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Propaganda in the United States comes from both the government and private entities of various kinds. Propaganda is information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to influence opinions and incite action. Propaganda can be disseminated through any medium, including radio, newspaper, posters, books, and anything else that might be sent out to the widespread public.
Neoliberals (and by extension neoconservatives, as neoliberals with the gun) took an important page from Bolsheviks doctrine: organized party should have a core of "professional revolutionaries" which should be supported by research organizations. this is how neoliberal invented the consent of the "think tank"
Later the same trick was used with color revolution, when NGO became organizing center to the uprising against the current regime (if the regime was too timid to suppress them on early stage).
The story behind neoliberal think tanks such as Heritage foundation and AEI is really fascinating (Where Conservative Ideas Come From - The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 26, 2016
These think tanks are very powerful propaganda units, a real "propaganda tanks". Their function is to produce “reports” and “papers” that offer the neoliberal solid justification of the current anti-labor policies and instill in the minds of the US population the necessity of extending and maintaining the global neoliberal empire led by the USA (i.e producing talking points, publishing papers on the subject and giving interview). Neocons engaged in this activity are often called national security parasites. Robert Kagan and Max Boot are nice examples of this specie. They ensure that the propaganda war is being won by the neoliberals.
Stahl’s chief object of inquiry is the American Enterprise Institute, or AEI. Founded in 1938 by a group of businessmen devoted to unwinding the New Deal, its true history began five years later, when its headquarters moved from New York to Washington. Inside the Beltway, AEI staffers portrayed themselves as nonpartisan scholars eager to assist lawmakers from both parties. That stance became increasingly difficult to maintain as the conservative movement grew in strength, and in the 1970s AEI was reborn as a champion of the right in the battle for ideas.
Success bred imitators, and AEI soon found itself outflanked by an upstart known as the Heritage Foundation. More concerned with passing legislation than posing as researchers, Heritage became the dominant think tank in Reagan’s Washington. These nimble practitioners of war-by-briefing-books made AEI seem musty and academic by comparison. AEI revived itself by shifting toward the middle, but it never regained its former centrality. It had changed too much, and so had conservatism.
There is no formal regulation of think tanks. Anyone can set one up. "According to US academic Dr James McCann, who compiles an annual think tank ranking, there are 6,305 such bodies in the world. He lists 285 in the UK, giving it the most after the US and China ... The Adam Smith Institute was a favourite of Margaret Thatcher." BBC News
I think there are too many in the western elites (the ones that actually own the MSM and give it its marching orders, the BBC and CBC public news services then have to goosestep to the same tune or else be shut down for producing too much cognitive dissonance) who think they won the propaganda war against the USSR. Even though they had actual leverage points back then, neoliberal propaganda might still collapse from its own internal rot like happened with Marxist propaganda in the USSR. If the gap with reality became too wide, no amount of efforts can fix that.
But today these elites and their storm troopers have nothing to worry about. they still dominate and even with Trump election comnitue to dominate TV and airwaves.
Think tanks are the most important part of neoliberal propaganda machine. They act like script writers, composing and writing the dialogue that the donors want to be the American public to be brainwashed with. Communist propaganda machine worked the same way and organizations that created untrue ideas, talking points which made their leaders ideas, and plans seem good to the population.
This international ensemble of neoliberal think tanks is essentially a reimplementation of the idea of Comintern ( Communist International - Wikipedia) ;-). Such a Neoliberalism International... Some of them have a world Institute in the name similar to "Institute of Marxism-Leninism" in the USSR. Brookings Institution, CATO, Heritage are just reuse of this idea. Adding the word ‘institute/institution’ or 'foundation' to the name of ‘think-tank’ is a measure devised to give the patina of legitimacy to what is simply a regional headquarters of casino capitalism propaganda machine.
This huge propaganda machine of "professional revolutionaries" is not that distinct from the way Bolshevik Party emerged in the part -- a close circle of people mainly from intelligencia and paid by the party to be able to devote all their time to revolutionary activities. It is instrumental in hiding the truth about the real essence of neoliberalism from "common folk". The ridiculously high levels of money that are pumped into this propaganda machine by financial oligarchy ensure that the so called shmucks never awaken
In general both the Republican party and Democratic Party in the USA are not so much a party as propaganda machines. For example, many European observers consider the US republican party to be a cult in a sense that members of the USA Republican political party, have political, economic, and scientific views that are completly unscientific but were created inside of corporate think tanks and promoted to ensure the success and staying power of neoliberalism as a social system. Media groups like Fox news, MSN NBC, CNN, etc repeat these phrases and ideas on their news broadcasts until they became imprinted is listeners minds.
Dec 11, 2019 | www.veteranstoday.com
The short story is that these stanks are stronger than ever in terms of their ability to build support for what their funders task them to do, laundering the fingerprints on the rigged outcome to make it all look like the honest work of unbiased academics.
Corporate media, even in the old days where they were not as bad, would not dig into the stanks' shorts too deeply, as they had a symbiotic relationship. The media used them for "expert" sourcing in getting their geopolitical articles done and looking classy.
There is no way to get rid of the stanks now, as they are too deeply entrenched. It would take funding like they have to construct an "anti-stank" – a new batch of non-stanks that were not in the tank Jim W. Dean ]
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by Valery Kulikov with New Eastern Outlook , Moscow, and the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences , a research institution for the study of the countries and cultures of Asia and North Africa
– First published December 09, 2019 –
For the longest time the so-called "think tanks" have been an indispensable element of the American political system. These days there are well over two thousand such "analytical centers" operating in the US, which exceeds the combined total in other major international players such as India, China, Argentina, Germany, and the UK.
The first noticeable spike in the number of think tanks across America occurred in the post-WWII years when such "analytical centers" assumed the duty of upholding the emerging unipolar world order within which Washington reigned above all other nations.
In fact, most of them were created primarily by the military, interested in developing a strategy for accumulating large volumes of politically relevant information, which would have been impossible without the employment of civilian specialists possessing diverse skill sets that allowed them to become proficient at geostrategic analysis.
Thus, in 1956, the US Secretary of Defense headed by Charles Erwin Wilson demanded that a total of America's five largest universities join their efforts in establishing a non-profit research organization called the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA). In less than a decade, this entity grew into a massive scientific institution employing well over 600 people.
In the 1960s, there were over 200 think tanks operating simultaneously all across America. The most famous and influential among them were the so-called "government-funded centers", among them the RAND Corporation, the Institute for Defense Analysis, the Institute for Naval Analysis, and the Aerospace Corporation, all of which were directly supported by the US Congress, which would allocate up to 300 million dollars annually to support their operations.
However, in addition to those thinks tanks funded by the state, there was a rapidly growing number of privately-owned analytical centers that were funded by special interests who decided to use these entities to advance their own agendas, thus indirectly influencing American domestic and foreign policies by launching various campaigns.
There where various charitable foundations that came in handy, providing gifts and public donations and allowing their analysts to profit from various publications. During the period from 1957 to 1964, when the very term "think tanks" was coined, the total turnout of those entities increased to 15 billion dollars annually.
At the peak of the think tank craze in the United States -- from 1960 to 1970 -- more than 150 billion dollars were spent on their operations. Today, the budget of the RAND Corporation alone exceeds the threshold of 12 billion dollars a year.
Initially, this American think tank empire was used to overcome crises and develop long-term strategies, with custom-tailored recipes provided to American politicians for approaching various regions of the world. In the 1960s, they were tasked with finding solutions to the problems associated with the Vietnam War, the declining role of the US dollar in global financial markets and the internal instability of the United States.
That's when globalist projects were born, which were designed in such a way that they would divert the attention of the general public from the most acute social problems at home.
Thus, by the end of the previous century, American think tanks turned themselves into an active decision-making tool in the US, as they were not just using "external financing" to advance the agendas of their benefactor s , but were also capable of putting forward respected analysts supporting their cause, with the controlled mass media promoting their narrative.
The close interconnection of the large think tanks and the US government structures is confirmed by American politicians and businessmen changing high-profile positions within the government with positions in these entities.
From the point of view of political rotation, those think tanks serve as a training ground for future high-ranking officials of upcoming administrations, where the establishment handpicks and approves these figures who will eventually get elected. And while one party is in power, the other sends its front-liners back to the think tanks.
A vivid example of this phenomenon is the track record of Donald Trump's former advisor on matters of national security, John Bolton, who at different periods of his political career was employed by three different think tanks – the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies (IASPS) and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
Besides this, as you may know, he was Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs under George W. Bush, a member of the New American Century (PNAC), and in 2007 joined the American Enterprise Institute (AE), that is also an NGO.
Upon receiving specific tasks from behind the scenes interests, elites and various departments, these think tanks began developing various foreign policy concepts, training experts and representatives while preparing public opinion for certain developments through the media, like the advancement of "color revolutions" or the reemergence of some "evil powers" attempting to compete with Washington.
Aside from the well-publicized example of the RAND Corporation, you can look at StrategEast, which is described as the strategic center for political and diplomatic decisions. The main stated objective of StrategEast is the development of programs for specific states on the basis of their susceptibility to various Western (American) values.
Behind this idyllic concept hides the following: StrategEast analysts collect information on the possibility of creating a pro-American society within targeted territories that are of interest to the United States.
For instance, from the mid-80s onwards, Washington was interested in the Soviet Union, and its republics, which resulted in the Baltic states, and then Georgia and Ukraine joining the list of US allies due to the programs developed by StrategEast. Today, they are busy researching the Central Asian states, so it doesn't take much imagination to predict what will happen next.
In the initial stages, StrategEast programs provide a recipe to drive a country away from its traditional cultural values, so that it can be turned into an anti-Russian stronghold (as was done in the Baltic countries, Georgia, and Ukraine) or into their anti-Chinese equivalent (like is happening now with the countries of Central and Southeast Asia).
In Central Asia, for example, American "experts" have begun to impose the idea of translating the national alphabet from Cyrillic to Latin under a very strange pretext that it would then make life easier for local Internet users (while failing to explain why the incredibly complex Japanese and Chinese characters do not impede the ability of users in Japan and China to use the Internet).
In parallel with linguistic and cultural Westernization, the local public is being prepared for the possibility of massive protests so that it won't object to "color revolutions" that engineered to follow.
As we're witnessing the new Cold War going into full swing, there must be an objective assessment of the activities of US think tanks, as their "concepts" and "projects" should be approached with a clear understanding of the fact that they advance certain interests that do not necessarily correspond with the national interests of other countries.
Valery Kulikov, expert politicologist, exclusively for the online magazine 'New Eastern Outlook'
Jul 01, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Stephen Kinzer comments on the creation of a new think tank, The Quincy Institute, committed to promoting a foreign policy of restraint and non-interventionism:
Since peaceful foreign policy was a founding principle of the United States, it's appropriate that the name of this think tank harken back to history. It will be called the Quincy Institute, an homage to John Quincy Adams, who in a seminal speech on Independence Day in 1821 declared that the United States "goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own." The Quincy Institute will promote a foreign policy based on that live-and-let-live principle.
The creation of a think tank dedicated to "an approach to the world based on diplomacy and restraint rather than threats, sanctions, and bombing" is very welcome news. Other than the Cato Institute, there has been nothing like this in Washington, and this tank's focus will be entirely on foreign policy. The lack of institutional support has put advocates of peace and restraint at a disadvantage for a very long time, so it is encouraging to see that there is an effort underway to change that. The Quincy Institute represents another example of how antiwar progressives and conservatives can and should work together to change U.S. foreign policy for the better. The coalition opposed to the war on Yemen showed what Americans opposed to illegal and unnecessary war can do when they work towards a shared goal of peace and non-intervention, and this institute promises to be an important part of such efforts in the future. Considering how long the U.S. has been waging war without end , there couldn't be a better time for this.
TAC readers and especially readers of this blog will be familiar with the people involved in creating the think tank:
The institute plans to open its doors in September and hold an official inauguration later in the autumn. Its founding donors -- Soros's Open Society Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation -- have each contributed half a million dollars to fund its takeoff. A handful of individual donors have joined to add another $800,000. By next year the institute hopes to have a $3.5 million budget and a staff of policy experts who will churn out material for use in Congress and in public debates. Hiring is underway. Among Parsi's co-founders are several well-known critics of American foreign policy, including Suzanne DiMaggio, who has spent decades promoting negotiated alternatives to conflict with China, Iran and North Korea; the historian and essayist Stephen Wertheim; and the anti-militarist author and retired Army colonel Andrew Bacevich.
"The Quincy Institute will invite both progressives and anti-interventionist conservatives to consider a new, less militarized approach to policy," Bacevich said, when asked why he signed up. "We oppose endless, counterproductive war. We want to restore the pursuit of peace to the nation's foreign policy agenda."
Trita Parsi and Andrew Bacevich are both TAC contributors and have participated in our foreign policy conferences in recent years. Parsi and I were on the same panel last fall at our most recent conference. I have also cited and learned from arguments made by Suzanne DiMaggio and Stephen Wertheim in my posts here . Their involvement is a very good sign, and it shows both the political breadth and intellectual depth of this new institution. I look forward to seeing what they do, and I wish them luck.
chris chuba • 9 hours agoGood luck. I hope you will be invited on cable shows. I am tired of seeing the beard from the Foundation of the Defense of Democracies and his clones.Jonathan Dillard Lester • 17 hours ago
Once in a while the hosts mess up and they interview someone who doesn't give the correct answer about the M.E., or somewhere else and I see the blank look on their face as they thank the guess as since it is obvious they cannot process the information. I generally do not see those guests ever again.
The guidelines are, the world is divided into those who crave U.S. leadership and the evildoers who are constantly testing our leadership. We must always be vigilant against the latter. It is inconceivable that anyone merely act in their own interest. It is all about us.Might be a few kindred souls put off by the Soros money, but nothing wrong with taking it!SFBay1949 • 20 hours agoI also am looking forward to reading their thoughts and ideas about a foreign policy that doesn't include the US invading yet another country under the ridiculous notion that we are somehow being threatened by them. We have the largest military on earth. It's also telling that we pick on and invade countries that can't actually hurt us. That makes us all the more the bully on the block. It's to our shame that we even consider these shameful actions.Paul • a day agoExciting news. An early endeavor , if not already accomplished, should be consideration of relevant theoretical models for understanding competition and cooperation. Since the Cold War and to the present day, variants of the Prisoners Dilemma serve this function. Prior to that, misconceptions of survival of the fittest led to the disasters of eugenics and WW2. Maybe the new think tank will outline or draw inspiration from a new theory.SteveM • a day agoRe: "I look forward to seeing what they do, and I wish them luck."Taras77 • a day ago
So do I. Very much so. However, the most prominent realist Washington Think Tank is the Cato Institute. It has well spoken advocates of realism and restraint including Christopher Preble, Doug Bandow and Ted Galen Carpenter. Unfortunately, the thoughtful Cato scribes get very little exposure on the MSM compared to the atrocious Heritage, AEI and Brookings nests of go along to get along Neocon / Neoliberal lackeys. It's not clear to me how and why the Quincy Institute will generate any more leverage.
I've argued many times before that the linchpin of the busted U.S. Global Cop foreign policy model is the Pentagon. As long as the Pentagon hacks are considered the paragons of Olympian insight and wisdom by the political class and the MSM, nothing will change.
Related to that though, there actually was a hopeful article in the Atlantic about the newest Pentagon Big Mouth, CENTCOM Commander General General Kenneth McKenzie:
Hopefully, that is a crack in the wall of Military Exceptionalism. The sooner others start taking a 2x4 to the sanctified occupants of the 5-Sided Pleasure Palace, knocking them off of their pedestals, the better.
BTW, the new Acting Defense Secretary and MIC Parasite Mark Esper is no friend of the taxpayers. Expect that failed Pentagon audit that was deep-sixed by Mad Dog Mattis to stay deep-sixed with Esper in the Big Seat.I am quite amazed that Soros and Koch bro are involved. We will wait to see how this plays out.
Jeez, who can believe this amongst the "think" tanks: "an approach to the world based on diplomacy and restraint rather than threats, sanctions, and bombing"
The Powell Memo was first published August 23, 1971Introduction
In 1971, Lewis Powell, then a corporate lawyer and member of the boards of 11 corporations, wrote a memo to his friend Eugene Sydnor, Jr., the Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The memorandum was dated August 23, 1971, two months prior to Powell’s nomination by President Nixon to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Powell Memo did not become available to the public until long after his confirmation to the Court. It was leaked to Jack Anderson, a liberal syndicated columnist, who stirred interest in the document when he cited it as reason to doubt Powell’s legal objectivity. Anderson cautioned that Powell “might use his position on the Supreme Court to put his ideas into practice…in behalf of business interests.”
Though Powell’s memo was not the sole influence, the Chamber and corporate activists took his advice to heart and began building a powerful array of institutions designed to shift public attitudes and beliefs over the course of years and decades. The memo influenced or inspired the creation of the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Accuracy in Academe, and other powerful organizations. Their long-term focus began paying off handsomely in the 1980s, in coordination with the Reagan Administration’s “hands-off business” philosophy.
Most notable about these institutions was their focus on education, shifting values, and movement-building — a focus we share, though often with sharply contrasting goals.* (See our endnote for more on this.)
So did Powell’s political views influence his judicial decisions? The evidence is mixed. Powell did embrace expansion of corporate privilege and wrote the majority opinion in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, a 1978 decision that effectively invented a First Amendment “right” for corporations to influence ballot questions. On social issues, he was a moderate, whose votes often surprised his backers.Confidential Memorandum: Attack of American Free Enterprise System
DATE: August 23, 1971
TO: Mr. Eugene B. Sydnor, Jr., Chairman, Education Committee, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
FROM: Lewis F. Powell, Jr.
This memorandum is submitted at your request as a basis for the discussion on August 24 with Mr. Booth (executive vice president) and others at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The purpose is to identify the problem, and suggest possible avenues of action for further consideration.
Image courtesy of DonkeyHotey / Flickr
Dimensions of the Attack
No thoughtful person can question that the American economic system is under broad attack. This varies in scope, intensity, in the techniques employed, and in the level of visibility.
There always have been some who opposed the American system, and preferred socialism or some form of statism (communism or fascism). Also, there always have been critics of the system, whose criticism has been wholesome and constructive so long as the objective was to improve rather than to subvert or destroy.
But what now concerns us is quite new in the history of America. We are not dealing with sporadic or isolated attacks from a relatively few extremists or even from the minority socialist cadre. Rather, the assault on the enterprise system is broadly based and consistently pursued. It is gaining momentum and converts.
Sources of the Attack
The sources are varied and diffused. They include, not unexpectedly, the Communists, New Leftists and other revolutionaries who would destroy the entire system, both political and economic. These extremists of the left are far more numerous, better financed, and increasingly are more welcomed and encouraged by other elements of society, than ever before in our history. But they remain a small minority, and are not yet the principal cause for concern.
The most disquieting voices joining the chorus of criticism come from perfectly respectable elements of society: from the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals, the arts and sciences, and from politicians. In most of these groups the movement against the system is participated in only by minorities. Yet, these often are the most articulate, the most vocal, the most prolific in their writing and speaking.
Moreover, much of the media-for varying motives and in varying degrees-either voluntarily accords unique publicity to these “attackers,” or at least allows them to exploit the media for their purposes. This is especially true of television, which now plays such a predominant role in shaping the thinking, attitudes and emotions of our people.
One of the bewildering paradoxes of our time is the extent to which the enterprise system tolerates, if not participates in, its own destruction.
The campuses from which much of the criticism emanates are supported by (i) tax funds generated largely from American business, and (ii) contributions from capital funds controlled or generated by American business. The boards of trustees of our universities overwhelmingly are composed of men and women who are leaders in the system.
Most of the media, including the national TV systems, are owned and theoretically controlled by corporations which depend upon profits, and the enterprise system to survive.
Tone of the Attack
This memorandum is not the place to document in detail the tone, character, or intensity of the attack. The following quotations will suffice to give one a general idea:
William Kunstler, warmly welcomed on campuses and listed in a recent student poll as the “American lawyer most admired,” incites audiences as follows:
“You must learn to fight in the streets, to revolt, to shoot guns. We will learn to do all of the things that property owners fear.”2 The New Leftists who heed Kunstler’s advice increasingly are beginning to act — not just against military recruiting offices and manufacturers of munitions, but against a variety of businesses: “Since February, 1970, branches (of Bank of America) have been attacked 39 times, 22 times with explosive devices and 17 times with fire bombs or by arsonists.”3 Although New Leftist spokesmen are succeeding in radicalizing thousands of the young, the greater cause for concern is the hostility of respectable liberals and social reformers. It is the sum total of their views and influence which could indeed fatally weaken or destroy the system.
A chilling description of what is being taught on many of our campuses was written by Stewart Alsop:
“Yale, like every other major college, is graduating scores of bright young men who are practitioners of ‘the politics of despair.’ These young men despise the American political and economic system . . . (their) minds seem to be wholly closed. They live, not by rational discussion, but by mindless slogans.”4 A recent poll of students on 12 representative campuses reported that: “Almost half the students favored socialization of basic U.S. industries.”5
A visiting professor from England at Rockford College gave a series of lectures entitled “The Ideological War Against Western Society,” in which he documents the extent to which members of the intellectual community are waging ideological warfare against the enterprise system and the values of western society. In a foreword to these lectures, famed Dr. Milton Friedman of Chicago warned: “It (is) crystal clear that the foundations of our free society are under wide-ranging and powerful attack — not by Communist or any other conspiracy but by misguided individuals parroting one another and unwittingly serving ends they would never intentionally promote.”6
Perhaps the single most effective antagonist of American business is Ralph Nader, who — thanks largely to the media — has become a legend in his own time and an idol of millions of Americans. A recent article in Fortune speaks of Nader as follows:
“The passion that rules in him — and he is a passionate man — is aimed at smashing utterly the target of his hatred, which is corporate power. He thinks, and says quite bluntly, that a great many corporate executives belong in prison — for defrauding the consumer with shoddy merchandise, poisoning the food supply with chemical additives, and willfully manufacturing unsafe products that will maim or kill the buyer. He emphasizes that he is not talking just about ‘fly-by-night hucksters’ but the top management of blue chip business.”7
A frontal assault was made on our government, our system of justice, and the free enterprise system by Yale Professor Charles Reich in his widely publicized book: “The Greening of America,” published last winter.
The foregoing references illustrate the broad, shotgun attack on the system itself. There are countless examples of rifle shots which undermine confidence and confuse the public. Favorite current targets are proposals for tax incentives through changes in depreciation rates and investment credits. These are usually described in the media as “tax breaks,” “loop holes” or “tax benefits” for the benefit of business. As viewed by a columnist in the Post, such tax measures would benefit “only the rich, the owners of big companies.”8
It is dismaying that many politicians make the same argument that tax measures of this kind benefit only “business,” without benefit to “the poor.” The fact that this is either political demagoguery or economic illiteracy is of slight comfort. This setting of the “rich” against the “poor,” of business against the people, is the cheapest and most dangerous kind of politics.
The Apathy and Default of Business
What has been the response of business to this massive assault upon its fundamental economics, upon its philosophy, upon its right to continue to manage its own affairs, and indeed upon its integrity?
The painfully sad truth is that business, including the boards of directors’ and the top executives of corporations great and small and business organizations at all levels, often have responded — if at all — by appeasement, ineptitude and ignoring the problem. There are, of course, many exceptions to this sweeping generalization. But the net effect of such response as has been made is scarcely visible.
In all fairness, it must be recognized that businessmen have not been trained or equipped to conduct guerrilla warfare with those who propagandize against the system, seeking insidiously and constantly to sabotage it. The traditional role of business executives has been to manage, to produce, to sell, to create jobs, to make profits, to improve the standard of living, to be community leaders, to serve on charitable and educational boards, and generally to be good citizens. They have performed these tasks very well indeed.
But they have shown little stomach for hard-nose contest with their critics, and little skill in effective intellectual and philosophical debate.
A column recently carried by the Wall Street Journal was entitled: “Memo to GM: Why Not Fight Back?”9 Although addressed to GM by name, the article was a warning to all American business. Columnist St. John said:
“General Motors, like American business in general, is ‘plainly in trouble’ because intellectual bromides have been substituted for a sound intellectual exposition of its point of view.” Mr. St. John then commented on the tendency of business leaders to compromise with and appease critics. He cited the concessions which Nader wins from management, and spoke of “the fallacious view many businessmen take toward their critics.” He drew a parallel to the mistaken tactics of many college administrators: “College administrators learned too late that such appeasement serves to destroy free speech, academic freedom and genuine scholarship. One campus radical demand was conceded by university heads only to be followed by a fresh crop which soon escalated to what amounted to a demand for outright surrender.”
One need not agree entirely with Mr. St. John’s analysis. But most observers of the American scene will agree that the essence of his message is sound. American business “plainly in trouble”; the response to the wide range of critics has been ineffective, and has included appeasement; the time has come — indeed, it is long overdue — for the wisdom, ingenuity and resources of American business to be marshalled against those who would destroy it.
Responsibility of Business Executives
What specifically should be done? The first essential — a prerequisite to any effective action — is for businessmen to confront this problem as a primary responsibility of corporate management.
The overriding first need is for businessmen to recognize that the ultimate issue may be survival — survival of what we call the free enterprise system, and all that this means for the strength and prosperity of America and the freedom of our people.
The day is long past when the chief executive officer of a major corporation discharges his responsibility by maintaining a satisfactory growth of profits, with due regard to the corporation’s public and social responsibilities. If our system is to survive, top management must be equally concerned with protecting and preserving the system itself. This involves far more than an increased emphasis on “public relations” or “governmental affairs” — two areas in which corporations long have invested substantial sums.
A significant first step by individual corporations could well be the designation of an executive vice president (ranking with other executive VP’s) whose responsibility is to counter-on the broadest front-the attack on the enterprise system. The public relations department could be one of the foundations assigned to this executive, but his responsibilities should encompass some of the types of activities referred to subsequently in this memorandum. His budget and staff should be adequate to the task.
Possible Role of the Chamber of Commerce
But independent and uncoordinated activity by individual corporations, as important as this is, will not be sufficient. Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations.
Moreover, there is the quite understandable reluctance on the part of any one corporation to get too far out in front and to make itself too visible a target.
The role of the National Chamber of Commerce is therefore vital. Other national organizations (especially those of various industrial and commercial groups) should join in the effort, but no other organizations appear to be as well situated as the Chamber. It enjoys a strategic position, with a fine reputation and a broad base of support. Also — and this is of immeasurable merit — there are hundreds of local Chambers of Commerce which can play a vital supportive role.
It hardly need be said that before embarking upon any program, the Chamber should study and analyze possible courses of action and activities, weighing risks against probable effectiveness and feasibility of each. Considerations of cost, the assurance of financial and other support from members, adequacy of staffing and similar problems will all require the most thoughtful consideration.
The assault on the enterprise system was not mounted in a few months. It has gradually evolved over the past two decades, barely perceptible in its origins and benefiting (sic) from a gradualism that provoked little awareness much less any real reaction.
Although origins, sources and causes are complex and interrelated, and obviously difficult to identify without careful qualification, there is reason to believe that the campus is the single most dynamic source. The social science faculties usually include members who are unsympathetic to the enterprise system. They may range from a Herbert Marcuse, Marxist faculty member at the University of California at San Diego, and convinced socialists, to the ambivalent liberal critic who finds more to condemn than to commend. Such faculty members need not be in a majority. They are often personally attractive and magnetic; they are stimulating teachers, and their controversy attracts student following; they are prolific writers and lecturers; they author many of the textbooks, and they exert enormous influence — far out of proportion to their numbers — on their colleagues and in the academic world.
Social science faculties (the political scientist, economist, sociologist and many of the historians) tend to be liberally oriented, even when leftists are not present. This is not a criticism per se, as the need for liberal thought is essential to a balanced viewpoint. The difficulty is that “balance” is conspicuous by its absence on many campuses, with relatively few members being of conservatives or moderate persuasion and even the relatively few often being less articulate and aggressive than their crusading colleagues.
This situation extending back many years and with the imbalance gradually worsening, has had an enormous impact on millions of young American students. In an article in Barron’s Weekly, seeking an answer to why so many young people are disaffected even to the point of being revolutionaries, it was said: “Because they were taught that way.”10 Or, as noted by columnist Stewart Alsop, writing about his alma mater: “Yale, like every other major college, is graduating scores’ of bright young men … who despise the American political and economic system.”
As these “bright young men,” from campuses across the country, seek opportunities to change a system which they have been taught to distrust — if not, indeed “despise” — they seek employment in the centers of the real power and influence in our country, namely: (i) with the news media, especially television; (ii) in government, as “staffers” and consultants at various levels; (iii) in elective politics; (iv) as lecturers and writers, and (v) on the faculties at various levels of education.
Many do enter the enterprise system — in business and the professions — and for the most part they quickly discover the fallacies of what they have been taught. But those who eschew the mainstream of the system often remain in key positions of influence where they mold public opinion and often shape governmental action. In many instances, these “intellectuals” end up in regulatory agencies or governmental departments with large authority over the business system they do not believe in.
If the foregoing analysis is approximately sound, a priority task of business — and organizations such as the Chamber — is to address the campus origin of this hostility. Few things are more sanctified in American life than academic freedom. It would be fatal to attack this as a principle. But if academic freedom is to retain the qualities of “openness,” “fairness” and “balance” — which are essential to its intellectual significance — there is a great opportunity for constructive action. The thrust of such action must be to restore the qualities just mentioned to the academic communities.
What Can Be Done About the Campus
The ultimate responsibility for intellectual integrity on the campus must remain on the administrations and faculties of our colleges and universities. But organizations such as the Chamber can assist and activate constructive change in many ways, including the following:
Staff of Scholars
The Chamber should consider establishing a staff of highly qualified scholars in the social sciences who do believe in the system. It should include several of national reputation whose authorship would be widely respected — even when disagreed with.
Staff of Speakers
There also should be a staff of speakers of the highest competency. These might include the scholars, and certainly those who speak for the Chamber would have to articulate the product of the scholars.
In addition to full-time staff personnel, the Chamber should have a Speaker’s Bureau which should include the ablest and most effective advocates from the top echelons of American business.
Evaluation of Textbooks
The staff of scholars (or preferably a panel of independent scholars) should evaluate social science textbooks, especially in economics, political science and sociology. This should be a continuing program.
The objective of such evaluation should be oriented toward restoring the balance essential to genuine academic freedom. This would include assurance of fair and factual treatment of our system of government and our enterprise system, its accomplishments, its basic relationship to individual rights and freedoms, and comparisons with the systems of socialism, fascism and communism. Most of the existing textbooks have some sort of comparisons, but many are superficial, biased and unfair.
We have seen the civil rights movement insist on re-writing many of the textbooks in our universities and schools. The labor unions likewise insist that textbooks be fair to the viewpoints of organized labor. Other interested citizens groups have not hesitated to review, analyze and criticize textbooks and teaching materials. In a democratic society, this can be a constructive process and should be regarded as an aid to genuine academic freedom and not as an intrusion upon it.
If the authors, publishers and users of textbooks know that they will be subjected — honestly, fairly and thoroughly — to review and critique by eminent scholars who believe in the American system, a return to a more rational balance can be expected.
Equal Time on the Campus
The Chamber should insist upon equal time on the college speaking circuit. The FBI publishes each year a list of speeches made on college campuses by avowed Communists. The number in 1970 exceeded 100. There were, of course, many hundreds of appearances by leftists and ultra liberals who urge the types of viewpoints indicated earlier in this memorandum. There was no corresponding representation of American business, or indeed by individuals or organizations who appeared in support of the American system of government and business.
Every campus has its formal and informal groups which invite speakers. Each law school does the same thing. Many universities and colleges officially sponsor lecture and speaking programs. We all know the inadequacy of the representation of business in the programs.
It will be said that few invitations would be extended to Chamber speakers.11 This undoubtedly would be true unless the Chamber aggressively insisted upon the right to be heard — in effect, insisted upon “equal time.” University administrators and the great majority of student groups and committees would not welcome being put in the position publicly of refusing a forum to diverse views, indeed, this is the classic excuse for allowing Communists to speak.
The two essential ingredients are (i) to have attractive, articulate and well-informed speakers; and (ii) to exert whatever degree of pressure — publicly and privately — may be necessary to assure opportunities to speak. The objective always must be to inform and enlighten, and not merely to propagandize.
Balancing of Faculties
Perhaps the most fundamental problem is the imbalance of many faculties. Correcting this is indeed a long-range and difficult project. Yet, it should be undertaken as a part of an overall program. This would mean the urging of the need for faculty balance upon university administrators and boards of trustees.
The methods to be employed require careful thought, and the obvious pitfalls must be avoided. Improper pressure would be counterproductive. But the basic concepts of balance, fairness and truth are difficult to resist, if properly presented to boards of trustees, by writing and speaking, and by appeals to alumni associations and groups.
This is a long road and not one for the fainthearted. But if pursued with integrity and conviction it could lead to a strengthening of both academic freedom on the campus and of the values which have made America the most productive of all societies.
Graduate Schools of Business
The Chamber should enjoy a particular rapport with the increasingly influential graduate schools of business. Much that has been suggested above applies to such schools.
Should not the Chamber also request specific courses in such schools dealing with the entire scope of the problem addressed by this memorandum? This is now essential training for the executives of the future.
While the first priority should be at the college level, the trends mentioned above are increasingly evidenced in the high schools. Action programs, tailored to the high schools and similar to those mentioned, should be considered. The implementation thereof could become a major program for local chambers of commerce, although the control and direction — especially the quality control — should be retained by the National Chamber.
What Can Be Done About the Public?
Reaching the campus and the secondary schools is vital for the long-term. Reaching the public generally may be more important for the shorter term. The first essential is to establish the staffs of eminent scholars, writers and speakers, who will do the thinking, the analysis, the writing and the speaking. It will also be essential to have staff personnel who are thoroughly familiar with the media, and how most effectively to communicate with the public. Among the more obvious means are the following:
The national television networks should be monitored in the same way that textbooks should be kept under constant surveillance. This applies not merely to so-called educational programs (such as “Selling of the Pentagon”), but to the daily “news analysis” which so often includes the most insidious type of criticism of the enterprise system.12 Whether this criticism results from hostility or economic ignorance, the result is the gradual erosion of confidence in “business” and free enterprise.
This monitoring, to be effective, would require constant examination of the texts of adequate samples of programs. Complaints — to the media and to the Federal Communications Commission — should be made promptly and strongly when programs are unfair or inaccurate.
Equal time should be demanded when appropriate. Effort should be made to see that the forum-type programs (the Today Show, Meet the Press, etc.) afford at least as much opportunity for supporters of the American system to participate as these programs do for those who attack it.
Radio and the press are also important, and every available means should be employed to challenge and refute unfair attacks, as well as to present the affirmative case through these media.
The Scholarly Journals
It is especially important for the Chamber’s “faculty of scholars” to publish. One of the keys to the success of the liberal and leftist faculty members has been their passion for “publication” and “lecturing.” A similar passion must exist among the Chamber’s scholars.
Incentives might be devised to induce more “publishing” by independent scholars who do believe in the system.
There should be a fairly steady flow of scholarly articles presented to a broad spectrum of magazines and periodicals — ranging from the popular magazines (Life, Look, Reader’s Digest, etc.) to the more intellectual ones (Atlantic, Harper’s, Saturday Review, New York, etc.)13 and to the various professional journals.
Books, Paperbacks and Pamphlets
The news stands — at airports, drugstores, and elsewhere — are filled with paperbacks and pamphlets advocating everything from revolution to erotic free love. One finds almost no attractive, well-written paperbacks or pamphlets on “our side.” It will be difficult to compete with an Eldridge Cleaver or even a Charles Reich for reader attention, but unless the effort is made — on a large enough scale and with appropriate imagination to assure some success — this opportunity for educating the public will be irretrievably lost.
Business pays hundreds of millions of dollars to the media for advertisements. Most of this supports specific products; much of it supports institutional image making; and some fraction of it does support the system. But the latter has been more or less tangential, and rarely part of a sustained, major effort to inform and enlighten the American people.
If American business devoted only 10% of its total annual advertising budget to this overall purpose, it would be a statesman-like expenditure.
The Neglected Political Arena
In the final analysis, the payoff — short-of revolution — is what government does. Business has been the favorite whipping-boy of many politicians for many years. But the measure of how far this has gone is perhaps best found in the anti-business views now being expressed by several leading candidates for President of the United States.
It is still Marxist doctrine that the “capitalist” countries are controlled by big business. This doctrine, consistently a part of leftist propaganda all over the world, has a wide public following among Americans.
Yet, as every business executive knows, few elements of American society today have as little influence in government as the American businessman, the corporation, or even the millions of corporate stockholders. If one doubts this, let him undertake the role of “lobbyist” for the business point of view before Congressional committees. The same situation obtains in the legislative halls of most states and major cities. One does not exaggerate to say that, in terms of political influence with respect to the course of legislation and government action, the American business executive is truly the “forgotten man.”
Current examples of the impotency of business, and of the near-contempt with which businessmen’s views are held, are the stampedes by politicians to support almost any legislation related to “consumerism” or to the “environment.”
Politicians reflect what they believe to be majority views of their constituents. It is thus evident that most politicians are making the judgment that the public has little sympathy for the businessman or his viewpoint.
The educational programs suggested above would be designed to enlighten public thinking — not so much about the businessman and his individual role as about the system which he administers, and which provides the goods, services and jobs on which our country depends.
But one should not postpone more direct political action, while awaiting the gradual change in public opinion to be effected through education and information. Business must learn the lesson, long ago learned by labor and other self-interest groups. This is the lesson that political power is necessary; that such power must be assidously (sic) cultivated; and that when necessary, it must be used aggressively and with determination — without embarrassment and without the reluctance which has been so characteristic of American business.
As unwelcome as it may be to the Chamber, it should consider assuming a broader and more vigorous role in the political arena.
Neglected Opportunity in the Courts
American business and the enterprise system have been affected as much by the courts as by the executive and legislative branches of government. Under our constitutional system, especially with an activist-minded Supreme Court, the judiciary may be the most important instrument for social, economic and political change.
Other organizations and groups, recognizing this, have been far more astute in exploiting judicial action than American business. Perhaps the most active exploiters of the judicial system have been groups ranging in political orientation from “liberal” to the far left.
The American Civil Liberties Union is one example. It initiates or intervenes in scores of cases each year, and it files briefs amicus curiae in the Supreme Court in a number of cases during each term of that court. Labor unions, civil rights groups and now the public interest law firms are extremely active in the judicial arena. Their success, often at business’ expense, has not been inconsequential.
This is a vast area of opportunity for the Chamber, if it is willing to undertake the role of spokesman for American business and if, in turn, business is willing to provide the funds.
As with respect to scholars and speakers, the Chamber would need a highly competent staff of lawyers. In special situations it should be authorized to engage, to appear as counsel amicus in the Supreme Court, lawyers of national standing and reputation. The greatest care should be exercised in selecting the cases in which to participate, or the suits to institute. But the opportunity merits the necessary effort.
Neglected Stockholder Power
The average member of the public thinks of “business” as an impersonal corporate entity, owned by the very rich and managed by over-paid executives. There is an almost total failure to appreciate that “business” actually embraces — in one way or another — most Americans. Those for whom business provides jobs, constitute a fairly obvious class. But the 20 million stockholders — most of whom are of modest means — are the real owners, the real entrepreneurs, the real capitalists under our system. They provide the capital which fuels the economic system which has produced the highest standard of living in all history. Yet, stockholders have been as ineffectual as business executives in promoting a genuine understanding of our system or in exercising political influence.
The question which merits the most thorough examination is how can the weight and influence of stockholders — 20 million voters — be mobilized to support (i) an educational program and (ii) a political action program.
Individual corporations are now required to make numerous reports to shareholders. Many corporations also have expensive “news” magazines which go to employees and stockholders. These opportunities to communicate can be used far more effectively as educational media.
The corporation itself must exercise restraint in undertaking political action and must, of course, comply with applicable laws. But is it not feasible — through an affiliate of the Chamber or otherwise — to establish a national organization of American stockholders and give it enough muscle to be influential?
A More Aggressive Attitude
Business interests — especially big business and their national trade organizations — have tried to maintain low profiles, especially with respect to political action.
As suggested in the Wall Street Journal article, it has been fairly characteristic of the average business executive to be tolerant — at least in public — of those who attack his corporation and the system. Very few businessmen or business organizations respond in kind. There has been a disposition to appease; to regard the opposition as willing to compromise, or as likely to fade away in due time.
Business has shunted confrontation politics. Business, quite understandably, has been repelled by the multiplicity of non-negotiable “demands” made constantly by self-interest groups of all kinds.
While neither responsible business interests, nor the United States Chamber of Commerce, would engage in the irresponsible tactics of some pressure groups, it is essential that spokesmen for the enterprise system — at all levels and at every opportunity — be far more aggressive than in the past.
There should be no hesitation to attack the Naders, the Marcuses and others who openly seek destruction of the system. There should not be the slightest hesitation to press vigorously in all political arenas for support of the enterprise system. Nor should there be reluctance to penalize politically those who oppose it.
Lessons can be learned from organized labor in this respect. The head of the AFL-CIO may not appeal to businessmen as the most endearing or public-minded of citizens. Yet, over many years the heads of national labor organizations have done what they were paid to do very effectively. They may not have been beloved, but they have been respected — where it counts the most — by politicians, on the campus, and among the media.
It is time for American business — which has demonstrated the greatest capacity in all history to produce and to influence consumer decisions — to apply their great talents vigorously to the preservation of the system itself.The Cost
The type of program described above (which includes a broadly based combination of education and political action), if undertaken long term and adequately staffed, would require far more generous financial support from American corporations than the Chamber has ever received in the past. High level management participation in Chamber affairs also would be required.
The staff of the Chamber would have to be significantly increased, with the highest quality established and maintained. Salaries would have to be at levels fully comparable to those paid key business executives and the most prestigious faculty members. Professionals of the great skill in advertising and in working with the media, speakers, lawyers and other specialists would have to be recruited.
It is possible that the organization of the Chamber itself would benefit from restructuring. For example, as suggested by union experience, the office of President of the Chamber might well be a full-time career position. To assure maximum effectiveness and continuity, the chief executive officer of the Chamber should not be changed each year. The functions now largely performed by the President could be transferred to a Chairman of the Board, annually elected by the membership. The Board, of course, would continue to exercise policy control.
Quality Control is Essential
Essential ingredients of the entire program must be responsibility and “quality control.” The publications, the articles, the speeches, the media programs, the advertising, the briefs filed in courts, and the appearances before legislative committees — all must meet the most exacting standards of accuracy and professional excellence. They must merit respect for their level of public responsibility and scholarship, whether one agrees with the viewpoints expressed or not.
Relationship to Freedom
The threat to the enterprise system is not merely a matter of economics. It also is a threat to individual freedom.
It is this great truth — now so submerged by the rhetoric of the New Left and of many liberals — that must be re-affirmed if this program is to be meaningful.
There seems to be little awareness that the only alternatives to free enterprise are varying degrees of bureaucratic regulation of individual freedom — ranging from that under moderate socialism to the iron heel of the leftist or rightist dictatorship.
We in America already have moved very far indeed toward some aspects of state socialism, as the needs and complexities of a vast urban society require types of regulation and control that were quite unnecessary in earlier times. In some areas, such regulation and control already have seriously impaired the freedom of both business and labor, and indeed of the public generally. But most of the essential freedoms remain: private ownership, private profit, labor unions, collective bargaining, consumer choice, and a market economy in which competition largely determines price, quality and variety of the goods and services provided the consumer.
In addition to the ideological attack on the system itself (discussed in this memorandum), its essentials also are threatened by inequitable taxation, and — more recently — by an inflation which has seemed uncontrollable.14 But whatever the causes of diminishing economic freedom may be, the truth is that freedom as a concept is indivisible. As the experience of the socialist and totalitarian states demonstrates, the contraction and denial of economic freedom is followed inevitably by governmental restrictions on other cherished rights. It is this message, above all others, that must be carried home to the American people.
It hardly need be said that the views expressed above are tentative and suggestive. The first step should be a thorough study. But this would be an exercise in futility unless the Board of Directors of the Chamber accepts the fundamental premise of this paper, namely, that business and the enterprise system are in deep trouble, and the hour is late.
- Variously called: the “free enterprise system,” “capitalism,” and the “profit system.” The American political system of democracy under the rule of law is also under attack, often by the same individuals and organizations who seek to undermine the enterprise system.
- Richmond News Leader, June 8, 1970. Column of William F. Buckley, Jr.
- N.Y. Times Service article, reprinted Richmond Times-Dispatch, May 17, 1971.
- Stewart Alsop, Yale and the Deadly Danger, Newsweek, May 18. 1970.
- Editorial, Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 7, 1971.
- Dr. Milton Friedman, Prof. of Economics, U. of Chicago, writing a foreword to Dr. Arthur A. Shenfield’s Rockford College lectures entitled “The Ideological War Against Western Society,” copyrighted 1970 by Rockford College.
- Fortune. May, 1971, p. 145. This Fortune analysis of the Nader influence includes a reference to Nader’s visit to a college where he was paid a lecture fee of $2,500 for “denouncing America’s big corporations in venomous language . . . bringing (rousing and spontaneous) bursts of applause” when he was asked when he planned to run for President.
- The Washington Post, Column of William Raspberry, June 28, 1971.
- Jeffrey St. John, The Wall Street Journal, May 21, 1971.
- Barron’s National Business and Financial Weekly, “The Total Break with America, The Fifth Annual Conference of Socialist Scholars,” Sept. 15, 1969.
- On many campuses freedom of speech has been denied to all who express moderate or conservative viewpoints.
- It has been estimated that the evening half-hour news programs of the networks reach daily some 50,000,000 Americans.
- One illustration of the type of article which should not go unanswered appeared in the popular “The New York” of July 19, 1971. This was entitled “A Populist Manifesto” by ultra liberal Jack Newfield — who argued that “the root need in our country is ‘to redistribute wealth’.”
- The recent “freeze” of prices and wages may well be justified by the current inflationary crisis. But if imposed as a permanent measure the enterprise system will have sustained a near fatal blow.
* One of the great frustrations we’ve had at Reclaim Democracy! is that foundations and funders whose work is thwarted by corporate domination have failed to learn from the success of these corporate institutions. They decline to invest in long-term education and culture-shifting that we and a small number of allied organizations work to achieve. Instead, they overwhelmingly focus on damage control, short-term goals and make social change organizations plead for funding every year, rather than making long-term investments in movement-building. This approach stands no chance of yielding the systemic change needed to reverse the trend of growing corporate dominance.
Patient nurturing of movement-building work remains the exception to the rule among foundations that purport to strengthen democracy and citizen engagement. The growing movement to revoke corporate personhood is supported almost entirely from contributions by individual (real) people like you. Please consider supporting the work of groups that devote themselves to this essential movement-building work, rather than short-term projects and results demanded by most foundations.
A pro-small business counter to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) is one of the few business groups recognizing corporatization as a primary threat to entrepreneurship and democracy. AMIBA has often engaged in direct opposition to the Chamber.
- Washington and Lee University has created this archive (pdf) of significant follow-up communications to the Powell Memo.
- On the occasion of the memo’s 40th anniversary, Bill Moyers’ website posted useful background and commentary.
ReclaimDemocracy.org focuses on long-term movement-building and systemic change, striving to shift energy and funding from reactive work against individual harms caused by corporations to proactive efforts that seek to revoke corporate power systemically. Our ultimate goals involve Constitution-level change.
Nov 04, 2019 | jacobinmag.com
Neoliberalism? Never Heard of It
- Luke Savage
The latest liberal parlor game is pretending there's no such thing as neoliberalism. The game's very popularity highlights neoliberalism's enduring hegemony.
For the first time in decades, it has become possible to envision real alternatives to the prevailing political and economic order of the past forty years. In both Europe and the Americas, the neoliberal consensus is facing a crisis of moral, intellectual, and popular legitimacy: proving unable to deliver either the growth or the broad prosperity its ideologues once promised and facing robust electoral challenges from both the socialist left and the nationalist right.
Predictably enough, this turn of events has elicited a defensive response from neoliberalism's greatest partisans and those otherwise invested in its political and cultural hegemony. "Reminder: Liberalism Is Working, and Marxism Has Always Failed," asserts an anguished Jonathan Chait. "It's Time for the Elites to Rise Up Against the Ignorant Masses," bellows an indignant James Traub. "Not left, not right, but forward," meanwhile, has once again become the median posture among those seeking the Democratic nomination for president -- with most candidates channeling the spirit of Tony Blair's famous 1998 call to neoliberal technocracy and making familiar appeals to moderation and tepid meliorism.
But the past several years have also given birth to another, more curious phenomenon: namely the repeated insistence of many prominent liberals and centrists that neoliberalism is either a phantom created by leftists or, alternatively, a term so ethereal it defies definition and therefore serves no useful purpose. In Britain and America especially (arguably neoliberalism's most significant ideological beachheads in the 1980s and '90s), some commentators can't seem to help resist this strange line of argument, even as the contours of the neoliberal order become ever-more visible as its political prospects weaken and its economic fortunes decline.
The argument comes in several variations.
The first, and most plainly superficial, caustically insists that neoliberalism doesn't exist or at any rate ceased to have a meaningful existence long ago. "Nobody has spotted a neoliberal in the wild since Gary Hart's 1984 presidential campaign," writes Politico 's Bill Scher, in his stunningly humorless review of The Chapo Guide to Revolution . Or, to take the petulant words of former Clinton sycophant Tom Watson: "There are no neoliberals in the US Congress -- not one. Not one in any statehouses in the nation, either. Yet it's constantly bandied about by the white academic left as a functioning and present ideology."
A second, related version holds that the word primarily exists as a term of abuse: an epithet reductively deployed by leftist trolls looking to slander everyone in sight. This variation's greatest scribe is undoubtedly the ever-aggrieved Chait who, in a July 2017 piece titled "How 'Neoliberalism' Became the Left's Favorite Insult of Liberals," insists that liberalism has remained largely consistent and unchanging (thus making "neo" an unnecessary and pejorative addendum). This argument hinges on the astoundingly ahistorical claim that liberal politicians had no hand in the generalized rightward shift that followed the 1970s and, furthermore, have not wavered in their basic commitments, particularly when it comes to economic policy, since the New Deal:
The Democratic Party has evolved over the last half-century, as any party does over a long period of time. But the basic ideological cast of its economic policy has not changed dramatically since the New Deal . . . Progressives are correct in their belief that something has changed for the worse in American politics. Larger forces in American life have stalled the seemingly unstoppable progressive momentum of the postwar period . . . All this forced Democrats more frequently into a defensive posture . . . Barack Obama's far more sweeping reforms still could not win any support from a radicalized opposition. It is seductive to attribute these frustrations to the tactical mistakes or devious betrayals of party leaders. But it is the political climate that has grown more hostile to Democratic Party economic liberalism. The party's ideological orientation has barely changed.
In this telling, liberal writers like Chait and Democratic politicians like Clinton and Obama have remained consistent with the liberalism of the midcentury. The "neoliberalism" charge is therefore an abusive tactic invented by socialists and designed primarily to "bracket," as he puts it, "the center-left together with the right as 'neoliberal' and then force progressives to choose between that and socialism."
This calls to mind a third, perhaps more emblematic variation on the form, which holds that the wide application of "neoliberal" renders the term too vague or imprecise for it to retain real value. In an editorial for the Independent , Ben Chu takes aim at the regular charge made by some on Labour's Corbynite left that the EU is a neoliberal institution: a reflex he believes to be incoherent, conspiratorial, and even mildly sinister. Partly echoing Chait, Ed Conway (economics editor for Britain's Sky News) asks : "What is neoliberalism and why is it an insult?" While socialists and others on the Left are fond of branding everything they dislike "neoliberal," he writes, no one can actually agree on the word's meaning:
You could pick any one of [Jeremy Corbyn's] speeches over the past few years for . . . examples. The Grenfell Tower was a tragedy of neoliberalism . . . Austerity was a product of neoliberalism. The City is neoliberal, the government is neoliberal, the press is neoliberal . . . Despite the fact that neoliberalism is frequently referred to as an ideology, it is oddly difficult to pin down. For one thing, it is a word that tends to be used almost exclusively by those who are criticizing it -- not by its advocates, such as they are (in stark contrast to almost every other ideology, nearly no one self-describes as a neoliberal). In other words, it is not an ideology but an insult.
A somewhat more earnest and coherent version of this argument is found in a recent essay by Vox 's Ezra Klein , which does at least grant the term neoliberalism some tangible meaning. "In its simplest form," Klein writes, "neoliberalism refers to a general preference for market mechanisms over state interventions." This, however, is where the problems begin for him:
Since almost everyone sometimes prefers market mechanisms to state interventions, and sometimes prefer state interventions to market mechanisms, the conversation quickly gets confusing. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were neoliberals . Bill Clinton is often seen as a neoliberal. Barack Obama is sometimes considered a neoliberal. Elizabeth Warren is occasionally called a neoliberal.
As such, Klein concludes, the label is often over-applied to the point of incoherence. "A label that can describe everyone," he argues, "doesn't usefully describe anyone." To his credit, Klein doesn't want us to abandon the term entirely. Nor does he pretend, as others do, that the phenomenon it describes is so nebulous it might as well not exist (to his earlier definition, he even adds: "Neoliberalism describes what happens when capitalism mutates from an economic system to a governing and even moral philosophy").
His essay's primary purpose, however, is to argue that the Obama presidency fell short of progressive expectations because of an intransigent Congress rather than an attachment to neoliberalism. This is where Klein, his more nuanced and inquisitive posture notwithstanding, begins to sound a bit like Chait:
In recent years, neoliberal has reemerged as political slander, meaning something like "corporatist sellout Democrat" . . . I've become more frustrated with the lazy ways the term is tossed around -- and, particularly, how it becomes an all-purpose explanation for any political outcome someone doesn't like.
While exhibiting variations and coming in numerous shades of good and bad faith, all of these arguments -- and others in the same vein -- share some common features.
The first is poor, or at any rate incomplete, history.
Far from being abstract or immaterial, neoliberalism was the consciously pursued project of an initially small group of intelligentsia who, thanks to decades of well-funded organizing and adept political maneuvering -- particularly during the economic crises that afflicted Keynesian social democracy in the 1970s -- gradually succeeded in taking their ideology to the heights of institutional and cultural power. First capturing the old right (in Britain's Tory Party, the disappointments of the Heath era gave way to the more dynamic and confrontational ethos of Thatcherism, just as in America Nixon and Ford were succeeded by Reaganism), the neoliberal ascendency eventually secured a foothold in the center-left thanks to the agency of figures like Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.
The new generation of ideologues who came to dominate Western liberalism in the 1990s were hardly dragged kicking and screaming into the embrace of its more market-zealous incarnation. On the contrary, New Labour acolytes and Atari Democrats were some of neoliberalism's most enthusiastic converts and set out to realign their parties with the consensus already set in motion by the new right. Here's how the Democratic Party's shift away from postwar liberalism was described in 2013 by none other than Chait himself :
[Various] magazines once critiqued Democrats from the right, advocating a policy loosely called "neoliberalism," and now stand in general ideological concord. Why? I'd say it's because the neoliberal project succeeded in weaning the Democrats of the wrong turn they took during the 1960s and 1970s. The Democrats under Bill Clinton -- and Obama, whose domestic policy is crafted almost entirely by Clinton veterans -- has internalized the neoliberal critique.
Given these observable shifts, it is simply ahistorical to argue that liberalism has been ideologically stagnant, or that its transformation into neoliberalism during the 1990s did not occur; equally so to suggest that liberal politicians like Clinton or Obama were simply the casualties of a generalized rightward drift, akin to an intense weather event, rather than the conscious practitioners of an ideology. If neoliberalism is sometimes invoked as a pejorative term for today's liberal politicians, it's because the Left opposes the consensus they seek to perpetuate and holds that a more humane alternative is both possible and desirable.
Setting aside the historical details, what about the second major component of the arguments at hand -- that the moniker "neoliberalism" is either too widely applicable or too contested to be of any use?
This is the fulcrum of the reasoning offered in varying degrees by Klein, Conway, and Chu, and like many erroneous arguments, it contains a degree of truth. For one thing, there is indeed some ambiguity surrounding the term -- but that's only because what it refers to is so multifaceted. Taken at face value, neoliberalism describes a mixture of classical liberal philosophy and neoclassical economics amounting (on paper at least) to an ethic of governance that sees individual freedom as best actualized under a regime of limited state activity, favors private enterprise over public ownership, and is skeptical of state regulation.
But neoliberalism also variously describes: an existing set of interconnected economic and political institutions; a conscious ideological offensive that transformed global politics in the 1980s and '90s and the frontiers of acceptable public policy since; a range of principles that guide elected leaders of both the Right and the liberal center whether they are conscious adherents to neoliberal philosophy or not; and the near-totalizing reality of life under the pressures and logics of late capitalism.
For some, this is reason enough to abandon, dismiss, or severely limit the application of the term -- in some cases to the point that it ceases to be a recognized feature of contemporary life. If a set of political ideas can be applied too widely, so this thinking runs, then continuing to identify or isolate them as a causal force becomes basically pointless. How, after all, can a label applicable to politicians as distinct as Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama be of any real use?
But we might just as easily draw the opposite conclusion. The ubiquity of a particular phenomenon does not make discrete analysis of it useless; if anything, such omnipresence makes identifying it a more urgent and critical task. A phenomenon so diffuse that it seems manifest throughout politics, economics, and culture is hardly a chimera, and the apparent reticence of many commentators to recognize or even acknowledge its valence as a term can only be viewed as a symptom of neoliberalism's continued stranglehold on our political, cultural, and intellectual life.
The longer something is a part of your reality, the more it tends to fade from your field of focus. Put another way: the more pervasive a particular object or phenomenon, the easier it can be to take its presence for granted. After its initially disruptive incursion in the 1980s, neoliberalism fast became a feature of our collective existence, so indelible many now seem unable to recall a time before it existed, let alone conceive a future that goes beyond it. An ideology secures hegemony at precisely the point it ceases to be considered an ideology: its claims transform into axioms; its theories harden into dogma; its abstruse vernacular becomes the lingua franca; its assumptions are subsumed under "common sense."
That neoliberalism remains so poorly understood in the very political mainstream whose frontiers it now circumscribes is a testament to both the breathtaking scope of its counterrevolution, and the daunting task facing those of us who desire its overthrow. It is everywhere and therefore nowhere: at once so diaphanous it seems invisible; so internalized it appears inescapable. Then again, there may be something altogether more hopeful to be drawn from this strange and often narcotic diffusion. As the late Mark Fisher reminds us:
The long, dark night of the end of history has to be grasped as an enormous opportunity. The very oppressive pervasiveness of capitalist realism means that even glimmers of alternative political and economic possibilities can have a disproportionately great effect. The tiniest event can tear a hole in the grey curtain of reaction which has marked the horizons of possibility under capitalist realism. From a situation in which nothing can happen, suddenly anything is possible again.
Nov 04, 2019 | crookedtimber.org
likbez 11.04.19 at 7:24 pmYour comment is awaiting moderation.
Petter Sjölund 11.03.19 at 2:46 pm
why such far-reaching changes could be made with so little resistance: the political majorities of every color, left and right, embraced the neoliberal project wholeheartedly.'
Nothing really surprising here. It is yet another demonstration of the power of propaganda, the power of brainwashing. First capture, and then tight control of major MSM along with creation of a network of "think tanks" -- reusing Bolsheviks idea of "professional revolutionaries" in a very innovative matter. And financial oligarchy, striving for revenge and dismantling of the New Deal regulation, financed those ventures pretty lavishly, which attracted certain type of talent, the whole class of political shysters (Milton Friedman is a nice example here)
Though Powell's memo was not the sole influence, the Chamber and corporate activists took his advice to heart and began building a powerful array of institutions designed to shift public attitudes and beliefs over the course of years and decades. The memo influenced or inspired the creation of the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Accuracy in Academe, and other powerful organizations. Their long-term focus began paying off handsomely in the 1980s, in coordination with the Reagan Administration's "hands-off business" philosophy.
In other words, neoliberals as Trotskyites turn coats innovatively reused methods pioneered by Bolsheviks and national socialists.
Remember Reagan's quip:
The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
This is a very slick propaganda and it most probably did not originated from Reagan himself but from his speechwriters.
Aug 03, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com
Patrick Armstrong -> Andrei Martyanov (aka SmoothieX12) ... , 03 August 2019 at 01:10 PMSomebody in the twitterverse asked the twits this question: "Name a job that you can completely suck at and still keep your job?" Instantly answered by Max Blumenthal "Beltway think tank senior fellow"
Jul 17, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
The 'New Right' Is Not a Reaction to Neoliberalism, but Its Offspring Posted on July 17, 2019 by Yves Smith By Lars Cornelissen, who holds a PhD in the Humanities and works as a researcher and editor for the Independent Social Research Foundation. Originally published at openDemocracy
The ongoing and increasingly intense conservative backlash currently taking place across Europe is often understood as a populist reaction to neoliberal policy. The neoliberal assault on the welfare state, as for instance Chantal Mouffe has argued , has eroded post-war social security even as it destroyed people's faith in electoral politics. Coupled with a sharp increase in inequality and rapid globalisation, the technocratic nature of neoliberal government has angered electorates across the continent. Wanting to "take back control" of their political life, these electorates have turned away from traditional centrist parties and have thrown their lot in with populist parties on the fringes of the political spectrum. Although, as Mouffe is at pains to point out , this creates a space for both left-wing and right-wing populisms, today it seems that especially its inward-looking, nationalistic variants are experiencing electoral success.
To be sure, this diagnosis is by and large correct. Decades of neoliberal hegemony have certainly served to impoverish the cultural life of many European nations. Meanwhile, neoliberal policies of privatisation and deregulation, followed after the 2008 crisis by a decade of blithe austerity measures, have gutted most of the institutions that previously carried the promise of equity and security -- even if that promise was always already a false one. The rise in jingoistic nationalism is, in this sense, without doubt a consequence of the neoliberal era.
It would be incorrect to assume, however, that these nationalisms are somehow juxtaposed to or fundamentally different from neoliberalism. It would be wrong, that is, to see the rise of the so-called "new right" as a sign of neoliberalism's demise or to see the 2008 financial crisis as marking its death rattle. Neoliberalism did not merely provide the occasion for the rise of nationalist sentiment; rather, the latter also grew out of the former. Differently put, neoliberal doctrine already carried the seeds of the kind of conservativism that is currently running rampant in Europe.
The Neoliberal Network
A good place to start is the network of neoliberal think tanks and research institutes that has served as the frontline of the neoliberal project since the 1950s. Indeed, as numerous research studies by historians and sociologists have shown, although neoliberalism first emerged as an intellectual movement spearheaded by such figures as Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Walter Eucken, and Milton Friedman, crucial to the movement's success was its effort to disseminate its ideology strategically. Thus, after an initial phase in which these men prepared the philosophical grounds for the neoliberal agenda, they set out to spread their ideas, forming a Transatlantic web of intellectuals and researchers with the express objective of steadily influencing public opinion in general and policy-makers in particular.
Among the most prominent think tanks to be erected in this way are the Institute of Economic Affairs, founded by Anthony Fisher in 1955 on Hayek's explicit advice, the Cato Institute, founded in 1974, and the Adam Smith Institute, founded in 1977. They are merely the most visible core of a vast network of similar organisations, however. Whether named after neoliberalism's pioneering theorists (a small selection: the Hayek Institut; the Hayek Gesellschaft; the Ludwig von Mises Institute; the Walter Eucken Institut; the Becker Friedman Institute) or given more esoteric monikers (such as the Heritage Foundation or the Atlas Economic Research Foundation), many right-wing think tanks are of neoliberal descent. Those whose founding predates the birth of neoliberalism, such as the Hoover Institution and the American Enterprise Institute, were quickly absorbed into the neoliberal project. Together these think tanks form a sprawling network of ideological entrepreneurs driven, as Anthony Fisher is reported to have said , by the desire to "litter the world with free-market think tanks."
As the primary channels through which neoliberal ideas flow to the wider public, these institutions make for a crucial weather vane for shifts unfolding within the neoliberal mindset. Any attempt to make sense of neoliberalism's many twists and turns must therefore pay attention to trends in their ideological direction and outputs. And this is where neoliberalism's recent hard turn towards conservative nationalism becomes apparent.
Neoliberalism has always had a strong conservative streak: Hayek himself was inspired by Edmund Burke at least as much as by Adam Smith, and such towering figures of German neoliberalism as Wilhem Röpke and Alexander Rüstow were deeply conservative thinkers. Conversely, Hayek in particular has exerted a considerable influence on the most recent generation of conservative philosophers, with men like Roger Scruton, Paul Cliteur, Francis Fukuyama, and Niall Ferguson routinely drawing upon his ideas about the market, law, and societal order in support of their own conservatism. (The latter, as it happens, received the Hayek Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.)
However, what originally remained an intellectual attraction between neoliberals and conservatives has in recent decades morphed into something more closely resembling a synthesis. As neoliberal hegemony reached its climax in the 1990s, its intellectual custodians began focusing their attention on what they purported to be the failures of multiculturalism. Decrying 'cultural relativism,' neoliberal think tanks began publishing pamphlets that sang the praises of western culture, which their writers regarded as inherently superior to its non-liberal (read: non-western) counterparts. They proceeded to assert the need to protect national identity from its dilution by immigration and to advocate patriotism and nationalism as a means of consolidating such identity.
It is, then, wrong to assume that neoliberal parties or intellectuals embraced nationalism only after the so-called "new right" was in its ascendency, as a means to win back voters or to assuage a supposedly vitriolic and jingoistic electorate. In truth, many of neoliberalism's ideologues had swerved firmly towards conservative nationalism well before right-wing populism became a serious political contender. In doing so, they anticipated many of the latter's principal ideological markers, including its conspiratorial conception of " cultural Marxism " and its fondness for Oswald Spengler .
In short, neoliberals had no small part in setting the stage for the recent eruption of regressive nationalism. By peddling ethnocentric, nationalistic, and xenophobic ideas they helped shift public opinion to the conservative right, rendering it ever more salonfähig. A good example of this process may be found in Dutch politics, where Islamophobia entered mainstream discourse largely due to the efforts of Frits Bolkestein, then the country's leading neoliberal politician and author. Anticipating the Islamophobia of Pim Fortuyn and later Geert Wilders by about a decade, he claimed as early as 1991 that Islam is objectively speaking inferior to western culture. In so doing, he shifted the country's national debate and gave xenophobia a gloss of legitimacy, setting the stage for his country's sharp conservative turn in the new millennium.
A Neoliberal Brexit
Neoliberalism's influence on the rise of conservatism is not exhausted by its ideological appeal, however. Think tanks are, after all, meant to direct policy, not just to elaborate an ideological doctrine. By way of example, let us consider Brexit. Indeed, the neoliberals' impact on the "new right" is nowhere clearer than in the British hard right's attempt to enforce a no-deal Brexit.
To begin, it's worth noting that the Conservative Party's most prominent cadre of Brexit-backing nationalists counts many explicit devotees of Hayek amongst its numbers, including Roger Scruton , Boris Johnson , Priti Patel , and Sajid Javid (who called Hayek a "legend" in a 2014 tweet ). Jacob Rees-Mogg's late father William was similarly an outspoken Hayekian, calling himself "an Austrian economist more than anything else" in a 2010 interview and adding for good measure that he "knew Friedrich von Hayek and liked him very much."
But neoliberalism's impact on Tory hard Brexiteers goes much further. Here again, the neoliberal network of think tanks takes centre stage. As research done by openDemocracy UK has demonstrated, the Conservative Party's nationalist wing maintains very intimate ties with the Institute of Economic Affairs, which has lobbied extensively to broaden the appeal of a hard or even no-deal Brexit. Thus it maintains very close ties with the European Research Group (ERG), a group that represents the Party's most extreme Eurosceptics, and has had the ear of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, David Davis, and Jacob Rees-Mogg.
The IEA is but one of many neoliberal think tanks that are today advocating a hard Brexit. The same is true for, amongst other, the Adam Smith Institute , the Hayek Institut , the Austrian Economics Center , the Mises Institute , the Hoover Institute , the Cato Institute , and the Heritage Foundation . Whilst it's not true that all of those who work for such institutes are Brexiteers -- indeed, the Adam Smith Institute is very open about its internal dispute over Brexit -- it certainly is the case that neoliberalism's ideological vanguard is contributing significantly to the justification and rationalisation of a no-deal scenario.
All of these threads seem to converge in the figure of Steve Baker. Serving as Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union from June 2017 until he resigned a year later over his disagreement with the government's stance on Brexit, Baker was one of his party's leading Eurosceptical voices well before that. In 2015, he co-founded the Conservatives for Britain campaign, which was instrumental in lobbying for a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU. What's more, he served as Chairman of the ERG between 2016 and 2018 and as Deputy Chairman since then. Baker is also a prominent figure in the world of neoliberal think tanks, having co-founded The Cobden Centre (TCC) in 2010 and served as its director until 2017. A self-declared Austrian-inspired think tank, TCC is co-directed by hard Brexiteer Daniel Hannan , routinely posts defences of a hard Brexit, hosts material by hard-line Brexiteers such as Nigel Farage , Douglas Carswell , Michael Tomlinson , and Baker himself, and has close links to a glut of other neoliberal, pro-Brexit think tanks.
There is ample evidence that what is often seen as the "new right" is in fact not all that different from its predecessor. Several decades of neoliberal hegemony have not just triggered a backlash by the conservative right. Rather, the conservative right is a mutation of neoliberalism, one of its many outgrowths. The left is ill served by the continued assumption that it's fighting a new enemy, for clearly neoliberalism is still very much with us.
Colonel Smithers , July 17, 2019 at 6:33 am
Many thanks, Yves.
With regard to Brexit, I would just add that neo con think tanks, e.g. the Henry Jackson Society, also joined their more economics focussed brethren. Brexit is a means of weakening the EU to the benefit of the anglosphere, albeit a US led community with the UK playing Greece to the US's Rome. They are less prominent, or shouty, but I think that is by design. The likes of Richard Dearlove, Charles Guthrie and John Scarlett know how to play this game and are happy to let the loud mouths, especially the colonials like Kate Andrews, Divya Chakraborty and Chloe "low tax" Westley, or "low fact" to some, front up on air.
Steve Baker is a former Royal Air Force officer and MP for the neighbouring constituency. He straddles both camps.
There are differences, often tensions, between the Austrians, neo cons and the likes of the North family. Pete(r J) North's latest blog addresses that.
Ignacio , July 17, 2019 at 6:35 am
Indeed all confessed VOX (populist rigth, Spain) voters I know were faithful Popular Party (conservative) voters. Anecdotic but in line with this article.
Watt4Bob , July 17, 2019 at 7:37 am
The 'New Right' are the storm troopers of the neoliberal 'New World Order' , conjured deliberately, and painstakingly into existence as a bulwark against the rising tide of legitimate populist revolt against the strangle hold of neoliberal rule.
This is exactly what Jay Gould meant* when he said he could hire half the working class to murder the other half.
It's disturbing to note how obviously Trump is stirring the embers of reactionary sentiment that are never far from the surface of our national lack-of-character.
*It matters not if Jay Gould actually uttered these words, they describe the foundation of right-wing power in America.
Carolinian , July 17, 2019 at 9:23 am
Where is this "rising tide" you refer to? In the US our supposed revolutionaries are firmly within the Democratic party which is neoliberal to the core. While the above article may be correct that the nationalist new right represents fake populism in the manner of Wall Street loving Trump, there's not a lot of evidence of an anti-capitalist revolt on the left either (Elizabeth Warren: I am a capitalist). The article linked the other day on inverted totalitarianism hit the nail squarely. Whether left or right "There Is No Alternative" holds sway until the house of cards finally collapses. In the meantime our current elites will go to any extreme to keep that from happening.
Watt4Bob , July 17, 2019 at 11:35 am
The discomfort of those at the bottom results eventually in anger, and that anger looks for an outlet.
Rather than take the chance that those angry folks might seek, and eventually find solace in solidarity with left-oriented populism a la Bernie Sanders flavor of socialism, TPTB nurture a perennial alternative, the empty, but effective promise to make things 'right' by force of will, and of course, violence if necessary.
If the "rising tide" of relatively informed and activist candidates did not exist, and were not influencing the electorate, there would be fear on the part of TPTB, and so no reason to encourage the "New Right" .
I might add, that IMHO, you are swimming in that "rising tide" by your participation here at NC.
Carolinian , July 17, 2019 at 12:23 pm
Guess I'm old enough to remember an actual popular tide. But as we found the tide comes in and then it goes out. IMO in order to have another New Deal we are probably going to need another Great Depression. The internet including this website have become a great resource for learning what is going on. But if the plutocrats begin to bothered by it they will institute censorship (it's already happening). What they really fear is losing their money and therefore their power. Another economic crisis might do the job.
Pym of Nantucket , July 17, 2019 at 10:31 am
Whenever one attributes anything to Trump, I believe it is important to imagine him not as the mastermind, but as the catalyst. There are countless pent up forces that are using him as the figurehead or scapegoat around which a torrent of change coming which was previously held back. I feel that the damage done by his presidency was coming anyway, with him now as Court Jester leading the parade. He is the perfect hybrid of Big Brother and Emmanuel Goldstein.
A.F , July 17, 2019 at 8:18 am
Neoliberalism is anti-national and anti-conservative.
Petter , July 17, 2019 at 10:22 am
Epistemology of Neoliberalism – from Phillip Mirowski video – Hell is Truth Seen Too Late.
1. People are sloppy undependable cognitive agents.
2. Not to worry – "The Market" is the greatest information processor in human history.
3. The problem is to get people to accept and subjugate themselves to the Market. This is called "Freedom".
4. The politics of 1-3 can get a little tricky. Best not be too literal about it.
Susan the other` , July 17, 2019 at 1:12 pm
Liberty and liberal are both words that are fraught with contradiction and confusion. Whose Liberty? Liberal for whom? That never gets parsed out because in the parsing both words lose their meaning. They are just bricks and bats and hand grenades. Hayek reads like a thoughtful, reasonable person. But what he believes to be effective economics always fails. We are all current witnesses. Austrians are conservative in defense of their liberty. They seek liberal policies and governments so they can have more individual economic freedom. And free trade. Socialism sees it differently; socialists are, by contrast, conservative. They believe in conserving social justice. Now we have a first hand understanding of the failures of neoliberalism. People at the local level, and the rural, want to be included in the liberal prosperity so they vote for more economic freedom (leave the EU); the elite and the rich want something entirely different; they want an even less restricted government so they can sail off and be neocolonialists. So just like the confusion over the word "liberal" nobody asks, Brexit for whom? It makes me weary.
tegnost , July 17, 2019 at 11:06 am
I'd say the neolibs are more afraid of sanders than they are of trump, so conservative (why can't those better republicans be like us) and also that they understand labor arbitrage requires borders and so are pro national.
Thuto , July 17, 2019 at 9:18 am
Interesting perspective this about neoliberalism and the new right drawing from the same ideological source. I would also add that Ukraine is a cautionary tale to all would-be right wing "leaders" that you can whip citizens into a frenzy (with help from Victoria Nuland, John McCain and a not insignificant coup warchest of $5bn) and ride the stirred up resentment of the establishment to the presidency but unless you deliver real, socially beneficial changes the next election you'll have your as# handed to you by a comedian, just ask Poroshenko.
Outside of the US where right wing politicians like Trump can take the credit for levers like easy credit bidding up asset prices and the gig economy putting lipstick on the unemployment pig to keep the deception going (the deception being that stock markets are at all time highs, employment numbers are up etc even as wealth and income inequality are at robber baron levels), right wing populism is hardly a viable political strategy. Once all the immigrants have been demonized and chased out and people notice that their lives are still stuck in an economic rut, the right wingers run out of targets to aim their vitriol at, their rhetoric falls flat and public trust in their divisive tactics erodes.
David , July 17, 2019 at 9:41 am
He gets several things confused, apparently as a result of an attempt to argue that immigration, multiculturalism and so forth are unproblematic, and only "islamophobes" would suggest otherwise. It's very much a view from inside the Panglossian bubble. There are at least three strands here.
Celebrations of western culture in comparison with Islam (a minority position but one which is still found) go back a long time, mainly on the Right Christian heritage, democracy etc) but also to some extent on the Left, where some writers fear that secularism and class-based politics are themselves in danger.
Opposition to explicitly multicultural policies by government (not the same as living in a society with different cultures) is largely a reaction to policies promoted by governments of the ostensible Left, although supported for entirely cynical reasons by neoliberals as a way of fragmenting resistance. This opposition comes from all parts of the political system.
Opposition to neoliberal policies, most obviously the encouragement of immigration by unskilled workers from poor countries, is based primarily on the lived experience of the poor and disadvantaged who are the main victims of immigration. (A non-negligible element of the opposition comes from past immigrants who have settled and made lives for themselves.)
There's a very elitist argument here that people are incapable of understanding their actual situations and require some right-wing pundit to explain things to them.
Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg , July 17, 2019 at 10:56 am
Also the article elides the fact that neoliberalism has within its DNA a subspecies of Fabian Socialism that seems to assuage what little conciousness market fundamentalists have about rolling back a century of bitterly won advances by the working classes (of all erthnicities & gender identies, fixations and usages) within the insustrialized regions by diluting them with waves of foreign people made desperate by contrived colonial wars and climate disasters.
Does anyone believe that an Indonesian Muslim background person in Netherlands who's made a good living suddenly wants her children to have to compete with waves of Africans for starter jobs?
Also- we've just come off of 30 plus years of identitarian pride for all non-white people. Which is just garbage that's come out of english departments in the elite universities. White people have been told for about a decade now by everyone in academia and entertainment that they're all racist trash who need to intermarry with darker people as quickly as possible to expiate the sins of north american chattel slavery and ..muh holocaust. Somehow all the depradations, human sacrifices, genocides and repressions of and by about every group throughout all time are just 'whatabouttism' now. When you start scapegoating any group they will get their back up eventually. There's nothing conservative about it. But Disaster Capitalists are more than happy to insert themselves into the scene, supporting such causes the same way they supported #MeToo or #BlackLivesMatter when it was a convenience. Never let a good disaster go to waste, right?
Clive , July 17, 2019 at 12:08 pm
Yes, and nary a mention of long-standing socialist (oft referred to in the U.K. as Bennite in "honour" of the school of thought popularised by Tony Benn, but he merely expressed much older international labour movement (note the small "l" there not a big "L") notion of global worker solidarity) opposition to the EU.
You can say many things about socialism, Bennism and their kissing cousin Communism. But "neoliberal" or "neoliberal antecedences" isn't one of them.
A nice try at constricting -- and thereby, one has to assume, attempting to constrain and frame -- Brexit as being only a right wing or conservative reactionary ideal and thereby inherently neoliberal. But that might, only might, have worked a few years ago. Too much water has passed under the bridge and too much ideological complexity has emerged around it now for that to wash.
divadab , July 17, 2019 at 12:19 pm
@David – yes! Resistance to excessive immigration is non-ideological but based on very human tribalism. Too many strangers in a society results in a loss of fellow-feeling and more division. This is, IMHO, the root of much of the rot in Western societies – the destruction of trust, aided and abetted by a ruling class that uses deception habitually to manage the masses and divide them from themselves. Can't let the cattle figure out how we're exploiting them!
John Wright , July 17, 2019 at 1:17 pm
If one views the indigenous workforce of a nation as a loosely constructed "labor union", one only has to look at the disdain that labor unions have for strike breaking "scabs" to see why there is resistance to excessive immigration.
At the top of the workforce pyramid, the well-paid upper crust views their costs for domestic help and workplace staffing dropping with increased immigration..
I suspect left leaning US politicians do not allow that many voting, low wage, workers (aka HRC deplorables) view themselves competing with immigrants for jobs, with some numerical justification, as immigrants and their US born children constitute about 28% of US population.
"Immigrants and their U.S.-born children now number approximately 89.4 million people, or 28 percent of the overall U.S. population, according to the 2018 Current Population Survey (CPS). Pew Research Center projects that the immigrant-origin share will rise to about 36 percent by 2065."
Trump has tapped into this, but is doing it in a Potemkin village style, as I tell people that Trump likes low wage workers for his properties and construction projects. His border wall is designed for show, not effectiveness, otherwise he would enforce employer sanctions against employing non US citizens.
Off The Street , July 17, 2019 at 10:03 am
Neo-liberalism seems to me to have as a logical consequence the fostering of a Covenant-Lite approach to culture as well as markets.
The markets show that some of those Covenant-Lite Collateralized Loan Obligations are blowing up now , distressingly reminiscent of the CDOs that wrought havoc on the world financial markets last decade during the Crash.
Culture gets its turn, as it always does, this time through an anything-goes approach without any moral or ethical underpinnings, of whatever nature. It should be no surprise to anyone that there are bad actors to manipulate situations, institutions and people.
Off The Street , July 17, 2019 at 12:05 pm
See also Wolf Richter on the matter.
Hayek's Heelbiter , July 17, 2019 at 10:16 am
Glad to see my nemesis being exposed for what he truly is! :)
Amfortas the hippie , July 17, 2019 at 10:52 am
I think this is neglecting an important strand ..Neoliberalism obviously contains within itself the resistance of the Hoi Polloi even Hayek and Mises were aware of this as far back as the 40's.
People would chafe at the all against all hyperindividualist yer-on-yer-own orthodoxy and seek ways to challenge the Neoliberal Order.
The Right Wing Version of such Populist insurgency is simply one that the Neoliberal Thought Collective can more easily swallow and use towards it's own ends.
Unlike the Sanders/Veroufkas(sp-2). Melanchon(sp-2) Actual Left version of Populism, which is the antithesis of Neoliberalism.
Look to the history of things like the CIA, and the Elite neofeudalist worldview it has worked for from it's very beginnings .anything that smells of the Left must be rooted out and crushed, lest it present an alternative while Right Wing Authoritarians are supported as "Freedom Fighters" and "Liberationists" .just ignore all the corpses(or blame them on the Powerless Left)
Neoliberalism is merely the latest(and slipperiest!) version of a Capitalist World Order that itself is merely the latest iteration of the Ancient Regime.
The Elite, as a class, have been trying to undo the Enlightenment(often by coopting many of it's features) since time immemorial.
The Populist Right is a useful(if dangerous) tool in furtherance of that end, while Lefty Populism is anathema, that would undo the very foundations of their preferred Order.
Jun 16, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
It also explains the rise of think tanks, which are more pliant than academics but provide similar marketing support. As Benjamin Friedman and I wrote in a 2015 article on the subject, think tanks undertake research with an operational mindset: that is, "the approach of a passenger riding shotgun who studies the map to find the ideal route, adjusts the engine if need be, and always accepts the destination without protest."
As former senator Olympia Snowe once put it, "you can find a think tank to buttress any view or position, and then you give it the aura of legitimacy and credibility by referring to their report." Or consider the view of Rory Stewart, now a member of parliament in the UK, but once an expert on Afghanistan who was consulted on the Afghan surge but opposed it:
It's like they're coming in and saying to you, "I'm going to drive my car off a cliff. Should I or should I not wear a seatbelt?" And you say, "I don't think you should drive your car off the cliff." And they say, "No, no, that bit's already been decided -- the question is whether to wear a seatbelt." And you say, "Well, you might as well wear a seatbelt." And then they say, "We've consulted with policy expert Rory Stewart, and he says "
Or look at how policymakers themselves define relevance. Stephen Krasner, an academic who became a policymaker, lamented the uselessness of much academic security studies literature because "[e]ven the most convincing empirical findings may be of no practical use because they do not include factors that policy makers can manipulate."
The explicit claim here is that for scholarship to be of any practical use, it must include factors that policymakers can manipulate. This reflects a strong bias toward action, even in relatively restrained presidencies.
To take two recent examples, the Obama administration blew past voluminous academic literature suggesting the Libya intervention was likely to disappoint. President Barack Obama himself asked the CIA to analyze success in arming insurgencies before making a decision over what to do in Syria. The CIA replied with a study showing that arming and financing insurgencies rarely works. Shortly thereafter, Obama launched a billion-dollar effort to arm and finance insurgents in Syria.
As Desch tracks the influence of scholars on foreign policy across the 20th century, a pattern becomes clear: where scholars agree with policy, they are relevant. Where they do not, they are not.
In several of the cases Desch identifies where scholars disagreed with policy, they were right and the policymakers were tragically, awfully wrong. In the instances where scholars differed with policy at high levels, Desch blames their "unrealistic expectations" for causing "wartime social scientists to overlook the more modest, but real, contribution they actually made" to policy. But why would we want scholars to trim their sails in this way? And why should social scientists want to be junior partners in doomed enterprises?
Social scientists have produced reams of qualitative and historically focused research with direct relevance to policy. They publish blog posts, tweets, excerpts, op-eds, and video encapsulations of their work. The only thing left for them to do is to convey their findings via interpretive dance, and a plan for doing that is probably in the works already. In the meantime, it should be simultaneously heartening and discouraging for policy-inclined scholars to realize that It's Not Us, It's Them.
In a country as powerful and secure as the United States, elites can make policy built on shaky foundations. Eventually, the whole thing may collapse. Scholars should focus on pointing out these fundamental flaws -- and thinking about how they might help rebuild.
Justin Logan is director of programs and a research associate at the Center for the Study of Statesmanship at Catholic University.
Oleg Gark June 11, 2019 at 9:03 pm[Karl Rove] said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' [ ] 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do'.EliteCommInc. , says: June 12, 2019 at 3:56 am
Experts, shmexperts! Who needs realism when you're creating your own reality.I was thinking -- the academics involved in policy are in think tanks and thenEliteCommInc. , says: June 12, 2019 at 4:05 am
"It also explains the rise of think tanks, which are more pliant than academics but provide similar marketing support."
but what I found intriguing is the assessment concerning most of the research being faulty or dead wrong in various ways.
Given that and the real world success of the think tank players who develop foreign policy Dr. Desch should consider the matter a wash --
Those on the field aren't scoring any big points. in fact they seem intend on handing the ball over to the opposing team repeatedly.
trying to predict and then replicate human behavior is a very dicey proposition.
enjoyed the reference to the ongoing debate quantative analysis verses qualitative.Sadly when the numbers quantative research ruled they could really be abusive in stating what the data meant.polistra , says: June 12, 2019 at 8:23 am
Nowhere is this more evident than with crime stats.Excellent article.JohnT , says: June 12, 2019 at 9:01 am
Another question occurs to me: Who are the executives or politicians trying to impress when they bring in captive consultants or scholars? Ordinary people (customers or voters) don't care. Customers just want a good product, and voters just want sane policies.
Competing leaders know the game and don't bother to listen.
So who's the audience for the "thinkers"?In so much of the world's leadership today it is not science that is being ignored and corrupted so much as rational thought and a personal insight mature enough to find indisputable the need for the opinion of others.Taras 77 , says: June 12, 2019 at 12:14 pm
But, to this post's point, I once had a statistician with a doctorate in his profession casually state their numbers predicted Stalin would fail. In response, my thought was when in the history of the known galaxy did putting a soulless person in charge ever not fail? Compassion alone would predict that outcome.The absolute most corrupting influence in current foreign policy discussion is the growth of the mis-named growth of "think" tanks. One can discern immediately the message when determining author and organization.Kouros , says: June 12, 2019 at 3:20 pm
Moar war, russia, iran, et al are threats, moar military spending, support israel at all costs, etc, etc.
These 'think' tanks are extremely well funded by oligarchs and foreign money so the bottom line is directed towards pre-selected objectives. Even the state dept is getting into the act to atk pro-Iran activists.
Where is the level playing field?While the academics might be deemed irrelevant when views differ, the government in-house analysts might even loose their jobs if their positions differ from those of the decision makers. I know I lost mine, and it wasn't even in foreign policy or national securityChristian J Chuba , says: June 13, 2019 at 7:13 amIt's the mentality of forever war that considers diversity subversive.C. L. H. Daniels , says: June 13, 2019 at 1:26 pm
The purpose of Think Tanks and foreign policy experts (misnamed) is to rally the troops against our enemies list, not to improve our interaction with the rest of the world but to defeat them. To them, it is always WW2. Yemen must die because we can connect them to Iran; they are Dresden.
BTW I know the author was talking about actual experts. They have all been purged and dismissed as Arabist or enemy sympathizers. Track records don't matter, to them we are at war and will always be so.President Barack Obama himself asked the CIA to analyze success in arming insurgencies before making a decision over what to do in Syria. The CIA replied with a study showing that arming and financing insurgencies rarely works. Shortly thereafter, Obama launched a billion-dollar effort to arm and finance insurgents in Syria.Dr. Diprospan , says: June 14, 2019 at 4:06 pm
*Silently screams in frustration*
And this is why I ended up ultimately disappointed with Obama. The man was utterly incapable of standing up to what passes for conventional wisdom inside the Beltway. "Hope and change," my butt. The hoped for change never did arrive in the end.
Say what you will about Trump, he surely doesn't give a flying fart about wisdom, conventional or otherwise. Instead of driving the car off a cliff, he just sets it on fire from the get go to save on gas.I liked the article.
A good reminder that if people did not heed the divine warning in Paradise,
but chose the disastrous advice of the serpent, then what can we expect
from modern politicians? Wrong, dangerous behavior seems to be inherent
in the human mentality, otherwise who would smelt metals, descend into mines,
discover America, study radiation?
Cult of the Irrelevant reminds me of the 80 and 20 statistical, empirical principle,
where out of 100 things, articles, words, recommendations, 20% are useful,
80% are useless. However for 20 useful percent to form, you need a statistical
pressure of 80 useless.
"Practice is the criterion of truth." Having eaten the forbidden apple, people were driven out of paradise, but instead they learned to distinguish between good and evil.
Without this property, it would be impossible to recognize "the effective treatments"significantly exaggerated by dishonest pharmacologists..
Dec 03, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com
MickGJ -> MysticFish , 8 Jun 2013 09:44MysticFish -> MickGJ , 8 Jun 2013 09:24How is that corporatism?
@MysticFish - If these are completely different things, why has the austerity-stricken tax-payer been co-opted into paying for events like Thatcher's funeralHow is that corporatism?
Bilderberg policing,Are they?
corporate funded think-tanks are having their non-mandated corporatist policies prioritized over government election pledges on policy?@MickGJ -
Neo-liberalism and fascist corporatism are completely different things.
If these are completely different things, why has the austerity-stricken tax-payer been co-opted into paying for events like Thatcher's funeral and Bilderberg policing, and why is it that corporate funded think-tanks are having their non-mandated corporatist policies prioritised over government election pledges on policy?
Aug 18, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org
Weapons Money Intended for Economic Development Being Secretly Diverted to Lobbying Alex Emmons Aug 18, 2017
The United Arab Emirates created a "slush fund" using money meant for domestic economic development projects and funneled it to a high-profile think tank in the United States, emails obtained by The Intercept show.
Last week, The Intercept reported that the UAE gave a $20 million grant to the Middle East Institute, flooding a well-regarded D.C. think tank with a monetary grant larger than its annual budget . According to an email from Richard Clarke, MEI's chairman of the board, the UAE got the money from offset investments -- development investments by international companies that are made as part of trade agreements.
The idea behind offset agreements is simple: When a country buys weapons from a firm overseas, it pumps a large amount of money out of its economy, instead of investing in its own defense industry or in other domestic projects. So to make large weapons deals more attractive, arms companies offer programs to "offset" that effect. As part of a weapons package, they often sign an agreement to invest in the country's economy, either in defense or civilian sectors.
Offsets provide a way to sell weapons at inflated prices, when companies offer juicier offset packages. Critics say the lack of transparency in how offset investments are carried out leaves a window open for a form of legalized corruption. The emails lift a veil on what has long been an obscure element of the arms trade.
According to an email from Clarke, the UAE accepted unpaid offset obligations as cash payments to a large financial firm called Tawazun Holding. Tawazun sent the $20 million to a UAE think tank called the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research . ECSSR then began sending that money to the Middle East Institute, a prestigious D.C. think tank that has a history of promoting arms sales to Gulf dictatorships. ...
So essentially, in a roundabout way, the UAE took money from international firms that was meant for economic development and funneled it to a supportive think tank in the United States.
Fair use excerpt. Full article here .
Oct 30, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Not only Backhouse (2005) , but also Adam Curtis(2011) , the British documentary film-maker also researched how Fisher created his global think-tank network, spreading the libertarian values of individual and economic – but never social and political – freedom, and also the freedom for capital owners from the state.
According to Curtis (2011) , the „ideologically motivated PR organisations" intended to achieve a technocratic, elitist system, which preserves actual power structures. As he notes, the successful businessmen created The Atlas Economic Research Foundation in 1981, which established 150 think-tanks around the globe. These institutions were set up based on the model of Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), a think tank founded in 1955 by Fisher, which is a good example how the marginalized group of neoliberal thinkers got into intellectual and political power.
Today, "more than 450 free-market organizations in over 90 countries" serve the "cause of liberty" through the network. The network of Fisher was largely directed by the members of Mont Pelerin Society (Djelic, 2014).
Enquiring Mind , October 29, 2017 at 10:48 amJeremy Grimm , October 29, 2017 at 3:50 pm
This think-tank network wasn't for creating new ideas, but for being a gatekeeper and disseminating the existing set of ideas, and the „philosophy of freedom".
Awareness of gatekeeper roles and their ramifications is one issue of grave concern to many citizens. There are variations of the role playing in different parts of society whether in the Ivory Tower, Think Tanks (self-designated with initial capitals), media or other areas. Recently, that role in media has come under scrutiny as seen during and after the US campaign and election. Who gets to control what appears as news , and will the NY Times editorial board cede any of that, for example?
The increasing impact of social media in dissemination of information and use of influencers represents a type of Barbarians at the Literal Gate. The boards and think tanks won't easily relinquish their positions, any more than the gatekeepers of prior eras would willingly do so.
This era is unsettling to the average person on the street, and particularly to those living on the street, because they have been told one thing with certainty and gravitas and then found out something else that was materially opposed. In the meantime, truth continues to seek an audience.
The assertion you selected from today's post seems clearly false to me. The think-tank organizations definitely create new ideas and often conflict with each other. Their topics and views also tend to dominate discussions and steal the oxygen from outside ideas.
They are schools of agnotology flooding discussion of every policy with their "answers" and contributing to the Marketplace of ideas.
Jul 23, 2018 | www.unz.com
says: July 22, 2018 at 8:25 pm GMT 100 Words @Cagey Beast Thank you, this is an excellent summary of the situation right now. It's worth noting too just how disconnected the establishment is from the wider public. They have enormous financial resources and access to the entire legacy media but seem to have almost no real base of support. Remember how the Never Trumpers had no one more prominent and well-known than Evan McMullan (!!) to run as their candidate? Note too the tiny number of views the YouTube videos of the Aspen Institute get: https://www.youtube.com/user/AspenInstitute/videos .
On its own, these things aren't conclusive proof but together they add up. The Aspen Institute crowd is an almost entirely self-contained subculture. They seem to have no base of support, beyond their stacks of money, job titles and the power that come with the various offices they hold. That's probably why they can never stop calling their opponents "populists" or why Bill Kristol keeps tweeting about encountering scrappy shoeshine boys who shout "give Trump hell, Mr Kristol!" as he goes about his urban peregrinations. Aspen Institute does make attempts at outreach, but they invariably cock it up by eliciting, recruiting, or suborning every single person they bring in. The shitheads even tried to do it to me. You would think they'd have a dossier saying I hate those cobags.
Their fundamental problem is, Aspen Institute is CIA. Their first and only instinct is to use people like toilet paper. They don't want popular support. They want agents in complete control.
Cagey Beast , July 22, 2018 at 10:58 pm GMT@MK-DELTABURKETG , July 23, 2018 at 4:56 am GMT
Aspen Institute is CIA.
Yes, the Aspen Institute is the CIA and the CIA is the Aspen Institute. Or, to be more precise, the CIA is the armed wing of Washington's permanently governing technocratic party, in the same way the KGB was the armed wing of the Soviet Communist Party.
Poor Julian Assange is likely going to be in their hands not too long from now. The citizen of one Five Eyes country will be arrested by another and then sent off to the imperial metropole, to be kicked around like a political football. The rest of us Anglosphericals are expected to cheer or remain silent. Either is acceptable.I hear you, and I sympathize, but this is not mass dementia.
The oligarchy that runs the United States was worried that Donald Trump might actually (!!) take some consideration for the national interest of the people of the United States of America. That will never do.
This is not irrational. The screaming, the hysteria, this is the utterly rational, breathtakingly brutal reaction of a ruling elite that has the moral sense of a reptile. And it's working. All of Trump's campaign promises to stop wasting trillions on pointless winless foreign wars of choice, and instead spend that on our own country? Gone. And so much else besides.
It's dangerous to underestimate an enemy. The useful idiot footsoldiers, screaming in mindless herd instinct, are one thing. The people behind them – the Koch brothers, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, others – there is nothing at all mindless or demented about them.
May 27, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
... ... ...
By Rob Johnson, Institute for New Economic Thinking President,
Senior Fellow and Director, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and Thomas Ferguson, Director of Research, Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website
...The problem this essay addresses can be framed in terms of two quotations from Alexis de Tocqueville. The first comes from his famous speech in the French Chamber of Deputies just prior to the outbreak of the Revolution of 1848: "We are sleeping on a volcano .do you not see that the earth is beginning to tremble. The wind of revolt rises; the tempest is on the horizon." The second is from Democracy in America : "When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness."
In 2018, the darkness is all too palpable: A chain of economic reverses that no prominent economists, central bankers, or policymakers anticipated has combined with other shocks from technology, wars, and migrations to produce the political equivalent of the perfect storm. The world financial meltdown of 2008 set the cyclone spinning. As citizens watched helplessly while their livelihoods, savings, and hopes shriveled, states and central banks stepped in to rescue the big financial institutions most responsible for the disaster. But recovery for average citizens arrived only slowly and in some places barely at all, despite a wide variety of policy experiments, especially from central banks.
The cycle of austerity and policy failure has now reached a critical point. Dramatic changes in public opinion and voting behavior are battering long entrenched political parties in many countries. In many of the world's richest countries, more and more citizens are losing faith in the very ideas of science, expertise, and dispassionate judgment -- even in medicine, as witness the battles over vaccines in Italy, the US, and elsewhere. The failure of widely heralded predictions of immediate economic disaster when the UK voted to leave the European Union and Donald Trump became President of the United States has only fanned the skepticism.
Placing entire responsibility for this set of plagues on bad economic theory or deficient policy evaluation does not make sense. Power politics, contending interests, ideologies, and other influences all shaped events. But from the earliest days of the financial collapse, reflective economists and policymakers nourished some of the same suspicions as the general public. Like the Queen of England, they asked plaintively, "Why did no one see it coming?"
Answers were not long in arriving. Critics, including more than a few Nobel laureates in economics, pointed to a series of propositions and attitudes that had crystallized in economic theory in the years before the crisis hit.  Economists had closed ranks as though in a phalanx, but the crisis showed how fragile these tenets were. They included:A resolute unwillingness to recognize that fundamental uncertainty shadows economic life in the real world. Neglect of the roles played by money, credit, and financial systems in actual economies and the inherent potential for instability they create. A fixation on economic models emphasizing full or nearly complete information and tendencies for economies either to be always in equilibrium or heading there, not just in the present but far into the indefinite future. A focus on supply as the key to economic growth and, increasingly after 1980, denials that economies could even in theory suffer from a deficiency of aggregate demand. Supreme confidence in the price system as the critical ordering device in economies and the conviction that getting governments and artificial barriers to their working out of the way was the royal road to economic success both domestically and internationally.
Initially, debates over this interlocking system of beliefs mostly sparked arguments about the usefulness of particular tools and analytical simplifications that embodied the conventional wisdom: Dynamic stochastic general equilibrium models; notions of a "representative agent" in macroeconomics and the long run neutrality of money; icy silence about interactions between monetary rates of interest and ruling rates of profit, or the failure of labor markets to clear.
Increasingly, however, skeptics wondered if the real problems with economics did not run deeper than that. They began to ask if something was not radically wrong with the structure of the discipline itself that conduced to the maintenance of a narrow belief system by imposing orthodoxies and throwing up barriers to better arguments and dissenting evidence.
The empirical evidence now seems conclusive: Yes.
"Top 5" Dominance for Promotion and Tenure
Studies by James Heckman demonstrate the critical gatekeeping role of five so-called "top journals" in recruitment and promotions within economics as a field.  Four of the journals -- the American Economic Review , the Journal of Political Economy , the Quarterly Journal of Economics , and the Review of Economic Studies -- are Anglo-American centered and published in the US or the UK as is the fifth, Econometrica , though it is sponsored by the Econometric Society, which has long involved scholars from Scandinavia and other countries.
Heckman's research shows that the number of Top 5 (T5) articles published by candidates plays a crucial role in the evaluation of candidates for promotion and tenure. This is true not only in leading departments but more generally in the field, though the influence of the count weakens in lower ranked institutions.
The Great Disjunction
Heckman compares citations in Top 5 journals with articles frequently cited by leading specialists in various fields and with publication histories of Nobel laureates and winners of the Clark Medal. He is crystal clear that many important articles appear in non-T5 journals -- a finding supported by other studies.  This evidence, he argues, highlights a "fundamental contradiction" within the whole field: "Specialists who themselves publish primarily in field journals defer to generalist journals to screen quality of their colleagues in specialty fields."
Citations as Pernicious Measures of Quality in Economics
Heckman draws attention to the increase in the number of economists over time and the relative stability of the T5. He argues that his findings imply that the discipline's "reluctance to distribute gatekeeping responsibility to high quality non-T5 Journals is inefficient in the face of increasing growth of numbers of people in the profession and the stagnant number of T5 publications."
Other scholars who have scrutinized what citations actually measure underscore this conclusion. Like Heckman, they know that citation indices originated from efforts by libraries to decide what journals to buy. They agree that transforming " journal impact factors" into measures of the quality of individual articles is a grotesque mistake, if only because of quality variation within journals and overlaps in average quality among them. Counts of journal articles also typically miss or undercount books and monographs, with likely serious effects on both individual promotion cases and overall publication trends in the discipline. As Heckman observes, the notion that books are not important vehicles for communication in economics is seriously mistaken.
Analytical efforts to explain who gets cited and why are especially thought provoking. All serious studies converge on the conclusion that raw counts can hardly be taken at face value.  They distort because they are hopelessly affected by the size of fields (articles in bigger fields get more citations) and bounced around by self-citations, varying numbers of co-authors, "halo effects" leading to over-citation of well-known scholars, and simple failures to distinguish between approving and critical references, etc. One inventory of such problems, not surprisingly by accounting professors, tabulates more than thirty such flaws. 
But cleaning up raw counts only scratches the surface. Heckman's study raised pointed questions about editorial control at top journals and related cronyism issues. Editorial control of many journals turns over only very slowly and those sponsored by major university departments accept disproportionately more papers from their own graduates.  Interlocking boards are also fairly common, especially among leading journals.  Carlo D'Ippoliti's study of empirical citation patterns in Italy also indicates that social factors within academia figure importantly: economists are prone to cite other economists who are their colleagues in the same institutions, independently of the contents of their work, but they are even more likely to cite economists closer to their ideological and political positions.  Other research confirms that Italy is not exceptional and that, for example, the same pattern shows up in the debates over macroeconomics in the US and the UK after 1975. 
Other work by Jakob Kapeller, et al., and D'Ippoliti documents how counting citations triggers a broad set of pathologies that produces major distortions.  Investing counts with such weighty significance, for example, affects how both authors and journal editors behave. Something uncomfortably close to the blockbuster syndrome characteristic of Hollywood movies takes root: Rather than writing one major article that would be harder to assimilate, individual authors have strong incentives to slice and dice along fashionable lines. They mostly strive to produce creative variations on familiar themes. Risk-averse gatekeepers know they can safely wave these products through, while the authors run up their counts. Journal editors have equally powerful incentives: They can drive up their impact factors by snapping up guaranteed blockbusters produced by brand names and articles that embellish conventional themes. Kapeller, et al. suggest that this and several other negative feedback loops they discuss lead to a form of crowding out, which has particularly pernicious effects on potential major contributions since those are placed at a disadvantage by comparison with articles employing safer, more familiar tropes.  The result is a strong impetus to conformism, producing a marked convergence of views and methods.
These papers, and George Akerlof in several presentations, also show that counting schemes acutely disadvantage out-of-favor fields, heterodox scholars, and anyone interested in issues and questions that the dominant Anglo-Saxon journals are not.  This holds true even though, as Kapeller et al. observe, articles that reference some contrary viewpoints actually attract more attention, conditioning on appearance in the same journal -- an indication that policing the field, not simply quality control, is an important consideration in editorial judgment. One consequence of this narrowing is its weirdly skewed international impact. Reliance on the current citations system originated in the US and UK, but has now spread to the rest of Europe and even parts of Asia, including China. But T5 journals concentrate on articles that deal with problems that economists in advanced Anglo-Saxon lands perceive to be important; studies of smaller countries or those at different stages of development face higher publication hurdles. The result is a special case of the colonial mind in action: economics departments outside the US and UK that rely on "international" standards advantage scholars who focus their work on issues relevant to other countries rather than their own.
Ed Walker , , May 26, 2018 at 6:20 amThe Rev Kev , May 26, 2018 at 6:42 am
I'm just stunned that this paper doesn't mention the seminal work on the problem, Marion Fourcade's paper The Superiority of Economists. https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/jep.29.1.89
Oh wait, Fourcade and her colleagues are sociologists, not economists, so no reason to consider their research and thinking. Also, and not for nothing, she and they are French, and read Pierre Bourdieu who has done a lot of work on the sociology of academics, focused on France but widely applicable.
And here's something interesting; there is no mention of the funding of economics at universities and colleges. So, no mention of the hundreds of millions the filthy rich have poured into the field. Of course, they heatedly deny that matters. A recent tweet from a Geroge Mason/Mercatus prof was livid at the very suggestion that Koch money influenced hiring decisions.
And that's before we get into the gendered nature of economics, or it's political usage by ideologically-driven politicians looking for "experts" to support their preconceptions.
There is a lot more and someone needs to say it out loud in clear, uncoded language.Steve Ruis , May 26, 2018 at 9:27 am
Just a thought line here. I have heard and read conservatives say that "Politics is downstream from culture" and I get what they are saying. You change the culture and that predetermines the politics that you get. In reading this article, the thought struck me that perhaps the reason that economics as a profession has been corrupted so badly is that maybe conservatives consider government to be downstream of economics. Thus you control what economics theories are permitted to be discussed and that gives them the governments that they want.Andrew Watts , May 26, 2018 at 9:40 am
I support your contention. There is in the US a concerted effort to praise capitalism as some sort of god-given system and to defame all other systems. Venezuela's current problems are due to socialism, not bad management, of course. Of course, since the wealthy are doing oh so well under the status quo, they are bound to favor it, but they are not just favoring it, they are nailing it down onto our culture.Norb , May 26, 2018 at 9:46 am
There is in the US a concerted effort to praise capitalism as some sort of god-given system and to defame all other systems.
The Marxist economist Richard Wolff made the claim that economists are simply cheerleaders for capitalism in an interview on Chapo Trap House, He elaborated and substantiated this claim by saying that business schools had to be founded because economics departments were useless as a method of educating a cohort of business specialists.animalogic , May 27, 2018 at 12:59 am
Very succinct and thoughtful indeed. Remember Ronald Reagan's now infamous, "Government is the Problem" mantra. The real cultural warriors were the neoliberal terrorists who are hell bent on commodifying the entire planet for their own exploitation- masked in the language of "freedom" and "democracy".
This line of thought is also important in that your framing cuts to the core of the cognitive problem attempting to deal with economics, namely, it is a religion. I would define a religion as a system of faith and worship that is driven by a particular interest. All the wordy-ness and arm waiving is just an attempt to obfuscate this simple truth. Persecution of the unfaithful is also a dead giveaway.
This whole notion that the current reigning economics profession is ready, or attempting to "see the light" is somewhat amusing, or in another sense should be insulting considering the social damage they have caused, and are continuing to inflict on the broader citizenry. Burning at the stake is more appropriate, and maybe these slight rumblings of contrition are a sign that some might be getting worried that their "economic" program has gone too far.
When what goes on in the human mind looses connection to events in the real world, changes must be made in order to remain sane. The current orthodoxy is also ultimately doomed to failure in that what is the point of creating and maintaining a deluded and demoralized citizenry? That is a recipe for internal stagnation and external conquest. It would only be a successful strategy if the elite are able to move on after the broader society falters and fails. That thought is almost too cynical to contemplate. But that might explain why the .001% remains the .001%. The current economic priests are starting to feel the pressure because their flocks are beginning to realize that their everyday experience no longer matches the sermons they receive.
Time for a new sermon.mle detroit , May 26, 2018 at 9:52 am
Time to throw out the "priests" and their vicious "gods"John Wright , May 26, 2018 at 9:22 am
Following Rev Kev's point and Ed Walker's third paragraph, have there been any studies of the sources of gifts, underwriting, and other purchases of academic work at the most "influential" economics and business economics departments?Michael C. , May 26, 2018 at 9:41 am
In the academic side of the economics profession, it would seem to be prudent to "go with the flow."
Even the economists who recognized problems in 2008, such as Steve Keen and Dean Baker, are not celebrated.
In our society, it seems more likely that some powerful group or individual wants to do something and then proceeds to find an economist to support that action, via an editorial or media appearance, perhaps it is "free" trade, more immigration, easy money, tight money, quantitative easing, outsourcing, insourcing, charter schools, or austerity.
I suspect there are economists who attempt to accurately anticipate economic events.
But they work for hedge funds and private wealth management firms.
And what is the incentive for a prominent public economist to warn of economic problems that may have been caused by government and well-connected interests?
If someone, such as Alan Greenspan, gave early notice of sub-prime/mortgage backed security issues how would he have been better off?
It suggests a central banker career strategy that, if one observes a large economic problem brewing, retire and publish your book before the SHTF.
If the career central banker actually warned/took actions to circumvent a financial bubble and the bubble popped anyway, they could be tagged as a goat for causing the crisis.
Maybe the economics profession is functioning as one would expect?Norb , May 26, 2018 at 10:15 am
One has to wonder, if the elite economists who have defined the parochial and narrow scope of what capitalism is, how it works, and who wins and loses in the system, and maybe in particular it's late 20th Century form, neroliberalism, had maybe expanded their self-serving views to include a Marxian critique and analysis of they might not had been so stupid?
That's not to say the Marx had all the answers, but is only to say that if you presuppose the outcome you want and buttress it with only the information that supports (no matter how poorly) those outcomes, you end up with crisis and the contradictions within capitalism resulting in the failures described above.
Universities and Econ departments don't allow the wide critical view needed into their schools, and no matter what you think of Marx and his ideas, they should at least be the starting point in the discussion when approaching economic policy. The right wing shift in the governments and the people's of the world is not some unexpected outcome but is directly related to a system that builds in economic disparity, short-term planning (due to emphasis on next quarters profits and stock price), and an emphasis on winner take all rather than human needs.
It's not "the economy, stupid." It"s the stupid system.Ed Walker , May 26, 2018 at 5:53 pm
The problem with the American system is that its founding principles, that all men are created equal, and are endowed with certain, God given, unalienable rights, runs in contradiction to the chosen economic models of building society. Slavery and Capitalism are antithetical to these sentiments. Capitalism might be workable if restrained and heavily regulated, but why bother with that because human corruption will always find a way to undermine such a system; it is inherently weak and guarantees suffering will be born by the masses- Brexit will provide the perfect example as predicted by Yves.
A heavily regulated capitalism is socialism by another name.
The same, self-serving arguments are also made about war. The thought that humans could live in peace is treated as some unrealistic and insane idea. Instead of selecting from the human population for cooporation and peace-loving sensibilities, the minority sociopathic murders are allowed to run wild.
Real human "progress" will be made when the peace faction gains supremacy. But that is impossible as long as the economic system upon which all human subsistence depends remains entrenched in competition and striving to hoard against fears of scarcity.
FDR had it right, although imperfect, society was moving in the right direction. We live in a world of abundance that is being squandered. The only way to avoid ultimate destruction is to embrace this abundance as stewards and conservators instead of fearful exploiters.
Conserve the world by embracing sustainable living. Now that is a powerful political message. So powerful, it will be met with the full force of the sociopathic murders currently in charge of human societies.
What else to say, but prepare yourself.Chris , May 26, 2018 at 12:19 pm
The equality stuff is in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. The latter is specifically devoted to protecting the interests of property holders, specifically including slavers. This is not surprising. The Founders were heavily influenced by John Locke. Locke was a slaver himself https://www.jstor.org/stable/2709512?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents . And remember that Lockean ideas are based on protecting private property from the random predation of absolute monarchs.animalogic , May 27, 2018 at 1:20 am
OMG, Michael C.
That's an amazing slip of the keys. It explains a ton too. I love that it combines the term which the people discussed in this article usually deride with the name of the last Roman emperor who is renowned for extravagance and tyranny.
Brilliant!J Sterling , May 27, 2018 at 6:41 am
I agree with your comment whole heartedly.
But:"the name of the last Roman emperor who is renowned for extravagance and tyranny."(& please forgive my quibble) Nero was certainly not the last emperor to have had such characteristics.
(Elagabalus springs to mind)R. BAIRD , May 26, 2018 at 9:58 am
It's been said that you can tell how dominated economics is by a particular minority of society, by the economists' word for phenomena where workers are paid more for their labor being "disease". As in Baumol's Disease for example.Jesper , May 26, 2018 at 10:12 am
Both sides of the political divide often go awry simply because they refuse to acknowledge the role of human nature. We mere mortals know this as we are the full recipients of the "free market," the good, the bad, and the extremely ugly. The likes of Alan Greenspan in the rarified air strata were shocked, shocked, shocked! I bring you a small excerpt from Mr. Greenspan's testimony before the Government Oversight Committee of the House of Representatives. Still clueless, he does acknowledge a flaw:
Pressed by Waxman, Greenspan conceded a more serious flaw in his own philosophy that unfettered free markets sit at the root of a superior economy.
"I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms," Greenspan said.
Waxman pushed the former Fed chief, who left office in 2006, to clarify his explanation.
"In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working," Waxman said.
"Absolutely, precisely," Greenspan replied. "You know, that's precisely the reason I was shocked, because I have been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well."Ted , May 26, 2018 at 11:25 am
In many of the world's richest countries, more and more citizens are losing faith in the very ideas of science, expertise, and dispassionate judgment – even in medicine, as witness the battles over vaccines in Italy, the US, and elsewhere.
Might be believed by some, others might believe that more and more citizens are sceptical about the practioners ability to provide expertise and dispassionate judgment. From my own perspective I do believe in science, expertise and dispassionate judgment but I don't believe that many professional economists have much expertise (outside of knowledge of basic statistics and statistics software) or that they practice dispassionate judgment.
As far as being sceptical of medicine then I'll post this link again:
Pharmaceutical companies are not in business to heal people, they are in business -> They do whatever they legally can to make money and they even put pressure on the legislative to get more opportunities to legally make more money.
The article contains this link to the Lancet relating to "the reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research":
The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.Ed , May 26, 2018 at 10:16 am
The problem is widespread, and now well recognized. Here, for example, from psychology (also a juggernaut of social science influence)
If we looked and any other (social) scientific discipline, we'd get the same result.
The articles from medium and The Lancet you link highlight the problems well enough, the system is corrupt from top to bottom. Another examples of where misguided emphasis on juicing "metrics" (for personal gain) rather than taking one's time to develop expertise and do things correctly is literally killing people, or simply ruining lives (as if that is some consolation).Jim Haygood , May 26, 2018 at 10:26 am
Were really corrupt institutions and professions ever supposed to make good decisions?Summer , May 26, 2018 at 11:40 am
Economies are inherently cyclical. Keynesianism, in its original incarnation, envisaged surpluses during economic expansions to offset the fiscal deficits provoked by recessions. But surpluses are a distant memory -- now it's pedal to the metal all the time, just to keep a becalmed, debt-choked economy treading water.
Credit is also procyclical. It was severely rationed during and after the 2008 meltdown. Now covenant-lite bonds prevail for corporate financing, while individuals can get 3 percent down FHA loans to buy houses at prices that exceed the 2006 peak, with 33 times leverage. Prudent!
What role can academics play in this endless sisyphean tragedy? None, probably. Warning of recession invites career risk for economists, so most of them just won't do it. Like the Hazmat team, economists show up after the train wreck to help with the cleanup. Federal Reserve economists are engineering that crack-up right now, with their fruitcake bond dumping campaign.
By 2020, they'll be tanned, rested and ready for their next exciting outing. :-)JEHR , May 26, 2018 at 11:50 am
As others have stated, there are economists out there who have already seen through the current dogmas.
Michael Hudson is one and another that comes to mind is Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef. A transcript of an interview with him from 2010:
An excerpt to perk interest:
"I worked for about ten years of my life in areas of extreme poverty in the Sierras, in the jungle, in urban areas in different parts of Latin America. And at the beginning of that period, I was one day in an Indian village in the Sierra in Peru. It was an ugly day. It had been raining all the time. And I was standing in the slum. And across me, another guy also standing in the mud -- not in the slum, in the mud. And, well, we looked at each other, and this was a short guy, thin, hungry, jobless, five kids, a wife and a grandmother. And I was the fine economist from Berkeley, teaching in Berkeley, having taught in Berkeley and so on. And we were looking at each other, and then suddenly I realized that I had nothing coherent to say to that man in those circumstances, that my whole language as an economist, you know, was absolutely useless. Should I tell him that he should be happy because the GDP had grown five percent or something? Everything was absurd.
So I discovered that I had no language in that environment and that we had to invent a new language. And that's the origin of the metaphor of barefoot economics, which concretely means that is the economics that an economist who dares to step into the mud must practice. The point is, you know, that economists study and analyze poverty in their nice offices, have all the statistics, make all the models, and are convinced that they know everything that you can know about poverty. But they don't understand poverty. And that's the big problem. And that's the big problem. And that's why poverty is still there. And that changed my life as an economist completely. I invented a language that is coherent with those situations and conditions."
It's a good interview of someone developing an alternate view.
(There are critiques and studies of wealth that I think we need more of as well, only poverty is thought of as pathological – a subject which he tackles.)Summer , May 26, 2018 at 12:25 pm
And just maybe, human goodness and human evil have a cyclical nature too and we are just in the bad part of the cycle right now. However, it may be true also that the time period of 1950 to 1970 was an anomaly that may not recur, and that the true nature of human beings is to lie, to cheat, to steal, to commit fraud and practice multifarious corruptions and violence. When you look at the widest version of history, human nature is not so benign.Summer , May 26, 2018 at 12:10 pm
In a nutshell, the American consumer was highly important from 1950 to 1970 until the rest of the world recovered more from 2 world wars.Scott1 , May 26, 2018 at 1:57 pm
1950 to 1970 the rest of the industrial world was decimated after 2 world wars.
And more countries wanted independence from colonialism (less loot spread around, however thinly, back home – though not totally disappeared).JBird , May 26, 2018 at 3:29 pm
Psychology turns into sociology. Either the system is making everyone prosperous and happy or it is making everyone desperate.
Desperation is the American way. The comfort of misery seen as pathological in the individual is a more general pathology. Too much bile in the system.
"The Sticky Floor." is the phrase my cousin invented. She is a leader in Women's Studies. It may well apply more correctly that "The Glass Ceiling". Overall the turn in the article to the dearth of women economists threw me.
As science enables engineering, economics enables financial engineering. The predominant financial engineer of our times is Meyer Lansky. Organized business, the "real" economy of General Motors and Dow & Dupont & General Dynamics & Raytheon, ITT, Apple, Google, Microsoft all now have adopted Meyer Lansky Financial Engineering.
It was made legal as economic theory and practice under Clinton Unit 1's reign.
The preeminent financial engineer is David Cay Johnston. He called Dean Baker a "real" economist as opposed to Michael Hudson. I prefer Hudson to Dean myself. Nobody knows everything. This is why all you really have to know is the goal. "You cannot go wrong if your goals are correct." is what Einstein said.
The main reason for misery is poverty, which is not having enough to operate the household without debt peonage.
The United States and the EU as run by Central Banks have it so only the selected have infinite access to currency. The States don't have enough money so the System prefers they deny their people things like education and healthcare, and sell bonds.
It is okay for the Federal Government to tax or not tax but the States must tax to fill their treasuries.
Alan Greenspan's philosophy came from Ayn Rand whose world view encouraged the exclusive access and economic security to have and do whatever they, the rich, people like Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, envisioned as ideal for them, and them only. (They live in airport land with a pond.)
It came from Russian Dystopian Objectivism and produces Dystopia.
The American Philosophy, that which made America loved is American Eclectic Pragmatism.
The wrong goal is to make only those in Finance rich. The right goal is to make everyone as much a jet setter as the jet setters.
Until the goal of Economists is blatantly aimed at relative equality of life, the discipline is simply on the wrong track and is never going to be worth doing.
Thanks.Sound of the Suburbs , May 26, 2018 at 4:09 pm
Approved economics has nothing to do with actually understanding or solving anything except be a useful smokescreen for wealthy special interests. I have gotten a more accurate and functional understanding of overall economics from classes, and books in anthropology, political science, and history than in any classes labeled as "economics."
That is really sad. It is also very deliberate. Those who say modern economic studies have been stripped of anything but neoliberal/libertarian economic ideas are right. Even then, it seems that it has been either further simplified, or abstracted, to further channel any thoughts away from real life.
Let's put it this way. Philosophy can be used to actual ask and study questions or it can be used to debate how many angels can fit on the head of a pin. Guess what what modern mainstream economics does?Sound of the Suburbs , May 26, 2018 at 4:24 pm
There are inherent flaws in neoclassical economics that have already been discovered.
The 1920s roared with debt based consumption and speculation until it all tipped over into the debt deflation of the Great Depression. No one realised the problems that were building up in the economy as they used an economics that doesn't look at private debt, neoclassical economics.
The two elements of neoclassical economics that come together to cause financial crises.
1) It doesn't consider debt
2) It holds a set of beliefs about markets where they represent the rational decisions of market participants; they reach stable equilibriums and the valuations represent real wealth.
Everyone marvels at the wealth creation of rising asset prices, no one looks at the debt that is driving it.
The "black swan" was obvious all along and it was pretty much the same as 1929.
1929 – Inflating US stock prices with debt (margin lending)
2008 – Inflating US real estate prices with debt (mortgage lending)
"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." Irving Fisher 1929.
An earlier neoclassical economist believed in price discovery, stable equilibriums and the rational decisions of market participants, and what the neoclassical economist believes about the markets means they can't even imagine there could be a bubble.
The amount of real wealth stored in the markets becomes apparent once the bubble has burst.
The debt overhang (ref. graph above) is dragging the US economy down and is the cause of Janet Yellen's inflation mystery, but they don't know because they don't consider debt. It's called a balance sheet recession.
The problems that led to 2008 come from private debt in the economy and the problems now come from the overhang of private debt in the economy, but they are using an economics that doesn't consider private debt.
They don't stand a chance.JBird , May 26, 2018 at 10:58 pm
"The problem this essay addresses can be framed in terms of two quotations from Alexis de Tocqueville. The first comes from his famous speech in the French Chamber of Deputies just prior to the outbreak of the Revolution of 1848: "We are sleeping on a volcano .do you not see that the earth is beginning to tremble. The wind of revolt rises; the tempest is on the horizon." The second is from Democracy in America: "When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness."
How about this quote ..
"These fools in Wall Street think they can go on forever! They can't!" President Theodore Roosevelt 1909.
The US has just forgotten its own history; this is what it was like at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Capitalism was running wild, but the difference was there used to be a critical press.
Catch up on US history.
"PR! A Social History of Spin" Stuart Ewen
Finding out what the private sector uses PR for also helps you understand their motivations, it's worth reading.Sound of the Suburbs , May 27, 2018 at 5:56 am
Our Esteemed Elites are mostly college educated which hopefully includes American history. But maybe it's become like modern college economics. Stripped of inconvenient information.
I agree that beyond the normal American nation's ultra short memory, there is a regular effort by some to eliminate any inconvenience ones. If history is a career or even a hobby you will likely know much about America history bad (and good too!) that goes zooop into the memory hole. It becomes a boring national hagiography. Sanitized. But that shouldn't be.
But STEM courses are so much more important than fluff like history.ObjectiveFunction , May 27, 2018 at 1:46 am
In history we study what the elites are up to, we don't pay much attention to what is going on with general population.
This does.ObjectiveFunction , May 27, 2018 at 2:07 am
Fantastic piece, Yves.
As with a few other commenters here, the essay puts me in mind of historiography, to wit E.H. Carr whose 'before studying history, study the historians' became the fighting slogan for the radical history movement of the 1960s:
"The facts are really not at all like fish on the fishmonger's slab. They are like fish swimming about in a vast and sometimes inaccessible ocean; and what [facts] the historian catches will depend, partly on chance, but mainly on what part of the ocean he chooses to fish in and what tackle he chooses to use."Sound of the Suburbs , May 27, 2018 at 5:59 am
"Economists had closed ranks as though in a phalanx, but the crisis showed how fragile these tenets were. They included:
1. A resolute unwillingness to recognize that fundamental uncertainty shadows economic life in the real world."
. And for this one, do I even need to requote Upton Sinclair?!
Economists and central bankers are our modern day priest-astrologers. We *need* them to know! to appease Bel-Marduk and Istar, to ensure a fruitful harvest, the birth of worthy sons
.and also, for a small commission, to manage our tax collections/ debts/ alehouses/ brothels [hat tip to Prof Hudson].Sound of the Suburbs , May 27, 2018 at 6:01 am
This is about the UK, but applies equally to the US as we are all doing the same neoliberal things.
Why isn't the economy growing?
We shouldn't get side tracked with productivity as productivity is GDP per hour worked and we need to grow GDP.
What is GDP?
The amount of money spent into the economy by consumers, businesses and the Government plus the income we receive from the trade balance with the rest of the world.
Now we know what GDP is we can immediately see why austerity is contractionary. The cut in Government spending comes straight off GDP (someone tell Macron).
The aim is to increase the amount of goods and services within the economy at the same rate as the demand for those goods and services, whilst increasing the money supply to allow those extra goods and services to be purchased.
Milton Freidman understood the money supply had to rise gradually to grow the economy with his "Monetarism". He thought that central bank reserves controlled the money supply and this is why it didn't work.
The economists focus on supply (neoclassical economics) or demand (Keynesian economics) until the balance of supply and demand gets out of step. The economy stagnates due to either insufficient supply (1970s stagflation) or insufficient demand (today's ultra low inflation).
Money needs to enter the economy to increase the supply of goods and services, while at the same time; the increased money supply enables the demand for those goods and services.
Banks and governments create money and this is now well understood outside the mainstream.
The banks have been creating money to lend into real estate and inflate financial asset prices. This is not what you want; they should be creating money to increase the supply of goods and services by lending into business and industry. Their lending hasn't been increasing GDP.
It all started going wrong when with financial liberalisation and a 1979 policy decision. The UK eliminated corset controls on banking in 1979 and the banks invaded the mortgage market. This is the start of the real estate frenzy.
You can let bankers do what they want, but they have no idea how to grow the economy with bank credit.
Supply had outstripped demand by the 1920s in the US and they used bank credit to maintain demand, but this can never work in the longer term as this money needs to be paid back. Government created money has to fill the gap as it doesn't need to be paid back.
Governments can create money, jobs and wages in the public sector, building the infrastructure for the economy and looking after the health and education of the population to provide the economic framework necessary for the private sector who can't make a profit doing these things.
The magic number is GDP, we need to focus on what increasing that number means.
Our main problem is an ideological Left who think the answer always lies on the demand side and an ideological Right who always think the answer lies on the supply side.
The Left think Government is the answer and the Right think the private sector is the answer.
You need both, due to the increased productivity of the private sector that cannot create the necessary demand for those goods and services through private sector wages alone.Sound of the Suburbs , May 27, 2018 at 9:21 am
Understanding money is critical and this is something central bankers monitor, but they don't appear to know what it means
The flow of funds within the economy.
This helps us understand why Government surpluses precede finical crises and why balanced budgets and Government surpluses push the private sector into debt
Richard Koo shows the graph central bankers use, the flow of funds within the economy, which sums to zero (32-34 mins.).
Government assets + corporate assets + household assets + transfers from/to the rest of the world = zero
They can't all be positive.
The US runs a large trade deficit and this money needs to come from somewhere.
It is the Government that should run the big deficit to fund the other three and if you clamp down on government spending your economy can't grow unless it starts running on bank debt. The corporate sector and households have to get into debt to balance this zero sum equation.
A Government surplus requires an indebted private sector unless you are Germany and run a trade surplus.
This is the US (46.30 mins.)
Clinton was proud of the Government surplus but he didn't realise that this meant the private sector had to go into debt. The last Government surplus occurred in 1927 – 1930, it precedes crises.
Richard Koo's video shows the Japanese Government ran a surplus just before the Japanese economy blew up.impermanence , May 27, 2018 at 12:44 pm
Neoclassical economics doesn't focus on GDP because it predates it. It was put together before they knew how to measure economic activity.
It lets the wealthy accumulate all the money until the economy falls over though a lack of demand.
Mariner Eccles, FED chair 1934 – 48, passes comment the last time they used neoclassical economics in the US in the 1920s.
"a giant suction pump had by 1929 to 1930 drawn into a few hands an increasing proportion of currently produced wealth. This served then as capital accumulations. But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied themselves the kind of effective demand for their products which would justify reinvestment of the capital accumulation in new plants. In consequence as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When the credit ran out, the game stopped"
This time it's global.
2014 – "85 richest people as wealthy as poorest half of the world"
2016 – "Richest 62 people as wealthy as half of world's population"
2017 – World's eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%
Lying, cheating, and stealing is what we human beings seem to do best, so when the pot becomes big enough, the elite [those willing to do whatever it takes] do what the elite have done, lie, cheat and steal with reckless abandon.
Those who choose to live a noble life must always be grounded by the notion that the reward for doing such is in achieving good night's sleep, and little more. You truly can not have your cake and eat it too, not then, not now, not ever
Mar 12, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org
In Christopher Nolan's captivating and visually dazzling film Inception, a practitioner of psychic corporate espionage must plant and idea inside a CEO's head. The process is called inception, and it represents the frontier of corporate influence, in which mind spies no longer just "extract" ideas from the dreams of others, but seed useful ideas in a target's subconscious.
Inception is a well-crafted piece of futuristic sci-fi drama, but some of the ideas it imparts are already deeply embedded in the American subconscious.
The notion of inception, of hatching an idea in the mind of a man or woman without his or her knowledge, is the kernel of propaganda, a black art practiced in the States since the First World War. Today we live beneath an invisible cultural hegemony, a set of ideas implanted in the mass mind by the U.S. state and its corporate media over decades. Invisibility seems to happen when something is either obscure or ubiquitous. In a propaganda system, an overarching objective is to render the messaging invisible by universalizing it within the culture. Difference is known by contrast. If there are no contrasting views in your field of vision, it's easier to accept the ubiquitous explanation. The good news is that the ideology is well-known to some who have, for one lucky reason or another, found themselves outside the hegemonic field and are thus able to contrast the dominant worldview with alternative opinions. On the left, the ruling ideology might be described as neoliberalism, a particularly vicious form of imperial capitalism that, as would be expected, is camouflaged in the lineaments of humanitarian aid and succor.
In a short span of time in the 1970s, dozens of think tanks were established across the western world and billions of dollars were spent proselytizing the tenets of the Powell Memo in 1971, which galvanized a counter-revolution to the liberal upswing of the Sixties. The neoliberal economic model of deregulation, downsizing, and privatization was preached by the Reagan-Thatcher junta, liberalized by the Clinton regime, temporarily given a bad name by the unhinged Bush administration, and saved by telegenic restoration of the Obama years.
The ideology that underlay the model saturated academia, notably at the University of Chicago, and the mainstream media, principally at The New York Times. Since then it has trickled down to the general populace, to whom it now feels second nature.
Today think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, the Brookings Institute, Stratfor, Cato Institute, American Enterprise Institute, Council on Foreign Relations, Carnegie Endowment, the Open Society Foundation, and the Atlantic Council, among many others, funnel millions of dollars in donations into cementing neoliberal attitudes in the American mind.
The ideological assumptions, which serve to justify what you could call neocolonial tactics, are relatively clear: the rights of the individual to be free of overreach from monolithic institutions like the state. Activist governments are inherently inefficient and lead directly to totalitarianism. Markets must be free and individuals must be free to act in those markets. People must be free to choose, both politically and commercially, in the voting booth and at the cash register.
This conception of markets and individuals is most often formulated as "free-market democracy," a misleading conceit that conflates individual freedom with the economic freedom of capital to exploit labor. So when it comes to foreign relations, American and western aid would only be given on the condition that the borrowers accepted the tenets of an (highly manipulable) electoral system and vowed to establish the institutions and legal structures required to fully realize a western market economy.
These demands were supplemented with notions of the individual right to be free of oppression, some fine rhetoric about women and minorities, and somewhat more quietly, a judicial understanding that corporations were people, too. Together, an unshackled economy and an unfettered populace, newly equipped with individual rights, would produce the same flourishing and nourishing demos of mid-century America that had been the envy of humanity.
Mar 03, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org
March 2, 2018 Colonizing the Western Mind
by Jason Hirthlerby
Photo by Marco | CC BY 2.0
In Christopher Nolan's captivating and visually dazzling film Inception, a practitioner of psychic corporate espionage must plant and idea inside a CEO's head. The process is called inception, and it represents the frontier of corporate influence, in which mind spies no longer just "extract" ideas from the dreams of others, but seed useful ideas in a target's subconscious. Inception is a well-crafted piece of futuristic sci-fi drama, but some of the ideas it imparts are already deeply embedded in the American subconscious. The notion of inception, of hatching an idea in the mind of a man or woman without his or her knowledge, is the kernel of propaganda, a black art practiced in the States since the First World War. Today we live beneath an invisible cultural hegemony, a set of ideas implanted in the mass mind by the U.S. state and its corporate media over decades. Invisibility seems to happen when something is either obscure or ubiquitous. In a propaganda system, an overarching objective is to render the messaging invisible by universalizing it within the culture. Difference is known by contrast. If there are no contrasting views in your field of vision, it's easier to accept the ubiquitous explanation. The good news is that the ideology is well-known to some who have, for one lucky reason or another, found themselves outside the hegemonic field and are thus able to contrast the dominant worldview with alternative opinions. On the left, the ruling ideology might be described as neoliberalism, a particularly vicious form of imperial capitalism that, as would be expected, is camouflaged in the lineaments of humanitarian aid and succor.
In a short span of time in the 1970s, dozens of think tanks were established across the western world and billions of dollars were spent proselytizing the tenets of the Powell Memo in 1971, which galvanized a counter-revolution to the liberal upswing of the Sixties. The neoliberal economic model of deregulation, downsizing, and privatization was preached by the Reagan-Thatcher junta, liberalized by the Clinton regime, temporarily given a bad name by the unhinged Bush administration, and saved by telegenic restoration of the Obama years. The ideology that underlay the model saturated academia, notably at the University of Chicago, and the mainstream media, principally at The New York Times. Since then it has trickled down to the general populace, to whom it now feels second nature. Today think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, the Brookings Institute, Stratfor, Cato Institute, American Enterprise Institute, Council on Foreign Relations, Carnegie Endowment, the Open Society Foundation, and the Atlantic Council, among many others, funnel millions of dollars in donations into cementing neoliberal attitudes in the American mind.
The ideological assumptions, which serve to justify what you could call neocolonial tactics, are relatively clear: the rights of the individual to be free of overreach from monolithic institutions like the state. Activist governments are inherently inefficient and lead directly to totalitarianism. Markets must be free and individuals must be free to act in those markets. People must be free to choose, both politically and commercially, in the voting booth and at the cash register. This conception of markets and individuals is most often formulated as "free-market democracy," a misleading conceit that conflates individual freedom with the economic freedom of capital to exploit labor. So when it comes to foreign relations, American and western aid would only be given on the condition that the borrowers accepted the tenets of an (highly manipulable) electoral system and vowed to establish the institutions and legal structures required to fully realize a western market economy. These demands were supplemented with notions of the individual right to be free of oppression, some fine rhetoric about women and minorities, and somewhat more quietly, a judicial understanding that corporations were people, too. Together, an unshackled economy and an unfettered populace, newly equipped with individual rights, would produce the same flourishing and nourishing demos of mid-century America that had been the envy of humanity.
A False Promise
This ' Washington Consensus ' is the false promise promoted by the West. The reality is quite different. The crux of neoliberalism is to eliminate democratic government by downsizing, privatizing, and deregulating it. Proponents of neoliberalism recognize that the state is the last bulwark of protection for the common people against the predations of capital. Remove the state and they'll be left defenseless. Think about it. Deregulation eliminates the laws. Downsizing eliminates departments and their funding. Privatizing eliminates the very purpose of the state by having the private sector take over its traditional responsibilities. Ultimately, nation-states would dissolve except perhaps for armies and tax systems. A large, open-border global free market would be left, not subject to popular control but managed by a globally dispersed, transnational one percent. And the whole process of making this happen would be camouflaged beneath the altruistic stylings of a benign humanitarianism.
Globalists, as neoliberal capitalists are often called, also understood that democracy, defined by a smattering of individual rights and a voting booth, was the ideal vehicle to usher neoliberalism into the emerging world. Namely because democracy, as commonly practiced, makes no demands in the economic sphere. Socialism does. Communism does. These models directly address ownership of the means of production. Not so democratic capitalism. This permits the globalists to continue to own the means of production while proclaiming human rights triumphant in nations where interventions are staged. The enduring lie is that there is no democracy without economic democracy.
What matters to the one percent and the media conglomerates that disseminate their worldview is that the official definitions are accepted by the masses. The real effects need never be known. The neoliberal ideology (theory) thus conceals the neoliberal reality (practice). And for the masses to accept it, it must be mass produced. Then it becomes more or less invisible by virtue of its universality.
A Pretext for Pillage
Thanks to this artful disguise, the West can stage interventions in nations reluctant to adopt its platform of exploitation, knowing that on top of the depredations of an exploitative economic model, they will be asked to call it progress and celebrate it.
Washington, the metropolitan heart of neoliberal hegemony, has numerous methods of convincing reluctant developing nations to accept its neighborly advice. To be sure, the goal of modern colonialism is to find a pretext to intervene in a country, to restore by other means the extractive relations that first brought wealth to the colonial north. The most common pretexts for intervention depict the target nation in three distinct fashions.
First, as an economic basket case, a condition often engineered by the West in what is sometimes called, "creating facts on the ground." By sanctioning the target economy, Washington can "make the economy scream," to using war criminal Henry Kissinger's elegant phrasing. Iran, Syria, and Venezuela are relevant examples here. Second, the West funds violent opposition to the government, producing unrest, often violent riots of the kind witnessed in Dara, Kiev, and Caracas. The goal is either to capsize a tottering administration or provoke a violent crackdown, at which point western embassies and institutions will send up simultaneously cries of tyranny and brutality and insist the leader step aside. Libya, Syria, and Venezuela are instructive in this regard. Third, the country will be pressured to accept some sort of military fettering thanks to either a false flag or manufactured hysteria over some domestic program, such as the WMD restrictions on Iraq, chemical weapons restrictions on Syria, or the civilian nuclear energy restrictions on Iran. Given that the U.S. traffics in WMDs, bioweapons, and nuclear energy itself, insisting others forsake all of these is perhaps little more than racially motivated despotry. But significant fear mongering in the international media will provide sufficient moral momentum to ram through sanctions, resolutions, and inspection regimes with little fanfare.
Schooling the Savages
Once the pretext is established, the appropriate intervention is made. There's no lack of latent racism embedded in each intervention. Something of Edward Said's Orientalism is surely at play here; the West is often responding to a crude caricature rather than a living people. One writer, Robert Dale Parker, described western views of Asia as little more than, "a sink of despotism on the margins of the world." Iran is incessantly lensed through a fearful distrust of the 'other', those abyssal Persians. Likewise, North Korea is mythologized as a kingdom of miniature madmen, possessed of a curious psychosis that surely bears no relation to the genocidal cleansing of 20 percent of its population in the Fifties, itself an imperial coda to the madness of Hiroshima.
The interventions, then, are little different than the missionary work of early colonizers, who sought to entrap the minds of men in order to ensnare the soul. Salvation is the order of the day. The mission worker felt the same sense of superiority and exceptionalism that inhabits the mind of the neoliberal. Two zealots of the age peddling different editions of a common book. One must carry the gospel of the invisible hand to the unlettered minions. But the gifts of the enlightened interloper are consistently dubious.
It might be the loan package that effectively transfers economic control out of the hands of political officials and into the hands of loan officers, those mealy-mouthed creditors referred to earlier. It may be the sanctions that prevent the country from engaging in dollar transactions and trade with numberless nations on which it depends for goods and services. Or it might be that controversial UNSC resolution that leads to a comprehensive agreement to ban certain weapons from a country. Stipulations of the agreement will often include a byzantine inspections regime full of consciously-inserted trip wires designed to catch the country out of compliance and leverage that miscue to intensify confrontational rhetoric and implement even more far-reaching inspections.
Cracking the Shell
The benign-sounding structural adjustments of the West have fairly predictable results : cultural and economic chaos, rapid impoverishment, resource extraction with its attendant ecological ruin, transfer of ownership from local hands to foreign entities, and death from a thousand causes . We are currently sanctioning around 30 nations in some fashion; dozens of countries have fallen into ' protracted arrears ' with western creditors; and entire continents are witnessing huge outflows of capital–on the order of $100B annually–to the global north as debt service. The profiteering colonialists of the West make out like bandits. The usual suspects include Washington and its loyal lapdogs, the IMF, World Bank, EU, NATO, and other international institutions, and the energy and defense multinationals whose shareholders and executive class effectively run the show.
So why aren't Americans more aware of this complicated web of neocolonial domination? Italian communist Antonio Gramsci, who pioneered the concept of cultural hegemony, suggested that the ruling ideologies of the bourgeoisie were so deeply embedded in popular consciousness that the working classes often supported leaders and ideas that were antithetical to their own interests. Today, that cultural hegemony is neoliberalism. Few can slip its grasp long enough to see the world from an uncolored vantage point. You'll very rarely encounter arguments like this leafing through the Times or related broadsheets. They don't fit the ruling dogma, the Weltanschauung (worldview) that keeps the public mind in its sleepy repose.
But French-Algerian philosopher Louis Althusser, following Gramsci, believed that, unlike the militarized state, the ideologies of the ruling class were penetrable. He felt that the comparatively fluid zones of Ideological State Apparatuses (ISAs) were contexts of class struggle. Within them, groups might attain a kind of 'relative autonomy', by which they could step outside of the monolithic cultural ideology. The scales would fall. Then, equipped with new knowledge, people might stage an inception of their own, cracking open the cultural hegemony and reshaping its mythos in a more humane direction. This seems like an imperative for modern American culture, buried as it is beneath the hegemonic heft of the neoliberal credo. These articles of false faith, this ideology of deceit, ought to be replaced with new declarations of independence, of the mind if not the mainstream. Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Jason Hirthler Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Jason Hirthler
Jason Hirthler is a veteran of the communications industry and author of The Sins of Empire: Unmasking American Imperialism . He lives in New York City and can be reached at email@example.com .
Feb 17, 2018 | isreview.org
Review of:Democracy in Chains:The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America By Nancy MacLean Viking , 2017 · 334 pages · $28.00
Duke University historian Nancy MacLean counted herself among those who'd never heard of Buchanan when she began researching Jim Crow Virginia's decision to subsidize private school vouchers for "segregation academies" in the wake of the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education outlawing racial segregation in Topeka, Kansas, public schools. References to Buchanan in the writings of the doyen of postwar neoliberal economics Milton Friedman led her to Buchanan's former office at George Mason University. There, among huge piles of papers, she found a confidential letter from Koch describing millions of dollars in contributions to Buchanan's research center on the campus.
From that chance encounter with evidence connecting the unassuming professor with the billionaire ideologue, MacLean has constructed a history of Buchanan's role as an idea merchant for free market ideology. Over the course of nearly five decades Buchanan, his acolytes, and associates have been key participants in a billionaire-funded campaign to promote such policies as school vouchers for private education, privatization of Social Security, anti-union "right to work" laws, and ideological crusades like climate science denial. That many of these policies have been implemented at the state and local level, while perhaps the most plutocratic administration ever inhabits the US government, is testament to the success of the Far Right's long game.
MacLean's Democracy in Chains thus joins Jane Mayer's Dark Money and Kim Phillips-Fein's Invisible Hands as essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the intellectual and organizational roots of the free-market Right that has taken hold of the modern Republican Party and much of US politics today. In contrast to the stories that Mayer and Phillips-Fein tell, MacLean's approach is narrower -- focusing on the career of one influential academic and his patron. But its focus on Buchanan allows MacLean to explore other themes that aren't as central to Mayer's and Phillip-Fein's work, such as the connection of these self-described "defenders of liberty" to an older, antidemocratic tradition rooted in the antebellum South and the Confederacy.
Only a few years from receiving his PhD in the right-wing economics department at the University of Chicago, Buchanan proposed to his employer, the University of Virginia, that it support his plan to set up a research center to "produce a line of new thinkers" promoting libertarian views then largely out of step with the mainstream of the economics profession. He suggested in his proposal to the university president that the center be given an innocuous name to camouflage its "extreme views . . . no matter how relevant they might be to the real purpose of the program." University President Colgate Darden Jr. agreed to raise the money from corporate foundations to create what MacLean rightly characterizes as "in essence a political center at a nonprofit institution of higher learning." It was the first of many such efforts by Buchanan and subsequent imitators to create what one of them, Murray Rothbard, openly described as a "Leninist cadre" of free-market ideologues who could move into positions of influence in government, business, and universities.
In reconstructing Buchanan's role in crafting academic incubators for free-market ideas throughout his long career at UVA, UCLA, Virginia Tech, and finally at the Koch-funded Mercatus Center at George Mason University, MacLean emphasizes two main points that rip the mask off of these ventures' innocuous claims of devotion to "individual liberty." The first is the inconvenient truth that they can't be separated from their origins in the defense of Jim Crow and doctrines such as "states' rights" and "nullification" dating back to the antebellum South. MacLean recalls historian Richard Hofstadter's characterization of John C. Calhoun (proslavery ideologue and US vice president 1825-32) as the "Marx of the master class," and shows how Buchanan echoed Calhoun's ideas. Like Calhoun, Buchanan assumed the supremacy of property rights over all other rights. And like Calhoun, he developed (in The Calculus of Consent , coauthored with Gordon Tullock in 1962) a theory of government that required all members of society -- and most importantly, its wealthiest -- to agree before any government action could be taken.
Buchanan's version of "public choice" posits a world in which government is a corrupt and oppressive enterprise in which individuals and politicians adopt "rent-seeking" behavior to channel private wealth to ends that its original owners may not support. In this world, if the democratically determined majority supports taxation to fund public schools, but a wealthy minority objects to paying those taxes, the wealthy minority should have the ability to veto or opt out of support for public schools. Buchanan tested out this very idea in post- Brown Virginia, when he coauthored a 1959 plan for the full privatization and selling off of all public schools in the state. Although presented in race-neutral language of "economic liberty," it presented an option to the Jim Crow Democratic Party state leadership who urged "massive resistance" to court-ordered integration of public schools. Yet Buchanan's proposal proved even too radical for Virginia's legislature, which narrowly rejected it.
MacLean describes how Buchanan's early failure taught him lessons that stuck with him the rest of his life:
Faced with majority opinion as expressed in votes, politicians could not be counted on to stand by their stated committments. . . . He learned something else, too: constitutions matter. If a constitution enabled what he would call "socialism" (which, in Virginia's case, meant requiring a system of public schools), it would be nearly impossible to achieve his vision of radical transformation without changing the constitution.
Buchanan's comeuppance illustrates the second major point that MacLean draws out: hostility to democracy, collective action, and majority rule is central to this project. Throughout the book, MacLean quotes the principals, like Buchanan and Koch, acknowledging to each other that their ideas are unpopular. They understand that ordinary Americans support public goods like public education and Social Security. As a result, they resort to stealth in advancing their agenda. They look to judicial or constitutional means to change the rules of the game to institutionalize their far-right policies, and to place them outside the control of elected politicians or the popular will. This is what MacLean means by placing "democracy in chains."
So we find Buchanan writing memos and papers in support of the Koch-funded Cato Institute's campaign for Social Security privatization in the 1980s. Knowing that a direct assault on Social Security was political suicide, Buchanan urged a more surreptitious route: raise doubts about the system's viability, pass incremental "reforms" to peel off groups of beneficiaries from the system, and enlist the financial industry to offer alternatives. Anyone who followed the George W. Bush administration's failed effort to privatize Social Security, or House Speaker Paul Ryan's current effort to wreck Medicaid and Medicare, will recognize these tactics.
More dramatically, we find Buchanan playing a role as adviser to that champion of economic liberty, the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. Here, where a brutal military coup allowed the most right-wing elements of the Chilean ruling class to remake society, Buchanan found an opportunity to test his theories of placing constitutional "locks" on democracy. The 1980 constitution, passed in a rigged referendum, had Buchanan's fingerprints on it: ridiculous supermajorities required to raise taxes, union leaders barred from political participation, and an electoral system designed to empower conservative minorities. Chile's return to democracy in the 1990s overturned many of these restrictions, but others remain. And the legacy of Pinochet-era privatizations of the country's pension and education systems -- fruit of the policy advice of leading neoliberal ideologues -- still contributes to wide swathes of poverty amid "economic freedom."
Buchanan's final stop was George Mason University, where Charles Koch's millions bankrolled the transformation of a sleepy commuter college into a Beltway powerhouse that has become an idea factory and policy mill for conservatives. Its proximity to Washington, DC, means that politicians, congressional staffers, lobbyists, judges, and other Beltway denizens have direct access to the latest research, talking points, and training in support of their patron's extremist ideology.
If some of the purer libertarians worry, as MacLean quotes one of them, that they "have been seduced by Koch money into providing intellectual ammunition for an autocratic businessman," Buchanan didn't seem to be one of them. But with an avowed school privatizer running the US Department of Education, and with court cases aiming to cripple public sector unions heading to the US Supreme Court, it's hard to argue that they've been inconsequential.
MacLean raises this dystopian prospect: "To value liberty for the wealthy minority above all else and enshrine it in the nation's governing rules, as Calhoun and Buchanan both called for and the Koch network is achieving, play by play, is to consent to an oligarchy in all but the outer husk of representative form." She asks: "Is this the country we want to live in and bequeath to our children and future generations? That is the real public choice."
Feb 10, 2018 | www.unz.com
A couple of decades or more ago when I was still in Washington, otherwise known as the snake pit, I was contacted by a well-financed group that offered me, a Business Week and Scripps Howard News Service columnist with access as a former editor also to the Wall Street Journal, substantial payments to promote agendas that the lobbyists paying the bills wanted promoted.
To the detriment of my net worth, but to the preservation of my reputation, I declined. Shortly thereafter a conservative columnist, a black man if memory serves, was outed for writing newspaper columns for pay for a lobby group.
I often wondered if he was set up in order to get rid of him and whether the enticement I received was intended to shut me down, or whether journalists had become "have pen will travel"? (Have Gun -- Will Travel was a highly successful TV Series 1957-1963).
Having read Bryan MacDonald's article on Information Clearing House, "Anti-Russia Think Tanks in US: Who Funds them?," I see that think tanks are essentially lobby groups for their donors. The policy analyses and reform schemes that they produce are tailored to support the material interests of donors. None of the studies are reliable as objective evidence. They are special pleading.
Think tanks, such as the American Enterprise Institute, Brookings Institution, and the Atlantic Council, speak for those who fund them. Increasingly, they speak for the military/security complex, American hegemony, corporate interests, and Israel.
Bryan MacDonald lists those who support the anti-Russian think tanks such as the Atlantic Council, the Center for European Policy Analysis, German Marshall Fund of the US, and Institute for Study of War. The "experts" are mouthpieces funded by the US military security complex. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/48755.htm US government agencies use taxpayer dollars to deceive taxpayers.
In other words insouciant Americans pay taxes in order to be brainwashed. And they tolerate this.
Nov 30, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.comAccording to recent reports the Heritage Foundation, clearly the most established and many would say politically influential conservative think tank in Washington, is considering David Trulio, Lockheed Martin vice president and longtime lobbyist for the defense industry, to be its next president. While Heritage's connection to Washington's sprawling national security industry is already well-established, naming Trulio as its president might be seen as gilding the lily.
If anything, reading this report made me more aware of the degree to which the "conservative policy community" in Washington depends on the whims and interests of particular donors.
And this relationship is apparently no longer something to be concealed or embarrassed by. One can now be open about being in the pocket of the defense industry. Trulio's potential elevation to Heritage president at what we can assume will be an astronomical salary, will no doubt grease the already well-oiled pipeline of funds from major contractors to this "conservative" foundation, which already operates with an annual disclosed budget of almost $100 million.
A 2009 Heritage Foundation report, " Maintaining the Superiority of America's Defense Industrial Base ," called for further government investment in aircraft weaponry for "ensuring a superior fighting force" and "sustaining international stability." In 2011, senior national security fellow James Carafano wrote " Five Steps to Defend America's Industrial Defense Base ," which complained about a "fifty billion dollar under-procurement by the Pentagon" for buying new weaponry. In 2016, Heritage made the case for several years of reinvestment to get the military back on "sound footing," with an increase in fiscal year 2016 described as "an encouraging start."
These special pleas pose a question: which came first, Heritage's heavy dependence on funds from defense giants, or the foundation's belief that unless we steadily increase our military arsenal we'll be endangering "international stability"? Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the middle: someone who is predisposed to go in a certain direction may be more inclined to do so if he is being rewarded in return. Incidentally, the 2009 position paper seems to be directing the government to throw more taxpayer dollars to Boeing than to its competitor Lockheed. But it seems both defense giants have landed a joint contract this year to produce a new submersible for the Navy, so it may no longer be necessary to pick sides on that one at least. No doubt both corporations will continue to look after Heritage, which will predictably call for further increases, whether they be in aerospace or shipbuilding.
Although one needn't reduce everything to dollars and cents, if we're looking at the issues Heritage and other likeminded foundations are likely to push today, it's far more probable they'll be emphasizing the national security state rather than, say, opposition to gay marriage or the defense of traditional gender roles. There's lots more money to be made advocating for the former rather than the latter. In May 2013, Heritage sponsored a formal debate between "two conservatives" and "two liberals" on the issue of defense spending, with Heritage and National Review presenting the "conservative" side. I wondered as I listened to part of this verbal battle why is was considered "conservative" to call for burdening American taxpayers with massive increases in the purchase of Pentagon weaponry and planes that take 17 years to get off the ground.
Like American higher education, Conservatism Inc. is very big business. Whatever else it's about rates a very far second to keeping the money flowing. "Conservative" positions are often simply causes for which foundations and media enterprises that have the word "conservative" attached to them are paid to represent. It is the label carried by an institution or publication, not necessarily the position it takes, that makes what NR or Heritage advocates "conservative."
In any event, Mr. Trulio won't have to travel far if he takes the Heritage helm. He and his corporation are already ensconced only a few miles away from Heritage's Massachusetts Avenue headquarters, if the information provided by Lockheed Martin is correct. It says: "Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 98,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services." A company like that can certainly afford to underwrite a think tank -- if the price is right.
Paul Gottfried is Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Elizabethtown College, where he taught for twenty-five years. He is a Guggenheim recipient and a Yale PhD. He writes for many websites and scholarly journals and is the author of thirteen books, most recently Fascism: Career of a Concept and Revisions and Dissents . His books have been translated into multiple languages and seem to enjoy special success in Eastern Europe.
September 22, 2012 | stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com
Chris Skidmore, one of the authors of Britannia Unchained, says:
People aren't interested in looking at medians and graphs. We have a duty to try and broaden that message outside of the think tank zone.
I don't know what to make of this. It could be that Skidmore is recommending that politicians use social science in the way Paul Krugman urges economists to use maths - you base your policy upon it, but then find a way of advocating the policy in more populist language.
Sadly, though, it is not at all obvious that Britannia Unchained's authors are using this reasonable approach. They seem instead to have skipped the science and evidence and gone straight to the populism.
This suggests an unkinder interpretation - that Skidmore thinks formal science has no place in politics. What matters is what sells, not what's right.
The problem here is that there is no strong obstacle to this descent into post-modern politics. The anti-scientific culture of our mainstream media means they will not call politicians out on their abuse of facts, unless the abuser is not in their tribe - as Jonathan complained in noting the press's reaction to Britannia Unchained.
But does this matter? In one sense, maybe not. Expert support and empirical evidence does not guarantee that a policy will be a success - though I suspect it improves the odds.
Instead, what worries me is that this threatens to further corrode the standard of political discourse.Fact-free politics need not be the sole preserve of the right; some of my readers will have the name of Richard Murphy in their minds. And if we go down this road, we'll end up with one tribe thinking the poor are all scroungers and the other thinking our economic problem can be solved by a crackdown on tax dodging. And the two tribes will just be throwing insults at each other. And there's a few of us who think this would be dull.
BenSix | September 22, 2012 at 12:09 PMI don't think that's what Skidmore's saying but nor do I think that what he's saying is any less silly. He replies to charges of slipshod research and laziness by saying...
"...it's a 116-page book, there's 433 footnotes to it."
I see this a lot: the implicit claim that the merit of work can be judged by the amount of references that it contains. Yet that says nothing about the quality of its research or interpretation. I could argue that I'm God and add 433 footnotes that reference self-published blogposts in which I proclaim that I'm a deity but it wouldn't make it a work of scholarship.
Chris | September 22, 2012 at 10:05 PM
"Fact-free politics need not be the sole preserve of the right"
They need not be, but they are.
Blissex | September 23, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Continuing my previous comment on voter hypocrisy, yes there are many voters who consider politics a spectator sport, a source of entertainment, just like news.
But my impression is that "fact free" politics is really a cover for an unwillingness to discuss the available facts, because they are unpleasant, as they relate to nasty self interest and distributional issues.
Politics thus may be fact free because the facts cannot be be discussed in a politically correct way, and therefore dog whistling abounds.
It is not a question of tribes, but of interests, even if these interests relate fairly directly to culture and in particular theology (most "culture" is the corrupted legacy of some dead theologian).
Consider this quote:
"When I was at university, a one-time very senior Tory figure put it succinctly at an off-the-record gathering: the Conservative Party, he explained, was a "coalition of privileged interests. Its main purpose is to defend that privilege. And the way it wins elections is by giving just enough to just enough other people"."
Are Richard Murphy's posts really that fact free? A lot of the left seem to rely a lot on his "insights" (especially the PCS trade union).
SR819 | September 24, 2012 at 02:28 PM
But my impression is that "fact free" politics is really a cover for an unwillingness to discuss the available facts, because they are unpleasant, as they relate to nasty self interest and distributional issues.
Think Tank Spectrum, 1998-99
Much like in the global economy, in the world of the think tanks that dominate the mass media, the rich have gotten richer.
There has been little shuffling at the top of the most cited think-tank list, based on references to the group in major papers and broadcast transcripts in the Nexis database. Once again, the Brookings Institution led the way, with close to 3,000 citations among major newspapers and television and radio transcripts.
While the Heritage Foundation once rivaled Brookings in prominence, Washington's premier centrist think tank has separated itself from the rest of the pack, more than doubling the frequency of the next most prominent think tank, the Cato Institute. The Heritage Foundation has fallen to third place.
While this survey reveals that media show a greater reliance on think tanks than at the time of the last survey two years ago, the constituencies representing a center/right debate have further cemented their positions as media-friendly analysts. In the survey of 1997, conservative or right-leaning think tanks received 53 percent of all citations, 32 percent of citations went to centrist think tanks, and only 16 percent of the citations went to progressive or left-leaning think tanks. The percentages for progressive or left-leaning think tanks have declined slightly since then.
These think tanks along with Fox news and Rush radio, have placed 100's of ideas and phrases, into the brains of US republicans. And they are all untrue, unreal, and/ or fantasys.
The following are a few examples of (untrue) phrases, that were created inside of think tanks, and repeated by Fox news and Rush radio, that have become the actual political, economic, and scientific thought processes inside of US republican brains. All of the phrases created by theses think tanks, are designed to lower taxes and increase profits for, Americas rich and large corporations.
The following is one example of a (scientific) untrue belief, that was created inside of a corporate think tank, that has become a thought process of US republicans.
1. Fox news and Rush radio say the following "Global warming is not happening, and global warming is a hoax and a lie, created by the worlds political left."
Even though 97% of climate scientists state "global warming is happening" , these Fox news and Rush radio propaganda group victims still believe "global warming is not happening." The victims of this propaganda group also believe that, the scientists who say "global warming is happening" are lying and involved in a conspiracy plot started by the worlds political left
I have spoken to many members of this propaganda group/ cult, who believe that global warming is not happening. And even though I tell them 10x "97% of climate scientists say "global warming is happening, and I can show you proof", they refuse to believe it. Once these US republicans get into this propaganda group/ cult they only trust information from Fox news and Rush radio.
Note: These think tanks created the lie "global warming is not happening", to increase the profits of large corporations like Exxon Mobile.
2. tax cuts for Americas rich, increase government revenues
(While all respected economists, even US republican economists state, "tax cuts for Americas rich do (not) increase government revenues.")
The above think tank created lie effects the propaganda group/ cult victims, in the same way as the think tank phrase "global warming is not happening."
And I have also told these victims of this propaganda group, that "all respected economists state, tax cuts for the rich do not increase government revenues", and just like with global warming, these propaganda group victims do not believe it. They only believe information from Fox news and Rush radio. They believe any information (not) from Fox news or Rush radio are lies from a conspiracy plot created by the worlds political left.
The following are a few more examples of (economic) think tank phrases, that are lies and untrue, according to respected economists, but still victims of this propaganda group believe them as true.
These are only a few examples there are 100's more.
1.) tax cuts for Americas rich, and large corporations create jobs (economists say this is un-true, b/c small business creates most new US jobs, and also large US corporations are moving many US jobs to China for cheaper labor.)
2.) tax cuts for Americas rich stimulate the economy (economists say this is un-true, and it stimulates Chinas economy, thats were Americas rich create jobs to get cheap labor.)
3.) large US corporations are forced to pay too much money in taxes (While GE corp and many other large US corporations have a -0- % tax rate, and these same corporations get billions in tax refunds, these corporations tax rate is actually (negative) billions of dollars.)
4.) Americas rich are forced to pay too much money in taxes (While Warren Buffet has a 17% tax rate, and Americans who make $60,000 a year have a 30% tax rate, Americas rich have around 1/2 less the tax rate as regular Americans.)
5.) the death tax effects everyone (reality: it only effects the top 2% of richest americans.)
6.) the flat/fair tax is the best idea for all Americans (While the flat tax is actually a huge tax cut for the rich, and a huge tax increase for everyone else. source: Citizens for Tax Justice.)
7.) free trade creates better paying american jobs (reality: in 2001, economists estimated that 3/4 of American workers lost about 12% of their current wages because of free trade deals.)
8.) raising the minimum wage kills jobs and hurts low-income workers (reality: economists say this cant be proven, because states with high min. wages actually create more jobs.)
9.) higher wages mean higher prices (reality: the US department of agriculture did a huge study on this and found this un-true)
10.) low wages are offset by low prices (reality: economists say this does not happen.)
11.) free markets -not regulation- will keep intrest rates low (reality: economists say this is un-true)
12.) "free" trade laws make trade actually free (reality: these laws only give billions of dollars to Americas rich)
13.) we dont need policies that increase wages because wages are already growing (reality: When republicans said this, American workers wages just decreased by 0.6 %.
It seems that any untrue or unreal think tank created phrase, is believed by US republicans.
This US republican (propaganda group) media says, and repeats 10,000's of untrue, false, and untrue fantasy phrases about economics, science, US democrats, liberal organizations, and US democrats laws each year.
And because of the fact, their are millions of US republicans, this propaganda group/ cult, says and repeats millions and millions of lies and untrue things each year in America.
I challenge any forum member to post/ list any group of people, who have said more lies than US republicans, in a 15 year period.
I believe chances are, there has never been a group of people, in the history of all mankind, that has said and repeated as many lies and un-true things as US republicans, said and repeated in the last 15 years. But increased population and better media systems may be the reason for this, but maybe not?
So now you've seen the power of conservative propaganda for setting America's agenda. This week we saw the annihilation of progressive ideas by the most sophisticated, deeply funded, and precisely orchestrated public relations system ever concocted.
And they are preparing to take things up a notch now that they've won. The gears are well greased and the engine is humming. Prospects are slim for President Obama and the remaining progressives in Congress. If we don't act now, 2012 will mark the end of the progressive rise to power in American politics.
Now is the time to respond with force.
We have to rally together and stop the message machine that aligns corporate wealth with the American story. The stakes are too high for us to ignore this threat any longer. Our enemy is not a party. It is a system designed to manipulate public perceptions about what it means to be American. And it is unraveling the tapestry of our culture and destroying our democracy.
I've watched the progressive leadership closely in the last five years as they have repeatedly underestimated this oppositional force and overlooked its fundamental threat to America's future. They have invested nearly all their time and money in candidates and policies, naively thinking that rational discourse would save the day despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary. Very little has been done to build the 21st Century communication infrastructure we need to counter the vast network of think tanks, media outlets, and cultural myths that preserve the status quo.
To give you a sense of exactly what we're up against, consider how the Tea Party Movement came into being:
- A group of billionaires organized by Koch Industries came together and designed the initiative;
- Spokespeople were planted in the mainstream media to suggest that it was time for a revolution reminiscent of the founding days of our country;
- A massive media platform including Fox News and conservative radio spread the meme to every corner of the country;
- Seed funding was provided to organize the first rallies, all the while painting it as a "grassroots movement";
- Narratives that had been planted by conservative think tanks throughout the last forty years were evoked as "traditional values";
- Real concerns by people suffering under corporate corruption were tapped to evoke strong anger and fear;
- People came out in droves to support Tea Party candidates who were actually in cahoots with their corporate benefactors.
All of the investments have paid off. The Democratic majority in Congress is gone. President Obama has been put on the defensive. And local initiatives across the country have advanced conservative policies into law at the city, county, and state level.
Put simply, we're getting our asses kicked.
Now more than ever, we need effective governance in the various sectors, including both public and private to save our country from collapse. Yet what we have is a deep collusion between wealthy corporatists and a significant cabal in government. Their collusion is profoundly anti-democratic and even anti-market (as demonstrated by the devastating impacts of their policies on financial markets in 2008). So what we're getting is a group of financiers who set up communication systems to manipulate public perception and drive boom-crash cycles in the economy to siphon all forms of wealth into their coffers.
We can't let this happen any longer. Now is the time to act.
Are you concerned about the future of America? Would you like to finally see the American people have a stronger footing than large corporations in our politics? Then you should invest wisely in the infrastructure that is capable of elevating progressive ideas so they dominate public discourse. Stop dumping all your money and time into reactionary campaigns to save progressive policy from the conservative hammer. Break out of the election cycle mold and build for the long haul. And start being strategically proactive by targeting the source of power our opposition holds – the Conservative Worldview.
When I was a fellow of the now defunct Rockridge Institute I saw the potential for decisive strategic action that reframes political debate. It was painful to watch progressive philanthropists turn their backs on this foundational work and pour all their money into the 2008 campaign. What would have happened if they had instead pooled a few million dollars to invest in the design of a communication framework that brings coherence to the progressive vision? How might this year's election have been different if progressives across the country were taught how to deconstruct conservative stories and challenge them in a manner that fundamentally weakens their influence?
It's getting late in the game and our side is way behind. Our only chance for a comeback is to respond directly to the conservative propaganda machine. Right now we don't have adequate capacity for getting our messages out to the public. And we rely too heavily on outdated tactics that repeatedly fail in the face of such a powerful opposition.
We have to be smart. We have to be organized. And we have to be strategic. It's now or never.
Are you with me?
1:29 am in Uncategorized by Barefoot AccountantI just watched Robert Greenwald's film clip, Koch Brothers Exposed, and was blown totally away at the operation of a brilliant propaganda machine, making that of Hitler and Goebbels in comparision appear infantile and primitive. This is a propaganda machine well thought out, organized, and orchestrated.
First, the Koch Brothers and other corporatist interests fund millions of dollars to these right-wing think tanks of economists and political scientists, as the Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation, Mercatus Center, Reagan Foundation, et al, to write the script that these donors want to disseminate to the general public. These think tanks are sort of like screenwriters or script writers, composing and writing the dialogue that the donors want published to the American public.
Then attractive economists and political scientists of these organizations make guest appearances on the media, such as Fox Business, or the Kudlow Report, Neil Cavuto's Your World, and Fox News, reading the carefully crafted orchestrated scripts in an effort to get the word out.
The next step then is that the media mouthpieces, such as Lawrence Kudlow, Britt Hume, Gretchen Carlson, et al, start repeating this script as if it's gospel since it emanated out from these so-called think tanks. This is the important segment missing in the Hitler-Goebbels propaganda strategy. These supposed news reporters and journalists add a touch of credibility and veracity and objectivity to the propaganda. Robert Greenwald and Bernie Sanders refer to this phenomenon as the "echo chamber".
Lastly, our politicians then repeat almost word-for-word what has been said over and over by the think tanks and the media personalities on talk shows such as "Hardball" (which in my opinion should now be renamed "Softball"): e.g., last night Kay Bailey Hutchison just repeated their script on raising the Social Security age to Chris Matthews, who then exclaimed in his sycophant manner that she should run for President of the United States. Gosh.
For those of you interested in seeing this excellent clip by the Brave New Foundation on the "Echo Chamber", please see, Counter the Koch Billions. Protect Social Security. Will you help Senator Sanders expose the Koch Echo Chamber? Video Transcript.
For Cenk Uygur's interview of Robert Greenwald, the producer of this very important clip, please see, Social distortion. Does the GOP suffer from social insecurity? Cenk Uygur June 22 2011 video transcript.
Please get involved and organized now; tomorrow may be too late: the rich and multinational corporations are kicking our ass.
CATO was making much hay a few days ago about budget problems in California, New York, and New Jersey, which can be explained, respectively, by the Governor's veto of an Assembly-passed budget a few months ago, the decline in tax revenues from financial services firms and continuing loss of upstate industry, and underfunded pension obligations whose origins date back to Christie's cocaine-inspired budgets of the mid-1990s.
Strangely (via Dr. Black), they missed the crises in a few other states, most especially including the state governed by Republic hero Mitch Daniels:Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels has warned residents that most of the state's services -- including its parks, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and state-regulated casinos -- would be shuttered unless a budget is passed today.Closing down the casinos? Now that is extreme.
Mitch Daniels, doing for my old home state
Posted by Ken Houghton at 11:29 AM Comments (12)
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