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Two Party System as Polyarchy and anti-Democratic mechanisms of "first past the post" elections

Version 2.4 (Nov  21, 2016)

The USA is a single party state -- it is governed by the Neoliberal party with two factions "soft neoliberals" (Democratic Party) and "hard neoliberals" (Republican Party). Existence of  "Pepsi" and "Coca-Cola" parties in the USA is just a sophisticated variant of "divide and conquer" strategy and could be used by the USSR leadership  instead of one party system. 

News American Polyarchy is not Democracy Recommended Books Recommended Links Crisis of legitimacy of neoliberal elite Demexit Democratic Party Neoliberals Monday morning quarterbacking The Deep State Donald Trump
The Iron Law of Oligarchy Neocons foreign policy is a disaster for the USA Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Superdelegates at Democratic National Convention Anti Trump Hysteria Bernie Sanders Hillary "Warmonger" Clinton Did Obama order wiretaps of Trump conversations Do the US intelligence agencies attempt to influence the US Presidential elections ?
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"There is one political party in this country, and that is the party of money. It has two branches, the Republicans and the Democrats, the chief difference between which is that the Democrats are better at concealing their scorn for the average man."

-- Gore Vidal

“The Democrats are the foxes, and the Republicans are the wolves – and they both want to devour you.” So what does that make Libertarians? Avian flu viruses?”

-- Leonard Pinkney

The race is no contest when you own both horses. That is why no matter which political party is in power nothing really changes other than the packaging. The puppets who drink at the champagne fountains of the powerful do the bidding of their masters. The people are superfluous to the process.

-- Daniel Estulin

 

 

Due to the side an introduction was moved to the separate page Polyarchy, Authoritarianism and Deep State

Summary

I subscribe to Kantian idea of the dignity in human, the idea that everyone is entitled to survival as well as thriving beyond survival. But does everybody is entitled to equal participation in ruling of the state ?  Or  in election of state leaders? Which is what democracy means. Is the democracy possible if three letter agencies like CIA exist?  Probably not as "deep state" sonner or later (usually sooner)  makes surface state just an intrument for providing legitimacy of deep state rule.

Does  the "the first after the post" rule along with enforsing two party system on the population also is instumental with establishing slightly camuflated one party state with two "Pepsi" vs "Coca Cola"  parties which serve as a spoilers for those to the left ot the right of the center, subverting and emasculating new social movements into their (currently neoliberal) stagnant and elite oriented framework. The effect is so profound that it created the impression that "first after the post" can't be used in any country pretending to be a democracy? 

does absence of limits of the term of senators subvert democracy ?  If so what should be the maximum term. Is "gerontocracy" in the US congress  represents positive, or highly negative. Is role of money in elections forces senators to serve effectively as representatives of corporations which reside in the states, not the states themselves  ? 

Another important question is "democracy for whom?". There are always a large part of society (say bottom 80%)  living under the dictatorship (or even neo-slavery as  "wage slaves")  and excluded from the democratic process.  Moreover,  most of the US population spend  their life under authoritarian rule. At least those who work in large corporation or serve in military or government. Which is a majority. how they can behave in a democratic way if they are conditioned and  adapted to authoritarian rule at work ?   What is the level of interest  in governance of an average middle class American (lower class with McJobs most of the time is too preoccupied with survival to be able to particulate in political activity) , if they are brainwashed 24 x 7 by neoliberal propaganda  which tries to distract them from discussing and understanding any serious issue facing the USA.  especially the issue of permanent war for permanent peace, that the USA wage (and profit) since 80th using private army (with a large role of contractors, effectively mercenaries) , so that death and carnage does not touch most americans.  This "light footprint" approach to war has relied on thousands of Americans paid to fight — and die — in the shadows. Outside of any official statistics. There are roughly three contractors (28,626) for every U.S. army member (9,800) in Afghanistan. In Iraq in mid 2017, 7,773 contractors support U.S. government operations — and 4,087 U.S. troops. On April 5, Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, declared during a Senate hearing that contractors made up 25 percent of his workforce (Foreign Policy).

My impression is that the Communist Party of the USSR made a grave mistake by not adopting "the first after the post" election system. In reality it would just legitimize the permanent Communist Party rule, as two factions of the CPSU competing for power (let's call them "Democratic Communists" and "Republican Communists") would exclude any real challenge for the one party rule that was practiced in the USSR under so called "one party" system. Which, while providing the same results,  looks more undemocratic then "first after the post" system, and thus  less safe for the rule of oligarchy as it generates resentment of the population.  

The "first after the post" system provides a very effective suppression of any third party, preventing any chance of maturing such a political force.  No less effective the Societ one party rule, but more subtle and more acceptable to the population. Which is all what is needed to continuation of the rule of the oligarchy.  The same is true for the parties themselves. Iron law of oligarchy was actually discovered by observing the evolution of the party leadership.

Revolutionary situation after 2008 is connected with discreditation of neoliberal ideology

The situation when the current (neoliberal) ruling elite (or in less politically correct term oligarchy) experienced difficulties with the continuation of its rule and the existing methods of suppression and indoctrination of the lower part population stop working is called  "revolutionary situation".  In 2008 the protest was squashed by electing "Trojan horse" Obama, who proved to be the king of "bait and switch" maneuver. Some signs of this situation were observable in the USA in 2016 which led to the election of what  a person who like Obama pretended  essentially to be an independent candidate slightly (at least formally) opposing the most negative effects of neoliberalism on population (anti-globalization stance, accent of creation jobs within the USA, etc) -- Donald Trump.  Who later proved to be Republican version of Obama. Not without help of "deep state" which launched unprotected and well coordinated company of leaks and 24 x 7 negative news to discredit his personality and administration. Going as far as in a very elegant really Machiavellian way  using fake accusations ("Russiagate) appointing a special prosecutor using Obama/Hillary supporters in the Judicial department (effectively coup d'état as special procedure is big burden which effectively paralyses any administration and Clinton presidency had shown). And when it did not work, they tried to accuse him of being racist (using  1 Charlottesville events) or even insane person. Looks like for Trump, even if he has some intention to implement anti-neoliberal measures -- the resistance proved to be way too strong and such intencion did not last even half a year.  Bombing Syria army air field with Tomahawks was an early signal of surrender.  Removing Bannon, and adding troops to Afghan war make this turn around and betrayal of Trump voters in best Obama style virtual certainty.

It was clear that there is a widespread feeling among the majority of the US population now that the current neoliberal system of governance, installed by victorious neoliberals after 1980, is wrong and unjust. And when the people do not wouldn't like to live under the current system, and the ruling oligarchy can't continue to rule using the same methods and its brainwashing/propaganda does not work anymore " a revolutionary situation, a rare moment when "the change we can believe in" becomes possible arise. Not the con that the king of "bait and switch" maneuver Obama sold to the US lemmings in 2008 and then in 2012, but the "real" change; which can be for the good or bad. Stability of the society also has its great value. As Chinese curse state it succinctly "May you live in interesting times".

 In such cases, the ruling elite typically decides to unleash a foreign war and use "rally around the flag" effect  to suppress dissent and to restore the control (that's the real meaning of Samuel Johnson quote "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"). But in this partualr case the USA already is in engaged in several wars (or occupations), so the nostalgia for good time what the USSR existed proved to be irresistible. And the pitch level of anti-Russian propaganda in 2016-2017 in neoliberal MSM suggest that a large part of the US elite decided to "waive a dead chicken" (actually Hillary made Russophobia a part of hir election campaign, effectively unleashing a new neo-McCarthyism campaign in the USA).  As John Kenneth Galbraith noted “People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.

People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.” --  John Kenneth Galbraith

In 2016 we saw an attempt by oligarchy to rig the elections despite growing populism, at all cost. Throwing  Sanders under the bus represented exactly this maneuver.  The were not stopped even by the fact that they are promoting a deeply criminal and candidate with serious health problems ("We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality") The level of propaganda displayed in 2015-2016 election cycle by neoliberal MSM might well outdo the levels achieved by communist propagandists in during best days of the USSR.  And that happened because this time there is a slight chance that the election are not about choosing "soft neoliberal" vs. "hard neoliberal" but "soft neoliberal"  vs. (at least partially) "paleoconservative" (or "bustard neoliberal" ;-) who during election campaign rejects the idea of neoliberal globalization and by extension the necessity of fighting constant wars for the expansion of the US led global neoliberal empire.   But later quickly recognized that this heresy is not acceptable in the corridors of Washington deep state and can be harmful for his health ;-). The hissy fit in neoliberal media and the emergence of certain figures from the intelligence agencies on an "avanscena" as the leaders of "color revolution" against Trump (so called "Purple revolution") were to be expected but  caught Trump absolutely unprepared.

There is also an interesting question what kind of democracy the competition  of "Democratic Neoliberals" ("soft neoliberal/closet neocons) and "Republican Neoliberals: ("hard core" neoliberal/open neocons) in the USA demonstrates. And not only "democracy for whom" -- it is clear that this is the democracy for the top 1% or, at best, top 20% of population. a more interesting observation is that  as Trump election has shown, neoliberals like Bolsheviks in the past are ready to go to extreme methods including coup d'état to preserve their power, the democracy be damned.  

Also interesting were the methods of indoctrination of population which were borrowed by the USA neoliberals from the Soviet experience, which  were practiced from 1980th.  They use university course in economics in the same (or more correctly slightly more subtle; using mathematics as smoke screen for indoctrination into neoliberal ideology)  way Soviet universities use the course of philosophy. In the USSR the courses of philosophy and political economy were obligatory for all university students and people did read both Marx and Lenin; but there were problem with indoctrination as Soviet society did not correspond to Marx expectations  -- as Marx famously said he was not a Marxist.  The same to a certain extent is true for Lenin, who was essentially a bridge between Marxism and national socialism.  This problem was solved by carefully pre-selecting "classics" works to only a samll "legitimate" emasculated subset that was in like with Bolshevism.  Neoclassical economy in the USA plays exactly the same role and is even worse. At least with some effort Soviet  student can get all the  works of Marx and Lenin. Here, in the USA, chances to read Keynce and other "deviant" economists for univeristy students are virtually zero. They are completely distracted from funadmental issues by high doze of mathematics (misused and abused -- called mathiness). Which  is used as smoke  screen which hide the poverty of ideas of neo-classical economy.

But deteriorating economy and stagnation does make neoliberal propaganda less effective.  Like people of the USSR were listening to BBC and Voice of America at night, despite jamming, thinking people in the  USA are resort of alternative sources of news or even, God forbid, visit "naked capitalism", RT, or other "disapproved" by  neoliberal propagandists sites. Even thoroughly brainwashed the USA population, who like member of high demand cult now internalized postulates of neoliberalism like dogmas of some civil religion (displacing Christianity, so much about fake myth the USA is Christian nation; it is not) , started to have doubts.  Alternative sources of information in 2016-2017 started to play such and outside role that the company about "fake news" was launched to suppress them. They did not stop people from reading, say, Guardian, RT, unz.com, American conservative, Asia Times, to name a few.

But still the general level  political education of US votes leave much to be desired and is probably as low if not lower that it was in the USSR (due to obsessive emphasis on the works of Marxs and Lenin soviet voters with university education usually have strong doubt about soviet system ). Let's honestly ask yourselves  what percentage of US voters can list key proposition of paleoconservative political platform vs. neoliberal platform. Or define what the term "neoliberal" means. It is difficult also because the terms "neoliberalism" and "Paleoconservatism" are expunged from MSM. Like Trotsky writings were in the USSR. Assuming that this might well be the key difference between two frontrunner in the last Presidential race, this is really unfortunate.

The myth about intelligent voters

That means the hypothesis that majority of voters under "popular democracy" regime (where all citizens have a right to vote) understand what they are voting for ("informed voters" hypothesis)  is open to review (see Myth about intelligent voter).  Otherwise identity politics would not be so successful in the USA, despite being a primitive variation of classic "divide and conquer" strategy. In any democracy, how can voters make an important decision unless they are well informed?  But what percentage of US votes can be considered well informed?  And taking into account popularity of Fox News what percentage is brainwashed or do not what to think about the issues involved and operate based on emotions and prejudices? And when serious discussion of issues that nation faces are deliberately and systematically replaced by "infotainment" voters became just pawns in the game of factions of elite, which sometimes leaks information to sway public opinion, but do it very selectively. All MSM represent the views of large corporations which own them. No exception are allowed. Important information is suppressed or swiped under the carpet to fifth page in NYT to prevent any meaningful discussion. For example, ask several of your friends if they ever heard about Damascus, AR.

In any case one amazing fact happened during this election: republican voters abandoned Republican brass and flocked to Trump, while Democratic voters abandoned Democratic neoliberals and flocked to Sanders (although DNC managed to fix primaries, and then engaged in anti-Russian hysteria to hide this criminal fact).  See Trump vs. The REAL Nuts for an informed discussion of this phenomenon.

Mr. Trump’s great historical role was to reveal to the Republican Party what half of its own base really thinks about the big issues. The party’s leaders didn’t know! They were shocked, so much that they indulged in sheer denial and made believe it wasn’t happening.

The party’s leaders accept more or less open borders and like big trade deals. Half the base does not! It is longtime GOP doctrine to cut entitlement spending. Half the base doesn’t want to, not right now! Republican leaders have what might be called assertive foreign-policy impulses. When Mr. Trump insulted George W. Bush and nation-building and said he’d opposed the Iraq invasion, the crowds, taking him at his word, cheered. He was, as they say, declaring that he didn’t want to invade the world and invite the world. Not only did half the base cheer him, at least half the remaining half joined in when the primaries ended.

But at the same time the struggle for political equality which is often associative with the word "democracy" is a vital human struggle, even if democracy itself is an unachievable and unrealistic ideal (see The Iron Law of Oligarchy).  In some sense too much talk about Democracy is very suspect and just characterize the speaker as a hypocrite with probably evil intentions, who probably is trying to mask some pretty insidious plans with "democracy promotion" smokescreen.

The same is true for countries.  Especially for those which use  "export of democracy" efforts to mask their imperial ambitions. As in the efforts to expand and sustain the global neoliberal empire led by the USA.  See color revolutions for details.  Actually that makes the USA very similar the USSR with its leaders dream about global Communist empire led from Moscow. Both in the USA and the USSR there was too much talk about democracy, while actually practice was decidedly undemocratic. It was oligarchic rule in both cases. In the USA the situation is further complicated by amazing level of brainwashing of population via MSM, which definitely exceed the level achieved by nomenklatura in Soviet Union outside of "Stalinism" period.  Can you imagine the situation in the USSR when members of the ruling communist party were prohibited to show their affiliation with the Communist Party and the words "communist" and "communism" was "discouraged" and their usage is suppressed  in MSM including leading newspapers Pravda and Izvestia (roughly analogical to WaPo and NYT).   That's the situation we have in the USA now.

The term "neoliberalism" is effectively prohibited from usage in major US MSM and all political discussion is forcefully turned into "infotainment" -- the clash of  personalizes. In other words discussion of key issues facing the country (politics in real sense of this word)  was replaced under neoliberal regime by "infotainment" with slick and often psychically beautiful "presstitutes" instead of olitical analysts.   But like was the case in the USSR neoliberal brainwashing gradually lost its effectiveness because it contradicts the reality. and neoliberalism failed to deliver promises of "rising tide lifting all board", or trickle down economy which justified tremendous enrichment of top 0.1%. 

Neoliberalism divides the society in  two classes like in old, good Marxism

Politically neoliberalism. like Marxism in the past, operates with the same two classes: "entrepreneurs" (modern name for capitalists and financial oligarchy) and debt slaves (proletarians under Marxism) who work for them. Under neoliberalism only former considered first class citizens ("one dollar -- one vote"). Debt slaves are second class of citizens and are prevented from political self-organization, which by-and-large deprives them of any form of political participation. In best Roman tradition it is substituted with the participation in political shows ("Bread and circuses") See Empire of Illusion The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges.  In this sense the role of the election is not election of the candidate of people want but legitimizing the candidate the oligarchy pre-selected. . They  helps to provide legitimacy for the ruling elite. 

The two party system invented by the elite of Great Britain proved to be perfect for neoliberal regimes, which practice what Sheldon Wolin called inverted totalitarism. The latter is the regime in which all political power belongs to the financial oligarchy which rules via the deep state mechanisms, and where traditional political institutions including POTUS are downgraded to instruments of providing political legitimacy of the ruling elite. Population is discouraged from political activity. "Go shopping" as famously recommended Bush II to US citizens after 9/11.

But at the same time the struggle for political equality which is often associative with the word "democracy" is a vital human struggle, even if democracy itself is an unachievable and unrealistic ideal (see The Iron Law of Oligarchy).  In some sense too much talk about Democracy is very suspect and just characterize the speaker as a hypocrite with probably evil intentions, who probably is trying to mask some pretty insidious plans with "democracy promotion" smokescreen. The same is true for countries.  Especially for those which use  "export of democracy" efforts to mask their pretty much imperial ambitions. The efforts to expand and sustain the global neoliberal empire led by the USA.  See color revolutions for details.  Actually that makes the USA very similar the USSR with its leaders dream about global Communist empire led from Moscow. Both in the USA and the USSR there was too much talk about democracy, while actually practice was decidedly undemocratic. It was oligarchic rule in both cases. In the USA the situation is further complicated by amazing level of brainwashing of population via MSM, which definitely exceed the level achieve by nomenklatura in Soviet Union. Can you imagine the situation in the USSR when members of the ruling communist party were prohibited to show their affiliation and the words "communist" and "communism" was "discouraged" and their usage is suppressed  in MSM including leading newspapers Pravda and Izvestia (roughly analogical to WaPo and NYT).   That's the situation we have in the USA now.

Corporation as the role model for government under neoliberalism excludes the possibility of democracy

Everything should be organized like corporation under neoliberalism, including government, medicine, education, even military. And everybody is not a citizen but a shareholder  (or more correctly stakeholder), so any conflict should be resolved via discussion of the main stakeholders. Naturally lower 99% are not among them.

The great propaganda mantra of neoliberal governance is "wealth maximization". Which proved to be very seductive for society as a whole in reality is applied very selectively and never to the bottom 60% or 80%, or eve 99% of population.  In essence, it means a form of welfare economics for financial oligarchy while at the same time a useful smokescreen for keeping debt-slaves obedient by removing any remnants of job security mechanisms that were instituted during the New Deal. As the great American jurist and Supreme Court associate justice Louis Brandeis once said: “We can have huge wealth in the hands of a relatively few people or we can have a democracy. But we can’t have both.”

As under neoliberalism extreme wealth is the goal of the social system, there can be no democracy under neoliberalism. And this mean that pretentions of the USA elite that the USA is a bastion of democracy is plain vanilla British ruling elite style hypocrisy.  Brutal suppression of any move to challenge dominance of financial oligarchy (even such feeble as Occupy movement)  shows that all too well.

Like in case of communist regimes before, under neoliberalism we now face a regime completely opposite to democracy: we have complete, forceful atomization of public, acute suppression of any countervailing political forces (similar to the suppression of dissidents in the USSR in its effectiveness and brutality, but done in "velvet gloves" without resort to physical violence). That includes decimation of  labor unions and other forms of self-organization for the lower 80%, or even 99% of population.  Neoliberalism tries to present any individual, any citizen, as a market actor within some abstract market (everything is the market under neoliberalism). Instead of fight for political  and economic equality neoliberalism provides a slick slogan of "wealth maximization" which is in essence a "bait and switch" for redistribution of wealth up to the top 1% (which is the stated goal of neoliberalism aka "casino capitalism"). It was working in tandem with "shareholder value" mantra which is a disguise of looting of the corporations to enrich its top brass via outsize bonuses (IBM is a nice example where such an approach leads) and sending thousands of white-collar workers to the street. Previously it was mainly blue-collar workers that were affected. Times changed. 

The difference between democrats and republicans as (at least partially) the difference in the level of authoritarianism of two factions of the same "Grand neoliberal Party of the USA"

Both Democratic Party and Republican arty in the USA are neoliberal parties. So effectively we have one-party system skillfully masked as duopoly ;-). Communists could use the same trick, by having the part Socialist internationalists worker-peasants party of the USSR and Democratic internationalists peasant-worker party of the USSR, with leaders wet kissing each other behind the curtain as is the case in the USA. In the USA we have Cola/Pepsi duopoly that is sold as the shining example of democracy, although just the rule "the first after the post" prevents democracy from functioning as it eliminates minorities from governance. 

Political atmosphere at the USA since Reagan, when Republican drifted right and Democrats were bought by Wall Street really reminds me the USSR.  But still those parties reflect two different strata of the US population, which according to Marc J. Hetherington and Jonathan D. Weiler book Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics in the level of authoritarianism (for example, as measured by F-scale.). Many Republican politicians can be classified as Double High Authoritarians.

If we assume that this is true, the the large part of "verge issues" that so skillfully played in each election, and using which allow the elite to avoid addressing any fundamental issues facing the nation, such as race, gay marriage, illegal immigration, and the use of force to resolve security problems -- reflect differences in individuals' levels of authoritarianism. This makes authoritarianism an especially compelling explanation of contemporary American politics.

Events and strategic political decisions have conspired to make all these considerations more salient. While the authors acknowledge that authoritarianism is not the only factor determining how people vote, it does offer a an important perspective : a large part (at least white Americans) flock to the particular party based on proximity to their own level authoritarianism and corresponding worldview of the party.  In other words  the percentage of authoritarian/non-authoritarian personality in the population allow to predict, at least in part,  voting behavior of the the USA "white block" electorate.


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[Oct 16, 2017] C Wright Mills called the US state a plutocracy all fifty years ago

Notable quotes:
"... Indeed; smart, intelligent, "clever" folks in no way confers any degree of civility on their "vested" interests. Manipulation and control are suitably useful tools for their purposes. ..."
"... The media is not a major player in running the country, contrary to what much of the right has been brainwashed to believe. It's a tool of the elite. A hammer is also a very useful tool but it doesn't do much to determine what the carpenter builds. ..."
"... We convinced ourselves that our form of oligarchy was somehow "better" than other forms, when in fact, the end game was always the same..concentrating the power in as few hands as possible. Denial was the name of the game here in the US. ..."
"... They learned their lessons well after the 60's, the last time the people really raised up against the machine, so they have given us all the; junk food at a low cost, all the TV and mindless sexually charged entertainment, all the "debt wealth", a simple minded, unread, semi-literate, beer swilling fool could ever ask for. And we all gladly gobble it up and follow the crowd, for who wants to be on the outside looking in... ..."
"... There is always a ruling elite because power is the wellspring of all human actions. There is also a certain moral consciousness that many people argue is innate in human nature, and that consciousness is fairness. The fairness instinct survives where ordinary human sympathy may fail. Based upon this basic morality of fairness those of us who are willing to take risks in the interest of fairness need to prune and tend the ruling elites as soon as possible. We proles need to act together. ..."
"... Waiting for the oligarchy to rot from within isn't what i would call a viable plan. Not when there is a far better and far more sure way to get the job done. Start with capping wealth accumulation. ..."
"... With all the upheaval in today's politics, it's hard not to think that this moment is one in which the future of the political system might be more up for grabs than it has been in generations. ..."
"... Dominance of oligarchic political power, through neoliberalism, over the last four decades has effectively put such policies out of bounds. ..."
"... The last one I recall was an article by Kenan Malik on identity politics . For what exists in this country, the UK, I have previously used the term "oligarchy by profession" ... meaning a pool of the usually upper half of the middle class, or a group in whom that group is disproportionally represented, who not only likely have a select education but who go on to become part of certain professions - accountants, lawyers, journalists, bankers, doctors etc. ... and of course, politicians tend to be drawn from these. ..."
"... Apparently we're so distracted that we're also all genuinely shocked that Hollywood is rife with pedophilia and extreme sexual harassment as though it's some revelation that we didn't know already, but that's another conversation. ..."
"... If we're all so distracted then it's not difficult for our political 'representatives' -- I use that word very tentatively because they barely ever do -- to subject themselves to the oligarchs for a few scraps more than we have ourselves. ..."
"... Limiting govt still leaves economic power and the tendency towards monopoly untouched. ..."
"... Culture is the key, much more than any genetic impulse, which is practically meaningless and so explains nothing. ..."
"... As wealth defense is so important to oligarchs, there is a constant pressure to cheat and break the law. One solution therefore is to apply the law but also to construct legislation with specific principles in mind. If the point of tax legislation is to contribute your share towards the general good then those who avoid and evade tax would be guilty of a technical breach but also a breach of the principle. ..."
"... However our laws are skewed to allowing the wealthy to defend their wealth and so a party of the people is always needed. Always. ..."
Oct 16, 2017 | discussion.theguardian.com

cognitivedissonance1 , 15 Oct 2017 13:25

Nothing new here, C Wright Mills, the US state as a plutocracy , government by the few , said it all fifty years ago , especially the economic oligarchs

http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/theory/mills_critique.html

http://plutocratsandplutocracy.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/the-power-elite.html

imipak -> NoBets , 15 Oct 2017 13:21
I would again point to Plato. Those whose affluence exceeds the critical threshold stagnate. They have no need to work, no need to hold anything as valuable, they contribute nothing and take everything.

What is the point in being so rich? There's nothing you can gain from it, other than bank account pinball.

The purpose of being rich is to enable you. It is the only purpose. Once you are fully enabled, money has no value.

Those who are poor can't afford the tools to work well, the education/training needed, anything by which they could better themselves and be upwardly mobile.

There are some who are poor by choice. Voluntary hermits are common enough. They're not included in here because they're self-sufficient and have the tools they need so fall out of scope.

The middle band, where prone work the best, function the best, are mentally and physically the best, is very very big. Nothing stops you cramming society into there because they've plenty of room to stretch out.

But people always want to improve. No big. Make tax follow a curve, so that you always improve but the game gets harder not easier. Would you play a computer game where level 100 was easier than level 1? No, you'd find it boring. As long as it's a single curve, nobody gets penalized.

You now get to play forever, level billion is better than level million is better than level thousand, but it's asymptotic so infinite improvement never breaks outside the bounds.

"Asymptotic" is a word that meets your objection AND my rebuttal. You do not have to have either a constant, infinity or hard ceilings. Leave straight lines to geometers and enter the world of inflection points.

Viddyvideo , 15 Oct 2017 13:19
Elites exist the world over -- East, West, North and South. Question is how do we create a world where power is shared -- Plato and his Guardians perhaps or are we doomed to be ruled by elites until the end of time?
handygranny -> R Zwarich , 15 Oct 2017 13:14
Indeed; smart, intelligent, "clever" folks in no way confers any degree of civility on their "vested" interests. Manipulation and control are suitably useful tools for their purposes.
memo10 -> ashleyhk , 15 Oct 2017 13:11

Yet most of the media is resolutely "liberal" or leftist How do you explain that?

The media is not a major player in running the country, contrary to what much of the right has been brainwashed to believe. It's a tool of the elite. A hammer is also a very useful tool but it doesn't do much to determine what the carpenter builds.

RecantedYank -> mjmizera , 15 Oct 2017 13:09
Rapid is still quite right... We convinced ourselves that our form of oligarchy was somehow "better" than other forms, when in fact, the end game was always the same..concentrating the power in as few hands as possible. Denial was the name of the game here in the US.
CommanderMaxil -> Elgrecoandros , 15 Oct 2017 13:08
jessthecrip's comment was clearly not calling for JRM to be imprisoned or in any way punished for his views , but for his votes . Specifically his votes in the House of commons to support benefit cuts for disability claimants. Admittedly that a pretty extreme position from my point of view, but nonetheless you are misrepresentating what was said, whether deliberately or because you genuinely have not understood only you can know
Spudnik2 -> Gunsarecivilrights , 15 Oct 2017 13:05
More people should simply look up from time to time and quit living in fantasy books. The whole and real truth is not written in a book its all around you if you are willing to except what you see.
vinny59er , 15 Oct 2017 13:04
Form a government in same way we select juries. No entrenchment of the same old guard, no lobbyists,no elite, no vested interests.Just people like you,and you.People like your children.People like your parents.People like your neighbors
mjmizera -> RecantedYank , 15 Oct 2017 13:03
The industrial-military complex of the 50-70s didn't just disappear, but morphed into today's structures.
mjmizera -> voogdy , 15 Oct 2017 13:00
Not anymore, as conspiracy nuts are now serving their new masters, the altRight. They joined the enemy.
theseligsussex -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 12:59
Not really driven by the oligarch, more looted. And there's normally 1 greedy bugger, Sulla or Pompey, who has to have it all and upsets the apple cart, and then you get Augustus.
mjmizera -> ashleyhk , 15 Oct 2017 12:58
There is never the right far enough that one can't be to the left of.
mjmizera -> RecantedYank , 15 Oct 2017 12:55
All the good/bad labels lose their meaning without a qualifier - for whom.
winemaster2 , 15 Oct 2017 12:54
The US and it being a democracy, the word that is no where mentioned in the Constitution is one big hoax and the perpetuation of the same, where the missed people in this country are further conned by the elite and the rich. Then on top of it all we f or sure not practice what we preach. To that end our political system with two senators from each of 50 states m irrespective to the population is lot to be desired in terms of any real democratic process, let alone equality in representation. To add insult to injury, the US House of Representatives where Congressional Districts are gerrymandered just about every two years, is even worst. Just as the US Congress in which over 90% of the people have no confidence.
sejong -> ashleyhk , 15 Oct 2017 12:50
Yet most of the media is resolutely "liberal" or leftist How do you explain that?

Liberal MSM has been emasculated. It doesn't know it's dead. It doesn't move any needles. It just brays on in ineffective anti-Trump outrage and one identity politics issue after another.

Rightwing media is king in USA.

makingalist , 15 Oct 2017 12:47
One way they get away with it is by having their own separate education system. It's high time private schools were closed down.
handygranny -> ID3924525 , 15 Oct 2017 12:47
Who was it again who said he loves the undereducated and uninformed during the campaign season of 2016?
laerteg -> ValuedCustomer , 15 Oct 2017 12:44
Yes- the demonization of liberalism on the right and the turning away from liberalism on the left *has* paved the way for oligarchy.

Divide and conquer, as usual, is working.

Shrimpandgrits -> imperium3 , 15 Oct 2017 12:44
Slavery -- chattel slavery -- was an element.

Socialist, mass slavery was not.

Leon Sphinx , 15 Oct 2017 12:41
The House of Lords in the U.K. and the Senate in the US were originally there to prevent poor people - always the majority - from voting to take away wealth and lands from the rich. Basically, if such a vote was cast, the HoL and Senate - filled with the elites of society - had the power to block it.
ashleyhk , 15 Oct 2017 12:41
This is a fascinating dissection of how the "leftist/liberal" media was completely disrupted by Trump. It is a long read and quite difficult (so not likely to appeal to most of the knee-jerk commentators) but, whatever your politics it is well worth a look
https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/10/what-facebook-did/542502 /
Laurence Bury , 15 Oct 2017 12:41
The human (and probably animal) world is made up of oligarchies that deal with each other. History has shown that only lone soldiers can upset established orders: Alexander, Napoleon, Lenin, Castro and Bin Laden come to mind.
laerteg -> Hibernica , 15 Oct 2017 12:40
I agree with the article's premise. We have allowed the oligarchs to consolidate power.

Why? Because Americans revere wealth and power. We have bought into the capitalist model hook, line, and sinker. We willingly elect candidates and sign on to policies that allow oligarchs to consolidate their power, increase their wealth and income inequality, pomote greed and selfishness, and undermine democracy - the power of the people.

We have been busy electing agents of oligarchy to Congress since 1980. Buying ino the "small government" con, the "taxes are theft" con, "the business is overregulated" con, the "corporations are the job creators" con and its twin the "government never created jobs" con, the anti-union con, etc, etc, etc.

Our political system would be a lot more representative of the people if the people would get off their butts and start participating in it. Our electoral ststem is open to anyone who wants to participate.

But who and how many participate any more?

When the people create a vacuum with their apathy and cynicism, the oligarchs fill it with their greed.

Oligarchs will always be attracted to power, no matter what system is in place. What's needed to minimize their ability to entrench themselves is vigilance in defending our institutions against corruption.

And vigilance is something that the American people seem to have less and less of every day.

Matt Quinn , 15 Oct 2017 12:40
Maximise aggregate happiness as John Nash suggested. Cooperation beats competition in almost every sphere. Uniting the 99% will happen after the 1% have brought civilisation to a standstill and a billion people starve.
vinny59er , 15 Oct 2017 12:38
The biggest impediment to true and real democracy is the existence of political parties.
RapidSloth -> RecantedYank , 15 Oct 2017 12:27
Denial is a powerful mental mechanism, that and also people tend to associate oligarchy with brutal, straight forwards autocratic rule.
US has a very sophisticated socio-political system that has isolated the elite and the common man through many filters rather than one solid brick wall - so people dont see it. This paired with large enough populations who are cretinous enough to actually vote for somebody like Trump or give a second term to the likes of G.W Bush makes fooling extremely easy.

There is also the tendency of treating laws like dogma and the constitution like the bible. A stark example of it is how they boast about freedom of speech. Everybody is keen to point out that one can publicly criticize politicians without fear of prosecution but nobody seems to notice how useless that speech is and how effectively the political elite shelters itself from negative opinion and is able to proceed against the public will. I find it quite fascinating.

RecantedYank , 15 Oct 2017 12:20
ALL oligarchies are bad...they just function from a different starting point.
In the US, we have an oligarchy based on wealth,who then uses their money to buy the political animals.
In Communist countries, you had a political oligarchy, who used their political powers to corner the wealth.
And in religious oligarchies you have a few selected "high priests" using religious fervor/special communication lines with whatever deity, to capture both wealth and politics.

None of these are preferable over the other as they all concentrate power into the hands of the few (1-2%), against the interests of the many.

virgenskamikazes , 15 Oct 2017 12:20
The fact is Western Democracy (democratic capitalism) is not and was never a true democracy.

Historians from at least 300 years from now, when studying our historical time, will state our system was capitalism, whose political system was plutocracy -- the rule of the capitalist class from behind the curtains, through puppet governors.

Sure, the same historians will, through archaeological evidence, state, correctly, that we called and considered ourselves to live in a democracy. But they will also find evidence that this claim was always contested by contemporaries. Emperor Augustus restored the façade of the Republic and called himself princeps instead of king, and, officially, Rome was still a Republic until the time of Marcus Aurelius to Diocletian (maybe the first emperor to openly consider himself a monarch) -- it doesn't fool today's historians, and it seems it didn't fool the Roman people also.

sejong , 15 Oct 2017 12:15
Oligarchy in USA is secure. For a generation, it has leveraged rightwing media to get unquestioning support from white America based on aggrieved truculence toward the liberal, the brown, and the black. And that was pre-Trump.

Now Trump rampages against the very symbol of the grievance: Obama.

It's midnight in the world's leading third world country

voogdy , 15 Oct 2017 12:10
Anyone who's been accusing united states of being an oligarchy so far was branded as a conspiracy nut. So does this article rehabilitates them and confirms their assertions?
j. von Hettlingen , 15 Oct 2017 12:07
In ancient Greece: "While the ruling class must remain united for an oligarchy to remain in power, the people must also be divided so they cannot overthrow their oppressors." Today the oligarchs aren't always united, because they see each other as rivals. But they have nothing against dividing and weakening the people in order to prevent them from rising up to "their oppressors."
Mass indoctrination is the answer. Oligarchs around the world seek to build up a media empire to brainwash a gullible public and sow discord in the society. The most notorious members of a civil oligarchy in the West are Silvio Berlusconi and Rupert Murdoch. Like oligarchs in ancient Greece, their modern counterparts need democratic support to legitimise their goals. And they support candidates in elections who will do their bidding once in office.
Oligarchy and plutocracy will continue to rule America, because the worship of money is a popular faith. As long as an individual is well off, he/she sees little incentive to help improve social equality. A revolution will only be possible if a critical mass is behind it.
PeterlooSunset -> maddiemot , 15 Oct 2017 12:06
The current US education system was put in place by the oligarch foundations of the Rockefellers, Carnegies and Guggenheims . It exists to keep the majority of the citizenry misinformed, thus docile workers and passive consumers.
ID3924525 -> 37Dionysos , 15 Oct 2017 12:05
Sounds about right - a least some, a very small minority, realise they're being suckered - the overwhelming majority die pig ignorant, whether they believe they've made it or live in a trailer park.
lasos2222 , 15 Oct 2017 12:03
it's very rare that an article in the Guardian doesn't have an obvious agenda. Simple click bait stuff. This article is different, and worthwhile reading. Excellent.
RecantedYank , 15 Oct 2017 12:02
I am only surprised that anyone would still be in the dark about whether or not the US is an oligarchy. It's been obvious now for at least the past three-four decades.
RapidSloth , 15 Oct 2017 12:01
If the general public opposes rule-by-economic-elites, yep sure... too elections held in the last two decades contradict that statement.
37Dionysos -> OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 12:01
Yep---for where very few have very much and most have nothing, you have a pressure-cooker. The property-police must indeed grow in number and brutality.
37Dionysos -> ID3924525 , 15 Oct 2017 11:58
And the other half of it is what Ben Franklin warned about, "the corruption of the people." The gangsters really sense and know how to play people against themselves---arousing appetites, appealing to short-term pleasure, to short-term feel-good thinking and acts, and to greed and lust for seemingly easy power. When you realize you're had, it's too late: "In every transaction, there's a sucker. If you're wondering who that is, it's you."
Feindbild -> PSmd , 15 Oct 2017 11:55
Yep sure. The 'big white kid' pritecting the brown kid does tend to be working class or middle class Jewish, and indeed, more likely to be socialist than liberal (in my experience).

I wouldn't limit credit for this kind of thing to any particular ethnicity. But I will say that most major successful reform 'crusades' of modern Western history were inspired by Christian ideals, and often led by Christian clergy, including the anti-slavery Abolition movement in 19th-century America, the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and '60s, and the anti-Communist revolutions in 1980's Eastern Central Europe. Even in the anti-Apartheid movement, the churches played a leading role, personified, of course, by Bishop Tutu.

MTorrespico -> OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:52
Correct, because that would be too easy . . . for 'Muricans, because Other people might benefit, and because it is too, too logical a solution for the Turd World USA.
37Dionysos , 15 Oct 2017 11:51
In the Oxford English Dictionary you find that "profit" and "advantage" are close cousins etymologically. Makes sense, since "profit" (the word for value you did not put into an exchange) creates "advantage"---and then you use advantages to give even less and take even more profit. Round and round she goes, and there's no bottom. "Advantage" of course is also inherently relative to somebody else's "DIS-advantage": hence our planet full of "disadvantaged" working people.
OldTrombone -> rg12345 , 15 Oct 2017 11:50
No, I think the Democrats are the ones most successful at diverting the people from their own power in favor of the banks. The Republicans are far less successful by their own control, instead benefitting only from luck such as Wasserman-Schultz denying Elizabeth Warren from her rightful place in the Oval Office. Sanders was the consolation candidate for Warren voters. Warren would have beaten Trump 50-nil.
MTorrespico -> Nash25 , 15 Oct 2017 11:50
Correct. Two equal evils from the same nest-egg, a political party with two right-wings. At the least, the public know why the First Nazi of Great America has an aura of flies.
name1 -> Skip Breitmeyer , 15 Oct 2017 11:46
Divisions or hijacking? I suspect the latter.
PeterlooSunset , 15 Oct 2017 11:39

a colleague of mine asked if America was really at risk of becoming an oligarchy. Our political system, he said, is a democracy. If the people don't want to be run by wealthy elites, we can just vote them out.

Thanks for the cracking joke. That was hilariously funny.

teamofrivals , 15 Oct 2017 11:38
There's a term on everything and a rhythm to all things and its an impertinence to think that any political system lasts forever for our security.
brianBT , 15 Oct 2017 11:34
full and transparent disclosure of all finical and gift transactions between elected official and anyone not in govt.. this include "payments" to family, friends their charities.. etc.. if you cant see the lie no one fight to have the laws and rules changed... additionally lobbyist must no longer be allowed to have the type of closed door access to our leaders.. all these conversations must be moderated or flat out banned and a new form of communication is developed.... put it this way I have never been able to get a meeting with my leading politician yet big business can at almost any time.. I'm glad this issues is being more openly discussed.. we need more of the same
ID3924525 -> ID3924525 , 15 Oct 2017 11:32
Karl Marx, in The Communist Manifesto , indentified this in his concept, "False Consciousness", and Orwell, taking Stalinism to exemplify it, points to the same in Animal Farm , though I bet they weren't the first, and hope they won't be the last.
OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:31
Machiavelli was right, when you need political favors to get to the top, then you will always owe the favor-givers when you get there. Machiavelli also said this:

Sortition works!

When the most powerful person has literally zero interest in the outcome, they will defer to moral utilitarianism every time. Ask Canada's John Ralton Saul "The Unconcious Civilization" and Australia's Ricky Muir from the Motoring Enthusiasts Party [seriously] who scuppered Aussie right-wingers from bringing US-style education-loans to rent-seek our economy to death.

laerteg , 15 Oct 2017 11:29
The problem is that today's so-called "populists" have been so propagandized into despising the liberalism that could fight the oligarchs, and buying into the very policies and philosophies that allow the oligarchs to consolidate their power (endless tax cuts, undermined government, deregulation, big money in politics, destruction of unions, etc, etc.) that they play right into their hands.

They've mistaken a demagogue for a man of the people and continue to cheer on the dismantling of the checks on oligarchy that our system provides.

This country is in a world of hurt and those who should be exercizing their democratic power to diminish the power of the oligarchs are busy dismantling it, thanks to decades of right wing media propaganda.

All I see is more oligarchy, more autoctacy, and less power to the people. We just keep sticking it to ourselves.

Elgrecoandros -> jessthecrip , 15 Oct 2017 11:28
I literally copy pasted the comments in order, how have I twisted anything?

The person complained about some reaction to Rees-Mogg for having different political views being over the top and you promptly justified their claim.

OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:25
Capitalist oligarchies = bad, right?

So... communism, then, right?

It's time for SORTITION

When anyone could instantly become president, then everyone has to be educated as much as possible. Right? Hey classical policy scholars, sortition worked in Ancient Greece too! As well as everywhere else ever since. Ever heard of court juries?

ID3924525 , 15 Oct 2017 11:22
Divide and rule - the oldest trick in the book, and incredibly easy, as long as people are kept ignorant by propaganda (currently known as The Media) and education.
rg12345 -> Rainborough , 15 Oct 2017 11:21
Many (most?) Of us do understand it, that's why we're opposed to Citizens United, whereas the Republicans are for it.
Nash25 , 15 Oct 2017 11:20
Hillary Clinton lost because the working class (correctly) perceived her to be a supporter of oligarchy in the USA. Her ties to Wall Street, corporate power, and the upper class were too obvious.

Yes, Trump fooled many voters into believing that he was populist, but their perception of Clinton was still accurate.

If the Democratic party leaders had chosen Sanders as their candidate, they would have won the election. But the "Democratic" party leaders (ironically) feared what he offered: real democracy.

jessthecrip -> Elgrecoandros , 15 Oct 2017 11:19
You are an expert twister and no mistake. I can only salute you
SoxMcCarthy -> TragicomedyBeholder , 15 Oct 2017 11:18
"The Bad Hayek emerged when he aimed to convert a wider public. Then, as often happens, he tended to overreach, and to suggest more than he had legitimately argued. The Road to Serfdom was a popular success but was not a good book. Leaving aside the irrelevant extremes, or even including them, it would be perverse to read the history, as of 1944 or as of now, as suggesting that the standard regulatory interventions in the economy have any inherent tendency to snowball into "serfdom." The correlations often run the other way. Sixty-five years later, Hayek's implicit prediction is a failure, rather like Marx's forecast of the coming "immiserization of the working class.""
fivefeetfour , 15 Oct 2017 11:18
Lenin has written that politics is a concentrated economy more than a century ago.
rg12345 -> OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:16
Do you think Democrats are the only ones trying to consolidate wealth and power? You must have missed the part about keeping people divided.
Lafcadio1944 , 15 Oct 2017 11:15
This of course is a simplified version and can't really touch on everything, however he glaringly leaves out the deliberate human suffering results from the oligarchy protecting its wealth and aggressively taking over ever more markets. Yes, of course, what today is called "alignment of interests" among the oligarchy is necessary but that alone is not enough they mus also be ruthless beyond that of others. Nothing stands in the way of profits nothing stands in the way of ever greater control. The oligarchy has decided that nature itself is just another obstacle profit making - there is no room for empathy in the world of the oligarchy poverty suffering from curable disease mutilation from bombs are acceptable external consequences to their obsessive accumulation of wealth.

The real reason the oligarchy wins is because they are willing to be ruthless in the extreme and society rewards ruthlessness and ridicules the empathetic.

Elgrecoandros -> jessthecrip , 15 Oct 2017 11:14
"Perhaps the OP was proposing prison for JRM for expressing a viewpoint..."

Nobody was proposing that, it was hyperbole from rjm2017.

Well it was hyperbole until your comment calling on punishment for those with different political views.

R Zwarich -> Kay Nixon , 15 Oct 2017 11:14
This may be true, they often seem so blinded by their raw greed that their powers of reason become dysfunctional. I don't think, however, that the stupid things they do to slake their greed means that they are stupid. When the chips are down, they are capable of bringing their considerable powers of reason to bear.

However stupid or smart they might be, we surely must realize that they have been at least smart enough to gain total ownership and control of all our mass media. They use this tool, the most powerful tool of social control that has ever existed, with consummate skill in pursuit of their agenda(s).

If you look at the overall content of our mass media, you can see an impressive level of 'mind' at work, 'behind the curtain'. This 'mind' is constantly manipulating our consciousness, using very highly sophisticated, highly skilled techniques.Their understanding of human psychology, and their ability to manipulate us using our most basic appetites and desires, is characterized by true genius, even ig that genius is diabolical in its designs.

'They' choose what movies get made. Which TV shows are produced. Which songs get airplay. Which social and political issues are sensationalized and which are buried.

Most of the citizens of our ostensible 'democracy' have been 'trained', just as any animals are trained to any behavior, to be 'consumers' rather than 'citizens'. We are well trained by an omnipresent mass media that assaults us constantly. In any direction that we turn our gaze, or our attention, 'they' are there, to direct our thoughts as they think serves their purposes.

I sure wouldn't sell these people's intelligence short. They may often do stupid things to serve their greed, but they did not acquire the power that they have through any lack of intelligence.

fragglerokk , 15 Oct 2017 11:13
what everyone seems to forget is that whilst ancient Greece was the cradle of democracy it was not only a slave state (whose slaves had no rights to vote) but that only an elite minority were eligible to vote themselves - power very much rested with the vested interests of the few.

I agree that societies are a reflection of the 'will' of the people these days, even if that will is ill informed, reactionary or, as seems to be the case, largely uninterested in voting. You get the governments you deserve and people in the West have become lazy, permanently distracted, often ignorant and usually in the grip of one addiction or another, thus allowing 'democracy' to be subverted. The media have had their role in this by allowing themselves to be manipulated and owned by vested interests, rarely reporting the truth and doing as they are told by various govt offices and departments. Uninformed people make poor decisions.

OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:13
What the Black Lives Matter movement is telling us is that the Oligarch's enforce their rules of 'law' precisely at the barrels of guns, and by the words of one man after one man, each with a uniform on and a camera off.
TheResult -> J.K. Stevens , 15 Oct 2017 11:13
National Anthems only make sense in context of International Games
Where 2 anthems are played out of respect for each other
Elgrecoandros -> Elgrecoandros , 15 Oct 2017 11:11
Further, you stated above that you were "...responding to a poster who called for imprisonment for those concerned", when in fact the quote shows they were complaining about people calling for imprisonment, not calling for it.

That shows you are twisting what was said, it is incredibly disingenuous of you.

Skip Breitmeyer -> sparkle5nov , 15 Oct 2017 11:09
It's the divisions of the left that allow Tory and Republican minority rule to prevail. In the US the divide is quite bitter between Hillary and Bernie wings of the Dems- at the moment I don't really see where reconciliation can emerge. And of course in Great Britain you actually have two major parties competing rather self-destructively for the available votes on the left. (As well as the mighty Greens...). Divided and conquered, indeed. And such a bloody cliche!
OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:06

Democracy is vulnerable to oligarchy because democrats focus so much on guaranteeing political equality that they overlook the indirect threat that emerges from economic inequality

And yet Marx doesn't rate a single mention in the entire article...

jessthecrip -> Elgrecoandros , 15 Oct 2017 11:06
No, even though you've quoted me you have misunderstood what was perfectly plain. I stated 'like everyone else who voted to cut even more from disabled people's benefits'. Perhaps the OP was proposing prison for JRM for expressing a viewpoint, but that was not and is not where I'm coming from.
OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:05

At its core, oligarchy involves concentrating economic power and using it for political purposes.

Here is the exact reason why the Democratic Party is lost now. The Clintons, Wasserman-Schultz, and their new Goldman Sachs alumni hero in New Jersey, and now Kamala Harris seeking the same money from the same bankers.

And who did Hillary blame? Bernie, of course.

PSmd -> Dark Angel , 15 Oct 2017 11:02
It's sort of worked against the right though. Take a look at the last election. Yes, the Tories got most votes, but they've pretty much lost all ethnic minorities, including asian professionals, hindus and sikhs. Why is this, especially when Labour moved to left and are now more socialist than left liberal?

Purely because the right has been subsumed by angry grievance mentality, or aggreived entitlement. The internet is awash by people who hate assertive blacks and asians, Dianne Abbott received half of all abuse of female MPs. And so.. the Labour pick up votes that Tories had gained under Cameron. If you are a prosperous hindu dentist or stockbroker, sure you might have shrugged off your parents labour voting tendencies and might be Tory. But also, you might be seeing this sort of stuff, the bile on the internet, the resentment expressed behind internet anonymity. And you might be thinking that deep down underneath that expensive suit of yours, you are your father and mother, a tentative, slightly frightened, cheaply dressed immigrant who has arrived as an outsider and are visibly aware that half the population likes you, but the other half doesn't.
And so you vote Labour.

Divisiveness actually divides the core group you are aiming to win. If you do white chauvinism, well, you end up unite everyone who is not white. Black, brown, yellow, all huddle together scared, back under the labour fold. And you end up dividing the whites into the patriotic and the 'self hating libtard'.

Elgrecoandros -> jessthecrip , 15 Oct 2017 11:01
The sequence of comments was...

Rjm2017

"Just read the language of many in here...apparent JRM should be banished and locked away. You don't need to look to far to find odeous beliefs."

Your reply to that:

"Not locked away. Prison is expensive for the taxpayer. Assets sequestered for the good of the commons and put to work cleaning - streets, hospitals, care homes - on workfare. Like everyone else who voted to cut even more from disabled people's benefits, causing what the UN has described as a 'catastrophe' for disabled people in this country"

My reply to you:

"You are advocating confiscation of private property and forced physical labour for people who hold different political views to you. Is Stalin a hero of yours?"


Yours is a call to punish people for holding different political views to you.

Yours is an extremist position and, like all extremists, you think it is justified.

barciad -> FrankLittle , 15 Oct 2017 10:57

e.g. Park Chung-hee sent thousands of homeless people to camps where they were used as slave labour, many were were tortured and executed.


Like I said, benignish. He took a third world basket case (which is what South Korea was up until his seizure of power) and set it on the way to becoming a first world economy.
Skip Breitmeyer -> BayardDC , 15 Oct 2017 10:56
One of the most interesting mini-discourses I've read anywhere. I would only add that the 'mob' currently in charge of the polity of the House is actually a minority that has gamed the system.
AladdinStardust -> Gunsarecivilrights , 15 Oct 2017 10:56
which is exactly what the author did when her ill health meant that she no longer had medical insurance. Ain't life a bitch?
OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 10:55

They also tried to keep ordinary people dependent on individual oligarchs for their economic survival, similar to how mob bosses in the movies have paternalistic relationships in their neighborhoods

Like Wine-stine? (Wine-stain?)

Rainborough , 15 Oct 2017 10:55
"Democracy is vulnerable to oligarchy because democrats focus so much on guaranteeing political equality that they overlook the indirect threat that emerges from economic inequality."

No democrat with two working brain cells to rub together could honestly suppose that great concentrations of wealth, which necessarily confer political power on the wealthy class, can fail to undermine democracy. A capitalist democracy is an oxymoron and a delusion.

ChesBay -> maddiemot , 15 Oct 2017 10:52
They admire the rich, and the lifestyles of the rich, although it is out of their reach.
They do not admire the wise, and the experienced.
They don't know who are their state and federal representatives.
They don't know the reason for the Civil War.
They don't know much about our history, our constitution, or anything about civics.
They don't know much about world history.
They don't read much, and are suspicious of education, and the properly educated.
They are easy marks for lies, and negative influence, because they never question.
They refuse to address, or even admit, their own irrational prejudices.
They don't vote, but they do plenty of complaining, and like to blame others for the problems of our nation.
AveAtqueCave , 15 Oct 2017 10:51
Good luck with that.
FrankLittle -> barciad , 15 Oct 2017 10:45
I do not think that benign or even benign(ish) suits the majority of the above e.g. Park Chung-hee sent thousands of homeless people to camps where they were used as slave labour, many were were tortured and executed.

Not sure how Carl Mannerheim gets to be on your list? He was appointed Military chief during the Finnish civil war and he was elected President of Finland

DammedOutraged , 15 Oct 2017 10:44
Oh you mean a bit like all those plebs going out and voting to wreck the EU oligarchy's vision as to whats best?
vastariner , 15 Oct 2017 10:44

At the same time, they sought to destroy monuments that were symbols of democratic success. Instead of public works projects, dedicated in the name of the people, they relied on what we can think of as philanthropy to sustain their power.


That was more because there was no income tax regime - something difficult to impose when there was no centralized collection from a single consistent professional government. So if the Athenian navy wanted a ship, it got a rich chap to pay for it. Rather than out of general taxation.

Athens got rich on levies it imposed on its allies by way of protection money, which eventually collapsed in acrimony, but that's a different story.

StephenR45 -> TheWindsOfWinter93 , 15 Oct 2017 10:43
You'll be first "over the top" then?
Alfandomega -> timiengels , 15 Oct 2017 10:41
Owen Jones ? ......a man of high minded principle and unblemished
virtue . Don't think he would object to a spot of terror........in defence
of his liberal principles , of course..
somebody_stopme , 15 Oct 2017 10:41
I guess we are seeing some of oligarchy break down. Many oligarchs support many socialist policies to avoid tension between classes. For eg: many rich support universal basic income and some even support single payer healthcare.
imperium3 -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 10:41

You make a good point but in my wide but less than comprehensive knowledge of rapid development often occurrs in periods of oligarchy.

All those mills that drove the industrial revolution, created by oligarchy.

All those armies and aqueducts that drove the Roman Empire, created by oligarchy.

All those libraries and universities that drove Greek learning, funded by the oligarchy.

The great library of Alexandria, oligarchy.

OK, I'll concede that. Which makes for an interesting perspective on things overall, actually. One can see the advantage of an oligarchy - wealth and power is concentrated in few enough hands to achieve great things, but not so few that, like in a monarchy or dictatorship, the leader must spend most time and effort on keeping their power. Whereas a more equal democracy lacks the capacity to make bold steps or drive through unpopular new ideas. But this also means the oligarchs have the power to grind down those underneath them, and therefore in order to enjoy the fruits of that development, the oligarchy needs to be destroyed.

In other words, oligarchies deliver growth, democracies deliver prosperity. I would certainly not like to live under an oligarchy (assuming I'm not an oligarch) but it would be beneficial for a country to have had one in the past.

Kay Nixon , 15 Oct 2017 10:40
I have come to the conclusion that the oligarchy which rules the world are complete imbeciles who haven't a clue that the whole Neoliberal system they built in the 1970's is collapsing and they are clueless on how to handle it. Just because they are wealthy and greedy doesn't mean they are intelligent.
J.K. Stevens -> TheResult , 15 Oct 2017 10:40
In order to prevent the protests from going out over the airwaves Fox (sports) in all their 'logic' started excluding broadcast of the Anthem. Early on I said I would not watch any of these sporting events with, as you say, these jingoistic displays going out and Fox has obliged me but I wont say thanks.
desertrat49 -> BayardDC , 15 Oct 2017 10:39
Yes....Nothing in current affairs would surprise the ancient political philosophers who were students of real human nature ...and real history!
yule620 , 15 Oct 2017 10:37
Understanding Greece is not something you associate comfort with.
desertrat49 -> DrPepperIsNotARealDr , 15 Oct 2017 10:36
It serves as a relieve valve...just as it did in Ancient Greece and Rome.
Obfusgator , 15 Oct 2017 10:36
It's very simple really. The law system makes a complete mockery of democracy and the judiciary is comprised of a bunch of laissez-faire twits.
desertrat49 -> TheResult , 15 Oct 2017 10:35
The last recourse of scoundrels is patriotism!...always been thus because it always works...see H.L. Mencken et. al. !
Postconventional -> SenseiTim , 15 Oct 2017 10:34
Britain isn't different. Oligarchy is built into our system of governance, e.g. royals and house of lords. We even have special oligarch schools where children are sent to be educated for leadership
desertrat49 -> zootsuitbeatnick , 15 Oct 2017 10:33
You do not think the pomp and circumstance of Oligarchs, Monarchs and Military Dictators is without purpose or effect, do you?
StephenR45 -> DolyGarcia , 15 Oct 2017 10:32
Ban Keeping up with the Kardashians.
Gunsarecivilrights -> ID059068 , 15 Oct 2017 10:31
Or in other words, "I can't take care of myself, so I demand the government take money from others and give it to me!"
maddiemot , 15 Oct 2017 10:31
"An informed citizenry is at the heart of a dynamic democracy." - Thomas Jefferson

We have Americans who don't know when the Civil War was fought, or even who won, but insist we must stand for the national anthem before a ballgame.
So much for 'the Land of the Free'.

EquilibriaJones -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 10:31
Saying life can only get better if we are all collectively greedy together is not a logical argument. Ask the polar bears.
StephenR45 -> davshev , 15 Oct 2017 10:30
It didn't start with Trump.
Gunsarecivilrights -> DirDigIns , 15 Oct 2017 10:30
More people need to read Atlas Shrugged.
desertrat49 -> MarmaladeMog , 15 Oct 2017 10:30
All of the wishful thinking is hugely naive.....they have not been studying the lessons of history.
J.K. Stevens -> OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 10:29
And in the older grades, they prescribe (hand out) adderall, CSN stimulants, like chiclets to help student study (cram) and with comprehensive test taking.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/allen-frances/why-are-so-many-college-a_b_8331958.html

desertrat49 -> DolyGarcia , 15 Oct 2017 10:28
This is the rub.....and the mob does not value education while the rulers value propaganda. Notice the close association between Autocratic and Oligarchic systems and religion, historical mythology and hyper-patriotism!
EquilibriaJones -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 10:28
Or that's the evil of it. Economic inequality rises until people die. Like homeless on the streets, starving food banks, grenfell tower, waiting on hospital beds instead of famine and pitchfork wars.
The idea is to progress and solve problems before they escalate to pitchfork wars. Praising grotesque inequality is not part of the solution, it's the cause of the problems.
desertrat49 -> Crusty Crab , 15 Oct 2017 10:25
H. L. Mencken is a must read on this!
Alfandomega -> Peter Martin , 15 Oct 2017 10:24
Very remote possibility . I think you'll find their over inflated salaries
weigh more heavily in the balance than their " principles ".
SenseiTim , 15 Oct 2017 10:24
This article should be required reading for all Americans. I am posting a link to Twitter and Facebook to get as many Yank eyeballs on it as possible.
desertrat49 -> Langsdorff , 15 Oct 2017 10:24
What emerges from Plutocracy is Oligarchy...what emerges from Oligarchy is Autocracy. Autocracy is one form or another is the natural state of human society....all the others are ephemeral systems...or systems that disguise the actual Oligarchy or Autocracy!
davshev , 15 Oct 2017 10:23
The biggest contributor to America's plutocracy is our abysmally uninformed electorate.
HL Mencken knew this nearly a century ago when he said:
"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."
desertrat49 , 15 Oct 2017 10:20
Just exactly when was it that "democracy defeated oligarchy in ancient Greece"?
What proportion of the population in Ancient Athens, for example, were actually citizens...and what proportion of those actually held the franchise?...I believe that you would find the numbers surprising!
Also ...when these (and other) writers speaks of Ancient Greece.....it is usually Athens that they are mythologizing....most the Ancient Greek world had little by way of representative government...let alone "Democracy"!
jessthecrip -> Elgrecoandros , 15 Oct 2017 10:18
No I wasn't. I already responded to you regarding this. To remind you, I said

when people in positions of power take £28 billion (at least) off one of the most powerless and already impoverished groups in our country (disabled people), resulting in hundreds of suicides, enormous suffering, worsened isolation, serious lack of care support, and thousands dying soon after being found 'fit to work' (a situation the UN has described as a 'catastrophe') then I think it perfectly reasonable to favour some punishment for those politicians who inflicted such suffering on their fellow citizens

I was not suggesting punishment for 'thought crime' or for expressing views, but for actions seriously damaging to our citizens.
OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 10:17
I have worked in several of the American rich's schools where they charge $30k per kid, families have 3-5 kids there, plus they donate another $30k per kid per year. These schools shame their $50k/year teachers into donating hundreds and thousands per year to their own schools in order to prompt further donations from parents, who expect the poor teachers to prove their fidelity to these rich kids by giving their own money to them. I have seen these schools' principals fire teachers who teach "how to change things". I have seen them promote teachers who teach absolutely nothing, because then the rich kids enjoy insulting and demeaning those teachers' weaknesses. I have heard rich $chool principals tell Harvard psychology lecturers that grade inflation is a marketplace necessity. I have seen rich principals tell school inspectors that the curriculum presented for verification is supplied by a currently-employed teacher (who was awfully bad at teaching) when in fact it was written and prepared by a teacher who had just been fired "for methodology problems"...

American rich schools are the sickest schools on earth, even sicker than British boarders, even sicker than other countries' orphanages.

davshev -> ID50611L , 15 Oct 2017 10:15
Yes, but we now have the consummate...emphasis on "con"...bullshit artist in the White House whose first order of business has been to discredit the media whenever it exposes him for what he truly is. Trump has thousands of people believing that any media story about him which is negative is "fake."
Sailor25 -> JosephCamilleri , 15 Oct 2017 10:14
Yes they did and in all those political systems there where rich bastards at the top making the decisions.

They may have been bastards but on balance they actually made some pretty good decisions.

RutherfordFHEA , 15 Oct 2017 10:13
In his book Culture Inc. , Herbert Schiller quoted a recent study on neoliberal deregulation in the US which began with the question:

"Is deregulation... a strategy on the part of corporations to re-appropriate the power lost to democratic reforms of the mid-20th century?"

Sailor25 -> Dan2017 , 15 Oct 2017 10:13
So you are in favour of populism?

I consider populism an important part of the process as it creates a balance for oligarchy.

I would consider that the greedy big picture thinking of oligarchy drives growth while the greedy small picture thinking of the plebs (of which I am one) tries to get that growth more equally distributed.

ID50611L -> debt2zero , 15 Oct 2017 10:12
Spot on
MoonMoth -> Tenthred , 15 Oct 2017 10:10
It is perhaps unlikely that a radical Athenian democrat from ancient Greece would recognise any current form of government as genuinely democratic.

The cleverest way to maintain a long term oligarchy in these enlightened times might be to have an elective one, only dressed up as something like say a 'parliamentary democracy'. Luckily no-one has come up with this idea yet.

Dark Angel , 15 Oct 2017 10:10
Exactly that is going on now - we have 'workers' and 'benefit scroungers', British against 'immigrants' who exactly are not immigrants as having legal rights to live in the UK (EU citizens), 'deserving' poor and 'undeserving' poor.
Divide and rule.
Without knowing the past, it is impossible to understand the true meaning of the present and the goals of the future.
It's so annoying that is has been so easy to manipulate with our society - Tories and UKIP say 'hate!' and people do as if they are trained animals - hate people on benefits, EU citizens, immigrants, asylum seekers, a conflict between Brexiters/Remainers...
Sailor25 -> Swoll Man , 15 Oct 2017 10:09
Laughing at the fact that you chose to write an insult rather than engage in debate.
barciad -> FrankLittle , 15 Oct 2017 10:08
Benign(ish) dictators of the 20th Century:-
Tito (Yugoslavia)
Carl Mannerheim (Finland)
Kemal Ataturk (Turkey)
Fidel Castro (Cuba)
Nasser (Egypt)
Park Chung-hee (South Korea)
Like I said, benign(ish). Each one the subject for a debate within themselves.
Sailor25 -> Boghaunter , 15 Oct 2017 10:07
There is always winners and losers but the worst loser in modern British society had a better standard of living than a winner of a century ago.

The key to human development is driving sustainable progress not worrying about who losses out today.

Of course there must be balance because morally we must consider who loses our today. The question is how much do we hamstring the children of tomorrow to help the losers of today.

Langsdorff , 15 Oct 2017 10:06
To war on the Oligarchs is to war on our own nature.
whitman100 , 15 Oct 2017 10:03
The super rich conservative oligarchy, currently running the UK, get away with it because enough of the British people vote against their own economic interest.

Parents, for example, effectively vote for the food to be taken from their children's mouths, converted to cash and given in tax cuts to the super rich conservative elite so they can send their children to £30k a year private schools.

Political economy and political science should be compulsory in primary and secondary school so that the ripping-off of the British people is made obvious through education and ended through democratic revolution.

GKB507 -> Giftshop , 15 Oct 2017 10:02
.. it's scary though.. automation will eliminate the economic support line for many, while companies like Google have eyes and ears in every household.
JamesKeye -> webapalooza , 15 Oct 2017 10:02
Definition of democracy: "a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives." You are presenting an anti-Democratic party talking point, not an enlightened understanding of subtle political differences. Of course, the intention was a democracy in the USA, as compromised as it was and is. What we are not, and never have been, is an absolute direct democracy -- a form of governance appropriate only to small communities.
dcroteau -> Hibernica , 15 Oct 2017 10:01
Considering that "the people" are not that much more enlightened than they were in ancient Greece, yes it is the will of the people that allowed the US to become an oligarchy.

Considering the voting turnout around 56%, that means that 44% decided that they didn't care whether or not their leader would be a good or a bad one.

That's more than 1 in 3 people who couldn't care less about the outcome of the elections.

So political apathy is the will of the people.

KK47 , 15 Oct 2017 10:00
Oligarchs would fund the creation of a new building or the beautification of a public space.

When I read this I think: why am I reminded of the words 'gentrification' and 'privately-owned public spaces'?

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/sep/26/its-really-shocking-uk-cities-refusing-to-reveal-extent-of-pseudo-public-space

Excerpt from the above link:
the spread of pseudo-public space in London – large squares, parks and thoroughfares that appear to be public but are actually owned and controlled by developers and their private backers

And I'm also reminded of Attlee's great words about the attitudes of oligarchs in general:

http://www.azquotes.com/quote/688837

Excerpt from the above link:
Charity is a cold grey loveless thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim. - Attlee

J.K. Stevens -> Peter Martin , 15 Oct 2017 10:00
I know that it's just geography but it appears that the 'left coast (west coast) teams (players))' are taking a leadership role in this struggle. Unlike other professional sports systems, the NFL players are at a disadvantage in terms of career length and working conditions (eg, head injuries). I believe they're going to need some outside help (in whatever form) to be successful which doesn't give me hope. There are a bunch of chicken s____ outfits and power players out there at present that, as an example, allowed (contributed) the Executive Branch takeover by a Russian backed interloper.
ID50611L -> Giftshop , 15 Oct 2017 09:58
agree 100%
Sailor25 -> imperium3 , 15 Oct 2017 09:58
You make a good point but in my wide but less than comprehensive knowledge of rapid development often occurrs in periods of oligarchy.

All those mills that drove the industrial revolution, created by oligarchy.

All those armies and aqueducts that drove the Roman Empire, created by oligarchy.

All those libraries and universities that drove Greek learning, funded by the oligarchy.

The great library of Alexandria, oligarchy.

I recognise that it takes a plebeian revolt now and again to get the wealth shared out fairly but the engine that drives the wealth so it can be shared often seem to be oligarchy.

sparkle5nov -> FE Lang , 15 Oct 2017 09:58
Agree! I've been saying for years; cheap fast food, cheap ale and cheap television have replaced religion as the opiate of the people.
ID50611L -> zootsuitbeatnick , 15 Oct 2017 09:57
Trump is using the toolbox created by the Bush & Obama administrations.
Crusty Crab , 15 Oct 2017 09:57
A free educated and honest press may be the answer to a true democracy ?
DolyGarcia -> Hector Hajnal , 15 Oct 2017 09:55
And how do you keep the people informed and educated when the oligarchs control the media?
ID50611L , 15 Oct 2017 09:54
how is it, then, that the wealthy control so much of government? ...consequence of a lap dog media who lick the ass rather than expose and speak the truth to power elites.
TheResult -> J.K. Stevens , 15 Oct 2017 09:53
Now is the right time to ban the National Anthem

Brainwashing jingoist nonsense is a bandwagon platform for wet farts

W.a. Thomaston , 15 Oct 2017 09:50
The captured author/minions have obviously not had full access to the reading room
*And the secret writings of
Part of a small cache of loose leaf scrolls smuggled out of Alexandria before the fire
Last entrusted to a small elite 13th century band of chainsaw wielding warrior...
Comedy writing nuns
Hector Hajnal , 15 Oct 2017 09:49
Is about education, oligarchy wins to ignorant people. In order to have a healthy democracy the people must be informed and educated other wise oligarchies groups will inundate everything with cheap adds, will manipulate and will win control, methinks
Id1649 -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 09:45
And all brought down when the elites forgot that they were only the top of a pyramid and that they ultimately relied on those below. We at the foot of the monolith can see that the oligarchs serve only themselves so no longer buy into their project. We see that it is one big club and we - unlike our political masters - ain't in it. So empires fall.
MarmaladeMog , 15 Oct 2017 09:45
Sitaraman's colleague sounds worryingly naive.
Sailor25 -> EquilibriaJones , 15 Oct 2017 09:44
True, perhaps that's the beauty of it.

The senators have to supply the bread and circuses the plebs want or out come the pitchforks.

webapalooza , 15 Oct 2017 09:44
The author demonstrates his ignorance of the American system of government. He uses the word "democracy" no less than 8 times, yet American is not a democracy and never has been a democracy. You will find no form of the word "democracy" in any of the founding documents. The Founding Fathers knew very well the dangers of democracies, and so they created the American government as a constitutional republic. Not once does the author mention that; I doubt he even knows what it means, let alone the difference.
NoBets -> imipak , 15 Oct 2017 09:43
If you're complaining because prices are (inevitably) regressive on the "poor" (however defined), what do you say to the obvious retort that this is indeed the main difference between being "poor", being comfortable, being affluent and being rich?

What is the point of working and earning if it isn't aimed at making oneself less "poor" or more affluent?

FrankieOwen -> TheResult , 15 Oct 2017 09:38
Dunno, doesnt appear that they do in the rough parts of Chicago.
furryandrew -> Commem , 15 Oct 2017 09:38
Or as Mayer Amschel Rothschild correctly summed up the situation in 1790 - "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws"

What this article fails to draw our attention to , and they never do, is that private banks CREATE 97% of our entire money supply (look up "fractional reserve banking"). Whilst that remains the case the "oligarchy" will always have firm control over the rest of us.

Peter Martin -> J.K. Stevens , 15 Oct 2017 09:36
Wonder what would happen if all players took a knee, if they all stood together then the owners would start to fret.
nhickman -> TheWindsOfWinter93 , 15 Oct 2017 09:32
There was a time when the deadliest military weapon was the longbow. It could only be handled by men who had been trained up since infancy.
It enabled the English to rout a numerically superior French force at Agincourt, 1415.
The notion that the early 15th century was a period of democratic government is an interesting reading of history.
zootsuitbeatnick , 15 Oct 2017 09:32
imo
In the US today, the oligarchy cannot win without an assist from a significant segment -- not necessarily a majority -- of the overall population.
9/11 taught us that many people are willing to give up freedoms for the myth of security.
The Trump presidency is teaching us that many people are willing to give up their voice -- democracy -- for the myth of returning to a perceived better way of life (group superiority over racial, gender, religious, etc equality) from some bygone era.
imo
Newmacfan , 15 Oct 2017 09:30
We are currently experiencing a destabalisation of our nation and fellow Western Nations by the dominant Western Nation to try to halt the failure of this vastly endebted bigger brother......how do we stop this?
J.K. Stevens , 15 Oct 2017 09:28
On this NFL Sunday it is not hard to imagine the secret meetings that owners and/or their representatives had to coalesce against Kaepernick's 'taking a knee' to stop this form of protest in its tracks as a oligarchical institution. On Tuesday, when Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones declared that any player taking a knee would not play today, the circle of the objective to chill dissent was complete.

And the plutocratic beat goes on.

TheLibrarianApe -> imperium3 , 15 Oct 2017 09:27
Top post.
DrPepperIsNotARealDr , 15 Oct 2017 09:26
Democracy was always like this. What is that famous quote, by Earl Grey or Sandwich or someone, in Parliament, about allowing peasants to have the vote? "I do this, not to weaken our power, but to preserve it"

Democracy in the UK and the US has always been a forum for the oligarchy to resolve their own disputes rather than rule for the people by the people. Brexit is an example, a referendum held essentially because of the split in conservative party.

FE Lang -> zippy200 , 15 Oct 2017 09:25
And conservatives are going to save us all from done minded feel good policies of the left, is that it?
Since the 80's American politics had swing do far to the right liberals are capitalists monied elites, but the right had an army of simple minded uneducated lemmings on thier side, people that will be against thier own personal interests because of 12th century religious horse spit or group think. Thier are more Right winners in State houses, leadership positions then ever before, they control the Congress, the courts, the Presidency and yet dolts like you still say the country is going in the wrong directions and listen to son misters tell you its the fault of the left. Somewhere in your reptilian brain you know this makes no sense, but you lack of depth, you inability to comprehend what you read or to shake free from the group think or right wing ideology will never let you understand that the bet people you vote in time after time are the very ones whom have sold your job to the Chinese, profited from your child's illnesses, war, chaos in some far off land.
Keeping voting Republicans, it's working out so well for you tailer, Nascar types...
BayardDC , 15 Oct 2017 09:21
The article obfuscates a distinction laid out by Aristotle, in The Politics: aristocracy - rule by the few, focused on the common good; and oligarchy - rule by the few (wealthy), focused on their selfish good. He argues that aristocracy, rule by the best, inevitably turns into oligarchy, rule by the wealthy. In Aristotle's three forms of government - rule by one, by few, by many - the three legitimate forms (monarchy, aristocracy, polity) degenerate into their evils twins (tyranny, oligarchy, democracy). For Aristotle, Democracy was not a legitimate form of government, but a corrupted form: mob rule, we might call it. The US Constitution deliberately set out to create a mixed form of government: monarchy (president); aristocracy (Senate and Supreme Court); polity (House of Reps.). From the beginning, Americans have focused on the potential for our "monarch" (president) to turn into a tyrant: Trump is the poster child for a single executive ruling on his own, selfish behalf. We have been less aware of the fact that the Senate has become a simple oligarchy, while the House has degenerated into a bastion of deputies chosen by what Aristotle would have called democracy, that is, a corrupted form of rule by the many. Aristotle's citizens - those who rule and are ruled in turn - can constitute about 10% of the population; in today's US that would mean 20+ million people actively and continuously involved in politics (i.e., not simply showing up every four years to mark a ballot). Millions of Americans have long done such things, and political life remains active at the local level in many areas. On the national level, the Tea Party has shown how this level of enhanced involvement can transform politics, and has further shown that a coherent, organized minority can demolish what we think of as democratic norms. They are about to elect a Senator in Alabama who has twice been removed as a judge on the state's Supreme Court (an elective body), for violations of judicial norms. Here in the US, all three forms of our original government - monarchy, aristocracy, polity - have degenerated into their evil twins. Yes, the wealthy 1% will always game the system in their favor, but until we restore each of the parts of our forma mixta, we can never reduce their advantages to a level consonant with a decent form of society. Under W Bush, the oligarchs got the tax rates (above all on capital gains) reduced to their 1929 levels. That legislation had a time limit, and Obama chose not to continue it: indeed, he raised capital gains rates a further 3.8% [making the rate 23.8% as against the 15% of Bush]. Now, the two greatest goals of the oligarchs are a return to the 15% rate and the abolition of the estate tax, so all of the fantastically rich Baby Boomers (say, Sec'y of Commerce Ross, net worth $2.5 billion) can leave their wealth unencumbered to their heirs, solidifying the oligarchy's control. The Tea Party, through all the yahoos now in the House, can focus on creationism, climate change denial, immigration, etc., while the oligarchs quietly change the tax system to perpetuate their dominance. Over here, we are already in fiscal year 2018 (started on Oct 1), so tax changes would really go into effect in 2019, that is, after the mid-term election. If Mnuchen and Co. get their changes to capital gains rates and other technical loopholes aimed at the 0.1% [sic], and eliminate the estate tax, we'll know that the oligarchs have eliminated any barriers to their collective dictatorship.
TheLibrarianApe -> Commem , 15 Oct 2017 09:20
This is a blindingly excellent article.

What's new is, like this article, we have the vocabulary to frame both the problem and the solution. Oligarchy is no longer inevitable and whilst the means of control are greater, the means for derogation are too and there are fewer oligarchs than plebs.

Its now easier to spot bad behaviour and harder to keep secrets. Oligarchs have to use force more often to hold into power and that tips their hand.

This article has left me (an avowed pessimist) feeling rather more optimistic.

BlueberryMuffin -> zippy200 , 15 Oct 2017 09:17
Liberalism is about freedom. Personal and economic. Not about "proletariat solidarity" and totalitarian Marxist regimes.
FE Lang -> GusDynamite , 15 Oct 2017 09:15
They learned their lessons well after the 60's, the last time the people really raised up against the machine, so they have given us all the; junk food at a low cost, all the TV and mindless sexually charged entertainment, all the "debt wealth", a simple minded, unread, semi-literate, beer swilling fool could ever ask for. And we all gladly gobble it up and follow the crowd, for who wants to be on the outside looking in...
Giftshop , 15 Oct 2017 09:12
There is always a ruling elite because power is the wellspring of all human actions. There is also a certain moral consciousness that many people argue is innate in human nature, and that consciousness is fairness. The fairness instinct survives where ordinary human sympathy may fail. Based upon this basic morality of fairness those of us who are willing to take risks in the interest of fairness need to prune and tend the ruling elites as soon as possible. We proles need to act together.

Democracy is not enough and besides democracy we also need reason, facts,and fighting spirit.

W.a. Thomaston -> awilson5280 , 15 Oct 2017 09:09
As the inventor of the "hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica" once said: " you have a Republic if you can keep it"
amwink -> awilson5280 , 15 Oct 2017 09:06
Sparta was more than just militarism, and slavery was also practised in Athens, as well as in Rome and quite much everywhere else in the ancient world.

Sparta did something that today's democracies have forgotten: it cared about protection of its citizens. That's the most elementary reason why a State exists, not to provide health or education.

Now, regarding a replacement, epistocracy has yet to be tried. And the same democracy, but with census suffrage, or via election of electors, who in turn elect the ones who will hold office, have worked quite well in many places, producing better politicians, less inclined to populism (take the Venetian Republic, for example).

logos00 -> apacheman , 15 Oct 2017 09:05

Waiting for the oligarchy to rot from within isn't what i would call a viable plan. Not when there is a far better and far more sure way to get the job done. Start with capping wealth accumulation.

One must have already broken, or at least sufficiently loosened, the oligarchic grip on politics to institute such a policy.

Here in the UK, things are the darkest they have been in my lifetime, including the Thatcher years, but we are in a moment of possibilities that can lead in opposite directions.

The author is surely right when he says

With all the upheaval in today's politics, it's hard not to think that this moment is one in which the future of the political system might be more up for grabs than it has been in generations.

Dominance of oligarchic political power, through neoliberalism, over the last four decades has effectively put such policies out of bounds.

We had a Labour government that won convincingly under Blair while declaring itself relaxed about the accumulation of great wealth.

richard160458 -> MattSpanner , 15 Oct 2017 09:05
And democracy failed after generations of poor decisions and war
richard160458 , 15 Oct 2017 09:02
Greece had a long period of decline at the hands of democracy. Plato wrote his Republic as a protest, and to put forward an alternative. Eventually the romans took control.

There are indeed parallels with today but given the external challenges I for one believe that western society will be overtaken by q new set of rules.

debt2zero , 15 Oct 2017 09:01
Very good, interesting article. You know, every now & then this paper, for all it's faults, serves up an article that is quite enlightened/ing.

The last one I recall was an article by Kenan Malik on identity politics . For what exists in this country, the UK, I have previously used the term "oligarchy by profession" ... meaning a pool of the usually upper half of the middle class, or a group in whom that group is disproportionally represented, who not only likely have a select education but who go on to become part of certain professions - accountants, lawyers, journalists, bankers, doctors etc. ... and of course, politicians tend to be drawn from these.

And revolving door arrangements is one of the ways this pool retains a certain cohesion, or as in the article "homogeneity in culture and values".

As for division, how many times have I read, "oh, we are so divided .. blah, blah", as though some journalists have an almost unconscious need to promote it.

Interesting article.

GusDynamite , 15 Oct 2017 09:00
Bit too late, really. Not to mention it's super easy to take what they want while we're all so distracted by arguing about who is the most racist misogynist, defending ourselves from the accusations or applauding comic book movies. Apparently we're so distracted that we're also all genuinely shocked that Hollywood is rife with pedophilia and extreme sexual harassment as though it's some revelation that we didn't know already, but that's another conversation.

If we're all so distracted then it's not difficult for our political 'representatives' -- I use that word very tentatively because they barely ever do -- to subject themselves to the oligarchs for a few scraps more than we have ourselves.

Maybe if we didn't bicker like kids we'd beat them.

PhilJoMar -> ConBrio , 15 Oct 2017 08:53
Either you've not read the article attentively enough or your bias is irremediable. Limiting govt still leaves economic power and the tendency towards monopoly untouched. The genetic impulse you mention is a spurious concept in itself. If there were such a genetic impulse we would not have seen such a change as the major advances of women in the last half century. Culture is the key, much more than any genetic impulse, which is practically meaningless and so explains nothing.

As wealth defense is so important to oligarchs, there is a constant pressure to cheat and break the law. One solution therefore is to apply the law but also to construct legislation with specific principles in mind. If the point of tax legislation is to contribute your share towards the general good then those who avoid and evade tax would be guilty of a technical breach but also a breach of the principle.

However our laws are skewed to allowing the wealthy to defend their wealth and so a party of the people is always needed. Always.

Lastly private schooling needs to be looked at. I mean FFS Eton has charitable status!

[Oct 16, 2017] The Guardian by Ganesh Sitaraman

Those who have economic power also have political power. Is this sop difficult to understand.
Notable quotes:
"... The system, in other words, can't really be "rigged" to work for the rich and powerful unless the people are at least willing to accept a government of the rich and powerful. If the general public opposes rule-by-economic-elites, how is it, then, that the wealthy control so much of government? ..."
"... To prevent this occurrence, ancient Greek elites developed institutions and practices to keep themselves united. Among other things, they passed sumptuary laws, preventing extravagant displays of their wealth that might spark jealously, and they used the secret ballot and consensus building practices to ensure that decisions didn't lead to greater conflict within their cadre. ..."
"... While the ruling class must remain united for an oligarchy to remain in power, the people must also be divided so they cannot overthrow their oppressors. Oligarchs in ancient Greece thus used a combination of coercion and co-optation to keep democracy at bay. They gave rewards to informants and found pliable citizens to take positions in the government. ..."
"... These collaborators legitimized the regime and gave oligarchs beachheads into the people. In addition, oligarchs controlled public spaces and livelihoods to prevent the people from organizing. They would expel people from town squares: a diffuse population in the countryside would be unable to protest and overthrow government as effectively as a concentrated group in the city. ..."
"... They also tried to keep ordinary people dependent on individual oligarchs for their economic survival, similar to how mob bosses in the movies have paternalistic relationships in their neighborhoods. Reading Simonton's account, it is hard not to think about how the fragmentation of our media platforms is a modern instantiation of dividing the public sphere, or how employees and workers are sometimes chilled from speaking out. ..."
"... Oligarchs would fund the creation of a new building or the beautification of a public space. The result: the people would appreciate elite spending on those projects and the upper class would get their names memorialized for all time. After all, who could be against oligarchs who show such generosity? ..."
"... To understand that, we can turn to an instant classic from a few years ago, Jeffrey Winters' Oligarchy. Winters argues that the key to oligarchy is that a set of elites have enough material resources to spend on securing their status and interests. He calls this "wealth defense," and divides it into two categories. "Property defense" involves protecting existing property – in the old days, this meant building castles and walls, today it involves the rule of law. "Income defense" is about protecting earnings; these days, that means advocating for low taxes. ..."
"... The challenge in seeing how oligarchy works, Winters says, is that we don't normally think about the realms of politics and economics as fused together. At its core, oligarchy involves concentrating economic power and using it for political purposes. Democracy is vulnerable to oligarchy because democrats focus so much on guaranteeing political equality that they overlook the indirect threat that emerges from economic inequality. ..."
"... Winters argues that there are four kinds of oligarchies, each of which pursues wealth defense through different institutions. These oligarchies are categorized based on whether the oligarchs rule is personal or collective, and whether the oligarchs use coercion. ..."
"... Simonton offers another solution. He argues that democracy defeated oligarchy in ancient Greece because of "oligarchic breakdown." Oligarchic institutions are subject to rot and collapse, as are any other kind of institution. As the oligarchs' solidarity and practices start to break down, there is an opportunity for democracy to bring government back to the people. ..."
"... Even with compulsory voting Australia still funnels votes to those we don't want to elect in the form of transferable 1st pass the post single member electorates. True democracy would grant proportional representation, and allow citizen initiated binding referenda. ..."
"... By these measures you could say America has been an oligarchy from its very conception. Look at the robber-barons of the 19th c. There are occasional "raisings of the veil" such as new deal or great society when the general public gets a fair go. The industrial boom of ww2 is what gave the working class a shot at living a decent life - and of course offshoring industry is precisely closing that door again. ..."
"... Tens of millions of Americans waited patiently for a Dem candidate to talk about our stacked decks, D.C. swamps, and broken systems -- instead, they gave us a Hillary coronation and expected us to embrace the pantsuit. ..."
"... After university econ training, and a long business career, I now consider education a terrible thing. Knowing what I know now about how our systems really work, when I observe our Congressional leaders looking into the camera with point-blank lies day in and day out, I feel they deserve execution; literally, I am feeling like heads should roll. ..."
"... In America, oligarchs win when Dems are center right (in practice, not rhetoric) and are sold out to the oligarchs. Case in point, HC. There is no counterbalance to those who are even further to the right. Oligarchs win without a legit 3rd party. ..."
"... Obama and the Dems lost 1,000 elected positions before Trump came along. It's because he sold out to the big banks. ..."
"... Small D Democrats. Not big D Democrats. The Clintons are clearly in the oligarch class, much like Trump. It is rather hilarious to hear Trump supporters talk about how he cares for the poor. ..."
"... Oligarchic institutions are subject to rot and collapse, as are any other kind of institution. As the oligarchs' solidarity and practices start to break down, there is an opportunity for democracy to bring government back to the people. In that moment, the people might unite for long enough that their protests lead to power. With all the upheaval in today's politics, it's hard not to think that this moment is one in which the future of the political system might be more up for grabs than it has been in generations. ..."
"... It never ceases to amaze me how Americans delude themselves into thinking that they live in a democracy. ..."
"... They don't come by it naturally. Their delusion is pushed along by very well oiled propaganda machines, probably mostly financed by the taxpayers themselves. ..."
"... Can't recommend Requiem For The American Dream highly enough, absolutely required viewing for anyone wishing to understand the mockery of democracy under which we live. ..."
Oct 15, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

A few years ago, as I was doing research for a book on how economic inequality threatens democracy, a colleague of mine asked if America was really at risk of becoming an oligarchy. Our political system, he said, is a democracy. If the people don't want to be run by wealthy elites, we can just vote them out.

The system, in other words, can't really be "rigged" to work for the rich and powerful unless the people are at least willing to accept a government of the rich and powerful. If the general public opposes rule-by-economic-elites, how is it, then, that the wealthy control so much of government?

The question was a good one, and while I had my own explanations, I didn't have a systematic answer. Luckily, two recent books do. Oligarchy works, in a word, because of institutions.

In his fascinating and insightful book Classical Greek Oligarchy, Matthew Simonton takes us back to the ancient world, where the term oligarchy was coined. One of the primary threats to oligarchy was that the oligarchs would become divided, and that one from their number would defect, take leadership of the people, and overthrow the oligarchy.

To prevent this occurrence, ancient Greek elites developed institutions and practices to keep themselves united. Among other things, they passed sumptuary laws, preventing extravagant displays of their wealth that might spark jealously, and they used the secret ballot and consensus building practices to ensure that decisions didn't lead to greater conflict within their cadre.

Appropriately for a scholar of the classics, Simonton focuses on these specific ancient practices in detail. But his key insight is that elites in power need solidarity if they are to stay in power. Unity might come from personal relationships, trust, voting practices, or – as is more likely in today's meritocratic era – homogeneity in culture and values from running in the same limited circles.

The ruling class must remain united for an oligarchy to remain in power

While the ruling class must remain united for an oligarchy to remain in power, the people must also be divided so they cannot overthrow their oppressors. Oligarchs in ancient Greece thus used a combination of coercion and co-optation to keep democracy at bay. They gave rewards to informants and found pliable citizens to take positions in the government.

These collaborators legitimized the regime and gave oligarchs beachheads into the people. In addition, oligarchs controlled public spaces and livelihoods to prevent the people from organizing. They would expel people from town squares: a diffuse population in the countryside would be unable to protest and overthrow government as effectively as a concentrated group in the city.

They also tried to keep ordinary people dependent on individual oligarchs for their economic survival, similar to how mob bosses in the movies have paternalistic relationships in their neighborhoods. Reading Simonton's account, it is hard not to think about how the fragmentation of our media platforms is a modern instantiation of dividing the public sphere, or how employees and workers are sometimes chilled from speaking out.

The most interesting discussion is how ancient oligarchs used information to preserve their regime. They combined secrecy in governance with selective messaging to targeted audiences, not unlike our modern spinmasters and communications consultants. They projected power through rituals and processions.

At the same time, they sought to destroy monuments that were symbols of democratic success. Instead of public works projects, dedicated in the name of the people, they relied on what we can think of as philanthropy to sustain their power. Oligarchs would fund the creation of a new building or the beautification of a public space. The result: the people would appreciate elite spending on those projects and the upper class would get their names memorialized for all time. After all, who could be against oligarchs who show such generosity?

An assistant professor of history at Arizona State University, Simonton draws heavily on insights from social science and applies them well to dissect ancient practices. But while he recognizes that ancient oligarchies were always drawn from the wealthy, a limitation of his work is that he focuses primarily on how oligarchs perpetuated their political power, not their economic power.

To understand that, we can turn to an instant classic from a few years ago, Jeffrey Winters' Oligarchy. Winters argues that the key to oligarchy is that a set of elites have enough material resources to spend on securing their status and interests. He calls this "wealth defense," and divides it into two categories. "Property defense" involves protecting existing property – in the old days, this meant building castles and walls, today it involves the rule of law. "Income defense" is about protecting earnings; these days, that means advocating for low taxes.

The challenge in seeing how oligarchy works, Winters says, is that we don't normally think about the realms of politics and economics as fused together. At its core, oligarchy involves concentrating economic power and using it for political purposes. Democracy is vulnerable to oligarchy because democrats focus so much on guaranteeing political equality that they overlook the indirect threat that emerges from economic inequality.

Winters argues that there are four kinds of oligarchies, each of which pursues wealth defense through different institutions. These oligarchies are categorized based on whether the oligarchs rule is personal or collective, and whether the oligarchs use coercion.

Warring oligarchies, like warlords, are personal and armed. Ruling oligarchies like the mafia are collective and armed. In the category of unarmed oligarchies, sultanistic oligarchies (like Suharto's Indonesia) are governed through personal connections. In civil oligarchies, governance is collective and enforced through laws, rather than by arms.

Democracy defeated oligarchy in ancient Greece because of 'oligarchic breakdown.'

With this typology behind him, Winters declares that America is already a civil oligarchy. To use the language of recent political campaigns, our oligarchs try to rig the system to defend their wealth. They focus on lowering taxes and on reducing regulations that protect workers and citizens from corporate wrongdoing.

They build a legal system that is skewed to work in their favor, so that their illegal behavior rarely gets punished. And they sustain all of this through a campaign finance and lobbying system that gives them undue influence over policy. In a civil oligarchy, these actions are sustained not at the barrel of the gun or by the word of one man, but through the rule of law.

If oligarchy works because its leaders institutionalize their power through law, media, and political rituals, what is to be done? How can democracy ever gain the upper hand? Winters notes that political power depends on economic power. This suggests that one solution is creating a more economically equal society.

The problem, of course, is that if the oligarchs are in charge, it isn't clear why they would pass policies that would reduce their wealth and make society more equal. As long as they can keep the people divided, they have little to fear from the occasional pitchfork or protest.

Indeed, some commentators have suggested that the economic equality of the late 20 th century was exceptional because two World Wars and a Great Depression largely wiped out the holdings of the extremely wealthy. On this story, there isn't much we can do without a major global catastrophe.

Simonton offers another solution. He argues that democracy defeated oligarchy in ancient Greece because of "oligarchic breakdown." Oligarchic institutions are subject to rot and collapse, as are any other kind of institution. As the oligarchs' solidarity and practices start to break down, there is an opportunity for democracy to bring government back to the people.

In that moment, the people might unite for long enough that their protests lead to power. With all the upheaval in today's politics, it's hard not to think that this moment is one in which the future of the political system might be more up for grabs than it has been in generations.

The question is whether democracy will emerge from oligarchic breakdown – or whether the oligarchs will just strengthen their grasp on the levers of government.

Ganesh Sitaraman is the author of The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution

curiouswes -> antdog , 16 Oct 2017 00:37

I think the USA is a republic and not a democracy. I also think the distinction isn't a subtle one. Many think we'd be better off as a democracy. I don't. In a democracy, the majority rules. That means when you are in the minority, you don't have a say. The electoral college prevents the larger states from squeezing out the smaller states. However some don't think that is necessarily a problem. Urban life is very different from rural life and we can't make all of the rules based on urban life.
hardmoney -> trundlesome1 , 16 Oct 2017 00:27
They're too busy being distracted with Bread and Circuses.
gregwani , 16 Oct 2017 00:24
Whilst the suggestion of "creating a more economically equal society" is obviously desirable, it's not exactly a practical recommendation against the context of the rest of the article.

Herein lies the key: "...they sustain all of this through a campaign finance and lobbying system that gives them undue influence over policy."

Possible solution? No vote; no donation.

Curtail corporate funding of political parties, Super PACs, Unions, etc. and have election campaigns financed from public funds ONLY. If you can't vote as an individual person/citizen, you can't contribute.

This would remove a big barrier to reform - lobbyists and political patronage - and ensure that elected leaders are unshackled, with the freedom to govern based on evidence-based policy and long-term planning rather than just rewarding the corporate elite who put them there.

BrunoForestier -> Hypatia415 , 16 Oct 2017 00:19
Even with compulsory voting Australia still funnels votes to those we don't want to elect in the form of transferable 1st pass the post single member electorates. True democracy would grant proportional representation, and allow citizen initiated binding referenda.
BrunoForestier -> FLanzy61 , 16 Oct 2017 00:12
White nationalism wasn't necessary when you were 90% of the population - it has only emerged with the mass immigration era, when socially engineered policies threaten to make you a minority in your own nation-state. (yes, I am aware that the indigenous population was here first and was disposessed - but America the nation state was clearly built predominantly on European settlement)

There used to be an effective form of identity politics - based on working class common interest - that brought a high standard of living to most people (even the oppressed Black minority). It is the splitting of that identity that has allowed the neoliberals to sideline class as a divider of common interest.

curiouswes -> nonsensefactory , 16 Oct 2017 00:07
regarding (1): not sure it is feasible and I don't think we should do it if it is. The market is a weird animal imho. Both the hedgers and the speculators can drive a market share price up or down and contrary to popular opinion, I don't believe the speculators are to blame when a company does well. A lot of people got financially devastated because they had holdings in Enron. I wouldn't want to punish those investors even further because they invested in a bad company.

regarding (2): I agree. The concept of globalism is a good concept. However the way it is being implemented isn't.

regarding (3): Again I agree. Most of the regular posters who agree with the media nonsense don't post on articles like this one because a paid troll sticks out like a sore thumb on articles like this.

BrunoForestier , 16 Oct 2017 00:00
By these measures you could say America has been an oligarchy from its very conception. Look at the robber-barons of the 19th c. There are occasional "raisings of the veil" such as new deal or great society when the general public gets a fair go. The industrial boom of ww2 is what gave the working class a shot at living a decent life - and of course offshoring industry is precisely closing that door again.
functor , 15 Oct 2017 23:56
I am not an expert on Greek history but wouldn't the example of Alcibiades suggest that when an oligarchy falls-- due to war and plague in the case of Athens -- dangerous demagogues who break away from the same oligarchy ride the "democratic" wave and cause even more misery like the idiotic invasion of Sicily? Weren't the democratic people-- the landless poor of Athens-- more inclined to war at that point than the oligarchs? In some sense aren't we seeing what happens when a member of the oligarchy breaks away in present day U.S-- Trump rode a populist wave that was very democratic and people powered-- and where has that got us? Sometimes true democracy can be a messy and frightening affair.

I offer no defense of oligarchies, but the older I get, the more I wonder whether democracy of the people, by the people, is really for ALL the people.

Take Brexit, Trump, or for a more remote example, the Fascist inspired Hindu right wingers in India. All of them are in many ways a truer representation of the voice of the people, but that voice is so ugly, so exclusionary, so narrow, that one might be forgiven to want the sedate stability of an oligarchy back.

Bewareofnazihippies -> ChesBay , 15 Oct 2017 23:55
I'm afraid I have to agree. When thinking on these issues, I have a recurring mental image, it's the crowd scene at Brian's window, in the greatest cinematic example of satire, Life of Brian.

Brian -"You are all individuals. You are all different! "

The crowd -"YES! WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUALS! WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT! "

Man -"I'm not"

The crowd -"Ssh! Ssh! "

antdog -> sejong , 15 Oct 2017 23:41
......ahhh, reclining in the facetious lounge; unfortunately, this amusement left us with a candidate ignoring the masses of the American population opening the door for Trump.

Tens of millions of Americans waited patiently for a Dem candidate to talk about our stacked decks, D.C. swamps, and broken systems -- instead, they gave us a Hillary coronation and expected us to embrace the pantsuit.

Meanwhile, tens of millions then voted for Trump, knowing point-blank he was lying; they happily voluntarily deceive themselves (current/active); how sad is this reality ?

mrkris -> TragicomedyBeholder , 15 Oct 2017 23:40
As someone already said, instead of treating poor people unequally well, why not treat rich people the same as everyone else- don't let them hide their money from the taxman, don't give the rich unfair breaks and handouts
curiouswes -> SoAmerican , 15 Oct 2017 23:40

Do you think that is going to inspire Americans to get out and vote?

When the choice for the most powerful office in the world comes down to a choice between Donald J Trump and Hillary R Clinton (who were friends before the election started), I tend to think that our problem is not due to voter apathy, but rather voter apathy is due to our problem.

Those who still participate, still think this is all about the left vs the right because they think they still have a choice. They do. they get to choose between neoliberalism and fascism.

Alex Cardosa -> koikoi , 15 Oct 2017 23:38
The way its always been done. At the end of a pike. The rest is just fantasy.
antdog -> boilingriver , 15 Oct 2017 23:31
After university econ training, and a long business career, I now consider education a terrible thing. Knowing what I know now about how our systems really work, when I observe our Congressional leaders looking into the camera with point-blank lies day in and day out, I feel they deserve execution; literally, I am feeling like heads should roll.

Our systems have been hijacked, and the interests of the masses of our populations are being completely ignored--what should be the penalty for selling out, via acute sophisticated engineering, the population of an entire nation ?

hardmoney -> boilingriver , 15 Oct 2017 23:30
"Start demanding some laws for them to follow that has some teeth when they lie to us."

Pretty difficult when the criminals are in charge of lawmaking.

hardmoney -> boilingriver , 15 Oct 2017 23:30
"Start demanding some laws for them to follow that has some teeth when they lie to us."

Pretty difficult when the criminals are in charge of lawmaking.

PGNEWC -> SoAmerican , 15 Oct 2017 23:30
I dont think its a belief in 2 parties but a belief in a type of fixed yin and yang that drives this

Opposites like Good v Evil , the Unknown Others (like Foreigners) v the known (your Family /Friends ) etc . We see things as Either/Or because it is the simplest way of making sense of our world. But the world is far more complex and nuanced than this and there are degrees of rightness and wrongness and we as you say take on board the whole rigid structure of one side or the other -- it plays right into the oligarchs hands

Bewareofnazihippies -> peter nelson , 15 Oct 2017 23:18
Your instant dismissal of zaarth's point of view is the essential problem of modern democracy - casual demeaning and disregarding attitude from the ruling elites towards an informed citizen expressing concerns of inequality and systemic concentration of political power to the oligarchs.

Typical.

There maybe no political will to address these issues, but there sure as hell is plenty of social will! As for your last sentence "- So redistributionist policies have no future. ", well, considering that we've had 40years of global wealth being redistributed to the 1%, it's about time it was spread around a bit more equitably, don't you think?

Be Gold , 15 Oct 2017 23:02
In America, oligarchs win when Dems are center right (in practice, not rhetoric) and are sold out to the oligarchs. Case in point, HC. There is no counterbalance to those who are even further to the right. Oligarchs win without a legit 3rd party.
koikoi , 15 Oct 2017 22:39
A article. A case in point - Iceland, where the elite owns the fishing fleet and controls the financial industry, whereas the majority of the population barely scrape by. People are furious but how do you overturn centuries of oligarch 'rule and law'?
vr13vr -> Dave514 , 15 Oct 2017 22:38
Disagree. "Why" is always a question. If you don't know and understand "why," the original intent of a law, you can't interpret and apply it properly. As a result, it gets perverted to the point that it does no longer make sense. We have plenty of examples in the US.

Without why you can't adapt to the changing environment either.

vr13vr -> Wolframite , 15 Oct 2017 22:35
But how successfully? And with how much resources, compared to various industrial and other deep pocket lobbies?
franklin100 -> kizbot , 15 Oct 2017 22:34
Yes, it's the same wherever people keep their mouth shut to keep their job. That's the corrosive effect of corruption.
hardmoney -> SoAmerican , 15 Oct 2017 22:31
Do you know how small the odds are to get a large group of people to rally (or vote) around a cause? This is why grassroots have a low success rate. The founding fathers certainly knew how small the odds are and gave the people a bone they naively believed to be useful and powerful; the right to vote. It is one of the biggest cons played on the people and has managed to keep the natives quiet and complacent, while the elite and powerful do their bidding.
franklin100 -> Nada89 , 15 Oct 2017 22:30
As the joke goes, I welcome our new oligarch overlord. Yes, most likely one fallen oligarch will be replaced by another.
kyoung21b -> helenus , 15 Oct 2017 22:09
The ones that rob you blind, wantonly if they're called republicans and apologetically if they're called democrats.
franklin100 -> Bewareofnazihippies , 15 Oct 2017 22:06
To get back to the argument about the oligarchs buying collaborators, everybody who keeps their mouth shut to keep their job falls into that category. So that's the majority in work.
boilingriver -> antdog , 15 Oct 2017 22:06
That's why i want to go after the politicians and bypass their evil, selfish, stupid pawns they are encouraging right now.

Start demanding some laws for them to follow that has some teeth when they lie to us.
They want to sanction Russia who was just repeating what republican/tea party had been saying.

antdog , 15 Oct 2017 21:58
"A loophole in American tax law permits companies with just 20 percent foreign ownership to reincorporate abroad, which means that if a big U.S. firm acquires a smaller company located in a tax haven, it can then "invert" – that is, become a subsidiary of its foreign-based affiliate – and kiss a huge share of its IRS obligations goodbye.........Over the next decade, corporate inversions could cost the U.S. Treasury nearly $20 billion" Rolling Stone

*******

They made this legal, folks, and it's just the tip of the iceburg. Meanwhile, not a peep (cricket, cricket, cricket.....)

sejong -> thenthelightningwill , 15 Oct 2017 21:56
As Putin said, when a spring is compressed all the way to its limit, it will snap back hard.

Trump caught that wave perfectly. Clinton was wading in the kiddie pool.

franklin100 -> MoonMoth , 15 Oct 2017 21:54
Corporate lobbyists have so much more wealth than the incomes of individual politicians, that is their political salary, that they are all bought not so much with brown envelopes but with jobs like Osborne's, a day's work a month for Blackrock for which he is paid £650k a year. It's so obviously not a payment for what will be done as for what has been done.
HistoryHacker , 15 Oct 2017 21:53
Thought provoking and excellent comments that should be read before opining. As for my opinion, it seems that communism was left out when it might just be the answer to a conundrum that seems unresolvable. Uniformity of wealth within reason (the rule of seven times) can be achieved and sustained. But that requires education which again, can be achieved and sustained. That is, if we don't blow ourselves to smithereens before we achieve such a heightened state which after all should be a...normal?!
thenthelightningwill -> sejong , 15 Oct 2017 21:51
Obama and the Dems lost 1,000 elected positions before Trump came along. It's because he sold out to the big banks. We don't need two Wall St. parties. Until the Dems learn to respect their voters and do things like support single payer, this is all we get.
sejong -> antdog , 15 Oct 2017 21:49
Debbie Wasserman's decide our candidates, thus, our elections.

You make a good point. DWS and HRC: it's all their fault that Trump is president.

antdog -> Will D , 15 Oct 2017 21:48
......whaaaa ? You mean to tell me coronation is not true democracy ?

I need to upchuck.

SoAmerican , 15 Oct 2017 21:47
The primary institution that drives oligarchy in the US is the "two party system". It is not enshrined in the Constitution. It is purely the working of the political class. The people need to quit believing that there can only be two parties.
antdog -> boilingriver , 15 Oct 2017 21:45
The spin and brainwash are now far, far more powerful than the 1960's.

How else do you explain tens of millions of formerly hardworking middle class, now on the outside looking in (with their adult children), continuing to wave the flag, with a large smile on their faces, all the way to the poorhouse day in and day out--and not even a peep?

SoAmerican -> zzoetrope , 15 Oct 2017 21:44
Honestly though, it becomes more undemocratic when people rag on it sy as you have done above. Do you think that is going to inspire Americans to get out and vote? What you don't understand, or maybe you do too well, is that the biggest threat to democracy in the US is apathy. When you present it as such a situation that there is no reprieve, then why should they vote?
Will D -> Andrew Stronto , 15 Oct 2017 21:35
As the article points out the oligarchs use selected messaging, which includes anti-left propaganda and misinformation. So the result is that any political movement that is left of centre (and the centre has shifted quite a lot to the right in the last few decades) is made to seem like hard-core socialism or even communism.

When you look at the policies from Bernie Sanders in the USA and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, and see how they've been attacked by the right-wing media, but when you put them into the perspective of the policies of the 60' and 70's they aren't even particularly left-wing. Most would have been described as centrist policies.

The oligarchs have succeeded in moving the goal posts to the right and made centrist policies seem dangerously left-wing.

Will D -> Tom Wessel , 15 Oct 2017 21:27
They don't overlook it because they have been bought by it. Today's 'democrats' are complicit, and rely on it for their post-political income.
nonsensefactory , 15 Oct 2017 21:26
Modern oligarchs owe their political and economic power to a variety of structures and systems, such as:
(1) The limited-liability, shareholder-controlled corporation, designed to maximize profits for the shareholders while protecting them from the consequences of their actions (why can't one sue the shareholders of ExxonMobil for the actions of the company that they control?)

(2) The global neoliberal 'free-trade' unlimited-capital-flow system, which allows oligarchs to pit nation-states and workers against one another in a race to the bottom for the lowest wages and pollution and safety standards - a system promoted by both Democratic and Republican parties in the United States, which has boosted profits for oligarchs and destroyed the middle class.

(3) The monopolistic tightly-controlled corporate media system, which promotes the interests of the oligarchs who own and control it, setting the narrative played out across television, radio, print media and much of the Internet to the overall population in a remarkably coordinated fashion - such that most 'media' serves to distract or deceive the public, rather than to inform.

There are no doubt others - such as tax codes that allow the rich to accumulate vast wealth, while stripping wealth from poor people and the middle class - but those are among the most important factors.

SoAmerican -> Tom Wessel , 15 Oct 2017 21:23
Small D Democrats. Not big D Democrats. The Clintons are clearly in the oligarch class, much like Trump. It is rather hilarious to hear Trump supporters talk about how he cares for the poor.
boilingriver , 15 Oct 2017 21:19
Oligarchic institutions are subject to rot and collapse, as are any other kind of institution. As the oligarchs' solidarity and practices start to break down, there is an opportunity for democracy to bring government back to the people.

In that moment, the people might unite for long enough that their protests lead to power. With all the upheaval in today's politics, it's hard not to think that this moment is one in which the future of the political system might be more up for grabs than it has been in generations.

It always takes a revolution/ protest from the people to throw out the political corruption and then the rich just start again.
Until we get some laws that they have to follow and serious jail time when they do not, we will not have decent people to choose from. The reason we have such crappy choices is this is the only job in the world where you can lie and cheat to your boss (us) and face no serious consequences.

robinaldlowrise , 15 Oct 2017 21:02
It's difficult to see how Ancient Greece fits into either of those narratives if Aristotle's conclusions from his contemporary, careful, empirical (yes, really) investigations of the whole range of political variants present in Ancient Greece entered into their analyses. For a start, even in political units as small as a city-state, he rates democracy as a degenerate form of government (albeit the best of all three degenerate forms) that naturally tends towards oligarchy (another degenerate form), though – give or take some refinement of concepts involved – a proper mix of both results in the best form of "rule by the many", namely "polity", in an over-all ranking of forms of government by good or "correctness" that is topped by monarchy and tailed by tyranny.

Getting in to all this while not falling victim to the modern trigger word syndrome requires significantly greater subtlety of thought than seems to be deployed by either of the authors under consideration, though how much of their analyses has slipped by the author of this piece is unknowable on the basis of the evidence here available. Have any of the trio even considered a Ancient Ryanair trip to Ancient Greece for a third millennium looksee?

Andrew Stronto -> Hypatia415 , 15 Oct 2017 20:55
The oligarchs best work is done through divide and conquer and should they ultimately be truly threatened then they will prevail through an order out of chaos of their own creation. Most issues you mention like the widening gap between the rich and poor, climate change.. yada yada are engineered to fracture society to make us all easier to control. Oh and they love to stamp their handy work so keep an "eye" out for them !
Tom Wessel , 15 Oct 2017 20:53
" Democracy is vulnerable to oligarchy because democrats focus so much on guaranteeing political equality that they overlook the indirect threat that emerges from economic inequality . "

Hog wash! They know where the money is and they want it transferred into their pockets. And if some of that money trickles down to the less fortunate, they surely will take credit for it. The Clintons didn't become multi-millionaires by concentrating on inequality.

Roderick Llewellyn -> boilingriver , 15 Oct 2017 20:51
I suspect the article's Author, when he said "democrats" (notice lower case) was not referring to the political party the Democrats (upper case). He meant any who advocate for an increase in democracy. This presumably overlaps with the Democratic Party, but by no means is congruent to it.
Tom Wessel -> helenus , 15 Oct 2017 20:46
They are the ones that always have a smile on their faces and constantly give to charities from the monies they exploited from the ignorant masses. Then in retaliation, the masses put them on pedestals. It's a very simply routine. Wash, rinse and repeat.
boilingriver , 15 Oct 2017 20:43
Democracy is vulnerable to oligarchy because democrats focus so much on guaranteeing political equality that they overlook the indirect threat that emerges from economic inequality.

The Dem voters do not overlook that. To be fair the Dem politicians do look at economic policy. Affordable health care using the rich taxes, environment, clean drinking water and making CO responsible. Just look at what trump tea/party are dismantling. Dems are also for increasing min wage. They should do better, but they are not as worthless as republicans. The republicans work for the rich not us.

I find it strange that you never called out the republicans actions, just the Dems. The republicans are the ones putting in the policies/laws that are cementing the riches power and making our lives worse.

Hypatia415 , 15 Oct 2017 20:42
A very deep and timely article given that oligarchies threaten the very survival of our world. Think the widening gap between the rich and poor, climate change, environmental degradation, war and the mass movements of people fleeing all of the above.
Even with democracy and compulsory ballots in Australia voters still believe their best interests lie with the representatives of the oligarchs, the banks, financial services and transnational corporations.
Mercurey -> TragicomedyBeholder , 15 Oct 2017 20:41
Demonstrably not the case when one looks at successful periods of progressive policies such Butkers Education act. The idea that the fruits of life are distributed according to talent & effort is a grim joke that can be dismissed out of hand.

Social privilege repeats itself & counteracting that is a moral duty. As is exposing the myths that justify it.

RobertLlDavies -> peter nelson , 15 Oct 2017 20:29
You haven't got a clue. have you. I've spent years recruiting people into unions in small unorganised workplaces, where employers do their best to victimise anyone who tries to form a union. Many people are either afraid of joining a union - or they have no idea what unions do, except for the rubbish printed about in the anti-union papers (viz. most of them). I'm happy to say that, in the end, we succeed in enabling workers to get together in many workplaces to defend and improve their lot at work. I live in a traditional working class area, near many unionised and non-unionised workplaces. Whate about you? How many ordinary workers have you ever discussed these matters with? How many trades unionists?
stanphillips , 15 Oct 2017 20:28
Read the "Iron Heel" by Jack London" for a description of an extreme oligarchy set in the USA of the early twentieth century. The book is a narrative by the wife and partner of the main male character Ernest Everhard (interesting name I know). Some of Everhard's descriptions of what London saw as consolidation of the American oligarchs are succinct and chilling. If you haven't read it then it really demonstrates in a fictional sense how long the concept of modern oligarchies have been around:
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1164
hardmoney -> zzoetrope , 15 Oct 2017 20:19
"It never ceases to amaze me how Americans delude themselves into thinking that they live in a democracy."

They don't come by it naturally. Their delusion is pushed along by very well oiled propaganda machines, probably mostly financed by the taxpayers themselves.

zzoetrope , 15 Oct 2017 20:14

Our political system, he said, is a democracy. If the people don't want to be run by wealthy elites, we can just vote them out.

It never ceases to amaze me how Americans delude themselves into thinking that they live in a democracy. The US executive, arguable the most powerful collection of people in the world, is substantially un-elected. Only the President stands for election and he's not elected by the people but by an undemocratic electoral college; Hilary Clinton received the most votes and lost the election.

The rest of the Executive aren't elected, they're appointed and you can't "just vote them out".

Then there's Congress where electorates are so gerrymandered that in the vast majority of cases the results are foregone conclusions; national elections are decided in a few "swinging" seats. Congress is also corrupted by the dependence of the system on massive donations, by lobbyists, and vested interests.

Of the world's democracies, the Unites States must be one of the least democratic.

hardmoney , 15 Oct 2017 20:08
And the Oscar goes to America, land of the free and milk and honey; created, propagandized and brought to you by the Hollywood tv and film industry for the last 100 years.
skydolphinattakforce , 15 Oct 2017 20:05
in America the 2 partys pretty much control the election and they are both part of the oligarchy. so I don't think theres much hope for the U.S.
PennyCarter -> RBHoughton , 15 Oct 2017 20:02
I recently read an essay where the American political system is likened to a rodeo. The bull is the voting public being ridden by the oligarchs. If the oligarch falls off the bull the bull is distracted by the rodeo clown (the president) until he can get back on the bull.
Tom Wessel -> Manacatsaman , 15 Oct 2017 19:57
" I personally wonder,... just how much longer this level of stupidity will persist. "

Probably well into the disaster of global warming.

Tom Wessel -> peter nelson , 15 Oct 2017 19:53
" Who exactly are the oligarchs? Do you think that they know that they are oligarchs? "

I doubt a pervert or rapist looks at himself as such.

gerryinoz , 15 Oct 2017 19:52
Who are our oligarchs and who do they finance, lobby, influence and control in Canberra?
The law. The fucking law is mainly for the very wealthy or influential, not for grafters like me.
Still, all in all, in Oz we have a labor party that gave us decent wages, Medicare and super.I think our oligarchs are greedy bastards but not as severe as the American, Russian or Arab oligarchs. The French knew how to deal with theirs in the 18th century and a couple of ours could do with that treatment.
desertrat49 -> GimmeHendrix , 15 Oct 2017 19:51
As Socrates was forever doing...if we do not define our terms, we quickly end up in the weeds. Britain is King in Parliament (badly corrupted under Victoria!) and America is a Plutocratic Republic!...No Democracy intended...or delivered...but much mythologized none the less!
Tom Wessel -> aldebaranredstar , 15 Oct 2017 19:51
"kind of like taking a knee ...we shouldn't be pursuing niche interest anymore."

Police brutality is a "niche" Issue? I can see you haven't met a Brown Shirt you didn't like.

RBHoughton , 15 Oct 2017 19:51
The American people cannot vote out the oligarchs because they make the rules of the game and the electorate must comply. The author seems to suppose there is a democracy operating on this planet when the nearest we have approached that ideal is the supposedly representative democracies of numerous countries.

One of the features that reinforce the oligarchy in power in USA is the agenda of the nine Supreme Court judges who approved 'Citizens United' and assured the oligarchs that the man with the money would call the shots.

Another important point that does not surface in this article is the 600BC institution, jointly with democracy, of theatre. That allowed playwrights to present the naive electorate with plays enacting the hard choices that citizens would have to make now they were responsible for their own government. There is a group of greats scholars on the BBC's 2014 series "Guilty Pleasures" who discuss and approve this point.

JosephCamilleri -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 19:49
On balance over thousands of years some rich bastards made some good decisions? How scientific of you. Not so much a logical argument as a watery fart.
Bewareofnazihippies , 15 Oct 2017 19:48
Please Guardian, don't close this comments section too soon.
This topic truly goes to the heart of why so much of humanity's failings of governance and stewardship of the Earth is so malevolent.
The quality of the responses highlight that many readers recognize that this is THE issue that underlies so many of our existing problems.
Tom Wessel , 15 Oct 2017 19:48
" Ancient Greek elites developed institutions and practices to keep themselves united. "

Nothing couldn't be more relevant then the Guardian running Hillary Clinton articles. Saw at least 3 on the front page right now. Let's keep the elite neoliberals in power.

desertrat49 -> TallulahD , 15 Oct 2017 19:46
Like I said elsewhere, one has to first define citizenship and who has the franchise before one gets too carried away by talk of Democracy!
JosephCamilleri -> Amanzim , 15 Oct 2017 19:44
There are democracies and "democracies". India has a ruling class that rules for its class, so not really that democratic. India isn't USA, USA isn't Australia, Australian isn't Germany, Germany isn't the Netherlands. That's roughly the scale.
desertrat49 -> PennyCarter , 15 Oct 2017 19:44
One of the interesting conceits of American culture is the way that the mega rich envision themselves as simply middle class...one sees it all the time.
The short answer is that the politically aware Oligarchs know very well who they are....and the wannabes know who they are as well!
My favourite is still one of the Koch brothers saying that he had no problem with Oligarchy...so long as he got the government that he paid for! Beautiful!!
aldebaranredstar , 15 Oct 2017 19:40
More than oligarchs I see alliances built on niche interests, or interests that are particular to a group of people. these special interests are wedge issues for that group, kind of like taking a knee and how that affects the NFL and ripples through the whole culture. Too many niche interests are being pushed forward, and that's why there's no consensus or very little. That's why there is gridlock and stasis. we shouldn't be pursuing niche interest anymore. we need larger consensus agreements, things we can agree on in society as a whole, and we got to keep talking until we find that agreement. that's how I see it
sejong , 15 Oct 2017 19:33
A hundred years ago, as the West industrialized, oligarchs wielded power via the employment relationship. Beginning a generation ago with the transfer of manufacturing to China, the instrument of power shifted to media. Murdoch was one of the first to exploit this. And now we have Trump.
guest0987 -> Zaarth , 15 Oct 2017 19:28
Agree totally. Redistribution of wealth to keep a few from controlling everything is what we need. And this does have a future as moving to the left is the way for the US to go. The right has shown for at least the past 40 years to offer nothing.
Redredemptionist -> WhatTheTruth , 15 Oct 2017 19:22
Dear WT..., WT... do you mean by:

"the oligarchy of Socialism" ?
"giving people too many rights" ? and
"neutralises everything to a standstill" ?

Too many 'dog whistles' make a strong sound but no meaningful sense what so ever!

PennyCarter -> peter nelson , 15 Oct 2017 19:21
My guess is that oligarchs don't even think they are oligarchs. They probably think they are actually part of a meritocracy, having conflated the rigged political system with what they believe to be their superior abilities
Dave514 -> Dave514 , 15 Oct 2017 19:18
Sorry that was WSC.
JamesValencia -> Dave514 , 15 Oct 2017 19:17
The "?" was merely rhetorical, as is usually the case on t'interwebs :)
peter nelson -> MartinSilenus , 15 Oct 2017 19:14
The comments in this thread mostly seem to be by whinging old style Labour supporters, who can no longer hide the contempt that they have for ordinary people - your "apathetic proles".
Dave514 -> JamesValencia , 15 Oct 2017 19:14
"Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus
mus." The original Latin quote used by WAX to accurately describe Attlee.
peter nelson -> 3melvinudall , 15 Oct 2017 19:12
Oh rubbish. People choose whether to join a union. It takes closed shop contracts to enforce union membership, and the fact that unions seldom form in right to work states prove that when given a choice most workers don't want to join a union.
peter nelson -> Timothy Everton , 15 Oct 2017 19:09
Nonsense. The American government was elected by the voters. Local and state government to draw the voting districts for US house races were elected by the voters. US Senate governor and presidential races cannot be gerrymandered. And Hillary Clinton WAY outspent Donald Trump.

Progressives need to stop whining and complaining about the Koch brothers and start putting together a slate of candidates and ideas that ordinary Americans want to vote for.

Sailor25 -> theseligsussex , 15 Oct 2017 19:06
Looted and raised off the back of slaves but in the process laying the foundation of western civilisation.

My point isn't that it's fair or right or good. My point is that the concentration of power and wealth in a small group of individuals often leads to incredible development that betters all of humanity down the line.

peter nelson -> Zaarth , 15 Oct 2017 19:06
Who cares what you support? There is no political will for such a thing and the general direction of democratically elected governments is toward the right not the left. So redistributionist policies have no future.
peter nelson -> Manacatsaman , 15 Oct 2017 19:04
Money IS speech. Surely if the founding fathers intended to protect any particular kind of speech, it must have been political speech. So if I want to use my money to promote a particular policy or political candidate then any attempt by the government to prevent that is obviously and clearly a violation of my right to political speech.
Bewareofnazihippies , 15 Oct 2017 19:01
One of the best articles I've read here. It's about time an article like this finally gets a hearing. I mostly read these kind of arguments and perspectives from the comments section. So well done.
JamesValencia -> rikmac78 , 15 Oct 2017 19:00
Well, given what I said above, one might expect me to agree, but I wouldn't: New Labour nevertheless did an enormous amound of good: A fairer britain, enormously improved public services, the business sector properly regulated. taxation improved.

The problem was Blair. The background was Labour, which kept on beavering away with Labour principles: "society first" in a word.

New Labour achieved a huge amount. A shame abour Blair. If John Smith hadn't dropped dead, it might be different. With emphasis on "might" - at least Smith, although also restructuring Labour towards the centre, wasn't so bent on reneging Labour core values.

Luckily the Labour party reneged little: Labour endures :)

nottrue , 15 Oct 2017 18:59
Very interesting. While it currently appears impossible to win back democracy there might be some hope. I sense that things might change soon. The debacle of the current electricity market in Australia and lack of action to mitigate climate change can be seen in the light of the Oligarchy's fear of losing their wealth base, which could end up in a rise of democracy.'
TallulahD , 15 Oct 2017 18:56
In Athens, enslavement for debt had been a fundamental law from the time of Draco in the 39th Olympiad in the 7th Century BC. However, in the sixth century BC, the lawgiver Solon ordained a radical new constitution: by cancelling all debts both public and private, he "liberated the people once and for all" thus paving the way for all citizens to be admitted into the Assembly: Aristotle, "The Athenian Constitution", Parts 6 and 43 (although the Athenian form of direct democracy was a limited concept by modern standards - to become a citizen one had to be an adult male, born of citizen parents).
Manacatsaman , 15 Oct 2017 18:38
Most people in the U.S. conflate democracy with capitalism; there's no comprehension of separateness of political and economic "systems". The prevailing idea is that "America is a nation of business" and in the 19th Century the Supreme Court declared corporations to be individual persons and most recently confirmed that "money is speech". So, the people who have the ability to vote out the oligarchy don't even know what one is, or why it's bad for them. Thus a lying, cheating, greedy "Billionaire" is seen by the middle and lower classes, or as I'm sure Trump refers to them behind closed doors, "my marks", as their savior. I personally wonder, as the Trump Administration works tirelessly to grind its base into the dirt, just how much longer this level of stupidity will persist.
SteveofCaley , 15 Oct 2017 18:38
The process of branding and advertising, a century old, places unmerited trust in non-human entities, corporations and institutions. Humans are slick and untrustworthy. We assume that Police Departments are always kind. If harm occurs, is it a rotten cop or rotten citizen? Pick one. Ask a disloyal NFL player. They hate the troops, peace, freedom and justice, right?
The modern oligarchy is to hide behind labels and brands. God so loved the world that he founded a privately-held nonprofit with tax advantages ...whatnow? Exxon owns your axxons, folks.
SocAlan , 15 Oct 2017 18:38

At the same time, they sought to destroy monuments that were symbols of democratic success.

Privatisation!

Sailor25 -> EquilibriaJones , 15 Oct 2017 18:35
People always die, the default position of humanity is grinding poverty.

What we should be looking at is why come civilisations escaped that. A modern Britain is less likely to die of poverty today than at any other time in history.

The concentration of wealth in small groups of individuals often provides the impetus for development. To much concentration of wealth means you end up with exploitation of the plebs the flip side leaves you with economic stagnation.

The key as in most things is getting the balance right.

SocAlan , 15 Oct 2017 18:32

They gave rewards to informants and found pliable citizens to take positions in the government.

Does this not remind one of the last Labour government?

Timothy Everton -> Dave514 , 15 Oct 2017 18:31
Do a bit of reading. I would suggest Nancy MacLean's "Democracy in Chains" for a start. It has a direct line to the big-money influence of the Koch family over the U.S. government. There are many others, of course.
Hector Hajnal -> DolyGarcia , 15 Oct 2017 18:30
ehmm well... thats something that must start within the family and the community, if family fails theres the community if community fails thats window open to attack. Even so I have been knew fellows and sisters that even in the must adverse circumstances manage to make themselves educated and with a good criteria vice versa with fellows from a good environment turn to be as... so is a matter of choose as well. The problem with that is that this are the times of internet instant gratification which create the perfect scenario to create a bunch of idiotics egocentric lunatics with not will nor performance at all just slaves to machines. So ehmmm we need some kind of a bomb which disables some of the technology, not all, just for a while and try to get some to nromal
Sailor25 -> imperium3 , 15 Oct 2017 18:29
I wouldn't like to live in an extreme oligarchy either but we must remember our present will be somebodies past.

Money we direct away from growth to support our current living standard makes the people of tommorow less wealthy.

As I posted earlier there needs to be balance but we shouldn't assume oligarchy is a bad thing in of itself.

Guangudo -> GimmeHendrix , 15 Oct 2017 18:28
I would say oligarchy or oligarchy, because "democracy" does not really exist, it never did. Nothing will change unless we do away with Darwinism.
Guangudo , 15 Oct 2017 18:15
"Democracy (Greek: δημοκρατία, dēmokratía literally "rule of the people"), in modern usage, is a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly or elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body, such as a parliament. Democracy is sometimes referred to as "rule of the majority".

Having this definition in mind I do find rather bizarre that everyone insists on calling such a system a "democracy" when it is a fact that women and slaves where not allowed to vote.

Nowadays is getting somehow worse, because manipulation and agnotology have upset everything. The systems control perfectly everything and this charade are done by a power in the shadow, and although most people ignore it, this Power is theocratic.

The fact that repeating a lie constantly does not make it an axiom ...

MartinSilenus -> sparx104 , 15 Oct 2017 18:12
1984 is my `favourite` book, the subtext is that there is in fact no hope from the proles, as Winston Smith comes to see. They are apathetic & any who might rouse them, are liquidated. They have the power to overthrow the party, but are mostly just ignored by it, & so just get on with their lives. The lesson is that power, without the will to use it, is meaningless: still true as it happens.
Dave514 -> 3melvinudall , 15 Oct 2017 18:07
My, my, you've got this all sorted out so we'll have a dictatorship that is able to abolish the Supreme Court and Congress. Wow!
rikmac78 -> JamesValencia , 15 Oct 2017 18:06
New Labour is simply a lighter shade of Tory power...
Pushk1n -> blogdubdrib , 15 Oct 2017 18:00
Francis Galton was a founder of the science of statistics and a bit of a snob.

Galton was a keen observer. In 1906, visiting a livestock fair, he stumbled upon an intriguing contest. An ox was on display, and the villagers were invited to guess the animal's weight after it was slaughtered and dressed. Nearly 800 participated, and Galton was able to study their individual entries after the event.

Galton stated that "the middlemost estimate expresses the vox populi, every other estimate being condemned as too low or too high by a majority of the voters",[45] and reported this value (the median, in terminology he himself had introduced, but chose not to use on this occasion) as 1,207 pounds. To his surprise, this was within 0.8% of the weight measured by the judges. Soon afterwards, in response to an enquiry, he reported[46] the mean of the guesses as 1,197 pounds, but did not comment on its improved accuracy. Recent archival research[47] has found some slips in transmitting Galton's calculations to the original article in Nature: the median was actually 1,208 pounds, and the dressed weight of the ox 1,197 pounds, so the mean estimate had zero error. James Surowiecki[48] uses this weight-judging competition as his opening example: had he known the true result, his conclusion on the wisdom of the crowd would no doubt have been more strongly expressed.

He thought the judges local yokels and was expecting to laugh instead he found that irrespective of perceived intelligence the mean of the wisdom of the crowd ( the 800 entering the competition for a prize) was surprisingly accurate.

There are more things in Heaven and Earth ....

Dave514 -> glenns , 15 Oct 2017 17:59
And you know this specifically how?
J4Zonian -> ashleyhk , 15 Oct 2017 17:58
US media hasn't been "leftist" ever. In the 1930s and a few other periods it's had significant minorities that were liberal or leftish, but otherwise, it's mostly right-of-center imperial support mechanism media; now and increasingly, it's extreme right wing (Fox, Murdoch (WSJ, National Geographic, etc.) Clear Channel and Sinclair dominating TV and radio with more than 1000 stations. Reporters are sometimes left-leaning but that has little or nothing to do with what's published. Hollywood tends to be liberal on social issues but rarely moves off the imperial support wagon except for occasional dips into history to communicate with platitudes. Any media that considers Obama and Clinton anything but right of center corporate duopolists is way over on the right wing; that includes everything 95% of people ever hear or see--all networks, cable, every daily newspaper... The Guardian a little bit, Pacifica radio's 5 stations, Mother Jones and sort of The Nation, Common Dreams and a few other sites, blogs etc.--that's the left in the US. Pitiful, especially considering that a large majority of people in the US favor very liberal positions on almost all issues except war, death penalty and imprisonment.
Dave514 -> JamesValencia , 15 Oct 2017 17:56
British Rail was even a greater disaster ushered in by Clement, the mountains laboured a d brought forth a mouse, Attlee
curiouswes -> RapidSloth , 15 Oct 2017 17:55
For me, things really took a decisive turn for the worst when Wilson was president. Before that, the defacto government wasn't codified. According to this wikipedia article the was a "growing concern" about the so called money trust.

The Pujo Committee was a United States congressional subcommittee in 1912–1913 that was formed to investigate the so-called "money trust", a community of Wall Street bankers and financiers that exerted powerful control over the nation's finances. After a resolution introduced by congressman Charles Lindbergh Sr. for a probe on Wall Street power, congressman Arsène Pujo of Louisiana was authorized to form a subcommittee of the House Committee on Banking and Currency.

from the article above:

In civil oligarchies, governance is collective and enforced through laws, rather than by arms.

Democracy defeated oligarchy in ancient Greece because of 'oligarchic breakdown.'
With this typology behind him, Winters declares that America is already a civil oligarchy.

I don't know much about economics, but from what I think I know, one can speed up or slow down the economy by increasing or decreasing the money supply respectively; and prior to Wilson's term, the government had that power. However after Wilson's term that power moved into the private sector because laws were passed. I see that as a huge problem and from what I can gather, so did Lindbergh:

The new law will create inflation whenever the trusts want inflation. From now on depressions will be scientifically created.

TWOBOBS , 15 Oct 2017 17:51
I think the citizenry is being screwed by the oligarchy on both the left and the right, which tend to merge into the same thing. Both are about power and control and have very little to do with democracy or individual liberties. Neither the capitalists nor the socialists care much about you. You are a means to an end. Both the right and the left seek to control speech and thought through the media and through institutions. Both the right and left want a disempowered, compliant population.
JamesValencia , 15 Oct 2017 17:48
There's lots to think about there. Thanks for a good article, more on democracy please ! It strikes me we're in a situation where we need to relearn what it is, exactly.

What struck me most was the oligarchy eroding symbols of democracy, and taking over the legal system of government, and I'd add, taking over the management of government through privatisation of government services: The civil service increasingly outsourced to the private sector, that is, the oligarchy.

This is what "the small state" political project, currently centre stage in the UK and the USA, is leading towards: governments run by the private sector.

And the response is always "it's cheaper and more efficient! And democracy is the representative - who cares if government departments are shut down and their services delivered by the private sector? It means less tax !"

And we end up with Network Rail, and the other scandals of privatised services in the UK, and to Labour's undying shame, much of this was ushered in by New Labour.

Pushk1n -> Light_and_Liberty , 15 Oct 2017 17:46
I think you need to read the article. Trump fits every definition of an Oligarch, his actions are exactly how Oligarchs survive, true he may not be the only one in the US.
Skullen -> deeaiden , 15 Oct 2017 17:42
You sound slightly like a psychopath yourself.
johnthebaptiste -> alloomis , 15 Oct 2017 17:38
or even dictatorshiip
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elective_dictatorship
MalicX -> Elgrecoandros , 15 Oct 2017 17:37
Jessthecrip seems to have been supporting punishment of some kind for people whose actions demonstrably cause actual, serious harm to real people. You seem to consider the actions which create such actual harm (including many deaths) to be a 'political opinion'. I think that's where the difference in attitude lies.
Shannon Renee Kayne-Amoureux , 15 Oct 2017 17:35
Bilderberg Group, et al.
Pushk1n -> GimmeHendrix , 15 Oct 2017 17:35
You Think, the people were well and truly lied to by rather rich and unscrupulous people who hope to benefit from the chaos as this article makes clear this is the way that Oligarchy works by manipulating and dividing the demos.
curiouswes -> hardmoney , 15 Oct 2017 17:31

The problem is and always has been, life is not black or white, but gray. One man's fact is another man's differing opinion.

True. However, a women has the right to abort a fetus. That is a fact. Now we can have an opinion that she has the right to kill her own fetus, but that wouldn't be a fact because technically we can't ascertain that the fetus is alive because it doesn't necessarily "stay" alive if we remove it from the mother (at least not in the first trimester). Therefore legalized abortion isn't legalized murder. However it is unconstitutional to take everybody's guns away. It really takes verbal gymnastics to try to make the constitution say anything different, so the proponents for gun control swear up and down that they aren't trying to take everybody's guns away. However when you ask what their objective is, they say they want to stop people from killing each other with guns. Without that measuring rod (the constitution), they don't take that tone. Instead they argue that people don't need guns. The same can be said for speech. Hate speech imho does more damage than the right to bear arms, but the 1st amendment gives those fools the right to behave the way the did in Charlottesville. Those who tried to silence them walked on the 1st amendment, again in the name of the greater good. As a black man, I'm not about to side with people who think we need to keep those statues up. I know exactly what those statues represent. However again the constitution is there protecting their right to voice an opinion to say what I vehemently oppose. I can disagree with them but I don't have the constitutional right to silence them. When people want to force others not to speak on college campuses, that isn't constitutional. It is authoritarian. Authoritarianism in the name of the greater good. some don't have a problem with that kind of authoritarianism, but when it comes from the orange one, that's authoritarianism that nobody needs because it's really hard to find his "greater good". His sense of greater good generally seems to benefit some, while marginalizing others. Personally I think his impeachment is now months overdue, but, as you say, that is just my opinion. I think firing Comey was an authoritarian move. I think when a head of state can neutralize his detractors, in theory we can't get rid of him for anything, because he can simply fire any perceived threat to his power. The fact that he is still in power is an outrage to me. But then again, I think it was an outrage that HRC was even running for president. They dumped Gary Hart, because he was having an extramarital affair, but for some reason, HRC was able to walk through "airport security" with all of her baggage. But, "no election rigging" from state side. It was all done by the Russian oligarchs according to our wonderful media. However this is a democracy because we had a choice between, "Lock her up" and "I cannot tell the truth"
Zaarth , 15 Oct 2017 17:22
This is why I support wealth redistribution through progressive taxation. It's not so much about achieving "income equality" as it is about preventing power being concentrated in the hands of a few. Extreme wealth is a public danger. Many would trample on our rights for their own profit, convenience, or pleasure, and most politicians are all too eager to let the super wealthy buy their place as public masters.
Gunsarecivilrights -> Spudnik2 , 15 Oct 2017 17:19
Voluntaryism is to be commended. Compelling people to be charitable with force is not.
Adkult -> Newmacfan , 15 Oct 2017 17:02
Yet you were complaining about regions wanting to separate before. The EU doesn't fund Spain's regional parties by the way, as much as you'd like them to.
Spudnik2 -> Gunsarecivilrights , 15 Oct 2017 17:01
I accept that so much of what I see demands action. The world needs more helping hands and kindness.

You can believe in what ever you like, but actions make all the difference. Donate something like canned food, or volunteer someplace and you can make a real difference in someones life ( more than any book or bible ever did ).

memo10 -> mjmizera , 15 Oct 2017 16:45

The industrial-military complex of the 50-70s didn't just disappear, but morphed into today's structures.

15 years in Iraq & Afghanistan says it never changed at all.

memo10 -> clshannon , 15 Oct 2017 16:42

Not true, the standards are high enough, it is the fact that kids from disfunctional families and poverty cannot reach them. So the teachers just pass them on to the next grade anyway. You end up with poorly educated adults who 'know' education is useless according to their experience raising children who continue the cycle.

The curriculum is demanding enough. They just don't demand anything relevant to people's lives. As long as everything stays irrelevant they can continue rewarding the people who play by the system's rules and punish those who find that stupid and frustrating.

Ponderbelle -> Gamba Puirida , 15 Oct 2017 16:40
Reich has a soul full of light and empathy. Once people are allowed to attain their basic needs, the rest is mostly fluff. Nature provides every resource needed to sustain a wholesome existence...not a cash register one to be found in the fields of plenty. Ancient greed has never been faced full-on by humanity. The required efforts to shelter, feed and clothe ourselves are too often run over roughshod due to the number one vice: Profits first and foremost, with the essentials for survival marked for the highest bid; callously termed 'what the market will bear'.

Democracy? Not in many decades. We are under the total rule of organized business; which applies to most developed nations. The virtues of sharing and goodwill would be one remedy to the basic economic inequalities.

However, in our current bailout experiment (and, not a few economists are status quo baloney feeders) the inertia is in a free wheeling philosophical advantage to the gods of the highest profit. You'll never see any sympathy cards slated for modern economists. A simple evident reality is that
our basic needs for survival are the same. Damned if we can manage to seriously address that fact first and create systems which have a clear vision for the betterment and uplift of all.

It will not be long before the loud financial bubble pop sounds off again - it will be called the inevitable market correction or due to aggressive over reach. Oligarchy will feign much needed financial aid required. We deserve much better. I predict eventually a r e v o l t from those who suffer the insanity of deprivation in a world of plenty. Certainly in the US our votes are mean less and less with the likes of Citizens United. Corporations may be legal entities but they are N O T citizens. All that exists, exists for all.

kyoung21b -> TragicomedyBeholder , 15 Oct 2017 16:39
Yes much more rational to treat everyone "equally" like providing huge subsidies to, e.g. big oil, big ag, and big pharma so they too can appear to be performing equally.
Obtrectator -> deeaiden , 15 Oct 2017 16:37
Unworldly middle-class theorists create revolutions but almost invariably cannot control them. They tear up the rule-sheets, failing to understand that that loosens or destroys the restraints on psychopaths of whatever background, who then proceed to hack their way to the top.
Thus Lenin facilitated Stalin; Sun Yat-sen ultimately resulted in Mao; Desmoulins and the Girondistes were devoured by the Jacobins and their Reign of Terror.
alloomis , 15 Oct 2017 16:31
"He argues that democracy defeated oligarchy in ancient Greece because of "oligarchic breakdown." Oligarchic institutions are subject to rot and collapse, as are any other kind of institution. " unfortunately, democracy did not defeat oligarchy in ancient greece, except briefly in athens and its dependencies. and the usa is no kind of democracy. voting for who will be your master is not democracy, it is elective aristocracy. and that is the political arm of the economic oligarchy called 'capitalism.'
Bochi -> threeoutside , 15 Oct 2017 16:28

Who, exactly, doesn't think of "the realms of politics and economics as fused together"?

It's been the basic assumption of UK politics from 1997 until 2015 (at least) that there is only one "common sense" economic model that works, and that is an extreme market-oriented form of neo-liberalism.

Most of the electorate in this country still buy into neo-liberalism's deceitful platitudes as if the argument was over 40 years ago and democracy consists of choosing a few people to manage it every five years.

3melvinudall , 15 Oct 2017 16:26
Oligarchs in the US have, for 40 years, taken the power from the people. They have accomplished it by destroying the labor unions and any hint of a labor movement. They have taken control of the media by buying it ( 80 or so owners of MSM to 5 or 6 owners now), they control the narrative. They control what we talk about. They control the politicians by "dark money". Outside money floods strategic states to influence elections down to school board levels. Money is donated to universities with conditions to control who is hired to run certain schools within the university ( the economics school at FSU, for example). Economic policies and tax codes have funneled growth income to the top 140 families in the US. Now we are witnessing the cumulative efforts of these oligarchs bear fruit. Unions are meaningless, growth income flows to the wealth class, we talk about God, guns and gays in every election cycle, efforts to do away with all social programs and rig the tax codes so the middle class pays more and the wealthy pay less. I would say the Oligarchs are in control and have won. They control the courts and all branches of government....what is left? Can democracy survive now that they control the ballot box and the elections? And they certainly can control enough minds to win an election...we witness that in 2016.
GimmeHendrix -> Arch Stanton , 15 Oct 2017 16:20
'And Trump being the worst type of oligarch may create 'oligarchic breakdown' and bring the whole corrupt shitheap called US democracy crashing down.'

Contradictions in terms. Its either a democracy or an oligarchy.

GimmeHendrix -> threeoutside , 15 Oct 2017 16:18
You suggest a determinism which is false. Brexit is a classic example where the political will of the masses acts contrary to the immediate interests of domestic capital.
GimmeHendrix , 15 Oct 2017 16:12
Well its just been confirmed. We live in an oligarchy. One where the notion of democracy acts as an ideological support.
curiouswes -> hardmoney , 15 Oct 2017 16:09
Likewise.

Similar to Dorothy and her ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz; she had the power all along, but didn't know it.

Ahh, the Ruby slipper analogy! Well done! I missed it, obviously :-)

sparx104 , 15 Oct 2017 16:07
Someone else seems to have understood this some time ago. ..

"'If there is hope,' wrote Winston, 'it lies in the proles.' If there was hope, it MUST lie in the proles, because only there in those swarming disregarded masses, 85 per cent of the population of Oceania, could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated. The Party could not be overthrown from within'"

RapidSloth -> curiouswes , 15 Oct 2017 16:06

it does show when the government is exceeding it's authority

Except that when you look at how much power the constitution has given to the state in the past three decades the answer to the question of whenever or not US is an oligarchy is should be rather obvious....

hardmoney -> curiouswes , 15 Oct 2017 16:00
"...we need some way to separate fact from opinion."

The problem is and always has been, life is not black or white, but gray. One man's fact is another man's differing opinion.

fragglerokk , 15 Oct 2017 16:00
Can't recommend Requiem For The American Dream highly enough, absolutely required viewing for anyone wishing to understand the mockery of democracy under which we live.
fragglerokk -> Gamba Puirida , 15 Oct 2017 15:59
Requiem For The American Dream also ... any adult would be extremely enlightened by watching it.
curiouswes -> zippy200 , 15 Oct 2017 15:55

Trouble is liberals on the one hand bang on about proletariat solidarity, yet on the other, peddle identity politics and turn a blind eye at increasingly fragmented communities.

"The Jews, will not, replace us!" I'm so glad the "president" rebuked this blatant display of identity politics in Charlottesville.

Elgrecoandros -> CommanderMaxil , 15 Oct 2017 15:54
That is a semantic argument over whether or not his votes can be taken to represent his views. It is still calling for punishment of political opponents because they disagree with the political opinions of the poster.
GusDynamite -> Skip Breitmeyer , 15 Oct 2017 15:48
Look, I'm not fan of the left way of things but to claim they are entirely to blame is willfully ignorant of conservative and right wing failings. I can hardly expect either to see my point and accept that they're the problem, the best I can do is pause now and then I know that I am the problem as much as any and try to mind myself. If we all just took responsibility for ourselves left and right and anything in between would matter far less.
hardmoney -> curiouswes , 15 Oct 2017 15:40
Hi wes, hope you are doing well. Yes, the people DO have the power, but they either don't know how or choose not to use it. Similar to Dorothy and her ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz; she had the power all along, but didn't know it.
curiouswes -> RapidSloth , 15 Oct 2017 15:31

There is also the tendency of treating laws like dogma and the constitution like the bible.

I wouldn't call the constitution a bible, but it does show when the government is exceeding it's authority. In times when some are actually concerned about whether or not the USA is a oligarchy, we need some way to separate fact from opinion.

ID7380890 , 15 Oct 2017 15:27
Spot on article. Lots of loopy comments. Personally I find the positions the Guardian takes to be those that further the interests of our ruling elite.
Where are the discussions about Trust Law which is nothing more than a huge tax avoiding scheme for the wealthy.

How about the control of the legal costs the high street solicitor can claim when he wins for the average person against the badly behaved housing associations and landlords, the insurers and employers. It has forced good solicitors out of these types of litigation. The result is occurrences like Grenfell Tower. The Guradian always goes on about Legal Aid. Solicitors don't need poverty rate legal aid. They need the corrupt, the greedy and incompetent to pay the same rates per hour for the small man's lawyers when they lose as they pay for their own lawyers. This funds all the work those small high street solicitors do in investigating cases that go nowhere, and enables them to provide free advice.
Or take the continuous false fears propaganda of those who wish to ignore the Leave vote. The majority voted for an end to cheap migrant labour driving down wages and living standards for the working population, for an end to an economy dominated by financial services and house price inflation.

AnonForNowThanks -> Light_and_Liberty , 15 Oct 2017 15:26
What "people?"

Racially polarized voting does not constitute a "people." It echoes a much earlier time, when there was a slave society on American land.

Roughly 1 in 4 active duty enlisted men and women in the US Army are black, compared with about 13.5% of the total population, hence 80%+ higher than their representation in the general population.

You don't see a problem here?

Dave514 -> AnonForNowThanks , 15 Oct 2017 15:25
Not o my the two major Vet Organization but a myriad of Vet support groups.
curiouswes -> hardmoney , 15 Oct 2017 15:24
Hi Money!

I think the people really do have the power. I think as long as we have the bill of rights, the power is still ours to retain or relinquish. Just because the scotus doesn't strike down unconstitutional laws like the patriot act, brady bill (gone at the moment but likely to come back), I don't think it means that we have no power. It is just that well informed people such as yourself have a difficult time informing those less informed because the media is engaged in a very effective endeavor to keep them misinformed. As you correctly pointed out in another post, people will believe anything. It is only those who really care enough to actually stop and think are what you are saying, only those will be informed despite the efforts of the media to keep them in the dark. If you can get enough people behind you, I think you could really change this. Me? I don't think the masses care enough. I think they are good people. It is just that they can't think ahead enough to see the crisis as it presents itself today. They don't feel the sense of urgency and as long as the media continues this game of deception, they will be more worried about the local football team they any existential threat until the media makes it out to be an existential threat.

thank you for all you do and have done!

Gamba Puirida , 15 Oct 2017 15:15
IMO, Robert Reich's movie - Inequality for all - should be played and discussed in every class around the age of 16 in western countries.
AnonForNowThanks -> Dave514 , 15 Oct 2017 15:14
Which brings to mind another question: who lobbies for the homeless veterans? The oligarchs depend on the armed forces for their vast wealth and position, then discard them.
SunwynRavenwood , 15 Oct 2017 15:13
Then, of course, there is the guillotine.
Arch Stanton -> newsfreak , 15 Oct 2017 15:13
As the News International scandal showed, the British justice system / rule of law is the finest legal system that money can buy.
Hornplayer -> vinny59er , 15 Oct 2017 15:09
Trump the Sequel you mean?
Dave514 -> Hornplayer , 15 Oct 2017 15:09
The major Vet organizations do so already in the US as for the homeless Churches and other charitable organizations.
deeaiden , 15 Oct 2017 15:06
Conveniently forgotten in all this is the fact that most of history's most horrendous dictators and political psychopaths came from the poor. Most, if not all, revolution political movements come from the upper middle class...people who have enough money to be comfortable and afford luxuries, but not enough that they are afraid of changing things to their financial and, possibly, social detriment. The only people who really want to defend and protect the status quo are the wealthy, for obvious reasons, and the poor, who do not want to change the system--which is all they know and perhaps all they understand--but only change their position in it. I meet a lot of people who are wealthy and well-educated--these
attributes are not necessarily reflective of each other--and a great many people who are poor. Trust me, you definitely do not want the latter group running things. "Street smarts" are great...on the street.
GagaInGreenacres -> unclestinky , 15 Oct 2017 15:01
And who would not tolerate unemployment. In Australia, Menzies almost lost the 1961 when unemployment nudged 3%!
newsfreak , 15 Oct 2017 14:59
Enlightening! The judiciary is the bastion of oligarchy and the media, for the most part, confuses and divides public opinion to ensure all remains under control -- of the oligarchs.
GagaInGreenacres -> imipak , 15 Oct 2017 14:52
The taxation curve is a very low order matter. The primary question is the difficulty of the first level, of getting a job where you feel you are making a valuable contribution, either because of the remuneration or because of the job satisfaction. We don't need the numbers in the masters accounts to achieve this, we can make our own numbers and give them to people who are willing to make a worthwhile contribution. Even if the masters slander them as "unworthy". Even if they are not really our sort of people.

The main use of taxation is to prevent masters from hiring their own private armies or worse still the national army.

threeoutside , 15 Oct 2017 14:52
Excuse me? Who, exactly, doesn't think of "the realms of politics and economics as fused together"? Anybody under the age of about 16, from what I can see. What a dumb statement. Interesting subject here, though.
Hornplayer -> gregwani , 15 Oct 2017 14:51
Aristotle went further. Those with money Pay to participate and the money is used to pay those that are too poor and otherwise would not participate. Now the question is how much needs to be paid? The Duke of Westminster and the like should probably cough up a good whack so that the homeless and families at the food bank can be paid to participate.
Arch Stanton , 15 Oct 2017 14:42
The United States of America is an oligarchy as shown in 2008 when the banks through their control of the Federal Reserve and numerous politicians stole billions from the public purse. Then, Obama's consistent failure to deal with the criminal acts of JP Morgan and other banks shows who is in running that country. C

Which of course is why the political mainstream has imploded and Trump was elected. If you know that the criminals in charge vote for the man they detest most even if he is an utterly preposterous showboating unprincipled liar.

And Trump being the worst type of oligarch may create 'oligarchic breakdown' and bring the whole corrupt shitheap called US democracy crashing down.

Brexit has split the oligarch's poodles in the U.K. Ie. Blairites & Osborne v Gove / Johnson / Tory head bangers and may consign the Conservative party to oblivion. This may lead to a genuinely left wing government that represents the many and not the few.

vr13vr -> Dave514 , 15 Oct 2017 14:40
One of the questions is why? The other is that even if it is in the constitution, does it mean it can never be changed? If the reality on the ground and social threats have changed over the last 200 years, so should the laws that protect us from those threats.
GagaInGreenacres -> whitman100 , 15 Oct 2017 14:39
Maybe, but remember that currently even a university education in economics leaves people thinking that taxes and borrowings "fund" government spending and that banks " lend on" deposits according to the "money multiplier".
Tim2006 -> Dave514 , 15 Oct 2017 14:38
Corruption is not. We are talking about legalized corruption ...
Ritula Fränkel -> Light_and_Liberty , 15 Oct 2017 14:37
What on Earth are you talking about?

Donald Trump is the oligarchy. His disruption at the feeding trough comes from his greed: instead of understanding that oligarchs maintain stability by sharing, he remains primarily concerned with distributing privileges to his closest circle.

Trump is not a radical anti-oligarch. He's just a simpleton oligarch who doesn't understand the rules.

Scot Fourowls , 15 Oct 2017 14:37
In response to the well-researched truth of this politically significant article, the propaganda reversal machine is in full force by the comments of upended sanity-and- unreality reverence toward the existentially ridiculous, dangerous and deceptive kleptocratic regime of 45; see, e.g., the comment of whatever or whoever is called in print "Light_and_Liberty."

Maybe I'm just noting the comnent activity of bots. Anybody who is a real person and would want to know the truth about 45's vile regime needs only to read every political article of the Guardian UK US edition today.

Enough said.

Evangelist9 , 15 Oct 2017 14:30
Democracy was not the norm the city states of ancient Hellas, but just one among a number of political systems. Whilst Athens had democracy in that all male citizens could vote and take part in the governing of the city (from the introduction of the system by Cleisthenes in 507 BC, and lasting for around 200 years), Sparta, for example, never had any form of democracy but two hereditary kings supported by a council of elders and the ephors. This system served the Spartans well because they were constantly on a war footing and their kings led their armies (hence the need for two kings, in case one was killed in battle, as happened with Leonidas).
Some city states had τύραννοι , or "tyrants", though it did not have its modern connotations of oppression and cruelty. It merely meant an absolute ruler, good or bad.
In ancient Athens, a citizen who chose not to vote was called an ιδιώτης, which gives us our modern word "idiot".

The ancient Greeks were innovators in politics (also. of course, a Greek word) - as in almost every other sphere of life - and would not have attached the modern value terms to them that we do today. They were the greatest experimenters in history and the debt we owe to them in the modern world is incalculable.

tjt77 -> winemaster2 , 15 Oct 2017 14:29
"the word that is no where mentioned in the Constitution is one big hoax and the perpetuation of the same," 'One nation under God' was not mentioned either.. but nothing is static and things tend to evolve or devolve..
There has been lot of chit chat about a 'Democratic Republic' in the 30+ yrs Ive resided in the USA... Seems to me that a more accurate description would be "Empire" given the big enforcement stick in over 5,000+ locations across the Globe added to the huge production of military weaponry that is sold to various despots every year. An Empire which, like all those before it, cannot sustain indefinitely.
GagaInGreenacres -> maddiemot , 15 Oct 2017 14:28
You know the masters are happy reading this sort of divisive posting. So the jocks hate the nerds, get over it. The jocks are the one's suffering the main burden of unemployment.
Light_and_Liberty , 15 Oct 2017 14:16
You got it totally backwards: can oligarchy survive in the face of democracy unchained.

The election of Donald Trump was a middle finger to the establishment ruling class (aka oligarchy) and the results are self evident. We have a Federal Bureau of Investigation investigating a phony dossier and calling it Russian Collusion. We have a special counsel looking for anything to indict him with vis-a-vis that phony dossier so as to remove him from office. We have the Republican party -- the president's own party -- intentionally doing nothing to forward the agenda of the people. We have embedded federal employees who are undermining the president's agenda. We have the media and Hollywood in full propaganda mode. We have Democrats aiding and abetting rioters and protesters and call it 'The Resistance'.

So, yes, it is interesting to see what happens when Democracy takes on Oligarchy and Oligarchy cannot accept the people's effrontery in voting for their own interests.

Dave514 -> gregwani , 15 Oct 2017 14:16
Lobbying is protected by the Constitution
GagaInGreenacres -> BayardDC , 15 Oct 2017 14:14
The taxation shenanigans only work as long as long as the economy is a zero sum or worse game. That is when austerity and targeted spending on "job creation" in the private sector means that money creation only happens for the wealthy. The first step in not taxing the stagnant wealth pools, but rather getting the fresh water of government spending heading onto the dried plains of the working class.

Remember the masters feel far more threatened that we do, they have never experienced an honest, respectful human relationship in there lives and have no sense of self reliance what so ever. Threatening taxation as a first step to reform, is certain to get maximum response even from the "liberal" majority of the masters.

Antoni Jaume -> ashleyhk , 15 Oct 2017 14:12
If you believe that, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell, a very good bargain...
gregwani , 15 Oct 2017 14:10
Good article in the causes - thanks for your work - but whilst the suggestion of "creating a more economically equal society" is obviously desirable, it's not exactly a practical recommendation against the context of the rest of the article.

Herein lies the key: "...they sustain all of this through a campaign finance and lobbying system that gives them undue influence over policy."

So we need to specifically advocate for curtailing corporate funding of political parties, Super PACs, etc. and have election (& referendum) campaigns financed from public funds and heavily regulated private citizen donations. If you can't vote, you can't contribute. This would remove a massive barrier to widespread reform in the shape of lobbyists and political patronage whilst ensuring that elected leaders are unshackled, with the freedom to govern based on evidence-based policy and long-term planning rather than just rewarding the corporate elite who put them there.

Matt Simonton -> blogdubdrib , 15 Oct 2017 14:06
The book brackets a discussion of Sparta, which was an atypical oligarchy (although it regularly supported more conventional oligarchies militarily). The focus of the book is not on the Athenian oligarchies of the later fifth century, but on oligarchic rule as practiced in the wider Greek world (e.g. Corinth, the Boeotian koinon, Thasos, Chios, Ephesus). These regimes did not follow Sparta's austerity model, but neither did the Athenian oligarchies of 411 and 404. Kolkhis above is correct on Sparta that while there was a mirage of austerity around Sparta, over the course of the fifth and fourth centuries it gradually developed into a more conventional oligarchy of extreme wealth stratification. One need only turn to the reforms of Agis and Cleomenes in the third century to see how unequal it had become. Stephen Hodkinson has done excellent work on wealth inequality within Sparta.
SN1789 , 15 Oct 2017 14:04
"Unity might come from personal relationships, trust, voting practices, or – as is more likely in today's meritocratic era – homogeneity in culture and values from running in the same limited circles." All of these features of elite unity are under girded by shared economic interests vis-a-vis the masses.
clshannon -> pbalrick , 15 Oct 2017 14:04
Not true, the standards are high enough, it is the fact that kids from disfunctional families and poverty cannot reach them. So the teachers just pass them on to the next grade anyway. You end up with poorly educated adults who 'know' education is useless according to their experience raising children who continue the cycle.
aquagreen -> imperium3 , 15 Oct 2017 14:03

The spoils of the Roman and British Empires mostly went to enrich the oligarchs while the vast majority of the population laboured in poverty.

Oh please, don't spoil our nostalgic view with inconvenient facts.

Ritula Fränkel , 15 Oct 2017 14:03
Thank you - excellent article.

Since ownership conventionally involves the direct enactment of control and choice upon things (at least according to the ethicist Daniel Sperling), might it not be an idea to examine the conventions upon which property law is built in the West, since property law often is held as a model for all other types?

Sperling suggests that ownership is not absolute but instead is inferred out of a confluence of 'interests' that surround an object - I'd like to think that a cultural shift towards the recognition of the interests , rather than the ownerships , that guide policy-making could indeed challenge an oligarchy that views law-making essentially as the defence of property.

letsbeclearaboutthis -> vinny59er , 15 Oct 2017 14:00
People who have no effing idea of why they are there, nor what the intricacies of the process are.
Kolkhis -> blogdubdrib , 15 Oct 2017 13:58
Yet it did all go wrong in Sparta. This links to a splendid source on ancient Greece and Rome. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0009%3Achapter%3D6%3Asection%3D13

Even with a ban on money - or as you say a literally iron currency, still land accumulated into ever fewer hands. This particular link is short enough to quote in full.

Spartan women, like men, could own land privately. Ordinary coined money was deliberately banned to try to discourage the accumulation of material goods, but the ownership of land remained extremely important in Spartan society. More and more land came into the hands of women in later Spartan history because the male population declined through losses in war, especially during the Classical Age. Moreover, Spartan women with property enjoyed special status as a result of the Spartan law forbidding the division of the portion of land originally allotted to a family. This law meant that, in a family with more than one son, all the land went to the eldest son. Fathers with multiple sons therefore needed to seek out brides for their younger sons who had inherited land and property from their fathers because they had no brother surviving. Otherwise, younger sons, inheriting no land from their own family, might fall into dire poverty.

letsbeclearaboutthis -> MrMorningDew , 15 Oct 2017 13:57
What makes you think the idiosynchracies of democratic governance stop at the federal level?
letsbeclearaboutthis , 15 Oct 2017 13:55
You have neglected to point out how oligarchs manage to convince ordinary people that their best interests coincide. In the recent NZ election, the National party, representing farmers and businesspeople, used the prospect of a tax giveaway to convince people they would be better off under National. It worked because of the number of people who look no further than their own immediate interests when voting. Who's to blame for that?
Danexmachina , 15 Oct 2017 13:48
The rich get richer and the poor get poorer because we work for them and buy their stuff. Then someone remembers the other uses for pitchforks and torches....

The current delay is because nobody lives on the land except corporate farmers, so the masses no longer have territory to defend except in Faecesbook.

blogdubdrib , 15 Oct 2017 13:47
"while he recognizes that ancient oligarchies were always drawn from the wealthy, a limitation of his work is that he focuses primarily on how oligarchs perpetuated their political power, not their economic power."

I'm intrigued about how this might apply to Sparta which had legal limitations on wealth, an iron currency and a tightly knit ruling class which eschewed wealth in pursuit of solidarity and military discipline.

This article, which shows no interest in the historical specifics, fair enough seems to be thinking of the oligarchic counter-currents within Athenian democracy eg the coup of 411, Plato's Republic etc - both of which incidentally were influenced by admiration for Sparta's austere Lycurgan constitution which banned wealth. After all, if you have democracy you give stupid people a vote and this lead if you do not have checks and balances against cynical populists to terrible decisions like the Sicilian Expedition, the executions in the wake of Arginusae ... contributory factors in the unnecessary defeat of 404.

Likewise Brexit, Trump.

trp981 , 15 Oct 2017 13:46
"As of oligarchy so of tyranny, the end is wealth." -- Aristotle, Politics

"With this typology behind him, Winters declares that America is already a civil oligarchy. To use the language of recent political campaigns, our oligarchs try to rig the system to defend their wealth. They focus on lowering taxes and on reducing regulations that protect workers and citizens from corporate wrongdoing."

Although the neoliberal turn since the coming of the Reagan exacerbated the trend towards an oligarchic concentration of political/economic power, the seeds were planted from the very beginning. The Electoral College and the Three-Fifths Compromise in the US Constitution are both examples of democratic procedures designed to ensure the preservation of concentration of political power in the hands of economic oligarchs, and to act as barriers to the dispersal and democratization of political power. We have already seen the effect of this constitutional design twice in the new century in the disparity between the outcome of the Electoral College and the popular vote in 2000 and 2016.

"Simonton offers another solution. He argues that democracy defeated oligarchy in ancient Greece because of 'oligarchic breakdown.' Oligarchic institutions are subject to rot and collapse, as are any other kind of institution. As the oligarchs' solidarity and practices start to break down, there is an opportunity for democracy to bring government back to the people."

The dangers of the ever-increasing extreme inequality can also be viewed from the perspective of its impact on the stability of the social formation. A decrease in stability manifests itself through an increase in the brittleness of the socioeconomic system and a decrease in its ability to respond to unforeseen shocks in a versatile manner. Although fortunately the adverse impact of extreme inequality is at present only affecting the majority of the population in the US, the effects will also be felt by the oligarchs in the long run, unless they manage to build an earth orbiting Elysium before the arrival of the long run. The dangers of extreme inequality and the instability it can cause are explored by various scholars including Acemoglu and Turchin . The latter models social instability as a time-dependent variable, and tracks its evolution over time. In the language of mathematics, this is known as a dynamical system approach. The particular variable the evolution of which he tracks is what he calls the political stress indicator, which combines the effects of three other variables (mass mobilization, elite mobilization, and state fiscal distress) and their nonlinear interaction through time. The dynamical behavior of each of these factors measures the stability of the overall socioeconomic system, and acts as a warning signal when regions of criticality and instability are breached. The formation of oligarchic interests maps into a subset of the variable "elite mobilization" in Turchin's model. According to his analysis we are at present on the cusp of a critical socioeconomic instability. The increasing instability of the neoliberal order implies the shifting of the ground beneath it. The previous givenness of the passive citizenry is becoming less so, and critical junctures might approach fast and unforeseeably.

fritsd -> Fibonaccisequins , 15 Oct 2017 13:45
America: the best Democracy money can buy!
Gunsarecivilrights -> Spudnik2 , 15 Oct 2017 13:41
I accept that what I see is the abhorrent stupidity that is socialistic and collectivist thoughts perpetuated by the progressive sheep.
RobertsJimm , 15 Oct 2017 13:40
According to Bill Bonner, author of Bill Bonner's Daily Reckoning, the Deep State of unelected insiders, government cronies, generals and their industrial allies, assorted lobbyists and back scratchers are the force that runs the government. Elections are theater. And the current performance is a tragic-comedy
CinBrooklyn , 15 Oct 2017 13:38
The US is NOT a democracy. It is a Republic. Let's start from a correct premise. The opening of this article is political dross. Am I wasting my time if I read further? Come on, Guardian.
MrMorningDew , 15 Oct 2017 13:34
When your colleague says the US is a democracy, you should tell him that is not correct. Point out to him that the person who finishes second in the vote count of our citizens wins the presidency and that 12% of our population controls 50% of the votes in the Senate. Gerrymandering allows a minority of votes to control the House. There is nothing democratic about the Federal Government, you need to get down to the state level to find democracy.
hardmoney -> RapidSloth , 15 Oct 2017 13:33
"A stark example of it is how they boast about freedom of speech."

And as useless as protest. The people's power is a lie formulated and carried out in Oz.

MeRaffey , 15 Oct 2017 13:32
Time to get creative. We have become so predictable, the wealthy can keep way ahead of us.

Fanning the flames of our asinine CULTURE WARS on effing FACEBOOK, was all the Russians needed to do to drive our presidential in their direction. The little boys who run global-tech-empires were no match for the Russians. Even now, when Trump is running the planet via TWITTER, our little tech-boys can't figure out how they lost control of their own creations.

Asymmetric power might be the key. Right now, the wealthy own a piece of every country and everyone on earth. We have been reduced to the size of an ant and we need to start thinking, and acting like ants. Instead of feeding our money to the wealthy, we need to starve them out.

Create disruption. Stop doing anything you normally do.

For example, order take-out anywhere you please, but refuse to go inside restaurant chains of any kind - diners, fast-food joints or upscale joints anywhere. Enter locally owned businesses only.

Stop putting your money in banks, stocks, bonds and other capitalist owned systems. Remove cold, hard cash from the system by putting your money in a safe deposit box at your local bank. Force the wealthy out of the closet, to try and pass laws allowing them to open your safe deposit bank.

Stop giving your old clothes and stuff to Goodwill, the Salvation Army or thrift shops. Stop sorting your trash - plastic, glass, metal and put all of it in your trash. Create a mess so big, so fast and so pervasive it becomes a crisis - for the wealthy trash hauler kings and their politicians.

Stay off facebook for one month. The next month, back on facebook, and out of Twitter.

Sign up for an email account anywhere but google and then use it for all of your on-line shopping only.

Stop being so predictable by using the same corporate chain grocery store, gas station or clothes store. Take your business to new places, try new things, get out more, mix it up, mix and match, but stop being predictable.

Confuse and baffle. Sign on to new news sources. If you're a liberal, sign onto Brietbart. If you're a conservative, sign onto Center for Progress. Use your new email to sign up for alerts from a dozen different sources, including foreign ones.

Do not buy anything, but go on-line and shop for shit you hate. Shop until you see ads for everything you hate, from music, to books, clothes and household stuff popping up on your computer screen like crazy.

Lie like crazy. Go on comment boards and pretend you are an entirely different person. Pretend you are a Russian, Canadian, or German, a conservative, a liberal, a Trump hater, a Trump lover. Your task is to confuse by lying. If you are 65, post pictures of your new baby. If you are 20, post pictures of you in nursing home bed. Get creative. Have fun. Lie like crazy.

Confuse. Baffle. Lie. STOP being predictable.

[Oct 16, 2017] Governing is complicated as laws and policies affect a diverse spectrum of people and situations. The average person, in my experience, is not inclined to spend the time necessary to understand good laws/policy in a complex society. The one safety check on mob rule is that most people don't become politically active until their situation is relatively dire

Highly recommended!
Republic is the policies system where leaders are obliged to leave after their maximum allowed term in office or if they lose the election (as opposed to the monarchy). the question who really select the rulers remain open, and in most cases people are not gven the right to do so -- the elite preselect candidates for which common people can vote in general elections.
Democracy is more then that -- it is unrealistic, utopian dream of direct rule of people, without intermediation of the elite. As such it is mostly a propaganda trick. Still be can strive for more fair representation by the elite. The key question here are the mechanisms of the filtration and the rotation of the elite as well as providing a channel for people from lower strata to enter the elite. Right now universities are still serving as a path to upward mobility but this channel is more and more blocked.
For example the US Senate is an example of almost life appointment to political position. Putting the limit on the time one can a senator might improve the situation, but it created the problem of short-termism. But taking into account to what extent senators are controlled by MIC and various other powerful lobbies it might not matter much. "It has been studied, and the fact is that members of the American Senate spend about two-thirds of their time raising money."
The class who holds economic power always also hold political power.
Notable quotes:
"... Democracy is a compromise, but it is one that virtually no one argues against. At least leaders are obliged to leave periodically. Churchill had it right when called democracy the worst form of government except for all the others. ..."
"... So, no thanks, I prefer representative democracy where I leave governance to a representative who I can vote for or against. I don't want to ever be involved in politics and hence I don't want decision left to groups of "community activists" of which i suspect you'd be quite happy to be part of. ..."
"... Trump is no Caesar but a Cataline. Just a sad sideshow in the slow implosion of Pax Americana. ..."
"... I'm sorry, but this is just not possible, at least not without something close to a revolution. In every Western country we like to call a democracy, the truth is that they have only an elaborate stage set of democracy. I prefer the term "plutocrat" to "oligarch," but whatever word you choose to use, the facts of society are the same. ..."
"... Power, no matter how it is granted, is power. And money is power, serious power. We can see this in a thousand aspects of our societies from the long-term success of someone like Harvey Weinstein in business to the many powerful lobbies which determine the direction of national policy. ..."
"... In the United States, the last national election was between a multi-billionaire and the best financed candidate in history, a woman who burnt through somewhere between $1.2 billion and $1.8 billion to lose. ..."
"... It has been studied, and the fact is that members of the American Senate spend about two-thirds of their time raising money. The American House of Representatives actually has call rooms were Representatives spend time every week raising money. And when I say "raising money" I don't mean the contributions which come from the likes of you or me. I mean big money from big sources of money, the only ones who really count. ..."
"... Something is out of balance in Washington. Corporations now spend about $2.6 billion a year on reported lobbying expenditures -- more than the $2 billion we spend to fund the House ($1.18 billion) and Senate ($860 million). It's a gap that has been widening since corporate lobbying began to regularly exceed the combined House-Senate budget in the early 2000s. ..."
"... Today, the biggest companies have upwards of 100 lobbyists representing them, allowing them to be everywhere, all the time. For every dollar spent on lobbying by labor unions and public-interest groups together, large corporations and their associations now spend $34. Of the 100 organizations that spend the most on lobbying, 95 consistently represent business. ..."
"... Above analysis needs to be translated into common everyday analogies. Such as Governments are gangs selling crack and guns and form co-ops with other gangs to stop killing each other. Leaders are psychopaths who kill anyone who calls them a bitch. ..."
"... Revolutions usually occur because of economic difficulties. As long as life is relatively stable/acceptable, most people will not challenge the status quo. Their voting (if they vote at all) is reflexive/rote. ..."
"... People will only rise up if you take away the minimum level of life for too many people. Many people are happy with the minimum. The left are deluded in they think they can gather together a lot of political protests for a life above the minimum. Many people are happy if they are simply getting by. You only have a problem when too many people are not getting by. ..."
"... I don't like an oligarchy but I'm just not sure where this pushback will come from. Many people are destined to be the bottom of whatever system is in place. ..."
"... We're delivered the illusion of democracy but look how quickly trump has been owned and is now going OTT in doing the bidding of the elites. ..."
"... People that are poor and oppressed CAN'T complain. That is the whole point of living in a dictatorship. ..."
"... Last November, a decent sized percentage of the American electorate appears to have voted for a 'politician' who they perceived to be the outsider. Presumably, their view was that there was little to differentiate between traditional republicans and democrats. ..."
"... Thank you for a wonderful article. Does the assumption "Oligarchy bad- Democracy good" really stand up to scrutiny in all cases? Democracy has had its failures, and some benign dictators have done very well for their people. ..."
"... Words and Technologies lead to abuse by rouge states like USA NSA and UK GCHQ spying on all citizens, Bannon type nonsense like racism is populism, white supremacy is judeo-christan values and racist Corporations like Breitbart and Cambridge Analytica pushing racist platforms like Trump and Brexit. Same Hypocrites are outraged when Russia and Iran infiltrate them back. Drone tech preceded 911 and preceded Bush war in Iraq and Afghanistan, (but were used on the sly). Now illegal wars are conducted using drones illegally claiming there is no law for drone wars. Spy Agencies and Internet censors have Sundays off. ..."
"... Understanding the connection between wealth and power shouldn't be all that difficult. Really. More wealth = more political power, always has. Waiting for the oligarchy to rot from within isn't what i would call a viable plan. Not when there is a far better and far more sure way to get the job done. Start with capping wealth accumulation. No one has a right to unlimited wealth accumulation. Allowing it leads to oligarchies and the death of democracies, as this article points out. ..."
"... When George Bush Junior followed his father into the White House and became the President he demonstrated that political power remains in the hands of a few and the system is rigged. It doesn't require academics to write comparisons to Greek culture to tell us the dice is always loaded. ..."
"... The USA is clearly a warlord power in how it behaves around the world, and anyone that sees the power of the militarised police, from Kent state to Black Lives, should recognise aspects of the Mafia type power. ..."
"... The point is not that the laws are used by Oligarchs, but that the constitution and system of laws one has brings forth olicharchs. Europe has laws, but the countries there are largely social democracies rather than imperialist presidencies. ..."
"... One of the finest reviews written in decades about a topic of supreme importance. Police and military officials are the brute arms and legs of the oligarchic elites. The coming attack on North Korea and Iran is the elite capturing new markets for their banking industry and manufacturing. Goldman Sachs and the investment banks are chomping at the bit for entre into southwest and east Asia. ..."
"... The article assumes that oligarchy is inherently bad. Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and Victorian England where all democratically sanctioned oligarchies. They where also the most successful cultures of their day. Perhaps a democratically sanctioned oligarchy is the most successful system of governance in large populations. ..."
"... Having been poor, I can't see the poor doing a better job of running the world. These articles never propose any workable solution to what we have now. Maybe the middle class could run things. Let's have a middle class revolution. That's more workable than 'power to the poor' which would end terribly. ..."
"... Their most effective power play is the perpetual game of economical musical chairs. The chairs are your living wage. Each round the masters take out their profit, removing one (or more) of the chairs from the next round. Now you have the choice of a death match with your neighbors for the remaining chairs or currying favour with the masters for the removed chair. ..."
"... Don't forget the role of the corporations and their associated 'think tanks'. In reality the USA is a corporatocracy as nicely pointed out by Bruce E. Levine in The Blog of the HUFFPOST in 2011. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/bruce-e-levine/the-myth-of-us-democracy-corporatocracy_b_836573.html ..."
"... "...in today's meritocratic era." This description is a myth put about by the oligarchs to justify their economic and political power. ..."
"... The UK had a brief glimpse of Democracy, sometime between the mid 1940's and the late 1970's. ..."
"... If you are thinking of the old Warsaw Pact countries, that was certainly an oligarchy based on party membership. ..."
"... Perhaps all political systems will tend towards oligarchy over time, as the people with the wherewithal learn how to make the system work for them and theirs. Anarchy cannot be the solution, but what is ...? ..."
"... So an oligarchy hiding behind a sham democracy is the best we can hope for? ..."
"... In a system where we economic power buys political power democracy will remain a myth or at best an illusion and as the author rightly points out a catastrophic event at the level of the depression or world war is needed to begin anew. I for one am not hoping for either ..."
"... So when the people take control and their populist leaders take charge and all their lots become better, don't they become the very oligarchs they despise? ..."
"... With this typology behind him, Winters declares that America is already a civil oligarchy. To use the language of recent political campaigns, our oligarchs try to rig the system to defend their wealth. They focus on lowering taxes and on reducing regulations that protect workers and citizens from corporate wrongdoing. ..."
"... Industrialization will prevent any meaningful revolution so without serious changes in who is winning elections for a sustained time oligarchy in the US is here to stay. Mechanized war means control of assets rather than numerical superiority is the key to conflict and despite the millions of rifles and assault weapons out there they wont do much against drone bombers and drone tanks. ..."
"... I was heartened by the idea that the oligarchy must necessarily rot from within as a result of its own cronyism. Much like the insider-dealing, back-stabbing, and incompetence of the present clique. ..."
"... 'The question is whether democracy will emerge from oligarchic breakdown – or whether the oligarchs will just strengthen their grasp on the levers of government.' - judging by evidence from time immemorial my money is definitely on the oligarchs. ..."
"... The combination of political and economic power is discussed in Plato's Republic. Either book 4 or 5. Whilst not a replacement for modern treatment, it is vital reading if you want to avoid the limitations of single perspectives. ..."
"... To understand the significance of psyops and infowar against the public, you should also look at Tacitus' book on Corrupt Eloquence. Again, not a replacement but a way of seeing the broader picture. ..."
"... The article starts with an assumption that is wrong. It seems to suggest that America can't become an oligarchy without the will of the people. That ignores the fact that America's electoral system attracts oligarchs or at least people who are happy to be puppets of oligarch to the top job. ..."
"... Surveillance, drones, a purchased media, a mercenary govt, an internet with too much democracy and thus too many hairsplitting doctrinal differences, and increasingly effective killing devices, means the international corporate oligarchs have been in control for some time and will be for awhile more ..."
Oct 16, 2017 | discussion.theguardian.com

FREDBUDTZ -> DocAdam , 15 Oct 2017 08:49

Yes, but the fundamental issue has always been, how do you chose the oligarch and how do you get rid of one who is clearly badly failing or abusing power?

Democracy is a compromise, but it is one that virtually no one argues against. At least leaders are obliged to leave periodically. Churchill had it right when called democracy the worst form of government except for all the others.

Oligarchy clearly serves some developing countries well, always assuming the oligarchs are people dedicated to doing their best for the country as a whole. And they do do that sometimes.

Yet, we have supported nonsense like killing a Gadaffi, who gave his people good government and peace, and pitching Libya into chaos.

All in the dishonest name of democracy from our dishonest "democratic" politicians.

Look at Israel, always slapping itself on the back as the Mideast's "only democracy," while it consorts happily with kings and tyrants in its neighborhood and continues to hold millions of people in occupation against their will.

DirDigIns -> jessthecrip , 15 Oct 2017 08:46

What's your definition then?

Representative democracy. Not democracy by the crowd. Not eternal referenda. Not local "community" groups holding a lot of power. This is simply the tyranny of small groups of ideological left and ring wing extremists who will sit for 4 hours on a wet Tuesday evening in some hall somewhere to get their way, knowing that most normal people have better things to do with their lives.

It is the way of socialist workers and the like at University with their endless union meetings and motions, hoping to sneak through some crap the "represents" the student body of thousands on the basis of less than 100 votes. When challenged as to legitimacy the response is always "no one is prevented from getting involved".

That I suspect is your type of democracy, as it certainly is Corbyn's.

So, no thanks, I prefer representative democracy where I leave governance to a representative who I can vote for or against. I don't want to ever be involved in politics and hence I don't want decision left to groups of "community activists" of which i suspect you'd be quite happy to be part of.

zippy200 , 15 Oct 2017 08:44
Marxism 101. Trouble is liberals on the one hand bang on about proletariat solidarity, yet on the other, peddle identity politics and turn a blind eye at increasingly fragmented communities. And when the modern oligarchs come out and play they scratch their heads and blame "the stupid".
DirDigIns -> ID059068 , 15 Oct 2017 08:40
Your comment is the equivalent of the reply one normally gets from lefties btl if you say you don't want to be paying more tax i.e. "go to Somalia".

The nuance that there may be something between high tax and low tax is lost on them.

In your case, the idea that having what Beveridge proposed originally as a "safety net" of state provision rather than a lifestyle choice of full coverage of everything is lost on you, hence you suggest the choice is a binary everything or nothing.

Yours is the ignorance of the socialist and yes, a lack of personal freedom in your thinking that I'd reject every time.

W.a. Thomaston , 15 Oct 2017 08:37
The first rule of oligarchic fight club: You do not talk about oligarchic fight club! Or apparently Republics? From the little golden book of how to overthrow oligarchs by overthrown oligarchs (*Minion Free Edition)
Amanzim -> JosephCamilleri , 15 Oct 2017 08:37
India has democracy, but it is suppressing Kashmiris who want to be independent. In the last decade more than 30000 people have been killed by Indian army. Why? Because they want freedom.
Koen Van Vugt -> aeris2001x2 , 15 Oct 2017 08:36
Trump is no Caesar but a Cataline. Just a sad sideshow in the slow implosion of Pax Americana.
awilson5280 -> amwink , 15 Oct 2017 08:36
Sparta used slave labor for its agricultural needs, freeing its people to train and form the backbone of its militaristic society.

I agree that the best system for managing human affairs remains an open question. Locke and Hobbes are not done debating, and Churchill's attribution that democracy is the worst system of governance aside from everything else we've tried bears consideration as well. (If you want to discard democracy, it only seems fair that you present a viable, well thought-out replacement.)

FREDBUDTZ , 15 Oct 2017 08:36
"How the oligarchy wins..." "... two recent books can teach us about defending democracy from oligarchs'

I'm sorry, but this is just not possible, at least not without something close to a revolution. In every Western country we like to call a democracy, the truth is that they have only an elaborate stage set of democracy. I prefer the term "plutocrat" to "oligarch," but whatever word you choose to use, the facts of society are the same.

Power, no matter how it is granted, is power. And money is power, serious power. We can see this in a thousand aspects of our societies from the long-term success of someone like Harvey Weinstein in business to the many powerful lobbies which determine the direction of national policy.

In the United States, the last national election was between a multi-billionaire and the best financed candidate in history, a woman who burnt through somewhere between $1.2 billion and $1.8 billion to lose.

It has been studied, and the fact is that members of the American Senate spend about two-thirds of their time raising money. The American House of Representatives actually has call rooms were Representatives spend time every week raising money. And when I say "raising money" I don't mean the contributions which come from the likes of you or me. I mean big money from big sources of money, the only ones who really count.

Look at a phenomenon like Macron in France. He came from nowhere and seems to have very limited talents, yet the plutocratic interests who backed him managed to grab the French Presidency. Former French President Sarkozy, a man who proved mostly ineffective, took huge sums from General Gaddafi to the richest woman in France, a woman rumored to not have been even fully competent at the time.

Not only are the contributors of big money - both individuals and lobby groups - at the center of Western politics, but our very institutions are constructed to accommodate leadership which does not reflect the views of a majority. This is done in many structural ways from district gerrymandering to the nature of the "first past the post" ballots we use.

Look at Britain's most utterly incompetent modern politician, David Cameron, the man who single-handedly created the entire Brexit mess plus engaged in a terrible lot of dishonest and brutal behavior in the Middle East. He was never popular and ruled with something over 35% of the vote. Britain's institutions accommodated that.

In Canada, Stephen Harper, the man most Canadians likely regard as the shabbiest ever to rule the country, managed to do terrible things with about 39% of the vote.

And everywhere, people don't vote for war, interests do, rich interests.

timiengels , 15 Oct 2017 08:34
We desperately need a revolution.....and to hang these oligarchs from the nearest yardarm or lamppost. Where is our Robspierre?
Boghaunter -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 08:34
Economist Ha Joon Chang wrote about the meteoric economic rise of South Korea. He talked about how governmental policy chose areas to heavily subsidize (like educating engineers) to stimulate growth. They were successful but Chang also talks about the "losers" left behind.

If we only look at economics and if we assume economic growth is always a positive with no downside (slums, environmental degradation, authoritarian oppression, rulers passing laws to protect their privilege, etc.), than your premise looks sound.

choowy , 15 Oct 2017 08:33
'...displays of wealth that might spark *envy'. Interesting article otherwise
ClaudiaRain01 -> Boghaunter , 15 Oct 2017 08:33
I think being dire is an important key. Maybe it is dire in Britain for many people now. It isn't here, in Australia, just yet although people are going backwards.

The other issue is a lack of political literacy. You have to convince people they need a revolution. Many people are poor because understanding things like politics and society is not their strong point.

You may have a large group of people who are prime to vote for socialism but you'd have to explain to them why and convince them not just take it as a given they will. You may have an overwhelming amount of people who would benefit from socialism and you could win the revolution then they'd do something dumb like vote for Trump or Pauline Hanson. It is not a given that having victorious numbers of struggling people means socialism will be voted for.

Fibonaccisequins , 15 Oct 2017 08:32
Something is out of balance in Washington. Corporations now spend about $2.6 billion a year on reported lobbying expenditures -- more than the $2 billion we spend to fund the House ($1.18 billion) and Senate ($860 million). It's a gap that has been widening since corporate lobbying began to regularly exceed the combined House-Senate budget in the early 2000s.

Today, the biggest companies have upwards of 100 lobbyists representing them, allowing them to be everywhere, all the time. For every dollar spent on lobbying by labor unions and public-interest groups together, large corporations and their associations now spend $34. Of the 100 organizations that spend the most on lobbying, 95 consistently represent business.

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/04/how-corporate-lobbyists-conquered-american-democracy/390822/

TheResult , 15 Oct 2017 08:29
Above analysis needs to be translated into common everyday analogies. Such as Governments are gangs selling crack and guns and form co-ops with other gangs to stop killing each other. Leaders are psychopaths who kill anyone who calls them a bitch.
barciad -> TheWindsOfWinter93 , 15 Oct 2017 08:29
You say that, but wind the clock back 80 years and they were saying the same things about tanks and airplanes. Modern day, 'urbanised feudalism' with the petrol engine instead of horses. Otherwise known as Fascism. Didn't quite work out did it...
Elgrecoandros -> jessthecrip , 15 Oct 2017 08:29
I don't think Jeremy Corbyn should be punished for having different political opinions to me, nor do I want Jacob Rees-Mogg punished because his opinions differ from mine, whereas you were calling for the latter to be punished for his political views.

For most people the options for dealing with those of a different political opinion are not either 1) imprisonment or 2) confiscation of property/forced labour. Those are extremist positions.

Boghaunter -> ClaudiaRain01 , 15 Oct 2017 08:27
I find truth in your words. I used to understand the fear of "mob rule", which democracy seemed vulnerable to. Governing is complicated and, ideally, is broad-minded as laws and policies affect a diverse spectrum of people and situations. The average person, in my experience, is not inclined to spend the time necessary to understand good laws/policy in a complex society. The one safety check on mob rule is that most people don't become politically active until their situation is relatively dire.

Revolutions usually occur because of economic difficulties. As long as life is relatively stable/acceptable, most people will not challenge the status quo. Their voting (if they vote at all) is reflexive/rote.

Most of the time, democracies are fundamentally guided by people who have a deeper interest in governance. As long as the engaged populace takes reasonable account of society as a whole, there will be no upheavals. When the scales tip too far we get an "acting out" that is unrestrained and chaotic and understandable.

This is simplistic and not meant to be absolute. Just an observation.

ClaudiaRain01 -> imperium3 , 15 Oct 2017 08:25
People will only rise up if you take away the minimum level of life for too many people. Many people are happy with the minimum. The left are deluded in they think they can gather together a lot of political protests for a life above the minimum. Many people are happy if they are simply getting by. You only have a problem when too many people are not getting by.
ClaudiaRain01 -> JosephCamilleri , 15 Oct 2017 08:22
In Australia plenty of people choose to live off the minimum wage. Many choose not to work full time. The state picks up after them with health care and income top ups. They are highly unlikely to make an effort to overthrow the oligarchy or the plutocracy. Why bother when you can work 30 hours a week at an easy job and get along just fine in life.

I don't like an oligarchy but I'm just not sure where this pushback will come from. Many people are destined to be the bottom of whatever system is in place.

Fibonaccisequins , 15 Oct 2017 08:20
In the UK we have circa 1200 quangos controlling our lives, and look how the tories have recently abused select committee appointments. In the USA they have organisations such as the council on foreign relations which wields huge power across all areas of policy, combined with the intricacies of all the mechanisms it prevents democracy from taking shape. We're delivered the illusion of democracy but look how quickly trump has been owned and is now going OTT in doing the bidding of the elites.
amwink , 15 Oct 2017 08:19
By "Greece" I suspect this article means "Athens". Sparta had a different system and was not subjected to these issues. In fact, that system was superior in many ways, but apparently all has to be judged according to the rule that democracy would be the best.
MattSpanner , 15 Oct 2017 08:16
Classical Greece's economy ran on slave labour. Something Tories hanker after with austerity, zero-hours contracts and non-existent job security.
aeris2001x2 , 15 Oct 2017 08:16
Or one from the elite arises and takes power and skips democracy and devolves the US straight to tyranny, as also forewarned by the classics. Its a good job Trump never got in last year...oh fuck
JosephCamilleri -> TheWindsOfWinter93 , 15 Oct 2017 08:15
People that are poor and oppressed CAN'T complain. That is the whole point of living in a dictatorship. Should you be interested in the truth of what is happening in that empire, just navigate different news sites.

Authorities in Xinjiang Extend Uyghur Persecution to Region's Ethnic Kyrgyz (RFA)
Justice for Some, Notoriety for Others: Public Law Enforcement in China (DH)
Xinjiang Seethes Under Chinese Crackdown (NYT)
Clashes as Ethnic Evenk Herders Protest China's Grazing Ban in Inner Mongolia (RFA)
Chinese Dissident 'Utterly Destroyed' in Detention (FB)
China executed 2,400 people in 2013: report (AJ)
Chinese Dissident Calls on China to Stop Persecuting His Family (VOA)

SimonGKelly -> Churchman72 , 15 Oct 2017 08:12
China is indeed a good example.

What about the GOP and the Democratic parties as competing oligopolies? Last November, a decent sized percentage of the American electorate appears to have voted for a 'politician' who they perceived to be the outsider. Presumably, their view was that there was little to differentiate between traditional republicans and democrats.

Stateless1 , 15 Oct 2017 08:12
Gerrymandering helps get the result you want.
https://img.washingtonpost.com/pbox.php?url=http://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/files/2014/05/crimes-against-geography.png&w=1484&op=resize&opt=1&filter=antialias&t=20170517
shtove -> Slo27 , 15 Oct 2017 08:09
Once you use the concept of class you out yourself as the oligarch's willing executioner. There's no proof that democracy can't adapt and survive, yet a catastrophist will insist it's so.
imperium3 -> ClaudiaRain01 , 15 Oct 2017 08:08

They aspire to be like the top? No, they don't. No revolution is coming because plenty on the bottom are fine if they are just getting along in life. Aspiring to be like the top would involve too much hard work for many.

If you push the bottom too far you just end up with a correction at the next election, that's it.

And yet the Bourbons do not still rule France, neither the Romanovs nor the Bolsheviks rule Russia, and the once-mighty Habsburgs are a distant memory.

Of course, the reason our democracies are not supposed to go the same way is that the populace can change things themselves through elections rather than having to rise up and overthrow the whole system. But what happens when the electoral system fails? What happens if, no matter how the electorate votes, the political class thumbs its nose at them and carries on as usual?

To take the most obvious example of democratic failure - the US - where will the American electorate go after Trump? Can we seriously expect the same people who voted for him, and undoubtedly did not get what they wanted, to flock to support some business-as-usual Democrat or oily Republican?

ConBrio , 15 Oct 2017 08:07

Winters declares that America is already a civil oligarchy. To use the language of recent political campaigns, our oligarchs try to rig the system to defend their wealth. They focus on lowering taxes and on reducing regulations that protect workers and citizens from corporate wrongdoing.

If there's ever been a country not ruled by oligarchy I'd like to see it.

The United States vacillates between a sly oligarchy of the Left who use the dole as its virtue signaling to garner votes, and the Right whose use of government for self aggrandizement is more obvious.

Indeed, any notion that the genetic impulse to self aggrandizement will change is spurious.

As such, the only and imperfect defense, is to limit government power thus reducing the oligarchs' potential for self dealing and, more importantly, requiring frequent elections which although in the long run don't eliminate the problem, tend to engender compromise and periodic shifts in power from one faction to another.

James Madison's article No. 10 of The Federalist elucidates the principles. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed10.aspof

Churchman72 -> SimonGKelly , 15 Oct 2017 08:01
I think today's China is a good example of what a modern oligarchy looks like- a Party structure that provides privilege through membership, but no clearly definable ideology other than consolidating power and projecting it. It is ironic that a supposedly socialist country devotes so much energy into preventing labour from organising into unions and has such massive inequality.

Russia on the other hand is a sham democracy where the structure of democracy is in place, but thoroughly eviscerated so that it exists only to confer legitimacy on the oligarchy (with Putin and his inner circle at the core). If Putin was to die suddenly (or become incapacitated) there may be a real world example of oligarchical collapse as rival factions try to occupy the vacant centre of power. It could very well create a space in which genuine grassroots democracy could grow, but equally it could tear the country apart.

Neither country has a history of democracy, and the rule of law isn't anywhere near as strong as in liberal western democracies, and is easily subverted. Russia particularly has a culture of political coups, as the country relies on unequal power distribution to function, making separatist movements a very real threat.

JosephCamilleri -> TheWindsOfWinter93 , 15 Oct 2017 07:58
They are complaining, but you can't hear them, because they are oppressed and colonized and disenfranchised. In the country, in inner Mongolia, in Turkestan, and in Tibet, and when they want to claim their rights and their family gets persecuted for a few generations. And if anyone talks about it, the Communist party threatens to not trade with you.
imperium3 -> TheWindsOfWinter93 , 15 Oct 2017 07:58
Precisely. In a world where a handful of people could control a whole army, who's to stop that handful from assuming total control over the rest of us?

I'm not even sure there's much that can be done to stop it, since the nations that refuse to embrace new military technology tend to get defeated by other nations that have no such qualms.

EquilibriaJones -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 07:57
Successful until people start missing 3 meals. Then the pitchforks come out.
jessthecrip -> Elgrecoandros , 15 Oct 2017 07:57
I was responding to a poster who called for imprisonment for those concerned. Do you think imprisonment would be more democratic?
DocAdam , 15 Oct 2017 07:55
Thank you for a wonderful article. Does the assumption "Oligarchy bad- Democracy good" really stand up to scrutiny in all cases? Democracy has had its failures, and some benign dictators have done very well for their people.
ID059068 -> DirDigIns , 15 Oct 2017 07:54
I sincerely wish you to have the same freedom to 'live freely and succeed or fail due to their own personal talents' as my grandparents had in the 20s and 30s.

That is, the freedom to be unemployed without help for years (but with the freedom to grow what food they could in the back yard of a slum in an industrial city). The freedom to see some of their children die because there was no treatment if you were diabetic and poor. The freedom to send your 13 year old son to work with a broken foot (stamped on by one of the cart-horses he tended) because he was the only earner. The freedom to work hungry for two days until payday because bills had been paid (rent, coal) and there was no money... I could go on and on. I really hope you get to enjoy all this freedom. And please do emjoy it without a murmur of complaint because being helped by all your neighbours that make up 'the state' isn't freedom, is it?

JosephCamilleri -> ClaudiaRain01 , 15 Oct 2017 07:54
Who is 'we'? It depends where you were born.
JosephCamilleri -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 07:52
Both Greece and Rome went through quire a few multiple systems in multiple situations. It does not make sense to say they are singular political types at all.
Elgrecoandros -> jessthecrip , 15 Oct 2017 07:51
Considering that in another thread you called on forced labour and confiscation of private property for those you disagreed with politically, your version of 'proper democracy' would have been called 'τυραννία' by the Ancient Greeks.
ClaudiaRain01 -> Swoll Man , 15 Oct 2017 07:50
No, working with poor people convinced me socialism is no better. I'm not inclined to work hard and have to support people who choose to work part time and collect benefits part time as a lifestyle choice.
imperium3 -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 07:50
Successful for whom? All of those were extremely unequal societies. The spoils of the Roman and British Empires mostly went to enrich the oligarchs while the vast majority of the population laboured in poverty.

The majority was only able to prosper once the power of the oligarchs was broken, either from above (the early Roman emperors tore the old senatorial class to pieces) or from below (gradual democratic and labour reforms in Britain conceded for fear of a potential revolution).

TheWindsOfWinter93 -> GagaInGreenacres , 15 Oct 2017 07:45
That would work fine before the age of automation now where humans are taken out of the job scope entirely. Then it becomes a lot harder to justify on a philosophical, ethical and moral level the logic of giving money to people for doing nothing (because there's nothing left for them to do).

You're talking about a fundamental change in the mentality that we reap what we sow, that our efforts directly correspond to the rewards and resources we gain at the end of it. I don't think that's possible. Neither is it desirable.

unclestinky , 15 Oct 2017 07:44

two World Wars and a Great Depression largely wiped out the holdings of the extremely wealthy

There was also a couple of generations trained under arms and seasoned under fire. There was a mixing of classes unlike any other and enough people who would not put up with a return to the status quo.
TheWindsOfWinter93 -> twilightegal , 15 Oct 2017 07:43
A world war is entirely necessary. To assume that peace is inherently good for humanity as a whole in terms of population numbers, technological advancements, or political stability is ridiculous in my honest opinion. Peace represents stagnation. It relies too much on ever-convoluted webs of interdependence (like that Concert of Europe before WWI, once declared as peace for its time).

The American revolutionaries had it right when they said that the tree of liberty regularly requires the blood of tyrants and patriots to continue flourishing.

TheResult , 15 Oct 2017 07:41
Big Words usages up above

Words and Technologies lead to abuse by rouge states like USA NSA and UK GCHQ spying on all citizens, Bannon type nonsense like racism is populism, white supremacy is judeo-christan values and racist Corporations like Breitbart and Cambridge Analytica pushing racist platforms like Trump and Brexit. Same Hypocrites are outraged when Russia and Iran infiltrate them back. Drone tech preceded 911 and preceded Bush war in Iraq and Afghanistan, (but were used on the sly). Now illegal wars are conducted using drones illegally claiming there is no law for drone wars. Spy Agencies and Internet censors have Sundays off.

TheWindsOfWinter93 -> barciad , 15 Oct 2017 07:41
Interesting idea. So the core of a nation's military power decides what politics makes it up (dependent on who's got the most access to the power to kill). In that case the automation of war for drones and robots cannot be anything but bad news: they are the new cavalry, affordable only by the very rich and powerful and so awesome in destructive power at almost no human cost if they are destroyed that they would make the perfect enforcers for a strict feudal order.
apacheman , 15 Oct 2017 07:39
Understanding the connection between wealth and power shouldn't be all that difficult. Really. More wealth = more political power, always has. Waiting for the oligarchy to rot from within isn't what i would call a viable plan. Not when there is a far better and far more sure way to get the job done. Start with capping wealth accumulation. No one has a right to unlimited wealth accumulation. Allowing it leads to oligarchies and the death of democracies, as this article points out.

Set the cap at a reasonably high figure to reward hard work, innovation, etc. Somewhere around $5B should work. Why $5 billion? Because of the ~2K billionaires in the world, most, like 80-85% or so, have less than that amount, and it becomes a break point within the oligarchy, dividing their unity. Think of the egos involved: many of those with $1-5B would relish seeing the 200+ hyper rich brought within striking distance of equality on their level.

Second, agree with the politicians that taxpayers know best how to spend their money.

Change the budget process so that the politicians pass the budget, but the people decide whether or not to fund it. Establish dedicated tax payment centers so when tax time rolls around, the proposed budget is available for the citizenry to examine.

Then allow the taxpayer to fund those parts they agree are necessary and make sense, by establishing discrete step amounts scaled to the size of the tax bill, e.g., say your tax bill came to 1582 whatevers, dollars, pounds, etc. At that size your increment might be 25 or 50, let's say 50 for argument's sake.

That means our taxpayer could fund up to 31 different parts of the budget. To ensure that the money gets spread around, we can limit the number of allocations to any given part to 3 or 4, and close a choice when its budget request is met. Anything left over that doesn't meet the minimum step level would go into the general fund for the politicians to allocate, either topping off programs that didn't quite get their budget requests filled or funding something that didn't get sufficient funds from the public to be viable.

Now here's were you can get voluntary revenue enhancement: allow the taxpayer to top off the leftover amount for the privilege of allocating it themselves rather than surrendering it to politicians' control. That amount wouldn't be applied against future taxes, it is payment-for-privilege. In our example the taxpayer could add 18 to the leftover 32, a choice many would make.

Third, bring voting into the modern era: use those handy tax payment centers both to vote in local, state, and national elections (while changing the voting period from a day to a week) and to provide feedback to politicians. Whenever anything controversial comes up, like healthcare or bailouts or war, allow the citizenry to override their representative's choice of vote if a majority of voters choose to vote the other way on that particular matter.

Fourth, establish mental standards for running for political office. Test would-be candidates to determine whether or not they are sociopaths. I'd prefer to not allow such people to hold political offices or appointments, but would accept just identifying them so voters know what they will get.

Taken together, those steps would ensure that democracy is strong and safe from co-option by oligarchs, both directly and indirectly by providing a genuine incentive to pay attention to issues.

TheWindsOfWinter93 -> Slo27 , 15 Oct 2017 07:36
Indeed you're right. And to be fair, why should he? The world's spent long enough whining on about great powers like the US trying to foist their ideas of a better world by their own rules and standards on everyone else (democracy spreading anyone?), so if we are to truly put words to action then an isolationist US allowing for other powers to fill the vacuum and return the world to multipolarity cannot be seen as anything other than a good thing.
TheWindsOfWinter93 -> JosephCamilleri , 15 Oct 2017 07:34
That doesn't sound very much like China here which is used as an example of a dictatorship (more de-facto than de-jure since the Chinese president and premier only has the absolute writ of God for ten years).

Apart from those in Hong Kong, there really isn't much of anyone in China's domestic population complaining about being oppressed, unfree, colonised, or unable to become who they can be.

barciad -> N1LiberalElitist , 15 Oct 2017 07:31
It really some downs to how you define the term 'Liberal'. Socially Liberal? Economically Liberal? The latter being a modern euphemism for being about as reactionary as it gets.
philipl -> ValuedCustomer , 15 Oct 2017 07:28
But that is breaking down as middle class benefits (pensions etc.) begin to disappear. There is a growing awareness , I think, that inequality is becoming extreme between the very rich and everyone else. Good article, anyway.
JosephCamilleri -> TheWindsOfWinter93 , 15 Oct 2017 07:28
People in dictatorships are oppressed, unfree, colonised, and unable to become who they could be. Most people want to be more than just alive.
DirDigIns -> WhatTheTruth , 15 Oct 2017 07:27
I'd rather describe it as socialism giving everybody endless free stuff, hence we get more and more reliant on the state and those who wish to live freely and succeed or fail due to their own personal talents see the idea of personal responsibility denuded everywhere.

Socialists seem to think "freedom" is achieved by having the state always there in everything to back you up, to a lot of the rest of us that is most definitely not freedom at all.

mrpukpuk , 15 Oct 2017 07:26
We are all well divided. So the oligarchy is safe.
Russell Sanders , 15 Oct 2017 07:24
When George Bush Junior followed his father into the White House and became the President he demonstrated that political power remains in the hands of a few and the system is rigged. It doesn't require academics to write comparisons to Greek culture to tell us the dice is always loaded.
JosephCamilleri -> TheWindsOfWinter93 , 15 Oct 2017 07:23
That would depend on the quality and sophistication of the constitution. Social multi-party representative democracies with a house of review don't decay like executive presidencies do.
JosephCamilleri , 15 Oct 2017 07:19

"In civil oligarchies, governance is collective and enforced through laws, rather than by arms. Democracy defeated oligarchy in ancient Greece because of 'oligarchic breakdown.' With this typology behind him, Winters declares that America is already a civil oligarchy."

Two things.

1. The USA is clearly a warlord power in how it behaves around the world, and anyone that sees the power of the militarised police, from Kent state to Black Lives, should recognise aspects of the Mafia type power.

2. The point is not that the laws are used by Oligarchs, but that the constitution and system of laws one has brings forth olicharchs. Europe has laws, but the countries there are largely social democracies rather than imperialist presidencies.

Also, I don't think anyone interested in politics does not understand that material economical structure is the basis, and ideology is just the result or sales pitch.

Dan2017 -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 07:18
Unfortunately, your view is one that is becoming more prevalent, on the left and right. All about ensuring that the correct thinking people are not held back by the plebs. Ti that effect they accuse them of false consciousness by one half and being anti-business by the other.
FranklinDRoosevelt , 15 Oct 2017 07:17
One of the finest reviews written in decades about a topic of supreme importance. Police and military officials are the brute arms and legs of the oligarchic elites. The coming attack on North Korea and Iran is the elite capturing new markets for their banking industry and manufacturing. Goldman Sachs and the investment banks are chomping at the bit for entre into southwest and east Asia. Articles and reviews like this one is WHY I HAVE READ THE GUARDIAN FOR DECADES.
GagaInGreenacres -> TragicomedyBeholder , 15 Oct 2017 07:16
The government need not favour the down trodden, it need only offer a job at a living wage to anyone willing to contribute to their community. This would make us all equal enough.
Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 07:15
The article assumes that oligarchy is inherently bad. Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and Victorian England where all democratically sanctioned oligarchies. They where also the most successful cultures of their day. Perhaps a democratically sanctioned oligarchy is the most successful system of governance in large populations.
ClaudiaRain01 -> TheWindsOfWinter93 , 15 Oct 2017 07:15
They aspire to be like the top? No, they don't. No revolution is coming because plenty on the bottom are fine if they are just getting along in life. Aspiring to be like the top would involve too much hard work for many.

If you push the bottom too far you just end up with a correction at the next election, that's it.

ClaudiaRain01 , 15 Oct 2017 07:13
Having been poor, I can't see the poor doing a better job of running the world. These articles never propose any workable solution to what we have now. Maybe the middle class could run things. Let's have a middle class revolution. That's more workable than 'power to the poor' which would end terribly.
qvideh -> YurekandTina Kulski , 15 Oct 2017 07:11
Plutocracy!
GagaInGreenacres , 15 Oct 2017 07:11
Their most effective power play is the perpetual game of economical musical chairs. The chairs are your living wage. Each round the masters take out their profit, removing one (or more) of the chairs from the next round. Now you have the choice of a death match with your neighbors for the remaining chairs or currying favour with the masters for the removed chair.

The masters need only cut out some unpopular group and tell some convenient story about how they brought it on themselves in order to get your support.

The only way for democracy to thrive is for the community to supply a new a chair for every one taken by the masters, as was done in the post war period up till the mid seventies. Since then it has been economic musical chairs with austerity, budget constraints and irreducible unemployment as far as they eye can see.

Slo27 -> Amanzim , 15 Oct 2017 07:09
Isolationist Trump still intends to rule the world, he just does not want to get involved in making it better.
Slo27 -> TheWindsOfWinter93 , 15 Oct 2017 07:07

don't they become the very oligarchs they despise?

In America, they actually chose an oligarch to battle the oligarch, and somehow that is not how it is panning out.
YurekandTina Kulski , 15 Oct 2017 07:06
Don't forget the role of the corporations and their associated 'think tanks'. In reality the USA is a corporatocracy as nicely pointed out by Bruce E. Levine in The Blog of the HUFFPOST in 2011. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/bruce-e-levine/the-myth-of-us-democracy-corporatocracy_b_836573.html
Redredemptionist , 15 Oct 2017 07:06
"...in today's meritocratic era." This description is a myth put about by the oligarchs to justify their economic and political power.
Slo27 , 15 Oct 2017 07:05
And yet, the American voters brought in Trump the oligarch, and tasked him with destroying the institutions that perpetuate oligarchy.

Democracy will be destroyed through utter stupidity of the lower classes. They can easily be egged to see an enemy in their fellow citizens and turn to oligarchs for protection. Specifically, in the US, the white majority wants Trump to prevent a transition into whites becoming the largest minority, instead of the majority. These are their expectations and they are prepared to tolerate any outrage as long as they think he is working towards that goal.

Gunsarecivilrights -> WhatTheTruth , 15 Oct 2017 07:05
Rights and socialism do not belong in the same sentence. Are you drunk?
barciad , 15 Oct 2017 07:03
The UK had a brief glimpse of Democracy, sometime between the mid 1940's and the late 1970's. I should also add that Aristotle included a third factor. The size and nature of ones armed forces:-
  1. If the core was cavalry, then it would be a feudal monarchy (Macedon, Persia)
  2. If it was elite heavy infantry, then it would be an oligarchy (Sparta, Rome)
  3. If it was through either mass light infantry or naval based, then it would be a Democracy (Athens)

Now consider the UK after 1945, you have a this huge 'citizen's army' that has been out in field (one way or another) for over half a decade. Add onto that the huge losses of wealth and (more importantly) the alliances that were forced upon us. There could be nothing but an effective mass popular Democracy in this country. And for the first time in its history.

But alas, the Oligarchs bided their time and when the first sign of crisis came along, the struck. The 1970's for fucks sake, which were nothing compared to the cataclysms between 1914-1914, that same said Oligarchs created. Yet you would not think it the way those people bang on about it. Thus now, we have the 2010's, a decade that we will be warning our children about.

With the subheading 'What happens when you forget the lessons of history'.

SimonGKelly -> WhatTheTruth , 15 Oct 2017 06:59
If you are thinking of the old Warsaw Pact countries, that was certainly an oligarchy based on party membership.

However, how far are we from that in a system which guarantees that only one of two parties will end up in power? A glance across the pond shows how that is simply another form of oligarchy generating a hereditary establishment. That was HC's biggest problem.

Perhaps all political systems will tend towards oligarchy over time, as the people with the wherewithal learn how to make the system work for them and theirs. Anarchy cannot be the solution, but what is ...?

Redredemptionist -> TragicomedyBeholder , 15 Oct 2017 06:54
So an oligarchy hiding behind a sham democracy is the best we can hope for?
TheWindsOfWinter93 -> Amanzim , 15 Oct 2017 06:53
Who cares about whether democracy or dictatorship is better. As long as the people get richer and safer and happier with their lot in life, that's all that matters. Humans don't nearly live long enough to care more than just staying alive and bettering our own lot in life.
twilightegal , 15 Oct 2017 06:51
In a system where we economic power buys political power democracy will remain a myth or at best an illusion and as the author rightly points out a catastrophic event at the level of the depression or world war is needed to begin anew. I for one am not hoping for either
NotSoLittleMouse , 15 Oct 2017 06:49
There is also an economic minimum the population needs to be at. Dividing the classes only goes so far.

There's an argument on the oligarch needing the masses to finance their wealth, especially through utilities and monopolies (privately run NHS by token choice of companies), but it almost like the oligarchs don't need the masses anymore and can defend their wealth via stock exchange and governmental debts.

I would say that the biggest reason for the success of the oligarchs is making security, defined and framed by them, more important for the mass than freedom.

TheWindsOfWinter93 , 15 Oct 2017 06:49
So when the people take control and their populist leaders take charge and all their lots become better, don't they become the very oligarchs they despise?

What seems to be missing is recognizing the fact that very often in human society those on the bottom aspire to be like the top, even if they disagree with their personalities they don't disagree with their idea of prosperity and power. So it's going to be endlessly cyclical. The people take power and become oligarchs in their own right. Then someone has to take over on the bottom and then it all starts again.

redleader , 15 Oct 2017 06:48

With this typology behind him, Winters declares that America is already a civil oligarchy. To use the language of recent political campaigns, our oligarchs try to rig the system to defend their wealth. They focus on lowering taxes and on reducing regulations that protect workers and citizens from corporate wrongdoing.

Aristotle would have argued that countries are oligarchies when they have oligarchical constitutions.

Amanzim , 15 Oct 2017 06:47
Democracy works much better when all have economic prosperity. It should also look after the minorities by giving them equal rights and opportunities. I see democracy in India and look up to how it has remained a free country. But there are more than 300 million people in India who are so poor that they cannot afford much in life, most of them live on roads. China on the other hand is a dictatorship, but has reduced poverty of more than 400 million people in the last few decades. Which path should others follow?

America under Trump is making the country isolationist. As Economist wrote so well: "The world does not want an isolationist United States or a dictatorship in China. Alas, it may get both."

Andy Roberts , 15 Oct 2017 06:43
Industrialization will prevent any meaningful revolution so without serious changes in who is winning elections for a sustained time oligarchy in the US is here to stay. Mechanized war means control of assets rather than numerical superiority is the key to conflict and despite the millions of rifles and assault weapons out there they wont do much against drone bombers and drone tanks.
kizbot , 15 Oct 2017 06:41
in Greece the oligarchs rule through corruption. Everyone is tainted so the system cannot be overthrown without going down with it.
mill1806 , 15 Oct 2017 06:40
I was heartened by the idea that the oligarchy must necessarily rot from within as a result of its own cronyism. Much like the insider-dealing, back-stabbing, and incompetence of the present clique.
Keith Fraser -> TragicomedyBeholder , 15 Oct 2017 06:37
Not all measures aimed at improving equality involve giving extra privileges to currently disadvantaged groups - one can remove privileges/other advantages from groups which are doing more than OK, like curtailing legal tax-dodges which are only of use/available to the very wealthy. One can also remove barriers which (deliberately or not) impact people unequally, such as voter-suppression tricks.

This set of images is a very simplistic but helpful way of explaining the difference between different ways to deal with inequality:

https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1600/1*owl5RUCkVYPzZi9tuyC54Q.jpeg

N1LiberalElitist -> ValuedCustomer , 15 Oct 2017 06:37
If you think that's "contemporary bourgeois liberal strategy" then the oligarchs are winning. They've told you the woes of the world are all the fault of the liberal middle classes, and you've believed them.
abugaafar , 15 Oct 2017 06:35

The question is whether democracy will emerge from oligarchic breakdown

or demagoguery.

Nada89 , 15 Oct 2017 06:33
'The question is whether democracy will emerge from oligarchic breakdown – or whether the oligarchs will just strengthen their grasp on the levers of government.' - judging by evidence from time immemorial my money is definitely on the oligarchs.
jazzdrum , 15 Oct 2017 06:32
For me , this film says it all and clearly too. https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/everything-rich-man-trick /
imipak , 15 Oct 2017 06:30
The combination of political and economic power is discussed in Plato's Republic. Either book 4 or 5. Whilst not a replacement for modern treatment, it is vital reading if you want to avoid the limitations of single perspectives.

To understand the significance of psyops and infowar against the public, you should also look at Tacitus' book on Corrupt Eloquence. Again, not a replacement but a way of seeing the broader picture.

Remember, we wouldn't be in this mess if we had a clear picture, but we have a different perspective to these past writers. Philosophers and elephants. You've got to combine the visions and weight them correctly.

Hibernica , 15 Oct 2017 06:30
The article starts with an assumption that is wrong. It seems to suggest that America can't become an oligarchy without the will of the people. That ignores the fact that America's electoral system attracts oligarchs or at least people who are happy to be puppets of oligarch to the top job.

If Trump hadn't been elected Hillary Clinton would now be President. More intelligent certainly and less likely to destroy the country but still backed by countless very wealthy people who would have been expecting payback for their support.

So rather than ask how America can avoid becoming an oligarchy I'd be asking if there was ever a time when it wasn't an oligarchy.

ValuedCustomer -> ValuedCustomer , 15 Oct 2017 06:30
In fact the whole article is fantastic, I've been relying on instinct and Michels' (accurate but primitive) Iron Law of Oligarchy for this stuff.
WhatTheTruth , 15 Oct 2017 06:29
What about the oligarchy of Socialism where giving people too many rights neutralises everything to a standstill?
ValuedCustomer , 15 Oct 2017 06:25
While the ruling class must remain united for an oligarchy to remain in power, the people must also be divided so they cannot overthrow their oppressors. Oligarchs in ancient Greece thus used a combination of coercion and co-optation to keep democracy at bay. They gave rewards to informants and found pliable citizens to take positions in the government.

These collaborators legitimized the regime and gave oligarchs beachheads into the people. In addition, oligarchs controlled public spaces and livelihoods to prevent the people from organizing.

This is the clearest explanation of contemporary bourgeois liberal strategy I've ever seen.

Bravo!

SameTrip , 15 Oct 2017 06:23

The question is whether democracy will emerge from oligarchic breakdown – or whether the oligarchs will just strengthen their grasp on the levers of government.

Surveillance, drones, a purchased media, a mercenary govt, an internet with too much democracy and thus too many hairsplitting doctrinal differences, and increasingly effective killing devices, means the international corporate oligarchs have been in control for some time and will be for awhile more
Tenthred , 15 Oct 2017 06:23

democracy defeated oligarchy in ancient Greece because of "oligarchic breakdown."

Yes, but I'm not sure I see why that is to do with institutional decay - except if that means that the arrangements for bribing, threatening and manipulating the populace break down, in which case it just pushes the query back to why that should happen.

Which brings us to consent and to capacity. If the state has the capacity to ensure that citizens do OK then it will gain their consent. If not, not.

So far so simple for the ancient Greeks. Not so simple for us, now, because one of the institutional structures controlled by the oligarchy is the one that manufactures and maintains consent.

That's why, if we have arrived at oligarchy, we will not escape as simply as the city states of ancient Greece - and perhaps cannot escape it at all.

Bransby -> Commem , 15 Oct 2017 06:21
When I was an ancient Greek I was fantastic. Since the financial crisis and austerity cuts I've found it hard to be as great as before
jessthecrip -> jessthecrip , 15 Oct 2017 06:21
Ooops - 'sew disunity in the ruling class'
jessthecrip , 15 Oct 2017 06:20
So those of us who want proper democracy need to try and sew in the ruling class, just as they have long encouraged disunity amongst us plebs, is that it? Perhaps one advantage (of few that I can see) of brexit is it's exposing significant disunity in the Tory party.
Commem , 15 Oct 2017 06:19
Nothing new then. Who said " I don't care who makes the decisions as long as I write the Agenda and the Minutes. Information control is key. We live in a Alice in Wonderland world of spin.
ethelbrose , 15 Oct 2017 06:17
If only we could shut off roads in cities to traffic we could be so much more powerful as a mob...
TragicomedyBeholder , 15 Oct 2017 06:16
Very interesting and informative. However...

one solution is creating a more economically equal society

If one were to look at this equality problem rationally and logically, then any government policy aimed at making people equal would actually amount to government treating people very unequally.

Sort of like because people are unequal they should be treated unequally in order to make them equal. So in this sense the very idea of social justice is either irrational or else meaningless.

Differences in vocation, gifts, interests, locations and aspirations contribute to making people unequal. Socialism is a provenly unworkable myth.

[Oct 13, 2017] Sympathy for the Corporatocracy by C. J. Hopkins

Highly recommended!
Biting satire...
Notable quotes:
"... The Tonight Show ..."
"... Now, despite what the Russian propagandists will tell you, this recent outbreak of fascistic behavior has nothing whatsoever to do with these people's frustration with neoliberalism or the supranational Corporatocracy that has been expanding its global empire with total impunity for twenty-five years. And it definitely has nothing at all to do with supranational political unions, or the supersession of national sovereignty by corporate-concocted "free trade" agreements, or the relentless privatization of everything, or the fear that a lot of people have that their cultures are being gradually erased and replaced with a globalized, corporate-friendly, multicultural, market-based culture, which is merely a simulation of culture, and which contains no actual cultural values (because exchange value is its only operative value), but which sells the empty signifiers of their eviscerated cultural values back to them so they can wear their "identities" like designer brands as they hunch together in silence at Starbucks posting pictures of themselves on Facebook. ..."
"... No, this discontent with the political establishment, corporate elites, and the mainstream media has nothing to do with any of that. It's not like global Capitalism, following the collapse of the U.S.S.R. (its last external ideological adversary), has been restructuring the entire planet in accordance with its geopolitical interests, or doing away with national sovereignty, and other nationalistic concepts that no longer serve a useful purpose in a world where a single ideological system (one backed by the most fearsome military in history) reigns completely unopposed. If that were the case, well, it might behoove us to question whether this outbreak of Nazism, racism, and other forms of "hate," was somehow connected to that historical development and maybe even try to articulate some sort of leftist analysis of that. ..."
"... a world where a single ideology rules the planet unopposed from without ..."
"... Brexit is about Britons who want their country back, a movement indeed getting stronger and stronger in EU member states, but ignored by the ruling 'elites'. ..."
"... A lot of these so called "revolutions" are fomented by the elite only to be subverted and perverted by them in the end. They've had a lot of practice co-opting revolutions and independence movements. ..."
"... "Independence" is now so fashionable (as was Communism among the "elite" back in the '30s), that they are even teaching and fostering independence to kids in kindergarten here in the US. That strikes me as most amusing. Imagine "learning" independence in state run brainwashing factories. ..."
Oct 13, 2017 | www.unz.com

Well all right, let's review what happened, or at least the official version of what happened. Not Hillary Clinton's version of what happened, which Jeffrey St. Clair so incisively skewered , but the Corporatocracy's version of what happened, which overlaps with but is even more ridiculous than Clinton's ridiculous version. To do that, we need to harken back to the peaceful Summer of 2016, (a/k/a the "Summer of Fear" ), when the United States of America was still a shiny city upon a hill whose beacon light guided freedom-loving people, the Nazis were still just a bunch of ass clowns meeting in each other's mother's garages, and Russia was, well Russia was Russia.

Back then, as I'm sure you'll recall, Western democracy, was still primarily being menaced by the lone wolf terrorists, for absolutely no conceivable reason, apart from the terrorists' fanatical desire to brutally murder all non-believers. The global Russo-Nazi Axis had not yet reared its ugly head. President Obama, who, during his tenure, had single-handedly restored America to the peaceful, prosperous, progressive paradise it had been before George W. Bush screwed it up, was on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon slow jamming home the TPP . The Wall Street banks had risen from the ashes of the 2008 financial crisis, and were buying back all the foreclosed homes of the people they had fleeced with subprime mortgages. American workers were enjoying the freedom and flexibility of the new gig economy. Electioneering in the United States was underway, but it was early days. It was already clear that Donald Trump was literally the Second Coming of Hitler , but no one was terribly worried about him yet. The Republican Party was in a shambles. Neither Trump nor any of the other contenders had any chance of winning in November. Nor did Sanders, who had been defeated, fair and square, in the Democratic primaries, mostly because of his racist statements and crazy, quasi-Communist ideas. Basically, everything was hunky dory. Yes, it was going to be terribly sad to have to bid farewell to Obama, who had bailed out all those bankrupt Americans the Wall Street banks had taken to the cleaners, ended all of Bush and Cheney's wars, closed down Guantanamo, and just generally served as a multicultural messiah figure to affluent consumers throughout the free world, but Hope-and-Change was going to continue. The talking heads were all in agreement Hillary Clinton was going to be President, and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

Little did we know at the time that an epidemic of Russo-Nazism had been festering just beneath the surface of freedom-loving Western societies like some neo-fascist sebaceous cyst. Apparently, millions of theretofore more or less normal citizens throughout the West had been infected with a virulent strain of Russo-Nazi-engineered virus, because they simultaneously began exhibiting the hallmark symptoms of what we now know as White Supremacist Behavioral Disorder, or Fascist Oppositional Disorder (the folks who update the DSM are still arguing over the official name). It started with the Brexit referendum, spread to America with the election of Trump, and there have been a rash of outbreaks in Europe, like the one we're currently experiencing in Germany . These fascistic symptoms have mostly manifest as people refusing to vote as instructed, and expressing oppressive views on the Internet, but there have also been more serious crimes, including several assaults and murders perpetrated by white supremacists (which, of course, never happened when Obama was President, because the Nazis hadn't been "emboldened" yet).

Now, despite what the Russian propagandists will tell you, this recent outbreak of fascistic behavior has nothing whatsoever to do with these people's frustration with neoliberalism or the supranational Corporatocracy that has been expanding its global empire with total impunity for twenty-five years. And it definitely has nothing at all to do with supranational political unions, or the supersession of national sovereignty by corporate-concocted "free trade" agreements, or the relentless privatization of everything, or the fear that a lot of people have that their cultures are being gradually erased and replaced with a globalized, corporate-friendly, multicultural, market-based culture, which is merely a simulation of culture, and which contains no actual cultural values (because exchange value is its only operative value), but which sells the empty signifiers of their eviscerated cultural values back to them so they can wear their "identities" like designer brands as they hunch together in silence at Starbucks posting pictures of themselves on Facebook.

No, this discontent with the political establishment, corporate elites, and the mainstream media has nothing to do with any of that. It's not like global Capitalism, following the collapse of the U.S.S.R. (its last external ideological adversary), has been restructuring the entire planet in accordance with its geopolitical interests, or doing away with national sovereignty, and other nationalistic concepts that no longer serve a useful purpose in a world where a single ideological system (one backed by the most fearsome military in history) reigns completely unopposed. If that were the case, well, it might behoove us to question whether this outbreak of Nazism, racism, and other forms of "hate," was somehow connected to that historical development and maybe even try to articulate some sort of leftist analysis of that.

This hypothetical leftist analysis might want to focus on how Capitalism is fundamentally opposed to Despotism, and is essentially a value-decoding machine which renders everything and everyone it touches essentially valueless interchangeable commodities whose worth is determined by market forces, rather than by societies and cultures, or religions, or other despotic systems (wherein values are established and enforced arbitrarily, by the despot, the church, or the ruling party, or by a group of people who share an affinity and decide they want to live a certain way). This is where it would get sort of tricky, because it (i.e., this hypothetical analysis) would have to delve into the history of Capitalism, and how it evolved out of medieval Despotism, and how it has been decoding despotic values for something like five hundred years. This historical delving (which would probably be too long for people to read on their phones) would demonstrate how Capitalism has been an essentially progressive force in terms of getting us out of Despotism (which, for most folks, wasn't very much fun) by fomenting bourgeois revolutions and imposing some semblance of democracy on societies. It would follow Capitalism's inexorable advance all the way up to the Twentieth Century, in which its final external ideological adversary, fake Communism, suddenly imploded, delivering us to the world we now live in a world where a single ideology rules the planet unopposed from without , and where any opposition to that global ideology can only be internal, or insurgent, in nature (e.g, terrorism, extremism, and so on). Being a hypothetical leftist analysis, it would, at this point, need to stress that, despite the fact that Capitalism helped deliver us from Despotism, and improved the state of society generally (compared to most societies that preceded it), we nonetheless would like to transcend it, or evolve out of it toward some type of society where people, and everything else, including the biosphere we live in, are not interchangeable, valueless commodities exchanged by members of a global corporatocracy who have no essential values, or beliefs, or principles, other than the worship of money. After having covered all that, we might want to offer more a nuanced view of the current neo-nationalist reaction to the Corporatocracy's ongoing efforts to restructure and privatize the rest of the planet. Not that we would support this reaction, or in any way refrain from calling neo-nationalism what it is (i.e., reactionary, despotic, and doomed), but this nuanced view we'd hypothetically offer, by analyzing the larger sociopolitical and historical forces at play, might help us to see the way forward more clearly, and who knows, maybe eventually propose some kind of credible leftist alternative to the "global neoliberalism vs. neo-nationalism" double bind we appear to be hopelessly stuck in at the moment.

Luckily, we don't have to do that (i.e., articulate such a leftist analysis of any such larger historical forces). Because there is no corporatocracy not really. That's just a fake word the Russians made up and are spreading around on the Internet to distract us while the Nazis take over. No, the logical explanation for Trump, Brexit, and anything else that threatens the expansion of global Capitalism, and the freedom, democracy, and prosperity it offers, is that millions of people across the world, all at once, for no apparent reason, woke up one day full-blown fascists and started looking around for repulsive demagogues to swear fanatical allegiance to. Yes, that makes a lot more sense than all that complicated stuff about history and hegemonic ideological systems, which is probably just Russian propaganda anyway, in which case there is absolutely no reason to read any boring year-old pieces, like this one in The European Financial Review , or this report by Corporate Watch , from way back in the year 2000, about the rise of global corporate power.

So, apologies for wasting your time with all that pseudo-Marxian gobbledygook. Let's just pretend this never happened, and get back to more important matters, like statistically proving that Donald Trump got elected President because of racism, misogyny, transphobia, xenophobia, or some other type of behavioral disorder, and pulling down Confederate statues, or kneeling during the National Anthem, or whatever happens to be trending this week. Oh, yeah, and debating punching Nazis, or people wearing MAGA hats. We definitely need to sort all that out before we can move ahead with helping the Corporatocracy remove Trump from office, or at least ensure he remains surrounded by their loyal generals, CEOs, and Goldman Sachs guys until the next election. Whatever we do, let's not get distracted by that stuff I just distracted you with. I know, it's tempting, but, given what's at stake, we need to maintain our laser focus on issues related to identity politics, or else well, you know, the Nazis win.

C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play Publishing (USA). His debut novel, ZONE 23 , is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant. He can reached at cjhopkins.com or consentfactory.org .

jilles dykstra, October 13, 2017 at 3:15 pm GMT

Yesterday evening on RT a USA lady, as usual forgot the name, spoke about the USA. In a matter of fact tone she said things like 'they (Deep State) have got him (Trump) in the box'.

They, Deep State again, are now wondering if they will continue to try to control the world, or if they should stop the attempt, and retreat into the USA.
Also as matter of fact she said 'the CIA has always been the instrument of Deep State, from Kenndy to Nine Eleven'.

Another statement was 'no president ever was in control'.

How USA citizens continue to believe they live in a democracy, I cannot understand.

Yesterday the intentions of the new Dutch government were made public, alas most Dutch also dot not see that the Netherlands since 2005 no longer is a democracy, just a province of Brussels.

You can fool all people .

Che Guava, October 13, 2017 at 4:22 pm GMT

@jilles dykstra

Jilles,

I am thinking you take the article too literally.

jacques sheete, October 13, 2017 at 4:30 pm GMT

Brexit is about Britons who want their country back, a movement indeed getting stronger and stronger in EU member states, but ignored by the ruling 'elites'.

No doubt many do want their country back, but what concerns me is that all of a sudden we have the concept of "independence" plastered all over the place. Such concepts don't get promoted unless the ruling elites see ways to turn those sentiments to their favor.

A lot of these so called "revolutions" are fomented by the elite only to be subverted and perverted by them in the end. They've had a lot of practice co-opting revolutions and independence movements. (And everything else.)

"Independence" is now so fashionable (as was Communism among the "elite" back in the '30s), that they are even teaching and fostering independence to kids in kindergarten here in the US. That strikes me as most amusing. Imagine "learning" independence in state run brainwashing factories.

Does anyone else smell a rat or two?

Anon-og , October 13, 2017 at 5:16 pm GMT

"Now, despite what the Russian propagandists will tell you, this recent outbreak of fascistic behavior has nothing whatsoever to do with these people's frustration with neoliberalism or the supranational Corporatocracy that has been expanding its global empire with total impunity for twenty-five years. And it definitely has nothing at all to do with supranational political unions, or the supersession of national sovereignty by corporate-concocted "free trade" agreements, or the relentless privatization of everything, or the fear that a lot of people have that their cultures are being gradually erased and replaced with a globalized, corporate-friendly, multicultural, market-based culture, which is merely a simulation of culture, and which contains no actual cultural values (because exchange value is its only operative value), but which sells the empty signifiers of their eviscerated cultural values back to them so they can wear their "identities" like designer brands as they hunch together in silence at Starbucks posting pictures of themselves on Facebook."

Very impressed with this article, never really paid attention to CJ's articles but that is now changing!

[Oct 12, 2017] Are those my words coming out of Steve Bannons mouth? by Thomas Frank

Like Obama before him Trump proved to be a very talented "bat and switcher".
Notable quotes:
"... Donald Trump's presidential campaign took this cynical strategy farther than any of his Republican predecessors, openly reaching out to alienated working-class voters, the backbone of so many left-wing protest movements. ..."
"... Trump told us he was going to do something about Nafta, a left-wing bête noir since the 1990s. He promised to revive Glass Steagall. He claimed to care so very, very much about the people of the deindustrialized zones whose sufferings have been so thoroughly documented by left-wing authors. ..."
"... When Sanders decided to support HRC, I figured nothing will ever change. He built up a lot of hope (as did Obama), only to pull the rug out at the eleventh hour. ..."
"... Moving to the far towards the "progressive" left, the Democratic party abandoned the working and middle classes in favor of the coastal well to do city dwellers while trying to appeal to the "oppressed identity" single issue "groups". ..."
"... People got tired of losing their jobs to "globalization", with the government deciding what they can do with policies of "diversity", which is essentially a quota system, and with having ideologues and bureaucrats decide what is good or bad for them. ..."
"... If we lost the base of the Democratic party it wasn't because it was stolen from us. It was because it was given away. We started giving it away when we learned the wrong lesson after Ronald Reagan and thought that we had to move to the right with Bill Clinton to win the presidency. ..."
"... Clinton is the ultimate Swamp Creature,and large reason for her loss is that she spent more time with her high dollar donors then in swing states. How do you think the "Clinton Foundation" got so big? ..."
"... So the Democrats embraced the moneyed establishment because they felt they had to to win, while the Republicans denounced that same establishment but only as part of a bait-and-switch strategy. Meanwhile the establishment hedges their bets and wins no matter what the election outcome. ..."
"... I agree, the New Deal was quite leftist, in the sense that it acknowledged the crisis which had struck the working class. It's atypical in the history of the Democratic Party, which has been devoted to advancing the interests of U.S. corporations and since the Clinton years, those of multinational business consortia. But even the New Deal was a far cry from a revolutionary call to arms. In fact, it was meant to curtail such agitation. Roosevelt said as much. ..."
"... There is no left movement in Washington. Each is going after money from lobbyists. I just see the USA rapidly consuming itself and fragmenting. It has poor social, medical, policing programs. And it continues to digest itself in petty hate between the Democrats and Republicans. It really has no serious governance and worse its flagship superior court is now being sold to capitalism ..."
"... Identity politics is what the oligarchy is using to divide us. I just think it is counterproductive to battle each other when the upward mobility is being taken from us. I wish others could see it. ..."
"... Immigration restrictionists in the US have for decades fought the corporate establishment. In fact, we have fought what are probably the most powerful coalitions of special interests in human history, coalitions of corporate predators, Big Labor, Big Religion, Big Media, and Big Government. ..."
"... There are plenty of populists in the Republican Party, but the governing portion of the party is solidly neocon. Hence the battle between President Trump and the "17 intelligence agencies," and the remarkable undermining of Trump's foreign policy proposals by his own cabinet. ..."
"... Just as the progressive base of the Democratic Party is suppressed by the corporatists at the DNC and other centralized party organs, the Republican base is a captive to its Washington elite power brokers. ..."
"... Apparently 'isolationism' now means simply advocating for some restraint on endless global US military interventionism, hundreds and hundreds of bases in 80+ countries, and trillion dollar 'defence' budgets. ..."
"... I'll take an isolationist over a neo-con any day. ..."
"... The "traditional base" of the Democratic Party was destroyed long ago by de-industrialisation, hollowing of labor law, and now by opioids of the masses. The present day DNC is run by and for their army of contractors, lobbyists, bunglers, and wreckers. ..."
"... I hate to say it to you, but Trump voters who live in Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Iowa weren't looking for upscale living and calling for lower corporate taxes etc. One out of four WV residents are living under economic distress. They just want decent jobs and a government that represents working people, not the wealthy. ..."
Oct 12, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Oct 6, 2017

here's was a moment in Steve Bannon's recent 60 Minutes inter view when the former presidential advisor was asked what he's done to drain "the swamp," the Trumpists' favorite metaphor for everything they hate about Washington DC. Here was Bannon's reply: "The swamp is 50 years in the making. Let's talk about the swamp. The swamp is a business model. It's a successful business model. It's a donor, consultant, K Street lobbyist, politician ... 7 of the 9 wealthiest counties in America ring Washington, DC."

With a shock of recognition I knew immediately what Bannon meant, because what he was talking about was the subject matter of my 2008 book, The Wrecking Crew – the interconnected eco-system of corruption that makes Washington, DC so rich.

The first chapter of my book had been a description of those wealthy counties that ring Washington, DC: the fine cars, the billowing homes, the expense-account restaurants. The rest of the book was my attempt to explain the system that made possible the earthly paradise of Washington and – just like Steve Bannon – I did it by referring to a business model: the political donors and the K Street lobbyists, who act in combination with politicians of the Tom DeLay variety.

My critique of Washington was distinctly from the left, and it astonished me to hear something very close to my argument coming from the mouth of one of the nation's most prominent conservatives. But in fact, Bannon has a long history of reaching out to the left – you might say, of swiping its populist language and hijacking its causes.

In this space back in February, for example, I described Bannon's bizarre 2010 pseudo-documentary about the financial crisis, which superficially resembles actual documentaries, but which swerves to blame this failure of the deregulated financial system on the counterculture of the 1960s.

Bannon's once-famous denunciation of Wall Street banks for their role in the financial crisis is another example. His fondness for the author Christopher Lasch is also revealing. As was his admiring phone call with Robert Kuttner, a well-known liberal editor, which happened just before Bannon left his high-ranking White House job in August.

Mimicry is supposed to be a form of flattery, right

Dig a little deeper, and it sometimes seems like the history of the populist right – with its calls to "organize discontent" and its endless war against "the establishment" and the "elites" – is nothing but a history of reformatting left-wing ideas to fit the needs of the billionaire class. Think of Ronald Reagan's (and Mike Pence's) deliberate reprise of Franklin Roosevelt. Or the constant echoes of Depression-era themes and imagery that one heard from the Tea Party movement.

Donald Trump's presidential campaign took this cynical strategy farther than any of his Republican predecessors, openly reaching out to alienated working-class voters, the backbone of so many left-wing protest movements.

Trump told us he was going to do something about Nafta, a left-wing bête noir since the 1990s. He promised to revive Glass Steagall. He claimed to care so very, very much about the people of the deindustrialized zones whose sufferings have been so thoroughly documented by left-wing authors.

So many fine, militant words. So many clarion calls rousing the people against corrupt elites. And now comes Steve Bannon, the terror of the Republican establishment, hectoring us about "the swamp" with ideas so strikingly similar to my own.

Look at deeds rather than words, however, and it seems as though Trump and his gang have been using The Wrecking Crew more as a how-to guide than anything else. In that book, for example, I pointed out that one of the hallmarks of modern conservative governance is the placement of people who are hostile to the mission of federal agencies in positions of authority in those very agencies.

This is an essential component of the Washington corruption Bannon loves to deplore – and yet this is precisely what Bannon's man Trump has done. Betsy DeVos, a foe of public schools, is running the Department of Education. Scott Pruitt, a veteran antagonist of the EPA, has been put in charge of the EPA. Rick Perry now runs the Department of Energy, an agency he once proposed to abolish.

Another characteristic of the DC wrecking crew is a war on competence within the Federal bureaucracy – and that, too, is back on, courtesy of the folks who rallied you against corruption so movingly last year.

Lobbying ? The industry appears to be gearing up for a return of its Reagan-era golden age. In the early days of the administration, lobbyists were appointed en masse to team Trump and a brigade of brash new K Street personalities is rising up to replace the old guard.

Privatization? The people in DC are trying it again, and this time on a gigantic scale. Trump's ultra-populist infrastructure promise now seems to be little more than a vast scheme for encouraging investment firms to take over the country's highways and bridges. Even the dreams of privatized war are back, brought to you courtesy of the enterprising Erik Prince, a familiar face from the worst days of the Iraq war.

Above it all towers the traditional Republican ideal of business-in-government. "The government should be run like a great American company," is how Jared Kushner puts it this time around; and with his private-jet-set cabinet Donald Trump is going to show the nation exactly what that philosophy looks like.

All the elements are here. The conclusion is unquestionable. The wrecking crew is back.

And why is it back? Because, among other things, Republicans are better at fulminating against the wrecking crew than are Democrats. Maybe that's because Democratic leaders feel it's inappropriate to use such blunt and crude language.

Maybe that's because, for 40 years or so, the leadership faction of the Democratic Party has been at war with its own left wing, defining us out of the conversation, turning a deaf ear to our demands, denouncing populism even as the right grabbed for it with both hands. Either way, the Democrats seem to have no intention of changing their approach now.

Maybe we on the left should take consolation in the things Steve Bannon says. Our own team may not listen to us, but at least there's someone out there in a position of power who apparently does. And mimicry is supposed to be a form of flattery, right?

No. All this is happening for one reason only: to steal the traditional base of the Democratic Party out from under us. That it will also enrich countless contractors and lobbyists and bunglers and wreckers is just a bonus.

Thomas Frank is a Guardian columnist

Thirdparty -> bh_two , 9 Oct 2017 04:04

Right. The traditional base of the Democratic Party stopped supporting it when it was taken over by right-wingers like the Clintons.
Thirdparty , 9 Oct 2017 04:01
On running the government like a business: That is exactly what the Trump regime is doing. Their business model is the mob. And to be fair, the idea of running government like a business makes precisely as much sense as running a business like a government.
Aligarter , 9 Oct 2017 03:15
Steve Bannon is part of the plan to de-democratize the USA and Republicans can only do that by lying on an industrial scale, which they do very efficiently and effectively. Why the need? Because although they are good at destruction, they are no good at all at building the nation or government.

The First Rule of Marketing says that if you give people what they want, they will give you dollars. The billionaires who fund the Republicans again and again do so not because they believe in good government, or have the slightest concern for the wealth, health and defense of the nation, but because they get what they want. It's a purchasing contract.

bh_two , 9 Oct 2017 01:27
"....to steal the traditional base of the Democratic Party out from under us"

They aren't your servants to do your bidding and wait your table. Nor your political property. There is no more similarity of average working blokes to self-infatuated intellectuals of "the left" than a potato to a hubcap.

Working people left the party because they plainly are no longer welcome except during the brief hours when the polls are open.

curiouswes -> HauptmannGurski , 9 Oct 2017 01:22

What are we at?

I haven't the vaguest idea. When Sanders decided to support HRC, I figured nothing will ever change. He built up a lot of hope (as did Obama), only to pull the rug out at the eleventh hour.

MD1212a , 8 Oct 2017 21:32
Moving to the far towards the "progressive" left, the Democratic party abandoned the working and middle classes in favor of the coastal well to do city dwellers while trying to appeal to the "oppressed identity" single issue "groups". The only answer it presented to all problems was more government control over the economy and over all aspects of people's life. People got tired of losing their jobs to "globalization", with the government deciding what they can do with policies of "diversity", which is essentially a quota system, and with having ideologues and bureaucrats decide what is good or bad for them.
DocDiv -> curiouswes , 8 Oct 2017 20:16
TPP was a secret deal, which had written into it, its own right to trump the legal systems of signatory countries with TPP-sponsored arbitration and even mediation judgments. Trump saw that off on his first day.
Lyndon Watson , 8 Oct 2017 20:02
If we lost the base of the Democratic party it wasn't because it was stolen from us. It was because it was given away. We started giving it away when we learned the wrong lesson after Ronald Reagan and thought that we had to move to the right with Bill Clinton to win the presidency.

It was later given away when we didn't accomplish much when we had the majorities in the House, Senate and Presidency back in 2008. If Trump picked up our message it was because he took it, it was because it was just sitting there waiting to be picked up.

Cas Ann -> J.K. Stevens , 8 Oct 2017 19:20
Nonsense. Clinton is the ultimate Swamp Creature,and large reason for her loss is that she spent more time with her high dollar donors then in swing states. How do you think the "Clinton Foundation" got so big?
JohnCan45 , 8 Oct 2017 17:11
So the Democrats embraced the moneyed establishment because they felt they had to to win, while the Republicans denounced that same establishment but only as part of a bait-and-switch strategy. Meanwhile the establishment hedges their bets and wins no matter what the election outcome.
curiouswes -> stderr2 , 8 Oct 2017 16:51

Conservatives argue against identity politics.

That is a good message. I'll be more supportive of the conservatives when they actually practice what they preach. But please don't get me wrong. Not all conservatives are into white supremacy. The problem I see is that if one is a white supremacist, the conservatives don't publicly denounce that position. It makes many people of color feel alienated by conservatism. At least the left openly denounces white supremacy. The right praises MLK but doesn't condemn those in Charlotteville. They had a right to protest and the left shouldn't have tried to silence them. However it was identity politics. They wouldn't be protecting the open display of the confederacy if they weren't into identity politics. That message seems to get lost as conservatism frowns on identity politics.

I don't know what that refers to.

NAFTA passed under Clinton , but more importantly, so did the Uruguay Round of GATT. When the Senate passed that (the House passed it to but technically the House doesn't ratify treaties), it severely curtailed the USA's ability to negotiate our own trade deals. All members of the WTO are vulnerable to financial penalties if any member nation tries to override the rulings set by the WTO. Not only did Ralph Nader recognize this as a problem and try to run for president because of it, so did Pat Buchanan. Buchanan saw this as lost sovereignty (in his words). Both Nader and Buchanan were of course unsuccessful because we vote in an FPTP voting system which tends to eliminate third parties form being successful.

The point is that Clinton forced Congress to pass the legislation just like Paulson forced Congress to approve a bailout of the banks during the financial crisis. It wasn't really all the republicans fault, but the oligarchy would have taken down the global economy if it didn't get bailed out. Anyway the WTO has a policy on dumping:

If a company exports a product at a price lower than the price it normally charges on its own home market, it is said to be "dumping" the product. The WTO Agreement does not regulate the actions of companies engaged in "dumping". Its focus is on how governments can or cannot react to dumping -- it disciplines anti-dumping actions, and it is often called the "Anti-dumping Agreement".

both dems and reps rant and rave about China dumping steel but nothing ever gets done to stop it because the WTO is there protecting China (or american companies making steel in China). Either way the american steel worker gets screwed in the process and that is why populists hate globalism. The American worker knows he's getting screwed but he may not be aware of the mechanism by which he is getting screwed. The media rarely talks about the WTO because if the American worker knew how he was getting screwed, he'd be screaming to get out of the WTO. Typically he only knows his jobs are gone and where they are. However it was Clinton who did this and the idea that anybody would even think of putting HRC back in the white house while she is still married to that dude is due to utter ignorance of the fact of what he did when he was there the first time.

I think both Clinton and W should be in jail, but this isn't about W.

budhudnut -> curiouswes , 8 Oct 2017 16:39
I agree, the New Deal was quite leftist, in the sense that it acknowledged the crisis which had struck the working class. It's atypical in the history of the Democratic Party, which has been devoted to advancing the interests of U.S. corporations and since the Clinton years, those of multinational business consortia. But even the New Deal was a far cry from a revolutionary call to arms. In fact, it was meant to curtail such agitation. Roosevelt said as much.
ID6995146 , 8 Oct 2017 16:15
There is no left movement in Washington. Each is going after money from lobbyists. I just see the USA rapidly consuming itself and fragmenting. It has poor social, medical, policing programs. And it continues to digest itself in petty hate between the Democrats and Republicans. It really has no serious governance and worse its flagship superior court is now being sold to capitalism. Capitalism will fail as predicted by Marx and those who really know about it. It is our children who will pick up the tab if they can survive.
stderr2 -> curiouswes , 8 Oct 2017 15:19
> Identity politics is what the oligarchy is using to divide us.

Conservatives argue against identity politics. I don't know what the oligarchy is supposed to be, in the context of the US. People in power often came from varied backgrounds, not usually all that rich backgrounds.

> upward mobility is being taken from us

Upward from what? If you are poor, there's a lot of upward that might be possible, but if you are middle class, whatever that means, you can't have everyone moving up or the definition of middle class would change to them.

> The worst thing that happened to us, happened under Clinton

I don't know what that refers to. Welfare reform? Various changes to banking regulations? Allowing bin Laden to hit us again and again but instead of doing what needed to be done, frolicking with a young frisky intern in the Oval Office? I doubt Bush Sr would've done that.

stderr2 -> curiouswes , 8 Oct 2017 15:12
> However if you stand up for the rights of one group and ignore the rights of another today some people still don't "get it".

They don't get what? When someone protests in the street, whether they are sweetness and light or racist or whatever, they have the right to protest. Plenty of people would argue that "hate speech" should be banned, them defining what "hate speech" means, of course. These people are arguing against settled constitutional law.

> I tend to think the US citizen should be protected by the bill of rights and not necessarily those here illegally.

Yet not protecting everyone with due process, for example, is a violation of constitutional law.

curiouswes -> stderr2 , 8 Oct 2017 14:49
I consider myself a populist. Not exactly from the left but certainly more left that right. Identity politics is what the oligarchy is using to divide us. I just think it is counterproductive to battle each other when the upward mobility is being taken from us. I wish others could see it. The worst thing that happened to us, happened under Clinton, but rest assured; HW Bush would have done it had he won the election in 92.
budhudnut -> curiouswes , 8 Oct 2017 13:10
My point was that calling the Democratic Party a leftist party requires a notion of that term drained of real meaning. The Democratic Party has always upheld the supremacy of capital and the necessity of forestalling a revolution. I realize that in the United States plenty of people regard President Obama and Hillary Clinton as communists, but that's simply a measure of how far to the right political discourse stands there. The American left was eliminated from public life in the 1940s and 1950s with the suppression of the Communist Party, the purging of the unions and professions, and strict mass indoctrination of the citizenry. And whenever new manifestations of leftist energy have appeared, they have been met with unremitting hostility from liberal and conservative centers of power.

Finally, the Democratic Party is a party not just of capital, but of empire. This was never more true than in last year's election, in which Donald Trump was able to appeal to marginal voters on the ambiguous claim that he was less warlike than Secretary Clinton. No, there's nothing in the two party set-up which expresses the basic demands of the modern left- an end to imperialism, nationalization of key industries, and so on. And when people restrict their political thinking to the narrow range offered by a business oligopoly, they're going to be misreading their own reality.

lsjogren -> dallasdunlap , 8 Oct 2017 10:27
The Republican Party has a big problem in that its agenda has at best a small grassroots following of perhaps 10% of the populace.

Meantime, populist-nationalism is in sync with the views of I would estimate at least 50% of the US citizenry and perhaps as much as 60%. (the other 30% of the public are "progressives")

The establishment has maintained power by default. When our political system offers only a choice between a "progressive" Democrat and an establishment Repubilcan, many voters choose the latter as the lesser evil.

If and when voters actually are offered a genuine choice at the ballot box, watch out. I think you will start seeing this played out on a grand scale in the 2018 and 2020 Republican primaries.

lsjogren , 8 Oct 2017 10:22
Fighting the corporate establishment has never been the exclusive province of the left.

Immigration restrictionists in the US have for decades fought the corporate establishment. In fact, we have fought what are probably the most powerful coalitions of special interests in human history, coalitions of corporate predators, Big Labor, Big Religion, Big Media, and Big Government.

This movement is one of the grassroots pillars fueling Bannonism.

dallasdunlap , 8 Oct 2017 09:03
There are plenty of populists in the Republican Party, but the governing portion of the party is solidly neocon. Hence the battle between President Trump and the "17 intelligence agencies," and the remarkable undermining of Trump's foreign policy proposals by his own cabinet.

Just as the progressive base of the Democratic Party is suppressed by the corporatists at the DNC and other centralized party organs, the Republican base is a captive to its Washington elite power brokers.

budhudnut , 8 Oct 2017 06:26
Thomas Frank's interesting and thoughtful pieces on the failure- or refusal- of the Democratic Party to come to terms with the depths of voter disaffection form an interesting contrast with the Guardian's DNC-supplied outlook. I suppose that's why he's been hired, to take up all that slack as the paper trudges ever rightward. Here's a link to an extended recent interview he gave with Paul Jay at The Real News.

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=832&Itemid=74&jumival=1649

Christopher Oxley , 7 Oct 2017 16:53
Populist movements typically tend to involve more focus on complaining and raging about problems than coming up with any real solutions for them, so it doesn't really matter whether members self-identify as coming from the left or right. Given the Trump campaign was all about manipulation anyway, with Trump just a puppet to distract the public from seeing the corprate take-over of the state, it's not surprising they used a populist rhetoric, as seen in shock doctrine, that inherent rage blinds them from seeing they are being manipulated.
Ben Groetsch -> sludgeco , 7 Oct 2017 15:48
The last time the Democrats actually offered something to the American people was the War on Poverty and Civil Rights legislation by President Johnson in the 1960s. Other than the Democrats have been acting like an extended PR arm of corporate America by performing sideshows on social issues while failing to address the needs of working families. I clearly don't buy into the notion that the Democrats are a tad better than the Republicans. No, the Democrats need to be radically to the left like Bernie Sanders, not moderate Republican lite such as Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. This country simply cannot continue electing conservative governments all the time in Washington DC.
sparkylab -> JoeintheMidwest , 7 Oct 2017 12:50
Apparently 'isolationism' now means simply advocating for some restraint on endless global US military interventionism, hundreds and hundreds of bases in 80+ countries, and trillion dollar 'defence' budgets.
JoeintheMidwest -> PennyCarter , 7 Oct 2017 12:25
A broken clock is right twice a day. Yes, Republican isolationists are the only ones in their primarily interventionist party to ever make a principled critique of endless U.S. wars abroad. Sadly, the Democrats are, with some honorable exceptions like Dennis Kucinich, as committed to these endless wars as their partners across the aisle. This is one of the many reasons why Hillary Clinton lost. However, Buchanan's xenophobia makes his brand of anti-imperialism shallow--he still thinks "Western civilization" is superior to other cultures, and has denied the genocide against Native Americans. His views about Jews are also rather creepy. That said, I'll take an isolationist over a neo-con any day.
money777 , 7 Oct 2017 07:21
There is divisive manipulation on the left and the right, the pundits blame each other to keep America divided. The right stereotypes the left while the left stereotypes the right . The working class crazy white guy is oppressing the hispanic and blacks while the blacks and hispanic oppress the working class white. The left pundits make fun of the working class while the right pundits make fun of the left pundits. Both sides are entralled by business interests aka socoio-political interests. Afterall, this is a business world where ppl have to put food on the table.America is on the verge of becoming as divided as america was prior to the civil war. What am i supposed to do? Join the resistence of division taking place on the left and the right? Protest against another american at a divided left vs. right rally? Resistence is futile because resistence leads to more division.

Excuse my unedites grammar semtence structure lack of sense and not serious online comment

Ponderbelle -> America_Loves_Trump , 7 Oct 2017 05:16
Trump can't stop calling others names - with the absurd stance that he must bully people to create a sense of self respect.

Those who support Trump or Bannon generally have in common a refusal to see any viewpoint other than their own. They'll find a way to make most any belief, policy or decision which T&B uphold, look justified or non-offensive in motives.

Trump runs every which way, so, there are bound to be a few things one finds agreeable (even from the left). Bannon thinks democracy does not work. He'd like to see the federal government crash.

In fact, The USA has no true democracy. Like many developed nations we are under the total rule of organized business. Profit is superior and normalized whereas basic human needs are for the highest bid competition. Greed older than Methuselah's first breakfast. Bannon doesn't have a vision for the betterment and uplift of society any more than anyone else. Who cannot can see corporate greed has its tentacles around us? The common person on the street knows the scheme. What to do about it finds us in the land of inertia. Next crash (it is coming) the panicked cry for bailouts will be near impossible to put-up with. With billions on the planet we are in new territory, as to resources and competition. A system which cannot survive with its hand in our pocket while claiming free market enterprise will even out the system on balance - meaning for investors, and head in sand more of the same.

ID6823856 , 7 Oct 2017 04:10
The "base" of the Democratic party is now the same get rich ideologues of Clinton-ism who are happy to lobby and privatise with as much enthusiasm as any right wing Republican/Conservative/Tea Party ideologue. Every administration, Republican or Democratic, from Clinton, to Bush, to Obama, has held to the same policies of the Reagan administration. The "traditional base" of the Democratic Party was destroyed long ago by de-industrialisation, hollowing of labor law, and now by opioids of the masses. The present day DNC is run by and for their army of contractors, lobbyists, bunglers, and wreckers.
rogerscorpion , 7 Oct 2017 04:06
Mr. Frank, I found it surprising that you mentioned both Betsy de Vos and Erik Prince -- but didn't mention the fact that they are siblings.
PeterOrmonde , 7 Oct 2017 03:45
Yep - the big mistake with critters like Bannon is to ignore or dismiss everything they say and fail to detect what resonance they are striking with what audience.

But it's awkward when you just read them and recognise grains of truthiness - they see the same problems it's just their solutions are all wrong. But they are actually cutting the left's grass - pinching the alienation and discontent that rightly belongs to progress, no? Now the NRA have got 'em - not even the GOP.

Be yer unfinished civil war this... grinding away slowly ... so now the whole place is riven by fear and suspicion - of race, wealth, cities, the guvvermint, of anything and everything really. A deeply traumatised culture you've got sitting down there - victims real and imagined wandering about and none of it getting fixed at all..

Not everyone or everywhere - but the most fearful and angry cluster are centred on the underlying issues of the era of Lincoln. Trump is speaking for and to them. There can be no more nonsense about lone gunmen - this is now part of US culture - systemic and systematic.

Yer 500 kiddies are just the price of open-carry freedoms according to the Vegas mayor. All the same old folk-wisdoms: can't have laws that stop bad people being bad?... why should the 1% of evildoers dictate our liberties?

But of course they do. That is how all laws work, whether murder or shoplifting - everyone shows their bags. In fact they are arguing for lawlessness - vigilantism and John Wayne cowboy myths. That's the Trump/Bannon audience ... National Enquirer readers packing heat .

Gonna get ugly before it's fixed.

Maury A. Bousson , 7 Oct 2017 02:42
#TheHouseAlwaysWins The author gets so close to putting his finger on the problem and then at the last moment swerves off into partisan rhetoric. Wake up dude! Both of the things you think are opposite sides are out to get us.
eastbayradical -> newyorkred , 7 Oct 2017 02:24
The list below delineates the policies and initiatives that Hillary Clinton supported over course of her political career (including as a loyal First Lady to Bill Clinton). They help explain the depressed voter enthusiasm and turnout for the Dems among many of the groups to whom you say Frank, as a "well-to-do white man" pining for "white working class revolution," owes an apology:

--Deregulation of the investment banks (and against reinstatement of Glass--Steagall)
--Deregulation of the telecommunications industry
--Deregulation of derivatives
--The destruction of welfare (which has caused the numbers living in extreme poverty to double since its passage)
--The Omnibus Crime Bill (increased the prison population massively)
--NAFTA
--The sanctions regime against Iraq of the 1990s that killed 500,000 Iraqi children ("it was worth it," said her friend Madeline Albright)
--The Defense of Marriage Act
--CAFTA (granted stealthy support)
--TPP
--Fracking
--The objectively-racist death penalty
--The private prison industry
--The Patriot Act
--The Iraq War
--The bombing of Libya
--Military intervention in Syria
--Israel's starvation blockade and blitzkrieg against Gaza
--The right-wing coup in Honduras
--Investor-friendly repression and cronyism in Haiti
--A 31 cents/hour minimum wage in Haiti (and against attempts to raise it)
--The recently announced 20 year, $1,000,000,000,000 (trillion) upgrade of the US's nuclear arsenal
--Historically-high numbers of deportations under the Obama Adm.
--Oil drilling in the Arctic
--The fight against free public university tuition
--The fight against single-payer health care
--Acceptance of tens of millions of dollars of corporate money
--Credit-card industry favored bankruptcy laws
--The bail-out of Wall Street

suddenoakdeath -> James F. , 7 Oct 2017 01:24
....and America was convinced Trump cared about them, so says Thomas Frank.
Alex W -> Ben Groetsch , 6 Oct 2017 21:21
If you think America is bad, then try living in the UK. The UK is a hotbed of religious nutters. Just look at Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, David Cameron, and Theresa May.

The UK still has a "state-established" church (the Church of England). The UK's national anthem ' God Save the Queen ' mentions 'God' over 30 different times. And most British schools are still faith-based and funded by the church. Also, abortion and gay marriage are still banned in some parts of the UK, such as Northern Ireland.

Forget Donald Trump.... the UK is far more religious & dangerous.

askzippy , 6 Oct 2017 21:09
Lol, yeah it's only the Rs that do bad stuff in DC. HRC was the Queen of the system described above. An article designed to confuse those without eyes to see.

The interesting thing for me is the hate levels on the left which appear to be almost off the scale at the moment. Identity politics seems to have a deep hold on your hearts.

sejong , 6 Oct 2017 20:55
The national of USA should be changed from bald eagle to lone wolf. Forget e pluribis unum. War of all against all.
Alex W -> Sharon Sekhon , 6 Oct 2017 20:04
The U.S. is more liberal & secular than ever. The election of Trump doesn't change that. According to a 2011 Pew Report , the U.S. now has the 3rd largest atheist population in the world -- after China & Japan. On top of that, a 2015 Gallup Poll found that 60% of Americans would vote for an atheist President -- a record number that continues to grow every year.

Additionally, gay marriage is legal in all 50 U.S. states. Marijuana is legal & taxed in 8 U.S. states. Euthanasia (assisted suicide) is legal in 6 U.S states -- including California (the largest state in America with over 40 million people). Even prostitution is legal & regulated in some U.S. states, such as Nevada!

*Sign into Youtube to watch this video about legal American brothels.

The U.S. constitution guarantees separation of Church & State -- unlike the UK, which still has a "state-established" church (the Church of England).

kmacafee -> Attu de Bubbalot , 6 Oct 2017 19:53
Not really. They will be defeated in the next election and they are already facing charges and prison time. This will not end with a bang, but with a whimper and whining like you've never heard. There are many more in the one percent and the top 10% who are already disgusted with Mercer, Koch, Trump and the whole Putin cabal. Evil is evil and splashing some fake christianity on their hitler speeches is not fooling anyone but the already fooled; and they are a small lot getting smaller every single day.
Zepp -> NYbill13 , 6 Oct 2017 18:21
Most of Bannon's story about dear old dad is pure crap. He was already a right wing film-maker before the 2008 meltdown, and dear old dad would still have his money if he had listened to his two financier sons instead of the cable TV idiot Cramer. AT&T, in case you haven't heard, came through the crash intact.
colacj , 6 Oct 2017 18:16
15 billion dollars worth of missiles being sold to Saudi Arabia ........ while a few days ago Saudi Arabia goes to Moscow and talks to putin which is the first tie ever.......... so we sold them weapons to what , aim at us........
Ben Groetsch -> MTavernier , 6 Oct 2017 18:15
So, do you preferred two thirds of the American population to live on welfare aid like Medicaid which doesn't even covered dental and eye exams? As much you don't like the GOP approach to healthcare reform, the Democrats would rather bailed out the insurance industry by making consumers to buy unaffordable coverage and public assistance programs and refused to embraced Bernie Sanders approach to universal healthcare. The Democratic Party simply has no ideas, just empty tough talk against the President.
Ben Groetsch -> Social36 , 6 Oct 2017 18:10
I hate to say it to you, but Trump voters who live in Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Iowa weren't looking for upscale living and calling for lower corporate taxes etc. One out of four WV residents are living under economic distress. They just want decent jobs and a government that represents working people, not the wealthy.

[Oct 12, 2017] The proletariat, or at least the opioid threatened, white and marginalized cadre on show in the Rust belt states, probably thought they had their man in DJT because he said what it took to get himself elected in the vernacular they prefer, feeling its authenticity made them look honest.. Ha!

Oct 12, 2017 | discussion.theguardian.com

Ben Groetsch -> Sharon Sekhon , 6 Oct 2017 18:02

So, you're suggesting that Frank's political instincts are all wrong when he first wrote his book thesis on "What's the matter with Kansas," which lays out the scanting indictment of the pro-corporate wing of the Democratic Party and their wealthy supporters. Here's the reality that you Clinton bots don't understand: the rest of the country is like Kansas, not glamour LA or Wall Street NYC. People work in blue collar and grey collar professions, have modest wealth, and some are involved in trade unions. Many don't have a college degree; many also have no desires to go to a liberal arts school or state public university. Nearly eighty percent of middle America have a high school diploma. Only thirty percent have a college BA degree, and less than five percent have a advanced degree in Law or PH'D. Those numbers haven't changed since the 1960s. And yet, the corporate ruling class which showers money to both political parties have been selling the public a bill of false promises and lies about the necessary of getting a college degree in order to find gainful employment with living wages. Sorry, there isn't no living wage jobs. Our industrialized state has been devalued by NAFTA, a pro-corporate trade deal signed by Bill Clinton in the 1990s, had destroyed the fabric of mostly blue collar communities in middle America. Both Democrats and Republicans all conspired to gut the entire working classes out of the middle class status and into the underclass welfare state as a whole---first with welfare reform in the 1990s, followed by Bush era tax cuts, getting rid of Glass-Stegeall, awarding companies with job outsourcing, failure to provide affordable housing to the needy while selling risky sub-prime mortgages, making our higher educational system as a luxury commodity, destroying our pension system and replacing it with an inadequate 401K retirement package, allowing the one percent to hide their money overseas in tax haven accounts, subsidizing the rich, and control the media through corporate consolidation. We no longer have the ability to innovate, produce, or create a thriving working class middle. Instead, corporate dominance in our politics and our legal system makes it almost impossible to generate a fair, diverse, and expanding opportunities economy on the basis of progressive regulations that is desperately needed.

What Frank had in mind is what the donor class within the Democratic Party is scared about. That is, working people are being shoved aside due to the power of money in government, and yet the Democratic Party has to changed its tune in order to regain the working class voters in middle America.

Ben Groetsch , 6 Oct 2017 17:39
Well, Bannon is partly right given the fact that our government has been at the wheel of powerful lobbyists and wealthy donors for so long. However, given the dysfunctional and unfortunate circumstances surrounding the Trump Administration in DC, the Democrats seem to appear as aloof and tone deaf with the American people----a state of utter denial regarding a major political party that just lost the Presidential election to a dingbat D list reality tv star and real estate tycoon who has the mindset of a spoiled child.

The true reason behind Bannon's conquest for political votes is that the working class here in the US have been totally neglected and left behind by eight years of Obama and the last two terms of Bush Jr from the previous decade. Working people want actual middle class jobs and a shot of a decent life in retirement, not welfare checks from the government.

fabfreddy -> CivilDiscussion , 6 Oct 2017 17:05
Is that just about everybody? Or do you think there are people that wouldn't want to be billionaires?
Rollmeover , 6 Oct 2017 16:56
Democrats are so disorganized that to elect them is folly. We already have disorganization. Trump will win a second term.
chunki , 6 Oct 2017 16:55
The Left in English-speaking countries has been overtaken by upper-middle class people who are obsessed with sexual identity and race. They are snobby towards working class people and will abuse them as racist when they talk about problems with immigration or other social groups with different coloured skin. I moved from the first group into the second, and I know working class people are no more prejudiced than upper-middle class, but they don't have the vocabulary to express it in a way that "educated" people will recognise.
This snobbery towards possible complexities in the life of working class people is damning leftwing parties to continual oblivion.
(Working class people use blunt language, but they apply it to themselves equally. Those higher up the social ladder are not used to hearing that type of language.)
jackrousseau -> EyeFullEnt , 6 Oct 2017 14:14
Did anything I say indicate I support Trump? I described his administration as an economically centrist "kleptocracy". Trump Jr. taking thinly veiled payoffs on the speaking/grift circuit is par for the course.

Though, I imagine Trump Jr. commands significantly less than Chelsea Clinton ($65,000 as of 2015). http://www.politico.com/story/2015/06/chelsea-clinton-speaking-fee-university-missouri-119580

And I imagine it's only a matter of time before we also see Obama's children "speaking" for thinly veiled payoffs. One already scored an prestigious internship with the socially progressive Weinstein Company. And Michelle's currently getting in excess of $200,000 for 1hr speeches. https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/05/02/michelle-obama-s-speaker-fee-is-as-much-as-some-former-president/22065295 /

...All enough to make someone a little cynical about American politics.

America_Loves_Trump -> EyeFullEnt , 6 Oct 2017 11:44
More misinformed nonsense.

In fact, Breitbart gets criticism on the right for being too gung ho in embracing Israel. Steve Bannon quotes that give some of his supporters pause are things like "no media outlet is more pro-Israel than Breitbart". I guess politics is a factor but most of us don't like all the money we give them and how a major reason that the Muslim world is so angry at the Western one is it's unflinching backing of Israel, no matter how much of the West Bank they encroach upon, among other things.

The idea that Breitbart is anti-Semitic is an absurd Media Matters talking point going back to an article calling Bill Kristol a "Renegade Jew". The article was, obviously, written by a Jew. And the thrust of the article was that Bill Kristol (and others) making attempts to steal the Republican nomination from Trump (as the Dems had from Bernie Sanders) would ultimately harm Israel. So it was a Jew calling a Jew a Renegade Jew for making a decision he believed was bad for the Jewish homeland.

I know it's all very confusing but hopefully that's cleared up now.

TheRexican , 6 Oct 2017 11:31
"I did it by referring to a business model: the political donors and the K Street lobbyists, who act in combination with politicians of the Tom DeLay variety."

There are almost no members of Congress who are of any other sort than the "Tom Delay" variety you refer to. Very nearly every single member is corrupt. The game is ruined. Perhaps an end to gerrymandering (if we shoudl be so fortunate) will allow some mechanism for changing the guard in Congress. We need to remove them all. They sold us out and we need to exile them for life.

Don't think your rep is any better. This keeps us stuck.

America_Loves_Trump -> charlieblue , 6 Oct 2017 11:10
I don't JUST yell Hillary. I also mentioned Obama and the rest of the criminals who make up the Democratic Party. Whose list of proven criminality is simply staggering enough before you get in to the mountains of very damning circumstantial stuff that begs investigation.

And when I mention the Democrats, you act as if it's some irrelevent non sequitur. IT IS NOT. Please remember that the choice was Trump OR Hillary. So whenever people lament how apparently terrible the President who has brought us 3.1% GDP growth for the first time in years and well over a million new jobs along with finally insisting that the law needs to be enforced for the first time in 8 years, the issue of the alternative to this IS of course relevant.

As I said: Clinton is a part of the establishment. A real swamp monster. One of the really big stinking ones, with huge wads of cash stuck to her blood soaked claws. Trump is not. And by the very low bar set by the past few Presidents, just not being more of the same is an improvement.

And by the way, Hillary Clinton did commit multiple felonies. The private server = felony (whether "intent" was there or not, that was an irrelevant muddying of the waters). The storing and forwarding of classified info on this server = felony (whether or not she, after decades in government understood that (C) meant classified as it always had all along).

You've got your head in the sand, pal

Whiplashed -> America_Loves_Trump , 6 Oct 2017 10:53
You seem to be taking Clinton Cash as evidence of something, but that is just a piece of propaganda meant to sway the election. Where are your reputable sources?
boilingriver -> America_Loves_Trump , 6 Oct 2017 10:51
There are some great videos on Youtube where he talks about economics.
HAHA yes where he deliberately lies about the cause of 2008.

Where he is now silent on cohn who is now in charge of economic policy.

So, while Cohn was overseeing one team inside Goldman Sachs preoccupied with implementing the big short, he was in regular contact with others scrambling to offload its subprime inventory. One Goldman trader described the mortgage-backed securities they were selling as "shitty." Another complained in an email that they were being asked to "distribute junk that nobody was dumb enough to take first time around." A December 28 email from Fabrice "Fabulous Fab" Tourre, a Goldman vice president later convicted of fraud, instructed traders to focus on less astute, "buy and hold" investors rather than "sophisticated hedge funds" that "will be on the same side of the trade as we will."
https://theintercept.com/2017/09/17/goldman-sachs-gary-cohn-donald-trump-administration /

Then there is Mnuchin( Treasury secretary) the foreclosure king, who made a fortune on taking peoples home, some for $1 mistake.

Why did republicans mot make up some laws to put them into prison. Why are they silent now when trump is deregulating by executive order.

Talk about fake outrage putting in the people who caused the problems as the solutions.

America_Loves_Trump -> NYbill13 , 6 Oct 2017 10:12
Spoken from someone who has obviously never listened to what Steve Bannon said or his message.

You obviously don't know, for example, that his Dad - a union guy - lost half of his life savings in the crash of 2008.

And you do not have a single quote where you can attribute "master race" stuff to Bannon. That's literally a smear based on nothing, created by the Clinton people as revenge for his role in the absolutely devastating expose Clinton Cash.

Those of us paying attention understand what he is: an unbelievably bright guy who was the first man who successfully harnessed the informed outrage of the alternative media to have an impact in national politics. He and Trump beat the rigging and achieved for the socially conservative anti-deepstate people what Bernie Sanders was unable to achieve on the Left... if he ever really had the stomach for the fight in the first place.

LittleTomcat , 6 Oct 2017 09:28
"That it will also enrich countless contractors and lobbyists and bunglers and wreckers is just a bonus." Mmmm, maybe not a bonus so much as the objective, perhaps? As an aside, the method of installing nomenclature to control agencies, such as the agency responsible for granting broadcast licences, was described, if I recall correctly, in Josef Korbel's 1959 "The Communist Subversion of Czechoslovakia, 1938-1948". For a funny take on the privatisation of perpetual military conflict, Christopher Buckley's "They Eat Puppies, Don't They?" might provide a laugh, if you don't think about how closely it matches reality.
oiler , 6 Oct 2017 07:03
The proletariat, or at least the opioid threatened, white and marginalized cadre on show in the Rust belt states, probably thought they had their man in DJT because he said what it took to get himself elected in the vernacular they prefer, feeling its authenticity made them look honest.. Ha! But look! They are no different from other vulnerables after all, and they will be and are, being screwed over accordingly. Turkeys and Christmas, Foxes and henhouses, its all been said and now its being done: educate yourselves, folks.. before its too late.
HilltopRide , 6 Oct 2017 06:30
Yep, judge em solely on their actions. Trump is about entrenching the corporate coup d'etat. Expanding the swamp, not draining it. The question is now, after Citizens United and with a conservative SCOTUS in perpetuity, whether it's too wide and deep ever to be drained.

[Oct 11, 2017] The corporate state embraced identity politics

Notable quotes:
"... There is a big difference between shills for corporate capitalism and imperialism, like Corey Booker and Van Jones, and true radicals like Glen Ford and Ajamu Baraka. The corporate state carefully selects and promotes women, or people of color, to be masks for its cruelty and exploitation. ..."
"... The feminist movement is a perfect example of this. The old feminism, which I admire, the Andrea Dworkin kind of feminism, was about empowering oppressed women. This form of feminism did not try to justify prostitution as sex work. It knew that it is just as wrong to abuse a woman in a sweatshop as it is in the sex trade. The new form of feminism is an example of the poison of neoliberalism. It is about having a woman CEO or woman president, who will, like Hillary Clinton, serve the systems of oppression. It posits that prostitution is about choice. What woman, given a stable income and security, would choose to be raped for a living? Identity politics is anti-politics. ..."
Oct 11, 2017 | www.unz.com

DN: What about the impact that you've seen of identity politics in America?

CH: Well, identity politics defines the immaturity of the left. The corporate state embraced identity politics. We saw where identity politics got us with Barack Obama, which is worse than nowhere. He was, as Cornel West said, a black mascot for Wall Street, and now he is going around to collect his fees for selling us out.

My favorite kind of anecdotal story about identity politics: Cornel West and I, along with others, led a march of homeless people on the Democratic National Convention session in Philadelphia. There was an event that night. It was packed with hundreds of people, mostly angry Bernie Sanders supporters. I had been asked to come speak. And in the back room, there was a group of younger activists, one who said, "We're not letting the white guy go first." Then he got up and gave a speech about how everybody now had to vote for Hillary Clinton. That's kind of where identity politics gets you. There is a big difference between shills for corporate capitalism and imperialism, like Corey Booker and Van Jones, and true radicals like Glen Ford and Ajamu Baraka. The corporate state carefully selects and promotes women, or people of color, to be masks for its cruelty and exploitation.

It is extremely important, obviously, that those voices are heard, but not those voices that have sold out to the power elite. The feminist movement is a perfect example of this. The old feminism, which I admire, the Andrea Dworkin kind of feminism, was about empowering oppressed women. This form of feminism did not try to justify prostitution as sex work. It knew that it is just as wrong to abuse a woman in a sweatshop as it is in the sex trade. The new form of feminism is an example of the poison of neoliberalism. It is about having a woman CEO or woman president, who will, like Hillary Clinton, serve the systems of oppression. It posits that prostitution is about choice. What woman, given a stable income and security, would choose to be raped for a living? Identity politics is anti-politics.

[Oct 09, 2017] Instead of drawing the best and the brightest, or being a place where scholarship was valued, where students were taught critical thinking skills, the University I attended was nothing more than an expensive diploma mill for the children of the wealthy

Chris Hedges published this book eight years ago and the things he predicted have sadly been realized
Notable quotes:
"... his screed is a liberating tonic against the crazy-making double-speak and the lies Americans are sold by our country's elite in order to distract us from the true threat and nature of the Corporate State, from the cult of celebrity, to how our nation's Universities have been hijacked to serve the interests, not of the public, but of our corporate overlords. It explains the self-same conditions in all aspects of our society and culture that we now must face, the ever-shrinking flame of enlightenment being exchanged for the illusory shadows on a cave wall. ..."
"... He fearlessly and incisively calls us out on the obvious farce our democracy has become, how we got here, and highlights the rapidly closing window in which we have to do something to correct it. It is a revelation, and yet he merely states the obvious. The empire has no clothes. ..."
"... One of the most powerful aspects of this book was in regard to how our Universities are run these days. I may be in the minority, but I experienced a life-changing disillusionment when I gained entrance to a prestigious "elite" University. Instead of drawing the best and the brightest, or being a place where scholarship was valued, where students were taught critical thinking skills, the University I attended was nothing more than an expensive diploma mill for the children of the wealthy. In the eyes of the University, students were not minds to be empowered and developed, but walking dollar signs. ..."
"... Instead of critical thinking, students were taught to OBEY, not to question authority, and then handed a piece of paper admitting them to the ruling class that is destroying America without a moral compass. Selfishness, deceit, disregard for the common good, and a win-at-all-costs attitude were rewarded. Empathy, curiosity, dissent, and an honest, intellectually rigorous evaluation of ourselves and our world were punished. Obviously I am not the only one to whom this was cause to fear for the future of our country. ..."
Oct 09, 2017 | www.amazon.com

H. I. on May 13, 2011

This Book Explains EVERYTHING!!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The truth shall set us free.

[Oct 09, 2017] Dennis Kucinich We Must Challenge the Two-Party Duopoly Committed to War by Adam Dick

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... In the interview, Kucinich discusses his work to expose the misinformation used to argue for US government interventions overseas before and during the Iraq War and, later, concerning the US effort to assist in the overthrow of the Syria government. ..."
"... Kucinich, in the interview, places the Iraq War, with its costs including trillions in US government spending and the death of over a million Iraqis, in the context of "this American imperium, this idea that somehow we have the right to establish ourselves anywhere we want" including with "over 800 bases in 132 countries" and to go around the world "looking for dragons to slay while we ignore our own problems here at home." ..."
"... This is a racket. This is a way for people who make arms to cash in or have government contracts to cash in. ..."
"... Rescuing America from a future "cataclysmic war," Kucinich argues, requires that Americans both "realize that our position in the world was never, ever meant to be a cop on the beat, a global cop," and "challenge this two-party duopoly that's committed to war." ..."
Oct 09, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org

In a new interview with host Jesse Ventura at RT, former United States presidential candidate and House of Representatives Member Dennis Kucinich stressed the importance of the American people challenging the "two-party duopoly that's committed to war."

In the interview, Kucinich discusses his work to expose the misinformation used to argue for US government interventions overseas before and during the Iraq War and, later, concerning the US effort to assist in the overthrow of the Syria government.

Regarding the Iraq War, Kucinich, who is an Advisory Board member for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, explains that his research showed that "Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, nothing to do with al-Qaeda's role in 9/11, didn't have any connection to the anthrax attack, didn't have the intention or the capability of attacking the United States, and didn't have the weapons of mass destruction that were being claimed." This information, Kucinich relates, he provided to US Congress members in an October 2, 2002 report showing "there was no cause for war."

Despite Kucinich and other individuals' efforts to stop the march toward war, Congress passed an authorization for use of military force (AUMF) against Iraq later in October, and the invasion of Iraq commenced in March of 2003.

Kucinich, in the interview, places the Iraq War, with its costs including trillions in US government spending and the death of over a million Iraqis, in the context of "this American imperium, this idea that somehow we have the right to establish ourselves anywhere we want" including with "over 800 bases in 132 countries" and to go around the world "looking for dragons to slay while we ignore our own problems here at home."

Why are we "wasting the blood of our nation, the treasure of our nation, our young people" on these overseas activities that are "causing catastrophes among families in other countries?" Kucinich asks. He answers as follows:

This is a racket. This is a way for people who make arms to cash in or have government contracts to cash in.
Continuing with his explanation for the support for the Iraq War and other US military intervention abroad, Kucinich says:
The problem today we have in Washington is that both political parties have converged with the military-industrial complex, fulfilling President Eisenhower's nightmare and setting America on a path toward destruction.

Rescuing America from a future "cataclysmic war," Kucinich argues, requires that Americans both "realize that our position in the world was never, ever meant to be a cop on the beat, a global cop," and "challenge this two-party duopoly that's committed to war."

Watch Kucinich's complete interview here:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/3n5w1xYmV8A


Copyright © 2017 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
Please donate to the Ron Paul Institute

[Oct 08, 2017] Todays Republicans Democrats are just two sides of the same coin. We ought to just call them what they really all are -- Neocons.

Notable quotes:
"... I'd like to see this: President Rand Paul, VP Tulsi Gabbard, chief of staff Ron Paul, and Sec. of Defense Wesley Clark, for starters. ..."
"... "In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." ..."
Oct 08, 2017 | steemit.com

steemihal last month

People need to learn, relearn, and talk to others about this. Let's admit it: today's Republicans & Democrats are just two sides of the same coin. We ought to just call them what they really all are -- "Neocons."

Both sides need to be replaced by truly independent voters giving strength to an administration that is neither R nor D, and that should be the Libertarians. Trump is not one, but he's going to end up making the way for them during his four years.

I'd like to see this: President Rand Paul, VP Tulsi Gabbard, chief of staff Ron Paul, and Sec. of Defense Wesley Clark, for starters.

cve3 2 months ago

It was either Mark Twain or Samuel Clemens who said "In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot."

[Oct 07, 2017] Neoliberals seizes power with no intention of relinquishing it. Ever.

This is what inverted totalitarism is about.
Oct 07, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

psychohistorian | Oct 6, 2017 11:07:01 PM | 25

"We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives.

They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal.

We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power."

George Orwell, 1984

[Oct 05, 2017] The Curley effect -- the political strategy of increasing the relative size of one's political base through distortionary, wealth-reducing policies to win elections

Oct 05, 2017 | www.unz.com

The Curley Effect Versus the Kennedy Effect
[...]
We call this strategy -- increasing the relative size of one's political base through distortionary, wealth-reducing policies -- the Curley effect. But it is hardly unique to Curley. Other American mayors, but also politicians around the world, have pursued policies that encouraged emigration of their political enemies, raising poverty but gaining political advantage.

http://www.unz.com/isteve/the-curley-effect-versus-the-kennedy-effect/
[...]
http://www.unz.com/isteve/the-curley-effect-versus-the-kennedy-effect/#comment-1619098

Another one to add to that list, the Slim Effect :

http://www.unz.com/article/the-killing-of-history/#comment-2020911
[...]
http://www.unz.com/article/the-killing-of-history/#comment-2022987

WHAT IS OUR PREDICAMENT?
[...]
http://www.population-security.org/25-CH17.html#1

IF WE CONTINUE AS WE ARE NOW?
[...]
http://www.population-security.org/25-CH17.html#4

DISUNITING OF AMERICA
[...]
http://www.population-security.org/24-CH16.html#12

More here:

The "Latino" Oligarchy, as is often the case with Mercantile elites, is short-sighted and profit oriented. The "Latino" Oligarchy, as is often the case with Mercantile elites, is short-sighted and profit oriented. Their alliance with the Church has put in place a system that pays no heed to genetic inheritance.

http://www.unz.com/isteve/mexico-is-a-libertarian-paradise/#comment-2028063

and here:

He makes an interesting point that the drug war has pushed down labor costs in Mexico and that that is, crazily enough, a good thing from an economic/libertarian/oligarch point of view

http://www.unz.com/isteve/mexico-is-a-libertarian-paradise/#comment-2028126

NAFTA, Mexico and Drug Cartels

Here an excerpt from another comment, that is still in the moderation stage, so the link will not lead to anywhere at the moment; it might or might not get approved later on though. I tried to keep the comment as uncontroversial and as short as possible: http://www.unz.com/isteve/sailer-in-takis-the-mess-before-maria/#comment-2031723

Puerto Rican origin population growth has been powered mainly by an increase in those born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia, rather than by the increasing influx of migrants from the island.

Source: http://www.pewhispanic.org/2014/08/11/chapter-1-puerto-ricans-on-the-u-s-mainland/

Overpopulation: The Ultimate Exploiter

http://churchandstate.org.uk/2017/08/overpopulation-the-ultimate-exploiter/

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

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

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

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

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

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

Workers and Bosses: Mortality Rates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consequences of Inequalities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://nobillionairescom.dotster.com/

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

https://youtu.be/qI5lC4Z_T80

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Oct 04, 2017] New Jersey is a One-Party State by Richard Moser

Oct 02, 2017 | www.counterpunch.org

The race for governor of New Jersey is the most important election of 2017. With so much at stake you might think the people would have a real choice, and they do, its just not the choices presented by the Democrats and Republicans.

When it comes down to what really matters -- power and money -- New Jersey is run by machine politics and the insiders know how to wheel and deal.

Power in the Garden State is managed by a shifting alliance of political machines, ready to cut deals, share power and scratch each others back. At least that is how its been since Chris Christie came to rule the roost.

60 Democratic officials endorsed Christie in 2013, including major Democratic machine bosses .

Let that sink in. 60 elected Democrats endorsed Christie.

In one of the best pieces of investigative reporting ever written on New Jersey politics Alec MacGillis states:

Christie owes his rise to some of the most toxic forces in his state -- powerful bosses who ensure that his vow to clean up New Jersey will never come to pass. He has allowed them to escape scrutiny, rewarded them for their support, and punished their enemies. All along, even as it looked like Christie was attacking the machine, he was really just mastering it.

MacGillis continues to describe the gears and wheels:

In most of the United States, the big political machines have been broken, or reduced to wheezing versions of their former selves. In New Jersey, though, they've endured like nowhere else. The state has retained its excessively local distribution of power -- 566 municipalities, 21 counties, and innumerable commissions and authorities, all of them generous repositories of contracts and jobs. The place still has bona fide bosses -- perhaps not as colorful as the old ones, but about as powerful. The bosses drum up campaign cash from people and firms seeking public jobs and contracts, and direct it to candidates, who take care of the bosses and the contributors -- a self-perpetuating cycle

The relationship between Democratic machine bosses and Christie was so cozy that in the 2013 gubernatorial race the Democratic Party failed to support its own candidate, Barbara Buono.

In her concession speech Buono thanked her supporters who:

"withstood the onslaught of Betrayal from our own party .The Democratic political bosses, some elected, some not made a deal with this governor .They did not do it for the State they did it out of a desire to help themselves."

The machines effectively deprive the voters of New Jersey of a free, fair and competitive election.

This time around it's Christie that " kicks sand " in the face of the Republican candidate even thought his very own Lt. Governor. Guadagno is way down in the polls and millions short.

After Christie's gross absenteeism during his vain run for the Presidency, Bridgegate, Beachgate, plundering of the treasury with record giveaways to favored corporations , the protection and rescue of Exxon and the unprecedented low approval ratings to show for it, there is nothing Christie can or will do to help.

Referring to his miserable poll ratings Christie said , "Poll numbers matter when you're running for something .And I don't care." He used New Jersey for his personal gain and trashed the Republican Party, but no worries, now its the Democrats turn.

The big money knows the game and former Christie donors have switched to supporting Murphy.

A Republican politician, Chris Brown, is quoted in PoliticoNewJersey as saying:

I can only speak for myself and say that I believe there has been an unholy alliance between Governor Christie and Senator Sweeney, which I don't believe is in the best interest of the people I represent in Atlantic County or this state ."

Where are the lesser of two evils in New Jersey?

When it came time to attack workers they were one big happy family.

As reported in The Nation:

[W]hen Christie launched an aggressive assault on the pensions and health-care benefits of state employees in 2011, he did so with the support of Norcross, DiVincenzo, and other Democratic bosses, whose allies in the Assembly joined the Republican governor to give him the margin he needed to pass the changes despite massive protests outside the State House by the NJEA, the CWA, and other unions.In June of that year, Wisniewski appeared on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show, where he joined her in bemoaning the state of the Democratic Party and added, in regard to the pension-"reform" fiasco: "We fought real hard, but unfortunately there were some Democrats who chose to side with the Republicans on this bill."

Some Democrats? Just the most powerful Democrats in the state.

Watch this revealing video of Joseph DiVincenzo, Democratic machine boss of Essex county endorse Chris Christie of Governor . DiVincenzo took the opportunity to champion Christie's attacks against workers. DiVincenzo then accurately praises Shelia Oliver, now Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor, for moving the Christie agenda when Oliver was Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly.

Joe DiVincenzo is Shelia Oliver's political mentor and boss on her day job. Machine much?

New Jersey's supreme Democratic boss is also a long-term ally of Christie. George Norcross and his brothers Phil and Donald have built their careers on the city of Camden . After 30 years of such leadership the people of Camden are desperately poor and plagued by all the problems extreme poverty includes. Read this scathing critique of Norcorss's recent attempt to develop Camden.

George Norcross lives a life of luxury greasing Christie's wheels and hanging out at Trump's Mar-a-Lago where he can easily toss the $200,000 a year membership fee to rub shoulders with the rich and powerful. Camden gets poverty, crime, violence and silence. Norcross gets caviar, cash and Trump's company.

The machine bosses decided their narrow interest was far more important than giving the people of New Jersey a real choice. And so we got Chris Christie delivered on a platter by the Democrats themselves. Now its the Democrat's turn.

And if you think there is no payoff, then tell me why the cash-strapped state government approved a $86 million tax break for an insurance company run by -- you guessed it -- New Jersey's most powerful Democrat, George Norcross .

Any complaints from supposed Republican Chris Christie for lining the pockets of the leading Democrat? None. One hand washes the other and the people of New Jersey get the shaft. And the shaft is coming.

According to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, New Jersey is ranked 50th , among US states for its fiscal health. Will Murphy repeat Corzine by making fine sounding promises followed by austerity?

There is only one reason that New Jersey -- one of the riches states in the richest country in the history of the world -- has budget problems and that, in the end, is the machine.

And Phil "Goldman-Sachs" Murphy has signaled his acceptance and alliance with the machine by appointing tried and true team player Shelia Oliver as his running mate.

Murphy does not have to run hard. The fix is in and he is way ahead on money and polls. Why have a ground game when the real game is to marry New Jersey's old-school machine with the most greedy, ruthless players on Wall Street and on Trump's cabinet: Goldman Sachs.

Machine meets machine, falls in love and we live unhappily ever after.

But, what is broken in Jersey can be fixed in Jersey if we have the courage and vision to restore competition, democracy and basic honestly to politics. This election we are lucky to have a real alternative with the Green Party candidates for governor Seth-Kaper Dale and Lisa Durden.

It's time to stop voting for the bosses unless we want to be political prisoners for the rest of our lives.

[Oct 04, 2017] What emerges from his meticulous and merciless chronicle at last is a picture of Uncle Sam with a ring in his nose, and a thousand cords flowing from it, and a hearty band of swindlers yanking every cord It reduces democracy, not only to absurdity, but also to obscenity.

Oct 04, 2017 | www.unz.com

jacques sheete > ,

October 3, 2017 at 9:58 pm GMT

What emerges from his meticulous and merciless chronicle at last is a picture of Uncle Sam with a ring in his nose, and a thousand cords flowing from it, and a hearty band of swindlers yanking every cord It reduces democracy, not only to absurdity, but also to obscenity.

-H.L. Mencken, Hornswoggling the Rabble, review of Behind the Scenes in Politics, by Anonymous
The American Mercury, October 1924, p. 252

http://www.unz.org/Pub/AmMercury-1924oct-00252

I would add, "perversity."

[Oct 03, 2017] A substantial body of political science research convincingly establishes that elections are pretty much bought; campaign funding alone is a remarkably good predictor of electability, for Congress as well as for the presidency

Notable quotes:
"... majority of the electorate -- those lower on the income scale -- are effectively disenfranchised, in that their representatives disregard their preferences. ..."
Oct 03, 2017 | www.unz.com

Barsamian: Do you see any encouraging activity on the Democrats' side? Or is it time to begin thinking about a third party?

Chomsky: There is a lot to think about. The most remarkable feature of the 2016 election was the Bernie Sanders campaign, which broke the pattern set by over a century of U.S. political history. A substantial body of political science research convincingly establishes that elections are pretty much bought; campaign funding alone is a remarkably good predictor of electability, for Congress as well as for the presidency.

It also predicts the decisions of elected officials. Correspondingly, a considerable majority of the electorate -- those lower on the income scale -- are effectively disenfranchised, in that their representatives disregard their preferences.

[Oct 01, 2017] Attempts to buy US elections using perverted notion of free speech were deliberate. This is an immanent feature of neoliberalism which being Trotskyism for the rich deny democracy for anybody outside the top one percent (or, may be, top 10-20 percent)

Highly recommended!
In 1970th the new neoliberal "capitalists of all countries, unite !" slogan displaced the old one: "Proletarians of all countries, unite!" Since the late 70th, the leading capitalist states in North America and Western Europe have pursued neoliberal policies and institutional changes. The peripheral and semi peripheral states in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe, under the pressure of the leading capitalist states (primarily the United States) and international monetary institutions (IMF and the World Bank), were forced to adopt "structural adjustments," "shock therapies," or "economic reforms," to open their economies to transactionals and to restructure them in accordance with the requirements of the global neoliberal empire led by the USA.
The regime enforced in countries of the global neoliberal empire typically includes monetarist policies to lower inflation and maintain fiscal balance (often achieved by reducing public expenditures and raising the interest rate), "flexible" labor markets (meaning removing labor market regulations, cutting social welfare and facilitating legal and illegal immigration from poor countries to drive wages down), trade and financial liberalization, and privatization. These policies were an attack by the global finance capital on the working people of the world. Under neoliberal capitalism, decades of social progress and developmental efforts have been reversed. Global inequality in income and wealth has reached unprecedented levels sometimes exceeding the level reached in 1920th. In much of the world, working people have suffered pauperization. Entire countries have been reduced to misery.
Notable quotes:
"... What's missing here is the way in which the capitalist class orchestrated its efforts during the 1970s and early 1980s. I think it would be fair to say that at that time - in the English-speaking world anyway - the corporate capitalist class became pretty unified. ..."
"... For example, you see reforms of campaign finance that treated contributions to campaigns as a form of free speech . There's a long tradition in the United States of corporate capitalists buying elections but now it was legalized rather than being under the table as corruption. ..."
"... Overall I think this period was defined by a broad movement across many fronts, ideological and political. And the only way you can explain that broad movement is by recognizing the relatively high degree of solidarity in the corporate capitalist class. ..."
www.jacobinmag.com
What's missing here is the way in which the capitalist class orchestrated its efforts during the 1970s and early 1980s. I think it would be fair to say that at that time - in the English-speaking world anyway - the corporate capitalist class became pretty unified.

They agreed on a lot of things, like the need for a political force to really represent them. So you get the capture of the Republican Party, and an attempt to undermine, to some degree, the Democratic Party.

From the 1970s the Supreme Court made a bunch of decisions that allowed the corporate capitalist class to buy elections more easily than it could in the past.

For example, you see reforms of campaign finance that treated contributions to campaigns as a form of free speech. There's a long tradition in the United States of corporate capitalists buying elections but now it was legalized rather than being under the table as corruption.

Overall I think this period was defined by a broad movement across many fronts, ideological and political. And the only way you can explain that broad movement is by recognizing the relatively high degree of solidarity in the corporate capitalist class.

Capital reorganized its power in a desperate attempt to recover its economic wealth and its influence, which had been seriously eroded from the end of the 1960s into the 1970s.

[Sep 29, 2017] Bernie Sanders To Democrats This Is What a Radical Foreign Policy Looks Like

It is impossible to understand the current wave of the US militarism without understanding neoliberalism and, especially, neoconservatism -- the dominant force in the US foreign policy since Reagan.
Sep 29, 2017 | theintercept.com

... ... ...

Many of my colleagues, Republican colleagues, here in the Senate, for example, disparage the United Nations, he says, sitting across the table from me, in front of a wall of Vermont tourism posters. While clearly the United Nations could be more effective, it is imperative that we strengthen international institutions, because at the end of the day, while it may not be sexy, it may not be glamorous, it may not allow for great soundbites, simply the idea of people coming together and talking and arguing is a lot better than countries going to war.

... ... ...

The senator makes clear that unilateralism, the belief that we can simply overthrow governments that we dont want, that has got to be re-examined. After referencing the Iraq War -- one of the great foreign policy blunders in the history of this country -- the senator touches on another historic blunder which, to his credit, few of his fellow senators would be willing to discuss, let alone critique. In 1953, the United States, with the British, overthrew [Mohammed] Mossadegh, the prime minister of Iran – and this was to benefit British oil interests, he reminds me. The result was the shah came into power, who was a very ruthless man, and the result of that was that we had the Iranian Revolution, which takes us to where we are right now.

...So far this year, Sanders has hired Matt Duss , a respected foreign affairs analyst and former president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP), as his foreign policy adviser, and has given speeches at the liberal Jewish lobbying group, J Street, where he condemned Israels continued occupation of Palestinian territories as being contrary to fundamental American values, and at the centrist Carnegie Endowment of International Peace, where he rebuked Russian President Vladimir Putin for trying to weaken the transatlantic alliance.

Last week, my colleague Glenn Greenwald penned a column in The Intercept headlined, The Clinton Book Tour Is Largely Ignoring the Vital Role of Endless War in the 2016 Election Result. Greenwald argued that Clintons advocacy of multiple wars and other military actions pushed some swing voters into the arms of both Donald Trump and third-party candidates, such as Jill Stein. I ask Sanders whether he agrees with this analysis.

I mean, thats a whole other issue. And I dont know the answer to that. I persist. Surely hed concede that foreign policy was a factor in Clintons defeat? He doesnt budge. I want to talk about my speech, not about Hillary Clinton. So foreign policy plays no role in elections?

... ... ...

The U.S. funding plays a very important role, and I would love to see people in the Middle East sit down with the United States government and figure out how U.S. aid can bring people together, not just result in an arms war in that area. So I think there is extraordinary potential for the United States to help the Palestinian people rebuild Gaza and other areas. At the same time, demand that Israel, in their own interests in a way, work with other countries on environmental issues. He then, finally, answers my question: So the answer is yes.

It is -- by the depressingly low standard of modern U.S. politics -- a remarkable and, dare I say it, radical response from Sanders. Aid to Israel in Congress and the pro-Israel community has been sacrosanct, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency noted earlier this year, and no president has seriously proposed cutting it since Gerald Ford in the mid-1970s.

[Sep 25, 2017] Neoliberalism and democracy are incompatible. And they were incompatible from the very beginning, because neoliberalism is a flavor of corporatism, the Trotskyism for the rich

Shedon Volin has much deeper insights...
Notable quotes:
"... What it's called is "freedom," but "freedom" means a subordination to the decisions of concentrated, unaccountable, private power. That's what it means. The institutions of governance -- or other kinds of association that could allow people to participate in decision making -- those are systematically weakened. Margaret Thatcher said it rather nicely in her aphorism about "there is no society, only individuals." ..."
"... Since the Second World War, we have created two means of destruction. Since the neoliberal era, we have dismantled the way of handling them. ..."
"... She was actually, unconsciously no doubt, paraphrasing Marx, who in his condemnation of the repression in France said, "The repression is turning society into a sack of potatoes, just individuals, an amorphous mass can't act together." ..."
"... For Thatcher, it's an ideal!and that's neoliberalism. We destroy or at least undermine the governing mechanisms by which people at least in principle can participate to the extent that society's democratic. So weaken them, undermine unions, other forms of association, leave a sack of potatoes and meanwhile transfer decisions to unaccountable private power all in the rhetoric of freedom. ..."
"... when you impose socioeconomic policies that lead to stagnation or decline for the majority of the population, undermine democracy, remove decision-making out of popular hands, you're going to get anger, discontent, fear take all kinds of forms. And that's the phenomenon that's misleadingly called "populism." ..."
"... I don't know what you think of Pankaj Mishra, but I enjoy his book Age of Anger ..."
"... What was the wondrous economy that was then being praised? It was one in which the wages, the real wages of American workers, were actually lower than they were in 1979 when the neoliberal period began. That's historically unprecedented except for trauma or war or something like that. Here is a long period in which real wages had literally declined, while there was some wealth created but in very few pockets. It was also a period in which new institutions developed, financial institutions. You go back to the '50s and '60s, a so-called Golden Age, banks were connected to the real economy. That was their function. There were also no crashes because there were New Deal regulations. ..."
"... In Europe the way democracy is undermined is very direct1. Decisions are placed in the hands of an unelected troika: the European Commission, which is unelected; the IMF, of course unelected; and the European Central Bank. They make the decisions. So people are very angry, they're losing control of their lives. The economic policies are mostly harming them, and the result is anger, disillusion, and so on. ..."
"... I think the fate of the species depends on it because, remember, it's not just inequality, stagnation. It's terminal disaster. We have constructed a perfect storm. That should be the screaming headlines every day. Since the Second World War, we have created two means of destruction. Since the neoliberal era, we have dismantled the way of handling them. That's our pincers. That's what we face, and if that problem isn't solved, we're done with. ..."
"... It's not the Age of Anger. It's the Age of Resentment against socioeconomic policies which have harmed the majority of the population for a generation and have consciously and in principle undermined democratic participation. ..."
"... Go back to the 1970s. Across the spectrum, elite spectrum, there was deep concern about the activism of the '60s. It's called the "time of troubles." It civilized the country, which is dangerous. What happened is that large parts of the population -- which had been passive, apathetic, obedient -- tried to enter the political arena in one or another way to press their interests and concerns. They're called "special interests." That means minorities, young people, old people, farmers, workers, women. In other words, the population. The population are special interests, and their task is to just watch quietly. And that was explicit. ..."
"... That is the more interesting one [ The Crisis of Democracy ..."
"... But in the '60s they all agreed it became problematic because the special interests started trying to get into the act, and that causes too much pressure and the state can't handle that. ..."
"... Listen to the full conversation with Noam Chomsky on Radio Open Source. ..."
Sep 25, 2017 | www.defenddemocracy.press
Noam Chomsky Neoliberalism Is Destroying Our Democracy Defend Democracy Press

CL: Social democracy

NC: Social democracy, yeah. That's sometimes called "the golden age of modern capitalism." That changed in the '70s with the onset of the neoliberal era that we've been living in since. And if you ask yourself what this era is, its crucial principle is undermining mechanisms of social solidarity and mutual support and popular engagement in determining policy.

It's not called that. What it's called is "freedom," but "freedom" means a subordination to the decisions of concentrated, unaccountable, private power. That's what it means. The institutions of governance -- or other kinds of association that could allow people to participate in decision making -- those are systematically weakened. Margaret Thatcher said it rather nicely in her aphorism about "there is no society, only individuals."

Since the Second World War, we have created two means of destruction. Since the neoliberal era, we have dismantled the way of handling them.

She was actually, unconsciously no doubt, paraphrasing Marx, who in his condemnation of the repression in France said, "The repression is turning society into a sack of potatoes, just individuals, an amorphous mass can't act together." That was a condemnation. For Thatcher, it's an ideal!and that's neoliberalism. We destroy or at least undermine the governing mechanisms by which people at least in principle can participate to the extent that society's democratic. So weaken them, undermine unions, other forms of association, leave a sack of potatoes and meanwhile transfer decisions to unaccountable private power all in the rhetoric of freedom.

Well, what does that do? The one barrier to the threat of destruction is an engaged public, an informed, engaged public acting together to develop means to confront the threat and respond to it. That's been systematically weakened, consciously. I mean, back to the 1970s we've probably talked about this. There was a lot of elite discussion across the spectrum about the danger of too much democracy and the need to have what was called more "moderation" in democracy, for people to become more passive and apathetic and not to disturb things too much, and that's what the neoliberal programs do. So put it all together and what do you have? A perfect storm.

CL: What everybody notices is all the headline things, including Brexit and Donald Trump and Hindu nationalism and nationalism everywhere and Le Pen all kicking in more or less together and suggesting some real world phenomenon.

NC: it's very clear, and it was predictable. You didn't know exactly when, but when you impose socioeconomic policies that lead to stagnation or decline for the majority of the population, undermine democracy, remove decision-making out of popular hands, you're going to get anger, discontent, fear take all kinds of forms. And that's the phenomenon that's misleadingly called "populism."

CL: I don't know what you think of Pankaj Mishra, but I enjoy his book Age of Anger , and he begins with an anonymous letter to a newspaper from somebody who says, "We should admit that we are not only horrified but baffled. Nothing since the triumph of Vandals in Rome and North Africa has seemed so suddenly incomprehensible and difficult to reverse."

NC: Well, that's the fault of the information system, because it's very comprehensible and very obvious and very simple. Take, say the United States, which actually suffered less from these policies than many other countries. Take the year 2007, a crucial year right before the crash.

What was the wondrous economy that was then being praised? It was one in which the wages, the real wages of American workers, were actually lower than they were in 1979 when the neoliberal period began. That's historically unprecedented except for trauma or war or something like that. Here is a long period in which real wages had literally declined, while there was some wealth created but in very few pockets. It was also a period in which new institutions developed, financial institutions. You go back to the '50s and '60s, a so-called Golden Age, banks were connected to the real economy. That was their function. There were also no crashes because there were New Deal regulations.

Starting in the early '70s there was a sharp change. First of all, financial institutions exploded in scale. By 2007 they actually had 40 percent of corporate profits. Furthermore, they weren't connected to the real economy anymore.

In Europe the way democracy is undermined is very direct1. Decisions are placed in the hands of an unelected troika: the European Commission, which is unelected; the IMF, of course unelected; and the European Central Bank. They make the decisions. So people are very angry, they're losing control of their lives. The economic policies are mostly harming them, and the result is anger, disillusion, and so on.

... ... ...

NC: I think the fate of the species depends on it because, remember, it's not just inequality, stagnation. It's terminal disaster. We have constructed a perfect storm. That should be the screaming headlines every day. Since the Second World War, we have created two means of destruction. Since the neoliberal era, we have dismantled the way of handling them. That's our pincers. That's what we face, and if that problem isn't solved, we're done with.

CL: I want to go back Pankaj Mishra and the Age of Anger for a moment!

NC: It's not the Age of Anger. It's the Age of Resentment against socioeconomic policies which have harmed the majority of the population for a generation and have consciously and in principle undermined democratic participation. Why shouldn't there be anger?

CL: Pankaj Mishra calls it -- it's a Nietzschean word -- "ressentiment," meaning this kind of explosive rage. But he says, "It's the defining feature of a world where the modern promise of equality collides with massive disparities of power, education, status and!

NC: Which was designed that way, which was designed that way. Go back to the 1970s. Across the spectrum, elite spectrum, there was deep concern about the activism of the '60s. It's called the "time of troubles." It civilized the country, which is dangerous. What happened is that large parts of the population -- which had been passive, apathetic, obedient -- tried to enter the political arena in one or another way to press their interests and concerns. They're called "special interests." That means minorities, young people, old people, farmers, workers, women. In other words, the population. The population are special interests, and their task is to just watch quietly. And that was explicit.

Two documents came out right in the mid-'70s, which are quite important. They came from opposite ends of the political spectrum, both influential, and both reached the same conclusions. One of them, at the left end, was by the Trilateral Commission -- liberal internationalists, three major industrial countries, basically the Carter administration, that's where they come from. That is the more interesting one [ The Crisis of Democracy , a Trilateral Commission report]. The American rapporteur Samuel Huntington of Harvard, he looked back with nostalgia to the days when, as he put it, Truman was able to run the country with the cooperation of a few Wall Street lawyers and executives. Then everything was fine. Democracy was perfect.

But in the '60s they all agreed it became problematic because the special interests started trying to get into the act, and that causes too much pressure and the state can't handle that.

... ... ...

Listen to the full conversation with Noam Chomsky on Radio Open Source.

[Sep 23, 2017] The Exit Strategy of Empire by Wendy McElro

Highly recommended!
Garrett 's book The People's Pottage The Revolution Was-Ex America-Rise of Empire i ncludes a timeless quote on U.S. foreign policy. "You are imperialistic all the same, whether you realize it or not... You are trying to make the kind of world you want. You are trying to impose the American way of life on other people, whether they want it or not." The "Rise of Empire" opens with the sentence "We have crossed the boundary between Republic and Empire." It contains a critical view of President Truman's usurpation of Congress' power to declare war. Some of the "distinguishing marks" of an empire taken from history were "Domestic policy becomes subordinate to foreign policy" and " A system of satellite nations". I think most of us are would be familiar with those two in modern context. His labeling of this policy as the "Empire of the Bottomless Purse" was historically accurate.
The book was printed in 1953. What's amazing is how little some political ideology has changed since then. Take this quote; "And the mere thought of 'America First', associated as that term is with 'isolationism', has become a liability so extreme that politicians feel obliged to deny ever having entertained it." Think back to Ron Paul's 2008 campaign and how he was labeled an "isolationist" for similar views of nationalism.
Notable quotes:
"... These are not sequential stages of Empire but occur in conjunction with one another and reinforce each other. That means that an attempt to reverse Empire in the direction of a Republic can begin with weakening any of the five characteristics in any order. ..."
"... Deconstructing these executive props, one by one, weakens the Empire. When all five components are deconstructing, the process presents a possible path to dissolving Empire itself. ..."
"... That was why Garrett does not deal with how to reverse the process of Empire. Once an empire is established, he argues, it becomes a "prisoner of history" in a trap of its own making. He writes, "A Republic may change its course, or reverse it, and that will be its own business. But the history of Empire is a world history and belongs to many people. A Republic is not obliged to act upon the world, either to change it or instruct it. Empire, on the other hand, must put forth its power." ..."
"... Collective security and fear are intimately connected concepts. It is no coincidence that the sixth component of Empire -- imprisonment -- comes directly after the two components of "a system of satellite nations" and, "a complex of vaunting and fear." ..."
"... An empire thinks that satellites are necessary for its collective security. Satellites think the empire is necessary for territorial and economic survival; but they are willing to defect if an empire with a better deal beckons. America knows this and scrambles to satisfy satellites that could become fickle. Garrett quotes Harry Truman, who created America's modern system of satellites. "We must make sure that our friends and allies overseas continue to get the help they need to make their full contribution to security and progress for the whole free world. This means not only military aid -- though that is vital -- it also means real programs of economic and technical assistance." ..."
"... Garrett also emphasizes how domestic pressure imprisons Empire. One of the most powerful domestic pressures is fear. An atmosphere of fear -- real or created -- drives public support of foreign policy and makes it more difficult for Empire to retreat from those policies. ..."
"... Empire has "'less control over its own fate than a republic,' he [Garrett] commented because it was a 'prisoner of history', ruled by fear. Fear of what? 'Fear of the barbarian.'" ..."
"... It does not matter whether the enemy is actually a barbarian. What matters is that citizens of Empire believe in the enemy's savagery and support a military posture toward him. Domestic fear drives the constant politics of satellite nations, protective treaties, police actions, and war. Foreign entanglements lead to increased global involvement and deeper commitments. The two reinforce each other. ..."
"... The fifth characteristic of Empire is not merely fear but also "vaunting." Vaunting means boasting about or praising something excessively -- for example, to laud and exaggerate America's role in the world. Fear provides the emotional impetus for conquest; vaunting provides the moral justification for acting upon the fear. The moral duty is variously phrased: leadership, a balance of power, peace, democracy, the preservation of civilization, humanitarianism. From this point, it is a small leap to conclude that the ends sanctify the means. Garrett observes that "there is soon a point from which there is no turning back .The argument for going on is well known. As Woodrow Wilson once asked, 'Shall we break the heart of the world?' So now many are saying, 'We cannot let the free world down'. Moral leadership of the world is not a role you step into and out of as you like." ..."
Sep 23, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org
The Exit Strategy of Empire Written y Friday September 22, 2017
The Roman Empire never doubted that it was the defender of civilization. Its good intentions were peace, law and order. The Spanish Empire added salvation. The British Empire added the noble myth of the white man's burden. We have added freedom and democracy.

-- Garet Garrett, Rise of Empire

The first step in creating Empire is to morally justify the invasion and occupation of another nation even if it poses no credible or substantial threat. But if that's the entering strategy, what is the exit one?

One approach to answering is to explore how Empire has arisen through history and whether the process can be reversed. Another is to conclude that no exit is possible; an Empire inevitably self-destructs under the increasing weight of what it is -- a nation exercising ultimate authority over an array of satellite states. Empires are vulnerable to overreach, rebellion, war, domestic turmoil, financial exhaustion, and competition for dominance.

In his monograph Rise of Empire, the libertarian journalist Garet Garrett (1878–1954), lays out a blueprint for how Empire could possibly be reversed as well as the reason he believes reversal would not occur. Garrett was in a unique position to comment insightfully on the American empire because he'd had a front-row seat to events that cemented its status: World War II and the Cold War. World War II America already had a history of conquest and occupation, of course, but, during the mid to late 20th century, the nation became a self-consciously and unapologetic empire with a self-granted mandate to spread its ideology around the world.

A path to reversing Empire

Garrett identifies the first five components of Empire:

These are not sequential stages of Empire but occur in conjunction with one another and reinforce each other. That means that an attempt to reverse Empire in the direction of a Republic can begin with weakening any of the five characteristics in any order.

Garrett did not directly address the strategy of undoing Empire, but his description of its creation can be used to good advantage. The first step is to break down each component of Empire into more manageable chunks. For example, the executive branch accumulates power in various ways. They include:

Deconstructing these executive props, one by one, weakens the Empire. When all five components are deconstructing, the process presents a possible path to dissolving Empire itself.

A sixth component of Empire

But in Rise of Empire, Garet Garrett offers a chilling assessment based on his sixth component of Empire. There is no path out. A judgment that renders prevention all the more essential.

That was why Garrett does not deal with how to reverse the process of Empire. Once an empire is established, he argues, it becomes a "prisoner of history" in a trap of its own making. He writes, "A Republic may change its course, or reverse it, and that will be its own business. But the history of Empire is a world history and belongs to many people. A Republic is not obliged to act upon the world, either to change it or instruct it. Empire, on the other hand, must put forth its power."

In his book For A New Liberty, Murray Rothbard expands on Garrett's point: "[The] United States, like previous empires, feel[s] itself to be 'a prisoner of history.' For beyond fear lies 'collective security,' and the playing of the supposedly destined American role upon the world stage."

Collective security and fear are intimately connected concepts. It is no coincidence that the sixth component of Empire -- imprisonment -- comes directly after the two components of "a system of satellite nations" and, "a complex of vaunting and fear."

Satellite nations

"We speak of our own satellites as allies and friends or as freedom loving nations," Garrett wrote. "Nevertheless, satellite is the right word. The meaning of it is the hired guard." Why hired? Although men of Empire speak of losing China [or] Europe [how] could we lose China or Europe, since they never belonged to us? What they mean is that we may lose a following of dependent people who act as an outer guard."

An empire thinks that satellites are necessary for its collective security. Satellites think the empire is necessary for territorial and economic survival; but they are willing to defect if an empire with a better deal beckons. America knows this and scrambles to satisfy satellites that could become fickle. Garrett quotes Harry Truman, who created America's modern system of satellites. "We must make sure that our friends and allies overseas continue to get the help they need to make their full contribution to security and progress for the whole free world. This means not only military aid -- though that is vital -- it also means real programs of economic and technical assistance."

In contrast to a Republic, Empire is both a master and a servant because foreign pressure cements it into the military and economic support of satellite nations around the globe, all of which have their own agendas.

Garrett also emphasizes how domestic pressure imprisons Empire. One of the most powerful domestic pressures is fear. An atmosphere of fear -- real or created -- drives public support of foreign policy and makes it more difficult for Empire to retreat from those policies. In his introduction to Garrett's book Ex America, Bruce Ramsey addresses Garrett's point. Ramsey writes, Empire has "'less control over its own fate than a republic,' he [Garrett] commented because it was a 'prisoner of history', ruled by fear. Fear of what? 'Fear of the barbarian.'"

It does not matter whether the enemy is actually a barbarian. What matters is that citizens of Empire believe in the enemy's savagery and support a military posture toward him. Domestic fear drives the constant politics of satellite nations, protective treaties, police actions, and war. Foreign entanglements lead to increased global involvement and deeper commitments. The two reinforce each other.

The fifth characteristic of Empire is not merely fear but also "vaunting." Vaunting means boasting about or praising something excessively -- for example, to laud and exaggerate America's role in the world. Fear provides the emotional impetus for conquest; vaunting provides the moral justification for acting upon the fear. The moral duty is variously phrased: leadership, a balance of power, peace, democracy, the preservation of civilization, humanitarianism. From this point, it is a small leap to conclude that the ends sanctify the means. Garrett observes that "there is soon a point from which there is no turning back .The argument for going on is well known. As Woodrow Wilson once asked, 'Shall we break the heart of the world?' So now many are saying, 'We cannot let the free world down'. Moral leadership of the world is not a role you step into and out of as you like."

Conclusion

In this manner, Garrett believed, Empire imprisons itself in the trap of a perpetual war for peace and stability, which are always stated goals. Yet, as Garrett concluded, the reality is war and instability.

It is not clear whether he was correct that Empire could not be reversed. Whether or not he was, it is at its creation that Empire is best opposed.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation .


Related

[Sep 18, 2017] End Democracy Promotion Balderdash by James Bovard

Notable quotes:
"... The Trump administration's foreign policy often resembles a Mad Hatter's Tea Party or a loose cannon on a ship deck. But every now and then, a good idea emerges from the fracas. Such is the case with a reform that could sharply reduce America's piety exports. ..."
"... this is like presuming that any preacher who fails to promise to eradicate sin is a tool of the devil. Instead, it is time to recognize the carnage the US has sown abroad in the name of democracy. ..."
"... In his 2005 inaugural address, President George W. Bush proclaimed that the US would "seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." While Bush's invocation thrilled Washington, the rest of the world paid more attention to his support for any tyrant who joined his War on Terror. ..."
"... In 2011, Obama portrayed the US bombing of Libya as a triumph of democratic values. After Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi was killed, Obama speedily announced that Libyans "now have the opportunity to determine their own destiny in a new and democratic Libya." But violence spiraled out of control and claimed thousands of victims (including four Americans killed in Benghazi in 2012). Similarly, Obama administration officials invoked democracy to justify arming quasi-terrorist groups in Syria's civil war, worsening a conflict that killed hundreds of thousands and created millions of refuges. ..."
"... Democracy promotion gives US policymakers a license to meddle almost anywhere on Earth. The National Endowment for Democracy , created in 1983, has been caught interfering in elections in France, Panama , Costa Rica , Ukraine , Venezuela, Nicaragua, Russia, Czechoslovakia , Poland , Haiti and many other nations. The State Department has a long list of similar pratfalls, including pouring vast amounts of money in vain efforts to beget democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan . ..."
"... Rather than abandoning all moral goals in foreign policy, Washington could instead embrace a strict policy of "honesty in democracy promotion." Under this standard, the US government would cease trying to covertly influence foreign elections, cease glorifying tinhorn dictators who rigged elections to capture power, and cease bankrolling authoritarian regimes that blight democratic reforms in the bud. But the odds of Washington policymakers abiding by those restraints is akin to the chances that all of Trump's tweets will henceforth be edifying. ..."
"... Rather than delivering political salvation, US interventions abroad more often produce "no-fault carnage" (no one in Washington is ever held liable). At a minimum, we should get our own constitutional house in order before seeking to rescue benighted foreigners. Ironically, many of the same people who equate Trump with Hitler still insist that the US government should continue its political missionary work during his reign. ..."
Aug 13, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org

The Trump administration's foreign policy often resembles a Mad Hatter's Tea Party or a loose cannon on a ship deck. But every now and then, a good idea emerges from the fracas. Such is the case with a reform that could sharply reduce America's piety exports.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is revising the State Department mission statement to focus on promoting "the security, prosperity and interests of the American people globally." Washington pundits are aghast that "democracy promotion" is no longer trumpeted as a top US foreign policy goal. Elliott Abrams, George W. Bush's "democracy czar," complained, "We used to want a just and democratic world, and now apparently we don't the message being sent will be a great comfort to every dictator in the world."

But this is like presuming that any preacher who fails to promise to eradicate sin is a tool of the devil. Instead, it is time to recognize the carnage the US has sown abroad in the name of democracy.

The US has periodically pledged to spread democracy ever since President Woodrow Wilson announced in 1913: "I am going to teach the South American republics to elect good men!" Democracy is so important that the US government refuses to stand idly by when foreign voters go astray. Since 1946, the US has intervened -- usually covertly -- in more than 80 foreign elections to assist its preferred candidate or party.

In his 2005 inaugural address, President George W. Bush proclaimed that the US would "seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." While Bush's invocation thrilled Washington, the rest of the world paid more attention to his support for any tyrant who joined his War on Terror.

President Barack Obama was supposed to redeem the honor of US foreign policy. In 2011, Obama portrayed the US bombing of Libya as a triumph of democratic values. After Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi was killed, Obama speedily announced that Libyans "now have the opportunity to determine their own destiny in a new and democratic Libya." But violence spiraled out of control and claimed thousands of victims (including four Americans killed in Benghazi in 2012). Similarly, Obama administration officials invoked democracy to justify arming quasi-terrorist groups in Syria's civil war, worsening a conflict that killed hundreds of thousands and created millions of refuges.

But the Obama team, like prior administrations, did not permit its democratic pretensions to impede business as usual. After Egyptian protestors toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak, Obama pledged to assist that nation "pursue a credible transition to a democracy ." But the US government disapproved of that nation's first elected leader, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi. After the Egyptian military deposed Morsi in 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry bizarrely praised Egypt's generals for " restoring democracy ." Similarly, many Ethiopians were horrified when Obama visited their country in 2015 and praised its regime as " democratically elected " -- despite a sham election and its brutal suppression of journalists, bloggers and other critics.

Democracy promotion gives US policymakers a license to meddle almost anywhere on Earth. The National Endowment for Democracy , created in 1983, has been caught interfering in elections in France, Panama , Costa Rica , Ukraine , Venezuela, Nicaragua, Russia, Czechoslovakia , Poland , Haiti and many other nations. The State Department has a long list of similar pratfalls, including pouring vast amounts of money in vain efforts to beget democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan .

Democracy at its best is a wonderful form of government but many so-called democracies nowadays are simply elective despotisms. Elections abroad are often herd counts to determine who gets to fleece the herd. Many democracies have become kleptocracies where governing is indistinguishable from looting.

In some nations, election victories legitimize destroying voters en masse. This is exemplified by the Philippines, where the government has killed 7,000 suspected drug users and dealers , including several mayors . After President Rodrigo Duterte publicly declared that he would be " happy to slaughter " three million drug users, Trump phoned him and, according to a leaked transcript, said, "I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job [you're doing] on the drug problem." Similarly, Trump congratulated Turkish president Recep Erdogan after he won a referendum that awarded him quasi-dictatorial powers.

It is time to admit that America lacks a Midas touch for spreading democracy. Freedom House reported that, even prior to Trump's election, more than 100 nations have seen declines in democracy since 2005.

Rather than abandoning all moral goals in foreign policy, Washington could instead embrace a strict policy of "honesty in democracy promotion." Under this standard, the US government would cease trying to covertly influence foreign elections, cease glorifying tinhorn dictators who rigged elections to capture power, and cease bankrolling authoritarian regimes that blight democratic reforms in the bud. But the odds of Washington policymakers abiding by those restraints is akin to the chances that all of Trump's tweets will henceforth be edifying.

Rather than delivering political salvation, US interventions abroad more often produce "no-fault carnage" (no one in Washington is ever held liable). At a minimum, we should get our own constitutional house in order before seeking to rescue benighted foreigners. Ironically, many of the same people who equate Trump with Hitler still insist that the US government should continue its political missionary work during his reign.

James Bovard, author of Public Policy Hooligan , is a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors . Follow him on Twitter @JimBovard

Reprinted with author's permission from USA TODAY .

[Sep 18, 2017] Americas Deadliest Export -- Democracy - The Truth about US Foreign Policy and Everything Else by Gary Corseri

Notable quotes:
"... "If you [Americans] are sincere in your desire for peace and security... and if Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book Rogue State." ..."
Amazon.com

William Blum's "Cri de Coeur", February 9, 2013

William Blum's Cri de Coeur
A review of "America's Deadliest Export: Democracy" by William Blum (Zed Books, London/New York, 2013.)

(As it has appeared at DissidentVoice, OpEdNews, etc.):

In activist-author-publisher William Blum's new book, America's Deadliest Export: Democracy, he tells the story of how he got his 15 minutes of fame back in 2006. Osama bin Laden had released an audiotape, declaring:

"If you [Americans] are sincere in your desire for peace and security... and if Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book Rogue State."

Bin Laden then quoted from the Foreword of Blum's 2000 book, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, in which he had mused:

"If I were... president, I could stop terrorist attacks [on us] in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize... to all the widows and the orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism. I would then announce that America's global interventions... have come to an end. And I would inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union but... a foreign country. I would then reduce the military budget by at least 90% and use the savings to pay reparations to the victims. ... That's what I'd do on my first three days in the White House. On the fourth day, I'd be assassinated."

Unfortunately, Blum never made it to the White House! But, fortunately, for those who have read his books or follow his "Anti-Empire Reports" on the Web, he was not assassinated! And now he has collected his reports and essays of the last dozen years or so into a 352-page volume that will not only stand the test of time, but will help to define this disillusioned, morose, violent and unraveling Age.

America's Deadliest... is divided into 21 chapters and an introduction--and there's something to underline or memorize on every page! Sometimes it's just one of Blum's irrepressible quips, and sometimes it's a matter of searing American foreign or domestic policiy that clarifies that Bushwhackian question of yore: "Why do they hate us?"

Reading this scrupulously documented book, I lost count of the times I uttered, "unbelievable!" concerning some nefarious act committed by the US Empire in the name of freedom, democracy and fighting communism or terrorism. Reading Blum's book with an open mind, weighing the evidence, will bleach out any pride in the flag we have planted in so many corpses around the world. The book is a diuretic and emetic!

Blum's style is common sense raised to its highest level. The wonder of America's Deadliest ... is that it covers so much of the sodden, bloody ground of America's march across our post-Second-World-War world, yet tells the story with such deftness and grace-under-fire that the reader is enticed--not moralized, not disquisitionally badgered--, but enticed to consider our globe from a promontory of higher understanding.

Some of the themes Blum covers (and often eviscerates) include:

  1. Why they hate us;
  2. America means well;
  3. We cannot permit a successful alternative to the capitalist model to develop anywhere in the world;
  4. We will use whatever means necessary--including, lies, deception, sabotage, bribery, torture and war--to achieve the above idea.

Along the way, we get glimpses of Blum's experientially rich life. A note "About the Author" tells us that, "He left the State Department in 1967, abandoning his aspiration of becoming a Foreign Service Officer because of his opposition to what the US was doing in Vietnam. He then became a founder and editor of the Washington Free Press, the first "alternative" newspaper in the capital."

In his chapter on "Patriotism," Blum relates how, after a talk, he was asked: "Do you love America?" He responded with what we may take for his credo: "I don't love any country. I'm a citizen of the world. I love certain principles, like human rights, civil liberties, meaningful democracy, an economy which puts people before profits."

America's Deadliest... is a book of wisdom and wit that ponders "how this world became so unbearably cruel, corrupt, unjust, and stupid?" In a pointillistic approach, sowing aphoristic seeds for thought, Blum enumerates instances of that cruelty, often with wry, pained commentary. "War can be seen as America's religion," he tells us. Reflecting on Obama's octupling Bush's number of drones used to assassinate, collaterally kill and terrorize, he affirms:

"Obama is one of the worst things that has ever happened to the American left." And, he avers, "Capitalism is the theory that the worst people, acting from their worst motives, will somehow produce the most good." And then turns around and reminds us--lest we forget--how the mass media have invaded our lives, with memes about patriotism, democracy, God, the "good life": "Can it be imagined that an American president would openly implore America's young people to fight a foreign war to defend `capitalism'?" he wonders.

"The word itself has largely gone out of fashion. The approved references now are to the market economy, free market, free enterprise, or private enterprise."

Cynthia McKinney writes that the book is "corruscating, eye-opening, and essential." Oliver Stone calls it a "fireball of terse information."
Like Howard Zinn, Ralph Nader, Paul Craig Roberts, Cindy Sheehan and Bradley Manning, Blum is committed to setting the historical record straight. His book is dangerous. Steadfast, immutable "truths" one has taken for granted--often since childhood--are exposed as hollow baubles to entertain the un/mis/and dis-informed. One such Blumism recollects Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez's account of a videotape with a very undiplomatic Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and cowboy George Bush: "`We've got to smash somebody's ass quickly,'" Powell said. "`We must have a brute demonstration of power.'

Then Bush spoke: `Kick ass! If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! ... Stay strong! ... Kill them! ... We are going to wipe them out!'"

Blum's intellectual resources are as keen as anyone's writing today. He also adds an ample measure of humanity to his trenchant critiques. He juxtaposes the noble rhetoric of our professed values with the mordant facts of our deeds. The cognitive dissonance makes for a memorable, very unpretty picture of how an immensely privileged people lost themselves, while gorging on junk food, junk politics, junk economics, junk education, junk media. Like an Isaiah, a Jeremiah, he lambastes his own--us!--flaying layers of hypocrisy and betrayals while seeking to reveal the core values of human dignity, empathy and moral rectitude.

Gary Corseri has published and posted prose, poetry and dramas at hundreds of periodicals and websites worldwide, including CommonDreams, Countercurrents, BraveNewWorld.in, OpEdNews, CounterPunch, Outlook India, The New York Times, Dissident Voice. He has published novels, poetry collections and a literary anthology (edited). His dramas have been presented on PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere, and he has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library. He has taught in US public schools and prisons, and at American and Japanese universities. Contact: gary_corseri@comcast.net.

[Sep 18, 2017] Down With Western Democracy !

Notable quotes:
"... German Nazis and Italian Fascists defined their rule as 'democratic', and so does this Empire. The British and French empires that exterminated tens of millions of people all over the world, always promoted themselves as 'democracies'. ..."
"... And now, once again, we are witnessing a tremendous onslaught by the business-political-imperialist Western apparatus, destabilizing or directly destroying entire nations, overthrowing governments and bombing 'rebellious' states into the ground. All this is done in the name of democracy, in the name of freedom. ..."
"... This sacrificial altar is called, Democracy, in direct mockery to what the term symbolizes in its original, Greek, language. ..."
Aug 02, 2014 | CounterPunch

A specter is haunting Europe and Western world - it is this time, the specter of fascism. It came quietly, without great fanfare and parades, without raised hands and loud shouts. But it came, or it returned, as it has always been present in this culture, one that has, for centuries, been enslaving our entire planet.

As was in Nazi Germany, resistance to the fascist empire is again given an unsavory name: terrorism. Partisans and patriots, resistance fighters – all of them were and have always been defined by fascist bigots as terrorists.

By the logic of Empire, to murder millions of men, women and children in all corners of the world abroad is considered legitimate and patriotic, but to defend one's motherland was and is a sign of extremism.

German Nazis and Italian Fascists defined their rule as 'democratic', and so does this Empire. The British and French empires that exterminated tens of millions of people all over the world, always promoted themselves as 'democracies'.

And now, once again, we are witnessing a tremendous onslaught by the business-political-imperialist Western apparatus, destabilizing or directly destroying entire nations, overthrowing governments and bombing 'rebellious' states into the ground. All this is done in the name of democracy, in the name of freedom.

An unelected monster, as it has done for centuries, is playing with the world, torturing some, and plundering others, or both.

The West, in a final act of arrogance, has somehow confused itself with its own concept of God. It has decided that it has the full right to shape the planet, to punish and to reward, to destroy and rebuild as it wishes.

This horrible wave of terror unleashed against our planet, is justified by an increasingly meaningless but fanatically defended dogma, symbolized by a box (made of card or wood, usually), and masses of people sticking pieces of paper into the opening on the top of that box.

This is the altar of Western ideological fundamentalism. This is a supreme idiocy that cannot be questioned, as it guarantees the status quo for ruling elites and business interests, an absurdity that justifies all crimes, all lies and all madness.

This sacrificial altar is called, Democracy, in direct mockery to what the term symbolizes in its original, Greek, language.

***

In our latest book, "On Western Terrorism – from Hiroshima to Drone Warfare", Noam Chomsky commented on the 'democratic' process in the Western world:

"The goal of elections now is to undermine democracy. They are run by the public relations industry and they're certainly not trying to create informed voters who'll make rational choices. They are trying to delude people into making irrational choices. The same techniques that are used to undermine markets are used to undermine democracy. It's one of the major industries in the country and its basic workings are invisible."

But what is it that really signifies this 'sacred' word, this almost religious term, and this pinnacle of Western demagogy? We hear it everywhere. We are ready to sacrifice millions of lives (not ours of course, at least not yet, but definitely lives of the others) in the name of it.

Democracy!

All those grand slogans and propaganda! Last year I visited Pyongyang, but I have to testify that North Koreans are not as good at slogans as the Western propagandists are.

"In the name of freedom and democracy!" Hundreds of millions tons of bombs fell from the sky on the Laotian, Cambodian and Vietnamese countryside bodies were burned by napalm, mutilated by spectacular explosions.

"Defending democracy!" Children were raped in front of their parents in Central America, men and women machine-gunned down by death squads that had been trained in military bases in the United States of America.

"Civilizing the world and spreading democracy!" That has always been a European slogan, their 'stuff to do', and a way of showing their great civilization to others. Amputating hands of Congolese people, murdering around ten million of them, and many more in Namibia, East Africa, West Africa and Algiers; gassing people of the Middle East ( "I am strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes", to borrow from the colorful lexicon of (Sir) Winston Churchill).

So what is it really? Who is it, that strange lady with an axe in her hand and with a covered face – the lady whose name is Democracy?

***

It is all very simple, actually. The term originates from the Greek δημοκρατία (dēmokratía) "rule of the people". Then and now, it was supposed to be in direct contrast to ἀριστοκρατία (aristokratia), that means "rule of an elite".

'Rule of the people' Let us just visit a few examples of the 'rule of the people'.

People spoke, they ruled, they voted 'democratically' in Chile, bringing in the mild and socialist government of 'Popular Unity' of Salvador Allende.

Sure, the Chilean education system was so brilliant, its political and social system so wonderful, that it inspired not only many countries in Latin America, but also those in far away Mediterranean Europe.

That could not be tolerated, because, as we all know, it is only white Europe and North America that can be allowed to supply the world with the blueprint for any society, anywhere on this planet. It was decided that "Chile has to scream", that its economy had to be ruined and the "Popular Unity" government kicked out of power.

Henry Kissinger, belonging, obviously, to a much higher race and country of a much higher grade, made a straightforward and in a way very 'honest' statement, clearly defining the North American stand towards global democracy: "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its people."

And so Chile was ravaged. Thousands of people were murdered and 'our son-of-a-bitch' was brought to power. General Pinochet was not elected: he bombed the Presidential palace in Santiago, he savagely tortured the men and women who were elected by the Chilean people, and he "disappeared" thousands.

But that was fine, because democracy, as it is seen from Washington, London or Paris, is nothing more and nothing less than what the white man needs in order to control this planet, unopposed and preferably never criticized.

Of course Chile was not the only place where 'democracy' was 'redefined'. And it was not the most brutal scenario either, although it was brutal enough. But it was a very symbolic 'case', because here, there could be absolutely no dispute: an extremely well educated, middle class country, voted in transparent elections, just to have its government murdered, tortured and exiled, simply because it was too democratic and too involved in improving the lives of its people.

There were countless instances of open spite coming from the North, towards the 'rule of the people' in Latin America. For centuries, there have been limitless examples. Every country 'south of the border' in the Western Hemisphere, became a victim.

After all, the self-imposed Monroe Doctrine gave North Americans 'unquestionable rights' to intervene and 'correct' any 'irresponsible' democratic moves made by the lower races inhabiting Central and South America as well as the Caribbean Islands.

There were many different scenarios of real ingenuity, in how to torture countries that embarked on building decent homes for their people, although soon there was evidence of repetitiveness and predictability.

The US has been either sponsoring extremely brutal coups (like the one in Guatemala in 1954), or simply occupying the countries in order to overthrow their democratically elected governments. Justifications for such interventions have varied: it was done in order to 'restore order', to 'restore freedom and democracy', or to prevent the emergence of 'another Cuba'.

From the Dominican Republic in 1965 to Grenada in 1983, countries were 'saved from themselves' through the introduction (by orders from mainly the Protestant North American elites with clearly pathological superiority complexes) of death squads that administered torture, rape and extrajudicial executions. People were killed because their democratic decisions were seen as 'irresponsible' and therefore unacceptable.

While there has been open racism in every aspect of how the Empire controlled its colonies, 'political correctness' was skillfully introduced, effectively reducing to a bare minimum any serious critiques of the societies that were forced into submission.

In Indonesia, between 1 and 3 million people were murdered in the years1965/66, in a US -sponsored coup, because there too, was a 'great danger' that the people would rule and decide to vote 'irresponsibly', bringing the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), at that time the third most numerous Communist Party anywhere in the world, to power.

The democratically elected President of Congo, Patrice Lumumba, was murdered in 1961, by the joint efforts of the United States and Europe, simply because he was determined to use the vast natural resources of his country to feed his own people; and because he dared to criticize Western colonialism and imperialism openly and passionately.

East Timor lost a third of its population simply because its people, after gaining independence from Portugal, dared to vote the left-leaning FRETILIN into power. "We are not going to tolerate another Cuba next to our shores", protested the Indonesian fascist dictator Suharto, and the US and Australia strongly agreed. The torture, and extermination of East Timorese people by the Indonesian military, was considered irrelevant and not even worth reporting in the mass media.

The people of Iran could of course not be trusted with 'democracy'. Iran is one of the oldest and greatest cultures on earth, but its people wanted to use the revenues from its oil to improve their lives, not to feed foreign multi-nationals. That has always been considered a crime by Western powers – a crime punishable by death.

The people of Iran decided to rule; they voted, they said that they want to have all their oil industry nationalized. Mohammad Mosaddeq, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran from 1951 to 1953, was ready to implement what his people demanded. But his government was overthrown in a coup d'état, orchestrated by the British MI6 and North American CIA, and what followed was the murderous dictatorship of the deranged Western puppet – Reza Pahlavi. As in Latin America and Indonesia, instead of schools, hospitals and housing projects, people got death squads, torture chambers and fear. Is that what they wanted? Is that what they voted for?

There were literally dozens of countries, all over the world, which had to be 'saved', by the West, from their own 'irresponsible citizens and voters'. Brazil recently 'celebrated' the 50th anniversary of the US-backed military coup d'état, which began a horrendous 20 year long military dictatorship. The US supported two coups in Iraq, in 1963 and 1968 that brought Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party to power. The list is endless. These are only some random examples.

On closer examination, the West has overthrown, or made attempts to overthrow, almost any democratically elected governments, on all continents attempting to serve their own people, by providing them with decent standards of living and social services. That is quite an achievement, and some stamina!

Could it be then that the West only respects 'Democracy' when 'people are forced to rule' against their own interests? And when they are 'defending' what they are ordered to defend by local elites that are subservient to North American and European interests? and also when they are defending the interests of foreign multi-national companies and Western governments that are dependent on those companies?

***

Can anything be done? If a country is too weak to defend itself by military means, against some mighty Western aggressor, could it approach any international democratic institutions, hoping for protection?

Unthinkable!

A good example is Nicaragua, which had been literally terrorized by the United States, for no other reason than for being socialist. Its government went to court.

The case was called: The Republic of Nicaragua v. The United States of America.

It was a 1986 case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in which the ICJ ruled in favor of Nicaragua and against the United States and awarded reparations to Nicaragua.

The judgment was long, consisting of 291 points. Among them that the United States had been involved in the "unlawful use of force." The alleged violations included attacks on Nicaraguan facilities and naval vessels, the mining of Nicaraguan ports, the invasion of Nicaraguan air space, and the training, arming, equipping, financing and supplying of forces (the "Contras") and seeking to overthrow Nicaragua's Sandinista government.

Judgment was passed, and so were UN votes and resolutions. The UN resolution from 1986 called for the full and immediate compliance with the Judgment. Only Thailand, France and the UK abstained. The US showed total spite towards the court, and it vetoed all UN resolutions.

It continued its terror campaign against Nicaragua. In the end, the ruined and exhausted country voted in 1990. It was soon clear that it was not voting for or against Sandinista government, but whether to endure more violence from the North, or to simply accept depressing defeat. The Sandinista government lost. It lost because the voters had a North American gun pointing at their heads.

This is how 'democracy' works.

I covered the Nicaraguan elections of 1996 and I was told by voters, by a great majority of them, that they were going to vote for the right-wing candidate (Aleman), only because the US was threatening to unleash another wave of terror in case the Sandinista government came back to power, democratically.

The Sandinistas are now back. But only because most of Latin America has changed, and there is unity and determination to fight, if necessary.

***

While the Europeans are clearly benefiting from neo-colonialism and the plunder that goes on all over the world, it would be ridiculous to claim that they themselves are 'enjoying the fruits of democracy'.

In a dazzling novel "Seeing", written by Jose Saramago, a laureate for the Nobel Prize for literature, some 83% of voters in an unidentified country (most likely Saramago's native Portugal), decide to cast blank ballots, expressing clear spite towards the Western representative election system.

This state, which prided itself as a 'democratic one', responded by unleashing an orgy of terror against its own citizens. It soon became obvious that people are allowed to make democratic choices only when the result serves the interests of the regime.

Ursula K Le Guin, reviewing the novel in the pages of The Guardian, on 15 April 2006, admitted:

Turning in a blank ballot is a signal unfamiliar to most Britons and Americans, who aren't yet used to living under a government that has made voting meaningless. In a functioning democracy, one can consider not voting a lazy protest liable to play into the hands of the party in power (as when low Labour turn-out allowed Margaret Thatcher's re-elections, and Democratic apathy secured both elections of George W Bush). It comes hard to me to admit that a vote is not in itself an act of power, and I was at first blind to the point Saramago's non-voting voters are making.

She should not have been. Even in Europe itself, terror had been unleashed, on many occasions, against the people who decided to vote 'incorrectly'.

Perhaps the most brutal instance was in the post WWII period, when the Communist Parties were clearly heading for spectacular victories in France, Italy and West Germany. Such 'irresponsible behavior' had to be, of course, stopped. Both US and UK intelligence forces made a tremendous effort to 'save democracy' in Europe, employing Nazis to break, intimidate, even murder members of progressive movements and parties.

These Nazi cadres were later allowed, even encouraged, to leave Europe for South America, some carrying huge booty from the victims who vanished in concentration camps. This booty included gold teeth.

Later on, in the 1990's, I spoke to some of them, and also to their children, in Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. They were proud of their deeds, unrepentant, and as Nazi as ever.

Many of those European Nazis later actively participated in Operation Condor, so enthusiastically supported by the Paraguayan fascist and pro-Western dictator, Alfredo Strössner. Mr Strössner was a dear friend and asylum-giver to many WWII war criminals, including people like Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor known as the "Angel of Death", who performed genetic experiments on children during the WWII.

So, after destroying that 'irresponsible democratic process' in Europe (the post-war Western Empire), many European Nazis that were now loyally serving their new master, were asked to continue with what they knew how to do best. Therefore they helped to assassinate some 60,000 left-wing South American men, women and their children, who were guilty of building egalitarian and just societies in their home countries. Many of these Nazis took part, directly, in Operacion Condor, under the direct supervision of the United States and Europe.

As Naomi Klein writes in her book, Shock Doctrine:

"Operación Cóndor, also known as Plan Cóndor, Portuguese: Operação Condor) was a campaign of political repression and terror involving intelligence operations and assassination of opponents, officially implemented in 1975 by the right-wing dictatorships of the Southern Cone of South America. The program was intended to eradicate communist or Soviet influence and ideas, and to suppress active or potential opposition movements against the participating governments."

In Chile, German Nazis rolled up their sleeves and went to work directly: by interrogating, liquidating and savagely torturing members of the democratically elected government and its supporters. They also performed countless medical experiments on people, at the so-called Colonia Dirnidad, during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, whose rule was manufactured and sustained by Dr. Kissinger and his clique.

But back to Europe: in Greece, after WWII, both the UK and US got heavily involved in the civil war between the Communists and the extreme right-wing forces.

In 1967, just one month before the elections in which the Greek left-wing was expected to win democratically (the Indonesian scenario of 1965), the US and its 'Greek colonels' staged a coup, which marked the beginning of a 7 year savage dictatorship.

What happened in Yugoslavia, some 30 years later is, of course clear. A successful Communist country could not be allowed to survive, and definitely not in Europe. As bombs fell on Belgrade, many of those inquisitive and critically thinking people that had any illusions left about the Western regime and its 'democratic principles', lost them rapidly.

But by then, the majority of Europe already consisted of indoctrinated masses, some of the worst informed and most monolithic (in their thinking) on earth.

Europe and its voters It is that constantly complaining multitude, which wants more and more money, and delivers the same and extremely predictable electoral results every four, five or six years. It lives and votes mechanically. It has totally lost its ability to imagine a different world, to fight for humanist principles, and even to dream.

It is turning into an extremely scary place, a museum at best, and a cemetery of human vision at the worst.

***

As Noam Chomsky pointed out:

Americans may be encouraged to vote, but not to participate more meaningfully in the political arena. Essentially the election is a method of marginalizing the population. A huge propaganda campaign is mounted to get people to focus on these personalized quadrennial extravaganzas and to think, "That's politics." But it isn't. It's only a small part of politics.
The population has been carefully excluded from political activity, and not by accident. An enormous amount of work has gone into that disenfranchisement. During the 1960s the outburst of popular participation in democracy terrified the forces of convention, which mounted a fierce counter-campaign. Manifestations show up today on the left as well as the right in the effort to drive democracy back into the hole where it belongs.

Arundhati Roy, commented in her "Is there life after democracy?"

The question here, really, is what have we done to democracy? What have we turned it into? What happens once democracy has been used up? When it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasized into something dangerous? What happens now that democracy and the Free Market have fused into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of maximizing profit? Is it possible to reverse this process? Can something that has mutated go back to being what it used to be?

***

After all that brutality, and spite for people all over the world, the West is now teaching the planet about democracy. It is lecturing Asians and Africans, people from Middle East and Sub-Continent, on how to make their countries more 'democratic'. It is actually hard to believe, it should be one of the most hilarious things on earth, but it is happening, and everyone is silent about it.

Those who are listening without bursting into laughter are actually well paid.

There are seminars; even foreign aid projects related to 'good governance', sponsored by the European Union, and the United States. The EU is actually much more active in this field. Like the Italian mafia, it sends covert but unmistakable messages to the world: "You do as we say, or we break your legs But if you obey, come to us and we will teach you how to be a good aide to Cosa Nostra! And we will give you some pasta and wine while you are learning."

Because there is plenty of money, so called 'funding' members of the elite, the academia, media and non-government organizations, from countries that have been plundered by the West – countries like Indonesia, Philippines, DR Congo, Honduras, or Colombia –send armies of people to get voluntarily indoctrinated, (sorry, to be 'enlightened') to learn about democracy from the greatest assassins of genuine 'people's power'; from the West.

Violating democracy is an enormous business. To hush it up is part of that business. To learn how to be idle and not to intervene against the external forces destroying democracy in your own country, while pretending to be 'engaged and active', is actually the best business, much better than building bridges or educating children (from a mercantilist point of view).

Once, at the University of Indonesia where I was invited to speak, a student asked me 'what is the way forward', to make his country more democratic? I replied, looking at several members of the professorial staff:

"Demand that your teachers stop going to Europe on fully funded trips. Demand that they stop being trained in how to brainwash you. Do not go there yourself, to study. Go there to see, to understand and to learn, but not to study Europe had robbed you of everything. They are still looting your country. What do you think you will learn there? Do you really think they will teach you how to save your nation?"

Students began laughing. The professors were fuming. I was never invited back. I am sure that the professors knew exactly what I was talking about. The students did not. They were thinking that I made a very good joke. But I was not trying to be funny.

***

As I write these words, the Thai military junta has taken over the country. The West is silent: the Thai military is an extremely close ally. Democracy at work

And as I write these words, the fascist government in Kiev is chasing, kidnapping and "disappearing" people in the east and south of Ukraine. By some insane twist of logic, the Western corporate media is managing to blame Russia. And only a few people are rolling around on the floor, laughing.

As I write these words, a big part of Africa is in flames, totally destroyed by the US, UK, France and other colonial powers.

Client states like the Philippines are now literally being paid to get antagonistic with China.

Japanese neo-fascist adventurism fully supported by the Unites States can easily trigger WWIII. So can Western greed and fascist practices in Ukraine.

Democracy! People's power!

If the West had sat on its ass, where it belongs, in Europe and in North America, after WWII, the world would have hardly any problems now. People like Lumumba, Allende, Sukarno, Mosaddeq, would have led their nations and continents. They would have communicated with their own people, interacted with them. They would have built their own styles of 'democracy'.

But all that came from the Bandung Conference of 1955, from the ideals of the Non-Aligned movement, was ruined and bathed in blood. The true hopes of the people of the world cut to pieces, urinated on, and then thrown into gutter.

But no more time should be wasted by just analyzing, and by crying over spilt milk. Time to move on!

The world has been tortured by Europe and the United States, for decades and centuries. It has been tortured in the name of democracy but it has all been one great lie. The world has been tortured simply because of greed, and because of racism. Just look back at history. Europe and the United States have only stopped calling people "niggers", but they do not have any more respect for them than before. And they are willing, same as before, to sacrifice millions of human lives.

Let us stop worshiping their box, and those meaningless pieces of paper that they want us to stick in there. There is no power of people in this. Look at the United States itself – where is our democracy? It is a one-party regime fully controlled by market fundamentalists. Look at our press, and propaganda

Rule of the people by the people, true democracy, can be achieved. We the people had been derailed, intellectually, so we have not been thinking how, for so many decades.

Now we, many of us, know what is wrong, but we are still not sure what is right.

Let us think and let us search, let us experiment. And also, let us reject their fascism first. Let them stick their papers wherever they want! Let them pretend that they are not slaves to some vendors and swindlers. Let them do whatever they want – there, where they belong.

Democracy is more than a box. It is more than a multitude of political parties. It is when people can truly choose, decide and build a society that they dream about. Democracy is the lack of fear of having napalm and bombs murdering our dreams. Democracy is when people speak and from those words grow their own nation. Democracy is when millions of hands join together and from that brilliant union, new trains begin to run, new schools begin to teach, and new hospitals begin to heal. All this by the people, for the people! All this created by proud and free humans as gift to all – to their nation.

Yes, let the slave masters stick their pieces of paper into a box, or somewhere else. They can call it democracy. Let us call democracy something else – rule of the people, a great exchange of ideas, of hopes and dreams. Let our taking control over our lives and over our nations be called 'democracy'!

Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His discussion with Noam Chomsky On Western Terrorism is now going to print. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called "Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear". He has just completed the feature documentary, "Rwanda Gambit" about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.

[Sep 18, 2017] A Foreign Enemy is a Tyrants Best Friend

Notable quotes:
"... This activates what Randolph Bourne called their "herd mind," inducing them to rally around their governments in a militaristic stampede so as to create the national unity of purpose deemed necessary to defend the homeland against the foreign menace. When you lay siege to an entire country, don't be surprised when it starts to look and act like a barracks. ..."
"... Imperial governments like to pretend that affairs are quite the reverse, adopting the essentially terrorist rationale that waging war against the civilian populace of a rogue state will pressure them to blame and turn against their governments. In reality, it only tends to bolster public support for the regime. ..."
"... The imperial "bogeygoat" is an essential prop for the power of petty tyrants, just as rogue state bogeymen are essential props for the power of grand tyrants like our own. Thus, it should be no surprise that the staunchest opponents to the Iran nuclear deal include both American and Iranian hardliners. Just as there is a "symbiosis of savagery" between imperial hawks and anti-imperial terrorists (as I explain here), there is a similar symbiotic relationship between imperial and rogue state hardliners. ..."
Jul 28, 2015 | Antiwar.com

Cold wars freeze despotism in place, and thaws in foreign relations melt it away

The recent Iran nuclear deal represents a thaw in the American cold war against that country. It is a welcome sequel to the Obama administration's partial normalization with Cuba announced late last year.

Hardliners denounce these policies as "going soft" on theocracy and communism. Yet, it is such critics' own hardline, hawkish policies that have done the most to ossify and strengthen such regimes.

That is because war, including cold war, is the health of the state. Antagonistic imperial policies - economic warfare, saber-rattling, clandestine interventions, and full-blown attacks - make the citizens of targeted "rogue states" feel under siege.

This activates what Randolph Bourne called their "herd mind," inducing them to rally around their governments in a militaristic stampede so as to create the national unity of purpose deemed necessary to defend the homeland against the foreign menace. When you lay siege to an entire country, don't be surprised when it starts to look and act like a barracks.

Rogue state governments eagerly amplify and exploit this siege effect through propaganda, taking on the mantle of foremost defender of the nation against the "Yankee Imperialist" or "Great Satan." Amid the atmosphere of crisis, public resistance against domestic oppression by the now indispensable "guardian class" goes by the board. "Quit your complaining. Don't you know there's a cold war on? Don't you know we're under siege?"

Moreover, cold wars make it easy for rogue state governments to shift the blame for domestic troubles away from their own misrule, and onto the foreign bogeyman/scapegoat ("bogeygoat?") instead. This is especially easy for being to some extent correct, especially with regard to economic blockades and other crippling sanctions, like those Washington has imposed on Cuba, Iran, etc.

Imperial governments like to pretend that affairs are quite the reverse, adopting the essentially terrorist rationale that waging war against the civilian populace of a rogue state will pressure them to blame and turn against their governments. In reality, it only tends to bolster public support for the regime.

The imperial "bogeygoat" is an essential prop for the power of petty tyrants, just as rogue state bogeymen are essential props for the power of grand tyrants like our own. Thus, it should be no surprise that the staunchest opponents to the Iran nuclear deal include both American and Iranian hardliners. Just as there is a "symbiosis of savagery" between imperial hawks and anti-imperial terrorists (as I explain here), there is a similar symbiotic relationship between imperial and rogue state hardliners.

The last thing hardliners want is the loss of their cherished bogeygoat. Once an emergency foreign threat recedes, and the fog of war hysteria lifts, people are then more capable of clearly seeing their "guardians" as the domestic threat that they are, and more likely to feel that they can afford to address that threat without exposing themselves to foreign danger. This tends to impel governments to become less oppressive, and may even lead to their loss of power.

Thus after Nixon normalized with communist China and belatedly ended the war on communist Vietnam, both of those countries greatly liberalized and became more prosperous. Even Soviet reforms and the ultimate dissolution of the Soviet Union only arose following American detente.

Simultaneously, as the American cold wars against communist Cuba and communist North Korea continued without stint for decades, providing the Castros and Kims the ultimate bogeygoat to feature in their propaganda, the impoverishing authoritarian grip of those regimes on their besieged people only strengthened.

Similarly, ever since the 1979 Islamic Revolution overthrew the puppet dictator that the CIA had installed over Iran in a 1953 coup, the Ayatollahs have been able to exploit ongoing hostility from the American "Great Satan" to retain and consolidate their repressive theocratic power.

All this is an object lesson for US relations with Putin's Russia, Chavista Venezuela, and beyond. Disastrously, it is being unheeded.

Even while thawing relations with Iran, the Obama administration has triggered a new cold war with Russia over Ukraine. This has only made Russian President Vladimir Putin more domestically popular than ever.

And even while normalizing relations with Cuba, Obama recently declared Venezuela a national security threat, imposing new sanctions. As journalist Alexandra Ulmer argued, these sanctions "may be godsend for struggling Venezuelan leader," President Nicolas Maduro. As Ulmer wrote in Reuters:

"Suddenly, the unpopular leader has an excuse to crank up the revolutionary rhetoric and try to fire up supporters, copying a tactic used skillfully for more than a decade by his mentor and predecessor, the late socialist firebrand Hugo Chavez.

A new fight with the enemy to the north may also help unite disparate ruling Socialist Party factions and distract Venezuelans from relentless and depressing talk about their day-to-day economic problems."

[Sep 17, 2017] The best technique of obtaining soundbytes and posturing for neoliberal elite is based on so-called wedge issues by Piotr Berman

Notable quotes:
"... Donald Trump used alt-right messaging to get into the White House, but he and his third-rate staff haven't the slightest clue of what gave rise to the deplorables in the first place and how to address the root despair of the western working class ..."
"... And all authorities suggest to exploit the despair with soundbites and posturing. Granted, this is a platitude, but how to obtain compelling soundbites and posturing? I think that the best technique is based on so-called wedge issues. ..."
"... A good wedge issue should raise passions on "both sides" but not so much in the "center", mostly clueless undecided voters. ..."
"... Calibrate your position so it is a good scrap of meat for your "base" while it drives the adversaries to conniptions, the conniptions provide talking points and together, drive the clueless in your direction. Wash, repeat. ..."
www.moonofalabama.org
Piotr Berman | May 18, 2017 10:04:50 PM | 77
"Donald Trump used alt-right messaging to get into the White House, but he and his third-rate staff haven't the slightest clue of what gave rise to the deplorables in the first place and how to address the root despair of the western working class." VietnamVet

I do not know how highly rated the staff was, but it was sufficiently high. If the opponent has fourth-rate staff, it would be wasteful to use anything better than third-rate. Figuring what gave rise to the deplorable is a wasted effort, sociologist differ, and in politics the "root causes" matter only a little.

And all authorities suggest to exploit the despair with soundbites and posturing. Granted, this is a platitude, but how to obtain compelling soundbites and posturing? I think that the best technique is based on so-called wedge issues.

A good wedge issue should raise passions on "both sides" but not so much in the "center", mostly clueless undecided voters.

Calibrate your position so it is a good scrap of meat for your "base" while it drives the adversaries to conniptions, the conniptions provide talking points and together, drive the clueless in your direction. Wash, repeat.

[Sep 17, 2017] Joy Reids Politics of Tribalism and Punching Sideways

Sep 13, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

(Never mind that if Thomas Frank is correct, and the Democrats are the party of the professional classes, the Democrats cannot possibly be the party of "marginalized" people.) Being the sort of person I am, my first thought was to ask myself what the heck Reid could mean by "tribe," and how a "tribe" can act as a political entity.[1] Naturally, I looked to the Internet and did a cursory search; and it turns out that, at least at the scholarly level, the very notion of "tribe" is both contested and a product of colonialism. David Wiley, Department of Sociology and African Studies, Michigan State University, 2013

Tribe, a concept that has endeared itself to Western scholars, journalists, and the public for a century, is primarily a means to reduce for readers the complexity of the non-Western societies of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the American plains. It is no accident that the contemporary uses of the term tribe were developed during the 19th-century rise of evolutionary and racist theories to designate alien non-white peoples as inferior or less civilized and as having not yet evolved from a simpler, primal state. The uses and definitions of 'tribe' in the sociological and anthropological literature are varied and conflicting. Some authors appear to define tribe as common language, others as common culture, some as ancestral lineages, and others as common government or rulers. As anthropologist Michael Olen notes, "The term tribe has never satisfied anthropologists, because of its many uses and connotations. Societies that are classified as tribal seem to be very diverse in their organization, having little in common." Morton H. Fried and this author contend that "the term is so ambiguous and confusing that it should be abandoned by social scientists."

Even more striking is the invention of ethnic (labeled tribal) identities and their varied and plastic salience across the African continent. In some cases, "tribal identifies" have been invented in order to unite colonial and post-colonial clerical workers or other occupational and social groups to serve the interests of the members even though they were not bound together by language or lineage.

In the United States, where similar derogatory language of tribe has been used to characterize and stereotype Native American or First Nations peoples, the identity has been reified in federal legislation that requires "tribes," formerly under the Bureau of Indian Affairs, to accept that formal tribal identification in order to access the hunting, fishing, farming, and casino rights of reservations. Almost humorously, the Menominee peoples of Wisconsin decided to decline that nomenclature because many members lived in Milwaukee and other non-reservation sites; however, they then learned they must reverse that vote and re-declare themselves as "a tribe" in order to regain their reservation rights.

So, from the 30,000 foot level, it seems unlikely that what scholars mean (or do not mean) by "tribe" is the same as what Reid means, simply because there is no coherent meaning to be had.[2] My second thought was to try to fit "tribe" into the framework of identity politics, where tribes would be identities, or possibly bundles of allied[3] identities. Here's a handy chart showing the various ways that identity can be conceptualized, from Jessica A. Clarke*, "Identity and Form," California Law Review , 2015:

(Clarke gives definitions of ascriptive, elective, and formal identity -- for Adolph Reed on ascriptive identity, see here -- but I think the definitions are clear enough for our purposes from the examples in the table.) However, if we look back to Reid's quote, we see that she conflates ascriptive identity ("black or brown") with elective identity ("the sort of Pabst Blue Ribbon voter, the kind of Coors Lite-drinking voter")[4], and also conflates both of those with formal identity (if one's ethnicity be defined by one's own citizenship papers, or those of one's parents, or a changed surname; one thinks of Asian cultures putting the family name last in American culture, for example). So there is no coherence to be found here, either.

Let's return then to Reid's words, and look to her operational definition:

which party goes out and find more people who are like them

It's not clear to me whether Reid conceptualize parties as tribes, or as meta-tribes of tribes bundled together; I'm guessing the latter. Here is an example of Reid's conceptualizations ("like" each other) in action. From Teen Vogue , "Amandla Stenberg and Janelle Monáe Open Up About Racism and Where They Were During the Election" (2017). Somewhat too much of this, but the build-up is important:

AMANDLA STENBERG: Janelle frigging Monáe!?

JANELLE MONÁE: Hi, sweetie. You know I love, love, love you. First: pronouns! I want to make sure that I'm being respectful of how I'm referring to you. I know that the way we view ourselves and how we want to be addressed can change depending on where we are in life.

AS: I love that you asked me! Thank you. I have felt at times that she/her pronouns weren't entirely fitting, but I've never felt uncomfortable with them. It's more important for me to open up that conversation around pronouns and how gender itself is a construct that doesn't make much sense in our society.

JM: Got it. I remember seeing you for the first time in Colombiana, and then, like many people, I was drawn to your character in The Hunger Games as Rue. I'm a huge sci-fi nerd, so just seeing this little black girl in a dystopian world being a hero for an oppressed community, I was intrigued! The way you embodied this character felt like you were mature enough to understand how important she was to the movie but also how important the Rues all over the world are to our society.

AS: That's one of the best compliments that I've received! I remember we saw each other at the Tyler, the Creator show; we took a picture with Solange. You were wearing a jacket that said "black girl magic" on it, and I flipped out.

JM: Me, too! I was like, I am right between you and Solange, two people who are the epitome of black girl magic! I saw you later on, and you had just shot Everything, Everything, which, by the way, you are incredible in. The original story was written by a black woman [NicolaYoon], and your director [Stella Meghie] is also a black woman. What was going through your mind as you were considering the role?

AS: I kind of wrote it off initially because I figured it was one of those instances where I was receiving a script for a YA romance project that was intended for a white actress. I thought maybe they'd float the idea of casting it in a more diverse manner but that ultimately it wouldn't end up going that direction, because that's happened to me a lot. Then I realized that this project was based on a book written by a black woman and that the casting was intentionally diverse. I'd never seen a story like this made for an interracial couple. I'm not someone who generally has a pop or mainstream sensibility, but I see the incredible power of infiltrating these larger movies that show a lot of people who we are and how diverse and beautiful our community is. I thought it would be really powerful to see a black girl [lead] character like Maddy who is joyous and creative and dimensional specifically marketed to teenagers and young adults. We don't always get to see black women carrying that energy. That's one of the reasons why I respect and love you so much!because I feel like you perpetuate such whimsy and joy!

JM: Aw! Well, whenever I see you doing your thing, I feel like we're from the same tribe because I take a similar approach when I'm choosing projects. With the roles of Teresa in Moonlight and Ms. Mary Jackson in Hidden Figures , they're two women of color from totally different backgrounds and eras!from the hood to NASA, these black women were the backbones of their communities. I thought it was so important to let the rest of the world know that we're not monolithic. And with Hidden Figures in particular, I was so proud to be a part of exposing that if it were not for these women, we would not have gone to space. That's American history! Black history is part of American history, and it should be treated as such.

(Note in passing that I loathe the phrase "open up," which I define as "carefully engineered for a celebrity by public relations professionals." ) Of course, both actors are -- and rightly -- proud of their work, but note the carefully calibrated ways they establish that they are (as Joy Reid says) "like" each other. Oh, and do note the caption: "Miu Miu dress, price upon request." Class snuck in there, didn't it? In fact, we might go so far as to formalize Reid's definition of "tribe" as follows:

Tribes are people who are "like" each other when class is not taken into account

With that, let's take an alternative approach to conceptualizing tribes and tribalism, one that incorporates class. From former Arab Spring activist Iyad El-Baghdadi , I present the following charts, taken from the Twittter . (I'll present each chart, then comment briefly on it.) There are five:

Figure 1: Tribal Divisions

Comment: I'm taking El-Baghdadi's "ethnic affiliation," as a proxy for Reid's "tribe"; the verticality is clearly the same.)

Figure 2: Class Divisions

Comment: El-Baghdadi's representation of class divisions is fine as a visual shorthand, but I don't think it's an accurate representation. I picture the class structure of the United States not as a "normal distribution" with a fat "middle class" (I don't even accept "middle class" as a category) but as a power curve with a very few people at the head of the curve ( the "1%," more like the 0.01% ), followed by a steep shoulder of the 10% (white collar professionals, from Thomas Frank's Listen, Liberal ), and trailed by a long tail of wage workers (and unwaged workers, as I suppose we might call the disemployed, unpaid caregivers, System D people like loosie-selling Eric Garner, and so on). If you want to find who hasn't had a raise in forty years, look to the long tail, which I would call l "working class," rather than "lower class."

Figure 3: Privilege Divisions

Comment: Taking once again El-Baghdadi's "ethnic affiliation," as a proxy for Reid's "tribe," and conceptualizing WASPs as a tribe, it's clear to me, if I look at my own history, that I'm more likely ti have good luck than some other tribes. I'm more likely to have intergenerational wealth in the form of a house, or even financial assets, more likely to be highly educated, more likely to have the markers and locutions that enable me to interact successfully with bureaucratic functionaries, etc. I didn't earn any of those advantages; I would have had to have chosen to be born to different parents to avoid them. I think we can agree that if we were looking for an operational definition of justice, this wouldn't be it.

Figure 4: Punching Sideways

Comment: Classically, we have owners following Gould's maxim by bringing in (mostly black) scabs to break the Homestead Strike in 1892, with a resulting "tribal" conflict -- although those scabs might protest -- and rightly -- that (a) they were only trying to provide for their families and (b) that the Jim Crow system had denied them the "good jobs" that in justice would have given them (leaving aside the question of who implemented Jim Crow, and for what material benefits). In modern times we have "tribes" (white, black, Asian, at the least) battling on the field of "affirmative action" having weaponized their ascriptive identities. Here again, representatives of some "tribes" would protest -- and rightly -- that systems like "legacy admissions" give some "tribes" unjust advantage over others, but the hidden assumption is one of resource constraint; given a pie of fixed size, if Tribe A is to have more, Tribe B must have less. Note that programs like "tuition-free college" tend to eliminate the resource constraint, but are "politically feasible" only if Tribes A and B solve their collective action problem, which is unlikely to be done based on tribalism.

Figure 5: Punching Up

Comment: This diagram implies that the only "legitimate" form of seeking justice is vertical, "punching up." This eliminates clear cases where justice is needed within and not between classes, like auto collisions, for example, or the household division of labor. More centrally, the nice thing about thinking vertically is that it eliminates obvious absurdities like "Justice for black people means making the CEO of a major bank black (ignoring the injustices perpetrated using class-based tools disproportionately against black people in, say, the foreclosure crisis, where a generation's-worth of black household wealth was wiped out under America's first black President). Or obvious absurdities where justice is conceived of as a woman, instead of a man, using the power of office to kill thousands of black and brown people, many of them women, to further America's imperial mission.

* * *

Concluding a discussion on politics and power that has barely begun -- and is of great importance if you believe, as I do, that we're on the midst of and ongoing and highly volatile legitimacy crisis that involves the break-up and/or realignment of both major parties -- it seems to me that El-Baghdadi visual representation, which fits tribalism into a class-driven framework, is both analytically coherent (as Reid's usage of "tribe" is not) and points to a way forward from our current political arrangements (as Reid's strategy of bundling "punching sideways" tribes into parties while ignoring class does not). More to come .

NOTES

[Sep 16, 2017] Virginia Scraps Electronic Voting Machines Hackers Destroyed At DefCon

Highly recommended!
Return to paper ballots is the only rational choice now...
Notable quotes:
"... the lack of a paper audit trail posed a significant risk of lost votes. ..."
Sep 16, 2017 | it.slashdot.org

(theregister.co.uk)

Posted by BeauHD on Tuesday September 12, 2017 @03:00AM from the nick-of-time dept. Following the DefCon demonstration in July that showed how quickly Direct Recording Electronic voting equipment could be hacked, Virginia's State Board of Elections has decided it wants to replace their electronic voting machines in time for the gubernatorial election due on November 7th, 2017.

According to The Register, "The decision was announced in the minutes of the Board's September 8th meeting: 'The Department of Elections officially recommends that the State Board of Elections decertify all Direct Recording Electronic (DRE or touchscreen) voting equipment."

From the report: With the DefCon bods showing some machines shared a single hard-coded password, Virginia directed the Virginia Information Technology Agency (VITA) to audit the machines in use in the state (the Accuvote TSX, the Patriot, and the AVC Advantage).

None passed the test. VITA told the board "each device analyzed exhibited material risks to the integrity or availability of the election process," and the lack of a paper audit trail posed a significant risk of lost votes.

Local outlet The News Leader notes that many precincts had either replaced their machines already, or are in the process of doing so. The election board's decision will force a change-over on the 140 precincts that haven't replaced their machines, covering 190,000 of Virginia's ~8.4m population.

[Sep 13, 2017] Neo-liberalism is intristically connected with technological advances such as Internet, smartphones by George Monbiot

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Now however that very same technological advancement is hollowing out blue collar jobs and even white collar jobs. ..."
"... I suspect the rich will depend more and more on robots plus a few servants to serve their needs, hence the masses of workers and consumers will no longer be needed. ..."
"... The coup that transformed the relationship between British politics and journalism began at a quiet Sunday lunch at Chequers, the official country retreat of the prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. She was trailing in the polls, caught in a recession she had inherited, eager for an assured cheerleader at a difficult time. Her guest had an agenda too. He was Rupert Murdoch, eager to secure her help in acquiring control of nearly 40% of the British press. ..."
"... the unregulated nature of neo liberalism and unrestrained greed bordering on psychopathy that rules the corporate world inexorably led to a system that is rigged and corrupt to the core. ..."
"... Politicians and the media are owned by the same corporations that set the narrative and bend the rules. How else would it be possible, in the era of ultimate access to information, in two of the most advanced countries in the world, to have election results that favor the exact parties who had no arguments and no facts on their side? ..."
"... There is no center left in the US and the UK, as far as I can tell. There hasn't been for decades. You cannot give all the tools of power (politicians that make the legislation, and media to promote the narrative) to a very tiny minority and be anything other than center right at least. Take Obama, for example, which is painted as center left, or liberal, by the US mainstream media, which is just laughable. Even if he promoted his "socialist" Obamacare (which is way less progressive than what Nixon had in mind), he's been actively promoting the same rigged system where lobbyists and corporations for big pharma can force the politicians, through the legal bribery that is the current electoral process, to ignore the will of the majority of people and abolish the ACA, as if it were never in place. Same with gun control - 90% of Americans are in favour of some sort of background checks? Eff them, the NRA lobbyists, their money and propaganda tools are easily making sure that whatever the will of the majority is, it will never get into any piece of legislation. ..."
"... Hayek was woefully ignorant to human nature. He didn't account for inherited wealth or class systems. Until these things are dismantled, it's impossible to have a genuinely free market with a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is the ideology of children who didn't get their needs met or suffered abuse or neglect. The more adverse child experiences one suffers, the greater the danger they pose to everyone else, and they seem to gravitate to warped belief systems where compassion or relying on others is deemed deeply shameful ..."
"... For a long time, people on the (real?) left who were denouncing the effects of ultra liberalism were seen as dangerous idealists, plain commies or immature kids. The tide seems to be slowly shifting but it will probably get worse before it gets better. ..."
"... An interesting point of view but probably too late. Trump will never dismantle neoliberalism. His rhetoric is hot air and he has no answers to the complex problems of the 21st century. ..."
"... No Trump does not have the answers that are needed to address neoliberalism. A sharp short economic collapse will not change the pathway we are all on. If we look back to the Great Depression, Hoover followed by Roosevelt shows us what is likely to transpire, there would have to be something else in the mix to bring about real change. ..."
"... In anycase Hayek's philosophies are really just an extension of what was going on during the Great Depression, the pathway to neoliberalism had it's seeds going back before this period. ..."
"... neoliberal innovation generally its also about disempowerment and ultimately rent capitalism based neo-feudal enslavement. ..."
"... Those of is who've been warning of the failure of neoliberalism in both economic and civic terms don't need convincing, and it's increasingly obvious that by defensively ignoring dissenting voices the political consensus was sowing the seeds of its own demise. Now, instead of having to work with social democrats to reinvest, to responsibly regulate, to strengthen social bonds, they have to pander to a brew breed of fascists, who they have created. ..."
"... It's not one or the other. Both globalisation and automation have taken jobs away. We exported a large amount of our manufacturing to where labour was cheaper ( far east , china etc). ..."
"... To describe Clinton as liberal, in the American tradition, is realistic, but to describe her as 'left', apart from as an opposite to far-right, makes as much sense as calling John Major or Ted Heath Marxists. ..."
Sep 13, 2017 | theguardian.com

88y1r2s9yz74, 14 Nov 2016 3:32

Neo-liberalism has had the advantage that technological advancements have lifted the standard of living for all up to this point. They can claim that as their win since capitalism and competition have driven at least the retail products, distribution and take up.

Now however that very same technological advancement is hollowing out blue collar jobs and even white collar jobs.

What to do with all those people who aren't PhD material and don't have employment and a resulting claim of the wealth? What will be the result if there is no social democratic solution to the dilemma?

We found out last Tuesday.

apainter -> 88y1r2s9yz74 , 14 Nov 2016 5:47
I suspect the rich will depend more and more on robots plus a few servants to serve their needs, hence the masses of workers and consumers will no longer be needed. Wars and famines will be useful in reducing the population but the ruling class may have to resort to death camps to eliminate the surplus. Violent revolution could be a response.
OurPlanet -> 88y1r2s9yz74 , 14 Nov 2016 13:16
"We found out last Tuesday." A result more like chopping off one's collective nose to spite your face? The difference is between looking into a sewer and out of rage jumping into it.
name1 , 14 Nov 2016 3:32
Great article George

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/apr/28/how-margaret-thatcher-and-rupert-murdoch-made-secret-deal

The coup that transformed the relationship between British politics and journalism began at a quiet Sunday lunch at Chequers, the official country retreat of the prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. She was trailing in the polls, caught in a recession she had inherited, eager for an assured cheerleader at a difficult time. Her guest had an agenda too. He was Rupert Murdoch, eager to secure her help in acquiring control of nearly 40% of the British press.

Both parties got what they wanted.

thenewcat , 14 Nov 2016 3:32
The usual tiresome drivel where anyone you disagree with is a neoliberal. Just with monbiot it's dressed up better because he's a good writer. Just a couple of the obvious flaws:

Hayek is summarised briefly and painted as bad, so clearly everything he believed in must be bad. There's no attempt to justify why say, free trade is bad. It's just taken as a given

Despite this, the us election was the most protectionist since the war. Clinton is owing to populism when she knows trade is good, but trump was just a straightforward appeal to populist anger. What this has to do with neoliberalism is anyone's guess

The climate change bit is just hilarious. Having painted the entire Clinton and Blair legacy as neo liberal, he then claims it is neo liberals who will assault all that is decent starting with climate change. The fact that they have constantly accepted climate change and supported all the efforts to curb it (including Paris) is just ignored

In summary, this is the same kind of boring assault on anyone who disagrees with the article self appointed progressive left that led to 'red tories' and other lazy labels. Trump and brexit are populist in nature, propelled by ignorance. It doesn't make the centre left neo liberal just because they accept the basic premise of a free market

diablo0210 -> thenewcat , 14 Nov 2016 4:44
"Hayek is summarised briefly and painted as bad, so clearly everything he believed in must be bad. "

Must've missed that in the article. Anyway, I agree with Monbiot in what I think is the core of the article: the unregulated nature of neo liberalism and unrestrained greed bordering on psychopathy that rules the corporate world inexorably led to a system that is rigged and corrupt to the core.

Politicians and the media are owned by the same corporations that set the narrative and bend the rules. How else would it be possible, in the era of ultimate access to information, in two of the most advanced countries in the world, to have election results that favor the exact parties who had no arguments and no facts on their side?

How is it possible that a lot, if not a majority of Americans, think that universal healthcare and education are bad things? How on Earth can people living in countries where the system is so skewed that the people responsible for the 2008 depression never spent a day in jail, think that the root of all their ills are a Mexican and a Polish chaps? How can one complain about poor people or immigrants taking advantage of the public funding, their "hard earned money", and being proud to support someone who admits publicly of not paying taxes for years?

How can so many people be capable of this type of mental gymnastics if the winners of this greed contest wouldn't have twisted the system and imposed the narrative for many years?

"It doesn't make the centre left neo liberal just because they accept the basic premise of a free market"

There is no center left in the US and the UK, as far as I can tell. There hasn't been for decades. You cannot give all the tools of power (politicians that make the legislation, and media to promote the narrative) to a very tiny minority and be anything other than center right at least. Take Obama, for example, which is painted as center left, or liberal, by the US mainstream media, which is just laughable. Even if he promoted his "socialist" Obamacare (which is way less progressive than what Nixon had in mind), he's been actively promoting the same rigged system where lobbyists and corporations for big pharma can force the politicians, through the legal bribery that is the current electoral process, to ignore the will of the majority of people and abolish the ACA, as if it were never in place. Same with gun control - 90% of Americans are in favour of some sort of background checks? Eff them, the NRA lobbyists, their money and propaganda tools are easily making sure that whatever the will of the majority is, it will never get into any piece of legislation.

In a summary of my own: yes, if you put in place the tools that allow a bunch of plutocrats to corrupt a system so it always works in their favour, and most of the times against the popular will, you ARE a red tory or a DINO.

TamLin , 14 Nov 2016 3:33
George, Margaret Thatcher was one of your lot, wasn't she? She was one of the world's first national leaders to stress the need for action on climate change and fight the war on coal. Here are some extracts from her speech to the UN delivered in November 1989. It reads a lot like some of your articles. You didn't ghost write it, did you? If not, clearly, you and Maggie drew your inspiration from some of the same sources.

We are seeing a vast increase in the amount of carbon dioxide reaching the atmosphere. The annual increase is three billion tonnes: and half the carbon emitted since the Industrial Revolution still remains in the atmosphere.

At the same time as this is happening, we are seeing the destruction on a vast scale of tropical forests which are uniquely able to remove carbon dioxide from the air.

Every year an area of forest equal to the whole surface of the United Kingdom is destroyed. At present rates of clearance we shall, by the year 2000, have removed 65 per cent of forests in the humid tropical zones.[fo 3]

The consequences of this become clearer when one remembers that tropical forests fix more than ten times as much carbon as do forests in the temperate zones.

We now know, too, that great damage is being done to the Ozone Layer by the production of halons and chlorofluorocarbons. But at least we have recognised that reducing and eventually stopping the emission of CFCs is one positive thing we can do about the menacing accumulation of greenhouse gases.

It is of course true that none of us would be here but for the greenhouse effect. It gives us the moist atmosphere which sustains life on earth. We need the greenhouse effect!but only in the right proportions.

More than anything, our environment is threatened by the sheer numbers of people and the plants and animals which go with them. When I was born the world's population was some 2 billion people. My [ Michael Thatcher] grandson will grow up in a world of more than 6 billion people.

Put in its bluntest form: the main threat to our environment is more and more people, and their activities: The land they cultivate ever more intensively; The forests they cut down and burn; The mountain sides they lay bare; The fossil fuels they burn; The rivers and the seas they pollute.....

Let me quote from a letter I received only two weeks ago, from a British scientist on board a ship in the Antarctic Ocean: he wrote, "In the Polar Regions today, we are seeing what may be early signs of man-induced climatic change. Data coming in from Halley Bay and from instruments aboard the ship on which I am sailing show that we are entering a Spring Ozone depletion which is as deep as, if not deeper, than the depletion in the worst year to date. It completely reverses the recovery observed in 1988. The lowest recording aboard this ship is only 150 Dobson units for Ozone total content during September, compared with 300 for the same season in a normal year." That of course is a very severe depletion.

He also reports on a significant thinning of the sea ice, and he writes that, in the Antarctic, "Our data confirm that the first-year ice, which forms the bulk of sea ice cover, is remarkably thin and so is probably unable to sustain significant atmospheric warming without melting. Sea ice, separates the ocean from the atmosphere over an area of more than 30 million square kilometres. It reflects most of the solar radiation falling on it, helping to cool the earth's surface. If this area were reduced, the warming of earth would be accelerated due to the extra absorption of radiation by the ocean."

"The lesson of these Polar processes," he goes on, "is that an environmental or climatic change produced by man may take on a self-sustaining or 'runaway' quality ... and may be irreversible." That is from the scientists who are doing work on the ship that is presently considering these matters.

These are sobering indications of what may happen and they led my correspondent to put forward the interesting idea of a World Polar Watch, amongst other initiatives, which will observe the world's climate system and allow us to understand how it works.

http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/107817

optimist99 -> TamLin , 14 Nov 2016 4:03
So what? Even the nazis were right about tobacco. Thatcher came from a scientific background and knew anti-science clap-trap when she saw it.
baconmfr -> TamLin , 14 Nov 2016 6:12
Brilliant comment Tamlin thanks for posting. I didn't realise the 'blonde beast' had such solid environmental insights. You only have to peep over the channel to France to see Hayek and Thatcher were on the mark, whilst Mitterrand and other statist socialists were so horribly wrong. If only there were more politicians today that were as committed, hard working and wise as Thatcher.
soundofthesuburbs , 14 Nov 2016 3:33
Current ideas put human self-interest at dead centre but neglected to take into account how all systems are rigged to benefit those that put them in place.

Loading the dice:

1) Capitalism. The Aristocracy were there during the transition from Feudalism to Capitalism and barely noticed the difference as their life of luxury and leisure continued as before. Capitalism contains a welfare state for the idle rich.

2) The monetary system. Banks create money out of nothing for loans and collect interest on this money they magic out of thin air. Governments borrow money off private banks and taxation has to be used to pay back the interest. The monetary system is a levy on all taxpayers.

3) The legal system. Expensive barristers provide the mechanism for the rich to increase their chance of winning the case.

4) The education system. A two tier, private and state, education system ensures the wealthy can give their children a better start in life.

The system is fully loaded. If we tell them it's a meritocracy and it is the best that get to the top hopefully they will believe it. What would a meritocracy really look like?

1) In a meritocracy everyone succeeds on their own merit. This is obvious, but to succeed on your own merit, we need to do away the traditional mechanisms that socially stratify society due to wealth flowing down the generations. Anything that comes from your parents has nothing to do with your own effort.

2) There is no un-earned wealth or power, e.g inheritance, trust funds, hereditary titles In a meritocracy we need equal opportunity for all. We can't have the current two tier education system with its fast track of private schools for people with wealthy parents.

3) There is a uniform schools system for everyone with no private schools. As the children of the wealthy wouldn't be able to succeed on a level playing field we can't have one.

Even when the system was fully loaded already the wealthy work tirelessly and relentlessly to bias the system even more, they couldn't believe their luck when the ideas of neoliberalism appeared.

The system is now so biased the IMF is worried about global aggregate demand as the global consumer has been impoverished. The debt that papered over the cracks is maxing out and the system is collapsing.

Any system will be biased by those that put it in place.

Left to their own devices they will carry on biasing the system until it eventually fails.

"The Marxian capitalist has infinite shrewdness and cunning on everything except matters pertaining to his own ultimate survival. On these, he is not subject to education. He continues wilfully and reliably down the path to his own destruction"

lingyai -> soundofthesuburbs , 14 Nov 2016 4:32
good post..
JammyJar -> soundofthesuburbs , 14 Nov 2016 5:48
Seconded as a good post But I don't like the, "in a meritocracy we need equal opportunity for all" as it too strongly suggests direct assistance and so implies idleness or entitlement. I would prefer that: in a meritocracy no one is actively suppressed, that is everyone is given the opportunity to try to succeed without discrimination, prejudice, funny handshakes, unmerited (not means tested) backhanders/benefits.
Zakelius -> soundofthesuburbs , 14 Nov 2016 9:06

What would a meritocracy really look like?

There would be no identity politics or feminism. Where do we sign up?

JohnFurlong89 , 14 Nov 2016 3:35
Hayek was woefully ignorant to human nature. He didn't account for inherited wealth or class systems. Until these things are dismantled, it's impossible to have a genuinely free market with a natural hierarchy of winners and losers.
Jodelschule , 14 Nov 2016 3:35
"The key task now is to tell a new story of what it is to be a human in the 21st century."

People's despair has been hijacked by demagogues and they elected the gravedigger to get them out of a pit. As it happened so often in history. Both here and in the US, and the picture of the unelected, private, political non-entity Farage to stage a grin-fest with Trump is unbearable.

We need to learn that we are part of something bigger which is worth preserving and we have to come together to do this. We have to establish a circular economy where ideologies such as captalism have no place. This goes past politics and left-right. Otherwise we have to learn this the hard way. Our planet will force us. When the last drop of oil is pumped out of the ground, when all the water has been polluted, when the number of wild species is reduced to rats, cockroaches, ants and humans, when the heat is unbearable and the oceans are full of acid: Then we will learn how to work together to preserve our species.

If we haven't blown each other up in the meantime in a fight for resources .
I worry for our children.

DunedainRanger -> qvky18koutks , 14 Nov 2016 4:02
Indeed. He seems to be saying Hayek is the anti-Christ. Where did I put my copy of the Apocalypse.....
Shrimpandgrits -> DunedainRanger , 15 Nov 2016 7:37
My sister is a generous donor to the Catholic Church. She prays for me constantly, not least because of my libertarian leanings -- and because I am as gay as a goose, queer as an ... um, er ... Canadian goose. Now my sister is very defensive about the Jesuit pope, who shuns Trump but embraces Castro and Maduro. Because of culture, the words of the Ave Maria and the Credo come to me in Latin. Hayek makes sense, but mostly because of his interplay with Keynes.
DunedainRanger -> Shrimpandgrits , 15 Nov 2016 8:54
Hayek obviously made sense to Margaret Thatcher too, daughter of a shop keeper and raised a Methodist. She was once interviewed for a job as a chemist with the company I used to work for but was rejected, rumour had it for not being assertive enough. A talented girl with a good upbringing who became a prisoner and ultimately victim of the establishment.
HaveYouSeenThisMan , 14 Nov 2016 3:37
Basically its: free market bad, free movement of people good. Good luck with this at the upcoming French and German elections.
optimist99 -> HaveYouSeenThisMan , 14 Nov 2016 4:08
Simple dichotomies never make sense.. The oversimplification of complex issues is typical of the self-interested media manipulation resulting from a neoliberal and uncontrolled gutter press. Hence "Brexonomics" - a creed fueled by irrationality.
johnhk , 14 Nov 2016 3:37
Really sorry but disagree that humans are remarkably unselfish. There are many decent , caring, striving to help individuals. But they are vastly out numbered by those who are otherwise. Every time somebody buys a motor vehicle they are being selfish. Almost nowhere do they need it. They want for convenience, laziness, self- grandisemnet, something to spend their money on. But they do not need and yet its existence and use despoils and degrades.

Every time they buy cheap fashion with clothers made essentially to be thrown away they are selfish. Every time they copulate, without using contraception and without wanting the resulting baby they are selfsih. Even if they want the baby, after the first two, why? They are being selfish.

Every time they invade somewhere, for oil or to impose an ideology whether capitalism or religion, they are selfish.

That is not to say that Hayek, and acolytes Reagan, Thatcher and the endlessly greedy "people" who propagate variations of their ideas should not have been burned at the stake. The problem is those who are greedy and selfish are almost always more ruthless than those who are not.

ID1071189 -> johnhk , 14 Nov 2016 3:54
Try just accepting human nature as it is.
jimmartn -> johnhk , 14 Nov 2016 4:00
you don't live in the country where there is no public transport,
ID6691418 -> johnhk , 14 Nov 2016 4:40
I see your point and agree with it. Why should one person drastically reduce their enjoyment of life to try to reduce global warming when their actions will have, essentially, no impact on total CO2 emissions. But here's what can be done. Collective action where everyone agrees to limit fossil fuel emissions. That's what national governments are for and that is what the UN was created for - to find solutions for world wide problems.
EdwardBernays , 14 Nov 2016 3:38
Neoliberalism is the ideology of children who didn't get their needs met or suffered abuse or neglect. The more adverse child experiences one suffers, the greater the danger they pose to everyone else, and they seem to gravitate to warped belief systems where compassion or relying on others is deemed deeply shameful
dreamwatcher -> EdwardBernays , 14 Nov 2016 4:02
I am no psychologist, but it must be evident to most that, at the micro level, childhood trauma and mental, physical and sexual abuse experienced at a young age within the family unit can lead to the child intending to rebalance and repay the power imbalance in adult life, with invariably adverse consequences for their environment and those around them.

Looking at the world today it is not hard to see the culmination of the sins of the father over the centuries in the form of decent, hard-working people with no power struggles to redress being subjected to endless and downright cruel, even vindictive actions and policies enshrined into law and played out across the world stage by those who have abused power to make it to the top.

And it is the socially disadvantaged and most vulnerable in society who have invariably suffered the most, hence the vast inequality in wealth distribution which has gathered momentum in recent years.

Brexit and Trump are a symptom, a reaction and a backlash to the traumatized child reclaiming and abusing their power on a macro level.

pierotg -> EdwardBernays , 14 Nov 2016 4:41
Really good point. Spot on.
jessie69 , 14 Nov 2016 3:38
Dogs are very social animals........and there are examples of unselfish behaviour in the dog world with the likes of Greyfriars Bobby, Lassie etc etc....my little dog would defend me to the death !.....rats of course are very different !!...
Jodders -> jessie69 , 14 Nov 2016 4:03
Kind of counter to sort of arguments I'd want to make on the subject but Grey Friars Bobby kept visiting that graveyard because they didn't bury the paupers all that deep and the hungry wee dog could get hold of a lot of juicy bones. Which I suppose is neo-liberalism summed up: the poorest left so hungry they'll end up competing over the bones of the dead. Hopefully that last sentence is metaphorical.
missbrette , 14 Nov 2016 3:39
For a long time, people on the (real?) left who were denouncing the effects of ultra liberalism were seen as dangerous idealists, plain commies or immature kids. The tide seems to be slowly shifting but it will probably get worse before it gets better.
Sowester , 14 Nov 2016 3:39
An interesting point of view but probably too late. Trump will never dismantle neoliberalism. His rhetoric is hot air and he has no answers to the complex problems of the 21st century. The only thing that will save us will be a short sharp economic collapse. It was narrowly avoided in 2008 but all the seeds for another are there. If it happens on Trump or Mays watch new voices can be heard and social democracy can regain the ascendency it had after 1945. There needs to be pain before that and it wont be long before it arrives.
BabyJonker -> Sowester , 14 Nov 2016 8:06
I suspect you're right. People are talking about Trump as thought this is endgame, we've hit the bottom of the barrel and it can't get much worse. I think there's still a ways to go though before people stop accepting that a change of management isn't enough anymore, and an economic crisis worse than anything in living memory will most likely be the catalyst for change.

Sadly history tells us that as the political class gets more desperate, they'll start pointing fingers of blame at just about everyone before they accept any responsibility, which means a lot of unhappiness misdirected at a handful of tiny groups of people who are totally unconnected to anything that they're being accused of.

Uhmmmmm -> Sowester , 14 Nov 2016 12:24
No Trump does not have the answers that are needed to address neoliberalism. A sharp short economic collapse will not change the pathway we are all on. If we look back to the Great Depression, Hoover followed by Roosevelt shows us what is likely to transpire, there would have to be something else in the mix to bring about real change.

In anycase Hayek's philosophies are really just an extension of what was going on during the Great Depression, the pathway to neoliberalism had it's seeds going back before this period.

The most likely game changer at present is more than likely global warming, I see nothing else on the horizon.

Newtownian , 14 Nov 2016 3:39
If you want to see a nefarious extension of neoliberal rentier debt economics George can I suggest you have a close look at a new emerging threat in sheets clothing - the Circular Economy. This isnt just about cuddly saving the planet. Like neoliberal innovation generally its also about disempowerment and ultimately rent capitalism based neo-feudal enslavement.
Topher , 14 Nov 2016 3:40
The issue is how the political class which is currently being unseated can respond to this new reality, how they are able to change or if they are able to. And subsequent to that, whether the public will allow them to play any part. This is a non trivial issue: most politicians have grown up with a dogmatic belief in this failed system, and our electorate are not in a forgiving mood.

Those of is who've been warning of the failure of neoliberalism in both economic and civic terms don't need convincing, and it's increasingly obvious that by defensively ignoring dissenting voices the political consensus was sowing the seeds of its own demise. Now, instead of having to work with social democrats to reinvest, to responsibly regulate, to strengthen social bonds, they have to pander to a brew breed of fascists, who they have created.

w7ujt1hjpvef -> Topher , 14 Nov 2016 3:42
The political class is remaining firmly in place, ironically.
Helen121 -> Topher , 14 Nov 2016 3:52
The political class is not being unseated though, is it? Its becoming more entrenched and with a lot more power. There will be no checks and balances on "the God Emperor" Trump (as the American Nazis are calling him).
Topher -> Helen121 , 14 Nov 2016 4:11
Trump is not from the political class. He is from something much worse - the class of extreme narcissist, hugely wealthy populists - but has minimal connections with the machinery of government.
Longrigg , 14 Nov 2016 3:40
For me the core problem, as ever, is that the messengers (the corporate owned media) tell the majority that neoliberalism is just fine and the problem is with anyone who challenges this narrative. This is why the anger gets twisted around with the masses voting for Brexit or Trump.

Globalisation resulted in the loss of jobs for many of the 99% and today May promises that as a result of Brexit we will be going even more for globilisation. Things can only get worse as the minority who understand the issue will be too few to overturn a Tory majority in a FPTP system with opposition divided.

whatisquicksand -> Longrigg , 14 Nov 2016 4:01
It is not globalisation that takes away the jobs but automation. Many of the jobs lost from America's rust belt moved to other more highly automated factories in other States.
lingyai -> whatisquicksand , 14 Nov 2016 4:42
It's not one or the other. Both globalisation and automation have taken jobs away. We exported a large amount of our manufacturing to where labour was cheaper ( far east , china etc).
ShaneFromMelbourne , 14 Nov 2016 3:40
Honestly, we are a few more elections away before the punters realize that no peaceful political solutions are possible; expect armed insurrection in the USA by 2030 at most......
Evangelist9 -> ShaneFromMelbourne , 14 Nov 2016 4:12
Well, at least the population are already tooled up for that, what with so many of them owning (quite legally) multiple firearms.
SilkverBlogger , 14 Nov 2016 3:41
Trump insulted his opponents into defeat and humiliation. This is him from day one and his TV series. At 70 dont expect this dog to learn new tricks. In fact he's proved time and again his inability to learn.

No, fancy theories about neo-liberalism will not help us understand or predict his behaviour... all we need to know is the pattern of the psychology of bullying and intimidation. One can only hope he will drown in his own virulence

Waster1000 -> SilkverBlogger , 14 Nov 2016 3:44
I think you are focusing on the wrong candidate. Clinton lost because we are fed up with the patronising liberal left, who do not actually care about the people they purport to represent.
SilkverBlogger -> Waster1000 , 14 Nov 2016 3:57
Granted, but the alternative we got is not the solution... its only a wild gamble with the Tarot cards of Armageddon. Oh well, ours is not to reason why.. etc
fleeing -> Waster1000 , 14 Nov 2016 14:21
To describe Clinton as liberal, in the American tradition, is realistic, but to describe her as 'left', apart from as an opposite to far-right, makes as much sense as calling John Major or Ted Heath Marxists.
Skepticsayer , 14 Nov 2016 3:41
Good article, and goes some way to explaining the economics but it doesn't quite explain the huge ideological shift of the traditional working classes away from the political Left. I'm afraid Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens as well as mainstream media, particularly Ch 4 and the BBC, suppressed any criticism of multi-culturalism and immigration while blatantly ignoring, disregarding and, far worse, actually disparaging the "white working classes." If you went into any school in this country, the walls were/ are covered with positive images of black, Asian and ethnic minorities and lessons encourage "sharing" and positive imagery of those cultures' faiths, food, celebrations, all good stuff!!

Except that white working class culture has been too often excluded or portrayed super negatively and stereotypically as fish and chip eating, white van driving, boxing, football, racist epsilons... is it a surprise that white working class kids are now performing worse than any other? And look at any Ch 4 programme about this cohort of society: "Benefits Street"... or news items about Brexit supporters full of imagery of toothless people, many with obvious addiction problems and/ or special needs and mobility scooters... I remember black people used to be horrifically subjected to the same stereotypes. So here we have the root of the problem, which is a complete imbalance in terms of who is officially approved and encouraged in this country and who is excluded and degraded. The "divisiveness" is owned by the Left. The lid is now off the pot but the Left can only blame themselves!!

hendrixisking -> Skepticsayer , 14 Nov 2016 3:46
Yes, Labour is not the friend of the white working class anymore !!
Skepticsayer -> hendrixisking , 14 Nov 2016 3:55
The thing is that the so called "white working class" is as diverse, if not more diverse ethnically and culturally, than any other!!

It is however, portrayed as an homogenous lump (my mum is white working class and my dad Punjabi Muslim and most where I come from highly diverse and mixed communities) by the political class and media to feed and agenda, which is about blaming. The "white working class" is blamed for every perceived threat ideologically and economically - they are branded on the one hand as inherently racist, intolerant and blaming immigrants for everything; on the other, for being inherently lazy, uneducated and low skilled and so this narrative justifies importing 300, 000 annually from overseas... people held up against the latter "highly educated and skilled" and "hardworking"!!

Both perspectives are in fact highly propagandist and play to stereotypes- the heroic immigrant labourer upholding our NHS and economy vs. the lazy, stupid Brit (always white and working class) who would prevent our country and economy progressing.

[Sep 13, 2017] As John Kenneth Galbraith pointed out in The Affluent Society there is always a desperate attempt to hold onto the conventional wisdom that those at the top have invested so much time and effort in. The death throes of each system are maintained for as long as feasible until it is almost impossible for anyone to believe that the current system can work

Notable quotes:
"... The Clinton and Remain campaigns shared an approach of trying to convince people ahead of time that what they need is not necessarily what they want. Both campaigns lost ..."
"... Ryan now leads the neoliberal cause in the party and a lot of what Trump wants to do (borrow and spend on public projects or limit free trade for example) will not sit well with them. ..."
"... George has highlighted the key battle - can the 'swarm that is now surrounding Trump, fill this empty vessel' and bend him to their ideology or will he prove true to his campaign promises. As each of his promises is one by one 'modified' the danger increases that those who voted for him realise that they have been shafted once again. I suspect though, that they may never come to realise who is doing this to them. ..."
"... This is the most enlightening article I have read in the Guardian. It goes a long way to explaining the root of Thatcherism, and why she behaved as she did, towards so many organisations, she saw as the enemy of her chosen path! I have wondered why she is remembered with such fondness by many, and her legacy revered, when it left so many problems for the future. Sure, the rich got richer, our manufacturing base was decimated, and those unholy bankers, stockbrokers, arms dealers and the like, revelled in her folly! ..."
"... Trump offered change, Hillary Clinton was the status quo. The establishment couldn't accept their neoliberal ideas had failed and the people had to push them out. The status quo has failed – wake up – this is the new reality. ..."
"... We need to recognise that we have been through many versions of Capitalism and they all fail as this version is failing now. ..."
"... Unfettered Capitalism has a catastrophic failure mode and dressing it up in the Emperor's New Clothes of supply side economics didn't make a blind bit of difference. We've done Neo-Keynesian stimulus. After eight years of pumping trillions into the top of the economic pyramid, banks, and waiting for it to trickle down. It didn't work, hardly anything trickled down. ..."
"... Your examples of "failures" actually demonstrate exactly the opposite: that capitalism is resilient. It survived 2 world wars, the 1930's depression, withdrawal of the gold standard (which had far-reaching effects on the "establishment"), the 2008 crash, the oil crises of the 1970s (that caused your "stagflation") and pretty much everything else that has been thrown at the financial world in the past 100 years. ..."
Sep 13, 2017 | theguardian.com

KTBFFH , 14 Nov 2016 3:46

I don't necessarily disagree with much of this piece but I can't help feeling that the hints given by Monbiot about some new thinking to combat neoliberalism being developed is more about hope than expectation.

I am rather more cynical. The Clinton and Remain campaigns shared an approach of trying to convince people ahead of time that what they need is not necessarily what they want. Both campaigns lost and the fall-out has included lots of cries that people are fed up with being told what to think and do by the "liberal elite". Fine, so now they believe they can think and do more themselves.

It may be better to sit back for a while to let people rejoice in getting what they want in order that they can self-educate through grim reality that what they thought they wanted was a fiction. Sometimes people have to find out for themselves that they have made a terrible mistake.

NeilJ01 -> KTBFFH , 14 Nov 2016 3:50
Given that on both sides of the Atlantic, the majority of people oppose the shift to the right, surely all that is needed is some decent organization against them and leadership capable of galvanizing the repulsion of this year's events. My fingers are firmly crossed, but I cannot see anything on the horizon at the moment.
Johanes -> KTBFFH , 14 Nov 2016 4:08
"Sometimes people have to find out for themselves that they have made a terrible mistake" - shame that in the meantime, that "terrible mistake" is pounced upon as democratic justification for the entry of economic elites waiting in the wings.

Do you really think people's "mistakes" (a) are random, and/or (b) will be allowed to lead to the general good without being hijacked?

NeilJ01 , 14 Nov 2016 3:47
It is not clear how Trump's election is going to be handled by the GOP. Ryan now leads the neoliberal cause in the party and a lot of what Trump wants to do (borrow and spend on public projects or limit free trade for example) will not sit well with them.

George has highlighted the key battle - can the 'swarm that is now surrounding Trump, fill this empty vessel' and bend him to their ideology or will he prove true to his campaign promises. As each of his promises is one by one 'modified' the danger increases that those who voted for him realise that they have been shafted once again. I suspect though, that they may never come to realise who is doing this to them.

northsylvania -> NeilJ01 , 14 Nov 2016 4:23
Trump has said that he wants to continue holding rallies, something political pundits put down to his overwhelming ego. He might want an army of the dedicated behind him to convince the power structure that it would be in their own best interests to give him what he wants. It's telling that he chose Priebus, a member of the power structure, to be chief of staff and Bannon to be his chief strategist.
Helen121 , 14 Nov 2016 3:48
I'm not convinced that Trump is going to steer the world away from neo-liberalism. If anything, Hayek is now going to run wild...
factgasm -> Helen121 , 14 Nov 2016 4:15
The People keep voting for their oppressors - because that's the only choice the system offers them.
rcourt130864 -> Helen121 , 14 Nov 2016 8:20
Neoliberalism could burn itself out - could get messy!
Oldfranky , 14 Nov 2016 3:48
This is the most enlightening article I have read in the Guardian. It goes a long way to explaining the root of Thatcherism, and why she behaved as she did, towards so many organisations, she saw as the enemy of her chosen path! I have wondered why she is remembered with such fondness by many, and her legacy revered, when it left so many problems for the future. Sure, the rich got richer, our manufacturing base was decimated, and those unholy bankers, stockbrokers, arms dealers and the like, revelled in her folly!

Multi National companies thrived, setting up bases all over the World to avoid tax, whilst the ordinary folk were hounded by Inland Revenue, for all that was due. I trust Mrs May will not exemplify her, and make sure the Country is a fairer place for all, as she said in her statement in front of No 10!

Oldfranky -> Oldfranky , 14 Nov 2016 4:09
As an addenda: Not that the Left has done any better, especially under the neo conservative Blair and his cohort Brown, and now Corbyn!
ehywhat , 14 Nov 2016 3:48
I have to say, Trump has not looked to me like any kind of very happy bunny since he got elected. He looks pretty worried and overwhelmed. I wonder whether he can stay the course?
MyEvilHiddenAgenda -> ehywhat , 14 Nov 2016 12:08
I noticed this too. He looked very subdued - miserable, even - in that meeting with Obama. His conciliatory victory speech sounded nothing like his rallies. Perhaps this is why every supposed saviour turns out to be a complete fraud. They're all being taken out the back, shot, and replaced with doubles by the Illuminati as soon as they win. I think it's more likely Trump simply has no appetite for the job and no real convictions, yet lots of people to please.
soundofthesuburbs , 14 Nov 2016 3:48
Trump offered change, Hillary Clinton was the status quo. The establishment couldn't accept their neoliberal ideas had failed and the people had to push them out. The status quo has failed – wake up – this is the new reality.

Capitalism gets itself into dead ends - 1930s, 1970s, today's secular stagnation and new normal. Let's keep lowering interest rates and adding more QE forever, it hasn't worked for eight years maybe in a hundred years time it will start to work or perhaps it won't. Show me a version of Capitalism that hasn't failed. We need to recognise that we have been through many versions of Capitalism and they all fail as this version is failing now.

As John Kenneth Galbraith points out in "The Affluent Society" there is always a desperate attempt to hold onto the "conventional wisdom" that those at the top have invested so much time and effort in. The death throes of each system are maintained for as long as feasible until it is almost impossible for anyone to believe that the current system can work. A new system comes along with promises that everything will be much better, and it is, for a decade or two.

  1. Capitalism mark 1 – Unfettered Capitalism. Crashed and burned in 1929 with a global recession in the 1930s. The New Deal and Keynesian ideas promised a bright new world.
  2. Capitalism mark 2 – Keynesian Capitalism. Ended with stagflation in the 1970s. Market led Capitalism ideas promised a bright new world.
  3. Capitalism mark 3 - Unfettered Capitalism (Part 2 – Market led Capitalism) Crashed and burned in 2008 with a global recession in the 2010s. It has followed the same path as Unfettered Capitalism (Mark 1).

[Some analogies]

Unfettered Capitalism has a catastrophic failure mode and dressing it up in the Emperor's New Clothes of supply side economics didn't make a blind bit of difference. We've done Neo-Keynesian stimulus. After eight years of pumping trillions into the top of the economic pyramid, banks, and waiting for it to trickle down. It didn't work, hardly anything trickled down.

The powers that be are now for Keynesian stimulus. Carry out infrastructure projects that create jobs and wages which will be spent into the economy and trickle up (pumping money into the bottom of the economic pyramid). A new brush sweeps clean, the old ideologues stuck in their old failed ways must go. The Left is still full of neoliberal ideologues; it's time to move on.

graun -> soundofthesuburbs , 14 Nov 2016 4:07

Show me a version of Capitalism that hasn't failed

Your examples of "failures" actually demonstrate exactly the opposite: that capitalism is resilient. It survived 2 world wars, the 1930's depression, withdrawal of the gold standard (which had far-reaching effects on the "establishment"), the 2008 crash, the oil crises of the 1970s (that caused your "stagflation") and pretty much everything else that has been thrown at the financial world in the past 100 years.
nishville -> soundofthesuburbs , 14 Nov 2016 4:17
After eight years of pumping trillions into the top of the economic pyramid, banks, and waiting for it to trickle down. It didn't work, hardly anything trickled down.

And it won't until you prick it with pitchforks.

[Sep 05, 2017] Is the World Slouching Toward a Grave Systemic Crisis by Philip Zelikow

Highly recommended!
This is a weak and way too long article. That demonstrated inability to think in scientific terms such neoliberalism, neocolonialism and end of cheap oil. Intead it quckly deteriorated into muchy propaganda. But it touches on legacy of Troskyst Burnham, who was one of God fathers of neoliberalism.
Zelikov is the guy who whitewashed 9/11. This neocon does not use the term neoliberalism even once but he writes like a real neoliberal Trotskyite.
Notable quotes:
"... The Managerial State ..."
"... Orwell was profoundly disturbed by Burnham's vision of the emerging "managerial state." All too convincing. Yet he also noticed how, when Burnham described the new superstates and their demigod rulers, Burnham exhibited "a sort of fascinated admiration." ..."
"... Burnham had predicted Nazi victory. Later, Burnham had predicted the Soviet conquest of all Eurasia. By 1947 Burnham was calling for the U.S. to launch a preventive nuclear war against the Soviet Union to head off the coming disaster. ..."
"... Orwell saw a pattern. Such views seemed symptoms of "a major mental disease, and its roots," he argued, which, "lie partly in cowardice and partly in the worship of power, which is not fully separable from cowardice." ..."
"... Orwell had another critique. He deplored the fact that, "The tendency of writers like Burnham, whose key concept is 'realism,' is to overrate the part played in human affairs by sheer force." Orwell went on. "I do not say that he is wrong all the time. But somehow his picture of the world is always slightly distorted." ..."
"... "the fact that certain rules of conduct have to be observed if human society is to hold together at all." ..."
"... Nineteen Eighty-Four. ..."
"... By that time, Burnham had become a consultant to the CIA, advising its new office for covert action. That was the capacity in which Burnham met the young William F. Buckley. Burnham mentored Buckley. It was with Buckley that Burnham became one of the original editors of the National Review ..."
"... Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism ..."
"... What about our current president? Last month he urged his listeners to be ready to fight to the death for the "values" of the West. He named two: "individual freedom and sovereignty. ..."
"... Certainly our history counsels modesty. Americans and the American government have a very mixed and confusing record in the way we have, in practice, related values in foreign governance to what our ..."
"... "A stable world order needs a careful balance between power and legitimacy. Legitimacy is upheld when states, no matter how powerful, observe norms of state behavior." India, Saran said, had the "civilizational attributes." ..."
Sep 05, 2017 | www.theatlantic.com

My first prophet was a man named James Burnham. In 1941 Burnham was 35 years old. From a wealthy family -- railroad money -- he was a star student at Princeton, then on to Balliol College, Oxford. Burnham was an avowed Communist. He joined with Trotsky during the 1930s.

By 1941, Burnham had moved on, as he published his first great book of prophecy, called The Managerial State . The book made him a celebrity. It was widely discussed on both sides of the Atlantic.

Burnham's vision of the future is one where the old ideologies, like socialism, have been left behind. The rulers are really beyond all that. They are the managerial elite, the technocrats, the scientists, and the bureaucrats who manage the all-powerful enterprises and agencies.

You know this vision. You have seen it so often at the movies. It is the vision in all those science fiction dystopias. You know, with the gilded masterminds ruling all from their swank towers and conference rooms.

It's a quite contemporary vision. For instance, it is not far at all from the way I think the rulers of China imagine themselves and their future.

In this and other writings, Burnham held up Stalin's Soviet Union and Hitler's Germany as the pure exemplars of these emerging managerial states. They were showing the way to the future. By comparison, FDR's New Deal was a primitive version. And he thought it would lose.

Burnham's views were not so unusual among the leading thinkers of the 1940s, like Joseph Schumpeter or Karl Polanyi. All were pessimistic about the future of free societies, including Friedrich Hayek, who really believed that once-free countries were on the "road to serfdom." But Burnham took the logic further.

Just after the second world war ended, my other prophet decided to answer Burnham. You know him as George Orwell.

Eric Blair, who used George Orwell as his pen name, was about Burnham's age. Their backgrounds were very different. Orwell was English. Poor. Orwell's lungs were pretty rotten and he would not live long. Orwell was a democratic socialist who came to loathe Soviet communism. He had volunteered to fight in Spain, was shot through the throat. Didn't stop his writing.

Orwell was profoundly disturbed by Burnham's vision of the emerging "managerial state." All too convincing. Yet he also noticed how, when Burnham described the new superstates and their demigod rulers, Burnham exhibited "a sort of fascinated admiration."

Orwell wrote : For Burnham, "Communism may be wicked, but at any rate it is big: it is a terrible, all-devouring monster which one fights against but which one cannot help admiring." To Orwell, Burnham's mystical picture of "terrifying, irresistible power" amounted to "an act of homage, and even of self-abasement." irresistible power" amounted to "an act of homage, and even of self-abasement."

Burnham had predicted Nazi victory. Later, Burnham had predicted the Soviet conquest of all Eurasia. By 1947 Burnham was calling for the U.S. to launch a preventive nuclear war against the Soviet Union to head off the coming disaster.

Orwell saw a pattern. Such views seemed symptoms of "a major mental disease, and its roots," he argued, which, "lie partly in cowardice and partly in the worship of power, which is not fully separable from cowardice."

Orwell thought that "power worship blurs political judgment because it leads, almost unavoidably, to the belief that present trends will continue. Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible."

Orwell had another critique. He deplored the fact that, "The tendency of writers like Burnham, whose key concept is 'realism,' is to overrate the part played in human affairs by sheer force." Orwell went on. "I do not say that he is wrong all the time. But somehow his picture of the world is always slightly distorted."

Finally, Orwell thought Burnham overestimated the resilience of the managerial state model and underestimated the qualities of open and civilized societies. Burnham's vision did not allow enough play for "the fact that certain rules of conduct have to be observed if human society is to hold together at all."

Having written these critical essays, Orwell then tried to make his case against Burnham in another way. This anti-Burnham argument became a novel -- the novel called Nineteen Eighty-Four.

That book came out in 1949. Orwell died the next year.

By that time, Burnham had become a consultant to the CIA, advising its new office for covert action. That was the capacity in which Burnham met the young William F. Buckley. Burnham mentored Buckley. It was with Buckley that Burnham became one of the original editors of the National Review and a major conservative commentator. In 1983, President Reagan awarded Burnham the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Not that Burnham's core vision had changed. In 1964, he published another book of prophecy. This was entitled Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism . The Soviet Union and its allies had the will to power. Liberalism and its defenders did not. "The primary issue before Western civilization today, and before its member nations, is survival." (Sound familiar?)

And it was liberalism, Burnham argued, with its self-criticism and lack of commitment, that would pull our civilization down from within. Suicide.

So was Burnham wrong? Was Orwell right? This is a first-class historical question. Burnham's ideal of the "managerial state" is so alive today.

State the questions another way: Do open societies really work better than closed ones? Is a more open and civilized world really safer and better for Americans? If we think yes, then what is the best way to prove that point?

My answer comes in three parts. The first is about how to express our core values. American leaders tend to describe their global aims as the promotion of the right values. Notice that these are values in how other countries are governed. President Obama's call for an "international order of laws and institutions," had the objective of winning a clash of domestic governance models around the world. This clash he called: "authoritarianism versus liberalism."

Yet look at how many values he felt "liberalism" had to include. For Obama the "road of true democracy," included a commitment to "liberty, equality, justice, and fairness" and curbing the "excesses of capitalism."

What about our current president? Last month he urged his listeners to be ready to fight to the death for the "values" of the West. He named two: "individual freedom and sovereignty. "

A week later, two of his chief aides, Gary Cohn and H.R. McMaster, doubled down on the theme that America was promoting, with its friends, the values that "drive progress throughout the world." They too had a laundry list. They omitted "sovereignty." But then, narrowing the list only to the "most important," they listed: "[T]he dignity of every person equality of women innovation freedom of speech and of religion and free and fair markets."

By contrast, the anti-liberal core values seem simple. The anti-liberals are for authority and against anarchy and disorder. And they are for community and against the subversive, disruptive outsider.

There are of course many ways to define a "community" -- including tribal, religious, political, or professional. It is a source of identity, of common norms of behavior, of shared ways of life.

Devotees of freedom and liberalism do not dwell as much on "community." Except to urge that everybody be included, and treated fairly.

But beliefs about "community" have always been vital to human societies. In many ways, the last 200 years have been battles about how local communities try to adapt or fight back against growing global pressures -- especially economic and cultural, but often political and even military.

So much of the divide between anti-liberals or liberals is cultural. Little has to do with "policy" preferences. Mass politics are defined around magnetic poles of cultural attraction. If Americans engage this culture war on a global scale, I plead for modesty and simplicity. As few words as possible, as fundamental as possible.

Certainly our history counsels modesty. Americans and the American government have a very mixed and confusing record in the way we have, in practice, related values in foreign governance to what our government does.

Also, until the late 19th century, "democracy" was never at the core of liberal thinking. Liberal thinkers were very interested in the design of republics. But classical liberal thinkers, including many of the American founders, always had a troubled relationship with democracy. There were always two issues.

First, liberals were devoted, above all, to liberty of thought and reason. Pace Tom Paine, the people were often regarded as intolerant, ill-informed, and superstitious -- unreliable judges of scientific truth, historical facts, moral duty, and legal disputes. The other problem is that democracy used to be considered a synonym for mob rule. Elections can be a supreme check on tyranny. But sometimes the people have exalted their dictators and have not cared overmuch about the rule of law. It therefore still puzzles me: Why is there so much debate about which people are "ready for democracy"? Few of the old theorists thought any people were ready for such a thing.

It was thought, though, that any civilized people might be persuaded to reject tyranny. Any civilized community might prefer a suitably designed and confining constitution, limiting powers and working at a reliable rule of law.

By the way, that "rule of law" was a value that Mr. Cohn and General McMaster left off of their "most important" list -- yet is anything more essential to our way of life?

Aside from the relation with democracy, the other great ideal that any liberal order finds necessary, yet troubling, is the one about community: nationalism.

Consider the case of Poland. For 250 years, Poland has been a great symbol to the rest of Europe. For much of Polish and European history, nationalism was an ally of liberalism. Versus Czarist tyranny, versus aristocratic oligarchs.

But sometimes not. Today, Poland's governing Law and Justice party is all about being anti-Russian, anti-Communist, and pro-Catholic. They are all about "authority" and "community." At the expense of ? Poland's president has just had to intervene when the rule of law itself seemed to be at stake.

We Americans and our friends should define what we stand for. Define it in a way that builds a really big tent. In 1989, working for the elder President Bush, I was able to get the phrase, "commonwealth of free nations," into a couple of the president's speeches. It didn't stick. Nearly 20 years later, in 2008, the late Harvard historian Ernest May and I came up with a better formulation. We thought that through human history the most adaptable and successful societies had turned out to be the ones that were "open and civilized."

Rather than the word, "liberal," the word "open" seems more useful. It is the essence of liberty. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi uses it in his speeches; Karl Popper puts it at the core of his philosophy; Anne-Marie Slaughter makes it a touchstone in her latest book. That's a big tent right there.

Also the ideal of being "civilized." Not such an old-fashioned ideal. It gestures to the yearning for community. Not only a rule of law, also community norms, the norms that reassure society and regulate rulers -- whether in a constitution or in holy scripture.

Chinese leaders extol the value of being civilized -- naturally, they commingle it with Sinification. Muslims take pride in a heritage that embraces norms of appropriate conduct by rulers. And, of course, in an open society, community norms can be contested and do evolve.

The retired Indian statesman, Shyam Saran, recently lectured on, "Is a China-centric world inevitable?" To Saran, "A stable world order needs a careful balance between power and legitimacy. Legitimacy is upheld when states, no matter how powerful, observe norms of state behavior." India, Saran said, had the "civilizational attributes."

... ... ...

Philip Zelikow is the White Burkett Miller Professor of History at the University of Virginia, and is a former executive director of the 9/11 Commission.

[Sep 01, 2017] South Koreas Greatest Fear (and It Isnt a North Korean Invasion)

Sep 01, 2017 | nationalinterest.org
spending nearly $13.7 billion. Just two years ago, it seemed that Seoul and Beijing were embarking on a honeymoon phase when President Park Geun-hye attended a military parade in Tiananmen Square commemorating the end of World War II!the only U.S. ally to do so.

Then THAAD happened.

In July 2016, Seoul and Washington announced their decision to deploy the anti-missile system. China opposed the deployment, saying it undermined China's security and would destabilize the region because its radars could be used by the United States to track China's missile activities.

China wanted to "teach South Korea a lesson" for the effrontery of the THAAD deployment. Shortly after the announcement, Beijing banned the airing of Korean TV shows, films, and K-pop acts in China. After it was revealed that Lotte Group!a South Korean conglomerate operating 112 stores in mainland China!once owned the land THAAD would be based on, Chinese state media called for a nationwide boycott of the company. By March 2017, nearly half of Lotte's stores on the mainland were shutdown , due to vague "safety violations." That same month, Beijing banned its travel agencies from selling trips to Korea, resulting in a 66 percent decrease in Chinese visitors from last year. Shortly after President Moon Jae-in was elected to the Blue House in May 2017, he announced the suspension of further THAAD deployments until further review.

Many South Koreans told me they expected blowback from the decision to deploy THAAD, but the swiftness and intensity of Beijing's retaliation caught them off guard. Beijing's response to THAAD, they said, "opened our [South Korean] eyes to China's true colors ." Simply put, they believed Beijing could not be relied on to consider South Korea's interests if China's interests were on the line. This disillusionment is fanning mistrust and has damaged China's image in South Korea. A March 2017 Asan Institute poll found that, for the first time ever , Koreans had a more favorable view of Japan than of China. This was a shocking finding; Japan has consistently been South Koreans' least favorite country after North Korea.

In spite of growing mistrust, South Koreans recognize the crucial role Beijing plays in reining in Pyongyang. Many interlocutors said they believed, in spite of THAAD, that Chinese officials wanted to maintain good relations with South Korea!albeit on China's terms.

[Sep 01, 2017] The purpose of identity politics is to avoid owners of capital economic issues due to working class resistance by switching the anger at some social group and using "divide and conqure" policy trying to pit one group against the other

Notable quotes:
"... Yes, identity politics are a distraction, it's the political equivalent of sugar, it gets you high but eventually ruins you. ..."
Sep 01, 2017 | www.unz.com

jorge videla > , August 31, 2017 at 6:53 am GMT

the purpose of identity politics is to avoid economic issues when they are more pressing than at any time since ww ii. the brainwashing of americans against socialism has continued for those born after 12/26/1991. as long as the alt-right is dominated by the brainwashed it will fail.

It needs to stop calling itself conservative and right.

What the majority of the electorate wants is bernie sanders, a wall, e-verify and the subsequent self-deportations, more environmental regulations, the end of affirmative action, etc..

Rod1963 > , August 31, 2017 at 7:25 pm GMT

@jorge videla

the purpose of identity politics is to avoid economic issues when they are more pressing than at any time since ww ii. the brainwashing of americans against socialism has continued for those born after 12/26/1991. as long as the alt-right is dominated by the brainwashed it will fail. it needs to stop calling itself conservative and right. what the majority of the electorate wants is bernie sanders, a wall, e-verify and the subsequent self-deportations, more environmental regulations, the end of affirmative action, etc..

Yes, identity politics are a distraction, it's the political equivalent of sugar, it gets you high but eventually ruins you.

It also answers the question why is Silicon Valley, Wall Street and the bankers all of a sudden are supporting identity politics? Because it's a counter to populism and economic awareness.

This keeps people from noticing their politicians are all owned by wealthy special interests who don't give a shit about the people and it fact plan to reduce most to serfs in the name of profit. No one ever talks about why Wall Street gets a multitrillion dollar bail out for what amounted to was a scam concocted by the bankers and real-estate moguls and bond ratings agencies. Yet no one ever went to jail over this.

It distracts the young why they can't file for bankruptcy after graduating with a worthless college degree that they paid $150k for.

[Sep 01, 2017] Raghuram Rajan: Populist Nationalism Is the First Step Toward Crony Capitalism

Sep 01, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Asher Schechter at ProMarket discusses Raghuram Rajan's views on the rise of populist nationalism:

Raghuram Rajan: Populist Nationalism Is "the First Step Toward Crony Capitalism" : The wave of populist nationalism that has been sweeping through Western democracies in the past two years is "a cry for help from communities who have seen growth bypass them."
So said Raghuram Rajan, the former governor of the Reserve Bank of India, during a keynote address he gave at the Stigler Center's conference on the political economy of finance that took place in June.
Rajan, a professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, spoke about the "concentrated and devastating" impact of technology and trade on blue-collar communities in areas like the Midwest, the anger toward "totally discredited" elites following the 2008 financial crisis, and the subsequent rise of populist nationalism, seen as a way to restore a sense of community via exclusion.
In his talk, Rajan focused on three questions related to current populist discontent: 1. Why is anger focused on trade? 2. Why now? 3. Why do so many voters turn to far-right nationalist movements?
"Pointing fingers at these communities and telling them they don't understand is not the right answer," he warned. "In many ways, the kind of angst that we see in industrial countries today is similar to the bleak times [of] the 1920s and 1930s. Most people in industrial countries used to believe that their children would have a better future than their already pleasant present. Today this is no longer true." ...

There's quite a bit more. I don't agree with everything he (Raghuram) says, but thought it might provoke discussion.

DrDick , August 31, 2017 at 11:03 AM

Frankly, "crony capitalism" has always been the primary one, as even Adam Smith noted.
Paine , August 31, 2017 at 11:54 AM
The understanding of exploitation
Of wage earning production workers
Is a better base then the 18 th century liberal ideal of equality

Exploitation and oppression are obviously not the same
even if they make synergistic team mates oftener then not
So long as " them " are blatantly oppressed
It's easy to Forget you are exploited
Unlike oppression
Exploitation can be so stealthy
So not part of the common description of the surface of daily life

Calls for equality must include a careful answer to the question
" equal with who ? "

Unearned equality is not seen as fair to those who wanna believe they earned their status
Add in the obvious :
To be part of a successful movement aimed at Exclusion of some " thems " or other
Is narcotic
Just as fighting exclusion can be a narcotic too for " thems "

But fighting against exclusion coming from among a privileged rank among
The community of would be excluders
That is a bummer
A thankless act of sanctimony
Unless you spiritually join the " thems"

Now what have we got ?

Jim Crow thrived for decades it only ended
When black arms and hands in the field at noon ...by the tens of millions
were no longer necessary to Dixie

Christopher H. , August 31, 2017 at 11:54 AM
"Pointing fingers at these communities and telling them they don't understand is not the right answer," he warned. "In many ways, the kind of angst that we see in industrial countries today is similar to the bleak times [of] the 1920s and 1930s. Most people in industrial countries used to believe that their children would have a better future than their already pleasant present. Today this is no longer true." ...

I thought this sort of thinking was widely accepted only in 2016 we were told by the center left that no it's not true.

"Rajan, a professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, spoke about the "concentrated and devastating" impact of technology and trade on blue-collar communities in areas like the Midwest, the anger toward "totally discredited" elites following the 2008 financial crisis, and the subsequent rise of populist nationalism, seen as a way to restore a sense of community via exclusion."

Instead the center left is arguing that workers have nothing to complain about and besides they're racist/sexist.

gregory byshenk , September 01, 2017 at 08:54 AM
'"These communities have become disempowered partly for economic reasons but partly also because decision-making has increasingly been centralized toward state governments, national governments, and multilateral [agreements]," said Rajan. In the European Union, he noted, the concentration of decision-making in Brussels has led to a lot of discontent.'

I'd suggest that this part is not true. Communities have become politically disempowered in large part because they have become economically disempowered. A shrinking economy means a shrinking tax base and less funds to do things locally. Even if the local government attempts to rebuild by recruiting other employers, they end up in a race to the bottom with other communities in a similar situation.

I'd also suggest that the largest part of the "discontent" in the EU is not because of any "concentration of decision-making", but because local (and regional, and national) politicians have used the EU as a convenient scapegoat for any required, but unpopular action.