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

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

Introduction


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Classic Elite theory

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

-- George Gavlin

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

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

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

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

The top twelve classical elite theorists include

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"The Revolt of the Elites" by Christoper Lasch

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

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

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

Here is a couple of insightful reviews from Amazon:

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

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

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

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

caroline miranda "caroline miranda" (los angeles) -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Quiet Coup of Financial Oligarchy by Simon Johnson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revolt of the Rich by Mike Lofgren

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ogmb 09.18.09 at 12:01 pm

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

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

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

But it’s actually even worse than that.

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

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

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

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

Econned

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

kievite:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amorality and psychopathic tendencies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To what extent new transnational elite is monolithic ?

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

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

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

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

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

The problem of degeneration of elite

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

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

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

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

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

Here is one telling comment from Moon of Alabama discussion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crest | Aug 29, 2014 6:26:49 PM | 47 

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

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

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

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


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[May 23, 2017] CIA, the counerstone of the deep state, might have agenda that is readically differrent from the US national interest and reflect agenda of the special interest groups

CIA is actually a state within the state as Church commission revealed and it has an immanent tendency to seek control over "surface state" and media. In other words large intelligence apparatus might well be incompatible with the democratic governance.

"In the long run, the CIA can't deceive the Chinese government without also deceiving, in some way, the American public. This leaves us with an obvious problem: Should we believe anything the CIA says?" [RealClearWorld]. "It's a tough question for a democracy to answer. Trust is built on the tacit agreement that the "bad things" an agency does are good for the country. If the public believes that that is no longer the case – if it believes the agency is acting out of self-interest and not national interest – then the agreement is broken. The intelligence agency is seen as an impediment of the right to national self-determination, a means for the ends of the few."

  1. Huey Long

    RE: Hall of Mirrors/Believing the CIA

    The CIA has a track record of acting out of self interest since its inception and should not be believed.

    That being said, the public is almost completely unaware of the agency's misdeeds. I think the reason folks like Manning, Snowden and Assange are so reviled by the agency is because they are a threat to the CIA's reputation more than anything else.

[May 23, 2017] CIA, the counerstone of the deep state, might have agenda that is readically differrent from the US national interest and reflect agenda of the special interest groups

CIA is actually a state within the state as Church commission revealed and it has an immanent tendency to seek control over "surface state" and media. In other words large intelligence apparatus might well be incompatible with the democratic governance.
www.aim.org

"In the long run, the CIA can't deceive the Chinese government without also deceiving, in some way, the American public. This leaves us with an obvious problem: Should we believe anything the CIA says?" [RealClearWorld]. "It's a tough question for a democracy to answer. Trust is built on the tacit agreement that the "bad things" an agency does are good for the country. If the public believes that that is no longer the case – if it believes the agency is acting out of self-interest and not national interest – then the agreement is broken. The intelligence agency is seen as an impediment of the right to national self-determination, a means for the ends of the few."

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

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

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

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

1) Social media has become a danger to democracy.

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

2) Democratic society must isolate itself from public opinion.

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

3) Russia spies on you.

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

4) America is losing the cyberwar.

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

5) Russia has clever algorithms that America lacks.

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

6) Russia has huge troll farms.

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

7) You must trust mainstream media.

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

8) Russia invaded Ukraine in April 2014 .

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

9) Hillary Clinton did not murder Seth Rich.

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

10) The evidence:

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

[May 22, 2017] The current divisions in Washington seem to turned into the Soviet system under Brezhnev. They dont align with the political parties and the mostly stage-managed elections. The domestic federal bureaucracy, the government contractors, the intelligence surveillance sector, the overseas military, Wall Street, are calling the shots and operate outside election cycle.

Notable quotes:
"... The real relations and divisions in Washington seem to turned into the Soviet system under Brezhnev. They don't align with the political parties and the mostly stage-managed elections anymore. The domestic federal bureaucracy, the government contractors, the intelligence & surveillance sector, the overseas military, Wall Street, they're all playing power-circle games. ..."
"... The nomenklatura were a category of people within the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries who held various key administrative positions in the bureaucracy running all spheres of those countries' activity: government, industry, agriculture, education, etc., whose positions were granted only with approval by the communist party of each country or region. ..."
"... These are the functionaries and apparatchiks of a stagnating system, which is what's been going on in the U.S. for awhile now. Trump was just too much of an outsider to be accepted by the insiders, and his threats to change the status quo led to the current situation. ..."
"... This is exactly how leadership selection in the old Soviet Union went on, too. And Trump is no master of bureaucratic infighting, unlike say, Putin. He's just flailing at this point. ..."
www.moonofalabama.org

nonsense factory | May 18, 2017 4:58:30 PM | 56

Anon

The real relations and divisions in Washington seem to turned into the Soviet system under Brezhnev. They don't align with the political parties and the mostly stage-managed elections anymore. The domestic federal bureaucracy, the government contractors, the intelligence & surveillance sector, the overseas military, Wall Street, they're all playing power-circle games. This is how the system has operated - Cheney ran it under Bush, Clinton ran it under Obama, it's all bureaucractic infighting. If you read about Soviet history you see the same thing:

The nomenklatura were a category of people within the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries who held various key administrative positions in the bureaucracy running all spheres of those countries' activity: government, industry, agriculture, education, etc., whose positions were granted only with approval by the communist party of each country or region.

These are the functionaries and apparatchiks of a stagnating system, which is what's been going on in the U.S. for awhile now. Trump was just too much of an outsider to be accepted by the insiders, and his threats to change the status quo led to the current situation. Pence, they figure, will be far more amenable to control. Even though Trump has been going along with the standard Republican domestic agenda, he's just viewed as too unpredictable for their tastes. This is exactly how leadership selection in the old Soviet Union went on, too. And Trump is no master of bureaucratic infighting, unlike say, Putin. He's just flailing at this point.

I'm not concerned about it though, if the grossly corrupt federal government is locked up with this nonsense for the next four years, that's fine. Perhaps state governments can step up and work together to solve problems while Washington gnaws its own belly, that's about the best we can hope for.

[May 20, 2017] Rosenstein Joins the Posse by Patrick J. Buchanan

After just 100 days in the office Trump already has a special prosecutor.
Notable quotes:
"... Without consulting the White House, he sandbagged President Trump, naming a special counsel to take over the investigation of the Russia connection that could prove ruinous to this presidency. ..."
"... Rod has reinvigorated a tired 10-month investigation that failed to find any collusion between Trump and Russian hacking of the DNC. Not a single indictment had come out of the FBI investigation. ..."
"... Yet, now a new special counsel, Robert Mueller, former director of the FBI, will slow-walk his way through this same terrain again, searching for clues leading to potentially impeachable offenses. What seemed to be winding down for Trump is now only just beginning to gear up. ..."
"... Why did Rosenstein capitulate to a Democrat-media clamor for a special counsel that could prove disastrous for the president who elevated and honored him? Surely in part, as Milbank writes, to salvage his damaged reputation. ..."
"... Rosenstein had gone over to the dark side. He had, it was said, on Trump's orders, put the hit on Comey. Now, by siccing a special counsel on the president himself, Rosenstein is restored to the good graces of this city. Rosenstein just turned in his black hat for a white hat. ..."
"... Democrats are hailing both his decision to name a special counsel and the man he chose. Yet it is difficult to exaggerate the damage he has done. As did almost all of its predecessors, including those which led to the resignation of President Nixon and impeachment of Bill Clinton, Mueller's investigation seems certain to drag on for years. ..."
"... Recall the famous adage that a competent district attorney could successfully indict a ham sandwich. ..."
"... Political trials are infamously witch hunts, and there isn't a witch hunt that couldn't miraculously find any number of witches to burn. ..."
"... One has to hand it to the Democrats. This strategy to get the ruling elite class back in both houses of congress and bring forth a shining night in armour for their next candidate is well crafted. The Clintons messed up the Obama Hope and Change Rhetoric. ..."
"... From the very outset of his presidency, U.S. President D.J. Trump either hired people who were against his presidential campaign all the time of last year or cozied up to perpetual political opponents while distancing himself from the very patriotic people who gave him the electoral college victory last November. ..."
"... Like Pres. Dick Nixon did, U.S. President D.J. Trump will also politically kill himself with one political misstep after another by giving his political opponents whatever they demand until it will be too late to reverse the course. ..."
"... "The real power in this country doesn't reside within the ballot box After months of leaks coming from the intelligence agencies, who bitterly oppose the new policy, and a barrage of innuendo, smears, and character assassination in the media, the will of the people has been abrogated: the Deep State has the last word. The denizens of Langley, and the career spooks within our seventeen intelligence agencies, have exercised their veto power – a power that is not written into the Constitution, but is nevertheless very real. Their goal is to not only make détente with Russia impossible but also to overthrow a democratically elected chief executive No matter what you think of Trump, this is an ominous development for all those who care about the future of our republic What we are witnessing is a "regime-change" operation, such as our intelligence agencies have routinely carried out abroad, right here in the United States This pernicious campaign is an attempt to criminalize dissent from the foreign policy "consensus." It is an effort by powerful groups within the national security bureaucracy, the media, and the military-industrial complex to stamp out any opposition to their program of perpetual war The reign of terror is about to begin: anyone who opposes our interventionist foreign policy is liable to be labeled a "Kremlin tool" – and could face legal sanctions. ..."
"... If Trump wasn't a narcissistic idiot, he could be well on the way to leading a takedown of establishment politics. Should have left Comey in to go nowhere, but Trump is a narcissistic idiot who does not read and his presidency is and will continue to be a miserable failure. Donald J. Trump is a Loser and a Laughingstock, plain and simple. There's nothing to see here. Does he have the ability to do better? Yes. Will he? Doubtful. Firing Comey is not impeachable or even wrong, it's just a blunder of monumental proportions. Trump's continued incompetent "explanations" of the decision raised red flags. This is not Trump Steaks Inc. This is the Presidency of the United States of America. ..."
May 20, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

"With the stroke of a pen, Rod Rosenstein redeemed his reputation," writes Dana Milbank of The Washington Post .

What had Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein done to be welcomed home by the Post like the prodigal son?

Without consulting the White House, he sandbagged President Trump, naming a special counsel to take over the investigation of the Russia connection that could prove ruinous to this presidency.

Rod has reinvigorated a tired 10-month investigation that failed to find any collusion between Trump and Russian hacking of the DNC. Not a single indictment had come out of the FBI investigation.

Yet, now a new special counsel, Robert Mueller, former director of the FBI, will slow-walk his way through this same terrain again, searching for clues leading to potentially impeachable offenses. What seemed to be winding down for Trump is now only just beginning to gear up.

Also to be investigated is whether the president tried to curtail the FBI investigation with his phone calls and Oval Office meetings with FBI Director James Comey, before abruptly firing Comey last week.

Regarded as able and honest, Mueller will be under media pressure to come up with charges. Great and famous prosecutors are measured by whom they convict and how many scalps they take. Moreover, a burgeoning special counsel's office dredging up dirt on Trump and associates will find itself the beneficiary of an indulgent press.

Why did Rosenstein capitulate to a Democrat-media clamor for a special counsel that could prove disastrous for the president who elevated and honored him? Surely in part, as Milbank writes, to salvage his damaged reputation.

After being approved 94-6 by a Senate that hailed him as a principled and independent U.S. attorney for both George Bush and Barack Obama, Rosenstein found himself being pilloried for preparing the document White House aides called crucial to Trump's decision to fire Comey.

Rosenstein had gone over to the dark side. He had, it was said, on Trump's orders, put the hit on Comey. Now, by siccing a special counsel on the president himself, Rosenstein is restored to the good graces of this city. Rosenstein just turned in his black hat for a white hat.

Democrats are hailing both his decision to name a special counsel and the man he chose. Yet it is difficult to exaggerate the damage he has done. As did almost all of its predecessors, including those which led to the resignation of President Nixon and impeachment of Bill Clinton, Mueller's investigation seems certain to drag on for years.

... ... ...

Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever . MORE FROM THIS AUTHOR

Wilfred , says: May 18, 2017 at 9:58 pm
Any way we can get a Special Counsel to investigate Hillary?
Fran Macadam , says: May 18, 2017 at 11:56 pm
Recall the famous adage that a competent district attorney could successfully indict a ham sandwich.

Political trials are infamously witch hunts, and there isn't a witch hunt that couldn't miraculously find any number of witches to burn.

Cal , says: May 18, 2017 at 11:58 pm
Trump set up his own demise -- all the Jews like Rosenstein that he has appointed would really rather have the rabid evangelical Israel supporter Pence as president.
William Dalton , says: May 19, 2017 at 12:23 am
The appointment of former director Mueller to take charge of an investigation too hot for Rosenstein or anyone in his department to file a report on, particularly if no prosecution will be recommended, does not presage this affair will continue interminably. Months of work have already been put into the matter by the FBI. Mueller may arrive, ask those agents for a summary of what they have unearthed, say, "I don't see anything here. Do you think further work by you will uncover more?", and if they respond, "No", Mueller might very well take what he is given, file a report saying no prosecution is warranted, just as Jim Comey did in the Clinton matter, and go home.

The man is retired with honor. He doesn't need to make a name for himself with this or any other case. The last thing he wants to find out is that there is evidence that might result in the impeachment and criminal prosecution of the President of the United States.

StrategyK , says: May 19, 2017 at 2:59 am
Wasnt pat a happy supporter of the special counsel investigating Clinton? Now suddenly he is against such counsels? How about some priciples Mr buchanan?
StrategyK , says: May 19, 2017 at 3:13 am
And here is a hat tip for you aggrieved folks here. Trump brought this on himself. He could have avoided it all by simply letting Comey do his job. If there really is nothing in the Russia story, then Comey would have come up with nothing.

Trump has been used to running a family business all his life and a fake TV show as well where his and only his word runs. That is not how the government functions and nor should it be. What happened to the famous negotiator? The one who could make great deals? Who would learn quickly how to navigate the waters and make things happen. This person seems non existent. Lets see some of that please.

John Gruskos , says: May 19, 2017 at 8:57 am
Justin Raimondo correctly explains the significance of this development:

http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2017/05/18/the-special-counsel-comes-to-town-its-the-moscow-trials-revisited/

Liam , says: May 19, 2017 at 9:16 am
Wall Street swooned *not* because Trump's "populist" agenda is endangered but rather because Alt-Trump's bait-and-switch pro-Wall Street agenda is endangered. That Pat Buchanan cannot distinguish these is stunning to behold.
elizabeth , says: May 19, 2017 at 10:22 am
And if Hillary Clinton had been inaugurated in January, there wouldn't be a dozen Congressional committees pursuing specious investigations, egged on by right wing media? (Even this comment thread carries one such demand, and she is not in office.)

This is one outcome of a poisoned body politic. Roger Ailes was there at the beginning, and we are all sickened by his legacy.

Jack , says: May 19, 2017 at 10:40 am
Unfortunately, Buchanan seems to have ignored the fact that Rosenstein's decision to appoint a special prosecutor was sparked by Trump's precipitous and unnecessary decision to dismiss Comey. It was a foolish decision and now he's paying a price for it.
Dan Green , says: May 19, 2017 at 10:53 am
One has to hand it to the Democrats. This strategy to get the ruling elite class back in both houses of congress and bring forth a shining night in armour for their next candidate is well crafted. The Clintons messed up the Obama Hope and Change Rhetoric.
ukm1 , says: May 19, 2017 at 10:55 am
U.S. President D.J. Trump is himself 100% responsible for the political and legal debacles where he is in now and will be in for any foreseeable future!

From the very outset of his presidency, U.S. President D.J. Trump either hired people who were against his presidential campaign all the time of last year or cozied up to perpetual political opponents while distancing himself from the very patriotic people who gave him the electoral college victory last November.

Like Pres. Dick Nixon did, U.S. President D.J. Trump will also politically kill himself with one political misstep after another by giving his political opponents whatever they demand until it will be too late to reverse the course.

Kurt Gayle , says: May 19, 2017 at 10:57 am
John Gruskos (8:57 a.m.) is right. Justin Raimondo's column today is a "must read":

"The real power in this country doesn't reside within the ballot box After months of leaks coming from the intelligence agencies, who bitterly oppose the new policy, and a barrage of innuendo, smears, and character assassination in the media, the will of the people has been abrogated: the Deep State has the last word. The denizens of Langley, and the career spooks within our seventeen intelligence agencies, have exercised their veto power – a power that is not written into the Constitution, but is nevertheless very real. Their goal is to not only make détente with Russia impossible but also to overthrow a democratically elected chief executive No matter what you think of Trump, this is an ominous development for all those who care about the future of our republic What we are witnessing is a "regime-change" operation, such as our intelligence agencies have routinely carried out abroad, right here in the United States This pernicious campaign is an attempt to criminalize dissent from the foreign policy "consensus." It is an effort by powerful groups within the national security bureaucracy, the media, and the military-industrial complex to stamp out any opposition to their program of perpetual war The reign of terror is about to begin: anyone who opposes our interventionist foreign policy is liable to be labeled a "Kremlin tool" – and could face legal sanctions.

http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2017/05/18/the-special-counsel-comes-to-town-its-the-moscow-trials-revisited/

Bob K. , says: May 19, 2017 at 11:05 am
You tell it like it is, Pat! Once someone has sold his soul to the "dark side" his own reputation with it comes before the welfare of the Nation!
David Smith , says: May 19, 2017 at 11:37 am
What goes around, comes around. The Republicans did the same thing to Bill Clinton. Remember, if you can do it to them, they can do it to you. Be careful about the precedents you set.
Adriana I Pena , says: May 19, 2017 at 11:57 am
Has anyone considered that the opposition from career bureaucrats is due to their past experience as to what works and what doesn't? They can recognize a half-baked plan, concocted by someone who has only a hazy idea of what goes on (the guy who managed to admit that health care was "complicated" after touting on the campaign trail that it was easy). Add to it stubborness and unwillingness to learn, and those bureaucrats may think that they are staring at an accident waiting to happen.

What would you do in their place?

Mac61 , says: May 19, 2017 at 12:18 pm
If Trump wasn't a narcissistic idiot, he could be well on the way to leading a takedown of establishment politics. Should have left Comey in to go nowhere, but Trump is a narcissistic idiot who does not read and his presidency is and will continue to be a miserable failure. Donald J. Trump is a Loser and a Laughingstock, plain and simple. There's nothing to see here.

Does he have the ability to do better? Yes. Will he? Doubtful. Firing Comey is not impeachable or even wrong, it's just a blunder of monumental proportions. Trump's continued incompetent "explanations" of the decision raised red flags.

This is not Trump Steaks Inc. This is the Presidency of the United States of America. He will be held to a higher standard until such time as he realizes he cannot run this world's most powerful country like some sham casino operation he let fall into bankruptcy. And @Cal, this is not a Jewish conspiracy. If you can't see that Trump is an incompetent idiot narcissist, you can't see anything.

[May 16, 2017] Mark Ames: The FBI Has No Legal Charter But Lots of Kompromat

Notable quotes:
"... Today, it seems, the best description of the FBI's main activity is corporate enforcer for the white-collar mafia known as Wall Street. There is an analogy to organized crime, where the most powerful mobsters settled disputes between other gangs of criminals. Similarly, if a criminal gang is robbed by one of its own members, the mafia would go after the guilty party; the FBI plays this role for Wall Street institutions targeted by con artists and fraudsters. Compare and contrast a pharmaceutical company making opiates which is targeted by thieves vs. a black market drug cartel targeted by thieves. In one case, the FBI investigates; in the other, a violent vendetta ensues (such as street murders in Mexico). ..."
"... The FBI executives are rewarded for this service with lucrative post-retirement careers within corporate America – Louis Freeh went to credit card fraudster, MBNA, Richard Mueller to a corporate Washington law firm, WilmerHale, and Comey, before Obama picked him as Director, worked for Lockheed Martin and HSBC (cleaning up after their $2 billion drug cartel marketing scandal) after leaving the FBI in 2005. ..."
"... Some say they have a key role to play in national security and terrorism – but their record on the 2001 anthrax attacks is incredibly shady and suspicious. The final suspect, Bruce Ivins, is clearly innocent of the crime, just as their previous suspect, Steven Hatfill was. Ivins, if still alive, could have won a similar multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit against the FBI. All honest bioweapons experts know this to be true – the perpetrators of those anthrax letters are still at large, and may very well have had close associations with the Bush Administration itself. ..."
"... Comey's actions over the past year are certainly highly questionable, as well. Neglecting to investigate the Clinton Foundation ties to Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments and corporations, particularly things like State Department approval of various arms deals in which bribes may have been paid, is as much a dereliction of duty as neglecting to investigate Trump ties to Russian business interests – but then, Trump has a record of shady business dealings dating back to the 1970s, of strange bankruptcies and bailouts and government sales that the FBI never looked at either. ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Mark Ames, founding editor of the Moscow satirical paper The eXile and co-host of the Radio War Nerd podcast with Gary Brecher (aka John Dolan). Subscribe here . Originally published at The Exiled

I made the mistake of listening to NPR last week to find out what Conventional Wisdom had to say about Trump firing Comey, on the assumption that their standardized Mister-Rogers-on-Nyquil voice tones would rein in the hysteria pitch a little. And on the surface, it did-the NPR host and guests weren't directly shrieking "the world is ending! We're all gonna die SHEEPLE!" the way they were on CNN. But in a sense they were screaming "fire!", if you know how to distinguish the very minute pitch level differences in the standard NPR Nyquil voice.

The host of the daytime NPR program asked his guests how serious, and how "unprecedented" Trump's decision to fire his FBI chief was. The guests answers were strange: they spoke about "rule of law" and "violating the Constitution" but then switched to Trump "violating norms"-and back again, interchanging "norms" and "laws" as if they're synonyms. One of the guests admitted that Trump firing Comey was 100% legal, but that didn't seem to matter in this talk about Trump having abandoned rule-of-law for a Putinist dictatorship. These guys wouldn't pass a high school civics class, but there they were, garbling it all up. What mattered was the proper sense of panic and outrage-I'm not sure anyone really cared about the actual legality of the thing, or the legal, political or "normative" history of the FBI.

For starters, the FBI hardly belongs in the same set with concepts like "constitutional" or " rule of law." That's because the FBI was never established by a law. US Lawmakers refused to approve an FBI bureau over a century ago when it was first proposed by Teddy Roosevelt. So he ignored Congress, and went ahead and set it up by presidential fiat. That's one thing the civil liberties crowd hates discussing - how centralized US political power is in the executive branch, a feature in the constitutional system put there by the holy Founders.

In the late 1970s, at the tail end of our brief Glasnost, there was a lot of talk in Washington about finally creating a legal charter for the FBI -70 years after its founding. A lot of serious ink was spilled trying to transform the FBI from an extralegal secret police agency to something legal and defined. If you want to play archeologist to America's recent history, you can find this in the New York Times' archives, articles with headlines like "Draft of Charter for F.B.I. Limits Inquiry Methods" :

The Carter Administration will soon send to Congress the first governing charter for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The proposed charter imposes extensive but not absolute restrictions on the bureau's employment of controversial investigative techniques, .including the use of informers, undercover agents and covert criminal activity.

The charter also specifies the duties and powers of the bureau, setting precise standards and procedures for the initiation ,and conduct of investigations. It specifically requires the F.B.I. to observe constitutional rights and establishes safeguards against unchecked harassment, break‐ins and other abuses.

followed by the inevitable lament, like this editorial from the Christian Science Monitor a year later, "Don't Forget the FBI Charter". Which of course we did forget-that was Reagan's purpose and value for the post-Glasnost reaction: forgetting. As historian Athan Theoharis wrote , "After 1981, Congress never seriously considered again any of the FBI charter proposals."

The origins of the FBI have been obscured both because of its dubious legality and because of its original political purpose-to help the president battle the all-powerful American capitalists. It wasn't that Teddy Roosevelt was a radical leftist-he was a Progressive Republican, which sounds like an oxymoron today but which was mainstream and ascendant politics in his time. Roosevelt was probably the first president since Andrew Jackson to try to smash concentrated wealth-power, or at least some of it. He could be brutally anti-labor, but so were the powerful capitalists he fought, and all the structures of government power. He met little opposition pursuing his imperial Social Darwinist ambitions outside America's borders-but he had a much harder time fighting the powerful capitalists at home against Roosevelt's most honorable political obsession: preserving forests, parks and public lands from greedy capitalists. An early FBI memo to Hoover about the FBI's origins explains,

"Roosevelt, in his characteristic dynamic fashion, asserted that the plunderers of the public domain would be prosecuted and brought to justice."

According to New York Times reporter Tim Wiener's Enemies: A History of the FBI , it was the Oregon land fraud scandal of 1905-6 that put the idea of an FBI in TR's hyperactive mind. The scandal involved leading Oregon politicians helping railroad tycoon Edward Harriman illegally sell off pristine Oregon forest lands to timber interests, and it ended with an Oregon senator and the state's only two House representatives criminally charged and put on trial-along with dozens of other Oregonians. Basically, they were raping the state's public lands and forests like colonists stripping a foreign country-and that stuck in TR's craw.

TR wanted his attorney general-Charles Bonaparte (yes, he really was a descendant of that Bonaparte)-to make a full report to on the rampant land fraud scams that the robber barons were running to despoil the American West, and which threatened TR's vision of land and forest conservation and parks. Bonaparte created an investigative team from the US Secret Service, but TR thought their report was a "whitewash" and proposed a new separate federal investigative service within Bonaparte's Department of Justice that would report only to the Attorney General.

Until then, the US government had to rely on private contractors like the notorious, dreaded Pinkerton Agency, who were great at strikebreaking, clubbing workers and shooting organizers, but not so good at taking down down robber barons, who happened to also be important clients for the private detective agencies.

In early 1908, Attorney General Bonaparte wrote to Congress asking for the legal authority (and budget funds) to create a "permanent detective force" under the DOJ. Congress rebelled, denouncing it as a plan to create an American okhrana . Democrat Joseph Sherley wrote that "spying on men and prying into what would ordinarily be considered their private affairs" went against "American ideas of government"; Rep. George Waldo, a New York Republican, said the proposed FBI was a "great blow to freedom and to free institutions if there should arise in this country any such great central secret-service bureau as there is in Russia."

So Congress's response was the opposite, banning Bonaparte's DOJ from spending any funds at all on a proposed FBI. Another Congressman wrote another provision into the budget bill banning the DOJ from hiring Secret Service employees for any sort of FBI type agency. So Bonaparte waited until Congress took its summer recess, set aside some DOJ funds, recruited some Secret Service agents, and created a new federal detective bureau with 34 agents. This was how the FBI was born. Congress wasn't notified until the end of 1908, in a few lines in a standard report - "oh yeah, forgot to tell you-the executive branch went ahead and created an American okhrana because, well, the ol' joke about dogs licking their balls. Happy New Year!"

The sordid history of America's extralegal secret police-initially named the Bureau of Investigation, changed to the FBI ("Federal") in the 30's, is mostly a history of xenophobic panic-mongering, illegal domestic spying, mass roundups and plans for mass-roundups, false entrapment schemes, and planting what Russians call "kompromat"- compromising information about a target's sex life-to blackmail or destroy American political figures that the FBI didn't like.

The first political victim of J Edgar Hoover's kompromat was Louis Post, the assistant secretary of labor under Woodrow Wilson. Post's crime was releasing over 1,000 alleged Reds from detention facilities near the end of the FBI's Red Scare crackdown, when they jailed and deported untold thousands on suspicion of being Communists. The FBI's mass purge began with popular media support in 1919, but by the middle of 1920, some (not the FBI) were starting to get a little queasy. A legal challenge to the FBI's mass purges and exiles in Boston ended with a federal judge denouncing the FBI. After that ruling, assistant secretary Louis Post, a 71-year-old well-meaning progressive, reviewed the cases against the last 1500 detainees that the FBI wanted to deport, and found that there was absolutely nothing on at least 75 percent of the cases. Post's review threatened to undo thousands more FBI persecutions of alleged Moscow-controlled radicals.

So one of the FBI's most ambitious young agents, J Edgar Hoover, collected kompromat on Post and his alleged associations with other alleged Moscow-controlled leftists, and gave the file to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives-which promptly announced it would hold hearings to investigate Post as a left subversive. The House tried to impeach Post, but ultimately he defended himself. Post's lawyer compared his political persecutors to the okhrana (Russia, again!): "We in America have sunk to the level of the government of Russia under the Czarist regime," describing the FBI's smear campaign as "even lower in some of their methods than the old Russian officials."

Under Harding, the FBI had a new chief, William Burns, who made headlines blaming the terror bombing attack on Wall Street of 1920 that killed 34 people on a Kremlin-run conspiracy. The FBI claimed it had a highly reliable inside source who told them that Lenin sent $30,000 to the Soviets' diplomatic mission in New York, which was distributed to four local Communist agents who arranged the Wall Street bombing. The source claimed to have personally spoken with Lenin, who boasted that the bombing was so successful he'd ordered up more.

The only problem was that the FBI's reliable source, a Jewish-Polish petty criminal named Wolf Lindenfeld, turned out to be a bullshitter-nicknamed "Windy Linde"-who thought his fake confession about Lenin funding the bombing campaign would get him out of Poland's jails and set up in a comfortable new life in New York.

By 1923, the FBI had thoroughly destroyed America's communist and radical labor movements-allowing it to focus on its other favorite pastime: spying on and destroying political opponents. The FBI spied on US Senators who supported opening diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union: Idaho's William Borah, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee; Thomas Walsh of the Judiciary Committee, and Burton K Wheeler, the prairie Populist senator from Montana, who visited the Soviet Union and pushed for diplomatic relations. Harding's corrupt Attorney General Dougherty denounced Sen. Wheeler as "the Communist leader in the Senate" and "no more a Democrat than Stalin, his comrade in Moscow." Dougherty accused Sen. Wheeler of being part of a conspiracy "to capture, by deceit and design, as many members of the Senate as possible and to spread through Washington and the cloakrooms of Congress a poison gas as deadly as that which sapped and destroyed brave soldiers in the last war."

Hoover, now a top FBI official, quietly fed kompromat to journalists he cultivated, particularly an AP reporter named Richard Whitney, who published a popular book in 1924, "Reds In America" alleging Kremlin agents "had an all-pervasive influence over American institutions; they had infiltrated every corner of American life." Whitney named Charlie Chaplin as a Kremlin agent, along with Felix Frankfurter and members of the Senate pushing for recognition of the Soviet Union. That killed any hope for diplomatic recognition for the next decade.

Then the first Harding scandals broke-Teapot Dome, Veterans Affairs, bribery at the highest rungs. When Senators Wheeler and Walsh opened bribery investigations, the FBI sent agents to the senators' home state to drum up false bribery charges against Sen. Wheeler. The charges were clearly fake, and a jury dismissed the charges. But Attorney General Dougherty was indicted for fraud and forced to resign, as was his FBI chief Burns-but not Burns' underling Hoover, who stayed in the shadows.

"We want no Gestapo or Secret Police. FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail This must stop."

With the Cold War, the FBI became obsessed with homosexuals as America's Fifth Column under Moscow's control. Homosexuals, the FBI believed, were susceptible to Kremlin kompromat-so the FBI collected and disseminated its own kompromat on alleged American homosexuals, supposedly to protect America from the Kremlin. In the early 1950s, Hoover launched the Sex Deviates Program to spy on American homosexuals and purge them from public life. The FBI built up 300,000 pages of files on suspected homosexuals and contacted their employers, local law enforcement and universities to "to drive homosexuals from every institution of government, higher learning, and law enforcement in the nation," according to Tim Weiner's book Enemies. No one but the FBI knows exactly how many Americans' lives and careers were destroyed by the FBI's Sex Deviants Program but Hoover-who never married, lived with his mother until he was 40, and traveled everywhere with his "friend" Clyde Tolson .

In the 1952 election, Hoover was so committed to helping the Republicans and Eisenhower win that he compiled and disseminated a 19-page kompromat file alleging that his Democratic Party rival Adlai Stevenson was gay. The FBI's file on Stevenson was kept in the Sex Deviants Program section-it included libelous gossip, claiming that Stevenson was one of Illinois' "best known homosexuals" who went by the name "Adeline" in gay cruising circles.

In the 1960s, Hoover and his FBI chiefs collected kompromat on the sex lives of JFK and Martin Luther King. Hoover presented some of his kompromat on JFK to Bobby Kennedy, in a concern-trollish way claiming to "warn" him that the president was opening himself up to blackmail. It was really a way for Hoover to let the despised Kennedy brothers know he could destroy them, should they try to Comey him out of his FBI office. Hoover's kompromat on MLK's sex life was a particular obsession of his-he now believed that African-Americans, not homosexuals, posed the greatest threat to become a Kremlin Fifth Column. The FBI wiretapped MLK's private life, collecting tapes of his affairs with other women, which a top FBI official then mailed to Martin Luther King's wife, along with a note urging King to commit suicide.

FBI letter anonymously mailed to Martin Luther King Jr's wife, along with kompromat sex tapes

After JFK was murdered, when Bobby Kennedy ran for the Senate in 1964, he recounted another disturbing FBI/kompromat story that President Johnson shared with him on the campaign trail. LBJ told Bobby about a stack of kompromat files - FBI reports "detailing the sexual debauchery of members of the Senate and House who consorted with prostitutes." LBJ asked RFK if the kompromat should be leaked selectively to destroy Republicans before the 1964 elections. Kennedy recalled,

"He told me he had spent all night sitting up and reading the files of the FBI on all these people. And Lyndon talks about that information and material so freely. Lyndon talks about everybody, you see, with everybody. And of course that's dangerous."

Kennedy had seen some of the same FBI kompromat files as attorney general, but he was totally opposed to releasing such unsubstantiated kompromat-such as, say, the Trump piss files-because doing so would "destroy the confidence that people in the United States had in their government and really make us a laughingstock around the world."

Imagine that.

Which brings me to the big analogy every hack threw around last week, calling Trump firing Comey "Nixonian." Actually, what Trump did was more like the very opposite of Nixon, who badly wanted to fire Hoover in 1971-2, but was too afraid of the kompromat Hoover might've had on him to make the move. Nixon fell out with his old friend and onetime mentor J Edgar Hoover in 1971, when the ailing old FBI chief refused to get sucked in to the Daniel Ellsberg/Pentagon Papers investigation, especially after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the New York Times. Part of the reason Nixon created his Plumbers team of black bag burglars was because Hoover had become a bit skittish in his last year on this planet-and that drove Nixon crazy.

Nixon called his chief of staff Haldeman:

Nixon: I talked to Hoover last night and Hoover is not going after this case [Ellsberg] as strong as I would like. There's something dragging him.

Haldeman: You don't have the feeling the FBI is really pursuing this?

Nixon: Yeah, particularly the conspiracy side. I want to go after everyone. I'm not so interested in Ellsberg, but we have to go after everybody who's a member of this conspiracy.

Hoover's ambitious deputies in the FBI were smelling blood, angling to replace him. His number 3, Bill Sullivan (who sent MLK the sex tapes and suicide note) was especially keen to get rid of Hoover and take his place. So as J Edgar was stonewalling the Daniel Ellsberg investigation, Sullivan showed up in a Department of Justice office with two suitcases packed full of transcripts and summaries of illegal wiretaps that Kissinger and Nixon had ordered on their own staff and on American journalists. The taps were ordered in Nixon's first months in the White House in 1969, to plug up the barrage of leaks, the likes of which no one had ever seen before. Sullivan took the leaks from J Edgar's possession and told the DOJ official that they needed to be hidden from Hoover, who planned to use them as kompromat to blackmail Nixon.

Nixon decided he was going to fire J Edgar the next day. This was in September, 1971. But the next day came, and Nixon got scared. So he tried to convince his attorney general John Mitchell to fire Hoover for him, but Mitchell said only the President could fire J Edgar Hoover. So Nixon met him for breakfast, and, well, he just didn't have the guts. Over breakfast, Hoover flattered Nixon and told him there was nothing more in the world he wanted than to see Nixon re-elected. Nixon caved; the next day, J Edgar Hoover unceremoniously fired his number 3 Bill Sullivan, locking him out of the building and out of his office so that he couldn't take anything with him. Sullivan was done.

The lesson here, I suppose, is that if an FBI director doesn't want to be fired, it's best to keep your kompromat a little closer to your chest, as a gun to hold to your boss's head. Comey's crew already released the piss tapes kompromat on Trump-the damage was done. What was left to hold back Trump from firing Comey? "Laws"? The FBI isn't even legal. "Norms" would be the real reason. Which pretty much sums up everything Trump has been doing so far. We've learned the past two decades that we're hardly a nation of laws, at least not when it comes to the plutocratic ruling class. What does bind them are "norms"-and while those norms may mean everything to the ruling class, it's an open question how much these norms mean to a lot of Americans outside that club.

Huey Long , May 16, 2017 at 2:33 am

Wow, and this whole time I thought the NSA had a kompromat monopoly as they have everybody's porn site search terms and viewing habits on file.

I had no idea the FBI practically invented it!

3.14e-9 , May 16, 2017 at 3:04 am

The Native tribes don't have a great history with the FBI, either.

https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/culture/thing-about-skins/comey-fbi-destructive-history-native-people/

voteforno6 , May 16, 2017 at 6:06 am

Has anyone ever used the FBI's lack of a charter as a defense in court?

Disturbed Voter , May 16, 2017 at 6:42 am

The USA doesn't have a legal basis either, it is a revolting crown colony of the British Empire. Treason and heresy all the way down. Maybe the British need to burn Washington DC again?

Synoia , May 16, 2017 at 9:46 pm

Britain burning DC, and the so call ed "war" of 1812, got no mention in my History Books. Napoleon on the other hand, featured greatly

In 1812 Napoleon was busy going to Russia. That went well.

Ignim Brites , May 16, 2017 at 7:55 am

Wondered how Comey thought he could get away with his conviction and pardon of Sec Clinton. Seems like part of the culture of FBI is a "above and beyond" the law mentality.

Watt4Bob , May 16, 2017 at 7:56 am

Back in the early 1970s a high school friend moved to Alabama because his father was transferred by his employer.

My friend sent a post card describing among other things the fact that Alabama had done away with the requirement of a math class to graduate high school, and substituted a required class called "The Evils of Communism" complete with a text-book written by J. Edgar Hoover; Masters of Deceit.

JMarco , May 16, 2017 at 2:52 pm

In Dallas,Texas my 1959 Civics class had to read the same book. We all were given paperback copies of it to take home and read. It was required reading enacted by Texas legislature.

Watt4Bob , May 16, 2017 at 4:47 pm

So I'd guess you weren't fooled by any of those commie plots of the sixties, like the campaigns for civil rights or against the Vietnamese war.

I can't really brag, I didn't stop worrying about the Red Menace until 1970 or so, that's when I started running into returning vets who mostly had no patience for that stuff.

Carolinian , May 16, 2017 at 8:35 am

We've learned the past two decades that we're hardly a nation of laws, at least not when it comes to the plutocratic ruling class. What does bind them are "norms"

Or as David Broder put it (re Bill Clinton): he came in and trashed the place and it wasn't his place.

It was David Broder's place. Of course the media play a key role with all that kompromat since they are the ones needed to convey it to the public. The tragedy is that even many of the sensible in their ranks such as Bill Moyers have been sucked into the kompromat due to their hysteria over Trump. Ames is surely on point in this great article. The mistake was allowing secret police agencies like the FBI and CIA to be created in the first place.

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 8:37 am

Sorry, my initial reaction was that people who don't know the difference between "rein" and "reign" are not to be trusted to provide reliable information. Recognizing that as petty, I kept reading, and presently found the statement that Congress was not informed of the founding of the FBI until a century after the fact, which seems implausible. If in fact the author meant the end of 1908 it was quite an achievement to write 2008.

Interesting to the extent it may be true, but with few sources, no footnotes, and little evidence of critical editing who knows what that may be?

Carolinian , May 16, 2017 at 9:12 am

Do you even know who Mark Ames is?

Petty .yes.

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 10:08 am

Who he is is irrelevant. I don't take things on faith because "the Pope said" or because Mark Ames said. People who expect their information to be taken seriously should substantiate it.

Bill Smith , May 16, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Yeah, in the first sentence

Interesting article though.

Fiery Hunt , May 16, 2017 at 9:21 am

Yeah, Kathatine, you're right .very petty.

And completely missed the point.

Or worse, you got the point and your best rejection of that point was pointing out a typo.

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 10:13 am

I neither missed the point nor rejected it. I reserved judgment, as I thought was apparent from my comment.

sid_finster , May 16, 2017 at 10:50 am

But Trump is bad. Very Bad.

So anything the FBI does to get rid of him must by definition be ok! Besides, surely our civic-minded IC would never use their power on the Good Guys™!

Right?

JTMcPhee , May 16, 2017 at 9:21 am

Ah yes, the voice of "caution." And such attention to the lack of footnotes, in this day when the curious can so easily cut and paste a bit of salient text into a search engine and pull up a feast of parse-able writings and video, from which they can "judiciously assess" claims and statements. If they care to spend the time, which is in such short supply among those who are struggling to keep up with the horrors and revelations people of good will confront every blinking day

Classic impeachment indeed. All from the height of "academic rigor" and "caution." Especially the "apologetic" bit about "reign" vs "rein." Typos destroy credibility, don't they? And the coup de grass (sic), the unrebuttable "plausibility" claim.

One wonders at the nature of the author's curriculum vitae. One also marvels at the yawning gulf between the Very Serious Stuff I was taught in grade and high school civics and history, back in the late '50s and the '60s, about the Fundamental Nature Of Our Great Nation and its founding fathers and the Beautiful Documents they wrote, on the one hand, and what we mopes learn, through a drip-drip-drip process punctuated occasionally by Major Revelations, about the real nature of the Empire and our fellow creatures

PS: My earliest memory of television viewing was a day at a friend's house - his middle-class parents had the first "set" in the neighborhood, I think an RCA, in a massive sideboard cabinet where the picture tube pointed up and you viewed the "content" in a mirror mounted to the underside of the lid. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5onSwx7_Cn0 The family was watching a hearing of Joe McCarthy's kangaroo court, complete with announcements of the latest number in the "list of known Communists in the State Department" and how Commyanism was spreading like an unstoppable epidemic mortal disease through the Great US Body Politic and its Heroic Institutions of Democracy. I was maybe 6 years old, but that grainy black and white "reality TV" content had me asking "WTF?" at a very early age. And I'd say it's on the commentor to show that the "2008" claim is wrong, by something other than "implausible" as drive-by impeachment. Given the content of the original post, and what people paying attention to all this stuff have a pretty good idea is the general contours of a vast corruption and manipulation.

"Have you stopped beating your wife? Yes or no."

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 10:19 am

It is the author's job to substantiate information, not the reader's. If he thinks his work is so important, why does he not make a better job of it?

Edward , May 16, 2017 at 9:22 pm

I think the MLK blackmail scheme is well-established. Much of the article seems to be based on Tim Wiener's "Enemies: A History of the FBI".

nonsense factory , May 16, 2017 at 11:16 am

Interesting article on the history of the FBI, although the post-Hoover era doesn't get any treatment. The Church Committee hearings on the CIA and FBI, after the exposure of notably Operation CHAOS (early 60s to early 70s) by the CIA and COINTELPRO(late 1950s to early 1970s) by the FBI, didn't really get to the bottom of the issue although some reforms were initiated.

Today, it seems, the best description of the FBI's main activity is corporate enforcer for the white-collar mafia known as Wall Street. There is an analogy to organized crime, where the most powerful mobsters settled disputes between other gangs of criminals. Similarly, if a criminal gang is robbed by one of its own members, the mafia would go after the guilty party; the FBI plays this role for Wall Street institutions targeted by con artists and fraudsters. Compare and contrast a pharmaceutical company making opiates which is targeted by thieves vs. a black market drug cartel targeted by thieves. In one case, the FBI investigates; in the other, a violent vendetta ensues (such as street murders in Mexico).

The FBI executives are rewarded for this service with lucrative post-retirement careers within corporate America – Louis Freeh went to credit card fraudster, MBNA, Richard Mueller to a corporate Washington law firm, WilmerHale, and Comey, before Obama picked him as Director, worked for Lockheed Martin and HSBC (cleaning up after their $2 billion drug cartel marketing scandal) after leaving the FBI in 2005.

Maybe this is legitimate, but this only applies to their protection of the interests of large corporations – as the 2008 economic collapse and aftermath showed, they don't prosecute corporate executives who rip off poor people and middle-class homeowners. Banks who rob people, they aren't investigated or prosecuted; that's just for people who rob banks.

When it comes to political issues and national security, however, the FBI has such a terrible record on so many issues over the years that anything they claim has to be taken with a grain or two of salt. Consider domestic political activity: from the McCarthyite 'Red Scare' of the 1950s to COINTELPRO in the 1960s and 1970s to targeting of environmental groups in the 1980s and 1990s to targeting anti-war protesters under GW Bush to their obsession with domestic mass surveillance under Obama, it's not a record that should inspire any confidence.

Some say they have a key role to play in national security and terrorism – but their record on the 2001 anthrax attacks is incredibly shady and suspicious. The final suspect, Bruce Ivins, is clearly innocent of the crime, just as their previous suspect, Steven Hatfill was. Ivins, if still alive, could have won a similar multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit against the FBI. All honest bioweapons experts know this to be true – the perpetrators of those anthrax letters are still at large, and may very well have had close associations with the Bush Administration itself.

As far as terrorist activities? Many of their low-level agents did seem concerned about the Saudis and bin Laden in the late 1990s and pre-9/11 – but Saudi investigations were considered politically problematic due to "geostrategic relationships with our Saudi allies" – hence people like John O'Neil and Coleen Rowley were sidelined and ignored, with disastrous consequences. The Saudi intelligence agency role in 9/11 was buried for over a decade, as well. Since 9/11, most of the FBI investigations seem to have involved recruiting mentally disabled young Islamic men in sting operations in which the FBI provides everything needed. You could probably get any number of mentally ill homeless people across the U.S., regardless of race or religion, to play this role.

Comey's actions over the past year are certainly highly questionable, as well. Neglecting to investigate the Clinton Foundation ties to Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments and corporations, particularly things like State Department approval of various arms deals in which bribes may have been paid, is as much a dereliction of duty as neglecting to investigate Trump ties to Russian business interests – but then, Trump has a record of shady business dealings dating back to the 1970s, of strange bankruptcies and bailouts and government sales that the FBI never looked at either.

Ultimately, this is because FBI executives are paid off not to investigate Wall Street criminality, nor shady U.S. government activity, with lucrative positions as corporate board members and so on after their 'retirements'. I don't doubt that many of their junior members mean well and are dedicated to their jobs – but the fish rots from the head down.

Andrew Watts , May 16, 2017 at 3:58 pm

As far as terrorist activities? Many of their low-level agents did seem concerned about the Saudis and bin Laden in the late 1990s and pre-9/11 – but Saudi investigations were considered politically problematic due to "geostrategic relationships with our Saudi allies" – hence people like John O'Neil and Coleen Rowley were sidelined and ignored, with disastrous consequences.

The Clinton Administration had other priorities. You know, I think I'll let ex-FBI Director Freeh explain what happened when the FBI tried to get the Saudis to cooperate with their investigation into the bombing of the Khobar Towers.

"That September, Crown Prince Abdullah and his entourage took over the entire 143-room Hay-Adams Hotel, just across from Lafayette Park from the White House, for six days. The visit, I figured, was pretty much our last chance. Again, we prepared talking points for the president. Again, I contacted Prince Bandar and asked him to soften up the crown prince for the moment when Clinton, -- or Al Gore I didn't care who -- would raise the matter and start to exert the necessary pressure."

"The story that came back to me, from "usually reliable sources," as they say in Washington, was that Bill Clinton briefly raised the subject only to tell the Crown Prince that he certainly understood the Saudis; reluctance to cooperate. Then, according to my sources, he hit Abdullah up for a contribution to the still-to-be-built Clinton presidential library. Gore, who was supposed to press hardest of all in his meeting with the crown Prince, barely mentioned the matter, I was told." -Louis J. Freeh, My FBI (2005)

In my defense I picked the book up to see if there was any dirt on the DNC's electoral funding scandal in 1996. I'm actually glad I did. The best part of the book is when Freeh recounts running into a veteran of the Lincoln Brigade and listens to how Hoover's FBI ruined his life despite having broken no laws. As if a little thing like laws mattered to Hoover. The commies were after our precious bodily fluids!

verifyfirst , May 16, 2017 at 12:53 pm

I'm not sure there are many functioning norms left within the national political leadership. Seemed to me Gingrich started blowing those up and it just got worse from there. McConnell not allowing Garland to be considered comes to mind

lyman alpha blob , May 16, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Great article – thanks for this. I had no idea the FBI never had a legal charter – very enlightening.

JMarco , May 16, 2017 at 2:59 pm

Thanks to Mark Ames now we know what Pres. Trump meant when he tweeted about his tapes with AG Comey. Not some taped conversation between Pres. Trump & AG Comey but bunch of kompromat tapes that AG Comey has provided Pres. Trump that might not make departing AG Comey looked so clean.

[May 16, 2017] The Real Meaning of Sensitive Intelligence by Philip Giraldi

Notable quotes:
"... what astonished me was how quickly the media interpreted its use in the hearings to mean that the conversations and emails that apparently were recorded or intercepted involving Trump associates and assorted Russians as "sensitive contacts" meant that they were necessarily inappropriate, dangerous, or even illegal. ..."
"... The Post is unfortunately also providing ISIS with more information than it "needs to know" to make its story more dramatic, further compromising the source. ..."
"... McMaster described the report as "false" and informed the Post that "The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation. At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly." Tillerson commented that "the nature of specific threats were (sic) discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods, or military operations." ..."
"... The media will no doubt be seeking to magnify the potential damage done while the White House goes into damage control mode. ..."
"... In this case, the intelligence shared with Lavrov appears to be related to specific ISIS threats, which may include planned operations against civilian aircraft, judging from Trump's characteristically after-hours tweets defending his behavior, as well as other reporting. ..."
"... The New York Times , in its own reporting of the story, initially stated that the information on ISIS did not come from an NSA or CIA operation, and later reported that the source was Israel. ..."
"... And President Trump has one more thing to think about. No matter what damage comes out of the Lavrov discussion, he has a bigger problem. There are apparently multiple leakers on his National Security Council. ..."
"... You have McMaster himself who categorically denies any exposure of sources and methods – he was there in person and witness to the talks – and a cloud of unknown witnesses not present speculating, without reference to McMaster or Tillerson's testimony, about what might have happened. This is the American Media in a nutshell, the Infinite Circle Jerk. ..."
"... I am more disturbed how this story got into the press. While, not an ally, I think we should in cooperation with other states. Because the Pres is not familiar with the protocols and language and I doubt any executive has been upon entering office, I have no doubt he may be reacting or overreacting to the overreaction of others. ..."
"... Here's a word. We have no business engaging n the overthrow of another government that is no threat to the US or her allies, and that includes Israel. Syria is not. And we should cease and desist getting further entangled in the messes of the previous executive, his Sec of State and those organizations who seem to e playing with the life blood of the US by engaging if unnecessary risks. ..."
"... And if I understand the crumbs given the data provided by the Post, the Times and this article, if one had ill will for the source of said information, they have pretty good idea where to start. ..."
"... In general I agree with you, but the media was NEVER concerned about the treatment of sensitive material from HRC! ..."
"... I think he needs to cut back on intelligence sharing with Israel. They do just what the hell they want to do with anything. ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Intelligence agencies and senior government officials tend to use a lot of jargon. Laced with acronyms, this language sometimes does not translate very well into journalese when it hits the media.

For example, I experienced a sense of disorientation two weeks ago over the word "sensitive" as used by several senators, Sally Yates, and James Clapper during committee testimony into Russiagate. "Sensitive" has, of course, a number of meanings. But what astonished me was how quickly the media interpreted its use in the hearings to mean that the conversations and emails that apparently were recorded or intercepted involving Trump associates and assorted Russians as "sensitive contacts" meant that they were necessarily inappropriate, dangerous, or even illegal.

When Yates and Clapper were using "sensitive" thirteen times in the 86 page transcript of the Senate hearings, they were referring to the medium rather than the message. They were both acknowledging that the sources of the information were intelligence related, sometimes referred to as "sensitive" by intelligence professionals and government insiders as a shorthand way to describe that they are "need to know" material derived from either classified "methods" or foreign-liaison partners. That does not mean that the information contained is either good or bad or even true or false, but merely a way of expressing that the information must be protected because of where it came from or how it was developed, hence the "sensitivity."

The word also popped up this week in a Washington Post exclusive report alleging that the president had, in his recent meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, gone too far while also suggesting that the source of a highly classified government program might be inferred from the context of what was actually revealed. The Post describes how

The information Trump relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said. The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said that Trump's decision to do so risks cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State.

The Post is unfortunately also providing ISIS with more information than it "needs to know" to make its story more dramatic, further compromising the source. Furthermore, it should be understood that the paper is extremely hostile to Trump, the story is as always based on anonymous sources, and the revelation comes on top of another unverifiable Post article claiming that the Russians might have sought to sneak a recording device into the White House during the visit.

No one is denying that the president discussed ISIS in some detail with Lavrov, but National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, both of whom were present at the meeting, have denied that any sources or methods were revealed while reviewing with the Russians available intelligence. McMaster described the report as "false" and informed the Post that "The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation. At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly." Tillerson commented that "the nature of specific threats were (sic) discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods, or military operations."

So the question becomes to what extent can an intelligence mechanism be identified from the information that it produces. That is, to a certain extent, a judgment call. The president is able on his own authority to declassify anything, so the legality of his sharing information with Russia cannot be challenged. What is at question is the decision-making by an inexperienced president who may have been showing off to an important foreign visitor by revealing details of intelligence that should have remained secret. The media will no doubt be seeking to magnify the potential damage done while the White House goes into damage control mode.

The media is claiming that the specific discussion with Lavrov that is causing particular concern is related to a so-called Special Access Program , or SAP, sometimes referred to as "code word information." An SAP is an operation that generates intelligence that requires special protection because of where or how it is produced. In this case, the intelligence shared with Lavrov appears to be related to specific ISIS threats, which may include planned operations against civilian aircraft, judging from Trump's characteristically after-hours tweets defending his behavior, as well as other reporting.

There have also been reports that the White House followed up on its Lavrov meeting with a routine review of what had taken place. Several National Security Council members observed that some of the information shared with the Russians was far too sensitive to disseminate within the U.S. intelligence community. This led to the placing of urgent calls to NSA and CIA to brief them on what had been said.

Based on the recipients of the calls alone, one might surmise that the source of the information would appear to be either a foreign-intelligence service or a technical collection operation, or even both combined. The Post claims that the originator of the intelligence did not clear its sharing with the Russians and raises the possibility that no more information of that type will be provided at all in light of the White House's apparent carelessness in its use. The New York Times , in its own reporting of the story, initially stated that the information on ISIS did not come from an NSA or CIA operation, and later reported that the source was Israel.

The Times is also reporting that Trump provided to Lavrov "granular" information on the city in Syria where the information was collected that will possibly enable the Russians or ISIS to identify the actual source, with devastating consequences. That projection may be overreach, but the fact is that the latest gaffe from the White House could well damage an important intelligence liaison relationship in the Middle East while reinforcing the widely held impression that Washington does not know how to keep a secret. It will also create the impression that Donald Trump, out of ignorance or hubris, exhibits a certain recklessness in his dealing with classified information, a failing that he once attributed to his presidential opponent Hillary Clinton.

And President Trump has one more thing to think about. No matter what damage comes out of the Lavrov discussion, he has a bigger problem. There are apparently multiple leakers on his National Security Council.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

This article has been updated to reflect news developments.

Thymoleontas, says: May 16, 2017 at 12:33 pm

" The latest gaffe from the White House could well damage an important intelligence liaison relationship in the Middle East "

On the other hand, it also represents closer collaboration with Russia–even if unintended–which is an improvement on the status quo ante and, not to mention, key to ending the conflict in Syria.

Dies Irae , says: May 16, 2017 at 12:38 pm
You have McMaster himself who categorically denies any exposure of sources and methods – he was there in person and witness to the talks – and a cloud of unknown witnesses not present speculating, without reference to McMaster or Tillerson's testimony, about what might have happened. This is the American Media in a nutshell, the Infinite Circle Jerk.
MM , says: May 16, 2017 at 12:44 pm
Out of my depth, but was Trump working within the framework, maybe a bit outside if the story is true, of the Joint Implementation Group the Obama administration created last year with Russia?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/r/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2016/07/13/Editorial-Opinion/Graphics/terms_of_reference_for_the_Joint_Implementation_Group.pdf?tid=a_inl

Also, I recall reading that the prior administration promised Russia ISIS intel. Not sure if that ever happened, but I doubt they'd have made it public or leak anything to the press.

Brian W , says: May 16, 2017 at 12:57 pm
Apr 21, 2017 Ike and McCarthy: Dwight Eisenhower's Secret Campaign against Joseph McCarthy

Author David A. Nichols reveals how President Dwight D. Eisenhower masterminded the downfall of the anti-Communist demagogue Senator Joseph McCarthy.

https://youtu.be/FAY_9aQMVbQ

EliteCommInc , says: May 16, 2017 at 12:57 pm
Avoiding the minutia.

I think it should go without saying that intelligence is a sensitive business and protecting those who operate in its murky waters is important to having an effective agency.

Of course the Pres of the US has a duty to do so.

I have not yet read the post article. But I am doubtful that the executive had any intention of putting anyone in harms way. I am equally doubtful that this incident will. If the executive made an error in judgement, I am sure it will be dealt wit in an appropriate manner.

I do wish he'd stop tweeting, though I get why its useful to him.

I am more disturbed how this story got into the press. While, not an ally, I think we should in cooperation with other states. Because the Pres is not familiar with the protocols and language and I doubt any executive has been upon entering office, I have no doubt he may be reacting or overreacting to the overreaction of others.

Here's a word. We have no business engaging n the overthrow of another government that is no threat to the US or her allies, and that includes Israel. Syria is not. And we should cease and desist getting further entangled in the messes of the previous executive, his Sec of State and those organizations who seem to e playing with the life blood of the US by engaging if unnecessary risks.

Just another brier brushfire of a single tumble weed to add to the others in the hope that setting fires in trashcans will make the current exec go away or at least engage in a mea culpa and sign more checks in the mess that is the middle east policy objective that remains a dead end.

__________

And if I understand the crumbs given the data provided by the Post, the Times and this article, if one had ill will for the source of said information, they have pretty good idea where to start.

Cachip , says: May 16, 2017 at 1:12 pm
How do you know it wasn't intended as pure misdirection?
Brian W , says: May 16, 2017 at 1:20 pm
January 10, 2014 *500* Years of History Shows that Mass Spying Is Always Aimed at Crushing Dissent

No matter which government conducts mass surveillance, they also do it to crush dissent, and then give a false rationale for why they're doing it.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/500-years-of-history-shows-that-mass-spying-is-always-aimed-at-crushing-dissent/5364462

Johann , says: May 16, 2017 at 1:54 pm
Politics is now directly endangering innocent civilians. Because of the leaks and its publication, ISIS for sure now knows that there is an information leak out of their organization. They will now re-compartmentalize and may be successful in breaking that information leak. Innocent airline passenger civilians, American, Russian, or whoever may die as a result. Russia and the US are both fighting ISIS. We are de facto allies in that fight whether some people like it or not. Time to get over it.
EliteCommInc. , says: May 16, 2017 at 2:44 pm
Having read the article, uhhh, excuse me, but unlike personal secrets. The purpose of intel is to use to or keep on hand for some-other date. But of that information is related to the security of our interests and certainly a cooperative relationship with Russia is in our interest. Because in the convoluted fight with ISIS/ISIL, Russia is an ally.

What this belies is the mess of the intelligence community. If in fact, the Russians intend to take a source who provided information that was helpful to them, it would be a peculiar twist of strategic action. The response does tell us that we are in some manner in league with ISIS/ISIL or their supporters so deep that there is a need to protect them, from what is anybody's guess. Because if the information is accurate, I doubt the Russians are going to about killing the source, but rather improving their airline security.

But if we are in fact attempting to remove Pres Assad, and are in league with ISIS/ISIL in doing so - I get why the advocates of such nonsense might be in a huff. So ISIS/ISISL our one time foe and now our sometimes friend . . .

Good greif . . .

Pres Trump is the least of muy concerns when it coes to security.

Some relevant material on intel:

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/the-administration/327413-how-the-intel-community-was-turned-into-a-political

http://www.lexingtoninstitute.org/intelligence-failures-more-profound-than-president-admits/

But if I were Pres Trump, I might steer clear of Russia for a while to stop feeding the beast.

Kurt Gayle , says: May 16, 2017 at 3:28 pm
Philip, back on July 23, 2014, you explained in "How ISIS Evades the CIA" "the inability of the United States government to anticipate the ISIS offensive that has succeeded in taking control of a large part of Iraq." You explained why the CIA had to date had no success in infiltrating ISIS.

You continued: "Given U.S. intelligence's probable limited physical access to any actual terrorist groups operating in Syria or Iraq any direct attempt to penetrate the organization through placing a source inside would be difficult in the extreme. Such efforts would most likely be dependent on the assistance of friendly intelligence services in Turkey or Jordan. Both Turkey and Jordan have reported that terrorists have entered their countries by concealing themselves in the large numbers of refugees that the conflict in Syria has produced, and both are concerned as they understand full well that groups like ISIS will be targeting them next. Some of the infiltrating adherents to radical groups have certainly been identified and detained by the respective intelligence services of those two countries, and undoubtedly efforts have been made to 'turn' some of those in custody to send them back into Syria (and more recently Iraq) to report on what is taking place. Depending on what arrangements might have been made to coordinate the operations, the 'take' might well be shared with the United States and other friendly governments."

You then describe the difficulties faced by a Turkish or Jordanian agent trying to infiltrate ISIS: "But seeding is very much hit or miss, as someone who has been out of the loop of his organization might have difficulty working his way back in. He will almost certainly be regarded with some suspicion by his peers and would be searched and watched after his return, meaning that he could not take back with him any sophisticated communications devices no matter how cleverly they are concealed. This would make communicating any information obtained back to one's case officers in Jordan or Turkey difficult or even impossible."

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/how-isis-evades-the-cia/

Notwithstanding how "difficult or even impossible" such an operation would be - and using the New York Times as your only source for a lot of otherwise completely unsubstantiated information – and admitting that "this is sheer speculation on my part" – you say that "it is logical to assume that the countries that have provided numerous recruits for ISIS [Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia] would have used that fact as cover to carry out a seeding operation to introduce some of their own agents into the ISIS organization."

Back to the New York Times as your only source, you say that "the Times is also reporting that Trump provided to Lavrov 'granular' information on the city in Syria where the information was collected that will possibly enable the Russians or ISIS to identify the actual source, with devastating consequences."

But having ventured into the far reaches of that line of speculation, you do admit that "that projection may be overreach." Indeed!

You go on to characterize the events of the White House meeting with the Russians as "the latest gaffe from the White House" – even though there is absolutely no evidence (outside of the unsubstantiated reports of the Washington Post and the New York Times) that anything to do with the meeting was a "gaffe" – and you further speculate that "it could well damage an important intelligence liaison relationship in the Middle East."

That is, again, pure speculation on your part.

One valuable lesson that you've taught TAC readers over the years, Philip: That we need to carefully examine the sources of information – and the sources of dis-information.

KennethF , says: May 16, 2017 at 3:33 pm
Yet again from Giraldi: the problem isn't that the POTUS is ignorant and incompetent; we should all be more concerned that the Deep State is leaking the proof.
collin , says: May 16, 2017 at 4:12 pm
In general I agree with you, but the media was NEVER concerned about the treatment of sensitive material from HRC!
charley , says: May 16, 2017 at 4:51 pm
I think he needs to cut back on intelligence sharing with Israel. They do just what the hell they want to do with anything.
Brad Kain , says: May 16, 2017 at 5:03 pm
Trump has now essentially confirmed the story from the Post and contradicted the denials from McMaster – he shared specific intelligence to demonstrate his willingness to work with the Russians. Moreover, it seems that Israel was the ally that provided this intelligence. The author and others will defend this, but I can only see this as a reckless and impulsive decision that only causes Russia and our allies to trust the US less.

[May 16, 2017] Trump facing shark tank feeding frenzy from military industrial media

Notable quotes:
"... What's your take on it? Is the media on to something big here? ..."
"... "sources and methods" ..."
"... 'Deep State' ..."
"... The mainstream media is going on little more than 'anonymous sources.' Could it have a hidden agenda here? ..."
"... "drain the swamp." ..."
"... "I am moving forward with my program." ..."
"... Do you think mainstream media is a part of something big and controlled all over from the top? ..."
"... The media has run with this. Are they on to something big here? ..."
"... Trump attacked Hillary Clinton as being unreliable with state secrets. Can the same now be said of him? ..."
"... The mainstream media is going on little more than 'anonymous sources'... could it have a hidden agenda here? ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.rt.com
There are elements of the 'Deep State' here who are very opposed to the things Donald Trump said during the campaign. They don't want to cooperate with Russia, Jim Jatras, former US diplomat, told RT. Political analyst John Bosnitch joins the discussion. US President Trump said his White House meeting last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ranged from airline safety to terrorism. A Washington Post story, however, has accused the American leader of revealing classified information to Russian officials.

RT: What's your take on it? Is the media on to something big here?

Jim Jatras: To start with, again, this is from the Washington Post and an unnamed source. So you do have to doubt the accuracy of the information knowing the vendetta the Washington Post and other mainstream media have against the Trump administration and against President Trump personally and how much they want to disrupt any kind of cooperation with Russia against the terrorist threat. I would say that was the first thing.

'I was in the room. It didn't happen' - National Security Advisor H.R. #McMaster https://t.co/gVIHigqXaT

- RT America (@RT_America) 15 мая 2017 г.

Second, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Deputy of National Security Adviser Dina Powell, who were both in the meeting, have stated since the Washington Post article appeared – there was nothing discussed with Mr. [Sergey] Lavrov and Mr. [Sergey] Kislyak that compromised what they call "sources and methods" that would lead to any kind of intelligence vulnerability on the part of the US. But rather this was all part of a discussion of common action against ISIS. Those are the first things to be noted

Let's remember that there are elements of what we call the 'Deep State' here who are very opposed to the things Donald Trump said during the campaign. They don't want to cooperate with the Russians; they don't want improved relations with Moscow. And let's be honest, they have a very strong investment in the various jihadist groups that we have supported for the past six years trying to overthrow the legitimate government in Damascus. I am sure there are people – maybe in the National Security Council, maybe in the Staff, maybe in the State Department – who are finding some way to try and discredit the Trump administration. The question is where is the investigation into these leaks? Who is going to hold these people accountable?

RT: The mainstream media is going on little more than 'anonymous sources.' Could it have a hidden agenda here?

JJ: Of course. In fact, I would even go further. I wouldn't be at all surprised if President Trump timed his firing with the FBI Director James Comey – what some people even pointed out – he himself in one of his tweets says "drain the swamp." One of the first elements was getting rid of the principals of the Deep State who have been trying to hijack his policy; that he did this precisely because he was meeting with Mr. Lavrov and Mr. Kislyak the next day. He's shoving it in their face, saying: "I am moving forward with my program." And I think that's the reason we're getting this hysteria building around the Russians, the Russians, the Russians when what we need is to move forward on an America First national security policy.

'US policy today: Aircraft, where co-pilots try to override pilots' (Op-Edge) https://t.co/x153yPtqVS

- RT (@RT_com) 16 мая 2017 г.

RT: Do you think mainstream media is a part of something big and controlled all over from the top?

JJ: Absolutely. There is a whole structure of what people call the 'Deep State' establishment, the oligarchy – whatever you want to call it. Of course, the mainstream media is part of this. It includes all the Democrats, who were very easy on the Soviet Union when it was Communist. But now that it is not Communist under Russia, they have a deep, very deep hatred of Russia, and they don't want any kind of rapprochement with Russia. And unfortunately, there are Republicans who sympathize with this agenda, as well. I think we can say at this point that Mr. Trump is only partially in control of the apparatus of government. He does not yet have complete control and that there is a frantic effort by these elements to make sure he is not able to get control of the American government and carry out the policies he talked about.

#Trump says he had 'absolute right' to share data on flight safety & terrorism with Russia https://t.co/U6h9FW2ZKy pic.twitter.com/eFBIRhVaI3

- RT (@RT_com) 16 мая 2017 г.
The 'military industrial media'

The mainstream media of the US is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the military industrial complex. If you want to call it anything, you can call it the 'military media,' John Bosnitch , political analyst, told RT.

RT: The media has run with this. Are they on to something big here?

John Bosnitch: I wouldn't say so. I've worked in this field for three decades. I don't see a scrap of evidence here. But I do see like a shark tank of media feeding – no evidence.

RT: Trump attacked Hillary Clinton as being unreliable with state secrets. Can the same now be said of him?

JB: Trump is the chief executive officer of the United States of America. As the chief executive officer of the country, he has full legal and constitutional authority to use state secrets in the conduct of diplomacy. He's also the chief diplomat of the country. So there is a big difference between the chief executive officer deciding what information he can share in conducting of state policy, and Hillary Clinton deciding as a cabinet minister which laws she chooses to obey, and which ones she doesn't.

'You cannot reset:' No way for US & Russia to start over 'with clean slate' – #Tillerson https://t.co/vC71YbLpQL

- RT (@RT_com) 15 мая 2017 г.

RT: The mainstream media is going on little more than 'anonymous sources'... could it have a hidden agenda here?

JB: I don't see any other possibility, whatsoever. Let's not play the game of dividing the so-called mainstream media from its owners. The mainstream media of the US is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the military industrial complex. If you want to call it anything, you can call it the 'military media.' The military makes money by making war; they buy the media to promote war. They use the media to promote propaganda in favor of war. And that is where we get into the mess we're in today. Because we have a president who is a businessman and would prefer to make money, and would prefer to put people to work in any industry other than war. The military industrial media in the United States is depending on being able to speak to a captive audience of uninformed viewers The military controls the media because they own them.

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

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

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

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

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

globinfo freexchange

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

As Temin states, among other things:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read also:

[May 07, 2017] Book Review Game of Mates naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... Australia's Real Lifters and Leaners ..."
May 07, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
... ... ...

By Phil Soos, originally published at LF Economics

This is LF Economics' first review of a book, entitled Game of Mates: How Favours Bleed the Nation by economists Cameron K. Murray and Paul Frijters. The name is a play upon the wonderful TV series Game of Thrones and rightfully so, given both are about how a small number of wealthy and highly-connected individuals, often operating within a cluster of powerful networks, rig rules, policy, laws and ideology for their personal and class benefit.

Game of Mates is a gold mine of information on the racket of rent extraction for a number of reasons. First, it provides background on how the game slowly evolves (Chapter 1) by contrasting the hard-working Aussie Bruce with the connected insider and rent extractor known as James. By using the power of networking and soft corruption, the wealthy James (the 1%) is able to rip-off Bruce (the public) legally without violating the rule of law.

Second, the book goes on to detail the largest state-backed legal thefts carried out by the corporate sector for the benefit of rentiers. This term means those who obtain rents (unearned wealth and income over and above what is justified by perfectly-competitive markets). Unfortunately, Australia is a haven for robber barons, siphoning massive and illegitimate mountains of rents from the property market (Chapter 2), transportation (Chapter 3), superannuation (Chapter 5), mining (Chapter 7) and banking (Chapter 9) for the benefit of owners and managers.

... ... ... Game of Mates helps to reveal the absurdity of what is falsely called free-market capitalism, as it is thoroughly infected by rent extractors. Recent research has demonstrated that Australia's private sector is dominated by cartels of monopolists, duopolists and oligopolists to an even greater extent than the US, the latter of which is often considered the home of crony capitalism. This is no mean feat.

Whoever said there is no such thing as a free lunch (perhaps it was Milton Friedman or someone he quoted) is speaking an utter absurdity. The term 'free lunch' doesn't do justice in describing the epic levels of legal grift in our economy. Indeed, it should be termed 'free banquets' as we argued in our article Australia's Real Lifters and Leaners .

The process of extracting free banquets has gained pace since the neo-liberal reformation of the economy by the Hawke-Keating government, lurching from the centre-left to the centre-right on economy policy during the 1980s. The Howard government continued and magnified these rackets when in power between 1996 and 2007. It should be important to note that these policies can hardly be termed 'neo-liberal' when they are not new and often have little to do with economic liberalisation. Perhaps neo-feudal capitalism is a better term.

...It should be important to note that these policies can hardly be termed 'neo-liberal' when they are not new and often have little to do with economic liberalisation. Perhaps neo-feudal capitalism is a better term.

....

The Game of Mates is about detailing the methods of redistribution from the poor, labour, productive competitive business and the environment into the pockets of those who benefit the most from non-work. There are some data on how much the wealthy steal from everyone else (Chapter 13). Hint: the redistributions are massive in scale and yet do not quantify the full extent of the rent extraction taking place.

In addition, apart from criticising the upwards redistribution of wealth, they advocate solutions to rectifying these problems (Chapter 14). This can be done by reclaiming the value of the free banquets for the public, disrupting the coordination and networks used by rentiers, and shattering the myths peddled to justify their wholesale theft.

This book is a very timely addition to the emerging research in Australia and elsewhere which explains the processes and estimates the amount of wealth and income siphoned off by these schemes of legal theft. At 204 pages, it is not overly long and is makes for an easy read. Fortunately, the authors avoid the often opaque writing style and jargon often found in the economics and financial academic literature.

If one wants to understand how the country is being looted by the minority of the opulent for their own benefit, look no further.

Read more at gameofmates.com

JimTan , May 6, 2017 at 12:14 pm

The interesting thing about exploiting personal connections to extract rents, build cartels, capture regulators, gain legal protections, or generally restrict competition is that all these activities are essentially risk free. Gaining a rent or legal protection from a friend or colleague has zero risk, and guarantees higher profits. This is in contrast to innovation or product improvement which requires high risk, time, effort, capital, and expertise, but can return much higher profits. When opportunities for rent collection become systemic, I think economic rents can crowd out risky innovation because returns for economic rents are guaranteed. In this case the probabilities for (short-term) economic success are higher with economic rents, and as the saying goes 'firms act to maximize profitability'. That is a bad outcome for all of society.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , May 6, 2017 at 6:23 pm

In 2014 62 individuals owned one half of the world's wealth, now that's down to just 8 people (how they sleep at night is utterly beyond me). When it's down to one guy we can strangle him in the bathtub and redistribute, and usher in a new Golden Age of prosperity and peace.

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

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

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

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

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

What does this mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This poart 4 of the series. For previous parts see

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obama continued:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Apr 27, 2017] Yes, Minister was a neoliberal attack on government as such. It set the "entrepreneurial" political hero/leader against the corrupt "civil service"

Apr 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Chris , April 27, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Years ago, while working in an Australian state public service department, we considered 'Yes Minister' to be a documentary, and used it amongst ourselves as training material.

Lambert Strether Post author , April 27, 2017 at 4:26 pm

My favorite episode is "Jobs for the Boys." My favorite line: "Great courage of course. But whatever possessed you?"

(Messing about with the VPN to get the full page )

RUKidding , April 27, 2017 at 5:11 pm

Indeed. I have used it as such, myself! Not snark.

A most excellent book and series. Should be required viewing.

witters , April 27, 2017 at 8:19 pm

Yes, Minister was a neoliberal attack on government as such. It set the "entrepreneurial" political hero/leader against the corrupt "civil service". It made the latter the "deep state", thereby tainting forever the welfare state as an evil hidden conspiracy that (mysteriously) pandered to the meritocratically worthless. If that is what you mean by "Deep State" then you can have it.

Huey Long , April 27, 2017 at 3:21 pm

It is now known that a perfection of planned layout is achieved only by institutions on the point of collapse . [P]erfection of planning is a symptom of decay. During a period of exciting discovery or progress there is no time to plan the perfect headquarters. The time for that comes later, when all the important work has been done. Perfection, we know, is finality; and finality is death.

Following this line of reasoning, it seems to me that the US military establishment has been in decline ever since the Pentagon was built and the temporary Navy Dept. buildings erected on the National Mall were razed. Being that the Pentagon opened in 1943 and the buildings on the Mall were razed in 1970, which roughly coincides with our costly imperial adventures in Korea and Vietnam, I think Parkinson's Law #6 is dead on here.

[Apr 27, 2017] what is a good defition fo deep state ?

Apr 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Chibboleth , April 27, 2017 at 2:49 pm

If you want a good definition / description of the Deep State you just have to watch the old Thatcher-era BBC comedy Yes, Minister – the whole show is more or less entirely about friction between elected representatives and the UK Deep State.

Short, short version: the Deep State is the set of people (government officials, mostly) who wield some amount of power but whose positions are not affected by election results. Nothing particularly secret about it.

justanotherprogressive , April 27, 2017 at 3:21 pm

As a former government employee, I'm trying to figure out who "the set of people (government officials, mostly) who wield some amount of power but whose positions are not affected by election results" are. I hear about them all the time, particularly on right wing blogs, but I've never actually seen one

The power in a government agency is held by political appointees ("politicos" in guvspeak) and those political appointees are the only ones that speak for or direct the agency. And they change every time there is a change in the Presidency. Most agencies have more than one political appointee. My last job was with a small agency (less than two hundred employees) that had five. If a senior staff member is not immediately in line with the politicos' policies, that person is removed (demoted, sidelined, or transferred to another agency). Those governmental employees that stay year after year (the "weebees") just do the work, they have no power, and they definitely cannot make any decisions for the agency.

Vatch , April 27, 2017 at 3:34 pm

In some government agencies, the high ranking career employees seem to be rather good at manipulating the political appointees. This does not apply to all agencies; the primary examples are in the military, intelligence, financial, and justice realms. Unsurprisingly, these are the agencies that are the heaviest users of secrecy. There's also a lot of cross pollination between portions of the private sector (completely unelected, of course), and the murky deep state. Some of this involves the "revolving door", but some is just shadowy cooperation, such as we see among the NSA and various giants in telecommunications and Silicon Valley, or among Wall Street, the Treasury Department, and the Federal Reserve. The public does not elect those people.

justanotherprogressive , April 27, 2017 at 4:13 pm

I don't think there is much "manipulation" needed. After all the politicos come from the lobby/contractor/donor class, whether they be Democrat or Republican and they are already unwilling to change anything that they perceive as giving them power and control ..

But I guess it is easier to believe in a "Deep State" than realize that those shiny new politicians we just elected really do not want to change anything

Vatch , April 27, 2017 at 5:21 pm

Some of us believe that there is both a deep state and that there are elected politicians who wish to preserve the status quo.

likbez , April 27, 2017 at 10:07 pm

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

When weI say "deep state" we typically understand this term as "intelligence agencies"; we say "intelligence agencies" and mean "deep state".

From Wikispooks ( https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Deep_state ):

"The phrase "deep state" derives from the Turkish "derin devlet", which emerged after the 1996 Susurluk incident so dramatically unmasked the Turkish deep state. It has experienced a surge of use in 2017, though often not in keeping with the meaning attributed by the diplomat who coined the phrase.

As powerful and self-interest groups ( probably even more dominated by psychopaths and sociopaths than other large hierarchies ), deep states seek to frustrate radical and progressive change, so as to preserve their own power, and that of the establishment in general. In contrast to overtly authoritarian rule, deep states must operate more or less secretly, like terrorist groups, so preserving secrecy is a high priority. Control of the commercially-controlled media is essential to the effective preservation of secrecy need for the deep state to work effectively. In the US this is effected through deep state control of the CIA. With the apparatus of nation states under their control, their subterfuges can be elaborate and complex. The deep states of the world have a natural common interest in hiding their existence, which predisposes them to mutual assistance. As a Turkish cartoon put it in 1997 "Deep state protects its own."[5] "

I think the term "deep state" is closely connected with the notion of "national security state" and by extension with the term "military industrial complex". And the core of deep state are always intelligence agencies which tend to escape the control of the governments and in turn attempt to control the government that should control them. There are certain requirement for such agencies that very few agencies outside intelligence agencies meet.

1. Institualized ability to collect dirt of politicians, or access to such information collected by other agencies.

2. The veil of secrecy over the actions and funding. Access to some "non-controlled" or "semi-controlled" funding for "special operations" and "actions"

3. Set of people trained for conducting covert operations, especially false flag operations.

4. Experience with covert operations abroad that can be transferred to the "home territory" in case of necessity. Peter Dale Scott refers in a recent essay to "A Supranational Deep State", noting how their international integration effectively allows intelligence agencies to evade even the limited control national governments had on them in the first half of the 20th century.

5. Infiltrated, or at lease "influencable" on the level of "useful contacts" with publishers and top journalists media. Deep state generally controls corporate media as Church commission established long ago.

Any agency that meets whose three criteria is "by definition" belongs to deep state. That means that outside Pentagon and three letter agencies only State Department (which now performs a part of functions of CIA as for color revolutions preparation) and Energy Department can qualify.

hunkerdown , April 27, 2017 at 6:22 pm

Try Charles Hugh Smith 's working definition:

The Deep State is fundamentally the public-private centralized nodes that collect, archive and curate dominant narratives and their supporting evidence, and disseminate these narratives (and their implicit teleologies) to the public via the media and to the state agencies via formal and informal inter-departmental communication channels.

In other words, the people who, in the public mind, define and legitimize (or delegitimize) the agenda and the members and objectives of the ideal power structure you describe, which, contrary to almost any anecdotal observation of office politics in general, seems to contain no dotted lines, no stovepipes, perfect subordination, no split allegiances or conflicting interests, and no other indirect pressures from within or without. Sounds more liberal than progressive, tbh.

eD , April 27, 2017 at 3:43 pm

The bureaucrats that run America are employees of corporations and contractors.

Chris , April 27, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Years ago, while working in an Australian state public service department, we considered 'Yes Minister' to be a documentary, and used it amongst ourselves as training material.

Lambert Strether Post author , April 27, 2017 at 4:26 pm

My favorite episode is "Jobs for the Boys." My favorite line: "Great courage of course. But whatever possessed you?"

[Mar 28, 2017] Foundation - Fall Of The American Galactic Empire Zero Hedge

Mar 28, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Mar 27, 2017 10:40 PM Authored by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog,

"The fall of Empire, gentlemen, is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity-a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for centuries, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop." – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

"Any fool can tell a crisis when it arrives. The real service to the state is to detect it in embryo." – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

I read Isaac Asimov's renowned award winning science fiction trilogy four decades ago as a teenager. I read them because I liked science fiction novels, not because I was trying to understand the correlation to the fall of the Roman Empire. The books that came to be called the Foundation Trilogy (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation) were not written as novels; they're the collected Foundation stories Asimov wrote between 1941 and 1950. He wrote these stories during the final stages of our last Fourth Turning Crisis and the beginning stages of the next High. This was the same time frame in which Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Orwell wrote 1984 . This was not a coincidence.

The tone of foreboding, danger, dread, and impending doom, along with unending warfare, propels all of these novels because they were all written during the bloodiest and most perilous portion of the last Fourth Turning . As the linear thinking establishment continues to be blindsided by the continued deterioration of the economic, political, social, and cultural conditions in the world, we have entered the most treacherous phase of our present Fourth Turning .

That ominous mood engulfing the world is not a new dynamic, but a cyclical event arriving every 80 or so years. Eight decades ago the world was on the verge of a world war which would kill 65 million people. Eight decades prior to 1937 the country was on the verge of a Civil War which would kill almost 5% of the male population. Eight decades prior to 1857 the American Revolution had just begun and would last six more bloody years. None of this is a coincidence. The generational configuration repeats itself every eighty years, driving the mood change which leads to revolutionary change and the destruction of the existing social order.

Isaac Asimov certainly didn't foresee his Foundation stories representing the decline of an American Empire that didn't yet exist. The work that inspired Asimov was Edward Gibbon's multi-volume series, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire , published between 1776 and 1789. Gibbon saw Rome's fall not as a consequence of specific, dramatic events, but as the result of the gradual decline of civic virtue, monetary debasement and rise of Christianity, which made the Romans less vested in worldly affairs.

Gibbon's tome reflects the same generational theory espoused by Strauss and Howe in The Fourth Turning . Gibbon's conclusion was human nature never changes, and mankind's penchant for division, amplified by environmental and cultural differences, is what governs the cyclical nature of history. Gibbon constructs a narrative spanning centuries as events unfold and emperors' successes and failures occur within the context of a relentless decline of empire. The specific events and behaviors of individual emperors were inconsequential within the larger framework and pattern of historical decline. History plods relentlessly onward, driven by the law of large numbers.

Asimov described his inspiration for the novels:

"I wanted to consider essentially the science of psychohistory, something I made up myself. It was, in a sense, the struggle between free will and determinism. On the other hand, I wanted to do a story on the analogy of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, but on the much larger scale of the galaxy. To do that, I took over the aura of the Roman Empire and wrote it very large. The social system, then, is very much like the Roman imperial system, but that was just my skeleton.

It seemed to me that if we did have a galactic empire, there would be so many human beings-quintillions of them-that perhaps you might be able to predict very accurately how societies would behave, even though you couldn't predict how individuals composing those societies would behave. So, against the background of the Roman Empire written large, I invented the science of psychohistory. Throughout the entire trilogy, then, there are the opposing forces of individual desire and that dead hand of social inevitability."

Is History Pre-Determined?

"Don't you see? It's Galaxy-wide. It's a worship of the past. It's a deterioration – a stagnation!" – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

"It has been my philosophy of life that difficulties vanish when faced boldly." – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

The Foundation trilogy opens on Trantor, the capital of the 12,000-year-old Galactic Empire. Though the empire appears stable and powerful, it is slowly decaying in ways that parallel the decline of the Western Roman Empire. Hari Seldon, a mathematician and psychologist, has developed psychohistory, a new field of science that equates all possibilities in large societies to mathematics, allowing for the prediction of future events.

Psychohistory is a blend of crowd psychology and high-level math. An able psychohistorian can predict the long-term aggregate behavior of billions of people many years in the future. However, it only works with large groups. Psychohistory is almost useless for predicting the behavior of an individual. Also, it's no good if the group being analyzed is aware it's being analyzed - because if it's aware, the group changes its behavior.

Using psychohistory, Seldon has discovered the declining nature of the Empire, angering the aristocratic rulers of the Empire. The rulers consider Seldon's views and statements treasonous, and he is arrested. Seldon is tried by the state and defends his beliefs, explaining his theory the Empire will collapse in 300 years and enter a 30,000-year dark age.

He informs the rulers an alternative to this future is attainable, and explains to them generating an anthology of all human knowledge, the Encyclopedia Galactica, would not avert the inevitable fall of the Empire but would reduce the Dark Age to "only" 1,000 years.

The fearful state apparatchiks offer him exile to a remote world, Terminus, with other academic intellectuals who could help him create the Encyclopedia. He accepts their offer, and sets in motion his plan to set up two Foundations, one at either end of the galaxy, to preserve the accumulated knowledge of humanity and thereby shorten the Dark Age, once the Empire collapses. Seldon created the Foundation, knowing it would eventually be seen as a threat to rulers of the Empire, provoking an eventual attack. That is why he created a Second Foundation, unknown to the ruling class.

Asimov's psychohistory concept, based on the predictability of human actions in large numbers, has similarities to Strauss & Howe's generational theory. His theory didn't pretend to predict the actions of individuals, but formulated definite laws developed by mathematical analysis to predict the mass action of human groups. His novel explores the centuries old debate of whether human history proceeds in a predictable fashion, with individuals incapable of changing its course, or whether individuals can alter its progression.

The cyclical nature of history, driven by generational cohorts numbering tens of millions, has been documented over centuries by Strauss & Howe in their 1997 opus The Fourth Turning . Human beings in large numbers react in a herd-like predictable manner. I know that is disappointing to all the linear thinking individualists who erroneously believe one person can change the world and course of history.

The cyclical crisis's that occur every eighty years matches up with how every Foundation story centers on what is called a Seldon crisis, the conjunction of seemingly insoluble external and internal difficulties. The crises were all predicted by Seldon, who appears near the end of each story as a hologram to confirm the Foundation has traversed the latest one correctly.

The "Seldon Crises" take on two forms. Either events unfold in such a way there is only one clear path to take, or the forces of history conspire to determine the outcome. But, the common feature is free will doesn't matter. The heroes and adversaries believe their choices will make a difference when, in fact, the future is already written. This is a controversial viewpoint which angers many people because they feel it robs them of their individuality.

Most people don't want to be lumped together in an amalgamation of other humans because they believe admitting so would strip them of their sense of free will. Their delicate sensibilities are bruised by the unequivocal fact their individual actions are virtually meaningless to the direction of history. But, the madness of crowds can dramatically impact antiquity.

"In reading The History of Nations, we find that, like individuals, they have their whims and their peculiarities, their seasons of excitement and recklessness, when they care not what they do. We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first." – Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Many people argue the dynamic advancements in technology and science have changed the world in such a way to alter human nature in a positive way, thereby resulting in humans acting in a more rational manner. This alteration would result in a level of human progress not experienced previously. The falsity of this technological theory is borne out by the continuation of war, government corruption, greed, belief in economic fallacies, civic decay, cultural degradation, and global disorder sweeping across the world. Humanity is incapable of change. The same weaknesses and self- destructive traits which have plagued them throughout history are as prevalent today as they ever were.

Asimov's solution to the failure of humanity to change was to create an academic oriented benevolent ruling class who could save the human race from destroying itself. He seems to have been well before his time with regards to creating Shadow Governments and Deep State functionaries. It appears he agreed with his contemporary Edward Bernays. The masses could not be trusted to make good decisions, so they needed more intellectually advanced men to guide their actions.

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized.

Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind." – Edward Bernays – Propaganda

In Part Two of this article I will compare and contrast Donald Trump's rise to power to the rise of The Mule in Asimov's masterpiece. Unusually gifted individuals come along once in a lifetime to disrupt the plans of the existing social order.

Beam Me Up Scotty -> BaBaBouy , Mar 27, 2017 10:56 PM

" He seems to have been well before his time with regards to creating Shadow Governments and Deep State functionaries. It appears he agreed with his contemporary Edward Bernays. The masses could not be trusted to make good decisions, so they needed more intellectually advanced men to guide their actions."

The masses aren't the ones begging to start all of these wars. They are the ones TRYING to make a few good decisions. The Shadow Government and Deep State however, are hell bent on getting us all killed. Who exactly is the problem here??

LetThemEatRand , Mar 27, 2017 10:50 PM

Asimov was a good writer and created some great fiction. That's as far as it goes.

Huxle LetThemEatRand •Mar 27, 2017 10:50 PM y is the one who predicted the current state of affairs. Orwell gets honorable mention. You could also throw in some biblical passages for the mark of the beast, though the best part was clearly written about Nero.

biker Mar 27, 2017 11:06 PM
Of course its better to watch them eat themselves
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/rewriting-the-rules...

[Mar 25, 2017] Theyre Like The Praetorian Guard - Whistleblower Confirms NSA Targeted Congress, The Supreme Court, Trump Zero Hedge

Notable quotes:
"... "They're taking in fundamentally the entire fiber network inside the United States and collecting all that data and storing it, in a program they call Stellar Wind," Binney said. ..."
"... "That's the domestic collection of data on US citizens, US citizens to other US citizens," he said. "Everything we're doing, phone calls, emails and then financial transactions, credit cards, things like that, all of it." ..."
"... "I mean, that's just East German," Tucker responded. ..."
"... Rather than help prevent terrorist attacks, Binney said collecting so much information actually makes stopping attacks more difficult. ..."
"... "This bulk acquisition is inhibiting their ability to detect terrorist threats in advance so they can't stop them so people get killed as a result," he said. ..."
"... "Which means, you know, they pick up the pieces and blood after the attack. That's what's been going on. I mean they've consistently failed. When Alexander said they'd stop 54 attacks and he was challenged to produce the evidence to prove that he failed on every count." ..."
"... Binney concludes ominously indicating the origin of the deep state... "They are like the praetorian guard, they determine what the emperor does and who the emperor is..." ..."
Mar 25, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Chris Menahan via InformationLiberation.com,

NSA whistleblower William Binney told Tucker Carlson on Friday that the NSA is spying on "all the members of the Supreme Court, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Congress, both House and Senate, as well as the White House."

Binney, who served the NSA for 30 years before blowing the whistle on domestic spying in 2001, told Tucker he firmly believes that Trump was spied on.

"They're taking in fundamentally the entire fiber network inside the United States and collecting all that data and storing it, in a program they call Stellar Wind," Binney said.

"That's the domestic collection of data on US citizens, US citizens to other US citizens," he said. "Everything we're doing, phone calls, emails and then financial transactions, credit cards, things like that, all of it."

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

"Inside NSA there are a set of people who are -- and we got this from another NSA whistleblower who witnessed some of this -- they're inside there, they are targeting and looking at all the members of the Supreme Court, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Congress, both House and Senate, as well as the White House," Binney said.

"And all this data is inside the NSA in a small group where they're looking at it. The idea is to see what people in power over you are going to -- what they think, what they think you should be doing or planning to do to you, your budget, or whatever so you can try to counteract before it actually happens," he said.

"I mean, that's just East German," Tucker responded.

Rather than help prevent terrorist attacks, Binney said collecting so much information actually makes stopping attacks more difficult.

"This bulk acquisition is inhibiting their ability to detect terrorist threats in advance so they can't stop them so people get killed as a result," he said.

"Which means, you know, they pick up the pieces and blood after the attack. That's what's been going on. I mean they've consistently failed. When Alexander said they'd stop 54 attacks and he was challenged to produce the evidence to prove that he failed on every count."

Binney concludes ominously indicating the origin of the deep state... "They are like the praetorian guard, they determine what the emperor does and who the emperor is..."

Who's going to stop them?

toady -> Bank_sters Mar 25, 2017 9:22 PM
I'm continually amazed that anyone thinks they are not being "wiretapped".

One more time;

Everyone, from the queen to the homeless guy on the corner, is being tracked, recorded, and data mined to the hilt.

  • Trump was survieled? No shit!
  • Obama was survieled? No shit!
  • Merkel was survieled? No shit!

I hope people start to REALLY understand this....

NAV GUS100CORRINA Mar 25, 2017 7:19 PM

Bringing history more up to date, this is Stalinism, i.e., fascism. As John T. Flynn states, "Fascism is Fabian socialism plus the inevitable dictator." Neo-fascism of course is Stalinism-blame Hitler.

So, is it fascism?

Yes, says Major Todd Pierce (retired) in an interview with Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss - who says NSA whistle blower Bill Binney has "got to be one of the smartest people in the world, I don't think that's an exaggeration. He was one of the smartest people at the NSA.

Says Weiss: "And he agrees with me fully. Because he's seen the NSA. We're a more sophisticated form of what I think has to be called fascism. The term fascism was applied to the way the communists and Stalin got on as well. You bring the term fascist to what it really means, and that ultimately is, ultramilitarism and authoritarianism combined with an expansionist foreign policy. And that's us-what you can see us becoming."

http://mondoweiss.net/2016/09/innocence-worldview-retired/#sthash.XjFDU6km.dpuf

Rubicon727 -> GUS100CORRINA •Mar 25, 2017 7:38 PM

The Roman Empire's death was far more complicated than "moral rot" and its "currency devaluation." Read some history books.

Chris Hedges makes the observation that ALL empires that are scourges of the earth, eventually turn inwards. As the empire begins its fatal decline, the terror they inflicted on outsiders, is then turned against its own citizens.

We now see that happening in America. Banks, corporations, intel/military, etc. are turning inward: destroying meaningful employment, humane health care, and pilfering billions of $s reserved for the 1%.

Just Another Vi... -> FriendlyAquaponics •Mar 25, 2017 8:05 PM

A video worth revisiting......

Reuters ..........

... Obama criticizes Donald Trump endlessly....over Trumps assertions that the election is rigged..,

telling the candidate to "stop whining and go try to make his case to get votes."

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-idUSKCN12I27L

HRClinton -> JLee2027 •Mar 25, 2017 8:15 PM

Who does the NSA work for on the Org Chart?

That's right, the DOD. They can't go completely rogue, without the explicit or implicit approval of the Secretary of Defense and his Deputies.

It is rather phoney and hypocritical of any POTUS - including Pres. Thump - to moan about the NSA, without loping off heads at the DOD and NSA. By that, I include all the Deputies, who do the real work and know the real secrets.

It's time that Thump had a "Come to Jesus" meeting with all these guys. Else he's part of the problem, and no amount of sugar coating can stop a turd being a turd.

TheReplacement -> HRClinton •Mar 25, 2017 9:42 PM

In an honest world, sure.

In reality, no. Like Binney said, they don't have to do anything they don't like because NOBODY can prove they haven't complied with orders. There is nobody who can watch the watchers. They can blackmail anyone.

'Gosh, I have no idea how that child porn got on my computer.'

CIA or NSA knows exactly how it got there. They put it there.

[Mar 25, 2017] What is Economism and why it is so damaging

Notable quotes:
"... Ugh what an awful display of pop economism. Globalization and technology are "impersonal forces." No mention of the rise of inequality or the SecStags. No mention of monetary policy fail in Europe. The biggest lies of economism are the lies of omission. ..."
"... Looks like this concept of "Economism" introduced by James Kwak in his book Economism is very important conceptual tool for understanding the tremendous effectiveness of neoliberal propaganda. ..."
"... When competitive free markets and rational well-informed actors are the baseline assumption, the burden of proof shifts unfairly onto anyone proposing a government policy. ..."
"... For example, the basic Econ 101 theory of supply and demand is fine for some products, but it doesn't work very well for labor markets. It is incapable of simultaneously explaining both the small effect of minimum wage increases and the small impact of low-skilled immigration. Some more complicated, advanced theory is called for. ..."
"... But no matter how much evidence piles up, people keep talking about "the labor supply curve" and "the labor demand curve" as if these are real objects, and to analyze policies -- for example, overtime rules -- using the same old framework. ..."
"... An idea that we believe in despite all evidence to the contrary isn't a scientific theory -- it's an infectious meme. ..."
"... Academic economists are unsure about how to respond to the abuse of simplistic econ theories for political ends. On one hand, it gives them enormous prestige. The popularity of simplistic econ ideas has made economists the toast of America's intellectual classes. ..."
"... It has sustained enormous demand for the undergraduate econ major, which serves, in the words of writer Michael Lewis, as a "standardized test of general intelligence" for future businesspeople. But as Kwak points out, the simple theories promulgated by politicians and on the Wall Street Journal editorial page often bear little resemblance to the sophisticated theories used by real economists. ..."
"... And when things go wrong -- when the financial system crashes, or millions of workers displaced by Chinese imports fail to find new careers -- it's academic economists who often get blamed, not the blasé and misleading popularizers. ..."
Jan 20, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Peter K. : January 20, 2017 at 04:35 AM

Noah Smith: The Ways That Pop Economics Hurt America - Noah Smith

"So I wonder if economism was really as unrealistic and useless as Kwak seems to imply. Did countries that resisted economism -- Japan, for example, or France [Germany?] -- do better for their poor and middle classes than the U.S.? Wages have stagnated in those countries, and inequality has increased, even as those countries remain poorer than the U.S. Did the U.S.'s problems really all come from economism, or did forces such as globalization and technological change play a part? Cross-country comparisons suggest that the deregulation and tax cuts of the 1980s and 1990s, although ultimately excessive, probably increased economic output somewhat."

Ugh what an awful display of pop economism. Globalization and technology are "impersonal forces." No mention of the rise of inequality or the SecStags. No mention of monetary policy fail in Europe. The biggest lies of economism are the lies of omission.

libezkova -> Peter K.... , -1
Thank you !

Looks like this concept of "Economism" introduced by James Kwak in his book Economism is very important conceptual tool for understanding the tremendous effectiveness of neoliberal propaganda.

I think it is proper to view Economism as a flavor of Lysenkoism. As such it is not very effective in acquiring the dominant position and suppressing of dissent, but it also can be very damaging.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-01-19/the-ways-that-pop-economics-hurt-america

== quote ==

...When competitive free markets and rational well-informed actors are the baseline assumption, the burden of proof shifts unfairly onto anyone proposing a government policy. For far too many years, free-marketers have gotten away with winning debates by just sitting back and saying "Oh yeah? Show me the market failure!" That deck-stacking has long forced public intellectuals on the left have to work twice as hard as those safely ensconced in think tanks on the free-market right, and given the latter a louder voice in public life than their ideas warrant.

It's also true that simple theories, especially those we learn in our formative years, can maintain an almost unshakeable grip on our thinking.

For example, the basic Econ 101 theory of supply and demand is fine for some products, but it doesn't work very well for labor markets. It is incapable of simultaneously explaining both the small effect of minimum wage increases and the small impact of low-skilled immigration. Some more complicated, advanced theory is called for.

But no matter how much evidence piles up, people keep talking about "the labor supply curve" and "the labor demand curve" as if these are real objects, and to analyze policies -- for example, overtime rules -- using the same old framework.

An idea that we believe in despite all evidence to the contrary isn't a scientific theory -- it's an infectious meme.

Academic economists are unsure about how to respond to the abuse of simplistic econ theories for political ends. On one hand, it gives them enormous prestige. The popularity of simplistic econ ideas has made economists the toast of America's intellectual classes.

It has sustained enormous demand for the undergraduate econ major, which serves, in the words of writer Michael Lewis, as a "standardized test of general intelligence" for future businesspeople. But as Kwak points out, the simple theories promulgated by politicians and on the Wall Street Journal editorial page often bear little resemblance to the sophisticated theories used by real economists.

And when things go wrong -- when the financial system crashes, or millions of workers displaced by Chinese imports fail to find new careers -- it's academic economists who often get blamed, not the blasé and misleading popularizers.

... ... ...

Russia and China have given up communism not because they stopped having working classes, but because it became obvious that their communist systems were keeping them in poverty. And Americans are now starting to question economism because of declining median income, spiraling inequality and a huge financial and economic crisis.

[Mar 25, 2017] Hillary and her faction were puppets of deep state. Their liberal interventionist hawk was the same idea as neocons, in many cases it was the same people.

Notable quotes:
"... I suspect that Bill and Hillary Clinton were recruited in the sixties under COINTELPRO (Hillary) and the CIA to do spywork for them. Having been a college student in the late sixties, if you went to a peace rally there was an undercover FBI agent to your left, a CIA asset to your right, a military intelligence officer sitting behind you and a cop from the local red squad in front of you. ..."
"... I understand that Bill's friends in England just presumed he was CIA. ..."
"... Hillary's morphing from Goldwater Girl to neoliberal Democrat occurred while she was hovering around Black Panther legal problems. She observed the Panther trials in New Haven and then spent a summer interning for the law firm in Berkeley that at the time was representing the Black Panthers on the West Coast. The Panthers were the FBI's number one target back then. ..."
"... having "moderate" Dems connected to the Deep State is always helpful. It appears that the role of the Clintons in our unwritten history was to move the Democratic Party to the corporate right. ..."
"... Hillary, when serving on the legal staff for the Democratic Watergate Committee, certainly sat in a place where she could report Democratic progress and how various intelligence leaks were viewed by the other Democrats. ..."
"... The current "Russia hack/Trump traitor" false flag (I describe it more fully below) was originally to give a self-righteous President Clinton the moral high ground to march into Ukraine, the one thing that Trump wouldn't give the Deep State. ..."
Mar 25, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

Mark Thomason , March 23, 2017 at 1:08 pm

This should be no real surprise. Hillary and her faction were neo-Republicans. Their liberal interventionist hawk was the same idea as neocons, in many cases it was the same people.

They kept control of the party. It is not Democratic in the sense of opposing war or McCarthyism or corporate abuses or Wall Street or trade agreements. It is bought and paid for by the people who were the Republicans all along.

This is the end state of triangulating courtesy of Bill Clinton. We have two Republican parties, one even crazier than the other.

Bob In Portland , March 23, 2017 at 4:00 pm

I suspect that Bill and Hillary Clinton were recruited in the sixties under COINTELPRO (Hillary) and the CIA to do spywork for them. Having been a college student in the late sixties, if you went to a peace rally there was an undercover FBI agent to your left, a CIA asset to your right, a military intelligence officer sitting behind you and a cop from the local red squad in front of you.

I understand that Bill's friends in England just presumed he was CIA.

Hillary's morphing from Goldwater Girl to neoliberal Democrat occurred while she was hovering around Black Panther legal problems. She observed the Panther trials in New Haven and then spent a summer interning for the law firm in Berkeley that at the time was representing the Black Panthers on the West Coast. The Panthers were the FBI's number one target back then.

After JFK's removal, the Deep State wanted better control of both parties. Nixon wasn't supposed to be the problem he was for them, so Watergate. But having "moderate" Dems connected to the Deep State is always helpful. It appears that the role of the Clintons in our unwritten history was to move the Democratic Party to the corporate right.

Perhaps Bill earned his bones with Asa Hutchinson in the 80s by ignoring Mena. Hillary, when serving on the legal staff for the Democratic Watergate Committee, certainly sat in a place where she could report Democratic progress and how various intelligence leaks were viewed by the other Democrats.

The current "Russia hack/Trump traitor" false flag (I describe it more fully below) was originally to give a self-righteous President Clinton the moral high ground to march into Ukraine, the one thing that Trump wouldn't give the Deep State.

JWalters , March 23, 2017 at 9:14 pm

Interesting speculations. For new readers just getting acquainted with the Deep State, consider the scholarly work by professor Peter Dale Scott. Here are three interviews about his books.

In the Conversations With History series from UC Berkeley.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBGgxU27kJA

Deep Politics on the 50th anniversary of JFK's murder.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0CFpMej3mA

The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. Democracy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QH9yOzhkio

[Mar 24, 2017] Paltering as a new way to not tell the truth

Notable quotes:
"... The palter was to skip the fact that it had broken down twice in the last year, instead saying, "This car drives very smoothly and is very responsive. Just last week it started up with no problems when the temperature was 5 degrees Fahrenheit." The outright lie would have been: "This car has never had problems." Researchers learned that car sellers perceived paltering as more ethical than lying, and thus used it more. ..."
"... Paltering allows people who consider themselves honest to deceive others while getting the same results that lying would. In a third experiment, participants in a pretend real estate negotiation performed just as well when they paltered as they did when they lied. Their successes didn't come without costs, however. When the deception was discovered, negotiation partners deemed palterers as untrustworthy as liars. ..."
"... One occasional advantage of paltering over lying is plausible deniability: You can blame any misunderstanding on the listener. ..."
"... So how can you avoid falling victim? "If you ask a specific question, that specific question should be answered, not a variant of it," Rogers says, even though insistence on clarification "often makes you look like a jerk." ..."
"... Paltering relies on our tendency to trust others and not cause a scene. ..."
Mar 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs : March 18, 2017 at 08:39 PM , 2017 at 08:39 PM 'Paltering,' a new way to not tell the truth
http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2017/03/17/paltering-new-way-not-tell-truth/TRB2ap22NK5Ya8KjF4x0GI/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe
Matthew Hutson - March 17, 2017

... ... ..

Although paltering occurs in all realms of life, researchers at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government focused on its use in negotiation. In one of eight studies to be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, study participants pretended to sell a used car on eBay. They answered the buyer's question "Has this car ever had problems?" with a response selected from a list supplied by the researchers.

The palter was to skip the fact that it had broken down twice in the last year, instead saying, "This car drives very smoothly and is very responsive. Just last week it started up with no problems when the temperature was 5 degrees Fahrenheit." The outright lie would have been: "This car has never had problems." Researchers learned that car sellers perceived paltering as more ethical than lying, and thus used it more.

In another study, half of surveyed executives said they paltered in more than "a few" of their negotiations, versus a fifth who said they actively lied more than a few times. Consistent with this discrepancy, executives viewed the behavior as more honest than lying.

Paltering allows people who consider themselves honest to deceive others while getting the same results that lying would. In a third experiment, participants in a pretend real estate negotiation performed just as well when they paltered as they did when they lied. Their successes didn't come without costs, however. When the deception was discovered, negotiation partners deemed palterers as untrustworthy as liars.

Another study found that victims saw palterers as less ethical than palterers saw themselves. We have a "broken mental model" of paltering, the researchers have concluded, seeing this behavior as honest when others do not.

One occasional advantage of paltering over lying is plausible deniability: You can blame any misunderstanding on the listener. Without knowing the speaker's intentions, it's difficult to diagnose paltering with certainty says Todd Rogers, a behavioral scientist at the Kennedy School and the paper's lead author. Few examples are as clear as Bill Clinton's response when asked if he'd had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky: "There is not a sexual relationship - that is accurate." (Note the slick use of present tense.)

So how can you avoid falling victim? "If you ask a specific question, that specific question should be answered, not a variant of it," Rogers says, even though insistence on clarification "often makes you look like a jerk."

Paltering relies on our tendency to trust others and not cause a scene. "It's pretty amazing how much you can get away with because of people's truth bias," says David Clementson, a researcher at Ohio State University's School of Communication, who was not involved in the study. "Paltering totally takes advantage of that, diabolically and deceptively."

Artful Paltering: The Risks and Rewards
of Using Truthful Statements to Mislead Others
Rogers, Todd; Zeckhauser, Richard; et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
Vol 112(3), Mar 2017,
https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/psp-pspi0000081.pdf

There's a Word for Using
Truthful Facts to Deceive: Paltering
HBR - Francesca Gino - October 05, 2016
https://hbr.org/2016/10/theres-a-word-for-using-truthful-facts-to-deceive-paltering

[Mar 23, 2017] Neoliberalism as a flavor of economism

Wikipedia

Economism is reduction of all social facts to economic dimensions. The term is often used to criticize economics as an ideology, in which supply and demand are the only important factors in decisions, and outstrip or permit ignoring all other factors.

It is believed to be a side effect of neoclassical economics and blind faith in an "invisible hand" or "laissez-faire" means of making decisions, extended far beyond controlled and regulated markets, and used to make political and military decisions.

Conventional ethics would play no role in decisions under pure economism, except insofar as supply would be withheld, demand curtailed, by moral choices of individuals. Thus, critics of economism insist on political and other cultural dimensions in society.

[Mar 23, 2017] Jane Harmon on On Point Radio also denied the existence of an American Deep State. That was especially rich coming from a long time supporter of the Military Industrial Complex

Mar 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Peter Van Erp , March 22, 2017 at 4:27 pm

"Why Steve Bannon Wants You to Believe in the Deep State" [Politico]. Yesterday, Jane Harmon on On Point Radio also denied the existence of an American Deep State. That was especially rich coming from a long time supporter of the Military Industrial Complex, and current member of the pundit class from her position as the First Woman to Head the Wilson Center.
Let the word go forth from this time and place that the government works in your best interests, despite the apparent fact that it doesn't work for most Americans and keeps delivering more and more benefits to the oligarchy. Any attempt to explain it as deliberate policy is a fantasy, a fever dream of rabid leftists right wing nuts.

Paid Minion , March 22, 2017 at 4:47 pm

Funny how some are getting their undies in a twist over "foreign interference" in our elections.

Globalists push global markets, global labor pools, global "race to the bottom" rules for white collar crime. Yet are surprised/offended by "global elections". Especially when the US government interferes (directly or indirectly) with every country on the face of the earth.

Maybe we should be happy that our government is for sale to the highest bidder, worldwide. After all, global competition has done so much for US business and labor.

So we have Global Kleptocrats. In charge of the Global Banana Republic.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , March 22, 2017 at 5:37 pm

"Domestic interference' is not OK.

But I think we should ignore it for now, per the Propaganda Ministry.

Lambert Strether Post author , March 23, 2017 at 3:51 am

Putin forced the Democrats to lose all those ballots in Brooklyn. It's incredible.

Lambert Strether Post author , March 23, 2017 at 3:58 am

> the deep state

Watch that definite article. (What that Politico article shows is how easy it is to write sloppy articles about the "deep state." That's because the deep state is such a sloppy, amorphous concept. It's very sloppiness is what makes it simultaneously (a) useful to our scribes in the political class, who can (b) bang out stories with click-baity headlines easily, while (c) disempowering to the rest of us (since to have power over your enemies, you have to understand them).

[Mar 18, 2017] The Role of Experts in Public Debate

Notable quotes:
"... Economist James K. Galbraith disputes these claims of the benefit of comparative advantage. He states that "free trade has attained the status of a god" and that ". . . none of the world's most successful trading regions, including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and now mainland China, reached their current status by adopting neoliberal trading rules." He argues that ". . . comparative advantage is based upon the concept of constant returns: the idea that you can double or triple the output of any good simply by doubling or tripling the inputs. But this is not generally the case. For manufactured products, increasing returns, learning, and technical change are the rule, not the exception; the cost of production falls with experience. With increasing returns, the lowest cost will be incurred by the country that starts earliest and moves fastest on any particular line. Potential competitors have to protect their own industries if they wish them to survive long enough to achieve competitive scale."[42] ..."
"... Galbraith, as always, is very succinct and readable. I well remember sitting in an economics lecture in the 1980's when the Professor mentioned Galbraith and described him as with distain someone 'who's ideas were more popular with the public than with economists'. The snigger of agreement that ran around the students in the hall made me realise just how ingrained the ideology of economics was as I'm pretty sure I was the only one of the students who'd actually read any Galbraith. ..."
"... I'd also recommend Ha-Joon Chang as someone who is very readable on the topic of the many weaknesses of conventional ideas on comparative advantage. ..."
"... "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." ..."
"... I've noticed many experts are especially bad at verbosity. Maybe they think somehow that quantity of words is a form of potency. Maybe that's it. Also individuals with a grievance who write posts about their grievance. I know when I have a grievance it's hard to shut up. I'm just being honest. I'll keep rambling and rambling, repeating myelf and fulminating. Thankfully I know better than to write like that. ..."
"... Thing 13: Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer. Trickle down economics doesn't work because wealth doesn't trickle down. It trickles up, which is why the rich are the rich in the first place ..."
"... Thing 23: Good economic policy does not require good economists. Most of the really important economic issues, the ones that decide whether nations sink or swim, are within the intellectual reach of intelligent non-economists. Academic Economics with a capital "E" has remarkably little to say about the things that really matter. Concerned citizens need to stop being intimidated by the experts here. ..."
"... Although Ha Joon Chang is an excellent economist, I would also strongly recommend Michael Hudson, Michael Perelman, Steve Keen and E. Ray Canterbery - they are really great, along with Samir Amin of Senegal. ..."
"... A major issue is that those incapable politicians do rely upon experts, but they have consistently selected experts not on their track record (such as how good economists were at predicting the evolution of the economy, or how good political scientists were at predicting the evolution of communist or Arab societies), but on whether pronouncements of experts corresponded to their ideological preconceptions and justified their intended policies. ..."
"... A bit like rejecting physicians' diagnoses when they do not suit you and preferring the cure of a quack. ..."
"... This is not restricted to economists, it pervasive in science in general. I can't remember how many times I got a paper for peer review where I couldn't figure out what the person was trying to say because they layered the jargon ten levels deep. ..."
"... I think it is as simple as: if you create something that justifies the behaviors of the rich and powerful, you have something to sell and willing buyers. If you create something that delegitimizes the behaviors of the rich and powerful, you not only have no willing patrons but you have made powerful enemies. ..."
"... It is the law of supply and demand for pretentious bullshit. ..."
"... Leave workers exposed to starvation long enough and they'll work for next- to-nothing. The solution to James O'Connor's Fiscal Crisis of the State is to clean house in a big way, a very big way. Put everyone out on the street and start all over again. (Everyone but the 1% of course.) ..."
"... It's Andrew Mellon's advice for getting out of the Depression: "liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate it will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up from less competent people." ..."
"... The Reserve Army of Labor saves the Capitalist Day, once again. (Except for the little problem that the 1% won't accept their own liquidation, so Goldman Sachs and the rest must be exempted from the purging–which means that the purging can't work.) ..."
"... Not too long before he died, Paul Samuelson said: "Maybe I was wrong on the subject of jobs offshoring." (I.e., maybe offshoring all the jobs and dismantling the US economy wasn't so intelligent after all!) ..."
"... C. Wright Mills called them "crackpot realists." ..."
"... It's all a part and parcel of the meritocracy. If you don't have a degree in Econ, your opinion doesn't matter about why your job moved to China. If you don't have a degree in Urban Planning, you don't get to comment on how the city wants to tear down the park and put up condos. ..."
"... Their advice helped lead to this 2008 Financial Crisis. The promise of neoliberalism was faster growth. It did not happen. Quite the opposite. It gave the rich intellectual cover to loot society. That"s what this was always about. ..."
"... Then there's the matter of the Iraq War. Another example. Many foreign policy "experts", particularly affiliated with the neoconservative assured the American people that invading Iraq would be easy to do and lead to lots of long term benefits. Others insisted, despite evidence to the contrary, that Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction. Now look at where we are. No WMDs, long and cost war, with no long-term solutions. Many of said "experts" later endorsed Clinton. ..."
"... We do not need pro-Establishment experts who sell themselves out to enrich themselves. We need experts who act in the public interest. ..."
Mar 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Sandwichman. Originally published at Angry Bear

Jonathan Portes asks, " What's the role of experts in the public debate? " He assumes it is his prerogative, as an expert, to define that role:

I think we have three really important functions.

First, to explain our basic concepts and most important insights in plain English. Famously, Paul Samuelson, the founder of modern macroeconomics, was asked whether economics told us anything that was true but not obvious. It took him a couple of years, but eventually he gave an excellent and topical example – simply the theory of comparative advantage.

Similarly, I often say that the most useful thing I did in my 6 years as Chief Economist at DWP was to explain the lump of labour fallacy – that there isn't a fixed number of jobs in the economy, and increased immigration or more women working adds to both labour demand and labour supply – to six successive Secretaries of State. So that's the first.

Second is to call bullshit.

O.K. I call bullshit. What Portes explained "to six successive Secretaries of State" was a figment of the imagination of a late 18th century Lancashire magistrate, a self-styled " friend to the poor " who couldn't understand why poor people got so upset about having their wages cut or losing their jobs - to the extent they would go around throwing rocks through windows, breaking machines and burning down factories - when it was obvious to him that it was all for the best and in the long run we would all be better off or else dead.

I call bullshit because what Portes explained to six successive Secretaries of State was simply the return of the repressed - the obverse of "Say's Law" (which was neither Say's nor a Law) that "supply creates its own demand," which John Maynard Keynes demolished in The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money and that John Kenneth Galbraith subsequently declared " sank without trace " in the wake of Keynes's demolition of it.

I call bullshit because when Paul Samuelson resurrected the defunct fallacy claim that Portes explained to six successive Secretaries of State, he did so on the condition that governments pursued the sorts of "Keynesian" job-creating policies that the discredited principle of "supply creates its own demand" insisted were both unnecessary and counter-productive.

But the lump of labor argument implies that there is only so much useful remunerative work to be done in any economic system, and that is indeed a fallacy . If proper and sound monetary, fiscal, and pricing policies are being vigorously promulgated , we need not resign ourselves to mass unemployment. And although technological unemployment is not to be shrugged off lightly, its optimal solution lies in offsetting policies that create adequate job opportunities and new skills.

[Incidentally, as Robert Schiller has noted, the promised prevention of mass unemployment by vigorous policy intervention did not imply the preservation of wage levels. Schiller cited the following passage from the Samuelson textbook, " a decrease in the demand for a particular kind of labor because of technological shifts in an industry can he adapted to - lower relative wages and migration of labor and capital will eventually provide new jobs for the displaced workers."]

I call bullshit because what Portes explained to six successive Secretaries of State was not even Paul Samuelson's policy-animated zombie lump-of-labour fallacy but a supply-side, anti-inflationary retrofit cobbled together by Richard Layard and associates and touted by Tony Blair and Gerhard Schroeder as the Third Way " new supply-side agenda for the left. " Central to that agenda were tax cuts to promote economic growth and "active labour market policies" to foster non-inflationary expansion of employment by making conditions more "flexible" and lower-waged:

Part-time work and low-paid work are better than no work because they ease the transition from unemployment to jobs.

Encourage employers to offer 'entry' jobs to the labour market by lowering the burden of tax and social security contributions on low-paid jobs.

Adjustment will be the easier, the more labour and product markets are working properly. Barriers to employment in relatively low productivity sectors need to be lowered if employees displaced by the productivity gains that are an inherent feature of structural change are to find jobs elsewhere. The labour market needs a low-wage sector in order to make low-skill jobs available.

I call bullshit because in defending the outcomes of supply-side labour policies, Portes soft-pedaled the stated low-wage objectives of the Third Way agenda. In a London Review of Books review, Portes admitted that "it may drive down wages for the low-skilled, but the effect is small compared to that of other factors (technological change, the national minimum wage and so on)." In the Third Way supply-side agenda, however, a low-wage sector was promoted as a desirable feature - making more low-skill jobs available - not a trivial bug to be brushed aside. In other words, in "driving down wages for the low skilled" the policy was achieving exactly what it was intended to but Portes was "too discreet" to admit that was the stated objectives of the policy.

dk , March 18, 2017 at 4:47 am

I found this helpful in better understanding the economics discussed:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparative_advantage#Criticism

Economist James K. Galbraith disputes these claims of the benefit of comparative advantage. He states that "free trade has attained the status of a god" and that ". . . none of the world's most successful trading regions, including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and now mainland China, reached their current status by adopting neoliberal trading rules." He argues that ". . . comparative advantage is based upon the concept of constant returns: the idea that you can double or triple the output of any good simply by doubling or tripling the inputs. But this is not generally the case. For manufactured products, increasing returns, learning, and technical change are the rule, not the exception; the cost of production falls with experience. With increasing returns, the lowest cost will be incurred by the country that starts earliest and moves fastest on any particular line. Potential competitors have to protect their own industries if they wish them to survive long enough to achieve competitive scale."[42]

Galbraith also contends that "For most other commodities, where land or ecology places limits on the expansion of capacity, the opposite condition – diminishing returns – is the rule. In this situation, there can be no guarantee that an advantage of relative cost will persist once specialization and the resultant expansion of production take place. A classic and tragic example, studied by Erik Reinert, is transitional Mongolia, a vast grassland with a tiny population and no industry that could compete on world markets. To the World Bank, Mongolia seemed a classic case of comparative advantage in animal husbandry, which in Mongolia consisted of vast herds of cattle, camels, sheep, and goats. Opening of industrial markets collapsed domestic industry, while privatization of the herds prompted the herders to increase their size. This led, within just a few years in the early 1990s, to overgrazing and permanent desertification of the subarctic steppe and, with a slightly colder than normal winter, a massive famine in the herds."

PlutoniumKun , March 18, 2017 at 5:45 am

Galbraith, as always, is very succinct and readable. I well remember sitting in an economics lecture in the 1980's when the Professor mentioned Galbraith and described him as with distain someone 'who's ideas were more popular with the public than with economists'. The snigger of agreement that ran around the students in the hall made me realise just how ingrained the ideology of economics was as I'm pretty sure I was the only one of the students who'd actually read any Galbraith.

I'd also recommend Ha-Joon Chang as someone who is very readable on the topic of the many weaknesses of conventional ideas on comparative advantage.

/L , March 18, 2017 at 6:39 am

James K Galbraith is the son of the famous New Deal economist John K Galbraith.

John K G:

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."

"In the case of economics there are no important propositions that cannot be stated in plain language."

/L , March 18, 2017 at 7:10 am

John K G on The Art of Good Writing

"I was an editor of Fortune under Henry Luce, the founder of Time, Inc., who was one of the most ruthless editors that I have ever known, that anyone has ever known. Henry could look over a sheet of copy and say, "This can go, and this can go, and this can go," and you would be left with eight to ten lines which said everything that you had said in twenty lines before.

And I can still, to this day, not write a page without the feeling that Henry Luce is looking over my shoulder and saying, "That can go." That illuminate one "problem" in our age of internet, unlimited space to be verbose and no editors that de-obscure the writers "thoughts".

JEHR , March 18, 2017 at 8:24 am

/L–This site is just wonderful! Anything you want to know about knowing seems to be here. Thanks for the great link.

sgt_doom , March 18, 2017 at 2:21 pm

Recommendation: Wealth, Power and the Crisis of Laissez-Faire Capitalism , by Donald Gibson

Norb , March 18, 2017 at 8:54 am

I wonder if this phenomenon – the desirability succinct communication -- was a holdover of earlier times, when accurate communication made the difference between life and death. Settling and developing a continent would place a high value on such purposeful human exchanges.

Today, we are awash in branding and marketing intended to maintain the current order. The language is used to obfuscate, not clarify experience or goals.

An expert in any field that has the ability to communicate in a general , popular mode, is of great value to society. Truth and understanding is its main function. Knowledge, or insight that cannot be shared is more often than not just an excuse to hide methods of control and exploitation.

If citizens can't get the generalities right, the specifics will be impossible to comprehend.

craazyman , March 18, 2017 at 5:23 pm

Almost everything can go. I remember seeing a video of the photographer William Klein saying a master photographer is remembered for just a handfull of images. Maybe 10 or 15, tops. Out of probably at least 100,000 serious photos.

Of course what goes is necessary fertilizer for what doesn't go. You can't avoid it. Hahahah. But you have to let it go anyway. Or your editor has to be williing to cut.

I've noticed lots and lots of posts here could be a lot better if the post author had said the same thing in half as many words. Most wouldn't lose any persuasion, if they had any to begin with. And they'd gain reader attention for the pruning.

I've noticed many experts are especially bad at verbosity. Maybe they think somehow that quantity of words is a form of potency. Maybe that's it. Also individuals with a grievance who write posts about their grievance. I know when I have a grievance it's hard to shut up. I'm just being honest. I'll keep rambling and rambling, repeating myelf and fulminating. Thankfully I know better than to write like that.

Having saidd all that, Say was rite. If the supply of labor increases, that createes its own demand for jobs! How is that not completely obvious.

PlutoniumKun , March 18, 2017 at 9:18 am

Ah yeah, sorry, getting my JK's mixed up. Both are good.

fresno dan , March 18, 2017 at 7:03 am

PlutoniumKun
March 18, 2017 at 5:45 am

Huffington Post review has a synopsis of the Ha-Joon Change book. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ian-fletcher/a-review-of-ha-joon-chang_b_840417.html
My favorite:
Thing 13: Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer. Trickle down economics doesn't work because wealth doesn't trickle down. It trickles up, which is why the rich are the rich in the first place

shinola , March 18, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Thanks for the tip PK & thank you fd for the link to the review. I'm going to check this fellow out; sounds like he has some interesting things to say. One of the "things" that may apply to the above article:

Thing 23: Good economic policy does not require good economists. Most of the really important economic issues, the ones that decide whether nations sink or swim, are within the intellectual reach of intelligent non-economists. Academic Economics with a capital "E" has remarkably little to say about the things that really matter. Concerned citizens need to stop being intimidated by the experts here.

sgt_doom , March 18, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Although Ha Joon Chang is an excellent economist, I would also strongly recommend Michael Hudson, Michael Perelman, Steve Keen and E. Ray Canterbery - they are really great, along with Samir Amin of Senegal.

Anonymous2 , March 18, 2017 at 8:10 am

A word of warning from the UK. Denigrate experts too much and you end up like us with government by people who really are inexpert. That is not an improvement.

Mael Colium , March 18, 2017 at 8:39 am

Ha! I think an anti brexiter just rolled the white eye.

Strange that the awful things that the experts told us all would happen haven't and don't look like happening since the people called bullshit on the EU mess. Britain with or without those blokes in dresses up north will do just fine as they steer themselves out of the EU quagmire. I'll take the people anytime anonymous – they have more common sense than the experts. Didn't you read the article?

Anonymous2 , March 18, 2017 at 9:51 am

If you are referring to economic forecasters, they, by definition, are not experts.

sgt_doom , March 18, 2017 at 2:16 pm

Thank you!!!

I remember back in the 1980s, when so-called "experts" were prattling about such nonsense as . . .

"Computers don't make mistakes, humans make mistakes !"

Which was surely untrue as anyone with any real IT expertise back then would have explained that 97% or more of hardware crashes generate software problems (for obvious reasons).

visitor , March 18, 2017 at 9:16 am

A major issue is that those incapable politicians do rely upon experts, but they have consistently selected experts not on their track record (such as how good economists were at predicting the evolution of the economy, or how good political scientists were at predicting the evolution of communist or Arab societies), but on whether pronouncements of experts corresponded to their ideological preconceptions and justified their intended policies.

A bit like rejecting physicians' diagnoses when they do not suit you and preferring the cure of a quack.

voislav , March 18, 2017 at 8:28 am

This is not restricted to economists, it pervasive in science in general. I can't remember how many times I got a paper for peer review where I couldn't figure out what the person was trying to say because they layered the jargon ten levels deep. This is in chemistry, so things are typically straightforward, no need for convoluted explanations and massaging of the data.

But people still do it because that's the culture that they've been educated in, a scientific paper has to be high-brow, using obscure words and complicated sentences.

Steve Ruis , March 18, 2017 at 8:55 am

I think it is as simple as: if you create something that justifies the behaviors of the rich and powerful, you have something to sell and willing buyers. If you create something that delegitimizes the behaviors of the rich and powerful, you not only have no willing patrons but you have made powerful enemies.

It is the law of supply and demand for pretentious bullshit.

Paul Hirschman , March 18, 2017 at 9:03 am

So in the end, we wind up with Say's Law anyway, since creating a "low wages" sector is exactly how Say's Law functions–supply creates its own demand because declining wages means investment spending can increase, which keeps aggregate demand where it needs to be for full employment.

This is the solution, we are told, to Keynes "sticky prices." Jim Grant makes this very argument in his book about the "short-lived" crisis of the early 1920s. Leave workers exposed to starvation long enough and they'll work for next- to-nothing. The solution to James O'Connor's Fiscal Crisis of the State is to clean house in a big way, a very big way. Put everyone out on the street and start all over again. (Everyone but the 1% of course.)

It's Andrew Mellon's advice for getting out of the Depression: "liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate it will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up from less competent people."

The Reserve Army of Labor saves the Capitalist Day, once again. (Except for the little problem that the 1% won't accept their own liquidation, so Goldman Sachs and the rest must be exempted from the purging–which means that the purging can't work.)

Back to managing stagnation.

Paul Hirschman , March 18, 2017 at 9:09 am

Managing stagnation is what we have "experts" for in the first place.

sgt_doom , March 18, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Not too long before he died, Paul Samuelson said: "Maybe I was wrong on the subject of jobs offshoring." (I.e., maybe offshoring all the jobs and dismantling the US economy wasn't so intelligent after all!)

Just finished a book called, The Death of Expertise , by a professor of national security (oh give me a frigging break!!!!), Tom Nichols.

Biggest pile of crapola I have ever read! The author was also yearning for the days when "experts" were blindly followed!

Sandwichman , March 18, 2017 at 2:38 pm

C. Wright Mills called them "crackpot realists."

marku52 , March 18, 2017 at 3:25 pm

It's all a part and parcel of the meritocracy. If you don't have a degree in Econ, your opinion doesn't matter about why your job moved to China. If you don't have a degree in Urban Planning, you don't get to comment on how the city wants to tear down the park and put up condos.

Altandmain , March 18, 2017 at 5:00 pm

The answer is that said "experts" have failed the general public miserably.

Their advice helped lead to this 2008 Financial Crisis. The promise of neoliberalism was faster growth. It did not happen. Quite the opposite. It gave the rich intellectual cover to loot society. That"s what this was always about.

Now people wonder, why they don't trust "experts"?

Then there's the matter of the Iraq War. Another example. Many foreign policy "experts", particularly affiliated with the neoconservative assured the American people that invading Iraq would be easy to do and lead to lots of long term benefits. Others insisted, despite evidence to the contrary, that Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction. Now look at where we are. No WMDs, long and cost war, with no long-term solutions. Many of said "experts" later endorsed Clinton.

We do not need pro-Establishment experts who sell themselves out to enrich themselves. We need experts who act in the public interest.

[Mar 10, 2017] As Joan Robinson said you should study economics to protect yourself from the lies of economists

That's not so much about Eurocentric modernism as America-centric neoliberalism
Notable quotes:
"... He first caught the scent that something was off as an economics student in India, wondering why, despite his mastery of the mathematics and technology of the discipline, the logic always escaped him. Then one day he had an epiphany: the whole thing was "cockeyed from start to finish." To his amazement, his best teachers agreed. "Then why are we studying economics?" demanded the pupil. "To protect ourselves from the lies of economists," replied the great economist Joan Robinson. ..."
"... Kanth realized that people are not at all like Adam Smith's homo economicus , a narrowly self-interested agent trucking and bartering through life. Smith had turned the human race - a species capable of wondrous caring, creativity, and conviviality - into a nasty horde of instinctive materialists: a society of hustlers. ..."
"... how this way of thinking took hold of us, and how it delivered a society which is essentially asocial - one in which everybody sees everybody else as a means to their own private ends. ..."
"... he argues, consigned us to an endless and exhausting Hobbesian competition. For every expansion of the market, we found our social space shrunk and our natural environment spoiled. For every benefit we received, there came a new way to pit us against each other. Have the costs become too high? ..."
"... "That's our big dream," says Kanth. "Everyone and everything is a stepping stone to our personal glorification." When others get in our way, we end up with a grim take on life described succinctly by Jean Paul Sartre: "Hell is other people." ..."
"... Mr. Kanth makes some valid points, but his criticism of the European Enlightenment is mistaken. Many of the horrors of modernity had their origins in the Counter-Enlightenment and in the Church Inquisitions, not the Enlightenment. The modern police state is a refinement of and a descendant of the struggles against heresy. ..."
"... Agreed. Parramore's phrase 'history of a set of bad ideas' does seem a bit harsh for a description of the Enlightenment. ..."
"... Like most big ideas, the problem isn't with the original idea so much as the corruption of it over the years as it's put into practice. Massive reform is necessary for sure but I'll take the Enlightenment over nasty, brutish, and short any day. ..."
"... I read somewhere that some Native Americans looking down on the ruins of San Fransisco after the great quake of 1906, thought that at last the crazy white people would realize the folly of their ways, and become normal humans. ..."
"... So they were amazed that before the ruins even stopped smoking, the crazy white people, ignoring the obvious displeasure of the Great Spirit, were busy rebuilding the same mess that had just been destroyed. ..."
"... I have a strong suspicion that evil empires do not come to their senses, rather, one way or another, they get flattened. ..."
"... I can remember arguing over this in my philosophy classes way back in the 80's – that Objectivism and the Enlightenment were two sides of the same coin, and that those Enlightenment writers were writing tomes to justify their own greed and prejudices, while cloaking their greed and prejudices in "morality". ..."
"... At the time (I was young) it seemed to me that the Enlightenment was an attempt to destroy the basis of Jesus's and Buddha's philosophy – that the most moral position of humanity was to care for its members, just as clans, tribes, families, and other human societies did. ..."
"... "They didn't accomplish much" meaning they lost militarily to cultures with more aggression and better weapons. ..."
"... It seems to me that humans, as hierarchical mammals, really do have a desire to compete with each other for status and respect. The trouble is in organizing all of society around this one struggle, forcing everyone into explicit competition and making the stakes too high. When the losers can't afford to buy food, when they and their little children live on the street and die in the cold, when their kids can never compete on an equal field to improve their own status, things have gone too far. And in addition to material needs, humans also have a need for independence, an escape from being constantly ordered around by the winners and under someone else's thumb. ..."
"... Note, as an aside, how granting economic rights to outgroups like women and Blacks brought them into the same market competition. Well, a lot of men don't want to compete with women for status. They want to compete with each other. The more competitors you add the harder it is to win. But when all resources ..."
"... I think you're right about that and if we do ever manage to abolish capitalism and develop a less violent and more egalitarian society, there will need to be an outlet for that innate desire. I propose hockey. Beats starting a war . ..."
"... When President Trump defeated his rival in the last election, among the many ways in which the event was captured was a representation of the President as Perseus carrying the head of Medusa (Clinton) in his outstretched left hand. Medusa was a monster gorgon of the Greek mythology; a representation in this case by Clinton (a woman) who dared to take real power in this essentially male world and silenced for trying to participate in the public discourse (election). ..."
"... The point is that what passes as Modernism has never entered modern life. In support of my proposition I cite an encounter between a journalist and Mahatma Gandhi in 1930s: The journalist asked Gandhi, "Mr. Gandhi, what is your opinion of the western civilization?" Gandhi replied instantaneously "It would be a good idea". ..."
"... I think he's right about Eurocentric modernism being incompatible with human civilization. But it can't be just an evolutionary accident that civilization is so aggressive. It served a purpose. We refer to it as 'survival'. I used to tell my daughter not to make fun of those 'dorky little boys' too much because they all had a way of growing up to be very nice men. And I told her women are the reason we have all survived, but men have made it so much easier! And etc. ..."
"... I believe that one element of modern life that should be removed forever is the infinite search for maximizing profits. ..."
"... On more than one occasion I've compared the rent-seeking profit mongers to Molocks that cultivate us milder Eloi and cannabalize us. ..."
"... But the economics profession's problem isn't "blind faith in science." It's a massive failure to apply the scientific method, combined with an expectation that we all put our blind faith in THEM anyway. ..."
"... Essentially a post-modern critique of modernism without all the jargon of p-m critical theory (yay!!). I don't think we have enough data from the pre-modern huddling societies to determine if that's how we want to live. Yes, my boss at work exploits me, but on the other hand, I can walk into an air-conditioned supermarket and survey row after row of steaks that I can afford to buy. I love to drive cars. The cinema is enchanting. Dying of a plague is a very remote possibility. We could give it all up, but there's no guarantee our lives would be richer or fuller–just different, at best. ..."
"... Just how dark were the Dark Ages? Or, to borrow Churchill's phrase, how dark would a NEW Dark Age be? ..."
"... Two possibles: the cargo cult children of Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome, or the society depicted in Aldous Huxley's Ape and Essence. At least the Church in Rome and Constantinople provided some kind of lifeline of civilization during the collapse of the Roman Empire. What similar institution have we now? ..."
"... Sounds like bog-standard post-modernist tosh to me, just without the obscure ProfSpeak jargon that usually accompanies it. I fail to see how this is helpful. ..."
"... The only thing missing in this post is Bambi. Of course the Bushmen would kill Bambi dead with spears and roast her flesh over a fire. So would we, actually. hmmmm. ..."
"... I agree dude is right that the values now unraveling (democracy, pluralism, individualism, free speech, international-ism (in both the good and bad ways)) go all the way back to that time. ..."
"... But this article is a perfect example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Surely none of the third world cultures he praises got where they are by totally throwing out previous systems, the good parts and bad, every time they faced a crisis. ..."
"... IMO the problem is enlightenment values have been hollowed out, narrowed to only those superficial aspects of those values which benefit the marketplace. Like how real food got turned into Mosanto fast-food so gradually, nobody noticed that the nutrients are missing. ..."
"... Adam Smith had some good points that have been lost along the way, namely penalizing rent seeking. ..."
"... Smith has been seriously misrepresented. The Theory of Moral Sentiments shows a very different side to that presented by those who selectively quote from The Wealth of Nations. ..."
"... It's hard to tell from the rather incoherent summary of what looks like an incoherent argument, but the "everything went wrong after the Enlightenment" meme has been circulating for ages. It was speared pretty effectively by Domenico Losurdo in "War and Revolution" some years ago. The author seems to be jumbling all sorts of arguments together, some valid and some not, but the valid arguments are in general criticisms of liberalism, which is not the same of the Enlightenment. ..."
"... This is a very good point, as the Enlightenment was not merely a straight line connection to the blight of NeoLiberalism ..."
"... The naked embrace of selfishness, while never absent over these centuries, did have countervailing currents and forces with which to contend that were sometimes able to at least minimize the damage. But more recently, with supposedly scientific NeoLiberal economic thought sweeping the field throughout much of the first world, and with the overall decline of religious and moral systems as a counterpoise, things have reached an unlovely pass. ..."
"... homo economicus ..."
"... For further reading, I strongly recommend John Ralston Saul's "Voltaire's Bastards". ..."
"... I think that people who are interested in how the Enlightenment may or may not have contributed to the problems of modernity would do well to read Enemies of the Enlightenment: The French Counter-Enlightenment and the Making of Modernity , by Darrin McMahon. Another book of value is The Enlightenment: And Why It Still Matters , by Anthony Pagden. ..."
"... I should have mentioned that the full title is "Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West". ..."
Mar 10, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

Across the globe, a collective freak-out spanning the whole political system is picking up steam with every new "surprise" election, rush of tormented souls across borders, and tweet from the star of America's great unreality show, Donald Trump.

But what exactly is the force that seems to be pushing us towards Armageddon? Is it capitalism gone wild? Globalization? Political corruption? Techno-nightmares?

Rajani Kanth, a political economist, social thinker, and poet , goes beyond any of these explanations for the answer. In his view, what's throwing most of us off kilter - whether we think of ourselves as on the left or right, capitalist or socialist -was birthed 400 years ago during the period of the Enlightenment. It's a set of assumptions, a particular way of looking at the world that pushed out previous modes of existence, many quite ancient and time-tested, and eventually rose to dominate the world in its Anglo-American form.

We're taught to think of the Enlightenment as the blessed end to the Dark Ages, a splendid blossoming of human reason. But what if instead of bringing us to a better world, some of this period's key ideas ended up producing something even darker?

Kanth argues that this framework, which he calls Eurocentric modernism, is collapsing, and unless we understand why and how it has distorted our reality, we might just end up burnt to a crisp as this misanthropic Death Star starts to bulge and blaze in its dying throes.

A Mass Incarceration of Humanity

Kanth's latest book, Farewell to Modernism: On Human Devolution in the Twenty-First Century , tells the history of a set of bad ideas. He first caught the scent that something was off as an economics student in India, wondering why, despite his mastery of the mathematics and technology of the discipline, the logic always escaped him. Then one day he had an epiphany: the whole thing was "cockeyed from start to finish." To his amazement, his best teachers agreed. "Then why are we studying economics?" demanded the pupil. "To protect ourselves from the lies of economists," replied the great economist Joan Robinson.

Kanth realized that people are not at all like Adam Smith's homo economicus , a narrowly self-interested agent trucking and bartering through life. Smith had turned the human race - a species capable of wondrous caring, creativity, and conviviality - into a nasty horde of instinctive materialists: a society of hustlers.

Using his training in history and cultural theory, Kanth dedicated himself to investigating how this way of thinking took hold of us, and how it delivered a society which is essentially asocial - one in which everybody sees everybody else as a means to their own private ends. Eurocentric modernism, he argues, consigned us to an endless and exhausting Hobbesian competition. For every expansion of the market, we found our social space shrunk and our natural environment spoiled. For every benefit we received, there came a new way to pit us against each other. Have the costs become too high?

The Creed of Capture

The Eurocentric modernist program, according to Kanth, has four planks: a blind faith in science; a self-serving belief in progress; rampant materialism; and a penchant for using state violence to achieve its ends. In a nutshell, it's a habit of placing individual self-interest above the welfare of community and society.

To illustrate one of its signature follies, Kanth refers to that great Hollywood ode to the Western spirit, "The Sound of Music." Early in the film, the Mother Superior bursts into song, calling on the nun Maria to "climb every mountain, ford every stream."

Sounds exhilarating, but to what end? Why exactly do we need to ford every stream? From the Eurocentric modernist viewpoint, Kanth says, the answer is not so innocent: we secretly do it so that we can say to ourselves, "Look, I achieved something that's beyond the reach of somebody else." Hooray for me!

"That's our big dream," says Kanth. "Everyone and everything is a stepping stone to our personal glorification." When others get in our way, we end up with a grim take on life described succinctly by Jean Paul Sartre: "Hell is other people."

Sounds bad, but didn't Eurocentric modernism also give us our great democratic ideals of equality and liberty to elevate and protect us?

Maybe these notions are not really our salvation, suggests Kanth. He notes that when we replace the vital ties of kinship and community with abstract contractual relations, or when we find that the only sanctioned paths in life are that of consumer or producer, we become alienated and depressed in spirit. Abstract rights like liberty and equality turn out to be rather cold comfort. These ideas, however lofty, may not get at the most basic human wants and needs. .

... ... ...

Kanth, like many, senses that a global financial crisis, or some other equivalent catastrophe, like war or natural disaster, may soon produce painful and seismic economic and political disruptions. Perhaps only then will human nature reassert itself as we come to rediscover the crucial nexus of reciprocities that is our real heritage. That's what will enable us to survive.

... ... ...

DJG , March 10, 2017 at 10:27 am

Oh?

"The Eurocentric modernist program, according to Kanth, has four planks: a blind faith in science; a self-serving belief in progress; rampant materialism; and a penchant for using state violence to achieve its ends. In a nutshell, it's a habit of placing individual self-interest above the welfare of community and society."

Kanth hasn't dealt much with the wild skepticism of Enlightenment and modernist thinkers: That would put a strain on such simplistic thinking. He's never heard of Kant or Rousseau? Pascal? He's never even read Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach"? Dickens? A speech by Abraham Lincoln? The novels of Jane Austen? Maybe some articles by Antonio Gramsci? The Leopard by Tomasi di Lampedusa? Anything about Einstein? Or even Freud for that matter? Looked at a painting or etching or work in ceramic by Picasso?

Just because economics has devolved into looting and excuse-making for looting isn't a critique of the cultural and scientific flowering that were part of the Enlightenment and Modernism. Are we really supposed to think that Milton Friedman and his delusions have destroyed all aspects of the enormous changes since 1600 or so? And I, for one, don't want to backslide into the Baroque–when states used their power for religious wars so virulent that Silesia and Alsace were depopulated.

kgw , March 10, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Alienation is not the name of a river in Egypt BTW, Did any of your examples lead to anything other than this?
The sum of individuals adds up to the bizarre creature we call "culture." A flower in the air, to be sure.

craazyman , March 10, 2017 at 12:12 pm

They didn't even have food delivery! This post isn't the best evah in the history of NC - I mean it shouldn't be censored or taken down or anything and everybody has a right to an opinion, but "Oy Vey what a shock to a reader's delicate intellectual sensibilities."

You wonder if it's Beer Goggles that are being looked through or if this is a case of transference and projection. The fact that the post author is a poet raises suspicion, since they aren't the most reliable sources when it come so sober factual analysis.

Vatch , March 10, 2017 at 10:35 am

Mr. Kanth makes some valid points, but his criticism of the European Enlightenment is mistaken. Many of the horrors of modernity had their origins in the Counter-Enlightenment and in the Church Inquisitions, not the Enlightenment. The modern police state is a refinement of and a descendant of the struggles against heresy.

If one is going to criticize societies for lacking "moral economies", it's not just the European (and American) based societies that need to be targeted. Other societies have deep failures that extend back for millennia, such as the caste system of India.

lyman alpha blob , March 10, 2017 at 1:51 pm

Agreed. Parramore's phrase 'history of a set of bad ideas' does seem a bit harsh for a description of the Enlightenment.

Been a while since I read Candide , but the end where he meets the world famous sage and asks for the secret of happiness in a terrible world only to be told 'Tend your own garden' and then having the gate slammed in his face has always stuck with me.

You could interpret that to mean isolate yourself from your fellow human beings and just look out for yourself, but I don't think that's what Voltaire was getting at.

Like most big ideas, the problem isn't with the original idea so much as the corruption of it over the years as it's put into practice. Massive reform is necessary for sure but I'll take the Enlightenment over nasty, brutish, and short any day.

Mark P. , March 10, 2017 at 1:53 pm

http://www.kashgar.com.au/articles/life-in-india-the-practice-of-sati-or-widow-burning

Widow-burning - a wonderful holistic Indian practice that those evil post-enlightenment European imperialists obstructed.

steelhead23 , March 10, 2017 at 10:43 am

Perhaps, beyond anthropology, there are lessons in evolutionary biology. Individual humans are fairly weak animals. Our ancestors were obligated to "huddle" to survive, or as Richard Dawkins might suggest, huddling, banding together in families and groups, was an evolutionarily successful strategy. Those well adapted to communal living were more likely to survive, so that tendency was selected for. However, "cheaters" can also survive. That is, it is not uncommon in the natural world to find individuals and groups of individuals who cheat the group – expend less energy to reproduce, such as male sunfish that display the secondary sexual characteristics of females, so are not driven off by nest building males, make a mad dash in to fertilize eggs when a real female shows up, but provides no protection for the young – the adult male does that. In human culture, there are also cheaters, those who provide little to the larger society, yet reap a disproportionate level of resources.

So, learning more of our cultural roots and adopting positive measures for social cohesion is a good idea, but much like Jesus' view that the poor will always be with us, cheaters, from banksters to dictators, will too.

MtnLife , March 10, 2017 at 10:43 am

As Kanth sees it, most of our utopian visions carry on the errors and limitations born of a misguided view of human nature. That's why communism, as it was practiced in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, projected a materialist perspective on progress while ignoring the natural human instinct for autonomy- the ability to decide for ourselves where to go and what to say and create. On flip side, capitalism runs against our instinct to trust and take care of each other.

I think this paragraph speaks volumes for transitioning to a society with a BGI with libertarian socialist leanings. Let people be free to create what they are passionate about while allowing humans to express their innate desire to care for one another without it signifying weakness or at their time own personal expense. I don't think this approach necessarily precludes rockets to Mars either. The engineers who are passionate will still get together and build one. It may take a little longer if they can't convince others to help but hopefully this will foster more cooperative approaches and less viewing of other humans as consumables.

Great post. Thanks for sharing.

JTMcPhee , March 10, 2017 at 12:27 pm

And where does "libertarian socialism" end up taking us? Hmmm http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/11/journey-into-a-libertarian-future-part-i-%e2%80%93the-vision.html

No thanks. We're pretty well there already.

MtnLife , March 10, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Libertarianism and libertarian socialism are two different things. Libertarianism is a less authoritative conservatism while libertarian socialism is a less authoritative social democracy. Think Chomsky, not Ron Paul. Or think of it as a more relaxed Bernie who thinks things should be done on a smaller, more local scale.

Watt4Bob , March 10, 2017 at 10:44 am

Kanth, like many, senses that a global financial crisis, or some other equivalent catastrophe, like war or natural disaster, may soon produce painful and seismic economic and political disruptions. Perhaps only then will human nature reassert itself as we come to rediscover the crucial nexus of reciprocities that is our real heritage. That's what will enable us to survive.

I read somewhere that some Native Americans looking down on the ruins of San Fransisco after the great quake of 1906, thought that at last the crazy white people would realize the folly of their ways, and become normal humans.

So they were amazed that before the ruins even stopped smoking, the crazy white people, ignoring the obvious displeasure of the Great Spirit, were busy rebuilding the same mess that had just been destroyed.

I have a strong suspicion that evil empires do not come to their senses, rather, one way or another, they get flattened.

justanotherprogressive , March 10, 2017 at 10:45 am

Yes, yes, yes! THIS!

I can remember arguing over this in my philosophy classes way back in the 80's – that Objectivism and the Enlightenment were two sides of the same coin, and that those Enlightenment writers were writing tomes to justify their own greed and prejudices, while cloaking their greed and prejudices in "morality".

At the time (I was young) it seemed to me that the Enlightenment was an attempt to destroy the basis of Jesus's and Buddha's philosophy – that the most moral position of humanity was to care for its members, just as clans, tribes, families, and other human societies did.

The most frequent response from professors and classmates to my thesis? But those clans, tribes, families, etc., didn't accomplish much, did they? As if the only reason for humanity's existence was to compete against itself

Needless to say, I didn't stick with Philosophy ..

Darius , March 10, 2017 at 12:13 pm

And we need new syntheses, at which this is an attempt.

It's not a stretch to say the trend since the renaissance has been to exalt the individual. Kanth is aiming for a communitarian philosophy. An interesting departure point for discussion. I don't see what people find so offensive.

reslez , March 10, 2017 at 12:09 pm

"They didn't accomplish much" meaning they lost militarily to cultures with more aggression and better weapons.

It seems to me that humans, as hierarchical mammals, really do have a desire to compete with each other for status and respect. The trouble is in organizing all of society around this one struggle, forcing everyone into explicit competition and making the stakes too high. When the losers can't afford to buy food, when they and their little children live on the street and die in the cold, when their kids can never compete on an equal field to improve their own status, things have gone too far. And in addition to material needs, humans also have a need for independence, an escape from being constantly ordered around by the winners and under someone else's thumb.

Capitalism made the stakes too high. But it was designed by the winners.

You might argue that there were plenty of "hopeless losers" in the systems that preceded capitalism - the orphans, elderly crones, and beggars without livelihoods who used to wander the hedgerows in medieval times. We have more resources now which also means no excuses.

Note, as an aside, how granting economic rights to outgroups like women and Blacks brought them into the same market competition. Well, a lot of men don't want to compete with women for status. They want to compete with each other. The more competitors you add the harder it is to win. But when all resources are restricted to the market, it's unjust to exclude any group from access. Once again the stakes are too high. Social democracies are better places to live for exactly this reason.

lyman alpha blob , March 10, 2017 at 1:18 pm

It seems to me that humans, as hierarchical mammals, really do have a desire to compete with each other for status and respect.

I think you're right about that and if we do ever manage to abolish capitalism and develop a less violent and more egalitarian society, there will need to be an outlet for that innate desire. I propose hockey. Beats starting a war .

Hemang , March 10, 2017 at 10:50 am

When President Trump defeated his rival in the last election, among the many ways in which the event was captured was a representation of the President as Perseus carrying the head of Medusa (Clinton) in his outstretched left hand. Medusa was a monster gorgon of the Greek mythology; a representation in this case by Clinton (a woman) who dared to take real power in this essentially male world and silenced for trying to participate in the public discourse (election).

I take this example to point out that both Lynn Parramore and Rajni Kanth declaring in a version of mumbo-jumbo are sadly wrong-modernism has always been skin-deep excepting in accommodating the technological element in the tone of life. Voltaire and Rousseau aside, both Kanth and Parramore know which side of the mumbo-jumbo bread is their butter; even bemoaning the collapsing supposed ruins of modernism they do not fail to take advantage! "Eurocentric modernism has unhinged us from our human nature" asserts Kanth in his "book" but I would like to bluntly ask him: Please define your "us" and "our" in that proposition and clarify if poor Indians like Yours Truly find a dot in that set.

The point is that what passes as Modernism has never entered modern life. In support of my proposition I cite an encounter between a journalist and Mahatma Gandhi in 1930s: The journalist asked Gandhi, "Mr. Gandhi, what is your opinion of the western civilization?" Gandhi replied instantaneously "It would be a good idea".

Stephanie , March 10, 2017 at 11:04 am

"The Eurocentric modernist program, according to Kanth, has a penchant for using state violence to achieve its ends."

I'm not entirely sure how this differentiates Eurocentric modernism from any other civilization.

Hemang , March 10, 2017 at 11:45 am

It does not at all. This is the price one pays as an innocent reader by reading social science mumbo jumbo which is so irksome. It lacks the grace of the real mumbo jumbo too. Kanth is bluffing; the author misunderstands his stupid linguistic constructions of Kanth and incomprehension and chaos follow. The whole article seems to be a bluff about a bluff(the book).

susan the other , March 10, 2017 at 11:15 am

I think he's right about Eurocentric modernism being incompatible with human civilization. But it can't be just an evolutionary accident that civilization is so aggressive. It served a purpose. We refer to it as 'survival'. I used to tell my daughter not to make fun of those 'dorky little boys' too much because they all had a way of growing up to be very nice men. And I told her women are the reason we have all survived, but men have made it so much easier! And etc.

We have been very successful as a species; surviving all of our own inquisitions, pogroms, hallucinations and yes, this is a serious situation we are in. We might even try to guide ourselves out of it, using science and technology, as we huddle.

JEHR , March 10, 2017 at 11:18 am

I believe that one element of modern life that should be removed forever is the infinite search for maximizing profits.

Art Eclectic , March 10, 2017 at 11:34 am

On more than one occasion I've compared the rent-seeking profit mongers to Molocks that cultivate us milder Eloi and cannabalize us.

readerOfTeaLeaves , March 10, 2017 at 11:56 am

I suspect there was a fatal error long, long ago: you lend me your ram so my ewe can have offspring. If there are twins, we each get one; if not, we agree upon future breeding rights and grazing areas. After generations of this sort of breeding activity, I have in my mind the notion that there is a 'natural increase' from lending or swapping.

Along comes a scribe with a tablet, whom I have now hired to list the number of my flocks (wealth on the hoof); I lend you forms of wealth (rams, ewes, oxen, axes, boats) , and the scribe assumes there must be some 'natural increase' as the outcome of this lending and swapping. Consequently, the scribe carves cuneiform markings to represent what we might call 'compound interest' that result from lending and swapping of non-biological resources - despite the fact that if you sit two clay tablets in the sun, they do not (and never will!) create an additional clay tablet. Ditto heaps of dollar bills; it's not the money that creates increase; it's the assumption of 'increase' (originating in breeding activity of flocks and herds) that makes the money generate surplus - not any property of those scraps of paper themselves.

BTW: FWIW, double entry bookkeeping seems to trace the earliest period of modernism, which IMVHO adds heft to Kanth's argument about something shifting probably earlier than 400 years ago.

It's possible that Michael Hudson has covered this; if so, I've not had time to read it yet. I hope to in future. David Graeber's work on redemption ('buying back' someone enslaved or indentured) and his anthropological findings also lend heft to Kanth's analysis.

Karen , March 10, 2017 at 11:28 am

I certainly agree with this:

"He first caught the scent that something was off as an economics student in India, wondering why, despite his mastery of the mathematics and technology of the discipline, the logic always escaped him. Then one day he had an epiphany: the whole thing was "cockeyed from start to finish.""

But the economics profession's problem isn't "blind faith in science." It's a massive failure to apply the scientific method, combined with an expectation that we all put our blind faith in THEM anyway.

I think our problems do not stem from any theories or ideologies, they are the predictable result of human nature – specifically of the fact that the balance between the loving side of human nature and the aggressive side is not evenly distributed among individuals. It is precisely the most aggressive among us who most desire, and work the hardest, to dominate and control others.

jrs , March 10, 2017 at 12:39 pm

I had the same experience as he had with economics with law, ok I only studied it when studying business and that does not a lawyer make, but it made no sense for me. But I do think I maybe just have the wrong kind of brain for it, expect a logic that isn't there.

Phil in KC , March 10, 2017 at 11:33 am

Essentially a post-modern critique of modernism without all the jargon of p-m critical theory (yay!!). I don't think we have enough data from the pre-modern huddling societies to determine if that's how we want to live. Yes, my boss at work exploits me, but on the other hand, I can walk into an air-conditioned supermarket and survey row after row of steaks that I can afford to buy. I love to drive cars. The cinema is enchanting. Dying of a plague is a very remote possibility. We could give it all up, but there's no guarantee our lives would be richer or fuller–just different, at best.

Just how dark were the Dark Ages? Or, to borrow Churchill's phrase, how dark would a NEW Dark Age be? I don't think you can get rid of Modernism very easily, for certain parts would survive. Science and tech, for example. Ideas of surveillance and control. But along with this, new prejudices, new superstitions, perhaps? What perverse new form of religion or philosophy might arise from the ashes of our civilization?

Two possibles: the cargo cult children of Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome, or the society depicted in Aldous Huxley's Ape and Essence. At least the Church in Rome and Constantinople provided some kind of lifeline of civilization during the collapse of the Roman Empire. What similar institution have we now?

Anonymous , March 10, 2017 at 11:58 am

Sounds like bog-standard post-modernist tosh to me, just without the obscure ProfSpeak jargon that usually accompanies it. I fail to see how this is helpful.

craazyman , March 10, 2017 at 11:38 am

The only thing missing in this post is Bambi. Of course the Bushmen would kill Bambi dead with spears and roast her flesh over a fire. So would we, actually. hmmmm.

Ivy , March 10, 2017 at 11:38 am

To illustrate one of its signature follies, Kanth refers to that great Hollywood ode to the Western spirit, "The Sound of Music." Early in the film, the Mother Superior bursts into song, calling on the nun Maria to "climb every mountain, ford every stream."

Sounds exhilarating, but to what end? Why exactly do we need to ford every stream? From the Eurocentric modernist viewpoint, Kanth says, the answer is not so innocent: we secretly do it so that we can say to ourselves, "Look, I achieved something that's beyond the reach of somebody else." Hooray for me!

Many would part company with Kanth over the above characterization. There are many reasons why people climb mountains and ford streams that do not include, or even consider, that element of exclusive personal achievement. Some might even aver that climbing and fording and so many other human activities are done "because it is there", while others appreciate a spiritual or other inspirational aspect.

Will we climbers and forders be told that we are selfish or otherwise deficient or on the wrong side of history or whatever the mal du jour is because we like a little bit of hygge or Gemütlichkeit as we live our lives?

windsock , March 10, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Quite that is indeed the point where I stopped reading and started skimming someone who mistakes metaphors in a musical for physical actions is not going to enlighten my world (no matter how much I dislike the film).

jrs , March 10, 2017 at 12:48 pm

climbing every mountain and fording every stream is probably impossible in the literal sense (aren't there way too many streams for this? and mountains probably too), and certainly it is impossible in the metaphoric one.

So mostly it's completely unrealistic bilge.

Musicismath , March 10, 2017 at 1:49 pm

I don't see why poor Julie Andrews, of all people, has to be singled out here as exemplifying malign post-Enlightenment discourses of proprietorship and exploitation. That's just mean . Surely those ideologies are better examined through a close reading of the Shamen's inexcusable '90s electro hit "Move Every Mountain"?

schultzzz , March 10, 2017 at 11:45 am

I agree dude is right that the values now unraveling (democracy, pluralism, individualism, free speech, international-ism (in both the good and bad ways)) go all the way back to that time.

But this article is a perfect example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Surely none of the third world cultures he praises got where they are by totally throwing out previous systems, the good parts and bad, every time they faced a crisis.

IMO the problem is enlightenment values have been hollowed out, narrowed to only those superficial aspects of those values which benefit the marketplace. Like how real food got turned into Mosanto fast-food so gradually, nobody noticed that the nutrients are missing.

PKMKII , March 10, 2017 at 11:47 am

While it's obvious how this thesis deflates modern capitalism, it would also appear to me that the idea of refocusing on "kinship and community" would present a challenge to the "global solidarity" mentality underlying most leftist thinking as well. You cannot simultaneously have an emphasis on the huddled community, while also arguing that workers worldwide have a deeper and more important connection than the business owner and his or her employees (assuming both are from within the same community, natch). Either you assume humans have a universal commonness, which effectively obliterates the notion of community, or you accept humans tend towards tribalism, which both discounts any notion of creating a global, uniform leftist economics, but also suggests a troubling tendency towards xenophobia.

cojo , March 10, 2017 at 12:06 pm

Good point, "kinship and community" are analogous to tribalism and nationalism on a larger scale unless you rephrase it to mean kinship with your family and neighbors on the local level, and with humanity on a national/global level. Unfortunately, some of our current liberal globalists seem to be forgetting the part about local kinship and community while embracing global humanity. I dunno, may have something to do with cheaper labor abroad.

PKMKII , March 10, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Partly, but there's also an association in the minds of many liberals and leftists of localized control and thinking equating with oppression, historically. Things like segregation, discrimination, violations of the separation of church and state, anti-labor employment & worksite laws, etc.

cojo , March 10, 2017 at 11:48 am

I think Kanth is quick to criticize materialism and scientific progress for all our ills while seeming to have missed the horrid standards of living in his anthropological studies prior to scientific progress with enlightenment principles over theocracy. I'd like to know what the longevity of per-enlightenment citizens was compared to today. In fact, longevity in this country around 1900 was still in the mid 40's for most.

What I find would have been a better argument is to focus his critique not on scientific progress, but on how there always seems to be a certain small minority of the population which seems to have an out sized voice in how we choose to self govern. What we seem to be losing today is the silent majority of voices who are for universal health care, not eroding further entitlements, bodily security as well as economic security while still being able to encourage those who chose to take risks and put themselves through more work and strain to be fairly rewarded.

The problem as I see it today, is that the pendulum, both politically, and socially, has swung too far towards the selfish individualist.

PKMKII , March 10, 2017 at 1:04 pm

The problem with how science is seen in a modernist context is two-fold. The "blind faith" leads people to see it as all-encompassing, all-powerful, and not recognizing its scope and where that scope ends. Ergo, anything that is successfully sold to the public and TPTB as "science" gets said treatment and is viewed as being unquestionable (like, say, neoclassical economics).

Don Midwest USA , March 10, 2017 at 11:50 am

Bruno Latour has been on this for decades in 1991 the book "We Have Never Been Modern" This has been followed by many other books, prizes, invited lectures, and thought exhibition called Reset Modernity. The book, published last year, is related to the exhibition with that title. Published by MIT press with 60 authors.

Reset Modernity

Reset Modernity!
Edited by Bruno Latour and Christophe Leclerc

Overview
Modernity has had so many meanings and tries to combine so many contradictory sets of attitudes and values that it has become impossible to use it to define the future. It has ended up crashing like an overloaded computer. Hence the idea is that modernity might need a sort of reset. Not a clean break, not a "tabula rasa," not another iconoclastic gesture, but rather a restart of the complicated programs that have been accumulated, over the course of history, in what is often called the "modernist project." This operation has become all the more urgent now that the ecological mutation is forcing us to reorient ourselves toward an experience of the material world for which we don't seem to have good recording devices.

Reset Modernity! is organized around six procedures that might induce the readers to reset some of those instruments. Once this reset has been completed, readers might be better prepared for a series of new encounters with other cultures. After having been thrown into the modernist maelstrom, those cultures have difficulties that are just as grave as ours in orienting themselves within the notion of modernity. It is not impossible that the course of those encounters might be altered after modernizers have reset their own way of recording their experience of the world.

At the intersection of art, philosophy, and anthropology, Reset Modernity! has assembled close to sixty authors, most of whom have participated, in one way or another, in the Inquiry into Modes of Existence initiated by Bruno Latour. Together they try to see whether such a reset and such encounters have any practicality. Much like the two exhibitions Iconoclash and Making Things Public, this book documents and completes what could be called a "thought exhibition:" Reset Modernity! held at ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe from April to August 2016. Like the two others, this book, generously illustrated, includes contributions, excerpts, and works from many authors and artists.

Sam , March 10, 2017 at 11:51 am

Seems to me that the insight into the relevancy of anthropology vis a vis economics is a product of science. And Adam Smith had some good points that have been lost along the way, namely penalizing rent seeking.

Anonymous2 , March 10, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Smith has been seriously misrepresented. The Theory of Moral Sentiments shows a very different side to that presented by those who selectively quote from The Wealth of Nations.

David , March 10, 2017 at 12:01 pm

It's hard to tell from the rather incoherent summary of what looks like an incoherent argument, but the "everything went wrong after the Enlightenment" meme has been circulating for ages. It was speared pretty effectively by Domenico Losurdo in "War and Revolution" some years ago. The author seems to be jumbling all sorts of arguments together, some valid and some not, but the valid arguments are in general criticisms of liberalism, which is not the same of the Enlightenment.

JerseyJeffersonian , March 10, 2017 at 1:25 pm

This is a very good point, as the Enlightenment was not merely a straight line connection to the blight of NeoLiberalism. Rather, there were those, such as Burke, or some of our "Founding Fathers" who were students of history, and while discriminating observers of the deleterious elements of human nature, they were also cognizant of the more helpful elements of that same human nature.

They, however, tended toward the view that those helpful elements required deliberate nurturance in order to come to the fore. Some of this nurturance could be achieved by partially neutralizing the deleterious elements by balancing interests (you weren't going to get rid of the propensities, but you could limit the scope of their play by pitting societal forces one against the other in political structures, vide the doctrine of separation of powers), while nurturance could also be achieved through perpetuation of those societal institutions that address the individual conscience and behaviors like religious doctrine and examples.

The naked embrace of selfishness, while never absent over these centuries, did have countervailing currents and forces with which to contend that were sometimes able to at least minimize the damage. But more recently, with supposedly scientific NeoLiberal economic thought sweeping the field throughout much of the first world, and with the overall decline of religious and moral systems as a counterpoise, things have reached an unlovely pass.

But it would be incorrect to solely blame Enlightenment themes for where we are today. Much of what was presumed to be necessary to the proper, humane functioning of the ideal Enlightenment society has been pushed aside in favor of the degraded every-man-for-himself, homo economicus scourge that holds sway.

Fox Blew , March 10, 2017 at 12:08 pm

Great post. For further reading, I strongly recommend John Ralston Saul's "Voltaire's Bastards".

Vatch , March 10, 2017 at 12:40 pm

Joseph de Maistre, the conservative critic of Enlightenment values, deserves far more blame for the horrors of modernity than do Voltaire or his like minded colleagues. And I can't even find de Maistre mentioned in the index of Saul's book.

Since I haven't read Saul's book, I won't advise people against reading it. But I think that people who are interested in how the Enlightenment may or may not have contributed to the problems of modernity would do well to read Enemies of the Enlightenment: The French Counter-Enlightenment and the Making of Modernity , by Darrin McMahon. Another book of value is The Enlightenment: And Why It Still Matters , by Anthony Pagden.

Fox Blew , March 10, 2017 at 1:28 pm

Thanks for mentioning Joseph de Maistre. I have never heard of him. I think you'd enjoy this book, nonetheless. Saul doesn't actually "blame" Voltaire. He blames those who came after Voltaire. For that matter, the bulk of the book is about the 20th century's (mis)interpretation of the Enlightment project. I should have mentioned that the full title is "Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West".

David , March 10, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Strongly recommend MacMahon's book – it's excellent.

Susan , March 10, 2017 at 12:26 pm

echoes: Marilyn Waring per his comment on women.
the book If Women Counted
the documentary: Who's Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics

Interesting story Waring told when I heard her speak in Toronto – As she boarded a bus at the airport to travel to her hotel, and a young man (20s) recognized her because the film is shown to high school students throughout Canada.

And Capital Institute's John Fullerton FIELD GUIDE TO A REGENERATIVE ECONOMY Primarily due to reading George Monbiot's inane rejection of the work of Allan Savory and Capital Institute's work with Grasslands LLC. Brought to me this morning by Nicole Foss and the Guardian.

And for farmer's and lovers of the land, I couldn't help but hear Wendell Berry, "It all turns on affection."

Interesting to have these things intersect with this morning's coffee. Thank you.

[Feb 26, 2017] If one takes it as a matter of faith (religious or secular) that human activity inherently leads to good outcomes thatll be a huge influence on how you engage with the world. It blows away humility and restraint. It fosters a sense of entitlement

Notable quotes:
"... "Precarity" has become a popular way to refer to economic and labor conditions that force people-and particularly low-income service workers-into uncertainty. Temporary labor and flexwork offer examples. ..."
"... Such conditions are not new. As union-supported blue-collar labor declined in the 20th century, the service economy took over its mantle absent its benefits. But the information economy further accelerated precarity. ..."
"... ...Facebook and Google, so the saying goes, make their users into their products-the real customer is the advertiser or data speculator preying on the information generated by the companies' free services. ..."
"... Consider phone answering services. Its simple speech recognition, which was once at the forefront of artificial intelligence, has made them ubiquityous. Yet Dante would need a new circle for a person who said "I just heard you say 5...3...7...is this correct?" ..."
"... Some of these adaptations subtract from our quality of life, as the article nicely describes. Some add to it, e.g we no longer spend time at the mall arranging when and where to meet if we get separated. Some are interesting and hard to evaluate, e.g. Chessplayers' relation to the game has changed radically since computers became good at it. ..."
"... And there is one I find insidious: the homogeneization of human activity and even thought. The information we ALL get on a subject will be what sorts to the top among google answers; the rest might as well not exist, much like newspaper articles buried in a back page. ..."
"... And on the economic front, the same homogeneization, with giant multinationals and crossmarketing deals. You'll be in a country with great food, like Turkey, get into your rented Toyota, say "I want dinner", and end up at a Domino's because they have a deal with Toyota. ..."
Feb 26, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Chris G : February 24, 2017 at 04:48 AM
On the Crooked Timber piece: Quiggin makes a very astute observation about 'propertarians' and Divine Providence in his concluding paragraphs. If one takes it as a matter of faith (religious or secular) that human activity inherently leads to good outcomes that'll be a huge influence on how you engage with the world. It blows away humility and restraint. It fosters a sense of entitlement.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Chris G ... , -1
Yep. All roads lead to scapegoating. The anti-social capabilities of base desires and greed are often paled in comparison to those of detached indifference supported by abstract high-mindedness. For example, both sides can blame the robots for the loss of decent blue collar jobs.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , February 24, 2017 at 04:58 AM
Not sure that there are "both sides" any more in elite circles. There are at least two types though. There is very little presence among elites on the progressive side.
Chris G -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , February 24, 2017 at 05:11 AM
Hard to call this related but worth reading, Why Nothing Works Anymore - https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/02/the-singularity-in-the-toilet-stall/517551/
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Chris G ... , February 24, 2017 at 05:54 AM
[THANKS! This was LOL funny:]

"...When spun on its ungeared mechanism, an analogous, glorious measure of towel appears directly and immediately, as if sent from heaven..."

[This was highly relevant to today's lead article "The Jobs Americans Do:"]

... "Precarity" has become a popular way to refer to economic and labor conditions that force people-and particularly low-income service workers-into uncertainty. Temporary labor and flexwork offer examples.

That includes hourly service work in which schedules are adjusted ad-hoc and just-in-time, so that workers don't know when or how often they might be working. For low-wage food service and retail workers, for instance, that uncertainty makes budgeting and time-management difficult. Arranging for transit and childcare is difficult, and even more costly, for people who don't know when-or if-they'll be working.

Such conditions are not new. As union-supported blue-collar labor declined in the 20th century, the service economy took over its mantle absent its benefits. But the information economy further accelerated precarity. For one part, it consolidated existing businesses and made efficiency its primary concern. For another, economic downturns like the 2008 global recession facilitated austerity measures both deliberate and accidental. Immaterial labor also rose-everything from the unpaid, unseen work of women in and out of the workplace, to creative work done on-spec or for exposure, to the invisible work everyone does to construct the data infrastructure that technology companies like Google and Facebook sell to advertisers...

[This was very insightful into its own topic of the separation of technology "from serving human users to pushing them out of the way so that the technologized world can service its own ends," but I would rather classify that as serving owners of proprietary technology rights.]


...Facebook and Google, so the saying goes, make their users into their products-the real customer is the advertiser or data speculator preying on the information generated by the companies' free services. But things are bound to get even weirder than that. When automobiles drive themselves, for example, their human passengers will not become masters of a new form of urban freedom, but rather a fuel to drive the expansion of connected cities, in order to spread further the gospel of computerized automation.

If artificial intelligence ends up running the news, it will not do so in order to improve citizen's access to information necessary to make choices in a democracy, but to further cement the supremacy of machine automation over human editorial in establishing what is relevant...

[THANKS! It was an exceptionally good article in places despite that it wandered a bit off into the ozone at times.] ...

Julio -> Chris G ... , February 24, 2017 at 09:26 AM
Excellent article, thanks!

It hits on one of the reasons why I am less skeptical than Darryl that AI will succeed, an soon, in all kinds of fields: it may remain stupid in some ways, but we will adapt to it.

Consider phone answering services. Its simple speech recognition, which was once at the forefront of artificial intelligence, has made them ubiquityous. Yet Dante would need a new circle for a person who said "I just heard you say 5...3...7...is this correct?"

Some of these adaptations subtract from our quality of life, as the article nicely describes. Some add to it, e.g we no longer spend time at the mall arranging when and where to meet if we get separated. Some are interesting and hard to evaluate, e.g. Chessplayers' relation to the game has changed radically since computers became good at it.

And there is one I find insidious: the homogeneization of human activity and even thought. The information we ALL get on a subject will be what sorts to the top among google answers; the rest might as well not exist, much like newspaper articles buried in a back page.

On the political front, Winston will not be necessary, nobody will click through to the old information, we will all just know that we were always at war with Eurasia.

And on the economic front, the same homogeneization, with giant multinationals and crossmarketing deals. You'll be in a country with great food, like Turkey, get into your rented Toyota, say "I want dinner", and end up at a Domino's because they have a deal with Toyota.

Resist!

Paine -> Julio ... , February 24, 2017 at 09:55 AM
Humans are more contrarian then not

The middle third of the twentieth century was hysterical about the totalitarian state
And the erasure of micro scale cultural heritage

That seems laughable since at least 1965 as lots of old long dormant memes
Revived in these frightfully "totalized " civil societies

The Motions of human Society reveal underlying dialectics not mechanics

Paine -> Paine... , February 24, 2017 at 09:59 AM
"1984 " is way past it's sell by date. Much like Leviathan and the declaration of independence
cm -> Julio ... , February 25, 2017 at 12:01 AM
There was probably more than one movie about this topic - people not happy with their "peaceful" but bland, boring, and intellectually stifling environment.

Not too far from Huxley's "Brave New World" actually.

[Feb 21, 2017] The Term "Deep State" in Focus: Usage Examples, Definition, and Phrasebook

Notable quotes:
"... By Lambert Strether of Corrente . ..."
"... The Atlantic ..."
"... derin devlet ..."
"... Glenn Greenwald, Democracy Now! ..."
"... Peggy Noonan, Patriot Post ..."
"... Breitbart ..."
"... Jefferson Morley, Alternet ..."
"... Greg Grandin, The Nation ..."
"... Benjamin Wallace, The New Yorker ..."
"... Counterpunch ..."
"... New York Times ..."
"... Marc Ambinder, NPR ..."
"... Marc Ambinder, Foreign Policy ..."
"... "Deep State Blooper" ..."
"... "Deep State Operation" ..."
"... "Deep State Actor" ..."
"... "Deep State Faction" ..."
"... That's ..."
"... Extreme Prejudice: The Terrifying Story of the Patriot Act and the Cover Ups of 9/11 and Iraq ..."
"... Conjuring Hitler: How Britain and America Made the Third Reich ..."
"... within the territory of the State ..."
"... Arrogant Capital: Washington, Wall Street, and the Frustration of American Politics ..."
"... "permanent government" ..."
"... "permanent government", ..."
"... "permanent government", ..."
"... "conducting killings" ..."
"... The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government ..."
Feb 21, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on February 20, 2017 by Lambert Strether By Lambert Strether of Corrente .

Since today is President's Day, there will be no Water Cooler. Which is a good thing, because this puppy took forever to write. –lambert

* * *

"It's called the ruling class because it rules." –Arthur Silber

Readers know that I've been more than dubious about that incredibly virulent earworm of a term, "deep state" ( December 1, 2014 ). However, in the last week or so, "deep state" is all over mainstream discourse like kudzu, and so it's time to look at it again. As we shall see, it's no more well-defined than before, but I'm hoping that if we aggregate a number of usage examples, we'll come up with a useful set of properties, and a definition. Following the aggregation, I'll propose a number of phrases that I hope can attenuate deep state 's virulence, and render it a sharper and more subtle analytical tool in posts and comments.

While the usage of "deep state" exploded last week after General Flynn's defenestration by Trump, it seems likely to me that the term had been spreading in the recent past before that, given that a series of politically motivated leaks by the "intelligence community" (IC) from summer 2016 onwards could colorably be attributed to such an entity. The examples are in no particular order; I haven't had the time to find a "patient zero."

Usage Examples of "Deep State"

1. The Atlantic . Since "deep state" as a term originated in Turkey ( derin devlet ), I'll start with a Turkish analyst:

There Is No American 'Deep State'

Zeynep Tufekci, a Turkish sociologist and writer at the University of North Carolina, tweeted a string of criticisms about the analogy Friday morning. " Permanent bureaucracy and/or non-electoral institutions diverging with the electoral branch [is] not that uncommon even in liberal democracies," she wrote. "In the Turkey case, that's not what it means. There was a shadowy, cross-institution occasionally *armed* network conducting killings, etc. So, if people are going to call non electoral institutions stepping up leaking stuff, fine. But it is not 'deep state' like in Turkey."

Comment: One danger I always face is projecting American politics onto other countries. Tufekci warns us the opposite is a bad idea too!

Properties: Permanent bureaucracy and/or non-electoral institutions; "shadowy," cross-institutional. We cross out "conducting killings" for the American context (or do we?).

2. Glenn Greenwald, Democracy Now! . Greenwald thinks the term is sloppy too (though "scientific" is a high bar):

The deep state, although there's no precise or scientific definition , generally refers to the agencies in Washington that are permanent power factions . They stay and exercise power even as presidents who are elected come and go. They typically exercise their power in secret , in the dark, and so they're barely subject to democratic accountability, if they're subject to it at all. It's agencies like the CIA, the NSA and the other intelligence agencies, that are essentially designed to disseminate disinformation and deceit and propaganda, and have a long history of doing not only that, but also have a long history of the world's worst war crimes, atrocities and death squads. This is who not just people like Bill Kristol, but lots of Democrats are placing their faith in, are trying to empower, are cheering for as they exert power separate and apart from-in fact, in opposition to-the political officials to whom they're supposed to be subordinate.

Comment: Later in the show, Greenwald says that the deep state is "almost engag[ing] in like a soft coup." Here's the Kristol tweet to which Greenwald alludes, explicitly applauding that coup with the bracing clarity so foreign to most Democrats:

I characterized Greenwald's soft coup - and Kristol's - more delicately as "a change in the Constitutional Order" ( "Federalist 68, the Electoral College, and Faithless Electors" ) but the sense is the same.

Properties: Kristol, not normal, not democratic, not constitutional; Greenwald: permanent power factions, agencies, especially intelligence agencies, which specialize in deception and require secrecy.

3. Peggy Noonan, Patriot Post :

Is [the current chaos], as some suggest, "deep state" revenge for the haughty, dismissive way Donald Trump spoke of the U.S. intelligence community during and after the campaign? Is it driven by the antipathy of the permanent government toward Mr. Putin, and a desire to bring down those, like Mr. Trump, who hope for closer relations with Russia?

It is a terrible thing if suddenly, in America, there is a government within the government that hates the elected government - and that secretly, silently, and with no accountability , acts on it.

Properties: Government within a government; secret; not accountable.

4. Breitbart . I don't normally cite to Breitbart, but since they're in the heart of the battle and have a usage example:

The "deep state" is jargon for the semi-hidden army of bureaucrats, officials, retired officials, legislators, contractors and media people who support and defend established government policies .

Comment: Interestingly, Breitbart finds it necessary to define the term for its readership, meaning it didn't originate on the right. Even more interestingly, Breitbart - very much unlike the more staid Peggy Noonan - urges, in my view correctly, that actors outside the alphabet agencies need to be considered.

Properties: Bureaucrats, officials (some retired), legislators, contractors, media. Brietbart doesn't use Janine Werel's term, Flexian - retired officials become talking heads, for example - but the concept is implicit.

5. Jefferson Morley, Alternet :

What Is the 'Deep State'-And Why Is It After Trump?

The Deep State is shorthand for the nexus of secretive intelligence agencies whose leaders and policies are not much affected by changes in the White House or the Congress . While definitions vary, the Deep State includes the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency, and components of the State Department, Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security, and the armed forces.

With a docile Republican majority in Congress and a demoralized Democratic Party in opposition, the leaders of the Deep State are the most-perhaps the only-credible check in Washington on what Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) calls Trump's "wrecking ball presidency."

And Roger Stone, a man who knows his memes:

"This is an effort by the Deep State to destabilize the president," Stone said.

Comment: Morley, then, agrees with Kristol (the "only check" in Trump).

Properties: Intelligence agencies; permanent.

6. Greg Grandin, The Nation . A useful review of the literature:

What Is the Deep State?

So at least as long as there has been private property, there has been private plotting, and talk of a "deep state" has been a vernacular way of describing what political scientists like to call "civil society," that is, any venue in which powerful individuals, either alone or collectively, might try to use the state to fulfill their private ambitions, to get richer and obtain more power .

Much of the writing frames the question as Trump versus the Deep State, but even if we take the "deep state" as a valid concept, surely it's not useful to think of the competing interests it represents as monolithic , as David Martin in an e-mail suggests. Big Oil and Wall Street might want deregulation and an opening to Russia. The euphemistically titled "intelligence community" wants a ramped-up war footing. High-tech wants increased trade. In 1956, C. Wright Mills wrote that "the conception of the power elite and of its unity rests upon the corresponding developments and the coincidence of interests among economic, political, and military organizations." If nothing else, the "Trump v. Deep State" framings show that unity is long gone.

Comment: Grandin does give an early usage example, but I'm totally unpersuaded by his identification of the "deep state" with "civil society." Rather - as Breitbart, amazingly enough, suggests - the deep state more plausibly includes components of civil society (media, contractors, etc.).

Properties: Not monolithic; includes (components of) civil society.

7. Benjamin Wallace, The New Yorker :

The Deep-State Theory Cuts Both Ways

This pattern of dissent ["#TheResistance"], and its early successes, has brought about a vogue for the theory of the deep state, usually used in analyzing authoritarian regimes, in which networks of people within the bureaucracy are said to be able to exercise a hidden will of their own

The federal government employs two million people; its sympathies move in more than one direction. While many federal employees may want to oppose the White House, others (especially border-patrol and immigration agents, whose support Trump often cited on the campaign trail) have already been taking some alarming liberties to advance the President's politics.

Comment: Wallace urges that some Federal employees in the permanent bureaucracy are, in essence, "working toward the Fuhrer," which is a consequence of the deep state not being monolithic. He attributes the "vogue" for "deep state" to the resistance, but I (and most others cited here) think it's the Flynn firing.

Properties: Bureaucratic networks; hidden.

8. Counterpunch

A Deep State of Mind: America's Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup

So who or what is the Deep State?

It's the militarized police, which have joined forces with state and federal law enforcement agencies in order to establish themselves as a standing army. It's the fusion centers and spy agencies that have created a surveillance state and turned all of us into suspects. It's the courthouses and prisons that have allowed corporate profits to take precedence over due process and justice. It's the military empire with its private contractors and defense industry that is bankrupting the nation. It's the private sector with its 854,000 contract personnel with top-secret clearances, 'a number greater than that of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government.' It's what former congressional staffer Mike Lofgren refers to as 'a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies': the Department of Defense, the State Department, Homeland Security, the CIA, the Justice Department, the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a handful of vital federal trial courts, and members of the defense and intelligence committees."

Comment: Seems pretty big to be deep

Properties: Law enforcement, contractors, agencies, the courts.

9. New York Times

As Leaks Multiply, Fears of a 'Deep State' in America

Though the deep state is sometimes discussed as a shadowy conspiracy, it helps to think of it instead as a political conflict between a nation's leader and its governing institutions.

That can be deeply destabilizing, leading both sides to wield state powers like the security services or courts against one another, corrupting those institutions in the process.

In countries like Egypt, Mr. El Amrani said, the line is much clearer.

There, "the deep state is not official institutions rebelling," he said, but rather "shadowy networks within those institutions, and within business, who are conspiring together and forming parallel state institutions."

Comment: Weird all around: The President is the President , the Chief Magistrate of the United States. He's not the "nation's leader," like in the title of sone kinda hardback in the "Business" section of your airport bookstore. And quite frankly, the description of the deep state in Egypt ("shadowy network," "parallel state institutions") jibes with a several of the other usage examples I've collected, right here in the United States.

Properties: I'll use Egypt's! Network, shadowy, businesses forming parallel state institutions.

10. Marc Ambinder, NPR :

With Intelligence Leaks, The 'Deep State' Resurfaces

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So how do you define the deep state?

AMBINDER: Well, I try to define it simply – maybe the national security and intelligence bureaucracy , the secret-keepers in the United States, people who have security clearances, who have spent 10 to 20 to 30 years working in and around secrets.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So when we're hearing about this term this week to do with Michael Flynn, what do we – what are people making that connection with potentially a huge group of people and this particular case?

AMBINDER: They're essentially alleging that the national security state, this metastate that exists and, again, traffics totally in secret – used its collective power in order to bring down a duly chosen national security adviser because they disagreed with him or they disagreed with his president or they disagreed with his policies. It is a term of derision, a term that suggests people are using their power for ill-begotten ends. And that, if true, sets up a crisis.

Comment: Ambinder, then, rejects putting a "civil society" construction on "deep state." (He also rejects Greenwald, and Kristol's, "soft coup.")

Properties: National security and intelligence bureaucracy; long-term.

11. Marc Ambinder, Foreign Policy . Ambinder gives an example of the deep state in action:

Trump Is Showing How the Deep State Really Works

The fact the nation's now-departed senior guardian of national security was unmoored by a scandal linked to a conversation picked up on a wire offers a rare insight into how exactly America's vaunted Deep State works. It is a story not about rogue intelligence agencies running amok outside the law, but rather about the vast domestic power they have managed to acquire within it.

Sometime before January 12, the fact that these [Flynn's] conversations [with the Russian ambassador] had occurred was disclosed to David Ignatius, who wrote about them. That day, Sean Spicer asked Flynn about them. Flynn denied that the sanctions were discussed. A few days later, on January 16, Vice President Mike Pence repeated Flynn's assurances to him that the calls were mostly about the logistics of arranging further calls when Trump was President.

Comment: Note the lack of agency in "was disclosed." Had the deep state not been able to use David Ignatius as a cut-out, the scandal would never have occured. Therefore, a media figure, a member of civil society, was essential to the operation of the Deep State, even though Ambinder's definition of the deep state doesn't reflect this.

Properties: Network; civil society.

* * *

So now I'm going to aggregate the properties suggested by these 10 sources, and make some judgements about what to keep and what to throw away. Throwing out Noonan's concept of "a government within a government", I get this. The deep state:

1. Gains power through (legal) control of state functions of secrecy and deception

2. Is "permanent"

3. Is not monolithic

4. Is composed of "cross-institutional" networks of individuals in both state (agencies, law enforcement) and civil society (media, contractors)

5. Is not democratic in its operation; and (potentially) is not accountable, not normal, not constitutional.

(Individuals within the deep state belong to factions that compete and cooperate, often in addition to their "day jobs," rather as in a "matrix management" construct.)

So, what'd I miss?

A "Deep State" Phrasebook

So, here are some phrases to use that reflect the above - very tentative - understanding. What I really want to do - and who know, maybe I'm trying to shovel back the tide here, too - is get away from the notion of "the" deep state. The deep state is not monolithic! Factional conflict within the deep state exists! So, in my view, the definite article is in this case disempowering; it prevents you from, as it were, knowing your enemy. So, if I have to join the chorus of people using the term, I'm going to think carefully about how do it. This list is a step toward doing that. (I'm going to use examples from the run-up to the Iraq War because it's less tendenitious and way less muddled than the Flynn defenestration.)

1. "Deep State Blooper" . I'm putting this first as an antidote to CT. Quoting Frank Herbert's Dune :

" [I]t occurred to Kynes that his father and all the other scientists were wrong, that the most persistent principles of the universe were accident and error."

It's important to put into our thinking right from the start that Deep State actors are not all-powerful, and that Deep State operations are not invariably successful. I mean, can anybody look at the foreign and nationally security outcomes from what these guys are doing and urge that the baseline for performane is very high? I don't think so. Accidents happen all the time, and these guys, for all the power their positions bring them, are accident-prone. (After all, they're not accountable, so they never get accurate feedback, in a typical Banana Republic power dynamic.

Example: "The Iraq WMD's yellowcake uranium episode was a Deep State Blooper." ( See here for details; the yellowcake uranium was part of the Bush administration's WMD propaganda operation to foment the Iraq War.)

2. "Deep State Operation" . I think it's important to view the Deep State (as defined above) as able to act opportunistically; although many Deep State Actors work for agencies, their operations are not bureaucratic in nature.

Example: "The White House Iraq Group was a Deep State propaganda operation that succeeded tactically but failed strategically" (See here for details ; the WHIG planted stories in the press to foment the Iraq War. They succeeded in that narrow goal, but the war itself was a debacle, and the damage to the credibility of the press as an institution took a hit.)

3. "Deep State Actor" . An individual can be a member of the Deep State as an official, and then later as media personality or contractor. (It also seems to me that once you have been within the intelligence community, you can never be said to have left it, since how could anyone know you have really left?

Example: "Leon Panetta is a consummate Deep State Actor." ( Panetta has been OMB Director, CIA Director, White House Chief of Staff, and Secretary of Defense. "[Panetta] regularly obtains fees for speaking engagements, including from the Carlyle Group.[55] He is also a supporter of Booz Allen Hamilton."

4. "Deep State Faction" . This is a no-brainer:

Example: "The Neoconservatives are a Deep State Faction."

Conclusions

I apologize for the length as I fought my way through the material, and I hope I haven't made any gross errors - especially political science-y ones! And any further additions to the Deep State Phraseology will be very welcome (but watch those definite articles!).

1 0 27 0 0 This entry was posted in Banana republic , Politics on February 20, 2017 by Lambert Strether . About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism ("Because markets"). I don't much care about the "ism" that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don't much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue - and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me - is the tens of thousands of excess "deaths from despair," as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics - even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton's wars created - bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow - currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press - a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let's call such voices "the left." Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn't allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I've been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

View all posts by Lambert Strether → Subscribe to Post Comments 109 comments Carolinian , February 20, 2017 at 2:21 pm

Gee you didn't even mention California's Bohemian Grove meeting where CEOs romp in togas and such.

And taken literally Deep State would presumably mean a secretive (deep) and more or less permanent ruling apparatus. We may have the latter but it doesn't seem all that secretive since they love to join think tanks and talk about their loony ideas. The term is often used to bolster conspiracy theories about how the CIA killed Kennedy and are secretly running the country. While recent movies like to portray CIA operatives as super human martial arts specialists they are just as likely boobs who make many mistakes but nevertheless don't mind ratting out Trump's phone calls as petty revenge. I'd say it's the not so secretive but still behind the scenes state we have to worry about. Think the CFR or that Kristol guy. In other words if the term means anything it could be the secondary tier of influencers who have the ear of our MSM.

sgt_doom , February 20, 2017 at 3:59 pm

Nothing theoretical about elements within the CIA (such as the fired Allen Dulles, and his still-in-the CIA cousin, Tracy Barnes - oopsy, Fake News never told you they were cousins, now did they?) - just requires a bit of reading and cross-referencing with declassified documents from the CIA, State and the FBI.

Deep State is really the financial-intelligence-complex who believes they are running things - the intel establishment was originally founded by the super-rich and their minions (such as Lovett and McCloy, etc.). When JFK was assassinated the Deputy Director of the CIA was Gen. Marshall Carter, recommended to McCone for that position by Nelson Rockefeller. And the fellow in charge of the reorganization of the CIA at the same time was Gen. Schuyler, Nelson Rockefeller's assistant.

You just have to look a bit . . .

Direction , February 20, 2017 at 4:34 pm

Juicy comment! Can you recommend any books or favorite articles?

James McFadden , February 20, 2017 at 11:42 pm

Some book recommendations about the deep state:

C. Wright Mills "The Power Elite" – describes how the indoctrination mechanisms create the deep state (military industrial political complex).

David Talbot "The Devil's Chessboard" – about the rise of the CIA and Allan Dulles

Laurence Shoup "Wall Street's Think Tank" – about the Council on Foreign Relations – the deep state's premier think tank

Michael Parenti "Dirty Truths" – about empire

John Perkins "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" – CIA coups and soft coups

I'm sure other readers can recommend many more on this subject.

Caveat Emptor , February 21, 2017 at 12:39 am

The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government
Mike Lofgren

The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. Democracy
Peter Dale Scott

WhatsNotToLike , February 21, 2017 at 10:27 am

James Galbraith, Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government

nonsense factory , February 21, 2017 at 12:55 am

There are a couple of books by Dan Briody that are very illuminating about how Deep State actors in government interface with corporate agendas:
The Halliburton Agenda: The Politics of Oil and Money (2004)
The Iron Triangle: Inside the Secret World of the Carlyle Group (2003)

I think of the Deep State as the military-industrial-intelligence-Congressional long-term national-security complex that grew up after World War II, there are perhaps four major elements:
(1) military and intelligence contractors who rely on the massive $600 billion military budget for their profits.
(2) executive branch bureaucrats who develop the contracts that are delivered to contractors (State/Pentagon/CIA/NSA/NRO/FBI/DOE etc.)
(3) Congressmembers (long-serving) on appropriations, intelligence, etc. committees who sign off on budget requests.
(4) Elements of mass media and think tanks who work overtime to promote the interests of the Deep State elements of the above actors.

It's a kind of self-perpetuating system that's primary agenda is to keep their budget from being cut by a healthy 50% – which is what we'd need to do to rebuild infrastructure, set up high-quality public education, and create a first-world health care system, i.e. to get up to German or Japanese standard-of-living norms.

Some have also pointed out that there's an element of the judicial branch that can be included in "Deep State" definitions (such as FISA Court); note that judicial review of executive foreign policy decisions is very rare in the American court system.

It's also factionalized; i.e. there's the nuclear weapons sector (DOE/NNSA and their contractors), the various Pentagon branches and their suppliers, NSA and their contractors, CIA and their contractors, etc. So they compete with each other for a share of the pie, but they all have a shared interest in preventing the overall pie from shrinking.

jo6pac , February 20, 2017 at 6:44 pm

Please a little help as Direction ask just to get us started. The dulles bros were truly evil and have trained their puppets well.

Vatch , February 20, 2017 at 7:18 pm

he intel establishment was originally founded by the super-rich and their minions (such as Lovett and McCloy, etc.).

Wow, Robert Lovett and John J. McCloy. For about three decades they were at the pinnacle of the United States Establishment. They were like Sejanus during the reign of Tiberius or Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus. Very, very influential behind the scenes.

DH , February 20, 2017 at 8:08 pm

Yeah, and they totally missed Davos.

I always thought the original deep state was the networks of the Knights Templar, Masons, and Illuminati.

However, I was wrong – according to the definitions above, it is probably Treadstone and Blackbriar.

Enquiring Mind , February 20, 2017 at 2:23 pm

Rex Tillerson's dealing with the seventh floor apparatchiks at the State Department is another productive step in calling out the nomenklatura . Russian themes seem so popular these days.

Cat's paw , February 20, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Perhaps helpful to know the original provenance of the term it comes from Turkish journalism when one fine evening a sedan was involved in a nasty wreck. Passengers in said sedan included a high ranking military official, a state or federal(?) representative/official, a crime boss, and a beauty queen.

My understanding: trying to comprehend what such a collection of worthies were doing in the same car led journalists to coin the term deep state. A networked web of power interests/relations across sectors and institutions that operate beyond above below out of sight of normative or visible politics.

Emma , February 20, 2017 at 4:27 pm

Here are more details: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susurluk_scandal

Charles Tuttle , February 20, 2017 at 2:41 pm

David Chibo in Unz Review Political Science's "Theory of Everything"
http://www.unz.com/article/political-sciences-theory-of-everything/

neo-realist , February 20, 2017 at 9:05 pm

I checked out that article from a previous post of the link and thought it was a very valuable, terrific and detailed explanation of Deep State theories w/ some fine literature recommendations.

Grebo , February 20, 2017 at 10:45 pm

The totality of truths is that the US "elephant" consists of a power elite hierarchy overseeing a corporatocracy, directing a deep state that has gradually subverted the visible government and taken over the "levers of power."

Complete with tables and diagrams! A must read IMHO.

oh , February 21, 2017 at 8:51 am

It's a good recommendation and well worth reading.

Qufuness , February 20, 2017 at 2:42 pm

People within the American Deep State are said to have compassed the removal of General Flynn, who was a prominent member of DS organizations himself, so yes, the DS is not a monolith. But are there powerful "permanent" factions with the DS that pursue long-term strategies?

There is another way of asking this. Much of what is now labelled "DS" grew out of the investment-banker+intelligence nexus in the immediate postwar period, or at least came to the surface around that time. America has made a series of disastrous unforced errors in the past 70 years, Vietnam and Iraq being the most prominent examples. While these errors have been harmful to the American people at large, is there a clique (besides the Military Industrial Complex) that benefits from these "errors," that has far-reaching goals that completely diverge from those of American constitutional democracy?

Minh , February 20, 2017 at 5:58 pm

Both Kennedy's and Diem brothers' assasinations and 911 mass murders were deep events to sell and organize war for the Empire part of American democracy. Not mentioning Peter Dale Scott is a minus of the listing of properties. What does the Deep state did ? 911 and JFK so Afghan Iraq and Vietnam wars.

ex-PFC Chuck , February 20, 2017 at 8:33 pm

It's my understanding that the investment banking crowd served as the government's intelligence arm on an informal, sub rosa basis well before WW II. Prescott Bush, GHWB's father, was involved in that.

Mark P , February 20, 2017 at 2:48 pm

Lambert, there is a Deep State in the U.S. as distinct from the mere ruling class (and yes, by definition, it has competing factions and power centers at different agencies).

A clarifying example of that is this guy, Andy Marshall, aka Yoda, who arguably had more effect on the direction of U.S. policy than any U.S. president over the last half-century and was finally removed from heading the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment just before his 95th birthday. That's power.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Marshall_(foreign_policy_strategist)#cite_note-5

Yet most people have never heard of Marshall and he never enriched himself particularly. You won't be able to tell the influence he exerted from his Wiki page either, except perhaps for the mention of Marshall 'proteges' being the likes of Rumsfeld, Cheney, etc. Furthermore, before Nixon installed him at the Pentagon, in the 1950s and 60s Marshall was at the RAND corporation helping to formulate nuclear strategy.

Here's an old trove of press material from over the years.
https://web.archive.org/web/20070309161816/http://portland.indymedia.org:80/en/2004/02/281049.shtml

Emma , February 20, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Interesting. And taking into account the comment from Cat's Paw above, I'd suggest to Lambert there are two distinct components to the term 'Deep State'. One element comprises the majority ie. the facilitators who foster the deep state, while the other element consists of the all-important minority ie. the instigators or 'deep state en nom propre' .

michael hudson , February 20, 2017 at 2:50 pm

I think the key to the "Deep state" is simply COVERT.
It is all covert activities that a public relations officer for the neocons and neoconservatives would not acknowledge in their fairy-tale view of the state.

Mark P. , February 20, 2017 at 2:53 pm

Yes.

Josh Stern , February 20, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Technical note – for CIA/Pentagon, a *covert* activity is something that is known, but where US influence or the extent of that is supposed to stay hidden – e.g. a coup d'etat. And a *clandestine activity* is something where the entire activity is supposed to stay hidden – e.g. CIA running Heroin and Cocaine, unlicensed human experimentation, or controlling the editorial desk & ownership if the Washington Post. In that sense, the clandestine activity are even deeper, and the set of people in the know, is even smaller.

Jim Haygood , February 20, 2017 at 3:58 pm

" barely subject to democratic accountability, if they're subject to it at all " - Glenn Greenwald

The $50 billion-plus black budget for the IC, covering many clandestine projects and activities, is not even subject to Congressional accountability. It is discussed verbally with the majority and minority leaders, and the ranking members of the intelligence committees.

Then the other 427 members (or at least a majority of them) are obliged on instructions from their caucus to whoop it through, without a clue (or even a right to ask) what is in it. To paraphrase the great stateswoman Nancy Pelosi, " We have to pass it to avoid finding out what's in it. "

Secret funding via this procedure is unconstitutional and illegitimate. Yet neither the president, the judiciary, nor anyone in Congress appears able to stop it. The IC is a fourth-stage cancer devouring the guts of the former republic.

Josh Stern , February 20, 2017 at 4:59 pm

Secret funding is a huge unknown. Everything from mostly legitimate front companies, to business donations for favors, to drug running. One would think, incorrectly, that the drug running is some kind of big secret the following links show it is not:
Collection of quotes from DEA agents, John Kerry, etc:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=5878115
Video with Robert Bonner, ex-head of DEA, on 60 minutes in 1993, just after he stepped down:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lx1bL_Gp03g

Persona au gratin , February 20, 2017 at 5:37 pm

YES!

Crazy Horse , February 20, 2017 at 7:42 pm

50 billion? That is just the cost of coffee and donuts. A week before 911 Rumsfeld acknowledged that 2.3 TRILLION dollars was missing and unaccounted for in the DOD budget.

" CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports, while its own auditors admit the military cannot account for 25 percent of what it spends.
"According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions," Rumsfeld admitted.
$2.3 trillion - that's $8,000 for every man, woman and child in America. To understand how the Pentagon can lose track of trillions, consider the case of one military accountant who tried to find out what happened to a mere $300 million.
"We know it's gone. But we don't know what they spent it on," said Jim Minnery, Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-war-on-waste/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xU4GdHLUHwU

Conveniently the accounting records that might have made possible an investigation of that little error were located in Building 7 of the WTC and in the exact section of the Pentagon which the skilled Saudi pilots targeted and and then vaporized their airliner leaving only a few token pieces on the lawn.Of course 911 is ancient history that nobody cares about anymore. Apparently we are in need of another accounting cleansing, since the Inspector General reports that an additional 6.5 TRILLLION has gone missing since then.

http://www.newstarget.com/2016-08-18-how-did-the-pentagon-lose-over-6-5-trillion-in-taxpayer-money.html

JTMcPhee , February 20, 2017 at 8:46 pm

What, me worry? those are all MMT dollars, after all plenty more where that came from.

ex-PFC Chuck , February 20, 2017 at 9:19 pm

Susan Lindauer, in her memoir of her role as a CIA asset serving as a go-between in the failed negotiations to avert the Iraq War ( Extreme Prejudice: The Terrifying Story of the Patriot Act and the Cover Ups of 9/11 and Iraq ), recounts that in the desperate last few weeks before March 20, 2003, she was paying her considerable expenses out-of-pocket. Her handler was having trouble getting her reimbursement approved, and by the time he did she was making a pest of herself about the fact that the negotiations had been deliberately sabotaged, and had become a pariah. At that point the handler had no difficulty, not to mention compunction, about simply stiffing her and diverting the funds to the McMansion he was building.

How much of that $50B black budget is similarly diverted?

Elasmo Branch , February 20, 2017 at 4:28 pm

"Covert" means the activity is against the law. "Clandestine" means the activity is secret but within the confines of the law. The military undertakes clandestine activity authorized by law, not covert activity. A US soldiers cannot break the law. On the other hand paramilitary activity is often covert.

For example, a US soldier on a clandestine mission is captured. Since the soldier is acting legally, albeit in secret, he is afforded all of the rights as a prisoner of war if he id's himself as a US soldier in uniform, name, rank, serial number. A CIA agent [likely a contractor and not a gov't employee] is captured on a covert mission, he can be summarily executed, legally, on the spot for a number of reasons: conducting warfare in civilian clothes and not in uniform, espionage, piracy, etc. There is grey area, for instance, if soldiers ingress to an area in civilian clothes [or the enemy's uniform] then put on their own uniforms before conducting an attack, as the SS did in the Ardenne.

Josh Stern , February 20, 2017 at 4:54 pm

This article: Joseph Berger III. "Covert Action – Title 10, Title 50, and the Chain of Command." Joint Force Quarterly 67 (Q4 2012). http://ndupress.ndu.edu/Portals/68/Documents/jfq/jfq-67/JFQ-67_32-39_Berger.pdf . is exactly on this topic. I take my definitions from there. The article does note that it takes some doing to resolve the different usages within CIA and DOD.

DH , February 20, 2017 at 8:10 pm

Sounds like the Koch Brothers network.

SerenityNow , February 20, 2017 at 2:52 pm

It seems to me that the Canadian "poet, academic and diplomat" author Peter Dale Scott should be included in any mention of "Deep State" Activities.

Here is an excerpt from his well foot-noted book:

"The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on U.S. Democracy"

He has many more interesting excerpts and articles on the same site :

Lambert Strether Post author , February 20, 2017 at 4:04 pm

I bought, read, and reviewed one of Scott's books; link in the first para .

NotSoSure , February 20, 2017 at 2:58 pm

Don't forget the final property of Deep State: "No objections to Goldman Sachs". At least in that one they see eye to eye with Trump.

ebr , February 20, 2017 at 3:12 pm

No Illuminati ? - but I jest.

It would be good if we could separate 'what is the deep state' and 'what are the factions of the deep state' and 'who belongs to the deep state' I suspect that Cambridge Analytics & their Facebook scraping could answer the question 'who belongs to the deep state' as they could they easier track a social network of people more loyal to each other than to the US Gov or the POTUS of the day. Asking the 'Deep State' to define itself could be an exercise in futility as members of the 'Deep State' likely mix ideology & the opportunity to make money in ways that blind them to the full implications of their actions.
Slate magazine today had an article up of a doctor who tried the revolving door and then wrote about it
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2017/02/going_undercover_through_washington_s_revolving_door.html
If you all need a fun book to read, try Interface by Neal Stephenson (written after Snow Crash and before Cryptonomicon)

UserFriendly , February 20, 2017 at 7:19 pm

IMO: Deep State: Anyone who will be in DC regardless of who is president and can still have some degree of power. They are sometimes well known people like Neera Tanden and sometimes they work in the IC. They are the people who no matter how many times they fuck up, destroy lives, lose a campaign, or completely fail at whatever task they are given, they can always count on a nice cushy paycheck and a new gig where they can [Family Blog} it up some more. The entire class of DC insiders who just can't fail down no matter what.

Carla , February 20, 2017 at 3:15 pm

A couple more books of interest: "National Security and Double Government" by Michael J Glennon (2014) and "The Deep State" by Mike Lofgren (2016).

ewmayer , February 20, 2017 at 6:33 pm

A PDF version of Glennon's book is freely available online at the Harvard National Security Journal website.

REDPILLED , February 20, 2017 at 3:16 pm

DEEP STATE READING LIST:

The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government by David Talbot

The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the attack on U.S. Democracy by Peter Dale Scott

The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government by Mike Lofgren

Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World by Tom Engelhardt and Glenn Greenwald

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky

The New Media Monopoly: A Completely Revised and Updated Edition With Seven New Chapters by Ben H. Bagdikian

They Rule: The 1% VS. Democracy by Paul Street

NATO's Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe (Contemporary Security Studies) by Daniele Ganser

An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King (Updated Edition) by William F. Pepper

The True Story of the Bilderberg Group by Daniel Estulin

JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters by James W. Douglass

9/11 Ten Years Later: When State Crimes Against Democracy Succeed by David Ray Griffin (2011)

JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy by Fletcher L. Prouty (2011)

The Secret Team: The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World by Fletcher L. Prouty (2011)

Mounting Evidence: Why We Need A New Investigation Into 9/11 by Paul W. Rea (2011)

The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War by Peter Dale Scott (2013)

JFK-9/11: 50 Years of Deep State by Laurent Guyenot (2014)

All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power by Nomi Prins (2014)

The Orwellian Empire by Gilbert Mercier (2015)

The Hidden Structure of Violence: Who Benefits from Global Violence and War
by Marc Pilisuk (2015)

Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World (American Empire Project) by David Vine (2015)

The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins (2016)

The End of the Republic and the Delusion of Empire by James Petras (2016)

Two web sites:

Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth: http://www.ae911truth.org/

Patriots Question 9/11 – Responsible Criticism of the 9/11 Commission Report: http://patriotsquestion911.com/

Jim Haygood , February 20, 2017 at 4:03 pm

Excellent list.

Don't forget the late, great Chalmers Johnson, who coined the term blowback and left us with guides such as The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic.

Lambert Strether Post author , February 20, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Chalmers Johnson is great.

Emma , February 20, 2017 at 6:17 pm

Another suggestion for your list of additional reading material:
https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Document:Democratic_State_v_Deep_State
It's a document/paper by Ola Tunander ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ola_Tunander ) who is quite familiar with the topic (see his experience/research of US/UK PSYOPs naval activities in Scandinavian waters ..).

Ulysses , February 21, 2017 at 9:21 am

Good book!!

dbk , February 20, 2017 at 4:32 pm

Yes, thanks for that list, much appreciated.

As long as we're on the subject, more or less, I have a question about Dark Money (I'm reading Mayer's book these days) and the Deep State: Do they overlap, or are they rivals? Or are their goals sometimes in sync and sometimes at odds with one another?

Another way of posing this question is this: If we assume that the President is not the preference of the Deep State, are we also to assume he was not the preference of Dark Money?

I'm having a hard time figuring out who's going after whom these days, and what short- and long-term objectives are being fought out, almost – but not quite – before our eyes.

Here's a case from a different field, education, which is the one I follow most closely. A blogger has recently identified the "blueprint" for the new Sec of Education to follow, laid out in a planning document by a Dark Money group which is below the radar (well, below my radar, anyway). It's pretty clear that the Sec is their cabinet member, but are there others? Were these appointments made in the form of favors called in? For what, though, if the Pres isn't part of this network?

The Sec of Education, it emerged in the course of contentious hearings, had contributed to no less than 23 Republican Senators' campaign war chests. What are we to conclude about them?

Anyway, here's the link to the post (link to the actual document through it – it was removed from the organization's own site, so is no longer available there):
http://www.eclectablog.com/2017/02/chilling-this-is-why-weve-been-trying-to-warn-the-usa-about-betsy-devos-destroying-the-wall-between-church-state.html

Josh Stern , February 20, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Another good book to mention, which plays a different role, is "Legacy of Ashes" by Tim Weiner. It covers a lot of CIA dirt – coups, assassinations, defying/lying to Presidents, etc. – but it is different because basically all of it is drawn from the CIA's own files. So it is purely historical and outside of any "conspiracy" controversy. The files are not complete. Richard Helms ordered the most incriminating ones destroyed in a giant purge in the early '70s – this is described in the book too. But what is there and was saved is often pretty dirty.

Scott Noble's film series is entertaining on free video: http://metanoia-films.org/counter-intelligence/

Persona au gratin , February 20, 2017 at 6:11 pm

To add: Family of Secrets : The Bush Dynasty, America's Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years, by Russ Baker (2010).

JCC , February 20, 2017 at 9:15 pm

Definitely a good list. I've read a few of these books and want to read more on the list. And don't forget any of Sheldon Wolin's recent books and essays. This one is 13 to 14 years old and still appropriate – https://www.thenation.com/article/inverted-totalitarianism/

He points out the basic structure, I think, in which following the money makes the most sense.

neo-realist , February 20, 2017 at 9:38 pm

Pepper's last book on the MLK assassination, The Plot to Kill King: The Truth behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King would also be a worthy addition to the list.

Excellent discussion about it on this podcast.

https://kpfa.org/episode/guns-and-butter-june-29-2016/

ex-PFC Chuck , February 20, 2017 at 9:56 pm

I second your recommendation of Pepper's book.

Kim Kaufman , February 20, 2017 at 10:05 pm

Imo, a must read: Operation Gladio: The Unholy Alliance Between the Vatican, the CIA and the Mafia by Paul Williams. I think it's newer than most of the books above and connects a lot of dots.

peter , February 21, 2017 at 6:24 am

I've always throught that 'Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky' should be mandatory on high school curriculum as a speed course on intellectual self-defense.

nobody , February 21, 2017 at 9:42 am

Another for the list:

Conjuring Hitler: How Britain and America Made the Third Reich , by Guido Giacomo Preparata

nobody , February 21, 2017 at 10:24 am

Three essays by Charles Hollander: "Pynchon's Inferno," "Pynchon's Politics: The Presence of an Absence," and "Pynchon, JFK and the CIA: Magic Eye Views of The Crying of Lot 49."

PlutoniumKun , February 20, 2017 at 3:25 pm

I would put it simpler and define a 'Deep State' as a major (i.e. not minority rogue) element within the existing government structures (or quasi-government structures) which is willing to commit serious illegal acts or unauthorised acts of violence within the territory of the State to achieve its aims independent of the legally constituted government. In other words, I'd not define it by its structure or nature, but by what it actually does.

I'd define it this way to distinguish it from the sort of bureaucratic plotting which takes place within any large institution which finds itself led by someone who doesn't buy into the organisations core consensus. An example I would use would be Operation Gladio . If Operation Gladio had simply operated as designed, as a secretive military operation which government leaders may not have been aware of, then it was not an example of Deep State. But if, as alleged (but never proved), it carried out acts of terrorism and false flag operations with the specific aim of forcing elected governments to do what they didn't want to do, and this was part of a deliberate high level strategy (i.e. not just the act of a rogue element), then it would be an example of the Deep State at work within democratic western governments.

Put into contemporary terms, if the internal resistance to Trump takes the form of leaks, internal manoeuvres to slow down his agenda, etc., then that is 'normal' bureaucratic operations. If it takes the form of blackmail, false flag terrorist attacks, assassinations, etc., then it is the Deep State in operation.

Given that we know parts of the US and allied intelligence communities have for decades been involved in highly illegal operations around the world which has included torture, murder, blackmail and high level assassinations, is it really so far fetched that there is an element willing to do the same thing within the US?

Greg Taylor , February 20, 2017 at 4:18 pm

Defining "Deep State" by its actions is appealing. Would the military veto of Kerry-negotiated ceasefire in Syria count? Some officers acted without apparent authority and were not reprimanded as a result. Would this have transpired "within the territory of the State" and, thus, meet this definition? Should it?

PlutoniumKun , February 21, 2017 at 3:34 am

Thats an interesting question. There can be a fine line between bureaucratic infighting and actual illegal and anti-democratic actions. On my definition I would say 'no', its not Deep State in that the actions were insubordinate and dangerous, but they took place outside the US so arguably were more the result of a power struggle between government factions. It was the result I think of Obama's weakness as a leader, not an actual Deep State action.

Quentin , February 20, 2017 at 3:32 pm

Wouldn't any so-called Deep State be supported by factions in Congress? Sure. For instance, John McCain is in my view the epitome of the Deep State, one of its chief representatives, out in the open, a vanguard. The Clintons too, doubtless, though now outside government. If Congress gives no pushback, it bestows tacit/active agreement. Congress can rescind the privileges and power of all the organisations observers ascribe to the Deep State. So what's so mysterious? The notion of a Deep State's existence might just serve as a way to avoid responsibility, accountability, deny agency. Some shadowy bunch is running things, anything else new? On the other hand think tanks, contractors and subcontracters are less easily kept in place. Yet Congress can put an end to prisons for profit and erase one element of the deception, reduce the numbers if security clearances by defunding, etc. not things were are about to do. Eminence grise, one two buckle my shoe

sgt_doom , February 20, 2017 at 4:13 pm

McCain is too stupid. To better understand the Deep State, one must go a bit higher up the ladder.

Look into the membership of the Bretton Woods Committee - the lobbyist group for the international super-rich (www.brettonwoods.org), and the Group of Thirty (www.group30.org).

Once you understand these two groups, you'll be more aware.

Persona au gratin , February 20, 2017 at 6:05 pm

Loved the Group of Thirty pictorials on their home page. I counted exactly one genuine person of color (aka, "token negro") among the melange, with a handful of "half and halfs" of former British colonial heritage who of course have had time to assimilate and duly "see the light" as to the wisdom of continued perpetual white northern European supremacy. As for the few token Asians, they'll come around soon enough as well, although they ARE amazing students, aren't they?

Kim Kaufman , February 20, 2017 at 10:06 pm

Politicians are the puppets not the puppetmasters.

Steve H. , February 20, 2017 at 3:47 pm

We can avoid definite articles, but this is a defining article, and could become the definitive article.

The most curious fact is that the phrase is showing up in the msm. I take it as confirmation of Lambert's point: 'Factional conflict within the deep state exists!'

roger gathmann , February 20, 2017 at 4:11 pm

I always attributed the use of the word to Peter Dale Scott. The Turkish phrase seems to me more of a parallel usage than the place from which the phrase is derived. In my cursory reading, the phrase originated in conspiracy theory – particularly around the assassination of JFK. I am not using conspiracy theory in a disparaging sense, since I don't think a belief in conspiracies (which is legally recognized, and was long one of the great themes of political science, from Aristotle to Montesquieu) is per se disqualifying. Scott, in the preface to Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, has a good take on the prototype of the Deep State – in his theory, there is always a deep political practice that is unacknowledged officially. For instance, Tammany New York of the late 19th century operated, on the surface, according to the legal order with a mayor and a bureaucracy, etc., but in practice, it was run by an elaborate system of kickbacks and the investment of certain private players with enormous governmental power. The Deep State, under this p.o.v., shouldn't be confused with bureaucrats and those invested with public power, but instead, is a collaboration between such bureaucrats and those in private positions who retain unacknowledged public power. To quote Scott: " A deep political system or process is one which habitually resorts to decision making and enforcement procedures outside as well as inside those publicly sanctioned by law and society." By this definition, the endorsement of Trump by the National Border Patrol Council and the way in which, under Obama, certain Border Patrol officials sought to impede or change processes for taking in and giving due process to refugees are evidences of a deep political process.

Cat's paw , February 20, 2017 at 5:33 pm

Well, Scott's Deep Politics is published in 93. The Turkish term Deep State appears in print around 96 (maybe as late as 98–I'd have to look around for a cite). While the terms are relatively synonymous they are by no means equal. Best I can tell, Scott's starts using the word Deep State widely in the mid-2000's.

Additionally, as I've come to understand it the term did not originate in conspiracy theory. Rather the term was picked up by conspiracy theorists from Turkish journalism as a useful shorthand for the alleged (and hidden) events and actors they were trying to describe. Personally, not that it matters, I think it's important to keep the original usage/meaning in mind. 1. b/c it was coined to describe a real yet inexplicable event–not speculation or a theory of some conspiracy: i.e., the JFK assassination. Wherein agents of military, representative government, and criminality (along with a "bimbo" straight out of central casting) who have no legitimate business doing business were obviously doing business–but what kind of business? Who knows, that's why it's Deep. 2. The term itself can easily drift into being an amorphous, ill-defined, but overdetermined and overly unified signifier on the order of "cabal" which is likely to happen anyway now that its wound its way into common parlance.

I may just be quibbling, but I don't see deep political processes like Tammany or Border Patrol shenanigans as being of the same phenomena as the so-called Deep State. Deep State would usually imply elements of the military or, more especially, elements of the security apparatus (public and private) at times coordinating with, at other times interfering with, known political/institutional actors, corporate power, and criminal concerns that might involve money laundering or drug and human trafficking. As most here are noting, it is factional and adversarial–a network of several or many discreet entities that coordinate, align, and conflict according to shifting interests. It's paralegal, parapolitical, paraeconomic (or paramarket), and parainstitutional.

And all of that to say that such a definition is wholly contingent upon there being empirical and on-going phenomena which corresponds approximately to the term itself.

Yves Smith , February 20, 2017 at 7:58 pm

Lambert debunked Scott's sloppy and internally inconsistent analysis, per the link he provided at the very top of the post. That's why he kept arguing against its use.

DonCoyote , February 20, 2017 at 4:13 pm

Thanks Lambert. Here's a bit more grist for this particular mill/passages from the rabbit hole (depending on what set of metaphors you like)

1) Paranoia , a tabletop RPG game from the 80's. "The game's main setting is an immense, futuristic city called Alpha Complex. Alpha Complex is controlled by The Computer, a civil service AI construct The Computer employs Troubleshooters, whose job is to go out, find trouble, and shoot it. Player characters are usually Troubleshooters The player characters frequently receive mission instructions from the Computer that are incomprehensible, self-contradictory, or obviously fatal if adhered to, and side-missions (such as Mandatory Bonus Duties) that conflict with the main mission each player character is generally an unregistered mutant and a secret society member (which are both termination offenses in Alpha Complex), and has a hidden agenda separate from the group's goals, often involving stealing from or killing teammates."

So: big on non-monolithic, also big on double/triple identities (troubleshooter/mutant/secret society), which we associate with the intelligence agencies, but also with revolving door politicians/lobbyists.

2) The "incomprehensible/self-contradictory/conflict with the main mission" made me think of seven/eleven/twelve (depending on scholarship/personal preference) chess, most recently attributed to BHO–that is, actions who on the surface don't seem to make sense given the situation, but which conspiracy theorists/true believers think are actually directed at a future/buried/hidden/alternative problem. Although this would seem to fit better with at least a semi-monolithic Deep Society, because it is strategy, and a non-monolithic Deep Society would presumably be less organized/more tactically inclined.

3) The Final Reflection , and especially the Klingon "equivalent" of chess, klin zha , and it's reflective version. Reflective klin zha is played with only one set of pieces. "The Reflective is not so much a variation but a strategic approach to an otherwise tactical game Once set up, the first to place is also the first to move. During each turn, the player chooses one piece, making all others the enemy. The player who captures the Goal on his turn is the victor." So I kill a piece protecting (next to) the goal, but on your turn you now control that piece, use it to capture the goal, and beat me.

So: a smaller (but still non-monolithic) Deep State, with a large unitary set of "pieces" (the non-Deep State?). Again, while there are two sides playing, they are both using the same pieces to try to do the same thing, and they only have "control of the board" some of the time.

So my takeaways: non-monolithic (and especially more than two sides), partial control (whether because of multiple/hidden identities or non-monolithic is unknown), and given the pathetic state of most of our media, most motives are "hidden", at least from casual view (cf for the media's "hidden" motives in today's links

sgt_doom , February 20, 2017 at 4:14 pm

Globalists against (non-deep state capitalists) economic nationalists?

susan the other , February 20, 2017 at 4:26 pm

Here's a reminder (from NC a while back). It is a waste of time to deliberate over the existence of the deep state. What's important is participating in a state – a society – that is well run; where inequality is always exposed; where propaganda is always obvious. It's impossible to define "the deep state." I think Lambert was right when he said the definition of the deep state always turned out to be a big hairball.

hemeantwell , February 20, 2017 at 8:15 pm

I agree with the spirit of what you're saying, but try this: I think that factional conflict, occurring during periods of systemic strain/crisis, is what leads otherwise contented and inertial sections of the state to act in ways that require concealment, either of actor or action. Reading a bit from the Glennon book linked above, wherein he makes much of Bagehot, reminded me of how the French political system used to be described as having something like a bureaucratic ballast keeping the ship of state from capsizing. That sort of conservative, continuity-maintaining function can grow claws, and that's what we're seeing now, particularly when US elites are trying to cobble a revised foreign/imperial policy to deal with China and Russia and the president is having trouble intoning the verities of US exceptionalism.

barrisj , February 20, 2017 at 4:41 pm

Well, that lengthy disquisition seems to indeed "validate" – as it were – the "deep state" terminology if not its epistemological derivation(s) at the very least, readers keeping to the various formulae offered for "correct usage" won't be whacked upside their haids by the moderators if the term appears in a comment.
Cheers.

Michael , February 20, 2017 at 4:43 pm

My first encounter with the idea of the Deep State was from Mike Lofgren's 2014 essay, "Anatomy of the Deep State", based upon his 25 year career as a Capitol Hill staffer. Here is the link:

http://billmoyers.com/2014/02/21/anatomy-of-the-deep-state/

JTMcPhee , February 20, 2017 at 4:44 pm

Maybe worth a footnote or something? Is Charlie Wilson "deep state" in any way? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Wilson_(Texas_politician) And his apparently occasional bed partner, Joanne Herring? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joanne_Herring

How about those little quiet gatherings of the Koch-convened sort, that attract so little "press" attention, at Palm Springs and etcetera? Is the "deep state" limited to Great Game and globalism, or is the long steady erosion of even the myth of "democracy" and the transformation of that word into its opposite, via the efforts of all those very small number of people who profit from killing public education and regulatory capture and ascension to elected positions in everything from little town councils and school boards to state legislatures and statehouses, constitute part of what might qualify as some sort of "deep state?" ALEC is not on everyone's tongue, after all, but the power the people in it exert, through long application, sure forks over a whole lot of what maybe most people would think of as "the general welfare" and "public goods." IS Davos "over?" Is Bilderburg?

Interesting how many of what would seem to me to be deep-staters are tied to Afghanistan, and of course Israel. One might even posit the Israelites have their own deep state, that has interlocking membership with players and factions and elements of the unelected and maybe public but mostly invisible thing that the phrase calls up in the minds of many of us.

Having named the demon, if there is ever any agreement on a name and frame, does that give us mopes any power over the demon, or just another opening for its immanence in our sad little lives?

integer , February 20, 2017 at 10:49 pm

The first step would seem to be forcing the demon out from the shadows and into the sunlight so everyone can get a good look at it. I imagine it will then lash out with everything it has like a cornered animal, which will harden public opinion against it, and then it will be game on for real. A very dangerous game, to be sure, but what is the alternative?

Horsewithnoname , February 20, 2017 at 5:04 pm

From http://www.oftwominds.com/blogfeb14/dollar-deep-state2-14.html [Charles Hugh Smith, 02/2014]
I have been studying the Deep State for 40 years, before it had gained the nifty name "deep state." What others describe as the Deep State I term the National Security State which enables the American Empire, a vast structure that incorporates hard and soft power–military, diplomatic, intelligence, finance, commercial, energy, media, higher education–in a system of global domination and influence.

Back in 2007 I drew a simplified chart of the Imperial structure, what I called the Elite Maintaining and Extending Global Dominance (EMEGD):

stockbrokher , February 20, 2017 at 5:14 pm

1. "Example: "The Iraq WMD's yellowcake uranium episode was a Deep State Blooper." (See here for details; the yellowcake uranium was part of the Bush administration's WMD propaganda operation to foment the Iraq War.)"

How is this an example of a blooper? It helped to achieve its intended goal. That it was exposed much later as a fabrication didn't vitiate its effect.

2. Surprised so many examples/references (especially here) but none with Wall Street as a primary Deep State actor. Read something revelatory ( to me, anyway) recently re the CIA ( post WWII) being engineered mostly by Wall Street for the sole purpose of protecting big U.S Corporate interests. Sorry no time to dig it up, but I'm sure others more knowledgeable can expound. (As SerenityNow notes, Scott's book puts WS in the title.)

Skip Intro , February 21, 2017 at 10:23 am

Good points.
What is interesting to me is the similarity of the modus operandi revealed in the yellowcake episode, where privileged information was 'leaked' to a tame 'journalist' to take out an enemy. In the case of the yellowcake, we generally accept the narrative that blowing Joe Wilson's wife's Non-Official Cover, but as part of a non-proliferation team, Valerie Plame was also in a position to directly interfere with WMD claims from the administration. OTOH, the WHIG and OVP are not very deep.
In addition, it is easy to point to the Iraq debacle as a failure on the part of the 'deep state' that contrived it, but a more cynical view would consider that a quick victory is less profitable than a slow defeat. In that light, apparently glaring errors, like the disbanding of the Iraqi Army, may be understood to be insurance that has paid off with a successful insurgency, a weakened state where oil can be bought or taken without any pesky national government interference, and eventually, trained military leaders for IS, the next-gen enemy with actual ground troops and conquered territory.

I was surprised that there wasn't a reference to Ike's warning about the Military Industrial Complex, which seems like the original American reference to an extra-democratic coalition of interests that could influence or control policy.
Another milestone would be the Iran-Contra affair, where we heard North and Poindexter drooling over an 'off the shelf operational capacity' to circumvent constitutional control of foreign policy (a market niche now filled by Erik Prince and Blackwater/Xe/Academi). In connection with this scheme, we also witnessed intelligence officials colluding with arms merchants to influence a US election by arming enemies, as well as running drugs into the US to fund said independent foreign policy. I think the illegality is well established, as for killings within the US territory, we can ask Orlando Letelier.

scraping_by , February 20, 2017 at 6:10 pm

Ran into an interesting passage in Kevin Phillips's 1994 book Arrogant Capital: Washington, Wall Street, and the Frustration of American Politics . He speaks of an 'iron triangle' of politics, interest groups, and media that turns aside the cyclic outsider revolutions that would otherwise renew American political institutions. If Trump has this view of his populism, it makes sense he spends so much time disparaging the MSM; not just a celebrity feud, not just annoyance about bitchiness, but a reasoned effort to break an elite power tool.

If Phillips's iron triangle fits the description of a Deep State, and it can, this may be an actual conflict over principles and convictions. Because the elite believe deeply in their own position, and are convinced they're doing God's work.

PhilM , February 20, 2017 at 6:10 pm

To me this is the kind of synthetic journalism that really sifts meaning from noise. And uniquely, on this site, the reading lists and comments are sophisticated and thoughtful additions and refinements, like the peer review offered from any scholarly community. This article is not definitive; but it could grow and grow, and then one could easily call it "seminal." This is work that I happily pay for.

From the history of the 1930s: one notes that for Heydrich to consolidate his bosses' power over Germany, he felt it necessary to "declare war" on the existing German civil service in 1935–not just the police force, but the entire bureaucracy; and to seize control of the foreign intelligence services as well as the domestic. The only successful hold-out was the Abwehr, the military intelligence service, which succeeded in preserving its independence in a very much more closely circumscribed field.

So Heydrich definitely felt there was a "state within the state" that needed to be co-opted and ideologically purified and above all surveilled, before Hitler's power was secured. That, in my humble view, is what the "deep state" is. It's the most important part of the question "quis custodiet custodes ipsos," and why Plato had a philosopher king instead of just a bunch Guardians, and why a nobility requires a monarchy.

integer , February 20, 2017 at 10:42 pm

Yes it's great to see this issue being given the attention it deserves and being subjected to serious analysis by NC and the commentariat. Thanks Lambert!

witters , February 21, 2017 at 2:22 am

A philosopher king who was poor, lived on public provision, owned no property, had no family, and lived in accomodation from whom none could be forbidden. And so just & virtuous.

Gman , February 20, 2017 at 6:15 pm

Only relatively recently having become aware of the term, 'deep state' I would assume, in its most basic form, it refers to those mostly 'unseen' and 'unknown' conservative we know best types who wield uninterrupted, often disproportionate influence without having to suffer the dreadful inconvenience or potential indignity of seeking a periodic democratic mandate.

Watt4Bob , February 20, 2017 at 6:29 pm

It seems to me that there was a lot of talk about the birth of the DHS being the biggest reorganization of the federal government since the New Deal.

That talk included concerns that Bush was putting thousands of dead-enders in bureaucratic positions, and that they would be impossible to remove in the future.

From Occupy.com (May 2013);

But here's the strange thing: unlike the Pentagon, this monstrosity draws no attention whatsoever - even though, by our calculations, this country has spent a jaw-dropping $791 billion on "homeland security" since 9/11. To give you a sense of just how big that is, Washington spent an inflation-adjusted $500 billion on the entire New Deal.

We've been talking around here about the breaking of rice bowls and its affect on the credentialed class, the implication being the hysterical, unorganized revolt of people who feel their well-being threatened by the rise of Trump.

Bush II broke a lot of rice bowls when he leveraged the fearful post 9/11 environment to bring about the reorganization of the federal government under the DHS;

From Legislating Civil Service Reform:
The Homeland Security Act of 2002
; (emphasis mine)

The Administration presents their strategy as one that requires them
to have more control over federal personnel in order to provide national
security and protect America. For example, President Bush argued that he needed the freedom "to put the right people at the right place at the right
time to protect the American people."

The metaphor of physical placement-to "put" federal workers in particular places at particular times-is rationalized as a strategy to protect America,
much like one would move a Bishop or Knight in a chess game to protect
the King.

This physical placement metaphor was also picked up by the news
media. In one summary of the issues, an article in the Washington Post
noted, "The White House wants to retain the ability to remove
some employees from unions for national security reasons," and "Bush
wants the ability to move workers from one part of the department to
another to meet rapidly changing needs.

This metaphor of physical placement suggests that the Administration requires a particularly high degree of power and control over personnel,
but that degree of power is presented as rational and justified in light of national security.

To the extent that the audience is concerned about national security, then
they are invited to see the Administration strategy-in this case,
its need for power over personnel-as one that is consistent with that concern.

From the same paper, the other side of the argument ; (emphasis mine)

Union leaders saw this issue in a different light; they disputed the details of the proposal and also questioned the motives behind them.
Brian DeWyngaert, Assistant to the President of AFGE, saw the reforms
as an attempt by the administration to weaken the civil service system, to shift from "public administration" to "political administration."

DeWyngaert cites a paper, written by two former Republican personnel
management officials, that asserts, " The President can expect opposition
from official Washington's 'permanent government ,' a network that includes the career civil service, and its allies in Congress, the leaders of federal
unions, and the chiefs of managerial and professional associations
representing civil servants."

DeWyngaert expresses union distrust of the administration, arguing that
the real goal of the administration was to "control what agencies do
[ ] to change some of the personnel rules [ ] to the point where they are going to follow your line because you control their pay, their determination at will,
their layoff.

W4B;

What I'm pointing out, is that what we're calling the Deep State includes the "permanent government" mentioned above, and that in reorganizing the government under the control of the new DHS, the right, in the person of Bush II was attempting to replace a unionized, independent, New Deal flavored government bureaucracy with one that could be more easily controlled, because it was more politicized.

I'm saying that both the democratic, and the republican wings of the republican party have made peace with the notion of a more politicized "permanent government", and that more politicized "permanent government", is now showing its loyalty to the status quo by doing what's expected of it, joining the resistance.

PhilM , February 20, 2017 at 9:24 pm

This is exactly what I think, too, and what Heydrich recognized in 1935: that a large government has a hive mind. Without the SD ("Security Services"), the SS, and the Nazi Party organization, he could never have bent that hive mind, made of all those entrenched, entitled, relatively law-abiding functionaries, to his will.

Trump has none of those tools at his disposal, so there's no reason to expect his lasting very long or getting much done.

That's what makes the hysteria about his being like Hitler so very misplaced. If Trump had an organization like the Nazi party hundreds of thousands strong, ready to die in the streets for him, with operatives ready to put into place to take over the management of the government effectively at all upper levels, it would be another matter. As it is, he's grasping at straws from other talent pools. No wonder the bookies are giving him lower odds.

schultzzz , February 20, 2017 at 6:48 pm

Chris Hedges, on his RT show, recently defined it almost exclusively in terms of big business. I think the quote was something very short like, "It's Raytheon, Goldman, and Exxon!!!"

Which complicates things, as Trump's cabinet has reps from Goldman and Exxon in it.

neo-realist , February 20, 2017 at 10:36 pm

On that tip more or less, I recall watching a video of Dick Gregory and Mark Lane talking about the MLK Assassination, and Gregory made a point of saying more or less that the intelligence apparatus doesn't act unilaterally, but that it acts at the direction of the aristocrats, i.e., oligarchs, big business, etc. The aristocrats tells the apparatus to go after those governments and politicians that are acting against their interests.

In a documentary called King–Montgomery to Memphis (GREAT DOCUMENTARY), Harry Belafonte said that when King antagonized the "money power" , he was pretty much marked for death.

Anonymous , February 20, 2017 at 6:52 pm

Anecdotally, I was working with a former Senator at the time of the DHS formation who was still highly involved with the Bush administration. in fact Cheney had them on speed dial. I can tell you flat out that despite spouting the same garbage about freedom to reorganize on the fly, if you talked with them long enough the ability to fire employees at will ALWAYS ended up being the reason when anyone pinned him down about how departments would be reorganized on the fly. Very clearly it was about making sure that employees would know that they should show no integrity at all in doing their job most particularly in regards to either upholding the Constitution or recognizing the legal rights of any person, citizen of America or not.

Dave in Austin , February 20, 2017 at 7:16 pm

Deep state versus deep government

All modern states are bureaucratic. So the surface state which the public can replace, what we usually call "the government", is underpinned by a deep and essentially invisible substrate of people and institutions. The characteristics of the deep government are 1) opaque bureaucratic decision-making and written output designed to mislead not inform, 2) invisibility because the press cant easily turn the story into a narrative with individuals who represent good and evil, and because the national press (NYT, WP, and even the WSJ) no longer reports the news but filters the policies to either spark outrage or encourage cooperation, 3) The deep government employees are smart, educated and have come up through the ranks (think Bob Gates). They are great people, fun to be with but often incredibly insular and sure that "You people out there don't understand". And they are often right about that. Don't underestimate their knowledge.

Under most conditions the surface government, the deep government and the parts of the deep state outside the government (ie the press) are in general agreement and work together smoothly. Today the surface state (President, congress and soon probably the courts) are trying to bring about change that the individuals within the deep government fundamentally disagrees with on issues like immigration, national self-sufficiency and overseas threats. All major changes (our entry into WWI and WWII, the civil rights movement, tax and subsidy law, Obama's immigration program) generate resistance. Sometimes I agree with the deep, sneaky part of the government (entering WWII); other times, I don't (Vietnam, Bush in Iraq, Obama's immigration policy).

Our deep state is like that of most democracies and differs from authoritarian deep states in a number of fundamental ways: 1) our military is adamantly apolitical. All officers take an oath of allegiance to the Constitution, not the government (in the late 1960s, as the military got sucked into domestic policing, many senior officers started reading and discussing the Constitution among themselves), 2) No U.S. deep state emerged out of our two formative struggles, the revolution and the Civil War . Much of the world (China, Russia and the colonies that became free in the 1950s and 60s) had a different history, 3) We have no ethnic and religious deep states- no Moslem Brotherhood, no Burmese Buddhist nationalist, although we do have passionate ethnic groups that prefer to operate out-of-sight (Jewish, Irish Catholic, Cuban, Indian to name a few) . 4) Countries that fight overseas wars or that fear internal revolutions all develop a deep state. All the ex-colonies that didn't (Iraq, Egypt, Guatemala and a hundred more) had the weak state overthrown and replaced with a strong and deep state. In the US the first deep state hints came after WWI (not WWII) with large caches of unappropriated money going into the hands of Naval Intelligence (who do you think paid for the Flying Tigers?). The original sin of our liberal deep state was the campaign to get us into WWII. A good cause- and a terrible precedent.

Finally, the deep government and the national elite are not the same. The deep government is largely a meritocracy filled with alert people who know which way the wind is blowing. If real Communists or real Fascists took over they would either stay inside, keep getting paid, and quietly try to undermine the new leaders or they would take early retirement. They don't write biographies or make statements because they are essentially private people immersed in their private lives, what the Communists used to call Careerists. The national elites are something else. They either feel independent (the hereditary rich, celebrities and Trump and the self-made billionaires) or are the insecure product of upper middle class families, Ivy League and second-level private colleges and good social backgrounds. They work in large institutions they don't own or control. The latter group wants to exercise power because it gives meaning to their otherwise uninteresting lives (think, academics, the non-profit sector and Federal judges). The self-made rich exercise power to become richer and because they love to control organizations that compete (Who owns all the NFL teams?). Both the deep state and the deep government are open to people of education, good breeding, ambition, discretion and good luck.

Is there any way to fix this? Probably not but nobody seems to bother the countries that don't do foreign adventures To roughly quote from the Bin Laden interview after 9/11, when he as asked "Why did you attack America?" he laughed and said "We didn't attack Switzerland". A better national press would help. If there are any billionaires out there interested in providing $100K salaries to real smart MBA students who like to dig, let me know. A few platoons of young I.F. Stones of various political hews might go a long way. But deep states are here to stay. The best we can do is monitor. analyze and publicize them.

Patricia , February 20, 2017 at 8:03 pm

What a fascinatingly bland presentation, revering deep state careerists for their solid private lives and good-breeding, while others are power-hungry insecure product searching for a cure to their dullness.

And calling for "platoons" of new IF Stones from among MBAs, of all places!

Thanks for the entertainment.

integer , February 20, 2017 at 10:31 pm

+1

Tomonthebeach , February 20, 2017 at 7:54 pm

As a retired member of the Deep State, I find it amusing at the imbecility of right- (or left) wing conspiracy nuts who can invent amazing chains of undermining collaboration across agency lines orchestrated by some powerful shadow demons.

If federal employees were really that effective, there would be no private sector wage gap, the VA and DOD would share a seamless electronic record system, and Snowden would have the Medal of Freedom, and HRC's fingerprints would have been all over the gun that killed Vince Foster.

The Deep State, if you want to call it that, exists so the people get the support and services they need despite confusing and often conflicting legislation, presidential directives, and agency regulations.

DH , February 20, 2017 at 8:27 pm

I generally apply Occam's Razor to conspiracy theories. It is generally more likely that events occur due to incompetence, lack of attention, or emotional reactions than conspiracy. To pull a secret conspiracy off successfully over a long time, you need to be really smart, really focused and not have many people, otherwise it is no longer secret.

The bigger the organization, the more likely you are to have a reversion to the mean of most of the population, and most people are more likely to turn a blind eye than participate in something that means they could lose their pension as well as getting home late for dinner.

So the biggest issue that Trump has with the bureaucracy is how to manage Parkinson's Law. He did in the private sector by running around saying "You're fired" but he can't do that to career civil servants. http://www.economist.com/node/14116121

I am sure that there are a bunch of bureaucrat top dogs that don't like the invasion of their turf. They are, after all, fundamentally political animals very jealous of their territory. Some of them might even talk to each other, but probably half of them despise the other half.

The biggest threat to us is that we slowly acquiesce to security theater that quietly gets more and more invasive. The police etc. are the most likely to be organized as some sort of "deep state" as some departments already have an us vs. them attitude.

JTMcPhee , February 20, 2017 at 8:43 pm

Tom, maybe one part of the bigger thing called "federal service" does that. I spent 13 years with the US EPA through the Reagan Revolution (and it was an amazing coup). A number of EPA employees, despite the threats of "RIFs" (reductions in force, or wholesale politically motivated firings), worked hard and quietly to do everything they could to slow the assault on "regulation" of sh!tty corporate behavior that threatened human health and the environment. There were a lot of go-alongs, usually later comers who were looking to get their resumes padded before moving to the dark side, but there were a lot who were serious in their commitment, and aware of their vulnerability, who continued to press for enforcement actions, regulations with teeth that required industries to spend money ("internalize") to install process changes and end-of-pipe-or-stack controls (which often resulted in increased profits for the corpos who had an excuse and tax deductions to update their plants. And there was continued insistence on doing the data gathering that supported the proofs of harm that pollution and toxics cause. There was an 'environmental justice" initiative despite the "f__k the poor" administration attitudes and policies, and a criminal enforcement operation that actually put corporate officers in jail and at least made them take notice of potential consequences. There are obviously still a lot of employees at EPA to take their mission to be protection of public health and the environment, preserving decades of data collection and soldiering on despite the "Mandate for Leadership" quackery and fear-and-loathing fomenting.

But your limiting the definition as you do is incomplete at best. The state security overlords, the oligokleptocracy, and the other inimical factions and parties that have been described in this post and comments, seem to me the real nuts and bolts of what 'deep state' is getting at. Not the many federal employees who, despite all the sh!t that flows down from above and laterally from the culture inside and outside the agencies, actually try to do the job of "positive governance," like a few people I have dealt with in the Social Security Admin, the VA, the CMS behemoth and a few others. I often wonder how people persist in those jobs and don't burn out or get fired. I was close to both while doing my thing at EPA, 1980-90 (the Reagan years - I had two-plus with Carter as president before that, to see how a less hostile-to-regulation-in-the-best-sense admin might operate.

Vatch , February 20, 2017 at 9:27 pm

Tom, I'm curious. In which department of the federal government were you employed?

integer , February 20, 2017 at 10:22 pm

Hard to take your comment seriously. Do you really think that the Deep State consists of federal employees who are concerned with VA and the rank and file of the DOD, or that they are interested in providing "support and services" to the people? I think it's likely that your belief that you were part of the Deep State is incorrect.

Mothy , February 20, 2017 at 8:01 pm

No discussion of the Deep State would be complete without reading "Spooks," by Jim Hougan. It was a seminal book written in 1980 (I believe) that introduced the notion of retiring IC operatives joining private company security apparati. Tell your compatriots you're acting on behalf of the government and a patriot will do ANYTHING. "The Conversation" was a depiction of one of the main characters in the book who had previously wiretapped most of Manhatten back in the early Sixties; he worked for either Hoffa or the Kennedy brothers or both. Really an unbelievable book getting more and more difficult to find. Ironically– or not– I believe it was Hougan's last piece of investigative journalism.

No Idea , February 20, 2017 at 9:14 pm

We cross out "conducting killings" for the American context (or do we?).

"Character assassination. What a wonderful idea. Ordinary assassination only works once, but this one works every day."
― Terry Pratchett, The Truth

Fool , February 20, 2017 at 10:02 pm

A succinct way that i like to think of the "deep state" is whoever the CIA works for.

Vatch , February 20, 2017 at 10:13 pm

"It's called the ruling class because it rules." –Arthur Silber

The rulers are the ones who rule. The ruling class includes non-rulers who are in the same socio-economic class as most of the people who rule.

buermann , February 21, 2017 at 12:48 am

I'd always assumed the concept originated with Peter Dale Scott, who, before he wrote the book "The American Deep State", used it all over the place in 2007's "The Road to 9/11". I've read neither but for excerpts, the concept merely referred to covert agencies acting outside the scope of democratic oversight - whether it's local police departments running out of control torture squads and black sites or national intelligence agencies acting as the private armies of the executive. That such groups might oust a sitting executive is of course the heart and soul of all his conspiracy mongering about the JFK assassination (I like his poetry an awful lot, but I remember trying to get through Cocaine Politics and either the sources didn't check out or they were untraceable, in any case I gave up on it).

https://books.google.com/books?id=op39ymd2um0C&printsec=frontcover&q=%22deep%20state%22

H. Alexander Ivey , February 21, 2017 at 1:18 am

If you want to find a consistent, broad, and useful meaning of a concept, and a phase or 'name' for that concept, look for books written on the subject. Postings, blogs, and even published articles do not have the authority that books have (it's not just because being hit upside the head with a book will hurt a lot more than with a blog posting, har,har).

My recommendation is Deep State, based on my understanding on Mike Lohgren's The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government .

I must say I personally don't like the term. When I use it with people who believe that Rep & Dem describe the US government, I get the old eye roll, tin foil hat outfitting treatment. Humm, maybe I'll lead in with the term 'Washington Consensus'. They get that one around here in Southeast Asia. They haven't forgotten or forgiven the IMF about the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

St Jacques , February 21, 2017 at 4:03 am

I hate the term deep state because, unlike the mic, for example, which has a clarity about it, it is so vague and malleable a term as to be almost useless except for Hollywood films and conspiracy nutters, but if there is such a thing, here is what it might look like:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8IvKx0c19w

Damson , February 21, 2017 at 6:56 am

It goes back to 9/11.

A must-read is the 'Collateral Damage' investigation in which the Office Of Naval Intelligence features as the main exposing agency of exactly this issue – a parallel power structure operating on a black budget:

https://wikispooks.com/wiki/File:Collateral_Damage_-_part_1.pdf

fairleft , February 21, 2017 at 7:36 am

The central task of the U.S. 'deep state' is to maintain or expand the permanent war economy. So it is the military-industrial complex. The top-of-food-chain spy agencies - whose primary task within the MIC is to create enemies and paranoia - are the brains and mouthpiece of the deep state.

begob , February 21, 2017 at 7:58 am

Didn't see any mention of organised crime. And does the DS distinguish between unlawful and illegal?

PH , February 21, 2017 at 8:53 am

Think kaleidoscope in motion. Colors are real but hard to predict. Preset patterns, but affected by outside movement.

I love histories, but I know they simplify and often mislead. Anyway, the trick is to spot the power emerging, not how it turned out with the last generation.

I suggest that the best approach looking forward is to start with the existing visible power bureaucracies both inside govt and outside govt but on its periphery.

For each behemoth, daily routine is the biggest driver. And with that usually goes shared values. Such things usually push events.

Offhand, I can think of a few starting points. If these separate bureaucracies are subject to some common control, I would like to know exactly who and exactly how.

Military/defense contractors. Mostly consumed with myopic concerns. Top generals and bureaucrats do think tank type stuff, but mostly technical. Obvious collusion with industry over defense budgets.

Not sure what attitude is toward Donald.

NSA and tech contractors. Foreign world to me, but obvious iceberg.

State Dept and White House and press chattering class. Propaganda organizations, basically. I am sure they have clubs and secret handshakes, but not sure should've called organized.

Main CIA. Narrow bureaucrats.

Off-the-books CIA intersecting with business. These have been the most spectacular stories and escapades. Edwin Wilson. Air America. Coups in the 50s. Maybe CIA assassination of Kennedy.

Did these operations drive history? Maybe. If those types of connections drive events today, what are they?

I do not see a unitary deep state.

Steven Greenberg , February 21, 2017 at 9:10 am

Nobody has raised the issue of COG. Here is one excerpt from Peter Dale Scott's book that talks about and somewhat defines it. Much more in the book of course.

One factor linking Dallas, Watergate, the 1980 "October Surprise" plot to prevent Carter's reelection, Iran-Contra, and 9/ 11 has been the background involvement in all these deep events of personnel from America's highest-level emergency planning, that is, Continuity of Government (COG) planning, known inside the Pentagon as "the Doomsday Project." The implementation of COG plans on 9/ 11 was the culmination of decades of such planning, and has resulted in the permanent militarization of the domestic United States, and the imposition at home of institutions and processes designed for domination abroad.

Scott, Peter Dale. The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. Democracy (War and Peace Library). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Mattski , February 21, 2017 at 9:28 am

"Seems pretty big to be deep "

Not logical. The Deep State is those elements of the establishment that direct the course of government irrespective of e pluribus.

Perfectly good term, arising from popular usage, whose boundaries–hopefully needless to say–people who know better will not dictate anyway. Would have been much better, rather than to attack its use at the outset, just to investigate it. Elitist exercise, shaped like this.

[Feb 20, 2017] Social contract is the key. And it was abolished with the ascendance of neoliberalism with its wolf eats wolf philosophy of individual responsibility read the law of jungles instituted in the job market

Feb 20, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
ken melvin -> sanjait... February 20, 2017 at 02:21 PM , 2017 at 02:21 PM
One would think that a Berkeley Prof would be better at arithmetic, or counting. In the early days, companies did indeed create tech bureaucracies that offset any gains in reduction of work force, say back in the 70s, maybe 80s. Today, these groups number in the tens. Point being, these are indeed middle class jobs, just no where near the number of jobs replaced.
jonny bakho -> sanjait... , February 20, 2017 at 04:03 PM
Many working- and middle-class Americans believe that free-trade agreements are why their incomes have stagnated over the past two decades. So Trump intends to provide them with "protection" by putting protectionists in charge.

But Trump and his triumvirate have misdiagnosed the problem. While globalization is an important factor in the hollowing out of the middle class, so, too, is automation.

Trump and his team are missing a simple point: twenty-first-century globalization is knowledge-led, not trade-led. Radically reduced communication costs have enabled US firms to move production to lower-wage countries. Meanwhile, to keep their production processes synced, firms have also offshored much of their technical, marketing, and managerial knowhow. This "knowledge offshoring" is what has really changed the game for American workers.

The information revolution changed the world in ways that tariffs cannot reverse. With US workers already competing against robots at home, and against low-wage workers abroad, disrupting imports will just create more jobs for robots.

Trump should be protecting individual workers, not individual jobs. The processes of twenty-first-century globalization are too sudden, unpredictable, and uncontrollable to rely on static measures like tariffs. Instead, the US needs to restore its social contract so that its workers have a fair shot at sharing in the gains generated by global openness and automation. Globalization and technological innovation are not painless processes, so there will always be a need for retraining initiatives, lifelong education, mobility and income-support programs, and regional transfers.

By pursuing such policies, the Trump administration would stand a much better chance of making America "great again" for the working and middle classes. Globalization has always created more opportunities for the most competitive workers, and more insecurity for others. This is why a strong social contract was established during the post-war period of liberalization in the West. In the 1960s and 1970s institutions such as unions expanded, and governments made new commitments to affordable education, social security, and progressive taxation. These all helped members of the middle class seize new opportunities as they emerged.

Over the last two decades, this situation has changed dramatically: globalization has continued, but the social contract has been torn up. Trump's top priority should be to stitch it back together; but his trade advisers do not understand this.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trump-trade-policy-tariffs-by-richard-baldwin-2017-02

libezkova -> jonny bakho... , February 20, 2017 at 05:33 PM
Jonny,

Thank you ! Social contract is the key. And it was abolished with the ascendance of neoliberalism with its wolf eats wolf philosophy of "individual responsibility" (read the law of jungles in job market).

For some times, while neoliberalism was eating the carcass of New Deal there was almost no rebellion against it. Even in 2008 none of the top honchos of financial institutions who caused the disaster went to jail, although rank-and-file employees of major banks and investment firms did feel very insecure. "Jump suckers" was the slogan on the corner NYC cafe close to Wall Street.

This time probably ended now. The problems is that financial oligarchy does not want to share spoils of their stealing with anybody.

And yes, communication technologies + huge growth of the power of personal computers since 1986 are two very important factors here.

They allowed new level of centralization, which was impossible before. With the corporate headquarters on a different continent then factories (among other things) and teams consisting of members of different continents.

[Feb 19, 2017] The Shadow Governments Destruction Of Democracy

Notable quotes:
"... "The Deep State does not consist of the entire government. It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street." ..."
"... "It's agencies like the CIA, the NSA and the other intelligence agencies, that are essentially designed to disseminate disinformation and deceit and propaganda, and have a long history of doing not only that, but also have a long history of the world's worst war crimes, atrocities and death squads." ..."
"... Greenwald asserts the the CIA preferred Clinton because, like the clandestine agency, she supported regime change in Syria. In contrast, Trump dismissed America's practice of nation-building and declined to tow the line on ousting foreign leaders, instead advocating working with Russia to defeat ISIS and other extremist groups. ..."
"... "So, Trump's agenda that he ran on was completely antithetical to what the CIA wanted," Greenwald argued. "Clinton's was exactly what the CIA wanted, and so they were behind her. And so, they've been trying to undermine Trump for many months throughout the election. And now that he won, they are not just undermining him with leaks, but actively subverting him." ..."
"... But on the other hand, the CIA was elected by nobody. They're barely subject to democratic controls at all. And so, to urge that the CIA and the intelligence community empower itself to undermine the elected branches of government is insanity. ..."
"... He also points out the left's hypocrisy in condemning Flynn for lying when James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence during the Obama administration, perpetuated lies without ever being held accountable. ..."
Feb 19, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
And on the heels of Dennis Kucinich's warnings , The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald, who opposes Trump for a variety of reasons, warns that siding with the evidently powerful Deep State in the hopes of undermining Trump is dangerous. As TheAntiMedia's Carey Wedler notes , Greenwald asserted in an interview with Democracy Now, published on Thursday, that this boils down to a fight between the Deep State and the Trump administration.

Though Greenwald has argued the leaks were "wholly justified" in spite of the fact they violated criminal law, he also questioned the motives behind them.

"It's very possible - I'd say likely - that the motive here was vindictive rather than noble," he wrote. "Whatever else is true, this is a case where the intelligence community, through strategic (and illegal) leaks, destroyed one of its primary adversaries in the Trump White House."

According to an in-depth report by journalist Mike Lofgren:

"The Deep State does not consist of the entire government. It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street."

As Greenwald explained during his interview:

"It's agencies like the CIA, the NSA and the other intelligence agencies, that are essentially designed to disseminate disinformation and deceit and propaganda, and have a long history of doing not only that, but also have a long history of the world's worst war crimes, atrocities and death squads."

Greenwald believes this division is a result of the Deep State's disapproval of Trump's foreign policy and the fact that the intelligence community overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton over Trump because of her hawkish views. Greenwald noted that Mike Morell, acting CIA chief under Obama, and Michael Hayden, who ran both the CIA and NSA under George W. Bush, openly spoke out against Trump during the presidential campaign.

Greenwald asserts the the CIA preferred Clinton because, like the clandestine agency, she supported regime change in Syria. In contrast, Trump dismissed America's practice of nation-building and declined to tow the line on ousting foreign leaders, instead advocating working with Russia to defeat ISIS and other extremist groups.

"So, Trump's agenda that he ran on was completely antithetical to what the CIA wanted," Greenwald argued. "Clinton's was exactly what the CIA wanted, and so they were behind her. And so, they've been trying to undermine Trump for many months throughout the election. And now that he won, they are not just undermining him with leaks, but actively subverting him."

"[In] the closing months of the Obama administration, they put together a deal with Russia to create peace in Syria. A few days later, a military strike in Syria killed a hundred Syrian soldiers and that ended the agreement. What happened is inside the intelligence and the Pentagon there was a deliberate effort to sabotage an agreement the White House made."

Greenwald, who opposes Trump for a variety of reasons, warns that siding with the evidently powerful Deep State in the hopes of undermining Trump is dangerous. "Trump was democratically elected and is subject to democratic controls, as these courts just demonstrated and as the media is showing, as citizens are proving," he said, likely alluding to a recent court ruling that nullified Trump's travel ban.

He continued:

"But on the other hand, the CIA was elected by nobody. They're barely subject to democratic controls at all. And so, to urge that the CIA and the intelligence community empower itself to undermine the elected branches of government is insanity."

He argues that mentality is "a prescription for destroying democracy overnight in the name of saving it," highlighting that members of both prevailing political parties are praising the Deep State's audacity in leaking details of Flynn's conversations.

As he wrote in his article, " it's hard to put into words how strange it is to watch the very same people - from both parties, across the ideological spectrum - who called for the heads of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Tom Drake, and so many other Obama-era leakers today heap praise on those who leaked the highly sensitive, classified SIGINT information that brought down Gen. Flynn."

He also points out the left's hypocrisy in condemning Flynn for lying when James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence during the Obama administration, perpetuated lies without ever being held accountable.

[Feb 19, 2017] https://nyti.ms/2luxitI

Feb 19, 2017 | nyti.ms

NYT - Masha Gessen - Feb 18

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

One of the many norms that Donald J. Trump has assaulted since taking office is this tradition of aspirational hypocrisy, of striving, at least rhetorically, to act in accordance with moral values - to be better. This tradition has set the standard of behavior for government officials and has shaped Americans' understanding of what their government and their country represent. Over the last four weeks, Mr. Trump has lashed out against any criticism of his behavior, because, as he never tires of pointing out, "We won." In requesting the resignation of his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, however, Mr. Trump made his first public concession to political expectations. Hypocrisy has scored a minor victory in America. This is a good thing.

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

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

Fascists the world over have gained popularity by calling forth the idea that the world is rotten to the core. In "The Origins of Totalitarianism," Hannah Arendt described how fascism invites people to "throw off the mask of hypocrisy" and adopt the worldview that there is no right and wrong, only winners and losers. Hypocrisy can be aspirational: Political actors claim that they are motivated by ideals perhaps to a greater extent than they really are; shedding the mask of hypocrisy asserts that greed, vengeance and gratuitous cruelty aren't wrong, but are legitimate motivations for political behavior.

In the last decade and a half, post-Communist autocrats like Vladimir V. Putin and Viktor Orban have adopted this cynical posture. They seem convinced that the entire world is driven solely by greed and hunger for power, and only the Western democracies continue to insist, hypocritically, that their politics are based on values and principles. This stance has breathed new life into the old Soviet propaganda tool of "whataboutism," the trick of turning any argument against the opponent. When accused of falsifying elections, Russians retort that American elections are not unproblematic; when faced with accusations of corruption, they claim that the entire world is corrupt.

This month, Mr. Trump employed the technique of whataboutism when he was asked about his admiration for Mr. Putin, whom the host Bill O'Reilly called "a killer." "You got a lot of killers," responded Mr. Trump. "What, you think our country's so innocent?" To an American ear, Mr. Trump's statement was jarring - not because Americans believe their country to be "innocent" but because they have always relied on a sort of aspirational hypocrisy to understand the country. No American politician in living memory has advanced the idea that the entire world, including the United States, was rotten to the core. ...

Hungary's PM Viktor Orbanpraises Trump for saying countries should put their own interests first
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/donald-trump-nationalist-hungary-pm-viktor-orban-praise-america-first-a7542361.html
Reply Saturday, February 18, 2017 at 02:26 PM ilsm said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... the dems' deep state have already trodden the Bill of Rights how worse can it get......

fascism is in the US for 8 years or so. Reply Saturday, February 18, 2017 at 05:35 PM

[Feb 12, 2017] America Versus the Deep State by James Howard Kunstler

Notable quotes:
"... Support James Howard Kunstler blog by visiting Jim's Patreon Page ! ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... Putin Led a Complex Cyberattack Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Finds ..."
"... Did the Russians make Hillary Clinton look bad? Or did Hillary Clinton manage to do that herself? The NSA propaganda was designed as a smokescreen to conceal the veracity of the Wikileaks releases. Whoever actually rooted out the DNC and Podesta emails for Wikileaks ought to get the Pulitizer Prize for the outstanding public service of disclosing exactly how dishonest the Hillary operation was. ..."
"... The story may have climaxed with Trump's Friday NSA briefing, the heads of the various top intel agencies all assembled in one room to emphasize the solemn authority of the Deep State's power. ..."
"... This hulking security apparatus has become a menace to the Republic. ..."
"... Whether Trump himself is a menace to the Republic remains to be seen. Certainly he is the designated bag-holder for all the economic and financial depravity of several preceding administrations. When the markets blow, do you suppose the Russians will be blamed for that? Did Boris Yeltsin repeal the Glass-Steagall Act? Was Ben Bernanke a puppet of Putin? No, these actions and actors were homegrown American. For more than thirty years, we've been borrowing too much money so we can pretend to afford living in a blue-light-special demolition derby. And now we can't do that anymore. The physics of capital will finally assert itself. ..."
"... perhaps it's a good thing that the American people for the moment cannot tell exactly what the fuck is going on in this country, because from that dismal place there is nowhere to go but in the direction of clarity. ..."
Feb 12, 2017 | kunstler.com

Support James Howard Kunstler blog by visiting Jim's Patreon Page !

The bamboozlement of the public is nearly complete. The Deep State has persuaded 80 percent of Americans that all news is propaganda, especially the news emanating from the Deep State's own intel department. They're still shooting for 100 percent. The fakest of all "fake news" stories turns out to be "Russia Hacks Election." It was reported conclusively Saturday on the front page of The New York Times , a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Deep State:

Putin Led a Complex Cyberattack Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Finds

WASHINGTON - President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia directed a vast cyberattack aimed at denying Hillary Clinton the presidency and installing Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office, the nation's top intelligence agencies said in an extraordinary report they delivered on Friday to Mr. Trump.

You can be sure that this is now the "official" narrative aimed at the history books, sealing the illegitimacy of Trump's election. It was served up with no direct proof, only the repeated "assertions" that it was so. In fact, it's just this repetition of assertions-without-proof that defines propaganda. It can also be interpreted as a declaration of war against an incoming president. The second civil war now takes shape: It begins inside the groaning overgrown apparatus of the government itself. Perhaps after that it spreads to the WalMart parking lots that have become America's new town square. (WalMart sells pitchforks and patio torches.)

Did the Russians make Hillary Clinton look bad? Or did Hillary Clinton manage to do that herself? The NSA propaganda was designed as a smokescreen to conceal the veracity of the Wikileaks releases. Whoever actually rooted out the DNC and Podesta emails for Wikileaks ought to get the Pulitizer Prize for the outstanding public service of disclosing exactly how dishonest the Hillary operation was.

The story may have climaxed with Trump's Friday NSA briefing, the heads of the various top intel agencies all assembled in one room to emphasize the solemn authority of the Deep State's power. Trump worked a nice piece of ju-jitsu afterward, pretending to accept the finding as briefly and hollowly as possible and promising to "look into the matter" after January 20 th - when he can tear a new asshole in the NSA. I hope he does. This hulking security apparatus has become a menace to the Republic.

Whether Trump himself is a menace to the Republic remains to be seen. Certainly he is the designated bag-holder for all the economic and financial depravity of several preceding administrations. When the markets blow, do you suppose the Russians will be blamed for that? Did Boris Yeltsin repeal the Glass-Steagall Act? Was Ben Bernanke a puppet of Putin? No, these actions and actors were homegrown American. For more than thirty years, we've been borrowing too much money so we can pretend to afford living in a blue-light-special demolition derby. And now we can't do that anymore. The physics of capital will finally assert itself.

What we're actually seeing in the current ceremonial between the incoming Trump and the outgoing Obama is the smoldering wreckage of the Democratic Party (which I'm still unhappily enrolled in), and flames spreading into the Republican party - as idiots such as Lindsey Graham and John McCain beat their war drums against Russia. The suave Mr. Obama is exiting the scene on a low wave of hysteria and the oafish Trump rolls in on the cloudscape above, tweeting his tweets from on high, and perhaps it's a good thing that the American people for the moment cannot tell exactly what the fuck is going on in this country, because from that dismal place there is nowhere to go but in the direction of clarity.

... ... ...

[Feb 12, 2017] Instead of the endless perception management or strategic communication or psychological operations or whatever the new code words are, you could open up the files regarding key turning-point moments and share the facts with the citizens

Notable quotes:
"... This bizarre feature of Trump's executive order shows how deep Official Washington's dysfunction goes. Trump has picked a major constitutional battle over a travel ban that targets the wrong countries. ..."
"... But there's a reason for this dysfunction: No one in Official Washington can speak the truth about terrorism without suffering severe political damage or getting blacklisted by the mainstream media. Since the truth puts Israel and especially Saudi Arabia in an uncomfortable position, the truth cannot be spoken. ..."
"... There was some hope that President Trump – for all his irascibility and unpredictability – might break from the absurd "Iran is the principal source of terrorism" mantra. But so far he has not. Nor has Trump moved to throw open the files on the Syrian and Ukraine conflicts so Americans can assess how the Obama administration sought to manipulate them into supporting these "regime change" adventures. ..."
"... But Trump has resisted intense pressure to again entrust U.S. foreign policy to the neoconservatives, a number of whom lost their jobs when President Obama left office, perhaps most significantly Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who helped orchestrate the violent overthrow of Ukraine's elected president and is an architect of the New Cold War with Russia. ..."
"... Other neocons who angled for jobs in the new administration, including John Bolton and James Woolsey, have failed to land them. Currently, there is pressure to ensconce Elliott Abrams, a top neocon dating back to the Reagan administration, in the key post of Deputy Secretary of State but that idea, too, has met resistance. ..."
"... The neocon threat to Trump's stated intent of restoring some geopolitical realism to U.S. foreign policy is that the neocons operate almost as an ideological cabal linked often in a subterranean fashion – or as I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's neocon chief of staff, once wrote in a cryptic letter to neocon journalist Judith Miller that aspen trees "turn in clusters, because their roots connect them." ..."
"... What is less clear is whether Trump, Tillerson and his fledgling State Department team have the intellectual heft to understand why U.S. foreign policy has drifted into the chaos and conflicts that now surround it – and whether they have the skill to navigate a route toward a safe harbor. ..."
"... My first concern, however, is the USA predilection for 'regime change" wars - and for that I blame the neocons. ..."
Feb 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
RGC : February 10, 2017 at 06:44 AM

If you wanted to bring sanity to a U.S. foreign policy that has spun crazily out of control, there would be some immediate steps that you – or, say, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – could take, starting with a renewed commitment to tell the truth to the American people.

Instead of the endless "perception management" or "strategic communication" or "psychological operations" or whatever the new code words are, you could open up the files regarding key turning-point moments and share the facts with the citizens – the "We the People" – who are supposed to be America's true sovereigns.

For instance, you could release what the U.S. government actually knows about the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack in Syria; what the files show about the origins of the Feb. 22, 2014 coup in Ukraine; what U.S. intelligence analysts have compiled about the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine. And those are just three examples of cases where U.S. government propagandists have sold a dubious bill of goods to the American and world publics in the "information warfare" campaign against the Syrian and Russian governments.

If you wanted to base U.S. foreign policy on the firm foundation of reality, you also could let the American people in on who is actually the principal sponsor of the terrorism that they're concerned about: Al Qaeda, Islamic State, the Taliban – all Sunni-led outfits, none of which are backed by Shiite-ruled Iran. Yet, all we hear from Official Washington's political and media insiders is that Iran is the chief sponsor of terrorism.

Of course, that is what Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Israel want you to believe because it serves their regional and sectarian interests, but it isn't true. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are the ones arming and financing Al Qaeda and Islamic State with Israel occasionally bombing Al Qaeda's military enemies inside Syria and providing medical support for Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate operating near the Golan Heights.

The reason for this unsavory network of alliances is that Israel, like Saudi Arabia and the Sunni-led Gulf states, sees Iran and the so-called "Shiite crescent" – from Tehran through Damascus to Beirut – as their principal problem. And because of the oil sheiks' financial wealth and Israel's political clout, they control how pretty much everyone in Official Washington's establishment views the Middle East.

But the interests of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are not in line with the interests of the American people – nor the average European – who are not concerned about militant Shiites as much as militant Sunnis. After all, the worst terror attacks on Europe and the U.S. have come from Sunni extremists belonging to or inspired by Al Qaeda and Islamic State.

This gap between the reality of Sunni-extremist terrorism and the fantasy of Official Washington's "group think" fingering Shiite-ruled Iran explains the cognitive dissonance over President Trump's travel ban on people from seven mostly Muslim countries. Beyond the offensive anti-Muslim prejudice, there is the fact that he ignored the countries that produced the terrorists who have attacked the U.S., including the 9/11 hijackers.

This bizarre feature of Trump's executive order shows how deep Official Washington's dysfunction goes. Trump has picked a major constitutional battle over a travel ban that targets the wrong countries.

But there's a reason for this dysfunction: No one in Official Washington can speak the truth about terrorism without suffering severe political damage or getting blacklisted by the mainstream media. Since the truth puts Israel and especially Saudi Arabia in an uncomfortable position, the truth cannot be spoken.

There was some hope that President Trump – for all his irascibility and unpredictability – might break from the absurd "Iran is the principal source of terrorism" mantra. But so far he has not. Nor has Trump moved to throw open the files on the Syrian and Ukraine conflicts so Americans can assess how the Obama administration sought to manipulate them into supporting these "regime change" adventures.

But Trump has resisted intense pressure to again entrust U.S. foreign policy to the neoconservatives, a number of whom lost their jobs when President Obama left office, perhaps most significantly Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who helped orchestrate the violent overthrow of Ukraine's elected president and is an architect of the New Cold War with Russia.

Other neocons who angled for jobs in the new administration, including John Bolton and James Woolsey, have failed to land them. Currently, there is pressure to ensconce Elliott Abrams, a top neocon dating back to the Reagan administration, in the key post of Deputy Secretary of State but that idea, too, has met resistance.

The neocon threat to Trump's stated intent of restoring some geopolitical realism to U.S. foreign policy is that the neocons operate almost as an ideological cabal linked often in a subterranean fashion – or as I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's neocon chief of staff, once wrote in a cryptic letter to neocon journalist Judith Miller that aspen trees "turn in clusters, because their roots connect them."

In other words, if one neocon is given a key job, other neocons can be expected to follow. Then, any Trump deviation from neocon orthodoxy would be undermined in the classic Washington tradition of strategic leaking to powerful media and congressional allies.

So far, the Trump inner circle has shown the administrative savvy to avoid bringing in ideologues who would dedicate their efforts to thwarting any significant change in U.S. geopolitical directions.

What is less clear is whether Trump, Tillerson and his fledgling State Department team have the intellectual heft to understand why U.S. foreign policy has drifted into the chaos and conflicts that now surround it – and whether they have the skill to navigate a route toward a safe harbor.

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/02/09/trumps-foreign-policy-at-a-crossroads/

Julio -> RGC... , February 10, 2017 at 09:04 AM
Very good analysis.
The first and obvious question about the ban is "why isn't Saudi Arabia included"? As the article shows, this question unravels this (Trump's) current version of dysfunctional foreign policy based on misleading the public.
RGC -> Julio ... , February 10, 2017 at 09:43 AM
Yes, Trump seems to want to act directly but he also seems to often be off-target.

My first concern, however, is the USA predilection for 'regime change" wars - and for that I blame the neocons.

sanjait said in reply to RGC... , February 10, 2017 at 10:56 AM
I am all for transparency but very strongly opposed to asinine conspiracy theories.
RGC -> sanjait... , February 10, 2017 at 11:29 AM
Why should anyone care? Maybe you should actually learn something about a topic before you comment on it.

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

[Feb 12, 2017] Russia Will Not Sell Snowden To Trump; Heres Why Zero Hedge

Feb 12, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

Submitted by Alexander Mercouris via TheDuran.com,

On Friday 10th February 2017 NBC circulated a report the Russian government in order to improve relations with the Trump administration was preparing to hand Edward Snowden over to the US.

The report obviously worried Snowden himself, who tweeted that the report proved that he was not and never had been a Russian agent . That suggests that he took the report seriously.

Snowden should not be worried, since the report is groundless and is clearly a provocation. To see why it is only necessary to look at the NBC report itself , which makes it clear who is behind it...

U.S. intelligence has collected information that Russia is considering turning over Edward Snowden as a "gift" to President Donald Trump - who has called the NSA leaker a "spy" and a "traitor" who deserves to be executed.

That's according to a senior U.S. official who has analyzed a series of highly sensitive intelligence reports detailing Russian deliberations and who says a Snowden handover is one of various ploys to "curry favor" with Trump. A second source in the intelligence community confirms the intelligence about the Russian conversations and notes it has been gathered since the inauguration.

(bold italics added)

It turns out that the story does not originate in Russia. It originates with our old friends the 'anonymous officials' of the US intelligence community.

One of these officials claims that the story is based on "intelligence" of "Russian conversations" that the US intelligence community has 'gathered since the inauguration". We have no way of knowing at what level these "conversations" took place, assuming they took place at all, but it is inconceivable that the US intelligence community is genuinely informed of discussions within the top level of the Russian leadership – where such a question would be discussed – or if it is that it would publicise the fact by blurting the fact out to NBC.

The reality is that there is no possibility of the Russians handing Snowden over to the US in order to please Donald Trump . Not only would doing so almost certainly breach Russian law – as Snowden's lawyer, who has denied the whole story , has pointed out – but it contradicts what I personally heard Russian President Putin say at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in 2014 when the subject of Snowden was brought up, which is that Russia never hands over people like Snowden once they have gained asylum in Russia. That is indeed Russian practice extending far back into the Soviet period, and I can think of no exceptions to it.

As it happens Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova has denied the story in a Facebook post which links it to the ongoing struggle between the Trump administration and the US intelligence community (about which see more below). Here is how RT translates her post

Today, US intelligence agencies have stepped up their work, updating two stale stories, 'Russia can gift Snowden to Trump' and 'confirmation found on the details of the scandalous dossier on Trump allegedly collected by an ex-employee of British intelligence.' But it may seem so only to those who do not understand the essence of the game. None of these statements have been made by representatives of the special services, but is information coming from NBC and CNN, citing unnamed sources. The difference is obvious, but only to experts. Yet it is useful for scandalizing the public and maintaining a degree of [public outrage] .

It is evident that the pressure on the new administration on the part of political opponents within the United States continues, bargaining is going on. And that's why the US foreign policy doctrine has not yet been formed

It is just possible that US intelligence overheard some gossip in Moscow about the Kremlin handing Snowden over to Donald Trump in order to curry favour with him. The various reports the US intelligence community released during the Clinton leaks hacking scandal show that the US intelligence community is not actually very well informed about what goes on in Moscow or how the Russian government works. In light of that it would not be entirely surprising if someone overheard some gossip about Snowden in Moscow which the US intelligence community is over-interpreting.

Far more likely however is that – as Maria Zakharova says – this is a deliberate provocation, spread by someone within the US intelligence community who either wants to signal to Moscow what Moscow 'needs to do' if it wants better relations with the US, or (more probably) as a signal to Donald Trump of the minimum the US intelligence community expects of him if he wants the US intelligence community's support in seeking better relations with Russia.

This story is interesting not because of what it says about what the Russians are going to do to Snowden – which in reality is nothing. Rather it is interesting because it shows the degree to which Snowden continues to be an object of obsession for the US intelligence community.

The reason for that is that the US intelligence community knows that Snowden is not a Russian spy.

As Snowden has pointed out, if he really were a Russian spy no-one in Washington would be talking about the Russians handing him over. The Russians do not hand their spies over any more than the US does, and if Snowden really were a Russian spy no-one in Washington would talking about the Russians handing him over.

However if Snowden had been a Russian spy his actions would in that case have been simply a Russian intelligence operation of which the US intelligence community was the victim, of which there have been many since the Second World War. Espionage is what the US and Russia routinely do to each other, and there would be nothing remarkable about Snowden in that case.

It is the fact that Snowden is on the contrary a deeply patriotic American who acted from patriotic motives that has the US intelligence community enraged and alarmed. From their point of view having a patriotic American publicly expose their practices Jason Bourne style is a far greater threat than have a Russian spy penetrate their systems, since because of the far greater publicity it is far more likely to damage them politically.

This explains the extraordinary feud the US intelligence community has waged against Snowden, which in part explains why it has become so hostile to Russia, the country which has become his protector.

Mr.Sono -> knukles •Feb 12, 2017 5:41 PM
Putin is a man of his words and not a little bitch like Obama. I was suprised that fake news was all over zerohedge regarding this topic, but at the end zerohedge confirmed the fake news.
Giant Meteor -> FreeShitter •Feb 12, 2017 5:35 PM
One of the smartest plays the deep state could make is allowing him back, make small fuss, and issue a pardon. It would go far in deflating, diffusing the situation, de minimis so to speak. But, I suppose it is more about absolute control, control of the narrative, full spectrum dominance, cautionary tales etc. Pride goeth before the fall (destruction) I believe. Eventually this laundry is going to get sorted and cleaned, one way or the other.
boattrash •Feb 12, 2017 5:13 PM
" as Maria Zakharova says – this is a deliberate provocation, spread by someone within the US intelligence community who either wants to signal to Moscow what Moscow 'needs to do' if it wants better relations with the US, or (more probably) as a signal to Donald Trump of the minimum the US intelligence community expects of him if he wants the US intelligence community's support in seeking better relations with Russia."

A full pardon from Trump would improve his standing with the American people, IMHO, on both the left and the right.

HumanMan -> boattrash •Feb 12, 2017 5:29 PM
This was my thought when the story broke. Putin can no longer claim to be a protector of human rights if he hands over Snowden...Unless Trump is going to pardon him. As you pointed you, that would be great (politically) for Trump too. Done this way would be a win win for the two and another win for We The People. On top of that, Putin doesn't want to babysit Snowden. I'm sure the Russians would be happy to have a politically expediant way to get the American spy out of their country.
HRClinton •Feb 12, 2017 5:16 PM
The Deep State rules, no matter what DJT thinks.

The roots go deep in my fomer DOS and in the CIA. Even in the DOD and Senate. Bill and I know this better than anyone.

FAKE NEWS:

On Friday 10th February 2017 NBC circulated a report the Russian government in order to improve relations with the Trump administration was preparing to hand Edward Snowden over to the US.

How many gringos were fooled???--- not many

shovelhead •Feb 12, 2017 5:37 PM
Pissgate II...

Brought to you from your friends at the CIA.

Mr. Crisp •Feb 12, 2017 5:50 PM
Snowden showed the world that the NSA wasn't just tracking terrorists, they were tracking pretty much everyone, everywhere. He deserves a full pardon.

[Feb 09, 2017] How lies work

Feb 09, 2017 | stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com

Nick Cohen makes a good point : it is not congenital liars that should worry us, but congenital believers – those who fall for the lies of charlatans. We know that many do so: almost half of voters believed the lie that leaving the EU would allow us to spend an extra £350m a week on the NHS.

This poses the question: why do people fall for lies? Here, we can learn from behavioural economics and research (pdf) into criminal fraud. I reckon there are several factors that liars exploit in politics.

One is wishful thinking. People want to believe there's a simple solution to NHS underfunding (leave the EU!) or to low wages (cut immigration!) just as they want to believe they can get rich quick or make money by taking no risk: Ponzi schemers like Bernie Madoff play upon that last one. The wish is often the father to the belief.

Relatedly, perhaps, there are lottery-type preferences. People like long-odds bets and pay too much for them: this is why they back longshots (pdf) too much and pay over the odds for speculative shares . To such people, the fact that an offer seems too good to be true is therefore, paradoxically, tempting. A study of fraud by the OFT found :

Some people viewed responding to a scam as taking a long-odds gamble: they recognised that there was something wrong with the offer, but the size of the possible prize or reward (relative to the initial outlay) induced them to give it a try on the off-chance that it might be genuine.

There's a particular type that is especially likely to take a long-odds bet: the desperate. Lonely people are vulnerable to the romance scam; gamblers who have lost take big bets to get even; losing teams try "hail Mary" tactics. In like fashion, people who feel like they have lost out in the era of globalization were tempted to vote for Trump and Brexit.

There's another mechanism here: people are likely to turn to con-men if the alternatives have failed. Werner Troesken shows (pdf) how snake-oil sellers exploited this. They invested a lot in advertising and in product differentiation and so when other products failed they could claim that theirs would work when the others hadn't. I suspect that fund managers use a similar trick: the failure of many to beat the market leads investors simply to trust others rather than tracker funds. The fact that previous policies had failed working people thus encouraged them to try something different – be it Brexit or Trump.

Yet another trick here is the affinity fraud. We tend to trust people like ourselves, or who at least who look like ourselves. Farage's endless posturing as a "man of the people" – fag and pint in hand, not caring about "political correctness" – laid the basis for people to trust him, just as Bernie Madoff joined all the right clubs to encourage wealthy (often Jewish) folk to trust him. By contrast, the claims from the Treasury and various think-tanks that Brexit would make us poorer came from metropolitan elites who were so different from poorer working class people that they weren't trusted. And in fact the very talk of "liberal elites" carried the subtext: "don't trust them: they're not like you".

All of these tendencies have been reinforced by another – the fact that, as David Leiser and Zeev Kril have shown , people are bad at making connections in economics. The idea that Brexit would hurt us rested upon tricky connections: between the terms of Brexit and trade rules; from trade rules to actual trade; and from trade to productivity. By contrast, the idea that leaving the EU would save us money was simple and easy to believe.

Now, I don't say all this merely to be a Remoaner; complaining about liars is like a fish complaining that the water is wet. Instead, I want to point out that it is not sufficient to blame the BBC for not calling out Brexiters' lies. Yes, the BBC disgraced itself during the plebiscite campaign. But we must also understand how voters fall for such mendacity. As Akerlof and Shiller write:

Voters are phishable in two major ways. First, they are not fully informed; they are information phools. Second, voters are also psychological phools; for example, because they respond to appeals such as lawnmower ads [a candidate seen mowing his own lawn is regarded as a man of the people] ( Phishing for Phools , p 75)

All this raises a challenge for liberals. Many used to believe the truth would win out over lies in the marketplace for ideas. This is no longer true, if it ever were. Instead, the questions now are: what can we do about this? And what should we do? The two questions might well have different answers. But we can make a start by understanding how lies are sometimes believed. Keith | February 07, 2017 at 04:47 PM

The marketplace of ideas assumes that the consumers are able and willing to inform themselves and be rational rather than emotional. Clearly this is not true of a lot of voters when confronted by a manipulative press and Tories like Jim with their right wing agenda slyly hidden for the time being.

Equally as in other areas such as health care shopping around is impossible to do as the consumers lack expert knowledge. Allowing the profit motive to apply to many areas is sure to be a disaster for human welfare as the profit incentive stops the experts using their knowledge for good. Finance is a classic example of the uninformed being repeatedly duped into unsound investments decade after decade. Benjamin Graham describes how in his first job selling Bonds to grannies he came to realise that he was being asked to steal the life savings of pensioners via commissions designed to get a sale of junk paper. Which is why he moved elsewhere to a more ethical line of work. But I am sure leaving the biggest most integrated market in the world where lots of foreigners have helpfully learned our language will surely increase our prosperity....Nigel says so.

Matthew Moore | February 07, 2017 at 05:37 PM
There will always be gullible people (/ people constrained by high opportunity cost of information search, as I prefer to think of them)

And there will always be liars looking to take advantage of them. Like 99% of politicians ever.

It's very Marxist to wonder how we might change this basic fact of humanity, when the real solution is clear. Don't set up powerful central institutions that rely on coercion: it attracts liars, rewards them, and makes new liars out of honest people.

Dipper | February 07, 2017 at 07:47 PM
Oh, we Leavers are being lectured again by our Remainer betters on our stupidity.

If the statements of the amount we pay to the EU were lies, how come we owe them €50 billion?

how come no-one ever asks why we have to implement the four freedoms when Germany gets a free pass on the Free market in Services?

the government announced house building plans today, and no-one asks whether a cause of high house prices and a housing shortage is too much immigration?

It's not the lies, it's the questions never asked that stand out.

Dipper | February 07, 2017 at 08:09 PM
@ Keith - "Tories like Jim"

I don't read Jim as a Tory. I read him as someone who was a Labour supporter but now just stares in amazement at a group of people who have become EU Federalist fanatics spouting delusional slogans who can never answer a straight question and refuse to acknowledge the obvious problems of democratic accountability.

How on earth did that happen? How did apparently intelligent people completely lose their critical faculties and join a quasi-religious cult that chants empty slogans and denounces anyone who questions them?

But I'm sure Jim can speak for himself.

Ralph Musgrave | February 07, 2017 at 09:45 PM
Chris missed out the fact that people tend to give others the benefit of the doubt. I.e. if X tells a monster lie, peoples' immediate reaction is: "X is is a bastard". But then on second thoughts they feel ashamed at accusing someone else of being a bastard, and assume it's they themselves that must be wrong.

Sotto Voce | February 07, 2017 at 10:45 PM
There is a bit of a danger here of another comment thread being derailed with Brexit mud-slinging. Chris's post isn't really about the pros and cons of Brexit, it just offers a vivid example of the phenomenon under discussion.

The point Chris makes in the last paragraph is more general and profound. If any and all data/information/evidence/argument is interpreted in partisan fashion and subject to massive confirmation bias so that debates increasingly polarise - or if different sides in debates proffer their own favoured but incompatible versions of the truth - then meaningful dialogue, deliberation and compromise become near impossible. All we get is intolerance, mistrust and greater partisanship. Clearly these are not entirely new issues, but it seems undeniable that there has been a qualitative shift in 'quality' of public debate.

We appear to be witnessing the US political system at great risk of imploding, as enlightenment values are abandoned and key tenets of liberal democratic practice are wilfully rejected. This is the route to chaos.

The questions Chris poses are, to my mind at least, the right ones. The very nature of the problem means that the old/favoured remedies are unlikely to be effective. But what can replace them? Is a violent conflagration the only way of shocking the system out of hyper-partisanship and the rejection of the foundational belief that we live in a shared reality (i.e. for people to 'come to their senses')? Or can we back out of this particular cul-de-sac peacefully? You've got to hope so. But, if so, how?

e | February 07, 2017 at 10:57 PM
Our upper echelon, i.e. our long-standing middle of the road Labour MPs and commentators, have long been successful in fighting off calls for left leaning policy/talk of how things work (because who knows where this will end) under a guise of fighting off racism/ a closed shop mentality; the routes of least resistance 50s – 00s which should alert us to the ability of the English working class to embrace immigration and avoid base philosophies. But it seems not. Seems to me our shared interest beyond race creed colour and gender continues to be deliberately and systematically no-platformed. What I fail to understand, given the rise of UKIP, is why this is not glaringly obvious; because if you're one of the majority who live life as best you might with as much consideration and tolerance as you can muster where does credence go when an ordinary workers tendency to sound 'populist' is marked up to racism no matter known history...

aragon | February 07, 2017 at 11:53 PM
Not again!
Phishing for Phools. The Political Brain...

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/26/books/review/Brooks-t.html

"Serious thinkers set to work, and produced a long shelf of books answering this question. Their answers tended to rely on similar themes. First, Democrats lose because they are too intelligent. Their arguments are too complicated for American voters. Second, Democrats lose because they are too tolerant. They refuse to cater to racism and hatred. Finally, Democrats lose because they are not good at the dark art of politics. Republicans, though they are knuckle-dragging simpletons when it comes to policy, are devilishly clever when it comes to electioneering. They have brilliant political consultants like Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, who frame issues so fiendishly, they can fool the American people into voting against their own best interests."

And immigration is about economics. This is Sweden an immigration superpower.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/755997/Sweden-Malmo-military-intervention-no-go-zone-crime-surge

"Swedish police last year issued a report where it detailed incidents from more than 55 areas which it branded as "no-go zones" as it detailed brutal attacks on police, sexual assaults, children carrying weapons and general turmoil sweeping across the country."

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/most-europeans-want-muslim-ban-immigration-control-middle-east-countries-syria-iran-iraq-poll-a7567301.html

"A ban was supported by 71 per cent of people in Poland, 65 per cent in Austria, 53 per cent in Germany and 51 per cent in Italy.
In the UK, 47 per cent supported a ban.
In no country did more than 32 per cent disagree with a ban."

aragon | February 08, 2017 at 12:29 AM
Phishing for Phools

"It thereby explains a paradox: why, at a time when we are better off than ever before in history, all too many of us are leading lives of quiet desperation."

http://nfs.sparknotes.com/macbeth/page_162.html

"Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell,
Uproar the universal peace, confound
All unity on earth."

Human Nature has not changed.

Guano | February 08, 2017 at 12:42 AM
The truth is complicated.

The truth is challenging.

Tony Holmes | February 08, 2017 at 09:13 AM
Chris, a bit off the point, but if everyone followed your advice and put money in tracker funds and active funds disappeared, what would happen to the stock market ? Instinct tells me it would become extremely volatile, but instinct is a bad guide...

gastro george | February 08, 2017 at 09:35 AM
FFS aragon, that "report" from Sweden is from the Express quoting directly a Swedish fascist.

reason | February 08, 2017 at 11:29 AM
Isn't the key point here prospect theory (I've just finished reading Kahneman). People with no good options gamble.

reason | February 08, 2017 at 11:30 AM
P.S. The no good options bit is a very good reason for opposing first past the post and the limited options consequence.

aragon | February 08, 2017 at 11:47 AM
gasto george

It is not an extreme story, I don't speak Swedish or have any contact with Sweden. I only read the main stream media which includes the Daily Express.

As you would expect most of the media does not report on Sweden, unless it has a British angle.
e.g. Birmingham Boy killed by a hand grenade.
(I don't know how you can spin Hand Grenade)

The report originates with the Swedish Police the situation in Malmo is serious and individual police officers like Peter Springare's Facebook post.

Here is a report from the thelocal.se
http://www.thelocal.se/20170127/malmo-police-chief-help-us

"After a wave of violence in Sweden's third city, police boss Stefan Sintéus has appealed to residents in Malmö: "Help us. Help us to tackle the problems. Cooperate with us.""

Dipper | February 08, 2017 at 12:03 PM
@ gastro george

This isn't the first time facists have made inflammatory comments about muslims. Nick Griffin did this and was prosecuted for inciting racial hatred in 2006. The summary of what he said is some way down this article.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/tougher-race-laws-likely-after-bnp-pair-cleared-423820.html

Eleven years later we have this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-38845332

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with banning "fake news". You have to be really open, transparent and clear and be absolutely sure you are right, otherwise you end up making heroes of facists and stoking the notion that its all a plot to hide the truth from the people. And that is a really bad outcome.

MPs wrestling with their consciences, loud debates, arguments about the truth ... this is the sound of a properly functioning parliamentary democracy and long may that noise continue.

Guano | February 08, 2017 at 02:06 PM
The first two words of the article: Nick Cohen.

Nick Cohen does make some good points but he himself has a complicated relationship with the truth in some areas. When he isn't talking about congenital liars and congenital believers, he continues to get into a rage about people who opposed the invasion of Iraq. As far as I can see, the invasion of Iraq has been the disaster that some of us feared (because regime change involves putting in place a new regime change, which is very difficult and for which the USA and UK do not have the skills). And, as far as I can see, some of the assumptions made by Nick Cohen in 2002 and 2003 in supporting the invasion (such as the ability of the Iraqi National Congress to create a new regime) were very dubious and their weakness of these assumptions is why the invasion was a failure and has had created an array of other problems.

In his campaign to avoid a post-truth future, Nick Cohen claims that people like him "are on their own" and he explicitly rejects working with the kind of people who opposed the invasion of Iraq. That's a pity, really, because many people appear to have started their opposition to the invasion because the information provided and the logic used appeared to be dodgy. The period from August 2002 to March 2003 prefigured the Trump/Brexit era for post-truth information and arguments. Nick Cohen would be on stronger ground if he admitted that the invasion of Iraq has not necessarily worked to anyone's advantage.

I guess that what is going on in Nick Cohen's mind (and I can only guess) is that he has built up a negative image of the type of person who opposed the invasion of Iraq and he has difficulty getting past that image and come to terms with what those people were saying and what has actually happened in Iraq. Thus in between writing articles about the need for truth, Nick Cohen writes expressions of outrage about opponents of the invasion of Iraq as if they had been found to be wrong.

It seems to be a very extreme example of seeing the messenger and not the message, which is one of the issues with failing to recognise lies.

gastro george | February 08, 2017 at 02:24 PM
@aragon

OK, well I've worked most of my life with Swedes and Norwegians, and have regularly visited Malmo three or four times a year recently, although the last was a bit over a year ago.

So, yes, immigration is an issue, and the Sweden Democrats (fascists) have been rising in the polls. Malmo itself has some problems in the suburbs.

But there are no no-go areas. Armed violence has more traditionally been associated with biker-gang turf-related drug wars - otherwise with the far right (see Breivik in Norway) and then, as your last link discusses, lone serial killers.

Reading anything the Sweden Democrats have to say is the equivalent of believing Wilders in the Netherlands - they are loons.

Barbara Konstant | February 08, 2017 at 05:36 PM
Despairing as it seems, our humanity has not reached the necessary level of awareness needed to function peacefully in our world.

[Feb 04, 2017] A color revolution is under way in the United States

Notable quotes:
"... Question: why can there be no color revolution in the United States? Answer: because there are no US Embassies in the United States. ..."
"... US intelligence agencies are now investigating their own boss! Yes, according to recent reports , the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency and Treasury Department are now investigating the telephone conversations between General Flynn and the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyk. ..."
"... In other words, his security clearance is stratospherically high and he will soon become the boss of all the US intelligence services. And yet, these very same intelligence services are investigating him for his contacts with the Russian Ambassador. That is absolutely amazing. ..."
"... Even in the bad old Soviet Union, the putatively almighty KGB did not have the right to investigate a member of the Communist Party Central Committee without a special authorization of the Politburo (a big mistake, in my opinion, but never mind that). ..."
"... But in the case of Flynn, several US security agencies can decide to investigate a man who by all standards ought to be considered at least in the top 5 US officials and who clearly has the trust of the new President. And that does not elicit any outrage, apparently. ..."
"... By the same logic, the three letter agencies might as well investigate Trump for his telephone conversations with Vladimir Putin. ..."
"... This is all absolutely crazy because this is evidence that the US intelligence community has gone rogue and is now taking its orders from the Neocons and their deep state and not from the President and that these agencies are now acting against the interests of the new President. ..."
"... pussyhat revolution ..."
"... pussyhat revolution ..."
"... Make no mistake, such protests are no more spontaneous than the ones in the Ukraine. Somebody is paying for all this, somebody is organizing it all. And they are using their full bag of tricks. One more example: ..."
"... Remember the pretty face of Nayirah , the Kuwaiti nurse who told Congress that she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers tossing our babies from Kuwaiti incubators (and who later turned out to be the daughter of Saud Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States)? Do you remember the pretty face of Neda , who " died on TV " in Iran? Well, let me introduce you to Bana Alabe, who wrote a letter to President Trump and, of course, the media got hold of the latter and now she is the "face of the Syrian children". ..."
"... Okay, click here and take a look at a sampling of anti-Trump caricatures and cartoons compiled by the excellent Colonel Cassad. Some of them are quite remarkable ..."
"... My purpose in listing all the examples above is to suggest the following: far from having accepted defeat, the Neocons and the US deep state have decided, as they always do, to double-down and they are now embarking on a full-scale "color revolution" which will only end with the impeachment, overthrowal or death of Donald Trump. ..."
"... One of the most amazing features of this color revolution against Trump is the fact that those behind it don't give a damn about the damage that their war against Trump does to the institution of the President of the United States and, really, to the United States as a whole. That damage is, indeed, immense and the bottom line is this: President Trump is in immense danger of being overthrown and his only hope for survival is to strike back hard and fast. ..."
"... The other amazing thing is the ugly role Britain plays in this process: all the worst filth against Trump is always eventually traced back right to the UK. How come? Simple. Do you recall how, formally at least, the CIA and NSA did not have the right to spy on US nationals and the British MI6 and GCHQ had no right to spy on British nationals. Both sides found an easy way out: they simply traded services: the CIA and NSA spied on Brits, the MI6 and GCHQ spied on Americans, and then they simply traded the data between "partners" (it appears that since Obama came to power all these measures have now become outdated and everybody is free to spy on whomever the hell they want, including their own nationals). The US Neocons and the US deep state are now using the British special services to produce a stream of filth against Trump which they then report as "intelligence" and which then can be used by Congress as a basis for an investigation. Nice, simple and effective. ..."
"... 9/11 was a collective crime par excellence . A few men actually executed it, but then thousands, possibly tens of thousands, have used their position to execute the cover-up and to prevent any real investigation. They are ALL guilty of obstruction of justice. By opening a new investigation into 911, but one run by the Justice Department and NOT by Congress, Trump could literally place a "political handgun" next to the head of each politician and threaten to pull the trigger if he does not immediately give up on trying to overthrow Trump. What Trump needs for that is a 100% trusted and 100% faithful man as the director of the FBI, a man with " clean hands, a cool head and a burning heart " (to use the expression of the founder of the Soviet Secret Police, Felix Dzerzhinsky). This man will immediately find himself in physical danger so he will have to be a man of great personal courage and determination. And, of course, this "man" could be a woman (a US equivalent of the Russian prosecutor, Natalia Poklonskaia). ..."
"... First, at the very least, the Trump Presidency itself: the Neocons and the US deep state will not let Trump implement his campaign promises and program. Instead they will sabotage, ridicule and misrepresent everything he does, even if this is a big success. ..."
"... Second, it appears that Congress now has the pretext to open several different congressional investigations into Donald Trump. If that is the case, it will be easy for Congress to blackmail Trump and constantly threaten him with political retaliation if he does not "get with the program". ..."
"... Third, the rabid persecution of Trump by the Neocons and the deep state is weakening the institution of the Presidency. For example, the latest crazy notion floated by some politicians is to " prohibit the President of the United States from using nuclear weapons without congressional authorization except when the United States is under nuclear attack ." From a technical point of view, this is nonsense, but what it does is send the following signal to the rest of the planet: "we, in Congress, believe that our Commander in Chief cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons." Never mind that they would trust Hillary with the same nukes and never mind that Trump could use only conventional weapons to trigger a global nuclear war anyway (by, for example, a conventional attack on the Kremlin), what they are saying is that the US President is a lunatic that cannot be trusted. How can they then expect him to be take seriously on any topic? ..."
"... Fourth, can you just imagine what will happen if the anti-Trump forces are successful?! Not only will democracy be totally and terminally crushed inside the USA, but the risks of war, including nuclear, will simply go through the roof. ..."
"... will Trump have the intelligence to realize the fact that he is under attack and will he have the courage to strike back hard enough ..."
Feb 04, 2017 | www.unz.com

A Russian joke goes like this: " Question: why can there be no color revolution in the United States? Answer: because there are no US Embassies in the United States. "

Funny, maybe, but factually wrong: I believe that a color revolution is being attempted in the USA right now.

Politico seems to feel the same way. See their recent cover :

While I did predict that " The USA is about to face the worst crisis of its history " as far back as October of last year, a month before the elections, I have to admit that I am surprised and amazed at the magnitude of the struggle which we see taking place before our eyes. It is now clear that the Neocons did declare war on Trump and some, like Paul Craig Roberts, believe that Trump has now returned them the favor . I sure hope that he is right.

Let's look at one telling example:

US intelligence agencies are now investigating their own boss! Yes, according to recent reports , the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency and Treasury Department are now investigating the telephone conversations between General Flynn and the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyk.

According to Wikipedia, General Flynn is the former

Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Chair of the Military Intelligence Board Assistant Director of National Intelligence Senior intelligence officer for the Joint Special Operations Command.

He is also Trump's National Security Advisor. In other words, his security clearance is stratospherically high and he will soon become the boss of all the US intelligence services. And yet, these very same intelligence services are investigating him for his contacts with the Russian Ambassador. That is absolutely amazing.

Even in the bad old Soviet Union, the putatively almighty KGB did not have the right to investigate a member of the Communist Party Central Committee without a special authorization of the Politburo (a big mistake, in my opinion, but never mind that).

That roughly means that the top 500 members of the Soviet state could not be investigated by the KGB at all. Furthermore, such was the subordination of the KGB to the Party that for common criminal matters the KGB was barred from investigating any member of the entire Soviet Nomenklatura , roughly 3 million people (and even bigger mistake!).

But in the case of Flynn, several US security agencies can decide to investigate a man who by all standards ought to be considered at least in the top 5 US officials and who clearly has the trust of the new President. And that does not elicit any outrage, apparently.

By the same logic, the three letter agencies might as well investigate Trump for his telephone conversations with Vladimir Putin.

Which, come to think of it, they might well do it soon

This is all absolutely crazy because this is evidence that the US i