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Forthcoming slow motion collapse of global neoliberal empire led by the USA

Analogies between collapse of neoliberalism and dissolution of the USSR. When ideology became discredited, the social system based on it enters zombie state. Neoliberalism which entered zombie state in 2008 now is more cruel and bloodthirsty then before

News Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism  Recommended Links Brexit Casino Capitalism Secular Stagnation Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult
Financial Crisis of 2008 as the Crisis of Neoliberalism Gangster Capitalism Anti-globalization movement Psychological Warfare and the New World Order Key Myths of Neoliberalism Globalization of Corporatism Greenwald US
Elite Theory Compradors Fifth column Color revolutions The Great Transformation Right to protect If Corporations Are People, They Are Psychopaths
Super Capitalism as Imperialism Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism America’s Financial Oligarchy Inverted Totalitarism Disaster capitalism Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA Neoliberalism and inequality
Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Harvard Mafia Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market Republican Economic Policy Monetarism fiasco Small government smoke screen The Decline of the Middle Class
Libertarian Philosophy Media domination strategy Neoliberalism Bookshelf John Kenneth Galbraith Globalization of Financial Flows Humor Etc

Introduction

As the most recent transformation of capitalism, neoliberalism is a broad economic and political project of restoring class power of financial oligarchy it enjoyed in 20th of XX century (financial revanchism). It involved  consolidation, globalization and rapid concentration of financial capital (Giroux 2008; 2014).

As an ideology, consider profit-making to be the final arbiter and essence of democracy. And consumption is the only operable form of citizenship. With the related religious belief that the market can both solve all problems and serve as a model for structuring all social relations.

As the mode of governance, it produces the ways of life driven by a survival-of-the fittest ethic, grounded in the idea of the free, predatory individual in economic jungles. And it declared the morality of the right of ruling groups and institutions to exercise power ignoring issues of ethics and social costs (variant of "might is right" mentality).

As the political project, it involves the privatization of public services, the dismantling of the connection of private issues and public problems, the selling off of state functions, liberalization of trade in goods and capital investment, the eradication of government regulation of financial institutions and corporations, the destruction of the welfare state and unions, and the complete "marketization" and "commodification" of social relations.

Neoliberalism has put an enormous effort into creating a commanding cultural apparatus and public pedagogy in which individuals can only view themselves as consumers, embrace freedom as the right to participate in the market, and supplant issues of social responsibility for an unchecked embrace of individualism and the belief that all social relation be judged according to how they further one’s individual needs and self-interests.

Matters of mutual caring, respect, and compassion for the other have given way to the limiting orbits of privatization and unrestrained self-interest, just as it has become increasingly difficult to translate private troubles into larger social, economic, and political considerations. As the democratic public spheres of civil society have atrophied under the onslaught of neoliberal regimes of austerity, the social contract has been either greatly weakened or replaced by savage forms of casino capitalism, a culture of fear, and the increasing use of state violence.

One consequence is that it has become more difficult for people to debate and question neoliberal hegemony and the widespread misery it produces for young people, the poor, middle class, workers, and other segments of society — now considered disposable under neoliberal regimes which are governed by a survival-of-the fittest ethos, largely imposed by the ruling economic and political elite.

That they are unable to make their voices heard and lack any viable representation in the process makes clear the degree to which young people and others are suffering under a democratic deficit, producing what Chantal Mouffe calls “a profound dissatisfaction with a number of existing societies” under the reign of neoliberal capitalism (Mouffe 2013:119). This is one reason why so many youth, along with workers, the unemployed, and students, have been taking to the streets in Greece, Mexico, Egypt, the United States, and England.

Neoliberalism is the second after Marxism social system that was "invented" by a group of intellectuals (although there was not a single dominant individual among them) and implemented via coup d'état. From above. Although is  formally only 37 years old (if we could the edge of neoliberalism from the election of Reagan, which means from 1981) neoliberalism as ideology was born in 1947.  And it already reached the stage of discreditation of its ideology. 

When ideology became discredited, the social system based on it enters zombie state. That happened with Bolshevism after its victory on the WWII when it became evident that working class does not represent the new dominant class and communist party is unable to secure neither higher productivity of economics, nor higher standard of living for people then the advanced capitalist societies. Soviet solders in 1944-1945 saw the standard of living in Poland (which was Russian province before the revolution, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Austria and started to suspect the dream of building communist society was just another "opium for the people", the secular religion which hides the rule of "nomenklatura".  They also realized that The Iron Law of Oligarchy  in applicable to the USSR no less that to any Western country. If we assume that Soviet ideology entered zombies state in 1945, or may be later in 1963 (with  Khrushchev Thaw) when it became clear that the USSR will never match the standard of living of the USA population. Any illusions of global Communist hegemony had evaporated with the collapse of Sino-Soviet relations in the 1960s. Around 1975, the Soviet Union entered a period of economic stagnation from which it  never emerged. Due to this the USSR looked to Europe, primarily West Germany, to provide hard currency financing through massive loans, while the U.S. became a major supplier of grain.

All in all the story of the USSR collapse suggests that after the ideology was discredited the society, which was based on it,  can last  several decades of even half a century (The USSR lasted another 28-46 years depending on the point at which you assume the ideology was completely discredited). But the sad story of the USSR after 1963 does suggests that if the ideology is "man made" like is both the case with Marxism and neoliberalism, the collapse of ideology is the prolog to the subsequent collapse of the society too (with substantial lag).  

Neoliberal society probably has at least the same staying power after 2008 -- when the ideology was discredited and neoliberalism entered zombie stage. If not more, as collapse of the USSR was prompted by the ascendance of neoliberalism and betrayal of Soviet nomenklatura which correctly decided that they will be better off under neoliberalism, then under Brezhnev socialism. And that, paradoxically, includes the KGB brass, which was instrumental in transition of the xUSSR space from Brezhnev socialism to neoliberalism (with the first stage of gangster capitalism). 

At the current stage collapse of neoliberalism, if we can use this word, is still very slow and almost invisible.  Brexit and election of Trump in the USA are probably two most notable events after 2008, that undermines "neoliberal globalization" -- one of the key components of neoliberalism, because like Communism before it is about building a global neoliberal empire (led by the USA financial oligarchy in close cooperation of other western oligarchies), without state borders.

We can envision  the same process of  the growing gap between ideology postulates and real life conditions, especially falling standard of living for most of the people (let's say, lower 80% in the USA. Top 20% including large part of "professional" class are doing just fine, much like nomenklarura in the USSR). Do let's make an unscientific estimate that another 40-50 years of neoliberalism from 2008 are probable. That gives are the estimate of probably disintegration as somewhere in 2050-2060.  "Plato oil" might speed this process up, as neoliberal globalization depends on cheap oil.

The limits of analogy between the collapse of neoliberalism and the collapse of the USSR

Like all analogies it far from being perfect.  Here are major objections:

  1. When the USSR collapsed neoliberal ideology was a clear alternative and the collapse of the USSR coincided with "triumphal march" of neoliberalism around the globe.  In a sense the USSR simply fall on the rails of the neoliberal train.
  2. Right now we do not see such a prominent alternative to the dominant neoliberal ideology, although it is clear that it is wrong and her promised are fake. Also neoliberalism  is still social system that is dominant globally. Not like Soviet Unit which existed in the hostile surrounding of major Western powers with their three letter agencies directly targeting this society, with huge money resources of Western financial system and the burning desire (especially by the US neoliberal elite, which came to power in 1980 ) to get rid of competition by any means possible. 
  3. While Trump administration remind in its incompetence Brezhnev administration, the gap is still tremendous. While Trump is definitely a third  rate politician, Gorbachov as a politician was a naive idiot, in comparison with whom Trump looks like a shrewd statesman (or, at least, a staunch nationalist.) Unless we assume that "Gorby" (cultivated by his handler Margaret Thatcher)  was a traitor (the version that became increasingly populate in post Soviet space after 1991). But the complete absence of political talent (Gorbachov came to power as a protégé of Andropov)  is still the primary suspect, because you should not assume sinister motives when incompetence is enough for the explanation of the events (  The Soviet collapse Contradictions and neo-modernisation ):

    The main charge that may be laid against Gorbachev as leader is that he lacked an effective strategy of statecraft: the mobilization of resources to make a country more self-confident, more powerful, more respected and more prosperous. Instead, Gorbachev frittered away the governmental capital accumulated by the Soviet regime, and in the end was unable to save the country which he had attempted to reform.

  4. Despite all difficulties the USA remains the owner of world reserve currency and the center of technological innovation (although in the later role it somewhat slipped). It military spending (which stimulate fundamental research) remains are the largest in the world. The country still remains the magnet for immigration from other countries.

Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich

There one, especially deep analogy between any neoliberal society and the USSR. Neoliberalism borrowed large part of its strategy and tactic of acquiring and maintaining power directly from  Marxism. Actually analogies with Marxism are to numerous to list. "Dictatorship of "free markets"" instead of dictatorship of proletariat. With the same idea that the intellectual "vanguard" recruited mainly from "Intelligentsia" (mainly right wing economists and philosophers of the  Mont Pelerin Society  created in `947 with the explicit goal to oppose socialism and Bolshevism) will drive steeple to the "bright future of all mankind" -- global neoliberal empire led by the USA. And that the end justifies the means.

In short, neoliberalism is a kind of "Trotskyism for rich." And it uses the same subversive tactics to get and stay in power, which were invented by Bolsheviks/Trotskyites. Including full scale use of intelligence agencies (during WWII Soviet intelligence agency -- NKDV -- rivaled the primary intelligence agencies of Nazi Germany -- Abwehr; CIA was by-and-large modeled on Abwehr  with Abwerh specialists directly participating in its creation ).  It also process the ideal of World Revolution -- with the goal of creating the global neoliberal empire. The neoliberal USA elite is hell-bent on this vision.

Like Trotskyism neoliberalism generally needs a scapegoat. Currently this role is served by Islamic fundamentalist movements.

Also like Bolshevism before, neoliberalism created its own "nomenklatura" -- the privileged class which exists outside the domain of capital owners. Which along with high level management and professionals include neoclassical academic economists. Who guarantee the level of brainwashing at the universities necessary for maintaining the neoliberal system.  This "creator class" fight for its self-preservation and against any challenges. Often quite effectively.

 Deification of markets (free market fundamentalism) like the idea of "dictatorship of proletariat" is "fools gold"

Yet another strong analogy is that the deification of markets much like the idea of "dictatorship of proletariat" is "fools gold". This fact was clearly established after the Great Recession, and one of the most succinct explanation of the stupidity of the idea of self-regulating market remains Karl Polanyi's famous book The Great Transformation.  Polanyi argued that the development of the modern state went hand in hand with the development of modern market economies and that these two changes were inextricably linked in history. And all talk about small state, state as "night watchman" are pure hypocrisy.  Like Marxism, neoliberalism really provides "the great transformation" because it both changes the human institutions and human morality. The latter in a very destructive way.  The book postulated that and "free market society" (where the function of social regulation is outsourced to the market forces)  is unsustainable because it is fatally destructive to human nature and the natural social contexts humans need to survive and prosper. 

Polanyi attempted to turn the tables on the orthodox liberal account of the rise of capitalism by arguing that “laissez-faire was planned”, whereas social protectionism was a spontaneous reaction to the social dislocation imposed by an unrestrained free market. He argues that the construction of a "self-regulating" market necessitates the separation of society into economic and political realms. Polanyi does not deny that the self-regulating market has brought "unheard of material wealth", but he suggests that this is too narrow a focus. The market, once it considers land, labor and money as "fictitious commodities" (fictitious because each possesses qualities that are not expressed in the formal rationality of the market), and including them "means to subordinate the substance of society itself to the laws of the market. This, he argues, results in massive social dislocation, and spontaneous moves by society to protect itself. In effect, Polanyi argues that once the free market attempts to separate itself from the fabric of society, social protectionism is society's natural response, which he calls the "double movement." Polanyi did not see economics as a subject closed off from other fields of enquiry, indeed he saw economic and social problems as inherently linked. He ended his work with a prediction of a socialist society, noting, "after a century of blind 'improvement', man is restoring his 'habitation.

But when 50 years passed and generation changed they manage to shove it down throat. Because the generation which experienced horrors of the Great Depression at this point was gone (and that include cadre of higher level management which still have some level of solidarity with workers against capital owners).

They were replaced with HBS and WBS graduates -- ready made neoliberals. Quit coup (in Simon Johnson terms) naturally  followed ( https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/05/the-quiet-coup/307364/ ) and we have hat we have.  In a sense neoliberalism and Managerialism ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Managerialism ) are closely related.

Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason—the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit—and, most of the time, genteel—oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders. When a country like Indonesia or South Korea or Russia grows, so do the ambitions of its captains of industry. As masters of their mini-universe, these people make some investments that clearly benefit the broader economy, but they also start making bigger and riskier bets. They reckon—correctly, in most cases—that their political connections will allow them to push onto the government any substantial problems that arise.

Neoliberalism in zombie state (which it entered after 2008) remains dangerous and is able to counterattack -- the US sponsored efforts of replacement of left regimes in LA with right wing neoliberal regimes were by-and-large successful. I two key LA countries neoliberalism successfully counterattacked and won political power deposing more left regimes (Brazil and Argentina ). That happened despite that this phase of neoliberal era has been marked by slower growth, greater trade imbalances, and deteriorating social conditions. In Latin America the average growth rate was lower by 3 percent per annum in the 1990s than in the 1970s, while trade deficits as a proportion of GDP are much the same. Contrary to neoliberal propaganda the past 25 years (1980–2005) have also characterized by slower progress on social indicators for the vast majority of low- and middle-income countries [compared with the prior two decades ( https://monthlyreview.org/2006/04/01/neoliberalism-myths-and-reality/ ) :

In an effort to keep growing trade and current account deficits manageable, third world states, often pressured by the IMF and World Bank, used austerity measures (especially draconian cuts in social programs) to slow economic growth (and imports). They also deregulated capital markets, privatized economic activity, and relaxed foreign investment regulatory regimes in an effort to attract the financing needed to offset the existing deficits. While devastating to working people and national development possibilities, these policies were, as intended, responsive to the interests of transnational capital in general and a small but influential sector of third world capital. This is the reality of neoliberalism.

The danger of the end of "cheap oil" for neoliberalism

The Soviet Union collapsed partially due to the fact that collapse of oil prices (which might be engineered event) deprived it of the ability to buy the necessary goods from the West (which at this point included grain, due to inefficiency of Soviet model of  large centralized state owned agricultural complexes).

In case of the USA an opposite situation might also serve as a trigger: as soon as oil cross, say, $80 dollar per barrel mark most Western economies slide in "secular stagnation" and that means growing discontent of lower 80% of population. Also as  globalization is inherently dependent on cheap hydrocarbons and disappearance of cheap oil will male the current international patterns of flow of goods across countries with China as world manufacture  open to review.  

This is the situation when the irresistible force of globalization hits the brick wall of high oil prices. Also high cost of hydrocarbons means "end of growth" (aka permanent stagnation), and neoliberalism financial schemes based on cheap credit automatically implode in the environment of slow of zero growth. So expect that the next financial crisis will shake neoliberalism stronger then the crisis of 2008.

A lot of debt becomes unplayable, if growth stagnates. That makes manipulation of GDP numbers the issue of political and economic survival because this is the method of "inspiring confidence".  And the temptation to inspire confidence is too great to resists. Exactly like it was in the USSR. 

It might well be that the consistent price of oil, say, over $120 is a direct threat to neoliberal project in the USA. Even with prices over $100 the major neoliberal economics  tend to enter the stage of "secular stagnation". It also makes the US military which is a large consumer of oil in the USA much more expensive to run and virtually doubles the costs of  neoliberal "wars for regime change", essentially curtailing neoliberal expansion.

Election of Trump is just testament that some part of the US elite is ready for "Hail Mary" pass just to survive.  The same is true about financiering of color revolutions, which as a new type of neoliberal conquests of other countries, also require a lot of cash, although not at the scale of "boots on the ground".

 Zombie stage of neoliberalism: the consequences of the situation when neoliberal ideology is already discredited

The implosion of the entire global banking/mortgage industry in 2008 has essentially delegitimized neoliberalism as an economic and social model which the U.S. has been pleased to espouse as the royal road to prosperity for decades. It signified the end of Washington Consensus.

At this point ideology of neoliberalism was completely discredited in a sense that promise prosperity for all via "free market" mechanisms. The whole concept of "free markets" is from now on is viewed as fake. Much like happened with bolshevism in the USSR.

It actually was viewed as fake after the Great Depression too, but the generation that remembered that died out and neoliberalism managed to perform its major coup d'état  in the USA in 1981. After trail balls in Chile and GB. 

Also its fake nature became evident to large part of global elite (which probably never have any illusions from the very beginning) as well, which is even more dangerous, a large part of upper middle class in many developing countries, the social strata from which "fifth column of neoliberal globalization" is typically recruited. 

Global neoliberal empire still is supported by pure military and financial power of the USA and its Western (and some Asian, such as Japan) allies as well as technological superiority of the West in general. So right now mainly ideological postulates of neoliberalism, especially as its "free market absolutism", started to be questioned.  And partially revised (the trend which is visible in increase financial regulation in most Western countries). So "self-regulation free market model proved to be niether self-regulating, not really really free -- it just transferred the cost of its blunders on the society at large.  This form of neoliberalism with the core ideology intact but with modified one of several postulates can be called post-neoliberalism or zombie neoliberalism. 

Rule of financial oligarchy like the rule of "nomenklatura" in the USSR is under increasing scrutiny

While indoctrination now reached almost all adult population,  there are some instances of resistance, especially among young people, who are insisting that casino capitalism isa act of violence against them and destruction of their future. And if it does not come to an end, what we might experience a mass destruction of human life if not  the planet itself. 

Both Obama and Trump proved to be masters of the "bait and switch" maneuver, but the anger of population did not dissipated and at some point still can explode.

Rule of financial oligarchy also gradually comes under some (although very limited) scrutiny in the USA. Some measures to restrict appetites of financial oligarchy were recently undertaken in Europe (bank bonuses limitations).

HFT and derivatives still remain off-reach for regulators despite JP Morgan fiasco in May 2012 in London branch. Trade loss was around two billions, decline of bank value was around $13bn (The Guardian) At this stage most people around the world realized that as Warren Buffett's right-hand man Charlie Munger quipped in his CNBC interview Trusting banks to self-regulate is like trusting to self-regulate heroin addicts. At the meeting of the Group of 20 (G20) heads of states in the spring of 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the death of “the Washington Consensus” — the famous list of market-liberalizing policy prescriptions that guided the previous 20 or 30 years of neoliberal expansion into third world countries  (Painter 2009).

Prominent economists in the United States and elsewhere pointed out that after decades of reform, market-liberalizing policies had not produced the promised benefits for either economic growth or social welfare of countries were those policies were applied (Stiglitz 2002, 2006; Rodrik 2006). These criticisms further undermined the legitimacy of neoliberal governance, exactly the same way as similar criticism undermined socialist model of the USSR and Eastern Europe. the probem is that while socialist experiment could be compared with the Western countries capitalism achivement, here there is no alternative model with which to compare.

Still a backlash directed at the USA is mounting even from the former loyal vassals. Even the UK elite starts to display the behavior that contradict its role of the US poodle. The atmosphere is which the USA is considered "guilty" of pushing though the throats of other countries a utopia that harmed them is a different atmosphere for the US oligarchy that the role of it accustomed to.

Everybody is now aware of the substantial costs that the modern financial system has imposed on the real economy and no amount of propaganda and brainwashing can hide this simple fact. It is questionable that the "financial innovations" of the last three-four decades can compensate for those huge costs and that they warrants those costs. Shocks generated within the financial system and transformation of economies imposed by international financial oligarchy as the core of neoliberal elite, implies that the rule of financial oligarchy creates negative externalities for societies and that some types of financial activities and some financial structures should be treated like an organized crime (as purely parasitic, extortionist type of players).

Still this stage preserves several attributes of previous stage and first of all push for globalization and aggressive foreign policy. While economic crisis of 2008 destroyed legitimacy of ideology of neoliberalism, neoliberalism as an ideology continue to exists as a cult, much like communism as an ideology continues to exist, despite the failure of the USSR. And being phony ideology from the very beginning, a smokescreen for  the revanchism of financial oligarchy, it still can be promoted by unrelenting propaganda machine of the same forces which put it into mainstream albeit with les efficiency.  

Rise of nationalism as the reaction on neoliberal globalization
much like it was a reaction on Brezhnev's stagnation in the USSR

While no viable alternatives emerged, and inertia is still strong, and G7 block with the USA as the head is still the dominant world power, the crash are now visible in the global neoliberalism facede.  Like in 20th failure the globalization and unrestrained financial markets (which produced the Great Depression)  the financial crisi of 2008 led to the dramic rise of nationalism, especially in Europe (France, Hundary, Ukraine). In some countries, such as Ukraine, the net result of neoliberal revolution was establishing  far right regime which has uncanny similarities to the régimes which came to power in 30th such as Franko regime in Spain.  The global neoliberal dominance as a social system still continues, it is just the central idea of neoliberalism, the fake idea of self-regulating market that was completely discredited by the crisis (it was discredited before during Great Depression, but the generation the remembered the lesson is now extinct (it looks like it takes approximately 50 years for humanity to completely forget the lessons of history ;-).

This rise of nationalism was also a feature of the USSR political space in 80th. Formally it was nationalist sentiments that buried the USSR.

Around the world, economists and policymakers now come to consensus that excessive reliance on unregulated financial markets and the unrestrained rule of financial oligarchy was the root cause of the current worldwide financial crisis. That created a more difficult atmosphere for the USA financial institutions to operate abroad. Several countries are now trying to limit role of dollar as the world currency (one of the sins Saddam Hussein paid the price).

Also internal contradictions became much deeper and the neoliberal regime became increasingly unstable even in the citadel of neoliberalism -- the USA. Like any overstretched empire it became hollow within with stretches on potholes ridden roads and decaying infrastructure visible to everyone. Politically, the Republican Party became a roadblock for any meaningful reform (and its radical wing -- the tea party even sending its representatives to Congress), the Party that is determined to rather take the USA the road of the USSR, then change its ideology. All this points to the fact that neoliberalism as an socio-economic doctrine is following the path of Bolshevism.

Neoliberal propaganda gradually lost effectiveness,
 and now  invokes internal protest and rejection much like Marxist propaganda in the USSR

Neoliberalism failed to fulfill its promises for the bottom 80% of population. They became more poorer, job security deteriorated, good jobs dissaper, and even McJobs are scare judging from the fact that Wall Mart and McDonalds are able to fully staff their outlets.  McJobs are jobs that does not provide a living wages.  Opiod epidemics reminds me epidemics of alcoholism int he USSR during Brezhnev period.  Cannabis legalization belong to the same trend.

But its media dominance of neoliberalism paradoxically continues unabated. And this is despite the fact that after the crisis of 2008, the notion that finance mobilizes and allocates resources efficiently, drastically reduces systemic risks and brings significant productivity gains for the economy as a whole became untenable. We can expect that like was the case with Catholicism in middle ages and Bolshevism in the USSR, zombie phase of neoliberalism can last many decades (in the USSR, "zombie" state lasted two decades, say from 1970 to 1991, and neoliberalism with its emphasis on low human traits such as greed and supported by military and economic power of the USA, is considerably more resilient then Bolshevism). As of 2013 it is still supported by elites of several major western states (such as the USA, GB, Germany, France), transnational capital (and financial capital in particular) and respective elites out of the sense of self-preservation. That means that is it reasonable to expect that its rule in G7 will continue (like Bolshevism rule in the USSR in 70th-80th) despite probably interrupted by bursts of social violence (Muslim immigrants in Europe are once such force).

In the US, for example, income and wealth inequality continue to increase, with stagnating middle-class earnings, reduced social mobility, and an allegedly meritocratic higher education system, generously supported by tax exemptions, has been turned into the system whose main beneficiaries are the children of the rich and successful. Superimposed on this class divide is an increasingly serious intergenerational divide, and increases level of unemployment of young people, which make social atmosphere somewhat similar to the one in Egypt, although the pressure from Muslim fundamentalists is absent.

More and more neoliberalism came to be perceived as a ruse intended to safeguard the interests of a malignantly narcissistic empire (the USA) and of rapacious multinationals. It is now more and more linked with low-brow cultural homogeneity, social Darwinism, encroachment on privacy, mass production of junk, and suppression of national sentiments and aspiration in favor of transnational monopolies. It even came to be associated with a bewildering variety of social ills: rising crime rates, unemployment, poverty, drug addiction, prostitution, organ trafficking, and other antisocial forms of conduct.

While ideology of neoliberalism is by-and-large discredited, the global economic institutions associated with its rise are not all equally moribund. For example, the global economic crisis of 2008 has unexpectedly improved the fortunes of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), an organization long famous for the neoliberal policy conditions attached to its loans that served to incorporate countries into a global neoliberal economic system. In 2008, a cascade of financial crises in Eastern Europe and Iceland fattened the IMF’s dwindling loan portfolio.

World Trade Organization (WTO), the key US-used and abused universal opener of markets to US corporations and investments is in worse shape then IMF, but still is able to enforce Washington concensus rules. The Doha round of negotiations is stalled, mostly due to irresolvable disputes between developed and developing countries. Consequently, the current crisis of neoliberalism raises many important questions about the future path of the current international institutions promoting the neoliberal order. But still Russia joined WTO in 2012 which means that this organization got a new lease of life.

The slide to "Neoliberalism in name only" under Trump

When ideology collapses the elite often reports to corporatism (and in extreme case to neo-fascism) That happened briefly in the USSR under Andropov, but he did not last long enough to establish a trend.

Trumps "bastard neoliberalism (neoliberalism without neoliberal globalization) mixed with economic nationalism can be called "neoliberalism in name only". Trump foreign economic policies lookmore and more more like an economic aggression, economic racket, then a an economic platform. Nonetheless, that "neoliberalism in name only" is still a powerful global "brand" which the U.S. seeks to maintain at all costs for macro geopolitical reasons (The Great Crash, 2008: A Geopolitical Setback for the West , Foreign Affairs)

The financial and economic crash of 2008, the worst in over 75 years, is a major geopolitical setback for the United States and Europe. Over the medium term, Washington and European governments will have neither the resources nor the economic credibility to play the role in global affairs that they otherwise would have played. These weaknesses will eventually be repaired, but in the interim, they will accelerate trends that are shifting the world's center of gravity away from the United States.

A brutal recession is unfolding in the United States, Europe, and probably Japan -- a recession likely to be more harmful than the slump of 1981-82. The current financial crisis has deeply frightened consumers and businesses, and in response they have sharply retrenched. In addition, the usual recovery tools used by governments -- monetary and fiscal stimuli -- will be relatively ineffective under the circumstances.

This damage has put the American model of free-market capitalism under a cloud. The financial system is seen as having collapsed; and the regulatory framework, as having spectacularly failed to curb widespread abuses and corruption. Now, searching for stability, the U.S. government and some European governments have nationalized their financial sectors to a degree that contradicts the tenets of modern capitalism.

Much of the world is turning a historic corner and heading into a period in which the role of the state will be larger and that of the private sector will be smaller. As it does, the United States' global power, as well as the appeal of U.S.-style democracy, is eroding.

The USSR war in Afghanistan and the rampant militarism of the US neoliberal empire:
you can do anything with bayonets, but you can't sit on them

The USSR occupation of Afghanistan was actually a trap created by Carter administration in order to weaken and possibly destroy  the USSR. They wanted that the USSR experienced its own Vietnam-style defeat.  As a side effect they created political Islam and Islam fundamentalist movement (exemplified by former CIA asset Osama bin Laden) that later bite them in the back.

The US elite got into this trap voluntarily after 9/11: first via occupations of  Afghanistan (the war continues to this day), then occupation of Iraq, Lybia and initiating "color revolution" (and train and supply Sunni Islam fundamentalists, along with KSA and Turkey) to depose Assad government in Syria.

The USA still remains the most powerful country in the world with formidable military, and still can dictate it will military for small countries in a classic sense --  in a sense that "might makes right". It still can afford to behave as a word hegemon and the only source of justice ignoring the UN and other International organization, unless it is convenient to them.

But there are costs attacked and in case of Iraq war they are already substantial (to the tune of several trillion dollars). While effects on the USA economy of those set of wars of managing and expanding its neoliberal empire (and repartitioning ME, securing oil access and repartitioning the region in favor of Israel regional interests)  are still in the future, military adventurism was a gravestone on many previous empires, which tend to overstretch themselves and this fasten thier final day. 

As Napoleon noted "You can do anything with bayonets, but you can't sit on them". having first class military weakns is not everything when you face gurilla resisance in occupied country. Running aggressive foreign policy on a discredited ideology and relying on blunt propaganda and false flag operations is a difficult undertaking as resistance mounts and bubble out in un-anticipated areas.

Ukraine is one recent example, when neoliberal color revolution, which was performed by few thousands trained by the West far right militants, including openly neo-fascist squads, led to civil war in the country. Syria is another case of unanticipated effects, as Russia did not want to repeat experience of Libya and intervened, interfering with the USA goal of establishing Sunni-based Islamist regime, subservant to KSA and Turkey, and/or dismembering the country and creating   several weak Sunny dominated statelets with jihadists in power, the situation which greatly  benefit Turkey and Israel.  Israel correctly consider secular Assad régime as a greater threat and major obstacle in annexation of Golan Heights and eliminating Hezbollah in Lebanon.  It would prefer weak islamist regimes, hopefully engaged in protracted civil war to Assad regime any time.

Unfortunately, the recent troika of "neoliberalized" countries -- Libya, Syria  and Ukraine --  were not probably a swan song of muscular enforcement of neoliberal model on other countries. While sponsored by the USA and allies anti-Putin putsch in Russia (aka "white revolution") failed, events in Libya and, especially,  Ukraine prove the neoliberalism still can launch and win offensives at relatively low, acceptable cost (via color revolutions mechanism ). The main cost carry the population of the target country which is plunged  into economic and political chaos, in most cases including the civil war.  

But in the USA those wars also somewhat backfire with broken domestic infrastructure, decaying bridges and angered, restless, and partially drugged by opioids  population.  As well as thousands of crippled young men healthcare for whom till end of their lives will cost large amount of money.

In such circumstances chances of raising to power of an openly nationalistic leader substantially increase. Which was already demonstrated quite convincingly by the election of Trump.

Conclusions

Analogy of current crisis of neoliberalism int he USA and the USSR collapse is demonstrably far from perfect. The USSR was always in far less favorable conditions   then USA, operating is a hostile environment encircled by Western powers interested in its demise; also the collapse of the USSR happened during "triumphal march of neoliberalism" which provided ready-made alternative to Brezhnev's socialism and stimulated the betrayal of Soviet nomenklatura of their old ideology and "switching ideological camps").  But the key to collapse of the USSR was   the collapse of Bolshevik's ideology, which has happened some time from 1945 to 1963.

Still it allows to point out some  alarming similarities. Which does not bode well for the USA future, if the hypothesis that the same fundamental forces are in play in both cases. In this sense the collapse of neoliberal ideology ("free market fundamentalism"), which happened in  2008 is a bad sign indeed. .

There is still a chance that the US elite proves to be flexible and manage to escape this "ideological mousetrap" by switching to some new ideology, but they are pretty weak, if we look at the quality of Trump administration and the personalities in the USA Congress. Some of them too closely correspond to the depiction of sociopaths to stay comfortable.  The same was true about certain parts of Soviet "nomenklatura", especially leaders of Komsomol (All-Union Leninist Young Communist League ), from which such questionable post-communist figures such a Khodorkovsky, in Russia (of "pipes and corpses" film fame), and Turchinov in Ukraine  later emerged.

The recent humiliation of the US representative in the UN Nikki Haley by Bolivian representative also suggest that neoliberal propaganda lost large part of its effectiveness and unilateral military actions by the USA are now questioned more effectively: Bolivian UN Rep Sacha Llorenti Blasts U.S. for Attacking Syria, Educates Nikki Haley on Iraq, UN & U.S. History

Llorenti’s fourteen minute address to the UNSC was a tour de force – a critique of unilateral military action by the U.S. (it violates the UN charter), an analysis of previous emotional appeals for urgent action (think Colin Powell in 2003), as well as a reminder of the United States’ long history of interventionism in Latin America. Llorenti also called the UNSC to task for its internal structure, which grants considerably more power upon its five permanent members than it does its ten non-permanent members.

It was a remarkable anti-imperialist display. Read a partial transcript and/or watch the full video below.

That closely corresponds to what had happened with Bolshevism ideology around 1980 -- when it became the source of jokes both inside the USSR and abroad.  Or a little bit later, if we remember "Tear down this wall!" -- a line from a speech made by US President Ronald Reagan in West Berlin on June 12, 1987. When  Paul Craig Roberts  claims that It Has Become Embarrassing To Be An American  that is a symptom of a problem, yet another symptom of the demise of neoliberal propaganda,  despite obvious exaggeration.

It would be  too much stretch to state that neoliberal and especially globalist propaganda is now rejected both by population within the USA (which resulted in defeat of Hillary Clinton -- an establishment candidates and election of the  "wild card" candidate  -- Donald Trump -- with clearly nationalistic impulses) and outside the USA. 

 


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[Dec 12, 2017] The end of neoliberalism

Dec 12, 2017 | www.weforum.org

World Economic Forum

A similar trend can be seen at the organizational level. A recent study by Erling Bath, Alex Bryson, James Davis, and Richard Freeman showed that the diffusion of individual pay since the 1970s is associated with pay differences between, not within, companies. The Stanford economists Nicholas Bloom and David Price confirmed this finding, and argue that virtually the entire increase in income inequality in the US is rooted in the growing gap in average wages paid by firms. Such outcomes are the result not just of inevitable structural shifts, but also of decisions about how to handle those shifts. In the late 1970s, as neoliberalism took hold, policymakers became less concerned about big firms converting profits into political influence, and instead worried that governments were protecting uncompetitive companies. With this in mind, policymakers began to dismantle the economic rules and regulations that had been implemented after the Great Depression, and encouraged vertical and horizontal mergers. These decisions played a major role in enabling a new wave of globalization, which increasingly diffused growth and wealth across countries, but also laid the groundwork for the concentration of income and wealth within countries. The growing "platform economy" is a case in point. In China, the e-commerce giant Alibaba is leading a massive effort to connect rural areas to national and global markets, including through its consumer-to-consumer platform Taobao. That effort entails substantial diffusion: in more than 1,000 rural Chinese communities – so-called " Taobao Villages " – over 10% of the population now makes a living by selling products on Taobao. But, as Alibaba helps to build an inclusive economy comprising millions of mini-multinationals, it is also expanding its own market power. Policymakers now need a new approach that resists excessive concentration, which may create efficiency gains, but also allows firms to hoard profits and invest less. Of course, Joseph Schumpeter famously argued that one need not worry too much about monopoly rents, because competition would quickly erase the advantage. But corporate performance in recent decades paints a different picture: 80% of the firms that made a return of 25% or more in 2003 were still doing so ten years later. (In the 1990s, that share stood at about 50% .) Have you read? To counter such concentration, policymakers should, first, implement smarter competition laws that focus not only on market share or pricing power, but also on the many forms of rent extraction, from copyright and patent rules that allow incumbents to cash in on old discoveries to the misuse of network centrality. The question is not "how big is too big," but how to differentiate between "good" and "bad" bigness. The answer hinges on the balance businesses strike between value capture and creation. Moreover, policymakers need to make it easier for startups to scale up. A vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem remains the most effective antidote to rent extraction. Digital ledger technologies, for instance, have the potential to curb the power of large oligopolies more effectively than heavy-handed policy interventions. Yet economies must not rely on markets alone to bring about the "churn" that capitalism so badly needs. Indeed, even as policymakers pay lip service to entrepreneurship, the number of startups has declined in many advanced economies. Finally, policymakers must move beyond the neoliberal conceit that those who work hard and play by the rules are those who will rise. After all, the flipside of that perspective, which rests on a fundamental belief in the equalizing effect of the market, is what Michael Sandel calls our " meritocratic hubris ": the misguided idea that success (and failure) is up to us alone. This implies that investments in education and skills training, while necessary, will not be sufficient to reduce inequality. Policies that tackle structural biases head-on – from minimum wages to, potentially, universal basic income schemes – are also needed. Neoliberal economics has reached a breaking point, causing the traditional left-right political divide to be replaced by a different split: between those seeking forms of growth that are less inclined toward extreme concentration and those who want to end concentration by closing open markets and societies. Both sides challenge the old orthodoxies; but while one seeks to remove the "neo" from neoliberalism, the other seeks to dismantle liberalism altogether. The neoliberal age had its day. It is time to define what comes next.

[Dec 11, 2017] Jihad vs. McWorld

This was a pretty profitc book, if you think that it was publishe in 1995. At the same time neoliberalm is not atolerant isther and we can talk about "neoliberal jihad"
Notable quotes:
"... As neoliberal economic theory -- not to be confused with social liberalism -- is the force behind globalization, this critique is relevant on a much larger scale. ..."
"... Barber argues that there are several imperatives that make up the McWorld, or the globalization of politics : a market imperative, a resource imperative, an information-technology imperative, and an ecological imperative. Due to globalization, our market has expanded and is vulnerable to the transnational markets where free trade, easy access to banking and exchange of currency are available. ..."
"... Barber sees Jihad as offering solidarity and protecting identities, but at the potential cost of tolerance and stability. ..."
Dec 11, 2017 | en.wikipedia.org
Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism Are Reshaping the World is a 1995 book by American political scientist Benjamin Barber , in which he puts forth a theory that describes the struggle between "McWorld" ( globalization and the corporate control of the political process) and " Jihad " (Arabic term for "struggle", here modified to mean tradition and traditional values , in the form of extreme nationalism or religious orthodoxy and theocracy ). Benjamin Barber similarly questions the impact of economic globalization as well as its problems for democracy.

The book was based on a March 1992 article by Barber first published in The Atlantic Monthly . [1] The book employs the basic critique of neoliberalism seen in Barber's earlier, seminal work Strong Democracy . As neoliberal economic theory -- not to be confused with social liberalism -- is the force behind globalization, this critique is relevant on a much larger scale. Unregulated market forces encounter parochial (which he calls tribal ) forces.

These tribal forces come in many varieties: religious, cultural, ethnic, regional, local, etc. As globalization imposes a culture of its own on a population, the tribal forces feel threatened and react. More than just economic, the crises that arise from these confrontations often take on a sacred quality to the tribal elements; thus Barber's use of the term "Jihad" (although in the second edition, he expresses regret at having used that term). [ why? ]

Barber's prognosis in Jihad vs McWorld is generally negative -- he concludes that neither global corporations nor traditional cultures are supportive of democracy . He further posits that McWorld could ultimately win the "struggle". He also proposes a model for small, local democratic institutions and civic engagement as the hope for an alternative to these two forces.

Problems for democracy edit

Barber states that neither Jihad nor McWorld needs or promotes democracy. [2]

McWorld edit

Barber argues that there are several imperatives that make up the McWorld, or the globalization of politics : a market imperative, a resource imperative, an information-technology imperative, and an ecological imperative. Due to globalization, our market has expanded and is vulnerable to the transnational markets where free trade, easy access to banking and exchange of currency are available. With the emergence of our markets, we have come up with international laws and treaties in order to maintain stability and efficiency in the interconnected economy. Resources are also an imperative aspect in the McWorld, where autarky seems insufficient and inefficient in presence of globalization. The information-technology of globalization has opened up communications to people all over the world, allowing us to exchange information. Also, technology is now systematically integrated into everyone's lives to the point where it "gives every person on earth access to every other person". [3] Globalization of ecology may seem cliche; Barber argues that whatever a nation does to their own ecology, it affects everyone on earth. For instance, cutting down a jungle will upset the overall oxygen balance, which affects our "global lungs". McWorld may promote peace and prosperity, but Barber sees this as being done at the cost of independence and identity , and notes that no more social justice or equality than necessary are needed to promote efficient economic production and consumption.

Jihad edit

Barber sees Jihad as offering solidarity and protecting identities, but at the potential cost of tolerance and stability. Barber describes the solidarity needed within the concept of Jihad as being secured through exclusion and war against outsiders. As a result, he argues, different forms of anti-democratization can arise through anti-democratic one-party dictatorships, military juntas, or theocratic fundamentalism. Barber also describes through modern day examples what these 'players' are. "they are cultures, not countries; parts, not wholes; sects, not religions, rebellious factions and dissenting minorities at war not just with globalism but with the traditional nation-state. Kurds, Basques, Puerto Ricans, Ossetians, East Timoreans, Quebecois, the Catholics of Northern Ireland, Catalans, Tamils, and of course, Palestinians- people with countries, inhabiting nations not their own, seeking smaller worlds within borders that will seal them off from modernity." [4]

Confederal option edit

Barber writes democracy can be spread and secured through the world satisfying the needs of both the McWorld and Jihad. "With its concern for accountability, the protection of minorities, and the universal rule of law, a confederalized representative system would serve the political needs of McWorld as well as oligarchic bureaucratism or meritocratic elitism is currently doing." [4] Some can accept democracy faster than others. Every case is different, however "Democracy grows from the bottom up and cannot be imposed from the top down. Civil society has to be built from the inside out." [1] He goes on to further explain exactly what the confederal option means and how it will help. "It certainly seems possible that the most attractive democratic ideal in the face of the brutal realities of Jihad and the dull realities of McWorld will be a confederal union of semi autonomous communities smaller than nation-states, tied together into regional economic associations and markets larger than nation-states -- participatory and self-determining in local matters at the bottom, representative and accountable at the top. The nation-state would play a diminished role, and sovereignty would lose some of its political potency." [4]

[Dec 11, 2017] Religion has de-legitimized itself with its hypocrisy

Should probably be "neoliberal religion has de-legitimized itself with its hypocrisy
Notable quotes:
"... Sorry, as a church-attending person, I object. Religion has de-legitimized itself with its hypocrisy. One example: Jerry Falwell, a "battler" against abortion actually supported it before his plutocratic masters told him it was a wedge issue. ..."
"... Michael Hudso says Jesus' first appearance in the Jerusalem temple was to announce just such a Jubilee Boy is that ever ignored! ..."
"... Your correlating the hypocritical actions of the leadership with the ideals of a religion. Corrupt leadership may delegitimize those individuals but does not delegitimize the ideals of the religion. Is the ideal of America totally dependent on the actions of its political leadership? Personally, I think there is far more to America than just the president and congress whether corrupt or not. ..."
"... What is or are the ideal(s) of "America?" Get rich quick, violence on all fronts, anti-intellectualism, imperial project across the planet? "Democracy?" If you trot that out as a "feature", you better explain what you mean, with some specificity. More to America? If youtube is any guide, try searching it for "syria combat" or "redneck" or "full auto," or all the really sick racist and extreme stuff - a pretty sorry place. But we all recite the Pledge so dutifully, don't we? and feel a thrill as the F-22s swoop over the football stadium? ..."
Apr 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Adam Eran, April 17, 2017 at 1:31 pm

Sorry, as a church-attending person, I object. Religion has de-legitimized itself with its hypocrisy. One example: Jerry Falwell, a "battler" against abortion actually supported it before his plutocratic masters told him it was a wedge issue.

Positions on the wedge issues (abortion, the gays) are actually difficult to prove with scripture–not that it has the kind of authority it did before 35,000 variations on old manuscripts were discovered in the 17th century. (Marcus Borg is the scholar to consult here).

Meanwhile, the big issues - e.g. covetousness, forbidden very explicitly in one of the 10 commandments - is an *industry* in the U.S.

I'll believe these evangelicals are guided by the bible when I see them picketing Madison Avenue for promoting covetousness, or when I see them lobbying for a debt jubilee.

Michael Hudso says Jesus' first appearance in the Jerusalem temple was to announce just such a Jubilee Boy is that ever ignored!

Jagger , April 17, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Your correlating the hypocritical actions of the leadership with the ideals of a religion. Corrupt leadership may delegitimize those individuals but does not delegitimize the ideals of the religion. Is the ideal of America totally dependent on the actions of its political leadership? Personally, I think there is far more to America than just the president and congress whether corrupt or not.

hunkerdown , April 17, 2017 at 5:00 pm

Ideals only serve in practice to create primordial debts, buttress power differentials, and enable selective malfeasance. I fail to see the social utility of any of those products and believe humanity would be better off repudiating them and their vectors. Disease is not a public good.

Jagger , April 17, 2017 at 7:57 pm

Well I am using this definition of ideal: "a person or thing conceived as embodying such a conception or conforming to such a standard, and taken as a model for imitation". I guess you are welcome to your definition.

JTMcPhee , April 17, 2017 at 5:10 pm

I think "America" is maybe a shibboleth of some sort, but there is not a dam' thing left of the stuff I was taught and brought to believe, as a young person, Boy Scout, attendee at the Presbyterian Westminster Fellowship, attentive student of Mrs. Thompson and Mr. Fleming in Civics, Social Studies and US History classes, and all that. I was well enough steeped in that stuff to let "patriotism" overcome better sense, strongly enough to enlist in the Army in 1966.

Maybe you think "The Birth of a Nation" captures the essence of our great country?

What is or are the ideal(s) of "America?" Get rich quick, violence on all fronts, anti-intellectualism, imperial project across the planet? "Democracy?" If you trot that out as a "feature", you better explain what you mean, with some specificity. More to America? If youtube is any guide, try searching it for "syria combat" or "redneck" or "full auto," or all the really sick racist and extreme stuff - a pretty sorry place. But we all recite the Pledge so dutifully, don't we? and feel a thrill as the F-22s swoop over the football stadium?

[Dec 11, 2017] Jihad vs. McWorld - Wikipedia

Dec 11, 2017 | en.wikipedia.org

Jihad vs. McWorld From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation , search

Jihad vs. McWorld
Jihad vs McWorld.jpg Cover to the paperback edition
Author Benjamin Barber
Country United States
Language English
Genre Political science
Publisher Times Books
Publication date 1995
Media type Print ( Hardcover )
Pages 381
ISBN 978-0-812-92350-6
OCLC 31969451
Dewey Decimal 909.82/9 21
LC Class HM201 .B37 1996

Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism Are Reshaping the World is a 1995 book by American political scientist Benjamin Barber , in which he puts forth a theory that describes the struggle between "McWorld" ( globalization and the corporate control of the political process) and " Jihad " (Arabic term for "struggle", here modified to mean tradition and traditional values , in the form of extreme nationalism or religious orthodoxy and theocracy ). Benjamin Barber similarly questions the impact of economic globalization as well as its problems for democracy.

The book was based on a March 1992 article by Barber first published in The Atlantic Monthly . [1] The book employs the basic critique of neoliberalism seen in Barber's earlier, seminal work Strong Democracy . As neoliberal economic theory -- not to be confused with social liberalism -- is the force behind globalization, this critique is relevant on a much larger scale. Unregulated market forces encounter parochial (which he calls tribal ) forces.

These tribal forces come in many varieties: religious, cultural, ethnic, regional, local, etc. As globalization imposes a culture of its own on a population, the tribal forces feel threatened and react. More than just economic, the crises that arise from these confrontations often take on a sacred quality to the tribal elements; thus Barber's use of the term "Jihad" (although in the second edition, he expresses regret at having used that term). [ why? ]

Barber's prognosis in Jihad vs McWorld is generally negative -- he concludes that neither global corporations nor traditional cultures are supportive of democracy . He further posits that McWorld could ultimately win the "struggle". He also proposes a model for small, local democratic institutions and civic engagement as the hope for an alternative to these two forces.

Contents [ hide ] Problems for democracy edit

Barber states that neither Jihad nor McWorld needs or promotes democracy. [2]

McWorld edit

Barber argues that there are several imperatives that make up the McWorld, or the globalization of politics : a market imperative, a resource imperative, an information-technology imperative, and an ecological imperative. Due to globalization, our market has expanded and is vulnerable to the transnational markets where free trade, easy access to banking and exchange of currency are available. With the emergence of our markets, we have come up with international laws and treaties in order to maintain stability and efficiency in the interconnected economy. Resources are also an imperative aspect in the McWorld, where autarky seems insufficient and inefficient in presence of globalization. The information-technology of globalization has opened up communications to people all over the world, allowing us to exchange information. Also, technology is now systematically integrated into everyone's lives to the point where it "gives every person on earth access to every other person". [3] Globalization of ecology may seem cliche; Barber argues that whatever a nation does to their own ecology, it affects everyone on earth. For instance, cutting down a jungle will upset the overall oxygen balance, which affects our "global lungs". McWorld may promote peace and prosperity, but Barber sees this as being done at the cost of independence and identity , and notes that no more social justice or equality than necessary are needed to promote efficient economic production and consumption.

Jihad edit

Barber sees Jihad as offering solidarity and protecting identities, but at the potential cost of tolerance and stability. Barber describes the solidarity needed within the concept of Jihad as being secured through exclusion and war against outsiders. As a result, he argues, different forms of anti-democratization can arise through anti-democratic one-party dictatorships, military juntas, or theocratic fundamentalism. Barber also describes through modern day examples what these 'players' are. "they are cultures, not countries; parts, not wholes; sects, not religions, rebellious factions and dissenting minorities at war not just with globalism but with the traditional nation-state. Kurds, Basques, Puerto Ricans, Ossetians, East Timoreans, Quebecois, the Catholics of Northern Ireland, Catalans, Tamils, and of course, Palestinians- people with countries, inhabiting nations not their own, seeking smaller worlds within borders that will seal them off from modernity." [4]

Confederal option edit

Barber writes democracy can be spread and secured through the world satisfying the needs of both the McWorld and Jihad. "With its concern for accountability, the protection of minorities, and the universal rule of law, a confederalized representative system would serve the political needs of McWorld as well as oligarchic bureaucratism or meritocratic elitism is currently doing." [4] Some can accept democracy faster than others. Every case is different, however "Democracy grows from the bottom up and cannot be imposed from the top down. Civil society has to be built from the inside out." [1] He goes on to further explain exactly what the confederal option means and how it will help. "It certainly seems possible that the most attractive democratic ideal in the face of the brutal realities of Jihad and the dull realities of McWorld will be a confederal union of semi autonomous communities smaller than nation-states, tied together into regional economic associations and markets larger than nation-states -- participatory and self-determining in local matters at the bottom, representative and accountable at the top. The nation-state would play a diminished role, and sovereignty would lose some of its political potency." [4]

[Dec 10, 2017] blamePutin continues to be the media's dominant hashtag. Vladimir Putin finally confesses his entire responsibility for everything bad that has ever happened since the beginning of time

Highly recommended!
Dec 10, 2017 | off-guardian.org

by VT

The decline of the falsely self-described "quality" media outlet The Guardian/Observer into a deranged fake news site pushing anti-Russian hate propaganda continues apace. Take a look at this gem :

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has accused prominent British businessman Bill Browder of being a "serial killer" – the latest extraordinary attempt by the Kremlin to frame one of its most high-profile public enemies.

But Putin has not been reported anywhere else as making any recent statement about Browder whatever, and the Observer article makes no further mention of Putin's supposed utterance or the circumstances in which it was supposedly made.

As the rest of the article makes clear, the suspicions against Browder were actually voiced by Russian police investigators and not by Putin at all.

The Observer fabricated a direct quote from the Russian president for their propaganda purposes without any regard to basic journalistic standards. They wanted to blame Putin personally for the suspicions of some Russian investigators, so they just invented an imaginary statement from him so they could conveniently do so.

What is really going on here is the classic trope of demonisation propaganda in which the demonised leader is conflated with all officials of their government and with the targeted country itself, so as to simplify and personalise the narrative of the subsequent Two Minutes Hate to be unleashed against them.

When, as in this case, the required substitution of the demonised leader for their country can't be wrung out of the facts even through the most vigorous twisting, a disreputable fake news site like The Guardian/Observer is free to simply make up new, alternative facts that better fit their disinformative agenda. Because facts aren't at all sacred when the official propaganda line demands lies.

In the same article, the documents from Russian investigators naming Browder as a suspect in certain crimes are first "seen as" a frame-up (by the sympathetic chorus of completely anonymous observers yellow journalism can always call on when an unsupported claim needs a spurious bolstering) and then outright labelled as such (see quote above) as if this alleged frame-up is a proven fact. Which it isn't.

No evidence is required down there in the Guardian/Observer journalistic gutter before unsupported claims against Russian officials can be treated as unquestionable pseudo-facts, just as opponents of Putin can commit no crime for the outlet's hate-befuddled hacks.

The above falsifications were brought to the attention of the Observer's so-called Readers Editor – the official at the Guardian/Observer responsible for "independently" defending the outlet's misdeeds against outraged readers – who did nothing. By now the article has rolled off the site's front page, rendering any possible future correction nugatory in any case.

Later in the same article Magnitsky is described as having been Browder's "tax lawyer" a standard trope of the Western propaganda narrative about the case. Magnitsky was actually an accountant .

A trifecta of fakery in one article! That makes crystal clear what the Guardian meant in this article , published at precisely the same moment as the disinformation cited above, when it said:

"We know what you are doing," Theresa May said of Russia. It's not enough to know. We need to do something about it.

By "doing something about it" they mean they're going to tell one hostile lie about Russia after another.


michaelk says November 26, 2017

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/nov/26/big-issue-who-will-step-in-after-bullies-have-silenced-dissenters

From the 'liberal' Guardian/Observer wing of the rightwing bourgeois press, spot the differences with the article in the Mail on Sunday by Nick Robinson?

michaelk says November 26, 2017
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-5117723/Nick-Robinson-Putin-using-fake-news-weaken-West.html

This thing seems to have been cobbled together by a guy called Nick Robinson. The same BBC Nick Robinson that hosts the Today Programme? I dunno, one feels really rather depressed at how low our media has sunk.

michaelk says November 23, 2017
I think huge swathes of the media, in the eyes of many people, have never really recovered from the ghastly debacle that was their dreadful coverage of the reasons for the illegal attack on Iraq.

The journalists want us to forget and move on, but many, many, people still remember. Nothing happened afterwards. There was no tribunal to examine the media's role in that massive international crime against humanity and things actually got worse post Iraq, which the attack on Libya and Syria illustrates.

rtj1211 says November 29, 2017
Exactly: in my opinion there should be life sentences banning scribblers who printed lies and bloodthirsty kill, kill, kill articles from ever working again in the media.

Better still, make them go fight right now in Yemen. Amazing how quickly truth will spread if journalists know they have a good chance of dying if they print lies and falsehoods ..

michaelk says November 23, 2017
At a time when the ruling elite, across virtually the entire western world, is losing it; it being, political legitimacy and the breakdown of any semblance of a social contract between the ruled and the rulers the Guardian lurches even further to the political right . amazing, though not really surprising. The Guardian's role appears to be to 'coral' radical and leftist ideas and opinions and 'groom' the educated middle class into accepting their own subjugation.

The Guardian's writers get so much, so wrong, so often it's staggering and nobody gets the boot, except for the people who allude to the incompetence at the heart of the Guardian. They fail dismally on Trump, Brexit and Corbyn and yet carry on as if everything is fine and dandy. Nothing to complain about here, mover along now.

I suppose it's because they are actually media aristocrats living in a world of privilege, and they, as members of the ruling elite, look after one another regardless of how poorly they actually perform. This is typical of an elite that's on the ropes and doomed. They choose to retreat from grubby reality into a parallel world where their own dogmas aren't challenged and they begin to believe their propaganda is real and not an artificial contruct. This is incredibly dangerous for a ruling elite because society becomes brittle and weaker by the day as the ruling dogmas become hollow and ritualized, but without traction in reality and real purpose.

The Guardian is a bit like the Tory government, lost and without any real ideas or ideals. The slow strangulation of the CIF symbolizes the crisis of confidence at the Guardian. A strong and confident ruling class welcomes criticism and is ready to brush it all off with a smile and a shrug. When they start running scared and pretending there is no dissent or opposition, well, this is a sign of decadence and profound weakness. They are losing the battle of ideas and the battle of solutions to our problems. All that really stands between them and a social revolution is a thin veneer of 'authority' and status, and that's really not enough anymore.

All our problems are pathetically and conviniently blamed on the Russians and their Demon King and his vast army of evil Trolls. It's like a political version of the Lord of the Rings.

WeatherEye says November 21, 2017
Don't expect the Guardian to cover the biggest military build-up (NATO) on Russia's borders since Hitler's 1941 invasion.

John Pilger has described the "respectable" liberal press (Guardian, NYT etc) as the most effective component of the propaganda system, precisely BECAUSE it is respectable and trusted. As to why the Guardian is so insistent in demonising Russia, I would propose that is integrates them further with a Brexit-ridden Tory government. Its Blairite columnists prefer May over Corbyn any day.

rtj1211 says November 29, 2017
The Guardian is now owned by Neocon Americans, that is why it is demonising Russia. Simple as that.
WeatherEye says November 29, 2017
Evidence?
Harry Stotle says November 21, 2017
The Guardian is trying to rescue citizens from 'dreadful dangers that we cannot see, or do not understand' – in other words they play a central role in 'the power of nightmares' https://www.youtube.com/embed/LlA8KutU2to
rtj1211 says November 21, 2017
So Russians cannot do business in America but Americans must be protected to do business in Russia?

If you look at Ukraine and how US corporations are benefitting from the US-funded coup, you ask what the US did in Russia in the 1990s and the effect it had on US business and ordinary Russian people. Were the two consistent with a common US template of economic imperialism?

In particular, you ask what Bill Browder was doing, his links to US spying organisations etc etc. You ask if he supported the rape of Russian State assets, turned a blind eye to the millions of Russians dying in the 1990s courtesy of catastrophic economic conditions. If he was killing people to stay alive, he would not have been the only one. More important is whether him making $100m+ in Russia needed conditions where tens of millions of Russians were starving .and whether he saw that as acceptable collateral damage ..he made a proactive choice, after all, to go live in Moscow. It is not like he was born there and had no chance to leave ..

I do not know the trurh about Bill Browder, but one thing I do know: very powerful Americans are capable of organising mass genocide to become rich, so there is no possible basis for painting all American businessmen as philanthropists and all Russians as murdering savages ..

michaelk says November 21, 2017
It's perfectly possible, in fact the norm historically, for people to believe passionately in the existence of invisible threats to their well-being, which, when examined calmly from another era, resemble a form of mass-hysteria or collective madness. For example; the religious faith/dogma that Satan, demons and witches were all around us. An invisible, parallel, world, by the side of our own that really existed and we were 'at war with.' Satan was our adversary, the great trickster and disseminator of 'fake news' opposed to the 'good news' provided by the Gospels.

What's remarkable, disturbing and frightening is how closely our media resemble a religious cult or the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. The journalists have taken on a role that's close to that of a priesthood. They function as a 'filtering' layer between us and the world around us. They are, supposedly, uniquely qualified to understand the difference between truth and lies, or what's right and wrong, real news and propaganda. The Guardian actually likes this role. They our the guardians of the truth in a chaotic world.

This reminds one of the role of the clergy. Their role was to stand between ordinary people and the 'complexities' of the Bible and separate the Truths it contained from wild and 'fake' interpretations, which could easily become dangerous and undermine the social order and fundamental power relationships.

The big challenge to the role of the Church happened when the printing press allowed the ordinary people to access the information themselves and worst still when the texts were translated into the common language and not just Latin. Suddenly people could access the texts, read and begin to interpret and understand for themselves. It's hard to imagine that people were actually burned alive in England for smuggling the Bible in English translation a few centuries ago. That's how dangerous the State regarded such a 'crime.'

One can compare the translation of the Bible and the challenge to the authority of the Church and the clergy as 'guardians of the truth' to what's happeing today with the rise of the Internet and something like Wikileaks, where texts and infromation are made available uncensored and raw and the role of the traditional 'media church' and the journalist priesthood is challenged.

We're seeing a kind of media counter-reformation. That's why the Guardian turned on Assange so disgracefully and what Wikileaks represented.

WeatherEye says November 21, 2017
A brilliant historical comparison. They're now on the legal offensive in censoring the internet of course, because in truth the filter system is wholly vulnerable. Alternative media has been operating freely, yet the majority have continued to rely on MSM as if it's their only source of (dis)information, utilizing our vast internet age to the pettiness of social media and prank videos. Marx was right: capitalist society alienates people from their own humanity. We're now aliens, deprived of our original being and floating in a vacuum of Darwinist competition and barbarism. And we wonder why climate change is happening?
tutisicecream says November 21, 2017
Apparently we are "living in disorientating times" according to Viner, she goes on to say that "championing the public interest is at the heart of the Guardian's mission".

Really? How is it possible for her to say that when many of the controversial articles which appear in the Guardian are not open for comment any more. They have adopted now a view that THEIR "opinion" should not be challenged, how is that in the public interest?

In the Observer on Sunday a piece also appeared smearing RT entitled: "MPs defend fees of up to £1,000 an hour to appear on 'Kremlin propaganda' channel." However they allowed comments which make interesting reading. Many commenter's saw through their ruse and although the most vociferous critics of the Graun have been banished, but even the mild mannered ones which remain appear not the buy into the idea that RT is any different than other media outlets. With many expressing support for the news and op-ed outlet for giving voice to those who the MSM ignore – including former Guardian writers from time to time.

Why Viner's words are so poisonous is that the Graun under her stewardship has become a agitprop outlet offering no balance. In the below linked cringe worthy article there is no mention of RT being under attack in the US and having to register itself and staff as foreign agents. NO DEFENCE OF ATTACKS ON FREEDOM OF THE PRESS by the US state is mentioned.

Surely this issue is at the heart of championing public interest?

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/18/mps-kremlin-propaganda-channel-rt#comments

The fact that it's not shows clearly the fake Guardian/Observer claim and their real agenda.

WE ARE DEFINITELY LIVING IN DISORIENTATION TIMES and the Guardian/Observer are leading the charge.

tutisicecream says November 21, 2017
Correction: DISORIENTATING TIMES
Peter says November 21, 2017
For the political/media/business elites (I suppose you could call them 'the Establishment') in the US and UK, the main problem with RT seems to be that a lot of people are watching it. I wonder how long it will be before access is cut. RT is launching a French-language channel next month. We are already being warned by the French MSM about how RT makes up fake news to further Putin's evil propaganda aims (unlike said MSM, we are told). Basically, elites just don't trust the people (this is certainly a constant in French political life).
Jim says November 21, 2017
It's not just that they don't allow comments on many of their articles, but even on the articles where CiF is enabled, they ban any accounts that disagree with their narrative. The end result is that Guardianistas get the false impression everyone shares their view and that they are in the majority. The Guardian moderators are like Scientology leaders who banish any outsiders for fear of influencing their cult members.
BigB says November 20, 2017
Everyone knows that Russia-gate is a feat of mass hypnosis, mesmerized from DNC financed lies. The Trump collusion myth is baseless and becoming dangerously hysterical: but conversely, the Clinton collusion scandal is not so easy to allay. Whilst it may turn out to be the greatest story never told: it looks substantive enough to me. HRC colluded with Russian oligarchy to the tune of $145m of "donations" into her slush fund. In return, Rosatom gained control of Uranium One.

A curious adjunct to this corruption: HRC opposed the Magnitsky Act in 2012. Given her subsequent rabid Russophobia: you'd have thought that if the Russians (as it has been spun) arrested a brave whistleblowing tax lawyer and murdered him in prison – she would have been quite vocal in her condemnation. No, she wanted to make Russia great again. It's amazing how $145m can focus ones attention away from ones natural instinct.

[Browder and Magnitsky were as corrupt as each other: the story that the Russians took over Browder's hedge fund and implicated them both in a $230m tax fraud and corruption scandal is as fantastical as the "Golden Shower" dossier. However, it seems to me Magnitsky's death was preventable (he died from complications of pancreatitis, for which it seems he was initially refused treatment ) ]

So if we turn the clock back to 2010-2013, it sure looks to me as though we have a Russian collusion scandal: only it's not one the Guardian will ever want to tell. Will it come out when the FBI 's "secret" informant (William D Cambell) testifies to Congress sometime this week? Not in the Guardian, because their precious Hillary Clinton is the real scandal here.

jag37777 says November 20, 2017
Browder is a spook.
susannapanevin says November 20, 2017
Reblogged this on Susanna Panevin .
Eric Blair says November 20, 2017
This "tactic" – a bold or outrageous claim made in the headline or in the first few sentences of a piece that is proven false in the very same article – is becoming depressingly common in the legacy media.

In other words, the so-called respectable media knowingly prints outright lies for propaganda and clickbait purposes.

labrebisgalloise says November 20, 2017
I dropped a line to a friend yesterday saying "only in a parallel universe would a businessman/shady dealer/tax evader such as Browder be described as an "anti-corruption campaigner."" Those not familiar with the history of Browder's grandfather, after whom a whole new "deviation" in leftist thinking was named, should look it up.
Eric Blair says November 20, 2017
Hey, MbS is also an "anti-corruption" campaigner! If the media says so it must be true!
Sav says November 20, 2017
Some months ago you saw tweets saying Russophobia had hit ridiculous levels. They hadn't seen anything yet. It's scary how easily people can be brainwashed.

The US are the masters of molesting other nations. It's not even a secret what they've been up to. Look at their budgets or the size of the intelligence buildings. Most journalists know full well of their programs, including those on social media, which they even reported on a few years back. The Guardian run stories by the CIA created and US state funded RFE/RL & then tell us with a straight face that RT is state propaganda which is destroying our democracy.

A Petherbridge says November 20, 2017
Well said – interesting to know what the Guardian is paid to run these stories funded by this arm of US state propaganda.
bevin says November 20, 2017
The madness spreads: today The Canary has/had an article 'proving' that the 'Russians' were responsible for Brexit, Trump, etc etc.

Then there is the neo-liberal 'President' of the EU charging that the extreme right wing and Russophobic warmongers in the Polish government are in fact, like the President of the USA, in Putin's pocket..

This outbreak is reaching the dimensions of the sort of mass hysteria that gave us St Vitus' dance. Oh and the 'sonic' terrorism practised against US diplomats in Havana, in which crickets working for the evil one (who he?) appear to have been responsible for a breach in diplomatic relations. It couldn't have happened to a nicer empire.

Admin says November 21, 2017
The Canary is publishing mainstream russophobia?

[Dec 09, 2017] The Globalization of Our Discontent by Joseph E. Stiglitz - Project Syndicate

Notable quotes:
"... Globalization and Its Discontents, ..."
"... as it has been managed for the past quarter-century ..."
"... Globalization and Its Discontents Revisited: Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump ..."
Dec 05, 2017 | www.project-syndicate.org

Globalization, which was supposed to benefit developed and developing countries alike, is now reviled almost everywhere, as the political backlash in Europe and the US in recent years has shown. The challenge is to minimize the risk that the backlash will intensify, and that starts by understanding – and avoiding – past mistakes.

NEW YORK – Fifteen years ago, I published Globalization and Its Discontents, a book that sought to explain why there was so much dissatisfaction with globalization within the developing countries. Quite simply, many believed that the system was "rigged" against them, and global trade agreements were singled out for being particularly unfair.

The Year Ahead 2018 The world's leading thinkers and policymakers examine what's come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

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Now discontent with globalization has fueled a wave of populism in the United States and other advanced economies, led by politicians who claim that the system is unfair to their countries. In the US, President Donald Trump insists that America's trade negotiators were snookered by those from Mexico and China.

So how could something that was supposed to benefit all, in developed and developing countries alike, now be reviled almost everywhere? How can a trade agreement be unfair to all parties?

To those in developing countries, Trump's claims – like Trump himself – are laughable. The US basically wrote the rules and created the institutions of globalization. In some of these institutions – for example, the International Monetary Fund – the US still has veto power, despite America's diminished role in the global economy (a role which Trump seems determined to diminish still further).

To someone like me, who has watched trade negotiations closely for more than a quarter-century, it is clear that US trade negotiators got most of what they wanted. The problem was with what they wanted. Their agenda was set, behind closed doors, by corporations. It was an agenda written by and for large multinational companies, at the expense of workers and ordinary citizens everywhere.

https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/355518752&color=%23ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true

Indeed, it often seems that workers, who have seen their wages fall and jobs disappear, are just collateral damage – innocent but unavoidable victims in the inexorable march of economic progress. But there is another interpretation of what has happened: one of the objectives of globalization was to weaken workers' bargaining power. What corporations wanted was cheaper labor, however they could get it.

This interpretation helps explain some puzzling aspects of trade agreements. Why is it, for example, that advanced countries gave away one of their biggest advantages, the rule of law? Indeed, provisions embedded in most recent trade agreements give foreign investors more rights than are provided to investors in the US. They are compensated, for example, should the government adopt a regulation that hurts their bottom line, no matter how desirable the regulation or how great the harm caused by the corporation in its absence.

There are three responses to globalized discontent with globalization. The first – call it the Las Vegas strategy – is to double down on the bet on globalization as it has been managed for the past quarter-century . This bet, like all bets on proven policy failures (such as trickle-down economics) is based on the hope that somehow it will succeed in the future.

The second response is Trumpism: cut oneself off from globalization, in the hope that doing so will somehow bring back a bygone world. But protectionism won't work. Globally, manufacturing jobs are on the decline, simply because productivity growth has outpaced growth in demand.

Even if manufacturing were to come back, the jobs won't. Advanced manufacturing technology, including robots, means that the few jobs created will require higher skills and will be placed at different locations than the jobs that were lost. Like doubling down, this approach is doomed to fail, further increasing the discontent felt by those left behind.

Trump will fail even in his proclaimed goal of reducing the trade deficit, which is determined by the disparity between domestic savings and investment. Now that the Republicans have gotten their way and enacted a tax cut for billionaires, national savings will fall and the trade deficit will rise, owing to an increase in the value of the dollar. (Fiscal deficits and trade deficits normally move so closely together that they are called "twin" deficits.) Trump may not like it, but as he is slowly finding out, there are some things that even a person in the most powerful position in the world cannot control.

There is a third approach: social protection without protectionism, the kind of approach that the small Nordic countries took. They knew that as small countries they had to remain open. But they also knew that remaining open would expose workers to risk. Thus, they had to have a social contract that helped workers move from old jobs to new and provide some help in the interim.

The Nordic countries are deeply democratic societies, so they knew that unless most workers regarded globalization as benefiting them, it wouldn't be sustained. And the wealthy in these countries recognized that if globalization worked as it should, there would be enough benefits to go around.

American capitalism in recent years has been marked by unbridled greed – the 2008 financial crisis provides ample confirmation of that. But, as some countries have shown, a market economy can take forms that temper the excesses of both capitalism and globalization, and deliver more sustainable growth and higher standards of living for most citizens.

We can learn from such successes what to do, just as we can learn from past mistakes what not to do. As has become evident, if we do not manage globalization so that it benefits all, the backlash – from the New Discontents in the North and the Old Discontents in the South – is at risk of intensifying.

[Dec 05, 2017] Germany's Dystopian Plans for Europe From Fantasy to Reality

Notable quotes:
"... In other words, Germany already effectively controls the armies of four countries. And the initiative, Foreign Policy notes, 'is likely to grow'. This is not surprising: if Germany ('the EU') wants to become truly autonomous from the US, it needs to acquire military sovereignty, which it currently lacks. ..."
"... so many people in Europe will see it being necessitated by the growing chaos in the Middle East and in Africa. ..."
"... Never let a crisis go to waste ..."
"... Certainly not those of the inhabitants of the constituent "nations" of the EU (ironic quotation marks fully intended). And now Muti Merkel and the authoritarian scolds of Brussels are trying to force a quota of these migrants upon all of the "nations" – or should we say, the administrative zones – of the EU. Orban, Le Pen, the AfD, and ilk are not stupid, you know. ..."
"... I worked in and with "Brussels" for many years and can say that many, if not most, of the personnel involved with EU institutions are neo-liberals, neo-cons and deluded with the fantasy of an EU imperium, Greece to America's Rome. ..."
"... I think I concur with Mitchell that a Federal EU State is a big no no for Germany, based on the fact fiscal transfers would be out of the German coffers, and this fact is amplified by the exit of the UK, which was a big net EU contributor. The rumour mill has it that Jans Weidmann will be the next ECB Head, which means we can expect more, not less austerity imposed as the EU elite push further EMU, which, is certainly not in the interests of the average Joe across the Euro member states. ..."
"... Anyhow, check Bill Mitchell out, so decent material and nice to see people standing up for the Nation State, rather than supranational entities and corporations. ..."
"... If Germany is trying to build a mini-imperial system straddling all of Europe, then it would seek willing 'elites' in the small European countries to give a slice of pie to in exchange for their cooperation with that agenda. This is standard (neo)colonial policy today, which is best understood as the neocon/neoliberal approach the United States has taken to world domination – aka bad cop/good cop. "Accept our offer of a carpet of gold or we'll deliver a carpet of bombs", is another version of that offer. The one that can't be refused? ..."
"... This is because public debt in the eurozone is used as a political tool – a disciplining tool – to get governments to implement socially harmful policies (and to get citizens to accept these policies by portraying them as inevitable), which explains why Germany continues to refuse to seriously consider any form of debt relief for Greece, despite the various commitments and promises to that end made in recent years: debt is the chain that keeps Greece (and other member states) from straying 'off course'. ..."
"... That would be the neoliberal mechanism of control; notice here how debts assumed by small nations are not like debts assumed by the controlling powers, either. Rather like student loan holders vs. central banks – students can't print money to pay off their debts, that's the difference. ..."
"... So, if it is true in economics that stability creates instability, then the creation of a stable Europe will undo itself in the manner that this article appears to be saying. ..."
"... This corporate super-entity reminds me of "Omnius Prime" in the Dune universe – a computer with nearly total sociopathic control over humanity. The corporate super-entity, whose AI program's only concern is maximizing short term profits by inflating securities and equities, will eat the Earth if we allow it to continue – digesting and purging humans which have been commodified like everything else. ..."
"... Then we see power blocks aligning, the US (and it's proxies), the EU under Germany, Russia, and China. Clearly we are sitting on a powder keg that is the disintegrating neo-liberal world orde. What will serve as the spark that lights the fuse? Trump and North Korea? War for fun and profit in the Middle East? ..."
Dec 05, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Synoia , December 5, 2017 at 10:40 am

The basis of this thesis was plain when the ECB was placed in Germany.

The Economic regime is: Germany books the profits, and you lazy (non Germans) book the losses.

Welcome to the neoliberal roots of the next 30 years war. The 30 years war was the imposition of the ruler's denomination, Catholicism, on the people. This next 30 years one is imposing asset stripping (rent extraction) on the people and enriching a few Aristocrats, as a dogma.

Now do you understand Brexit? Do you believe the British could not see this coming?

I'll repeat: This was the obvious outcome when the ECB was placed in Germany. I'm English and discussed this very topic with my family and friends there, and there was general agreement that German ambition would pave the path.

Those who don't know their history are condemned to repeat it.

The Rev Kev , December 5, 2017 at 6:39 pm

Now do you understand Brexit? Do you believe the British could not see this coming?

Exactly. Those average British voters weren't stupid as claimed. If the EU/Germans are trying to do this whose aims are, and I quote:

"to further erode what little sovereignty and autonomy member states have left, particularly in the area of fiscal policy, and to facilitate the imposition of neoliberal 'structural reforms' – flexibilisation of labour markets, reduction of collective bargaining rights, etc. – on reluctant countries." and the year is only 2017, then what would it be like in the EU by the year, say, 2040?

Those British voters knew exactly what was coming down the turnpike and decided to bail and accept a whole lot of present pain. It was not their fault that it turned out that their leadership turned out to be a load of stuff-ups. To reinforce the point, look at the pain and deaths that the American colonies had to endure to get out of the British Empire. Before 1777 that would not have seemed to be the logical thing to do.

George Phillies , December 5, 2017 at 10:47 am

Does this direction become a hazard to the United States? Mr. Putin appears to have an answer, but perhaps does not have ready yet the next step, namely the needed set of trained personnel, trays, software, and printed pieces of paper, so that one way or another a country that wants to jettison the Euro can convert its ATMs very quickly to do so. Being set up to print very large stocks of Euros from the country that is leaving also comes to mind. Readers will recognize other steps.

Unlike some years ago, fast air access from Russia to southern European countries by overflying Mr Putin's friend Turkey is now probably available.

Norm , December 5, 2017 at 11:24 am

A good summary of a situation that is too complex to be neatly summarized – so many political, historical, religious, cultural, etc. issues come into play not only for each nation involved but also on an individual level for hundreds of millions of people. My most immediate reaction to these suggestions that a militarily capable fourth Reich may be emerging is that so many people in Europe will see it being necessitated by the growing chaos in the Middle East and in Africa.

visitor , December 5, 2017 at 12:24 pm

In other words, Germany already effectively controls the armies of four countries. And the initiative, Foreign Policy notes, 'is likely to grow'. This is not surprising: if Germany ('the EU') wants to become truly autonomous from the US, it needs to acquire military sovereignty, which it currently lacks.

The Bundeswehr has been in a sorry state of disrepair for years, which has not improved despite policy changes regarding the military.

And I seriously doubt that Germany really "controls" the armies of four countries.

The fact is that so far Germany's military strategy was conceived only within the NATO framework -- where it could rely upon the heavy-lifting of the USA logistical train, the ground experience and battle-readiness of the French and the British, and the availability of the navies from Spain and Italy. Germany has neither the equipment, nor the personnel, nor the experience to take the lead of a EU military, and other countries will probably strenuously oppose such endeavours which would rob them from their last symbolic and practical vestiges of sovereignty.

On the other hand, as the article explains, Germany is well on its way to assert its complete dominion over the economic and institutional arrangements in the EU.

Mark P. , December 5, 2017 at 3:05 pm

so many people in Europe will see it being necessitated by the growing chaos in the Middle East and in Africa.

True.

JBird , December 5, 2017 at 6:41 pm

Never let a crisis go to waste ?

JerseyJeffersonian , December 5, 2017 at 8:19 pm

Ah, yes, a crisis greatly exacerbated by taking down Libya, a country which had served as a bulwark against much of the tide of migration into Southern Europe from Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as an enemy to Wahabbi/Salafist terror.

Not to mention the EU support for the dismemberment of Syria that launched its own tidal wave of migration into Europe, whilst Syria was also an enemy of Wahabbi/Salafist terror.

In light of that, one must ask, in whose interest were these actions undertaken, and at whose behest? Well?

Certainly not those of the inhabitants of the constituent "nations" of the EU (ironic quotation marks fully intended). And now Muti Merkel and the authoritarian scolds of Brussels are trying to force a quota of these migrants upon all of the "nations" – or should we say, the administrative zones – of the EU. Orban, Le Pen, the AfD, and ilk are not stupid, you know. Europeans, at least those of you who still possess a quantum of self-respect, and who honor your histories and cultures, gather your courage and tell Muti and the Commissars of Brussels that the game is over before they can inflict yet more damage. But – perhaps – you are already too comfortably numb to remember why and how to do this? Well, then, into the veal pen with you.

Colonel Smithers , December 5, 2017 at 11:34 am

Many thanks, Yves.

Further to "France's corporate offensive in Italy", one-sided as France took recent exception to the take over of one its shipbuilders by an Italian rival, I would argue that it's an offensive by the EU's 1%, a strategy of immiseration facilitated by the likes of Guy Verhofstadt as per http://www.sofina.be/board-management/ . Sofina is well-connected with the French establishment by way of Eurazeo and the Italian establishment by way of Banca Leonardo.

I worked in and with "Brussels" for many years and can say that many, if not most, of the personnel involved with EU institutions are neo-liberals, neo-cons and deluded with the fantasy of an EU imperium, Greece to America's Rome. It suits them and their cheerleaders, including in Blighty, to pretend that this is due to the malign influence of Albion perfide or Anglo-Saxons. One should not expect a change of tack after Brexit. The "racaille" are profit(eer)ing too much and are able to get away with it under the cover of more Europe.

Christopher Dale Rogers , December 5, 2017 at 1:17 pm

CS,

As far as EMU is concerned, monetarist economic thinking has been predominant in much of the Europhiles output on monetary union since the 70s, that is, prior to the UK joining the Community. Bill Mitchell has written concisely on this over the past week & is quite scathing of Mitterrand and Delors for their embrace of what we now term 'neoliberalism', combine this with a desire for an actual military arm & one really does worry about the direction of the EU, with or without the UK.

Further, and within the lecture presented by Sir Ivan Rogers last week concerning Cameron & Brexit, the fact remains both the UK Elite & Euro Elite were keen on pushing TTIP, this despite the fact many believe it was the UK pushing neoliberalism on to Europe.

I think I concur with Mitchell that a Federal EU State is a big no no for Germany, based on the fact fiscal transfers would be out of the German coffers, and this fact is amplified by the exit of the UK, which was a big net EU contributor. The rumour mill has it that Jans Weidmann will be the next ECB Head, which means we can expect more, not less austerity imposed as the EU elite push further EMU, which, is certainly not in the interests of the average Joe across the Euro member states.

Anyhow, check Bill Mitchell out, so decent material and nice to see people standing up for the Nation State, rather than supranational entities and corporations.

norm de plume , December 5, 2017 at 3:30 pm

Bill Mitchell and the author of this piece Thomas Fazi are collaborators .

Eustache De Saint Pierre , December 5, 2017 at 4:09 pm

More on Guy :

https://www.thepressproject.gr/details_en.php?aid=62406

voteforno6 , December 5, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Germany is seeking a hegemonic position in Europe what could go wrong?

Left in Wisconsin , December 5, 2017 at 12:30 pm

I found the first about 1/3 of this post informative. But then the author gets to the main thesis:

The process underway can only be understood through the lens of the geopolitical-economic tensions and conflicts between leading capitalist states and regional blocs, and the conflicting interests between the different financial/industrial capital fractions located in those states , which have always characterised the European economy. In particular, it means looking at Germany's historic struggle for economic hegemony over the European continent.

This suggests that the national battles in Europe are battles between different national "capital fractions," in particular German capital with its everlasting desire for economic hegemony over Europe against (presumably) other European national capitals that are opposed to Germany.

That does not strike me as an accurate description of the current status of Europe or the EU, and nothing in the rest of the piece suggests that this is a (the most?) useful lens for interpreting events. The author even admits that elites from smaller Euro countries are happy in the role of compradors to Germany's economically dominant capitalists and that "European elites" are united in their anti-democratic tendencies. Even the German election results show this thesis to be dubious – if "Germany" is well on its way to it's long-cherished goal of European economic hegemony, why on earth would voters be tired of Merkel? They should make her Kaiser!

nonsense factory , December 5, 2017 at 2:49 pm

If Germany is trying to build a mini-imperial system straddling all of Europe, then it would seek willing 'elites' in the small European countries to give a slice of pie to in exchange for their cooperation with that agenda. This is standard (neo)colonial policy today, which is best understood as the neocon/neoliberal approach the United States has taken to world domination – aka bad cop/good cop. "Accept our offer of a carpet of gold or we'll deliver a carpet of bombs", is another version of that offer. The one that can't be refused?

Jump down a few paragraphs from your quote to this:

This is because public debt in the eurozone is used as a political tool – a disciplining tool – to get governments to implement socially harmful policies (and to get citizens to accept these policies by portraying them as inevitable), which explains why Germany continues to refuse to seriously consider any form of debt relief for Greece, despite the various commitments and promises to that end made in recent years: debt is the chain that keeps Greece (and other member states) from straying 'off course'.

That would be the neoliberal mechanism of control; notice here how debts assumed by small nations are not like debts assumed by the controlling powers, either. Rather like student loan holders vs. central banks – students can't print money to pay off their debts, that's the difference.

As far as Germany's voters, well, the reality of Empire is that trickle-down is a myth. Empires always deliver the tribute from foreign holdings to a small circle of politically connected elites – British lords, French aristocrats, Wall Street billionaires, Third World tin-pot dictators, etc. The general public always suffers as a result; you have to fund the foreign military adventures over the domestic infrastructure, health care and education needs. Hence Empires always try to limit and undermine democratic rule; the German voters probably see this as well.

I'd suggest Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism as a good read (or listen) for a discussion of how this could play out.

JEHR , December 5, 2017 at 12:53 pm

So, if it is true in economics that stability creates instability, then the creation of a stable Europe will undo itself in the manner that this article appears to be saying. In order to avoid conflict, the European Union has created a trading zone that has a great deal of inequality in it–not just in trade but inequality in the financial system that will continue to grow as corporations merge and become ever larger and as banks become ever more monolithic. Perhaps, national sovereignty will succumb to financial hegemony rather than becoming the victims of German hegemony.

Summer , December 5, 2017 at 1:42 pm

And what would have been the plans for Britain? Big omission in the article. That was a damned if they do, damned if they don't option.

Isn't a lot of the EU's bill for Britain about making sure they pay for EU officials pensions? While everywhere else it is austerity for Eurozone and EU countries' pensioners

James McFadden , December 5, 2017 at 2:19 pm

Although I found this article helpful in summarizing many of the changes in EU politics, the author is incorrect in his premise that the German government is at the root of the anti-democratic, neoliberal EU movement. The author ignores the dominant role that the interconnected multinational corporations ( https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228354.500-revealed–the-capitalist-network-that-runs-the-world/ ) play in running the global political economy.

69 of the top 100 economies are now corporations ( https://blogs.worldbank.org/publicsphere/world-s-top-100-economies-31-countries-69-corporations ). National politics have become subservient to the interests of the financial economy which can move money quickly and destroy a state's economy when political decisions do not follow the neoliberal script of austerity. The author's premise that "Germany needs to seize control of the most coveted institution of them all – the ECB –, which hitherto has never been under direct German control" is backwards. It is the ECB that has had control of the German political leaders for years. Whether "Merkel now has her eyes on the ECB's presidency" or not does not matter. She is merely a cog in the corporate machine – easily replaced if she fails to follow the neoliberal agenda of austerity.

Of course we must recognize that austerity is only imposed as an attempt to inflate the debt bubble by squeezing those least capable of paying, those considered disposable in the sociopathic and mechanistic corporate hive mind. The "automatic stabilizing mechanisms" that "put the economy on 'autopilot', thus removing any element of democratic discussion and/or decision-making" are really just manifestations of the emergent behavior that this corporate super-organism expresses and imposes on the global economy. ( https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/01/ai-has-already-taken-over-its-called-the-corporation/ )

This corporate super-entity reminds me of "Omnius Prime" in the Dune universe – a computer with nearly total sociopathic control over humanity. The corporate super-entity, whose AI program's only concern is maximizing short term profits by inflating securities and equities, will eat the Earth if we allow it to continue – digesting and purging humans which have been commodified like everything else.

This total corporatization is at the root of both existential threats to humanity – nuclear war and climate change. The risk of nuclear war (primarily from some mistake or miscalculation) results from the military-industrial complex's imperial program of globalization to further multinational corporate profits and control, and climate change is a cancer driven by corporate resource exploitation that will surely kill humanity if we don't cut out the corporate tumors and stop smoking that oil.

I'm beginning to think that the only way to save humanity, to save the planet, will be a "Butlerian Jihad" to rid us of the existential threat that corporations represent. I wonder how many people will have to be consumed by this corporate monster before we rise up to kill it. There will be a cost to eliminating corporations, to ending the limited liability of the owners, but that cost will be well worth the price of saving humanity, civilization, and our ecosystem. "There is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by corporations. The power of all corporations ought to be limited in this respect. The growing wealth acquired by them never fails to be a source of abuses." James Madison

Yves Smith Post author , December 5, 2017 at 2:23 pm

Argument by assertion doesn't work here. There is no evidence whatsoever that the ECB has influence over German leaders. More generally, German politics are dominated by industrial capital, particularly its automakers, not financial capital. And in fact the Bundesbank has disproportionate influence over the ECB. And Germany has repeatedly checked measures that would provide more support to the banking system and lead to more Eurozone integration to preserve its advantaged position.

In addition, the EU is perfectly willing to take on global corporations, contrary to your claims. Did you miss the massive anti-trust fine it imposed on Microsoft, and the fines it has imposed on Google? The EU competition ruling on Google will force Google to change how it does business in a fundamental manner, and the fines (up to 10% of global revenues for a violation in a single line of business) are high enough to bring Google to heel. The EU also is requiring Apple to pay a ginormous tax bill for its special tax avoidance scheme in Ireland.

If you are going to comment on European politics, you need to know the terrain. You don't, and worse you say things that mislead readers.

John Zelnicker , December 5, 2017 at 3:13 pm

Jeebus! I had no idea that Germany had extended it's claws so far into the affairs of other countries as to be integrating their army units.

I suppose it's a much better strategy than attacking those armies and risking people getting killed. :-/

But, seriously, Germany has moved far beyond it's mercantilist advantages and subjugation of Greece and other periphery nations. It has become beyond obvious to me that they learned from their experience in WWII and decided that economic hegemony was the way to go to achieve de facto political hegemony. I think the Fourth Reich is fitting.

Eustache De Saint Pierre , December 5, 2017 at 3:29 pm

Thank you for a finished painting, of which I had in comparison, only a sketch.

David Swan , December 5, 2017 at 6:13 pm

Thank you for having the courage to put those two words together so chillingly: "Fourth Reich". You are not an alarmist to do so – you are right on the money. This has indeed been a deliberate decades-long campaign to install German hegemony (no "accident"), and the project is well along its way.

From here we can soberly project a future in which Europe *does* finally institute a fiscal compact – wholly on Germany's terms. Is it too outrageous to suggest that there will one day be a new Holy Roman Emperor to wear the crown of Charlemagne? And would it be too forward to make guesses as to the nationality of said emperor?

History is not over. Not by a long shot.

Larry , December 5, 2017 at 10:37 pm

Then we see power blocks aligning, the US (and it's proxies), the EU under Germany, Russia, and China. Clearly we are sitting on a powder keg that is the disintegrating neo-liberal world orde. What will serve as the spark that lights the fuse? Trump and North Korea? War for fun and profit in the Middle East?

[Dec 03, 2017] West has over-reached and can barely handle its own problems

The problem is that neoliberal ideology entered the state of the crisis in 2008 much like Bolshevik ideology entered the crisis after WWII. The USSR managed to survive for another 50 years after that.
Notable quotes:
"... Multipolar is just that – leave exercise of power and responsibility as close to the local situation as possible. Brussels telling Poland who should be a TV presenter, or Washington deciding what people in rural Hungary should read is idiotic. What's the point of all this busy-body behaviour? It is always justified by some slogans about preventing 'human rights violations'. Right. We have seen the results – a lot more people have died and suffered because of 'humanitarian' interventions than from anything else in the last 20+ years. ..."
"... I do find the current rapprochement between Russia and the major Moslem states amusing. It goes beyond Turkey and Iran, Moscow is working all of them, Egypt, Sudan, I suspect it is a clever attempt to beat US at its own game – US has spent about four decades arming and unleashing any Islamic force it could find against Russians (and Slavs in general), using methods that were beyond brutal and hypocrisy that eventually backfired. Maybe turning it around is a good strategy. It is inconsistent, but when you fight extreme stupidity, often the only thing that works is to use more stupidity ..."
"... Orwell's vision is but one of the possibilities. Another is Armageddon. Yet another is a "(Failed) West and a multipolar Rest". The latter is what I think will actually happen in the near and medium term. Things being what they are, it may even be the best we can hope for. ..."
"... I don't see any other power than the West (=US) aspiring to 'manage the world'. Maybe some ISIS fanatics have the same dream, but they are not in a position to achieve it. West has 'managed' it very poorly: mindless interventions, wars, migrants, hypocrisy, threats and blackmail. ..."
"... The other 'powers' have very modest, regional aspirations. Russia or China really don't care that much who wins the elections in Portugal, or what regional papers write in Hungary – US seems to be obsessed with it. And the only justification that Western defenders offer when pressed is that 'there would be a vacuum' and 'Russians would move in'. This is obvious nonsense and only elderly paranoid Cold Warrior types believe it ..."
"... Europeans have been invited to join the Eurasian Project, to create a continental market from "Lisbon to Vladivostok". Latent dreams of Hegemony hold at least some of their elites back. ..."
"... The West rode an ahistorical rogue wave of development to a point just short of Global Hegemony. That wave broke, and is now rolling back out into the world leaving the West just short of its civilizational resource requirements. No way to get back on a broken wave. In any case, China now holds the $$$ hammer, and Russia holds the military hammer, and they've now got the surfboard. Both of them, led by historically aware elites, know that Hegemony doesn't work, so will focus on keeping their neck of the woods as stable & prosperous as possible while hell blazes elsewhere. ..."
Dec 03, 2017 | www.unz.com

Beckow , December 2, 2017 at 4:19 am GMT

@peterAUS

"The same "hegemon with allies/vassals" as it is now, only in that case divided in three"

Why? There is absolutely nothing about 'multipolar' that dictates three, or four 'hegemons', or even lists who would the 'multis' be. The idea is simply that most people, most of the time are better off left alone.

Is that so hard to understand? Why should people in Washington (or Moscow, Beijing, Brussels, ) be intimately involved with how others live their lives, with their fights and alliances? Knowledge always dissipates with distance, and most of the 'masters of the universe' are not that smart to start with.

Multipolar is just that – leave exercise of power and responsibility as close to the local situation as possible. Brussels telling Poland who should be a TV presenter, or Washington deciding what people in rural Hungary should read is idiotic. What's the point of all this busy-body behaviour? It is always justified by some slogans about preventing 'human rights violations'. Right. We have seen the results – a lot more people have died and suffered because of 'humanitarian' interventions than from anything else in the last 20+ years.

I do find the current rapprochement between Russia and the major Moslem states amusing. It goes beyond Turkey and Iran, Moscow is working all of them, Egypt, Sudan, I suspect it is a clever attempt to beat US at its own game – US has spent about four decades arming and unleashing any Islamic force it could find against Russians (and Slavs in general), using methods that were beyond brutal and hypocrisy that eventually backfired. Maybe turning it around is a good strategy. It is inconsistent, but when you fight extreme stupidity, often the only thing that works is to use more stupidity

Erebus , December 2, 2017 at 8:48 am GMT
@Beckow

"The same "hegemon with allies/vassals" as it is now, only in that case divided in three"

Why? There is absolutely nothing about 'multipolar' that dictates three, or four 'hegemons', or even lists who would the 'multis' be. The idea is simply that most people, most of the time are better off left alone.

Peter's is the apocalyptic view made famous by Orwell. He may be right, it may all unravel and Oceania, Eurasia & Eastasia run a classic 3-power calculus of shifting alliances in a struggle for control of the "hinterlands". Not at all impossible, but certainly not what the proponents of the multipolar world want.

The idea is much more than the notion that most people want to "be left alone". The Multipolar world as it is actually being constructed by its proponents, from its monetary structures to its security, commercial and trade regimes, is precisely the attempt to prevent that Orwellian development in the face of Western decline. Their foundational tenet is that Globalization as a world-historical trend is here to stay (for at least the next few generations), and the "compartmentalization" of the world into alliances and hegemonies as historically occurred is no longer a viable option. The 3 Orwellian powers are all nuclear now, and the #1 priority is to mitigate the risk of war between them. Best to do that by dissolving them into a matrix of commercial and developmental programs that they'd be loathe to destroy.

EG: Though Russia considers both China and Iran "strategic partners", there is no formal alliance with either of them, and there won't be. Alliances cannot be "forbidden", but the countries that have signed onto the multipolar world program view alliances with suspicion.

As a introduction to the coming multipolar world, Kupchan's Western-centric analysis is a good place to start: https://www.amazon.com/No-Ones-World-Council-Relations/dp/0199325227
"Kupchan provides a detailed strategy for striking a bargain between the West and the rising rest by fashioning a new consensus on issues of legitimacy, sovereignty, and governance."

Assuming he even knows the least thing about what the multipolar world is trying to do, Peter's view is that their attempt will fail. Maybe so.
To "fashion a new consensus on issues of legitimacy, sovereignty, and governance" requires that the professional criminal class that grabbed the remains of Western power a decade and a half ago has been forced to let go. If not, the world indeed faces an abyss.

Orwell's vision is but one of the possibilities. Another is Armageddon. Yet another is a "(Failed) West and a multipolar Rest". The latter is what I think will actually happen in the near and medium term. Things being what they are, it may even be the best we can hope for.

Beckow , December 2, 2017 at 9:48 pm GMT
@Erebus

"(Failed) West and a multipolar Rest". The latter is what I think will actually happen in the near and medium term.

I think we already have it, except I don't think West has failed yet. Or it has in a way, the process of failing goes on, but the consequences have not been felt much in the West yet.

I don't see any other power than the West (=US) aspiring to 'manage the world'. Maybe some ISIS fanatics have the same dream, but they are not in a position to achieve it. West has 'managed' it very poorly: mindless interventions, wars, migrants, hypocrisy, threats and blackmail.

The other 'powers' have very modest, regional aspirations. Russia or China really don't care that much who wins the elections in Portugal, or what regional papers write in Hungary – US seems to be obsessed with it. And the only justification that Western defenders offer when pressed is that 'there would be a vacuum' and 'Russians would move in'. This is obvious nonsense and only elderly paranoid Cold Warrior types believe it (peterAUS?). What is really going on is that West has over-reached and can barely handle its own problems. So they scream 'Russians are coming' to distract, or to prolong the agony. Russians are not coming, they don't care in 2017, they can barely control their huge territory today. More you see squealing and lying in the Western media, more it shows that they have not much else to work with.

Erebus , Next New Comment December 3, 2017 at 7:18 am GMT
@Beckow

"(Failed) West and a multipolar Rest". The latter is what I think will actually happen in the near and medium term.

I think we already have it, except I don't think West has failed yet. Or it has in a way, the process of failing goes on, but the consequences have not been felt much in the West yet.

Well, exogenous events aside, "decline and fall" is necessarily a process. A series of steps and plateaus is typical. A major step occurred in 2007/8, when the money failed. The bankers, in a frankly heroic display of coordination, propped up the $$$ and the West got a decade long plateau. Things are going wobbly again, financially speaking and I suspect the next step function to occur rather soon. Stays of execution have been exhausted, so it'll be interesting how the West handles it, and how the RoW reacts.

Europeans have been invited to join the Eurasian Project, to create a continental market from "Lisbon to Vladivostok". Latent dreams of Hegemony hold at least some of their elites back. The USA has also been invited, but its dreams remain much more virile. That is, until Trump who's backers seem to read the writing on the wall better than the Straussians.

I don't see any other power than the West (=US) aspiring to 'manage the world' .
The other 'powers' have very modest, regional aspirations US seems to be obsessed with it.

The fact is that the rise of the West to global dominance is due to a historical anomaly. It was fuelled (literally) by the discovery and harnessing of the chemical energy embedded in coal (late 18thC) and then oil (late 19thC). The first doubled the population, and as first movers gave the West a running start. The second turned on the afterburners, and population grew >3.5 fold. Again the West led the way. To fuel that ahistorical step-function growth curve, control of resources on a global scale became its civilizational imperative.

That growth curve has plateaued, and the rest of the world has caught/is catching up developmentally. The resources the West needs aren't going to be available to it in the way they were 100 years ago. Them days is over, for everybody really, but especially for the West because it has depleted its own hi-ROI resources, and both of its means of control (IMF$ System & U$M) of what's left of everybody else's are failing simultaneously. So its plateau will not be flat, or not flat for long between increasingly violent steps.

The West rode an ahistorical rogue wave of development to a point just short of Global Hegemony. That wave broke, and is now rolling back out into the world leaving the West just short of its civilizational resource requirements. No way to get back on a broken wave. In any case, China now holds the $$$ hammer, and Russia holds the military hammer, and they've now got the surfboard. Both of them, led by historically aware elites, know that Hegemony doesn't work, so will focus on keeping their neck of the woods as stable & prosperous as possible while hell blazes elsewhere.

What is really going on is that West has over-reached and can barely handle its own problems.

IMHO, what's really going on is that the West's problems are simply symptomatic of what "decline and fall", if not "collapse" looks like from within a failing system. A long time ago I read the diary of a Roman nobleman who in the most matter-of-fact style wrote of exactly the same things Westerners complain about today. How this, that or the other thing no longer works the way it did. For all of his 60+ years, every day was infinitesimally worse than the day before, until finally he decides to pack up his Roman households and move to his estates in Spain. It took 170(iirc) more years of continuous decline until Alaric finally arrived at the Gates of Rome. If wholly due to internal causes, collapse is almost always a slow motion train wreck.

'there would be a vacuum' and 'Russians would move in'. This is obvious nonsense and only elderly paranoid Cold Warrior types believe it (peterAUS?).

Actually, it's just stupid. Cold Warrior or not, the view betrays a deep and abiding ignorance of both history and a large part of what drove the West's hegemonic successes. That both militate against anyone else ever even trying such a thing on a global scale can't be seen if you look at historical developments and the rest of the world through 10′ of 1″ pipe.

The idea that Russia wants/needs the Baltics is even more laughable than that it wants/needs the Ukraine or Poland. None of these tarbabies have anything to offer but trouble. Noisome flies on an elephant, it is only if they make themselves more troublesome as outsiders than they would be as vassals would Russia move.

Beckow , Next New Comment December 3, 2017 at 10:13 pm GMT
@Erebus

"Things are going wobbly again"

Why do you think so? I think we are about to enter an occasional plateau and things will be stable or even improve for a while. The Rome analogies are instructive, but they only take you so far. E.g. Rome was collapsing for about two centuries, on and off. Rome was also infinitely more brutal than today's West and the 'barbarians' were real barbarians, not aspiring migrants led by well-paid NGO comprador class. Why do you think it is getting wobbly?

[Dec 03, 2017] How Complex Systems Fail

Notable quotes:
"... complex systems are prone to catastrophic failure, how that possibility is held at bay through a combination of redundancies and ongoing vigilance, but how, due to the impractical cost of keeping all possible points of failure fully (and even identifying them all) protected, complex systems "always run in degraded mode". Think of the human body. No one is in perfect health. At a minimum, people are growing cancers all the time, virtually all of which recede for reasons not well understood. ..."
"... every major investment leads to further investments (no matter how dumb or large) to protect the value of past investments. ..."
"... Tainter argues that the energy cost (defined broadly) of maintaining the dysfunction eventually overwhelms the ability of the system to generate surpluses to meet the rising needs of maintenance. ..."
"... a combination of shrinking revenue base and the subordination of all systemic needs to the needs of individual emperors to stay in power and therefore stay alive. ..."
"... In each case, some elite individual or grouping sees throwing good money after bad as necessary to keeping their power and their positions. Our current sclerotic system seems to fit this description nicely. ..."
"... One point that Tainter made is that collapse is not all bad. He presents evidence that the average well being of people in Italy was probably higher in the sixth century than in the fifth century as the Western Roman Empire died. Somewhat like death being necessary for biological evolution collapse may be the only solution to the problem of excessive complexity. ..."
"... Good-For-Me-Who-Effing-Cares-If-It's-Bad-For-You-And-Everyone-Else ..."
"... The Iron Law of Institutions (agents act in ways that benefit themselves in the context of the institution [system], regardless of the effect those actions have on the larger system) would seem to mitigate against any attempts to correct our many, quickly failing complex social and technological systems. ..."
"... It is that cumulative concentration of wealth and power over time which is ultimately destabilizing, producing accepted social norms and customs that lead to fragility in the face of both expected and unexpected shocks. This fragility comes from all sorts of specific consequences of that inequality, from secrecy to group think to brain drain to two-tiered justice to ignoring incompetence and negligence to protecting incumbents necessary to maintain such an unnatural order. ..."
"... The problem arises with any societal order over time in that corrosive elements in the form of corruptive behavior (not principle based) by decision makers are institutionalized. I may not like Trump as a person but the fact that he seems to unravel and shake the present arrangement and serves as an indicator that the people begin to realize what game is being played, makes me like him in that specific function. ..."
"... However, the failure was made immeasurably worse due to the fact that Exxon had failed to supply that pump-station with a safety manual, so when the alarms started going off the guy in the station had to call around to a bunch of people to figure out what was going on. So while it's possible that the failure would have occurred no matter what, the failure of the management to implement even the most basic of safety procedures made the failure much worse than it otherwise would have been. ..."
"... . . .but it is also true that the incentives of the capitalist system ensure that there will be more and worse accidents than necessary , as the agents involved in maintaining the system pursue their own personal interests which often conflict with the interests of system stability and safety. ..."
"... In Claus Jensen's fascinating account of the Challenger disaster, NO DOWNLINK, he describes how the managers overrode the engineers' warnings not to fly under existing weather conditions. We all know the result. ..."
"... Globalization factors in maximizing the impact of Murphy's Law: ..."
"... Where one can only say: "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do" ..."
"... Subsumption architecture ..."
"... The inverted pendulum ..."
"... Emergent behavior of swarms ..."
"... negative selection ..."
Aug 21, 2015 | naked capitalism

Lambert found a short article by Richard Cook that I've embedded at the end of the post. I strongly urge you to read it in full. It discusses how complex systems are prone to catastrophic failure, how that possibility is held at bay through a combination of redundancies and ongoing vigilance, but how, due to the impractical cost of keeping all possible points of failure fully (and even identifying them all) protected, complex systems "always run in degraded mode". Think of the human body. No one is in perfect health. At a minimum, people are growing cancers all the time, virtually all of which recede for reasons not well understood.

The article contends that failures therefore are not the result of single causes. As Clive points out:

This is really a profound observation – things rarely fail in an out-the-blue, unimaginable, catastrophic way. Very often just such as in the MIT article the fault or faults in the system are tolerated. But if they get incrementally worse, then the ad-hoc fixes become the risk (i.e. the real risk isn't the original fault condition, but the application of the fixes). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windscale_fire#Wigner_energy documents how a problem of core instability was a snag, but the disaster was caused by what was done to try to fix it. The plant operators kept applying the fix in ever more extreme does until the bloody thing blew up.

But I wonder about the validity of one of the hidden assumptions of this article. There is a lack of agency in terms of who is responsible for the care and feeding of complex systems (the article eventually identifies "practitioners" but even then, that's comfortably vague). The assumption is that the parties who have influence and responsibility want to preserve the system, and have incentives to do at least an adequate job of that.

There are reasons to doubt that now. Economics has promoted ways of looking at commercial entities that encourage "practitioners" to compromise on safety measures. Mainstream economics has as a core belief that economies have a propensity to equilibrium, and that equilibrium is at full employment. That assumption has served as a wide-spread justification for encouraging businesses and governments to curtail or end pro-stability measures like regulation as unnecessary costs.

To put it more simply, the drift of both economic and business thinking has been to optimize activity for efficiency. But highly efficient systems are fragile. Formula One cars are optimized for speed and can only run one race.

Highly efficient systems also are more likely to suffer from what Richard Bookstaber called "tight coupling." A tightly coupled system in one in which events occur in a sequence that cannot be interrupted. A way to re-characterize a tightly coupled system is a complex system that has been in part re-optimized for efficiency, maybe by accident, maybe at a local level. That strips out some of the redundancies that serve as safeties to prevent positive feedback loops from having things spin out of control.

To use Bookstaber's nomenclature, as opposed to this paper's, in a tightly coupled system, measures to reduce risk directly make things worse. You need to reduce the tight coupling first.

A second way that the economic thinking has arguably increased the propensity of complex systems of all sorts to fail is by encouraging people to see themselves as atomized agents operating in markets. And that's not just an ideology; it's reflected in low attachment to institutions of all sorts, ranging from local communities to employers (yes, employers may insist on all sorts of extreme shows of fealty, but they are ready to throw anyone in the dust bin at a moment's notice). The reality of weak institutional attachments and the societal inculcation of selfish viewpoints means that more and more people regard complex systems as vehicles for personal advancement. And if they see those relationships as short-term or unstable, they don't have much reason to invest in helping to preserving the soundness of that entity. Hence the attitude called "IBY/YBG" ("I'll Be Gone, You'll Be Gone") appears to be becoming more widespread.

I've left comments open because I'd very much enjoy getting reader reactions to this article. Thanks!

James Levy August 21, 2015 at 6:35 am

So many ideas . Mike Davis argues that in the case of Los Angeles, the key to understanding the city's dysfunction is in the idea of sunk capital – every major investment leads to further investments (no matter how dumb or large) to protect the value of past investments.

Tainter argues that the energy cost (defined broadly) of maintaining the dysfunction eventually overwhelms the ability of the system to generate surpluses to meet the rising needs of maintenance.

Goldsworthy has argued powerfully and persuasively that the Roman Empire in the West was done in by a combination of shrinking revenue base and the subordination of all systemic needs to the needs of individual emperors to stay in power and therefore stay alive. Their answer was endlessly subdividing power and authority below them and using massive bribes to the bureaucrats and the military to try to keep them loyal.

In each case, some elite individual or grouping sees throwing good money after bad as necessary to keeping their power and their positions. Our current sclerotic system seems to fit this description nicely.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 8:15 am

I immediately thought of Tainter's "The Complex of Complex Cultures" when I starting reading this. One point that Tainter made is that collapse is not all bad. He presents evidence that the average well being of people in Italy was probably higher in the sixth century than in the fifth century as the Western Roman Empire died. Somewhat like death being necessary for biological evolution collapse may be the only solution to the problem of excessive complexity.

xxx August 22, 2015 at 4:39 am

Tainter insists culture has nothing to do with collapse, and therefore refuses to consider it, but he then acknowledges that the elites in some societies were able to pull them out of a collapse trajectory. And from the inside, it sure as hell looks like culture, as in a big decay in what is considered to be acceptable conduct by our leaders, and what interests they should be serving (historically, at least the appearance of the greater good, now unabashedly their own ends) sure looks to be playing a big, and arguably the defining role, in the rapid rise of open corruption and related social and political dysfunction.

Praedor August 21, 2015 at 9:19 am

That also sounds like the EU and even Greece's extreme actions to stay in the EU.

jgordon August 21, 2015 at 7:44 am

Then I'll add my two cents: you've left out that when systems scale linearly, the amount of complexity, and points for failure, and therefore instability, that they contain scale exponentially–that is according to the analysis of James Rickards, and supported by the work of people like Joseph Tainter and Jared Diamond.

Ever complex problem that arises in a complex system is fixed with an even more complex "solution" which requires ever more energy to maintain, and eventually the inevitably growing complexity of the system causes the complex system to collapse in on itself. This process requires no malignant agency by humans, only time.

nowhere August 21, 2015 at 12:10 pm

Sounds a lot like JMG and catabolic collapse.

jgordon August 21, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Well, he got his stuff from somewhere too.

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 1:26 pm

There are no linear systems. They are all non-linear because the include a random, non-linear element – people.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Long before there were people the Earth's eco-system was highly complex and highly unstable.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:37 pm

The presumption that fixes increase complexity may be incorrect.

Fixes should include awareness of complexity.

That was the beauty of Freedom Club by Kaczinsky, T.

JTMcPhee August 21, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Maybe call the larger entity "meta-stable?" Astro and geo inputs seem to have been big perturbers. Lots of genera were around a very long time before naked apes set off on their romp. But then folks, even these hot, increasingly dry days, brag on their ability to anticipate, and profit from, and even cause, with enough leverage, de- stability. Good thing the macrocosms of our frail, violent, kindly, destructive bodies are blessed with the mechanisms of homeostasis.

Too bad our "higher" functions are not similarly gifted But that's what we get to chat about, here and in similar meta-spaces

MikeW August 21, 2015 at 7:52 am

Agree, positive density of ideas, thoughts and implications.

I wonder if the reason that humans don't appreciate the failure of complex systems is that (a) complex systems are constantly trying to correct, or cure as in your cancer example, themselves all the time until they can't at which point they collapse, (b) that things, like cancer leading to death, are not commonly viewed as a complex system failure when in fact that is what it is. Thus, while on a certain scale we do experience complex system failure on one level on a daily basis because we don't interpret it as such, and given that we are hardwired for pattern recognition, we don't address complex systems in the right ways.

This, to my mind, has to be extended to the environment and the likely disaster we are currently trying to instigate. While the system is collapsing at one level, massive species extinctions, while we have experienced record temperatures, while the experts keep warning us, etc., most people to date have experienced climate change as an inconvenience - not the early stages of systemwide failure.

Civilization collapses have been regular, albeit spaced out, occurrences. We seem to think we are immune to them happening again. Yet, it isn't hard to list the near catastrophic system failures that have occurred or are currently occurring (famines, financial markets, genocides, etc.).

And, in most systems that relate to humans with an emphasis on short term gain how does one address system failures?

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 9:21 am

Good-For-Me-Who-Effing-Cares-If-It's-Bad-For-You-And-Everyone-Else

would be a GREAT category heading though it's perhaps a little close to "Imperial Collapse"

Whine Country August 21, 2015 at 9:52 am

To paraphrase President Bill Clinton, who I would argue was one of the major inputs that caused the catastrophic failure of our banking system (through the repeal of Glass-Steagall), it all depends on what the definition of WE is.

jrs August 21, 2015 at 10:12 pm

And all that just a 21st century version of "apres moi le deluge", which sounds very likely to be the case.

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 3:55 pm

JT – just go to the Archdruid site. They link it regularly, I suppose for this purpose.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 8:42 am

Civilizational collapse is extremely common in history when one takes a long term view. I'm not sure though that I would describe it as having that much "regularity" and while internal factors are no doubt often important external factors like the Mongol Onslaught are also important. It's usually very hard to know exactly what happened since historical documentation tends to disappear in periods of collapse. In the case of Mycenae the archaeological evidence indicates a near total population decline of 99% in less than a hundred years together with an enormous cultural decline but we don't know what caused it.

As for long term considerations the further one tries to project into the future the more uncertain such projections become so that long term planning far into the future is not likely to be evolutionarily stable. Because much more information is available about present conditions than future conditions organisms are probably selected much more to optimize for the short term rather than for the largely unpredicatble long term.

Gio Bruno August 21, 2015 at 1:51 pm

it's not in question. Evolution is about responding to the immediate environment. Producing survivable offspring (which requires finding a niche). If the environment changes (Climate?) faster than the production of survivable offspring then extinction (for that specie) ensues.

Now, Homo sapien is supposedly "different" in some respects, but I don't think so.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 2:14 pm

I agree. There's nothing uniquely special about our species. Of course species can often respond to gradual change by migration. The really dangerous things are global catastrophes such as the asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous or whatever happened at the Permian-Triassic boundary (gamma ray burst maybe?).

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:46 pm

Interesting that you sit there and type on a world-spanning network batting around ideas from five thousand years ago, or yesterday, and then use your fingers to type that the human species isn't special.

Do you really think humans are unable to think about the future, like a bear hibernating, or perhaps the human mind, and its offspring, human culture and history, can't see ahead?

Why is "Learn the past, or repeat it!" such a popular saying, then?

diptherio August 21, 2015 at 9:24 am

The Iron Law of Institutions (agents act in ways that benefit themselves in the context of the institution [system], regardless of the effect those actions have on the larger system) would seem to mitigate against any attempts to correct our many, quickly failing complex social and technological systems.

jgordon August 21, 2015 at 10:40 am

This would tend to imply that attempts to organize large scale social structures is temporary at best, and largely futile. I agree. The real key is to embrace and ride the wave as it crests and callapses so its possible to manage the fall–not to try to stand against so you get knocked down and drowned. Focus your efforts on something useful instead of wasting them on a hopeless, and worthless, cause.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Civilization is obviously highly unstabe. However it should remembered that even Neolithic cultures are almost all less than 10,000 years old. So there has been little time for evolutionary adaptations to living in complex cultures (although there is evidence that the last 10,000 years has seen very rapid genetic changes in human populations). If civilization can continue indefinitely which of course is not very clear then it would be expected that evolutionary selection would produce humans much better adapted to living in complex cultures so they might become more stable in the distant future. At present mean time to collapse is probably a few hundred years.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:50 pm

But perhaps you're not contemplating that too much individual freedom can destabilize society. Is that a part of your vast psychohistorical equation?

washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:34 am

Well said, but something I find intriguing is that the author isn't talking so much about civilizational collapse. The focus is more on various subsystems of civilization (transportation, energy, healthcare, etc.).

These individual components are not inherently particularly dangerous (at a systemic/civilizational level). They have been made that way by purposeful public policy choices, from allowing enormous compensation packages in healthcare to dismantling our passenger rail system to subsidizing fossil fuel energy over wind and solar to creating tax incentives that distort community development. These things are not done for efficiency. They are done to promote inequality, to allow connected insiders and technocratic gatekeepers to expropriate the productive wealth of society. Complexity isn't a byproduct; it is the mechanism of the looting. If MDs in hospital management made similar wages as home health aides, then how would they get rich off the labor of others? And if they couldn't get rich, what would be the point of managing the hospital in the first place? They're not actually trying to provide quality, affordable healthcare to all Americans.

It is that cumulative concentration of wealth and power over time which is ultimately destabilizing, producing accepted social norms and customs that lead to fragility in the face of both expected and unexpected shocks. This fragility comes from all sorts of specific consequences of that inequality, from secrecy to group think to brain drain to two-tiered justice to ignoring incompetence and negligence to protecting incumbents necessary to maintain such an unnatural order.

Linus Huber August 21, 2015 at 7:05 pm

I tend to agree with your point of view.

The problem arises with any societal order over time in that corrosive elements in the form of corruptive behavior (not principle based) by decision makers are institutionalized. I may not like Trump as a person but the fact that he seems to unravel and shake the present arrangement and serves as an indicator that the people begin to realize what game is being played, makes me like him in that specific function. There may be some truth in Thomas Jefferson's quote: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." Those presently benefiting greatly from the present arrangement are fighting with all means to retain their position, whether successfully or not, we will see.

animalogic August 22, 2015 at 2:18 am

Well said, washunate. I think an argument could be run that outside economic areas, the has been a drive to de-complexity.
Non economic institutions, bodies which exist for non market/profit reasons are or have been either hollowed out, or co-opted to market purposes. Charities as vast engines of self enrichment for a chain of insiders. Community groups, defunded, or shriveled to an appendix by "market forces". The list goes on and on.
Reducing the "not-market" to the status of sliced-white-bread makes us all the more dependant on the machinated complexities of "the market" .god help us .

Jay Jay August 21, 2015 at 8:00 am

Joseph Tainter's thesis, set out in "The Collapse of Complex Societies" is simple: as a civilization ages its use of energy becomes less efficient and more costly, until the Law of Diminishing Returns kicks in, generates its own momentum and the system grinds to a halt. Perhaps this article describes a late stage of that process. However, it is worth noting that, for the societies Tainter studied, the process was ineluctable. Not so for our society: we have the ability -- and the opportunity -- to switch energy sources.

Moneta August 21, 2015 at 5:48 pm

In my grandmother's youth, they did not burn wood for nothing. Splitting wood was hard work that required calories.

Today, we heat up our patios at night with gas heaters The amount of economic activity based on burning energy not related to survival is astounding.

A huge percentage of our GDP is based on economies of scale and economic efficiencies but are completely disconnected from environmental efficiencies.

This total loss is control between nature and our lifestyles will be our waterloo .

TG August 21, 2015 at 8:20 am

An interesting article as usual, but here is another take.

Indeed, sometimes complex systems can collapse under the weight of their own complexity (Think: credit default swaps). But sometimes there is a single simple thing that is crushing the system, and the complexity is a desperate attempt to patch things up that is eventually destroyed by brute force.

Consider a forced population explosion: the people are multiplied exponentially. This reduces per capita physical resources, tends to reduce per-capita capital, and limits the amount of time available to adapt: a rapidly growing population puts an economy on a treadmill that gets faster and faster and steeper and steeper until it takes superhuman effort just to maintain the status quo. There is a reason why, for societies without an open frontier, essentially no nation has ever become prosperous with out first moderating the fertility rate.

However, you can adapt. New technologies can be developed. New regulations written to coordinate an ever more complex system. Instead of just pumping water from a reservoir, you need networks of desalinization plants – with their own vast networks of power plants and maintenance supply chains – and recycling plans, and monitors and laws governing water use, and more efficient appliances, etc.etc.

As an extreme, consider how much effort and complexity it takes to keep a single person alive in the space station.

That's why in California cars need to be emissions tested, but in Alabama they don't – and the air is cleaner in Alabama. More people needs more controls and more exotic technology and more rules.

Eventually the whole thing starts to fall apart. But to blame complexity itself, is possibly missing the point.

Steve H. August 21, 2015 at 8:30 am

No system is ever 'the'.

Jim Haygood August 21, 2015 at 11:28 am

Two words, Steve: Soviet Union.

It's gone now. But we're rebuilding it, bigger and better.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:54 pm

If, of course, bigger is better.

Facts not in evidence.

Ulysses August 21, 2015 at 8:40 am

"But because system operations are never trouble free, human practitioner adaptations to changing conditions actually create safety from moment to moment. These adaptations often amount to just the selection of a well-rehearsed routine from a store of available responses; sometimes, however, the adaptations are novel combinations or de novo creations of new approaches."

This may just be a rationalization, on my part, for having devoted so much time to historical studies– but it seems to me that historians help civilizations prevent collapse, by preserving for them the largest possible "store of available responses."

aronj August 21, 2015 at 8:41 am

Yves,

Thanks for posting this very interesting piece! As you know, I am a fan Bookstaber's concept of tight coupling. Interestingly, Bookstaber (2007) does not reference Cook's significant work on complex systems.

Before reading this article, I considered the most preventable accidents involve a sequence of events uninterrupted by human intelligence. This needs to be modified by Cook's points 8, 9. 10 and 12.

In using the aircraft landing in the New York river as an example of interrupting a sequence of events, the inevitable accident occurred but no lives were lost. Thus the human intervention was made possible by the unknowable probability of coupling the cause with a possible alternative landing site. A number of aircraft accidents involve failed attempts to find a possible landing site, even though Cook's point #12 was in play.

Thanks for the post!!!!!

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 8:47 am

A possible issue with or a misunderstanding of #7. Catastrophic failure can be made up of small failures that tend to follow a critical path or multiple critical paths. While a single point of origin for catastrophic failure may rarely if ever occur in a complex system, it is possible and likely in such a system to have collections of small failures that occur or tend to occur in specific sequences of order. Population explosion (as TG points out) would be a good example of a failure in a complex social system that is part of a critical path to catastrophic failure.

Such sequences, characterized by orders of precedence, are more likely in tightly coupled systems (which as Yves points out can be any system pushed to the max). The point is, they can be identified and isolated at least in situations where a complex system is not being misused or pushed to it's limits or created due to human corruption where such sequences of likelihood may be viewed or baked into the system (such as by propaganda->ideology) as features and not bugs.

Spring Texan August 21, 2015 at 8:53 am

I agree completely that maximum efficiency comes with horrible costs. When hospitals are staffed so that people are normally busy every minute, patients routinely suffer more as often no one has time to treat them like a human being, and when things deviate from the routine, people have injuries and deaths. Same is true in other contexts.

washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:40 am

Agreed, but that's not caused by efficiency. That's caused by inequality. Healthcare has huge dispariaties in wages and working conditions. The point of keeping things tightly staffed is to allow big bucks for the top doctors and administrators.

susan the other August 21, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Yes. When one efficiency conflicts with and destroys another efficiency. Eq. Your mother juggled a job and a family and ran around in turbo mode but she dropped everything when her kids were in trouble. That is an example of an efficiency that can juggle contradictions and still not fail.

JTMcPhee August 21, 2015 at 11:38 am

Might this nurse observe that in hospitals, there isn't and can't be a "routine" to deviate from, no matter how fondly "managers" wish to try to make it and how happy they may be to take advantage of the decent, empathic impulses of many nurses and/or the need to work to eat of those that are just doing a job. Hence the kindly (sic) practice of "calling nurses off" or sending them home if "the census is down," which always runs aground against a sudden influx of billable bodies or medical crises that the residual staff is expected to just somehow cope with caring for or at least processing, until the idiot frictions in the staffing machinery add a few more person-hours of labor to the mix. The larger the institution, the greater the magnitude and impact (pain, and dead or sicker patients and staff too) of the "excursions from the norm."

It's all about the ruling decisions on what are deemed (as valued by where the money goes) appropriate outcomes of the micro-political economy In the absence of an organizing principle that values decency and stability and sustainability rather than upward wealth transfer.

Will August 21, 2015 at 8:54 am

I'll join the choir recommending Tainter as a critical source for anybody interested in this stuff.

IBG/YBG is a new concept for me, with at least one famous antecedent. "Après moi, le déluge."

diptherio August 21, 2015 at 9:17 am

The author presents the best-case scenario for complex systems: one in which the practitioners involved are actually concerned with maintaining system integrity. However, as Yves points out, that is far from being case in many of our most complex systems.

For instance, the Silvertip pipeline spill near Billings, MT a few years ago may indeed have been a case of multiple causes leading to unforeseen/unforeseeable failure of an oil pipeline as it crossed the Yellowstone river. However, the failure was made immeasurably worse due to the fact that Exxon had failed to supply that pump-station with a safety manual, so when the alarms started going off the guy in the station had to call around to a bunch of people to figure out what was going on. So while it's possible that the failure would have occurred no matter what, the failure of the management to implement even the most basic of safety procedures made the failure much worse than it otherwise would have been.

And this is a point that the oil company apologists are all too keen to obscure. The argument gets trotted out with some regularity that because these oil/gas transmission systems are so complex, some accidents and mishaps are bound to occur. This is true–but it is also true that the incentives of the capitalist system ensure that there will be more and worse accidents than necessary, as the agents involved in maintaining the system pursue their own personal interests which often conflict with the interests of system stability and safety.

Complex systems have their own built-in instabilities, as the author points out; but we've added a system of un-accountability and irresponsibility on top of our complex systems which ensures that failures will occur more often and with greater fall-out than the best-case scenario imagined by the author.

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 9:42 am

As Yves pointed out, there is a lack of agency in the article. A corrupt society will tend to generate corrupt systems just as it tends to generate corrupt technology and corrupt ideology. For instance, we get lots of little cars driving themselves about, profitably to the ideology of consumption, but also with an invisible thumb of control, rather than a useful system of public transportation. We get "abstenence only" population explosion because "groath" rather than any rational assessment of obvious future catastrophe.

washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:06 am

Right on. The primary issue of our time is a failure of management. Complexity is an excuse more often than an explanatory variable.

abynormal August 21, 2015 at 3:28 pm

abynormal
August 21, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Am I the only hearing 9″Nails, March of the Pigs

Aug. 21, 2015 1:54 a.m. ET

A Carlyle Group LP hedge fund that anticipated a sudden currency-policy shift in China gained roughly $100 million in two days last week, a sign of how some bearish bets on the world's second-largest economy are starting to pay off.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/hedge-fund-gains-100-million-in-two-days-on-bearish-china-bet-1440136499?mod=e2tw

oink oink is the sound of system fail

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 3:40 pm

A very important principle:

All systems have a failure rate, including people. We don't get to live in a world where we don't need to lock our doors and banks don't need vaults. (If you find it, be sure to radio back.)

The article is about how we deal with that failure rate. Pointing out that there are failures misses the point.

cnchal August 21, 2015 at 5:05 pm

. . .but it is also true that the incentives of the capitalist system ensure that there will be more and worse accidents than necessary, as the agents involved in maintaining the system pursue their own personal interests which often conflict with the interests of system stability and safety.

How true. A Chinese city exploded. Talk about a black swan. I wonder what the next disaster will be?

hemeantwell August 21, 2015 at 9:32 am

After a skimmy read of the post and reading James' lead-off comment re emperors (Brooklin Bridge comment re misuse is somewhat resonant) it seems to me that a distinguishing feature of systems is not being addressed and therefore being treated as though it's irrelevant.

What about the mandate for a system to have an overarching, empowered regulatory agent, one that could presumably learn from the reflections contained in this post? In much of what is posted here at NC writers give due emphasis to the absence/failure of a range of regulatory functions relevant to this stage of capitalism. These run from SEC corruption to the uncontrolled movement of massive amount of questionably valuable value in off the books transactions between banks, hedge funds etc. This system intentionally has a deliberately weakened control/monitoring function, ideologically rationalized as freedom but practically justified as maximizing accumulation possibilities for the powerful. It is self-lobotomizing, a condition exacerbated by national economic territories (to some degree). I'm not going to now jump up with 3 cheers for socialism as capable of resolving problems posed by capitalism. But, to stay closer to the level of abstraction of the article, doesn't the distinction between distributed opacity + unregulated concentrations of power vs. transparency + some kind of central governing authority matter? Maybe my Enlightenment hubris is riding high after the morning coffee, but this is a kind of self-awareness that assumes its range is limited, even as it posits that limit. Hegel was all over this, which isn't to say he resolved the conundrum, but it's not even identified here.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:06 pm

Think of Trump as the pimple finally coming to a head: he's making the greed so obvious, and pissing off so many people that some useful regulation might occur.

Another thought about world social collapse: if such a thing is likely, (and I'm sure the PTB know if it is, judging from the reports from the Pentagon about how Global Warming being a national security concern) wouldn't it be a good idea to have a huge ability to overpower the rest of the world?

We might be the only nation that survives as a nation, and we might actually have an Empire of the World, previously unattainable. Maybe SkyNet is really USANet. It wouldn't require any real change in the national majority of creepy grabby people.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 9:43 am

Government bureaucrats and politicians pursue their own interests just as businessmen do. Pollution was much worst in the non-capitalist Soviet Union, East Germany and Eastern Europe than it was in the Capitalist West. Chernobyl happened under socialism not capitalism. The present system in China, although not exactly "socialism", certainly involves a massively powerful govenment but a glance at the current news shows that massive governmental power does not necessarily prevent accidents. The agency problem is not unique to or worse in capitalism than in other systems.

Holly August 21, 2015 at 9:51 am

I'd throw in the theory of cognitive dissonance as an integral part of the failure of complex systems. (Example Tarvis and Aronon's recent book: Mistakes Were Made (But Not by me))

We are more apt to justify bad decisions, with bizarre stories, than to accept our own errors (or mistakes of people important to us). It explains (but doesn't make it easier to accept) the complete disconnect between accepted facts and fanciful justifications people use to support their ideas/organization/behavior.

craazymann August 21, 2015 at 10:03 am

I think this one suffers "Metaphysical Foo Foo Syndrome" MFFS. That means use of words to reference realities that are inherently ill-defined and often unobservable leading to untestable theories and deeply personal approaches to epistemological reasoning.

just what is a 'complex system"? A system implies a boundary - there are things part of the system and things outside the system. That's a hard concept to identify - just where the system ends and something else begins. So when 'the system' breaks down, it's hard to tell with any degree of testable objectivity whether the breakdown resulted from "the system" or from something outside the system and the rest was just "an accident that could have happened to anybody'"

maybe the idea is; '"if something breaks down at the worst possible time and in a way that fkks everything up, then it must have been a complex system". But it could also have been a simple system that ran into bad luck. Consider your toilet. Maybe you put too much toilet paper in it, and it clogged. Then it overflowed and ran out into your hallway with your shit everywhere. Then you realized you had an expensive Chinese rug on the floor. oh no! That was bad. you were gonna put tthat rug away as soon as you had a chance to admire it unrolled. Why did you do that? Big fckk up. But it wasn't a complex system. It was just one of those things.

susan the other August 21, 2015 at 12:14 pm

thanks for that, I think

Gio Bruno August 21, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Actually, it was a system too complex for this individual. S(He) became convinced the plumbing would work as it had previously. But doo to poor maintenance, too much paper, or a stiff BM the "system" didn't work properly. There must have been opportunity to notice something anomalous, but appropriate oversight wasn't applied.

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 3:29 pm

You mean the BM was too tightly coupled?

craazyman August 21, 2015 at 4:22 pm

It coould happen to anybody after enough pizza and red wine

people weren't meant to be efficient. paper towels and duct tape can somettmes help

This ocurred to me: The entire 1960s music revolution would't have happened if anybody had to be efficient about hanging out and jamming. You really have to lay around and do nothing if you want to achieve great things. You need many opportunities to fail and learn before the genius flies. That's why tightly coupled systems are self-defeating. Because they wipe too many people out before they've had a chance to figure out the universe.

JustAnObserver August 21, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Excellent example of tight coupling: Toilet -> Floor -> Hallway -> $$$ Rug

Fix: Apply Break coupling procedure #1: Shut toilet door.
Then: Procedure #2 Jam inexpensive old towels in gap at the bottom.

As with all such measures this buys the most important thing of all – time. In this case to get the $$$Rug out of the way.

IIRC one of Bookstaber's points was that that, in the extreme, tight coupling allows problems to propagate through the system so fast and so widely that we have no chance to mitigate before they escalate to disaster.

washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:03 am

To put it more simply, the drift of both economic and business thinking has been to optimize activity for efficiency.

I think that's an interesting framework. I would say effeciency is achieving the goal in the most effective manner possible. Perhaps that's measured in energy, perhaps labor, perhaps currency units, but whatever the unit of measure, you are minimizing that input cost.

What our economics and business thinking (and most importantly, political thinking) has primarily been doing, I would say, is not optimizing for efficiency. Rather, they are changing the goal being optimized. The will to power has replaced efficiency as the actual outcome.

Unchecked theft, looting, predation, is not efficient. Complexity and its associated secrecy is used to hide the inefficiency, to justify and promote that which would not otherwise stand scrutiny in the light of day.

BigEd August 21, 2015 at 10:11 am

What nonsense. All around us 'complex systems' (airliners, pipelines, coal mines, space stations, etc.) have become steadily LESS prone to failure/disaster over the decades. We are near the stage where the only remaining danger in air travel is human error. We will soon see driverless cars & trucks, and you can be sure accident rates will decline as the human element is taken out of their operation.

tegnost August 21, 2015 at 12:23 pm

see fukushima, lithium batteries spontaneously catching fire, financial engineering leading to collapse unless vast energy is invested in them to re stabilize Driverless cars and trucks are not that soon, tech buddies say ten years I say malarkey based on several points made in the article, while as brooklyn bridge points out public transit languishes, and washunate points out that trains and other more efficient means of locomotion are starved while more complex methods have more energy thrown at them which could be better applied elsewhere. I think you're missing the point by saying look at all our complex systems, they work fine and then you ramble off a list of things with high failure potential and say look they haven't broken yet, while things that have broken and don't support your view are left out. By this mechanism safety protocols are eroded (that accident you keep avoiding hasn't happened, which means you're being too cautious so your efficiency can be enhanced by not worrying about it until it happens then you can fix it but as pointed out above tightly coupled systems can't react fast enough at which point we all have to hear the whocoodanode justification )

susan the other August 21, 2015 at 12:34 pm

And the new points of failure will be what?

susan the other August 21, 2015 at 3:00 pm

So here's a question. What is the failure heirarchy. And why don't those crucial nodes of failsafe protect the system. Could it be that we don't know what they are?

Moneta August 22, 2015 at 8:09 am

While 90% of people were producing food a few decades ago, I think a large percentage will be producing energy in a few decades right now we are still propping up our golf courses and avoiding investing in pipelines and refineries. We are still exploiting the assets of the 50s and 60s to live our hyper material lives. Those investments are what gave us a few decades of consumerism.

Now everyone wants government to spend on infra without even knowing what needs to go and what needs to stay. Maybe half of Californians need to get out of there and forget about building more infra there just a thought.

America still has a frontier ethos how in the world can the right investments in infra be made with a collection of such values?

We're going to get city after city imploding. More workers producing energy and less leisure over the next few decades. That's what breakdown is going to look like.

Moneta August 22, 2015 at 8:22 am

Flying might get safer and safer while we get more and more cities imploding.

Just like statues on Easter Island were getting increasingly elaborate as trees were disappearing.

ian August 21, 2015 at 4:02 pm

What you say is true, but only if you have a sufficient number of failures to learn from. A lot of planes had to crash for air travel to be as safe as it is today.

wm.annis August 21, 2015 at 10:19 am

I am surprised to see no reference to John Gall's General Systematics in this discussion, an entire study of systems and how they misbehave. I tend to read it from the standpoint of managing a complex IT infrastructure, but his work starts from human systems (organizations).

The work is organized around aphorisms - Systems tend to oppose their own proper function - The real world is what it is reported to the system - but one or two from this paper should be added to that repertoire. Point 7 seems especially important. From Gall, I have come to especially appreciate the Fail-Safe Theorem: "when a Fail-Safe system fails, it fails by failing to fail safe."

flora August 21, 2015 at 10:32 am

Instead of writing something long and rambling about complex systems being aggregates of smaller, discrete systems, each depending on a functioning and accurate information processing/feedback (not IT) system to maintain its coherence; and upon equally well functioning feedback systems between the parts and the whole - instead of that I'll quote a poem.

" Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; "

-Yates, "The Second Coming"

flora August 21, 2015 at 10:46 am

erm make that "Yeats", as in W.B.

Steve H. August 21, 2015 at 11:03 am

So, naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite 'em,
And so proceed ad infinitum.

– Swift

LifelongLib August 21, 2015 at 7:38 pm

IIRC in Robert A. Heinlein's "The Puppet Masters" there's a different version:

Big fleas have little fleas
Upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas
And so, ad infinitum.

Since the story is about humans being parasitized and controlled by alien "slugs" that sit on their backs, and the slugs in turn being destroyed by an epidemic disease started by the surviving humans, the verse has a macabre appropriateness.

LifelongLib August 21, 2015 at 10:14 pm

Original reply got eaten, so I hope not double post. Robert A. Heinlein's (and others?) version:

Big fleas have little fleas
Upon their backs to bite 'em
And little fleas have lesser fleas
And so ad infinitum!

Lambert Strether August 21, 2015 at 10:26 pm

The order Siphonoptera .

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 10:59 pm

"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?"

I can't leave that poem without its ending – especially as it becomes ever more relevant.

Oldeguy August 21, 2015 at 11:02 am

Terrific post- just the sort of thing that has made me a NC fan for years.
I'm a bit surprised that the commentators ( thus far ) have not referred to the Financial Crisis of 2008 and the ensuing Great Recession as being an excellent example of Cook's failure analysis.

Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera's

All The Devils Are Here www.amazon.com/All-Devils-Are-Here-Financial/dp/159184438X/

describes beautifully how the erosion of the protective mechanisms in the U.S. financial system, no single one of which would have of itself been deadly in its absence ( Cook's Point 3 ) combined to produce the Perfect Storm.

It brought to mind Garett Hardin's The Tragedy Of The Commons https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons . While the explosive growth of debt ( and therefore risk ) obviously jeopardized the entire system, it was very much within the narrow self interest of individual players to keep the growth ( and therefore the danger ) increasing.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:14 pm

Bingo. Failure of the culture to properly train its members. Not so much a lack of morality as a failure to point out that when the temple falls, it falls on Samson.

The next big fix is to use the US military to wall off our entire country, maybe include Canada (language is important in alliances) during the Interregnum.

Why is no one mentioning the Foundation Trilogy and Hari Seldon here?

Deloss August 21, 2015 at 11:29 am

My only personal experience with the crash of a complex, tightly-coupled system was the crash of the trading floor of a very big stock exchange in the early part of this century. The developers were in the computer room, telling the operators NOT to roll back to the previous release, and the operators ignored them and did so anyway. Crash!

In Claus Jensen's fascinating account of the Challenger disaster, NO DOWNLINK, he describes how the managers overrode the engineers' warnings not to fly under existing weather conditions. We all know the result.

Human error was the final cause in both cases.

Now we are undergoing the terrible phenomenon of global warming, which everybody but Republicans, candidates and elected, seems to understand is real and catastrophic. The Republicans have a majority in Congress, and refuse–for ideological and monetary reasons–to admit that the problem exists. I think this is another unfolding disaster that we can ascribe to human error.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:17 pm

"Human error" needs unpacking here. In this discussion, it's become a Deus ex Humanitas. Humans do what they do because their cultural experiences impel them to do so. Human plus culture is not the same as human. That's why capitalism doesn't work in a selfish society.

Oldeguy August 21, 2015 at 5:52 pm

" capitalism doesn't work in a selfish society "
Very true, not nearly so widely realized as it should be, and the Irony of Ironies .

BayesianGame August 21, 2015 at 11:48 am

But highly efficient systems are fragile. Formula One cars are optimized for speed and can only run one race.

Another problem with obsessing about (productive or technical) efficiency is that it usually means a narrow focus on the most measured or measurable inputs and outputs, to the detriment of less measurable but no less important aspects. Wages are easier to measure than the costs of turnover, including changes in morale, loss of knowledge and skill, and regard for the organization vs. regard for the individual. You want low cost fish? Well, it might be caught by slaves. Squeeze the measurable margins, and the hidden margins will move.

Donw August 21, 2015 at 3:18 pm

You hint at a couple fallacies.

1) Measuring what is easy instead of what is important.
2) Measuring many things and then optimizing all of them optimizes the whole.

Then, have some linear thinker try to optimize those in a complex system (like any organization involving humans) with multiple hidden and delayed feedback loops, and the result will certainly be unexpected. Whether for good or ill is going to be fairly unpredictable unless someone has actually looked for the feedback loops.

IsabelPS August 21, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Very good.

It's nice to see well spelled out a couple of intuitions I've had for a long time. For example, that we are going in the wrong direction when we try to streamline instead of following the path of biology: redundancies, "dirtiness" and, of course, the king of mechanisms, negative feedback (am I wrong in thinking that the main failure of finance, as opposed to economy, is that it has inbuilt positive feedback instead of negative?). And yes, my professional experience has taught me that when things go really wrong it was never just one mistake, it is a cluster of those.

downunderer August 22, 2015 at 3:52 am

Yes, as you hint here, and I would make forcefully explicit: COMPLEX vs NOT-COMPLEX is a false dichotomy that is misleading from the start.

We ourselves, and all the organisms we must interact with in order to stay alive, are individually among the most complex systems that we know of. And the interactions of all of us that add up to Gaia are yet more complex. And still it moves.

Natural selection built the necessary stability features into our bodily complexity. We even have a word for it: homeostasis. Based on negative feedback loops that can keep the balancing act going. And our bodies are vastly more complex than our societies.

Society's problem right now is not complexity per se, but the exploitation of complexity by system components that want to hog the resources and to hell with the whole, quite exactly parallel to the behavior of cancer cells in our bodies when regulatory systems fail.

In our society's case, it is the intelligent teamwork of the stupidly selfish that has destroyed the regulatory systems. Instead of negative feedback keeping deviations from optimum within tolerable limits, we now have positive feedback so obvious it is trite: the rich get richer.

We not only don't need to de-complexify, we don't dare to. We really need to foster the intelligent teamwork that our society is capable of, or we will fail to survive challenges like climate change and the need to sensibly control the population. The alternative is to let natural selection do the job for us, using the old reliable four horsemen.

We are unlikely to change our own evolved selfishness, and probably shouldn't. But we need to control the monsters that we have created within our society. These monsters have all the selfishness of a human at his worst, plus several natural large advantages, including size, longevity, and the ability to metamorphose and regenerate. And as powerful as they already were, they have recently been granted all the legal rights of human citizens, without appropriate negative feedback controls. Everyone here will already know what I'm talking about, so I'll stop.

Peter Pan August 21, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Formula One cars are optimized for speed and can only run one race.

Actually I believe F1 has rules regarding the number of changes that can be made to a car during the season. This is typically four or five changes (replacements or rebuilds), so a F1 car has to be able to run more than one race or otherwise face penalties.

jo6pac August 21, 2015 at 1:41 pm

Yes, F-1 allows four power planets per-season it has been up dated lately to 5. There isn't anything in the air or ground as complex as a F-1 car power planet. The cars are feeding 30 or more engineers at the track and back home normal in England millions of bit of info per second and no micro-soft is not used but very complex programs watching every system in the car. A pit stop in F-1 is 2.7 seconds anything above 3.5 and your not trying hard enough.

Honda who pride themselves in Engineering has struggled in power planet design this year and admit they have but have put more engineers on the case. The beginning of this Tech engine design the big teams hired over 100 more engineers to solve the problems. Ferrari throw out the first design and did a total rebuild and it working.

This is how the world of F-1 has moved into other designs, long but a fun read.
http://www.wired.com/2015/08/mclaren-applied-technologies-f1/

I'm sure those in F-1 system designs would look at stories like this and would come to the conclusion that these nice people are the gate keepers and not the future. Yes, I'm a long time fan of F-1. Then again what do I know.

The sad thing in F-1 the gate keepers are the owners CVC.

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Interesting comment! One has to wonder why every complex system can't be treated as the be-all. Damn the torpedos. Spare no expense! Maybe if we just admitted we are all doing absolutely nothing but going around in a big circle at an ever increasing speed, we could get a near perfect complex system to help us along.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:21 pm

If the human race were as important as auto racing, maybe. But we know that's not true ;->

jo6pac August 21, 2015 at 5:51 pm

In the link it's the humans of McLaren that make all the decisions on the car and the race on hand. The link is about humans working together either in real race time or designing out problems created by others.

Marsha August 21, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Globalization factors in maximizing the impact of Murphy's Law:

  1. Meltdown potential of a globalized 'too big to fail' financial system associated with trade imbalances and international capital flows, and boom and bust impact of volatile "hot money".
  2. Environmental damage associated with inefficiency of excessive long long supply chains seeking cheap commodities and dirty polluting manufacturing zones.
  3. Military vulnerability of same long tightly coupled 'just in time" supply chains across vast oceans, war zones, choke points that are very easy to attack and nearly impossible to defend.
  4. Consumer product safety threat of manufacturing somewhere offshore out of sight out of mind outside the jurisdiction of the domestic regulatory system.
  5. Geographic concentration and contagion of risk of all kinds – fragile pattern of horizontal integration – manufacturing in China, finance in New York and London, industrialized mono culture agriculture lacking biodiversity (Iowa feeds the world). If all the bulbs on the Christmas tree are wired in series, it takes only one to fail and they all go out.

Globalization is not a weather event, not a thermodynamic process of atoms and molecules, not a principle of Newtonian physics, not water running downhill, but a hyper aggressive top down policy agenda by power hungry politicians and reckless bean counter economists. An agenda hell bent on creating a tightly coupled globally integrated unstable house of cards with a proven capacity for catastrophic (trade) imbalance, global financial meltdown, contagion of bad debt, susceptibility to physical threats of all kinds.

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Any complex system contains non-linear feedback. Management presumes it is their skill that keeps the system working over some limited range, where the behavior approximates linear. Outside those limits, the system can fail catastrophically. What is perceived as operating or management skill is either because the system is kept in "safe" limits, or just happenstance. See chaos theory.

Operators or engineers controlling or modifying the system are providing feedback. Feedback can push the system past "safe" limits. Once past safe limits, the system can fail catastrophically Such failure happen very quickly, and are always "a surprise".

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 1:43 pm

All complex system contain non-linear feedback, and all appear manageable over a small rage of operation, under specific conditions.

These are the systems' safe working limits, and sometimes the limits are known, but in many case the safe working limits are unknown (See Stock Markets).

All systems with non-linear feedback can and will fail, catastrophically.

All predicted by Chaos Theory. Best mathematical filed applicable to the real world of systems.

So I'll repeat. All complex system will fail when operating outside safe limits, change in the system, management induced and stimulus induced, can and will redefine those limits, with spectacular results.

We hope and pray system will remain within safe limits, but greed and complacency lead us humans to test those limits (loosen the controls), or enable greater levels of feedback (increase volumes of transactions). See Crash of 2007, following repeal of Glass-Stegal, etc.

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 4:05 pm

It's Ronnie Ray Gun. He redefined it as, "Safe for me but not for thee." Who says you can't isolate the root?

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 5:25 pm

Ronnie Ray Gun was the classic example of a Manager.

Where one can only say: "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do"

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Three quite different thoughts:

First, I don't think the use of "practitioner" is an evasion of agency. Instead, it reflects the very high level of generality inherent in systems theory. The pitfall is that generality is very close to vagueness. However, the piece does contain an argument against the importance of agency; it argues that the system is more important than the individual practitioners, that since catastrophic failures have multiple causes, individual agency is unimportant. That might not apply to practitioners with overall responsibility or who intentionally wrecked the system; there's a naive assumption that everyone's doing their best. I think the author would argue that control fraud is also a system failure, that there are supposed to be safeguards against malicious operators. Bill Black would probably agree. (Note that I dropped off the high level of generality to a particular example.)

Second, this appears to defy the truism from ecology that more complex systems are more stable. I think that's because ecologies generally are not tightly coupled. There are not only many parts but many pathways (and no "practitioners"). So "coupling" is a key concept not much dealt with in the article. It's about HUMAN systems, even though the concept should apply more widely than that.

Third, Yves mentioned the economists' use of "equilibrium." This keeps coming up; the way the word is used seems to me to badly need definition. It comes from chemistry, where it's used to calculate the production from a reaction. The ideal case is a closed system: for instance, the production of ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen in a closed pressure chamber. You can calculate the proportion of ammonia produced from the temperature and pressure of the vessel. It's a fairly fast reaction, so time isn't a big factor.

The Earth is not a closed system, nor are economies. Life is driven by the flow of energy from the Sun (and various other factors, like the steady rain of material from space). In open systems, "equilibrium" is a constantly moving target. In principle, you could calculate the results at any given condition , given long enough for the many reactions to finish. It's as if the potential equilibrium drives the process (actually, the inputs do).

Not only is the target moving, but the whole system is chaotic in the sense that it's highly dependent on variables we can't really measure, like people, so the outcomes aren't actually predictable. That doesn't really mean you can't use the concept of equilibrium, but it has to be used very carefully. Unfortunately, most economists are pretty ignorant of physical science, so ignorant they insistently defy the laws of thermodynamics ("groaf"), so there's a lot of magical thinking going on. It's really ideology, so the misuse of "equilibrium" is just one aspect of the system failure.

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 5:34 pm

Really?

"equilibrium from chemistry, where it's used to calculate the production from a reaction"

That is certainly a definition in one scientific field.

There is another definition from physics.

When all the forces that act upon an object are balanced, then the object is said to be in a state of equilibrium.

However objects on a table are considered in equilibrium, until one considers an earthquake.

The condition for an equilibrium need to be carefully defined, and there are few cases, if any, of equilibrium "under all conditions."

nat scientist August 21, 2015 at 7:42 pm

Equilibrium ceases when Chemistry breaks out, dear Physicist.

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 10:19 pm

Equilibrium ceases when Chemistry breaks out

This is only a subset.

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 10:56 pm

I avoided physics, being not so very mathematical, so learned the chemistry version – but I do think it's the one the economists are thinking of.

What I neglected to say: it's an analogy, hence potentially useful but never literally true – especially since there's no actual stopping point, like your table.

John Merryman August 21, 2015 at 3:09 pm

There is much simpler way to look at it, in terms of natural cycles, because the alternative is that at the other extreme, a happy medium is also a flatline on the big heart monitor. So the bigger it builds, the more tension and pressure accumulates. The issue then becomes as to how to leverage the consequences. As they say, a crisis should never be wasted. At its heart, there are two issues, economic overuse of resources and a financial medium in which the rent extraction has overwhelmed its benefits. These actually serve as some sort of balance, in that we are in the process of an economic heart attack, due to the clogging of this monetary circulation system, that will seriously slow economic momentum.

The need then is to reformulate how these relationships function, in order to direct and locate our economic activities within the planetary resources. One idea to take into consideration being that money functions as a social contract, though we treat it as a commodity. So recognizing it is not property to be collected, rather contracts exchanged, then there wouldn't be the logic of basing the entire economy around the creation and accumulation of notational value, to the detriment of actual value. Treating money as a public utility seems like socialism, but it is just an understanding of how it functions. Like a voucher system, simply creating excess notes to keep everyone happy is really, really stupid, big picture wise.

Obviously some parts of the system need more than others, but not simply for ego gratification. Like a truck needs more road than a car, but an expensive car only needs as much road as an economy car. The brain needs more blood than the feet, but it doesn't want the feet rotting off due to poor circulation either.
So basically, yes, complex systems are finite, but we need to recognize and address the particular issues of the system in question.

Bob Stapp August 21, 2015 at 5:30 pm

Perhaps in a too-quick scan of the comments, I overlooked any mention of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book, Antifragile. If so, my apologies. If not, it's a serious omission from this discussion.

Local to Oakland August 21, 2015 at 6:34 pm

Thank you for this.

I first wondered about something related to this theme when I first heard about just in time sourcing of inventory. (Now also staff.) I wondered then whether this was possible because we (middle and upper class US citizens) had been shielded from war and other catastrophic events. We can plan based on everything going right because most of us don't know in our gut that things can always go wrong.

I'm genX, but 3 out of 4 of my grandparents were born during or just after WWI. Their generation built for redundancy, safety, stability. Our generation, well. We take risks and I'm not sure the decision makers have a clue that any of it can bite them.

Jeremy Grimm August 22, 2015 at 4:23 pm

The just-in-time supply of components for manufacturing was described in Barry Lynn's book "Cornered" and identified as creating extreme fragility in the American production system. There have already been natural disasters that shutdown American automobile production in our recent past.

Everything going right wasn't part of the thinking that went into just-in-time parts. Everything going right - long enough - to steal away market share on price-point was the thinking. Decision makers don't worry about any of this biting them. Passing the blame down and golden parachutes assure that.

flora August 21, 2015 at 7:44 pm

This is really a very good paper. My direct comments are:

point 2: yes. provided the safety shields are not discarded for bad reasons like expedience or ignorance or avarice. See Glass-Steagall Act, for example.

point 4: yes. true of all dynamic systems.

point 7: 'root cause' is not the same as 'key factors'. ( And here the doctor's sensitivity to malpractice suits may be guiding his language.) It is important to determine key factors in order to devise better safety shields for the system. Think airplane black boxes and the 1932 Pecora Commission after the 1929 stock market crash.

Jay M August 21, 2015 at 9:01 pm

It's easy, complexity became too complex. And I can't read the small print. We are devolving into a world of happy people with gardens full of flowers that they live in on their cell phones.

Ancaeus August 22, 2015 at 5:22 am

There are a number of counter-examples; engineered and natural systems with a high degree of complexity that are inherently stable and fault-tolerant, nonetheless.

1. Subsumption architecture is a method of controlling robots, invented by Rodney Brooks in the 1980s. This scheme is modeled on the way the nervous systems of animals work. In particular, the parts of the robot exist in a hierarchy of subsystems, e.g., foot, leg, torso, etc. Each of these subsystems is autonomously controlled. Each of the subsystems can override the autonomous control of its constituent subsystems. So, the leg controller can directly control the leg muscle, and can override the foot subsystem. This method of control was remarkably successful at producing walking robots which were not sensitive to unevenness of the surface. In other words, the were not brittle in the sense of Dr. Cook. Of course, subsumption architecture is not a panacea. But it is a demonstrated way to produce very complex engineered systems consisting of many interacting parts that are very stable.

2. The inverted pendulum Suppose you wanted to build a device to balance a pencil on its point. You could imagine a sensor to detect the angle of the pencil, an actuator to move the balance point, and a controller to link the two in a feedback loop. Indeed, this is, very roughly, how a Segway remains upright. However, there is a simpler way to do it, without a sensor or a feedback controller. It turns out that if your device just moves the balance point sinusoidaly (e.g., in a small circle) and if the size of the circle and the rate are within certain ranges, then the pencil will be stable. This is a well-known consequence of the Mathieu equation. The lesson here is that stability (i.e., safety) can be inherent in systems for subtle reasons that defy a straightforward fault/response feedback.

3. Emergent behavior of swarms Large numbers of very simple agents interacting with one another can sometimes exhibit complex, even "intelligent" behavior. Ants are a good example. Each ant has only simple behavior. However, the entire ant colony can act in complex and effective ways that would be hard to predict from the individual ant behaviors. A typical ant colony is highly resistant to disturbances in spite of the primitiveness of its constituent ants.

4. Another example is the mammalian immune system that uses negative selection as one mechanism to avoid attacking the organism itself. Immature B cells are generated in large numbers at random, each one with receptors for specifically configured antigens. During maturation, if they encounter a matching antigen (likely a protein of the organism) then the B cell either dies, or is inactivated. At maturity, what is left is a highly redundant cohort of B cells that only recognize (and neutralize) foreign antigens.

Well, these are just a few examples of systems that exhibit stability (or fault-tolerance) that defies the kind of Cartesian analysis in Dr. Cook's article.

Marsha August 22, 2015 at 11:42 am

Glass-Steagall Act: interactions between unrelated functionality is something to be avoided. Auto recall: honking the horn could stall the engine by shorting out the ignition system. Simple fix is is a bit of insulation.

ADA software language: Former DOD standard for large scale safety critical software development: encapsulation, data hiding, strong typing of data, minimization of dependencies between parts to minimize impact of fixes and changes. Has safety critical software gone the way of the Glass-Steagall Act? Now it is buffer overflows, security holes, and internet protocol in hardware control "critical infrastructure" that can blow things up.

[Nov 15, 2017] Lenin's Legacy, Donald Trump and Russian Revolution at 100 Time

Notable quotes:
"... Lenin: The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror, ..."
"... Get your history fix in one place: sign up for the weekly TIME History newsletter ..."
Nov 15, 2017 | time.com

By Simon Shuster / Berlin November 7, 2017 To signal the storming of the Russian imperial palace, the revolutionary guards were supposed to raise a red lantern over the fortress they had occupied in Petrograd, the city now known as St. Petersburg. It was October 1917, and Vladimir Lenin, the leader of Russia's communist underground, was finally within reach of seizing power over the largest country in the world. Pacing around the musty rooms of his rebel headquarters, he demanded that his men raise the lantern onto the flagpole and begin the siege at once.

But there was a problem. They'd forgotten to bring a lantern.

One of Lenin 's henchmen went out to look for one. But he got lost, fell into some mud and returned with a purple lamp, which the insurgents could not figure out how to attach to the flagpole. Eventually they gave up on their idea for a signal and started the siege without it.

With a lot of luck, they were successful. But in Lenin: The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror, a new biography of Lenin written by Victor Sebestyen and published on Tuesday -- the 100th anniversary of Russia's October Revolution -- it becomes clear that Lenin did not attain absolute power through meticulous planning or the ruthless efficiency of his men. Much of his success seems to have come through his ability to bluff, intimidate and improvise. It's a story that, for Sebestyen, still echoes a century later. On the eve of the anniversary of Lenin's revolution, TIME spoke to his biographer about the lucky breaks that helped bring Lenin to power, the legacy he left behind in Russia and the parallels that Sebestyen sees between Trumpism and Leninism.

TIME: The book sheds a lot of light on Lenin's understanding of good and evil. How would you describe the moral compass that he used?

Victor Sebestyen: It's all about the means justifying the ends. That's what it came down to. Anything you do for the cause is morally justifiable. It's similar to the religious idea of saving souls. It doesn't matter how many heretics you burn as long as you're serving that cause.

Didn't Lenin also see himself, in a sense, as saving mankind?

Yes, he was trying to create a new type of human being, a perfect Soviet person – homo sovieticus – who would get rid of slavery and exploitation. The trouble is that people often have a disappointing wish not to be perfected. They first have to be bullied and coerced and, in the end, terrorized. So that's what Lenin did. It was a giant experiment. The scale of its ambition was monumental. But that's what makes the scale of the failure so disastrous.

Your book also suggests that for Lenin, the Russian Revolution was part of a vendetta. He wanted to avenge the death of his older brother, who was executed at the age of 21 for plotting to kill the czar. How much of this was personal to Lenin rather than ideological?

I think there was an element of both. A lot of the legend of Lenin was that of a very cold, very calculating, icy and logical figure. But actually he was moved by emotion every bit as much as ideology. It wasn't only his brother's execution that drove him, but the fact that his whole family was shunned after that by the liberal middle class. Lenin never had a kind word to say about the bourgeois after that, and that drove him just as much as his belief in Marxist theory.

As you describe in the book, Lenin came to power by colluding with a hostile foreign power -- namely, Germany during World War I -- while at the same time making appeals to Russian patriotism and national pride. How did he reconcile these two?

I don't think it was hard for him to reconcile at all. He looked at the ultimate goal, which was power for him, the power to change the world. That was his morality. It didn't matter that he was colluding. He would have seen it as a perfectly reasonable political tactic. Of course he had to hide it, because it would have been embarrassing. But he wouldn't have found the morality troubling one bit. I don't suppose he thought about it for more than a minute.

Some of the early commentaries on your book have suggested that Lenin's tactics resemble those of the Donald Trump campaign during last year's elections. Don't you think such comparisons are a bit of a stretch?

Of course I didn't have Trump in mind when I started writing the book. But I did have in mind the power of demagoguery. So I don't think it's a stretch at all to make that comparison, especially when you look at [Trump's] personality. Some of the same things are said about him: He lies shamelessly; he promises anything and everything; he offers very simple solutions to complicated problems. This is very recognizable today.

When it came down to it, Lenin's messages were often very simple, very pithy, very direct. He would have been fantastic on Twitter. I mean, his slogan -- Peace, Land, Bread -- it's a lot less than 140 characters. I really do think he is the godfather of post-truth politics, and I think we're seeing Leninist stuff going on in our politics quite often.

Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, reportedly called himself a Leninist. Do you see a parallel there as well?

I think there's a big element of Leninism in wanting to destroy everything and start again. That's the parallel between them. [Bannon and his allies] also want to smash the old system, which to them doesn't work, and they want to build anew.

Get your history fix in one place: sign up for the weekly TIME History newsletter

Lenin was also obsessed with propaganda. What were his innovations on that front?

He was really obsessed with film and radio. But he would have used whatever the new technology was at the time. I dread to think how he would use the Internet. His style was always to look at the worst of his opponents and brand them that way. That was always in his argument: Exaggerate everything wrong that your opponent does, and then identify them only like that.

The Russian media haven't paid as much attention as one might expect to the 100th anniversary of the Revolution this week. Nor has President Vladimir Putin. Why is that?

Well, they can't write [Lenin] out completely, because that would basically mean that everything their parents or grandparents fought for is meaningless, that it's all wrong. You can't do that. But trying to come to terms with the communists is not an easy one for Putin. He hates the word revolution . It's appalling to him. For a leader like Putin, it's not a great message to send to your people: Hey, you can actually get rid of an autocratic leader quite easily if you want to.

Then why does the cult of Lenin's disciple and successor, Joseph Stalin, seem to be so much more alive among Russians today?

To them modern history begins in 1945, with victory in the Great Patriotic War, and you can almost forget the years before it. You can write Stalin's history as the great national leader while barely mentioning that he was a communist. But you can't ignore that with Lenin.

Lenin's embalmed corpse is still inside the mausoleum on Red Square, in the center of Moscow, and the question of whether or not to bury him is still a major controversy. Why does Putin seem uninterested in putting it to rest?

He had the chance in 2011, when the mausoleum was in such bad shape that there was a danger of it falling down. That was a chance to get rid of it and bury him. But he said, No. And in the end they spent quite a lot of money propping it up again. I don't know how much of Lenin's actual body is left in there. There may be much more wax than an embalmed body.

Last week Putin unveiled a monument in Moscow to the victims of political repressions. He didn't name and shame Stalin or Lenin during his speech at that ceremony. But what do you make of this step to at least acknowledge that these crimes and purges took place?

That was the first big [monument] with a big state unveiling. But I don't know how you can do that without mentioning the people who committed the repressions and how it happened. Still, the fact that they put up the monument at all is important. It would be churlish to dismiss it. People have been pressing for something like this to happen in Russia for a while, and even though it might not go as far as one might want, at least it's something. It was carefully scripted, carefully crafted. But the fact that it's there at all is a good step.

[Oct 29, 2017] The elte is continuing globalization push. S>heeple are too mesmerized by TV, weed, games, phones, sports, booze, food, the internet and their shitty jobs to ever realize they are in a cage.

Oct 29, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

In other parts in this series, I have discussed the tools that the elite are using to achieve their goals. In part I, I talked about how debt is used as a tool of enslavement, and in part II I explained how central banking is a system of financial control that literally dominates the entire planet ( Part III and Part IV here) Professor Quigley also mentioned this system of financial control in his book

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole."

Today, a system of interlocking global treaties is slowly but surely merging us into a global economic system. The World Trade Organization was formed on January 1, 1995, and 164 nations now belong to it. And every time you hear of a new "free trade agreement" being signed, that is another step toward a one world economy.

Of course economics is just one element of their overall plan. Ultimately the goal is to erode national sovereignty almost completely and to merge the nations of the world into a single unified system of global governance.

... ... ...

Once you start looking into these things, you will see that the elite are very openly telling us what they intend to do.

One of my favorite examples of this phenomenon is a quote from David Rockefeller's book entitled Memoirs

Some even believe we are a part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as 'internationalists' and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty and I am proud of it

As David Rockefeller openly admitted, they are "internationalists" that are intent on establishing a one world system.

... ... ...

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho's First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website . His new book entitled "Living A Life That Really Matters" is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com .

[Oct 29, 2017] Wendy Brown's definition of neoliberalism: It is not simply a commitment to capitalism or to markets, but an effort to transform all spheres of human life in ways that render them amendable to economic calculation.

Notable quotes:
"... I believe discussion of Neoliberalism is very much like discussion of Global Warming. "Weedy" or not, "academic" or not both discussions require transit through some difficult concepts and technical depth. In the case of Global Warming discussions you either come to grips with some complicated climate science or you end up discussing matters of faith drawn from popular "simplifications". In the case of Neoliberalism the discussion necessarily enters a region which requires attention to fine details which when followed to their end tend to have deep and broad implications. ..."
"... The concept of a Thought Collective greatly aids understanding the particularly slippery nature of Neoliberalism as a term for discussion. That slippery nature is no accident. The Market as a theory of knowledge -- an epistemology -- makes apparent the philosophical even "religious" extent of Neoliberal thinking. ..."
"... I prefer Wendy Brown's definition of neoliberalism. It is not simply a commitment to capitalism or to markets, she argues, but an effort to transform all spheres of human life in ways that render them amendable to economic calculation. ..."
"... But "economic calculation" still understates the post-modern condition and tends toward looking for an outside origin, like Hayek/Friedman. Neoliberalism is something we are doing to ourselves, and Foucault's biopolitics makes this clear. You just don't separate the economic from the social and political. ..."
"... Twitter and Facebooks "likes and dislikes" are a form of (social) capital accumulation. Financialization has become ascendant because labour productivity is no longer measurable, and they need "fictitious" numbers to maintain hierarchy. ..."
"... Marxists understand that Hayek-Friedman neoliberalism is just another stage in the real subsumption of labor and completion of globalized capitalism. It is just liberalism after capitalism has finally destroyed traditionalism, nationalism, religion etc. ..."
Oct 29, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Jeremy Grimm , October 28, 2017 at 6:09 pm

I believe discussion of Neoliberalism is very much like discussion of Global Warming. "Weedy" or not, "academic" or not both discussions require transit through some difficult concepts and technical depth. In the case of Global Warming discussions you either come to grips with some complicated climate science or you end up discussing matters of faith drawn from popular "simplifications". In the case of Neoliberalism the discussion necessarily enters a region which requires attention to fine details which when followed to their end tend to have deep and broad implications.

In the interview referenced by this post Phillip Mirowski asserts Neoliberals believe the Market is an information processor which "knows" more than you or I could ever know. He also introduces the concept of a Thought Collective -- which he states he adapted from writings of Ludwig Fleck related to describing a method for study and explanation of the history of Science. I believe both these "weedy" "academic" distinctions are key to understanding Neoliberalism and distinguishing it from Neoclassical economics and Libertarianism. The concept of a Thought Collective greatly aids understanding the particularly slippery nature of Neoliberalism as a term for discussion. That slippery nature is no accident. The Market as a theory of knowledge -- an epistemology -- makes apparent the philosophical even "religious" extent of Neoliberal thinking.

Two recent papers by Phillip Mirowski tackle the difficulties in defining and discussing Neoliberalism. They are both "weedy" and "academic" and unfortunately help little in addressing the issue RabidGhandhi raised at the root of the lengthy thread beginning the comments to this post.
"The Political Movement that Dared not Speak its own Name: The Neoliberal Thought
Collective Under Erasure" 2014
[https://www.ineteconomics.org/research/research-papers/the-political-movement-that-dared-not-speak-its-own-name-the-neoliberal-thought-collective-under-erasure]
"This is Water (or is it Neoliberalism?)" 2016 -- this is a response to critics of the previous paper.
[https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/this-is-water-or-is-it-neoliberalism]

There have been several oblique references to this story -- so I'll repeat it since I only recently ran across it.
There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish
swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, "Morning, boys, how's the water?" And
the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, "What the hell is water?"

I am afraid that little story says volumes about the problem RabidGhandhi raised. I believe remaining "weedy" and "academic" is the very least service we might do to discussing Neoliberalism and when arguing topics related to Neoliberalism -- and probably the least damage.

likbez , October 29, 2017 at 1:58 am

Phillip Mirowski approach is not the only approach and it has its flaws. IMHO he exaggerates differences between neoliberal doctrine and neo-classical economics.

Some view neoliberalism as Trotskyism for rich and analogies look convincing, at least for me. See http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neoliberalism/neoliberalism_as_trotskyism_for_the_rich.shtml

That might be a more fruitful research approach.

Wendy Brown book is also very interesting and illuminating: https://www.amazon.com/Undoing-Demos-Neoliberalisms-Stealth-Revolution/dp/1935408534

nonclassical , October 29, 2017 at 3:58 am

..what was actually historically perpetrated, Chile', September 11, 1973, is (Naomi Klein) instructive:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTN5_Efx1n4

Jeremy Grimm , October 29, 2017 at 11:19 am

I went to the site you recommended and read through the very lengthy discussion of Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich. I believe the title of that discussion makes a reasonable summary of the definition of Neoliberalism you prefer and propose: Neoliberalism is Trotskyism for the rich. While there may be some groups in which this definition might be a useful formula for continuing discussion I doubt it would be of much use in discussing Neoliberalism in general.

Neoliberalism is slippery enough without bringing in a can-O-worms like Trotskyism -- and as I am not a Soviet style Marxist nor a student of Marxism and only vaguely familiar with the Russian revolutions the metaphor is as meaningless to me as a metaphor based on the gang-of-four with references to Maoism.

I disagree with your view that Mirowski exaggerates the differences between Neoliberal doctrine and Neoclassical economics. I don't recall the source but I do recall one of Mirowski's writings or videos did identify how Neoclassical economics is drifting toward Neoliberalism. Although both disciplines might advocate similar policies they differ in how they arrive at those policies. And I believe it Neoclassical economists think of economics at a tool for conducting policy while Neoliberals view their doctrines as guides for policy.

Mirowski -- at least as I read his paper -- tends to avoid making a formulaic definition of Neoliberalism and instead emphasizes what he views as its key doctrines. Those doctrines are what distinguishes Neoliberalism.

Temporarily Sane , October 29, 2017 at 5:59 am

I prefer Wendy Brown's definition of neoliberalism. It is not simply a commitment to capitalism or to markets, she argues, but an effort to transform all spheres of human life in ways that render them amendable to economic calculation.

bob mcmanus , October 29, 2017 at 8:37 am

Wendy Brown is very good. Remember she is also a critic of identity politics. She gets it.

bob mcmanus , October 29, 2017 at 12:06 pm

But "economic calculation" still understates the post-modern condition and tends toward looking for an outside origin, like Hayek/Friedman. Neoliberalism is something we are doing to ourselves, and Foucault's biopolitics makes this clear. You just don't separate the economic from the social and political.

Twitter and Facebooks "likes and dislikes" are a form of (social) capital accumulation. Financialization has become ascendant because labour productivity is no longer measurable, and they need "fictitious" numbers to maintain hierarchy.

Jodi Dean calls this the era of "Communicative Capitalism" wherein value creation has been democratized and we are ruled by the "circulation of commodified affect."

This is brutal. We create value when we like something or someone. We commodify it when we attempt to justify our affections in social settings and produce discourse to do so. It circulates when other people agree and spread the episteme. Why is it "Capitalism?" Because Facebook extracts surplus from your affections and discourse. Sociality and sociability are now major profit centers.

That's like everything, folks. Everything. Late-capitalism or neoliberalism is at least fast becoming a global totality without an outside or margin.

bob mcmanus , October 29, 2017 at 8:29 am

I come at this from a Marxist perspective, and so am very skeptical of liberalism. Neo-liberalism is simply liberalism after the last vestiges of traditionalist communitarian have disappeared.

I usually like Gaius Publius, but I don't like this article. Recently the French union reaction to Macron's labor reforms has the slogan to the effect that "We don't want that liberalism."

To understand neo-liberalism, you have to a) use the European meaning of liberalism, especially since the founders were European, b) you also have to connect the word with the full spectrum of what is "liberalism" as developed in the Early modern period by Hume, Locke, Smith, the American founders, John Stuart Mills, etc. Remember, during their times, both Burke and John C Calhoun were considered exemplary liberals. (See Domenico Losurdo.)

Neo-liberalism is no more limited to economics and markets than liberalism was. Neo-liberalism/liberalism, besides the right to property or the fruits of your labor (Locke also Marx) also includes the full panoply of rights and privileges (at least in theory) included in the Bill of Rights and the extension of those over time, and the right to property and market competition are inextricably connected to the other rights (free press, freedom to associate, gun rights, national self-determination, freedom from searches, etc). Inextricably, they cannot be separated.

Including individualistic rights over your body, for instance. The right to an abortion, gay marriage, freedom of choice, even the popularization of tattoos developed at the same time as the ascension of economic neoliberalism, which is inextricably connected to the "liberalization" of the social spheres.

Which is why it is the ocean we swim in and why it is so hard to fight and why Democrats and centrists and the identitarian "Left" dislike the word so much. Neoliberalism is just liberalism on steroids. Those who dislike the word want to de-liberalize (some of ) the markets and limit (some) property rights while retaining most of the individualism that liberalism allows. They don't want to be socialists.

Marxists understand that Hayek-Friedman neoliberalism is just another stage in the real subsumption of labor and completion of globalized capitalism. It is just liberalism after capitalism has finally destroyed traditionalism, nationalism, religion etc.

nonclassical , October 29, 2017 at 10:51 am

hmmmnnn while this, from article can be so defined:

"With their help, he began to create what Daniel Stedman Jones describes in Masters of the Universe as "a kind of neoliberal international" [a term modeled on "the Communist International]: a transatlantic network of academics, businessmen, journalists and activists. The movement's rich backers funded a series of thinktanks which would refine and promote the ideology. Among them were the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Centre for Policy Studies and the Adam Smith Institute. They also financed academic positions and departments, particularly at the universities of Chicago and Virginia."

FDR regulated capitalism, entirety of western "social democracies", stand in contrast (some might say, thankfully)

Philipbn , October 29, 2017 at 1:25 pm

For one of the strongest early analyses of the development of neoliberalism, see Foucault's 1978-79 Collège de France lectures, "The Birth of Biopolitics" (English translation 2008). The entire year is an extended review of and commentary on the the development of liberalism, or in Foucault's terms "liberal governmentality," and in particular of neo-liberalism

[Oct 29, 2017] What is neoliberalism? A market-based ideology willing to employ fascism to impose the conditions necessary to establish the market state. (ie, throwing people out of helicopters.) The state is co-opted to ensure rule of the Market.

Notable quotes:
"... The experience of every modern democratic nation-state proves that libertarianism is incompatible with democracy ..."
"... Libertarianism is the version of neoliberalism used to get teenagers hooked on markets. ..."
"... The only ray of hope is that neoliberalism seems, by stripping the vast majority of people of income and assets, to be wildly successful at suppressing aggregate demand and so contains the seeds of its own demise. Maybe. ..."
"... Too bad Mises and Hayek didn't live in the UK or France or US or Canada or other long established democracy; ..."
"... nobody's marching in the streets or even making a fuss about it ..."
Oct 29, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Enrique Bermudez , October 28, 2017 at 5:50 am

"Just deserts for predators and prey" – yes, very much this. I remember talking with my father about a year ago in a quasi-philosophical sense about where I felt western society had gone wrong. I could not quite adequately express the essence of my thoughts beyond "a fundamental devaluation of people as individuals."

I think it applies to foreign policy as well – however you want to put things. The ghouls/neocons/neolibs decide to start some regime change war somewhere. Hundreds of thousands/millions of the wrong people die. But the pipeline (or whatever) gets built on the correct parts of the map. No harm no foul and it's on to the next part of the giant "Risk" board.

Come to think, I actually quite like "ghoul" as a catch-all term for all these evil bastards. Can't remember where I first saw that – might have been here – but it fits.

David May , October 28, 2017 at 5:50 am

A good article on the neoliberal links to fascism:
Why libertarians apologize for autocracy
The experience of every modern democratic nation-state proves that libertarianism is incompatible with democracy by Michael Lind.

Libertarianism is the version of neoliberalism used to get teenagers hooked on markets.

David May , October 28, 2017 at 6:11 am

What is neoliberalism? A market-based ideology willing to employ fascism to impose the conditions necessary to establish the market state. (ie, throwing people out of helicopters.) The state is co-opted to ensure rule of the Market.

The value of everything, human life-included, is to be decided by the Market. (Except when the outcome is not favorable to the elite. Hence the need to takeover the state.)

The market state will impose Freedom™. Freedom™ means the law of the jungle and consequently many rebellious serfs, er, citizens unhappy with Freedom™. (Another reason the state will be needed – to reimpose Freedom™. That is, prison or maybe helicopter trips.)

allan , October 28, 2017 at 8:56 am

Whatever neoliberalism is, this is a perfect example of it:

A Student Loan Nightmare: The Teacher in the Wrong Payment Plan [NYT]

In 2015, he discovered that he was enrolled in a particular type of ineligible payment plan and would need to start his decade of payments all over again, even though he had been paying more each month than he would have if he had been in an eligible plan. Because of his 8.25 percent interest rate, which he could not refinance due to loan rules, even those higher payments weren't putting a dent in his principal. So the $70,000 or so that he did pay over the period amounted to nothing, and he'll most likely pay at least that much going forward.

So this is who we are now. For all sorts of reasons that made perfect sense at the time, we built additional repayment programs onto existing complexity onto well-meaning forgiveness overseen by multiple layers of responsible parties. And once that was done, Mr. Shafer, teacher of shelter dwellers and street kids and others whom fellow educators failed to reach, wasted a small fortune and will now shovel another one into the federal coffers.

Which leaves just one more question: If this is who we are, is it who we actually want to be?

Apparently, yes.

The only ray of hope is that neoliberalism seems, by stripping the vast majority of people of income and assets,
to be wildly successful at suppressing aggregate demand and so contains the seeds of its own demise. Maybe.

kurtismayfield , October 28, 2017 at 11:23 am

The only ray of hope is that neoliberalism seems, by stripping the vast majority of people of income and assets, to be wildly successful at suppressing aggregate demand and so contains the seeds of its own demise. Maybe.

Exactly.. once the majority are stripped of their assets and have to commit most of their income to rent, there *should* be no growth. Unless the entire system is running around asset inflation, which it is now. But that cannot last forever.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 3:46 pm

The only ray of hope is that neoliberalism seems, by stripping the vast majority of people of income and assets,
to be wildly successful at suppressing aggregate demand and so contains the seeds of its own demise. Maybe.

I don't think that this is what They are thinking. The 'make it up on volume' is a retailer strategy, our MOTU are playing well above wholesale and actually are not in the goods-transferring biz at all. Finance, you know. Long before we are all gone, eaten alive or whatever, They will be turning their sights on where the real money is -- each other. Perhaps a few corners of life will survive, and I am curious as to what the new life forms, if any, that emerge out of this sea of pesticides, herbicides, garbage, and too much CO2 will be. Academic question, of course. Perhaps this is why there is no evidence of other intelligent life in the universe? That's too depressing, I'm gonna go make some cinnamon toast.

Altandmain , October 28, 2017 at 9:27 am

What is the real purpose of neoliberalism?

To create a feudal aristocracy using pseudoscientific propaganda. The government uses a combination of tax policy, deregulation, the destruction of legal protections (ex: labour laws), privatization, free trade, mass immigration, propaganda, and frankly, blunt force where needed to slowly dismantle the middle class.

The end result is a society that looks something like Russia in the 1990s or perhaps South Africa, with very high inequality along with high multiculturalism.

Enforcement is not consistent. For example, low and middle class workers are expected to compete in terms of lowest wages and poorest job security with the developing world. Meanwhile, the very rich can do whatever they want and not pay much taxes. Intellectual property is another example of this inconsistency, and allows corporations to rent seek on their IP, itself often a product of taxpayer funded R&D or bought from a small company (witness how big pharmaceutical companies are guilty of both of these).

It isn't pretty, but that is the real goal.

Always keep in mind the purpose of propaganda is to build a narrative.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/13/why-ridiculous-official-propaganda-still-works/

It is not meant to be easily repeated, no matter how easily disproven. Neoliberalism is perhaps the most visible example.

Thuto , October 28, 2017 at 11:05 am

Very true, speaking specifically of South Africa where I live, your analysis of the situation hits the mark. We have an openly neoliberal opposition party that fashions itself as a pro-poor party yet even a cursory glance at its policy stance reveals where the dictates it shouts regularly from its benches originate, and whose interests it represents (it's certainly not the poor). It campaigns heavily for the gutting of labour laws while advocating for the destruction of local industries by coddling up to foreign investors and free trade cheerleaders. Yet nobody seems to see the contradiction, because, as Altandmain says above, it's all about building a narrative through propaganda with the media as an echo chamber (if people think media ownership in the US is concentrated, they must try visiting SA). And the trickle down economics myth is very much the dominant narrative down here, with the rich being worshipped as demigods who hold the fate of the country in their hands, and as such, must have carte blanche to do as they please

Thuto , October 28, 2017 at 9:48 am

Intellectual capture of the general populace by co-opting (read buying) academia and the msm to extol the virtues of neoliberalism is what allows its pernicious effects to spread like wildfire. Credentialism and the pretentious grounding of neoliberal discourse in pseudoscientific rigor discourages critique from ordinary, "non-expert" people and co-opts even these lemmings (queitly being marched to their demise) to defend its ideological soundness. The question i've always had is this: how do countries get grassroots movements against neoliberalism going when the precursor to success against it seems to be eliminating basic and functional illiteracy among the general population about its inner workings and the instruments it uses to legitimize its evils (e.g. propaganda)? Outside of niche communities like here at NC, most people seem to care more about the Kardashians than equipping themselves with the chops (financial, technical etc) to call BS on all this. And this seems to be a war that will require numbers to win, but how to get those numbers when so many people appear to be so enchanted by the supposed virtues of neoliberalism ("getting ahead", ruthless competition etc).

PS: Some of us here at NC live in developing countries and the tentacles of this ideology have proven to be no respector of borders, as such, imho said grassroots movements would necessarily have to be transnational by spreading beyond the heartlands of global capitalism (Western Europe & US/North America).

Katz , October 28, 2017 at 11:03 am

One of the most illuminating lines I've heard in recent years comes from Matt Stoller: "neoliberalism is statecraft."

That's not an idea readily accommodated by the rhetoric/ideology of neoliberalism, but it's extremely useful for seeing beyond of them.

flora , October 28, 2017 at 11:03 am

Great article. Now when I hear TV/Journalist commentators suggest the nation-state is useless and democracy is obsolete I will know their point of reference and unspoken arguments. I will also listen for what they do not report on or talk about. 'The dog that did not bark in the night.' Thanks for posting. Two things:

1.
"Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Both exiles from Austria, "

Austria in 1938 had no deep-rooted democratic history. It was part of the aristocratic Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918, when that collapsed post WWI. Hayek and Mises grounded their philosophy in their post-empire/post-autocratic-rule chaotic national experiences – unstable newly imposed democratic societies which previously had a long history of autocratic rule and a bad or poorly done recent (post WWI) transition to democracy. E.g. Post WWI Weimar Germany was chaos, as reported by on-the-ground correspondent William Shirer.

Mises and Hayek also applied their ideas to well-established older democratic nations. In context, their philosophy did not apply to the well-established democracies. If anything, Mises and Hayek assumed a strong central govt inevitably meant a 'strong man' govt and not a democratic govt, it seems.

2.
" Through the IMF, the World Bank, the Maastricht treaty and the World Trade Organisation, neoliberal policies were imposed – often without democratic consent – on much of the world."

The IMF and WTO and neoliberalism itself have become a 'strong man' or 'strong committee' supra-govt rule, imo. Neoliberalism's economic application has lead to the very conditions of weakening democracy and subjecting people to 'strong man/committee rule' Mises and Hayek tried to prevent by weakening the power of the nation-state, without regard to differences in nation-state governments and polity.

flora , October 28, 2017 at 12:20 pm

shorter neolib args:
All* strong govts lead to despotism. (*All? nope. false premise)

Weakening the power of all govt's will guard against despotism. (Really? nope. some forms of govt are a strong guard against despotism. false premise)

Replacing govt functions with market functions has no risk. (nope. see astronomical price increases in privatized govt services and deregulated markets. epi-pen?)

Therefore, weakening central govts and replacing their functions with private market solutions will be both risk free and guard against depotism. (False conclusion from false premises. And there are plenty of financially despotic markets.)

Too bad Mises and Hayek didn't live in the UK or France or US or Canada or other long established democracy; not perfect, always struggling to increase the franchise, but more accountable to citizens than markets.

JTMcPhee , October 28, 2017 at 1:12 pm

I'd urge all to read, and maybe re-read, the series of 6 or so articles posted by NC under the heading "Journey Into A Libertarian Future." The first article is here: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/11/journey-into-a-libertarian-future-part-i-%e2%80%93the-vision.html

Substitute "neoliberal" for "Libertarian" and note the operations of "government-like organizations" that already are systems of systems of predators and parasites that cooperate (while snarling and snapping and biting at each other) to kill and loot and drive the rest of us I guess "libertarians," whatever that term means any more, might be part of the Enabling Class that provides "policy cover" and arguments in support of the rapine that is in play

flora , October 28, 2017 at 11:06 pm

Thanks very much for this link. I just read the entire series.
Chilling.
Normally I'd dismiss this sort of fevered certainty as lost-cause deadender writing.
The series was written 6 years ago; before the Kansas Real Time Experiment; Obamacare ACA insurance-companies-will-sort-this-out; proposed TPP and TTIP and ISDS (arbitration and insurance companies will sort it all out). Now talk of sea-steading and "island" cities and organized voter suppression.
Chilling developments when placed against libertarian, anti-democratic, rise-of-the-supermen manifestos.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 3:53 pm

My dear Flora, you have the outline of a book here. One I would be glad to read. How can I help?

flora , October 28, 2017 at 4:34 pm

Thankyou.

I've just listened to the Mirowski interview* linked in the main article. According to Mirowski it is the neo-classicals who want a weakened national govt, not the neo-liberals. So I've confused the two and need a rethink.

Mirowski says (paraphrasing) the neo-liberals " changed the idea of what a market is " and believe that " the market is a super information processor that knows more than any human ever could ." (My aside: This is irrational, but that doesn't stop them.) Therefore
Mere humans should be subordinate to the market because the individual can never know as much as the market and cannot even know himself outside of his relation to the market. (This is also irrational and sounds despotic to me. Sounds like saying a person should be subordinate to computer programs.)
Neo-liberals, therefore, want a strong national govt that they control to promote and expand markets and the market ideology/idolatry everywhere. (Where have I heard that sort of quazi-political/philosophical argument used before?)

* starts at the 6 min mark. 18 min mark "super information processor"

https://majority.fm/2014/06/26/626-philip-mirowski-how-neoliberalism-survived-the-financial-meltdown/#

grebo , October 28, 2017 at 9:28 pm

Too bad Mises and Hayek didn't live in the UK or France or US or Canada or other long established democracy;

They did. von Hayek spent the 30s and 40s in the UK, the 50s in the US and retired to West Germany. von Mises went to Switzerland in 1934 then the US in 1940 and stayed there. They were, of course, esconced in academia (ie. in their own minds) the whole time.

flora , October 28, 2017 at 11:07 pm

ah. I gave them a benefit of doubt they may not have deserved. Thanks.

Rod , October 28, 2017 at 11:27 am

here is a bit of the antidote–discussed 10/24 in NC regarding the efforts to restore Puerto Rico–

Farmers' groups are now calling for the proliferation of community-controlled agricultural cooperatives that would grow food for local consumption. Like the renewable energy micro-grids, it's a model that is far less vulnerable to supply-chain shocks like hurricanes -- and it has the additional benefit of generating local wealth and increasing self-sufficiency.
As with the solar-powered generators, Puerto Rico's farmers aren't waiting for the emergency to subside before beginning this transition. On the contrary, groups like Boricuá Organization for Ecological Agriculture have "agroecology brigades" traveling from community to community to deliver seeds and soil so that residents can begin planting crops immediately. Katia Avilés-Vázquez, one of Boricuá's farmers, said of a recent brigade: "Today I saw the Puerto Rico that I dream being born. This week I worked with those who are giving it birth."

The CoOperative movement emerged in the USA at the end of the 19th century to provide funding and resources where there was plenty of need but not too much profit to be made.

concrete stuff, not ism , October 28, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Isn´t this one of the problems with -isms in general? Communism also has a thousand meanings depending on who you talk with. Could be everything between the theoretical Marx-Engels version and the practical realities of Soviet Union/China and other countries claiming to be "communists".

It seems to me that neoliberalism has been so efficient in establish itself thanks to:
1) being implemented by military forces = the rest of the world outside Europe/US, and now being maintained through the thorough militarization of western societies: police, censorship etc.
2) not focusing on being and -ism/ideology but on concrete advises/policies presented in numbers/graphs (the mathematification of economics)
3) useful idiots in the form of the identity politicians: if they would have been focused and using their vast amount of energy on countering the maths of economics (before Steve Keen´s Debunking Economics), instead of counting how many oppressed minority identities can dance on the head of white middle-aged man, it would have been much more difficult to implement the neoliberal policies. Or it would have at least accelerated the militarization of western societies so that the clash between class interests will start, as they always do.

Maybe better to focus on concrete stuff in arguments, like,
– public ownership of energy and infrastructure in order to guarantee all citizens access. E.g. Sweden privatized energy production and distribution in the 90s. During one winter there wasn´t electricity enough to heat houses because the private companies had done away with excess capacity. Privatization/neoliberalism = not serving the society with electricity when the society needs it the most.
– Public healthcare, education etc. Every % of profit a company requires for the owners, this means the same % less to the citizens
and so on.

All good for me, but not for you is a key part of neoliberalism
http://exiledonline.com/monster-koch-bust-charles-koch-used-social-security-to-lure-friedrich-von-hayek-to-america/

Modern example, free health care for senators and senate, but not for the people.

marym , October 28, 2017 at 1:03 pm

OK with most of this, but members of congress and staff don't get free healthcare. Though members have access to some free services, they and some staff purchase insurance on an ACA exchange called. Other staff remain on the pre-ACA FEHB program in place for other federal employees. Both programs are employer (taxpayer) subsidized so they only pay a portion of their premiums, plus whatever their deductible is. For the ACA policies, to get the premium subsidy they need to choose a gold plan, so will have about 10% in copays.

https://www.snopes.com/members-congress-health-care/

Eclair , October 28, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Nice exposition of the term, neoliberalism, Gaius. Thank you.

I think I first began seeing the term about eight years ago, right after the financial meltdown. About five years ago, I proposed writing a series of pieces for a group that had arisen out of the Denver Occupy movement, kind of an "Ask a Neo-Liberal," column, but most people had never even heard of the term and when I did a bit of research, I just could not pin down definitions or examples.

So, how do we begin to counter the main tenets of neoliberalism: glorification of 'the market' as the arbiter of lives, with the resulting dominance of competition over cooperation and the atomization and breakdown of social ties; we live in a 'dog eat dog' world, only the strong survive, self-reliance got me where I am?

Some days I think that this creed is the natural result of a Planet that has exceeded its carrying capacity of humans. When there were far fewer humans, cooperation and strong social bonds were the only means of survival. Really. The development of Neo-liberalism is Nature's way of getting rid of us.

But, Neo-liberalism decrees that the survivors will be, at best, rapacious, aggressive and materialistic. At worst, they will be socio-paths. It's like the Planet if only jaguars, vultures and leeches, out of all our animal relatives, survived. Do we want that to happen? OK, I realize that some of us have just given up and are sitting back to watch the slow motion disaster unfold.

First, admit that under the current system, the vast majority of us are Prey, and the .01% are Apex Predators, hunting us down, ripping, squeezing and sucking the life (and our livelihoods) out of us. How do our animal relatives who are not equipped with claws, sharp teeth and muscles built for speed, survive?

We run even faster, we develop camouflage and hide, we grow armor, we refine cooperative social skills and live in enormous colonies, (preferably underground!) where our vast numbers and ability to mobilize for work and protection provide security, we develop symbiotic relationships with larger and stronger organisms (although some might label this as 'vichy-ism,') we become almost invisible, yet with a deadly sting or poisonous coating, and we realize that sometimes we have die so that other members of the group can survive.

And, we realize that the area in which we live, our little eco-system, is crucial to our survival. We don't mess it up.

shinola , October 28, 2017 at 12:48 pm

"Under a neoliberal regime, everyone gets what they deserve. Big fish deserve their meal. Little fish deserve their death. And government sets the table for the feast."

Used to be called Social Darwinism.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 3:57 pm

Yup. The new part is the govt setting the table, though.

DJG , October 28, 2017 at 1:04 pm

How to talk about neoliberalism, which is indeed a mouthful? I was at a dinner last night of two generations of UofChicago products (as am I). We all agreed that the "Law & Economics" movement there should be dismissed out of hand as plain stupidity. I think that we spend too much time imagining that there is some Ideal Marketplace of Ideas in which the good ideas drive out the bad. And then we come up against Facebook and Twitter. So one way of talking about it is that the law has to govern markets: Neoliberalism is lawlessness. You can have law or you can have looting.

And we've certainly seen plenty of lawlessness.

Another way is to call it unconstitutional, if your interlocutor knows the U.S. Constitution. The U.S Constitution doesn't have much to say about economics, and it doesn't assume that laissez-faire is a-okay.

Further on it being unconstitutional: The U.S. Constitution brilliantly foresaw the need for some kind of bureacracy to maintain the government, rather than a claque of courtiers. So it set up the Post Office–that bureaucratic agent of oppression, Uncle Mises! It called for a census and a Census Bureau–woe betide us Uncle Milton!

You can either have the U.S. Constitution with its flaws, or you can have people eating bagels with gold foil and telling you that markets rule our lives? So which is it?

Maybe we should just call neoliberalism Gold-Bagel-ism. The antidote, as mentioned above in the thread by commentes like marym, is to return to some discussion of our Commonwealth and what to do to maintain it.

BillC , October 28, 2017 at 1:55 pm

Like water to the fish.

For me, the most effective opener (both in the sense of opening discussion as well as the listener's mind) is to state that neoliberalism is to nearly everyone in the "developed" world (and beyond) like water for fish: it's the environment in which we live, and thus becomes invisible to us. Excellent elaboration from above: it's as if citizens of the USSR had never heard of the word "communism;" instead it's just how life works.

If we can get this opening across, then the definitions and explanations discussed above in this thread may be much more effective.

ex-PFC Chuck , October 28, 2017 at 8:25 pm

Thank you Gaius for a great post – and a thanks as well are due to the authors of the good comments. As I've been reading these it occurred to me that perhaps a good conversation starter would be to ask the person what they thought of Margaret Thatcher's remark, "There's no such thing as society. There are only individuals and families." You'll have to wing it from there depending on the responses you get.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:03 pm

I also wonder aloud to them, "Why it is that when individuals do whatever they want it is called lawlessnes or anarchy, Bad Things, but when corporations do whatever they want it is considered a Good Thing?"

WobblyTelomeres , October 28, 2017 at 9:03 pm

Something like this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6mpHW3SMcc

[famous North Dallas 40 scene]

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 1:23 pm

The roots of neoliberalism in the Mont Pelerin Society is also well covered in MacLean's Democracy in Chains.

While I like this article, I disagree with the relationship of neoliberals to markets and to competition. Markets are held up to displace blame for decisions and policies made by men. The powerful use competition to explain why you deserve less and they deserve more, even when actual competition is not happening, and they actively work to prevent it.

Predators and prey do not compete for resources. A system that enshrines predation among humans is not based on a buyer and a seller making a transaction at the efficient price that maximizes each's utility and produces the best use of society's resources.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:13 pm

Agree, but for most of the people I talk to, that argument comes second. First I try to demonstrate that NeoLiberalism doing what it *says* it does is bad for us. Once they have that then I can proceed to 'NeoLiberalism doesn't even do what it says it does'. Although, I think that your point is a good first argument with small business people, "You mean that you think that your 5-employee cabinet shop makes you buddies with Elon Musk? (sub whatever rich guy your would aspire to be)" If the time seems right I might add, "He would have you on *toast*." If they think about that, they usually get it.

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 4:36 pm

I seldom even get to the point of being able to argue about these issues at all, much less take people thru the layers of consideration I've gone through over the years to reach my current model of how the world works.

I have been told that all of the books and weird websites that I read as I study a subject in depth are evidence that I lack objectivity about it and that people who know what they know from reading ordinary news have a clearer understanding than I.

TG , October 28, 2017 at 1:23 pm

"I suppose the neo-liberal philosophy could best be summed up by their rallying cry: the freedom to choose to own slaves."

"But that doesn't make sense. Freedom to choose is logically incompatible with slavery. And they never said that."

"Indeed. They would claim to be all for freedom, and against slavery. But if someone was profiting from owning slaves, they would fight tooth and nail to protect them, because any attempt at restricting the profits of slavery was seen as an intolerable corruption of the sacred free market. It was how they operated. Depending on what their rich patrons wanted at the time, sometimes they were all for free trade between the old nation states, and sometimes they demanded that the wealthy have the 'freedom' to restrict trade. It did not matter that what they said made no sense, or was logically incoherent, or at variance with reality. They never apologized, never explained, but only acted with total arrogance and self-confidence."

From "Space Battleship Scharnhorst and the Library of Doom."

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 3:59 pm

It makes sense if you believe in freedom to choose how to spend your money. How much choice you have, and how much choice you deserve to have, is measured fine-grain in dollars and cents. Other forms of power are deemed illegitimate.

it's sliding-scale individualism, where everyone is on their own, and wealth determines how much of an individual one is. The more of an individual you are, the more liberty you have, and liberty should be protected by the state.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:16 pm

Yes. I argue that one as "one dollar, one vote". People without a lot of dollars understand that on a gut level.

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 4:28 pm

I tend to think of "one dollar, one vote" when considering elections and politics; while at the same time neoliberalism is about interpersonal power without direct regard to the functioning of the state.

By this I mean that if, for example, Peter Thiel decides to spend his money to destroy you, and you don't have enough money to prevent it, then you deserve destruction. That's liberty. You're free to choose to spend your money defending yourself. Or not.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:46 pm

Exactly. People in a democracy have been raised to think that they count as much as the next person, no matter how rich or poor -- at least I hope that is till happening. Well, unless they are rich, who think they rightfully account for more. So when I say "one dollar, one vote" to poor/middle people (in an ironic sense, just so that is clear), they *feel* that it is not fair. If that catches, I point out that it goes against what they have been taught about how democracy works. I often bring this up in the context of campaign $$$ and Citizens United. It opposes the 'if they have the money then it's theirs' argument, aka 'the aristocratic' and 'it's his bat and ball'.

Scott , October 28, 2017 at 1:24 pm

For a long time now I have tried to reconstruct what it was in 1978 that convinced me it had become impossible to reform the United States.
Gaius has gotten me closer to a reconstruction of why I determined the only real solution was to create another nation, and kicked off what I recognize now as my own modeling.
My sense of what difference the goal is makes is a government that is just and fair for all citizens.
This is not the case in the neoliberal world is it. The goal of the neo-liberal world is to advance a milder form of scientific socialism, meaning the good people, well spoken well dressed no matter either in business or academia get the money for lives depicted on TV shows.
Working class people must become super humans to become educated and properly dressed to be accepted into a world of plenty and safety.
One thing I appreciate about Russians is a unique love of beauty. It is depressing that American's whole aesthetic sense revolves around cars and art is of no interest until it is ultra expensive.
Len Deighton's description of liberalism as developed in the 1840s which went on to mean the children of the newly enriched engineers who made hand built the Industrial Revolution making cotton underwear were given the money to for the schools of the old school rich people of Britain and all the rich people were in finance whether they came from old money or new money.
So I don't think of neoliberalism as about markets as much as I do think of it as the complete ascendancy of the parasites of Finance.
Creditors do not write down or write off debts of the working classes. Finance now has been given the US Treasury. Listening to Minuchin saying on the TV, in fact even seeing a face saying, "We must let the States Go and they have to make it on their own." Means there is simply no reason then to put any money by anyone into the US Treasury. The United States is just a huge military engaged in little and large wars all over the world anyway. Why ought anyone pay taxes to further the new owner of the Empire, Rome?
Deighton writes that since all the sewing machines and looms were moved to India, by the time the 19th Century ended Finance had gambled away all of the wealth of the UK.
"I like to play with debt, but it is tricky." Says Trump.
As long as you are the "Loss Payee" bankruptcy is as fine as any sort of success aye? "I don't pay taxes, I'm smart."
The aim is to lose all the money, then have it all given to you by the Treasury.
There is no citizenship of the World Citizen, or Jet Setter. They don't need any real citizenship.
For the majority, the nation matters. It may be the only thing they have of any value. The nation we are in love with it the nation that would go to defeat the Barbary Pirates over the capture of one US citizen, a stand in for you.
The one we have makes heroes and a President of the parasitical pirates come from neofeudalism.
In Texas even swords are coming back.

Ep3 , October 28, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Yves, great article, and loved the interview with Mirowski.

Here's the thing I see Neo-liberalism has done for society as a whole. If I asked you to "I present 2 humans before you and ask which one has more value to the world, which one, if there was only one hamburger left to eat, deserves to eat that sandwich, deserves to survive in a world with limited resources (which is what earth is), how would you go about choosing which one"? I am saying Neo-liberalism says "look at their wealth". It judges people by how much money/wealth they have. The only way to judge whether one human should survive over another is by the amount of money they make.
Jimmy Carter said in 1980 how we are moving as a society to how we rate a man is by the amount of money he has. If he was the proto-Neo-liberal, then it makes sense.

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 4:43 pm

One of the conceits of neo-liberalism (and I guess capitalism in general) is that how much wealth one has indicates how much one is owed for one's contribution to society (because markets allocate resources optimally). Thus the biggest takers are transformed into the biggest givers.

Wukchumni , October 28, 2017 at 4:46 pm

So if a UFO landed and little green men came out, they'd say:

"Lead me to your takers."

Wukchumni , October 28, 2017 at 1:39 pm

Neo-liberalism doesn't care or think all that much about it's actions, as long as they are profitable.

We have this ridiculous never ending series of wars and nobody's marching in the streets or even making a fuss about it, as we've accepted the premise as business as usual.

It has the feel of the Vietnam War still going in 1982, and nobody cared.

Other countries look at prisons as a necessary evil, whereas we can't have enough of them, so much so that we allow private companies the right to incarcerate our own citizens.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:56 pm

nobody's marching in the streets or even making a fuss about it

Lessee, last time I recall Big Street Protests was Occupy. They got shut down , brutally. NoDAPL, similar, even the Trump inauguration protests. Marches not reported -- they might as well not have happened. But I believe they really, really did happen.

Wukchumni , October 28, 2017 at 5:00 pm

An older friend was going to Cal State L.A. around 1970, when a good number of the student body decided to walk onto the nearby 10 freeway and shut it down, as a protest against the Vietnam War.

you seeing anything like that out there?

JBird , October 28, 2017 at 5:15 pm

We incarcerate so many because it is profitable as jobs program for voters in poor counties, slave labor for manufacturing, and profitable for corporations/donors.

Jeremy Grimm , October 28, 2017 at 6:09 pm

I believe discussion of Neoliberalism is very much like discussion of Global Warming. "Weedy" or not, "academic" or not both discussions require transit through some difficult concepts and technical depth. In the case of Global Warming discussions you either come to grips with some complicated climate science or you end up discussing matters of faith drawn from popular "simplifications". In the case of Neoliberalism the discussion necessarily enters a region which requires attention to fine details which when followed to their end tend to have deep and broad implications.

In the interview referenced by this post Phillip Mirowski asserts Neoliberals believe the Market is an information processor which "knows" more than you or I could ever know. He also introduces the concept of a Thought Collective -- which he states he adapted from writings of Ludwig Fleck related to describing a method for study and explanation of the history of Science. I believe both these "weedy" "academic" distinctions are key to understanding Neoliberalism and distinguishing it from Neoclassical economics and Libertarianism. The concept of a Thought Collective greatly aids understanding the particularly slippery nature of Neoliberalism as a term for discussion. That slippery nature is no accident. The Market as a theory of knowledge -- an epistemology -- makes apparent the philosophical even "religious" extent of Neoliberal thinking.

Two recent papers by Phillip Mirowski tackle the difficulties in defining and discussing Neoliberalism. They are both "weedy" and "academic" and unfortunately help little in addressing the issue RabidGhandhi raised at the root of the lengthy thread beginning the comments to this post.
"The Political Movement that Dared not Speak its own Name: The Neoliberal Thought
Collective Under Erasure" 2014
[https://www.ineteconomics.org/research/research-papers/the-political-movement-that-dared-not-speak-its-own-name-the-neoliberal-thought-collective-under-erasure]
"This is Water (or is it Neoliberalism?)" 2016 -- this is a response to critics of the previous paper.
[https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/this-is-water-or-is-it-neoliberalism]

There have been several oblique references to this story -- so I'll repeat it since I only recently ran across it.
There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish
swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, "Morning, boys, how's the water?" And
the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, "What the hell is water?"

I am afraid that little story says volumes about the problem RabidGhandhi raised. I believe remaining "weedy" and "academic" is the very least service we might do to discussing Neoliberalism and when arguing topics related to Neoliberalism -- and probably the least damage.

[Oct 28, 2017] Gaius Publius Defining Neoliberalism naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... Rabid, have you tried the term "market fundamentalists" or "market ideologues" with your three target audiences? Amongst both think tankers and regular folkz, (and possibly in Argentina too!) it is not usual to be happy to be considered a fundamentalist and ideologue, or to be associated too closely with such people. ..."
"... "Market Utopians", what sets NeoLiberalism apart is the faith that markets solve all problems. For markets to exist there must first be "money", a social institution, and "property ", another social institution and an enforcement mechanism mediating between the two. At this point the lack of primacy of markets, their necessary dependence on the prior existence of government leads to the question, "what is good government." This leads to the question of who's freedom good government should be concerned with. ..."
"... This has been my experience, as well. Often the Democrat is a Clinton apologist who can only perceive the term as somehow a slur against their Dear Leader, though they don't understand why. These people are hopeless. They will simply follow any politician with a (D) after their name who can win an election. Win over the rest of the people and such useless tools will just follow, regardless of ideology. ..."
"... "Just deserts for predators and prey" – yes, very much this. I remember talking with my father about a year ago in a quasi-philosophical sense about where I felt western society had gone wrong. I could not quite adequately express the essence of my thoughts beyond "a fundamental devaluation of people as individuals." ..."
"... The experience of every modern democratic nation-state proves that libertarianism is incompatible with democracy ..."
"... What is neoliberalism? A market-based ideology willing to employ fascism to impose the conditions necessary to establish the market state. (ie, throwing people out of helicopters.) The state is co-opted to ensure rule of the Market. The value of everything, human life-included, is to be decided by the Market. (Except when the outcome is not favorable to the elite. Hence the need to takeover the state.) ..."
"... The only ray of hope is that neoliberalism seems, by stripping the vast majority of people of income and assets, to be wildly successful at suppressing aggregate demand and so contains the seeds of its own demise. Maybe. ..."
"... Too bad Mises and Hayek didn't live in the UK or France or US or Canada or other long established democracy; ..."
"... nobody's marching in the streets or even making a fuss about it ..."
Oct 28, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Gaius Publius: Defining Neoliberalism Posted on October 28, 2017 by Yves Smith By Gaius Publius , a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius , Tumblr and Facebook . GP article archive here . Originally published at DownWithTyranny

For years I've been using the term "neoliberalism" (or sometimes neo-liberalism*) and I'm always uncomfortable, since it sounds so academic. So I usually add one-phrase definitions and move on. For example, this from a recent piece on Puerto Rico :

If neoliberalism is the belief that the proper role of government is to enrich the rich -- in Democratic circles they call it "wealth creation" to hide the recipients; Republicans are much more blatant -- then the "shock doctrine" is its action plan.

That's sounds pretty blunt, but it's a true statement, even among academics. See this great interview (start at about 6:15) with Professor Philip Miroski of the University of Notre Dame on how modern neoliberals have come to see the role of government in society. It's weedy but excellent.

I want to offer our readers a better description of neoliberalism though, yet not get into too many weeds. So consider these exceprts from a longer Guardian essay by the British writer George Monbiot . (My thanks to Naked Capitalism commenter nonclassical for the link and the idea for this piece.)

Neoliberalism -- The Invisible Water the West Is Swimming In

We'll start with Monbiot's brief intro, just to set the scope of the problem:

Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you'll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is?

Ask people to define "neoliberalism," even if they've heard of it, and almost no one can. Yet the comparison of our governing ideology to that of the Soviet Union's is a good one -- like "communism," or the Soviet Union's version of it, neoliberalism defines and controls almost everything our government does, no matter which party is in office.

The Birth of Neoliberalism

What is neoliberalism and where did it come from? Monbiot writes:

The term neoliberalism was coined at a meeting in Paris in 1938. Among the delegates were two men who came to define the ideology, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Both exiles from Austria, they saw social democracy, exemplified by Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and the gradual development of Britain's welfare state, as manifestations of a collectivism that occupied the same spectrum as nazism and communism.

Neoliberalism is an explicit reaction to Franklin Roosevelt and the welfare state, which by a quirk of history was called "liberalism" at the time, even though, in the nineteenth century, "liberalism" had roughly the same meaning that "neoliberalism" has today. In other words, "FDR liberalism" is in many ways the opposite of classical "liberalism," which meant "liberty (freedom) from government," and a quirk of history has confused these terms.

Back to Monbiot and Hayek:

In The Road to Serfdom , published in 1944, Hayek argued that government planning, by crushing individualism, would lead inexorably to totalitarian control. Like Mises's book Bureaucracy , The Road to Serfdom was widely read. It came to the attention of some very wealthy people, who saw in the philosophy an opportunity to free themselves from regulation and tax. When, in 1947, Hayek founded the first organisation that would spread the doctrine of neoliberalism – the Mont Pelerin Society – it was supported financially by millionaires and their foundations.

With their help, he began to create what Daniel Stedman Jones describes in Masters of the Universe as "a kind of neoliberal international" [a term modeled on "the Communist International ]: a transatlantic network of academics, businessmen, journalists and activists. The movement's rich backers funded a series of thinktanks which would refine and promote the ideology. Among them were the American Enterprise Institute , the Heritage Foundation , the Cato Institute , the Institute of Economic Affairs , the Centre for Policy Studies and the Adam Smith Institute . They also financed academic positions and departments, particularly at the universities of Chicago and Virginia.

As it evolved, neoliberalism became more strident. Hayek's view that governments should regulate competition to prevent monopolies from forming gave way – among American apostles such as Milton Friedman – to the belief that monopoly power could be seen as a reward for efficiency.

Note the mention of Milton Friedman above. Neoliberalism is a bipartisan ideology, not just a Clintonist-Obamist one.

Democrats, Republicans and Neoliberalism

As Monbiot explains, for a while neoliberalism "lost its name" and was more or less a fringe ideology in a world still dominated by the ideas of John Maynard Keynes and Keynesian economics. When neoliberalism later came back strong in the Republican Party, it wasn't called "neoliberalism" but "Milton Friedman free market conservativism," or something similar.

Only when Bill Clinton and his Democratic Party allies adopted it in the 1980s did the term "neoliberal" re-emerge in public discourse.

[I]n the 1970s, when Keynesian policies began to fall apart and economic crises struck on both sides of the Atlantic, neoliberal ideas began to enter the mainstream. As Friedman remarked, "when the time came that you had to change there was an alternative ready there to be picked up". With the help of sympathetic journalists and political advisers, elements of neoliberalism, especially its prescriptions for monetary policy, were adopted by Jimmy Carter's administration in the US and Jim Callaghan's government in Britain.

After Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan took power, the rest of the package soon followed: massive tax cuts for the rich, the crushing of trade unions, deregulation, privatisation, outsourcing and competition in public services . Through the IMF, the World Bank, the Maastricht treaty and the World Trade Organisation, neoliberal policies were imposed – often without democratic consent – on much of the world. Most remarkable was its adoption among parties that once belonged to the left: Labour and the Democrats, for example. [emphasis added]

Note the role of Jimmy Carter and start of deregulation in the late 1970s. For that reason, many consider Jimmy Carter to be the "proto-neoliberal," both for the nation and the Democratic Party.

Neoliberalism -- "Just Deserts" for Predators and Prey

What makes "neoliberalism" or "free market conservatism" such a radical -- and destructive -- ideology? It reduces all human activity to economic competition. It creates and glorifies, in other words, a world of predators and prey, a world like the one we live in as today:

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

In a world where competition is right and good, a world in which the "market" is the defining metaphor for human activity, all social ties are broken, the individual is an atom left to survive as an individual only, the strongest relentlessly consume the weakest -- and that's as it should be. (It's easy to imagine how the apex predators of our social order would be attracted to this, and insist on it with force.

Thus the bipartisan world we live in today. Under a neoliberal regime, everyone gets what they deserve. Big fish deserve their meal. Little fish deserve their death. And government sets the table for the feast.

The Role of Government in a Neoliberal World

Since for neoliberals, the "market" is the source of all that is good in human interaction, non-interference in "the market" is rule one for government.

Over time that has changed, however, as winners have grown more successful and their control of government more absolute. The proper role of government in today's neoliberal regime is not merely to allow the market to operate for the benefit of wealth-holders; it's to make sure the market operates for the benefit of wealth-holders.

In other words, the role of government is to intervene in the market on behalf of wealth-holders, or, as I put it more colloquially, to proactively enrich the rich. The interview with Professor Mirowski, as I noted above, makes that same point, but from an academic standpoint.

From this it should be also clear that until we free ourselves of rule by neoliberals and the pain and misery they create, we'll always be victims to the predatory giants -- the very very wealthy and the corporations they use as power-extenders -- those, in other words, who want merely to own everything else in the world.

This means we need to free ourselves from neoliberals in both parties, not just the ones in current seats of power. But that idea seems to have been excised from most discussions these days. Fair warning though. If the Age of Trump ends with the Restoration of Mainstream Democrats, we'll have won almost nothing at all.
____________

* I sometimes spell "neo-liberalism" with the hyphen to suggest the following connection: Neo-liberalism is "new liberalism," and has the same relationship to FDR liberalism as New Labour has to Labour -- the two are exactly opposite.

RabidGandhi , October 28, 2017 at 5:00 am

The burning question I have is how to deploy the terminology in discussion/debate. Here at NC and other similar sites, practically everyone knows what neoliberalism is and is solidly against it[1]. But outside of our own bubble, the term generally conveys no meaning whatsoever, for the following reasons:

(1) if I am speaking to policy-wonk types reared on "conventional wisdom", they tend to hear being anti-neoliberal as being anti-Copernican. The challenge to basic assumptions is outside of their window of acceptable ideas, so I am dismissed as a conspiracy wacko; all communication ends.

(2) If I am speaking to a Fox/Daily Mail/Clarín type, in my experience if they have even heard the term before, they generally draw no distinction between "Neoliberal" and "Liberal", so I can rail against the neoliberal capture of government regulatory powers, and I get nods of agreement "yes the hippies are taking over our public universities". Again, no real communication there.

(3) Lastly there is the case here in Argentina, where the word has not only been healthily peppered into the public discourse since at least 2000, but it was even a major rhetorical enemy of three successive governments. In this case, after so much experience and rhetoric, everyone knows that "neoliberalism" is bad and evil, but (since it is the assumed framework of interpretation, as GP notes) the consensus of what this neoliberalism we're fighting against really is becomes blurry. The evil any politician wants to inveigh against inevitably gets called "neoliberal", regardless of what the facts may actually be. All politicians here– even notably those most implicated in forcing neoliberalism on us in the 90s– now rail against evil "neoliberalism" and the evils of privatisation, even when nevertheless working to strengthen neoliberalism's actual tenets and re-entrench privatisation. In sum, the term has been co-opted beyond all meaning.

With all this mess in mind, I have to admit that I really only use the word amongst allies who I know share my understanding of the term. To do otherwise does not further the debate. Furthermore, in debates against stalwart neolibs, deploying the term and calling a privatised deregulated spade a neoliberal spade only has the effect of an ad-hominem; it may be technically spot-on, but it does nothing to convince the unswayed.

_______

[1] Except our token deficit hawk, PBUH.

UserFriendly , October 28, 2017 at 9:38 am

When in doubt I just define neoliberalism as putting markets first and trying to insert markets where they have no business being (e.g. obamacare). And of course send them here.

RabidGandhi , October 28, 2017 at 11:12 am

Yes I agree with you and with Strategist below: another (yet to be debased) term stressing an irrational religious fetish for markets would indeed be much more effective. Then again, as much as I love Lambert's post (and quote it here often myself), I do not see saying "go read this 2500 word article from some lefty site you've never heard of" as an argument that is going to win over most of my interlocutors.

Nell , October 28, 2017 at 11:54 am

If your desire is to persuade then you might want to try a different approach. Try giving a person the space to persuade themselves they have got it wrong. This is quite different from the academic approach – persuade by the logic of the presented argument. Instead be sympathetic and interested. Ask pertinent questions, don't preach, don't undermine with your superior knowledge. Still don't expect agreement at the time. People rarely change their minds at the drop of a hat. If they are genuine, then they will come around in their own time.

By the way, this is really hard to do and I am completely useless at it, but I have seen the effects of this approach first hand, and I have seen people change their mind.

SoCal Rhino , October 28, 2017 at 2:30 pm

I think you are right. And the parable of the sower comes to mind.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 3:20 pm

Well, ya know, you have to meet them where they are. Richard Wolff has a parable about a family dinner, after which the mother does not charge the family members, and the son does not offer to do the dishes for a fee. Some things we just give one another. Mostly people understand about social obligations at the family level.

I have used a similar argument with a libertarian friend. He is very generous with his family and friends and looks after their wellbeing in many ways. I tell him that I *totally* agree, it is just that, as a socialist, I have a broader definition of 'family and friends'. I think this helps us to understand one another.

I also describe the govt as a 'big buying club' (he is a Costco member, Sam's, etc. and clubs in with friends to buy bags of green coffee). As group buyers we can get really good deals on stuff we all need such as schools, roads, police, garbage removal and health care through group (I don't say 'collective') buying power *plus* we have input through our MP's and other elected representatives. Whereas, with private biz, we have to take whatever they want to give us, they skim as much off the top as they can, and if we don't like it we can call Customer Care in the Philippines. He hasn't come around totally to my viewpoint, but we are still on speaking terms.

Oh, he had refused to sign up for that socialized medicine OHIP card back when we had to pay premiums (all govt-pd now, no premiums anymore). He made good health choices, ate healthily, watched hi weight, exercised and proudly paid his doctor cash for checkups, by golly. Yeah, proud and free! Until he found an odd protrusion in his belly one day whilst showering, and found out how much a hernia repair cost. Went and got him that health card right away

I later bought him a Guinness and permitted myself to ask him how he was finding that socialized medicine.

Carla , October 28, 2017 at 8:55 pm

And what did he say???

Allegorio , October 28, 2017 at 3:49 pm

The term "market fundamentalism" comes to mind and conveys more meaning than neo-liberalism, since the term liberalism has come to be associated with "socially liberal" as opposed to "economically liberal". The phrase also implies dogmatic orthodoxy and cultism.

Strategist , October 28, 2017 at 10:45 am

Rabid, have you tried the term "market fundamentalists" or "market ideologues" with your three target audiences? Amongst both think tankers and regular folkz, (and possibly in Argentina too!) it is not usual to be happy to be considered a fundamentalist and ideologue, or to be associated too closely with such people.

Just a thought.

jsn , October 28, 2017 at 2:13 pm

"Market Utopians", what sets NeoLiberalism apart is the faith that markets solve all problems. For markets to exist there must first be "money", a social institution, and "property ", another social institution and an enforcement mechanism mediating between the two. At this point the lack of primacy of markets, their necessary dependence on the prior existence of government leads to the question, "what is good government." This leads to the question of who's freedom good government should be concerned with.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 3:27 pm

I widen my eyes and say, "Do you *really* want your life to be run by *ROGERS*?" Sub Comcast, PG&E, Bell, or whatever your local Big Biz that features arbitrary policies, high prices, poor service, pointless 'packages', surly customer service, long lines, circular voicemail and excellent shareholder value.

Katz , October 28, 2017 at 10:46 am

One type I seem to regularly encounter (on the internet, mostly) is the Democrat who's decided the term has no substantive meaning -- they perceive it to be a slur. Wrong as they are, the useful term is reduced to a shibboleth in their midst.

RabidGandhi , October 28, 2017 at 11:14 am

I totally agree. Bringing up the word "neoliberal" in such a conversation generally does more harm than good.

Big River Bandido , October 28, 2017 at 11:32 am

This has been my experience, as well. Often the Democrat is a Clinton apologist who can only perceive the term as somehow a slur against their Dear Leader, though they don't understand why. These people are hopeless. They will simply follow any politician with a (D) after their name who can win an election. Win over the rest of the people and such useless tools will just follow, regardless of ideology.

The people to actually use this as a line of argument with are those not yet assimilated by The Borg.

Working class people are especially amenable to this logic. This article has a lot of helpful rhetoric and metaphor for that purpose. I have actually had considerable luck explaining the ideology as "rule by the markets" or "public good sold off for private purposes"; by showing a few examples -- such as the constant attempts to destroy Social Security and Medicare; the cessation of Pell Grants and the commodification of education and health care; all the way down to the "privatization" (note the 5-syllable word) of Chicago's street parking and its deleterious effects on quality of life and the environment.

JBird , October 28, 2017 at 3:20 pm

So some posit that the word "neoliberal" is not a real word, but was invented just used to attack the Democratic Party, and often as a slur against its leadership in general, and the Clintons in particular; that reasoning reminds me of the extremist Republican partisans who argue that Nixon's Southern Strategy is a myth, and/or the modern Democratic Party is the same as the old Jim Crow Democratic Party, and that Lincoln's Republican Party was much the same as the current one.

Okay, but that is like not using the term "socialist" as in Socialism because some insist that the National Socialism in the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Words do have specific meanings, and the decision to discard neoliberal because some choose wilful ignorance is the same as discarding "liberal" because the Republican Party has used propaganda, more accurately said lies, to distort its meaning from the original American, or European, meanings. There has been a century long effort to smear, distort, change the meanings of words so that having an honest conversation becomes impossible and people's thoughts run along the approved mental paths.

Communism is Socialism is not Nazism. The Democratic Party is not synonymous with Neoliberalism, and certainly not Liberalism, or Leftist. Just as the Republican Party is not synonymous with Conservatism, or Libertarianism, or Rightist.

Working Class is not synonymous with the White Working Class. Being an American Nationalist is not the same as being a White Nationalist. The Alt-Right is not some new conservative movement. It's the old racist White Nationalists dressed up with a cutesy new label.

Conservative does not equal Racist. Liberal does not equal anti-racist, or equality. Just as the old Progressive Movement did not equal either.

The American Nation is not the same as the White Nation which is not the same as the Federal Government, let alone the American Government, which is not the same as the American Constitution, which is not the same as Human Rights.

Justice does not equal legal; legal does not equal fairness.

Free Market does not mean Capitalism, which does not mean Democracy. Those are three different things.

Words have meaning, and we either use them as they are meant in conversation, or we do not have a conversation. Maybe a shouting match, but not a conversation. If some Democrats want to deliberately be ignorant of the the etymology of neoliberalism, to heck with them.

Big River Bandido , October 28, 2017 at 11:44 am

I think we ought to be creative and devise our own new terms of debate. We ought to avoid overly-academic words. To avoid confusion, I think we should side-step the terms "liberal" and "neo-liberal" at least until the public imagination has been engaged.

The metaphor about "predator" and "prey" is excellent. So is the idea that when you idolize "markets", you are reducing human relations to a single dynamic: competition. We should incorporate these into our daily conversations with others. These two concepts can be powerful motivators for everyday Americans, and they are simple ideas that can be used to appeal to almost anyone regardless of literacy or prior political engagement/commitment.

marym , October 28, 2017 at 12:18 pm

We also need a language for the alternative: a concept of the commons. What should belong to (the public, the community, the workers ) and be administered for the common good? What do we want for ourselves that can best be provided if we provide it for everyone (healthcare by now being the most obvious)?

jrs , October 28, 2017 at 1:33 pm

honestly what does it even matter if people don't identify the water they are swimming in as neoliberalism and call it say capitalism instead? Most leftists do so, but so will many ordinary people (and so the young want socialism). Of course the term capitalism is broad enough to only add minimal clarity (except that it does add one real piece of clarity in identifying WHOM the system is run for the benefit of, although it excludes rentiers who of course play no small part). And so with ever evolving capitalism the Marxists may call it finance capitalism etc.

Market fundamentalism would indeed be a more useful term if that is what is being critiqued.

beth , October 28, 2017 at 9:46 pm

RabidGhandi: This is an important discussion. I agree that "neoliberal" is a stumbling block and not a word we can use to explain ourselves outside this community. I hope we revisit this problem regularly.

Maybe one way is to try a whole other direction outlined in Game of Mates written by two Australian economists, Cameron Murray and Paul Frijters.

Murray and Frijters explain how current Australian laws create a system that hurts Bruce while enriching James. AND IN THE SAME BOOK, they offer suggestions of how this could be changed. They use "James" to represent the few land developers who purchase the land and are granted rezoning permission or "grey gifts" while the "Bruces" do not benefit from the rezoning.

The authors do not present James as avaricious since the way the current rules and regulations are written anyone of us would do the same.

Since Australian regulatons parallel our own laws, I wish someone would "translate" the book for U.S. situations. Maybe NC geeks can do this but most people would not. Great book.

Sound of the Suburbs , October 28, 2017 at 5:11 am

What does Liberal mean?

It has two meanings and it is usually impossible to tell in which way it is being used.

1) Liberal as it was used in the 1950s – 1970s.
2) Liberal – neo-liberal / economically liberal

The early neo-liberals didn't like its 1950s -1970s connotations, later on they realised the benefits of obfuscating what they were up to.

A very right wing neo-liberalism is deliberately confused with a left wing liberalism to hide what they are up to.

Francis Fukuyama talked of liberal democracy, which sounded good. What he meant was neo-liberal democracy, which isn't.

How does identity politics work for neo-liberals? Imagine inequality plotted on two axes. Inequality between genders, races and cultures is what liberals have been concentrating on. This is the x-axis and the focus of identity politics and the liberal left. On the y-axis we have inequality from top to bottom.

2014 – "85 richest people as wealthy as poorest half of the world"
2016 – "Richest 62 people as wealthy as half of world's population"
2017 – Richest 8 people as wealthy as half of world's population

This is what the traditional left normally concentrate on, but as they have switched to identity politics this inequality has gone through the roof.

Labour (traditional left) – y-axis inequality
Liberal (liberal left) – x-axis inequality

George Soros is a [neo]liberal, can you work out why?

A liberal left leave neoliberals free to pursue an economically right wing agenda and push y-axis inequality to new extremes.

Enrique Bermudez , October 28, 2017 at 5:50 am

"Just deserts for predators and prey" – yes, very much this. I remember talking with my father about a year ago in a quasi-philosophical sense about where I felt western society had gone wrong. I could not quite adequately express the essence of my thoughts beyond "a fundamental devaluation of people as individuals."

I think it applies to foreign policy as well – however you want to put things. The ghouls/neocons/neolibs decide to start some regime change war somewhere. Hundreds of thousands/millions of the wrong people die. But the pipeline (or whatever) gets built on the correct parts of the map. No harm no foul and it's on to the next part of the giant "Risk" board.

Come to think, I actually quite like "ghoul" as a catch-all term for all these evil bastards. Can't remember where I first saw that – might have been here – but it fits.

David May , October 28, 2017 at 5:50 am

A good article on the neoliberal links to fascism: Why libertarians apologize for autocracy
The experience of every modern democratic nation-state proves that libertarianism is incompatible with democracy by Michael Lind.

Libertarianism is the version of neoliberalism used to get teenagers hooked on markets.

David May , October 28, 2017 at 6:11 am

What is neoliberalism? A market-based ideology willing to employ fascism to impose the conditions necessary to establish the market state. (ie, throwing people out of helicopters.) The state is co-opted to ensure rule of the Market. The value of everything, human life-included, is to be decided by the Market. (Except when the outcome is not favorable to the elite. Hence the need to takeover the state.)

The market state will impose Freedom™. Freedom™ means the law of the jungle and consequently many rebellious serfs, er, citizens unhappy with Freedom™. (Another reason the state will be needed – to reimpose Freedom™. That is, prison or maybe helicopter trips.)

allan , October 28, 2017 at 8:56 am

Whatever neoliberalism is, this is a perfect example of it:

A Student Loan Nightmare: The Teacher in the Wrong Payment Plan [NYT]

In 2015, he discovered that he was enrolled in a particular type of ineligible payment plan and would need to start his decade of payments all over again, even though he had been paying more each month than he would have if he had been in an eligible plan. Because of his 8.25 percent interest rate, which he could not refinance due to loan rules, even those higher payments weren't putting a dent in his principal. So the $70,000 or so that he did pay over the period amounted to nothing, and he'll most likely pay at least that much going forward.

So this is who we are now. For all sorts of reasons that made perfect sense at the time, we built additional repayment programs onto existing complexity onto well-meaning forgiveness overseen by multiple layers of responsible parties. And once that was done, Mr. Shafer, teacher of shelter dwellers and street kids and others whom fellow educators failed to reach, wasted a small fortune and will now shovel another one into the federal coffers.

Which leaves just one more question: If this is who we are, is it who we actually want to be?

Apparently, yes.

The only ray of hope is that neoliberalism seems, by stripping the vast majority of people of income and assets,
to be wildly successful at suppressing aggregate demand and so contains the seeds of its own demise. Maybe.

kurtismayfield , October 28, 2017 at 11:23 am

The only ray of hope is that neoliberalism seems, by stripping the vast majority of people of income and assets, to be wildly successful at suppressing aggregate demand and so contains the seeds of its own demise. Maybe.

Exactly.. once the majority are stripped of their assets and have to commit most of their income to rent, there *should* be no growth. Unless the entire system is running around asset inflation, which it is now. But that cannot last forever.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 3:46 pm

The only ray of hope is that neoliberalism seems, by stripping the vast majority of people of income and assets,
to be wildly successful at suppressing aggregate demand and so contains the seeds of its own demise. Maybe.

I don't think that this is what They are thinking. The 'make it up on volume' is a retailer strategy, our MOTU are playing well above wholesale and actually are not in the goods-transferring biz at all. Finance, you know. Long before we are all gone, eaten alive or whatever, They will be turning their sights on where the real money is -- each other. Perhaps a few corners of life will survive, and I am curious as to what the new life forms, if any, that emerge out of this sea of pesticides, herbicides, garbage, and too much CO2 will be. Academic question, of course. Perhaps this is why there is no evidence of other intelligent life in the universe? That's too depressing, I'm gonna go make some cinnamon toast.

Altandmain , October 28, 2017 at 9:27 am

What is the real purpose of neoliberalism?

To create a feudal aristocracy using pseudoscientific propaganda. The government uses a combination of tax policy, deregulation, the destruction of legal protections (ex: labour laws), privatization, free trade, mass immigration, propaganda, and frankly, blunt force where needed to slowly dismantle the middle class.

The end result is a society that looks something like Russia in the 1990s or perhaps South Africa, with very high inequality along with high multiculturalism.

Enforcement is not consistent. For example, low and middle class workers are expected to compete in terms of lowest wages and poorest job security with the developing world. Meanwhile, the very rich can do whatever they want and not pay much taxes. Intellectual property is another example of this inconsistency, and allows corporations to rent seek on their IP, itself often a product of taxpayer funded R&D or bought from a small company (witness how big pharmaceutical companies are guilty of both of these).

It isn't pretty, but that is the real goal.

Always keep in mind the purpose of propaganda is to build a narrative.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/13/why-ridiculous-official-propaganda-still-works/

It is not meant to be easily repeated, no matter how easily disproven. Neoliberalism is perhaps the most visible example.

Thuto , October 28, 2017 at 11:05 am

Very true, speaking specifically of South Africa where I live, your analysis of the situation hits the mark. We have an openly neoliberal opposition party that fashions itself as a pro-poor party yet even a cursory glance at its policy stance reveals where the dictates it shouts regularly from its benches originate, and whose interests it represents (it's certainly not the poor). It campaigns heavily for the gutting of labour laws while advocating for the destruction of local industries by coddling up to foreign investors and free trade cheerleaders. Yet nobody seems to see the contradiction, because, as Altandmain says above, it's all about building a narrative through propaganda with the media as an echo chamber (if people think media ownership in the US is concentrated, they must try visiting SA). And the trickle down economics myth is very much the dominant narrative down here, with the rich being worshipped as demigods who hold the fate of the country in their hands, and as such, must have carte blanche to do as they please

Thuto , October 28, 2017 at 9:48 am

Intellectual capture of the general populace by co-opting (read buying) academia and the msm to extol the virtues of neoliberalism is what allows its pernicious effects to spread like wildfire. Credentialism and the pretentious grounding of neoliberal discourse in pseudoscientific rigor discourages critique from ordinary, "non-expert" people and co-opts even these lemmings (queitly being marched to their demise) to defend its ideological soundness. The question i've always had is this: how do countries get grassroots movements against neoliberalism going when the precursor to success against it seems to be eliminating basic and functional illiteracy among the general population about its inner workings and the instruments it uses to legitimize its evils (e.g. propaganda)? Outside of niche communities like here at NC, most people seem to care more about the Kardashians than equipping themselves with the chops (financial, technical etc) to call BS on all this. And this seems to be a war that will require numbers to win, but how to get those numbers when so many people appear to be so enchanted by the supposed virtues of neoliberalism ("getting ahead", ruthless competition etc).

PS: Some of us here at NC live in developing countries and the tentacles of this ideology have proven to be no respector of borders, as such, imho said grassroots movements would necessarily have to be transnational by spreading beyond the heartlands of global capitalism (Western Europe & US/North America).

Katz , October 28, 2017 at 11:03 am

One of the most illuminating lines I've heard in recent years comes from Matt Stoller: "neoliberalism is statecraft."

That's not an idea readily accommodated by the rhetoric/ideology of neoliberalism, but it's extremely useful for seeing beyond of them.

flora , October 28, 2017 at 11:03 am

Great article. Now when I hear TV/Journalist commentators suggest the nation-state is useless and democracy is obsolete I will know their point of reference and unspoken arguments. I will also listen for what they do not report on or talk about. 'The dog that did not bark in the night.' Thanks for posting. Two things:

1.
"Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Both exiles from Austria, "

Austria in 1938 had no deep-rooted democratic history. It was part of the aristocratic Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918, when that collapsed post WWI. Hayek and Mises grounded their philosophy in their post-empire/post-autocratic-rule chaotic national experiences – unstable newly imposed democratic societies which previously had a long history of autocratic rule and a bad or poorly done recent (post WWI) transition to democracy. E.g. Post WWI Weimar Germany was chaos, as reported by on-the-ground correspondent William Shirer.

Mises and Hayek also applied their ideas to well-established older democratic nations. In context, their philosophy did not apply to the well-established democracies. If anything, Mises and Hayek assumed a strong central govt inevitably meant a 'strong man' govt and not a democratic govt, it seems.

2.
" Through the IMF, the World Bank, the Maastricht treaty and the World Trade Organisation, neoliberal policies were imposed – often without democratic consent – on much of the world."

The IMF and WTO and neoliberalism itself have become a 'strong man' or 'strong committee' supra-govt rule, imo. Neoliberalism's economic application has lead to the very conditions of weakening democracy and subjecting people to 'strong man/committee rule' Mises and Hayek tried to prevent by weakening the power of the nation-state, without regard to differences in nation-state governments and polity.

flora , October 28, 2017 at 12:20 pm

shorter neolib args:
All* strong govts lead to despotism. (*All? nope. false premise)

Weakening the power of all govt's will guard against despotism. (Really? nope. some forms of govt are a strong guard against despotism. false premise)

Replacing govt functions with market functions has no risk. (nope. see astronomical price increases in privatized govt services and deregulated markets. epi-pen?)

Therefore, weakening central govts and replacing their functions with private market solutions will be both risk free and guard against depotism. (False conclusion from false premises. And there are plenty of financially despotic markets.)

Too bad Mises and Hayek didn't live in the UK or France or US or Canada or other long established democracy; not perfect, always struggling to increase the franchise, but more accountable to citizens than markets.

JTMcPhee , October 28, 2017 at 1:12 pm

I'd urge all to read, and maybe re-read, the series of 6 or so articles posted by NC under the heading "Journey Into A Libertarian Future." The first article is here: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/11/journey-into-a-libertarian-future-part-i-%e2%80%93the-vision.html

Substitute "neoliberal" for "Libertarian" and note the operations of "government-like organizations" that already are systems of systems of predators and parasites that cooperate (while snarling and snapping and biting at each other) to kill and loot and drive the rest of us I guess "libertarians," whatever that term means any more, might be part of the Enabling Class that provides "policy cover" and arguments in support of the rapine that is in play

flora , October 28, 2017 at 11:06 pm

Thanks very much for this link. I just read the entire series.
Chilling.
Normally I'd dismiss this sort of fevered certainty as lost-cause deadender writing.
The series was written 6 years ago; before the Kansas Real Time Experiment; Obamacare ACA insurance-companies-will-sort-this-out; proposed TPP and TTIP and ISDS (arbitration and insurance companies will sort it all out). Now talk of sea-steading and "island" cities and organized voter suppression.
Chilling developments when placed against libertarian, anti-democratic, rise-of-the-supermen manifestos.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 3:53 pm

My dear Flora, you have the outline of a book here. One I would be glad to read. How can I help?

flora , October 28, 2017 at 4:34 pm

Thankyou.

I've just listened to the Mirowski interview* linked in the main article. According to Mirowski it is the neo-classicals who want a weakened national govt, not the neo-liberals. So I've confused the two and need a rethink.

Mirowski says (paraphrasing) the neo-liberals " changed the idea of what a market is " and believe that " the market is a super information processor that knows more than any human ever could ." (My aside: This is irrational, but that doesn't stop them.) Therefore
Mere humans should be subordinate to the market because the individual can never know as much as the market and cannot even know himself outside of his relation to the market. (This is also irrational and sounds despotic to me. Sounds like saying a person should be subordinate to computer programs.)
Neo-liberals, therefore, want a strong national govt that they control to promote and expand markets and the market ideology/idolatry everywhere. (Where have I heard that sort of quazi-political/philosophical argument used before?)

* starts at the 6 min mark. 18 min mark "super information processor"

https://majority.fm/2014/06/26/626-philip-mirowski-how-neoliberalism-survived-the-financial-meltdown/#

grebo , October 28, 2017 at 9:28 pm

Too bad Mises and Hayek didn't live in the UK or France or US or Canada or other long established democracy;

They did. von Hayek spent the 30s and 40s in the UK, the 50s in the US and retired to West Germany. von Mises went to Switzerland in 1934 then the US in 1940 and stayed there. They were, of course, esconced in academia (ie. in their own minds) the whole time.

flora , October 28, 2017 at 11:07 pm

ah. I gave them a benefit of doubt they may not have deserved. Thanks.

Rod , October 28, 2017 at 11:27 am

here is a bit of the antidote–discussed 10/24 in NC regarding the efforts to restore Puerto Rico–

Farmers' groups are now calling for the proliferation of community-controlled agricultural cooperatives that would grow food for local consumption. Like the renewable energy micro-grids, it's a model that is far less vulnerable to supply-chain shocks like hurricanes -- and it has the additional benefit of generating local wealth and increasing self-sufficiency.
As with the solar-powered generators, Puerto Rico's farmers aren't waiting for the emergency to subside before beginning this transition. On the contrary, groups like Boricuá Organization for Ecological Agriculture have "agroecology brigades" traveling from community to community to deliver seeds and soil so that residents can begin planting crops immediately. Katia Avilés-Vázquez, one of Boricuá's farmers, said of a recent brigade: "Today I saw the Puerto Rico that I dream being born. This week I worked with those who are giving it birth."

The CoOperative movement emerged in the USA at the end of the 19th century to provide funding and resources where there was plenty of need but not too much profit to be made.

concrete stuff, not ism , October 28, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Isn´t this one of the problems with -isms in general? Communism also has a thousand meanings depending on who you talk with. Could be everything between the theoretical Marx-Engels version and the practical realities of Soviet Union/China and other countries claiming to be "communists".

It seems to me that neoliberalism has been so efficient in establish itself thanks to:
1) being implemented by military forces = the rest of the world outside Europe/US, and now being maintained through the thorough militarization of western societies: police, censorship etc.
2) not focusing on being and -ism/ideology but on concrete advises/policies presented in numbers/graphs (the mathematification of economics)
3) useful idiots in the form of the identity politicians: if they would have been focused and using their vast amount of energy on countering the maths of economics (before Steve Keen´s Debunking Economics), instead of counting how many oppressed minority identities can dance on the head of white middle-aged man, it would have been much more difficult to implement the neoliberal policies. Or it would have at least accelerated the militarization of western societies so that the clash between class interests will start, as they always do.

Maybe better to focus on concrete stuff in arguments, like,
– public ownership of energy and infrastructure in order to guarantee all citizens access. E.g. Sweden privatized energy production and distribution in the 90s. During one winter there wasn´t electricity enough to heat houses because the private companies had done away with excess capacity. Privatization/neoliberalism = not serving the society with electricity when the society needs it the most.
– Public healthcare, education etc. Every % of profit a company requires for the owners, this means the same % less to the citizens
and so on.

All good for me, but not for you is a key part of neoliberalism
http://exiledonline.com/monster-koch-bust-charles-koch-used-social-security-to-lure-friedrich-von-hayek-to-america/

Modern example, free health care for senators and senate, but not for the people.

marym , October 28, 2017 at 1:03 pm

OK with most of this, but members of congress and staff don't get free healthcare. Though members have access to some free services, they and some staff purchase insurance on an ACA exchange called. Other staff remain on the pre-ACA FEHB program in place for other federal employees. Both programs are employer (taxpayer) subsidized so they only pay a portion of their premiums, plus whatever their deductible is. For the ACA policies, to get the premium subsidy they need to choose a gold plan, so will have about 10% in copays.

https://www.snopes.com/members-congress-health-care/

Eclair , October 28, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Nice exposition of the term, neoliberalism, Gaius. Thank you.

I think I first began seeing the term about eight years ago, right after the financial meltdown. About five years ago, I proposed writing a series of pieces for a group that had arisen out of the Denver Occupy movement, kind of an "Ask a Neo-Liberal," column, but most people had never even heard of the term and when I did a bit of research, I just could not pin down definitions or examples.

So, how do we begin to counter the main tenets of neoliberalism: glorification of 'the market' as the arbiter of lives, with the resulting dominance of competition over cooperation and the atomization and breakdown of social ties; we live in a 'dog eat dog' world, only the strong survive, self-reliance got me where I am?

Some days I think that this creed is the natural result of a Planet that has exceeded its carrying capacity of humans. When there were far fewer humans, cooperation and strong social bonds were the only means of survival. Really. The development of Neo-liberalism is Nature's way of getting rid of us.

But, Neo-liberalism decrees that the survivors will be, at best, rapacious, aggressive and materialistic. At worst, they will be socio-paths. It's like the Planet if only jaguars, vultures and leeches, out of all our animal relatives, survived. Do we want that to happen? OK, I realize that some of us have just given up and are sitting back to watch the slow motion disaster unfold.

First, admit that under the current system, the vast majority of us are Prey, and the .01% are Apex Predators, hunting us down, ripping, squeezing and sucking the life (and our livelihoods) out of us. How do our animal relatives who are not equipped with claws, sharp teeth and muscles built for speed, survive?

We run even faster, we develop camouflage and hide, we grow armor, we refine cooperative social skills and live in enormous colonies, (preferably underground!) where our vast numbers and ability to mobilize for work and protection provide security, we develop symbiotic relationships with larger and stronger organisms (although some might label this as 'vichy-ism,') we become almost invisible, yet with a deadly sting or poisonous coating, and we realize that sometimes we have die so that other members of the group can survive.

And, we realize that the area in which we live, our little eco-system, is crucial to our survival. We don't mess it up.

shinola , October 28, 2017 at 12:48 pm

"Under a neoliberal regime, everyone gets what they deserve. Big fish deserve their meal. Little fish deserve their death. And government sets the table for the feast."

Used to be called Social Darwinism.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 3:57 pm

Yup. The new part is the govt setting the table, though.

DJG , October 28, 2017 at 1:04 pm

How to talk about neoliberalism, which is indeed a mouthful? I was at a dinner last night of two generations of UofChicago products (as am I). We all agreed that the "Law & Economics" movement there should be dismissed out of hand as plain stupidity. I think that we spend too much time imagining that there is some Ideal Marketplace of Ideas in which the good ideas drive out the bad. And then we come up against Facebook and Twitter. So one way of talking about it is that the law has to govern markets: Neoliberalism is lawlessness. You can have law or you can have looting.

And we've certainly seen plenty of lawlessness.

Another way is to call it unconstitutional, if your interlocutor knows the U.S. Constitution. The U.S Constitution doesn't have much to say about economics, and it doesn't assume that laissez-faire is a-okay.

Further on it being unconstitutional: The U.S. Constitution brilliantly foresaw the need for some kind of bureacracy to maintain the government, rather than a claque of courtiers. So it set up the Post Office–that bureaucratic agent of oppression, Uncle Mises! It called for a census and a Census Bureau–woe betide us Uncle Milton!

You can either have the U.S. Constitution with its flaws, or you can have people eating bagels with gold foil and telling you that markets rule our lives? So which is it?

Maybe we should just call neoliberalism Gold-Bagel-ism. The antidote, as mentioned above in the thread by commentes like marym, is to return to some discussion of our Commonwealth and what to do to maintain it.

BillC , October 28, 2017 at 1:55 pm

Like water to the fish.

For me, the most effective opener (both in the sense of opening discussion as well as the listener's mind) is to state that neoliberalism is to nearly everyone in the "developed" world (and beyond) like water for fish: it's the environment in which we live, and thus becomes invisible to us. Excellent elaboration from above: it's as if citizens of the USSR had never heard of the word "communism;" instead it's just how life works.

If we can get this opening across, then the definitions and explanations discussed above in this thread may be much more effective.

ex-PFC Chuck , October 28, 2017 at 8:25 pm

Thank you Gaius for a great post – and a thanks as well are due to the authors of the good comments. As I've been reading these it occurred to me that perhaps a good conversation starter would be to ask the person what they thought of Margaret Thatcher's remark, "There's no such thing as society. There are only individuals and families." You'll have to wing it from there depending on the responses you get.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:03 pm

I also wonder aloud to them, "Why it is that when individuals do whatever they want it is called lawlessnes or anarchy, Bad Things, but when corporations do whatever they want it is considered a Good Thing?"

WobblyTelomeres , October 28, 2017 at 9:03 pm

Something like this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6mpHW3SMcc

[famous North Dallas 40 scene]

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 1:23 pm

The roots of neoliberalism in the Mont Pelerin Society is also well covered in MacLean's Democracy in Chains.

While I like this article, I disagree with the relationship of neoliberals to markets and to competition. Markets are held up to displace blame for decisions and policies made by men. The powerful use competition to explain why you deserve less and they deserve more, even when actual competition is not happening, and they actively work to prevent it.

Predators and prey do not compete for resources. A system that enshrines predation among humans is not based on a buyer and a seller making a transaction at the efficient price that maximizes each's utility and produces the best use of society's resources.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:13 pm

Agree, but for most of the people I talk to, that argument comes second. First I try to demonstrate that NeoLiberalism doing what it *says* it does is bad for us. Once they have that then I can proceed to 'NeoLiberalism doesn't even do what it says it does'. Although, I think that your point is a good first argument with small business people, "You mean that you think that your 5-employee cabinet shop makes you buddies with Elon Musk? (sub whatever rich guy your would aspire to be)" If the time seems right I might add, "He would have you on *toast*." If they think about that, they usually get it.

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 4:36 pm

I seldom even get to the point of being able to argue about these issues at all, much less take people thru the layers of consideration I've gone through over the years to reach my current model of how the world works.

I have been told that all of the books and weird websites that I read as I study a subject in depth are evidence that I lack objectivity about it and that people who know what they know from reading ordinary news have a clearer understanding than I.

TG , October 28, 2017 at 1:23 pm

"I suppose the neo-liberal philosophy could best be summed up by their rallying cry: the freedom to choose to own slaves."

"But that doesn't make sense. Freedom to choose is logically incompatible with slavery. And they never said that."

"Indeed. They would claim to be all for freedom, and against slavery. But if someone was profiting from owning slaves, they would fight tooth and nail to protect them, because any attempt at restricting the profits of slavery was seen as an intolerable corruption of the sacred free market. It was how they operated. Depending on what their rich patrons wanted at the time, sometimes they were all for free trade between the old nation states, and sometimes they demanded that the wealthy have the 'freedom' to restrict trade. It did not matter that what they said made no sense, or was logically incoherent, or at variance with reality. They never apologized, never explained, but only acted with total arrogance and self-confidence."

From "Space Battleship Scharnhorst and the Library of Doom."

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 3:59 pm

It makes sense if you believe in freedom to choose how to spend your money. How much choice you have, and how much choice you deserve to have, is measured fine-grain in dollars and cents. Other forms of power are deemed illegitimate.

it's sliding-scale individualism, where everyone is on their own, and wealth determines how much of an individual one is. The more of an individual you are, the more liberty you have, and liberty should be protected by the state.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:16 pm

Yes. I argue that one as "one dollar, one vote". People without a lot of dollars understand that on a gut level.

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 4:28 pm

I tend to think of "one dollar, one vote" when considering elections and politics; while at the same time neoliberalism is about interpersonal power without direct regard to the functioning of the state.

By this I mean that if, for example, Peter Thiel decides to spend his money to destroy you, and you don't have enough money to prevent it, then you deserve destruction. That's liberty. You're free to choose to spend your money defending yourself. Or not.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:46 pm

Exactly. People in a democracy have been raised to think that they count as much as the next person, no matter how rich or poor -- at least I hope that is till happening. Well, unless they are rich, who think they rightfully account for more. So when I say "one dollar, one vote" to poor/middle people (in an ironic sense, just so that is clear), they *feel* that it is not fair. If that catches, I point out that it goes against what they have been taught about how democracy works. I often bring this up in the context of campaign $$$ and Citizens United. It opposes the 'if they have the money then it's theirs' argument, aka 'the aristocratic' and 'it's his bat and ball'.

Scott , October 28, 2017 at 1:24 pm

For a long time now I have tried to reconstruct what it was in 1978 that convinced me it had become impossible to reform the United States.
Gaius has gotten me closer to a reconstruction of why I determined the only real solution was to create another nation, and kicked off what I recognize now as my own modeling.
My sense of what difference the goal is makes is a government that is just and fair for all citizens.
This is not the case in the neoliberal world is it. The goal of the neo-liberal world is to advance a milder form of scientific socialism, meaning the good people, well spoken well dressed no matter either in business or academia get the money for lives depicted on TV shows.
Working class people must become super humans to become educated and properly dressed to be accepted into a world of plenty and safety.
One thing I appreciate about Russians is a unique love of beauty. It is depressing that American's whole aesthetic sense revolves around cars and art is of no interest until it is ultra expensive.
Len Deighton's description of liberalism as developed in the 1840s which went on to mean the children of the newly enriched engineers who made hand built the Industrial Revolution making cotton underwear were given the money to for the schools of the old school rich people of Britain and all the rich people were in finance whether they came from old money or new money.
So I don't think of neoliberalism as about markets as much as I do think of it as the complete ascendancy of the parasites of Finance.
Creditors do not write down or write off debts of the working classes. Finance now has been given the US Treasury. Listening to Minuchin saying on the TV, in fact even seeing a face saying, "We must let the States Go and they have to make it on their own." Means there is simply no reason then to put any money by anyone into the US Treasury. The United States is just a huge military engaged in little and large wars all over the world anyway. Why ought anyone pay taxes to further the new owner of the Empire, Rome?
Deighton writes that since all the sewing machines and looms were moved to India, by the time the 19th Century ended Finance had gambled away all of the wealth of the UK.
"I like to play with debt, but it is tricky." Says Trump.
As long as you are the "Loss Payee" bankruptcy is as fine as any sort of success aye? "I don't pay taxes, I'm smart."
The aim is to lose all the money, then have it all given to you by the Treasury.
There is no citizenship of the World Citizen, or Jet Setter. They don't need any real citizenship.
For the majority, the nation matters. It may be the only thing they have of any value. The nation we are in love with it the nation that would go to defeat the Barbary Pirates over the capture of one US citizen, a stand in for you.
The one we have makes heroes and a President of the parasitical pirates come from neofeudalism.
In Texas even swords are coming back.

Ep3 , October 28, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Yves, great article, and loved the interview with Mirowski.

Here's the thing I see Neo-liberalism has done for society as a whole. If I asked you to "I present 2 humans before you and ask which one has more value to the world, which one, if there was only one hamburger left to eat, deserves to eat that sandwich, deserves to survive in a world with limited resources (which is what earth is), how would you go about choosing which one"? I am saying Neo-liberalism says "look at their wealth". It judges people by how much money/wealth they have. The only way to judge whether one human should survive over another is by the amount of money they make.
Jimmy Carter said in 1980 how we are moving as a society to how we rate a man is by the amount of money he has. If he was the proto-Neo-liberal, then it makes sense.

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 4:43 pm

One of the conceits of neo-liberalism (and I guess capitalism in general) is that how much wealth one has indicates how much one is owed for one's contribution to society (because markets allocate resources optimally). Thus the biggest takers are transformed into the biggest givers.

Wukchumni , October 28, 2017 at 4:46 pm

So if a UFO landed and little green men came out, they'd say:

"Lead me to your takers."

Wukchumni , October 28, 2017 at 1:39 pm

Neo-liberalism doesn't care or think all that much about it's actions, as long as they are profitable.

We have this ridiculous never ending series of wars and nobody's marching in the streets or even making a fuss about it, as we've accepted the premise as business as usual.

It has the feel of the Vietnam War still going in 1982, and nobody cared.

Other countries look at prisons as a necessary evil, whereas we can't have enough of them, so much so that we allow private companies the right to incarcerate our own citizens.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:56 pm

nobody's marching in the streets or even making a fuss about it

Lessee, last time I recall Big Street Protests was Occupy. They got shut down , brutally. NoDAPL, similar, even the Trump inauguration protests. Marches not reported -- they might as well not have happened. But I believe they really, really did happen.

Wukchumni , October 28, 2017 at 5:00 pm

An older friend was going to Cal State L.A. around 1970, when a good number of the student body decided to walk onto the nearby 10 freeway and shut it down, as a protest against the Vietnam War.

you seeing anything like that out there?

JBird , October 28, 2017 at 5:15 pm

We incarcerate so many because it is profitable as jobs program for voters in poor counties, slave labor for manufacturing, and profitable for corporations/donors.

Jeremy Grimm , October 28, 2017 at 6:09 pm

I believe discussion of Neoliberalism is very much like discussion of Global Warming. "Weedy" or not, "academic" or not both discussions require transit through some difficult concepts and technical depth. In the case of Global Warming discussions you either come to grips with some complicated climate science or you end up discussing matters of faith drawn from popular "simplifications". In the case of Neoliberalism the discussion necessarily enters a region which requires attention to fine details which when followed to their end tend to have deep and broad implications.

In the interview referenced by this post Phillip Mirowski asserts Neoliberals believe the Market is an information processor which "knows" more than you or I could ever know. He also introduces the concept of a Thought Collective -- which he states he adapted from writings of Ludwig Fleck related to describing a method for study and explanation of the history of Science. I believe both these "weedy" "academic" distinctions are key to understanding Neoliberalism and distinguishing it from Neoclassical economics and Libertarianism. The concept of a Thought Collective greatly aids understanding the particularly slippery nature of Neoliberalism as a term for discussion. That slippery nature is no accident. The Market as a theory of knowledge -- an epistemology -- makes apparent the philosophical even "religious" extent of Neoliberal thinking.

Two recent papers by Phillip Mirowski tackle the difficulties in defining and discussing Neoliberalism. They are both "weedy" and "academic" and unfortunately help little in addressing the issue RabidGhandhi raised at the root of the lengthy thread beginning the comments to this post.

"The Political Movement that Dared not Speak its own Name: The Neoliberal Thought
Collective Under Erasure" 2014
[https://www.ineteconomics.org/research/research-papers/the-political-movement-that-dared-not-speak-its-own-name-the-neoliberal-thought-collective-under-erasure]

"This is Water (or is it Neoliberalism?)" 2016 -- this is a response to critics of the previous paper.
[https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/this-is-water-or-is-it-neoliberalism]

There have been several oblique references to this story -- so I'll repeat it since I only recently ran across it.
There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish
swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, "Morning, boys, how's the water?" And
the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, "What the hell is water?"

I am afraid that little story says volumes about the problem RabidGhandhi raised. I believe remaining "weedy" and "academic" is the very least service we might do to discussing Neoliberalism and when arguing topics related to Neoliberalism -- and probably the least damage.

[Oct 25, 2017] Tomorrow Belongs to the Corporatocracy by C.J. Hopkins

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Google is algorithmically burying leftist news and opinion sources such as Alternet, Counterpunch, Global Research, Consortium News, and Truthout, among others. ..."
"... my political essays are often reposted by right-wing and, yes, even pro-Russia blogs. I get mail from former Sanders supporters, Trump supporters, anarchists, socialists, former 1960s radicals, anti-Semites, and other human beings, some of whom I passionately agree with, others of whom I passionately disagree with. As far as I can tell from the emails, none of these readers voted for Clinton, or Macron, or supported the TPP, or the debt-enslavement and looting of Greece, or the ongoing restructuring of the Greater Middle East (and all the lovely knock-on effects that has brought us), or believe that Trump is a Russian operative, or that Obama is Martin Luther Jesus-on-a-stick. ..."
"... What they share, despite their opposing views, is a general awareness that the locus of power in our post-Cold War age is primarily corporate, or global capitalist, and neoliberal in nature. They also recognize that they are being subjected to a massive propaganda campaign designed to lump them all together (again, despite their opposing views) into an intentionally vague and undefinable category comprising anyone and everyone, everywhere, opposing the hegemony of global capitalism, and its non-ideological ideology (the nature of which I'll get into in a moment). ..."
"... Although the term has been around since the Fifth Century BC, the concept of "extremism" as we know it today developed in the late Twentieth Century and has come into vogue in the last three decades. During the Cold War, the preferred exonymics were "subversive," "radical," or just plain old "communist," all of which terms referred to an actual ideological adversary. ..."
"... Which is why, despite the "Russiagate" hysteria the media have been barraging us with, the West is not going to war with Russia. Nor are we going to war with China. Russia and China are developed countries, whose economies are entirely dependent on global capitalism, as are Western economies. The economies of every developed nation on the planet are inextricably linked. This is the nature of the global hegemony I've been referring to throughout this essay. Not American hegemony, but global capitalist hegemony. Systemic, supranational hegemony (which I like to prefer "the Corporatocracy," as it sounds more poetic and less post-structural). ..."
"... Global capitalism, since the end of the Cold War (i.e, immediately after the end of the Cold War), has been conducting a global clean-up operation, eliminating actual and potential insurgencies, mostly in the Middle East, but also in its Western markets. Having won the last ideological war, like any other victorious force, it has been "clear-and-holding" the conquered territory, which in this case happens to be the whole planet. Just for fun, get out a map, and look at the history of invasions, bombings, and other "interventions" conducted by the West and its assorted client states since 1990. Also, once you're done with that, consider how, over the last fifteen years, most Western societies have been militarized, their citizens placed under constant surveillance, and an overall atmosphere of "emergency" fostered, and paranoia about "the threat of extremism" propagated by the corporate media. ..."
"... Short some sort of cataclysm, like an asteroid strike or the zombie apocalypse, or, you know, violent revolution, global capitalism will continue to restructure the planet to conform to its ruthless interests. The world will become increasingly "normal." The scourge of "extremism" and "terrorism" will persist, as will the general atmosphere of "emergency." There will be no more Trumps, Brexit referendums, revolts against the banks, and so on. Identity politics will continue to flourish, providing a forum for leftist activist types (and others with an unhealthy interest in politics), who otherwise might become a nuisance, but any and all forms of actual dissent from global capitalist ideology will be systematically marginalized and pathologized. ..."
"... C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play Publishing (USA). His debut novel, ZONE 23 , is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant. He can reached at cjhopkins.com or consentfactory.org . ..."
"... That is certainly what the geopolitical establishment is hoping for, but I remain skeptical of their ability to contain what forces they've used to balance the various camps of dissenting proles. They've painted themselves into a corner with non-white identity politics combined with mass immigration. The logical conclusion of where they're going is pogroms and none of the kleptocracy seem bold enough to try and stop this from happening. ..."
"... Germany is the last EU member state where an anti EU party entered parliament. In the last French elections four out of every ten voters voted on anti EU parties. In Austria the anti EU parties now have a majority. So if I were leading a big corporation, thriving by globalism, what also the EU is, I would be worried. ..."
"... This is a great article. The author's identification of "normality" & "extremism" as Capitalism's go-to concepts for social control is spot on accurate. That these terms can mean anything or nothing & are infinitely flexible is central to their power. ..."
Oct 20, 2017 | www.unz.com

Back in October of 2016, I wrote a somewhat divisive essay in which I suggested that political dissent is being systematically pathologized. In fact, this process has been ongoing for decades, but it has been significantly accelerated since the Brexit referendum and the Rise of Trump (or, rather, the Fall of Hillary Clinton, as it was Americans' lack of enthusiasm for eight more years of corporatocracy with a sugar coating of identity politics, and not their enthusiasm for Trump, that mostly put the clown in office.)

In the twelve months since I wrote that piece, we have been subjected to a concerted campaign of corporate media propaganda for which there is no historical precedent. Virtually every major organ of the Western media apparatus (the most powerful propaganda machine in the annals of powerful propaganda machines) has been relentlessly churning out variations on a new official ideological narrative designed to generate and enforce conformity. The gist of this propaganda campaign is that "Western democracy" is under attack by a confederacy of Russians and white supremacists, as well as "the terrorists" and other "extremists" it's been under attack by for the last sixteen years.

I've been writing about this campaign for a year now, so I'm not going to rehash all the details. Suffice to say we've gone from Russian operatives hacking the American elections to "Russia-linked" persons "apparently" setting up "illegitimate" Facebook accounts, "likely operated out of Russia," and publishing ads that are "indistinguishable from legitimate political speech" on the Internet. This is what the corporate media is presenting as evidence of "an unprecedented foreign invasion of American democracy," a handful of political ads on Facebook. In addition to the Russian hacker propaganda, since August, we have also been treated to relentless white supremacist hysteria and daily reminders from the corporate media that "white nationalism is destroying the West." The negligible American neo-Nazi subculture has been blown up into a biblical Behemoth inexorably slouching its way towards the White House to officially launch the Trumpian Reich.

At the same time, government and corporate entities have been aggressively restricting (and in many cases eliminating) fundamental civil liberties such as freedom of expression, freedom of the press, the right of assembly, the right to privacy, and the right to due process under the law. The justification for this curtailment of rights (which started in earnest in 2001, following the September 11 attacks) is protecting the public from the threat of "terrorism," which apparently shows no signs of abating. As of now, the United States has been in a State of Emergency for over sixteen years. The UK is in a virtual State of Emergency . France is now in the process of enshrining its permanent State of Emergency into law. Draconian counter-terrorism measures have been implemented throughout the EU . Not just the notorious American police but police throughout the West have been militarized . Every other day we learn of some new emergency security measure designed to keep us safe from "the terrorists," the "lone wolf shooters," and other "extremists."

Conveniently, since the Brexit referendum and unexpected election of Trump (which is when the capitalist ruling classes first recognized that they had a widespread nationalist backlash on their hands), the definition of "terrorism" (or, more broadly, "extremism") has been expanded to include not just Al Qaeda, or ISIS, or whoever we're calling "the terrorists" these days, but anyone else the ruling classes decide they need to label "extremists." The FBI has designated Black Lives Matter "Black Identity Extremists." The FBI and the DHS have designated Antifa "domestic terrorists."

Hosting corporations have shut down several white supremacist and neo-Nazi websites , along with their access to online fundraising. Google is algorithmically burying leftist news and opinion sources such as Alternet, Counterpunch, Global Research, Consortium News, and Truthout, among others. Twitter, Facebook, and Google have teamed up to cleanse the Internet of "extremist content," "hate speech," and whatever else they arbitrarily decide is inappropriate. YouTube, with assistance from the ADL (which deems pro-Palestinian activists and other critics of Israel "extremists") is censoring "extremist" and "controversial" videos , in an effort to "fight terrorist content online." Facebook is also collaborating with Israel to thwart "extremism," "incitement of violence," and whatever else Israel decides is "inflammatory."

In the UK, simply reading "terrorist content" is punishable by fifteen years in prison. Over three thousand people were arrested last year for publishing "offensive" and "menacing" material.

Whatever your opinion of these organizations and "extremist" persons is beside the point. I'm not a big fan of neo-Nazis, personally, but neither am I a fan of Antifa. I don't have much use for conspiracy theories, or a lot of the nonsense one finds on the Internet, but I consume a fair amount of alternative media, and I publish in CounterPunch, The Unz Review, ColdType, and other non-corporate journals.

I consider myself a leftist, basically, but my political essays are often reposted by right-wing and, yes, even pro-Russia blogs. I get mail from former Sanders supporters, Trump supporters, anarchists, socialists, former 1960s radicals, anti-Semites, and other human beings, some of whom I passionately agree with, others of whom I passionately disagree with. As far as I can tell from the emails, none of these readers voted for Clinton, or Macron, or supported the TPP, or the debt-enslavement and looting of Greece, or the ongoing restructuring of the Greater Middle East (and all the lovely knock-on effects that has brought us), or believe that Trump is a Russian operative, or that Obama is Martin Luther Jesus-on-a-stick.

What they share, despite their opposing views, is a general awareness that the locus of power in our post-Cold War age is primarily corporate, or global capitalist, and neoliberal in nature. They also recognize that they are being subjected to a massive propaganda campaign designed to lump them all together (again, despite their opposing views) into an intentionally vague and undefinable category comprising anyone and everyone, everywhere, opposing the hegemony of global capitalism, and its non-ideological ideology (the nature of which I'll get into in a moment).

As I wrote in that essay a year ago, "a line is being drawn in the ideological sand." This line cuts across both Left and Right, dividing what the capitalist ruling classes designate "normal" from what they label "extremist." The traditional ideological paradigm, Left versus Right, is disappearing (except as a kind of minstrel show), and is being replaced, or overwritten, by a pathological paradigm based upon the concept of "extremism."

* * *

Although the term has been around since the Fifth Century BC, the concept of "extremism" as we know it today developed in the late Twentieth Century and has come into vogue in the last three decades. During the Cold War, the preferred exonymics were "subversive," "radical," or just plain old "communist," all of which terms referred to an actual ideological adversary.

In the early 1990s, as the U.S.S.R. disintegrated, and globalized Western capitalism became the unrivaled global-hegemonic ideological system that it is today, a new concept was needed to represent the official enemy and its ideology. The concept of "extremism" does that perfectly, as it connotes, not an external enemy with a definable ideological goal, but rather, a deviation from the norm. The nature of the deviation (e.g., right-wing, left-wing, faith-based, and so on) is secondary, almost incidental. The deviation itself is the point. The "terrorist," the "extremist," the "white supremacist," the "religious fanatic," the "violent anarchist" these figures are not rational actors whose ideas we need to intellectually engage with in order to debate or debunk. They are pathological deviations, mutant cells within the body of "normality," which we need to identify and eliminate, not for ideological reasons, but purely in order to maintain "security."

A truly global-hegemonic system like contemporary global capitalism (the first of this kind in human history), technically, has no ideology. "Normality" is its ideology an ideology which erases itself and substitutes the concept of what's "normal," or, in other words, "just the way it is." The specific characteristics of "normality," although not quite arbitrary, are ever-changing. In the West, for example, thirty years ago, smoking was normal. Now, it's abnormal. Being gay was abnormal. Now, it's normal. Being transgender is becoming normal, although we're still in the early stages of the process. Racism has become abnormal. Body hair is currently abnormal. Walking down the street in a semi-fugue state robotically thumbing the screen of a smartphone that you just finished thumbing a minute ago is "normal." Capitalism has no qualms with these constant revisions to what is considered normal, because none of them are threats to capitalism. On the contrary, as far as values are concerned, the more flexible and commodifiable the better.

See, despite what intersectionalists will tell you, capitalism has no interest in racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, or any other despotic values (though it has no problem working with these values when they serve its broader strategic purposes). Capitalism is an economic system, which we have elevated to a social system. It only has one fundamental value, exchange value, which isn't much of a value, at least not in terms of organizing society or maintaining any sort of human culture or reverence for the natural world it exists in. In capitalist society, everything, everyone, every object and sentient being, every concept and human emotion, is worth exactly what the market will bear no more, no less, than its market price. There is no other measure of value.

Yes, we all want there to be other values, and we pretend there are, but there aren't, not really. Although we're free to enjoy parochial subcultures based on alternative values (i.e., religious bodies, the arts, and so on), these subcultures operate within capitalist society, and ultimately conform to its rules. In the arts, for example, works are either commercial products, like any other commodity, or they are subsidized by what could be called "the simulated aristocracy," the ivy league-educated leisure classes (and lower class artists aspiring thereto) who need to pretend that they still have "culture" in order to feel superior to the masses. In the latter case, this feeling of superiority is the upscale product being sold. In the former, it is entertainment, distraction from the depressing realities of living, not in a society at all, but in a marketplace with no real human values. (In the absence of any real cultural values, there is no qualitative difference between Gerhard Richter and Adam Sandler, for example. They're both successful capitalist artists. They're just selling their products in different markets.)

The fact that it has no human values is the evil genius of global capitalist society. Unlike the despotic societies it replaced, it has no allegiance to any cultural identities, or traditions, or anything other than money. It can accommodate any form of government, as long as it plays ball with global capitalism. Thus, the window dressing of "normality" is markedly different from country to country, but the essence of "normality" remains the same. Even in countries with state religions (like Iran) or state ideologies (like China), the governments play by the rules of global capitalism like everyone else. If they don't, they can expect to receive a visit from global capitalism's Regime Change Department (i.e., the US military and its assorted partners).

Which is why, despite the "Russiagate" hysteria the media have been barraging us with, the West is not going to war with Russia. Nor are we going to war with China. Russia and China are developed countries, whose economies are entirely dependent on global capitalism, as are Western economies. The economies of every developed nation on the planet are inextricably linked. This is the nature of the global hegemony I've been referring to throughout this essay. Not American hegemony, but global capitalist hegemony. Systemic, supranational hegemony (which I like to prefer "the Corporatocracy," as it sounds more poetic and less post-structural).

We haven't really got our minds around it yet, because we're still in the early stages of it, but we have entered an epoch in which historical events are primarily being driven, and societies reshaped, not by sovereign nation states acting in their national interests but by supranational corporations acting in their corporate interests. Paramount among these corporate interests is the maintenance and expansion of global capitalism, and the elimination of any impediments thereto. Forget about the United States (i.e., the actual nation state) for a moment, and look at what's been happening since the early 1990s. The US military's "disastrous misadventures" in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, and the former Yugoslavia, among other exotic places (which have obviously had nothing to do with the welfare or security of any actual Americans), begin to make a lot more sense.

Global capitalism, since the end of the Cold War (i.e, immediately after the end of the Cold War), has been conducting a global clean-up operation, eliminating actual and potential insurgencies, mostly in the Middle East, but also in its Western markets. Having won the last ideological war, like any other victorious force, it has been "clear-and-holding" the conquered territory, which in this case happens to be the whole planet. Just for fun, get out a map, and look at the history of invasions, bombings, and other "interventions" conducted by the West and its assorted client states since 1990. Also, once you're done with that, consider how, over the last fifteen years, most Western societies have been militarized, their citizens placed under constant surveillance, and an overall atmosphere of "emergency" fostered, and paranoia about "the threat of extremism" propagated by the corporate media.

I'm not suggesting there's a bunch of capitalists sitting around in a room somewhere in their shiny black top hats planning all of this. I'm talking about systemic development, which is a little more complex than that, and much more difficult to intelligently discuss because we're used to perceiving historico-political events in the context of competing nation states, rather than competing ideological systems or non-competing ideological systems, for capitalism has no competition . What it has, instead, is a variety of insurgencies, the faith-based Islamic fundamentalist insurgency and the neo-nationalist insurgency chief among them. There will certainly be others throughout the near future as global capitalism consolidates control and restructures societies according to its values. None of these insurgencies will be successful.

Short some sort of cataclysm, like an asteroid strike or the zombie apocalypse, or, you know, violent revolution, global capitalism will continue to restructure the planet to conform to its ruthless interests. The world will become increasingly "normal." The scourge of "extremism" and "terrorism" will persist, as will the general atmosphere of "emergency." There will be no more Trumps, Brexit referendums, revolts against the banks, and so on. Identity politics will continue to flourish, providing a forum for leftist activist types (and others with an unhealthy interest in politics), who otherwise might become a nuisance, but any and all forms of actual dissent from global capitalist ideology will be systematically marginalized and pathologized.

This won't happen right away, of course. Things are liable to get ugly first (as if they weren't ugly enough already), but probably not in the way we're expecting, or being trained to expect by the corporate media. Look, I'll give you a dollar if it turns out I'm wrong, and the Russians, terrorists, white supremacists, and other "extremists" do bring down "democracy" and launch their Islamic, white supremacist, Russo-Nazi Reich, or whatever, but from where I sit it looks pretty clear tomorrow belongs to the Corporatocracy.

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

Malla , October 20, 2017 at 12:56 pm GMT

Brilliant Article. But this has been going on for nearly a century or more. New York Jewish bankers fund the Bolshevik revolution which gets rid of the Romanov dynasty and many of the revolutionaries are not even Russian. What many people do not know is that many Western companies invested money in Bolshevik Russia as the Bolsheviks were speeding up the modernising of the country. What many do not know is that Feminism, destruction of families and traditional societies, homoerotic art etc . was forced on the new Soviet population in a shock therapy sort of way. The same process has been implemented in the West by the elites using a much slower 'boiling the frog' method using Cultural Marxism. The aim of the Soviet Union was to spread Communism around the World and hence bring about the One World Government as wished by the globalists. Their national anthem was the 'Internationale'. The globalists were funding revolutionary movements throughout Europe and other parts of the world. One such attempt went extremely wrong and that was in Germany where instead of the Communists coming in power, the National Socialists come in power which was the most dangerous challenge faced by the Zio/globalists/elite gang. The Globalists force a war using false flag events like Pearl Harbour etc and crushed the powers which challenged their rule i.e. Germany, Japan and Italy. That is why Capitalist USA funded Communist Soviet Union using the land lease program, which on the surface never makes any sense.

However in Soviet Russia, a power struggle leads to Stalin destroying the old Communist order of Lenin Trotsky. Trotsky and his supporters leave the Soviet Union. Many of the present Neo Cons are ex Trotskyites and hence the crazy hatred for Russia even today in American politics. These Neocons do not have any principles, they will use any ideology such as Communism, Islam, twisted Western Conservatism anything to attain their global goals.

Now with Stalin coming to power, things actually improved and the war with Hitler's Third Reich gave Stalin the chance to purge many old school globalist commies and then the Soviet Union went towards a more nationalist road. Jews slowly started losing their hold on power with Russians and eventually other Soviets gaining more powerful positions. These folks found the ugly modern art culture of the early Soviet period revolting and started a new movement where the messages of Socialism can be delivered with more healthy beautiful art and culture. This process was called 'Social Realism'. So strangely what happened was that the Capitalist Christian West was becoming more and more less traditional with time (Cultural Marxism/Fabien Socialism via media, education, Hollywood) while the Eastern block was slowly moving in an opposite direction. The CIA (which is basically the intelligence agency arm of Wall Street Bankers) was working to stop this 'Social Realism' movement.

These same globalists also funded Mao and pulled the rug under Chiang Kai Shek who they were supporting earlier. Yes, Mao was funded by the Rockerfeller/ Rothschild Cabal. Now, even if the Globalists were not happy with Stalin gaining power in the Soviet Union (they preferred the internationalist Trotskyites), they still found that they could work out with the Soviet Union. That is why during the 2nd World war, the USA supports the USSR with money and material, Stalin gets a facelift as 'friendly Uncle Joe' for the Western audience. Many Cossack families who had escaped the Soviet Union to the West were sent to their deaths after the War to the Soviet Union. Why? Mr. Eden of Britain who could not stand Hitler wanted a New World Order where they could work with the more murderous Soviet Union.

Now we have the cold war. What is not known is that behind the scenes at a higher level, the Americans and the Soviets cooperated with each other exchanging technology, basically the cold war was quite fake. But the Cold war gave the American government (basically the Globalists) to take American Tax payers hard earned money to fund many projects such as Star Wars programme etc All this was not needed, as a gentleman named Keenan had shown in his book that all the Americans needed to do was to make sure Japan, Germany and Britain did not fall to the Soviets, that's it. Thus trillions of American tax payer money would be saved. But obviously the Military Industrial Complex did not like that idea. Both the Soviet and the American governments got the excuse spend their people's hard money on weapons research as well as exchanging some of that technology in the back ground. It is during this period that the precursor to the Internet was already developed. Many of the technology we use today was already invented much earlier by government agencies but released to the people later.

Then we have the Vietnam war. Now you must realise that the Globalist government of America uses wars not only to change enemy societies but also the domestic society in the West. So during the Vietnam War, the US government using the alphabet agencies such as the CIA kick start the fake opposition hippie movements. The CIA not only drugged the Vietnamese population using drugs from the Golden Triangle but later released them on the home population in the USA and the West. This was all part of the Cultural Marxist plan to change or social engineer American/ Western society. Many institutes like the Travestock Institute were part of this process. For example one of the main hochos of the Cultural Marxism, a Mr. Aderno was closely related to the Beatles movement.

Several experiments was done on mind control such as MK Ultra, monarch programming, Edward Bernay's works etc Their aim was to destroy traditional Western society and the long term goal is a New World Order. Blacks for example were used as weapons against Whites at the same time the black social order was destroyed further via the media etc

Now, Nixon going to China was to start a long term (long planned) process to bring about Corporate Communism. Yes that is going to be economic system in the coming New World Order. China is the test tube, where the Worst of Communism and the Worst of Crony Capitalism be brought together as an experiment. As the Soviet Union was going in a direction, the globalist was not happy about (it was becoming more nationalist), they worked to bring the Soviet Union down and thus the Soviet experiment ended only to be continued in China.

NATO today is the core military arm of the globalists, a precursor to a One World Military Force. That explains why after the Warsaw pact was dismantled, NATO was not or why NATO would interfere in the Middle East which is far away from the Atlantic Ocean.

The coming Cashless society will finally lead to a moneyless or distribution society, in other words Communism, that is the long term plan.

My point is, many of the geo political events as well as social movements of the last century (feminism for example) were all planned for a long time and are not accidents. The coming technologies like the internet of things, 5G technology, Cashless society, biometric identification everywhere etc are all designed to help bring about the final aim of the globalists. The final aim is a one world government with Corporate ruled Communism where we, the worker bees will be living in our shitty inner city like ghetto homes eating GM plastic foods and listening to crappy music. That is the future they have planned for us. A inner city ghetto like place under Communism ruled by greedy evil corporates.

Seamus Padraig , October 20, 2017 at 5:13 pm GMT
Once again, C.J. nails it!
Issac , October 21, 2017 at 1:52 am GMT
"Short some sort of cataclysm, like an asteroid strike or the zombie apocalypse, or, you know, violent revolution, global capitalism will continue to restructure the planet to conform to its ruthless interests."

That is certainly what the geopolitical establishment is hoping for, but I remain skeptical of their ability to contain what forces they've used to balance the various camps of dissenting proles. They've painted themselves into a corner with non-white identity politics combined with mass immigration. The logical conclusion of where they're going is pogroms and none of the kleptocracy seem bold enough to try and stop this from happening.

peterAUS , October 21, 2017 at 9:25 pm GMT
@Issac

That is certainly what the geopolitical establishment is hoping for, but I remain skeptical of their ability to contain what forces they've used to balance the various camps of dissenting proles.

Agree.

Wizard of Oz , October 25, 2017 at 4:32 am GMT
@Malla

There must be some evidence for your assertions about the long term plans and aims of globalists and others if there is truth in them. The sort of people you are referring to would often have kept private diaries and certainly written many hundreds or thousands of letters. Can you give any references to such evidence of say 80 to 130 years ago?

edNels , October 25, 2017 at 4:46 am GMT
Finally an article that tells as it is! and the first comment is a great one too. It is right there to see for anybody with eyes screwed in right.
wayfarer , October 25, 2017 at 5:16 am GMT
"Three Things Cannot Be Long Hidden: the Sun, the Moon, and the Truth." – Buddha
ThereisaGod , October 25, 2017 at 5:54 am GMT
Regarding Trump being "a clown" the jury is out:

http://www.voltairenet.org/article198481.html

.. puzzling that the writer feels the need to virtue-signal by saying he "doesn't have much time for conspiracy theories" while condemning an absolutely massive conspiracy to present establishment lies as truth.

That is one of the most depressing demonstrations of the success of the ruling creeps that I have yet come across.

jilles dykstra , October 25, 2017 at 7:35 am GMT
Germany is the last EU member state where an anti EU party entered parliament. In the last French elections four out of every ten voters voted on anti EU parties. In Austria the anti EU parties now have a majority. So if I were leading a big corporation, thriving by globalism, what also the EU is, I would be worried.
animalogic , October 25, 2017 at 7:36 am GMT
"See, despite what intersectionalists will tell you, capitalism has no interest in racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, or any other despotic values (though it has no problem working with these values when they serve its broader strategic purposes). Capitalism is an economic system, which we have elevated to a social system. It only has one fundamental value, exchange value, which isn't much of a value, at least not in terms of organizing society or maintaining any sort of human culture or reverence for the natural world it exists in. In capitalist society, everything, everyone, every object and sentient being, every concept and human emotion, is worth exactly what the market will bear no more, no less, than its market price. There is no other measure of value."

This is a great article. The author's identification of "normality" & "extremism" as Capitalism's go-to concepts for social control is spot on accurate. That these terms can mean anything or nothing & are infinitely flexible is central to their power.

Mr Hopkins is also correct when he points out that Capitalism has essentially NO values (exchange value is a value, but also a mechanism). Again, Capitalism stands for nothing: any form of government is acceptable as long as it bows to neoliberal markets.

However, the author probably goes to far:

"Nor are we going to war with China. Russia and China are developed countries, whose economies are entirely dependent on global capitalism, as are Western economies. The economies of every developed nation on the planet are inextricably linked. This is the nature of the global hegemony I've been referring to throughout this essay. Not American hegemony, but global capitalist hegemony. Systemic, supranational hegemony".

Capitalism has no values: however the Masters of the capitalist system most certainly do: Capitalism is a means, the most thorough, profound means yet invented, for the attainment of that value which has NO exchange value: POWER.

Capitalism is a supranational hegemony – yet the Elites which control it, who will act as one when presented with any external threats to Capitalism itself, are not unified internally. Indeed, they will engage in cut throat competition, whether considered as individuals or nations or as particular industries.

US Imperialism is not imaginary, it is not a mere appearance or mirage of Capitalism, supranational or not. US Imperialism in essence empowers certain sets of Capitalists over other sets. No, they may not purposely endanger the System as a whole, however, that still leaves plenty of space for aggressive competition, up to & including war.

Imperialism is the political corollary to the ultimate economic goal of the individual Capitalist: Monopoly.

jilles dykstra , October 25, 2017 at 7:36 am GMT
@Malla

Read Howard Zinn, and discover that the USA always was the same since Columbus began.

m___ , October 25, 2017 at 9:00 am GMT
Psychologically daring (being no minstrel to corporatocracy nor irrelevant activism and other "religions" that endorse the current world global system as the overhead), rationally correct, relevant, core definition of the larger geo-world and deeper "ideological" grounding( in the case of capitalism the quite shallow brute forcing of greed as an incentive, as sterile a society as possible), and adhering to longer timelines of reality of planet earth. Perfectly captures the "essence" of the dynamics of our times.

The few come to the authors' through-sites by many venue-ways, that's where some of the corporocratic world, by sheer statistics wind up also. Why do they not get the overhand into molding the shallow into anything better in the long haul. No world leader, no intellectual within power circles, even within confined quarters, speaks to the absurdity of the ongoing slugging and maltering of global human?

The elites of now are too dumb to consider the planet exo-human as a limited resource. Immigration, migration, is the de facto path to "normalization" in the terms of the author. Reducing the world population is not "in" the capitalist ideology. A major weakness, or if one prefers the stake that pinches the concept of capitalism: more instead of quality principles.

The game changers, the possible game changers: eugenics and how they play out as to the elites ( understanding the genome and manipulating it), artificial intelligence ( defining it first, not the "Elon Musk" definition), and as a far outlier exo-planetary arguments.

Confront the above with the "unexpected", the not-human engineered possible events (astroids and the like, secondary effects of human induced toxicity, others), and the chances to get to the author's "dollar" and what it by then might mean is indeed tiny.

As to the content, one of the utmost relevant articles, it is "art" to condense such broad a world view into a few words, it requires a deep understanding foremost, left to wonder what can be grasped by most reading above. Some-one try the numbers?, "big data" anyone, they might turn out in favor of what the author undoubtedly absorbed as the nucleus of twenty-first thinking, strategy and engineering.

This kind of thinking and "Harvard" conventionality, what a distance.

Hans Vogel , October 25, 2017 at 9:24 am GMT
Great article, spot on. Indeed we are all at the mercy now of a relatively small clique of ruthless criminals who are served by armies of desensitized, stupid mercenaries: MBAs, politicians, thugs, college professors, "whorenalists", etc. I am afraid that the best answer to the current and future dystopia is what the Germans call "innere Emigration," to psychologically detach oneself from the contemporary world.

Thus, the only way out of this hellhole is through reading and thinking, which every self-respecting individual should engage in. Shun most contemporary "literature" and instead turn to the classics of European culture: there you will find all you need.

For an earlier and ever so pertinent analysis of the contemporary desert, I can heartily recommend Umberto Galimberti's I vizi capitali e i nuovi vizi (Milan, 2003).

m___ , October 25, 2017 at 9:28 am GMT
@Malla

And yes, another verbally strong expression of the in your face truth, though for so few to grasp. The author again has a deep understanding, if one prefers, it points to the venueway of coming to terms, the empirical pathway as to the understanding.

"Plasticky" society is my preferred term for designating the aberrance that most (within the elites), the rest who cares (as an historical truth), do not seem to identify as proper cluelessness in the light of longer timelines. The current global ideology, religion of capitalism-democracy is the equivalent of opportunistic naval staring of the elites. They are not aware that suffocation will irreversibly affect oneself. Not enough air is the equivalent of no air in the end.

jacques sheete , October 25, 2017 at 11:12 am GMT

The negligible American neo-Nazi subculture has been blown up into a biblical Behemoth inexorably slouching its way towards the White House to officially launch the Trumpian Reich.

While the above is true, I hope most folks understand that the basic concept of controlling people through fear is nothing new. The much vaunted constitution was crammed down our collective throats by the rich scoundrels of the time in the words of more than one anti-federalist through the conjuring of quite a set of threats, all bogus.

I address my most fervent prayer to prevent our adopting a system destructive to liberty We are told there are dangers, but those dangers are ideal; they cannot be demonstrated.

- Patrick Henry, Foreign Wars, Civil Wars, and Indian Wars -- Three Bugbears, June 5, 7, and 9, 1788

https://www.infoplease.com/homework-help/united-states-documents/patrick-henry-foreign-wars-civil-wars-and-indian-wars-three

Bottom line: Concentrated wealth and power suck.The USA was ruled by a plutoligarchy from its inception, and the material benefits we still enjoy have occurred not because of it but despite it.

Jake , October 25, 2017 at 11:28 am GMT
It is the nightmare world of Network come to life.
jacques sheete , October 25, 2017 at 12:29 pm GMT
For today's goofy "right wing" big business "conservatives" who think the US won WW2, I got news for you. Monopoly capitalism, complete with increasing centralization of the economy and political forces were given boosts by both world wars.

It was precisely in reaction to their impending defeat at the hands of the competitive storms of the market tha t business turned, increasingly after the 1900′s, to the federal government for aid and protection. In short, the intervention by the federal government was designed, not to curb big business monopoly for the sake of the public weal, but to create monopolies that big business (as well as trade associations smaller business) had not been able to establish amidst the competitive gales of the free market. Both Left and Right have been persistently misled by the notion that intervention by the government is ipso facto leftish and anti-business. Hence the mythology of the New-Fair Deal-as-Red that is endemic on the Right. Both the big businessmen, led by the Morgan interests, and Professor Kolko almost uniquely in the academic world, have realized that monopoly privilege can only be created by the State and not as a result of free market operations.

-Murray N. Rothbard, Rothbard Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty, [Originally appeared in Left and Right, Spring 1965, pp. 4-22.]

https://mises.org/library/left-and-right-prospects-liberty

jacques sheete , October 25, 2017 at 12:37 pm GMT

A truly global-hegemonic system like contemporary global capitalism (the first of this kind in human history), technically, has no ideology.

Please change that to" contemporary state-sponsored global capitalism

Malla , October 25, 2017 at 1:58 pm GMT
@Wizard of Oz

It was all about connecting the dots really. Connecting the dots of too many books I have gobe through and videos I have seen. Too many to list here.

You can get a lot of info from the book 'Tragedy and Hope' by Carroll Quigley though he avoids mantioning Jews and calls it the Anglo American establishment, Anthony Sutton however I completely disagree about funding of the Third Reich but he does talk a lot about the secret relationship between the USA and the USSR, Revilo Oliver etc.. etc Well you could read the Protocols. Now if you think that the protocols was a forgery, you gotta see this, especially the last part.

Also check this out

Also check out what this Wall Street guy realised in his career.

Also this 911 firefighter, what he found out after some research

Miro23 , October 25, 2017 at 2:18 pm GMT

Capitalism is an economic system, which we have elevated to a social system. It only has one fundamental value, exchange value, which isn't much of a value, at least not in terms of organizing society or maintaining any sort of human culture or reverence for the natural world it exists in. In capitalist society, everything, everyone, every object and sentient being, every concept and human emotion, is worth exactly what the market will bear no more, no less, than its market price. There is no other measure of value.

This looks like the "financialization" of society with Citizens morphing into Consumers.

And it's worth saying that Citizenship and Consumership are completely different concepts:

Citizenship – Dictionary.com

1. – the state of being vested with the rights, privileges, and duties of a citizen.

2. – the character of an individual viewed as a member of society;behavior in terms of the duties, obligations, and functions of a citizen:

an award for good citizenship.

The Consumer – Dictionary.com

1. a person or thing that consumes.

2. Economics. a person or organization that uses a commodity or service.

A good citizen can then define themselves in a rather non-selfish, non-financial way as for example, someone who respects others, contributes to local decisions (politically active), gains respect through work and ethical standards etc.

A good consumer on the other hand, seems to be more a self-idea, essentially someone who buys and consumes a lot (financial idea), has little political interest – and probably defines themselves (and others) by how they spend money and what they own.

It's clear that US, and global capitalism, prefers active consumers over active citizens, and maybe it explains why the US has such a worthless and dysfunctional political process.

jacques sheete , October 25, 2017 at 2:21 pm GMT

It was all about connecting the dots really.

Some folks are completely unable to connect the dots even when spoon fed the evidence. You'll note that some, in risible displays of quasi-intellectual arrogance, make virtually impossible demands for proof, none of which they'll ever accept. Rather, they flock to self aggrandizing mythology like flies to fresh sewage which the plutoligarchy produces nearly infinitely.

Your observations appear pretty accurate and self justifying I'd say.

daniel le mouche , October 25, 2017 at 2:23 pm GMT
@Wizard of Oz

I can, Wiz.

Look up the film director Aaron Russo (recently deceased), discussing how David Rockefeller tried to bring him over to the dark side. Rockefeller discussed for example the women's movement, its engineering. Also, there's Aldous Huxley's speech The Ultimate Revolution, on how drugs are the final solution to rabble troubles–we will think we're happy even in the most appalling societal conditions.

daniel le mouche , October 25, 2017 at 2:49 pm GMT
@jilles dykstra

I can only say Beware of Zinn, best friend of Chomsky, endlessly tauted by shysters like Amy Goodman and Counterpunch. Like all liberal gatekeepers, he wouldn't touch 911. I saw him speak not long before he died, and when questioned on this he said, 'That was a long time ago, let's talk about now.'

This from a professed historian, and it was only 7 years after 911. He seemed to have the same old Jewish agenda, make Europeans look really bad at all times. He was always on message, like the shyster Chomsky. Sincerely probing for the truth was not part of his agenda; his truths were highly selective, and such a colossal event as 911 concerned him not at all, with the ensuing wars, Patriot Acts, bullshit war on Terror, etc etc

joe webb , October 25, 2017 at 4:17 pm GMT
Say what???

" capitalism has no interest in racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, or any other despotic values (though it has no problem working with these values when they serve its broader strategic purposes). Capitalism is an economic system, which we have elevated to a social system."

This is a typical Left Lie. Capitalism in its present internationalist phase absolutely requires Anti-Racism to lubricate sales uh, internationally and domestically. We are all Equal.

Then, the ticking-off of the rest of the bad isms, and labeling them 'despotic' is another Leftwing and poetic attack on more or less all of us white folks, who have largely invented Capitalism, from a racialist point of view.

"Poetic" because it is an emotional appeal, not a rational argument. The other 'despotisms' are not despotic, unless you claim, like I do that racial personalities are more, or less despotic, with Whites being the least despotic. The Left totalitarian thinks emotional despotism's source is political or statist. It are not. However, Capitalism has been far less despotic than communism, etc.

Emotional Despotism is part of who Homo Sapiens is, and this emotional despotism is not racially equal. Whites are the least despotic, and have organized law and rules to contain such despotism.

Systems arise naturally from the Human Condition, like it or not. The attempt here is to sully the Capitalist system, and that is all it is. This article itself is despotic propaganda.

Arguably, human nature is despotic, and White civilization has attempted to limit our despotic nature.

This is another story.

As for elevating capitalism into a 'social system' .this is somewhat true. However, that is not totally bad, as capitalism delivers the goods, which is the first thing, after getting out of bed.

The second thing, is having a conformable social environment, and that is where racial accord enters.

People want familiar and trustworthy people around them and that is just the way human nature is genetic similarity, etc.

Beyond that, the various Leftie complaints-without-end, are also just the way it is. And yes they can be addressed and ameliorated to some degree, but human nature is not a System to be manipulated, even thought the current crop of scientistic lefties talk a good storyline about epigenetics and other Hopes, false of course, like communist planning which makes its first priority, Social Change which is always despotic. Society takes care of itself, especially racial society.

As Senator Vail said about the 1924 Immigration Act which held the line against Immigration, "if there is going to be any changing being done, we will do it and nobody else." That 'we' was a White we.

Capitalism must be national. International capital is tyranny.

Joe Webb

Wally , Website October 25, 2017 at 4:24 pm GMT
@jacques sheete

Bingo.

Some agendas require the "state sponsored" part to be hidden.

Wally , Website October 25, 2017 at 4:30 pm GMT
@Malla

"How Big Oil Conquered the World"?

That's called 'taking the bait.'

US oil companies make about five cents off a single gallon of gasoline, on the other hand US Big Government taxes on a single gallon are around seventy-one cents for US states & rising, the tax is now $1.00 per gallon for CA.

IOW, greedy US governments make fourteen to twenty times what oil companies make, and it is the oil companies who make & deliver the vital product to the marketplace.

And that is just in the US. Have a look at Europe's taxes. My, my.

It's Big Government, not Big Oil.

jacques sheete , October 25, 2017 at 5:12 pm GMT
@Wally

Some agendas require the "state sponsored" part to be hidden.

That is part of the reason why the constitutional convention was held in secret as well.

The cunning connivers who ram government down our throats don't like their designs exposed, and it's an old trick which nearly always works.

Here's Aristophanes on the subject. His play is worth a read. Short and great satire on the politicians of the day.

SAUSAGE-SELLER

No, Cleon, little you care for his reigning in Arcadia, it's to pillage and impose on the allies at will that you reckon; y ou wish the war to conceal your rogueries as in a mist, that Demos may see nothing of them, and harassed by cares, may only depend on yourself for his bread. But if ever peace is restored to him, if ever he returns to his lands to comfort himself once more with good cakes, to greet his cherished olives, he will know the blessings you have kept him out of, even though paying him a salary; and, filled with hatred and rage, he will rise, burning with desire to vote against you. You know this only too well; it is for this you rock him to sleep with your lies.

- Aristophanes, The Knights, 424 BC

http://classics.mit.edu/Aristophanes/knights.html

jilles dykstra , October 25, 2017 at 5:18 pm GMT
@daniel le mouche

The first loyalty of jews is supposed to be to jews.

Norman Finkelstein is called a traitor by jews, the Dutch jew Hamburger is called a traitor by Dutch jews, he's the chairman of 'Een ander joodse geluid', best translated by 'another jewish opinion', the organisation criticises Israel.

Jewish involvement in Sept 11 seems probable, the 'dancing Israelis', the assertion that most jews working in the Twin Towers at the time were either sick or took a day off, the fact that the Towers were jewish property, ready for a costly demolition, much abestos in the buildings, thus the 'terrorist' act brought a great profit.

Can one expect a jew to expose things like this ?

On his book, I did not find inconsistencies with literature I already knew.

The merit of the book is listing many events that affected common people in the USA, and destroying the myth that 'in the USA who is poor has only himself to blame'.

This nonsense becomes clear even from the diaries of Harold L Ickes, or from Jonathan Raban Bad Land, 1997.

As for Zinn's criticism of the adored USA constitution, I read that Charles A Beard already in 1919 resigned because he also criticised this constitution.

jilles dykstra , October 25, 2017 at 5:20 pm GMT
@Wally

Indeed, in our countries about half the national income goes to the governments by taxes, this is the reason a country like Denmark is the best country to live in.

[Oct 16, 2017] The Limits of Neoliberalism Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition by William Davies

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Faced with this mess, the obituarists for neoliberalism are out again. Some I recognise from 2008 - the definition of a left-wing economist being one who has spotted ten out of the last two crises of capitalism. Others have joined them, perhaps spurred on by the Brexit vote, or the rise of Donald Trump or the nice-sounding promises made by Theresa May. ..."
"... This is where, I think, we need to pay close attention to a key dimension of neoliberalism, which I focus on at length in this book, namely competition. One of my central arguments here is that neoliberalism is not simply reducible to 'market fundamentalism', even if there are areas (such as financial markets) where markets have manifestly attained greater reach and power since the mid1970s. Instead, the neoliberal state takes the principle of competition and the ethos of competitiveness (which historically have been found in and around markets), and seeks to reorganise society around them. Quite how competition and competitiveness are defined and politically instituted is a matter for historical and theoretical exploration, which is partly what The Limits of Neoliberalism seeks to do. But at the bare minimum, organising social relations in terms of competition' means that individuals, organisations, cities, regions and nations are to be tested in terms of their capacity to out-do each other. Not only that, but the tests must be considered fair in some way, if the resulting inequalities are to be recognised as legitimate. When applied to individuals, this ideology is often known as 'meritocracy'. ..."
"... Under these neoliberal conditions, remorse becomes directed inwards, producing the depressive psychological effect (or what Freud termed 'melancholia') whereby people search inside themselves for the source of their own unhappiness and imperfect lives (Davies, 2015). Viewed from within the cultural logic of neoliberalism, uncompetitive regions, individuals or communities are not just 'left behind by globalisation', but are discovered to be inferior in comparison to their rivals, just like the contestants ejected from a talent show. Rising household indebtedness compounds this process for those living in financial precarity, by forcing individuals to pay for their own past errors, illness or sheer bad luck ..."
"... Hardship itself doesn't necessarily lead to the hopelessness and fury of which Donald Trump seemingly speaks. But when hardship feels both permanent and undeserved, the psychological appeal of demagogues promising to divert blame elsewhere, be it towards Muslims, 'experts', immigrants, the Chinese, Brussels or wherever, becomes irresistible. Seemingly irrational or even nihilistic popular upheavals make some sense, if understood in terms of the relief they offer for those who have felt trapped by their own impotence for too long, with nobody available to blame but themselves. ..."
"... Statistical studies have shown how societies such as Britain and the United States have become afflicted by often inexplicable rising mortality rates amongst the white working class, connected partly to rising suicide rates, alcohol and drug abuse (Dorling, 2016). The Washington Post identified close geographic correlations between this trend and support for Donald Trump (Guo, 2016). In sum, a moral-economic system aimed at identifying and empowering the most competitive people, institutions and places has become targeted, rationally or otherwise, by the vast number of people, institutions and places that have suffered not only the pain of defeat but the punishment of defeat for far too long. ..."
"... The re-emergence of national borders as obstacles to the flow r of goods, finance, services and above all people, represents at least an interruption in the vision of globalisation that accompanied the heyday of neoliberal policy making between 1989-2008. If events such as Brexit signal the first step towards greater national mercantilism and protectionism, then we may be witnessing far more profound transformations in our model of political economy, the consequences of which could become very ugly. ..."
"... Once governments (and publics) no longer view economics as the best test of optimal policies, then opportunities for post-liberal experimentation expand rapidly, with unpredictable and potentially frightening consequences. It was telling that, when the British Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, suggested in October 2016 that companies be compelled to publicly list their foreign workers, she defended this policy as a 'nudge'. ..."
"... The Limits of Neolibcralism is a piece of interpretive sociology. It starts from the recognition that neoliberalism rests on claims to legitimacy, which it is possible to imagine as valid, even for critics of this system. Inspired by Luc Boltanski, the book assumes that political-economic systems typically need to offer certain limited forms of hope, excitement and fairness in order to survive, and cannot operate via domination and exploitation alone. ..."
"... The attempt to reduce all of human life to economic calculation runs up against limits. A political rationality that fails to recognise politics as a distinctive sphere of human existence was always going to be dumbfounded, once that sphere took on its own extra-economic life. As Bob Dylan sang to Mr Jones, so one might now say to neoliberal intellectuals or technocrats: 'something is happening here, but you don't know what it is'. ..."
Oct 16, 2017 | www.amazon.com

Foreword

... ... ...

The crash has sharpened the central contradiction in neoliberal economics: it has become purely a system that rewards dead money even while it fails to create new money. No ideology can survive unless it has something to offer the young and the almost young. You cant keep winning elections if you cant promise reasonable jobs, wage rises, affordable groceries and housing. Put another way, you can have neoliberalism but you cant have democratic validity.

This is the contradiction over which mainstream politicians wedded to neoliberalism - both left and Right - keep stumbling. Where they can, they rely on the old tricks to get by: operating party machinery, access to big money funders, consulting the manual of TV presentability. But the formula isn't reliable, as the New Labour generation can tell you. And where it can deliver majorities it doesn't confer legitimacy, as David Cameron and Hilary Clinton now know.

Faced with this mess, the obituarists for neoliberalism are out again. Some I recognise from 2008 - the definition of a left-wing economist being one who has spotted ten out of the last two crises of capitalism. Others have joined them, perhaps spurred on by the Brexit vote, or the rise of Donald Trump or the nice-sounding promises made by Theresa May.

I understand the thinking and I certainly get the thinking. But to imagine that an ideology that has ruled Britain for longer than Yugoslavia was communist will now just fall apart is sheer fantasy. It is to mistake word for deed, symbolism for policy. In Brexit Britain, not much has changed yet except for rhetoric. The Treasury continues with its austerity programme; the government presses on with its privatisations of whatever is left in public hands, from social housing to the Green Investment Bank; the establishment still hankers after those grand free-trade deals such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). True, there is more talk now about those 'left behind' by globalization, but the very phrasing gives away how shallow the concern is - this is your fault for not keeping up.

Besides, politics is never a simple test of logic. Winning or exercising power is not a chess game. As Will Davies points out in this book, neoliberalism began as, and largely remains, an elite project. What four decades of neoliberalism in practice have achieved is the bulldozing of many sites of dissent. To see what I mean, visit any of the places in Britain that have done worst out of it - from the North East to South Wales. The regional business elites have nearly all died or fled to London. The trade unions are a shadow of their former selves, as are the fierce tenants' associations. The universities are now largely anodyne. The local newspapers are typically mere repositories of agency copy and local advertisements, while the regional BBC studios have either shrunk or consolidated elsewhere. Without such civic institutions there is no hope of building an alternative.

The answer to neoliberalism isn't another ideology. It certainly isn't a Mont Pelerin Society of the Left, which would surely be as ghastly as it sounds. No, the answer is democracy. Without that, we will continue with the same bankrupt ideology -- expecting failure, and not being surprised or even angry' any more when it comes.

Adilya Chakrabortty

Senior Economics Commentator, The Guardian

Introduction

When exploring paradigm shifts in political economy, maybe it makes more sense to identify how protracted crises were book-ended historically than to seek specific turning points. Consider the crisis of Keynesianism, which provided the opening for the neoliberal take-over and overhaul of economic policy, including those Thatcher and Reagan victories. 1968 was a critical year, not only for the civic unrest that swept the world, but also for the early signs that the US economy would be unable to sustain its role in the global financial system on which Keynesian domestic policies depended. A slow-down in US productivity growth that year, combined with the fiscal costs of an escalation of the Vietnam war, meant that the dollar started to come under increased strain. The 'Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates, with the dollar (convertible to gold) at its centre, struggled on for another five years, before being abandoned under Richard Nixon.

It was a further three years before the final death-knell of Keynesianism was sounded, most loudly in Britain. In 1976, Britain's Labour government had to turn to the IMF for a loan, and agreed to adopt a new monetarist, neoliberal strategy for restoring the public finances. That September, Jim Callaghan, the leader of the Labour Party, famously addressed his party conference with the words:

... ... ...

In one sense, the 'book-ends' of this recent crisis are the inverse of the ones that killed Keynesianism. 1968 was a year of political and civic uprisings, under circumstances of rising prosperity and a still relatively coherent paradigm for economic policy making, albeit one that was showing early signs of deterioration. It was a public and political crisis, which posed a threat to a society of rising prosperity and falling inequality. The technical failings of Keynesianism only really emerged subsequently, before snowballing to the point where the macroeconomic paradigm could simply not be sustained any longer.

The crisis of neoliberalism has reversed this ordering. 2008 was an implosion of technical capabilities on the part of banks and financial regulators, which was largely unaccompanied by any major political or civic eruption, at least until the consequences were felt in terms of public sector cuts that accelerated after 2010, especially in Southern Europe. The economic crisis was spookily isolated from any accompanying political crisis, at least in the beginning. The eruptions of 2016 therefore represented the long-awaited politicisation and publicisation of a crisis that, until then, had been largely dealt with by the same cadre of experts whose errors had caused it in the first place.

Faced with these largely unexpected events and the threat of more, politicians and media pundits have declared that we now need to listen to those people 'left behind by globalisation. Following the Brexit referendum, in her first speech as Prime Minister, Theresa May made a vow to the less prosperous members of society, 'we will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives. When we take the big calls, we'll think not of the powerful, but you.' This awakening to the demands and voices of marginalised demographics may represent a new recognition that economic policy cannot be wholly geared around the pursuit of 'national competitiveness' in the global race', a pursuit that in practice meant seeking to prioritise the interests of financial services and mobile capital. It signals mainstream political acceptance that inequality cannot keep rising forever. But it is still rooted in a somewhat economistic vision of politics, as if those people 'left behind by globalisation' simply want more material wealth and 'opportunity', plus fewer immigrants competing for jobs. What this doesn't do is engage with the distinctive political and cultural sociology of events such as Brexit and Trump, which are fuelled by a spirit of rage, punishment and self-punishment, and not simply by a desire to get a slightly larger slice of the pie.

This is where, I think, we need to pay close attention to a key dimension of neoliberalism, which I focus on at length in this book, namely competition. One of my central arguments here is that neoliberalism is not simply reducible to 'market fundamentalism', even if there are areas (such as financial markets) where markets have manifestly attained greater reach and power since the mid1970s. Instead, the neoliberal state takes the principle of competition and the ethos of competitiveness (which historically have been found in and around markets), and seeks to reorganise society around them. Quite how competition and competitiveness are defined and politically instituted is a matter for historical and theoretical exploration, which is partly what The Limits of Neoliberalism seeks to do. But at the bare minimum, organising social relations in terms of competition' means that individuals, organisations, cities, regions and nations are to be tested in terms of their capacity to out-do each other. Not only that, but the tests must be considered fair in some way, if the resulting inequalities are to be recognised as legitimate. When applied to individuals, this ideology is often known as 'meritocracy'.

The appeal of this as a political template for society is that, according to its advocates, it involves the discovery of brilliant ideas, more efficient business models, naturally talented individuals, new urban visions, successful national strategies, potent entrepreneurs and so on. Even if this is correct (and the work of Thomas Piketty on how wealth begets wealth is enough to cast considerable doubt on it) there is a major defect: it consigns the majority of people, places, businesses and institutions to the status of'losers'. The normative and existential conventions of a neoliberal society stipulate that success and prowess are things that are earned through desire, effort and innate ability, so long as social and economic institutions are designed in such a way as to facilitate this. But the corollary of this is that failure and weakness are also earned: when individuals and communities fail to succeed, this is a reflection of inadequate talent or energy on their part.

This has been critically noted in how 'dependency' and 'welfare' have become matters of shame since the conservative political ascendency of the 1980s. But this is just one example of how a culture of obligatory competitiveness exerts a damaging moral psychology, not only in how people look down on others, but in how they look down on themselves. A culture which valorises 'winning' and 'competitiveness' above all else provides few sources of security or comfort, even to those doing reasonably well. Everyone could be doing better, and if they're not, they have themselves to blame. The vision of society as a competitive game also suggests that anyone could very quickly be doing worse.

Under these neoliberal conditions, remorse becomes directed inwards, producing the depressive psychological effect (or what Freud termed 'melancholia') whereby people search inside themselves for the source of their own unhappiness and imperfect lives (Davies, 2015). Viewed from within the cultural logic of neoliberalism, uncompetitive regions, individuals or communities are not just 'left behind by globalisation', but are discovered to be inferior in comparison to their rivals, just like the contestants ejected from a talent show. Rising household indebtedness compounds this process for those living in financial precarity, by forcing individuals to pay for their own past errors, illness or sheer bad luck (Davies, Montgomerie 8t Wallin, 2015).

In order to understand political upheavals such as Brexit, we need to perform some sociological interpretation. We need to consider that our socio-economic pathologies do not simply consist in the fact that opportunity and wealth are hoarded by certain industries (such as finance) or locales (such as London) or individuals (such as the children of the wealthy), although all of these things are true. We need also to reflect on the cultural and psychological implications of how this hoarding has been represented and justified over the past four decades, namely that it reflects something about the underlying moral worth of different populations and individuals.

Hardship itself doesn't necessarily lead to the hopelessness and fury of which Donald Trump seemingly speaks. But when hardship feels both permanent and undeserved, the psychological appeal of demagogues promising to divert blame elsewhere, be it towards Muslims, 'experts', immigrants, the Chinese, Brussels or wherever, becomes irresistible. Seemingly irrational or even nihilistic popular upheavals make some sense, if understood in terms of the relief they offer for those who have felt trapped by their own impotence for too long, with nobody available to blame but themselves.

One psychological effect of this is authoritarian attitudes towards social deviance: Brexit and Trump supporters both have an above-average tendency to support the death penalty, combined with a belief that political authorities are too weak to enforce justice (Kaufman, 2016). However, it is also clear that psychological and physical pain have become far more widespread in neoliberal societies than has been noticed by most people. Statistical studies have shown how societies such as Britain and the United States have become afflicted by often inexplicable rising mortality rates amongst the white working class, connected partly to rising suicide rates, alcohol and drug abuse (Dorling, 2016). The Washington Post identified close geographic correlations between this trend and support for Donald Trump (Guo, 2016). In sum, a moral-economic system aimed at identifying and empowering the most competitive people, institutions and places has become targeted, rationally or otherwise, by the vast number of people, institutions and places that have suffered not only the pain of defeat but the punishment of defeat for far too long.

NEOLIBERALISM: DEAD OR ALIVE?

The question inevitably arises, is this thing called 'neoliberalism' now over? And if not, when might it be and how would w r e know? In the UK, the prospect of Brexit combined with the political priority of reducing immigration means that the efficient movement of capital (together with that of labour) is being consciously impeded in a w r ay that would have been unthinkable during the 1990s and early 2000s. The re-emergence of national borders as obstacles to the flow r of goods, finance, services and above all people, represents at least an interruption in the vision of globalisation that accompanied the heyday of neoliberal policy making between 1989-2008. If events such as Brexit signal the first step towards greater national mercantilism and protectionism, then we may be witnessing far more profound transformations in our model of political economy, the consequences of which could become very ugly.

Before we reach that point, it is already possible to identify a reorientation of national economic policy making away from some core tenets of neoliberal doctrine. One of the main case studies of this book is antitrust law and policy, which has been a preoccupation for neoliberal intellectuals, reformers and lawyers ever since the 1930s. The rise of the Chicago School view of competition (which effectively granted far greater legal rights to monopolists, while also being tougher on cartels) in the American legal establishment from the 1970s onwards, later repeated in the European Commission, meant that market regulation became a more expert, esoteric and ostensibly non-political means of power. One of the ideals of neoliberal scholars, both in the Austrian tradition of Friedrich Hayek and the Chicago School of Milton Friedman, was that the economic 'rules of the game' be established beyond the reach of democratic politics, where they might be manipulated to suit particular short-sighted intellectual, social or political agendas. Independent central banks are one of the more prominent examples of this, but the establishment of rational, apolitical and European-wide antitrust and state aid rules would be another.

As I explore in Chapter 5, the banking crisis caused some immediate damage to this vision of apolitical, permanent rules of competitive economic activity. The need to rescue the financial system at all costs saw EU state aid rules being overlooked, at least for a few months, suggesting that neoliberalism entered a state of'exception where the state took rapid executive decisions, wherever they were deemed necessary. Takeover rules were suspended to allow banks to buy failing competitors, again on the basis that this was necessary to secure the existential viability of the economy as such. But as is common in the state of 'exception, this was all done to preserve the status quo on the basis that an emergency had struck. It wasn't done with the aim of transforming the economic paradigm.

While anti-trust and state aid are only one small area of European Commission powers, they are symbolically very important. Competition regulations represent the normative ideal of the marketplace, which - in the case of post-war Europe - is imagined as an international, even post-national space of freedom, transcending cultural, linguistic and political differences. The liberal vision of cosmopolitan Europe becomes realised in economic institutions such as the single currency, but also the rules that govern market competitors. For these reasons, Britain's post-Brexit opportunity to withdraw from European anti-trust and state-aid regulations is symbolic of the new post-liberal or post-neoliberal era that is emerging. Already, Theresa May has used her first few speeches as UK Prime Minister to push for a more interventionist state, that seeks to shape economic outcomes around national, political and social priorities (a reduction of immigration above all else) no doubt mindful of the fact that the British state will soon have far more discretion to do this, once it is no longer bound by state aid rules.

At the time of writing, the odds are against Trump becoming President of the United States, though one lesson of 2016 is not to be too confident regarding political odds. This means that the prospect of the United States abandoning its

... ... ...

The rise of behavioural economics, for example, represents an attempt to preserve a form of market rationality in the face of crisis, by incorporating expertise provided by psychologists and neuroscientists. A form of 'neo-communitarianism' emerges, which takes seriously the role of relationships, environmental conditioning and empathy in the construction of independent, responsible subjects. This remains an economists logic, inasmuch as it prepares people to live efficient, productive, competitive lives. But by bringing culture, community and contingency within the bounds of neoliberal rationality, one might see things like behavioural economics or 'social neuroscience and so on as early symptoms of a genuinely post-liberal politics. Once governments (and publics) no longer view economics as the best test of optimal policies, then opportunities for post-liberal experimentation expand rapidly, with unpredictable and potentially frightening consequences. It was telling that, when the British Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, suggested in October 2016 that companies be compelled to publicly list their foreign workers, she defended this policy as a 'nudge'.

The Limits of Neolibcralism is a piece of interpretive sociology. It starts from the recognition that neoliberalism rests on claims to legitimacy, which it is possible to imagine as valid, even for critics of this system. Inspired by Luc Boltanski, the book assumes that political-economic systems typically need to offer certain limited forms of hope, excitement and fairness in order to survive, and cannot operate via domination and exploitation alone.

For similar reasons, we might soon find that we miss some of the normative and political dimensions of neoliberalism, for example the internationalism that the EU was founded to promote and the cosmopolitanism that competitive markets sometimes inculcate. There may be some elements of neoliberalism that critics and activists need to grasp, refashion and defend, rather than to simply denounce: this books Afterword offers some ideas of what this might mean. But if the book is to be read in a truly post-neoliberal world, I hope that in its interpretive aspirations, it helps to explain what was internally and normatively coherent about the political economy known as 'neoliberalism', but also why the system really had no account of its own preconditions or how to preserve them adequately.

The attempt to reduce all of human life to economic calculation runs up against limits. A political rationality that fails to recognise politics as a distinctive sphere of human existence was always going to be dumbfounded, once that sphere took on its own extra-economic life. As Bob Dylan sang to Mr Jones, so one might now say to neoliberal intellectuals or technocrats: 'something is happening here, but you don't know what it is'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can fool all people .

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

@jilles dykstra

Jilles,

I am thinking you take the article too literally.

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

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

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

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

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

Does anyone else smell a rat or two?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

DN: It goes the other way too?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Oct 08, 2017] THE CRISIS OF NEOLIBERALISM by Julie A. Wilson

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... While the Tea Party was critical of status-quo neoliberalism -- especially its cosmopolitanism and embrace of globalization and diversity, which was perfectly embodied by Obama's election and presidency -- it was not exactly anti-neoliberal. Rather, it was anti-left neoliberalism-, it represented a more authoritarian, right [wing] version of neoliberalism. ..."
"... Within the context of the 2016 election, Clinton embodied the neoliberal center that could no longer hold. Inequality. Suffering. Collapsing infrastructures. Perpetual war. Anger. Disaffected consent. ..."
"... Both Sanders and Trump were embedded in the emerging left and right responses to neoliberalism's crisis. Specifically, Sanders' energetic campaign -- which was undoubtedly enabled by the rise of the Occupy movement -- proposed a decidedly more "commongood" path. Higher wages for working people. Taxes on the rich, specifically the captains of the creditocracy. ..."
"... In other words, Trump supporters may not have explicitly voted for neoliberalism, but that's what they got. In fact, as Rottenberg argues, they got a version of right neoliberalism "on steroids" -- a mix of blatant plutocracy and authoritarianism that has many concerned about the rise of U.S. fascism. ..."
"... We can't know what would have happened had Sanders run against Trump, but we can think seriously about Trump, right and left neoliberalism, and the crisis of neoliberal hegemony. In other words, we can think about where and how we go from here. As I suggested in the previous chapter, if we want to construct a new world, we are going to have to abandon the entangled politics of both right and left neoliberalism; we have to reject the hegemonic frontiers of both disposability and marketized equality. After all, as political philosopher Nancy Fraser argues, what was rejected in the election of 2016 was progressive, left neoliberalism. ..."
"... While the rise of hyper-right neoliberalism is certainly nothing to celebrate, it does present an opportunity for breaking with neoliberal hegemony. We have to proceed, as Gary Younge reminds us, with the realization that people "have not rejected the chance of a better world. They have not yet been offered one."' ..."
Oct 08, 2017 | www.amazon.com

Quote from the book is courtesy of Amazon preview of the book Neoliberalism (Key Ideas in Media & Cultural Studies)

In Chapter 1, we traced the rise of our neoliberal conjuncture back to the crisis of liberalism during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, culminating in the Great Depression. During this period, huge transformations in capitalism proved impossible to manage with classical laissez-faire approaches. Out of this crisis, two movements emerged, both of which would eventually shape the course of the twentieth century and beyond. The first, and the one that became dominant in the aftermath of the crisis, was the conjuncture of embedded liberalism. The crisis indicated that capitalism wrecked too much damage on the lives of ordinary citizens. People (white workers and families, especially) warranted social protection from the volatilities and brutalities of capitalism. The state's public function was expanded to include the provision of a more substantive social safety net, a web of protections for people and a web of constraints on markets. The second response was the invention of neoliberalism. Deeply skeptical of the common-good principles that undergirded the emerging social welfare state, neoliberals began organizing on the ground to develop a "new" liberal govemmentality, one rooted less in laissez-faire principles and more in the generalization of competition and enterprise. They worked to envision a new society premised on a new social ontology, that is, on new truths about the state, the market, and human beings. Crucially, neoliberals also began building infrastructures and institutions for disseminating their new' knowledges and theories (i.e., the Neoliberal Thought Collective), as well as organizing politically to build mass support for new policies (i.e., working to unite anti-communists, Christian conservatives, and free marketers in common cause against the welfare state). When cracks in embedded liberalism began to surface -- which is bound to happen with any moving political equilibrium -- neoliberals were there with new stories and solutions, ready to make the world anew.

We are currently living through the crisis of neoliberalism. As I write this book, Donald Trump has recently secured the U.S. presidency, prevailing in the national election over his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. Throughout the election, I couldn't help but think back to the crisis of liberalism and the two responses that emerged. Similarly, after the Great Recession of 2008, we've saw two responses emerge to challenge our unworkable status quo, which dispossesses so many people of vital resources for individual and collective life. On the one hand, we witnessed the rise of Occupy Wall Street. While many continue to critique the movement for its lack of leadership and a coherent political vision, Occupy was connected to burgeoning movements across the globe, and our current political horizons have been undoubtedly shaped by the movement's success at repositioning class and economic inequality within our political horizon. On the other hand, we saw' the rise of the Tea Party, a right-wing response to the crisis. While the Tea Party was critical of status-quo neoliberalism -- especially its cosmopolitanism and embrace of globalization and diversity, which was perfectly embodied by Obama's election and presidency -- it was not exactly anti-neoliberal. Rather, it was anti-left neoliberalism-, it represented a more authoritarian, right [wing] version of neoliberalism.

Within the context of the 2016 election, Clinton embodied the neoliberal center that could no longer hold. Inequality. Suffering. Collapsing infrastructures. Perpetual war. Anger. Disaffected consent. There were just too many fissures and fault lines in the glossy, cosmopolitan world of left neoliberalism and marketized equality. Indeed, while Clinton ran on status-quo stories of good governance and neoliberal feminism, confident that demographics and diversity would be enough to win the election, Trump effectively tapped into the unfolding conjunctural crisis by exacerbating the cracks in the system of marketized equality, channeling political anger into his celebrity brand that had been built on saying "f*** you" to the culture of left neoliberalism (corporate diversity, political correctness, etc.) In fact, much like Clinton's challenger in the Democratic primary, Benie Sanders, Trump was a crisis candidate.

Both Sanders and Trump were embedded in the emerging left and right responses to neoliberalism's crisis. Specifically, Sanders' energetic campaign -- which was undoubtedly enabled by the rise of the Occupy movement -- proposed a decidedly more "commongood" path. Higher wages for working people. Taxes on the rich, specifically the captains of the creditocracy.

Universal health care. Free higher education. Fair trade. The repeal of Citizens United. Trump offered a different response to the crisis. Like Sanders, he railed against global trade deals like NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). However, Trump's victory was fueled by right neoliberalism's culture of cruelty. While Sanders tapped into and mobilized desires for a more egalitarian and democratic future, Trump's promise was nostalgic, making America "great again" -- putting the nation back on "top of the world," and implying a time when women were "in their place" as male property, and minorities and immigrants were controlled by the state.

Thus, what distinguished Trump's campaign from more traditional Republican campaigns was that it actively and explicitly pitted one group's equality (white men) against everyone else's (immigrants, women, Muslims, minorities, etc.). As Catherine Rottenberg suggests, Trump offered voters a choice between a multiracial society (where folks are increasingly disadvantaged and dispossessed) and white supremacy (where white people would be back on top). However, "[w]hat he neglected to state," Rottenberg writes,

is that neoliberalism flourishes in societies where the playing field is already stacked against various segments of society, and that it needs only a relatively small select group of capital-enhancing subjects, while everyone else is ultimately dispensable. 1

In other words, Trump supporters may not have explicitly voted for neoliberalism, but that's what they got. In fact, as Rottenberg argues, they got a version of right neoliberalism "on steroids" -- a mix of blatant plutocracy and authoritarianism that has many concerned about the rise of U.S. fascism.

We can't know what would have happened had Sanders run against Trump, but we can think seriously about Trump, right and left neoliberalism, and the crisis of neoliberal hegemony. In other words, we can think about where and how we go from here. As I suggested in the previous chapter, if we want to construct a new world, we are going to have to abandon the entangled politics of both right and left neoliberalism; we have to reject the hegemonic frontiers of both disposability and marketized equality. After all, as political philosopher Nancy Fraser argues, what was rejected in the election of 2016 was progressive, left neoliberalism.

While the rise of hyper-right neoliberalism is certainly nothing to celebrate, it does present an opportunity for breaking with neoliberal hegemony. We have to proceed, as Gary Younge reminds us, with the realization that people "have not rejected the chance of a better world. They have not yet been offered one."'

Mark Fisher, the author of Capitalist Realism, put it this way:

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.4

I think that, for the first time in the history of U.S. capitalism, the vast majority of people might sense the lie of liberal, capitalist democracy. They feel anxious, unfree, disaffected. Fantasies of the good life have been shattered beyond repair for most people. Trump and this hopefully brief triumph of right neoliberalism will soon lay this bare for everyone to see. Now, with Trump, it is absolutely clear: the rich rule the world; we are all disposable; this is no democracy. The question becomes: How will we show up for history? Will there be new stories, ideas, visions, and fantasies to attach to? How can we productively and meaningful intervene in the crisis of neoliberalism? How can we "tear a hole in the grey curtain" and open up better worlds? How can we put what we've learned to use and begin to imagine and build a world beyond living in competition? I hope our critical journey through the neoliberal conjuncture has enabled you to begin to answer these questions.

More specifically, in recent decades, especially since the end of the Cold War, our common-good sensibilities have been channeled into neoliberal platforms for social change and privatized action, funneling our political energies into brand culture and marketized struggles for equality (e.g., charter schools, NGOs and non-profits, neoliberal antiracism and feminism). As a result, despite our collective anger and disaffected consent, we find ourselves stuck in capitalist realism with no real alternative. Like the neoliberal care of the self, we are trapped in a privatized mode of politics that relies on cruel optimism; we are attached, it seems, to politics that inspire and motivate us to action, while keeping us living in competition.

To disrupt the game, we need to construct common political horizons against neoliberal hegemony. We need to use our common stories and common reason to build common movements against precarity -- for within neoliberalism, precarity is what ultimately has the potential to thread all of our lives together. Put differently, the ultimate fault line in the neoliberal conjiuicture is the way it subjects us all to precarity and the biopolitics of disposability, thereby creating conditions of possibility for new coalitions across race, gender, citizenship, sexuality, and class. Recognizing this potential for coalition in the face of precarization is the most pressing task facing those who are yearning for a new world. The question is: How do we get there? How do we realize these coalitional potentialities and materialize common horizons?

HOW WE GET THERE

Ultimately, mapping the neoliberal conjuncture through everyday life in enterprise culture has not only provided some direction in terms of what we need; it has also cultivated concrete and practical intellectual resources for political interv ention and social interconnection -- a critical toolbox for living in common. More specifically, this book has sought to provide resources for thinking and acting against the four Ds: resources for engaging in counter-conduct, modes of living that refuse, on one hand, to conduct one's life according to the norm of enterprise, and on the other, to relate to others through the norm of competition. Indeed, we need new ways of relating, interacting, and living as friends, lovers, workers, vulnerable bodies, and democratic people if we are to write new stories, invent new govemmentalities, and build coalitions for new worlds.

Against Disimagination: Educated Hope and Affirmative Speculation

We need to stop turning inward, retreating into ourselves, and taking personal responsibility for our lives (a task which is ultimately impossible). Enough with the disimagination machine! Let's start looking outward, not inward -- to the broader structures that undergird our lives. Of course, we need to take care of ourselves; we must survive. But I firmly believe that we can do this in ways both big and small, that transform neoliberal culture and its status-quo stories.

Here's the thing I tell my students all the time. You cannot escape neoliberalism. It is the air we breathe, the water in which we swim. No job, practice of social activism, program of self-care, or relationship will be totally free from neoliberal impingements and logics. There is no pure "outside" to get to or work from -- that's just the nature of the neoliberalism's totalizing cultural power. But let's not forget that neoliberalism's totalizing cultural power is also a source of weakness. Potential for resistance is everywhere, scattered throughout our everyday lives in enterprise culture. Our critical toolbox can help us identify these potentialities and navigate and engage our conjuncture in ways that tear open up those new worlds we desire.

In other words, our critical perspective can help us move through the world with what Henry Giroux calls educated hope. Educated hope means holding in tension the material realities of power and the contingency of history. This orientation of educated hope knows very well what we're up against. However, in the face of seemingly totalizing power, it also knows that neoliberalism can never become total because the future is open. Educated hope is what allows us to see the fault lines, fissures, and potentialities of the present and emboldens us to think and work from that sliver of social space where we do have political agency and freedom to construct a new world. Educated hope is what undoes the power of capitalist realism. It enables affirmative speculation (such as discussed in Chapter 5), which does not try to hold the future to neoliberal horizons (that's cruel optimism!), but instead to affirm our commonalities and the potentialities for the new worlds they signal. Affirmative speculation demands a different sort of risk calculation and management. It senses how little we have to lose and how much we have to gain from knocking the hustle of our lives.

Against De-democratization: Organizing and Collective Coverning

We can think of educated hope and affirmative speculation as practices of what Wendy Brown calls "bare democracy" -- the basic idea that ordinary' people like you and me should govern our lives in common, that we should critique and try to change our world, especially the exploitative and oppressive structures of power that maintain social hierarchies and diminish lives. Neoliberal culture works to stomp out capacities for bare democracy by transforming democratic desires and feelings into meritocratic desires and feelings. In neoliberal culture, utopian sensibilities are directed away from the promise of collective utopian sensibilities are directed away from the promise of collective governing to competing for equality.

We have to get back that democractic feeling! As Jeremy Gilbert taught us, disaffected consent is a post-democratic orientation. We don't like our world, but we don't think we can do anything about it. So, how do we get back that democratic feeling? How do we transform our disaffected consent into something new? As I suggested in the last chapter, we organize. Organizing is simply about people coming together around a common horizon and working collectively to materialize it. In this way, organizing is based on the idea of radical democracy, not liberal democracy. While the latter is based on formal and abstract rights guaranteed by the state, radical democracy insists that people should directly make the decisions that impact their lives, security, and well-being. Radical democracy is a practice of collective governing: it is about us hashing out, together in communities, what matters, and working in common to build a world based on these new sensibilities.

The work of organizing is messy, often unsatisfying, and sometimes even scary. Organizing based on affirmative speculation and coalition-building, furthermore, will have to be experimental and uncertain. As Lauren Berlant suggests, it means "embracing the discomfort of affective experience in a truly open social life that no

one has ever experienced." Organizing through and for the common "requires more adaptable infrastructures. Keep forcing the existing infrastructures to do what they don't know how to do. Make new ways to be local together, where local doesn't require a physical neighborhood." 5 What Berlant is saying is that the work of bare democracy requires unlearning, and detaching from, our current stories and infrastructures in order to see and make things work differently. Organizing for a new world is not easy -- and there are no guarantees -- but it is the only way out of capitalist realism.

Against Disposability: Radical Equality

Getting back democratic feeling will at once require and help us lo move beyond the biopolitics of disposability and entrenched systems of inequality. On one hand, organizing will never be enough if it is not animated by bare democracy, a sensibility that each of us is equally important when it comes to the project of determining our lives in common. Our bodies, our hurts, our dreams, and our desires matter regardless of our race, gender, sexuality, or citizenship, and regardless of how r much capital (economic, social, or cultural) we have. Simply put, in a radical democracy, no one is disposable. This bare-democratic sense of equality must be foundational to organizing and coalition-building. Otherwise, we will always and inevitably fall back into a world of inequality.

On the other hand, organizing and collective governing will deepen and enhance our sensibilities and capacities for radical equality. In this context, the kind of self-enclosed individualism that empowers and underwrites the biopolitics of disposability melts away, as we realize the interconnectedness of our lives and just how amazing it feels to

fail, we affirm our capacities for freedom, political intervention, social interconnection, and collective social doing.

Against Dispossession: Shared Security and Common Wealth

Thinking and acting against the biopolitics of disposability goes hand-in-hand with thinking and acting against dispossession. Ultimately, when we really understand and feel ourselves in relationships of interconnection with others, we want for them as we want for ourselves. Our lives and sensibilities of what is good and just are rooted in radical equality, not possessive or self-appreciating individualism. Because we desire social security and protection, we also know others desire and deserve the same.

However, to really think and act against dispossession means not only advocating for shared security and social protection, but also for a new society that is built on the egalitarian production and distribution of social wealth that we all produce. In this sense, we can take Marx's critique of capitalism -- that wealth is produced collectively but appropriated individually -- to heart. Capitalism was built on the idea that one class -- the owners of the means of production -- could exploit and profit from the collective labors of everyone else (those who do not own and thus have to work), albeit in very different ways depending on race, gender, or citizenship. This meant that, for workers of all stripes, their lives existed not for themselves, but for others (the appropriating class), and that regardless of what we own as consumers, we are not really free or equal in that bare-democratic sense of the word.

If we want to be really free, we need to construct new material and affective social infrastructures for our common wealth. In these new infrastructures, wealth must not be reduced to economic value; it must be rooted in social value. Here, the production of wealth does not exist as a separate sphere from the reproduction of our lives. In other words, new infrastructures, based on the idea of common wealth, will not be set up to exploit our labor, dispossess our communities, or to divide our lives. Rather, they will work to provide collective social resources and care so that we may all be free to pursue happiness, create beautiful and/or useful things, and to realize our potential within a social world of living in common. Crucially, to create the conditions for these new, democratic forms of freedom rooted in radical equality, we need to find ways to refuse and exit the financial networks of Empire and the dispossessions of creditocracy, building new systems that invite everyone to participate in the ongoing production of new worlds and the sharing of the wealth that we produce in common.

It's not up to me to tell you exactly where to look, but I assure you that potentialities for these new worlds are everywhere around you.

[Oct 01, 2017] Goodbye, American neoliberalism. A new era is here by Cornel West

Notable quotes:
"... The Bush and Clinton dynasties were destroyed by the media-saturated lure of the pseudo-populist billionaire with narcissist sensibilities and ugly, fascist proclivities. The monumental election of Trump was a desperate and xenophobic cry of human hearts for a way out from under the devastation of a disintegrating neoliberal order – a nostalgic return to an imaginary past of greatness. ..."
"... This lethal fusion of economic insecurity and cultural scapegoating brought neoliberalism to its knees. In short, the abysmal failure of the Democratic party to speak to the arrested mobility and escalating poverty of working people unleashed a hate-filled populism and protectionism that threaten to tear apart the fragile fiber of what is left of US democracy. And since the most explosive fault lines in present-day America are first and foremost racial, then gender, homophobic, ethnic and religious, we gird ourselves for a frightening future. ..."
"... In this sense, Trump's election was enabled by the neoliberal policies of the Clintons and Obama that overlooked the plight of our most vulnerable citizens. The progressive populism of Bernie Sanders nearly toppled the establishment of the Democratic party but Clinton and Obama came to the rescue to preserve the status quo. And I do believe Sanders would have beat Trump to avert this neofascist outcome! ..."
"... The neoliberal era in the United States ended with a neofascist bang ..."
"... The white house and congress are now dominated by tea party politicians who worship at the altar of Ayn Rand.....read Breitbart news to see how Thatcher and Reagan are idolised. ..."
"... if you think the era of "neo liberalism" is over, you are in deep denial! ..."
"... The age of Obama was the last gasp of neoliberalism. Despite some progressive words and symbolic gestures, Obama chose to ignore Wall Street crimes, reject bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality and facilitate war crimes like US drones killing innocent civilians abroad. ..."
"... Didn't Obama say to Wall Street ''I'm the only one standing between you and the lynch mob? Give me money and I'll make it all go away''. Then came into office and went we won't prosecute the Banks not Bush for a false war because we don't look back. ..."
"... He did not ignore, he actively, willingly, knowingly protected them. At the end of the day Obama is wolf in sheep's clothing. Exactly like HRC he has a public and a private position. He is a gifted speaker who knows how to say all the right, progressive liberal things to get people to go along much better than HRC ever did. ..."
"... Even when he had the Presidency, House and Senate, he never once introduced any progressive liberal policy. He didn't need Republican support to do it, yet he never even tried. ..."
Nov 17, 2016 | www.theguardian.com

The neoliberal era in the United States ended with a neofascist bang. The political triumph of Donald Trump shattered the establishments in the Democratic and Republican parties – both wedded to the rule of Big Money and to the reign of meretricious politicians.

The Bush and Clinton dynasties were destroyed by the media-saturated lure of the pseudo-populist billionaire with narcissist sensibilities and ugly, fascist proclivities. The monumental election of Trump was a desperate and xenophobic cry of human hearts for a way out from under the devastation of a disintegrating neoliberal order – a nostalgic return to an imaginary past of greatness.

White working- and middle-class fellow citizens – out of anger and anguish – rejected the economic neglect of neoliberal policies and the self-righteous arrogance of elites. Yet these same citizens also supported a candidate who appeared to blame their social misery on minorities, and who alienated Mexican immigrants, Muslims, black people, Jews, gay people, women and China in the process.

This lethal fusion of economic insecurity and cultural scapegoating brought neoliberalism to its knees. In short, the abysmal failure of the Democratic party to speak to the arrested mobility and escalating poverty of working people unleashed a hate-filled populism and protectionism that threaten to tear apart the fragile fiber of what is left of US democracy. And since the most explosive fault lines in present-day America are first and foremost racial, then gender, homophobic, ethnic and religious, we gird ourselves for a frightening future.

What is to be done? First we must try to tell the truth and a condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak. For 40 years, neoliberals lived in a world of denial and indifference to the suffering of poor and working people and obsessed with the spectacle of success. Second we must bear witness to justice. We must ground our truth-telling in a willingness to suffer and sacrifice as we resist domination. Third we must remember courageous exemplars like Martin Luther King Jr, who provide moral and spiritual inspiration as we build multiracial alliances to combat poverty and xenophobia, Wall Street crimes and war crimes, global warming and police abuse – and to protect precious rights and liberties.

Feminists misunderstood the presidential election from day one Liza Featherstone By banking on the idea that women would support Hillary Clinton just because she was a female candidate, the movement made a terrible mistake Read more

The age of Obama was the last gasp of neoliberalism. Despite some progressive words and symbolic gestures, Obama chose to ignore Wall Street crimes, reject bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality and facilitate war crimes like US drones killing innocent civilians abroad.

Rightwing attacks on Obama – and Trump-inspired racist hatred of him – have made it nearly impossible to hear the progressive critiques of Obama. The president has been reluctant to target black suffering – be it in overcrowded prisons, decrepit schools or declining workplaces. Yet, despite that, we get celebrations of the neoliberal status quo couched in racial symbolism and personal legacy. Meanwhile, poor and working class citizens of all colors have continued to suffer in relative silence.

In this sense, Trump's election was enabled by the neoliberal policies of the Clintons and Obama that overlooked the plight of our most vulnerable citizens. The progressive populism of Bernie Sanders nearly toppled the establishment of the Democratic party but Clinton and Obama came to the rescue to preserve the status quo. And I do believe Sanders would have beat Trump to avert this neofascist outcome!

Click and elect: how fake news helped Donald Trump win a real election Hannah Jane Parkinson The 'alt-right' (aka the far right) ensnared the electorate using false stories on social media. But tech companies seem unwilling to admit there's a problem

In this bleak moment, we must inspire each other driven by a democratic soulcraft of integrity, courage, empathy and a mature sense of history – even as it seems our democracy is slipping away.

We must not turn away from the forgotten people of US foreign policy – such as Palestinians under Israeli occupation, Yemen's civilians killed by US-sponsored Saudi troops or Africans subject to expanding US military presence.

As one whose great family and people survived and thrived through slavery, Jim Crow and lynching, Trump's neofascist rhetoric and predictable authoritarian reign is just another ugly moment that calls forth the best of who we are and what we can do.

For us in these times, to even have hope is too abstract, too detached, too spectatorial. Instead we must be a hope, a participant and a force for good as we face this catastrophe.

theomatica -> MSP1984 17 Nov 2016 6:40

To be replaced by a form of capitalism that is constrained by national interests. An ideology that wishes to uses the forces of capitalism within a market limited only by national boundaries which aims for more self sufficiency only importing goods the nation can not itself source.

farga 17 Nov 2016 6:35

The neoliberal era in the United States ended with a neofascist bang.

Really? The white house and congress are now dominated by tea party politicians who worship at the altar of Ayn Rand.....read Breitbart news to see how Thatcher and Reagan are idolised.

That in recent decades middle ground politicians have strayed from the true faith....and now its time to go back - popular capitalism, small government, low taxes.

if you think the era of "neo liberalism" is over, you are in deep denial!

Social36 -> farga 17 Nov 2016 8:33

Maybe, West should have written that we're now in neoliberal, neofascist era!

ForSparta -> farga 17 Nov 2016 14:24

Well in all fairness, Donald Trump (horse's ass) did say he'd 'pump' money into the middle classes thus abandoning 'trickle down'. His plan/ideology is also to increase corporate tax revenues overall by reducing the level of corporation tax -- the aim being to entice corporations to repatriate wealth currently held overseas. Plus he has proposed an infrastructure spending spree, a fiscal stimulus not a monetary one. When you add in tax cuts the middle classes will feel flushed and it is within that demographic that most businesses and hence jobs are created. I think his short game has every chance of doing what he said it would.

SeeNOevilHearNOevil 17 Nov 2016 6:36

The age of Obama was the last gasp of neoliberalism. Despite some progressive words and symbolic gestures, Obama chose to ignore Wall Street crimes, reject bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality and facilitate war crimes like US drones killing innocent civilians abroad.

Didn't Obama say to Wall Street ''I'm the only one standing between you and the lynch mob? Give me money and I'll make it all go away''. Then came into office and went we won't prosecute the Banks not Bush for a false war because we don't look back.

He did not ignore, he actively, willingly, knowingly protected them. At the end of the day Obama is wolf in sheep's clothing. Exactly like HRC he has a public and a private position. He is a gifted speaker who knows how to say all the right, progressive liberal things to get people to go along much better than HRC ever did.

But that lip service is where his progressive views begin and stop. It's the very reason none of his promises never translated into actions and I will argue that he was the biggest and smoothest scam artist to enter the white house who got even though that wholly opposed centre-right policies, to flip and support them vehemently. Even when he had the Presidency, House and Senate, he never once introduced any progressive liberal policy. He didn't need Republican support to do it, yet he never even tried.

ProbablyOnTopic 17 Nov 2016 6:37

I agree with some of this, but do we really have to throw around hysterical terms like 'fascist' at every opportunity? It's as bad as when people call the left 'cultural Marxists'.

LithophaneFurcifera -> ProbablyOnTopic 17 Nov 2016 7:05

True, it's sloganeering that drowns out any nuance, whoever does it. Whenever a political term is coined, you can be assured that its use and meaning will eventually be extended to the point that it becomes less effective at characterising the very groups that it was coined to characterise.

Keep "fascist" for Mussolini and "cultural Marxist" for Adorno, unless and until others show such strong resemblances that the link can't seriously be denied.

I agree about the importance of recognising the suffering of the poor and building alliances beyond, and not primarily defined by, race though.

l0Ho5LG4wWcFJsKg 17 Nov 2016 6:40
Hang about Trump is the embodiment of neo-liberalism. It's neo-liberalism with republican tea party in control. He's not going to smash the system that served him so well, the years he manipulated and cheated, why would he want to change it.
garrylee -> l0Ho5LG4wWcFJsKg 17 Nov 2016 9:38
West's point is that it's beyond Trump's control. The scales have fallen from peoples eyes. They now see the deceit of neo-liberalism. And once they see through the charlatan Trump and the rest of the fascists, they will, hopefully, come to realize the only antidote to neo-liberalism is a planned economy.

Nash25 17 Nov 2016 6:40

This excellent analysis by professor West places the current political situation in a proper historical context.

However, I fear that neo-liberalism may not be quite "dead" as he argues.

Most of the Democratic party's "establishment" politicians, who conspired to sabotage the populist Sanders's campaign, still dominate the party, and they, in turn, are controlled by the giant corporations who fund their campaigns.

Democrat Chuck Schumer is now the Senate minority leader, and he is the loyal servant of the big Wall Street investment banks.

Sanders and Warren are the only two Democratic leaders who are not neo-liberals, and I fear that they will once again be marginalized.

Rank and file Democrats must organize at the local and state level to remove these corrupt neo-liberals from all party leadership positions. This will take many years, and it will be very difficult.


VenetianBlind 17 Nov 2016 6:42

Not sure Neo-Liberalism has ended. All they have done is get rid of the middle man.

macfeegal 17 Nov 2016 6:46

It would seem that there is a great deal of over simplifying going on; some of the articles represent an hysteric response and the vision of sack cloth and ashes prevails among those who could not see that the wheels were coming off the bus. The use of the term 'liberal' has become another buzz word - there are many different forms of liberalism and creating yet another sound byte does little to illuminate anything.

Making appeals to restore what has been lost reflects badly upon the central political parties, with their 30 year long rightward drift and their legacy of sucking up to corporate lobbyists, systems managers, box tickers and consultants. You can't give away sovereign political power to a bunch of right wing quangos who worship private wealth and its accumulation without suffering the consequences. The article makes no contribution (and neither have many of the others of late) to any kind of alternative to either neo-liberalism or the vacuum that has become a question mark with the dark face of the devil behind it.

We are in uncharted waters. The conventional Left was totally discredited by1982 and all we've had since are various forms of modifications of Thatcher's imported American vision. There has been no opposition to this system for over 40 years - so where do we get the idea that democracy has any real meaning? Yes, we can vote for the Greens, or one of the lesser known minority parties, but of course people don't; they tend to go with what is portrayed as the orthodoxy and they've been badly let down by it.

It would be a real breath of fresh air to see articles which offer some kind of analysis that demonstrates tangible options to deal with the multiple crises we are suffering. Perhaps we might start with a consideration that if our political institutions are prone to being haunted by the ghost of the 1930's, the state itself could be seen as part of the problem rather than any solution. Why is it that every other institution is considered to be past its sell by date and we still believe in a phantom of democracy? Discuss.

VenetianBlind -> macfeegal 17 Nov 2016 7:00

I have spent hours trying to see solutions around Neo-Liberalism and find that governments have basically signed away any control over the economy so nothing they can do. There are no solutions.

Maybe that is the starting point. The solution for workers left behind in Neo-Liberal language is they must move. It demands labor mobility. It is not possible to dictate where jobs are created.

I see too much fiddly around the edges, the best start is to say they cannot fix the problem. If they keep making false promises then things will just get dire as.

[Oct 01, 2017] Bulletproof Neoliberalism by Paul Heideman

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Mirowski identifies three basic aspects of neoliberalism that the Left has failed to understand: the movement's intellectual history, the way it has transformed everyday life, and what constitutes opposition to it. Until we come to terms with them, Mirowski suggests, right-wing movements such as the Tea Party (a prominent player in the book) will continue to reign triumphant. ..."
"... Joining a long line of thinkers, most famously Karl Polanyi, Mirowski insists that a key error of the Left has been its failure to see that markets are always embedded in other social institutions. Neoliberals, by contrast, grasp this point with both hands -- and therefore seek to reshape all of the institutions of society, including and especially the state, to promote markets. Neoliberal ascendancy has meant not the retreat of the state so much as its remaking. ..."
"... he also recognizes that the neoliberals themselves have been canny about keeping the real nature of their project hidden through a variety of means. Neoliberal institutions tend to have what he calls a "Russian doll" structure, with the most central ones well hidden from public eyes. Mirowski coins an ironic expression, "the Neoliberal Thought Collective," for the innermost entities that formulate the movement's doctrine. The venerable Mont Pelerin Society is an NTC institution. Its ideas are frequently disseminated through venues which, formally at least, are unconnected to the center, such as academic economics departments. Thus, neoclassical economists spread the gospel of the free market while the grand project of remaking the state falls to others. ..."
"... At the same time as neoliberal commonsense trickles down from above, Mirowski argues that it also wells up from below, reinforced by our daily patterns of life. Social networking sites like Facebook encourage people to view themselves as perpetual cultural entrepreneurs, striving to offer a newer and better version of themselves to the world. Sites like LinkedIn prod their users to present themselves as a fungible basket of skills, adjustable to the needs of any employer, without any essential characteristics beyond a requisite subservience. Classical liberalism always assumes the coherent individual self as its basic unit. Neoliberalism, by contrast, sees people as little more than variable bundles of human capital, with no permanent interests or even attributes that cannot be remade through the market. For Mirowski, the proliferation of these forms of everyday neoliberalism constitute a "major reason the neoliberals have emerged from the crisis triumphant." ..."
"... Finally, Mirowski argues that the Left has too often been sucked in by neoliberalism's loyal opposition. Figures like Joseph Stiglitz or Paul Krugman, while critical of austerity and supportive of the welfare state, accept the fundamental neoclassical economic precepts at the heart of neoliberal policy. Mirowski argues that we must ditch this tradition in its entirety. Even attempts to render its assumptions more realistic -- as in the case of behavioral economics, for example, which takes account of the ways real people diverge from the hyperrationality of homo economicus -- provide little succor for those seeking to overturn the neoliberals. ..."
"... Mirowski's insistence on the centrality of the state to the neoliberal project helps correct the unfortunate tendency of many leftists over the past decade to assent to neoliberal nostrums about the obsolescence of the state. Indeed, Mirowski goes further than many other critics who have challenged the supposed retreat of the state under neoliberalism. ..."
"... Loïc Wacquant, for instance, has described the "centaur state" of neoliberalism, in which a humanist liberalism reigns for the upper classes, while the lower classes face the punitive state apparatus in all its bestiality. ..."
"... Mirowski shows us that the world of the rich under neoliberalism in no way corresponds to the laissez-faire of classical liberalism. The state does not so much leave the rich alone as actively work to reshape the world in their interests, helping to create markets for the derivatives and securities that made (and then destroyed) so many of the fortunes of the recent past. The neoliberal state is an eminently interventionist one, and those mistaking it for the austere nightwatchman of libertarian utopianism have little hope of combating it. ..."
"... Mirowski's concern to disabuse his readers of the notion that the wing of neoliberal doctrine disseminated by neoclassical economists could ever be reformed produces some of the best sections of the book. His portrait of an economics profession in haggard disarray in the aftermath of the crisis is both comic and tragic, as the amusement value of the buffoonery on display diminishes quickly when one realizes the prestige still accorded to these figures. Reading his comprehensive examination of the discipline's response to the crisis, one is reminded of Freud's famous broken kettle. The professional economists' account of their role in the crisis went something like (a) there was no bubble and (b) bubbles are impossible to predict but (c) we knew it was a bubble all along. ..."
"... Though Krugman and Stiglitz have attacked concepts like the efficient markets hypothesis (which holds that prices in a competitive financial market reflect all relevant economic information), Mirowski argues that their attempt to do so while retaining the basic theoretical architecture of neoclassicism has rendered them doubly ineffective. ..."
"... First, their adoption of the battery of assumptions that accompany most neoclassical theorizing -- about representative agents, treating information like any other commodity, and so on -- make it nearly impossible to conclusively rebut arguments like the efficient markets hypothesis. ..."
Oct 01, 2017 | www.jacobinmag.com

To understand how a body of thought became an era of capitalism requires more than intellectual history.

"What is going to come after neoliberalism?" It was the question on many radicals' lips, present writer included, after the financial crisis hit in 2008. Though few were so sanguine about our prospects as to repeat the suicidal optimism of previous radical movements ("After Hitler, Our Turn!"), the feeling of the day was that the era of unfettered marketization was coming to a close. A new period of what was loosely referred to as Keynesianism would be the inevitable result of a crisis caused by markets run amok.

Five years later, little has changed. What comes after neoliberalism? More neoliberalism, apparently. The prospects for a revived Left capable of confronting it appear grim.

Enter Philip Mirowski's Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown . Mirowski maintains that the true nature of neoliberalism has gone unrecognized by its would-be critics, allowing the doctrine to flourish even in conditions, such as a massive financial crisis, that would seem to be inimical to its survival. Leftists keep busy tilting at the windmill of deregulation as the giants of neoliberalism go on pillaging unmolested.

Mirowski identifies three basic aspects of neoliberalism that the Left has failed to understand: the movement's intellectual history, the way it has transformed everyday life, and what constitutes opposition to it. Until we come to terms with them, Mirowski suggests, right-wing movements such as the Tea Party (a prominent player in the book) will continue to reign triumphant.

The book begins with the war of ideas -- a conflict in which, Mirowski argues, the Left has been far too generous in taking neoliberals at their word, or at least their best-publicized word. We have, in effect, been suckered by kindly old Milton Friedman telling us how much better off we'd all be if the government simply left us "free to choose." But neoliberals have at times been forthright about their appreciation for the uses of state power. Markets, after all, do not simply create themselves. Joining a long line of thinkers, most famously Karl Polanyi, Mirowski insists that a key error of the Left has been its failure to see that markets are always embedded in other social institutions. Neoliberals, by contrast, grasp this point with both hands -- and therefore seek to reshape all of the institutions of society, including and especially the state, to promote markets. Neoliberal ascendancy has meant not the retreat of the state so much as its remaking.

If Mirowski is often acidic about the Left's failure to understand this point, he also recognizes that the neoliberals themselves have been canny about keeping the real nature of their project hidden through a variety of means. Neoliberal institutions tend to have what he calls a "Russian doll" structure, with the most central ones well hidden from public eyes. Mirowski coins an ironic expression, "the Neoliberal Thought Collective," for the innermost entities that formulate the movement's doctrine. The venerable Mont Pelerin Society is an NTC institution. Its ideas are frequently disseminated through venues which, formally at least, are unconnected to the center, such as academic economics departments. Thus, neoclassical economists spread the gospel of the free market while the grand project of remaking the state falls to others.

At the same time as neoliberal commonsense trickles down from above, Mirowski argues that it also wells up from below, reinforced by our daily patterns of life. Social networking sites like Facebook encourage people to view themselves as perpetual cultural entrepreneurs, striving to offer a newer and better version of themselves to the world. Sites like LinkedIn prod their users to present themselves as a fungible basket of skills, adjustable to the needs of any employer, without any essential characteristics beyond a requisite subservience. Classical liberalism always assumes the coherent individual self as its basic unit. Neoliberalism, by contrast, sees people as little more than variable bundles of human capital, with no permanent interests or even attributes that cannot be remade through the market. For Mirowski, the proliferation of these forms of everyday neoliberalism constitute a "major reason the neoliberals have emerged from the crisis triumphant."

Finally, Mirowski argues that the Left has too often been sucked in by neoliberalism's loyal opposition. Figures like Joseph Stiglitz or Paul Krugman, while critical of austerity and supportive of the welfare state, accept the fundamental neoclassical economic precepts at the heart of neoliberal policy. Mirowski argues that we must ditch this tradition in its entirety. Even attempts to render its assumptions more realistic -- as in the case of behavioral economics, for example, which takes account of the ways real people diverge from the hyperrationality of homo economicus -- provide little succor for those seeking to overturn the neoliberals.

For Mirowski, these three failures of the Left go a long way toward explaining how neoliberals have largely escaped blame for a crisis they created. The Left persistently goes after phantoms like deregulation or smaller government, which neoliberals easily parry by pointing out that the regulatory apparatus has never been bigger. At the same time, we ignore the deep roots of neoliberal ideology in everyday life, deceiving ourselves as to the scale of the task in front of us.

Whatever criticisms of Mirowski's analysis are in order, much of it is compelling, particularly in regard to the intellectual history of the NTC. Mirowski's insistence on the centrality of the state to the neoliberal project helps correct the unfortunate tendency of many leftists over the past decade to assent to neoliberal nostrums about the obsolescence of the state. Indeed, Mirowski goes further than many other critics who have challenged the supposed retreat of the state under neoliberalism.

Loïc Wacquant, for instance, has described the "centaur state" of neoliberalism, in which a humanist liberalism reigns for the upper classes, while the lower classes face the punitive state apparatus in all its bestiality. But Mirowski shows us that the world of the rich under neoliberalism in no way corresponds to the laissez-faire of classical liberalism. The state does not so much leave the rich alone as actively work to reshape the world in their interests, helping to create markets for the derivatives and securities that made (and then destroyed) so many of the fortunes of the recent past. The neoliberal state is an eminently interventionist one, and those mistaking it for the austere nightwatchman of libertarian utopianism have little hope of combating it.

It's here that we begin to see the strategic genius of neoliberal infrastructure, with its teams of college economics professors teaching the wondrous efficacy of supply and demand on the one hand, and the think tanks and policy shops engaged in the relentless pursuit of state power on the other. The Left too often sees inconsistency where in fact there is a division of labor.

Mirowski's concern to disabuse his readers of the notion that the wing of neoliberal doctrine disseminated by neoclassical economists could ever be reformed produces some of the best sections of the book. His portrait of an economics profession in haggard disarray in the aftermath of the crisis is both comic and tragic, as the amusement value of the buffoonery on display diminishes quickly when one realizes the prestige still accorded to these figures. Reading his comprehensive examination of the discipline's response to the crisis, one is reminded of Freud's famous broken kettle. The professional economists' account of their role in the crisis went something like (a) there was no bubble and (b) bubbles are impossible to predict but (c) we knew it was a bubble all along.

Incoherence notwithstanding, however, little in the discipline has changed in the wake of the crisis. Mirowski thinks that this is at least in part a result of the impotence of the loyal opposition -- those economists such as Joseph Stiglitz or Paul Krugman who attempt to oppose the more viciously neoliberal articulations of economic theory from within the camp of neoclassical economics. Though Krugman and Stiglitz have attacked concepts like the efficient markets hypothesis (which holds that prices in a competitive financial market reflect all relevant economic information), Mirowski argues that their attempt to do so while retaining the basic theoretical architecture of neoclassicism has rendered them doubly ineffective.

First, their adoption of the battery of assumptions that accompany most neoclassical theorizing -- about representative agents, treating information like any other commodity, and so on -- make it nearly impossible to conclusively rebut arguments like the efficient markets hypothesis. Instead, they end up tinkering with it, introducing a nuance here or a qualification there. This tinkering causes their arguments to be more or less ignored in neoclassical pedagogy, as economists more favorably inclined toward hard neoliberal arguments can easily ignore such revisions and hold that the basic thrust of the theory is still correct. Stiglitz's and Krugman's arguments, while receiving circulation through the popular press, utterly fail to transform the discipline.

Mirowski also heaps scorn on the suggestion, sometimes made in leftist circles, that the problem at the heart of neoclassical economics is its assumption of a hyperrational homo economicus , relentlessly comparing equilibrium states and maximizing utility. Though such a revision may be appealing to a certain radical romanticism, Mirowski shows that a good deal of work going on under the label of behavioral economics has performed just this revision, and has come up with results that don't differ substantively from those of the mainstream. The main problem with neoclassicism isn't its theory of the human agent but rather its the theory of the market -- which is precisely what behavioral economics isn't interested in contesting.

In all, Mirowski's indictment of the state of economic theory and its imbrication with the neoliberal project is devastating. Unfortunately, he proves much less successful in explaining why things have turned out as they have. The book ascribes tremendous power to the Neoliberal Thought Collective, which somehow manages to do everything from controlling the economics profession to reshaping the state to forging a new sense of the human self. The reader is left wondering how the NTC came to acquire such power. This leads to the book's central flaw: a lack of any theory of the structure of modern capitalism. Indeed, the NTC seems to operate in something of a vacuum, without ever confronting other institutions or groups, such as the state or popular movements, with interests and agendas of their own.

To be fair, Mirowski does offer an explanation for the failure of popular movements to challenge neoliberalism, largely through his account of "everyday" neoliberalism. At its strongest, the book identifies important strategic failures, such as Occupy's embrace of "a mimicry of media technologies as opposed to concerted political mobilization." However, Mirowski extends the argument well beyond a specific failure of the Occupy movement to propose a general thesis that developments like Facebook and reality TV have transmitted neoliberal ideology to people who have never read Friedman and Hayek. In claiming that this embodied or embedded ideology plays an important role in the failure of the Left, he places far more explanatory weight on the concept of everyday neoliberalism than it is capable of bearing.

At the simplest level, it's just not clear that everyday neoliberalism constitutes the kind of block to political action that Mirowski thinks it does. No doubt, many people reading this article right now simultaneously have another browser tab open to monster.com or LinkedIn, where they are striving to present themselves as a fungible basket of skills to any employer that will have them. In this economy, everyone has to hustle, and that means using all available means. That many of these same readers have probably also done things like organize against foreclosures should give pause to any blurring of the distinction between using various media technologies and embracing the ideology Mirowski sees embodied in them.

Indeed, the ubiquity of participation in such technologies by people who support, oppose, or are apathetic about neoliberalism points to a larger phenomenon on which Mirowski is silent: the labor market. Put bluntly, it is difficult to imagine anyone engaging in the painfully strained self-advertisement facilitated by LinkedIn in a labor market with, say, 2-percent unemployment. In such a market, in which employers were competing for comparatively scarce workers, there would be very little need for those workers to go through the self-abasing ritual of converting themselves into fungible baskets of skills. In our current situation, by contrast, where secure and remunerative employment is comparatively scarce, it is no surprise that people turn to whatever technologies are available to attempt to sell themselves. As Joan Robinson put it, the only thing worse than being exploited by capitalism is not being exploited by it.

In evaluating the role of everyday neoliberalism, it is also helpful to move, for the moment, beyond the perspective of the United States, where the NTC has clearly had great success, and adopt that of countries where resistance is significantly more developed, such as Venezuela or South Africa. Especially in the former, popular movements have been notably successful in combating neoliberal efforts to take over the state and reshape the economy, and have instead pushed the country in the opposite direction. Is it really plausible that a main reason for this difference is that everyday neoliberalism is more intense in the United States? I doubt it. For one thing, the strength of Venezuela's radical movements, in comparison with the US, clearly antedates the developments (social media, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo , and so on) that Mirowski discusses.

Moreover, it is just as plausible that the entrepreneurial culture he describes is even more extensive in the slums of the global South, where neoliberal devastation has forced many poor households to rely on at least one family member engaging in semi-legal arbitrage in goods salvaged from garbage or made at home. Surely such activities provide a firmer foundation for commercial subjectivity than having a 401(k). That resistance has grown in such circumstances suggests that looking to malignant subjectivities to explain popular passivity is an analytic dead-end.

If everyday neoliberalism doesn't explain the comparative weakness of the US left, what does? This is, of course, the key question, and I can do no more than gesture at an answer here. But I would suggest that the specific histories of the institutions of the American left, from the Communist Party to Students for a Democratic Society to labor unions, and the histories of the situations they confronted, provide us with a more solid foundation for understanding our current weakness than the hegemony of neoliberal culture does. Moreover, with a theory of capitalism that emphasizes the way the structure of the system makes it both necessary and very difficult for most people to organize to advance their interests, it becomes very easy to explain the persistence of a low level of popular mobilization against neoliberalism in the context of a weakened left.

If Mirowski's account doesn't give us a good basis for explaining why popular resistance has been so lacking in the US, it nonetheless suggests why he is so concerned with explaining the supposed dominance of neoliberal ideology among the general population. From the beginning, he raises the specter of right-wing resurgence, whether in the form of Scott Walker surviving the recall campaign in Wisconsin, the Tea Party mania of 2010, or the success of right-wing parties in Europe. However, much of this seems overstated, especially from a contemporary perspective. The Tea Party has, for all intents and purposes, disappeared from the front lines of American politics, and the Republican Party, while capable of enacting all kinds of sadistic policies on the state level, has remained in a state of disarray on the national level since the 2006 congressional elections.

More fundamentally, the argument that the voting public embraces neoliberalism doesn't square well with recent research by political scientists like Larry Bartels and Martin Gilens emphasizing the profound disconnect between the policy preferences of the poor and what transpires in Washington. What appears to be happening is less the general populace's incorporation into neoliberalism than their exclusion from any institutions that would allow them to change it. Importantly, this alternative explanation does not rely on the Left conceit that rebellion lurks perpetually just below the placid social surface, ready to explode into radical insurgency at any moment. It simply contends that the political passivity of neoliberalism's victims reflects a real diminution of their political options.

Mirowski's failure to address these larger institutional and structural dynamics vitiates much of the explanatory power of his book. On a purely descriptive level, the sections on the intellectual history of neoliberalism and the non-crisis of neoclassical economics illuminate many of the hidden corners of neoliberal ideology. However, if Mirowski is right to suggest that we need to understand neoliberalism better to be successful in fighting it -- and he surely is -- then much more is needed to explain neoliberal success and Left failure.

To understand how a body of thought became an era of capitalism requires more than intellectual history. It demands an account of how capitalism actually works in the period in question, and how the ideas of a small group of intellectuals came to be the policy preferences of the rich. Mirowski has given us an excellent foundation for understanding the doctrine, but it will remain for others to explain its actual development.

https://staticxx.facebook.com/connect/xd_arbiter/r/Z2duorNoYeF.js?version=42#channel=f1c0e2812ec10f6&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.jacobinmag.com

[Oct 01, 2017] Neoliberal globalization will be dispaced by trade blocs, and several such blocks already exist such as the EU and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

As living standards continue to fall for the majority of their populations, tariff barriers will start to go up to protect their societies from cheap imports or from the "offshoring" of jobs. The freewheeling capitalism post 1979 is over. The crash of 2008 saw to that. Look at oil prices and global economic growth.
Notable quotes:
"... First. You assume that neo-Liberal "Free Trade" globalisation is going to continue. It will not. Trade blocs already exist e.g. the EU. As living standards continue to fall for the majority of their populations, tariff barriers will start to go up to protect their societies from cheap imports or from the "offshoring" of jobs. The freewheeling capitalism post 1979 is over. The crash of 2008 saw to that. Look at oil prices and global economic growth. ..."
"... Cheap labour costs are irrelevant if the skills are low grade and you have low productivity. Look at Germany. High quality skills, high quality manufacturing , high productivity and high wages. ..."
"... Manufacturers are already relocating closer to their markets where there is long term stability. China has already become far less attractive because of rising wages and no added value. The level of wealth inequity in China is also rising and China is heading for a demographic time bomb in the next 10 years which has already hit Japan. China will have its own serious problems in the next 10 years. ..."
Oct 01, 2017 | discussion.theguardian.com

Peter Rabbit -> NeilBarna, 2 Jun 2017 21:08

The premise of your argument is on very shaky ground for several reasons.

First. You assume that neo-Liberal "Free Trade" globalisation is going to continue. It will not. Trade blocs already exist e.g. the EU. As living standards continue to fall for the majority of their populations, tariff barriers will start to go up to protect their societies from cheap imports or from the "offshoring" of jobs. The freewheeling capitalism post 1979 is over. The crash of 2008 saw to that. Look at oil prices and global economic growth.

The present levels of wealth inequality in European countries and even in the U.S.A. will not be tolerated for much longer. The days of Gordon Gekko are numbered. Expect to see more State intervention in the economy together with more international cooperation over tax evasion and the systematic closing down of offshore, international tax havens.

Second. Education/Skills and Technology. Cheap labour costs are irrelevant if the skills are low grade and you have low productivity. Look at Germany. High quality skills, high quality manufacturing , high productivity and high wages.

Manufacturers are already relocating closer to their markets where there is long term stability. China has already become far less attractive because of rising wages and no added value. The level of wealth inequity in China is also rising and China is heading for a demographic time bomb in the next 10 years which has already hit Japan. China will have its own serious problems in the next 10 years.

The robots are already here and the investment is not in third world countries but in Europe and the U.S.A. These robots will make most of the working populations redundant in the next 20 years especially in manufacturing. This, together with the needs of an ever ageing population are going to be the real issues for the majority of us.

Third. The real elephant in the room which everyone is trying to ignore is climate change. The tipping point has now passed. We are going to see radical and dramatic global climate change in the next 10 years, not 20 or 30 years and with ever rising temperatures humanity is facing extinction and no amount of human technology is going to save the majority of us.

[Oct 01, 2017] Neoliberal economic policies in the United States The impact of globalisation on a `Northern country by Kim Scipes

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Following Frances Fox Piven, "neoliberal economic policies" refers to the set of policies carried out, in the name of individualism and unfettered markets, for "the deregulation of corporations, and particularly of financial institutions; the rollback of public services and benefit programs; curbing labor unions; 'free trade' policies that would pry open foreign markets; and wherever possible the replacement of public programs with private markets" (Piven, 2007: 13). ..."
"... The case of the United States is particularly useful to examine because its elites have projected themselves as "first among equals" of the globalization project ( Bello , 2006), and it is the place of the Global North where the neoliberal project has been pursued most resolutely and has advanced the farthest. In other words, the experiences of American workers illuminate the affects of the neoliberal project in the Global North to the greatest extent, and suggest what will happen to working people in other northern countries should they accept their respective government's adoption of such policies. ..."
"... However, it is believed that the implementation of these neoliberal economic policies and the cultural wars to divert public attention are part of a larger, conscious political program by the elites within this country that is intended to prevent re-emergence of the collective solidarity among the American people that we saw during the late 1960s-early 1970s (see Piven, 2004, 2007) -- of which the internal breakdown of discipline within the US military, in Vietnam and around the world, was arguably the most crucial (see Moser, 1996; Zeiger, 2006) -- that ultimately challenged, however inchoately, the very structure of the established social order, both internationally and in the United States itself. ..."
Oct 01, 2017 | links.org.au

Most contemporary discussions of globalization, and especially of the impact of neoliberal economic policies, focus on the countries of the Global South (see, for example, Bond, 2005; Ellner and Hellinger, eds., 2003; a number of articles in Harris, ed., 2006; Klein, 2007; Monthly Review, 2007; and, among others, see Scipes, 1999, 2006b). Recent articles arguing that the globalization project has receded and might be taking different approaches (Bello, 2006; Thornton, 2007) have also focused on the Global South. What has been somewhat discussed (see Giroux, 2004; Piven, 2004; Aronowitz, 2005) but not systematically addressed, however, is what has been the impact of globalization and especially related neoliberal economic policies on working people in a northern country? [i]

This paper specifically addresses this question by looking at the impact of neoliberal economic policies on working people in the United States . Following Frances Fox Piven, "neoliberal economic policies" refers to the set of policies carried out, in the name of individualism and unfettered markets, for "the deregulation of corporations, and particularly of financial institutions; the rollback of public services and benefit programs; curbing labor unions; 'free trade' policies that would pry open foreign markets; and wherever possible the replacement of public programs with private markets" (Piven, 2007: 13).

The case of the United States is particularly useful to examine because its elites have projected themselves as "first among equals" of the globalization project ( Bello , 2006), and it is the place of the Global North where the neoliberal project has been pursued most resolutely and has advanced the farthest. In other words, the experiences of American workers illuminate the affects of the neoliberal project in the Global North to the greatest extent, and suggest what will happen to working people in other northern countries should they accept their respective government's adoption of such policies.

However, care must be taken as to how this is understood. While sociologically-focused textbooks (e.g., Aguirre and Baker, eds., 2008; Hurst, 2007) have joined together some of the most recent thinking on social inequality -- and have demonstrated that inequality not only exists but is increasing -- this has been generally presented in a national context; in this case, within the United States. And if they recognize that globalization is part of the reason for increasing inequality, it is generally included as one of a set of reasons.

This paper argues that we simply cannot understand what is happening unless we put developments within a global context: the United States effects, and is affected by, global processes. Thus, while some of the impacts can be understood on a national level, we cannot ask related questions as to causes -- or future consequences -- by confining our examination to a national level: we absolutely must approach this from a global perspective (see Nederveen Pieterse, 2004, 2008).

This also must be put in historical perspective as well, although the focus in this piece will be limited to the post-World War II world. Inequality within what is now the United States today did not -- obviously -- arise overnight. Unquestionably, it began at least 400 years ago in Jamestown -- with the terribly unequal and socially stratified society of England's colonial Virginia before Africans were brought to North America (see Fischer, 1989), much less after their arrival in 1619, before the Pilgrims. Yet, to understand the roots of development of contemporary social inequality in the US , we must understand the rise of " Europe " in relation to the rest of the world (see, among others, Rodney, 1972; Nederveen Pieterse, 1989). In short, again, we have to understand that the development of the United States has been and will always be a global project and, without recognizing that, we simply cannot begin to understand developments within the United States .

We also have to understand the multiple and changing forms of social stratification and resulting inequalities in this country. This paper prioritizes economic stratification, although is not limited to just the resulting inequalities. Nonetheless, it does not focus on racial, gender or any other type of social stratification. However, this paper is not written from the perspective that economic stratification is always the most important form of stratification, nor from the perspective that we can only understand other forms of stratification by understanding economic stratification: all that is being claimed herein is that economic stratification is one type of social stratification, arguably one of the most important types yet only one of several, and investigates the issue of economic stratification in the context of contemporary globalization and the neoliberal economic policies that have developed to address this phenomenon as it affects the United States.

Once this global-historical perspective is understood and after quickly suggesting in the "prologue" why the connection between neoliberal economic policies and the affects on working people in the United States has not been made usually, this paper focuses on several interrelated issues: (1) it reports the current economic situation for workers in the United States; (2) it provides a historical overview of US society since World War II; (3) it analyzes the results of US Government economic policies; and (4) it ties these issues together. From that, it comes to a conclusion about the affects of neoliberal economic policies on working people in the United States .

Prologue: Origins of neoliberal economic policies in the United States

As stated above, most of the attention directed toward understanding the impact of neoliberal economic policies on various countries has been confined to the countries of the Global South. However, these policies have been implemented in the United States as well. This arguably began in 1982, when the Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker, launched a vicious attack on inflation -- and caused the deepest US recession since the Great Depression of the late 1920s-1930s.

However, these neoliberal policies have been implemented in the US perhaps more subtly than in the Global South. This is said because, when trying to understand changes that continue to take place in the United States, these economic policies are hidden "under" the various and sundry "cultural wars" (around issues such as drugs, premarital sex, gun control, abortion, marriages for gays and lesbians) that have been taking place in this country and, thus, not made obvious: most Americans, and especially working people, are not aware of the changes detailed below. [ii]

However, it is believed that the implementation of these neoliberal economic policies and the cultural wars to divert public attention are part of a larger, conscious political program by the elites within this country that is intended to prevent re-emergence of the collective solidarity among the American people that we saw during the late 1960s-early 1970s (see Piven, 2004, 2007) -- of which the internal breakdown of discipline within the US military, in Vietnam and around the world, was arguably the most crucial (see Moser, 1996; Zeiger, 2006) -- that ultimately challenged, however inchoately, the very structure of the established social order, both internationally and in the United States itself. Thus, we see both Democratic and Republican Parties in agreement to maintain and expand the US Empire (in more neutral political science-ese, a "uni-polar world"), but the differences that emerge within each party and between each party are generally confined to how this can best be accomplished. While this paper focuses on the economic and social changes going on, it should be kept in mind that these changes did not "just happen": conscious political decisions have been made that produced social results (see Piven, 2004) that make the US experience -- at the center of a global social order based on an "advanced" capitalist economy -- qualitatively different from experiences in other more economically-developed countries.

So, what has been the impact of these policies on workers in the US?

1) The current situation for workers and growing economic inequality

Steven Greenhouse of The New York Times published a piece on September 4, 2006, writing about entry-level workers, young people who were just entering the job market. Mr. Greenhouse noted changes in the US economy; in fact, there have been substantial changes since early 2000, when the economy last created many jobs.

Yet, the percentage drop in wages hides the growing gap between college and high school graduates. Today, on average, college grads earn 45 per cent more than high school graduates, where the gap had "only" been 23 per cent in 1979: the gap has doubled in 26 years (Greenhouse, 2006b).

A 2004 story in Business Week found that 24 per cent of all working Americans received wages below the poverty line ( Business Week , 2004). [iii] In January 2004, 23.5 million Americans received free food from food pantries. "The surge for food demand is fueled by several forces -- job losses, expired unemployment benefits, soaring health-care and housing costs, and the inability of many people to find jobs that match the income and benefits of the jobs they had." And 43 million people were living in low-income families with children (Jones, 2004).

A 2006 story in Business Week found that US job growth between 2001-2006 was really based on one industry: health care. Over this five-year period, the health-care sector has added 1.7 million jobs, while the rest of the private sector has been stagnant. Michael Mandel, the economics editor of the magazine, writes:

information technology, the great electronic promise of the 1990s, has turned into one of the greatest job-growth disappointments of all time. Despite the splashy success of companies such as Google and Yahoo!, businesses at the core of the information economy -- software, semi-conductors, telecom, and the whole range of Web companies -- have lost more than 1.1 million jobs in the past five years. These businesses employ fewer Americans today than they did in 1998, when the Internet frenzy kicked into high gear (Mandel, 2006: 56) .

In fact, "take away health-care hiring in the US, and quicker than you can say cardiac bypass, the US unemployment rate would be 1 to 2 percentage points higher" (Mandel, 2006: 57).

There has been extensive job loss in manufacturing. Over 3.4 million manufacturing jobs have been lost since 1998, and 2.9 million of them have been lost since 2001. Additionally, over 40,000 manufacturing firms have closed since 1999, and 90 per cent have been medium and large shops. In labor-import intensive industries, 25 per cent of laid-off workers remain unemployed after six months, two-thirds of them who do find new jobs earn less than on their old job, and one-quarter of those who find new jobs "suffer wage losses of more than 30 percent" (AFL-CIO, 2006a: 2).

The AFL-CIO details the US job loss by manufacturing sector in the 2001-05 period:

As of the end of 2005, only 10.7 per cent of all US employment was in manufacturing -- down from 21.6 per cent at its height in 1979 -- in raw numbers, manufacturing employment totaled 19.426 million in 1979, 17.263 million in 2000, and 14.232 million in 2005. [iv] The number of production workers in this country at the end of 2005 was 9.378 million. [v] This was only slightly above the 9.306 million production workers in 1983, and was considerably below the 11.463 million as recently as 2000 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2006b). As one writer puts it, this is "the biggest long-term trend in the economy: the decline of manufacturing." He notes that employment in the durable goods (e.g., cars and cable TV boxes) category of manufacturing has declined from 19 per cent of all employment in 1965 to 8 per cent in 2005 (Altman, 2006). And at the end of 2006, only 11.7 per cent of all manufacturing workers were in unions (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2007).

In addition, in 2004 and 2005, "the real hourly and weekly wages of US manufacturing workers have fallen 3 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively" (AFL-CIO, 2006a: 2).

The minimum wage level went unchanged for nine years: until recently when there was a small increase -- to $5.85 an hour on July 24, 2007 -- US minimum wage had remained at $5.15 an hour since September 1, 1997 . During that time, the cost of living rose 26 percent. After adjusting for inflation, this was the lowest level of the minimum wage since 1955. At the same time, the minimum wage was only 31 per cent of the average pay of non-supervisory workers in the private sector, which is the lowest share since World War II (Bernstein and Shapiro, 2006).

In addition to the drop in wages at all levels, fewer new workers get health care benefits with their jobs: [vi] in 2005, 64 per cent of all college grads got health coverage in entry-level jobs, where 71 per cent had gotten it in 2000 -- a 7 per cent drop in just five years. Over a longer term, we can see what has happened to high school grads: in 1979, two-thirds of all high school graduates got health care coverage in entry-level jobs, while only one-third do today (Greenhouse, 2006b). It must be kept in mind that only about 28 per cent of the US workforce are college graduates -- most of the work force only has a high school degree, although a growing percentage of them have some college, but not college degrees.

Because things have gotten so bad, many young adults have gotten discouraged and given up. The unemployment rate is 4.4 per cent for ages 25-34, but 8.2 per cent for workers 20-24. (Greenhouse, 2006b).

Yet things are actually worse than that. In the US , unemployment rates are artificially low. If a person gets laid off and gets unemployment benefits -- which fewer and fewer workers even get -- they get a check for six months. If they have not gotten a job by the end of six months -- and it is taking longer and longer to get a job -- and they have given up searching for work, then not only do they loose their unemployment benefits, but they are no longer counted as unemployed: one doesn't even count in the statistics!

A report from April 2004 provides details. According to the then-head of the US Federal Reserve System, Alan Greenspan, "the average duration of unemployment increased from twelve weeks in September 2000 to twenty weeks in March [2004]" (quoted in Shapiro, 2004: 4). In March 2004, 354,000 jobs workers had exhausted their unemployment benefits, and were unable to get any additional federal unemployment assistance: Shapiro (2004: 1) notes, "In no other month on record, with data available back to 1971, have there been so many 'exhaustees'."

Additionally, although it's rarely reported, unemployment rates vary by racial grouping. No matter what the unemployment rate is, it really only reflects the rate of whites who are unemployed because about 78 per cent of the workforce is white. However, since 1954, the unemployment rate of African-Americans has always been more than twice that of whites, and Latinos are about 1 1/2 times that of whites. So, for example, if the overall rate is five percent, then it's at least ten per cent for African-Americans and 7.5 per cent for Latinos.

However, most of the developments presented above -- other than the racial affects of unemployment -- have been relatively recent. What about longer term? Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize-winning Princeton University economist who writes for The New York Times, pointed out these longer term affects: non-supervisory workers make less in real wages today (2006) than they made in 1973! So, after inflation is taken out, non-supervisory workers are making less today in real terms that their contemporaries made 33 years ago (Krugman, 2006b). Figures provided by Stephen Franklin -- obtained from the US Bureau of Statistics, and presented in 1982 dollars -- show that a production worker in January 1973 earned $9.08 an hour -- and $8.19 an hour in December 2005 (Franklin, 2006). Workers in 2005 also had less long-term job security, fewer benefits, less stable pensions (when they have them), and rising health care costs. [vii]

In short, the economic situation for "average Americans" is getting worse. A front-page story in the Chicago Tribune tells about a worker who six years ago was making $29 an hour, working at a nuclear power plant. He got laid off, and now makes $12.24 an hour, working on the bottom tier of a two-tiered unionized factory owned by Caterpillar, the multinational earth moving equipment producer, which is less than half of his old wages. The article pointed out, "Glued to a bare bones budget, he saved for weeks to buy a five-pack of $7 T-shirts" ( Franklin , 2006).

As Foster and Magdoff point out:

Except for a small rise in the late 1990s, real wages have been sluggish for decades. The typical (median-income) family has sought to compensate for this by increasing the number of jobs and working hours per household. Nevertheless, the real (inflation-adjusted) income of the typical household fell for five years in a row through 2004 (Foster and Magdoff, 2009: 28).

A report by Workers Independent News (WIN) stated that while a majority of metropolitan areas have regained the 2.6 million jobs lost during the first two years of the Bush Administration, "the new jobs on average pay $9,000 less than the jobs replaced," a 21 per cent decline from $43,629 to $34,378. However, WIN says that "99 out of the 361 metro areas will not recover jobs before 2007 and could be waiting until 2015 before they reach full recovery" (Russell, 2006).

At the same time, Americans are going deeper and deeper into debt. At the end of 2000, total US household debt was $7.008 trillion, with home mortgage debt being $4.811 trillion and non-mortgage debt $1.749 trillion; at the end of 2006, comparable numbers were a total of $12.817 trillion; $9.705 trillion (doubling since 2000); and $2.431 trillion (US Federal Reserve, 2007-rounding by author). Foster and Magdoff (2009: 29) show that this debt is not only increasing, but based on figures from the Federal Reserve, that debt as a percentage of disposable income has increased overall from 62% in 1975 to 96.8% in 2000, and to 127.2% in 2005.

Three polls from mid-2006 found "deep pessimism among American workers, with most saying that wages were not keeping pace with inflation, and that workers were worse off in many ways than a generation ago" (Greenhouse, 2006a). And, one might notice, nothing has been said about increasing gas prices, lower home values, etc. The economic situation for most working people is not looking pretty.

In fact, bankruptcy filings totaled 2.043 million in 2005, up 31.6 per cent from 2004 (Associated Press, 2006), before gas prices went through the ceiling and housing prices began falling in mid-2006. Yet in 1998, writers for the Chicago Tribune had written, " the number of personal bankruptcy filings skyrocketed 19.5 per cent last year, to an all-time high of 1,335,053, compared with 1,117,470 in 1996" (Schmeltzer and Gruber, 1998).

And at the same time, there were 37 million Americans in poverty in 2005, one of out every eight. Again, the rates vary by racial grouping: while 12.6 per cent of all Americans were in poverty, the poverty rate for whites was 8.3 percent; for African Americans, 24.9 per cent were in poverty, as were 21.8 per cent of all Latinos. (What is rarely acknowledged, however, is that 65 per cent of all people in poverty in the US are white.) And 17.6 per cent of all children were in poverty (US Census Bureau, 2005).

What about the "other half"? This time, Paul Krugman gives details from a report by two Northwestern University professors, Ian Dew-Becker and Robert Gordon, titled "Where Did the Productivity Growth Go?" Krugman writes:

Between 1973 and 2001, the wage and salary income of Americans at the 90th percentile of the income distribution rose only 34 percent, or about 1 per cent per year. But income at the 99th percentile rose 87 percent; income at the 99.9th percentile rose 181 percent; and income at the 99.99th percentile rose 497 percent. No, that's not a misprint. Just to give you a sense of who we're talking about: the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that this year, the 99th percentile will correspond to an income of $402,306, and the 99.9th percentile to an income of $1,672,726. The Center doesn't give a number for the 99.99th percentile, but it's probably well over $6 million a year (Krugman, 2006a) .

But how can we understand what is going on? We need to put take a historical approach to understand the significance of the changes reported above.

(2) A historical look at the US social order since World War II

When considering the US situation, it makes most sense to look at "recent" US developments, those since World War II. Just after the War, in 1947, the US population was about six per cent of the world's total. Nonetheless, this six per cent produced about 48 per cent of all goods and services in the world! [viii] With Europe and Japan devastated, the US was the only industrialized economy that had not been laid waste. Everybody needed what the US produced -- and this country produced the goods, and sent them around the world.

At the same time, the US economy was not only the most productive, but the rise of the industrial union movement in the 1930s and '40s -- the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) -- meant that workers had some power to demand a share of the wealth produced. In 1946, just after the war, the US had the largest strike wave in its history: 116,000,000 production days were lost in early 1946, as industry-wide strikes in auto, steel, meat packing, and the electrical industry took place across the United States and Canada , along with smaller strikes in individual firms. Not only that, but there were general strikes that year in Oakland , California and Stamford , Connecticut . Workers had been held back during the war, but they demonstrated their power immediately thereafter (Lipsitz, 1994; Murolo and Chitty, 2001). Industry knew that if it wanted the production it could sell, it had to include unionized workers in on the deal.

It was this combination -- devastated economic markets around the world and great demand for goods and services, the world's most developed industrial economy, and a militant union movement -- that combined to create what is now known as the "great American middle class." [ix]

To understand the economic impact of these factors, changes in income distribution in US society must be examined. The best way to illuminate this is to assemble family data on income or wealth [x] -- income data is more available, so that will be used; arrange it from the smallest amount to the largest; and then to divide the population into fifths, or quintiles. In other words, arrange every family's annual income from the lowest to the highest, and divide the total number of family incomes into quintiles or by 20 percents (i.e., fifths). Then compare changes in the top incomes for each quintile. By doing so, one can then observe changes in income distribution over specified time periods.

The years between 1947 and 1973 are considered the "golden years" of the US society. [xi] The values are presented in 2005 dollars, so that means that inflation has been taken out: these are real dollar values, and that means these are valid comparisons.

Figure 1: US family income, in US dollars, growth and istribution, by quintile, 1947-1973 compared to 1973-2001, in 2005 dollars

Lowest 20%

Second 20 %

Third 20%

Fourth 20%

95 th Percentile [xii]

1947

$11,758

$18,973

$25,728

$36,506

$59,916

1973

$23,144

$38,188

$53,282

$73,275

$114,234

Difference (26 years) $11,386

(97%)

$19,145

(100%)

$27,554

(107%)

$36,769

(101%)

$54,318

(91%)

1973

$23,144

$38,188

$53,282

$73,275

$114,234

2001

$26,467

$45,355

$68,925

$103,828

$180,973

Difference (28 years) $3,323

(14%)

$7,167

(19%)

$15,643

(29%)

$30,553

(42%)

$66,739

(58%)

Source: US Commerce Department, Bureau of the Census (hereafter, US Census Bureau) at www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/f01ar.html . All dollar values converted to 2005 dollars by US Census Bureau, removing inflation and comparing real values. Differences and percentages calculated by author. Percentages shown in both rows labeled "Difference" show the dollar difference as a percentage of the first year of the comparison.

Data for the first period, 1947-1973 -- the data above the grey line -- shows there was considerable real economic growth for each quintile . Over the 26-year period, there was approximately 100 per cent real economic growth for the incomes at the top of each quintile, which meant incomes doubled after inflation was removed; thus, there was significant economic growth in the society.

And importantly, this real economic growth was distributed fairly evenly . The data in the fourth line (in parentheses) is the percentage relationship between the difference between 1947-1973 real income when compared to the 1947 real income, with 100 per cent representing a doubling of real income: i.e., the difference for the bottom quintile between 1947 and 1973 was an increase of $11,386, which is 97 per cent more than $11,758 that the top of the quintile had in 1947. As can be seen, other quintiles also saw increases of roughly comparable amounts: in ascending order, 100 percent, 107 percent, 101 percent, and 91 percent. In other words, the rate of growth by quintile was very similar across all five quintiles of the population.

When looking at the figures for 1973-2001, something vastly different can be observed. This is the section below the grey line. What can be seen? First, economic growth has slowed considerably: the highest rate of growth for any quintile was that of 58 per cent for those who topped the fifth quintile, and this was far below the "lagger" of 91 per cent of the earlier period.

Second, of what growth there was, it was distributed extremely unequally . And the growth rates for those in lower quintiles were generally lower than for those above them: for the bottom quintile, their real income grew only 14 per cent over the 1973-2001 period; for the second quintile, 19 percent; for the third, 29 percent; for the fourth, 42 percent; and for the 80-95 percent, 58 percent: loosely speaking, the rich are getting richer, and the poor poorer.

Why the change? I think two things in particular. First, as industrialized countries recovered from World War II, corporations based in these countries could again compete with those from the US -- first in their own home countries, and then through importing into the US , and then ultimately when they invested in the United States . Think of Toyota : they began importing into the US in the early 1970s, and with their investments here in the early '80s and forward, they now are the largest domestic US auto producer.

Second cause for the change has been the deterioration of the American labor movement: from 35.3 per cent of the non-agricultural workforce in unions in 1954, to only 12.0 per cent of all American workers in unions in 2006 -- and only 7.4 per cent of all private industry workers are unionized, which is less than in 1930!

This decline in unionization has a number of reasons. Part of this deterioration has been the result of government policies -- everything from the crushing of the air traffic controllers when they went on strike by the Reagan Administration in 1981, to reform of labor law, to reactionary appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, which oversees administration of labor law. Certainly a key government policy, signed by Democratic President Bill Clinton, has been the North American Free Trade Act or NAFTA. One analyst came straight to the point:

Since [NAFTA] was signed in 1993, the rise in the US trade deficit with Canada and Mexico through 2002 has caused the displacement of production that supported 879,280 US jobs. Most of these lost jobs were high-wage positions in manufacturing industries. The loss of these jobs is just the most visible tip of NAFTA's impact on the US economy. In fact, NAFTA has also contributed to rising income inequality, suppressed real wages for production workers, weakened workers' collective bargaining powers and ability to organize unions, and reduced fringe benefits (Scott, 2003: 1).

These attacks by elected officials have been joined by the affects due to the restructuring of the economy. There has been a shift from manufacturing to services. However, within manufacturing, which has long been a union stronghold, there has been significant job loss: between July 2000 and January 2004, the US lost three million manufacturing jobs, or 17.5 percent, and 5.2 million since the historical peak in 1979, so that "Employment in manufacturing [in January 2004] was its lowest since July 1950" (CBO, 2004). This is due to both outsourcing labor-intensive production overseas and, more importantly, technological displacement as new technology has enabled greater production at higher quality with fewer workers in capital-intensive production (see Fisher, 2004). Others have blamed burgeoning trade deficits for the rise: " an increasing share of domestic demand for manufacturing output is satisfied by foreign rather than domestic producers" (Bivens, 2005). [xiii] Others have even attributed it to changes in consumer preferences (Schweitzer and Zaman, 2006). Whatever the reason, of the 50 states, only five (Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming) did not see any job loss in manufacturing between 1993-2003, yet 37 lost between 5.6 and 35.9 per cent of their manufacturing jobs during this period (Public Policy Institute, 2004).

However, part of the credit for deterioration of the labor movement must be given to the labor movement itself: the leadership has been simply unable to confront these changes and, at the same time, they have consistently worked against any independent action by rank-and-file members. [xiv]

However, it must be asked: are the changes in the economy presented herein merely statistical manipulations, or is this indicating something real?

This point can be illustrated another way: by using CAGR, the Compound Annual Growth Rate. This is a single number that is computed, based on compounded amounts, across a range of years, to come up with an average number to represent the rate of increase or decrease each year across the entire period. This looks pretty complex, but it is based on the same idea as compound interest used in our savings accounts: you put in $10 today and (this is obviously not a real example) because you get ten per cent interest, so you have $11 the next year. Well, the following year, interest is not computed off the original $10, but is computed on the $11. So, by the third year, from your $10, you now have $12.10. Etc. And this is what is meant by the Compound Annual Growth Rate: this is average compound growth by year across a designated period.

Based on the numbers presented above in Figure 1, the author calculated the Compound Annual Growth Rate by quintiles (Figure 2). The annual growth rate has been calculated for the first period, 1947-1973, the years known as the "golden years" of US society. What has happened since then? Compare results from the 1947-73 period to the annual growth rate across the second period, 1973-2001, again calculated by the author.

Figure 2: Annual percentage of family income growth, by quintile, 1947-1973 compared to 1973-2001

Population by quintiles

1947-1973

1973-2001
95th Percentile

2.51%

1.66%

Fourth quintile

2.72%

1.25%

Third quintile

2.84%

.92%

Second quintile

2.73%

.62%

Lowest quintile

2.64%

.48%

Source: Calculated by author from gather provided by the US Census Bureau at www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/f01ar.html .

What we can see here is that while everyone's income was growing at about the same rate in the first period -- between 2.51 and 2.84 per cent annually -- by the second period, not only had growth slowed down across the board, but it grew by very different rates: what we see here, again, is that the rich are getting richer, and the poor poorer.

If these figures are correct, a change over time in the percentage of income received by each quintile should be observable. Ideally, if the society were egalitarian, each 20 per cent of the population would get 20 per cent of the income in any one year. In reality, it differs. To understand Figure 3, below, one must not only look at the percentage of income held by a quintile across the chart, comparing selected year by selected year, but one needs to look to see whether a quintile's share of income is moving toward or away from the ideal 20 percent.

Figure 3: Percentage of family income distribution by quintile, 1947, 1973, 2001.

Population by quintiles 1947 1973 2001

Top fifth (lower limit of top 5percent, or 95th Percentile)-- $184,500 [xv]

43.0% 41.1% 47.7%
Second fifth--$103,100 23.1% 24.0% 22.9%
Third fifth--$68,304 17.0% 17.5% 15.4%
Fourth fifth--$45,021 11.9% 11.9% 9.7%
Bottom fifth--$25,616 5.0% 5.5% 4.2%

Source: US Census Bureau at www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/f02ar.html .

Unfortunately, much of the data available publicly ended in 2001. However, in the summer of 2007, after years of not releasing data any later than 2001, the Census Bureau released income data up to 2005. It allows us to examine what has taken place regarding family income inequality during the first four years of the Bush Administration.

Figure 4: US family income, in US dollars, growth and distribution, by quintile, 2001-2005, 2005 US dollars

Lowest 20%

Second 20%

Middle 20%

Fourth 20%

Lowest level of top 5%

2001

$26,467

$45,855

$68,925

$103,828

$180,973

2005

$25,616

$45,021

$68,304

$103,100

$184,500

Difference

(4 years)

-$851

(-3.2%)

-$834

(-1.8%)

-$621

(-.01%)

-$728

(-.007%)

$3,527

(1.94%)

Source: US Census Bureau at www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/f01ar.html . (Over time, the Census Bureau refigures these amounts, so they have subsequently converted amounts to 2006 dollar values. These values are from their 2005 dollar values, and were calculated by the Census Bureau.) Differences and percentages calculated by author.

Thus, what we've seen under the first four years of the Bush Administration is that for at most Americans, their economic situation has worsened: not only has over all economic growth for any quintile slowed to a minuscule 1.94 per cent at the most, but that the bottom 80 per cent actually lost income; losing money (an absolute loss), rather than growing a little but falling further behind the top quintile (a relative loss). Further, the decrease across the bottom four quintiles has been suffered disproportionately by those in the lowest 40 per cent of the society.

This can perhaps be seen more clearly by examining CAGR rates by period.

We can now add the results of the 2001-2005 period share of income by quintile to our earlier chart:

Figure 5: Percentage of income growth per year by percentile, 1947-2005

Population by quintiles

1947-1973

1973-2001

2001-2005

Top 95 percentile

2.51%

1.66%

.48%

Fourth fifth

2.72%

1.25%

-.18%

Third fifth

2.84%

.92%

-.23%

Second fifth

2.73%

.62%

-.46%

Bottom fifth

2.64%

.48%

-.81%

Source: Calculated by author from data gathered from the US Department of the Census www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/f01ar.html .

As can be seen, the percentage of family income at each of the four bottom quintiles is less in 2005 than in 1947; the only place there has been improvement over this 58-year period is at the 95th percentile (and above).

Figure 6: Percentage of family income distribution by quintile, 1947, 1973, 2001, 2005.

Population by quintiles 1947 1973 2001 2005

Top fifth (lower limit of top 5percent, or 95th Percentile)-- $184,500

43.0% 41.1% 47.7% 48.1%
Second fifth--$103,100 23.1% 24.0% 22.9% 22.9%
Third fifth--$68,304 17.0% 17.5% 15.4% 15.3%
Fourth fifth--$45,021 11.9% 11.9% 9.7% 9.6%
Bottom fifth--$25,616 5.0% 5.5% 4.2% 4.0%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau at www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/f02ar.html .

What has been presented so far, regarding changes in income distribution, has been at the group level; in this case, quintile by quintile. It is time now to see how this has affected the society overall.

Sociologists and economists use a number called the Gini index to measure inequality. Family income data has been used so far, and we will continue using it. A Gini index is fairly simple to use. It measures inequality in a society. A Gini index is generally reported in a range between 0.000 and 1.000, and is written in thousandths, just like a winning percentage mark: three digits after the decimal. And the higher the Gini score, the greater the inequality.

Looking at the Gini index, we can see two periods since 1947, when the US Government began computing the Gini index for the country. From 1947-1968, with yearly change greater or smaller, the trend is downward, indicating reduced inequality: from .376 in 1947 to .378 in 1950, but then downward to .348 in 1968. So, again, over the first period, the trend is downward.

What has happened since then? From the low point in 1968 of .348, the trend has been upward. In 1982, the Gini index hit .380, which was higher than any single year between 1947-1968, and the US has never gone below .380 since then. By 1992, it hit .403, and we've never gone back below .400. In 2001, the US hit .435. But the score for 2005 has only recently been published: .440 (source: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/f04.html ). So, the trend is getting worse, and with the policies established under George W. Bush, I see them only continuing to increase in the forthcoming period. [And by the way, this increasing trend has continued under both the Republicans and the Democrats, but since the Republicans have controlled the presidency for 18 of the last 26 years (since 1981), they get most of the credit -- but let's not forget that the Democrats have controlled Congress across many of those years, so they, too, have been an equal opportunity destroyer!]

However, one more question must be asked: how does this income inequality in the US, compare to other countries around the world? Is the level of income inequality comparable to other "developed" societies, or is it comparable to "developing" countries?

We must turn to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for our data. The CIA computes Gini scores for family income on most of the countries around the world, and the last time checked in 2007 (August 1), they had data on 122 countries on their web page and these numbers had last been updated on July 19, 2007 (US Central Intelligence Agency, 2007). With each country listed, there is a Gini score provided. Now, the CIA doesn't compute Gini scores yearly, but they give the last year it was computed, so these are not exactly equivalent but they are suggestive enough to use. However, when they do assemble these Gini scores in one place, they list them alphabetically, which is not of much comparative use (US Central Intelligence Agency, 2007).

However, the World Bank categorizes countries, which means they can be compared within category and across categories. The World Bank, which does not provide Gini scores, puts 208 countries into one of four categories based on Gross National Income per capita -- that's total value of goods and services sold in the market in a year, divided by population size. This is a useful statistic, because it allows us to compare societies with economies of vastly different size: per capita income removes the size differences between countries.

The World Bank locates each country into one of four categories: lower income, lower middle income, upper middle income, and high income (World Bank, 2007a). Basically, those in the lower three categories are "developing" or what we used to call "third world" countries, while the high income countries are all of the so-called developed countries.

The countries listed by the CIA with their respective Gini scores were placed into the specific World Bank categories in which the World Bank had previously located them (World Bank, 2007b). Once grouped in their categories, median Gini scores were computed for each group. When trying to get one number to represent a group of numbers, median is considered more accurate than an average, so the median was used, which means half of the scores are higher, half are lower -- in other words, the data is at the 50th percentile for each category.

The Gini score for countries, by Gross National Income per capita, categorized by the World Bank:

Figure 7: Median Gini Scores by World Bank income categories (countries selected by US Central Intelligence Agency were placed in categories developed by the World Bank) and compared to 2004 US Gini score as calculated by US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

Income category

Median Gini score

Gini score, US (2004)

Low income countries (less than $875/person/year)

.406

.450

Lower-middle income countries (between $876-3,465/person/year)

.414

.450

Upper-middle income countries (between $3,466-10,725/person/year

.370

.450

Upper-income countries (over $10,726/person/year

.316

.450

As can be seen, with the (CIA-calculated) Gini score of .450, the US family income is more unequal than the medians for each category, and is more unequal than some of the poorest countries on earth, such as Bangladesh (.318 -- calculated in 2000), Cambodia (.400, 2004 est.), Laos (.370-1997), Mozambique (.396, 1996-97), Uganda (.430-1999) and Vietnam (.361, 1998). This same finding also holds true using the more conservative Census Bureau-calculated Gini score of .440.

Thus, the US has not only become more unequal over the 35 years, as has been demonstrated above, but has attained a level of inequality that is much more comparable to those of developing countries in general and, in fact, is more unequal today than some of the poorest countries on Earth. There is nothing suggesting that this increasing inequality will lessen anytime soon. And since this increasing income inequality has taken place under the leadership of both major political parties, there is nothing on the horizon that suggests either will resolutely address this issue in the foreseeable future regardless of campaign promises made.

However, to move beyond discussion of whether President Obama is likely to address these and related issues, some consideration of governmental economic policies is required. Thus, he will be constrained by decisions made by previous administrations, as well as by the ideological blinders worn by those he has chosen to serve at the top levels of his administration.

3) Governmental economic policies

There are two key points that are especially important for our consideration: the US Budget and the US National Debt. They are similar, but different -- and consideration of each of them enhances understanding.

A) US budget. Every year, the US Government passes a budget, whereby governmental officials estimate beforehand how much money needs to be taken in to cover all expenses. If the government actually takes in more money than it spends, the budget is said to have a surplus; if it takes in less than it spends, the budget is said to be in deficit.

Since 1970, when Richard Nixon was President, the US budget has been in deficit every year except for the last four years under Clinton (1998-2001), where there was a surplus. But this surplus began declining under Clinton -- it was $236.2 billion in 2000, and only $128.2 billion in 2001, Clinton 's last budget. Under Bush, the US has gone drastically into deficit: -$157.8 billion in 2002; -$377.6 billion in 2003; -$412.7 billion in 2004; -$318.3 billion in 2005; and "only"-$248.2 billion in 2006 (Economic Report of the President, 2007: Table B-78).

Now, that is just yearly surpluses and deficits. They get combined with all the other surpluses and deficits since the US became a country in 1789 to create to create a cumulative amount, what is called the National Debt.

B) US national debt. Between 1789 and1980 -- from Presidents Washington through Carter -- the accumulated US National Debt was $909 billion or, to put it another way, $.909 trillion. During Ronald Reagan's presidency (1981-89), the National Debt tripled, from $.9 trillion to $2.868 trillion. It has continued to rise. As of the end of 2006, 17 years later and after a four-year period of surpluses where the debt was somewhat reduced, National Debt (or Gross Federal Debt) was $8.451 trillion (Economic Report of the President, 2007: Table B-78).

To put it into context: the US economy, the most productive in the world, had a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $13.061 trillion in 2006, but the National Debt was $8.451 trillion -- 64.7 per cent of GDP -- and growing (Economic Report of the President, 2007: Table B-1).

In April 2006, one investor reported that "the US Treasury has a hair under $8.4 trillion in outstanding debt. How much is that? He put it into this context: " if you deposited one million dollars into a bank account every day, starting 2006 years ago, that you would not even have ONE trillion dollars in that account" (Van Eeden, 2006).

Let's return to the budget deficit: like a family budget, when one spends more than one brings in, they can do basically one of three things: (a) they can cut spending; (b) they can increase taxes (or obviously a combination of the two); or (c) they can take what I call the "Wimpy" approach.

For those who might not know this, Wimpy was a cartoon character, a partner of "Popeye the Sailor," a Saturday morning cartoon that was played for over 30 years in the United States . Wimpy had a great love for hamburgers. And his approach to life was summed up in his rap: "I'll gladly give you two hamburgers on Tuesday, for a hamburger today."

What is argued is that the US Government has been taking what I call the Wimpy approach to its budgetary problems: it does not reduce spending, it does not raise taxes to pay for the increased expenditures -- in fact, President Bush has cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans [xvi] -- but instead it sells US Government securities, often known as Treasuries, to rich investors, private corporations or, increasingly, to other countries to cover the budget deficit. In a set number of years, the US Government agrees to pay off each bond -- and the difference between what the purchaser bought them for and the increased amount the US Government pays to redeem them is the cost of financing the Treasuries, a certain percentage of the total value. By buying US Treasuries, other countries have helped keep US interest rates low, helping to keep the US economy in as good of shape as it has been (thus, keeping the US market flourishing for them), while allowing the US Government not to have to confront its annual deficits. At the end of 2006, the total value of outstanding Treasuries -- to all investors, not just other countries -- was $8.507 trillion (Economic Report of the President, 2007: Table B-87).

It turns out that at in December 2004, foreigners owned approximately 61 per cent of all outstanding US Treasuries. Of that, seven per cent was held by China ; these were valued at $223 billion (Gundzik, 2005).

The percentage of foreign and international investors' purchases of the total US public debt since 1996 has never been less than 17.7 percent, and it has reached a high of 25.08 per cent in September 2006. In September 2006, foreigners purchased $2.134 trillion of Treasuries; these were 25.08 per cent of all purchases, and 52.4 per cent of all privately-owned purchases (Economic Report of the President, 2007: Table B-89). [xvii] Altogether, "the world now holds financial claims amounting to $3.5 trillion against the United States , or 26 per cent of our GDP" (Humpage and Shenk, 2007: 4).

Since the US Government continues to run deficits, because the Bush Administration has refused to address this problem, the United States has become dependent on other countries buying Treasuries. Like a junky on heroin, the US must get other investors (increasingly countries) to finance its budgetary deficits.

To keep the money flowing in, the US must keep interest rates high -- basically, interest rates are the price that must be paid to borrow money. Over the past year or so, the Federal Reserve has not raised interest rates, but prior to that, for 15 straight quarterly meetings, they did. And, as known, the higher the interest rate, the mostly costly it is to borrow money domestically, which means increasingly likelihood of recession -- if not worse. In other words, dependence on foreigners to finance the substantial US budget deficits means that the US must be prepared to raise interests rates which, at some point, will choke off domestic borrowing and consumption, throwing the US economy into recession. [xviii]

Yet this threat is not just to the United States -- according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it is a threat to the global economy. A story about a then-recently issued report by the IMF begins, "With its rising budget deficit and ballooning trade imbalance, the United States is running up a foreign debt of such record-breaking proportions that it threatens the financial stability of the global economy ." The report suggested that net financial obligations of the US to the rest of the world could equal 40 per cent of its total economy if nothing was done about it in a few years, "an unprecedented level of external debt for a larger industrial country" according to the report. What was perhaps even more shocking than what the report said was which institution said it: "The IMF has often been accused of being an adjunct of the United States , its largest shareholder" (Becker and Andrews, 2004).

Other analysts go further. After discussing the increasingly risky nature of global investing, and noting that "The investor managers of private equity funds and major banks have displaced national banks and international bodies such as the IMF," Gabriel Kolko (2007) quotes Stephen Roach, Morgan Stanley's chief economist, on April 24, 2007: "a major financial crisis seemed imminent and that the global institutions that could forestall it, including the IMF, the World Bank and other mechanisms of the international financial architecture, were utterly inadequate." Kolko recognizes that things may not collapse immediately, and that analysts could be wrong, but still concludes, "the transformation of the global financial system will sooner or later lead to dire results" (Kolko, 2007: 5).

What might happen if investors decided to take their money out of US Treasuries and, say, invest in Euro-based bonds? The US would be in big trouble, would be forced to raise its interest rates even higher than it wants -- leading to possibly a severe recession -- and if investors really shifted their money, the US could be observably bankrupt; the curtain hiding the "little man" would be opened, and he would be observable to all.

Why would investors rather shift their investment money into Euro-bonds instead of US Treasuries? Well, obviously, one measure is the perceived strength of the US economy. To get a good idea of how solid a country's economy is, one looks at things such as budget deficits, but perhaps even more importantly balance of trade: how well is this economy doing in comparison with other countries?

The US international balance of trade is in the red and is worsening: -$717 billion in 2005. In 1991, it was -$31 billion. Since 1998, the US trade balance has set a new record for being in the hole every year, except during 2001, and then breaking the all time high the very next year! -$165 B in 1998; -$263 B in 1999; -$378 B in 2000; only -$362 B in 2001; -$421 B in 2002; -$494 B in 2003; -$617 B in 2004; and - $717 B in 2005 (Economic Report of the President, 2007: Table B-103). According to the Census Department, the balance of trade in 2006 was -$759 billion (US Census Bureau, 2007).

And the US current account balance, the broadest measure of a country's international financial situation -- which includes investment inside and outside the US in addition to balance of trade -- is even worse: it was -$805 B in 2005, or 6.4 per cent of national income. "The bottom line is that a current account deficit of this unparalleled magnitude is unsustainable and there is no hope of it being painlessly resolved through higher exports alone," according to one analyst (quoted in Swann, 2006). Scott notes that the current account deficit in 2006 was -$857 billion (Scott, 2007a: 8, fn. 1). "In effect, the United States is living beyond its means and selling off national assets to pay its bills" (Scott, 2007b: 1). [xix]

In addition, during mid-2007, there was a bursting of a domestic "housing bubble," which has threatened domestic economic well-being but that ultimately threatens the well-being of global financial markets. There had been a tremendous run-up in US housing values since 1995 -- with an increase of more than 70 per cent after adjusting for the rate of inflation -- and this had created "more than $8 trillion in housing wealth compared with a scenario in which house prices had continued to rise at the same rate of inflation," which they had done for over 100 years, between 1890 and 1995 (Baker, 2007: 8).

This led to a massive oversupply of housing, accompanied with falling house prices: according to Dean Baker, "the peak inventory of unsold new homes of 573,000 in July 2006 was more than 50 per cent higher than the previous peak of 377,000 in May of 1989" (Baker, 2007: 12-13). This caused massive problems in the sub-prime housing market -- estimates are that almost $2 trillion in sub-prime loans were made during 2005-06, and that about $325 billion of these loans will default, with more than 1 million people losing their homes (Liedtke, 2007) -- but these problems are not confined to the sub-prime loan category: because sub-prime and "Alt-A" mortgages (the category immediately above sub-prime) financed 40 per cent of the housing market in 2006, "it is almost inevitable that the problems will spill over into the rest of the market" (Baker, 2007: 15). And Business Week agrees: "Subprime woes have moved far beyond the mortgage industry." It notes that at least five hedge funds have gone out of business, corporate loans and junk bonds have been hurt, and the leveraged buyout market has been hurt (Goldstein and Henry, 2007).

David Leonhardt (2007) agrees with the continuing threat to the financial industry. Discussing "adjustable rate mortgages" -- where interest rates start out low, but reset to higher rates, resulting in higher mortgage payments to the borrower -- he points out that about $50 billion of mortgages will reset during October 2007, and that this amount of resetting will remain over $30 billion monthly through September 2008. "In all," he writes," the interest rates on about $1 trillion worth of mortgages or 12 per cent of the nation's total, will reset for the first time this year or next."

Why all of this is so important is because bankers have gotten incredibly "creative" in creating new mortgages, which they sell to home buyers. Then they bundle these obligations and sell to other financial institutions and which, in turn, create new securities (called derivatives) based on these questionable new mortgages. Yes, it is basically a legal ponzi scheme, but it requires the continuous selling and buying of these derivatives to keep working: in early August 2007, however, liquidity -- especially "financial instruments backed by home mortgages" -- dried up, as no one wanted to buy these instruments (Krugman, 2007). The US Federal Research and the European Central Bank felt it necessary to pump over $100 billion into the financial markets in mid-August 2007 to keep the international economy solvent (Norris, 2007).

So, economically, this country is in terrible shape -- with no solution in sight.

On top of this -- as if all of this is not bad enough -- the Bush Administration is asking for another $481.4 billion for the Pentagon's base budget, which it notes is "a 62 per cent increase over 2001." Further, the Administration seeks an additional $93.4 billion in supplemental funds for 2007 and another $141.7 billion for 2008 to help fund the "Global War on Terror" and US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan (US Government, 2007). According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), in 2006, the US "defense" spending was equivalent to 46 per cent of all military spending in the world, meaning that almost more money is provided for the US military in one year than is spent by the militaries of all the other countries in the world combined (SIPRI, 2007).

And SIPRI's accounting doesn't include the $500 billion spent so far, approximately, on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq .

In short, not only have things gotten worse for American working people since 1973 -- and especially after 1982, with the imposition of neoliberal economic policies by institutions of the US Government -- but on-going Federal budget deficits, the escalating National Debt, the need to attract foreign money into US Treasuries, the financial market "meltdown" as well as the massive amounts of money being channeled to continue the Empire, all suggest that not only will intensifying social problems not be addressed, but will get worse for the foreseeable future.

4) Synopsis

This analysis provides an extensive look at the impact of neoliberal economic policies enacted in the United States on American working people. These neoliberal economic policies have been enacted as a conscious strategy by US corporate leaders and their governmental allies in both major political parties as a way to address intensifying globalization while seeking to maintain US dominance over the global political economy.

While it will be a while before anyone can determine success or failure overall of this elite strategy but, because of is global-historical perspective, sufficient evidence is already available to evaluate the affects of these policies on American working people. For the non-elites of this country, these policies have had a deleterious impact and they are getting worse. Employment data in manufacturing, worsening since 1979 but especially since 2000 (see Aronowitz, 2005), has been horrific -- and since this has been the traditional path for non-college educated workers to be able to support themselves and their families, and provide for their children, this data suggests social catastrophe for many -- see Rubin (1995), Barnes (2005), and Bageant (2007), and accounts in Finnegan (1998) and Lipper (2004) that support this -- because comparable jobs available to these workers are not being created. Thus, the problem is not just that people are losing previously stable, good-paying jobs -- as bad as that is -- but that there is nothing being created to replace these lost jobs, and there is not even a social safety net in many cases that can generally cushion the blow (see Wilson, 1996; Appelbaum, Bernhardt, and Murnane, eds., 2003).

Yet the impact of these social changes has not been limited to only blue-collar workers, although the impact has been arguably greatest upon them. The overall economic growth of the society has been so limited since 1973, and the results increasingly being unequally distributed since then, that the entire society is becoming more and more unequal: each of the four bottom quintiles -- the bottom 80 per cent of families -- has seen a decrease in the amount of family income available to each quintile between 2001-05. This not only increases inequality and resulting resentments -- including criminal behaviors -- but it also produces deleterious affects on individual and social health (Kawachi, Kennedy and Wilkinson, eds., 1999; Eitzen and Eitzen Smith, 2003). And, as shown above, this level of inequality is much more comparable internationally to "developing" countries rather than "developed" ones.

When this material is joined with material on the US budget, and especially the US National Debt, it is clear that these "problems" are not the product of individual failure, but of a social order that is increasingly unsustainable. While we have no idea of what it will take before the US economy will implode, all indications are that US elites are speeding up a run-away train of debt combined with job-destroying technology and off-shoring production, creating a worsening balance of trade with the rest of the world and a worsening current account, with an unstable housing market and intensifying militarism and an increasingly antagonistic foreign policy: it is like they are building a bridge over an abyss, with a train increasingly speeding up as it travels toward the bridge, and crucial indicators suggest that the bridge cannot be completed in time.

Whether the American public will notice and demand a radical change in time is not certain -- it will not be enough to simply slow the train down, but it must turn down an alternative track (see Albert, 2003; Woodin and Lucas, 2004; Starr, 2005) -- but it is almost certain that foreign investors will. Should they not be able to get the interest rates here available elsewhere in the "developed" parts of the world, investors will shift their investments, causing more damage to working people in the United States .

And when this economic-focused analysis is joined with an environmental one -- George Monbiot (2007) reports that the best science available argues that industrialized countries have to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 90 per cent by the year 2030 if we are to have a chance to stop global warming -- then it is clear that US society is facing a period of serious social instability.

5) Conclusion

This article has argued that the situation for working people in the United States, propelled by the general governmental adoption of neoliberal economic policies, is getting worse -- and there is no end in sight. The current situation and historical change have been presented and discussed. Further, an examination and analysis of directly relevant US economic policies have been presented, and there has been nothing in this analysis that suggests a radical, but necessary, change by US elected officials is in sight. In other words, working people in this country are in bad shape generally -- and it is worse for workers of color than for white workers -- and there is nothing within the established social order that suggests needed changes will be effected.

The neoliberal economic policies enacted by US corporate and government leaders has been a social disaster for increasing numbers of families in the United States .

Globalization for profit -- or what could be better claimed to be "globalization from above" -- and its resulting neoliberal economic policies have long-been recognized as being a disaster for most countries in the Global South. This study argues that this top-down globalization and the accompanying neoliberal economic policies has been a disaster for working people in northern countries as well, and most particularly in the United States .

The political implications from these findings remains to be seen. Surely, one argument is not only that another world is possible, but that it is essential.

© Kim Scipes, Ph.D.

[Kim Scipes is assistant professor of sociology , Purdue University, North Central, Westville , IN 46391. The author's web site is at http://faculty.pnc.edu/kscipes .This paper was given at the 2009 Annual Conference of the United Association for Labor Education at the National Labor College in Silver Spring , MD. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Kim Scipes' permission.]

* * *

Note to labor educators: This is a very different approach than you usually take. While presenting a "big picture," this does not suggest what you are doing is "wrong" or "bad." What it suggests, however, is that the traditional labor education approach is too limited: this suggests that your work is valuable but that you need to put it into a much larger context than is generally done, and that it is in the interaction between your work and this that we each can think out the ways to go forward. This is presented in the spirit of respect for the important work that each of you do on a daily basis.

[Oct 01, 2017] I think we're seeing a regionalization of global power structures within the state system -- regional hegemons like Germany in Europe, Brazil in Latin America, China in East Asia

monthlyreview.org
Oct 01, 2017 | 20think%20we're%20seeing%20a%20regionalization%20of%20global%20power%20structures%20within%20the%20state%20system%20 -- %20regional%20hegemons%20like%20Germany%20in%20Europe,%20Brazil%20in%20Latin%20America,%20China%20in%20East%20Asia.

I think we're seeing a regionalization of global power structures within the state system -- regional hegemons like Germany in Europe, Brazil in Latin America, China in East Asia.

Obviously, the United States still has a global position, but times have changed. Obama can go to the G20 and say, "We should do this," and Angela Merkel can say, "We're not doing that." That would not have happened in the 1970s.

So the geopolitical situation has become more regionalized, there's more autonomy. I think that's partly a result of the end of the Cold War. Countries like Germany no longer rely on the United States for protection.

Furthermore, what has been called the "new capitalist class" of Bill Gates , Amazon , and Silicon Valley has a different politics than traditional oil and energy.

As a result they tend to go their own particular ways, so there's a lot of sectional rivalry between, say, energy and finance, and energy and the Silicon Valley crowd, and so on. There are serious divisions that are evident on something like climate change, for example.

The other thing I think is crucial is that the neoliberal push of the 1970s didn't pass without strong resistance. There was massive resistance from labor, from communist parties in Europe, and so on.

But I would say that by the end of the 1980s the battle was lost. So to the degree that resistance has disappeared, labor doesn't have the power it once had, solidarity among the ruling class is no longer necessary for it to work. It doesn't have to get together and do something about struggle from below because there is no threat anymore. The ruling class is doing extremely well so it doesn't really have to change anything.

Yet while the capitalist class is doing very well, capitalism is doing rather badly. Profit rates have recovered but reinvestment rates are appallingly low, so a lot of money is not circulating back into production and is flowing into land-grabs and asset-procurement instead.

Jul 23

[Oct 01, 2017] After Neoliberalism Empire, Social Democracy, or Socialism by Minqi Li

Collapse is indeed very slow as in 2017, or 13 years after the article was written neoliberalism remains dominant social system on the globe. Brexit and Trump victory were the only two major "confidence diminishing" events after the crisis of 2008.
Notable quotes:
"... A neoliberal regime typically includes monetarist policies to lower inflation and maintain fiscal balance (often achieved by reducing public expenditures and raising the interest rate), "flexible" labor markets (meaning removing labor market regulations and cutting social welfare), trade and financial liberalization, and privatization. These policies are an attack by the global ruling elites (primarily finance capital of the leading capitalist states) on the working people of the world. Under neoliberal capitalism, decades of social progress and developmental efforts have been reversed. Global inequality in income and wealth has reached unprecedented levels. In much of the world, working people have suffered pauperization. Entire countries have been reduced to misery. ..."
"... Human Development Report ..."
"... In many countries, working people have suffered an absolute decline in living standards. In the United States, the real weekly earnings of production and nonsupervisory workers (in 1992 dollars) fell from $315 in 1973 to $264 in 1989. After a decade of economic expansion, it reached $271 in 1999, which remained lower than the average real wage in 1962. In Latin America, a continent that has suffered from neoliberal restructuring since the 1970s, about 200 million people, or 46 percent of the population, live in poverty. Between 1980 and the early 1990s (1991–1994), real wages fell by 14 percent in Argentina, 21 percent in Uruguay, 53 percent in Venezuela, 68 percent in Ecuador, and 73 percent in Bolivia. 2 ..."
"... Under neoliberalism, governments have mostly pursued tight fiscal and monetary policies, restraining public spending. With liberalized financial markets, governments that run fiscal deficits are likely to be "punished" by private investors who may respond with capital flight and attacks on the currency. Therefore, governments (especially the governments of peripheral and semiperipheral countries) are under strong pressures to maintain fiscal balance by cutting expenditures. All neoliberal regimes seek to limit government expenditure. To summarize, in the neoliberal era, all three components of global effective demand are subject to strong downward pressures and have tended to either contract or stagnate. ..."
"... If the U.S. dollar is not going to depreciate against any other currency, why does the current account deficit have to be corrected? If the rest of the world's central banks keep intervening, flooding the world with their own currencies (euros, Japanese yens, and the Chinese renminbi) to prevent dollar depreciation, why cannot the United States run an ever-larger current account deficit for an indefinite period of time? It cannot go on indefinitely because the rising U.S. current account deficits absorb a growing proportion of the global saving. A theoretical limit will be reached when the entire world's saving is exhausted to finance the U.S. current account deficit. But the practical limit will be reached long before the theoretical limit. This course would raise U.S. and Japanese government debt to astronomical levels. These gigantic government debts would exist along with enormous household and corporate debts in the United States and Europe. ..."
"... To contain the explosion in the U.S. current account deficit, imports need to be reduced. One way is to reduce such key imports as motor vehicles and electronic goods by increasing their cost in U.S. dollars through a revaluation of the yen and the renminbi. This can only be achieved by political pressure, and it is being applied. Other substantial imports, such as clothing and footwear, cannot be reduced in quantity since U.S. producers no longer exist to supply the amount needed. Here costs can be contained by the relentless imposition of a "race to the bottom" -- the continual transfer of production to ever poorer and more desperate countries. Here some military force works wonders in enforcing neoliberal immiseration; consider the results of U.S. intervention in Nicaragua and Africa. But the key import is mineral fuels, and here the long-term cost can only be contained by U.S. control of the physical resources. The hand on the spigot that regulates production (and therefore price) must be controlled by the United States. This is one aspect of the economic benefits of U.S. global political power sought through military strength. ..."
"... But how can this imperialist project be financed? The costs of U.S. military expansion are likely to aggravate rather than alleviate the U.S. economic crisis. Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley asks the question: "Can a saving-short US economy continue to finance an ever-widening expansion of its military superiority?" His answer is: "The confluence of history, geopolitics, and economics leaves me more convinced than ever that a US-centric world is on an unsustainable path." 12 ..."
"... Whatever the economic "costs" or "benefits," U.S. imperialism is losing the political and ideological battle. According to the latest survey of the Pew Global Attitudes Project (based in Washington), "America's image around the world has taken a sharp turn for the worse." 14 The project of a U.S. global neoliberal empire based on force has ..."
Jan 01, 2004 | monthlyreview.org

Topics: Economic Theory , Political Economy , Stagnation

The author has benefited from discussions with David Kotz, Robert Pollin, James Crotty, Gerald Epstein, Leo Panitch, Gregory Albo, Samuel Gindin, and Patrick Bond.

Since the early 1980s, the leading capitalist states in North America and Western Europe have pursued neoliberal policies and institutional changes. The peripheral and semiperipheral states in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe, under the pressure of the leading capitalist states (primarily the United States) and international monetary institutions (IMF and the World Bank), have adopted "structural adjustments," "shock therapies," or "economic reforms," to restructure their economies in accordance with the requirements of neoliberal economics.

A neoliberal regime typically includes monetarist policies to lower inflation and maintain fiscal balance (often achieved by reducing public expenditures and raising the interest rate), "flexible" labor markets (meaning removing labor market regulations and cutting social welfare), trade and financial liberalization, and privatization. These policies are an attack by the global ruling elites (primarily finance capital of the leading capitalist states) on the working people of the world. Under neoliberal capitalism, decades of social progress and developmental efforts have been reversed. Global inequality in income and wealth has reached unprecedented levels. In much of the world, working people have suffered pauperization. Entire countries have been reduced to misery.

According to United Nations' Human Development Report , the world's richest 1 percent receive as much income as the poorest 57 percent. The income gap between the richest 20 percent and the poorest 20 percent in the world rose from 30:1 in 1960, to 60:1 in 1990, and to 74:1 in 1999, and is projected to reach 100:1 in 2015. In 1999–2000, 2.8 billion people lived on less than $2 a day, 840 million were undernourished, 2.4 billion did not have access to any form of improved sanitation services, and one in every six children in the world of primary school age were not in school. About 50 percent of the global nonagricultural labor force is estimated to be either unemployed or underemployed. 1

In many countries, working people have suffered an absolute decline in living standards. In the United States, the real weekly earnings of production and nonsupervisory workers (in 1992 dollars) fell from $315 in 1973 to $264 in 1989. After a decade of economic expansion, it reached $271 in 1999, which remained lower than the average real wage in 1962. In Latin America, a continent that has suffered from neoliberal restructuring since the 1970s, about 200 million people, or 46 percent of the population, live in poverty. Between 1980 and the early 1990s (1991–1994), real wages fell by 14 percent in Argentina, 21 percent in Uruguay, 53 percent in Venezuela, 68 percent in Ecuador, and 73 percent in Bolivia. 2

The advocates of neoliberalism promised that the neoliberal "reforms" or "structural adjustments" would usher in an era of unprecedented economic growth, technological progress, rising living standards, and material prosperity. In fact, the world economy has slowed towards stagnation in the neoliberal era. The average annual growth rate of world GDP declined from 4.9 percent between 1950 and 1973, to 3.0 percent between 1973 and 1992, and to 2.7 percent between 1990 and 2001. Between 1980 and 1998, half of all the "developing countries" (including the so-called "transition economies") suffered from falling real per capita GDP. 3

The global economy has been kept afloat by the debt-financed U.S. economy. Between 1995 and 2002, the U.S. economy accounted for 96 percent of the cumulative growth in world GDP. 4 The U.S. expansion has been financed by reducing domestic savings, raising the private sector debts to historically unprecedented levels, and running large and ever-rising current account deficits. The process is unsustainable. The enormous imbalances have to be corrected one way or the other. If the United States cannot continue to generate ever-rising current account deficits and none of the other large economies are capable of functioning effectively as the autonomous driving force, the neoliberal global economy will be under powerful downward pressures and exposed to the threat of increasingly frequent and violent financial crises.

The social and economic disasters brought about by neoliberalism have already led to pervasive and growing popular resistance. The further deterioration of global economic conditions might well push hundreds of millions of people beyond the threshold of tolerance. A global rebellion against neoliberalism and capitalism cannot be ruled out. Those who consider themselves to be on the left, progressives or revolutionaries, should be ready, first of all intellectually, for such a development.

Neoliberalism and Global Stagnation

Neoliberalism is not able to provide an institutional framework for sustained global capital accumulation. Neoliberalism undermines and dismantles the institutions set up to stabilize the capitalist economy and alleviate capitalist social contradictions. The capitalist global economy is therefore left exposed to increasingly frequent and violent financial crises. As the editors of Monthly Review put it: "Globalization under neoliberal regimes has meant in many ways the globalization of stagnation tendencies and financial crisis." 5

Global effective demand is the sum of global private consumption, global private investment, and global government expenditures. Under neoliberalism, global inequality has reached unprecedented levels and working people in many parts of the world have suffered from absolute pauperization. It follows that the purchasing power of the great majority of the world population has fallen or grown more slowly than world output.

Private investment in the face of global overcapacity stagnates, and private capital turns to speculation in financial instruments. As a result of financial liberalization, cross-border speculative capital flows have greatly increased, raising the danger of capital flight and financial crisis. Against such dangers, some central banks are forced to maintain high interest rates, in effect paying a risk premium to global finance capital. The average ratio of real interest rate to GDP growth rate in the seven leading capitalist economies was 0.97 between 1881 and 1913, 2.40 between 1919 and 1939, 0.36 between 1946 and 1958, 0.55 between 1959 and 1971, 0.47 between 1972 and 1984, and 2.34 between 1985 and 1997. It is worth noting that the real interest rate has been higher than the economic growth rate only in two periods, the interwar depression years and the neoliberal era. A ratio greater than one implies an inversion of the roles of productive and speculative investment, and is a signal of systemic crisis. 6

Under neoliberalism, governments have mostly pursued tight fiscal and monetary policies, restraining public spending. With liberalized financial markets, governments that run fiscal deficits are likely to be "punished" by private investors who may respond with capital flight and attacks on the currency. Therefore, governments (especially the governments of peripheral and semiperipheral countries) are under strong pressures to maintain fiscal balance by cutting expenditures. All neoliberal regimes seek to limit government expenditure. To summarize, in the neoliberal era, all three components of global effective demand are subject to strong downward pressures and have tended to either contract or stagnate.

The nineteenth century Marxists regarded the contradiction between socialized production and the capitalist system of private appropriation as the basic contradiction of capitalism. One may argue that the increasing socialization of production has found its expressions in the rising importance of fixed capital and the increasingly complex and interrelated financial structures. Since Keynes, many economists have understood that investment in fixed capital is subject to fundamental uncertainty and is often beyond the reach of rational calculation. The growing complexity of financial structures has greatly increased the chance that sudden movements in investors' confidence and psychological conditions may lead to drastic and substantial fluctuations of investment and through investment, the economy. To prevent capitalist economies from falling into deep recessions or depressions, it is necessary to have a "big government" that can function effectively as the macroeconomic stabilizer. 7

Neoliberalism, by pursuing financial liberalization and attacking the public sector, has significantly undermined and in some cases totally dismantled its stabilizing functions. The neoliberal era has seen increasingly frequent and violent financial crises. The Mexican crisis in 1995 was followed by the Asian Crisis in 1997, the Russian and the Brazilian crises in 1998, and the Argentine crisis in 2001. The role of the global macroeconomic stabilizer has been played throughout by the U.S. Treasury and by U.S. imports of goods and services increasingly in excess of U.S. exports; can this continue?

The U.S Financial Bubble and Imbalances

Without a large economy capable of generating some autonomous demand, the global economy might have already entered into a downward spiral. The U.S. economic boom in the second half of the 1990s and its large and growing trade deficit have functioned as counteracting forces against the generally contractionary tendencies of neoliberalism.

The U.S. economic boom was led by debt-financed private sector consumption and by a burst of corporate investment in "high tech." The private sector financial balance (incomes less expenditures) moved from the historically normal range of 3–4 percent of GDP to unprecedented negative territory, reaching negative 5.5 percent by the third quarter of 2000. Household and corporate sector debts as a percentage of GDP were at historical peaks. Households were willing and able to borrow at such a rate because of the great asset price bubble. Measured by indicators such as Tobin's "Q" (the ratio of market value of assets to replacement cost of capital) or by reference to price-earning ratios, the U.S. stock market bubble that reached its greatest expansion in 2000 is the most extreme in U.S. economic history. 8

When the stock market bubble burst, corporate sector spending slowed significantly (particularly in "high tech"). To avoid a deep recession, the U.S. general government fiscal balance has moved from a surplus of 1.4 percent of GDP to a deficit of 4.6 percent of GDP between 2000 and 2003, or a swing of 6 percent of GDP, and the U.S. Federal Reserve has lowered the short-term interest rate from 6.5 percent to 1.25 percent. Despite the dramatic loosening of fiscal and monetary policy, U.S. growth has been sluggish and employment stagnant. These policies have in effect helped to sustain the bubble. Household sector debt expansion has been sustained, the stock market bubble has not been fully deflated, and a housing market bubble is in turn approaching its peak.

The U.S. current account deficit, largely the result of a steadily increasing deficit in its international trade in goods and services, reached 5 percent of GDP in late 2002. For the capitalist world's hegemonic power to run a current account deficit on such a large scale is without historical precedent. By contrast, on the eve of the First World War, Britain ran current account surpluses close to 4 percent of GDP.

The U.S. current account deficits are matched by reciprocal capital inflows from the rest of the world. For the ever-rising U.S. current account deficits to continue, the rest of the world must be willing to hold an increasingly bigger proportion of their financial reserves in dollar-denominated assets. Stephen Roach, the chief economist of Morgan Stanley, points out:

Currently, about 75 percent of the world's total foreign exchange reserves are held in the form of dollar-denominated assets -- more than twice America's 32 percent share of world GDP (at market exchange rates). At the same time, foreign investors hold about 45 percent of the outstanding volume of US Treasury indebtedness, 35 percent of US corporate debt, and 12 percent of US equities. All of these ratios are at or near record highs. Never before has the world put more stock in America -- both as an engine of growth and as a store of financial value. The problem is that the math gets exceedingly tenuous if it is projected into the future. 9

Projections of current account deficits at current rates need not go far into the future to become "tenuous." According to one study by the Levy Economics Institute, under plausible assumptions, and supposing the U.S. economy to grow at a rate sufficient to lower the unemployment rate, the U.S. net foreign liability would reach more than 60 percent of GDP and the current account deficits could reach 8.5–9.5 percent of GDP before 2010.

Alternative Scenarios of Global Economic Crisis

There are four possible ways for the unsustainable growth in the U.S. current account deficit to be reversed. First, if the rest of the world grows more rapidly, indeed far more rapidly, than the current growth rate of the U.S. economy, there will be increased demand for U.S. goods and services, allowing U.S. exports to grow more rapidly to close the gap with the imports. Second, the U.S. current account deficit could be corrected by contracting U.S. domestic demand. Third, the explosive growth in the current account deficit may be corrected through adjustments in "relative prices" -- i.e., devaluation of the U.S. dollar. Finally, the exercise of political and military power might affect the components of the growth in the current account deficit in a manner favorable for the United States.

There is no prospect in the next several years of the first possibility, i.e., growth in the rest of the world at a significantly faster pace than current growth in the United States. The burden shall fall on the second and third options which, while achievable, pose immense risks.

Limiting domestic U.S. growth, and therefore imports and the trade deficit, by raising domestic interest rates is certainly within the theoretical ability of U.S. policy makers. Indeed this would be the "orthodox" IMF medicine administered to any other state on the planet were it to find itself in anything like the U.S. current account difficulties. But the United States is not like any other state on the planet, it is the hegemon. No institution exists to force such medicine upon it. And for the U.S. ruling elite, this course is not politically possible, at least at this stage of the electoral cycle. But of even greater concern are the dangers posed by the vast unprecedented accumulation of U.S. consumer and mortgage debt. Absent a surge in domestic growth, which would itself aggravate the current account difficulty, rising interest rates risk a wave of personal bankruptcies of Great Depression proportions.

The remaining option is dollar devaluation, and it is clear that a gradual and controlled devaluation is the policy preferred by the U.S. Treasury, and already being put into effect. The depreciation of the dollar makes U.S. goods cheaper and foreign goods more expensive for U.S. households and corporations. It helps to stimulate exports and dampen imports. However, dollar depreciation reduces U.S. demand for foreign goods and exports deflationary pressures to the rest of the world.

The Asian economies (Japan, China, and Southeast Asia) together run current account surpluses of $230–240 billion a year, or nearly half of the U.S. current account deficits. But the Asian economies have either pegged their currencies to the U.S. dollar or have intervened heavily to prevent currency appreciation. This leaves the burden of adjustment almost entirely on Europe.

The European economy has not been able to generate any expansion in domestic demand, and its growth has relied exclusively on exports. Europe's largest economy, the German economy, is in recession and such signs of growth as exist elsewhere are weak. Dollar depreciation therefore is particularly threatening for the European economies. Further, the Euro-area governments are constrained by the so-called "Stability and Growth Pact" which requires fiscal deficits no greater than 3 percent of GDP.

Financial circles have urged the European governments to pursue "structural reforms," bringing labor and product market policies to U.S. standards. "Structural reforms" will supposedly unleash productivity growth that "in the long run," will create conditions for vigorous demand expansion. From the point of view of financial capitalists, for vigorous accumulation to take place there has to be a dramatic improvement in profitability and capitalist confidence. For the capitalists to be confident, "structural reforms" have to take place to break the resistance of the working class. At this moment, it is not at all clear that the European capitalist class can decisively defeat the resistance of the working class. But if the so-called "structural reforms" are indeed carried out, their negative effects on domestic demand (through further attacks on working people's living standards) may very well overwhelm whatever "positive" effects they may have on the "long run" accumulation.

With the European economy stagnating, it is inconceivable that it can absorb enough U.S. exports to correct the U.S. current account deficit. A correction that depends entirely on dollar depreciation would require a catastrophic decline in the dollar's value. By some estimates, the dollar may need to fall by 30–50 percent. Such a decline would be politically, economically, and psychologically unacceptable. 10

If the U.S. dollar is not going to depreciate against any other currency, why does the current account deficit have to be corrected? If the rest of the world's central banks keep intervening, flooding the world with their own currencies (euros, Japanese yens, and the Chinese renminbi) to prevent dollar depreciation, why cannot the United States run an ever-larger current account deficit for an indefinite period of time? It cannot go on indefinitely because the rising U.S. current account deficits absorb a growing proportion of the global saving. A theoretical limit will be reached when the entire world's saving is exhausted to finance the U.S. current account deficit. But the practical limit will be reached long before the theoretical limit. This course would raise U.S. and Japanese government debt to astronomical levels. These gigantic government debts would exist along with enormous household and corporate debts in the United States and Europe. 11

How can these debts be financed? There are two possibilities. First, a global depression and widespread household and corporate bankruptcies may destroy much of the private debts. This is the historical solution that has obtained in all prior systemic crises of capitalism. In theory, as debt is devalued the conditions for a new cycle of capitalist accumulation on an even higher level gradually come to exist. But in the last such global depression such spontaneous recovery was inadequate, for reasons inherent in monopoly capital that are even stronger today. This option therefore supposes an extended period of depression. Whatever the outcome on this hypothesis one thing is certain, neoliberalism would be dead for a very long time, if not forever.

Secondly, the enormous private and public sector debts could be inflated away, that is, financed by printing money. Given the magnitude of the enormous debts to be inflated away, the inflation strategy may send the global economy into vicious cycles of hyperinflation and skyrocketing interest rates. If there is any one option ruled out by all of the various global ruling classes, it is this.

Towards an Imperial Solution?

Is there a solution to the crisis within the existing exploitative, oppressive framework? The U.S. economy is in deep crisis, and given the role it plays in the world economy much depends upon it. But U.S. imperialism continues to control the world's most powerful, unchallenged military forces. Can the U.S. ruling elite use its forces to build an exploitative empire, establish unprecedented political and military dominance over the world, and in the process manage its economic crisis? In fact, current U.S. policy is an attempt to do just that.

To contain the explosion in the U.S. current account deficit, imports need to be reduced. One way is to reduce such key imports as motor vehicles and electronic goods by increasing their cost in U.S. dollars through a revaluation of the yen and the renminbi. This can only be achieved by political pressure, and it is being applied. Other substantial imports, such as clothing and footwear, cannot be reduced in quantity since U.S. producers no longer exist to supply the amount needed. Here costs can be contained by the relentless imposition of a "race to the bottom" -- the continual transfer of production to ever poorer and more desperate countries. Here some military force works wonders in enforcing neoliberal immiseration; consider the results of U.S. intervention in Nicaragua and Africa. But the key import is mineral fuels, and here the long-term cost can only be contained by U.S. control of the physical resources. The hand on the spigot that regulates production (and therefore price) must be controlled by the United States. This is one aspect of the economic benefits of U.S. global political power sought through military strength.

The other aspect of any strategy to contain the unsustainable growth in the current account deficit needs to be an expansion of U.S. exports. Yet with the U.S. manufacturing base in terminal decline, only the prospect of monopoly prices for "intellectual property" offers hope. Here too the imposition of monopoly prices for the licenses, genetically modified seeds, pharmaceuticals, songs and movies, is a matter purely of political power based on military strength.

But how can this imperialist project be financed? The costs of U.S. military expansion are likely to aggravate rather than alleviate the U.S. economic crisis. Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley asks the question: "Can a saving-short US economy continue to finance an ever-widening expansion of its military superiority?" His answer is: "The confluence of history, geopolitics, and economics leaves me more convinced than ever that a US-centric world is on an unsustainable path." 12

Could the U.S. military expansion be financed by the expansion itself? Andy Xie of Morgan Stanley estimated that the direct and indirect effects of the U.S. occupation of Iraq could save the United States $40 billion a year in expenditures on oil imports. 13 Assuming these "benefits" are fully realized, that is only a fraction of the U.S. current account deficits.

But faced with the increasingly pervasive popular resistance in Iraq, the United States has not yet been able to realize any of these projected "benefits." Months after the so-called "major combat operations" ended and despite the fact that the United States has committed half of its entire regular army in Iraq, the United States is losing its grip on Iraq, unable to control the roads and borders, the water, and the electricity supply.

Out of the U.S. Army's thirty-three combat brigades, sixteen are now in Iraq, two are in Afghanistan, two are in South Korea, and one is in Kosovo. Of the twelve brigades in the United States, three are in modernization training, three are in reserve for possible war in Korea, and two are going to relieve the troops in Afghanistan. There are only four brigades left to relieve the sixteen brigades in Iraq. In effect, the United States has exhausted its entire regular army just to occupy such totally impoverished third world countries as Afghanistan and Iraq.

Whatever the economic "costs" or "benefits," U.S. imperialism is losing the political and ideological battle. According to the latest survey of the Pew Global Attitudes Project (based in Washington), "America's image around the world has taken a sharp turn for the worse." 14 The project of a U.S. global neoliberal empire based on force has already failed. Not because of internal limits in the working of capitalism alone, but because the attempt to avoid the economic crisis that neoliberal policies produce through global military dominance has already come up against its limits in popular resistance in Iraq. The crisis of neoliberalism shall follow.

... ... ...

Minqi Li Minqi Li was a political prisoner in China during 1990–1992. He teaches political economy at the Department of Political Science of York University, Toronto, Canada.

[Sep 26, 2017] Is Foreign Propaganda Even Effective by Leon Hadar

Highly recommended!
I think the key to collapse of Soviet society and its satellites was the victory of neoliberal ideology over communism. It was pure luck for neoliberalism was that its triumphal march over the globe coincide with deep crisis of both communist ideology and the Soviet elite (nomenklatura) in the USSR. Hapless, mediocre Gorbachov, a third rate politician who became the leader of the USSR is a telling example here. Propaganda, especially "big troika" (BBC, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America), also played a very important role in this. Especially in Baltic countries and Ukraine.
Domestic fake new industry always has huge advantage over foreign one in the USA and other Western countries, because of general cultural dominance of the West.
The loss of effectiveness of neoliberal propaganda now is the same as the reason for loss of effectiveness of communist propaganda since 60th. In the first case it was the crisis of communist ideology, in the second is the crisis of neoliberal ideology. Everybody now understands that the neoliberal promises were fake, and "bait and switch" manuver that enriched the tiny percentage of population (top 1% and even more 0.01%).
When the society experience the crisis of ideology it became inoculated toward official propaganda -- it simply loses its bite.
Notable quotes:
"... As the The Economist notes, a 2015 survey of the top 94 cable channels in America by the research firm Nielsen found that RT did not even make it into the rankings, capturing only 0.04 percent of viewers, according to the Broadcast Audience Research Board. ..."
"... RT has claimed dominance on YouTube, an assertion that apparently caught the attention of the U.S. intelligence community, which noted that RT videos get 1 million views a day, far surpassing other outlets. ..."
"... Or as media-effects theorists explain the communication process, the intentions of the producer (Soviet Union) and the conventions of the content (communist propaganda) were interwoven in a strategy aimed at influencing the receiver (the American audience). But the majority of Americans, with the exception of a few hard-core ideologues, interpreted the content of the message as pitiful Soviet propaganda, assuming they even paid attention to it. ..."
"... There is no doubt that Moscow, which regarded President Harry Truman as its leading American political nemesis, was hoping that Progressive presidential candidate Henry Wallace would win the 1948 election -- and had tailored its propaganda effort in accordance with that goal. That pro-Wallace campaign took place at a time when the American Communist Party still maintained some influence in the United States, where many Americans still sympathized with the former World War II ally and a large number of Soviet spies were operating in the country. But then Wallace's Progressives ended up winning 2.5 percent of the vote, less than Strom Thurmond's Southern segregationist ticket. ..."
"... Yet we are supposed to believe that by employing RT, Sputnik, Facebook, Twitter, and a bunch of hackers, the Russians could help their American candidate "steal" the 2016 presidential election. Is there any evidence that those white blue-collar workers and rural voters in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan -- the people who provided Trump with his margin of victory -- were even exposed to the reports distributed by RT and Sputnik, or by the memes constructed by Russian trolls or their posts on Facebook? ("Hey, did you watch RT last night?") ..."
"... Yet the assertion that a "silver bullet shot from a media gun" in the form of Russian propaganda was able "to penetrate a hapless audience" in the United States has been gaining more adherents in Washington and elsewhere. This conspiracy seems to correlate the intent of the Russian government and the content of their messages with the voting behavior of Americans. ..."
"... In a strange irony, those who are promoting this fallacious assertion may -- unlike their Russian scapegoat -- actually succeed in penetrating a hapless American audience. ..."
Sep 26, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Russians can dish it out, but don't expect Americans to swallow everything.

During the Cold War, it became an article of faith among Western policymakers and journalists: One of the most effective ways to discredit the leaders of Communist countries would be to provide their citizens with information from the West. It was a view that was shared by Soviet Bloc regimes who were worried that listening to the Voice of America (VOA) or watching Western television shows would induce their people to take political action against the rulers.

So it was not surprising that government officials in East Germany, anxious that many TV stations from West Germany could be viewed by their citizens, employed numerous means!such as jamming the airwaves and even damaging TV antennas that were pointing west!in order to prevent the so-called "subversive" western broadcasts from reaching audiences over the wall.

After the Berlin Wall collapsed in 1989, communication researchers studying public attitudes in former East German areas assumed that they would discover that those who had access to West German television!and were therefore exposed to the West's political freedom and economic prosperity!were more politically energized and willing to challenge the communist regime than those who couldn't watch Western television.

But as Evgeny Morozov recalled in his Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom , a study conducted between 1966 and 1990 about incipient protests in the so-called "Valley of the Clueless"!an area in East Germany where the government successfully blocked Western television signals!raised questions about this conventional wisdom.

As it turns out, having access to West German television actually made life in East Germany more endurable. Far from radicalizing its citizens, it seemed to have made them more politically compliant. As one East German dissident quoted by Morozov lamented, "The whole people could leave the country and move to the West as a man at 8pm, via television."

Meanwhile, East German citizens who did not have access to Western German television were actually more critical of their regime, and more politically restless.

The study concluded that "in an ironic twist for Marxism, capitalist television seems to have performed the same narcotizing function in communist East Germany that Karl Marx had attributed to religious beliefs in capitalist society when he condemned religion as the 'opium of the people.'"

Morozov refers to the results of these and other studies to raise an interesting idea: Western politicians and pundits have predicted that the rise of the Internet, which provides free access to information to residents of the global village, would galvanize citizens in Russia and other countries to challenge their authoritarian regimes. In reality, Morozov contends that exposure to the Internet may have distracted Russian users from their political problems. The young men who should be leading the revolution are instead staying at home and watching online pornography. Trotsky, as we know, didn't tweet.

Yet the assumption that the content of the message is a "silver bullet shot from a media gun to penetrate a hapless audience," as communication theorists James Arthur Anderson and Timothy P. Meyer put it, remains popular among politicians and pundits today, despite ample evidence to the contrary.

Hence the common assertion that a presidential candidate who has raised a lots of money and can spend it on buying a lots of television commercials, has a clear advantage over rivals who cannot afford to dominate the media environment. But the loser in the 2016 presidential race spent about $141.7 million on ads, compared with $58.8 million for winner's campaign, according to NBC News . Candidate Trump also spent a fraction of what his Republican rivals had during the Republican primaries that he won.

Communication researchers like Anderson and Meyers are not suggesting that media messages don't have any effect on target audiences, but that it is quite difficult to sell ice to Eskimos. To put it in simple terms, media audiences are not hapless and passive. Although you can flood them with messages that are in line with your views and interests, audiences actively participate in the communication process. They will construct their own meaning from the content they consume, and in some cases they might actually disregard your message.

Imagine a multi-billionaire who decides to produce thousands of commercials celebrating the legacy of ISIS, runs them on primetime American television, and floods social media with messages praising the murderous terrorist group. If that happened, would Americans be rallying behind the flag of ISIS? One can imagine that the response from audiences would range from anger to dismissal to laughter.

In 2013 Al Jazeera Media Network purchased Current TV , which was once partially owned by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, and launched an American news channel. Critics expressed concerns that the network, which is owned by the government of Qatar and has been critical of U.S. policies in the Middle East, would try to manipulate American audiences with their anti-Washington message.

Three years later, after hiring many star journalists and producing mostly straight news shows, Al Jazeera America CEO Al Anstey announced that the network would cease operations. Anstey cited the "economic landscape" which was another way of saying that its ratings were distressingly low. The relatively small number of viewers who watched Al Jazeera America 's programs considered them not anti-American but just, well, boring.

You don't have to be a marketing genius to figure out that in the age of the 24/7 media environment, foreign networks face prohibitive competition from American cable news networks like CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, social media, not to mention Netflix and yes, those online porno sites. Thus the chances that a foreign news organization would be able to attract large American audiences, and have any serious impact on their political views, remain very low.

That, indeed, has been the experience of not only the defunct Al Jazeera America , but also of other foreign news outlets that have tried to imitate the Qatar-based network by launching operations targeting American audiences. These networks have included CGTN (China Global Television Network), the English-language news channel run by Chinese state broadcaster China Central Television ; PressTV, a 24-hour English language news and documentary network affiliated with Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting ; or RT (formerly Russia Today), a Russian international television network funded by the Russian government that operates cable and satellite television channels directed to audiences outside of Russia.

After all, unless you are getting to paid to watch CTGN, PressTV, or RT -- or you are a news junkie with a lot of time on your hands -- why in the world would you be spending even one hour of the day watching these foreign networks?

Yet if you have been following the coverage and public debate over the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, you get the impression that RT and another Russian media outlet, Sputnik (a news agency and radio broadcast service established by the Russian government-controlled news agency Rossiya Segodnya ), were central players in a conspiracy between the Trump presidential campaign and the Kremlin to deny the presidency to Hillary Clinton.

In fact, more than half of the much-cited January report on the Russian electoral interference released by U.S. intelligence agencies was devoted to warning of RT's growing influence in the United States and across the world, referring to the "rapid expansion" of the network's operations and budget to about $300 million a year, and citing the supposedly impressive audience numbers listed on the RT website.

According to America's spooks, the coordinated activities of RT and the online-media properties and social-media accounts that made up "Russia's state-run propaganda machine" have been employed by the Russian government to "undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order."

And in a long cover story in The New York Times Magazine this month, with the headline, " RT, Sputnik and Russia's New Theory of War, " Jim Rutenberg suggested that the Kremlin has "built one of the most powerful information weapons of the 21st century" and that it "may be impossible to stop."

But as the British Economist magazine reported early this year, while RT claims to reach 550 million people worldwide, with America and Britain supposedly being its most successful markets, its "audience" of 550 million refers to "the number of people who can access its channel, not those who actually watch it."

As the The Economist notes, a 2015 survey of the top 94 cable channels in America by the research firm Nielsen found that RT did not even make it into the rankings, capturing only 0.04 percent of viewers, according to the Broadcast Audience Research Board.

The Times' s Rutenberg argues that the RT's ratings "are almost beside the point." RT might not have amassed an audience that remotely rivals CNN's in conventional terms, "but in the new, 'democratized' media landscape, it doesn't need to" since "the network has come to form the hub of a new kind of state media operation: one that travels through the same diffuse online channels, chasing the same viral hits and memes, as the rest of the Twitter-and-Facebook-age media."

Traveling "through the same diffuse online channels" and "chasing the same viral hits and memes" sounds quite impressive. Indeed, RT has claimed dominance on YouTube, an assertion that apparently caught the attention of the U.S. intelligence community, which noted that RT videos get 1 million views a day, far surpassing other outlets.

But as The Economist points out, when it comes to Twitter and Facebook, RT's reach is narrower than that of other news networks. Its claim of YouTube success is mostly down to the network's practice of buying the rights to sensational footage -- for instance, Japan's 2011 tsunami -- and repackaging it with the company logo. It's not clear, however, how the dissemination of a footage of a natural disaster or of a dog playing the piano helps efforts to "undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order."

It is obvious that the Russian leaders have been investing a lot of resources in RT, Sputnik, and other media outlets, and that they employ them as propaganda tools aimed at promoting their government's viewpoints and interests around the world. From that perspective, these Russian media executives are heirs to the communist officials who had been in charge of the propaganda empire of the Soviet Union and its satellites during much of the 20th Century.

The worldwide communist propaganda machine did prove to be quite effective during the Great Depression and World War II, when it succeeded in tapping into the economic and social anxieties and anti-Nazi sentiments in the West and helped strengthen the power of the communist parties in Europe and, to some extent, in the United States.

But in the same way that Western German television programs failed to politically energize East Germans during the Cold War, much of the Soviet propaganda distributed by the Soviet Union at that time had very little impact on the American public and its political attitudes, as symbolized by the shrinking membership of the American Communist Party.

Or as media-effects theorists explain the communication process, the intentions of the producer (Soviet Union) and the conventions of the content (communist propaganda) were interwoven in a strategy aimed at influencing the receiver (the American audience). But the majority of Americans, with the exception of a few hard-core ideologues, interpreted the content of the message as pitiful Soviet propaganda, assuming they even paid attention to it.

Soviet propaganda may have scored limited success during the Cold War when it came to members of the large communist parties in France, Italy, and Japan, as well as exploited anti-American sentiments in some third-world countries. In these cases, the intentions of the producer and the convention of the message seemed to be in line with the interpretations of the receivers.

There is no doubt that Moscow, which regarded President Harry Truman as its leading American political nemesis, was hoping that Progressive presidential candidate Henry Wallace would win the 1948 election -- and had tailored its propaganda effort in accordance with that goal. That pro-Wallace campaign took place at a time when the American Communist Party still maintained some influence in the United States, where many Americans still sympathized with the former World War II ally and a large number of Soviet spies were operating in the country. But then Wallace's Progressives ended up winning 2.5 percent of the vote, less than Strom Thurmond's Southern segregationist ticket.

Yet we are supposed to believe that by employing RT, Sputnik, Facebook, Twitter, and a bunch of hackers, the Russians could help their American candidate "steal" the 2016 presidential election. Is there any evidence that those white blue-collar workers and rural voters in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan -- the people who provided Trump with his margin of victory -- were even exposed to the reports distributed by RT and Sputnik, or by the memes constructed by Russian trolls or their posts on Facebook? ("Hey, did you watch RT last night?")

Yet the assertion that a "silver bullet shot from a media gun" in the form of Russian propaganda was able "to penetrate a hapless audience" in the United States has been gaining more adherents in Washington and elsewhere. This conspiracy seems to correlate the intent of the Russian government and the content of their messages with the voting behavior of Americans.

In a strange irony, those who are promoting this fallacious assertion may -- unlike their Russian scapegoat -- actually succeed in penetrating a hapless American audience.

Leon Hadar is a writer and author of the books Quagmire: America in the Middle East and Sandstorm: Policy Failure in the Middle East. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Washington Times, The Los Angeles Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and the National Interest.

The Color of Celery , says: September 26, 2017 at 1:20 am

For an example of the success of propaganda, look at Breitbart. The messages online during the 2016 election were pervasive and insidious. I think this post underestimates the threat by focusing on traditional media instead of social interaction.

RT covered Assange during the election better than other outlets.

It's easy to see everything from a personal perspective and forget that we are very diverse. We don't live in an ABC, CBS, and NBC world anymore, with information controlled. Changes in thought and belief happen online now, in many, many different venues.

polistra , says: September 26, 2017 at 3:39 am
A government that has confidence in its own support doesn't need to fight foreign information. In the '30s and '40s the US government encouraged shortwave listening, and manufacturers made money by adding SW bands to their radios. We were going through a depression and then a war, but our government was CONFIDENT enough to encourage us to understand the world.

Since 1950 the government has been narrowing the focus of external input because it knows that it no longer has the natural consent of the governed. TV and the Web are intentional forms of jamming, filling our eyes and ears with internally produced nonsense to crowd out the external info.

Meddlesome , says: September 26, 2017 at 7:44 am
The ones you have to worry about are those much closer to home – "inside the tent".

Friends in the UK, Canada, and Europe are appalled at the distorting effect Israeli propaganda has on American news sources, and how unaware of it typical Americans seem to be.

Indeed, it is odd and more than a little worrying that all the concern about "foreign meddling" has so far failed to engage with Israel, which is hands down the best funded, most sophisticated and successful foreign meddler.

The FBI annually reports that Israel spies on us at the same level as Russia and China. But we have yet to fully register that Israeli spying includes systematic efforts to influence American elections and policies, efforts that dwarf those of Putin's Russia both in scale and impact.

Fran Macadam , says: September 26, 2017 at 9:24 am
I think that the corporate masters of propaganda media and politics in these United States, have, in the words of