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Resurgence of neofascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization

News Corporatism Recommended Links Ethno-lingustic Nationalism Media-Military-Industrial Complex Operation Gladio
Predator state National Security State Neocons as USA neofascists Inverted Totalitarism Crisis of Neoliberalism and Shift to neofascism Gangster Capitalism: The United States and the Globalization of Organized Crime
Nation under attack meme The Far Right Forces in Ukraine Big Uncle is Watching You Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime
National Socialism and Military Keysianism F-scale American Exceptionalism Neo Trotskyism aka Neoconservatism Neo-theocratic Movements Audacioues Oligarchy and Loss of Trust
Totalitarian Decisionism New American Militarism The Grand Chessboard Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ? Neoliberal Brainwashing: Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few The Guardian Slips Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment
Corruption of Regulators Double High Authoritarians The Iron Law of Oligarchy In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers Reconciling Human Rights IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement
The Tea Party Mayberry Machiavellians War and Peace Quotes Henry A Wallace Quotes Snowden Quotes Etc
"Fascism: Any program for setting up a centralized autocratic national regime with severely nationalistic policies, exercising regimentation of industry, commerce, and finance, rigid censorship, and forcible suppression of opposition."

--Merriam-Webster Dictionary

"Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victim-hood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites , abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion."

- Robert Paxton


Introduction

Classic fascism can be viewed a variant of ultra-nationalism, which aspires to bring the renewal of a nation deeply in crisis and replacement of the corrupt liberal democracy with authoritarian dictatorship.  In a way, classic Fascism strongly correlates with the mental state of nation which is attacked by strong enemy, the enemy which has supporters inside the country. In addition it typically promotes militarism and territorial or economic expansion as the way to deal with internal problems.  Wikipedia defines the term in the following way:

Neo-fascism is a post–World War II ideology that includes significant elements of fascism. Neo-fascism usually includes ultranationalism, populism, anti-immigration policies or, where relevant, nativism, anti-communism, anti-socialism, anti-Marxism, anti-anarchism and opposition to the parliamentary system and liberal democracy. Allegations that a group is neo-fascist may be hotly contested, especially if the term is used as a political epithet.

In its essence fascism is an attempt to simplify control of population by the elite. It remains a viable right wing program for setting up a highly centralized regime with militaristic, nationalistic policies (especially external expansion, for example in the form of neoliberal empire expansion), merge of industrial and financial corporations with the government, total population control, rigid control of MSM, and violent suppression of opposition.

Neofascism essentially relax the same postulates. For example it does not directly oppose to parliamentary democracy and is ready to work within parliamentary system to get to power, it does not advocate violate as the primary means of suppressing the opposition, but now this is unnecessary as modern technology polished the ways of suppression any opposition by other means (see Inverted Totalitarism == Managed Democracy == Neoliberalism ). The strongest lhe link is  rampant militarism and exaggeration of external threat to the nation well-being (for example, the threat from Islamic terrorism)  which makes it surprisingly close to the ideology of National Security State  (Fascism - Wikipedia ):

Fascism is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism[1][2] that came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe, influenced by national syndicalism. Fascism originated in Italy during World War I and spread to other European countries. Fascism opposes liberalism, Marxism and anarchism and is usually placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.[3][4]

Fascists saw World War I as a revolution that brought massive changes in the nature of war, society, the state, and technology. The advent of total war and total mass mobilization of society had broken down the distinction between civilian and combatant. A "military citizenship" arose in which all citizens were involved with the military in some manner during the war.[5][6] The war had resulted in the rise of a powerful state capable of mobilizing millions of people to serve on the front lines and providing economic production and logistics to support them, as well as having unprecedented authority to intervene in the lives of citizens.[5][6]

Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete, and they regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties.[7] Such a state is led by a strong leader—such as a dictator and a martial government composed of the members of the governing fascist party—to forge national unity and maintain a stable and orderly society.[7] Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature, and views political violence, war, and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation.[8][9][10][11] Fascists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky through protectionist and interventionist economic policies.[12]

Since the end of World War II in 1945, few parties have openly described themselves as fascist, and the term is instead now usually used pejoratively by political opponents. The descriptions neo-fascist or post-fascist are sometimes applied more formally to describe parties of the far right with ideologies similar to, or rooted in, 20th century fascist movements.[13]

In other words while classic fascism now is almost extinct, there are multiple and more viable mutations of far right nationalism (which experience renaissance due to effects of population coused by neoliberal austerity) that are called by generic name of neofascism. And it proved to be highly adaptable ideology. For example, some flavors of neofascism replace physical suppression of internal opposition with MSM control (which already achieved in neoliberal societies).  Opposition is simply pushed out of mainstream media into alternative media and ignored, not physically suppressed. Similar the idea of racial/ethnic purity can be replaced by cultural, by rejection of alternative culture/language in particular country; Spanish in the USA or Russian in Ukraine.  In other forms by more sophisticated forms of identity politics. Sililary, the idea of one party system can be replaced with two party system, producing the same effect and allowing to preserve parliamentary democracy, while achieving basically the same goals as one party system.

As a political behavior all flavors of fascism are distinguished by  obsessive preoccupation with militarism, community decline, humiliation, or victim-hood (Nation under attack meme) and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and the idea of national rejuvenation (as reflected in "make America great again" slogan, although it originated in Paleoconservatism movement which isi not connected to fascist ideology of any kind). After all, the concept of national rejuvenation historically was one of the key reasons  classic fascist regimes of the last century came to power. First Mussolini and then Hitler espoused citizens’ duty to recover their respective nations ancient strength and glory. The key question for particular country is:

"Do the country has an organized, committed nationalistic (please note that "exceptionalism" is a form of nationalism) militants, in alliance with traditional elites, who are ready to use violence without ethical or legal restraints for internal cleansing of the society and external expansion?".  

So all those signs without militants organized in military fashion as was the case in Ukraine are not enough to classify a movement which hares more of those ideas as a fascist movement. But it can well be neofascist. Readiness to go to extra-legal means is what somewhat distinguishes neofascism from far right nationalism.  Another important distinction is  presence of elements of social democratic requirements, requirements for social justice in their program: neofascists movements typically are pro-middle class and, at least partially, pro working class. With the exception of so called "neoliberal fascism" they typically despise financial oligarchy and "unearned" income. 

They are also anti-elite, anti multinational corporations and transnational organizations like NAFTA or WTO.  And especially against transnational financial oligarchy (in Nazism that degenerated in into anti-Semitism, but it is is not necessary for a fascist movement to be anti-Semitic). Again, like classic economics a typical neofascist movement distinguished between "earned" and "unearned" income and consider the later a sign of parasitism and decadence of the society.  NSDAP program of 1920 explicitly stated "Abolition of unearned (work and labor) incomes. Breaking of debt (interest)-slavery."

Just looks at NSDAP program of 1920 and you will clearly see the requisite elements. Paradoxically those demands now position the US neofascists to the left of the current US Democratic Party, which is ready to dump Social Security and Medicare to please its Wall Street sponsors.

The 25-point Program of the NSDAP
… … …
7. We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens. If it is impossible to sustain the total population of the State, then the members of foreign nations (non-citizens) are to be expelled from the Reich.
8. Any further immigration of non-citizens is to be prevented. We demand that all non-Germans, who have immigrated to Germany since 2 August 1914, be forced immediately to leave the Reich.
9.All citizens must have equal rights and obligations.
10.The first obligation of every citizen must be to work both spiritually and physically. The activity of individuals is not to counteract the interests of the universality, but must have its result within the framework of the whole for the benefit of all. Consequently, we demand:
11.Abolition of unearned (work and labour) incomes. Breaking of debt (interest)-slavery.
12.In consideration of the monstrous sacrifice in property and blood that each war demands of the people, personal enrichment through a war must be designated as a crime against the people. Therefore, we demand the total confiscation of all war profits.
13.We demand the nationalisation of all (previous) associated industries (trusts).
14.We demand a division of profits of all heavy industries.
15.We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare.
16.We demand the creation of a healthy middle class and its conservation, immediate communalization of the great warehouses and their being leased at low cost to small firms, the utmost consideration of all small firms in contracts with the State, county or municipality.
17.We demand a land reform suitable to our needs, provision of a law for the free expropriation of land for the purposes of public utility, abolition of taxes on land and prevention of all speculation in land.
18.We demand struggle without consideration against those whose activity is injurious to the general interest. Common national criminals, usurers, profiteers and so forth are to be punished with death, without consideration of confession or race.
… … …
21.The State is to care for the elevating national health by protecting the mother and child, by outlawing child-labor, by the encouragement of physical fitness, by means of the legal establishment of a gymnastic and sport obligation, by the utmost support of all organizations concerned with the physical instruction of the young.
22. We demand abolition of the mercenary troops and formation of a national army.

And as far as external expansion goes, neoliberalism can definitely viewed as a form of neofascism ("Permanent War for Permanent Peace"), so there is a strong connection between neoliberalism and neofascism in foreign policy area and for this reason neoconservatives should probably be viewed as a modern flavor of neofascism.  See Professor Andrew Bacevich excellent book Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War

There are strong objections of using this word due to its historical baggage (and first of all the crimes committed by Nazi Germany in WWII), but the ideology of neofascism now experience strong Renaissance in most European countries. Ukraine is a good example of this trend. Critics claim that the term lost any precision and in many respects become a catchall for any kind of totalitarianism. In other words the term became useless. But, in reality it is not, even if it is used as a synonym of "far right nationalism", because most modern far right nationalism movement borrow key ideas of the three classic fascist regimes -- Mussolini in Italy, Nazism in Germany and Fracoism (falagism) in Spain.  New is often well forgotten old.   As Robert O. Paxton noted in his essay "The Five Stages of Fascism":

We cannot give up in the face of these difficulties. A real phenomenon exists. Indeed, fascism is the most original political novelty of the twentieth century, no less. ... If we cannot examine fascism synthetically, we risk being unable to understand this century, or the next.

We must have a word, and for lack of a better one, we must employ the word that Mussolini borrowed from the vocabulary of the Italian Left in 1919, before his movement had assumed its mature form. Obliged to use the term fascism, we ought to use it well.

Similarly there is a right for existence of the term neofascism, which is general denotes more aggressive and violent forms of far right nationalism. This is a set of trends and far right political movements  now observable in many countries which experienced neoliberal austerity, especially in Europe.

Like fascism and neoliberalism, in no way neofascism is a coherent ideology. It is often self-contradicting and contains mutually exclusive elements. That are several sometimes conflicting types of neofascism in modern societies:

Neofascism ideology is pretty fuzzy and flexible (remember that allies of Nazi Germany in WWII were Japanese, which were as far from Arian ethno type as we can get; while  Nazy were adamantly anti-Slav, which represents very similar to Arian ethnic type).

All-in-all it represents a popular and rising in importance on the political scene post–World War II ideology, which proved to be more enduring and popular then the communist ideology. It well coexists with neoliberalism (and can be completely merged with it as in Chile under Pinochet). While "excesses" of classical fascism are rejected it still has the key elements of "national socialism" in the form of  "socialism for 1%", if you wish.

There are multiple similar terms, such as military-industrial complex (neoconservatives can be viewed as lobbyists of military industrial complex),  predator state, national security state, etc which essentially describe the same phenomenon, stressing different aspects of it. 

For example, look how close to basic tenets of neofascism (if we assume that Arian nation is limited to financial, government and corporate oligarchy) is what James K Galbraith called the predator state (from the review by Thomas I Palley of the book in Asia Times Online,  Aug 22, 2008):

Economist Jamie K Galbraith's recent book [1] describes modern (Bush-Cheney) Republicanism as creating a "predator state". Its predatory aspects are starkly visible in the gangs of corporate lobbyists who roam Washington DC, the Halliburton Iraq war procurement scandal and the corruption and incompetence that surrounded the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

However, the broad concept of a predator state needs qualification as we are really talking of an "American corporate" predator state. Thus, the predatory nature of contemporary US governance is quintessentially linked to corporations, and it is also a uniquely American phenomenon.

Kleptocratic predator states, such as Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe or Sese Seko Mobutu's Zaire in Africa, are fundamentally different. There is no equivalent in Europe, and none in East Asia where ruling elites have a sense of obligation to the nation even as they often enrich themselves illicitly. Nor is there an equivalent in Latin America because government there never reached an economic size proportional to that of government in the US.

It is important to understand the social origins of the American corporate predator state because understanding is a necessary part of developing responses for caging the predators and replacing them with another, better, order. Those origins clearly trace back to the military-industrial complex that president Dwight Eisenhower warned about in his final televised address to the nation on January 17, 1961.

That complex has captured politics and corrupted the business of government, including of course the conduct of national security policy. The fact that it has wrapped itself with the flag makes it impossible to confront without being charged as unpatriotic. Worst yet, its enormous enduring profitability has provided a model for imitation by other industrial complexes like Big Pharma and Big Oil.

The political success of these predators is clearly linked to money's role in politics. Money gives the power to buy the political process, and that power is defended by a gospel of free speech that takes no account of the fact that out-shouting someone is qualitatively equivalent to silencing them. Economics also comes to money's defense with its absurd myth of a market for ideas in which participants compete on a level playing field and truth is effortlessly sorted from error.

The American worship of business and businessmen, which Sinclair Lewis (Babbitt, 1922) wrote about long ago, also plays a role. This worship privileges business over thought and other activities, and is behind the dismissive sneer "if you're so smart, how come you're not rich?" As a result, Americans are all too willing to hand over their government to business predators. Today, it is in Goldman Sachs we trust.

Another feature of business worship is a tendency to conflate profit with free markets. That means the distinction between fair competition (which is good) and fat profits (which are bad) is lost, thereby providing cover for predators.

Lastly, there is the legacy of the Cold War which contributed to economic dumbing-down and suppression of awareness of class and class conflict. This suppression was seen as necessary for blunting the dangerous appeal of Soviet communism, but a consequence was to create blindness to the predators in our midst.

All of this reveals a deep deficit in America's social and economic understanding (some deficits really do matter). And as long as this deficit remains, the predators will have a starting-gate advantage in the game of political persuasion.

Yet, how to close the deficit and insert another understanding is an enormous challenge. There are deep institutional obstructions in the academy, the media, and the Democratic Party. Moreover, raising these issues may create unsettling cognitive dissonance that pushes voters into denial and a closer embrace of the predators.

In effect, there is a paradox to be solved. Lasting progressive political victory requires transforming understanding, but the immediate political incentives are aligned to discourage engagement with such a project.

Note: The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too, by James K Galbraith, Free Press, 2008.

Thomas I Palley is the founder of the Economics for Democratic and Open Societies Project.
 

Classic fascism

Fascism is not a uniform doctrine. From the very beginning there were different flavors of it. In this sense attempt to distill key features of such regimes are difficult and non-rewarding task. Such attempts as Arendt's leave much to be desired. Even within a single country there can be several competing version of fascism. They can be even hostile to such an extent that the supporters of one of fascism movement strive to completely destroy the supporters of the other.

Since 30-ies of XX century, there were four "classic" flavours of fascism: Italian fascism, Nazism,  and Spanish Francoism(falangism) and (mostly Latin American) "induced fascism" régimes.  All "classic" versions rely on mass political movement of the "middle class" making a claim to political power -- to the detriment of the traditional elites and "working classes".  They were mildly hostile to monopolies and, sometimes, to financial oligarchy. For example, Nazi decried  "unearned income" -- rentier capitalism.  All those regimes were revolutionary in a sense that they  accepted violence as the legitimate political tool in the struggle to get to power. 

But even within them there are multiple and signigicant differences both in social base and proclaimed goals:

The political views of the "new right" coincided with the views of practitioners of neoliberalism in the era of Reaganomics and Thatcherism. Not by chance the Pinochet regime (a classic example of "induced, puppet fascism") is characterized as "Militant Thatcherism". Even the fundamental views publicly expressed by Thatcher and Pinochet, were often identical (e.g., he and the other refused to recognize the existence of society - which was, in fact, merely a repetition of the doctrine of Italian fascism). What parties and movements, connecting the idea of "new right"   has achieved in recent years greater success in elections in Western Europe: the national front of  Le Pen in France, the party of P. Fortuyn in the Netherlands, the freedom Party. Haider in Austria, etc. (revealing, incidentally, that the Freedom Party is included in the Liberal international!).

Other cases pre-war neofascism was monarchist far right regimes developed in countries of Eastern Europe.   Rapid inclusion of these parties and regimes in the orbit of Italian and German influences have masked their identity, on the one hand, and did not allow them to develop into independent phenomenon.

There can me multiple fascism movements in the same countri. In France before the war all three classic brand of fascism were well represented: French version of the Italian fascism ("francism", etc.), the French version of Nazism (French people's party, etc.), the French version of francoism ("capulary") and, finally, the original aristocratic elitist fascism "action française", close to the monarchist-fascism. Sometimes the supporters of the different flavors of fascism fight with each other. In Austria  supporters of Italian fascism came to power in February 1934, but in July, the Nazis organized a putsch and killed Chancellor E. Dollfuss, and ended the fight by smashing austrofascism and initiating the Anschluss. In Hungary, the supporters of Italian fascism - hungarista led by Admiral Horthy was overthrown in 1944 by the Hungarian Nazis movement  headed by Salashi. In Romania, the confrontation between supporters of Italian fascism and Nazism - "seleniumselenium", "jeleznovodask", Antonescu and Horia SIMA - has resulted in mutual mass terror .

After World war II the Western ruling elite has never repeated his pre-war mistakes and understood that fascism is a tricky bet in the fight against social revolution. So it was relegated as a tool for countries "About  which we do not care" They understood that such a movement as  "classical" fascism or other extremist movements of "middle class" easily get out of control.  All post-war fascist regimes relied on mass movements. Such movements were outlawed in most Western countries.  

 

Fascism vs. far right nationalism

As neofascism has a lot of common features with far right nationalism it is very difficult to say when one ends and another starts. Those terms can be used as synonyms, but I would suggest that neofascism is a specific flavor of far right nationalism.  To me the distinction  depends on which feature of the regime are emphasized.  Neofascism to me is just a more radical, more anti-democratic, more statist flavor of far right nationalism with stronger statist urge as well as militaristic bent including the idea of expanding the "living space" by promoting rampant militarism (which also serves as a tool to "unify" the nation and suppress dissent).

What is clear that there is a much larger political space for far right nationalist movements including neofascist movements in modern societies then one  would think after WWII. And the backlash against neoliberal globalization now mainly take the form of far right nationalism. 

We can note  many similarities:

  1. Like far right nationalism, neofascism denies equality of people. So in a way it oppose to Christian and other major religions. This is a clearly elitarian ideology. In a fundamental way internal fascist policies are just a transfer of policies and methods used Europeans in colonies to the parts of the population of European countries. In a sense fascism can be called internal colonialism, or internal colonization of the country.  The same is generally true about far right nationalism.
     
  2. Like far right nationalism neofascism  instills hatred and direct, open discrimination of some other identifiable social groups and/or nationalities (immigrants, Jews, Gipsy, Russians, Chinese, etc)  -- the key ideas fascism stems from the concept of "national socialism" or socialism for one "chosen" nationality at the expense of others (the idea very similar to American Exceptionalism, in which the USA is proclaim to be special, blessed nation, that has the right to extent its power and influence any way it likes on other states and nations). In fascist ideology one group of people is classified as Ubermensch  and everybody else as  Untermensch. This division of people into two distinct classes is a fundamental feature of both far right nationalism and neofascism. Various forms of far right nationalism and neofascism differ only in the criteria of this division. It can be separation by race, nationality, language, or even between "creative people" (capitalists) is everybody else as in Randism.
     
  3. The idea of inferiority (of other nationalities, countries, political systems, etc). Neoliberalism is classic example of this trend. It simply denies the right to exist of any other form of political rule and practice so called "export of democracy" (read export of neoliberalism, often by military means, much like fascist governments of the past.
     
  4. Both promote soma nationalist hysteria with a particular scapegoat,  for example anti-Russian hysteria which replaced anti-Jewish hysteria in the past.
     
  5. Both promote militarism and "national security state".

But there are some minor  differences.

Like communists, classic fascists  promote violence as a legitimate political tool, but this is less true about neofascist.  Classic fascism, Payne says, requires "a philosophical valuing of violence, of Sorelian violence. [Fascists believe] that violence is really good for you, that it's the sort of thing that makes you a vital, alive, dedicated person, that it creates commitment. Fascism makes violence not just a political strategy, but also a philosophical principle. For fascists "war is the health of the nation". That's mentality is unique to fascism. This feature is reduced and subdued in neofascism, but still is present.

Fascism also has some anti-clerical bent and typically promotes  a specific  secular, "political religion" in which the nation is considered a real, living, and yet sacred thing to be revered and protected, instead of traditional religion.  This goes well beyond typical far right nationalism views on religion. Far right nationalists more commonly promote an existing religion  (Vox). But those two trends can happily co-exists.

The idea of rejuvenation of the nation also is typical for both. But look more closely at the way Trump talks about rejuvenating America:

These statements are much closer to the "I want my soccer team to win" version of patriotism — and much more concerned with the qualities of Donald Trump as the leader, than America the nation.

Two classes of people and NSDAP Party program of 1920

Neoliberal MSM brainwash people running a campaign hypertrophied dehumanization of  Untermensch. Essentially this campaign is directed toward conditioning people to view "lower classes" as a category of cattle, much like in slavery. This tendency ot "blaming poor" is definitely a defining trend of modern day US neoliberalism.  And that's as close to fascism as one can get.

Socialism in national socialism exists only for Ubermensch. And for them (and for them only) it does contain almost all major socialist elements. This is undeniable if we analyze the  NSDAP Party program announced by Hitler on February 20, 1920. It is also important to  remember that some fascists leaders, such as Benito Mussolini, previously were prominent figures in the social-democratic  movement (Wikipedia)

The National Socialist Programme (aka the 25-point Programme and the 25-point Plan) was the party program of the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Originally the name of the party was the German Workers' Party (DAP) but on the same day of the announced party program it was renamed the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP, Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei), headed by Adolf Hitler. Hitler announced the party's program on 24 February 1920 in front of around 2000 people in the Munich Festsaal of the Hofbräuhaus. The National Socialist Program originated at a DAP congress in Vienna, then was taken to Munich, by the civil engineer and theoretician Rudolf Jung, who, having explicitly supported Hitler, had been expelled from Czechoslovakia, because of his political agitation.[1]

... ... ...

  1. We demand the unification of all Germans in the Greater Germany on the basis of the people's right to self-determination.
  2. We demand equality of rights for the German people in respect to the other nations; abrogation of the peace treaties of Versailles and St. Germain.
  3. We demand land and territory (colonies) for the sustenance of our people, and colonization for our surplus population.
  4. Only a member of the race can be a citizen. A member of the race can only be one who is of German blood, without consideration of creed. Consequently no Jew can be a member of the race.
  5. Whoever has no citizenship is to be able to live in Germany only as a guest, and must be under the authority of legislation for foreigners.
  6. The right to determine matters concerning administration and law belongs only to the citizen. Therefore we demand that every public office, of any sort whatsoever, whether in the Reich, the county or municipality, be filled only by citizens. We combat the corrupting parliamentary economy, office-holding only according to party inclinations without consideration of character or abilities.
  7. We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens. If it is impossible to sustain the total population of the State, then the members of foreign nations (non-citizens) are to be expelled from the Reich.
  8. Any further immigration of non-citizens is to be prevented. We demand that all non-Germans, who have immigrated to Germany since 2 August 1914, be forced immediately to leave the Reich.
  9. All citizens must have equal rights and obligations.
  10. The first obligation of every citizen must be to work both spiritually and physically. The activity of individuals is not to counteract the interests of the universality, but must have its result within the framework of the whole for the benefit of all. Consequently we demand:
  11. Abolition of unearned (work and labour) incomes. Breaking of debt (interest)-slavery.
  12. In consideration of the monstrous sacrifice in property and blood that each war demands of the people, personal enrichment through a war must be designated as a crime against the people. Therefore we demand the total confiscation of all war profits.
  13. We demand the nationalisation of all (previous) associated industries (trusts).
  14. We demand a division of profits of all heavy industries.
  15. We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare.
  16. We demand the creation of a healthy middle class and its conservation, immediate communalization of the great warehouses and their being leased at low cost to small firms, the utmost consideration of all small firms in contracts with the State, county or municipality.
  17. We demand a land reform suitable to our needs, provision of a law for the free expropriation of land for the purposes of public utility, abolition of taxes on land and prevention of all speculation in land.
  18. We demand struggle without consideration against those whose activity is injurious to the general interest. Common national criminals, usurers, profiteers and so forth are to be punished with death, without consideration of confession or race.
  19. We demand substitution of a German common law in place of the Roman Law serving a materialistic world-order.
  20. The state is to be responsible for a fundamental reconstruction of our whole national education program, to enable every capable and industrious German to obtain higher education and subsequently introduction into leading positions. The plans of instruction of all educational institutions are to conform with the experiences of practical life. The comprehension of the concept of the State must be striven for by the school [Staatsbürgerkunde] as early as the beginning of understanding. We demand the education at the expense of the State of outstanding intellectually gifted children of poor parents without consideration of position or profession.
  21. The State is to care for the elevating national health by protecting the mother and child, by outlawing child-labor, by the encouragement of physical fitness, by means of the legal establishment of a gymnastic and sport obligation, by the utmost support of all organizations concerned with the physical instruction of the young.
  22. We demand abolition of the mercenary troops and formation of a national army.
  23. We demand legal opposition to known lies and their promulgation through the press. In order to enable the provision of a German press, we demand, that: a. All writers and employees of the newspapers appearing in the German language be members of the race; b. Non-German newspapers be required to have the express permission of the State to be published. They may not be printed in the German language; c. Non-Germans are forbidden by law any financial interest in German publications, or any influence on them, and as punishment for violations the closing of such a publication as well as the immediate expulsion from the Reich of the non-German concerned. Publications which are counter to the general good are to be forbidden. We demand legal prosecution of artistic and literary forms which exert a destructive influence on our national life, and the closure of organizations opposing the above made demands.
  24. We demand freedom of religion for all religious denominations within the state so long as they do not endanger its existence or oppose the moral senses of the Germanic race. The Party as such advocates the standpoint of a positive Christianity without binding itself confessionally to any one denomination. It combats the Jewish-materialistic spirit within and around us, and is convinced that a lasting recovery of our nation can only succeed from within on the framework: The good of the state before the good of the individual.[9]
  25. For the execution of all of this we demand the formation of a strong central power in the Reich. Unlimited authority of the central parliament over the whole Reich and its organizations in general. The forming of state and profession chambers for the execution of the laws made by the Reich within the various states of the confederation. The leaders of the Party promise, if necessary by sacrificing their own lives, to support by the execution of the points set forth above without consideration.

Neoliberalism demonstrate the resurgence of classic fascism tendencies with the sharp division between upper class (Ubermensch) and lower class, "inferior people"  (Untermensch)  and the associated cult of violence. Although  in new slightly more moderate form, but with the same set of core ideas and principles.

In neofascism unrestricted violence, terror against "inferior people" is subdued. As the criteria nationality is often (but not completely) replaced with culture and especially the national language (language nationalism) and is directed almost exclusively to foreigners, immigrants and national minorities who continue to use "wrong" language because it is their mother tongue (for example, Russians in case of Far Right Forces in Ukraine).

In neoliberalism nationality is replaced by "creative abilities", which are understood as the ability of capital accumulation and self-enrichment. In cultural variant of neofascism the language and culture replace the race as a defining point of "belonging", and the key distinction between "Arian race" and Untermensch. Replacement of nationality with the cultural identity makes it closer to ultra-right republicanism as exists in the USA. It is also clearly visible in Ukranian far right movement:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vUDhy4BA-Xs

But all-in-all neofascism remains just a mutation of classic fascist ideology (yuricareport.com):

Call it Pseudo Fascism. Or, if you like, Fascism Lite. Happy-Face Fascism. Postmodern Fascism. But there is little doubt anymore why the shape of the "conservative movement” in the 21st century is so familiar and disturbing: Its architecture, its entire structure, has morphed into a not-so-faint hologram of 20th-century fascism.

...Unlike the genuine article, it presents itself under a normative, rather than a revolutionary, guise; and rather than openly exulting in violence, it pays lip service to law and order. Moreover, even in the areas where it resembles real fascism, the similarities are often more familial than exact. It is, in essence, less virulent and less violent, and thus more likely to gain broad acceptance within a longtime stable democratic system like that of the United States.

It is important to understand that neofascism inherited the major traits of fascism connected with creating a scapegoat nationality or anti-immigration sentiments, often induced by actual misbehavior of immigrants (such a rapes, beating of people by criminal gangs, etc) or large influx of immigrant from other nation in economic crisis (Immigrants in Europe, Russia, to lesser extent in other "countries of immigrants" such as USA, Australia, Canada, etc). At certain stages it can actually "return to the roots" and adopt violence as the key form of dealing with the opponents (see EuroMaidan )

The key element of any flavor of fascist ideology is rejection of liberalism and opposition to the parliamentary system and liberal democracy (and implicitly to the rule of law). It is the cult of "strong hand" the makes it similar to authoritarism. While officially neofascists parties no longer endorses violence as a chief means to silence the opposition, they often resort to it as a temporary mean to achieve their goals, and, especially, to come to power.

Allegations that a group is neofascist are typically hotly contested, especially if the term is used as a political epithet.

Revolt of the elite against "commoners"

neofascism can be viewed as one of the forms of the "revolt of the elite", a mutation of corporatism that invariably emerges during acute economic crises and related loss of profitability of many businesses. While cannon fodder of neofascism are small business owners, the puppeteers always are large business owners and, especially, financial oligarchy and oligarchy connected to  military-industrial complex. For the latter neofascism is an ideal regime.

That's why right now proto-fascist and neofascist groups and sentiments are on the rise in many countries including, but not limited USA, France, Germany, Holland, Russia, Poland, Greece, Ukraine, Hungary, Finland, Norway. In many cases neofascist parties such as Ukrainian Svoboda get enough votes to be represented in national parliaments (algemeiner.com/2013/05/24):

In Ukraine, the noisiest anti-Semitic group is the Svoboda ( "Freedom”) party. Established in 1991 as the "Social-National Party of Ukraine” under the SS-era symbol of the Wolfsangel. In 2004, with new leader Oleh Tyahnybok, the party renamed itself and adopted innocuous symbols.

That, however, didn’t change the Nazi characteristic of the party. Tyahnybok himself has stated on several occasions that the "Moscow-Jewish mafia” is running Ukraine. Other prominent party members have often used the derogatory, anti Jewish slur ”zhid”, including against Ukrainian-born American actress Mila Kunis, suggesting she was not a "real” Ukrainian because of her Jewish heritage.

Svoboda supporters include among their heroes leaders of pro-Nazi World War II organizations known for their atrocities against Jews and Poles, such as the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), and the 14th Waffen-SS Galicia Division. (To Svoboda’s vocal displeasure, Poland’s parliament recently introduced a resolution condemning the OUN and the UPA for wartime massacres of Polish civilians.)

Here is another telling video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Z24XaNIbmp0

Skinheads is also a prominent phenomenon which is typical for many European countries. They are definitely part of neofascism movemeent. This rage is directed toward immigrants. Torch processions borrowed from classic fascism now became common in many countries (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20929755)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=MEKJDle0nZ0

7 January 2013 Last updated at 01:38 ET Help

A sudden rise in popularity of Ukraine's ultra-nationalist party, Svoboda, has caused concern both inside and outside the country.

Svoboda, which means "freedom" in Ukrainian, is allied with European far-right parties. But many observers warn that its views are extremist.

David Stern reports from Kiev.

Also popular are typical for classic fascism physical violence such as street fights with opponents. A new element is that now it can happen during football matches like recently in Poland:

Removed by Youtube

While neofascism is anti-democratic, anti-liberal, and corporatist, unlike classic fascism which openly declared itself as such, they deployed as thick smoke screen of propaganda to present itself in completely different light. The destruction of meaning by creating "empty phrases" combining opposite ideas has, as we have seen, become a prominent strategy deployed by the conservative movement.]

Another key element of neofascism is "vast, systemic, blanket collection of the personal data of innocent people." It often covered with a fig leaf of "fight against terrorism". DW.DE 09.01.2014

Like classic fascism neofascism remains rabidly anti-socialist. Actually socialists and communists, let's not forget, were among the first people imprisoned and "liquidated" by the Nazi regime.

Early on during the first term of the Bush presidency many progressives characterized Bush's statements and actions as "neofascist". It is also true that Bush II has some neofascist baggage, as Bush family did has some ties with fascist regimes in the past and the U.S. government found that Bush's grandfather had illegally aided the Nazis during the 30's. It's true that regime of Bush II has some neofascist leanings. It definitely introduced into public discourse and tried to implement in practice several elements of neofascist ideology. Some of them with some interesting innovations. For example, unlike classic fascism instead of mass mobilization Bush government preferred political passivity as prescribed by Inverted Totalitarism doctrine ("go shopping" was his famous recommendation after 9/11).

But full development of neofascist ideas and forming a popular party is impossible without acute economic distress

www.youtube.com/embed/Z24XaNIbmp0

or political crisis (like the one in Ukraine) and a real economic crisis arrived only at the end of Bush Presidency (2008). So paradoxically the major implementer of Bush neofascist ideas and first of all the idea of total surveillance was the regime of Barack Obama. With a tea-party being a close proxy of radical neofascist parties in Eastern Europe. There is distinct racial element in it. Nobody will try to disprove the claim that it has mainly white middle class composition. And like European radical parties of neofascist orientation it endorses violence to achieve its goals. See Tea Party and right wing rage

But even if we assume that 9/11 was a false flag operation that is reminiscent of Reichstag Fire generally the USA neofascist elements were innovatively mixed with the ideas from the theoretical model called Inverted Totalitarism. Direct violence toward opponents never materialized. Just the pre-existing process of the conversion of the USA into National Security State dramatically increased. Now we know more about the new role assigned to NSA during this period.

American exeptionalism ideas promoted by Bush administration clearly resonate with the proto-fascist "... uber alles" ideas. The unique feature here is that they were integrated into the framework of globalist neoliberal regime. So it's more like "top 1% uber alles" then "The USA uber alles" ;-).

The common features that constitute "generic fascism"

It should be stressed that some of ideas inherent in neofascist doctrine are integral part of European culture. As Paxton describes them (Robert O. Paxton, "The Five Stages of Fascism," The Journal of Modern History 70 (March 1998): pp. 3-5.) in the following way:

...Feelings propel fascism more than thought does. We might call them mobilizing passions, since they function in fascist movements to recruit followers and in fascist regimes to "weld" the fascist "tribe" to its leader. The following mobilizing passions are present in fascisms, though they may sometimes be articulated only implicitly:
  1. The primacy of the group, toward which one has duties superior to every right, whether universal or individual.
  2. The belief that one's group is a victim, a sentiment which justifies any action against the group's enemies, internal as well as external.
  3. Dread of the group's decadence under the corrosive effect of individualistic and cosmopolitan [neo]liberalism.
  4. Closer integration of the community within a brotherhood (fascio) whose unity and purity are forged by common conviction, if possible, or by exclusionary violence if necessary.
  5. An enhanced sense of identity and belonging, in which the grandeur of the group reinforces individual self-esteem.
  6. Authority of natural leaders (always male) throughout society, culminating in a national chieftain who alone is capable of incarnating the group's destiny.
  7. The beauty of violence and of will, when they are devoted to the group's success in a Darwinian struggle.

Paxton's list makes easier to identify typical "passions" which are at play in proto-fascist environment, particularly during the debate over the Iraq war and the attacks on dissenters that occurred during it (Rush, Newspeak and Fascism An exegesis IV Tracking Fascism):

1. [Group primacy]: See, again, the Bush Doctrine. An extension of this sentiment is at play among those jingoes who argue that Americans may need to sacrifice some of their civil rights -- say, free speech -- during wartime.
2. [Victim mentality]: This meme is clearly present in all the appeals to the victims of Sept. 11 as justifications for the war. It is present at nearly all levels of the debate: from the White House, from the media, even from the jingoist entertainment industry (see, e.g., the lyric of Darryl Worley's extraordinarily popular country-western hit, "Have You Forgotten?": "Some say this country's just out looking for a fight / Well after 9/11 man I'd have to say that's right.").
3. [Dread of liberal decadence]: This meme has been stock in trade of the talk-radio crowd since at least 1994 -- at one time it focused primarily on the person of Bill Clinton -- and has reached ferocious levels during the runup to the war and after it, during which antiwar leftists have regularly and remorselessly been accused of treason.
4. [Group integration] and 5. [Group identity as personal validation] are, of course, among the primary purposes of the campaign to demonize liberals -- to simultaneously build a cohesive brotherhood of like-minded "conservatives" who might not agree on the details but are united in their loathing of all things liberal. It plays out in such localized manifestations as the KVI Radio 570th On-Air Cavalry, which has made a habit of deliberately invading antiwar protests with the express purpose of disrupting them and breaking them up. Sometimes, as they did recently in Bellingham, this is done with caravans of big trucks blaring their horns; and they are also accompanied by threatening rhetoric and acts of physical intimidation. They haven't yet bonded in violence -- someone did phone in a threat to sniper-shoot protesters -- but they are rapidly headed in that direction.
6. [Authority of leaders]: This needs hardly any further explanation, except to note that George W. Bush is actually surprisingly uncharismatic for someone who inspires as much rabid loyalty as he does. But then, that is part of the purpose of Bush's PR campaign stressing that he receives "divine guidance" -- it assures in his supporters' mind the notion that he is carrying out God's destiny for the nation, and for the conservative movement in particular.
7. [An aesthetic of violence]: One again needs only turn to the voluminous jingoes of Fox News or the jubilant warbloggers to find abundant examples of celebrations of the virtues -- many of them evidently aesthetic -- of the evidently just-completed war.

In 2002, Laurence W. Britt's Fascism Anyone? analyzed seven fascist regimes in order to find the common features that constitute "generic fascism". He selected the following regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco's Spain, Salazar's Portugal, Papadopoulos's Greece, Pinochet's Chile, and Suharto's Indonesia. He found 14 common characteristics (reprinted below, with 6 additions by Umberto Eco) and concluded:

"Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not."

We think "maybe not." It's just a matter of degree. There is an ongoing transformation of the US in this particular direction.

List of Generic Features of a neofascist Political Regime

It is difficult to tell when far right nationalistic group get brown color. Litmus text is the creation of paramilitary group (death squads, stormtroopers, etc) for repression of opponents and adoption of terror as a legitimate methods of struggle for power. Those paramilitary group exists outside law, the key interpreter of which became the party not the counts. Another telling sign is the creation of concentration camps.

  1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism is carefully stroked up. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of foreigners that often borders on xenophobia. In the USA the role of nationalism serves American exeptionalism.
  2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. While the regime can and often pay lip services to human rights, this is just a smokescreen. In reality such regimes views human rights of opponents as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Terror against opponents considered to be legitimate. At the same time, they can promote human rights as false flag operation at home and at foreign policy. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses of paramilitary squads by marginalizing, even demonizing groups or nationalities being targeted. When abuse was egregious as was the case in Guantanamo Bay detention camp and Abu Ghraib, the tactic is to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.
  3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people's attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice -- relentless propaganda and disinformation --were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite 'spontaneous' acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, Russians Chinese, other ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and "terrorists." Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly. Paradoxically the attempt to enforce absolute equality to people of non traditional sexual orientation can serve the same purpose.
  4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. But the immanent feature of this type of regimes is that a disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism/exeptionalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite. See New American Militarism. The second part of this trend is cancer-style growth of intelligence agencies. Which at some point became uncontrolled government of the country and are engages in political actions. Role of CIA in JFK assassination is still covered but many researcher consider CIA the major player in the plot to kill JFK.
  5. A controlled mass media. Under most of neofascist regimes, the mass media is under strict direct or indirect control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Monopolization of MSM works that same way as total government control representing slightly more sophisticated and more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, buyout of journalists and news anchors, various direct or indirect forms of bribes, and implied threats. Sometimes physical violence is used too. The owners of the mass media are an integral part of the elite and as such do its bidding. The net result was usually complete success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes excesses.
  6. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus under direct control of the ruling elite is the most effective tool for crushing social protest, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting 'national security'. Questioning its activities is portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.
  7. Religion and ruling elite tied together. Most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as defenders of religion . The fact that the ruling elite's behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda is used to keep up the illusion that the ruling elites are defenders of the faith.

    A perception is manufactured that opposition to the power elite is tantamount to an attack on religion.

  8. Power of corporations, oligarchy is protected, while power of labor suppressed.. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of 'have-not' citizens. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.
  9. Suppression of "non-conformist" intellectuals. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security. In modern day direct physical suppression or elimination of opponents is no longer necessary. Indirect ways such as silencing them are no less effective. Universities are tightly, but indirectly, controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed and deprived of funding. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent are silenced. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.
  10. Obsession with crime and punishment. Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations, directed at lower classes. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. Difference between regular and political crimes sometimes is fuzzy due to trumped-up criminal charges which sometimes are used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred of criminals is promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power and repression of political opponents. Police are militarized and provided with powerful weapons and military level communication tools.
  11. Rampant cronyism and corruption. On propaganda front such regimes often pretend to be anti-oligarchic and populists. But in reality rampant cronyism rules. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.
  12. Fraudulent elections. Under such regimes elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls are usually bogus. With public opinion polls servicing as a powerful mean to ensure results of election not as a simple sampling tool. When actual elections held, candidates are preselected and both represents the same "party in power" just under slightly different sauce (Bush vs Kerry), This way the whole idea of elections is perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Additional methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Here are six more characteristics found in Umberto Eco's "Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt," from New York Review of Books, 22 June 1995, pp.12-15.

  1. Neofascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say. In a democracy, the citizens have individual rights, but the citizens in their entirety have a political impact only from a quantitative point of view -- one follows the decisions of the majority. For neofascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is only a theatrical fiction. There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People. Because of its qualitative populism, neofascism must be against "rotten" parliamentary governments. Wherever a politician casts doubt on the legitimacy of a parliament because it no longer represents the Voice of the People, we can smell neofascism.

  2. Neofascism speaks Newspeak. Newspeak was invented by Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, as the official language of what he called Ingsoc, English Socialism. But elements of neofascism are common to different forms of dictatorship. All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they take the apparently innocent form of a popular talk show. [When fascism is employed in a society with democratic tradions, one strand of Newspeak is to use the traditional words, like "freedom," but to give them new meaning. This strategy is also employed when new programs are initiated. --Politex]

  3. Disagreement is treason. [As opposed to neofascism,] the critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For neofascism, disagreement is treason. neofascism grows up and seeks consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus neofascism is racist by definition.

  4. Skilled manipulation of social frustration. neofascism derives its power from individual social frustration. That is why one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups. In our time, when the old "proletarians" are becoming petty bourgeois (and the lumpen are largely excluded from the political scene), the fascism of tomorrow will find its audience in this new majority.

  5. Life is permanent warfare. For neofascism life is lived for struggle. Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare. This, however, brings about an Armageddon complex. Since enemies have to be defeated, there must be a final battle, after which the movement will have control of the world. But such "final solutions" implies a further era of peace, a Golden Age, which contradicts the principle of permanent war. No fascist leader has ever succeeded in solving this predicament.

  6. Cult of personality. [The neofascist leader presents himself as a hero, a strong man. As such, his image is ubiquitous in the media, and is often photographed in costume in conjunction with images or people that represent the fascist characteristics noted above. --Politex] Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the neofascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since for such people sex is a difficult game to play, the neofascist hero tends to play with weapons -- doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.

Rise of neofascism in Eastern and Western Europe

Both Eastern and Western Europe are experiencing a new and important cultural and political development: the appearance of a new breed, new generation, of far right, extremist movements. These are some indications of the emergence of a new, emerging political forces in Europe which emerged as a reaction to neoliberalism with its dominance of globalized banking. That lead to paradoxical situation when many of Le Pen's votes come from former Red strongholds. In other word like in 20th and 30th the working class is, for very understandable reasons, is turning to nationalism as an antidote to casino capitalism enforced by the USA. So the USA neoliberal empire is the main precondition for resurgence As Slavoj Žižek noted:

The Ukrainian nationalist right is one instance of what is going on today from the Balkans to Scandinavia, from the US to Israel, from central Africa to India: ethnic and religious passions are exploding, and Enlightenment values receding.

These passions have always been there, lurking; what’s new is the outright shamelessness of their display.

... ... ...

One of the signs of this regression is a request often heard on the new European right for a more "balanced" view of the two "extremisms", the right and the left. We are repeatedly told that one should treat the extreme left (communism) the same way that Europe after the second world war treated the extreme right (the defeated fascists)

But in reality there is no balance here: the equation of fascism and communism secretly privileges fascism. Thus the right are heard to argue that fascism copied communism: before becoming a fascist, Mussolini was a socialist; Hitler, too, was a National Socialist; concentration camps and genocidal violence were features of the Soviet Union a decade before Nazis resorted to them; the annihilation of the Jews has a clear precedent in the annihilation of the class enemy, etc.

The point of these arguments is to assert that a moderate fascism was a justified response to the communist threat (a point made long ago by Ernst Nolte in his defence of Heidegger’s involvement with Nazism). In Slovenia, the right is advocating the rehabilitation of the anti-communist Home Guard which fought the partisans during the second world war: they made the difficult choice to collaborate with the Nazis in order to thwart the much greater evil of communism.

Among other condition that favor resurgence of such groups we can name such features of neoliberal regimes, what now dominate the continent as demographic pressures from immigrant labor, social dislocation due to dismantling of social security state, and economic pressures inherent in "dog eat dog" capitalism and outsourcing to lower wage countries advocated by neoliberalism. In many ways neoliberalism represents a perfect environment for nurturing neofascist movements.

Those pressures are very similar to pressures which used to exist in 20th and 30th of the last century. As before they stimulate the formation of a new generation of far right movements whose motives and characteristics while somewhat differ from the right wing groups of the early twentieth century what came to power in Italy, Germany and Spain are still driven by the same resentment of middle class and "Lumpenbourgeoisie". They use the same ideas of dominance of particular ethnic group. scapegoat in form of another ethnic group, glorification of state, using violence against opponents, limitations on civil rights in the name of giving the state more power to protect the populace from "destructive elements" within the society and external aggressors. Fall of "fist generation" fascist regimes did not destroy the movement which acquired strong roots in neoliberal societies across the globe.

They are different from classic far right nationalist of the past that the criteria of belonging is no longer ethnicity per se (although some elements, for example anti-Semitism and Russophobia, of this remained) but "cultural affiliation" and first of all the language. In other words they are not fascists, they are neofascists. But in Ukraine they are not only alive, they are particularly well. Ukraine is the first Europian state where element of neofascist Party were included in the government after putsch of February 22.

All that means that the huge rise of Ukrainian far right forces is not a unique and isolated phenomenon. Far right organizations that first crystallized around football ultras and skinheads are European-wide phenomenon. See for example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gG-2HdFdvkY

This process also includes Russia although level of suppression of nationalism and especially neofascism in Russia is probably one of the highest among European countries.

And it goes without saying that all major EU counties experience dramatic rise of far right forces too. That includes Germany, France, Sweden as well as usual suspects Hungary, Poland and Baltic states (Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia). The whole story of the EU since the Maastricht Treaty and the establishment of the Euro was about neoliberal conversion similar to the USA conversion. And this conversion destroyed standards of living of lower middle class, especially small merchants, across southern Europe. Now the Southern Europe have had enough and are going to send nationalists to the European Parliament (The Guardian, May 14, 2014):

In France, Denmark and Finland, rightwing nationalist and racist parties are set to win more than 20% of the vote – with Geert Wilders' Muslim-baiting Freedom party not far behind in the Netherlands. So is the virulently anti-Roma and anti-Semitic Jobbik in Hungary, while the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party in Greece is on the way to winning its first Euro seats.In France, Denmark and Finland, rightwing nationalist and racist parties are set to win more than 20% of the vote – with Geert Wilders' Muslim-baiting Freedom party not far behind in the Netherlands. So is the virulently anti-Roma and antisemitic Jobbik in Hungary, while the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party in Greece is on the way to winning its first Euro seats.

This new wave of nationalism is different then the previous wave which arose in the beginning of XX century and which led to establishment of "classic" fascist regimes. It can be called "cultural nationalism" where not ethnicity, but cultural identity was put in the center of the nationalistic doctrine.

For "cultural nationalism" a common identity is based more on acceptance for the language and the culture than on the racial solidarity (although it dies not exclude xenophobia). Due to the power of the USA and general alliance with the West, fewer of this movements and parties are openly anti-Semitic and if they are anti-Semitic then the stress is on refusal of Jews to accept the national culture, the charge similar to the change of "country less cosmopolitans" trials in the USSR in late 40th of the last century.

Ukrainian fascists love the Russia-hammering NATO, but detest the Russia-accommodating and supra-nationalistic EU.

And they aren’t alone. Fascism — and anti-EU sentiment — pervade parts of Europe that never felt Stalin’s wrath. In the last elections for the European Parliament, "eurosceptics” and xenophobic ultra-nationalists scored significant gains, led by Marine Le Pen, whose National Front took 25% of the French seats.

A lot of it has to do with the equivocal track record of globalized neo-liberal capitalism in the last decade. We’re all Pikettyists now, and it seems that among the most important outcomes of neo-liberalism are income inequality and oligarchs.

It is anathema to liberal democrats, but it should be acknowledged that fascism is catching on, largely as a result of a growing perception that neo-liberalism and globalization are failing to deliver the economic and social goods to a lot of people.

Democracy is seen as the plaything of oligarchs who manipulate the current system to secure and expand their wealth and power; liberal constitutions with their guarantees of minority rights appear to be recipes for national impotence. Transnational free markets in capital and goods breed local austerity, unemployment, and poverty. Democratic governments seem to follow the free market playbook, get into problems they can’t handle, and surrender their sovereignty to committees of Euro-financiers.

Fascism, with its exaltation of the particular, the emotional, and the undemocratic provides an impregnable ideological and political bulwark against these outside forces.

Fascism has become an important element in the politics of resistance: a force that obstructs imposition of the norms of globalization, and an ideology that justifies the protection of local local interests against the demands of liberal democracy, transnational capital, and property and minority rights.

Maybe it’s neo-liberalism, not fascism, that is facing a crisis of legitimacy and acceptance.

So the idea that fascism can be treated as a delusional artifact of the 20th century and the challenge of fascism to the neo-liberal order can be ignored is, itself, wishful thinking.

... ... ...

For some, resentment will, inevitably, congeal around nationalism and the perception that fascist resistance, defiantly militant, uncompromising, and irrational, racial and undemocratic, exclusionary and brutal, is the best instrument to achieve local identity and agency—power– in an ever bigger, more dangerous, and less responsive continental order.

New nationalist movements and far right groups widely use Internet and have well established Web presence including such social sited as Facebook and Google++. They also establish cross-border links with similar parties. For example Ukrainian far-right group have links not only with Germany far right (which is natural for them), but paradoxically also with Polish far-right with which they theoretically should be bitter enemies and sometimes even with Russian neo-liberals (several of them visited EuroMaidan in "support missions") and far-right groups (despite the fact that Russian culture and by extension people are official cultural enemy of Ukrainian nationalism)

Strong support by the government and big business

The story of 20th and 30th repeats again. Far right groups are nurtured by both government and part of the big business as the most adequate response to the challenging and poorly controlled political situation at home.  That happened, for example, in Ukraine under Yanukovich who essentially nurtured his own demise. As Helena Smith reported about Greece (The Observer, [Jun 09, 2014):

It has been a bad week for democracy in Athens. All around this great Greek city, the politics of hate now lurk. On Friday I got a taste of it in the tiny Italian-style cafe I frequent off Syntagma Square.

It arrived in the form of two middle-aged men, both supporters of the neofascist Golden Dawn – and, by their own account, the holders of university degrees, well-travelled and well-informed. Over espressos, they began to engage in an animated discussion about all that is wrong with Greece.

The first, a self-described businessman decked out in designer suit, brogues and silk tie, blamed the country's economic collapse on malfeasance, corruption and uncontrolled immigration. "The only way to teach our filthy politicians is to bring in Golden Dawn," he trilled, his eyes locked in a fierce glare. "These gentlemen are patriots, proud Greek nationalists, and they know how to deal with the scum, the foreigners who never pay taxes, who steal our jobs, who have taken over our streets."

What makes Ukrainian experience more interesting is the Ukrainian far right forces are classic case of forces brought to the front stage and openly supported by the neoliberal government. They were covertly supported by all Ukrainian governments, but, especially, by pro-US "democratic" Yushchenko regime, since 1991 as a way to create "Ukrainian national identity". This is when they got open state support and Yushchenko even dared to bestow the title of hero of Ukraine to the leader of Ukrainian nationalists in WWII Stepan Bandera, who is guilty of serious crimes such an ethnic cleansing against Polish citizens and Jews.

Viktor Yushchenko, the president produced by the last American-supported Ukrainian uprising, the "Orange Revolution,” put the full weight of the ideological apparatus of the Ukrainian state into reinventing the history of Ukrainian complicity with Nazism into a "national liberation” mythology.

But paradoxically it was not Yushchenko, but Yanukovich regime and his financial and logistical support which essentially launch Svoboda into mainstream. As CounterPunch noted (The Durability of Ukrainian Fascism):

Ukrainian nationalists turned largely toward fascism, specifically toward a concept of "integral nationalism” that, in the absence of an acceptable national government, manifested itself in a national will residing in the spirit of its adherents, not expressed by the state or restrained by its laws, but embodied by a charismatic leader and exercised through his organization, whose legitimacy supersedes that of the state and whose commitment to violence makes it a law unto itself.

That leader, at least for many Ukrainians of the fascist persuasion, was Stepan Bandera. The organization, his OUN-B faction.

This state of affairs persists in today’s successor to the OUN-B, Pravy Sektor, with its fascist trappings, leader cult, and paramilitary arm. The "mainstreaming” of the second major fascist grouping, Svoboda, looks more like a strategic repackaging in order to strive for greater electoral success by hiding its fascist antecedents.

So, unfortunately for apologists for the current Kyiv regime, the correct description of these two groups is not "nationalist” or "ultranationalist”; it is "fascist”.

Fatally, the Ukrainian government has turned to fascist nationalism and heroes in order to forge a post-Soviet, essentially Ukrainian, identity for the post-1991 state

Narcissism of small differences

Paradoxically, part of Ukrainian far right groups, at least superficially, are pro-EU. It is less paradoxical then it sounds is we assume that the cultural affinity is the key to the new nationalism. Ukrainian nationalists cultural identity is based on strong, fanatic rejection of all things Russian demonstrating a perfect example of Narcissism of small differences -- the tendency to exaggerate the dissimilarities of those who resemble us in an effort to buttress our own self-regard...

An excellent discussion of why this is the case and why they are nurtured by the US government was provided in the article Charge of the Right Brigade: Ukraine and the Dynamics of Capitalist Insurrection from The Polemicist blog (March 19, 2014). I recommend to read this excellent analysis in full, but here is a (large) relevant quote:

To pretend that the ex-post-facto parliamentary maneuvers that ratified the result of this insurrection actually confer some kind of retroactive constitutional legitimacy on it is ludicrous. As Nicolai Petro points out, these actions were taken by "a Parliament that rules without any representation from the majority party – since most of the deputies of the east and the south of the country are afraid to set foot in Parliament… [and] all across the country, headquarters of parties are being sacked by their opponents,” by a parliament that outlawed the only effective remaining opposition party (the Communists) and that "consolidate[ed] the powers of the speaker of the Parliament and the acting president in a single individual, giving him greater powers than allowed under any Ukrainian constitution,” in a context where "Vigilante militias routinely attack and disperse public gatherings they disapprove of.”25 Please, let’s recognize these parliamentary acts as what they are – the ratification of an insurrection, in defiance of the extant constitutional order. Call them the first steps in a new, post-insurrection constitutional order if you want, but recognize the radical break they represent.

And why not call this what it is? Isn’t that what revolutionary change is all about – a radical break with the old order? To reprise what I said in a previous post on Egypt: An electoral process can be a thin facade of democracy and, effectively, a tool of disempowerment, justifying militant extra-electoral politics, or even insurrection. A serious revolutionary conjuncture, a real break into a new social order, usually involves both. It’s an unapologetic, forceful, seizure of power that seeks to be definitive and irreversible. (Of course, not every insurrection is a revolution, or even a step forward, but let’s leave that aside for the moment.)

As someone who accepts the revolutionary socialist argument, I do not object to extra-legal, extra-parliamentary, insurrectionary politics per se. And guess what? All the self-proclaimed liberal, conservative, moderate, non-violent, constitutional, parliamentary democratic thinkers, politicians and commentators who are proudly and loudly supporting what happened in Ukraine also do not object to extra-legal, extra-parliamentary, insurrectionary politics per se – they just don’t want to admit it. Like me, they will support an insurrection, depending on what it’s about. Unlike me, they will pretend it wasn’t really an insurrection at all, just another, maybe somewhat "messy,” but fundamentally non-violent, constitutionally-authorized transition within the rules of bourgeois parliamentary democracy. And that’s because, as the man said: We wouldn’t permit that in any Western capital, no matter how righteous the cause.

It’s quite amusing, until it gets sickening, to watch American leaders—who cling to the notion that a thin, corrupt, disempowering electoral process legitimizes them — embrace the forceful overthrow of a democratically-elected leader in a functioning parliamentary democracy while insisting they are doing no such thing.

Let’s recognize that virtually nobody really supports or opposes what happened in Ukraine, or anywhere else, because it was an insurrection, but because of what kind of insurrection it was – what it’s explicit and implicit socio-political objective was, what different kind of society and polity it was moving toward creating. And let’s recognize that the US would denounce, and help to crush, any insurrection, no matter how popular or righteous the cause, in which leftist forces played anything close to the prominent fighting role that right-wing, neofascist forced played in this one. If revolutionary anarcho-syndicalists had been the vanguard of the Maidan, Yanukovych would have been America’s "democratic” hero.

As for "democracy” (along with "nonviolent,” one of the most dishonestly abused words in the American political vocabulary), it certainly does not just mean having an election. It means power to the people. Neither Ukrainian oligarchs, nor the EU-IMF neo-liberal "technocrats,” nor the American government, nor NATO, want that. They have too much to lose.

It was a right-wing, imperialist insurrection, powered by fascist groups and permeated with fascist ideology.

The overthrow of Yanukovych was an insurrection accomplished by a political movement that was driven by popular socio-economic discontent and thoroughly imbued by "ultranationalist”—i.e., neofascist—ideology.

It was decidedly not a revolution, in the strong sense of the word. A revolutionary insurrection marks the beginning of a change in the social order. This movement did not, will not, and, given its foundations, could not, establish a popular government that will create anything like more widespread prosperity and deeper democracy, let alone a new social order.

It was a regime change, fuelled by popular discontent, powered by neofascist militants, and surreptitiously managed by American intelligence diplomats, with Ukrainian oligarchs maneuvering for ultimate control behind the scenes—factions that have different, sometimes internally contradictory, agendas. It will create a government that will be controlled by and benefit some Ukrainian oligarchs at the expense of others, that will benefit European and American capitalism at the (acknowledged, indeed promised!) cost of austerity and immiseration for Ukrainian working people, and that will benefit American and NATO plans for an ever-tightening military encirclement of Russia at the expense of possible war and perpetual tension for Ukraine.

The only possibility for a more serious, "revolutionary” break from neo-liberal standards of oligarchic-imperial rule in the near future would come from the neofascist groups, who indeed imagine themselves to have a radically different agenda. But guess what? Faced with any popular uprising against its policies, from the right or the left, the new neo-liberal, Euro-facing, Russia-hating, America-loving, Ukrainian government, and its international supporters, will trot out the bourgeois democratic principles that its leaders, of course, never really contravened, and insist, Berkut (by any other name) and all: We won’t permit that in our democratic, European capital, no matter how righteous the cause.

Is there anybody who honestly doubts any of this?

Brendan O’Neill makes the point quite nicely:

For what we have in Ukraine is not revolution, but regime change …As for the word ‘revolution’ … its deployment in Ukraine takes its bastardisation to a new low: there has of course been no replacement of one social order by another in Ukraine, or even the installment of a people’s government; instead various long-established parties in parliament, some of which are deeply unpopular among certain constituencies in Ukraine, are forming an interim government. Revolutionary? Hardly.

The Western debate and coverage … has certainly made externally generated regime change seem revolutionary, and the Western-assisted anti-democratic removal of an elected leader seem like an act of people’s democracy. It has exposed a severe dearth of independent critical thinking among the Western commentariat. …

The truth of what has happened in Ukraine is this: the EU and Washington have effectively brought about regime change, replacing an elected pro-Russian regime with an unelected, still-being-formed new government that is more amenable to the institutions of the West.26

Regarding the "fascism” question, Max Blumenthal’s Alternet piece, and Per Anders Rudling’s detailed scholarly study are indispensable sources. Rudling understates considerably, when he says: "The far-right tradition is particularly strong in western Ukraine.” The fascist currents in the Kiev movement are undeniable. They are represented in the parliament by the Svoboda (Freedom) Party (originally called the Social National Party). In December, 2012, the European Parliament condemned Svoboda for its "racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views,” and urged other Ukrainian parties "not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with this party.”27

As Blumenthal notes, Svoboda’s leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, defines his mission as freeing his country from the "Muscovite-Jewish mafia.” His deputy, Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn founded a think tank named after a historical figure he admires greatly: The Joseph Goebbels Political Research Center. Svoboda’s – and, unfortunately, much of western Ukraine’s – "nationalism” is embodied in the revered figure of Stepan Bandera, a World War II-era Nazi collaborator who led the pro-fascist Organization of Ukrainian (OUN), which helped to form a Ukrainian division of the Waffen SS to fight with the Nazis against the Soviet Union. From 1942-1944, Yaroslav Stetsko, the "Prime Minister” of ONU-B (Bandera’s wing), who supported "bringing German methods of exterminating Jewry to Ukraine,” oversaw the killing of "more than 90,000 Poles and thousands of Jews” in western Ukraine. Banderists in Lvov circulated a pamphlet telling the city’s Jews: "We will lay your heads at Hitler’s feet.”28

After the war, Bandera’s Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) continued its fascist campaign for "a totalitarian, ethnically pure Europe,” engaging in a futile armed struggle against the Soviet Union, until KGB agents assassinated him in Munich in 1959. Nothing "neo” about this Nazi.

Viktor Yushchenko, the president produced by the last American-supported Ukrainian uprising, the "Orange Revolution,” put the full weight of the ideological apparatus of the Ukrainian state into reinventing the history of Ukrainian complicity with Nazism into a "national liberation” mythology. He "tasked a set of nationalistically minded historians” into "disseminating a sanitized, edifyingly patriotic version of the history of the ‘Ukrainian national liberation movement,’ the leaders of which were presented in iconographic form as heroic and saintly figures, martyrs of the nation.”

Thus, in 2010, against the protestation of the European Parliament—which he accused of having a "historical complex” — Yushchenko awarded Stepan Bandera the title of "Hero of Ukraine."29 As Rudling notes: "There was little protest from intellectuals who identify themselves as liberals.” It was the government of big, bad Yanukovych that later annulled the award.

And thus, still satisfied by their political research, Svoboda led a 15,000-person march in honor of Bandera in Kiev on January 1st of this year, with chants of "Ukraine above all” and "Bandera, come and bring order!” 30

Now, as a result of the insurrection, Svoboda, which won about 10% of the vote in the last election, has effectively muscled the much larger (34% of the last vote) Party of the Regions out of parliament, and seeks nationally to outlaw it and the Communist Party (13% of the vote), whose leader’s house was burned down. With the help of its Right Sector allies, these parties have already been banned in a number of regions. Svoboda now holds "key leadership positions in the parliament and law enforcement, four ministerial portfolios in the new government [including Prosecutor General and Deputy Prime Minister] and several appointed governorships.” Svoboda’s co-fouder, Andriy Parubiy, is head of the National Security & Defense Council of the new, democratic, government of Ukraine.31

So, fourteen months after denouncing Svoboda for its "racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia,” European governments are gushing over the new "democracy” in Ukraine over which Svoboda presides. And, as the BBC reports: "Inside the columned central hall of Kiev's city council, an activist base of operations, hung a giant banner with a Celtic cross, a symbol of ‘white power,’ and an American confederate flag….and an immense portrait of Stepan Bandera.”32

Keep in mind, too, Rudling’s point that the whole Banderist "national liberation” narrative "was well received in western Ukraine but was received coldly or met open hostility in the eastern and southern parts of the country.”

As Svoboda represents fascism in the parliament, Right Sector (Pravy Sektor) represented fascism in the maidan, and continues to do so with its intimidating tactics in the streets and administrative offices of Kiev and the regions, as well as from its new positions in government. Right Sector is a confederation of far-right groups such as Patriots of Ukraine, the Social-National Assembly, White Hammer, Stepan Bandera’s Trident, and the Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian People's Self-Defense (UNA-UNSO). Their favorite ensign is the wolfsangel--a favorite, too, of the Waffen SS--which was on display all over the maidan:

As Ukrainian journalist Oleg Shynkarenko points out, Right Sector leader, Dmytro Yarosh defines the group's creed thusly: "We are against degeneration and totalitarian liberalism, but we support traditional morals and family values, against the cult of profit and depravity.” Right Sector’s websites rail against the "liberal homodictatorship” of modern Western society.33 Blumenthal points out that Right Sector is: "linked to a constellation of international neofascist parties,” and "through the Alliance of European National Movements (AEMN), Right Sector is promising to lead its army of aimless, disillusioned young men on ‘a great European Reconquest’.” In some ways, the neofascist right does want power to the people—just the morally and ethnically pure people.

BBC did a decent report on the "Neo-Nazi threat in new Ukraine.” Again, maybe not so "neo.” The reporter, Gabriel Gatehouse, interviews Svoboda and Right Sector militants, meets a group called C14 (apparently an armed wing of Svoboda) under a portrait of Lenin in the Communist Party headquarters they had taken over, and shows two Svoboda MPs displaying "14” and "88” tokens. These numbers, which are often displayed in combination, and which appeared in graffiti throughout the maidan, have special fascist significance: "14” stands for from the Fourteen Words coined by an American white supremacist: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children” (there’s an alternate version, about "the White Aryan woman”); "88” represents a double of the eighth letter of the Latin alphabet, HH, for Heil Hitler. [I cannot make this stuff up.]

Yes, it depends what you’re fighting for.

My favorite is this 2½-minute tidbit from a young Right Sector gentleman, explaining the group’s, and his, affinity for "National Socialist themes,” and assuring his interviewer that they want a society that’s just "a little bit like” that "under Hitler”:


The leader of the Right Sector, Dmytro Yarosh, is now the deputy head of the National Security Council, and is running for President, of Ukraine’s new, democratic, government.

You might also take a look at this video, where Right Sector leader Aleksandr Muzychko roughs up a local prosecutor to show him who’s the boss now, and threatens to have him lynched: "Shut the fuck up, you bitch! Your fucking time is over… If you think I am goodie because I’ve come without my rifle, you are gravely mistaken. I’ve come with a pistol. There are a few choice videos of Muzychko, who is also identified as a member of the "Wiking" unit of the Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian People’s Self-Defense (UNA-UNSO), another post-Banderist right-wing paramilitary group.

So there’s no question that fascists were part of the insurrection, and there is no question that they were crucial to its success. As Oleg Shynkarenko insists, the scenes of fighting resistance and advance were led by Right Sector and allied groups:

[I]t was the far right that first started to talk back to Yanukovych in his own language. They were the first to throw Molotov cocktails and stones at police and to mount real and well-fortified barricades. They were amongst those who burned two military troop carriers that attacked the barricades on February 18. The Euromaidan won thanks to the resoluteness of people who were ready to fight rather than to negotiate in parliament when any negotiation became pointless.
Nicolai Petro agrees, and points out the political ramifications:
I ascribe a much greater role to the Right Sector…the spearhead of the revolution. … [T]he actual coup was accomplished thanks to the armed intervention of extreme nationalists, led by the Right Sector. And the fact that they were so instrumental in accomplishing this change of power has put them in the driver’s seat. From now on, whatever political decisions are arrived at will really be at the sufferance of the Right Sector.
Let’s be clear, also, that these neofascist groups not only fought and defeated Yanokovych’s police, they attacked and drove away any political group from the left that tried to establish a presence in the maidan. The fascists made sure they controlled the radical politics of the square. Sascha, a member of AntiFascist Action Ukraine, a group that monitors and fights fascism in Ukraine, recounts in an interview published in mid-February:
A group of 100 anarchists tried to arrange their own self-defense group, different Anarchist groups came together for a meeting on the Maidan. While they were meeting a group of Nazis came in a larger group, they had axes and baseball bats and sticks, helmets, they said it was their territory. They called the Anarchists things like Jews, blacks, Communists. There weren’t even any Communists, that was just an insult. The Anarchists weren’t expecting this and they left. People with other political views can’t stay in certain places, they aren’t tolerated.34
And Mira, of the same group, adds:
One of the worst things is that Pravy has this official structure. They are coordinated. You need passes to go certain places. They have the power to give or not give people permission to be active. We’re trying to be active but we have to avoid Nazis, and I’m not going to ask a Nazi for permission!...
Early on a Stalinist tent was attacked by Nazis. One was sent to the hospital. Another student spoke out against fascism and he was attacked.
Pravy Sektor got too much attention after the first violence, the media gave them popularity and they started to think they’re cool guys. Pravy existed before but now it’s growing and attracting a lot of new people.
Ilya Budraitskis, a Russian Socialist who came to the maidan in January, tells us how the "ultranationalists” brutalized and evicted everyone from leftish Europhiles to anarchists:
Another part of the left repetitively tried to join the movement, even after they were repetitively kicked out of it. Some of the "euro-enthusiastic” leftists came to Maidan in November with red (instead of blue) flag of the EU, with banners for free healthcare and education, and with feminist slogans. They were brutally attacked by Nazis. Then there was an episode when the far-right attacked the tent of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine near the Maidan. A man on the stage said that there were some "provocateurs” and said that "men know what to do”; as a result, a mob of Nazis has broken ribs of the trade union activists, tore their tent with knives and stolen their property. The victims hadn’t been doing anything "leftist” per se, but they were members of the left movement, known to their political adversaries, and that was enough….
[T]here is also another group of people who are often confused with the radical left. …who call themselves anarchists but actually have a very conservative political agenda full of machismo and xenophobia. After the protests have begun, they shifted to the right dramatically; they reached truce with the nazi groups and showered Molotov cocktails at the police together. Eventually, they parted ways with left movement finally.
A week ago they, together with some actual leftists who wanted to "act”, decided to form an "anarchist sotnia [defense unit]” in the Maidan self-defence. In order to do that, they were prepared to give an oath to [Svoboda leader] Andriy Parubiy. But when they formed their ranks to do this, they were met by approximately 150 Svoboda fighters with baseball bats and axes. The fascists accused them of being racially impure and politically irrelevant and forced them out of Maidan.35
So much for Professor Snyder’s agora.

Of course, the great majority of the people in the square are not fascists, but, for all the reasons of history and ideology discussed above, a lot of people in western Ukraine are susceptible to their charms. As Denis, from Kiev Autonomous Workers Union says: "[I]n the long run the rightist political hegemony is being reinforced,” because "That’s what happens when you don’t have a developed left movement and your liberals are too corrupt and ugly!” Here’s how he describes the rightward political momentum on the maidan:

[Far right] ideology has really become more acceptable in the mainstream (which had initially been leaning to the right!). ... Of course, most protesters really say they want political pluralism, bourgeois democracy. … But at the same time the crowd at the Maidan revives some deeply buried pre-modern, medieval social practices like whipping post, lynching, reinforced traditional gender roles. This scary readiness to slip into barbarism is born from the general disenchantment with parliamentary politics and the ubiquitous nationalist mythology about the golden past, imposed in schools and media.
The original Euromaidan agenda in November was a right liberal one, standing for the EU, "economic liberties” and bourgeois democracy. But even then the issues of multiculturalism, LGBT rights, workers’ rights and freedoms were severely repressed by the politically conscious far-right activists … [whose] political programme had always included critique of the EU’s "liberal fascism”. … The attackers didn’t represent the majority of protesters, but the majority was very susceptible to their political agenda which they had been aggressively pushing through…
[P]eople are new to politics, they just "know” they are rightists and nationalists. And therefore they trust the more politically experienced leaders to express their views and formulate their programme for them. It just so happens that those leaders are nationalists or even Nazis. And they shift the centre of the political discourse even further to the right.
But, first of all, their ideas are welcome among the apolitical crowd; second of all, they are very well organized, and also people love their "radicalism”. An average Ukrainian worker hates the police and the government but he will never fight them openly and risk his comfort. So he or she welcomes a "vanguard” which is ready to fight on their behalf; especially if that vanguard shares "good” patriotic values….And since the basic "common sense” had long ago been established on the nationalist fundamental assumptions, the radicalization goes only further in that direction.36
As we all know, fascists don’t have to be a majority to determine outcomes, and their power to do so can increase very quickly under favorable conditions. Perhaps the most telling, and disturbing remark of the leftists cited in these interviews was this, from Sascha of AntiFascist Action Ukraine, a couple of weeks before the head of Right Sector became deputy head of the National Security and Defense Council: "If Pravy [Right Sector] has positions in a new government that would be really dangerous but that isn’t possible, they aren’t powerful enough.”

Oh, yes they are. Consider the stunning turn of events we have just witnessed: "the ascension of a genuinely fascist mass movement into the corridors of power” in a European country for the first time since WWII, greeted with a stunning non-chalance—nay, embraced as an exemplar of democracy—by the Western liberal democracies. University of Ottawa political scientist Ivan Katchanovski specifies: "The paramilitary right sector has de facto power at least in some Western Ukrainian regions,” and "The far right in Ukraine has now achieved the level of representation and influence that is unparalleled in Europe.”37

Then imagine, please, Professor Katchanovski’s last sentence with "left” substituted for "right,” and consider how unthinkable it is that any American government would be so welcoming of such a "democratic” outcome. The United States and its allied liberal democracies are, in other words, willing to accommodate very hard swings to the right in order to secure and/or extend the neo-liberal capitalist, and US/NATO imperialist, order, but will abide not an inch of movement toward resistance from the left—no matter how righteous or democratic the cause.


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Old News ;-)

Fascism is a system of political authority and social order intended to reinforce the unity, energy, and purity of communities in which liberal democracy stands accused of producing division and decline. [...]

A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.

Robert Paxton

[Oct 17, 2017] The Victory of Perception Management by Robert Parry

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Thus, you have the current hysteria over Russia's supposed "aggression" in Ukraine when the crisis was actually provoked by the West, including by U.S. neocons who helped create today's humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine that they now cynically blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin. ..."
"... But these were largely ad hoc efforts. A more comprehensive "public diplomacy" operation took shape beginning in 1982 when Raymond, a 30-year veteran of CIA clandestine services, was transferred to the NSC. ..."
"... A slight, soft-spoken New Yorker who reminded some of a character from a John le Carré spy novel, Raymond was an intelligence officer who "easily fades into the woodwork," according to one acquaintance. But Raymond would become the sparkplug for this high-powered propaganda network, according to a draft chapter of the Iran-Contra report. ..."
"... But things were about to change. In a Jan. 13, 1983, memo, NSC Advisor Clark foresaw the need for non-governmental money to advance this cause. "We will develop a scenario for obtaining private funding," Clark wrote. (Just five days later, President Reagan personally welcomed media magnate Rupert Murdoch into the Oval Office for a private meeting, according to records on file at the Reagan library.) ..."
"... As administration officials reached out to wealthy supporters, lines against domestic propaganda soon were crossed as the operation took aim not only at foreign audiences but at U.S. public opinion, the press and congressional Democrats who opposed funding the Nicaraguan Contras. ..."
"... At the time, the Contras were earning a gruesome reputation as human rights violators and terrorists. To change this negative perception of the Contras as well as of the U.S.-backed regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala, the Reagan administration created a full-blown, clandestine propaganda network. ..."
"... Lost History ..."
"... My American Journey ..."
"... Secrecy & Privilege ..."
"... Rupert Murdoch's media empire is bigger than ever, but his neocon messaging barely stands out as distinctive, given how the neocons also have gained control of the editorial and foreign-reporting sections of the Washington Post, the New York Times and virtually every other major news outlet. For instance, the demonizing of Russian President Putin is now so total that no honest person could look at those articles and see anything approaching objective or evenhanded journalism. Yet, no one loses a job over this lack of professionalism. ..."
"... America's Stolen Narrative, ..."
"... America's Stolen Narrative ..."
"... Reagan actually has two sides as he was portrayed on SNL, the nice grandfatherly side, and the mafia boss warmonger side. He managed to use the media to display his nice side. ..."
"... Studies estimate that between 100K and 150K Nam vets have committed suicide since the war. There are many reasons why but I suspect a goodly number did so when they couldn't handle the knowledge of how they had been used. I'm careful about who in my "peers" I enlighten. ..."
"... It's painful to watch any western MSM. It's all through our sports and entertainment programming to the point of madness. The wreckage caused by our "leaders" across the earth's face, in our name, IS evil. ..."
"... Studies estimate that between 100K and 150K Nam vets have committed suicide since the war. There are many reasons why but I suspect a goodly number did so when they couldn't handle the knowledge of how they had been used. I'm careful about who in my "peers" I enlighten. ..."
"... Always follow the money. ..."
Dec 28, 2014 | consortiumnews.com

Special Report: In the 1980s, the Reagan administration pioneered "perception management" to get the American people to "kick the Vietnam Syndrome" and accept more U.S. interventionism, but that propaganda structure continues to this day getting the public to buy into endless war, writes Robert Parry.

To understand how the American people find themselves trapped in today's Orwellian dystopia of endless warfare against an ever-shifting collection of "evil" enemies, you have to think back to the Vietnam War and the shock to the ruling elite caused by an unprecedented popular uprising against that war.

While on the surface Official Washington pretended that the mass protests didn't change policy, a panicky reality existed behind the scenes, a recognition that a major investment in domestic propaganda would be needed to ensure that future imperial adventures would have the public's eager support or at least its confused acquiescence.

President Ronald Reagan meeting with media magnate Rupert Murdoch in the Oval Office on Jan. 18, 1983, with Charles Wick, director of the U.S. Information Agency, in the background. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library)

This commitment to what the insiders called "perception management" began in earnest with the Reagan administration in the 1980s but it would come to be the accepted practice of all subsequent administrations, including the present one of President Barack Obama.

In that sense, propaganda in pursuit of foreign policy goals would trump the democratic ideal of an informed electorate. The point would be not to honestly inform the American people about events around the world but to manage their perceptions by ramping up fear in some cases and defusing outrage in others depending on the U.S. government's needs.

Thus, you have the current hysteria over Russia's supposed "aggression" in Ukraine when the crisis was actually provoked by the West, including by U.S. neocons who helped create today's humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine that they now cynically blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Yet, many of these same U.S. foreign policy operatives outraged over Russia's limited intervention to protect ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine are demanding that President Obama launch an air war against the Syrian military as a "humanitarian" intervention there.

In other words, if the Russians act to shield ethnic Russians on their border who are being bombarded by a coup regime in Kiev that was installed with U.S. support, the Russians are the villains blamed for the thousands of civilian deaths, even though the vast majority of the casualties have been inflicted by the Kiev regime from indiscriminate bombing and from dispatching neo-Nazi militias to do the street fighting.

In Ukraine, the exigent circumstances don't matter, including the violent overthrow of the constitutionally elected president last February. It's all about white hats for the current Kiev regime and black hats for the ethnic Russians and especially for Putin.

But an entirely different set of standards has applied to Syria where a U.S.-backed rebellion, which included violent Sunni jihadists from the start, wore the white hats and the relatively secular Syrian government, which has responded with excessive violence of its own, wears the black hats. But a problem to that neat dichotomy arose when one of the major Sunni rebel forces, the Islamic State, started seizing Iraqi territory and beheading Westerners.

Faced with those grisly scenes, President Obama authorized bombing the Islamic State forces in both Iraq and Syria, but neocons and other U.S. hardliners have been hectoring Obama to go after their preferred target, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, despite the risk that destroying the Syrian military could open the gates of Damascus to the Islamic State or al-Qaeda's Nusra Front.

Lost on the Dark Side

You might think that the American public would begin to rebel against these messy entangling alliances with the 1984 -like demonizing of one new "enemy" after another. Not only have these endless wars drained trillions of dollars from the U.S. taxpayers, they have led to the deaths of thousands of U.S. troops and to the tarnishing of America's image from the attendant evils of war, including a lengthy detour into the "dark side" of torture, assassinations and "collateral" killings of children and other innocents.

But that is where the history of "perception management" comes in, the need to keep the American people compliant and confused. In the 1980s, the Reagan administration was determined to "kick the Vietnam Syndrome," the revulsion that many Americans felt for warfare after all those years in the blood-soaked jungles of Vietnam and all the lies that clumsily justified the war.

So, the challenge for the U.S. government became: how to present the actions of "enemies" always in the darkest light while bathing the behavior of the U.S. "side" in a rosy glow. You also had to stage this propaganda theater in an ostensibly "free country" with a supposedly "independent press."

From documents declassified or leaked over the past several decades, including an unpublished draft chapter of the congressional Iran-Contra investigation, we now know a great deal about how this remarkable project was undertaken and who the key players were.

Perhaps not surprisingly much of the initiative came from the Central Intelligence Agency, which housed the expertise for manipulating target populations through propaganda and disinformation. The only difference this time would be that the American people would be the target population.

For this project, Ronald Reagan's CIA Director William J. Casey sent his top propaganda specialist Walter Raymond Jr. to the National Security Council staff to manage the inter-agency task forces that would brainstorm and coordinate this "public diplomacy" strategy.

Many of the old intelligence operatives, including Casey and Raymond, are now dead, but other influential Washington figures who were deeply involved by these strategies remain, such as neocon stalwart Robert Kagan, whose first major job in Washington was as chief of Reagan's State Department Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America.

Now a fellow at the Brookings Institution and a columnist at the Washington Post, Kagan remains an expert in presenting foreign policy initiatives within the "good guy/bad guy" frames that he learned in the 1980s. He is also the husband of Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who oversaw the overthrow of Ukraine's elected President Viktor Yanukovych last February amid a very effective U.S. propaganda strategy.

During the Reagan years, Kagan worked closely on propaganda schemes with Elliott Abrams, then the Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America. After getting convicted and then pardoned in the Iran-Contra scandal, Abrams reemerged on President George W. Bush's National Security Council handling Middle East issues, including the Iraq War, and later "global democracy strategy." Abrams is now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

These and other neocons were among the most diligent students learning the art of "perception management" from the likes of Raymond and Casey, but those propaganda skills have spread much more widely as "public diplomacy" and "information warfare" have now become an integral part of every U.S. foreign policy initiative.

A Propaganda Bureaucracy

Declassified documents now reveal how extensive Reagan's propaganda project became with inter-agency task forces assigned to develop "themes" that would push American "hot buttons." Scores of documents came out during the Iran-Contra scandal in 1987 and hundreds more are now available at the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California.

What the documents reveal is that at the start of the Reagan administration, CIA Director Casey faced a daunting challenge in trying to rally public opinion behind aggressive U.S. interventions, especially in Central America. Bitter memories of the Vietnam War were still fresh and many Americans were horrified at the brutality of right-wing regimes in Guatemala and El Salvador, where Salvadoran soldiers raped and murdered four American churchwomen in December 1980.

The new leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua also was not viewed with much alarm. After all, Nicaragua was an impoverished country of only about three million people who had just cast off the brutal dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza.

So, Reagan's initial strategy of bolstering the Salvadoran and Guatemalan armies required defusing the negative publicity about them and somehow rallying the American people into supporting a covert CIA intervention inside Nicaragua via a counterrevolutionary force known as the Contras led by Somoza's ex-National Guard officers.

Reagan's task was made tougher by the fact that the Cold War's anti-communist arguments had so recently been discredited in Vietnam. As deputy assistant secretary to the Air Force, J. Michael Kelly, put it, "the most critical special operations mission we have is to persuade the American people that the communists are out to get us."

At the same time, the White House worked to weed out American reporters who uncovered facts that undercut the desired public images. As part of that effort, the administration attacked New York Times correspondent Raymond Bonner for disclosing the Salvadoran regime's massacre of about 800 men, women and children in the village of El Mozote in northeast El Salvador in December 1981. Accuracy in Media and conservative news organizations, such as The Wall Street Journal's editorial page, joined in pummeling Bonner, who was soon ousted from his job.

But these were largely ad hoc efforts. A more comprehensive "public diplomacy" operation took shape beginning in 1982 when Raymond, a 30-year veteran of CIA clandestine services, was transferred to the NSC.

A slight, soft-spoken New Yorker who reminded some of a character from a John le Carré spy novel, Raymond was an intelligence officer who "easily fades into the woodwork," according to one acquaintance. But Raymond would become the sparkplug for this high-powered propaganda network, according to a draft chapter of the Iran-Contra report.

Though the draft chapter didn't use Raymond's name in its opening pages, apparently because some of the information came from classified depositions, Raymond's name was used later in the chapter and the earlier citations matched Raymond's known role. According to the draft report, the CIA officer who was recruited for the NSC job had served as Director of the Covert Action Staff at the CIA from 1978 to 1982 and was a "specialist in propaganda and disinformation."

"The CIA official [Raymond] discussed the transfer with [CIA Director] Casey and NSC Advisor William Clark that he be assigned to the NSC as [Donald] Gregg's successor [as coordinator of intelligence operations in June 1982] and received approval for his involvement in setting up the public diplomacy program along with his intelligence responsibilities," the chapter said.

"In the early part of 1983, documents obtained by the Select [Iran-Contra] Committees indicate that the Director of the Intelligence Staff of the NSC [Raymond] successfully recommended the establishment of an inter-governmental network to promote and manage a public diplomacy plan designed to create support for Reagan Administration policies at home and abroad."

During his Iran-Contra deposition, Raymond explained the need for this propaganda structure, saying: "We were not configured effectively to deal with the war of ideas."

One reason for this shortcoming was that federal law forbade taxpayers' money from being spent on domestic propaganda or grassroots lobbying to pressure congressional representatives. Of course, every president and his team had vast resources to make their case in public, but by tradition and law, they were restricted to speeches, testimony and one-on-one persuasion of lawmakers.

But things were about to change. In a Jan. 13, 1983, memo, NSC Advisor Clark foresaw the need for non-governmental money to advance this cause. "We will develop a scenario for obtaining private funding," Clark wrote. (Just five days later, President Reagan personally welcomed media magnate Rupert Murdoch into the Oval Office for a private meeting, according to records on file at the Reagan library.)

As administration officials reached out to wealthy supporters, lines against domestic propaganda soon were crossed as the operation took aim not only at foreign audiences but at U.S. public opinion, the press and congressional Democrats who opposed funding the Nicaraguan Contras.

At the time, the Contras were earning a gruesome reputation as human rights violators and terrorists. To change this negative perception of the Contras as well as of the U.S.-backed regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala, the Reagan administration created a full-blown, clandestine propaganda network.

In January 1983, President Reagan took the first formal step to create this unprecedented peacetime propaganda bureaucracy by signing National Security Decision Directive 77, entitled "Management of Public Diplomacy Relative to National Security." Reagan deemed it "necessary to strengthen the organization, planning and coordination of the various aspects of public diplomacy of the United States Government."

Reagan ordered the creation of a special planning group within the National Security Council to direct these "public diplomacy" campaigns. The planning group would be headed by the CIA's Walter Raymond Jr. and one of its principal arms would be a new Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America, housed at the State Department but under the control of the NSC.

CIA Taint

Worried about the legal prohibition barring the CIA from engaging in domestic propaganda, Raymond formally resigned from the CIA in April 1983, so, he said, "there would be no question whatsoever of any contamination of this." But Raymond continued to act toward the U.S. public much like a CIA officer would in directing a propaganda operation in a hostile foreign country.

Raymond fretted, too, about the legality of Casey's ongoing involvement. Raymond confided in one memo that it was important "to get [Casey] out of the loop," but Casey never backed off and Raymond continued to send progress reports to his old boss well into 1986. It was "the kind of thing which [Casey] had a broad catholic interest in," Raymond shrugged during his Iran-Contra deposition. He then offered the excuse that Casey undertook this apparently illegal interference in domestic politics "not so much in his CIA hat, but in his adviser to the president hat."

As a result of Reagan's decision directive, "an elaborate system of inter-agency committees was eventually formed and charged with the task of working closely with private groups and individuals involved in fundraising, lobbying campaigns and propagandistic activities aimed at influencing public opinion and governmental action," the draft Iran-Contra chapter said. "This effort resulted in the creation of the Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean in the Department of State (S/LPD), headed by Otto Reich," a right-wing Cuban exile from Miami.

Though Secretary of State George Shultz wanted the office under his control, President Reagan insisted that Reich "report directly to the NSC," where Raymond oversaw the operations as a special assistant to the President and the NSC's director of international communications, the chapter said.

"Reich relied heavily on Raymond to secure personnel transfers from other government agencies to beef up the limited resources made available to S/LPD by the Department of State," the chapter said. "Personnel made available to the new office included intelligence specialists from the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army. On one occasion, five intelligence experts from the Army's 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, were assigned to work with Reich's fast-growing operation."

A "public diplomacy strategy paper," dated May 5, 1983, summed up the administration's problem. "As far as our Central American policy is concerned, the press perceives that: the USG [U.S. government] is placing too much emphasis on a military solution, as well as being allied with inept, right-wing governments and groups. The focus on Nicaragua [is] on the alleged U.S.-backed 'covert' war against the Sandinistas. Moreover, the opposition is widely perceived as being led by former Somozistas."

The administration's difficulty with most of these press perceptions was that they were correct. But the strategy paper recommended ways to influence various groups of Americans to "correct" the impressions anyway, removing what another planning document called "perceptional obstacles."

"Themes will obviously have to be tailored to the target audience," the strategy paper said.

Casey's Hand

As the Reagan administration struggled to manage public perceptions, CIA Director Casey kept his personal hand in the effort. On one muggy day in August 1983, Casey convened a meeting of Reagan administration officials and five leading ad executives at the Old Executive Office Building next to the White House to come up with ideas for selling Reagan's Central American policies to the American people.

Earlier that day, a national security aide had warmed the P.R. men to their task with dire predictions that leftist governments would send waves of refugees into the United States and cynically flood America with drugs. The P.R. executives jotted down some thoughts over lunch and then pitched their ideas to the CIA director in the afternoon as he sat hunched behind a desk taking notes.

"Casey was kind of spearheading a recommendation" for better public relations for Reagan's Central America policies, recalled William I. Greener Jr., one of the ad men. Two top proposals arising from the meeting were for a high-powered communications operation inside the White House and private money for an outreach program to build support for U.S. intervention.

The results from the discussions were summed up in an Aug. 9, 1983, memo written by Raymond who described Casey's participation in the meeting to brainstorm how "to sell a 'new product' Central America by generating interest across-the-spectrum."

In the memo to then-U.S. Information Agency director Charles Wick, Raymond also noted that "via Murdock [sic] may be able to draw down added funds" to support pro-Reagan initiatives. Raymond's reference to Rupert Murdoch possibly drawing down "added funds" suggests that the right-wing media mogul had been recruited to be part of the covert propaganda operation. During this period, Wick arranged at least two face-to-face meetings between Murdoch and Reagan.

In line with the clandestine nature of the operation, Raymond also suggested routing the "funding via Freedom House or some other structure that has credibility in the political center." (Freedom House would later emerge as a principal beneficiary of funding from the National Endowment for Democracy, which was also created under the umbrella of Raymond's operation.)

As the Reagan administration pushed the envelope on domestic propaganda, Raymond continued to worry about Casey's involvement. In an Aug. 29, 1983, memo, Raymond recounted a call from Casey pushing his P.R. ideas. Alarmed at a CIA director participating so brazenly in domestic propaganda, Raymond wrote that "I philosophized a bit with Bill Casey (in an effort to get him out of the loop)" but with little success.

Meanwhile, Reich's Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America (S/LPD) proved extremely effective in selecting "hot buttons" that would anger Americans about the Sandinistas. He also browbeat news correspondents who produced stories that conflicted with the administration's "themes." Reich's basic M.O. was to dispatch his propaganda teams to lobby news executives to remove or punish out-of-step reporters with a disturbing degree of success. Reich once bragged that his office "did not give the critics of the policy any quarter in the debate."

Another part of the office's job was to plant "white propaganda" in the news media through op-eds secretly financed by the government. In one memo, Jonathan Miller, a senior public diplomacy official, informed White House aide Patrick Buchanan about success placing an anti-Sandinista piece in The Wall Street Journal's friendly pages. "Officially, this office had no role in its preparation," Miller wrote.

Other times, the administration put out "black propaganda," outright falsehoods. In 1983, one such theme was designed to anger American Jews by portraying the Sandinistas as anti-Semitic because much of Nicaragua's small Jewish community fled after the revolution in 1979.

However, the U.S. embassy in Managua investigated the charges and "found no verifiable ground on which to accuse the GRN [the Sandinista government] of anti-Semitism," according to a July 28, 1983, cable. But the administration kept the cable secret and pushed the "hot button" anyway.

Black Hats/White Hats

Repeatedly, Raymond lectured his subordinates on the chief goal of the operation: "in the specific case of Nica[ragua], concentrate on gluing black hats on the Sandinistas and white hats on UNO [the Contras' United Nicaraguan Opposition]." So Reagan's speechwriters dutifully penned descriptions of Sandinista-ruled Nicaragua as a "totalitarian dungeon" and the Contras as the "moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers."

As one NSC official told me, the campaign was modeled after CIA covert operations abroad where a political goal is more important than the truth. "They were trying to manipulate [U.S.] public opinion using the tools of Walt Raymond's trade craft which he learned from his career in the CIA covert operation shop," the official admitted.

Another administration official gave a similar description to The Miami Herald's Alfonso Chardy. "If you look at it as a whole, the Office of Public Diplomacy was carrying out a huge psychological operation, the kind the military conduct to influence the population in denied or enemy territory," that official explained. [For more details, see Parry's Lost History .]

Another important figure in the pro-Contra propaganda was NSC staffer Oliver North, who spent a great deal of his time on the Nicaraguan public diplomacy operation even though he is better known for arranging secret arms shipments to the Contras and to Iran's radical Islamic government, leading to the Iran-Contra scandal.

The draft Iran-Contra chapter depicted a Byzantine network of contract and private operatives who handled details of the domestic propaganda while concealing the hand of the White House and the CIA. "Richard R. Miller, former head of public affairs at AID, and Francis D. Gomez, former public affairs specialist at the State Department and USIA, were hired by S/LPD through sole-source, no-bid contracts to carry out a variety of activities on behalf of the Reagan administration policies in Central America," the chapter said.

"Supported by the State Department and White House, Miller and Gomez became the outside managers of [North operative] Spitz Channel's fundraising and lobbying activities. They also served as the managers of Central American political figures, defectors, Nicaraguan opposition leaders and Sandinista atrocity victims who were made available to the press, the Congress and private groups, to tell the story of the Contra cause."

Miller and Gomez facilitated transfers of money to Swiss and offshore banks at North's direction, as they "became the key link between the State Department and the Reagan White House with the private groups and individuals engaged in a myriad of endeavors aimed at influencing the Congress, the media and public opinion," the chapter said.

The Iran-Contra draft chapter also cited a March 10, 1985, memo from North describing his assistance to CIA Director Casey in timing disclosures of pro-Contra news "aimed at securing Congressional approval for renewed support to the Nicaraguan Resistance Forces."

The chapter added: "Casey's involvement in the public diplomacy effort apparently continued throughout the period under investigation by the Committees," including a 1985 role in pressuring Congress to renew Contra aid and a 1986 hand in further shielding the Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America from the oversight of Secretary Shultz.

A Raymond-authored memo to Casey in August 1986 described the shift of the S/LPD office where Robert Kagan had replaced Reich to the control of the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, which was headed by Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, who had tapped Kagan for the public diplomacy job.

Even after the Iran-Contra scandal unraveled in 1986-87 and Casey died of brain cancer on May 6, 1987, the Republicans fought to keep secret the remarkable story of the public diplomacy apparatus. As part of a deal to get three moderate Republican senators to join Democrats in signing the Iran-Contra majority report, Democratic leaders agreed to drop the draft chapter detailing the CIA's domestic propaganda role (although a few references were included in the executive summary). But other Republicans, including Rep. Dick Cheney, still issued a minority report defending broad presidential powers in foreign affairs.

Thus, the American people were spared the chapter's troubling conclusion: that a secret propaganda apparatus had existed, run by "one of the CIA's most senior specialists, sent to the NSC by Bill Casey, to create and coordinate an inter-agency public-diplomacy mechanism [which] did what a covert CIA operation in a foreign country might do. [It] attempted to manipulate the media, the Congress and public opinion to support the Reagan administration's policies."

Kicking the Vietnam Syndrome

The ultimate success of Reagan's propaganda strategy was affirmed during the tenure of his successor, George H.W. Bush, when Bush ordered a 100-hour ground war on Feb. 23, 1991, to oust Iraqi troops from Kuwait, which had been invaded the previous August.

Though Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had long been signaling a readiness to withdraw and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev had negotiated a withdrawal arrangement that even had the blessings of top U.S. commanders in the field President Bush insisted on pressing ahead with the ground attack.

Bush's chief reason was that he and his Defense Secretary Dick Cheney saw the assault against Iraq's already decimated forces as an easy victory, one that would demonstrate America's new military capacity for high-tech warfare and would cap the process begun a decade earlier to erase the Vietnam Syndrome from the minds of average Americans.

Those strategic aspects of Bush's grand plan for a "new world order" began to emerge after the U.S.-led coalition started pummeling Iraq with air strikes in mid-January 1991. The bombings inflicted severe damage on Iraq's military and civilian infrastructure and slaughtered a large number of non-combatants, including the incineration of some 400 women and children in a Baghdad bomb shelter on Feb. 13. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com's " Recalling the Slaughter of Innocents ."]

The air war's damage was so severe that some world leaders looked for a way to end the carnage and arrange Iraq's departure from Kuwait. Even senior U.S. military field commanders, such as Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, looked favorably on proposals for sparing lives.

But Bush was fixated on a ground war. Though secret from the American people at that time, Bush had long determined that a peaceful Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait would not be allowed. Indeed, Bush was privately fearful that the Iraqis might capitulate before the United States could attack.

At the time, conservative columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak were among the few outsiders who described Bush's obsession with exorcising the Vietnam Syndrome. On Feb. 25, 1991, they wrote that the Gorbachev initiative brokering Iraq's surrender of Kuwait "stirred fears" among Bush's advisers that the Vietnam Syndrome might survive the Gulf War.

"There was considerable relief, therefore, when the President made clear he was having nothing to do with the deal that would enable Saddam Hussein to bring his troops out of Kuwait with flags flying," Evans and Novak wrote. "Fear of a peace deal at the Bush White House had less to do with oil, Israel or Iraqi expansionism than with the bitter legacy of a lost war. 'This is the chance to get rid of the Vietnam Syndrome,' one senior aide told us."

In the 1999 book, Shadow , author Bob Woodward confirmed that Bush was adamant about fighting a war, even as the White House pretended it would be satisfied with an unconditional Iraqi withdrawal. "We have to have a war," Bush told his inner circle of Secretary of State James Baker, national security adviser Brent Scowcroft and Gen. Colin Powell, according to Woodward.

"Scowcroft was aware that this understanding could never be stated publicly or be permitted to leak out. An American president who declared the necessity of war would probably be thrown out of office. Americans were peacemakers, not warmongers," Woodward wrote.

The Ground War

However, the "fear of a peace deal" resurfaced in the wake of the U.S.-led bombing campaign. Soviet diplomats met with Iraqi leaders who let it be known that they were prepared to withdraw their troops from Kuwait unconditionally.

Learning of Gorbachev's proposed settlement, Schwarzkopf also saw little reason for U.S. soldiers to die if the Iraqis were prepared to withdraw and leave their heavy weapons behind. There was also the prospect of chemical warfare that the Iraqis might use against advancing American troops. Schwarzkopf saw the possibility of heavy U.S. casualties.

But Gorbachev's plan was running into trouble with President Bush and his political subordinates who wanted a ground war to crown the U.S. victory. Schwarzkopf reached out to Gen. Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to make the case for peace with the President.

On Feb. 21, 1991, the two generals hammered out a cease-fire proposal for presentation to the NSC. The peace deal would give Iraqi forces one week to march out of Kuwait while leaving their armor and heavy equipment behind. Schwarzkopf thought he had Powell's commitment to pitch the plan at the White House.

But Powell found himself caught in the middle. He wanted to please Bush while still representing the concerns of the field commanders. When Powell arrived at the White House late on the evening of Feb. 21, he found Bush angry about the Soviet peace initiative. Still, according to Woodward's Shadow , Powell reiterated that he and Schwarzkopf "would rather see the Iraqis walk out than be driven out."

In My American Journey , Powell expressed sympathy for Bush's predicament. "The President's problem was how to say no to Gorbachev without appearing to throw away a chance for peace," Powell wrote. "I could hear the President's growing distress in his voice. 'I don't want to take this deal,' he said. 'But I don't want to stiff Gorbachev, not after he's come this far with us. We've got to find a way out'."

Powell sought Bush's attention. "I raised a finger," Powell wrote. "The President turned to me. 'Got something, Colin?'," Bush asked. But Powell did not outline Schwarzkopf's one-week cease-fire plan. Instead, Powell offered a different idea intended to make the ground offensive inevitable.

"We don't stiff Gorbachev," Powell explained. "Let's put a deadline on Gorby's proposal. We say, great idea, as long as they're completely on their way out by, say, noon Saturday," Feb. 23, less than two days away.

Powell understood that the two-day deadline would not give the Iraqis enough time to act, especially with their command-and-control systems severely damaged by the air war. The plan was a public-relations strategy to guarantee that the White House got its ground war. "If, as I suspect, they don't move, then the flogging begins," Powell told a gratified president.

The next day, at 10:30 a.m., a Friday, Bush announced his ultimatum. There would be a Saturday noon deadline for the Iraqi withdrawal, as Powell had recommended. Schwarzkopf and his field commanders in Saudi Arabia watched Bush on television and immediately grasped its meaning.

"We all knew by then which it would be," Schwarzkopf wrote. "We were marching toward a Sunday morning attack."

When the Iraqis predictably missed the deadline, American and allied forces launched the ground offensive at 0400 on Feb. 24, Persian Gulf time.

Though Iraqi forces were soon in full retreat, the allies pursued and slaughtered tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers in the 100-hour war. U.S. casualties were light, 147 killed in combat and another 236 killed in accidents or from other causes. "Small losses as military statistics go," wrote Powell, "but a tragedy for each family."

On Feb. 28, the day the war ended, Bush celebrated the victory. "By God, we've kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all," the President exulted, speaking to a group at the White House. [For more details, see Robert Parry's Secrecy & Privilege .]

So as not to put a damper on the post-war happy feelings, the U.S. news media decided not to show many of the grisliest photos, such as charred Iraqi soldiers ghoulishly still seated in their burned-out trucks where they had been incinerated while trying to flee. By that point, U.S. journalists knew it wasn't smart for their careers to present a reality that didn't make the war look good.

Enduring Legacy

Though Reagan's creation of a domestic propaganda bureaucracy began more than three decades ago and Bush's vanquishing of the Vietnam Syndrome was more than two decades ago the legacy of those actions continue to reverberate today in how the perceptions of the American people are now routinely managed. That was true during last decade's Iraq War and this decade's conflicts in Libya, Syria and Ukraine as well as the economic sanctions against Iran and Russia.

Indeed, while the older generation that pioneered these domestic propaganda techniques has passed from the scene, many of their protégés are still around along with some of the same organizations. The National Endowment for Democracy, which was formed in 1983 at the urging of CIA Director Casey and under the supervision of Walter Raymond's NSC operation, is still run by the same neocon, Carl Gershman, and has an even bigger budget, now exceeding $100 million a year.

Gershman and his NED played important behind-the-scenes roles in instigating the Ukraine crisis by financing activists, journalists and other operatives who supported the coup against elected President Yanukovych. The NED-backed Freedom House also beat the propaganda drums. [See Consortiumnews.com's " A Shadow Foreign Policy. "]

Two other Reagan-era veterans, Elliott Abrams and Robert Kagan, have both provided important intellectual support for continuing U.S. interventionism around the world. Earlier this year, Kagan's article for The New Republic, entitled " Superpowers Don't Get to Retire ," touched such a raw nerve with President Obama that he hosted Kagan at a White House lunch and crafted the presidential commencement speech at West Point to deflect some of Kagan's criticism of Obama's hesitancy to use military force.

A New York Times article about Kagan's influence over Obama reported that Kagan's wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, apparently had a hand in crafting the attack on her ostensible boss, President Obama.

According to the Times article, the husband-and-wife team share both a common world view and professional ambitions, Nuland editing Kagan's articles and Kagan "not permitted to use any official information he overhears or picks up around the house" a suggestion that Kagan's thinking at least may be informed by foreign policy secrets passed on by his wife.

Though Nuland wouldn't comment specifically on Kagan's attack on President Obama, she indicated that she holds similar views. "But suffice to say," Nuland said, "that nothing goes out of the house that I don't think is worthy of his talents. Let's put it that way."

Misguided Media

In the three decades since Reagan's propaganda machine was launched, the American press corps also has fallen more and more into line with an aggressive U.S. government's foreign policy strategies. Those of us in the mainstream media who resisted the propaganda pressures mostly saw our careers suffer while those who played along moved steadily up the ranks into positions of more money and more status.

Even after the Iraq War debacle when nearly the entire mainstream media went with the pro-invasion flow, there was almost no accountability for that historic journalistic failure. Indeed, the neocon influence at major newspapers, such as the Washington Post and the New York Times, only has solidified since.

Today's coverage of the Syrian civil war or the Ukraine crisis is so firmly in line with the State Department's propaganda "themes" that it would put smiles on the faces of William Casey and Walter Raymond if they were around today to see how seamlessly the "perception management" now works. There's no need any more to send out "public diplomacy" teams to bully editors and news executives. Everyone is already onboard.

Rupert Murdoch's media empire is bigger than ever, but his neocon messaging barely stands out as distinctive, given how the neocons also have gained control of the editorial and foreign-reporting sections of the Washington Post, the New York Times and virtually every other major news outlet. For instance, the demonizing of Russian President Putin is now so total that no honest person could look at those articles and see anything approaching objective or evenhanded journalism. Yet, no one loses a job over this lack of professionalism.

The Reagan administration's dreams of harnessing private foundations and non-governmental organizations have also come true. The Orwellian circle has been completed with many American "anti-war" groups advocating for "humanitarian" wars in Syria and other countries targeted by U.S. propaganda. [See Consortiumnews.com's " Selling 'Peace Groups' on US-Led Wars. "]

Much as Reagan's "public diplomacy" apparatus once sent around "defectors" to lambaste Nicaragua's Sandinistas by citing hyped-up human rights violations now the work is done by NGOs with barely perceptible threads back to the U.S. government. Just as Freedom House had "credibility" in the 1980s because of its earlier reputation as a human rights group, now other groups carrying the "human rights" tag, such as Human Rights Watch, are in the forefront of urging U.S. military interventions based on murky or propagandistic claims. [See Consortiumnews.com's " The Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case. "]

At this advanced stage of America's quiet surrender to "perception management," it is even hard to envision how one could retrace the many steps that would lead back to the concept of a democratic Republic based on an informed electorate. Many on the American Right remain entranced by the old propaganda theme about the "liberal media" and still embrace Reagan as their beloved icon. Meanwhile, many liberals can't break away from their own wistful trust in the New York Times and their empty hope that the media really is "liberal."

To confront the hard truth is not easy. Indeed, in this case, it can cause despair because there are so few voices to trust and they are easily drowned out by floods of disinformation that can come from any angle right, left or center. Yet, for the American democratic Republic to reset its goal toward an informed electorate, there is no option other than to build institutions that are determinedly committed to the truth.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com ). You also can order Robert Parry's trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America's Stolen Narrative . For details on this offer, click here .

LIANE CASTEN , December 28, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Terrific analysis. Am working on my own book on Vietnam (under contract.) Would love to use this piece liberally–of course with serious attribution. Do I have your permission?. Liane

W. R. Knight , December 28, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Bear in mind that during WWII, Reagan was nothing more than an itinerant movie actor who played war heros but never participated in the war itself. The movies he played in weren't much more than unabashed propaganda.

It is obscene that we allow the most vociferous warmongers to avoid any personal risk in the wars they promote; and it is depressing to see the public persuaded by the propaganda to sacrifice their money and children for the benefit of the warmongers.

Man on the street , December 29, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Reagan actually has two sides as he was portrayed on SNL, the nice grandfatherly side, and the mafia boss warmonger side. He managed to use the media to display his nice side.

Carroll Price , December 31, 2014 at 11:49 am

It takes both. All really successful presidents have a nice grandfatherly side and a mafia boss side that's displayed to the public as the need arises. Why? Because the American people admire the mafia war monger trait as much, if not more, than the grandfatherly trait. FDR and Reagan were both successful presidents because they had great skill in displaying whichever side fitted occasion, while Jimmy Carter, who was not blessed with a mafia/war monger side was a complete failure.

Joe Tedesky , December 28, 2014 at 2:07 pm

When ever this subject comes up, of how the right wing in American politics controls the narrative, I think of the 'Powell Memo'. In 1971 Lewis Powell wrote a secretive memo descripting how the conservatives must take hold of the American media. Powell would become a Supreme Court justice. If you Google his 'Powell Memo' you will read how Justice Powell laid out a very specific plan on how to do this. Powell wrote this before becoming a sitting Supreme Court Justice. His instructions were so good that many believe this document he wrote, was his stairway to heaven.

I cannot help but reflect on how the Warren Report was a great way for the Dark State to see how well they could pull the wool over America's eyes. Even though many did not buy the official one gunman claim, what else was there to counter this official report. So, it's business as usual, and for the average US citizen there isn't much else left to do.

I value this site. Although, there are way to many Americans not getting the news this site has to offer. Instead our society strolls along catching the sound bites, and listening to agenda driven pundits to become the most ill informed populace in human history.

Everythings Jake , December 28, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Another stellar moment of "integrity" in Colin Powell's long and ignominious career.

JWalters , December 28, 2014 at 5:43 pm

" given how the neocons also have gained control of the editorial and foreign-reporting sections of the Washington Post, the New York Times and virtually every other major news outlet."

And how do the neocons, working from niches out of the limelight, have the power to do all this? In a political system dominated by money, from where comes their money? Who coordinates their game plan? Who has an interest in promoting needless wars?
http://warprofiteerstory.blogspot.com

Mark , December 29, 2014 at 8:35 am

A tour de force outstanding work; essential reading, imo. It draws together in detail the mind-management of aggressive imperial adventures from Vietnam, through Central America and Iraq up to Ukraine and Syria today. Thank you Robert Parry.

Perhaps, as a further signal of the 'same ole same ole', you might even have thrown in somewhere the epithet 'jihadi contras' to describe extremist militias used (recruited, funded, trained, armed and directed) by the US (and allies) in the Syrian nightmare (and Libyan); where the secular and tolerant Assad government is – painfully for perception managers – still supported by the vast majority of Syrians, however topsy-turvy the mainextreme narrative is.

Thomas Seifert , December 29, 2014 at 9:12 am

A question from Germany: We observe a very similar process over here – the mainstream media closest following (and inciting!) the official NATO-propaganda in the case of Ukraine. This happens even stubbornly against the bitter protests from greater parts of their own readers.

But: HOW does this happen? What are precisely the mechanisms to unite the media and the journalists behind a special doctrine? On other themes there is still a pluralism of opinions – but in the case of "national interests"/foreign policy there is a kind of frightening standardization. Why this difference?

And why this against an obvious resistance from large parts of their readers and from experts (e.g. the last three German chancellors – Schmidt, Kohl and Schroeder – have admonished the NATO for better considering the Russian security interests). I don't want to believe in simple conspiracy theories

onno , December 29, 2014 at 9:23 am

Another great article by Consortiumnews proving the manipulation of people by the Western Media. It's amazing and scary to realize that people's minds are influenced by government propaganda. It reminds me of the German occupation during WW II and the lies broadcasted by US financed Radio Free Europe during the Cold War and apparently still happening in Azerbaijan.

This is psychological warfare at its best and used at the hands of the White House and Washington's Congress. What a shame for a so-called democratic nation, when are the American people waking up?

John , December 29, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Excellent piece indeed. The collusion of mass media and officials installed by the same economic powers completes the totalitarian mechanism which has displaced democracy.

Suggest clarifying use of the name Raymond, at first apparently Raymond Bonner also called Bonner, then a (different?) Raymond with the CIA referred to only by surname(?) as Raymond, then a Walter Raymond jr.

Studies estimate that between 100K and 150K Nam vets have committed suicide since the war. There are many reasons why but I suspect a goodly number did so when they couldn't handle the knowledge of how they had been used. I'm careful about who in my "peers" I enlighten.

Paul , December 29, 2014 at 3:39 pm

The positive side of democracy in America is exemplified precisely by journalism such as this. How sad that it is almost completely overshadowed by the cynical imperial 'democracy' that Parry's essay describes.

Your description of how the first Iraq War was pursued despite easily available options to avoid the carnage are hair-raising and infuriating. Almost as infuriating as the internal propaganda efforts of the U.S. government. I hope this essay is widely read.

To me, the positive side of democracy in America is exemplified precisely by journalism such as this. How sad that it is almost completely overshadowed by the cynical imperial 'democracy' that Parry's essay describes.

Barbc , December 29, 2014 at 7:32 pm

This past year I have learned from a number of Vietnam veterans that Reagan is not as well liked as has had been implied.
A most of the dislike is how he did not follow throw with bringing home the POWs left behind in Vietnam.

Steve Pahs , December 29, 2014 at 10:47 pm

Mr. Parry,

I follow your writing and have passed it along at times to the misinformed in my life. I appreciate such as your MH17 work early on when Putin and Russia were immediately blamed.

I am a Nam grunt vet from 66′-67′ who is the not so proud recipient of the Purple Heart. My physical wounds affect me to this day as I approach the age of 68. My mental wounds are not from my combat experience so much as they are from the eventual feeling of being used and betrayed. Adversity does not build character, it reveals it. I'm good with mine. The mental wounds evolved over time as I educated myself about how such an awful thing as that war could happen and engulf me in it at 19.

Three months in a military hospital makes one think about what had just transpired. It was the start of a journey that will continue till my last breath. I've crossed that threshold where most of my family and friends are looking through a keyhole offered up by our "leaders" while I am in the room dealing with the evil. Even those who understand what I present will sometimes tell me that "you are right, but it's too late in my life to accept it". That was said by a former Marine pilot.

It's painful to watch any western MSM. It's all through our sports and entertainment programming to the point of madness. The wreckage caused by our "leaders" across the earth's face, in our name, IS evil. I stopped taking the local paper a couple of years ago after they no longer would print my letters and columns. Twenty years ago it all made me quite angry. It's sadness I feel now for those who refuse to "see". Many vets don't know the source of their anger and the VA gladly numbs them with drugs. Not I.

Studies estimate that between 100K and 150K Nam vets have committed suicide since the war. There are many reasons why but I suspect a goodly number did so when they couldn't handle the knowledge of how they had been used. I'm careful about who in my "peers" I enlighten.

Mark Twain (SLC) said some profound things. One of my favorites is "It is easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled".
Always follow the money.

Thanks for what you do. It does make a difference.
Steve Pahs

MarkinPNW , December 30, 2014 at 1:43 am

This "Perception Management" is nothing knew. The argument has been made persuasively that the attack on Pearl Harbor actually resulted from a deliberate and successful campaign by FDR to change or "manage" the mass opinions or "Perceptions" of the US electorate from strongly pro-peace and anti-war (what could be called a "Great War syndrome" from the stupid and useless devastation of WW1) to all out pro-war for US involvement in WW2, by provoking the Japanese and refusing all peace negotiations with the Japanese who desperately were trying to avoid war.

In reference to "Orwellian Dystopia", Orwell's novels "Animal Farm" and "1984" were based in large part on Orwell's experience in the Spanish Civil War and WW2, respectively.

Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg , December 30, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Until the U.S. gets its butt seriously whipped again, as in Vietnam, the ever escalating strategy of tension against all countries who exhibit less than total and unconditional obedience to Washington will continue. Victoria Nuland is nothing more than a modern version of Cecil Rhodes; the ever probing tentacle of a voracious empire. In fact, It's really the same one.

hp , December 30, 2014 at 3:52 pm

The ripened fruit of the pervert Freud's pervert nephew Edward Bernays. (how the usurping usurers roll)

Jacob , December 31, 2014 at 11:51 pm

"In the 1980s, the Reagan administration pioneered 'perception management' to get the American people to 'kick the Vietnam Syndrome' and accept more U.S. interventionism, . . ."

The management of public perception within the U.S. regarding its imperialistic/colonial ambitions goes back much further than the 1980s. The Committee on Public Information, also known as "the Creel Commission," was the likely model Reagan wanted to imitate. The purpose of the CPI was to convince the American public, which was mostly anti-war, to support America's entry into the European war, also known as WWI. The CPI was in official operation from 1917 to 1919 during the Woodrow Wilson administration. But the paradigm for the use of mass propaganda to alter public perceptions is the Congregatio de propaganda fide (The Office for the Propagation of the Faith), a 1622 Vatican invention to undermine the spread of Protestantism by managing public perceptions on religious and spiritual matters.

[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 11, 2017] Antifa in Theory and in Practice

Notable quotes:
"... Antifa: the Antifascist Handbook ..."
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... La France Insoumise ..."
"... Le Monde diplomatique ..."
"... La France Insoumise ..."
"... Union Populaire Républicaine ..."
"... The Intifa Handbook ..."
Oct 11, 2017 | www.counterpunch.org

Photo by jcrakow | CC BY 2.0

" Fascists are divided into two categories: the fascists and the anti-fascists ."

– Ennio Flaiano, Italian writer and co-author of Federico Fellini's greatest film scripts.

In recent weeks, a totally disoriented left has been widely exhorted to unify around a masked vanguard calling itself Antifa, for anti-fascist. Hooded and dressed in black, Antifa is essentially a variation of the Black Bloc, familiar for introducing violence into peaceful demonstrations in many countries. Imported from Europe, the label Antifa sounds more political. It also serves the purpose of stigmatizing those it attacks as "fascists".

Despite its imported European name, Antifa is basically just another example of America's steady descent into violence.

Historical Pretensions

Antifa first came to prominence from its role in reversing Berkeley's proud "free speech" tradition by preventing right wing personalities from speaking there. But its moment of glory was its clash with rightwingers in Charlottesville on August 12, largely because Trump commented that there were "good people on both sides". With exuberant Schadenfreude, commentators grabbed the opportunity to condemn the despised President for his "moral equivalence", thereby bestowing a moral blessing on Antifa.

Charlottesville served as a successful book launching for Antifa: the Antifascist Handbook , whose author, young academic Mark Bray, is an Antifa in both theory and practice. The book is "really taking off very fast", rejoiced the publisher, Melville House. It instantly won acclaim from leading mainstream media such as the New York Times , The Guardian and NBC, not hitherto known for rushing to review leftwing books, least of all those by revolutionary anarchists.

The Washington Post welcomed Bray as spokesman for "insurgent activist movements" and observed that: "The book's most enlightening contribution is on the history of anti-fascist efforts over the past century, but its most relevant for today is its justification for stifling speech and clobbering white supremacists."

Bray's "enlightening contribution" is to a tell a flattering version of the Antifa story to a generation whose dualistic, Holocaust-centered view of history has largely deprived them of both the factual and the analytical tools to judge multidimensional events such as the growth of fascism. Bray presents today's Antifa as though it were the glorious legitimate heir to every noble cause since abolitionism. But there were no anti-fascists before fascism, and the label "Antifa" by no means applies to all the many adversaries of fascism.

The implicit claim to carry on the tradition of the International Brigades who fought in Spain against Franco is nothing other than a form of innocence by association. Since we must revere the heroes of the Spanish Civil War, some of that esteem is supposed to rub off on their self-designated heirs. Unfortunately, there are no veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade still alive to point to the difference between a vast organized defense against invading fascist armies and skirmishes on the Berkeley campus. As for the Anarchists of Catalonia, the patent on anarchism ran out a long time ago, and anyone is free to market his own generic.

The original Antifascist movement was an effort by the Communist International to cease hostilities with Europe's Socialist Parties in order to build a common front against the triumphant movements led by Mussolini and Hitler.

Since Fascism thrived, and Antifa was never a serious adversary, its apologists thrive on the "nipped in the bud" claim: "if only" Antifascists had beat up the fascist movements early enough, the latter would have been nipped in the bud. Since reason and debate failed to stop the rise of fascism, they argue, we must use street violence – which, by the way, failed even more decisively.

This is totally ahistorical. Fascism exalted violence, and violence was its preferred testing ground. Both Communists and Fascists were fighting in the streets and the atmosphere of violence helped fascism thrive as a bulwark against Bolshevism, gaining the crucial support of leading capitalists and militarists in their countries, which brought them to power.

Since historic fascism no longer exists, Bray's Antifa have broadened their notion of "fascism" to include anything that violates the current Identity Politics canon: from "patriarchy" (a pre-fascist attitude to put it mildly) to "transphobia" (decidedly a post-fascist problem).

The masked militants of Antifa seem to be more inspired by Batman than by Marx or even by Bakunin.

Storm Troopers of the Neoliberal War Party

Since Mark Bray offers European credentials for current U.S. Antifa, it is appropriate to observe what Antifa amounts to in Europe today.

In Europe, the tendency takes two forms. Black Bloc activists regularly invade various leftist demonstrations in order to smash windows and fight the police. These testosterone exhibits are of minor political significance, other than provoking public calls to strengthen police forces. They are widely suspected of being influenced by police infiltration.

As an example, last September 23, several dozen black-clad masked ruffians, tearing down posters and throwing stones, attempted to storm the platform where the flamboyant Jean-Luc Mélenchon was to address the mass meeting of La France Insoumise , today the leading leftist party in France. Their unspoken message seemed to be that nobody is revolutionary enough for them. Occasionally, they do actually spot a random skinhead to beat up. This establishes their credentials as "anti-fascist".

They use these credentials to arrogate to themselves the right to slander others in a sort of informal self-appointed inquisition.

As prime example, in late 2010, a young woman named Ornella Guyet appeared in Paris seeking work as a journalist in various leftist periodicals and blogs. She "tried to infiltrate everywhere", according to the former director of Le Monde diplomatique , Maurice Lemoine, who "always intuitively distrusted her" when he hired her as an intern.

Viktor Dedaj, who manages one of the main leftist sites in France, Le Grand Soir , was among those who tried to help her, only to experience an unpleasant surprise a few months later. Ornella had become a self-appointed inquisitor dedicated to denouncing "conspirationism, confusionism, anti-Semitism and red-brown" on Internet. This took the form of personal attacks on individuals whom she judged to be guilty of those sins. What is significant is that all her targets were opposed to U.S. and NATO aggressive wars in the Middle East.

Indeed, the timing of her crusade coincided with the "regime change" wars that destroyed Libya and tore apart Syria. The attacks singled out leading critics of those wars.

Viktor Dedaj was on her hit list. So was Michel Collon, close to the Belgian Workers Party, author, activist and manager of the bilingual site Investig'action. So was François Ruffin, film-maker, editor of the leftist journal Fakir elected recently to the National Assembly on the list of Mélenchon's party La France Insoumise . And so on. The list is long.

The targeted personalities are diverse, but all have one thing in common: opposition to aggressive wars. What's more, so far as I can tell, just about everyone opposed to those wars is on her list.

The main technique is guilt by association. High on the list of mortal sins is criticism of the European Union, which is associated with "nationalism" which is associated with "fascism" which is associated with "anti-Semitism", hinting at a penchant for genocide. This coincides perfectly with the official policy of the EU and EU governments, but Antifa uses much harsher language.

In mid-June 2011, the anti-EU party Union Populaire Républicaine led by François Asselineau was the object of slanderous insinuations on Antifa internet sites signed by "Marie-Anne Boutoleau" (a pseudonym for Ornella Guyet). Fearing violence, owners cancelled scheduled UPR meeting places in Lyon. UPR did a little investigation, discovering that Ornella Guyet was on the speakers list at a March 2009 Seminar on International Media organized in Paris by the Center for the Study of International Communications and the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University. A surprising association for such a zealous crusader against "red-brown".

In case anyone has doubts, "red-brown" is a term used to smear anyone with generally leftist views – that is, "red" – with the fascist color "brown". This smear can be based on having the same opinion as someone on the right, speaking on the same platform with someone on the right, being published alongside someone on the right, being seen at an anti-war demonstration also attended by someone on the right, and so on. This is particularly useful for the War Party, since these days, many conservatives are more opposed to war than leftists who have bought into the "humanitarian war" mantra.

The government doesn't need to repress anti-war gatherings. Antifa does the job.

The Franco-African comedien Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala, stigmatized for anti-Semitism since 2002 for his tv sketch lampooning an Israeli settler as part of George W. Bush's "Axis of Good", is not only a target, but serves as a guilty association for anyone who defends his right to free speech – such as Belgian professor Jean Bricmont, virtually blacklisted in France for trying to get in a word in favor of free speech during a TV talk show. Dieudonné has been banned from the media, sued and fined countless times, even sentenced to jail in Belgium, but continues to enjoy a full house of enthusiastic supporters at his one-man shows, where the main political message is opposition to war.

Still, accusations of being soft on Dieudonné can have serious effects on individuals in more precarious positions, since the mere hint of "anti-Semitism" can be a career killer in France. Invitations are cancelled, publications refused, messages go unanswered.

In April 2016, Ornella Guyet dropped out of sight, amid strong suspicions about her own peculiar associations.

The moral of this story is simple. Self-appointed radical revolutionaries can be the most useful thought police for the neoliberal war party.

I am not suggesting that all, or most, Antifa are agents of the establishment. But they can be manipulated, infiltrated or impersonated precisely because they are self-anointed and usually more or less disguised.

Silencing Necessary Debate

One who is certainly sincere is Mark Bray, author of The Intifa Handbook . It is clear where Mark Bray is coming from when he writes (p.36-7): " Hitler's 'final solution' murdered six million Jews in gas chambers, with firing squads, through hunger an lack of medical treatment in squalid camps and ghettoes, with beatings, by working them to death, and through suicidal despair. Approximately two out of every three Jews on the continent were killed, including some of my relatives."

This personal history explains why Mark Bray feels passionately about "fascism". This is perfectly understandable in one who is haunted by fear that "it can happen again".

However, even the most justifiable emotional concerns do not necessarily contribute to wise counsel. Violent reactions to fear may seem to be strong and effective when in reality they are morally weak and practically ineffectual.

We are in a period of great political confusion. Labeling every manifestation of "political incorrectness" as fascism impedes clarification of debate over issues that very much need to be defined and clarified.

The scarcity of fascists has been compensated by identifying criticism of immigration as fascism. This identification, in connection with rejection of national borders, derives much of its emotional force above all from the ancestral fear in the Jewish community of being excluded from the nations in which they find themselves.

The issue of immigration has different aspects in different places. It is not the same in European countries as in the United States. There is a basic distinction between immigrants and immigration. Immigrants are people who deserve consideration. Immigration is a policy that needs to be evaluated. It should be possible to discuss the policy without being accused of persecuting the people. After all, trade union leaders have traditionally opposed mass immigration, not out of racism, but because it can be a deliberate capitalist strategy to bring down wages.

In reality, immigration is a complex subject, with many aspects that can lead to reasonable compromise. But to polarize the issue misses the chances for compromise. By making mass immigration the litmus test of whether or not one is fascist, Antifa intimidation impedes reasonable discussion. Without discussion, without readiness to listen to all viewpoints, the issue will simply divide the population into two camps, for and against. And who will win such a confrontation?

A recent survey* shows that mass immigration is increasingly unpopular in all European countries. The complexity of the issue is shown by the fact that in the vast majority of European countries, most people believe they have a duty to welcome refugees, but disapprove of continued mass immigration. The official argument that immigration is a good thing is accepted by only 40%, compared to 60% of all Europeans who believe that "immigration is bad for our country". A left whose principal cause is open borders will become increasingly unpopular.

Childish Violence

The idea that the way to shut someone up is to punch him in the jaw is as American as Hollywood movies. It is also typical of the gang war that prevails in certain parts of Los Angeles. Banding together with others "like us" to fight against gangs of "them" for control of turf is characteristic of young men in uncertain circumstances. The search for a cause can involve endowing such conduct with a political purpose: either fascist or antifascist. For disoriented youth, this is an alternative to joining the U.S. Marines.

American Antifa looks very much like a middle class wedding between Identity Politics and gang warfare. Mark Bray (page 175) quotes his DC Antifa source as implying that the motive of would-be fascists is to side with "the most powerful kid in the block" and will retreat if scared. Our gang is tougher than your gang.

That is also the logic of U.S. imperialism, which habitually declares of its chosen enemies: "All they understand is force." Although Antifa claim to be radical revolutionaries, their mindset is perfectly typical the atmosphere of violence which prevails in militarized America.

In another vein, Antifa follows the trend of current Identity Politics excesses that are squelching free speech in what should be its citadel, academia. Words are considered so dangerous that "safe spaces" must be established to protect people from them. This extreme vulnerability to injury from words is strangely linked to tolerance of real physical violence.

Wild Goose Chase

In the United States, the worst thing about Antifa is the effort to lead the disoriented American left into a wild goose chase, tracking down imaginary "fascists" instead of getting together openly to work out a coherent positive program. The United States has more than its share of weird individuals, of gratuitous aggression, of crazy ideas, and tracking down these marginal characters, whether alone or in groups, is a huge distraction. The truly dangerous people in the United States are safely ensconced in Wall Street, in Washington Think Tanks, in the executive suites of the sprawling military industry, not to mention the editorial offices of some of the mainstream media currently adopting a benevolent attitude toward "anti-fascists" simply because they are useful in focusing on the maverick Trump instead of themselves.

Antifa USA, by defining "resistance to fascism" as resistance to lost causes – the Confederacy, white supremacists and for that matter Donald Trump – is actually distracting from resistance to the ruling neoliberal establishment, which is also opposed to the Confederacy and white supremacists and has already largely managed to capture Trump by its implacable campaign of denigration. That ruling establishment, which in its insatiable foreign wars and introduction of police state methods, has successfully used popular "resistance to Trump" to make him even worse than he already was.

The facile use of the term "fascist" gets in the way of thoughtful identification and definition of the real enemy of humanity today. In the contemporary chaos, the greatest and most dangerous upheavals in the world all stem from the same source, which is hard to name, but which we might give the provisional simplified label of Globalized Imperialism. This amounts to a multifaceted project to reshape the world to satisfy the demands of financial capitalism, the military industrial complex, United States ideological vanity and the megalomania of leaders of lesser "Western" powers, notably Israel. It could be called simply "imperialism", except that it is much vaster and more destructive than the historic imperialism of previous centuries. It is also much more disguised. And since it bears no clear label such as "fascism", it is difficult to denounce in simple terms.

The fixation on preventing a form of tyranny that arose over 80 years ago, under very different circumstances, obstructs recognition of the monstrous tyranny of today. Fighting the previous war leads to defeat.

Donald Trump is an outsider who will not be let inside. The election of Donald Trump is above all a grave symptom of the decadence of the American political system, totally ruled by money, lobbies, the military-industrial complex and corporate media. Their lies are undermining the very basis of democracy. Antifa has gone on the offensive against the one weapon still in the hands of the people: the right to free speech and assembly.

Notes.

* "Où va la démocratie?", une enquête de la Fondation pour l'innovation politique sous la direction de Dominique Reynié, (Plon, Paris, 2017).

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

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addressing this issue is ground zero for any meaningful change.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Absolutely terrified.

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

@alexander

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's cringe-worthy.

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

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

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

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

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

The Elites "Have No Credibility Left"

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

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

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

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

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

Arrrgggghhhh!!! Jefferson again.:

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

Thomas Jefferson to John Norvell, 14 June 1807

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Elites "Have No Credibility Left"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

DN: It goes the other way too?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get a grip.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Oct 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] How Billionaires become Billionaires - The Unz Review

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

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

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

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

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

Workers and Bosses: Mortality Rates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consequences of Inequalities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://nobillionairescom.dotster.com/

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

https://youtu.be/qI5lC4Z_T80

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Oct 05, 2017] "Die" The Unlimited Radicalism Of Antifa by

Alt-left paramilitaries remind me Bolsheviks armed squads, the underground, militant part of the party.
Notable quotes:
"... Independence Day, ..."
"... Of course, most Establishment conservatives were using the term " Alt " as simply a synonym for "bad." And their typical criticism of the black-clad thugs was that they were "the real fascists ." ..."
"... America: Imagine A World Without Her , ..."
"... CounterCurrents, ..."
"... It argues the entire debate about fascism and "anti-fascism" is essentially backwards: Fascism arose as a reaction to the Communist revolution in Russia and the attempted Communist revolutions in Hungary, Slovakia and parts of Germany: ..."
"... "Without communist revolution and without the vanguard leftist parties that launched those revolutions, there would have been no reason for fascism ever to exit," the anonymous author writes. "Essentially, the communist revolutionaries and their 'direct action' tactics had created their own nemesis capable of defeating them in the streets and willing to compete with them for the loyalty of the workers. ..."
"... Homage To Catalonia ..."
"... Antifa: What Americans Need To Know About The Alt-Left ..."
"... No Pasarán! ..."
"... Antifa: What Americans Need To Know About The Alt-Left ..."
"... Just as every Communist regime has always violently targeted " wreckers " to explain policy failures, so must Antifa target ever increasing number of "fascists" as the impossible (and undesirable) goal of "equality" remains forever over the horizon. ..."
"... In any event, this is not "Weimar America". We are in the process of losing two or three colonial wars (a good thing) but most of the people in the US don't even really notice we are involved in those wars. It's not like Germany losing WWI and then suffering a million starvation deaths from the British blockade. But let's see what happens November 4, shall we? I'm expecting saturation media coverage but not much else. ..."
Oct 03, 2017 | www.unz.com

In the alien invasion movie Independence Day, the beleaguered President of the United States, hoping he can forge some kind of a peace which will at least allow the survival of the human race, pleads, "What is it you want us to do?" The alien 's response is simple. "Die."

The mind of a rational person rebels at the suggestion of such an unlimited, existential conflict. After all, reasonable people should always be able to come to some kind of a compromise, some settlement which will avoid violence and chaos. But there are some people who cannot be reasoned with, whose objectives are so unlimited and irrational that not only compromise, but co-existence with them is impossible.

Americans face such an existential threat in the form of the Leftist vigilante group that calls itself AntiFa. And now American have the first examination of the so-called "anti-fascists" from a patriot perspective in a new book basically orthodox conservative website WND, the book oddly lists no author).

Antifa have been plaguing immigration patriots for many years. But it's only recently that the average American has become aware of their existence. The attacks on Trump supporters during and after the presidential campaign has made Americans aware of what the president eventually termed the " Alt-Left. "

Of course, most Establishment conservatives were using the term " Alt " as simply a synonym for "bad." And their typical criticism of the black-clad thugs was that they were "the real fascists ." The huckster Dinesh D'Souza has built an entire career in presenting this alternate history to the gullible and well-meaning [ America: Imagine A World Without Her , by Gregory Hood, CounterCurrents, July 17, 2017].

Structured as a "Special Report," Antifa rejects this Conservatism Inc. cliché and provides an accurate history of the rise of fascism as well as anti-fascism. It argues the entire debate about fascism and "anti-fascism" is essentially backwards: Fascism arose as a reaction to the Communist revolution in Russia and the attempted Communist revolutions in Hungary, Slovakia and parts of Germany:

"Without communist revolution and without the vanguard leftist parties that launched those revolutions, there would have been no reason for fascism ever to exit," the anonymous author writes. "Essentially, the communist revolutionaries and their 'direct action' tactics had created their own nemesis capable of defeating them in the streets and willing to compete with them for the loyalty of the workers.

... ... ...

"Anti-fascism," as the author details, has been a remarkably consistent slogan of the Totalitarian Left in all its manifestations. From the Berlin Wall (the "Anti Fascist Protection Rampart ") to the British "Anti Nazi League" (a creation of the Socialist Workers Party), this Left (including left-anarchists such as the " autonomists ") always frames itself as the only defense against "fascism." Of course, by "fascists," it means everyone else in the world.

Given current events, it's worth noting most of Orwell's Homage To Catalonia is about the vicious infighting between various Spanish leftist factions, all ostensibly at war with Francisco Franco. And as Antifa: What Americans Need To Know About The Alt-Left points out, Spanish Republican heroine Dolores Ibarruri, who famously utilized the Antifa No Pasarán! slogan during the Battle for Madrid , was a Stalinist who thoroughly approved of the bloody purges against Trotskyists and anarchists because she claimed they were "fascists."

Indeed, Antifa: What Americans Need To Know About The Alt-Left is a critical warning to every American, not just conservatives, that they are all being targeted by Antifa. Just as every Communist regime has always violently targeted " wreckers " to explain policy failures, so must Antifa target ever increasing number of "fascists" as the impossible (and undesirable) goal of "equality" remains forever over the horizon.

... ... ...

Jim Christian > , October 4, 2017 at 12:18 pm GMT

Pretty slick. TPTB turned Occupy Wall Street into an anti-Alt.Right terror group which allows Wall Street to go about their thievery without examination by their former tormentors. Most are Bernie supporters, but Hillary's "people" are sprinkled in, too. Antifa is vile, hooded, violent and protected by police departments all over the country for pretty much anything they want to do and whatever crimes they wish to commit.

All their protest years ago against the thievery Wall Street, the banks, especially the IMF and World Bank commits is over. Protests against the endless wars, over. They are now reassigned the task of terrorizing the campuses, Republican events and gatherings.

Which means, they were only ever a terror group and it doesn't and never did matter the who or the why, only the "when", as directed. Well done, banks and Wall Street. Well done.

Talha > , October 4, 2017 at 3:47 pm GMT

@Jim Christian

Hey Jim,

Very interesting take. That would be an incredibly masterful strategic move if what you say is true. And you are right – the Occupy movement seems to have done a complete about face.

Peace.

Achmed E. Newman > , Website October 4, 2017 at 8:58 pm GMT

First of all, another great article, Mr. Kirkpatrick, with some truth you don't hear very much. I just read Mr. Gleimhart's comment, but I am still surprised that World Net Daily wrote some of this. I used to read a few articles on their site a decade ago or so, and they seemed like a branch office of Conservative, Inc.

Another reason I'm glad to see the word "Communist" in use here, along with those comparisons to the commies of yesteryear is this: It seems like many of the alt-righters, here and elsewhere, are always bringing up points about using the "correct" terms for these antifa people. "No, they are not Communists. They don't even know what Marxism is. No, 'Cultural Marxism" is the wrong term.", etc. Many think calling these people Communists is just out-of-date Cold-War-era stuff, and we are hold-outs from a different era. They never think about the fact that we won the EXTERNAL Cold War, but have been almost completely defeated in the INTERNAL Cold War.

I don't know all the local history of a century ago, but I kind of wonder if most of the Commies of old didn't really give a rat's ass about Karl Marx either. Sure, the useful idiots didn't, but I think even some of the bigger shots did not really care what it was all about in principle. Like the antifa violent clueless morons of today, they just want to gain power and stuff. Hard work, diligence, and morals are just too much effort for them.

The tactics of the antifa very much resemble those of the people the brownshirts formed up to fight in the streets back then, like rhyming history. Those brownshirts were derided for using the same tactics, fighting fire with fire. If you're a Commie, you can't have that. I don't know how it will go down here – America is laid out much differently geographically, economically, and politically, but mainly, we have lots more guns. More here on these new Commies.

Kirt > , October 4, 2017 at 10:10 pm GMT

Sounds like an interesting book and a valid analysis. That said, the Antifa is far from being an existential threat to the country or even especially terrifying unless you happen to be caught in the middle of a bunch of them.

Communist street action and terrorism was far more widespread in the US during the late 1960′s and early '70′s. The apparent desire of many on the right to recruit Vegas shooter Paddock for the Antifa is the strange mirror image of the desire of the Daesh jihadists to recruit him for themselves.

Without Paddock, I don't think the Antifa have taken even one life. Now maybe Paddock will turn out to be Antifa or something pretty close to that but I think we need a bit more evidence than an Asian girlfriend.

In any event, this is not "Weimar America". We are in the process of losing two or three colonial wars (a good thing) but most of the people in the US don't even really notice we are involved in those wars. It's not like Germany losing WWI and then suffering a million starvation deaths from the British blockade. But let's see what happens November 4, shall we? I'm expecting saturation media coverage but not much else.

Logan > , October 5, 2017 at 5:43 am GMT

Pretty much true.

However, I'd like to point out that antifa is a threat to the US in the same sense as Islamism is a threat to western civilization. Both movements do not of themselves begin to have enough power to destroy their enemies. Their only real advantage is that their enemies appear to be determined to commit suicide.

Wally > , October 5, 2017 at 5:45 am GMT

Undercover video shows Democrat "operatives" admitting they incited violence at Trump rallies.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-17/caught-tape-clinton-funded-democrat-operatives-inciting-anarchy-trump-rallies

Logan > , October 5, 2017 at 6:01 am GMT

@Achmed E. Newman First of all, another great article, Mr. Kirkpatrick, with some truth you don't hear very much. I just read Mr. Gleimhart's comment, but I am still surprised that World Net Daily wrote some of this. I used to read a few articles on their site a decade ago or so, and they seemed like a branch office of Conservative, Inc.

Another reason I'm glad to see the word "Communist" in use here, along with those comparisons to the commies of yesteryear is this: It seems like many of the alt-righters, here and elsewhere, are always bringing up points about using the "correct" terms for these antifa people. "No, they are not Communists. They don't even know what Marxism is. No, 'Cultural Marxism" is the wrong term.", etc. Many think calling these people Communists is just out-of-date Cold-War-era stuff, and we are hold-outs from a different era. They never think about the fact that we won the EXTERNAL Cold War, but have been almost completely defeated in the INTERNAL Cold War.

I don't know all the local history of a century ago, but I kind of wonder if most of the Commies of old didn't really give a rat's ass about Karl Marx either. Sure, the useful idiots didn't, but I think even some of the bigger shots did not really care what it was all about in principle. Like the antifa violent clueless morons of today, they just want to gain power and stuff. Hard work, diligence, and morals are just too much effort for them.

The tactics of the antifa very much resemble those of the people the brownshirts formed up to fight in the streets back then, like rhyming history. Those brownshirts were derided for using the same tactics, fighting fire with fire. If you're a Commie, you can't have that. I don't know how it will go down here - America is laid out much differently geographically, economically, and politically, but mainly, we have lots more guns. More here on these new Commies. This is all perhaps an argument over semantics, but I suggest that there is very little indeed that is Marxist about antifa, at least if by "Marxist" you mean "follower of the teachings of Karl Marx."

Marx built a very well-developed ideology. But among its absolutely key points were the unimportance of any divisions between people other than socio-economic ones, the critical importance of "ownership of the means of production," and the dialectic process of society advancing with scienticfic inevitability toward a bright and equal future. Embedded in this was of course an antagonism towards capitalism and western civilization.

Antifa, to the degree it has an identifiable ideology as opposed to simply being oppositionist, has completely thrown overboard the first three points I mentioned, while continuing to follow the last two and no doubt other aspects of the original doctrines of Marx.

Antifa pretty much ignores socio-economic class, being apparently down with the moguls of Google and Facebook because they are also anti-white. The divisions they are trying to exploit are instead racial/ethnic and sexual/gender. Identity politics is about as inherently contradictory to what Marx taught as anything that can be imagined.

Antifa, and the Left in general, isn't interested in owning or running the means of production, that would be far too much like actual work. They'd much rather create dicta as to how the owners/managers of the MOP will operate, leaving them to figure out how to comply, and also tax the bejeebers out of them to pay for their programs.

From what I can see there is nothing at all left in antifa and the left in general of a belief in the dialectic, the absolute core of Marxism as such.

I will cheerfully agree that antifa is descended in a direct line from Marx and Lenin. It just seems that at some point a movement can have diverged so much from what was taught by its founder that it starts to seem silly to call it by the original name. For instance, Christianity was originally a Jewish heresy. But nobody calls Christianity a Jewish sect any longer. It used to be, but it isn't any more.

Or, possibly I'm being over-precise.

Mark Green > , October 5, 2017 at 6:44 am GMT

Kirkpatrick slams another home run. The aggressive, totalitarian nature of Antifa must not be taken lightly. Kirkpatrick makes this abundantly clear. But the sympathetic coverage that this thug-left movement gets from the MSM is an outrage.

Kirkpatrick reminds us also that 'fascism' (which emerged in Italy in the 1920s) was a populist bulwark against the most aggressive and murderous political movement in human history: revolutionary communism. Indeed, without the bloodletting impact of international communism, fascism might never have arisen.

It's also worth noting that the infamous crimes now associated with fascism and Naziism occurred only during the final three years of the most brutal (on all sides) military conflict in world history (WWII).

Communist extremism and communist atrocities however preceded fascism and they have outlived fascism. Far Left extremism remains a growing and permutating movement. Yet it often gets sympathetic news coverage; despite the fact that communism has not only claimed far more lives than fascism, but has commonly erupted even during times of peace. As a 'utopian' ideology, communism has been an unmatched global disaster.

Indeed, in the name of equality, commies murdered tens of millions of civilians in the 20th century alone. Yet unlike the defeated Nazis, only a handful of the commie perpetrators responsible for these crimes have ever been brought to justice. Even their reputations remain, in some cases, largely untarnished.

True to form, today's generation of politically-correct extremists (and their sympathizers) have successfully infiltrated American classrooms, courts, and our 'mainstream' media. These operatives foment discord guilt-free, often using their powerful positions to disparage and humiliate populist 'deplorables'.

Today, Antifa's street warriors are ready and waiting to violently deny the right of Free Speech to their political opponents as they simultaneously unleash premeditated, physical attacks. This is pure, unadulterated totalitarianism.

The rise of Antifa represent a real and growing threat to civil discourse and political liberty.

Seamus Padraig > , October 5, 2017 at 7:42 am GMT

Republican heroine Dolores Ibarruri was a Stalinist who thoroughly approved of the bloody purges against Trotskyists and anarchists because she claimed they were "fascists."

The purging of the (((Trotskyites))) is actually a pretty good reason to respect Stalin.

alexander > , October 5, 2017 at 8:10 am GMT

@Jim Christian Pretty slick. TPTB turned Occupy Wall Street into an anti-Alt.Right terror group which allows Wall Street to go about their thievery without examination by their former tormentors. Most are Bernie supporters, but Hillary's "people" are sprinkled in, too. Antifa is vile, hooded, violent and protected by police departments all over the country for pretty much anything they want to do and whatever crimes they wish to commit. All their protest years ago against the thievery Wall Street, the banks, especially the IMF and World Bank commits is over. Protests against the endless wars, over. They are now reassigned the task of terrorizing the campuses, Republican events and gatherings.

Which means, they were only ever a terror group and it doesn't and never did matter the who or the why, only the "when", as directed.

Well done, banks and Wall Street. Well done. Good points Jim,

It says something to me that the "Antifa" manifesto, or "explique" has no author attached to it.

None.

I wonder who the mega donors are, who are nursing this baby ..don't you ?

There was , on the other hand, enormous legitimacy to the Occupy Movement. as there was enormous legitimacy to the Antiwar Movement.

There was, and is, enormous legitimacy to Bernie Sanders salient comment that too much of our nation's wealth has migrated into the hands of a very few billionaire oligarchs, and our middle class is vanishing.

The vanishing wealth of the middle class has substantially drained its political power and consequently, the right to control its own destiny. Nothing proved this point more then when the oligarchs, displaying their utter contempt for the peoples say, simply "gifted " the DNC nomination to Queen Hillary.

Antifa, at first blush, does not give two sh#ts about any of this, it seems hollow to the core right out of the gate. Which, I imagine, is why Big Media has given it such a warm welcome.

Randal > , October 5, 2017 at 8:24 am GMT

As "Anti-fascism" quite explicitly defines itself as anti-liberal (in the classical sense of liberalism), repudiates the right to free speech and takes upon itself the responsibility to enforce though violence a remarkably narrow definition of what people can and cannot say, it is of course quintessentially totalitarian.

Exactly so. It's the street manifestation of the basic violent intolerance inherent in the modern left, and of the self-righteous arrogance of the crusading antifascist/anti-racist/anti-anti-Semite/anti-homophobe (etc etc.), that is visible everywhere in modern political discourse.

Threats of violence and expressions of wishes for suffering to be imposed on those they disagree with are commonplace from such people, from the "antiracist" academic calling for "white genocide" to the directly menacing abuse and actual physical violence ("it's ok to punch a fascist") directed at those who breach the taboos of the left, and routinely unpunished by any legal process despite the supposed modern politically correct concern to use the law to punish any kind of "offence" or "hatred" directed at special categories of victim.

Greg Bacon > , Website October 5, 2017 at 9:53 am GMT

What's Antifa got planned for us deplorables?

The "Resources" page of the group's website offers a number of publications that promote violence, including a 36-page manual called the "Mini-Manual of the Urban Guerrilla," which advises readers on how to conduct urban warfare, with sections on "sabotage," "kidnapping," "executions," and even "terrorism."

https://conservativepost.com/this-antifa-manual-was-recovered-from-charlottesvill/

Terrorism like what happened in Las Vegas?

AMAZON has a number of these pro-Antifa books, preaching hate and overthrowing the govt using any means necessary. Guess promoting hate and violence is OK with AMAZON, just don't ask any questions about WW II.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_6?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=antifa&sprefix=Antifa%2Cstripbooks%2C226&crid=OJDJN72GWI3I

Jim Christian > , October 5, 2017 at 11:11 am GMT

@alexander

I wonder who the mega donors are, who are nursing this baby ..don't you ?

Man, follow the donor-tree from Soros down through dozens of organizations, NGOs, the Clinton Foundation, the Global Initiative, and offshoots from all of these, to boot. They churn. And, I have to figure there are briefcases full of cash fronting riots and contrived horseshit like Charlottesville. If a stat that says the kill ratio is 18:1 cops:perps, so I'm not sure what #blacklivesmatter is but B/S. Yet, it lives on, with lots of franchisees out there, waiting. I expect marches throughout the season when the cold weather subsides with trouble clear to the election and trust me, the good folks at Antifa and #blm will be there. Well, who feeds them? These aren't brain surgeons, these peeps. Where do they sleep when they're in town? Who has their weapons and masks and transportation lined up when they get there? For added fun, like in Charlottesville and elsewhere, fringes, local Blacks, playing the #blm card, will be niggling at the edges, robbing the Whites trying to get out of a scuffle. Funny: more virtue-signaling Antifa Whites got robbed than Unite-Right Whites. Funnier: These guys, after they robbed them, they pulled off their pants and left them in the alley sans wallet, keys, phone and britches. It's unbelievaboo.

Antifa. #blacklivesmatter. Friends of Soros and Democrat-based NGOs worldwide! And, fun for the whole family! Come on down!

Buba Zanetti > , October 5, 2017 at 12:38 pm GMT

Antifa is one part of myriad of internal contradictions beginning to tear the United States apart...

helena > , October 5, 2017 at 2:20 pm GMT

@Mark Green Yes but how do we tackle it? The British youth have fallen for it and are ostracising other youth who haven't, it's a wholesale cultural collapse achieved by holding festival-style protests, controlling people through reward and punishment, and promising hand outs, which the country cannot afford.

Young people are being brainwashed into accepting a massive loan with an undeclared interest rate.

c matt > , October 5, 2017 at 2:51 pm GMT

@alexander The only reason any politician give's a rat's behind about the middle class is because it is the tax cash cow. I have yet to see any tax reform for the middle class actually lower the taxes on the middle class. Whether GOP or Dem, as soon as they say "middle class tax cut" get ready for the middle class to take it up the a$$.

densa > , October 5, 2017 at 3:57 pm GMT

Great article and comments. The far left organization known as anti-fa meets the definition of domestic terrorism, yet they remain untroubled, as far as we know, by DHS or even many local police. But even more troubling is that without the media's collusion, they would never have become the force they are now.

Consider the NFL kneeling issue. This was to support BLM. When it was seen as disrespecting the flag the NFL's solution was to make it about freedom of speech and stand but link arms to show "solidarity" with BLM. But done once, when will it stop? Do the players plan on continuing to show solidarity throughout the season? What about next year? After you've been bullied into obeying anti-fa, at what point can these sympathizers say it's enough? Thus, the national anthem has been hijacked from being about national unity to being a symbol of our continued submission to political extremists.

They want to destroy us, by that I mean white America, and a shockingly large number of whites are good with that. Meeting their demands only results in new demands. Reparations are a goal, but no doubt by the time we get there that won't be enough either.

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

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

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

@Chris Chuba

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

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

The pattern goes like this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2013 in Review

January

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

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

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

March

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

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

April

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

May

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

June

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

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

July

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

September

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

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

October

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

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

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

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

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

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

November

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

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

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

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

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

December

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

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

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

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

Historians on Trial

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

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

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

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

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

Real Prison Sentences

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

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

Politicians on Trial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Censored Books

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

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

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

Stage Show Blocked

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would it solve or worsen problems if they reintroduced dueling ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 04, 2017 | www.unz.com


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

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

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

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

excerpts..

The Making of a "Peril"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Randal > ,

October 4, 2017 at 4:51 pm GMT

@Clay Bishop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@Randal


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

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

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

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

I'm glad your insightful comment was recognized as such

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

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

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

[Oct 01, 2017] Goodbye, American neoliberalism. A new era is here by Cornel West

Notable quotes:
"... The Bush and Clinton dynasties were destroyed by the media-saturated lure of the pseudo-populist billionaire with narcissist sensibilities and ugly, fascist proclivities. The monumental election of Trump was a desperate and xenophobic cry of human hearts for a way out from under the devastation of a disintegrating neoliberal order – a nostalgic return to an imaginary past of greatness. ..."
"... This lethal fusion of economic insecurity and cultural scapegoating brought neoliberalism to its knees. In short, the abysmal failure of the Democratic party to speak to the arrested mobility and escalating poverty of working people unleashed a hate-filled populism and protectionism that threaten to tear apart the fragile fiber of what is left of US democracy. And since the most explosive fault lines in present-day America are first and foremost racial, then gender, homophobic, ethnic and religious, we gird ourselves for a frightening future. ..."
"... In this sense, Trump's election was enabled by the neoliberal policies of the Clintons and Obama that overlooked the plight of our most vulnerable citizens. The progressive populism of Bernie Sanders nearly toppled the establishment of the Democratic party but Clinton and Obama came to the rescue to preserve the status quo. And I do believe Sanders would have beat Trump to avert this neofascist outcome! ..."
"... The neoliberal era in the United States ended with a neofascist bang ..."
"... The white house and congress are now dominated by tea party politicians who worship at the altar of Ayn Rand.....read Breitbart news to see how Thatcher and Reagan are idolised. ..."
"... if you think the era of "neo liberalism" is over, you are in deep denial! ..."
"... The age of Obama was the last gasp of neoliberalism. Despite some progressive words and symbolic gestures, Obama chose to ignore Wall Street crimes, reject bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality and facilitate war crimes like US drones killing innocent civilians abroad. ..."
"... Didn't Obama say to Wall Street ''I'm the only one standing between you and the lynch mob? Give me money and I'll make it all go away''. Then came into office and went we won't prosecute the Banks not Bush for a false war because we don't look back. ..."
"... He did not ignore, he actively, willingly, knowingly protected them. At the end of the day Obama is wolf in sheep's clothing. Exactly like HRC he has a public and a private position. He is a gifted speaker who knows how to say all the right, progressive liberal things to get people to go along much better than HRC ever did. ..."
"... Even when he had the Presidency, House and Senate, he never once introduced any progressive liberal policy. He didn't need Republican support to do it, yet he never even tried. ..."
Nov 17, 2016 | www.theguardian.com

The neoliberal era in the United States ended with a neofascist bang. The political triumph of Donald Trump shattered the establishments in the Democratic and Republican parties – both wedded to the rule of Big Money and to the reign of meretricious politicians.

The Bush and Clinton dynasties were destroyed by the media-saturated lure of the pseudo-populist billionaire with narcissist sensibilities and ugly, fascist proclivities. The monumental election of Trump was a desperate and xenophobic cry of human hearts for a way out from under the devastation of a disintegrating neoliberal order – a nostalgic return to an imaginary past of greatness.

White working- and middle-class fellow citizens – out of anger and anguish – rejected the economic neglect of neoliberal policies and the self-righteous arrogance of elites. Yet these same citizens also supported a candidate who appeared to blame their social misery on minorities, and who alienated Mexican immigrants, Muslims, black people, Jews, gay people, women and China in the process.

This lethal fusion of economic insecurity and cultural scapegoating brought neoliberalism to its knees. In short, the abysmal failure of the Democratic party to speak to the arrested mobility and escalating poverty of working people unleashed a hate-filled populism and protectionism that threaten to tear apart the fragile fiber of what is left of US democracy. And since the most explosive fault lines in present-day America are first and foremost racial, then gender, homophobic, ethnic and religious, we gird ourselves for a frightening future.

What is to be done? First we must try to tell the truth and a condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak. For 40 years, neoliberals lived in a world of denial and indifference to the suffering of poor and working people and obsessed with the spectacle of success. Second we must bear witness to justice. We must ground our truth-telling in a willingness to suffer and sacrifice as we resist domination. Third we must remember courageous exemplars like Martin Luther King Jr, who provide moral and spiritual inspiration as we build multiracial alliances to combat poverty and xenophobia, Wall Street crimes and war crimes, global warming and police abuse – and to protect precious rights and liberties.

Feminists misunderstood the presidential election from day one Liza Featherstone By banking on the idea that women would support Hillary Clinton just because she was a female candidate, the movement made a terrible mistake Read more

The age of Obama was the last gasp of neoliberalism. Despite some progressive words and symbolic gestures, Obama chose to ignore Wall Street crimes, reject bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality and facilitate war crimes like US drones killing innocent civilians abroad.

Rightwing attacks on Obama – and Trump-inspired racist hatred of him – have made it nearly impossible to hear the progressive critiques of Obama. The president has been reluctant to target black suffering – be it in overcrowded prisons, decrepit schools or declining workplaces. Yet, despite that, we get celebrations of the neoliberal status quo couched in racial symbolism and personal legacy. Meanwhile, poor and working class citizens of all colors have continued to suffer in relative silence.

In this sense, Trump's election was enabled by the neoliberal policies of the Clintons and Obama that overlooked the plight of our most vulnerable citizens. The progressive populism of Bernie Sanders nearly toppled the establishment of the Democratic party but Clinton and Obama came to the rescue to preserve the status quo. And I do believe Sanders would have beat Trump to avert this neofascist outcome!

Click and elect: how fake news helped Donald Trump win a real election Hannah Jane Parkinson The 'alt-right' (aka the far right) ensnared the electorate using false stories on social media. But tech companies seem unwilling to admit there's a problem

In this bleak moment, we must inspire each other driven by a democratic soulcraft of integrity, courage, empathy and a mature sense of history – even as it seems our democracy is slipping away.

We must not turn away from the forgotten people of US foreign policy – such as Palestinians under Israeli occupation, Yemen's civilians killed by US-sponsored Saudi troops or Africans subject to expanding US military presence.

As one whose great family and people survived and thrived through slavery, Jim Crow and lynching, Trump's neofascist rhetoric and predictable authoritarian reign is just another ugly moment that calls forth the best of who we are and what we can do.

For us in these times, to even have hope is too abstract, too detached, too spectatorial. Instead we must be a hope, a participant and a force for good as we face this catastrophe.

theomatica -> MSP1984 17 Nov 2016 6:40

To be replaced by a form of capitalism that is constrained by national interests. An ideology that wishes to uses the forces of capitalism within a market limited only by national boundaries which aims for more self sufficiency only importing goods the nation can not itself source.

farga 17 Nov 2016 6:35

The neoliberal era in the United States ended with a neofascist bang.

Really? The white house and congress are now dominated by tea party politicians who worship at the altar of Ayn Rand.....read Breitbart news to see how Thatcher and Reagan are idolised.

That in recent decades middle ground politicians have strayed from the true faith....and now its time to go back - popular capitalism, small government, low taxes.

if you think the era of "neo liberalism" is over, you are in deep denial!

Social36 -> farga 17 Nov 2016 8:33

Maybe, West should have written that we're now in neoliberal, neofascist era!

ForSparta -> farga 17 Nov 2016 14:24

Well in all fairness, Donald Trump (horse's ass) did say he'd 'pump' money into the middle classes thus abandoning 'trickle down'. His plan/ideology is also to increase corporate tax revenues overall by reducing the level of corporation tax -- the aim being to entice corporations to repatriate wealth currently held overseas. Plus he has proposed an infrastructure spending spree, a fiscal stimulus not a monetary one. When you add in tax cuts the middle classes will feel flushed and it is within that demographic that most businesses and hence jobs are created. I think his short game has every chance of doing what he said it would.

SeeNOevilHearNOevil 17 Nov 2016 6:36

The age of Obama was the last gasp of neoliberalism. Despite some progressive words and symbolic gestures, Obama chose to ignore Wall Street crimes, reject bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality and facilitate war crimes like US drones killing innocent civilians abroad.

Didn't Obama say to Wall Street ''I'm the only one standing between you and the lynch mob? Give me money and I'll make it all go away''. Then came into office and went we won't prosecute the Banks not Bush for a false war because we don't look back.

He did not ignore, he actively, willingly, knowingly protected them. At the end of the day Obama is wolf in sheep's clothing. Exactly like HRC he has a public and a private position. He is a gifted speaker who knows how to say all the right, progressive liberal things to get people to go along much better than HRC ever did.

But that lip service is where his progressive views begin and stop. It's the very reason none of his promises never translated into actions and I will argue that he was the biggest and smoothest scam artist to enter the white house who got even though that wholly opposed centre-right policies, to flip and support them vehemently. Even when he had the Presidency, House and Senate, he never once introduced any progressive liberal policy. He didn't need Republican support to do it, yet he never even tried.

ProbablyOnTopic 17 Nov 2016 6:37

I agree with some of this, but do we really have to throw around hysterical terms like 'fascist' at every opportunity? It's as bad as when people call the left 'cultural Marxists'.

LithophaneFurcifera -> ProbablyOnTopic 17 Nov 2016 7:05

True, it's sloganeering that drowns out any nuance, whoever does it. Whenever a political term is coined, you can be assured that its use and meaning will eventually be extended to the point that it becomes less effective at characterising the very groups that it was coined to characterise.

Keep "fascist" for Mussolini and "cultural Marxist" for Adorno, unless and until others show such strong resemblances that the link can't seriously be denied.

I agree about the importance of recognising the suffering of the poor and building alliances beyond, and not primarily defined by, race though.

l0Ho5LG4wWcFJsKg 17 Nov 2016 6:40
Hang about Trump is the embodiment of neo-liberalism. It's neo-liberalism with republican tea party in control. He's not going to smash the system that served him so well, the years he manipulated and cheated, why would he want to change it.
garrylee -> l0Ho5LG4wWcFJsKg 17 Nov 2016 9:38
West's point is that it's beyond Trump's control. The scales have fallen from peoples eyes. They now see the deceit of neo-liberalism. And once they see through the charlatan Trump and the rest of the fascists, they will, hopefully, come to realize the only antidote to neo-liberalism is a planned economy.

Nash25 17 Nov 2016 6:40

This excellent analysis by professor West places the current political situation in a proper historical context.

However, I fear that neo-liberalism may not be quite "dead" as he argues.

Most of the Democratic party's "establishment" politicians, who conspired to sabotage the populist Sanders's campaign, still dominate the party, and they, in turn, are controlled by the giant corporations who fund their campaigns.

Democrat Chuck Schumer is now the Senate minority leader, and he is the loyal servant of the big Wall Street investment banks.

Sanders and Warren are the only two Democratic leaders who are not neo-liberals, and I fear that they will once again be marginalized.

Rank and file Democrats must organize at the local and state level to remove these corrupt neo-liberals from all party leadership positions. This will take many years, and it will be very difficult.


VenetianBlind 17 Nov 2016 6:42

Not sure Neo-Liberalism has ended. All they have done is get rid of the middle man.

macfeegal 17 Nov 2016 6:46

It would seem that there is a great deal of over simplifying going on; some of the articles represent an hysteric response and the vision of sack cloth and ashes prevails among those who could not see that the wheels were coming off the bus. The use of the term 'liberal' has become another buzz word - there are many different forms of liberalism and creating yet another sound byte does little to illuminate anything.

Making appeals to restore what has been lost reflects badly upon the central political parties, with their 30 year long rightward drift and their legacy of sucking up to corporate lobbyists, systems managers, box tickers and consultants. You can't give away sovereign political power to a bunch of right wing quangos who worship private wealth and its accumulation without suffering the consequences. The article makes no contribution (and neither have many of the others of late) to any kind of alternative to either neo-liberalism or the vacuum that has become a question mark with the dark face of the devil behind it.

We are in uncharted waters. The conventional Left was totally discredited by1982 and all we've had since are various forms of modifications of Thatcher's imported American vision. There has been no opposition to this system for over 40 years - so where do we get the idea that democracy has any real meaning? Yes, we can vote for the Greens, or one of the lesser known minority parties, but of course people don't; they tend to go with what is portrayed as the orthodoxy and they've been badly let down by it.

It would be a real breath of fresh air to see articles which offer some kind of analysis that demonstrates tangible options to deal with the multiple crises we are suffering. Perhaps we might start with a consideration that if our political institutions are prone to being haunted by the ghost of the 1930's, the state itself could be seen as part of the problem rather than any solution. Why is it that every other institution is considered to be past its sell by date and we still believe in a phantom of democracy? Discuss.

VenetianBlind -> macfeegal 17 Nov 2016 7:00

I have spent