to those who've seen this numerous times before, but it's a critical message and obviously must be presented to each individual as (s)he steps forward. Thanks in advance for your patience as well as your indulgence!

truthtellerAryan Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 6:55 pm GMT

@anon Why doesn't Giraldi move to Iran ?
Thats where his concerns and allegiance are. And maybe the source of his finances also ?

I bet they would love a chubby bear like him. Why don't you crawl back to the ghetto that you belong?
Why, after over two millennia of living in peace and prosperity in the land of Iran, the loudest voices for going to destroy Iran is coming from Joooies Iranians who have left Iran after the revolution? If they can't pinch a penny from you, you become their enemy. Has their lived such a treacherous bunch?
It's greedy Zionists like you that end up putting the whole tribe in trouble

chris Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 7:01 pm GMT

@Lot

There is nothing "genocidal" about the Saudis supporting the elected government of Yemen against Iran-funded rebels

The "elected government of Yemen," of course, featured exactly ONE candidate who won with a 100% of the vote, supported by Hillary Clinton, in 2012!

And if the elected "leader" of Yemen fled to the KSA why is he any more legitimate than the president of Ukraine who was overthrown by a US-funded revolution and fled to Russia?

chris Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 7:09 pm GMT

@War for Blair Mountain

You can always pack up and go live in Mexico.

Why bother, if they're all coming here anyway?

JoaoAlfaiate Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 7:48 pm GMT

@jacques sheete One of the few good reasons to support Israel.

anon Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 7:54 pm GMT

@Wizard of Oz https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/10/did-george-w-bush-do-all-he-could-to-prevent-911/411175/-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz obj ected that "I just don't understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man, bin Laden." Clarke responded that, "We are talking about a network of terrorist organizations called al-Qaeda, that happens to be led by bin Laden, and we are talking about that network because it and it alone poses an immediate and serious threat to the United States." To which Wolfowitz replied, "Well, there are others that do as well, at least as much. Iraqi terrorism for example."

and more "cording to Eichenwald's sources, "the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat."

--

That was the lie about Laden That was the lie

RobinG Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 8:20 pm GMT

@jacques sheete Question: How does Mr. Nock define production?

He wrote, "Not one of them represented the interest of production- " but he had just listed manufacturing as one of the represented interests. Also, in those days, did shipping include ship-building? If not, it was certainly a closely related enterprise. Anyway, you see my point. Nock made an absolute statement, but he himself contradicted it.

Certainly the scales were weighted, but so much of the argument here is just railing against human nature. Are some people more ambitious or enterprising than others? (Let alone those who are more evil and unscrupulous.)
Some people are very intelligently curious, but it seems rare that the scientist who makes [often labors over for years] a discovery is the one who profits from it. Not fair perhaps, but the way of business, the way of the world.

You don't like the Constitution or the Founders? They were the ones who stepped up to take responsibility (and to press their own interests, if you will). It's hard to please everybody. So much harder now that there are so many of us. Just look at how much disagreement there is here in these comments. Can you imagine if there were another revolution, and afterwards a new convention. Do you think they'd crowdsource the new Constitution on the web? Let the computer decide? Who would program the machines?

Terrorism Supporters in Washington and Riyadh Close Ranks Against Qatar-Times of News Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 8:55 pm GMT

[ ] Source: The Unz Review [ ]

truthtellerAryan Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 9:06 pm GMT

@Mark Green Hi Mark Green, well observed. The Arabs are so blinded by money, so lost in Zionist tricks, are tripping in their own stupidity. One of the largest ethnic-religious groups in the world, wealthy, but as dumb as a door nail, as Edward Said once said "they are a sorry lot ", haven't yet grasped how they're accommodating their own demise. Ironically, they're are paying for all expenses that will finish them, at least send them to dark ages.
They don't see how they're being played by their half-brothers . I guess treachery is in the blood ..

Agent76 Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 9:12 pm GMT

Mar 25, 2016 WAR IS A LIE – David Swanson in Asheville March 25, 2016

https://youtu.be/5GVjKUXcHIc

Sam Shama Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 9:17 pm GMT

@RobinG Question: How does Mr. Nock define production?

He wrote, "Not one of them represented the interest of production- " but he had just listed manufacturing as one of the represented interests. Also, in those days, did shipping include ship-building? If not, it was certainly a closely related enterprise. Anyway, you see my point. Nock made an absolute statement, but he himself contradicted it.

Certainly the scales were weighted, but so much of the argument here is just railing against human nature. Are some people more ambitious or enterprising than others? (Let alone those who are more evil and unscrupulous.)
Some people are very intelligently curious, but it seems rare that the scientist who makes [often labors over for years] a discovery is the one who profits from it. Not fair perhaps, but the way of business, the way of the world.

You don't like the Constitution or the Founders? They were the ones who stepped up to take responsibility (and to press their own interests, if you will). It's hard to please everybody. So much harder now that there are so many of us. Just look at how much disagreement there is here in these comments. Can you imagine if there were another revolution, and afterwards a new convention. Do you think they'd crowdsource the new Constitution on the web? Let the computer decide? Who would program the machines? Very good comment, Robin.

Best,
- One of the Unscrupulous

anon Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 9:26 pm GMT

@Rurik


Note that the Saudi Royals 1) have totally accepted Israel, 2) have absolutely nothing negative to say (or do) regarding Israel's subjugation of Palestine, 3) are hostile to Iran (like Israel), and 4) are willing also to accept the Kingdoms's second-tier military status vis-a-vis Israel.

For these reasons, the authoritarian, undemocratic, and terror-funding Royal Saudi family is totally 'in sync' with Zio-Washington. The Saudis are even safe from any potential US-Israeli destabilization campaign. (At least for now.)

to understand the Saudi leadership, you need only see how they got along with Iran during the reign of the Shah; a Zio/Anglo quisling installed after the CIA putsch that removed the legitimate, democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Iranian_coup_d%27état

Under the quisling puppet Shah, Iran was terrorized by a CIA/Mossad run organization notorious for its torture methods.

Time magazine described SAVAK as having "long been Iran's most hated and feared institution" which had "tortured and murdered thousands of the Shah's opponents."[24] The Federation of American Scientists also found it guilty of "the torture and execution of thousands of political prisoners" and symbolizing "the Shah's rule from 1963–79." The FAS list of SAVAK torture methods included "electric shock, whipping, beating, inserting broken glass and pouring boiling water into the rectum, tying weights to the testicles, and the extraction of teeth and nails."[25]

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

it was during this reign of Zionist and Anglo terror that the corrupt House of Saud got along wonderfully with the Shah's Zio-Iran. Here you see the king of Saudi Arabia dancing for the amusement of the treacherous little Shah:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYIft-_FcYQ

- who exhorted the rulers of Saudi Arabia to embrace the cultural and spiritual sewage of the Zio-West thus:

"Please, my brother, modernize. Open up your country. Make the schools mixed women and men. Let women wear miniskirts. Have discos. Be modern. Otherwise I cannot guarantee you will stay on your throne."[15]

as long as Iran was under the thrall of the Fiend, the Saudi were their bestest buddies ever. They were also bestest buddies with Israel and England and the ZUSA.

so much treachery and evil and oppression and murder and torture.. it makes the head spin.

anyways, what do you expect from a fiend, I guess

so today the Saudis are still under the thrall of the same Fiend, but Iran is not. Hence Saudi Arabia assassinates Shia clerics it doesn't like, and Iran gets blamed for human rights violations.

The lies and mendacity and treachery are nearly beyond comprehension. The Saudis toss their fellow Arabs in Palestine under the Zionist bus, and fund and foment ISIS to crucify Christians and burn men alive. The stark divisions between good and evil (if there are such concepts) could hardly be more glaring.

and yet the Zio-fiend has Trump making nice with the murderous, terrorist-funding Saudis, while saber rattling at the peaceful and civilized Iran.


great article yet again Mr. Giraldi !

Under the quisling puppet Shah, Iran was terrorized by a CIA/Mossad run organization notorious for its torture methods.

Lets compare to the current regime that executes Bahai school teachers. Mona Mahmoudenezhad , Bahai school teacher aged 17 years was executed along with 9 other female Bahai school teachers by the Iranian regime you are so fond of . Execution method : Public hanging from crane .
Also denial of basic human rights : Homosexuality illegal and punishable by death penalty . 150 homosexuals executed each year in Iran .
Prosletizing Christianity is illegal and punishable by the death penalty .
Converting from Islam to Christianity is punishable by the death penalty.
In court a mans testimony is given twice the weight of a womans.

fund and foment ISIS to crucify Christians and burn men alive

Muslims funding Muslims to kill Christians ? Nothing new . Has been going on for 1400 years.

anon Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 9:29 pm GMT

@truthtellerAryan They are selling their oil for the price of bottled water !!!!!!!!
And then using the money to buy gold toilets !!!!!!!!

truthtellerAryan Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 9:53 pm GMT

@anon It is official that loving America more than Zionists and Israel is anti-America. How embarrassing, that you see some of our cuck politicians wear flag lapels on their suits with both the Zionist and American flags as one. Treason or patriotism? We've already seen symbolically, the swearing of allegiance to this treacherous "shitty" nation by these so called " patriots "

Rurik Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 10:12 pm GMT

the only people I'm aware of that were hanged by a crane were some homosexual rapists that raped a young boy

something the rapists would probably get a medal for doing here in the Zio-West

so it sounds to me like you're lying or pathetically misinformed

"Today, there are at least 600 churches and 300,000–370,000 Christians in Iran.[1]"

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

and I understand that there is also a thriving and ancient Jewish community in Iran.

OK, I checked and the women were hanged back in the early eighties, just following the revolution that freed Iran from decades of Zionist atrocities and rapine, and apparently they were suspected of collaborating with the Zionists somehow. But that was a long time ago, and I don't hold today's Iranian government guilty for what was done decades ago.

the fact is that Iran has been wronged, (savaged even) by the ZUSA and Israel for a long, long time. Following their revolution that freed them from the Zio-stooge Shah, the ZUSA used their good buddy Saddam to wage a catastrophic war on Iran, and even handed Saddam some nice chemical weapons and gas to use on Iranian troops. Charming huh?

They've been menaced by Israel for so long that it's part of the fabric of their national narrative, because it seems that the Jewish supremacists can not stand to see others thrive. It drives them whacky- it does. They must have their boot on all throats, Palestinian, Iraqi, Lebanese, Syrian and everybody else. Iran tells them to fuck off, and the Jewish supremacists go bonkers.

If there's another world war, it will be forced upon the planet by Jewish, Zionist supremacists and their bought politician whores in London, Paris and DC.

I pray God speed to Trump in ferreting these Satanic scum out of the government and halls of power here in the former (and soon to be great again) good ol' US of A.

Rurik Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 10:18 pm GMT

@Rurik more:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/liberate-idleb-after-east-aleppo-shifting-military-alliances-moscows-role/5565126

anon Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 10:22 pm GMT

@truthtellerAryan

this treacherous "shitty" nation

Must be strange to totallyl obsessed and consumed with something so trivial as " a shitty nation ".
But you being an Aryan I would think you would be more concerned with Germany and the fact that you will lose the Aryan homeland within a couple of generations due to almost zero native birth rate ,a soaring Muslim birhrate from your pet " refugees" and turkish laboreres, and millions more military age Muslim men ( refugees ) pouring over your borders . But don't worry , keep obsessing over Jews. By the way who perpetrated the sexual assault festival at Germanys expense on New Years Eve , Jews or Muslims ,?? Who kidnapped/groomed and pimped out 1400 native British girls in Rotherham , Muslims or Jews ??

lavoisier Website Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 10:47 pm GMT

@anon The current Iranian regime is at least as ruthless and oppressive as was the regime led by the Shah. However, that regime poses no threat to the United States of America and should not be our problem. Trump is picking a fight with Iran because they threatened Israel. Again, Israel's fights should be their own fights. Leave us out.

That being said, it is naive to dismiss how much damage we have done to countries like Iran by meddling in their internal affairs and putting in power ruthless puppets like the shah. His cruelty to his own people is what eventually led to his regime being destroyed. If you cause enough harm to people, they will seek revenge.

If he had been more benevelont and avoided murder and mayhem, he may have been able to turn his country around. But he would also have had to work for the interests of his own people.

ANON Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 10:48 pm GMT

@Mark Green I would say "nice try" but that would be an exaggeration. The NY World closed in 1931 after being sold by the Pulitzers (plural). You would of course know that they were not Jewish but I suppose you could try making something of the fact that their mother was from a formerly slave owning Southern family..

Rurik Show Comment Next New Comment June 13, 2017 at 10:49 pm GMT

@anon


this treacherous "shitty" nation
Must be strange to totallyl obsessed and consumed with something so trivial as " a shitty nation ".
But you being an Aryan I would think you would be more concerned with Germany and the fact that you will lose the Aryan homeland within a couple of generations due to almost zero native birth rate ,a soaring Muslim birhrate from your pet " refugees" and turkish laboreres, and millions more military age Muslim men ( refugees ) pouring over your borders . But don't worry , keep obsessing over Jews. By the way who perpetrated the sexual assault festival at Germanys expense on New Years Eve , Jews or Muslims ,?? Who kidnapped/groomed and pimped out 1400 native British girls in Rotherham , Muslims or Jews ??

Muslim men ( refugees ) pouring over your borders . But don't worry , keep obsessing over Jews.

your butt-boy George Soros just got his arse handed to him

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-06-13/soros-s-native-hungary-approves-crackdown-on-foreign-funded-ngos

no more kosher Muslims in Hungary

[Jun 12, 2017] He who says organization, says oligarchy. Organizations and oligarchies are self-reinforcing psychopath magnets

Notable quotes:
"... Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy ..."
Jun 12, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org
PavewayIV | Jun 11, 2017 1:10:50 PM | 42

Robert Michels and the Iron Law of Oligarchy (1911)

"He who says organization, says oligarchy."

Paraphrasing Lobaczewski c. 1959:

"Organizations and oligarchies are self-reinforcing psychopath magnets."

PavewayIV's Magic Box of Death:

Put a few oligarchs in a box and set on floor. Soon, hundreds of 'little people' will be attracted inside. Close box and shake vigorously. Torrents of dead 'little people' will pour out, but never any oligarchs. Repeat as often as desired. It's magic!
jfl | Jun 11, 2017 4:58:36 PM | 50

thanks for the link. reading what amounts to a short introduction, i discovered that Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy itself is available, as so many good books are available, from our friends and benefactors at library genesis.

Archive.org has one: Political parties; a sociological study of the oligarchical tendencies of modern democracy Michels, Robert, 1876-1936 Free

[Jun 12, 2017] You can't fix the media because its very raison d'etre is to subvert, mislead and corrupt, to put the viewer and the nation inside a mental labyrinth.

Jun 12, 2017 | www.unz.com

LetItRest Show Comment Next New Comment June 12, 2017 at 5:07 am GMT

You can't fix the media because its very raison d'etre is to subvert, mislead and corrupt, to put the viewer and the nation inside a mental labyrinth.

You see, in the US and the Western World, the Media is owned by a cartel of Jewish people with a common agenda – they only talk about the same events, with the same perspective. They change gears and news cycles in unison, they command the discourse window.

Of course, Fox News is the opposite of CNN to the masses of disinformed, but this is just a cordial accord between Owners to not eat each other's audiences. Mainly a market strategy to not create cannibalization.

If the Media was supposed to be serious, "but currently is not and in need of saving", instead of the truth of it never being anything close to that, just a propaganda machine, then, in all those decades, and specially now in the age of the internet, they should have been speaking about the system of Debt Currency that ruins all nations, or how today in America we have the biggest monopolies in the history of mankind, or how Immigration from countries with non-European populations destroys social trust, neighborhoods, cities, lower wages, overbudens public services, reintroduces extinct diseases and many many more.

But they don't talk about any of that, and never will.

Forget about the media altogether, let it die and rot.

[Jun 12, 2017] In Praise of Hypocrisy by Masha Gessen

Empire of Lies is a 2008 thriller novel written by Andrew Klavan. The book takes its title from a quote by George Orwell often used by Ron Paul, "Truth is treason in an empire of lies." Masha Gessen is a part of US propaganda empire, and now trying to defend it by all means. Demonstrating the level of sophisticaion I never suspected of her. I like the term "aspirational hypocrisy", because now the USA neocon foreign policy and neocon's wars can be defined as the "Wars of aspirational hypocrisy". But this is all I like in the article. It is useful as as sample of sophisticated propaganda. That's it.
In any case this article is nice example of "deception as an art form" and this neoliberal Masha proved to be a real artist in this art.
Notable quotes:
"... Everybody lies. But American politics has long rested on a shared understanding of what it is acceptable to lie about, how and to whom. ..."
"... One of the many norms that Donald J. Trump has assaulted since taking office is this tradition of aspirational hypocrisy, of striving, at least rhetorically, to act in accordance with moral values - to be better. ..."
"... Fascists the world over have gained popularity by calling forth the idea that the world is rotten to the core. In "The Origins of Totalitarianism," Hannah Arendt described how fascism invites people to "throw off the mask of hypocrisy" and adopt the worldview that there is no right and wrong, only winners and losers. ..."
"... Hypocrisy can be aspirational: Political actors claim that they are motivated by ideals perhaps to a greater extent than they really are; shedding the mask of hypocrisy asserts that greed, vengeance and gratuitous cruelty aren't wrong, but are legitimate motivations for political behavior. ..."
"... In the last decade and a half, post-Communist autocrats like Vladimir V. Putin and Viktor Orban have adopted this cynical posture. They seem convinced that the entire world is driven solely by greed and hunger for power, and only the Western democracies continue to insist, hypocritically, that their politics are based on values and principles. ..."
"... when he was asked about his admiration for Mr. Putin, whom the host Bill O'Reilly called "a killer." "You got a lot of killers," responded Mr. Trump. "What, you think our country's so innocent?" ..."
"... To an American ear, Mr. Trump's statement was jarring - not because Americans believe their country to be "innocent" but because they have always relied on a sort of aspirational hypocrisy ..."
"... No American politician in living memory has advanced the idea that the entire world, including the United States, was rotten to the core. ... ..."
"... How do you like the NKVD libruls afraid of Trump bringing fascism who were running a gestapo (the FBI wiring tapping other country's Ministers) on US citizens of the opposing party? ..."
Feb 18, 2017 | nyt.com

Everybody lies. But American politics has long rested on a shared understanding of what it is acceptable to lie about, how and to whom.

One of the many norms that Donald J. Trump has assaulted since taking office is this tradition of aspirational hypocrisy, of striving, at least rhetorically, to act in accordance with moral values - to be better. This tradition has set the standard of behavior for government officials and has shaped Americans' understanding of what their government and their country represent. Over the last four weeks, Mr. Trump has lashed out against any criticism of his behavior, because, as he never tires of pointing out, "We won."

In requesting the resignation of his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, however, Mr. Trump made his first public concession to political expectations. Hypocrisy has scored a minor victory in America. This is a good thing.

The word "hypocrisy" was thrown around a lot during the 2016 presidential campaign. Both Mr. Trump and Bernie Sanders accused their respective parties and the country's elites of hypocrisy. As the election neared, some journalists tried to turn the accusation around on Mr. Trump, taking him to task, for example, for his stand on immigration. If Mr. Trump favored such a hard line on immigration, the logic went, should he not then favor the deportation of his own wife, Melania, who was alleged to have worked while in the United States on a visitor's visa?

The charge of hypocrisy didn't stick, not so much because it placed its proponents, unwittingly, in the distasteful position of advocating the deportation of someone for a long-ago and common transgression, but because Mr. Trump wasn't just breaking the rules of political conduct: He was destroying them. He was openly claiming that he abused the system to benefit himself. If he didn't pay his taxes and got away with it, this made him a good businessman. If he could force himself on women, that made him more of a man. He acted as though this primitive logic were obvious and shared by all.

Fascists the world over have gained popularity by calling forth the idea that the world is rotten to the core. In "The Origins of Totalitarianism," Hannah Arendt described how fascism invites people to "throw off the mask of hypocrisy" and adopt the worldview that there is no right and wrong, only winners and losers.

Hypocrisy can be aspirational: Political actors claim that they are motivated by ideals perhaps to a greater extent than they really are; shedding the mask of hypocrisy asserts that greed, vengeance and gratuitous cruelty aren't wrong, but are legitimate motivations for political behavior.

In the last decade and a half, post-Communist autocrats like Vladimir V. Putin and Viktor Orban have adopted this cynical posture. They seem convinced that the entire world is driven solely by greed and hunger for power, and only the Western democracies continue to insist, hypocritically, that their politics are based on values and principles.

This stance has breathed new life into the old Soviet propaganda tool of "whataboutism," the trick of turning any argument against the opponent. When accused of falsifying elections, Russians retort that American elections are not unproblematic; when faced with accusations of corruption, they claim that the entire world is corrupt.

This month, Mr. Trump employed the technique of whataboutism when he was asked about his admiration for Mr. Putin, whom the host Bill O'Reilly called "a killer." "You got a lot of killers," responded Mr. Trump. "What, you think our country's so innocent?"

To an American ear, Mr. Trump's statement was jarring - not because Americans believe their country to be "innocent" but because they have always relied on a sort of aspirational hypocrisy to understand the country. No American politician in living memory has advanced the idea that the entire world, including the United States, was rotten to the core. ...

Hungary's PM Viktor Orban praises Trump for saying countries should put their own interests first
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/donald-trump-nationalist-hungary-pm-viktor-orban-praise-america-first-a7542361.html

===

ilsm, February 18, 2017 at 12:27 PM

I am less worried now we got Trump and not apparatchik (experienced in deep state and catering to Jihadis) Clinton.
ilsm, February 18, 2017 at 12:25 PM
The faux librul side is all Joe McCarthy phony red scaring and surveillance of the opposition activists sort of like what Army Intell did to hippies protesting the liberals' debacle in Southeast Asia.

Deep state surveillance and trashing the Bill of Rights is a legacy of the past 8 years.

yuan, February 18, 2017 at 09:36 PM
it's telling that you believe genuine liberalism is positive...
ilsm , February 18, 2017 at 04:45 AM
Vox, what about reporting from a crystal ball requires truth?
Peter K. - , February 18, 2017 at 07:37 AM
The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming! Hide under your bed.
ilsm, February 18, 2017 at 12:42 PM
Flynn could have said something "inappropriate" by a Clintonista definition of "inappropriate", and he "could" be prosecuted under a law designed to muzzle US citizens, that has never been tried bc a Bill of rights argument would win!

How do you like the NKVD libruls afraid of Trump bringing fascism who were running a gestapo (the FBI wiring tapping other country's Ministers) on US citizens of the opposing party?

If the fascists are coming they would keep Obama's FBI!

ilsm -> Fred C. Dobbs... February 18, 2017 at 05:35 PM

the dems' deep state have already trodden the Bill of Rights how worse can it get......

fascism is in the US for 8 years or so.

[Jun 12, 2017] The Economic-Corporate Oligarchy of the World

Global Research
forces behind policy decisions within the government.

“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence” (Gilens and Page, 2014, p.3).

This study illustrates the influence that trans-national corporations along with international financiers can have on a population if they are given the conditions to flourish. The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) epitomises the economic-corporate governance that exists in most countries of the world today, with democratic political systems often corrupted by lobbying groups and special interests. A self titled “independent, nonpartisan membership organisation, think tank and publisher”, the CFR is a private organisation which holds the real power in American politics. It has a membership which is made up from the top echelons of the political, academic, media, corporate, and banking fields. Hilary Clinton revealed the nature of her (along with the US State Department’s) relationship with the CFR when she addressed the council at their newly opened outpost in Washington D.C in 2009:

“I have been often to the mother ship in New York City, but it’s good to have an outpost of the Council right here down the street from the State Department. We get a lot of advice from the Council, so this will mean I won’t have as far to go to be told what we should be doing and how we should think about the future.”

A look at the corporate membership of the council reveals the level of power vested in such a small amount of hands, with approximately 200 of the most influential corporate players on the planet members of the council, including: Exxon Mobil Corporation, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, BP plc, Barclays, Google Inc, Lockheed Martin, Deutsche Bank AG, Shell Oil Company and Soros Fund Management.

The CFR is part of a shadowy network of private organisations that stretches across the globe to influence policy of most nation states. Professor Carroll Quigley was an insider at the CFR and knew “of the operations of this network because” he “studied it for twenty years and was permitted for two years, in the early 1960’s, to examine its papers and secret records” (Quigley, 1966, p. 950). He wrote two books about the activities of the network, the first titled Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in our Time published in 1966, and the second was The Anglo-American Establishment published in 1981.

[Jun 11, 2017] Neo-Gramscianism - Wikipedia

Jun 11, 2017 | en.wikipedia.org
Neo-Gramscianism applies a critical theory approach to the study of International Relations (IR) and the Global Political Economy (GPE) that explores the interface of ideas, institutions and material capabilities as they shape the specific contours of the state formation. The theory is heavily influenced by the writings of Antonio Gramsci . [1]

Neo-Gramscianism analyzes how the particular constellation of social forces, the state and the dominant ideational configuration define and sustain world orders. In this sense, the Neo-Gramscian approach breaks the decades-old stalemate between the realist schools of thought, and the liberal theories by historicizing the very theoretical foundations of the two streams as part of a particular world order, and finding the interlocking relationship between agency and structure . Furthermore, Karl Polanyi , Karl Marx , Max Weber , Niccolò Machiavelli , Max Horkheimer , Theodor Adorno and Michel Foucault are cited as major sources within the Critical theory of International Relations. [1] York University professor emeritus, Robert W. Cox 's article "Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory", in Millennium 10 (1981) 2, and "Gramsci, Hegemony and International Relations: An Essay in Method", published in Millennium 12 (1983) 2. In his 1981 article, Cox demands a critical study of IR, as opposed to the usual "problem-solving" theories, which do not interrogate the origin, nature and development of historical structures, but accept for example that states and the (supposedly) "anarchic" relationships between them as Kantian Dinge an sich .

However, Cox disavows the label Neo-Gramscian despite the fact that in a follow-up article, he showed how Gramsci's thought can be used to analyze power structures within the GPE. Particularly Gramsci's concept of hegemony , vastly different from the realists' conception of hegemony, appears fruitful. Gramsci's state theory, his conception of " historic blocs " – dominant configurations of material capabilities, ideologies and institutions as determining frames for individual and collective action – and of élites acting as "organic intellectuals" forging historic blocs , is also deemed useful.

The Neo-Gramscian approach has also been developed along somewhat different lines by Cox's colleague, Stephen Gill , distinguished research professor of political science at York University in Toronto . Gill contributed to showing how the elite Trilateral Commission acted as an "organic intellectual", forging the (currently hegemonic) ideology of neoliberalism and the so-called " Washington Consensus " and later in relation to the globalization of power and resistance in his book "Power and Resistance in the New World Order" (Palgrave 2003). Gill also partnered with fellow Canadian academic A. Claire Cutler to release a Neo-Gramscian inspired volume entitled "New Constitutionalism and World Order" (Cambridge 2014). The book brings together a selection of critical theorists and Neo-Gramscians to analyze the disciplinary power of legal and constitutional innovations in the global political economy. Co-editor A. Claire Cutler has been a pioneer scholar detailing a Neo-Gramscian theory of international law . [2] Outside of North America, the so-called "Amsterdam School" around Kees Van Der Pijl and Henk Overbeek (at VU University Amsterdam ) and individual researchers in Germany , notably in Düsseldorf , Kassel and Marburg as well as at the Centre for Global Political Economy at the University of Sussex in the UK, and other parts of the world, have adopted the neo-Gramscian critical method.

Basics of the neo-Gramscian perspective [ edit ]

In the mainstream approaches to international or global political economy the ontological centrality of the state is not in question. In contrast, Neo-Gramscianism, using an approach which Henk Overbeek, Professor of International Relations at the VU University , calls transnational historical materialism , "identifies state formation and interstate politics as moments of the transnational dynamics of capital accumulation and class formation". [3]

Neo-Gramscianism perceives state sovereignty as subjugated to a global economic system marked by the emergence of a transnational financial system and a corresponding transnational system of production. The major players in these systems, multinational corporations and international financial institutions such as the World Bank and IMF , have evolved into a "transnational historic bloc" that exercises global hegemony (in contrast to the realist view of hegemony as the "predominant power of a state or a group of states"). [4] The historic bloc acquires its authority through the tacit consent of the governed population gained through coercive techniques of intellectual and cultural persuasion, largely absent violence. It links itself to other social groups that have been involved in political struggles [5] to expand its influence and seeks to solidify its power through the standardization and liberalization of national economies, creating a single regulatory regime (e.g. World Trade Organization ).

There are powerful forces opposing the progress of this historic bloc who may form counterhegemonies to challenge it as part of an open-ended class struggle. These might include neo-mercantilists who depend on the protection of tariffs and state subsidies, or alliances of lesser developed countries , or feminist and environmentalist movements in the industrialized west. [6] If a counterhegemony grows large enough it is able to subsume and replace the historic bloc it was born in. Neo-Gramscians use the Machiavellian terms war of position and war of movement to explain how this is possible. In a war of position a counterhegemonic movement attempts, through persuasion or propaganda, to increase the number of people who share its view on the hegemonic order; in a war of movement the counterhegemonic tendencies which have grown large enough overthrow, violently or democratically, the current hegemony and establish themselves as a new historic bloc. [7] [8]

[May 22, 2017] Key points of TIME magazine cover story on the Russian takeover of America

Notable quotes:
"... TIME magazine has just published a cover story on the Russian takeover of America: Inside Russia's Social Media War on America . The cover image shows the White House turned into the Kremlin. I will list some of the key points below with quotes from the article: ..."
May 22, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

Petri Krohn | May 18, 2017 8:57:21 PM | 71

TIME magazine has just published a cover story on the Russian takeover of America: Inside Russia's Social Media War on America . The cover image shows the White House turned into the Kremlin. I will list some of the key points below with quotes from the article:

1) Social media has become a danger to democracy.

The vast openness and anonymity of social media has cleared a dangerous new route for antidemocratic forces. "Using these technologies, it is possible to undermine democratic government."

2) Democratic society must isolate itself from public opinion.

Russia may finally have gained the ability it long sought but never fully achieved in the Cold War: to alter the course of events in the U.S. by manipulating public opinion.

3) Russia spies on you.

The Russians "target you and see what you like, what you click on, and see if you're sympathetic or not sympathetic."

4) America is losing the cyberwar.

As Russia expands its cyberpropaganda efforts, the U.S. and its allies are only just beginning to figure out how to fight back.

5) Russia has clever algorithms that America lacks.

American researchers have found they can use mathematical formulas to segment huge populations into thousands of subgroups... Propagandists can then manually craft messages to influence them, deploying covert provocateurs, either humans or automated computer programs known as bots, in hopes of altering their behavior.

6) Russia has huge troll farms.

Putin dispatched his newly installed head of military intelligence, Igor Sergun, to begin repurposing cyberweapons previously used for psychological operations in war zones for use in electioneering. Russian intelligence agencies funded "troll farms," botnet spamming operations and fake news outlets as part of an expanding focus on psychological operations in cyberspace.

7) You must trust mainstream media.

Eager to appear more powerful than they are, the Russians would consider it a success if you questioned the truth of your news sources, knowing that Moscow might be lurking in your Facebook or Twitter feed.

8) Russia invaded Ukraine in April 2014 .

Putin was aiming his new weapons at the U.S. Following Moscow's April 2014 invasion of Ukraine.

9) Hillary Clinton did not murder Seth Rich.

That story went viral in late August, then took on a life of its own after Clinton fainted from pneumonia and dehydration at a Sept. 11 event in New York City. Elsewhere people invented stories saying Pope Francis had endorsed Trump and Clinton had murdered a DNC staffer.

10) The evidence:

Russia plays in every social media space. The intelligence officials have found that Moscow's agents bought ads on Facebook to target specific populations with propaganda. "They buy the ads, where it says sponsored by–they do that just as much as anybody else does," says the senior intelligence official. (A Facebook official says the company has no evidence of that occurring.) The ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner of Virginia, has said he is looking into why, for example, four of the top five Google search results the day the U.S. released a report on the 2016 operation were links to Russia's TV propaganda arm, RT. (Google says it saw no meddling in this case.) Researchers at the University of Southern California, meanwhile, found that nearly 20% of political tweets in 2016 between Sept. 16 and Oct. 21 were generated by bots of unknown origin; investigators are trying to figure out how many were Russian.

[May 19, 2017] The Great Realignment and the New class

May 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

point , May 19, 2017 at 04:12 PM

Paul says: May 19, 2017 at 04:12 PM

"...Republicans ... went all in behind Trump..."

Well, maybe for those with selective memories. There was plenty of consternation among Repubs about lining up behind the guy.

libezkova , May 19, 2017 at 04:41 PM
Here is part of an insightful comment by William Meyer in which he made an important point about "great realignment" of the "New Class" (aka "the USA nomenklatura") with capital owners which happened in 70th.

http://crookedtimber.org/2016/11/13/on-the-alleged-failure-of-liberal-progressivism/#comment-698333

William Meyer 11.13.16 at 9:40 pm 4

My observation is that the New Class (professionals, lobbyists, financiers, teachers, engineers, etc.) have ruled the country in recent decades. For much of the twentieth century this class was in some tension with corporations, and used their skills at influencing government policy to help develop and protect the welfare state, since they needed the working class as a counterweight to the natural influence of corporate money and power. However, somewhere around 1970 I think this tension collapsed, since corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests.

Vive la meritocracy. This "peace treaty" between former rivals allowed the whole newly enlarged New Class to swing to the right, since they really didn't particularly need the working class politically anymore. And since it is the hallmark of this class to seek prestige, power and money while transferring risk away from themselves, the middle class and blue collar community has been the natural recipient. Free trade (well, for non-professionals, anyway), neoliberalism, ruthless private equity job cutting, etc., etc. all followed very naturally. The re-alignment of the Democratic Party towards the right was a natural part of this evolution.

I think the 90% or so of the community who are not included in this class are confused and bewildered and of course rather angry about it. They also sense that organized politics in this country – being chiefly the province of the New Class – has left them with little leverage to change any of this. Watching the bailouts and lack of prosecutions during the GFC made them dimly realize that the New Class has very strong internal solidarity – and since somebody has to pay for these little mistakes, everyone outside that class is "fair game."

So in that sense–to the extent that you define liberal as the ideology of the New Class (neoliberal, financial-capitalistic, big corporate-friendly but opposed to non-meritocratic biases like racism, sexism, etc.) is "liberalism", I think it is reasonable to say that it has bred resistance and anger among the "losers." As far as having "failed", well, we'll see: the New Class still controls almost all the levers of power. It has many strategies for channeling lower-class anger and I think under Trump we'll see those rolled out.

Let me be clear, I'm not saying Donald Trump is leading an insurgency against the New Class – but I think he tapped into something like one and is riding it for all he can, while not really having the slightest idea what he's doing.
Perhaps some evolution in "the means of production" or in how governments are influenced will ultimately develop to divide or downgrade the New Class, and break its lock on the corridors of power, but I don't see it on the horizon just yet. If anyone else does, I'd love to hear more about it.

[May 16, 2017] America is still segregated. We need to be honest about why by Richard Rothstein

Notable quotes:
"... Growing inequality partly reflects a racial wealth gap. Middle-class white Americans are more likely to live in neighborhoods with rising home values (and thus, family equity) while their middle-class black counterparts are more likely to rent, or live in neighborhoods with stagnant values. ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Growing inequality partly reflects a racial wealth gap. Middle-class white Americans are more likely to live in neighborhoods with rising home values (and thus, family equity) while their middle-class black counterparts are more likely to rent, or live in neighborhoods with stagnant values.

Hostile, sometimes fatal confrontations between police and African American youth might be rarer if the poorest young people were not concentrated in neighborhoods lacking well-resourced schools, good jobs and transportation to better opportunities. In integrated neighborhoods with substantial middle class populations, police perform as public servants, not as an occupying force.

We've done little to desegregate neighborhoods, believing their racial homogeneity is "de facto", tied to private prejudice, personal choices, realtor discrimination or income differences that make middle-class suburbs unaffordable to most African Americans. Under our constitutional system, if neighborhoods are segregated by private activity, we can do little about it.

Only if neighborhoods are segregated "de jure", by explicit government policy, is remedial action permitted. Indeed, the constitution requires remedies for de jure segregation.

In truth, de facto segregation is largely a myth. As my new book, The Color of Law, recounts, racially explicit government policy in the mid-twentieth century separated the races in every metropolitan area, with effects that endure today.

The New Deal created our first civilian public housing, intended to provide lodging mostly for lower-middle class white families during the Depression. The Roosevelt administration built a few projects for black families as well, but almost always segregated. At the time, many urban neighborhoods were integrated because workers of both races lived in walking distance of downtown factories. The Public Works Administration (PWA) demolished many such integrated neighborhoods – deemed slums – to build segregated housing instead, creating segregation where it had never before existed.

In his autobiography, The Big Sea, the poet and novelist Langston Hughes described going to high school in an integrated Cleveland neighborhood where his best friend was Polish and he dated a Jewish girl. The PWA cleared the area to build one project for whites and another for African Americans. Previously integrated neighborhoods in Cambridge, Atlanta, St Louis, San Francisco and elsewhere also gave way to segregated public housing, structuring patterns that persisted for generations.

During the second world war, white and black Americans flocked to jobs in defense plants, sometimes in communities that had no tradition of segregated living. Yet the government built separate projects for black and white citizens, determining future residential boundaries. Richmond, California, was the nation's largest shipbuilding center. It had few African Americans before the war; by its end, some 15,000 were housed in a federal ghetto along the railroad tracks.

By the mid-1950s, projects for white Americans had many unoccupied units while those for African Americans had long waiting lists. The contrast became so conspicuous that all public housing was opened to African Americans. As industry relocated to suburbs, jobs disappeared and public housing residents became poorer. A program that originally addressed a middle-class housing shortage became a way to warehouse the poor.

Why did white housing projects develop vacancies while black ones had long waiting lists? It largely resulted from a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) program that guaranteed loans to builders of suburban subdivisions, on the explicit condition that black families be excluded and that house deeds prohibit resale to them. In the late 1940s, William Levitt could never independently have amassed capital to construct 17,000 houses in what became Levittown, east of New York City. He could do so only because the FHA relieved banks of risk in making development loans, provided homes were for whites only.

Urban public housing, originally for middle-class white Americans and later for lower-income African Americans, combined with FHA subsidized suburbanization of whites, created a "white noose" around urban black families that persists to this day.

In 1968, the Fair Housing Act permitted African Americans to access previously white neighborhoods. But it prohibited only future discrimination, without undoing the previous 35 years of government-imposed segregation. In suburbs like Levittown that sprouted nationwide in the 1940s and 50s, houses sold for about $100,000 (in today's currency), twice the national median income.

FHA-amortized mortgages were affordable for working-class families of either race, although only whites were allowed. Today, these houses sell for $400,000, seven times national median income, unaffordable to working-class families. Meanwhile, whites who suburbanized with federal protection gained $300,000 in equity to use for children's college tuition, care for aging parents, or medical emergencies. Black families remaining as renters gained no such security.

Our belief in "de facto" segregation is paralyzing. If our racial separation stems from millions of individual decisions, it is hard to imagine the millions of different choices that could undo it. But if we remember that residential segregation results primarily from forceful and unconstitutional government policy, we can begin to consider equally forceful public action to reverse it. Learning this history is the first step we can take.

[May 15, 2017] The explosive mixture of middle-class shrinking and dual economy in the West

This idea of two segregated societies within one nation is pretty convincing.
Notable quotes:
"... A book released last March by MIT economist Peter Temin argues that the U.S. is increasingly becoming what economists call a dual economy; that is, where there are two economies in effect, and one of the populations lives in an economy that is prosperous and secure, and the other part of the population lives in an economy that resembles those of some third world countries. ..."
"... The middle class is shrinking in the United States and this is an effect of both the advance of technology and American policies ..."
"... In the United States, our policies have divided us into two groups. Above the median income - above the middle class - is what I call the FTE sector, Finance, Technology and Electronics sector - of people who are doing well, and whose incomes are rising as our national product is growing. The middle class and below are losing shares of income, and their incomes are shrinking as the Pew studies, both of them, show. ..."
"... The model shows that the FTE sector makes policy for itself, and really does not consider how well the low wage sector is doing. In fact, it wants to keep wages and earnings low in the low wage sector, to provide cheap labour for the industrial employment. ..."
"... As already described , the middle-class, which has not collapsed yet in France, still has the characteristics that fit to the neoliberal regime. However, it is obvious that this tank of voters has shrunk significantly, and the establishment is struggling to keep them inside the desirable 'status quo' with tricks like the supposedly 'fresh', apolitical image of Emmanuel Macron, the threat of Le Pen's 'evil' figure that comes from the Far-Right, or, the illusion that they have the right to participate equally to almost every economic activity. ..."
"... The media promotes examples of young businessmen who have succeed to survive economically through start-up companies, yet, they avoid to tell that it is totally unrealistic to expect from most of the Greek youth to become innovative entrepreneurs. So, this illusion is promoted by the media because technology is automating production and factories need less and less workers, even in the public sector, which, moreover, is violently forced towards privatization. ..."
"... In the middle of the pyramid, a restructured class will serve and secure the domination of the top. Corporate executives, big journalists, scientific elites, suppression forces. It is characteristic that academic research is directed on the basis of the profits of big corporations. Funding is directed increasingly to practical applications in areas that can bring huge profits, like for example, the higher automation of production and therefore, the profit increase through the restriction of jobs. ..."
May 14, 2017 | failedevolution.blogspot.gr

The Pew Research Center, released a new study on the size of the middle class in the U.S. and in ten European countries. The study found that the middle class shrank significantly in the U.S. in the last two decades from 1991 to 2010. While it also shrank in several other Western European countries, it shrank far more in the U.S. than anywhere else. Meanwhile, another study also released last week, and published in the journal Science, shows that class mobility in the U.S. declined dramatically in the 1980s, relative to the generation before that.

A book released last March by MIT economist Peter Temin argues that the U.S. is increasingly becoming what economists call a dual economy; that is, where there are two economies in effect, and one of the populations lives in an economy that is prosperous and secure, and the other part of the population lives in an economy that resembles those of some third world countries.

globinfo freexchange

MIT Economist Peter Temin spoke to Gregory Wilpert and the The Real News network.

As Temin states, among other things:

The middle class is shrinking in the United States and this is an effect of both the advance of technology and American policies . That is shown dramatically in the new study, because the United States is compared with many European countries. In some of them, the middle class is expanding in the last two decades, and in others it's decreasing. And while technology crosses national borders, national policies affect things within the country.

In the United States, our policies have divided us into two groups. Above the median income - above the middle class - is what I call the FTE sector, Finance, Technology and Electronics sector - of people who are doing well, and whose incomes are rising as our national product is growing. The middle class and below are losing shares of income, and their incomes are shrinking as the Pew studies, both of them, show.

The model shows that the FTE sector makes policy for itself, and really does not consider how well the low wage sector is doing. In fact, it wants to keep wages and earnings low in the low wage sector, to provide cheap labour for the industrial employment.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/BRs4VcHprqI" name="I1"

This model is similar to that pursued in eurozone through the Greek experiment. Yet, the establishment's decision centers still need the consent of the citizens to proceed. They got it in France with the election of their man to do the job, Emmanuel Macron.

As already described , the middle-class, which has not collapsed yet in France, still has the characteristics that fit to the neoliberal regime. However, it is obvious that this tank of voters has shrunk significantly, and the establishment is struggling to keep them inside the desirable 'status quo' with tricks like the supposedly 'fresh', apolitical image of Emmanuel Macron, the threat of Le Pen's 'evil' figure that comes from the Far-Right, or, the illusion that they have the right to participate equally to almost every economic activity.

For example, even in Greece, where the middle class suffered an unprecedented reduction because of Troika's (ECB, IMF, European Commission) policies, the last seven years, the propaganda of the establishment attempts to make young people believe that they can equally participate in innovative economic projects. The media promotes examples of young businessmen who have succeed to survive economically through start-up companies, yet, they avoid to tell that it is totally unrealistic to expect from most of the Greek youth to become innovative entrepreneurs. So, this illusion is promoted by the media because technology is automating production and factories need less and less workers, even in the public sector, which, moreover, is violently forced towards privatization.

As mentioned in previous article , the target of the middle class extinction in the West is to restrict the level of wages in developing economies and prevent current model to be expanded in those countries. The global economic elite is aiming now to create a more simple model which will be consisted basically of three main levels.

The 1% holding the biggest part of the global wealth, will lie, as always, at the top of the pyramid. In the current phase, frequent and successive economic crises, not only assist on the destruction of social state and uncontrolled massive privatizations, but also, on the elimination of the big competitors.

In the middle of the pyramid, a restructured class will serve and secure the domination of the top. Corporate executives, big journalists, scientific elites, suppression forces. It is characteristic that academic research is directed on the basis of the profits of big corporations. Funding is directed increasingly to practical applications in areas that can bring huge profits, like for example, the higher automation of production and therefore, the profit increase through the restriction of jobs.

The base of the pyramid will be consisted by the majority of workers in global level, with restricted wages, zero labor rights, and nearly zero opportunities for activities other than consumption.

This type of dual economy with the rapid extinction of middle class may bring dangerous instability because of the vast vacuum created between the elites and the masses. That's why the experiment is implemented in Greece, so that the new conditions to be tested. The last seven years, almost every practice was tested: psychological warfare, uninterrupted propaganda, financial coups, permanent threat for a sudden death of the economy, suppression measures, in order to keep the masses subservient, accepting the new conditions.

The establishment exploits the fact that the younger generations have no collective memories of big struggles. Their rights were taken for granted and now they accept that these must be taken away for the sake of the investors who will come to create jobs. These generations were built and raised according to the standards of the neoliberal regime 'Matrix'.

Yet, it is still not certain that people will accept this Dystopia so easily. The first signs can be seen already as recently, French workers seized factory and threatened to blow it up in protest over possible closure . Macron may discover soon that it will be very difficult to find the right balance in order to finish the job for the elites. And then, neither Brussels nor Berlin will be able to prevent the oncoming chaos in Europe and the West.

Read also:

[May 01, 2017] Here is Why We Should not Laugh at Donald Trumps 100-Day Faceplant by Jon Schwarz

Notable quotes:
"... incredibly wrong ..."
Apr 29, 2017 | theintercept.com

But their elections have one critical thing in common: They both came out of NOWHERE to become president, with characteristics that previously would have throttled their chances before they delivered their first speech in Iowa.

There's no need to recount everything from Trump's florid life and campaign that sensible people were sure disqualified him. But we've forgotten how the sensible people at first saw Obama in much the same way, and for reasons that went far beyond him being African American. He'd been a senator for just two years when he started running and would have to beat the entire party establishment. His father was Muslim. He wasn't just not named Henry Smith, his middle name was Hussein. He'd even used cocaine, and openly admitted it.

Yet both Obama and Trump vaulted over everyone and everything into the White House. Tens of millions of Americans were willing to place their lives in the hands of political anomalies whose central pitch was that they would deliver profound change. The rise of Bernie Sanders, who's proven that you can become the most popular politician in the country without owning a comb, demonstrates the same thing.

What does this mean?

I'd say it means that something has gone incredibly wrong with this country's political system, that large numbers of us are desperate, and are willing to hand over power to absolutely anyone. That's brings us to the peculiar reality that it's not just Obama and Trump's elections that had something significant in common, it's likely their presidencies.

Obama said American healthcare was in crisis and that "plans that tinker and halfway measures now belong to yesterday." Obama was also outraged by pharmaceutical companies gouging Medicare.

According to Trump , "People all across the country are devastated" by the healthcare system, but if we put him in charge , "Everybody's going to be taken care of much better than they're taken care of now." Trump was also infuriated by Big Pharma and just like Obama vowed to crush them.

Yet Obama delivered a halfway measure that tinkered with the problem, and never went after drug manufacturers. Trump is now poised to give America literally the same thing.

Obama called NAFTA "devastating" and "a big mistake" in 2008. In 2016 Trump said NAFTA had caused "devastation" and was "the worst trade deal maybe ever signed." But Obama didn't renegotiate NAFTA. Trump just announced he's not going to pull out of it, and it seems clear the odds of any real renegotiation are slim.

Obama attacked Wall Street, and so did Trump. Both then stocked their administrations with bankers.

And Obama and Trump both ran against the Iraq War, and both of their constituencies understood them to mean they would rethink our entire policy toward the Middle East. Both Obama and Trump then faithfully continued the Afghanistan War, bombed Syria, and helped Saudi Arabia starve Yemen.

... ... ...

"Now that we have vanquished the Dhimmicrats and cuckservatives," Steve Bannon proclaimed, "we shall -" and then tripped on his shoelaces and fell down 97 flights of stairs.

[Apr 28, 2017] The Final Stage of the Machiavellian Elites Takeover of America by Paul Fitzgerald & Elizabeth Gould

Notable quotes:
"... The true irony of today's late-stage efforts by Washington to monopolize "truth" and attack alternate narratives isn't just in its blatant contempt for genuine free speech. ..."
"... the entire "Freedom Manifesto" employed by the United States and Britain since World War II was never free at all, but a concoction of the CIA's Psychological Strategy Board 's (PSB) comprehensive psychological warfare program waged on friend and foe alike. ..."
"... The CIA would come to view the entire program, beginning with the 1950 Berlin conference, to be a landmark in the Cold War, not just for solidifying the CIA's control over the non-Communist left and the West's "free" intellectuals, but for enabling the CIA to secretly disenfranchise Europeans and Americans from their own political culture in such a way they would never really know it. ..."
"... The modern state is an engine of propaganda, alternately manufacturing crises and claiming to be the only instrument that can effectively deal with them. ..."
"... PSB D-33/2 foretells of a "long-term intellectual movement, to: break down world-wide doctrinaire thought patterns" while "creating confusion, doubt and loss of confidence" in order to "weaken objectively the intellectual appeal of neutralism and to predispose its adherents towards the spirit of the West." The goal was to "predispose local elites to the philosophy held by the planners," while employing local elites "would help to disguise the American origin of the effort so that it appears to be a native development." ..."
"... Burnham's Machiavellian elitism lurks in every shadow of the document. As recounted in Frances Stoner Saunder's "The Cultural Cold War," "Marshall also took issue with the PSB's reliance on 'non-rational social theories' which emphasized the role of an elite 'in the manner reminiscent of Pareto, Sorel, Mussolini and so on.' ..."
"... With "The Machiavellians," Burnham had composed the manual that forged the old Trotskyist left together with a right-wing Anglo/American elite. ..."
"... The political offspring of that volatile union would be called neoconservatism, whose overt mission would be to roll back Russian/Soviet influence everywhere. Its covert mission would be to reassert a British cultural dominance over the emerging Anglo/American Empire and maintain it through propaganda. ..."
"... Rarely spoken of in the context of CIA-funded secret operations, the IRD served as a covert anti-Communist propaganda unit from 1946 until 1977. According to Paul Lashmar and James Oliver, authors of " Britain's Secret Propaganda War ," "the vast IRD enterprise had one sole aim: To spread its ceaseless propaganda output (i.e. a mixture of outright lies and distorted facts) among top-ranking journalists who worked for major agencies and magazines, including Reuters and the BBC, as well as every other available channel. It worked abroad to discredit communist parties in Western Europe which might gain a share of power by entirely democratic means, and at home to discredit the British Left." ..."
"... The mandate of his Institute for the Study of Conflict (ISC) set up in 1970 was to expose the supposed KGB campaign of worldwide subversion and put out stories smearing anyone who questioned it as a dupe, a traitor or Communist spy. Crozier regarded "The Machiavellians" as a major formative influence in his own intellectual development, and wrote in 1976 "indeed it was this book above all others that first taught me how [emphasis Crozier] to think about politics." ..."
"... Crozier was more than just a strategic thinker. Crozier was a high-level covert political agent who put Burnham's talent for obfuscation and his Fourth International experience to use to undermine détente and set the stage for rolling back the Soviet Union. ..."
"... Crozier's cooperation with numerous "able and diligent Congressional staffers" as well as "the remarkable General Vernon ('Dick') Walters, recently retired as Deputy Director of Central Intelligence," cemented the rise of the neoconservatives. When Carter caved in to the Team B and his neoconservative National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski's plot to lure the Soviets into their own Vietnam in Afghanistan, it fulfilled Burnham's mission and delivered the world to the Machiavellians without anyone being the wiser. ..."
"... As George Orwell wrote in his "Second Thoughts on James Burnham": "What Burnham is mainly concerned to show [in The Machiavellians] is that a democratic society has never existed and, so far as we can see, never will exist. Society is of its nature oligarchical, and the power of the oligarchy always rests upon force and fraud. Power can sometimes be won and maintained without violence, but never without fraud." ..."
www.truthdig.com

Editor's note: This article is the last in a four-part series on Truthdig called "Universal Empire" -- an examination of the current stage of the neocon takeover of American policy that began after World War ll. Read Part 1 , Part 2 and Part 3 .

The recent assertion by the Trump White House that Damascus and Moscow released "false narratives" to mislead the world about the April 4 sarin gas attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria, is a dangerous next step in the "fake news" propaganda war launched in the final days of the Obama administration. It is a step whose deep roots in Communist Trotsky's Fourth International must be understood before deciding whether American democracy can be reclaimed.

Muddying the waters of accountability in a way not seen since Sen. Joe McCarthy at the height of the Red Scare in the 1950s, the " Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act " signed into law without fanfare by Obama in December 2016 officially authorized a government censorship bureaucracy comparable only to George Orwell's fictional Ministry of Truth in his novel "1984." Referred to as " the Global Engagement Center ," the official purpose of this new bureaucracy is to "recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests." The real purpose of this Orwellian nightmare is to cook the books on anything that challenges Washington's neoconservative pro-war narrative and to intimidate, harass or jail anyone who tries. As has already been demonstrated by President Trump's firing of Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian government airbase, it is a recipe for a world war, and like it or not, that war has already begun.

This latest attack on Russia's supposed false narrative takes us right back to 1953 and the beginnings of the cultural war between East and West. Its roots are tied to the Congress for Cultural Freedom, to James Burnham's pivot from Trotsky's Fourth International to right-wing conservatism and to the rise of the neoconservative Machiavellians as a political force. As Burnham's " The Struggle for the World " stressed, the Third World War had already begun with the 1944 Communist-led Greek sailors' revolt.

In Burnham's Manichean thinking, the West was under siege. George Kennan's Cold War policy of containment was no different than Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement. Détente with the Soviet Union amounted to surrender. Peace was only a disguise for war, and that war would be fought with politics, subversion, terrorism and psychological warfare. Soviet influence had to be rolled back wherever possible. That meant subverting the Soviet Union and its proxies and, when necessary, subverting Western democracies as well.

The true irony of today's late-stage efforts by Washington to monopolize "truth" and attack alternate narratives isn't just in its blatant contempt for genuine free speech. The real irony is that the entire "Freedom Manifesto" employed by the United States and Britain since World War II was never free at all, but a concoction of the CIA's Psychological Strategy Board 's (PSB) comprehensive psychological warfare program waged on friend and foe alike.

The CIA would come to view the entire program, beginning with the 1950 Berlin conference, to be a landmark in the Cold War, not just for solidifying the CIA's control over the non-Communist left and the West's "free" intellectuals, but for enabling the CIA to secretly disenfranchise Europeans and Americans from their own political culture in such a way they would never really know it.

As historian Christopher Lasch wrote in 1969 of the CIA's cooptation of the American left,

"The modern state is an engine of propaganda, alternately manufacturing crises and claiming to be the only instrument that can effectively deal with them. This propaganda, in order to be successful, demands the cooperation of writers, teachers, and artists not as paid propagandists or state-censored time-servers but as 'free' intellectuals capable of policing their own jurisdictions and of enforcing acceptable standards of responsibility within the various intellectual professions."

Key to turning these "free" intellectuals against their own interests was the CIA's doctrinal program for Western cultural transformation contained in the document PSB D-33/2 . PSB D-33/2 foretells of a "long-term intellectual movement, to: break down world-wide doctrinaire thought patterns" while "creating confusion, doubt and loss of confidence" in order to "weaken objectively the intellectual appeal of neutralism and to predispose its adherents towards the spirit of the West." The goal was to "predispose local elites to the philosophy held by the planners," while employing local elites "would help to disguise the American origin of the effort so that it appears to be a native development."

While declaring itself as an antidote to Communist totalitarianism, one internal critic of the program, PSB officer Charles Burton Marshall, viewed PSB D-33/2 itself as frighteningly totalitarian, interposing "a wide doctrinal system" that "accepts uniformity as a substitute for diversity," embracing "all fields of human thought -- all fields of intellectual interests, from anthropology and artistic creations to sociology and scientific methodology." He concluded: "That is just about as totalitarian as one can get."

Burnham's Machiavellian elitism lurks in every shadow of the document. As recounted in Frances Stoner Saunder's "The Cultural Cold War," "Marshall also took issue with the PSB's reliance on 'non-rational social theories' which emphasized the role of an elite 'in the manner reminiscent of Pareto, Sorel, Mussolini and so on.' Weren't these the models used by James Burnham in his book the Machiavellians? Perhaps there was a copy usefully to hand when PSB D-33/2 was being drafted. More likely, James Burnham himself was usefully to hand."

Burnham was more than just at hand when it came to secretly implanting a fascist philosophy of extreme elitism into America's Cold War orthodoxy. With "The Machiavellians," Burnham had composed the manual that forged the old Trotskyist left together with a right-wing Anglo/American elite.

The political offspring of that volatile union would be called neoconservatism, whose overt mission would be to roll back Russian/Soviet influence everywhere. Its covert mission would be to reassert a British cultural dominance over the emerging Anglo/American Empire and maintain it through propaganda.

Hard at work on that task since 1946 was the secret Information Research Department of the British and Commonwealth Foreign Office known as the IRD.

Rarely spoken of in the context of CIA-funded secret operations, the IRD served as a covert anti-Communist propaganda unit from 1946 until 1977. According to Paul Lashmar and James Oliver, authors of " Britain's Secret Propaganda War ," "the vast IRD enterprise had one sole aim: To spread its ceaseless propaganda output (i.e. a mixture of outright lies and distorted facts) among top-ranking journalists who worked for major agencies and magazines, including Reuters and the BBC, as well as every other available channel. It worked abroad to discredit communist parties in Western Europe which might gain a share of power by entirely democratic means, and at home to discredit the British Left."

IRD was to become a self-fulfilling disinformation machine for the far-right wing of the international intelligence elite, at once offering fabricated and distorted information to "independent" news outlets and then using the laundered story as "proof" of the false story's validity. One such front enterprise established with CIA money was Forum World Features, operated at one time by Burnham acolyte Brian Rossiter Crozier . Described by Burnham's biographer Daniel Kelly as a "British political analyst," in reality, the legendary Brian Crozier functioned for over 50 years as one of Britain's top propagandists and secret agents .

If anyone today is shocked by the biased, one-sided, xenophobic rush to judgment alleging Russian influence over the 2016 presidential election, they need look no further than to Brian Crozier's closet for the blueprints. As we were told outright by an American military officer during the first war in Afghanistan in 1982, the U.S. didn't need "proof the Soviets used poison gas" and they don't need proof against Russia now. Crozier might best be described as a daydream believer, a dangerous imperialist who acts out his dreams with open eyes. From the beginning of the Cold War until his death in 2012, Crozier and his protégé Robert Moss propagandized on behalf of military dictators Francisco Franco and Augusto Pinochet, organized private intelligence organizations to destabilize governments in the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and Africa and worked to delegitimize politicians in Europe and Britain viewed as insufficiently anti-Communist.

The mandate of his Institute for the Study of Conflict (ISC) set up in 1970 was to expose the supposed KGB campaign of worldwide subversion and put out stories smearing anyone who questioned it as a dupe, a traitor or Communist spy. Crozier regarded "The Machiavellians" as a major formative influence in his own intellectual development, and wrote in 1976 "indeed it was this book above all others that first taught me how [emphasis Crozier] to think about politics." The key to Crozier's thinking was Burnham's distinction between the "formal" meaning of political speech and the "real," a concept which was, of course, grasped only by elites. In a 1976 article, Crozier marveled at how Burnham's understanding of politics had spanned 600 years and how the use of "the formal" to conceal "the real" was no different today than when used by Dante Alighieri's "presumably enlightened Medieval mind." "The point is as valid now as it was in ancient times and in the Florentine Middle Ages, or in 1943. Overwhelmingly, political writers and speakers still use Dante's method. Depending on the degree of obfuscation required (either by circumstances or the person's character), the divorce between formal and real meaning is more of less absolute."

But Crozier was more than just a strategic thinker. Crozier was a high-level covert political agent who put Burnham's talent for obfuscation and his Fourth International experience to use to undermine détente and set the stage for rolling back the Soviet Union.

In a secret meeting at a City of London bank in February 1977, he even patented a private-sector operational intelligence organization known at the Sixth International (6I) to pick up where Burnham left off: politicizing and privatizing many of the dirty tricks the CIA and other intelligence services could no longer be caught doing. As he explained in his memoir "Free Agent," the name 6I was chosen "because the Fourth International split. The Fourth International was the Trotskyist one, and when it split, this meant that, on paper, there were five Internationals. In the numbers game, we would constitute the Sixth International, or '6I.' "

Crozier's cooperation with numerous "able and diligent Congressional staffers" as well as "the remarkable General Vernon ('Dick') Walters, recently retired as Deputy Director of Central Intelligence," cemented the rise of the neoconservatives. When Carter caved in to the Team B and his neoconservative National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski's plot to lure the Soviets into their own Vietnam in Afghanistan, it fulfilled Burnham's mission and delivered the world to the Machiavellians without anyone being the wiser.

As George Orwell wrote in his "Second Thoughts on James Burnham": "What Burnham is mainly concerned to show [in The Machiavellians] is that a democratic society has never existed and, so far as we can see, never will exist. Society is of its nature oligarchical, and the power of the oligarchy always rests upon force and fraud. Power can sometimes be won and maintained without violence, but never without fraud."

Today, Burnham's use of Dante's political treatise "De Monarchia" to explain his medieval understanding of politics might best be swapped for Dante's "Divine Comedy," a paranoid comedy of errors in which the door to Hell swings open to one and all, including the elites regardless of their status. Or as they say in Hell, " Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate ." Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

This poart 4 of the series. For previous parts see

  1. Part 1: American Imperialism Leads the World Into Dante's Vision of Hell
  2. Part 3: How the CIA Created a Fake Western Reality for 'Unconventional Warfare'

Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould are the authors of " Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story ," " Crossing Zero: The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire " and " The Voice ." Visit their websites at invisiblehistory.com and grailwerk.com .

[Apr 28, 2017] Former President Obama Has a New Job Control the Official Narrative of American Exceptionalism - Truthdig

Apr 28, 2017 | www.truthdig.com
The ruling class is seriously rattled over its loss of control over the national political narrative-a consequence of capitalism's terminal decay and U.S. imperialism's slipping grip on global hegemony. When the Lords of Capital get rattled, their servants in the political class are tasked with rearranging the picture and reframing the national conversation. In other words, Papa Imperialism needs a new set of lies, or renewed respect for the old ones. Former president Barack Obama, the cool operator who put the U.S. back on the multiple wars track after a forced lull in the wake of George Bush's defeat in Iraq, has eagerly accepted his new assignment as Esteemed Guardian of Official Lies.

At this stage of his career, Obama must dedicate much of his time to the maintenance of Official Lies, since they are central to his own "legacy." With the frenzied assistance of his first secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, Obama launched a massive military offensive-a rush job to put the New American Century back on schedule. Pivoting to all corners of the planet, and with the general aim of isolating and intimidating Russia and China, the salient feature of Obama's offensive was the naked deployment of Islamic jihadists as foot soldiers of U.S. imperialism in Libya and Syria. It is a strategy that is morally and politically indefensible-unspeakable!-the truth of which would shatter the prevailing order in the imperial heartland, itself.

Thus, from 2011 to when he left the White House for a Tahiti yachting vacation with music mogul David Geffen and assorted movie and media celebrities, Obama orchestrated what the late Saddam Hussein would have called "The Mother of All Lies": that the U.S. was not locked in an alliance with al-Qaida and its terrorist offshoots in Syria, a relationship begun almost 40 years earlier in Afghanistan.

Advertisement Square, Site wide He had all the help he needed from a compliant corporate media, whose loyalty to U.S. foreign policy can always be counted on in times of war. Since the U.S. is constantly in a (self-proclaimed) state of war, corporate media collaboration is guaranteed. Outside the U.S. and European corporate media bubble, the whole world was aware that al-Qaida and the U.S. were comrades in arms. (According to a 2015 poll, 82 percent of Syrians and 85 percent of Iraqis believe the U.S. created ISIS .) When Vladimir Putin told a session of the United Nations General Assembly that satellites showed lines of ISIS tankers stretching from captured Syrian oil fields "to the horizon," bound for U.S.-allied Turkey, yet untouched by American bombers, the Obama administration had no retort. Russian jets destroyed 1,000 of the tankers , forcing the Americans to mount their own, smaller raids. But, the moment soon passed into the corporate media's amnesia hole-another fact that must be shed in order to avoid unspeakable conclusions.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump's flirtation with the idea of ending U.S. "regime change" policy in Syria-and, thereby, scuttling the alliance with Islamic jihadists-struck panic in the ruling class and in the imperial political structures that are called the Deep State, which includes the corporate media. When Trump won the general election, the imperial political class went into meltdown, blaming "The Russians"-first, for warlord Hillary Clinton's loss, and soon later for everything under the sun. The latest lie is that Moscow is sending weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan, the country where the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Pakistan spent billions of dollars to create the international jihadist network. Which shows that imperialists have no sense of irony, or shame. (See BAR: " The U.S., Not Russia, Arms Jihadists Worldwide .")

After the election, lame duck President Obama was so consumed by the need to expunge all narratives that ran counter to "The Russians Did It," he twice yammered about " fake news " at a press conference in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Obama was upset, he said, "Because in an age where there's so much active misinformation and its packaged very well and it looks the same when you see it on a Facebook page or you turn on your television. If everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, then we won't know what to protect."

Although now an ex-president, it is still Obama's job to protect the ruling class, and the Empire, and his role in maintaining the Empire: his legacy. To do that, one must control the narrative-the subject uppermost in his mind when he used Chicago area students as props, this week, for his first public speech since leaving the White House.

"It used to be that everybody kind of had the same information," said Obama, at the University of Chicago affair. "We had different opinions about it, but there was a common base line of facts. The internet has in some ways accelerated this sense of people having entirely separate conversations, and this generation is getting its information through its phones. That you really don't have to confront people who have different opinions or have a different experience or a different outlook."

Obama continued:

"If you're liberal, you're on MSNBC, or conservative, you're on Fox News. You're reading The Wall Street Journal or you're reading The New York Times, or whatever your choices are. Or, maybe you're just looking at cat videos [laughter].

"So, one question I have for all of you is, How do you guys get your information about the news and what's happening out there, and are there ways in which you think we could do a better job of creating a common conversation now that you've got 600 cable stations and you've got all these different news opinions-and, if there are two sets of opinions, then they're just yelling at each other, so you don't get a sense that there's an actual conversation going on. And the internet is worse. It's become more polarized."

Obama's core concern is that there should be a "common base line of facts," which he claims used to exist "20 or 30 years ago." The internet, unregulated and cheaply accessed, is the villain, and the main source of "fake news" (from publications like BAR and the 12 other leftwing sites smeared by the Washington Post, back in November, not long after Obama complained to Merkel about "fake news").

However, Obama tries to dress up his anti-internet "fake news" whine with a phony pitch for diversity of opinions. Is he suggesting that MSNBC viewers also watch Fox News, and that New York Times readers also peruse the Wall Street Journal? Is he saying that most people read a variety of daily newspapers "back in the day"? It is true that, generations ago, there were far more newspapers available to read, reflecting a somewhat wider ideological range of views. But most people read the ones that were closest to their own politics, just as now. Obama is playing his usual game of diversion. Non-corporate news is his target: "...the internet is worse. It's become more and more polarized."

The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, MSNBC and Fox News all share the "common base line of facts" that Obama cherishes. By this, he means a common narrative, with American "exceptionalism" and intrinsic goodness at the center, capitalism and democracy as synonymous, and unity in opposition to the "common" enemy: Soviet Russians; then terrorists; now non-Soviet Russians, again.

Ayanna Watkins, a senior at Chicago's Kenwood Academy High School, clearly understood Obama's emphasis, and eagerly agreed with his thrust. "When it comes to getting information about what's going on in the world, it's way faster on social media than it is on newscasts," she said.

"But, on the other hand, it can be a downfall because, what if you're passing the wrong information, or the information isn't presented the way it should be? So, that causes a clash in our generation, and I think it should go back to the old school. I mean, phones, social media should be eliminated," Ms. Watkins blurted out, provoking laughter from the audience and causing the 18-year-old to "rephrase myself."

What she really meant, she said, was that politicians should "go out to the community" so that "the community will feel more welcome."

If she was trying to agree with Obama, Ms. Watkins had it right the first time: political counter-narratives on the internet have to go, so that Americans can share a "common base line" of information. All of it lies.

Black Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

[Mar 26, 2017] The operatives of what Gore Vidal called the Property Party, (which has two right wings,) co-opted each successive movement. Lower middle class and working class people had the Koch brothers funded Tea Party pushed on them. The DNC sponsored identity groups quickly sucked all oxigen from the protest movement they represented

Notable quotes:
"... As Mr. Hudson explained in the piece, the operatives of what Gore Vidal called the Property Party, (which has two right wings,) co-opted each successive movement. Lower middle class and working class people had the Koch brothers funded Tea Party pushed on them. The DNC sponsored "identity groups" quickly sucked all originality out of the various specious "identities" so represented. On the war front, the Pentagon imposed "embedment" upon journalists. In each case, the viewpoints of the "average" person so involved were restricted to vistas guaranteed to promote the "sponsored" agenda. Thus, the present assault upon "alternative" media makes sense from a status quo perspective. It is all about control of the dialogue. ..."
"... Perez only got 235 votes; Sanders' candidate Ellison got 200. The Democratic Party establishment did not "ignore" Sanders by running Perez. They were semi-desperately trying to block him (and his cohort) from advancing on a low rung on the ladder to power. ..."
"... Wikileaks made it plain what the Democrats do to mavericks who win races without a party bit in their mouths. The corruption is institutional, it is their operatives' identity. ..."
"... The "masses of people who have dropped out of the workforce" are old, overweight, have multiple physical deficits and are hooked on at least 2 types of prescription dope. They will not be manning your nostalgia-draped barricades. Not ever. ..."
"... I agree with Hudson's critique of FIRE and the problem of debt in our society. But it is not easy to explain to the general public - which would not recognize the acronym. ..."
"... "Also, while I agree Dems are dominated by Blue Dogs who want to use Wall Street money to run Repub lite candidates in purple states, and that their appeal to identity politics is manipulative and a way to deflect from economic issues," ..."
"... " it does not logically follow that voters do not often think of themselves and their goals in terms of racism or religion or guns. Their are cultural "us v them" identities that have a powerful effect on politics." ..."
"... "We can beat them if we find common sense solutions to our problems and articulate those ideas to our neighbors. We need energy and hard work, but it is not clear that a third party is needed." ..."
"... I also agree that there is no solution, certainly not an evolutionary solution via EITHER of the two parties. ..."
"... The big changes in the USA occurred during the Great Depression as financial reform was introduced, the idea of government infrastructure could provide employment and what I believe is little mentioned, an increased awareness on the part of many that their success was not achieved solely by their own efforts. ..."
"... Many of the USA's post war corporate executives should have remembered that their families struggled during the thirties, and this may have made them more connected with their employees and communities. ..."
"... People are not sheep. We've been psyop'd senseless. "Public relations" began around the turn of the 20th century. It was ramped up by orders of magnitude after WWII. ..."
"... Gore Vidal quotes JFK as saying to him, we've entered an era in which "it is the *appearance of things that matters" ..."
"... Psychology and other social sciences have been weaponized and turned against us. With a facile understanding of the human mind (as if it were nothing but a mere mechanism), immense effort has gone into controlling the inputs in order to control the outputs (behavior). ..."
"... Newly declassified documents from the Reagan presidential library help explain how the U.S. government developed its sophisticated psychological operations capabilities that – over the past three decades – have created an alternative reality both for people in targeted countries and for American citizens, a structure that expanded U.S. influence abroad and quieted dissent at home. ..."
"... Today, "public opinion" is a Frankenstein's monster. Most of my fellow Americans believe in a world that never existed and doesn't exist right now. We can't even agree on what happened to JFK, or MLK, or what happened on 9/11/01. ..."
"... Contra UF, it's not that people are incapable of rational thought; rather, the information we have is hopelessly corrupted. People are acting rationally, but the numerators and denominators have been faked. On purpose. Or did the Russians really do it? ..."
"... It's far more simpler. Charter schools are about following the money. Public schools have seemingly huge revenue streams. Why can't GE get a cut is the thought process? For profit Healthcare was forbidden until 1973 (thanks to Teddy), why not public schools? ..."
"... The HMO Act of 1973 (thanks Teddy and Tricky Dick; bipartisanship at its finest) made it easier to start and run HMOs which faced regulatory hurdles mostly due to financing. Non profits had an easier time of it hence Hospitals named "St X" or "X General." Since the hospital were non profits and employers made deals with the hospitals, health insurance was effectively non-profit. There were gaps, mostly in rural areas. Other changes from the HMO Act of 1973 encouraged profit seeking from denial of coverage to pushing unnecessary procedures or prescriptions. ..."
"... The US Left has been controlled opposition since 1950. There was never a chance it could provide a reasonable and effective alternative. FBI/CIA moles make sure they never will. The Democrats have never been true Left FDR didn't really betray his class, he saved them from their own stupidity. ..."
"... "As Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere quipped in the 1960s, when he was accused by the US of running a one-party state, 'The United States is also a one-party state but, with typical American extravagance, they have two of them'." ..."
"... The identity politics of today lack in solidarity, too. What with Hillary Clinton running the most ageist campaign in memory, Obama breaking the record on deportations, Bill Clinton blowing racist dogwhistles as hard he can and also helping to shepherd a police state that puts Thailand to shame, and the whole of the Democratic Party stoking Russophobia and neoconservative. ..."
"... The diagnosis is mostly correct. But omits the role class bigotry and affluenza with attendant celebrity culture and pursuit of prestige plays. Thus the prognosis and protocol go astray. ..."
"... The wealthy and the politicians don't care about you/us. They care about maintaining any fiction that allows them to keep acquiring. Trump is not the problem; Mercer"s values are The Problem. Trump is the PERFECT reality TV/celebrity fantasy creature to keep the twisted Mercer chariot's wheels turning. ..."
"... Bernie was NOT The Answer. Putting on a mask of concern does not take away the sorrows of empire. As long as the blatant US militarism and imperialism continues we cannot unite the working class. Everything it needs to flourish continues - mass incarceration, join the military or stay in the ghetto, graft and corruption of military/industrial/media complex, no respect for other cultures being swarmed, consumerism. ..."
"... The jobs plan: more prison guards, border agents, munitions makers, soldiers, cops, various bodyguards for the rich and the other useful mandarins to the affluenza-stricken is set in stone. ..."
"... Michael Hudson makes great points but I am still wrestling with his (and others) push back against so-called identity politics as it pertains to this perception of it splintering or at least limiting the Democratic party. The Dems are most certainly a party committed to the ideals of neoliberalism and corporatism. They did not lose this election based on "Russian hacking/emails" and other trite nonsense. ..."
"... The Obama part of maintaining the looting of society status quo. ..."
"... The point about Trump being the US Yeltsin is one very much worth considering, if only because Russia, after much degradation and also suffering, has managed to begin to overcome those shameful and depressing times. May we do so also. ..."
"... Excellent piece. Americans have forgotten that the things they took for granted (40 hour week, humane working conditions, employer provided benefits etc.) were gained by the blood, sweat and tears of their forebears. ..."
"... The Clintons, the Obamas, the Blairs, possibly the Macrons, the Ruttes, even the Merkels of this world are wolves in sheep's clothing. They have come to represent, for increasing numbers, little better than managed decline in apparently safe hands, conducted in plain sight, in the ever narrower interests of the few. ..."
"... Regarding the subject line of the article. I'd say that the Democratic Party has been the "paid loyal opposition" for quite a while. . . meaning they are paid to loose. Given the party's ties to Wall Street and Big Pharma it's pretty clear they mostly work for the same folks that own "mainstream" Republicans so their apparent fecklessness and inability to mount ANY sort of effective opposition, even when they are in the majority, shouldn't be any surprise. ..."
Mar 26, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
ambrit, March 26, 2017 at 5:29 am

As long as the people of America had a reasonable expectation of gaining a better life, or, the next best thing, that their children would gain that better life, the Social Contract remained strong. Aspiration was both a spur to striving within the existing system, and a palliative for most discontents encountered. Where the status quo did not offer any real hope, the Civil Rights for minorities being an example, more "robust" methods were necessary, and were employed. What else is civil disobedience but counter violence against the State? Naturally, the State ramps up it's 'violence' in an attempt to quash the disaffected masses.

In this struggle, optics and expectations are crucial. As Gil Scott-Heron famously invoked; "The revolution will not be televised." Paradoxically, by ensuring the wide dissemination of images of the nascent "Revolution," activists ensured that whatever came out of the Days of Rage would not be a true revolution. The newsreels of colored people bravely enduring police oppression in the American South guaranteed that that particular issue would not be dumped down Orwell's "Memory Hole." Television footage of young American men fighting and dying in Vietnam spurred the families of those who could even potentially be drafted to go overseas to die for their country to take to the streets and vote against the war and the warmongers. Gay rights is generally considered to have begun to take form and substance after the "Stonewall Riots" in New York in 1969. See: https://www.socialistalternative.org/stonewall-riots-1969/ By "going postal," the New York gays declared loud and proud that the old way of doing business was no longer acceptable to them.

As Mr. Hudson explained in the piece, the operatives of what Gore Vidal called the Property Party, (which has two right wings,) co-opted each successive movement. Lower middle class and working class people had the Koch brothers funded Tea Party pushed on them. The DNC sponsored "identity groups" quickly sucked all originality out of the various specious "identities" so represented. On the war front, the Pentagon imposed "embedment" upon journalists. In each case, the viewpoints of the "average" person so involved were restricted to vistas guaranteed to promote the "sponsored" agenda. Thus, the present assault upon "alternative" media makes sense from a status quo perspective. It is all about control of the dialogue.

The main strength of the old style identity politics is it's ability to focus the energies of participants toward a particular goal. To that end, the concept of the "United Front" is useful. You watch my back, I'll show up at your demonstration is the operative concept. Thus, the development and widespread dissemination of images of a uniting "struggle" are needed. All of this is actually self evident. What is needed are "leaders" ready to stand up and shout it out over the rooftops.

When Paul Revere made his famous ride, he was actually stopped by British troops before he could reach either Concord or Lexington, Massachusetts. A companion, a Dr. Prescott made the actual warnings to the American rebels. Revere and Prescott were members of an extensive Patriot organization. A Doctor and an Artisan, two usually distinct social classes at the time were collaborating towards a common goal. A "United Front" made the American Revolution. See: http://www.biography.com/news/paul-reveres-ride-facts Today's struggle can proceed no differently.

Jagger , March 26, 2017 at 9:45 am

A Doctor and an Artisan, two usually distinct social classes at the time were collaborating towards a common goal

"We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately." A bit of wisdom from the mind of Ben Franklin in the early days of the revolution.

ambrit , March 26, 2017 at 11:26 am

Wonderful! Dr. Franklin would be considered a "radical" even by today's standards. "The more things change .."

steelhead23 , March 26, 2017 at 11:38 am

Let us remember, when a college student asked Rep. Nancy Pelosi whether the party might move toward a more socialistic economic system, she answered, " We're capitalists. That's just the way it is. ", and went on to support a return to noblesse oblige, completely failing to grasp the contradiction between modern neoliberal theology (maximizing shareholder return/profits) and such niceties as paying a living wage. We the left have a problem we need to attack head-on – our semantics have been demonized. Socialism is widely disparaged as subordinating individual will to the state – as tyranny – and the MSM often portrays economic downturns in social democracies (Venezuela, Argentina) as caused by foolish socialist policies, not broadscale economic issues (oil glut), or financial stupidity of prior governments (Argentina). I applaud Senator Sanders for continuing to use the moniker "social democrat" as he has done much to legitimize the word. We need more. Ich bin ein social democrat.

ambrit , March 26, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Oh yes, and I remember wondering when I first read about that "interaction," just what did Pelosi really mean by Capitalist? As someone else here remarked, she might have been confusing capitalist with corporatist in her mind.

polecat , March 26, 2017 at 6:14 pm

'Crony' capitalists is what she really meant ..

Ah the Crony California Quotient Always looking out for them and theirs' !

Gman , March 26, 2017 at 5:51 pm

Doctrinaire [adj]

seeking to impose a doctrine in all circumstances without regard to practical considerations:

1. 'Nancy Pelosi asked whether the party might move toward a more socialistic economic system, she answered, "We're capitalists. That's just the way it is."

pissed younger baby boomer , March 26, 2017 at 7:23 pm

That's why I am changing my party status to one of the socialist parties in Oregon .

DJG , March 26, 2017 at 12:35 pm

ambrit: Excellent comment. What I would add, though, is that all three of the movements that you cite had equality as a main goal: Black people wanted equality in civil rights and civil liberties. The antiwar movement drew strength from the draft, which affected people of all classes (men most directly) and led to various unequal uses of deferments that are causes of political problems to this very day. Gay folk also wanted civil rights and civil liberties (although marriage equality may not be the proper culmination–identity politics gone divergent).

A while back, I read Norberto Bobbio's influential little book, Right and Left. He states that the main motivators of leftist politics are liberty, equality, and fraternité (let's call it solidarity). And he points out that leftists usually place equality first. So to animate a new movement, we have to get back to issues of political and economic equality. The metaphor of The One Percent is a hint. That hint has to be expanded.

ambrit , March 26, 2017 at 1:35 pm

Good point. The American Revolt had it's "Committees of Correspondence." They operated outside of the MSM of the day. The Civil Rights movement early on had the black churches as sanctuaries and disseminators of the message. The anti-war movement had both the Underground press and, unwittingly, later, the MSM of the day proclaiming the problem. In general, each information spreading system used was not a part of the "Official Version" apparatus.

The point about equality is important. The unmentioned basis of Capitalism is competition. Competition implies inequality as the outcome. This is not true aspiration, but aspiration's evil twin, ambition. So, the Left's real uphill slog is going to be to frame the debate about social policy in an anti-competitive form.

Bashing the .01% is always good fun, but, as many have remarked, and the recent failed Democrat Party campaigns have demonstrated, a positive goal is needed to really motivate and engage those of us "on the ground." As earlier remarked, a "Single Payer" healthcare campaign, framed as an "equality" measure would do the trick. There are doubtless many other issues that would lend themselves to a similar treatment. Meld these issues into a "Progressive United Front" campaign and we will begin to see some movement.

In essence, as the earlier socialist and communist thinkers proclaimed, the ownership of the means of production are a good place to start. Given the unequal distribution of such ownership however, the next best thing would be the control of the distribution of the fruits of production; especially germaine with the rise of automation.

It's time to make "We the People" great.

DJG , March 26, 2017 at 3:06 pm

ambrit: Agreed, again. And time for some poetry, too:

Langston Hughes

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/let-america-be-america-again

Note "equality" front and center in his prophetic vision.

ambrit , March 26, 2017 at 3:19 pm

I also see the dream ahead of him, beckoning, beguiling, beatifying despite the false realities around him.
Something to believe in will generally trump something to be fearful of, in the hearts of men.

marym , March 26, 2017 at 2:07 pm

Great comment and resulting discussion.

IMO there's not a practical electoral solution, in the sense of electing a bunch of candidates at multiple levels of government to unwind or replace all the laws, regulations/lack of regulations, court decisions, and algorithms that misgovern our lives and misappropriate our wealth.

Building on your comment ambrit@5:29 and Ulysses@8:38:

A – No more than 3 universal issues (Medicare for All; publicly funded tuition for post-secondary education, training, and apprenticeships; end the wars, for example). Medicare for All is part of the discussion now and should have a prominent place.

B – Activism continues, as it must and will, in other areas: issues of survival (police violence, incarceration, homelessness and hunger; minimum wage ); support for activism across issues (Food not Bombs, ACLU and NLG, Light Brigades, local jail and bail support ); and forward-looking activism (local sustainable food and energy solutions, workplace and community coops ).

C – Electoral politics that functions as the political arm of the movement for "A" and locally appropriate subsets of "B" issues. In practical term, this may need to be an insurgency in the Dem ranks, or more organized Greens, plus coordination with other "third" parties that have a presence and ballot access in some places.

Then we work on ambrit's:

"You watch my back, I'll show up at your demonstration"

Adding: "We recruit candidates who understand your issues and have policy proposals to address them, you show up to vote".

DJG , March 26, 2017 at 3:10 pm

marym: Excellent comment.

I can't find much on the Light Brigades. Who are they?

And my issues at the universal level would be health care for all (with minimal fees and premiums), free education for all, an end to the endless wars, and, if I may have a fourth, expansion of Social Security with some big raises to recipients to give people a base income that they can retire on (or safely go into disability retirement). The money is there for all of these, but the political will consists of the likes of Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi.

Yes: You watch my back, and I'll watch your back. But "back" is defined broadly–we are all in this together.

Ancient 1 , March 26, 2017 at 10:25 pm

Good Comment. What bothers me is there is a lot of conversation about all our issues and proposed solutions, but I see no actions taking place. There are no leaders on the national level, other than Senator Sanders. We need a Socialist Huey Long with a big horn and perhaps a little action like, Act Up" to get things moving. There is going to be a revolt sooner or later. It will get to a point where ordinary people, especially our young, who will not take it anymore.

PH , March 26, 2017 at 5:58 am

Love Hudson, but no one is right about everything.

He accepts as an article of faith that it would be easier to start a new party than win primaries in Dem party. Not clear at all.

Also, while I agree Dems are dominated by Blue Dogs who want to use Wall Street money to run Repub lite candidates in purple states, and that their appeal to identity politics is manipulative and a way to deflect from economic issues, it does not logically follow that voters do not often think of themselves and their goals in terms of racism or religion or guns. Their are cultural "us v them" identities that have a powerful effect on politics.

I agree with Hudson's critique of FIRE and the problem of debt in our society. But it is not easy to explain to the general public - which would not recognize the acronym. And what exactly is the Hudson platform to address debt or FIRE now? I understand the argument (as I understand it) that 2009 was an opportunity to use bankruptcy of Wall Street to break up economic olarchy and write down debt for homeowners. I agree. I am angry and frustrated by the lost opportunity. I also understand the sly reference to having to wait for the next crisis to get another chance. Why do we have to wait? This is Hudson's concession that there is no general understanding of the debt problem or support for Willy-Nilly support for dismantling Wall Street or existing debt relationships.

I am convinced by Hudson that rising housing prices are a scam for loading debt on people and raising the burden of a rentier class. But most people who own houses are excited when you tell them housing prices are going up. What exactly should be our political message.

Some districts have strong evangelical communities and find abortion to be the top issue year in andvyear out. Some evangelicals stuck with Trump in the hope of a Supreme Court that will outlaw abortion. How to Dems or a new Hudson party win in those districts?

Politics is a fluid business. Forget coalition building (extremely tough), even finding a message for one voter (who may be of 2 or 3. Or 4 minds about the world, and change views daily, is tough.

In my view, a Progressive majority must be put together piece by piece, place by place, from the ground up. Bernie articulated a place to start. The Schumer crowd own the Dems now, but it is a fragile hold. We can beat them if we find common sense solutions to our problems and articulate those ideas to our neighbors. We need energy and hard work, but it is not clear that a third party is needed.

Carolinian , March 26, 2017 at 9:44 am

Why do we have to wait?

Because we have a political system–from the Fed to the Congress to the media–that is designed to keep current arrangements in place. Public complacency has allowed this to happen and now only another systemic breakdown is likely to force change on an entrenched elite and confused electorate. One might hope that the Democratic party would be the necessary force for reform but it's surely clear by now that its leadership intends to go down with the ship. Time for the rest of us to pile into the lifeboats (a third party). And even if one believes there is hope for the Dems, it's unlikely they will change without some serious threat to their power and that would be a viable third party. For much of the country's history there were lots of third parties and splinter movements which is what one would expect from such a diverse population. The duopoly is a very artificial arrangement.

Sanders should never have taken this third party threat off the table and it is why the Dem leadership doesn't take him seriously. It's also a reason for some of the rest of us to question his seriousness. "Don't want to be the Nader" isn't the sort of call to arms that has one putting up the Che posters.

Carolinian , March 26, 2017 at 11:40 am

Did Bernie have a big impact? The mainstream media mostly ignore him and the Dems go out of their way to ignore him by running Perez. And didn't the Bernie endorsed primary challengers in the last cycle do poorly?

You will only get the elites' attention by threatening their power, not their message. Obviously establishing a viable third party is extremely difficult which is why I agree with Hudson that it will take the next crisis to change things. Incrementalism has been shown not to work.

FluffytheObeseCat , March 26, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Perez only got 235 votes; Sanders' candidate Ellison got 200. The Democratic Party establishment did not "ignore" Sanders by running Perez. They were semi-desperately trying to block him (and his cohort) from advancing on a low rung on the ladder to power.

Primary challenges across the nation, in every city council and state assembly race. Again and again. Then on to the governorships and federal offices. This is the swiftest, least expensive and least damaging way to power for Sanders partisan. We could take over the party in under ten years if this tactic were widely deployed.

barefoot charley , March 26, 2017 at 1:32 pm

Wikileaks made it plain what the Democrats do to mavericks who win races without a party bit in their mouths. The corruption is institutional, it is their operatives' identity. A successful third party will be very difficult to achieve, but is perhaps possible. A useful Democratic party is not possible until every careerist is unemployed–ie until their employers run out of money. That can't come about, as long as there are empowered Democrats and Republicans.

Jeff W , March 26, 2017 at 4:16 pm

FluffytheObeseCat

Primary challenges across the nation, in every city council and state assembly race. Again and again. Then on to the governorships and federal offices. This is the swiftest, least expensive and least damaging way to power for Sanders partisan. We could take over the party in under ten years if this tactic were widely deployed.

I agree with this statement.

And it's happening: various groups (Our Revolution, Brand New Congress, Justice Democrats, and probably others) are planning primary challengers in just that way. And it's already happened at the local and district level in California. It's a different political environment than even just a few years ago and it will be even still more different when some (or, let's hope, many) of these candidates start winning.

Norb , March 26, 2017 at 9:48 am

The real problem is corporatism. The power to make decisions on public policy has been transferred from democratic government to corporations, run by oligarchs. Both political parties in the US are committed to this political arrangement. The thin veneer of democracy is used to check public dissatisfaction. In short order, even this facade will be deemed unnecessary and discarded. This consolidation of power was enabled by masking class consciousness. Worker aspirations mirror their corporate masters. Life consists of maximizing personal wealth in the form of money and possessions. Mass media provides the conduit to achieve this conditioning.

Trying to rebuild the Democratic party form within is a waste of energy and time that most citizens don't have. If anything, the existing political establishment has perfected the techniques and tools needed to make dissent impotent. This is largely accomplished by perpetuating the myth that change can occur by working within the existing system, and then undermining effective policy that would focus on worker interests. The chumps get scraps.

In the end, oligarchy is the cost that must be paid for our modern life of convenience and endless entertainment. Moving forward must be about rejection. Rejection of the current social and cultural order. A new party, a true workers party, is needed to restore equilibrium to the existing power imbalance. The mass of people who have dropped out of the workforce and electoral system are waiting for leadership to offer a better vision for the future. This vision is not forthcoming because the human imagination must turn outside the existing failed norms and seek new horizons removed from capitalist ideology. Political power follows or grows naturally from a social order, not the other way around. Imposed social orders are always unstable and need violence to maintain. A way of life determines the political possibilities. This is why those wanting change must always work outside the existing system, both mentally and physically.

Just as crony capitalist ideology turned the notion of individual freedom on its head to justify the greatest inequality known to human societies, the remedy centers on the rejection of exploitive violence. It is based on preservation, regeneration, and a spiritual awareness that one must give back to the world and not only take from it. To my mind, coalitions built on these principles stretch across all social groups. Spending time, money, and energy building these networks and infrastructure will be productive and longer lasting. Strikes, boycotts, and dropping out of the existing system sends a much more powerful message to the oligarchs. They will respond with violence, but then their true nature is open for all to see, making it easier for others to reject their ideology.

Capitalism was born of Feudalism. Individual rights superseding the rights of Kings. Nothing lasts forever. A post- capitalist world must be first envisioned and then articulated. Capitalism maintained the inequality and hierarchical use of violence of the previous system. This relationship forms most of the underlying root causes of intractable problems faced today. Egalitarianism provides a way and an alternative. Socialist ideas can be suppressed but never eradicated. Human social evolution points in this direction. Slavery will never return. The human spirt will not allow it.

two beers , March 26, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Your note has a 1930s sound to me. Spain, maybe.

What a cavalier and condescending dismissal. With an arrogant wave of the hand, history goes *poof*. And though you "agree" (how generous of you!) )with some of the symptoms Hudson identifies, you categorically deny what he identifies as the root systemic cause of those ills. Instead, a little modest, cautious, sensible, "piece by piece", "place by place" reform around the edges, and everything will work out just fine in its own time, because abortion.

You are an exemplary and model Democrat, and Exhibit A why left politics will never emerge from within the Democrat Party.

jrs , March 26, 2017 at 2:28 pm

although it may be an uphill climb now, striking and unionizing still sounds infinitely less pie in the sky and far more brass tacks and addressing some of the actual problems, than creating a 3rd party in the U.S.. If that is one's solution they have no right to criticize anyone on their proposals not being practical. At least striking has some history of actually working.

Norb , March 26, 2017 at 3:37 pm

It is the participation in our own destruction that I am trying to express and get my head around. Engagement by all means, but somehow the rules need to be changed.

The amount of time, energy, and resources needed to engage in effective politics today is prohibitive to most citizens. What Hudson is saying is that the two party system in America is broken and the only way forward is to start anew. I would tend to agree. In my lifetime, the Democratic party has been reforming for close to 40 years now. That is a long time to be ineffectual concerning worker's interests. The long dissent of the American workforce is reaching critical mass and some radical thinking and action is needed.

The left needs to develop some productive alternatives, which again Hudson points out. An egalitarian alternative needs to be articulated. Candidates running for office as socialists, espousing actual socialist ideals. Win or loose, speaking in public about socialist ideals can only help. Government sponsorship of small business and cooperatives over monopolistic corporations. Actually running and building sustainable communities. As was stated in comments, Sanders raised upwards of 240 million dollars during the last campaign. What is there to show for all that effort and resource depletion?

An actual show of distain for the elite ruling class for their crass barbarism and masked cruelty is a start. Followed by actually building something of lasting value.

FluffytheObeseCat , March 26, 2017 at 12:39 pm

The "masses of people who have dropped out of the workforce" are old, overweight, have multiple physical deficits and are hooked on at least 2 types of prescription dope. They will not be manning your nostalgia-draped barricades. Not ever.

jrs , March 26, 2017 at 2:34 pm

alrighty, everyone who can't get a job is overweight and a drug addict and unhealthy etc.. Get real. Old sometimes has something to do with it, just because companies do age discriminate in hiring.

tegnost , March 26, 2017 at 10:04 am

I agree with Hudson's critique of FIRE and the problem of debt in our society. But it is not easy to explain to the general public - which would not recognize the acronym.

People are not a miniscule fraction as stupid as you think they are, and I will posit that this is one of, if not the main problem with democrat loyalists such as yourself.

first you say this

"Also, while I agree Dems are dominated by Blue Dogs who want to use Wall Street money to run Repub lite candidates in purple states, and that their appeal to identity politics is manipulative and a way to deflect from economic issues,"

shorter, I realize democrats don't represent you, and that's too bad but you have no other option and PH doesn't want you to have another option.
followed by

" it does not logically follow that voters do not often think of themselves and their goals in terms of racism or religion or guns. Their are cultural "us v them" identities that have a powerful effect on politics."

Is this unmoored jab at rural identity not a double negative that can be rephrased "it logically follows that voters think of themselves in terms of racism or religion or guns"? and isn't that just another way of saying people are stupid and you are not because you can hide your class and race bias behind a double negative, and people being stupider than you will never know it because clever, but clever ain't working anymore, and isn't likely to start working any time soon.

You close with a call for incrementalism yeah that's worked really great for all of us in the hoi polloi, and you don't fail to mention abortion, the only democrat platform, and schumer et al's "fragile grip" is in reality an "iron law of institutions" grip and they and you are not going to let go.

"We can beat them if we find common sense solutions to our problems and articulate those ideas to our neighbors. We need energy and hard work, but it is not clear that a third party is needed."

so who is this "we" kemo sabe? I am in the veal pen. Come into the veal pen with me. We will be in the veal pen thanks but no thanks. I've had plenty of common sense discussions with my neighbors, and it's depressing as we all know none of those sensible policies will be enacted by the useless to the common citizen and enabler to the criminals on wall street democrat party, rotten to it's core.

Paul Greenwood , March 26, 2017 at 6:20 am

Федеральное агентство по управлению государственным имуществом (Росимущество) was what created Oligarchs under Yeltsin. It was headed by Chubais who helped make Khordorovsky and the rest of the Oligarchs incredibly rich. He then headed the 1996 Re-Election Campaign for Unpopular Yeltsin and bought victory and sold off State assets for nugatory worth.

Khordorovsky was to deliver Yukos to Exxon and let US interests control Russia's natural resources. Berezhovsky needed a "roof" – he had Chechens protecting his outside interests but once Yeltsin's liver gave out the KGB Siloviki would put The Family on trial so he found Putin as a Lieut-Col. with a background in St Petersburg where Chubais had been active for Sobchak also. Putin was the "roof" to keep the KGB from executing the looters for treason.

Like a new Tsar with Boyars, Putin had to find which were his "Oligarchs" and Berezhovsky turned his assets over to Abramovich who is Putin's man. Chubais now sits on CFR and JP Morgan Board for his good works.

jackiebass , March 26, 2017 at 6:56 am

Trump won on the slogan Make America Great. I live in upstate NY which is strong republican. These people thought the slogan meant great for them. That coupled with a bitter hate of Clinton made it easy for Trump to get their vote. A sad thing is that these voters are very uninformed and depend on what they know from corporate media especially FOX news. None of them know what Neoliberal means and that the root of their problems lie with neoliberal policies.

When I tell them that Obama and Cuomo aren't really democrats but moderate republicans they think I'm out of my mind. I tend to look at thing objectively based on verifiable facts.Most of these voters look at issues in an emotional way. They will say Obamacare is bad and need to be repealed. When you ask them how it's bad the best they can come up with is it forces you to buy insurance and you can't keep your own doctor. I guess what I'm saying is that the average voter is too lazy to get informed and relies on the political propaganda fed to them.

At 75 years old I don't see that the immediate future will change much. The only hope I see is in the young of our country. Unless someone or a movement can educate them about the evils that are destroying their future, democracy is dead. Because of how the economy is structured the economic future for most of the population is grim. They will not be able to afford to retire and will live in poverty. Perhaps this will wake them up. Unfortunately it will be too late for them.

UserFriendly , March 26, 2017 at 8:03 am

People are all sheep. No one thinks, they just vote based on emotions. I have never seen that more blatantly laid bare then in this one article.

HOW HIGH-END STUDENT COMPLEXES CREATED THE MOST GOP PRECINCT IN LEON COUNTY

Which ties in nicely with the slate star codex piece from yesterday.
GUIDED BY THE BEAUTY OF OUR WEAPONS

At best we can work at the margin on the handful of people that are capable of rational thought. Which is why nothing ever changes, appeals to emotion are always more potent than appeals to reason. There is no solution.

John Wright , March 26, 2017 at 9:45 am

I also agree that there is no solution, certainly not an evolutionary solution via EITHER of the two parties.

The big changes in the USA occurred during the Great Depression as financial reform was introduced, the idea of government infrastructure could provide employment and what I believe is little mentioned, an increased awareness on the part of many that their success was not achieved solely by their own efforts.

Many of the USA's post war corporate executives should have remembered that their families struggled during the thirties, and this may have made them more connected with their employees and communities.

Now we have a government of the internally connected top 10%, with the bottom 90% detached and watching from outside.

And CEO's and the executive class have loyalty only to their company's stock price.

The recent rehabilitation of serial screw-up George W. Bush and attempted elevation of serial screw-up Hillary Clinton is direct evidence that the political class does not care how much harm they do to the "deplorable" voters they appeal to every 2/4/6 years.

With the money sloshing around DC and the media control of content, how does one replace the leadership of both parties with more progressive people in any reasonable time frame?

Per Mark Blyth, Global Trumpism is the current response, but what will this morph into after Global Trumpism hangover manifests?.

sundayafternoon , March 26, 2017 at 10:57 am

I think although it may seem that only a small percent of the population is capable of rational thought I think this is actually not the case and its more productive (and optomistic) to think of this issue in terms of a behaviour rather than a fixed capability, like how some ancient Greek philosophers thought about moral behaviour or how some modern phychologists think about psychopathy. Almost everyone is capable of rational thought (or moral or psychopathitic behaviour) but its how often or more precisly in what situations an individual decides to engage in or deploy rational thought.

jrs , March 26, 2017 at 2:40 pm

Capable of rational thought really doesn't do much good for all the things one has no exposure to. Ok in this case they may have little real understanding of say leftists ideas. And I really think they don't. That may not be the case for the political junkies here for political ideas, but we all have our areas of things (not politics) we may have a similar stupidity about.

Katharine , March 26, 2017 at 11:23 am

Sorry, but I think that's way too disrespectful of other people and not realistic. All, save those with extreme mental disabilities, are capable of some degree of rational thought. That doesn't mean they can be quickly or easily convinced, but they will be more amenable to persuasion if you approach them as equals and open your mind to their reality in order to find the right terms with which to present your ideas. Bernie has shown himself to be very good at that, as are all good teachers. Those who insist on framing everything in their own terms without adapting their communication to another's experience will always get blank stares.

knowbuddhau , March 26, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Well said, Katharine.

Dehumanizing ("people are sheep") and dismissing our neighbors as incapable of rational (good?) thinking will get us nowhere. Like I've said, the propaganda is working when we're dividing and conquering ourselves. That horrid little word often seen in this context, "sheeple," is just another word for "deplorables."

People are not sheep. We've been psyop'd senseless. "Public relations" began around the turn of the 20th century. It was ramped up by orders of magnitude after WWII.

Gore Vidal quotes JFK as saying to him, we've entered an era in which "it is the *appearance of things that matters" (emphasis original in the TRNN video, The National Security State with Gore Vidal ). Psychology and other social sciences have been weaponized and turned against us. With a facile understanding of the human mind (as if it were nothing but a mere mechanism), immense effort has gone into controlling the inputs in order to control the outputs (behavior).

From How US Flooded the World with Psyops

Newly declassified documents from the Reagan presidential library help explain how the U.S. government developed its sophisticated psychological operations capabilities that – over the past three decades – have created an alternative reality both for people in targeted countries and for American citizens, a structure that expanded U.S. influence abroad and quieted dissent at home.

Today, "public opinion" is a Frankenstein's monster. Most of my fellow Americans believe in a world that never existed and doesn't exist right now. We can't even agree on what happened to JFK, or MLK, or what happened on 9/11/01.

Contra UF, it's not that people are incapable of rational thought; rather, the information we have is hopelessly corrupted. People are acting rationally, but the numerators and denominators have been faked. On purpose. Or did the Russians really do it?

Once again, TPTB thought they had found a magic method of machining people into permanent compliance. But they neglected the fact that relying on psyops drives people crazy. You just can't keep rejecting real reality and substituting a manufactured Narrative (looking at you, NYT) forever.

ISTM we're acting without sufficient contact with reality. The effort to control the population, the better to exploit us, has driven many of us mad. Neglecting the century or so of effort that's gone into manufacturing consent leads to blaming the victims.

Propagandists and PSYOPeratives have put out the people's eyes, and you berate them for their blindness?

sundayafternoon , March 26, 2017 at 7:23 pm

While I would absolutely agree with everything you've just said and believe the facts you've cited are the main reason for the bleak outlook for our species, how the myriad of lies fed to the population is received is a more complex process than just plain deception. People are incredibly complex and operate on a number of levels simultaneously. For instance the notion that universal health care or a strong union would be personally beneficial, or that the banking system is corrupt and that all the wars since 1945 have been unnecessary must be known to anyone with functioning eyes and ears on a relatively conscious level, but the majority have chosen to effectively overlook this reality I believe for reasons that ultimately feed in to human predispositions for conformity. It's ironic that our evolutionary highly successful nature of collectivism is now working against us as a species and leading to a destructive subservience that is almost sadomasochistic. If the population were to be unequivocally presented with reality I doubt many would tolerate the state we have now but conversely this would mean that the elite in our society had sanctioned truthfulness, so we would not really be going against the wishes of the powerful. Basically the fact that the powerful in our society have presented us with lies means lies are what they want us to believe, so dutifully most will oblige, however obviously at odds with reality those lies are.

Why such an overwhelming percent of the population do not vote in their own economic interest is because political affiliations seem to be a complex expression of self-identity, something which includes attitudes, social prejudices and 'beliefs' that are dependent on complex emotional interactions between internal and external events, and can include for instance a desire for status within your tribe, family loyalty, even sadistic impulses. I;m probably wrong about most of this but part of me cant help feeling some of the victims share a little of the blame

knowbuddhau , March 26, 2017 at 9:23 pm

>> For instance the notion that universal health care or a strong union would be personally beneficial, or that the banking system is corrupt and that all the wars since 1945 have been unnecessary must be known to anyone with functioning eyes and ears on a relatively conscious level, but the majority have chosen to effectively overlook this reality I believe for reasons that ultimately feed in to human predispositions for conformity.

You're projecting your knowledge and views, and then blaming people who don't see things your way. A majority supports single payer, yes, but the rest is wishful thinking.

If you read Zinn's A People's History of the US, you'll see that even WWII was a manufactured war. I'm willing to bet a majority still thinks we were attacked out of the blue on Pearl Harbor Day, despite FDR's plan to provoke Japan. Or that incinerating Nagasaki and Hiroshima ended the war and saved tens of thousands of US lives. There was an almost perfectly complete news blackout on the aftermath specifically so that opposition to the bombings couldn't form. There are endless examples like this.

We're not told what we need to know to govern ourselves. What we are told amounts to propaganda, sometimes explicitly so.

Yes, a lot of people have drunk the koolaid, some with gusto. Who's pouring it? You can blame the victims all you like. I blame the people who've deliberately set out to deceive us.

What our deluded brothers and sisters need is our compassion. It's hard to have compassion for someone trying to run you over for exercising your rights (been there, done that), but no one ever said it would be easy.

Kokuanani , March 26, 2017 at 7:55 am

The only hope I see is in the young of our country.

I think Trump, the Repubs and most of the Dems see that too. That's why they've promoted DeVos, Arnie Duncan, and all the other advocates of "charter schools," strangled public education, and attacked teachers.

UserFriendly , March 26, 2017 at 8:05 am

and decided college was a great opportunity to make debt slaves ...

Deadl E Cheese , March 26, 2017 at 8:56 am

The problem with this approach is that all this does is kill off liberal cosmopolitanism, not Marxism. Marxism doesn't need a widespread secondarily-educated population to spread. And it definitely does not need liberal cosmopolitanism as a stepping stone; quite the opposite, really. Just in the US, when the wobblies and Black Panthers started turning red, how many of their rank and file went to college or even finished high school?

Considering that the elites are using liberal cosmopolitanism to strangle Marxism (class-only Marxists want to throw women and nonwhites under the bus to get their single-payer and you, the woke liberal identitarian, must support capitalism to protect the marginalized), this strategy is not only pointless but it's also self-defeating.

NotTimothyGeithner , March 26, 2017 at 9:35 am

It's far more simpler. Charter schools are about following the money. Public schools have seemingly huge revenue streams. Why can't GE get a cut is the thought process? For profit Healthcare was forbidden until 1973 (thanks to Teddy), why not public schools?

NotTimothyGeithner , March 26, 2017 at 11:45 am

The HMO Act of 1973 (thanks Teddy and Tricky Dick; bipartisanship at its finest) made it easier to start and run HMOs which faced regulatory hurdles mostly due to financing. Non profits had an easier time of it hence Hospitals named "St X" or "X General." Since the hospital were non profits and employers made deals with the hospitals, health insurance was effectively non-profit. There were gaps, mostly in rural areas. Other changes from the HMO Act of 1973 encouraged profit seeking from denial of coverage to pushing unnecessary procedures or prescriptions.

There is a noticeable correlation between this act and the explosion of Healthcare costs. The Miller Center had a series on Nixon expressing doubts to the Kaiser about HMOs. The arguments played out just like charter schools today.

philnc , March 26, 2017 at 4:14 pm

I recall hearing the tape of a conversation among Nixon and his aides regarding HMOs. The audio, like most of the Johnson & Nixon tapes, was poor, but what did come through was Nixon's support for Kaiser's business model, summed up by Erlichman as, "the less care they give them, the more money they make."

https://millercenter.org/the-presidency/educational-resources/all-the-incentives-are-toward-less-medical-care

Huey Long , March 26, 2017 at 11:49 am

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_Maintenance_Organization_Act_of_1973

Disturbed Voter , March 26, 2017 at 8:39 am

The US Left has been controlled opposition since 1950. There was never a chance it could provide a reasonable and effective alternative. FBI/CIA moles make sure they never will. The Democrats have never been true Left FDR didn't really betray his class, he saved them from their own stupidity.

Randall Stephens , March 26, 2017 at 9:42 am

"As Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere quipped in the 1960s, when he was accused by the US of running a one-party state, 'The United States is also a one-party state but, with typical American extravagance, they have two of them'."

OK, that made me laugh out loud.

Arizona Slim , March 26, 2017 at 10:07 am

I seem to recall that the identity politics of yore were lacking in solidarity. The antiwar protestors, some of whom were hippies, were beaten up by working class union members. Remember the hard hat riots? And the African American leadership of the Civil Rights era? Well, they were from the black churches​, and they thought that the hippies were uncouth.

Deadl E Cheese , March 26, 2017 at 10:13 am

The identity politics of today lack in solidarity, too. What with Hillary Clinton running the most ageist campaign in memory, Obama breaking the record on deportations, Bill Clinton blowing racist dogwhistles as hard he can and also helping to shepherd a police state that puts Thailand to shame, and the whole of the Democratic Party stoking Russophobia and neoconservative.

A cynic might say that liberal identity politics (as opposed to post-Frankfurt/Focault Marxist identity politics) was intentionally designed to do these things both in the 60-70s and now.

And I am that cynic.

Kukulkan , March 26, 2017 at 10:30 am

I don't see how antiwar protestors qualify as identity politics, since the group is defined by a policy concern, not by some quasi-biological tag. Same with working class union members; policy and economic interests, not tags.

I'd say the same about the African American leadership of the Civil Rights era, even though they did generally share the tag of being "black". They focused on a policy goal and welcomed those who didn't share the tag to participate in the struggle.

Identity politics are not the same thing as left-wing or progressive or liberal (or whatever you want to call it) politics. In very real sense, Identity politics are a form of anti-politics since they don't address interests, policy or allow any form of accommodation or reconciliation of different points of view.

Identity politics is about tags. Non-identity politics is about interests and policies.

Kukulkan , March 26, 2017 at 4:25 pm

But the focus is on the policy issues. The campaign for gay marriage was about getting gay marriage, not about being gay. And anyone who supported gay marriage was a part of that campaign - gay, straight, black, white, male, female; all the tags. It may have started with those who were gay, but it wasn't exclusive to the tag.

By contrast, Hillary's campaign was just about the tags. Not doing anything for those with the tags, or changing any policies, no matter how they affected various tags, or even addressing any issues that are important to one or more of the tags, just acknowledging the tags and verbally supporting pride in them. That's why even a bunch of people possessing the tags didn't support her: there was nothing there for them, or, indeed, anyone else outside the financial and imperial elite.

NotTimothyGeithner , March 26, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Abernathy and King were from black churches. The rest of the leadership came from the street or universities. King's lament about the "white moderate" was code for the "black church." Ministers were glorified house slaves and liked the big houses. Jim Crow worked for black ministers. If better of blacks moved to white neighborhoods and more importantly white churches, who would put money in the collection plate?

With the exception of Jackson when he showed up (he was young), those young black men who were always around King were Communists and atheists. They didn't broadcast it for obvious reasons, but a guy like Malcolm X was skeptical of King for real reasons.

Jackson was important because he forced the black churches to get with the program. If there was a minister successor to King, the congregants might ask questions about their own ministers.

The black church hated hippies, but the real civil rights leadership didn't.

SumiDreamer , March 26, 2017 at 10:10 am

The diagnosis is mostly correct. But omits the role class bigotry and affluenza with attendant celebrity culture and pursuit of prestige plays. Thus the prognosis and protocol go astray.

The wealthy and the politicians don't care about you/us. They care about maintaining any fiction that allows them to keep acquiring. Trump is not the problem; Mercer"s values are The Problem. Trump is the PERFECT reality TV/celebrity fantasy creature to keep the twisted Mercer chariot's wheels turning.

Bernie was NOT The Answer. Putting on a mask of concern does not take away the sorrows of empire. As long as the blatant US militarism and imperialism continues we cannot unite the working class. Everything it needs to flourish continues - mass incarceration, join the military or stay in the ghetto, graft and corruption of military/industrial/media complex, no respect for other cultures being swarmed, consumerism.

Bernie picked up Occupy"s talking points (good plagarist!) but left the hurdle of recognizing plutocracy the same as Occupy did. Plutocracy is democratic as well it just usnt!

What is there to show for 200 million in donations to overcome the Third Way? A new minuet with the crushing DemocRATic "party".

The war has come home. First step is to admit it. Consistency in VALUES is the left"s primary directive. There needs to be funerals for both parties not more illusion.

The tax break "fight" will be hilarious. Another example of how our rulers cannot solve a single problem .

The jobs plan: more prison guards, border agents, munitions makers, soldiers, cops, various bodyguards for the rich and the other useful mandarins to the affluenza-stricken is set in stone.

You cannot heal a chronic disease without seeing the entirety of its degenerative properties. We're fighting a nasty virus.

Mac na Michomhairle , March 26, 2017 at 12:34 pm

Bernie did not plagiarize Occupy. He had been saying the same things in Vermont for 25 years, but saying them in ways that lots of very various people connected with.

20 years ago, Bernie lawn signs used to be run over by irate people who knew he was a no-good dirty Socialist. But because he has consistently framed issues in terms of ordinary people's lives and because he has always been absolutely honest and forthright, most of those people who flattened the signs now like and respect him and vote for him. They also pay attention to issues that only no-good dirty Socialists do in most other states.

Denis Drew , March 26, 2017 at 10:20 am

"a revived protection of labor's right to unionize"

Do this and everything else will follow - don't do this and nothing will ever follow.

"It seems that only a new party can achieve these aims."

Don't depend on right or left parties. Depend on yourselves: rebuild American union density (6% unions in private economy analogous to 20/10 BP - starves every other healthy process). Both parties will come begging to your door.

Here's how to "do this":

[snip]
80 years ago Congress forgot to put criminal enforcement in the NLRA(a). Had union busting been a felony all along we would be like Germany today. Maybe at some point our progressives might note that collective bargaining is the T-Rex in the room - or the missing T-Rex .

The money is there for $20 jobs. 49 years - and half the per capita income ago - the fed min wage was $11. Since then the bottom 45% went from 20% overall income share to 10% - while the top 1% went from 10% to 20%.

How to get it - how to get collective bargaining set up? States can make union busting a felony without worrying about so-called federal preemption:

+ a state law sanctioning wholesalers, for instance, using market power to block small retail establishments from combining their bargaining power could be the same one that makes union busting a felony - overlap like min wage laws - especially since on crim penalties the fed has left nothing to overlap since 1935;

+ First Amendment right to collectively bargain cannot be forced by the fed down (the current) impassable road. Double ditto for FedEx employees who have to hurdle the whole-nation-at-once certification election barrier;

+ for contrast, examples of state infringement on federal preemption might be a state finding of union busting leading to a mandate for an election under the fed setup - or any state certification setup for labor already covered by NLRA(a) or RLA(a). (Okay for excluded farm workers.)
[snip]

PhilipL , March 26, 2017 at 11:14 am

Michael Hudson makes great points but I am still wrestling with his (and others) push back against so-called identity politics as it pertains to this perception of it splintering or at least limiting the Democratic party. The Dems are most certainly a party committed to the ideals of neoliberalism and corporatism. They did not lose this election based on "Russian hacking/emails" and other trite nonsense.

Nor did they lose it by appealing to so-called identity politics or tribalism. If the Left is going to move forward effectively it can't pretend we are merely having class and by extension economic arguments. Race is the thru line and has consistently been since the countries inception. Many things cited i.e. the New Deal, pro-Union policy, etc are standard bearers on the Left but have also been rife with racist treatment of potential Black and Latino allies. Why would that be ignored if we are only having conversations of class? Class does not explain redlining which has economic and social implications.

Access to universal healthcare is great and should be a goal but what does one do when the practice of medicine is still effected by race based/racial administration –> https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/aug/10/black-patients-bias-prescriptions-pain-management-medicine-opioids

Acces to higher education and supposedly higher paying job with more opportunities is also great but that access is still shielded by exclusion that again is race based –> https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/05/african-americans-with-college-degrees-are-twice-as-likely-to-be-unemployed-as-other-graduates/430971/

These are complex issues, but they are not as class focused (solely) as many on the Left would like to believe. Our failure to speak honestly and openly about it and critique capitalism and its most malevolent (and seductive form neoliberalism) as being tied to the practice and idea of white supremacy is why we ultimately will find it more and more challenging to wage a successful countermovement against it.

Scylla , March 26, 2017 at 5:19 pm

Wow. Ok, so since racial bias was written into past economic policy that was intended to address class issues, addressing class based inequality should just be abandoned?

How about just demanding policy that addresses class based inequality simply be written without the racial bias? Why is this so difficult to get into the minds of liberals? This is not that hard.

Jason Boxman , March 26, 2017 at 11:21 am

The refusal to recognize is a nice idea. I've often thought of late that Democrats, or at least the Left, should refuse to recognize Trump's horrible cabinet appointments, even if the delegitimizing effect is minimal. Just referring to these people at citizen or whatever rather than secretary would be some small repudiation, at least.

Mel , March 26, 2017 at 12:22 pm

There's a very long and comprehensive musing on politics and public dialog at slatestarcodex. My takeaway: if your dialog is weaponized, if you consider your mission to be "How do I force these people to admit that I'm right?" then you'll keep seeing the same results we see now.

Tim , March 26, 2017 at 12:48 pm

Been saying #TrumpIsObamaLegacy since early morning in November. Yves was WAAAAY ahead of the curve back in late 08 calling that out. The Obama part of maintaining the looting of society status quo.

juliania , March 26, 2017 at 1:14 pm

The point about Trump being the US Yeltsin is one very much worth considering, if only because Russia, after much degradation and also suffering, has managed to begin to overcome those shameful and depressing times. May we do so also.

Blue Pilgrim , March 26, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Actually, his latest book is J is For Junk Economics
http://michael-hudson.com/2017/02/j-is-for-junk-economics-a-guide-to-reality-in-an-age-of-deception/

John k , March 26, 2017 at 1:51 pm

Great summary, forwarding to friends.
As commented above, progressive candidates that Bernie backed did not do well. Neolib always willing to boost funding for any candidate of any party if primary challenged by a progressive. Takeover of state party machinery e.g. Ca did have some success, but pretty slow.

Third party seems both the only way and imo more doable than many think unlike in the past, electorate is now desperate for real change. Third party impossible until probable. IMO we are now at just such a point.

But neolib will fight tooth and nail to keep a progressive party off the ballot....

Vatch , March 26, 2017 at 6:35 pm

progressive candidates that Bernie backed did not do well.

I'm not so sure about that. Here's the list of candidates backed by Our Revolution (not precisely the same as Sanders, but close). I didn't bother to do an exact count, but it appears that the winners exceed the losers by about 6 to 5.

https://ourrevolution.com/election-2016/

The Republicans control a majority of the state legislatures, governorships, and both houses of Congress. Compared to the establishment Democratic Party as a whole, the Sanders people in Our Revolution are doing pretty well. A new party isn't required; we just need some new people in charge of the Democratic Party. Heck, a lot of the same people could remain in charge, so long as they change their attitudes and stop obeying Wall Street and the billionaires.

Temporarily Sane , March 26, 2017 at 3:59 pm

Excellent piece. Americans have forgotten that the things they took for granted (40 hour week, humane working conditions, employer provided benefits etc.) were gained by the blood, sweat and tears of their forebears.

Today, as the attack on what's left of employee protections and benefits is ramped up, people are alienated from one another and encouraged to channel their despair and anger into blaming scapegoats or invest their energy stoking paranoid delusions about the illuminati and Russian agents. If that gets boring there's always alcohol and heroin to take the edge off.

The left has a momentous job – it has to convince people to give a shit and think of their fate as intertwined with others in a similar position. After decades of neoliberal economics empathy and giving a shit are associated with weakness and losers in many people's minds. Nobody wants to give a shit about anyone outside their preferred identity group or groups but everyone wants, demands , others give a shit about them.

It's almost comical how self-defeating and illogical people can be.

Gman , March 26, 2017 at 6:52 pm

Almost.

My belief is that Trump (and his kin) is likely the 'apotheosis' of neoliberalism or, as is far less likely, he (or they) might pleasantly surprise us.

Like Brexit in the UK, I for one, hopefully not mistakenly, mark this anti establishment ascendency as the beginning of the end of neoliberal economics rather than a further ringing endorsement ie I fully accept things may have to get worse before they get better.

People mostly vote to maintain a status quo they believe serves or may serve their interests in the future or, increasingly in the case of ever plausible (to the trusting and naïve) neoliberalism, out of misplaced hope, desperation, exasperation or understandable fear of the unknown.

The Clintons, the Obamas, the Blairs, possibly the Macrons, the Ruttes, even the Merkels of this world are wolves in sheep's clothing. They have come to represent, for increasing numbers, little better than managed decline in apparently safe hands, conducted in plain sight, in the ever narrower interests of the few.

Unfortunately events are conspiring to demand the once virtuous, now vicious, circle be broken by fair means or foul.

habenicht , March 26, 2017 at 8:57 pm

It seems that only a new party can achieve these aims. At the time these essays are going to press, Sanders has committed himself to working within the Democratic Party. But that stance is based on his assumption that somehow he can recruit enough activists to take over the party from Its Donor Class.

I suspect he will fail. In any case, it is easier to begin afresh than to try to re-design a party (or any institution) dominated by resistance to change, and whose idea of economic growth is a pastiche of tax cuts and deregulation. Both U.S. parties are committed to this neoliberal program – and seek to blame foreign enemies for the fact that its effect is to continue squeezing living standards and bloating the financial sector.

I couldn't have said it better myself. Its encouraging to know that minds like Hudson's are thinking in these terms.

Kirk , March 26, 2017 at 9:31 pm

Regarding the subject line of the article. I'd say that the Democratic Party has been the "paid loyal opposition" for quite a while. . . meaning they are paid to loose. Given the party's ties to Wall Street and Big Pharma it's pretty clear they mostly work for the same folks that own "mainstream" Republicans so their apparent fecklessness and inability to mount ANY sort of effective opposition, even when they are in the majority, shouldn't be any surprise.

The question might more appropriately be can EITHER party survive Trump? Frankly, one can only HOPE that the current version of the Democratic Party DOES go the way of the Whig Party. I can only hope that the Republicans stay as gridlocked as they currently are by the stupid faction of their party.

[Mar 24, 2017] Paltering as a new way to not tell the truth

Notable quotes:
"... The palter was to skip the fact that it had broken down twice in the last year, instead saying, "This car drives very smoothly and is very responsive. Just last week it started up with no problems when the temperature was 5 degrees Fahrenheit." The outright lie would have been: "This car has never had problems." Researchers learned that car sellers perceived paltering as more ethical than lying, and thus used it more. ..."
"... Paltering allows people who consider themselves honest to deceive others while getting the same results that lying would. In a third experiment, participants in a pretend real estate negotiation performed just as well when they paltered as they did when they lied. Their successes didn't come without costs, however. When the deception was discovered, negotiation partners deemed palterers as untrustworthy as liars. ..."
"... One occasional advantage of paltering over lying is plausible deniability: You can blame any misunderstanding on the listener. ..."
"... So how can you avoid falling victim? "If you ask a specific question, that specific question should be answered, not a variant of it," Rogers says, even though insistence on clarification "often makes you look like a jerk." ..."
"... Paltering relies on our tendency to trust others and not cause a scene. ..."
Mar 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs : March 18, 2017 at 08:39 PM
, 2017 at 08:39 PM 'Paltering,' a new way to not tell the truth
http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2017/03/17/paltering-new-way-not-tell-truth/TRB2ap22NK5Ya8KjF4x0GI/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe
Matthew Hutson - March 17, 2017

... ... ..

Although paltering occurs in all realms of life, researchers at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government focused on its use in negotiation. In one of eight studies to be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, study participants pretended to sell a used car on eBay. They answered the buyer's question "Has this car ever had problems?" with a response selected from a list supplied by the researchers.

The palter was to skip the fact that it had broken down twice in the last year, instead saying, "This car drives very smoothly and is very responsive. Just last week it started up with no problems when the temperature was 5 degrees Fahrenheit." The outright lie would have been: "This car has never had problems." Researchers learned that car sellers perceived paltering as more ethical than lying, and thus used it more.

In another study, half of surveyed executives said they paltered in more than "a few" of their negotiations, versus a fifth who said they actively lied more than a few times. Consistent with this discrepancy, executives viewed the behavior as more honest than lying.

Paltering allows people who consider themselves honest to deceive others while getting the same results that lying would. In a third experiment, participants in a pretend real estate negotiation performed just as well when they paltered as they did when they lied. Their successes didn't come without costs, however. When the deception was discovered, negotiation partners deemed palterers as untrustworthy as liars.

Another study found that victims saw palterers as less ethical than palterers saw themselves. We have a "broken mental model" of paltering, the researchers have concluded, seeing this behavior as honest when others do not.

One occasional advantage of paltering over lying is plausible deniability: You can blame any misunderstanding on the listener. Without knowing the speaker's intentions, it's difficult to diagnose paltering with certainty says Todd Rogers, a behavioral scientist at the Kennedy School and the paper's lead author. Few examples are as clear as Bill Clinton's response when asked if he'd had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky: "There is not a sexual relationship - that is accurate." (Note the slick use of present tense.)

So how can you avoid falling victim? "If you ask a specific question, that specific question should be answered, not a variant of it," Rogers says, even though insistence on clarification "often makes you look like a jerk."

Paltering relies on our tendency to trust others and not cause a scene. "It's pretty amazing how much you can get away with because of people's truth bias," says David Clementson, a researcher at Ohio State University's School of Communication, who was not involved in the study. "Paltering totally takes advantage of that, diabolically and deceptively."

Artful Paltering: The Risks and Rewards
of Using Truthful Statements to Mislead Others
Rogers, Todd; Zeckhauser, Richard; et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
Vol 112(3), Mar 2017,
https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/psp-pspi0000081.pdf

There's a Word for Using
Truthful Facts to Deceive: Paltering
HBR - Francesca Gino - October 05, 2016
https://hbr.org/2016/10/theres-a-word-for-using-truthful-facts-to-deceive-paltering

[Mar 18, 2017] The Role of Experts in Public Debate

Notable quotes:
"... Economist James K. Galbraith disputes these claims of the benefit of comparative advantage. He states that "free trade has attained the status of a god" and that ". . . none of the world's most successful trading regions, including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and now mainland China, reached their current status by adopting neoliberal trading rules." He argues that ". . . comparative advantage is based upon the concept of constant returns: the idea that you can double or triple the output of any good simply by doubling or tripling the inputs. But this is not generally the case. For manufactured products, increasing returns, learning, and technical change are the rule, not the exception; the cost of production falls with experience. With increasing returns, the lowest cost will be incurred by the country that starts earliest and moves fastest on any particular line. Potential competitors have to protect their own industries if they wish them to survive long enough to achieve competitive scale."[42] ..."
"... Galbraith, as always, is very succinct and readable. I well remember sitting in an economics lecture in the 1980's when the Professor mentioned Galbraith and described him as with distain someone 'who's ideas were more popular with the public than with economists'. The snigger of agreement that ran around the students in the hall made me realise just how ingrained the ideology of economics was as I'm pretty sure I was the only one of the students who'd actually read any Galbraith. ..."
"... I'd also recommend Ha-Joon Chang as someone who is very readable on the topic of the many weaknesses of conventional ideas on comparative advantage. ..."
"... "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." ..."
"... I've noticed many experts are especially bad at verbosity. Maybe they think somehow that quantity of words is a form of potency. Maybe that's it. Also individuals with a grievance who write posts about their grievance. I know when I have a grievance it's hard to shut up. I'm just being honest. I'll keep rambling and rambling, repeating myelf and fulminating. Thankfully I know better than to write like that. ..."
"... Thing 13: Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer. Trickle down economics doesn't work because wealth doesn't trickle down. It trickles up, which is why the rich are the rich in the first place ..."
"... Thing 23: Good economic policy does not require good economists. Most of the really important economic issues, the ones that decide whether nations sink or swim, are within the intellectual reach of intelligent non-economists. Academic Economics with a capital "E" has remarkably little to say about the things that really matter. Concerned citizens need to stop being intimidated by the experts here. ..."
"... Although Ha Joon Chang is an excellent economist, I would also strongly recommend Michael Hudson, Michael Perelman, Steve Keen and E. Ray Canterbery - they are really great, along with Samir Amin of Senegal. ..."
"... A major issue is that those incapable politicians do rely upon experts, but they have consistently selected experts not on their track record (such as how good economists were at predicting the evolution of the economy, or how good political scientists were at predicting the evolution of communist or Arab societies), but on whether pronouncements of experts corresponded to their ideological preconceptions and justified their intended policies. ..."
"... A bit like rejecting physicians' diagnoses when they do not suit you and preferring the cure of a quack. ..."
"... This is not restricted to economists, it pervasive in science in general. I can't remember how many times I got a paper for peer review where I couldn't figure out what the person was trying to say because they layered the jargon ten levels deep. ..."
"... I think it is as simple as: if you create something that justifies the behaviors of the rich and powerful, you have something to sell and willing buyers. If you create something that delegitimizes the behaviors of the rich and powerful, you not only have no willing patrons but you have made powerful enemies. ..."
"... It is the law of supply and demand for pretentious bullshit. ..."
"... Leave workers exposed to starvation long enough and they'll work for next- to-nothing. The solution to James O'Connor's Fiscal Crisis of the State is to clean house in a big way, a very big way. Put everyone out on the street and start all over again. (Everyone but the 1% of course.) ..."
"... It's Andrew Mellon's advice for getting out of the Depression: "liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate it will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up from less competent people." ..."
"... The Reserve Army of Labor saves the Capitalist Day, once again. (Except for the little problem that the 1% won't accept their own liquidation, so Goldman Sachs and the rest must be exempted from the purging–which means that the purging can't work.) ..."
"... Not too long before he died, Paul Samuelson said: "Maybe I was wrong on the subject of jobs offshoring." (I.e., maybe offshoring all the jobs and dismantling the US economy wasn't so intelligent after all!) ..."
"... C. Wright Mills called them "crackpot realists." ..."
"... It's all a part and parcel of the meritocracy. If you don't have a degree in Econ, your opinion doesn't matter about why your job moved to China. If you don't have a degree in Urban Planning, you don't get to comment on how the city wants to tear down the park and put up condos. ..."
"... Their advice helped lead to this 2008 Financial Crisis. The promise of neoliberalism was faster growth. It did not happen. Quite the opposite. It gave the rich intellectual cover to loot society. That"s what this was always about. ..."
"... Then there's the matter of the Iraq War. Another example. Many foreign policy "experts", particularly affiliated with the neoconservative assured the American people that invading Iraq would be easy to do and lead to lots of long term benefits. Others insisted, despite evidence to the contrary, that Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction. Now look at where we are. No WMDs, long and cost war, with no long-term solutions. Many of said "experts" later endorsed Clinton. ..."
"... We do not need pro-Establishment experts who sell themselves out to enrich themselves. We need experts who act in the public interest. ..."
Mar 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Sandwichman. Originally published at Angry Bear

Jonathan Portes asks, " What's the role of experts in the public debate? " He assumes it is his prerogative, as an expert, to define that role:

I think we have three really important functions.

First, to explain our basic concepts and most important insights in plain English. Famously, Paul Samuelson, the founder of modern macroeconomics, was asked whether economics told us anything that was true but not obvious. It took him a couple of years, but eventually he gave an excellent and topical example – simply the theory of comparative advantage.

Similarly, I often say that the most useful thing I did in my 6 years as Chief Economist at DWP was to explain the lump of labour fallacy – that there isn't a fixed number of jobs in the economy, and increased immigration or more women working adds to both labour demand and labour supply – to six successive Secretaries of State. So that's the first.

Second is to call bullshit.

O.K. I call bullshit. What Portes explained "to six successive Secretaries of State" was a figment of the imagination of a late 18th century Lancashire magistrate, a self-styled " friend to the poor " who couldn't understand why poor people got so upset about having their wages cut or losing their jobs - to the extent they would go around throwing rocks through windows, breaking machines and burning down factories - when it was obvious to him that it was all for the best and in the long run we would all be better off or else dead.

I call bullshit because what Portes explained to six successive Secretaries of State was simply the return of the repressed - the obverse of "Say's Law" (which was neither Say's nor a Law) that "supply creates its own demand," which John Maynard Keynes demolished in The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money and that John Kenneth Galbraith subsequently declared " sank without trace " in the wake of Keynes's demolition of it.

I call bullshit because when Paul Samuelson resurrected the defunct fallacy claim that Portes explained to six successive Secretaries of State, he did so on the condition that governments pursued the sorts of "Keynesian" job-creating policies that the discredited principle of "supply creates its own demand" insisted were both unnecessary and counter-productive.

But the lump of labor argument implies that there is only so much useful remunerative work to be done in any economic system, and that is indeed a fallacy . If proper and sound monetary, fiscal, and pricing policies are being vigorously promulgated , we need not resign ourselves to mass unemployment. And although technological unemployment is not to be shrugged off lightly, its optimal solution lies in offsetting policies that create adequate job opportunities and new skills.

[Incidentally, as Robert Schiller has noted, the promised prevention of mass unemployment by vigorous policy intervention did not imply the preservation of wage levels. Schiller cited the following passage from the Samuelson textbook, " a decrease in the demand for a particular kind of labor because of technological shifts in an industry can he adapted to - lower relative wages and migration of labor and capital will eventually provide new jobs for the displaced workers."]

I call bullshit because what Portes explained to six successive Secretaries of State was not even Paul Samuelson's policy-animated zombie lump-of-labour fallacy but a supply-side, anti-inflationary retrofit cobbled together by Richard Layard and associates and touted by Tony Blair and Gerhard Schroeder as the Third Way " new supply-side agenda for the left. " Central to that agenda were tax cuts to promote economic growth and "active labour market policies" to foster non-inflationary expansion of employment by making conditions more "flexible" and lower-waged:

Part-time work and low-paid work are better than no work because they ease the transition from unemployment to jobs.

Encourage employers to offer 'entry' jobs to the labour market by lowering the burden of tax and social security contributions on low-paid jobs.

Adjustment will be the easier, the more labour and product markets are working properly. Barriers to employment in relatively low productivity sectors need to be lowered if employees displaced by the productivity gains that are an inherent feature of structural change are to find jobs elsewhere. The labour market needs a low-wage sector in order to make low-skill jobs available.

I call bullshit because in defending the outcomes of supply-side labour policies, Portes soft-pedaled the stated low-wage objectives of the Third Way agenda. In a London Review of Books review, Portes admitted that "it may drive down wages for the low-skilled, but the effect is small compared to that of other factors (technological change, the national minimum wage and so on)." In the Third Way supply-side agenda, however, a low-wage sector was promoted as a desirable feature - making more low-skill jobs available - not a trivial bug to be brushed aside. In other words, in "driving down wages for the low skilled" the policy was achieving exactly what it was intended to but Portes was "too discreet" to admit that was the stated objectives of the policy.

dk , March 18, 2017 at 4:47 am

I found this helpful in better understanding the economics discussed:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparative_advantage#Criticism

Economist James K. Galbraith disputes these claims of the benefit of comparative advantage. He states that "free trade has attained the status of a god" and that ". . . none of the world's most successful trading regions, including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and now mainland China, reached their current status by adopting neoliberal trading rules." He argues that ". . . comparative advantage is based upon the concept of constant returns: the idea that you can double or triple the output of any good simply by doubling or tripling the inputs. But this is not generally the case. For manufactured products, increasing returns, learning, and technical change are the rule, not the exception; the cost of production falls with experience. With increasing returns, the lowest cost will be incurred by the country that starts earliest and moves fastest on any particular line. Potential competitors have to protect their own industries if they wish them to survive long enough to achieve competitive scale."[42]

Galbraith also contends that "For most other commodities, where land or ecology places limits on the expansion of capacity, the opposite condition – diminishing returns – is the rule. In this situation, there can be no guarantee that an advantage of relative cost will persist once specialization and the resultant expansion of production take place. A classic and tragic example, studied by Erik Reinert, is transitional Mongolia, a vast grassland with a tiny population and no industry that could compete on world markets. To the World Bank, Mongolia seemed a classic case of comparative advantage in animal husbandry, which in Mongolia consisted of vast herds of cattle, camels, sheep, and goats. Opening of industrial markets collapsed domestic industry, while privatization of the herds prompted the herders to increase their size. This led, within just a few years in the early 1990s, to overgrazing and permanent desertification of the subarctic steppe and, with a slightly colder than normal winter, a massive famine in the herds."

PlutoniumKun , March 18, 2017 at 5:45 am

Galbraith, as always, is very succinct and readable. I well remember sitting in an economics lecture in the 1980's when the Professor mentioned Galbraith and described him as with distain someone 'who's ideas were more popular with the public than with economists'. The snigger of agreement that ran around the students in the hall made me realise just how ingrained the ideology of economics was as I'm pretty sure I was the only one of the students who'd actually read any Galbraith.

I'd also recommend Ha-Joon Chang as someone who is very readable on the topic of the many weaknesses of conventional ideas on comparative advantage.

/L , March 18, 2017 at 6:39 am

James K Galbraith is the son of the famous New Deal economist John K Galbraith.

John K G:

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."

"In the case of economics there are no important propositions that cannot be stated in plain language."

/L , March 18, 2017 at 7:10 am

John K G on The Art of Good Writing

"I was an editor of Fortune under Henry Luce, the founder of Time, Inc., who was one of the most ruthless editors that I have ever known, that anyone has ever known. Henry could look over a sheet of copy and say, "This can go, and this can go, and this can go," and you would be left with eight to ten lines which said everything that you had said in twenty lines before.

And I can still, to this day, not write a page without the feeling that Henry Luce is looking over my shoulder and saying, "That can go." That illuminate one "problem" in our age of internet, unlimited space to be verbose and no editors that de-obscure the writers "thoughts".

JEHR , March 18, 2017 at 8:24 am

/L–This site is just wonderful! Anything you want to know about knowing seems to be here. Thanks for the great link.

sgt_doom , March 18, 2017 at 2:21 pm

Recommendation: Wealth, Power and the Crisis of Laissez-Faire Capitalism , by Donald Gibson

Norb , March 18, 2017 at 8:54 am

I wonder if this phenomenon – the desirability succinct communication -- was a holdover of earlier times, when accurate communication made the difference between life and death. Settling and developing a continent would place a high value on such purposeful human exchanges.

Today, we are awash in branding and marketing intended to maintain the current order. The language is used to obfuscate, not clarify experience or goals.

An expert in any field that has the ability to communicate in a general , popular mode, is of great value to society. Truth and understanding is its main function. Knowledge, or insight that cannot be shared is more often than not just an excuse to hide methods of control and exploitation.

If citizens can't get the generalities right, the specifics will be impossible to comprehend.

craazyman , March 18, 2017 at 5:23 pm

Almost everything can go. I remember seeing a video of the photographer William Klein saying a master photographer is remembered for just a handfull of images. Maybe 10 or 15, tops. Out of probably at least 100,000 serious photos.

Of course what goes is necessary fertilizer for what doesn't go. You can't avoid it. Hahahah. But you have to let it go anyway. Or your editor has to be williing to cut.

I've noticed lots and lots of posts here could be a lot better if the post author had said the same thing in half as many words. Most wouldn't lose any persuasion, if they had any to begin with. And they'd gain reader attention for the pruning.

I've noticed many experts are especially bad at verbosity. Maybe they think somehow that quantity of words is a form of potency. Maybe that's it. Also individuals with a grievance who write posts about their grievance. I know when I have a grievance it's hard to shut up. I'm just being honest. I'll keep rambling and rambling, repeating myelf and fulminating. Thankfully I know better than to write like that.

Having saidd all that, Say was rite. If the supply of labor increases, that createes its own demand for jobs! How is that not completely obvious.

PlutoniumKun , March 18, 2017 at 9:18 am

Ah yeah, sorry, getting my JK's mixed up. Both are good.

fresno dan , March 18, 2017 at 7:03 am

PlutoniumKun
March 18, 2017 at 5:45 am

Huffington Post review has a synopsis of the Ha-Joon Change book. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ian-fletcher/a-review-of-ha-joon-chang_b_840417.html
My favorite:
Thing 13: Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer. Trickle down economics doesn't work because wealth doesn't trickle down. It trickles up, which is why the rich are the rich in the first place

shinola , March 18, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Thanks for the tip PK & thank you fd for the link to the review. I'm going to check this fellow out; sounds like he has some interesting things to say. One of the "things" that may apply to the above article:

Thing 23: Good economic policy does not require good economists. Most of the really important economic issues, the ones that decide whether nations sink or swim, are within the intellectual reach of intelligent non-economists. Academic Economics with a capital "E" has remarkably little to say about the things that really matter. Concerned citizens need to stop being intimidated by the experts here.

sgt_doom , March 18, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Although Ha Joon Chang is an excellent economist, I would also strongly recommend Michael Hudson, Michael Perelman, Steve Keen and E. Ray Canterbery - they are really great, along with Samir Amin of Senegal.

Anonymous2 , March 18, 2017 at 8:10 am

A word of warning from the UK. Denigrate experts too much and you end up like us with government by people who really are inexpert. That is not an improvement.

Mael Colium , March 18, 2017 at 8:39 am

Ha! I think an anti brexiter just rolled the white eye.

Strange that the awful things that the experts told us all would happen haven't and don't look like happening since the people called bullshit on the EU mess. Britain with or without those blokes in dresses up north will do just fine as they steer themselves out of the EU quagmire. I'll take the people anytime anonymous – they have more common sense than the experts. Didn't you read the article?

Anonymous2 , March 18, 2017 at 9:51 am

If you are referring to economic forecasters, they, by definition, are not experts.

sgt_doom , March 18, 2017 at 2:16 pm

Thank you!!!

I remember back in the 1980s, when so-called "experts" were prattling about such nonsense as . . .

"Computers don't make mistakes, humans make mistakes !"

Which was surely untrue as anyone with any real IT expertise back then would have explained that 97% or more of hardware crashes generate software problems (for obvious reasons).

visitor , March 18, 2017 at 9:16 am

A major issue is that those incapable politicians do rely upon experts, but they have consistently selected experts not on their track record (such as how good economists were at predicting the evolution of the economy, or how good political scientists were at predicting the evolution of communist or Arab societies), but on whether pronouncements of experts corresponded to their ideological preconceptions and justified their intended policies.

A bit like rejecting physicians' diagnoses when they do not suit you and preferring the cure of a quack.

voislav , March 18, 2017 at 8:28 am

This is not restricted to economists, it pervasive in science in general. I can't remember how many times I got a paper for peer review where I couldn't figure out what the person was trying to say because they layered the jargon ten levels deep. This is in chemistry, so things are typically straightforward, no need for convoluted explanations and massaging of the data.

But people still do it because that's the culture that they've been educated in, a scientific paper has to be high-brow, using obscure words and complicated sentences.

Steve Ruis , March 18, 2017 at 8:55 am

I think it is as simple as: if you create something that justifies the behaviors of the rich and powerful, you have something to sell and willing buyers. If you create something that delegitimizes the behaviors of the rich and powerful, you not only have no willing patrons but you have made powerful enemies.

It is the law of supply and demand for pretentious bullshit.

Paul Hirschman , March 18, 2017 at 9:03 am

So in the end, we wind up with Say's Law anyway, since creating a "low wages" sector is exactly how Say's Law functions–supply creates its own demand because declining wages means investment spending can increase, which keeps aggregate demand where it needs to be for full employment.

This is the solution, we are told, to Keynes "sticky prices." Jim Grant makes this very argument in his book about the "short-lived" crisis of the early 1920s. Leave workers exposed to starvation long enough and they'll work for next- to-nothing. The solution to James O'Connor's Fiscal Crisis of the State is to clean house in a big way, a very big way. Put everyone out on the street and start all over again. (Everyone but the 1% of course.)

It's Andrew Mellon's advice for getting out of the Depression: "liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate it will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up from less competent people."

The Reserve Army of Labor saves the Capitalist Day, once again. (Except for the little problem that the 1% won't accept their own liquidation, so Goldman Sachs and the rest must be exempted from the purging–which means that the purging can't work.)

Back to managing stagnation.

Paul Hirschman , March 18, 2017 at 9:09 am

Managing stagnation is what we have "experts" for in the first place.

sgt_doom , March 18, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Not too long before he died, Paul Samuelson said: "Maybe I was wrong on the subject of jobs offshoring." (I.e., maybe offshoring all the jobs and dismantling the US economy wasn't so intelligent after all!)

Just finished a book called, The Death of Expertise , by a professor of national security (oh give me a frigging break!!!!), Tom Nichols.

Biggest pile of crapola I have ever read! The author was also yearning for the days when "experts" were blindly followed!

Sandwichman , March 18, 2017 at 2:38 pm

C. Wright Mills called them "crackpot realists."

marku52 , March 18, 2017 at 3:25 pm

It's all a part and parcel of the meritocracy. If you don't have a degree in Econ, your opinion doesn't matter about why your job moved to China. If you don't have a degree in Urban Planning, you don't get to comment on how the city wants to tear down the park and put up condos.

Altandmain , March 18, 2017 at 5:00 pm

The answer is that said "experts" have failed the general public miserably.

Their advice helped lead to this 2008 Financial Crisis. The promise of neoliberalism was faster growth. It did not happen. Quite the opposite. It gave the rich intellectual cover to loot society. That"s what this was always about.

Now people wonder, why they don't trust "experts"?

Then there's the matter of the Iraq War. Another example. Many foreign policy "experts", particularly affiliated with the neoconservative assured the American people that invading Iraq would be easy to do and lead to lots of long term benefits. Others insisted, despite evidence to the contrary, that Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction. Now look at where we are. No WMDs, long and cost war, with no long-term solutions. Many of said "experts" later endorsed Clinton.

We do not need pro-Establishment experts who sell themselves out to enrich themselves. We need experts who act in the public interest.

[Feb 27, 2017] For all practical purposes two party system behaves as an improved version of one party system. Iron law of oligarchy essentially guarantees the upper hand for the leadership within the interparty struggle for power.

Feb 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
nobody , February 26, 2017 at 5:38 am

I was just looking for stuff that explains how the institutional architecture has been designed so as to preclude any meaningful third party challenges, and I happened upon a document by Bill Domhoff (the "Who Rules America?" guy) where he explains: " Third Parties Don't Work: Why and How Egalitarians Should Transform the Democratic Party ." What he says:

So what should egalitarian activists do in terms of future elections if and when the issues, circumstances, and candidates seem right? First, they should form Egalitarian Democratic Clubs. That gives them an organizational base as well as a distinctive new social identity within the structural pathway to government that is labeled "the Democratic Party." Forming such clubs makes it possible for activists to maintain their sense of separatism and purity while at the same time allowing them to compete within the Democratic Party. There are numerous precedents for such clubs within the party, including liberal and reform clubs in the past, and the conservative Democratic Leadership Council at the present time.

This strategy of forging a separate social identity is also followed by members of the right wing within the Republican Party. By joining organizations like the Moral Majority and Christian Coalition, they can define themselves as Christians who have to work out of necessity within the debased confines of the Republican Party. That is, they think of themselves as Christians first and Republicans second, and that is what egalitarians should do: identify themselves primarily as egalitarians and only secondarily as Democrats.

After forming Egalitarian Democrat Clubs, egalitarian activists should find people to run in selected Democratic primaries from precinct to president. They should not simply support eager candidates who come to them with the hope of turning them into campaign workers. They have to create candidates of their own who already are committed to the egalitarian movement and to its alternative economic vision of planning through the market. The candidates have to be responsible to the clubs, or else the candidates naturally will look out for their own self interest and careers.

PH , February 26, 2017 at 8:56 am

This is wise.

Steve H. , February 26, 2017 at 10:24 am

Yes it is. Your excerpt zeroes in on the mechanism of How.

"clubs within the party" : Turchin writing on the Price Equation makes something clear. If the within-group co-operators can be successful and reproduce, and then sequester non-co-operators into a separate group, the chances of co-operator success increase. Put 'em on a committee.

That mechanism is what makes Zuck's presidential bid dangerous. As groups use Fcbk to organize, a malevolent administrator can introduce FBU 's that disrupt social cohesion within the group. An advanced form of voter suppression.

Steve H. , February 26, 2017 at 1:22 pm

Sorry, PH, by 'Your' I meant nobody.

likbez , February 26, 2017 at 4:55 pm
Clubs within the Party was how the Communist Party of the USSR operated. They were called factions. They were unable to challenge the ruling elite and if they became too strong they were simply purged from the Party.

Nothing new here. Cooptation of those who deviate left or right from the party platform and party oligarchy can be effectively used within "game of clubs" framework due to the iron law of oligarchy. Those who can't be coopted can be purged or excommunicated.

For all practical purposes two party system behaves as an improved version of one party system. Iron law of oligarchy essentially guarantees the upper hand for the leadership within the interparty struggle for power. And provides for the leadership the opportunity to pursue their own agenda, different from the wishes of rank and file members. Like was the case with Bill Clinton selling Democratic Party to Wall Street and turning it into yet another neoliberal party - soft neoliberals, like sometime Clinton's "third way" neoliberalism is called.

Only parliamentary system when parties are allocated seats due to votes they got with some "passing" threshold can provide the opportunity of the third party to emerge as the major political force outside a single election cycle or two.

It is important to understand that the "first after the post" system virtually guarantees the elimination of any contenders to both major parties. Unless there is a revolutionary situation when the ruling elite is so discredited that can't rule "as usual". Then winners are usually incorporated into the party framework and partially emasculated somewhat later, when they face the challenges of governing the system which is totally against them. Like now the situation developed in case of Trump.

You can say anything about British elite but this was pretty ingenious political invention.

In other words, the main task to two party system in to prevent any possibility for the challengers of status quo to obtain political power via elections. Reforms should be approved by party oligarchy to be viable. And there are powerful internal mechanisms like DNC which help to block advances of anybody who want to challenge the status quo.

Also the emerging leaders can be simply bought. This is another way how the iron law of oligarchy operates.

likbez , February 26, 2017 at 5:09 pm
Forgot to mention.

Lesse evilism is the mechanism by which voters are coopted to vote for one of two dismal choices in two party system.

See http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/27/the-logic-of-lesser-evilism/

== quote ==

From a rhetorical point of view, however, lesser evilism involves more than just the logical principle behind it. The reason is plain: except in a trivial sense, better choices are less bad only when the alternatives are bad or, more precisely, regarded as bad. Less bad choices are less evil only when the alternatives are or are thought to be bad indeed.

This is all that the "evil" in "lesser evilism" implies. Strictly speaking, evil is a religious, not a political, notion. But lesser evilism in politics is a secular phenomenon, and the force of the word is rhetorical only. Its religious origins and connotations are useful for giving the word a resonance that "bad" and even "very bad" lack; not for making any theological or otherwise portentous point.

Although the logic behind lesser evilism is impeccable, the principle seldom applies directly in real world circumstances. In political contexts especially, there are too many complicating factors, and there is too much indeterminacy.

This is why lesser evilism in politics – especially, electoral politics - can be, and often is, a bad idea.

Myopia is a chronic problem in electoral contests because voters tend to focus on candidates' personalities or on what they believe they are likely to do if elected, neglecting other pertinent considerations.

Suppose, for instance, that Obama truly was less disposed than McCain in 2008 or Romney in 2012 to expand the wars he inherited from George Bush and Dick Cheney or to extend the range and intensity of the Bush-Cheney "Global War on Terror."

Of course, war making is not the only thing Presidents do, but even if we focus only on that, we can still wonder whether voters favoring peace who voted for Obama served their cause well.

Unofficially, but most assuredly, America has a duopoly party system – in consequence of deeply entrenched practices and traditions, and thanks to laws that make ballot access difficult for candidates who are neither Democrats nor Republicans.

Therefore, in Presidential elections and most others as well, Americans face straightforward X versus Y choices. Independent or third party candidates have no chance of winning. They seldom even have a chance of affecting the outcomes in more than negligible ways.

Some of the problems this raises have nothing to do with the comparative merits and shortcomings of the candidates themselves; they are problems with lesser evil voting itself.

This is because elections in the present affect elections in the future; among other things, they can and often do initiate or continue trends.

As a general rule, but especially when the choices voters face remain above the threshold beneath which talk of lesser evil voting becomes rhetorically appropriate, choosing the better candidate is no guarantee that the choices will be better still the next time around or the time after that.

But once the lesser evil threshold is crossed, it does seem that the choices keep getting worse. There is no inherent reason why this must be so, but there is ample anecdotal evidence that bears out the suggestion that, in our time and place, lesser evil voting encourages a downward spiral, "a race to the bottom."

To be sure, America's deteriorating political culture cannot be blamed entirely, or even mainly, on the pervasiveness of this practice. The corruptions of money undoubtedly play a larger role.

Still, lesser evil voting does seem to feed upon itself – hastening a downward trend.

The consequences are especially damaging in a duopoly party system like ours, where choosing the lesser evil means choosing a Democrat or (in very rare instances) a Republican, further diminishing the already meager prospects of breaking free from the duopoly's stranglehold.

[Feb 12, 2017] Instead of the endless perception management or strategic communication or psychological operations or whatever the new code words are, you could open up the files regarding key turning-point moments and share the facts with the citizens

Notable quotes:
"... This bizarre feature of Trump's executive order shows how deep Official Washington's dysfunction goes. Trump has picked a major constitutional battle over a travel ban that targets the wrong countries. ..."
"... But there's a reason for this dysfunction: No one in Official Washington can speak the truth about terrorism without suffering severe political damage or getting blacklisted by the mainstream media. Since the truth puts Israel and especially Saudi Arabia in an uncomfortable position, the truth cannot be spoken. ..."
"... There was some hope that President Trump – for all his irascibility and unpredictability – might break from the absurd "Iran is the principal source of terrorism" mantra. But so far he has not. Nor has Trump moved to throw open the files on the Syrian and Ukraine conflicts so Americans can assess how the Obama administration sought to manipulate them into supporting these "regime change" adventures. ..."
"... But Trump has resisted intense pressure to again entrust U.S. foreign policy to the neoconservatives, a number of whom lost their jobs when President Obama left office, perhaps most significantly Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who helped orchestrate the violent overthrow of Ukraine's elected president and is an architect of the New Cold War with Russia. ..."
"... Other neocons who angled for jobs in the new administration, including John Bolton and James Woolsey, have failed to land them. Currently, there is pressure to ensconce Elliott Abrams, a top neocon dating back to the Reagan administration, in the key post of Deputy Secretary of State but that idea, too, has met resistance. ..."
"... The neocon threat to Trump's stated intent of restoring some geopolitical realism to U.S. foreign policy is that the neocons operate almost as an ideological cabal linked often in a subterranean fashion – or as I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's neocon chief of staff, once wrote in a cryptic letter to neocon journalist Judith Miller that aspen trees "turn in clusters, because their roots connect them." ..."
"... What is less clear is whether Trump, Tillerson and his fledgling State Department team have the intellectual heft to understand why U.S. foreign policy has drifted into the chaos and conflicts that now surround it – and whether they have the skill to navigate a route toward a safe harbor. ..."
"... My first concern, however, is the USA predilection for 'regime change" wars - and for that I blame the neocons. ..."
Feb 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
RGC : February 10, 2017 at 06:44 AM

If you wanted to bring sanity to a U.S. foreign policy that has spun crazily out of control, there would be some immediate steps that you – or, say, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – could take, starting with a renewed commitment to tell the truth to the American people.

Instead of the endless "perception management" or "strategic communication" or "psychological operations" or whatever the new code words are, you could open up the files regarding key turning-point moments and share the facts with the citizens – the "We the People" – who are supposed to be America's true sovereigns.

For instance, you could release what the U.S. government actually knows about the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack in Syria; what the files show about the origins of the Feb. 22, 2014 coup in Ukraine; what U.S. intelligence analysts have compiled about the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine. And those are just three examples of cases where U.S. government propagandists have sold a dubious bill of goods to the American and world publics in the "information warfare" campaign against the Syrian and Russian governments.

If you wanted to base U.S. foreign policy on the firm foundation of reality, you also could let the American people in on who is actually the principal sponsor of the terrorism that they're concerned about: Al Qaeda, Islamic State, the Taliban – all Sunni-led outfits, none of which are backed by Shiite-ruled Iran. Yet, all we hear from Official Washington's political and media insiders is that Iran is the chief sponsor of terrorism.

Of course, that is what Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Israel want you to believe because it serves their regional and sectarian interests, but it isn't true. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are the ones arming and financing Al Qaeda and Islamic State with Israel occasionally bombing Al Qaeda's military enemies inside Syria and providing medical support for Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate operating near the Golan Heights.

The reason for this unsavory network of alliances is that Israel, like Saudi Arabia and the Sunni-led Gulf states, sees Iran and the so-called "Shiite crescent" – from Tehran through Damascus to Beirut – as their principal problem. And because of the oil sheiks' financial wealth and Israel's political clout, they control how pretty much everyone in Official Washington's establishment views the Middle East.

But the interests of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are not in line with the interests of the American people – nor the average European – who are not concerned about militant Shiites as much as militant Sunnis. After all, the worst terror attacks on Europe and the U.S. have come from Sunni extremists belonging to or inspired by Al Qaeda and Islamic State.

This gap between the reality of Sunni-extremist terrorism and the fantasy of Official Washington's "group think" fingering Shiite-ruled Iran explains the cognitive dissonance over President Trump's travel ban on people from seven mostly Muslim countries. Beyond the offensive anti-Muslim prejudice, there is the fact that he ignored the countries that produced the terrorists who have attacked the U.S., including the 9/11 hijackers.

This bizarre feature of Trump's executive order shows how deep Official Washington's dysfunction goes. Trump has picked a major constitutional battle over a travel ban that targets the wrong countries.

But there's a reason for this dysfunction: No one in Official Washington can speak the truth about terrorism without suffering severe political damage or getting blacklisted by the mainstream media. Since the truth puts Israel and especially Saudi Arabia in an uncomfortable position, the truth cannot be spoken.

There was some hope that President Trump – for all his irascibility and unpredictability – might break from the absurd "Iran is the principal source of terrorism" mantra. But so far he has not. Nor has Trump moved to throw open the files on the Syrian and Ukraine conflicts so Americans can assess how the Obama administration sought to manipulate them into supporting these "regime change" adventures.

But Trump has resisted intense pressure to again entrust U.S. foreign policy to the neoconservatives, a number of whom lost their jobs when President Obama left office, perhaps most significantly Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who helped orchestrate the violent overthrow of Ukraine's elected president and is an architect of the New Cold War with Russia.

Other neocons who angled for jobs in the new administration, including John Bolton and James Woolsey, have failed to land them. Currently, there is pressure to ensconce Elliott Abrams, a top neocon dating back to the Reagan administration, in the key post of Deputy Secretary of State but that idea, too, has met resistance.

The neocon threat to Trump's stated intent of restoring some geopolitical realism to U.S. foreign policy is that the neocons operate almost as an ideological cabal linked often in a subterranean fashion – or as I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's neocon chief of staff, once wrote in a cryptic letter to neocon journalist Judith Miller that aspen trees "turn in clusters, because their roots connect them."

In other words, if one neocon is given a key job, other neocons can be expected to follow. Then, any Trump deviation from neocon orthodoxy would be undermined in the classic Washington tradition of strategic leaking to powerful media and congressional allies.

So far, the Trump inner circle has shown the administrative savvy to avoid bringing in ideologues who would dedicate their efforts to thwarting any significant change in U.S. geopolitical directions.

What is less clear is whether Trump, Tillerson and his fledgling State Department team have the intellectual heft to understand why U.S. foreign policy has drifted into the chaos and conflicts that now surround it – and whether they have the skill to navigate a route toward a safe harbor.

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/02/09/trumps-foreign-policy-at-a-crossroads/

Julio -> RGC... , February 10, 2017 at 09:04 AM
Very good analysis.
The first and obvious question about the ban is "why isn't Saudi Arabia included"? As the article shows, this question unravels this (Trump's) current version of dysfunctional foreign policy based on misleading the public.
RGC -> Julio ... , February 10, 2017 at 09:43 AM
Yes, Trump seems to want to act directly but he also seems to often be off-target.

My first concern, however, is the USA predilection for 'regime change" wars - and for that I blame the neocons.

sanjait said in reply to RGC... , February 10, 2017 at 10:56 AM
I am all for transparency but very strongly opposed to asinine conspiracy theories.
RGC -> sanjait... , February 10, 2017 at 11:29 AM
Why should anyone care? Maybe you should actually learn something about a topic before you comment on it.

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

[Feb 12, 2017] Russia Will Not Sell Snowden To Trump; Heres Why Zero Hedge

Feb 12, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

Submitted by Alexander Mercouris via TheDuran.com,

On Friday 10th February 2017 NBC circulated a report the Russian government in order to improve relations with the Trump administration was preparing to hand Edward Snowden over to the US.

The report obviously worried Snowden himself, who tweeted that the report proved that he was not and never had been a Russian agent . That suggests that he took the report seriously.

Snowden should not be worried, since the report is groundless and is clearly a provocation. To see why it is only necessary to look at the NBC report itself , which makes it clear who is behind it...

U.S. intelligence has collected information that Russia is considering turning over Edward Snowden as a "gift" to President Donald Trump - who has called the NSA leaker a "spy" and a "traitor" who deserves to be executed.

That's according to a senior U.S. official who has analyzed a series of highly sensitive intelligence reports detailing Russian deliberations and who says a Snowden handover is one of various ploys to "curry favor" with Trump. A second source in the intelligence community confirms the intelligence about the Russian conversations and notes it has been gathered since the inauguration.

(bold italics added)

It turns out that the story does not originate in Russia. It originates with our old friends the 'anonymous officials' of the US intelligence community.

One of these officials claims that the story is based on "intelligence" of "Russian conversations" that the US intelligence community has 'gathered since the inauguration". We have no way of knowing at what level these "conversations" took place, assuming they took place at all, but it is inconceivable that the US intelligence community is genuinely informed of discussions within the top level of the Russian leadership – where such a question would be discussed – or if it is that it would publicise the fact by blurting the fact out to NBC.

The reality is that there is no possibility of the Russians handing Snowden over to the US in order to please Donald Trump . Not only would doing so almost certainly breach Russian law – as Snowden's lawyer, who has denied the whole story , has pointed out – but it contradicts what I personally heard Russian President Putin say at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in 2014 when the subject of Snowden was brought up, which is that Russia never hands over people like Snowden once they have gained asylum in Russia. That is indeed Russian practice extending far back into the Soviet period, and I can think of no exceptions to it.

As it happens Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova has denied the story in a Facebook post which links it to the ongoing struggle between the Trump administration and the US intelligence community (about which see more below). Here is how RT translates her post

Today, US intelligence agencies have stepped up their work, updating two stale stories, 'Russia can gift Snowden to Trump' and 'confirmation found on the details of the scandalous dossier on Trump allegedly collected by an ex-employee of British intelligence.' But it may seem so only to those who do not understand the essence of the game. None of these statements have been made by representatives of the special services, but is information coming from NBC and CNN, citing unnamed sources. The difference is obvious, but only to experts. Yet it is useful for scandalizing the public and maintaining a degree of [public outrage] .

It is evident that the pressure on the new administration on the part of political opponents within the United States continues, bargaining is going on. And that's why the US foreign policy doctrine has not yet been formed

It is just possible that US intelligence overheard some gossip in Moscow about the Kremlin handing Snowden over to Donald Trump in order to curry favour with him. The various reports the US intelligence community released during the Clinton leaks hacking scandal show that the US intelligence community is not actually very well informed about what goes on in Moscow or how the Russian government works. In light of that it would not be entirely surprising if someone overheard some gossip about Snowden in Moscow which the US intelligence community is over-interpreting.

Far more likely however is that – as Maria Zakharova says – this is a deliberate provocation, spread by someone within the US intelligence community who either wants to signal to Moscow what Moscow 'needs to do' if it wants better relations with the US, or (more probably) as a signal to Donald Trump of the minimum the US intelligence community expects of him if he wants the US intelligence community's support in seeking better relations with Russia.

This story is interesting not because of what it says about what the Russians are going to do to Snowden – which in reality is nothing. Rather it is interesting because it shows the degree to which Snowden continues to be an object of obsession for the US intelligence community.

The reason for that is that the US intelligence community knows that Snowden is not a Russian spy.

As Snowden has pointed out, if he really were a Russian spy no-one in Washington would be talking about the Russians handing him over. The Russians do not hand their spies over any more than the US does, and if Snowden really were a Russian spy no-one in Washington would talking about the Russians handing him over.

However if Snowden had been a Russian spy his actions would in that case have been simply a Russian intelligence operation of which the US intelligence community was the victim, of which there have been many since the Second World War. Espionage is what the US and Russia routinely do to each other, and there would be nothing remarkable about Snowden in that case.

It is the fact that Snowden is on the contrary a deeply patriotic American who acted from patriotic motives that has the US intelligence community enraged and alarmed. From their point of view having a patriotic American publicly expose their practices Jason Bourne style is a far greater threat than have a Russian spy penetrate their systems, since because of the far greater publicity it is far more likely to damage them politically.

This explains the extraordinary feud the US intelligence community has waged against Snowden, which in part explains why it has become so hostile to Russia, the country which has become his protector.

Mr.Sono -> knukles •Feb 12, 2017 5:41 PM
Putin is a man of his words and not a little bitch like Obama. I was suprised that fake news was all over zerohedge regarding this topic, but at the end zerohedge confirmed the fake news.
Giant Meteor -> FreeShitter •Feb 12, 2017 5:35 PM
One of the smartest plays the deep state could make is allowing him back, make small fuss, and issue a pardon. It would go far in deflating, diffusing the situation, de minimis so to speak. But, I suppose it is more about absolute control, control of the narrative, full spectrum dominance, cautionary tales etc. Pride goeth before the fall (destruction) I believe. Eventually this laundry is going to get sorted and cleaned, one way or the other.
boattrash •Feb 12, 2017 5:13 PM
" as Maria Zakharova says – this is a deliberate provocation, spread by someone within the US intelligence community who either wants to signal to Moscow what Moscow 'needs to do' if it wants better relations with the US, or (more probably) as a signal to Donald Trump of the minimum the US intelligence community expects of him if he wants the US intelligence community's support in seeking better relations with Russia."

A full pardon from Trump would improve his standing with the American people, IMHO, on both the left and the right.

HumanMan -> boattrash •Feb 12, 2017 5:29 PM
This was my thought when the story broke. Putin can no longer claim to be a protector of human rights if he hands over Snowden...Unless Trump is going to pardon him. As you pointed you, that would be great (politically) for Trump too. Done this way would be a win win for the two and another win for We The People. On top of that, Putin doesn't want to babysit Snowden. I'm sure the Russians would be happy to have a politically expediant way to get the American spy out of their country.
HRClinton •Feb 12, 2017 5:16 PM
The Deep State rules, no matter what DJT thinks.

The roots go deep in my fomer DOS and in the CIA. Even in the DOD and Senate. Bill and I know this better than anyone.

FAKE NEWS:

On Friday 10th February 2017 NBC circulated a report the Russian government in order to improve relations with the Trump administration was preparing to hand Edward Snowden over to the US.

How many gringos were fooled???--- not many

shovelhead •Feb 12, 2017 5:37 PM
Pissgate II...

Brought to you from your friends at the CIA.

Mr. Crisp •Feb 12, 2017 5:50 PM
Snowden showed the world that the NSA wasn't just tracking terrorists, they were tracking pretty much everyone, everywhere. He deserves a full pardon.

[Feb 09, 2017] How lies work

Feb 09, 2017 | stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com

Nick Cohen makes a good point : it is not congenital liars that should worry us, but congenital believers – those who fall for the lies of charlatans. We know that many do so: almost half of voters believed the lie that leaving the EU would allow us to spend an extra £350m a week on the NHS.

This poses the question: why do people fall for lies? Here, we can learn from behavioural economics and research (pdf) into criminal fraud. I reckon there are several factors that liars exploit in politics.

One is wishful thinking. People want to believe there's a simple solution to NHS underfunding (leave the EU!) or to low wages (cut immigration!) just as they want to believe they can get rich quick or make money by taking no risk: Ponzi schemers like Bernie Madoff play upon that last one. The wish is often the father to the belief.

Relatedly, perhaps, there are lottery-type preferences. People like long-odds bets and pay too much for them: this is why they back longshots (pdf) too much and pay over the odds for speculative shares . To such people, the fact that an offer seems too good to be true is therefore, paradoxically, tempting. A study of fraud by the OFT found :

Some people viewed responding to a scam as taking a long-odds gamble: they recognised that there was something wrong with the offer, but the size of the possible prize or reward (relative to the initial outlay) induced them to give it a try on the off-chance that it might be genuine.

There's a particular type that is especially likely to take a long-odds bet: the desperate. Lonely people are vulnerable to the romance scam; gamblers who have lost take big bets to get even; losing teams try "hail Mary" tactics. In like fashion, people who feel like they have lost out in the era of globalization were tempted to vote for Trump and Brexit.

There's another mechanism here: people are likely to turn to con-men if the alternatives have failed. Werner Troesken shows (pdf) how snake-oil sellers exploited this. They invested a lot in advertising and in product differentiation and so when other products failed they could claim that theirs would work when the others hadn't. I suspect that fund managers use a similar trick: the failure of many to beat the market leads investors simply to trust others rather than tracker funds. The fact that previous policies had failed working people thus encouraged them to try something different – be it Brexit or Trump.

Yet another trick here is the affinity fraud. We tend to trust people like ourselves, or who at least who look like ourselves. Farage's endless posturing as a "man of the people" – fag and pint in hand, not caring about "political correctness" – laid the basis for people to trust him, just as Bernie Madoff joined all the right clubs to encourage wealthy (often Jewish) folk to trust him. By contrast, the claims from the Treasury and various think-tanks that Brexit would make us poorer came from metropolitan elites who were so different from poorer working class people that they weren't trusted. And in fact the very talk of "liberal elites" carried the subtext: "don't trust them: they're not like you".

All of these tendencies have been reinforced by another – the fact that, as David Leiser and Zeev Kril have shown , people are bad at making connections in economics. The idea that Brexit would hurt us rested upon tricky connections: between the terms of Brexit and trade rules; from trade rules to actual trade; and from trade to productivity. By contrast, the idea that leaving the EU would save us money was simple and easy to believe.

Now, I don't say all this merely to be a Remoaner; complaining about liars is like a fish complaining that the water is wet. Instead, I want to point out that it is not sufficient to blame the BBC for not calling out Brexiters' lies. Yes, the BBC disgraced itself during the plebiscite campaign. But we must also understand how voters fall for such mendacity. As Akerlof and Shiller write:

Voters are phishable in two major ways. First, they are not fully informed; they are information phools. Second, voters are also psychological phools; for example, because they respond to appeals such as lawnmower ads [a candidate seen mowing his own lawn is regarded as a man of the people] ( Phishing for Phools , p 75)

All this raises a challenge for liberals. Many used to believe the truth would win out over lies in the marketplace for ideas. This is no longer true, if it ever were. Instead, the questions now are: what can we do about this? And what should we do? The two questions might well have different answers. But we can make a start by understanding how lies are sometimes believed. Keith | February 07, 2017 at 04:47 PM

The marketplace of ideas assumes that the consumers are able and willing to inform themselves and be rational rather than emotional. Clearly this is not true of a lot of voters when confronted by a manipulative press and Tories like Jim with their right wing agenda slyly hidden for the time being.

Equally as in other areas such as health care shopping around is impossible to do as the consumers lack expert knowledge. Allowing the profit motive to apply to many areas is sure to be a disaster for human welfare as the profit incentive stops the experts using their knowledge for good. Finance is a classic example of the uninformed being repeatedly duped into unsound investments decade after decade. Benjamin Graham describes how in his first job selling Bonds to grannies he came to realise that he was being asked to steal the life savings of pensioners via commissions designed to get a sale of junk paper. Which is why he moved elsewhere to a more ethical line of work. But I am sure leaving the biggest most integrated market in the world where lots of foreigners have helpfully learned our language will surely increase our prosperity....Nigel says so.

Matthew Moore | February 07, 2017 at 05:37 PM
There will always be gullible people (/ people constrained by high opportunity cost of information search, as I prefer to think of them)

And there will always be liars looking to take advantage of them. Like 99% of politicians ever.

It's very Marxist to wonder how we might change this basic fact of humanity, when the real solution is clear. Don't set up powerful central institutions that rely on coercion: it attracts liars, rewards them, and makes new liars out of honest people.

Dipper | February 07, 2017 at 07:47 PM
Oh, we Leavers are being lectured again by our Remainer betters on our stupidity.

If the statements of the amount we pay to the EU were lies, how come we owe them €50 billion?

how come no-one ever asks why we have to implement the four freedoms when Germany gets a free pass on the Free market in Services?

the government announced house building plans today, and no-one asks whether a cause of high house prices and a housing shortage is too much immigration?

It's not the lies, it's the questions never asked that stand out.

Dipper | February 07, 2017 at 08:09 PM
@ Keith - "Tories like Jim"

I don't read Jim as a Tory. I read him as someone who was a Labour supporter but now just stares in amazement at a group of people who have become EU Federalist fanatics spouting delusional slogans who can never answer a straight question and refuse to acknowledge the obvious problems of democratic accountability.

How on earth did that happen? How did apparently intelligent people completely lose their critical faculties and join a quasi-religious cult that chants empty slogans and denounces anyone who questions them?

But I'm sure Jim can speak for himself.

Ralph Musgrave | February 07, 2017 at 09:45 PM
Chris missed out the fact that people tend to give others the benefit of the doubt. I.e. if X tells a monster lie, peoples' immediate reaction is: "X is is a bastard". But then on second thoughts they feel ashamed at accusing someone else of being a bastard, and assume it's they themselves that must be wrong.

Sotto Voce | February 07, 2017 at 10:45 PM
There is a bit of a danger here of another comment thread being derailed with Brexit mud-slinging. Chris's post isn't really about the pros and cons of Brexit, it just offers a vivid example of the phenomenon under discussion.

The point Chris makes in the last paragraph is more general and profound. If any and all data/information/evidence/argument is interpreted in partisan fashion and subject to massive confirmation bias so that debates increasingly polarise - or if different sides in debates proffer their own favoured but incompatible versions of the truth - then meaningful dialogue, deliberation and compromise become near impossible. All we get is intolerance, mistrust and greater partisanship. Clearly these are not entirely new issues, but it seems undeniable that there has been a qualitative shift in 'quality' of public debate.

We appear to be witnessing the US political system at great risk of imploding, as enlightenment values are abandoned and key tenets of liberal democratic practice are wilfully rejected. This is the route to chaos.

The questions Chris poses are, to my mind at least, the right ones. The very nature of the problem means that the old/favoured remedies are unlikely to be effective. But what can replace them? Is a violent conflagration the only way of shocking the system out of hyper-partisanship and the rejection of the foundational belief that we live in a shared reality (i.e. for people to 'come to their senses')? Or can we back out of this particular cul-de-sac peacefully? You've got to hope so. But, if so, how?

e | February 07, 2017 at 10:57 PM
Our upper echelon, i.e. our long-standing middle of the road Labour MPs and commentators, have long been successful in fighting off calls for left leaning policy/talk of how things work (because who knows where this will end) under a guise of fighting off racism/ a closed shop mentality; the routes of least resistance 50s – 00s which should alert us to the ability of the English working class to embrace immigration and avoid base philosophies. But it seems not. Seems to me our shared interest beyond race creed colour and gender continues to be deliberately and systematically no-platformed. What I fail to understand, given the rise of UKIP, is why this is not glaringly obvious; because if you're one of the majority who live life as best you might with as much consideration and tolerance as you can muster where does credence go when an ordinary workers tendency to sound 'populist' is marked up to racism no matter known history...

aragon | February 07, 2017 at 11:53 PM
Not again!
Phishing for Phools. The Political Brain...

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/26/books/review/Brooks-t.html

"Serious thinkers set to work, and produced a long shelf of books answering this question. Their answers tended to rely on similar themes. First, Democrats lose because they are too intelligent. Their arguments are too complicated for American voters. Second, Democrats lose because they are too tolerant. They refuse to cater to racism and hatred. Finally, Democrats lose because they are not good at the dark art of politics. Republicans, though they are knuckle-dragging simpletons when it comes to policy, are devilishly clever when it comes to electioneering. They have brilliant political consultants like Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, who frame issues so fiendishly, they can fool the American people into voting against their own best interests."

And immigration is about economics. This is Sweden an immigration superpower.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/755997/Sweden-Malmo-military-intervention-no-go-zone-crime-surge

"Swedish police last year issued a report where it detailed incidents from more than 55 areas which it branded as "no-go zones" as it detailed brutal attacks on police, sexual assaults, children carrying weapons and general turmoil sweeping across the country."

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/most-europeans-want-muslim-ban-immigration-control-middle-east-countries-syria-iran-iraq-poll-a7567301.html

"A ban was supported by 71 per cent of people in Poland, 65 per cent in Austria, 53 per cent in Germany and 51 per cent in Italy.
In the UK, 47 per cent supported a ban.
In no country did more than 32 per cent disagree with a ban."

aragon | February 08, 2017 at 12:29 AM
Phishing for Phools

"It thereby explains a paradox: why, at a time when we are better off than ever before in history, all too many of us are leading lives of quiet desperation."

http://nfs.sparknotes.com/macbeth/page_162.html

"Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell,
Uproar the universal peace, confound
All unity on earth."

Human Nature has not changed.

Guano | February 08, 2017 at 12:42 AM
The truth is complicated.

The truth is challenging.

Tony Holmes | February 08, 2017 at 09:13 AM
Chris, a bit off the point, but if everyone followed your advice and put money in tracker funds and active funds disappeared, what would happen to the stock market ? Instinct tells me it would become extremely volatile, but instinct is a bad guide...

gastro george | February 08, 2017 at 09:35 AM
FFS aragon, that "report" from Sweden is from the Express quoting directly a Swedish fascist.

reason | February 08, 2017 at 11:29 AM
Isn't the key point here prospect theory (I've just finished reading Kahneman). People with no good options gamble.

reason | February 08, 2017 at 11:30 AM
P.S. The no good options bit is a very good reason for opposing first past the post and the limited options consequence.

aragon | February 08, 2017 at 11:47 AM
gasto george

It is not an extreme story, I don't speak Swedish or have any contact with Sweden. I only read the main stream media which includes the Daily Express.

As you would expect most of the media does not report on Sweden, unless it has a British angle.
e.g. Birmingham Boy killed by a hand grenade.
(I don't know how you can spin Hand Grenade)

The report originates with the Swedish Police the situation in Malmo is serious and individual police officers like Peter Springare's Facebook post.

Here is a report from the thelocal.se
http://www.thelocal.se/20170127/malmo-police-chief-help-us

"After a wave of violence in Sweden's third city, police boss Stefan Sintéus has appealed to residents in Malmö: "Help us. Help us to tackle the problems. Cooperate with us.""

Dipper | February 08, 2017 at 12:03 PM
@ gastro george

This isn't the first time facists have made inflammatory comments about muslims. Nick Griffin did this and was prosecuted for inciting racial hatred in 2006. The summary of what he said is some way down this article.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/tougher-race-laws-likely-after-bnp-pair-cleared-423820.html

Eleven years later we have this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-38845332

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with banning "fake news". You have to be really open, transparent and clear and be absolutely sure you are right, otherwise you end up making heroes of facists and stoking the notion that its all a plot to hide the truth from the people. And that is a really bad outcome.

MPs wrestling with their consciences, loud debates, arguments about the truth ... this is the sound of a properly functioning parliamentary democracy and long may that noise continue.

Guano | February 08, 2017 at 02:06 PM
The first two words of the article: Nick Cohen.

Nick Cohen does make some good points but he himself has a complicated relationship with the truth in some areas. When he isn't talking about congenital liars and congenital believers, he continues to get into a rage about people who opposed the invasion of Iraq. As far as I can see, the invasion of Iraq has been the disaster that some of us feared (because regime change involves putting in place a new regime change, which is very difficult and for which the USA and UK do not have the skills). And, as far as I can see, some of the assumptions made by Nick Cohen in 2002 and 2003 in supporting the invasion (such as the ability of the Iraqi National Congress to create a new regime) were very dubious and their weakness of these assumptions is why the invasion was a failure and has had created an array of other problems.

In his campaign to avoid a post-truth future, Nick Cohen claims that people like him "are on their own" and he explicitly rejects working with the kind of people who opposed the invasion of Iraq. That's a pity, really, because many people appear to have started their opposition to the invasion because the information provided and the logic used appeared to be dodgy. The period from August 2002 to March 2003 prefigured the Trump/Brexit era for post-truth information and arguments. Nick Cohen would be on stronger ground if he admitted that the invasion of Iraq has not necessarily worked to anyone's advantage.

I guess that what is going on in Nick Cohen's mind (and I can only guess) is that he has built up a negative image of the type of person who opposed the invasion of Iraq and he has difficulty getting past that image and come to terms with what those people were saying and what has actually happened in Iraq. Thus in between writing articles about the need for truth, Nick Cohen writes expressions of outrage about opponents of the invasion of Iraq as if they had been found to be wrong.

It seems to be a very extreme example of seeing the messenger and not the message, which is one of the issues with failing to recognise lies.

gastro george | February 08, 2017 at 02:24 PM
@aragon

OK, well I've worked most of my life with Swedes and Norwegians, and have regularly visited Malmo three or four times a year recently, although the last was a bit over a year ago.

So, yes, immigration is an issue, and the Sweden Democrats (fascists) have been rising in the polls. Malmo itself has some problems in the suburbs.

But there are no no-go areas. Armed violence has more traditionally been associated with biker-gang turf-related drug wars - otherwise with the far right (see Breivik in Norway) and then, as your last link discusses, lone serial killers.

Reading anything the Sweden Democrats have to say is the equivalent of believing Wilders in the Netherlands - they are loons.

Barbara Konstant | February 08, 2017 at 05:36 PM
Despairing as it seems, our humanity has not reached the necessary level of awareness needed to function peacefully in our world.

[Jan 30, 2017] Trivializing problems that comfortable people call attention to is just a variation of Be thankful you have anything at all. which, at the risk of overusing the phrase, is bullshit.

Notable quotes:
"... I agree with much of what James F writes but one thing that doesn't sit right with me about him commentary is his implication that if your complaint isn't about an immediate threat to life and limb then your complaint is frivolous. That's bullshit. Immediate threats to life and limb require immediate attention but once those threats are dealt with then what? ..."
Jan 30, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Dan Kervick : , January 28, 2017 at 06:38 AM
Two items for your reading pleasure:
Chris G -> Dan Kervick... , January 28, 2017 at 07:08 AM
+1 for Frank's piece. "Meh." to James F's. His crankiness, while justifiable, doesn't go anywhere.

Also, to say "Obama was defeated in the Massachusetts senatorial campaign [in 2009, the special election to replace Kennedy]." is to fundamentally misunderstand that race.

Coakley was a decent AG but utterly inept at connecting with voters. Brown couldn't win a battle of wits with a golden retriever but he was perceived as a nice guy. (Whether he actually is a nice guy is open to debate.)

Brown's victory wasn't a repudiation of Obama; it was a repudiation of Coakley.

Chris G -> Chris G ... , January 28, 2017 at 08:21 AM
I agree with much of what James F writes but one thing that doesn't sit right with me about him commentary is his implication that if your complaint isn't about an immediate threat to life and limb then your complaint is frivolous. That's bullshit. Immediate threats to life and limb require immediate attention but once those threats are dealt with then what?

Trivializing problems that "comfortable people" call attention to is just a variation of "Be thankful you have anything at all." which, at the risk of overusing the phrase, is bullshit. Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted but be self-aware enough to realize that whatever your position it is it may change.

PS James F writes:

"We [people in flyover country] provide commodities like food and coal and oil and metals."

Providing coal and oil may be a near-term necessity but it's not doing anyone - "comfortable people", "deplorables" or otherwise - any long-term favors. That you have acute concerns which you need to deal with is not an excuse to turn a blind eye to your impact on the world. It may be a reason but it is not an excuse.

Julio -> Chris G ... , January 28, 2017 at 11:41 PM
I agree with your take on both articles.

On the Mass race, i think the failure of Democrats to fight with all their guns for the 60th Senate seat was a major failure. They were not willing to send their big guns to say "we cannot afford a 40th Republican, no matter how nice he is".

[Jan 23, 2017] Give Trump a Chance by Eamonn Fingleton

From amazon review of his book In the Jaws of the Dragon "Anyone who has read "The World is Flat" should also read "In The Jaws Of The Dragon" to understand both sides of the issues involved in offshoring. Eamon Fingleton clearly defines the differences between the economic systems in play in China and Japan and the United States and how those differences have damaged the United States economy. The naive position taken by both the Republicans and the Democrats that offshoring is good for America is shown to be wrong because of a fundamental lack of knowledge about who we are dealing with. Every member of Congress and the executive branch should read this book before ratifying any more trade agreements. The old saying of the marketplace applies: Take advantage of me once, shame on you. Take advantage of me twice, shame on me."
Notable quotes:
"... Similar miscommunication probably helps explain the European media's unreflective scorn for Donald Trump. Most European commentators have little or no access to the story. They have allowed their views to be shaped largely by the American press. ..."
"... That's a big mistake. Contrary to their carefully burnished self-image of impartiality and reliability, American journalists are not averse to consciously peddling outright lies. This applies even in the case of the biggest issues of the day, as witness, for instance, the American press's almost unanimous validation of George Bush's transparently mendacious case for the Iraq war in 2003. ..."
"... Most of the more damning charges against Trump are either without foundation or at least are viciously unfair distortions. Take, for instance, suggestions in the run-up to the election that he is anti-Semitic. In some accounts it was even suggested he was a closet neo-Nazi. Yet for anyone remotely familiar with the Trump story, this always rang false. After all he had thrived for decades in New York's overwhelmingly Jewish real estate industry. Then there was the fact that his daughter Ivanka, to whom he is evidently devoted, had converted to Judaism. ..."
"... In appointing Jared Kushner his chief adviser, he has chosen an orthodox Jew (Kushner is Ivanka's husband). Then there is David Friedman, Trump's choice for ambassador to Israel. Friedman is an outspoken partisan of the Israeli right and he is among other things an apologist for the Netanyahu administration's highly controversial settlement of the West Bank. ..."
"... As is often the case with Trumpian controversies, the facts are a lot more complicated than the press makes out. ..."
"... So far, so normal for the 2016 election campaign. But it turned out that Kovaleski was no ordinary Trump-hating journalist. He suffers from arthrogryposis, a malady in which the joints are malformed. For Trump's critics, this was manna from heaven. Instead of merely accusing the New York real estate magnate of exaggerating a minor, if troubling, sideshow in U.S.-Arab relations, they could now arraign him on the vastly more damaging charge of mocking someone's disability. ..."
"... In any case in responding directly to the charge of mocking Kovaleski's disability, Trump offered a convincing denial. "I would never do that," he said. "Number one, I have a good heart; number two, I'm a smart person." ..."
"... other much discussed Trumpian controversies such as his disparaging remarks about Mexicans and Muslims. In the case of both Mexican and Muslims, an effort to cut back immigration is a central pillar of Trump's program and his remarks, though offensive, were clearly intended to garner votes from fed-up middle Americans. ..."
"... In reality, as the Catholics 4 Trump website has documented, the media have suppressed vital evidence in the Kovaleski affair. ..."
Jan 23, 2017 | www.unz.com
Battlefield communications in World War I sometimes left something to be desired. Hence a famous British anecdote of a garbled word-of-mouth message. As transmitted, the message ran, "Send reinforcements, we are going to advance." Superior officers at the other end, however, were puzzled to be told: "Send three and four-pence [three shillings and four-pence], we are going to a dance!"

Similar miscommunication probably helps explain the European media's unreflective scorn for Donald Trump. Most European commentators have little or no access to the story. They have allowed their views to be shaped largely by the American press.

That's a big mistake. Contrary to their carefully burnished self-image of impartiality and reliability, American journalists are not averse to consciously peddling outright lies. This applies even in the case of the biggest issues of the day, as witness, for instance, the American press's almost unanimous validation of George Bush's transparently mendacious case for the Iraq war in 2003.

Most of the more damning charges against Trump are either without foundation or at least are viciously unfair distortions. Take, for instance, suggestions in the run-up to the election that he is anti-Semitic. In some accounts it was even suggested he was a closet neo-Nazi. Yet for anyone remotely familiar with the Trump story, this always rang false. After all he had thrived for decades in New York's overwhelmingly Jewish real estate industry. Then there was the fact that his daughter Ivanka, to whom he is evidently devoted, had converted to Judaism.

Now as Trump embarks on office, his true attitudes are becoming obvious – and they hardly lean towards neo-Nazism.

In appointing Jared Kushner his chief adviser, he has chosen an orthodox Jew (Kushner is Ivanka's husband). Then there is David Friedman, Trump's choice for ambassador to Israel. Friedman is an outspoken partisan of the Israeli right and he is among other things an apologist for the Netanyahu administration's highly controversial settlement of the West Bank. Trump even wants to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This position is a favourite of the most ardently pro-Israel section of the American Jewish community but is otherwise disavowed as insensitive to Palestinians by most American policy analysts.

Many other examples could be cited of how the press has distorted the truth. It is interesting to revisit in particular the allegation that Trump mocked a disabled man's disability. It is an allegation which has received particular prominence in the press in Europe. But is Trump really such a heartless ogre? Hardly.

As is often the case with Trumpian controversies, the facts are a lot more complicated than the press makes out. The disabled-man episode began when, in defending an erstwhile widely ridiculed contention that Arabs in New Jersey had publicly celebrated the Twin Towers attacks, Trump unearthed a 2001 newspaper account broadly backed him up. But the report's author, Serge Kovaleski, demurred. Trump's talk of "thousands" of Arabs, he wrote, was an exaggeration.

Trump fired back. Flailing his arms wildly in an impersonation of an embarrassed, backtracking reporter, he implied that Kovaleski had succumbed to political correctness.

So far, so normal for the 2016 election campaign. But it turned out that Kovaleski was no ordinary Trump-hating journalist. He suffers from arthrogryposis, a malady in which the joints are malformed. For Trump's critics, this was manna from heaven. Instead of merely accusing the New York real estate magnate of exaggerating a minor, if troubling, sideshow in U.S.-Arab relations, they could now arraign him on the vastly more damaging charge of mocking someone's disability.

Trump's plea that he hadn't known that Kovaleski was handicapped was undermined when it emerged that in the 1980s the two had not only met but Kovaleski had even interviewed Trump in Trump Tower. That is an experience I know something about. I, like Kovaleski, once interviewed Trump in Trump Tower. The occasion was an article I wrote for Forbes magazine in 1982. If Trump saw my by-line today, would he remember that occasion 35 years ago? Probably not. The truth is that Trump, who has been a celebrity since his early twenties, has been interviewed by thousands of journalists over the years. A journalist would have to be seriously conceited – or be driven by a hidden agenda – to assume that a VIP as busy as Trump would remember an occasion half a lifetime ago.

In any case in responding directly to the charge of mocking Kovaleski's disability, Trump offered a convincing denial. "I would never do that," he said. "Number one, I have a good heart; number two, I'm a smart person." Setting aside point one (although to the press's chagrin, many of Trump's acquaintances have testified that a streak of considerable private generosity underlies his tough-guy exterior), it is hard to see how anyone can question point two. In effect Trump is saying he had a strong self-interest in not offending the disabled lobby let alone their millions of sympathisers.

After all it was not as if there were votes in dissing the disabled. This stands in marked contrast to other much discussed Trumpian controversies such as his disparaging remarks about Mexicans and Muslims. In the case of both Mexican and Muslims, an effort to cut back immigration is a central pillar of Trump's program and his remarks, though offensive, were clearly intended to garner votes from fed-up middle Americans.

In reality, as the Catholics 4 Trump website has documented, the media have suppressed vital evidence in the Kovaleski affair.

For a start Trump's frenetic performance bore no resemblance to arthrogryposis. Far from frantically flailing their arms, arthrogryposis victims are uncommonly motionlessness. This is because relevant bones are fused together. As Catholics 4 Trump pointed out, the media should have been expected to have been chomping at the bit to interview Kovaleski and thus clinch the point about how ruthlessly Trump had ridiculed a disabled man's disability.

The website added: "If the media had a legitimate story, that is exactly what they would have done and we all know it. But the media couldn't put Kovaleski in front of a camera or they'd have no story."

Catholics 4 Trump added that, in the same speech in which Trump did his Kovaleski impression, he offered an almost identical performance to illustrate the embarrassment of a U.S. general with whom he had clashed. In particular Trump had the general wildly flailing his arms. It goes without saying that this general does not suffer from arthogryposis or any other disability. The common thread in each case was merely an embarrassed, backtracking person. To say the least, commentators in Europe who have portrayed Trump as having mocked Kovaleski's disability stand accused of superficial, slanted reporting.

All this is not to suggest that Trump does not come to the presidency unencumbered with baggage. He is exceptionally crude – at least he is in his latter-day reality TV manifestation (the Trump I remember from my interview in 1982 was a model of restraint by comparison and in particular never used any expletives). Moreover the latter-day Trump habit of picking Twitter fights with those who criticize him tends merely to confirm a widespread belief that he is petty and thin-skinned.

Many of his pronouncements moreover have been disturbing and his abrasive manner will clearly prove on balance a liability in the White House. That said, the press has never worked harder or more dishonestly to destroy a modern American leader.

Let's give him the benefit of the doubt, therefore, as he sets out to make America great again. The truth is that American decline has gone much further than almost anyone outside American industry understands. Trump's task is a daunting one.

Eamonn Fingleton is an expert on America's trade problems and is the author of In Praise of Hard Industries: Why Manufacturing, Not the Information Economy, Is the Key to Future Prosperity (Houghton Mifflin, Boston). A version of this article appeared in the Dublin Ireland Sunday Business Post.

America's fate looks dicey in the showdown with the Chinese juggernaut, warns this vigorous jeremiad. Fingleton (In Praise of Hard Industries) argues that China's "East Asian" development model of aggressive mercantilism and a state-directed economy "effortlessly outperforms" America's fecklessly individualistic capitalism

[Jan 18, 2017] Marcy Wheeler On Fake News

Notable quotes:
"... By Marcy Wheeler, an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial. Originally published at emptywheel ..."
"... The Count of Monte-Cristo ..."
"... I believe it was Chomsky who said that the print media has content and filler, the content is the advertising and the filler is everything else. ..."
"... As advertising revenues have gone down, the print media may be looking for a new operating funds, maybe from wealthy owners (Bezos, Carlos Slim) paying for their views to be featured, maybe from US government hidden funding to "counter fake news" that is contrary to the story the elite wants told. ..."
"... If there is a feedback loop in the mainstream media, it is very slow and does not correct errors to result in lasting reform. ..."
"... The Times promoted the Iraq war and then had the Bill Keller retrospective "we got it wrong" years later. ..."
"... Then the Times moved onto promoting military action in Libya, the Ukraine and Syria. ..."
Jan 16, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. Marcy points out how what is considered to be "news" has changed greatly over time, and that the requirement that news be objective is recent and marketing-driven.

This essay covers a great deal of important ground. I'd like to add one topic, which is the role of propaganda. Even though organizations have done all sorts of evangelizing, the use of the media and social networks of the day for that purpose is relatively recent. Alex Carey in his book Taking the Risk Out of Democracy dates it to the early 1900s. One early, successful campaign led by the National Association of Manufacturers, already a leader in campaigning against organized labor, was to counter the backlash against immigration, which was then seen as a threat to American values and communities. One of their initiatives was institutionalizing "Americanization Day," later rebranded as "Independence Day."

As we've discussed before, the first full-bore government-sponsored propaganda campaign took place in World War I. The Creel Committee, an agency of the Federal government officially called the Committee on Public Information used all the communication vehicles of its day, not just newspapers. An overview from Wikipedia:

The committee used newsprint, posters, radio, telegraph, cable and movies to broadcast its message. It recruited about 75,000 "Four Minute Men," volunteers who spoke about the war at social events for an ideal length of four minutes, considering that the average human attention span was judged at the time to be four minutes. They covered the draft, rationing, war bond drives, victory gardens and why America was fighting. It was estimated that by the end of the war, they had made more than 7.5 million speeches to 314 million people in 5,200 communities. They were advised to keep their message positive, always use their own words and avoid "hymns of hate." For ten days in May 1917, the Four Minute Men were expected to promote "Universal Service by Selective Draft" in advance of national draft registration on June 5, 1917.

The CPI staged events designed for specific ethnic groups. For instance, Irish-American tenor John McCormack sang at Mount Vernon before an audience representing Irish-American organizations. The Committee also targeted the American worker and, endorsed by Samuel Gompers, filled factories and offices with posters designed to promote the critical role of American labor in the success of the war effort.

The CPI's activities were so thorough that historians later stated, using the example of a typical midwestern American farm family, that

Every item of war news they saw-in the country weekly, in magazines, or in the city daily picked up occasionally in the general store-was not merely officially approved information but precisely the same kind that millions of their fellow citizens were getting at the same moment. Every war story had been censored somewhere along the line- at the source, in transit, or in the newspaper offices in accordance with 'voluntary' rules established by the CPI.

The Creel Committee was able to turn America from being firmly pacifist to being eager to fight the evil Germans in a mere 18 months. In Serbia, a concerted propaganda campaign was able to turn public polls radically in a mere six weeks.

In other words, the hysteria about fake news appears to be members of the officialdom realizing that their traditional propaganda channels don't work because too many people get information on the Internet, and they can no longer orchestrate a Mighty Wurlitzer of unified opinion. This may seem obvious but surprisingly few people are willing to say that in simple terms. The reflex of government opinion managers and their media allies is to shut down or delegitimate offending outlets. But there are too many, not just in the US but overseas, for them to do that other than by severely curtailing Internet publication. Are they prepared to go the route of the Chinese government in terms of restricting foreign access and censoring domestic writers? That's the end game if they are serious about stopping what TPTB deems to be "fake news".

By Marcy Wheeler, an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial. Originally published at emptywheel

I've been getting into multiple Twitter fights about the term "fake news" of late, a topic about which I feel strongly but which I don't have time to reargue over and over. So here are the reasons I find the term "fake news" to be counterproductive, even aside from the way Washington Post magnified it with the PropOrNot campaign amidst a series of badly reported articles on Russia that failed WaPo's own standards of "fake news."

Most people who use the term "fake news" seem to be fetishizing something they call "news." By that, they usually mean the pursuit of "the truth" within an editor-and-reporter system of "professional" news reporting. Even in 2017, they treat that term "news" as if it escapes all biases, with some still endorsing the idea that "objectivity" is the best route to "truth," even in spite of the way "objectivity" has increasingly imposed a kind of both-sides false equivalence that the right has used to move the Overton window in recent years.

I've got news (heh) for you America. What we call "news" is one temporally and geographically contingent genre of what gets packaged as "news." Much of the world doesn't produce the kind of news we do, and for good parts of our own history, we didn't either. Objectivity was invented as a marketing ploy. It is true that during a period of elite consensus, news that we treated as objective succeeded in creating a unifying national narrative of what most white people believed to be true, and that narrative was tremendously valuable to ensure the working of our democracy. But even there, "objectivity" had a way of enforcing centrism. It excluded most women and people of color and often excluded working class people. It excluded the "truth" of what the US did overseas. It thrived in a world of limited broadcast news outlets. In that sense, the golden age of objective news depended on a great deal of limits to the marketplace of ideas, largely chosen by the gatekeeping function of white male elitism.

And, probably starting at the moment Walter Cronkite figured out the Vietnam War was a big myth, that elite narrative started developing cracks.

But several things have disrupted what we fetishize as news since them. Importantly, news outlets started demanding major profits, which changed both the emphasis on reporting and the measure of success. Cable news, starting especially with Fox but definitely extending to MSNBC, aspired to achieve buzz, and even explicitly political outcomes, bringing US news much closer to what a lot of advanced democracies have - politicized news.

And all that's before 2002, what I regard as a key year in this history. Not only was traditional news struggling in the face of heightened profit expectations even as the Internet undercut the press' traditional revenue model. But at a time of crisis in the financial model of the "news," the press catastrophically blew the Iraq War, and did so at a time when people like me were able to write "news" outside of the strictures of the reporter-and-editor arrangement.

I actually think, in an earlier era, the government would have been able to get away with its Iraq War lies, because there wouldn't be outlets documenting the errors, and there wouldn't have been ready alternatives to a model that proved susceptible to manipulation. There might eventually have been a Cronkite moment in the Iraq War, too, but it would have been about the conduct of the war, not also about the gaming of the "news" process to create the war. But because there was competition, we saw the Iraq War as a journalistic failure when we didn't see earlier journalistic complicity in American foreign policy as such.

Since then, of course, the underlying market has continued to change. Optimistically, new outlets have arisen. Some of them - perhaps most notably HuffPo and BuzzFeed and Gawker before Peter Thiel killed it - have catered to the financial opportunities of the Internet, paying for real journalism in part with clickbait stories that draw traffic (which is just a different kind of subsidy than the family-owned project that traditional newspapers often relied on, and these outlets also rely on other subsidies). I'm pretty excited by some of the journalism BuzzFeed is doing right now, but it's worth reflecting their very name nods to clickbait.

More importantly, the "center" of our national - indeed, global - discourse shifted from elite reporter-and-editor newspapers to social media, and various companies - almost entirely American - came to occupy dominant positions in that economy. That comes with the good and the bad. It permits the formulation of broader networks; it permits crisis on the other side of the globe to become news over here, in some but not all spaces, it permits women and people of color to engage on an equal footing with people previously deemed the elite (though very urgent digital divide issues still leave billions outside this discussion). It allows our spooks to access information that Russia needs to hack to get with a few clicks of a button. It also means the former elite narrative has to compete with other bubbles, most of which are not healthy and many of which are downright destructive. It fosters abuse.

But the really important thing is that the elite reporter-and-editor oligopoly was replaced with a marketplace driven by a perverse marriage of our human psychology and data manipulation (and often, secret algorithms). Even assuming net neutrality, most existing discourse exists in that marketplace. That reality has negative effects on everything, from financially strapped reporter-and-editor outlets increasingly chasing clicks to Macedonian teenagers inventing stories to make money to attention spans that no longer get trained for long reads and critical thinking.

The other thing to remember about this historical narrative is that there have always been stories pretending to present the real world that were not in fact the real world. Always. Always always always. Indeed, there are academic arguments that our concept of "fiction" actually arises out of a necessary legal classification for what gets published in the newspaper. "Facts" were insults of the king you could go to prison for. "Fiction" was stories about kings that weren't true and therefore wouldn't get you prison time (obviously, really authoritarian regimes don't honor this distinction, which is an important lesson in their contingency). I have been told that fact/fiction moment didn't happen in all countries, and it happened at different times in different countries (roughly tied, in my opinion, to the moment when the government had to sustain legitimacy via the press).

But even after that fact/fiction moment, you would always see factual stories intermingling with stuff so sensational that we would never regard it as true. But such sensational not-true stories definitely helped to sell newspapers. Most people don't know this because we generally learn a story via which our fetishized objective news is the end result of a process of earlier news, but news outlets - at least in the absence of heavy state censorship - have always been very heterogeneous.

As many of you know, a big part of my dissertation covered actual fiction in newspapers. The Count of Monte-Cristo , for example, was published in France's then equivalent of the WSJ. It wasn't the only story about an all powerful figure with ties to Napoleon Bonaparte that delivered justice that appeared in newspapers of the day. Every newspaper offered competing versions, and those sold newspapers at a moment of increasing industrialization of the press in France. But even at a time when the "news" section of the newspaper presented largely curations of parliamentary debates, everything else ran the gamut from "fiction," to sensational stuff (often reporting on technology or colonies), to columns to advertisements pretending to be news.

After 1848 and 1851, the literary establishment put out alarmed calls to discipline the literary sphere, which led to changes that made such narratives less accessible to the kind of people who might overthrow a king. That was the "fictional narrative" panic of the time, one justified by events of 1848.

Anyway, if you don't believe me that there has always been fake news, just go to a checkout line and read the National Enquirer, which sometimes does cover people like Hillary Clinton or Angela Merkel. "But people know that's fake news!" people say. Not all, and not all care. It turns out, some people like to consume fictional narratives (I have actually yet to see analysis of how many people don't realize or care that today's Internet fake news is not true). In fact, everyone likes to consume fictional narratives - it's a fundamental part of what makes us human - but some of us believe there are norms about whether fictional narratives should be allowed to influence how we engage in politics.

Not that that has ever stopped people from letting religion - a largely fictional narrative - dictate political decisions.

So to sum up this part of my argument: First, the history of journalism is about the history of certain market conditions, conditions which always get at least influenced by the state, but which in so-called capitalist countries also tend to produce bottle necks of power. In the 50s, it was the elite. Now it's Silicon Valley. And that's true not just here! The bottle-neck of power for much of the world is Silicon Valley. To understand what dictates the kinds of stories you get from a particular media environment, you need to understand where the bottle-necks are. Today's bottle-neck has created both what people like to call "fake news" and a whole bunch of other toxins.

But also, there has never been a time in media where not-true stories didn't comingle with true stories, and at many times in history the lines between them were not clear to many consumers. Plus, not-true stories, of a variety of types, can often have a more powerful influence than true ones (think about how much our national security state likes series like 24). Humans are wired for narrative, not for true or false narrative.

Which brings us to what some people are calling "fake news" - as if both "fake" and "news" aren't just contingent terms across the span of media - and insisting it has never existed before. These people suggest the advent of deliberately false narratives, produced both by partisans, entrepreneurs gaming ad networks, as well as state actors trying to influence our politics, narratives that feed on human proclivity for sensationalism (though stories from this year showed Trump supporters had more of this than Hillary supporters) served via the Internet, are a new and unique threat, and possibly the biggest threat in our media environment right now.

Let me make clear: I do think it's a threat, especially in an era where local trusted news is largely defunct. I think it is especially concerning because powers of the far right are using it to great effect. But I think pretending this is a unique moment in history - aside from the characteristics of the marketplace - obscures the areas (aside from funding basic education and otherwise fostering critical thinking) that can most effectively combat it. I especially encourage doing what we can to disrupt the bottle-neck - one that happens to be in Silicon Valley - that plays on human nature. Google, Facebook, and Germany have all taken initial steps which may limit the toxins that get spread via a very American bottle-neck.

I'm actually more worried about the manipulation of which stories get fed by big data. Trump claims to have used it to drive down turnout; and the first he worked with is part of a larger information management company. The far right is probably achieving more with these tailored messages than Vladimir Putin is with his paid trolls.

The thing is: the antidote to both of these problems are to fix the bottle-neck.

But I also think that the most damaging non-true news story of the year was Bret Baier's claim that Hillary was going to be indicted, as even after it was retracted it magnified the damage of Jim Comey's interventions. I always raise that in Twitter debates, and people tell me oh that's just bad journalism not fake news. It was a deliberate manipulation of the news delivery system (presumably by FBI Agents) in the same way the manipulation of Facebooks algorithms feeds so-called fake news. But it had more impact because more people saw it and people may retain news delivered as news more. It remains a cinch to manipulate the reporter-and-editor news process (particularly in an era driven by clicks and sensationalism and scoops), and that is at least as major a threat to democracy as non-elites consuming made up stories about the Pope.

I'll add that there are special categories of non-factual news that deserve notice. Much stock reporting, especially in the age of financialization, is just made up hocus pocus designed to keep the schlubs whom the elite profit off of in the market. And much reporting on our secret foreign policy deliberately reports stuff the reporter knows not to be true. David Sanger's recent amnesia of his own reporting on StuxNet is a hilarious example of this, as is all the Syria reporting that pretends we haven't intervened there. Frankly, even aside from the more famous failures, a lot of Russian coverage obscures reality, which discredits reports on what is a serious issue. I raise these special categories because they are the kind of non-true news that elites endorse, and as such don't raise the alarm that Macedonian teenagers making a buck do.

The latest panic about "fake news" - Trump's labeling of CNN and Buzzfeed as such for disseminating the dossier that media outlets chose not to disseminate during the election - suffers from some of the same characteristics, largely because parts of it remain shrouded in clandestine networks (and because the provenance remains unclear). If American power relies (as it increasingly does) on secrets and even outright lies, who's to blame the proles for inventing their own narratives, just like the elite do?

Two final points.

First, underlying most of this argument is an argument about what happens when you subject the telling of true stories to certain conditions of capitalism. There is often a tension in this process, as capitalism may make "news" (and therefore full participation in democracy) available to more people, but to popularize that news, businesses do things that taint the elite's idealized notion of what true story telling in a democracy should be. Furthermore, at no moment in history I'm aware of has there been a true "open" market for news. It is always limited by the scarcity of outlets and bandwidth, by laws, by media ownership patterns, and by the historically contingent bottle-necks that dictate what kind of news may be delivered most profitably. One reason I loathe the term "fake news" is because its users think the answer lies in non-elite consumers or in producers and not in the marketplace itself, a marketplace created in and largely still benefitting the US. If "fake news" is a problem, then it's a condemnation of the marketplace of ideas largely created by the US and elites in the US need to attend to that.

Finally, one reason there is such a panic about "fake news" is because the western ideology of neoliberalism has failed. It has led to increased authoritarianism, decreased qualify of life in developed countries (but not parts of Africa and other developing nations), and it has led to serial destabilizing wars along with the refugee crises that further destabilize Europe. It has failed in the same way that communism failed before it, but the elites backing it haven't figured this out yet. I'll write more on this (Ian Walsh has been doing good work here ). All details of the media environment aside, this has disrupted the value-laden system in which "truth" exists, creating a great deal of panic and confusion among the elite that expects itself to lead the way out of this morass. Part of what we're seeing in "fake news" panic stems from that, as well as a continued disinterest in accountability for the underlying policies - the Iraq War and the Wall Street crash and aftermath especially - enabled by failures in our elite media environment. But our media environment is likely to be contested until such time as a viable ideology forms to replace failed neoliberalism. Sadly, that ideology will be Trumpism unless the elite starts making the world a better place for average folks. Instead, the elite is policing discourse-making by claiming other things - the bad true and false narratives it, itself, doesn't propagate - as illegitimate.

"Fake news" is a problem. But it is a minor problem compared to our other discursive problems.

0 0 8 1 0 This entry was posted in Banana republic , Guest Post , Media watch , New McCarthyism , Politics , Social values , Surveillance state on January 16, 2017 by Yves Smith .
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Subscribe to Post Comments 19 comments epynonymous , January 16, 2017 at 6:51 am

Saw some fake TV today.

Episode 2 of the new gameshow "The Wall", which features up to ~$12 Million in possible prizes, they cheat the very first question.

Confirm it for yourself. The 'couple' (the game is for 'couples) is a military family. The hot-shot helo-pilot doesn't know who won the tortise and the hare.

He screams, the hare! And presses the button in plain sight.

Never-the-less he is rewarded a win. His wife later cannot tell the nicknames of the F-16 and the F-18 apart for 100% sure.

https://www.ohow.co/secret-%C9%A2oogle-com-trump-spam-google-analytics/

Also, a link which I can only guess details spammers who spam and then offer a solution to their spamming.

epynonymous , January 16, 2017 at 6:53 am

Once upon a time, the search string "I have a secret fake" in Google would return lone string of a book where a lone voice in the wilderness put in print that the whole show was 'managed.'

A sophisticated re-viewing shows it to have been 'faked' this is all back in the 50's. It's coming back, but two years after my last research on this, the same search string only gave me the above link to . what?

epynonymous , January 16, 2017 at 7:51 am

The tortise wins. Correction: The show's later episodes (just watched) reveal that answers in transit can be changed. So this is no repeat of 'Card Sharks' (Time magazine complicity included.)

It's awkward when nobody quite knows what exactly the rules are and the prize is so high.

It's going to be a weird week.

JTMcPhee , January 16, 2017 at 10:50 am

Let us remember Charles "The Genius Of All Time" Van Doren, and his skyrocket fame (what's the end point of a skyrocket's trajectory, again?) in the Great Quiz Show Manipulation of the '50s and early '60s, this story link from the NYT in 2008 kind of lifts some of the corners of the curtain that the Bernaysian manipulators hide behind, "After 49 years, Charles Van Doren talks," http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/21/opinion/21iht-edbeam.1.14660467.html

"For evil to triumph, all that is required is for a few good people to remain silent," or some such sh!t.

And there's this, on another YUUUGE cultural phenom, "The $64,000 Question," which was one of those "quiz" game shows my parents and us kids sat mesmerized watching, with visions of "free money" dancing in our peabrains, and which "program" (what a wonderful meme-name for what "media" does to us mopes) pure deceit and buzz-building on a par with state Lotteries: "The American Experience: The $64,000 Question," http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/quizshow/peopleevents/pande06.html (note that this was from PBS, in 1999, before the Reagan Rot had really gained a full head of steam).

Once again, the popular interpretation and infusion and internalization of "information" displaying and relating, "those who have eyes, let them see," the unhappy sicknesses of a pleasure-and-greed-driven human infestation gets it all wrong, finds no wisdom leading out of the cave, turns possible insights into just more grist for the Bernaysian mills to roll out

"Jerr-Y! Jerr-Y! Jerr-Y!" "And in the room the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo "

epynonymous , January 16, 2017 at 7:06 am

Just because I'm really on a tear, has anyone seen the Late Show where Colbert spends 12 minutes on Trump 'Golden Shower' rumors?

The piece even runs mainstream TV headlines about a "rift" between Trump and the intelligence agencies while never explaining a thing.

The inside angle on such 'rumors' (Russian rumors, I presume looking at you DNC ) is fit to be reported as fact in this case.

jabawocky , January 16, 2017 at 7:49 am

'In other words, the hysteria about fake news appears to be members of the officialdom realizing that their traditional propaganda channels don't work because too many people get information on the Internet, and they can no longer orchestrate a Mighty Wurlitzer of unified opinion.'

Bang on Yves. And I would add that if you run a propaganda machine, and are a little paranoid, any 'unauthorised' story on the web looks like someone else's propaganda.

Its wrong to put all this down to internet news however. Adam Curtis' 'Bitter Lake' is a must-see on this topic. Just like in 1980s Soviet Union where the stories of Russian greatness were so obviously contradicted by the experience of ordinary Russians of a failing state, the fakery of the war on terror propaganda has worn away our trust in the Mighty Wurlitzer. Curtis linked the cultural collapse of the Soviet Union intrinsically to the failure of the war in Afghanistan and the mirror it held up to the supposed values of Soviet Society, as trumpeted by their version of the Mighty Wurlitzer. And maybe he's right.

1933 Germany, 1989 Sovient Union, 2016 USA. All three stemmed from failures of the Mighty Wurlitzer. The big question is whether we will long for it back.

Clive , January 16, 2017 at 8:44 am

One for Curtis hardcore fans only (he really stretched his already tenuous hold on the conventions of documentary making in this one) but his latest, HyperNormalisation , takes the themes you refer to in your comment above and expands on them to explain how we got to Fake News.

Well worth a watch, if you can access it.

lyman alpha blob , January 16, 2017 at 8:23 am

Same as it ever was.

To go a little farther back, this book Infamous Scribblers about what passed as journalism back in the 18th century is a good read.

equote , January 16, 2017 at 8:38 am

http://www.dallasnews.com/business/stock-market/2017/01/16/will-public-company-go-way-dodo-bird

This doesn't read like fake news, but I would like to read nakedcapitalism's views on the trend, if it exists, and the implications for society etc.

NotTimothyGeithner , January 16, 2017 at 9:14 am

The last CEO of the company, a publicly traded company, where my dad worked before the sale to GE told my dad that in the future companies can't go public if they don't want to work for Wall Street wolves. This was around '95. Dad still goes to company reunions. Those weirdos liked their jobs.

Of course, the longer trend is business formation related. The Internet and social media booms are over, and those were the new IPOs of the last 20 years. The ends of growth are the real issues.

David , January 16, 2017 at 8:54 am

I don't think anybody is "fetishizing news," but whilst its true that there's a far greater variety of information sources today, and many of them are not subject to the pressures of conventional media, the implication that somehow the overall level of "truth" has gone up is not sustainable. If anything it's probably gone down. Those of us of a certain age remember a time when there were far more newspapers than today, when ownership was spread much more widely, and where newspapers had a lot more staff and were under a lot less commercial pressure than is the case now. You could, and did, allow for political bias, and it was possible, though not common, for blatant untruths to be published. But that was more difficult than it is today, because the barriers to entry were much higher, and the total media space was much smaller.
I also think its unfair to blame the problem solely on the effects of neoliberalism, damaging as those have been. Journalists themselves have to bear some of the blame. In the 1990s, it became fashionable to deride objectivity (mere "objectivity, a white, patriarchal western concept) as an objective of journalism. Because total objectivity was impossible, it was said, you shouldn't even try. And as a number of journalists at the time argued "you can't be objective between good and evil." The same people who lied about WMD in Iraq in 2002 had already lied about Bosnia a decade before, were to lie about Darfur a few years later and are busy lying about Syria, the Ukraine and "free trade" today. In each case, the argument is the same: the service of a higher moral principle. I've even heard it argued that Trump is such a terrible human being that journalists have not only a right but an actual duty to print anything that might cause him harm. To the extent that you abandon the demand that journalists should do their professional best to be as accurate as possible, and you see "news" itself as a contested, contingent term, it's hard to rationally criticise the actors in any of these episodes.

Vatch , January 16, 2017 at 9:37 am

What were the lies about Bosnia and Darfur?

dontknowitall , January 16, 2017 at 9:41 am

Interesting essay I am not mollified by reading that Google, Facebook and Germany are uniting to defeat 'fake news' and then remembering the recent rumors (fake news?) that Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook, is considering running for President so what happens when the bottle-neck king also runs the nation, or is even just thinking of it (Zuckerberg finding God recently comes to mind), when most voters are getting their news from their Facebook news feeds ? Would something mildly critical of Mark Zuckerberg survive 'fake' news review ?

Also, just because China has a walled garden doesn't save them from a torrent of local fake news. In the US the current business model of the internet news is actually a greater danger to democracy and that is the automated binning of consumers into narrow categories (right, left, techie etc) from which they find it hard to stray, if they even think of it, and so it makes it hard for a reader to see in his newsfeed countervailing news or analysis, people thus get polarized. The effort to find different/opposing opinions is not painless and quite by design. This trap has to be broken.

Quality education of the population and freer access to information are greater defenses of democracy and freedom the any Facebook designed filter.

susan the other , January 16, 2017 at 9:42 am

great essay. Makes me think there is some bedrock reality beneath all the noise that keeps us rational enough to survive. All forms of life display good judgment; practicality. So do we. So I'm not very concerned that we might be pants-less without an ideology to shroud all the embarrassing craziness. I'm encouraged by that prospect.

Disturbed Voter , January 16, 2017 at 9:54 am

Sheep get slaughtered I choose not to be a sheep. I had no choice in the 60s, when I had three oligopoly networks to choose from. With the Internet, I am my own reporter. This is more like how the printing press destroyed the Catholic Church. I make my own narrative, I don't let anyone else do it for me. Facts are few and far between, but they are just signposts on my own superhighway which I build myself. Are my beliefs factual? Are they for anyone? That was a rhetorical question. People who think their beliefs are The Truth are maniacs.

Altandmain , January 16, 2017 at 10:11 am

This whole "fake news" business is all about suppressing dissent, as others have noted.

The media tried to coronate Clinton. With falling advertising revenues in some cases, and decreasing trust in the mainstream media, they have begun to panic. They know that the people realize that they are the Pravda of plutocracy.

At the same time, the alternative media has grown with the Internet. It has reached growing members and allowed people to see the truth.

Counterpunch had a good article on this one:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/13/why-ridiculous-official-propaganda-still-works/

The reason why propaganda like "fake news" exists is to create a false narrative that can be repeated that people can believe in. The other of course is to force people to comply or face professional and financial consequences.

The thing is, I think that we've reached the limits of propaganda. Inequality has reached an extent that the myth that America is a meritocracy has failed, while efforts to force the American people to accept war have been faced with opposition.

Altandmain , January 16, 2017 at 10:56 am

One more point I should repeat. Perhaps a blatant example: Fox News has been making fake news for years and yet nobody called it out.

That's because it served the interests of the very rich. That's what this is all about.

John Wright , January 16, 2017 at 10:12 am

What is unsurprising is that the media does signal what the insiders want/plan to do.

I was in a library that had some old bound Life Magazines and decided to see what the Life covered just prior to the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

There was an article about a Midwest congressmen who was visiting his district, who knew his constituents did not want to go to war, but seemed to see the US entry into war likely.

Even Hollywood got into the act, as the Sergeant York (American WWI hero) 1941 movie was released on July 2, 1941, well before Pearl Harbor.

There seems to be little penalty for journalists getting it wrong, for example Tom Friedman, Nicholas Kristof, and Michael Gordon of the Times still have jobs after their "let's promote the Iraq War effort".

Judith Miller was the lone sacrificial lamb.

Some of them even re-write history, as sanctimonious Nicholas Kristof, while recently pimping for the USA's involvement in Syria (on humanitarian grounds, of course), pushed a "trust me on Syria" story by asserting his prior wisdom in his alleged strong opposition to the Iraq war.

Yet I archived an August 27, 2002 column in which he wrote:

"Iraq may well be different. President Bush has convinced me that there is no philosophical reason we should not overthrow the Iraqi government, given that Iraqis themselves would be better off, along with the rest of the world. But Mr. Bush has not overcome some practical concerns about an invasion."

What about ethical concerns, Kristof?

I believe it was Chomsky who said that the print media has content and filler, the content is the advertising and the filler is everything else.

As advertising revenues have gone down, the print media may be looking for a new operating funds, maybe from wealthy owners (Bezos, Carlos Slim) paying for their views to be featured, maybe from US government hidden funding to "counter fake news" that is contrary to the story the elite wants told.

If there is a feedback loop in the mainstream media, it is very slow and does not correct errors to result in lasting reform.

The Times promoted the Iraq war and then had the Bill Keller retrospective "we got it wrong" years later.

Then the Times moved onto promoting military action in Libya, the Ukraine and Syria.

The Times recently had an "Obama regrets Libya" retrospective, what other "we got it wrong" retrospectives will occur in the future?

Jamie , January 16, 2017 at 10:20 am

In the third paragraph Marcy begins talking about objectivity and then shifts to denigrating "objectivity" without a word about what the scare quotes mean to her. Now I understand that the language used by an oppressive system can itself be oppressive. But if "objectivity" omitted women and people of color, well, clearly that's bad, but what does that have to do with objectivity?

Maybe I'm just too old and out of touch to get the post modern project to dismantle objectivity and replace it with self-centered wishful thinking. But without objectivity, we would never have seen the civil rights movement or the rise of feminism in the sixties.

I was still very young during the civil rights movement so I won't talk about what I don't really know first hand, but the rise of feminism took place in the prime of my passionate youth. What many middle class women were experiencing in the '50s was a complete isolation in the suburbs and a feeling (due largely to rampant blaming the victim) that all the problems of their lives were their own personal problems. It was not until politically active women began to share their experiences in consciousness raising groups that they discovered that they were not alone in their experiences i.e. that many of their so-called personal problems were objectively imposed upon the entire group of women by the oppressive society. That is, these were not personal problems at all, they were socially constructed problems that effected all women to some degree. Without objectivity there could be no oppression theory, consciousness raising groups are transformed into support groups, oppression theory becomes psychology, and the oppression of women is dissolved into nothing more than the personal problems of individual women. Don't throw out the baby with the bath water.

[Jan 16, 2017] Bloomberg -- eminent fake news producer

Jan 16, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Central Intelligence Agency Director William Colby comment about the media - YouTube
Church Committee Hearings CIA William Colby 1975 - YouTube
A History of CIA Media Manipulation - YouTube

Here is what Bloomberg peddled for news yesterday.

Donald Trump's advisers have told U.K. officials that the incoming president's first foreign trip will be a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin , potentially in Reykjavik within weeks of taking office, the Sunday Times reported. Trump plans to begin working on a deal to limit nuclear weapons, the newspaper said, without providing details. It cited an unidentified source for the summit plans, and added that Moscow is ready to agree to the meeting , based on comments from officials at the Russian embassy in London. The paper, citing an unidentified adviser to Trump, told the Times that the president-elect, who will be sworn in on Jan. 20, will meet with Putin at a neutral venue "very soon." In eyeing Iceland's capital, Trump's team may be hoping to recreate the optics of a Reagan-era nuclear agreement. Former President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, then general secretary of the Soviet Union's Communist Party, held a two-day summit in Reykjavik in October 1986 to work on what eventually became a major nuclear disarmament treaty between the two superpowers in 1987. Trump's transition team didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Did the media just make up this story out of thin air in an attempt to further deride Trump? I must admit, only in a bizarre world, such as the one created by the left for the left, is holding meetings with a military super power in the attempts to normalize relations and preserve peace considered a bad thing. Alas, we are living in an era of war, where the military industrial complex works overtime to control useful idiots to foment anger and sway public opinion towards (you guessed it) MOAR WAR. This story was likely leaked by team Trump on purpose, in order to make the media look like jackass fools. By leaking falsehoods to an ornery and invective media, Trump keeps them on their toes and makes them second guess anything they hear coming out of his quarters, an effective disinformation strategy used to fool an enemy during a time of war.

Content originally generated at iBankCoin.com

espirit -> pparalegal , Jan 15, 2017 7:59 PM

Strange feeling that pressure put on Trump to divest association with Putin / Russia by U.S. intelligence community / MSM, is moar than meets the eye fact sheet. Threats, veiled or otherwise appear to be perceived deterrents by those in D.C. who would shun any illumination into their illegal and corrupt activities, thus a Trump / Putin alliance could very well expose many conspiritors.

Vlad the Impaler is coming to town.

I imagine Putin has some dirt on a lot of DC SwampCreatures©. (Marvel issue #27)

Be very afraid of the light, mofo's.

pparalegal , Jan 15, 2017 7:45 PM

Brilliant. This guy is good. All that will be left of the talking parrots and pretend news media empires will be 18 year old interns translating his tweets and asking John Lewis for comments to go with Obama's daily preaching to the flock. The leftover time will be filled with protesters burning tires and viagra commercials.

Hollywood screen writers take note.

TeethVillage88s -> dexter_morgan , Jan 15, 2017 6:19 PM

Timely work by the fly. Guy is on top of it.

-

"Did the media just make up this story out of thin air in an attempt to further deride Trump? I must admit, only in a bizarre world, such as the one created by the left for the left, is holding meetings with a military super power in the attempts to normalize relations and preserve peace considered a bad thing. Alas, we are living in an era of war, where the military industrial complex works overtime to control useful idiots to foment anger and sway public opinion towards (you guessed it) MOAR WAR."

- Hope there are forensics on this work of fiction

rwe2late , Jan 15, 2017 12:55 PM

Too bad the reported visit is fake.

As I had posted, it would be a good idea to defuse the situation O-Bomb-A and his NATO

underlings have made in Europe. The danger of a sudden escalated military conflict is real

(deliberate, inadvertant, or contrived).

So now, I guess, Trump will meet first with the bosses of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the 'City of London'.

TeethVillage88s -> rwe2late , Jan 15, 2017 6:29 PM

Since 1989 the Political Elite and Corporate Elite don't care who the enemy is as long as there is an Enemy.

- Except hands off Israel, and don't support Palestine - And Except for Saudi Arabia - And Except for UK, Canada, Mexico, Aus, EU... but we don't mind fucking with NATO Countries Politics using Operation Gladio type Strategy of Tension or shipping in Millions of Refugees from M.E. - And well there are 7-8 countries we want to collapse and maybe Venezuela and Argentina and Brazil

Yup, this is foreign policy and your foreign policy tax dollars at work.

rudyspeaks , Jan 15, 2017 12:06 PM

The MSM is not now, and has never been, "liberal" let alone,"left wing". It's owned by 5 groups of right-wing billionaires (4 families, Murdochs, Luces, Disneys and Redstones, and Comcast). When Georgie W was lying us into the Iraq war-crime they supported the war push with a full-blown media "narrative" of its inevidebility plus a 4-to1 ratio of rightwing liars (Bush, Rice, Cheney, etc) to people telling the truth. Still, as my conservative friends noted, foreign interventions and "nation-building" are anathema to the conservative cause. Thus, rather than tar them with Bush's failures, I realized that W's administration was simply a group of hypocrites, rich thugs, intent on serving their wealthy patrons. May I suggest, after 8 years of the same hypocracy from the Obama administration, the same dynamic holds. "Liberals", real "left wing people" (I include myself) would never call for martial law (thanks, Rosy!), any more than they'd support war-crime invasions (see "Libya", "Ukraine", "Syria") or right-wing coups (see "Honduras"). Let's let up on the labels, folks. We're all up against a force that has demonstrated NO IDEOLOGY above and beyond enriching their own tiny, wealthy cabal. WE is all we got.

TeethVillage88s -> heuvosYbacon , Jan 15, 2017 6:49 PM

I'm not sure barfinmymouth has got it, but you do get it.

Corruption has peaked and we have to start disassembly.

- Time to destroy powerful political aparati. - Time to reform, Term Limits, money in politics, unlimited money in politic, Lobbying, Foreign Lobbying, Foreign Agents in the USA, PACs, Think Tanks, Foundations,... the Very Heart of English Corruption which it's adherents run around supporting... Money is not free speech... Corruption of Media and Oligopolies in General are not Freedom, Liberty or Free Speech

Reorganization in the USA is now required,... organizations have to be down-sized

jeff montanye -> The Management , Jan 15, 2017 2:13 PM

my favorite phrase was "left wing militarist war mongers."

the snowflakes can't take much heat themselves, and go into teary rages at the insults halloween costumes visit on various underclass ethnic groups, but are only too ready to send a hail of explosive death on poor, brown people defending their lands from the empire.

one million dead? three? not enough apparently.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/unworthy-victims-western-wars-have-...

El Oregonian -> WhyDoesItHurtWhen iPee , Jan 15, 2017 7:17 PM

"In a time of universal deceit; tellng the truth is a revolutionary act" -George Orwell

[Jan 12, 2017] Kahn is completely clueless as for origin of rumors

What a completely naive, completely pseudoscientific nonsense. The guy is completely clueless about driving forces of rumors.: it is the distrust to the official channels that drives them
Notable quotes:
"... Think of headlines such as "Elvis is Alive". This is an old example of fake news. ..."
"... "Fake News" has no social consequences in cases #1 or case #4. Case #3 will feature no strategic element. This is just Tiebout sorting in ideological space. For example, climate change deniers say the world isn't warming and climate deniers go to this website and read this and the echo continues. ..."
"... What is it about the demanders that they don't recognize the "fake news" when they read it? Are they dumb? Are they eager to see stories that confirm their prior worldview? What is the source of this heterogeneity parameter related to their "susceptibility" to be infected? ..."
"... Most of the time what people believes is not truth. Fake news is pervasive. ..."
"... I choose to believe the fake news from WikiLeaks before I believe the fake news from Langley. It is all fake. Through the Looking Glass! Who are the traitors? ..."
"... Though it's impossible for an average U.S. citizen to know precisely what the U.S. intelligence community may have in its secret files, some former NSA officials who are familiar with the agency's eavesdropping capabilities say Washington's lack of certainty suggests that the NSA does not possess such evidence. ..."
"... For instance, that's the view of William Binney, who retired as NSA's technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and who created many of the collection systems still used by NSA. ..."
"... Binney, in an article co-written with former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, said, "With respect to the alleged interference by Russia and WikiLeaks in the U.S. election, it is a major mystery why U.S. intelligence feels it must rely on 'circumstantial evidence,' when it has NSA's vacuum cleaner sucking up hard evidence galore. What we know of NSA's capabilities shows that the email disclosures were from leaking, not hacking." ..."
"... However, Clapper's own credibility is suspect in a more relevant way. In 2013, he gave false testimony to Congress regarding the extent of the NSA's collection of data on Americans. Clapper's deception was revealed only when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of the NSA program to the press, causing Clapper to apologize for his "clearly erroneous" testimony. ..."
"... "Clapper's own credibility is suspect". Fool me once shame on you...fool me twice shame on me. How long did the national security state really think it could get away with their BS? ..."
"... Well, they've owned every president since Reagan; they own all the think tanks; they own 90% of congress; they own all the major media; they endow all the "elite" private universities - why shouldn't they think they could get away with it? ..."
"... Kahn is completely clueless. The main driving force behind the spread of rumors (which now are called "fake news") is the distrust of the official channels. Yes, it is a sign of sickness of the social organism, but only in a sense that fish rots from the top. And actually the same forces that facilitate spread of rumors push people to alternative news channels: official channels are viewed too compromised. So nobody believe anything published in them, even if they publish truth. libezkova -> libezkova... January 08, 2017 at 06:59 AM Tamotsu Shibutani viewed rumors as a process of collective problem-solving in ambiguous situations. His old book "Improvised News: A Sociological Study of Rumor"(1966) had received some press in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and it should be studied now too. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0672511487 It is a much deeper study than incoherent thoughts of Professor Kahn on the topic. You might be surprised by the relevance of his work to current neoliberal MSM crusade against rumors. They feel that they lost trust and now are losing relevance; and they are adamant to do something to reverse this process. But they are barking to the wrong tree. ilsm -> libezkova... Truth is a rare commodity. The "press" in the US has always been owned. In the 1830's it was owned by slave holders in one section and factory owners in another. One opposed to tariffs and the central government growing strong from manufactures. The other for tariffs and weakening the slave economy which funded the anti tariff regime. It is rarely 'news' it is indoctrination. ..."
"... The press in the usa was always "owned" but at one time it was far more socialized/regulated than it was today: (1) Our government stopped trust-busting media conglomerates. (2) The fairness doctrine was gutted and repealed. (3) Right wing political appointees were placed in leadership roles at the CPB (PBS and NPR) and opened them to funding by large corporations. ..."
"... Obvious propaganda and distortion should be illegal in much the same way financial fraud is (should be) illegal. ..."
"... "Normal people" in a neoliberal society, like "normal people" in the USSR are those who are adapted to life in official "fake news" aquarium, created by neoliberal MSM. And resigned to this, because they value the society they live in and can't image any alternative. Remember Matrix. ..."
"... Yurchak's Master-idea is that the Soviet system was an example of how a state can prepare its own demise in an invisible way. It happened in Russia through unraveling of authoritative discourse by Gorbachev's naive but well-meaning shillyshallying undermining the Soviet system and the master signifiers with which the Soviet society was "quilted" and held together. ..."
"... This could a cautionary tale for America as well because the Soviet Union shared more features with American modernity than the Americans themselves are willing to admit. ..."
"... The Soviet Union wasn't "evil" in late stages 1950-1980s. The most people were decent. The Soviet system, despite its flaws, offered a set of collective values. There were many moral and ethical aspects to Soviet socialism, and even though those values have been betrayed by the state, they were still very important to people themselves in their lives. ..."
"... These values were: solidarity, community, altruism, education, creativity, friendship and safety. Perhaps they were incommensurable with the "Western values" such as the rule of law and freedom, but for Russians they were the most important. ..."
"... Yurchak demolishes the view that the only choices available to late Soviet citizens were either blind support (though his accounts of those figures who chose this path are deeply chilling) or active resistance, while at the same time showing how many of the purported values of Soviet socialism (equality, education, friendship, community, etc) were in fact deeply held by many in the population. ..."
"... his basic thesis is that, for most Soviet people, the attitude toward the authorities was "They pretend to make statements that corresponded to reality, and we pretend to believe them." ..."
"... People were expected to perform these rituals, but they developed "a complexly differentiating relationship to the ideological meanings, norms, and values" of the Soviet state. "Depending on the context, they might reject a certain meaning, norm or value, be apathetic about another, continue actively subscribing to a third, creatively reinterpret a fourth, and so on." (28-29) ..."
"... The result was that, as the discourse of the late Soviet period ossified into completely formalist incantations (a process that Yurchak demonstrates was increasingly routinized from the 1950s onwards), Soviet citizens participated in these more for ritualistic reasons than because of fervent belief, which in turn allowed citizens to fill their lives with other sources of identity and meaning. ..."
"... All of which is to say that the book consists of a dramatic refutation of the "totalitarianism" thesis, demonstrating that despite the totalitarian ambitions of the regime, citizens were continually able to carve out zones of autonomy and identification that transcended the ambitions of the Authoritative discourse. ..."
"... "And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace." ..."
"... Then review Orwell. See who decides what is "justice"! The US became prosecutor, lawyer, jury and executioner anywhere it pleased, to anybody who could not fight back. ..."
"... Yes exactly, from the ashes into the fire. As bad as the official channels sometimes can be, the unofficial are much worse. The 30 years of Faux news and "think tanks" has done a lot more long-term harm to society than most people realize. ..."
"... Just like trying to determine the lesser of two evils in political campaigns. Oh, I forgot! Most politicians' official positions are just lies anyway...as we know from Obama's 2008 campaign and his subsequent behavior. ..."
Jan 08, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

The Economics of Fake News Environmental and Urban Economics

I see that Paul Krugman is talking abou t the consequences of Fake News so I will enter this market and supply some thoughts. I will define fake news as stories that are "juicy" but not true.

Think of headlines such as "Elvis is Alive". This is an old example of fake news.

... ... ...

There are four cases to consider.

"Fake News" has no social consequences in cases #1 or case #4. Case #3 will feature no strategic element. This is just Tiebout sorting in ideological space. For example, climate change deniers say the world isn't warming and climate deniers go to this website and read this and the echo continues.

I believe that Dr. K is mainly concerned with Case #2. What % of all suspect stories fall into this category? Dr. K has a cynical model in mind in which sophisticated agents (think of Trump and Putin) manipulate the gullible public with messages and then the Facebook and Internet accelerate this information throughout the system as it infects billions and influences real events.

Case #2 raises some deep issues, I will state them as questions;

1. What is it about the demanders that they don't recognize the "fake news" when they read it? Are they dumb? Are they eager to see stories that confirm their prior worldview? What is the source of this heterogeneity parameter related to their "susceptibility" to be infected?

2. In public health, we quarantine those who may spread contagion. Is Dr. K. calling for a messaging quarantine of the "susceptible people" or is he proposing ending free speech for those who spread the contagion?

3. If there is objective reality, do those who are susceptible to "fake news" update their beliefs as this reality changes over time?

4. In a world featuring heterogeneous news consumers, and profit maximizing news sellers what are pareto improving government interventions? When I taught at the Fletcher School, one student suggested that there should be a constitutional amendment requiring people to watch the PBS News Hour each night.

5. In a world featuring heterogeneous news consumers, and Russian propagandist news suppliers, what are pareto improving government interventions for the nations that Russia is targeting with this news? So, the U.S is fighting a war on terror ---- will we now open up a "second front" as we start a "war on foreign propaganda"?

6. Why has "fake news" become an issue now? What is it about 2016? Has Facebook made communication "too cheap"? Has Russia recognized this opportunity and increased its supply of fake news? In the old days, Pravda was filled with such news.

... ... ...

ilsm : January 08, 2017 at 04:30 AM

On Kahn's analysis of fake news.

Most of the time what people believes is not truth. Fake news is pervasive.

ilsm -> ilsm... , January 08, 2017 at 04:54 AM
On Assange:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/wikileaks-criticizes-obama-administration-in-rather-ironic-way-173523707.html

The guys who leak documents for a living pointing out the establish leaks them to sway opinion!

I choose to believe the fake news from WikiLeaks before I believe the fake news from Langley. It is all fake. Through the Looking Glass! Who are the traitors?

RGC -> ilsm... , January 08, 2017 at 06:03 AM
US Report Still Lacks Proof on Russia 'Hack' , January 7, 2017
................
Though it's impossible for an average U.S. citizen to know precisely what the U.S. intelligence community may have in its secret files, some former NSA officials who are familiar with the agency's eavesdropping capabilities say Washington's lack of certainty suggests that the NSA does not possess such evidence.

For instance, that's the view of William Binney, who retired as NSA's technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and who created many of the collection systems still used by NSA.

Binney, in an article co-written with former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, said, "With respect to the alleged interference by Russia and WikiLeaks in the U.S. election, it is a major mystery why U.S. intelligence feels it must rely on 'circumstantial evidence,' when it has NSA's vacuum cleaner sucking up hard evidence galore. What we know of NSA's capabilities shows that the email disclosures were from leaking, not hacking."

There is also the fact that both WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and one of his associates, former British Ambassador Craig Murray, have denied that the purloined emails came from the Russian government. Going further, Murray has suggested that there were two separate sources, the DNC material coming from a disgruntled Democrat and the Podesta emails coming from possibly a U.S. intelligence source, since the Podesta Group represents Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments.

In response, Clapper and other U.S. government officials have sought to disparage Assange's credibility, including Clapper's Senate testimony on Thursday gratuitously alluding to sexual assault allegations against Assange in Sweden.

However, Clapper's own credibility is suspect in a more relevant way. In 2013, he gave false testimony to Congress regarding the extent of the NSA's collection of data on Americans. Clapper's deception was revealed only when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of the NSA program to the press, causing Clapper to apologize for his "clearly erroneous" testimony.
....................
https://consortiumnews.com/2017/01/07/us-report-still-lacks-proof-on-russia-hack/

JohnH -> RGC...
"Clapper's own credibility is suspect". Fool me once shame on you...fool me twice shame on me. How long did the national security state really think it could get away with their BS?

Well, they've owned every president since Reagan; they own all the think tanks; they own 90% of congress; they own all the major media; they endow all the "elite" private universities - why shouldn't they think they could get away with it?

libezkova -> ilsm... , January 08, 2017 at 06:20 AM

Kahn is completely clueless. The main driving force behind the spread of rumors (which now are called "fake news") is the distrust of the official channels.

Yes, it is a sign of sickness of the social organism, but only in a sense that fish rots from the top.

And actually the same forces that facilitate spread of rumors push people to alternative news channels: official channels are viewed too compromised. So nobody believe anything published in them, even if they publish truth.

libezkova -> libezkova... January 08, 2017 at 06:59 AM

Tamotsu Shibutani viewed rumors as a process of collective problem-solving in ambiguous situations.

His old book "Improvised News: A Sociological Study of Rumor"(1966) had received some press in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and it should be studied now too.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0672511487

It is a much deeper study than incoherent thoughts of Professor Kahn on the topic.

You might be surprised by the relevance of his work to current neoliberal MSM crusade against rumors. They feel that they lost trust and now are losing relevance; and they are adamant to do something to reverse this process. But they are barking to the wrong tree.

ilsm -> libezkova...
Truth is a rare commodity. The "press" in the US has always been owned. In the 1830's it was owned by slave holders in one section and factory owners in another. One opposed to tariffs and the central government growing strong from manufactures. The other for tariffs and weakening the slave economy which funded the anti tariff regime. It is rarely 'news' it is indoctrination.

Peace and freedom are not valued in the US or many other places.

yuan -> ilsm.. .
The press in the usa was always "owned" but at one time it was far more socialized/regulated than it was today: (1) Our government stopped trust-busting media conglomerates. (2) The fairness doctrine was gutted and repealed. (3) Right wing political appointees were placed in leadership roles at the CPB (PBS and NPR) and opened them to funding by large corporations.

Obvious propaganda and distortion should be illegal in much the same way financial fraud is (should be) illegal.

libezkova -> ilsm... January 08, 2017 at 11:09 AM
"It is rarely 'news' it is indoctrination."

Exactly. That's why those people who question MSM coverage, and who try to get the "second opinion" on the current events from blogs, and other alternative channels are considered to be traitors.

Neoliberal MSMs are major producer of fake news as in foreign coverage they are guided by State Department talking points. What they are adamantly against is "somebody else" fake news. They want full monopoly on coverage.

What they trying to tell us during this McCarthyism compaign is the following: "Unapproved, rogue fake news of questionable origin are evil, only State Department approved fakes are OK".

This is another, slightly more interesting, variant of "political correctness" enforcement in a given society.

"Normal people" in a neoliberal society, like "normal people" in the USSR are those who are adapted to life in official "fake news" aquarium, created by neoliberal MSM. And resigned to this, because they value the society they live in and can't image any alternative. Remember Matrix.

There is a special term for the psychological condition of the large part of the USSR population who adapted to live such an "artificial, fake reality" and even may protest if they are provided with a more objective picture as this created a cognitive dissonance. It is Stockholm Syndrome. The condition common among the members of "high demand" cults.

The same happened in the USA. This neoliberal ideological captivity with its own set of myths and falsehood reminds me USSR Bolshevism ideology, which was an official, dominant ideology for Soviet people. Indoctrination was obligatory.

The net results was the same as now in the USA -- the dead ideology burdens, like a nightmare, the minds of the living.

As Marx noted: "history repeats itself, the first as tragedy, then as farce"

Alexei Yurchak's 2006 book "Everything was Forever, Until it was No More: The Last Soviet Generation" called this condition of ideological Stockholm syndrome "hypernormalization"

https://www.amazon.com/Everything-Forever-Until-More-Formation/dp/0691121176

He argues that during the last 20 or so years of the Soviet Union, everyone in the USSR knew the system wasn't working, but as no one has real alternative and both politicians and citizens were resigned to pretending that the can should be kicked down the road. A typical attitude of Hillary supporters.

This "constant pretending" was accepted as normal behavior and the fake reality thus created was accepted as necessary evil, nessesary for normal functining of the society. The whole society reminded me large "high demand" cult from which members can't escape.

While Yurchak called this effect "hypernormalisation." in reality this probably should be called "ideological Stockholm syndrome". Stockholm syndrome is a psychological condition that causes hostages to develop sympathetic sentiments towards their captors, often sharing their opinions and acquiring romantic feelings for them as a survival strategy during captivity.

Looking at events over the past few years, one would notice that the neoliberal society is experiencing the same psychological condition.

Here are a couple of insightful reviews of the book

== quote ==

Igor Biryukov on November 1, 2012

A cautionary tale

In America there was once a popular but simplistic image of the Soviet Russia as the Evil Empire destined to fall, precisely because it was unfree and therefore evil. Ronald Reagan who advocated it also once said that the Russian people do not have a word for "freedom". Not so fast -- says Alexei Yurchak.

He was born in the Soviet Union and became a cultural anthropologist in California. He employs linguistic structural analysis in very interesting ways. For him, the Soviet Union was once a stable, entrenched, conservative state and the majority of Russian people -- actually myself included -- thought it would last forever. But the way people employ language and read ideologies can change. That change can be undetectable at first, and then unstoppable.

Yurchak's Master-idea is that the Soviet system was an example of how a state can prepare its own demise in an invisible way. It happened in Russia through unraveling of authoritative discourse by Gorbachev's naive but well-meaning shillyshallying undermining the Soviet system and the master signifiers with which the Soviet society was "quilted" and held together.

According to Yurchak "In its first three or four years, perestroika was not much more than a deconstruction of Soviet authoritative discourse".

This could a cautionary tale for America as well because the Soviet Union shared more features with American modernity than the Americans themselves are willing to admit.

The demise of the Soviet Union was not caused by anti-modernity or backwardness of Russian people.

The Soviet experiment was a cousin of Western modernity and shared many features with the Western democracies, in particular its roots in the Enlightenment project.

The Soviet Union wasn't "evil" in late stages 1950-1980s. The most people were decent. The Soviet system, despite its flaws, offered a set of collective values. There were many moral and ethical aspects to Soviet socialism, and even though those values have been betrayed by the state, they were still very important to people themselves in their lives.

These values were: solidarity, community, altruism, education, creativity, friendship and safety. Perhaps they were incommensurable with the "Western values" such as the rule of law and freedom, but for Russians they were the most important.

For many "socialism" was a system of human values and everyday realities which wasn't necessarily equivalent of the official interpretation provided by the state rhetoric.

Yurchak starts with a general paradox within the ideology of modernity: the split between ideological enunciation, which reflects the theoretical ideals of the Enlightenment, and ideological rule, which are the practical concerns of the modern state's political authority. In Soviet Union the paradox was "solved" by means of dogmatic political closure and elevation of Master signifier [Lenin, Stalin, Party] but it doesn't mean the Western democracies are immune to totalitarian temptation to which the Soviet Union had succumbed.

The vast governmental bureaucracy and Quango-state are waiting in the shadows here as well, may be ready to appropriate discourse.

It is hard to agree with everything in his book. But it is an interesting perspective.

... ... ...

Nils Gilmanon April 23, 2014

A brilliant account of the interior meaning of everyday life for ordinary soviet citizens

Just loved this -- a brilliant study of how everyday citizens (as opposed to active supporters or dissidents) cope with living in a decadent dictatorship, through strategies of ignoring the powerful, focusing on hyperlocal socialities, treating ritualized support for the regime as little more than an annoying chore, and withdrawal into subcultures.

Yurchak demolishes the view that the only choices available to late Soviet citizens were either blind support (though his accounts of those figures who chose this path are deeply chilling) or active resistance, while at the same time showing how many of the purported values of Soviet socialism (equality, education, friendship, community, etc) were in fact deeply held by many in the population.

While his entire account is a tacit meditation on the manifold unpleasantnesses of living under the Soviet system, Yurchak also makes clear that it was not all unpleasantness and that indeed for some people (such as theoretical physicists) life under Soviet socialism was in some ways freer than for their peers in the West. All of which makes the book function (sotto voce) as an explanation for the nostalgia that many in Russia today feel for Soviet times - something inexplicable to those who claim that Communism was simply and nothing but an evil.

The theoretical vehicle for Yurchak's investigation is the divergence between the performative rather than the constative dimensions of the "authoritative discourse" of the late Soviet regime. One might say that his basic thesis is that, for most Soviet people, the attitude toward the authorities was "They pretend to make statements that corresponded to reality, and we pretend to believe them."

Yurchak rightly observes that one can neither interpret the decision to vote in favor of an official resolution or to display a pro-government slogan at a rally as being an unambiguous statement of regime support, nor assume that these actions were directly coerced. People were expected to perform these rituals, but they developed "a complexly differentiating relationship to the ideological meanings, norms, and values" of the Soviet state. "Depending on the context, they might reject a certain meaning, norm or value, be apathetic about another, continue actively subscribing to a third, creatively reinterpret a fourth, and so on." (28-29)

The result was that, as the discourse of the late Soviet period ossified into completely formalist incantations (a process that Yurchak demonstrates was increasingly routinized from the 1950s onwards), Soviet citizens participated in these more for ritualistic reasons than because of fervent belief, which in turn allowed citizens to fill their lives with other sources of identity and meaning.

Soviet citizens would go to cafes and talk about music and literature, join a rock band or art collective, take silly jobs that required little effort and thus left room for them to pursue their "interests." The very drabness of the standardizations of Soviet life therefore created new sorts of (admittedly constrained) spaces within which people could define themselves and their (inter)subjective meanings. All of which is to say that the book consists of a dramatic refutation of the "totalitarianism" thesis, demonstrating that despite the totalitarian ambitions of the regime, citizens were continually able to carve out zones of autonomy and identification that transcended the ambitions of the Authoritative discourse.

ilsm -> libezkova ... Sunday, January 08, 2017 at 12:20 PM

You should read the whole of Obama's Nobel peace prize lecture:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-acceptance-nobel-peace-prize

"And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace."

Then review Orwell. See who decides what is "justice"! The US became prosecutor, lawyer, jury and executioner anywhere it pleased, to anybody who could not fight back.

JohnH -> yuan... January 08, 2017 at 12:08 PM

yuan never had the pleasure of watching the mainstream media promote the official Kool-Aid during the Vietnam War...until the lies finally became untenable.

DeDude -> libezkova... January 08, 2017 at 11:38 AM

"the same forces that facilitate spread of rumors push people to alternative news channels: official channels are viewed too compromised"

Yes exactly, from the ashes into the fire. As bad as the official channels sometimes can be, the unofficial are much worse. The 30 years of Faux news and "think tanks" has done a lot more long-term harm to society than most people realize.

Being a knowledgeable person who spend half a lifetime studying a subject, seems to be worse than being a regular ignorant guy confidently pulling stuff out of his ass. We are living in interesting times.

JohnH -> DeDude...

"As bad as the official channels sometimes can be, the unofficial are much worse." Wow! Trying to judge the more credible liar.

Just like trying to determine the lesser of two evils in political campaigns. Oh, I forgot! Most politicians' official positions are just lies anyway...as we know from Obama's 2008 campaign and his subsequent behavior.

[Jan 04, 2017] Murdochs courtship of Blair finally pays off

Notable quotes:
"... IN JULY 1995, Tony Blair flew halfway round the world to cement his relationship with Rupert Murdoch at a News Corporation conference. Introducing him, the media tycoon joked: "If the British press is to be believed, today is all part of a Blair-Murdoch flirtation. If that flirtation is ever consummated, Tony, I suspect we will end up making love like two porcupines - very carefully." ..."
Jan 04, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne -> anne... , January 04, 2017 at 11:20 AM
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/murdochs-courtship-of-blair-finally-pays-off-1144087.html

February 10, 1998

Murdoch's courtship of Blair finally pays off
By Fran Abrams and Anthony Bevins

IN JULY 1995, Tony Blair flew halfway round the world to cement his relationship with Rupert Murdoch at a News Corporation conference. Introducing him, the media tycoon joked: "If the British press is to be believed, today is all part of a Blair-Murdoch flirtation. If that flirtation is ever consummated, Tony, I suspect we will end up making love like two porcupines - very carefully."

For Mr Blair, the relationship bore fruit when he was elected with the key support of the Sun. But Mr Murdoch had to wait until yesterday for full satisfaction when No 10 launched a passionate attack on his critics after the Lords passed an anti-Murdoch amendment to the Competition Bill.

A year earlier, few Labour MPs would have believed such a scene was possible....

[Dec 27, 2016] Wielding Claims of Fake News, Conservatives Take Aim at Mainstream Media

Notable quotes:
"... "Fake news was a term specifically about people who purposely fabricated stories for clicks and revenue," said David Mikkelson, the founder of Snopes, the myth-busting website. "Now it includes bad reporting, slanted journalism and outright propaganda. And I think we're doing a disservice to lump all those things together." ..."
"... "What I think is so unsettling about the fake news cries now is that their audience has already sort of bought into this idea that journalism has no credibility or legitimacy," ..."
"... The market in these divided times is undeniably ripe. "We now live in this fragmented media world where you can block people you disagree with. You can only be exposed to stories that make you feel good about what you want to believe," Mr. Ziegler, the radio host, said. "Unfortunately, the truth is unpopular a lot. And a good fairy tale beats a harsh truth every time." ..."
Dec 25, 2016 | www.nytimes.com
... ... ...

Rush Limbaugh has diagnosed a more fundamental problem . "The fake news is the everyday news" in the mainstream media, he said on his radio show recently. "They just make it up."

.... As reporters were walking out of a Trump rally this month in Orlando, Fla., a man heckled them with shouts of "Fake news!"

Until now, that term had been widely understood to refer to fabricated news accounts that are meant to spread virally online. But conservative cable and radio personalities, top Republicans and even Mr. Trump himself, incredulous about suggestions that fake stories may have helped swing the election, have appropriated the term and turned it against any news they see as hostile to their agenda.

In defining "fake news" so broadly and seeking to dilute its meaning, they are capitalizing on the declining credibility of all purveyors of information, one product of the country's increasing political polarization. And conservatives, seeing an opening to undermine the mainstream media, a longtime foe, are more than happy to dig the hole deeper.

"Over the years, we've effectively brainwashed the core of our audience to distrust anything that they disagree with. And now it's gone too far," said John Ziegler, a conservative radio host, who has been critical of what he sees as excessive partisanship by pundits. "Because the gatekeepers have lost all credibility in the minds of consumers, I don't see how you reverse it."

Journalists who work to separate fact from fiction see a dangerous conflation of stories that turn out to be wrong because of a legitimate misunderstanding with those whose clear intention is to deceive. A report, shared more than a million times on social media, that the pope had endorsed Mr. Trump was undeniably false. But was it "fake news" to report on data models that showed Hillary Clinton with overwhelming odds of winning the presidency? Are opinion articles fake if they cherry-pick facts to draw disputable conclusions?

"Fake news was a term specifically about people who purposely fabricated stories for clicks and revenue," said David Mikkelson, the founder of Snopes, the myth-busting website. "Now it includes bad reporting, slanted journalism and outright propaganda. And I think we're doing a disservice to lump all those things together."

The right's labeling of "fake news" evokes one of the most successful efforts by conservatives to reorient how Americans think about news media objectivity: the move by Fox News to brand its conservative-slanted coverage as "fair and balanced." Traditionally, mainstream media outlets had thought of their own approach in those terms, viewing their coverage as strictly down the middle. Republicans often found that laughable. As with Fox's ubiquitous promotion of its slogan, conservatives' appropriation of the "fake news" label is an effort to further erode the mainstream media's claim to be a reliable and accurate source.

"What I think is so unsettling about the fake news cries now is that their audience has already sort of bought into this idea that journalism has no credibility or legitimacy," said Angelo Carusone, the president of Media Matters, a liberal group that polices the news media for bias. "Therefore, by applying that term to credible outlets, it becomes much more believable."

.... ... ...

Mr. Trump has used the term to deny news reports, as he did on Twitter recently after various outlets said he would stay on as the executive producer of "The New Celebrity Apprentice" after taking office in January. "Ridiculous & untrue - FAKE NEWS!" he wrote. (He will be credited as executive producer, a spokesman for the show's creator, Mark Burnett, has said. But it is unclear what work, if any, he will do on the show.)

Many conservatives are pushing back at the outrage over fake news because they believe that liberals, unwilling to accept Mr. Trump's victory, are attributing his triumph to nefarious external factors.

"The left refuses to admit that the fundamental problem isn't the Russians or Jim Comey or 'fake news' or the Electoral College," said Laura Ingraham, the author and radio host. "'Fake news' is just another fake excuse for their failed agenda."

Others see a larger effort to slander the basic journalistic function of fact-checking. Nonpartisan websites like Snopes and Factcheck.org have found themselves maligned when they have disproved stories that had been flattering to conservatives.

When Snopes wrote about a State Farm insurance agent in Louisiana who had posted a sign outside his office that likened taxpayers who voted for President Obama to chickens supporting Colonel Sanders, Mr. Mikkelson, the site's founder, was smeared as a partisan Democrat who had never bothered to reach out to the agent for comment. Neither is true.

"They're trying to float anything they can find out there to discredit fact-checking," he said.

There are already efforts by highly partisan conservatives to claim that their fact-checking efforts are the same as those of independent outlets like Snopes, which employ research teams to dig into seemingly dubious claims.

Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, has aired "fact-checking" segments on his program. Michelle Malkin, the conservative columnist, has a web program, "Michelle Malkin Investigates," in which she conducts her own investigative reporting.

The market in these divided times is undeniably ripe. "We now live in this fragmented media world where you can block people you disagree with. You can only be exposed to stories that make you feel good about what you want to believe," Mr. Ziegler, the radio host, said. "Unfortunately, the truth is unpopular a lot. And a good fairy tale beats a harsh truth every time."

[Dec 27, 2016] The fake news is the everyday news in MSM. They just make it up.

Dec 27, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs : December 27, 2016 at 05:06 AM , 2016 at 05:06 AM
(Does this have something to do
with Jon Stewart's retirement &
Stephen Colbert 'going legit'?)

Wielding Claims of 'Fake News,' Conservatives

Take Aim at Mainstream Media http://nyti.ms/2iuFxRx
NYT - JEREMY W. PETERS - December 25, 2016

WASHINGTON - The C.I.A., the F.B.I. and the White House may all agree that Russia was behind the hacking that interfered with the election. But that was of no import to the website Breitbart News, which dismissed reports on the intelligence assessment as "left-wing fake news."

Rush Limbaugh has diagnosed a more fundamental problem. "The fake news is the everyday news" in the mainstream media, he said on his radio show recently. "They just make it up."

Some supporters of President-elect Donald J. Trump have also taken up the call. As reporters were walking out of a Trump rally this month in Orlando, Fla., a man heckled them with shouts of "Fake news!"

Until now, that term had been widely understood to refer to fabricated news accounts that are meant to spread virally online. But conservative cable and radio personalities, top Republicans and even Mr. Trump himself, incredulous about suggestions that fake stories may have helped swing the election, have appropriated the term and turned it against any news they see as hostile to their agenda.

In defining "fake news" so broadly and seeking to dilute its meaning, they are capitalizing on the declining credibility of all purveyors of information, one product of the country's increasing political polarization. And conservatives, seeing an opening to undermine the mainstream media, a longtime foe, are more than happy to dig the hole deeper.

"Over the years, we've effectively brainwashed the core of our audience to distrust anything that they disagree with. And now it's gone too far," said John Ziegler, a conservative radio host, who has been critical of what he sees as excessive partisanship by pundits. "Because the gatekeepers have lost all credibility in the minds of consumers, I don't see how you reverse it."

Journalists who work to separate fact from fiction see a dangerous conflation of stories that turn out to be wrong because of a legitimate misunderstanding with those whose clear intention is to deceive. A report, shared more than a million times on social media, that the pope had endorsed Mr. Trump was undeniably false. But was it "fake news" to report on data models that showed Hillary Clinton with overwhelming odds of winning the presidency? Are opinion articles fake if they cherry-pick facts to draw disputable conclusions?

"Fake news was a term specifically about people who purposely fabricated stories for clicks and revenue," said David Mikkelson, the founder of Snopes, the myth-busting website. "Now it includes bad reporting, slanted journalism and outright propaganda. And I think we're doing a disservice to lump all those things together."

The right's labeling of "fake news" evokes one of the most successful efforts by conservatives to reorient how Americans think about news media objectivity: the move by Fox News to brand its conservative-slanted coverage as "fair and balanced." Traditionally, mainstream media outlets had thought of their own approach in those terms, viewing their coverage as strictly down the middle. Republicans often found that laughable.

As with Fox's ubiquitous promotion of its slogan, conservatives' appropriation of the "fake news" label is an effort to further erode the mainstream media's claim to be a reliable and accurate source. ...

[Nov 30, 2016] How the Global Left Destroyed Itself

Notable quotes:
"... Each of these was based fundamentally upon the principle that language was the key to all power. That is, that language was not a tool that described reality but the power that created it, and s/he who controlled language controlled everything through the shaping of "discourse", as opposed to the objective existence of any truth at all ..."
"... When you globalise capital, you globalise labour. That meant jobs shifting from expensive markets to cheap. Before long the incomes of those swimming in the stream of global capital began to seriously outstrip the incomes of those trapped in old and withering Western labour markets. As a result, inflation in those markets also began to fall and so did interest rates. Thus asset prices took off as Western nation labour markets got hollowed out, and standard of living inequality widened much more quickly as a new landed aristocracy developed. ..."
"... With a Republican Party on its knees, Obama was positioned to restore the kind of New Deal rules that global capitalism enjoyed under Franklin D. Roosevelt. ..."
"... But instead he opted to patch up financialised capitalism. The banks were bailed out and the bonus culture returned. Yes, there were some new rules but they were weak. There was no seizing of the agenda. No imprisonments of the guilty. The US Department of Justice is still issuing $14bn fines to banks involved yet still today there is no justice. Think about that a minute. How can a crime be worthy of a $14bn fine but no prison time?!? ..."
"... Alas, for all of his efforts to restore Wall Street, Obama provided no reset for Main Street economics to restore the fortunes of the US lower classes. Sure Obama fought a hostile Capitol but, let's face it, he had other priorities. ..."
"... This comment is a perfect example of the author's (and Adolf Reed's) point: that the so-called "Left" is so bogged down in issues of language that it has completely lost sight of class politics. ..."
"... It's why Trump won. He was a Viking swinging an ax at nuanced hair-splitters. It was inelegant and ugly, but effective. We will find out if the hair-splitters win again in their inner circle with the Democratic Minority Leader vote. I suspect they missed the point of the election and will vote Pelosi back in, thereby missing the chance for significant gains in the mid-term elections. ..."
"... One of the great triumphs of Those Who Continue To Be Our Rulers has been the infiltration and cooptation of 'the left', hand in hand with the 'dumbing down' of the last 30+ years so few people really understand what is going on. ..."
"... That the Global Left appears to be intellectually weak regarding identity politics and "political correctness" vs. class politics, there is no doubt. But to skim over Global Corporate leverage of this attitude seems wrong to me. The right has also embraced identity politics in order to keep the 90% fully divided in order to justify it's continual economic rape of both human and physical ecology. ..."
"... Every "identity politics" charge starts here, with one group wanting a more equitable social order and the other group defending the existing power structure. Identity politics is adjusting the social order and rattling the power structure, which is why it is so effective. ..."
"... I think it can be effectively argued that Trump voters in PA, WI, OH, MI chose to rattle the power structure and you could think of that as identity politics as well. ..."
"... On the contrary, the (Neo-)Liberal establishment uses identity politics to co-opt and neutralise the left. It keeps them occupied without threatening the real power structure in the least. ..."
"... Hillary (Neoliberal establishment) has many supporters who think of themselves as 'left' or 'liberal'. The Democratic Party leadership is neither 'left' nor 'liberal'. It keeps the votes and the love of the 'liberals' by talking up harmless 'liberal' identity politics and soft peddling the Liberal power politics which they are really about. ..."
"... Just from historical perspective, the right wing had more money to forward its agenda and an OCD like affliction [biblical] to drive simple memes relentlessly via its increasing private ownership of education and media. Thereby creating an institutional network over time to gain dominate market share in crafting the social narrative. Bloodly hell anyone remember Bush Jr Christian crusade after politicizing religion to get elected and the ramifications – neocon – R2P thingy . ..."
"... Its not hard once neoliberalism became dominate in the 70s [wages and productivity diverged] the proceeds have gone to the top and everyone else got credit IOUs based mostly on asset inflation via the Casino or RE [home and IP]. ..."
"... Foucault in particular advanced a greatly expanded wariness regarding the use of power. It was not just that left politics could only lead to ossified Soviet Marxism or the dogmatic petty despotism of the left splinters. Institutions in general mapped out social practices and attendant identities to impose on the individual. His position tended to promote a distrust not only of "grand narratives" but of organizational bonds as such. As far as I can tell, the idea of people joining together to form an institution that would enhance their social power as well as allow them to become personally empowered/enhanced was something of a categorial impossibility. ..."
"... There is no global left. We have only global state capitalists and global social democrats – a pseudo left. The countries where Marxist class analysis was supposedly adopted were not industrial countries where "alienation" had brought the "proletariat" to an inevitable communal mentality. The largest of these countries killed millions in order to industrialize rapidly – pretending the goal was to get to that state. ..."
"... Bigotry. Identity centered thinking. Neither serves egalitarianism. But people cling to them. "I gotta look out for myself first." And so called left thinkers constantly pontificate about "benefits" and "privileges" that some class, sex, and race confer. Hmmm. The logic is that many of us struggling daily to keep our jobs and pay the bills must give up something in order to be fair, in order to build a better society. Given this thinking it is no surprise that so many have retreated into the illusion of safety offered by identity based thinking. ..."
"... "Simultaneously, capitalism did what it does best. It packaged and repackaged, branded and rebranded every emerging identity, cloaked in its own sub-cultural nomenclature, selling itself back to new emerging identities. Soon class was completely forgotten as the global Left dedicated itself instead to policing the commons as a kind of safe zone for a multitude of difference that capitalism turned into a cultural supermarket." ..."
"... But why does the Dem estab embrace the conservative neoliberal agenda? The Dem estab are smart people, can think on multiple levels, are not limited in scope, are not racist. So, why then does the Dem estab accept and promote the conservative GOP neoliberal economic agenda? ..."
"... Because the Dem estab isn't very smart. ..."
"... Conservative is: private property, capitalism, limited taxes and transfer payments plus national security and religion. ..."
"... Liberalism is not in opposition to any of that. Identity politics arose at the same time the Ds were purging the reds (socialists and communists) from their party. Liberalism/progressivism is an ameliorating position of conservatism (progressive support of labor unions to work within a private property/corporatist structure not to eliminate the system and replace it with public/employee ownership) Not too far, too fast, maybe toss out a few more crumbs. ..."
"... There is a foundation for identity politics on the liberal-left (see what I did there?) – it rests in the sense of moral superiority of just this liberal-left, which superiority is then patronisingly spread all over the social world – until it meets those who deny the moral superiority claim, whereupon it becomes murderous (in, of course, the name of humanity and humanitarianism). ..."
"... This is why the 1% continue to prevail over the 99%. If the 1% wasn't so incompetent this would continue forever. They know how to divide, conquer and rule the 99%, however they don't know how to run a society in a sustainable way. ..."
"... But I will say one thing for the Right over the Left: they have taken the initiative and are now the sole force for change. Granted, supporting a carnival barker for president is an act of desperation. Nevertheless he was the only option for change and the Right took it. Perhaps the Left offering little to nothing in the way of change reflects its lack of desperation. ..."
"... Excellent comment, EoinW! You just summed up years of content and commentary on this site. Obviously as the "Left" continues to defend the status quo as you describe it stops being "Left" in any meaningful way anymore. ..."
"... The Koch brothers are economically to the very right. They are socially to the left, perhaps even more socially liberal than many of your liberal friends. No joke. There's a point here, if I can figure out what it is. ..."
"... Trump isn't Right or Left. Trump is a can of gasoline and a match. His voters weren't voting for a Left or Right agenda. They were voting for a battering ram. That is why he got a pass on racist, misogynist, fascist statements that would have killed any other candidate. ..."
"... PC is a parody of the 20th Century reform movements. ..."
"... In the 70's the feminists worked against legal disabilities written into law. Since the Depression, the unions fought corporate management create a livable relationship between management and labor. Real struggles, real problems, real people. ..."
"... What's interesting is that in an article pushing class over identity. he never tried to set his class ethos in order to convince working class people or the bourgeoisie why they should listen to him. ..."
"... "This site, along with the MSM, has flown way off the handle since the election loss." ..."
"... "Our nation's problems can be remedied with one dramatic change" ..."
"... Bringing C level pay packages at major corporations in line with the real contributions of the recipients would be great. How would we do it? With laws or regulations or executive orders banning the federal government from doing business with any firm that failed to comply with some basic guidelines? ..."
"... It's an academic point right now in any event. The Trump administration – working together with the Ryan House – is not going to make legislation or sign executive orders to do anything remotely like this. Which is one of the many reasons why bashing Democrats has taken off here I suspect. This election was theirs to lose, and they did everything in their power to toss it. ..."
"... You do realize that the wealthy are both part of and connected to the legislative branch of every single country on this planet right? As long as that remains so (as it has since the dawn of humans) then good luck trying to cap any sort of hording behavior of the wealthy. ..."
"... The post-structural revolution transpired [in the U.S.] before and during the end of the Cold War just as the collapse of the Old Soviet Union denuded the global Left of its raison detre. ..."
"... Foucault was not entirely sympathetic to the Left, at least the unions, but he was trying to articulate a politics that was just as much about liberation from capitalism as classic Marxism. To that end, discourse analysis was the means to discovering those subtle articulations of power in human relations, not an end in itself as it was for, say, Barthes. ..."
"... Imagine inequality plotted on two axes. Inequality between genders, races and cultures is what liberals have been concentrating on. This is the x-axis and the focus of identity politics and the liberal left. ..."
"... On the y-axis we have inequality from top to bottom. 2014 – "85 richest people as wealthy as poorest half of the world" 2016– "Richest 62 people as wealthy as half of world's population" ..."
"... The neoliberal view L As long as everyone, from all genders, races and cultures, is visiting the same food bank this is equality. ..."
"... You can see why liberals love identity politics. ..."
"... labor is being co-opted by the right: the Republican Workers Party I think this rhymes with Fascist. But then, in a world soon to be literally scrambling for high ground and rebuilding housing for 50 million people the time honored "worker" might actually have a renaissance. ..."
"... But the simple act of writing checks cost me n-o-t-h-i-n-g in terms of time, energy, education, physical or mental exertion. ..."
"... A much more nuanced discussion of the primacy of identity politics on the Left in Britain and the US is http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/11/29/prospects-for-an-alt-left/ "Prospects for an Alt-Left," November 29, 2016, by Elliot Murphy, who teaches in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at University College, London. ..."
"... The electorate is angry (true liberals at the Dems, voters in select electoral states at "everything"). If democracy is messy, then that's what we've got; a mess. Unfortunately, it's coming at the absolutely wrong time (Climate Change, lethal policing, financial elite impunity). ..."
"... But certainly the fall of the USSR was the thing that forced capitalism's hand. At that point capitalism had no choice but to step up and prove that it could really bring a better life to the world. ..."
"... A Minsky event of biblical proportions soon followed (it only took about 10 years!) and now all is devastation and nobody has clue. But the 1990 effort could have been in earnest. Capitalists mean well but they are always in denial about the inequality they create which finally started a chain reaction in "identity politics" as reactions to the stress of economic competition bounced around in every society like a pinball machine. A tedious and insufferable game which seems to have culminated in Hillary the Relentless. I won't say capitalism is idiotic. But something is. ..."
"... Left and Right only really make sense in the context of the distribution of power and wealth, and only when there is a difference between them about that distribution. This was historically the case for more than 150 years after the French Revolution. By the mid-1960s, there was a sense that the Left was winning, and would continue to win. Progressive taxation, zero unemployment, little real poverty by today's standards, free education and healthcare . and many influential political figures (Tony Crosland for example) saw the major task of the future as deciding where the fruits of economic growth could be most justly applied. ..."
"... So until class-based politics and struggles over power and money re-start (if they ever do) I respectfully suggest that "Left" and "Right" be retired as terms that no longer have any meaning. ..."
"... powerlessness, of course, corrupts. There's always someone weaker than you, which is why identity politics is essentially a conservative, disciplining force, with a vested interest in the problems it has chosen to identify ..."
"... Identity politics is a disaster ongoing for the Democratic Party, for reasons they seem to have overlooked. First, the additional identity group is white. We already see this in the South, where 90% of the white population in many states votes Republican. ..."
"... When that spreads to the rest of the country, there will be a permanent Republican majority until the Republicans create a new major disaster. ..."
"... So soon we forget the Battle of Seattle. The Left has been opposed to globalization, deregulation, etc., all along. Partly he's talking about an academic pseudo-left, partly confusing the left with the Democrats and other "center-left," captured parties. ..."
"... I mean, Barack Obama was our first black president, but most blacks didn't do very well. George W. Bush was our first retard president, and most people with cognitive handicaps didn't do very well. ..."
"... But we can boil it all down to something even simpler and more primal: divide and conquer. ..."
Nov 29, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. This piece gives a useful, real-world perspective on the issues discussed in a seminal Adolph Reed article . Key section:

race politics is not an alternative to class politics; it is a class politics, the politics of the left-wing of neoliberalism. It is the expression and active agency of a political order and moral economy in which capitalist market forces are treated as unassailable nature. An integral element of that moral economy is displacement of the critique of the invidious outcomes produced by capitalist class power onto equally naturalized categories of ascriptive identity that sort us into groups supposedly defined by what we essentially are rather than what we do. As I have argued, following Walter Michaels and others, within that moral economy a society in which 1% of the population controlled 90% of the resources could be just, provided that roughly 12% of the 1% were black, 12% were Latino, 50% were women, and whatever the appropriate proportions were LGBT people. It would be tough to imagine a normative ideal that expresses more unambiguously the social position of people who consider themselves candidates for inclusion in, or at least significant staff positions in service to, the ruling class.

This perspective may help explain why, the more aggressively and openly capitalist class power destroys and marketizes every shred of social protection working people of all races, genders, and sexual orientations have fought for and won over the last century, the louder and more insistent are the demands from the identitarian left that we focus our attention on statistical disparities and episodic outrages that "prove" that the crucial injustices in the society should be understood in the language of ascriptive identity.

My take on this issue is that the neoliberal use of identity politics continue and extends the cultural inculcation of individuals seeing themselves engaging with other in one-to-one transactions (commerce, struggles over power and status) and has the effect of diverting their focus and energy on seeing themselves as members of groups with common interests and operating that way, and in particular, of seeing the role of money and property, which are social constructs, in power dynamics.

By David Llewellyn-Smith, founding publisher and former editor-in-chief of The Diplomat magazine, now the Asia Pacific's leading geo-politics website. Originally posted at MacroBusiness

Let's begin this little tale with a personal anecdote. Back in 1990 I met and fell in love with a bisexual, African American ballerina. She was studying Liberal Arts at US Ivy League Smith College at the time (which Aussies may recall was being run by our Jill Kerr Conway back then). So I moved in with my dancing beauty and we lived happily on her old man's purse for a year.

I was fortunate to arrive at Smith during a period of intellectual tumult. It was the early years of the US political correctness revolution when the academy was writhing through a post-structuralist shift. Traditional dialectical history was being supplanted by a new suite of studies based around truth as "discourse". Driven by the French post-modern thinkers of the 70s and 80s, the US academy was adopting and adapting the ideas Foucault, Derrida and Barthe to a variety of civil rights movements that spawned gender and racial studies.

Each of these was based fundamentally upon the principle that language was the key to all power. That is, that language was not a tool that described reality but the power that created it, and s/he who controlled language controlled everything through the shaping of "discourse", as opposed to the objective existence of any truth at all .

... ... ...

The post-structural revolution transpired before and during the end of the Cold War just as the collapse of the Old Soviet Union denuded the global Left of its raison detre. But its social justice impulse didn't die, it turned inwards from a notion of the historic inevitability of the decline of capitalism and the rise of oppressed classes, towards the liberation of oppressed minorities within capitalism, empowered by control over the language that defined who they were.

Simultaneously, capitalism did what it does best. It packaged and repackaged, branded and rebranded every emerging identity, cloaked in its own sub-cultural nomenclature, selling itself back to new emerging identities. Soon class was completely forgotten as the global Left dedicated itself instead to policing the commons as a kind of safe zone for a multitude of difference that capitalism turned into a cultural supermarket.

As the Left turned inwards, capitalism turned outwards and went truly, madly global, lifting previously isolated nations into a single planet-wide market, pretty much all of it revolving around Americana replete with its identity-branded products.

But, of course, this came at a cost. When you globalise capital, you globalise labour. That meant jobs shifting from expensive markets to cheap. Before long the incomes of those swimming in the stream of global capital began to seriously outstrip the incomes of those trapped in old and withering Western labour markets. As a result, inflation in those markets also began to fall and so did interest rates. Thus asset prices took off as Western nation labour markets got hollowed out, and standard of living inequality widened much more quickly as a new landed aristocracy developed.

Meanwhile the global Left looked on from its Ivory Tower of identity politics and was pleased. Capitalism was spreading the wealth to oppressed brothers and sisters, and if there were some losers in the West then that was only natural as others rose in prominence. Indeed, it went further. So satisfied was it with human progress, and so satisfied with its own role in producing it, that it turned the power of language that it held most dear back upon those that opposed the new order. Those losers in Western labour markets that dared complain or fight back against the free movement of capital and labour were labelled and marginalised as "racist", "xenophobic" and "sexist".

This great confluence of forces reached its apogee in the Global Financial Crisis when a ribaldly treasonous Wall St destroyed the American financial system just as America's first ever African American President, Barack Obama, was elected . One might have expected this convergence to result in a revival of some class politics. Obama ran on a platform of "hope and change" very much cultured in the vein of seventies art and inherited a global capitalism that had just openly ravaged its most celebrated host nation.

But alas, it was just a bit of "retro". With a Republican Party on its knees, Obama was positioned to restore the kind of New Deal rules that global capitalism enjoyed under Franklin D. Roosevelt. A gobalisation like the one promised in the brochures, that benefited the majority via competition and productivity gains, driven by trade and meritocracy, with counter-balanced private risk and public equity.

But instead he opted to patch up financialised capitalism. The banks were bailed out and the bonus culture returned. Yes, there were some new rules but they were weak. There was no seizing of the agenda. No imprisonments of the guilty. The US Department of Justice is still issuing $14bn fines to banks involved yet still today there is no justice. Think about that a minute. How can a crime be worthy of a $14bn fine but no prison time?!?

Alas, for all of his efforts to restore Wall Street, Obama provided no reset for Main Street economics to restore the fortunes of the US lower classes. Sure Obama fought a hostile Capitol but, let's face it, he had other priorities. And so the US working and middle classes, as well as those worldwide, were sold another pup. Now more than ever, if they said say so they were quickly shut down as "racist", "xenophobic", or "sexist".

Thus it came to pass that the global Left somehow did a complete back-flip and positioned itself directly behind the same unreconstructed global capitalism that was still sucking the life from the lower classes that it always had. Only now it was doing so with explicit public backing and with an abandon it had not enjoyed since the roaring twenties.

Which brings us back to today. And we wonder how it is that an abuse-spouting guy like Donald Trump can succeed Barack Obama. Trump is a member of the very same "trickle down" capitalist class that ripped the income from US households. But he is smart enough, smarter than the Left at least, to know that the decades long rage of the middle and working classes is a formidable political force and has tapped it spectacularly to rise to power.

And, he has done more. He has also recognised that the Left's obsession with post-structural identity politics has totally paralysed it. It is so traumatised and pre-occupied by his mis-use of the language of power – the "racist", "sexist" and "xenophobic" comments – that it is further wedging itself from its natural constituents every day.

Don't get me wrong, I am very doubtful that Trump will succeed with his proposed policies but he has at least mentioned the elephant in the room, making the American worker visible again.

Returning to that innocent Aussie boy and his wild romp at Smith College, I might ask what he would have made of all of this. None of the above should be taken as a repudiation of the experience of racism or sexism. Indeed, the one thing I took away from Smith College over my lifetime was an understanding at just how scarred by slavery are the generations of African Americans that lived it and today inherit its memory (as well as other persecuted). I felt terribly inadequate before that pain then and I remain so today.

But, if the global Left is to have any meaning in the future of the world, and I would argue that the global Right will destroy us all if it doesn't, then it must get beyond post-structural paralysis and go back to the future of fighting not just for social justice issues but for equity based upon class. Empowerment is not just about language, it's about capital, who's got it, who hasn't and what role government plays between them.

All sex is not rape, but most poverty is.

Big River Bandido November 29, 2016 at 1:28 pm

This comment is a perfect example of the author's (and Adolf Reed's) point: that the so-called "Left" is so bogged down in issues of language that it has completely lost sight of class politics. Essentially, the comment vividly displays the exact methodology the author lambasts in the piece - it hijacks the discussion about an economic issue, attempts to turn it into a mere distraction about semantics, and in the end contributes absolutely nothing of substance to the "discourse".

rd November 29, 2016 at 4:55 pm

It's why Trump won. He was a Viking swinging an ax at nuanced hair-splitters. It was inelegant and ugly, but effective. We will find out if the hair-splitters win again in their inner circle with the Democratic Minority Leader vote. I suspect they missed the point of the election and will vote Pelosi back in, thereby missing the chance for significant gains in the mid-term elections.

Dave Patterson November 29, 2016 at 7:00 am

One of the great triumphs of Those Who Continue To Be Our Rulers has been the infiltration and cooptation of 'the left', hand in hand with the 'dumbing down' of the last 30+ years so few people really understand what is going on.

Explained in more detail here if anyone interested in some truly 'out of the box' perspectives – It's not 'the left' trying to take over the world and shut down free speech and all that other bad stuff – it's 'the right'!! http://tinyurl.com/h4h2kay .

JCC November 29, 2016 at 9:01 am

Although I haven't yet read the article you posted, my "feeling" as I read this was that the author inferred that the right was in the mix somehow, but it was primarily the fault of the left.

That the Global Left appears to be intellectually weak regarding identity politics and "political correctness" vs. class politics, there is no doubt. But to skim over Global Corporate leverage of this attitude seems wrong to me. The right has also embraced identity politics in order to keep the 90% fully divided in order to justify it's continual economic rape of both human and physical ecology.

anonymouse November 29, 2016 at 10:15 am

>The right has also embraced identity politics

So many people critiquing the Dems' use of identity politics seem to miss this point.

Art Eclectica November 29, 2016 at 11:23 am

Exactly. My guess is that this plays out somewhat like this:

Dems: This group _____ should be free to have _____ civil right.

Reps: NO. We are a society built on _____ tradition, no need to change that because it upends our patriarchal, Christian, Caucasian power structure.

Every "identity politics" charge starts here, with one group wanting a more equitable social order and the other group defending the existing power structure. Identity politics is adjusting the social order and rattling the power structure, which is why it is so effective.

I think it can be effectively argued that Trump voters in PA, WI, OH, MI chose to rattle the power structure and you could think of that as identity politics as well.

Grebo November 29, 2016 at 5:41 pm

Identity politics is adjusting the social order and rattling the power structure, which is why it is so effective.

On the contrary, the (Neo-)Liberal establishment uses identity politics to co-opt and neutralise the left. It keeps them occupied without threatening the real power structure in the least.

jrs November 29, 2016 at 5:57 pm

When have they ever done any such thing? Vote for Hillary because she's a woman isn't even any kind of politics it's more like marketing branding. It's the real thing. Taste great, less filling. I'm loving it.

Grebo November 29, 2016 at 8:04 pm

Hillary (Neoliberal establishment) has many supporters who think of themselves as 'left' or 'liberal'. The Democratic Party leadership is neither 'left' nor 'liberal'. It keeps the votes and the love of the 'liberals' by talking up harmless 'liberal' identity politics and soft peddling the Liberal power politics which they are really about.

They exploit the happy historical accident of the coincidence of names. The Liberal ideology was so called because it was slightly less right-wing than the Feudalism it displaced. In today's terms however, it is not very liberal, and Neoliberalism is even less so.

Paul Art November 29, 2016 at 7:14 am

If I was in charge of the DNC and wanted to commission a very cleverly written piece to exonerate the DLC and the New Democrats from the 30 odd years of corruption and self-aggrandizement they indulged in and laughed all the way to the Bank then I would definitely give this chap a call. I mean, where do we start? No attempt at learning the history of neoliberalism, no attempt at any serious research about how and why it fastened itself into the brains of people like Tony Coelho and Al From, nothing, zilch. If someone who did not know the history of the DLC read this piece, they would walk away thinking, 'wow, it was all happenstance, it all just happened, no one deliberately set off this run away train'. Sometime in the 90s the 'Left' decided to just pursue identity politics. Amazing. I would ask the Author to start with the Powell memo and then make an investigation as to why the Democrats then and the DLC later decided to merely sit on their hands when all the forces the Powell memo unleashed proceeded to wreak their havoc in every established institution of the Left, principally the Universities which had always been the bastion of the Progressives. That might be a good starting point.

skippy November 29, 2016 at 7:38 am

My response at MB

Sigh . the left was marginalized and relentlessly hunted down by the right [grab bag of corporatists, free marketers, neocons, evangelicals, and a whole cornucopia of wing nut ideologists (file under creative class gig writers)].

Just from historical perspective, the right wing had more money to forward its agenda and an OCD like affliction [biblical] to drive simple memes relentlessly via its increasing private ownership of education and media. Thereby creating an institutional network over time to gain dominate market share in crafting the social narrative. Bloodly hell anyone remember Bush Jr Christian crusade after politicizing religion to get elected and the ramifications – neocon – R2P thingy .

Its not hard once neoliberalism became dominate in the 70s [wages and productivity diverged] the proceeds have gone to the top and everyone else got credit IOUs based mostly on asset inflation via the Casino or RE [home and IP].

...

flora November 29, 2016 at 8:12 am

Yes, it's interesting that the academic "left" (aka liberals), who so prize language to accurately, and to the finest degree distinguish 'this' from 'that', have avoided addressing the difference between 'left' and 'liberal' and are content to leave the two terms interchangable.

JTFaraday November 29, 2016 at 11:28 am

The reason for that is that when academic leftists attempted a more in depth critique, of one sort or another, of the actually existing historical liberal welfare state, the liberals threw the "New Deal-under-siege" attack at them and attempted to shut them down.

There is very little left perspective in public. All this whining about identity politics is not left either. It is reactionary. I can think of plenty of old labor left academics who have done a much better job of wrapping their minds around why sex, gender, and race matter with respect to all matters economic than this incessant childish whine. The "let me make you feel more comfortable" denialism of Uncle Tom Reed.

Right now, I would say that these reactionaries don't want to hear from the academic left any more than New Deal liberals did. Not going to stop them from blaming them for all their problems though.

Maybe people should shoulder their own failures for a change. As for the Trumpertantrums, I am totally not having them.

hemeantwell November 29, 2016 at 5:31 pm

Since the writer led off talking about an academic setting, it would be useful to flesh out a bit more how trends in academic theoretical discussion in the 70s and 80s reflected and reinforced what was going on politically. He refers to postructuralism, which was certainly involved, but doesn't give enough emphasis to how deliberately poststructuralists - and here I'm lumping together writers like Lyotard, Foucault, and Deleuze and Guattari - were all reacting to the failure of French Maoism and Trotskyism to, as far as they were concerned, provide a satisfactory alternative to Soviet Marxism.

As groups espousing those position flailed about in the 70s, the drive to maintain hope in revolutionary prospects in the midst of macroeconomic stabilization and union reconciliation to capitalism frequently brought out the worst sectarian tendencies. While writers like Andre Gorz bid adieu to the proletariat as an agent of change and tried to tread water as social democratic reformists, the poststructuralists disjoined the critique of power from class analysis.

Foucault in particular advanced a greatly expanded wariness regarding the use of power. It was not just that left politics could only lead to ossified Soviet Marxism or the dogmatic petty despotism of the left splinters. Institutions in general mapped out social practices and attendant identities to impose on the individual. His position tended to promote a distrust not only of "grand narratives" but of organizational bonds as such. As far as I can tell, the idea of people joining together to form an institution that would enhance their social power as well as allow them to become personally empowered/enhanced was something of a categorial impossibility.

When imported to US academia, traditionally much more disengaged from organized politics than their European counterparts, these tendencies flourished. Aside from being socially cut off from increasingly anodyne political organizations, poststructuralists in the US often had backgrounds with little orientation to history or social science research addressing class relations. To them the experience of a much more immediate and palpable form of oppression through the use of language offered an immediate critical target. This dovetailed perfectly with the legalistic use of state power to end discrimination against various groups, A European disillusionment with class politics helped to fortify an American evasion or ignorance of it.

ejp November 29, 2016 at 7:41 am

There is no global left. We have only global state capitalists and global social democrats – a pseudo left. The countries where Marxist class analysis was supposedly adopted were not industrial countries where "alienation" had brought the "proletariat" to an inevitable communal mentality. The largest of these countries killed millions in order to industrialize rapidly – pretending the goal was to get to that state.

The terms left and right may not be adequate for those of us who want an egalitarian society but also see many of the obstacles to egalitarianism as human failings that are independent of and not caused by ruling elites – although they frequently serve the interests of those elites.

Bigotry. Identity centered thinking. Neither serves egalitarianism. But people cling to them. "I gotta look out for myself first." And so called left thinkers constantly pontificate about "benefits" and "privileges" that some class, sex, and race confer. Hmmm. The logic is that many of us struggling daily to keep our jobs and pay the bills must give up something in order to be fair, in order to build a better society. Given this thinking it is no surprise that so many have retreated into the illusion of safety offered by identity based thinking.

Hopefully those of us who yearn for an egalitarian movement can develop and articulate an alternate view of reality.

flora November 29, 2016 at 8:04 am

"Simultaneously, capitalism did what it does best. It packaged and repackaged, branded and rebranded every emerging identity, cloaked in its own sub-cultural nomenclature, selling itself back to new emerging identities. Soon class was completely forgotten as the global Left dedicated itself instead to policing the commons as a kind of safe zone for a multitude of difference that capitalism turned into a cultural supermarket."


"Meanwhile the global Left looked on from its Ivory Tower of identity politics and was pleased. Capitalism was spreading the wealth to oppressed brothers and sisters, and if there were some losers in the West then that was only natural as others rose in prominence. Indeed, it went further. So satisfied was it with human progress, and so satisfied with its own role in producing it, that it turned the power of language that it held most dear back upon those that opposed the new order. Those losers in Western labour markets that dared complain or fight back against the free movement of capital and labour were labelled and marginalised as "racist", "xenophobic" and "sexist". "

Great post. Thanks.

JTFaraday November 29, 2016 at 11:40 am

That is not it at all. The real reason is the right wing played white identity politics starting with the southern strategy, and those running into the waiting arms of Trump today, took the poisoned bait. Enter Bill Clinton.

People need to start taking responsibility for their own actions, and stop blaming the academics and the leftists and the wimmins and the N-ers.

JTFaraday November 29, 2016 at 12:01 pm

And THAT is why "race" has a primary place in American political discourse, however maladaptive a response today's D-Party partisans may present.

Conservatives put over their neoliberal agenda BECAUSE RACISM.

flora November 29, 2016 at 12:15 pm

But why does the Dem estab embrace the conservative neoliberal agenda? The Dem estab are smart people, can think on multiple levels, are not limited in scope, are not racist. So, why then does the Dem estab accept and promote the conservative GOP neoliberal economic agenda?

UserFriendly November 29, 2016 at 1:23 pm

Because the Dem estab isn't very smart. I doubt more than half of them could define neoliberalism much less describe how it has destroyed the country. They are mostly motivated by the identity politics aspects.

Propertius November 29, 2016 at 3:56 pm

Because the Dem estab isn't very smart.

No, but they make up for it with arrogance.

Waldenpond November 29, 2016 at 5:28 pm

Conservative is: private property, capitalism, limited taxes and transfer payments plus national security and religion.

Liberalism is not in opposition to any of that. Identity politics arose at the same time the Ds were purging the reds (socialists and communists) from their party. Liberalism/progressivism is an ameliorating position of conservatism (progressive support of labor unions to work within a private property/corporatist structure not to eliminate the system and replace it with public/employee ownership) Not too far, too fast, maybe toss out a few more crumbs.

witters November 29, 2016 at 6:00 pm

There is a foundation for identity politics on the liberal-left (see what I did there?) – it rests in the sense of moral superiority of just this liberal-left, which superiority is then patronisingly spread all over the social world – until it meets those who deny the moral superiority claim, whereupon it becomes murderous (in, of course, the name of humanity and humanitarianism).

EoinW November 29, 2016 at 8:09 am

We live in a society where no one gets what they want. The Left sees the standard of living fall and is powerless to stop it. The Right see the culture war lost 25 years ago and can't even offer a public protest, let alone move things in a conservative direction. Instead we get the agenda of the political Left to sell out at every opportunity. Plus we get the agenda of the political Right of endless war and endless security state. Eventually the political Left and Right merge and support the exact same things. Now when will the real Left and Right recognize their true enemy and join forces against it? This is why the 1% continue to prevail over the 99%. If the 1% wasn't so incompetent this would continue forever. They know how to divide, conquer and rule the 99%, however they don't know how to run a society in a sustainable way.

But I will say one thing for the Right over the Left: they have taken the initiative and are now the sole force for change. Granted, supporting a carnival barker for president is an act of desperation. Nevertheless he was the only option for change and the Right took it. Perhaps the Left offering little to nothing in the way of change reflects its lack of desperation.

After all, the Left won the culture war and continues to push its agenda to extremes(even though such extremes will guarantee a back lash that will send people running back to their closets to hide). The Left still has the MSM media on its side when it comes to cultural issues. Thus the Left is satisfied with the status quo, with gorging themselves on the crumbs which fall from the 1% table. Consequently, you not only have a political Left that has sold out, you also have the rest of the Left content to accept that sell out so long as they get their symbolic victories over their ancient enemy – the Right.

Until the Left recognize its true enemy, the fight will only come from the Right. During that process more people will filter from the Left to the Right as the latter will offer the only hope for change.

integer November 29, 2016 at 8:27 am

I think left and right as political shorthand is too limited. Perhaps the NC commentariat could define up and down versions of each of these political philosophies (ie. left and right) and start to take control of the framing. Hence we would have up-left, down-left, up-right, and down-right. I would suggest that up and down could relate to environmental viewpoints.

Just a thought that I haven't given much thought, but it would be funny (to me at least) to be able to quantify one's political stance in terms of radians.

Minnie Mouse November 29, 2016 at 1:46 pm

Left and Right are two wings on the same bird and the bird is a turkey. Where is the hard perpendicular?

Ed November 29, 2016 at 8:28 am

Excellent comment, EoinW! You just summed up years of content and commentary on this site. Obviously as the "Left" continues to defend the status quo as you describe it stops being "Left" in any meaningful way anymore.

Katharine November 29, 2016 at 9:19 am

This seems to assume that change is an intrinsic good, so that change produced by the right will necessarily be improvement. Unfortunately, change for the worse is probably more likely than change for the better under this regime. Equally unfortunately, we may have reached the point where that is the only thing that will make people reconsider what constitutes a just society and how to achieve it. In any case, this is where we are now.

flora November 29, 2016 at 10:06 am

The economic left sees its standard of living fall. The social right sees its cultural verities fall.

The Koch brothers are economically to the very right. They are socially to the left, perhaps even more socially liberal than many of your liberal friends. No joke. There's a point here, if I can figure out what it is.

susan the other November 29, 2016 at 1:06 pm

Gary Johnson claims the libertarian mantra is what I used to think was the liberal mantra: economically conservative, socially liberal.

flora November 29, 2016 at 2:07 pm

One of Koch brothers, David Koch, was the 1980 Libertarian Party's VP candidate.

Karl November 29, 2016 at 12:30 pm

"He [Trump] was the only option for change and the Right took it."

You forget Bernie. The Left tried, and Bernie bowed out, not wanting to be another "Nader" spoiler. Now, for 2020, the Left thinks it's the "their turn."

The problem is, the Left tends to blow it too (e.g. McGovern in 1972), in part because their "language" also exudes power and tends to alienate other, more moderate, parts of the coalition with arcane (and rather elitist) arguments from Derrida et. al.

Lambert Strether November 29, 2016 at 3:29 pm

> not wanting to be another "Nader" spoiler.

And a good thing, too.

rd November 29, 2016 at 5:05 pm

Trump isn't Right or Left. Trump is a can of gasoline and a match. His voters weren't voting for a Left or Right agenda. They were voting for a battering ram. That is why he got a pass on racist, misogynist, fascist statements that would have killed any other candidate.

Trump is starting out with some rallies in the near-future. The Republicans in Congress think they are going to play patty-cake on policy to push the Koch Brothers agenda. We are going to see a populist who promised jobs duke it out publicly with small government austerity deficit cutters. It will be interesting to see what happens when he calls out Republican Congressmen standing in the way of his agenda by name.

scraping_by November 29, 2016 at 8:48 am

PC is a parody of the 20th Century reform movements. I n the 60's the Black churches and the labor unions fought Jim Crow laws and explicit institutional discrimination. In the 70's the feminists worked against legal disabilities written into law. Since the Depression, the unions fought corporate management create a livable relationship between management and labor. Real struggles, real problems, real people.

[Tinfoil hat on)]

At the same time the reformist subset was losing themselves in style points, being 'nice', and passive aggressive intimidation, the corporate community was promoting the anti-government screech for the masses. That is, at the same time the people lost sight of government as their counterweight to capital, the left elite was becoming the vile joke Limbaugh and the other talk radio blowhards said they were. This may be coincidental timing, or their may be someone behind the French connection and Hamilton Fish touring college campuses in the 80's promoting subjectivism. It's true the question of 'how they feel' seems to loom large in discussions where social justice used to be.

[Tinfoil hat off]

There are many words but no communication between the laboring masses and the specialist readers. Fainting couch feminists have nothing to say to wives and mothers, the slippery redefinitions out of non-white studies turn off people who work for a living, and the promotion of smaller and more neurotic minorities are just more friction in a society growing steeper uphill.

Ulysses November 29, 2016 at 8:52 am

"She was studying Liberal Arts at US Ivy League Smith College at the time (which Aussies may recall was being run by our Jill Kerr Conway back then). So I moved in with my dancing beauty and we lived happily on her old man's purse for a year."

I hate to be overly pedantic, but Smith College is one of the historically female colleges known as the Seven Sisters: Barnard College, Bryn Mawr College, Mount Holyoke College, Radcliffe College, Smith College, Vassar College, and Wellesley College. While Barnard is connected to Columbia, and Radcliffe to Harvard, none of the other Sisters has ever been considered any part of the Ancient Eight (Ivy League) schools: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale.

I find it highly doubtful that someone, unaware of this elementary fact, actually lived off a beautiful bisexual black ballerina's (wonderful alliteration!) "old man's purse," for a full year in Northampton, MA. He may well have dated briefly someone like this, but it strains credulity that– after a full year in this environment– he would never have learned of the distinction between the Seven Sisters and the Ivy League.

The Trumpening November 29, 2016 at 9:24 am

The truth of the matter is not so important. The black ballerina riff had two functions. First it helped push an ethos for the author of openness and acceptance of various races and sexual orientations. This is a highly charged subject and so accusations of racism, etc, are never far away for someone pushing class over identity.

Second it served as a nice hook to get dawgs like me to read through the whole thing; which was a very good article. Kind of like the opening paragraph of a Penthouse Forum entry, I was hoping that the author would eventually elaborate on what happened when she pirouetted over him

What's interesting is that in an article pushing class over identity. he never tried to set his class ethos in order to convince working class people or the bourgeoisie why they should listen to him.

Ulysses November 29, 2016 at 10:10 am

I have never, ever known Brits to claim an "Oxbridge education" if they haven't attended either Oxford or Cambridge. Similarly, over several decades of knowing quite well many alumnae from Wellesley, Smith, etc. I have never once heard them speak of their colleges as "Ivy League."

I do get your point, however. Perhaps Mr. Llewellyn-Smith was deliberately writing for a non-U.S. audience, and chose to use "Ivy League" as synonymous with "prestigious." I have seen graduates of Stanford, for example, described as "Ivy Leaguers" in the foreign press.

PlutoniumKun November 29, 2016 at 10:31 am

I have never, ever known Brits to claim an "Oxbridge education" if they haven't attended either Oxford or Cambridge

As a graduate of OBU, I've heard it several times (but usually, it must be said, tongue in cheek).

7 November 29, 2016 at 9:54 am

Lisa gives a good tour

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

PlutoniumKun November 29, 2016 at 9:58 am

I think the gradual process whereby the left, or more specifically, the middle class left, have been consumed by an intellectually vacant went hand in hand with what I found the bizarre abandonment of interest by the left in economics and in public intellectualism. The manner in which the left simply surrendered the intellectual arguments over issues like taxes and privatisation and trade still puzzles me. I suspect it was related to a cleavage between middle class left wingers and working class activists. They simple stopped talking the same language, so there was nobody to shout 'stop' when the right simply colonised the most important areas of public policy and shut down all discussion.*

A related issue is I think a strong authoritarianist strain which runs through some identity politics. Its common to have liberals discuss how intolerant the religious or right wingers are of intellectual discussion, but even try to question some of of the shibboleths of gender/race discussions and you can immediately find yourself labelled a misogynist/homophobe/racist. Just see some of the things you can get banned from the Guardian CIF for saying.

LA Mike November 29, 2016 at 10:14 am

This site, along with the MSM, has flown way off the handle since the election loss. Democrat-bashing is the new pastime.

Our nation's problems can be remedied with one dramatic change:

Caps on executive gains in terms of multiples in both public and private companies of a big enough size. For example, the CEO at most can make 50 times the average salary. Something to that effect. And any net income gains at the end of the year that are going to be dispersed as dividends, must proportionally reach the internal laborers as well. Presto, a robust economy.

All employees must share in gains. You don't like it? Tough. The owner will still be rich.

Historically, executives topped out at 20-30 times average salary. Now it's normal for the number to reach 500-2,000. It's absurd. As if a CEO is manufacturing products, marketing, and selling them all by himself/herself. As if Tim Cook assembles iPhones and iMacs by hand and sells them. As if Leslie Moonves writes, directs, acts in, and markets each show.

Put the redistributive mechanism in the private sphere as well as in government. Then America will be great again.

integer November 29, 2016 at 10:22 am

"This site, along with the MSM, has flown way off the handle since the election loss."

I presume you forgot to add "in my opinion" to the end of this sentence.

"Our nation's problems can be remedied with one dramatic change"

Ha!

FluffytheObeseCat November 29, 2016 at 11:16 am

Bringing C level pay packages at major corporations in line with the real contributions of the recipients would be great. How would we do it? With laws or regulations or executive orders banning the federal government from doing business with any firm that failed to comply with some basic guidelines?

It's an academic point right now in any event. The Trump administration – working together with the Ryan House – is not going to make legislation or sign executive orders to do anything remotely like this. Which is one of the many reasons why bashing Democrats has taken off here I suspect. This election was theirs to lose, and they did everything in their power to toss it.

inhibi November 29, 2016 at 12:03 pm

You do realize that the wealthy are both part of and connected to the legislative branch of every single country on this planet right? As long as that remains so (as it has since the dawn of humans) then good luck trying to cap any sort of hording behavior of the wealthy.

Michael November 29, 2016 at 10:21 am

As someone who grew up in and participated in those discussions:

1) It was "women's studies" back then. "Gender studies" is actually a major improvement in how the issues are examined.

2) We'd already long since lost by then, and we were looking to make our own lives better. Creating a space where we could have good sex and a minimum of violence was better. Reagan's election, and his re-election, destroyed the Left.

3) We live in a both/and world.

Uahsenaa November 29, 2016 at 10:58 am

I feel like this piece could use the yellow waders as well. Instead of simply repeating myself every time these things come up, I proffer an annotation of a important paragraph, to give a sense of what bothers me here.

The post-structural revolution transpired [in the U.S.] before and during the end of the Cold War just as the collapse of the Old Soviet Union denuded the global Left of its raison detre. But its social justice impulse didn't die, [a certain, largely liberal tendency in the North American academy] turned inwards from a notion of the historic inevitability of the decline of capitalism and the rise of oppressed classes, towards the liberation of oppressed minorities within capitalism[, which, if you paid close attention to what was being called for, implied and sometimes even outright demanded clear restraints be placed upon the power of capital in order to meet those goals], empowered by control over the [images, public statements, and widespread ideologies–i.e. discourse {which is about more than just language}] that defined who they were.

The post-structural turn was just as much about Derrida at Johns Hopkins as it was about Foucault trying to demonstrate the subtle and not-so-subtle effects of power in the explicit context of the May '68 events in France. The economy ground to a halt, and at one point de Gaulle was so afraid of a violent revolution that he briefly left the country, leaving the government helpless to do much of anything, until de Gaulle returned shortly thereafter.

Foucault was not entirely sympathetic to the Left, at least the unions, but he was trying to articulate a politics that was just as much about liberation from capitalism as classic Marxism. To that end, discourse analysis was the means to discovering those subtle articulations of power in human relations, not an end in itself as it was for, say, Barthes.

A claim is being made here regarding the "global left" that clearly comes from a parochial, North American perspective. Indian academics, for one, never abandoned political economy for identity politics, especially since in India identity politics, religion, regionalism, castes, etc. were always a concern and remain so. It seems rather odd to me that the other major current in academia from the '90s on, namely postcolonialism, is entirely left out of this story, especially when critiques of militarism and political economy were at the heart of it.

The Trumpening November 29, 2016 at 11:36 am

The saddest point of the events of '68 is that looking back society has never been so equal as at that point in time. That was more or less the time of peak working class living standard relative to the wealthy classes. It is no accident, at least in my book, that these mostly bourgeois student activists have a tard at the end of their name in French: soixante-huitards.

In the Sixites the "Left" had control of the economic levers or power - and by Left I mean those interested in smaller differences between the classes. There is no doubt the Cold War helped the working classes as the wealthy knew it was in their interest to make capitalism a showcase of rough egalitarianism. But during the 60's the RIght held cultural sway. It was Berkeley pushing Free Speech and Lenny Bruce trying to break boundaries while the right tried to keep the Overton Window as tight and squeaky clean as possible.

But now the "Right" in the sense of those who want to increase the difference between rich and poor hold economic power while the Left police culture and speech. The provocateurs come from the right nowadays as they run roughshod over the PC police and try to smash open the racial, gender. and sexual orientation speech restrictions put in place as the left now control the Overton Window.

Sound of the Suburbs November 29, 2016 at 11:19 am

The Left and Liberal are two different things entirely.

In the UK we have three parties:

Labour – the left
Liberal – middle/ liberal
Conservative – the right

Mapping this across to the US:

Labour – X
Liberal – Democrat
Conservative – Republican

The US has been conned from the start and has never had a real party of the Left.

At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Century US ideas changed and the view of those at the top was that it would be dangerous for the masses to get any real power, a liberal Democratic party would suffice to listen to the wants of the masses and interpret them in a sensible way in accordance with the interests of the wealthy.

We don't want the masses to vote for a clean slate redistribution of land and wealth for heaven's sake.

In the UK the Liberals were descendents of the Whigs, an elitist Left (like the US Democrats).

Once everyone got the vote, a real Left Labour party appeared and the Whigs/Liberals faded into insignificance.

It is much easier to see today's trends when you see liberals as an elitist Left.

They have just got so elitist they have lost touch with the working class.

The working class used to be their pet project, now it is other minorities like LGBT and immigration.

Liberals need a pet project to feel self-righteous and good about themselves but they come from the elite and don't want any real distribution of wealth and privilege as they and their children benefit from it themselves.

Liberals are the more caring side of the elite, but they care mainly about themselves rather than wanting a really fair society.

They call themselves progressive, but they like progressing very slowly and never want to reach their destination where there is real equality.

The US needs its version of the UK Labour party – a real Left – people who like Bernie Sanders way of thinking should start one up, Bernie might even join up.

In the UK our three parties all went neo-liberal, we had three liberal parties!

No one really likes liberals and they take to hiding in the other two parties, you need to be careful.

Jeremy Corbyn is taking the Labour party back where it belongs slowly.

left – traditional left
liberal – elitist left

Sound of the Suburbs November 29, 2016 at 11:22 am

Imagine inequality plotted on two axes. Inequality between genders, races and cultures is what liberals have been concentrating on. This is the x-axis and the focus of identity politics and the liberal left.

On the y-axis we have inequality from top to bottom. 2014 – "85 richest people as wealthy as poorest half of the world" 2016– "Richest 62 people as wealthy as half of world's population"

Doing the maths and assuming a straight line .
5.4 years until one person is as wealthy as poorest half of the world.

This is what the traditional left normally concentrate on, but as they have switched to identity politics this inequality has gone through the roof. They were over-run by liberals.

Some more attention to the y-axis please.

The neoliberal view L As long as everyone, from all genders, races and cultures, is visiting the same food bank this is equality.

left – traditional left – y-axis inequality
liberal – elitist left – x -axis inequality (this doesn't affect my background of wealth and privilege)

You can see why liberals love identity politics.

UserFriendly November 29, 2016 at 1:42 pm

https://www.politicalcompass.org/counterpoint-20161110

The main page has a test you can take but that is a nice little post mortem.

susan the other November 29, 2016 at 1:20 pm

labor is being co-opted by the right: the Republican Workers Party I think this rhymes with Fascist. But then, in a world soon to be literally scrambling for high ground and rebuilding housing for 50 million people the time honored "worker" might actually have a renaissance.

UserFriendly November 29, 2016 at 1:31 pm

Identity politics does make democrats lose. The message needs to be economic. It can have the caveat that various sub groups will be paid special attention to, but if identity is the only thing talked about then get used to right wing governments.

TK421 November 29, 2016 at 3:54 pm

If identity politics is a winning issue, where are the wins?

readerOfTeaLeaves November 29, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Empowerment is not just about language, it's about capital, who's got it, who hasn't and what role government plays between them.

Empowerment is very much about capital, but the Left has never had the cajones to stare down and take apart the Right's view of 'capital' as some kind of magical elixir that mysteriously produces 'wealth'.

I ponder my own experiences, which many here probably share:

First: slogging through college(s), showing up to do a defined list of tasks (a 'job', if you will) to be remunerated with some kind of payment/salary. That was actual 'work' in order to get my hands on very small amounts of 'capital' (i.e., 'money').

Second: a few times, I just read up on science or looked at the stock pages and did a little research, and then wrote checks that purchased stock shares in companies that seemed to be exploring some intriguing technologies. In my case, I got lucky a few times, and presto! That simple act of writing a few checks made me look like a smarty. Also, paid a few bills. But the simple act of writing checks cost me n-o-t-h-i-n-g in terms of time, energy, education, physical or mental exertion.

Third: I have also had the experience of working (start ups) in situations where - literally!!! - I made less in a day in salary than I'd have made if I'd simply taken a couple thousand dollars and bought stock in the place I was working.

To summarize:
- I've had capital that I worked long and hard to obtain.
- I've had capital that took me a little research, about one minute to write a check, and brought me a handsome amount of 'capital'. (Magic!)
- I've worked in situations in which I created MORE capital for others than I created for myself. And the value of that capital expanded exponentially.

If the Left had a spine and some guts, it would offer a better analysis about what 'capital' is, the myriad forms it can take, and why any of this matters.

Currently, the Left cannot explain to a whole lot of people why their hard work ended up in other people's bank accounts. If they had to actually explain that process by which people's hard work turned into fortunes for others, they'd have a few epiphanies about how wealth is actually created, and whether some forms of wealth creation are more sustainable than other forms.

IMVHO, I never saw Hillary Clinton as able to address this elemental question of the nature of wealth creation. The Left has not traditionally given a shrewd analysis of this core problem, so the Right has been able to control this issue. Which is tragic, because the Right is trapped in the hedge fund mentality, in the tight grip of realtors and mortgage brokers; they obsess on assets, and asset classes, and resource extraction. When your mind is trapped by that kind of thinking, you obsess on the tax code, and on how to use it to generate wealth for yourself. Enter Trump.

Matthew G. Saroff November 29, 2016 at 12:07 pm

One small correction: Smith is not an Ivy League school, it is one of the "Seven Sisters:
Ivy League:
Brown
Columbia
Cornell
Dartmouth
Harvard
Penn
Princeton
Yale

Seven Sisters:
Barnard
Bryn Mawr
Mount Holyoke
Radcliffe
Smith
Vassar
Wellesley

Theo November 29, 2016 at 12:35 pm

A much more nuanced discussion of the primacy of identity politics on the Left in Britain and the US is http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/11/29/prospects-for-an-alt-left/ "Prospects for an Alt-Left," November 29, 2016, by Elliot Murphy, who teaches in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at University College, London.

And let's not forget that identity politics arose in the first place because of genuine discrimination, which still exists today. In forsaking identity politics in favor of one of class, we should not forget the original reasons for the rise of the phenomena, however poorly employed by some of its practitioners, and however mined by capitalism to give the semblance of tolerance and equality while obscuring the reality of intolerance and inequality.

Lambert Strether November 29, 2016 at 3:28 pm

Trivially, I would think the last thing to do is adopt the "alt-" moniker, thereby cementing the impression in the mind of the public that the two are in some sense similar.

Adamski November 29, 2016 at 6:22 pm

The blogger Lord Keynes at Social Democracy for the 21st Century at blogspot suggests Realist Left instead of alt-left. I think how people are using the term "identity politics" at the moment isn't "actual anti-racism in policy and recruitment" but "pandering to various demographics to get their loyalty and votes so that the party machine doesn't have to try and gain votes by doing economic stuff that frightens donors, lobbyists and the media". Clinton improved the female vote for Democratic president by 1 percentage point, and the black and Latino shares of the Republican were unchanged from Romney in 2012. Thus, identity politics is not working when the economy needs attention, even against the most offensive opponent.

Trigger warning November 29, 2016 at 12:41 pm

So to repress class conflicts, the kleptocracy splintered them into opposition between racists and POC, bigots and LGBTQ, patriarchal oppressors and women, etc., etc. The US state-authorized parties used it for divide and rule. The left fell for it and neutered itself. Good. Fuck the left.

Outside the Western bloc the left got supplanted with a more sensible opposition: between humans and the overreaching state. That alternative view subsumes US-style identity politics in antidiscrimination and cultural rights. It subsumes traditional class struggle in labor, migrant, and economic rights. It reforms and improves discredited US constitutional rights, and integrates it all into the concepts of peace and development. It's up and running with binding law and authoritative institutions .

So good riddance to the old left and the new left. Human rights have already replaced them in the 80-plus per cent of the world represented by UNCTAD and the G-77. That's why the USA fights tooth and nail to keep them out of your reach.

Anon November 29, 2016 at 1:05 pm

To All Commenters: thanks for the discussion. Many good, thoughtful ideas/perspectives.

Mine? Living in California (a minority white populace, broad economic engine, high living expenses (and huge homeless population) and a leader in alternative energy: Trump is what happens when you don't allow the "people" to vote for their preferred candidates (Bernie) and don't listen to a select few voters in key electoral states (WI,MI,PA).

The electorate is angry (true liberals at the Dems, voters in select electoral states at "everything"). If democracy is messy, then that's what we've got; a mess. Unfortunately, it's coming at the absolutely wrong time (Climate Change, lethal policing, financial elite impunity).

Hold this same election with different (multiple) candidates and the outcome is likely different. In the end, we all need to work and demand a more fair and Just society. (Or California is likely to secede.)

Jerry Denim November 29, 2016 at 1:20 pm

"Meanwhile the global Left looked on from its Ivory Tower of identity politics and was pleased. Capitalism was spreading the wealth to oppressed brothers and sisters, and if there were some losers in the West then that was only natural as others rose in prominence."

I can only imagine the glee of the wealthy feminists at Smith while they witnessed the white, lunch pailed, working class American male thrown out of work and into the gutter of irrelevance and despair. The perfect comeuppance for a demographic believed to be the arch-nemesis of women and minorities. Nothing seems quite so fashionable at the moment as hating white male Republicans that live outside of proper-thinking coastal enclaves of prosperity. Unfortunately I fail to see how this attitude helps the country. Seems like more divide and conquer from our overlords on high.

TK421 November 29, 2016 at 3:56 pm

You might find this interesting: link

Anon November 29, 2016 at 9:06 pm

just more whining from the Weekly Standard. While men may have been disproportionately displaced in jobs that require physical strength, many women (nurses?) likely lost their homes during the Great Financial Scam and its fallout.

The enemy is a rigged political, financial, and judicial system.

susan the other November 29, 2016 at 1:37 pm

Identity Politics gestated for a while before the 90s. Beginning with a backlash against Affirmative Action in the 70s, the Left began to turn Liberal. East Coast intellectuals who were anxious they would be precluded from entering the best schools may have been the catalyst (article from Jacobin I think).

But certainly the fall of the USSR was the thing that forced capitalism's hand. At that point capitalism had no choice but to step up and prove that it could really bring a better life to the world.

A Minsky event of biblical proportions soon followed (it only took about 10 years!) and now all is devastation and nobody has clue. But the 1990 effort could have been in earnest. Capitalists mean well but they are always in denial about the inequality they create which finally started a chain reaction in "identity politics" as reactions to the stress of economic competition bounced around in every society like a pinball machine. A tedious and insufferable game which seems to have culminated in Hillary the Relentless. I won't say capitalism is idiotic. But something is.

David November 29, 2016 at 2:47 pm

"Perhaps the NC commentariat could define up and down versions of each of these political philosophies (ie. left and right) and start to take control of the framing."

Well, I'll have a first go, since I was around at the time.

Left and Right only really make sense in the context of the distribution of power and wealth, and only when there is a difference between them about that distribution. This was historically the case for more than 150 years after the French Revolution. By the mid-1960s, there was a sense that the Left was winning, and would continue to win. Progressive taxation, zero unemployment, little real poverty by today's standards, free education and healthcare . and many influential political figures (Tony Crosland for example) saw the major task of the future as deciding where the fruits of economic growth could be most justly applied.

Three things happened that made the Left completely unprepared for the counter-attack in the 1970s. First, simple complacency. When Thatcher appeared, most people thought she'd escaped from a Monty Python sketch. The idea that she might actually take power and use it was incredible.

Secondly, the endless factionalism and struggles for power within the Left, usually over arcane points of ideology, mixed with vicious personal rivalries. The Left loves defeats, and picks over them obsessively, looking for someone else to blame.

Third, the influence of 1968 and the turning away from the real world, towards LSD and the New Age, and the search for dark and hidden truths and structures of power in the world. Fueled by careless and superficial readings of bad translations of Foucault and Derrida, leftists discovered an entire new intellectual continent into which they could extend their wars and feuds, which was much more congenial, since it involved eviscerating each other, rather than seriously taking on the forces of capitalism and the state.

And that's the very short version. We've been living with the consequences ever since. The Left has been essentially powerless, and powerlessness, of course, corrupts. There's always someone weaker than you, which is why identity politics is essentially a conservative, disciplining force, with a vested interest in the problems it has chosen to identify continuing, or it would have no reason to exist.

So until class-based politics and struggles over power and money re-start (if they ever do) I respectfully suggest that "Left" and "Right" be retired as terms that no longer have any meaning.

FluffytheObeseCat November 29, 2016 at 6:20 pm

" powerlessness, of course, corrupts. There's always someone weaker than you, which is why identity politics is essentially a conservative, disciplining force, with a vested interest in the problems it has chosen to identify "

Yes. As long as the doyens of identity politics don't have any real fear of being homeless they can happily indulge in internecine warfare. It's a lot more fun than working to get $20/hour for a bunch of snaggle-toothed guys who kind of don't like you.

integer November 29, 2016 at 6:48 pm

Very interesting. Thank you.

George Phillies November 29, 2016 at 3:06 pm

I read: "Traditional dialectical history was being supplanted by a new suite of studies based around truth as "discourse". Driven by the French post-modern thinkers of the 70s and 80s, the US academy was adopting and adapting the ideas Foucault, Derrida and Barthe to a variety of civil rights movements that spawned gender and racial studies."

Of course, I have been a college professor since the late 1970s. On the other hand, I am a physicist. The notion that truth is discourse is, in my opinion, daft, and says much about the nature of the modern liberal arts, at least as understood by many undergraduates. I have actually heard of the folks referenced in the above, and to my knowledge their influence in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics–the academic fields that are in this century actually central*–is negligible.

*Yes, I am in favor of a small number of students becoming professional historians, dramatists, and composers, but the number of these is limited.

Identity politics is a disaster ongoing for the Democratic Party, for reasons they seem to have overlooked. First, the additional identity group is white. We already see this in the South, where 90% of the white population in many states votes Republican.

When that spreads to the rest of the country, there will be a permanent Republican majority until the Republicans create a new major disaster.

Second, some Democratic commentators appear to have assumed that if your forebearers spoke Spanish, you can not be white. This belief is properly grouped with the belief that if your forebearers spoke Gaelic or Italian, you were from one of the colored races of Europe (a phrase that has faded into antiquity, but some of my friends specialize in American history of the relevant period), and were therefore not White.

Identity politics is a losing strategy, as will it appears be noticed by the losers only after it is too late.

Oregoncharles November 29, 2016 at 3:41 pm

An extremely important point, but overblown in a way that may reflect the author's background and is certainly rhetorical.

So soon we forget the Battle of Seattle. The Left has been opposed to globalization, deregulation, etc., all along. Partly he's talking about an academic pseudo-left, partly confusing the left with the Democrats and other "center-left," captured parties.

That doesn't invalidate his point. If you want to see it in full-blown, unadorned action, try Democrat sites like Salon and Raw Story. A factor he doesn't do justice to is the extreme self-righteousness that accompanies it, supported, I suppose, by the very real injustices perpetrated against minorities – and women, not a minority.

The whole thing is essentially a category error, so it would be nice to see a followup that doesn't perpetuate the error. But it's valuable for stating the problem, which can be hard to present, especially in the face of gales of self-righteousness.

TG November 29, 2016 at 6:58 pm

Well said. An excellent attack on 'identity politics.'

I mean, Barack Obama was our first black president, but most blacks didn't do very well. George W. Bush was our first retard president, and most people with cognitive handicaps didn't do very well.

But we can boil it all down to something even simpler and more primal: divide and conquer.

[Nov 21, 2016] Ron Paul Reveals Hit List Of Alleged Fake News Journalists

Notable quotes:
"... CNN is Paul's biggest alleged culprit, with nine entries, followed by the NY Times and MSNBC, with six each. The NY Times has recently come under fire from President-elect Donald Trump, who accuses them of being "totally wrong" on news regarding his transition team, while describing them as "failing." ..."
"... CNN's Wolf Blitzer is also amongst those named on the list. In an email from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) released by WikiLeaks, the DNC staff discusses sending questions to CNN for an interview with Donald Trump. ..."
"... So-called 'fake news' has been recently attacked by US President Barack Obama, who claimed that false news shared online may have played a role in Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential election. ..."
Nov 21, 2016 | www.infowars.com

"This list contains the culprits who told us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and lied us into multiple bogus wars,"according to a report on his website, Ron Paul Liberty Report. Paul claims the list is sourced and "holds a lot more water" than a list previously released by Melissa Zimdars, who is described on Paul's website as "a leftist feminist professor."

"These are the news sources that told us 'if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,'" he said. "They told us that Hillary Clinton had a 98% of winning the election. They tell us in a never-ending loop that 'The economy is in great shape!'"

Paul's list includes the full names of the "fake news" journalists as well as the publications they write for, with what appears to be hyperlinks to where the allegations are sourced from. In most cases, this is WikiLeaks, but none of the hyperlinks are working at present, leaving the exact sources of the list unknown.

CNN is Paul's biggest alleged culprit, with nine entries, followed by the NY Times and MSNBC, with six each. The NY Times has recently come under fire from President-elect Donald Trump, who accuses them of being "totally wrong" on news regarding his transition team, while describing them as "failing."

The publication hit back, however, saying their business has increased since his election, with a surge in new subscriptions.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer is also amongst those named on the list. In an email from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) released by WikiLeaks, the DNC staff discusses sending questions to CNN for an interview with Donald Trump.

Also listed is NY Times journalist Maggie Haberman, whom leaked emails showed working closely with Clinton's campaign to present the Democratic candidate in a favorable light.

So-called 'fake news' has been recently attacked by US President Barack Obama, who claimed that false news shared online may have played a role in Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential election.

Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg has now said that the social media site may begin entrusting third parties with filtering the news.

[Nov 21, 2016] Belgiums Dutroux Pedophile, Child Rape Affair A Road Map for Deep-State Criminality

Nov 20, 2016 | www.newnationalist.net
Strong, credible allegations of high-level criminal activity can bring down a government. When the government lacks an effective, fact-based defense, other techniques must be employed. The success of these techniques depends heavily upon a cooperative, controlled press and a mere token opposition party.

1. Dummy up . If it's not reported, if it's not news, it didn't happen.

2. Wax indignant . This is also known as the "how dare you" gambit.

3. Characterize the charges as "rumors" or, better yet, "wild rumors." If, in spite of the news blackout, the public is still able to learn about the suspicious facts, it can only be through "rumors."

4. Knock down straw men . Deal only with the weakest aspect of the weakest charges. Even better, create your own straw men. Make up wild rumors and give them lead play when you appear to debunk all the charges, real and fanciful alike.

5. Call the skeptics names like "conspiracy theorist," "nut," "ranter," "kook," "crackpot" and, of course, "rumor monger." You must then carefully avoid fair and open debate with any of the people you have thus maligned.

6. Impugn motives . Attempt to marginalize the critics by suggesting strongly that they are not really interested in the truth but are simply pursuing a partisan political agenda or are out to make money.

7. Invoke authority . Here the controlled press and the sham opposition can be very useful.

8. Dismiss the charges as "old news."

9. Come half-clean . This is also known as "confession and avoidance" or "taking the limited hang-out route." This way, you create the impression of candor and honesty while you admit only to relatively harmless, less-than-criminal "mistakes." This stratagem often requires the embrace of a fall-back position quite different from the one originally taken.

10. Characterize the crimes as impossibly complex and the truth as ultimately unknowable.

11. Reason backward , using the deductive method with a vengeance. With thoroughly rigorous deduction, troublesome evidence is irrelevant. For example: We have a completely free press. If they know of evidence that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) had prior knowledge of the Oklahoma City bombing they would have reported it. They haven't reported it, so there was no prior knowledge by the BATF. Another variation on this theme involves the likelihood of a conspiracy leaker and a press that would report it.

12. Require the skeptics to solve the crime completely.

13. Change the subject . This technique includes creating and/or reporting a distraction.

[Nov 21, 2016] Obama crosses the line in hypocrisy when he start talking about the values of democracy, and free speech, and international norms, and rule of law, respecting the ability of other countries to determine their own destiny and preserve their sovereignty and territorial integrity. What about Libya, Syria and Yemen we would like ask this hypocrite

www.moonofalabama.org

Ghostship | Nov 17, 2016 10:09:56 PM | 47

At least with Trump I expect him to talk crap but Obama talks crap as well when he should know better:

The values that we talked about -- the values of democracy, and free speech, and international norms, and rule of law, respecting the ability of other countries to determine their own destiny and preserve their sovereignty and territorial integrity -- those things are not something that we can set aside.

The unbridled hypocrisy makes me want to puke.